De-Stimulator: Solyndra Files For Bankruptcy

Today's big business news in the Bay Area was the bankruptcy filing by Fremont-based solar panel maker Solyndra. Not only did 1,100 people lose their jobs, but American tax payers lost $535 million in "loan guarantees," which sounds more, ah, market based than what they really were: payouts to a favored corporation.

Solar-cell manufacturer Solyndra Inc. announced today that it would seek bankruptcy protection, suspend work at its Fremont facilities and lay off 1,100 employees, as the recent plunge in panel prices undercut the company's sales.

Solyndra, whose modules are thin tubes rather than flat panels, gained national attention in 2009 when it won a $535 million loan guarantee from the federal government to build a second factory in Fremont, near the company's headquarters. State and federal officials cited the project as an example of how the green tech industry could generate jobs.

But the company had to cancel its plans for a $300 million initial public stock offering last year, and it struggled to compete against a flood of inexpensive solar cells pouring into the market from new factories in China.

If you want to read about the crony capitalism aspect of this story, Verum Serum has you covered. I'm more concerned with the spectacle of yet another failure of the sort of "socially responsible" investing that smug progressives never fail to nag us about during Republican "anti-science" administrations.

Right-wing talk radio blowhards are falling over each other playing soundbites from Pres. Obama's visit to the Solyndra plant in May 2010. This certainly should be embarrassing to all of those Greens who assured us that this was the wave of the future. As it turned out, it wasn't even the wave of next year.

Sowell's Law: Using Politics To Predict Your Preferences

Thomas Sowell's insight in the conflict of visions between the constrained and unconstrained ways of looking at the world is one of the best means available to understand the liberal/conservative divide in American politics. Not only that, it's quick way to predict choices and preferences that people make in their daily lives.

For example, before last week, it would have never occurred to me to wonder about the political affiliations of the CEO's of America's leading guitar manufacturers. But now that I know, is it any surprise as to what my choice of guitar has been for the last 8+ years?

As with conservatism, Gibson guitars are something you work up to. Like many guitarists, I started out playing a no-name Korean brand, then moved on to some cheap Squires, then to a "Made In Mexico" Fender (a Tele, if you must know). After 20 years of semi-serious playing, I picked up a Gibson SG and realized, my God, now I'm playing a guitar. There's just something in the thickness of the neck and the perfectly balanced weight of the body that makes you feel like you're playing something that a human being labored over. I know that the Stratocaster is the "sexy" rock guitar, but Gibsons are what everyone uses when they want to get serious.

As for twee little Martin, and its progressive CEO, well you're talking about the Martha's Vineyard of guitars: expensive, exclusive, and mostly used by Peter Paul & Mary types who want to sing about whales. Never liked Martins much (frankly, I don't care about acoustic guitars as much as I do electrics), but Gibson acoustics are much more beautiful, and user friendly.

Just don't ask me about my favorite brand of drums.

Zoned Out: What Happened To The Ground Zero Mosque?

Barry Rubin updates us on the status of the Ground Zero Mosque, which you may recall was an issue that exploded this time last year with the "proper" opinion being it should be built immediately (and opponents were racist Tea Baggers in the pay of the Koch Brothers). Well, Rubin reports that the Mosque is never going to be built despite the best efforts of the enlightened left:

Readers of my column know that I have written repeatedly that the “Ground Zero” mosque would never be built for reasons having nothing to do with politics. The main financiers and the imam have gotten into one legal problem after another and Allstate Insurance Company is now launching a major lawsuit for fraud against one of them. As we approach the tenth anniversary of September 11, it’s clear that there isn’t going to be a mosque next to the World Trade Center attack site.

From the start, it seemed to me that the whole project was designed as something of a scam by shady characters to get lots of money from the contributions of the Saudis and others. In other words, the controversial and triumphalist aspects of the mosque were a public relations’ scheme designed to win millions of dollars from the Muslim-majority world’s millionaires. When the money didn’t materialize–the controversy didn’t help matters–the whole thing fell apart.


Here’s the real story:

A group of people with a terrible record as developers who didn’t develop, businessmen who didn’t pay their bills, and slumlords put together a very badly designed project that would never otherwise have gotten zoning and other permits. In other words, the true story is how city officials gave special privileges and the media gave sweetheart coverage because people were Muslims building a mosque, not that there was discrimination against Muslims who wanted to build a mosque. Remember, in the end the mosque project got everything its advocates wanted and yet it still wasn’t built.

It is the story of how the corrupt can play a system built around special privileges for special categories of people, in which fear of being labelled some variety of “racist” overrides the proper enforcement of the law.

You have to laugh at this stuff. I mean, the president and the mayor of New York went on Full Smug Liberal Alert over this thing! No one - no one, that is, except the American public, which recoiled at the thought of a Ground Zero Mosque - thought to question the propriety of such a mosque. And, if they did so question, they never even reached the issue of whether the sleazy imam at the center of the project was the right man for such a fraught job. And after all that, whinging Muslims and their political sponsors got everything they wanted - and still couldn't get the job done.

Of course, if they point of such a pointless controversy was to divide Americans over the issue of whether a mosque could be built in a particular location, then I guess you could say "Mission Accomplished," but that seems like a dubious mission indeed. I'd like to think someone out there is embarrassed over this, but it's not likely.

Jail Guitar Doors: The Feds Raid The Gibson Factory

If you're looking for a fitting symbol for the heavy hand of government in the age of progressive politics, you can't do better than the US Dept. of Fish & Wildlife's raid of the Gibson guitar factory.

Federal agents swooped in on Gibson Guitar Wednesday, raiding factories and offices in Memphis and Nashville, seizing several pallets of wood, electronic files and guitars. The Feds are keeping mum, but in a statement yesterday Gibson's chairman and CEO, Henry Juszkiewicz, defended his company's manufacturing policies, accusing the Justice Department of bullying the company. "The wood the government seized Wednesday is from a Forest Stewardship Council certified supplier," he said, suggesting the Feds are using the aggressive enforcement of overly broad laws to make the company cry uncle.

It isn't the first time that agents of the Fish and Wildlife Service have come knocking at the storied maker of such iconic instruments as the Les Paul electric guitar, the J-160E acoustic-electric John Lennon played, and essential jazz-boxes such as Charlie Christian's ES-150. In 2009 the Feds seized several guitars and pallets of wood from a Gibson factory, and both sides have been wrangling over the goods in a case with the delightful name "United States of America v. Ebony Wood in Various Forms."

