Tuesday, July 1, 2014

GM and Shareholder Value

GM screwed the quality pooch for years.  How many millions of cars have been recalled this year?  For years and years, GM management, upon being notified that little things such as ignition switches might fail and kill people, nodded and did nothing.  Why did they do nothing?

Were all those administrative sycophants evil followers of a CEO hell bent on killing customers?  Nah, not at all.  It's much simpler.  They were sycophants alright, but they were following other masters.  I have a feeling that mangers and in GM and other companies which have increasingly produced crap have done so because of Wall Street's analyst's obsession with shareholder value.

If you buy into the bullshit that shareholders own the company and it's thus the duty of managers to make the current share price as high as possible today, then as mangers you will cut every corner you can to cut costs and appear to be worth more that you are and goose up share price.

GM should have gone Chapter 7 in 2008.

Did you enjoy Vietnam?

If you did, you may be able to revisit all those warm and fuzzy feelings elicited by needless war.  No, we're not reviving that mess.  We have a new old one in Iraq to motivate rattling of sabers by our octogenarian hawks.

We left the Iraqi needless war.  The Iraqis wanted us out, period.  They've run their own show and now have a bit of a problem.  Since we left,  the Shia have done to the Sunnis what the Sunnis formerly did to the Shia.  Now the Sunnis have proceeded to returned a ISIS tit for the Shia tats.  The Kurds of course despise both groups and show their feelings by taking over a few cities for themselves in their domain.  The "government"  needs some help and we seem hell bent on returning troops.

Didn't dear old Nam begin with a few here, a few more there and before long we had 600,000 troops in that needless waste?  Obama has sent in a few more.  What will happen when the first one dies?

Obama authorizes 200 more troops for Iraq

There really isn't an Iraq.  It is the outgrowth of Europeans carving up the desert after WWI and saying "voila, let their be nations!"  The "nation" contained folks who'd been and still are killing each other over religion since Mohammad died in the seventh century.

Can they make it work?  Nah, they can't do much together at all--Iraq’s parliament fails to agree on formation of new government. What should we do?

Well, let's begin by getting all Americans out of that shithole, blow up the embassy, and let the Iraqis have at each other until their kill their way to a stable group of new states.  I can see what Biden proposed emerging from the blood bath--Shia, Sunni and Kurd.  Of course that assumes they can agree on a way to split the oil revenue.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Well they were dead broke

Hillary Clinton paid $300,000 and Bill Clinton paid $250,000 for UCLA speeches


I have never understood non-voters.   Their behavior makes no sense to me at all.   If we go across all elections, I think we probably wind up with less than 40% voting on average.  I think I'm being generous.  At 40%,  it means the person who gets 1/2 +1 wins the election.  A 50% win is reasonable, but remember it's 50% of 40% or 20% who will make all the laws and regs.  It's 20% deciding how they and the 80% remainder will live our collective lives.

Did you vote in 2000 and 2004?  I did, but I certainly did not vote for the Shrub.  I was in the losing 20%.  What about the non-voters?  What can I say about them?  Well, by not voting I assume every damn one of them loved every action that Bush took.  They didn't actively vote for him, it's a passive vote for whomever wins.  Yep,  20% of us voted to avoid having a plant for Prez.  We lost.  The voters and non-voters, 80% of you, elected a plant, not once, but twice.

Oh, that means that 80% of us love Obama and everything he's done and will be doing.  I voted for him twice.  Come on, he's a Dem.  The only people who can seriously complain about Barry are the one who voted for him or the other guy, Willard something or other.  I disagree with Obama on some matters, but I support his presidency.  Votes matter, they elect folks and give voters complaining rights.  Non-voters can just be silent.  Votes do matter, did you ever imagine what a Prez Palin would be like, assuming McCain had won and dropped dead.  

Non-voters, by their inaction, mindlessly support whomever wins any office in their locality, State, District and Nation.  All they can do is cheer the winners on.

Sounds Interesting

Here's a book review you may find of interest.  I'll probably buy this one and read it along with Piketty's book on income inequality.

Book review: ‘Our Declaration,’ by Danielle Allen

Then again, it may not matter if we're well on the way to extincting every bloody bit of living things on the planet.  Did you miss "The Sixth Extinction" by Elizabeth Kolbert?  From stardust to stardust a bit too soon perhaps, but we will all return to our origins, stardust.  

Friday, June 27, 2014

Clinton in 2016?

I'm one of those Pew solid liberals.  I have a feeling most solid liberals are also yellow dog Democrats--if it's a Democrat I'll vote for it, period.  If Clinton gets the nomination, she has my vote, she's a Democrat.  However, if Elizabeth Warren entered the race, then I'd vote for her.

Who would win the proverbial hearts and minds of Democrats who vote in primaries?  Remember Obama bested Clinton in '08.  Given the state of inequality in the nation, I think a solid bit of progressive populism would be better than the Wall St bullshit that Clinton offers.

