Elkhorn Creek Lodge

Pelosi Motors, Inc. II

Posted in economics, energy, environment by Eugene Podrazik on December 16, 2008

Here we wait, with baited breath, as to whether the Detroit auto makers will be bailed out or will have to file chapter 11.  If GM has any sense, it’ll take chapter 11.  Because if it doesn’t, it will become a wholly owned subsidiary of the Democratic party.  

As things stand now, GM (I use GM as shorthand for GM, and Chrysler) is a welfare agency funded by the manufacture of expensive luxury cars, large SUV’s and trucks.  And, as a bone to be tossed to the environmentalists, also manufactures small cars at a loss.  It provides lavish health care benefits and pensions for a retired workforce that outnumbers the number of UAW workers actually on the production line.  Through the “job bank” it runs a de facto unemployment agency.  Essentially, GM runs a social security agency, a medicare agency and unemployment agency.  Car manufacturing is just a side line activity.

The whole shell game worked as long as there was cheap gas.  But, the environmentalists over-reached, when their nirvana of four-plus dollar gasoline hit last summer.  Then the whole game of selling large cars to subsidize small cars and a welfare agency fell apart when the environmental wing of the Democratic party decided, in the name of global warming, to declare a jihad on the internal combustion engine.

And, “bankruptcy is not an option” Pelosi is trying to have her cake and eat it.  She wants to prop up GM Welfare, Inc. as payback to Big Labor.  And, she wants to appease the green crowd with “fuel efficient” cars.  What this bailout will do, especially with a “car czar” in Obama’s administration will result in is subsidization of UAW membership, working and retired, and diktats for econoboxes that you’re going to have to give away.  The Trabant comes to America!  Maybe each should have a bust of Nancy as a hood ornament.  We could augment the Pelosi car lineup with the Lada and the Skoda.  Back in 1992, I drove around in a Skoda in Iceland; it had a manual choke.  Manual choke, like the one on your lawn mower.  Never saw one in a car?  I thought so.

And, all the assumptions that drive the green agenda are suspect to say the least.  Global warming is in the process of being debunked.  And, Dr. Chu, our new Energy Secretary, doesn’t impress even waving his gold bauble he got in Stockholm.  Also, with economic growth, jobs and a recession, possibly a depression, this green agenda is going to be a real loser at the polls come 2010.  

It’s not that GM makes bad cars.  They make good trucks, SUV’s and large cars.  These big cars are more comfortable, have greater utility and are safer.  You’re going to make ten trips in a smart car if you’re going to get enough groceries home to feed your family; I’ll pass on that fuel economy.  While you may use said car as a single passenger for a good deal of the time; there comes many a time when you indeed need the extra space for, say, the hockey team and their attendant massive duffles of equipment.  And, yes, I know.  Your not supposed to have a family because of each child’s massive carbon footprint.  “Enlightened” Americans realize that abortion is so much more environmentally sensitive.  

Big cars are safer, because mass is greater structural rigidity.  You can put all the airbags in you want; add one hundred pounds of structural steel and it’s just safer.

And, given a choice most people prefer them to any tin bucket with pie-pan wheels. Start with Obama; he’s got an SUV for his family.  His new presidential limo is based on a Chevy 2500 chassis.  Also, watch, all of his Hollywood celebrity friends pulling up for the inauguration in their 10 mph limos (after arriving in their private jets).  You’ll see the typical elitist conceit that all of this “sacrifice” and “save the earth claptrap” is for other, lesser people.

Over in Europe, manufactures such as BMW and Mercedes Benz make very substantial cars for rich customer who can afford and otherwise don’t care about $9 per gallon gas.  Somehow, when given a choice, this claptrap of global warming, carbon footprints seem to go down the drain.

Any bankruptcy court will immediately see the value of GM and its American counterparts.  All three of these American manufacturers make light trucks and SUV’s that are very much desired.  Stripped of its money-losing domestic small car operations all three of these companies can make motor vehicles that will attract customers.  Also, there will still be a vast market for spare parts and service.