The question in the first raid seemed to be whether Gibson had been buying illegally harvested hardwoods from protected forests, such as the Madagascar ebony that makes for such lovely fretboards. And if Gibson did knowingly import illegally harvested ebony from Madagascar, that wouldn't be a negligible offense. Peter Lowry, ebony and rosewood expert at the Missouri Botanical Garden, calls the Madagascar wood trade the "equivalent of Africa's blood diamonds." But with the new raid, the government seems to be questioning whether some wood sourced from India met every regulatory jot and tittle.

The gag is that the feds aren't enforcing US law - well, technically they are - what they are doing is enforcing a US law requiring the feds to enforce Indian and Madagascan law about importing certain types of protected wood species. But, those countries don't seem to be enforcing their own laws, but are exporting the wood. And you have to love the idea of Madagascar's "blood wood." I like to follow the news from Madagascar (check my "Madagascar" tag), and I have never heard of this concept.

We heard a lot about the dark night of fascism descending on the US during the Bush years. But, I'll tell you this: you would never have a raid like this under a Republican administration. US Greens idled hundreds of highly skilled workers, gave a venerable US manufacturer reason to consider moving overseas, and did so even though Gibson has already gone out of its way to make sure it is complying with America's onerous envvironmental regulations, which we are assured don't affect the economy at all (oh, heavens No!) and certainly don't cause the loss of the sort of skilled manufacturing jobs that liberals claim to to be so concerned about.

Oh, and Gibson CEO Henry Jusckiewicz apparently donates to conservative causes and operates out of a right to work state. There are a lot of US based guitar shops, but only this one (and non-union Peavey) have been targeted by the feds. Imagine that.

Also, musicians are worried that their guitars will be seized by customs inspectors if they can't prove they were manufactured with the correct wood. That's life under our cool, progressive president.

Gibson Guitars, and the musicians who use its products, are not criminals. But they are being treated as such and are threatened with more; all in the name of a bogus environmental ideology that restricts freedom in increasingly absurd ways.

Once More Mitt Feeling

This video of Mitt Romney has been making the rounds today. He offers an impassioned enough response to a lefty plant's question about budget cutting to earn the "Chris Christie" Award for today.

Gotta say, that was pretty impressive. Romney has mostly been a haircut and a smile offering careful responses during this primary season, but here he really earns some valuable "I will fight for you" cred. And, although he gets heated, he never lets the obnoxious questioner get his goat. Look at how he smiles throughout. Good to see that.

Special mention should go to the woman trying to jerk Romney's chain. She's almost a parody of the smug progressive "speaking truth to power." Listen to how she tries to conflate balancing a budget with cutting government entirely. (Oh, Nos!) Listen to her casually denigrate Romney's audience, whom she accuses of wanting to hear platitudes. And most of all, notice how she just won't shut up. She'll be bragging about this for years.

If the Obama Team really is going to "destroy" Romney, at least we now know he'll go down fighting.

Compound Interest: Inside Col. Qadaffi's Lair

The Wall Street Journal published an "interactive map" of Col. Qadaffi's compound. Although the Mad Dog liked to cultivate the image of the simple army officer who lived in a tent, the truth was a lot more boring. He was just another Middle Eastern potentate living large on oil money while his subjects scraped by.

Qadaffi might have been a dictator - who isn't in that part of the world? - but he was also enough of a socialist to have attracted the approval of such figures as Louis Farrakhan, Rev. Wright, and Nelson Mandela. Qadaffi also liked to play the "authenticity" card, meeting visitors in his ceremonial tent, which can be seen in the map, and which was dwarfed by the main building where Qadaffi repaired to after a day play-acting at "simple tribesman" dress-up.

Socialism is a funny thing. It pretends to be the vanguard of the future, but the people who manage to assert themselves into the head of the parade manage to live better than the monarchs and prime ministers whom they replace.

Gold To Lead: Violence Mars SF-Raiders Game

There's a tradition for the Bay Area's two NFL teams to play one another during the pre-season (they meet up occasionally during the regular season). Usually this involves a lot of trash talking and good-natured ribbing, especially if you wear a Raiders jersey to Candlestick. But, this year's rivalry game was a little more...intense.

San Francisco police were seeking witnesses Sunday to the shooting of two men and the severe beating of a third in a restroom at Candlestick Park, as city and league officials condemned a rash of attacks and brawls that marred the annual preseason football game between the Raiders and 49ers.

The most severely injured victims from Saturday night - a 24-year-old wearing an anti-49ers T-shirt who was shot, and a 26-year-old who was beaten - were listed in serious condition at San Francisco General Hospital, suggesting they would survive.

Meanwhile, video footage of fights between fans at the stadium popped up on YouTube, showing a chaotic and dangerous scene at an event that drew tens of thousands of fans.

Memo to excitable football hooligans: it's a pre-season game!!! At this point, you're not even seeing the starters any more. Are you really going to go to jail over that?

More seriously this looks like a real watershed event for the 49'ers. Maybe the Raiders have the rep as a bad boy team, but all of this happened at Candlestick, with Raiders fans apparently bearing the brunt of the attacks. I heard on the radio this morning (so it *must* be true) that the the NFL stadium with the most arrests last year was (drumroll) Candlestick. Clearly we are a long way from the days when 49'ers fans were derided as brie-eating wine sippers. After the Giants won the World Series last year, I wrote that this had marked the moment when San Francisco officially went from being a football town to being a baseball town. Now, it's even worse. Now, it's gotten to the point where a lot of regular people - folks who have been 49'ers fans for decades - won't even go to games any more.

Like a lot of people I haven't been to Candlestick in years (maybe not since the late-1990's), but word on the street has been that it has become more and more unpleasant with each passing year. We're talking a drunken scene in the parking lot, boorish fans in the stands, and lots of fighting. Not surprisingly the 49'ers descent has tracked its ownership troubles. Before Eddie DeBartelo was pushed out when he got mixed up in a gambling/corruption case in Louisiana, he at least was able to field a winning team, and ran a classy operation. No more. The Yorks have demonstrated once and for all that their frank disinterest in the team (they still live in Ohio, for pete's sake!) has caused it to fester and fall apart. And that's not to mention the team's persistent losing ways.

