Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Where Are the Bailouts?

Where Are the Bailouts?

American Airlines

Claim Jumper


El Torito

E-Z Lube

Filene’s Basement


General Maritime

Grubb & Ellis

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania


Jefferson County, Alabama


Los Angeles Dodgers


Maclaren's Strollers

MF Global

Old Country Buffett

Perkins/Marie Callender’s


Steak & Ale

The Love Boat


Why No Second Bailout? Why not double down?

Beacon Power Corp.

Energy Conversion Devices


Evergreen Solar

Range Fuels



Stirling Energy Systems

Sun Power

Tonopah Solar Energy

The Damnation of Santorum Has Begun

Is Senator Santorum the next Barry Goldwater or Ronald Reagan of the Republican Party?

Barry Goldwater changed the GOP from the east to the west, from Wall Street to Main Street, from the corporation to the entrepreneur, but he led the GOP to a thundering defeat in 1964. He could not restrain his views, which seemed radical at the time.

Ronald Reagan rose out of the ashes of the Goldwater campaign to lead the Republican Party to a great election victory in 1980, preaching economic liberty. Reagan was as conservative as Goldwater, but he moderated his views with an uplifting personality.

Senator Goldwater pointed the way, but he could not cross the divide.

The Senator spoke out against Social security and hinted of dropping the bomb on North Vietnam. President Johnson ran The Daisy Ad, and Goldwater’s campaign imploded.

Senator Santorum is being crucified for his religious beliefs. Maureen Dowd, the sometimes acerbic columnist for the New York Times, calls him “Mullah Rick.” Kimberly A. Strassel of the Wall Street Journal asked if he is the “Moralizer in Chief?”

What is his sin? He is a Christian, a Catholic who believes in the theology of the Church.

He believes in the teachings on the sanctity of human life; he is pro-life. The Senator was the prime proponent of the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act.

He is against gay-marriage and is personally opposed to contraception. He questions the loss of spirituality by many Protestant churches.

Most Americans, including Catholics, support contraception. The American public supports a woman’s right to choose.

That does not mean though that Catholics, who do not always agree with the Church's teachings, want the government to tell their Church what to do.

Thus, the Senator is easily pictured as outside the mainstream, to turn him into the Barry Goldwater of 2012. His own words will be used against him. He’s a straight shooter, but attacking President Kennedy’s famous Separation of Church and State Speech is a loser. He said “I don’t believe in an America where the separation of Church and State is absolute.” Neither did the Founding Fathers, but he was pilloried for this statement.

The media was strangely silent on President Obama’s quoting of Scripture to raise taxes. Imagine the outrage if President George W. Bush had quoted Jesus in support of lowering taxes!

Not everyone should go to college, but most parents want their sons and daughters to pursue the American Dream, which includes college.

Senator Santorum had no need to pick the JFK and college fights, but he chose to do so.

Senator Santorum is different from most of the candidates. He is a conviction politician, a rare individual today. He wears his religion on his sleeve.

The public is looking for leadership, an intangible. Walter Mondale’s pollsters kept saying the American people supported his positions over those of President Reagan. Yet the public overwhelmingly voted to reelect the President. They wanted his leadership, especially after the President Carter years.

We are a pluralistic society, a nation which tolerates freedom of religion, all religions, but we are based on the Judeo-Christian tradition.

Of course, the reality is that the President is using social issues, such as contraception, to take the voters’ minds off economic issues. The President’s advisors expect to win as the issue is posed as the freedom of access, emphasis on the word free, of a woman to contraception.

The gender gap has favored Democrats for decades, with the exception of the 2010 Midterm elections. President Obama is trying to grow the gap.

Most Americans favor gun control, but after Vice President Gore lost Tennessee and West Virginia in 2000, the Democratic Presidential candidates have stayed away from the issue. Some voters are one-issue voters.

We may see in November 2012 if pro-life, anti-gay marriage voters outnumber the single issue voters on the other side.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Oscars Award The French Connection

The Academy Awards celebrated the French Connection.

Last night’s Oscar Ceremony was retro with Billy Crystal hosting for the ninth time, a black and white silent movie winning movie of the year, Woody Allen earning his fourth Oscar, Merle Steep receiving one for the first time since 1982, and Christopher Plummer winning an Oscar at age 82, only two years younger than the academy awards. It was Old Timers Night at the Academy.

Only Angelina Jolie and J Lo distracted from the tastefulness of the actresses, while Nick Nolte displayed the effects of mind altering substances.

The true retro though was the French Connection, or the French Circle. Eleven Oscars went to French movies, 5 to The Artist, 5 to Hugo, and one to Midnight in Paris, the most since the original French Connection in 1971. That great movie won Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Director, and two other Oscars, as did The Artist. A French actor for the first time won the Best Actor Oscar.

The Oscars completed the circle of recognizing the French, known for the arts and culture, after a few earlier years of disrespect in America.

The French supported the invasion of Afghanistan in the aftermath of 9/11, but opposed the invasion of Iraq.

