Tuesday, June 28, 2005
What A Jolly Nice Name! Well, Never Mind, Cheerio! Thank You Very Much! Thank You Very Much! Thank You Very Much! ... AWFUL People.
After a certain point, the outrage meter just starts spinning.
In an evening address at an Army base that has 9,300 troops in Iraq, Bush was acknowledging the toll of the 27-month-old war. At the same time, he aimed to persuade skeptical Americans that his strategy for victory needed only time — not any changes — to be successful.
"Like most Americans, I see the images of violence and bloodshed. Every picture is horrifying and the suffering is real," Bush said, according to excerpts released ahead of time by the White House. "It is worth it."
He was rejecting calls to set a timetable for withdrawing 135,000 American troops. Instead, he argued for maintaining the present two-pronged strategy: equipping Iraqi security forces to take over the anti-insurgency fight and helping Iraqi political leaders in the transition to a permanent democratic government.
Bush's repeated acknowledgment of death and difficulty came less than a month after Vice President Dick Cheney proclaimed the Iraq insurgency "in the last throes." Still, the president's overriding message was one of optimism.
"The American people do not falter under threat, and we will not allow our future to be determined by car bombers and assassins," he said.
Democrats and other critics said the country needed more specifics than Bush has been giving.
"We just don't have a clue what the criteria for success is," said Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., a Vietnam combat veteran. "People are still willing to give the president time if he would just level with them."
Outside the base, opponents of the war planned protests.
The liberal group MoveOn.org also unveiled television advertisements that call the Iraq war "a quagmire." "We got in the wrong way. Let's get out the right way," say the ads running in several contested congressional districts.
Bush reserved a few hours before the speech for a private session to console the loved ones of fallen soldiers. Though he often holds these meetings when visiting military bases, the White House's decision to schedule time with 33 grieving families on the same day as the major address underscored the president's plan to offer a more somber assessment than usual of a war that has killed over 1,740 U.S. military personnel and 12,000 Iraqi civilians.
How very fucking nice of you to meet with a few of the families of the kids you've pointlessly sent to their deaths. How lovely that "it is worth it".
It's not your blood being shed, you unspeakable bastard. It's our kids'. It's our victims'.
You're going to lie to the country again tonight, you monkey. You're going to equate Iraq and 9/11 -- it's in the speech. You're gonna say Stay the course, and The terrorists hate freedom, and all the same old shit. And people die every goddamn day for no reason except you wanted to go down in history. Which you will, but not for the reasons you think.
Y'know what would be worth it, George? To have our soldiers, our budget, and our national honor back. But I don't think that's gonna happen until we impeach your sorry ass and hand you over to the Hague.
Until then, though, don't you fucking dare say that your illegal war for oil and treasure and vengeance is worth the lives of anyone, let alone these people.
Any one of them was a better human being than you.
And I Would've Gotten Away With It Too If It Weren't For You Sons Of A Bi...
Mister Bilbo Baggins... Enough... Is Enough
Thanks to JAC in comments at Eschaton.
Sunday, June 26, 2005
It's Not Who I Am Underneath, But What I Do, That Defines Me
I retract nothing.
Not one goddamn word.
If anything, I didn't go far enough.
That's what this post is about.
But not how you think.
See, what I said was the truth. If you support, defend, or explain away the works of evil men, you are yourself evil.
But I do realize that there are a whole lot of people out there who not only believe that George W. Bush is not evil, but that his political opponents are. And, therefore, they believe that, at the very least, they themselves are not evil.
I'll accept that. Up to a point. There are, however, a few things to consider.
What do you really think of as good and evil?
I'm talkin' the real deal here. Was Bill Clinton evil because he lied about an extramarital affair? Was Ken Starr evil because he spent $70 million investigating that affair and other accusations against the Clintons? Were Newt Gingrich and Henry Hyde evil for going after Clinton for his extramarital affair? How about when it turned out they'd both had affairs as well? Was Michael Schiavo evil because he wanted to let his wife die? Were her parents evil because they wanted her to live? Were George W. Bush, Jeb Bush, Bill Frist, and Randall Terry evil for getting involved?
Is Michael Jackson evil?
Is Hillary Clinton evil?
