Saturday, June 6, 2009

And By Their Bumperstickers, Ye Shall Know Them, Part 2

I'm working the Tarrant County Libertarian Party's booth at the Fort Worth Gun Show.

My friend William and I are gathering signatures on petitions to eliminate the threat of a mandatory 3-day waiting period for gun show purchases (HR 2324 and S 843).

We've got a wide variety of Libertarian propaganda that we're handing out - pamphlets, CD's, DVD's, etc. William is a connoisseur of bumperstickers, and a few minutes ago, he handed me a series based on quotes from the Founding Fathers.

Almost all of these are available at, a site run by a former Vice Chairman of the Travis County Libertarian party.

Here are a few of the stickers. See if you can spot the trend in these Founding Fathers' quotes.

"That we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public" - Theodore Roosevelt

"We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence by the Military Industrial Complex." - Dwight D. Eisenhower

"The constitution vests the power of declaring war in Congress." - George Washington

"If there is a sin superior to any other, it is that of willful and offensive war" - Thomas Paine

"The executive has NO right, in any case to decide the question, whether there is or is not cause for declaring war." - James Madison

"The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home." - James Madison

"It is our true policty to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world" - George Washington

"No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare" - James Madison

"Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none." - Thomas Jefferson

"The spirit of this country is totally adverse to a large military force." - Thomas Paine

"Preventive war was an invention of Hitler" - Dwight D. Eisenhower

"America goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy" - John Quincy Adams

"I abhor war and view it as the greatest scourge of mankind" - Thomas Jefferson

"Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war" - John Adams

"Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism" - George Washington

"America is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own" - John Quincy Adams

My time at the Fort Worth gun show was well spent. Learned a lot.

Iowahawk takes over the GM marketing department

This is a continuation of the previous post.
I've been having these recurring dreams about going to the final G.M. bankruptcy auction in the year 2014. These dreams have been curiously episodic, with each one beginning where the previous dream ended.....

As I wonder how I'm going to explain spending two grand on a "Hillary" doormat, I begin to wonder what it was that finally put G.M. out of business in 2014. Was it the fact that design changes had to go through the Deparment Of Commerce? Was it the Imperial Decree from President (of the U.S.) Obama to the President (of G.M.) Obama that all vehicles must get 83 miles per gallon? Was it the lawsuit over red cars not being "green" enough?

One of the many, many reasons for the G.M. bankruptcy: They didn't have a decent marketing department. The ads were curiously unappealing, despite being produced by my online friend Iowahawk. Check out this one, about the Pelosi GTxi SS/RT Sport Edition:

I woke up at 4:14 this morning, screaming about the horror of late 1970's dance moves.
I've got to stop obsessing over this. Yes, the president of the United States has fired the President of General Motors.

Yes, he knows nothing about running a car company.
And no, it can't possibly end well.
Their problems are not my problems. Deep down inside, I know this. Its just the principle of the thing. Presidents shouldn't install themselves as CEO of corporations whose donors are in trouble.
Am going to try Vicodin, just to see if the dreams stop.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I Have A Dream ! (And Buy Some Stuff I Don't Need)

This is a continuation of the previous post.
I've been having these recurring dreams about going to the final G.M. bankruptcy auction in the year 2014.

These dreams have been curiously episodic, with each one beginning where the previous dream ended.....

In my dream, I wipe my feet on the Hillary doormat and go into the former office of General Motors' CEO Barack Obama.

GM's President Obama had the strangest career path in automotive history. From his early days as a failed community organizer, then his unremarkable tenure as a constitutional law professor, to his generic stay in the Illinois state senate, and a brief pit stop at the U.S. Senate., Obama finally used all of his non-experience as a launching pad to become leader of the free world for about six months.

But what Obama really wanted to do was make cars. Using his status as president of a less vital organization to mount his hostile takeover, Obama forced Rick Wagoner, GM's Old School president, to resign.

Then Obama started rebuilding every element that mattered in the GM organization - the union, the lobbyists, the environmental compliance officers, the get-out-the-vote specialists, the Card Check goons, the retirees' pension fund administrators, the rent seekers, the UAW liaisons, and the company logo.

Judging by campaign contributions from employees and vendors, things went well at first. But then it became necessary to sell some cars, and the government could only purchase so many for itself. So the government began issuing new coupons to low income families. These coupons were good for Agricultural College staples like eggs and cheese, or could be traded in for a Chevy Cavalier.

