12/30/06

Shopping local

Thursday I stopped by Checker auto supply and asked for one of those repair manuals for a late model Chevrolet van.

No joy.

The young fellow with whom I chatted told me they didn't have one, and he didn't see it listed as something he could get. So sorry. No real interest in doing some followup to see why it wasn't listed, since it's a real common repair manual.

So I came home and went to www.bn.com, found both Haynes and Chilton's manuals for the van, and ordered one of those.

Within a couple of hours I had an email confirming the order and advising that it would shipping within 24 hours. Free shipping, too. And with the 10% membership discount.

There are days I don't even think about shopping local; it isn't worth the hassle of driving or riding the bike over to the store only to be told that nope, we don't have it, but maybe we can order it for you. There's a couple of local stores I'll try first, for some things, but generally, it just isn't worth it.

Shoot. I can order it myself faster and have it here pretty quick, and not have to waste the time in having someone tell me nope, we don't have it.

The thing is, I'm not unique in this respect. In other words, it isn't just me being a curmudgeonly old fart. It's a customer service reaction, and it applies across the consumer board.

12/28/06

The 7 (Mostly Funny) Wal-Mart Objections

This is a good article from Voice of San Diego, written by Gary Sutton. The article may be found here:

http://tinyurl.com/y4pe44

+++++++++++++

Thursday, Dec. 28, 2006 One question has been bothering me: Why would a City Council talk up "affordable housing" while endorsing "unaffordable groceries?"

Banning Wal-Mart's Supercenters in San Diego adds a hardship to lower-income residents. It reduces sales-tax revenues. And there's a loss of new jobs.

History shows what the big box stores do.

Remember when Barnes & Noble came to town? Book selections grew and prices dropped. Some small bookstores disappeared while the public went for better value. Borders came along to provide competition, soon followed by Amazon.com. More books sold.

A generation earlier, Waldenbooks and B. Dalton had opened up smaller stores in convenient mall locations, capturing new readers and causing trouble for the less accessible outlets. Waldenbooks and B. Dalton seized one third of the total business, but within two decades, they both became victims of the "big boxes." It's only natural, this thing called progress.

Those little bookstore owners, of course, never coughed up campaign contributions. Therefore, our City Council watched the giant bookstores takeover.

A&P started this whole thing in groceries. Safeway, Ralphs and Vons emerged to doom the friendly corner butcher and his aging meat. And life got better. But those grocers became unionized, so your average food checker now makes more than your average food checkee.

What's behind this outrage against Wal-Mart? It beats me. So I interviewed several local protesters. They expressed seven objections:



Small businesses are destroyed

Parking problems are created

Employees don't get enough health benefits

The buildings are ugly

They don't pay employees well

When Wal-Mart's are abandoned they go empty and breed crime

The stores turn people into non-thinking conformists

Let's examine their criticisms.

Yes, some small businesses are displaced.
As a once-in-awhile author, I notice that my latest book sells today for $21 at Warwicks and requires a special order, is in stock for $16 at Barnes & Noble while Amazon.com promises same day shipment for $7. (But you better buy another book to get Amazon's free delivery.) Warwicks should survive because it's convenient for enough locals and some prefer the coziness. But not the masses. So smaller businesses suffer, and they suffer because their choices, prices or locations suck. The consumer wins.

Parking problems are created.
Duh. While the city decides how many spots each building must provide, low prices do bring crowds and I've cheerfully parked on Morena Boulevard just to get inside COSTCO Wholesale many a time. This is a pretty weak argument against Wal-Mart, and to the degree it may be true, it only proves how ferverently customers like their lower prices.

Wal-Mart doesn't give its employees adequate health benefits, and this creates expenses for society.
On a huge scale, this falls into the "healthcare crisis" we're told we're suffering from. But since 1975 the average lifespan of all US citizens has gone from 73 years to 78 years. That trend's been happening for decades. With everybody.

That's why life insurance premiums have dropped. Everybody's living longer. White women live longest, but their longevity is growing the slowest. Black males die the soonest, but their life spans are increasing fastest. While wailing about the ER's being impacted by so many uninsured patients, the wailers forget that this, by itself, is universal healthcare. It's just not called that.

