It’s The Fast Lane, Stupid

If we could just keep the liberals out of the left lane so that better drivers in faster cars could pass, the world would be better.

 

Here is a clue, liberals: Your Echo CAN do 85 on a flat road, but when it hits a two-lane up-hill passing lane, you have no passing power left so you pass trucks like a snail – holding up powerful cars with “legs.”

 

The signs that say, SLOWER TRAFFIC KEEP RIGHT applies to your Prius! (Sentra, Echo, Prius, Civic, etc.)

 

I wish we had those signs we had in California 50 years ago that said: IF YOU ARE BEING PASSED ON THE RIGHT, YOU ARE WRONG.

 

I’m sorry, but putt-putts were designed for gas mileage, not power — so please stay in the slow lane and enjoy your smugness of saving fuel, or the planet, or whatever it is that floats your boat, and stop impinging on my right to maintain my speed while passing.

 

I just came back from Tehachapi for the Thanksgiving Holiday, and the new “Green” cars are just frustrating on the road — they may save gas but they are powered by Briggs and Stratton and their only saving grace is good gas mileage.

 

 

 

 

 

The Problem With Detroit

The quality problems in Detroit are summarized by the following 2008 remarks by the JD Power Quality analysis:

(Quote) For a third consecutive year, Porsche tops the overall nameplate rankings, averaging 87 PP100. Following in the rankings are Infiniti (which improves from 9th rank position in 2007), Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and Toyota, respectively. Audi posts the largest improvement in ranking, moving from 26th place in 2007 to 10th in 2008. 

“Porsche continues its steady improvement and has succeeded in distancing itself from the second-ranked nameplate to a greater degree in 2008—by a gap of 11 PP100—compared with 3 PP100 in 2007,” said Sargent. (UNQUOTE)

Notice the lack of a SINGLE American car, despite the fact that most of the “foreign” cars are made in America, by American workers.

Too Much Heat, Not Sufficient Light

Not everyone, anywhere differentiates themselves by issue.

 

There are Obamaacolytes who will find no fault with anything Obama ever says or does.

 

There are Bible Thumpers who believe every word of a book in which there are many questions and contradictions. My position is closer to that of Jefferson’s Bible, which cut and pasted the morals without the miracles and superstition.

 

There are those who believe everything they want in their particular philosophy is a “civil right,” and perhaps some day society will agree with several other countries that plants and animals have civil rights but I believe that the people should be the brake on such sweeping things through the ballot box. Convince them. A judicial oligarchy is as bad as any other type.

 

There are many positions from many people who claim conservative of liberal as a general world view, but who can never find fault with others of their same claimed position, even when there is disagreement — there is just silence.

 

I have no problem with liberals, conservatives or libertarians, just a major problem with intolerance for others views that rises to name calling. Just read any of today’s blogs in any newspaper – few facts, little light, an abundance of name calling, and a lot of it by “tolerant” people.

The Library Mavens Strike in Print

I see the Library Mavens United (LMU) have joined in the Defense of Libraries Movement.

 

(The LMU are differentiated from the Mass Transit Forever Group (MTFG) by their occasional letter writing campaigns, usually only to defend, as opposed to the MTFG who are in continual motion.. The LMU is also more female-oriented, and the MTFG is more European-centric.

 

In either case, they are a Special Interest Group (SIG), but they are a favorable SIG as opposed to unfavorable SIGs like “Big Oil” or Big Three Automobile, or even worse the Mobile Home Park Owners.

 

Face it! Libraries are the modern buggy-whip factories, and there are more than 700 tax-funded libraries in San Diego County because they are in EVERY SCHOOL! (O.K. – taxpayers pay for those, but taxpayers can’t use them!)

 

Libraries are a UAW-style Job Bank for otherwise unemployable college graduates; a free air-conditioned and heated private club with comfortable chairs and quiet for elderly magazine readers; and in urban areas, a homeless respite from police hassles.

 

Libraries are a Sacred Cow of immense proportions, and only the very brave dare take them on frontally because they enjoy great status and cache in our tradition, but…

 

Their time has passed because there are only 12 people left in America without access to the internet, and they share the same last name and the same bed. They live in Tennessee.

 

I love books/ I ordered three in the last month from Amazon.com and got them sooner than I could have driven to Borders, saved myself the gas and the insult to my system of buying the obligatory cappuccino, and felt better knowing that some single-mother working two jobs didn’t have to buy my book so I could read it.

No, You Can’t Imagine

Watching the National Geographic story of Blackbeard the Pirate reminded me that man’s inhumanity to man changes slowly, if at all.

 

From the Old Testament story of God-ordered mass murder and rape in Numbers 31, to pillage and rape throughout history (including the Crusades), mass unnecessary cruelty to others has been the norm, particularly in war.

 

Some in our society cannot differentiate between rape rooms or beheadings, and severe interrogations. They believe there is a moral equivalency between a beheading and waterboarding.

 

In the Blackbeard story as told by Blackbeards’ ship Captain after he was granted immunity, one disarmed and defeated man is stabbed to death as he lay prone on a deck and  Blackbeards own wife (the daughter of a North Carolina merchant, married when Blackbeard went “straight” for a brief period) is given to the crew for their pleasure when she lightly insults him ashore. She is never heard from again.

 

There is a bit of Walter Mitty in each of us and we imagine ourselves able to complete passes like Colt McCoy, or pilot a jet like Chuck Yeager, or drive a Ferrari like Lewis Hamilton. Reality is far, far different from our imagination as I discovered when I was once on the grid with the then world racing champion Stirling Moss. (I would have had a “driving lesson” if I had ever been close enough to see him!)

