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Blogger polls: Obama cabinet, and automaker corporate welfare:

The National Journal's latest surveys of left-leaning and right-leaning bloggers are now available. Regarding the auto bailout, almost all left-leaning bloggers support it, provided there are major concessions from management only, or from management plus the unions. Right leaning-bloggers are strongly opposed, although a minority do favor a bailout if there are concessions by everyone. My own view was, "The auto companies and the unions need to renegotiate their retirement and medical programs. A bailout will impede, rather than assist, the necessary restructuring of the auto business."

On the Obama cabinet, the Lefties and Righties both like Treasury Secretary Geithner (a topic on which I was a minority, since he seems poised to continue the Bush policy of corporate welfare for the financial industry). The Right liked Defense Secretary Gates, and the Left liked Secretary of State Clinton. The biggest gap was on Attorney General Holder, who got a B+ from the Left and a D+ from the Right. In light of Obama's primary campaign rhetoric, I thought that the Gates/Clinton duo is a much more hawkish, pro-defense team than might have been expected. As for the Attorney General nominee, I wrote that "Holder served as No. 2 to one of the worst, most lawless attorneys general in U.S. history. His role and his lies in the Elian Gonzalez abduction were despicable." Although the poll didn't ask, I would also put Alberto Gonzalez in the group of "worst, most lawless attorneys general in U.S. history." Thank goodness he's not on the Supreme Court.

Hadur:
Given that the Justice system in this country is being used more and more to accomplish political ends, a blatantly political appointee like Gonzales might be aesthetically preferable to those who attempt to disguise politics under a veil of "disinterest" and "principles".
12.8.2008 12:15pm
Donny:
"Given his campaign rhetoric" should be changed to "given my ideological blinders during the campaign."
12.8.2008 12:23pm
eyesay:
David Kopel quoted himself as saying "Holder served as No. 2 to one of the worst, most lawless attorneys general in U.S. history. His role and his lies in the Elian Gonzalez abduction were despicable."

Kindly describe and document Holder's role and alleged lies in the Elian Gonzalez "abduction", and also indicate whether by "abduction" you are referring to (a) the unilateral taking of the boy out of the country by his mother, apparently without discussing it with the boy's father; (b) the unilateral holding of the boy in a foreign country against the will of the father to have the boy returned to him; or (c) the lawful action to recover the boy from his kidnappers and return him to his father.

Also, please acknowledge that, notwithstanding your criticisms of Janet Reno, recent history records far worse Attorneys General John Mitchell and Richard Kleindienst, in addition to Alberto Gonzalez.

Finally, what laws do you claim that Janet Reno violated, and when?
12.8.2008 12:38pm
runape (mail):
""Given his campaign rhetoric" should be changed to "given my ideological blinders during the campaign.""

Indeed. Care to back up your assertion with evidence, David?
12.8.2008 12:40pm
luagha:
I'm also interested in similar documentation of Alberto Gonzalez's failings as Attorney General, because I would consider him 'weak' as opposed to 'lawless.' (I might also add 'foolish' for not knowing how to properly fire a federal employee.)
12.8.2008 12:45pm
Allan Walstad (mail):
Fascinating how the right wingers, supposed shills for big business, are the ones tending to oppose the bailout.

Obama's picks indicate a substantial shift toward the center. That's politically shrewd, given his modest vote margin over a weak Republican candidate after eight years of a very unpopular Republican presidency. Yet, his leftist base will need at least some red meat. Where's it going to come from? The big public works project, maybe.

Other than that, given his choices of people like Rahm Emanuel and Eric Holder, I wouldn't be surprised if he moves against gun owners, within the broad range of possibilities still open after Heller. The tip-off will be if he reverses the recent change in the rules allowing concealed carry in national parks. Then look for an attempt in Congress to renew the "assault-weapon" ban, as well as re-impose the old "Brady" waiting period on top of the background checks for gun purchases. Only five justices voted to uphold the Second Amendment; I hope they stay healthy and on the job for the next four to eight years.
12.8.2008 12:47pm
Sarcastro (www):
Obama's only laying low till his second term, when he will go full Islam-Marxist-Nazi on us.

Little by little, one by one, these picks will be replaced by anti-American liberals.

Doing it gradually is textbook Alinsky tactics to keep bloggers from putting out polls to stir up Real Americans.
12.8.2008 12:58pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Fascinating how the right wingers, supposed shills for big business, are the ones tending to oppose the bailout.


Not really, people on the political left are generally more likely to prefer creating industrial policy wherein the government tries to direct the market with a combination of regulations and subsidies in order to achieve the “correct” outcome.
12.8.2008 1:03pm
Dick King:

Obama's picks indicate a substantial shift toward the center. That's politically shrewd, given his modest vote margin over a weak Republican candidate after eight years of a very unpopular Republican presidency. Yet, his leftist base will need at least some red meat. Where's it going to come from? The big public works project, maybe.


