Sink the Murtha

From The Washington Times comes an editorial with which every US Marine will find agreement.
The late Rep. John Murtha, Pennsylvania Democrat, has achieved his highest undeserved honor. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has decided to name the Navy's newest San Antonio Class amphibious transport-dock LPD 26 the USS John P. Murtha. This is a slap in the face to every service member who bridled when Murtha publicly accused Marines in Iraq of intentionally killing women and children in cold blood.

Murtha made his views known after details emerged about a firefight in Haditha in November 2005 in which 24 Iraqis were killed. Murtha accused the Marines of engaging in premeditated murder and agreed with MSNBC's Chris Matthews that this was "exactly" like the 1968 My Lai massacre in Vietnam. Charges later were brought against eight Marines but have since been dropped against all but one. However, Murtha's theatrical rush to judgment still rankles Americans in uniform, whose views on the congressman range from disappointment to the belief that he gave aid and comfort to the enemy.
The USS San Antonio is pictured above. The USS John P. Murtha has not yet been built (thank goodness) and rumor has it that Nancy Pelosi is behind the changing of Navy tradition since all other San Antonio class LPD ships are named after US cities. The Washington Times' final shot across the bow, is worth reading.
It's doubtful that the ship naming will do much to honor Murtha. The brave Marines and sailors who serve aboard this vessel probably will refer to it only as LPD 26 or come up with a colorful nickname like "Porky Pig" or the "Fat Bastard" (the Marine favorite). Perhaps Murtha could still be useful in supplying the ship's slogan: "Cold Blooded Killers."
Semper Fi!

Cartoon Truth: Color 'Em Red

Kudos to VarvBlog.

Volcanic Ash and Government Bureaucracy

Since the Iceland volcano erupted, environmental whackos who speak the Queen's English have been enjoying the grounding of all air traffic in the European Union, but especially in Jolly Old England. The blog plane stupid (bringing the aviation industry back to earth) proclaimed:

Life's full of blissful little ironies. We've plotted and plotted and plotted to ground the aviation industry, only to be pipped to the post by nature. Which is funny when our understanding was that aviation was supposed to wreck the environment, not the environment wreck aviation.
On the other hand, The Observer pointed out that man cannot control his environment.
By colonising the space above our heads and above much of our continent, the eruption provides a reminder of our status in relation to our planet and over which we have arrogantly seized stewardship. We imagine ourselves its master and yet with one modest belch it hems us into our little island, sweeping instantly from the skies the aeroplane, which we consider to be an example of the irrepressible genius of our species.
Unfortunately, the shutdown of British airspace was a decision made by stupid bureaucrats as we find out from Mail Online.
Britain’s airspace was closed under false pretences, with satellite images revealing there was no doomsday volcanic ash cloud over the entire country.

Skies fell quiet for six days, leaving as many as 500,000 Britons stranded overseas and costing airlines hundreds of millions of pounds.


However, new evidence shows there was no all-encompassing cloud and, where dust was present, it was often so thin that it posed no risk.

The satellite images demonstrate that the skies were largely clear, which will not surprise the millions who enjoyed the fine, hot weather during the flight ban.

Jim McKenna, the Civil Aviation Authority’s head of airworthiness, strategy and policy, admitted: ‘It’s obvious that at the start of this crisis there was a lack of definitive data.

'It’s also true that for some of the time, the density of ash above the UK was close to undetectable.’
But wait! This story gets juicier because the British government was up to their paint cans in this one.
The National Air Traffic Control Service decision to ban flights was based on Met Office computer models which painted a picture of a cloud of ash being blown south from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano.

These models should have been tested by the Met Office’s main research plane, a BAE 146 jet, but it was in a hangar to be repainted and could not be sent up until last Tuesday – the last day of the ban.
So this story is about economic disaster, government overreach, environmentalists and an erroneous computer model. Is it coincidence or conspiracy?