If Pelosi has any smarts, she’d best dump her green crowd since $4 per gallon gas is going to lose more elections than win them.  She’d also be well served to abolish CAFE standards and drill, drill, drill. 

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Blagojevich and Chu

Posted in energy, obama, politics by Eugene Podrazik on December 12, 2008

Blagojevich and Chu.  An unlikely pair, but the bookends that will define the Obama presidency.  For a while, I was impressed with some of Obama’s appointments.  Though unwilling, I was actually impressed that Obama may actually rule from the standpoint of a center-left coalition; that governing stance being forced by circumstances.  I very much believe, had the Democrats managed to rack up 60 senators, that Obama would have gone wild with his fondest left-left wet dreams.  

But, Obama’s real affiliations, proclivities and associations keep coming back; like Banquo’s ghost.  And, so we have the two sides of the true Obama represented in Blagojevich and Chu.  In the former, we have Obama, the loyal Chicago machine hack.  And, in the latter, we have the utterly disconnected academic; governance by midnight dorm room bull session. 

Blagojevich will define the seamy and corrupt side of Obama.  Obama isn’t clean; just cleaner than the average Chicago politician.  He has been a faithful foot soldier; and has been rewarded for that faithfulness.  He started as a ward heeler; er, community organizer.  His big test was the distribution of tens of millions of graft as a co-chair (the other was Bill Ayers) of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge.  And, spread graft he did with not an iota of academic improvement.  Perfect for Chicago.  Get money to your friends but don’t solve a problem that might risk having dependent constituencies actually having the means to improve themselves.

He then moved to the Illinois State House.  And, courtesy king making from the president of the Illinois State Senate, Emil Jones, Obama was elevated to the US Senate.  All along, Obama has toed the line.  Toed the line in supporting Blagojevich for election in 2002, then again in 2006.  And, when corruption shook the Cook County Board, a word from Obama might have been instrumental in electing a reform candidate to Cook County President.  But, Obama held firm in supporting machine candidate, Todd Stroger.

And, so, like Paul Henreid, Obama is shocked, shocked to discover his Senate seat up for sale to the highest bidder.  But, don’t be shocked, scocked to see scandal after scandal rising up from his past in the fevered swamps of Chicago politics.

Now we get to the other bookend.  Dr. Chu just appointed as the Secretary of Energy.  (And, by the way, just why do we have a department of pumping gas?  Can’t the Department of the Interior handle that?  All you have to do is hand out drilling leases.  There, problem solved and it didn’t even require me to fly to Stockholm to get a gold medal.) He’s got accomplishments, smart, a real multi-cultural Camelot best-and-brightest.  

But.  But, what does he know about our aging nuclear arsenal.  What’s he willing to do to maintain it, upgrade it and test it to see if it remains functional?  What’s he going to do to maintain our disappearing nuclear weapon infrastructure?  Freedom in the world rests on the America’s military and the cornerstone of our military is our nuclear arsenal.  This  is a guy who’s going to lecture us on preferring to spend $1000 on a granite kitchen counter top than on improving our home’s energy efficiency.  This is a guy who protested global warming by  climbing up a tree at the University of California at Berkeley for Vanity Fair Magazine .   Iran can give up it’s nuclear program because ours is going to rust away into complete non-functionality.

While this guy is brilliant in the laboratory, what experience does he have in taking these lab findings off the lab bench and out into the world.  Because, if he’s so set on freeing us from burning hydrocarbons, he going to have to do more than pose in a tree for a magazine.  

Because, making policy and issuing “environmentally friendly” diktats from Washington are going to run head long into the real world of economics and thermodynamics.  Realities that solar panels and wind power will not begin to address energy needs that hydrocarbons and nuclear power now handle so well.  Realities like $4 gasoline really matters to a lot of people who don’t have a six-figure sinecure in the California University system.  Realities that global warming is simply a humbug.  