Within a few months, middle schoolers were calling all GM products "Loser Cruisers". No amount of marketing (Tipper Gore was brought in for a YouTube video in a failed attempt to revive the GTO) could restore any level of coolness to GM automobiles.

There was a failed re-branding campaign....

....and then the company continued its sad slow decline.

I slid into the chair behind Obama's desk, and put my feet up. To my left was the famed trophy case, still containing Hillary's pride and Larry Summers' integrity. To my right was a large bookcase displaying titles like CEO For Dummies, Auto Design For The Complete Idiot, and several hundred copies of Dreams Of My Father. The office had a massive picture window looking out over the now-quiet assembly line, and I could barely hear the auctioneer droning away.

How sad it would have to be, to work one's entire life to become President of a major car company, only to have it go out of business.

I make a note to bid on the trophy case, and go back into the hallway toward the production floor. The auctioneer is on a rolling platform, obviously frustrated that there is no longer a market for much of what he is selling....

"Ok, let's move on to the next lot," he says. "Who'll give me three million dollars for this inline paint system? Who'll give me two million? Somebody start us off. One million? 500K? Somebody get us going...."

Mr. China looks at his shoes. Mr. Japan heads to the restroom.

"What do you want to pay for this system? Somebody start us off. It cost 40 million when they installed it in the nineties. Who'll start us off at fifty thousand?"

Mr. China says something about not having enough carbon credits. Mr. Taiwan is unseen, remaining the silent online bidder. They both look at me, and I have to explain that I'm not registered with the cap-and-trade system. Eventually I offer $500, out of guilt more than anything else, and the auctioneer immediately says "Sold". If I'm lucky, I'll clear enough from a scrap dealer to purchase a McDonald's Value Meal.

No one bids on the welders. They emit gases into the atmosphere.

No one bids on the shears or machining centers. The insurance is too expensive. Lawsuits waiting to happen.

No one bids on the giant punch presses - they're now White Elephants. With permits, fees, sin taxes, and other regulations, no one can afford to drive any of the large cars this machine once created. Most new model 2014 cars are small enough to be made on an anvil.

The auction goes on and on, with most of the lots going unsold, or selling for pennies on the dollar. And then I find myself raising my hand for one more irrational purchase.

I woke up at 6:00 this morning, wondering how I was going to explain paying $2,000 for a "Hillary" doormat. Thank God it was a dream. I get a feeling I'm going to dream about this damn auction again tonight.

The G.M./Obama logo came from Black & Right, an African-American blogger who makes me seem calm and reasonable. The Obama cap was emailed from The Moxie Mom.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I Have A Dream ! (of General Motors in 2014)

I go to a lot of auctions.
A few of these are held at workplaces that are selling off surplus equipment, but most of the time the company has simply gone bankrupt. Auctions are the best way to determine fair market value when selling assets to pay back creditors.

At some point during the sale, I usually find some excuse to visit the CEO's office, sit down in the chair from which he directed his vast empire, and wonder what went wrong.

Some places suddenly go under with 6 months' worth of orders still waiting to be manufactured. Others are slowly starved out of existence. Sometimes, there's a lawsuit that shuts them down.

Occasionally I can stroll through the maintenance area and understand the big picture. There will be a vast collection of hot rods, boats, classic cars, 4WD hunting vehicles, plus lots of other toys the owner purchased with company funds. Never a good sign.

Last night, I had a dream....

I'm walking down Highway 360 in Arlington, Texas. It's sometime in the year 2014.
The weather is pleasant, considering that the earth is supposed to already be past Al Gore's "Tipping Point" in 2014.

I follow the "General Motors Auction" signs to a vast factory.....

The parking lot isn't very crowded, considering that billions of dollars worth of equipment is about to change hands. Several of G.M.'s infamous 48-year old retirees are milling around the entrance.
"Want to buy our pensions?" one of them asks. "Sorry, but I'm already on the hook for them," I apologize.
I fight my way past several Union Organizers who are still trying to register passersby for Card Check, and am surprised to see that there's no waiting line at the registration table.
This is unusual.
I give the clerk my business card, and a letter of credit for $350 million dollars. (Remember, its the year 2014, and the bailout and stimulus money has now infiltrated our financial system. It now takes at least fifty grand to get a pizza delivered.)
"Here's your auction catalog and bidder number," says the clerk. "You'll be bidder number 4."
"There are only three other bidders here?" I ask.
"Well, the gentleman from China registered yesterday, the Japanese representative arrived sometime this morning, and the Taiwanese government is bidding online. This could be your lucky day !"