That's the big picture. Looking closer, Wal-Mart doesn't give benefits to match their shrinking competitors, like Sears and K-Mart. (You older readers might remember when Sears was viewed as the evil predator.) Sears and K-Mart, of course, are shrinking today because they can't offer competitive pricing. And switching industries, McDonalds doesn't lavish the benefits on their employees the way Starbucks boasts about.

But a curious thing's happening everywhere. General Motors, several years ago, didn't talk about cars or sales in the first few pages of their annual report. General Motors preached about the need for our government to provide universal healthcare. Why? That way, you and I, the taxpayers, pick up the tab for all those promises General Motors made to employees and didn't budget for.

And the CEO of Starbucks is already making speeches about the need for universal healthcare as his business becomes closer to a mass market item. Anytime you hear a corporate leader arguing for more government, which is a strange phenomena in any circumstance, remember that this "compassion" often intends to reach into your pocket instead of his.

Wal-Marts are eyesores.
There's no way to call any Wal-Mart pretty. Neither are Home Depots, Ikeas, Lowes or my favorite, COSTCO. These stores are pretty inside, for the values and choices they offer. Outside? Butt-ugly.

Wal-Mart underpays their employees.
Maybe. Maybe not. Just don't tell that to the lines of job applicants Wal-Mart gets when they're hiring. Do you suppose all those people are seeking lower wages and worse conditions? Remember how Ted Kennedy was reduced to incoherent blubbering when the CEO of Wal-Mart endorsed his proposal to raise the minimum wage?

Poor Teddy buys his suits at Barneys, hangs out in his Hyannis, Martha's Vineyard and Palm Beach enclaves without realizing that Wal-Mart's primary competitors, smaller businesses, pay worse. Raising the minimum wage would wipe out Wal-Mart's competition. Liberals despise efficiency, so this argument shall be rephrased.

Wal-Mart abandons buildings, which turn into ghettoes.
If you do some digging, you'll find several organizations promoting this idea, without giving a list of examples. Their contorted logic says that it's bad when Wal-Mart arrives and it's bad when Wal-Mart leaves. Make up your minds! And the thought that a profit-making enterprise sits on unused assets is another stretch. By the way, it's Sears and K-Mart, with their generous benefits, that are firing employees, closing stores and peddling products that cannot be called bargains.

Wal-Mart encourages conformity.
Oh please. If low prices are conformity, put me in a mold. We're talking economics and survival here -- and there's a snobbishness that proves these critics don't understand how tough life is for the guy who washes their car, the woman cleaning the offices and the kid bussing dishes.

Everybody has biases. Mine are that I've only entered a Wal-Mart twice in my life but have been a Price Club and COSTCO Wholesale devotee for decades. I breakfast once a week or more at a Starbucks but haven't eaten an egg McMuffin for years. When possible I use Trader Joe's or Henry's but find Vons to be indispensable for selection when planning meals.

While not eating at McDonalds, it's nice to know that they provide value for many and give kids their first lesson on work habits, like showing up on time and washing their hands, without benefits and having huge turnover. It's better stuff than they learn at school. And the Starbucks cranberry and orange scone, hardly healthier than the McBreakfast offerings, has an ambience I prefer with employees who have such great benefits you've got to know it won't last. Their CEO has already tipped his hand on that.

To me, Wal-Mart and COSTCO Wholesale occupy different worlds, and both do it well. Right now Wal-Mart has twelve men's watches on sale at prices ranging from $41 to $159. COSTCO has four men's watches on display for over $5000; way beyond my budget. Wal-Mart takes credit cards but COSTCO, a true bargain place that's somehow snootier, only accepts American Express.

And COSTCO probably pays 50 percent more per hour and has longer term employees with better health benefits.

You've got to like what the founders of both outfits have done. Sol Price dumps money into City Heights, trying to improve a neighborhood. The Walton family financed Harborside School, giving San Diego inner city kids a choice. (Choice: there's a word unions hate.)

As a Price Club/COSTCO loyalist, I've enjoyed walking those aisles for decades. Once I needed some WD-40, found it at the Price Club, in something that seemed like a fifty gallon drum -- three packed -- and got a deal but felt like a distributor. But I'm happy and love the place.

Most years, with a consumer membership, I pay sales tax. There have been times, in small businesses, when we've used that membership to duck some sales taxes at COSTCO.

Wal-Mart paid California state and local taxes, both sales and property, of $923,000,000 last year. Apparently our City Council doesn't want any more of that revenue.

