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Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Goldberg File

The good news is that the Goldberg File is back after a looooonnnnggggg hiatus. The bad news (for may work for you) is that it is in an email newsletter format. Go to this link to sign up. The GF has always been my favorite read on NRO.

Monday, December 21, 2009

It would have been nice if the conference in Copenhagen was actually held here in DC, and everyone attending was snowed in. Besides the irony, maybe someone could tell them that the way to combat elevated CO2 levels is to plant more trees.

Friday, December 18, 2009
And Another Thing.....

I just learned that the Dems must ram through the health care bill now, before they take up Cap & Tax, and especially giving amnesty to all the illegal aliens. Especially on the latter.

Under every health care bill scenario, the numbers currently put forth for the cost of the health care bill (any version) do not account for the illegal aliens. If they did, the amounts would be more crushing, more staggering than they currently are.

However, if Obama gets health care signed, and then gets his amnesty (oops…Immigration Reform) completed……

Who is grateful for Ben Nelson? For the two ladies from Maine not swaying? This Guy.

GOP/Tea Party

I used to be for GOP victory. I still am, but I used to be upset at Conservatives who didn’t support a certain GOP candidate (ensuring the Dems won the election). I was especially unthrilled (is that a real word?) when Conservatives would pat themselves on the back taking solace and outward pride in their convictions, while the Dems kept winning the elections. Having a lame Republican was better than a good Democrat – or so I thought, until Zell Miller came along.

Now as the years go by – yep…I’m old – I find myself stuck when thinking about the Tea Party gang forming their own party. I admire their stance and their momentum, but obviously want them to unite with the GOP. How do we get back to the ‘big tent’ party?

I’m hoping the possible Tea Party party doesn’t negatively impact the GOP’s chances in 2010 or 2012, because if it does, there will be Dems elected when they shouldn’t be, and a lot of Conservatives self congratulating themselves. It will be déjà-vous all over again. You knew I was going to say that, right?

Anyway, the GOP needs to attract and/or align with the Tea Party party, and needs to nominate Conservative candidates. And upon GOP victory, the Tea Party party can throw a party (HAHAHAHAHA. Sorry. Sometimes I crack myself up.)


Anonymous – where are you?

Friday, December 11, 2009

It's been a while, so I thought I'd put some random things:

1. Anonymous – where have you been? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the president’s ‘accomplishments’ to date.

2. Health Care bill – where do I begin? I hope it goes down in flames. All people want is for it to be more affordable, and more efficient. A one-page bill can accomplish these goals. All that is needed is to take away the state boundaries for health care policies, and tort reform. (There’s obviously other excellent ideas with simple approaches, but I think these two will more than get the ball rolling towards those two goals).

3. Nobel Peace Prize – Parts of Obama’s speech – where he was realistic about the realities of war, using force, etc – were excellent. Looks like the briefings with his military commanders gave him some sensible perspective.

4. Tiger – I’m hoping all the news is out, and no more shoes will drop.

5. Goldberg File - is happily coming back to NRO. Details to follow....but Jonah made the announcement. If you need a taste of what once was, here's a recent posting in The Corner.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Smartest. President. Ever.

Take away the teleprompter and you'd almost think that Obama was an inexperienced amateur who was ideologically out of step with the American people.

Exhibit A: Uses socialist language to justify his economic program to Joe the Plumber.

Exhibit B: Muffs a prearranged question on the Gates affair by attacking cops and saying they acted "stupidly."

Exhibit C: In an argument in support of the creation of a government run health care system, says that the government run mail is rife with problems and pales in comparison to its private competitors. Wow.

UPDATE: In fairness, I should clarify that by "smart," I mean politically smart. He isn't dumb, he's just way overrated when it comes to political savvy. His real problem is that it is really, really hard to pretend to be someone you are not. He's a lefty. Nothing wrong with that, but all of these "gaffes" are instances where Obama said what he really thinks. And it turns out that what he really thinks is very, very far removed from the views of the American people.

The president is quite smart and he can give a good speech. After this performance -- and the one the other night where he suggested his opponents should just shut up and get out of the way -- they will put him back on the teleprompter for a while.

Also, for the record, though I think the president is intelligent, I am not among those who think he is a genius. He is, after all, a law professor who published zero (0) peer-reviewed journal articles and law review articles. That's a pretty stunning non-accomplishment for a Harvard-law grad who headed up the law review and taught at the University of Chicago. The fact is, a really brilliant lawyer would have something important to say about the law and would be participating (at some level, at least) in the debates and discussions on those important issues that are taking place in law reviews and scholarly journals.

Still, he graduated from Harvard law and passed the bar, so he's no dummy. I hope that clarifies things.

