There seems to be little honor in corporate America

March 31, 2009

The federal government should not be bailing out domestic auto companies. It should not try to run them either. I am uncomfortable that the Obama administration felt it had to be the one to give CEO Rick Wagoner the boot out of  GM. Maybe the stockholders should have – I don’t know. Don’t even know if they had the power to.

It just doesn’t seem like the government ought to be that intamately involved in business.

And to make matters more bewildering, Wagoner reportedly may leave with a $23 million golden parachute. He had supposedly recently agreed to work for a $1 per year salary, it must be noted.

Maybe he felt guilty about having to beg or to extort the federal government out of billions of dollars in taxpayer money for a bailout. And maybe he felt a little bad about the fact that during his tenure as CEO, GM’s stock went from $70 per share to $3. He can’t blame it all on the worldwide economic downturn and that fuel spike last summer, since even in the good year of 2005 his company had lost $10.6 billion and suffered a 75 percent drop in its stock value under his leadership. (I got all those numbers out of an online Wall Street Journal story.)

But he’ll take his millions and run. There really is no shame in corporate America.

Most or all of these people who have led their companies down the drain and then had the audacity to ask for (demand?) taxpayer bailouts should have taken the traditional Japanese approach, no, not commit suicide, but resigned in the face of dishonor they had brought upon their companies and themselves.

As to their golden parachutes, well that is just part of the good old boy culture that has run corporate America where no one loses except the stockholders and the man and woman on the street, and oh, yes, the displaced workers, simply referred to as  “labor”.

One does not have to be anti-corporate to call for a new system of personal honor and morals and eithics and integrity, although maybe one has to be a bit of an idealist to do so.

To some extent we have reaped what we have sewn throughout society. Morals and honor and ethics and integrity  are lacking perhaps at all levels.

P.s.

The Obama administration has made it plain bankruptcy might be in the offing for both GM and Chrysler (and why didn’t we go there to begin with?). Strangely and thankfully, Ford so far is surviving without bailout money. And American workers are turning out cars in the border states and South working for foreign auto makers and are glad to be working even if their wages are lower than those up north.

I understand the United Auto Workers union might think it can hold out for retaining some of its more bloated benefits because the new administration is more labor friendly. Seems like they might be happy just to retain or recover their jobs for now. And maybe management may have to have an attitude adjustment, at least until the market comes back,  as well.

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I agree and disagree with McCain (and Obama) on Afghanistan war policy…

March 29, 2009

Just watched Sen. John McCain on Meet the Press and had thoughts that maybe he should have been elected after all.  And maybe if his own party would have done more to support him, he could have won, maybe.

But while I agree with his contention that although he agrees generally with President Obama’s approach in Afghanistan, he, McCain, would favor an even more aggressive approach, I think even McCain is not aggressive enough.

And sorry for the previous awkward sentence; I’m writing this on the fly.

If you read my last blog (just scroll down), you will see that I would propose we either go all out or cut out. While McCain favors more troops than Obama, he suggested that we don’t need to move on Pakistan even though it is aiding and abetting, harboring if you will, our enemy.

I do give McCain credit for saying that Obama should warn the American people that we have a long and hard road ahead there and that there will be a high level of casualties.

And please don’t think I am some type of war hawk. Actually, I would prefer that we cut our losses and get out. But I know that is not going to happen. At least I don’t think so.

I actually think that Mr. Obama has another Vietnam on his hands. And unfortunately, much of the electorate now does not understand, or even care, about the history and legacy of  Vietnam.

It has always been my belief that we could have won in Vietnam, but we might have then been left with a burden.

Even though Vietnam was partly an insurgency, it was also a conventional war with regular North Vietnamese Army troops, pith helmets and uniforms and all, and even tanks, invading South Vietnam. We never effectively cut off the North Vietnamese supply lines, even though we could have, albeit with great cost. But we expended great costs anyway for no favorable result.

Late in the Vietnam War President Nixon did at least one right thing, but failed to follow up — the public mood had turned decidedly against the war by then. He mined Haiphong Harbor, temporarily preventing Soviet supply ships from delivering war materials to the North.  Even though the Soviets threatened directly or indirectly (I don’t recall) nuclear confrontation with us, they backed down, as they always did during the Cold War.

The only logical approach in Afghanistan would be to call up the military draft, throw as many troops in as possible, and support them with our new sophisticated weapons and go for all out victory, which would be complete control of the territory. If the enemy is hiding in the border areas of Pakistan, then we must attack there too.

