Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Hey, why am I stuck over here on the left side of this post?


We've never put together our definitive list but I think it might be safe to say this guy makes the 3-people-as-dinner-mates-list cut.

Happy 100th birthday to a man who is our favorite economist and one of the great quote machines of all time.

Here are just a few of our favorites:

. Industrial progress, mechanical improvement, all of the great wonders of the modern era have meant little to the wealthy. The rich in ancient Greece would have benefited hardly at all from modern plumbing - running servants replaced running water. Television and radio - the patricians of Rome could enjoy the leading musicians and actors in their home, could have the leading artists as domestic retainers. Ready-to-wear clothing, supermarkets - all these and many other modern developments would have added little to their life. They would have welcomed the improvements in transportation and in medicine, but for the rest, the great achievements of western capitalism have rebounded primarily to the benefit of the ordinary person. These achievements have made available to the masses conveniences and amenities that were previously the exclusive prerogative of the rich and powerful.

o Free to Choose (1980) p.148

Think of how much has changed in our lives since the advent and broad-based usage of the internet in the past 15 years. And to think that all the first cell phones could do back in the 80s was make phone calls. Shoot, when was the last time you actually made a phone call on your smart phone?

. A major source of objection to a free economy is precisely that it ... gives people what they want instead of what a particular group thinks they ought to want. Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.

o Ch. 1 "The Relation Between Economic Freedom and Political Freedom", 2002 edition, page 15

We're looking at you, statists.

One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.

- Interview with Richard Heffner on The Open Mind (7 December 1975)

The road to hell is paved with statist intentions.

There is no place for government to prohibit consumers from buying products the effect of which will be to harm themselves.

Free to Choose (1980), segment Who protects the consumer?

Nanny Bloomberg, we're looking at you.

Wow, so many more. You know, to hell with it. It's the guy's hundy, so we may be sharing more quotes and videos from him as the week progresses. That's how important we feel him to be.

RINO Alert


For those Republicans out there that fear the party has been taken over by extremist elements led, in large part, by the tea party, can turn their lonely eyes to Brian Bilbray (R-San Diego) who is more than willing to throw your money away down the crap hole of green energy subsidies.

Rep. Brian Bilbray is winning praise from the solar industry for casting the sole Republican vote this week against efforts to dismantle the federal loan guarantee program for clean energy linked to the Solyndra debacle.

In the run-up to fall elections, many Republicans in Congress have embraced the "No More Solyndras Act," which would go beyond implementing safeguards to improve loan guarantees and dismantle the program altogether.

California-based solar panel manufacturer Solyndra received a half-billion dollar federal loan guarantee before filing for bankruptcy protection last year.

Bilbray participated in vote on a rough draft of the new legislation by the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power. The measure moved ahead 14-6 toward a possible House vote.

The Solar Energy Industry Association expressed its appreciation on Friday in a news release.

"It takes true vision and courage to ignore politics and take a principled, fact-based stand in support of renewable energy," said Rhone Resch, president of the umbrella trade group for solar manufacturing, distribution, research and financing.

Yes. What passes for vision and courage in D.C. is committing $537 billion dollars of tax-payer money on technology that isn't market-ready and which is owned, in part, by a presidential bundler. That Bilbray is some sort of maverick, or something.

So, who does the congressman think is to blame for the Solyndra fiasco?

Reached by phone, the congressman blamed "mid-management" at the Department of Energy for mishandling clean energy loan guarantees and asserted that his colleagues in the House were "blaming the vehicle" instead of the driver.

"The program is being thrown under the bus because people don't want to admit that it was administered horrendously," Rep. Bilbray said. "The program should be able to do great things if it's administered properly."

This is a prime example of willful ignorance. The decision to award Solyndra this money was made at the White House/cabinet level. Independent and Treasury Department auditors, pleaded with the Department of Energy and the White House not to make this loan - they rightly saw it as a bad bet - but ultimately, their pleading was to no avail.

And guess what? We will blame the driver and the vehicle. Yes, it was administered poorly and yes, it is a fatally-flawed concept. If Solyndra's ability to manufacture solar panels was a viable business plan then what do they need of tax-payer money?

As the Department of Energy's green energy loan program body count continues to mount (Solyndra, Abound Solar, Beacon Power, Ener1, Evergreen Solar, Range Fuels, Raser Technologies, Spectrawatt, Thompson River Power LLC; a partial list of companies that participated in the DOE loan program and which have all filed for bankruptcy), we are waiting to hear of one of its success stories and which will then beg the question if they could've succeeded without tax-payer assistance.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Is this that "new civility" we've been hearing about?


That took a lot longer than expected. Two and half weeks after the President's revealing statist-centric "You didn't build that" comments, supporters of the President are responding to his critics with... well, you tell us.

Here's Jonathan Chait:

Mitt Romney’s plan of blatantly lying about President Obama’s “you didn’t build that” speech is clearly drawing blood. But what makes the attack work so well is not so much the lie itself but the broader subtext of it.

The key thing is that Obama is angry, and he’s talking not in his normal voice but in a “black dialect.” This strikes at the core of Obama’s entire political identity: a soft-spoken, reasonable African-American with a Kansas accent. From the moment he stepped onto the national stage, Obama’s deepest political fear was being seen as a “traditional” black politician, one who was demanding redistribution from white America on behalf of his fellow African-Americans.

Speaking in a "black dialect"? Harry Reid would be so disappointed.

The President wandered off the teleprompter reservation, spoke what is truly in his heart, he was called out on it and now for doing so, those critics are accused of suddenly remembering he is a "traditional" black politician.

Leslie at Temple of Mut uses this graphic from The Princess Bride to sum up perfectly our feelings on the left's knee jerk reacton to criticisms of the President's policies

We guess we shouldn't be surprised but we are so often caught off guard by the level of vitrol and, well, hatred that is leveled at conservatives and libertatrians for holding views that have not been vetted by the political class.

Totally related to the blow-back from "You Didn't Build That" criticism, here's KT at the Scratching Post opining on the Chick-fil-A/gay marriage dust-up in a post titled The People You Hate Aren't Here:

I'm a Eucharistic Minister at our church. Last Sunday while distributing the Body of Christ, a couple of women who were almost certainly lesbians came up to receive the Host. They were given the Sacrament with as much love as everyone else. That happens all the time and the meaning of the action is totally lost on the progressives who long to hate us.

In Catholicism, there is nothing that compares to the Body and Blood of Christ. Nothing even comes close. Because we oppose gay marriage, we're frequently accused of hating gays. We don't. Not even a little. If we did, how could we share our most sacred thing with them? When we distribute Communion, it doesn't come with a lecture to each person or even a stern look. It comes with love and solemnity, not hate. Come and see who we are and you'll understand.

We believe in the traditional definition of marriage but if we were asked to vote on a Prop. 8-like measure again, we would most likely abstain from voting. Our own "evolved" thinking is that the government should not be in the business of dictating the terms of a sacred vow that is taken before God and man.

Besides, we'll cop to not really having the stomach for it. Our traditional marriage belief is not strong enough for possibly inviting being a target for the hatred and scorn we have seen heeped upon the Chick-fil-A organization for doing nothing visibly beyond serving fried chicken in neighborhoods across this country.