Also, everyone's dancing around this, but there was apparently a heavy gang presence at Candlestick on Saturday night. ESPN is reporting that many of the fights arose from tension between ... get this...Nortenos and Surenos gang members. Random acts of dumb violence in public - it's another job that Americans won't do!

The obvious solution is to increase security at the games, both with the police and private security guards. But, that's only the beginning. Football games, especially those involving mediocre teams, are often little more than elaborate beer delivery systems. That has to be cut off at some point. But the 49'ers have to deal with the fact that at least some of their fans are become more trouble than they are worth.

How To Lose The H-P Way

When Hewlett-Packard announced that it was essentially getting out of the PC business, my reaction was WTF??? Looks like a lot of people felt the same way:
Investors abandoned Hewlett-Packard Co. after its plan to get out of the personal computer business left serious questions about the technology company's strategy.

H-P Shares plunged 20% Firday to $23.60, erasing about $12 billion in market value and leaving the stock near six-year lows.

H-P shocked investors Thursday when it said it is looking to sell or spin off its PC business, the world's largest. It also agreed to pay more than $10 billion for British soft ware maker Autonomy Corp.
H-P is one of the largest PC makers in the world, a position it earned in part through the bruising (and expensive) Compaq merger of 10 years ago. Not saying that was a genius move, but if turning your back on that was also a turning your back on one of the defining moments in the company's history. Plus, it's a multi-billion dollar business. Maybe it's not the wave of the future anymore, but it's something.

The rationalization is that this is a post-PC world of tablets and smartphones, so it's best to get out of the hardware business now before it's too late. (Here's H-P board member Marc Andresson's defense of their strategic decision making). That may be, but it's hard to imagine that PC's are simply going to disappear, any more than we are going to see the rise of the paperless office. Adding to the confusion, H-P also announced that it was confronting the brave new world of tablets by ... getting out of the tablet business.

Anyway, it's a mess. As others have noted, H-P recent losses have erased entirely the gains they had under former CEO Mark Hurd, who lost his job after tripping over the company's peculiar approach to business ethics. You can talk grandly about how special your company is, but often the "H-P Way" is little more than a way for the Illuminati to assert their will.

Whatever the merits or demerits of the Compaq merger (and eventually it became more an exercise in ego and "doing the deal" than it was a business decision), you didn't need the "H-P Way" to tell you that buying a PC maker would be expensive and messy.

You didn't need the "H-P Way" to tell you that spying on journalists and H-P board members was a bad idea and border-line criminal (although it was funny that H-P's most determined compliance hounds were its most enthusiastic spies).

And you certainly didn't need the "H-P Way" to tell you whether your CEO's clumsy sexual interest in an aging blond was a firing offence.

Also, you don't need the "H-P Way" to make a decent printer. Have I mentioned my traumatic experiences with H-P printers yet?

The "H-P Way" should be like Google's "Don't Be Evil:" a cute little mission statement that is also a good bit of self-aggrandizing PR. But, H-P actually seems to make long term strategic decisions based on it. Why not toss the I-ching while you're at it? Like GM before, H-P has a business that has (temporarily) allowed it to print money. But, also like GM, H-P is unique in its industry for its combination of size and management flailing.

A Simple Plan

Tom Smith provides what may be the simplest, most easily digested critique of liberalism that I've seen this year:

I ... just don't believe that if you take money away from people who were smart, energetic, focused and maybe even ruthless enough to make it in the first place, and give it to politicians and bureaucrats to allocate to projects they have a notion are good ideas, that will somehow create wealth. I worked in government and with government for about six years, long enough to realize it's difficult to get government workers to do anything simple on time, let alone come up with some new way to make money. Forget about morality and incentive effects -- how likely, how plausible is it that doing this will create wealth? And assuming this is a big waste of money, which it is, how can wasting money be anything but, well, a waste of money? With apologies to my literal scriptural friends, when I read Krugman or somebody else talking this way, it's like listening to the people who say, oh no, the dinosaurs were created six thousand years ago and were all vegetarians until Adam ate that apple, at which point they started killing and eating each other. That is, my jaw drops and I think HTF can they actually believe that? You take money from millionaires, give it to people not smart enough to do the same, they keep part of it and give the rest to their pals, and this makes us all richer. Right.

The funny thing is, I think even many liberals don't believe in liberalism. Oh, that doesn't mean they're not liberal. Of course they are. They'll get weepy over some injustice, and then demand that the government Do Something until Doomsday. But, they must know in the backs of their heads that liberalism as it has been practiced since the days of the Great Society is a hopeless, expensive mess that does little more than launder money through the government. How else to explain their often frantic manner in which they denounce those few conservatives willing to point out that their numbers simply don't add up?


Really well done footage from way back in the day of DOA live in San Francisco.

This is the classic line-up of Joey Shithead, Chuck Biscuits, Randy Rampage, and ... Dave Gregg. Obviously they ran out of punk rock stage names before they got to Dave.

War On 45

Word is (again) that the Libyan rebels are at the gates of Tripoli, and that the Mad Dog might be getting ready to head out to pasture.

Moammar Gadhafi is making preparations for a departure from Libya with his family for possible exile in Tunisia, U.S. officials have told NBC News, citing intelligence reports…

The officials could provide no further details as to conditions or precise timing for Gadhafi’s departure, NBC said, and the news report emphasized that there was no guarantee that Gadhafi would follow through on any plans to flee…

Five loud explosions shook the center of Tripoli on Thursday afternoon, possibly striking near Gadhafi’s compound. NATO jets flew overhead minutes after the blasts. It wasn’t immediately clear what was hit or if there were civilian casualties. NATO has bombarded military targets all over Libya since March when a no-fly zone was instituted…

If Qadaffi leaves, then arguably you could say that the Obama Administration's passive-aggressive approach to Middle Eastern warfare had the positive effect of getting rid of at least one lousy petro-dictator. Then again, the word on the Arab Street is that any Qadaffi abdication will be promptly followed by a massive blood-letting. I thought the whole reason we were in Libya was to prevent a massacre in Benghazi. Is a massacre in Tripoli OK? Smart power is a lot more difficult than I realized.

Putting aside international diplomacy, Ace looks at what we can learn about America's future war-making should Obama's half-assed bombing raids lead to the exact same result as the massive expenditure of blood and treasure obtained in Iraq

The Bush model of war -- go in heavy, attempt to win the war on the backs of American (and allied) soldiers, attempt to establish a monopoly on the use of violence, and then continue that monopoly on the use of violence by acting as the nation's law enforcement/army for five, six, ten years -- doesn't work, or at least does not work at costs the American public is willing to pay.