An outburst of Francophobia erupted in the United States. The House of Representatives, under the leadership of subsequently convicted Representative Robert Ney, renamed the cafeteria's French fries, “Freedom Fries,” and French Toast “Freedom Toast.” The New York Post printed a picture of the GI graves at Normandy with this caption “They died for France, but France has forgotten.” French military prowess was ridiculed.

Bill O’Reilly called for a boycott of French products. It failed. Americans were unwilling to cut off French wine, cheese, perfume, fashions, and haute couture. Madam Le Guillotine did not await French products in the United States. We were also unwilling to rename “The French Kiss.”

The producers of French Mustard emphasized it was a family name and not the country of origin.

Our relationship with the French has been interesting. George Washington defeated the British at Yorktown because, for one of the few times in its history, a French fleet defeated the British Navy, thereby trapping the British on land in an indefensible position. Americans also celebrated the Marquis de Lafayette, naming cities and counties after him. Thomas Jefferson, a Francophile, purchased the Louisiana Purchase from France, giving us N’Awlins, Creole and Cajun cuisine, and Madri Gras.

We went to war a second time with the British, the War of 1812, but never entered a war with France.

And yet, we soon entered into a special relationship with the British, which persists to this day.

We have often entered into periods of Francophobia, exasperated by the foreign policy independence of France after World War 11. American Motors and Renault as "Franco-American Motors" was a failed merger. James Franco last year was one of the worse hosts in Academy History.

Hollywood is Hollywood, not always connecting with the American public or history.

Indeed, none of these three movies sold many tickets, and all have a heavily American, not French, connection. The Artist was filmed entirely in Los Angeles, while Hugo and Midnight in Paris were written and directed by Americans.

As a final tribute to America, Jean Dujardin swore in French.

Vive Le France!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Have They Learnt?

Many Americans have addiction problems – to drugs and alcohol.

Celebrities, such as actors, athletes, comics, and singers with large disposable incomes, are certainly no exceptions. Politicians can also exhibit such addictions.

This list contains some of the more famous figures, still alive, who have suffered from drug and alcohol problems, often manifested in arrests, such as for DWI.
Explanations and excuses include “youthful indiscretions,” “peer pressure,” pain relief, escapism, relief of boredom, or pleasure.

Many transgressors are in fields or professions where alcohol and drug use are common. Many have learnt from these mistakes, and have successfully completed rehab programs. Several have remained great successes, while others have destroyed their careers and lives.

Here’s a short list of those who have been through rehab, redemption or relapse:

Paula Abdul

Tim Allen

Alice Cooper

Charles Barkley

Halle Barry

Drew Barrymore

Misha Barton

Glenn Beck

Yasmine Bleeth

Ronald Belisario

David Bowie

Bobby Brown

Gary Busey

Gerald Butler

Macauley Culkin

Eric Clapton

David Crosby

David Cross

Jamie Lee Curtis

John Daly

Jeffrey Donovan

Michael Douglas

Gary Doudan

Robert Downing, Jr.

Mick Fleetwood

Mel Gibson

Dwight Gooden

Paris Hilton

Steve Howe

Keith Hernandez

Samuel L. Jackson

Elton John

Angelina Jolie

Wynonna Judd

Shawn Kemp

Adam Kennedy

Patrick Kennedy

Joan Kennedy

Richard Lewis

Lindsay Lohan

Rush Limbaugh

Heather Locklear

Derek Lowe


Demi Moore

Brooke Mueller

Joe Nameth

Nick Nolte

Ozzy Osbourne

Haley Joel Osmont

Dave Parker

Scottie Pippen

Jaime Pressly

Daniel Radcliff

Manny Ramirez

Keith Richards

Nicole Ritchie

Michelle Rodriquez

Charlie Sheen

Kiefer Sutherland

Daryl Strawberry

Roy Tarpley

Rip Torn

Steven Tyler

Eddie Van Halen

Hines Ward

Robin Williams

Have They Learnt?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

When Will They Learn 111: The Athletes

John Matusak

Brian Adams

Len Bias

Christopher Bowman

Ken Caminetti

Josh Hancock

John Kordic

Reggie Lewis

Pelle Lindbergh

Gene Lipscomb

Don Rogers

Eric Show

Chase Tatum

David Waymer

When Will They Learn 11: The Actors and Comedians

Pier Angeli

Matthew Ansara

John Belushi

Charles Boyer

Lenny Bruce

Montgomery Clift

Natasha Collins

Jeff Conaway

Dorothy Dandridge

Chris Farley

W.C. Fields

Jerry Garcia

Corey Haim

Bren Hartman

Margaux Hemingway

Alan Ladd

Heath Ledger

Bruce Lee

Bela Lugosi

Billy Mayes

Marilyn Monroe

Brittany Murphy

Hugh O’Connor

Robert Pastorelli

Chris Penn

River Phoenix

Dana Plato

Freddy Prinze

Brad Renfo

Jean Seburg

Edie Sedgwick

Anna Nicole Smith

Inger Stevens

Chapman Lost Three Stars

Chapman Loses Three Stars

Chapman University has suffered three major losses in the past two months, two esteemed faculty members and a stellar student. Professors Richard Doetkott and Katherine Darmer were standouts at Chapman, a university which emphasizes teaching excellence. Both died unexpectedly, Dick from a heart attack and Katherine from a fall. Professor Doetkott, a youthful 75 year old, led a full life while Katherine was in her personal and professional prime at 47, leaving two young children behind. The third loss was Daniel Ottesen, a outstanding third year law student, who had yet to start his professional career.