There is a prevailing thought that in this modern day and age, facing a hard-to-find and even to identify enemy that seems to come out of nowhere and then disperse so we can’t find and kill them, that we have to employ smarter tactics with fewer forces.  I know, I don’t get that either.

Historically, down through the centuries, no one has ever been successful in conquering Afghanistan, not even the once no.2  super power of  the Earth the Soviet Union. That should be instructive.

So the choice is to try to win or realize we can’t and get out.

Obama claimed this week that we are no longer attempting nation building in or image in Afghanistan, but McCain seemed to imply that we should. That worries me.

The only nation we need to build  — or rebuild and maintain — is our own.

McCain seemed reasonable on his economic policy suggestions, but he is in the comfortable position of not having to take the heat as Mr. Obama must.

Again, while I really do not prefer the war option, I would suggest if we choose to stay and fight, then we must go all out with military conscription.

We could solve our unemployment problem overnight and ramp up our sagging industrial sector, which could then in a future peacetime be maintained to keep us self sufficient as a nation.

What we probably should do though is cut our losses over there and pour all of our resources into rebuilding our own economy — while maintaining a strong defense, as opposed to offense — and turn ourselves back into a nation of producers of things rather than consumers of the world who buy our way into insolvency.

P.s.

The reason I doubt we could ever win the hearts and minds of the population in Afghanistan is that they are so backward that they are easy prey for the Taliban and Al Qaeda, who help them a little at times, but promise them that all will be better in the great Islamic after life.

After we won World War II, the Germans were more easily subdued because they were already a modern industrial nation with a culture a parrallel to ours. And even Japan, although Asian, was a modern western type industrial nation. And both societies were not broken up into tribes.

P.s. P.s.

Please check out my German-American blog where I’ve composed my own version of the Hansel and Gretel story with a suspect German translation at: http://vonwalther.wordpress.com

Danke


Fight to win or get out and cut our losses…

March 27, 2009

I think we make war too complicated and in so doing we lose.

Yes, the tactics of war have changed throughout the ages, but eventually the most powerful and/or best supplied force prevails, I think, except maybe in some instances where there is some type of struggle where that is not necessarily the case because there are cultural and geographic and political issues.

(Okay, if we must quibble, you might have two essentially equal forces and one has better leadership.)

So sometimes conflicts are not traditional wars.

But we always talk about our armed conflicts as war in the popular parlance, even though the Obama administration has used some ridiculous euphemism that I can’t even recall to rename “the War on Terror” or the war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan.

I just looked it up in a Washington Post story. The Obama administration has sent out an in-house memo that the war or war on terror should be referred to as the “overseas contingency operation”.  Now that is Orwellian Newspeak aimed at mind control over the people if I ever heard it.

(It’s disappointing, to say the least, that the Obama administration is playing that deceptive mind game with the public by not calling a war a war. You know they are lying to us. For those of you too young, look up “The Pentagon Papers” in Wikipedia.)

Some say we have actually won or are winning in Iraq. I doubt it, but if that is the case it was likely the result of stepped up military operations, i.e., the surge, and being able to buy off some of the belligerents.

And actually that is what we are doing in Afghanistan, that is putting in more forces and trying desperately to buy off some of the opposing forces.

I think we have forgotten what the heck we are there for, even though President Obama did state Friday that we were going after Al Qaeda, the group that is credited with and blamed for the 9/11 attacks and threatens us still. But there is all this talk of training the Afghans and making deals with certain factions of the Taliban.

We won World War II in four years. We’ve been stuck in Afghanistan, letting our troops get picked off, for some eight years.

We have been supporting our pretend ally Pakistan, who in turn helps Al Qaeda, and we have had disagreements with them over that. And I know it all involves various factions within the various countries who play one against the other (and we are among those being played) and so on.

So, shades of Vietnam. We are back to trying to “win the hearts and minds of the people”. Who cares for that? I don’t. Do you? And the people there do not think with one mind. They all have their various tribes and religious sects and allegiances and they are one heck of an independent people (and good for them).

Did we try to win the hearts and minds of the Germans or the Japanese in World War II? No we struck back at the Axis powers who attacked us (Japan, part of the Axis) at Pearl Harbor, and with our allies put together an overwhelming force with the goal of total defeat of the enemy and unconditional surrender and nothing less. And, in case you didn’t see the movie, we won. And my apologies to the remaining vets for my sarcasm.