Game Over.

Given that Chuck Norris has announced his opposition to the Democrat health proposal, I think it is safe to say that the debate is over and we can all go home.

Chuck 1, Commies 0.

The Summer of Dems' Discontent

On May 18, Time magazine ran a cover story declaring the Republican party an "endangered species." Less than three months have passed and, as the reaction to the health care town halls demonstrates, congressional Democrats are in disarray.

How did this happen?

My diagnosis:

1) Taxes - Taxes are the bread and butter of Republican politics. In recent years, the salience of this issue for the electorate has waned due to the passage of the Bush tax cuts (which reduced individual tax rates) and the strength of the economy through late 2008, which reduced individuals' relative tax burden by increasing incomes faster than taxes (which had gone down). Even without tax increases, Americans are feeling the pinch of taxes today far more than they were a year or two ago because their incomes are no longer growing as quickly (or they have lost their jobs or are making less money). Add to that the fact that taxpayers realize that they will have to pay for the trillions in new spending that the new administration has pushed through, and it should be no surprise that the GOP has additional traction on the tax issue.

2) Rhetoric is no replacement for Reality - The Democrats are a liberal party that has painted itself as moderate. It is very, very hard to pretend to be something you are not and get away with it for a long period of time.

For the last several years (at least) the Democrats have been able to have it both ways on spending -- criticizing Bush for not spending enough on X, Y and Z and criticizing him for spending too much in general. The Democrats have been able to use rhetoric to mask their party's true position - balancing out their high-spending image with words and political attacks that paint them as fiscally conservative. Now that they control all the levers of government, the fiscal conservative mask has fallen off and the national debt is spiraling out of control to the point where total financial ruin, or runaway inflation, or both, are well within the realm of possibility. Likewise, the same gamesmanship in the foreign policy area has allowed Democrats to be both to the left and the right of Republicans. Policy wise, the Democrats have been far to the left. Rhetorically, however, the Democrats have been able to use words to seem more hawkish than they actually are -- the threat to invade Pakistan, for instance, or the suggestion that it was just super easy to find Bin Laden if only Bush had his priorities straight. The same desire for short term political gain - as opposed to good policy or national interest - led Obama and Democrats to attack Bush for wireless surveillance, GITMO, interrogation techniques (under Obama, for instance, torture is forbidden unless we really really need to do it) and a host of other issues. Now that they have responsibility for America's security, the Democrats have had to deal with the reality of hard choices and least-worse options. All of this has hurt Democrats because they (a) have diminished their credibility and (b) they are no longer being judged on their rhetoric but on their actual policies.

3) Beating something with nothing -- The Democrats' beat the Republicans by being the Anti-Bush party. The result is that the party has a far more limited mandate. Americans were voting retrospectively (no on Bush) rather than prospectively (yes on Democratic policies). The Democrats helped this along by deliberately obscuring their agenda (note Obama's pledge of no new taxes on 95% of Americans, his claim that his policies would have no net impact on federal spending, etc...). While Americans were sick of the Republicans - and for good reason - they do not support new energy taxes, a government takeover of health care, the takeover of the auto industry, trillion dollar government bailouts or the adoption of a law enforcement approach to terrorism.

4) No easy enemy. With Bush gone, Democrats have flailed around looking for a new enemy to rally the troops. Rush Limbaugh, Talk Radio, Dick Cheney, Sarah Palin, Insurance Companies, the tea party people, "the Mob" of old people yelling at their congressmen, etc.... Who is it going to be tomorrow? It's not that demonization doesn't work, it's just that it is far, far easier to use this tactic to block change than to affect it. Also, Obama faces a huge dilemma -- if the administration leads the charge demonizing his enemies (as he did with Rush), he diminishes a lot of the moral authority that comes from being "everyone's president" who is standing above the fray. By outsourcing it to members of Congress, he allows Pelosi, Reid, Frank and Hoyer to be the public face of the Democratic party. That's working out really well for Republicans.

5) Arrogance and ignorance. Obama seems to have very little appreciation for the fact that members of his party have their own constituencies and very little sense that the American political process is much more amenable to incremental change than sweeping change. Through a series of small steps, the left has created a huge national government welfare state in the US. Rather than building on that -- substantially, given the number of seats they control - Obama feels the need to make his mark and do something big and historical. Thus, rather than learning from the hard lessons of Clinton's first term, he's repeating the mistakes -- making House members take a senseless vote on energy taxes, for instance. Pushing single payer health care as opposed to an incremental expansion of coverage for the uninsured. My sense is that Obama thinks his oratorical powers are magical and we can't resist his eloquent arguments and charm. It is a recipe for disaster in 2010 that will hobble the remainder of his presidency.

