Bloated Rhetoric and PR Sinks the Big 3 Bailout

This bailout of the Big Three automakers is not an easy issue, and their flying in three seperate private jets is just part of the problem. Americans will take this hit, including the unions and including the notion of both jet pooling, carpooling and a commitment to mass transit. This is an opportunity Bush will shrink from, as have the Dems, so far.


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

I am reminded of those dancing hippos in Disney’s Fantasia. Everyone is dressing up nice, flying on their fanciest corporate jets, puffing themselves up before the camera. Congressmen, Titans of failing industry, Senators, Talk Show babblers, Union Leaders. It’s all a dance with far more attention to the drama than to the facts of the issue. Will a bailout help America? Isn’t that the most basic issue here? It seems much less the focus today than that a potential candidate for President in 2012, Mitt Romney, has come out against the bailout in the New York Times. This has become far more a PR and political event than a rational and steady examination of the economic advantages and disadvantages, as far as I can tell.

On the PR side, the Big 3 Execs should certainly have jet-pooled to the hearings in Washington. Oops! Tres stupide, non? We just got out of an election where the word “elitist” is being thrown around like confetti and the boys from Detroit each take their own private jet to DC? Hey, don’t get me wrong, I believe in companies using private jets. I am the son of an executive and I flew on those jets with Dad for several years, at least a half dozen times. I have no problem with the use of private jets, but GOOod GOD, MAN, FIRE YOUR PR PEOPLE NOW! Mr. Wagoner, Mr. Mulally and Mr. Nardelli, get a clue.

How about those bloated salaries? Do you think, Mr. Wagoner, that it is unfair of we who you are asking for a handout ask about your pay? (Forbes rates it around $14MM last year.) Mr. Mulally? ($21.7MM in 2007.) As far as creating a little tiny bit of goodwill in front of Congress and the Senate is concerned, these guys should have opened with a description of plans already underway for scaling back pay of executives, including themselves. They did not, but instead showed up in a phalanx on private jets. That PR blunder is overshadowing the issue, and part of delivering a message is managing such distractions.

More bloviation comes from the Senate, where Harry Reid is passing the buck to George Bush and to a GOP proposal. Hey, Bush has got the cash now in that $700BB bailout package they don’t seem to be spending, and he’s still in charge. There aren’t two Presidents at a time, after all. Bus will do the sensiblwe thing, right? Can you say “Heck of a job, Pausony?”

This is a debacle in the making with no easy solutions. The potential impact is devastating, whether we go through bankruptcies for the Big Three or whether we bail them out. The State of Michigan could go under, we could lose millions of jobs, and inaction or the wrong action could trigger a deep depression. Or so the bloviating is warning us. It’s time for a steady hand, and that hand we elected doesn’t enter office until January 20th. But let me suggest a solution.

Someone should take charge. The salary and pension structure at the Big 3 is the problem, and if there is a bankruptcy, then the Big 3 would be able to bargain hard for concessions. Bankruptcy has its perils, however, in that people likely won’t buy cars from companies in peril, as they are worried about warranties and the like. Bankruptcy is rightly seen by the automakers as the first step towards collapse. Whoever takes this by the horn needs to offer a way to keep the auto companies viable for the long term, and that means massive UAW concessions. Nope, that’s not going to make the unions happy, but it is reality. It’s time to mandate a government controlled reorganization tied to a bailout, a reorganization tied to cuts in pay and pension reform for the entire auto industry. If this means an equity stake by the government, just as we now have one in much of the banking industry, then so be it.

Bold? You betcha! Politically risky, since it stomps on the unions like a bug? You betcha! But let’s look at some positives about the US Auto Industry. JD Power’s evaluations of the quality of the cars themselves are as high as they’ve been in a long time. The productivity of American auto workers is high, though their salaries be bloated. What is needed here is a plan that addresses costs for the auto industry both short and long term, that addresses the need to turn the industry radically towards energy efficiency and new energy technologies, and that injects buying power into the hands of American consumers. Only government action can do such a thing, and only bold government action.

I imagine at Barack Obama headquarters, where today they are focused on Janet Napolitano, our soon-to-be Secretary of Homeland Security. It is time for Barack Obama to call up Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman, investment genius Warren Buffet, and the rest of his stellar economic team and ask what the bold plan should be, the nuts and bolts of it, and then take that plan to the people. I can hardly blame Obama if he does not push this hard, given that he is not President yet, but it seems to me that the time is here for action, and nobody trusts Bush. This one will ultimately be in Obama’s hands, so maybe it is time to act now so that Bush and the GOP don’t dig us a deeper problem.

