Repost-‘From The Detroit News: ‘How The Treasury, GM Stock Deal Got Done’

Full post here.

‘Geithner has long wanted to exit GM soon, wanting to get out of the business of owning a large stake in an automaker. Some GM officials worried that after Geithner leaves in January, reaching a deal could have taken months, but Treasury officials disagreed.

Before the November election, the Obama administration had showed no interest in disposing of its 26.5 percent stake in GM — or 500 million shares — it had acquired in 2009 as part of GM’s bankruptcy restructuring.’

Over six years ago, when GM stock was selling at $2 a share and the debt-holders had been wiped out, this blog put up the video below.  Here’s a brief 2:00 min explanation by Bill Ackman of Pershing Square on why the GM bailout was likely a bad idea:

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Certain people benefitted more than they would have otherwise, of course, like the UAW and it’s fair to say the Obama administration which needed the votes in Ohio to get reelected, but others, including investors who risked their own money, and the taxpayers, most of whom didn’t have a say beyond their votes, lost money.  Obama, as politicians are wont to do, pretty clearly waited until after the election to quietly make the sale.

ZeroHedge has more here, and has been following the process for awhile.

My guess is Obama will try and maneuver away from the coming tax and regulatory fallout upon ordinary taxpayers, small businesses, and consumers from Dodd-Frank and Obamacare as it all begins to rain down.

The money has to come from somewhere, and it’s coming from you and me, through inflation, higher taxes, higher prices with costs passed down to the consumer, for starters.

My non-economist two cents.

Addition:  David Harsanyi at Reason has more.  Non-union employees pensions got raided and taxpayers foot the bill, so that Obama and the UAW can maintain power.

The Conventional Wisdom Machine May Be Broken-Some Sunday Culture War Links

Via Pejman Yousefzadeh via Dylan Byers:-From The AP Press: ‘8 Ways The Obama Administration Is Blocking Information:’

Those czars have to report back to central command, I imagine, and it’s worthy of note that this is the AP making a specific list of charges:

6) One of the media — and public’s — most important legal tools, the Freedom of Information Act, is under siege. Requests for information under FOIA have become slow and expensive. Many federal agencies simply don’t respond at all in a timely manner, forcing news organizations to sue each time to force action.

7) The administration uses FOIAs as a tip service to uncover what news organizations are pursuing. Requests are now routinely forwarded to political appointees. At the agency that oversees the new health care law, for example, political appointees now handle the FOIA requests.

The modern Presidency is full of ‘optics,’ but the current White House is very invested in how the President is seen, spurning media outlets for its own carefully planned PR photos and branding.  When all that PR meets reality….well:

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Behold a trailer for an episode of the original Star Trek. Catspaw’:

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Moving along, Amity Shlaes offers a critique of Ken Burns’ new documentary on the Roosevelts, and the political philosophy that often leaks through:

‘On the surface, the series’ penchant for grandees might seem benign, like the breathless coverage of Princess Kate’s third trimester in People magazine. In this country, elevating presidential families is a common habit of television producers; the Kennedys as dynasty have enjoyed their share of airtime. Still, Burns does go further than the others…’

More substance at the link. The Roosevelts earn a special place in the modern pantheon, greater than that of the Kennedys, much more intellectual than the John Lennon pathos, more old-timey than the righteousness of 60’s coalitions and Woodstock nostalgia, and more native and local than the obsessive Royal Baby Watching.

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In the above video Burns discusses how he is primarily an artist, not an historian. He does, believe, however, that his work has other goals besides art. He sees himself as:

“…rooted in a humanist tradition of American History..that includes not just the old top down version, but the bottom up version that acknowledges women and labor and minorities….”

I’m guessing such a vision of the public good acts as a beacon for many at PBS, NPR, and other people interested in speaking for all of the public. Usually they end up, like all of us, presuming their ideals are universal and forming coalitions of self-interest, money, sentiment, political influence etc.  Their ideals have clear limitations and consequences.

Who among us can speak for all the public, or design some rational framework upon epistemological foundations that could ever do so?

To my ears, it’s pretty clear Burns’ ideals lead him to his own top-down version of things.  It would seem Big Labor, Left-liberal Woody Guthrie-like populism, coalitions of 60’s activists, feminists, environmentalists etc. tend to prosper under such a vision.