One further thought.  All aircraft on the European continent were grounded on the authority of an EU agency with a scary name ... are you ready for this? ... Eurocontrol, whose " aim is to ensure that your European flight will be safe, punctual and that it won't cost too much - either for you, or for the planet."

HT: QandO

Arizona Takes Off Its Rainbow Shades

Reacting to public concern over the increased violence on the Mexican border, which culminated with the murder of rancher Robert Krentz, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law a bill designed to immediately put illegal immigrants in violation of the law (albeit a misdemeanor) for setting foot in the Grand Canyon State. Additionally the new law directs state law enforcement agencies to make stops to assure that the law is not being violated. This law follows a 2006 law which penalizes employers for employing illegal aliens.

President Obama, and his lapdogs from the press, are about to bring forth a gigantic clash involving Federalism by making noises that the law is unconstitutional (since states cannot engage in enforcement of immigration status, a determination reserved for Federal authorities).  But this law is about regulating those standing on the soil of Arizona, and has nothing to do with immigration per seNo identidad, no mas!

The party of "fairness", otherwise known as the Dem-Asses, believe that racism can be the only motive for such a law. After all, no blue-eyed WASPs will be questioned by Arizona police (let's hope that they will not waste resources to be politically correct).

The problem is much more complex than the race card. In this financial crises, funds simply are too scarce to waste on providing free medical care and welfare to non-citizens breaking our laws. Furthermore, with real unemployment above 16%, American citizens should get first crack at the available jobs. We do not need to hear the nonsense that Gringos will not, under any circumstance, willingly do grunt labor as unskilled Mexicans do. There are two problems ... employers want cheap labor and Obama wants more power over the people (citizens or not) to attain  dependency among the masses in order to solidify his regime.

Fairness in America begins with everyone observing the Rule of Law. If "natural born citizens" are required to purchase licenses, buy permits, pay taxes, and live and breath in the "sunlight" (as opposed to the shadows of an underground society), then those immigrants seeking to find a better life in the US must do the same. That can only happen when the United States establishes control over its borders. The safety and prosperity of this great nation depends on a rational solution. When the dust has settled, it is clear that the Arizona law simply insists that existing Federal law be enforced.  Somebody needs tell the ACLU.

Washington Is Stuck In 1994

Washington Post columnist Robert McCartney took a walk.

I went to the "tea party" rally at the Washington Monument on Thursday to check out just how reactionary and potentially violent the movement truly was.

Answer: Not very.

Based on what I saw and heard, tea party members are not seething, ready-to-explode racists, as some liberal commentators have caricatured them.

Some are extremists and bigots, sure. The crowd was almost entirely white. I differ strenuously with the protesters on about 95 percent of the issues.

Nevertheless, on the whole, they struck me as passionate conservatives dedicated to working within the system rather than dangerous militia types or a revival of the Ku Klux Klan.

Although shrinking government is their primary goal, many conceded that the country should keep Medicare and even Social Security. None was clamoring for civil disobedience, much less armed revolt.

"Someone said in the Revolutionary War, they fired bullets. This time, we're firing politicians," said Clinton Lee, 28, a wedding photographer from Tampa wearing a Thomas Jefferson T-shirt.

The rally, estimated in the tens of thousands, also displayed a wacky, irreverent spirit that I found endearing.

I found that I agreed heartily with the tea partiers on what is perhaps their single biggest concern: that America's swelling government debt seriously threatens our long-term prosperity.

A member of the Washington elite and an influential writer for the Democratic regime's official house organ has looked upon the peasants and found them pleasing. But like the politicians he supports, McCartney misunderstands what he saw. Richard Fernandez at Belmont Club tries to explain:
A lot of people live in 1994. Time to switch the channels.

