Thursday, September 30, 2010

Chevy Cruze In The Vega Shadow

OTR had quite an affair with the Chevy brand into young adulthood, including a '57 Chevy Bel Air and a '68 Camaro. It came to an end when he bought a '71 Chevy Vega, arguably in the bottom three pieces of junk ever produced by the American auto industry. Under that modest design and spiffy concept rested an engineering and performance nightmare wrapped in paper-thin sheet metal. The engine warped into an oil burner in a matter of weeks. The dealership was embarrassed and spent thousands to make things right while the corporate suits at General Motors wrote nice letters. As months turned into a year and two, there was no end to breakdowns, recalls, and repairs.

One would expect forty years, billions in bailouts, and a union takeover at Government Motors to make a difference, but this post by Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds seems to tell a different story. It involves the new compact GM Chevy Cruze, labor problems, and new cars needing repair before they leave the factory. And just where is the factory? It's the infamous Lordstown, Ohio, plant well-know for its rebellious UAW workers and product sabotage in the 1970s collective referred to as the "Lordstown Syndrome." Readers should have no problem guessing where the Vega was built. Taxpayers--and United AutoWorker employee/owners--should hope Lordstown does a better job with the Cruze. Their first nightmare merely cast a long shadow. A second nightmare will likely put them out of business.

Postscript: Lucky for OTR, his dad retired in 1973, freeing up one of the reliable family cars at the home place. OTR swapped the Vega Nightmare--good for a few miles around town--for the '68 Camaro. He drove it hard and fast for four carefree years. When it came time for another car, General Motors lost out to a Volkswagen Scirocco. OTR will never own another General/Government Motors product. Ever.

Monday, September 27, 2010

First, The Republicans Came For The Jews

OTR writes often about what he calls the "Weimar Effect," the growing political similarity between our current world setting and that experienced during Germany's Weimar Republic, 1919-1933. Ben Jealous, head of the NAACP, has added somewhat the the "Effect" by declaring that our current situation in the U.S. resembles the days before "Kristallnacht" in Nazi Germany in 1938. We're not sure where Jealous puts our nation on the five-year time line between the day Nazis took control of the government and the night that began their extermination of Jews. On the other hand, we're quite sure that his statement, made from a church pulpit and rallying against Tea Party types, was designed to equate conservatives with Nazis.

There are scores of learned folks who study the Nazi comparison phenomenon. They are quick to state that it almost always appears as a tipping point. Once used, the phenomenon marks the end of the "clean" persona, the reasoned argument, the sensible campaign. OTR believes such remarks also signal the end of confidence and the world of the possible in the upcoming election. Watch the Jealous video here.

Far too many--maybe most-- elections follow on the heels of hasty campaigns. We all knew this one would get dirty, but didn't expect it to get that way so soon. Here's another example from the Jim Clyburn, the House Majority Whip. And here's an amazing story and video featuring race-baiting California Representative Loretta Sanchez and her fears about her Republican opponent, Van Tran and the threat his Vietnamese ancestry means to her constituents.

Friday, September 24, 2010

John Rutter: No Sweeter Music

I'm a day late, but still wanted readers to know that John Rutter, the notable British composer, conductor and arranger, turned 65 yesterday. He is best known and loved for his choral music, his professional choral group, The Cambridge Singers, and their recording label, Collegium Records. Doing an Internet search for Rutter doesn't bring up much more than the same brief biography. The composer is likely quite pleased with that, but he does have a fairly active Facebook page, and there is the occasional article here, and here that gives readers some insight into the man behind the music. My take on this relative dearth of information is simply that one should get to know the man through his music. Here is Rutter's arrangement of an ancient Gaelic blessing--lyrical, beautiful, from the heart:

I have posted this before, but who could object to such a peace this music brings upon hearing it each and every time.

Truth Or Obamacare Consequences

The editors of National Review Online have just posted the best summary to date of the legislative and policy nightmare that is Obamacare. This article has all the talking points conservatives need to effectively destroy any liberal arguments for keeping such rotten legislation on the books. It's time to forget this surprise package and replace it with something based on rational thinking.

Photo: Kathleen Hughes, from the film, It Came From Outer Space (1953)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Nation Of Peasants?

This is the first paragraph:

Traditional peasant societies believe in only a limited good. The more your neighbor earns, the less someone else gets. Profits are seen as a sort of theft. They must be either hidden or redistributed. Envy rather than admiration of success reigns.

