Tuesday, March 31, 2009

When General Motors' Bankruptcy Comes


It's not official; it is inevitable. The Obama administration has decided that General Motors cannot be salvaged the way that banks were. General Motors was going to need 5-10% of what the banks needed to save a century-old bastion of American industry from a mess that the banks created and from which the banks were saved. But that was too much to ask for.

Step One: Eliminate the resistance.
Get rid of Richard Wagoner, the CEO, and his Board of Directors. Put the number two man in charge and bring in some new experience-less directors. Resistance is gone; compliance is achieved.
Step Two: Eliminate the opportunity.
Set an impossible deadline to reorganize and establish a necessary cash flow from banks that were bailed out, but that were keeping the cash to themselves. Set impossible demands; establish impossible obstacles. Opportunity is removed; capitulation is formulated.
Step Three: Eliminate the resources.
Take financial and legal control and direct the company to move quickly to bankruptcy. Financial alternatives were never available; bankruptcy was never avoidable.
Step Four: Eliminate the blame.
Establish the appearance of logic, reasonableness, compassion, and responsibility at each previous step so that the destruction of the company, the destruction of its suppliers, the destruction of its dealers, and the destruction of its unions can be argued to be beyond the control of the government. Enough money was given to demand change; not enough money was given to effect change.
So, it is not yet official; it is inevitable that General Motors will go into bankruptcy. The government has failed to fix the financial system thereby insuring that General Motors cannot continue to operate in the absence of needed credit. Richard Wagoner has been named the official scapegoat for the failure of General Motors to operate without funds.
President Obama has dictated that 60 days is sufficient to correct any financial crisis using the government's own performance as a model exemplar.
Therefore, the only course of action for General Motors is capitulation and bankruptcy as dictated by the government as the controller and the government as the judge. And all of this accomplished without the benefit of anyone who knows anything about the automotive industry on the President's task force. That's so amazing. The leftists and eco-nazis can claim victory over the evil CO2-spewing corporation while the rightist can claim that a corporation that knuckled under to unions deserved its own fate.

Well, it looks as if we are all winners and Obama has indeed led us to hope and change... right?


Government Shows Automakers How To Manage


"Off with its head!" So declared President Obama. And off came the head of General Motors. It was, by all measures, a quote from the French Revolution, but why quibble?

General Motors was out of money; it was out of options. Management showed that it couldn't control its spending: the CEO took a private jet. Management showed that it couldn't plan ahead: it didn't forecast the end of the credit market. Management showed that they were not people people: they couldn't get rid of people fast enough. Management showed that they didn't care about product: they only had 18 models getting more than 30 mpg.

The government has the money; it has all of the options. Government showed that it could control its spending: the bank bailout was less than $2 trillion. Government showed that it could plan ahead: it is forecasting a recovery as soon as the downturn is over. Government showed that it cared about people: its policies "encouraged" lending institutions to give mortgages for those needing "social justice." Government showed that it cares about product: it will "encourage" people to buy what they didn't know they wanted.

As an indication of how badly General Motors was run and how simple it is to fix all of the problems, Government established new regulations:

New fuel rules to cost autos $1.5 B

Higher mileage standards for ailing automakers will increase new vehicle price tags $64 to $126.

By David Shepardson

The Detroit News

WASHINGTON — Stricter fuel economy standards outlined Friday by the federal government for the 2011 model year will cost struggling auto companies nearly $1.5 billion and boost the cost of passenger vehicles an average of $64 for cars and $126 for light trucks.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said the ad­ditional vehicle cost will be re­couped by buyers of pickups, SUVs and minivans, through fuel savings, in an average of 7.7 years. Passenger car buyers will recover that cost in an average of 4.4 years. “These standards are impor­tant steps in the nation’s quest to achieve energy independence and bring more fuel efficient vehicles to American families,” said Trans­portation Secretary Ray La Hood.

The Corporate Average Fuel Economy rules set by the Obama administration pegged the 2011 passenger car standard at 30.2 miles per gallon and the light truck standard at 24.1 mpg.

Overall vehicle efficiency climbs to 27.3 mpg in the 2011 model year, up 8 percent over the 2010 model year.

It is the first increase in fuel ef­ficiency requirements for passen­ger cars since the 1985 model year. The regulations will save an esti­mated 887 million gallons of fuel and reduce tailpipe emissions by 8.3 million metric tons over the lifetime of the vehicles.

“There is clearly demand for automobiles that can achieve President Obama’s new standard and the Big Three have cars com­ing to showrooms that can meet this ambitious goal,” said the au­tomakers’ longtime champion, Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn.

NHTSA said that the higher prices likely will lead to a small re­duction in auto sales, and estimat­ed that as many as 1,024 auto in­dustry jobs could be lost as a re­sult of the regulation.

The new CAFE standards were generally praised by members of Congress and the automakers. “With gas prices once again on the rise, I am pleased to see

the Obama administration tak­ing this historic first step to­wards reducing our depend­ence on foreign oil and helping revitalize the domestic auto in­dustry,” said Rep. Ed Markey, D­Mass, chairman of the House Select Committee on Global Warming and Energy Inde­pendence.

Michael Stanton, president and CEO of Association of Inter­national Automobile Manufac­turers, said the industry is pleased to have a final standard to meet for 2011.

“We encourage NHTSA and the (Environmental Protection Agency) to work closely togeth­er to harmonize and finalize standards through the 2016 model year,” Stanton said, not­ing that the companies “have pledged to meet or exceed these new standards.”

The new rules subject nearly all vehicles of 10,000 pounds or less to fuel efficiency require­ments. Under prior rules, vehi­cles more than 8,500 pounds were exempt from fuel efficien­cy regulations.

The new rules are the first step in meeting a 2007 energy law that will require car makers to achieve an industry fleet av­erage of least 35 mpg by 2020, a 40 percent increase over today’s standard of about 25 mpg.

Federal law carves out a sep­arate category of work trucks between 8,500 and 10,000 pounds. NHTSA will spend at least two years studying the is­sue of whether to impose new fuel efficiency regulations for medium- and heavy-duty trucks. But they wouldn’t take effect until 2015, at the earliest.

You can reach David Shepard­son at (202) 662-8735 or .



Latest business news, stocks at

And that's why its head had to come off.

Oh, those cost estimates... $64 to $126 per vehicle? Hey, you believed the rest of it, too.
Not counting the Lexus models, hybrid cars cost roughly $1,700 to $11,200 more than comparably equipped gasoline vehicles.
But don't worry. Government money will help you pay for that... and help you forget the cost estimate was off by one or two decimal places.
"Close enough for Government work."

Monday, March 30, 2009

Less Satisfying News


Today marked the first official "e-edition" of Detroit's major newspapers, the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News.

Although I had tried it during the weekend with spotty response from the system, I thought I'd give it another try on the first day of the official publication. For the first 20 minutes, I couldn't get a decent connection to the sites... both served by the same system. I presumed this was still part of the "shakedown" cruise.

