Tuesday June 29, 2010
The Last Nash: In 1916, when Charlie Nash bought the Thomas B. Jeffery Company of Kenosha, Wisconsin, he got the chance to build his own car, having worked in the carriage and automobile business for over 20 years. By 1923, Nash was making 60,000 cars per year and could barely keep up with demand.
Nash automobiles developed a reputation for sturdiness and durability. Nash's successor, George Mason carried on that tradition. In 1941, Nash adopted unit-body construction for the new 600 model, in order to save weight and produce a quieter car with fewer rattles and squeaks than its competitors. That year, the firm sold 80,000 cars.
After the war, the company sought to distinguish itself with distinctive aero styling. The 1949 Nash Airflyte featured a teardrop shape and enclosed wheel wells, a Mason favorite. Detractors said that it looked like a 1930s cartoon car of the future and it acquired the moniker 'bathtub Nash.'
In 1952, the big Nash models were given a complete restyle based on a design by Italian coachbuilder Pinin Farina. Unfortunately, the Carrozzeria Pinin Farina prototype was substantially changed for production, with more bulbous sides and Mason-preferred skirted wheels. The effect was less-than-pleasing to many.
Realizing that independents needed to join forces in order to compete with the Detroit Big Three, George Mason arranged for the merger of Nash and Hudson in May, 1954. He died shortly thereafter and was succeeded by protégé, George Romney.
In 1955, over 125,000 Nashes were sold; in '56, sales dropped perilously to 22,173 units, undone by fuddy-duddy styling and a Big Three price war driven by overcapacity. In 1957, Nash made its final appearance. Front wheel wells were finally opened up, stacked quad headlamps decorated the front fender edges and a more powerful 255 horsepower V8 engine was available.
Noted auto writer Richard M. Langworth has said that the 1957 Nash offered ... (more >>>)
Book Review: 'You Can't Get to Heaven on the Frankford El' by Thomas J. Lyons II
If you're of a certain age, you'll really enjoy Tom's memoir about growing up in the golden age of postwar America and finding his place in the turbulent, fast moving 1960s. It is an affectionate and nostalgic look back at the late 1940s through mid-1960s. Tom's book is set in Northeast Philadelphia; if you're a Philly native, the names of old hangouts and NJ shore stuff will make you smile and nod. As will the tales of the Frankford El, Philadelphia's ancient, rattly crosstown elevated transit line.
If your ancestry ... (more >>>)
Customers So Good, They're No Good: Minneapolis-based Gander Mountain, a retailer of hunting, fishing, camping, and outdoor lifestyle products, has charged in a federal lawsuit that the bank that issues its "co-branded" cards is threatening to deny new applications from about 25% of the sporting goods chain's customers - those with the highest credit scores. The St. Paul-based company wants a court order blocking the practice.
The bank, World Financial Network National Bank of Columbus, Ohio, said it loses money on such customers since they tend not to carry balances or incur late fees. World Financial has more than 85 credit card programs with retailers including Limited Brands, J. Crew, Pottery Barn, Eddie Bauer, Restoration Hardware and Victoria's Secret.
World Financial is not the only credit card issuer playing games with customers. I experienced similar problems last year, even though I pay an annual fee for the airline-mileage card in question. The sponsoring bank has been trying to get rid of all "transactors", customers who pay off their balances on-time each month.
Gander Mountain's competitor, Cabela's, owns their credit card and banking operation and is happy to issue cards to fast-pay customers. Transactors welcome.
Money For Nothing: Last week CNBC's Rick Santelli proclaimed: "I haven't seen any stimulus. I've seen a lot of spending. And in terms of choice, austerity isn't something people are going to volunteer for. The creditors are going to force it on them. I think these issues are much different than we're selling them. You know, we don't have a new Hoover Dam. We don't have a new electric grid. We paid a bunch of salaries and benefits and extension benefits, unemployment with a lot of that money that you save jobs because you paid teachers because states couldn't afford it.
I don't think any of that really falls under a definition of stimulus. ... I mean, the notion of stimulus is you want capital in the system, but when you have artificial stimulus, you give capital to the people that aren't really creating an expansive employment scenario or creating something that's actually positive for a society.
What you end up doing is putting capital to businesses that on their own couldn't get capital and that's for a reason. The market didn't allocate it because they didn't deserve it."
Santelli asked why should taxpayers all over the country should be held responsible for the woes of a local government brought on by its own irresponsibility. "Because that's what people pay property taxes for, and if the state of California when the bubble was going on raised boatloads of property taxes, why should the value of somebody's house make collecting garbage more expensive, running transportation more expensive? It doesn't. They spent all the money. So, why does my share have to pay for their teachers?"
Creating makework and more government jobs will not produce a recovery. Nor will shifting burdens from deadbeat individuals, failed corporations, distraught banks and spendthrift states to honest taxpayers.
Karl Denninger believes that there is no recovery and that our "entire economy is dependent on government support. We are in a Depression now and have been since 2008. A Depression is defined as a 10% contraction in GDP. But for the government borrowing 11% of GDP and spending it, GDP would have contract by at least the same amount borrowed and spent.
That is a Depression and the intentional avoidance of recognition of same only accumulate more damage to GDP that ultimately must be faced and absorbed.
Geithner and Obama have continued to insist that we "spend and borrow more", along with idiots like Krugman and Summers. Their entire model is predicated on what amounts to a claim of perpetual motion, which anyone with more than one hour of physics class knows is impossible."
Coming Soon: Paparazzi is headed to Battle Ground, WA. Owner Lloyd Taylor, who once operated the late, lamented and legendary Bacchus in Vancouver, says his latest restaurant, an Italian eatery which will also feature pizza, will "offer a Tuscan feel."
Located in Battle Ground at the site of the former Leonardo's - and, before that, Dante's - the new eatery will open its doors for dinner in July. Taylor said that Dante's was more successful than Leonardo's - not surprising considering that Dante's always had better food and service, even if its unergonomic plywood booths were back-breaking.
We plan to sample Paparazzi's wares in the near future.
Goodbye Evansville: Hundreds of people worked their final shifts last week at the Whirlpool refrigerator factory in Evansville, Indiana. It's that big one you pass on your way from the airport to town.
The plant's production line was shut down after turning out refrigerators for 54 years, meaning the loss of some 600 jobs. About 450 other workers were laid off in March when Whirlpool ended its second production shift.
The company announced last year that it would shut down the factory and move production to Mexico.
Most "American" washers are now made in Mexico as well.
Earlier this month, I wrote about our recent appliance adventures. In today's appliance marketplace, brand names are almost meaningless; everything is build-to-a-price crap - often with cheesy components made in Asia.