Instead, we have an atmosphere out there that is so toxic, the left is just this short of issuing scorecards to judge the political suitability of private enterprises its followers may wish to do business.

And this toxicness has now become so one-sided it had emboldened elected officials to act not as stewards of the rule of law in a constitutional republic rather as commissars in a totalitarian state. This is the most troubling aspect of all this: beliefs outside that which has been officially sanctioned by the ruling class are effectively criminalized.

A Republic if you can keep it, indeed.

Tales from Bailout Nation (cont.)


At our very first tea party rally in the spring of 2009, someone stuck a mic in our face and asked us why we were there. We had nothing prepared but it didn't take any deep thinking to know that what was being sold to the American public as a response to the recession was not going to work as it was simply more of the same:

"We're here because we were told that we got into this mess because we borrowed and spent beyond our means and now we are being told in order to get out of this mess we need to borrow and spend beyond our means".

This isn't 2007 and it doesn't appear people have learned anything from what got us into this debacle starting 4-5 years ago.

From Investors Business Daily:

President Obama has touted General Motors (GM) as a successful example of his administration's policies. Yet GM's recovery is built, at least in part, on the increasing use of subprime loans.

The Obama administration in 2009 bailed out GM to the tune of $50 billion as it went into a managed bankruptcy.

Near the end of 2010, GM acquired a new captive lending arm, subprime specialist AmeriCredit. Renamed GM Financial, it has played a significant role in GM's growth .

The automaker is relying increasingly on subprime loans, 10-Q financial reports shows.

Potential borrowers of car loans are rated on FICO scores that range from 300 to 850. Anything under 660 is generally deemed subprime.

GM Financial auto loans to customers with FICO scores below 660 rose from 87% of total loans in Q4 2010 to 93% in Q1 2012.

The worse the FICO score, the bigger the increase. From Q4 2010 to Q1 2012, GM Financial loans to customers with the worst FICO scores — below 540 — shot up 79% to more than $2.3 billion. The second worst category, 540-599, rose 28% from about $3.4 billion to $4.3 billion.

To be fair, we would like to know what other auto lenders are doing such as those affiliated with Toyota and Ford, companies that did not receive bailouts.

Is is it possible that subprime loans are being made simply because the recession has cut so deeply that not many people's credit has been able to be restored?

As it stands, a company in which we have sunk billions with scant hope of ever getting it back is engaging in the same risky practices that sunk our economic house of cards 4 years ago.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Who's up for more Chick-fil-A related goings-ons?


Mayor Bloomberg of New York City absolutely drives us nuts with his nanny state ways but with respect to the Chick-fil-A controversy he has been spot on:

Bloomberg said on his weekly radio show on WOR that it is inappropriate for a government entity "to look at somebody's political views and decide whether or not they can live in the city, or opehrate a business in the city, or work for somebody in the city."

The billionaire businessman-turned-politician was asked about comments from Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee criticizing Chick-fil-A.

Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy angered gay-rights advocates, including the mayors, when he said the company was "guilty as charged" for backing "the biblical definition of a family." He later added, "I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, `We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.'"

Emanuel said "Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values," and Menino wrote in a letter to Cathy: "There is no place for discrimination on Boston's Freedom Trail and no place for your company alongside it."

Lee tweeted Thursday: "Closest (hash)ChickFilA to San Francisco is 40 miles away & I strongly recommend that they not try to come any closer."
Bloomberg said Menino, Emanuel and Lee are "really are good mayors" but "trampling on the freedom to marry whoever you want is exactly the same as trampling on your freedom to open a store."

Richard Socarides, a New York lawyer and former Clinton White House adviser on gay rights who is urging a boycott of Chick-fil-A, said Bloomberg is right.

And as expected, Mark Steyn hits it out of the park:

As an exercise in sheer political muscle, it’s impressive. But, if you’re a feminist or a gay or any of the other house pets in the Democrat menagerie, you might want to look at Rahm Emanuel’s pirouette, and Menino’s coziness with Islamic homophobia. These guys are about power, and right now your cause happens to coincide with their political advantage. But political winds shift. Once upon a time, Massachusetts burned witches. Now it grills chicken-sandwich homophobes. One day it’ll be something else. Already in Europe, in previously gay-friendly cities like Amsterdam, demographically surging Muslim populations have muted leftie politicians’ commitment to gay rights, feminism, and much else. It’s easy to cheer on the thugs when they’re thuggish in your name. What happens when Emanuel’s political needs change?

Americans talk more about liberty than citizens of other Western nations, but, underneath the rhetorical swagger, liberty bleeds. When Mayor Menino and Alderman Moreno openly threaten to deny business licenses because of ideological apostasy, they’re declaring their unfitness for public office. It’s not about marriage, it’s not about gays, it’s about a basic understanding that a free society requires a decent respect for a wide range of opinion without penalty by the state. In Menino’s Boston, the Freedom Trail is heavy on the Trail, way too light on the Freedom.

Yeah, it's pretty easy to be all about free speech when that particular speech happens to meet with the approval of the political/ruling class of this country but that's why you need a 1st amendment, right? People tend to forget this country was first settled by folks who held religious views and practices that were at odds with the ruling class of their home countries.

We are 100% down with the exercise of free speech, freedom of assembly, boycotting and speaking out against what people may feel is injustice and range 0-100% down with seeing people make out in public (an alleged stunt to be performed by the protesters) depending on hotness. #Americanvalues. What we are 0% percent down with is thug politicians using their power in threatening to shut down businesses who are exercising those very free speech rights. #chicagovalues The 1st amendment was established precisely to protect that which may offend you and when the government forgets this principle, the guilty parties need to rode out of town on a rail, hopefully sooner than later.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Not so random thought(s) of the day


It seems we have been down this "You didn't build that" road before. Like, well over 200 years ago.

Via Ann Althouse:

Lord North: Look, if you colonists have been successful, you didn't get there on your own. You didn't get there on your own. I'm always struck by colonists and yeomen who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart.

George Washington: Without our consent, we reject your taxes.

Lord North: There are a lot of smart people out there in the New World. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking British subjects of the Crown out there.

Thomas Jefferson: Stop coercing us, Lord North. Your Acts are intolerable.

Lord North: If you yankees were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great King somewhere in your life. Some members of Parliament helped to create this unbelievable Royal Navy system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in French and Indian Wars and the East India Company.

Alexander Hamilton: The King is your king. He is only our king by our agreement.

Lord North: If you've got a medical practice or silver smithery or a cabinetmaking business -- you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. The printing press didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the printing press so that all the pamphleteers could make money off the printing press.

Sam Adams: Hey, Lord North, shove your Stamp Act where the sun don't set.

Lord North: All right, all right - everybody just calm down. In politics, we all tolerate a certain amount of spin. I understand these are the games that get played in political campaigns. Although when folks just, like, omit entire sentences of what you said, they start kind of splicing and dicing, you may have gone a little over the edge there, you pesky Americans.

And some observations on last night's opening ceremony of the London Olympic Games: outside of some cheeky moments involving Rowan Atkinson and the Queen Elizabeth/James Bond sequence, it was pretty much a snooze fest.

