Sunday, May 31, 2009

Consolidations - bigger is not always better!

Having lived through consolidations in government, I think that leaders have to re-evaluate the efficacy of such actions. As we look at the current state of the economy; ask yourselves, is bigger really better? Was it better to have AIG so big that it could not fail? Is it better to have GM so large that it can't function in the down economy? Was it wise to split AT&T into multiple companies a few decades ago?

It seems like every time there is a financial crunch in government or business, administrators react by insisting on larger organizations. The argument is always the same; by consolidating operations, we all become stronger. I want to be diplomatic in my response; but I think I need to say, bull shit! While leaders of institutions are well intentioned when devising new, larger organizations, they need to fully comprehend the consequences. Administrators need to look beyond quarterly results, annual results and even bi-annual results. True leaders need to look at a longer time horizon; perhaps decades. I'll go as far as saying, bigger is almost never better!

I lived and supported a reorganization that consolidated environmental functions within the State of Rhode Island. In the late 1970's, the Department of Natural Resources was combined with the environmental regulatory functions housed within the Department of Health. The new agency was named the Department of Environmental Management (DEM). The arguments all seemed to make sense and the leaders behind the change were the most dedicated professional I have ever known. In retrospect, the change was disastrous.

In the new agency, financial pressures did not disappear. Over time, fiscal issues took an exhausting toll on one side of the agency. The new DEM, when faced with mandates from the EPA and others, struggled to find resources to accommodate the needs of everyone. The consequence of the merger resulted in the draining of financial and personnel resources from the natural resource areas and shifted those resources to the environmental regulatory areas. In 1986, I became the chief of the forestry agency that had 65 full time positions, coupled with dozens of part time summer positions. When I retired in 2005; a retirement fostered by the frustration of dealing with management needs, I had 29 full time positions. Today, my successor has only 17 full time positions. Responsibilities have been amended, but the public generally requires the same service.

This is not the end of the story. When I retired in 2005, the DEM had roughly the same total number of employees as when I started as chief. Emphasis and power changed the allocation of resources. The legislature, fed up with the regulatory burdens imposed on businesses and citizens, continually limited the financial resources of the department. The natural resource areas; the white hat side of the department, was devastated by the continual shifting of money and personnel towards the other side of the agency. The regulatory areas; the black hat side of the department, kept on growing and growing at the expense of natural resources.

Today, natural resources areas at DEM have been decimated, eviscerated, castrated and left to struggle with an almost impossible job. I feel for the employees that are trying to do their best for the people of Rhode Island. Rhode Island is not better off because of the shifting financial dynamics within the larger, "more powerful" agency. The larger agency has lost status in the eyes of the legislature and the struggle to correct the lack of fairness will take generations.

Bigger is not better!

Tomorrow, I will discuss another pending reorganization that will have lasting negative consequences for years to come. This story will involve the consolidation of two colleges at the University of Massachusetts.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Random Reasoning's XIII

An occasional column of random thoughts and observations.

