Thursday, February 26, 2009

Green "Hype"brids Fizzling In Seatle

I just had to laugh when I read this article Reality Check on Plug-in Cars. I don't laugh at the good intentions but at the egg on the face of the overly proud claimants. It seems the righteous city officials and their holier-than-tho green friends over hyped the efficiency of a fleet of Toyota Prius hybrid plug-in cars. Instead of 150+ miles per gallon it turned out to be more like 51. Fifty-one is a number micro cars have been able to achieve for several decades now at a fraction of the cost - both monetarily and environmentally - of one of these Priuses.

My problem with the whole green car movement is not with the goal, in fact I cheer for success and soon. What always bothers me is the guilt trip brought on the rest of us gas guzzlers for not buying into the whole "save the planet" mentality. As of today the first round of hybrids and electric cars are not viable for the vast majority of us. In the case of the Prius itself, winner of many awards and accolades the truth is that the life cycle of this car is ultimately more damaging to the environment than a Hummer.

Now I shouldn't laugh at the good folks trying to make a difference. It is actually quite like a drug researcher feeling all proud and superior for developing beta-drugs that make the patient sicker while being no more effective than the incomplete but traditionally effective prescription.

This patient will wait patiently for his planet saving electric car I know is out there somewhere, some year...


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Last Act Of George W. Bush

was made of President Bush's last day in office, after all a living saint was taking over at noon. But Bush did a classy thing in my opinion, and dare I say, the right thing. He commuted the sentences of of Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean. You might remember these were the two Border Patrol officers implicated and convicted of the shooting and wounding an unarmed illegal immigrant -- suspected of drug smuggling at the time -- and then covering it up.

Commuting rather than pardoning their sentences was proper because what these guys did was wrong when they attempted to cover it up. A cover up will always get you in more trouble than the act ever will. Had they not tried erase their tracks that day they would be, in my mind, a pair of heroes. Clearly the punishment for their crime was far too harsh.

The thing that frosted me and so many others was the zeal with which federal authorities went after Ramos and Compean. Traveling to Mexico to track down the drug smuggler and bringing him to the U.S. with full immunity to testify was just too much to take. Listen, there is something drastically wrong when we have a real problem at the border with illegal immigration and drug running and OUR government gleefully takes down 2 of the men whose job it is to stop these illegal activities. Again, what they did was ultimately wrong, but 11 and 12 year sentences was cruel and unusual punishment.

Good luck to these two men in putting their lives together again. They will forever be felons but I should hope someone will put them back to work. Mistakes were made but President Bush corrected one of them as he left Washington DC for Crawford.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Mexican Standoff

We've all seen the old movie cliche where three opponents with weapons aimed at each other have reached the profound realization that any first strike will endanger his own life. If he should shoot first it takes his aim away from the other opponent destroying the crucial aspect of multiple deterrence. It makes great drama. When it comes to international politics it is a disaster waiting to happen.

Such as it has become on our southern border. The national government is losing control of the country. The drug cartels have infiltrated, corrupted or coerced every aspect of society in the Mexican states that border the USA. There is another problem: one of the three combatants has a blindfold on.

The government controlled Mexican Army, or the subset of it that has not taken up with the other side, the drug lords and a deaf, dumb and blind United States are the players in what may be the biggest drama on the world stage right now. Unfortunately we Americans are almost completely oblivious. We are so inundated with Obama's deity, Jessica Simpson's waistline and Caylee Anthony's murder that there just isn't time to report on the potential collapse of one of America's most important strategic partners.

I have seen a few articles on the Internet with this being the latest - a fine piece in the Wall Street Journal (which I consider the last great NEWSpaper). This one excerpt says it all.

If Mexico isn't a failed state, though, it is a country with a weak state -- one the narcos seem to be weakening further.

"The Mexican state is in danger," says Gerardo Priego, a deputy from Mr. Calderon's ruling center-right party, known as the PAN. "We are not yet a failed state, but if we don't take action soon, we will become one very soon."

Based on what we are hearing from the major media and the Obama Administration... (crickets chirping)... One can almost hear the fiddle playing in Washington DC. I know it's only been a month since they took over but we heard nothing during the 2 year long campaign either.

There are 100 million people on the southern border of the U.S., meaning any semblance of a collapse would flood the U.S. with refugees. Cities like Phoenix, Houston, San Diego and Los Angeles would falter under the weight of such an invasion. How long before they would be in your town?


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Are You Scared Yet?

You Should Be...

