Tuesday, May 26, 2009


For What It's Worth

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse sics FBI teaparty protester, claims protester is "endangering the government and should be investigated as a suspected terrorist." Again, one of the most protected men in the country trying to intimidate citizens practicing their constitutional rights.

Some are finding a trend in Chrysler dealership closings, many more owners seem to be supporters of Republicans. I looked up a several from Ohio at opensecrets.org. Most hadn't donated either way, at least not directly. I found two that had donated Republican, Robert C. Reichart, owner of University Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and Jay Park, owner of Crestmont Chrysler.

Looking past donations, I would assume it would be easy for anyone to search each states voter registration records for party affiliation. I regularly receive mail from whichever party I happen to be registered with at the moment. I hope this story doesn't pan out. But, from what I've learned of politicians on both sides of the fence, I wouldn't be too surprised if it did.
There's something happening here
What it is ain't exactly clear
Another thought regarding Chrysler, purportedly one of the reasons for cutting back on dealerships was to decrease competition and raise prices. The problem with this line of reasoning lies in that the competition Chrysler needs to worry about comes from Toyota, Honda, Hyundia, Kia, Volkswagen, Mitsubishi, Ford, etc. Fewer dealerships make it more difficult for consumers to shop for your product. More thoughts here. The other day in the comments to my post we discussed the "If the only tool you have is a hammer..." quote. Via synchronicity, the quote comes up in the first paragraph of this article.

Responding to North Korea's nuclear test and missile tests, Obama released a statement, part of which says, "Such provocations will only serve to deepen North Korea's isolation. It will not find international acceptance unless it abandons its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery." Were there ever more wasted words? It's quite apparent that North Korea cares neither about isolation nor international acceptance. Of course, no one has had any luck dealing with North Korea although I believe China could bring effective pressure if it wished.

Obama's auto mandates will do very little to improve the problem he claims to be fighting. By 2100, the regulations are predicted to "reduce the sea-level rise by six hundredths of a centimeter. That’s 0.6 millimeters." The predicted temperature increase under Bush's plan would have been 2.955 by 2100, under Obama's plan, 2.952.

Frankly, I'm not sure what to make of all the global warming climate change hysteria. Having studies a little geology in college, I realize CO2 levels have been much higher at other times in the Earth's history when mankind was just a twinkle in God's eye.
...long-term reconstructions of atmospheric CO2 levels going back in time show that 500 million years ago atmospheric CO2 was some 20 times higher than present values. It dropped, then rose again some 200 million years ago to 4-5 times present levels--a period that saw the rise of giant fern forests--and then continued a slow decline until recent pre-industrial time.
I've always been environmentally conscious but believe in reasonable actions. I believe we can make much more efficient and cleaner cars. I keep hoping for some good entrepreneurs to come up with a break through. Right now it appears "decisions based upon fear rather than foresight" are being made.

Sometimes, I wonder if we are in a post-modern middle ages. Scientific debate on climate change is being squelched much like science was suppressed a thousand years ago. Virtually any course of inquiry that challenges today's politically correct positions meets harsh opposition, not on terms of science, but on grounds of compatibility with the accepted ideology. I suppose time will tell but that time may come long after I'm gone.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Sexist Quote of the Day

Inside Higher Ed has a post on Lost Men on Campus. A commenter, whom I assume is female, calling herself Mitzy says:
The gender gap favoring females in K-16 education is not the result of "something being wrong with contemporary males." It is the result of a leveling of the playing field that has been going on for the last half century; to wit, when females are not discriminated against, they prove to be the superior students and intellects. Perhaps this realization was what compelled men to suppress them as long as they did. That is not to say that male intellect isn't strong; it is just that in an fair academic meritocracy, slight advantages will produce large results. Simple as that.
Let's hope Mitzy's a lesbian as no man deserves to live with this.


In Memory

Thanksgiving is a day we pause to give thanks for what we have. Memorial Day is a day when we pause to thank those who fought for what we have.

Arlington Cemetery photographed by my son, 2005.

