Friday, July 31, 2009

More on Cash for Clunkers

The government never, ever, runs anything well:
Far more drivers signed up for the "cash for clunkers" program than anyone thought, overwhelming showrooms, blowing through the initial $1 billion set aside by Congress and leaving dealers panicked over when or if the government would make good on the hefty rebates.

Confusion reigned, even as dollars flowed into dealerships starved for business for months.

The government Web site set up to process rebates of up to $4,500 per new car could not keep up with demand. Washington scrambled to come up with more cash and sent mixed signals about how the program would unfold.

"A borderline train wreck," said Charlie Swenson, general manager at Walser Toyota in Bloomington, Minn. In Glen Burnie, Md., Bob Bell, who owns Ford, Kia and Hyundai dealerships, said his employees were overwhelmed filing for reimbursement from the government's clunky system.

He compared the program to a military operation: "It is a disaster," Bell said. "We met our objective, but the losses were terrible."
Even as they screw up something as straightforward as car rebates, these same people are attempting to take control of a system as complex as healthcare. If they succeed, that borderline train wreck will be look like a success in comparison.
Wizbang posted this picture:

That's Cambridge Police Sergeant Crowley helping the man who called him a racist down the stairs. And that's President Obama striding in the front, helping nobody but himself. Wizbang blogger Kim Priestap has this to say:
The way powerful people treat those who have less power than they do said volumes about them. In this case, this picture tells us that the president simply can't be bothered to help his infirm friend down the stairs and instead leaves that task to the very police officer he belittled in front of the entire nation. This question is just begging to be asked: who's acting stupidly now?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

This is classic government in action. The feds want to boost the auto industry. So they create Cash for Clunkers. It's free money to the car buyer, right? And not surprisingly, it's been wildly successful. The government reaction to success is entirely predictable: CANCEL THE PROGRAM.
The White House said Thursday it was reviewing what has turned out to be a wildly popular "cash for clunkers" program amid concerns the $1 billion budget for rebates for new auto purchases may have been exhausted in only a week.
So the car dealers invest in advertising to move cars using government money, they succeed in creating demand, and the government pulls the rug out because they can't afford to keep the promise. And the same people want to run healthcare.

When will these idiots learn to stop messing with free markets? All they do is muck things up.

Update: They're not done messing around. The House managed to find another $2 billion under the cushions on their chairs. Where do they think all this money comes from?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Food for Thought

This bit of theater occurred at today's Sotomayor hearings:
Norma McCorvey, 61, of Texas, better known as "Jane Roe" in the famous Roe v. Wade case from January 1973, was arrested after she and another protester started yelling during the opening statement of Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), according to Capitol Police. McCorvey, whose pursuit of the right to access to abortion in the early 1970s led to the ruling that has been a pivotal part of every Supreme Court nomination process since, eventually become a notable opponent of the procedure.
It's odd theater, these proceedings. We have THE WOMAN responsible for universal abortion, renewed and protesting against it, while a professional comedian and three day old senator with no lawerly experience whatsoever sits on a committee reviewing a nominated justice to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Who could take this process seriously? And aren't you glad an intellectual giant like Al Franken is suddenly an integral part of this process?

Alison Meets the Stone People

We went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York over the July 4th weekend, and Alison enjoyed waving at the sculptures. Thankfully, none waved back.
Mark Steyn opines on the totalitarian nature of the leftwing agenda:
Beginning with FDR, wily statists justified the massive expansion of federal power under ever more elastic definitions of the commerce clause. For Obama-era control freaks, the environment and health care are the commerce clause supersized. They establish the pretext for the regulation of everything: If the government is obligated to cure you of illness, it has an interest in preventing you from getting ill in the first place — by regulating what you eat, how you live, the choices you make from the moment you get up in the morning. Likewise, if everything you do impacts “the environment,” then the environment is an all-purpose umbrella for regulating everything you do. It’s the most convenient and romantic justification for what the title of Paul Rahe’s new book rightly identifies as “soft despotism.”
Steyn also correctly points out that only very wealthy societies can sustain an environmental movement. It is only the excess capital created by efficient production of goods and services that allows large numbers of people to produce nothing of value.
The environmental cult is itself a product of what the prince calls the “Age of Convenience”: It’s what you worry about when you don’t have to worry about jobs or falling house prices or collapsed retirement accounts.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Back in December, President Obama named John Holdren to the post of "science czar." Predictably, the press was fawning:
U.S. President-elect Barack Obama on Saturday named Harvard physicist John Holdren and marine biologist Jane Lubchenco to top science posts, signaling a change from Bush administration policies on global warming that were criticized for putting politics over science.
Okay, now that we are putting science over politics thanks to Obama and his noble truth-seeking science ministers, what can we expect. Sadly, the answers come in a book authored by Holdren himself.

