Wednesday August 24, 2011
Cars In My Life - The Early Years: The earliest memory that I can recall is staring at the chrome hubcap on the sidemount of a Packard 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 at Holy Cross Cemetery in Yeadon, PA.
I've liked the look of chrome ever since. Maybe that's how my obsession with cars began.
I started drawing cars when I was four. (Some of my car drawings can be found here.) I drove a car for the first time when I was thirteen, when my mom let me take the wheel of my dad's '56 Ford. I've owned cool cars. And awful ones. And ordinary, everyday ones, too.
When I was a little kid, my uncle used to take me for rides in his 1941 Chrysler Saratoga coupe ... (more >>>)
Auction Postscript: In a Hemmings posting yesterday, it was noted that a Murphy-bodied 1931 Duesenberg Model J coupe was "sold at Gooding's Monterey sale this past Sunday for $9.4 million, or $10.34 million with premiums."
The article noted that "the sale of the Whittell Duesenberg coupe smashed the record for the price paid for a Duesenberg at public auction, previously held by the Mormon Meteor Duesenberg, which sold for $4.455 million at Gooding's Pebble Beach auction in 2004. That price also appears to be the new record for an American car sold at public auction."
That's not what surprised me. In the same post it was reported that "a 1958 Zundapp Janus sold for $22,000." I didn't know any Zundapps were left. Wow - who would have saved them?
Obama Taught Them Well: General Motors and its lawyers say the company isn't responsible for design flaws or defects caused by "Old GM," which refers to the pre-bankruptcy company General Motors Corp. (now known as Motors Liquidation Co.).
The company has asked that a lawsuit brought by a Pennsylvania woman over faulty tie rods on the 2007-2008 Chevrolet Impala be dismissed on grounds that "New GM" is not responsible for the old company's gaffes.
The General's lawyers say the company is responsible for claims against warranties set up under the old company but never agreed to take responsibility for defects.
Sounds like they're taking a cue from Barry O. and have decided to blame their predecessor for all their problems.
Remember when Obama said this? "Let me say this as plainly as I can. If you buy a car from Chrysler or General Motors, you will be able to get your car serviced and repaired just like always. Your warranty will be safe. In fact, it will be safer than it has ever been. Because starting today, the United States will stand behind your warranty."
Liar. Congressman Joe Wilson was right.
This incident shows how clueless the 'new' GM is. Does management really thing that such a move is a good way to win new customers from the likes of Honda and Toyota? The cost of the bad publicity as a result of this will soon far outweigh the cost of quietly settling with claimants. Almost 100 years ago, Philadelphia pharmacist Albert Entwistle realized this.
Perhaps the Old GM will come to symbolize the Obama Presidency: Bankrupt, uncaring and out-of-warranty.
$3,000,000 Per Minute: The latest posting by the Treasury Department shows the national debt has now increased $4 trillion on President Obama's watch.
"The debt was $10.626 trillion on the day Mr. Obama took office. The latest calculation from Treasury shows the debt has now hit $14.639 trillion.
It's the most rapid increase in the debt under any U.S. president. The national debt increased $4.9 trillion during the eight-year presidency of George W. Bush. The debt now is rising at a pace to surpass that amount during Mr. Obama's four-year term."
Headline Of The Week is from The People's Cube: 'Republicans block Obama's $420 billion program to give American families free charms that ward off economic bad luck'.
Apple Business Is Good: United Airlines is deploying 11,000 iPads to all United and Continental pilots as part of a conversion to paperless flight decks.
But Remember, The Left Thinks Catholics Are 'Oppressors': A first-person account of the Pope's visit in Spain has reported, "We went in and people were shouting filthy slurs and cursing the Pope and it was awful.
So we knelt down and prayed a Rosary for them in the crowd and got surrounded by angry protesters, shouting and threatening and spitting and filming us and mocking us and trying to burn our flags.
A gay couple came and made out in front of us ..."
The left, the atheists, the gays - so many of them are full of rage, rudeness and intolerance. Unless, of course, it's about Muslims (who will kill them) or Black Muslims (who will beat the crap out of them). Then they suddenly want 'peaceful coexistence' and 'tolerance'. And rainbow flags. And "please don't hurt me."
But Catholics - who will simply respond by praying harder - no problem, pick on them.
I'm ready for the Second Crusade. And, this time, it won't be just about Muslims. (permalink)
"Who Calls The English Teacher 'Daddy-O'?" Jerry Leiber, the lyricist side of the great songwriting team of Leiber and Stoller has died at age 78.
These guys wrote much of the music of my life.
They were responsible for such hits as 'Hound Dog' and 'Kansas City', 'Young Blood'," 'Searchin'', 'There Goes My Baby', 'Charlie Brown', 'Riot in Cell Block No. 9', 'Ruby Baby', 'Love Potion No. 9' and 'Yakety Yak'. They wrote and produced many hits for Elvis, including 'Love Me', 'Loving You', 'Don't', 'Jailhouse Rock' and 'King Creole'.
Dozens of have recorded Leiber and Stoller songs, including the Beatles, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Drifters, the Coasters, Buddy Holly, Fats Domino, the Everly Brothers, Dion, Barbra Streisand, Edith Piaf, the Rolling Stones and Aretha Franklin.
Surprisingly (to me), the songwriters' most oft-recorded tune is 'Kansas City' - a big hit for Wilbert Harrison in 1959.
Leiber and song partner Mike Stoller were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1985 and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. Rest in peace, Jerry.
