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Mitt-ila The Hun

January 13, 2012 1 comment

The man came from the east, and rode aboard a midnight black steed, with angry fire in its eyes. The steed seemed reluctant to allow anyone but its rider to even get close to it. The mount whinnied uneasily, and lived for moments it could swoop in and, with its rider cause confusion and destruction. Once its rider saddled up, they were unstoppable. Always riding all-out, and never looking back, they rode without care nor conscience.
One of the most infamous raids, that so many remember, came one day in the 90s, in the middle of the country. Mitt-ila with his steed, Bain, came to the steel mill, licking his lips, and casing everything that he would soon own and be able to plunder and turn asunder. Sparks flew from the horse’s hooves  as they rode onto the grounds. The horse and its master began the blood-letting – the guild members, their pay, the equipment – they began laying waste to everything in sight…Soon, their nefarious plans were complete, and the tiny factory was no more.

What is this? This is the Newt-would-approve-if-he-read-it-version of Mitt Romney’s time at Bain Capital. This is the, politically-expedient version of what happened in Kansas City. Mitt of course, the ardent anti-capitalist and destroyer of all that he touched, only wanted the companies Bain invested in for their liquidity values, right? I mean, why would anyone invest in a company that they may be able to resurrect, and restore to profitability (and make far more money, than just relying on the liquidity value)? Once a company is seen to have its best days behind it, the person who attributes this “un-profitable operating” designation could never have any ways of turning it around – its only value is in plundering anything and everything that still has any value. Right? So it is raid and plunder away.

Except – that is not always the way that business happens. I would venture to guess it is seldom that a capital company step in and buys a company solely for its liquid assets, before it has declared bankruptcy, when the investing company can buy it for a song. That seems like paying extra for the “privilege” of going through bankruptcy proceedings and haggling with creditors. With the intention of retrofitting and upgrading the facilities at Kansas City located “GST Steel”, Bain made investments and attempted to turn the troubled steelmaker around. After investments of $100 million were sunk into the plant, due to myriad mismanagement issues, tons of cheap Chinese-made steel (made and sold at a loss, to gain market share), and the debt-load created to save the plant, it still had to be closed. 750 people lost their jobs as a result.

It should be mentioned, but seldom seems to be, that the Chinese steel is probably more to blame for GST’s failure than any other factors, including: Bain Capital’s “raiding”, more competitive American steel foundries, and obsolescing equipment. Add to that, some of the most misguided management that I have ever read about (like hiring managers for this steel plant, that had previously worked in retail for Wal-Mart), and it appears that the factory was always doomed. Some 40+ other American steel companies went under in the same time GST was slowly rusting away.

My main issues with the attack of Romney (and attacks of him, under the guise of attacks of Bain) are the fact that supposed conservative and right-wing candidates are making the majority of them. The fact that some are using Romney’s time at Bain as a way to compare him to Bernie Madoff, and his criminal Ponzi scheme (that was James Clyburn), is also disheartening. As a matter of fact, Mitt wasn’t even with Bain at the time GST finally gasped and was shuttered. Now it’s like all hands on deck for a thrashing of the mechanism that built this country, and gave so many people the lives we enjoy.

The way that I see it, if a person is going to attack a function of capitalism, and stand behind their point, whether it is legitimate or not, it would also mean that the same arbitrary condemnation could apply to any function of capitalism. You don’t like paying some of your bills – then don’t, because you think it’s “unfair.” You don’t like having to pay a manufacturers’ makeup? Well, don’t pay it then – you’ve deemed it “unfair” too. When we slip into a mindset of the left, where, this is fair, that is unfair, this group over here has more than you (and you really deserve it more than they do), and that some big, bad, government boogie-man is piling on with those filthy rich fat cats, it is easy to find yourself getting angry. The trick is to channel that anger and frustration – almost like using that destructive feeling for something…Creative.

Is The Fuse Already Lit?

October 20, 2011 Leave a comment
Greek police dodge Molotov cocktails

Riots in Greece continue to grow more violent.

As I reflect today, day 3X of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement that is quickly become one of the places to be if you are an aspiring socialist/communist/anti-banker/anarchist/free spirit, I find myself coming to a few realizations. Seeing the Greeks, Spaniards, and Italians tangle with riot police, and toss Molotov cocktails, while their government struggles to find some way to pay their un-payable bills, I wonder if we, here in the United States, can expect to see something similar. In Europe (Greece especially), it appears as though trade unions and public sector workers are at the forefront of their riots.