  1. In Governing Against the Tide's last 2 polls, the full results can be found in the May 20, 2009 post. It looks like readers think that under no circumstances should government be bailing out newspapers and it looks like the Republican nominee for president in 2012 will be "Joe the Plumber". How sad is that?
  2. How many businessmen like Rhode Island's Governor Donald Carcieri does it take to screw in a light bulb? Answer at the bottom of the column. Think about it for a while!
  3. Did you see that President Obama managed to conduct a selection process for the next Supreme Court Justice in less than a month while "asleep at the switch" Donald Carcieri has not even come close to selecting the needed justices for Rhode Island in over 6 months?
  4. Do the Republicans that want to close Gitmo really want to send these prisoners back to their country of origin? Ya; that will keep us safe. Same goes for the chicken Democrats.
  5. Did you just hear that Michael Steele declared that the Obama honeymoon is over? Now that's what I call a problem with premature ejaculation! On second thought; the Republicans have E.D., so maybe they just want to skip the honeymoon and stick to screwing the American people.
  6. Dick Cheney needs to keep talking so his prosecution can be expedited. When the hell will Eric Holder move to uncover the crimes of Cheney and company? I agree with Obama; no need for a Truth Commission, we have prosecutorial power to deal with the crimes. Get on with it!
  7. Can somebody out there do a cost/benefit analysis of the Alan Shawn Feinstein ads that permeate our television viewing? Not for nothing; the kids are cute, but enough is enough. Can't he take that money he is spending on the future embarrassment of his grandchildren and feed some people with it?
  8. Nobody can say the Barack Obama is not changing the color of the nation. An Hispanic Supreme Court nominee and the first black NASA Chief are positive steps. I think that he could add additional color by making Lisa Simpson his next Supreme Court nominee. Hell, she's smarter than Antonin Scalia and better looking too.
  9. CIA is suppose to stand for the Central Intelligence Agency. I'm OK with two words but I'm confused by the intelligence part. If you can't take accurate minutes to a meeting, your not the brightest bulb on the tree.
  10. Did you see that Michael Steele recently said that liberalism will "kill you"? Well it won't kill me; as for him, there is always hope. (I'm speaking of his message here).
  11. Dick Cheney is a traitor to this country. He is trying to create an atmosphere that will empower our enemies to attack us again. He may not understand this, but he never understood anything. He did nothing to prevent 911 when our government saw it coming, he lied about Iraq, he lied about torture and his lies continue. The media should ignore him.
  12. Carrie Prejean has her right to her opinions even if her mother is gay.
  13. The sickest story to appear during the past week involved the report on how George W. got his daily security briefings; apocalyptic biblical passages were supplied by Rummy to Dummy each day. To the Christian Coalition out there; this practice is reminiscent of radical Islam, and these are the guys you chose to lead this nation for 8 years - Dummy, Rummy and Scummy!
  14. Thank you Notre Dame University; you are first class. No thank you; Arizona State University, you just plain suck.
  15. Answer to the question: A minimum of five businessmen: one to organize the privatization process; one to ask for bailout funds because of the unforeseen expense; one to process retention bonuses to ensure the continuity of the work force; one to design a futures market to capitalize on the lost light; and one to report on the progress.
  16. "Let there be light"; now where the hell does that come from?


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Have Americans become a nation of cowards?

To answer my own question; I don't think so. Americans have made the bold choice to move away from Bush era policies and look to the future. This is not a sign of cowardice. I do have a broader point that I want to make. I'm becoming increasingly troubled by the reluctance of our leaders to close Guantanamo Bay Cuba and move prisoners to U.S. facilities. It seems to be a reaction to fear; and, Dick Cheney is the biggest fear mongering, cheer leader of them all. Why?

When I was 17 years old, my parents bought a piece of property on Ashumet Pond on Cape Cod. Their intention was to build a retirement home. The pond at that point in time was relatively undeveloped and I have to tell you, the fishing was fantastic. The pond bordered the Massachusetts Military Reservation, Otis Air Force Base and Camp Edwards. Just to the north of my parent's new property was a secluded sandy beach adjacent to acres and acres of cranberry fields. One day while fishing off of the beach, an elderly man approached me and told me the history of the beach. He said the beach was used by the military to exercise German POWs during World War II. He told me he thought the Germans had it pretty good. they were allowed to swim in the pond and they played soccer along the beach.

Where was the fear then? While the country reacted to fear by imprisoning loyal Japanese citizens on the west coast, it seems like our mortal enemies may have been treated pretty good.
Now I'm not proposing treating our al Qeada enemies the same way that German prisoners were treated in this instance. I am saying that there should be absolutely no fear about placing these prisoners in super-max facilities around this country.

The herd mentality of Congress is amazing to watch. While I maintain that Americans are not cowards, I may not be able to say the same thing about the majority of Congress that envision Willie Horton around every corner. Thank you Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed for not following the coward's path.

It seems like Cheney and friends simply don't trust the "message" that is America. Our message is far more powerful than theirs. Let's do our best to get these prisoners tried, sentenced and moved to secure facilities here. It is our responsibility and Americans should fear nobody.