Friday, May 08, 2009


The Good, the Bad and The Funny

Holding a protest this past Wednesday "more than 1,000 students, parents, and concerned citizens gathered across from city hall to rally in support of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program." Were it not for the crowd being overwhelmingly black, liberals could have dismissed it as a gathering of insignificant, disaffected tea partiers. Several people spoke.
But the most moving speeches were from the parents and students participating in the scholarship program. High-school student Carlos Battle spoke about how he was personally working to redefine the image of the black teen in Washington, D.C. — and how the Opportunity Scholarship program was giving him a chance to fulfill his dream. A father of a scholarship student pointed out the hypocrisy of Congress bailing out failing corporations but taking scholarships away from D.C. students.
Here's another speech Carlos Battle gave when he graduated from the eighth grade.
My mom knows that I have always wanted to be two things – a lawyer and an NBA basketball player. Before I received my scholarship, it would have been difficult to achieve either of these goals. Now, as I prepare to enter high school at GDS, I know that if I do well academically, I have a great chance to go to an Ivy League school like Harvard or Yale. On the basketball court, I look forward to leading the GDS Grasshoppers – yes, you heard me correctly, the Grasshoppers - to heights they have never achieved.
We need more like him.

Inside the Capital in Washington, Rep. Linda Sanchez wants to restrict your freedom of speech. Sanchez proposes a bill that restricts speech via any "electronic means."
(a) Whoever transmits in interstate or foreign commerce any communication, with the intent to coerce, intimidate, harass or cause substantial emotional distress to a person, using electronic means to support severe, repeated and hostile behavior, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.
With definitions as broad as these, nearly anyone could easily be charged with this crime. God knows I've suffered enough coercion, intimidation, harassment and substantial emotional distress due to posts and comments written by liberals. Of course, I dish out my share. Under this law, A Modest Proposal would have landed Jonathan Swift in prison.

Again, why is it that liberals constantly find ways to put more and more people in prison?

Also on Wednesday, Obama and Biden ran out for a burger. Biden ordered a burger with jalapenos and Swiss cheese. (Jalapenos! More than I would have expected from Biden.) Obama ordered a burger with American cheese and DIJON mustard.

To be perfectly clear, I care not at all what Obama, or Biden, put on their burgers. Apparently MSNBC thought Dijon mustard reflected poorly upon Obama. Videos at the link show Obama asking for the Dijon mustard and another shows MSNBC speaking over Obama's order just as he requests the mustard.

But, this isn't about the mustard, it's about the reaction of many liberals to William Jacobson discussing it in his blog in a somewhat tongue-in-cheek manner. The liberal commenters went nuts. Read them at the above link and more here in his follow-up post, "Thou Shalt Not Mock Obama's Mustard. Jacobson's only moderately funny but the liberal commenters and their rage are hilarious.

Conservatives see the humor because conservatives have better senses of humor.
At the end we had 140 self declared liberals and 145 self declared conservatives, and the results were not at all what we expected. As it turned out conservatives gave significantly higher rating to the jokes in each of the seven categories (see table below)!

So, is the stereotype of liberals as being funnier completely off? When we asked our respondents to self-report how funny they are, liberals indicated that they were funnier. This means that liberals are not finding life to be funnier, but they think they are.

What is the moral of all of this? I think it is that conservatives might not be as closed minded as we might expect, at least not in terms of humor.
The joke really is on the liberals.

Thursday, May 07, 2009


What Is the Real Purpose of Hate Crime Laws?

Yesterday I entered a discussion on hate crime laws at Post Politics. My assertion is that currently hate crime laws, no matter what the wording, aim to protect certain groups or classes of people. Of course, some beg to disagree.

Those who beg to differ make accusations such as "racist or anti-gay." One commenter, dontcallmemikey, tries to be more logical.
Hate Crimes, (also known as bias-motivated crimes) occur when a perpetrator targets a victim because of his or her membership in a certain social group, usually defined by racial group, religion, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity, nationality, age, gender, gender identity, or political affiliation.
An act considered taken due to hatred of gender, color, religion, etc. is considered worse than one for money, jealousy, etc. BECAUSE the hatred is the motivator.
I don't buy that argument.

Assault, robbery, murder, etc should be and is illegal. Why should a criminal receive less punishment for doing the same damage just because he/she didn't have hateful thoughts about his/her victim? The victim feels the same pain and suffering.