Moreover, Obama will find it much harder to move to the center than did Bill Clinton because (a) his party is much more ideologically liberal (b) he has to worry about Hillary running a primary against him (c) Clinton was a bona-fide conservative dem from a southern state and Obama is a very liberal, black senator from Chicago.

Obama used rhetoric to define himself as moderate and fiscally conservative. His positions on a host of issues -- from guns, to abortion, to taxes and spending, health care, and energy (primarily coal) will make it next to impossible for Obama to portray himself that way again. Once the mask of conservatism is gone for Obama, it won't be easy to replace.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009
Simply Awesome

Check out this lively debate between a member of the MSM and a car dealer who is giving out AK-47s with the purchase of every vehicle. The car dealer doesn't give an inch in this debate and it is laugh out loud funny to watch -- it's pretty clear that the newsreader doesn't run into this sort of argument very much at Manhattan cocktail parties.

Hat tip: Jonah.

Monday, August 03, 2009
Random Thoughts

President John F. Kennedy, Jr.
* John Kennedy Jr. died ten years ago last month. Had he not been killed in the plane crash, I think it is likely that Kennedy, not Hillary, would have replaced Moynihan in the Senate. Kennedy had already told friends that he was going to wrap up his work on the crappy hollywood-politics magazine George by the end of the 1999. Hillary's name wasn't floated until early 2000.

If Kennedy had lived -- it would have been Kennedy, not Obama, who ran as the change/youth candidate in 2008. By then, he would have won two senate races (2000 and 2006) and had 8 years in the senate behind him. Imagine if he had survived the plane crash. The parallels to the PT 109 incident would have been endlessly repeated. Of course, if he left the scene of the accident without reporting it and left his passengers to die, he would have been compared to uncle Ted, but that scenario is very unlikely.

Interesting how one small event influences everything else. Would Kennedy have won the election in 2008? Would the GOP have nominated someone different, as Kennedy would have been the clear front-runner from the beginning? What would Hillary have done since 2000?

Future Time Magazine Cover Story: Were We Ready for a Black President?
* Small prediction: as the Obama administration continues to come off the rails, I expect the new message will rapidly become that America "just wasn't ready for a black president." The media and the democrats (but I repeat myself) will increasingly find racism behind every criticism of the president.

On a similar topic, look for far-left groups to plant agent provocateurs into the audience during the upcoming protests on health care. Someone will try to incite violence, shout racial remarks, or something of that nature. It's out of the ol' play book for the radical left - discredit your opponents by infiltrating them and standing next to reporters when you make your remarks. You saw it during the McCain rallies, you'll see it again here. The key is for people to use their cell phone cameras and catch them in the act. Tough to do, but not impossible in this age of technology.

* What to make of the white house's reiteration of their no tax increase on people making $250k and below? The administration is also saying that we will not add to the deficit, and that we will pass a massive new entitlement program on top of the stimulus. Given that revenues are dropping like a stone, does this mean that the Democrats will be proposing huge spending cuts? How does this all add up?

* The cash for clunkers program is about the most economically illiterate pieces of legislation that I have ever seen. Essentially, the government takes money from person A (future taxpayer) and gives it to person B (car-buyer). In exchange, dealers destroy tens of thousands of working vehicles. Tens of thousands of working vehicles ain't worth nothing. They have value. Yet we are destroying them. So the true cost of the program is the cost to the taxpayer, and the lost value of the cars. Beyond that, there are other costs as well - - the costs of administering the program, for instance, and the hidden administrative costs borne by the dealers.

* The key group to watch in 2010 election is upper income female voters. They abandoned the Democrats in 1994 like rats from a sinking ship. The issues, interestingly, were pretty much the same: taxes, national health care, energy taxes, stimulus.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Staying Consistent

As a conservative, I think it is important for the Republican party to put principles ahead of politics. Admittedly, holding our party leaders to high standards will sometimes put us at a disadvantage.

Case in point: a few years back, we had a county legislator who was arrested for DWI. The majority leader of our caucus -- one of the most honorable men I've ever had the privilege to work with -- went on television that night and publicly said he should resign. Around the same time, a democratic state legislator who headed up the state committee on alcohol and drugs was also arrested for DWI. The Democrats circled the wagons and her political career continued. Likewise, compare and contrast the two party's reaction to Bob Livingston and Bill Clinton's infidelities (and Clinton's numerous felonies committed as part of the cover-up).

Nonetheless, principles first, party second.

My point: South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford needs to resign. Sanford failed to fulfill his constitutional duty when he left the state (heck, he left the country!) without taking the proper steps to ensure that the executive responsibilities could be discharged effectively in his absence. That's simply unacceptable.

