Thought You'd Never Ask

Just mouthing off -- because I can.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Busy days before Christmas

I've been tied up making Christmas cookies. Also running errands, cleaning, doing laundry, hosting friends. The house smells of anise, competing with the pot roast in the crock pot. The kids are home from school and once they roll out of bed in late morning, they are full of zip and vinegar. Lots of shouting, bellowing, squealing, thumping, good-natured poking, and exchanges of our latest family catchphrase: "Excuse Me: Shut UP!" This is hilarious because it is so contrary to how we raised them to be polite little kids, and now as teens they are allowed to revel in the ironic joke of this wildly rude, contradictory exhortation. Holiday spirits! Vacation rules!

My son dressed up in white dress shirt, suit, and tie to supervise my daughter and me making the cookies. Cookie cutters and dough no longer tempt him. Instead, self-appointed tunemaster, he supplied the soundtrack, which was mostly Mark Snow's music for "The X-Files" and Angelo Badalamenti's music for "Twin Peaks" (with a little Frank Sinatra Christmas Album thrown in). Somehow it all seemed very right, very festive.

My daughter dressed for the day looking vaguely like a Japanese Goth & Lolita figure, but in an outfit of her own eclectic design, with purple suspenders, jeans, big buttons on her Napoleon Dynamite "Tater Tots" t-shirt, elbow-length fingerless gloves, big orange sunglasses, and a new hat she loves and is prohibited to wear to school by the "no hats at school" rule (it reminds me of the early John Lennon's Greek fisherman's hat). Funny how my kids seem repressed by having to conform to their public schools peers' unspoken dress codes--they prefer on vacation to dress very differently. Self-expression is busting out all over. I am charmed.

Instead of doing computer work yesterday, I went for a three-mile walk in below-freezing temperatures. It was sunny, crisp, and hushed. I loved it.

Today we'll put icing on the cookies we baked yesterday. Counting down the days until Christmas. "Holy, holy, holy...."


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Do we really need to hear from any more Kennedys?

And if so, why?

Didn't Americans just vote for "change?" According to the Democrats, I thought America was tired of dynasties in office (like the Clintons and the Bushes). I thought we threw hereditary rule out of America in 1776. Guess not. Now, in the case of Caroline Kennedy, it seems you don't even have to have voiced any ideas--or demonstrated any experience--or have governed anything--to be considered for appointment as a Democrat U.S. Senator from New York. You just need A Name. A famous, glamorous, legendary name. And it ain't Schlossberg.

Personally, I find the Kennedys as a clan to be neither legendary nor glamorous. They are merely an incalculably wealthy (money earned exactly how?), politically-savvy and connected American family in the public eye for generations, to some good but also to much bad effect. Beyond their progressive, leftist, Big Government, nanny-state politics (as exemplified most in our day by the morally repugnant Ted Kennedy), their evident sense of entitlement and elitism, in combination with their evident dedication to "public service" (as they often stupidly define it) and their evident willingness to cut corners in their own self-interest rubs me the wrong way. Let's just say they are as a clan not known for their scrupulous integrity. I consider them as a whole to be no more intelligent, compassionate, enlightened, or worthy of public office or adulation than your average American family.

But being a fair-minded American, I am happy to judge each Kennedy on his or her own merits for office, as I would judge any other American in contention. So what are Caroline Kennedy's qualifications and merits for the job of New York Senator, if we refer to her as socialite fundraiser Caroline Smith?

Illinois, New York, what's the dif when it comes to corrupt power-play politics? Call me cynical, but I think they both need a strong fumigation. At least a few remaining journalists in upstate New York weren't taking it lying down and playing dead. Neither are some voters. But does anyone really think any of it will matter--or is the Camelot pay-for-play fix in? Hey, New Yorkers actually elected First Lady Carpetbagger Hillary Rodham Clinton to represent them, so I guess we can't expect them to be too picky about qualifications. It's their New York tradition by now, apparently.