My two, count 'em, visits to Wal-Mart both took place this year. They might be interesting to those folks who harbor strong opinions about Wal-Mart, but don't lower themselves to observing.

Last fall, the teacher's unions urged their members to boycott Wal-Mart when buying school supplies. This struck me as strange, so I shopped Wal-Mart, Target, Sav-On and Staples for #2 lead pencils with erasers. For some reason I didn't hit COSTCO. The average price per pencil at the other stores came in just above a dime. The price at Wal-Mart, for what appeared to be the same pencil, was a nickel.

(While inside Wal-Mart for that virginal experience, I noticed a collapsible beach chair, similar to what I'd just purchased from REI for $59. The Wal-Mart price was $19. Hmm.)

Doing some quick math, it appeared that if our teachers followed the union mandate, schoolchildren would get half as many pencils, or, the schools would shell out an additional $8,550,000 nationwide just for pencils. Imagine what notebooks would add. Or crayons.

So when our television expired last month, we scurried over to our favored place, COSTCO. We saw high-definition, thin-screened stuff everywhere, with terrific pricing. One embarrassment is that our eyesight doesn't entirely appreciate what these screens deliver.

The cheapest cost $600.

On impulse, we decided to see what Wal-Mart had, knowing that not much is being broadcast yet in high definition, and, that our cable outfit charges extra for this sometimes-available service. So we put on dark glasses, glanced around the parking lot to make sure nobody we knew could see us and stepped inside a Wal-Mart. We found a conventional TV, with a screen larger than the cheapest COSTCO model for $200.

We bought it and snuck out.

Please, can this remain our secret?

The set will probably become a donation to the Salvation Army in a year or two, after the high def stuff gets sorted out, and prices plunge further.

We're sticking with COSTCO and Starbucks. We're mixing it up with Vons and Trader Joes, with Barnes & Noble and Warwicks. But we're not being so uppity that we think the real workers of our city should be deprived of a Wal-Mart Supercenter, just because the unions and the City Council say so. That's elitism to the extreme.

If you want to sample what union dictates can do for a city, visit Detroit. The unemployment rate there is 7.5 percent compared to our 3.9 percent. Detroit suffers 1,251 violent crimes annually for every 100,000 citizens, leading the nation while San Diego sits at a 469 rate per 100,000. Take an entire country, like Germany, where the social improvements have been mandated nationwide and unemployment just passed 12%.

We have a neighbor who moved here from Detroit. When I asked how bad a beating they were taking on their house sale there, he winced.

"I'll let you know if I ever get an offer," he said. "We'll take any price."

Hey, unions can help create affordable housing after all. Wanna live in Detroit?

Gary Sutton is a retired CEO. He is the author of "Corporate Canaries?Avoid Business Disasters with a Coal Miner's Secrets."

12/21/06

Christ is back in Christmas?

OK...here we are, a few days before Christmas. The Salvation Army is out there in front of Walmart, and Walmart employees have been authorized to use the "C" word in greeting customers.

You will actually receive a 'Merry Christmas' from Walmart employees.

Like, wowsers, dude.

"Christians" everywhere are congratulating themselves for having moved America's Favorite Place to Shop to put Christ back in Christmas.

However...

"Christians" are the ones who have had more to do with removing Christ from Christmas than any of the most rabid leftie moonbats.

Tell me, if you will, what this insane spending spree that constitutes "The Christmas Season" has to do with Christ? It's a mad splurge of hedonistic materialism. It has nothing to do with the true meaning of Christmas, whatever that might be at the dawn of this, the Third Millennium.

Yet "Christians", swarming through Walmart and the malls, wielding credit cards like swords of God-like vengeance, take smug self-satisfaction in having put Christ back in Christmas.

They have not. The almighty dollar has put something back in the season, but I don't think it has anything to do with Christ.

It has to do with which stridently vocal group has managed to threaten the most economically disruptive boycott.

It has nothing to do with Christ.

The madcap spending sprees continue. Sometime over the weekend, some "Christians" may take a few minutes, an hour or so, and go to church. And after that, they will go back to roll in the swag, putting Christ aside in favor of the latest bit of technology or the latest bit of fashion.

There is a difference between "Christ-like" and "Christian".

That's what it has come down to.

Whose fault is that? The leftie liberal moonbats and the ACLU?

Jesus wept.

