Thursday, April 30, 2009

Remaking America?

With Red Ink...

A sustainable, upwardly mobile middle class is what we have come to expect in this country. Now for the first time in my nearly fifty years I wonder if I was just dreaming all this time or if reality has just up and died.

Stories of Obama's grand plans to remake America blanket the media as we pass the 100 day mark of his tenure. I tend to agree that the debt based growth model we have been embarked on is essentially unsustainable. Consumption for consumption's sake seems perverted. Consumption based on the notion that we are building something better is noble and just.

The way it stands now we consumers borrow the money to buy products made in foreign lands by foreign labor so that our government can sell interest bearing bonds to foreign governments to fund social service programs to care for those without meaningful work. It leaves the consumer with a pile of personal debt and the government with mountains of red ink all the while tax and regulatory policies are literally pushing American businesses to move their operations overseas. It's insane.

Nothing I've seen from the Obama White House and the Democratically controlled Congress is giving me any hope they have any idea what to do to "fundamentally" change America for the better.

The laws on the books that have encouraged American companies to set up operations overseas were written for a different time and for a different set of conditions. In the 1960's when America was embroiled in an ideological global war with the Soviets it was right to spread American business to the four corners of the earth. It was the smart thing to do. Times have changed but the outdated laws remain. So America's working class suffers...

One can't really blame business - it is not about loyalty to a nation or the homeland it's about loyalty to shareholders and profits. It would be a bad business decision to ignore the way the laws and regulations are set up on the basis national loyalty alone. Corporate taxes (the 2nd highest tax rates in the world), regulations and outdated labor costs make it difficult for American business to compete with foreign based companies for the American consumer dollar. Greener pastures are sought. In many cases American based multinational corporations have relied on growing consumerism outside the U.S. for growth - and it has worked - for a while. As we have seen with this recession that foreign factories and importer/exporters still need the American consumer.

The President believes Americans need to consume less and produce more. Maybe so. Unless he plans on crafting tax law to favor job creation for the scrambling middle class the produce more part isn't going to happen. By default there will be less consumption if no one has a job. Instead of business and job friendly action I see a move toward higher taxes on wealth creators and their dividends and a wealth transfer towards those who produce nothing. Just wait until all the new regulations designed to combat a phantom foe called global warming degrade our ability to power our factories and our cities. Frankly, none of his plans make any sense.

We see stories of towns where the steel mill is closed down throwing thousands out of work while the steel to make a pipeline running through the same town is shipped in from India. Damn all the details - it just seems wrong. We have a vulnerable electrical grid that relies on massive and old generators - a breakdown or a terrorist attack could put thousands in the dark. No, not for just a few nights, but rather for months. Why? Because they're not made in this country any more. This storyline is repeated over and over in every state in the union. Why? Our tax and regulatory laws work against the interests of our own working class. Change that Mr. Obama - that's change we can believe in.

If the President wants to "remake" America and help the disenfranchised he might start by encouraging businesses to open back up on America's main streets instead of tossing billions (trillions) of dollars of debt atop Red Ink Mountain.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Counter Intuitive

Save the World with Unbridled Economic Growth

I have written more than once that an economically weaker United States is a disaster for the environment. No matter which way you slice it you will come the the same truth - economic growth, striving for prosperity for everyone everywhere is the "greenest possible solution".

The concerned people who wring their hands over America's wealth and consumption have it exactly backwards. The richer, more prosperous we become as a society the less demand we put on the environment. Yes, we can absolutely credit the environmentalist movement for raising awareness, but thank God the creativity and technical genius of the capitalist mindset was allowed to flourish over the past 40 years. America and the West is a far cleaner, environmentally pure and yes, richer place than it was in the 1960's. The worry now is that the "Save the World" kooks who won't see the truth even when it slaps them in the face are running Congress and the White House and they are listening to Al Gore.

Jim Glass of has an illuminating post on his website that is must reading for those confused by the counter intuitive narrative of a strong and growing economy equals a cleaner, greener world. (read it here) He also has this nice and succinct graph:

You can also read about this in of all places the New York Times in this April 20, 2009 piece called "Use Energy, Get Rich and Save the Planet" by JOHN TIERNEY.

