Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Scary Kerry!!

By now, most of the readers of this blog have heard of the latest outrageous comments by John "I Served In Vietnam" Kerry. He stated to a group of students:

"You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. And if you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."

The implication is that stupid people are in the military.

I must take issue with that implication - the graduates of West Point, Annapolis, and the Air Force Academy are among the most intelligent people on the planet with phenomenal leadership skills. And many of the volunteer soldiers serving in our armed forces are professionals in from fields such as engineering, police, law, and business. And I guarantee you that I would not want stupid people in charge of multi-billion dollar weapon systems and nuclear weapons.

While Kerry has not apologized for his comments, he has made a rather superfluous explanation that it was a joke gone bad. Oh really?

My take on this is that Senator Flip-Flop has a rather low opinion of the people serving in the military. Otherwise, such a reference would never have been made. Perhaps he has a low opinion of himself as a result of serving in the military, hmmmm?

But what is really scary is that this idiot could have been elected President!!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Superhero Day

Heard on the radio yesterday & today that in a Long Beach High School they were celebrating a "superhero day" where the students could dress up as their favorite superhero. Three senior girls dressed up as Captain Underpants and showed up in flesh-colored leotards, capes, and, of course, underpants.  The principle thought that the costumes were just a little too suggestive, and sent the girls home to change.

There's a couple of things that I'm a little confused about (OK, more than a couple, but we won't discuss that at this point in time):

  1. Long Beach is in California, where it seems that almost anything goes anyway.  What seems to be the problem with girls dressing up in flesh-colored leotards, capes, & underwear if you can't see anything? Linda Carter did that while acting in the "Wonder Woman" series...
  2. This High School has other related activities scheduled for their Senior Week:  Monday was Switch Day, where boys dressed like girls and vice versa. Tuesday was Nerd Day. Wednesday was Superhero day.  Thursday is Spirit Day, where they wear school colors, blue and white. Friday is Pirate Day.  So exactly when do the students learn anything?

Yep, students sure are preparing for life and learning after high school - on your tax dollar!!

Monday, October 23, 2006

What I Think...

This is what I think on a few choice subjects...

The War in Iraq:

When it was announced that the United States was giving Iraq's Saddam Hussein an ultimatum in response to the non-compliance of UN resolutions, I really didn't like the implications. Going into Iraq without UN support, i.e., alone, was not the right thing to do. I was concerned that the second Bush was going to do what the first Bush didn't do (and was severely criticized for) - get rid of Saddam Hussein. While the intelligence at the time supported the invasion of Iraq, Saddam had too much time to bury or otherwise get rid of his WMD arsenal. However, as I've posted here and on numerous comments on other blogs, the United States cannot leave Iraq without a self-sustaining government - the danger of Iraq descending into chaos and taking the region with it is too great.

The War on Terrorism:

As stated in several previous posts, negotiation with terrorists should never be an option. They should be found and prosecuted with every means at the disposal of the United States government and the governments of the world. And it can be done if the politicians get out of the way...

War in General:

War is the last resort after diplomacy has failed, and should be avoided, but not at all costs. Giving away everything you believe in just for the sake of peace is a deal with the devil, and will not, in the long run, achieve the desired result of peace. War is unhealthy for all the participants, both for soldiers and civilians alike. I do not want war, nor do I promote it - I just know that in some situations it cannot be avoided.


Illegal immigration is a blight on our country, and a subject that politicians would rather avoid. Just mentioning this topic raises many feelings that are not, shall we say, are very civilized. I do not have a problem with people immigrating to this country legally, but to reward those that come here by illegal means and then defend their actions grates against my law-abiding nature. It also gets me that illegal immigrants are eligible for Social Security benefits, driver's licenses, & other governmental services (your tax dollars!!), and the politicians just give the wink & a nod & ignore this problem.

Michigan's Proposal 2:

Michigan's Proposal 2 states:


The proposed constitutional amendment would:

* Ban public institution from using affirmative action programs that give preferential treatment to groups or individuals based on their race, gender, color, ethnicity or national origin for public employment, education or contracting purposes. Public institution affected by this proposal include state government, local governments, public colleges and universities, community colleges and school districts.