 

Sitting in Starbucks is not sufficient training for the blood lust and terror of battle, and this nation has been fortunately spared the widespread terror of battle on our shores for more than a century, but even at that there was a visceral reaction immediately after 9/11 that has palpably waned. (War is often worse for civilians who are not armed, armored or trained and are casual targets for both sides)

 

The highest fear factor most people face is their first driving test, but that is not nearly so high as a pilots test, and that is nothing compared to landing a plane, which is again nothing compared to racing a car or landing on a carrier at night, neither of which cannot even compare to close-in combat in any form.

 

Even though we have sanitized war to bombing from 14,000 feet, or launching intercontinental missiles, much of war still belongs to cold steel and hot lead.

 

It is highly personal, the province of screams and slow death, and not susceptible to the Geneva, or Washington, and certainly not to Starbucks or Blogs by those who have no more terror on their mind above a rapidly cooling cappuccino.

 

 

 

Hope for a REAL Change

O.K. it is dreaming, but just as Nixon alone could have made the opening to China or only Clinton could have made welfare reform work, only Obama could rein in union excesses in manufacturing, local government and education.

 

Three of the four problem areas of this recession were caused or exacerbated by union excesses, and the fourth was the banking industry.

 

If Obama wants to serve the nation and make a real change, this is one are in which only he ONLY he can score accomplishments.

 

Employee unions are bankrupting cities and states, the UAW has the Big Three auto industries by the throat, and the schools are run solely for the teachers unions and not the students. The fourth failure, the lending industry, was a combination of governmental egalitarian excess and human greed.

 

Obama has the clout to make progress in all of these areas, but by philosophy, education and genuflecting to his political supporters he is more  likely to exacerbate rather than help any of those situations.

 

Of course Democrats felt that way about Nixon addressing the China problem, and in fact Republicans never thought Clinton would embrace and then claim credit for welfare reform.

An Easy Detroit Plan

The auto industry is being pushed to come back to Congress with a “plan.”

 

It isn’t that hard because the model against which they must compete is a known quantity – American Toyota, you know, the “furrin’ car” that raced so competitively in the NASCAR Manufacturer’s Trophy this year.

 

Of course American Toyota is not foreign at all, or at least not most of them – they are built in foreign countries like Tennessee and Texas, and their quality is extremely high and their cost is extremely low, at least compared to their General Motors and Ford competitors.

 

Toyota, Nissan, VW, Mercedes et al were not in Washington with a tin cup. Toyota, Nissan, VW, Mercedes all use American labor in American plants, and they have exceeded American quality for lower cost for decades.

 

Any auto “executive” worth his expense account could put together in a single day a package to make Detroit Iron competitive. The move to sell two of the GM seven private jets is like a busload of attorneys going over a cliff, just a good start, and barely that.

 

For quality reasons, I have owned exactly one American Big Three car since 1957, and that was a Taurus SHO with a Yamaha-designed and built engine. The Big Three have vastly improved their quality over recent years, but the delta remains large, because the foreign makers have not sat by without also improving.

 

The problem is management without a clue as to their actual worth – and a UAW with exactly the same problem.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going Digital

The North County Times is laying off employees – joining the San Diego Union. The Los Angeles Times, the New York Times and a host of other newspapers, while the Christian Science Monitor (and PC Magazine) have announced that they are going “digital only.”

I have subscribed to the paid Wall Street Journal since it was inaugurated many years ago – because it was 1/3 the cost of the dampened paper delivered to my driveway. I also voluntarily send money to the Voiceofsandiego.com for their on-line newspaper, and I would happily “subscribe” to the North County Times.

For many/most newspapers, your subscription cost pays JUST for the delivery! Newspapers are important for us – but only for their news collection, not for their paper delivery.

What does need to be worked on is the on-line display – it SHOULD use Acrobat for display. (The SD Union provides this for only the first page, and it helps to have a 24 inch plus display.)

The New York Times has predicted that it will not have a paper delivery in a decade, but I suspect it will be sooner than that.

Luddites beware.

Whites of Their Eyes

The Obama team is relatively strong, so far.

 

Hillary for State was terrific, although she is less qualified than Richardson she makes a better European impression. Richardson would have been the best negotiator but he lacks the Clinton cache. Richardson is barely qualified at Commerce, but he is a quick study – as is Obama.

 

Lawrence Summers at the Economic Council is excellent, as is Tim Geithner  at Treasury.

 

The weakest  appointment is Eric Holter at AG, and indeed he may not survive the Senate grilling.

 

Let’s save the partisan attacks until we have something to attack – like a policy. Clinton’s first major mis-step was gays in the military. Bush’s first mis-step was steel tariffs. Every president gets his nose bloodied because they REALLY think they are “the decider.”

 

Reality bites soon enough, and Obama acolytes will carry him deeper into the administration with support than most presidents enjoy, but save your ammunition.

 

This will be a target rich environment, and you are well advised to concentrate on the most likely threat, who is most vulnerable, in priority.

 

That Obama’s rhetoric does not comport with his actions is not news, except to political neophytes.

Lobbyist’s Unite Under the Obama Banner

Campbell Brown was on Wolf Blitzer’s Sunday morning show, and said that despite Obama’s often-stated pledge to rid Washington of lobbyists, she has found 15 of those (or whose relations have a built-in conflict of interest) on his transition team, or appointments.

 

As Brown correctly noted, some of the most informed people in Washington are lobbyists, but that is NOT what Obama promised and she made that distinction.

 

There will be a lot of promises that Obama simply can’t keep — for which we should all be eternally thankful.