Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie and Chevrolet

George Bush has joined the malodorous southern Republicans in their heinous attempt to drive US automakers into bankruptcy. From the Washington Post:

An "orderly" bankruptcy may be the best way of handling the struggling U.S. auto industry, President Bush indicated today as he spoke before the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington think tank. However, he said he hasn’t decided what action he will take, the Associated Press reports.

Perino said: "The president is not going to allow a disorderly collapse of the companies. A disorderly collapse would be something very chaotic that is a shock to the system."

Bush and the American auto killers are flat out determined to drive the country to ruin and kill the last remaining hard industry the nation has, it appears. And they are able to do so because so much of the country is ill informed to completely uninformed about the real nature of American auto.

In the previous post, Marcy described how Bill Ford schooled Larry King on the truth about Ford Motor Company and the backup credit line they wish to have available should it be necessary. Well, now I am here do a little edifying about General Motors.

Remember all that bashing administered by Richard Shelby, Bob Corker, Jim DeMint and so many other union busting types about "the failed business model", the "backwards out of date products", and the failure to transform to a company for the future? It is hard to tell whether this is a knowing lie or just rank ignorance. Time to school the foreign coddling, un-American, Dixie union and industry busters; a southern man doesn’t need them around anyhow.

First off, that plan for a profitable and sustainable future with progressive products that the Congress keeps demanding? It is already in progress; and, hey Republican nimrods, it has been for almost four years, since 2005. The following information bits are excerpted from various GM information releases forwarded to me by a senior executive at General Motors headquarters.

As to the need to shift from huge SUVs and large trucks and towards efficient cars and smaller crossover vehicles, GM is already doing that:

Eleven of our last 13 new or major launches in the U.S. were cars or crossovers.

Take the Chevy Malibu, for example, which has won 29 industry awards so far, including the 2008 North American Car of the Year. And consumers are reacting with enthusiasm… as Read more

Okay, Okay, Invade Michigan. But You Can’t Have the Coaches Back.

John Cole has found a solution to the Big 2.5’s woes–and frankly, it sounds a whole lot smarter than Bob Corker’s plan to require two corporations to revoke the pensions of a bunch of blue collar retirees. And he’s right–the Republicans are gonna love this plan.

His solution? Invade Michigan, make it safe for democracy again.

We need to invade Michigan and rebuild the state from the ground up. We will be greeted as liberators, we have clear supply lines, and we can easily rebuild the auto industry with the kind of money we spend on other countries we invade. Hell, our new Secretary of State, Hillary of Clinton, spent the better part of the past year fighting for the rights of average folks from Michigan, so think of the good will we have with the public. This is very doable. Just tell Congress we will give KBR no-bid contracts to fix Detroit.

Thing is, I’m a little suspicious of John’s motives. You see, John’s from West Virginia, and he’s a sports fan. 

I just have this awful feeling that John’s great plan is really a plot to come to Michigan and steal back the two coaches we stole from West Virginia, hoops coach John Beilein and football coach Rich Rodriguez. Sure sure, Rodriguez hasn’t yet worked out like we’d like. But Michigan’s basketball victory over Duke is one of the only good things that has happened to Michigan of late (I mean, think of the Lions!!), and I’m just not willing to give Beilein back.

So, fine. If you must, invade Michigan. Please bring bales of cash, just like they did in Iraq.

But you can’t have our sports coaches.

Still in Turkey Coma Open Thread

I should say "back in turkey coma" since I just had a hot turkey sandwich and feel a giant nap coming on.

The turkey, btw, was absolutely superb–those crazies who think turkey doesn’t taste good are like Sunday school teachers who poo poo sex because, well, let’s just say they were never really credible experts about the subject. When I bit into my first bite of white meat last night I was shocked at how rich the taste was.

It took me about an hour to prepare the chestnuts for the stuffing–but the time was worth it. Sadly, even though I started with 12 cups of bread cubes, there is no stuffing left.

And even though, in a fit of distraction, I almost ended up with pumpkin flavored scrambled eggs, the pies were very yummy, too. If you’re not already using Northern Spy apples for your apple pies, you should try it. Just the apples and a generous (okay, very generous) grating of nutmeg and you’ve got the perfect intense flavor and strong tartness to hold up to a buttery pie crust.

