Auto Industry Questions

Steve Behen at The Washington Monthly is trying to figure out US automakers.

I've been trying to understand the problems of the auto industry, and on a couple of points I can't quite seem to figure out what's going on. So I thought: why not ask?

(1) A quote from Business Week:

"Everyone knows that GM is over-branded. (...) At the core of GM's problems is that it does not have, and has not had, enough resources to feed eight brands with unique products, and then the resources to feed each brand with unique and competitive brand campaigns."

I assume that having too many brands implies not just a pointless attempt to distinguish them from one another, but separate management and marketing, and to some extent separate manufacturing, that might usefully be consolidated. I imagine that having too many brands would also make it harder to establish any particular brand: when you're trying to make eight separate brands stand out, all of them probably have a harder time.

Question: are there other drawbacks to having too many brands, or is this it?

(2) Business Week again:

"The problem has long been that the company does not want to have to pay dealers to fold the brands it does not need as it did with Oldsmobile in 2001. State franchise laws prevent a car company from simply ending a brand. Closing down Oldsmobile cost the company around $2 billion."

Question: Is there any obvious reason why state laws should be able to prevent a car company from closing down a brand?

(3) The WSJ:

"GM has about 7,000 dealers. Toyota has fewer than 1,500. Honda has about 1,000. These fewer and larger dealers are better able to advertise, stock and service the cars they sell. GM knows it needs fewer brands and dealers, but the dealers are protected from termination by state laws. This makes eliminating them and the brands they sell very expensive. It would cost GM billions of dollars and many years to reduce the number of dealers it has to a number near Toyota's."

What, exactly, does it mean to say that GM "needs fewer dealers"? Dealerships are privately owned. If there are too many of them, does GM incur financial costs, over and above dealers' ability to block things like brand consolidation?

(4) In trying to answer some of these questions, I ended up reading a fair amount about state laws governing auto dealerships. (E.g., here, here, and here.) Short version: selling cars is a very, very heavily regulated activity.

Is there some reason why this makes sense? For instance, is it obvious that automobiles have to be sold in franchises, as opposed to stores in which the storeowner can stock whichever cars seem most likely to sell, the way bookstores do? Does it make any sense for Texas to prohibit this?

"Ford, an automobile manufacturer, operates the Showroom web site. At this site, Ford advertises for sale various used vehicles at set no haggle prices. At the time such advertisements are posted to the Internet, Ford holds title to the advertised vehicles. If a Texas consumer is interested in purchasing one of these vehicles, he can contact and deliver to Ford a refundable deposit. The vehicle will then be transferred to a Texas automobile dealer, who will take title to the vehicle from Ford by assignment. If the consumer, after a test drive, wishes to purchase the vehicle he will enter into a contract with the dealer at the price stated on the Showroom web site. If he elects not to purchase the vehicle, the dealer can either return it to, or purchase it from, Ford."


Aren't there better models for selling cars? Wouldn't it make sense to try some of them?

I honestly don't know the answers to any of these questions. If any of you do, let me know.

Legislation to kill Fannie, Freddie and the CRA


Patriot Room reports on the House legislation awaiting the return of Congress:

IBD has a terrific editorial pinning the economic meltdown squarely on Fannie and Freddie and their enabling legislation, the Community Reinvestment Act. It is worth a full read.

The Community Reinvestment Act is to blame for the financial crisis, but it so powerfully serves Democrats’ interests that they’ll do anything to protect it — including revising history.

The CRA coerces banks into making loans based on political correctness, and little else, to people who can’t afford them. Enforced like never before by the Clinton administration, the regulation destroyed credit standards across the mortgage industry, created the subprime market, and caused the housing bubble that has now burst and left us with the worst housing and banking crises since the Great Depression.

The CRA should be abolished, along with the government-sponsored enterprises that fueled the secondary market for subprimes — under pressure from Clinton, who ordered HUD to set quotas for “affirmative action” lending at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

But powerful Democrats in Washington want to protect the act — along with Fannie and Freddie — and spin the subprime scandal as the result of too little regulation, not too much.

“Repealing or weakening the CRA would be a mistake,” warns Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd, D-Conn., who argues that the CRA should be strengthened.

Dodd, the top recipient of Fannie donations and himself a beneficiary of a sweetheart mortgage brokered by a subprime lender, recently invited one of Clinton’s top enforcers of the CRA to testify.

“The notion that CRA has caused this problem is a pernicious thought,” said former Comptroller of the Currency Gene Ludwig. “These are not truthful statements. The CRA has helped to create a better and sounder world for finance, not the opposite.”

Dead wrong. But the mainstream media believe it, and have attacked those, including this paper, who dare to tell the truth about the crisis. Already the debacle has erased $13 trillion in wealth, while putting taxpayers on the hook for up to $8 trillion in bailouts.

They go through, one by one, each myth floated by the Democrats and the MSM and explode them with the facts. It is a good article to bookmark for future reference.

Republicans in Congress are not standing idly by.

Two bills in the House would be a good place to start. HR 7264, which has nine co-sponsors, would repeal the CRA. And HR 7094, with 17 co-sponsors, would dissolve Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Here is the link to HR 7264, with the money provision.

SEC. 105. REPEAL OF COMMUNITY REINVESTMENT ACT.

The Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 (12 U.S.C. 2901 et seq.) is hereby repealed.

The hatchet for Fannie and Freddie is here.

SEC. 3. TERMINATION OF CURRENT CONSERVATORSHIP.

(a) In General- Upon the expiration of the period referred to in subsection (b), the Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency shall determine, with respect to each enterprise [Fannie Mae and Fredie Mac], if the enterprise is financially viable at that time and–

(1) if the Director determines that the enterprise is financially viable, immediately take all actions necessary to terminate the conservatorship for each of the enterprises; or

(2) if the Director determines that the enterprise is not financially viable, immediately appoint the Federal Housing Finance Agency as receiver under section 1367 of the Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act of 1992 and carry out such receivership under the authority of such section.

While the Republicans may be a little . . . shorthanded in the 111th Congress, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t bring things like this to light so people can contact their members of congress and push hard for this critical legislation. To allow the Democrats to whitewash this debacle and ignore the root problem is simply setting ourselves up to fail again.


Black Friday Successful, Cyber Monday on the Way


From Monsters & Critics:

Washington - Holiday retail sales in the US were up three per cent from last year, the smallest gain on Black Friday in three years, a research firm said Saturday.

The day after the Thanksgiving holiday typically marks the beginning of the most intense period of the holiday shopping season, and can account for a third of stores' annual profits. It is known as Black Friday because historically shops put their profits in the black thanks to the huge influx of customers.

Consumer spending comprises more than two-thirds of the US economy, which is slowly sliding into a recession. According to government data, Americans are already cutting back. Spending was down for the fifth consecutive month in October, the US Commerce Department said.

From a little after midnight Friday, bargain-hunting shoppers crowded malls, superstores and high streets to cash in on steep discounts by recession-hit retailers, who were bracing for their worst season in years.

Sales rose 10.6 billion dollars Friday, up three per cent from last year, according to Chicago-based research firm ShopperTrak RCT. This year's slight increase comes after the 8.3-per-cent jump last year.

