Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday Flotsam - The "Please listen to what Obama says and pay no attention to what he does" edition.

Wherein we take a stroll down the metaphorical beach of the DWSUWF blog and note the detritus that has washed ashore and cluttered our little island of rationality in the great big blogospheric ocean. The beach is particularly messy now as we have neglected it for a few months. Your loyal blogger was distracted, spending time touring foreign lands and working on other projects.

While not a comprehensive cleanup, permit me to point out a few of the shiny items washed up on the beach.

ITEM - You should still buy a Ford
Last December, DWSUWF outlined why Ford was the only Detroit based automobile manufacturer that should be considered by Americans buying an American manufactured car. Since then, Ford has continued to reject government bailout money, managed to show some financial improvement, has rasied money from the private sector to improve their balance sheet, and their stock has more the tripled. This is a well managed American car company, surviving in tough times without government handouts. They deserve our support. Particularly since Ford will need to compete against the walking dead automotive monsters reanimated in the grotesque, experimental economic laboratory of Dr. Frankenobama.

Yes, back at the lab, GM and Chrysler continue to be fed intravenously at the Obama intensive care unit. They will continue to live for exactly as long as they stay on taxpayer life support and not one minute after (if?) the plug gets pulled. To the surprise of no one, it is now certain that the taxpayer "loans" to GM and Chrysler (as they were characterized by the President) will never be repaid.

The now familiar Obama administration communication philosophy of "Say anything they want to hear, but do whatever we want" is on full display. Obama actually said the government does not want to run the car companies, but the Obama administration and their proxy, the automotive task force, are hiring and firing CEO's, negotiating the bankruptcy terms with lenders, forcing mergers with a foreign buyer, deciding whether, when, and how to restructure GM and Chrysler, setting advertising policy, and deciding which dealers will remain open. Not surprisingly, Obama even wants to tell them what kind of cars to build, among other things.

But it is a relief to know that they don't want to run the car companies.

ITEM - Guantanamo in da moonlight.
I'll be heading to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan next week for an annual fishing holiday at our family camp. An ex-governor recently suggested that the U.P. would be a good home for any remaining detainees when Guantanamo is finally closed. Michigan headline writers are having a field day with this idea. [NOTE: It occurs to me that in order to appreciate this headline, one must be familiar with the straight-to-video, widely ignored Jeff Daniels cult comedy classic "Escanaba in da moonlight"]
Guantanamo in da moonlight?
Detroit Free Press
"How about Michigan, for a change, solving a problem for the U.S. government, instead of the other way around?That's one way to look at an idea floated recently by former Gov. John Engler to offer the Upper Peninsula, already home to a dozen state prisons, as a place to move the 200 or so enemy combatants and terror suspects now housed in a camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. President Barack Obama intends to close Guantanamo, just as soon as the administration figures out what to do with the prisoners there, a knotty problem considering they may include some of the most dangerous people on the planet..."
Move Gitmo to da UP, eh
By Ed Brayton
"Former Michigan Gov. John Engler has an interesting idea to bring some revenue into Michigan: Turn the UP into Guantanamo Bay North... Not an idea that Michigan political leaders are likely to get behind."
Al Qaeda, eh?
"Former Michigan Governor John Engler suggested last week that the more than 200 prisoners currently housed at the soon-to-be-closed Guantánamo Bay, Cuba prison be relocated to to the Upper Peninsula. We certainly could use the money and people actually moving into Michigan to live would be big news.

Which would be fine until winter arrived, when a UP prison would run afoul of the Obama Administration's prohibition against torture"
Hey - If it moves some money and jobs to the UP... why not, eh?

ITEM - Obama is committed to fiscal restraint - BWAHAHAHA.
Honest to God - I mean how f***ing stupid does the administration think the American people are? Obama actually had the unmitigated gall to call a press conference and say this with a straight face:
"We can no longer afford to spend as if deficits do not matter and waste is not our problem," he said in his formal remarks. "We can no longer afford to leave the hard choices for the next budget, the next administration or the next generation."
WTF? This is the same guy that only weeks before proposed a $3.7 triillion dollar budget, quadrupling the deficit, and forced through a monstrous "emergency" trillion dollar "stimulus spending plan" that does not actually - you know - stimulate.

Even the liberal San Francisco Chronicle didn't buy it:
"To date, the president's rhetoric exceeds his results. He has long said he would require his team to scrub the budget "line by line" for savings. Thursday's release is the product of that review, though an administration official was careful to call it "only a step in the process" of dealing with the deficit problem.. In reality, in the short term, deficits do not matter much to the administration. His aides would say that's justifiable given the scale of the economic recession that greeted them in January. They have decided to spend freely to jump-start the economy and to reduce the resulting deficits later. An attack on government waste, as necessary as that may be, cannot solve the problems he is helping to create."
Did you get that? "The president's rhetoric exceeds his results." That's like reporting "The Titanic received a complete and thorough cleaning in the North Atlantic". I just don't know what to say.

Maybe you can fool most of the people all of the time.

This video from Stop Spending Our Future presents the reality of our current situation with a great deal more clarity than our president would like you to understand. Keep away from open windows and hide sharp objects before viewing:

We are doomed.

ITEM: Happy belated birthday to me!
While we were away, the third anniversary of the DWSUWF blog passed without fanfare. DWSUWF was born on April 23, 2006 in the service of promoting a voting heuristic of divided government in order to secure better governance and more fiscal responsibility out of our leaders in Washington.

