Includes thoughts and comments about energy needs, resources, conservation and their relationship to politics at home and around the world.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

2008 Draws to a Close

It certainly hasn't been the best of years for most of us. The economic crisis has deepened and could well reach Depression proportions before the new year comes to an end twelve months from now. American consumer confidence is down to almost floor level and nothing on the horizon seems likely to change it. About half of the money Congress approved last month to bailout the financial sector of the economy has been paid out and nobody knows what has improved because of it. The Federal Reserve continues to lower interest rates despite no indication it is helping to stop the downward spiral. GM and Chrysler are close to going under and are seeking money to tie them over to Spring but no one knows what is supposed to happen then. Ford says it has enough capital to enable them to avoid asking for money right now. The latter is the only good news for now.

Politics and Corruption

The country elected the first African-American President in November in the form of Barack Hussein Obama despite a cloud of uncertainty about his place of birth and the influence some of his past associates may have on him. The uncertainty started with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright and the list grew from there...Bomb Thrower Bill Ayers, Shady Dealer Tony Rezko, Father Pleger, Minister Farrakhan and moving up the list fast, Rod Blagojevich. The latter's contribution is yet to be exposed, but as one respected observer of the USA political scene reportedly said this morning, what has been revealed already is but a ripple, that there is much more to shock the citizenry in the days ahead.

2009 Outlook

The year ahead is not going to be the brightest for most of us, I'm afraid. With consumer confidence at an all time low, business is off in every field known to mankind and unemployment continuing to rise, gloom doom and dispair is rampant. Rather than risk a totally failed U.S. auto industry and businesses dependent on that industry, President Bush approved $15 billion in loans to GMC and Chrysler on the condition those corporations get their organizations back on a definable improvement track by March 31, 2009. Many are concerned that it's more money going after bad, that the auto companies should be allowed to go into bankruptcy in the belief it's the only way to get them to make the tough decisions and changes necessary for them to achieve salvation.

The incoming administration in Washington, DC is going to have more than its hands full for sure. Most of Obama's campaign promises don't stand a chance of fulfillment, at least not in the next 2-3 years. Even then, many of those promises, if put into place, will hurt more than help get us out of the current economic mess because of the costs involved. There is no way we can tax our way out. It's been tried before and it doesn't work.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Big 3 Bailout Troubles

The latest plan to bailout the Big3 automakers failed to get Senate approval yesterday because the UAW would not agree to reduce member wages and benefits as their part of the solution. Now Congress wants to invade the original TARP giveaway funds to provide the carmakers with the $15 billion called for in the failed plan. They just can't accept the fact the UAW and the so-called "legacy benefits" costs are at the center of the problem. Only when the total hourly labor costs including the legacy benefits get down to the level of those costs currently in effect at the USA plants of Toyota etc.will American carmakers become competitive. That's another reason why bankruptcy under Chapter 11 is the only thing that makes any sense.

Chapter 11 Bankrupcy

Chapter 11 bankruptcy would offer the carmakers an opportuniy to sweep their businesses clean under order and control of the court. They could reorganize from the top down with people who want the companies to succeed. They could eliminate plants that are outmoded and inefficient and reduce production of vehicle types no longer popular or cost-effective. They could deal with labor on a level playing field and reduce benefit (and legacy benefit) plan costs. They could detail plans for new vehicles while at the same time conducting effective research and development of more fuel efficient and alternative energy powered vehicles.

There will be some jobs lost which is going to happen in any case. Some parts and services suppliers may go under but hopefully they too can reorganize under Chapter 11 and make a comeback along with the auto companies. Many car dealers could go under but could also reorganize under Chapter 11. Employees of all entities from the car makers, to their dealers and suppliers will hurt for awhile but could return to work as business improves. Obviously, the quicker this all happens the sooner things will improve. If the government is going to use our taxpayer money anyway, the best use would be to help those who would be laid off by their employers undergoing Chapter 11.

Throwing Shoes at President Bush

The shoe throwing incident in Baghdad yesterday involving an irate Shiite Iraqi journalist is being hailed by journalists all over the Islamic world. The incident underscores the hatred for Bush and the USA held by many radicals in that part of the world. It was intended as an insult and we shouldn't take it sitting down. The shoe thrower, Al-Zeidi, is in Iraqi custody and for my money should be tried and punished to the fullest extent of Iraqi law! Meanwhile, we should let it be known that we will not tolerate such attacks on our President and will retaliate with force the next time it happens.