Is Jerry Falwell evil?
Is Michael Moore evil?
Is same-sex marriage evil?
Is pre-marital heterosexual sex evil?
Is sex education involving anything besides abstinence evil?
Is going to war evil?
Is lying about the reasons to go to war evil?
We could go on like this for awhile. But my point is not that You Are Evil, or There Is Evil, or There Is Moral Relativism, or anything like that -- my point is that there are two kinds of people in the world.
There are people who, when confronted with something that might be evil, take a moment, or a lifetime, and think about it.
And there are people who don't.
We are all both kinds of people at different times. What separates us are our personal templates for good and evil.
Here are two examples:
When I was younger, I shoplifted some books from a local drug store. Several books, one at a time, over a summer. I didn't have much cash, and I wanted the books, and I was petrified of what it would do to my mom if I was caught. But I wasn't caught, and it became easier after awhile. And then it became less easy, because the fear knotted up in my gut -- and the wild part was how it mutated: It ceased being fear that I would get caught, and became fear that I was becoming a thief by nature. And so I stopped doing it, and later sent an anonymous money order to the store to pay for the books I'd stolen.
During that same period, I was frequently hired as a babysitter for the families along our street. One family across the street had two kids, ages 4 and 2, I think, adorable. Loved 'em. Well, one day, my mom and the parents of that family asked to talk with me. Seems the little girl had indicated that I might've touched her in a bad way. I was absolutely stunned, horrified, and I think my instant, fervent denial and the look on my face must've been what convinced 'em more than anything. (Turned out there was another person in the mix, who looked somewhat similar to me, and apparently the very young girl had gotten us confused.)
In the first case, did I perform an act of evil? Yes, I did. I stole, knowingly and deliberately, and for awhile I justified it by my relative lack of spending money and I prided myself on my Artful Dodging. The act was wrong, I was wrong, and if I'd been caught I would've deserved whatever punishment I received. When I stopped, I made amends -- anonymously, because I wasn't brave enough to face the heat, but I did do it, and I stopped stealing. I was evil, but I was able to see it, and to change.
In the second case, I was suddenly smacked in the face with an accusation that left me sick and shaking. Devastated by the possibility that these nice neighbors, these people who I liked and whose kids I loved, that my mom, could possibly believe that of me, even for a moment. I knew evil, and it wasn't me.
Now, let's get back to the present day.
There are four overarching political philosophies in the United States: liberalism, libertarianism, conservatism, and neoconservatism. There are many volumes describing each of them, and to distill them to a single phrase seems almost insulting -- but you can do it reasonably, I think:
Liberalism believes that people need protection, government should do a lot of it, and that taxes are necessary to pay for it.
Conservatism believes that people can take care of their own interests, government should do very little, and that taxes are stealing money from people who've earned it.
Libertarianism believes that people need some protection, government should do little besides the essentials, and that taxes are stealing money from people who've earned it.
Neo-conservatism believes that...
And here we get to the kicker. What do neo-conservatives believe? It's a little muddy. But they currently control the US government.
Remember when George W. Bush came into office? He said two things which have stuck with me. (Well, okay, he said several things which have stuck with me, such as, he hoped to reduce our dependence on foreign oil by working with Mexico, and Al Gore was treating Social Security like some kinda federal program).
He said he was a uniter, not a divider.
He said that the US was not in the business of nation-building.
Now, please, seriously -- those of you who support the Bush administration: What has happened in our country and in the world since then?
Did you sign on for endless war in Iraq? Because that's what we seem to have. We also have it in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Iran and North Korea are getting into the nuclear weapon business.
Is it okay to torture human beings? Which human beings, under what circumstances?
Should Americans be above international law, simply because they're Americans? If so, why is that fair?
How do you feel about religious morality being legislated? In clinics, hospitals, science classes, pharmacies?
How about tax cuts? Are you getting enough? Too little? Too much?
How's your job security doing?
Do you feel threatened by gays getting married? If so, why?
Are you liberal, conservative, libertarian, or something else? And what do you think of those not in your category, and why do you think that?
For a long time now, our country has had its squabbles, its dividers, its political street fights. Thing is, up to a certain point, there was never any question that, even though both sides vehemently disagreed, we were in fact all on the same team, that being America.
