|Saturday July 31, 2004
A Modest Proposal: On Thursday night, John Kerry gave a lengthy, cliché-ridden acceptance speech. This is not the first time such a thing has occurred. Politicians from both political parties tend to be bloviators, making sure every special interest group gets its due. Attempting to be all-inclusive, such speeches tend to be boring and watered-down. The message becomes so diluted that it loses its impact.
The most famous Presidential speech was Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. It was brief - less than 300 words. It probably took less than three minutes to deliver. This address was stirring because it didn't meander and appealed to America's nobler purpose of the era.
George Bush has many admirable qualities. Public speaking is not one of them. His off-the-cuff remarks are often mangled and misinterpreted. His prepared speeches are uninspiring - dull writing combined with wooden delivery.
A brief speech would perfect for Bush - less words to mangle, fewer statements for talking heads to misinterpret. Brevity makes for an effective sound bite, too. I have taken the liberty of writing such a speech for President Bush. I give him permission to use it (or not use it) as he sees fit. The message can be presented at any time but, in my opinion, should be given in late October, just before the election.
Here it is:
Good Evening. Our beloved nation, conceived in liberty two hundred and twenty eight years ago, has responded bravely whenever its freedom was threatened. In the past, our democracy has been challenged by readily identifiable nation-states.
We now face a different conflict. Our war is with ideologues who pervert the Islamic faith, creating a heresy which calls for the abolition of Western civilization by any and all means. Our battlefields are not defined by geographical boundaries. Our enemy is not a mere nation. This war is between the civilized world and radical Islam, its supporters and enablers.
No war is perfect; the chaotic nature of battle combined with human frailties always produces errors and mistakes. Despite missteps and setbacks; our cause remains just. Our goal is unchanged.
Our progress is measurable and substantial. We have much of which to be proud. Free elections are coming to Afghanistan. And Iraq. Despite repeated attempts, there have been no successful terrorist attacks on U.S. soil in three years.
The War on Terror was never presented as brief or easy. Its course is long, winding through many nations that harbor our enemies. Its cost is the lives of brave men and women, who give their all in the name of liberty. Its timeline cannot be precisely defined. It must continue until we eliminate the heart and soul of radical Islam.
On a cold November day in 1863, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed that "government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth." We will not perish. Thanks to the bravery and dedication of those who serve, the support of the American people and the backing and advocacy of those nations which share our beliefs, liberty will prevail.
May God shed His Grace upon us.
Friday July 30, 2004
Fast and Ugly: Chrysler Group wants to build its Chrysler ME Four-Twelve super car. "It's more likely than not" that Chrysler will build the lightning-fast sports car, which was shown as a concept vehicle at the Detroit auto show in January, said Chrysler CEO Dieter Zetsche. "We are in talks with partners who are interested in building it. But it must make sense."
AutoBlog says, "Absolutely nothing about this car makes sense." I say that the ME Four-Twelve is one of the ugliest concept cars I've ever seen. The lines are very discordant and there are too many distracting, overly-complex details.
Now, a Bizzarrini Spyder .... that's a good-looking car.
Rising Star: Peggy Noonan writes, "When Barack Obama began his speech everyone watching thought: A star is born. Talk about famous overnight. When you first see him he is a plain man of irregular features and jug ears. But when he begins to speak his features blend into harmony and handsomeness. This kind of thing only happens if you have magic. At one point the C-Span cameras went to an unhappy looking Jesse Jackson in the stands. He looked like he was thinking, "I don't remember passing a torch." But it was passed."
Noonan on Ron Reagan: "He seemed a nicer person years ago when he was dancing in his underpants on Saturday Night Live. He is that unusual person who seems less authentic when not in a tutu."
To Know Him ... "Only 2 of John Kerry's 23 fellow Swift boat commanders from Coastal Division 11 support his candidacy today."
Con Man and Rabble Rouser: David Frum writes: "Is it not incredible that Al Sharpton is accepted as a convention speaker and bona fide Democratic leader? Is it not amazing that this proven liar and slanderer is accusing the president of "misleading"? Is it not astounding that this audience that cheers for tax increases on the wealthy will cheer this man who enjoys all the trappings of wealth and yet apparently pays hardly any taxes at all? Is it not outrageous that this men whose racial incitements provoked a fire-bombing and homicide dares invoke the language of civil rights? Do these Democrats have any intellectual or moral standards at all? Do they even have memories?"
I have memories. Old ones. And, whenever Sharpton appears, I am somehow reminded of The Kingfish.
Policy Wonks: DNC delegates are paying $120 apiece for liability insurance policies. Lawyer and blogger Walter Olson notes, "... imagine if they were doing something physically riskier than just waving placards around."
The cost of the insurance was likely boosted because of the overwhelming number of trial lawyers in the room. Wonkette quipped: "Just like a whorehouse: when lawyers walk in, the prices go up."
Bye Bond: British actor Pierce Brosnan has announced that he will not be playing the role of James Bond in the 007 series any longer.
Too bad. He was the best Bond ever. Worst - Timothy Dalton. Yecchh!
Thursday July 29, 2004
The Lincoln In Winter: Once upon a time, Lincoln was a desirable automobile brand. Over the last several years, it has lost most of its charm. Today, it is decontented, discounted and dissed.
I was once an officer of the Lincoln & Continental Owners Club, a group of 4,000-plus brand-loyal Lincoln enthusiasts. LCOC celebrated the marque's heritage and probably brought Lincoln more publicity and good will than the brand's own mediocre advertising. A couple of years ago, Ford terminated its support of the Club - a token $20,000 per year - in a move to 'save money.' Such shortsightedness is representative of Ford's recent handling of its luxury brand.
AutoExtremist writes, "What has happened to Lincoln is one of the saddest travesties in the history of the automobile business. What was once a proud, sought-after luxury automobile that gave Cadillac all that it could handle in this market, Lincoln is now fading into the abyss and falling off consumer consideration lists left and right. Ford Motor Company managers have repeatedly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory when it comes to Lincoln, coming up with excuse after excuse as to why they can't compete or why things just didn't come together. And it's really too bad, because Lincoln was one of the most authentic American nameplates that ever existed. And it could have achieved that status once again, but now that a future product plan for mediocrity has been laid out - Lincoln will be doomed to the trash heap of once-great American brands."
Horizontal Hunting II: Yesterday, I posted commments about John Kerry's 'hunting style.' My good friend, Vietnam veteran and fellow car nut, Ray, wrote a lengthy, detailed response.