I should also mention that I think it is a mistake to go all crazy bananas at David Letterman's bad joke. Yes, Letterman displayed incredibly poor taste. Yes, the children of politicians should be off-limits, as they don't volunteer for the limelight. Yes, this gets complicated because politicians use their children as props in all kinds of ways. Still, the kids have no choice -- so making a national joke out of them is the wrong thing to do. This goes for Obama's kids, Chelsea, Biden's kids, as well as Palin's kids.

That said, I don't think the Republicans should try to emulate the "I'm a victim, respond to my outrage" playbook of the left. It's tiresome and most every time this game is played, most of the outrage is phony, and perpetuated not out of some sense of principle, but out of some desire for political gain. I think Palin was right to not accept Letterman's phony, sarcastic apology the first time, but I think that those on the right who were working to get Letterman fired and holding protests outside should find better things to focus on -- like the Democrats plan to tax us to death with cap and trade and slowly strangle our health care system to death.


Apparently, Argentina is a great place to go to relax, no matter your party affiliation! First Sanford, now Bill Clinton! Gotta love bipartisanship.

Get those passports prepared, boys. Looks like the next SCG road trip is to Argentina!

Hat Tip, Ace.

Thursday, June 11, 2009
The Return of Stagflation...

Mere Rhetoric: The Return Of Stagflation

Wednesday, June 10, 2009
We are Past Being in Trouble

This is quite unfunny in an economic analysis sort of way. As some of you know, I was one of the more optimistic guys on the long-term economy, while most of you were not. You were right, and I was wrong. This is a very sobering read from the angle of a liberal economist and a conservative congressman.

They both agree that taxes are increasing across the board (no news there...) but also state that there are zero chances that a VAT won't be imposed on all Americans. Just a matter of when.

"Normally Paul Krugman, the liberal pundit and Nobel laureate in economics, and Paul Ryan, a conservative Republican congressman from Wisconsin, share little in common except their first names and a scorching passion for views they champion from opposite political poles. So when the two combatants agree on a fundamental threat to the U.S. economy, Americans should heed this alarm as the real thing. What's worrying both Krugman and Ryan is the rapid increase in the federal debt - not so much the stimulus-driven rise to mountainous levels in the next few years, but the huge structural deficits that, under all projections, keep building the burden far into the future to unsustainable, ruinous heights."

Read it here. Life is changing before out eyes.

Monday, June 08, 2009
Vodkapundit: The Grand Unification Theory of Sucking

This is the best thing I've read in a long time. It's funny, in a "we're screwed" kinda way.

In a nutshell, the Democrats spend-o-rama is a disaster. The kicker:

Add up all the headlines and here’s what you have: The certainty that the government will screw up the markets, and uncertainty as to what new rules the markets will work under. Everyone is too scared to move, and for good reason. So there will be no new jobs, there will be no growth.

Until Team Obama gets its collective head out of our asses, all we have to look forward to is bumbling incompetence and pointless arguments. Which might be entertaining if they didn’t result in taxes, stagflation, and the Francification of a once-great nation.

As they say, read the entire thing.

Friday, June 05, 2009
The Failure of Spendulus

The May unemployment numbers are out and the good folks at Innocent Bystanders have overlain actual unemployment numbers with team Obama's worst case scenario chart. Obama used this chart to sell the stimulus, arguing that if we don't spend trillions of dollars we don't have right away, unemployment would be far higher. Well, the Democratic Congress passed the stimulus and Obama signed it, and unemployment is now higher than the administration estimated it would be without the stimulus.

The indispensable Robert Stacy McCain at The Other McCain, has a great article from December 2008 that explains why ("It Won't Work". In a nutshell, no amount of public relations will overturn the fundamental laws of economics:

No amount of presidential persuasion, nor any conceivable quantity of federal spending, can repeal the basic economic law of supply and demand. Thus, if Congress should enact this idiotic "stimulus" -- a neo-Keynesian pump-priming venture absurdly overbalanced to the demand side of the equation -- nothing is more predictable than its failure to spur real recovery. Indeed, the Pelosi plan is so close to being the exact opposite of what our economy needs at this juncture, many informed observers do not hesitate to say that it will actually delay recovery and perhaps make the recession far worse than it already is.

Here is my take: this giant Keynesian boondogle isn't working for the simple reason that Keynesian spending can only fool people some of the time. The basic idea of Keynes was that recessions are crises of confidence. Basically, people become pessimistic about the future of the economy and start holding onto their money. Fewer goods are sold, leading to layoffs, which leads to less spending by laid off employees. Employers who were planning on expanding start looking for ways to cut costs. Under Keynesian economics, the government primes the pump to push federal money into the economy through a combination of fiscal policy (increasing the money supply) and increased government spending (deficits) to create government subsidized jobs.