As for Dick Cheney and friends that live in fear; that's your problem not America's, go to bed with your shotgun.

Another Bush problem that is confronting Obama because George W. did nothing to resolve the issue involves the release of Manuel Noriega (for a snapshot history of Noriega click here). You remember; our friend, our employee, our informant, our CIA go to guy that became our enemy according to George Bush, Senior. Our enemy that was housed in U.S. prisons for decades has served his sentence. Noriega's sentence was completed in September of 2007 and is now being illegally held by U.S. authorities because they don't know what to do with him. Stay tuned!


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Rhode Island's idiotic leadership and other thoughts

Before I begin, just a comment on our last two polls. In last week's poll; should the government get involved in bailing out newspapers? The top response was; no, not ever, 85%; Maybe, 10%; yes, 5%. In this weeks poll; who will be the Republican nominee for president in 2012? Seems like Joe the Plumber is the head of his party, 44%; Tim Pawlenty, 24%; Mitt Romney, 8%; None of the above, 8%; Rush Limbaugh, 4%; Jeb Bush, 4%; Bobby Jindal, 4%; Charlie Crist, 4%; Sarah Palin, 0%; Michael Steele, 0%.

Rhode Island is coming down to the wire on this year's fiscal budget and the leadership could best be described as vacuous. Maybe that's a good thing though; because the fewer decisions Carcieri and company make, the better off we all are. Carcieri is hell bent on leading us down the Republican road to ruin. I just hope he takes down the Republican radio talk shows with him. Unfortunately, many Democrats are along for the ride.

Just yesterday, radio talk was aghast at the notion that a forced pay holiday for state workers demonstrates the outrageous costs of state workers. The one day holiday will save approximately $2.4 million. All day long the stupid talking heads were trying to make their point. Can any of you idiots on the radio and in the Governor's office learn how to use a simple calculator. The state budget is $7 billion dollars; divide that by 365 days in a year and you get to see how much money Rhode Island is spending each day. Over $19 million is spent each day by our government and only $2.4 million to pay the workers.

I get it Mr. Carcieri and you other business brains; you have a fiscal crisis and you are always pointing the finger at state employees. That's right, keep trying to balance the state budget by stealing from our state employees. Mr. Carcieri; stealing from the future of our state employees and deamonizing them has been your main platform throughout your terms as Governor. How stupid and callous your leadership has been. Hell, why don't you just lay off all of the state employees; if you did, you still could not balance the state's budget.

Now the short-sighted leadership team will continue to work hard to dismantle state employee and teacher pensions. Fine Mr. Carcieri; if you want to run the state more like a business, then where the hell is my "retension bonus"? Where is my bonus for the years that I brought in hundreds of thousands of additional Federal dollars? Why can't I be paid at a competitive salary commensurate with my peers in the private sector and the Federal sector for that matter? If you think you have all of the answers to these questions; you don't!

Governor Carcieri; a solid and secure pension system is the best way to reward folks that give themselves to their jobs, their community and their state. The public employees are paying their fair share and they always have; the government needs to keep its end of the bargain. Changing the pension system will significantly reduce the state's fiscal condition within a few years. Build for the future, don't destroy the future.


Friday, May 15, 2009

Americans need to be very careful when listening to Newt Gingrich

Today I heard Newt Gingrich blast Nancy Pelosi for her comments that implicate the CIA in misleading Congressional leaders about waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques authorized by the Bush administration. Americans need to be extremely cautious when listening to the former Speaker of the House; Newt Gingrich, who has an axe to grind.

My political sense is; why would Nancy Pelosi lie about such an accusation? Pelosi is already the Speaker of the House so it can not be a grab for new power. I have not always been a fan of Pelosi, but something tells me she is being absolutely honest with the American people in this case. Republicans sense a vulnerability here and will go after her with a vengeance. Enter Newt Gingrich; the shamed former Speaker of the House that had over 80 ethics violations filed against him, who paid a fine of $300,000 with some of the money loaned by Senator Bob Dole and who had to give up his seat as Speaker.