I've lived in both upstate New York and in Chicago, and I'm glad to say I don't anymore (even though it's a shame because they both have their good sides). High and rising taxes and the accompanying declining economy and lack of opportunity drove my family out of New York State in the 1960's, and crime, racism, and an atmosphere of corrupt politics drove my husband and me out of Chicago's South Side in the late 1970's as soon as we were able to escape (similarly, I like to think, as Rose and Milton Friedman eventually left Chicago after he won the Nobel Prize for economics). It could be different, and better, someday, but now too many politicians in those places are too busy feathering their own nests and taking advantage of their positions to take care of business.

As Ann Landers (or was it Dear Abby?) used to say, nobody can treat you like a doormat unless you let them. As far as I'm concerned, there are better-run places for decent Americans to live, work, and pay taxes. So, we (and a lot of others) went away. Will it ever change? Will Illinois and New York ever clean up their acts? Let's see: maybe throwing another Kennedy (or Cuomo) at the problem will do the trick.

Labels: , ,

Best Christmas movies

One of our Christmas traditions is that my family and I like to watch the same movies we always (or often) watch during Christmas vacation. Last night it was Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life" (Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed, 1946) which we hadn't seen together for two years.

It is one of my all-time favorite movies, right up there with "Casablanca" and "The Right Stuff." In fact, Jimmy Stewart and Frank Capra both claimed it to be their favorite movie. The older my husband and I get (and the sappier, some might say), the more we invariably tear up at the most touching scenes. We have to blow our noses at the end of the film. Our kids are too young to appreciate the depth of all that's in there about life beyond youth ("Aw, youth is wasted on the wrong people!"), but they get plenty.

The miraculous thing about Capra's work is how his movies can appeal to so many of all ages, on so many levels. "It's a Wonderful Life" in particular is the kind of movie that has so much depth in it (in a deceptively simple and humorous and most importantly, entertaining script) that you can always find something new to appreciate in it after innumerable viewings. (I think this is precisely the kind of film Sullie would've gone on to make after the end of his journey in "Sullivan's Travels.") The cast, direction, acting and cinematography are, it seems to me (a die-hard fan of classic Hollywood movies of the 1930's-1950's) perfect. It is in my opinion one of the shining examples of the Golden Age of Hollywood movies (an age long-since gone if not for DVDs).

The Chicago Tribune has listed its Top 25 Christmas movies (via Ace of Spades HQ). I haven't seen 11 of those, and don't care to (especially the dopey, modern, throwaway would-be-hip "comedies" that are too broad, too slapstick, too vulgar, too lame).

Here's what our family likes to watch:

"A Christmas Story" (1983; a perfectly rendered film from the masterful mind of storyteller Jean Shepherd; hilarious for all ages, with its unreal but magically charming agglomeration of nostalgic touches from 1930's, '40's, and 50's. This little gem makes three generations of our family laugh out loud.)

"White Christmas" (1954; funny and touching, with so many memorable "musical numbers" by Danny Kaye, Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, and the unbelievably wasp-waisted dancer, Vera-Ellen)

"Elf" (2003; cute, touching, funny, and fun for the whole family)

"Pee-Wee's Playhouse Christmas Special" (1988; an undiscovered gem of special guest appearances and random Dada Pee-Wee weirdness appealing to kids and adults alike).

When my children were smaller (and when my husband and I were kids) of course we watched the TV classics: "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (1966), "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (1965), and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (1964), along with some miscellaneous and classic Mickey Mouse Christmas fare. Recently my kids even sat through some old Andy Williams Christmas Specials from the late 1960's and early 1970's, reshown on our local public broadcasting station during Pledge Week. Those took me back (my mother always loved Andy Williams) and my kids were fascinated to see the Williams Brothers and the young Osmund Brothers singing in close harmony (they only know Donny Osmund as the singer of "I'll Make a Man Out of You" from Disney's "Mulan").

My kids sometimes also clamor to rewatch "You've Got Mail" at Christmas time (1998; Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks at their most adorable and, yes, touching). It's not exactly a Christmas movie, though it has some nice Christmastime-in-New-York-City scenes in it. I happened to play the soundtrack music CD while making Christmas cookies a few years in a row and it somehow became embedded in our minds with Christmas.