Quote of the Day is from Jay Leno: "America needs Obama-care like Nancy Pelosi needs a Halloween mask."
Friday June 25, 2010
Only Pennies A Day: General Motors is looking to boost auto sales by lining up banks and other financial institutions to make loans and lease deals for buyers with poor credit.
"Our share of the stupid and gullible market segment has been dropping alarmingly and we are taking aggressive steps to get these suckers back," said a GM spokesperson who wished to remain anonymous.
Why We Must Suppress Time Travel: Yes, yes, I'm aware of the usual concerns about disrupting the consequences of history: do-gooders would try and stop the assassinations of Lincoln, Kennedy and Archduke Franz Ferdinand with possibly disastrous results.
Not to mention those who would 'save' Jesus from crucifixion, probably with lasers, several armored Hummers, Bruce Willis and machine guns.
These are all worrisome but I'm most disturbed that various federal agencies, especially the EPA and OSHA, might get their hands on a few time capsules. And that's where the real trouble would begin ... (more >>>)
Great Discoveries: Found in my files from 1980 or so ... (more >>>)
Support America; Buy Pliers From This Guy: Channellock is an old-line 124 year-old Pennsylvania firm which makes hand tools, including its famous namesake pliers. Channellocks are the best; I've used them for almost 50 years. The company produces all its tools in America and employs over 400.
Company president William S. Dearmint has no time for ObamaNonsense and the Gang in Washington: "I recently wrote about the ongoing lack of leadership in our country. ... We continue to be driven by unknowing, no "skin-in-the-game," income-redistributing, progressive-spendthrift members of Congress and White House staff. They have no respect for the private sector, for manufacturing or for our country. ... We need a manufacturing-sector program to make U.S. manufacturers more competitive on a global basis. The Obama Administration doesn't even consider this."
I couldn't agree more. Manufacturing is vital to the economy of the United States because it is a generator of wealth. Taking low-cost raw materials (wood, baking flour, steel) and processing them to produce much more expensive items (furniture, cakes, automobiles) creates profit. This in turn produces prosperity - for individuals and for a nation.
Furthermore, if the nation's products are unique and interesting enough that people in other countries want to buy them, fresh capital is brought into the United States. Such capital can used to expand capacity, improve product offerings and increase efficiency - these things make our wares even more competitive and attractive in the world market.
I have previously written that the U.S. needs to foster manufacturing within its borders. I have proposed four changes ... (more >>>)
On The Other Hand ... some manufacturers are growing. An Indiana coffin maker specializing in plus-sized orders has said business is booming amid the recession because of fat America.
"Goliath Casket of Lynn, Ind., said the obesity epidemic has been keeping business strong, with the largest casket made by the company a 7-foot-by-7-foot coffin for a man in Alaska."
More on caskets, funerals and such here.
Lord Of The Flies: With all the reports of those pesky insects flying around, landing on and generally annoying President Obama, it's important to remember something I've learned from living in a rural area: bullshit always attracts flies.
I am also reminded of the Sopranos episode when Johnny Sack flattered Uncle Junior with the comment, "You don't miss a thing, do you? If there are any flies on you, they're paying f**king rent."
"Hey Everybody, The School Nurse Is Givin' Out Free Water Balloons!" In Provincetown, Mass. - the legendary gay, artist and weirdo habitat on the extreme tip of Cape Cod - the school district is offering free condoms at school to everyone from first-graders to high-school seniors.
The new policy requires school nurses to supply condoms to "any student who asks."
First and second grade teachers have been advised to wear rain gear in class.
Thought For Today: You know you are getting old when everything either dries up or leaks.
Wednesday June 23, 2010
Great Ride: I'm feeling much better and the sun finally came out, so I took the Plymouth for a drive on Tuesday. It was my first old car outing in over a month.
Burbling V8 sounds from the Glasspacks, the Joe Niagara show blastin' through the speakers, windows down, blue skies, driving north seeing a still-white Mt. St. Helens through the windshield - it just didn't get any better.
Later in the afternoon, I thoroughly washed and spot-waxed my wife's Avalon. It really needed a good cleaning; the Toyota hadn't had a proper bath in months. But it really wore me out; I'm still short in the stamina department.
I Think It Has Finally Happened: While I don't have exact figures, I'm convinced that Mini has now made more 'special editions' than Chrysler's PT Cruiser. The latest is a badge, paint and trim Mini Cooper 'Camden Edition' hatchback, named after "London's trendiest borough."
It's not available for sale in southern New Jersey, I suspect. A 'Camden, NJ Edition' Mini would be an '86 Escort that had been badly accordioned in an accident.
Overnight Success: Apple has sold its three millionth iPad, just 80 days after its introduction in the U.S.
Big Change: After 100 years of local ownership, The Reflector has been sold to a company out of Centralia, WA. The Battle Ground newspaper has been delivered free of charge to 26,500 households in north Clark County every week for longer than I can remember. Marvin Case is the owner; he reportedly purchased the paper for about $100,000 in 1980. This year, he became its longest-tenured publisher.
In my opinion, The Rejector - as it is fondly nicknamed by locals, is the best newspaper in the area. It is ... (more >>>)
Book Review: 'Bailout Nation: How greed and easy money corrupted Wall Street and shook the world economy' by Barry Ritholtz
Having read many postings on the author's blog, I was looking forward to his book. Unfortunately, it is an uneven work. At times, arguments are carefully constructed to support the author's position. On other occasions, opinions are tossed about without supporting information. The logic deteriorated as the book raced to the last page.
For example, Ritholtz believes that the federal government "affordable housing" regulatory fetish contributed nothing to the crisis, and fully exonerates the biggest buyers of subprime paper, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as innocent victims of the evil mortgage originators. Huh?
As the chapters unfold, Barry touts ... (more >>>)
Truth In Fiction: In the novel, 'Guardian of Lies', author Steve Martini has written, "In the nineties, politicians eager to pocket million-dollar speaking fees from foreign trade groups embraced the concept of a global economy. They teamed up with Chinese businessmen and Mexican manufacturers and carved out a zone along the U.S. southern border where trade restrictions were virtually eliminated.
American politicians sold the country on the concept of our being an information economy, that we no longer needed manufacturing or heavy industries, as if you could drive words and eat sentences. They shipped entire job sectors abroad and then railed at the demise of the middle class."
'Qaeda Quagmire: After nine years, the death of 1,000 U.S. troops, a weak, two-faced leader like Karzai, an apathetic and not-to-be-trusted Afghan military, a lack of clearly-stated goals and factional discord between the U.S. military and U.S. diplomats as to whether we can ever "succeed" in Afghanistan, you have to wonder if Kathy Shaidle was right.
