Saturday, February 25, 2006

My brother will be sad...

81 year old Don Knotts dies.

From the Dallas Morning News (have to register).

Dubai, Dubya, Dubai, Dubya


Katrina vs. FEMA vs. Wal-Mart

Dr. Edwin Feulner, president of The Heritage Foundation, has written a column on the efficiency of one of my favorite corporate demons: Wal-Mart. The context is a short comparison of the company and FEMA (and, impliedly, state and local government emergency management teams). If you read Dr. Feulner’s article, there is a part that is a bit was the Chicago city council that refused Wal-Mart which is why it opened its new store in Evergreen Park.

His first main point:

"One key reason for Wal-Mart's success, Jackson said, is ‘associates who are dedicated to their communities.’ That local connection helped it deliver goods when government failed. As Investor's Business Daily reported in September, ‘While local and federal groups suffered communications problems and bickered over who was in charge, Wal-Mart sprang into action.’"

Of course the local connection helps; that should surprise no one. First-hand local knowledge and personal incentive will always be great tools for first responders.

His second main point:

"And while Chertoff admits Katrina caught the government flat-footed, Wal-Mart is always ready. In his book ‘The World is Flat,’ New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman wrote, ‘The minute Wal-Mart's meteorologists tell headquarters a hurricane is bearing down on Florida, its supply chain automatically adjusts to a hurricane mix in the Florida stores [Scooter’s emphasis].’ That means plenty of non-perishable food and critical items such as generators appear in stores even before disaster strikes."

I know that I shouldn’t have underestimated the folks in Bentonville and the efficacy of capitalism, but that astounds me. Is this done out of altruism? Certainly the local folks would be trying to help, but as to "management," Wal-Mart critics would say no. Assuming the critics correct, so what? Get the job done.

"Headquarters" making the call means that the corporate equivalent of former FEMA Director Brown made the supply chain adjustment. Why the better results from an equally centralized entity? Why does Wal-Mart have more effective plans in place? Motive is the difference. The market rewards its owners for its company’s management’s planning and the implementation thereof. The owners, in turn, reward management. How hard is that?

This isn't a post against FEMA or a call to privatize it. Of course we need it. This is just a pat on the back to one of the planet's greatest corporate monsters.

Btw, Wal-Mart has meteorologists?

Friday, February 24, 2006

Re: DB

Krauthammer still not sold either but offers his Meiers solution while outlining what is still the scariest part of all this:

"The greater and more immediate danger is that as soon as the Dubai company takes over operations, it will necessarily become privy to information about security provisions at crucial U.S. ports. That would mean a transfer of information about our security operations —— and perhaps even worse, about the holes in our security operations —— to a company in an Arab state in which there might be employees who, for reasons of corruption or ideology, would pass this invaluable knowledge on to al-Qaeda types."

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Re: DB

I repeat myself. I think we've all leapt when we should have looked.

Q: Does anyone believe that Bush isn't interested in our nation's security? Borders, you cry. I don't know. I do know that homeland and our military looked at and approve this deal.

DB and Logic and Feelings

Just have to say that I'm violating almost all of my most personal beliefs on this issue.

I'm a firm believer that I should not rely on my NOTORIOUSLY bad feelings and that all my decisions should be made on logic. I'm relying entirely on my feelings on this issue. How can we possibly be considering this?

This especially flies in the face of my thoughts on Economics and the influence of Capitalism in influencing other gov'ts see the light...see China and India.

Re: DB

Appears everyone jumped the gun, for different reasons. The Dims because they saw it as a way to get some homeland defense cred and Rethugs because, on it's face, its seemed suicidal. Looks like everyone is wrong and BUSHMcCHIMPHITTLER was right.

Re: Law of unintended consequences

This is a great example of the Law. Liberal lawmakers, who dislike Wal-Mart, decide it needs to spend more on health care for it's employees. Nice lib sentiment but exactly the wrong result.

Mona Charon's recent book is full of this stuff. Good intentions, or worse, politically expedient motives, can and do lead to disastrous results.

Best Pro DP World Argument I've read, but...

I'm still agin' it.

It's a thorough and fairly long article...about 20 paragraphs, but anyone who can work in references to Kipling and Maugham deserves to be cited.