  • Women forced to abort their pregnancies.
  • The population sterilized by infertility drugs intentionally put into the nation's drinking water or food.
  • Single and teen mothers should have their babies seized from them and given away to other couples.
  • People who "contribute to social deterioration" required by law to exercise reproductive responsibility.
  • A transnational "Planetary Regime" should assume control of the global economy and also dictate the most intimate details of Americans' lives - using an armed international police force.

    It's a brave new world out there, and John Holdren is our Science Czar. Too bad nobody voted for him. Or any of Obama's myriad other czars.

    Still more here.
  • Friday, July 10, 2009

    Q: How many Mothers Against Drunk Driving Directors does it take to screw in a light bulb?

    Cherry Hill-based Flying Fish Brewing Co. (motto: "Proudly Brewed in New Jersey: You Got a Problem with That?") has undertaken an ambitious project of releasing a special beer in honor of turnpike exits, one at a time. […]

    That doesn't satisfy Mindy Lazar, executive director of New Jersey's chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. "The combination of a roadway and advertising for any kind of a beer doesn't make any kind of sense," she said. "This is almost a mockery."
    C’mon, Mindy, lighten up. They aren’t selling these beers at the exits. Do you really think the rest of us grownups are unable to distinguish between a clever marketing scheme and toll road?

    The entire article is here.

    Thursday, July 09, 2009

    I was reading this essay on art, beauty and desecration, and came upon an interesting passage:
    We are needy creatures, and our greatest need is for home—the place where we are, where we find protection and love. We achieve this home through representations of our own belonging, not alone but in conjunction with others. All our attempts to make our surroundings look right—through decorating, arranging, creating—are attempts to extend a welcome to ourselves and to those whom we love.
    This second example suggests that our human need for beauty is not simply a redundant addition to the list of human appetites. It is not something that we could lack and still be fulfilled as people. It is a need arising from our metaphysical condition as free individuals, seeking our place in an objective world. We can wander through this world, alienated, resentful, full of suspicion and distrust. Or we can find our home here, coming to rest in harmony with others and with ourselves. The experience of beauty guides us along this second path: it tells us that we are at home in the world, that the world is already ordered in our perceptions as a place fit for the lives of beings like us.
    It occurred to me that this is part of the struggle of the widowed; our home, meaning our place of peace, comfort, and beauty, was suddenly torn from us. And there is a period, as the author describes, of alienation, resent, suspicion, and distrust, not only with other people but with the world. Part of the grieving process, then, must be the struggle to rediscover or remake a home in the world. To again experience beauty and be reassured that, however temporary it may be, we are at home.
    In his article Delusions of Grandeur, Tait Trussel outlines the childish utopianism of the “green” movement.
    According to Obama, mandated technologies can not only provide jobs to help eliminate our dependence on foreign and even domestic petroleum – it can virtually overturn every problem since Original Sin. Obama’s “Green jobs” adviser Van Jones has presented this leftist agenda as a panacea for all of society’s problems: “We imagine formerly incarcerated people moving from jail cells to solar cells—helping to harvest the sun, heal the land, and repair our souls.”
    Heal the land and repair our souls? And if our souls don’t need repair, can we keep our cars? Trussel goes on to demonstrate that the much vaunted “green jobs” Obama is promising are kind of hard to put a finger on.
    The exact definition of a Green job is dubious. Positions can be considered Green merely because they fit the Left’s political priorities. The Mayors Report defines “government administration of environmental programs” as a source of Green jobs, for example “secretarial positions, bookkeepers, janitors, and lawyers.” The last is most disconcerting.
    That’s right, in Obamaland government administrators and lawyers are green job positions. Never mind that neither produces a dime’s worth of capital, they simply absorb it. And here’s an illuminating (no pun intended) item. Check out what the left considers to be an “alternative energy infrastructure”:
    The Mayors Report instead praises “additional investment” to “develop the nation’s alternative energy infrastructure” by using such items as wood waste, ethanol, used railroad ties, “and old utility polls.”
    Time to invest in used railroad ties and old utility pole futures, baby, cause that’s the energy of the future! One would almost call them childlike in their naiveté if they weren’t running the show in DC. But Greens aren't just childlike, they are negative and nasty.

  • They view human productivity as a negative attribute: “a negative feature of today’s economy is that it has increased labor productivity and so reduced the amount of labor necessary to deliver goods and services.”

  • They are against trade: “Companies like Wal-Mart (with its policy of global sourcing and especially its policy of searching for cheap products, with potential negative impacts for labor and the environment) are major drivers and symptoms of” increased global trade.” Never mind that global trade dates back beyond Marco Polo and the Assyrians. It makes Wal-Mart possible [shudder] and is therefore a bad thing.