Nap time!

Obama’s Success: Must Have Been The Shoes Before Him

America, indeed humanity, stands on the verge of a seminal moment in history. A turning point that inalienably alters our existence in so many ways, writ large and small, that it is hard to grasp. We are about to to inaugurate a black man, Barack Obama, President of the United States; a job that is still, despite all, the singularly most important and powerful position in the world. How did we get to this moment?

It is time to talk about race, and in a positive and constructive manner, not the sinister and tawdry below the surface baiting style so prevalent during much of the McCain/GOP campaign we just, thankfully, concluded. What has led us to the point where Barack Obama is about to give his first inaugral address; what paved the way for that? It just might, at least partially, be the shoes.

Specifically, the shoes worn by transcendental black athletes like Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Venus and Serena Williams and Arthur Ashe. Athletes not just dominant in their sport, but in sports that were previously the exclusive province of whites. In the case of Tiger, the Williams sisters and Arthur Ashe, it was their sports; sports that were once, and still remain, not just white, but elite. In Jordan’s case, although in a sport long integrated, basketball, he became literally the face of the league and the most marketable and recognizable persona in advertising in the whole world.

One of the great gifts to sports journalism, really the literary field as a whole, in the last half century was the late Dick Schapp. A truly enlightened and renaissance man. One of the many enduring gifts Schapp left is a weekly sports roundtable discussion every Sunday morning on ESPN, The Sports Reporters. Not just any sports reporters, but giants that, like Schapp, transcend the field of sports with a view of the larger frame of the world. Journalists like Mike Lupica, Mitch Albom and Bob Ryan. On the October 5, 2008 edition of The Sports Reporters John Saunders, who has led the The Sports Reporters since Schapp’s untimely death, gave a fascinating parting shot (It is the approximately last two minutes of the linked podcast, which is very easy to fast forward to).

Saunders’ take was that Obama has had a surprisingly smooth and seamless run for the Presidential roses considering the historical context of black and white racial undertow of tension. Further, that one of the reasons for this is the way that certain black athletes, specifically Tiger Woods and Venus and Serena Willaims have come to be the singular calling cards of their sports, golf and tennis respectively. Saunders posits that the significance is immense because both golf and tennis have been historically not just the domain of whites, although that they have been, but elite and powerful whites. The country club set; power brokers that really run things. Elegant and compelling individuals, Woods and the Williams; black in skin color, magnetic, inspirational and colorless champions in conduct and ethos. Read more

In Defense of Turkey

Big Media Matt and the Great Orange (Vegetarian) Satan are campaigning against turkeys. Their logic is:

  1. Butterballs suck
  2. Butterballs are turkeys
  3. Therefore turkeys suck

See the problem with their logic?

Lucky for me and my co-turkey mates, in Ann Arbor’s near environs there are now a number of farmers growing heritage turkeys–and at way cheaper prices than the heritage turkey I bought last year. These are, of course, turkeys that still taste like turkey, rather than saline-injected protein delivery systems.

And for those of you briners searching for an easier way to cook the perfect bird–and yes, even for Spencer, with his salivating over bacon-wrapped pork–the real trick is bacon.

Yes, bacon.

Just slap a pound of bacon on top. It’s the perfect way to slowly apply salt to the meat and it keeps the bird perfectly moist without basting. And by the time the Detroit Lions manage to lose another game, that bacon’s perfectly cooked for a mid-afternoon snack, just when it’s time to start browning the bird.

I’ll be preparing heritage turkey prepared in the proper bacon-lover’s manner, chestnut and sage bread stuffing, and pumpkin and apple pies. I’m hoping the co-turkey mates remember to make spuds, or the Irish husband will be cross. Also, my local wine purveyor recommended this new Turkish wine to go with the turkey, which I’m kind of looking forward to trying.

What are you all cooking for your Thanksgiving joy?

T. Boone or not T. Boone



We have had quite the go lately here at the FDL Borg Hive over the automaker bailout and, more specifically, the most pressing of which is GM. For the moment though, I want to touch on a corollary to the future of the American auto industry, and that is the transition to clean and green that needs to occur for long term sustainability of Deetroit wheels.

