Friday, May 29, 2009

Sotomayor: Of Fish And Men


By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Thursday, May 28, 2009 4:20 PM PT

Justice: Sonia Sotomayor fits the administration's requirement for bringing empathy to the law. The problem is that it isn't always for human beings and law-abiding citizens. Fish gotta swim and criminals gotta vote.

Read More: Judges & Courts

During his 2005 confirmation hearing, Chief Justice John Roberts said a judge should be like an umpire in baseball: Just call the balls and strikes and don't alter the rules of the game. And don't feel sorry for the first baseman.

As President Obama likes to say about the election, he won. He gets to pick judges who have "a little bit of a common touch and a practical sense of how the world works." He wants judges who he feels have compassion for the little guy, even if the little guy is a fish.

In a 2007 2nd Circuit decision, Sotomayor ruled the Clean Water Act required power companies that operate water-cooled power plants to use the "best technology available for minimizing adverse environmental impact" to prevent fish and other aquatic life from being sucked into vents and killed. Cost was not to be a deciding factor.

Sonia Sotomayor’s 1976 Princeton yearbook page includes a quote from a six-time Socialist Party candidate for president.<br />

Sonia Sotomayor’s 1976 Princeton yearbook page includes a quote from a six-time Socialist Party candidate for president.

"This case is about fish and other aquatic organisms," wrote Sotomayor. It was not about the little guys working at these plants or their jobs or businesses or staying in business. It was about the fish. Fish outweigh people on her scales of justice.

Sotomayor sided with environmentalists who had sued the EPA because the agency permitted the use of cost-benefit analysis in determining the "best technology available." Had her decision stood, power companies would have had to spend billions more to comply, passing these costs on to their customers.

She ruled that "the EPA may consider cost as a factor to a limited degree, but only as to whether the cost of a given technology could be reasonably borne by the industry and not the relation between that technology's cost and the benefit it achieves."

In that decision we see activist judges who are ideologically motivated on the courts telling businesses not to make sound business decisions but, as Sotomayor has said, make decisions based on policies dictated by the courts.

The Supreme Court disagreed, and on April 1 it overruled her decision 6—3. Judge Antonin Scalia wrote for the majority that best technology may in fact "describe the technology that most effectively produces some good."

"We conclude that the EPA permissibly relied on cost-benefit analysis in setting the national performance standards," Scalia wrote. "The Court of Appeals (and Judge Sotomayor)," Scalia ruled, "was therefore in error."

As if empathy for small aquatic organisms wasn't bad enough, Sotomayor also has judicial compassion for those who have passing familiarity with our courts — that class of downtrodden people known as convicted felons.

In most jurisdictions, convicted felons cannot vote alongside those they have raped, robbed or assaulted. Sotomayor believes that under the Voting Rights Act of 1965 felons can and should be granted the right to vote. They are a discriminated against group being denied their civil rights.

Hayden vs. Pataki was a case brought by one Joseph "Jazz" Hayden, who stabbed a sanitation worker to death. Mr. Hayden felt that shouldn't disqualify him from voting. In a dissenting opinion, Sotomayor agreed, arguing that Hayden and 5.3 million other convicted felons should be allowed to vote for those who write and enforce the laws they broke, even if their victims no longer can.

In her dissent, Sotomayor said Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act "by its unambiguous terms subjects felony disenfranchisement and all other voting qualifications to its coverage." Sotomayor believes that any voting qualification, such as bans on convicted murderers voting, is a violation of the Voting Rights Act.

We wonder if she also believes these convicted felons should have their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms restored? Be that as it may, we may soon have a judge who believes felons should vote and businessmen trying to stay in business should, well, go fish.

A New Enemies List?


By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Thursday, May 28, 2009 4:20 PM PT

Politics: The government's bailout of Chrysler was key to saving a national icon too important to be lost. Or so we were told. But it's looking more like a way to punish political opponents.

Read More: Business & Regulation

Earlier this month, Chrysler announced it was seeking permission from bankruptcy court to kill franchise agreements with 789 of its 3,181 dealers to save costs. Dealers, many of whom ran profitable businesses, told the media that the news was devastating.

Aside from the loss of a business, many of these franchisees may have something else in common: It looks like all the dealers who are losing their Chrysler franchises, with only a single exception found so far, have links to the Republican Party.