I see no point agitating for a Full War Model against Iran, for example -- to urge such a thing is futile. I do not believe the American public has the appetite for such an endeavor. (At least-- not unless Iran uses its soon-to-be-built nukes.)

We didn't use to take care of these countries in this fashion. We used to arm and train rebels within those countries (they've all got them), fund them, provide intelligence, spread some bribe money around, and, when necessary, bring in the sort of Word of God that our air and naval forces issue from the air or sea.

Such wars were messy and bloody and often very very dirty, with guerrilla tactics that often looked like "terrorism" being employed by both sides. This is only a problem when the forces on our side employ such tactics, because that's the only time such tactics get condemned in the press.

They are, however, effective, much of the time at least, and with a light American involvement as far as troops on the ground.

Colin Powell's ludicrous statement -- "You break it, you buy it" -- is a formula for nonstop, decades-long nation-building of exactly the same type that George W. Bush campaigned against in 2000, albeit on a much longer and much bloodier scale than we saw in, say, Haiti.

Why do we "buy" it if we break it?

Broken societies reassemble themselves. In fact, they seem to do so more quickly than people expect, even when faced with great devastation.

This is a bit of a change as Ace, like a lot of conservative bloggers, was a big Iraq War booster/defender back in the day. But, like a lot of people, the seemingly endless f***-ups, the depressing grind of the Casey/Abizaid years, the thousands of dead, and so on were wearying.

And, it's not like the war's political boosters made it any easier. I don't know about you, but I can't say I was happy when Bush Administration figures like Karl Rove and Donald Rumsfeld admitted they could have done a "better job" of defending the war from leftists eager to treat every Sunni stubbed toe as the new My Lai. No kidding! I mean, you start a war; send thousands of young people to the other side of the world; and then do such a poor job fighting it that you lose a congressional majority and then a presidential election largely due to war weariness. And all you can do is send out Scott McClellan for day after agonizing day of tongue-tied "advocacy??" Try harder next time, please.

Ace is reflecting a change in defense mindedness that I think is more prevalent on the Right than people realize. No, conservatives aren't going to become peace advocates. But, the next time some Republican "moderates" like Colin Powell or John McCain put on their Long Serious Faces and announce we need to invade this or that Third World hellhole, they're going to need to have some damn good satellite images. I have to wonder if any such war would be politically saleable right now, absent another 9/11-style event.

This, of course, makes you wonder about the prospect for passing the dreaded defense cuts. The knee-jerk GOP reaction has always been to simply say, no. But, now I'm not so sure. No one's going to advocate for outright disarmament. But, do we really need to spend billions of dollars on a single ship that can be sunk by one carefully aimed missile? Do we really need to be planning fight two big wars at once? Do we really need bases around the world in the exact same places they've been since the end of the Cold War?And so on. Also, just cause the military's mission is an honorable one doesn't mean procurement scandals are not any more grubby wasteful than an ACORN shakedown.

I've seen a lot of worried commentary about China rising, and how they are building carriers. But, they're not really doing that. They're buying hulls from the Ukraine and putting weapons systems (no doubt using technology stolen from us) in them and doing things like intimidating Viet Nam. Ooooo. I'm scared.

The fact is that the Pentagon hasn't changed its habits or its budget since the end of the Reagan Administration. Not saying we should be cutting to the bone, but I'm also not seeing why American soldiers need to continue to act as the world's peace keepers.

Red Red Meat: Rick Perry Appeals To The Base

Apparently, there was a very unpresidential moment during Rick Perry's first full day of campaigning when he said this about the Chairman of the Federal Reserve:

Mr. Perry brought the Fed directly into the campaign debate Monday night by saying it would be "almost ... treasonous" for the central bank to play politics by expanding the money supply.

"If this guy prints more money between now and the election," Mr. Perry said in Cedar Rapids Monday night, without naming Mr. Bernanke, "I don't know what y'all would do to him in Iowa, but we—we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas."

This, of course, is being spun by our objective press as a threat of physical violence, as well as a serious promise by Rick Perry to put Ben Bernanke on the dock and then hang him from the nearest yardarm. Also, the president himself has gone on one of his "civility" tangents, saying Gov. Perry should be "very careful" about what he says now that he has entered the arena.


Is there an alternate universe where criticizing the Federal Reserve for debasing the dollar is considered a "gaffe?" As a matter of fact, there is. It's the universe know as Alpha Cen-Beltway, where even "conservatives" Peter Wehner and Karl Rove will rush to the microphones to join Democrats in calling for a right-winger to be more "civil." Rove must has forgotten his experiences with left-wing civility back during the Plame-gate investigation.

The one good thing to come out of the Donald Trump boomlet was the lesson that any candidate who comes out hard against Obama, DC, the Democratic Party, and their enablers in the RNC will instantly bolt to the top of the opinion polls. Perry is simply among the first GOP politicians to apply this lesson which is so screamingly obvious that the only people who don't get are the moderate Republicans who would rather administer the welfare state, rather than work to dismantle it.

(and, as an aside, isn't it funny how when someone says he doesn't believe in global warming, they are instantly dubbed an ignoramous, or worse? But say you believe in global warming, and you are an enlightened philosopher king. Yet global warming proponents don't do much more than opponents: they simply say something like "scientists say..." But, it's not like Green politicians are any better able to discuss the "science" than non-Greens. All of them are just reading off cue cards, too.)

This isn't meant to be some great endorsement of Perry, btw. My problem with his Ben Bernanke statement was not its substance, but the way he expressed himself. Frankly, he sounded like he was trying to "sound Texan" to show us what a rough 'n' ready fella he is. Right now, Michelle Bachmann is the best among the three front runners at bringing the rhetorical rafters down around the heads of America's elites.

Also, Perry has trouble coming from his right flank where influential conservatives like Michelle Malkin and Erick Erickson are reminding us of the Perry Administration's creepy attempt to mandate that teen-aged Texans be vaccinated against HPV. It's a troubling story, both for the overweening hand of the state angle, and for the "crony capitalism" angle. (Merck was pushing the vaccinations because it wanted to make more $$ off its HPV patent). It's also one that Perry is trying to brush off with a "I made a mistake"-style excuse that may or may not work.