Of course, we all know, whether or not we admit it, that hate crime laws are for the "protection" on certain groups. I put protection in quotes because there apparently is no evidence that hate crime laws provide any protection to anyone. No proven deterrent effect has been established.

"...the laws are not very effective as a punishment or a deterrent."

"The other basic defense of hate crime laws is also dubious: that enhanced penalties have a deterrent effect. There is no evidence for this. The same people who tell us repeatedly that the death penalty has no deterrent effect at all find themselves having to argue that a few extra months in jail deters racial attacks. I remember the lack of deterrent effect of the death penalty from my Sociology of Crime and Punishment class in the mid-1979s.

do hate crime enhancements deter crime? If they do, I can't find any good research that proves it.

"Even though the federal government and an increasing number of states have passed hate crimes legislation since the mid-1980s, law enforcement experts say there is no rising tide of hate crimes to deter. .... "There is little systematic evidence that hate crimes laws deter crimes," said Jack Levin, a Northeastern University criminologist who supports hate crimes laws. He supports something that doesn't work. Makes you wonder.

Few gay men and even fewer lesbians are ever victims of hate crimes. Nor is there any reliable evidence that hate crimes laws, where they exist, have any deterrent effect on would-be perpetrators.

There's no evidence I'm aware of that hate-crimes laws actually deter hate crimes beyond what the law already deters. (If readers are aware of any such evidence, I'd love to see it.) All but seven states already have special laws dealing with hate crimes, and 24 of the states include anti-gay violence. We now have almost 40 years of experience with these laws. Yet Shepard/Solmonese provide no evidence such laws have been effective. Indeed, a careful reading of the column shows that they do not even claim an enhanced deterrent effect.

So, what is the real purpose of hate crime laws? The most obvious answer: politicians love to suck up to special interest groups in order to garner votes. Some in these special groups like hate crime laws. Some outside these groups but sympathetic to the groups like hate crime laws. If the laws do no good, why?

The laws help push their agendas by identifying those groups as "special" and persecuted. The laws provide intimidation of normal law-abiding citizens. Normal law-abiding citizens become afraid to express any sort of negative thought towards these groups. Like when my sister, when speaking only to me, couldn't say black hoodlums were preying on whites in some areas of town (where muggings were becoming frequent). She felt it necessary to say "certain people" were preying on whites.

Liberals/left wingers make up the people that most strongly and commonly support hate crime laws. With the U.S. holding the record for having the "largest prison population and the highest rate of incarceration in the world," why are these self-proclaimed caring and compassionate lefties so eager to put people in prison more often and/or for longer periods of time?

Because the success of the liberal/left wing agenda depends of intimidation and fear. In practice and under close analysis, the ideas and goals of America's left have never worked and never will. Most people prefer more freedom and opportunity than the socialism of the left allows. Thus, at every turn the specter of incarceration or other harmful outcome must be held over the head of the populace.

Sunday, May 03, 2009


Swine Flu Warning

In 1976, David Lewis an Army recruit at Fort Dix, caught the swine flu and died. This triggered a massive reaction due to a fear of a repeat of the 1918 flu epidemic.

Interesting how the example of the air travel, etc transmission of the flu in the video contradicts the current government policies. The current policy of checking people at the border and airports demonstrates, again, the idiocy of the government. Swine flu incubation period ranges from one to five days. A person who looks quite healthy at the border or airport may actively be spreading the disease.

At this point, the media reaction to the swine flu seems overblown. Yesterday, I heard on the news that an Ohio State University student might have the flu. That's right, might. Three cases in Ohio have now been confirmed. When did such small numbers of a disease begin getting such publicity unless it was smallpox or bubonic plague?

I'm glad our health officials keep an eye on these diseases. But, I wonder if the MSM plays it up for ratings.

The unfortunate David Lewis claimed the distinction as the only person to die from the 1976 swine flu "epidemic."

BTW - I have dozens of bottles of hand sanitizer. Call for a price.

Saturday, May 02, 2009


Ford Doing It Right

Having posted about GM and Chrysler, I went to buy new tires for my truck. Waiting for my tires to be mounted I picked up a Car and Driver magazine. Inside an article compared the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid, Camry Hybrid, Altima Hybrid, and Malibu Hybrid.