'A decent Black Friday figure doesn't predict the whole season. The question is, how much momentum we can keep in this challenging economic environment,' Craig Johnson, president of retail consulting firm Customer Growth Partners LLC, told Bloomberg financial news agency.

Hoping to lure in penny-pinching customers impacted by the sluggish economy and increasing unemployment, many retailers were offering special discounts and heavy price cuts.

The National Retail Federation has said that despite the economic downturn, overall sales this season are expected to grow 2.2 per cent to 470.4 billion dollars.

According to a Gallup poll, consumers may spend an average of 616 dollars on holiday gifts this year, down 29 per cent from a year earlier.

The economy is hurting, but it is portrayed as being in much worse shape than it actually is.



For those of us who thankfully missed the crunch and rush of Black Friday, there is always Cyber Monday.

Escape From Corporate America
[Tomorrow] is Cyber Monday, the online equivalent of Black Friday, and many retailers are offering crazy discounts and free shipping to entice holiday shoppers. Wouldn’t you rather shop from your desk than get up at 2AM to wait in line in the cold outside Wal Mart?

The problem is that Cyber Monday is a work day for most of us. Of course, that’s not going to stop people from snagging some Cyber Monday deals. Take a look around. Do your co-workers seem unnaturally interested in the "work" on their computer screens? Are people suspiciously Alt-Tabbing at the sound of approaching footsteps?

Why should Cyber Monday be any different than the typical work day? A recent survey by Salary.com found that approximately six in every 10 workers admit to wasting time at work with the average employee wasting 1.7 hours of a typical 8.5 hour working day. Personal Internet use was the leading time-wasting activity, with 34% of respondents admitting to the crime.

Why are so many slacking off at work? The #1 reason was boredom. Other popular reasons cited were having too long hours, being underpaid, and not having challenging work. In other words, they’re not engaged. If you find that you are consistently wasting time at work as an escape from the frustrations or banalities of your job, that’s a pretty good sign that you should start looking for another gig.

On the other hand, a little bit of time-wasting is natural for even the most productive and satisfied workers. It’s not possible to work at full intensity for eight hours straight without chemical intervention. Most people are more productive when working in focused intervals with breaks in between. In other words, you might get more done and deliver higher-quality work if you take a few minutes to check out Overstock.com between work projects this morning.

And if your boss gives you the stink-eye after he catches you surfing for deals, just mention that whole bit about how you need to work in focused intervals with breaks in order to maximize your productivity.

Gypping Seniors


San Diego Union Tribune Editorial:
Reject Medicare and lose Social Security, too

The first wave of baby boomer retirees will soon turn 66 and get their first Social Security check. But they won't get Medicare without signing up, soon.

That's one Medicare requirement worth knowing. Here's another: Opting out of Medicare is possible – if you don't mind losing your Social Security, too.

Three seniors have sued to change that. They want to pay their own medical costs, and they would abandon the Medicare taxes they've long paid. They don't want, however, to abandon Social Security. Their suit would sunder the two programs, allowing seniors to cover their own medical care without losing Social Security.

That, say the three plaintiffs, would ensure the privacy of their medical records and spare them bureaucrats' second-guessing whether every lab test and office visit are “medically necessary.” If not, Medicare doesn't pay and the physician, by law, can't bill the patient. Don't wonder why many elderly have difficulty finding a doctor.

No law mandates participation in both programs or none. The Clinton administration instituted that regulation, buttressed by Congress' ban on seniors venturing outside Medicare for any service it provides. These actions make sense only to critics who abhor “two-tier” health care pitting Medicare against private care.

Medicare is universal health care, the same care for all, adequate or not. And as Washington moves toward it, Canada moves away. In 2005, its Supreme Court voided Quebec's rule against buying private health services even if the national health service couldn't provide them in time.

Medicare, of course, is oversubscribed and underfunded. If a mere 1 percent of seniors left Medicare, within nine years the program would save some $3.5 billion a year. Yet bureaucrats dictate that seniors give up control of their health care or give up Social Security altogether. A lawsuit to stop that is worth pursuing.

Terrorism to Increase?


Prairiepundit tells us why terrorism will increase under Obama.
Why hasn't there been another major terrorist attack in the U.S. since Sept. 11, 2001? It's partly because domestic law enforcement agencies have done a good job detecting and preventing further attacks. But it's mainly because President Bush deposed two terrorist-supporting regimes and replaced them with more democratic governments.

For the past seven years, Islamists have been wary of provoking additional regime changes, fearing they could be deprived of the few remaining safe havens. They also know that such demonstrations of U.S. military might are demoralizing to Islamists who dream of terrorizing their way to world domination.

President-elect Barack Hussein Obama has not only said that he plans to pursue a completely different strategy, he has signaled a degree of sympathy with the forces that enable terrorism. Obama feels the U.S. had no business overthrowing Saddam Hussein. Apparently, he believes there is an important distinction between governments that train and dispatch terrorists and governments that merely provide terrorists with moral and financial support.

Regardless of his motivations, Obama's policy concerning Iraq sends a message that is certain to be welcomed by Islamists. If the U.S. was in the wrong when it invaded Iraq, then the U.S. invasion justifies retaliation.

Islamists know it is only a matter of time before the U.S. withdraws, leaving Iraq vulnerable. U.S. forces also know this; who will be willing to risk his or her life for a cause that has been condemned from the start by the new Commander-in-Chief?

Obama has surrounded himself with foreign policy advisors who sympathize with the Palestinians' decades long war to annihilate Israel. Brezinski and Power have both hinted that the U.S. should terminate its alliance with Israel. Though Obama chose Rahm Emanuel as his White House Chief of Staff, Emanuel is a confirmed appeaser, and he is likely to provide Obama with cover as he pressures Israel to commit suicide.

Obama believes the War on Terrorism should be replaced with a combination of limited police actions and meetings with hostile governments and organizations. The former will focus on terrorists who have been involved in direct attacks on the U.S. or U.S. personnel stationed overseas. The purpose of the latter is to show that we are anxious to understand and redress Islamists' grievances.

These two tactics can only encourage terrorism. Police actions will be limited to those who are directly involved in planning and supporting terrorist attacks. With the threat of regime change significantly reduce if not removed altogether, Muslim dictators will feel free to host Islamist madrasses, radical clerics, and terrorist groups. In fact, they will welcome them, because they distract the people from their own tyrannical governments. Listening to Islamists' grievances can only give credibility to those grievances, legitimate or not. They also provide Islamists with far-reaching channels for spreading their lies and perverse ideas.

Certainly President Bush's strategy had some flaws. But Obama's strategy makes virtues of the very same flaws.

President Bush took the calculated risk of defining Islam as a "Religion of peace." No doubt, the thinking was that this would give most of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims an easy way out, and would encourage moderate clerics in the process. Unfortunately, it has also had the side effect of rendering Islam completely blameless. Obama's accusation that the U.S. has bombed innocent villagers goes even further, fueling both the "root causes" and "moral equivalence" arguments. The "root causes" argument says that Muslim terrorists are merely responding to previous attacks against Muslims. In other words, Muslim terrorists are at least partly justified. The "moral equivalence" argument says that attempts at self-defence by the U.S., Israel, and other Western nations also justify further terrorist attacks by Islamists.