Tierney states: As [their] wealth grows, people consume more energy, but they move to more efficient and cleaner sources — from wood to coal and oil, and then to natural gas and nuclear power, progressively emitting less carbon per unit of energy. This global decarbonization trend has been proceeding at a remarkably steady rate since 1850, according to Jesse Ausubel of Rockefeller University and Paul Waggoner of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.

“Once you have lots of high-rises filled with computers operating all the time, the energy delivered has to be very clean and compact,” said Mr. Ausubel, the director of the Program for the Human Environment at Rockefeller. “The long-term trend is toward natural gas and nuclear power, or conceivably solar power. If the energy system is left to its own devices, most of the carbon will be out of it by 2060 or 2070.”

I'll say it again and again if I have to - we need to use more energy not less to clean up the environment. We just need to use it more wisely and more efficiently. This will happen naturally if we let the economy continue to develop unabated by stupid and onerous energy use restrictions and clamps on the creativity of the market system.

Left to their own devices the greens and the socialists will kill the Golden Goose of capitalism and in the process create a poorer and dirtier world.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Great, Just Great: Need More to Worry About?

As if we don't have enough to worry about already. Let me count the ways...

The entire global economy is tanking while millions are losing their jobs and their homes. Oh yeah, here's a comforting thought, did you know your individual share of government debt is projected to top $30,000 by the end of the year? Your last 401K statement made you cry only half as hard as you did the last time you bought groceries. I could go on and on - and on.

Today I read that there is a potential pandemic knocking at the back door. Too bad the back door is not only unlocked it's flung wide open and has been for years. There is a new a virulent strain of the swine flu spreading through Mexico. (read about it here) Thousands have been infected and dozens have died.

The unusual thing is that unlike most flu outbreaks this one is killing young adults and adults instead of the elderly and very young children. That's interesting and unusual. Interesting because the last time a true pandemic swept the world in the World War I era it was also healthy adults that succumbed. The death rate for 15 to 34-year-olds by influenza was 20 times higher than any other flu outbreak. Somewhere between 20 and 40 million people died worldwide. It has been cited as the most devastating epidemic in recorded world history. Known as "Spanish Flu" or "La Grippe" the influenza of 1918-1919 was a global disaster. Could we be headed for something similar?

On the other hand is this another Peter and the wolf scenario? According to the article cited earlier, scientists have long been concerned that a new flu virus could launch a worldwide pandemic of a killer disease. A new virus could evolve when different flu viruses infect a pig, a person or a bird, mingling their genetic material. The resulting hybrid could spread quickly because people would have no natural defenses against it. Interestingly enough this is exactly what has happened in Mexico.

Right now flu experts were concerned but not alarmed about the latest outbreak. Also from the article these words of comfort such as it is... The CDC says two flu drugs, Tamiflu and Relenza, seem effective against the new strain. Roche, the maker of Tamiflu, said the company is prepared to immediately deploy a stockpile of the drug if requested. However both drugs have to be administered early to have any efficacy.

Bottom line: if you feel like you might be getting the flu visit the doctor and ask about these drugs - especially if you are between 15 to 34 years old.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Trickle Down?

During the 1980's the economic conservatives were routinely disparaged for advocating trickle down economics - a term incorrectly commingled with supply-side economics.

Supply-side is a term used to describe how changes in marginal tax rates influence economic activity. Supply-side economists believe that high marginal tax rates strongly discourage income, output, and the efficiency of resource use.
(James D. Gwartney)

The principle of supply-side economics in the 80's was simple enough. It involved cutting taxes across the board with deepest cuts for those in the top tax brackets. The belief was that those who paid the most taxes would reinvest their tax savings creating new economic activity in which everyone would benefit. Trickle down became a derogatory term applied to all of "Reaganomics". In truth there has never been any discipline within economic studies that advocated trickle down theory. No such theory can be found in any book on the history of economics.

The 1980's were not the first time hefty tax cuts had been tried. Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon in 1921 successfully pushed for tax cuts that then ushered in the roaring 20's. John Kennedy also dramatically lowered the upper tax rates which saw strong economic growth in the 60's. Modern supply-siders to this day counter the derogatory term trickle down economics with the famous Kennedy quote "a rising tide lifts all boats." Honest contemporary historians can't argue that Reagan's initial economic policies brought the country out of a deep recession and ushered in nearly 30 years of steady economic growth.

