People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Friday, November 28, 2008

When The Courts Decide ...

... on cultural issues best left to the people to sort out, we all lose.

The Wall Street Journal on California's Prop 8:
[W]hen courts usurp the role of the people, they inject cynicism and bitterness into America's body politic. In his dissent in Casey v. Planned Parenthood (1992), Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia put it this way: "[B]y foreclosing all democratic outlet for the deep passions this issue [legalized abortion] arouses, by banishing the issue from the political forum that gives all participants, even the losers, the satisfaction of a fair hearing and an honest fight, by continuing the imposition of a rigid national rule instead of allowing for regional differences, the Court merely prolongs and intensifies the anguish."

Plainly this is what we have seen with abortion. With the latest intervention by the California Supreme Court, it is beginning to look the same for same-sex marriage. How much healthier our politics would be if those so convinced of the rightness of their views would have equal faith in the decency of their fellow Americans -- and their openness to being persuaded by clear, fair and honest argument.

"Gay Marriage and the California Courts," November 25, 2008

Automakers Need a Bailout?

Only some, it seems:
VW building Tenn. assembly plant during hard times
By Bill Poovey, The Associated Press

Chattanooga, Tenn. -- With huge dirt movers shaping the site of Volkswagen's $1 billion assembly plant at Chattanooga, Europe's largest automaker says it has no regrets about announcing its arrival as an American employer in hard times.

"We have stuck with our goals of growing our sales in the U.S. market," Volkswagen AG spokeswoman Jill Bratina said. "This plant is critical to that."

Since Volkswagen announced plans to build the plant in July, the global economy has been deflating. Following the housing, credit and financial crises in the U.S., the possible collapse of General Motors Corp. or Chrysler LLC would likely drag down some auto suppliers and manufacturers of steel, aluminum, electronics and plastics.

Volkswagen AG spokeswoman Jill Bratina said the company is "absolutely not" having any regrets about the timing of the Chattanooga plant. Volkswagen is also building assembly plants in Russia and India. [link]
So how is it that Volkswagen is expanding while Detroit is imploding? Well, the simple answers are that VW ain't Detroit. And VW ain't building cars in Detroit.

There's also this that needs to be understood:
Kia Motors Corp. plans to open an assembly plant at West Point, Ga., in 2009, and Toyota Motor Corp. said earlier this month that it is sticking with plans to open its new plant at Blue Springs, Miss., in 2010. They'll join other foreign automakers like Nissan Motor Co., Honda Motor Co. and BMW AG that have opened plants in the South.
So "U.S. automakers" are doing just fine. At least some. It's only those in the heavily unionized North that are on the brink. The question is, do we start subsidizing a segment of the auto industry that is failing when the industry as a whole is humming along? Apparently. The Democrats are in charge.

This is so wrong.

When Gov't Starts Designing Cars ...

... we end up with this:

The "Schumer-mobile"

Welcome to the USA, 2009.

Charles Krauthammer:
Even more egregious will be the directives to a nationalized Detroit. Sen. Charles Schumer, the noted automotive engineer, declared "unacceptable" last week "a business model based on gas." Instead, "We need a business model based on cars of the future, and we already know what that future is: the plug-in hybrid electric car."

The Chevy Volt, for example? It has huge remaining technological hurdles, gets 40 miles on a charge and will sell for about $40,000, necessitating a $7,500 outright government subsidy. Who but the rich and politically correct will choose that over a $12,000 gas-powered Hyundai? The new Detroit churning out Schumer-mobiles will make the steel mills of the Soviet Union look the model of efficiency.
"From Market Economy To Political Economy," The Washington Post, November 27, 2008

A Most Pessimistic View

Two distinguished gentlemen from the Brookings Institution argue in this morning's Wall Street Journal that the plight of the Big Three automakers is beyond any help that a Washington bailout might provide, or even that Chapter 11 bankruptcy might bring. They are calling for a short-term stimulus and ... liquidation:
Detroit Needs a Selloff, Not a Bailout
By Robert W. Crandall and Clifford Winston

Congress was decidedly unimpressed by the three domestic auto makers' plea for a bailout last week and responded by asking them to do the impossible: conjure up plans by Dec. 2 detailing how a bailout would revive them.

After more than three decades of denial about their long-term decline, Detroit's car companies must now face the facts. A bailout will not revive them. Moreover, the leading alternative that has been proposed by others -- bankruptcy -- will not re-energize these companies sufficiently to reverse their decline.

In our judgment, based on experience elsewhere in American industry, the most constructive role the government can play at this point is to provide a short-term infusion of capital with strict repayment rules that will essentially require the auto makers to sell off their assets to other, successful companies.

Why is such a dramatic step necessary? For the unavoidable reality that the fundamental problem the auto makers face is not their pension, health-care or other legacy costs. It is that they are not making cars and trucks that enough Americans want to buy. And this has been true to some degree since the first energy shock hit the U.S. in the early 1970s. [link]
It's gotten that bad.

I hope these fellas are wrong and GM, Ford, and Chrysler are able to get back on track, but I've seen no willingness on the part of either management or the UAW to make the sweeping changes necessary to put the less-than-Big Three back on the path to profitability. I think all concerned are now hoping for massive government subsidies in perpetuity.

Are we ready for permanent government ownership of America's once-premier automakers? The average American, based on what I saw on election day, doesn't care at all.

See the photo above and be worried. Very, very worried.

Didn't This Get Old a Long Time Ago?

Where's this guy been? The war in Iraq is over:
Army deserter seeks asylum in Germany over Iraq

Frankfurt (Reuters) – A U.S. soldier who deserted his unit to avoid returning to Iraq has applied for asylum in Germany, saying the Iraq war was illegal and that he could not support the "heinous acts" taking place.

Andre Shepherd, 31, who served in Iraq between September 2004 and February 2005 as an Apache helicopter mechanic in the 412th Aviation Support Battalion, has been living in Germany since deserting last year.

"When I read and heard about people being ripped to shreds from machine guns or being blown to bits by the Hellfire missiles I began to feel ashamed about what I was doing," Shepherd told a Frankfurt news conference Thursday.

"I could not in good conscience continue to serve." [link]
My guess is, Andre has other issues he's dealing with. Because this excuse he's come up with is a pathetically weak one.

Personally, I think the Germans should keep him.

What Are They Thinking?

What makes the geniuses at NBC think that anyone is interested in anything that that cow, Rosie O'Donnell, says or does?

Genius, meet reality:
NBC's Rosie O’Donnell variety show disappoints
By James Hibbard

Rosie O'Donnell gave NBC a real turkey.

The network's attempt to revive the primetime variety show failed to draw an audience Wednesday night, tying for the evening's lowest-rated program.

A mere 5 million viewers tuned in for the 8 p.m. premiere of "Rosie Live," with the program earning a 1.2 preliminary adults 18-49 rating. The telecast matched ABC's recently canceled "Pushing Daisies" as the night's lowest-rated program on a major broadcast network.

"There's a notion that the climate is right for the genre to make a comeback," emailed one executive at a rival network. "I guess we now know what not to do, thanks to Rosie." [link]
Rosie O'Donnell is right up there with Roseanne Barr for the title of least liked woman in America. And NBC, in its wisdom, gives her a show of her own.

Is it any wonder she failed and they're struggling?