Chryslergate: More Evidence of White House Threats


Detroit, Mich. — The scandal over White House threats to Chrysler debt holders got deeper yesterday — and its MSM cover-up more inexcusable — as two more representatives of creditors corroborated lawyer Tom Lauria’s account that the Obama administration threatened them with ruin if they did not accept Chrysler’s restructuring terms giving 55 percent of the company to the UAW.

Media outlets like MSNBC pooh-poohed Lauria’s account over the weekend by noting that Perella Weinberg — the firm allegedly threatened for not taking the administration’s forced deal of 29 cents on their investment dollar — denied the allegation. Others noted that Perella Weinberg had since caved to the administration, and therefore had every reason to deny earlier threats.

But Jim Carney of Business Insider reported Tuesday that “sources familiar with the matter say that other firms felt they were threatened as well. None of the sources would agree to speak except on the condition of anonymity, citing fear of political repercussions.”

“The sources, who represent creditors to Chrysler, say they were taken aback by the hardball tactics that the Obama administration employed to cajole them into acquiescing to plans to restructure Chrysler,” continues the Insider story. “One person described the administration as the most shocking ‘end justifies the means’ group they have ever encountered. . . . Both were voters for Obama in the last election.”

The administration’s bullying tactics are reverberating through the investment world. Cliff Asness, a managing partner at AQR Capital Management, writes that “the President’s attempted diktat takes money from bondholders and gives it to a labor union that delivers money and votes for him. . . . Shaking down lenders for the benefit of political donors is recycled corruption and abuse of power.”

Obama may ultimately win this power play to deliver Chrysler to the UAW. But it is not healthy for Chrysler in the long run. Desperate for investment, Chrysler (and other UAW shops) will be shunned by investors that perceive it is just an extension of the Democrat/UAW mafia that can change contract terms and ride roughshod over the law anytime it wants.

Prince Charles and Kermit the Frog?



It’s the Economy, Stupid


Via Climate Depot, there’s this item in US News & World Report on what America thinks of Al Gore’s global warming crusade:

He admits that it’s counterintuitive, but Gallup Poll Editor Frank Newport says he sees no evidence that Al Gore’s campaign against global warming is winning. “It’s just not caught on,” says Newport. “They have failed.” Or, more bluntly: “Any measure that we look at shows Al Gore’s losing at the moment. The public is just not that concerned.” What the public is worried about: the economy. Newport says the economy trumps the environment right now, a strong indicator that President Obama’s bid to put a cap-and-trade pollution regime into operation isn’t likely to be politically popular.


That’s not to say people aren’t passionate about the issue. But it’s the direction of their passion that will disappoint Gore. Newport says that some 41 percent believe global warming claims are exaggerated, and “that’s the highest we’ve seen.” Ask people to name their biggest concerns, and just 1 percent to 2 percent cite the environment. “The environment doesn’t show up at all,” says Newport.


“It’s Al Gore’s greatest frustration,” says Newport. “We seem less concerned than more about global warming over the years. . . . Despite the movies and publicity and all that, we’re just not seeing it take off with the American public. And that was occurring even before the latest economic recession.”

Are You Now or Have You Ever Been Remotely Sentient?


This is pretty funny, watching an alarmist get the tables turned on him rather nicely with his mindless flailing about past associations with Enron. Trust me: I have withstood the same inane, limp-wristed efforts at guilt-by-association.

The alarmists seem to be rather slow on the uptake that people like me (who left the company) or Rob Bradley (who constantly warned against Enron´s major initiative creating the U.S. global-warming industry and cap-and-trade movement — while greens adopted the hated company’s agenda) come out quite well in this analysis.

Good News for Atkins Dieters



(Selective) Preemptive Denial


Fox News wonders: “Could reduced sunspots be tied to temperatures on Earth?”

That’s what has astrophysicists and meteorologists wondering as the sun enters a prolonged “quiet period,” a deviation from the usual 11-year sunspot cycle in which the dark blobs on our star’s surface ebb and flow, reports National Geographic News.