Would They Do It to Obama?

Chances are there will be no more shoes thrown at Bush because he has only a few weeks left in office and he has no plans to go back to the Middle East before then. Obama is not likely to be attacked in a similar manner because the radicals like him and his liberal friends. Of course, they could read him as soft and easily bullied which could lead to a lot of trouble for us all.

The GW Bush Legacy

George W. Bush will go out of the Presidency with the lowest approval rating of any of his recent predecessors but in my view he will one day be ranked among our better Presidents. There is little doubt in my mind that the outcome of the recent Presidential election was based on hatred for Bush, not necessarily a liking for Obama. That's what voting based on emotions instead reasoned decision is all about. I can't wait for all the "Don't blame me, I didn't vote for him!" bumper stickers to start showing up.

There are those who hate Bush because of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they dominate the haters as a group. They ignore totally the fact we have not had a terrorist attack in this country since 9/11, thanks to Bush administration policy. Will that continue under Obama?
If it doesn't, our goose is cooked in more ways than one.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Blagojevich Blues Continue

Each hour that passes since the arrest of Gov. Blagojevich brings out more interesting stuff that is adding doubts about the future of government in America. It's too easy to say "Oh, that's just Chicago politics". It isn't just Chicago politics, it's symbolic of what has happened in politics throughout the country, and it's part and parcel of the steady deterioration of ethics and morality in our behavior as a people. And it didn't begin yesterday, it's been present in our leaders almost from the beginning. In my lifetime, FDR had his Lucy, Ike had his British female Capt. Summersby, JFK had several including Marilyn, LBJ had daily workouts with a few, Nixon had a rumored affair with Madame Chiang, and Clinton had his Monica and others. Then there's the NY governor who had to resign over a high-priced lady of the night and John Edwards who fathered a child by a mistress. And that was just the morality part of the equation. There have been several Congressmen and Senators who put their hands in the taxpayers' cookie jar and several who had habits not unlike the former Presidents named above.

The Obama Connection

It remains to be seen if anything damaging is going to be revealed by the Blagojevich matter to hurt Obama. But, there are too many coincidences to simply accept his word that he's not been involved somehow. If he hasn't been involved, it would be a simple matter for him to open up to the truth. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Bailout Blues Continue

Congress supposedly has come up with what might best be decribed as a partial bailout plan for the Big3, but if President Bush doesn't support it, that would end it. The plan is based on a $15 billion "bridging loan" that would not do much good beyond March 2009 and the appointment of an auto industry "czar" to oversee operations of the companies. The UAW says it's willing to consider some sort of moratorium on their benefits during that period, but I doubt it would help much. The whole issue seems to be boiling down to saving the UAW and the hell with everyone else.

The Illinois Governor

The arrest of Illinois Governor Blagojevich on suspicion of offering to "sell" his appointment to replace Obama in the U.S. Senate and other criminal charges this morning comes as a surpise to many but not to those familiar with corruption in government. Illinois has had its share of it going back to the days of prohibition and Al Capone. Suspected ballot box stuffing in Cook County pushed JFK over the top in 1960. Of Course, his father owned the Chicago Mercantile Exchange at the time and was a known rum runner during Prohibition.

If Blagojevich goes to prison, it will be the 4th Illinois governor out of the last 7 to go to prison.

Bear in mind also Obama's closeness to the Illinois scene, especially Chicago. The media will toss it off as false innuendo and another attempt to accuse Obama based on "guilt by association". Is all of it coincidental? Is it coincidental that Tony Rezko found a home for Obama and had social connections with the guy? Is it coincidental that Blagojevich has had numerous dealings with Rezko? Is it coincidental that radicals Jeremiah Wright, Rev. Pleger, Bill Ayers the bomb thrower, Rezko, and Minister Farrakhan have associated with one another and the President-elect? Is it conceivable that anything rubbed off from these people onto the President-elect?

As Yogi might say, stay tuned, it's not over 'til it's over.