Professor Richard Doetkott joined the Chapman Faculty in 1964. He’s one of the last to experience the transition of Chapman from a small college with 300 students, and in danger of missing a payroll, to the impressive university it has become today. Dick’s blood flowed Chapman red. He lived for the students, and was beloved by them in return. He camped out in front of Argyros Forum under a canopy at lunch in his unofficial, self-appointed status as the student’s faculty ombudsmen.

Dick was also a strong fighter for faculty self-governance. He chaired the Chapman Chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).

I was appointed to a faculty committee several years ago to create Chapman’s faculty senate, since the university’s growing size made the existing corporate governance structure unmanageable. We went to the first committee meeting. Dick was sitting there, having already drafted the faculty senate structure and its bylaws. As I quickly learned, my colleagues expected no less from him. They had worked extensively with Dick over the years. The Faculty approved his plan.

One of the highest honors for Chapman faculty is to deliver the annual Aims of Education Speech to the parents of incoming freshmen at fall orientation. Professor Doetkott was so honored 12 years ago. His complete presentation was from memory without notes, cue cards, or a teleprompter. His field was Communications, and his
approach “Old School.”

“The Speech God” taught Communications Studies 101, his speech course teaching his approach to public speaking. The students loved it.

Professor Darmer was a premier law professor as a teacher and scholar. She was educated at Princeton and Columbia Law School. She came from an academic family. Her father is the Chair of the Philosophy Department at Baylor.

She was aggressive, but respectful in her views, as one might expect from a former federal prosecutor. There was nothing philosophical or jurisprudential in her approach.

Katherine co-founded the Orange County Equality Coalition, which advocated for gay rights and gay marriage. She vigorously opposed Professor John Yoo and Gitmo, and co-authored an amicus brief against California’s Proposition 8. Chapman’s

President, Jim Doti, normally does not get involved in public controversies, but he signed onto the brief. President Doti praised Professor Darmer as a "zealot advocate for equal rights for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters."

Katherine had just witnessed one of the greatest legal victories of her career. The Ninth Circuit had affirmed the unconstitutionality of Prop 8, but she lost her battle, a carefully kept secret, against depression, one of the most insidious diseases of modern civilization.

Katherine and I agreed on some political issues and disagreed on others, but there was always mutual respect.

It’s not so easy to the praises of a bright light who had yet to gain professional recognition. Those who knew Daniel Ottesen recognized him as a rising star. Professors can spot students destined for great success in life.

Dan had already led a full life, as a Mormon missionary, surfer in Hawaii, Mexico, and San Diego, but especially as a benefactor. His promise was for the future. I do not like to make generalizations of people based on their religion. However, Dan epitomized the Mormon - hardworking, energetic, friendly, thoughtful of others, and always optimistic.

His death was totally inexplicable. He died of an anaphylactic reaction to prescription medication. His spirit lives on.

Richard, Katherine, and Dan were integral parts of Chapman University, the intangibles that propel an institution to greatness. They represented the past, present, and future of Chapman. Their spirit is now an eternal part of Chapman.

Friday, February 17, 2012

John & Ken Crossed the Line

John & Ken Crossed the Line

John & Ken didn’t show up to work yesterday. They were unceremoniously suspended by KFI 640 for a week, undoubtedly to the applause of all those they’ve offended in Southern California since 1992. John Korbylt and Ken Chiampou crossed the line.

The line is ill-defined and ambiguous line, but they crossed it.

Roughly 1.1 million listeners will have to suffer through their unscheduled vacation.

John had twice referred to Whitney Houston as a “crack ho.”

The station stood by the duo as they called Governor Gray Davis “Gumby” and a whore. They refer to the “SEIU union thugs” and Democratic legislative leaders as “whores for their union bosses.” They call undocumented immigrants “illegal aliens,” and utter homophobic comments. They rail against The Dream Act. Their political attacks are non-partisan. They are wont to excoriate Republicans, often as “traitors.” Subtlety is not their forte.

Their major efforts are against tax increases, public employee unions, and amnesty in any form. They also highlight local issues, such as public corruption in Bell and alleged police brutality in Fullerton. They represent an alternative, articulate voice, which resonates with their audience, in public debates.

They are the highly entertaining shock jocks of talk radio. Their attacks can often be strident, and that may be the problem. They have become increasingly caustic and vitriolic in recent years, perhaps emboldened by success.

Advertisers, such as GM, AT&T, and Verizon, have dropped them in response to complaints from Hispanic organizations, but Clear Channel has stood by them. Their stature at KFI is not because of the First Amendment. They succeed where it matters, with the largest listening audience of any local talk show in the country. They are a gold mine for Clear Channel.

I listen to them while driving. I don’t always agree, but they are entertaining.