In other death-related news, South Philly legend Joey Vento, who opened the now-famous Geno's Steaks in 1966, has died of a massive heart attack at 71. Vento made headlines a few years ago when he put up signs at his steak shop requiring customers to order in English. RIP.
Quote Of The Day: What separates man from lesser species is our ability to create fire. And our ability to recording television programs for later viewing.
Monday August 22, 2011
Pricey Iron: Over the weekend, several notable auctions were held as a wind-up to Monterey Week and the Pebble Beach Concours.
Some interesting concept cars crossed the block including a Ghia-bodied 1952 Chrysler D'Elegance. I'm almost certain that this is the same red beauty I drooled over at the 2003 Forest Grove Concours. Designed by Virgil Exner, the one-off showcar was produced for Chrysler chief engineer, K.T. Keller. He was the reason that all early fifties Chrysler products looked so conservative and stodgy. Keller had decreed that all rooflines must be tall enough that the cars could easily be driven by a tall man wearing a hat.
The D'Elegance has a roof shape reminiscent of the Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia which appeared a few years later. But taller than the K-G, of course.
This car also had the distinctive gunsight taillights later found on the 1955-56 Imperial. Because they stuck up high (where birds might fly) and had a space between the taillight housing and chrome surround, Tom McCahill used to refer to them as "sparrow-strainers." The D'Elegance was expected to fetch between $1-1.3 mm at RM Auctions event. It brought down the hammer at $946,000.
Also on the block was a 1941 Chrysler Thunderbolt with the characteristic lightning bolt on the side and its novel-for-the-era retractable steel top and curved windshield. This bright green one with copper trim was one of five Thunderbolt dream cars produced. A red example sold in 2005 for $1,210,000. This one went for $935,000.
The 1965 Mercer Cobra concept that I wrote about last month was offered at by RM over the weekend and sold for $600,000.
Bonhams sold a freshly-restored silver 1957 BMW 507 Roadster with hardtop for just over $1,000,000. At the Mecum Auction, a 1960 Maserati Birdcage failed to sell at $1.85 million.
RM Auctions put Steve McQueen's 1970 Porsche 911S on the block and sold it for a whopping $1.25 million, not including auction fees. The 911, seen in the opening scenes of the racing epic, 'LeMans', was McQueen's personal car throughout the filming and has racked up a total of 112,000 miles over the last 41 years. It was purchased by an unidentified American woman.
A 1958 Aston Martin Mk III drophead coupe previously owned by Peter Madoff, brother of Bernard L. Madoff, was sold at auction for $247,500 in Monterey. The proceeds will go to investors who lost as much as $19 billion in Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme.
The Exner-designed, Ghia-built, Opal Blue metallic 1953 Dodge Firearrow III concept car went under the gavel for $852,500. It was supposed to be part of the Allure of the Automobile exhibit. But it didn't show and the Ghia-designed 1954 Plymouth Explorer Sports Coupe was substituted at the Portland Art Museum's auto exhibiton which runs through September 11th. Now I know why; the Dodge was being prepared for auction.
The apogee of the RM event was reached when a 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Spezial Roadster was sold for a whopping $8.8 million - a world record for a car with a three-pointed star.
Finally, a 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa sold for $16.4 million at the Gooding & Co. sale in Monterey - a new record for cars sold at auction.
At the 2011 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, Best in Show was awarded to a perfectly-restored but ungainly 1934 Voisin C-25 Aerodyne. Chacun à son goût, as they say in France, the better sections of Haiti and certain parts of Canada. (permalink)
Drive Time: A sunny Saturday inspired me to back the Plymouth out of the garage and go for a pleasant drive. At 9:00 am, the temperature was a very comfortable 68 degrees. The thermometer eventually reached 95 but temperatures have yet to hit triple digits, something that usually happens in early August.
That's OK because my wife and I already experienced 100+ temperatures this year - in early June during our visit to the Philadelphia area.
There's still some snow remaining on Mt. St. Helens. It's been a relatively cool summer around here. On Saturday evening, we cooked fresh Costco filets on the new grill and shared most of a bottle of 2008 Franciscan Estate Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley - also purchased at Costco.
Life is good.
History Repeats: The Grand Cherokee-based Maserati SUV will be built in Detroit at Chrysler's Jefferson North assembly plant.
Anybody remember the 1989-91 Chrysler TC by Maserati? You know, that overpriced K-car-based Pile-O-Crap from the warped, line-extending mind of Lee Iacocca.
I wonder if the Maserati SUV will come with opera windows.
Polymer Giants: A recent issue of Plastics Distributor & Fabricator magazine carried the inspiring and almost-Runyonesque story of E&T Plastics. In 1946, Sidney Erman and Rudolf Thal combined their business acumen and their initials to create E&T Plastics. Both were refugees of Nazi Germany.
In its early years, E&T Plastics was confined to an apartment in Harlem where plastic was dyed in the bath tub and shaped by heating it up in the kitchen oven. Due to a lack of raw materials in the aftermath of World War II, E&T's supply of plastic came largely from the recycled canopies of no-longer-needed military aircraft.
There are thousands of stories like this about early postwar America where budding entrepreneurs creatively scrounged to build what soon became successful businesses. Some grew to become industrial giants and household names. All from humble beginnings.
People today have forgotten that when World War II ended, these were shortages of many items as factories struggled to made the switch to peacetime production. In 1946 and '47, many automobiles were delivered with sawn lumber pieces instead of chrome bumpers. Customers were given IOUs for 'real' bumpers which would be available later.
