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The right side of the blogosphere has been pursuing what some people are calling Dealergate, the basis of which was the observation that a very high percentage of the Chrysler dealerships that were closed as part of restructuring belong to Republican Party donors. In some cases, Democrat-friendly dealership groups actually increased their number of businesses while Republican donors were wiped out. Doug Ross was one of the leaders in checking it out, and his blog is a good source of information on it.
Both the White House and Chrysler claim that profitability, among other business-related factors, was part of the decision of who to put out of business. But, in this post, analysis of the dealers left standing shows other factors may have been in play:
All other factors being equal, given NADAM’s [National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers] expressed fears and the general comparative dealer profile it provided the Journal, the minority-owned dealer termination rate should have been higher — probably much higher than the 25% overall average. In fact, it’s clear that NADAM expected that outcome, even if you heavily discount their worry that over 80% of minority-owned Chrysler dealers would be told to go away as overblown hyperbole.
But it would appear that all other factors were far from equal, and that influences other than bottom-line business considerations were prominent.
The last thing a bankrupt, taxpayer-underwritten Chrysler needs as it struggles to emerge from bankruptcy and regain viability is a less than optimal dealer network. Yet it seems that the company deliberately chose exactly that — or had it chosen for them.
There are maps at the link comparing closures to party affiliation and 2008 election results by party, and a lot more information.
Interesting that the results of acting by objective business criteria skewed so heavily in one party’s favor. Not so odd if the goal was payback. More information comes to light about this almost every day, from bloggers, since the legacy media is nowhere to be found on this story. I’ll keep watching.
H/T Protein Wisdom
Carson City, NV, update: Hundreds protest taxes in front of State Legislature
Protesters rallied in front of the Nevada Legislature on Friday afternoon for the Northern Nevada Tax Freedom Day Tea Party.
Nevada State Legislative Police estimated that about 250 people came to the rally. Many waved American flags or signs opposing high taxes, socialism, President Barack Obama and Nevada Sen. Harry Reid.
Drivers passing by honked in support of signs reading, “Government is the Problem,” “I’m Mad as Hell Harry” and “Let’s Put the Taxanation Devils on a Starvation Diet.”
Shyrl Bailey of Washoe Valley said legislators need to start paying attention to the people who pay their salaries. Most politicians would rather spend taxes on new programs than consider the consequences of spending, she said.
“I just feel like I have to do something,” she said. “We wouldn’t run a house like our country’s being run. We’re borrowing, borrowing, borrowing instead of living in our means like I would do in my household and it’s wrong. It’s wrong for younger generations.”
Nevada’s Governor joined in:
Activists from both sides of the tax debate rallied at the Nevada Legislature on Friday, just hours after the Assembly voted to override Gov. Jim Gibbons veto of the Legislature’s $6.9 billion budget and the tax plan that funds it.
Several hundred anti-tax foes, including Gibbons, staged a late afternoon rally on the Capitol Mall, many of them lining Carson Street with signs bearing anti-tax and anti-Harry Reid slogans. Organized by the group Anger Is Brewing, the event was billed as a “Tax Freedom Day Tea Party.”
Gibbons and conservative Assemblymen Chad Christiansen, R-Las Vegas; John Hambrick, R-Las Vegas; Don Gustavson, R-Sparks and Ty Cobb, R-Reno, urged attendees to turn their attention to the Legislature, especially in the next election.
Gibbons blamed “liberal legislators” for passing the budget and $781 million tax increase to fund it, calling them “misguided, misinformed and mistaken.”
Kernersville, NC, held a Tea Party May 30:
Community members held a Tea Party Protest outside Kernersville’s City Hall Saturday. Taxpayers we talked to said their concern is for the next generations who will have to pay for the government’s mistakes. Protestors also said lawmakers should put in an end to wasteful spending on all levels. The group meets once a month on a Tuesday.
Raleigh, NC, is having a protest June 3.
If you live in the Indianapolis, IN, area, check out Indy Defenders of Liberty.
