Saturday, November 8, 2008

Great. Now GM has its hand out

Well, this was predictable -- the federal government agrees to spend $700 billion bailing out the mortgage industry, and we've got more business lined up with their hands out.

It's enough to make one sick.

One of the latest beggars, of course, is General Motors. Yes, GM is broke and is crying for a handout.

The government should say "hell no" to GM, just like it should have refused to spend a dime bailing out mortgage lenders who were struggling. Blowing $700 billion of borrowed money (a good chunk of it provided through bonds bought by the red Chinese, by the way) was a terrible idea and it appears that move set a precedent.

Apparently, it's now just fine for businesses that can't cut it in the free market to ask for help from the government. And, yes, I know that the mortgage industry can make a bit of a case, seeing how they got in trouble due to some goodie-goodie efforts on the part of the feds to make sure everyone who wanted a mortgage got one regardless of whether they could pay them back or not.

Still, companies that can't compete deserve to perish. And GM officials have proven that they are too stupid to compete in the auto industry.

Let's go back a few years ago when it was obvious that gas prices were on the rise and wouldn't be coming down soon. You'll notice that Honda and Toyota both invested heavily in hybrid vehicles and worked on low gas mileage throughout their fleets.

What did GM do? Spent more on advertising for the blasted Hummer and can kept cranking out SUVs like there was no tomorrow. The only time GM really started thinking about fuel efficiency was when it was too late -- other manufacturers had a leg up in the market as they arrived first and established their brands.

GM is in trouble due to its own lack of foresight. The company deserves absolutely nothing from the feds, and when did it become the government's job to bail out companies that are too stupid to compete? What the hell is going on here? Is Matthew Lesko secretly running the government and handing out cash to anyone who asks for it?

Apparently, it became the government's job to engage in that kind of nonsense as soon as the Republican party got rid of most of its conservative members and started spending money like Democrats.

You want to know the problem with government these days? There are few Republicans left who knows what a conservative is and does. Yes, the Republicans of the past would be raising hell about this. It's a pity that fiscal responsibility has gone out the window.

It would be unfortunate, of course, for the autoworkers who rely on GM for a paycheck if the company went broke and filed for bankruptcy. That's too bad for a couple of reasons. First, they'll be out of a job. Second, they work for a company run by idiots who will, no doubt, be just fine even if they run GM into the ground and the company ceases to exist.

They might not have to worry too much, though. Japanese car manufacturers seem to be building plants in the U.S. and hiring like crazy these days. They're reaping the rewards of keeping an eye on the market and adapting to changing conditions. American auto companies used to do that. What a pity it is, then, that they're reduced to begging for handouts.

Want to read more about fiscal irresponsibility? Make sure to check out my take on why the lottery is a bad idea for Arkansas by clicking right here.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Why the Republican party is a mess and how to fix it

Anyone in the United States who has paying attention knows what happened on Nov. 4 -- the Republican party took a flat beating.

Yes, the Republicans lost the presidency and lost seats in the House and Senate. Ah, but it didn't stop at the national level. Republicans in state legislatures, county and city elections throughout the country took a whipping.

And the Republican party deserved exactly what it got.

That's a hard thing to admit as I've affiliated myself with that party since I first saw Ronald Reagan speak in St. Louis in 1980 when I was 11-years-old. My admiration of Reagan grew when I saw him speak in Little Rock in 1984.

Sadly, the party that Reagan reinvigorated back then is weak and woefully out of touch with voters. The party has no focus and its candidates seem uncertain of what, exactly, they do believe. How did we get here from there?

The answer is pretty simple -- the Republican Party has turned its back on the core values that made the party so relevant. And that's a shame as those values -- those ideas -- are the very things that won votes.

At this point in time, it's hard to even define what a Republican is anymore. The thrashing the party took, then, can be viewed as an opportunity. It's time for we Republicans to take a good, hard look at ourselves, figure out what went wrong and what needs to be done to fix it.

Here are a few suggestions:

1. The Democrats won and they got their ObamaNation (heh, heh!) Accept it. In other words, don't run around acting like Democrats for the next four years. Sniveling whiners are irritating, and doubly so when they're crying because their side didn't win an election. Remember what happened almost immediately after Bush won in 2000? Yes, quite a few Democrats moped around claiming that "Bush wasn't their president" and they complained for four years.

When John Kerry was running in 2004, we had Democrats threatening to move to Canada and some of them committed suicide after Bush was declared the winner of that election. Instead of moving to Canada, the Democrats who made that threat chose the option we all knew they would -- staying put and griping for another four years.

Folks, this is a democracy. That means your side won't always win. And, guess what? That's just part of being an American and thank God for that. We want two parties competing for votes. Hopefully, we all understand that one-party governments tend to establish such lovely things as terror filled police states and use the military to crush any opposition. So, losing an election isn't that bad when considered in that context.

