Saturday, May 31, 2008

If the Inuit have 100 words for snow*...

Gas prices have accelerated the move away from trucks and sport utility vehicles at a furious pace, leaving the Big Three at the most crucial crossroads in 30 years.

"In the early '70s, we were caught flatfooted, without smaller, fuel-efficient cars. We had nothing to sell," said Gerald Meyers, a former chairman of American Motors Corp. "That's exactly what's happening now."

Then the language of Detroit should have 500 words for stupid.

* Funny thing -- they don't.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


Atrios said he couldn't even watch.

I watched the second half, and fought back tears.

I remember watching the whole drama unfold in real time. I was even briefly in DC during the thick of it.

I remember feeling disappointment, but I was not blessed (or cursed) with the foreknowledge of how momentous the effects would be.

I remember being outraged at the utterly transparent nonsense from the Supremes, but I had come to the conclusion long before that the Court was a political animal, so I saw it as a difference in degree, but not in kind.

Perhaps the most amazing thing is this: I'd bet that Scalia and Thomas think, even now, that their treachery all worked out for the best.

I also remember being told back then by someone far lefter than me that there just wasn't much difference between Gore and Bush anyway. I strongly disagreed.

I can't think of a major issue today that wouldn't have been avoided or reduced had the actual winner been sworn in as President in January 2001.

Happy Memorial Day.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Happy birthday, Esoder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Growing anxiety about their economic prospects and deep unhappiness with President George W. Bush and the U.S. Congress plunged Americans into a dark mood this month, according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday.


Concerns about the direction of the country and personal finances rose sharply, and dissatisfaction with Bush, Congress and the administration's economic and foreign policy all climbed.

Bush's approval rating fell 4 percentage points to 23 percent, a record low for pollster John Zogby, and positive marks for the U.S. Congress fell 5 points to tie an all-time low at 11 percent.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Why I fight

"It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool, or the pig, are a different opinion, it is because they only know their own side of the question."

John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism (1863)

I suspect that most Americans take for granted the freedoms and Constitutional protections a few of us are always on about. Perhaps that explains, at least in some people, why clanging alarms about an Administration positively run amok are met with yawns and blank stares.

But it is now much worse than that. I think a growing segment of our population has moved to a much more dangerous stage in the descent into totalitarianism. Rather than assuming that freedoms are safe, they have reached the stage at which the very value of those freedoms is no longer, to coin a phrase, self-evident.

Think it can't happen?

Think again.

Many Americans assume that China’s internet users are both aware of and unhappy about their government’s oversight and control of the internet. But in a new survey, most Chinese say they approve of internet control and management, especially when it comes from their government.

According to findings from the fourth and most recent of a series of surveys about internet use in China from 2000 to 2007, over 80% of respondents say they think the internet should be managed or controlled, and in 2007, almost 85% say they think the government should be responsible for doing it.
Ten years ago, I would have argued that a story like this was completely inapplicable to the American experiment -- that all men were Socrates, as it were. If you still believe that now, I have a used (though not recently) Constitution to sell you.

I have ranted before about the dangers that flow from what could be thought of as the "pig happy" industry. I see it all as part and parcel of our pursuit of the model now prevalent in China, in which ideas are pre-screened for our own protection.

By the time we get there, and it won't be long now, the pigs may well realize that their happiness is as passe' as Socrates but it will be too late to go back.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

That's gonna leave a mark

It isn't so much what was said:

"When Bush tries to articulate a vision," ... "he will butcher the Gettysburg Address. Obama, he will make an A&P grocery list sing."
.. as it is who said it:

Tom Davis, who chaired the (National Republican Congressional Committee) for four years...

Friday, May 09, 2008

Finally, a scarcity of greater fools?

High fuel prices are causing the value of used SUVs to plummet, often below what's listed in the buying guides many shoppers use to negotiate with dealers.

As a result, some new-car buyers think they're getting cheated by dealers who are offering them little for their SUV trade-ins.


...(W)holesale prices on big SUVs such as Chevrolet Tahoes, Ford Expeditions and Toyota Sequoias are down 17% from a year ago. Full-size pickups have fallen as much as 15%...

The NOCHA hits just keep coming. I just don't feel sorry for the soccer moms and machismo dads dropping $120-plus to fill their Bulgemobiles, or the dealers who shelled out serious green to build Hummer dealerships, or the Detroit execs who happily supplied them with rolling three-ton barns wrapped in juvenile fantasy.

Am I smug? Sure. I put my money where my smugness is -- in the form of a deposit on one of these almost a year ago:

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Name that year!

Gas prices have Americans stampeding to buy smaller vehicles.

"It’s easily the most dramatic segment shift I have witnessed in the market in my 31 years here," said George Pipas, chief sales analyst for the Ford Motor Company.

The trend toward smaller and lighter vehicles with better mileage is a blow to Detroit automakers, which offer fewer such models than Asian carmakers like Toyota and Honda.
Talking about the 1973 oil crisis?


The 1979 crisis?


This NOCHA moment was brought to you by the dumbest companies on planet Earth. And their enablers.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

MA Day

President Bush did not say "Mission Accomplished" on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln off San Diego on 1 May five years ago. But the banner above him did.

And the picture of those two words said more than the 1,829 words of his speech.

And so it was.

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