The URL [site address] indicated "demo.php" which confused me at first, but some digging revealed that the papers had decided to bypass the login pages for a few days so they were making everything public through their "demo" site. Some of the features such as the two-page view would not load for awhile, but eventually came online.

Unlike the weekend when I had the physical paper in front of me, I could not "speed read" anything. I found that a normal 5-minute perusal of the first section had taken me closer to 20-minutes and I was left with the feeling that I really hadn't absorbed nearly as much information. A lot of time was spent trying to figure out if I wanted to bother reading an article because the image and text were small and didn't allow the quick-glance test.

Here's the rub: as a retiree with a lot of time on his hands, I should represent the reader most open to this medium. After all, I do write this stuff that you read online. But there is a difference between a blog post or two and a hundred articles in a graphic facsimile of a newspaper. One gets to the point; one points in too many directions... even if it is "organized."

There is nothing in today's experience that changes my initial impression.


Wagoner Resigns From General Motors


I'd have said it, but Thaddeus McCotter said it first in this email I received from his office last night:

Washington, D.C. – Representative Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), Chairman of Republican House Policy Committee and the only Republican member from Michigan on Financial Services Committee, is available for comment on the resignation of GM CEO Rick Wagoner and the continued restructuring of the auto industry.

“Detroit is a last bastion of honor. Earlier this week, the President and the Treasury Secretary met with the Wall Street Chieftains who crashed our credit markets and dragged us to the precipice of a global depression. The White house pledged to work with these Wall Street CEOs who, even now, defend their bonus packages.

“Now, Mr. Wagoner has been asked to resign as a political offering despite his having led GM’s painful restructuring to date. Mr. Wagoner has honorably resigned for the sake of his company’s working families. When will the Wall Street CEO’s receiving TARP funds summon the honor to resign? Will this White House ever bother to raise the issue? I doubt it.”

Why stop with the Wall Street guys? How about the dimwads in Congress who helped push through "social justice" mortgages that became toxic?

Barney, you can just leave your letter at the receptionist's desk.



Saturday, March 28, 2009

A News Disaster


The Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press began their "pay for play" electronic editions, so I thought I'd take a look since I subscribe to both print editions.

The Free Press edition simply failed to load completely:

The Detroit News... well....

I'll chalk this up to pre-game jitters on their part... waiting until after 10:00 pm on a Friday evening with the NCAA games playing improved performance significantly. But I suspect that the most loyal readers are older residents who enjoy flipping through the print edition with a cup of coffee on the table. They are probably having breakfast before leaving for work or some other activity and will find this new medium unacceptable as a primary source of news.

As for younger readers, I suspect they will simply ignore the electronic version or use it for finding specific news about issues... something that can be done without subscribing to the print edition. Younger readers are more likely to disregard the distinction between news sources [e.g., Detroit News vs. New York Times] and focus more on finding what they want quickly. And the "chatty" news items of the print edition will simply disappear from their radars.

Ironically, the New York Times and USA today, among other papers, offer local delivery. There is an option for mail delivery of the local papers, but the morning readers are just not going to be happy with the change.
This is the kind of desperation that kills off companies. They become cost conscious above being product conscious. They forget why people buy their products. They believe that because they can do something else, they should do something else... and then they do something that alienates their main customer base.

General Motors and the other domestic manufacturers focused only on costs during the 1980s and 90s and ended up with Chevrolets "rebadged" as Cadillacs. It didn't take the customer base long to see through that ruse. It made sense to the accountants; it made no sense to the buying public. And once you lose your customer base, it is difficult to recapture it.

People buy a product because it fills a need in a certain way. A local newspaper is a tactile as well as visual experience. If I simply want information about a subject, there are a variety of electronic sources available. For the most part, a local paper is a redundant electronic source. I can turn on the radio or TV for the 30-second "in-depth" blurbs. I can "search" a subject and get 354,672 online sources from Google or Yahoo!. I don't need a crawlingly-slow page load on a laptop screen for my local news... and really don't see myself "browsing" the "edition" the way the print version allows. I want to be able to walk past the stack on the table and grab a section for a casual second re-read of something that caught my eye earlier... I don't want to have to log back on and search for it.

And then there is the trip to the home "library".... Try dragging your computer in there.

The print editions will be delivered three times a week. But I'm thinking that the customer base will be trained to live without their morning paper as the unintended consequence of this strategy. After awhile, they will simply forget about subscribing. It will no longer be part of their routine.
But I'll give the devil its due: the interface is well designed, readable, and flexible... even if it is not the way... or where... I want to read a newspaper. I can see this as the future of newspapers when ultra-light weight, voice controlled, "take anywhere" computers become available. I'm talking about something about 1/8" thick, about 1/2 pound, with a 15-20" diagonal display... and indestructible. That's when newspapers will be obsolete... a decade or so in the future, perhaps.

<a href="" target="_new" title="Future Vision Montage">Video: Future Vision Montage</a>

Friday, March 27, 2009

One In Eight Or One In Five


  • One
  • Two
  • Three
  • Four
  • Five
  • Six
  • Seven
  • Eight
One in eight jobs have faded away.
Michigan jobless rate hits 12 percent in February
3/25/2009, 4:37 p.m. EDT
The Associated Press

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan's unemployment rate rose to 12 percent in February, marking the eighth straight monthly increase, the state reported Wednesday.

The seasonally adjusted jobless rate was the state's highest since it hit 12.1 percent in January 1984.

The national unemployment rate also increased last month, rising by a half percentage point to 8.1 percent.
Of course, that is just an average. In Detroit, it looks like this:
  • One
  • Two
  • Three
  • Four
  • Five
Detroit's jobless rate hits 26-year high at 22.2%

It tops mark for metro area, Michigan


The unemployment rate in Detroit hit 22.2% during January, the highest rate in 26 years.
At what point does this become untenable?


No Rhyme Or Reason


The world has adopted English and the U.S. dollar as its common language and currency. That doesn't make either perfect. For example:

  • Ash
  • Bash
  • Cash
  • Dash
  • Gash
  • Hash
  • Lash
  • Mash
  • Nash
  • Sash
  • Trash
  • Wash
A diller, a dollar, a ten o'clock scholar.

Okay, some rhyme; no reason... no apparent reason, anyway. Maybe that's why... with the current administration's reckless spending spree... that some countries are beginning to talk about dumping the dollar.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Minor Tweaks 2


Laparoscopic surgery is a great benefit to the patient if my current experience is a reliable indicator. Sure there is discomfort and some swelling around incisions are made and instruments threaded through to the repair site. But damage is minimzed and recovery is easier.

Having had the repair done as a young man 40-years ago gives me a good personal comparison. In two days, I have reached the level of recovery that took at least two weeks the open incision way with a body that heals more slowly. While there is the occasional jab of pain from moving just the wrong way, it is almost pain-free. A generous use of ice packs is in order, however.