And there may be a link to global warming — or, in this case, cooling. Current theories link an earlier solar quiet time to the “Little Ice Age,” a cold snap that lasted from about 1300 to 1800 in Europe and North America.

During such “solar minimums,” as they’re called, the sun dims a bit, magnetic activity is reduced and solar storms are fewer. No one knows how long each will last until it’s over.

The Maunder Minimum, a period of extremely low sunspot activity from about 1645 to 1715, coincided with the coldest part of the Little Ice Age, when Dutch canals regularly froze during the winter.

This past January, the Dutch canals again froze, for the first time in 16 years.

But scientists say it may be too early to tell if this solar minimum will really have a prolonged effect.

“There are many uncertainties,” Jose Abreu, a doctoral candidate in Switzerland, tells National Geographic News. “We don’t know the sensitivity of the climate to changes in solar intensity. In my opinion, I wouldn’t play with things I don’t know.

Fox was inspired by this item from National Geographic — entitled “Sun Oddly Quiet–Hints at Next ‘Little Ice Age’?” — and dutifully reproduces NatGeo’s (perfectly legitimate) scientific caution not to make too much of short-term climate events:

[R]esearchers are on guard against their concerns about a new cold snap being misinterpreted.

“[Global warming] skeptics tend to leap forward,” said Mike Lockwood, a solar terrestrial physicist at the University of Southampton in the U.K.

He and other researchers are therefore engaged in what they call “preemptive denial” of a solar minimum leading to global cooling.

If only the warmists’ favored spokesmen played by that rule.

In any case, the latest SOHO image of the sun (from Sunday, fittingly):


Shady Solar in Sicily


From yesterday’s Financial Times [registration required]:

Like giant sentinels, dozens of wind turbines straddle the mountain ridges near Sicily’s infamous mafia stronghold of Corleone. But despite a strong breeze rippling the leaves in groves of olive and fig trees, the soaring blades of the turbines have stood motionless for over a year.

Further west, near the port of Trapani and the ancient hill-top town of Salemi, two more wind farms are similarly frozen.

Just who approved, built and sold these renewable energy projects, which were developed on the basis of public subsidies, has become the subject of investigation for Sicily’s anti-Mafia magistrates, who are trying to keep track of organised crime’s latest bid to move into mainstream business.

As one official put it: “Sicily is blessed with sun and wind, but it is also cursed by the Mafia.”

Multinationals are starting to find out something that is well known to Italian investors: that concealed beneath Europe’s most generous system of incentives — supported by “green credits” that industrial polluters have to purchase — there exists a web of corruption and shady deals
More from FT.

The Junkman Disheth


Even before hearing what the National Council for a New America had to say, I was unimpressed with the rollout. Having caught a glimpse of Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush, and Eric Cantor on the tube, I Googled the group’s name. It was buried on Eric Cantor’s website (it has since moved higher on the Google results page, at least), under the name We the People. So which is it, gents? WtP or NCNA?

Green Hell author Steve Milloy is no more impressed with the group’s energy platform.

The NCNA has a platform that differs from the hydras only in that it is the lite version of “leave no government program behind.” Though the NCNAs couldn’t defeat Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, perhaps two of the most unpopular Congressional leaders ever, or Barack Obama, the least-experienced-and-most-socialist major party presidential candidate of all time, they think they’re up to fixing the economy, healthcare, education, energy, and national security through more government. Let’s look at what NCNA says about energy, one of this blog’s main issues:

American families and businesses cannot afford an energy policy where we are held hostage by foreign oil cartels and dictators. As a nation, we can no longer send billions of dollars overseas each year, often to countries that help fund our enemies. We must implement a comprehensive energy policy that includes traditional fuels, alternative energy, and conservation resulting in affordable, reliable domestic energy. Such a policy will stabilize costs for families and businesses while at the same time creating much-needed jobs here at home.