Excerpt: "As to hunting deer with a double-barreled shotgun, I doubt it! Double-barreled shotguns are 'fowling pieces' - for bird hunting, not deer hunting. In those states where shotguns are the only permitted firearm for deer hunting, only single-barrel shotguns are allowed. These may have a short-barrel, low-powered scopes and invariably are pump guns, rarely auto loaders. The only real gun Kerry ever handled was an M-16 (the black gun in his alleged wartime pictures) and I know those pictures were staged. The way he carried his M-16 was careless to say the least. Any Combat Sergeant would ream you up and down for the nonchalant way he handled the gun. John Kerry is as fake as a three-dollar bill."
Rascal Races: A team led by an 82-year-old pensioner won the first Dutch championship for battery-powered electric scooter racing. The scooter race, fitted with comfortable seats, armrests, handlebars and shopping baskets, was all about skillful maneuvering, with top speeds of just 7.5 miles per hour.
The goal of the event was to promote mobility and to fight loneliness in retirement and nursing homes.
What The Hell?! Economists searching for reasons why some nations are richer than others have found that those with a wide belief in Hell are less corrupt and more prosperous, according to a report by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
All Cars Look The Same Anymore: A German woman became so furious after a fight with her husband that she stormed out of the house armed with a hammer and smashed up his car - before realizing she had vandalized her neighbor's blue Opel Corsa and not the blue Ford Fiesta belonging to her spouse.
Wednesday July 28, 2004
Ugly and Unsafe: Federal safety regulators are investigating the Saturn Vue sport utility vehicle after the vehicle's suspension failed in two separate government rollover tests. The left rear suspension failed during a 45-mph test maneuver, causing the left rear wheel to collapse beneath the vehicle.
The End: Mitsubishi Motors America Inc. will scrap its slow-selling Diamante sedan at the end of the 2004 model year.
Ten years ago, the Diamante was the best-looking mid-size sedan on the road. It looked like the handsome, bastard child of a BMW 7-Series.
Boom! The Conference Board reports that consumer confidence rose to a two-year high in July, posting its fourth consecutive monthly gain - the highest since June 2002.
I Always Wanted To Do This: Boy takes joyride on an airport conveyor belt.
Jimmah: David Frum comments on Jimmy Carter's DNC speech, pointing out that he "begins with sly digs at George Bush and his Iraq policy. Who remembers now that it was Carter who began America's unhappy entanglement with Saddam Hussein? Saddam took personal command of Iraq in 1979 and the Carter administration immediately reached out to him. The story goes that Carter National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski boasted, "Iraq will be to my Middle East achievement as Egypt was to Henry's." I've never been able to authenticate that quote, but it certainly describes what happened next. Republicans began cleaning up Carter's messes in 1981; George W. Bush is still at it. All in all, a surprisingly nasty and unstatesmanlike performance by Carter."
As The Simpsons' Comic Book Guy would say, "Worst president ever."
The Pieces Fall Into Place! ScrappleFace Headline: "Bush Military Records Found in Berger's Socks."
Big Splash! John Kerry will make his grand entrance into Boston via a water taxi. I wonder if it's Teddy's Oldsmobile?
Horizontal Hunting: Writer Mark Steyn observes that Kerry "was in Wisconsin the other day, pretending to be a regular guy, and was asked what kind of hunting he preferred. "I'd have to say deer," said the senator. "I go out with my trusty 12-gauge double-barrel, crawl around on my stomach... That's hunting." This caused huge hilarity among my New Hampshire neighbors. None of us has ever heard of anybody deer hunting by crawling around on his stomach, even in Massachusetts. The trick is to blend in with the woods and, given that John Kerry already looks like a forlorn tree in late fall, it's hard to see why he'd give up his natural advantage in order to hunt horizontally."
Donuts = Terror: Wonkette reports: "Security here at the Fleet Center started out as heavy and now threatens to interfere with the Earth's rotation. The newest example of the Democrat's nanny mini-state? They stopped the donut truck from coming in."
Tuesday July 27, 2004
Give Me A Break: I'm pleased to report that our street is now fully paved and topcoated.
The county finally finished the job that it began last summer and left half done. How was a recalcitrant bureaucracy motivated to do the job correctly? By me picking up the phone and pestering public officials in a whiny, John Stossel-like voice until they finally caved.
Big Bucks: A 1930 Bentley Speed Six has fetched $4.6 million dollars at an auction. The car, which finished second in the 1930 24-hour Le Mans race, was bought by a U.S. bidder.
Stick to Gas: Owners of 2001-model Toyota and Honda hybrids reported twice as many engine problems as owners of gas-engined Toyotas and Hondas.
Owners of Volkswagen diesels also reported up to twice as many engine problems as owners of gas-powered VWs.
Convention Theme: Not far from the Democratic Convention - at Boston Common - a theater group, Shakespeare on the Common, is performing 'Much Ado About Nothing.'
Evolving Toward Irrelevance: VH-1 used to be a pleasant channel, focusing on soft rock videos not edgy enough for MTV. Then VH-1 cut back on music, favoring 'documentaries like 'Behind The Music' (aka - 'Dirt On Has-Beens').
Now, as I observe while channel-surfing, they only offer sound bites from has-beens-I-don't-care-about talking about trivia and old fads I don't care about.
Monday July 26, 2004
Is There Anything This Guy Won't Slap His Name On? The Chicago Tribune reports that 81-year-old Carroll Shelby is being drafted by Ford once again. Not to produce a sports car. But to develop a Shelby Performance Edition of the company's large SUV, the Expedition.
I wonder if he plans to produce a Shelby-Edition Cadillac Superior Landaulet hearse for his own funeral?
How to Spend Ninety Grand Foolishly: AutoWeek tested the über-pricey Mercedes S-500 sedan ($90,040). But the vehicle left something to be desired - reliability. "... the Mercedes had two problems in the few days we had it. The instruments on the left side of the dash went out - actually went dead - once, and a message came on saying, 'Drive to Workshop.' The message went away and the instruments started working again when we later fired it up.
Then, the day following our test, after a photo shoot, a blast of steam shot from under the Benz’s hood. ... we shut it off immediately and called roadside assistance, which recommended a flatbed. It left on a stretcher."
