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

Thursday, December 04, 2008

America, Welcome To Our World

Closed Manufacturing Plant in Bland, VA

While America's largest manufacturers - GM, Ford, and Chrysler - capture headlines as they claw and scrape to remain afloat, folks here in Southwest Virginia look on with the kind of understanding that only years of experience can bring.

Michigan finds itself to be hurting. Here it's a way of life.

GM is talking about closing plants. Mack Truck, Ethan Allen, Celanese Acetate, Johnson & Johnson, Lear Corp., Dan River, Tultex, Spring Ford Industries, National Textiles, Buster Brown, Natalie Knitting Mills, American of Martinsville, Virginia Glove, Virginia House Furniture, Lea Industries, ArvinMeritor, Alcoa Wheels, Rowe Furniture, VF Knitwear, Vaughan Furniture, Webb Furniture, Burlington Industries, Renfro, Hooker Furniture, Bristol Compressors, Stanley Furniture, Dana Corporation, Thomasville Furniture, Sara Lee Branded Apparel, Bassett Furniture Industries, and Pulaski Furniture have been there - and done that.

Now, add to that list that dates back to the late 80's ...
Hundreds of layoffs on horizon
By Duncan Adams and Jeff Sturgeon, The Roanoke Times

Four companies stretching from Bedford to Wytheville are looking at layoffs involving more than 400 workers starting early next year, with as many as 300 of those jobs imperiled by the drastic drop in U.S. auto sales.

The companies are all in the manufacturing sector, including auto parts, furniture and packaging. They come in the wake of an additional 220 recession-related layoffs across the region in November.

Acument Global Technologies ... eliminating 162 jobs.

Intermet Corp., ... 140 people.

Frank Chervan Inc. ... about 90.

Shorewood Packaging ... said 45 workers will lose their jobs. [link]
Congress is in high dudgeon over GM's plight. Billions will be spent to save those breathtakingly lucrative UAW jobs.

Meanwhile, down here where no one in Washington gives a damn ...

Out Of Control

That's an odd headline considering the fact that the U.S. Treasury is trying to seize total control of the mortgage sector. But, in fact, the effort - the latest scheme - is destined to make America's financial problems worse. And prolonged.

What are we doing?
Treasury Weighs Action on Mortgage Rates
By David Cho, Zachary A. Goldfarb and Dina ElBoghdady, Washington Post Staff Writers

The Treasury Department is strongly considering a plan to intervene directly in the mortgage industry to dramatically force down rates and stimulate the moribund housing market, according to sources familiar with the proposal.

Under the initiative, the Treasury would offer to buy securities that finance newly issued loans for home purchases, according to the sources. But to participate in the government's program, mortgage lenders would have to set exceptionally low interest rates, for instance, no more than 4.5 percent for traditional, 30-year fixed-rate loans. [link]
Here's how this plays out: Those banks that are on the ropes and need an infusion of cash will take up the government's offer. Just before they fail. Those banks that are still healthy will ignore the offer. The leaders thereof know they don't need any more bad mortgage paper on their books.

The end result will be that the government will flush another hundred bil down the crapper. And we'll go to Plan G. And the federal deficit in 2011 will be 2 tril.*

For the love of God.

- - -

* Gorge Will: "Whatever else historians will say about Washington's response to today's crisis, they are not apt to say the government did too little. It certainly has not suffered the fate of Buridan's ass, the animal in a philosophic puzzle who, placed equidistant from two piles of hay, starved to death from indecision. Some Washingtonians can remember when the federal government first had a budget of $100 billion (1962); this year's decisiveness might contribute to a deficit next year of $1 trillion."

We Need The World Community On Our Side?

George Bush was roundly criticized early on for wanting to go it alone in the fight against global terrorism. John Kerry made it a cornerstone of his 2004 campaign. He was going to bring America's allies into the fight against Al Qaeda.

When one reads things like this, one wonders why:
German soldiers deemed 'too fat to fight'
By Thomas Coghlan, Times of London

First they were accused of not wanting to fight. Then they were blamed for failing in their main mission to train the Afghan police.

Now Germany’s battered military reputation has received a further humiliating blow. According to official reports the 3,500 troops in northern Afghanistan drink too much and are too fat to fight.

A German parliamentary report has revealed that in 2007 German forces in Afghanistan consumed about 1.7 million pints of beer and 90,000 bottles of wine. During the first six months of this year 896,000 pints of beer were shipped to German forces in Afghanistan. British and US bases in the country enforce a strict ban on alcohol.

The report, published in March, concluded that the Bundeswehr lived on beer and sausages ... [link]
Let's see ...
I think ol' George had it right.

Well, Another Campaign Pledge Down The Drain

For those of you who bought Obama's line (along with hook and sinker) during the presidential campaign, shame on you. You were warned that he was making it all up as he went along:
Obama shelves oil company tax after price fall: aide
By Jeff Mason and Tom Doggett, Reuters

Chicago/Washington (Reuters) - President-elect Barack Obama is not planning to implement a windfall profit tax on oil companies because prices have dropped below $80 a barrel, an aide said on Tuesday.

"President-elect Obama announced the policy during the campaign because oil prices were above $80 per barrel," an aide on Obama's transition team said. "They are currently below that now and expected to stay below that."

Oil prices have fallen from a record $147 a barrel in July to under $50 this week.

