February 2004 Archives

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February 26, 2004

"It's a States Rights Issue"

Can somebody please explain what the argument is against gay marriage? I’ve got gay friends that have been in, get this – ‘cause it’s fascinating, only one committed relationship for 10 plus years! I know, I know. Us straight folks sit and look at this and think, “I wish more heterosexuals would be as committed and focused on keeping their families together”.

Offering a Constitutional Amendment to America’s most sacred text is, at best, a terrible legacy for the Bush Administration. Tinkering with our Constitution for what? Are we, as a public, so afraid of what could happen to our families if gay couples are allowed the basic civil rights other couples are allowed?

Calling it a “fundamental institution”, the President’s action, for the first time in researched history, actually looks to take rights away by limiting civil rights for people of a different sexuality then his own. Writing bias in to the Constitution is, bar none, the scariest thing that could happen to this country.

Granted, it’s not going to happen. Requiring 2/3 approval from the both the House and the Senate, this Amendment is simply not going to go through. Some Republicans have already stated they feel this is a States Rights issue and not a federal issue (oddly, agreeing with Howard Dean).

So, why put this out there? Bush, who has continued to alienate his conservative party with massive deficit spending, is trying his best to hit a hot-button issue to rally his base. This would be that issue.

But, I thought it was a “States Rights Issue”? Well, President Bush seems to have thought that too. And, he thought that 11 months prior to taking office, and while running for President.

President Bush on Larry King, February 15, 2000:
Larry King: “So, therefore, if the states were voting on gay marriage, you would suggest to that state not to approve it.”
(Then) Governor Bush: “The State can do what they want to do. Don’t try to trap me in the State’s issue like you’re trying to get me in here.”

Hold on, what?

Is anybody seeing this "straight"?

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February 19, 2004

101 Damnations Overload!

Due to a very high demand, we're going to leave the below posts of 101 Damnations up for a bit longer. We've received 5,000 hits per day and increasing by 10% or more daily (and thanks for your donations).

Please feel free to email us (by hitting the email link on the right side) if you have any additions you'd like to make!

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February 11, 2004

101 Damnations - Part III

Yet another telling sign that arrogance, ignorance, poor funding for management and employee training programs can not only destroy a company, but can destroy human beings as well.

Today 38 year old Javier Cruz, dressed in a costume and preparing to walk through his normal parade route in the Magic Kingdom, was accidentally struck by a float and killed.

This death, as do the deaths and injuries that have happened over the last 10 years at all Disney theme parks, falls squarely on a lack of funding and adequate employee training. And, this falls squarely on Michael Eisner, the Disney Board of Directors and all top executives involved in theme park operations.

Here is why;
1) Executives - The chiefs of the Disneyland and Disney World parks have been saving their own hides when knowing full well that they were under-budgeted. With out the budget, they had to cut staff, cut back on training, and cut back on safety re-training programs. Any executive with a soul should depart the company. A life or lives are at stake. Get a "job" somewhere else. Need an example? His name is Roy Disney.

2)Board of Directors - Part of the cost-cutting process. Oh, but they didn't cut cost's when handing over a quarter of a billion dollars in compensation to Michael Eisner. According to my personal budget estimations (this IS my day job), $9 million would have adequately covered an increase in maintenance staff of 25% for all U.S. parks, adjusted to include benefits and all taxes. It would also have covered additional changeables (replacement parts for small items).

3) Michael Eisner - By distributing just .0002% of his $250,000,000 in compensation over the past 8 years, he would have paid for that one worker that was needed to alert Javier Cruz that he was in the path of a parade float. But, Mr. Eisner had other things on his mind.

Rest in peace Javier.

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101 Damnations - Part II

Second in a series.

In our last look at the Walt Disney Company, we studied the different aspects of the overcompensation packages for the Board of Directors. We also pointed out the lagging growth of the company.

It now appears that Comcast see's the company for the jewel that the company can be. Today Comcast made a hostile bid for Disney. The fight is on.

