My friend, Lou, is definitely a conservative somewhere far to the right of Attila the Hun, Beelzebub and even Frank Rizzo who was Philadelphia’s erstwhile mayor, demigod and Mussolini. In fact it was Rizzo who once boasted that a conservative was a liberal until he got mugged the night before.
So when I posited that a recent article in a newsmagazine had me rethinking my position on President Obama’s bank and auto industry bailout program, especially the reborn success stories of General Motors and Chrysler, needless to say Lou huffed and puffed.
He don’t revisit nothing. Things are what they are and be what they be.
And Lou can’t stand Obama. Fact is, the only difference between the President and a dead skunk in the middle of the road, is that the skunk has tire skid-marks around it.
Hmm…and I thought that was a lawyer joke.
To tell you that Lou is an Italian Catholic is to simply note that the boy is from South Philadelphia. His entire life – so far.
Wears mostly black on his lithe thin muscular frame that he keeps as buff as Mr. America by lifting. – should I dare say it – dumbbells. His hair is slick-back-black. Hell he bought a pair of fashionable Steve Madden high ankle boots recently that had a tinge of grey in them. That is until Lou polished them completely seminary black.
To say the least, Lou pretty much sees life in black and white-collar. It doesn’t get confusing that way.
Oh, yeah, Lou recently bought himself a new car – turned out, appropriate to the subject we were discussing, to be a Fiat, which now owns 55 percent of Chrysler.
Guess the color?
I will simply tell you: It will always fit in at any Italian funeral.
Anyway, originally Lou and I, in our desultory conversations over cigars at the popular Twin Smoke Shoppe in South Philly, had objected to the bailouts – banks, corporations, et al. Let the bricks fall and the Phoenix will rise from the ashes.
But then I recently read this article. It was mostly about Sergio Marchionne, the Fiat acolyte, Chrysler’s workaholic boss who is credited with with saving the car business in Detroit. Last May Chrysler paid the remaining $6 billion payment on its bailout loan, all but completing the payback six years ahead of schedule.
I hadn’t put two and two together. I failed to grasp how pervasive the car industry is. It involves hundreds of thousands of workers directly and indirectly with the industry.
Simply put, the web of employment tied to autos, from raw steel and aluminum production to engineering, is not easily duplicated with two person start ups.
Anyway when I think I noted, to Lou, that GM, with the bailout, is now back to being the biggest car manufacturer in the world. And Chrysler, under this new Italian Stallion boss, has just recorded record profits.
I suggested, in a speculative manner, that perhaps it might be an appropriate time to revisit our thinking on this matter.
At that, Lou, who is a lawyer….Did I mention that? That Lou is a card carrying member of my least favorite ethnic – a lawyer. Those very same venal vapid vermin who have nurtured the legal halitosis in the bubonic plague for 800 years.
But allow me to put aside the differences in our intellectual pursuits for a moment…Oh, did I say intellectual pursuits…for a lawyer that is coloring with crayons, and charging for Picassos…
Anyway, I really do like Lou, even if he would prefer to keep me grounded…under foot. So, please, somebody stop me before I am forced to eat more of his Italian food. And you know the trouble with Italian food: After six or seven days, you’re hungry again.
So, when I suggested that maybe we might readjust our microscope lenses on this bailout issue, Lou spoke up. He boldly postured – without even charging me for it. See, I told you he wasn’t one of the 95 percent of lawyers that give the other five percent a bad name – that if Chrysler, for instance, would have been allowed to go under, then the other car companies, in the economic foray of supply and demand, would have picked up the slack.
By that he meant Ford and General Motors, no doubt.
Trouble was, General Motors was also being bailed out, at the time. Only Ford wasn’t. But in 2008 in the midst of the country’s financial disaster, banks weren’t lending money. And whoever attempted to come in and salvage Chrysler’s 10 to 12 percent market share would require more billions than the bailout was already presenting.
Furthermore the country would lose out on the vitality of competition — not only in pricing, but also size and designs that entice the marketplace.
I didn’t bring this up, at the time, because I wanted Lou to think I was actually absorbing what he had to say. That perhaps a lawyer might have something germane to offer outside the courtroom or a legal brief.
Allow me to be unequivocal about this — they don’t. They’ve made a criminal and incivil mess of our laws and courtrooms. And now, like locusts, they are growling their hungry bellies over new frontiers.
Not Lou, in particular, because he really is a wonderfully decent soul.(He’s not bribing me to say this.) But lawyers in general have undermined the moral foundations and usurped our ability to utilize common sense.
So when a lawyer gives you his two-cents, give him back change before he sues you for the usury interest rates.
I didn’t even have the heart to explain to Lou’s misplaced pettifoggery that it actually was that abominable President Bush – the champion of many of Lou’s political causes – who initiated the car bailout. President Obama merely took the baton and ran with it.
But why worry about the facts when you think you’ve got the law on your side. I mean the Republican Presidential candidates have all seemingly overlooked this little Bush-fact, also.
All I can say about all this is that I seem to have been proven wrong about the car bailout even though I am withholding my final opinion concerning the bank bailouts — trouble is, you need a silver bullet to kill those SOBs.
So, when I am wrong I should have the fortitude to stand up and admit it. That is, if I feel the responsibility to criticize someone when I think he is wrong, then I should also have the responsibility to stand up for him when he is right.
And this is whether I am a conservative or a liberal. For, as you know, a man who has both feet planted firmly in the air can be safely called a liberal, as opposed to the conservative who has both feet firmly planted squarely in his mouth.
And dats yDrewIS on DIS penal colony…