Thursday, November 27, 2008

Physicians' Opinion of the Big 3 Bailout

The Allergists voted to scratch it, and the Dermatologists advised not to make any rash moves.
The Gastroenterologists had sort of a gut feeling about it, but the Neurologists thought the Administration had a lot of nerve, and the Obstetricians felt they were all laboring under a misconception.
The Ophthalmologists considered the idea shortsighted.  The Pathologists yelled, 'Over my dead body!'  While the Pediatricians said, 'Oh, Grow up!'
The Psychiatrists thought the whole idea was madness, the Radiologists could see right through it, and the Surgeons decided to wash their hands of the whole thing.
The Internists thought it was a bitter pill to swallow, and the Plastic Surgeons said, 'This puts a whole new face on the matter.'
The Podiatrists thought it was a step forward, but the Urologists felt the scheme wouldn't hold water.
The Anesthesiologists thought the whole idea was a gas, and the Cardiologists didn't have the heart to say no.
In the end, the Proctologists left the decision up to some assholes in Washington

Monday, November 24, 2008

Tiger Woods no longer has ties to GM

After nine years as Tiger Woods' benefactor, Buick will remove their logo from the bag of the the world's greatest golfer.  Does this mean he can drive his Maserati in public now?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) = Cognitive Dissonance on Auto-pilot

From the Rachel Maddow Show, November 20, 2008
(Starting at 6:1o minutes) 

Rachel Maddow:  Nobody wants the car makers to fail, but is giving them $25 billion just staving off the inevitable? 

Sen Stabenow: Well, I believe, first of all, that we can't allow them to fail because part of our energy future are those hybrid plug-in vehicles that will frankly get us off foreign oil much faster than drilling and when we look to the future in terms of manufacturing whether it's defense, whether it's aerospace, whether it's a multitude of other industries, autos are an incredibly important part of that and, you know, one out of ten people right now work directly or indirectly for the auto industry, so this is about American jobs and I really think it's about the backbone of the middle class.  So, do I think that everything will be fine after a $25 billion loan?  No, I think there are some tough times ahead, but we've got to help them get through a credit crunch that is facing the world.  Canada's helping their auto makers, Europe is helping their auto makers because of the credit crunch.  We need to get them with a bridge loan, and as the author of the re-tooling loans to green the auto industry, I'm very focused on ensuring that we move to the green technologies.  The great news is that the incoming president is also interested and very committed to doing that.  So I believe that that is going to happen.

Where do I start?

1. If plug-in hybrid technology is valuable, then surely that technology will survive whether or not GM, Ford and Chrysler survive.  If they all file Chapter 11, the patents would be assets with salable value.  To hold the salvation of all green technology as a reason to dump money into a failed company is pure silliness.  As far as "We can't let them fail...", save the drama Senator; they've already failed.

2. The defense and aerospace industries-- and the implication is that our national security-- is dependent on GM, Ford and Chrysler?  Sorry, Senator, I'm not buying into the fear-based BS from the left just as I never bought into the same BS from the militarist right.  US fighter pilots can drive Honda Civics to their airbases when it comes time to launch WW3.

3. Ah yes, the "one in ten jobs" meme.  These jobs must include travel agents and cab drivers and the guy who re-stocks the hot dog cooker at my local Speedway as part of "the auto industry", because the UAW only claims membership of 465,000  and even with all the suppliers and ancillary workers, it's hard to get anything close to even a fraction of 10% of the US work force.  This same stupidity about the "one-in-ten" is repeated by Republicans as well, and the stupid still burns my ears regardless of the source.  But even assuming so many workers are directly related to the auto industry, with the Big 3 gone the remaining car manufacturers will still need employees and parts suppliers.

4.  Canada and Europe are helping their auto industry.  Well, actually they are debating the same question that we are, but Canada has no domestic car maker and no UAW holding a gun to their head.  Europe's car makers are not nearly in the financial straits as our Big 3, but frankly I completely resent the bold-faced lie the Senator Stabenow throws out that implies the US is the only government that is not on board with a bail-out.