So, what are we to think about the disgruntled and disgusted supporters of the movement? Various unsavory parties have recently endorsed the Occupation – The American Nazi Party and American Communist Party to name two. These movements have lengthy histories of violence and extremist ideologies. This is not to say that the OWSM is in and of itself violent, but if it is any indication of the beliefs held by the majority of the participants, I have not heard many of the participants renounce the endorsement. The usual reaction is to separate quickly those endorsements from the endorsements of others – namely the administration and Congressional leaders, like Nancy Pelosi. It seems whenever there is a negative story that surfaces about OWS supporters, the story is quickly squashed, and the person in question is painted as an outsider, who is unaffiliated with the movement. In my mind, the influx of so many disparate endorsements undermines, rather than helps, legitimate endorsers, while lending a sort of credibility to the others.

What worries me are those “legitimate” endorsements. While people see them as a sort of, “isn’t-that-nice-they-want-to-help” support by Washington, D.C., here is the thing – the movement, while starting out disorganized, and lacking a main message, has recently begun to coalesce into something that sounds more confrontational and more willing to act out in violence. But there is no proof of that, you must thinking. A recent spate of thefts of money, equipment, and other personal items, not to mention the report of a rape in Occupy Cleveland, shows the movement is changing. One convicted felon was picked up and re-arrested for illegal possession of a firearm (a folding-stock rifle) at Occupy Seattle.

Add to that, a presidential administration who has verbally supported OWS, who also has close ties to known leftist terrorists and bombers (Ayres and Dohrn), and a Department of Justice who is both, slow to act (if they act at all) and embroiled in a huge scandal. A former presidential staffer in the administration reminds us to, “Never let a crisis go to waste.” These allied interests, who masquerade as “supporters” have merely found themselves a group of useful idiots, who will allow them to try to advance their positions, while dodging blow-back. It also allows the allied politicians to attach their wants and needs to the movement, while avoiding the low approval that the public may feel for them. And it is not like less-political allies have taken over movements in cities – already, the original Occupy St. Louis movement has been pre-empted, and original organizers threatened.

It feels to me like the movement is increasingly more pre-empted by the day, but it still claims to have no leaders, and to be “organic” and grassroots. It  is one agent provocateur from some sort of confrontation that will accomplish nothing, possibly injure many innocent people, and finally lead to the end of any goodwill or political capital that the early movement may have built. As the protesters become increasingly desperate, they may begin to realize that they must increase their confrontations and confrontational style, and try to create a situation where they will be able to “prove” that those they stand in opposition to (whichever group(s) they may be) are the evil and cold-blooded groups that OWS claims.

Why The “Occupation” Will Fail

October 6, 2011 2 comments

By now, most people have gotten wind of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, and has been affected by its polarizing actions and beliefs. The protesters and their signs scream out at their collective outrage, and list their many grievances. While the movement is seen as something noble and worthwhile by some, by others, it is seen as a group of spoiled, petulant young people, intent on obtaining entitlements. Whatever the case may be, I feel as though there are enough fundamental problems with the “movement” that it lacks any chance to secure any of the real changes it seeks.

Too much diversity

Yes, there can be such a thing as too much diversity. In the case of Occupy Wall Street, signs and grievances run from: criticism of greedy, corrupt money makers, to the redistribution of wealth, to the high unemployment rate among young people, the elimination of capitalism, and finally, to the effects of lobbyists in Washington D.C.. Some media sources have even shown people dressed up in greasepaint and with torn clothing to resemble zombies. I am unsure what message that is supposed to represent – perhaps it has something to do with Halloween? To maximize their efforts, the group needs to focus on one or two main messages, and drive those home. As it is, the fractured, myriad concerns of protesters are doing more damage than any good. They must coalesce into fewer, more well defined issues to maximize their effort. As the movement appears now, it is unclear whether the protesters are anarchists (as some have claimed in the television media), socialists (as some in the television media have claimed), or just disgruntled young people, seeking a solution to the many problems the nation has run headlong into.