Henry Hazlitt explained why all this was a farce in his classic Economics in One Lesson, which can be read in its entirety here. It's a quick and enjoyable read and a very clarifying piece of writing.

For Hazlitt, the fundamental lesson of economics is that you cannot look just at the short term and immediate impacts of policy. Rather, you have to consider the impact of your policies on other groups not immediately targeted by the Keynesian stimulus, as well as future generations.

The basic point is that any spending the government does today has to come from somewhere (As Friedman says, "there is no such thing as a free lunch.") When the government says "hey, we just created 100 construction jobs locally, hooray for us!", Hazlitt asks -- where did the money come from? If it came from taxpayers, then you have to not only consider the jobs created by the taxes, but the jobs destroyed by the taxes as well. The "cost" of 100 construction jobs paid for by the government may be several thousand jobs across the entire economy.

Well, the Keyensian says, we can just borrow it. Of course, all that does is put off the day of reckoning. Do you have credit cards? I sure do. My spending on credit cards happened many years ago -- and yet, I have to pay off the cards with interest. The result is that I spend less today in order to pay debts from yesterday. The government has to do the same thing -- the result, will be fewer jobs in the future, to be paid for either through increased taxes or inflation, which is a hidden tax that reduces the value of your money.

Unfortunately, we've been borrowing for thirty years, so the future is now.

Obama's plan won't work for the same reason that liberal economics under Johnson, Nixon ("we are all Keynesians now"), Ford and Carter did not work. The markets understand that the new spending isn't "real" -- and will in fact have to be paid for by them through increased taxes or inflation. The result, pouring more money into the economy will lead to inflation, and those with money will continue to be risk averse with their investments. Bottom line: few people will invest money in a business in this climate, realizing (a) the economy is screwed and (b) I'm going to be taxed to the hilt on any profits I make anyway, or lose them with inflation. Capital isn't going under the mattress, but it is going into less risky investments that will create far fewer jobs. In short, it's a recipe for stagflation.

For those of you old enough to remember the 1970s, I have one thing to say:

Tuesday, June 02, 2009
What Do You Mean "I," Kemosabe?

I think the GM speech that the president gave today was very disappointing, not just on a policy level (it's crap) but rhetorically as well.

When you listen to the speech on the radio (as I did) the speech wasn't about GM. It was about him.

Of course, politicians have big egos and they like to take credit for things. The President, in particular, has to demonstrate that he is making decisions. Still, I think this speech went overboard with the first-person pronouns. Political speeches should be about us and we and our, not about "me" and "I." It is also notable that that the speech shifts dramatically toward "we" when diverting blame to the previous administration.

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everybody. Just over two months ago, I spoke with you in this same spot about the challenges facing our auto industry, and I laid out what needed to be done to save two of America's most storied automakers -- General Motors and Chrysler. These companies were facing a crisis decades in the making, and having relied on loans from the previous administration, were asking for more.

From the beginning, I made it clear that I would not put any more tax dollars on the line if it meant perpetuating the bad business decisions that had led these companies to seek help in the first place. I refused to let these companies become permanent wards of the state, kept afloat on an endless supply of taxpayer money. In other words, I refused to kick the can down the road.

But I also recognized the importance of a viable auto industry to the well-being of families and communities across our industrial Midwest and across the United States. In the midst of a deep recession and financial crisis, the collapse of these companies would have been devastating for countless Americans, and done enormous damage to our economy -- beyond the auto industry. It was also clear that if GM and Chrysler remade and retooled themselves for the 21st century, it would be good for American workers, good for American manufacturing, and good for America's economy.

I decided, then, that if GM and Chrysler and their stakeholders were willing to sacrifice for their companies' survival and success; if they were willing to take the difficult, but necessary steps to restructure, and make themselves stronger, leaner, and more competitive, then the United States government would stand behind them.

The original restructuring plans submitted by GM and Chrysler earlier this year did not call for the sweeping changes these companies needed to survive -- and I couldn't in good conscience proceed on that basis. So we gave them a chance to develop a stronger plan that would put them on a path toward long-term viability. The 60 days GM had to submit its revised plans have now elapsed, and I want to say a few words about where we are and what steps will be taken going forward. But before I do, I want to give you an update on where things stand with Chrysler.

When my administration took office and began going over Chrysler's books, the future of this great American car company was uncertain. In fact, it was not clear whether it had any future at all. But after consulting with my Auto Task Force, industry experts, and financial advisors, and after asking many tough questions, I became convinced that if Chrysler were willing to undergo a restructuring, and if it were able to form a partnership with a viable global car company, then Chrysler could get a new lease on life.