A Man of the People: Sen. John Kerry spoke about the plight of the American worker when he traveled to Detroit last week. So it was more than a little ironic that the auto image the campaign picked for its press-pass logo was that of a Rolls-Royce!
Only in America: Krispy Kreme is introducing a doughnut-flavored drink. The company, coming off a sluggish period of doughnut sales, has launched a line of frozen drinks, including one that tastes like its signature glazed doughnut.
Better than doughnuts, because you can get even more calories (720 in the 20 ounce size) without having to expend calories chewing!
Out of Business: An Al Gore look-a-like decides to shutter his website. "There were no phone calls; there was nothing going on," he complained.
Maybe he should get together and commiserate over drinks with the Dennis Kucinich look-a-like.
Quote of the Week: It's only Monday, but I'm awarding it to James Lileks: "Unless you've spent some time in DC you can't imagine the tremendous self-importance that possesses the people who feed off the government. They're like people who live in the same town where NASA has a tracking station, and think that it makes them all astronauts."
Runner-Up Quote ... about former Clinton National Security Adviser, Sandy 'My-Trousers-Look-Stuffed-Because-I'm-Just-Forgetfully-Retaining-A-Little-Water' Berger, in the New York Sun: "Mr. Berger was presented with plans to take action against the threat of Al Qaeda four separate times - Spring 1998, June 1999, December 1999, and August 2000. Each time, Mr. Berger was an obstacle to action. Had he been a little less reluctant to act, a little more open to taking pre-emptive action, maybe the 2,973 killed in the September 11, 2001, attacks would be alive today."
Saturday July 24, 2004
Paint Reflections: I recently purchased several 1:43 scale diecast cars for use on my train layout, including a couple of 1941 Ford Tudor sedans made by Fleer Collectibles.
Fleer offers the models in authentic 1941 shades - black, Capri blue, Cayuga blue, Cotswald gray, Harbor gray, Lockhaven green, Mayfair maroon or Palisade gray.
All of these colors are awfully dull by today's standards. People forget that the paint technology 60-plus years ago was pretty primitive. Most production cars used ... (more >>>)
Friday July 23, 2004
Car Sightings: Spotted a beautiful silver late-'50s/early-'60s A.C. Aceca coupe. It still looked stunning as it moved down the road. Closely examined a parked '04 Jaguar XJ sedan. It looked far less impressive in person than in photos - tall and ungainly compared with its predecessor - parked nearby. The lines were too Ford-ish with not enough Jaguar DNA. The interior was generic-luxury and, except for the J-shifter, it could have passed for a Lexus or Cadillac.
Nice car but not good enough to be Jaguar's flagship.
Happy Ending: A dad promises his hospitalized, comatose son: "I'll buy you a new Corvette if you wake up."
The son awakes and recovers. A 2005 model is now on order.
Ram Fertility Symbol? Maybe the Dodge Ram logo has an entirely different meaning.
Terror In The Skies: Flight crews and air marshals say Middle Eastern men are staking out airports, probing security measures and conducting test runs aboard airplanes for a terrorist attack.
One pilot said that, on one of his recent flights, an air marshal forced his way into the lavatory at the front of his plane after a man of Middle Eastern descent locked himself in for a long period. The marshal found the mirror had been removed and the man was attempting to break through the wall. The cockpit was on the other side.
The pilot said terrorists are "absolutely" testing security.
Grave Commentary: Liberal columnist Richard Cohen writes about the Kerry campaign's decision to invite Ron Reagan (son of the late president) to address the Democratic National Convention next week: "Ron Reagan is going to speak because his name is Ron Reagan. He is not a famous Democrat and he is not a well-known ethicist or medical researcher. He will be there just to stick it to the GOP and Bush and to suggest, as do the selfish when they would rather golf than attend a funeral, that they have the permission of the deceased. There's a term for this sort of thing: grave robbery."
Antique Google: This document is suposed to be from 1960 but it must be post-July 1, 1963 when ZIP codes first came into use.
Five-digit ZIP usage became mandatory in 1967. ZIP is an acronym for the Zone Improvement Plan. Anyone remember the Mr. ZIP stick figure? He was Ready Kilowatt's second cousin. And was rumored to be gay because, for a postal worker, he seemed to have a little too much zip.
Trivia: Mr. Zip’s mid-'60s theme song was 'Zip-a-dee-doo-dah' sung by Ethel Merman.
Prior to ZIP codes, major cities were divided into postal codes - established in 1943. In those days, I lived in Philadelphia 24, Penna.
Thursday July 22, 2004
Magnum Force: Jerry Flint likes the new Dodge Magnum. I saw one today in jet black with blacked-out windows. Looked very cruel and distinctive, which is more than you can say for most cars these days.
Also spotted a tired, gray, bustle-backed 1981 Cadillac Seville. A good friend of mine has a two-toned '81 with the original 4-6-8 engine. And it still works. And that odd and oft-cursed engine has never given him any trouble. It may be the only one still in existence.
Killer Statistics: China has 1.9% of the world's cars but accounts for 15% of global fatalities, more than twice as many deaths than in the U.S. which has 30% of the world’s cars.
What will cars look like in 2035? See the '35 Audi in I-Robot here. Cool.
Ja Wohl: Germans are Europe's worst binge drinkers with almost one in five believing the point of drinking is to get drunk.
It's A Bird ... A man in a Superman costume attacks motorists.
Unrequited Love: Environmental activist killed by a tree.
Wednesday July 21, 2004
Less Sportiness: Toyota will discontinue the Celica and the MR2 after the 2005 model year. The Celica was introduced in 1971 as a small, sporty hardtop coupe. Compared with most Japanese cars of the era, it had pleasant, 'normal' styling and was a pleasant, reliable alternative to its contemporaries, the Ford Pinto, Chevrolet Vega and, later, the dreaded Mustang II.
Toyota introduced the mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive 'Mr. Two' in 1985. The MR2 offered consumers exotic car design and excitement without the exotic car price. It was almost $20,000 less than a Lotus Elise or Porsche Boxster. And was better, in some ways, than either of them. Unfortunately, the absence of the MR2 and Celica will mean less sportiness for the Toyota brand.
Donkeys vs. Elephants: For their convention, the Democrats are jerking around the local Boston cab drivers, forcing them to accept discounted vouchers for delegates' rides. Meanwhile, call girls are flying in "from London, Seattle, California" for the Republican Convention.