There is little reason to expect Obama will learn from hands-on experiences and make necessary course corrections. His entire foreign policy is based on a false foundation. The last thing he wants to do is anything that might suggest Bush was on the right track. To wit, if appeasement doesn't succeed at first, Obama will invent new and more dangerous ways of appeasing those who want to destroy Western civilization. Don't be surprised if he eventually blames terrorism on Israel and previous Republican administrations.

After all, it's not as though Obama is all that against terrorists. Just ask Bill Ayers.

Sen. William Jefferson Blythe Clinton ( D-NY)

From the Washington Post:

Send Bill Clinton to the Senate
By Karl E. Meyer and Shareen Blair Brysac

Amid the blizzard of résumés blanketing Washington as the Obama era dawns, there is a superbly qualified candidate for full employment whose name has been overlooked. We refer, of course, to William Jefferson Clinton, America's 42nd chief executive and commander in chief. Yet now, by a wonderful combination of circumstances, comes an opportunity to harness his unquestioned political talents to benefit his country, the Democratic Party, New York state and his spouse. If, as is expected, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton becomes secretary of state, New York Gov. David Paterson could send her husband to the U.S. Senate.

Doing so would spare the governor the agonizing dilemma of choosing from the 20 or so Democrats already named as contenders for the junior senator's seat. Those mentioned include ...Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, Caroline Kennedy and her cousin Robert Kennedy Jr. In this ...competition, Paterson ...could wind up gaining one grateful ally while alienating ...all the losers ...

Hence the appeal of Bill Clinton. Who in his party could question so historic and dazzling a choice? In a stroke, the appointment would provide Sen. Clinton's indefatigable husband with a fitting day job, serve the interests of a state beset by a meltdown in its most vital economic sector and offer a refreshing reverse twist on a tradition whereby deceased male senators, representatives or governors are succeeded by their widows.

It wouldn't be the first time an emeritus U.S. president was sent to Congress. In 1828, John Quincy Adams, like his father a prickly but principled chief executive, lost his bid for a second term to Andrew Jackson, the first populist Democrat. Two years later, Massachusetts voters elected Adams to the House of Representatives, where he served until 1848 ...

Who better than Bill Clinton to deepen and energize such a tradition? Why shouldn't former presidents continue their political lives in Congress? The British have long benefited from a tradition whereby former prime ministers acquire a seat and voice in the House of Lords. In today's unusual circumstances, surely beyond the imagination of any novelist, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would not have to fret about suitable protocol for dealing with her spouse on foreign trips were he occupied, full time, with senatorial duties.
We certainly would not want Hillary to fret and worry about "indefatigable" Slick Willie's behavior, now would we?

"Tempest in a B-Cup" Scandal to Roil Bill Clinton's Personal Life
View more »

Hat Tip: Opening Arguments

Tennessee to Complete Nuclear Power Plant


From Tennessean.com:

Work on nuclear reactor brings jobs to East Tenn.
ASSOCIATED PRESS

CHATTANOOGA — Nearly 1,425 workers in East Tennessee have been hired this year to resume construction of what's slated to be the first new nuclear reactor completed in the U.S. in more than 15 years.

Nuclear industry leaders say those hired by Bechtel Corp. and its subcontractors to work on a second reactor at TVA's Watts Bar nuclear plant could represent the first of thousands of new jobs created in the Tennessee Valley from a renaissance of nuclear power.

They say rising energy demand and concerns about global warming could create a need for the U.S. to triple the number of nuclear plants by 2050 at a cost of more than $900 billion.

"I believe that East Tennessee has a historic opportunity to play a major role in the resurgence of nuclear power," said Sherrell R. Greene, director of nuclear technology programs at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Nuclear power critics question the need and cost of more nuclear plants: "We could create far more jobs from conservation and renewable energy than we will by investing in nuclear power," said Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, based in Knoxville.

Bill Campbell, Tennessee Valley Authority nuclear chief, said the 104 reactors now operating have "provided safe, cheap and reliable power" for years at far less risk than coal-fired power generation.

2,300 hires planned

Bechtel and other TVA contractors working on the $2.5 billion completion of the Unit 2 reactor at the Watts Bar plant plan to employ more than 2,300 construction workers by the end of 2009. The TVA reactor, about 110 miles east of Nashville, will be the first U.S. nuclear unit completed since the Unit 1 reactor at Watts Bar in 1996.

Within five years, TVA is expected to decide whether to proceed with plans for two new reactors at its Bellefonte site in Hollywood, Ala., about 110 miles southeast of Nashville.

Georgia Power Co., backed by the city of Dalton, Ga., has signed engineering and construction contracts with Westinghouse Electric Co. and others to build two similar reactors next to two existing units at Plant Vogtle near Waynesboro, Ga.

Dalton Utilities expects to pay about $190 million over the next eight years for its share in the estimated $14 billion project, President Don Cope said. The Dalton utility will make investments in the proposed new Vogtle reactors as they are built between now and 2016.

Bechtel has TVA history

TVA decided to complete Watts Bar Unit 2 after having Bechtel do a $20 million feasibility study.

Bechtel also was the lead contractor in TVA's five-year, $1.8 billion construction project to restart the Browns Ferry Unit 1 reactor in north Alabama, about 100 miles south of Nashville. Restarted last year, the plant had five unplanned shutdowns in its first six months.

A recent audit by TVA's independent inspector general found no evidence that Bechtel and another contractor cut corners to qualify for big bonuses in the project, which was completed on time but was $90 million over budget.

Installation or design problems were responsible for each shutdown, the inspector general said.


Cimates Always Change


Beware the church of climate alarm

Miranda Devine
November 27, 2008

As the Czech President, Vaclav Klaus, an economist, anti-totalitarian and climate change skeptic, prepares to take up the rotating presidency of the European Union next year, climate alarmists are doing their best to traduce him.

The New York Times opened a profile of Klaus, 67, this week with a quote from a 1980s communist secret agent's report, claiming he behaves like a "rejected genius", and asserts there is "palpable fear" he will "embarrass" the EU.

But the real fear driving climate alarmists wild is that a more rational approach to the fundamentalist religion of global warming may be in the ascendancy - whether in the parliamentary offices of the world's largest trading bloc or in the living rooms of Blacktown.

As the global financial crisis takes hold, perhaps people are starting to wonder whether the so-called precautionary principle, which would have us accept enormous new taxes in the guise of an emissions trading scheme and curtail economic growth, is justified, based on what we actually know about climate.

One of Australia's leading enviro-skeptics, the geologist and University of Adelaide professor Ian Plimer, 62, says he has noticed audiences becoming more receptive to his message that climate change has always occurred and there is nothing we can do to stop it.

In a speech at the American Club in Sydney on Monday night for Quadrant magazine, titled Human-Induced Climate Change - A Lot Of Hot Air, Plimer debunked climate-change myths.

"Climates always change," he said. Our climate has changed in cycles over millions of years, as the orbit of the planet wobbles and our distance from the sun changes, for instance, or as the sun itself produces variable amounts of radiation. "All of this affects climate. It is impossible to stop climate change. Climates have always changed and they always will."

His two-hour presentation included more than 50 charts and graphs, as well as almost 40 pages of references. It is the basis of his new book, Heaven And Earth: The Missing Science Of Global Warming, to be published early next year.