It may be several weeks before I get back to my weight workout and then start playing golf, but at least I can clearly see myself doing that. Guaranteed that the other way would have kept such thoughts out of my head a lot longer.

... From my iPhone.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Connect The Energy Dots


The sunlight is free. The wind is free. Energy from the sunlight and wind is not free.

From the Detroit Free Press:

DTE, Consumers may hike electric rates by 11%
Unless state regulators step in, Michigan's two major utilities may raise residential electric rates.

The typical Consumers Energy household could pay 11% more starting in May, adding $10 to the monthly bill.

Beginning in July, Detroit Edison's average household could pay 11% more, or about $7 more per month.

The rate hikes can take effect automatically under a new state law if the Michigan Public Service Commission doesn't act within six months of the requests being filed.
From the Michigan Government site:
Granholm Says Denmark Experience Demonstrates New Energy Economy Can Create Jobs
LANSING - In her weekly radio address, Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today highlighted a partnership with Denmark that will allow Michigan to explore new development and share experiences in the areas of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and job creation.

Granholm said that Michigan's agreement with Denmark will strengthen our ability to collaborate with a country that has moved to the forefront of renewable energy technologies and put people to work in the process.

"Denmark leads the world in wind power technology, an industry employing 20,000 people in a nation with half Michigan's population," Granholm said. "We understand how a new energy economy can be a source of increased innovation and job creation. In fact, the Center for American Progress calculates that Michigan can create 60,000 new jobs by investing in wind, solar, biofuels and energy efficiency."

Granholm underscored some of the steps that Michigan has implemented, from putting in place a Renewable Portfolio Standard to initiating the nation's most aggressive tax incentives for research and development and manufacturing of batteries,.

"At a time when our economy is challenged and job losses continue to dominate the news, it's important to remember and to continue to invest in the steps that will diversify our state's economy and create jobs, all kinds of jobs for all kinds of people," Granholm said.
From The Detroit News:
DTE sees 280 wind turbines in Thumb's Huron County

Associated Press

BAD AXE -- The skyline in Michigan's rural Thumb could look a bit like historic Holland a few years down the road under DTE Energy Co.'s announced plan to install 125 wind turbines in Huron County by 2015 -- and 280 within two decades.

DTE Energy officials told Huron County commissioners the company must add 1,200 megawatts of green power to meet the state's new energy mandate. State rules require utilities to provide 10 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2015.

The Huron County wind turbines eventually could provide 4 percent to 4.5 percent of the company's total power, DTE says.

The Detroit-based utility now generates about 1 percent of its power from renewable energy sources, said Grady Nance, manager of DTE Energy Renewable Energy Development. He said DTE's goal is to have about 3 percent of its electricity generated from renewable energy sources by 2012.

"We're going to be running hard to do that," the Huron Daily Tribune quoted him as telling the county board March 17.

State law requires DTE to buy at least half of the remaining 9 percent of total power that has to come from renewable energy sources from a third party. DTE says it seeks to produce the other half of the renewable energy from its own projects.

It said it will do so primarily through commercial-scale wind projects and some smaller solar projects.

"We will have about 565 (megawatts) of wind energy on our own" in Huron County by 2028, Nance said.

DTE has about 55,000 acres of land easements signed, with about 7,000 more acres under negotiations, according to The Saginaw News.

In response to questions from commissioners, DTE officials said the utility expects to cap the renewable portion of its generating capacity at 10 percent. That's because green power still costs more than power from coal and nuclear plants.

DTE said construction should create about 200 jobs, with groundbreaking expected in 2011.
The way to improve a distressed economy is to:
  • Raise energy costs for businesses and consumers
  • Use a model of a highly subsidized energy system as the basis for designing future energy resources
  • Require a primary energy provider to use uneconomical methods of power generation or buy the power from other providers and pass the higher costs on to business and consumers
Three dots... not so hard to connect.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Minor Tweak Of The Day


In my youth, I engaged in all sorts of physical activities that created some unusual stresses on my body... okay, let's rephrase that. In my youth, I was involved in various sports and jobs that, while making me fairly strong, created muscle and joint stresses that have affected me somewhat.

One of those sports was wrestling. As a high school freshman, I immediately went out for the football team. I was a six-footer, but a little skinny, so I played end. I didn't have a lot of skill, but I was strong and could block so it worked out fairly well. Our freshman football coach happened to be the varsity wrestling coach and he noticed that I was strong for my age. That was because my dad had a carpet and furniture cleaning business that I help in during the summer and after school hours.

Wrestling soon became my favorite sport. I wasn't a great wrestler, but better than average. I wrestled four years in high school and three years in college. After going into the Air Force and being stationed in northern North Dakota, I really wanted something to do when I wasn't on duty, so I formed a wrestling club. With a little help from the base recreation office, we were able to schedule meets with colleges and universities in North Dakota, Minnesota, and Manitoba.

My wrestling career ended with an annual physical and the discovery of a hidden hernia. One Air Force surgery and six-weeks of discomfort later, I decided to look for other diversions.

Recently, my wife and I went on a diet. After losing the first 20 or so pounds, I noticed a very small bulge below the scar from that hernia operation. I thought it might be simply that the depression from the scar made it look like a bulge, but after a few weeks it was apparent that the old injury was back.

Today I'll be in for the second repair. The surgeon will go in laparoscopically and use a reinforcing mesh with staples to reinforce the torn muscle. While I'm not thrilled with the idea of plastic and metal being spread across part of my body, the surgeon assures me that this procedure is very common and with very few complications and should prevent a third occurrence of the problem.

At my age, one expects problems here and there. As long as I am ready for spring golf, I guess a little plastic and metal is acceptable. Given the fact that I don't have to take any medicines for any other problems and most of my other parts are just fine, this is just a little inconvenience. But if I miss a post or two, you'll know why.


Monday, March 23, 2009

They Are Called Taxpayers


From The New York Times:

U.S. Rounding Up Investors to Buy Bad Assets
When I saw this headline, I couldn't help but think about an old western cattle drive. "Let's get them dogies to the slaughterhouse. Round 'em up; head 'em out."
The plan relies on private investors to team up with the government to relieve banks of assets tied to loans and mortgage-linked securities of unknown value. There have been virtually no buyers of these assets because of their uncertain risk.

As part of the program, the government plans to offer subsidies, in the form of low-interest loans, to coax private funds to form partnerships with the government to buy troubled assets from banks.

But some executives at private equity firms and hedge funds, who were briefed on the plan Sunday afternoon, are anxious about the recent uproar over millions of dollars in bonus payments made to executives of the American International Group.

Some of them have told administration officials that they would participate only if the government guaranteed that it would not set compensation limits on the firms, according to people briefed on the conversations. The executives also expressed worries about whether disclosure and governance rules could be added retroactively to the program by Congress, these people said.
Why would they think the government of Chris Dodd and Barney Frank would do that?