What’s driving the Tea Parties isn’t amorphous hate. It is concrete fear: worry that pensions have been devalued; medical care will become unaffordable; taxes are too high and jobs are gone, never to return. And a look around the world shows there’s no place to hide. When the wave hits it will be global. In the UK membership in political parties is at near historic lows. In America Congress’s popularity is lower than whales**t. The Eurozone is cracking up under its weight of debt. First Greece, now Portugal are being ripped off the cliff face like a zipper — and all the climbers are roped together. Japan is like a kamikaze sub heading for the depths and tapping out a sayonara. Russia was history long ago. And China, when it has used up its flowering moment, will face the consequences of its one-child policy. And Middle Eastern potentates, stuck in the same old, same old, are warning about a Summer War.

But perhaps the most unremarked thing about the Tea Parties is that they’re not calling for a repeal of the Constitution but for its enforcement. And that may be an advantage. If the world descends into a prolonged and tectonic crisis, the one clear advantage that America will have going into it is a clear and widely shared sense of the legitimacy of its foundational principles. That may not seem like much, but if a crisis impends a widely shared sense of legitimacy will be among the most precious things in a planet gone awry.

Yet politicians can’t see it. For perfectly natural reasons they fall into the habit of thinking everyone is a supplicant. It’s an understandable outcome of living in a world where someone is constantly asking them for something: photo opportunities, access to news releases, seats on Air Force One or Internet access. Nothing throws them for a loop more than something that doesn’t want anything they can bestow. The Tea Partiers already know the establishment is bankrupt. They don’t want to be the next Botox Queen, the next guest on Oprah or the man with Internet access on Air Force One; they only want their freedom and a chance to meet the crisis with common sense, if that’s not asking too much. It’s a novel idea which will take a little time for politicians to understand. But give them time and eventually someone will take credit for it. Tolkien understood both how power worked and its blindness.
For he is very wise, and weighs all things to a nicety in the scales of his malice. But the only measure that he knows is desire, desire for power; and so he judges all hearts. Into his heart the thought will not enter that any will refuse it, that having the Ring we may seek to destroy it. If we seek this, we shall put him out of reckoning.

On This Day In History: Paul Revere's Ride

On the night of April 18, 1775, Paul Revere made his midnight ride to warn the minutemen that the British were coming.
It was a typical spring evening in New England. The night was cool, but the man sweated underneath his clothing. The sounds and smells of the town were around him. He shifted his weight nervously as he waited.

He looked across the harbor at the dim lights of the city. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. He glimpsed a tall steeple of a church in the distance. The white steeple looked a ghostly gray in the night. The church moved him to mutter a silent prayer. He was lost in his thoughts for a time.

"There". A voice said beside him. The distant steeple glowed with a lantern hung in the belfry. A second light followed. The man leaped aboard his horse.

"Spread the alarm,'tis by sea." he said and spurred his mount into the countryside to warn the militia of the surrounding towns. He set off on the Lexington Road to warn Adams and Hancock. The British army was on the move. They must not be arrested, the arms of the colonists not confiscated. The man had not a thought of his own risk, the hard earned wealth he could lose in an instant. Fighting tyranny was worth any price.

He stopped at selected houses and taverns along the road. His whispered message "The Regulars are out", sent other horsemen into the countryside, warning the appropriate 'Minutemen' in Middlesex County. There was no shouting. The message spread across the fields and through the villages with silent efficiency.

Within a few hours the man had arrived in Lexington. He met with Sam Adams and John Hancock. His companion from Cambridge joined them a little after midnight and along with a third patriot set off towards the nearby town of Concord to warn the militia there the British were on the move to collect the arms cache hidden in Concord.

As the man and his companions, William Dawes and Dr. Samuel Prescott, reached the hamlet of Lincoln, they were stopped by a British picket. Dawes and the Doctor escaped into the dark, but the man had no choice but to submit. As dawn broke the man was being escorted toward the marching army -- back towards Lexington.

Nearing the town the officers and the man, silversmith Paul Revere, heard shouts. Soon shots rang out. The militia had mustered. The colonists had no intention of starting a war. Their only intent had been to bluff the authorities. As the shots rang out the three British officers made Revere dismount. Taking his horse they rode toward the distant fighting.

