Friday, April 27, 2007

A New #1

For the first time in 76 years, General Motors (GM) did not lead the world in auto and truck sales for a quarter. The honor went to Toyota. This is significant. There has never been a company in the world like GM. Even as recently as 10 years ago, this seemed almost inconceivable. GM was that big. GM had that much clout.

There's a myriad of reasons for this. As in anything in life, staying at the top is about the hardest thing there is to do. This behemoth company had decaying factories, couldn't keep up with the fast pace of technology, was too slow to adjust to current trends, used typical American short-term planning, had no global strategy, and couldn't keep up with quality standards of it's foreign competition. It's amazing that GM was perched where they were for as long as they were.

It was also recently revealed that due to being tied to the UAW, GM is paying pensions to hundreds of thousands of ex-employees. Approximately $3000 of every GM car sold goes just into paying these pensions. Chrysler and Ford are in similar boats but the rest of the auto world is not. Toyota, Nissan, Mercedes, and BMW are building cars and trucks in the Southern United States to avoid the unions. The big three aren't able to do this.

Don't shed tears for GM, though. They should have seen this coming years ago. Instead, they maintained a state of corporate denial until a few years ago. Believe it or not, GM seems to be coming back. Many of their latest offerings have been top or near the top rated by the auto magazines. Cadillac, suddenly has become one of the most desirable brands around. It's hip and trendy to own a Cadillac again after years of being perceived as stodgy boats for people over 70. The Corvette is now considered to be a world-class performance car, as good, if not better than many Porsches. Saturn is grabbing attention with its very good Aura. GM may be on the way to being a top brand again. It's hard to be that optimistic about Ford and Chrysler. Ford has had a decent showing this year sales-wise, but they have a long way to go to be profitable again. Chrysler, with no help from it's parent company Daimler, is only worth around $5 billion. 10 years ago, it was worth $39 billion.

As for Toyota, it's not as rosy as it would seem. Quality problems, particularly in the transmissions, have been reported lately. Most of these problems have been in the latest version of the Camry sedan, which is their bread and butter.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Link Restored (With a catch)

I have thought over this quite a bit and I have chosen to re-create the link to Erik's blog. I do this to serve our friendship because despite the issue that lingers, I know his heart is in the right place.

I am insisting on placing a disclaimer in-between though, unless the overdue apology comes.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

On Being Conservative

I consider myself as politically conservative. I occasionally sit and think about what that means to me. I know it's not about siding with any specific political party. It's about how I see myself and others in the struggle that is life. I wanted to post an entry about what I feel makes one conservative. As it turns out, George Esseff beat me to it by posting his views in The Washington Post. Not only did he beat me to it, I must say that this piece is particularly well-written and accurate. This could easily be used as a means to gauge just how conservative one is. I am posting the entire article below. The red comments are mine.

In this writer’s opinion, if the Left in America could re-write our language, the way they continually try to re-write their political and philosophical failings, the term “conservative” would emerge as a four letter word! Liberals have repeatedly tried to label Conservatives as heartless, narrow-minded, money hording, tax evading, bigoted exploiters of the poor and the environment … a misrepresentation which, it appears, the Media willingly perpetuates. Well, this is one Conservative who’s not afraid to stand up and … set the record straight! (Read on, you may be more of a Conservative than you think!)

Who we are … are people who believe that the true measure of an individual is determined by his or her values ... not their color, ethnicity and/or political affiliations;

Who we are … are fathers, husbands, mothers, sons and daughters who understand that America is at war with an enemy that will employ any and all opportunities … and exploit any perceived weaknesses … political and psychological … to kill Americans, whenever and wherever they find them… and destroy those very principles, freedoms and ideals which protect us … and upon which this great nation was founded; These enemies seek sympathy from us, and then exploit that sympathy. Just ask Israel.

Who we are … are citizens, tired and disgusted with the political left’s, “Blame America First” crowd, who eagerly rush to judgment (and the nearest camera) to blame this country and her people for all the world’s ills, from … Global Warming to International Terrorism;

Who we are … are Americans who are grateful for a President who understands that National Security must come before Political Correctness; Personally, I am not all that grateful as I don't feel Bush adheres to this policy very well. As for the left's "Blame America First" assessment, Mr. Esseff is right on.