That assumption is now called into question on a daily basis.
After a lot of thought on some of these matters, and no thought needed at all for others, here's some of what I believe.
I believe it was wrong to invade Iraq -- militarily, politically, legally, economically. The bad guys weren't in Iraq, they were in Afghanistan, and we put the brakes on our attacks there to go after Saddam Hussein and his oil.
I believe many of our leaders have become way more interested in money and power and privilege than in serving the country, and more than a few of them have crossed the line into criminality to do so.
I believe that many of those leaders believe that, by virtue of their being rich to begin with, they are entitled to more money and power and privilege than the rest of us, and they will stop at nothing to take as much as they can.
I believe that many of them were once good men, whose greed and narrow view of politics has blinded them to what they are doing. I even believe that many of them still think they are doing good, although with a drastically different set of goals and expectations in mind.
I believe that those goals and expectations are based on an absolute best-case scenario that simply does not play out in the real world, and they don't see that, or want to see that, no matter how many times and how much evidence to the contrary is put in front of them.
I believe that there are those who, in pursuit of money and power and privilege, use people's faith to steer them into directions, thoughts, and actions which the people could figure out for themselves are wrong, if only they were given the opportunity -- but that opportunity never comes, because the drumbeat of the stereotypes, of baby killer and faggot and flag burner and welfare mother and so many others, drowns out rational thought.
I believe that many of those leaders could, under some circumstances, see what they are doing to the rest of us, and possibly change their minds. I also believe that some of them will not want to.
And I believe that the American people -- all the American people -- are much more capable of taking charge of their own moral compasses than the above-mentioned leaders want to allow.
If you were offended by my rant the other day, well, I'm not sorry. I mean, I'm sorry your feelings were hurt, but, dammit, it was intended to be a shot to the chops. Tough love, if you like, because I love my conservative and Republican friends. It just happens that I think they're defending the wrong people, and the wrong policies. And I think that we have to get back to a point where we're all on the same track -- where we're all Americans again. Our country is in a dark time, one in which the very nature of America is being questioned.
It shouldn't have to be. America is the best example in the history of civilization that people can rule themselves, and that freedom makes a country stronger, and that everyone's lives can be better without stifling the ability of people to get rich.
But something has gone awry. No matter which side you are on politically, there is a sizable percentage of the population that thinks you are wrong, and in fact fatally, evilly wrong, because of your support of one policy or another, one set of policies or another, one philosophy or another.
All I ask is that you think about it. All I ask is that you ask yourself why.
Why do you support the people and policies you support? Are you in complete agreement with them? Are you making moral or ethical trade-offs? Are you okay with that? Be as brutally honest as you can be -- it's you questioning yourself, and no one else needs to know.
But you've got to live with it.
I started this off with a quote from Batman Begins. I'd like to end it with another one, said both by Thomas Wayne (Bruce's father) and by Alfred:
Why do we fall, sir? So that we might better learn to pick ourselves up.
Now Those Magic Slippers Will Take You Home In Two Seconds
So much for not negotiating with terrorists.
After weeks of delicate negotiation involving a former Iraqi minister and senior tribal leaders, a small group of insurgent commanders apparently came face to face with four American officials seeking to establish a dialogue with the men they regard as their enemies.
The talks on June 3 were followed by a second encounter 10 days later, according to an Iraqi who said that he had attended both meetings. Details provided to The Sunday Times by two Iraqi sources whose groups were involved indicate that further talks are planned in the hope of negotiating an eventual breakthrough that might reduce the violence in Iraq.
Despite months of American military assaults on supposed insurgent bases, General John Abizaid, the regional US commander, admitted to Congress last week that opposition strength was “about the same” as six months ago and that “there’s a lot of work to be done against the insurgency”.
That work now includes secret negotiations with rebel leaders, according to the Iraqi sources.
Washington seems to be gingerly probing for ways of defusing home-grown Iraqi opposition and of isolating the foreign Islamic militants who have flooded into Iraq to wage holy war against America under the command of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq.
The talks appear to represent the first serious effort by Americans and Iraqi insurgents to find common ground since violence intensified in the spring. Earlier informal contacts were reported but produced no perceptible progress.
