Sunday, September 28, 2008

More on Fannie/Freddie and Graft

(via Instapundit) This is an excellent question:

"And this is why Congress is half the approval rating of President Bush (lower than third-hand used car salesmen, or lawyers). This is why I'm glad that "quick is not good" is carrying the day. Here we are, at the so called "worst financial flop since the Depression" and the long term politicians are STILL being politicians instead of leaders.

So tell me again: why should I trust my government that is out to bury me? And why do we need (or want) professional politicians?"

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Ouch Indeed. Democrats Lying to Avoid Proper Oversight of Fannie/Freddie

Via Vodkapundit, More video on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac showing Democrat lawmakers trying to claim there are no problems. Not a pretty picture at all for the dems.

Spread the word.
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A Must Read (or two) at Scrappleface

"Bush: Congress Must Act to Save Stupid People".

Oh what the heck. This one is good too:

“Obama hit the right notes for these people,” the pollster said. “The way he cocks his head to the side as if perplexed, his frequent interjection of non-verbal sounds, and his ability to speak for long stretches without definitively declaring what he believes…all of this appeals to the uncommitted.”

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Video - Burning Down The House: What Caused Our Economic Crisis?

Watch this. It's almost 10 minutes long but worth the time.

Update: Related Video here. Ouch Indeed.
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Toyota Prissy Prius Extended Test Drive

I was traveling on business this week and when I arrived to collect my rental car what should I find waiting for me but a Toyota Prius. Now I've had my doubts about these vehicles, including whether they really are so good for the environment, so I welcomed the chance to get some first-hand experience with one.
First, I stowed my small roll-on and computer backpack in the trunk. This isn't a separate compartment from the rest of the car, just a space with a retractable cover. I found that this small amount of luggage took up most of the available space there. It isn't very long from front to back and as far as height goes, there is maybe a foot with the cargo cover in place. It would be difficult to get a couple of larger bags in and still hide them from prying eyes.
After stowing my bags, I got in and found the "key," which is really just the remote fob that fits into a slot on the dash. To actually turn the engine(s) on, you push a "Power" button on top of the dash. I pushed once and the central information screen came on. I had to push a second time to get the instrument display to come up. I then proceeded to put my foot on the brake and release the parking brake, then attempted to shift into reverse. Nothing. It shifted to neutral and wouldn't do anything else. I put it back in park by pushing the Park button then tried again. Still no go. I pushed the power button again and the car turned off so I pushed it once more to re-activate the displays and then, quite by accident, discovered that if I pushed it twice more in rapid succession, I could shift into reverse. This whole operation took me close to ten minutes (Note to self: If you ever take it into your head to rob a a bank or something, do not use one of these as a getaway car.).
Finally mobile, I drove on out of the garage. The car's acceleration is actually quite good, all that torque from the electric motor I suppose, and steering is pleasant and predictable. Over the course of four days I did a mix of freeway and local street driving, most of it the latter. The car was pleasant to drive and once I figured out the quirkiness of starting up, mostly like any other car.
The moment of truth for the Prius came when I topped off the fuel prior to returning the car. The big selling point of the Prius is its fuel efficiency when compared to a car with a conventional power plant. So, how did it do? I drove 120 miles from the time I picked up the car to the time I refueled it. I put 3.47 gallons in the tank. That works out to 34.58 miles per gallon. My conventionally powered Honda Civic gets 33 and cost roughly $5,000 less than a Prius. It also has a larger trunk. The cabin may be slightly smaller, but not really noticeably so to me. With this kind of price difference, the fuel efficiency would have to be a great deal better than what I experienced to justify the cost differential over a conventionally powered car because it will take an awful lot of high-priced gas not used to make up $5,000. The Civic also starts and is ready to go as soon as I turn the key and put it in gear. The Prius was fun for a few days but I don't think I'll be buying one for myself.
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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Bill Whittle Looks Like He's Becoming a Regular at NRO

Here's his latest column, "The Undefended City" . If you've never read Bill Whittle, you're really missing some incredibly inspireing , and very clear-headed writing. You can find all of his essays at his website, linked over at the right in my sidebar. He has also published them all in a book titled Silent America: Essays from a Democracy at War. From the article:

"It is the small-town virtues of self-reliance, hard work, personal responsibility, and common-sense ingenuity — and not those of the preening cosmopolitans that gape at them in mixed contempt and bafflement — that have made us the inheritors of the most magnificent, noble, decent and free society ever to appear on this earth. This Western Civilization… this American City… has earned the right to greet each sunrise with a blast of silver trumpets that can bring down mountains.

And what, really, is a Legion of Narcissists and a Confederacy of Despair against that?"

