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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Boucher Is Licking His Chops

I've not been called a cynic ... today. So I'll be careful to suggest that Congressman Rick Boucher (D-Magic Kingdom) must be practically orgasmic knowing that a pile of cash is about to be dumped on his desk for more hair sheep research and horseback riding trails here in Southwest Virginia:
Stimulus Package To First Pay for Routine Repairs*
By Alec MacGillis and Michael D. Shear, Washington Post Staff Writers

President-elect Barack Obama calls it "the largest new investment in our national infrastructure since the creation of the federal highway system in the 1950s."

Most of the infrastructure spending being proposed for the massive stimulus package that Obama and congressional Democrats are readying, however, is not exactly the stuff of history, but destined for routine projects that have been on the to-do lists of state highway departments for years. Oklahoma wants to repave stretches of Interstates 35 and 40 and build "cable barriers" to keep wayward cars from crossing medians. New Jersey wants to repaint 88 bridges and restore Route 35 from Toms River to Mantoloking. Scottsdale, Ariz., wants to widen 1.5 miles of Scottsdale Road. [link]
To read this, you'd come away believing there'll be no wasteful pork spending inserted in Obama's infrastructure bill. You'd also have to suspend belief in there being a United States Congress involved in the process.

So, yeah, we'll probably get some bridges built - some of them going "nowhere" - and we'll get I-77 repaved again. But we'll also see the biggest binge of wasteful spending ever known to man. The Democrats will see to that. And Obama will turn his head away, not wanting to sully his reputation (think of his relationship with Ayres, Wright, Rezco, Blagojevich ... Congress ... who?).

Boucher is probably right now burning the midnight oil. So much money to be spent. So little time. So few worthy projects. Hey, how 'bout some more hair sheep?

- - -

* Even the Washington Post copy editor who wrote the headline knows this is bullshit. Note the insertion of the word "First." First Obama will ask for bridge and road repair. Then Congresspersons will line up asking for money to go to every constituent they've ever met and spend money on every lame project anyone could dream up.

U.S. Auto Makers Are Doing Just Fine


That's right. It's only GM, Ford, and Chrysler that are sucking sand.

Take a look at this chart that shows GM's most recent net profit reporting compared to the other "U.S." auto makers:

The chart also shows what's called "EBITDA," or Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization, which, coupled with the net profit figures, certainly says a lot about the disparity the various manufacturers face in the way of taxes, since the lion's share of Honda's, Toyota's, and Daimler's sales and manufacturing take place overseas. It also says a lot about depreciation, which affects GM in a major way because of its enormous pool of fixed assets - many of which sit idle - that reap a burdensome toll on the company's bottom line.

But the point is this: Companies can make cars in this country at a profit. It's only Ford, GM, and Chrysler that can't.


One of many reasons from Investor's Business Daily:
... [G]old-plated union contracts are a big reason for U.S. automakers' woes (though managerial incompetence at the Big Three also played a role). The average Big Three worker made $73.26 an hour in 2006; the average worker at a foreign transplant, $44.20. Bailout foes wanted the gap to be shrunk by the end of next year.

Last year, Toyota made 9.37 million vehicles. GM, virtually the same number. Yet, Toyota made a profit of $38.7 billion on its global operations, or $1,874 per car, while GM lost $38.7 billion, or $4,055 a car, almost entirely due to its operations in the U.S.

Even so, the UAW vowed to make no big changes unto 2011, when their current deal expires. That basically would lock in the Big Three's lack of competitiveness for at least three more years, requiring billions and billions more in bailouts or bankruptcy. [link]

There are other reasons as well. The Pontiac Aztec best exemplifying one of them.

But product designs can be quickly changed or upgraded. Union contracts are set in stone.

Too bad. 2011 is a long way off.

And that Toyota Venza is a smokin' hot looking automobile.

Why I Rarely Read E.J. Dionne

Besides the fact that he tends to wander, I find the New York Times columnist to be as hate-filled and spiteful as one can imagine - to the point where he comes across as being a raving lunatic. If there was ever one person for whom the term Bush Derangment Syndrome was created to describe, it would be E.J. Dionne. He's consumed by it. Everything he writes is oozing with it.