Hey, check that out. A confirmed liberal, I just proposed a plan that smacks the unions hard and blames Democrats in Congress for passing the buck. Of course, I also blame the Republicans for ineptitude. Still, this is not a partisan issue. It is about our entire country potentially going into a depression, not a mere recession. That means drastic action, guided by the smartest men and women out there, needs to be put on the table and now.

Thursday, November 20th, 2008 by Steven Reynolds |

Hillary Clinton Accepted the Secretary of State Position?

Could it be that Hillary Clinton has accepted the role of Secretary of State? The Guardian is reporting the story, and is the first to claim the scoop. It is possible they are wrong, but Obama surely wishes to get this position in place soon. If true, this move will change our stance in the world for the better, and I applaud the move.


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

It’s being reported only in The Guardian, so far as I can tell, so this might not be real news. Still, Barack Obama said on the 60 minutes interview the other night that he wanted to get his National Security team in place soonest, so we all expect the announcements for those positions to come soon. Maybe the Guardian has it right? Here’s their story:

Hillary Clinton plans to accept the job of secretary of state offered by Barack Obama, who is reaching out to former rivals to build a broad coalition administration, the Guardian has learned.

Obama’s advisers have begun looking into Bill Clinton’s foundation, which distributes millions of dollars to Africa to help with development, to ensure there is no conflict of interest. But Democrats believe the vetting will be straightforward.

Clinton would be well placed to become the country’s dominant voice in foreign affairs, replacing Condoleezza Rice. Since being elected senator for New York, she has specialised in foreign affairs and defence. Although she supported the war in Iraq, she and Obama basically agree on a withdrawal of American troops.

Clinton, who still harbours hopes of a future presidential run, had to weigh up whether she would be better placed by staying in the Senate, which offers a platform for life, or making the more uncertain career move to the state department.

ABC News is reporting that the chances of Hillary Clinton being named to the post are improving, but nowhere else is there a story like that on the Guardian where it says she has accepted the position. Bill Clinton, of course, has endorsed the move, as have Henry Kissinger and Jon Kyl.

I personally favor making use of Hillary Clinton, who is talented and who knows the international ropes. For me it is not a consideration of keeping one’s enemies close, nor even the notion of building a cabinet of rivals. We need talent, top notch talent, in every area of government. Hillary qualifies.

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008 by Steven Reynolds |

McQueeg, McWhacked, McCain to Be Slapped By GOP Lawsuit

Those are not my names for John McCain, but introduced by whack jobs on the right. They are applauding a Republican legal attack on McCain-Feingold, clearly a reaction to losing on the field of ideas. Repubs used to think they had winning ideas, and surely ideas is where they need to focus for reform, not that they will do so.


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Until just over a week ago John McCain was the darling of the Republican Party. He was their leader, and was applauded even when making decidedly poor decisions, such as the appointment of Sarah Palin as the GOP Veep nominee. That has changed. In a slap in the face to McCain, the Republicans have now filed lawsuits to gut the McCain Feingold Campaign Finaince provisions. Here’s the article from the Washington Times:

The Republican Party will file federal lawsuits Thursday seeking to overthrow the McCain-Feingold federal campaign finance regulations, Republican National Committee Chairman Robert M. “Mike” Duncan revealed Wednesday night at a private dinner with the nation’s Republican governors.

The move is considered a slap in the face of the Republican Party’s failed 2008 presidential candidate, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who was dramatically outspent by Democrat Barack Obama, and of President Bush, who signed McCain-Feingold into law in 2002.

“We will bring two federal suits tomorrow to strengthen the Republican Party,” Mr. Duncan told The Washington Times.

Mr. Duncan said one suit will be filed in the District of Columbia to strike down the soft-money ban that is the central tenet of the McCain-Feingold Act – formally known as the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002. “Soft money” is largely unrestricted contributions from wealthy individuals, corporations and labor unions.

The second suit will be in a Louisiana federal court to strike down the limits under the law Mr. McCain co-sponsored with Sen. Russ Feingold, Wisconsin Democrat, that control coordination between parties and their candidates.