Who we are … are parents who recognize that our children are America’s most precious asset. That’s why we are so vocal against the Media’s obsession with Hollywood’s perversities … and the morally corrupt, socially inept “Pop Culture Icons” it incessantly creates for our youth. Why is it okay for children (or anybody else) to call women "bitches" and "hoes" or call police officers "pigs" and "murderers" as long as it is done to rap music?

Who we are … are political voices, many of whom are former Liberals, who now recognize our actions must be based on realities … unlike today’s Liberals who seem content to act on “feelings” and speak only in platitudes;

Who we are … are the sons and daughters of immigrants, many of whom came to America themselves to escape tyranny and discrimination in their own homeland … but they came here legally! As Conservatives, we demand our lawmakers take any and all steps necessary to immediately enforce our laws, secure our borders and protect our nation; Again, the Bush administration has failed here. The first act of anti-terrorism after 9/11 should have been to shore up the borders. Also, our forefathers and mothers entered this country to work and create a better future for their children, not to take advantage of free money and health care and spit on the very nation that provides this for them.

Who we are … are voters who demand that far-reaching governmental policies must be based on fact … not feelings … and debated on the merits of science and pragmatism … not political correctness … nor expediency; ...nor made up science or re-focusing the issue on the wrong thing.

Who we are … are people of faith who believe in the sanctity of life, the blessedness of marriage and the preservation of the family. We also hold that abortion is immoral … and partial birth abortion is nothing short of legislative genocide;

Who we are … are constituents disgusted by the posturing of liberal politicians who seek only to exploit the horrors of war through the debating of defeatist Resolutions. Resolutions proposed by Liberals for no purpose other than to embellish themselves with the far left, while embarrassing the country and our military … without any care nor regard as to how their actions may demoralize our troops … and encourage our enemies! Talk about about Nancy Pelosi entering the Lion's den in the cowardly, submissive fashion she did?-Utterly disgusting and embarrassing.

Who we are … are concerned individuals who recognize that the Left’s mantra “I support the troops but not the war” is an oxymoron perpetuated by those whose only intent is to weaken the war effort and demoralize our fighting forces. It’s impossible to separate “the warrior from the war” and if you don’t understand that fact, then re-think your position, because the fastest and most effective method of defeating an army is to destroy its morale by questioning its mission … just ask our enemies!! This is especially true when you realize our military is completely voluntary. Telling them what they are doing is wrong is not supporting them. It is utter disrespect for choices they have made.

Who we are … are Americans who sadly recognize with War comes casualties. But we also recognize day, after day, after day, that to only report the deaths of America’s bravest … while completely ignoring the successes, achievements and objectives for which they died … is a disgrace of such proportion that it makes us wonder …. On whose side is the Media? On the side that gets them the most attention and ratings. US soldiers getting killed sells newspapers and puts people in front of the TV. Not only that, the media knows such coverage will anger people and get them out to protest, more ratings to them. Showing people in true support of the troops and the mission isn't nearly as newsworthy. With today's media, we probably would have lost World War II had they shown the carnage. People would have been convinced we don't belong in "Europe's war".

Who we are … are people proud that under the Bush Administration, despite numerous attempts, not one single terrorist attack has occurred on our soil in over 5 ½ years; our economy has climbed to an all time high; taxes and inflation are at twenty year lows; Federal tax revenues are the highest in our nation’s history and the deficit is down by almost 50% (as predicted by the President). Yet, despite all this, the liberal leadership in Congress is threatening to “take America in a new direction”! Additionally, home ownership is at an all time high. The percentage of minority-owned businesses is at an all-time high. Unemployment is at extremely low levels. All this is going on despite the media's seemingly constant warnings that "the housing market bubble is about to burst", "a recession looms", "jobs are being exported to China and India", and of course..."George Bush doesn't care about black people."

Who we are … are freedom loving individuals who are opposed to activist Judges who seem determined to impose upon us their failed, liberal policies through judicial edicts … rather than our legislative processes;

Who we are … are compassionate people who have always practiced what Arthur Brooks’ book “WHO REALLY CARES”, recently confirmed. Namely, when it comes to helping the poor … across the board … Conservatives, from the working poor to the wealthy … consistently give more of their money … and their time … than liberals do! Not surprising, these studies confirm what many of us have known for decades … namely, that liberals are quick to give away other people’s money but reluctant to part with any of their own! Liberals don't want to help those less fortunate, they want more legislation set for the "rich" to do it for them and then want to bash them for not doing enough.