In reading history one could come to the conclusion that such tax cuts do initially spur economic activity aiding job creation, raising the GDP and general prosperity. Yet economic collapse always seems to follow. In the 1930's we had undoubtedly the worst economic crisis in history. The Great Depression was a disaster for America and the world. In the 1970's we endured two deep recessions. Since Reagan's time we have had two shallow and short recessions - until now.

If it were so simple...

Many factors contributed to the Great Depression and if we are to believe that tax cuts were main culprit we would be deceiving ourselves. Like wise for the 1970's. The original oil shocks, Federal Reserve policies and the beginning of what came to be known as globalization - not to mention a protracted, poorly managed war all contributed to the economic mess. The recessions of 1991 and 2001 were blips on the radar and could be tied to in part to the S&L debacle and the Dot Com bubble respectively.

So here we are today facing a very steep and very deep economic down turn. Again honest economic reflection is not citing the modest Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 as the culprit. (keyword: honest) We should recognize the Federal Reserve's cheap money policies and Congressional meddling in the credit markets to advance a social agenda of home loans for their low income constituents. The result was runaway valuation for the housing markets and massive defaults that tore apart greedy investment houses and the corrupt GSE's known as Fannie and Freddie.

Clearly it wasn't the tax cuts... Still Democrats will argue with reality.

There's a difference between tax rates and tax revenues. Tax revenues went up while tax rates went down in the 1980s under Reagan. The same thing happened in the 1960s as well as the 1920s - and yes, even the 2000's under Bush. But still the cries can be heard that we have to pay for these tax cuts by raising deficits. Friends, it's government spending that creates deficits.

Where is all of this history going you might ask?

Today we have the major critics of Reagan's economic policies in power. Their answer to the economic woes is massive government spending through so-called stimulus that will hopefully result in what??? You guessed it: a perverted kind of trickle down economics. The big difference is that instead of the risk being taken by private corporations and entrpenuers - entities that carefully weigh every dime they spend - this massive stimulus is loading us, our children and our children's children with unfathomable debt. No economic recovery will ever expand tax revenues to cover this kind of spending.

If this administration wants an economic turn around they would best either do nothing (ha ha) or cut taxes on businesses that create jobs. They won't do that because it wouldn't achieve their true goals. Face the facts - their goal is government power above all else.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Twin Cities TEA Party

I must say how impressed I was by the Twin Cities version of the Tax Day TEA Party. I got there right at 5 PM when it was slated to start (on my way home from work) and there were already thousands of happy protesters. Did I say happy? Why, yes I did. Everyone was exceedingly polite and well mannered. There was no anger. There was no ranting. There was no crazy people. The few police in attendance (minus riot gear) where yucking it up with the "protesters". On site spotters estimated the final tally was somewhere near 8,000 people - although the local left leaning newspaper said "about 2,000".

There were the young and the old. There were families pushing strollers and retired military vets. There were pretty young girls with smiles on their faces and old crusties like me with a smile on mine. There were some really good signs. I think my favorite was the one that spelled out OBAMA vertically as an acronym - One Big Ass Mistake America! It was a lot of fun!!!

The snooty people who dismissed this event as a crazy Republican sponsored stunt absolutely missed the point. This wasn't about Republicans poking a finger in the Democrats eye - if anything these people are just as upset about what the Republicans have done to this country - no, it was about a runaway Federal government power grab. These were working class people entirely fed up with ever expanding government intrusion into every aspect of our lives but most particularly our pocketbooks.

These people instinctively know it is government meddling that causes most of the problems that face this country. Politicians cause trouble and then rush in with half baked solutions to fix it. Then when faced with things that really require government intevention- like say the aftermath of hurricane - they fail abysmally.

Let's hope this is only the beginning of a real push back on this massive Federal power grab.

Please consider joining in.

PS. I heard that when this thing broke up there was next to no trash left behind. Contrast and compare to the aftermath of your typical Earth Day rally... Like I said these TEA Party goers were just plain good upstanding citizens of the Earth!!!