Realities that we’ve had steam cars and electric cars from the day the horseless carriage came forth.  Railroad locomotives, for the last half century are powered by a diesel engine powering an electrical generator that then powers motors that make the locomotive move–a diesel Prius without batteries that runs on tracks.  There’s nothing new under the sun; it just a lot of engineers just as smart as Chu have already worked through all of these ideas.  Burning a cheap, plentiful commodity, oil, is the best way to get around.  

Back in the cold snows of Iowa, Obama commiserated over the cost of arugula at Whole Foods.  Now, we have a whole cabinet socked full the arugula-at-Whole-Foods crowd.  And, some of them, especially from Chicago, fund their arugula cravings by selling Senate seats.

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The Chicago Tribune Bankruptcy

Posted in economics by Eugene Podrazik on December 10, 2008

I guess, Col. McCormick, founder of the Chicago Tribune, tired of rolling in his grave over the Chicago Tribune’s liberal transgressions decided to take matters in his own hands and really spook up the place.  Is that smoke, emanating from the Tribune tower, courtesy McCormick’s poltergeist?  Or, is that chapter 11?

The lesson over the dropping fortunes of the major organs of the MSM is that printing liberal propaganda is not a winning business model.  The standard business school answer is that advertising income, particularly from the classified ads is the reason for the drop in revenues.  But, that misses the point that advertising is built on your ability to attract an audience, that will in buying your newspaper, will also be audience to those ads.

What newspapers are supposed to be selling is information; that is their draw.  From the one sided reporting this last election, we know that Obama is one step above God and McCain hails from somewhere in the lower circles of hell. Palin’s even lower; I think it’s called Alaska.  And, now these same MSM mavens, having elected Obama admit they really don’t know what he’s about.  An admission from the very heart of the MSM that they didn’t do their job in the first place by finding out and reporting that.  

And, now we’re expected these MSM rags and thereby pay for such incompetence in reportage.  Propaganda is advertising and is supposed to be free; it is expected to be provided for free.  Therefore, these newspapers shouldn’t be expecting to be paid for the moral equivalent of junk mail.  People, however, will pay for information.  So, it time to junk the highfaluting pretenses that come with that journalism degree on the wall and really start to wear out some shoe leather and get that scoop.  Not “context,” not biased interpretation, no interpretations period.  Just the story, just the facts.  I, thank you, will provide the perspective.

I note that one of the components of the bankrupt Tribune Company is WGN.  And, WGN broadcasts Bozo’s Circus.  Maybe the unemployed Tribune staffers could take turns filling in for Bozo. 

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Blagojevich; Absolute Power and Corruption

Posted in corruption, economics, Illinois by Eugene Podrazik on December 10, 2008

I’m realistic enough to realize that nothing for free in politics; especially in Chicago.  But, to blatantly  place a Senate seat on the auction block to the highest bidder for the personal gain of Blagojevich does boggle the mind.  But, maybe not.  

Over the last few decades there has been a iron triangle with the Democratic party, the MSM and the bicoastal elite to cover for almost every transgression of almost any Democratic politician.  That with a constituency that only care about free government checks, abortion and gay marriage.  Frankly, as long as these three things are delivered, you could get caught in bed with immature gerbils and still get re-elected; as a Democrat.  Impeached philanderer, Bill Clinton still collects a government pension and is making stacks of money speechifying on the rubber chicken circuit.  Hill’s about to take over at the State Department. 

And, it almost becomes regarded as a birthright, for these politicians, that the law is for other people.  I suspect that Blagojevich is so marinated in the corruption of Chicago/Illinois politics that it never occurred to him that what he was doing illegal.  So marinated that he could presume to conduct this corruption openly over the phone even though he was already under Federal scrutiny; a federal wiretap didn’t even cross his mind.

This corruption has a real cost.  Illinois, particularly the Chicago area, is a miserably expensive place to live.  Sales taxes edging towards ten percent.  Property taxes, at least compared to Wyoming, aren’t just higher by a percentage but almost by an order of magnitude.