Oh, and you know we took notice of this from last night:

Hell, even the Chi-comms wouldn't use sick children doing tumbling routines on their hospital beds to propagandize a government program. Then again, forced sterilization and abortions would've cut down on the number of children needed so maybe they could've pulled it off.


Friday, July 27, 2012

Radio KBwD is on the air


Let's get right to it, shall we?

From Kingsland, Arkansas, it's Johnny Cash performing "Get Rhythm".


(We believe that is Luther Perkins, brother of Carl, backing Cash on the electric guitar)




Link of the day


B-Daddy of The Liberator Today puts forth what he believes are the goals of health care reform from a liberal perspective:

- Ensure everyone can afford health insurance.
- Ensure that those with pre-existing conditions are covered.
- Reduce the cost of health care to the average American.
- Ensure that any law doesn't reward corporations at the expense of taxpayers.

Now that is said, how did we get to where we are today with a bill so il-liberal that was supported by so many liberals?

B-Daddy has the deets, here.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Of Chick-fil-A, government tyranny and hypocrisy


Supporters of the Chick-fil-A ban in Chicago should hit pause, step back and assess for what they are really advocating.

By now, you are aware of the Chick-fil-A dust-up regarding their owner's remarks on supporting a traditional definition of marriage: "guilty as charged" he quoth.

Because of those remarks, Boston mayor Thomas Menino has told the Southern fried chicken outfit they are not welcome there in Boston (on the Freedom Way, ironically enough) and Chicago mayor, Rahm Emanuel has the back of a city alderman who has ominously warned that he would use his authority to deny a business permit to the chain should they attempt to set up shop in his district, claiming Chick-fil-A doesn't represent "Chicago values".

Menino has allowed himself some wiggle room by mere rhetorical saber-rattling but what is happening in Chicago is what is referred to in more polite circles as thuggery and tyranny, or as the mayor himself would describe as "Chicago values".

Threatening livelihood-harm to a business and a person for exercising their Constitutionally-protected 1st amendment rights ought to freak-out every single American, straight, gay or otherwise.

Obviously, we would all be united in singular outrage if, say, a Southern mayor denied a business permit to a fast food chain because the owner of that chain was an active supporter of gay marriage. Effectively, how is this any different?

It's apparent that Chicago doesn't produce too many Constitutional scholars, let alone anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of its intent. Alums of the Chicago politics that have moved on to national prominence have proven that beyond reasonable doubt.

The 1st amendment was established precisely to protect unpopular speech and thought. There would be no need for it if we all talked and acted in the "correct" manner, however, we are seeing more and more with one particular line of political thinking in this country, an intolerance and outright hostility to what they believe as existing outside the boundaries of what they have deemed "proper" speech and thought.

But back to "Chicago values". If you are wondering why it is that a city with over 300 murders to its credit since Jan. 1 is doing focusing on bullying a fast food chain, wonder no more as the cavalry is on the way.

To combat the violence on the street, Chicago's first Jewish mayor is rolling out the welcome wagon for none other than the Nation of Islam and its noted anti-Semite leader "Calypso Louie" Farrakhan to help combat the city's violence problem. You just can't make this stuff up.

In addition to his virulent racism, liberals and gay activists around the country would be pleased to know the man the mayor of Chicago has called upon to save his ass has similarly enlightened views regarding same-sex marriage.

On Sunday, May 27, Minister Louis Farrakhan spoke in San Diego, California, where he delved into a plethora of subjects, ranging from Mexican heritage to Israel’s alleged “war-mongering.” Among the topics he weighed in on, Farrakhan also took the time to tackle homosexuality and President Barack Obama’s recent endorsement of same-sex marriage.

The fiery Nation of Islam leader began by utilizing stories from both the Koran and the Bible to illustrate God’s views on same-sex attraction. He also made it overtly clear that, though he disagrees with the homosexual lifestyle, he isn’t afraid of gays and lesbians. In addition to attempting to convince the audience that homosexuality is sinful in nature, Farrakhan seemed particularly irritated that critics would label him a homophobe.

If you are scoring at home, in the liberalism mindset: racist, homo-phobic anti-Americanism is a suitable crime fighter for your city streets, however, job-creating, food-providing Southern-fried belief in traditional marriage will be told to take a hike.

Square that circle, gang.


The gift he keeps on giving


If Team O wants the "You didn't build that" dust-up to go away, they certainly aren't acting like it. If we aren't mistaken, this is the first time we've ever heard a President re-visit ill-advised comments and feel resigned to relate to us rubes precisely what it is that he meant.

The greatest orator in U.S. history explains:

(insert "shovel-ready" job joke, here)

Out of context? You decide. From... good lord... two weeks ago:

There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me, because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t -look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something – there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business. you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

(italics, ours, in case you weren't sure what all the commotion was about)

Not only are the criticisms valid because of the context of the comments, the criticisms are valid because that is precisely what you would expect a top-down, command and control, government-centric statist to say. That's who he is and no amount of backtracking and feeble attempts such as this to dig himself out of his self-made hole are going to convince folks otherwise.

His two greatest achievements, Porkulus and ObamaCare: odes to centralized planning at the expense of individual initiative and choice are the legislative epitomes of "You didn't build that (we did)". He can't help it - it's just who he is.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Your California high-speed choo-choo update



First, a seemingly unrelated bit from the biggest dingbat to ever wander the halls of Congress:


Of course, that was Speaker Pelosi who obviously had no clue herself what was contained within ObamaCare but just wanted it passed, dammit, legislative niceties, aside.

It seems not really knowing what's actually inside big, grand statist legislative schemes is catching because the affliction has appeared to hit the California high speed rail project as well.

Boston had their Big Dig and it's becoming evident the good people of San Franciso (of whom we can say: couldn't happen to a more deserving lot) have got one of their own.

From the SF Gate:

Now that Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation to allow the state to spend billions on high-speed rail, Bay Area residents had better brace for the real ride - a push for $650 million in toll hikes and new San Francisco taxes.

That's how much will be needed to help pay for a tunnel to connect the Transbay Terminal to the Caltrain station at Fourth and King streets.

As it turns out, none of the $2.5 billion in tunnel costs were included as part of the narrowly approved high-speed-rail deal.

It's up to the locals to make the tunnel happen. If they don't, the $68 billion high-speed-rail line from Los Angeles will dead-end several blocks from downtown proper.

Building the tunnel will put San Francisco in competition with those hoping to finish BART to San Jose - both projects will be tussling for $1.8 billion that the federal government will direct to the Bay Area in the coming years.

Just for work to start on the 1.2-mile dig through the heart of the city, however, the Bay Area has to come up with its own $650 million. The current plan is to raise $300 million from higher bridge tolls and $350 million in San Francisco sales-tax dollars.

"That's a reasonable estimation," said spokesman Randy Rentschler of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

José Luis Moscovich, executive director of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, said city voters could be asked for the $350 million as part of an overall transportation-tax extension within the next two years.

The date for when the Legislature and voters would be asked to approve another $1 toll hike to raise the $300 million in tunnel money is a bit more elusive. Although acknowledging that toll money would be needed for a San Francisco tunnel, Rentschler says there are no plans on the boards to seek an increase.