Plimer said one of the charts, which plots atmospheric carbon dioxide and temperature over 500 million years, with seemingly little correlation, demonstrates one of the "lessons from history" to which geologists are privy: "There is no relationship between CO2 and temperature."

Another slide charts the alternating periods of cooling and warming on Earth, with the Pleistocene Ice Age starting 110,000 years ago and giving way, 14,700 years ago, to the Bolling warm period for 800 years. This in turn gave way to the Older Dryas cooling for 300 years, then the Allerod warming for 700 years, and so on, until the cooling of the Little Ice Age from 1300 to 1850. Since 1850, we have lived through the "Modern Warming", one of the most stable climate periods in history.

Plimer said some astronomers predict we are headed for a new cooling period.

Plimer said there is a division between those scientists who sit in front of super computers and push piles of data into the mathematical models that drive the theory of climate change, and those who take measurements in the field.

We are not sceptical enough about the data. For instance, Plimer cited differences between results from temperature measuring stations in urban and rural areas. Those in urbanized Chicago, Berkeley, New York, and so on, show temperature rises over the past 150 years, whereas those in the rural US, in Houlton, Albany and Harrisburg (though not Death Valley, California) show equally consistent cooling. "What we're measuring is urbanization," Plimer said.

To understand the chaotic nature of climate change, we need to consider all the inputs - cosmic radiation, sun, clouds and so on, he said.

There was much more but essentially Plimer's message is that the idea humans cause climate change has become a fundamentalist religion which is corrupting science. It is embedded with a fear of nature and embraced principally by city people who have lost touch with nature.

He likens the debate to the famous 1990s battle he had in the Federal Court, where he accused an elder of The Hills Bible Church in Baulkham Hills of breaching Australia's Trade Practices Act by claiming to have found scientific evidence of Noah's Ark in Turkey.

Plimer says creationists and climate alarmists are quite similar in that "we're dealing with dogma and people who, when challenged, become quite vicious and irrational".

Human-caused climate change is being "promoted with religious zeal … there are fundamentalist organizations which will do anything to silence critics. They have their holy books, their prophet [is] Al Gore. And they are promoting a story which is frightening us witless [using] guilt [and urging] penance."

It is difficult for non-scientists to engage in the debate over what causes climate change and whether or not it can be stopped by new taxes and slower growth, because dissenting voices are shouted down by true believers in the scientific community who claim they alone have the authority to speak.

Quadrant is under fire for publishing articles by skeptics but, as its editor, Keith Windschuttle, said on Monday night, "People who are really confident [of their facts] relish debate."

In any case, ordinary people already have suspicions. The zealotry and one-sidedness of the debate alarmed an 81-year-old Seven Hills pensioner, Denys Clarke, so much that last month, at his own expense, he hired the ballroom at the Blacktown Workers Club for two public forums, titled The Truth About Climate Change. He invited a climate skeptic, the James Cook University professor Bob Carter, a geologist, to speak. More than 300 people attended, some from as far away as Nowra.

Carter, like Plimer and Klaus, has come in for his fair share of vilification. But as Clarke proves, you can't stop people thinking. Yet.

Mumbai Terrorism And Us


Mumbai is dying! Mumbai, meri jaan! Mumbai is an overgrown slum! Mumbai is the city of dreams!

This from the Elder Of Ziyon:

We are the targets

The world has been hearing a lot about "Islamophobia" in the past few years. Since 9/11, the Muslim community has been responding to every Islamic terror attack with statements cautioning the West to not succumb to this terrible disease of Islamophobia, often elevating its heinousness to a par with the terror attacks themselves.

However, while there is undoubtedly some discrimination against and fear of Muslims in the West, they do not live their lives as targets.

A Muslim can walk down the street in New York, Mississippi, London, Rome or Moscow, in full Muslim clothing, without any fear of being attacked because he or she is a Muslim. He does not have to worry that he will be in a hostage situation where someone will take his passport and single him out for death because of his name or nationality.

They might have to worry about getting certain kinds of jobs or being looked at funny. But they do not have to fear for their lives.

In Mumbai, the targets were clear: Americans, British, Israelis and Jews. The terrorists went out of their way to target these groups; months of research into targets that would maximize their damage to these groups and their own actions during the attacks prove this.

Islamophobia is a joke compared to the real fear that Westerners have in many countries worldwide for their very lives. The entire purpose of terror is to instill just this kind of fear. And the terrorists have made their targets clear.

To talk about "Islamophobia" as if it is a real, pressing, worldwide concern is not just deceptive - it is a conscious effort to minimize and deflect from the Islamic terrorism which is the real plague that needs to be eradicated. If the terror stops, the relatively small amount of discrimination against Islam will stop as well. The people pretending that "Islamophobia" is a major concern are part of the problem.

Black Friday Kills


Worker dies at Long Island Wal-Mart after being trampled in Black Friday stampede
BY JOE GOULD DAILY NEWS WRITER

Wal-Mart stampede, caught on camera

A Wal-Mart worker died after being trampled when hundreds of shoppers smashed through the doors of a Long Island store Friday morning, police and witnesses said.

The 34-year-old worker, employed as an overnight stock clerk, tried to hold back the unruly crowds just after the Valley Stream store opened at 5 a.m. Witnesses said the surging throngs of shoppers knocked the man down. He fell and was stepped on. As he gasped for air, shoppers ran over and around him.

"He was bum-rushed by 200 people," said Jimmy Overby, 43, a co-worker. "They took the doors off the hinges. He was trampled and killed in front of me. They took me down too...I literally had to fight people off my back." The unidentified victim was rushed to an area hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 6:03 a.m., police said.

The cause of death wasn't immediately available pending results of an autopsy.

A 28-year-old pregnant woman was knocked to the floor during the mad rush. She was hospitalized for observation, police said. Early witness accounts that the woman suffered a miscarriage were unfounded, police said.

Three other shoppers suffered minor injuries, cops said. Before police shut down the store, eager shoppers streamed past emergency crews as they worked furiously to save the store clerk's life.

"They were working on him, but you could see he was dead, said Halcyon Alexander, 29. "People were still coming through."

Only a few stopped.

"They're savages," said shopper Kimberly Cribbs, 27. "It's sad. It's terrible."

***

Free advice: Stay home today. People are insane. Reason number 99,999 to shop online.

Black Friday Is Upon Us - Listen To Christmas Music

Obama is Not A Christian


In an interview with Chicago Sun Times columnist Cathleen Falsani in 2004, Barack Obama told the world that he was not a believer in Jesus Christ, he does not pray to God, and does not accept that there is but one God. The entire interview is here.

Some telling excerpts are listed below. In the first quote from 2004 he talks about his association with his radical preachers.
FALSANI:
Do you have people in your life that you look to for guidance?

OBAMA:
Well, my pastor [Jeremiah Wright] is certainly someone who I have an enormous amount of respect for.

I have a number of friends who are ministers. Reverend Meeks is a close friend and colleague of mine in the state Senate. Father Michael Pfleger is a dear friend, and somebody I interact with closely.

FALSANI:
Those two will keep you on your toes.

OBAMA:

And they're good friends. Because both of them are in the public eye, there are ways we can all reflect on what's happening to each of us in ways that are useful.

I think they can help me, they can appreciate certain specific challenges that I go through as a public figure.

