Bob Beckel’s Take on Barack Obama’s Silence Regarding Iran

Sometimes I almost feel sorry for Bob Beckel … almost. I do admire his courage for being the lone liberal on Hannity’s “Great American Panel” on Fox News.

Tonight, he’s in the position of defending Obama’s silence regarding the popular uprising in Iran  related to that country’s recent election. Beckel stated that he felt Obama was advised to remain quiet to prevent the current regime from having an excuse to crack down harder on the protesters. He stated that he felt Obama making a statement in favor of the protesters would give the regime an excuse to blame the current uprisings on the United States and it would, as a consequence, deal more harshly with the protesters.

Who else thinks that the current paranoid government of Iran actually needs an excuse to blame the current uprising on the United States or any other western power? It has never appeared to me that the current despotic government of Iran has needed any excuse to blame the United States for any and everything that they couldn’t deal with intelligently.

According to a recent report, as many as 28 million people in Iran may have voted against Ahmadenejad as opposed to the less than 7 million who were reported to have voted for him. Those are fairly impressive numbers … more than 4 to 1 against the current Iranian leader. It’s highly unlikely that 28 million Iranians have all of a sudden become pro American. After more than 30 years of oppression by their despotic government, it’s much more likely that the 28 million are simply voting against their current rulers and simply prefer anything or anyone rather than who’s in power now.

So, the question really is, “Is President Obama protecting the protesters from greater oppression and harm; or, is he simply dropping the ball by not providing them with moral support and encouragement that they may desperately need?” What’s wrong with the leader of America simply stating that America favors free and open elections where evey qualified person’s vote counts … in any country? Has he forgotten that this very premise is the reason the United States of America was founded, the reason for the American Revolution, the desire for the American colonists to have representation and not feel disenfranchised by their government? Apparently, voicing the founding principle of this country sticks in President Obama’s craw. Fear of the reaction of a two bit dictator in Iran quells him into silence.

Apparently, hundreds of Iranians may have already lost their lives in the ongoing protests with thousands more injured and jailed. Does the Iranian government really need an excuse to crack down further on the protesters? Those Iranian protesters have infinitely more courage than our president.

The deafening silence of the current administration does send a message … both to Americans and Iranians. If the election in Iran was so corrupt that millions of Iranians feel the election was stolen from them, the United States government led by the Obama administration will do nothing, not even by simply providing a verbal message of support for free and honest elections in that country.

So, Bob Beckel finds himself in the position of somehow having to defend the Obama administration for remaining silent to “protect” the protesters.

Where would we be today if Ronald Reagan had not said, “Mr. Gorbechev, tear down this wall.”? Would the Berliners have had the courage to eventually confront their communist oppressors and bring the end to the division of Germany and the eventual destruction of the “Iron Curtain” that imprisoned Eastern Europe for most of my lifetime? It’s entirely possible that they and other eastern Europeans might have reached the same point today without the encouragement of President Reagan. But, it’s also a definite fact that every action that President Reagan took was aimed at that goal … to assist the Eastern Europeans in obtaining their freedom … and his speeches and actions didn’t hinder the process.

Well, as far as foreign policy and diplomacy are concerned, Barack Obama isn’t even in the same ballpark with Ronald Reagan. He doesn’t even hold a candle to the bungling JFK. At least Kennedy had the courage of his convictions even if he bungled repeatedly due to his naivety.

The current situation in Iran and the lack of response from Obama brings into question exactly what Barack Obama’s convictions are; or, if he, in fact, has any.This man makes the timid Jimmy Carter look like Atilla the Hunand that’s pretty amazing.

How Do Car Dealerships Cost Auto Makers Money?

This is a question that has confounded me since first hearing the announcements that more than 700 Chrysler dealerships would be forced to close, loosing their franchises, and that about 1000 GM dealerships would loose their franchises and be forced to close.

Anyone looking at this would think that closing dealerships is simply insanity. Dealerships sell cars. They make money for the auto makers. In fact, when you look at the dealerships that are loosing their franchises from Chrysler, many are among the best dealerships that Chrysler has, selling the most cars and have the best service records and customer satisfaction.

And that may be the root of the problem.

Dealerships that provide the best service to customers and have the highest rates of customer satisfaction along with repeat sales are the dealerships that also provide the best service to their customers … including WARRANTY WORK.

Warranty work or service on automobiles DO cost the automakers money … because they, the automakers, are billed by the dealerships for the work, not the customer.

So, the more warranty work that a dealership does, and does well, creating more satisfied customers, the more it costs the automakers.

Okay, I was born in 1951. I’m old enough to remember the days when nearly every small town of any size had at least one car dealership. All right. I know that “small town” and “of any size” is a little contradictory; but if you’ve grown up in a small town, you understand my meaning. Let’s say a small town of some size is around 3,000 people. I lived near a small town of some size that had about 3,000 people and four car dealerships: Chevrolet, Chrysler, Pontiac/GM and Ford. Of course, those were also the days when you could actually custom order an automobile and it would arrive as specified in about two to four weeks. Everyone knew all of the dealers, their kids, their mechanics and their kids.