Well, that more promising scenario has now come to pass. Today, after taking a number of painful steps, and moving through a quick, efficient, and fair bankruptcy process, a new, stronger Chrysler is poised to complete its alliance with Fiat. Just 31 days after Chrysler's Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, a court has approved the Chrysler-Fiat alliance, paving the way for a new Chrysler to emerge from bankruptcy in the next few days.

What happens next is in the hands of their executives, managers, and workers -- as it is for any private company. But what the completion of this alliance means is that tens of thousands of jobs that would have been lost if Chrysler had liquidated will now be saved, and that consumers have no reason at all to worry about a restructuring -- even one as painful as what Chrysler underwent.

And keep in mind -- many experts said that a quick, surgical bankruptcy was impossible. They were wrong. Others predicted that Chrysler's decision to enter bankruptcy would lead to an immediate collapse in consumer confidence that would send car sales over a cliff. They were wrong, as well. In fact, Chrysler sold more cars in May than it did in April, in part because consumers were comforted by our extraordinary commitment to stand behind a quick bankruptcy process. All in all, it's a dramatic -- an outcome dramatically better than what appeared likely when this process began.

Now the situation we found at General Motors was very different from what we found at Chrysler -- largely because GM is a different kind of company. It is much larger and much more complex, with operations all over the globe. In this context, GM's management team -- including its new CEO, Fritz Henderson, its interim chairman, Kent Kresa, and all of their colleagues -- have worked -- has worked tirelessly to produce a plan that meets the strict standards I laid out at the beginning: to streamline GM's brands, clean up GM's balance sheet, and make it possible for GM to compete and succeed.

Working with my Auto Task Force, GM and its stakeholders have produced a viable, achievable plan that will give this iconic American company a chance to rise again. It's a plan tailored to the realities of today's auto market; a plan that positions GM to move toward profitability, even if it takes longer than expected for our economy to fully recover; and it's a plan that builds on GM's recent progress in making better cars. As this plan takes effect, GM will start building a larger share of its cars here at home, including fuel-efficient cars. In fact, if all goes according to plan, the share of GM cars sold in the United States that are made here will actually grow for the first time in three decades.

Now, any time a business as large as General Motors goes through a restructuring, it is extremely difficult to find common ground among all of the company's stakeholders. But while the deal that has been worked out is tough, it is also fair.

It will require the United Auto Workers to make further cuts in compensation and retiree health care benefits -- painful sacrifices on top of all that they have already done.

It will require GM shareholders to give up the remaining value of their shares -- just as they would have had to do in any private restructuring of this kind.

And it will also provide unsecured bondholders with an equitable outcome -- an outcome that will let them recover more than the current value of their claims, and substantially more than they would have recovered if the government had not intervened and GM had liquidated. That's why a majority of GM's bondholders already support this deal.

Throughout this process, I wanted to ensure that none of GM's stakeholders receives special treatment because of our government's involvement. That's why I instructed my Auto Task Force to treat all of GM's stakeholders fairly and to ensure that this restructuring was carried out in a way that was consistent with past precedent -- and it was.

What we have, then, is a credible plan that is full of promise. But GM can't put this plan into effect on its own. Executing this plan will require a substantial amount of money that only a government can provide. Considering GM's extensive operations within their borders, the governments of Canada and Ontario have agreed to do their part with an investment in GM's future, and I want to thank them for doing so. I also want to thank the government of Germany for working diligently to reach a Memorandum of Understanding on the sale of a major stake in GM's European Division and for providing interim funding that will make it possible for that transaction to be finalized.

But of course GM is an American company with tens of thousands of employees in this country, and responsibility for its future ultimately rests with us. That's why our government will be making a significant additional investment of about $30 billion in GM -- an investment that will entitle American taxpayers to ownership of about 60 percent of the new GM.

Now, let me talk about this. I recognize that this may give some Americans pause. So let me explain as clearly as possible why we are making this investment. We inherited a financial crisis unlike any that we've seen in our time. This crisis crippled private capital markets and forced us to take steps in our financial system -- and with our auto companies -- that we would not have otherwise even considered. These steps have put our government in the unwelcome position of owning large stakes in private companies for the simple and compelling reason that their survival and the success of our overall economy depend on it.

Understand we're making these investments not because I want to spend the American people's tax dollars, but because I want to protect them. Instead of taking so much stock in GM, we could have simply offered the company more loans. But for years, GM has been buried under an unsustainable mountain of debt. And piling an irresponsibly large debt on top of the new GM would mean simply repeating the mistakes of the past. So we are acting as reluctant shareholders -- because that is the only way to help GM succeed.

