Thursday, December 11, 2008

Unions and Republicans kill auto bailout?

Just when you think the country is going straight to hell, something happens to make me think maybe things will work out OK.

Tonight, that moronic $14 billion bailout plan for the inept U.S. auto manufacturers died in the Senate. Why? A few Republicans acted almost like conservatives for a change and officials from the United Auto Workers union (UAW) acted like the pigheaded, reality ignoring fools they are.

As we all know by now the U.S. auto industry is in trouble due to a combination of things. The Japanese are stomping Chrysler, Ford and General Motors into the ground by resorting to a remarkably unfair tactic -- building cars that people actually want to buy.

Of course, those technologically, gas guzzling piles of junk that are rolling out of Detroit are built by an incredibly overpaid labor force, thus making things even more difficult for American car makers. It seems the bailout was killed by Republicans who demanded that the UAW agree to cut salaries so they're in line with what American autoworkers working for Japanese companies make.

The union, of course, refused and the pro-bailout crowd couldn't find enough votes to ship $14 billion to an undeserving industry. That's pretty much the correct result. I do wish the bailout for the financial industry would have met with such opposition, but that's all water under the bridge (a bridge that was probably also paid for with money borrowed from China and Japan, by the way).

A few things about this whole episode bother the heck out of me. For one thing, the issue that killed this nonsense in the Senate came about because a bunch of Republicans wanted labor costs cut. It should have been killed out of the gate because governments simply don't go around bailing out rotten companies in a capitalist economy (assuming we still are capitalists, of course) and then nationalizing them. Without the stubbornness of the unions, it seems that bailout might have passed the Senate -- there simply aren't enough free market conservatives left to generate the support to block anything for purely economic reasons.

For another, we've still got George W. Bush and his filthy cronies to consider. Apparently, pushing for this bailout is part of Bush's master plan to completely piss on conservative ideals before he's sent back to Texas. A conservative president would have lobbied hard against any talk of bailouts, but Bush has proven time and time again that he has no problem with letting the government fool around in the free market.

I'd love to see this bailout die for good so that our incompetent auto manufacturers would be forced to reorganize under Chapter 11, renegotiate their ridiculous labor contracts and be under the gun to design some innovative vehicles in order to compete with the superior automobiles produced by the likes of Honda and Toyota.

However, I doubt anyone will be shocked if the Bush administration rides in to rescue a bailout that any Republican worth his salt ought to oppose.

Update -- Arkansas Senator has the right idea

According to this story from, Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln said she voted against the auto bailout plan because the bill would have committed more taxpayer money to a failed business plan. Good for her. I'm glad I keep voting for Lincoln.

Lincoln, a Democrat, usually does a very good job of representing her constituents, and she's lived up to her reputation here as someone who considers her vote rather than just doing what her party tells her.

That's in direct opposition to our other senator, Mark Pryor. Pryor, of course, voted for the bailout. But who really cares what Pryor does? He's an idiot and I'm embarrassed that he is affiliated with my state.

Update -- Bush is a bastard!

Well, according to this story, Bush may well raid the $700 billion bailout fund set aside for the financial industry and give it to the crybabies in the auto industry. Why the hell is that alleged Republican going out of his way to reward failure?

Companies that can't compete deserve to die and make way for businesses that can manufacture products that consumers want to buy. That's called capitalism. That's called giving the consumers the power to determine what products and services they want and how much they are willing to pay for them. That is the way the things ought to be.

That blasted $700 billion bailout for the financial industry and this latest nonsense has set a nasty precedent. Any industry that can't hack it can turn to the government and ask for money. They may get it, too.

Thanks, Georgie! You made me regret my decision to vote against both Al Gore and John Kerry. You've almost made me look forward to four years of Barack Obama because he can't possibly hate the free market more than you do. You suck, Bush, and you're nothing more than the Republican version of Jimmy Carter.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wordless Wednesday -- Happy Birthday, Brenda SueCarol!

My daughter, Brenda SueCarol, turns eight-years-old today (Dec. 10) at exactly 4:35 p.m. CST. My wife and I are amazed that she's growing up on us. Here are some "then and now" pictures of Brenda and me.

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

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The American auto industry won't get another dime from me

We all knew it would happen, but it's still depressing to read -- according to this Associate Press story, the idiots in Congress have agreed in principle to give $15 billion to the failures running the U.S. auto industry.

Imagine that. Who would have imagined that our fine members of the House and Senate wouldn't want the finger pointed at them when a lot of unionized workers were tossed out of work because they are employed by morons?

That's shocking stuff, huh? If you're surprised by that, you're probably amazed that alleged Republican George W. Bush is right in the middle of this nonsense. Rather than acknowledge that he's caused enough damage and sit at his desk with a stack of coloring books and a box of crayons, Bush is seeing just how much more he can screw up the country and annoy the five or six of us in the nation who are still conservatives.

Ah, how the mighty have fallen. A mere 50 years ago, America was home to an auto industry that manufactured the finest cars on the road. Now that industry is reduced to three companies that manufacture garbage and need help from the government to survive. It used to be that companies that couldn't compete died and were replaced by businesses that developed better products and services, but those days appear to have ended.

We officially prop up losers in the U.S. now. And, yes, Chrysler, GM and Ford are all run by losers who can't hack it in the 21st century. While those mean ol' Japanese were developing hybrid vehicles and boasting about fuel economy, the Big Three in Detroit were busily churning out vehicles that achieved the same gas mileage as fully loaded 18-wheelers and would barely fit in two car garages.