I realize that much of this debate centers around the labor costs associated with UAW plants and that while Honda and Toyota are struggling in the US, their cost of doing business is manageable mainly because they have less pension and health care burden due their employees and retirees.  I would argue that Hillarycare in 1993, or a reasonable facsimile, would have put all US industries on a more equal footing in regard to health care, but that's a moot point now.  I remember distinctly the debate back then about the costs of such a comprehensive plan... well, now we are bearing more of the cost of not having such a national health care plan.  Michigan recently lost a bid for a Toyota engine plant to Canada and one of of the main reasons cited was the Canadian national health insurance which obviated the need for Toyota to provide such insurance.

I'm not going to beat up the UAW too much here.  Labor unions have been at the forefront of getting reasonable working conditions and benefits for workers over the last couple hundred years.  Much of the advancement in working conditions is due directly to unions' influence.  The labor market has been screaming for comprehensive national health care for at least 20 years, and now we are seeing the damage that is done to our nation's industries because of the lack of such necessary care.  The UAW's raison d'etre would have been rendered pointless if we would have made health care a priority a generation ago.

As Rick Santelli has said on numerous occasions, a recession is an enema for a bad economy.  We need to flush out the poorly capitalized and mismanaged companies and allow the better run companies to take over market share.  Sure it hurts, but the pain now is much worse than the pain of having crappy companies on the public dole for another generation.  

My recommendation:  Take the $25 billion marked for the auto bailout and put it toward a down payment on a national health insurance plan for all workers.  Let GM sell it's plug-in hybrid technology to some other company that will make it work.  Chapter 11 and flush the toilet.

Maddow's interview with the Senator had both agreeing that anybody not willing to bailout the auto makers are only the "extremes" from the right and left.

Well, color me-- and most of the nation--  extreme.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

"This is one complicated mess."

I flipped on CNN just now and heard the reporter finishing her story with that line, "This is one complicated mess.  The next president will certainly have his hands full."

I was wondering, yeah it sure is.  I mean, gosh, there is certainly no easy solution to this mess... you know, none of the options are really that good.

Then I thought a few minutes as Wolf Blitzer mumbled something about Guantanamo Bay and how Obama is reaffirming his promise to close Gitmo.  Then Jay Carney started talking about the increasing number of people without health insurance, now at 47 million and sure to rise in a recession.      CNN reporters were saying that despite our multi-lateral talks, Iran has enough uranium to make a nuclear bomb and Israel is getting nervous. I switched over to CNBC to find out the stock market has dropped another 12% in just the last two days, and the guest pundit was saying that unemployment will be at a 25-year high very soon.  The banks are imploding, the auto makers want a hand-out, the polar ice caps are melting, the White Sox have no long relievers... where are the solutions!

Exactly what mess are they talking about?  What with all the noise and emotion, I didn't quite get which mess they were talking about.

So I switch over to Fox News to get the low down by the rational conservative cognoscienti.  And I hear Michelle Malkin bemoaning gay marriage advocates and the terrible burden it will place on the website.  The horror!

Thank you Ms. Malkin for realigning the national priorities.

Big 3 CEO's addicted to perks

Whenever I go begging for money, I fly coach.  But's that's just me.

(At left, facsimile of GM's private jet)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Let GM go Bankrupt, Part II

From Megan McArdle's site, one commenter,Will Allen, has nailed it:

One of the irritating features of discussions regarding this topic is how often protectionists describe the Chrysler bailout of nearly thirty years ago as being a "success", because the money was paid back with interest. The reality is that Chryler's failure [would have been] the best way to spur GM and Ford to fundamentally change their business model, and for the UAW's remaining membership to understand why the existing relationship with management was not viable in the long term.

Moral hazard.  Two years ago, Fortune magazine's Carol Loomis did an explicit point-by-point take down of GM that portrays a company that just doesn't get it.  So this is not some news flash that GM has had poor quality and outrageus labor cost for a long long time.  