Watch out America; don't let them fool you again. Let's look at a few more interesting facts. Former Senator Bob Graham agrees with Pelosi as he too claims that he was kept in the dark. Graham goes as far as saying that the CIA recently provided him with false information about how many times he had been briefed on enhanced interrogations. The CIA has made a claim that he attended four meetings when he has proof that he only attended one.

What is more curious from my perspective is the relationship between Dick Cheney, the CIA (whoever he was meeting with) and Newt Gingrich. I remember reading after the invasion of Iraq that Dick Cheney had made eleven separate trips to Langley (CIA headquarters). It had been reported that he was pressuring CIA to provide intelligence that would support an invasion. I have no direct knowledge of Cheney's clandestine trips of shuttle diplomacy between the White House and CIA. I do know that his trips were unusual and out of line. Many CIA analysts felt uncomfortable and pressured by Cheney's continuing presence.

What has not been widely discussed and to me is somewhat confusing is the presence of Newt Gingrich along with Scooter Libby and Dick Cheney to these multiple meetings at CIA. Apparently, Gingrich was serving as a Pentagon consultant for the Bush administration and was as connected to the Bush misdeeds as Osama bin Laden was connected to 911. That's right America; Cheney's approval rating is below 20 % and Gingrich was right there with him. Don't be fooled by this slime that played a significant role in lying to the American people so Bush and Cheney could capture their coveted Iraqi oil.

Newt Gingrich is not a reliable spokesperson because of his track record of lies and deceit. He served as consultant for the biggest foreign policy mistake in American history. Why the hell would anyone think he is spinning the truth about Nancy Pelosi? If you believe that he is, you need to do some serious soul searching. Newt Gingrich is a danger to this country and any friends at CIA that are not being truthful are a danger too.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Challenge to Readers IV

Help find the answer to the following question.

I don't know about the readers, but I've had a lot of fun posting a challenge now and then. Today's challenge is about one of my favorite movies; "Three Days of the Condor". The lead actors are Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway and Cliff Robertson. Robert Redford (Turner) plays the part of a CIA employee who is employed to read novels and books from around the world and to simply file reports on the various plots that he encounters. Faye Dunaway is the innocent bystander and Cliff Robertson (Higgins) plays a CIA leadership role.

I've chosen this movie and challenge because I believe it has relevance to our current foreign policy situation (I'll explain in more detail at the end of the challenge). Sometimes, art does mirror reality.

The movie takes place in 1975 and is centered in New York City. To refresh your memory; Turner leaves the office to get lunch for everyone at a local eatery. Upon returning, he finds everyone in his station has been assassinated.

The question is this; What did the Redford character, Turner (code name: Condor) uncover that lead to the elimination by assassination of his entire station in New York City?

Have fun with this. More importantly, go watch the movie again as it has remarkable parallels to the realities of today.

The challenge has ended.

Congratulations! That challenge was solved rather quickly. In the final scene; Condor asks Higgins, "Do we have plans to invade the Middle East?" Higgins replies; "today it's oil, tomorrow it's food." Condor goes to the New York Times with the entire story. Higgins goes on to say; "you have done more damage than you know." Condor responds; "I hope so." The backdrop for a few scenes in the movie is the twin towers. Life does imitate art; I can see Dick Cheney now shuttling back and forth between the White House and CIA Headquarters to gin up an excuse to invade Iraq. Cheney was busy dodging the draft when the movie first came out, but I suppose he saw it and said to himself; "I think I'm going to grow up and do that some day." He did; and a lot of Americans and Iraqis are dead because of his evil.


Monday, May 11, 2009

Dick Cheney Behind the Next Terrorist Attack?

That's right; Dick Cheney's story is as sturdy as a house of cards. You think that he would disappear into retirement and do his best to lay low. Not Dick Cheney! He claims to be speaking out because of love of country, but we all know that he's speaking out because of love of Dick Cheney. Let's not forget; this guy along with Bush ignored the pre-911 warnings and failed to keep America safe before.

I'm going to be 60 years old at my next birthday, and in my years on the planet, no American has been as dangerous to America as this pathetic draft dodging, gun totting, trigger loving mouthpiece of idiocy. Not even shooting a lawyer in the face can silence this embarrassment to democracy and free speech.