Bear in mind, about everything that Obama said and implied in 2008 that attracted liberals has fallen by the way.  He failed to be even 10% of what he could be.  There are days I do wonder if the guy really is a Democrat.  Clinton, like Obama,  will say a lot of good stuff for liberal ears to hear.  If we accept her at her word, we'll just be Obamafied again.  Even so, she's better than anyone the Trogs will put forward to lead the nation back to 1850.

I'm in a minority how do you feel about Ms. Clinton and 2016?

  Liberals and Hillary, sitting in a tree. V-O-T-I-N-G.

I don't get it

I don't understand the Clinton appeal.  I do not get it.  Giving an hour speech is worth $200,000?  Come on, unless someone has hired him as "entertainment" whose presence on the bill increases the gate at some gathering, it's a joke, well paid, but a joke.  Someone is making showbiz style money or this is how we do quid pro quo these days.

I guess it's not a bad gig if you can get it (helps to have been Prez.).

How the Clintons went from ‘dead broke’ to rich: Bill earned $104.9 million for speeches

Thursday, June 26, 2014

College Debt

I didn't incur any debt when I went to college.  The GI bill really helped along with working for the University.  I have been a bit unsettled by the today's numbers.  Of course the the attention getter is the very large average dollar figure.  I've wanted to see a bit more on who gets what debt and how it's paid off.  If, like me,  you have wondered a bit about student debt, here's a good piece to read.

Good news if you have student debt: It gets better

Self centered, self-righteous pricks!

Who?  Oh, the conservatives that abound in our new confederacy (GOP).  Think not?  Well I am perhaps a bit biased, I am, per the Pew quiz a solid liberal.  Read the piece, shake your head a bit, and take the quiz.  What are you?

More than three quarters of conservatives say the poor “have it easy”

I've never met a "poor" person who had it easy.  I've never wanted a life of poverty.  I kind of figure the Trogs just like to have poor people around so they can feel better about themselves.  Given that most of them are Jesus jocks, I hope they're ready for the big surprize coming when Jesus sends them all back to live it over again as a poor person in Shithole, Mississippi.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Dint of hard work

Ms. Clinton has labored and toiled for oodles of green, she sad she's not truly rich, but is okay with just plain old rich.  Giving speeches and helping ghost writers pen her books is harder than digging ditches.  I have found her theme song for the 2016 campaign--

She Works Hard For The Money Lyrics

She works hard for the money
So hard for it, honey
She works hard for the money
So you better treat her right

She works hard for the money
So hard for it, honey
She works hard for the money
So you better treat her right

Hillary there in the corner stand
And she wonders where she is
And it's strange to her
Some people seem to have everything

Nine a.m. on the hour hand
And she's waiting for the bell
And she's looking real pretty
Just wait for her clientele

She works hard for the money
So hard for it, honey
She works hard for the money
So you better treat her right...


IRS e-mail

Did you catch the IRS guy's testimony about the missing e-mail?  Lois Lerner's e-mail, during the period of time that the IRS was scrutinizing the always evil Tea Bagger 401(c) organizations, does not exist anywhere in IRS space.  It seems her PC crashed and the e-mail was no more.  The backup was only good for 6 months.  It seems odd that the IRS does not go a better job of record keeping.  It smacks less of a conspiracy directed by the GOP's much feared Kenyan Muslim they believe to be in the White House and more of typical bipartisan government incompetence.

I guess we'll never know what Ms. Lerner knew.  Hold it, I wonder if Rep. Issa has requested the e-mail from the NSA, they have everybody else's!  Wouldn't that be interesting if they did....

Pi = 3.0

I've always enjoyed telling people that various state legislatures had passed bills making pi equal 3.0.  I usually pick on Kentucky or Mississippi.  I usually place Kentucky's boneheads as acting in the 1890s.  Mississippi's date varies with my mood, but it is always a recent year.  Come on, if you heard a report that yesterday Mississippi 's legislature enacted a law making the value of Pi equal to 3.0 in it's schools, would you or anyone else would bat an eye?

Setting Pi to 3.0 by law is urban myth.  It does reflect what we think of some states and their elected officials.  For those of you who have forgotten about Pi, here's a bit from Wiki:

"The number π is a mathematical constant, the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter, approximately equal to 3.14159. It has been represented by the Greek letter "π" since the mid-18th century though it is also sometimes spelled out as "pi" (/paɪ/). Being an irrational number, π cannot be expressed exactly as a common fraction, although fractions such as 22/7 and other rational numbers are commonly used to approximate π. Consequently its decimal representation never ends and never settles into a permanent repeating pattern. The digits appear to be randomly distributed although no proof of this has yet been discovered."

I don''t remember which King tried to order the tide to recede, but setting the value of Pi to 3.0 is as effective as giving an order to the sea.  In that recognition of idiocy, I have decided to institute the Pi=3.0 Award.  

The first award goes the all the elected officials and dedicated folks in North Carolina who cannot quite cope with global warming and the rising sea level.