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I See Intellectual People

Thomas Sowell is a national treasure. It's really too bad he gets next to no attention outside conservative think tank circles. Instead we are fed a steady diet of folks like Paul Krugman, Thomas Friedman and David Gergen as America's intellectual heavyweights. How many people do you know that have even heard of Dr. Sowell? Being a right-minded intellectual black man it is no surprise to me that the major media pay no attention to him at all (to them he's another Clarence Thomas, antithetical to their view of an African American). He is never invited on for comment. It's a shame and it's very unfortunate for our country.

Recently I watched a video interview with Dr. Sowell that took place right before the 2008 presidential election. The topic essentially came down to a comparison of the "constrained" and the "unconstrained" vision of human interaction and institutions.

A brief synopsis: the constrained vision is that human nature is fundamentally flawed. For society to work we must somehow erect institutions to contain human nature - in a sense erect boundaries around our flaws and allow us to get on with it considering the fallen character of human nature. The unconstrained vision is that human nature itself is malleable but is being held down causing pain and suffering. In this view we must remake the man-made institutions that are causing this pain and suffering.

You can probably guess which side President Obama comes down on...

The unconstrained view believes you need to simply put smart people in charge and through intellectual capacity alone make all the problems just go away. The constrained view assumes that there are very limited things that institutions can actually do and the idea is to minimize the damage done by the flaws in our human nature. One relies on experience and history to guide it down the proper path while the other relies on superior people with superior ideas.

Peter Robinson, of the Hoover Institution who was conducting the Sowell interview recited a couple of revealing quotations from the two presidential candidates:


John McCain in the Presidential debate of October 16th, on the kinds of judges he would nominate to the Supreme Court “I will find the best people in the United States of America who have a history of strict adherence to the constitution and not legislating from the bench.” Barack Obama, during the same debate, “If a woman is out there trying to raise a family, trying to support her family and is being treated unfairly, then the court has to stand up if nobody else will and that is the kind of judge I want.”

(One of these answers falls toward reflection and experience and one toward undefinable feelings. )

Quoting Sowell: "There is an unwillingness to look at the facts of history and it is anti-intellectual, in a sense of intellectual process is unfortunately all too characteristic [of intellectuals] as an occupational category."

And Robinson asks: "Why would the unconstrained vision prove so particularly appealing to intellectuals?"

Thomas Sowell: "That is a tough one, but I think that I guess the short answer is they imagine that good people like themselves to make this thing go and if it has not worked in the past, it is only because they have not had the right people doing it. In other words, Communism would have worked if it had not been for Stalin. But of course, once you have a system like Communism, people like Stalin are the ones who will come to the floor."


In my humble opinion many, many highly intelligent individuals don't like people in general. They find it tedious to have to deal with others who can't match wits with them regardless of how decent the other person is. Since they have personally learned to control some of the worst aspects of human nature they find it very difficult to "suffer the fools" who haven't. Therefore allowing natural forces like market fluctuations, survival of the fittest and the stupidity of bad decisions just work itself out - no - they feel they and only they know how things should be and feel perfectly comfortable imposing their own will on others.

Intellectuals have got the answers if the stupid people would only stand aside. Forget that for the most part market economies respond to the natural forces of the interaction of millions of individual choices over time within a constrained set of lawful conditions. The unconstrained vision says that economies bend to the will of particular interests regardless of risk/reward, effort and/or hard work and need to be remade to obey only the public interest.

Of course not all intellectuals have such a superior view of themselves just as not all bad decisions are the result of stupidity. The point being that what the "unconstrained" believe seems so obvious to them that if you don't get it you must be incredibly obtuse or just plain dishonest.

When I think of the constrained versus the unconstrained I naturally think of adults and children. Children have the need to ask why things are the way they are. They haven't had many experiences themselves and often see things through the filter of fair and unfair. Often they have simple and frankly ignorant solutions to problems caused by the failings in the human nature of those they see around them. Young adults also seemingly have all the answers, ask any parent of a teenager, their freshly minted minds just haven't been beaten down by the reality of the daily grind. This is why we don't let teenagers call the shots. We don't really want the children running the world, do we?


Sunday, April 12, 2009


Here now the latest painting from my Vacation Photo project. This excellent subject comes our way from my friend Jeff Lynn. This was the view from the honeymoon suite in a Costa Rican resort at the foot of Mt. Arenal. I hope you enjoy!

