George Sarant

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Archive for May 2009

GRAND THEFT AUTO

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The government took over Chrysler, while handing a chunk to the UAW and another piece to Fiat, an Italian maker of crummy little cars no one in this country wants to buy. Secured bondholders included TARP recipients who rolled over, but also others who objected. They were strongly “encouraged” to cooperate by the government and also went along with the deal.

For GM a similar deal was struck. The US and Canadian governments own most of the company, with another big chunk going to the UAW, while bondholders were forced to settle for 10% of the company in lieu of the money they are owed. Stockholders, like myself, get nothing, for what was once a blue chip, dividend-paying stock. Never mind that as owners of the company we had no opportunity to vote on the deal; it was simply forced by the government. Perhaps bankruptcy would have yielded the same results, but an unfettered bankruptcy would not have required billions from the federal government, and would have voided the UAW contracts that largely sank the company in the first place. Instead the government has taken our property and given it to the UAW, which is mainly what the administration was interested in saving.

Meanwhile GM had a viable international business that was making money and which, until recently, maintained its position as the largest auto manufacturer in the world. GM was doing well in China, South America, and Europe. But the US is effectively walking away and dumping GM’s Opel brand on the German government, which in turn is also working on a deal to give it to Fiat.

This all has been handled incredibly badly and truly amounts to Grand Theft Auto. The biggest losers will be the taxpayers, who will also have to subsidize little green cars no one wants to buy and the lot of these companies will just get worse. Meanwhile what about Ford? Ford hasn’t taken any government money and as a result has a large private debt that it is going to have to pay back, unlike the other two, whose bondholders have been screwed. This puts Ford at a competitive disadvantage; punished for being slightly more successful and prudent It simply isn’t fair. . All of this is the kind of thing you might expect from Hugo Chavez , not the US government. These unprecedented actions make a mockery of the rule of law (more on that subsequently). Personally I’m never going to buy a government car, and the next one I buy will most likely be a Ford.

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Written by georgesarant

May 29, 2009 at 10:09 PM

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NO COUNTRY FOR WHITE MEN

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In seeking out in advance a “woman” and a “Latina,” for the Supreme Court and thus precluding everyone else, the administration has laid bare the Democrats penchant for reverse discrimination. Judge Sotomayor apparently shares this disposition, in ruling against white New Haven firefighters who scored higher on tests but were denied promotion for affirmative action reasons. This is a cancer the liberals have inflicted on our society, playing identity politics, assigning everyone to groups, and creating group “rights,” while having the audacity to accuse anyone objecting as being “divisive.” It is in fact the liberals who have made ascription the defining characteristic of people and destroyed the concept of individual merit. Their strategy has been to organize and mobilize minorities and self-hating liberals against white people, for alleged “oppression” and “discrimination,” when they are the only ones practicing the latter.

Unfortunately this strategy also diminishes Judge Sotomayor. She may in fact be well-qualified, but that has been superseded by her ascriptive characteristics in the way that the nomination has come about, although she has also not been shy about referring to them throughout her career because in today’s America being a “minority” carries obvious advantages. However the truth is it is totally superficial. “Women” are not a united interest group that identify with each other so this is meaningless. On the other hand “Latina” is also meaningless. Most Hispanics in the United States are of Mexican descent. Sotomayor is Puerto Rican. What does this mean to Mexican, Cubans, Colombians, etc. –nada. “Latino” is a construct of the media too stupid to understand the differences among people and left-wing activist groups using it to shake down favors and advance themselves.

To the extent that Sotomayor believes that the courts make “policy,” i.e. letting their personal feelings and “experience” determine judgments rather than the facts of the case, she fills Obama’s primary criterion of “empathy” for a Supreme Court justice. Then the biggest casualty is the rule of law.

Written by georgesarant

May 27, 2009 at 7:11 PM

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WATERBOARD PELOSI!

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Maybe the only way to get the truth from Nancy Pelosi is to waterboard her. The proterrorist left claims that enhanced interrogation techniques are inconsistent with our “values.” The truth is that this is not inconsistent with our values, but with liberal values. The first duty of government is to protect the public from harm. That is “value” number one. If the state fails to do that it is effectively a “failed state.” This approach has successfully kept us safe for eight years. Former CIA director George Tenet said that enhanced interrogations alone provided more information than everything obtaine from “the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency put together.”

This is fairly obvious to everyone but the loony left, who still seek tribunals to punish our own people for keeping us safe. These are people that hate the military, intelligent services, jet pilots, astronauts, and any other admirable Americans. They are more concerned with the “rights” of the terrorists than protecting the public. Pelosi now shares these views, while lying about having been briefed about terrorist interrogations, and claiming the CIA is lying. Obama, to his credit, has at least resisted releasing photos that make the military look bad, continued military tribunals, and supported the CIA, while unfortunately pursuing the “values” line in rejecting interrogations. But it will be interesting to watch Pelosi twisting in the wind as the truth emerges.

When it comes to a terrorist threat to thousands of innocent people, I believe that any means necessary can be justified in the face of attempted mass murder. These are not people who are impressed by “soft power” or subject to persuasion. The only way we are going to end this menace is to terrorize the terrorists.