In talking about Christ, Obama says the right words as might be expected from an academic researcher but fails to communicate a strong burning belief in God nor does he display anything but a superficial commitment to his religion and the church. Not one word was uttered about Jesus Christ's sacrifice for our sins or resurrection for our salvation.

FALSANI:
Who's Jesus to you?

(He laughs nervously)

OBAMA:
Right.

Jesus is an historical figure for me, and he's also a bridge between God and man, in the Christian faith, and one that I think is powerful precisely because he serves as that means of us reaching something higher.

And he's also a wonderful teacher. I think it's important for all of us, of whatever faith, to have teachers in the flesh and also teachers in history.


The next excerpt covers the subject of prayer. Obama talks to himself, not his God!
FALSANI:
Do you pray often?

OBAMA:
Uh, yeah, I guess I do.

Its' not formal, me getting on my knees. I think I have an ongoing conversation with God. I think throughout the day, I'm constantly asking myself questions about what I'm doing, why am I doing it.

One of the interesting things about being in public life is there are constantly these pressures being placed on you from different sides. To be effective, you have to be able to listen to a variety of points of view, synthesize viewpoints. You also have to know when to be just a strong advocate, and push back against certain people or views that you think aren't right or don't serve your constituents.

And so, the biggest challenge, I think, is always maintaining your moral compass. Those are the conversations I'm having internally. I'm measuring my actions against that inner voice that for me at least is audible, is active, it tells me where I think I'm on track and where I think I'm off track.

Finally, Obama does not embrace the concepts of one religion, one God and the sanctity of life.
FALSANI:
Do you think it's wrong for people to want to know about a civic leader's spirituality?

OBAMA:
I don't' think it's wrong. I think that political leaders are subject to all sorts of vetting by the public, and this can be a component of that.

I think that I am disturbed by, let me put it this way: I think there is an enormous danger on the part of public figures to rationalize or justify their actions by claiming God's mandate.

I think there is this tendency that I don't think is healthy for public figures to wear religion on their sleeve as a means to insulate themselves from criticism, or dialogue with people who disagree with them.

FALSANI:

The conversation stopper, when you say you're a Christian and leave it at that.

OBAMA:
Where do you move forward with that?

This is something that I'm sure I'd have serious debates with my fellow Christians about. I think that the difficult thing about any religion, including Christianity, is that at some level there is a call to evangelize and prostelytize. There's the belief, certainly in some quarters, that people haven't embraced Jesus Christ as their personal savior that they're going to hell.

FALSANI:
You don't believe that?

OBAMA:
I find it hard to believe that my God would consign four-fifths of the world to hell.
I can't imagine that my God would allow some little Hindu kid in India who never interacts with the Christian faith to somehow burn for all eternity.

That's just not part of my religious makeup.

Part of the reason I think it's always difficult for public figures to talk about this is that the nature of politics is that you want to have everybody like you and project the best possible traits onto you. Oftentimes that's by being as vague as possible, or appealing to the lowest common denominators. The more specific and detailed you are on issues as personal and fundamental as your faith, the more potentially dangerous it is.

FALSANI:
Do you ever have people who know you're a Christian question a particular stance you take on an issue, how can you be a Christian and ...

OBAMA:
Like the right to choose.

Americans are tolerant and I think recognize that faith is a personal thing, and they may feel very strongly about an issue like abortion or gay marriage, but if they discuss it with me as an elected official they will discuss it with me in those terms and not, say, as 'you call yourself a Christian.' I cannot recall that ever happening.

H/T: Stop the ACLU

Responsive Commerce


An opinion piece by Tom Krattenmaker entitled "The Real Meaning of Christmas?" appears in USA Today. The first sentence reads:

This holiday is rooted in grand and inspiring purposes that have little to do with culture wars or a red-nosed reindeer — and even less with crass commercialism.

Inspired by the criticism of commerce in today's environment, economist and blogger Don Boudreaux sent off the following Letter to the Editor at USA Today.
Even more predictable than the post-Thanksgiving appearance of shopping-mall Santas is the inability of pundits at this time of year to say or to write "commercialism" without prefixing to it the word "crass" - as we encounter in your pages today in Tom Krattenmaker's "The real meaning of Christmas."

I challenge this notion. Commerce is peaceful. It involves sellers working hard and taking risks to bring to market goods and services that consumers want to buy. No one forces anyone to do anything; all is voluntary.

What truly is crass is politics - that sorry spectacle of power-seeking ego-maniacs who, when not pronouncing platitudes, are promising to help group A by picking the pockets of group B. While commerce is honest, politics is duplicitous. While commerce is peaceful, politics inevitably pits citizen against citizen. Far more enlightened and ethical behavior is on display during any one day in a shopping mall than the most intrepid observer will find in a century on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux
H/T: Mark Perry at Carpe Diem

Thomas O'Brien's MySpace Hoax


U.S. Attorney Thomas O'Brien


In 1966, flamboyant New Orleans' District Attorney Jim Garrison began an investigation of a possible conspiracy in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Garrison's basis for authority was an office in New Orleans supposedly used by Lee Harvey Oswald. Eventually a trial was conducted in which businessman Clay Shaw was charged with conspiracy to assassinate the president. A jury deliberated for less than an hour before acquitting Shaw.

Garrison denied that political ambition motivated his actions but he set out to end the life of a defendant on the flimsiest of evidence at a time when book after book was being written about JFK conspiracy theories.

Fast forward to 2008 and we find U.S. Attorney Thomas O'Brien stationed in Los Angeles bringing charges against so-called "internet bully" Lori Drew because the St. Charles County MO. Prosecutor Jack Banas refused to do so.

Jacob Sullum at Townhall tells the story:

A year ago, Jack Banas, prosecuting attorney for St. Charles County, Mo., said he would not bring charges against Lori Drew for her role in a MySpace prank that apparently provoked a 13-year-old girl to kill herself. The reason was simple: Although Drew's actions were cruel, childish, and irresponsible, she had not broken any laws.

"We live in this country by the rule of law," Banas warned would-be vigilantes. Thomas O'Brien, the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles, should have taken those words to heart. Instead this grandstanding prosecutor twisted the law to punish an unpopular woman and in the process threatened to expose millions of innocent Americans to criminal liability.

Today, newspaper ledes announced:

A federal jury ...rejected three felony charges against Lori Drew but convicted the O'Fallon, Mo., mother on Wednesday of misdemeanors in a landmark Internet bullying case linked to the suicide of her daughter's 13-year-old rival. After two days of deliberations, jurors could not reach a verdict on a fourth felony count, of conspiracy. And while they found Drew guilty of three misdemeanors -- all for accessing a computer without authorization -- jurors rejected similar felony charges that claimed she did it to cause emotional distress. After two days of deliberations, jurors could not reach a verdict on a fourth felony count, of conspiracy.
Townhall's story continued:
It was the right verdict, because Drew is not a hacker, and the charges against her had very little to do with the behavior for which she was widely reviled.

It all began with the estrangement of two friends: Drew's daughter, Sarah, and Megan Meier, who lived down the street in O'Fallon, Mo. In September 2006, according to testimony at Drew's trial, she began to worry that Megan was spreading nasty rumors about Sarah. Ashley Grills, an 18-year-old who worked for Drew's home-based advertising business, proposed a ruse through which they could learn what Megan was saying about Sarah: Grills would pose as a cute 16-year-old boy on MySpace, befriend Megan and gain her confidence.