And these taxes and the spending imperatives behind them come from an attitude of complete lack of respect that this money, that these corrupt politicians tax and spend, is not their money.  It is this fundamental attitude that your money becomes the personal property of every tax-and-spend politician. In turn leading to a high tax and high cost environment that seems to, in particular, typify blue-state America.  

Also, because there are always individuals who can command compensation regardless of the tax environment, such compensation demanded will be priced to discount these high tax levels.  This drags up the entire pricing environment and drags prices and cost of living for up for everyone. 

I’m only hoping the moribund Illinois GOP can seize this opportunity to push through true reform.  Simultaneously, demonstrate that corrupt politics as usual has real costs; in high taxes and general cost of living.

Institutionalized Hate

Posted in islam by Eugene Podrazik on December 10, 2008

In the searching for answers over the motivations for the murders in Mumbai, one central reason is the “religion” itself.  And, no amount of moral equivalence, no amount of comparison to the failing of the world’s other major religions will hide the  fact that what Muhammad put forth in the desert in 600 AD remains the primary motivation for the murderous rampage in Mumbai.

Have other religions been involved in violence; or, more correctly have others used a particular religion to foment violence?  The answer is yes.  But, to take Christianity as an example, violence was never at the behest of it founder, Jesus Christ.  Moreover, as this amalgam of Judeo-Christian, Greco-Roman philosophies that we call Western Civilization evolved over the centuries, there came a understanding that rights reside in the individual and not on tribal, majoritarian or religious affiliations.

In particular, in the Anglo-sphere, the English Enlightenment further advanced this concept to its current reflection, in the US Constitution and Bill of Rights as a separation of church and state.  Religion is a private affair, a private affair of individual morality.  It is a reflection of a religious philosophy that believes that man was created with the ability to know God and the free will to accept him.  Moreover, as an ultimate reflection of the supreme importance of individual rights, it is a religious philosophy that states that man is created in the image of God.  It is a religious philosophy that will, at the Last Judgement, have every individual standing before God to be judged for his actions, good and bad, performed over his life.  No Nurembergian collective guilt.

And, it is this concept of the individual that has kept US history relatively and remarkably free of sectarian strife and violence.  And, when such violence occurs, it is indeed the isolated doings of a depraved individual; in a very literal sense.  It is the doings of one depraved man who, in shot up a Jewish day-care center in Southern California back in the 90’s.  And, it is for this reason, that these acts are clearly regarded as completely beyond the pale.  No one had any reason to suspect that this was a conspiracy, or would create a paper or money trail, that would track into the hierarchy of any Christian group or church organization.  It is generally recognized that sectarian violence, Chiristianity in this example, 

And, it is this lack of infrastructure that makes non-Muslim sectarian violence so isolated.  And, it is infrastructure that makes the rampage of Islamic imperialism so different, so commonly different.  Acting alone, even in a relatively liberal regime of American gun laws, it is difficult to acquire anything beyond a semi-automatic rifle.  Moreover, it is difficult to purchase a quantity of such guns without creating suspicion or notice that something is amiss.

In interrogation of the one surviving attacker, Muhammad Ajmal Kasab, 21, we find he was recruited off the street by the Lashkar-i-Taiba when Kasab was a teenaged punk without education or prospects.  And, so you have to ask how a penniless waif gets his hands on a automatic weapon, scads of ammunition, hand grenades and explosives.  How did he then get the training, passports, visas and money to then travel from Pakistan to India?  Where did the planning, intelligence, and coordination come from?  

Then, courtesy Power Line, we find that the children of Somali immigrants are, without their parents knowledge or approval, being recruited to go a-jihading back in Mogadishu.  Of the three that just missing, since November 5th, one is underage; a 17 year old Burhan Hassan.  Or, a Shirwa Ahmed, who traveled alway from Minnesota to be found dead as the perpetrator of a suicide bombing mission that killed 29 people last October.

