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Showing posts from March, 2009

Calling the Shot - Halfway there

Yesterday I posted about the Wagoner firing being a smokescreen --a bit of PR to throw a scapegoat before an angry mob weary of bailouts. Here are the options: Option 1) GM can build more inexpensive fuel-efficient green cars Option 2) GM can preserve UAW jobs, contracts, and legacy commitments Option 3) GM can be profitable Pick two. The math doesn't work out any other way. It is an impossibility. Analysis: Option #1 is pretty much a given under the current administration and Congress. CAFE standards and a near religious-like zealousness amongst the Democratic party base has pretty much settled this issue. I failed to state that, even though wildly improbable, my preferred method of dealing with this is that we back off the environmental jihad, and let American car companies make cars Americans want and turn a profit. However, GM building more fuel-efficient cars is a federal mandate, because anthropogenic climate change is for all intents and purposes a secular religion, and not

Calling the Shot...

Today the newspapers were free in Detroit. Not on the web, I mean free. Paper. They picked a helluva day to give away papers. Everyone had one in their hand today. The big red letters jumped off the page: U.S. SHREDS AUTO PLANS I have to agree with James Lileks who sent this out on Twitter today: Maybe I’m old-school, but “President fires CEO” looks as wrong as “Pope fires Missile.” Does not compute. The President has warned that filing bankruptcy may be necessary for GM and Chrysler, but I think this is just hot air, at least as far as GM is concerned. I mentioned that a Green American auto market is a pipe dream back in 2008 before the first bailouts, but I'll sum it up here. Here are the options: Option 1) GM can build more inexpensive fuel-efficient green cars Option 2) GM can preserve UAW jobs, contracts, and legacy commitments Option 3) GM can be profitable Pick two. The math doesn't work out any other way. It is an impossibility. Analysis: Option #1 is pretty much a gi

Smash the Collective!

It's one thing for Daniel Hannan to have done it. It's another thing for him to realize that he had done it. It's yet another thing for him to realize what it means that he had done it. And it is icing on the cake that he did it with an assault on state-controlled economies. He managed hurl a single well placed stone, and put a crack in collectivist notions of media, politics, and economy with just one shot. A British libertarian hurling well-pointed words at the Prime Minister may not be common, but it's not earth-shattering either. What's amazing is that it ginned up enough interest on the Internet that I've seen it on just about every news program tonight all the way over here on the other side of the Atlantic. Left to their own devices, the European press would never have covered it, let alone the American press. But, as Hannan writes in his blog today : When I woke up this morning, my phone was clogged with texts, my email inbox with messages. Overnight, th

All The News That's Too Big To Fail...

Sen. Banjamin Cardin introduces the newspaper bailout bill . I said it about the banks, I said it about the car companies, and it goes double for newspapers: Capitalism without failure is like Christianity without Hell. I have heard for the past year that capitalism has failed. What has failed is our understanding of capitalism. Investment banks shouldn't leverage themselves 40-to-1. No government oversight caught this problem. But the market did. And when it was revealed that the emperor had no clothes, the investment banks failed for their hubris and stupidity, only to be put on life support by the even greater hubris and stupidity of our government. Every time I hear a politician talking about how there was insufficient oversight of the banking industry, I hear it as an admission that planned economies can not work. Because there can never be enough oversight in a free and dynamic market. There is too much to oversee. The housing market was an artificial bubble for much of th

Rockefeller. Moron.

Jim Harper over at Cato lays out just how ridiculous Senator Jay Rockefeller's argument is . Even when the worlds best hackers take out some website like the DOJ or the CIA, it's their websites . That's like taking out their radio commercials. It's not critical infrastructure. Rest easy, the important stuff is locked safely away from the Internet freaky-freakies. I love me my Internets, but folks, we don't build critical infrastructure onto it, nor should we. To quote Harper, quoting Tim Lee : [S]ome mission-critical activities, including voting and banking, are carried out via the Internet in some places. But to the extent that that’s true, the lesson of the Estonian attacks isn’t that the Internet is “critical infrastructure” on par with electricity and water, but that it’s stupid to build “critical infrastructure” on top of the public Internet. There’s a reason that banks maintain dedicated infrastructure for financial transactions, that the power grid has a dedi

H/T James Effing Madison

Fed 44 : Bills of attainder, ex-post-facto laws, and laws impairing the obligation of contracts, are contrary to the first principles of the social compact, and to every principle of sound legislation. The two former are expressly prohibited by the declarations prefixed to some of the State constitutions, and all of them are prohibited by the spirit and scope of these fundamental charters. Our own experience has taught us, nevertheless, that additional fences against these dangers ought not to be omitted. Very properly, therefore, have the convention added this constitutional bulwark in favor of personal security and private rights; and I am much deceived if they have not, in so doing, as faithfully consulted the genuine sentiments as the undoubted interests of their constituents. The sober people of America are weary of the fluctuating policy which has directed the public councils. They have seen with regret and indignation that sudden changes and legislative interferences, in cases a

Tax the Rich!!