On a related item, I have been having an email discussion with friends about this topic and the issue of "creative destruction" was broached.  The operative word is "destruction."  Government assistance is the opposite of destruction.  To truly allow an industry to experience the ravages of the free market, there will be be losers: people and businesses will literally need to go away so that lower cost, higher efficiency and more creative players can take their place, and that takes pain.

Whether the government comes in to subsidize farmers or auto workers or mortgagees or bankers, the free market is being compromised and the outcome is that the economy is left with less efficiencies and higher priced commodities, houses, consumer products or labor or whatever.

Creative destruction has not been allowed to occur in my lifetime, and if it had then maybe we would not be in the straits we are currently in.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008





GO AWAY!     GO-O-O!!!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Next Big Thing in Baseball

Dayan Viciedo (at left) is the hot prospect who defected from Cuba this year and has jsut been ruled eligible for free agency... so let the bidding begin.  According the Chicago Sun-Times:

If [White Sox] general manager Ken Williams has his wish, it will be with the Sox, filling a huge vacancy after Crede's expected departure.

There's a reason the South Side is becoming the new Little Havana; Williams first acquired Jose Contreras midway through the 2004 season, then signed Cuban defector Alexei Ramirez last offseason.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Let GM go bankrupt

Today, General Motors announced a greater than expected cash burn, and their dwindling liquidity will spell disaster without a federal bailout.

The case can be made that allowing GM to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy would be an orderly dismantling of a failed business model with atronomical labor costs.  Let them go.  This is far different from having a bank go out of business with a bank run.  

Chrysler's deal in the 1970's was a mistake.

Short term strength deteriorating

Good time to hedge any longs for the day.

It's Official: we've been soaking in a Recession

Government officials are loathe to use the "R" word, but this is confirmation of the obvious.

According to Bespoke:
After ten straight months of job losses, the NBER's head of the recession dating committee stated the obvious - the US economy is in a recession.  Looking on the bright side, though, by the time the NBER typically announces that a recession began, it is usually close to or already over.

Barnett likes Emanuel

Thomas P.M. Barnett, author of Pentagon's New Map and other global security analysis, give the new president-elect some advice:

"[Emanuel] is a Sharp guy who will run a tight ship.

Very good sign, in my mind.

You want sharp elbows in that spot.

Yes, the GOP will complain. What else is new?

My choices?

Summers as Treasury
Kerry as State
Hagel as Def (Gates won't stay)
Danzig as Nat Sec Adviser
Hamre as DNI
Susan Rice at UN

Please, no Powell! Be a man, Barack!"

Piling on Palin: "at war with EYE-ran"

Governor Palin intimates that we are "at war with EYE-rack and EYE-ran."

"OK, we're confident that we're going to win on Tuesday, so from there, the first 100 days, how are we going to kick in the plan that will get this economy back on the right track and really shore up the strategies that we need over in Iraq and Iran to win these wars?"

Just for old time's sake, let go to the video:

Think about the implications of this remark.  I realize that she may have mispoken, but imagine yourself an Iranian, even an Iranian who sympathizes with the US, hearing this comment and realizing that the comment went largely unheard by the US press and voters.  Palin either does not know who we are at war with, or is unbeleiveably careless about her speech, or she is hardwired to blurt out stupid warmongering comments.  Either way, this person is an imbecile and unfit to hold any office above county clerk.  The damage such misstatements do around the world is incalculable.

Imagine a vice-premier of Russia or China casually exclaiming that they are at war with the US, or to make the analogy more stark, imagine China has an occupying army in Canada where a couple hundred thousand Canadians have been murdered or maimed over a 5 year period, and the Chinese vice-premier makes these comments about US relations.

I know even Obama supporters will decry my lack of magnanimity by picking on Sarah Palin after she was handed an embarassing defeat only three days ago, but I would argue that her ticket received 46% of the popular vote... FORTY-SIX percent of the electorate thought this pea-brain was qualified to be vice-president and that the chowderhead who picked her was sane enough to be the President of the United States.

Who are these 46%?

(h/t Lapopessa)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Whether you love or hate Keith Olbermann...'ll love Ben Affleck's impression from Saturday Night Live:

Why did the youth (finally) vote?