They all deserve to fail for their lack of foresight, inability to read market trends and failure to compete. They deserve to fail for not producing vehicles Americans actually want to buy, for using cheap materials for interiors and churning out garbage cars that squeak, rattle and break down like they've been on the road for a couple of decades when they're brand new. They deserve to fail for handing millions of dollars to incompetent managers and absolutely refusing to develop innovative products.

Oh, and the union leaders that helped inflate wages to ridiculous levels deserve to be smacked on their noses with a rolled up newspaper, too. Let's not forget that American auto manufacturers start off at a disadvantage due to labor that is both overpaid and unwilling to budge and inch when the companies they work for are struggling.

One of the worst things about this latest round of bailouts is that the government wants to establish a "car czar" to overhaul the car industry. That makes absolutely no sense. The government is good at two things -- wasting money and ruining things. What happens when you put the government in charge of a bunch of companies that already waste money and produce garbage? You'll get companies that are even more inefficient and produce vehicles that are even more scrapyard-ready than they are now.

The problem, of course, is that Americans will likely hate what the government-run car industry produces and won't buy the junk vehicles that barely move under their own power. I wouldn't be a bit surprised to see a bunch of tariffs put in place that will force us to buy the latest rust buckets coming out of Detroit.

Until the feds artificially inflate the cost of foreign cars (many of which are made in the U.S. by American labor, by the way), I'll stick with my Japanese cars. If I'm ever blessed with the income I want, I'll switch over to some German vehicles and ignore whatever the nationalized U.S. auto industry is doing.

During my lifetime, I've owned (or driven) two Oldsmobiles, two Chevrolets, a Saturn, a Subaru, a Mitsubishi and a Toyota. The Japanese cars lasted the longest and were refined and wonderful compared to their outdated, crude American counterparts. My wife wants a Toyota Highlander next year and I think she'll get one -- that vehicle just feels like it was made on another planet compared to the substandard competing vehicles slapped together in Detroit.

Besides, with the notion of tariffs lingering out there, it might be wise to grab something new next year and drive it until things return to normal.

Thank God some conservative Republicans (I didn't think there were any left) have raised a lot of hell about the $15 billion award for stupidity Congress wants to give the auto industry. I hope they manage to block this insanity, but I doubt that will happen. The government seems to have forgotten that competition and free trade made this nation an economic powerhouse once upon a time and I fear we're in for some rotten times, indeed.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Kim Komando is full of crap

Just yesterday I was reading this post on that dynamite Freaky Frugalite blog.

Rebecca over there was pointing out a column from Kim Komando in which the hack expressed her dislike for paid posting. I take exception to Komando's prattle for a number of reasons.

First of all, the post I mentioned is packed full of Google ads, a bunch of other ads and links inviting hapless visitors to advertise on her site. Apparently, in Komando's world, selling ad space to the highest bidder is just fine.

Well, it's fine as long as you're not taking money to write a bit of an advertorial for something, of course. Phooey on that.

Hey, I avoided paid posts for some time until I discovered they were a way to make some easy money. I signed up for an account at Blogvertise and have been happily making money since then. I don't feel a bit bad about it, either.

Why? Advertising is common as sin on blogs. I figure, then, there's nothing wrong with finding something that makes money for us. Some people sign up with, say, Google Ads and have found great success with that service.

More power to them. Google Ads haven't worked worth a damn for me as those targeted ads work out horribly for me. If I gripe about lawyers, I wind up with a bunch of ads for area shysters. If I call Barack Obama a goon, I get targeted ads selling commemorative coins with his likeness on them. If I mention the American car industry deserves to fail because they produce garbage, ads pop up sending visitors to the Hummer Internet site.

Komando seems to approve of Google Ads (God knows she uses enough of them on her site), but hates paid posts. Shut the hell up, Kim. Your site is swimming in ads so you've got absolutely no room to talk.

Besides, have you ever listened to Komando's radio show? It's full of advice that anyone with access to a search engine can find. She's all about marketing and her radio shows comes across as a blasted infomercial. At least people can scroll right through my paid posts, whereas anyone listening to Komando's show has to put up with plug after plug for whatever crap she's selling.

Enough of that.

Something that really does bother me about blogs

Of course, everyone has something that annoys the hell out of them about blogs. In my case, I'm sick to death of java script. A little java script is fine, but some folks out there obviously subscribe to the idea that there's nothing wrong with overkill.

The latest annoying thing out there is illustrated by the photo I posted in this section. You've got some dancing guy that seems to slow down both my Firefox and Google Chrome browsers whenever he appears. I don't know what it is about that particular animated GIF, but my system absolutely hates it (and I don't have a bad computer -- 64 bit with plenty of RAM under the hood).

Clicking on that dancing fool will lead you to yet another social networking site. I'm not going to mention the site because I don't want to give them any free publicity. You'll see that dancing idiot pop up regularly, however, so look around a bit if you want to see what he's selling.

My blog isn't the fastest loading thing in the world, of course, but I have tried to speed it up by getting rid of the stuff that makes my site load too slowly. I hope to attract visitors rather than drive them off because they're annoyed.

Again, there's nothing wrong with a script here and there, but I can't help but wonder whether people actually take the time to see how quickly their sites load. If they did, I have a feeling we'd see a lot fewer dancing goofs, widgets that tell us where visitors are coming from, revolving content clouds and other things that just slow browsers down to a crawl.