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Distractions 2


I've spent the last two days crunching numbers and filling out worksheets and schedules for 2008 taxes. Now it's time to spend some time with the family as our youngest is celebrating his birthday along with my younger brother. It's time for the house to fill up.

Back to being opinionated tomorrow.


Friday, March 20, 2009

Culture Of Crime


Big crime makes headlines and has a dramatic impact. Small crime saps the moral and ethical foundation of communities. Big crime destroys lives. Small crime destroys trust. Bernie Madoff was a big-time criminal. These are small-time criminals.

So why bother to look at small-time crime? Unlike Madoff, there is a strong, cultural connection among these small-time criminals... a seeming culture of crime... some might say "victimless" crime. But I wouldn't say that at all. Madoff was, I believe, an aberration... an amoral, unethical individual who was willing to take advantage of anyone and everyone. The small-time criminals in the story linked above are more insidious. Madoff's actions were like large knife wounds; the small-time criminals' actions are more like a pernicious virus that saps the vitality of the community.

In today's economy, it might be easy to say, "Oh, well. They were just trying to survive." Yes, viruses try to survive, too. But that doesn't make any of us feel better... or be better off.

There are a lot of "sophisticated" people who scoff at "Midwestern" or "Protestant" ethics... hard work; playing by the rules; giving back to the community. They don't see an issue with "tweaking" the "intent" of the law. Sort of like Rep. Pelosi saying that illegal aliens... another group of "small-timers," were true U.S. "patriots." Is that like saying someone with AIDS is just a good "host?"

The Madoffs of the world are dramatic and devastating for a brief time. The small-timers are stealthy and devastating to the long-term health of our system. For some reason, we don't see the latter as really that bad.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Change Came And Hope Left


We live in troubled times. World economies were hit by years of accumulated corruption and manipulation. Is it a wonder that people feel upset and lack confidence.

From MarketWatch:

Consumer sentiment slips to 16-year low
By Rex Nutting, MarketWatch
Last update: 10:27 a.m. EDT March 14, 2008

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- U.S. consumer sentiment slipped again in March, but not as much as expected, according to media reports Friday.

The University of Michigan/Reuters index tracking consumer sentiment dipped to 70.5 in March from 70.8 in February. The March reading came in above the 69.0 expected by economists. See Economic Calendar.

Still, it was the lowest in 16 years.

The expectations index fell to 61.4 from 62.4, also the lowest since early 1992. However, the current conditions index for March improved to 84.6 from 83.8 in February.

Consumers' expectations for inflation over the next year jumped to 4.5% from 3.7% in February, an increase that "cannot be interpreted as anything other than troubling," wrote Joseph Brusuelas, chief U.S. economist for IDEAglobal.
While our government now scrambles to diffuse the anger of its citizens who feel they cannot trust big business, big government, or the "change" that was promised to them, AIG is the current poster-boy for what ails the country. AIG is the financial giant that precipitated a big part of the meltdown. They were the company that made Sen. Dodd of Massachusetts the recipient of large sums of campaign contributions... more than $280,000 over the last 20 years. They were the company that Sen. Dodd insisted have the right to pay bonuses to their executives despite massive loans from the Federal government. They are the company that Sen. Dodd now vilifies as he tries to deflect attention from his own shady actions.

Meanwhile, Barney Frank continues his own version of the Mad Hatter by blithely disregarding death threats made against AIG executives as he demanded their personal information be made public. That's the same Barney Frank who did such a marvelous job with Fannie Mae in screwing up the mortgage industry.

Yes, the people of the U.S. have expressed some pretty deep pessimism with the present situation... and their probable future. It's that way all over the world, isn't it?

Well, maybe not all over the world.
ABC News, via HotAir

Click on video below.
[h/t Gateway Pundit]

Well, we can't exactly blame President Bush for that, can we? Oh, wait! I'm sure President Obama will point out that 35% of Iraqis say things are not going well in their own lives. That's the same President Obama who has surrounded himself with a Cabinet of high integrity individuals [who just can't figure out their taxes] and takes advice from stellar Democrats such as Dodd and Frank and Nancy Pelosi who thinks illegal aliens should be rewarded with everything from free health care to being praised as true American patriots.

These are the same purveyors of "hope and change" that want to have U.S. military personnel who were injured in the line of duty pay for the insurance to cover their treatment.

Small wonder that the Iraqis have a better attitude toward their war-torn existence than Americans have toward a nation under the thumbs of the biggest liars and manipulators in its history.
Strangely, that ABC video sounded an awful lot like Pres. Bush's strategy... with the results he was predicting. That's the same Pres. Bush that was called a buffoon by Pres. Obama's supporters. Makes you wonder just a little bit, doesn't it?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Climate Debate - The Numbers Game


Marc Morano, who is on Sen. Inhofe's staff
, sent out an email the other day that contained the following:

Washington DC: Fifty nine additional scientists from around the world have been added to the U.S. Senate Minority Report of dissenting scientists, pushing the total to over 700 skeptical international scientists – a dramatic increase from the original 650 scientists featured in the initial December 11, 2008 release. The 59 additional scientists added to the 255-page Senate Minority report since the initial release 13 ½ weeks ago represents an average of over four skeptical scientists a week. This updated report – which includes yet another former UN IPCC scientist – represents an additional 300 (and growing) scientists and climate researchers since the initial report’s release in December 2007.

The over 700 dissenting scientists are now more than 13 times the number of UN scientists (52) who authored the media-hyped IPCC 2007 Summary for Policymakers. The 59 additional scientists hail from all over the world, including Japan, Italy, UK, Czech Republic, Canada, Netherlands, the U.S. and many are affiliated with prestigious institutions including, NASA, U.S. Navy, U.S. Defense Department, Energy Department, U.S. Air Force, the Philosophical Society of Washington (the oldest scientific society in Washington), Princeton University, Tulane University, American University, Oregon State University, U.S. Naval Academy and EPA. [read more]

I'm certain that there is another list with all of the scientists who support the opposing view.

Here is the issue: all that is really available for debate is an hypothesis. It is hypothesized that human-produced CO2 is the primary driver of climate change... specifically warming. There are computer models that attempt to simulate the mechanism that makes human-produced CO2 the primary driver of climate change... specifically warming.

The problem is quite simple: the computer models fail. So all that is left at this point are arguments for and against the position. That doesn't mean the arguments are without meaning or impact. Politicians have enthusiastically attached themselves to both sides of the argument. For politicians, the issue is not about the climate or science; the issue is all about establishing a voter base... voters who, by and large, have little understanding about the issue beyond a picture of a healthy polar bear on an ice floe.

So, it is a numbers game. We have more scientists who conjecture our way rather than your way. We have more voters who can be convinced by anecdotal incidents ... snow storms in Iraq or hurricanes in Europe... than you have. What are really missing are the numbers that verify the hypothesis.

