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

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Devil's In The Details

Just when conservatives were starting to warm to lose a few of their misgivings about Speaker John Boehner, he goes and does this:

Say.  It. Ain't.  So.

- - -

Knowing how this game is played, it's time I told you about ol' Gus.

I once worked for a man who was responsible for the company's "five-year plan."  His name was Gus.  Or, to the many fun-lovers and party-goers in the company - "ol' Gus."  Actually, he was a vice president and was in charge of one whole division of the company.  But he was generally recognized as being so incompetent that his primary job became - without the fancy title - "master of the five-year plan."

You might wonder how 'ol Gus got to be where he ended up.  You see, he'd been around so long that - as the saying goes - the company was built around him.  So he rose to a position of authority simply based on the fact that he'd been there, through thick and thin, forever.

That and the fact that he could tell the greatest jokes and draw the most laughter at parties.

Which also describes the attitude of those of us who had to accomplish that which ol' Gus concocted for our division of our fledgling corporation.  What a joke.

But this isn't so much about ol' Gus as it is about ol' Gus's "five-year plan."  In the years that I worked for the man, it was always that.  A five-plan.  With emphasis on the word plan.

His "plan," you see, was never implemented.  Nor was it really intended to be.  It was just "the plan."  A plan that he was constantly revising and submitting for approval from top management.  They too, I'd bet, knew ol' Gus's strengths and weaknesses.

I remember how proud he was when he'd his executive assistant would finish his latest revision.  I remember how nervous he was when he had to roll down and cufflink his sleeves, straighten his tie, put on his suit coat, slick down what was left of his hair, and take the elevator to the top floor of our headquarters building to meet with the big boys.  And present his five-year plan.

And grandiose plans they were.  Big sales increases.  Huge margin improvements.  Breathtaking achievements in expense control.  Cash flow out the wazoo.  And a projected balance sheet that would take your breath away.

Funny thing is, those projections never became reality.  The sales improvements and margin improvements and expense control improvements, etc. were always projected in the out-years.  In the in-years?  Sales sucked, margin sucked, expenses sucked, and cash flow?

Well, let it suffice for me to tell you that the company filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy.

I'm not here to blame ol' Gus.  He had a lot of help in achieving that outcome.  And, if memory serves, both he and I were gone from that company when it finally met its fate.

Had he still been around, though, I can imagine him still knocking out five-year plans that would take your breath away.  PowerPoint, dancing girls, and ol' Gus telling jokes.  What better way to run a company?

The point is, he could have run up any numbers he wanted to make up on that five-year plan of his.  They shared no relationship with the realities of the here-and-now.  They were pie-in-the-sky.  Numbers that were changed on a whim.

Which brings us to the federal government and the "debt ceiling" negotiations.

As some corporate executive might have written to ol' Gus those many years ago:

Memo to John Boehner:  Stop it.  We don't give a shit what you intend to do five or ten years from now (!).  We want to know what you are doing today that will affect tomorrow.  Tell us one more time that you are going to control spending someday and that you're going to get our house in order someday and you're fired.

A promise from a politician to cut the size of government many years from now is an affront.  And we consider it to be offensive.

Cut now Control nowReduce now.

I've been to this movie.  It doesn't end well.

At least ol' Gus, who these days is drawing a fat company pension and living la vita loca in Ft. Myers, was entertaining.

Quick, We Need More Affirmative Action!

I'm going to take an uneducated guess here and suggest that something ain't working:

It wasn't supposed to be like this. A government mandated and enforced racial quota system was supposed to "equalize" outcomes.

Maybe Obama's right. Maybe we should just seize the property of everyone who's "rich" and give it to the poor - starting with select minorities, of course - and we can do away with this ongoing disparity once and for all.

It worked for the Soviet Union. Right?

Like We've Been Saying For Years

It's not about some arbitrary "debt ceiling."  It's about government run amuck:
Deal or no deal? US downgrade looking likely
The Associated Press

New York (AP) — Could the U.S. lose its top credit rating even if a deal is reached to raise the debt limit? Market analysts and investors increasingly say yes. The outcome won't be quite as scary as a default, but financial markets would still take a blow. Mortgage rates could rise. States and cities, already strapped, could find it more difficult to borrow. Stocks could lose their gains for the year.