This squarely falls on the arrogance of both Eisner and his Board. But, mainly on Eisner.

Consider this;

1) Eisner has failed miserably with preserving the family feeling of the company started by Walt and brother Roy. Most recently the push-out of Roy Disney by the Board of Directors, (Roy being the last visible member of the family in the company, and a symbol of the company's romantic and storied past to all it's employees) has brought flack to both Eisner and the Board.

2) Eisner's apparent arrogance ended a deal between Steve Jobs and his Pixar animation company.

3) Eisner clearly has not left a good taste in the mouth of Comcast CEO, Brian Roberts. Roberts had apparently contacted Eisner and presenting the offer to Eisner, but Eisner snubbed Roberts. Don't expect Roberts to pull-punches now in his takeover attempt.

Now, the "family-friendly" company is being subjected to a hostile takeover which may just fly with institutional investors. What then? Look for a break-up of the company. And, the parks and creativity will be all but lost.

Creative folks have never been huge fans of working for big organizations. Note the lack of creative talent left at Walt Disney Stuidos, Walt Disney Animation, and Walt Disney Imagineering.

What could be most disconcerting is the actual elimination of the Animation and/or Imagineering departments. Buying films and theme park attractions from outside vendors.

This all falls squarely on Eisner and his Board.

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February 09, 2004

Minister of Culture checks in!

Ken Gruberman, the ABP's Minister of Culture, checks in with some thoughts on Janet, Justin and the state of affairs in the "music" industry:

Noticed that Justin Timberlake was on the Grammy show. Where was Janet?
Maybe because this is America and she was a girl, and black, and he assaulted
her, that she got punished?

Timberlake is SUCH a weasel. First he said it was no big deal, then he said
it was an "unfortunate wardrobe malfunction," then he said yes, they planned
it but he thought she'd have a red bra on underneath, then he said he didn't
see what was wrong in giving America something to talk about. All that in
less than one week. Finally, he was given the ultimatum by Grammy officials
that, if he wanted to be on the show, he had to apologize on the show. Janet
said she'd been apologizing all week and enough was enough so screw off --
and boycotted the show. Timberlake went on the show and apologized. So that
would make him… a two-faced, lying suck-up? This is the kind of guy who,
during World War II, would found Jews in hiding and then turned them into
the SS in exchange for a gig in Berlin.

I'm sure I can think of worse to say about him soon; I haven't even bothered
to discuss his music.

Well, OK, while on I'm on the subject -- have you noticed his entire solo
career has been built on the dead rotting bones of Michael Jackson? His song
structure, his lyric content, even his dance moves, are all warmed-over
Jackson stuff from the 80's -- but girls still are all agog over this guy? I
haven't seen anything this tragic since Pat Boone made a career off covers
of Little Richard and Chuck Berry songs! The fact that Janet agreed to duet
with this little turd only makes me more confused about where she's coming
from. *SIGH*

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February 08, 2004

Kerry’ing On… And, On… And, On…

We’ve waited a bit to do some fact checks on the Democratic Presidential Candidates. Mostly because we think they’re all lacking in potential. Much like the Republican candidate this year.

After the win in Washington, and barring an extraordinary Dean-like gaff, John Kerry appears to be a lock for the Democratic nominee.

With that in mind, we’ve come across some interesting facts on Senator Kerry.

In 1997 Kerry penned a book, “The New War”. The book flopped. But, with this book under his belt, Senator Kerry likes to reference himself and his book with respect to his excellent insight on the war on terror.

In a recent interview on Fox News, Kerry proudly pointed-out his anti-terrorism record by citing his book and stating, “[I]n that book, ... I wrote about how we needed to strengthen our ability to be able to fight international criminal crime, including terror. ... I said, four years before New York, it'll take one megaterrorist event in one of our cities to change life as we know it in America. I think we deserve a president who does see ahead."