On the other hand, Michelle Bachmann is in Big Trouble because she mistakenly hailed the birth of Elvis Presley...on the date of his death. If she ever retools her campaign, she should fire the guy who drafts her 3x5 cards, as Bachmann makes these sort of goofy mistakes all the time. Maybe they're small-time errors, but they do speak to a certain inattentiveness (I was vaguely aware that Elvis died in August. I also know how to spell "potato"). Without them, SNL and the Left would have little with which to attack Bachmann, and would be forced to start dealing with her rock-solid substantive attacks on Obamism.

V For Vendetta, D For Deranged

San Francisco has unexpectedly become the center of a civil liberties beef after BART, the local transit agency, shut off cellphone service in some of its stations to disrupt protesters last Thursday. Over the weekend, the Wiki-leaks ally Anonymous hacked into BART's website, and today there were more protests seeking to disrupt the trains again.

The busy evening commute out of downtown San Francisco gave way Monday to a chaotic cat-and-mouse game between police officers and roving protesters who lashed out at the transit agency for temporarily shutting down underground cellular phone service last week.

BART closed all four downtown San Francisco stations - Civic Center, Powell, Montgomery and Embarcadero - soon after the protest began at 5 p.m. Officers in riot gear blocked entrances as many train riders fumed on the sidewalks and tried to figure out how to get home. All stations were reopened by 7:30 p.m.

Muni Metro stations at the same locations were closed in tandem with the BART stations.

BART's action last Thursday - which ignited an international debate about technology, free speech and public safety - was an effort to diffuse an antipolice demonstration. But it spurred an even larger protest Monday that was organized online by a loose-knit band of computer hackers known as Anonymous.
Isn't it amazing, how a group of "international hackers" could so quickly learn about a local transit agency's prudent decision to turn off its wireless service for a couple hours? When people talk about the international left, this is what they mean.

Lost in all of this fooferall is the reason for the original protest that led to the cell-phone shut off. The protesters were down in the stations last Thursday because (they say) they were upset over the shooting of one Charles Blair Hill, a drunken bum - sorry, transient - who attacked BART police officers with a knife. Hill had no redeeming qualities that I can see, plus he was shot over a month ago, so it's hard to see what the big deal is. But, ever since the Oscar Grant shooting, the BART police have become the new fascist brown-shirts of fevered progressives' imaginations. Here is the picture of the classy guy for whom San Francisco commuters have had two evening commutes disrupted:

Charles Blair Hill pulled a knife on BART officers, police say.

We are a long way away from Medger Evers, people.

Anonymous has also made a habit of adopting dubious causes. They were a big Wiki-leaks defender, attacking Amazon and Pay-pal after those companies refused to continue hosting Julian Asssssange's document dumps. They also played a role in the Jessi Slaughter v 4Chan battle of last year, which made no sense until someone explained that Jessi was an 11 year old girl, and 4Chan was - at least in part, a message board for pedophiles. They're one of those groups where you can comfortably find your position on an issue by taking the exact opposite one adopted by Anonymous.

Supposedly, these are all examples of the decentralized "leaderless" protest movements of the modern era. Come on. Someone decided that there needed to be a protest on BART last Thursday, and that the protest should focus on the flea-bitten Hill. Someone decided that it was Very Important to protest BART's shutting down its cellphone service. And, someone decided further protest was needed today, in case we didn't get the message that it's bad for the transit police to shoot deranged lunatics who are coming at them with a knife. It's hard to see how all of that develops spontaneously. In fact, it's not spontaneous at all. These people simply remain in the shadows, and then act with impunity because they know that it's highly unlikely that they will get into real trouble.

Perryville: The Opening Shots In the GOP Scandal War

Rick Perry entered the race for the GOP presidential nomination yesterday, and so did an astonishing amount backstage whispers and scandal mongering. Here's the most thorough, not to mention sweaty palmed piece, courtesy of "Republican delegate" and Ron Paul supporter, Robert Morrow:

The first thing you need to know about Rick Perry is that he is (or has been) a flagrant adulterer. The second thing you need to know is that Perry is a man who constantly uses religion and Christian Bible talk for his own political advancement, while living a double life.

Nor does Perry understand or appreciate free market capitalism and the importance of low taxes for all; Perry is a crony capitalist and he likes to spend and borrow lots of money. Perry does not respect parental rights (HPV mandate).Rick Perry, a 25 year career politician, is for the endless, costly undeclared wars; he is for an unaccountable Federal Reserve banking cartel making multi-trillion dollar interventions in a free market; he is for the Patriot Act and its assault on your privacy.

The same man who used a presidential prayer rally (8/6/11) for his personal ambitions and who often spouts Christian buzzwords and Bible talk to advance his political career is a flagrant adulterer, having sex with women who are the approximate age of his daughter Sydney, age 24.

I know this because I am a patron of Austin strip clubs. My friends and excellent contacts in the Austin strip club community tell me that Rick Perry, a la Bill Clinton, has an enabling entourage who gets him “young hotties” to have sex with – both here in Austin and especially when he is on the road. I learned about this before the 2010 Texas primary. I had an attractive stripper tell me about her direct dealings with Rick Perry. She said that she was attempting a Monica Lewinsky-type act upon Gov. Rick Perry (oral sex) but that in her words Perry was “too coked up” to perform sexually! When it came time for the stripper to leave, Perry gave her an outrageous amount of money, so large in fact that it probably means that Perry is taking cash bribes or illegal gifts to fund his extracurricular activities. Perry is not a rich man and I doubt he is spending that much of his own money on the women. (Actually sweetheart real estate deals have made the man unusual money.)

Another young woman, who has had direct dealings with Perry’s enabling entourage, told me that Perry is especially flagrantly adulterous when he goes on the road. She said that Perry has sex with the “young hotties” and that Perry and his entourage are literally having orgies in his hotel room. They are either calling escort services or picking up “young hotties” impressed by an arrogant, entitled governor of Texas .

Recently a local Austin reporter was telling me that they had heard about Rick Perry and the strippers in 2006, but they never could nail it down. Well, consider it confirmed. Additionally, there are many people in Austin who are convinced that the man is a homosexual or has had gay affairs in the past. I have never met a man who has had sex with Rick Perry, but I have met women who have had direct dealings with Adulterer Rick Perry and his enabling entourage. Perry has most definitely been living a double life.