* Prohibit public institutions from discriminating against groups or individuals due to their gender, ethnicity, race, color or national origin. (A separate provision of the state constitution already prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin.)

On the surface, this looks like a good idea. I have problems with quotas wrapped in the guise of affirmative action. Everyone should have an equal bite at the apple, but the deciding factor should be on the person's ability & merit, not race or gender. Unfortunately, what has happened is not fair and is patronizing to those people that the program is supposedly helping. In an earlier post, I wrote the following of what Martin Luther King had envisioned for the Negro people:

His vision looked for the Negro people to stand side by side with the White people as equals, and to get there by self-sufficiency, not by a government mandate. He wanted his people to rise up to their potential, to stand on their own two feet, not by some law or subsidy. Patronage of the Negro was not his vision, but to join the human race as equals to any other ethnic group, to enjoy the fruits of hard labor through equal opportunity, and not through quotas.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Flawed Compromise Thinking

It doesn't really matter if you are dealing with a used car salesman, a North Korean dictator, or an al Qaeda terrorist, negotiation relies on two things: If all parties are willing to give up something to get what they want, and if they are willing to keep their word. Which of the previous three people do you think you could strike a deal with that would stick?

There are so many people out there that are repeating the line "Why can't we all get along?" and yet never stop to think about why that is. They believe that everyone is just like them, rational and willing to talk things over to the point of working out whatever problem there is between them, and sticking to the agreement. The fatal flaw in this line of thought is that everyone isn't like them, isn't trustworthy, and will do theirdamnest to break any agreement at the earliest point in time when they can get away with it and it is most advantageous to them.

Need examples? OK, here goes...

North Korea snookered ol' Bill into giving them nuclear technology, and then broke their promise & built a nuclear bomb. Radial Islamic terrorists will break their word to all infidels because their interpretation of their religion will allow it (talk to Israel on their negotiation history with any of the multitudes of Arab countries around them). From the historical perspective, there's always poor Neville Chamberlain who gave away another country in a futile attempt to keep Nazi Germany from going to war (and we know how that turned out). Last, Iran's nuclear program is on & off the table so much that I've lost track of where they are at, but would you trust their president to keep his word on anything dealing with the restriction of nuclear weapons development in Iran? Not with him promising the end of Israel first and the rest of the world second to create an Islamic-controlled world...

Is there any question that this is why diplomacy, negotiations, and compromise will not work in the long run with Islamic radicals/terrorists such as al Qaeda & Hezbollah, countries such as North Korea & Iran, and a host of other untrustworthy nutjobs from around the world? Not in my mind.

Yes, I do agree that peace should be given a chance to work, but you had better be prepared and have the resolve to go to war. Otherwise, we might as well just give up & pledge allegiance to Allah, put the women in burkas, scrap the Constitution & Bill of Rights, and put all of the "undesirables" according to Islamic law (such as Christians, Jews, Buddhists, atheists, homosexuals, Feminists, free-thinkers & other non-Islamics) to death.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Call Now For This Special Offer!!!!

Yes, if you call now, you can receive, at no cost to you, the celebrated Bill Clinton / Jimmy Carter Nuclear Proliferation package!! No money down (ever!)!! Be the first in your hemisphere to own a nuclear power plant and all the perks that go with it!! IS THAT A DEAL OR WHAT?!?!?!

Included in this exclusive package offered by the respectable Despot & Dictator Appeasement Company (LLC) are all the materials & resources needed to build TWO - yes, TWO of your own nuclear reactors! Also included are easy to follow instructions, and over $1,000,000,000 to fund this once in a lifetime opportunity!!

And if you call before supplies run out, look at the Bonus Gifts that you will receive:

  • A Micheal Jordon Autographed Basketball!! (Micheal Jordan not included, display case extra)
  • A lifetime supply of peanuts!! Just perfect for watching missile launches!!
  • And to wash down those peanuts, a limited supply of Billy Beer!!
  • Lead lined underwear!! Now you can watch the blue glow of nuclear fission in your own personal nuclear reactor and protect those valuable family assets!
  • A Classic Movie subscription to such classics as Dr. Strangelove, A Boy and His Dog, the Mad Maxx series, and other post-nuclear apocalypse favorites.
  • A lifetime pass to the Bill Clinton Presidential Library, where you can view such exhibits such as:
    • A blue dress once worn by Monica (small stain on the shoulder).
    • A cigar reputed to have been "smoked" without actually being lit.
    • Papers from Travelgate and the Rose Law Firm.
  • And as a special Bonus, vacation property in the famous Whitewater retirement community!!