That’s a great point. We, the American public, do deserve that. So it’s interesting that Kerry uses himself as an example when, in reality, his book was about worldwide corruption. His primary focus in “The New War” was on "global issues" like Chinese human organ-traders, mobsters in Italy and even the Japanese “yakuza”.

He briefly touches on a terrorist catastrophe. But, what book predicting future events doesn’t include a “future catastrophe”? He definitely does not address an attack on the scale (or nature) of 9/11. Nor, does he address radical Islamic fundamentalists as a serious threat. Above all else, he offers no solutions to this problem.

So, where did he get this interpretation of his book? To understand his statement, we researched the book, various web sites, and even his own campaign website.

Character 101

Let us look at Senator Kerry’s claims while on the campaign trail;

“I personally led the fight to hold Oliver North accountable for what I believe were unconstitutional activities”, 01/19/2004, Fox On The Record w/Greta Van Susteren.
No evidence exists, or even suggests, that he was leader on this.

”I led the fight to stop Newt Gingrich from undoing the Clean Air and Clean Water Act”, 01/04/2004, Iowa Democratic Presidential Debate.
In actuality, the fight against Gingrich was led by environmentally friendly Republicans in the Senate. Notably, Rhode Island’s Senator John Chafee (R.) led the fight and got the amendments introduced by Gingrich to die a divisive death. But, Senator Chafee can’t comment on his role as the leader. He died in 1999.

”I led the fight for deficit reduction in 1985 with Fritz Hollings and Senator Gramm of Texas”, 01/25/2004, Face The Nation.
Exaggerated and Debatable.
Again, the fight for a balanced budget was led by the Republicans (known as the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings amendment). Fearing a political backlash from conservative Republicans, the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings amendment set spending level limits that were to be enforced by mandatory budget cuts if the limits were hit.
Where did Kerry “lead the fight”? Well, if you call being one of 40 co-sponsors “leadership”, then you can see his claim (somehow). Perhaps he’s using this item because it’s almost 20 years old. The Gramm-Rudman-Hollings amendment dates back to 1985.

”There is a special interest feeding frenzy going on in Washington. A $130 billion dollar giveaway to the drug companies. John Kerry led in the fight against it”, John Kerry for President television advertisement airing in Iowa, 12/2003.
The “fight” was led by Senator Edward Kennedy (D.). Kerry did participate in a filibuster (again, led by Kennedy), as did the majority of all democratic senators.
Interestingly, Kerry missed the final vote because, as his campaign spokeswoman stated in the Washington Post, “it was clear the final tally wasn’t going to be close”.

To be fair, Kerry may have assisted in a fight, and may have been in the background pushing amendments and bills through (as he claimed in a rebuttal to Howard Dean during the Democratic Presidential Debate on January 29th in South Carolina). But, a leader is “one who is in charge or in command of a cause or event”.

Kerry’s New War

With a war on terrorism as a backdrop for the 2004 General Election, Kerry’s efforts to cut intelligence spending in the 1990’s, coupled with his false statements on his leadership in the Senate, gives the Bush re-election campaign all the fuel they need to defeat Kerry. America isn't looking for more definitions of what "is" is. And, Kerry has painted himself in to that corner.

The New Republic, Kerry’s New War
Annenberg Political Fact Checker
John Kerry Official Campaign Website
Transcript: Democratic Presidential Debate, South Carolina
U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 108th Congress - 1st Session

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Cheney & Scalia sittin' in a tree... K-I-S-S-I-N-G

This is confounding at best.

In a report by Michael Janofsky in the New York Times, Vice President Cheney went on a hunting trip in Louisianna last month with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia as his "guest".

Now, let us get this clear in our admittedly thick heads... A Supreme Court Justice, who's vote helped to put the Vice President in the White House, is socializing with the Vice President? Although it smells, it's legal.

But, what about the fact that Cheney is a defendant in a case currently before the Supreme Court involving the Vice President's "Energy Task Force".

The Sierra Club's legal counsel has already hinted at requesting that Scalia recuse himself from the case.