In just over 700 words, classicist and military historian Victor Davis Hanson tells us about a defining difference in Western civilization and why it's so in need of defense these days.
Better history lessons are very hard to find. Here is your link.

Source: Neal Boortz Nuze link to Townhall
Photo: Vincent Van Gogh's Portrait of a Peasant (Patience Escalier)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Light In The Darkness

Thirty seven years ago tonight, park rangers at Joshua Tree National Monument--now Park-- noticed a huge fireball on the ridge at Cap Rock. Upon investigation, they found a flaming coffin and the partially burned remains of Gram Parsons, a 26 year old musician who would become a music legend. In his life, lived fast and loose, Parsons would blend rock and country into a new sound as he pursued what he called "cosmic American music." If you listen to The International Submarine Band, The Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers, and his work with Emmylou Harris, you know what that sound was all about.

In a few hours, the pilgrims will make their trek to Cap Rock to pay their respects to Parsons as they have for decades. Rangers may close the area, but that won't make a difference. The faithful will be there.

For more on the Gram Parsons story, read this review from The Times Online, this Country Music Television biography, and this comprehensive Wikipedia entry with many links to his discography.

Photo: Full Moon at Cap Rock, Nikhil's Domain This guy loves the California desert. His site is well worth a visit.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Persistence Of Bad Policy Erodes American Community

Somewhere in the reaches of Glory, the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan will flash an "I told you so" smile if he reads the latest U.S. Census Bureau report on poverty. Forty-five years ago, Moynihan was a soldier in President Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty. He discovered a great flaw that was about to become national policy in that war. The flaw: restricting welfare payments to single parents--almost always the mother-- and their children. He claimed it would destroy the institution of marriage, especially among blacks, and create a permanent underclass of poor women and children.

What Monyihan predicted has come to pass, documented in several reports over the decades. Politicians in power over those same decades lacked the courage to face this very real problem. In the latest report, the U.S. Census Bureau revealed the largest ever annual increase in the number of Americans living in poverty. Obviously, the recession bears some responsibility for the increase, but internal data place the overwhelming blame on childbearing outside of marriage. For the republic, the situation is another fire bell ringing in the night.

Robert Rector has commentary and links here in his blog entry at The Corner. This excerpt shows the depth of the problem:
The biggest secret in the Census report: Marriage is America’s number-one weapon against child poverty. Tragically, however, marriage has been rapidly declining in our society and the number of women who have children outside of marriage has soared. Historically, unwed childbearing was rare. In 1964, when the federal government launched its War on Poverty, 6.8 percent of births were to single mothers. Today, the unwed birthrate has climbed to 40 percent: four of every ten births are to single mothers. For Hispanics and African Americans, the rates rise to nearly 50 and over 70 percent.
Sometimes the truth hurts, but Moynihan sided with the truth rather than pursue the political expediency of the day. He paid dearly for his honesty and was labeled a racist and turncoat by liberals. But early on, politicians soon saw that he was correct, and he went on to a distinguished career in the State Department, at the United Nations and in the U.S. Senate. Oh that we could have many more like him in government today. We need these champions of truth and honesty more than ever.

Photo: President Lyndon Johnson on his famous Poverty Tour (May 1964) greeting one of the residents of Appalachia.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Vetting For Loonies

Sometimes the dream is just too good to be true. In the rush to embrace new fashion, be it granite counter tops, neon neckties or political candidates, the probability for error always increases. When it comes to politics it is, unfortunately, far easier to change your necktie than change your candidate. It is for this reason that vetting for loonies should be foremost in the minds of those seeking new directions in politics. This brings OTR to the subject of Christine O'Donnell, Republican candidate for Senator from Delaware.

Though not yet certifiably loony, new direction candidate O'Donnell brings plenty of personal, well-publicized baggage into the campaign. There's no need to make a list here; let's just say it's broad and colorful and somewhat odd. Unfortunately, with so much baggage comes the nagging question that there could be more, and if so, what it could reveal. And guess what! There is more baggage, and Bill Maher, host of HBO's Real Time and a popular left-wing mouthpiece, is ready to reveal it. It seems that O'Donnell made several appearances on Maher's earlier show, Politically Incorrect, in the late '90s. The subject matter could easily turn this campaign into a circus. Here's a link with the details.