Read the whole thing.
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Taxes and Patiotism

Last week VP Candidate Slow Joe Biden asserted that the rich (however that is currently defined) have a patriotic duty to pay more taxes. Judge Learned hand would disagree with him and in fact did disagree with him in the 1934 case of Gregory vs. Helvering:
"Anyone may arrange his affairs so that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which best pays the treasury. There is not even a patriotic duty to increase one's taxes. [my emphasis] Over and over again the Courts have said that there is nothing sinister in so arranging affairs as to keep taxes as low as possible. Everyone does it, rich and poor alike and all do right, for nobody owes any public duty to pay more than the law demands."

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Pachelbel's Canon in D... With An Attitude

A friend forwarded this to me (thanks Bob!). This is certainly a different take on an old favorite.

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Gas Prices and Economic Illiteracy

In the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, gas prices are, predictably, spiking in some places. I haven't seen it here in AZ and almost all our gas comes from a pipeline from Texas. In fact, I just came back from filling my tank at $3.41/gallon. So why are prices spiking in some places and not others? Rich Hailey provides the answer here.

"Here's how it worked. The Knoxville area has several bulk fuel storage depots. Some belong to the chain outfits, others are run by wholesalers that supply independent gas stations. In either case, they manage their storage levels to maintain a competitive retail price. When the price of gas is rising, they maintain a relatively full inventory. This means that on average the gas they store always costs less than the current spot price. On the other hand, when gas prices are dropping, they keep inventories low, so they aren't holding a lot of gas that cost them more than the market price.

It's the exact same thing you do to minimize how much you pay for gas. If the price is going up, you fill up in the morning before the price changes go into effect, and you fill the tank full. When the price is going down, you guy your gas in the afternoon, after the price changes, and you buy just what you need. The wholesalers and bulk storage facilities do exactly the same thing, except on a much larger scale. Gas prices have been plummeting lately, so all of the bulk storage facilities have been keeping their stocks low.

Then along came Gustav, which impacted the ability of refineries to deliver fuel to the regional and local bulk storage facilities. ......... "

Read the whole thing of course but don't expect the MSM to give you the real explanation like this. The economically illiterate MSM in its usual wanton disregard for the truth and apparent aversion to doing their jobs (researching a story and presenting just the facts) is going to trot out its usual line about evil oil companies and price gouging. And, unfortunately, a gullible public is going to buy it.

(via Instapundit)

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sarah Palin - She's No Neophyte When It Comes to Politics

I found this article about Sarah Palin's political rise in the UK's Daily Telegraph (and why do I have to go to a foreign news source to find out about politics in my own country?). It's a very good summary of how Sarah Palin has risen to political prominence, and why it would be unwise to discount her politcal skills and ability to get things done.
"The surprise is not that she has been in office for such a short time but that she has succeeded in each of her objectives. She has exposed corruption; given the state a bigger share in Alaska's energy wealth; and negotiated a deal involving big corporate players, the US and Canadian governments, Canadian provincial governments, and native tribes - the result of which was a £13 billion deal to launch the pipeline and increase the amount of domestic energy available to consumers. This deal makes the charge of having "no international experience" particularly absurd."

Read the whole thing.
(via Samizdata)
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Saturday, September 06, 2008

Barack 0bama: "no one could have anticipated the surge would work,..."

That's what Barack 0bama told Bill O'Reilly on Thursday night. What a breathtakingly stupid statement. If no one anticipated it would be successful, it would never have been tried. Some people clearly did anticipate it could work, and they were right. At least one of those people goes by the name John McCain.
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Bill Whittle Makes a Rare Appearance... National Review Online, and he's optimistic about the GOP's chances of retaining the Whitehouse. Two years ago, just after the 2006 election, I wrote this post and expressed some optimism that the GOP would learn its lesson and that the Democrats might just behave responsibly, having regained control of Congress. I have been disappointed on both counts. But with the nomination of Sarah Palin this week, I have reason to share Bill's optimism. The nomination sends a very strong message that John McCain does "get it" and that he is already doing something about it. Bill Whittle:
"John McCain got me to believe tonight what I never really believed about him before: he is serious about changing Washington. He is serious about getting the GOP back to basics. John McCain wants to repair the brand. Claiming to want to do something is talk. What I think will cause many to believe him is something more than talk: McCain decided to man up. It’s our fault. We lost the confidence of the American people. We said we’d be true to our principles, and we weren't. The Democrats didn't make us do it. We did it to ourselves.

That has the ring of truth to it. It is a grownup accepting responsibility for a mistake not of his making and asking for the chance to rectify it. I don’t know how much of the country will believe him. But I did."
"We did it to ourselves." They say that the first step in dealing with a problem is to recognize that you have one. John McCain gets that. He has taken that first step for the GOP. It's late in the game, but maybe not too late. "I don't know how much of the country will believe him. But I did."

I do too.
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