My son and I watched the action-thriller "Die Hard" together one night last week (his first viewing, mine the first since it came out) and I realized that this is a Christmas movie too (1988; Bruce Willis still has hair, and kills 11 German terrorists led by Professor Severeus Snape (the suave Alan Rickman) and trashes a skyscraper in Los Angeles to save hostages and win back his estranged wife). It's rated R for bloody violence, intense suspense, and language appropriate to a New York City cop encountering life-threatening situations and bad guys. But the good guys have a Merry Christmas in the end.

I'll still choose "It's a Wonderful Life" as my only Christmas DVD to take with me to my desert island.

Labels: ,

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Bento artistry

I still pack lunchboxes most mornings for my children to take to school with them. My kids love it and request it, so I am happy to do it. I figure whatever I throw into their lunchboxes while I chat with my kids in the mornings has got to beat whatever they're serving in the school cafeterias (and my kids vehemently confirm this fact).

Mommy-made Ritz cracker sandwiches with peanut butter in the middle (my daughter's frequent fallback, as she is not much of a sandwich-eater), store-bought veggie sushi, Mommy-made sandwiches with fresh ingredients, or even a tub of humus and a handful of Triskets, pita rounds, or bagel chips still beat the school district's dreaded "beef hands" my daughter describes so hilariously. (Think "chicken fingers" only more gross, and think of kids in the cafeteria "waving" the "beef hands".... Not appetizing.) As my daughter tells me about the school cafeteria fare, "Once somebody found a heart in their chicken." She BEGGED me not to make her buy the school district's special Thanksgiving lunch, as she didn't want to eat the turkey bones in the stuffing....

My minimal efforts to provide better nutrition to my loved ones are as nothing compared to Japanese moms--or to this Japanese woman in New York City who creates artistic bento box lunches for her boyfriend--you've got to see her artistry to believe it. And she says:

In Japan, a lots of moms wake up early to make bento for their kids and their husbands. And often, they make cute animals or characters from anime shows out of food, so that kids will enjoy eating healthy food. Those bento are called “Kyaraben” or “Charaben”. (character bento)

It’s so much more challenging than making a plush, and takes only about a couple of hours. But no, I don’t spend the couple of hours straight to make bento. I get up 6 in the morning, and we try to leave the house around 9:15-9:30. And most time, I prepare the food the night before, sometime while I cook dinner. (EDIT: I changed “takes only about 5 hours” to “a couple of hours” because, usually 1 hour for doing a sketch for bento, 1 hour for preparation the night before, and a couple of hours in the morning). The best part is, your work will be eaten and gone by the end of the day!

Huh?! That investment of time and thought to produce a transient box lunch every day is so foreign to me. I rarely enjoy cooking (which, for a mom, admit it, is much of the time a chore), and like my mother, I tend to lament that all the work that goes into food preparation ends up negated by five to ten minutes of chewing, soon forgotten. Neither my mother nor I were ever that much into cooking (we'd both rather be doing something else creative). When it comes to food, like the proverbial Jewish princess, what I like making best is reservations.

I envy and admire this woman her amazing attitude (similar to the Shaker aesthetic, perhaps: "Do your work as though you had a thousand years to live and as if you were to die tomorrow") as much as I admire her amazing creations:

Sleeping Totoro (our family loves the "My Neighbor Totoro" movie)

Wall-E and Eve

Kaonashi (No Face) from "Spirited Away"


How to make a snowflake

Incredible talent, and an eye-opening look into another way to be.

Hat tip to Stodgy Geezer.

UPDATE: You can buy a simple Japanese bento box for your children to take their sushi lunch to school with in style (my daughter, the big manga fan, has the "Dreamy Friends" bear version, and the chutzpah to flaunt it at the school cafeteria).


Friday, December 19, 2008

The Christmas season as seen in the U.S.A., 2008

Animals have been an important part of the Christmas story for centuries. Everyone is familiar with the oxen, donkeys, and sheep in Bethlehem. On Christmas Eve the animals there were said to have talked, or to have given gifts to Jesus. There are even some traditional stories that include storks, spiders, and cats present at Christ's birth.

Here are some representations of animals celebrating Christmas that I discovered today:

No Baby Jesus, Joseph or Mary in sight here, though.


My Friday links

Music can heal humans as well as plants. (May I suggest some Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks? YouTube video here. Or how about some Andrews Sisters? Or the Jim Kweskin Jug Band? Or some Ethel Smith?)