Revere walked through the cemetery to the house he was at just a few hours earlier. As citizens and the British Army scuffled on Lexington Green, Revere helped John Hancock and his family escape. As the party fled over the hills, Revere saw the militia he had helped muster fall back toward Concord and history.

Wall Street's Obamanation

Black helicopter sightings are not required to conclude that a connection exists between the Security & Exchange Commission's fraud charges against Wall Street icon, Goldman Sachs, and the Obama-supported banking regulations bill progressing through the Senate. In the face of Republican opposition to the banking bill, which resulted in all 41 GOP senators throwing down the filibuster gambit, two actions occurred. The first, of course, was the SEC charges against GS and the second was an email to the press from Prez Zeh Roh:

We cannot delay action any longer. It is time to hold the big banks accountable to the people they serve, establish the strongest consumer protections in our nation's history -- and ensure that taxpayers will never again be forced to bail out big banks because they are "too big to fail."
From a political perspective, the Republican senators are now between "a rock and a hard place" in their opposition to more government involvement in the private sector. This as a significant win for the "Chicago Way" players.

The Goldman Sachs fraud charges are a bit more complex to understand. On Friday, the SEC charged Goldman with securities fraud, alleging that the bank didn't tell investors in a collateralized debt obligation that hedge-fund firm Paulson & Co. had helped structure the deal and was betting against investments in the CDO. Further, The SEC accused GS of deliberately selecting the riskiest of mortgage instruments to bundle into its CDO, thus guaranteeing the investment would fail. Again, the timing of the SEC announcement has an intense odor about it because the investigation has been going on since July of 2009 and Goldman has previously reported this investigation to the public.

Further, Goldman Sachs has publicly stated that it favors stronger banking regulations for Wall Street; its employees contributed over one million dollars to Obama's campaign; and the administration's top financial people came from GS. As Bill Shakespeare said: "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark."

The only prediction that makes any sense from all this is that nothing will happen to Goldman Sachs or its executives ... but confidence in US financial markets will spin down again as a result of Obama's political game. The administration's strategy can only mean that TEA Party populism is getting too hot and Wall Street reform is designed to wrest independent investors away from the fold.

Obviously, from the TEA Party perspective, a good defense is countered by a better offense. Voters must be reminded that it was not Wall Street that brought on the financial bubble ... it was the quasi-government housing agencies, Freddie and Fannie, and the runaway desire by the Democratic Congress to continue to promote and fund sub-prime mortgages for minorities, even to those who cannot repay them.

You Picked A Fine Time To Lead Us, Barack!

Curiouser and Curiouser

I think it remarkable that within a week of Tiger Woods crashing his Escalade, the press found every woman with whom he had an affair in the prior two years, with photos, text messages, recorded phone calls, etc.

And, they not only know the cause of the family fight, but they even know it was a wedge from his golf bag that his wife used to break out the windows in the Escalade. Not only that, they know which wedge!

And, each and every day, they gave America updates on his sex-rehab stay, his wife's plans for divorce, and his plans to return to the pro golf circuit.

Obama has been in office for over a year now, and this same press still cannot locate Obama's official birth certificate, or any of his papers while in college, or how he paid for a Harvard education, or which country issued his visa to travel to Pakistan in the 1980's (as Barry Soetoro). They just can't be found.

Yet, the public still trusts that same press to give them the whole truth. Truly remarkable.

Rodger the Real King of France

Obama is a Socialist - Corporatist - Fascist

At the Southern Republican Leadership Council gathering, Ron Paul talked about our president:

"The question has been raised about whether or not our president is a socialist," Paul said. "I am sure there are some people here who believe it. But in the technical sense, in the economic definition of a what a socialist is, no, he's not a socialist."

"He's a corporatist," Paul continued. "And unfortunately we have corporatists inside the Republican party and that means you take care of corporations and corporations take over and run the country."