Had I been asked to guess, I would have picked the Camry to be ranked best. I would have been wrong. The Ford Fusion, made by the only major American auto manufacturer not asking for a bailout, earned top honors. How'd the Malibu do? 4th of 4.

The verdicts on the Fusion and Malibu:

Malibu - "With this halfhearted hybrid, GM lays down another bunt." The Malibu gets such poor gas mileage that it's no better than my old Camry.

Fusion - "Ford hits one over the fence and into the ionosphere." High praise from a tough audience.

GM and Chrysler need to learn something from Ford.


GM and Chrysler Stumble and Bumble

Struggling to survive with the "help" of the federal government, GM and Chrysler continue to stumble. GM's recent killing of Pontiac demonstrates their lack of consumer knowledge. Over the past 40 years, Pontiac produced several awe inspiring cars and became GM's most stylish line. The GTO, Trans AM and other Firebirds, Fiero (not a quality car but a great concept), Grand Am, Solstice lead the honors.

1972 Buick Riviera

Contrasting, Buick could take Oldsmobile's slogan "This isn't your father's Oldsmobile" and turn it into "This is your grandfather's Buick." Since the 1971-73 Riviera or the 1960 Electra, Buick produced bland, forgettable cars. Yet, Buick survived Oldsmobile which at the time manufactured the Intrigue and Alero, two beautiful cars. Despite Buick's sales being sluggish at best.
There’s an often-repeated statistic: U.S. Buick dealers sell just four cars per dealer per month. It’s true, but c’mon; that was last year’s totals. In March, Buick sales slipped to three cars per dealer. Thanks to TTAC’s Frank Williams, I’ve had a chance to examine the exact dealer and sales stats for the Beyond Precision people. Having deconstructed the data, I can declare that this seemingly absurd three cars a month number, while strictly true, isn’t the whole story. The “whole story” is much worse.
Chrysler dropped the Plymouth line a few years back. Not such a biggie although had an emotional attachment to the Plymouth name since my family had several when I was a kid. My Dad drove a car like the one in Stephen King's Christine.

During the 1960s, Dodge and Plymouth created some classic muscle cars, the Dodge Challenger/Plymouth Barracuda and Dodge Charger in particular. Like the other American manufacturers, their cars fell into the lower reaches of mediocrity.

Unless you're older than 45 or 50 years, few remember just how bad the cars GM, Chrysler and Ford created during the 1970s and into the 1980s. Chrysler K Cars and GM X platform stood out as examples of poor design and low quality. The Chevy Vega and its variations set new standards in low reliability. The Plymouth Horizon/Dodge Omni earned a failing grade from Consumer Reports. My mother owned two of these and loved them but I found them unnerving to drive due to the steering that "wouldn't necessarily re-center itself automatically."

My observations of American made cars in the 1970s and 80s convinced me to be more than cautious in buying American cars. I've had a few - Ford Tempo, Ford Aerostar, Dodge Neon - and always been disappointed. I've had a Toyota Tercel and Camry, just bought a Tundra truck, plus had a Nissan pick up and always been pleased. Before the summer is over my Camry will surpass 300,000 miles with the only repair being a new turn signal/windshield wiper unit for the steering column plus the usual replacement of a timing belt/water pump every 100,000 miles.

Memories make many of us who are now in the "older" generation reluctant to buy American cars period. Test driving makes younger people reluctant. My 20 year old son just bought a Honda Civic with its legendary quality. He works part-time as a valet at a high priced department store while attending college and drives many expensive cars and cars of every make every week. He says the Hondas compare favorably to virtually everything including cars costing 4-5 times as much.

Now GM faces a future without Pontiac and with the humdrum Buick line. Chevy makes some nice looking cars but quality still lacks. Many I talk to are reluctant to buy cars from unions who helped drive the car companies into the ground while reaping benefits and pay well above the national average. Chrysler looks forward to a partnership with Fiat, a company that left the U.S. years ago because it couldn't compete. Combine that with the demands of a federal government that knows nothing about car manufacturing and neither path looks bright.

I wish them luck but they'll have to produce better vehicles with more leg room to earn my business.

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