Patients set up and run their own clinical medical trials with the help of internet social networks. (Both links via John Goodman's Health Blog). Technology + freedom furthers science yet again.

Bizarre cloud formations, tiny animals and pets, and other interesting stuff (links at The Corner).

"Deep Throat" dies (good historical summary at the New York Times).

Future Schlock: P.J. O'Rourke (our generation's H. L. Mencken) on Disney's latest (and definitely not greatest) House of the Future (via American Digest).

Another Hollywood actors' strike looms. Now they want to unionize all internet productions too. Just like the UAW, SAG is so interested in maintaining its chokehold on an industry, it's failed to notice the golden goose is already dead. (Via Drudge Report)

"Keynesian Economics is Wrong" - a brisk, easy-to-understand 7-minute video, with visual aids, explaining why FDR-Obama-style "government stimulus" programs will do exactly the opposite of what they're intended to do. (Via Michelle Malkin)

Enjoy your Friday.


More melancholy and bizarre images of Christmas 2008

Crime scene
(Santa, we hardly knew ye)

Unidentified sports figure?
Polar bear deflated by Global Warming?

"I've fallen and I can't get up!"

Alien spacecraft
(disguised as Santa in a bubble)


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Reflections on the life of the mind

As a former "English major" (back in the early 1970's, scraping by just before there were mandatory "Literary Studies," and feminist and ethnic and Marxist literature studies, and all that politicized jazz), I agree with this essay by Bruce Fleming (via Maggie's Farm), which says 'The professionalization of the field is turning students off'--

...The good news is that we've created a discipline: literary studies. The bad news is that we've made ourselves rulers of a realm that has separated itself almost completely from the rest of the world....

Students get something out of a book by reading it. Love of reading was, after all, what got most of us into this business to begin with. We are killing that experience with the discipline of literary studies, with its network of relations in which an individual work almost becomes incidental....

Most people never read serious literature at all without a guide. Too, people get more sophisticated as they have things pointed out to them, or as they read more. And many people just don't know what they may read to begin with. So there's a reason for teaching. We professors just have to remember that the books are the point, not us.
Read the whole thing; it's interesting.

As a lifelong booklover, bookworm, and writer, I can't imagine myself (or any young person) committing the undergraduate years to whatever passes as a major in English now. In fact, it was a quixotic choice in my own case, made possible only by the fact I was fully funded by four years of scholarship money--I never would have wasted my parents' or my own money, or gone inito debt, for such an unremunerative pleasure otherwise. But it was indeed a pleasure.

I am sure you can still get an education in literature at college these days, but can you be sure it'll be good or great literature, taught well and/or with relevance to reality, and can you be sure your time won't be wasted on the secularized equivalent of asking how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Who needs that, when real life, including the creative life and the life of the mind, is offered so many more interesting activities and opportunities down other streets? But I mourn for the young booklovers, bookworms, and writers who find only Literary Studies professionals standing in the classrooms to welcome and guide them.

It's not only literature, though. Back in the early 1970's I entered college determined to double-major in English and Philosophy. I loved books and literature, loved the life of the mind I was only beginning to detect, was intensely influenced by logical argument and by the philosophy and writings of Ayn Rand, and I wanted to get the best education I could to ultimately puzzle out: What is the well-lived life? and other important philosophical questions.

To my surprise and disappointment, I learned in college (after the wonderful first year of taking The History of Philosophy and studying the Greek philosophers) that a Philosophy major in the 1970's involved mastering a grueling treadmill of symbolic logic, mathematical-like propositions, semiotics and a lot of modernist mumbo-jumbo about texts, linguistics, relativism, and the meaning of meaning (foreshadowing Clinton's popularization of "it depends on what 'is' is."). Wittgenstein was the last modern philosopher I studied who I even understood or cared about in the least. I dropped the double major before it sunk me. Such was my education in modern intellectual thought. I learned at college that modern college intellectuals do not seem to ask "What is the well-lived life?" or anything so plebian or old-fashioned. I assume by now modern college intellectuals have run the study of literature through the same meat-grinder.