If we could flip the switch on a perpetual motion device, heck even the Chevy Volt, tomorrow, that would be wonderful. But we cannot. The path back to health and profit prosperity for American auto will be a process that takes time, and it is going to take intermediate steps while the new technology comes on line, gets refined and evolves into maturity.

The guy, for better or worse, that has been out front making noise about the transition from oil to clean and green is none other than the infamous, and legendary, Texas oil man T. Boone Pickens. Transition is the key word regarding the Pickens Plan as it relates to our topic de jour, automobiles. Because the Volt is not scheduled for release until 2010, and even assuming GM and its Volt makes it that far (which is no given), it will take a while for plug in technology to become deeply rooted. And, of course, a massive shift all at once to electric autos would crash our strapped and deteriorating power grid.

Pickens’ main point on internal combustion transition is that natural gas should be a, it not the, transition fuel for cars, and, more significantly, fleet vehicles.

Pickens’ Plan proposes that the natural gas that is currently used to fuel power plants could be used instead as a fuel for thousands of vehicles. Ken Medlock says that the US will continue to use natural gas for electric power generation. Natural gas burns cleaner than coal, making it an increasingly popular fuel for power plants. Gas plants also produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

The technology needed for Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) vehicles such as City buses, fork lifts and passenger cars with CNG drivetrains is available now. Honda sells the Civic GX, with a 170-mile range. In addition, it is possible to convert vehicles to run on CNG in addition to leaving the conventional fuel injection intact, allowing the driver to switch back and forth at will. Kits are available for the do-it-yourselfer. Read more

Kids Grow Up Fast These Days; 8 Yr. Old Boy Charged As Adult With Murder

images2.thumbnail.jpegSome of you have undoubtedly already seen news that an eight year old boy in Arizona is suspected of killing his father and another man renting a room in their home last Wednesday, November 5, 2008.

By all accounts, he was a good boy. No problems in school. No disruptions in his religious education classes at St. Johns Catholic Church, where he was to mark his First Communion this year.

So the police and neighbors in the 8-year-old’s small eastern Arizona community are at a loss to explain why he would have used a .22-caliber rifle to kill his father and another man at their home.

"That child, I don’t think he knows what he did, and it was brutal," said the family priest, the Very Reverend John Paul Sauter.

The police said the boy killed his father, Vincent Romero, 29, and another man, Timothy Romans, 39, on Wednesday. The men worked together, and Romans had been renting a room at the house, prosecutors said.

While not unheard of in criminal justice, this type of homicide by children, especially those under age 14, is pretty rare. Which makes the following the real story in this case.

The boy, who faces two counts of premeditated murder, did not act on the spur of the moment, St. Johns Police Chief Roy Melnick said … He just doesn’t decide one day that he’s going to shoot his father and shoot his father’s friend for no reason. Something led up to this." … On Friday, a judge ordered a psychological evaluation of the boy. Under Arizona law, charges can be filed against anyone 8 or older.

In a sign of the emotional and legal complexities of the case, the police are pushing to have the boy tried as an adult even as they investigate possible abuse, Melnick said. If convicted as a minor, the boy could be sent to juvenile detention until he turns 18.

The reason that there exists in US criminal justice a bifurcated system with minors handled in the juvenile system and adults in the traditional system is the time honored belief that minors do not possess the brain development, both physical and psychological, to allow them to form the requisite intent and properly understand the consequences of their actions. Thus minors charged with crimes, even serious and violent felonies, have traditionally been tried and processed as juveniles, which provides the ability to incarcerate and rehabilitate the defendant up until they reach the age of majority, 18 years old. Read more

Studs Terkel, RIP

From Working:

No matter how bewildering the times, no matter how dissembling the official language, those we call ordinary are aware of a sense of personal worth–or more often a lack of it–in the work they do. Tom Patrick, the Brooklyn fireman whose reflections end the book, similarly brings this essay to a close:

The fuckin’ world’s so fucked up, the country’s fucked up. But the firemen, you actually see them produce. You seem the put out a fire. You see them come out with babies in their hands. You see them give mouth-to-mouth when a guy’s dying. You can’t get around that shit. Tht’s real. To me, that’s what I want to be.