What we are not doing -- what I have no interest in doing -- is running GM. GM will be run by a private board of directors and management team with a track record in American manufacturing that reflects a commitment to innovation and quality. They -- and not the government -- will call the shots and make the decisions about how to turn this company around. The federal government will refrain from exercising its rights as a shareholder in all but the most fundamental corporate decisions. When a difficult decision has to be made on matters like where to open a new plant or what type of new car to make, the new GM, not the United States government, will make that decision.

In short, our goal is to get GM back on its feet, take a hands-off approach, and get out quickly.

Exiting a restructuring of this scale, however, requires not only new investment. It also requires giving GM a chance to start anew by clearing away the massive past debts that are weighing the company down. And that's why earlier today, GM did what Chrysler has successfully done and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy with the support of its key stakeholders and the United States government.

In all likelihood, this process will take more time for GM than it did for Chrysler because GM is a bigger, more complex company. But Chrysler's extraordinary success reaffirms my confidence that GM will emerge from its bankruptcy process quickly, and as a stronger and more competitive company. And I want to remind everyone that if you are considering buying a GM car during this period of restructuring, your warrantees will be safe and government-backed.

So I'm confident that the steps I'm announcing today will mark the end of an old GM, and the beginning of a new GM; a new GM that can produce the high-quality, safe, and fuel-efficient cars of tomorrow; that can lead America towards an energy independent future; and that is once more a symbol of America's success.

But I want to be honest with you. Building a leaner GM will come at a cost. It will take a painful toll on many Americans who have relied on General Motors throughout the generations. So I want to say a word directly to all the men and women watching today, wondering what all of this will mean as far as their own lives are concerned.

I know you've already seen more than your fair share of hard times. We saw 400,000 jobs lost in the auto industry in the year before this restructuring even began. I will not pretend the hard times are over. Difficult days lie ahead. More jobs will be lost. More plants will close. More dealerships will shut their doors, and so will many parts suppliers.

But I want you to know that what you're doing is making a sacrifice for the next generation -- a sacrifice you may not have chose to make, but a sacrifice you were nevertheless called to make so that your children and all of our children can grow up in an America that still makes things; that still builds cars; that still strives for a better future.

As our autoworkers and auto communities pass through these difficult times, we, as a nation, must do our part. That's why, in March, I appointed Ed Montgomery Director of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers. That's why two weeks ago Ed announced a green jobs training program for autoworkers in hard-hit communities. And that's why last week Ed and Karen Mills, my Small Business Administration chief, traveled to Indiana to announce a new plan to provide loans to auto, RV, and boat dealers to help finance floor plans. That's why we are accelerating the purchase of a federal fleet of cars to jumpstart demand and give the industry a boost at a time when it needs one. And that's why I'm calling on Congress to pass fleet modernization legislation that can provide a credit to consumers who turn in old cars and purchase cleaner, more fuel-efficient cars. These are important steps on the long road to overcoming a problem that didn't happen overnight and will not be solved overnight.

I recognize that today's news carries a particular importance because it's not just any company we're talking about -- it's GM. It's a company that's not only been a source of income, but a source of pride for generations of autoworkers and generations of Americans. But while the GM of the future will be different from the GM of the past, I am absolutely confident that if well managed, a new GM will emerge that can provide a new generation of Americans with a chance to live out their dreams, that can out-compete automakers around the world, and that can once again be an integral part of America's economic future. And when that happens, we can truly say that what is good for General Motors and all who work there is good for the United States of America.

Thank you, everybody.

Perhaps the White House thinks it is vital to portray Obama as in charge and, for this reason, the endless repetition of "I," "We," and "Me" is intentional. Regardless of which politician is doing it, Republican or Democrat, the overuse of first person pronouns really grates on me. As a general rule, I think that speechwriters should drop the unnecessary use of first person pronouns (why say my auto task force, for example? Is there another one?).

Sunday, May 31, 2009

"Specialists, and underpaid generalists will hang it up years ahead of their planned exit from medicine in just about any system that the Obama administration is likely to devise. They’ll scarcely need to ration care: there just won’t be anyone around to deliver it. Government will kill the golden goose, and then blame it upon everyone and anyone else. As usual.”

Who will government blame for the next crisis it creates? Greedy doctors? Pharmaceutical companies? Insurers? I guess all of the above.

The problem with health care is that there is no real market incentive. The person receiving the service is, in almost all cases, completely unaware of the true cost of the service they receive.

This is true even (perhaps especially) for those with good insurance. I know this from handling my grandmother's bills while she was ill. We pay her co-pay, sure, but there is very little incentive to go through the trouble of questioning a bill, shopping for a better deal, or even checking to make sure you weren't charged for a service you didn't receive. We have a great health care system, but the problems we have are due to not enough free market incentives, not too many of them.