She wrote, "My plan was that no later than 2:00 pm ET on September 11, 2001, we nuked Tora Bora." Maybe Kandahar and Kabul, too. Just for good measure.
A-Hole In One: Over at Pugs of War, Ric provides today's Q&A.
Q: "Why did Barack Obama take up golf?"
A: "Because he heard it was a sport where you could improve your lie."
Remember, like slot-car racing, golf is a pastime not a sport. And, just as there are various sizes and scales of slot cars, there is also miniature golf.
On a related note ...
Quote Of The Day is from Dennis Miller: "Washington, D.C. is to lying what Wisconsin is to cheese."
Monday June 21, 2010
"Every Party Has A Pooper ..." Toyota's announcement that it will resume construction of a car factory in Mississippi was a much-needed piece of good news for both the state struggling with persistent unemployment and the automaker trying to recover some goodwill after a recall crisis bruised its reputation. The factory will bring badly needed jobs to Mississippi, where the unemployment rate recently stood at 10.7%.
But there is always a party-pooper and, this time it's United Auto Workers Union who pissed in the metaphorical punch bowl, vowing to bring the UAW to union-unfriendly Mississippi. That's the same goldbricker-laden union that helped bankrupt GM and Chrysler and didn't do Ford any favors.
Additionally, the new UAW president has urged members to picket local Toyota dealers.
A Reefer For Dad: I hope you had a good Father's Day. Among the gifts I received was a nice O-gauge Pennsylvania Railroad Railway Express refrigerator car.
I plan to run it at the head-end of my Broadway Limited passenger consist, pulled by my PRR T-1 steam locomotive. (permalink)
Good Things Come From Do-ers, Not Bureaucrats. Thomas Sowell has written about the many improvements in living over the past century or so (flush toilets, automobiles, air conditioning, electricity, etc.): "Today, more than half of all families with incomes below the official poverty line own a car or truck and have a microwave. This didn't come about because of the politicians, bureaucrats, activists or others in "public service" that you are supposed to admire. No nation ever protested its way from poverty to prosperity or got there through rhetoric or bureaucracies.
It was Thomas Edison who brought us electricity, not the Sierra Club. It was the Wright brothers who got us off the ground, not the Federal Aviation Administration. It was Henry Ford who ended the isolation of millions of Americans by making the automobile affordable, not Ralph Nader.
Those who have helped the poor the most have not been those who have gone around loudly expressing "compassion" for the poor, but those who found ways to make industry more productive and distribution more efficient, so that the poor of today can afford things that the affluent of yesterday could only dream about."
Think about how Henry Ford and Tom Edison have changed your life for the better. Now, ask yourself, "What has Ted Kennedy or Al Gore ever done for me?"
Do-ers make the world go 'round. Unfortunately, they are well on their way to being an addition to the list of endangered species.
All Creatures Great And Slick: Harvey has opined on those photos of on oil-covered wildlife, which make us feel sad and sorry for all of God's creatures: "Any animal that is too slow or too stupid to dodge an oil slick that's traveling at 0.1 mph deserves to die. Those are the kinds of critters you want out of the gene pool, anyway. Do not trifle with the Hand of Darwin."
Business Advice: Forget the 80/20 Rule, It's the 20/20/60 Rule that's important.
Everybody who's been in business for more than, say, 10 minutes or so has had the 80/20 rule drummed into their head. 80 percent of the sales come from 20 percent of the customers. 80% of the problems come from 20% of the employees. 80 percent of your shipments utilize 20 percent of your inventory. And so on. Some of the 80/20 rules are factual; others are baloney. It depends on the particular kind of business you're in. One rule that seems to hold true for every kind of business is the 20/20/60 rule. It's an important rule and it's not very well known.
Twenty percent of your prospects ... (more >>>)
Where Junior Soprano Took His Goomah: The local New York teachers union has an office in Florida. "A recent article in the New York Post figured that rent alone for the Boca Raton branch costs UFT members $183,603 per year."
Teachers ... it's all about 'the children', right?
Question Of The Day is from Frank J.: "So when was the last time the NAACP found something more racially offensive than their own organization's name?"
I would also ask, If they claim to be the only 'colored people', does that make the rest of us 'colorless'? Sounds like an insult to me. Transparently racist, in fact.
Friday June 18, 2010
Connected Luxury: Every 2011 Hyundai Equus luxury sedan will come with an iPad instead of an owner's manual. The iPad would also serve as a digital liaison between the owner and his or her dealership, helping to schedule maintenance through its Service Valet program, remind of routine maintenance, schedule vehicle (and loaner) pick-up and delivery, etc.
Hyundai will provide owners with a 16-gig, wifi-enabled (non-3G) iPad with a custom case. As befits a premium automobile, the latter will be a landscape-style high-end leather case that is custom-made for Hyundai, with an embossed logo, suede-like interior and a built-in kickstand.
The owner's manual program will include all of the usual text and images but will also take advantage of the iPad's display capabilities by showing videos to explain the vehicle's functions. The Equus-specific programs will arrive pre-installed alongside all other normal iPad software.
Celebrations: First, to all dads - and grandfathers - Happy Father's Day. I've posted my thoughts about fathers here. I miss my dad; he would have turned 91 this year.
My dad's father would have been 134.
Second, to my wife - thanks for 44 years of wedded bliss. I'd toast you with the usual Manhattan but I'm off hard booze while convalescing.
Finally, to new graduates - congratulations. The world is your oyster. Go suck it ... with a squeeze of lemon and sauce if you must.
Book Review: 'Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition' by Daniel Okrent
This is a well-researched, interesting and entertaining book on the Great War on Alcohol. Okrent describes in detail the factors leading up to the crafting and passage of the 18th Amendment and offers a fascinating glimpse into this unfortunate segment of American history.
I learned many things from this book, including ... (more >>>)
Not Available At Any 'Mattress World' Location: An animatronic bed of 1883 featured life-size winking bronze statues of women.
The four nude figures at the corners represent women of France, Spain, Italy and Greece. With clever mechanisms, the statues were able to wink and wave fans and fly whisks. The bed was fitted with a music box that played a thirty-minute interlude from Gounod's Faust, activated by a button.
Old Stuff Defined: James Lileks has observed that visiting an antique store "is like going to the museum except you can touch things and everything is a gift shop."
Joan Rivers, Prankster: "One of the most consistently subversive things about Rivers is her level of commitment to a spur-of-the-moment prank. I have seen her pull off dozens of them over the years.
Once, coming out of Pat Wexler's office, where she goes for her Botox and filler, she crawled on her hands and knees into a waiting room full of socialites and models and, screwing up her face to resemble a stroke victim, moaned out of one side of her mouth, 'Look what she did to me!'"