Our first anniversary was noted here as we celebrated the reestablishment of divided government in 2007, which began paying dividends immediately. In our second anniversary [linked here] we were looking forward - hoping against hope that the benefits of divided government could be maintained across the November election. Alas, our third anniversary was ignored, as I was instead golfing in a faraway land, and enjoying exotic food and drink. While I played, our country continued its headlong plunge into mind-numbing, ruinous levels of debt that can never be serviced, never be repayed, and with terrifying consequences we have yet to experience. The deadly effects of single party rule has once again taken its toll.

We are not really getting older, we are just getting more cynical, more pessimistic and borderline catatonic in the face of this economic horror.

"Eat drink and be merry my friends, for tomorrow we die".

Divided and Balanced.™
Now that is fair.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Arrogance of "Hope"

Image ripped from Barbeefish

Much has been written about what to expect from the Obama administration. Past presidents are often invoked as models for comparison. Will Obama be like FDR - leading the country out of the depression? Or is the big spending, big government, big deficit liberal icon LBJ a more apropos comparison? Or should we simply accept the comparison to the vision, vigor and youth of JFK as Obama has consciously and carefully cultivated throughout his campaign and early presidency?

DWSUWF has also indulged in this game, comparing candidate Obama to the ivory tower academic Jimmy Carter and also noting President Obama's embrace and defense of the Bush/Cheney expansive redefinition of unitary executive. Perhaps all of these comparisons are wrong, and the comparison that is most apt, is a comparison to Richard Nixon, as exemplified by the money quote in the Frost/Nixon interview -"When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal."

That seems to be the conclusion of Tom Laruia in this disturbing CNBC Maria Bartiroma interview aired yesterday. Lauria is a White & Case Financial Restructuring Attorney who represented the first lien Chrysler bond holders in the bankruptcy proceedings. He outlines how this administration abused their power to strong arm legitimate creditors into giving up their legal contract rights in order to hand a sweetheart deal to the Obama union contributors and constituents:

[CNBC Video No Longer Available]

Now Tom Lauria is not a dispassionate observer. He is an advocate and has an axe to grind. But what he says in this interview rings true, and is completely consistent with other reports of what this administration is really all about. The money quote:
"We all have the sense that what is on the table here is all about America and saving the concept of free enterprise in this country. Things that are baked into the Constitution, the founding fathers put the right of contract in the Constitution and there is a reason for that... You know what's interesting? The company (Chrysler) had no involvement in that negotiation whatsoever, which is another kind of shocking thing. We should ask ourselves under what Federal law is the US Government running Chrysler? TARP does not provide for the US government to run an auto company. We have not been able to find any other statuatory scheme. So if there is no legal authorization, is this kind of a separation of powers issue under the Constitution where the executive, a la President Nixon, is now doing what he thinks he should do, what he thinks is right, but is nevertheless not permitted under the law." - Tom Lauria
Obama is like Nixon? Lets see, abusing executive power in the service of political goals was the defining characteristic of the Nixon administration. Yup. Sounds about right for our current administration.

The defining characteristics of the Obama administration are just now coming into clear focus. This is what it looks like to DWSUWF:
  1. Ruthlessly wield executive power to push political objectives - The willingness - no - eagerness of the Obama administration to aggressively use the power of the presidency to meet political goals regardless of whether there is any legal basis for that exercise of power is right there in plain sight for any who care to see. The strongarmed Chrysler bondholders are the most recent example.
  2. What Obama says is wildly at variance with what he does - The gulf between what this President says and what this president actually does grows wider with every passing day. The more the MSM lets him get away with it, the bigger the gulf seems to get. Talk government transparency - do the opposite. Talk fiscal responsibility - spend recklessly. Talk gay rights, do nothing. Talk protection of civil liberties, defend the Bush/Cheney unitary executive. If he keeps this up, his credibility gap will look like the Grand Canyon.
  3. Script the talking points, enforce message discipline, reward loyalty - The message discipline and efficiency of the Obama/Axelrod White House makes the Bush/Rove politburo look like rank amateurs. Even more astonishing - The ability for the Obama hard core faithful to put on the blinders, drink the kool-aid, and parrot whatever talking points are being pushed out of the oval office. DWSUWF has seen nothing like it - well - except for the hardcore faithful on the right during the GWB administration. The mindset is absolutely identical. Obama/Axelrod are just better than Bush/Rove at leading the acolytes around by the nose.
  4. Drive an arrogant ideological agenda - The core conceit of this administration is the radical ideological view that a few really smart academics can manage the economy. Regardless of the lip service paid to the principles of free enterprise (see point number 2) this administration's core belief in central planning is clear. The administration intends to manage everything from executive pay to credit card interest rates and, as noted above, they have no problem ripping up contract law to steamroll bondholders and stamp their ideological vision on a bailed out and restructured automobile industry. This kind of central economic planning and top down industrial policy has never worked. But - since these guys are smarter than everyone else, no worries. I'm sure it'll all turn out fine this time.
Bringing this back to Chrysler and the auto industry - I'll wrap this up with the same conclusion I reached in an earlier post. Although I am a satisfied owner of a Jeep Grand Cherokee bought new 10 years ago - you could not give me a Chrysler or Fiat product today. I'll never own a Chrysler product again. The truly dangerous and flat out wrong behavior on the part of this administration should not be supported, and I won't support it with my discretionary dollars. Boycott Chrysler. If the same thing happens to GM, boycott GM.

In any case, it looks like we'll have some rich fodder for future posts as we slowly ramp this blog back up after our little hiatus.

Divided and Balanced.™
Now that is fair.