Obama, who signaled early in his campaign for the White House that he would take an active approach to oil markets as president, had planned to use the revenue from a windfall profits tax to fund a tax rebate for low- and middle-income families struggling with high energy prices. [link]
So what happens now to that "tax rebate for low- and middle-income families struggling with high energy prices"? Uh, well, that has changed with the times too. Sorry.


UAW Concessions - Too Little, Too Late

It's April, 1945. The Soviet Red Army is assaulting Berlin from three sides with 56 divisions of shock troops, and 1,500 T-34 tanks. The Allied army, made up of battle-hardened personnel, with morale soaring, mass along the Elbe River for a final push into the heart of Germany that will, if successful, bring Nazism to its knees. The once-mighty Wehrmacht is a shell of its former self, with conscripts made up of the elderly and the very young, along with poorly equipped foreign fighters forced into military service, disorganized, short of ammunition, and unable to rally.

Adolf Hitler, realizing he needs to do something in order to stave off certain defeat, comes up with a plan. "I'm going to be conciliatory. I'm going to give Paris back to them," he tells the few remaining members of the press that have gathered around him. "That should convince them that I am launching a new path to peace." The reporters scribble his words in their notepads as bombs shake the walls of Hitler's bunker and plaster falls from the ceiling.
U.A.W. Makes Concessions in Bid to Help Automakers
By Bill Vlasic and Nick Bunkley, The New York Times

Washington — The United Automobile Workers union said Wednesday that it would make major concessions in its contracts with the three Detroit auto companies to help them lobby Congress for $34 billion in federal aid.

At a news conference in Detroit, the U.A.W.’s president, Ron Gettelfinger, said that his members were willing to sacrifice job security provisions and financing for retiree health care to keep the two most troubled car companies of the Big Three, General Motors and Chrysler, out of bankruptcy. [link]
Gosh. That's big of him.

So you know, those "job security provisions" that Gettlefinger refers to involve requirements that the Big Three automakers pay thousands of workers not to work and the offer to "sacrifice financing for retiree health care" is actually an offer to only postpone payments to funds that cover the hundreds of thousands of UAW retirees. Not to reduce or eliminate them.

Gosh. That's ... big of him?

A few days later, Russians entered Hitler's bunker complex and found the charred remains of Der F├╝hrer, his wife, and his closest confidants in a fire pit. In his hand, Hitler was still clutching the offer of peace.

Side-Splitting Funny

Did you ever want to get back at a telemarketer for disrupting your life? Take notes:


Click on the arrow to activate.

A Muddleheaded Mindset

As is the fashion in academe these days, the campus library at the University of North Carolina is banning the display of Christmas trees at Christmastime for the first time ever. The reason? Well, you can guess the reason. Showing a preference for one religion over another, and all that.

But the explanation provided by the UNC aadministrator is both devoid of good sense and completely lacking in judgment. Not to mention it's asinine. Appallingly so:
UNC libraries to forgo Christmas trees
By Eric Ferreri, Charlotte Observer

For as long as anyone can remember, Christmas trees adorned with lights and ornaments have greeted holiday season visitors to UNC Chapel Hill's two main libraries.

Not this year.

The trees, which have stood in the lobby areas of Wilson and Davis libraries each December, were kept in storage this year at the behest of Sarah Michalak, the associate provost for university libraries.

Michalak's decision followed several years of queries and complaints from library employees and patrons bothered by the Christian display, Michalak said this week.

Michalak said that banishing the Christmas displays was not an easy decision but that she asked around to library colleagues at Duke, N.C. State and elsewhere and found no other one where Christmas trees were displayed.

Aside from the fact that a UNC Chapel Hill library is a public facility, Michalak said, libraries are places where information from all corners of the world and all belief systems is offered without judgment. Displaying one particular religion's symbols is antithetical to that philosophy, she said.

“We strive in our collection to have a wide variety of ideas,” she said. “It doesn't seem right to celebrate one particular set of customs.” [link] [my emphasis]
Assuming this isn't a case where Christianity is being singled out for ostracism while other religions are celebrated openly on campus, and in the library - not an unusual circumstance in this mixed-up age we live in - this is what this nitwit is saying:

"Libraries are places where information from all corners of the world and all belief systems is offered without judgment, so I've made the judgment to ban all information relating to all religions from all corners of the world and all belief systems." In her library. On a campus of "higher learning." In the year of our Lord 2008.

"We strive to have a wide variety of ideas" by not allowing a display that might convey one.

Where do they get these people?

A Fair Question

I used to say that any potential sex partner who costs more than a hamburger and a glass of wine is overpriced.

Kiddingly, of course.

Now, seriously, what's up with men who feel the need to go out and pay for sex? Researchers want to know:
Why Do Men Buy Sex?
By Nikolas Westerhoff, Scientific American

• A considerable proportion of men worldwide buy sex from female prostitutes, with most estimates of lifetime prevalence ranging from 7 to 39 percent, depending on the country and study. Many experts argue that it is a male appetite—and not the choices of prostitutes—that fundamentally drives the sex trade.

• Men’s motives for buying sex are hotly contested among researchers. Some believe the practice serves as a salve for common psychological afflictions, such as an unfulfilled craving for sex or romance. Others, meanwhile, paint a dimmer portrait of johns, believing they are driven by chauvinistic motives, such as a desire to dominate and control women. [link]
I dont' have a clue as to what the motivation is except that, when young, males find it to be something of an adventure. But the thought that guys actually feel the need - or desire - to go out and pay for sex with potentially diseased strangers escapes me. Especially since so much of it is offered free for the taking these days.

A mystery ...