Then there's this great essay by William Deresiewicz: The Disadvantages of an Elite Education (Our best universities have forgotten that the reason they exist is to make minds, not careers)." Via American Digest, it starts out like this and gets better:

It didn’t dawn on me that there might be a few holes in my education until I was about 35. I’d just bought a house, the pipes needed fixing, and the plumber was standing in my kitchen. There he was, a short, beefy guy with a goatee and a Red Sox cap and a thick Boston accent, and I suddenly learned that I didn’t have the slightest idea what to say to someone like him. So alien was his experience to me, so unguessable his values, so mysterious his very language, that I couldn’t succeed in engaging him in a few minutes of small talk before he got down to work. Fourteen years of higher education and a handful of Ivy League degrees, and there I was, stiff and stupid, struck dumb by my own dumbness. “Ivy retardation,” a friend of mine calls this. I could carry on conversations with people from other countries, in other languages, but I couldn’t talk to the man who was standing in my own house....
I agree with Professor Victor Davis Hanson (who knows how to chat with a plumber) that our civilization needs more liberal arts studies, just as it needs more ethics and morality. I just don't have much confidence any more that most of our nation's liberal arts professors and our institutions of higher learning can or want to deliver the important stuff in the forms we need and can use.

UPDATE: American Digest also offers this essay further musing about the state and the purpose of our modern universities. I am glad and hopeful to find it's being discussed.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Images of the Christmas season in the U.S.A. in the year 2008:

By day, a deflated puddle of plastic; by night --somebody's idea of a festive holiday bauble.

Ho, ho, ssssssss.....


Monday, December 15, 2008

The global warming hoax begins to unravel

Power Line points out that the Associated Press is woefully behind current news on global climate change. Okay, duly noted and filed in the "incompetent journalism" file under "AP." Is there anybody conscious in America these days who still believes everything they read in a newspaper, hear on the radio, or read on the internet, without checking it out?

This displays a remarkable level of ignorance on the part of the Associated Press. Global temperature records are nowhere near accurate enough to rank years, over a period of centuries, with any confidence. For the recent past, though, we have the world's best data set here in the U.S. And it's true that at one time, it was widely believed that the 1990s were the warmest recent decade. But that was before it was discovered that NASA's James Hansen, Al Gore's chief scientific ally, had been fudging the data, either accidentally or on purpose. NASA was forced to correct its data, with the result that the ten warmest years on record here in the US are as follows: 1934, 1998, 1921, 2006, 1931, 1999, 1953, 1990, 1938, 1939.

The AP apparently hasn't gotten the word, perhaps because it is relying on the report of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. But the IPCC report was a political document, not a scientific one, which deliberately ignored the most current research in the field.

The main thing that's for sure, whatever is going on with Planet Earth, is that we don't need any more politics infused into or grafted onto science. I'm talking about you, Al Gore. Science is about finding out facts, finding out the truth about things. Al Gore and other such envirofascists are about propagandizing and politicizing things to lean on people ("The debate in the scientific community is over!") to forcefully achieve their own ends.

Fortunately, scientists are now speaking out against Al Gore's so-called "consensus."

As Ivar Giaever (Nobel Prize winner for Physics) says:

“I am a skeptic…Global warming has become a new religion.”

Exactly. And you don't have to be a major brain to realize that. Thank goodness people are starting to speak out about the subversion of science in the name of political profit. If we don't remain open to facts, we are really lost.

UPDATE: RightWingSparkle has more, and adds:

It has come to the point that if you are a scientist or researcher and don't agree with the man made global warming crowd, then you are threatened and ruined in your career. Unbelievable.

This just seems typical of the left to me. You either agree with us or we will make you agree with us.

If we can't have frank discussions within the science community over things such as this, then we are doomed to ever really learn from our environment or ourselves. When political agendas censor any dissent or disagreement, then we have lost the ability to effectively examine this world in a true scientific way.


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Time out for the holidays &tc.

I've not been blogging recently, for a number of reasons. And I notice with some inner satisfaction and solidarity that I'm not the only one whose blogging rate and volume has fallen off. One of my favorite bloggers, Bookworm Room, has noted that many conservative or right-wing blogs, including her own, have reduced the quantity and frequency of their postings since the Presidential election. I don't find that surprising at all. As she explained,

A lot of air went out of my tire when the election ended. Obama is now a fait accompli and I’m just watching and waiting. So far, he’s shown himself to be every bit as dishonest as I had anticipated. The surprise, though, is that his dishonesty is hewing slightly conservative, not radically progressive — showing that he’s no fool.