Card check [will be the leftist base's red meat].

-dk
12.8.2008 1:22pm
Allan (mail):
The companies promised benefits to their employees. Now we want to take them off the hook for it, but leave the shareholders with a chance at a greater profit (with taxpayer help?).

My solution would be that, for every dollar taken from the pension funds and medical care of the employees, those employees are given a dollar's worth of stock.

Would this dilute current shareholder's holdings? You bet it would. But they should be thankful to have any value at all (with the exception of Ford, perhaps).

If the companies survive and thrive, the former employees are better off. If they go under, those employees are no worse off.
12.8.2008 1:31pm
Houston Lawyer:
I believe, in the Elian Gonzalez case, Holder's actions include declaring Elian an illegal alien in order to get a warrant from a magistrate (specifically bypassing the judge who was hearing the case) to arrest him and then, once he was in government hands, declaring him legal again. Most lawyers would recognize this as sleazy conduct.
12.8.2008 1:42pm
autolykos:

The companies promised benefits to their employees. Now we want to take them off the hook for it, but leave the shareholders with a chance at a greater profit (with taxpayer help?).


Why do people say this as if the company willingly promised these benefits to the unions based on the value that was added by the union workers?

The Big 3 offered such generous concessions to the unions because the union thugs coerced them into doing so through threats of strikes, slowdowns and other work stoppages. Since the unions weren't even satisfied with benefits that were affordable based on current operations of the company, they demanded lavish pension and OPEB benefits that the companies could push off into the future.

Quit pretending that this was some kind of willing bargain and recognize the union contracts for what they are - irresponsible and outrageous sums driven by union greed and extracted from auto companies through economic duress.
12.8.2008 1:43pm
Joey Plummer (mail):
One of the economists here can say why this is stupid, but:
The combined market cap of all 3 auto makers is in the neighborhood of $20 billion. Why not just buy them, then restructure them and sell the profitable parts off?
12.8.2008 2:11pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I believe, in the Elian Gonzalez case, Holder's actions include declaring Elian an illegal alien in order to get a warrant from a magistrate (specifically bypassing the judge who was hearing the case) to arrest him and then, once he was in government hands, declaring him legal again. Most lawyers would recognize this as sleazy conduct.

He was picked up at sea. Under the governing regulation ("wet foot dry foot", enforced by Bush as well as Clinton), he doesn't get to adjust his status under the Cuban Adjustment Act. That means he is a Cuban detainee paroled into the country and has no immigration status. That's the law, and we use it to send people (including children) back to Cuba all the time.

Once he was in the rightful custody of his father (not the government), we didn't declare him "legal", but rather gave the father the option to stay under our humanitarian parole laws, which permitted what was at the time the INS to waive the "wet foot dry foot" rule if Juan Gonzalez wanted to stay in the country. He didn't, and voluntarily chose to go back to Cuba with Elian.

In other words, the law was followed at all times, and there was nothing sleazy about it.
12.8.2008 2:16pm
Sarcastro (www):
Elian seems to have weathered Holder's evil deed quite well.
12.8.2008 2:21pm
josh:
"As for the Attorney General nominee, I wrote that 'Holder served as No. 2 to one of the worst, most lawless attorneys general in U.S. history. His role and his lies in the Elian Gonzalez abduction were despicable.'"

Based on my thorough review of Kopel's post, I have come to the conclusion that Kopel will be very unhappy when Eric Holder is appointed Attorney General.
12.8.2008 2:41pm
autolykos:

One of the economists here can say why this is stupid, but:
The combined market cap of all 3 auto makers is in the neighborhood of $20 billion. Why not just buy them, then restructure them and sell the profitable parts off?


Because the associated liabilities (read - union benefits and related obligations) are worth more than the companies.
12.8.2008 2:51pm
David Warner:
Allan,

"My solution would be that, for every dollar taken from the pension funds and medical care of the employees, those employees are given a dollar's worth of stock."

Auto beat me to it. There ain't enough stock, or if it was created, it would be worth less than Confederate Dollars. That's what it means to be bankrupt. They should go to Chapter 11 - that's what it was designed for.
12.8.2008 3:22pm
David Warner:
It might be useful for those who consider themselves to be on the left to keep in mind that in most of the communities in which these union members work, they make more than and have far more generous benefits than the bulk of their neighbors. And they got that way by actively screwing those neighbors who were consumers and/or would-be new hires.

These aren't the tired, huddled masses you're defending
12.8.2008 3:25pm
Jerrod Ankenman:
The companies promised benefits to their employees. Now we want to take them off the hook for it, but leave the shareholdersbondholders with a chance at a greater profit (with taxpayer help?).

FYP.
12.8.2008 3:28pm
Jerrod Ankenman:
There ain't enough stock, or if it was created, it would be worth less than Confederate Dollars.