Megan fell for the flirtatious, fictitious boy, Josh Evans, who eventually turned on her, saying he did not want to be her friend anymore. Grills, who testified against Drew in exchange for immunity, said she was trying to end a prank that had gone too far. In her last message as Josh Evans, she told Megan, "The world would be a better place without you." Grills said Megan, who had a history of depression and suicidal thoughts, replied, "You are the kind of boy a girl would kill herself over." A half-hour later, Megan used a belt to hang herself in her bedroom closet.

Although O'Brien clearly prosecuted Drew because he wanted to blame her for Megan's suicide, his case officially made MySpace the victim. According to O'Brien, Drew violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 by intentionally accessing MySpace's servers "without authorization." He claimed jurisdiction because the servers are located in Los Angeles County. The four charges he brought, conspiracy and three counts of unauthorized access, carry a total penalty of 20 years in prison.

But the charges did not fit the facts of the case. O'Brien claimed Drew's access to MySpace's computers was unauthorized because she violated the social networking site's terms of service (TOS) by providing false information and harassing another user. But he never presented any evidence that Drew saw MySpace's TOS, let alone agreed to them.

Furthermore, O'Brien's interpretation of the law would make criminals of us all. Shortly after the indictment, Orin Kerr, a George Washington University law professor who later volunteered as a pro bono attorney for Drew, noted, "Since everyone who uses computers violates dozens of different TOS every day, the theory would make everyone who uses computers a felon."

Even if breaking rules she never read amounted to unauthorized access, to fit the terms of the indictment Drew would have had to obtain information "in furtherance of" a "tortious act": the intentional infliction of emotional distress. But by the prosecution's own account, although Drew initially wanted to obtain information about rumors Megan supposedly was spreading, the emotional distress was inflicted by the insults of the make-believe boy Josh Evans, which did not hinge on any secrets learned via the fake MySpace account.

"Lori Drew decided to humiliate a child," O'Brien said in his closing argument. But humiliating a child, though reprehensible, is not a crime. By pretending otherwise, O'Brien sacrificed the rule of law to popular passions and thereby endangered anyone who uses the Internet without an attorney by his side.
Now, as was not the case of Jim Garrison, we may yet discover Thomas O'Brien's real motivation. Despite obtaining only misdemeanor guilty findings by the jury, O'Brien's actions encouraged extensive coverage by the drive-by media and a national ad campaign to stop "internet bullying."
“This was a very aggressive, if not misguided, theory,” said Matt Levine, a New York-based defense attorney and former federal prosecutor. “Unfortunately, there’s not a law that covers every bad thing in the world. It’s a bad idea to use laws that have very different purpose.”

New Deal Policies Prolonged Depression


Frank Warner reminds us that Obama's plan to use FDR's New Deal tactics may not be appropriate for these financial times:

Three months ago, a UCLA study concluded that FDR’s “New Deal” actually prolonged the Depression by seven years. Everyone trying to prevent another deep recession should study that study.

At a time when President-elect Barack Obama and fellow Democrats are talking about borrowing yet another $700 billion to “stimulate” our economy out of its bad-debt-driven stall, it would be wise to review why the Depression lasted an unusually long 15 years.

The studies’ two authors, both UCLA economics professors, warned that protecting big business from competition and pushing too much government stimulation are likely to produce the opposite of the intended boost.

Currently, Obama and Congress are considering a $25 billion bail-out of Detroit’s struggling Big 3 automakers. They aren’t proposing price collusion, but the bail-out itself would interfere with competitive market forces.

The UCLA study found that a federal stimulus can be toxic, more likely to further slow a dormant economy than to revive it.

“We found that a relapse isn’t likely unless lawmakers gum up a recovery with ill-conceived stimulus policies,” said Lee E. Ohanian, the study’s other author.

High wages, prices. By pushing wages and prices too high, the New Deal priced many workers out of the marketplace and made too many products unaffordable, driving up unemployment and adding to widespread misery, the study found.

Most Americans have high respect for Franklin Roosevelt because he gave hope to the unemployed when he took office in 1933 and later led America through World World II.

But FDR’s revered place in history should not prevent us from asking which economic forces dragged out the Depression, from 1929 all the way to 1944. Previously, most American recessions and financial panics lasted one to five years.

Debt on debt. It should give all of us pause to consider that the current financial panic was touched off by high-risk mortgages and soaring energy prices, and yet few federal proposals have anything to do with reducing home-loan risks or reaching real energy independence.

We’re already feeling a real stimulus of temporarily plummeting gasoline prices. It’s hard to imagine how adding $700 billion in “stimulus” debt to the $700 billion in financial “rescue” debt will help us in the short- or long-term. And those debts eventually must be paid back.

Just examine the Depression with an open mind. Learn from the mistakes. We’re a long way from a Depression today. In this panic, let’s avoid the temptation to pretend we’re helping if it’s more likely we’re hurting.

A Couple of Notes on Climate Change



From QandO:


New satellite data:

A new satellite predicts at least 23 years of global cooling

Several Canadian environmental scientists agree that the new Jason satellite indicates at least a 23-year cycle of global cooling ahead.

This oceanographic satellite shows a much larger than normal persistent Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). Cooler PDO phases usually last 21 to 25 years, so we should be quite chilly as a planet until at least 2030, maybe longer.

A point about natural cycles:
These alternating natural climatic cycles defy the so-called "climate consensus" that human-emitted carbon dioxide was responsible totally for the recent cycle of global warming that began in the late 1970s and peaked in 1998.

The Earth's previous warming phase from 1915 through 1939, which peaked in 1936 during the infamous Dust Bowl Days, was almost as warm as the recent cycle of global warming.

[...]

The last cooler cycle of global temperatures occurred from late 1939 to early 1976, peaking (or bottoming) in 1973. The harsh winters during World War II helped the U.S. and its allies defeat the Germans and later assisted our G.I.s in the Korean War due to extremely heavy snows and subzero temperatures north of the 38th Parallel.

In the past 10 years, especially the past couple of years, the Earth's climate has begun to cool, even though CO2 emissions have soared on a worldwide scale.
Should we indeed cool down as it seems the case, the case of cyclic climate change driven by natural causes should hold sway over any "consensus science" aimed at claiming a warming cycle has been begun by man and is unstoppable.

Another scientist speaking out against the "scientific consensus" is professor Tim Patterson:
A professor from Carleton University may get the cold shoulder from environmentalists when he speaks in London tomorrow.

Tim Patterson, a paleoclimatologist from the department of Earth sciences, will give an opposing view to Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth. Patterson is speaking at a Canadian Club of London luncheon.

He believes we should expect global cooling rather than global warming in the coming years.

"We're off on the wrong foot," he says. "There's been no global warming in the 21st century."

Climate change is not caused by humans, but by natural forces, Patterson says.

His research indicates cosmic rays from the sun affect temperature by impacting cloud formation.

When there are fewer cosmic rays, there are fewer clouds. Fewer clouds lead to warmer temperatures.
Cloud albedo has much to do with the regulation of temperature on the earth and is something which is poorly modeled or not modeled at all within the climate models used to drive the AGW theory. It is one of the reasons that AGW is now coming under increased scientific scrutiny and all but destroyed the former 'consensus'.