Quote of the Day is from Calvin Coolidge: "If the federal government should go out of existence, the common run of the people would not detect the difference in the affairs of their daily life for a considerable length of time."
Wednesday June 16, 2010
Better? Or Just Buzzwords? For those of us who remember the days when miserably-built little Fiats were imported into the U.S. and everyone thought the name stood for 'Fix It Again, Tony', this headline from the Detroit News was disturbing: 'Chrysler builds cars the Fiat way'.
According to the article, the Fiat Way involves "lean manufacturing", "a complete buy-in from management at all levels", "World Class Manufacturing" and other well-worn clichés. Whether all this will actually produce better Jeeps and other vehicles still remains to be seen.
Things May Not Be As Good As They Seem: AutoData has reported that light vehicle sales were up 17.2% over the first five months of 2010 - compared to the same period in 2009.
But ... sales to individuals were only up 13%, while fleet sales were up 32%.
George Pipas, the top sales analyst at Ford Motor Co., said he is seeing evidence that consumers are deferring decisions on major purchases, in large part because home values and income growth haven't rebounded. "These are two things that really have to happen before you will see auto sales move up more significantly."
Who Knew? The late Gary Coleman was a model train enthusiast and had quite a collection. He had a large N scale layout and also reportedly collected HO scale stuff as well as Lionel. Gary worked for a couple of train shops in Southern California and Colorado. His Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad themed layout was featured in a 1990 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman.
According to TMZ, the former child actor originally ... (more >>>)
Business Advice: You Can't Save The Company On Weekends. In the early days of our manufacturing company, my business partner and I used to save our little firm every weekend.
We'd forget to get a job done during the week, so we'd come in on Saturday and Sunday to complete it. We might have to re-do a job that we had messed up, or to quote some job that we didn't have time to deal with during the week. If we didn't do these things, we were sure our customers would get angry and desert us, and the company would die.
It was a never-ending race against the clock.
Of course, we'd have to save the company the next weekend, too, because we'd be so exhausted from working hard the week before we'd make more mistakes the following week and have to rectify them the following weekend. We felt that there was never enough time to do get everything done. We were always under the clock pressure.
I don't remember ... (more >>>)
Local Jobs Report: Pretty much none. Clark County WA added 600 temporary jobs in May, barely nudging its jobless rate down to 13% from the prior month's 13.1%.
Most of the temporary jobs, about 500, came as a result of the federal government hiring workers for the 2010 Census, said Scott Bailey, Southwest Washington regional economist. Clark County’s private sector ... (more >>>)
The Joy Of Peanut Butter: I am recovering from a nasty illness - still not fully identified - that left me weak and miserable. For a couple of days, my intake was limited to water and clear broth. I knew that I was starting to get better when I had a hankerin' for solid food.
My first encounter was a half-sandwich of Jif creamy peanut butter on fresh white bread. We usually eat Adams but we only had the chunky version. And, while Jif is rumored to be loaded with chemicals, my television has been telling me for years that "choosy mothers choose Jif." And dammit, the stuff tasted good.
I was so hungry that it seemed like the best peanut butter sandwich I had ever eaten.
It was as if God himself had mixed the PB in a heavenly Hobart mixer using the finest Virginia peanuts hand-selected by trusty, white-linen-gloved farmhands, softly singing 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' while the Mills Brothers hummed in the background. Just like a 1930s movie.
The nuts were then roasted over a Mesquite fire, briefly blanched in Perrier by Ursulines (the French order of nuns), ground in a stainless steel MPE 777 stacked-roll precision Gran-U-Lizer, packaged by young, peaches-and-cream complected Cotswolds virgins and served on bread personally kneaded by the late Frederick 'Grandpa' Stroehmann in the Lord's own bakery.
At least, that's how it tasted to me. (permalink)
The Scam Called Obamacare: "Internal White House documents reveal that 51% of employers may have to relinquish their current health care coverage by 2013 due to Obamacare. That number soars to 66% for small-business employers."
During the health care debate, Liar-in-Chief Barack Obama repeatedly said people who like their current coverage would be able to keep it. But an early draft of an administration regulation estimated that "many employers will be forced to make changes to their health plans under the new law."
The Congressional Budget Office projects that one of every three ... (more >>>)
Send In The A-Team: Frank J., putting in his two cents, has written, "So who should go in Helen Thomas' empty seat in the front row of the White House Press Corps? My vote, as always, is for Mr. T. I think he'll get along well with Gibbs since Mr. T pities the fool, but at the same time he won't put up with any jibber-jabber."
Casket Or Casing? Jimmy Dean, country music legend and sausage king, has died at age 81. He is best remembered for his 1961 hit record, 'Big Bad John'.
Dean's second career as a pork sausage magnate accounted for most of his wealth. He came by his knowledge of pork honestly; as a boy, he slaughtered hogs for his mother, who turned them into sausage. He founded the sausage company in 1968 with his brother. The company did well, in part because of Dean's own extemporized, humor-themed commercials. He sold the company to Consolidated Foods in 1984.
In 1971, Dean played a Howard Hughes-inspired, Las Vegas-dwelling billionaire (Willard Whyte) in the James Bond flick, 'Diamonds Are Forever'. In the mid-1970s, Jimmy owned a custom white pickup truck fabricated from a Lincoln Town Car. In 2007, Dean visited Vancouver, WA to pick up his new motor yacht from Christensen Yachts. The sleek, 140-foot, three-deck vessel was christened 'Big Bad John'.
While Dean was no cheapskate, he was sensible about money. Having watched other stars fritter away their fortunes, Jimmy said he learned to be careful with his money. "I've seen so many people in this business that made a fortune. They get old and broke and can't make any money. ... I tell you something ... no one's going to play a benefit for Jimmy Dean."
By all accounts, Jimmy Dean was a true self-made man with many friends. RIP. (permalink)
Have A Nice Day? No, I Have Other Plans. An Australian psychology expert who has been studying emotions has found that "being grumpy makes us think more clearly. In contrast to those annoying happy types, miserable people are better at decision-making and less gullible, his experiments showed."
Quote of the Day is from Elie Wiesel: "Just as despair can come to one only from other human beings, hope, too, can be given to one only by other human beings."
Monday June 14, 2010
Bulbous Lexus: The SC 430 retractable hardtop sporty car is being discontinued by Lexus. "After nearly 10 years in production, the 430's sales have fallen from about 14k in its first several years on sale to 720 units last year and about 2k units the year before that."
As an empty-nester who likes V8-powered machines, I would have been a target prospect. But, when I decided to buy a Lexus, I passed on the SC430. It was too fat-looking and, in all my years of car-spotting, never saw one driven by a guy.
Verdict: overweight chick car for overweight chicks.