Greg Mankiw, Harvard economist and former chairman of Bush's council of economic advisers:
It was largely noneconomic issues. These particular students told me they preferred the lower tax, more limited government, freer trade views of McCain, but they were voting for Obama on the basis of foreign policy and especially social issues like abortion. The choice of a social conservative like Palin as veep really turned them off McCain.
The future is brighter than I thought.

Obama the Sox fan

The new president-elect is an avid sports fan and is loyal to his hometown White Sox.  Kenny Williams, General Manager of the Whiste Sox, relates this story:
"I'm interested in all these questions of foreign policy and national security," Williams told the New York Times on Tuesday night while watching the election returns from the GM Meetings in Dana Point, Calif. "In between his games, shooting a couple of baskets, [Barack Obama] asks me, 'What about your pitching?' I said, 'Excuse me, you worry about national security, I'll worry about the pitching.' "

Maybe Mr. Obama was hoping for a tryout?

Since I spent so much time busting her chops...

I should at least present Elizabeth Hasselbeck at her most lucid.  

And Sherri has made me long for the first Italian-American president.  Maybe, someday.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

President Obama !!!!!

Lump in my throat.

Although I am not usually given to sentimentality, the cynicism is beginning to lift.

The cliche of  "an historic election" is old, but not tired.  We are living through history being made.   Jackie Robinson, move over.

Barack Obama is a good man and has all the makings of being a great president, and we need that now.  Sometimes I think it's okay to dream, this country is worth it.  If Senator Obama can deliver on just half the hope that he has inspired, he will indeed be the greatest president.

I realize that many on the other side are "worried" about socialism and terrorist threats.  These fears are, like most of their fears, unfounded.  They will always have fear, and I am proud that my country has stood up and said, "Enough!"  Barack Obama represents everything good about this nation and this world.  

He is a child of a new generation--my generation-- an idealistic soul welded to an elite intellect and a stellar work ethic, born of the an American immigrant tradition, raised by the fearless American optimism of his grandparents, trained in the greatest schools on the planet and elected by every demographic group in this wonderful country.

Not in my lifetime has the electorate seemed so positive-- people going to the polls to vote for someone as opposed to against someone else.  I admit that I supported Hillary Clinton during the primaries... in large part because I knew that her presidency would be a huge red-hot poker up the collective Republican asshole.  Sure, she is intelligent and would have been an estimable diplomat and capable bureaucrat but, alas, she would have continued the devisive politics of the past.

The President of the United State of America matters.  It's important to choose the right person... and we have.  Not someone to drink a beer with, but someone who will inspire and lead, who will make the right decisions.  Do I agree with everything Senator Obama proposes?  Hardly, but for the most part he will exercise careful judgment and surround himself with exemplary advisers... and I trust him to do the right thing.

Barack Obama, as Colin Powell has said, is a transformative figure.  As I see him speak tonight in my birthplace on the most beautiful lake in the world, I know I will choke up.  We need this man.  The world needs the United States to re-engage and be the leader again.  The poor need a president who considers their plight.  The middle class needs a government that promotes fairness and order.  In short, we do indeed need transformation.

This election has been exciting, as if new life has been breathed into this fearful bitter nation.  Fear and bitterness that we can overcome.

Something has died today:

My cynicism.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

President Ditka?

A short four years ago, Barack Obama was running for Senator in Illinois against the anemic Alan Keyes who was placed on the Republican ticket at the last minute due to a sex scandal involving Senator Jack Ryan and his wife, actress Jeri Ryan.  Remember?

Well, for a brief time former Bear Coach Mike Ditka was considering a run against Obama for that seat, and he surely would have garnered a significant vote total, perhaps even winning that landmark election.  Imagine.... 

Saturday, November 01, 2008

What's the deal with Palin's medical record?

Her campaign said they would release her records, but now it's 4 days to go... and nothing.  Is there something to hide?  Or are they obfuscating just to be Cheney-esque?

"Curisoity seekers"?  Hmmmm.   Very odd comment to make.

She is the only one of the four top candidates to refuse to release her health history.