12/20/06

Principalities and Powers: The Rape of Europe

Islamofascist apologists won't like this one:

The Rape of Europe

http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/1609

An excerpt:

The German author Henryk M. Broder recently told the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant (12 October) that young Europeans who love freedom, better emigrate. Europe as we know it will no longer exist 20 years from now. Whilst sitting on a terrace in Berlin, Broder pointed to the other customers and the passers-by and said melancholically: "We are watching the world of yesterday."

Yep. And today, Al Zarwahiri, the second-in-command of Al Qaeda, told Muslims in general and the Palestinians in particular that any way other than 'holy war' was the wrong way:

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,237678,00.html

"...He attacked Abbas' proposal to hold early elections to resolve the increasingly violent rivalry between his moderate Fatah party and the militant Hamas movement, which dominates the parliament. The situation has degenerated to daily gunbattles in the streets of Gaza.

In the clips broadcast by Al-Jazeera, al-Zawahiri did not say how the two parties should settle their dispute, but he scoffed at elections, saying: "Any way other than holy war, will lead us only to loss and defeat."

And here is a good spoof of James Baker and the ISG (Iraqi Study Group)findings:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-w77sLtz754

See also:

http://tinyurl.com/ymbg5y

12/18/06

Economic development dustup in Pueblo

They're going at it again over in Pueblo, over the latest GEO scheme to start up a private prison there.

It involves a bit of conflict of interest, the stink of corruption, the usual greed and avarice and the presumption that the taxpayers are stupid beyond belief.

The article is here:

http://www.chieftain.com/editorial/1166451014/1

Here is a good little excerpt:

"State Rep. Buffie McFadyen of Pueblo West had requested the audit, which found that a former state director of prisons, who turned out to be Nolin Renfrow, was helping GEO to get a contract for a private prison in Weld County while he still was employed by the state.

Mr. Renfrow's commission from that deal would have been $1 million, according to the audit. The egregious conflict of interest reportedly took place when Mr. Renfrow was cashing in on unused state vacation and sick leave.

"Neither the department (of Corrections) nor the former employee provided evidence that (Renfrow) received the express consent of his attending physician or appointing authority to engage in outside work activities," the audit said. "As a result, we question (his) use of about 240 hours of paid sick leave benefits valued at about $14,000." "

and another:

"GEO wanted the guarantee to secure tax-exempt bond financing for construction. There was even talk about the city of Pueblo issuing the bonds. Outrageous!"

Outrageous? Sure it is. But do you remember that theater group trying to weasel the city's reserve funds into backing a theater downtown? Remember that? Despite the fact that there was absolutely no indication that such a business was viable? Despite the fact that all economic pointers showed that the theater industry is not doing well-a fact that hasn't changed. Speaking of which, Tinseltown has raised the prices on popcorn, drinks, and other snacks. Yep.

That theater over in Rocky Ford may not have the greatest facilities, but the price is right, you don't get screwed at the concession stand, and the people running it are a lot friendlier. Yep, they only do one flick at a time, but they're making it work, and it works quite well. At least it did last time we were there, which wasn't all that long ago.

But we wander afield...we were talking about the prison project in Pueblo.

Then we have this:

"Last week, Joe Ortiz, director of the Department of Corrections, notified GEO that the state has rescinded the Pueblo contract."

Question is, why did it take Buffy to root this out? Where was Joe while Nolin was pulling this little scheme? Who else was involved? Is there any fallout over this, or is it 'bidness as usual' over in DoC?

Good thing ol' Buffy was on the ball on this one. Otherwise, the taxpayers would be funding another one of those private prison lashups and lining the various pockets in the process.

Waydago, Buffy!

12/15/06

Wreaths Across America




Every December for the past 15 years, Morrill Worcester, owner of one of the world's largest holiday wreath companies, has taken time in the midst of his busiest season to haul a truckload of wreaths to Arlington from his small Downeast Maine town of Harrington.
For years, he and a small band of volunteers laid the wreaths in virtual obscurity. But in the last 12 months that has changed, thanks to a dusting of snow last year at the cemetery, an evocative photograph, a sentimental poem and a chain e-mail. And this year, Worcester went national. A new program, "Wreaths Across America," shipped a total of about 1,300 wreaths to more than 200 national cemeteries and vets' memorials in all 50 states.