Written by georgesarant

May 23, 2009 at 2:07 PM

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GLOBAL WARMING AND PRIORITIES

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Due to the amount of interest and multiple comments on Facebook about a simple Twit I did on weather and global warming I have decided to elaborate on what that means in terms of a position. The arguments that I find most persuasive on the subject are those of the Copenhagen Consensus, which are well worth studying. That position essentially does not deny that some global warming is taking place, for whatever reason. The question is what do we do about it, and what should our priorities be? Should we upend the entire economy for dubious goals that will make us considerably poorer, while increasing the expense on society immensely? Or would it not make more sense to begin addressing those areas that are likely to be impacted by global warming? Does it make sense to have continuous development and population concentration in coastal areas that may be impacted? For that matter why concentrate population on earthquake faults? Shouldn’t we discourage development in vulnerable places and encourage it elsewhere? Should affluent people on the coasts (and I am one) make policies at the expense of those, who are less affluent and living, i.e. in the midwest, desert, or mountain regions? These are the kinds of questions that have to be addressed comprehensively.

Furthermore we need to keep in mind that the earth is constantly changing, with or without people. Many kinds of disasters are possible. For example a rockslide in the Azores could create an tsunami that would flood the entire east coast of the US. The eruption of a series of volcanoes could do more damage than a nuclear war and threaten much of life on earth. These may be beyond our control. But there are other disasters looming that we can address, such as looming bankruptcy in Medicare, Medicaid, and eventually Social Security down the road. If this cannot be addressed before millions of baby boomers retire, thereby adding resistance to change, we will have a real crisis of our own making which is an unquestionable certainty as of now. There are numerous problems we are facing that require attention rather than what we think is a single Big One.

Written by georgesarant

May 18, 2009 at 6:42 PM

INFORMATION AND ATTENTION

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I’ve just deleted a few hundred Emails off of my computer. Virtually all of them were things I might be interested in and would get back to them later. But when later came they were mostly obsolete. The same thing is true of periodicals. I used to subscribe to a lot of magazines, and they would just accumulate, meant to be read at some point, but the piles just grew larger. However, when enough time passes, they are obsolete, and can be perused quickly or not at all and be disposed of, with no real loss of information that has not since been updated. So at some point I seriously cut back on magazine subscriptions, which still left a lot to be disposed of. After enough time you can come across something interesting, such as the fact that in turn-of-the-century computer magazines I didn’t notice a single reference to the now ubiquitous Google. It was still under the radar.

It is less messy and obviously less costly to get information off of the Internet, which is the main reason newspapers and magazines are on a downward slope. I’ve frequently turned down free, complimentary, or nominally priced magazines with the realization that I’m never going to have time to read them. At the same time on the Internet there are an unlimited number of sources competing for attention, and no one can keep up with all they might like to. So it occurs to me now that our attention span has limited bandwidth, which means that time and space are at a premium. That being the case it would seem logical that not only should publications be free, but maybe they should pay you for paying attention to them given the limited amount of space that is actually available in your head. I don’t know if publishers would go that far, but at the very least they may have to look at a free delivery model, for what in fact is the privilege of getting your attention, given all the other things that are competing for your time. Thus it is well worth taking a moment to think about what is taking your time and what is really deserving of it.

Written by georgesarant

May 13, 2009 at 6:26 PM

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THE “HATE CRIMES” DELUSION

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The house is currently considering legislation to establish “protected groups” such as “gay, lesbian and transgendered” individuals, among others. But when veterans were proposed as a group the Democrats rejected them.

“Hate” crime legislation is an abomination. Either there is a crime under existing statutes or there is not. The motivation or attitude of the perpetrator makes no difference. Hate crime legislation seeks to punish an attitude or speech. It is preferential to some groups but not others, therefore indicating there are classes of citizens with special rights. The absurdity is that the “hate” portion cannot legally be punished unless there is a crime, which is then treated more severely.

Suppose someone commits murder solely for profit, while someone else commits murder out of hatred. Is the latter any more egregious? Are victims of one crime of more value than victims of the other? Justice must be blind and treat all individuals equally. Such legislation destroys that concept and is therefore unjust. It is another example of PC run amok, and should be strongly resisted by all fair-minded people.

Written by georgesarant

May 6, 2009 at 9:43 PM

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OBAMA IS PRAGMATIC IN SOME AREAS

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There are some areas, such as appointing nutty radicals to legal positions, where Obama is predictably left-wing. But in other areas he has proven to be pragmatic and certainly far less doctrinaire than liberal Democrats in congress. Obama did not come into office with some design to take control of the financial system, and it is hard to see much difference between his administration and the Bush administration in this area. Indeed some of the most radical steps were initiated by the Bush administration in a final burst of big-government conservatism, which has proven to be disastrous for Republicans as a governing philosophy.

There is not much I would disagree with in this interview with the NY Times magazine. Although the interviewer is annoyingly presumptuous it is a revealing glimpse of the measured approach he takes on some issues. His remarks about education are particularly on target, although so far he has shown no inclination to take on the educational establishment and teachers unions. It is worth a read.

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May 4, 2009 at 11:41 PM

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