If the NCNAs knew anything about energy they’d know that we’re not being held hostage by “foreign oil cartels and dictators” — we’re being held hostage by domestic rent-seeking energy cartels and green dictators. We don’t need a “comprehensive policy” that interferes destructively with free markets. Rather, we need open energy markets that are able to choose workable energy solutions and deliver them at competitive prices. Free market prosperity creates good jobs — pork-barreling congressmen create non-productve bureaucracy. We don’t send money to fund our enemies. We buy oil on the open market. It’s called trade. BTW, our “enemies” will get our money anyway — through Chinese oil purchases.

Re: The Obama Energy Tax


Hey, if they think they can rebrand cap-and-trade as “cap and cash back” . . .

[Uh, back to whom? What, is this like an Obama Discover card? Get five cents in imaginary economic and environmental benefits for every dollar you spend? (Only don't read the fine print, where the $3,900 annual fee is listed)]

 . . . we can call it the Obama Energy Tax.

The Obama Energy Tax


Here’s Chris Horner (that lucky dog), in an on-air interview with Megyn Kelly, discussing the growing Democratic resistance to the Obama Energy Tax.

In Need of Rebranding


Via Benny Peiser, 24/7 Wall Street’s “Is Obama’s Cap and Trade Dying on the Vine?”

One of the Obama proposals to fight global warming and climate change may be up against the ropes. This is emissions trading, or what the media calls “cap and trade.” There are many who consider this type of emissions trading to be the Holy Grail, and there are many who claim it does nothing other than create a business expense or hidden tax. It could represent a huge new market for the IntercontinentalExchange, Inc. (NYSE: ICE) and the CME Group Inc. (NYSE: CME), as well as Climate Exchange plc (OTC-CXCHF) as the owner of the Chicago Climate Exchange. Climate Exchange plc (LSE: CLE.L) is an AIM listed company which owns the world’s leading environmental exchanges.

We think that it is probably too early to call “cap & trade” a dead idea. But what is looking more likely is that at best what will be headed to a Congressional vote is a greatly watered-down version of cap & trade. If a watered-down version does not come first, then we have many reasons to believe that this may be an issue to debate in 2011 rather than 2009.

The Australians have been thought of as being more economical and sensible on this issue than Americans, and now they appear to be struggling with [the] cap and trade issue. The Australian government has now delayed its carbon emissions trading plan to 2010 after industry demands and pressure for more relief during a recession.

Cap and Trade could be dead, or if it is not dead it looks like the stage has been set for a watered-down version of it. Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE: BRK-A) feels it is “monstrously stupid to do right now.” That is what Vice Chairman Charlie Munger told CNBC’s Becky Quick why a carbon cap and trade system won’t work. “Almost demented” was how he referred to it based upon what China and others are doing. He thinks a different solution is needed such as the grid and he noted about the alternative energy solutions.

By the looks of it, climate contract values at the CCX look significantly lower than before, although there are other contracts that can be evaluated. There is also an INTRADE “Prediction Market” for “Cap and Trade.” While these contracts are very thinly traded, they do offer at least some insight into whether or not this becomes a real US market before the end of 2009, 2010, and even to 2011. . . .

The plans under the Obama administration appear to be coming into a bit more of a prioritization after the first 100 days in office. The economy and all the problems with the banking sector, a budget and new tax plan, a war transfer from Iraq back to Afghanistan, and a push for some form of nationalized healthcare are a higher priority.

What that will end up being is not yet known. If this does not come about during this year, then we are likely looking to beyond 2010 for any mandatory cap and trade. That would coincide with “after the 2010 elections” and that would be based upon the outcome of how many seats in the House and Senate will actually change. If the Democrats win more seats in 2010 and if Obama’s popularity holds up, then the cap and trade would have a much higher chance of being formalized in 2011.

If things turn downward for the administration, then a mandatory cap and trade market in the U.S. is probably going to get a new name of sorts. The CCX will continue to have a place. Currently it is voluntary and is full of many of the world’s largest utilities, manufacturers, power utilities, and more. This allows firms to voluntarily purchase these contracts as an offset to their carbon production.

