February 2010

DUDE, where’s our jobs??

By Cato the Elder

joblessMost of us who live in metro DC area aren’t living with the absolutely dismal unemployment numbers the rest of the country is experiencing.  With our relatively rosy 4.9% rate, our region has been somewhat insulated against the staggering job losses thus far.  Don Peck over at the Atlantic has a great article up this weekend about how persistently high unemployment rates will change the complexion of America for generations to come:

“The Great Recession may be over, but this era of high joblessness is probably just beginning. Before it ends, it will likely change the life course and character of a generation of young adults. It will leave an indelible imprint on many blue-collar men. It could cripple marriage as an institution in many communities. It may already be plunging many inner cities into a despair not seen for decades. Ultimately, it is likely to warp our politics, our culture, and the character of our society for years to come.”


Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

By Cato the Elder


So “Helicopter” Ben Bernanke was doing his usual bit in front of Congress this week, once again testifying that he’s going to maintain “exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate for an extended period.” According to him, he can afford to do this because:

“Increases in energy prices resulted in a pickup in consumer price inflation in the second half of last year, but oil prices have flattened out over recent months, and most indicators suggest that inflation likely will be subdued for some time. Slack in labor and product markets has reduced wage and price pressures in most markets, and sharp increases in productivity have further reduced producers’ unit labor costs. The cost of shelter, which receives a heavy weight in consumer price indexes, is rising very slowly, reflecting high vacancy rates. In addition, according to most measures, longer-term inflation expectations have remained relatively stable. The range that most FOMC participants judge to be consistent with the Federal Reserve’s dual mandate of price stability and maximum employment.”


If Colgan’s Out, Miller Best Choice

By Too Conservative

So news broke today that Chuck Colgan might not run for re-election. We’ve all heard this a lot before, but I’m sure you’d agree with me that it seems there’s more truth in it now.

Only one candidate stands out in the district as one with a proven commonsense conservative record: Jackson Miller.

I hope that if and when Colgan does decide to leave, that the party can coalesce behind a winning candidate.

Always expect the Spanish Inquisition

By Cato the Elder

Not that anyone actually watches these things, but it’s been interesting to see the kabuki dance in King Henry’s kangaroo court over the past couple of days.

In case you missed it, various Toyota executives were “invited” to testify before the Gub’ment Motors Board of Directors House Energy and Commerce Committee this week about anecdotal reports surrounding unintended acceleration and other quality control issues.  Mark Tapscott at the Washington Examiner correctly points out:

There are 25 Democrats on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, 12 of whom have received campaign contributions of as much as $10,000 towards their 2010 re-election campaigns from the United Auto Workers union, which is a co-owner of General Motors, Toyota’s main rival for U.S. sales.

Among the dozen recipients of UAW money are: Representatives Elijah Cummings of Maryland ($1,000), John F. Tierney of Massachusetts ($1,000), William Clay, Jr. of Missouri ($1,000), Gerry Connolly of Virginia ($3,000), Michael Quigley of Illinois ($10,000), Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island ($1,000), Danny Davis of Illinois ($1,000), Chris Van Hollen of Maryland ($1,000), Paul Hodes of New Hampshire ($2,500), Chris Murphy of Connecticut ($5,000), Peter Welch of Vermont ($1,000), and Judy Chu of California ($500).

Not one of those Democrats recused themselves from the hearing, by the way. But wait, it gets better.  Karl over at HotAir notes that the phantom acceleration theory’s main proponent is a fellow by the name of Sean Kane.  To wit:

Two weeks ago, his firm released a 51-page report that alleged at least 2,262 Toyota and Lexus owners have reported sudden acceleration that resulted in 815 crashes, 341 injuries and 19 deaths since 1999. About half of the complaints involved vehicles not included in any current Toyota recalls, according to the report.

Toyota said it is unable to confirm Mr. Kane’s numbers and has hired its own study firm.

Mr. Kane said his latest report wasn’t produced as a direct result of funding from a particular lawsuit against Toyota. Yet lawyers often pay him a consulting fee to review individual crashes, listen to depositions, advise lawyers on questions and strategies, and produce analyses of crash trends using National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data. He does not receive a bonus or a percentage of any settlement in such cases, he said.

In the report released last week, Mr. Kane thanked a group of lawyers who have pending cases against Toyota for sponsoring some of his research into unintended acceleration in Toyotas. Three of those lawyers—Terrence McCartney of New York; Donald Slavik of Milwaukee, Wis.; and R. Graham Esdale Jr. of Montgomery, Ala.—said Mr. Kane has helped on cases, including litigation against Toyota.

Got all that?  Ambulance chasers: check.  Career expert witnesses: check.  UAW goons: check.  Democrat Legislators bought and paid for with illegally diverted TARP money: check.  Give these guys some credit, they really know how to stack the deck.  (snark on) Still, I’m confident that Toyota will get a fair hearing and objective examination of the evidence because there are several things working in its favor, namely: 1.) Toyota doesn’t hire UAW workers 2.) Toyota’s US manufacturing base is concentrated in red states and 3.) Gub’ment Motors is a slush fund for the Democratic re-election campaigns. (snark off)

Pay no attention to the fact that the Chevy Cobalt has over ten times the number of consumer complaints than the Corolla does.  For some reason  I don’t think they’re going to be subject to the same level of scrutiny.