Obama said anything and did anything to get elected and, now that he’s elected, is discovering that Bush wasn’t the idiot everyone (Obama included) said he was. Still, Bush is still President, and Obama still has his scary entourage, many of whom he recovered from under the bus. I suspect I’ll have a lot to blog about come the latter part of January and onwards from there.

(For more regarding Obama's lying, she posts here.)

I too suffered from election fatigue and deliberately drew back from all media for awhile, including no longer putting any time at all into my own posts. Nothing I could say right after the election would change anything or anybody very much, and I needed some respite from all the time and attention I had been putting into trying to make a difference in the election. After a few days, although I wasn't posting, I was back to surfing my other favorite websites, very grateful for the fact that those wonderful, talented, diligent others (see the sites in my sidebar) were still on the job. I consider their contributions vital and important (not to mention infinitely more important, significant, influential, and entertaining, of course, than my own).

Bookworm also admitted she had noticed she was repeating herself and had grown tired of that:

I feel as if I’m trapped in an infinitely repeating loop. I return endlessly to the same things when I blog (bad Democrats; bad Islamists; weak, foolish Republicans; crazy San Franciscans, etc., ad nauseum)...

I’m really not sure how I’m going to escape this stale feeling. I think we’re living in momentous times, and I truly believe that blogs are still an important means of communication in the coming years — especially if the Democrats succeed with their “unfairness” act. I’d like to be a part of this continuing communications revolution, but I’m concerned that I’m not snapping out of my own personal time warp, in which everything I say now, I’ve said before. For the time being, I’ll continue to attribute my mental malaise to post election fatigue (about which many commented at yesterday’s party), and assume that, come the true Obama administration (as opposed to this lame duck period), I’ll become intellectually reinvigorated and surprise you all with something fresh! The good thing is that, while I may be stale, others are still turning out wonderful stuff. (Although not as much as usual, so I suspect that others in the blogoshere are suffering from the same flat feeling.)...

Yup. I second all that. The funny thing is, Bookworm is now back to posting invigorating essays well before January and the ascension of PEBO [President Elect Barack Obama]. You just can't keep a good blogger down. Writers gotta write, just like water's gotta flow downhill.

I've been much lazier, in some sense, because I'm a lot less important in the grand scheme of blogging. I've had reactions to, and opinions about, daily events--but so what? Big deal. I've also deliberately made a point to spend more time with my family, and less time glued to the computer screen (today is the first exception). I've been trying to make up a little for neglecting my family and my other chores as I did in the last few days before the election.

Now, as every mother knows, it is the busiest time of the year for those of us who celebrate Christmas. Mothers (and sisters, wives, and daughters) are expected to do a million and one unseen and collectively time-consuming little things in a long line of day-by-day small steps that bring off the kind of Christmas everyone looks forward to. All of that takes time, concentration, and focus. That's what I've been doing since Thanksgiving. And it's been fun.

This blog just doesn't pay me enough to be the major focus of my attention, especially at this busiest time of the year. And I wouldn't have it any other way!

So now, that's it for blogging today. I'm off to coddle my daughter, who has a cold and sore throat, proofread my son's AP Lit research paper, and then put up some Christmas lights to outline our family room window and then go choose and bring home our 2008 Christmas tree.

May all of you be feeling merry and bright, and have (or make) time to enjoy the reasons for this season.

Labels: ,

Most Americans want no more taxpayer support of failing businesses...

yet only a handful of Republicans and a few Democrats in our current Congress stand between economic common sense and the auto "bailout" -- which is not a bailout, but our government wanting to fling taxpayer money at bad management and bloated labor unions addicted to living with their eyes tightly shut. Even our so-called Republican President George Bush is no longer willing to stand up for free enterprise, competition, merit, or the taxpayers. He too is ready to fling taxpayer money at the worst-performing, yet politically favored automakers (three out of the ten companies producing autos domestically with an American workforce). How nice that President Bush can now go out of office leaving such a bad taste in the mouths of Americans who know better--yet again. Good riddance to eight years of such disappointments from the nation's biggest Compassionate Conservative, who once actually tried to pass himself off as a "friend of the taxpayer."