We don't have to like Obama being in office, but we don't have to go around outraged and looking like we're sucking on a lemon for the next four years, either. We don't need to hate our government, pout and hope for a rotten economy or war casualties because our candidate didn't get in office.

Besides, there are actually some good things that came out of this election. First of all, more whites voted for Obama than for Clinton back in 1992 or 1996. That's what we call progress on racial issues. Second, Obama reaffirms that anyone with drive and talent can become president. Here was a fellow with a troubled background (abandoned by his father early in life, raised by his grandparents since he was 10-years-old) and he overcame all of that to become president. Third, we're rid of Bush. Everyone should be thrilled that egg sucking bastard is just about out of the White House.

By the way, feel free to remind those Democrats who say it is now time to get behind our president and work out our problems together of what rotten sports they were during the Bush presidency. That'll make for a few minutes of fun at the very least.

2. Conservative ideas win votes. It's time to relearn what those are. One of the major problems of the Republican party is that conservatives aren't in charge anymore. What's the difference between a tax-and-spend Democrat and a borrow-and-spend Republican? Not a whole lot. Both expand the size of government and Republicans ought to fight against that. The fact that a Republican president and a Republican senator who wanted to be president pushed for a $700 billion bailout for the mortgage industry is sickening (particularly when you consider the blasted red Chinese are among the huge investors who bought the bonds allowing for that bailout).

Going back to core values such as low taxes, a small federal government, adherence to the 10th Amendment (remember that one? It's the one that reserves those powers to the states that are not expressly granted to the federal government) and an emphasis on individual liberties are the types of issues that inspire people. Republicans should also remind people that the Constitution was conceived as a way to defend citizens from the government and, as such, is to be interpreted strictly. If the feds want more power and its not granted under the Constitution, it's time to go through the amendment process, right?

If we did have a Republican in office who did support the notion the Constitution protected citizens from the government and that individual liberties are precious, would we have to contend with junk like the Patriot Act? If you think that piece of legislation was a good idea, ask yourself this -- you may trust the Bush administration with the ability to collect information on American citizens, but do you trust Obama? Keeping the kind of power afforded the government under the Patriot Act is the very type of thing that small-government conservatives should fight.

Also, party-wide support of a non-interventionist foreign policy is something else people will rally behind. What's a non-interventionist foreign policy? One that encourages friendly relations and free trade with nations and reserves military action for those times when our nation is clearly in peril. Folks, war is expensive and we get our soldiers killed. It's not to be taken lightly and should only been used when there is a clear threat to vital national interests.

Don't think I'm talking just about Iraq here, kids. I'm talking about Bill Clinton's little jaunt in Bosnia, too. When a threat to the U.S. is clearly defined, the nation should gear up to crush it swiftly and without mercy. If that threat is vague, then our military ought to stay home.

3. Identify those issues that are important and address them. Do you think the average voter really gives a damn about abortion? No, they're mostly worried right now about finding jobs or keeping the ones they have. They're worried about their retirement portfolios and our dependence on foreign oil.

Why, then, does the Republican Party spend so much time addressing issues like abortion? Does that mean it's not an important issue? No. But it does mean voters have more pressing issues in mind. Identify those issues, focus on them and come up with some specific, realistic ways to deal with them.

People want to vote for someone rather than against someone, right? A solid candidate can present those ideas that will excite voters and get them behind him. Why did Obama beat Hillary Clinton in the primaries and McCain in the election? His supporters voted for him, while a lot of us Republicans were simply voting against Obama. Obama's supporters were energetic and enthusiastic, but the same can't be said of a lot of us who were voting for McCain.

4. Credibility is important. Both major political parties rely on making promises they don't intend to keep. Bill Clinton, for example, promised a middle-class tax cut back in 1992 as a way of convincing people to vote for him. After getting in office, his toadies were running around claiming he never made that promise at all.

Republicans can't really condemn Clinton because our candidates are out doing the same thing. Let's take a look at Mike Huckabee, for example. Before he ran in the Republican primary, of course, he was governor of Arkansas.

Prior to his last term, he pushed for the elimination on the sales tax on food in Arkansas. That got people excited and the popularity of that notion helped win him another term as governor here.

Shortly after he was elected, he decided to campaign against an initiative to get rid of the sales tax on food (he said we just couldn't afford it -- knowledge he certainly had even while pushing for it). It is pitiful when our candidates engage in such behavior. If a Republican candidate makes a promise, he'd better be ready to make good on it.

5. Get rid of the bums. There's been some talk about Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee being the future of the Republican Party. No. God no. Hell no!