Calling the late Whitney Houston a “crack ho” finally crossed the line. KFI issued a statement “KFI AM 640 does not condone, support or tolerate statements of this kind.”

Attacking politicians and celebrities is fair game; that’s the price of being in the public limelight. Highlighting the tragedy of the Hollywood drug culture is fair game. Pointing out that Whitney Houston had a long term drug dependency problem is fair game. Perhaps even calling her a crack head would be fair game.

However, labeling her a prostitute, absent evidence of it, is beyond the pale. It is one of the worst epithets you can call a woman. It was totally uncalled for. The word “whore,” when used in the context of politicians, is understood to mean they are owned by some organization; they have their votes and power to powerful supporters. You could even say that John & Ken are whores to the ratings.

The word “ho” though only applies to prostitution in the traditional sense.

Whitney’s death could be part of the public debate over the drug culture in America, or part of the public discussion of improving the rehabilitation efforts in America in response to the problems of addiction.

“Ho” is totally irrelevant to this discussion.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Did the Food Police Invade a North Carolina Preschool?

Did the Food Police, or a Phantom, Invade a North Carolina Preschool?

We understand why schools try to keep guns, knives, drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes out of the school.

We understand why some schools have metal detectors to enter the school, and are patrolled by police.

But food police in pre-kindergarten?

The Charlotte Journal published an alarming article on Tuesday: “Preschooler’s Homemade Lunch Replaced With Cafeteria Nuggets.” The article went viral, as well it should.

It conveyed the unconscionable image of food police terrorizing 4-year old girls.

North Carolina requires all pre-K programs to meet USDA guidelines. State officials were inspecting the West Hoke Elementary School in Raeford, North Carolina to see if it met U.S. Department of Agriculture Guidelines. An appropriate lunch would consist of meat, dairy, grain, and two servings of fruit or vegetable.

Her lunch consisted of a turkey and cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread, a side of banana, potato chips, and apple juice.

That apparently set off the food police. Someone, unidentified, a phantom inspector checked all 6 lunch boxes in the More at Four classroom.

The phantom inspector told the girl her lunch was not nutritious. The story gets a little murky at this point. At the minimum the girl was sent in line to get a milk.

Another version, her version, is that she was given a tray with the “nutritious” (my quotes – not her’s) lunch meal on it. Apparently the phantom inspector did not realize that cheese is dairy.

She ended up eating three chicken nuggets, and throwing the rest of the tray away. She brought her home-packed lunch back home.

To add insult to injury, the child brought home a bill for $1.25, the cost of the meal.

The mother told a local paper “What got me so mad is, number one, don’t tell my kid I’m not packing her lunch properly.” She said “I pack her lunchbox according to what she eats. It always consists of a fruit. It never consists of a vegetable. She eats vegetables at home because I have to watch her because she really doesn’t care for vegetables.”

Here we have a choice of mother or Big Brother in raising a child.

That is very troubling.

We have a low level bureaucrat, a food zealot, or possibly a teacher, letting power go to his/her head – a constant problem with an increasingly intrusive government.

Bruce Alexander, The Director of Communications and Government Affairs with the United States Department of Agriculture said the inspector was a “North Carolina Education staff member conducting a review of the child care center.” He said a teacher “apparently was nervous during this state review and mishandled the situation.” That means it was a state employee, and a state issue.

He added that he thought the issue was resolved with an apology and that the parents were never charged for the nuggets.

The principal, Jackie Samuels, said he didn’t know anything about parents being charged that day for meals.

The state and school district refuse to identify the teacher, which is probably wise for the teacher’s safety. His or her name will eventually come out.

Actually, every agency as of earlier today says the inspector did not work for them.

Hence the phantom inspector and a possible coverup.

The red faced state has issued a followup. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) issued a statement: “We have determined that no employee of DHHS, nor the Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE) or its contractors, instructed any child to replace or remove any meal items. Furthermore, it is not DHHS’ policy to inspect, go through or question any child about food items brought from home.”

Jani Kozlowski, spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services’ children division, said the meal sounds like it would have passed the federal guidelines test.

District officials said the incident was more of a “misunderstanding.” If you will, what we have is a failure to communicate. Misunderstandings often occur when an adult is treating a 4-year old like a criminal.

Assistant Superintendent Bob Barnes said it was a misunderstanding. The official did not tell the child to replace her entire lunch, but to simply go through the line and get some milk. She simply misunderstood and replaced her entire meal.

“I think that the child became confused about what she had to do. I think that the child, for whatever reason, thought she had to go through the line and get a school meal which, that’s not our policy.”

He added “We are not the lunch bag police. But if we observe that a child who has brought their lunch is missing one of the key components of the healthy meal, we simply say, if it’s milk, here’s some milk, you may have it or not.”

Their strategy therefore is to project blame on the 4-year old, as innocent and sympathetic a complainant as you will find. That is unwise.

Grandma may have said it best “”Stay out of my kid’s lunchbox, or grandchildren’s for that matter.” She added the state should focus on academics.

Questions, questions, questions:

Who do you believe?

I have a plague in my office:

“I know you believe you understand what you think I said but, I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”

I believe the child. The phantom was way out of line.