Paul said examples of President Obama's "corporatism" were evident in the heath care reform bill he signed into law last month. He said the mandate in the bill put the power over health care in the hands of corporations rather than private citizens. But he said the bill wasn't the only place where corporatism is creeping into Washington.
Ron Paul is not the first to call Obama a corporatist. Writing in RealClearMarkets Steven Malanga covered the concept of corporatism extensively.
Conservative critics of the president have said that the government’s GM strategy is one of many examples of an America drifting toward socialism. But President Obama is not a socialist. If his agenda harks back to anything, it is to corporatism, the notion that elite groups of individuals molded together into committees or public-private boards can guide society and coordinate the economy from the top town and manage change by evolution, not revolution. It is a turn-of-the 20th century philosophy, updated for the dawn of the 21st century, which positions itself as an antidote to the kind of messy capitalism that has transformed the Fortune 500 and every corner of our economy in the last half century. To do so corporatism seeks to substitute the wisdom of the few for the hundreds of millions of individual actions and transactions of the many that set the direction of the economy from the bottom up.

... We see hints of corporatism in America’s Progressive Reform movement of early 20th century America, with its notion that the country could be governed by an enlightened, technocratic, nonpartisan elite, which culminated in the presidential election of Woodrow Wilson--a political scientist who specialized in the study of public administration.

But a version of corporatism also emerged in the 1920s in Fascist Italy, where Mussolini conceived of syndicates in numerous industries composed of labor leaders and businessmen helping direct the Italian economy in the service of Fascism.
Interestingly, even the far left dislikes this middle-of-the-road concept between capitalism and socialism. George Soros criticizes the concept when he said: "Perhaps the greatest threat to freedom and democracy ... today comes from the formation of unholy alliances between government and business ... It used to be called fascism.”

So let us hear from the NY Times:
Sunday New York Times columnist Frank Rich toyed with acknowledging the manipulative, fake-progressive nature of Barack Obama and the broader corporate-managed "democracy" Obama epitomizes.

In an opinion-editorial bearing the provocative title "Is Obama Punking Us?" Rich notes the absurdity of Republican efforts to frighten the electorate by claiming that Obama is a socialist. "They have it backward," Frank observes (without bothering to explain what would be wrong with having a socialist president). "The larger fear is that Obama might be just another corporatist, punking voters much as the Republicans do when they claim to be all for the common guy."
So will Prez Zee Roh succeed in usurping our freedoms through unholy alliances with multi-national corporations? Steven Malanga makes these observations:
Still, great economic dislocations bring out the corporatist, which is why we now have a government board overseeing General Motors, and the Treasury Department has issued the first car warranty program in its history. It’s why some banks were pressured to accept bailout money they didn’t need and have been pressured not to return it to get out from under federal micromanagement. And it’s why the federal stimulus package contains such chestnuts as money to build out our broadband infrastructure, which comes with all sorts of strings attached by the Federal Communications Commission, because we somehow can’t rely on our phone, cable or internet companies to provide customers with the bandwidth they demand in networks that will suit our economy.

Corporatism is especially attractive to politicians, public intellectuals who serve as policy makers, and Nobel Laureates because it is ultimately a world managed by the few, the elect, through the state. If we are told enough times that nothing, even technological innovation, is possible anymore without significant contributions and directions from the state, maybe we’ll eventually come to believe it, although the inventors of the printing press, the steam engine, the light bulb, the telephone, and internal combustion engine and other game-changing technologies might wonder how they accomplished what they did without government.

Corporatism is not about regulating capitalism better as markets evolve. It is several steps beyond. It is instead about those who believe in “the beauty of pushing a button to solve problems,” as the economist Paul Krugman recently described his attraction to the social sciences. Some people worry about what happens when the regulators take charge of our economy. But the real concern is what happens when the button pushers take charge, for the button pushers are the corporatists.