Even if all the money does come through and the tunnel gets dug, High-Speed Rail Authority boss Dan Richard says, the bullet train won't arrive in San Francisco until 2028 or so. Until then, the tunnel would be used only by Caltrain.

(italics, ours)

$650 million for a pie-in-the-sky project that may or may not get there by 2028. That's just how we do things in California and, in particular, Ms. Pelosi's district.

This West Coast big dig has a ring of familiarity to it. We're pressed for time but we'll check the archives as we have a sneaking suspicion that this is not breaking news rather something folks have been aware of for quite some time. We'll get back to you, accordingly.

A special h/t to Silvio Canto who turned us on to this via The American Thinker

What we've been tweeting


Tweet: After about 4 years, finally see that A-A constitutional scholar we've all been hearing about.

This in response to rapper/actor Ice-T's response to New York Mayor Nanny Bloomberg's completely insane public assertion that the NYPD go on strike until stricter gun control laws are passed.

From the New York Sun:

In the wake of the tragedy at Aurora, however, Ice-T fetched up on a television broadcast at Britain and, according to an account at Eonline.com, declared, “I’ll give up my gun when everybody else does” and explained that owning guns is legal in America. “It’s part of our Constitution,” Ice-T said. “The right to bear arms is because that's the last form of defense against tyranny.

Nothing more to add, here.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tales from Bailout Nation


In this case, it would be the tale.

For years, we have been chronicling the goings-on and happenstances of Bailout Nation and particularly that of TARP, the Troubled Assets Relief Plan. As long as tax-payers continue to bail out moneyed interests that should be allowed to sink or swim on their own, we will continue to do so but this post feels like a culmination of sorts.

The man charged with overseeing the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) as its Special Inspector General, Neil Barofsky, is coming out with a new book, "Bailout" which tells the story of his time serving in that capacity. TARP, initiated under President Bush was effectively the Wall Street bailout that was continued under the current administration and expanded far beyond its original scope to include everything from the Chrysler and GM bailouts to underwater home loan bailouts.

We have excerpted portions of an interview he did with the New York Times in advance of his book release.

As Mr. Barofsky writes, he had assumed that his assignment to oversee TARP meant that he should be fiercely independent from the Treasury Department, and vigilant against waste, fraud and abuse. But after canvassing other inspector generals for guidance, he writes, he learned of different priorities: maintaining and possibly increasing budgets, appearing to be active - and not making enemies.

"The common refrain went like this," Mr. Barofsky writes. "There are three different types of I.G.'s. You can be a lap dog, a watchdog or a junkyard dog." A lap dog is seen as too timid, he was told. But being a junkyard dog was also ill-advised.

"What you want to be is a watchdog," he continues. "The agency should perceive you as a constructive but independent partner, helping to make things better for the agency, so everyone is better off." He also learned, he says, that success as an inspector general meant that investigations come second. Don't second-guess the Treasury. Instead, "focus on process."

Thus the collision course was set between Mr. Barofsky and a crew of complacent, bank-friendly Treasury officials. He soon discovered that the department's natural stance of marching in lock step with the banks meant that he had to question its policies and programs repeatedly to ensure that taxpayers weren't at risk for fraud and abuse.

"The suspicions that the system is rigged in favor of the largest banks and their elites, so they play by their own set of rules to the disfavor of the taxpayers who funded their bailout, are true," Mr. Barofsky said in an interview last week. "It really happened. These suspicions are valid."

The failure of the underwater home loan bailout or HAMP (Home Affordable Modification Program) is explained as such:

Another skirmish involved the department's ill-conceived loan modification plan, known as the Home Affordable Modification Program. When the Treasury began discussing the program's outlines, Mr. Barofsky said he became concerned that it would open the door to fraudulent foreclosure rescue schemes, in which large upfront fees could be extracted from desperate borrowers eager to participate in what was supposed to be a free government program. When his office recommended fraud-prevention measures, several were ignored, he writes.

A few months after the modification plan was announced, his office began a preliminary audit of its rollout. "We soon verified what we had suspected," Mr. Barofsky writes. "Treasury had failed to ensure that the servicers had the necessary infrastructure to support a massive mortgage modification program." It barely got off the ground, and few homeowners have received the help they hoped for.

Barofsky explains that the Treasury Department/Wall Street relationship is the very epitome of regulatory capture whereby the regulatory nature of the department is gamed exclusively to favor the Wall Street financial firms and has become so self-serving that in Barofsky's words Washington had abandoned Main Street while rescuing Wall Street.
So, what's to be done to change the culture - to change the way the actual regulators do their jobs?

"We need to re-educate our regulators that it's O.K. to be adversarial, that it's not going to hurt your career advancement to be more skeptical and more challenging," he said. "It's implicit in so much of the regulatory structure that if you don't make too many waves there will be a job for you elsewhere. So we have to limit those job opportunities and develop a more professional path for regulators as a career. That way, they won't always have that siren call of Wall Street."

Barofsky doesn't expect any help to come from the Dodd-Frank law:

"So much of what's wrong with Dodd-Frank is it trusts the regulators to be completely immune to the corrupting influences of the banks," he said in the interview. "That's so unrealistic. Congress has to take a meat cleaver to these banks and not trust regulators to do the job with a scalpel."

And finally, because the system is rigged towards making sure Wall Street has a soft landing no matter what their transgressions, Barofsky sees the situation as ripe for another financial collapse.

Mr. Barofsky joins the ranks of those who believe that another crisis is likely because of the failed response to this one. "Incentives are baked into the system to take advantage of it for short-term profit," he said. "The incentives are to cheat, and cheating is profitable because there are no consequences."

Despite all of this, Mr. Barofsky ends on something of a positive note. Meaningful changes to our broken system may finally come about, he writes, if enough people get angry. His conclusion is this: "Only with this appropriate and justified rage can we sow the seeds for the types of reform that will one day break our system free from the corrupting grasp of the megabanks."

Terrific. The most heavily regulated industry in the nation is set up to take another dive precisely because of the regulatory regime under which it operates and a law that was supposed to fix things but has every appearance of further entrenching the same problems that led us to the disastrous results of 2008.

That old definition of insanity would appear to apply here.


Video clip of the day


Stockton, Mammoth Lakes and now San Bernardino; California cities that have all filed for bankruptcy.

Reason.com Managing Editor Tim Cavanaugh on Fox Business to discuss California's municipal debt crisis.

(appox. 5 minutes)

CALPERS (California Public Employees Retirement System) is heavily vested in the municipal bond market of which there is $167 billiion in obligations. If the CALPERS pension obligations, which are a source of state budgetary woe, are dependent upon municipal bond obligations, you can see where this goes death spiral pretty quickly.

As Cavanaugh says, Governor Jerry Brown has a plan but with all things in this state, seemingly, it lacks any sort of seriousness to attack the root cause of the problem which is completely unsustainable public employee pension obligations.

Goody that we here in San Diego have a front row seat for all of this.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Your California high speed choo-choo update


So, it begins. Four years after the voters of California said, "You know what we really need right now? (sorta) High-speed choo-choos", Governor Brown got the bond purchasing ball rolling last Wednesday.