I walk past the registration desk toward the famed G.M. assembly line. It's a manufacturing geek's paradise. There are robotic welders that could weld Juicy Fruit wrappers to a Coke can. There are massive punch presses that could stamp a block of steel into a Chevy Tahoe. These machines demand respect and reverence as you approach them. These are the machines that made the parts for Buicks, Cadillacs, Saabs and Saturns.

I'm walking down the assembly line that for the last five years has manufactured the Michelle 4x4, the Sasha 401K, the new GTO (Malia edition), and the Biden Gaffemaster convertible. Incredible.

With nothing on the assembly line but chassis assemblies, it's hard to tell what particular car was in production when the line shut down. Possibly the Geithner Evader 4.0

"All right, everyone, it's time to get started," I hear the auctioneer say.
This is surreal. There's no one in the plant but the Chinese bidder, the Japanese bidder, and me.

"We're here this morning to sell off the assets of the General Motors Arlington Texas Facility, at the request of the United States Government and President Barack Obama. Getting a facility of this size ready for an auction isn't easy, and we're thankful for all the help and cooperation we've received from General Motors President and CEO, unhhh, Barack Obama."

"All goods are sold 'as is, where is, and with all faults noted', and all sales are final. You will have 10 days to remove your purchases from the factory unless you are high bidder on the building and surrounding real estate. The real estate is part of a package bid that will include The George W. Bush/Texas Rangers Ballpark, the Dallas Cowboys' Arlington Stadium, the Jerry Jones Triumphal Arch, and several other bankrupt taxpayer-funded boondoggles."

"Any questions before we begin?" the auctioneer asks. "Good. Let's get started. Lot #1 is a Kyoto brand emissions tester....Who'll give me $50,000 Who'll start the bidding at $50,000?"

I wander away, leaving the Chinese, Japanese, and Thai bidders to fight it out for the regulatory equipment. I look into the design rooms. The progression from drafting tables to Autocad to Solidworks to Feng Shui Lao Tzu (3.0) has made these auctions a lot less interesting. There are never any leftover drawings to burrow through. But I do find a clay mockup of the prototype Lewinsky Hummer, a model that never made it into production. Everyone said it sucked.

I journey down another hallway, trying to find President Obama's office. This is one of those dreams where each hallway leads to another. I go past the Office Of Regulatory Oversight. I see the Office Of Parallel Authority. I accidentally wander into the lair of the U.S. Government Dispensers Of Red Tape, whose jobs required them to keep the U.S. Government Red Tape Elimination Bureau in business and running at full capacity. I spend an hour trying to find my way out of the Department Of Diversity, the Chamber Of Change, and the Hall Of Hope. Everywhere I look are papers. Filing cabinets full of papers. Reports about papers. None of them have anything at all to do with making cars. The auctioneer's voice begins to fade in the distance as my walk carries me closer and closer to Waco, Texas.

Finally, I see what I'm looking for. At the end of the hallway is a door labeled "Barack Obama, CEO, General Motors". I wipe my feet on the "Hillary" doormat, and go inside.

I just woke up and hit my alarm clock. This dream will probably continue tonight.

Photos from here and here.

Monday, June 1, 2009

This is a test. This is only a test.

It's time for a test.

This test is put out by the Pew Research Center, and is a test of your News IQ.

The average 18-29 year old ranks in the 28th percentile. But the average 18-29 year old also voted for a Chicago machine politician with messianic delusions of adequacy.

The average East Fort Worth 47-year-old blogger who owns too many dachshunds ranks in the 94th percentile, along with the other 6% of the population who didn't miss any of the 12 questions.

(I had to guess on one of them, and got lucky. Will tell which one in the comment field.)

Have fun ! And NO Googling ! !

(One other thing....if you click on the demographics on the last page of the quiz, you'll see that a college education only gets you, on average, a 25 point boost in results. You can get the same point boost by turning 50.)