GM Flushes $4.3 Billion

Stocks tumbled Wednesday following a report that consumer borrowing fell and General Motors said it lost billions of dollars during the second half of 2009. ~TickerWatcher
The price of GM shares dropped 25% to close at $1.43 in trading on the NYSE yesterday driving the stock value down by 55% in 2010. But the brave new world of Government Motors with its "fresh-start" balance sheet is trying to spin its reported loss of $4,300,000,000 (that's billion folks!) as good news that foretells a profit in 2010.
Nearly all of the loss came in North America, where the car market struggled through much of 2009. The losses included a one-time $2.6- billion pay-out to a health fund for retired union workers.

GM reported global revenue of 57.5 billion dollars over the July-December period. For the fourth quarter of 2009, GM posted a loss of $3.4 billion on revenues of $32.3 billion.

In Europe, GM lost $813 million over the second half of 2009 on revenues of $6.8 billion.

GM lost more than $30 billions in 2008 after a decade of steadily shrinking market share. The US economic crisis helped push GM over the edge, forcing it into a 40-day bankruptcy in June 2009.

Since leaving bankruptcy, GM has been in the process of shrinking production, cutting structural labor and health costs and shedding loss-making brands including Pontiac, Saturn and Hummer.

After watching vehicle sales plummet nearly 30 percent over the course of 2009, GM reported a 17 percent gain in sales over the first three months of this year.

GM Chief Financial Officer Chris Liddell reiterated that GM would pay back all emergency government loans by June and said there was "a good chance" that the largest US carmaker could return to profitability in 2010.
Shallow analysis of the gigantic problems facing GM is not going to make their problems disappear. We already see that the legacy costs surrounding overgenerous pension plans and health coverage for retirees has bit into the company for $2.6 billion in less than one year. A look at the "new" GM balance sheet shows a $35,794,000,000 liability for post retirement benefits that were not forgiven under bankruptcy.

GM has made progress in downsizing, but the fact remains that closing plants requires spending additional capital at the remaining plants to maintain needed production capabilities and the auto giant has spent TARP provided funds like a drunken sailor and reducing it's labor force has been very costly. As The Truth About Cars reports:
GM began its downsizing even before its TARP-related restructuring efforts reduced the number of its North American brands from eight to four. According to a GM news release, approximately 66,000 U.S. hourly workers left the company under a special attrition program between 2006 and 2009. Often the lump-sum payments and buyouts offered by these programs were paid from company assets, but when these benefits are paid from pension assets, there can be an impact on the plan’s financial status. GM noted that the attrition programs implemented between 2006 and 2009 contributed to an increase of estimated plan obligations during this period and—along with other factors, such as discount rate changes— played a role in the recent increase in GM's pension liabilities
The Truth About Cars also has some pertinent observations on the automaker's Consolidated Statement of Operations for the period July 10, 2009 and December 31, 2009.
Of course, you have to dig into the numbers to find the bad news, like the $56.4b in “cost of sales,” or the $700m interest cost, or the 48 percent North American capacity utilization in 2009, or the 16.3 percent US car market share.
The $56.4 billion in cost of sales compares to sales of only $57.4 billion.  That is a mark-up over manufacturing costs of only two-tenths of one percent and does not cover selling, administration, interest or taxes.  You don't have to be an accountant to understand that this result is pathetic, despite having  benefited from the Cash for Clunkers government giveaway.  Market share in the US continues to drop through December, going down 3 full percentage points in the fourth quarter.

It would appear that demand for GM cars is not growing significantly despite slick new ads proclaiming GM cars are better than competitors. Consumers seem to understand that all that GM has apparently added to its cars is gadgets ... and we are told that environmentalists everywhere anxiously await the $40,000 Chevy Volt that will permit 40 miles of driving on a single charge.

Taxpayers are in fact punishing GM for having to fund its bailout.  Investors are staying away from GM stock in droves, while Ford stock just hit a seven-year high in stock value this week.  We now know that GM is not too big to fail ... and given enough time, will likely fail again.  The opportunity to scuttle the United Autoworkers Union, its work rules, its exorbitant pay scales and its unbelievable fringe benefit obligations, has not been permitted under government manipulation of bankruptcy rules.  There will be no soft landing next time.  The only question left to answer is "when is 'next time'?"