Where do I get those names “McQueeg” and “McWhacked” in the title? Well, from the Republicans over at Free Republic, of course. They’ve turned on McCain and they are currently saying far worse about him than the Democrats ever did. So far there are 41 members of that cesspool of the internet commenting on this issue, and the ugliness is pretty overwhelming, so be careful if you go over there.

As to McCain Feingold, it seems pretty clear that it needs a bit of an overhaul. I’ve not thought enough about the issue to figure what that overhaul will be. But I know one thing for sure, that if the Republican challenges get to the supreme Court they can count on Roberts and Thomas and Scalia to reverse course and claim that the campaign finance reform is unconstitutional. That’ll be a partisan vote based on the state of fundraising at the time the SCOTUS hears the case, at least on the right wing side of the court.

All that said, I think “McQueeg” is a nifty name for the failed Republican candidate for President. Perhaps there will be a revival of the play and McCain can play the role for real.

Thursday, November 13th, 2008 by Steven Reynolds |

Joe the Turncoat and Harry the Indecisive

Spineless Dems strike again. This time it is Harry Reid, who should have brought the hammer down on Joe “the Turncoat” Lieberman long, long ago. There was no obligation that Lieberman support Obama in the election, but there was an obligation that he not attack Obama. This after Obama campaigned for Lieberman in his tight race.


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Harry Reid called Joe Lieberman into his office today to talk about Joe’s behavior lately. Let’s just say not any of us Democrats has been pleased with Joe’s attending the Republican Convention and speaking out against Barack Obama. Let’s call him “Joe the Turncoat” for the purpose of this little piece. And Harry? We could call him “Harry the Reluctant,” or ” Harry the Weasel,” or maybe “Harry the Unforcer,” but I think I’ll go with “Harry the Indecisive” for my purposes today.

OK, Harry Reid didn’t make any decisions yet about what to do with Joe the Turncoat, and that’s what’s got me peeved so far. This is a slam dunk for anyone with a set. (Maybe that’s the new name for Harry Reid, “Harry the Stoneless?”) Here’s how they report it in the New York Times:

“No decisions have been made,” Mr. Reid said. “While I understand that Senator Lieberman has voted with Democrats a majority of the time, his comments and actions have raised serious concerns among many in our caucus. I expect there to be additional discussions in the days to come, and Senator Lieberman and I will speak to our caucus in two weeks to discuss further steps.”

Harry may be indecisive, a quality I do not want as my leader in the Senate, but the Connecticut Democrats will likely censure Joe the Turncoat. Hey, maybe one of them can do Harry the Indecisive’s job? Oh, it’s really too early for me to complain about Harry the Indecisive right now, as he’s presiding over a lame duck Senate, but please, would SOMEBODY stand for election against him? Hey, Hillary Clinton, why not you?

What kills me on the coverage here is that Joe the Turncoat seems to think he has options, or at least that’s the lead in a lot of these stories. The AP has Joe “Mum on his Future,” as if he should have a say about his future int he Democratic Party. The New York Times has Lieberman pretending he has some control in the matter:

“I’m thinking about what my options are,” Mr. Lieberman said.
Mr. Reid issued a statement notably lacking in warmth in which he called the meeting “the first of what I expect to be several conversations.”

I suppose, as Reuters suggests, “keeping all options open” means Joe the Turncoat just might become a Republican. I’ll support that move.

No, Lieberman should have no say, and even if he promises to behave, he shouldn’t be believed. This is not just a Democrat voting his conscience and supporting someone on the other side. Joe the Truncoat had a hard fought battle himself a while back against Ned Lamont. Here’s Stan Simpson at the Hartford Courant about what Joe the Turncoat did then:

The irony of Lieberman’s embrace of McCain, Democratic operatives here in Connecticut tell you, is that Lieberman begged – BEGGED – Obama to come to CT last March to help Lieberman in his race against upstart Ned Lamont. Obama obliged and gave the keynote speech at the Dems’ Jefferson-Jackson-Bailey dinner.

Lieberman later showed his gratitude by stabbing Obama in the back and essentially joining the Republicans in trying to defeat the Democrats.

Look, Joe the Turncoat can’t be trusted anymore. Let him hang out with John McCain from here on out. They can sit on the front porch and practice yelling “GET OFF MY LAWN together or something. But let’s take away his key to the Democratic Cloakroom. It is time Harry the Indecisive make the right decision and ditch Joe the Turncoat. Frankly, it’s time the Democratic Caucus replace Harry the Indecisive.