With fees ranging from $300 to $1,000, it's no wonder that "everyone wants to work," a madam remarked. Sooooo ... for Democrats, the mantra is 'Price Controls for the Benefit of a Select Few.' For Republicans, it's 'Free Markets Mean More Jobs. Let's Party!'
Nom de Plume: Hans Moleman is listed as the author of a pretty good article at National Review Online. He is described as "an National Education Association employee and lifelong Democrat who prefers to remain anonymous. He has no relation to the Simpsons character by the same name. Any similarities are purely coincidental."
The real Hans Moleman is a short, elderly man with thick glasses - sort of a timid version of Mr. Magoo. He makes frequent appearances on The Simpsons and owned an AMC Gremlin which burst into flames after he crashed it into a tree. In another Simpsons episode, he was buried alive at a cemetery because he "didn't want to put up a fuss." A poet, Hans once wrote, "I think that I shall never see. My cataracts are blinding me." He hosts Springfield's morning radio show: "Hello, this is 'Moleman in the Morning.' Good Moleman to you. Today - Part Four of our series of the agonizing pain in which I live every daaaaaaay."
He also visited the 'Just Crichton and King Bookstore' at the Springfield Mall, asking, "Do you have anything by Robert Ludlum?" An angry clerk snarled, "Get out!"
Tuesday July 20, 2004
Car Sightings: Saw a 1965 Mercury Comet and a '66 Mustang - both blue, both convertibles, both driven by geezers (like me). Also saw a very ugly but wonderfully preserved 1962 Ambassador sedan in white over rose. And a blue and white late-1960s International Harvester pickup truck as well as a little yellow and white Nash Metropolitan.
And a brand-new, low-slung, arrest-me-red Dodge Magnum wagon driven by a mid-fifties female with her mother as passenger. Hardly the target market, methinks.
Stupid Lawyer; Stupid Name: Ford Motor Co., after losing a naming rights battle with auto parts chain Pep Boys, seller of 'Futura' brand tires, has renamed its upcoming midsized sedan 'Fusion.' Ford announced the Futura name at the 2003 New York International Auto Show, explaining the five-seat sedan is aimed squarely at midsize sedans such as Toyota Camry.
In April, a federal court ruled Philadelphia-based Pep Boys had a better claim to the moniker. How could Ford's Legal Department lose this one? Ford introduced the Lincoln Futura showcar in 1955 and followed up with the production Ford Falcon Futura coupe in 1961 or so. Long before Pep Boys were selling Futura tires.
Ford should fire its entire Legal Department. And its Naming Department.
Hot Enough For Ya?: "Global warming has finally been explained; the Earth is getting hotter because the Sun is burning more brightly than at any time during the past 1,000 years, according to new research."
So ... it's not due to my cars after all.
Close To You: Talented but anorexic singer Karen Carpenter died in 1983.
Since then, she had been entombed in a very impressive crypt in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Cypress, California. In December, 2003, her brother and surviving half of the singing duo, Richard, had Karen and their parents exhumed, moved and re-interred in a newly-constructed family mausoleum at Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks Memorial Park in Westlake Village, CA.
Apparently, this was done so that the bodies would be closer to his new home in Thousand Oaks. Creepy.
You're no good ... you're no good ... you're no good, baby ... Aladdin Hotel President Bill Timmins ordered security guards to escort pop diva Linda Ronstadt off the Las Vegas property following a concert during which she expressed support for filmmaker Michael Moore.
Timmins had Ronstadt escorted to her tour bus and her belongings from her hotel room sent to her and sent word that she was no longer welcome.
T&A: A cop is accused of using the closed-circuit surveillance system at San Francisco International Airport to "focus on women's breasts and buttocks.'
He overrode the normal workings of the cameras and kept other officers from using the surveillance system.
Monday July 19, 2004
Zodiac ... Taurus, Cancer: Ford Motor Co. is recalling 899,060 Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable sedans in cold weather states because salt from the roads could corrode and fracture the cars' front coil springs.
Hemi Dog! No kidding ... look here.
Boom! Larry Kudlow writes: "The budget deficit is starting to substantially shrink. It seems that a flood of new tax collections, spurred by fatter employment payrolls and corporate profits, is rapidly reducing the federal budget gap. Could it be that stronger economic growth from lower tax rates is producing more tax receipts? I believe it's called supply-side economics."
Blame America: "Naturally, as with everything else, global AIDS is all America's fault. Never mind that with less than a third of the world's GDP, the U.S. government is spending twice as much on the problem this year as the rest of the planet combined."
"Are there really two Americas?" asks Arnold Kling. "Consider what you can see with your own eyes. Is your family worse off than it was in the 1970s? Are many of the families that you know worse off? Do the people that you see in shopping malls, on vacation, on the highway, or in restaurants look like they are worse off than they were thirty years ago? In the 1970's, ordinary working people drove Vegas and Pintos. They did not eat out much. They rarely traveled by airplane. Many of their jobs were dangerous. Do you really think that there are many working Americans today who would trade places with their 1970's counterparts?"
Read the entire, interesting, statistics-laden article. Stop whining. Life is good.
Good Fences Make Good Neighbors. "The security fence separating Israelis from Palestinians. The fence is only one-quarter built, and yet it has already resulted in an astonishing reduction in suicide attacks into Israel. In the last four months, two Israelis have died in suicide attacks, compared with 166 killed in the same time frame at the height of the terror."
Quote of the Day is from Charlie Sykes: "Where Ronald Reagan saw America as a shining city on a hill, John Edwards sees the potential for a lot of 'slip and fall' cases."
Which Olsen Twin Are You? Ashley or Mary-Kate? Oh-My-God! Oh-My-God! I'm sooooooo not believing this! I'm Mary-Kate!
Saturday July 17, 2004
Lube Job: The Detroit Free Press offers this advice: "Don't be fooled by pricey, fancy oils."
Some of my fellow car buddies are big fans of synthetic motor oil. I've never used it. I might feel differently if we had more extreme temperatures here in the Pacific Northwest. But we don't. I check the oil on my cars ever 500 miles or so. None of them are oil burners. I clean the engine compartments once or twice a year - just looking for odd drips and leaks which may indicate a problem.
I follow the factory recommendations on oil changes; I've seen no advantage to changing oil more frequently. If we put a million miles on cars before we replaced them, I might feel differently. But, we trade our cars every 80 to 150K miles and, even at those mileages, they're not burning oil.