Meanwhile, Sidney and Rudolf soldiered on in their new homeland and ... (more >>>)
Book Review: 'Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World' by Andrew Breitbart
First a disclosure - I'm biased. Have you ever had an irrational 'bad chemistry' reaction to someone you've never met but only seen on television or in the movies? They might be a wonderful person in real life but you quickly change the channel or close your eyes whenever they appear ... (more >>>)
Incompetence: When William Frederick 'Buffalo Bill' Cody died in 1917, his embalmer said flatteringly, "The man had marvelous veins." Me, too. I am blessed with good membranous tubes. Getting blood work done is no problem for me. Unless the technician is a total bozo. I encountered such a woman last week at Legacy Salmon Creek.
My doubts began when she couldn't find simple things on the Legacy paperwork supplied to her. I mean, this is what a tech does, enter data - what? - 100 times a day. She also talked to herself in a sing-song manner.
When she started tapping the crook of my elbow and said, "Oh dear, this is going to be a hard one," I said, "Take your hands off of me and get me another lab tech." A different blonde quickly appeared and did a painless and professional blood draw.
I have to get more blood work done in two weeks. I didn't get sing-song's name but I remember her face. She won't be touching me next time, either.
"Pay No Attention To That Man Behind The Curtain": Daniel Greenfield has written, "Behind the fake greek columns, the new logos and the social media is a crook trying to unload a lemon on you at twice the price. And if you buy now, he'll throw in a 15 trillion dollar deficit. Now the crook is driving around on a listening tour in his Death Star buses promising more jobs and lower deficits and a hill of magic beans."
"If Obama were going to listen to the people, he had plenty of opportunities after he was elected. Instead he spent three years ignoring the people, condescending to the people, lecturing the people and vacationing at expensive places and overseas destinations to get away from the people. And his convoy tour is there to impress and awe the common folk with the scale of it. Like Putin staging a fake hunt or finding a trinket that was set there for him to find, this isn't about listening. It's about impressing. In both senses of the word."
I guess that's why he and his wife took two Presidential jets to Martha's Vineyard to vacation, play golf and hobnob with the rich. "Ain't mah money, sucka."
Quote Of The Day is from Frank J. Fleming: "If you think the solution to our problems is to give the irresponsible morons in Washington more money, you're dumber than they are."
Friday August 19, 2011
Braces Shaped Like A '54 Chevy Grille? David J. Myers, a Conway, Arkansas dentist, has built an awesome dental office - an automotive-themed homage to 1940s-50s.
Cadillac Electroado: Thinking back to the Caddy's salad days when the Eldorado was the model to have, the just-announced electric Caddy should have been given a name that acknowledges its heritage.
Of course, the new Caddy will be - oxymoron alert - an over-priced Volt in sleek clothing. General Motors has said, "The Cadillac ELR will feature an electric propulsion system made up of a T-shaped lithium ion battery, an electric drive unit, and a four-cylinder engine-generator. It uses electricity as its primary source to drive the car without using gasoline or producing tailpipe emissions. When the battery's energy is low, the ELR seamlessly switches to extended-range mode to enable driving for hundreds of additional miles."
Doug McIntyre has written that this is the Cadillac no one will drive and ... (more >>>)
Yawn. The 2013 Lexus GS 350 was introduced Thursday at Pebble Beach. It looks like a $25,000 Hyundai although it will probably cost twice that.
It is supposed to be "aimed at the hearts, minds and wallets of would-be 5 Series and E-Class buyers."
Good luck with that.
Car Sighting: I saw my first Nissan Leaf electric car parked on Main Street in Battle Ground Thursday afternoon. Ugly car. Just stating it for the record.
Headline Of The Week is from The People's Cube: 'Six Flags opens new roller coaster called The Dow Jones'.
Runner-up also from The Cube dudes: 'Obama tours states in long black bus; Biden to follow in short bus.'
Changing Business World; New Middle Class Reality: A post by economist Mark Perry led me to a New York Times article by Thomas Friedman.
I don't always agree with Friedman - his theory of resentment, envy and protest is ill-conceived - but he has made some good observations about the recent drastic sea change in the world of business and how it is profoundly affecting society. Ultimately, it may rearrange the social/political/economic framework more so than the Industrial Revolution of the 19th Century.
"Globalization and the information technology revolution have gone to a whole new level." Friedman noted that "technology and globalization are eliminating more and more 'routine' work - the sort of work that once sustained a lot of middle-class lifestyles."
What's the result of this? Clerical and support positions are going away. Such jobs used to provide a very decent living for earnest, smart high school grads and college graduates with unmarketable degrees (Humanities, Social Studies, Poetry, Music, et al). No .... (more >>>)
Risk Versus Redistribution: Karl Denninger has written an excellent post explaining why savvy entrepreneurs are staying on the sidelines these days. He has noted that "when we screw up we lose it all. When the big company CEO screws up, he gets a golden parachute and retires to write books, living out his life with his LearJet in Monaco.
If you want people like me to create jobs you have to stop threatening to steal my capital. I have several ideas for new enterprises, but today I wouldn't even consider committing that capital to these ventures. Not because I might be wrong and fail - that's always a risk, and one that entrepreneurs accept as inherent in the game - but because government wishes to reserve the right to steal my capital any time they wish with their unconstitutional and outrageous mandates and demands.
Let's be very clear about this: I have every right to dissipate my capital doing nothing more or less than enjoying it, and I will do exactly that before I allow the government to steal it and give it to someone who has done nothing to deserve it."
John Galt comes to mind.