Sure, there are plenty of data analyses. Hall Of Record has offered up the analysis of Extreme Temperatures in the U.S. It doesn't verify or disprove the hypothesis. It challenges some of the tenets posed in the hypothesis... and there certainly are many challenges that cast significant doubt.

... And then there are some scientists who simply say that the physics of a human-produced CO2 greenhouse are based on falsifications. That's not a challenge; that's an attack. Hey, they're Germans... what do you expect?


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

AIG Unites Democrats And Republicans


Sometimes you have to wonder "what were they thinking?" Perhaps the executives at AIG translated the "too big to fail" into "too big for being reasonable." Apparently, they were the only ones who interpreted it that way... or maybe they thought no one would notice a mere $165 million after hundreds of billions were being doled out.

Washington, D.C. - Representative Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), Chairman of Republican House Policy Committee and the first member of Congress to oppose the Wall Street bailout, released the following statement in response to AIG's announcement of executive bonuses totaling $165 million:
"AIG has affronted and defied the public and its representative government. This ‘too big to fail’ company that is now 80 percent owned by the American taxpayer, is now lavishing its executives with $165 million in bonuses. For what?
Abject failure.
See additional info in the right column at "McCotter's Corner."

Joining Rep. McCotter was President Obama as told in The New York Times:
Published: March 16, 2009

WASHINGTON — President Obama on Monday vowed to try to stop the faltering insurance giant American International Group from paying out hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses to executives, as the administration scrambled to avert a populist backlash against banks and Wall Street that could complicate Mr. Obama’s economic recovery agenda.

“In the last six months, A.I.G. has received substantial sums from the U.S. Treasury,” Mr. Obama said. He added that he had asked Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner “to use that leverage and pursue every single legal avenue to block these bonuses and make the American taxpayers whole.”


Monday, March 16, 2009

Old Versus New Techology


A friend sent me a file version of this video... watch this before you read further:

I juxtaposed this with a recent post at Al Fin:

...EMP stands for electro-magnetic pulse and it is one byproduct of a nuclear blast. EMP destroys power sources, communication capabilities and would cripple or destroy the abilities of most satellites to function. A percentage of military communication and other satellites are hardened against EMP but the gravest effect would be on the ground, the space expert said. “As bad as the space part of this is, that is pretty bad, but the ground part of it is much, much worse. Effectively, whoever was subjected to an EMP burst would be shoved back to an agricultural state.” Few civilian assets such as power grids, generators, telephone systems and commercial communications satellites are hardened against EMP. _DefTech
There is an inverse relationship between complexity and survivability/durability for most consumer technology. An acquaintance of mine has a collection of early 1970s GM "muscle cars" that would still run if an EMP incident occurred over the U.S. I have an old portable typewriter that could still write articles if my computer failed. My present coffee maker would be useless without its electronic controls, but an old drip pot would reliably keep me awake.

This is not to say that I am pining for the "good old days." Technology has significantly improved our lives in many ways. But, as Al Fin has pointed out, we are increasingly vulnerable to disastrous technological collapse because key components of our technologies are not protected... but could be protected with minimal expense... if designed in rather than added on.

Here are the key technologies that need upgrading:
  • power, water, and natural gas distribution systems
  • computers/servers and cellular communications
  • electronically controlled systems in aircraft and vehicles
  • medical systems
On a personal level, even backup power and security systems would be useless because they have electronic controls. Perhaps an old pull-start generator or generators build without engine control modules would be functional. You'll need something that can power a refrigerator or furnace. Propane can power generators, provide heat and cooking fuel, and even be a source of fuel for camping lanterns.

The Amish would not notice much difference, but how many among us are prepared to become Amish?

Should we worry? Go back to the top and click on the link to Al Fin's article. Then consider what your government... especially the new government of reconciliation... is not communicating. Remember that in animal and plant evolution, specialization usually leads to extinction when conditions change. We have specialized into an electronics-based society.
But who is this Al Fin and what kind of credibility should we give to the rantings of an anonymous blogger? Fair enough. Would you take the rantings of The Wall Street Journal?
Oh, this is not new news. Congress got a full report in 2004.... The U.S. has a Missile Defense Agency that is working on ways to intercept ballistic missiles.

So, let's go back to the premise that old technology can be superior to new technology. The most effective point of detonation for an EMP device is just south of Lake Michigan.
A small, unsophisticated rocket concealed in a freighter headed toward Chicago would only have to have sufficient power to travel about 50 miles to accomplish what a much larger ballistic missile would require. What conceivable defense could be employed to react to and destroy such an EMP device? The system would have mere seconds to respond.
Hint: it probably is not this system. Until a hardened, satellite-based anti-missile weapon that is in a stationary orbit above the U.S. Mid-west can be deployed. And it is unlikely that such a weapon could ever be approved by U.S. Congress. After all, if we protected our nation, some other nation might object. The only alternative to a potential EMP attack is preparation.
Even if Congress required that from this moment forward all electronics be hardened against EMP, it would take a decade before significant protection was achieved. Of course, if we wait a decade, it would be two decades. Kind of like the reason for not developing our domestic oil and natural gas supplies.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

New Bond Girl


My wife just returned home from her daily shopping excursion. As I walked out to help her with the groceries, I commented that "if you were in a James Bond movie, your name would be Miss Moneyspender." Then I ducked.


Magnetism And Climate 2nd Verse


Friday's post dealt with "a radical new theory" about how earth's magnetism was correlated with temperature changes. Below are the contents of a document sent by Peter Ravenscroft whose work was cited in that post. There is a lag between increased magnetic intensity and increased temperature which gives an indication of causality as well as a good geographic correlation.

For those of you who did not go to Peter's original work, here is the chart of the change in earth's magnetism versus change in earth's temperature.

The slopes of these link-lines, though not invariant, are still fairly consistent. That means that if these two are cause and effect, or are both caused by the same third effect, the overall rate of change of the temperature (including both the initial rise and the subsequent longer drop, and until the coldest point in the cycle is reached), is very similar for each event. In reality the fit could be even better than the graphs suggest, given that the marine deuterium-ratio data may very well have missed a cold spell or two. The forward-sloping red line links the minor magnetic peak after the one giving the most anomalous slope, to the same temperature low, and is the one I would have preferred to see. At a guess, maybe there is a data error. Very few sedimentary records, even composite ones such as this, are perfect.