The camps on those in favor and those against are as far as apart as ever. Many argue that it does nothing to discourage pollution. In that argument, the stance is that this merely drives the price of business and taxes higher because the higher cost will get passed down to end users to pay for it. There is even the argument that it just creates a financial market that allows businesses to just keep polluting by paying for it rather than getting EPA fines and having to face the negative publicity of that.

The arguments for it center around the financial impact creating an environment where companies are financially forced to lower emissions. This money used above each buyer’s carbon cap could therefore be used to foster cleaner operations with lower emissions.

By the look and feel of this, it sounds like we’ll be debating the “cap and trade” issue longer than we’ll be trading off it. At least on any mandatory basis.

Reading the Russian Tea Leaves


Texas Tea, that is. Black gold.

Here’s an interesting post over at the Environmental Capital blog from the WSJ on Russian oil production. In summary, analysts don’t believe the Russian numbers — which might give OPEC the production cuts it’s looking for to raise prices.

Hope and Change . . . or Else


In this post, I think Greg has stumbled onto Obama’s 2012 campaign slogan: Buy a hybrid, or you’re fired.

Given the fact that the Obama administration has shown itself willing to resort to threats to get its way (as Henry Payne notes here), and the fact that their economic plan seems to be to have a majority of Americans working for the federal government within a few years, I wish this were more clearly a joke.

Changes Coming to the Ethanol Industry?


The WSJ reports today:

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Tuesday will step up efforts to increase the availability of ethanol at filling stations and to speed up subsidies to struggling biofuel producers. But the trade-off is that the administration is also expected to propose a rule that could make certain biofuels look less climate-friendly.

At a news conference led by the heads of the Agriculture Department, Energy Department and Environmental Protection Agency, the administration is expected to announce the creation of an interagency group that will be charged with forging a plan to encourage the production of more automobiles that can run on high-level ethanol blends, and increase the availability of high-level ethanol blends at gasoline stations.

President Barack Obama is also expected to direct the Agriculture Department to expedite the awarding of loan guarantees to support the development and construction of more biofuel refineries.

But at the same time, the EPA is expected to propose measuring the greenhouse-gas emissions associated with biofuel production — including emissions that result overseas when farmers world-wide respond to higher food prices by converting forest and grassland to cropland. The EPA decision could undercut the environmental rationale the ethanol industry has used to sustain support for its government subsidies.

In an effort to ease the sting of Tuesday’s announcement, the administration scheduled a news conference to discuss not only the EPA rulemaking but also what it called Mr. Obama’s “commitment to advance biofuels research and commercialization.”

The question of whether biofuels help or harm the climate has been heating up for months in scientific, corporate and environmental circles. A study published last year in the journal Science found that U.S. production of corn-based ethanol increases emissions by 93% compared with using gasoline, when expected world-wide land-use changes are taken into account.

Buy American . . . or You’re Fired


From the LA Times “Top of the Ticket” blog:

You’ve got to admire James Fouts and his eagerness to start a courtroom brawl.

The mayor of Warren, Mich., has issued an executive order requiring that all political appointees drive an American-made car. For those who now drive a Honda or a Lexus? Get shopping.

According to Fouts, they have to guarantee that their next car purchase will be a vehicle made by General Motors, DaimlerChrysler or Ford.

To those who don’t want to make the switch?

“They can find another place to work,” Fouts said.

What’s next? Buy a hybrid or you’re fired?

The Health Hazards of Twisty Light Bulbs


Via, there’s this report from the Times of London:

WHEN British consumers are compelled to buy energy-efficient lightbulbs from 2012, they will save up to 5m tons of carbon dioxide a year from being pumped into the atmosphere. In China, however, a heavy environmental price is being paid for the production of “green” lightbulbs in cost-cutting factories.