O'Donnell may survive this madness and become a senator. If that's the case, OTR should be pleased because he likes to see balance on Capitol Hill. And Dennis Kucinich could use the company. If O'Donnell loses, it will be a lesson for any political movement or party that thorough vetting is an essential ingredient of successful politics.

Story and link source: John Hinderaker, Powerline Blog

Thursday, September 16, 2010

UPDATE: Vote For Viable

Another thoughtful post on the Buckley Rule, the Limbaugh Rule, and the viable candidate debate has appeared on Powerline. Here is your link.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Vote For Viable

This year is rapidly shaping up as a test of the so-called Buckley Rule. That rule, put forth by the late William F. Buckley Jr., states that conservatives should vote for the most right-leaning viable candidate in order to win elections in the United States. The rule emerges out of our long-standing national penchant for rejecting candidates from the ideological fringe, both left and right. To win most elections in our two party system, candidates must appeal to centrist or independent voters. Candidates who appreciate and understand the appeal of "softness" will win out over ideological purity every time. Many years ago during my training in federal service, I was taught that "softness is not weakness." I witnessed those words in practice as a petite self defense instructor threw an opponent three times her size into submission and left him begging for mercy. Never underestimate the power of softness.

Barack Obama was portrayed as a soft transformer and the voters were only too happy to buy into his candidacy. I am convinced that, had the national press done its job of vetting him as the European-style socialist he is, he never would have survived the primary election process. Can't do much about that now; however, the upcoming mid-term election offers conservatives a golden opportunity to avoid this ideological pitfall. And though I welcome the Tea Party movement into the political arena, it is making an appeal to the centrists somewhat of a challenge. This is especially important because there will be no leftist media effort to provide cover for one's fringe ideology. In fact, the leftist press will be delighted to focus on "right-wing extremists" whenever possible.

That brings us to two Senate primaries, Nevada and Delaware, where Republican voters have nominated the more "extreme" candidate to face a Democratic challenger in the general election. In both cases, the nominations have potentially jeopardized almost certain "pick-ups" in the Senate for the Republican Party. To me, winning the Senate is significant because the Senate confirms Supreme Court nominations. The pending Republican take over in the House will shut down the budgetary side of Obama's socialist agenda. It would be a joy to shut down his court appointments as well.

Will the people side with the Buckley Rule and elect viable conservative candidates? Will the revolutionary fervor of anti-incumbency, and the new party with its ideological "purity" also carry new candidates to victory? Or will that same ideological "purity" be turned into right-wing extremism and drive the "soft" vote into the hands of the Democratic Party and a continuing majority in the Senate?

For more on this issue, check out The Corner-September 14 and 15, at National Review Online, Powerline-same dates, and today's entries at Urgent Agenda.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Rosenbergs Never Spied, Alger Hiss Was A Martyr, And Mao Killed Only A Few Who Needed Killing

My favorite analyst, Dr. Sanity, has some wisdom for us wrapped around the equally wise observations about academia by the Selma Oracle, Victor Davis Hanson. What a refreshing reality check! Thanks to Instapundit, OTR also found this Atlantic article on mass confirmation bias, a subject that ties directly into the therapy administered by Drs. Sanity and Hanson.

OTR finds it useless to attempt an improvement or elaboration on the message these posts bring to the reader, but he highly recommends the interesting message thread following the Atlantic post.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

"He Was Coherent But Just Not Rational"

A leftist enviro-wacko died today at the Discovery Channel building in Sliver Spring, Maryland, after taking three hostages in protest over the cable network's programming. The event was telling enough, but a follow-up story in the Washington Post had an equally chilling quote from one Cynthia Philpott.

She and her boyfriend were new to Washington in 2008 when they decided to attend one of the enviro-wacko's Discovery Channel protests out of curiosity. Philpott related that his behavior was a bit challenging, but she followed up her comments with this remark:
He was coherent but just not rational.
I have written several posts over the past two years expressing my concern over what seems to be a national shift from a delicate social balance governed by reason to one governed by emotion. It is an "Alice in Wonderland" experience for the participant-observer to watch what is happening on the wrinkled edges of both political extremes in our nation. Even the words begin to lose their meanings and any hope of successful communication as a bridge to positive change is met with serious challenges. I will be interested to see how many old and new media folks catch Philpott's telling phrase and examine it for the pathology it represents. The analysis should be quite interesting, particularly of those "searchers" who may feel a bit unhinged over capitalism, the planet, and the implosion of the Soviet Union in late 1991. It is unfortunate that they seem to be ascendant lately.