Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 5

I wonder what percentage of GM and Ford’s U.S. sales are to people qualifying for the employee discount?

I agree with George Will who states that WW II got us out of the recession, not the New Deal.

President-elect Obama is upsetting the left and of course can’t please the right anyway. This makes me smile as I’ve been hoping for a centrist.

When it comes to politics and religion together, I’m weary of evangelical Republicans. With that said, I have no problem with Pastor Rick Warren’s role in the inauguration because I see this as an attempt to work across the aisle for one America. At least the president-elect is trying to bridge the divide.

If the Republicans were running Congress, how long (and at what $ cost) would they investigate the link between President-elect Obama and Governor Blagojevich? And for those who forget, how much did Ken Starr cost?

Since the Democrats are running Congress, how long will it take (and at what $ cost) to investigate various abuses of power in the Bush administration? Personally, I hope they stay away from it.

The struggling economy is the top story of 2008; not the election. Keep in mind that the September downturn helped swing the election.

We recently lost acclaimed playwright Harold Pinter at the age of 92. Although he had his accomplished, he is forever etched in my mind with The Caretaker – the play that served as the low benchmark in my time as a season ticket holder at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park.

With a flury of bowl games upon us, let us remember that the BCS is about the 6 major conferences dominating the bowl revenue; not about determining a national champion.

Baseball Hall of Fame ballots are due soon so here are a couple of HOF thoughts.

  • If I was a voter, Bert Blyleven, Ricky Henderson, and Andre Dawson would get my votes.
  • I agree with Johnny Bench; “The HOF is for the very best, not the very good.”
  • How could Pete Rose be declared “no longer eligible” when he was never eligible?

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol 4

Do you know the ten most common last names in the U.S.? The Census Bureau reported in 2000 these top 10 surnames: Smith, Johnson, Williams, Brown, Jones, Miller, Davis, Garcia, Rodriquez, and Wilson. So that’s why the GOP wants to attract Latinos.

Given Time’s Person of the Year, the Runner’s-Up, ad the People who Mattered, I can’t believe Joe the Plumber wasn’t listed.

Speaking of Time’s Person of the Year list, see the list of interesting personalities who left us in 2008, but still touch us today. (Once there, scroll down to see the list.)

Many people asked movie critic Roger Ebert to review Ben Stein’s documentary Expelled, about defending creationism. For those that didn’t see it, it’s an interesting read.

In a recent NY Times column, Nicholas Kristof uses a “finger in the dike” analogy about the U.S. automakers and their situation … and I continue to maintain that the automaker situation is more complex than many make it to be.

As part of my falling asleep process, I like to listen to Echoes with John Diliberto. I love the music! Sometimes I tune in early and catch the end of Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor. Two sayings stuck me the other night.

  • “Never assume the obvious is true.” (William Safire) Think about that one in terms of the Internet.
  • “Be well, do good works, and keep in touch.” (Keillor’s signoff). Wow, this is meant for a future post.

Thanks for those giving input on a potential new header, which will be coming soon.

Meanwhile, my Battle Cranberry recipe for Cranberry-Sausage Spaghetti got a lot of reads.

What a tough week for those in the northeast with the ice storm. My prayers and thoughts go out to them; especially to friends like Mo.

Sports
Good for Penn State giving Joe Pa an extension. Whenever I see news about Paterno’s contracts, I keep thinking about legendary Bear Bryant; who suddenly died only a few months after retiring. Similar to General Pattern, his mission was done.

As the Bengals continue their streak of ONE winning season since 1990, and a given tough economic times, a significant majority of season ticket holders will renew.

Entertainment World
Guy Ritchie, who had $25 million when his relationship with Madonna started, get somewhere between $76-95 million in a divorce settlement. Now that’s one good investment.

With NBC’s ER in its final season, how would you end it? I would close the show with the ER staff being introduced to the new chief of staff: Dr. Doug Ross (George Clooney).

I still can’t believe the Material Girl entered a relationship without a prenump, but I still believe Sara Palin needs Dancing with the Stars to broaden her base.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol 2

Dancing with the Automakers and Congress

The Big 3 automakers return to Washington is the equivalent to making someone say “Trick or treat” before receiving any candy. Isn’t committee grandstanding wonderful!