Chrysler, an American institution, is no longer being operated as a private-sector company. It's being run by a task force appointed by the White House. So far, the government has halved Chrysler's ad budget and forced it into a shotgun wedding with Italian carmaker Fiat.

Has it also directed the company to end its contracts with dealers who dared give contributions to the Republican Party and its candidates? The mainstream media seem less than curious. But the new media haven't shied away from asking the question.

"Many of the closed dealers were also major donors to Republican candidates and political action committees, a review of campaign finance data from the Federal Election Commission shows," Kenneth Timmerman wrote at

"How do we account for the fact millions of dollars were contributed to GOP candidates by Chrysler who are being closed by the government, but only one has been found so far that is being closed that contributed to the Obama campaign in 2008?" asked editorial page editor Mark Tapscott.

"The initial pass at the list of shuttered dealers showed they had donated, in the aggregate, millions to Republican candidates and PACs and a total of $200 to Barack Obama," writes blogger Doug Ross.

WorldNetDaily reviewed all 789 of the dealerships the company wants to close. It found that "owners contributed at least $450,000 to Republican presidential candidates and the GOP, while only $7,970 was donated to Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign and $2,200 was given to Sen. John Edwards' campaign. Obama received a combined total of only $450 in donations."

Has our political class grown so petty that it would use the power of government to punish the political opposition? We hope this isn't true. If it is, the country's in more trouble than we thought.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

FoxNation: Should Obama Release Birth Certificate? Or Is This Old News?


Sonia Sotomayor 'La Raza member': American Bar Association lists Obama choice as part of group By Joe Kovacs


May 27, 2009

As President Obama's Supreme Court nominee comes under heavy fire for allegedly being a "racist," Judge Sonia Sotomayor is listed as a member of the National Council of La Raza, a group that's promoted driver's licenses for illegal aliens, amnesty programs, and no immigration law enforcement by local and state police.

According the American Bar Association, Sotomayor is a member of the NCLR, which bills itself as the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the U.S.

Meaning "the Race," La Raza also has connections to groups that advocate the separation of several southwestern states from the rest of America.

Over the past two days, Sotomayor has been heavily criticized for her racially charged statement: "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."

The remark was actually made during a 2001 speech at the University of California's Berkeley School of Law. The lecture was published the following year in the Berkeley La Raza Law Journal.

The comment is being zeroed in on by voices from the political right.

"I'm not saying she's a racist, but the statement sure is," columnist Ann Coulter said on ABC's "Good Morning America."

"Imagine a judicial nominee said 'my experience as a white man makes me better than a latina woman,'" blogged former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga. "Wouldn't they have to withdraw? New racism is no better than old racism. A white man racist nominee would be forced to withdraw. Latina woman racist should also withdraw." 

Radio's Rush Limbaugh noted, "And the libs of course say that minorities cannot be racists because they don't have the power to implement their racism. Well, those days are gone because reverse racists certainly do have the power to implement their power. Obama is the greatest living example of a reverse racist, and now he's appointed one. ..."

But others are suggesting Sotomayor's racial views will have little impact on her confirmation to the bench.

"She's gonna get confirmed. Get out of the way of the truck," political analyst Dick Morris said tonight on Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor."

Host Bill O'Reilly responded, "The core conservative person ... does not understand that the GOP is shrinking and needs to expand."

The NCLR is applauding the Obama for his selection of Sotomayor.

"Today is a monumental day for Latinos. Finally, we see ourselves represented on the highest court in the land," said Janet Murguia, NCLR's president and CEO.

La Raza also praised former President George W. Bush for nominating Alberto Gonzales to succeed John Ashcroft as attorney general.

As WND previously reported, La Raza was condemned in 2007 by former U.S. Rep. Charles Norwood, R-Ga., as a radical "pro-illegal immigration lobbying organization that supports racist groups calling for the secession of the western United States as a Hispanic-only homeland."

Norwood urged La Raza to renounce its support of the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan – which sees "the Race" as part of an ethnic group that one day will reclaim Aztlan, the mythical birthplace of the Aztecs. In Chicano folklore, Aztlan includes California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and parts of Colorado and Texas.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Judge Sotomayor's 'reverse empathy' By David Limbaugh


May 26, 2009

True to form, President Barack Obama – in his remarks introducing his Supreme Court nominee, Judge Sonia Sotomayor – said he was doing one thing while doing the exact opposite. He articulated his criteria for the optimal nominee yet chose someone who falls squarely outside those criteria – as best we can tell.