As Peter indicated:

I will try a rash prediction. Consider again the two graphs given in the figure above. The backward-sloping blue line passing through the present is an exact copy and a lateral translation of the one to the left, which gives the downward slope and length of a fairly typical temperature drop after an interglacial peak. The two upper horizontal black lines give the upper and lower temperature limits for glacial times. The green arrow shows the position of X, the point where the average time-link line should meet the typical dropping post-interglacial-peak temperature line. If it works, 8,888 years from now, expect the lowest point of a fairly mild glacial period. Let me know if you spot it on your rambles. There should be no high peaks until then, so take a warm jumper. Obviously, that sort of precision is totally unrealistic, as the slopes of the time-link lines do vary. But, you may get the idea and it may work, to within a couple of thousand years or so. Crystal ball-gazing aside, what I do think we can infer, if the above is even just basically correct, is that it is changes in the earth's magnetic field that are causing the ice ages. Or, some other phenomenon, so far unknown, is causing both.

Now, this is "a radical new theory" that hasn't been thoroughly examined by either NOAA or Al Gore, so there are bound to be "skeptics."


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Canadians Safe From Global Warming


It appears that despite warm temperatures in Australia, Canada has managed to insulate itself from the heat ravages of global warming. Joe D'Aleo at Icecap provided a link to this information about March 2009 temperatures in Canada:

Temperature records were broken across Western Canada. In some cases by a substantial amount. See below for details.

March 12, 2009 (as of 9am EST)


StationNew RecordOld RecordYear
Kindersley Airport-25.5C-19.7C1989

March 11, 2009


StationNew RecordOld RecordYear
Edmonton Airport-38.3C-30.6C1970
Cold Lake-36.4C-32.8C1956
Pincher Creek-31.5C-29.4C1950
Sundre Airport-33.4C-27.3C2003
Waterton Park-33.6C-18.9C1967

March 10, 2009

British Columbia

StationNew RecordOld RecordYear
Pitt Meadows-5.4C-5.0C1985
Campbell River-8.4C-5.6C1969
Williams Lake-27.1C-22.8C1925
Burns Lake-34.4C-30.0C1956

*Monthly record: the lowest March temperature on record for that station.


StationNew RecordOld RecordYear
Edmonton Airport-42.7C-29.4C1975
Fort McMurray-39.9C-38.3C1950
Cold Lake-39.6C-31.7C1956
Slave lake-39.5C-33.9C1956
Whitecourt Airport-36.4C-35.0C1950
Peace River Airport-36.6C-33.3C1951
Edson Airport-38.7C-37.2C1951
High Level Airport-37.3C-36.0C1987
Waterton Park-25.8C-19.6C1998
Rocky Mountain House-38.9C-35.6C1951


StationNew RecordOld RecordYear
Key Lake-46.0C-41.0C1998
Meadow Lake Airport-42.4C-37.3C1998
Stoney Rapids Airport-42.7C-41.1C1968
la Ronge-38.5C-33.9C1998
Assiniboia Airport-33.1C-29.7C2002
Collins Bay-36.7C-34.0C2004
Nipawin Airport-34.0C-33.3C1933
Watrous East-30.5C-29.7C1998
For those of you unfamiliar with the °C scale, here is the conversion:

°F °C
°C °F
100 37.8
30 86
90 32.2
25 77
80 26.7
20 68
70 21.1
15 59
60 15.6
10 50
50 10.0
5 41
40 4.4
0 32
30 -1.1
-5 23
20 -6.7
-10 14
10 -12.2
-15 5
0 -17.8
-20 -4
-10 -23.3
-25 -13
-20 -28.9
-30 -22
-30 -34.4
-35 -31
-40 -40.0
-40 -40
-50 -45.6
-45 -49
-60 -51.1
-50 -58
Canadian provinces, unlike U.S. most states cover significant north-south geography, so any all-time province records may not be as significant and the more discrete U.S. state records. Still, some of the cold temperature records listed above were 20°F colder than the old marks.

Of course, these records are probably going to be ignored by NOAA.

So the question continues: where is the global warming? And why hasn't the "significant increase of CO2 in the 20th century" affected weather more significantly?
Global warming means more hot and cold weather records. Sure. Just like boiling water to make ice cubes.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Magnetism And Climate


There has been a lot published about the relationship of sunspots and the sun's magnetic fields to earth's climate. Here is a different twist....

I received an unusual comment on this post. The gist of the comment was that there is a strong correlation between earth's magnetic field and earth's temperature changes. The comment referenced this essay:

The author is Peter Ravenscroft, Geologist, Closeburn, Queensland, Australia who has posted quite a bit around the internet about geology and climate so while the concept might be "a radical new theory" [his words], there may be some merit to it. I attempted to reach Peter, but our 12-hour time difference may be causing a delay. I'd certainly welcome any further comments by him regarding this concept.

On the basis of the following post, Peter's essay may or may not be totally original work, but that does not mean it is irrelevant.

The earth's magnetic field impacts climate: Danish study

January 12th, 2009 NASA image of the planet Earth

NASA image of the planet Earth.

The earth's climate has been significantly affected by the planet's magnetic field, according to a Danish study published Monday that could challenge the notion that human emissions are responsible for global warming.

"Our results show a strong correlation between the strength of the earth's magnetic field and the amount of precipitation in the tropics," one of the two Danish geophysicists behind the study, Mads Faurschou Knudsen of the geology department at Aarhus University in western Denmark, told the Videnskab journal.

He and his colleague Peter Riisager, of the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS), compared a reconstruction of the prehistoric magnetic field 5,000 years ago based on data drawn from stalagmites and stalactites found in China and Oman.

The results of the study, which has also been published in US scientific journal Geology, lend support to a controversial theory published a decade ago by Danish astrophysicist Henrik Svensmark, who claimed the climate was highly influenced by galactic cosmic ray (GCR) particles penetrating the earth's atmosphere.

Svensmark's theory, which pitted him against today's mainstream theorists who claim carbon dioxide (CO2) is responsible for global warming, involved a link between the earth's magnetic field and climate, since that field helps regulate the number of GCR particles that reach the earth's atmosphere.

"The only way we can explain the (geomagnetic-climate) connection is through the exact same physical mechanisms that were present in Henrik Svensmark's theory," Knudsen said.

"If changes in the magnetic field, which occur independently of the earth's climate, can be linked to changes in precipitation, then it can only be explained through the magnetic field's blocking of the cosmetic rays," he said.

The two scientists acknowledged that CO2 plays an important role in the changing climate, "but the climate is an incredibly complex system, and it is unlikely we have a full overview over which factors play a part and how important each is in a given circumstance," Riisager told Videnskab.

© 2009 AFP
Just as changes in CO2 has a correlation to earth's temperature ... albeit a lagging relationship indicating result instead of cause ... here is another potential relationship. It is difficult to imagine, however, that temperature changes could cause changes in earth's magnetic field rather than the other way around.


Best Basketball Game Of The Season


Big East Tournament ... Connecticut ... Syracuse ... 4 ... no, 5 ... no, 6 overtimes! Utterly fantastic! Syracuse player makes a three-point shot to win at the end of regulation time. After review ... referees say no. Play some more. Syracuse player misses a 1-foot shot at the end of the 4th overtime period. Kids playing 60 minutes ... more. Syracuse never led in the first 5 overtimes, but managed to tie the score at the end of each one. Then they jump out to a 5-point ... then 8-point lead at the start of the 6th. Nobody giving up. Connecticut finally scores, but the kids are all obviously tired ... missing dunk shots ... missing 2-feet away. But nobody gives up. Syracuse scores more ... Connecticut gets 5 quick points and closes to within 6 points. But time is running out. Connecticut fouls ... Syracuse players make their foul shots.