Former Titanic Captain Joins Crew Of Andrea Doria: Rick Wagoner, who got the boot from the Obama Administration as General Motors CEO, has joined the board of directors of The Washington Post Co.
"The company also owns Newsweek, which is up for sale, as well as Kaplan education company, which accounts for more than half of its revenues."
The Accidental Entrepreneur: Robert Reich has written that "2009 might instead be remembered as the year business startups reached their highest level in 14 years - even exceeding the number of startups during the peak 1999-2000 technology boom."
One surprise is the age of these new entrepreneurs. Most of the growth in startups was propelled by 35- to 44-year-olds, followed by people 55 to 64. "Forget Internet whiz kids in their 20s. It's the gray-heads who are taking the reins of the new startup economy. At first glance, all this seems a bit odd. Usually new businesses take off in good times when consumers are flush and banks are eager to lend. So why all this entrepreneurship last year?
In a word, unemployment. Booted off company payrolls, millions of Americans had no choice but to try selling themselves. Another term for 'entrepreneur' is 'self-employed'."
"Yes, a growing number of Americans went out on their own before the recession, but clearly their numbers have vastly increased. While some are happy about their new status, most are worse off than they were before. It's one thing to be a contingent worker in good times and when you're young; quite another in bad times when you're middle-aged."
The hot word in the corporate world today is ... (more >>>)
Biz Tips: I have posted a number of articles designed to help those Accidental Entrepreneurs. You'll find them listed here.
Blood Money: President Barack Obama announced that the U.S. would send $400 million of aid to the Palestinian territories following 10 days of international focus on Gaza. The announcement came as Obama met the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, in Washington to discuss the progress of proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as "the dire situation in Gaza."
Once again, Barry O. stabs Israel in the back and wastes more taxpayer money on top of the $800 million we just sent to Gaza as aid.
How about giving money to out-of-work Americans? Or making the Social Security Trust Fund solvent again? Or providing ... (more >>>)
Saturday Movies: When I was a kid, my friends and I would head on down to the Mayfair or Merben theater in NE Philadelphia every Saturday to watch cowboy movies. Last Saturday, I watched an old cowboy flick from 1946 on Turner Classic Movies. It made me feel like a kid again.
The movie was ... (more >>>)
Not Your Usual Political Endorsement: BigFurHat has written, "I haven't looked into him, but he's running against Nancy Pelosi. I would donate to a road apple that was running against Pelosi. If I lived in the Pelosi district I would vote for him even if he was caught vivisecting girl scouts in the ladies room at the mall."
Commenter Combat Matt added, "I would vote for van der Sloot if he ran against Pelosi - even if I had to vote Absentee from the Holloway family reunion."
Bad Pun of the Day: In democracy, your vote counts. In feudalism, your count votes.
Friday June 11, 2010
"I Am Serious ... And Don't Call Me Shirley." General Motors is unhappy with Chevy. In a memo distributed to workers at headquarters earlier this week, the company ordered them "to cease referring to the Chevrolet brand by its long-standing nickname, Chevy. Going forward, only Chevrolet is to be used." The reasoning? Branding consistency. Huh?
"We'd ask that whether you're talking to a dealer, reviewing dealer advertising, or speaking with friends and family, that you communicate our brand as Chevrolet moving forward," said the memo, which was signed by Alan Batey, vice president for Chevrolet sales and service, and Jim Campbell, the GM division's vice president for marketing.
When customers give a product a good nickname, it's proof positive that the offering is a success. In the auto world there's Caddy. Merc. Roller. V-dub. And so on. On the other hand, if your product is despised, it will receive nicknames like Agony Airlines (Allegheny) or Burger Shit (Burger Chef).
If you're lucky enough that fans and loyalists give your product a nice nickname, you should get down on your knees and thank God for your good fortune. Your competition would kill for such recognition.
The fact that General Motors would seek to change the Nature of Things just goes to show that GM still deserves the nickname 'General Morons'.
Remember The Fifties? If you need a refresher course, I've just posted a three-page, 5,000 word article on the 1950s.
I've sprinkled a lot of old photos throughout the article in case your visual memory needs a jog.
By my definition, the Fifties covers more than a mere decade. It is silly to try to shoehorn an era into exactly ten years. Epochs do not lend themselves to such exact slicing and segmenting. It is my opinion that the Age of the Fifties spanned a period of sixteen years, from October 14, 1947 to November 22, 1963.
On October 14, 1947, Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in an experimental rocket plane.
From that point forward, Americans yearned to go faster. In post-War America, people ... (more >>>)
Export Market: Light rail exports crime to new neighborhoods.
The Clackamas County (OR) sheriff has said he's concerned the new MAX line is dropping off "more than passengers at Clackamas Town Center; it's dropping off crime too. In the five months since the MAX Green line first arrived, Sheriff Craig Roberts says crime in the surrounding area is up 32% this year and calls for service are up 56% compared to 2009."
I remember when Gresham was a nice, sleepy little town east of Portland. Then TriMet came along and killed the neighborhood.
Before the light-rail line opened ... (more >>>)
The End: Last year, I wrote about a new retail establishment that was the poster child for How Not To Start A Business.
Yesterday, I found the space vacant with a 'For Rent' sign on the front door. (permalink)
Poor Baby: Third World countries produce abominations like the Smoking Baby. "Ardi Rizal isn't even out of diapers, but he already smokes around 40 cigarettes every day. The 2-year-old Sumatran boy was given his first cigarette at 18 months by his 30-year-old father, Mohammed. Now, he throws tantrums if he's denied his two-pack-a-day habit, according to his family."
The overweight tot uses a toy truck to get around instead of being active with other children.
This kind of behavior exists not because of poverty. It's because parents don't give a rip. To them, life is cheap. Help make a better life for their kids? Or others? Or their village? Forget it. Change requires effort.
This same theme ... (more >>>)
Smoke 'Em If Ya Got 'Em: James Lileks has posted a 1930 ad for Old Gold cigarettes. Pitch: "They protect the throat." Slogan: "Not a cough in a carload."
When I was growing up, Old Golds were what all the geezers smoked. If they ran out of Chesterfields. Mary Tyler Moore was once a dancing Old Gold cigarette pack on 1950s television. Nice legs.
Thought For Today: If you can smile when things go wrong, you have someone in mind to blame.
Wednesday June 9, 2010
Oh, The Weather Outside Is ... ummm ... not summery. We've had almost 25 days of straight rain around here. We had almost 7 inches of rain in May; more than double the normal amount. Therefore, there have been no Plymouth rides recently and I am grumpy.
James Lileks has written about the weather in his area: "At the moment I'm in the gazebo; the sun is coming in and out, and a bruise-hued mass of clouds is approaching from the southwest. In the olden times a fellow would have to study the clouds, judge whether they bore rain, and act accordingly; now I can just call up a weather app and see what's going on. Hold on, let me do exactly that ...
