I'm going to put this on eBay An extremely rare capture of the new Toronto Maple Leafs GM with a smile on his face !
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Diana once referred to herself as "thick as a plank." The ill-fated Princess of Wales obviously never met any auto executives -- management or union. If she had, she would have immediately labeled herself a genius.
As proof, let me offer the spectacle of the top execs of the Big Three U.S. automakers, GM, Ford and Chrysler, arriving in Washington on Wednesday, each in his own special private jet.
"They got off those private executive jets with tin cups in hand," said one irate Senator, referring to the $25-billion bailout for which the three came begging.
And in an effort to prove he deserves Imbecile of the Year award, Richard Wagoner, GM's CEO, stood up in Congress and announced straight-faced that there was nothing wrong with the GM product.
He went on to blame the entire auto mess -- the fallen stocks, the dearth of buyers, the fact that the company's cash is fast disappearing -- on "the global credit crisis." In other words, if people could just get easy credit they'd buy up GM products crazy fast.
This is the man who, for the last eight years, pushed GM toward bigger trucks and SUVs that slurp gas like an alcoholic on a six-month binge. This is the man who got a $9-million 2007 bonus.
Not to be outdone, Chrysler's Robert Nardelli nattered on about how the auto market got caught up in the general U.S. economic exuberance, catering to people who dined on faux real estate wealth. Alan Mulally of Ford had nothing better to offer.
Note that the Gormless Three were backed by United Auto Workers union president Ron Gettelfinger, who sat there nodding mindlessly in agreement.
Meanwhile, our Canadian equivalents are long-sighted and less dense, right? Not bloody likely. Just listen to Ken Lewenza, newly elected president of the Canadian Auto Workers union. In a TV interview on Monday, he was asked if auto workers will have to make some concessions if the industry is to survive in Canada.
Bristling like a porcupine with eczema, Lewenza huffily insisted workers have already done their part.
"We don't see this as us being the problem," he said, adding he would "absolutely not" accept further cuts after losing tens of thousands of jobs in recent years.
"We've suffered our share of pain," he said petulantly, unable to grasp that both sides must make huge concessions in order to survive. Witless.
But all of these big execs -- management and union -- are eager to point out the damage that will occur if one or all of the Big Three collapse. Auto and union execs alike all sing the same sky-is-falling hymn.
"Three million jobs will be lost within the first year," Wagoner warbled disingenously.
Think of the tax revenue the government will lose and think of the ripple effect, chorused Nardelli and Mulally, hands outstretched for the $25 billion.
And they're right. Trouble is, none of them accepts responsibility, will commit to change or mend their ways. They stubbornly continue to worship at the church of yesterday. And beg for money.
Congressional leaders told the executives to return in 12 days with a concrete plan. They stopped short of ordering them to sell their private jets on eBay.
"It's all about accountability and viability," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a press conference.
"Until we can see a plan where the auto industry is held accountable ... until they show us the plan, we cannot show them the money."
Good, but she better get it in writing. Anything less is simply too thick for words.
Friday, November 07, 2008
Among hundreds of high school students invading the northeast food court, only a handful of red poppies could be seen.
"It's because people don't like paying for them," said one Grade 10 teen.
If Remembrance Day's future isn't completely bleak, it's certainly confused and disconnected.
Sure, it was only a small snapshot of Remembrance Day's relevance to youth, but it turned out to be an amazingly consistent glimpse of what they believe and don't know.
These students, who just happened to attend Lester B. Pearson high school, all understood the gist of the occasion, that we enjoy our freedoms through the sacrifice of soldiers.
And they say it shouldn't be forgotten. But press them further and they don't know much about what they've forgotten.
"Which war? Two, right?" said 15-year-old Tyson.
The words Vimy Ridge, Ortona, Dieppe, Kapyong, Medac Pocket, even Passchendaele whose name is now celluloid currency draws a total blank, a universal F.
"Vimy's in Ottawa, it's a place where people go and remember -- it's a guy, I think," says Gina, 17.
Uttering Stalingrad provoked mention of a Russian czar, a revolution and other zany detours.
"Bloody Sunday -- wasn't that involved?" says Nathan, mistaking Northern Ireland's 1970s troubles with a Second World War turning point.
Says Sequora, 17: "I remember learning about Vimy but I can't remember -- they do teach us but it just doesn't have as much of an impact."
In other words, they're just not that interested and increasingly distant history doesn't resonate.
"We still do one minute of silence but I don't think it has as much of an effect on us as it did on people before ... like the deceased," adds Sequora.
Maybe 50% of her classmates "actually think about it, the rest are zoned out," says Romeena, 16, who insists she's never "learned about Hitler at all."
Some say they're aware of the Holocaust and 16-year-old Rhea recalled what she'd been taught about the trenches, presumably those of the First World War.
Jolene says she has military veterans in her family, but hasn't a clue what they did or where.
Youths of south Asian or African backgrounds at the ethnically diverse school are virtually identical to their European classmates in their responses and attitudes.
The Afghan deployment of Canadian soldiers not much older than them adds no contemporary relevance to Remembrance Day for these teens.
If anything, at least among the youths with an inkling of the Second World War and nation-gobbling Nazi aggression, the West's occupation of Afghanistan is completely disconnected from Nov. 11.
They seem startled to hear the two sharing the same breath. It's easy to see why.
"They're not saying they're going to come invade our country," says Melat, 16, of Canada's Afghan foes.
Not a single one interviewed in the food court supports the mission, though a couple of them think Canadian troops are also helping to pacify Iraq.
"I don't think it's our deal to be in Afghanistan, it's not our problem," says Nathan.
Others say they believe Canadian troops in Afghanistan are being exploited by the Americans -- hardly a Flanders Fields moment.
There's some awareness of Canada's peacekeeping heritage, which stands out starkly in young minds from the more recent warmaking.
"I don't think our soldiers are making any peace -- they're dying," says Gina.
Regardless of the bravery of today's Canadian soldiers, we've come far from one conventional army expelling another occupying one.
And the kids know it, even if they're hazy on the more distant history.