But what's all the fuss? A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little conservative minds. Obama's mesmerized audiences are not supposed to pay attention to the meaning and context of his words, only to their aesthetic appeal and to the tonal qualities and modulation in his voice.

Obama said a Supreme Court nominee's two most important qualities are her rigorous intellect and mastery of the law and her recognition of the limits of the judicial role – that a judge's job is to interpret law, not to make it.

Then came the "but," the exception that imperceptibly swallowed the rule. He quoted former Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes as saying, "The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience." In other words: "Forget what I just said about how judges should interpret, not make, the law. I want my judges to have empathy. And don't tell anyone, but when I say 'empathy,' that's code for bending the law to achieve the results I want based on the selective empathy I have for certain victimized groups."

Before you fall for the upcoming protests that Sotomayor truly is a practitioner of judicial restraint, you might want to examine her record, including the case of Ricci v. DeStefano.

Frank Ricci is a dyslexic Connecticut firefighter who quit a second job in order to study up to 13 hours a day and paid someone to read his textbooks onto tape in preparation for the New Haven Fire Department's exam for promotion to lieutenant or captain. Though he received the sixth-highest score out of 77 applicants vying for eight vacancies, the city decided to deny him (and all other applicants) his earned promotion because no black applicants passed, even though the exam had been carefully constructed to ensure race neutrality.

Ricci was among 18 candidates – 17 whites and one Hispanic – who sued the city of New Haven for racial discrimination. The district judge issued summary judgment against the plaintiffs. On appeal to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Sotomayor was one of three judges on the panel who issued a per curiam opinion (adopting the full reasoning of the district court without elaboration) affirming the district court's ruling.

The plaintiffs failed to achieve an en banc (entire court) rehearing of the appeal, but not without a strongly critical dissenting opinion from one of Sotomayor's fellow Clinton appointees on the court, Judge Jose Cabranes.

Cabranes noted that it was highly unusual for the panel to have issued a per curiam opinion, because the questions raised on appeal were "indisputably complex and far from well-settled." He wrote, "The core issue presented by this case – the scope of a municipal employer's authority to disregard examination results based solely on the race of the successful applicants – is not addressed by any precedent of the Supreme Court or our Circuit. … What is not arguable … is … that this Court has failed to grapple with the questions of exceptional importance raised in this appeal."

Sotomayor and her like-minded colleagues not only highhandedly denied justice to the aggrieved firefighters in this case but also tried to bury their injustice in their summary affirmation of the district court's ruling, something that obviously troubled Judge Cabranes. This is judicial activism at its most egregious and least transparent, when judges disregard the law to achieve the result they prefer and attempt to conceal their actions.

Again, this is what Barack Obama obviously has in mind when he discusses "empathy." In Ricci v. DeStefano, Sotomayor's empathy was for those who weren't aggrieved – call it "reverse empathy" – and she just didn't have any left for the poor saps who worked their tails off to earn their promotions – just as Obama doesn't have any left for mortgage debtors who honor their obligations.

While defenders of Sotomayor will argue that she didn't engage in judicial reverse discrimination in this case, the facts yell otherwise. But if you're still in doubt that she would base her rulings on her personal feelings, be aware that in a speech at Berkeley in 2002, she said it's perfectly acceptable for judges to consider their "experiences as women and people of color" in making their decisions.

Also readily available (on YouTube) is videotape of her saying – before remembering her comments were being taped and then feigning to backtrack – that "the Court of Appeals is where policy is made."

Senate Republicans must take a stand and vocally oppose this nomination, not on the basis of partisan politics, but in defense of the rule of law and the proper role of the judiciary, principles the president is only pretending to honor.

David Limbaugh is a writer, author and attorney. His book "Bankrupt: The Intellectual and Moral Bankruptcy of Today's Democratic Party" (Regnery) was recently released in paperback. To find out more about David Limbaugh, please visit his website,

Crisis In Social Security, Medicare Can't Come To Head Soon Enough


By ROBERT SAMUELSON | Posted Tuesday, May 26, 2009 4:20 PM PT

When the trustees of Social Security and Medicare recently reported on the economic status of these programs, the coverage was universally glum. The recession had made everything worse.

"Social Security, Medicare Face Insolvency Sooner," headlined the Wall Street Journal. Actually, these reports were good news. Better would have been: "Social Security, Medicare Risk Bankruptcy in 2010."