I'm not much of a believer in the 'magic' of special oils. Ol' Tom McCahill used to refer to ... (more >>>)
Friday July 16, 2004
Nothing's Perfect: Mark Phelan of The Detroit Free Press tested the BMW 6-Series. He liked the car: "That very substantial price tag buys a car with extraordinary performance, comfort and a raft of impressive new technologies."
But: "The coupe and convertible I tested also suffered from a number of minor electronic failures, however, and a couple of poorly fitted interior pieces. The convertible's rear window squeaked whenever I raised or lowered it, and a lovely piece of wooden trim sagged beneath the coupe's passenger-side armrest, revealing a nasty gap."
For $80,000 or so, I expect perfection. Or a BMW repair gnome living in the trunk.
Surprise! It's obvious that the Department of Homeland Security is doing something right; we haven't had a terrorist attack on U.S. soil in almost three years. Good. But I wish that Tom Ridge would stop arching his eyebrows and looking wide-eyed during press conferences. It gives the appearance of perpetual surprise.
I don't think the Director of Homeland Security should ever look surprised. Where's ol' J. Edgar Hoover's permanent scowl when you need it? Or his evening gown?
Phantom Menace: Steve Antler of Econopundit has altered Fortune magazine's John Kerry interview, inserting the humorously biting-yet-appropriate remarks/questions from "a phantom small business guy who Fisks both Fortune and Kerry."
As a small business owner, I'm waiting for Kerry to answer some of these questions. And clarify his statements. Good job, Steve.
Question of the Day: If American mothers feed their babies with tiny little spoons and forks, what do Chinese mothers use? Toothpicks?
Thursday July 15, 2004
Gluttony: Currently, there are 3.5 million unsold new vehicles - a Big Glut. The inventory of unsold cars and trucks - especially at General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. - "has reached the point where the two automakers hypothetically could shut their plants the rest of the year and not sell out some of their best-known models until after the presidential election."
Apparition: AutoExtremist spotted a 2005 Ford 500 sedan driving down the street and proclaimed it 'The Ghost of Fairmonts Past': "Mark my words on this one, folks, the Ford 500 will be the rental car of choice in 2005."
Ouch! Read my thoughts on the Ford 500 here.
Buh-Bye: "Al-Qaida and its terrorist allies are on the run in Iraq and elsewhere. Just as President Bush vowed two years ago, they're running out of room - and friends ... That which was unthinkable only a few years ago - a more open, democratic Mideast - becomes quite thinkable today. For this, credit President Bush's steadfastness of purpose in Iraq. Credit also the character and professionalism of our troops and the willingness of good Iraqis to step up when things got tough. It's paying off."
Actions Have Consequences: Comedian Whoopi Goldberg will no longer appear in ads for Slim-Fast - fired after her lewd riff on President Bush's name at a fund-raiser last week. Another no-talent, loud-mouthed 'actress' bites the dust!
Warp Factor Ultra-Ego, Mr. Sulu. A revealing quote from William Shattner: "I'm so not ready to die. It petrifies me ... it is the end. I become nameless, and I spent a lifetime being known." (Hint: This quote is much funnier if you read it aloud, imitating the Captain Kirk/Shattner voice.)
Headline From The Onion: 'Sheepish Secret Service Agent Can't Explain How Vacuum Cleaner Salesman Got Into Oval Office'.
Wednesday July 14, 2004
Hot Sound: DaimlerChrysler faces a U.S. investigation and potential recall of 418,783 of its 2002-model minivans because of reports of audio-system fires. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's inquiry includes Dodge Caravan, Plymouth and Chrysler Voyager and Chrysler Town & Country minivans.
Good & Evil: The vice presidential choice is between 'Evil' Dick Cheney/Halliburton and 'Good' John Edwards/Hair.
So far during Cheney's tenure, gasoline prices have increased about 25% - costing me about $320 extra in 2004 compared with 2000.
During roughly the same period, my medical insurance premiums have increased by almost 100%. The primary cause? Litigation. Personified by the VP-wannabe John Edwards, who - remarkably - managed to 'channel' the spirit of an unborn child during his 1985 presentation to a jury.
His remarkable fetal communication talent did not stop Edwards from voting in favor of partial-birth abortions. Go figure. Sounds Evil.
On the other hand, columnist Jay Bryant thinks Dick Cheney is the best Vice President we've ever had.
Meanwhile, my added medical premiums are $6,000 per year more than in 2000. I don't think Dick Cheney is Evil and I'm voting the way my wallet tells me to. Good.
Homer Simpson's Advice to his long-suffering wife about raising son Bart: "Don't discourage the boy, Marge! Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It's what separates us from the animals! Except the weasel."
Tuesday, July 13, 2004
Afrika-Benz: DaimlerChrysler may cut 6,000 jobs and shift some production of Mercedes C-class models outside of Germany if its union opposes deeper cost cuts. The company threatens to move production of the C-class to South Africa.
Saabaru II: Coming in 2007 - a $40,000 Subaru made in Indiana with Swedish Saab badges.
It's Corrupt and Useless ... Get Rid of It. Or at least get its headquarters out of the U.S. Thomas Sowell writes: "The UN stood idly by in Rwanda while mass slaughters went on. The UN passed resolution after resolution on Iraq for years, without taking any action to enforce them. Indeed, the UN was part of the massive corruption in the oil-for-food program, which enabled Saddam Hussein to divert money intended to feed the Iraqi people into buying weapons and palaces for himself. When the UN seated Libya on its human rights committee, that was a sign of its moral bankruptcy. So was its conference on racism, which featured anti-Semitic propaganda by Arab countries."
But Wait, There's More: Mexico, whose economy was bailed out by the IMF under U.S. guidance and support in 1994, continues to receive some $15 million in foreign aid from the United States. Yet Mexico votes against our interests in the United Nations 62% of the time. No more foreign aid for you, señor.
India steals our jobs and votes against our interests 80% of the time in the U.N. but gets $144 million from America. Why? Egypt votes against U.S. interests 66% of the time, yet gets over $2 freaking-billion. Jordan, with all their corrupt oil money and a similar anti-U.S. voting record, gets $192 million. Cut 'em off immediately! Let Queen Noor buy her designer clothes with her own damn money.
And can you believe that we actually give Cuba two million bucks per year in foreign aid?!