Tasty segment on Morning Joe today. Visit for Breaking News , World News , and News about the Economy Believe me, if you think that a highly progressive tax on individuals or businesses is soaking the rich, you are mistaken. It's only soaking the upper-middle class and small business owners. (You know, 3/4 of the job creation in this country.) Sure it's looks real good to the unaware electorate when they're told that the rich are being taxed more, but the truth is, they are not. The more complicated and progressive the tax code, the more loopholes the really rich can slide through. Meanwhile, small business, now "rich" by the current administration's definition, gets lit up, because they're too busy creating jobs, wealth, product, and services to devise creative ways to avoid taxation, yet aren't big enough to lobby for a loophole or an earmark.

(More) Singing the Strong, Light Works of Engineers

Huzzah, Engineers! I've been crudely paraphrasing Samuel C. Florman for about a decade now when it comes to mitigating man's impact on the environment: It won't be the neo-Luddites turning out lights and hugging trees that protect our environment, it will be scientists and engineers who devise the technology, and innovators who perfect it and make it affordable and desirable. Hopefully they will grow fat and rich on the gifts that their minds make to mankind. Provided that they're not compelled to Go Galt before then.

Cramer v. Stewart and Influence Peddling

Over on Big Hollywood, Dan Gifford puts together a nice piece about the now-fading flop between Jim Cramer and Jon Stewart. I've been a fan of both "Mad Money" and "The Daily Show" for some time now, and saw much of the brouhaha as it developed. I couldn't figure out why Stewart would go after Santelli, when he's didn't just tee off on mortgage bailouts, but corporate bailouts as well. It's fine for Jon Stewart to call Santelli wrong, but Stewart made him out to be a hypocrite, which is patently unfair. Then Cramer got in on the action, because Stewart's assault on Santelli had enough splash damage for all of CNBC. Like usual, Stewart's writers cherry-picked some segments from all across CNBC, and set them up out of context to look damning. It's funny, but it's not journalism. (Something Stewart will ardently agree with, when it works to his defense.) Cramer took exception, because he's been watchdogging Wall Street pretty l

Sunday Smackdown

I love my DVR. It lets me hit a party on Friday night, and still not miss the finale of Battlestar Galactica. More importantly (marginally) is that my DVR solves one of the greatest problems of my life: Watching both Meet the Press, and This Week without David Brinkley. Nonetheless, I am compelled to keep score and see which show shows up on top at the end of the year. You can see the running tally here . Enjoy!

The Gormogons: Followers à Gogo!

The Gormogons: Followers à Gogo! What a kind welcome from the Gormogons! They haven't taught me the secret handshake, yet, but here's the "About Us" section of their page: A secret society dedicated to the restoration of the Kingdom of Poland-Lithuania, the imprisonment of Esperanto speakers, and furthering the eschatological doctrine of the Return from Occultation of the Thirteenth Imam, Val Kilmer. They're having a good time with a tournament bracket of their posts . My final four picks? Already screwed up in the first round: Ghettoputer Region: "Canuckistan" Ecumenical Volgi Region: "Nuclear Effing Power" GorTechie Region: "Battlestar Galactica, New" then, ironically, in the Czar of Muscovy Region: "Dirk Benedict's Gonads" Sadly, Canuckistan was struck down in the first round. :-( Go enjoy the site. It smacks of ancient pre-HTML USENET irreverence.

What We Need Is a Diversion...

The TV news couldn't talk about anything today aside from AIG bonuses. I could rant and rave about this, but my betters have shown themselves as such. If you want to read about why taxing the bonuses at 90% is irrational, stupid, tyrannical, and most likely unconstitutional, click here . My short answer? You'd have to give me a helluva bonus to get me to work at AIG or Fannie or Freddie. Either you want the bailout to succeed for these companies, or you don't. You can't have it both ways. (Of course, if you didn't have a government propping up failing institutions, you wouldn't have to worry about this, would you?) Far more important, however, is this . The Fed is firing up the printing presses to the tune of 1.2 Trillion Dollars . $1,200,000,000,000.00 We're gonna re-inflate this bubble with, well, inflation. Here's hoping that the monetary folks are right, and that it's much easier to halt inflation than it is to halt deflation. The point is, we&#