In Westchester Township, Ohio: Tea Party ‘grass-roots politics at its best’
WEST CHESTER TWP. — A few hundred local residents showed up to be the next voices of America on Friday, May 29.
Folks representing 20 southwest Ohio communities, including local lawmakers, made up the first West Chester Community Tea Party, organizers said. About 250 people were present at the Miami University satellite campus at Voice of America Park.
“I think it speaks to how fired up people are right now,” Cincinnati’s Mike Wilson, founder of the Cincinnati Tea Party, said about the attendance. The group was formed this year as a nonpartisan advocate for national government that is run by the people, said Wilson.
He urged attendees to do more than vote or complain about the outcome of an election.
The purpose of the gathering, he said, was to inform local residents about the organization, giving them a chance to become tea party leaders in their voting precincts.
Another article here.
If you live in New York State, you’re invited to the March On Albany on June 16.
If you want to talk to the government about stimulus money, you’ll have to fill in a form. White House Broadens Communication Limit
The White House is bolstering its restrictions on lobbying for stimulus funds, expanding the ban on oral communications with administration officials to include not only federally registered lobbyists but also consultants and other individuals who seek to exert influence over the spending process.
The changes will ban oral communications between the administration and any individual trying to influence the federal agencies tasked with awarding money from the $787 billion economic recovery program. Communications must be in writing and will be posted on the Internet, according to a White House memorandum released Friday.
The administration’s restriction targets the period after competitive grant applications are submitted and before awards are made, with the goal of ensuring that competition for stimulus funds is based on merit alone.
Sounds like it levels the playing field by subjecting everyone to the same rules, right? Another way to look at it is that it restricts everyone’s right to speak equally.
A clarification from Norm Eisen, special counsel to the president for ethics and government reform:
First, we will expand the restriction on oral communications to cover all persons, not just federally registered lobbyists. For the first time, we will reach contacts not only by registered lobbyists but also by unregistered ones, as well as anyone else exerting influence on the process. We concluded this was necessary under the unique circumstances of the stimulus program.
“Second, we will focus the restriction on oral communications to target the scenario where concerns about merit-based decision-making are greatest –after competitive grant applications are submitted and before awards are made. Once such applications are on file, the competition should be strictly on the merits. To that end, comments (unless initiated by an agency official) must be in writing and will be posted on the Internet for every American to see.
“Third, we will continue to require immediate internet disclosure of all other communications with registered lobbyists. If registered lobbyists have conversations or meetings before an application is filed, a form must be completed and posted to each agency’s website documenting the contact.”
It’s all about transparency and merit, they say, necessitated by the special circumstances of the stimulus. Perhaps it’s about something else. Mark Tapscott on inches and miles:
This is the Camel’s nose under the tent, being poked because of special circumstances. Let government restrict political expression – i.e. lobbying of government officials regarding policy – in one small, supposedly specialized area and not long after the specialized area starts expanding. Eventually, all political expression regarding all policy will become subject to government regulation.
More on this as it develops. And trust me, it will develop.
Especially with this Administration’s guiding philosophy of not letting a crisis go to waste.
Much of the blame for the demise of the financial system as we knew it can be placed on the doorsteps of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Both of them are shareholder-owned companies with political missions, such as keeping mortgage interest rates low and encouraging affordable housing. So why did they collapse and why did the government have to take them over? In a September, 2008, article The American Enterprise Institute tells the tale: The Last Trillion-Dollar Commitment
The government takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was necessary because of their massive losses on more than $1 trillion of subprime and Alt-A investments, almost all of which were added to their single-family book of business between 2005 and 2007. The most plausible explanation for the sudden adoption of this disastrous course–disastrous for them and for the U.S. financial markets–is their desire to continue to retain the support of Congress after their accounting scandals in 2003 and 2004 and the challenges to their business model that ensued. Although the strategy worked–Congress did not adopt strong government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) reform legislation until the Republicans demanded it as the price for Senate passage of a housing bill in July 2008–it led inevitably to the government takeover and the enormous junk loan losses still to come.