Enough! It is time to withhold generosity from those who bite our extended hand of friendship. It's time to pay for performance - based on U.N. voting records, contributions to the War On Terror and other relevant benchmarks. Since North Korea is right next door to China, let's revoke China's Most Favored Nation status until they "eliminate" Kim Jong Il and his nukes. Make North Korea their problem to solve.
Hollywood Moron: Actor Richard Gere criticized President Bush's policy to combat AIDs during an international conference. He said the money spent on the Iraq War "probably could have eradicated this illness."
Hey, dummy, if we don't win the War on Terror (of which Iraq is a part), you won't have to wring your hands over AIDs. Radical Islamists will take over America and eradicate AIDs their own way, beheading every homosexual male and hanging every I.V. drug user. All women with AIDs will be declared Unclean Harlots and promptly stoned to death. Done in accordance with their 'laws,' of course.
You just don't get it, Gere. Idiot.
Awww, They Wouldn't Do That, Would They? Can't we all just live in peace? (1.) Yes, they would. (2.) No we can't.
Consider this news item: "Suspected Muslim guerillas sliced off the nose, ears and tongue of a 14-year-old girl in Indian Kashmir on Monday, believing her to be an informer for the Indian army." The girl was abducted from her home near Kashmir.
Richard Gere apparently had no comment.
Monday July 12, 2004
Priorities: John Kerry is too busy for terror briefings but not too busy to listen to Whoopi Goldberg make dirty jokes about Bush.
"Kerry could be seen laughing uproariously during part of Goldberg's tirade - and neither he nor Edwards voiced a single objection to its tone when they spoke to the crowd."
Book Report: 'Concept Cars' by Larry Edsall. As a young lad, perusing Motor Trend, Motor Life, Mechanix Illustrated and the like in the 1950s, I was always fascinated by photos of 'dream cars' created by Detroit. And by Bertone, Pininfarina, etc. The ones with soaring fins, bubble tops, sparkling pearlescent paint mixed with crushed fish scales and acres of chrome. I never thought I'd ever get to view any in person. Looking over this book, I'm surprised at how many of these show cars I have seen over the years - at the Henry Ford Museum, Pebble Beach, the original Harrah's in Reno, Concours Italiano, the New York Auto Show, etc. Even today, I still salivated over the excellent photos of the early dream cars in this book.
It has been published by Barnes & Noble as a 'B&N Exclusive' - meaning that B&N can price it any way it wants without fear of price cutting by Overstock.com, Amazon or the like. A car buddy gave the book to me as a gift. It cost him sixteen bucks or so - and, for the price, the book is a good value. But it is by no means a comprehensive view of the subject. I found several errors. And the book gives short shrift to early dream cars, focusing heavily on recent models. There are too many sketches at the expense of photos. Too much emphasis is on design schools and individual stylists. The cars and photographs of them should be the stars here.
Interestingly, a book with the exact same title was produced by B&N in 2000; the author was Chris Rees. While the photos weren't as good, the book covered the subject a little more comprehensively. That said, both books offer a superficial hot wax spray, rather than a thorough detailing of the subject. I know ... whaddya expect for sixteen bucks?
The best and most comprehensive concept car book ever published is 'Ford Design Department Concept & Showcars' by Jim & Cheryl Farrell (1999). Unfortunately, it only deals with FoMoCo products. Another fairly detailed book is 'Dream Cars' by Jean-Rodolphe Piccard from 1981 - it covers many automobile marques. For GM fans, I'd recommend 'GM Motorama: Dream Cars of the Fifties' by Bruce Berghoff from 1995. Finally, 'The Last Dream-O-Rama' by Bruce McCall (2002) - a hilarious parody of the GM Motorama - is a must for any '50s dream car aficionado. Happy reading.
Headlines from The Onion: 'Supreme Court Told To Take Down Tip Jar.' And: 'Nation’s Liberals Suffering From Outrage Fatigue.'
Saturday July 10, 2004
Clang, Clang, Clang: Last year, James Lileks has bemoaned the return of the trolley to Minneapolis: "Heading into the office today I was startled to see the poles - ten per block, tall and gray, ugly lumps hanging from the wires that laced the poles together. ... And so the intersections now have these latticework constructs, these anal-retentive dreamcatchers, these tic-tac-toe puzzles pasted over your view of the sky."
He added recently that "the operating budget requires an $11K subsidy per passenger per year." Ouch!
The 'romance' of trolleys blinds people to their disadvantages - expensive to build or modify a line or route, inflexible, unable pull to side of the road for passengers to embark/disembark, the overhead wires, the nightmare when one breaks down and on and on. When it used to cost a few hundred thou to construct a line, they were called 'trolleys.' Now that the cost is in the billions, they are referred to as 'light rail vehicles' or 'LRVs.' Sounds more sophisticated and NASA-like.
I guess bureaucrats think that fancy names and acronyms helps justify the outrageous price. Better and smarter to use low-emission buses, in my opinion. They're cheaper (both capital investment and operating costs) and more flexible.
In the 1950s, the Swiss ... (more>>>)
Friday July 9, 2004
Tonight I'm Yours: Veteran rocker Rod Stewart's gardener was so enraged when he was sacked by the veteran rocker, he stole Stewart's $72,000 yellow Dodge Viper from his Palm Beach, Florida mansion and crashed it. Trivia: Rod Stewart played the harmonica solo on Millie Small's 1963 bubble-gum-rock hit, 'My Boy Lollipop.'
Import Fighter: New Chrysler 300 fuels trade-ins of import cars, drawing converts. Among the top 20 models traded for the Chrysler 300 are the Nissan Maxima, Toyota Avalon and Honda Accord - all from Japanese automakers - while the top 10 trade-ins include models from U.S. luxury brands Lincoln and Cadillac. I'm seeing more and more 300s on the road.
Sign That The End (of SUVs) Is Near: The next new model Lamborghini could be a sport-utility vehicle. Lamborghini once sold an outrageous, ugly, 12-cylinder SUV, the LM002, which it introduced in 1982.
More Cylinders: BMW unveils M5 engine BMW will use a V-10 engine in its forthcoming M5 performance sedan. The naturally-aspirated, 5.0-liter powerplant will produce 507 horsepower.
Just to be different, Citroën may offer an 11-cylinder radial engine in its next model.