Hell, we all believe in free speech and that means even Cheney is entitled to have his say. He is not entitled to claim the high ground of freedom. He is not entitled to claim patriotism above and beyond any Democrat or Republican for that matter. Cheney is not entitled to be the consummate spokesperson for the Bush administration. Cheney is not entitled to shine the shoes of Colin Powell or Barack Obama. Cheney is not entitled to offer opinion on foreign policy as he screwed up everything he's touched. Cheney is not, nor ever has been a reliable source of information for the American people. Cheney is dangerous because he is exhibiting the signs of a sick man. Sick people can do horrible things in this world and this begs the question; why the hell is Dick Cheney laying the groundwork for another terrorist attack on the U.S.? Why the hell is Dick Cheney so adamant about what he sees as failures of the Obama administration?

Here's a conspiracy theory for you; if the U.S. gets attacked, Dick Cheney is behind it because he is really a sick man. Cheney is hoping and praying every night for another attack against this country because he seeks vindication. This sounds like a pretty good motive to commit a crime. Cheney and Limbaugh are both well known traitors to this country and they are both working towards the day when they can say; "I told you so". They both admit that they want Barack Obama to fail. While Limbaugh is all gas, Cheney may have more substance behind his hatred for Obama. How far will this ink blot on American history go to try and prove a point? Did he look the other way when faced with threats against this country prior to 911 in order to achieve a hidden agenda? Maybe!

Well, now I may be able to say; "I told you so". If there is another attack; Dick Cheney is behind it with a few of his rouge CIA friends. After all, what other justification could be behind Dick Cheney's game? Eric Holder; do your job and seek prosecution against this man that has betrayed his country through numerous illegal acts and continues to betray his country. If I were Dick Cheney, I would be praying that this country is never hit again; because if it ever is, there are going to be a lot of people pointing their finger at you!!


Saturday, May 9, 2009

Wisdom from the Woods VIII

Wisdom from the Woods is an occasional column that outlines complex issues.

Today's image is a picture of a vapor trail streaking across the sky, dissecting the White Pine canopy. The picture offers two separate realities, yet they are both connected.

Today I want to say a few words about the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (Gitmo). While the Obama administration struggles with finding a solution to closing the notorious prison, our enemies are concluding that Obama is no better than his predecessor. From our enemies point of view, I guess I would expect that in any case.

Gitmo at one point housed almost 500 prisoners while today the population stands at approximately 245. Many politicians have expressed concern about housing these prisoners in the United States; Why? These prisoners are ultimately our responsibility. Are they dangerous? Yes; but no more dangerous than many murderers in the prison population today.

Why not get the trials over, sentence every prisoner and ship them off to prisons throughout the United States. The only limitation should be that no prison should have to house more than one of these terrorists. Split these criminals up so that they have no kindred spirits close by. There are currently 1,200 state run prisons in the United States and there are 98 Federal prisons available. After these criminals serve their 30 year sentence, deport them.

After all, the United States is famous for it's Gulags. There is no country on earth that has a higher prison population. We like to lock people up for just about anything. Heck, our prison industries have to survive too. The vast majority of our prisons are filled with drug related cases that the rest of the world handles quite differently.

In the United States, the sad story is that 1 in 140 citizens are currently behind bars. It is also estimated that 1 in 31 citizens are currently involved with the legal system in some way. We've never hesitated to lock people up for minor offenses such as pot smoking. Why all the concern about locking up our true enemies in U. S. prisons?

I think it's time to get on with the military tribunals, pronounce sentence and split these 245 prisoners between 245 prisons right here in the United States. It is our responsibility to close this chapter of the Bush administration; now.

By isolating each terrorist, they will be effectively cut off from each other and will be far less likely to plot into the future. Prison space; we have!!


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse Steps Up!

Rhode Island has something to be proud of at this point in time with the decision of Senator Sheldon Whitehouse to conduct torture hearings in Congress. It's hard to believe that Whitehouse had to be the point person for this egregious abuse of power during the Bush administration. Whitehouse, as Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts, has called for his first hearing on May 13.