At what cost to me, to you, to those who might not share in the ideals?

Addition:  Shlaes’ suggestion seems correct.  Burns has done a lot of work to put this piece together, to tell a story and to also try and get many facts right.  It may also focus on some issues and not others, may be biased and examining history through an ideological lens. In a competitive marketplace of ideas, it’s incumbent on opposing points of view to offer their own films that do the same.

Get busy.

Related On This Site:  What about black people held in bondage by the laws..the liberation theology of Rev Wright…the progressive vision and the folks over at the Nation gathered piously around John Brown’s body?: Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’……Robert George And Cornel West At Bloggingheads: “The Scandal Of The Cross”

I’m drafting on Charles Murray: The Hoover Institution Via Youtube: Charles Murray On ‘Coming Apart’

Free speech and Muslimst From Kenanmalik.com: ‘Introduction: How Salman Rushdie Changed My Life’… Via YouTube: ‘Christopher Hitchens Vs. Ahmed Younis On CNN (2005)’…  Mohammad Cartoonist Lars Vilks HeadbuttedDuring Lecture’From The OC Jewish Experience: ‘UC Irvine Muslim Student Union Suspended’From Volokh: ‘”South Park” Creators Warned (Threatened) Over Mohammed’… More From Spiegel Online After The Westergaard Attacks Via A & L Daily: ‘The West Is Choked By Fear’

A Few Thoughts On NPR And Current Liberal Establishment Thinking Under Obama

From FIRE.org-’Federal Government Mandates Unconstitutional Speech Codes At Colleges And Universities Nationwide’

Greg Lukianoff At FIRE.Org: ‘Emily Bazelon And The Danger Of Bringing “Anti-Bullying” Laws To Campus’

Ross Douthat From His Blog At The NY Times: ‘The Democrats’ Identity Politics Problem’

Full post here.

On the topic of race:

‘This kind of ethnic/racial patronage is hardly a new thing in our politics, and it doesn’t make today’s liberals the “real” racists, or prove that President Obama is actually some kind of post-colonial score-settler, as the Michael Moores of right-wing identity politics are wont to claim. But it does means that when it comes to exploiting America’s ethnic divisions to mobilize key constituencies, today’s Democratic Party sins as much as it is sinned against.’

Keep in mind Douthat is writing at the NY Times during an election season which has arguably the furthest Left president in recent memory facing a terrible economy.  This same president has promoted members of the old Civil Rights apparatus to some of the highest reaches of government.  Patronage is a word that comes to mind.  The moral arguments used against slavery in big-State progressivism become weapons, and as is the case in politics, such weapons will be used to protect any advantage, or perceived advantage.

In this blog’s opinion, the NY Times will likely continue on a journey which has rendered it particularly ideologically narrow.  I think many people at the Times are right to lament to loss of ‘objectivity’ in journalism, the importance of editors, fact-checking and shoe-leather reporting.  Yet, they’ve had a big hand in their own undoing.  It’s difficult to trust the Times’ coverage of finance, politics and foreign affairs which shares a newsroom with knee-jerk support for feminist causes, global warming, identity politics and those sad stragglers echoing the rise of New Left, the Occupy movement.

To break up Douthat’s paragraph for emphasis:

‘And it means that the Democrats’ struggle to reach Klein’s “plain old white insurance salesman” and the Republicans’ struggle to reach Hispanics and African-Americans are in some sense mirror images of one another. They’re both a consequence of party leaders taking the path of least resistance on racially-charged issues, and they’re both reminders of the hard truth that the more racially diverse America of the future could easily become, and remain, a more polarized society as well.’

A great nation deserves great racial politics, and great journalists to deliver racial politics.

Related On This Site:  God and continental philosophy…regulated markets and progressive liberation theology?: Robert George And Cornel West At Bloggingheads: “The Scandal Of The Cross”Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’

William Saletan and Ross Douthat At Slate: ‘Liberalism Is Stuck Halfway Between Heaven And Earth’…Douthat’s The Grand New PartyRoss Douthat At First Principles: ‘The Quest for Community in the Age of Obama: Nisbet’s Prescience’

Still reliving the 60′s?: A Few Thoughts On Robert Bork’s “Slouching Towards Gomorrah”

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From Bloggingheads: “Michael Lind Discusses His New Book ‘Land Of Promise'”

Full diavlog here.