The Smoking Gun

This can be posted pretty much without comment, but I can't help myself: Fannie Mae Eases Credit To Aid Mortgage Lending Context is everything isn't it? 10 years ago in the New York Times, this is a liberal highlight of a progressive government policy serving the minority community. Today, you could reprint it verbatim in the NRO, and it would be a damning indictment of a meddlesome government who doesn't understand the term "unintended consequences"

EPIC = Privacy Advocates, Now With Tinfoil Hats

Ryan Radia has a great post up over on the Technology Liberation Front (which is an all-around excellent site) about EPIC lobbing shots at Google. Now, I like EPIC as much as the next libertarian-leaning privacy advocate, but this is just over-the-top: EPIC has formally asked the Federal Trade Commission to open an investigation into Google's Cloud Computing Services -- including Gmail, Google Docs, and Picasa -- to determine "the adequacy of the privacy and security safeguards." Google copped to the mistake, corrected it, and published the details on their official blog. EPIC's first reaction is to call for FTC regulation? *headdesk* It's the Internet. We want reasonable control over our information, we don't want privacy to the point that we're all locked in caves, people. If the breach was so severe as to cause actual distress, then Google would face the wrath of its customers, which it isn't. Radia puts it best: There’s no reason for the FTC to i

Media in Crisis Reports on the Media in Crisis

RSM tipped me off to this . Go put a nickle in his tip jar. In Sunday's Washington Post, Kathleen Parker tosses in her two cents into the echo chamber that is The Media in Crisis talking about The Media in Crisis . I could simply tee off on her, but quite frankly, my anger reserves are running low, and pity is kicking in for traditional media folks. Instead, I'll try to share the good parts, and use the bad to illustrate the common errors that Traditional Media types are making. I'm sick of generating more heat than light. She starts with this line: The biggest challenge facing America's struggling newspaper industry may not be the high cost of newsprint or lost ad revenue, but ignorance stoked by drive-by punditry. No. The biggest challenge facing newspapers is two-fold: First, one problem that their industry solved and profited from--distributing information--is no longer a problem to be solved. Paper can not compete with the Internet as a distribution medium. This p

My Econ Professor Never Prepared Me For This...

Russell Roberts posts a bit of a followup to a great appearance with Arnold Kling. I have argued that economists generally came down on one side or the other of the stimulus package based not on their economic understanding but on their political and philosophical biases. I still believe that. I think we're in macroeconomically uncharted territory. Give the bloggingheads video a viewing, if you're into macroeconomics. The real reason I'm posting this here is, at one point, Kling is questioning the ability of econometrics to realistically measure real value. His claim is that much of the growth in the economy in the last 15 years isn't really growth. We have nothing to show for it. Most of that growth came from a rise in home values that weren't really there, and financial market shenanigans that also turned out to be a ponzi scheme. Then, when touting what we *do* have to show for the last 15 years--the very technology that he and Roberts were usin

To Tweet or Not to Tweet....

I love watching the usual crest-and-fall cycles of traditional media when it comes to technology. My favorite news show, Morning Joe, did a segment on Twitter, highlighting how everyone else in traditional media has done a segment on Twitter (talk about the Echo Chamber!). I know, it's on MSNBC, but before you conservatives flog me, read RSM's post here . Visit for Breaking News , World News , and News about the Economy Willie Geist and Dennis Kneale riff on what Twitter is and isn't. They, like most folks in news media ask the same three questions that, while important to those who make their living in the news industry, don't really matter to the non-news folks who use these tools to such personal advantage. 1) Is it just a fad? 2) How can we make money off of it like it was traditional media? 3) Where do people find the time to play with this stuff? Then today, Mika Brzezinski tweeted: Says twittering is thew epitome of narcissism. I think he may be rig

Cato on the Press

In June of 2008, Steve Boriss wrote an article for Cato's TechKnowledge entitled " The Future of News: A Golden Age for Free Speech ". It's a great read, reminding us that "The Press" once simply referred to a technology, not a profession. Thomas Jefferson had no interest in empowering a special class, "the press," who today present themselves as superior in their abilities to ferret out, understand, and communicate the single, correct way to look at things. Instead, he wanted our news to be filled with a multitude of alternative voices and opinions competing in a freewheeling marketplace of ideas. Now, I'm not going to jump on the bandwagon of bloggers who trash the press out of hand. Like Jeff Jarvis, I think we need more reporters, more editors, more generation of news. We bloggers need primary sources for news. How often can we write without linking to some other source? We simply want to (re-)join the public conversation that was so key to