I think it's unconscionable that Eric Holder has not taken some action in this regard and I'm disappointed in the Obama administration for not pursuing truth and justice. While I feel that a special prosecutor would be appropriate, I would not want to see a Ken Starr fiasco. We do not need a multi-million dollar witch hunt that in the end, proves nothing. We do need to find resolution on this issue because there needs to be a clear incentive to never let this happen again. We as Americans, can never allow the likes of Dick Cheney to grab the reigns of power again. I'm saying this; not because I have some affinity towards the enemy, but because I have affinity for Americans fighting for this country across the globe. Exposing the misdeeds and illegal acts of the Bush administration is the giant step that is necessary to ensure America's continuing leadership in the world, as well as a step towards protecting our own fighting men and women.

I do not know Sheldon Whitehouse, but I've not been happy with him at times while he served in state government here in Rhode Island. I always thought that the law suit he brought as Attorney General against the major paint companies for selling lead paint was a real stretch. In the end, Rhode Island spent untold millions to prosecute a case that was overturned by the State Supreme Court. I thought that years of wasted financial resources was going to be his legacy to all Rhode Islanders. Additionally, I could never understand how any person could work so close to former Governor Bruce Sundlun for as long as Sheldon did. Sundlun was the most arrogant leader for Rhode Island in history. Carcieri is not arrogant in the same way as Bruce, he is just totally void of leadership ability. I always thought that Sheldon needed to, "man up", and tell Bruce Sundlun to "go pound sand." Maybe he did and we just didn't see it.

Well; Sheldon, I guess I have to say that you just, "manned up". My only fear at this point is that years go by, millions are spent, and in the end there is no justice. You can't let that happen this time. Dot the i's and cross all of the t's; and get it right. This country needs to come to terms with this era of lost patriotism.

For any friends in the Sociopath Party that think this direction is dangerous for the country; you are wrong; dead wrong! The most dangerous path for this country is to not move to correct Bush administration lawlessness. It's just unfortunate that a rookie U.S. Senator has to become the face of justice. I'm ashamed of those that have not, "manned up". To those Republicans and Democrats that seek truth; thank you!


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Random Reasoning's XII

  1. Last week's poll posed the question; In Obama's first 100 days, has his administration taken the right steps to improve the economy? Yes; 71%, Maybe; 24%, No; 5%.
  2. Last week's challenge to readers has ended and it partially stumped readers. You can see the full results if you track back to the April 25, 2009 post. The challenge listed 12 prominent Democrats, 12 prominent Republicans and 12 prominent pundits. Readers were asked to put a number on the years of military service (in aggregate) for each group. The results; Democrats; 46 years, Republicans; 0 years, and Pundits; 0 years.
  3. I have a new name for General Motors. From now on, GM should be known as General Morons.
  4. Have you read where U.S. troops in Afghanistan have an organized proselytizing movement and are trying to convert Muslims to Christianity. Message to the Christian world: This is not what we are in Afghanistan for. This activity will undermine U.S. efforts and any military personnel involved in this effort needs to be severely disciplined and removed from that country.
  5. Did you hear Mitch McConnell speaking about Arlen Specter switching to the Democratic Party? Quote (4/28/2009): "This is not a national story, this is a Pennsylvania story" He goes on to say this about Specter's switch; "This is a threat to the country". Huh!! Know what you're saying before you say it. When you leave the Senate, you're qualified to take a job at General Morons.
  6. On a recently aired Andy Griffith episode, Helen Krump says the following to her class; "Every morning we come into class and say the Pledge of Allegiance. I don't think you kids know what that means." My question is this; was Rick Perry, Governor of Texas in her class?
  7. Can we see Lady Justice's breasts now that John Ashcroft is long gone from Washington DC?
  8. Republicans supporting torture is sort of like Republicans supporting any kind of assault. they are both crimes. Has the Republican Party become the Sociopath Party?
  9. How can anyone invest in the stock market again when they know damn well that Wall Street executives are going to be stealing their money. If the last year was not a wake up call to Wall Street, then what will this country look like when they do wake up?
  10. Each year throughout the country, resorts hire foreign workers to cater to vacationing crowds. Historically, Jamaicans filled many of these jobs until the Bush administration started denying visas. In their place, resorts turned to Ukrainians that were allowed visas. Now I ask you; is it more likely that a dirty bomb enter this country from Jamaica or the Ukraine? Don't worry now; Bush and Chaney were keeping us safe you know!
  11. I knew John Edwards was a loser when I read about his $400 haircut. It was only a matter of time before we hear about an affair.
  12. Seems like the conservative Supreme Court wants to take up challenges to the Voting Rights Act. Apparently, some justices feel that the Act hasn't kept up with the times. The Act is the law of the land that has been fully supported by previous courts. I'm so glad that conservatives never try to write the law with the courts, or am I mistaken?
  13. Michelle Bachmann is a bad joke. Is she a bigger joke than Sarah Palin?
  14. Where the hell is Al Franken?