Thursday, November 6th, 2008 by Steven Reynolds |

The 2008 Wake – Waiting For The Sea To Change

Many elections are bittersweet. 2008 was no exception. While celebrating Obama’s historic election, California voters were dashing the dreams of LGBT children throughout the world. Today, they doubt voters will ever grant an LGBT candidate the same defining moment of acceptance.


Commentary By: Daniel DiRito

When we’re young, life is immeasurable and expansive. As we leave the coddled confines of our childhood, it is the equivalent of the snail emerging from its protective shell to explore all that exists in the grand garden of life…eager and idealistic…hopeful to a fault in the absence of unforeseen obstacles and disappointments…unaware of the protective nature of the domicile we depart.

My journey began in 1976 as I graduated from The Abbey School. Two years prior to my graduation, I made a decision I recall announcing in our kitchen to my mom, “I won’t be the valedictorian of my class…that’s not what’s important to me…but I’m going to win the Sullivan Award”. I can’t even say exactly how she reacted though I believe it was part surprise and part puzzlement at such a specific pronouncement. Once she absorbed my statement, she observed that grades weren’t everything and, by and large, left it at that.

The Sullivan Award was given at graduation to the high school student who contributed the most to student life during their four years of attendance. While an esoteric achievement, it fully symbolized my sense of community and my unyielding belief in the promise of humanity. On a warm summer day in front of the towering monastery…as a member of the esteemed 50th graduating class…in the centennial year of Colorado’s statehood and the bicentennial year of this nations existence…I received the Sullivan Award…and all was well in my idyllic world. My dreams had come true.

In a few short months, while attending college, I cast my first vote for Jimmy Carter and life was my oyster. Much to my dismay, little else would measure up for many years to come. Aware of my homosexuality, but determined to suppress it, I decided to quit college after three years and return home to work with my dad and his brother.

On the surface, the decision had the appearance of a considered choice, but in retrospect, it was motivated by my fear that should I remain in college, the opportunities to pursue my orientation would overwhelm my hesitations and preclude the remainder of my smoldering dreams…not the least of which was the political arena and the fanciful notion that the presidency was within the realm of possibilities.

In hindsight, my actions had little to do with choice and everything to do with being a Catholic raised in a small community where the thought of being gay struck my psyche as nothing more than a perceived and fully unacceptable pathology…the kind that not only precludes one from social acceptability…but most certainly eliminates any fanciful ideas of the presidency.

Yes, the little boy of five (who vividly remembered every detail of the assassination of John Kennedy…including the faces of those he encountered as he entered Safeway with is father after having heard the news on the radio)…and the boy of 10 (who watched every speech and every primary in the candidacy of Robert Kennedy…including anxiously getting up early in the morning to see if he had finally been declared the winner of the California primary…only to realize he was dead)…and the teenage boy (who watched the Watergate hearings with an intensity reserved for a member of the prosecution…up to and including the moment when Richard Nixon…the antithesis of his idealism…finally boarded a helicopter and released the presidency from the egregious grip of corruption)…had by the age of 21 found himself feeling as if fate had stripped him of his dreams.

Four years later, following countless hours of contemplation and with the realization that I had now lived a lie for a quarter of a century…I met a man and fell in love. Soon after, I allowed myself to accept my sexuality, announced it to my family, and on the spur of the moment…on a summer afternoon…with my relationship with my family in ruins and all that remained of my seemingly shattered life hastily tossed in a pickup truck…I moved to Denver.

Ever the idealist, abundantly na–¯ve, and convinced that acceptance…or at least some simulation thereof…would undoubtedly come by affiliating with other homosexuals…I jumped headfirst into being gay. Unfortunately, doing so while attaching oneself to a lover is apt to end up being little more than an act of misguided transference. Should one be unlucky enough to choose, in haste, the wrong partner or the wrong affiliations, the process of separating oneself and completing the task of attaining a sound and self-sufficient identity can appear to be an insurmountable struggle.

In retrospect, it’s terribly saddening that gays…during the coming out process…the moment they most need support…are often required to summon a strength they most likely lack in order to accept and understand the rejection they encounter from those they love. Toss in the abject scorn that much of society heaps upon homosexuals and you have a rather rancid recipe unlikely to bake an ebullient and unencumbered identity.

(more…)

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008 by Daniel DiRito |
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