Then “progress” came and the small town dealers were forced out of business. The “super” dealerships came into being. They were all located in small to medium sized “cities” and everyone in the small towns had to drive anywhere from 20 to 50 miles to get service. Also the day of custom ordering a car became history also … all in the name of “progress”.

What this progress meant was that it was harder or less convenient to get your automobile serviced, warranty or otherwise.

My suspicion is that the primary reason for forcing dealerships to close is to hopefully decrease the amount of warranty work that the auto manufacturers will have to pay for.

I know that a lot has been written about the high number of dealerships whose owners have been primarily Republican donors which are being forced to close. Personally, I don’t doubt that this might have been a contributing motive for the Obama Administrations “Auto Czar”, Steven Rattner,  in making the selections. This man is simply too sleazy for that not to be a possibility. But, there must have been some unexpressed rationale for the closures other than that, something equally despicable that no one would want to express openly … therefore, my conclusion that it had to be an attempt to reduce warranty work which does cost the auto makers money.

This would also be a logical explanation why some of the best dealerships are being forced to close. The service that they provide to their customers is simply too good.

After reading about the closings and the uproar which resulted from the appearance that nearly all of the dealerships being forced to close were those owned by Republican donors, I decided to look at the local situation in the Charleston area. It turns out that the dealership in my area being primarily affected is Hoover Chrysler/Dodge/Plymouth. The owner of this dealership is also listed as a Republican donor. Hoover is being forced to close three dealerships in the Charleston area … but, it is being allowed to keep one open, in the Summerville area, I believe.

If competition among dealerships was a bad thing, I doubt that Mr. Hoover would have had four dealerships competing with one another. I suspect that he owned all four to make more money and, therefore made more money for Chrysler. But, by being able to provide that much more service, including warranty work, those four dealerships were also costing Chrysler more money.

So, my hypothesis … fewer dealerships =  less service = less warranty work = less expense = more profit.

That is my conclusion.

As perverse as it seems, it’s a kind of “Amtrak” mentality of reducing expenses … even if it kills the golden goose. And, basically, it follows the same premise, that, if your only goal is to preserve union jobs, then you really don’t care about quality or service but are only interested in placating a voting block at any cost to anyone else.

Watching Rachel Maddow on MSNBC

Last night, I awoke from a nap and decided to do a little channel surfing down ( and to the left) in the news media range of channels to see what the “other channels” were talking about. I was actually headed for CNN but went one number too far and wound up on MSNBC. It’s both ironic and appropriate that both of these channels, at least in my viewing area, are assigned smaller numbers than Fox News. In our English language writing left to right, it puts both of them to the left and naturally lower in value.

The anchor, or show star as she turned out to be, was Rachel Maddow of the Rachel Maddow Show, some sort of purulent personality that MSNBC managed to dredge out of some fermenting cesspool. She was bantering with another airhead, Ana Marie Cox, of , appropriately enough, Air America … a slight misnomer. This woman was, as reported by Air America, hired by them to report on, among other things, happenings on Main Street America. She sounds more like someone they scrapped off of Back Street America when they came upon her soliciting in the red light district.

These women were commenting on the activities of 15 April by the tens of thousands who were protesting the Obama Administration’s dramatic spending spree, Conservatives go teabagging. They seemed to be sharing some inside joke about “tea bagging” in reference to the Tea Parties that were being held all across the nation.They thought it was particularly humorous that people were actually wearing tea bags on their glasses, hats and other accessories.

I got the distinct impression that I was eavesdropping on two crab infested hookers at a clip joint rather than listening to two news commentators discussing the day’s events.

Apparently, one of several definitions of “tea bagging” is a crude slang reference for a person experiencing oral sex from another actually having the scrotum and contents taken into the mouth of the other person.

Frankly, it struck me that the two women appeared to be sharing some mutual experience on that matter … possibly job related … or something.

It WAS interesting … but I was looking for some alternative information on the news and wasn’t particularly seeking information on these two women’s sex lives or obtaining any insight into their sexual preferences.

Needless to say, it simply reaffirmed my impression of MSNBC. Now I know if I’m looking for some Jerry Springer type of entertainment, I can count on MSNBC to giving me my fill. So much for news though …

Yeah. Rachel is the slug and MSNBC is the rock she crawls out from under on a weekly basis.

Another “Mark to Market” Debate is Approaching

In an article published on CNBC’s website, Death To Mark-To-Market – Tomorrows Playbook –, it was pointed out that on April 2, 2009 regulators will again reconsider the official position on the “Mark-to-market” rule that was initiated in November of 2007.

This has become one of the most controversial aspects of the current financial crisis with support for maintaining the rule coming from such stalwarts as Tim Geithner, Ben Bernanke and Paul Volcker, all prominent players in the Obama administration.

Opponents of the “mark to market rule” aren’t without considerable financial expertise also.