Gov. Jerry Brown gave his approval Wednesday to spending billions of dollars in government money for a high-speed rail line that still faces major funding, environmental and political challenges before it could connect Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Brown was at historic Union Station in Los Angeles to celebrate the project and sign a bill authorizing California to begin selling $2.6 billion in bonds for construction of the initial 130-mile segment of the bullet train in the Central Valley. The move allows the state to tap $3.2 billion in federal funds for the project.

However, most of the money for the $68 billion project linking the two major cities has yet to be identified.

California voters approved $10 billion in bonds for the project in 2008, and the state's business plan calls for some backing from private investors and for a private operator to run the system without a state subsidy.

Supporters say it's rarely known upfront where all the money for such massive transit projects will come from.

News flash: We're no longer "upfront" anymore. We're 4 years into this thing and the charlatans running this show can't identify a single private investor.

The Democratic governor signed the bill, SB1029, at a carefully staged event where cheering politicians and unionized construction workers provided a striking contrast with the political fight last month in the state Senate, where the plan narrowly survived.

The first segment of the line will be financed by taxpayers, and Brown said there was strong interest from private companies in financing the rest of the project. He didn't provide any specifics on possible investment or name any of those firms.

"Private investment will come in the second phase," he said. "Private investment has worked in Europe, and it will work in this project."

The business plan by the California High-Speed Rail Authority, which is overseeing the project, relies on the private sector to "design, build, operate, and maintain a high-speed rail system that is funded by a combination of government investments and future revenues that support the investments of capital from the private sector."

Officials at the authority were unable to identify any future investors and instead released a written statement from Chief Executive Jeff Morales.

Here's where things go a little wonky: the firm that built the French rail system, SNCF, offered to come in and assist the California rail authority in designing the rail system as well as assisting in attracting potential private operators. Competent rail builders with some good ideas and a fresh set of eyes that might be able to bring in some people who would want to run this thing should it ever get built - sounds like something the rail authority might want to take advantage of. Of course, they were pretty much dismissed out of hand.

From the L.A. Times:

The approach, the French company said, would help the California High-Speed Rail Authority identify a profitable route, hold down building costs, develop realistic ridership forecasts and attract private investors - a requirement of a $9-billion bond measure approved by voters in 2008.

But SNCF couldn't get its ideas - including considering a more direct north-south route along the Central Valley's Interstate 5 corridor - out of the station.

Instead, the rail authority continued to concentrate planning in the hands of Parsons Brinckerhoff, a giant New York City-based engineering and construction management firm. Although they have occasionally consulted with high-speed railways, officials decided that hiring an experienced operator and seeking private investors would have to wait until after the $68-billion system was partially built. Last week, the state Senate approved - by a single vote - $8 billion to get construction underway.

"It's like California is trying to design and build a Boeing 747 instead of going out and buying one," said Dan McNamara, a civil engineer who worked for SNCF's U.S. affiliate. "There are lots of questions about the Parsons Brinckerhoff plan. The capital costs are way too high, and the route has been politically gerrymandered."

In order to reduce the cost of this project, Governor Jerry Brown took an axe to it cutting even providing electricity to power the trains on the initial set of tracks in the Central Valley. The Japanese company, Shinkasnsen, that operates the bullet train in that country was scared off by one of the cost-cutting measures: employing a "blended" approach whereby the high-speed choo-choos would, at times, use existing freight and passenger rails. This has tacked an hour on to the projected L.A. to San Francisco route; from just under 2 hours to now just under 3.

Scaring away builders and potential operators while not even having the ability to power that which you intend on building. Not bad for a cool (for now) $68 billion.

This is unfathomable. At the state level, never have we seen politicians so willfully throw around such a great amount of money for such dubious benefit.

We leave you with this bit of agitprop from the state's high-speed rail authority:

Hey, San Diego, there are currently no plans nor money to extend that rail line down here. And if it ever did, you're not going to Orange County and L.A., you're going to freaking Riverside and San Berdoo. Same goes for that bustling Merced to Sacramento corridor - it doesn't exist.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Quickies: the You Didn't Build That edition


A round-up of news items, articles, columns and blog posts that caught our eye this past week.

Iowahawk has recently unearthed a Genesis-like manuscript describing the beginnings of a planet in an alternate yet all-too-familiar universe.

1 In the beginning Govt created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the economy was formless and void, darkness was over the surface of the ATMs, and the Spirit of Govt was hovering over the land.

3 And Govt said, “Let there be spending,” and there was spending. 4 Govt saw that the spending was good, and that it separated the light from the darkness. 5 Govt called the spending Investments, and this he did in the first day.

6 Then Govt said, “Let there be roads and bridges across the waters, and let dams divide the waters from the waters.” 7 Thus Govt made the infrastructure and the patronage jobs for eternity under the firmament from the Potomac which was above the firmament; and it was so. 8 And Govt called the firmament Washington. This Govt did on the second day.

9 Then Govt said, “Let the regulations and the guidlines under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the Bureaus appear”; and it was so. 10 And Govt called the Bureaus demigovts, and the gathering together of them He called AFSCME. And Govt saw that it was good.

Read the rest here.

The President's water-carriers and surrogates keep trying to explain away or otherwise rationalize his comment but they were ultimately instructive because that is precisely his world view - it's who he is.

Here's Charles Krauthammer:

To say all individuals are embedded in and the product of society is banal. Obama rises above banality by means of fallacy: equating society with government, the collectivity with the state.

Of course we are shaped by our milieu. But the most formative, most important influence on the individual is not government. It is civil society, those elements of the collectivity that lie outside government: family, neighborhood, church, Rotary club, PTA, the voluntary associations that Tocqueville understood to be the genius of America and source of its energy and freedom.

Moreover, the greatest threat to a robust, autonomous civil society is the ever-growing Leviathan state and those like Obama who see it as the ultimate expression of the collective. Obama compounds the fallacy by declaring the state to be the font of entrepreneurial success. How so? It created the infrastructure — roads, bridges, schools, Internet — off which we all thrive.

Absurd. We don’t credit the Swiss postal service with the Special Theory of Relativity because it transmitted Einstein’s manuscript to the Annalen der Physik. Everyone drives the roads, goes to school, uses the mail. So did Steve Jobs. Yet only he conceived and built the Mac and the iPad.

The rationalizing is about the most shovel-ready job this administration has produced.

The 2012 Olympic games open this Friday evening in London, England. To ensure we are all in the proper international spirit, we are proud to provide our readers with the stylings of Michelle Jenneke, Australia's 110 meter hurdler.

Alas, Jenneke did not qualify for the London Games. You're welcome, none the less.

And is the IOC caving to international pressure by not honoring a moment of silence during the opening ceremonies on the 40 year anniversary of the murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the hands of Palestinian terrorists at the Munich Games?

International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge won't budge: There will be no minute's silence for the Israeli victims of the 1972 Munich massacre at the opening ceremony of the London Olympics.

Rogge rejected the latest calls Saturday for a special observance to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the murder of 11 Israeli athletes and coaches by Palestinian gunmen at the Munich Games.

"We feel that the opening ceremony is an atmosphere that is not fit to remember such a tragic incident," Rogge said.