18X24 (acrylic)
(click on the image for a larger view)

Click on these links to see all the paintings from my Vacation Photo project.

"Lyman Lake at Dirty Face Peak"
"A View From Doyle's"
"Best Friend In God's Country"

See more paintings at


Friday, April 10, 2009

Goodbye GOP, Hello NEW Party

Those who claim that the problem with American politics is the two party system have got it wrong. There is only one party. The Democrats are the ONLY game in town. The Republicans are a joke. This is a problem in country that is very nearly 50/50 when it comes to national elections. Bush v Gore was as close as it could get. Bush v Kerry was extremely close too. Obama v McCain was a bit more lopsided but the 10's of millions who voted for McCain clearly were not swayed by Obama's rhetoric. Those who moved from the center/right to Obama are wondering out loud if they did the right thing.

We are a divided country, yet there is only one party. We need a new party for those of us who simply do not believe in socialism and the benevolence of the government. The GOP is damaged goods and has been for years, it's not a serious party.

The Republican party always claimed be a party of fiscal restraint, smaller government and less intrusion of your life by government. When they had a chance to govern they were hardly fiscally conservative or even competent. It makes me worry when people say they believe the Democrats are the ones who can steer the economy into prosperity. It makes me sick when this current bunch of Republicans claim they can.

John Batchelor blogs on the that the GOP is dead and has been since 1933. Ike, Nixon, Reagan and the Bushs' according to Batchelor never gave a damn about the party.

Ike was indifferent to partisanship: His beating of the splenetic Robert Taft in 1952 for the nomination was the success of a conqueror over a sharpie. Nixon was a troubled, spiteful Quaker who despised the Republican Party as the “Eastern Establishment,” and who governed as a liberal Democrat with the apostasy of wage and price controls, the EPA, and embassies to the mass-murdering Mao and the hollow Brezhnev. Reagan was a right-wing Democrat from homespun Illinois who, after years of failing in Hollywood and then charming California, swamped Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale with the passionate votes of the Democratic Party. I have long suspected that the Kennedys voted for Reagan twice.

I don't agree with Batchelor on all points but I do think it's time for something new. The Republican Party came to life quickly out of the ashes of the Whig Party and the Free Democrats with Horace Greeley penning the name in an 1854 editorial. The central unifying theme behind the formation of a new party was an opposition to slavery. There's no reason anti-socialism and economic liberty can't be a unifying force for a new party.

The Democrats will have nearly destroyed the US economy with their multi-trillion dollar social programs by the time the next few election cycles roll around, however the GOP will still be like a bitter poison to the electorate. The people should be ripe for something new. A new party should focus on constitutionally sound principals and not flowery social justice rhetoric on one hand or moralistic dogma on the other. Focusing on something foundational will surely draw conservatives, but it will also draw the people from the middle who went with Obama because he was not Bush more than because they believed in european-style democratic socialism.

There are other parties out there now, but none have struck a chord - it may take the complete dissolution of the GOP to bring about something new and substantial. The fact that Obama is reaching so high so fast my just be the catalyst that draws the disaffected together under a banner of fiscal restraint and economic liberty.

Now I will create my Horace Greeley moment... I shall call the new party the NEW party. If you need an acornym then here you go Nearly Everything Works.


Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Real "One" We've Been Waiting For

Last year around this time I wrote and article for Timothy Birdnow's web site called "The Next Big Thing". The concept I was exploring was that every so often along comes and invention, a discovery or and innovation that literally changes the world. These are civilization altering developments that change our day to day lives. In case you haven't noticed we are in dire need of one of these right about now.

For decades America and the West have been under the thumb of energy despots in one form or another. The list begins and ends with the U.S. Congress, but includes, of course, OPEC, Exxon Mobil, Hugo Chavez and more recently Vlad Putin as well as the Global Warming cabal. As a culture we've known since the 1970's that our energy woes and the consequences therein were only going to get worse unless a viable, clean solution presented itself. Well that day may be coming soon.