H/T Karl, Mark Tapscott

Retire Rick

By Too Conservative

A new site from RPV…they keep being incredibly aggressive online, love it.


Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/retirerick

It’s Time For A Teacher Revolt In Loudoun

By Loudoun Insider

Check out this comment thread at School Board Chairman John Stevens’ blog.  Some teachers make some specific ideas for efficiencies and cost savings at LCPS.  I’ve seen other similar comments here and there and have even received a few email complaints from teachers.  But most of them are too scared to go public, or even comment anonymously with their concerns for fear of retaliation.


I am a harsh critic of LCPS, but I understand that quality teachers are the number one asset.  Unfortunately I don’t believe that the Hatrick administration acts that way.  I feel that they are used as budgetary pawns to cover up the excesses built into this system.  The teachers are the ones that really know where the skeletons are buried.  It is well past time for them to band together and speak up and be heard.  It’s time to clean up LCPS and truly reform it for the good of the students and the teachers.  The prevailing public opinion of LCPS is that it is bloated and full of waste.  Teachers will not see significant increases in salary until that public perception is changed, and they are the best group to effect that change.  Band together, teachers, and demand reform!  These trying times demand bold action.

Do You Want Politicians Texting You?

By Too Conservative

Vice President Joe Biden may not have helped President Obama carry any states, but the frenzy that surrounded his selection helped the Obama campaign rake in roughly 3 million cell phone numbers and propel mobile technology to the front of politics.

But are average Republican voters really ready to give a campaign something as intimate as their cell phone number?

One of the first things I was tasked with on the McDonnell campaign was finding a mobile vendor to use for the campaign. Mobile was not being pushed onto the campaign, but the campaign and candidate had a strong interest in becoming the first Republican campaign to successfully integrate the use of mobile through all aspects of the race. I spent countless hours calling vendors across the country and  spoke with more than a dozen firms offering mobile services, and boy, did their prices fluctuate.

The large cost associated with the use of mobile is not set up costs, nor sending messages, but the monthly fees associated with a unique “shortcode” or short group of numbers attributed distinctly with the purchaser. In Governor McDonnell’s case, our short code was “GOBOB” or “46262.” The process to acquire a short code is neither easy nor quick. The large carriers must approve your request, which can literally take months (in Bob’s case it took about two months). Once a shortcode is acquired, campaigns must pay a monthly rental fee to keep it, and there of course set up costs.

Why do liberals hate America’s Senior Citizens?

By Guest Poster

This is a follow-up to this post where I discussed the mechanics of debt auctions and highlighted a recent near-failure.  I’d encourage you to read that first because it reinforces what I’m going to say in this article.


First, I’d like to direct your attention to this document.  Yes, it’s a real document, and here’s the summary:


The Department of Labor and the Department of the Treasury (the “Agencies”) are currently reviewing the rules under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and the plan qualification rules under the Internal Revenue Code (Code) to determine whether, and, if so, how, the Agencies could or should enhance, by regulation or otherwise, the retirement security of participants in employer-sponsored retirement plans and in individual retirement arrangements (IRAs) by facilitating access to, and use of, lifetime income or other arrangements designed to provide a lifetime stream of income after retirement. The purpose of this request for information is to solicit views, suggestions and comments from plan participants, employers and other plan sponsors, plan service providers, and members of the financial community, as well as the general public, on this important issue.”


Pay particular to the language in item 13:


Should some form of lifetime income distribution option be required for defined contribution plans (in addition to money purchase pension plans)? If so, should that option be the default distribution option, and should it apply to the entire account balance? To what extent would such a requirement encourage or discourage plan sponsorship?”


If you haven’t gotten the joke so far, what’s being suggested is that 401K and IRA accounts be converted to fixed-income instruments, and that some portion (or even the entire balance) be allocated to (wait for it) Treasuries.


Let’s be clear, I have no problem with a requirement that Treasuries be presented as an investment option in 401K or IRA accounts, but when you toss around language like “default distribution option” that starts to sound a lot like a mandate.  What curious timing for this request for comment to be floated.  Foreign demand for our debt is evaporating, and the Treasury sees the writing on the wall.  They’ve run out of ways to manipulate the yields, including cooking the CPI numbers.  The only way to prop up the Treasury market at this point is through mandated participation dressed up as 401K/IRA to annuity conversion (administered by the same wonderful people who run Social Security!), which is precisely what Argentina did in 2008 when no one in the world would buy their debt.  If you think this can’t happen, you should read this.


Of course, the people who end up getting screwed the hardest by something like this are the seniors, simply because they’re been around longer and saved more.  All their class warfare rhetoric about the “rich” hits them the hardest.  This should come as no surprise, because you only have to look at the ObamaCare proposal to see their hostility towards seniors on display.  Remember all the throw-away lines about “if you like your health insurance, you can keep it?”  Yeah, unless you’re one of those poor elderly suckers who chose a Medicare Advantage plan.


Maybe death panels weren’t such a bad idea after all, considering the path this administration appears to be headed down.  Indeed, it starts to look like a pretty good deal as opposed to being penniless and without health insurance at 75.


Guest post by Cato the Elder

Osama El-Atari Arrested in Texas

By Loudoun Insider

Interesting!  He’s now in federal prison in Alexandria.  I bet a few local politicians are feeling a little nervous right now.

New NRSC Ad…Google Parody

By Too Conservative