A quick Google search indicates that most Confederate money is worth more than face value.
12.8.2008 3:30pm
ys:

Sarcastro:
Elian seems to have weathered Holder's evil deed quite well.

You would too, if you were a pampered "pioneer-hero". In Castro's place, how else would you cultivate your own Horst Wessel, Juan Antonio, Pavlik Morozov, or Lu Hulan? Looking forward to Elian's memoirs when the commandantes finally die down.
12.8.2008 3:34pm
ys:
Juan José Antonio
12.8.2008 3:37pm
Houston Lawyer:
More on Elian

I think sleazy still covers it. Jackbooted Thugs is another apt description of how to handle a custody fight in the ugliest possible manner.
12.8.2008 4:05pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Jackbooted Thugs is another apt description of how to handle a custody fight in the ugliest possible manner.

I agree, the people who were trying to prevent Elian from reuniting with his father, and who were spreading anti-government hate and propaganda in the news media, and who were trying to bully dissenters in the community were thugs.

Wait, you meant the government?

Well, let's see, the government rescued a kid from distant relatives who had declared themselves unwilling to follow any lawful custody order and who had an angry mob camped outside their house, who, with the cooperation of local politicians, were willing to try to stop any action to recover the kid and return him to his custodial parent. And they got the kid out of there without firing a shot.

I'd say that's the opposite of thuggish.
12.8.2008 4:51pm
fortyninerdweet (mail):
In my right-wing nutter view if the big 3 aren't driven into some type of "bankruptcy" reorganization now they are just putting off the inevitable - and wasting our money. For Obama particularly this would be the best time for them to redo their business plans and start anew. If not, in less than four years they could bite him badly.

Even if their labor liabilities are humongous I like the idea of some type of "share" compensation for the workers forced into doing this to hold their jobs, and it seems fair to let the current shareholders also "share" in the financial pain. I'm not saying make the adjustment dollar for dollar, but something is better than a national brush-off.
12.8.2008 5:01pm
David Warner:
Jerrod,

"A quick Google search indicates that most Confederate money is worth more than face value."

Then I'm sure you'll be anxious to inform the GM retirees that they'll be required to hold their new stock for 150 years...
12.8.2008 5:43pm
RPT (mail):
"Quit pretending that this was some kind of willing bargain and recognize the union contracts for what they are - irresponsible and outrageous sums driven by union greed and extracted from auto companies through economic duress."

Makes one yearn for the good old days of Manchester in 1850, before workers were pampered through such travesties as 12 hour days and collective bargaining laws and owners could be owners! Why do those blue collar workers want to own their own houses anyway? There are some nice places in Potterville.
12.8.2008 8:06pm
autolykos:

Makes one yearn for the good old days of Manchester in 1850, before workers were pampered through such travesties as 12 hour days and collective bargaining laws and owners could be owners! Why do those blue collar workers want to own their own houses anyway? There are some nice places in Potterville.


Strawmen suck.
12.8.2008 8:37pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Autolykos:

Yes, your strawman sucked.
12.8.2008 8:52pm
Randy R. (mail):
Kopel: " My own view was, "The auto companies and the unions need to renegotiate their retirement and medical programs."

And no doubt that was your exact position when the gov't bailed out AIG and other big firms on Wall Street, right?

Oh, that's right. If the prez of Merrill Lynch wants $10 mill for running his company into the ground, that's perfectly okay. Renegotiating benefits are only for workers, not managers.
12.9.2008 12:21am
autolykos:

Yes, your strawman sucked.


Please look up the word "strawman" or try to learn something about the American auto industry, as you clearly don't understand one of the two. I suggest urbandictionary.com.


Oh, that's right. If the prez of Merrill Lynch wants $10 mill for running his company into the ground, that's perfectly okay. Renegotiating benefits are only for workers, not managers.


You realize all of the Big 3 execs have offered to work for $1 per year, right?
12.9.2008 11:42am
JosephSlater (mail):
Autokylos:

Regarding your use of terms like "union thugs," perhaps "stupid stereotype" would have been more accurate, but trying to pin the blame on unions is still in many ways a strawman. And I'm guessing I know as much about the U.S. auto industry as you do.
12.9.2008 12:04pm
David Warner:
JS,

"union thugs,"

It is true that they haven't recently been thugs. Much. Just small-minded and self-serving.
12.9.2008 12:11pm
autolykos:

Regarding your use of terms like "union thugs," perhaps "stupid stereotype" would have been more accurate, but trying to pin the blame on unions is still in many ways a strawman. And I'm guessing I know as much about the U.S. auto industry as you do.


Perhaps I was rash before. You apparently don't know what a strawman is nor do you understand the history of organized labor as it applies to the auto industry.

And saying the "union thugs" coerced the autos isn't a stereotype. I'm not purporting to characterize all union members, just the union leaders (and their supporters) who thuggishly coerced the autos into paying ridiculously above market wages and benefits. Whether you like the label or not, it's completely apt.
12.9.2008 12:38pm

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