Bottom line - the only constant is climate change and it is beginning to appear that it is both natural and cyclic and pretty much driven by the sun. What a surprise.

Stop Blaming Capitalism for Government Failures


This article was written by Yaron Brook and Don Watkins. Yaron Brook is the president of the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights. Don Watkins is a writer at the Ayn Rand Center. The Ayn Rand Center is a division of the Ayn Rand Institute and promotes the philosophy of Ayn Rand, author of “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead.”

Speaking of the financial crisis, French president Nicolas Sarkozy recently said, “Laissez-faire is finished. The all-powerful market that always knows best is finished.”

Sarkozy was echoing the views of many, including president-elect Obama, who assume that the financial crisis was caused by free markets--by “unbridled greed” unleashed by decades of deregulation and a “hands off” approach to the economy. And given this premise, the solution, they say, is obvious. To solve this crisis and prevent another one, we need a heavy dose of Uncle Sam’s elixir: government intervention. Whether it’s more bailouts, stricter regulation, a new round of nationalizations, or some other scheme, the only question since day one has been how, not whether, government is going to intervene.

And the issue is wider than the financial crisis. Millions of Americans don’t have health insurance? Well, says Obama, that’s because we’ve left the health-care system to the free market. The solution: a complete government takeover of medicine. A few companies engaged in accounting fraud? It must be because we didn’t impose enough regulations on businessmen. The solution: rein in corporations with Sarbanes-Oxley.

But while capitalism may be a convenient scapegoat, it did not cause any of these problems. Indeed, whatever one wishes to call the unruly mixture of freedom and government controls that made up our economic and political system during the last three decades, one cannot call it capitalism.

Take a step back. In the lead up to the “Reagan Revolution,” the explosive growth of government during the ’60s and ’70s had left the American economy in disarray. A crushing tax burden, runaway inflation, brutal unemployment, and economic stagnation had Americans looking for an alternative. That’s what Reagan offered, denouncing big government and promising a new “morning in America.”

Under Reagan, some taxes were reduced, inflation was subdued, a few regulations were relaxed--and the economy roared back to life. But while markets were able to function to a greater degree than in the immediate past, the regulatory and welfare state remained largely untouched, with government spending continuing to increase, as well as some taxes. Later administrations were even worse. Bush Jr., often laughably called a champion of free markets, presided over massive new governmental controls like Sarbanes-Oxley and massive new welfare programs like the prescription drug benefit.

None of this is consistent with capitalism. As the economic system that fully recognizes and protects individual rights, including the right to private property, capitalism means, in Ayn Rand’s words, “the abolition of any and all forms of government intervention in production and trade, the separation of State and Economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of Church and State.” Laissez-faire means laissez-faire: no welfare state entitlements, no Federal Reserve monetary manipulation, no regulatory bullying, no controls, no government interference in the economy. The government’s job under capitalism is single but crucial: to protect individual rights from violation by force or fraud.

America came closest to this system in the latter half of the nineteenth century. The result was an unprecedented explosion of wealth creation and consequent rise in the standard of living. Even now, when the fading remnants of capitalism are badly crippled by endless controls, we see that the freest countries--those which retain the most capitalist elements--have the highest standard of living.

Why then should capitalism take the blame today--when capitalism doesn’t even exist? Consider the current crisis. The causes are complex, but the driving force is clearly government intervention: the Fed keeping interest rates below the rate of inflation, thus encouraging people to borrow and providing the impetus for a housing bubble; the Community Reinvestment Act, which forces banks to lend money to low-income and poor-credit households; the creation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with government-guaranteed debt leading to artificially low mortgage rates and the illusion that the financial instruments created by bundling them are low risk; government-licensed rating agencies, which gave AAA ratings to mortgage-backed securities, creating a false sense of confidence; deposit insurance and the “too big to fail” doctrine, whose bailout promises have created huge distortions in incentives and risk-taking throughout the financial system; and so on. In the face of this long list, who can say with a straight face that the housing and financial markets were frontiers of “cowboy capitalism”?

This is just the latest example of a pattern that has been going on since the rise of capitalism: capitalism is blamed for the ills of government intervention--and then even more government intervention is proposed as the cure. The Great Depression? Despite massive evidence that the Federal Reserve’s and other government policies were responsible for the crash and the inability of the economy to recover, it was laissez-faire that was blamed. Consequently, in the aftermath, the government’s power over the economy was not curtailed but dramatically expanded. Or what about the energy crisis of the 1970s? Despite compelling evidence that it was brought on by monetary inflation exacerbated by the abandonment of the remnants of the gold standard, and made worse by prices controls, “greedy” oil companies were blamed. The prescribed “solution” was for the government to exert even more control.

It’s time to stop blaming capitalism for the sins of government intervention, and give true laissez-faire a chance. Now that would be a change we could believe in.

Energy Policy Snake Oil

Iowa’s Ethanol Plants Create 15 Percent of its Emissions


At a time when energy policy snake oil is being sold wholesale, and the gullible are eagerly gulping it down, it's good to occasionally get a sobering dose of energy policy realism from someone who knows the issues well. Patrick J. Michaels , a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and professor of environmental services at the University of Virginia wrote this piece for the first "dead tree" edition of Townhall Magazine.
Big Government and Big Business are using fear mongering to subsidize inefficient energy "solutions"and enlarge the state. Beware of politicians and special interests disguised as do-gooders when considering the state of U.S. energy resources.


Exhibit A: Barack Obama's promise to bring "change," as compared to his 11-page position-paper on energy and global warming. What's new about a massive tax increase? What's new about a universe of promises that can never be delivered?

Obama's position on global warming is based upon an extreme point of view with little regard for some larger climate truths. He claims that Category 4 and 5 hurricanes have doubled in frequency in the last 30 years. In reality, they simply returned to a frequency observed in the 1950s and 60s -- 30 years ago was a low point in hurricane activity. Selective data citation doesn't amount to "change" by Washington standards.


Exhibit B: T. Boone Picken's plan to use wind power to replace energy produced from fossil fuels. As my colleague Jerry Taylor has noted, the claim that Picken's wind energy ideas "make a lot of sense" is correct only if your last name happens to be Pickens. Wind energy is a dubious invesment for a number of reasons.

First, absent subsidies, it's nearly twice as expensive to produce as coal-fired electricity, and the subsidies on the books, although lavish, have not managed to close that cost gap.

Second, wind turbines produce most of their electricity in off-peak hours, when wholesale electricity prices are lowest, and very little electricity during hot summer days when wholesale electricity prices are highest.

Third, because wind speed is variable, wind energy production is variable, and undependable dispatch usually forces win producers to operate of contract for back-up fossil electricity generation to meet commitments to the grid when wind facilities cannot. All of that largely explains why wind energy supplies only two-thirds of 1 percent of the electricity market.

Not much has changed about political candidates and fortune seekers scaring people to death in order to promote their agendas.

Obama and the Left want to reduce U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. Given that we are currently 15 percent above that level, they are calling for a reduction greater than 90 percent. That would rewind our per-capita emissions a full century, when there were few cars, no airplanes, rural electricity produced by windmills, and a quarter of our current population.