It's increasingly obvious that Congress and the president (regardless of the party in power) will deal with the political stink bomb of an aging society only if forced. And the most plausible means of compulsion would be for Social Security and Medicare to go bankrupt: trust funds run dry; promised benefits exceed dedicated payroll taxes. The sooner this happens, the better.

That the programs will ultimately go bankrupt is clear from the trustees' reports. On pages 201 and 202 of the Medicare report, you will find the conclusive arithmetic: Over the next 75 years, Social Security and Medicare will cost an estimated $103.2 trillion, while dedicated taxes and premiums will total only $57.4 trillion. The gap is $45.8 trillion. (All figures are converted to "today's dollars.")

The Medicare actuaries then note what happens once the trust funds for Social Security and Medicare's hospital insurance program are depleted: "No provision exists under current law to address the projected (Medicare) and (Social Security) financial imbalances. Once assets are exhausted, expenditures cannot be made except to the extent covered by ongoing tax receipts." Translation: Benefits would fall.

Social Security checks would shrink; some Medicare bills wouldn't be paid in full — and the shortfalls would progressively worsen. Retirees would scream. Hospitals might shut. No president or Congress would abide the outcry. Even the threat of imminent bankruptcy would rouse them to action. But restoring the programs' solvency would confront Congress and the White House with fundamental questions.

In 1940, life expectancy at birth was 61.4 years for men, 65.7 for women; by 2008, the comparable figures were 75.4 and 80. So: As health and longevity improve, when should people stop working and be entitled (from which comes "entitlement") to receive government retirement subsidies?

Stripped of politically pleasing euphemisms ("social insurance," "entitlements"), that's what Social Security and Medicare mainly are. If so, how much should wealthier retirees be subsidized? Or: How much should obligations to the old displace other national needs — for, say, defense, education, research, transportation or, more broadly, adequate family incomes?

In 1990, Medicare and Social Security represented 28% of federal spending; in 2019, their share will be almost 40%, projects the Obama administration. As this spending grows, pressures intensify to raise taxes, increase budget deficits or cut other programs. What's the right balance between the past and the future?

Or: How can the medical system be reorganized to improve care and restrain costs? By some estimates, a third of health care spending may be unneeded or ineffective.

Unfortunately, the Medicare and Social Security trust funds won't be exhausted until 2017 and 2037 respectively, by the latest projections. Although these bankruptcy dates are advanced from last year's estimates (2019 for Medicare and 2041 for Social Security), they're still fairly distant.

Between now and then, the drain on the rest of government will occur invisibly. The inadequate trust funds will steadily diminish. The government bonds in these trust accounts will be presented to the Treasury for payment. Those payments can be financed in only three ways: bigger deficits, higher taxes or spending cuts.

But without a genuinely forcing event — something requiring a response — presidents and Congresses sidestep the underlying choices. They profess concern, but their proposals are cosmetic, ineffectual or both.

"We must save Social Security for the 21st century," proclaimed Bill Clinton. "The system . . . on its current path, is headed toward bankruptcy," warned George W. Bush. Now, Barack Obama seems to be reverting to this familiar form.

"What we have done is kicked this can down the road," he told the Washington Post. "We are now at the end of the road." Great rhetoric — but that's all. Although no one expects Obama to have a grand blueprint after just four months, he has yet to signal even general support for needed policies: gradual increases in eligibility ages; gradual benefit reductions for wealthier retirees; a fundamental overhaul of Medicare.

Indeed, Obama's plans to expand government-paid health insurance might increase Medicare spending by aggravating medical inflation.

Like General Motors, we continue bad habits because we can — temporarily. Procrastination is a bad policy. The longer changes are postponed, the more wrenching they will be. The hurt for retirees and taxpayers will only grow with time.

Social Security last faced a forcing event in 1983, when a dwindling trust fund prodded Congress to make changes. The lesson: A "crisis" is just what we need.

Oppose 'Empathy,' Defend The Law


By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Tuesday, May 26, 2009 4:20 PM PT

Supreme Court: The first Latina Supreme Court pick is hailed as a political home run, but Judge Sonia Sotomayor is vulnerable. Americans simply don't want justices making law.

Read More: Judges & Courts

What point is there in staging a big fight against the first high court nominee of Hispanic extraction (discounting Justice Benjamin Cardozo's Portuguese blood)?

That is the question pundits are asking in the wake of President Obama's court choice of South Bronx native Sonia Sotomayor.