HEADLINE: Israeli Scientists Make a Major Hydrogen Fuel Breakthrough
Developing a way to create hydrogen fuel from water is a "Holy Grail" of alternate fuel development. Many consider Hydrogen fuel cells the perfect pollution-free alternative to fuel automobiles. In these cells Hydrogen is consumed by a pollution-free chemical reaction, not combustion. So the fuel cell simply combines hydrogen and oxygen chemically to produce electricity, water, and waste heat. Nothing else. hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe... (source)

The new approach that the Weizmann team has recently devised is divided into a sequence of reactions, which leads to the liberation of hydrogen and oxygen in consecutive thermal- and light-driven steps, mediated by a unique ingredient – a special metal complex that Milstein’s team designed in previous studies. Moreover, the one that they designed – a metal complex of the element ruthenium – is a “smart” complex in which the metal center and the organic part attached to it cooperate in the cleavage of the water molecule.

The team found that upon mixing this complex with water the bonds between the hydrogen and oxygen atoms break, with one hydrogen atom ending up binding to its organic part, while the remaining hydrogen and oxygen atoms (OH group) bind to its metal center.
This modified version of the complex provides the basis for the next stage of the process: the “heat stage.” When the water solution is then boiled, hydrogen gas is released from the complex – a potential source of clean fuel – and another OH group is added to the metal center.

“But the most interesting part is the third ‘light stage,’” says Milstein. “When we exposed this third complex to light at room temperature, not only was oxygen gas produced, but the metal complex also reverted back to its original state, which could be recycled for use in further reactions.”

The thought of "getting off oil" as our primary fuel for transportation is tantalizing. Our interest in the dysfunctional backward looking thugs in the Middle East would wane. Dictators in Russia and Venezuela would fall further behind with no customers for their oil. There would be some job displacement in the energy industries in the West, but the new hydrogen based infrastructure will require plenty of skilled labor - it would be "creative destruction" at its best.

The wild card in all of this will be the Global Warming, or rather Climate Change apologists. They have staked their claim on the fact that CO2 is a pollutant and a dangerous greenhouse gas. They chose CO2 because civilization as it currently operates is dependent on the emission of vast quantities of CO2. In a hydrogen based system the emission of CO2 decreases (ironically to be replaced by the mother of all greenhouse gases - water vapor) and with the abdication of CO2 so goes the basis for their entire argument.

I submit that this remarkable development, if it pans out, fulfilling its promise, would not be welcomed by the Climate Change avengers. While one would think this would be the answer to their prayers - think again. It is - and always has been - the society that consumes the most energy in all its forms is the society that rises to the top. That society for the last 100 years has been the United States. Hydrogen as a inexhaustible energy source in the hands of a motivated, productive and unshackled populace would make the U. S. unstoppable. This would be a disaster for the Climate Change grifters (and America haters). The truth is it's not global warming or climate change they really want to stop, it's America. The destruction of American capitalism has always been their goal.

I for one am very, very excited by the prospect of seeing the end of the oil age for so many reasons, but the sweetness of seeing the Climate Change hucksters contort themselves in an effort to turn this paradigm shift on its head is too much to hope for.


Monday, April 06, 2009

Quote Me!

note: The other night I was talking with my dear Mother on the subject of God and those among us who are, shall we say, skeptics, when this came out of my mouth. I thought it so profound I felt I needed to write it down...

"If God is love, and that's all God is - that's pretty good"

Quote me!

Saturday, April 04, 2009


My respect for President Obama could fill a thimble, needless to say I don't think very highly of the guy. Have you ever played monopoly? Of course you have. Ahh now you see where this is going... After this week my respect for PO might fill the little Monopoly game piece that looks like a thimble.

While all politicians are pathological liars, it's in the job description, PO is a disingenuous liar. In front an audience in a foreign country he continues to denigrate our country. Why does he feel it necessary to continue to slam President Bush with the perpetuation of a lie. When speaking of Abu Ghraib he tried to make the point that the abuse of prisoners as a strategy was counter productive. Well, it was never the "strategy" of the Bush Administration or the generals on the ground in Iraq. It was a crime. A crime that saw people arrested and put in jail. It was, however, the strategy of the New York Times and the Democrats to hang George Bush with it. It worked.