That brings up another disqualifying characteristic of Perry: he is arrogant. Rick Perry knows his adultery rap sheet and liability more than anyone else. Perry is fully aware of the tremendous amount of risk this brings to the Republican party, his political career, his personal life and reputation. Yet, Rick Perry, drunk with arrogance and entitlement, presents himself as a legitimate presidential candidate when he is anything but that. Adulterer Rick Perry is sitting on a keg of slut-fueled nitroglycerine that if it ever exploded, would make Anthony Weiner look like a mere pimple popping.

My feelings about this sort of thing is this: I don't follow people around. If they have some kind of secret depraved sex life, I'm certainly not going to know about it, but someone will. This guy Morrow claims special knowledge from patronizing the same strip clubs as Perry. Honestly, if Rick Perry really was living a debauched life-style, we're going to hear from the strippers themselves, not from one of their creepy clients. Perry is preparing to run against the Chosen One. If there really are solid adultery stories, they'll show up in the NY Times, not the misfit reaches of the blogosphere. Right now, all we've got are rumors from a Paul-bot, well that's par for the course when a conservative runs for higher office.

Perry's been seeking and winning elective office in Texas for 20 years. Has there ever been a time when his career was upended by bimbo eruptions? Not that I've noticed, and there are plenty of bitter Texas liberals who would have been happy to broadcast such tales. (Ace debunked the "Rick Perry is gay" rumor on similar grounds).

If Rick Perry really is an adulterer, and he thinks he can run for president anyway, then he's really too dumb to win the nomination. I'm guessing he's not dumb.

Nation Building: Indians Help US Corporations Evade Taxes

It's nice to know that "American Decline" does not mean an end to "American Ingenuity" or "American Scams." A case in point: the practice of using Indian tribes to evade employment taxes.
An Indian tribe creates a corporation owned by the Tribe. Its sole function is to hire employees and then "lease" those employees to other companies. Who hires the employees? Not the Tribe. Where do the employees work? Not on the reservation. Who do the employees work for? Formally, for the Tribe's company, but actually, the outside employer. It's as if Oracle said to its employees: "Okay, I want all of you to be formally employed by this outside entity. You'll still work here, and for me, but your paycheck will come from someone else."

Why do that? Because tribal corporation don't have to pay Federal Unemployment Tax on its employees, which is around six percent of the first slice of an employee's wages. So the company thus hoses the United States (and, secondarily, the states) for those taxes, which pay for unemployment benefits, and instead the employer and the Tribe keep for themselves (and then split) those taxes.

How much money can you make this way? Well, this case involves the Blue Lake Racharia, an Indian tribe in Humbolt County. How many members does it have? 53. How many "employees" did it have?

Unsurprisingly, this found acceptance at the Ninth Circuit, which upheld this dodgy practice, applying a narrow interpretation of the tax code that they would never grant to an American tax payer.

The Ninth makes it sound pretty easy. You need some work-place rules (1 hour for lunch, no sex with underlings, etc. but, hey, since this is an Indian tribe anything goes, I guess). The Indians need to pay their (scoff) employees. They also need to be reimbursed for their (scoff) payroll expenses by the real employer. After that, you're ready to start dodging taxes.

Someone's going to have to explain to me how, if a company can dodge taxes so easily, they can't avoid other regulatory burdens as well. Why can't they put factories on reservations to avoid environmental regs, for example? The tribe will say this won't happen, that this was a narrow ruling on a tax issue. But, that's the principle at work here.


Totally Recall

There's been a lot of talk about Wisconsin state politics this year, maybe a little too much talk, most of it coming from the left-hand side, which has refused to accept the results of the Republican sweep of November 2010. The latest were six attempted recalls of "vulnerable" Republican state senators. After spending tens of millions of union goon money in a state known for its progressive politics, the result was another victory for the resurgent GOP

Wisconsin Republicans narrowly maintained control of the state Senate Tuesday, according to unofficial results, winning four of six recall elections in Republican-held districts.

Tuesday's results are also a victory for Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who maintains Republican majorities in both houses of the state legislature—although by the narrowest of margins in the Senate, where Republicans will have a 17-16 advantage. Democrats needed to gain three seats to flip control of the Senate but fell one short.

You hear a lot of talk about RINO's and sell-outs among the GOP, but you have to credit Wisconsin's Republican legislators for real bravery. They've been subjected to all sorts of abuse, both political and personal, and have largely held firm. And credit Wisconsin's voters too. Democrats are masters at winning goofy low turn-out elections, but people turned out in droves yesterday and delivered another blow to a left that thinks it should still have the power it lost fair and square.

btw, one of the two Republicans who was recalled last night was apparently in a "safe" GOP seat, but had taken up with a 25 year old mistress at some point. Given the stakes, I'd say it was a mistake not to deal with this, either by demanding his resignation, or a long walk off a short pier or something.

Sack, Pillage, Maim, Destroy

I thought this headline at the Politico was more funny than pathetic, as is the strategy it describes: Obama Plan: Destroy Romney

Barack Obama’s aides and advisers are preparing to center the president’s reelection campaign on a ferocious personal assault on Mitt Romney’s character and business background, a strategy grounded in the early-stage expectation that the former Massachusetts governor is the likely GOP nominee.

The dramatic and unabashedly negative turn is the product of political reality. Obama remains personally popular, but pluralities in recent polling disapprove of his handling of his job, and Americans fear the country is on the wrong track. His aides are increasingly resigned to running for reelection in a glum nation. And so the candidate who ran on “hope” in 2008 has little choice four years later but to run a slashing, personal campaign aimed at disqualifying his likeliest opponent.

Rrrrooooaaarrrr! Must! Destroy! Rom! Ney!

Supposedly, Democrats are experiencing pangs of conscience because they will be asked to "swift boat" Mitt Romney a la John Kerry ca. 2004. Are these the same pangs of conscience they experience when they label Tea Partiers as "terrorists?" (and do they know something about Mitt Romney's Viet Nam experience that we don't know?)

If there's one thing we've learned since 2008 it's that Obama and his people are not the moderates they claimed to be in the campaign, but rather hard leftists who are also complete a**holes. Of course they'll try to "destroy" Romney, if he isn't destroyed by his fellow Republicans first. And if it's not Romney then they'll work to destroy Pawlenty, or Perry, or whomever. It doesn't matter. They can only win through destruction.