Worcester, 56, says he wants to help Americans remember and honor deceased military veterans, particularly at Christmas, when they're missed most. On the Wreaths Across America website, he makes this comment: "When people hear about what we're doing, they want to know if I'm a veteran. I'm not. But I make it my business never to forget."

On Thursday he looked at the crowd of volunteers — five times as many as last year's — and said, "I didn't realize there were this many people that felt like I do."

The tradition grew slowly. Every year there were a few more volunteers in Harrington to load the truck and a few more in Arlington to lay the wreaths. Every January there'd be a few more calls, e-mails or letters. Worcester says that apart from a newspaper story here and a broadcast report there, "it was almost a private thing."
Until December 2005.

When the day was almost over and all the wreaths had been laid, it started to snow. Around the same time, an Air Force news photographer covering the event went back for a final picture before heading back to the Pentagon.

Master Sgt. James Varhegyi had shot hundred of images that morning. In accordance with photojournalistic convention, almost all had people in them.

But this time Varhegyi took a picture that had no people, just rows of graves, decorated with bowed wreaths, on snowy ground. White, green, red — the colors of Christmas. He didn't think it was anything special.

When the Worcesters returned to Harrington, things quieted down as usual after Christmas. Except that instead of declining in January, the appreciative calls and e-mails began to increase.

Varhegyi's photo had been posted on an Air Force website, from which someone — the Worcesters don't know who — had lifted it, put it in an e-mail, and added a poem:

Rest easy, sleep well my brothers.
Know the line has held, your job is done.
Rest easy, sleep well.
Others have taken up where you fell, the line has held.
Peace, peace, and farewell …

"Please share this with everyone on your address list," the e-mail read. "You hear too much about the bad things people do. Everyone should hear about this."

The e-mail became an Internet sensation. It spread like a virus, so far and so fast that Snopes.com, a website devoted to exploring myths and rumors, investigated and confirmed its existence.

More and more people contacted Worcester Wreath Co. with questions, thanks and requests. By February, the company was getting 30 to 40 e-mails a day. People sent checks, which were returned. Company staffers found themselves devoting more and more time to phone calls about the Arlington effort.

One night, Sherry Scott, the office manager, was working late, trying to get caught up, when the phone rang:

"It was an elderly woman from Texas. She says, 'Tell me you're the company that lays the wreaths at Arlington.' When I said we were, there was silence. Then she started crying. She says, 'My Dad's buried at Arlington.' Then I started crying."

12/14/06

The Swift Raids

On Tuesday, Federal agents raided six Swift meatpacking locations and detained over 1200 suspected illegal aliens. The action stemmed from an identity theft investigation.

Some interesting background:

"Immigration officials last month informed Swift that it would remove unauthorized workers on Dec. 4, but Swift asked a federal judge to prevent agents from conducting the raid, arguing it would cause ‘‘substantial and irreparable injury’’ to its business.

The company estimated a raid would remove up to 40 percent of its 13,000 workers."

Doesn't that sound like Swift executives knew they had a large number of illegals working in their plants?

Yet in the same article, we find this:

"In a written statement, President and CEO Sam Rovit said the company never has knowingly hired illegal workers and does not condone the practice."

Sounds to me like Sam is full of the 'internal affairs' of his bovine clients.

But then we have this:

"Swift uses a government pilot program to confirm whether Social Security numbers are valid. Company officials have raised questions about the program’s ability to detect when two people are using the same number."

So what's the deal here?

So far, no Swift execs have been arrested. Yet if they knew they were hiring illegals, as is clearly implied from the preceding excerpts, should they not be arrested?

But what about the gummint program? Sounds like it's in the same league as that masterpiece used by the State of Colorado to manage social services bennies.

Meanwhile, we have all kinds of people missing the point here:

"In Colorado, Garcia worried about the schoolchildren whose parents were arrested at the Swift plant in Greeley.

‘‘Who is going to pick them up?’’ he asked."

Oh, I dunno. Immigration? Then we have this:

"That sense of shock was expressed by Jane Mazur, executive director of Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Pueblo.

"I couldn't believe the government would make this raid on the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which is a major holiday for Latino families," Mazur said. "These kinds of raids only destroy families. How would you like to have your kids come home from school to find that you have been jailed and are being deported to Mexico?" "

I suppose if I were an illegal, working illegally in this country, and possessed of an illegal Social Security account, I might reasonably expect to eventually be deported back to Mexico, and that my kids might reasonably expect me to be jailed as well.