Monday, May 4, 2009

39 Years Ago

Today I'm thinking about 4 students that were killed at Kent State University and the 58,000+ U.S. soldiers that gave their lives for an ill-defined cause in Vietnam. May 4, 1970 is forever etched in my memory and was the day that my politics changed.

The senseless murder of college students was orchestrated by the Nixon administration; and while there was a trial for National Guard troops involved in the massacre many years after the incident, they were found not guilty.

People should take a moment and reflect on those days today. You can click on any links below to see some history of this tragic event. That's all I'm going to say!



Saturday, May 2, 2009

U.S. Automakers Taking Different Roads

Why don't I follow my own advice? If you track back to an earlier post (February 21, 2009), you can read about my feelings on that date regarding the troubles being experienced by the United States automakers. At that time, I discussed the big three and concluded that Ford Motor Company was the best bet into the future.

I'm not a financial wizard; but I told readers that if I had to lay my money down, I would put it on Ford. Here we are a couple of months later and the share price has gone from $1.85 when I wrote the article, to a close yesterday at $5.69 per share. In the meantime, GM and Chrysler continue towards some form of bankruptcy, even with the help of the government.

Yesterday, we learn that Ford has outsold Toyota for the month of April because of the growing interest in its Ford Fusion hybrid automobile. While sales were way down from last year, Ford captured 16% of the existing market for the month.

GM continues to wallow in stupidity. GM cars fell more sharply than its trucks; and as reported in the Associated Press story, GM "goes against the Federal goal of selling smaller, cleaner cars." The definition of disaster is General Motors. Evidently, a forced change at the top has made no difference in steering the company into a road to the future.

I think it is a huge mistake for the Obama administration to offer GM, one more penny. While there is validity in trying to protect our prior investment, I just don't think that the team at GM knows how to make wise decisions. Casting aside their Pontiac division is going to be a devastating blow to the company. Pontiac was their 3rd best selling brand. What's more important is that they had many models, like the Pontiac G6 that was affordable, gasoline efficient, and stylish. Pontiac had its own followers throughout the country as Pontiac car clubs are found throughout the United States. I don't think there is a Buick car club to be found (I have not researched this). I happened to stay at a hotel one day in the Midwest that was hosting a Pontiac Grand Prix convention. The parking lot was quite a site. I actually traveled their in my own Grand Prix having no knowledge of the convention. Needless to say, I fit right in.

I have owned a number of Pontiac Grand Prixs and the mileage on these models was a respectable 26 MPG. The Pontiac G6 was rated at 30 MPG. My Pontiac Vibe (4 wheel drive model) is rated at 31 MPG and I had a Pontiac Bonneville that gave me 24 MPG.

In a recent article on GM, it was reported that their Pontiac brand was the best selling GM product among young people. If GM is going to market towards the middle-aged and elderly population, they will be out of business in a very short time. I think they should have been forced into a structured bankruptcy and the company split into 4 separate companies. Maybe then they could have found one executive that knows how to run a car company.

I guess I've bought my last Pontiac!!