From James Glassman at Tech Central Station and the American Enterprise Institute:

"Using Schumeresque logic, the U.S. should ban flights into the U.S. by airlines from Arab countries, and we should certainly bar any cargo from being loaded in Arab ports and bound for the U.S. ("If you are worried about a bomb in a box going off in New York, you need to worry about who loads the container overseas rather than the terminal operator who unloads it in the U.S.," says someone who actually knows something about port security, Theodore Price of Optimization Alternatives, a Texas company that provides terminal-operating software.) In fact, one would suppose that Dubai, with billions at stake, would be more careful -- not less -- about assisting in anti-terror activities at U.S. ports if it is actually operating them."

Re: I like my "brighter."

George Will from today's Jewish World Review on the happiness of conservatives:

"Begin with a paradox: Conservatives are happier than liberals because they are more pessimistic. Conservatives think the Book of Job got it right ("Man is born unto trouble as the sparks fly upward"), as did Adam Smith ("There is a great deal of ruin in a nation"). Conservatives understand that society in its complexity resembles a giant Calder mobile —— touch it here and things jiggle there, and there, and way over there. Hence conservatives acknowledge the Law of Unintended Consequences, which is: The unintended consequences of bold government undertakings are apt to be larger than, and contrary to, the intended ones."

Professor Alan Dershowitz

If you didn't catch him on Hugh Hewitt yesterday, be sure to read the transcript on Radio Blogger today. I'm not sure the tone of the discussion comes through in the transcript but it was really nice to hear how civil the discussion was.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Re: Issue 4

I don't read blogs (well, not until recently), so my comment is based upon what I hear on the radio. Rush, Laura Ingram, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved, etc. almost always use the term "liberal", not Democrat. Conversely, most of the hosts on Air America use the term "conservative" instead of Republican. The reason(s), well, I have two:

1) From the time I became politically aware (18,19?) until several years ago, it was always Democrat/Republican and not liberal/conservative because there was no need to label - everyone knew which was which. But, when the hate from both sides began (Rush?), the labels were/are used as a term of spite, of hatred, of disdain.

2) The other, more conspiritorial reason, is to make a greater distinction between the 2 parties (the gap between liberal - conservative is a much wider one than that between Democrat - Republican). Honestly, is there really such a big difference in the garbage we send to DC? The rhetoric certainly sounds different, but the results we get aren't. I don't pay attention to what they say, I try to pay attention to what they do, or don't do and how they vote. Hillary, the darling (for reasons so totally unknown to me) of the Democrats, talks one way, but seems to vote an entirely different way.

I think that there are small factions in each party that fit the extremes - but the vast majority of the public and the vast majority of the elected fools we send to DC are much closer to each other than they want us to think.

Conservative, liberal, conservative Democrat, liberal Repulican, Democrat, Republican - they are all the same.

Issue 4

This one is pretty interesting. I know this has been covered by better men than me but I'm too lazy to find to look for it. Two not-original ideas. Does "Liberal" feels dirty because it is? See here.

OK, that's not a real response (and it doesn't have a number two) but I'm done for the night.

Issue 3

No. No you don't.

Re: Needed laugh and Bush II economic policies

I appreciate and have lived to an extent LJ's situation and know it isn't fun. Having said that, I hope this will be taken in the strictly analytical meaning in which it is intended.

A business's goal (providing maximum return for its owners) is usually in line with the goals of its employees and its customers. I mention employees and customers because they are the two constituencies most closely associated with the company's owners. Often, perhaps most of the time, their interests overlap. Clearly, if customers and employees are not happy with the company, there will be some negative repercussions to the owners' profits.

Occasionally, and increasingly often in a time when technology is advancing more quickly than ever before and a time of globalization (sorry, that's not going to change), those interests diverge.

Suppose a company has a contract terminable at will (as this contract was, notwithstanding the promises at annual reviews, however unfair and morally wrong those broken promises may have been) to obtain anything at $X. The company can later obtain the same resource necessary to provide its product to its customers at $X-$1.00 and therefore, ultimately, provide an increased return to its owners, does that company not have an obligation to to terminate that contract...all other things being equal? (I recognize that employee-owners would argue that all other things in this situation are NOT equal...that situation requires those employee-owners to handle the situation by carefully monitoring the situation and voting in the management that agrees with them. I also acknowledge that in the situation being discussed here...a virtual impossibility with such a huge business entity...but that is the risk run when working for an entity over which one has no control.)

LJ's most revealing comment: "All they have done is gotten rid of American employees (with American salaries, American benefits and American retirement plans) and hired people in other countries (and given them a much lower salary, very few benefits and I can only imagine what type of retirement program they get)."