The second question: Are the State and School Board circling the wagons? Does the District really think that by blaming a 4-year old that the issue will disappear. Was it a teacher, lunch monitor, cafeteria monitor, or whom? The agencies can’t get their stories straight.

Even if the story, as originally reported, is not quite the full story, the reality is that the state should not be inspecting home lunches.

The third question. If the District and State are concerned with healthy meals, why do they serve chicken nuggets?

How many bureaucratic agencies are involved with pre-school meals?

The final series of questions are “Why do we find the original Charlotte Journal story believable? Is it the present or an omen of the future?

Monday, February 13, 2012


Trust is a powerful word and an amazing construct.

Who do you trust and why do you trust them?

I was thinking about trust just before the grounding of the Costa Concordia off Tuscany. I had used several cabs in recent weeks. They all had been driven by Mid East immigrants with accents. I trusted them implicitly to get me from Point A to Point B without cheating on the fare.

Why do you trust someone you never met before and will never see again to transport you and your goods?

They’ve come to pursue the American Dream for them and their family. Why wouldn’t I trust them?

On the note of Mid East immigrants, I’ve had several first and second generation Persian-Americans in my classes in recent years. They’re pursuing the American Dream, and I’m not afraid of a Fatah or Jihad.

On the other hand many Americans are fearful of Muslims from the Mid East. Even Juan Williams gets a little nervous when he sees Muslims at the airport about to board his flight. Some Americans after 9/11 mistook Sikhs for Muslims. Others view Mormons, Christian Scientists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and seventh Day Adventists as cults.

I don’t trust people with such biases and prejudices.

We took a cruise to Alaska on the Holland American M.S. Veendam (owned by Carnival Cruise Lines as is Costa Cruises) a few years back. The Captain got up close and personal with glaciers, but we trusted his judgment.

I trust the pilots on every flight. Unlike some past generations, I think it’s great when a woman pilot is flying the plane.

I trust charter bus drivers, although at least one was drunk on the ride back.
I trust other drivers to obey the safety laws, but defensive driving is always in order.

I trust the food purchased in supermarkets and consumed in restaurants, even though e coli or salmonella may spring up.

Of course, trust is sometimes in short supply.

I had a colleague once, whose favorite phrase was “Ye may forgive, but ye never forget.” Trust until you have no reason to trust.

I trust sovereign nations to follow international law and treaties to the extent it suits their national interests. President Reagan had it right – “Trust, but verify.”

We trust the mainstream media, to a greater or lesser extent.

I also trust politicians to do right by themselves.

The Hippies of the 60’s said “Don’t trust anyone over 30,” but they’re all in their 60’s or 70’s now.

“In God We Trust” may be on our currency and serve as our national motto, but I don’t trust God as my co-pilot. God helps those who help themselves.

Banks may actually name themselves a “Trust” Company to instill trust, such as the late Bankers Trust, and they may reside in a fortress looking edifice, but I look more to the financials than the façade. Even then you cannot always trust the financials.

I mostly trust my banks and credit card companies, but I periodically check the statements on line.

Our insurance company in Massachusetts joined the exodus of major insurers out of the state. Our policies were transferred to a new insurer, Trust Insurance Company. It failed.

Some business relationships may instill trust to the point of a fiduciary relationship, but in general I do not fully trust auto dealers.

We trust our doctors, but often seek second opinions.

Certain prisoners become trustees, but we don’t necessarily trust them.

We trust our lover and kin, and those of our ethnicity, nationality, and religion, but sometimes, as with Bernie Madoff, we can be betrayed.

We engage in trusting activities without even thinking twice, such as handing our credit cards to hotel clerks and waiters, and our car keys to valets.

I trust contractors, electricians, and plumbers to not steal from our premises.

We trust people because we must in a civilized society.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Whitney Houston R.I.P.: But When Will They Ever Learn?

Chet Baker

Lester Bangs

John Bonham

Paul Butterfield

Brian Cole

Kurt Cobain

Dorothy Dandridge


John Entwhistle

Brian Epstein

Judy Garland

Lowell George

Bobbie Hatfield

Jimi Hendrix

Billie Holiday

Michael Jackson

Brian Jones

Janis Joplin

Robbie McIntosh

Keith Moon

Jim Morrison

Gram Parsons

Esther Phillips

Freddie Prinze

David Ruffin

Ike Turner

Sid Vicious

Dinah Washington

Dennis Wilson

Amy Winehouse

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Morning in America or halftime in America?

Morning in America or Halftime in America? Which Do You Prefer?

Chrysler followed up on last year’s Super Bowl ad “Imported from Detroit” with this year’s "Halftime in America," a moving testimonial by Clint Eastwood to the rebirth of American industry and Motor City. He went from “They almost lost everything” to “But we all pulled together. Now Motor City is fighting again.” Only at the end of the 2 minute spot do we learn it’s an ad for Chrysler.

It could easily have been a reelection ad for Obama, such that conservative commentators have been quick to question the ad as a reelection ploy for President Obama rather than a corporate ad by Chrysler.