Add to her ethnicity Sotomayor's rise from inner-city poverty after her father's death during her childhood, the White House's shrewd highlighting of her education at Catholic schools, plus her lifelong struggle against diabetes and it's hard not to find the political math coming out in her favor.

But Hispanic ethnicity didn't stop Senate Democrats, then in the minority, from spending 28 months successfully blocking Honduran-born Miguel Estrada's 2001 nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit by President Bush.

Estrada's life story was inspiring too. Knowing little English, he immigrated to America at 17 to join his mother after his parents' divorce. A few years later, he was graduating with honors from both Columbia and Harvard Law.

A November 2001 internal memo from the staff of current Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill., explained that Estrada was "dangerous" owing to his "minimal paper trail, he is Latino and the White House seems to be grooming him for a Supreme Court appointment."

Consider the blatantly racist analysis — "he is Latino." In other words, conservative plus nonwhite equals "dangerous." It was exactly that kind of thinking that led Senate Democrats to turn the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nomination hearings into an X-rated circus in 1991.

By contrast, a spirited effort against Judge Sotomayor would be in spite of her being Hispanic, not because of it, as was the case with the Democrats' assault on Estrada — the first-ever filibuster of a Court of Appeals nominee.

The National Journal's Stuart Taylor hit the nail on the head over the weekend in an article asking what the reaction would have been had then-Judge Samuel Alito been found to have said the reverse of Sotomayor's claim of Latina judgmental superiority: "I would hope that a white male with the richness of his traditional American values would reach a better conclusion than a Latina woman who hasn't lived that life."

Obviously, he would have been condemned as a white supremacist.

Yet speaking at Berkeley's Law School in 2001, Sotomayor asserted that "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would \[as judge\] more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."

Moreover, Judge Sotomayor is clearly a liberal judicial activist. Speaking to Duke Law School in 2005, she contended that "the Court of Appeals is where policy is made."

She then added jovially that "I know this is on tape and I should never say that because 'we don't make law,' " as she made quotation marks with her hands. "I'm not promoting it and I'm not advocating it. You know . . . ," she added with a grin as the audience laughed.

She confirmed that activism last year in ruling against New Haven firemen victimized by reverse discrimination. Sotomayor was accused by a fellow 2nd District judge — Clinton appointee Jose Cabranes — of issuing a one-paragraph "opinion that lacks a clear statement of either the claims raised by the plaintiffs or the issues on appeal" plus "no reference whatsoever to the constitutional claims at the core of this case."

The Supreme Court is widely expected to reverse her weak decision next month.

Indeed, Sonia Sotomayor's supremely subjective ethos epitomizes the "empathy" President Obama says he wants a justice to espouse.

She could easily end up being the single most liberal justice ever to have sat on the nation's top court — forever seeking opportunities to apply "the richness of her experiences" to "make law," rather than judge.

Lawmakers are not supposed to get lifetime appointments in America; only judges and justices are, because it is presumed they are guided solely by legitimately enacted law — not their biography, ethnic background or raw politics.

That bedrock constitutional principle should guide the fight to stop what may be the most politicized Supreme Court nomination in history.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

RED ALERT: Did anti-Obama campaign contributions dictate which Chrysler dealers were shuttered? By Doug Ross


May 25, 2009

A tipster alerted me to an interesting assertion. A cursory review by that person showed that many of the Chrysler dealers on the closing list were heavy Republican donors.

To quickly review the situation, I took all dealer owners whose names appeared more than once in the list. And, of those who contributed to political campaigns, every single one had donated almost exclusively to GOP candidates. While this isn't an exhaustive review, it does have some ominous implications if it can be verified.

However, I also found additional research online at Scribd (author unknown), which also appears to point to a highly partisan decision-making process.

Consider the partial list of Chrysler dealership owners, listed below. You'll notice that all were opponents of Barack Obama, most through sponsorship of GOP candidates and organizations, but a handful through Barack's Democrat rivals (Hillary Clinton and John Edwards in 2008, for example).

• Vernon G. Buchanan: $147,450 to GOP candidates and organizations
• Wallace D. Alley and Family: $4,500 to GOP.
• Robert Archer: $4,600 to GOP and conservative causes.
• Homer S. Higginbotham and Family: $2950 to GOP.
• James Auffenberg and Family: $28,000 to GOP; $6,000 to one Democrat candidate.
• Michael Maroone and Family: $60,000 to GOP; $8,500 to two Democrat candidates.
• Jerome Fader: $6,500 to Democrats; $2,500 to Independent Joe Lieberman.
• Stephen Fay and Family: $13,500 to GOP.
• William Numrich: $20,000 to GOP.
• Robert Carver: $10,000 to Democrats including $1,950 to Hillary Clinton, nothing to Barack Obama.