Large numbers of Chinese workers have been poisoned by mercury, which forms part of the compact fluorescent lightbulbs. A surge in foreign demand, set off by a European Union directive making these bulbs compulsory within three years, has also led to the reopening of mercury mines that have ruined the environment.

Doctors, regulators, lawyers and courts in China — which supplies two thirds of the compact fluorescent bulbs sold in Britain — are increasingly alert to the potential impacts on public health of an industry that promotes itself as a friend of the earth but depends on highly toxic mercury.

‘Threatened by the White House’


Tony Soprano, meet Barack Obama.

The Obama administration’s War on Capital — as National Review’s editors have aptly named it — claimed its first victim last week, as the lawyer for the investment firm Perella Weinberg Partners says it was threatened by the White House into accepting a deal for a measly 29 cents on their investment dollar.

“One of my clients was directly threatened by the White House and in essence compelled to withdraw its opposition to the deal under threat that the full force of the White House press corps would destroy its reputation if it continued to fight,” lawyer Tom Lauria told Detroit radio host Frank Beckmann Friday. Lauria later said the brass knuckles belonged to White House Auto Task Force leader Steve Rattner.

In short, take da deal or we break yer legs.

Lauria’s account t raises more than a few troubling questions. The White House naturally denied the threat, but the extraordinary intervention of the President of the United States in bankruptcy negotiations is intimidation enough. Obama unloaded on these creditors last week, accusing them of being “speculators” out to destroy an American industrial icon. Those bullying words come from a man who has the power of the IRS and the SEC at his disposal, not to mention the bully pulpit.

We’d hate to see anybody break anything in your office.

But Lauria’s account should also shame the Washington press corps which by Lauria’s account is nothing but a trained Democratic Rottweiler (“the full force of the White House press corps”) that the administration can set loose on its enemies any time it feels the urge.

The Chrysler episode is a disturbing sign of how far this president is willing the bend the law — and the truth — to satiate the demands of a major Democratic special interest, the UAW, which makes out like a bandit in the Chrysler deal, winning 55 percent of the company (the expected investment return, apparently, of committing $25 million to Democratic candidates over the last 20 years).

When asked by Beckmann to counter Obama’s claim that the bondholders refused to make “sacrifices and worked constructively,” Lauria responded that “contrary to what the president said in his news conference,” the bondholders agreed to take a haircut of 50 cents of their investment dollar.

In other words, the president lied.

What’s Russian for ‘Drill, Baby, Drill?’


To paraphrase Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin impression, “I can see Russia’s Arctic nuclear-powered drilling rigs from my house!”

Re: The Great NYC Tsunami


Reader Craig sends this in regarding this post:

A number of vulcanologists and tsunami experts theorize that the La Palma volcano in the Canary Islands could be the source of both past and future major landslides which would result in a major Atlantic tsunami all along the eastern American seaboard. See:

Well, it can’t be said that NRO and Jonah Goldberg didn’t warn everyone.



Here’s the New York Post today on New York City electric bills. Wait until the Obama Energy Tax takes effect . . . :

A shocking 22 percent of a typical city apartment dweller’s Con Ed electric bill goes to a battery of city, state and federal taxes under a new state rate schedule that kicks in this month, a Post analysis found.

People who burn 250 kilowatt hours of electricity per month — what a 750-square-foot apartment might use when air conditioners are turned off — will see their bills jump 4 percent starting this month, assuming electric generating costs stay constant.

A big part of that jump is going to a 31 percent boost in Con Ed’s property taxes, a 16 percent hike in the company’s state and federal income taxes, and a sixfold boost in one of the state’s utility taxes, which is rising from 0.33 percent to 2 percent, The Post’s analysis shows.

After those levies are toted up in the bill, the city plops some whipped cream onto this tax sundae by imposing 2.35 percent tax on the company’s gross receipts that Con Ed passes on to customers.

Then comes the maraschino cherry on top: The whole package is slapped with a 4 percent state sales tax — which in part taxes taxes elsewhere in the bill.


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