On N.C.’s Outer Banks, scary climate-change predictions prompt a change of forecast

Perhaps the Republican Governor of NC could tell the Atlantic to bug off and leave the Tarheels alone.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

It's a Barney Fife Kind of World

Have you seen news coverage of young men flogging their second amendment rights by bearing arms in public?  Yes, in public!  Really, it’s all a bit embarrassing and distasteful.  Then again, it’s their right to share their youthful eccentricities with all of us.  At least they don’t shoot their arms in public.  However, as we all know all too well, we have a glut of profoundly odd people who do shoot weapons in public and do kill many innocent folks of all ages.  

As innocents continue to be wasted by loons bearing arms we watch.  There’s not much more we can do.  We can’t overcome the gun industry’s public relations program.  I’m not referring to advertising for Guns ‘R Us folks, no, I’m referring to the NRA and it’s  Second Amendment ad campaign.  After all, today’s weapon obsession is less about freedom and liberty and much much more about keeping sales up.

At some future point I assume demographics will kick in.  Sales will decrease just flaten as most of us decline to own guns (it’s those pesky millennials taking over).  The NRA’s pitch will only be heard by whatever our normal quotient of paranoid happens to be.    I’m not sure how many will remain to to sustain industry profits (and pay the shills at the NRA).  Do you ever wonder about the quantity of guns and ammo that one person can buy?  I do.

As the gun crowd declines, profits will dwindle.  As the bottom line shrinks, there will be less spare cash available to goose sales. The NRA will see its finances return to membership dues only levels of long ago.  Then, we’ll see their dreaded specter of gun control, right? 

Nah, the NRA’s pitch has become part of our culture.  It will endure into the future for some unknown time.  We’ll have to wait it out unless there’s a massive guntastrophe.  I imagine if a nut or three shot up a bunch of the the NRA’s current green recipient's as Congress assembles for say a State of Union.  Even if that happened, we might see premature change, but even that may not be sufficient to cause a change today.  For all practical purposes, only time will lead to change unless we come to our senses about the nature of those rights loving gun nuts among us.  

As I follow this most odd bit of singular liberty lust for things that send projectiles hastily through the air, my mind wanders off to Mayberry, U.S.A.  Hell, it’s still on TV in reruns.  I can see it now.  Aunt Bee is trying to explain why Otis is a drunk to Opie.  She’s struggling.  Luckily,  she can pass the parental exercise off to Andy who just happens to walk through the door.  Andy begins to decipher Otis to Opie.  He’s having his own hard time, but is saved by Barney Fife.  Yep Deputy Fife rushes into the room.  Opie will have to wait, since there’s law breaking afoot in Mayberry!

Barney Fife is a well meant, law abiding, nervous kind of guy.  He’s really a good guy.  Hell this good guy even has a gun.  He’d protect us all from bad guys with guns except that Sheriff Andy won’t let him pack any ammo--Andy knows what would happen if Barney’s pistol was primed.  In our hearts, so do we.  Barney thinks he’s John Wayne, Andy knows he’s not.  

Sadly, when I listen to today’s packers, I hear mostly Barney Fife as sadly the NRA’s pursuit of profits relieves any Andy of his ability to keep the ammo out his Deputy’s revolver.  Funny how the Sheriff rarely, if ever, needed to carry or use a firearm to keep the peace in Mayberry.  

I’d prefer to live in a Andy’s world, not his deputy’s.  Come to think of it, we have too much Barney Fife in our public life.   

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Virginia's 7th Primary Election

David Brat defeated incumbent Eric Cantor and became the GOP nominee in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District.  Mr. Cantor has been in office since 2001 and is the current Majority Leader.  

Of the 7th’s some 473,000 active registered voters about 65,000 went to the polls.  About 56% of them voted for Mr. Brat as 44% voted for Mr. Cantor.   Hm, this means the District’s GOP nominee in this Fall’s election was decided by a very small number of people.

65,000 is about 14% of all potential voters.  I guess the remaining 86% spent the day eating pizza or just didn’t care.  Oh, not all of them voted for Brat.  This means the decision was made by 56% of that 14% or 7.8% of possible voters.  Once again, the candidate has been determined by fewer than 1 in 10 voters.  Ain’t democracy grand.  

Okay, there are some Democrats in the 7th.  Let’s take them out and re-crunch the numbers.  The 7th seems to vote about 57% Republican, that yields about 270,000 potential red voters.  I assume no Democrats voted in the GOP primary.

65,000 votes is 24% of 270,000.  That is better than 14%, but means that one our of every four Republicans speaks for the party (76% don’t care who their party nominates).    Oh, don’t forget the vote went two ways.  The winner was determined by 56% of 24% or  13.4%.  A bit over one in ten possible Repub voters spoke for the rest and selected the nominee.

So what?  Oh, with respect to issues lots of folks would like to see the Feds act on, now you know why national polls don’t really mean squat. GOP, the majority in the House, races are more akin to Virginia’s 7th than not.  There just aren’t that many swing Districts left.  Until the House is dominated by members who agree with the majority of folks on major issues, those issues will not be addressed.  Do you think the electorate in the 7th would vote for immigration, gun control, or gay rights?      

For those that are interested, about 17,500 Repubs turned out as 76% of them re-nominated Mr. Wittman in the 1st Congressional  District (out of about 491,000 registered voters).