Archive for March, 2009

Obama Fires GM CEO

Posted in Politics on March 30th, 2009

President Obama – or his administration, if that makes difference – has just “fired” the CEO of General Motors (GM). In an act of direct governmental control over a private American corporation Obama has required that that Rick Wagoner, the chairman and CEO of General Motors step down.

The Obama administration asked Rick Wagoner, the chairman and CEO of General Motors, to step down and he agreed, a White House official said.

Wagoner’s departure is one of the remarkable strings attached to a new aid package the administration plans to offer GM.

The White House confirmed Wagoner was leaving at the government’s behest after The Associated Press reported his immediate departure, without giving a reason.

On Monday, President Obama is to unveil his plans for the auto industry, including a response to a request for additional funds by GM and Chrysler.

Industry sources had said the White House planned very tough medicine, which turned out to be an understatement. And it went to the very top. The measures to be imposed by the government will have a dramatic effect on workers, unions, suppliers, retirees and the communities where plants are located, the sources said.

Political Correspondent for Politico

I can’t really say that this is other than a very, very bad sign that President Obama is fully prepared to use whatever means are at his disposal to enable the federal government to “take charge” of any portion of America that they can manage to get a hold of.

It has to be said though that President Bush willfully and foolishly set this up when he sidestepped Congress in order to bail-out the Big Three American automobile manufacturers.

This is the problem with accepting money from the government; you’re then beholden to them and they can – in the Liberals’ case they will – start exercising direct control over your actions. This is especially true for large and/or important industries and ones that the current party controlling the administration don’t favor.

And, of course, removing GM’s CEO is just the beginning of the “Change” to be wrought in the coming months.

We are anticipating an announcement soon from the Administration regarding the restructuring of the U.S. auto industry. We continue to work closely with members of the Task Force and it would not be appropriate for us to speculate on the content of any announcement.

— GM Spokesman

Rick Wagoner had been CEO for 8 years and at GM for more than 30. At the time of this post it is unclear if Wagoner will be replaced or if GM will be directly controlled by the US government from this point forward. President Obama’s Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry has clarified what their ongoing role is going to be or how involved they’ll be in the operations of GM, Ford and Chrysler.

Once again, it has to said that President Bush provided the precursor for this when, in September 2008, he had AIG CEO Robert Willumstad step down as part of an $85 billion bailout.

Automotive industry sources say that the measures to be imposed by the government upon the US auto industry will have a profound effect on workers, unions, suppliers, bondholders, shareholders, retirees and the communities where plants are located. Whether or not those profound effects are positive or negative remains to be seen.

Well, shortly Americans will find out – though too late to make a difference – if they still have an American Automotive Industry or if they have the People’s Automotive Collective – managed in their name by the government of course. 😉

U.N. Defames Freedom

Posted in Politics, Religion, Society on March 29th, 2009

The group with the United Nations so laughably named the Human Rights Council adopted the non-binding resolution, proposed by Pakistan on behalf of Islamic states – with a vote of 23 states in favor and 11 against, with 13 abstentions – to define the defamation of religion as a human rights violation.

Of course, since Pakistan was fronting for the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) when they crafted the resolution, the document in question doesn’t mention Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, or any other religion as needing or deserving special protections.

Only Islam is mentioned. From Reuters:

Pakistan, speaking for the 56-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), said a “delicate balance” had to be struck between freedom of expression and respect for religions.

The resolution said Muslim minorities had faced intolerance, discrimination and acts of violence since the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, including laws and administrative procedures that stigmatize religious followers.

“Defamation of religious is a serious affront to human dignity leading to a restriction on the freedom of their adherents and incitement to religious violence,” the adopted text read, adding that “Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism.”

You can, if you wish, download the full text of the resolution here (PDF).

Leaving aside the intrinsic wrongness and gross stupidity of trying to declare defamation of any religion as a human rights violation, and also leaving aside the evil intent in evidence in trying to limit freedom of speech in favor of religion, the solely Islamocentric nature of this abomination of a resolution makes nothing more than an effort at using the United Nations to wage a white-collar jihad against the free peoples of the world.

My response is what every right thinking, freedom loving human’s response should be to this sort outrage perpetrated evil vermin masquerading as men: Go to Hell on the camel you rode in on, Abdur-Iblis!

To make the point a little clearer for those with linguistic, cognitive, cultural, or evolutionary deficiencies:

Are the above images grossly offensive? Yes, incredibly so. Are they a violation of anyone’s human rights? No, not in the least – unless you’re willing to claim that you have the basic human right not to be offended. Of course, in that case, your opinion is offensive to me and violates my human rights. 😉

Now please understand, I have nothing in particular against Islam – certainly little or no more than I have with any of the Abrahamic faiths –  or Muslims in general, though some of the actions of the more radical sects of Islam and those of certain individual Muslims are of a sort that I would gladly exterminate them unto the last adherent and/or scion.

These quite offensive images were posted in response to the U.N. Human Rights Council’s attempt to criminalize free speech and expression critical of Islam – and theoretically any religion.

As I’ve posted before, I will fight the Islamists’ white collar jihad with my voice, my vote, and – if needs be and the Devil will out –  my attorneys.  If they want to take it beyond that, I have developed a fondness in recent times for the M24A3 chambered for .338 Lapua Magnum – much more punch than my old .300 Win Mag and lighter and very much more accurate than my old, but still loved to this day, M82A1 – which should solve for most “problems” within 1200m or so.

