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Posts Tagged ‘Obama’

What did you say?

What did you say?

I’m fascinated by the fact that everything blows up quickly today and there’s a rush to judgment.

Take the man of “sterling” character.

You know him as the 80-year old billionaire and L.A. Clippers owner.  Born, Donald Tokowitz there are no excuses for his ugly, crass and trashy comments, but after what seemed like  days of 24/7 news commentary (at least CNN moved off the Malaysian airplane search) incessantly playing snippets of the secretly-tape recorded phone conversation while calling for his head on a platter… I learned he was married and has three children.

.

Rip City, Baby!

Huh?  He has a wife?

In the NBA, only a team owner can sit with his “friend” (aka mistress) at games on national TV, give her millions of dollars in gifts, precipitate a lawsuit from the old coot’s wife demanding return of their community property and none of this merits discussion of the scandal stories about him?

Here’s the thing in America.  Gossip.  You may not be rich, but you can sure talk about the rich and everyone is.

In addition, hypocrisy reigns throughout the American landscape.  Racism and sexism are the new tools to destroy careers and people.  Some recent beat down examples are: Paula Dean when it was discovered she made a racial remark several years before it came to light.  Then there is Brenden Eich, CEO of Mozilla who was forced to step down from the company he founded when it was learned he made a $1K contribution in support of California Prop 8, which was against same sex marriage.

So what’s the point here Mac?  How does this relate to the motorcycle community?

Well the last time I checked, in this country, people are allowed to be morons.  In addition, they’re allowed to be stupid and think idiotic thoughts.  It’s a very slippery slope when you say something stupid in the privacy of your own home that is recorded and made public without your knowledge or consent and then you’re force to sell something you own or you’re interest is involuntarily seized.

Let me say it again for the haters.  I don’t share Sterling’s views so save the emails.

It’s clear the verdict for Sterling comes largely at the expense of the right of privacy and the motorcycle community is well aware of privacy/freedom to ride issues like motorcycle-only checkpoints and police targeting of “pack riders” and/or motorcycle clubs.  It’s not about any crime, but how the government judges who you are, who you associate with or by simply what type of vehicle you use.  Yeah, Sterling is in the NBA and it operates with different rules…

Then again, some lawmakers are currently sponsoring a bill to have federal researchers comb through broadcast radio and television, cable and public-access TV, commercial mobile services and other electronic media and the Internet for any communications that may have prompted violent acts and/or “hate crimes.”   Think about how much power this vague bill would give a handful of people over hundreds of millions of people.

The rush to judge and failure of due process or to consider many of Sterling’s rights in the process of this specific incident and how they were suppressed — has a scent all its own.

The “Uncle Sam” photo courtesy of Paul Lachine.

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This past weekend I rolled the bike out of the garage to enjoy the blue sky and 59 degree weather.  Wow, it doesn’t get much better in the northwest for an early spring day!  Never mind that it snowed the very next day!

I headed to the local Shell station and as I topped off the gas tank I tried to recall which of the political candidates detailed how the oversupply in natural gas had caused its price to crash, and then, just when you thought they were about to blame Obama for destroying the income of all those poor natural gas folks, pivoted on a dime and used it as a supporting argument for why $2.50 a gallon gas is very do-able… right, just as the average price of gasoline has increased by 42 cents, from $3.36 to $3.78 per gallon since the beginning of the year.  And that’s from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and it’s an average of all grades, all formulations, across all regions of the country.

Yet, somehow, the politicians know where there’s enough oil to cause a world oversupply, or something to drive the price down.   Huh?  All I know is that $4 a gallon “creates some very real challenges” for average American families and their household budgets.

The “drill baby drill” makes for a nice bumper sticker. But, the real answer, is there’s no quick fix.  Gasoline prices are linked very tightly to crude oil prices.  The rule of thumb is that a $1 increase in the price of crude produces a 2½-cent increase in the price of gasoline. Lately, gasoline prices have been linked most closely to the price of Brent crude, and since the beginning of the year Brent has gone up from $107 to $123, a $16 increase.   Clearly some of the price difference is also related to oil speculators on Wall Street. Sanctions on Iran may be hurting their ability to ship crude. Additionally, some analysts think that some of the price increase is driven by fear that Iran might cut off oil shipments entirely, or else slow or close the Strait of Hormuz. In other words, some of the pricing might be driven by fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD).