Congress should not blackmail the automakers by offering bailout dollars for green technology in return.

So Governor Rick Perry (R-Texas) said federal bailouts should stop. Hmmm … Given that state governments are less than anticipated, is the governor saying he would not accept federal dollars?

Since Senator Shelby’s (R-Al) against helping the Big 3 automakers, does the strong presence of foreign automakers in his state have anything to do with his opinion?

Miscellaneous

I found this column by David Brooks interesting.

Sarah Palin is keeping herself quite visible. Although she has a base, she must find a way to attract the center; so I recommend she tackle Dancing with the Stars.

College Football

Regarding the Big 12 conference dilemma, Texas Tech played the weakest out-of-conference schedule. Playing one nonFBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) is bad enough, but two is quite pathetic.

Would Texas’s coach Mack Brown still prefer the SEC’s tie-breaking method over the Big 12’s if it didn’t favor his team?

The BCS will announce their bowl participants this Sunday. Meanwhile, the fans are rationalizing while others complain. Wake up people, the BSC is not determining a national champion, it’s about money. Oh, seems I’ve given a previous of Sunday’s post.

Shorts of All Sorts

Party Politics
Since I’ve been saying this for some time, I very much appreciate Kathleen Parker’s column about one aspect of Republican rebranding.

Despite my post, House Republican’s reanointed John Boehner (R-OH) as their leader. As Republicans say they are willing to work with the new administration, Representative Boehner provides his example of reaching across the aisle.

When he (President-Elect Obama) is offering solutions to the American people that we are in agreement with, we’ll be right there with him.

Auto Industry Situation
Auto executives went to Washington this week attempting to convince Congress to invest in a bailout/loan; and the more they talked, the more they turned the country against them.

It’s also tough to buy a car because tight credit. Meanwhile many new foreign cars sit in lots near U.S. ports because people aren’t buying.

Although Detroit has done well at accomplishing failure, I remain steadfast in believing that the auto industry issue is more complex than simply looking at the executives, and even the UAW. As usual, George Will had a good read.

In Wednesday’s edition, a Wall Street Journal editorial implied some Democrats are using green technology as leverage in the bailout talks.

Congress, with a public approval rating lower than President Bush, demonstrates it can solve the complex Detroit-based mess with grandstanding committee hearings and partisan ideology.

Sports
I’ll be part of the raucous environment at UC’s Nippert Stadium for Pitt’s Saturday night visit; a team the Bearcats are never beaten. In contrast and three time zones away, 0-10 Washington and 1-10 Washington State battle in the Apple Bowl.

As a MAC grad, I appreciate Ball State’s accomplishments. I saw BSU play in 2004, and they were horrible. A great job by the staff in Muncie!

A shout-out to Mike Mussina for a strong pitching career in spite of pitching during MLB’s steroid era.

Steelers Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau is in his 50th year as an NFL player and coach. Youngsters may him as a quality coach, but may not know that the man could play defensive back. More importantly, Dick LeBeau is a class act.

Something to Ponder
The public the two biggest things the public runs in our society are schools and government. Need I say more?

Random Thoughts Automakers Debate

This week our Congress will debate what to do with the automakers; and probably in the spirit of partisanship rhetoric. The following are random thoughts about the possible government loan/bailout of the U.S. automakers. No order, just random and sometimes conflicting thoughts.