Crocodile Skink Wargame

Be honest, don't you at least want to hear what a band called "Crocodile Skink Wargame" sounds like?

Wow, sounds like ... some kind of crocodile skink wargame. Truth in advertising!

Fair Blame Game

The liberal hive mind has thought over the S&P downgrade and come up with their slogan: it's the "Tea Party Downgrade!" John Kerry and David Axelrod were on the Sunday chat shows, frowning and frumping over this phrase, which you will no doubt see repeated in every left-leaning newspaper column published in the next two weeks. Powerline wonders if they can possibly sell this line.

Put aside for a moment the fact that Obama’s willingness to compromise was entirely theoretical; never did he put such a compromise plan on the table. His FY 2012 budget proposal was anything but a compromise; it included no entitlement reform and projected massive deficits for as far as the eye could see, and therefore received not a single vote in Congress.

What is most ludicrous is the Democrats’ effort to distract attention from the fact that they controlled Congress from January 2007 until January 2011. The first Congress that had any ability to be influenced by the Tea Party movement has been in office for only six months. Do the Democrats seriously expect anyone to believe that S&P’s downgrade of U.S. debt arises out of something that Republican Congressmen have done in the last six months? We expect the Democrats to appeal to ignorance at all times, but this is ridiculous.

Let’s take a walk down memory lane. What did the Democrats do with respect to federal debt during the four years they controlled both Houses of Congress? Here is a summary of the deficits the Democrats racked up during that time:

FY 2008 — $460 billion

FY 2009 — $1,410 billion ($1.4 trillion)

FY 2010 — $1,300 billion ($1.3 trillion)

FY 2011 — $1,600 (estimated) ($1.6 trillion)

Of the $14.5 trillion national debt, nearly $4.8 trillion–one-third of the total–was incurred during that four-year period when the Congress was exclusively controlled by the Democrats. Moreover, and equally important, during that time the Democrats did nothing to assure the markets that they have a long-term plan to deal with the country’s burgeoning debt. On the contrary, for more than two years the Congressional Democrats have refused to adopt or even to propose a budget! If you are looking for the reason why rating agencies have lost faith in the ability of our government to get its spending and debt under control, you need look no farther

Well, I don't know, but it has already worked on Megan McArdle who thinks Republicans should be/ will be "blamed."
I'm afraid I think that the lion's share of the blame goes to the GOP, which escalated to this completely unnecessary showdown, and then gave up any hope of a grand bargain because it would have required some revenue increases.

(But what about the specifics? I hear you cry. I find this singularly unconvincing as a rebuttal. The GOP was extraordinarily, um, specific about their total aversion to revenue increases, a position that they continued right up to the brink of a crisis, which makes me think that it was not merely a clever negotiating tactic. It is therefore not some sort of horrifying example of Democratic perfidy that the negotiations never went beyond fairly broad generalities. It's an example of what happens when you signal that you aren't going to compromise no matter what)

This was not terroristic, psychopathic, or whatever, and the people who used those sorts of epithets have forfeited the moral high ground they claim to occupy. I sympathize with the Tea Party's goals of smaller government. I even kind of understand what they thought they were trying to do. But it was an enormously counterproductive tactical mistake, and though of course I would say this, I believe it was made because everyone who tried to point this out was ignored . . . nay, not just ignored, but derided as a Beltway Insider Commiesymp.

In that political environment, hell, I'd downgrade us.

I'm sorry, but this was stupid. It hurt the country, and it hurt the party that staged the protest vote even more. All for very little gain
Jesus Christ, it's like the past 30 months never happened. Someone email those Powerline numbers to McArdle. Roughly one-third of the country's debt was taken on by Democrats in the Congress and the Executive Branch. (after spending the Bush years complaining about out-of-control spending!) The offer that Republicans supposedly couldn't refuse was to take ownership of that debt by increasing taxes and establishing unsustainable spending as the new baseline. Well I think that's an offer that's eminently refusable.

McArdle is a nice lady, one of the nicest in the blogosphere. She's got plenty lot of integrity, especially in her refusal to go along with liberal math. But, politically she's an unreliable fool: a "libertarian" who voted for Obama, and can never seem to support shrinking the size of government when it's time to head to the ramparts. You can meet a lot of libertarians like her. They're the ones who are smart enough not to be liberals but don't want to seem dumb, so they can't abide being Republican/Conservative. They know liberalism doesn't work, but...Sarah Palin is dumb and Rush Limbaugh is a blow-hard so it all balances out, I guess.

Fact is the downgrade is a national disgrace, even if it comes at the hands of a firm that is just as likely trying to make amends for "missing" the Crash of '08 as it is in taking a sober look at the American balance sheet. People should be losing their jobs over this. Tim Geithner, for one should absolutely resign his office, but right now the only people calling for that are Michelle Bachmann and the State Treasurer of Indiana. Does McArdle really think the Indispensable Man has less blame to take in this affair that the GOP?

No doubt if you look hard enough McArdle's archives will contain some unflattering comments about Bachmann who is one of the few elected officials out there brave enough to have warned of this downgrade and voted accordingly. But, she has migraines, a "gay" husband, and is "crazy." (that's as opposed to Sarah Palin who also warned for years about America's credit rating and is therefore "stupid").

Conservative Republicans have been warning for years that the US was on an unsustainable fiscal course. When the "moderate" Obama revealed himself to be a hard leftist, and began racking up trillion dollar deficits, the entire Republican Party recoiled as one, with the bitter exception of Arlen Specter. The "radical" Tea Partiers of 2009/10 were so disturbed by the pace of spending that they literally could not stay home, but took to the streets in peaceful protest. And now McArdle wants these folks to take the blame?

If that is indeed what happens, then there is literally no justice.