We've had two Bushes in office so far and they both sucked. We don't need a third. Huckabee, meanwhile, spends money like a Democrat and just isn't trustworthy.

The party needs to be led by conservatives and truthful ones, at that.

6. Don't be afraid of third parties. Should the Republican Party refuse to return to those core values and continue down the path of catering to corporate interests, policing the planet, spending money like drunken sailors on shore leave and virtually ignoring the needs of the middle class, it's not a party worth supporting.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wordless Wednesday -- The Ramones!

Dig everyone's favorite teetotaler and Reaganite, Johnny Ramone, banging those wicked barre chords out of his Mosrite Ventures II!

Make sure to visit the other Wordless Wednesday entries (or submit something of your own) by clicking right here.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Hawg gets a response from IHOP

A couple of days ago, I sent a note to IHOP asking them to bring back that fantastic boysenberry syrup.

I grew up with boysenberry syrup and have been dismayed because my IHOP here in Benton, Ark., no longer carries the stuff. Yes, choking down a stack of pancakes with common maple syrup, butter pecan (which is just nasty), blueberry or strawberry just isn't the same.

IHOP e-mailed a reply to me earlier today. Here's a copy of it:

Dear Mr. Nobles:

Thank you for taking the time to contact IHOP. Boysenberry syrup is an available option at our restaurants. Most IHOP Restaurants are franchised by individual business owners. We strive to balance the consistency of a national chain with the flexibility of allowing our franchise owners to customize the menu to meet the needs of their customer base.

To do this, we require all restaurants across the county [sic] to offer a core menu of items. The restaurants are also able to add to their menu any approved optional items. We suggest that you contact the franchise owner or general manager of the IHOP you frequent and let them know of your desire for Boysenberry syrup on the menu.

Thank you for your interest and thank you for your patronage.


Don Miller
Guest Services Representative
IHOP Restaurant Support Center

That note tells me a couple of things. First of all, IHOP has some great public relations in place. Second, I need to go pester the manager of my local IHOP.

It's always good to have a cause.


Like a lot of Americans, I've been watching election returns tonight. Now we've got to put up with Barack Obama and his crap for four years. It was pretty clear months ago that whoever won this thing would be a lowdown, filthy bastard. It appears that the lowdown, filthy bastard the Democrats picked won this time around.

The fact that America has sunk so low that our choices boiled down essentially to Obama or John McCain ought to be enough to make anyone paying attention absolutely sick.

I'm not going to talk about that. What I will talk about is that the Republican party, which I've supported for 20 years, is a mess. How bad is it? The party should have easily slapped down a goofy leftist like Obama. The party is losing seats in Congress and appears extremely weak right now.

Here in Arkansas, we had races for all four seats in the House of Representatives and one seat in the Senate. Three of the House seats are held by Democrats and the Republicans didn't bother to field candidates (the Green Party ran for two of them and one went uncontested). The Senate seat, also held by a Democrat, also drew opposition from only the Green Party.

What the hell is going on here? The Republicans aren't even bothering to field candidates for Congressional seats? Pitiful.

I'm convinced, now more than ever, that it's about time for some strong third parties to arise. The Republicans have abandoned those of us who are fiscally conservative and socially moderate -- the clods that George W. Bush surrounded himself with spend money like drunks on shore leave and tend to swing way right on social issues (many of which a lot of us don't give a damn about).

The Democrats, meanwhile, continue to trick the middle class into voting for them (anyone want to bet we'll see that promised tax cut? Clinton promised the same thing, too) and appear to be in love with what America should be than what it actually is or has been. If you think for a second that the sweeping (and expensive) changes the Democrats are howling for won't be achieved without robbing the middle class, you're living in a fool's paradise.

National health care, for example, isn't cheap and history have shown that such social programs fall on the shoulders of the middle class. We're not wealthy enough to buy the influence to keep the feds out of our pockets and we're not poor enough to pity in the least. In fact, we're little more to the federal government than a revenue source that is relatively defenseless. Unless you're rich enough to buy influence, poor enough to have no money or get paid in cash and keep your money in The First National Bank of Mason Jar, prepare to get robbed.

A good number of us, I suspect, want low taxes and to, essentially, be left alone. Neither party gives a damn about us and they haven't for some time.

Both of these parties are, quite simply, obsolete in that neither represents a sizable majority of the country. Scrap them both. It's time they both went the way of the Federalists and the Whigs. Both parties should have been tossed in the trash at the turn of the century.

Meanwhile, Arkansas voters have approved a lottery amendment and the folks on ABC mentioned that people in Kenya are thrilled by the prospect of Obama being president of the U.S. Things just keep getting worse.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Hawg avoids picking a fight

Here is a photo of my seven-year-old daughter, Brenda.