Clearly demand for oil is pushing up against supply limits, and that’s a permanent condition.  And when supply and demand are tightly constrained, any small bump in demand or disruption in supply causes a big swing in prices for you and I. Last year it was the war in Libya that caused a price spike. This month it’s Iran. But it’s always something and it doesn’t take much anymore to produce a $30 swing in oil prices.

We need to change the conversation.

Yeah, I’ve read about the new shale oil finds in North Dakota too.  It might increase global supplies a bit, but probably not enough to make up for increasing demand from China and other emerging economies. Basically, prices are going to stay high for the foreseeable future.  Like it or not, this is our future.

I recommend buying a motorcycle!

Photo courtesy of Shell

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I’ve heard this stated many times before… “When the revolution comes, they’ll not only want to know what side you’re on, but what side you’ve been on.”

I’m reading about the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) and watching the “Occupy Portland” protests skeptically. The protesters in Portland (estimated by police to be about 5000) gathered in Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland yesterday after marching from the city’s waterfront.  With so few news outlets in the northwest, we’re not quite sure what these protesters want.  Some say they want Obama re-elected, but claim to hate “Wall Street.”  You know the same Wall Street that gave its largest campaign donation in history to Obama, who in turn, bailed out the banks and made Goldman Sachs what seems like the 4th branch of the government!

99%

The one thing we do know is they’re angry, that 1% have all the money and they’ve got next to nothing and believe they are the 99%.

People are hurting. This is not a one party issue. This is a human issue. This is a fight over the future of America.  I’m not saying you can’t be rich, but you’ve got to pay your taxes.  How much should they be?   Let’s start the debate.  However, when people are losing their homes, their jobs, everything they’ve saved, and you don’t exhibit compassion, you don’t reach down to help them, then you’re on the wrong side.

We all know friends or have family members who have worked really hard all their life only to lose their home and get no support from the banks.  The banks are on the wrong side.  Greedy real estate bankers loaned money to anyone who could “fog a mirror” which then cratered the housing market and is now helping bankrupt the country.  Then they demanded taxpayers bail them out, a demand that complicit, corrupt politicians (yes, of both parties) were only too happy to oblige.

Occupy Portland

And, like most of the protestors I’m fed up with the political gridlock in Washington.  Both sides stand in the way of change.  At this point I don’t see any difference between George Bush than when Obama was elected.  The middle-class is worse off.  The gap between rich and poor is alarming. Because it stifles ambition. Why make the effort if you can’t get ahead?  And if you think the American Dream still exists, you probably live in Europe, the odds of going from the bottom to the top are much more difficult.

And suddenly all of this is a hot issue?!  Huh?

Some politicians and members of the media have chastised the protesters suggesting that they should stop protesting and go get a job or should instead start companies so they can help form a less self-involved, more gregarious and forward-thinking American capitalism.  Yeah, that’s the ticket.  Slam the folks trying to shed some light.

These people aren’t against the system. Most are not lazy people sitting around looking for a handout.  They don’t want to bring down America. They just want some sense of fairness restored to the system as it is, and they want a chance to participate and be heard. Instead, they’ve been marginalized by corporate money and ripped off by their banks and financial institutions.  They’ve been promised that hard work and a good education are what it takes to succeed, then slammed by a lack of opportunities, then told by sneering political candidates that if you’re poor, well it’s they’re own fault. It’s not really surprising that things have reached a boiling point.

This isn’t about protests; it’s about how banks, corporations and corrupt government policies are disenfranchising and bankrupting everyday Americans.  The protests are about taking proactive steps towards rectifying — or at least shedding light on — that situation.

Since the Vietnam War, I’ve never seen anything like this as a form of political protest. It’s wrenching, honest and true.  Personally, I can’t stop thinking about this guy,

Photos courtesy of AP (Map), Oregonlive (Pioneer Place) and We Are The 99 Percent.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Yesterday, President Obama returned to Portland, OR to try and fire up the Democrats or rekindle some political magic.  There was an enthusiastic crowd estimated near 10,000 which packed the convention center and listened as the president stumped for John Kitzhaber, who is locked in a tight race for his old job as governor.

Sadly, the visit occurred in the middle of rush-hour traffic and triggered an accident on I-84 when eastbound traffic slowed to watch Obama’s motorcade traveling west from the Portland Air National Guard Base.