Well, yes...that is precisely what they have done. And folks are lining up for those jobs in India (in my example) and elsewhere (at least for these white collar jobs) precisely because they are much better jobs than those available from their local employers. American worker suffers and Indian worker profits. American investor/owner and American customer also profits and therefore have more capital to invest or spend. The unemployed suffers, at least temporarily, while s/he determines where her/his value/intellect/skills are better utilized.

Reluctantly resorting to over-used blue collar example: Do we really want to protect the jobs of the the horse drawn carriage manufacturer at the expense of the convenience of the automobile? No, the person who upholsters the carriage seat needs to learn how to work the assembly line in Detroit putting the upholstery on the car. Thank heaven the white collar skills are much more adaptable.

Is the American aspect of this thing really what is so important? Isn't that what we heard in the 70s and 80s so often in connection with the auto industry? How many foreign car manufacturers now employ Americans, in the USA...Toyota...San Antonio? Now, in the energy industry, I can make a national security argument for no foreign outsourcing but that is an issue to be addressed by legislation or shareholder revolt.

Do hope this is taken in the spirit intended.

Issue 2

I don't know all of them or actually very many. The ones I listed are the most outrageous and therefore most fun to read. Although Kos himself can be out there, it's his commenters, as well as those at DU, that provide the really wild stuff. By the way, I learned about these sites from conservative blogs. Conservative bloggers read these sites to see what the other side is up to. That being said, I think there is a tendency for conblogs to focus on the nuttier stuff and paint all liberals and/or Democrats with a wide brush. Just as Pat Robertson (often and wrongly cited by the MSM as the standard-bearer for the religious right) does not speak for me as a Christian, I know that DU and Kos do not speak for most Democrats. I'm troubled when conblogs point to some of the crazy stuff and say "Look what those nutty libs/Dems think about so and so."

I also read lib sites to check myself: Have I really switched sides or not? Without fail I find myself scratching my head, wondering "What I was thinking all those years?"

This is for another time, but two short observations. Liberals for the most part (in my experience) are not haters of America, as I read on so many consites. Even Rush, who should know better, spouts this crap. Second, libbloggers are much more profane and less civilized that conbloggers. One more. Before my conversion, my idea of a conservative was that of a dumb, mean, rich white guy just trying to make himself richer on the backs of the rest of us. I've been astounded by the depth of thought, the self-examination, the real curiosity about ideas, ethics, morals, etc. that cons have considered and do consider. I never experienced that on the left; it was just unexamined dogma posing as a political philosophy.

Issue 1

No "leftie" in this dictionary.

Re: Bush II Economic Policies

Ok, the sarcasm part...I understand and that's fair and fun. Glad I understood. I think Bush the Younger is the better term, btw.

Re: Bush Policies

I promise to jump in here but had a thing last night following my worst day at the office in a long, long time.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


I like my "brighter."

Re: Bush

Don't want to disturb you LJ, but that's how I started. Feeling I had to support something I didn't. It will eventually wear you down and you will realize there is another, and brighter, way.

Re: Needed laugh and Bush II economic policies

Now I'm NOT being sarcastic. Improve the bottom line, are you kidding me?? My ex-employer was recording record earnings every quarter for the last 2 to 3 years I was there. How much more did they need to improve the bottom line?? And "outsourced" is a term used by those of us losing our jobs, but technically, they weren't. They were moved to another country, but still being done by employees (newly hired of course) of the company. Thus, said company can say publicly (though not 1 word in any print media that I have ever seen has mentioned what is going on at said company) that they haven't cut any jobs. Which is true. All they have done is gotten rid of American employees (with American salaries, American benefits and American retirement plans) and hired people in other countries (and given them a much lower salary, very few benefits and I can only imagine what type of retirement program they get). But I guess I should consider myself lucky - I got a severance package. I heard from a friend yesterday that another group (in Houston) is having 127 of the 147 positions moved overseas and that NO packages will be offered. There is some loyalty for you.

And speaking of loyality, the reason that I, and my fellow workers, had the idea/ideal that we were employees for life is because we were told as much. Even up to the time that we got the announcement about our work location, I was told in my annual review (like I was told in every one) that as long as my performance remained where it was, I would retire at said company.
Guess it was my fault I actually believed them.