Small World: Congratulations to fellow blogger Jack Bogandowski, who arrived in the Pacific Northwest 33 years ago. From New Jersey. In a Volkswagen. Me, too.
Bad Pun Of The Day: When the smog lifts in Los Angeles, U.C.L.A.
Wednesday August 17, 2011
C'mon, You Can Always Use More Horsepower: The oft-previewed Hennessey Venom GT will make its official U.S. debut at Monterey today.
Texas-based tuner/manufacturer Hennessey Performance has produced this vehicle using a heavily-modified Lotus Elise/Exige chassis, powered by an equally-modified 6.2-liter Corvette LS9 V8.
With 1,200 horsepower, a 0-60 time of 2.5 seconds and a top speed estimated at 267 miles per hour, it should be a formidable beast.
Take Good News Wherever You Can Get it: Automotive News reports that Chrysler will add a second shift to its Toledo Assembly Complex, which could result in an additional 1,100 jobs.
Currently, both the Jeep Liberty and Dodge Nitro are built at this facility but the expansion may be for new, yet-to-be introduced vehicles.
Book Review: 'The Jersey Sting: A True Story of Crooked Pols, Money-Laundering Rabbis, Black Market Kidneys, and the Informant Who Brought It All Down' by Ted Sherman and Josh Margolin
In the summer of 2009, the blog Gawker headlined "Everybody in New Jersey Was Arrested Yesterday." It was the culmination of one of the largest-ever federal sting operations in U.S. history. This book, authored by two reporters from The Star-Ledger, details the real story behind the biggest corruption bust in New Jersey's notoriously corrupt history. ... (more >>>)
Restaurant Review: 15 East Restaurant & Bar; Battle Ground, WA
Rising from the ashes of the defunct Paparazzi and with some of the same staff, this new restaurant advertises 'The Craziest Happy Hour That Ever Existed'.
Well, at least they're getting their name out there. And the Happy Hour is ... (more >>>)
The Long And Whining Road: As if this country isn't overspent and broke enough, Obama bought himself a $1.1 million Canadian-made armored bus for what Mitt Romney tagged as the 'Magical Misery Bus Tour'. So much for cutting expenses.
It's only a three-day tour, so that works out to $366,666 per day for the motorcoach. Man, and I thought I was getting ripped off when Hertz quoted $200 bucks a day for a full-size Taurus recently.
It is a huge bus. More room for Obama to throw people under it, I suppose. The giant jitney is painted evil Darth Vader black. Is their some reason it couldn't have been finished in a more patriotic red, white and blue? Isn't this still America? Or are we living inside the Death Star now?
The Secret Service has been stonewalling all questions about the massive vehicle. They won't even say if it's a plug-in hybrid. Or what its energy footprint score is.
On the tour, Barry O. alighted from his ginormous armored polished-anthracite behemoth to scold that ''you can't just make money on SUVs and trucks" as he tried to reshape the auto industry and social engineer the rest of us into driving fuel-efficient balsa wood micro-golf carts powered by unicorn flatulence mixed with corn ethanol.
He also called for tax hikes in a whiny voice. So what else is new?
In an even greater demonstration of clueless desperation ... (more >>>)
Oh Yeah? Which Mullah Signed The Declaration Of Independence? Here's more apologist B.S. from Barack Obama: "Islam has always been part of our American family."
Really? Perhaps this Harvard-educated president would kindly answer a few questions:
• How many people named Muhammad fought in the battles at Lexington and Concord?
• Who were the Koran readers who signed the Bill of Rights?
• What was the name of the Continental Army's Muslim Regiment at Valley Forge?
I'm totally fed up with Obama's lies, appeasement, whining, incompetence, preachiness and sanctimoniousness. Begin the chant: Barry O. needs to go ... Barry O. needs to go.
Quote Of The Day is from the late David Brinkley: "The one function that TV news performs very well is that, when there is no news, we give it to you with the same emphasis as if there were."
Monday August 15, 2011
Taking The Loop: Between a lower back flare-up - something I hadn't experienced in eight years but now thankfully gone again, the blockage of our driveway during tree removals and a bad reaction to a new medication, I hadn't taken any Plymouth rides in a while.
It was 70 degrees at 1:00 pm on Friday and I was feeling better, so I jumped in the coupe and took it for a spin around the back country loop near home. The skies were bright summer blue with only wisps of clouds, the traffic was light and it was perfect driving weather.
Good thing I took my ride when I did; it was cloudy Saturday and Sunday.
I'm making it a point to get in as many drives as possible. The days are becoming shorter, the first hint that summer won't be around too much longer.
History For Sale: Pictured at the top of my article about Popemobiles is Pope John Paul VI riding in a special-bodied 1964 Lincoln Continental Parade Car during his 1965 visit to the U.S.
Later, the car was in parades featuring the astronauts of Apollo 8, 11, 13 and 15.
Bonhams auction house will put this one-of-a-kind Lincoln under the hammer at The Quail auction during Monterey Week at Pebble Beach on August 18-19. It is expected to fetch between $250,000 and $350,000.
Update: Sold for $243,500. (permalink)
Remembering Elvis: The King of Rock and Roll died 34 years ago tomorrow.
I'll never forget where I was when I heard that Elvis Presley was dead. I was driving along the Eisenhower Expressway in Chicago when the news came over the car radio. I had just finished a business meeting in the Windy City and was headed to northwestern Indiana for an overnight stay and another meeting the following day. I was piloting a rented Buick Century sedan and was wearing a three-piece gray suit with a button-down pink shirt and maroon club tie. I don't know why I remember all these details but they are embedded in my brain like a virus-laden Microsoft Windows patch.