(be sure to click on the links, for some real eye openers)

I must admit I am getting a little (OK, a lot) concerned that this country and by extension the whole world is heading for disaster. The bad economic news continues to pile up. The players in the terrorist strongholds are emitting their foul odor again. Our neighbor to the south is disintegrating into lawless chaos and is likely to collapse (though you're hearing nothing from the major media about it). And... Our God-like President has successfully slammed years worth of leftist agenda into one unprecedented appropriations bill that went through zero debate. Is it democracy when the opposition party wasn't even allowed to enter the room?

While it has been well known that the housing bubble is at the center of our current economic woes it is less well known that it too was a symptom or rather a masking of the real issue. When the Fed played around with interest rates and the Congress tried their hand at social engineering by forcing financial institutions into lending money to those who historically would never stand up to the scrutiny they created a monster. The monster rose up in the form of skyrocketing housing values and shady Wall Street constructions that were sold to unsuspecting investors.

What is the real issue? America no longer creates real wealth - we redistribute it.

For several years the artificial rising value of their home was like a piggy bank homeowners tapped into to fund an orgy of consumer spending which cascaded into retail development and business expansion. When the smoke cleared it has become evident that there is no there there.

Without an ever increasing value of our homes our real source of wealth has dried up. The fact that wages have not kept up to prices is a slap in the face that really stings now. The fact that the bulk of job creation has been service sector jobs which disappear when consumers stop buying. We find there are no good paying jobs left for the middle class because businesses have chosen to move to China. The fact that the stock market collapse has destroyed our retirement plans just adds to the anxiety. The fact that governments at every level suck more and more wealth from the middle class year after year in an effort to either create a socialist paradise or to service the people kicked out of productive society - the middle class is squeezed to the point of breaking.

Now for the real kick in the pants. The subprime mortgage mess will soon be eclipsed by the commercial real estate collapse which has just started to heat up. Last week 4 of the 5 banks that failed declared that commercial real estate defaults was the reason. As if the self aggrandizing blowhards in Congress didn't have enough to cackle about with the mortgage and investment bankers - wait til this shit hits the fan.

In a few short weeks the new President has driven us closer to full blown institutional socialism than 30 years of drips and drabs ever did. Some of the rumors of what is actually in this "stimulus"(porkulus) bill are frightening. There are healthcare mandates that sound like down right invasions of privacy. There are second ammendment attacks as well. This my friends is just the beginning of the Obama, Ried and Pelosi reign. Their spending orgy will doom our children's children to debt servitude on scale never before seen.

The untold story is the state of the Mexican state. The government in Mexico City has lost all control over the north. The drug cartels weild all the power in the states the border America. There has been armed incursions into American territory to run drugs and illegal (invaders) workers. Brave Americans who have taken the law into their own hands to defend their own property face retribution from the drug lords and American prosecutors. Haven't seen these stories on the nightly news? I'm shocked.

Plenty of news about Jessica Simpson's fat ass though... We know what's really important.

What happens if the Mexican government fails? What happens when the American dollar fails? What happens when the Chinese stop buying American debt because their export market collapses before they have built a Chinese version of middle class consumers? What happens when terrorists resume their activities on American soil now that Bush is gone? All these things are very possible and very, very likely.

My advice: buy a gun and non perishable food stuffs.


Sunday, February 08, 2009

A Twist on "Buy It Forward"

A while back I posited an idea that struck me as a way to help the economy get back on track and to steer people from self interest based consumption to a more selfless based consumption. I called it Buy It Forward (read about here). When I asked for feedback it was clear to everyone that there was a major and insurmountable flaw - fraud and abuse. In retrospect the real problem was one of scale. I was thinking nationally with a region by region focus across a broad spectrum of wants and needs.

Recently I saw an ad on TV that was honoring a gentleman named Charles Best for being someone who has made a real difference in this life. It seems Mr. Best came up with MY idea long before me. The difference was he applied the idea to one and only one concern - school children.

Read this brief synopsis:
Charles Best, a 28-year-old teacher at Wings Academy, a high school in the economically depressed South Bronx. Four years ago, Best started the Internet-based non-profit,, for teachers in New York City. Earlier this year, he was able to expand it for teachers in North Carolina. Here's how it works: Teachers submit proposals for classroom supplies, which are then reviewed and posted on the site. Potential donors can then browse these proposals and, if they choose, fund them fully or partially. Donors then send their financial contributions to DonorsChoose, which purchases the items for the teacher and ships them directly to the school. In return, contributors receive photos of the students using the gift and thank-you notes from the teacher and the entire class.