Freedom No Longer

Posted in Politics, Society on March 29th, 2009

One World Trade Center aka the Freedom TowerOn Thursday, March 26, 2009 the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, who own the land upon which the World Trade Center towers stood, announced that the new skyscraper being built to replace the buildings destroyed by Islamic terrorists on September 11, 2001, will no longer be named the Freedom Tower. It will be given the name, One World Trade Center, which has technically always been its legal name and street address.

The change from Freedom Tower to One World Trade Center was announced on Thursday at a news conference where the Port Authority revealed the signing of the first commercial lease in the building by a Chinese company to create the China Center, a 190,810-square-foot business and Chinese cultural facility in downtown NYC.

The founding director of VOICES of September 11th, Mary Fetchet said she was not familiar with the decision made by the Port Authority and was not willing to make a statement. VOICES of September 11th a group that commemorates the lives of those killed in the Islamic terrorist attack.

We’ve referred to the primary building planned for the site as One World Trade Center — its legal name and street address — for almost two years now, as well as using the name the Freedom Tower.

Many will always refer to it as the Freedom Tower, but as the building moves out of the planning stage and into full construction and leasing, we believe that going forward it is most practical to market the building as One World Trade Center.

The fact is, more than $3 billion of public money is invested in that building, and, as a public agency, we have the responsibility to make sure it is completed and that we utilize the best strategy to make certain it is fully occupied.

— Stephen Sigmund
Port Authority Spokesman

Immediately upon the signing of the contract, the China Center granted the Port Authority a $10 million USD letter of credit. 😉

They can call it marketing all they want, but I think the timing of the announcement shows that they just couldn’t stomach calling it the Freedom Tower after leasing nearly 10% of it to China.

The current plan is for the China Center at One World Trade Center to house the elite of China’s business and cultural communities and serve as a beachhead for Chinese firms developing United States operations.

The services available to clients of the China Center community are planned to make the overseas expansion process of these companies as seamless as possible. The tenants are also to receive: relocation assistance, real estate services, business & financial support, public relations & investor relations, legal services, networking opportunities, event management & special catering, and personalized travel services.

Of course the Chinese are “requesting” that the Empire State Development Corporation subsidize their rents to the tune of  $954,050 per year for 15 years.

One doesn’t have  to wonder if the Chinese understand the slight carried by the Port Authority’s chosen timing for the public announcement of the name change; the Chinese have a 6000 year history of insults, pride, and “face.” One does have to wonder if they care though.

I’m fairly sure, with China’s ownership of a huge portion of America’s debt and with the Obama administration’s plans to greatly increase that debt, that the Chinese view the new  China Center as something between a way of overseeing their investment in America and a Provincial Capitol. A few veiled insults from their “tenants’ aren’t going to amount to much.

It’s appropriate then -IMHO – that One World Trade Center no longer be  named the Freedom Tower; such a naming would be a mockery.

Support The Arts (NSFW)

Posted in Politics, Society on March 28th, 2009

Support The Arts…One Dollar At A Time

Recently New York Administrative Law Judge Catherine M. Bennett rendered a ruling that classified pole dancing as a dramatic or artistic performance. So, in New York at least, pole dancing is now a “dramatic art.”

From a pragmatic standpoint this means that strip clubs offering pole dancing – I assume the bulk of them – qualify for the “dramatic arts” New York state sales tax exemption under New York state Tax Law §1105(f)(1):

The tax imposed by this subdivision shall not apply to: The tax imposed by this subdivision shall not apply to:

Any admission charge where such admission charge is in excess of ten cents to or for the use of any place of amusement in the state, except charges for admission to race tracks, boxing, sparring or wrestling matches or exhibitions which charges are taxed under any other law of this state, or dramatic or musical arts performances, or live circus performances, or motion picture theaters, and except charges to a patron for admission to, or use of, facilities for sporting activities in which such patron is to be a participant, such as bowling alleys and swimming pools. For any person having the permanent use or possession of a box or seat or a lease or a license, other than a season ticket, for the use of a box or seat at a place of amusement, the tax shall be upon the amount for which a similar box or seat is sold for each performance or exhibition at which the box or seat is used or reserved by the holder, licensee or lessee, and shall be paid by the holder, licensee or lessee.

So now, under Judge Bennett’s ruling, the cover charge for a strip club is exempt from New York stat sales tax. I expect that this will provide a needed economic stimulus to the New York strip clubs, which are mostly “small businesses” and as likely to be suffering under this economy as any other.

This may “play well” with Obama and his Liberals’ tax cuts that were part of the Stimulus. The $8 / week extra that these cuts add to paychecks seem well suited for use at strip clubs. 😉

Judge Bennett was quite clear on her reasoning for deciding that, under New York state tax laws, pole dancing qualified for the “dramatic arts” exemption from state sales tax:

The fact someone may believe that this entertainment is not appropriate for any audience is not the issue. The fact that the dancers remove all or part of their costume during the performances, that the dance routines are seductive in nature and titillation of a patron is the outcome, simply does not render such dance routines as something less than choreographed performances, or remove them from the exception to the general rule of Tax Law §1105(f)(1).

— Administrative Law Judge Catherine M. Bennett
Via the New York Law Journal

New York’s Department of Taxation and Finance spokesman Thomas Bergin said Bennett’s decision will probably be appealed to the Tax Appeals Tribunal – a statement that had to expected by everyone no matter what their ethical and moral views pole dancing and strip clubs are; it’s only logical that the Department of Taxation would appeal any ruling that reduced the state government’s tax income.

Read the rest of this entry »

iPhone Support

Posted in Announcements on March 27th, 2009

jonolaniPhone & iPod Touch Support

Reflections From A Murky Pond now supports iPhone and iPod Touch usage. The blog has been augmented to a customized response to those devices’ Safari browsers.

Thank you all.