• Robert and Linda Rohrman: $24,000 to GOP.
• Frank Boucher, Jr. and Family: $18,000 to GOP, $1,000 to one Democrat candidate.
• Scott Bossier: $4,300 to GOP.
• Todd Reardon: $17,000 to GOP; $2,000 to one Democrat candidate.
• Russ Darrow and Family: $78,000 to GOP.
• Bradford Deery and Family: $24,700 to GOP.
• Charles Gabus and Family: $30,000 to GOP.
• Brian Smith: $15,500 to GOP.
• Michael Schlossman: $14,000 to GOP; $14,000 to three Democrats ($12,500 to Sen. Russ Feingold).
• Don Hill: $11,000 to GOP; $12,800 to conservative incumbent Rep. Heath Shuler.

• Don Miller: $2,000 to GOP; $1,000 to Feingold.
• Eddie Cordes: $2,150 to GOP.
• Robert Edwards: $1,100 to GOP.
• James Crowley: $19,100 to GOP.
• Stanley Graff: $2,200 to John Edwards (2008 Presidential Run); $500 to GOP.
• John Stewart: $10,500 to GOP.
• John Fitzgerald and Family: $4,600 to John McCain (2008); $2,000 to Hillary Clinton (2008); nothing to Barack Obama.
• William Churchill and Family: $3,500 to GOP.
• Thomas Ganley: $9.450 to GOP.
• Gary Miller: $20,000 to GOP.

• Kevin and Gene Beltz: $18,500 to GOP.
• Arthur Grayson: $14,000 to GOP.
• Eric Grubbs and Family: $26,000 to GOP.
• Michael Leep and Family: $19,500 to GOP; $4,800 to three Democrats including Sen. Evan Bayh.
• Harry Green, Jr.: $10,000 to GOP.
• Ronald Hoover: $5,250 to GOP.
• Ray Huffines and Family: $18,500 to GOP.
• John O. Stevenson: $1,500 to GOP.
• James Marsh: $8,200 to GOP.
• Max Pearson and Family: $112,000 to GOP.

I have thus far found only a single Obama donor (and a minor one at that: $200 from Jeffrey Hunter of Waco, Texas) on the closing list.

Chrysler claimed that its formula for determining whether a dealership should close or not included "sales volume, customer service scores, local market share and average household income in the immediate area."

In fact, there may have been other criteria involved: politics may have played a part. If this data can be validated, it would appear to be further proof that the Obama administration is willing to step over any line to advance its agenda.

It bodes poorly for America and the rule of law.

Update: Noteworthy comments from's blogs:

As an employee of one of the affected dealerships... First, this isn't just Chrysler's decision. They were forced into bankruptcy by President Obama. When Chrysler emerges from bankruptcy the Federal Government will be a junior partner in the new Chrysler. This is SOCIALISM! Wake up people! This isn't about business it's about politics and control. My dealership is in the top 125 out of the 3500 plus dealerships nationwide...yet we are on the list. We are not small nor are we rural. We are in a large major metropolitan area. Our new vehicle inventory alone is well over $4.0 million. Is that small? Secondly, Chrysler is already "shopping" for dealers to take over the open "points" (another name for franchise) left by the closed dealerships. Again, you think this is just business. Lastly, and more importantly, every state has franchise law in affect that protect companies from this very thing - being forced out of business under the cloak of bankruptcy with out the benefit of due process. This is illegal!

This is so much more than "just business". This is about control and power by our present administration in Washington. An administration that will stop at nothing to bring complete Socialism to this once great country. Wake up people or get in line now to "drink the Kool-Aid".

I just saw on the list that my local dealership, Wilson Dodge is closing. This is very shocking to me since they are the oldest and most recognized Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep dealer in the metro. This is really sad because these are great people with excellent service...

...There was an interview on the news this evening with the owner of the dealership that is going to be closed in my area where I learned that the DCJ dealership they competed with in my area is factory owned. So, instead of closing their own, they choose to close a successful franchisee. That's #$@?ed up IMO! ...