This is exactly the kind of thing I had envisioned. Without the resources and the technical expertise I could not hope to put something like this together on a huge national basis, but maybe it needs to start small and far more narrowly focused like what Mr. Best has done.

I need to do more thinking on this!


Saturday, February 07, 2009

Slippery Slope: Salary Caps

One of the reasons private schools have for generations resisted any government money was because there are always strings attached. Government strings almost always diminish the quality of the product. When private enterprises start feeding off the government tit there will be sour milk.

This week President Obama called for a cap on executive pay for financial institutions that received TARP money. Hard to argue since it would be near impossible to somehow separate the government dollar from the earned dollar. The average middle class citizen struggling to get by with a lousy 1% raise this year would be hard pressed to worry about a $500,000 cap on the CEO of the big bank in town.

This is another reason it's such a bad precedent to infuse the government into the private sector at every level. I suspect this is part of the slow and methodical plan of the socialists. But that's a subject for another day. Let's talk about the average person's aversion/envy of executive pay in the workplace.

I really get a kick out the sports guys who decry the CEO pay but fully understand the star jock's need to get the salary contract in relation to the talent they bring to field of play. The indignation over an executive getting a multi-million dollar salary is based on the premise that there is no such thing as executive talent. Tell that to Apple Computer shareholders or those of Dell or GE. Of course there is talent in the game of business.

If we start to believe as a society that the people who run and manage businesses don't "deserve" to be compensated very well because the janitor and the hourly laborer are so poorly paid we have entered a dangerous slippery slope. Not everyone can run a large corporate enterprise. Most everyone can clean a toilet.

What makes people mad is things like Golden Parachutes and huge bonuses paid to those who have run a business into the ground. This kind of indignation is understandable and justified. In a publicly traded business it is the job of the board of directors to stop this. Shareholders can voice their disapproval by selling their stock. When government is involved with this process the company is eventually going to have trouble attracting the talent they need to prosper again.

Funny that we don't hear the same breathless outrage over lawyers pay. So much of the value of our economy is going into the pockets of lawyers and law firms that produce almost nothing. I say almost because obviously there is value in the legal advice and protection. But some these guys are getting $1000 an hour. Is that fair? What about the janitor that empties their trash cans? Surely he is worth $500 an hour.

Then there's actors who love to hate businessmen while taking millions of dollars per movie - even for the bombs. Should we limit their salaries too? You say - but they're not taking government money. I beg to differ. Cities and towns all over this country bend over backwards to get movies and TV series filmed in their locales.

I'm just saying we don't want the government dictating what we private citizens can earn. Frankly as long as we pay "our fair share" of the taxes the rest is none of Obama's business.


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

UPDATE - Do As I Say: Tax Cheats

UPDATE: I was wrong. The major media, God Bless their pointy little heads, did raise enough stink about Tom Daschle's tax problem that he pulled out one day after getting a ringing endorsement from the President. With egg on his face Obama admitted his mistake.


How many black eyes
can the Obama Administration take in the first 100 days? None if your counting on the major media to drum up any outrage. First there's the Blagojevich fiasco that somehow Obama ducked under, then Bill Richardson bows out as commerce secretary because of an FBI investigation into the sale of bonds in New Mexico. Shortly thereafter Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, the former Federal Reserve chief of the New York branch, was revealed to have owed 10's of thousands in taxes for which he blamed a software error... Yeah, sure. Now Tom Daschle, former Senate Majority leader and now Health secretary nominee, owes over $100,000 in taxes.

All these men still have the support and admiration of the new President and therefore the media too. None will be treated to endless speculation and over-the-top indignation like that which faced Sarah Palin when the RNC spent $100,000 on her wardrobe and travel expenses. That was high fashion this is just boring old tax cheating. The double standard between the darling left and the morally corrupt right in the eyes of the major media is truly sickening.

Am I being too harsh? After all these guys said they were sorry.

I suppose now Charley Rangel (D-NY) will be getting a call from the President. He certainly has his tax cheat credentials in order. This sleeze ball is the man in charge of our country's tax code. Will he face the music? Will he be forced to step down from such and important post? Will he be dragged through the mud for weeks on end until he is forced to resign? Should I even be asking such ridiculous questions? We should go easy on the man... For God's sake he had the balls to blame it on his wife - won't he face enough punishment when he gets home.

Just remember these are the very same people who accused President Bush for 8 straight years of pushing tax cuts for the RICH. All of these men are quite wealthy and seemed to have enacted there own tax cuts - friggin hypocrits!