Circumstantial evidence would certainly point to that theory. It extolled the rebirth of Detroit; that is, General Motors and Chrysler. The two had been rescued, actually seized, in bankruptcy by the Obama Administration. Control of Chrysler was then turned over to Fiat, essentially for free. Fiat and Chrysler owe a lot to the President.

Second, the top mad men in the advertising agency which prepared the ad have been major backers of the President.

The head of Chrysler denies it was intended as an Obama ad. The marketing manager of Chrysler denies it. The agency denies it. Clint Eastwood denies it; he is not a fan of the President. He may be losing his voice, but his mind is functioning fine. He would not be duped into making an ad for the President.

Let’s assume therefore it was not intended to help or pay back the President. It’s still a poor ad.

It’s a great feel good ad, but it’s a bad ad after a few minutes of reflection.
President Reagan’s 1984 reelection campaign theme was “It’s morning again in America.” – an optimistic picture of America, along the lines that our greatest days are still ahead of us. It highlighted on 59 seconds the rebirth of the American economy. It signaled the rebirth of America after the disastrous 4 years of President Carter. The always optimistic President Reagan told us the best was yet to come.

By way of contrast, Halftime in America means it’s half over; half the teams lose after halftime. Which half will be America and the Motor City? More Americans purchase Japanese and Korean cars than Detroit products.

That’s not really a positive message. Win or lose for America, it’s half over. Win or lose, America will be on a downward slide.

The ad mentioned the rebirth of the Motor City, but if so, why was it filmed in Los Angeles and New Mexico rather than Detroit?

Last year’s moving “Imported from Detroit” was also deceptive in that the featured car, the Chrysler 300, is made in Canada – not Detroit.

Chrysler’s new compact, the Dodge Dart, is but a rebadged Fiat.

Where’s the FTC with truth in advertising?

Friday, February 10, 2012

President Obama's Catholic Conundrum

The President’s Catholic Conundrum over mandatory contraception illustrates the anti-religion animus of the Obama Administration.

Don’t worry about the current polls. Even if the economy continues on its recovery, President Obama will find a way to self destruct because of his mind set. Maybe gas will shoot up to $5/gallon, Egypt become the next Iran, he’ll pull another Keystone Pipeline, Son of Solyndra will emerge, or he’ll misspeak on a critical issue even with the Bully Pulpit.

His current battle, not just with the Catholic Church, but with all religions over the mandated contraception requirement, is an example of an unwise and unnecessary battle he did not have to fight. His advisers and strategists may have thought posing it as a basic woman’s right is a winning political stratagem. They know that many Catholics ignore the Church’s teachings on contraception.

That’s the political thinking, but it’s tone deaf.

The Church may be irate with the mandatory contraception mandate, but co-religionists are concerned about the government dictating to all religions once it gets the camel’s nose under the tent. Contraception today, abortion tomorrow.

His new proposal to exempt the religious institutions, but to mandate the insurers to offer free contraception, is no solution or alternative. It displays economic ignorance: “Don’t worry; I have insurance.”

Insurance companies are not in business to give it away for free. Someone has to pay for the coverage, which ensures it will be built into the cost of the insurance. Both the employers and employees will share in the costs since the insurers will pass the costs on, which means the Catholic organizations will have to pay for contraception.

We know that there is no such thing as a “free lunch.” Why would there then be free insurance?

If contraception is so critical that it should be free, then why not health insurance itself? Shouldn’t restaurants or supermarkets then have to distribute free food to the homeless by the same reasoning? Could we require doctors to donate 20% of their practice to serving the poor? Why not force pharmaceutical companies to produce children's vaccines for free?

The Administration is as tone deaf on the contraception issue as Vice President Al Gore was on gun control. Polls show that Americans favor the President’s proposal for mandatory, free contraception. Of course, Americans would also favor free mortgages, rent free, tuition free, etc. if asked.

More significantly, most Americans, especially in urban areas, favor gun control. Al Gore was strongly supportive of gun control in 2000. Opponents of gun control, not just NRA members, are single issue voters. Al Gore lost the Presidency not because of Florida, but because he did not carry either Tennessee or West Virginia. Had he won either state, the Florida results would have been irrelevant. Gun control was the deciding issue in Tennessee, which was the Vice President’s home state. Gun control and his positions against coal cost him West Virginia. The Democratic Party has backed off from gun control since then. It recognized that the minority could out vote the majority.

So too with the President’s proposal! Catholics, as well as other opponents of contraception, will often be one issue voters. They may not be a majority of American voters, but they are a solid bloc that will vote when aroused.

The President’s conundrum is how to get out of a fight he did not need to pick.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Senator Santorum's Tuesday Trifecta

Senator Santorum’s Tuesday wins in Missouri, Colorado, and Minnesota changed the dynamics of the Republican campaign for President. He is now clearly the non-Romney candidate – a mantle Speaker Gingrich has been unable to wear.

The Speaker has been running as the true conservative, attempting to coax the Senator out of the race after South Carolina. Gingrich concentrated his efforts in Florida, only to be decisively defeated. He wasn’t even on the ballot in Missouri, and performed poorly in Colorado and Minnesota. Republican voters, the core of the Republican Party have been clear. They don’t want the Speaker as their nominee.