Former FDIC Chair William Isaac placed much of the blame for the subprime mortgage crisis on the Securities and Exchange Commission and its fair-value accounting rules, especially the requirement for banks to “mark-to-market” their assets, particularly mortgage-backed securities.[6] Whether or not this is true has been the subject of ongoing debate. [7][8]

As mentioned in a previous article, Why Not Suspend “Mark to Market”? other noted experts such as Steve Forbes have also opposed the rule.

The issue was first addressed in this blog in the articles, Bail out, Investment or Moot Point? and Was John McCain Right About Wanting to Fire SEC Chairman Cox? « Earl says ….

My Second Argument for Passenger Rail: The Electric Car

Now, with the change in administrations, we’re being told that the electric car is going to be our salvation … as well as the salvation of the Detroit “Big Three” … General Motors, Chrysler and Ford.

Okay. …???

I have a few questions that I’ll preface with some news about a new electric car that was widely publicized last weekend.

This electric car which is being manufactured in southern California, is a three wheeled vehicle which will “go as far as 100 miles on a single charge”. (Then it will have to sit for 8 to 10 hours to be recharged.) It will go from 0 to 90 (mph) in 10 seconds … real zippy. And, it can carry (up to) two passengers, three golf bags and several briefcases (a quote). And that 100 miles per charge is with a full load (all of those items and people listed above).

Okay … well … that’s great.

I live in Charleston, SC and … if I want to go to Folly Beach, Kiawah Island, or Seabrook Island … or even Sullivan’s Island or the Isle of Palms, I can do the round trip. But, what if I want to go to the beach at Edisto Island … about 52 miles away? Oops!!

I guess I’ll have to spend a few hundred dollars to get a room and plan for an overnight stay … or carry the camping gear and stay at the state park there.

If I decide to go to Columbia which is about 115 miles from Charleston, should I carry my camping gear and plan for an overnight trip … and where am I going to “plug in” to recharge? Maybe they’ll install an “outlet strip” at the truck stop on the way there … and I’m not talking about a shopping outlet.

Myrtle Beach is 90 miles away … definitely plan for an overnight … at least. Savannah is 110 miles to the southeast … definitely an overnighter, again, but I can stay at the KOA at Point South to “charge up” and … I hear they have a jacuzzi.

Well …, have I made my first point?

Next …

Has anyone out there bought a replacement battery for your cell phone … or better (worse) yet … for your camcorder? That cell phone battery currently costs about $30 to $40 … and that camcorder battery may set you back over $100. Hey … replace that battery in your laptop and you’re looking at several hundred dollars.

Can you imagine what a battery pack for an automobile will cost? A simple battery (lead acid) to start a conventional automobile will set you back anywhere from $60 to more than $100. What will a nickel cadmium, metal hydride or lithium ion battery that is large enough and powerful enough cost that will power a car? And, they will have to be replaced. And, as the sophistication increases and lack of “memory” decreases, the number of potential recharges decreases and the cost increases.

This electric car that was showcased last weekend will sell for $25,000 to $40,000. How much of that cost is the battery? Something to think about …

And …

Where is all of this electricity going to come from? How is it going to be generated?

Well, disregarding that bolt of lightening that just struck you in the ass, electricity doesn’t just …”poof” … appear.

It has to be generated … from coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear power plants.

Hey … wait. “They” say it’s going to be generated from “renewable” sources. Like what … wind, solar, hydroelectric? The environmentalists want “green” sources of energy … sure. Except, they just don’t want it in their backyard … or yours either … if they can see it … or hear it … or if some blind bird might fly into it … or if the power transmission lines might interfere with the migratory path of a desert turtle … or if it inconveniences the salmon. So, what’s left?

And …

How much “more” electricity are these electric automobiles going to require? Has everyone forgotten about “brownouts”? What’s going to happen one summer day when everyone in LA comes home, cranks down the thermostat on their air conditioning and plug their 50 or 100,000 electric automobiles in?

And …

If there are currently about 100 million gas guzzling automobiles being used now, is everyone, in one fell swoop, going to trade in their gasohol burner and get an electric car? I don’t think so. For one thing, a lot of people simply won’t be able to afford them. Second, for a lot of people, an awful lot of people, they are simply impractical.

Unless …

Yes, unless, we have some alternative, convenient and economical form of intermediate and long distance transportation.

And, I don’t think air travel can, or ever will be able to, handle the increase in volume that would ensue from a change from using automobiles for intermediate and long distance travel. Period.

The only logical extension of converting to electric cars is a massive reimplementation of passenger rail … a logical conclusion which is blaringly and evidently lacking in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The funds which have been “vaguely” dedicated to “mass transportaion” and “rail” amount to little more than 1% of the massive spending bill. Maybe it will be part of the next trillion or two the Obama administration and Democratic Congress will eventually spend.

If I’ve made any errors here, someone … please … enlighten me.

By the way, most of the electric cars that I’ve heard about only get about 60 mile to the charge …

Well, scratch a day trip to the Isle of Palms, Kiawah or Seabrook … just too close to call

And General Motors making an electric car …

I don’t think they could make one cheaply enough or charge enough to get out of the debt hole they’re in … well maybe if they charged $100,000 per car.