Update II: Deseret News, 14 May 2009, "Chrysler dealership closures may hurt small-town economies":

"I've been around this forever, and there's no rhyme or reason," Fred Barber, owner of Barber Brothers Motors in Spanish Fork, said Thursday.

...Why were Barber's Chrysler dealership and nine others from Utah among the 789 dealerships nationwide singled out by Chrysler LLC, in bankruptcy-court filings, to be eliminated by June 9? Was there any rhyme or reason to why certain dealerships were selected and others not? What's next for the targeted dealerships, and what will be the ripple effects?

"This is as close to socialism as I've seen — we've got the government running the automotive industry," he added.

Jim Lunt, vice president of Lunt Motor Co. in Cedar City, said employees at his Main Street dealership are anxious, while the owners feel "abandoned."

"It's like they chopped out your legs," Lunt said. "We haven't looked at other manufacturers. We've stuck with Chrysler through thick and thin. You kind of feel like you've been thrown overboard."

Update III: APP, 18 May 2009, "Ousted Chrysler dealers prepare legal fight":

Michael Bernstein, an attorney with Arnold & Porter who represents the Chrysler National Dealer Council, said the dealers may offer a number of objections to the plan in U.S. bankruptcy court, and that the case will enter some uncharted legal territory.

...Bernstein said under bankruptcy law Chrysler would have to show how its "reasonable exercise of business judgment" led to the closing list. While the company cited a bevy of standards by which it chose dealerships, Bernstein said it was noteworthy that Chrysler didn't cite costs.

"There's no cost to Chrysler associated with dealers. Dealers are a source of revenue," Bernstein said. "A lot of people were surprised by the number of dealers Chrysler is proposing to reject..."

Hat tip: Bob. Thanks!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Live Better, Don't Work Union


By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Friday, May 22, 2009 4:20 PM PT

Labor Policy: Card check legislation appears to be dead in Washington. Companies, shareholders and employees don't know how narrowly they missed the financial trouble that comes with a union shop.

Read More: Business & Regulation

The card check bill, with the Orwellian title of Employee Free Choice Act, was an effort by Democrats to make it easier to unionize a company. It would have virtually killed the traditional process for forming a union: the secret ballot in which a majority of voters is needed to approve organization. Under card check, a union would be certified if a simple majority signed the cards used to measure workers' interest in voting on unionization.

Card check would also authorize federal arbitrators to set the terms of an initial contract if the newly formed union and management can't agree on a deal three months after certification.

Should the legislation fail to become law, both workers and owners should be thankful — workers because certifying a union through card check rather than a secret ballot invites intimidation and workplace tension, and businesses because of the risk of our now-pro-union government forcing unfavorable contracts on them.

A new report, moreover, has found another reason to breathe easier: Unionization hurts stock prices.

The National Bureau of Economic Research studied unionized public companies between 1961 and 1999, focusing on stock performance 24 months before their union votes to 24 months after.

It found the average loss per company was $40,500 in 1998 dollars for each worker eligible to vote. Equity values fall, the study concludes, for two reasons: (1) "A combination of a transfer to workers," and (2) "lost profit due to inefficiencies caused by the union."

The losses aren't limited to firms with organized workers. Research indicates a doubling of unionization in the U.S. would "lead to a 4.3% decrease in the equity value of all firms at risk of unionization."

In our era of class envy, some may say falling equity values aren't a problem. But it's not just the rich who are hurt. Retirees depend on their stock and mutual fund investments.

Average families — more than half of America has some type of equity investment — are in the market, both for retirement and present gains. Workers, many of them union members, have invested in the companies that employ them, as well as firms that are subject to the unionization effect identified by the NBER researchers.

Two weeks ago Vice President Joe Biden made the astonishing claim that "We can't achieve a strong middle class without a strong labor movement." Clearly, he isn't paying attention. While it's obvious that unions can help some, but not all, workers on an individual level, organized labor's effect on the overall economy is negative.

• Unions play the role of protector of the working class, but the truth is they are a cartel that shuts potential workers out of jobs. A company that could use 500 workers at a lower nonunion wage instead employs only 400 when it has to pay a higher union wage.

• Unions cut into company profits because they demand — and receive — ever-higher wages and benefits. Multiple studies have found that profits at unionized companies are 10% to 15% lower than those at similar nonunionized companies. This goes on until union demands drive companies out of business. Chrysler and GM, both struggling for their corporate lives, are real-time examples.