That leaves Senator Santorum, who is the most consistent conservative in the race. Congressman Ron Paul may be conservative on social and economic issues, but his national security views make Senator George McGovern look like a hawk.

Senator Santorum should have had momentum coming out of Iowa, but the initial returns showed Governor Romney with a 8 vote victory. The Governor received the boost and media attention out of Iowa. He then, as expected, won New Hampshire by a wide margin. Once again, Senator Santorum was neglected by the media, as he returned to his tortoise versus hare campaign.

The Governor and Speaker concentrated their sometimes vitriolic attacks on each other while the Senator quietly sailed through the rhetoric and has now won 4 states in the Midwest – 4 more than the Governor or Speaker. He won yesterday states that Governor Romney carried four years ago. Senator Santorum won in the heartland of America. That bodes well for November.

Colorado and Missouri were caucus states, but he won the Missouri Primary by 30 points over Governor Romney, 55%-25%. That is a landslide that sends shock messages through the campaign. It is a game changer.

He projects a warm, engaging presence versus the often robotic Governor and stridently negative Speaker. His course is steady while Congressman Gingrich veers from message to message, looking for the winning approach.

The Senator was helped on Tuesday by recent mistakes from Governor Romney and President Obama. Governor Romney’s comment, taken out of context, about not caring about the poor, was damaging to compassionate conservatives.

The President’s attack on the Catholic Church was politically stupid. It brought back President Obama’s campaign quip in Pennsylvania four years ago about small town workers: “And it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them, or anti-immigrant sentiment, or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” Both the Speaker and Senator are Catholics, but the Senator won the Catholic vote.

The Senator is about to become the latest Republican to receive the shots from the circular firing squad. He will survive.

The media will perversely aid his campaign by dumping on him. Their shock last night that a Senator who lost reelection 6 years ago by 18 points has no right running for President is but the beginning. They will have to do better than that to slow the Senator down.

2006 was a bad year for Republicans, as was 2008. Liberal pundits were celebrating the collapse of the Republican Party. The Democrats captured the House, Senate, and Presidency. They had a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. The future was theirs.

2010 was a dramatic rebirth of conservatism in America.

The question is who will carry it in 2012?

Speaker Gingrich is gunning for Super Tuesday in the South. He just spent 2 days campaigning in Ohio. He might as well say “Goodbye Columbus” as the momentum from South Carolina has failed him.

Senator Santorum is the conservative alternative in this year’s Presidential election.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Ford has No Sense of Humor

Ford Has No Sense of Humor

GM ran an ad during Sunday’s Super Bowl touting the Chevy Silverado pickup truck.

The Silverado ran a Mayan Calendar apocalyptic obstacle course of giant attack robots, meteors, and frogs falling from the sky. The Silverado made it to the end, but the Ford F-150 pickup fell by the wayside, as did the Twinkies. The inference is that the Ford is not as durable as the Chevy.

Ford’s attorney sent a cease and desist letter to GM and NBC on Saturday demanding that the ad not be run because it disparages the Ford pickup.

Obviously GM and NBC ignored the letter and ran the ad. GM claimed the ad was a joke.

The ad was funny and put Ford in its place. Or did it?

Ford F series pickups were the largest selling vehicle in the United States in January, rising to 38,493 trucks, up 7.5% from January 2011, while Silverado sales dropped 4.7% to 26,850 units. Ford is clearly winning the battle in the marketplace.

Maybe Ford was more upset with being associated with Twinkies, which are currently in bankruptcy. Ford never entered bankruptcy, unlike GM. Ford never stiffed its creditors, unlike GM.

Ford suddenly became sanctimonious for it started the ad wars last September. Unlike GM and Chrysler, Ford took no direct bailout from the government. It bragging rights over financial independence resonated with many Americans.

Ford ran an ad last September featuring Chris, a Ford customer, a real person. Chris said:

“I wasn’t going to buy another car that was bailed out by our government. I was going to buy from a manufacturer that’s standing on their own: win, lose, or draw.”
Ford withdrew the ads after 2 weeks, supposedly because of pressure from the White House.

GM, which is still controlled by the federal government, now runs an ad trashing its non-government competitor. That sounds more like Chicago Rules than Detroit.

Ford probably sees no humor in the double standard.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

46, 45, 44, 43 ..... When Will Newt Gingrich Get the Message?

46, 45, 44 …. When Will Newt Gingrich get the Message?

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich will go the extra mile in his quest for the Presidency, all 46 more states after Floria he said. Why? After Nevada it’s 45.

He is not going to win the GOP nomination for President.

His campaign peaked in South Carolina.

Even if we combine his 32% in Florida with Senator Santorum’s 13%, Governor Romney still outpolled them combined. Preliminary results from the Nevada Caucus are even more devastating – 50% Romney, Gingrich 21%. The former Speaker isn’t even in the race.

He lost in Florida to both the female voters and the male voters. That doesn’t leave much else. Children don't vote. The dead usually vote Democratic. He rolled Snake Eyes in Nevada.