The IOC has come under pressure from politicians in the United States, Israel and Germany to pay tribute to the slain Israelis during Friday's ceremony.

Gee, if still-somewhat reasonable outposts of sanity like the U.S., Germany and Israel are for it, one can only imagine the un-named cast of characters who have been lining up behind the scenes to oppose this.

Rogge's contention that the massacre will be honored in other forums at other times is weak soup. The most horrific event in the history of the Olympics needs to be remembered on the biggest stage. Anything other than the opening ceremonies is an absolute cop-out.

And not to be too flippant about it, this debate involves Ms. Jenneke as well. Cave on this, what else will you cave on?

James Taranto takes ABC News and "investigative" reporter (air quotes fully earned and warranted) Brian Ross to task for jumping to the conclusion that the Aurora, Colorado shooter James Holmes was a James Holmes who was involved with the tea party there in Aurora.

On ABC's apology:

This strikes us as insufficient. Simply as a matter of journalistic craft, the report was appallingly shoddy. Ross pointed the finger at an innocent man based on nothing but the coincidence of a common name and the man's residence in the same city of 325,000 where the crime took place.

Let us amend that. There was one other factor, and this is what makes the ABC error not just amateurish but sinister: the innocent Jim Holmes's involvement with the Tea Party. For more than three years liberal journalists have falsely portrayed the Tea Party as racist and potentially violent. After the January 2011 mass shooting in Tucson, Ariz., speculation immediately began that the suspect was a Tea Partier. Even after it was proved that he was not, the New York Times published a despicable editorial blaming conservatives anyway.

Ross and ABC were out on this limb alone. Either other journalists learned their lesson from Tucson, or it didn't occur to them to look for a political motive this time (it was a more plausible hypothesis in a shooting that targeted a politician).

It is reasonable to interpret Ross's hasty unsubstantiated report as an expression of hostility--bigotry--toward the Tea Party and those who share its values, which are traditional American ones. ABC's carelessness here is in sharp contrast with the way the mainstream media treat criminal suspects who are black or Muslim. In those cases they take great pains not to perpetuate stereotypes, sometimes at the cost of withholding or obscuring relevant facts such as the physical description of a suspect who is still at large or the ideological motive for a crime.

Oikophobia is no less invidious than other forms of bigotry. ABC and Ross have apologized for their irresponsible reporting, but they have something more to answer for here. Their careless and inadvertent falsehood was in the service of a big lie.

Taranto is right. For over 3 years, the legacy media has been fully vested in chasing a false and bigoted narrative. They so badly want for it to be true, they will sacrifice what ever shred of credibility they have left and endanger an innocent man's life while doing so. In a sense, it is the journalistic equivalent of SWAT-ting.

B-Daddy of The Liberator Today contends that the Obama administration is doubling-down on Nixonian thuggery:

Richard Nixon was rightly excoriated for keeping an enemies list. Barack Obama seems to have gone Nixon one better, keeping a kill list, of enemies, some of them U.S. citizens, that he can have whacked. However, because keeping an enemies list is just too much fun, Obama appears to have one of those as well.

Read more here.

Leslie at Temple of Mut has a great run-down of California ballot initiatives we will be asked to consider in November, here.

Here's David Harsanyi on the President's hostile-to-American-individualism comments:

Employing Obama's logic, one could argue that nearly everything the president uses in his everyday life exists only because of so-called profit-mongering and selfishness -- most often in spite of government. The Internet languished for years in obscurity because government is rarely sensitive to the needs of consumers. And does anyone believe that individuals working together voluntarily (maybe with the help of some fat cat private equity firms) would not have come up with similar technology -- or that they would be unable to build bridges or roads themselves?

Obama has it all backward. It is the charity of a prosperous free society that allows people to become community organizers or attain "free" health care. Washington rarely helps the free market prosper, but a prosperous private sector is what allows Washington to throw billions of dollars into unproductive but morally pleasing environmental projects and dependency programs favored by the president. Society needs the rule of law to function, not another parent.

Of course, Obama is not the first class warrior in politics. But has there ever been a major presidential campaign focused almost exclusively on ginning up class envy and fear (Teddy Roosevelt's third-party run excluded)? The attack on Romney also, almost exclusively, entails calling out the guy for being rich and then relying on the assumption that you can only get that wealthy by being corrupt.

It just struck us that the two people most responsible for whatever success we have had in life, our parents, weren't provided to us by the U.S. interstate highway system, the postal service or the Social Security Administration. Amazing. All that love and selfless devotion came from the heart and not a government program.

#They built that.

OK, gang. That's it for today. We'll see you all tomorrow.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Though following Patty Murray makes him look like the President of MENSA


You want a good look at obstruction? You want a look at gridlock in Washington D.C.? Here's Capt. Do-Nothing at a press conference trying to not really explaining why they didn't end the Bush tax cuts when they controlled by the House and the Senate for two years at the beginning of Obama's term.

"Shut up", he explained.

Via The Weekly Standard:

TWS: Leader Reid, when it comes to the Bush tax cuts…why didn’t Senate Democrats push through this bill back when you controlled the Senate, the House, and the presidency?

REID: The tax cuts weren’t about to expire then. So that’s why we’re doing it now.

TWS: You could have foreseen this issue two years ago.

REPORTER: What are you talking about? They expired at the end of 2010.

REID: And that’s why they were extended one year.

TWS: Why didn’t they vote when you could have pushed this bill through and had it signed into law?

REID: Next question.

That is what the Presiddent is running on. His entire campaign of class-warfare and divisiveness can't even be justified or explained by his Party's most powerful man on Capitol Hill. Making the rich pay their fair share or something was so important they never bothered to get around to it for the entirety of 2009 and 2010.

Seeing Murray and Reid up there and the combined intellecutal heft they possess, perhaps it's a good thing the Senate has become a collection of lay-about ne'er-do-wells.


Friday, July 20, 2012

Radio KBwD is on the air


If you hate country music, it's most likely because you hate modern country music radio. Yes, it stinks as glorified arena rock in torn blue jeans and a straw cowboy hat doth not country music make.


Years ago, we read where the same studio session guitar player had played on 15 of the top 25 country hits of that particular week. Because nothing says creativity and originality like the cookie-cutter sameness of the Nashville music factory.


Doing Lucinda Williams and Willy Nelson proud, please enjoy, out of Chicago, Freakwater performing "Good for Nothing".


And now for something a little different...


We were fortunate enough to be invited to be on Silvio Canto's internet radio show last night.

We spent the majority of the time talking California's high-speed choo-choos at the front end of the program and a little on Solyndra, Fisker and the Department of Energy's inept and corrupt green loan program right at the end of the show.

Link to webcast here.

Check it out if you get a chance.

Thanks to Silvio for the opportunity to be on and for being such a gracious host and also to Leslie of Temple of Mut for shepherding us through the process.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

The gift that keeps on giving


The President is still getting rightfully hammered* for his inane, idiotic and uninformed statement regarding small businesses. In case you've been living under a rock or are left-leaning and were unaware of the remarks and the fact that the President is an economic illiterate, here is what he told a campaign stop crowd in Roanoke, Va., last week.