I guess the Diocese has no pedophile priests to deal with, so is giving it's attention to protecting other criminals and their illegal activities? Illegal immigration is bad enough. Covering for identity theft is even worse.

http://www.chieftain.com/national/1166119500/1

http://www.chieftain.com/metro/1166120131/1

12/13/06

Iraq Slogger

Here is a new 'clearinghouse' site for news on Iraq:

http://www.iraqslogger.com/

Here is how it came to be:

For the past four years there has been no shortage of news and views on Iraq and the long-running war there. What’s been missing: a one-stop-shopping clearinghouse for nonpartisan information, including material coming out of Iraq itself from natives of that country, not from foreign correspondents.

Now that need is finally being addressed in the form of IraqSlogger, in Beta at www.iraqslogger.com, but due to be officially launched next week. Its director is the former CNN news division chief, Eason Jordan, who quit that post suddenly in 2005 after 23 years with the company. The name of his new venture, he says, was inspired by a Donald Rumsfeld reference to this war being a “long, hard slog.”

The concept, Jordan tells E&P, “grew out of the feeling that I think many people shared that there was no one place to go. Individual news organizations do terrific work but you can spend the better part of a day going from one site to another and one TV outlet to another,” searching for a full picture.

“Iraq is the story of our time,” he declares. His goal for the site is for it to become nothing less than “the world's premier Iraq-focused information source” -- and with no “political slant.”

12/8/06

Then and Now



From Cox and Forkum Political Cartoons

http://www.coxandforkum.com

12/7/06

A Day That Will Live In Infamy

Today is Pearl Harbor Day.

If nothing else, it should serve as a memorial to the end result of appeasement.

Planned Parenthood Redux

Well. We've gotten a few comments on the previous post, same subject.

So far, I haven't heard any comments favorable to the preacher. The general consensus seems to be that he showed up, busted the Chamber's chops, spouted a bit of fire and brimstone, and faded into the woodwork.

Huh. I'd have thought that the preacher would be out there in front of Planned Parenthood, with the courage of his convictions, talking to visitors, telling them about the many things that his church is doing to help those in need, about the adoption net his church has established to place those kids who would otherwise be aborted, to help women through a time of trouble and tribulation.

His church is doing all those things, isn't it?

Some of them?

None of them?

Huh. Well. Back to Planned Parenthood. At least they are doing something besides talk uselessly and posture even more uselessly, even if it isn't the best option by the lights of many people.

12/5/06

Planned Parenthood

Hoodoggie but that minister threw a hissy fit over the Chamber renting space to Planned Parenthood.

Maybe we wouldn't need Planned Parenthood if the churches were doing a better job reaching people. Or reaching out to them.

But too many churches seem to do best at being judgmental, self-righteous, and more interesting in condemning rather than getting out there and wallowing with the unwashed masses, those who most need some real Christian help.

Churches seem to be fond of asking "What would Jesus do?"

Indeed. What would Jesus do? Betcha it wouldn't be just sitting around whining about the Chamber renting a building.

Got an alternative plan of action there, preacher?

12/1/06

Conduct Unbecoming

More on Jim Webb, the Democrat's senator-elect from Virginia. This is an editorial from the Staunton, VA " News-Leader":

http://tinyurl.com/ynae44

Conduct unbecoming

We suppose there will be people who will applaud Democrat Jim Webb, our newly elected senator, for his "courage" and "uncompromising stance" toward President Bush at a recent White House reception for freshman senators.

We'd say it betrays Webb's lack of class and manners and bodes ill for his ability to work with others in Congress.

In case you missed the story, here's the gist of it.

At the private reception, the Democratic senator-elect pointedly avoided being part of a receiving line and photo op with the president. That by itself was somewhat of a social faux pas, but perhaps forgivable. It was the exchange between Webb and Bush that occurred later that concerns us.

Although Webb had ducked the receiving line, he couldn't escape Bush altogether, and the president found him. According to Webb, the president asked, "How's your boy?", referring to Webb's son Jimmy, a Marine on combat duty in Iraq.

Webb said his response to Bush was, "I told him I'd like to get them out of Iraq," to which the president responded, "That's not what I asked. How's your boy?"

"I told him that was between my boy and me," Webb said.