Automotive Nihilism: "Of the current domestic car crop, only DaimlerChrysler’s 300 and Magnum, Chevy’s Corvette, and Ford’s 2005 Mustang express strong beliefs through either their design or engineering. Customers want to be seen in them because they express a confident image, an American image, one in which the vehicle is at peace with its heritage. Nihilism says vehicles are commodities that give an individual the best deal in the prettiest wrapper. There is no loyalty in this U.N. view of the automotive world, just anarchy. Optimism says loyalty arises out of building vehicles that reflect core values, set standards, and are designed and built by people intent on preserving the common good. It's the only formula for success."
An excellent, concise analysis by Chris Sawyer of Automotive Design & Production.
Mmmmm ... Doughnuts: Mini is attaching a pair of free doughnut coupons to its full-page adverts in car mags. The coupons reward buyers with a dozen free glazed doughnuts when a dozen are purchased.
The ad copy encourages drivers to "take out more than just our license and registration. Let's keep tasty, round, glazed, jelly-filled, chocolate covered friend makers on hand. Let's keep them on the front seat. Let's make sure they're hot. Let's have at least a dozen ways to get out of trouble."
Home of Bevis and Butthead: In Texas, a Ford Contour, engine still running, was found hanging from telephone wires by its right front tire.
Puppy Love: Ann Coulter headline about Kerry's selection of John Edwards: 'In Desperate Move, Kerry Adopts Puppy.' "I guess with John Kerry's choice of John Edwards as his running mate, he really does want to stand up for all Americans, from those worth only $60 million to those worth in excess of $800 million."
Edwards Rewritten: My version of John Edwards' stump speech: "Today, there are two Americas, not one: One America that does the work, another America that sues the people who do the work."
Thursday July 8, 2004
Fat Cats: James Lileks opines on the Edwards-as-V.P. choice: "... I do find it amusing that these guys are all so steeeenking rich. You have a guy whose wife is worth a cool billion and another guy with several dozen million running on a platform of hiking taxes on people who make 200K. Class warfare, man!"
Reformation II? The Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon (just across the river from here) became the first Catholic diocese in the country to seek bankruptcy protection because of multimillion-dollar awards given to victims of clergy sex abuse. This action will be followed closely by Catholic dioceses and parishes throughout the U.S. and could result in drastic structural changes to the U.S. Catholic Church.
Several years ago, when I was a board member of a regional nonprofit, I pushed to form an independent corporation to separate our region from any future woes of the national organization. We did so, thankfully. The national group is presently being sued for ... (more >>>)
Wednesday July 7, 2004
Racer Requiem: Rodger Ward, a two-time Indianapolis 500 winner in the glory era of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, died at 83.
Ward won the 500 in 1959 and '62 to become the race's sixth multiple winner. He was the last surviving race winner from the 1950s and earned respect and admiration from his peers.
Boom! The economy is set for the best growth in 20 years ... many analysts are forecasting that the overall economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, will grow by 4.6 percent or better this year, the fastest in two decades. And the ABC/Money magazine CCI - consumer comfort index - is at a 5-month high.
Book Report: 'Father Joe: The Man Who Saved My Soul' by Tony Hendra is a tribute to his spiritual mentor. Father Joe is a wise but unassuming Benedictine monk who brings common sense and truth to the problems Hendra offers him over a 40-plus year period. A stuttering, big-eared, ungainly man, cloistered in an ancient abbey on the Isle of Wight, Father Joe is a good listener and deeply spiritual. He is undoubtedly a saint and, for Hendra, an anchor in a storm-tossed life.
Of Tony Hendra, things are less certain. An accomplished writer, satirist and actor, he sunk ... (more >>>)
Tuesday July 6, 2004
Not Every Handover Involves Saddam: Battle Ground's only decent Italian restaurant, Dante's, has been sold and will become Leonardo's. Leonardo's has a location in Vancouver - we've tried it and the gourmet pizza is really good. So, in this case, change is a good thing.
Nevertheless, we dined at Dante's last week on one of their famous Garlic & Cheese combo pizzas with sliced meatballs on the top. And some of their wonderful minestrone soup with focaccia bread. And a liter of Merlot. Leonardo's will offer their own style of pizza and will probably sell wine by the more-expensive, more-profitable bottle.
We used to go to Dante's for lunch when they first opened 14 years ago. But they stopped long ago. Leonardo's will offer lunch, beginning in late July. Another good thing.
Car Sightings: Lots of old cars observed over the holiday weekend, including a very nice 1967 white Buick Electra 225 with a powder blue convertible top, a metallic-cherry '47-or-so Chevy street rod, a mid-'60s Triumph Spitfire roadster and a red and white '59 Ford Custom 300 two-door sedan with '80s-era mag wheels.
Don't Sit: Ford Motor Company says dealers must stop the sale, demonstration and delivery of certain 2004 Ford Taurus, Thunderbird and Mercury Sable models due to potential seat failures.
Also True For Kias, Daewoos, Lotuses, MGs and Fiats: India's railways minister has absolved himself of blame for accidents plaguing the world's largest train network, saying the fate of its 13 million daily passengers rested with the Hindu god of machines, Vishwakarma.
One More Reason To Go Mac: "The U.S. government's Computer Emergency Readiness Team, or US-CERT, published a warning strongly suggesting that users of Microsoft's Internet Explorer should switch to another Web browser."
Or pray to Vishwakarma.
July 4th Weekend
Volvo Limos, The Liberty Bell and Relieving The Itch: In Philadelphia, I once saw a one-off, factory-built Volvo 164 limo (in the style of the old Cadillac 75s with a coupe-like small window aft of the rear door) parked on Market Street in front of the Liberty Bell. It was bracketed by police cars and was observed during a visit of King Carl Gustaf (of Sweden) to the U.S.
The car was an elegant, dark gray with flags on the front fenders; time frame was 1976-77 or so. I guess ol' Carl wanted to see the Bell. Big deal; I used to see it almost every day. I worked right across the street from the ugly Liberty Bell Museum - the one that looked like a car wash. (It has now been replaced with a new building. I haven't seen it yet. Probably even uglier but trendier-looking and bombproof or something.)
As an eight year-old Cub Scout, I got to bang The Bell with a wooden mallet during a field trip to Independence Hall. They used to keep The Bell under the back stairs. And treated it with disdain. The tour hostess said to us ... (more >>>)
Friday July 2, 2004
NASCAR Negativity: Peter DeLorenzo of AutoExtremist writes: "It's time for Detroit to finally pull the plug on their NASCAR involvement ... the reality is that NASCAR has become counterproductive to "Detroit" - and its cumulative and urgent interest in stemming the import tide, and it desperate mission to stop the erosion of market share in the North American market."
