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Thursday, March 10, 2005

I'll Bet They're Disappointed

I thought it rather troubling that so many people in the media accepted the line that the family members of a Chicago judge were murdered last week by friends or associates of a right-wing racist who had been sent to prison by that same judge.

Not that I care about right-wing racists. But it seems I read somewhere about a presumption of innocence. Perhaps I'm wrong.

Anyway, it turns out that another individual who was holding a grudge left a suicide note that apparently reveals his having killed the judge's husband and mother. From Reuters:

Man Says He Killed Chicago Judge's Family

By Michael Conlon

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A man who committed suicide after a traffic stop left a note and other evidence indicating he killed the husband and mother of a federal judge in Chicago, but the case is not closed, police said on Thursday.

There is "plenty of information out there pointing to this individual as the offender," Chicago Police Superintendent Phil Cline told a news conference. The note the man left in his van indicated he was in the judge's home on the day of the Feb. 28 killings and he was among a number of people due to be questioned in the case, he added.

But Cline cautioned that the note alone "is not definitive evidence that we have our offender." He said it would be "premature" to implicate the man, Bart Ross, though other unidentified physical evidence found in his van also pointed to him as the murderer.

Ross, 57, shot himself in the head after he was stopped on Wednesday evening in a Milwaukee suburb for driving a vehicle with tail lights that were not working. (link)

It is going to be tough for some to relinquish the original story. It played so well into their stereotypes. White supremacist. Female judge. Harsh prison-time. Brutal revenge killing. Public outcry.

Shoot, I still see a made-for-tv movie in it. Oprah Winfrey as the judge. Little Richard plays her wheelchair-bound husband. Michael Moore as the white racist. And we'd need a gay guy. For some reason. Hmmm. This could be big.

Environmentalists Turn Out In Force

Every person on the planet who ever wanted to own a General Motors EV-1 electric car turned out in Burbank to show their support. It seems that GM is going to destroy the last of the vehicles now that the leases on all 700 that were manufactured have run out. A story in the Washington Post:
Enthusiasts discovered a stash of about 77 surviving EV1s behind a GM training center in Burbank and last month decided to take a stand. Mobilized through Internet sites and word of mouth, nearly 100 people pledged $24,000 each for a chance to buy the cars from GM. On Feb. 16 the group set up a street-side outpost of folding chairs that they have staffed ever since in rotating shifts, through long nights and torrential rains, trying to draw attention to their cause. (link)
That's right. All 100 enthusiasts showed up to express their interest in a vehicle that proved to be extremely costly, inefficient, and a nuisance to any lessee who had a good distance to travel. Oh, and they were God-awful ugly.

But you gotta love these people anyway. They won't give up on a cause they feel is just.

Then again, there are a lot of nuts out there too.

Weakness At The Top

What does it say about a major corporation when it wants to sell off its core business but wants to hold on to a spinoff? I think it says the people at the top making the decisions shouldn't be.

Toys "R" Us executives are attempting to do just that. From the Wall Street Journal this morning:
Hurt by discounting by such big broad-line retailers as Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Toys "R" Us's management initially sought to separate the squeezed toy unit, which represents about 80% of its sales, from the more-prosperous baby-goods store. The company also has a joint online toy-retailing venture with Amazon.com Inc., and owns 48% of Toys "R" Us Japan, which wasn't previously on the block. (link requires subscription)
Toys "R" Us stores are performing poorly. Babies "R" Us stores are doing well. So sell off the former and keep the latter? How about if you fix the former?

Interested investors aren't buying it either.
An investment group including Cerberus Capital Management LP has proposed buying Toys "R" Us Inc. outright as an alternative to the company's plans to split off its toy-retailing business, say people familiar with the matter.

The Cerberus-Goldman-Kimco group also offered to make an outright purchase of the whole company at the same time, arguing it made no sense to separate toy retailing from the company's other units, including its Babies "R" Us chain, in part because the units share operations such as warehouses.
I agree. But the whole thing makes no sense to me. I think the current shareholders would do well to find them some top management that will do what they are paid to do - solve problems, turn a profit, and maximize stockholder equity.

Living in The Twilight Zone

Some days I read the op/ed page of the New York Times and just shake my head and chuckle. Where are these people coming from? Are they as foolish as they sometimes make themselves appear?

Today's glowing example: Putting Last Things First
We had hoped, when Mr. Bush was re-elected, that he'd rethink his goals once the next campaign was no longer an issue.
They must be kidding. President Bush ran on a platform that was diametrically opposed to everything these people espoused, won handily, but was expected by them to change his ways and start governing the way they presumed John Kerry would. Is this a joke?
There are so many critical problems facing the nation. But the president seems determined to ignore the biggest challenges and to home in on politically charged side issues.
Let's see. the president is attempting to solve the ever-growing problem with social security - a problem that every president since Jimmy Carter expressed concern about but none did anything to fix. He's fighting a war on terror that began in the Bill Clinton years but was conveniently ignored, only because it was "politically charged." He's transforming the Middle East as no president before him has. He's working to gain energy independence from foreign countries. And he's fighting to have the tax code simplified, and maybe provide us with much-needed tax relief in the process.

I don't remember reading this kind of complaint when Bill Clinton was chasing Monica Lewinsky around the Oval Office with his pants down around his ankles. "Ignore the biggest challenges" indeed.
When we look at problems that cry out for White House involvement, one that leaps out is our dependency on foreign oil. That not only leaves us hostage to some of the shakiest and most unappetizing oil-producing nations around the globe, but also threatens the entire economy over the long term, given that rising oil prices make the trade deficit even bigger and the dollar even weaker.
Watch for these same geniuses to start howling about the fact that the president has put forth a proposal to solve this problem, solutions for which include our drilling for oil in ANWR (finally) and for the construction of new nuclear power plants. Not only is their complaint disingenuous on its face - the president is working on the problem - they don't really - in their heart of hearts - want him doing anything about the energy problem. Every viable solution ignores their desire for windmills and solar panels.

Another huge economic threat, at least for some agricultural regions, is the growing international pressure to end our irrational subsidy program for crops like cotton.
What? A huge economic threat? Stop. A political problem to be sure. But a threat? Please stop.

Here's my take on this. This piece is so silly, so poorly considered, so detached, that I can come to only one conclusion. Affirmative action, as you are probably aware, has been a "pressing issue" at the New York Times for many years. We are witnessing here the obvious - and inevitable - results. When a company starts hiring people for positions based on their skin color or on the reproductive appendages they possess, or on their sexual perversions, rather than on their talent and capability, they end up with what the New York Times has ended up with.

Gail Collins and her crew are incompetent and are - as exemplified by this article - totally out of their league.