We do not question Webb's depth of belief in his position about the war in Iraq. However there is a time for everything, and this was not the time for Webb to display his disrespect for the president. It would have been more appropriate for Webb to have simply said something along the lines of "He's fine, but I'd rather have him home." You don't have to be "on" all the time,
and displaying some social graces might actually smooth the rough road ahead for Webb if he expects to get anything done with his slim majority.

No matter how much Webb may dislike President Bush and disagree with him about the conduct of the war, Bush is still the president and the commander in chief of the armed forces that Webb's son is a member of. It would not have killed Webb to have been gracious, and it would have reflected better on the rest of us Virginians if our junior senator had behavedappropriately.
It's a sad commentary about the continuing decline of civil discourse in our nation when barely elected officials call the wrong kind of attention to themselves even before taking their oath of office. Webb's behavior was embarrassing, not brave.

Opinions expressed in this feature represent the majority opinion of the newspaper's editorial board, consisting of: Roger Watson, president and publisher; David Fritz, executive editor; Cindy Corell, city editor; Jim McCloskey, editorial cartoonist; Dennis Neal, opinion page editor; and Macon Rich, production director.

More True Colors

Dreadful Democratic Manners
Rich Galen
Friday December 1, 2006

http://www.mullings.com/

 While the President of the United States was in the Middle East doing the business of the free world, the Washington Post ran a front page article about how the next Senator from Virginia, Jim Webb, exhibited the kind of manner which would have gotten him beaten up and thrown into the street if he’d done it anywhere but the White House.

 Webb, a Democrat, beat incumbent Republican Senator George Allen by a little over 9,000 votes out of 2.3 MILLION votes cast in the Commonwealth of Virigina.

 According to the Washington Post, the Senator-elect from Virginia went to a reception for newly elected Senators and Congressmen at the White House.

 Keep in mind, Webb didn’t have to go to the White House. He went of his own free will. The Post’s account:

Virginia's newest senator tried to avoid President Bush. Democrat James Webb declined to stand in a presidential receiving line or to have his picture taken with the man he had often criticized on the stump this fall. But it wasn't long before Bush found him.

"I'd like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President," Webb responded, echoing a campaign theme.

"That's not what I asked you," Bush said. "How's your boy?"

"That's between me and my boy, Mr. President," Webb said coldly, ending the conversation on the State Floor of the East Wing of the White House.

 Keep in mind, Webb’s SON didn’t have to go to Iraq. He joined the Marines of his own free will.

 If Webb wants to start a fight with someone, go over to Rep. Charlie Rangle’s (D-NY) office. He insists he will introduce legislation to reinstitute a draft. If Webb’s son had been drafted, he would have had no choice as to a career path.

 The first question you have to ask yourself is: Why did Senator-elect Webb go to the White House to start with? If he didn’t want to be in the same place at the same time as the President … stay home.

 Also, we only know from the Post account that the President responded as it is written. No sense of whether there was a smile, or a hand-on-shoulder, or dad-to-dad eye-contact.

 I am drawn to this story because the Mullings Director of Standards & Practices and I were invited to the White House for a holiday reception last night.

 We accepted. We did want to get into the receiving line. And we did get our picture taken with the President and the First Lady.

 And we were honored at every step along the way: From having the Secret Service check our names at the front gate, to being handed our color-coded card to get into the reception line, to admiring the Christmas decorations in the rooms on the main floor of the White House, to getting into line and finally being announced to the President and Mrs. Bush for our photo.

 Jim Webb thinks he won the election for Senator from Virginia. He is wrong. Webb got more votes and will be sworn in on January 3, 2007 but he didn’t win that election. George Allen lost the election.

 I didn’t vote for Webb. I voted for Allen. I may have mentioned this before but when it comes to voting, all things being equal, I vote for the Republican. And, when it comes to voting, all things are always equal.

 We have spoken before out the largely fictional “good old days” when Senators battled on the floor and in Committee all day and then shared a bourbon and branch water after dark. Those are the glory days the national press corps pines for.

 I wonder how the national press would have responded to a Republican being publicly ugly to, say, Bill Clinton, at a White House Christmas reception.

 I don’t wonder about that at all. He would have been held up as an example of everything which is wrong with the spiteful GOP.

 My Senator Jim Webb. How embarrassing.

One might argue that the writer is unabashedly Republican, and therefore slanted. OK. He is. However, bad manners are bad manners no matter who writes the story. Google Webb and you'll find that he does indeed tend to be a rude horse's ass.