But wait!! That's not all!!

As part of this special and exclusive offer, a non-inspection package that will keep those pesky Useless Nations nuclear inspectors out of your hair!! Yes, you have the freedom to build in peace those wonders of nuclear power. But only if you call now!! Operators are not standing by!!

Call now at 1-800-GET-NUKE!!

(Some restrictions apply. Not to be used for developing nuclear weapons - only your promise is necessary to secure this offer. Satisfaction is not guaranteed.)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

130 Posts & A Year Later...

Yes, this is the 130th post of Tom's Common Sense, and exactly one year after the first post. It's been an interesting ride.

I originally wanted to post about my concerns with the business situation at Delphi, but soon was drawn into other subjects - politics, social issues, humor, Iraq, terrorism, and others. Some things have stayed the same, others have changed.

Also, not being content with the standard Blogger templates, the look of Tom's Common Sense has changed several times, and an index of past posts by subject was created to allow you, the reader, to see what I've had to say about various subjects. Hopefully, this has helped some of you, although this might change in the future. Blogger's Beta looks promising in allowing each post to have a subject, similer to Wordpress and others. If anyone has switched over to the new Blogger Beta, please let me know what you think of it.

Other improvements to the template most commented on have been the Points to Ponder as well as the Notable Posts. I'm looking at changing these slightly as it requires that I modify the template each time these need to be changed. And that's a pain at times.

The biggest change is that I'm having problems visiting everyone else's blogs - life is busy between job & family. I'm not on the road as much, and this has reduced the time that I once had (I would write posts and visit everyone else's blogs instead of watching TV). Hopefully, I will touch base with everyone once in a while, and I thank everyone for visiting this blog. Your comments and support have been overwhelming.

Last, I would like you, the reader, to tell me what you like or dislike about this blog. Subjects, look of the blog, or what you would like to read about. Any additional Points to Ponder that you would like to contribute and what your favorites are. Same goes for the posts that would appear in the Notable Posts. Operators are not standing by, but the comment section and email address are open for your comments.

Again, Thank You Everyone!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Appeasement Still Doesn't Work!!

And neither, apparently, do good wishes, either...

I'm writing about how our buddy Bill "I didn't have sex with that woman" Clinton gave a reported $1 Billion in technology, information, and materials to North Korea in exchange for nothing but a promise to use all that stuff to help the people of North Korea. So now North Korea has the bomb, a missile to deliver that bomb, and still has people starving in the streets. What a bargain!!

What's really disturbing is that Iran and North Korea are the remaining two countries of the infamous "Axis of Evil." With the Useless Nations potentially cracking down on North Korea, don't you think that Iran just might buy the bomb from their buddies? I do, and their first target will be Tel Aviv (that's in Israel for those people in Rio Linda). What happens after that will be anyone's guess.

At least they'll have another exhibit to display at the Clinton Presidential Library - A picture of smoking ruins under a mushroom cloud. It should display nicely next to that blue dress with the stain on the shoulder...

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Service-Based Economy

While digging through some old files to figure out what to pitch & what to keep, I ran across the following article originally written by the editor of Manufacturing Engineering magazine in 2003:

Wake Up, Brie Eaters!

Brian J. Hogan, Editor

Not long ago, Ingersoll Milling Machine closed its doors. Another great US machine-tool company bites the dust, and its closure isn't worth an inch of copy in the typical American newspaper. What has happened, and continues to happen, to the US machine tool industry is symptomatic of something much broader - a general failure on the part of this country's political leadership to understand the value of American industrial society.

Keeping a machine tool industry, and a manufacturing culture, alive and well is basically a political decision. Germany has made that decision, as have Japan, Italy,Taiwan, and Switzerland. China clearly understands the importance of machine tools, and the manufacturing enterprise.