"At this point, we're more concerned about the risk of a downgrade than a default," said Terry Belton, global head of fixed income strategy at JPMorgan Chase. In a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Belton said the loss of the country's AAA rating may rattle markets, but it's "better than missing an interest payment."

Standard & Poor's warned earlier this month that there was a 50-50 chance of a downgrade, if Congress and President Obama failed to find a "credible solution to the rising U.S. government debt burden." S&P said it may cut the U.S. rating to AA within 90 days. Passing a $4 trillion agreement could prevent a downgrade, S&P said. [link]
One Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organization (NRSRO), Egan-Jones, last weekend took the lead and downgraded U.S. credit, because of its "concern about the high level of debt to GDP in excess of 100% compared to Canada's 35%."

Again, it's not about the debt ceiling.  It's about the debt.   Our rapidly growing debt.  An inferno that is fueled by out-of-control government spending.  The spending that Obama and his Democratic allies refuse to rein in.

Expect, if the government doesn't change course dramatically - and soon - that Standard & Poors and Moody will follow suit.

Expect too, when that happens, for Obama, his Democrats, and the press ... to blame Bush.

Come On, Newt

If you're going to come up with an excuse for having made that deeply troubling public service announcement with - of all people - the despised Nancy Pelosi in which you agreed with her that "we do agree that our country must take action to address climate change" that was sponsored by - of all things - former Vice President Al Gore's Alliance for Climate Protection, you surely can do better than this:
Gingrich regrets 2008 climate ad with Pelosi
By Michael O'Brien, The Hill

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) said Tuesday that he regrets making a commercial with then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on the need to address climate change.

Gingrich, who partnered with Pelosi while she was Speaker for the 2008 ad, said the spot was "misconstrued," and for that reason, he wouldn't do it again.

"I was trying to make a point that we shouldn't be afraid to debate the left, even on the environment," Gingrich said on WGIR radio of the 30-second television commercial. "Obviously it was misconstrued, and it's probably one of those things I wouldn't do again." [link]
Debate the left?  In what part of "we do agree" is there a debate?

Try this instead - the truth:

I made a mistake.  I apologize to all those supporters who thought I was more than just a slimy politician.

Protect Your Property Rights

News out of Pulaski, provided by a new organization that calls itself "Concerned Citizens For the Protection of Property Rights":
Pulaski County BOS "Livability Issue" is UNLAWFUL!!!

“Voter petitions for referendum elections!” was the response by the large turnout of New River Valley residents at last night’s Pulaski County Board of Supervisor’s meeting, held in the high school’s Little Theatre to accommodate the crowd of 200. Citing VA Code §24.2-684.1 and the need to replace the entire Board for abdicating their [sic] responsibility to gauge the far-reaching implications of encumbering Pulaski County by signing on to the NRV Planning District’s “Livability Initiative”, property rights activists pledged to begin Virginia’s version of recall proceedings. "We want local government to stay local," said one attendee. "Do we really need HUD, the EPA and DOT to tell us where to live and what to do?"

Rejecting NRVPDC Executive Director Kevin Byrd’s “vision” for the creation of “Rural Sustainability Hubs”--the end product of the region’s acceptance of a $1 Million Housing and Urban Development Grant—heated public comments continued for almost two hours largely in favor of opting out of the agreement.

“This is an unlawful agreement,” noted Pulaski County property owner, Catherine Turner. “At the June 27th meeting the Board could not even recall when or if they had signed the Partnership Agreement! Executive Director Kevin Byrd told a group of us from all over the NRV that the Board voted to join the Partnership in the May meeting—a conversation that we have recorded on tape. After obtaining the minutes of the May 23rd Board of Supervisors meeting, we confirm that is not true. What we have instead,” Turner continued, “is County Administrator Peter Huber’s signature on the agreement, dated May 3rd. That is not the same as a vote by our elected representatives.”

Noting that the US Constitution, the Virginia Constitution and the Virginia Code does not recognize appointees as having rule-making authority, members of Concerned Citizens for Protection of Property Rights repeatedly rejected the validity of the agreement during the Public Comments period. Openly contesting the County Administrator’s right to arbitrarily speak for the voters, the group vows to call for his resignation.
More to follow ...