Anyway, I left the radio on, because the news was still unsubstantiated. His death was later confirmed with an announcement originating from Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis - before I even got to the Illinois-Indiana state line.
That night, I watched the 11:00 pm news in a depressingly dark Indiana motel room and saw a old b&w clip of a young Elvis performing 'Ready Teddy' on The Ed Sullivan Show. I had viewed that very show when it originally aired in September 1956 and I had just turned 13. It was one of Elvis' finest live television performances. Sullivan was in the hospital after a car accident in his big '56 Lincoln Premiere sedan. Substitute host Charles Laughton introduced Elvis, who performed from a remote hookup in Hollywood where he was making the movie, 'Love Me Tender'.
Lots of people keep Elvis memorabilia, but I have a couple of rare items ... (more >>>)
Iowa Corn: Most people pay little attention to the Iowa Straw Poll. It's not a good predictor of anything, except maybe that a bale of straw will be opened and used up.
In the 2007 straw poll, Romney received 37% of the vote; the eventual candidate McCain got less than 1%. Pat Robertson won the 1987 straw poll by a large margin. This year, Bachmann won with 4,823 votes; Paul - 4,671; Pawlenty - 2,293; Santorum - 1,657 and Cain - 1,456.
Last week's pre-poll debate is now old news and probably nobody cares but I watched it and was impressed by the general tone and caliber of questions. And many of the answers. Good job, Fox News.
Here are my impressions of the candidates during the debate:
• Ron Paul: He's a physician and I swear he's the same loony white lab-coated guy who used to hawk Mega Iron Super Pills on television at 3:00 am twenty years ago. He seems earnest and logical until you listen real close and realize he's half-batshit crazy. When I hear his name, I tend to get him mixed up with Ru Paul. But that's my problem.
• Jon Huntsman: Is he Mr. Gray or Mr. Beige? This guy has zero gravitas and fades into the background faster than 101 Strings elevator music. That's a surprise to me because I heard his dad speak at a plastics trade meeting some 23 years ago and he was a formidable gent who gave a brilliant presentation. The son must be adopted.
• Newt Gingrich: The Newtster always gives good sound bites but then he gets cranky and repetitive, as old geezers tend to do. Plus he has too much personal baggage to be president, including a third wife with a flash-frozen facelift.
• Tim Pawlenty: He sounds like a whiny high-school loser. He picks fights with Bachmann and Romney and then gets angry when they give him that 'you're a nobody' look. Dead man walking. (After a poor showing in Saturday's straw poll, Pawlenty dropped out.)
• Herman Cain: The Godfather's Pizza dude is undoubtedly smart and pro-business but is uneducated in international matters. He sounds dumb when he talks and is in desperate need of an elocution teacher. On the other hand, Cain had one of the best lines of the debate: "We have a pathway to citizenship, it's called 'legal immigration'." Amen, brother. Probably not a contender, though.
• Rick Santorum: He's a very principled guy and I liked what he said but he's a little goofy-looking and his last Senate defeat gives him a loser taint. This social conservative would make a good HHS head when the Republicans take over in 2013.
• Michele Bachmann: She's a fighter. She's true to her principles and has 23 foster kids - ya gotta admire that.
• Mitt Romney: The Republican Robot comes off - again - as a superficial, cliché-spouting phony to me. He looks like some generic guy in a 1938 cigarette ad. Or a 1958 Brylcream commercial. (A little dab'll do ya.)
None of this matters much because there are two other players who didn't participate - Rick Perry and Sarah Palin, so no one can say who the eventual Republican candidate will be.
I think the GOP needs a pair of dynamic 40 or 50-somethings. My idea: Pair Sarah Palin with Michele Bachmann and use the The Soup's slogan:
We Got The Beat: With apologies to the late, great Go-Go's, the song title seems applicable to the recent rash of black mob violence, including beatings at Wisconsin state fair where hundreds of young black people assaulted whites, even pulling fairgoers out of their cars.
Then there's those flash mob lootings and beatings in Philadelphia, Chicago and other urban areas. It makes me wonder if flash mobs are just a cruel, high-tech evolution of the culturally-embedded Talking Drums - a communication tradition still used in Africa.
In Peoria Illinois, a mob of blacks walked through a white neighborhood yelling "We need to kill all the white people around here."
A Christan Science Monitor article discussed another black 'pastime': "a game called 'Knockout King', played primarily by groups of black teenagers, where the point is to approach and quickly strike a stranger, often whites or immigrants, in an attempt to knock them unconscious with the first punch."
Even in Ireland, black hooligans are viciously beating up whites. "One man - a Dublin DJ - was almost killed in the attack as he suffered serious head injuries when he was set upon by the gang. The level of violence has shocked gardai and the many witnesses to the race hate orgy."
A black publication, UhuruNews.com, an organ of the International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement, boasted that the mobs in Philly "are gatherings of young African people, male and female, who have come together to demonstrate their rejection of neocolonialist authority and rule." I call bullshit. Philadelphia has a black mayor and most of the power positions in the city are held by blacks. It's been that way for many years.
Flash mobs seem to be attacking only ... (more >>>)
Religious Demographics: For the first time in Germany's history, the number of Catholics who left the church was higher than that of baptisms: in 2010, 181,193 left Catholicism, 170,000 were baptized.
Undoubtedly, some of those who left went out feet first as the ranks of the faithful are diminished by the death rate, which in many developed countries exceeds the birth rate. (permalink)
Quote Of The Day is from Steven Wright: "A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking."