Dissing NASCAR is downright un-American to some but I agree with Peter. Stock car racing meant something to me in the 1950s and early '60s when the cars looked 'stock' - like the ones you could actually buy in an automobile showroom. (That's why it was called 'stock car' racing.)
Today's NASCAR machines are 200-mph advertising labels which look like they've been modeled after some 29¢ misshapen polyethylene toy from a K-Mart discount bin with the requisite fake-o grille and headlight decals stuck on the front. I haven't watched NASCAR in years. Too boring.
Auto manufacturers should emulate the Japanese - take the NASCAR sponsorship money and spend it on improving product quality instead.
Speaking of NASCAR, try to imagine the resultant uproar if a white person said this: Jesse Jackson says NASCAR should feature more African-American drivers because "Negroes can drive cars fast. We go through red lights, even drive at night with our lights off."
Since stereotyping is now, apparently, green-flagged by NASCAR (Jackson made his remarks at a NASCAR function) ... may I suggest that, when the yellow flag comes out at NASCAR races and they bring out the pace car to slow down the traffic, they use a Saturn sedan driven by an Asian.
Car Quality: Toyota Motor Corp. remains the automaker with the most dependable vehicles, led by its Lexus luxury brand, though Detroit's Big Three manufacturers all showed improvement in the past year, according to the latest J.D. Power and Associates vehicle dependability study.
Honda, Buick, Infiniti, Cadillac and Lincoln also did well. The bottom five in terms of problems per 100 vehicles were Volkswagen (386), Isuzu (393), Daewoo (411), Kia (432) and Land Rover (472). The worst model - Kia Spectra - had 526 problems per 100 models - more than four times the number of glitches in the top-ranked Lexus LS 430.
Non-Lean Cuisine: This week, we dined on wonderfully greasy, fried Walla-Walla onion rings and Walla-Walla cheeseburgers at Burgerville. (See my June 25th posting.)
My wife complained that the resultant indigestion kept her awake at night. I explained that the best food always gives you a Near-Death Experience.
Modified Ann Coulter Headline: "Saddam In Custody - Michael Moore Still At Large." Or ... Michael Moore Still Large.
Witnesses For Saddam: "Do you think Michael Moore will testify? Ted Kennedy?" asks Kathryn Jean Lopez of The National Review.
Magic Vote/Odd Quote: "Women who have what we call the four magic M's - marriage, munchkins, mortgages and mutual funds - are much more likely to vote than their unmarried, non-stake holding, non-ownership counterparts," writes Bella M. DePaulo in the New York Times - obviously a female - but, somehow, the quote seems sexist.
And calling children 'munchkins' strikes me as cutesy-creepy.
Scary Observation: Is it just me or does Saddam Hussein with a trimmed beard and dressed in a suit look like he could pass for Dennis Miller's father?
Thursday July 1, 2004
Car Technology Runs Amok: I often exchange correspondence with car friends, mailing them magazine articles, etc. One of my car buddies just sent me an article from the April 2004 issue of Automobile magazine. (Unfortunately, the article is not posted on Automobile's website.)
Jamie Kitman - a very knowledgeable writer who has appeared in other car buff mags - pens a column, 'Noise, Vibration and Harshness.' April's is titled 'Crapulent Luxury' and tells the tale of making an uneventful drive in an economy Mitsubishi from New York to Detroit in order to pick up a luxurious 2004 Jaguar XJ8 sedan. Then things got eventful. Warning lights flashed for no reason. After a tire blowout on the road, Kitman couldn't change the tire because the factory wrench stripped three of the "cheap, soft and unremovable aluminum glamorizing covers on the lug nuts." The $66,000 Jaguar was hauled away on a flatbed, with an $800 alloy wheel ruined and no replacement in-stock. So, Kitman switched to a BMW 745Li which was also suffered from electronic gremlins. Arriving back in New York, he had to take it to a BMW dealer for repairs.
Kitman's article arrived in the mail along with a separate package from Jaguar USA, urging me to buy a new 2004 XJ8. Dripping with unplanned irony, the package contained an 80-page special report on the technically sophisticated beast, prepared by - guess who? - the staff of Automobile.
After reading Kitman's column about the horrors of the 2004 "advanced" Jaguar, I'm definitely keeping my aging but reliable 1996 XJ6 Vanden Plas. It has never left me stranded. My straight-six Jag seems every bit as fast as a V-8 Jaguar sedan I test drove.
When my Jag reaches 100,000 miles in a few years, I may get the front-end repainted (to eliminate many years of stone chip accumulation) but, at this point, I have no interest in replacing this fine-looking, trustworthy machine with the kind of techno-nightmare described by Kitman. Wired.com offers more on this subject.
Success Tax: "The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993, which raised the top marginal individual income tax rate, was estimated to have reduced the probability of entry into self employment for upper middle income households by as much as 20 percent."
Ronald Reagan was right - lower tax rates foster entrepreneurship, creating more jobs and more tax dollar revenue. Democrats, especially Hillary (see yesterday's posting) just don't get it. Hat tip to Steve Antler at Econopundit.
We're Here To Help You: TheOnion.com reports: "In an effort to streamline degradation of the American populace and consolidate all forms of bureaucratic hassle into one convenient mailing, federal officials announced Monday that, beginning in 2005, the government will issue all citizens an annual 'Screw You' packet."
Knowing Me, Knowing You: Is it just me or does Fox News' Greta Van Susteren have a vaguely foreign look? I always expect to hear her speak with an accent like one of the chicks from ABBA.
Quote of the Day is from Linda Chavez: "Unions represent the largest source of unregulated - in some cases, illegal - money in politics today. Not only did unions contribute $90.1 million directly to the Democrats in 2000, they also spent $46 million in a grassroots’ effort to mobilize Democratic voters, registered 2.3 million new union household voters, made 8 million phone calls and distributed $14 million leaflets in the workplace, but they also spent untold millions for paid union staff to work directly in Democratic campaigns. Most of this money comes directly out of the dues of union members - usually without their permission or even knowledge."
"The National Education Association, the nation’s largest and one of the wealthiest (almost $350 million in revenues in 2002), claims it spends zero on politics, yet the NEA maintains a staff of 1,800 political operatives, more than the combined staff of the Democratic and Republican National Committees combined."
Unions - created to prevent abuses - now foster them. Sad.