  • They are against humanity: “Bicycles and modern bicycle rickshaws offer a sustainable alternative and create employment in manufacturing and transportation services.” Now there’s a vision of Utopia for you! Nothing repairs the soul quite like a ride in a rickshaw in the pouring rain. Except for those of us forced into employment as rickshaw drivers, of course.

    I’ll take my chances with free market capitalism, thanks. Clearly, these bozos have not a clue what they are talking about.
  • Tuesday, July 07, 2009

    Reductio ad Hitlerum

    A modern formal fallacy in logic:
    Reductio ad Hitlerum is rationally unsound for two different reasons: As a wrong direction fallacy (a type of questionable cause), it inverts the cause–effect relationship between why a villain and an idea might be criticized; conversely, as guilt by association (a form of association fallacy), it illogically attempts to shift culpability from a villain to an idea regardless of who is espousing it and why. Specific instances of reductio ad Hitlerum are also frequently likely to suffer from the fallacy of begging the question or take the form of slippery slope arguments, which are frequently (though not always) false as well.
    Which brings us to Al Gore.
    Al Gore today compared the battle against climate change with the struggle against the Nazis.


    Mr Gore admitted that it was difficult to persuade the public that the threat from climate change was as urgent as the threat from Nazi Germany.
    David Kahane describes the left wing mindset and tactics that brought down Sarah Palin. Here's a sample:
    And so the word went out, from that time and place: Eviscerate Sarah Palin like one of her field-dressed moose. Turn her life upside down. Attack her politics, her background, her educational history. Attack her family. Make fun of her husband, her children. Unleash the noted gynecologist Andrew Sullivan to prove that Palin’s fifth child was really her grandchild. Hit her with everything we have: Maureen Dowd of the New York Times, taking a beer-run break from her quixotic search for Mr. Right to drip venom on Sister Sarah; post-funny comic David Letterman, to joke about her and her daughters on national television; Katie Couric, the anchor nobody watches, to give this Alaskan interloper a taste of life in the big leagues; former New York Times hack Todd “Mr. Dee Dee Myers” Purdum, to act as an instrument of Graydon Carter’s wrath at Vanity Fair. Heck, we even burned her church down. Even after the teleological triumph of The One, the assault had to continue, each blow delivered with our Lefty Sneer (viz.: Donny Deutsch yesterday on Morning Joe), until Sarah was finished.


    If we could, we’d cut off her head and mount it on a wall at Tammany Hall, except there is no more Tammany Hall unless you count Obama’s Tony Rezko–financed home in Chicago. And it took only eight months — heck, Sarah couldn't even have another kid in the time it took us to destroy her. That’s the Chicago way!

    Monday, July 06, 2009

    So much for transparency.

    The promise from Barack Obama's White House:
    My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.
    From reality, it's all just lip service:
    America may be in the midst of a deep recession, and the nation may be facing unprecedented deficit spending and debt, but the White House will not reveal the cost to taxpayers of the European vacation that first lady Michelle Obama and the president’s two daughters, Malia and Sasha, took last month.

    Travel by an American first lady typically includes the military passenger jet that carries her and the children, Secret Service personnel to provide security, and a separate cargo plane to haul official vehicles.

    First Lady Michelle Obama’s tour of Paris with her children included a convoy of 20 vehicles, according to news reports. She also moved by “motorcade” through London.

    The full cost of such a trip would also include the expense of meals and lodging for Secret Service agents and possibly other staff.

    In response to inquiries from last week about the cost to taxpayers of the first lady’s European vacation, the White House did not provide a figure.

    Soak the Rich

    It's not enough that the rich pay almost all the taxes. Now, the class warfare has been extended to include so-called global warming.
    By counting the emissions of all the individuals likely to exceed this level, world leaders could provide target emissions cuts for each country. Currently, the world average for individual annual carbon emissions is about 5 tons; each European produces 10 tons and each American produces 20 tons.
    With international climate talks set to start this week in Italy among the countries that pollute the most, the authors hope policymakers will look at the strong link between how rich people are and how much carbon dioxide they emit.
    Never mind that there has been NO WARMING SINCE 1998 in spite of the alarmist predictions:
    Given the number of worldwide cold events, it is no surprise that 2007 didn't turn out to be the warmest ever. In fact, 2007's global temperature was essentially the same as that in 2006 - and 2005, and 2004, and every year back to 2001. The record set in 1998 has not been surpassed. For nearly a decade now, there has been no global warming. Even though atmospheric carbon dioxide continues to accumulate - it's up about 4 percent since 1998 - the global mean temperature has remained flat. That raises some obvious questions about the theory that CO2 is the cause of climate change.
    Why let the facts get in the way of some good old fashioned hate-the-successful class warfare?