Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What Recession??

I was pointed by a friend to a CURRENT web page from the National Republican Congressional Committee that states among other things that the "U.S. economy is robust," and that "job creation is strong." Looks like the NRCC might want to check the headlines of recent days. I have heard the following layoffs announced in 2009:

Caterpillar - 20,000
G.M. - 2,000
Texas Instruments 1,800
Sprint/Nextel - 8,000
Phizer/Wyeth - 8,000
Home Depot - 7,000
Circuit City - 30,000
Google - 500
Cessena - 2,000
Motorola - 4,000
Hertz Rentals - 4,000

There is some strong job growth! Click here to read the hilarity at the NRCC.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Someone Smack Around Ty Corporation For Me

Honestly. It has been less then a week into the new administration, when we already have a corporation exploiting the first family for all it's cuteness. It turns out that Ty Corporation, maker of the infamous Beanie Baby line of stuffed toys, has released a "Marvelous Malia" and "Sweet Sasha" set of dolls. Now of course Ty claims that it is just coincidence, but who are they fooling? The timing and names could not make it more clear that this is just a timing gimmick to sell as many dolls as possible. As if that were not enough, just look at the picture above. it is clear to me who they are trying to portray.

Hopefully Americans of all political stripes can see this as a blatant money grab. I hope that this is not a portent of things to come for this family. I know that it is not possible to live a "normal" life and be a daughter of a President, but hopefully we can make sure it is as "normal" as possible.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Leaner, Meaner and Greener Auto Show

The Big 3 are not dead. That seems to be the overriding theme of the Detroit Auto Show this year. In fact, as one reporter put it: "Their collective push is to tell America what a good investment it made." Gone are the glitzy introductions, and movie star introductions. Instead we are treated to a no nonsense GM announcing the Spark, a sub-compact that gets 42 MPG will be available here for 2011. Ford introduced it's 2010 Fusion hybrid that will have best millage in it's class, beating out the Camry and Accord. This on top of the fact that the Fusion already has a better quality rating in Consumer's Report then Camry or Accord.

Hopefully the message that comes out of this show is that the Big Three are still relevant. All those people out there who think the Detroit based automakers just don't get it, should just read any report about the auto show. Check out The Detroit News or the Detroit Free Press for ongoing information. As Bob Lutz, Chief Designer at GM recently stated "You can't look at the array of cars that we've brought up on stage today and say these guys don't get it, these cars are ugly, and these cars don't perform."

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Weighing in on Gaza

While I was running on the treadmill at the gym on Monday, Fox News was on a TV in front of me. While I was rocking out to my Cascada, a headline kept flashing on the bottom of the screen. It said "Is War in Gaza Only Way for Israel to Gain Peace?" Now I could not hear what they were saying, but it got me thinking about this current conflict, and war as a political device.

My friend Larry recently posted a thought on Facebook. He was referring to an Op-Ed in the Times entitled "The Confidence War" when he quoted Clausewitz as saying "War is politics by other means; and politics is perception."

I think Larry was dead on. This is not a war for resources or even land, as Israel has no intentions of conquering and annexing Gaza. This really is not even about the rocket attacks, which by the way ARE deplorable, and worthy of a response. Maybe not THIS response, but a military response nonetheless. What this is really about is Israel's self perception.

Israel perceives itself as a isolated country that is constantly under threat. There is, of course, historical precedent for this view. After many years, this perception has become institutionalized, and is now seen as simple truth by the people of Israel. I would compare it to the fact that when the United States first entered Iraq, the people in charge of the U.S. efforts were influenced by the Vietnam Conflict, as that was their experience.

As framed by the current Israeli self-perception this incursion into Gaza makes perfect sense. Israel must maintain the upper hard, and must CONSTANTLY remind it's neighbors that is a viable state with a strong military. It is the Bush Doctrine in action taken to it's extreme. The problem is that everyone in the region already knows this. Israel is proving nothing to nobody... except themselves. While that may be abstractly important to the Israeli people, it is not worth the cost in lives and money that we are seeing now. So, Fox News was almost right with it's headline, it should have read "Is War in Gaza Only Way for Israel to Gain Inner Peace?" because that is what this is truly about.