Again, where did the money come for the plane tickets?  What about passports and visa?  Or, more likely, who faked the passports?

Even if every mosque and imam wasn’t involved in fomenting the ideology or providing cover for the money trail, you still are left with the situation that we have one particular “religion” that is the central organizing ideology that foments this violence.  

Okay, most Muslims are non-violent.  But, a significant plurality buy into the concept of  a religious superiority that will not accept other religions as peers.  You’ve surveys, in England, among Muslims that show significant support for the Sharia supplanting British rule of law.  And, finally, even if you have only one percent of all Muslims supportive of the kind of violence so amply demonstrated in Mumbai, you have to remember that one percent of a billion is still a pool of some ten million persons.  

One finally must conclude that there is a difference since in most other religions, specifically abjuring violence, you would be hard pressed to find a literal handful of individuals will to commit this kind of violence; much less finding even one percent will to do so.  And, one must conclude that this one percent exists because they are supported by an infrastructure that facilitates such violence.  There is a theological imperative for the expansion of Islam.  There is money, being fungible, flowing through all sorts of Islamic organizations; and somehow winding up to facilitate violence.

Where are there such analogous organizations in, say, Christianity?  Where is there such cooperation between governmental entities to facilitate, or at least look the other way, at the planning and perpetration such violence?  Yet, there is a symoiosis and synergy between religious “belief” and an organizational infrastructure that foments this violence to further the aims of Islam.

Many experts on Islam, probably rolled their eyes at President Bush’s “Religion of Peace” remark in the days following 9/11.  I think it was probably a significant strategic mistake, since we’re not fighting a war against an ideology; not terror.  But, at the time I think Bush was giving Islam the benefit of the doubt.  Now, looking back over the last seven years, and seeing tactics that hearken back to Aztec rituals of human sacrifice, it becomes clear that the burden of proof of peaceful intent falls upon the Islamic world. 






Cowboys, India(ns) and the Second Amendment

Posted in islam, terrorism by Eugene Podrazik on December 4, 2008

The iconic cowboy.  Tall, rangy, taciturn.  Given to few words.  An economy of motion; yet when so moved, actions that really count.  And, on his right hip, a firearm; a six-shooter.  An interesting icon since most warrior-heros from other cultures trend to a larger than life heros, some form of royalty, in the form of a samurai or knight.  Yet, for most Americans, the hired hand, the livestock herder, the man of uncertain pedigree serves as our very distinctly American samurai.

The identification with such an individual comes from a distictly American trait of independent thought and action.  The firearm represents a very physical confirmation of that independence.  But, by having the means to have some say in the gravest extreme, that same firearm also leads to a independence of thought and action that does not wait for approval from some authority, usually governmental.

But, because the private ownership of firearms is a rebuke to this utopian zeal. To own firearms is to affirm that freedom and liberty are not gifts from the state. It is to reserve final judgment about whether the state is encroaching on freedom and liberty, to stand ready to defend that freedom with more than mere words, and to stand outside the state’s totalitarian reach, this very icon is very much reviled over large swaths of the earth.  Particularly by the elites who fancy themselves as Plato’s Philosopher Kings.  Philosopher Kings who find it offensive that beings lesser than themselves would have the temerity to make decisions independent of their elevated educational attainments.  Especially cow-excrement encrusted cowboys.  Like John Wayne.  Like Ronald Reagan. Like George Bush.

So, now we come to the terrorist events, courtesy Islamic imperialism, in Mumbai.  It is unbelievable that ten men could so paralyze a city of some 19 million people.  The short answer to the success of this attack can be traced to not enough cowboys.

None of the victims or those who survived and escaped that any credible means to defend themselves. Even if, at each of the locations attacked, there were one or two individuals in possession of a firearm the results could have been so much different.  I’m not impressed that any of these terrorist jackals had any real training to confront determined and armed opposition. You’re going to look like a real pro on the security camera if you’re shooting at helpless, unarmed victims.  