On one level, this is merely the newest example that everything they do is wrong, and everything they say is a lie. This isn't me being anti-administration; this is demonstrable, documented fact.
This particular situation, however, is cause for a small amount of hope -- not because I believe it will be successful; I don't trust The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Str- er, the Bush administration as far as I can spit while inhaling -- but because this sounds as if they realize that the American people want us the hell out of Iraq, and they're trying to find a way to do it... obviously a way that will make the US look as good as possible, but still.
And anything that gets our troops home and safe as quickly as possible, and gets us out of the horrific mess that Bush built, is potentially A Very Good Thing.
I'm Not Going To Subsidize Cowardice
Friday, June 24, 2005
Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad
Therefore, everybody who disagrees with the President is officially an un-American traitor. Liberals wanted to help the terrorists who destroyed the World Trade Center, they want to help the Iraqi insurgency, and they want US troops to die. That is what Rove said; that is what they are telling us is the case.
These people have no shame. They will stoop to any depth. Their only purpose is to win and consolidate power.
Any bets on suspension of the 2006 elections? Martial law? Liberal internment camps by 2007? Repeal of the 22nd Amendment? Nothing's impossible with these evil fucks.
We Three Kings Be Stealin' The Gold
What gets me is the "I am horrified at what I did to my church". No, you weren't, you sorry hypocritical nothing. You were sorry you got caught. If you were sorry for what you did, you wouldn't have done it to the tune of nearly three-quarters of a million dollars and then bought a big fuckin' house with it.
A Grosse Pointe Woods church treasurer and mother who pleaded no contest to looting at least $700,000 from her congregation's coffers asked for forgiveness -- and probation -- on Thursday.
She didn't get it.
Wayne County Circuit Judge Timothy Kenny threw out the sentencing guidelines, which would have seen Janis Ferworn, 45, serve no more than nine months in prison, and hammered her with a five- to 10-year prison sentence.
Ferworn, the former treasurer of Christ the King Lutheran Church in Grosse Pointe Woods, maintained her composure as sheriff's deputies escorted her away immediately.
"Mrs. Ferworn would have done far less damage if she had taken a bulldozer and knocked down the walls of the church," Kenny said. "The reality is that from 1997 through January of 2005, Mrs. Ferworn was a thief of epic proportions."
Ferworn's lawyer, Gary Wilson, noted Thursday that she has five children, including two adopted children ages 9 and 11 and another child younger than 18. The other two are adults.
"But for the two" adopted "children, I couldn't ask for probation," Wilson said. He asked Kenny "to err on the side of grace and consider my client's children."
Unmoved, the judge said Ferworn signed adoption papers with one hand and fraudulent checks with the other.
"I am horrified at what I did to my church," Ferworn said. "I pray that Christ the King will someday forgive me for these repugnant crimes."
The theft wiped out a pension for the church's emeritus pastor and hurt a church reconstruction effort and day care funding, prosecutors said. Meanwhile, they claim she lived in a $500,000 home with an in-ground pool and vacationed at a time-share in Hilton Head, S.C.
"I'd love to live in a $500,000 house," Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Robert Donaldson said. "I've been doing this a long time, and I can't remember a more egregious violation of trust."
Ferworn swore that she kept the embezzling from her husband, who has not been charged.
Kenny found it hard to believe Roger Ferworn didn't know.
"How could anyone live under the same roof and have $700,000 of tax-free income and not have clue No. 1 that something strange was going on?" the judge said.
The pastor, Randy Boelter, said the embezzlement might turn out to exceed $1.3 million.
"The cost in time and additional resources to ensure our mere survival has been staggering," he said. "While it took Janis Ferworn seven years to systematically drain our finances, it will take us twice as long to rebuild our ministry and restore what existed."
Where do these people come from!?
This Is Some Rescue -- When You Came In Here, Didn't You Have A Plan For Getting Out?
Two things, perhaps more directly than Mr. Parry's points.
George, the troops are in harm's way because you put them there.
And, given that you put them there, that you have spent hundreds of billions of dollars and almost two thousand American lives and God only knows how many Iraqi lives and all of our international reputation to put them there and there's no end in sight, no exit strategy, no plan, you had fucking well better be thinking of Iraq every waking moment.