Well, according to my weather app, there's a bruise-hued mass of clouds approaching from the southwest, and they might contain rain. Technology! It makes every aspect of life so much easier."
My weather dashboard widget has been telling me for the past month that - while it's raining at the moment - the sun will appear two days hence. Liar.
But at least I don't have to watch obnoxious weatherman Dave Salesky, who is even less accurate. I'm well into my second Salesky-free year.
Someone Else's Turn In The Barrel: After the mainstream media spent the first months of this year demonizing Toyota for its sticky accelerator pedals, the swarm has moved on to other pastures.
Meanwhile, General Motors has just recalled more than 1.3 million U.S. vehicles over fears that an electrical fault could cause a car fire. The problem is linked to the vehicles' heated windshield-washer fluid module and affects at least 18 models ranging from Buick Lucernes to Hummers.
Chrysler is recalling almost 600,000 minivans and Jeep Wranglers in the U.S. and another 100,000 elsewhere because of brake or wiring problems that could create safety problems.
Chrysler has also recalled a bunch of Dodge Calipers for a sticking accelerator pedal - made by CTS and similar to those that triggered the big Toyota recall earlier. The Detroit Free Press reported that the issue was caused by a too-large bearing housing.
"And We're Here To Help": U.S. Small Business Administration has run out of money for programs that made its loans less risky for lenders and more affordable for small business borrowers. The economic stimulus bill temporarily increased the government guarantee to 90% on the SBA's flagship 7(a) loans and reduced or eliminated fees on 7(a) and 504 (bigger, long-term) loans, which primarily are used for real estate. These were supposed to "help small businesses in these tough times."
Just because you see the words "help small businesses" in a story, it doesn't mean that anyone worthwhile is actually being helped. It is a political feel-good phrase, designed to invoke universal citizen/voter support, much like "we must think of the children" or "aid the unfortunate."
Sadly, the reality ... (more >>>)
It Could Be Worse: The BP oil spill is a disaster but Professor Roy Spencer notes that the general commentary regarding the British Petroleum spill as "the worst environmental disaster in history" is wildly overblown.
The 1979 Gulf of Mexico spill dumped five times as much oil and the deliberate spill during Gulf War I by Saddam Hussein and his henchmen was 20 times worse.
Book Review: 'Anything Goes: A Biography of the Roaring Twenties' by Lucy Moore
Recent decades have seen the rise of local food and wine festivals, designed to promote nearby eateries and purveyors of drink. The idea of offering a vignette - a sampler of a bistro's culinary offerings - as an inducement to get prospects into the establishment for a full-priced meal seems to work.
In the writing biz ... (more >>>)
Ill Intentions: During a doctor visit last week, I learned that his medical practice is finding Medicare patients such an unprofitable segment that it is no longer accepting new ones, even if they are relatives or spouses of existing patients.
The practice is also trying to get out of Washington state's indigent program, which is locally administered by CUP - Columbia United Providers (described as a "community-based health plan"), funded by Washington taxpayers.
One CUP patient claimed ... (more >>>)
Rinse And Spit: According to the book, 'Anything Goes: A Biography of the Roaring Twenties', "In the early 1920s, Listerine - variously used in the nineteenth century as a surgical antiseptic, a cure for venereal disease and a floor-cleaner - was transformed by advertising into a magical product which would free its user from the dreadful, life-ruining scourge of halitosis, a faux-medical condition invented by the marketing men.
Their advertisements showed a downcast girl holding her friends bridal bouquet above the caption, 'Often a bridesmaid, but never a bride.' The cause of her loneliness was 'chronic halitosis' which, happily, Listerine (rebranded as a mouthwash) promised to cure. Listerine's profits soared from $115,000 to $8 million in just seven years."
My Web Spam-Ad Résumé: I majored in Pop-up Ads at the University of Phoenix and now work for Netflix. (permalink)
Quote Of The Day is from Bill Vaughan: "Money won't buy happiness but it will pay the salaries of a large research staff to study the problem."
Monday June 7, 2010
Steve Jobs Of The 1920s: The Maxwell Motors stock which Walter P. Chrysler had bought for $16/share when he took over the company in 1921 - it became Chrysler Corporation four years later - was worth $563 per share in 1928.
Un-Ergonomic: Dan Neil has written that the beautiful and swoopy new Aston Martin Rapide $200,000 four-door sedan is not designed for human beings.
"It proves that if you care absolutely nothing about outward visibility - the Rapide has the sightlines of a Normandy pillbox - and that you don't care that the front roof pillars (the A pillars) are thicker than a Clydesdale's fetlock; and that in order to get in the car rear passengers will be obliged to remove their heads and feet; and that once there they will have their noses grinding against the entertainment system's headrest-mounted screens; and that the car's sun visors are three fingers wide and virtually useless; and that the rear quarters have blind spots the size of libertarianism; and that the "trunk" offers the capacity of a refrigerator's vegetable crisper … if you don't care about any of that, then you too can design a beautiful four-door super sports car. It's easy."
"And the new Aston is beautiful. Chest-squeezing, arrythmia-inducing, stunningly gorgeous. I had occasion to park our willow-green-metallic test car next to a Porsche Panamera Turbo - one of the Aston's direct rivals - and the Porsche looked like Harold Bloom in a thong. Compared with the Aston, the Bentley Flying Spur looks like it should be pulling a disc cultivator. But in terms of industrial design, the Rapide's beauty is illicit because it fails to account for the inconvenient bits of protoplasm that will occupy it."
Neil described the Aston's rear door opening as "a birth canal." "Laughably difficult to get into and out of, the Rapide is that rare case in car design when aesthetics triumphed over practicality. A stirring victory, provided you're not the one riding in the back."
Movin' On Down: James T. Patterson's New York Times article on the state of Black America is not encouraging.
Excerpt: "Moynihan's pessimistic prophecies have come true. In 1965, a quarter of nonwhite births in the United States were out of wedlock, eight times the proportion among whites. Today the proportion of nonmarital births among non-Hispanic blacks exceeds 72%, compared with a proportion among non-Hispanic whites of around 28%.
Only 38 percent of black children now live with married parents, compared with three-quarters of non-Hispanic white children. Many boys in fatherless families drop out of school, fail to find living-wage work and turn to idleness or crime. Many girls become poverty-stricken single mothers themselves.
There are no magic bullets for the rise of out-of-wedlock births, a trend rooted in the decline in marriage rates and one that has affected other western nations as well. But as Moynihan recommended, we can expand employment programs to help young black people find work. LBJ's "Great Society" programs were largely responsible for the dissolution of black family values. Many would argue that this was by design to create a permanent underclass perpetually in debt to the dems, a forever faithful voting bloc."