Pre-emption of the movement
OWS

The Occupation of Wall Street

While the original message may have started out of an on-line organizing force, in the last week, the protest crowds in New York have seen various other groups and “sympathizers” lend their support. During this spring and summer, unions saw governors and legislatures force their members to pay for more of their own benefits and retirement packages. In a well-publicized series of recall elections in Wisconsin, the unions were again rebuffed. The support for various unions may have never been lower, and along comes a popular movement of self-described disenfranchised citizens. The unions saw a golden opportunity to attach themselves to this movement and possibly earn back some support. Celebrities too, have seen fit to make appearances, and lend their support as well. These stars who “feel the pain” of the broke protesters, show up, and bring the cameras along. Suddenly, a photo op. breaks out, the stars swear that they know how the protesters feel, and the protesters are made to believe like these multi-millionaires and they have something in common. Cheap appearances for celebs threatens to undermine any messages.

The movement doesn’t have a leader

For a movement such as this, it strikes me as a disjointed group of people, in search of someone to lead them. Now, I am not talking about some fire-brand, urging the protesters to start chucking bricks through store fronts, but someone who can lead the throngs and either accept or reject support from those seeking to take over the movement. There have been a few scattered whispers that the protests are supposed to be modeled upon the Tea Party movement – which has no leaders, but is just loose nationwide groups – however, the Tea Party groups began growing and coalescing around the idea that taxes and spending were too high. There is the single issue that laid the foundation for a movement. It sounds as though many of the protesters are asking for more oversight any way — but government oversight is not what anyone needs at this point. Indeed, if people would stop and consider for a moment, government “oversight” lead to much of the current financial and economic mess the country finds itself in at the moment.

Spend It Like You Stole It

September 21, 2011 Leave a comment

The new omnibus jobs-infrastructure bill created and proposed by the president this month, promises to get Americans back to work and rebuild the crumbling infrastructure — all without needing any additional funding! By ending a few tax loopholes here, adding a little bump to certain income tax brackets there, it will pay for itself. Huzzah – the Commander in Chief has single-handedly rebuilt the nation and yet again, saved us from ourselves, just in the nick of time. Of course, the reason this whole measure was necessary in the first place were the filthy rich, who, saved and hid all their money, because they like to see the country struggle and fail (AKA the scary left’s boogeyman-narrative). Even if the millionaires and billionaires the Democrats love to hate, were that warped in their thinking, would you want to give any more money to this government? People like Warren Buffet and Mark Cuban’s protest that they would just love to pay more in taxes. The politicians love to use those investors’ claims to make a point that the government should take more from all of them. At least, that is what the democrats would love America to believe.

Pass this bill - it's all I've got!

Pass this bill - it's all I've got!

Perhaps believing it to be a mesmerizing force, the president’s repeated chant of, “Pass this bill, pass this bill…” during his Congressional address fell on deaf ears, as Congress refused to act and quickly pass an irresponsible and un-read bill, unlike their predecessors. Obama will undoubtedly use this instance when he is on the campaign trail to tell his supporters, “Gee, I really tried guys, but those darned Republicans – they are playing politics and engaging in brinkmanship again…” His politics seem to grow more and more transparent and less realistic, as increasingly, his rhetoric grows more inflammatory and divisive. His track record as a leader and economic steward is already onion-paper thin.

His claims of caring about Americans’ hardships might have once been taken at face value, and given the benefit of the doubt – but when you hear the National Labor Relations Board may prevent thousands of new jobs from an aircraft manufacturing plant in South Carolina, it belies that claim. The union in Washington state would rather risk moving the entire proposed being operation sent to another country, it seems, than to share in the company’s prosperity, domestically. “Workers of the world, unite”, indeed. The current three-member NLRB has been appointed by President Obama, with one member a recess appointment, after being threatened with a filibuster for his Senate hearing (see: Craig Becker).

The president’s claim to care about green energy and renewable resources have fallen by the wayside as well. Having already given a sweetheart loan to a friend who owned a solar panel company in California, whose operation he visited in 2010. The now infamous Solyndra boondoggle cost 1,100 workers their jobs. The employees showed up to work as usual one day, and found the plant closed to them. The company had sought investment from private sources, but were rebuffed when the burn rate of the company was shown to be completely untenable(and I picture the private investors reading Solyndra’s financials, and belly laughing at them). One-half of a billion dollars of taxpayer money is now gone, used for capital expenditures and other miscellaneous costs, at a company that had no chance of success. And this administration still sits on an additional $15 billion that they cannot wait to give away. How is this possible? Press Secretary Jay Carney explains, “That’s the way government works…” Perhaps that is the way your government works, but in the private sector (I like to think of it as “the real world”), where you are responsible for your own money, you also try to minimize losses by skipping investments in a company that is already belly-up.