As for those without insurance, the idea that they are left out in the cold is ridiculous. The poor and elderly in this country receive free medical care already through medicaid and medicare. You can't do much better than free.

If you are not poor, the key question is who should pay for your health insurance? With national health care, the assumption seems to be that the answer to that question is: "someone else."

The problem with this logic, however, is that the non-poor are, well, non-poor. They necessarily will be among the group of people who get stuck with the bill. The poor may also end up paying for this too, in the form of a value added tax (VAT) or some sort of national-sales tax that hits everyone.

I understand that health care isn't cheap. Middle class families have to sacrifice quite a bit for health care -- by doing without other things, working extra jobs, or taking a job that is not ideal because it comes with health care, for instance. What I don't understand is the notion that other people should sacrifice in order to pay for your family's health care. It seems to me that providing for our own families should be first and foremost, our own responsibility.

In the case of the poor, who lack options or ability to take care of themselves, the government needs to step in -- though I do think that even the poor should contribute something, if only to make the point that the service isn't free and to provide some sort of market incentive to hold cost down.

Hat tip for this story, Instapundit.

Saturday, May 30, 2009
I hate to beat a dead horse, but this Hot Air story about conservatism on the upswing in the Midwest is exactly what I am talking about.

Ostermeier’s data suggests that the way forward for Republicans isn’t to find people who will meekly acquiesce to Obama’s fiscal policies, but to find candidates willing and able to express and defend conservative principles. If every action produces an equal and opposite reaction, Obama’s radical restructuring of the American economy gives conservatives a great opportunity to take seats in Congress at the midterms.

No question, the Democrats were a great opposition party. Maybe the best ever. They were able to criticize Republicans from both the left and the right (does that make the GOP centrist?). The Republicans were stingy meanies, and they were letting the deficit get out of control. The Republicans were warmongers, and they were weak because they didn't want to invade Pakistan like Obama would. If only we tossed out the Republicans, we would eat rainbows and shit ice cream; the sky would rain gumdrops and Israelis would be at peace with Palestinians, the lion would lay down with the lamb and dogs and cats would live together.

Governing has proven much, much more difficult. Now, it turns out that GITMO is an "ideal" prison and our Obama loving allies in Europe are not all that keen on taking terrorists into their country. Enhanced interrogation is horrible torture that we will not ever do, but we reserve the right to use it if it's really, really important. Electronic surveillance is ok too. Spending trillions of taxpayer dollars isn't really the road to prosperity. Taking over the car companies and handing them over to the politicians and the unions isn't really working out.

Luckily, Obama is a regular guy who goes out on burger runs with his good buddy, Joe Biden. Hey, wasn't Biden Obama's first real important decision after winning the nomination? Good thing he didn't nominate an intellectual lightweight for Vice President like John McCain did -- what would we have done then?

CORRECTION: Obama's defense secretary didn't describe GITMO as "ideal." Rather, he called it the "finest prison in the world." I regret the error.

Friday, May 29, 2009
The Man in the Arena

Teddy Roosevelt's good advice notwithstanding, it isn't enough to be "in the arena." To many Beltway Republican "leaders," being part of the political process (and getting rich in the process) is an end in and of itself.

As Jonah Goldberg has noted, the Republican party is not a party of identity -- it is a party of ideas. When the ideas and principles are tossed aside, the party flounders.

Exhibit A:

Jonah Goldberg makes a good case for this argument in his recent column on NRO (emphasis added):

The conventional wisdom holds that conservatism is in trouble because the GOP is in trouble. But the two are not one and the same. Indeed, the GOP’s conservative principles aren’t necessarily the main reason for its unpopularity. Arguably, Republicans’ failure to adhere to their principles when in power hurt them more...

...The cliché is that politics is about “addition,” and the GOP needs to add more Hispanics, or gays, or women to its coalition, as if such descriptors define people more than their individual aspirations. Republicans will never win that fight, nor should they try to out-bean-count the Democrats. Persuasion should trump the pandering of “addition.” Conservatives must argue why they are right, not endlessly apologize for their alleged wrongs.

Dude, Where's My Tax Cut?

USA Today has an interesting story today that says the increased debt from this year's spending spree will come to about $55,000 per household. I'll just crack open the piggy bank. It's not like this will reduce our quality of life or anything.

Only two ways to pay for this: higher taxes or inflation, which is a hidden tax that devalues everyone's earnings, savings and investments. Faced with the choice of taking responsibility for their spending or printing money and imposing a hidden tax, I know which one I expect from our broken political class.