Lind, a co-founder of the New America Foundation, advocates a return to thinking about America in terms of the  Hamiltonian and Jeffersonian traditions, particularly in the hopes of resuscitating a Hamiltonian nationalism for Democrats (he used to be a conservative some decades ago).

A brief summmary of the discussion:  -At the time of our founding, Hamiltonians wanted government to intervene on behalf of business (Hamilton was the 1st secretary of the Treasury and had a big hand in the Federalist Papers). Big banks and a strong central institution managing the banks was the model. Hamiltonians were generally more cosmopolitan and wanted a stronger Federal structure on many levels, including many more taxes and tarriffs to regulate most economic activity. They weren’t generally advocates of free trade either (partly because Hamilton thought free trade gave the Crown too much power, and the colonies needed to be protected and organize a stronger response to it).

-Jeffersonians, on the other hand, wanted government to intervene mostly to protect individual liberty and smaller entities.  They thought the Hamiltonians were too comfortable with the aristocratic and monarchic methods they were implenting through Federalism (re-creating the conditions that led the colonies to revolt against the Crown).  Jeffersonians were more agrarian (the city corrupts, banks abstract people from honest labor) and generally supported States and individual rights against the Federalists.

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On Lind’s view, both groups have used the government to serve the interests of the people throughout our history and it’s the Hamiltonians who primarily have been successful.   Furthermore, we’re on the cusp of a Fourth Republic (he explains his reasoning, of which I remain skeptical, here).  So, in addition to being at the end of the third incarnation of our Constitutional Republic (incarnations which have always begun after a war) from which a fourth will be born, we’re also ending a cycle of Jeffersonian ascendancy and we need a team of Hamiltonian-types (Democrats, presumably) to build anew.  Lind is ready with some policy prescriptions as well.

In fact, at the end of the diavlog, he advocates permanent federal employment programs for low skilled people in order to get back to where we were in the 1950’s regarding income inequality.  The jobs that aren’t coming back need to be created and subsidized by government in our globally competitive economy.  He also advocates for federal work subsidies in say, the mining industry, which has lost jobs due to automation (now much less labor intensive) in order to get people working where we’ll need them in, say, home health-care.

For Lind, government is the lever to direct individuals’ lives by directing economic activity and ultimately managing and driving economic growth. Deep down, it seems the social contract is one for Lind in which he might have trouble with people voluntarily directing their own lives, and managing their own self-interest, apart from these structures.

Here’s a line from David Leonhardt’s NY Times review of the book:

‘The chapters on the most recent years are a fairly standard liberal version of events, with deregulation and modern finance as the main antagonists.’

Indeed.

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Lind also has little patience for libertarians, regards them as extreme, and busy importing the struggles of Central Europe through Friedrich Hayek, the Austrians (heavy on philosophy and metaphysics), and the Chicago School to the detriment of where the real action is:  the two party American system which can revisit previous economic successes through greater government direction within a Hamiltonian federalist structure.

Many libertarians I know understand themselves to be inheritors of the true classical liberal tradition (there is an anarchic libertarian tradition as well), because socially, politically, and economically, the modern American Left has unable to uphold the values libertarians see as central to a liberal society.  Partially, this is because the Left has also been deeply influenced by Continental ideas, including many actual Communists, Marxists, Neo-marxists, the New Left and the “personal is political” crowd.  Such folks are not exactly Hamiltonians.  We’ve also seen the rise of modernism, post-modernism, and moral relativism especially in our universities, all of which have done much to erode many religious and cultural traditions that tend to preserve individual liberty and the Jeffersonian outlook.  Perhaps such libertarian bulwarks are needed against the collectivist and sometimes authoritarian impulses within much of modern liberalism.  I don’t think Lind has convinced me at all such thinking isn’t useful, at the very least.

Generally, these classical libertarians also champion individual liberty, the autonomy of the individual and the vital connection between economic and personal liberty.  This often puts them in greater alliance with modern conservatives (in the Jeffersonian, Republican tradition) than liberals.  It also puts them at odds with religious conservatives in many cases, and anyone who would use the laws to infringe upon their definition of liberty.