  • As an organization, the Big 3 don’t deserve it; and the UAW is totally innocent.
  • I bet the UAW lobby is heavily involved in the proposal.
  • Loss of worker hurts the money flow for both workers and their communities.
  • For every 1 assembly worker, there are 7.5 workers on the supply chain who are also impacted.
  • The government shouldn’t get involved because the natural free market is cleansing the industry into a new equilibrium.
  • Within the past 4 months, GM retirees covered by Medicare and Medicaid received notice that their health insurance is no more; but GM will compensate them an extra allowance per month for the insurance they need to find on their own.
  • I wonder if legislators from non-auto industry regions and those from auto-industry regions would change their tune if their situations were reversed. Ah yes  – aren’t they quite the pathetic bunch.
  • Roll the dice and let them rot; but use the government funds to stimulate jobs in alternative energy sectors and rebuilding the national infrastructure.
  • Let them first go into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, streamline, reorganize, and force the UAW’s hand – then consider the loan.
  • Available credit it tight, even for Chapter 11 organizations – and no credit would lead them into Chapter 7 liquidation.
  • Speaking of the credit crunch, with lending to consumers tight, car purchases are naturally down.
  • If market forces cause the U.S. automakers to a new equilibrium, won’t less competition and more demand on those remaining raise prices?
  • If you don’t believe the board of directors and executives of the Big 3 are clueless, read their news releases.
  • Any loan/bailout needs conditions limiting executive compensation and use of the funds.
  • It’s an investment of good money with a low chance of a positive return.
  • After the auto industry, who’s next in line?
  • Any government intervention must be bipartisan as both demanding Democrats and stonewalling Republicans are unacceptable.
  • Although the public is against bailout/loans, I believe this situation is more complicated than the public realizes.
  • If no bailout, how long will it take the public to complain that the government should have done something?
  • A Cincinnati Enquirer columnist’s title says a lot: GM -automakers bailout is another lemon – but frighteningly, it’s the only ride we’ve got.

U.S. Automakers, the Economy, and Aid

The Big 3 U.S. automakers are in trouble and are asking the government for help. They are asking for aid during a time when the public was against the rescue plan for the financial sector. They are asking for aid during a time when the public scowls in dismay at the total compensation upper executives receive; even when their companies have a negative return. To politicize matters, Speaker Pelosi’s proclamation for help was not done in a bipartisan manner (but that’s a story in itself).

Thirty years ago the public faced rising prices at the gas pump. As more Americans switched from a U.S. brand to vehicles made by a foreign company, Americans discovered not only were foreign cars more fuel efficient, they were more reliable. Fortunately, the Reagan administration brokered a deal to get foreign automakers to build assembly plants in the United States.

Thirty years later, the foreign automakers still have the most reliable cars and have expanded their offerings into moderate and luxury sedans. Toyota, Honda, and Hyundai have assembly plants employing U.S. workers. Meanwhile, during the same time frame the U.S. automakers moved from gas-guzzling sedans to the gas-guzzling SUV and truck market. Now that’s progress!

The Big 3 not only missed the boat thirty years ago, they continued to give the fuel-efficient, reliable auto market to the foreign companies. Look at the numbers! The foreign automakers continue to have a more efficient business operation. As Honda takes 10 days to convert a plant to produce a different model, the Big 3 seek government aid for retooling.

Although their failure during the past thirty years is obvious, the auto industry was a big part of the industrial backbone of the United States during the 20th century. Although the industrial age is over, the auto industry is still an important component in the 21st century. Today, they are in trouble; in trouble during a difficult economic time: a time when unemployment is already of 14%; in trouble because of a lack of vision, lack of response, and profound arrogance of both executives and the UAW.

Ladies and gentlemen, this aid is not about the Big 3, it’s about we the people. If allowed to go under or tremendously downsized, many Americans would be out of a job. Their spending, the decreased demand on goods and services would ripple across our economy. With less income because fewer people working, local government will either cut services and/or employment to be within a budget. As a matter of fact, that’s already happening. States too are already affected.

For every auto assembly line worker there are 7.5 workers in the supply chain. A collapse or downsizing by the Big 3 would have a strong domino effect to other companies, workers, and communities.

Saying our country’s economy is in “difficult times” may be an understatement. It’s not President Bush’s fault, but his decisions helped. It’s not Congress’s fault, but their legislation helped. All of Washington has played a role in some way over the past thirty years. It’s not the union’s fault, but they played a role. It’s not the fault of corporate greed or desiring lower costs, but poor executive decisions have played a bigger role than they would admit.

I keep wondering why anyone would want to be president with the economy in such a mess; let along all the other important challenges on the current plate. Seems the winner has reason to ask for a recount. By the way, partisan Republicans, get a grip- the economic situation is not President-elect Obama’s fault!

The situation is what it is – serious! President-elect Obama and the new Congress have no choice but to attack our economic situation; and that includes propping up an industry that has failed to meet consumer demands: let alone funding employment -related issues as rebuilding infrastructure and developing alternative energies. All of this is for us – Americans worker and our households – and at the expense of an ever growing deficit. Ouch!