Thanks to Billy B, in comments at Eschaton, for pointing this out.
Thursday, June 23, 2005
Don't Be Here? But Where Am I To Go?
A divided Supreme Court ruled Thursday that local governments may seize people's homes and businesses against their will for private development in a decision anxiously awaited in communities where economic growth often is at war with individual property rights.Not much to add, really, except... y'know what gets me most about this? This ruling was handed down by the supposedly "liberal" justices. The dissenters were O'Connor, Rehnquist, Scalia, and Thomas.
The 5-4 ruling — assailed by dissenting Justice Sanday Day O'Connor as handing "disproportionate influence and power" to the well-heeled in America — was a defeat for some Connecticut residents whose homes are slated for destruction to make room for an office complex. They had argued that cities have no right to take their land except for projects with a clear public use, such as roads or schools, or to revitalize blighted areas.
As a result, cities now have wide power to bulldoze residences for projects such as shopping malls and hotel complexes in order to generate tax revenue.
[...]O'Connor, who has often been a key swing vote at the court, issued a stinging dissent, arguing that cities should not have unlimited authority to uproot families, even if they are provided compensation, simply to accommodate wealthy developers.
"Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random," she wrote. "The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms."
Connecticut residents involved in the lawsuit expressed dismay and pledged to keep fighting.
"It's a little shocking to believe you can lose your home in this country," said resident Bill Von Winkle, who said he would refuse to leave his home, even if bulldozers showed up. "I won't be going anywhere. Not my house. This is definitely not the last word."
Scott Bullock, an attorney for the Institute for Justice representing the families, added: "A narrow majority of the court simply got the law wrong today and our Constitution and country will suffer as a result."
At issue was the scope of the Fifth Amendment, which allows governments to take private property through eminent domain if the land is for "public use."
See? I can agree with them, if I feel they're right about something.
I'm Mad As Hell, And I'm Not Going To Take This Anymore
The Republican Party is fuckin' evil. Their masters? Evil. Your president? Evil.
You have a problem with that? Feel like defending them? Well, guess what? You, too, are fuckin' evil.
Let me explain.
It's not merely that the president lied us into a war. Nor merely that they help their friends profit from it. Nor even that they, among many other things, authorized torture, defied international law, overextended our military, destroyed our budget, undermined the Democratic process, savaged our Constitution, screwed up our environment, encouraged a particularly narrow and twisted variant of Christianity as "mainstream values", want to propagandize the public airwaves, and can't be bothered to tell the truth about the fucking weather.
Let's hear what the President's chief advisor, Karl Rove, has to say:
FUCK YOU, Rove.
"Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers," Mr. Rove, the senior political adviser to President Bush, said at a fund-raiser in Midtown for the Conservative Party of New York State.
Citing calls by progressive groups to respond carefully to the attacks, Mr. Rove said to the applause of several hundred audience members, "I don't know about you, but moderation and restraint is not what I felt when I watched the twin towers crumble to the ground, a side of the Pentagon destroyed, and almost 3,000 of our fellow citizens perish in flames and rubble."
Told of Mr. Rove's remarks, Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, replied: "In New York, where everyone unified after 9/11, the last thing we need is somebody who seeks to divide us for political purposes."
Mr. Rove also said American armed forces overseas were in more jeopardy as a result of remarks last week by Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, who compared American mistreatment of detainees to the acts of "Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime - Pol Pot or others."
"Has there ever been a more revealing moment this year?" Mr. Rove asked. "Let me just put this in fairly simple terms: Al Jazeera now broadcasts the words of Senator Durbin to the Mideast, certainly putting our troops in greater danger. No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals."
Let me put it in more elaborate terms, but FUCK YOU. You want a revealing moment? This, more than anything, reveals you as a partisan scumball who cares for nothing except winning.
You know what you're supposed to be doing, shithead? Advising the President on how best to serve the American people. To take care of the nation's business.
I'm still royally pissed off about Durbin's apology. Because Durbin was right. The tactics being used in Guantanamo Bay are the tactics of fascist regimes. And, if not authorized by our leaders, they are certainly enabled, and aren't we supposed to be the fucking Good Guys?