As much as the last Congress and Democratic supporters harped to Americans about Cheney’s Halliburton ties, and how staffers were too close to business, that they would understand enough about business to prevent the wanton waste of the country’s funds. It seems that they focused on energy companies being an evil, and of providing “obscene profits”. Of course, I wonder if Halliburton was a big Democrat campaign contributor if they would still care as much? As the scandal grows, and more people are implicated in the fiasco, the Democrats’ next election prospects seem as dim as the Solyndra plant they threw so much away on.

The Commander In Chaff

August 21, 2011 Leave a comment

No, that is no typo – “chaff” seems like the perfect descriptor for this president.  It is the stuff that is discarded from seeds and grains, which blows which-ever way the winds take it.  It serves no real purpose, and seems only to complicate harvesting and increase harvest times and efforts.  His predilection for “leading from behind” (when he does take action) continues to rankle an America who is not used to cowering and stalling.  He has separated himself from Bill Clinton, by seeming to throw complete concern of poll numbers to the gutter (by the way, his job-approval, according to Gallup, is at an all-time low).  He and his subordinates like to remind us that “Congressional numbers are even lower”, as if that makes his own lackluster administration stand out.  His recent “listening tour” was turned into a disaster when a voter asked him why his vice-president, Joe Biden, smeared Tea Partiers, likening them to the types of people that brought down the Trade Towers.  For his part, Obama said the voter needed to listen to him, and then proceeded to tell him what he heard, never happened.

President Do-Nothing

"Ugh...I have a splitting headache"

It is amazing that the three bodies’ approval numbers are so low, but I remind you that the numbers reflect the wonderful “compromise” that they all delivered to the country via their raised debt ceiling deal.  The right complains their representatives gave too much, and the left says the right was playing politics.  While the sniping continues, the country goes on, trying to make sense of their paychecks or how they will make their next payroll with nothing but uncertainty from Washington.  The country begs for anything even remotely resembling certitude, and all they receive is lip-service and snark from the likes of Jay Carney.  The president’s election strategy seem to be wholly reliant upon tearing down anyone else running for the office of president, rather than running on any accomplishments of his own.  He can try to run on finally finding, and killing, Osama Bin Laden, but the American people seem to give credit where it is actually due (to Seal Team Six), rather than to the guy who merely gave the raid the thumbs up.  He could attempt to run on either a budget or his Healthcare, but the democrat-controlled Senate has not passed a budget in forever, and the healthcare fiasco is hugely unpopular.  With an anemic economy, he has nothing to run on there, either.  It is either tear-down others, or throw in the towel. Simple as that.

If the president is counting on support from his most staunch supporters from his first election, the young, college crowd, he may be barking up the wrong tree too.  How does he expect to garner support from the young college student crowd, when they are suddenly faced with thousands of dollars in student-loan debt, and a 9+% unemployment rate?  Does he expect the college graduates to shrug their shoulders, take a minimum wage job, and just think, “Well, maybe he is really serious about that ‘hope and change’ this time”?  That is unrealistic, and the energy and enthusiasm he ginned up last election, has been replaced with a sense of reality and cynicism.  The one thing that might capture the graduates’ attention, a jobs bill, has been promised, but will not be available to the public until it is unveiled sometime this fall.  His neglect of employment may prove the most politically fatal of his shortcomings – throughout the 20th century, there has not been a single president re-elected with such terrible unemployment numbers.

Reid/Pelosi juggernaut

Reid checking presidential approval numbers, Pelosi checking unemployment numbers.

One of the last major gripes people have with the president, is the fact he has seemed to served his entire term thus far, while on vacation.  Every week, we are told by the media that the president is, “Enjoying the greens at XXX Country Club” — or like this week, “He’s spending time on Martha’s Vineyard”.  To the normal American, struggling with bills and mortgages, they resent what they see as separation between the president and themselves.  Some call it elitism.  I do not know if that is actually the case, but I think there is clearly some sort of disconnect between he and the country that he is supposed to be leading.  According to CBS News, at this point in his presidency, the president has actually spent fewer days on vacation than both Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.  (Bill Clinton spent the fewest days, with 28 – but we know why he loved staying in the Oval Office).  What does this mean?  To me, it simply means both Reagan and Bush actually got more done in less time than the current president – and they did it, in large part, without the benefit of a liberal and friendly Congress for two years.