The collision of politics and sound business practice resulted in the present financial carnage:
As GSEs, Fannie and Freddie were serving two masters in two different ways. The first was an inherent conflict between their government mission and their private ownership. The government mission required them to keep mortgage interest rates low and to increase their support for affordable housing. Their shareholder ownership, however, required them to fight increases in their capital requirements and regulation that would raise their costs and reduce their risk-taking and profitability. But there were two other parties–Congress and the taxpayers–that also had a stake in the choices that Fannie and Freddie made. Congress got some benefits in the form of political support from the GSEs’ ability to hold down mortgage rates, but it garnered even more political benefits from GSE support for affordable housing. The taxpayers got highly attenuated benefits from both affordable housing and lower mortgage rates but ultimately faced enormous liabilities associated with GSE risk-taking. This Outlook tells the disheartening story of how the GSEs sold out the taxpayers by taking huge risks on substandard mortgages, primarily to retain congressional support for the weak regulation and special benefits that fueled their high profits and profligate executive compensation. As if that were not enough, in the process, the GSEs’ operations promoted a risky subprime mortgage binge in the United States that has caused a worldwide financial crisis.
The special relationship with Congress was the GSEs’ undoing because it allowed them to escape the market discipline–the wariness of lenders–that keeps corporate managements from taking unacceptable risks.
There’s much more at the link, including the history of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the political purposes their creation was meant to fulfill.
The article concludes,
Unfortunately, the sad saga of Fannie and Freddie is not over. Some of their supporters in Congress prefer to blame the Fannie and Freddie mess on deregulation or private market failure, perhaps hoping to use such false diagnoses to lay the groundwork for reviving the GSEs for extra constitutional expenditure and political benefit in the future. As the future of the GSEs is debated over the coming months and years, it will be important to remember how and why Fannie and Freddie failed. The primary policy objective should be to prevent a repeat of this disaster by preventing the restoration of the GSE model.
It seems to me that there are similarities with the saga of Fannie Mae and the current federal takeover of General Motors. While GM is not a government-sponsored enterprise in terms of Congressional legislation, it has a lot in common with it, in that the government is essentially managing the company through the appointment of its officers, finances it and has announced GM’s mission to produce environmentally-friendly cars, a political purpose. This doesn’t bode well for taxpayers, if the history related in this article is any guide.
There have been a lot of estimates of how much cap and tax, via the Waxman-Markey bill, will increase electricity prices. Some of that increased cost will come from a national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) of 15 percent by 2020. But estimates can be challenged. The best illustration would be to see what rates actually are in similar conditions.
The Taxpayers Network has published a 50-state comparison (pdf), of results from 2007 that does just that. It’s a real-world comparison between rates in states that have similar renewables standards and states that don’t.
From Table 47 of the report, look at Waxman’s California and Markey’s Massachusetts, both of which have similar restrictions, and compare them to West Virginia and Indiana, both of which do not. The results, in cost per kilowatt hour:
The Commercial, Industrial, and Residential rates for electricity in cents per kilowatt hour are as follows:
Waxman’s California 12.82 c/kwh 9.98 c/kwh 14.42 c/kwh
Markey’s Massachusetts 15.20 c/kwh 13.30 c/kwh 16.23 c/kwh
For comparison, States from our industrial heartland:
West Virginia 5.85 c/kwh 3.95 c/kwh 6.73 c/kwh
Indiana 7.29 c/kwh 4.89 c/kwh 8.26 c/kwh
I’ve highlighted the residential rates. Quite a difference, isn’t there? And that’s under current restrictions. Waxman-Markey will impose other, more severe conditions. Imagine what your rate will look like then.
The other day House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told a Chinese audience, in reference to getting America to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, that “We have so much room for improvement…Every aspect of our lives must be subjected to an inventory…of how we are taking responsibility.”
From Hot Air, her idea of Eden.