This Power Line blog post sums up my thoughts exactly on the so-called "bailout." It hits all the pertinent notes: the hypocrisy and the posturing of politicians, Big Three management, and union leaders; the intense dishonesty and partisan pro-labor/anti-taxpayer spin of the media coverage; and the craven image of so-called business leaders mewling and puking and begging in front of Congress for yet more government intervention in their dying big business. As Power Line and so many others have pointed out, these three automakers could benefit most from going into bankruptcy and getting their acts together again. But no, management and unions are united in wishing for Big Daddy in Washington to continue to feed them their soporific drug-money in the name of suspending reality for yet a few more months. Then more, then more, then more....

Most ordinary Americans know what's going on and detest this use of their hard-earned income. I detest it so much I can never imagine myself buying a car from one of these "Big Three" porkbarrel addicts, just on principal. Imagine how the employees of the other, better-run, harder-working, domestic automakers feel, watching their own tax dollars going to subsidize their overpaid, incompetent, failing competitors. This is taxation without representation indeed.

That makes me furious enough. But the most depressing aspect of this story by far is that a handful of Republicans and a few Democrats in our current Congress are still able to stand up for the taxpayers (even while being stabbed in the back and undercut yet again by President Bush). Come January, and come the new Hopey-Changey administration and the new, more Democrat Congress, I'm guessing we won't be able to notice anybody standing up for the American taxpayer or real American businesses anymore.

My opinion on this, vented earlier.

Betsy Newmark, among many others, says bankruptcy doesn't mean the end of the companies, and the greedy unions are to blame for the most recent bailout bill falling apart in Congress. Roger L. Simon calls the bailout "a rescue program for incompetent execs and thuggish union leaders." I think a lot of ordinary folks have gotten this message, no thanks to the mainstream media. Bloggers using facts, arguments, and visual aids (via Ace) have helped get the message out. It's not so hard to understand, unless you're a Congress-creature beholden to the unions for your seat instead of beholden to your constituents and the best interests of America and its economy. ("The union gave $1.9 million to Democrats but only $11,500 to Republicans in the 2008 election cycle.")

I think if horse carriages and buggy-whip manufacturers had been unionized, Congress today would still be subsidizing those businesses (an industry too big to fail!), too.

Neal Boortz has said:

$1,600 of every GM car you buy goes toward the healthcare costs of union workers. For companies like Toyota that aren't unionized - that cost is only $200 per car. GM also spends another $1,000 per vehicle on holiday pay, work rules, plant-shutdown-pay and line-relief to UAW workers. Those are costs that auto makers such as Toyota don't have to worry about. The average Ford, GM or Chrysler union worker makes about $71.00 or more per hour. For Toyota, Nissan and the rest ... about $48.00 per year. Do you detect a small problem here?

If the Democrats are truly concerned about "restructuring company finances" they should start with union contracts. What is clear from this situation is that these companies can no longer handle the burden of unionization ... so why should the Democrats allow this practice to continue if they succeed with their bailout? It will be the taxpayers funding the system that broke these auto companies to begin with. [my bold]

But instead, unions killed the bailout bill. At least for now:

...Jim DeMint says, "The primary driver behind this is the unions, because bankruptcy allows the auto companies to basically restructure all their contracts in a way that a bankruptcy judge says will make them sustainable ... And if they do that, then essentially the unions lose all their leverage. It's the unions that have brought them to the brink. So definitely, I think the reason they want a political solution and a car czar is because a car czar can protect the unions through this whole process at the expense of the taxpayer." Makes sense ... so why did the UAW stand in the way of this $15 billion? I'll tell you why. Because they know they can get the full deal as soon as the Democrats take over, without any strong wage concessions. They're betting that GM doesn't pull the bankruptcy lever before PEBO [President Elect Barack Obama] gets sworn in. [my bold]

What I want for Christmas: many more people who understand basic economics and care enough to do something about those people in power taking advantage of those who don't. And faster, please, Santa.

Hat tip to Maggie's Farm, too.

UPDATE: Why the UAW needs to take a haircut.

Labels: , , , ,