Brenda told my wife something today that made me seriously consider going to my daughter's school and raising hell with someone.

Now, I won't mention the school or the particular teacher at issue as I've learned something over the past couple of weeks. After getting called in to visit with my boss a couple of times due to some complaints that had been lodged about things I've written, I've concluded that the quickest way to get people to read this blog is to give them something to gripe about.

Ordinarily, that's fine with me. However, I've decided that work and anything that could come back on one of my children is taboo.

So what got me riled up about my daughter's school? They've got a mock presidential election in the morning and Brenda's teacher was extolling the virtues of Barack Obama. I don't pay taxes so my kids can get indoctrinated.

I was making plans to wander down to the school in the morning and yell at someone, but I figured that would do more harm than good.

Now, I know some of you are thinking, "Oh, come on, The Hawg. You're only mad because that teacher didn't endorse John McCain."

Nope. I'm firmly opposed to my daughter's teachers pushing any of their politics on my children. Those institutions are in place to teach kids how to think and not what to think. My kids will figure out their political ideas when they mature, do some research and figure out what views appeal to them. I'd rather not see that maturation process tainted by a bunch of teachers who are convinced they're right and want to pass their revelations on to my kids.

Furthermore, I'd rather avoid the herd mentality which seems to influence most voters these days. If those kids get knocked in line early, how much more difficult will it be for them to think for themselves when they're adults?

I don't want teachers pushing their political views on my children any more than I want them pushing their religious views on them (we're Methodists in an area dominated by Baptists, after all). The same goes for abortion, the death penalty and most things that kids ought not be bothered with.

Besides, I don't much trust the schools here, either. When my son was in the second grade, my son's teacher and the principal of his school decided that he was suffering from ADHD and needed to be put on Ritilin. It turns out that an alarming number of kids in that school were on Ritilin and I got into a spat with my son's teacher when I told her that there was no way in hell I was letting them drug my kid.

Now, Ritilin is definitely needed in some cases, but I do believe it's been overused. My son's main problem was that he was bored. Yes, schools teach to the slowest kids in class these days, and my kid would get his work done early. He was just plain bored and decided to act out (not much of a surprise when we're talking about small children, is it?)

My son is in the sixth grade now, he gets all A's and B's and is still suffering from boredom. His behavior is improving, however, as teachers have learned to give him more work to do to keep him busy

The folks who are running schools these days are coming up with some screwy ideas, see? I'll be damned if I'll let them get away with imposing them on my kids.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Where the heck is my boysenberry syrup?

There are times when it's time to stand up, look the kaiser straight in the monocle and say, "Nien!"

And, yes, I'm aware I stole that line from Mr. Burns on The Simpsons.

Folks, this is one of those times. For about a year now, I've been missing IHOP's boysenberry syrup. Yes, IHOP has removed the iconic boysenberry syrup from their tables.

I've been waiting for it to come back, but I'm afraid it's all in vain. I do ask about it from time to time and get the same response from the waitresses at the IHOP here in Benton, Ark. -- the restaurant chain has removed boysenberry syrup and it's not coming back. Ever.

Your good friend, The Hawg, can take a lot of things. Oh, I can stand my beloved Benton Panthers struggling away and can even tolerate the Arkansas Razorbacks playing like absolute garbage.

But choking down a stack of pancakes covered with some miserable trash like plain old maple syrup, that nasty butter pecan, blueberry or even strawberry is simply more than I can take. An IHOP pancake without wonderful, wonderful boysenberry syrup is like a dog without fur or a bicycle without a chain. It's just plain wrong. WRONG!

However, we still live in a consumer-driven economy and, as such, we have the power to change the minds of those people at IHOP who decided to cruelly do away with that wonderful boysenberry syrup. Yes, people -- you and I don't have to sit back and let this happen.

"But, The Hawg. I, too, am upset about IHOP's cruel actions. Maple is far too common and that butter pecan is just nasty. What can I do about it? I'm only one person?"

What can you do? Let IHOP know how you feel! Just click right here, pick the appropriate area of IHOP to send an e-mail to and fill out the form. Here's a copy of the e-mail I sent mere moments ago:

"I've been patiently waiting for about a year for IHOP to wise up and bring back that fantastic, iconic boysenberry syrup. Where's my boysenberry? If I have to choke down another stack of pancakes covered with common maple, blueberry, strawberry or that wretched butter pecan, I may lose my mind.

Besides, it's just sad that we're on the verge of raising an entire generation that won't get to experience the joys of boysenberry. That's a shame, folks. A true shame.

Please bring back boysenberry. Do it for my sanity. Do it for the children."

Ah, yeah! That ought to get some response, huh?

I hope everyone reading this will join me in asking IHOP to bring back boysenberry. Together, we can make a difference.