Thursday August 11, 2011
What's Wrong With The Auto Industry Today In One Headline: 'Maserati to unveil Grand Cherokee-based SUV'.
The First Law of Marketing and Brand Positioning is this: When you decide to be everything to everybody, you become nothing. It's already begun at Porsche.
"Harden Not Your Heart" is a phrase used by Christian churches and organizations, especially when asking for financial support for the "less fortunate" and/or those "poor people in the Third World." It's a misapplication; the verse in Psalm 96:8 was actually about the Israelites questioning the existence of God during a time of strife.
According to U.S. estimates, the recent drought and famine in Somalia have killed more than 29,000 children under the age of five. Getting aid to Somalia has been made more difficult because Al-Qaeda-linked militants control much of the country's most desperate areas. Tens of thousands of refugees have fled south-central Somalia in hopes of finding food at camps in Ethiopia, Kenya and in Mogadishu, the Somali capital.
This is one more indication that much of Africa is ruled by thugs, many of them sworn enemies of the U.S. There are better things to do with our charity ... (more >>>)
Wheeeeeeee! Enjoying the U.S. stock market roller coaster ride this week?
Yesterday's dive was apparently due to rumors that French bank Société Générale was about to fail and that several large "off-market" gold transactions were engaged in.
It's also rumored that there is a constant drain of dollar funding from highly rated core European banks, as US money market funds reduce their exposure to the big "safe" European banks.
What does the future hold? Don't ask me, I dunno.
It was reported that Bernanke and Obama were huddled at the White House Wednesday afternoon. Probably rehearsing their lines for the remake of the movie 'Dumb and Dumber'.
Is Everything That Ever Happened Before Bad? Victor David Hansen, who was born in 1963 and has admitted that he could "never quite understand the writ against our ancestors," has written, "The tragedy of the entire university, postmodern race/class/gender writ against past Americans is the fact that our generation has little to show for its moral posturing.
When Obama lists our sins from Hiroshima to supposed genocide, I wonder how he would have managed a wagon train, or what he would have done when facing the horrific choices of either sending the napalm-carrying B-29s over Japan or invading the island to trump an Okinawa ten times over. Would he have voted present?"
We should learn from history. Bringing back DDT would be a good start. So would nuking a few of our enemies. (I'm thinking Iran and North Korea for openers.) And maybe removing China's Most Favored Nation status until it learns to play nice. We could do it with a Market Adjustment Factor - just like car dealers sometimes do - an idea I proposed back in 2005.
Quote Of The Day is from Frank J. Fleming: "One the biggest threats to an infant early on is when you misread a label at the baby store and accidentally bring home a box of vipers."
Wednesday August 10, 2011
Car Sighting: I got my first-up close look at the redesigned Chrysler 300 today in Battle Ground. It is a very nice looking machine, a definite step up from the previous model, with some of the gangster dialed out without losing its muscular appearance.
I chatted with the owner who just took delivery a week ago and is very happy with his purchase.
He bragged that when someone cut him off on the freeway, the radar cruise control automatically hit the brakes. I replied that I want a car that does the opposite.
When somebody cuts me off, I want it to do a automatic radar lock-on followed by a missile launch.
Gear Lock: The U.S. government has developed a new logo for its Department of Innovation. Did you know that such a Department exists? I didn't. It's now mostly in the form of a blog on the Smithsonian website. But, like all government departments, I'm sure the department will soon receive regular, ever-increasing funding.
Many have made fun of the logo which has three interlocked gears which are unable to move. Some see it as a metaphor for our three-branch government consisting of three useless cogs frozen and locked up.
I dunno. Maybe it's just an innovative design for a parking pawl on an automatic transmission.
Double Dip? In light of the anemic numbers coming out of various government bureaus and the stock market panic, everyone seems to be wondering if we're headed into a double-dip recession.
The last so-called double dip came in 1980 and '81. I was running my plastics manufacturing and distribution business at the time and never witnessed an uptick and then a fallback. To me, it was one ginormous recession. (Actually, in Linn County Oregon, where my business was once located, it was a full-scale Depression - with unemployment peaking at 27%. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, national unemployment peaked at around 25%.)
My feeling about this time around is ... (more >>>)
My Brief Brush With Fame: Fred Imus, radio personality who appeared frequently on his older brother Don's radio show, died last week at age 69.
I met Fred once during a visit to Santa Fe, NM in 1998. RIP.
Wood Be Gone: Yesterday, we finished a large project. We had many trees on our property trimmed up. We also had several dying/decaying ones removed including a large triple-trunk cedar which was in danger of falling on our house.
This was a major job; the limbs alone generated over 25,000 pounds of chips and debris. The huge tree trunks removed represented another 50,000 pounds or so of wood.
The house looks much different now; we're happy with the appearance. It is less claustrophobic but we still have lots of privacy. Photos here.
Ass Ads: No, this is not about the President of Syria.
In Great Britain, female beach volleyball champions are renting out their rears in an advertising deal that encourages spectators to photograph their behinds.
"Zara Dampney, 24, and Shauna Mullin, 26, have turned their bottoms into their bottom line by wearing bikini briefs with a Quick Response (QR) code printed on the back where it will catch the eye of spectators.
When photographed on a smartphone, the code takes the user to a specific website - in this case, for bookmakers Betfair."
Since the article provides no dimensions, it's not possible to use the Butt Math equation to determine attractiveness. Visual observation will have to suffice.
Bad Pun Of The Day: A dentist and a manicurist got married. They fought tooth and nail.