At about 6pm, a northeast Portland man (Peter Kendall Gunderson, age 59) was eastbound when he may have failed to see traffic ahead of him was slowing as police were closing down the westbound lanes for the upcoming presidential motorcade to travel in.  Gunderson lost control as he braked for the slowing eastbound traffic.  The motorcycle skidded then fell onto its side, sliding uncontrolled in the left eastbound lane until it hit underneath a stopped 2010 Chevrolet Camaro. The motorcycle came to rest near the center concrete barrier and quickly caught fire.  Some witnesses pulled Mr. Gunderson away from the burning motorcycle to the far right eastbound lane.  Mr. Gunderson was transported by AMR ambulance to Legacy Emanuel Hospital with critical injuries, but died this morning.  The full OSP report is HERE.  It’s unclear if police had enough lead time to plan a safer route in Portland.

Peter Gunderson Accident

I did a quick search and it turns out that there are many deaths across the U.S. just so the president or a dignitary doesn’t need to sit in traffic. Many are motorcycle officers, but some are similar to Mr. Gunderson being caught up in the police route.

For example, in 2006, a Honolulu officer died when he and two other motorcycle officers crashed while part of a presidential motorcade. In 2007, a police officer died after crashing his motorcycle while riding in a motorcade with President Bush.  In 2008, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s only campaign swing through North Texas was cut short after a police officer in her motorcade died in a crash on the way to a rally.  Also in 2008, an Albuquerque, N.M., police officer in President Bush’s motorcade died in a motorcycle crash.

I’m not blaming Obama – just pointing out that presidential motorcades aren’t safe for everyone!  My condolences to Mr. Gunderson’s family.

No word if President Obama or anyone in his administration has tried to reach out to Mr. Gunderson’s family.

Photo courtesy of Oregonian and OSP.

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Ethanol Boosted Gasoline and Harley-Davidson

That’s horseshit!

No, I’m not afraid to put that in the title.  It’s just if I do, this finely crafted missive is unlikely to pass the blog filters.  In fact, those of you working at companies probably won’t see it pass through your company filter now that I’ve spelled out the word.  Because that’s how afraid of plain English this country is.  And if you’re protected from reality, how can you know the truth.

And speaking of truth…

What kind of crazy world do we live when environmental and industry groups who frequently oppose each other,  AGREE to jointly ask Congress for thorough and objective scientific testing before allowing an increase in the amount of ethanol in gasoline?  The ethanol industry, primarily lead by the Growth Energy trade group has been pushing hard to allow the amount of ethanol in gasoline to increase by 50%.  It’s called E15 and some 36 groups have signed a letter that went to the majority and minority leaders of the U.S. Senate urging opposition to any amendment to the coming energy bill that would authorize the sale of gasoline with more than 10% ethanol.

But, today the contrite attitude of the Obama administration granted the request of ethanol producers and will permit higher concentrations of the corn-based fuel additive in gasoline for vehicles made in 2007 and later.  The EPA announced its “rubber stamp” decision just minutes later on how they will allow refiners to blend as much as 15%.  The fact is that the Obama administration doesn’t have the power to order use of E15, however, the decision will have profound impact to motorcyclists.

Automotive manufacturers (GM, Ford, Chrysler) have all expressed major concerns and believe ethanol concentrations of higher blends can damage exhaust systems, engines, fuel pumps and destroy catalytic convertors.  By-the-way, this decision excludes ALL MOTORCYCLES, marine engines and non-road engines such as snowmobiles.

Who wins with this “boosted” blend ratio?  Well let’s follow the money…  Corn-ethanol lobby groups like Growth Energy (headed up by Wesley Clark) will benefit.  The U.S. pays a $0.45-cent tax credit to gasoline refiners that make a blend of as much as 10% ethanol.  They win.  Farm exports will increase and they win.  Poet LLC, based in Sioux Falls, SD is the largest U.S. ethanol producer followed by Archer Daniels Midland Co.  They win.  In fact, the annual market value for ethanol in the U.S. has risen to $27.1 Billion since federal support began under the Jimmy Carter administration.

Who loses?  Consumers.  Corn prices, cost of food, cost of fuel and cost of maintenance or repairs.  And then there is the ever present mis-fueling issue. Lastly, how long until measures are put in place for motorcycles?

Photo courtesy of Flickr

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Barricades outside The View studios on West 66th Street

There are more than 13 MILLION people unemployed.  You can’t trust the prognostications as we’re in a state of chronic joblessness. Two wars, the BP oil slick, housing implosiong, poll numbers down and imaginary racism (Shirley Sherrod & Arizona Immigration) is up – so it’s a good time to go on “The View” for a little “Chatty Kathy” with friends.  Huh?