Who we are … are historians who recognize that the Liberals’ plans for “appeasement” and “cut and run” are not new ones! Britain and France did it in 1914 and their “success” resulted in World War I; Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain did it in 1939 and his “plan” ignited World War II. Because of today’s high tech weaponry, our world is a far more dangerous place; consequently, victory is our only option! What many don't seem to understand is we are at war, not just against Iraq, but against the entire anti-western philosophy that is radical Islam. This war is being fought throughout the world and within our own country. When Muslim taxi drivers refuse Jews for fares - When Muslims demand that supermarkets stop selling pork products because it is against their religion - These are acts against the American way of life and it is only the beginning. Muslims are burning thousands of automobiles and other property every year in Europe. Unfortunately, that's probably going to start happening here. The front for this war is in Iraq and Afghanistan, it needs to stay there.

Who we are … are people to whom every life is precious, but we also recognize that freedom is fragile. In a world where the Media’s “perception” becomes the public’s “reality”, it’s easy to forget that in America’s last great struggle, 407,300 of our fighting forces gave their lives … so we could have ours. Our losses averaged 298 a day … for each and every day of World War II. In comparison, our Iraqi losses have averaged fewer than 3 a day… and as tragic as that is… it’s up to each and every one of us to make sure none of them shall have died in vain.

Who we are … are a population grateful to this nation’s men and women (and the families they left behind) who sacrifice their blood, sweat and tears to defend America … her people … and her way of life. To you, we say “thank you” ... and to God, we pray for your blessings … protection … and safe return.

Who we are … are people firmly committed to Jefferson’s belief … “Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press…” (Thomas Jefferson to John Jay, 1786). But when the press abused the public’s trust, he also wrote, “A truth now and then, projecting into an ocean of newspaper lies, serves like headlands to correct our course” (Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, 1815).

I have paid for this ad with my own money, in hopes that this too will serve as a “truth” to those needing a course correction.

George J. Esseff, Sr

His website.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Father I Remember

Every time I see your face, it reminds me of the places we used to go.
But all I got is a photograph and I realize you're not coming back anymore.
-Ringo Starr and George Harrison

It's ironic, maybe even a little bit tragic, that most of my fondest memories of my father are when I was very young. At that age, I was my Dad's pride and joy. I remember him carrying me upside down over his shoulders, calling me his "sack of potatoes". I remember him taking me to all sorts of places, my favorite being Santa's Village, a now closed amusement park in the San Bernardino mountains. I remember him taking a lot of interest in me, what I thought, and what I did.

I was recently listening to a Frank Sinatra CD I had given him years ago and I remembered something I hadn't thought about in many, many years;

I was 4 years old and in nursery school. I remember some kid calling another kid "stupid". That night, I mentioned it to my dad. He told me that calling someone "stupid" was a terrible thing to do and he never wanted to hear me ever do that. So, as a young impressionable kid, I had my first "forbidden" word. Of course, it didn't take me long to use it against my mother, which of course, resulted in a not too pleasant punishment. Some time shortly after that, I was with my Dad in the car. He had the radio set to his favorite radio station - KGIL 1260 AM. I heard a song I had never heard before, it was Frank Sinatra and he was singing a song that had the word "stupid" in it. I misheard the lyrics and thought the song went like this:

...And then I go and spoil it all by saying that you're stupid when I love you.

I thought this song was hysterically funny. My dad was amused that I found this song so amusing. For a while, whenever that song came on, my dad would point it out and say something like "they're playing your song". Finally, he bought the album. I remember him showing it to me in the store pointing out that Something Stupid was there.

As I grew older, it got harder and harder to amuse or please my father. He grew cynical and very critical of everything I did or said. We grew farther and farther apart and the older I got, the more I felt I had disappointed him. As an adult, I rarely spoke to him knowing that anything I said could spark his fury.

As he aged into his late 70's and early 80's, he got sick and became feeble. In the past few years, he wasn't the man I had known all my life. In many ways, I lost my father before March 15th this year. I refuse to remember him as the helpless old man he had become. Instead, I'll remember him as the stern, unyielding, son of a bitch that I both hated and loved.

And Dad, as you left this world and went on to the next, I hope that even though we rarely said anything pleasant to each other, that you felt you raised a son who is at least, somewhat worthy of your expectations.