Flirtin' With Disaster

Here's something you don't see everyday: a serious critical appraisal of a Molly Hatchet song.
There are few groups in history that have as immediately recognizable a musical sound as one finds in the music of Molly Hatchet, as while most other bands were content with one or two guitarists, "The Hatchet" preferred a triple-guitar assault. The team of Dave Hlubek, Steve Holland, and Duane Rolland establish a far more imposing, yet not overly aggressive sound on "Flirtin' With Disaster," and it is this unique contrast in sound that largely defines the bands' sound. It also enables Molly Hatchet to produce some of the most amazing solos and guitar progressions ever recorded, and yet at the same time, "Flirtin' With Disaster" is as straightforward a rock song as one can find anywhere. The guitars have the ideal amount of "twang" that stays true to their Southern roots, and yet it is the edge and slight aggression they bring that sets the band far apart from any other group using the term "Southern rock." Bassist Banner Thomas is equally impressive, as it is his playing that gives "Flirtin' With Disaster" its amazing amount of movement, as he gives the song a swing and a sway that make it impossible not to groove along with the music. This is complimented by drummer Bruce Crump, and his steady, slightly speedy pace serves as the ideal finishing touches to one of the finest musical arrangements in all of music history. The band deploys amazing periods of tension and release, and it is these "waves" of music that vault "Flirtin' With Disaster" to such an iconic status.
You can find that and more at the Daily Guru, a blog dedicated to identifying (and justifying) the best songs ever. Lots of good taste on display there.

Downgrading On A Curve

After all of the faux drama of the debt ceiling debate, the US has endured what we were told we were trying to avoid: a down-grade of our creditworthiness. S&P did the deed this afternoon after the markets closed.

S&P removed for the first time the triple-A rating the U.S. has held for 70 years, saying the budget deal recently brokered in Washington didn't do enough to address the gloomy outlook for America's finances. It downgraded long-term U.S. debt to AA+, a score that ranks below more than a dozen governments', including Liechtenstein's, and on par with Belgium's and New Zealand's. S&P also put the new grade on "negative outlook," meaning the U.S. has little chance of regaining the top rating in the near term.

The unprecedented move came after several hours of high-stakes drama. It began in the morning, when word leaked that a downgrade was imminent and stocks tumbled. Around 1:30 p.m., S&P officials notified the Treasury Department that they planned to downgrade U.S. debt and presented the government with their findings. Treasury officials noticed a $2 trillion error in S&P's math that delayed an announcement for several hours. S&P officials decided to move ahead, and after 8 p.m. they made their downgrade official.

S&P said the downgrade "reflects our opinion that the fiscal consolidation plan that Congress and the administration recently agreed to falls short of what, in our view, would be necessary to stabilize the government's medium-term debt dynamics." It also blamed the weakened "effectiveness, stability, and predictability" of U.S. policy making and political institutions at a time when challenges are mounting.

The effort is already on to blame intransigent Republicans. No doubt there's enough media bias and Pelosi rants available to make that sort of thing stick for a little while. But, I just don't see how Obama et al. avoid the fact that the American debt problem is a result of the wild spending in the post-TARP political scene.

We didn't get downgraded because of the Tea Party. We got downgraded because of TARP, the auto bailouts, the stimulus, Obamacare, QE1 & 2, Cash for Clunkers, and a million other wastes of money. Those weren't Republican or conservative initiatives. In fact, with a few notorious exceptions, they were resisted mightily by virtually every Republican in elected office. (and those who didn't resist have found themselves out of office). Hell, the Tea Party started to protest the explosion of spending coming out of DC!

Indeed, S&P specifically complains about the failure of the debt agreement to make a serious attempt to reduce spending. That wasn't the Tea Party's fault. Obama and the Democrats in Congress were the ones who pressed to preserve spending at today's mind boggling levels. As Erik Erickson points out, S&P has indicated that only a plan with a minimum of $4 trillion in cuts would have impressed them. Well that was the Tea Party's plan, a plan that has been denounced as unserious and terroristic.

No wonder S&P considers America's government to be institutionally incapable of making the sort of changes needed to change its depressing course: the people whose proposals would help are routinely denounced as the unsophisticated Hezbollah branch of the GOP, while the people causing all of this destruction can present themselves as saviors even as they blithely promulgate policies that are destroying us from within and from without.

Michelle Bachmann - she of the migraines and the "gay" husband, according to the media - immediately called for Tim Geithner's resignation. If I were him, I would be too embarrassed to show up at the office on Monday, but I'll bet he will, and everyone will continue to act like Bachmann is the one with the problem.

The fact is that we are the ones with a problem. The public has been fairly consistent in protesting the spending of the Obama years. Yet, the spending has continued virtually unabated. While we have a Republican House, we also have a Democrat Senate that hasn't produced a budget in two years for no better reason than they don't want to have to vote on all of the spending they have nonetheless been committing the country to. And, we have an economically illiterate president who has governed as a hard leftist after campaigning as a pragmatic moderate.

America will continue to be institutionally incapable of facing up to its troubles as long as 2/3rds of the government continues to be in the hands of a leftist minority that would destroy the economy rather than admit their technocratic plans have failed utterly.

Fall On Me: The Dow Goes Down

Grim news on The Street as the Dow Jones Average loses 512 points, or 3% of its value. I thought the debt ceiling deal was supposed to prevent a market crash.

Stocks spiraled downward Thursday as investors buckled under the strain of the global economic slowdown and the failure of policy makers to stabilize financial markets.

The selling began in Europe and continued in the U.S., where stocks plunged from the opening bell. The Dow Jones Industrial Average posted its worst point drop since the financial crisis in December 2008, falling 512.76 points, or 4.31%, to 11383.68. Oil and other commodities were also hammered. Even gold was a safe haven no more as prices fell. Asian markets slid on Friday morning, with Tokyo, Australia, South Korea and Hong Kong markets all falling more than 3% in early trading.

Just joking about the debt ceiling, of course. I'm sure if DC remained gridlocked, things would have been even worse. As it stands, it was (temporary) good news that a US default was averted, even if the threat of default was only due to the unilateral acts of our destructive Executive Branch. But with the threat of default gone, everyone could focus on the fundamentals: namely, that Europe has a cascading series of debt crises infecting it; that the US has spent an ungodly amount of $$ on useless stimulus; and, worst of all, that US policy leavers are in the hands of ideologues who would rather go down in flames, rather than pursue pro-growth policies such as tax cuts and a true reduction in government spending. If I was still in the market (I got out at the same time QE2 ended), I'd sell, too

Everybody's got their tipping point and mine came with the announcement that 1Q had been revised downward to 0.4%. Like everyone else, I thought things had been picking up in the early part of the year, so to learn that the opposite is what was going on was disappointing to say the least. Economically, we are on the road to nowhere.

UPDATE: if there's one good thing about the latest down-turn, it's that this feels more like a "regular" recession, and not the on-set of a depression as was the case with the Crash of '08. Supposedly, there's a general fear out there that the US government and the Fed are out of policy arrows. If that's the case, things are looking up!

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