Romney won New Hampshire which adjoins Massachusetts, his home.

Gingrich lost Florida, which adjoins his home state of Georgia.

February will be bad for him. He will stagger into Super Tuesday in March if he’s lucky.

He’s not even on the ballot in Missouri and Virginia. He could lose Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, and Ohio.

He won’t sweep the west like Governor Reagan did in 1976. Utah is a lock for Romney, as is Michigan in the Midwest.

If in the best of all possible worlds for him, no nominee is chosen before the Convention, then he is guaranteed to lose at the Convention. The consummate insider is disliked by the Party regulars. The delegates will not move to his cause.

Maybe Governor Romney is not the “true” conservative in the race, but neither is Congressman Gingrich. The Governor never made a promo, sponsored by Vice President Gore, with Speaker Pelosi on global warming.

Voters aren’t listening to his message. His cries of populism are the epitome of hypocrisy when he received $1.6 million from Freddy Mac. He’s leaving Las Vegas, hoping to appeal to NASCAR voters on Super Tuesday, if he makes it that far. Has he forgotten that NASCAR is headquartered in Daytona Beach, Florida?

Conservative Republicans should not demagogue capitalism. Presidential candidates should not “whine.”

"Fly me to the moon" is a song, not a campaign motto.

He who is without sin might be able cry “Liar, Liar” against a devout Mormon, but Newt Gingrich should not have Callista standing by him as he screams out against the Governor. It reminds voters of why they don’t trust him.

Is the candidate naïve, stupid, petulant, or arrogant?

Congressman Gingrich is a political genius. He must see the writing on the wall. So why is he soldering on? Why doesn’t he gracefully withdraw?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

President Obama Finds Jesus

President Obama Discovers Jesus

President Obama discovers Jesus at the National Prayer Breakfast in D.C.

So much for separation of Church and State, a cardinal principle of the left’s secular humanism.

Republicans quoting Jesus are often pilloried by the Left. Imagine the media outcry if President George W. Bush quoted the Scriptures in support of lowering taxes! Tim Tebow, Broncos quarterback is hammered by the media for his professed belief and thanks to God. Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, told a Times of London reporter in 2009 that he was a banker "doing God's work." That statement was universally reviled, even by those who do not believe that Goldman Sachs is doing Satan's work.

Having left behind in Chicago during the 2008 campaign the Liberation Theology of Reverend Wright, President Obama then turned to the new Gospel of Buffett and unveiled the 30% Rule. The Old Testament only talks in tithing 10%.

The President should have a teaching moment with his Vice President, a good Catholic. On adjusted gross income of $379,178 Joe and Jill Biden contributed $5,350 to charity in monetary and in-kind contributions. The Bidens’ eleemosynary spirit came to 1.5% whereas the Obamas, to their credit, claimed 14.2% in charitable contributions.

Governor Romney also contributed about 14% of his adjusted gross income to charitable organizations. Warren Buffett had adjusted gross income of $62,855,038, of which he claimed about $23 million in charitable contributions and state and local taxes.

The Disciples of St. Buffett in Berkshire Hathaway are fighting IRS claims for up to a billion dollars in past taxes. Thus the Gospel of Buffett is probably a Gnostic Gospel.

The President also had to back away from his favorite economic prophet, Corzine , formerly of Goldman sachs, who turned out to be a false prophet with MF Securities.

The President is citing Jesus to raise taxes. He quoted the Gospel of Luke “Unto whom much is given, much shall be required.”

When Jesus said “much shall be required,” he didn’t specify that it be to the government. The Romneys, Buffetts and Gates of America are very generous in donating to causes. That is voluntary, the spirit of volunteerism. They will pay in taxes that which the government requires, but no more. They will donate as they wish.

Let us note that while the President is quoting Jesus, his administration wishes to limit the charitable contributions of the affluent. Apparently it is unfair for individuals to decide to whom they wish to contribute since the State has a better idea of the deserving needy.

The Obama Administration is willing to bestow alms on the Solyndras of the world. Solyndra sounds like a name in The Holy Bible, but alas it is a false god of the greens. The President in his State of the Union Address professed his desire to double down on green energy, as if he were worshiping Ra, the ancient Sun God

The President, while citing Jesus as authority for coveting thy neighbor’s wealth, is attempting to force the Catholic Church and its charitable organizations, such as parochial schools, universities, hospitals, and charities, to offer free “all FDA-approved forms of contraception” in its health insurance plans. The Church would thereby be required to pay for contraception. Perhaps the only requirement that would be more abhorrent to the Church would be a requirement to provide free abortions.

The Administration is not speaking through Jesus for this divine inspiration but through The Food and Drug Administration, a human bureaucracy not mentioned in the Old Testament, New Testament or the Quran

Three weeks ago in an unanimous opinion the Supreme Court called the Administrations views on Church and State “extreme” and “remarkable.” The Obama Administration had backed a teacher at a Lutheran School who was fired after trying to return early from a disability leave for narcolepsy. The Court held the government cannot interfere “with an internal church decision that affects the faith and mission of the church itself.”

Clearly God speaks in mysterious ways to this Administration.