That 'permanent underclass' has indeed been created, introducing several generations - millions of children - into hopeless lives supported by tax money.
Thug culture has become its religion and race-baiters like Al Sharpton have become its pope.
Health Care Lunacy: I've aggregated the many postings on health care issues and the abomination known as Obamacare here.
America's Crazy Old Aunt: Last week, Helen Thomas made the news again. The ancient press hag, lately of Hearst Newspapers, revealed her insane-geezer side when she declared that Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine" and go "home" to Germany and Poland. Since the Jews no longer have actual homes in those countries, Helen suggested that they book rooms at the newly renovated Courtyard by Auschwitz.
She later admitted that The Chosen People aren't all bad. "Jooos do have the best delis," she exclaimed brightly, accidentally dropping her drool cup.
Miz Thomas has been covering the White House since the War of 1812 and once manned a bucket brigade when the British set D.C. ablaze in 1814. At an early press conference, she famously asked President Andrew Jackson, "Is that a dueling pistol in your trousers or are you just happy to see me?"
Helen began the tradition of ending all presidential press conferences with a signature "Thank you, Mr. President" when she congratulated Millard Fillmore for signing the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, quipping that it was "just peachy" that he was "sending those darkies back where they belong."
I was surprised that Thomas dislikes Jews; I always though she was one - she looks like a 90 year-old cross-dressing Jewish man with a bad polyester wig.
Apparently, her disdain of Hebrews stems from 1939 when she traveled to Hollywood, hoping that her diminutive stature might make her "another Judy Garland." Alas, the only role she managed to snag was one of the winged monkeys in 'The Wizard of Oz'. She blamed the Jewish-controlled movie studios for her lack of success. Although, later in life, she did land a small part in the 1990 flick, 'Total Recall'.
It just goes to show ya that many aging liberals are like giant M&M Bigots: Underneath the colorful candy shell there's a molten, hate-filled center.
Update: Helen Thomas died in July 2013 at age 93. (permalink)
Update: Hearst Newspapers has announced that Helen Thomas "is retiring, effective immediately," exactly the same phrase once used by one of my former corporate employers to describe bible-quotin' Holy Jerry's departure after they found out that he routinely talked-dirty-to and tried-to-fondle all the young secretaries.
First, Kill All The Lawyers ... then all the bicyclists: "Six cyclists who crashed while crossing the South Lake Union Streetcar tracks are suing the city of Seattle, claiming officials ignored hazards to pedal-power commuters." All six were hurt when their tires got stuck in the flange gap between the rail and street.
What a bunch of whiny, clueless wimps.
Sixty years ago, I routinely rode my bike over trolley tracks. Even though I was only a kid, I used common sense and crossed the tracks at the widest angle possible. Or got off and walked the bike across.
These six should be found guilty of Zero Common Sense. And ordered to undergo court-ordered prefrontal lobotomies. Then take away their bikes.
The world doesn't need any more two-wheeled morons.
Bad Pun of the Day: I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian.
Friday June 4, 2010
It's Official: The Mercury automobile is dead. Mercury will be discontinued in the fourth quarter. After too many years of brand neglect, marketing indifference, badge engineering and falling sales, Ford is putting The Big Cat to sleep.
Monthly Car Sales: In May, most automakers posted double-digit jumps in U.S. sales. Autodata Corp, estimated light vehicle sales at 11.6 million SAAR in May - up 18% from May 2009 (when sales were very low), and increasing 3.9% from last month's sales rate. May marked the seventh straight month of year-over-year sales increases for the auto industry.
Ford Motor Co. delivered 192,253 new vehicles in May a 22% increase versus a year ago. Ford brand sales were up 28%; Lincoln and soon-to-be-discontinued Mercury were down 10 and 11% respectively. FoMoCo's press release noted: "Fleet sales were up 32 percent, primarily reflecting higher sales of Ford's hard-working trucks to commercial customers." Ford Taurus sales were almost double those of a year ago to 6,466 units. 10,225 Mustangs were sold - a 16% increase. Sales of the Lincoln MKZ were down 32% to 2,040 units and only 709 of the ungainly Lincoln MKT crossover were sold. Here's a possible tagline: 'Lincoln: It's The New Mercury'.
Chrysler LLC sales were up 33%, with Dodge brand sales soaring a whopping 72%. No word from the manufacturer on fleet percentages, although the Detroit News reported, "Led by Chrysler, Detroit's automakers reported double-digit gains in May, padded by large sales to fleet customers." Edmunds.com estimated Chrysler fleet sales at 40%.
General Motors' sales were up 17% over May 2009; 'core sales' (non-dead brands) were up 32%. Cadillac increased 54%, Buick was up 37% and Chevy rose 31%. Fleet sales of GM's four core brands increased 44% to account for about 38% of GM's total volume.
Toyota sales were up a modest 7%; Avalon sales dropped 6% to 3,029 units; I guess those cool, entertaining retro commercials didn't work. Overall Lexus sales were up 31% after unprecedented May deals including a six-month waiver on payments on some models. Lexus LS sales were up 14% to 944 units.
Hyundai sales increased 33%; Subaru sales were up 35%. American Honda sales rose 19% and Nissan was up 24%. BMW sales were down 3% but Mercedes was up 27%.
Only 962 Jaguars were sold in May. Saab completed deals on 174 woefully-overpriced cars. Each sale was such a big deal for the firm that a Mel Tormé impersonator was hired to sing 'I'll take Trollhättan' at each closing.
And They Want More Subsidies For What Now? In 2008, Amtrak carried almost exactly the same number of passenger miles as the private railroads carried in 1970, the year before Amtrak took over passenger trains.
After 38 years of government ownership ... (more >>>)
The Truth About Appliances: Last month, we had the transmission, bearings and seals replaced on our seven year-old Maytag washer. Our last one lasted almost 20 years. The technician told us that "they don't make them like they used to" and that many washers now fail in 5-7 years.
Our first Maytag - from 1984 or thereabouts - was actually made by Maytag. This 2003 one was made by Amana which used to make good refrigerators but its washers were considered mediocre.
Maytag had acquired Amana in 2001; the rebranded Maytag models, later termed 'Amanatags' by dissatisfied owners, received poor customer reviews after reports surfaced of major mechanical and/or durability problems. (This stuff didn't come to light until after we bought ours.)