There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me -- because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t -- look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. (Applause.)

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

The left's counter to the pointed criticism of not just the words but the overarching world view the President holds towards markets, free enterprise and capitalism that would produce those words is basically: Well, there goes those right-wing loons again, trashing the government and not wanting to pay any taxes for basic services such as roads, schools and national defense (that the government would limit themselves to that basic model).

B-Daddy of the Liberator Today provided a fine counter to the left's counter:

Where to start? This is rich, of course, coming from a guy who didn't build a thing, who didn't even get decent grades in college for all we know. But the outrage is really about his tone of arrogance in telling us that unless we support his big fat welfare state, we are being ungrateful to our third grade teacher. Entrepreneurs know who helped them and they already said thanks. And all of us know that some government is necessary. We know that government establishing a rule of law, including contract law, and preventing corruption are key features that allow business to succeed. We wouldn't mind paying for government that was limited, small and worked; a government that stayed within its constitutional boundaries and its means.

We wouldn't mind paying taxes if they actually built roads and dams. But as Mark Steyn reports, Obama's Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior has promised that "You will never see another federal dam." Ever.

We wouldn't mind paying taxes if they weren't squandered on green energy projects that lined the pockets of the President's campaign donors.

We wouldn't mind paying taxes if they weren't used to enable Mexican drug lords to gun down U.S. agents.

We wouldn't mind paying taxes if they didn't support an increasingly corrupt welfare state.

We wouldn't mind paying taxes if the government schools actually educated our kids.

We wouldn't mind paying taxes if the President supported the rule of law and didn't pass laws through executive order.

We wouldn't mind paying taxes if the military wasn't used as social experiment in diversity and biofuels.

We wouldn't mind paying taxes if state workers didn't have better salaries, benefits, pensions and job security than the average taxpayer.

We wouldn't mind paying taxes if the President wasn't so arrogant about demanding that we should pay more.

Well said, we think you would agree.

Solyndra, Beacon Power, A123 batteries, Fisker... they all didn't do it on their own, either. They had the help of hundreds of millions of tax dollars to assist them in their failings.

The Department of Energy's green energy loan program is simply a manifestation of the President's comments from last Friday. If success is defined by your relationship to the government, then, of course, the cronyistic, Peronist loan program makes perfect sense.

*It's now been a full 7 days and this thing still has legs. Good. It provides a stark contrast between a statist, confiscatory government-centric economy and a individual based one where innovation and hard work are rewarded. Guess which one tells the better (campaign) story?

Into the black (hole)


More good news from the Environmental-Industrial complex...

You know what's eating us about the Department of Energy being unable to locate $500 million worth of equipment? It's not necessarily the amount; that $535 billion we sunk into Solyndra is effectively missing as well and makes this case look almost like a rounding error. It's just that... well, read on, you'll find out.

An audit conducted by the Energy Department's Office of Inspector General was "unable to locate" $500,000 worth of equipment purchased with stimulus money by a recipient of funds distributed through the deparment's "Advanced Batteries and Hybrid Components Program," according to an audit report published by the OIG.

The DOE said it would not be "appropriate" to release the name of stimulus-money recipient where the $500,000 worth of equipment could not be located.

Pray-tell, why? It's our money, dammit. Or is this just some more of that new transparency this administration has promised us?

The program was given nearly $2 billion in stimulus funds "to support the construction of U.S. based battery and electric drive component
manufacturing plants." As of June, DOE had "expended" about $1.2 billion of that money and had made grants to "30 for-profit manufacturers," according to the July 10 audit report.

For-profit? Well, good for them. If they are indeed for-profit ventures then why are we subsidizing them with our tax dollars? Or is our subsidization being counted as revenue that pushes them into the black, if these manufacturers are indeed making a profit. In the world of Peronist picking winners and losers, these lines of accounting get awfully blurry.

From the OIG's audit:

The other two "conclusions and observations" in the audit were:

--"Better define regulations governing the retention of documentation supporting procurement decisions. Regulations currently require for-profit recipients to follow best commercial practices, but do not define such practices. One recipient in our sample had purchased about $24 million in equipment and services without adequately documenting purchasing decisions."

Our limited exposure to the acquisition rules end of things in our career in defense acquisition bears out that the government does allow for a bit of leeway in exactly how receipts are documented but they damn well had better have some ISO-approved system in place.

What strikes us about the DoE green loan program is just how poliiticized it has become. There is a zealous and near-maniacal pursuit in the green technology sector absent any regard for traditional business models. There aqppears to be absolutely zero regard for risk management, transparency, ethics, technological feasibility and return on investment. In short, ignored are the very factors that would sink, immediately, a privately-funded venture. Ventures like Solyndra, Beacon Power, A123 and SunPower are doing just that, yet with tens of billions of our tax-dollars being sunk along with them.

It is our fervent wish to see President Romney take a blow torch to this inept, failed and corrupt Department of Energy green loan program.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Your mid-week martini-worthy photo image



OK, gang. Hang in there - we're more than half-way there.

We always regretted he passed within a day of Ronald Reagan as it made it impossible for him to get his just propers. No way to make up for it now, but let's enjoy this national treasure just the same.


2:17 : Yeah, we were wondering where were the Raylettes.


Expecting different results?


Back in December of last year we reported out on the Navy's big biofuel push which started out with replacing a quantity of JP-5 which fuels the Navy's jets and helos. Here is what we said at the time:

The departments of Agriculture and the Navy announced plans Monday to buy 450,000 gallons of non-food biofuels -- at a cost of $16 per gallon -- in what will be the largest federal purchase of biofuels in U.S. history.

The purchase is being authorized by an executive order under the Obama administration's "we can't wait" campaign.

Administration officials gave no indication why they're not going through Congress, instead using a program that was established to promote rapid job growth by bypassing congressional debate.

Perhaps why Congress was not able to chime in on this decision was because the fuel that this biofuel is replacing, JP-5, which powers the Navy's jets and helos goes for about $4/gallon. Crazy theory, we know, but that might just explain it.

Back to real time: We went on to point out that one of the firms that was producing the biofuel was politically-connected. C'mon, you know where this is going. Back to December:

Two companies will participate in the program -- Louisiana-based Dynamic Fuels, a joint venture of Tyson foods and Syntroleum Corp, which makes biofuel from used cooking oil; and California based Solazyme, which makes fuel from algae.

Now we get to the part you've been waiting for:

Solazyme is not just any biofuels company, and its continued partnership with the Navy is not without crony connections. Its strategic advisor is T.J. Glauthier, Obama donor and part of President Obama’s transition team, as Solazyme’s website states:

TJ Glauthier is an advisor and corporate board member in the energy and “clean tech” sector. He advises companies dealing with the complex competitive and regulatory challenges in the energy sector today. He also served on President Obama’s White House Transition Team, where he focused primarily on the energy portion of the economic stimulus bill.

Here and now: Yeah, we are so cronying out our national security.

So, nearly 3 years after SecNav Ray Mabus* made the bold prediction that by the year 2020, half the Navy's fuel and power would come from green sources, how's all that working out?

