Butch Lugrod’s Manopia

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The GM-Chrysler Debacle

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So, General Motors wants an extra $10 billion from the Federal Government so that it can finance a merger with Chrysler. This is a horrible idea. First, it is the government — my government — financing the destruction of a major American corporation. Those jobs will disappear; maybe not right away, but they are definitely going away. This is not how my tax dollars should be spent.

Second of all, it has yet to be explained to me how exactly this would benefit General Motors. Chrysler has almost no properties that could interest GM. It is generally held that the Jeep line is the crown jewel of the Chrysler lineup, but it is definitely not worth $10 billion. What else can GM point to that would add value to their bottom line?

  • The Dodge Ram? GM already has strong truck lines in the Sierra and the Silverado.
  • The 300? I think Cadillac has this covered.
  • The Dodge Charger or the Challenger? The Camero, Corvette, and Pontiac G8 are probably better.
  • Minivans? There is some value here, but this is a market that is being overtaken by crossovers, of which GM already has a strong lineup.

All that GM would get out of this deal is the cash that Chrysler has left on hand, Jeep, and a bunch of automobile lines which are inferior duplicates of what GM already produces (some are even duplicates within the Chrysler family!)

The American people would lose the following:

  • Jobs(!)
  • $10 billion
  • Choices in the market

Contact your member of Congress and tell them that you oppose this deal.


Written by Butch

October 29, 2008 at 10:53 am

Campaign Finance Hypocrisy

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So, when Republicans raise tons of money, it destroy[s] the last vestiges of democracy, but when Democrats raise truckoads of cash, it is a stunning and unprecedented eruption of political giving?

What a bunch of hooey. I have never heard a good argument for restricting the flow of money into politics, and that is not because I have a conflict of interest (I work in politics.) I believe that our system is completely broken and that our current slate of campaign finance regulations is so convoluted and byzantine, that legislative efforts to restrict the flow of money into the system has only been detrimental to our democracy and our political climate.

I would much rather have an unrestricted flow of funding from individuals, fully disclosed, than a system (like the one we have now) which forces that money into the hands of third party entities and non-profits which do not have to disclose their donor lists. Why are political parties so restricted in the amount of money and spending that they can coordinate with their own damn candidates? But a rogue 527 group can theoretically raise billions, without disclosing the source of a single dime, to run false or misleading advertising in opposition to a candidate?

The solution here is not to place restrictions on these groups; the solution is to free up the parties and candidates from many of these asinine restrictions. In 2008, the requirement to disclose all spending and donors is far more significant than it was in the 1980s and 1990s — it is likely the only requirement that we need. Any private citizen or journalist can peruse those reports on the Federal Election Commission’s web site or any state election commission’s site and bring donors under full democratic scrutiny. Most of these candidates will be self-policing; and in such a climate, you can be sure that the media will put donors under extra scrutiny.

Further restrictions are only going to force that money into even more shady hands. By raising restrictions on parties and candidates, I am willing to bet that you would not see a significant increase in the amount of funding flowing to those groups; but I am equally certain that you would see the funding to unaccountable non-profit groups almost completely dry up.

*UPDATE* This is one of those posts that started out as one thing (mocking the opposition) and turned into something else (a rant against something that hits home with me.) I apologize for the confusion.

Written by Butch

October 21, 2008 at 9:20 am

Posted in politics, rants

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Evergreen Blues

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This has been a particularly wretched year for fans of major sports teams in the State of Washington. A look at the list shows us:

  • University of Washington Football: 0-6
  • Washington State University Football: 1-7
  • Seattle Seahawks: 1-5
  • Seattle Mariners: Reached historic depths of awfulness
  • Seattle Supersonics: Stolen and destroyed; fans left brokenhearted.

There remains a glimmer of hope for Gonzaga men’s basketball, and Cougar men’s hoops might yet surprise. But wow, this has been a disappointing year (though UW and WSU were expected to be pretty wretched, though maybe not quite this bad.)

Losing the Sonics was the biggest blow, though. We have loved that team and stuck with them through the years. We spent millions in tax dollars to bring Key Arena up to the NBA’s supposedly necessary specs, and then were told that this was not good enough. Unless the taxpayers could fork out a couple hundred more million to build a state-of-the-art arena for the team, then there was no way that they could be profitable and would be forced to relocate.

I applaud the state for not bowing to the will of the NBA and ownership — I hope that they set the example for other states who will face this in the future. There are a limited number of cities in this country to which major sports franchises can reasonably relocate, there is no reason at all why they should be held hostage to the ridiculous demands of professional sports teams.

Written by Butch

October 20, 2008 at 11:44 am

Posted in rants, sports

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