What ever happened to the tradition of Presidents not denigrating their predecessors? Reagan didn't continue to trash Carter just as Bill Clinton didn't slam George H. W. Bush once he had defeated him. George W. Bush went out of his way, as he always did, to avoid bad mouthing his predecessor as well as his successor, claiming recently that "President Obama deserves my silence". What in the hell is wrong with PO? Simple, he's a narcissist who needs to degrade others to make himself look better. You can claim he is just trying to differentiate himself from the HORROR that was George Bush - but does he need to use lies? In a word, yes, because for all intents and purposes he is basically keeping George Bush's actual foreign policies.

There is also the question of PO's understanding of Presidential protocol. Either he's a complete idiot or his State Dept. is incompetent. When the head of America's closest ally, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, pays his first visit to the Obama White House bearing meaningul and appropriate gifts, PO sends a staffer down to the local Blockbuster and then the White House gift shop. He sends PM Brown home with a stack of DVD's that were incompatible with British DVD players and a couple of models of Marine One helicopters. To add insult to injury he packed up and returned a gift that Great Britain gave the White House years ago. Instead of just moving the bust of Winston Churchill that President Bush proudly displayed right in the Oval Office Obama sent it down the street to the British embassy, thanks but no thanks... They were aghast - it was a complete slap in the face.

Accepted protocol for Presidents when meeting the head of a foreign state is to treat each other as equals. One does not bow to or kiss the wring of a peer - it shows weakness and submission. So what does PO do when he meets the Saudi leader. See for yourself...

What a maroon.


Wednesday, April 01, 2009

"Detroit Makes Crappy Cars" NOT

How many times do we have hear that Detroit makes crappy cars and that's why the American auto business is in such trouble? For sure GM, Ford and Chrysler have some huge problems but the quality gap is really not one of them.

According to the J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Vehicle Dependability Study Buick joins Jaguar in the top spot. Yes, that Buick, a GM product.

J.D. Power and Associates - self described - a global marketing information services firm operating in key business sectors including market research, forecasting, performance improvement, Web intelligence and customer satisfaction. Their highly respected results are based on quality and satisfaction measurements that are based on responses from millions of consumers annually.

Everyone of us has a horror story of a past experience with a car that has forever tainted us. Being Americans that probably means it was an American car. Mine was with a Chrysler - I haven't bought one since. Of course my experience was in the 80's and one would think that things at Chrysler might have improved since then. Still, I would hesitate to even consider another Chrysler product. Am I being fair? Probably not. Am I being human? Definitely.

Imagine then in the 80's into 90's when Honda and Toyota were selling rock solid sedans to Americans who had just had a lousy experience with GM, Ford or Chrysler and you'd have your answer to why the American auto business is in such trouble. Bottom line: they lost their customers to a better product. Now that Detroit is building much, much better cars it is too little too late. It really is as simple as that. Why would they go back to the Big Three when they have been so happy with the foreign names.

The 2009 study also revealed that Toyota/Lexus still build fantastic cars as does Honda/Acura.

highlights from this year’s study:

* Buick and Jaguar (122 PP100 each) tie for the highest-ranking nameplates in vehicle dependability. Jaguar moves up nine rank positions from No. 10 in the 2008 study. Buick, which ranked No. 6 in 2008 and tied for the highest ranking with premium make Lexus in 2007, has ranked among the top 10 since 2003.

* Lexus ranks No. 3, with more than half of its eligible models receiving a segment award. In addition, the Lexus LS 430 sets a new standard in dependability, achieving an industry-best 61 PP100. Toyota (No. 4) and Mercury (No. 5) round out the top five brands.

“Buick has ranked among the top 10 nameplates each year since the study was last redesigned in 2003, while Jaguar has moved rapidly up the rankings,” said David Sargent, vice president of automotive research at J.D. Power and Associates. “Lexus remains a very strong competitor in long-term quality. In particular, the Lexus LS 430 sets the industry standard for dependability, with fewer problems reported than any other model in the study.”

With a GM and a Ford nameplate in the top five and 4 in the top 10 (out of 38) one should not continue to claim that Detroit builds crappy cars - but perception is reality and the fact is Detroit is to blame for not changing that perception. Being a GM owner and booster I am very sad for the condition the company finds itself in. Some of it is beyond their control, but most of it is of their own making.

Here's hoping that the Chevy Volt becomes the little engine that could... Change that perception, I mean.