Senator Patrick Leahy (D), the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee was befuddled. "He has to know that with similar tactics, in any state in the country, a State Supreme Court justice would have to recuse himself. It's Law School 101", Leahy said of Scalia.

Senator Orrin Hatch (R), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, declined to respond to requests for a comment with the exception of a statement released by his office stating that he was confident Scalia "would do the right thing".

As usual, the mainstream press is laying low on this one.

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February 06, 2004

You're fired, eh?

In a an article in a Canadian publication, they site a Canadian survey from Pollara Inc., that sites only 12% of Canadian's that feel America is better off with current President Bush.

Bush's approval rating in Canada is 15%.

Now, if our neighbors feel that way... imagine what the rest of the world feels.

Then again, they did give us Celine Dion.

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February 05, 2004

Blogging Iraq

Healing Iraq is a fantastic blog on life inside the changing nation of Iraq. Zeyad writes of the latest leaflet given out by the Americans. The leaflet says, "The spirit of tolerance between different religions, political organizations, sects, and ethnicities is part of the democratic society. All Iraqi citizens are equal and free to voice their opinions. Respecting others will help make Iraqi a better place for all Iraqis".

Please check this site out periodically to better understand what Iraqi's are going through day-to-day.

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February 04, 2004

101 Damnations

First in a series.

The Walt Disney Company is suffering. Any walk through a theme park owned and operated by Disney would allow you to see that. Paint peeling, trash in the waters, ride operations falling apart (resulting in death). This is not the company that Walt and Roy O. Disney would have looked at and been proud of. In fact, the legacy they left for future generations is in jeopardy.

With Roy Disney now gone from the company, it looks like Eisner can stay on unless something drastic is done. Something like voting Eisner out...along with his board of directors. If you're a shareholder, consider this;

1) New businesses initiatives have failed more at The Walt Disney Company then at any other time in the company’s history. California Adventure, a monumental disappointment, is simply a cookie cutter theme park that could have been built by any company in the world.

2) Overcompensation is, at best, unethical. The Chair of the Compensation Committee for 2002-2003, Judith Estrin, allowed 2002 to be a grand year for the top five executives of the company; the group of five were paid $40 million, even though the stock declined by almost 20%. Over the past three years, these five were paid over $68 million, even though the share price had declined by approximately 50%.

3) Ethics are an afterthought. John Bryson replaced Stanley Gold as Chair of Better Governance. What is fascinating is that Mr. Bryson's wife earns over $1.5 million per year from Disney's cable channels. Where's the investigation on this?

4) Television strategy is weak at best. The latest ABC ratings attempt will be a return of Regis Philbin and a higher payout for "Who Wants to be a Millionaire". This will be for one week in February. Not a long-term vision at all. ABC continues to fall.

5) The Walt Disney Company was started based on animation. Now, with the loss of the relationship with Pixar, Eisner has turned the company in to nothing more then a massive company with no vision, sense of purpose, or quality.

6) EuroDisney continues to be a thorn in the side of the Disney company. The Q1 report was flat. And rumors are that Disney is now seeking assistance (read, “relief”) from a heavy debt load.

7) In light of lay-off’s, poor compensation and unbelievably low morale for it’s employees, Eisner is obviously comfortable with this in more ways then one (read on).

8) Michael Eisner’s total compensation for the eight years from 1996-2003 was $250 Million.

9) However, the shareholders (during this same time frame) made approximately 2% per year on their investment in The Walt Disney Company.

10) The magic of a visionary is lost. While Disney has two of the most recognizable brands in the world (Mickey and Walt), what they stood for is now lost on the Board of Directors and Michael Eisner. They have completely marginalized both Mickey and the name Walt Disney. Poorly done pop music? Disney. Boring TV? Disney. Lame cartoon? Mickey. Sliding morale? Disney.
All of these things would have been absolutely unacceptable to Walt. Par for the course for Eisner.

There are 101 more points to make about bad management and Enron-style greed. And, we’ll be covering those in future articles.

For further reading, visit SaveDisney.com.

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