After 9/11, the world came together. Not merely Republicans, not even just Americans. The entire damn world said, "This is wrong, and those who instigated it will pay." The only ones who didn't were [a] the ones who instigated it and [b] Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson.
No, what liberals did was also say, "Y'know, these motherfuckers think they have valid reasons for doing this. So, while we're stomping a mudhole in the specific guys who planned and financed the 9/11 attacks, let's try to find out what their grievances are, so that maybe they won't, y'know, keep doing shit like this."
Which, I guess, sounds like coddling, rather than Detective 101: Motive, motive, motive.
No, Rove, you unspeakable monster, you soulless prick, the "motives of liberals" in opposing you are numerous and specific.
- You have used 9/11 as an excuse to attack a country, Iraq, which had nothing to do with the attacks.
- You have beggared the country's coffers, both to fight your war and to give financial rewards to your friends, cronies, and political backers.
- You have got our military stuck in that country, with no way to get out apart from simply cutting and running (which most of us liberals are not in favor of, because, unlike our President, we believe in cleaning up our messes).
- You have lied continually about your actions, your tactics, your strategies (or lack thereof), your ways, your means, everything related to that war.
- You have twisted the words of those who question or challenge you, accusing them at best of lying and at worst of treason.
- You have shamed our country. Once considered the shining light of the world, now we are, by our own definition, a rogue nation.
I have a vision of your future, Karl. A very straightforward one. When this whole horrid mess collapses, you are gonna be Defendent #3 at the Hague, right after Bush and Cheney.
And any of you Republicans out there who support this man, who support this President, who support or condone or explain away these policies, who call Democrats traitors for daring to question Dear Leader... you had better deal with a simple fact.
You are fuckin' evil.
Thursday, June 16, 2005
When I'm Through, Scuzzbucket, They're Gonna Scape You Off The Walls With A Squeegee
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
What Are You Talking About, "Variety"? Hostages? You Want To Fuck Some Other Women Now? Is That What You're Talking About, Mickey?
No, it's not.
The pundits now ponder Michael Jackson's future.
The old bit about critics being like eunuchs in a harem -- they can observe, critique, possibly even facilitate, but they can't do it themselves -- seems especially apt with such fatuities as this:
"We don't want to see a Judy Garland," UK-based [DJ and music historian Paul] Gambaccini told the BBC, referring to the Hollywood actress who struggled with addiction to prescription drugs and alcohol in her later years. "We could see a Judy Garland."Heaven forfend we see a Judy Garland.
Out in the real fucking world, we've got war, earthquakes, pestilence, nuclear tensions, cronyism, Microsoft-sanctioned censorship, a failed drug war, and the occasional startling ineptitude. Now that Jacko's off the hook, could the media be bothered to pay a little attention to that stuff, hmmm?
Didn't think so.
Thursday, June 09, 2005
In The History Of This Camp, That Was The Most Infamous, The Most Disgusting, The Most Revolting Display Of Hooliganism We Have Ever Had
For more background, I refer you to this superb article from Prevention Magazine a couple of years back. But here's the gist, from my view:
Contraceptives are legal.
Pharmacists are not doctors. They are pill-counters and retail clerks. (And, yes, I know that they actually do undergo extensive training. I have a couple of pharmacist friends. Don't split hairs.) They in no way inform the doctor-patient relationship.
If you're a pharmacist with a problem dispensing legally prescribed drugs, get the fuck out of the pharmacy business.
And get your goddamned God away from my friends' reproductive organs.
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
Go, Greased Lightning, You're Burnin' Up The Quarter Mile
General Motors Corp. plans to eliminate 25,000 jobs in the United States by 2008 and to close plants as part of a strategy to revive its struggling North American operations.Several things.
Speaking to shareholders at GM's 96th annual shareholder meeting in Delaware Tuesday morning, Chairman and Chief Executive Rick Wagoner said the capacity and job cuts will generate annual savings of roughly $2.5 billion.
Wagoner revealed the cutbacks as he laid out a four-step strategy to revive GM's North American business, the biggest and most troubling part of the world's largest automaker.
Wagoner focused on priorities for clarifying the role of each of GM's eight brands, intensifying efforts to reduce cost and improve quality and continuing to search for ways to reduce skyrocketing health care costs.