I can look back and say, "I helped put out a fire. I helped save somebody." It shows something I did on this earth.

Native Tears

Via the Washington Post, the verdict has been rendered at long last in the Cobell litigation

A federal judge ruled Thursday that American Indian plaintiffs are entitled to $455 million in a long-running trust case, a fraction of the $47 billion they wanted.

Robertson’s final number is close to government estimates and far from the billions sought by plaintiffs in the 12-year trial. The lawsuit _ filed on behalf of a half-million American Indians and their heirs _ claims they were swindled out of billions of dollars in oil, gas, grazing, timber and other royalties overseen by the Interior Department since 1887.

At issue was how much of the royalty money was withheld from the Indian plaintiffs over the years, and whether it was held in the U.S. treasury at a benefit to the government.

Because many of the records have been lost or destroyed, it has been up to the court to decide how to best estimate how much the individual Indians, many of whom are nearing the end of their lives, should be paid.

The government proposed paying $7 billion partly to settle the Cobell lawsuit in March 2007, but that was rejected by the plaintiffs.

In a January decision, Robertson said the Interior Department had "unreasonably delayed" its accounting of the money owed to landholders and that the task was ultimately impossible. He called the June trial to consider whether money was owed, and, if so, how much was owed.

The class-action suit deals with individual Indians’ lands and covers about 500,000 Indians and their heirs.

This is a giant, landmark case that has been screwed up and slanted against the Native plaintiffs from the start. The US government has been dishonest, dismissive and disingenuous every inch of the way. In fact, this is so true that the original judge assigned to the case, Royce Lamberth, not necessarily a bleeding heart understand you, not only had the following to say, he literally made it part of a formal interlocutory opinion in the case. Lamberth stated that the United States Government, and it’s Department of the Interior was

…a dinosaur — the morally and culturally oblivious hand-me-down of a disgracefully racist and imperialist government that should have been buried a century ago, the pathetic outpost of the indifference and anglocentrism we thought we had left behind.

For this singular demonstration of honesty and perspective, the Bush Department of Justice had Lamberth removed from the case. Read more

The Count of Monte Cristo Was Not Fiction

As someone who received her PhD in Comparative Literature just months before Bush was selected and who has read maybe ten fictional books since I stopped teaching fiction, I feel obliged to point to–and comment on–Chris Bowers’ post on "The Rise of the Non-Fictional Aesthetic."

This decade seems to have brought on a broad shift in the leftist aesthetic in America. Although the dates are not exact, the shift I sense is from an inward-looking, confessional, disengaged, self-reflexive aesthetic of depression of the previous decade, toward an outward-looking, highly engaged, self-creating, activism-oriented, reality based aesthetic of determination. The newfound popularity of the political documentary, and the declining popularity of self-reflexive, retro-cool films in the style of Quentin Tarantino is but one cultural example of this. The vast increase in electoral related activism is another, more obvious example. It is possible that I am just talking out of my butt on this one, and describing a personal shift in aesthetic rather than something more broadly based. Still, I think that the rise of a more pluralistic America, combined with the vastly reduced cost of information brought on by recent technological developments, and topped off with a truly reactionary regime seizing power in America against the wishes of the American populace, really did change our cultural predilections quite profoundly.

Jennifer argues that we have lost something as progressives in this shift, and that we need to find a way to re-incorporate the fictional narrative back into our lives. While I admit that this is a sense I have often had during my five years in professional politics, I also don’t think that there is any going back at this point. Some really bad shit happened–bad shit that will stay with us all and make the future difficult for a long time to come. I don’t think that there is any returning to the old aesthetic until our problems of war, unsustainable and corporatized economics have been truly mitigated, and that the forces waging a war of civilizations have suffered multiple, severe setbacks. The self-reflexive, fictional, depressed aesthetic just doesn’t seem relevant anymore, or at least right now. We are way past Kurt Cobain at this point. The rise of a non-fictional, engaged aesthetic probably coincides with the rise of the long, global emergency. Read more