In contrast, the people who form much of our political leadership are the kind of liberal-arts-loving snobs who think engineering colleges are trade schools, and physics/math/chem/biology majors are boring nerds. When people of this sort wind up running big companies, they view the engineers who work for them as servants, and their factory-floor workers as interchangeable serfs. When they go into politics, they spend their time pacifying the latest trendy group of victims. To this layer of self-satisfied individuals, neither the machine tool industry nor the manufacturing enterprise matters. These brie-munching, wine-sipping characters will sit lumpishly and watch the destruction of the technical foundations of the US, understanding nothing, and doing nothing.

The prosperity of the US rests upon the real wealth generated by a short list of activities: extractive industries, agriculture, and manufacturing. Every other line of work takes the money earned in these fields and shuffles it around & distributes it. Your local lawyer does not generate wealth, and neither does ye olde stockbroker.

Technology supports the economy of this nation-state, but our politics are dominated by people whose technical expertise doesn't extend beyond using a television remote. This situation is dangerous. The brie eaters have got to wake up and support what is left of the US machine tool industry. In fact, they've got to encourage the revival of that industry, and move to strengthen US manufacturing, or the entity we call the United States will be in the soup.

None of this means I'm attacking offshore builders or offshore manufacturers for goodness sake, those companies bring superb technology and wonderful products into the US, and their equipment is keeping US manufacturing alive. I'm complaining about our so-called leaders and legislators who are indifferent to manufacturing. They don't understand or refuse to understand that machine tools really are, as the Japanese say, Mother Machines. Politicians who ignore the condition of the machine tool industry are fools.

While the above example uses the machine tool industry as an example of a declining industrial base, there are many other industries that are just as affected. I can think of the automotive industry right off the bat. Just this past week, in view of declining sales and manufacturing reductions, parts supplier Detroit Axle is now starting to offer buyouts to its Union employees. GM, Ford, and Delphi (just to name a few) have all offered buyouts as part of their restructuring plans. This declining ability to make parts and products will eventually weaken this country.

The point is that I remember my high school economics class making the arguement that the real worth of a country is its industrial capability to manufacture goods. These goods have an intrinsic worth which is the sum of materials and time used to make them. Now we are entering into what is known now as a "service-based" economy.

This economy is the ability to shuffle money around based on time and talent. On the surface, it just doesn't seem to be too bad - we sell our services to overseas companies, and they sell us our material goods. Doesn't sound too bad, does it?

One of the problems is that intellectual property is such a tricky thing to keep proprietary. Once something has been done, then it can usually be reverse engineered by those companies or countries without the ethics or legislation to prohibit these actions. Think of pirated DVDs for sale in China (and beyond) and I think you get the general idea.

Another problem is that if your country buys its machinery or goods from another country and it breaks down, then how are you going to get replacement parts or the widget fixed? If that supplier doesn't have an office or supply depot in your country, it could take months to get a replacement part or a service person to come & fix it. I have seen this very situation more often than what I care to admit.

Government's position in this process is two-fold: The first is to promote policies that encourage manufacturing companies to set up shop and remain in the United States. These policies could range from tax incentives to development loans or grants. These policies are used by foreign countries to companies to provide them not only an incentive to stay within their borders, but to bolster their economies as well. For them, it's a win-win situation, especially if it allows them to compete on the world stage.

The second is to make sure that companies compete on a "level playing field". NAFTA, CAFTA, and granting foreign countries favorable trading partner status does nothing to secure jobs and factories in this country. When the economies of third world countries have a standard of living far below that of the United States, the advantage goes to them as wages are hugely disproportionate. I have posted several articles on this topic, and the upshot is that their economies & standards of living will not rise to meet ours, but ours will fall to meet theirs.

The governor of Michigan has gotten a lot of heat in campaign ads, and rightly so. Michigan has lost so many manufacturing jobs it is pathetic. The economic plan is a disaster, and no relief is in sight.

But it doesn't matter what part of the country you live in, this should be a nationwide concern. If the jobs go elsewhere, what else is next?

So in this midterm election, make sure you know where the candidates of your choice stand on this issue. You have just a little over 30 days to find out before the election.