Tuesday August 9, 2011
Heavy Duty: Dan Neil tested the big and expensive ($126,990) Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG and wrote, "A day behind the wheel of this car equals the Gross National Happiness of Bhutan. The problem with this machine - and the Porsche Panamera Turbo, the Bentley Flying Spur, and any number of other galaxy-class sedans - is that physics will suffer only so much insult.
If you have to back way out of the throttle or tighten your line significantly, you'll become reacquainted with the enormous, implacable momentum of the thing. Your adrenal glands start squirting fear hormones like squid ink. Whoa, horsey, whoa ..."
The Party's Over: The end of the capitalist welfare-state model has arrived. When S&P downgraded the U.S. credit rating, it was the same signal as when the catering manager turns up the house lights, to announce the end of the party and spotlight the mess from the wild revelry.
The band has packed up their instruments and left, the overflowing ashtrays are being emptied, the stain-filled tablecloths are on their way to the laundry, the last drunks are staggering outside to vomit copiously in the parking lot and the bill for the festivities has been presented. We have partied too hard and now find ourselves broke.
The Great Society - aka: the U.S. Welfare State - is pretty much toast. Its failure is living proof that mollycoddling helps no one and greatly harms society. And wrecks our once-vibrant economy.
Winston Churchill once said, "Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy. Its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery."
In this country, it there is now talk of 'Shared Sacrifice', although the liberals who invented this term never specify what exactly society's deadbeats will be 'sacrificing'.
Kurt Schlichter has written, "It's already happening the liberal dream of a perpetual social welfare state where deadbeat liberal constituencies feed off of the work of productive conservative citizens in perpetuity is dying. There's no doubt about that; the only question left is how long and hard the process will be as the hideous leviathan the utopian liberal establishment has created convulses and dies.
It's going to die hard. And ugly ... (more >>>)
The Spending Cuts ... which had a starring role in the recent 'Little Nell On The Railroad Tracks' drama in Washington, DC last month, have turned out to be nonexistent and are more villain than hero in the play.
The 'cuts' are merely rescinded planned increases, which is like me saying, "I planned to buy a Bentley Flying Spur in a few years but I've changed my mind and have, therefore, cut my budget and saved money." Oh yeah? Where's the money I saved? Not in my wallet. Not in my money market account. Hmmm. I guess there isn't any real money.
Meanwhile, credit rating agency Standard & Poor's has downgraded the United States' credit rating for the first time in history.
The credit rating agency cut the country's top AAA rating by one notch to AA-plus. S&P made the move because the deficit reduction plan passed by Congress last week did not go far enough to stabilize the country's debt situation.
Mark Steyn has said, "We need to stop the spending now. The spending in this country is nuts." Last week Mark "drove back south of the border. I'd been over the border in Quebec for lunch, and I passed a little border post at North Troy, Vermont.
On the Canadian side, Her Canadian Majesty makes do with a one room hut.
On North Troy, they've rebuilt this border post that handles a couple of cars an hour with this big, two-story facility, six lanes of traffic. It looks absurd.
In the rubble of the United States, space aliens will be saying 'North Troy, Vermont - what a mighty empire this must have been here.'"
Steyn also said that this example represents "a toe tag of Uncle Sam lying in the morgue, because I think that's what's at stake." Well said.
Send Us Mo' Money: Quasi-government entity and mortgage maker Freddie Mac has reported another quarterly loss and asked for an additional $1.5 billion in federal aid. The government rescued Freddie Mac and sibling company Fannie Mae in September 2008 after massive losses on risky mortgages threatened to topple them.
Taxpayers have already spent roughly $150 billion to rescue Fannie and Freddie, the most expensive bailout of the 2008 financial crisis.
Time to put these incompetents out of business.
Critical Cousin: Dr. Milton R. Wolf, a cousin of Barack Obama ... but certainly no fan, has written about the results of the Obama presidency so far. Here is a selection of bullet points:
• Two million-private sector jobs have been lost.
• Unemployment jumped from 7.8 to 9.2% with a simply terrible 2011 first-quarter economic growth rate of just 0.4%.
• A record 1 in 7 Americans is on food stamps.
• Gasoline prices more than doubled, from $1.83 to $3.74 per gallon.
• National debt increased 35%, to $14.5 trillion, or $137,000 for each taxpayer.
• National unfunded liabilities increased 47%, to $114.9 trillion, or a cool $1 million for each taxpayer (and this does not yet include Obamacare).
• America is on the verge of losing its AAA credit rating. (Ooops. It's already happened.)
Meanwhile, in July, the Obama Administration added in $9.5 billion in new regulatory costs by proposing 229 new rules and finalizing 379 rules, including more EPA regs, healthcare reform and financial regulatory reform rules. That oughta keep businesses from expanding. ... (more >>>)
Come On Down. You'll Love Our 13+% Unemployment Rate: Michigan-based RelocateAmerica has selected Vancouver, WA for its 'Top 100 Places to Live in 2011' list.
Got Pessimism? The Woodpile Report is not optimistic about the state of the U.S. Economy or Gum-mint intrusiveness: "Like any other train wreck, the damage is determined by how and where it happens. This one sends us off a high bridge, arcing toward the river. Almost graceful so far. Enjoy the ride. Next comes the real panic and then the real pain. How bad it'll be nobody knows, but a glance through history tells us no "worst case" is ever off the table.