I remember, in the run-up to Desert Storm, about the “battle-hardened” Iraqi army that our soldiers would confront. But, this battle hardening was shooting at poorly trained Iranian teenagers in the swamps bordering Iran and Iraq during the previous ten years of war between Iraq and Iran. And, it turned out that those “battle-hardened” Iraqi soldiers were rapidly rolled up by the US Army; sometimes in a matter of hours.

I suspect the same is here. All it would have taken was one of those policemen at the train station to open fire while the terrorists were re-loading. The mere sound of a bullet whining by those terrorists would have changed the tactical dynamic.

Then, of course, after the firewall of police protection was breached, was that there was no recourse to avert the killing since no one else had a gun. Heavens that the cowboy mentality be allow to pervade the land of Gandhi.  Had such a stunt been tried in a restaurant in Texas, Florida or Wyoming (states where I have or had a concealed carry permit), there’s a high probability that one of the patrons would have been armed. Moreover, said patron would have, by training, the presence of mind to engage these terrorists in a methodical manner, thereby increasing the chances that the murders of Mumbai would have ended very quickly.  A armed, well-motivated armed citizen could have used the cover of the confusion to successfully close in on the bad guys and successfully engage them.  Or, such an armed individual could have successfully, by shooting, created a new dynamic of confusion–this time for the assailants–to actually allow some of the victims to escape. 

The point is good guys shooting back at the very onset would have so altered the tactical dynamic and greatly slowed the success of these terrorists.  And, for the future, created an uncertainty that would serve as a deterrent for future such attacks. 

And, oh my gosh, all those cowboys shooting up the joint!  They would just leave heaps of dead strewn over the floor! On 9/11 airliners could have been punctured by wildly shot bullets that would have caused the plane to crash!   Well, no armed citizens, no cowboys.  And, oops!  Heaps of bodies were strewn over the floors of two hotels, a train station and the Chabad House. And, four airliners did crash; one each in the World Trade Center towers, one in the Pentagon and one in a field in Pennsylvania.  Gun-free zones and cowboy-free zones really work.  Kumbayah!

Would such a “cowboy” mentality have caused casualties among the innocent?  Maybe.  But, statistically, armed citizens only mistake an innocent person for a criminal twopercent of the time. The error rate for police is eleven percent.  Armed citizens have a very good track record in responsible use of lethal force. You have a total mal-deployment of forces.  You can’t have the government everywhere guarding every mall, train station and hotel.  You’re better off taking governmental forces, going to the source and attacking the bad guys at the source.  Trust your citizens, armed citizens, to be capable of guarding the home front. 

But, instead we are going to be inundated with sappy stories about “moral” victories of survivors prevailing, by pure luck, in the murderous rampages of Mumbai.  The real moral is that the terrorist won and won big.  Just like, for all of his brave efforts, Schlindler still didn’t make a real dent in the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis.   For all of its critical acclaim, the movie Schlindler’s List still tiptoes around that pink elephant standing in the living room.

The only moral victory I’m really interested is the kind provided by Easy Company in Band of Brothers.  The good guys, armed to the teeth, totally blow away the bad guys.  And, that’s what should be happening against Islamic imperialism; in Mumbai and everywhere.

Finally, because of a fundamental distrust governments have towards individual citizens acting in a responsible manner with lethal force, the thwarting of such murders right at the “retail” level will have far bigger ramifications. Bigger ramifications since failure to stop this murderous rampage right at it inception allow it to grow to a point that we now have two nuclear powers, India and Pakistan, at odds again.  Maybe even to the point of a shooting war.

Or, for the lack of a single armed passenger on any one of four flights on September 11, 2001, we saw three thousand Americans killed in the World Trade Center and at the Pentagon.  And, four hijackings indeed rose from the level of a law enforcement problem to that of an act of war.  An interesting “what-if.”  What would the political dynamic be now, what would the last eight years look like, if armed citizens on four civilian airliners killed the 18 “holy” warriors on 9/11.