I’m really glad Barack Obama was elected President, because now the entire world loves and respects the USA. The compliments keep pouring in.
…For all its talk of “raising America’s standing” in the world after the Bush years, the Obama administration is doing a spectacularly bad job of reaching out to its allies. Unfortunately this is the new face of America’s public diplomacy, which will only serve to alienate public opinion across the Atlantic. Congratulations Gibbs – you’ve just made an enemy out of the entire British media, quite an achievement for the man in charge of selling the President’s message.
…4. That’s only the beginning of your problems, matey. Your treatment not just of the British media but of Britain generally smacks of a risible ineptitude. First, you let President Obama send back the Winston Churchill bust. Then, you insult our visiting prime minister with a dismally low-key reception (worthy of a minor African head of state, not your closest and most loyal ally) and shoddy gifts (those DVDs). Then you compound the insult by having one of your monkeys declare, Chicago-politics-style, “”There’s nothing special about Britain. You’re just the same as the other 190 countries in the world. You shouldn’t expect special treatment.” OK so we know Obama’s not much interested in foreign affairs and has a special loathing for Britain because it roughed up his Kenyan granddad during the Mau Mau insurrection. But don’t you realise, that one of your jobs as his press secretary is to make out like he loves us so much even his underpants have a union flag on them?
Robert Gibbs, rattled by Telegraph story, lashes out at British press
…The Obama White House seems to view the British media as insufficiently compliant and respectful. They were intensely irritated about UK coverage of the DVDs gift fiasco – pushing American reporters very hard not to write about it.
Obama himself gave a little flash of his disdain for the British press at his G20 press conference when he took a question from Justin Webb of the BBC and noted the hubbub in the hall. “See, everybody’s complaining,” he said. “I’m sure that’s all your fellow British journalists.”
The Australian is not impressed with the President’s grasp of the North Korean situation:
…It shows a complete failure of political imagination as to what the North Korean political culture really is.
It is the same kind of mind that dominates the Obama White House.
On May 12, Obama’s special envoy on the Korean peninsula, Steve Bosworth, declared: “I think everyone is feeling relatively relaxed about where we are at this point in the process. There is not a sense of crisis.” This could go down as one of the great ambassadorial dumb remarks of all time, indicating a disturbing detachment from reality. It certainly would do if it had been uttered by one of George W. Bush’s officials.
Consider the implications of Bosworth’s remark. Either the US knew a new nuclear test was imminent and Bosworth was telling a blatant lie in an effort to keep everyone calm or, likelier, it was the truth and indicates that the US had not the faintest idea what the North Koreans were up to, despite numerous analysts across the world, operating with far less information than the US Government had available, predicting Kim’s nuclear explosion.
Certainly Obama’s subsequent remarks, and those of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as well as US efforts at the UN Security Council, indicate that once the test was undertaken Washington was anything but relaxed.
To put it another way, Kim can predict Obama, but Obama cannot predict Kim.
Obama is plainly a leader of the highest intelligence, with a calm temperament and a very good bedside manner. But sometimes he seems to think he can change the world with PR.
Kim is teaching him that the world is a very intractable place. It is useful for the US to have good PR, but there are no serious problems that good PR alone will solve…
Even Pravda puts in its two rubles: American capitalism gone with a whimper
…The final collapse has come with the election of Barack Obama. His speed in the past three months has been truly impressive. His spending and money printing has been a record setting, not just in America’s short history but in the world. If this keeps up for more then another year, and there is no sign that it will not, America at best will resemble the Wiemar Republic and at worst Zimbabwe.
These past two weeks have been the most breath taking of all. First came the announcement of a planned redesign of the American Byzantine tax system, by the very thieves who used it to bankroll their thefts, loses and swindles of hundreds of billions of dollars. These make our Russian oligarchs look little more then ordinary street thugs, in comparison. Yes, the Americans have beat our own thieves in the shear volumes. Should we congratulate them?
More love and kisses at the links. Such a pleasant change from the Bush years.