The only winners in any of this are government and their employers, it's all about their survival, not ours, which is why citizen involvement has gone from a civic duty to an annoyance to an outright threat. Think not? The Patriot Act, Stimulus Bill, TARP and ObamaCare were all drawn up in secret - "under the radar" they call it. All were loathed and opposed by the citizenry, all were passed virtually unread. We have a secret government which negotiates with itself. Worse, critical parts of some laws are secret, the Patriot Act for one.
There's more. Regulatory agencies have been expanding their mandates by acting on extreme interpretations of the law, or by enforcing laws proposed but not enacted, or otherwise going rogue, the EPA and ATF most conspicuously of late."
Apparently He's Running For Finance Minister of Zimbabwe: Alan Greenspan - appearing on NBC's 'Meet the Press' over the weekend - said, "The United States can pay any debt it has because we can always print money to do that."
Book Review: 'In The Garden Of Beasts' by Erik Larson
The term 'nonfiction chronicle' is easily applied to Larson's books. They are based entirely on well-researched facts but are written with the excitement and intrigue of a novel. Erik's earlier work, 'Devil in the White City', is the poster child of the genre.
His latest work is not fast-paced but is a shocking and vivid portrait of Berlin during the first years of Hitler's reign, as seen through the eyes of ... (more >>>)
Quote Of The Day is from John Kenneth Galbraith: "The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable."
Friday August 5, 2011
Happy Birthday To Me: I'm now 68 years old and share the same date of birth - except for the year - with Loni Anderson, Neil Armstrong and the Elephant Man.
I am still enjoying life, unlike a certain unpopular President who had to celebrate his birthday yesterday raising reelection money with 2,400 donors in Chicago, instead of spending time with close friends ... he has none, methinks.
In contrast, my birthday weekend will be spent at home in the company of family and friends. I expect to take a drive on my ol' Plymouth and perhaps, enjoy a Canadian Club Manhattan with two cherries.
Wednesday August 3, 2011
Geezermobiles: According to TrueCar, Cadillac is the Senior King.
85% of Cadillac DTS buyers are over age 65. CTS Wagon - 74%. Caddy STS - 71%. Cadillac CTS - 49%.
Buick came in second with the Lucerne at 87% and the LaCrosse at 59%.
54% of Toyota Avalon buyers were over 65 but so were 53% of Porsche Panamera owners.
The Lexus LS460 registered 51% geezer ownership as did the Jaguar XJ.
Clear Sale: The Plexiglas-bodied 1940 Pontiac 'Ghost Car' crossed the auction block for $308,000 recently.
It was constructed for and exhibited as part of the General Motors Highways and Horizons exhibit at the 1939-40 New York World's Fair.
I saw this car make its entrance on the display field at Pebble Beach in 1996. It was eerie to see the radiator fan twirling - driven by a white rubber fan belt - as the car cruised slowly by. (permalink)
Auto Sales Report: It was a mixed bag for automakers in July. Chrysler was up 20% but Ford and General Motors increased by a more modest 9% and 8%, respectively. Toyota sales were off 23%; American Honda dropped a resounding 28%.
Overall light vehicle sales came in at a 12.2 million SAAR in July. That's up 6.1% from July 2010, and up 6.2% from the sales rate last month.
See America By Rail: Over the weekend, we had house guests - old friends who had traveled cross-country by rail.
They said they'd never do it again: chronically late trains, food and restaurant seating shortages, hard-to-book sleeping accommodations and ... (more >>>)
"He Took A Hundred Pounds of Clay ..." Talented singer-songwriter Gene McDaniels has died at age 76. Best known for his 1961 hit, 'A Hundred Pounds of Clay', he also recorded the 1962 hits 'Point of No Return' and 'Chip Chip'.
In my opinion, his best work was 'Warmer Than A Whisper', the B-side of 'Point Of No Return.'
In 1974, Roberta Flack reached #1 with the McDaniels-penned 'Feel Like Makin' Love'.
Depressing News: Three out of every four Washington residents who have exhausted their full jobless benefits are still unemployed, according to a survey by the Washington State Employment Security Department. Of those who have found jobs, 75% were making less than in their previous jobs - an average of 29% less.
20% of those who found new employment are now working outside the state.
On the national front, Americans cut back on their spending in June for the first time in nearly two years and their incomes grew by the smallest amount in nine months. And, the July ISM Manufacturing Index was at its lowest point in two years.
Here's another reason why our economy is stagnant: Last week, the Boston Globe has reported that "Boston Scientific Corp. said yesterday that it plans to eliminate 1,200 to 1,400 jobs worldwide during the next 2 1/2 years to free money for new investments, the Natick medical device maker's second major round of cuts since last year. The company would not say how many jobs will be lost in Massachusetts, where fewer than 2,000 of its 25,000 employees are based."
"Yesterday's move, a day after Boston Scientific disclosed it was investing $150 million and hiring 1,000 people in China, raised fears that the company will gradually shift more work to foreign sites with less government oversight and lower costs than the United States."
The quest for "less government oversight" rings true to anyone who operates a business. The bureaucratic intrusion into everyday commercial activities has become so burdensome that it is killing off business formation and growth.
An article last year in the Wall Street Journal hinted ... (more >>>)
Maid To Last: Founded in 1920 in Wooster, Ohio and initially named Wooster Rubber Co., Rubbermaid quickly expanded from toy balloons into housewares and automotive accessories. In 1956, the firm began producing injection-molded plastics items as well.
Ohio soon became a hotbed ... (more >>>)
Headline Of The Week ... so far ... is from The People's Cube: 'Study: Bicyclists have replaced Prius owners as smuggest commuters on Los Angeles freeways'.
Bad Pun Of The Day: A thief who stole a calendar got 12 months.