• Platinum labor contracts inflate prices for goods and services produced by union shops. This pinches some consumers and causes others to go without. It also discourages investment in those companies and diminishes the value of workers' retirement accounts.

Do these facts align with organized labor's claim that greater unionization through the card check bill will boost middle-class prosperity? Here's hoping that reports of the death of that legislation aren't greatly exaggerated.

Obama is vindicating Bush: In foreign policy, the new president is seeing the wisdom of his predecessor. By Charles Krauthammer


May. 25, 2009

- An unnamed, dismayed human-rights advocate, on legalizing the indefinite detention of alleged terrorists, quoted in the New York Times Thursday

If hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue, then the flip-flops on previously denounced anti-terror measures are the homage President Obama pays to George W. Bush. Within 125 days, Obama has adopted, with only minor modifications, huge swaths of the entire, allegedly lawless Bush program.

The latest flip-flop is the restoration of military tribunals. During the campaign, Obama denounced them repeatedly, calling them an "enormous failure." Obama suspended them upon his swearing-in. Now they're back.

Of course, Obama will never admit in word what he's doing in deed. As in his rhetorically brilliant speech on Thursday claiming to have undone Bush's travesties, the military commissions flip-flop is accompanied by the usual Obama three-step: (a) excoriate the Bush policy, (b) ostentatiously unveil cosmetic changes, (c) adopt the Bush policy.

Cosmetic changes such as Obama's declaration that "we will give detainees greater latitude in selecting their own counsel." Laughable. High-toned liberal law firms are climbing over each other for the frisson of representing these miscreants in court.

What about disallowing evidence received under coercive interrogation? Hardly new, notes former prosecutor Andrew McCarthy. Under the existing rules, military judges have that authority, and they exercised it under the Bush administration to dismiss charges against al-Qaeda operative Mohammed al-Qahtani on precisely those grounds.

On Guantanamo, it's Obama's fellow Democrats who have suddenly discovered the wisdom of Bush's choice. In open rebellion against Obama's pledge to shut it down, the Senate voted 90-6 to reject appropriating a single penny until the president explains where he intends to put the inmates. Sen. James Webb, the de facto Democratic authority on national defense, wants the closing to be put on hold. And on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said no Gitmo inmates on American soil - not even in American jails.

That doesn't leave a lot of places. The home countries won't take them. Europe is recalcitrant. St. Helena needs refurbishing. Elba didn't work out too well the first time. And Devil's Island is now a tourist destination.

Gitmo is starting to look good again.

Observers of all political stripes are stunned by how much of the Bush national-security agenda is being adopted by this new Democratic government. Victor Davis Hanson of the National Review offers a partial list: "The Patriot Act, wiretaps, e-mail intercepts, military tribunals, Predator drone attacks, Iraq [i.e., slowing the withdrawal], Afghanistan [i.e., the surge] - and now Guantanamo."

Jack Goldsmith of the New Republic adds: rendition - turning over terrorists seized abroad to foreign countries; state secrets - claiming them to quash legal proceedings on rendition and other erstwhile barbarisms; and the denial of habeas corpus - to detainees in Afghanistan's Bagram prison, which is indistinguishable logically and morally from Guantanamo.

What does it all mean? Democratic hypocrisy and demagoguery? Sure, but in Washington, opportunism and cynicism are hardly news.

There is something larger at play - an undeniable, irresistible national interest that, in the end, beyond the cheap politics, asserts itself. The urgencies and necessities of the actual post-9/11 world, as opposed to the fanciful world of the opposition politician, present a narrow range of acceptable alternatives.

Among them: reviving the tradition of military tribunals, used historically by George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Winfield Scott, Abraham Lincoln, Arthur MacArthur, and Franklin Roosevelt. And inventing Guantanamo - accessible, secure, offshore, and nicely symbolic (in the tradition of island exile for those outside the pale of civilization) - a quite brilliant choice for the placement of terrorists, some of whom, the Bush administration immediately understood, would have to be detained without trial in a war that could be endless.

The genius of democracy is that the rotation of power forces the opposition to come to its senses when it takes over. When the new guys, brought to power by popular will, then adopt the policies of the old guys, a national consensus is forged and a new legitimacy established.

That's happening before our eyes. The Bush policies in the war on terror won't have to await vindication by historians. Obama is doing it day by day. His denials mean nothing. Look at his deeds.

Charles Krauthammer is a columnist for the Washington Post. His e-mail address is