On Wednesday, the Great Green Fleet is scheduled to make its first demonstration voyage in Hawaii, just as Mabus promised it would. But this is hardly the triumphant moment that the Navy Secretary depicted back in that hotel ballroom. Support for the Great Green Fleet — and for Mabus’ entire energy agenda — has collapsed on Capitol Hill, where both Republicans and Democrats have voted to all but kill the Navy’s future biofuel purchases. In the halls of the Pentagon, the Navy’s efforts to create a biofuel market are greeted with open skepticism. Even inside the environmental community, there’s deep division over the wisdom of relying on biofuels. And while the Navy has tried to deflect questions about the cost of its renewables push, a little-noticed Defense Department report shows that the Navy could spend as much as an extra $1.8 billion per year if it buys all the biofuel it’s pledged to burn.

Continue reading full article here:

The summary contains all the usual suspects but these paragraphs jumped out at us:

One reason why: Biofuel companies aren’t like high-tech firms that can start small and slowly scale up. A new biofuel refinery could cost anywhere from $65 to $300 million to build. (And that doesn’t even begin to address the costs involved with farming the land or transporting the product.) Investors are hesitant to lend out that kind of money without major customers who are committed to buy the fuel; customers are skittish about making those kinds of commitments until they know the biofuel-maker can actually deliver. Currently, there’s not a single commercial-grade biorefinery operating in this country (although several are in the works).

“You need that big anchor customer. And the Navy can afford a premium, because it knows how much petroleum really costs,” explains Brook Porter, an investment partner at the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, which has put more than $1.5 billion into so-called “clean tech” companies. For some of these firms, a big military contract could mean the difference between life and death.

A struggling, expensive industry that is dependent upon one big customer is ripe for the temptation of picking winners and losers and crony capitalism.

And at the end of the day, the Pentagon has simply worn out of Mabus' crusading for bio-fuels:

Even within the Pentagon, doubts about the program crept in. Top Defense Department officials, ordinarily supportive of green tech efforts, rolled their eyes when I asked about the Navy’s biofuel push. ”We’re not in the fuel production business. We’re not into scaling up new new fuels,” says Kevin Geiss, a former computational chemist now serving as the Air Force’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy.

You know, it's a shame we can't figure out this energy independence thing as we keep finding more and more of that black sticky stuff underneath us here in the good ol' US of A.

* Being in the shipbuilding industry, we've been able to see some of Mabus' maneuvering. To say he is a political animal would be an understatement of the highest order.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Not just a gotcha but a lifestyle


Who says we live strictly in a 24 hr. news cycle era?

Last Friday, the President in a campaign stop in Roanoke, Va. made the rather unfortunate remark, "If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made it happen".

That was Friday. Today is Tuesday and he's still getting rightfully hammered for it.

Here's some of our favorite responses from TUMBLR (via Instapundit):

Hey, it's our boy.

And here the President kind of goes Zelig.

And it looks like that idiotic statement finally lit a fire under Mitt:

To say something like that is not just foolishness, it's insulting to every entrepreneur, every innovator in America - it's wrong.

President Obama has attacked success, thus under President Obama we have less sucess and I will change that.

What the President said was both startling and revealing. I find it extraordinary that a philosophy of that nature would be spoken by a President of the United States.


Keep the slight stammer to enhance the incredulity factor.

Romney's exactly right. How can the leader of this country, above any other, make the free enterprise system that creates jobs, puts food on the table, children through college and raises people up out of grinding poverty that was the civilization-norm for 99.999% of humanity through history, sound like such a foreign concept? How can he get it so wrong?

Words like that can only be spoken by not only a person who has never run a business but even a person who hasn't done an honest day's work in his life.


What we've been tweeting


It was confirmed after we tweeted that this particular #hashtag originated as a Democratic party idea to allow young people to engage in some critical thinking with respect to their leaders.

Tweet: If #WhatObamataughtme originated w/Dems, it demonstrates their unwavering commitment not to this country rather a cult of personality. Sickos.

To be fair, we engaged in similar thought exercises while we were younger as well but it was in regard to a Jew living in Palestine some 2,000 years ago.

Dammit. They had to go there. They had to go there. And in response to this zonbiefied sycophantism, we're forced, as a Pavlovian response, to run this palate cleanser of grade-schoolers we can only assume for which that hashtag was intended to reach.


I pledge to be a servant to our President.

Time for that shower.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Not wanting a recession to go to waste


Well, we suppose the logical extension of claiming food stamps and unemployment benefits provide an economic stimulus is to use them as bait to get people on the voting rolls.

From Mickey Kaus:

Will the GOPs take advantage of Obama's new welfare weakness? The Obama Department of Agriculture has pulled the radio"novelas" that urged Spanish-speakers to wise up and get on the dole. ("In one of these, an individual tries to convince a friend to enroll in food stamps even though that friend declares: 'I don't need anyone's help. My husband earns enough to take care of us," says GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions, describing the novelas. "The first individual replies back: 'When are you going to learn?'")

Why is the USDA's retreat significant? Because it shows the administration is sensitive, in an election year, to being perceived as dismissive of the work ethic. Like a prize fighter who winces when you hit him in a sore spot, the Obamaites have revealed their weakness. If the Republicans' have any strategic sense they will now hit that sore spot again by making a big fuss about the Health and Human Service regulations that renege on the work requirements imposed on welfare recipients by the 1996 welfare reform law (and its successors). If Romney, Boehner and McConnell can't frame these regs as part (along with the food stamp push) of Obama's cavalier disregard for the value of work-in embarrassing contradiction to the image he portrayed in 2008-they should really retire to Austria with Denise Rich.

If you think merely getting more people on the dole is the real end game then we, unfortunately, believe you to be a tad naive. From an electoral standpoint, the Democrats are absolutely invested in creating a permanent underclass, dependent upon the Party for the unwarranted bennies as the Democrats are dependent upon them for their votes. Nice little arrangement they have worked out for themselves.

However, as we have stated in our previous post, the government in enticing people to eschew work in order to get food stamps is completely immoral. A government that encourages its people to sacrifice their independence and liberty in the name of sloth is not a government worthy of governing.

We hate to seem pessimistic or even conspiratorial, but what is it precisely that has you persuaded the Democrats don't think this recession is such a bad thing?

Graphic image of the day


Courtesy KT over at the Scratching Post:


Which was inspired by these words from The One at a campaign stop in Roanoke, Va., this past Friday:

There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me -- because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t -- look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. (Applause.)

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

(italics, ours)

We're baffled. It's such a completely different mindset that frames everything in such a context. A context that even beyond paying taxes for basic government services that delivers the mail, paves the roads and defends the coast (we could go on... they sure would like to will), there can be no individual success outside that which is defined by your relation to the government.

If you doubt us, recall it's this administration that claims as a success how many people they can put on food stamps and further, how unemployment benefits are somehow an economic stimulus.

It's no wonder these people are economic illiterates when, in a sense, they are moral illiterates as well. Yeah, we said it - because a philosophy whereby individual success is defined by the extent by which the government provided it, is immoral. And fealty to anybody beyond yourself and your Creator is inherently immoral as well.

As we recall, it is a government of the people and by the people and not the other way around. They seem to have flipped the script, wouldn't you say?