And finally, about "maximum return for investors". When the big guy came to announce what was going to happen, he took questions and answers. During his spiel, he repeatedly used that phrase..."we are doing what is good for the stockholders"....."we are doing what is best for the investors"...yadda, yadda, yadda. So when Q&A rolled around, I asked him a question. My question was something along the lines of...

"Can you tell me exactly which stockholders you are looking out for? Because, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that everyone in this room, everyone here that is losing their job, is a stockholder and while I don't pretend to speak for them, I would doubt that many of us think this is a good thing. I can tell you that I am a stockholder and I don't think that whomever made this decision was looking out for my best interests."

He didn't like my question and dismissed it by saying to me that the company looks out for all stockholders equally. Yea, right.

Re: Bush II Economic Policies

I was being sarcastic. His policies had nothing to do with it. But, as the resident Democrat, I felt I had to uphold the Democratic mantra and blame him. He is such an easy target.

Re: Needed laugh and Bush II economic policies

There's lots here but quickly: LJ: You've been my good dear (Scooter: back off the Brokeback references) friend since eighth grade. I was as upset as anyone when ["your company" - I can't recall if you've named it so I've changed my original post] did what it did.

However: You seem to be coming from an idea (ideal?) that once hired you were an employee for life. I can see why you might think that. Your mother (at said-company) and my father (at Texaco for 35+ years) were examples of how the big oil companies used to employ people for life. You got caught on the short side of the old days.

Said-company outsourced your job to improve the bottom line. That's its mandate: maximum return for its investors.

Now: I'm out of my area and I'll let Scooter clean up my droppings.

Re: Bush II Economic Policies

Precisely which policies caused the outsourcing? (If you were just being sarcastic, I apologize.)

Re: "Closet-leftie"

Well. There's so much here is tough to know where to start. It seems to me you've raised the following issues:

1. Is it "leftie" or "lefty?"

2. Why do I know "all" the lefty sites? (LJ is referring to Kos, DU, and Willis, to which I referred him after he said he didn't read very many blogs, being new to the blogosphere. I assumed he would just reject out of hand what he might read, at say The Corner or Hewitt, so I referred him to sites he might find more in line with his thinking. (His statement about not reading blogs came in response to my email to him and Scooter that we ought to put sites on our blogroll and start the process of reaping all the crazy blog money.))

3. Do you like punctuation as much as I do? (Not actually raised by LJ but a fair inquiry nonetheless.)

4. Scooter's point in the comments: What's wrong with "liberal?" The folks at Kos and DU are proud to use the term. You seem to think it's tainted.

5. Do I read the lefty sites just to see what they are saying or for some other reason?

6. Why are the Dims blue (re "true blue Democrat")? I've always thought they should be red and Rethugs blue. (I think the answer is that some network (MSM, grr) at some point in the not-too-distant past arbitrarily chose those colors for its map during coverage of a presidential election. Anyone? Bueller? (Might as well reference it since I had to look up the spelling.)

7. (Subtext of #5 and the big issue.) Has Michael, after being a lifelong, steadfast, and vocal liberal (sorry LJ, that's the term), caved into peer and/or profession(?) pressure and now claims insincerely that he is a conservative because that is now the mainstream, i.e., the "safe" thing to do/be?

OK. That's a lot of typing for me. LJ (or Scooter) if you read this before I get back to it, tell me where I've misinterpreted LJ.

Needed to have a laugh today

First, to give some background. I am a victim of the Bush II economic policies - my job was outsourced to a foreign country in 2004 and, to date, I have been unable (despite the supposed rising employment rate) to find a job. Maybe if I move to the UAE, become a citizen of that country, then get a job overseeing a US port I can get a job - anyway, I digress...

I lost out on a job yesterday (came down to myself and another applicant) so I was a bit depressed. Needed something to cheer me up. And thanks to a fellow SSJ'er, I had my laugh this morning. One has to laugh, because if you don't, then you have to focus on the types of leaders we have these days and what they are, or aren't, doing in DC.

from Democratic Underground

Is a fellow SSJ'er a "closet-leftie"?

This person seems to know all the Democratic-leaning blogs and news sites (I refuse to use the the term "liberal" like all the right-wing radio hosts use). He obviously reads them (and I'm sure will say he does so just to see what they are saying). And, he used to be a true blue Democrat. One wonders if this whole move to the right is just "going with the flow"- going with the mainstream. I think that deep down, he still is one of "us", but due to peer and profession pressures, he is hiding it. Enquiring minds want ot know....