Case in point. Today's column: "Two Cheers for Rod Blagojevich." Now you might think this is a piece about Illinois' embattled governor. But you'd be surprised to find the following words throughout this 1500 word (wandering) screed:


"Scooter Libby."

"Dick Cheney."

"President Bush."

"Karl Rove."

"George Tenet, L. Paul Bremer and Gen. Tommy Franks, three of the most culpable stooges of the Iraq fiasco."

"Forrest Gump." [?]


"Kenneth Lay."


"Phil Gramm."

"John McCain."

"O.J. Simpson." (I told you he wanders.)

"Donald Rumsfeld."

Revealingly, there are more mentions of George W. Bush in this column than there are of the central figure - Rod Blagojevich.

Charles Krauthammer must know Dionne well. He devised the following psychological condition:

Bush Derangement Syndrome is "the acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the policies, the presidency — nay — the very existence of George W. Bush."

I can't speak to Dionne ever having been normal, but he's certainly beset by demons these days.

Not a pretty sight to behold, is it.

A Real Disconnect

Tell me something. How can the same New York Times that is now publishing daily stories about Barack Obama's absolute, without a doubt, clear as a bell, unequivocal, without question non-involvement in the unfolding Governor Blagojevich scandal (here's today's) print this?
In Illinois, a Virtual Expectation of Corruption
By Kate Zernike

As much as politicians in Illinois have had a tradition of corruption, the people of Illinois have had a tradition of accepting it, even expecting it, long before Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich was accused of trying to put a United States Senate seat up to the highest bidder.

“There is this attitude among politicians, and frankly among citizens, that this is the way things are,” said Kent Redfield, a professor of political science at the University of Illinois at Springfield. “Politics is for professionals.” [link]
So which is it? Is Obama an asterisk or is he up to his eyeballs in the corrupt ways of Chicago politics?

As pointed out here, the state of Illinois is rife with political corruption, but the New York Times never bothered - to any measurable degree - and still refuses to bother - to investigate Obama's relationship with all the crooks there? The same crooks who guided his path to political success?

Instead we get a dismissive declaration:

"Prosecutors say Mr. Obama is not a subject of the investigation. And he has been a champion of ethics reform in the Illinois Legislature and in the Senate."

That's not reporting. That's cheerleading.

It seems to me that the New York Times, like all Illinois politicians, isn't to be trusted.

- - -

* In the first article cited above, we get this quote:

"In announcing the charges against Mr. Blagojevich, Mr. Fitzgerald [the federal prosecutor] said the president-elect was not implicated in the case."

In the second, we get this:

"Prosecutors say Mr. Obama is not a subject of the investigation."

Seems important to the Times that this be the message taken away from this saga. I'll bet the boys there are hoping and praying that it doesn't have to be modified in the near future. You can bet, though, they'll not be the ones checking it out.

Hollywood Keeps Crankin' 'em Out ...

... and the moviegoing public continues to stay home. At least whenever there's a leftist theme involved.

Somebody tell me the new Keannu Reeves movie, "The Day the Earth Stood Still," isn't about global warming. Please. For the love of God, no.

Critics Pan 'Day the Earth Stood Still' Remake With Global Warming Theme
By P.J. Gladnick, NewsBusters

The reviews are in for the environmentally themed "The Day the Earth Stood Still" remake and the results are more devastating than any destruction that Gort could do to our planet. Over at Rotten Tomatoes, this remake received a lowly 24% on the Tomatometer. This lousy reception to "The Day the Earth Stood Still" remake was fairly predictable. Back in April, Newsbusters writer Warner Todd Huston discussed the reasons why this movie remake would have problems:

"...As far as the new 'Day' movie goes, these powerful aliens are mad at us not because we are mean to each other, not because we might then bring that meanness with us into outer space. No, the important message that the Keanu Klaatu wants to bring us, the message that will warn us of an apocalyptic impending alien police action is….

"Global warming.

"That’s right folks, apparently the new 'Day' movie is positing that the worst thing man has done, the one thing that will make an alien race ponder our destruction, is that we caused global warming."

Here I was thinking the other day that I'd like to put the movie on my Netflix rental list. Well, that sure ain't gonna happen now.