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This blog remains skeptical of the political and philosophical ideas that promote a redistribution of wealth or resources beyond a very limited scope for government, because it’s not clear that less injustice results, nor more equality, nor even more freedom, except for some who are in charge as they pursue their own self-interest and others in their wake becoming dependent upon and molded by that system.  Lind argues otherwise.

Any thoughts and comments are  welcome, as I’m aware I haven’t responded directly to much of what is essentially, a book on American economic history and current politics, but it has policy implications, especially for the Left and where Lind might want to take the Democratic party.

A review at the New Republic here.

Thomas Jefferson closed his inaugural address of 1801—which was made possible by Hamilton’s continuing influence over the defeated Federalist Party—by reminding his congressional audience that “We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists.” It may also be the case that we are all Hamiltonians, all Jeffersonians, and that, for better or worse, this is a part of the genius of our American system.

Related On This Site:  The voluntary exchanges that occur between people pursuing their own self-interest in the marketplace has been the greatest driver of human freedom and the greatest liberator from the natural human conditions of poverty, privation and want, according to Milton Friedman.  He merges Adam Smith’s invisible hand and Thomas Jefferson’s liberty and separation of powers, including other influences:  Free To Choose

Noam Chomsky also shares a view that the individual ought to be free to enter into voluntary cooperative action (community councils or faculties in universities), but believes that to be achieved by perhaps only anarchy (where he retreats) or anarcho syndicalism, or libertarian socialism.  I don’t find anarchy to be tenable in protecting individual liberty.  Via Youtube: (1 of 3) Kant, Chomsky and the Problem of Knowledge.

Leo Strauss may not have been a believer, but he did want the individual to be free from the structures that developed in Europe these past centuries.  The triumph of Reason (historicism and positivism which lead to relativism and nihilism) over some form of Revelation, or revealed truth.  From Darwinian Conservatism By Larry Arnhart: “Surfing Strauss’s Third Wave of Modernity”

Robert Nozick merged elements of Kant and Locke into a strong, libertarian defense of the individual, and also responded to Rawls distributive justice: A Few Thoughts On Robert Nozick’s “Anarchy, State and Utopia”From Slate: ‘The Liberty Scam-Why Even Robert Nozick, The Philosophical Father Of Libertarianism, Gave Up On The Movement He Inspired.’

A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”

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Ronald Bailey At Reason’s Hit & Run: ‘Are Republicans or Democrats More Anti-Science?’

Full piece here

A bold statement, but it’s a political football at the moment:

‘On the specific issues discussed above, I conclude that the Republicans are more anti-science. However, I do also agree with Berezow that scientific “ignorance has reached epidemic proportions inside the Beltway.’

Meanwhile, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array telescope in Chile is just coming on line.  Video at the link.

Related On This SiteRonald Bailey At Reason: “I’ll Show You My Genome. Will You Show Me Yours?”… There’s science and there’s science education. Isn’t Dennett deeper than that? From The Access Resource Network: Phillip Johnson’s “Daniel Dennett’s Dangerous Idea’Repost-Steven Weinberg’s Essay ‘On God’ In The NY Times Review Of Books

Maybe if you’re defending religion, Nietzsche is a problematic reference: Dinesh D’Souza And Daniel Dennett at Tufts University: Nietzsche’s Prophesy…

There’s plenty of scientism on the Left as well.  Don’t immanentize the eschaton!: From The NY Times: ‘Atheists Sue to Block Display of Cross-Shaped Beam in 9/11 Museum’

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Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest Online: ‘Kausismo Or Death: Dems Face Tough Choices Past 2010’

Full piece here.

Mead argues that Democrats, much like Republicans, will have to face more of the structural problems in D.C., and in order to do so, they’ll have to serve the people. Thus, he argues the people are not served by the typical Democratic political interests (unions, special interest groups, the pork in TARP).

‘But in the longer term, the Democrats will have to choose between the public sector union movement and the American people as a whole.  President Obama’s election gave Dems a brief, euphoric moment of hope, but that has long since faded away.’

Comments are worth a read.  Democrats will probably have their own take on their prospects.

Related On This Site: Walter Russell Mead’s New Book On Britain and America..Repost-Lawrence Lessig At Bloggingheads: ‘Fixing Our Broken System?’…….Fareed Zakaria BBC Interview: America In Decline

Anti-union and anti-immigration?-Full video and background on Mickey Kaus here.  How would he stand on free trade and protectionism?

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