Final score: Syracuse 127; Connecticut 117. About 4 hours after it all began.

Best game of the season! Basketball history.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

President Bush's Treason


"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
Since 1789, presidents have taken office following this oath.

And since that time there are factions within the country that swear each president has committed treason in one fashion or another... mainly because they disagreed with the political decisions made my those presidents. None have been convicted of treason.
The Constitution of the United States, Art. III, defines treason against the United States to consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid or comfort. This offence is punished with death. By the same article of the Constitution, no person shall be convicted of treason, unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.
A lot of nut-job electrons are running around the internet regarding how President Bush committed treason for one reason or another... but none by this definition. Most reasons cited have been treason against the far left principles of far leftism that are then distorted beyond recognition into levying war against the U.S. or giving aid and comfort to our enemies. The "people" have spoken!

Under pressure from the far left, the Democratic Congress, and the administration-in-waiting, President Bush released 13 prisoners from Guantanamo. As the Associated Press reports [h/t Pat Dollard]:
The Taliban's new top operations officer in southern Afghanistan had been a prisoner at the Guantanamo Bay detention center, the latest example of a freed detainee who took a militant leadership role and a potential complication for the Obama administration's efforts to close the prison. U.S. authorities handed over the detainee to the Afghan government, which in turn released him, according to Pentagon and CIA officials.

Abdullah Ghulam Rasoul, formerly Guantanamo prisoner No. 008, was among 13 Afghan prisoners released to the Afghan government in December 2007. Rasoul is now known as Mullah Abdullah Zakir, a nom de guerre that Pentagon and intelligence officials say is used by a Taliban leader who is in charge of operations against U.S. and Afghan forces in southern Afghanistan.

The officials, who spoke anonymously because they are not authorized to release the information, said Rasoul has joined a growing faction of former Guantanamo prisoners who have rejoined militant groups and taken action against U.S. interests. Pentagon officials have said that as many as 60 former detainees have resurfaced on foreign battlefields.

Pentagon and intelligence officials said Rasoul has emerged as a key militant figure in southern Afghanistan, where violence has been spiking in the last year. Thousands of U.S. troops are preparing to deploy there to fight resurgent Taliban forces.

... According to the Pentagon, at least 18 former Guantanamo detainees have "returned to the fight" and 43 others are suspected of resuming terrorist activities. The Pentagon has declined to provide a complete list of the former prisoners they suspect are now on the battlefield.

So, here is a clear case of President Bush doing exactly what the far left, the Democratic Congress, and the President-in-Waiting and his contingent demanded... and in doing so giving aid or comfort to the enemies of the United States.

Perhaps President Bush isn't alone in this treason. He should have waited until January 21.
Or, as Barry Goldwater said: "None Dare Call It (T)reason."

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Perils Of Detroit Politics


The Detroit Free Press writes:

Kilpatrick strapped with strict rules to repay Detroit
Ex-mayor is scolded for high living, lavish gifts


In a scathing rebuke of ex-mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's high living -- which includes a new Cadillac Escalade -- a judge has ordered him to pay the City of Detroit $6,000 a month and disclose any gifts he or his wife receive over the next five years as part of his court-ordered restitution.

Wayne County Circuit Judge David Groner took particular note of $35,000 in cash gifts Kilpatrick received to buy a 2009 Escalade.

"What concerns this court," Groner wrote, is Kilpatrick's "ability to secure benefits or funds as gifts to purchase cars, travel in private planes and rent a home in an affluent Texas neighborhood."

The judge nevertheless granted Kilpatrick's request to move and work near Dallas.

A bigger concern is who is providing the money and gifts... and why. Who has skeletons in their closet that Kwame can expose? Whose career is in danger? Whose business is in danger?

People don't just give money and gifts away without a good reason. Kwame Kilpatrick has no future as mayor of Detroit or politics in Michigan. At least no foreseeable future. So why the largess?

Meanwhile, Michigan Attorney General Michael Cox dances around text messages.

Diogenes is still looking.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

February Weather


The February weather in southeastern Michigan was "near normal," but wildly variable with several days below 0°F and several in the 50s. My wife and I were glad to be somewhere else after enduring colder-than-normal November through January.

The first week of March greeted us with very warm, sunny days that melted the snow followed by two days of rain that washed away a lot of grime and salt and now the temperatures are dropping back toward typical early March readings. We're hoping the worst is behind us for this winter of non-global warming.


Monday, March 09, 2009



I was a bit distracted from blogging earlier... thinking about taxes. This year is a little unusual in that I last year I sold our small business and some stock with automatic dividend reinvestment that had a partial spinoff and a long term loss [fun to figure all of that out]. On top of that, I spent about ten months going back and forth with the IRS on 2007 taxes until they agreed with my original return... after I had sent about $1,000 extra to be sure I wouldn't incur some penalties.

At least I have the IRS' agent's name and employee number who verified the final understanding because I have this feeling I'll be reliving the whole mess this year. Actually, all of the IRS people I dealt with were helpful and pleasant, but the process just wears on one.

I'm all for a flat tax of x% of gross and forget it.


Sunday, March 08, 2009

Getting [NFL] Drafty In Detroit


This is a bit of a departure from the usual fare about Detroit and Michigan... basically bad economy and bad weather. There are many positives to this area, but bad news travels fast.

Perhaps the bad news sports story of this decade has been the Detroit Lions under Matt Millen. He was the architect of the first 0-16 team one-year, regular season record. He was the man who brought in a series of second-string coaches and second-string players and expected something more than second-string results. He is gone.

The Lions have a new, young coach from a respectable team from Tennessee. They also picked up a second-string lineman from that team who may be a starter for Detroit. This sounds like a replay of the last coach's strategy of filling slots with Tampa Bay retreads.

So, back to the point of this post: the NFL draft in April. The Lions need help everywhere. Let's get this straight, the Lions' players are tough men. They have exceptional physical talents. Many have been successful with other teams. But they are a lousy team. They have no real leadership at the management, coaching, and playing positions. I would characterize the organization as mentally weak... not stupid... weak. They display mental disarray. They become unfocused under stress. They have forgotten how to win. The NFL draft will not fix that, but it can be used to set a new tone.