He noted that the company's current $1,500 per worker health-care expense puts GM at a "significant disadvantage versus foreign-based competitors," and said GM has conducted "intense discussions" with the unions about how to reduce health-care costs.[...]
In the cost-reduction area, Wagoner said it was vital for the company to improve efficiency at its manufacturing plants. He said that plant closings and idlings in recent months have reduced assembly capacity in North America from 6 million in 2002 to 5 million by the end of this year.
First, perhaps GM should figure out what kinds of cars people want to buy, at what prices, and retool their operation to produce those cars, rather than freak and put tens of thousands of people out of work.
Second, this is yet another example of why we really need to start thinking about universal health care. Just because GM lays off those 25,000 does not mean they will not get sick -- it just means that their illnesses must be paid for by other means, and probably a good hunk of that will be in emergency room visits eaten by the hospital, or by Medicare or Medicaid, or some other method that will likely cost more than GM's $1,500.
Third, the GM jobs are nowhere near the only ones affected. Parts manufacturers, car dealerships, insurance and financing corporations... all the industries based on the auto industry.
Fourth, thanks to the joys of an illegal war, stupid subsidies, no-bid contracts, immense tax cuts for the rich, removal of bankruptcy protections, and more pork in the budget than there is in Meridian, Texas, we are rapidly getting to a point where, even if we wanted to, we can't pay for it. Whatever it is we want to pay for, we simply can't pay for it.
In the endless quest for profit uber alles, our economy is being transformed from one based on manufacturing to one based on service. The bottom line, the most bang for the buck, has become the be-all and end-all. That bit about it being "... vital... to improve efficiency at its manufacturing plants" means "making a smaller work force do the same amount as a larger work force".
This is where following only the money takes you. If you keep producing fewer products, and your customer base is financially unable to buy them from you, how do you expect to keep in business?
Unfortunately, there is no easy solution. It's all tangled up in the Great Circle of Bushonomics. The tax cuts are too high, the deficits are too high, the price of private health care is too high, and I suspect we're past the point of negotiating these things individually. It's gonna take a crisis.
But that may give the people the Occam's Razor necessary to slice through the Georgian Knot.
Friday, June 03, 2005
You Have Meddled With The Primal Forces Of Nature, Mr. Beale, And I Won't Have It
To me, the funniest -- and vilest -- part of the whole exercise has been the taking to task of Felt. And not just by anybody, either.
By Ben Stein, former Nixon speechwriter.
Peggy Noonan, High Priestess of the First Church of Reagan.
Pat Buchanan, another Nixon speechwriter.
Chuck Colson, psychopath for Jesus.
G. Gordon Liddy, convicted Watergate burglar.
All kindsa folks. You can keep up on it at Deep Throat: Uncovered. But there are two important things to keep in mind -- two important things this barrage of talking heads is trying to do.
First, most of these specific talking heads were in the Nixon administration, and a few of them were involved in the burglary and underlying political plot. They are trying to vilify Felt to scour their own tarnished reputations. They are trying to rewrite history.
Second, they are trying to prevent a Deep Throat of the Bush administration to come forward. They want people to be so afraid of having their characters assassinated and their lives and careers destroyed (not that that's ever happened before) that they'll never come forth with the dirt on the Bushes.
First rule of Republican politics: Win at any cost. The law, the Constitution, people's lives do not matter. All that matters is winning, and if possible making the other guy hurt as much as possible.
So Liddy, who did prison time for his monkey business, not only badmouths the guy who put him away, but how he put him away, the thief lecturing the informant about honor. Noonan calls Colson, one of the most pathetic and hypocritical men in modern American politics, one of the true heroes of Watergate. Pat Buchanan says that millions of deaths in Vietnam and Cambodia were the fault of Felt, for bringing Nixon down when, gosh darn it, all he was trying to do was to save the world.
Everybody says how wonderful Nixon was.
Keep this in mind, and tell everyone you speak to about this to remember it:
In the name of Richard Nixon, these people tried to subvert the Constitution. They committed crimes. Some of them went to prison. Why should anyone listen to them at all, and what does anyone think they're going to say about the man who helped catch them?