I’m speaking of President Obama who made the unpresidential decision to appear on The View! Given all the hard hittin’ questions about – his iPod playlist, Mel “The Raging Ranter” Gibson, Lohan’s jail stint, his fav colors and Snooki!   Who?  Was this a Tiger Beat interview?!  Next up in the fluffy daytime TV demographic has to be a Jerry Springer special to break through directly to those people who think dignity’s out of fashion.

The only item missing was a well-placed Harley-Davidson commercial break espousing “What Women Want” from a cruiser motorcycle – just after that Mel Gibson question.  The media spin was classic.  Let’s talk about needing to govern vs. campaigning as he sat there on the sofa promoting himself and his agenda to the daytime talk show demographic – a bunch of mindless women who talk a lot about nothing everyday.

In order to have time to visit the “den of gossip” the president snubbed the Boy Scouts and their l00th anniversary jamboree, for which he was the scheduled main speaker.  Nice!  Obama’s three predecessors have spoke at the event.  No worries.  I’m sure all the Scouting youth will forget the administration snub as they become exceptional (voting age) adults.

And if you’re like me, being subjected to this JayZ and ‘Snooki’ nonsense – all in the same sentence – had me wondering if my mind had turned to mush.  Could  the time not be better served elsewhere?   It was the wrong timing, wrong message, wrong audience and I have no clue why they thought this was a good idea?

We need leadership not lecturing.  Dude needs to do his job.  If not, I hear BP is looking for a new spokesman.

Note: I’m not on a White House watch or changing the blog to rant on political accountability, but this was just “Bush’s” league when it comes to issues of credibility.

BREAKING NEWS: July 30, 2010 —  Snooki gets arrested per US Magazine.

Photo courtesy of Jen Chung.

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Today was not a good day for leadership.

First it was Calderon.   You know — the Mexican President, Felipe Calderon?  His administration has attempted to rid Mexico of the narco-traffickers using thousands of Mexican troops and hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. aid, but cartel members have killed thousands in an effort to maintain control of the lucrative drug trafficking routes.  More than 18,000 people have been killed since Calderon launch his military offensive in 2006.

Then in an unprecedented mucho ballsy move he comes to the U.S. today and complained about Arizona’s immigration law (SB1170), when all the state wants to do is protect itself against a flood of illegal immigrants from Calderon’s country!  And, how about that Congress’s standing ovation for the Mexican leader?!  Adding insult to injury in this twilight zone was President Obama complaining whining about Arizona trying to do something about a problem he- President Obama and the federal government- have created and choose to ignore.  George W. didn’t help.  Combined with the fact they can’t be bothered to read the law that they’re criticizing. If they did, they’d find out that parts of Arizona’s law are word-for-word the same- exactly- as the federal statutes on immigration.  I’ll save my viewpoints on how Mr. Calderon should spend his time trying to create opportunities for his own citizens, so they’re not driven by poverty and desperation to sneak into this country illegally for another day.  The fact is that this “pony show” is all about pandering to Hispanics for votes.

And speaking of pandering…

Polaris Industries Inc., (parent company of Victory motorcycle) announced today that it will establish a new factory in Mexico’s Monterrey/Saltillo area. Talk about great timing on doing your part for the American economy — exporting American jobs along with the factories.  This major realignment will begin immediately and will lead to an eventual sale or closure of the Polaris’ Osceola, Wis., manufacturing operations.  Polaris stated the realignment allows it to invest in and outsource certain “nonstrategic” component manufacturing processes while improving on-time delivery to customers, and providing savings in logistical and production costs.  Make no mistake, it is all about the money.

Scott Wine, CEO of Polaris, stated in a press release:

“Pursuing opportunities in new markets outside the United States, while concurrently evaluating our cost structure to improve our long-term competitive positioning, are key components to our growth strategy. This decision was based on a thorough review of our worldwide operations and will allow us to improve our ability to meet the quality, delivery and cost standards desired by our dealers and customers.”

Harley-Davidson has made it public they are also considering a move out of Wisconsin.  Inconceivable? Think again.  Polaris plans to have their factory in Mexico operational beginning in the first half of 2011.  Can H-D be too far behind?

My philosophy is that if my neighbor doesn’t have a job, sooner or later I won’t have a job either.

Photo courtesy of Harlistas.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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