The 2010 Maytags are now made ... (more >>>)
Money For Nothing, 'cept Booze And Phones: In the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof has written, "There's an ugly secret of global poverty, one rarely acknowledged by aid groups or U.N. reports. It's a blunt truth that is politically incorrect, heartbreaking, frustrating and ubiquitous:
It's that if the poorest families spent as much money educating their children as they do on wine, cigarettes and prostitutes, their children's prospects would be transformed. Much suffering is caused not only by low incomes, but also by shortsighted private spending decisions by heads of households."
He provided a distressing example ... (more >>>)
Remember This: Those of us of a certain age remember the exhortation to "clean your plate ... people are starving in India." Or China. Or somewhere. I once got yelled at by my parents for asking the innocently logical (to me) question, "So how's that gonna help?"
"Don't get smart," was the reply - another non-sequitur.
Anyway, Tom McMahon has pointed out that the same starving people are now cleaning our clocks economically.
And Tom doesn't even mention all the footwear made by former Pagan Babies.
Shoulda left the #@%*# food on our plates and to hell with the starving people.
New And Improved: Recently I have contributed quite a bit of new and revised material to 'The View Through The Windshield', particularly the Archives.
I have added pictures, more text and links to older postings and updated some of the subject information.
You'll find links to much of it on my expanded Greatest Hits page. There are now over 230 separate articles posted - everything from car drawings (25 at present - more on the way), to driving impressions (14 so far), to people profiles (53 and growing).
Ugly But Authentic: While working on the site, I restored the first posting page (May 2004) to its original hideous and narrow look - designed for small computer screens - and with few images so as not to confuse The Dial Up.
For better or worse, it is now historically accurate in appearance.
Quote Of The Day is from Morgan at the House of Eratosthenes: "There are a lot of people walking around who put lots of energy into telling others that something can't be done."
Wednesday June 2, 2010
How It Began: My earliest memory is of me staring at the chrome hubcap on the sidemount of a Packard (with the characteristic red hexagon in the center) while being held by my mother. I was two years-old.
She was keeping me entertained by showing me my reflection in the chrome while at a graveside service for one of her uncles. The Packard was probably a limousine or hearse.
Perhaps this explains my lifelong fascination with cars.
Car Related: My cousin's daughter is the driver in this new 2011 Ford Fiesta commercial. Congratulations, Nellie!
Carhop Comeback: It has been more than a generation since the carhop heyday and even 'Happy Days' and 'American Graffiti' have become distant memories. "Anyone under the age of 35 probably never even had the chance to drive up and get served, however that is now changing, as an American classic rolls back into business with malts, burgers and fries in the age of iPhones, HDTV and the internet."
How practical is it for carhops to make a comeback? According to Doug Cavanaugh, CEO and founder of Ruby's - a chain of restaurants, his first car hop location for his franchise has been packed and has "gotten more attention than all of his other restaurants combined."
The drive-in chain I remember from early childhood is Hot Shoppes. My parents used to stop at the one on Hunting Park Avenue, west of Broad Street in North Philadelphia. The burgers were very thick and juicy (a real treat for me) and the car hops wore snappy uniforms.
Do I remember the Patty Melt? Sure. I took her to her junior prom at Little Flower High School.
In the 1960s, the fast-food 15¢ burger killed off the old-time drive-ins.
Business Advice: Make A Profit On Everything You Do. There's a management theory that says it doesn't matter if Safeway, Kroger (or any business) makes a profit on every tomato it sells, as long as the grocery chain makes an overall profit.
This theory has been used for everything from filling airline seats or motel rooms at ridiculously cheap prices to creating 'loss-leaders' (items sold at prices below cost) at retail stores.
There are six problems with selling anything below cost ... (more >>>)
Obama Fiddles; Gulf Burns ... and oozes: Photo documentation of Barack Obama's response to the oil explosion and Deepwater Horizon spill.
Good Question: Captain Capitalism has written, "I'll send somebody a shinny new nickel if they can explain to me that when BP screws up we make sure they pay every dime in damages, but if a bank screws up we bail them out with taxpayer money."
Hell Is For Hippocrites: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has said she believes she must pursue public policies "in keeping with the values" of Jesus Christ, "The Word made Flesh."
Pelosi, who alleges to be Catholic and "who favors legalized abortion, voted against the ban on partial-birth abortion that was enacted into law in 2003."
Israel Versus The 'Peace Boats': Dan Riehl has written, "I wish Israel would become more sensitive to America's domestic politics. They could have gone a long way to improve relations, particularly with Obama, with the flotilla confrontation. They should have driven the flotilla into the Gulf of Mexico, then sunk the terrorist enabling bastard's ships over the BP oil well. I mean, come on, that's killing two birds with one freaking stone! And I thought they were smart!"
Charles Krauthammer has offered perspective on the situation. "The fundamental deception here is the use of the word "humanitarian." . . . Humanitarians don't wield iron clubs, and [they] would have killed the Israelis had the Israelis not drawn their pistols in self-defense.
But there's a larger issue here. What exactly is the humanitarian crisis that the flotilla was actually addressing? There is none. There's no one starving in Gaza. The Gazans have been supplied with food and social services, education, by the U.N., by UNWRA, for 60 years - in part with American tax money."
And "if you look at a map of Gaza, you'll see that Israelis only control three sides of this rectangle. There's a fourth side on the Egyptian side. So it is an Egyptian-Israeli blockade. The Egyptians have the same problem with Gaza."
Incidentally, former Weather Underground leaders William Ayers (close pal of Barack Obama) and Bernardine Dohrn, as well as Code Pink founder Jodie Evans, helped organize the Free Gaza Movement, which launched the six-ship flotilla from Turkey to Israel that ended in the violent clash with Israeli Defense Forces.
And what about the "poor, oppressed Gazans"? From these pictures, it looks like the old Pennsauken Mart in New Jersey. But with more pita and fewer Puerto Ricans. No soft pretzels, though.
Everyone looks pretty happy. "You wan buy dees? No? How bout deez? Some of diis maybe? We like American dollar; keep sending to us, suckers."
Flunked Math: Rita Wilson, the unionized teacher who got in the verbal dustup with New Jersey governor Chris Christie last week because she felt she was "underpaid", makes over $100,000 for part-time work.
Frank J. has described Christie thusly, "It's Like Reagan Ate Limbaugh."
Old Wound: In 2007, hunters caught a 50-ton bowhead whale off the coast of Alaska. Lodged in its neck they found a fragment of a bomb lance that had been manufactured in New Bedford, MA in 1890.
"This means the whale was 115 to 130 years old. It might have been born in the same year that Rutherford B. Hayes was sworn in as president."
Quote Of The Day is from Victor David Hanson: "I'd take an old paleo-liberal like Eric Sevareid, John Chancellor, or David Brinkley any day over the most conservative (anchor) on NBC or CNN. The old guys had style, even class; today's crowd spends more on teeth-whiteners than on books."