The Lions have the first pick of the NFL draft as a result of their ineptitude. They have had a series of near-the-top picks over the past several years and wasted most of them on players that had a glitzy reputation, but lacked NFL toughness or speed. Rumor has it that they are now considering Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford. They have a Minnesota retread in Dante Culpepper as their projected starter and a couple of "Drews" in reserve, but there is little future in that trio. So, they are probably on the lookout for a future leader. With regard to Matthew Stafford, all I can think of is Joey Harrington. Harrington is a nice guy... a real gentleman. But he was a "pro-style" passer from Oregon who relied on an offensive line that would give him 5 or 6 seconds to pass and some very fast receivers who could catch up to passes thrown in the general vicinity. That didn't work well in the NFL.

I had the chance to watch Matthew Stafford in a few games against better teams. He had moments of brilliance, but he had many Joey Harrington moments of indecision... deer-in-the-headlights moments. That is a recipe for disaster in the NFL. Count one... two... pass is gone. If you can't find an open receiver that quickly... especially with the Lions... you are going to get "sacked." Harrington has biased my assessment of quarterbacks toward those who have the ability to react to the dynamics of the play and make quick decisions without consciously processing what they see. Stafford does not seem to be that type of quarterback. He has a strong and accurate passing skill, but he processes plays too much like Joey Harrington. If I were picking for the Lions and had to decide on Stafford or not, I would say "pass."

In my mind, there is only one quarterback who fits the mold of what the Lions need: Tim Tebow. He is big, fast, tough, smart, and makes quick decisions. Sure he makes mistakes, too. But he has one trait that the other quarterbacks in the draft and those with the Lions don't have and haven't had for some time: he won't settle for anything less than winning. And he won't settle for anyone who will settle for less. So I agree with Scout's assessment that he should be the first pick. Tebow is the size of an NFL tight end. He has the speed of an NFL receiver. He may have the strength of an NFL lineman. He certainly has the character that is missing in the Lions' organization. He could be their "game changer."

Yes, the Lions need players at every position... especially at offensive line where they have been small and slow... or in the defensive secondary where they have been, uh, small and slow... or the defensive line where they have been small and small... or linebackers where they have been small and slow. But most of all, they need someone who can play well despite the deficiencies around him. That is probably not Matthew Stafford.

The NFL draft is a month-and-a-half away. I've given the Lions what they need to make the right decision. Let's see what they do with their first round pick. Another bad decision there guarantees more future failure. Another Jake Long might help more quickly, but not as much in the long run.

We'll see how the Lions' management... carryovers from the Millen era... can make decisions then. Or if the former Tennessee Titans' defensive coach lobbies for a middle linebacker.


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There is always an easy solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.
Henry Louis Mencken (1880–1956)
“The Divine Afflatus,” A Mencken Chrestomathy, chapter 25, p. 443 (1949)
... and one could add "not all human problems really are."
It was beautiful and simple, as truly great swindles are.
- O. Henry
... The Government is on course for an embarrassing showdown with the European Union, business groups and environmental charities after refusing to guarantee that billions of pounds of revenue it stands to earn from carbon-permit trading will be spent on combating climate change.
The Independent (UK)

Tracking Interest Rates

Tracking Interest Rates


SEARCH BLOG: FEDERAL RESERVE for full versions... or use the Blog Archive pulldown menu.

February 3, 2006
Go back to 1999-2000 and see what the Fed did. They are following the same pattern for 2005-06. If it ain't broke, the Fed will fix it... and good!
August 29, 2006 The Federal Reserve always acts on old information... and is the only cause of U.S. recessions.
December 5, 2006 Last spring I wrote about what I saw to be a sharp downturn in the economy in the "rustbelt" states, particularly Michigan.
March 28, 2007
The Federal Reserve sees no need to cut interest rates in the light of adverse recent economic data, Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.
The Fed chairman said ”to date, the incoming data have supported the view that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable economic growth and a gradual ebbing in core inflation”.

July 21, 2007 My guess is that if there is an interest rate change, a cut is more likely than an increase. The key variables to be watching at this point are real estate prices and the inventory of unsold homes.
August 11, 2007 I suspect that within 6 months the Federal Reserve will be forced to lower interest rates before housing becomes a black hole.
September 11, 2007 It only means that the overall process has flaws guaranteeing it will be slow in responding to changes in the economy... and tend to over-react as a result.
September 18, 2007 I think a 4% rate is really what is needed to turn the economy back on the right course. The rate may not get there, but more cuts will be needed with employment rates down and foreclosure rates up.
October 25, 2007 How long will it be before I will be able to write: "The Federal Reserve lowered its lending rate to 4% in response to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and massive numbers of foreclosures that threaten the banking and mortgage sectors."
"Should the elevated turbulence persist, it would increase the possibility of further tightening in financial conditions for households and businesses," he said.

"Uncertainties about the economic outlook are unusually high right now," he said. "These uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policymaking -- nimble is the adjective I used a few weeks ago."

December 11, 2007 Somehow the Fed misses the obvious.
[Image from:]
December 13, 2007 [from The Christian Science Monitor]
"The odds of a recession are now above 50 percent," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's "We are right on the edge of a recession in part because of the Fed's reluctance to reduce interest rates more aggressively." [see my comments of September 11]
January 7, 2008 The real problem now is that consumers can't rescue the economy and manufacturing, which is already weakening, will continue to weaken. We've gutted the forces that could avoid a downturn. The question is not whether there will be a recession, but can it be dampened sufficiently so that it is very short.
January 11, 2008 This is death by a thousand cuts.
January 13, 2008 [N.Y. Times]
“The question is not whether we will have a recession, but how deep and prolonged it will be,” said David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch. “Even if the Fed’s moves are going to work, it will not show up until the later part of 2008 or 2009.
January 17, 2008 A few days ago, Anna Schwartz, nonagenarian economist, implicated the Federal Reserve as the cause of the present lending crisis [from the Telegraph - UK]:
The high priestess of US monetarism - a revered figure at the Fed - says the central bank is itself the chief cause of the credit bubble, and now seems stunned as the consequences of its own actions engulf the financial system. "The new group at the Fed is not equal to the problem that faces it," she says, daring to utter a thought that fellow critics mostly utter sotto voce.
January 22, 2008 The cut has become infected and a limb is in danger. Ben Bernanke is panicking and the Fed has its emergency triage team cutting rates... this time by 3/4%. ...

What should the Federal Reserve do now? Step back... and don't be so anxious to raise rates at the first sign of economic improvement.
Individuals and businesses need stability in their financial cost structures so that they can plan effectively and keep their ships afloat. Wildly fluctuating rates... regardless of what the absolute levels are... create problems. Either too much spending or too much fear. It's just not that difficult to comprehend. Why has it been so difficult for the Fed?

About Me

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Michigan, United States
Air Force (SAC) captain 1968-72. Retired after 35 years of business and logistical planning, including running a small business. Two sons with advanced degrees; one with a business and pre-law degree. Beautiful wife who has put up with me for 4 decades. Education: B.A. (Sociology major; minors in philosopy, English literature, and German) M.S. Operations Management (like a mixture of an MBA with logistical planning)