Politicians such as Obama want to achieve this reduction by making the burning of fossil fuel so expensive that no one could afford it. What does he intend to substitute? -- well he's met with Pickens but he apparently isn't completely sold on wind power and natural gas yet. Obama does propose to spend $150 billion in taxpayer dollars in the next 10 years trying to develop alternatives. The money he says will come from the dale of "permits" to emit carbon dioxide. He calls this an "investment" that "will transform the economy and create millions of new jobs."

Americans have reduced their consumption of gasoline by about 4 percent with prices averaging $3.75 per gallon. How much more expensive does fuel have o be to reduce our consumption 20 times more to reach the Left's 90 percent standard?

What about substituting ethanol for gasoline? Obama said, "Ethanol is the most successful alternative fuel commercially available in the U.S. today, and we should fight the efforts of Big Oil and Big Agribusiness to undermine this emerging industry." Actually, putting corn-based ethanol in gasoline increases overall emissions, as noted by Princeton researcher Tim Searchinger earlier this year. Similarly, diverting forested land for the production of bio-fuels also results in increased emissions.

The real corker in Obama's policy is his Mao-like vision of local ethanol cooperatives Rather than enjoy the economy of scale that result from large distilleries, Obama proposes a distributed network of "locally-owned bio-fuel refineries," noting that "less than 10 percent of new ethanol production today is from farmer-owned refineries." So what? Farmers have long sold their products to various large-scale processors. If it were more efficient to have a corn syrup plant at every Illinois crossroad, we would have known that long ago. Instead we send carloads to Cargill, ADM or other large and efficient operations.

And where wind is concerned, because wind energy can only be profitably cited in places where consumers are not, the cost of getting that electricity to ratepayers is far higher than it is for conventional power plants, which likewise adds substantially to cost.

What about all the carbon dioxide that is emitted when we burn our most abundant homegrown fuel, coal (which accounts for about half of our electrical generation)? Simple! We'll just capture the carbon dioxide and store it in a whole in the ground. The fact that no one has ever succeeded in doing this on a commercial basis is apparently no problem. Admittedly, that's "change." So is outlawing the incandescent light bulb.

Finally, Obama would have taxpayers "invest" in the development of "advanced vehicles." But that is not change.The last Democratic administration did that with the "Partnership for a New Generatrion of Vehicles." which threw about $1 billion at the then Big Three automakers to produce a passenger car that would get 80 miles to the gallon. Toyota and Honda declined the partnership and put out their first hybrid vehicles on the street in 1999 and 2000 without taxpayer help.

No, what Obama and Pickens are peddling is not new. Rather it is the same old Washington snake oil, threatening death and destruction and spending taxpayer dollars to subsidize the inefficient.

The Gospel of Obama

From the Times Online,

The Child returned from his travels - and final battle was joined

An epic pilgrimage and miraculous signs were not enough to convince all doubters of the anointed one, who would soon be forced to face his demons.

'He ventured forth': read the first chapter.


Despite the great wonders he had worked, the peace he had poured on the troubled waters, and the signs he had performed in Babylon and Jerusalem, there were some, yea even among his own countrymen, who refused to believe that he was the Anointed One.


Even when he joined hands with the Great Preacher Joseph of Biden, called the Blowhard, a wise man of many, many words, who had served in the Senate of the People for more than five generations, his enemies still strove to undo him.


In the summer, he travelled with his new friend Joseph to the Mile High City to speak to his followers. Four score thousand came to hear the word and their hearts were filled with joy and their spirits were lifted by his voice.


But despite the multitudes, there were still some among the Pharisees who secretly despised him. The followers of Queen Hillary muttered among themselves that he had defiled them with his disrespect. The people began to look for another leader.


And lo, in the west there appeared a rival, John, the Son of Cain. Now McCain was a great warrior. He was rich in wisdom and great of age, being, it was said, 936 years old. He had suffered sorely many years before in a war against the Asians. Eight years earlier he had bravely challenged the Evil Pharaoh Bush, but had been castrated by Bush’s feared henchman, Rove. He was straight of talk and, mounted on his trusty steed, a maverick, he began to find followers.

Being advanced in years, McCain needed a mate, a loyal follower who would succeed him when the time came for him to return to the Lord.


He had first considered Joe the Lieber-Man, but he was not of the same tribe as himself, but of the tribe of the Donkey. The tribesmen of the Elephant forbade him to make common cause with this renegade and so McCain sent his men far and wide to find another mate.


And they found him a woman, Sarah, from the North Country. She had dwelled long among the nomads of Wasilla and the North Slope. She was fair of face but unknown throughout the whole land, except among the Moose and the Caribou, who had grown to fear her. At first the scribes scoffed at Sarah. They mocked the way she spake and the vast family she had borne – her children were more numerous than the grains of sand in the desert or the stars in the sky.


But the people followed her and saw that she was good. Great crowds went out to meet her when she travelled with John. The word began to spread among the men of Gallup and Ipsos and Zog-Bee that they, and not the Child, might be the Chosen Ones.


And the Lord saw all this and fell into a righteous wrath at the people’s blasphemy. Did I not lead you out of slavery? he cried. Have I not shown you that it is the Child who is to save you from your exile in the House of Bush?


And he resolved to send down a great plague among the people of the Promised Land so they would understand their error.


The plague began in the valley of the subprime, smiting houses that had been purchased with money lent at unusually low interest rates, made possible by the foolish procurator Greenspan. The plague spread quickly across the land; and lenders and borrowers alike were laid low.

And it came to pass that a group of brothers, Lehman by name, an old and revered family, fell upon hard times because of the plague and they resolved to take themselves off to the Treasury. The Lehman brothers journeyed to the Treasury and fell on their knees and begged for help, even offering up in penance their asses. But the Treasury refused to heed their pleas, sent them away and told them to take their sorry asses with them. And with that, terrible signs appeared in the sky: Overnight Libor was elevated before the money changers’ eyes. Spreads on commercial paper widened as though in an earthquake, and all over the world the rivers of credit ran dry.


In great distress the people looked to McCain for help but he was confounded and had no answer to their pleas except for assurances that their fundamentals were sound, which the people did not want to hear.


All along, the Child smiled warmly and said little but promised salvation, and the people listened.


And it was about this time too that Sarah from the North Country was transformed. She began speaking in tongues. Sitting down with the Scribes of the media she was asked questions but replied in the language of Gobble-de-Gook and the people said among themselves: “What on earth is she talking about?” She no longer wore her simple sackcloth and parkas but appeared before the crowds in the finest robes from the stalls of Neiman-Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue.


The plague quickly smote the enemies of the Child and sowed confusion among the people. The House of McCain began to spring leaks and not even the handiwork of the great Joe the Plumber could make it whole.


And so the final battle was joined and the Child prevailed easily, in fulfilment of the Scriptures. From the mountains of the west to the great plains, to the piedmont and to the orange groves of the Gulf, a great wave lifted him up and propelled him to the threshold of the Executive Mansion. Only the poor, bitter people of Appalachia, clinging to their guns and their
faith, refused to listen to his word.

At last, when the scale of his great victory became clear, the rulers of all the world fell to their knees in unison and praised God, singing: “Obama in The Highest”.