And we should do that in the Middle East or we should just quit and cut our losses and maybe come home and defend our nation from the invasion of the drug cartels and their violence from Mexico.  Mexico is fast approaching the condition of a failed state, if it has not already met that criteria.

Not trying to be an alarmist, but we are for the first time in my life (since 1949) in danger of going bankrupt as a nation because of our own collective unwise use of our money and the tremendous financial burden our military adventures present.

Some economists warn that we as a nation could really become insolvent. We have ignored economic warnings before and have suffered the consequences.

I’ve written previously and I will write again that Mr. Obama may well find that he is stuck to what President Lyndon Johnson called the tar baby (then Vietnam), the trap Brer Fox and Brer Bear set for Brer Rabbit in the old Uncle Remus story. (Mr. Obama is too young. He probably didn’t read the stories by Joel Chandler Harris about Brer Rabbit or watch the related movie by Walt Disney, Song of the South, when he was a kid.)

At least Brer Rabbit was smart enough after he got stuck to escape by feigning fear of being thrown into the briar patch, knowing that as a rabbit he had special abilities to maneuver in there.

And Al Qaeda has played the parts of Brer Fox and Brer Bear and set the trap for the U.S. as Brer Rabbit, and we took the bait. Now will we be nimble and clever as Brer Rabbit was to extricate ourselves?

Maybe we could. Maybe Mr. Obama could do like one Senator said we should have done in Vietnam, declare victory and come home.

His move to turn the war in Afghanistan and as well as in Iraq over to local and supposedly friendly forces may be the thing to do and soon is not soon enough.

And to the moronic question of whether we should fight them over there or fight them here, I would answer, fight them here. We will prevail on our own terrain or we don’t deserve to win.

I’m not a defeatist or a militarist, but even a top general knows the limitations of situations and his own forces.

And while I would be the first to decry any requirement that the President of the United States have military experience, in this case it may be too bad Mr. Obama does not.

I’m not naive enough to think that politics plays no part in war, but I wish we would leave it out as much as possible and look at it as simply something we do to maintain our own security, not to remake societies in our own image.

If Afghanistan, for instance, is that vital, call up the military draft, and let’s go all out. And whoever hides or gives comfort to our enemies is our enemy.

But we have to be selective. No way we can take on the whole world!

P.s.

Some decades ago we helped Afghanistan defeat the Soviet invaders. Of course we did so for our own perceived self interests, but nonetheless, the reward for our efforts is that it harbored the terrorists who apparently perpetrated 9/11.  

(Copyright 2009)


Born again believer in newsprint newspapers???

March 27, 2009

Just as I had convinced myself that for newspapers to hang onto their model of paper newspapers would be like continuing to produce buggy whips when everyone was going to the Model T Ford, something came along to almost make me a born again believer in my old friend and source of income, the traditional newspaper.

It’s no secret that newspapers all over the United States (particularly big ones) are folding or on the edge of doing so. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer no more, except on the web, and the Rocky Mountain News out of Denver gone and the San Francisco Chronicle on the brink of shutting down if no buyer can be found and so many others gone and even the New York Times, the very symbol of newspapers in America (even if its politics offends conservatives) facing massive cutbacks.

But the bright spot may be many generally small local daily newspapers. They often have a niche and meet a demand for news in which they have little to no competition. And if they are fortunate enough to be independently owned, as opposed to corporate owned, that can be a blessing.

I may be easily swayed by the place newspapers have in my heart (and sometimes it’s been a kind of love hate relationship because of my personal history with them), but what threatens to make me a born again believer in the ink on paper business is some things I read on the web (and isn’t that ironic) on a site called the “Silicon Alley (not valley) Insider” (edited by Nicholas Carlson).

The main points are paraphrased and otherwise interpreted by me as follows:

Did the railroads turn themselves into airlines?

One newspaper investor identified ten good buys around the country and opined that newspapers should only use their internet sites as a link to national and world news and that they ought to charge for local news on the internet or not provide it on the electronic format at all. He also said that they definitely need to charge for their local news presentation in their regular paper format.

And it was also suggested that the newspaper industry knows the traditional printing business and would do better to stick with it and that it is not the newspapers’ job to figure out how to make money off of advertising on the internet.

It was suggested that hypothetically by calculating from cost figures supplied by the New York Times, that it could stop printing and have enough money to buy each of its readers that new fangled electronic reading device called a Kindle. But that was only hypothetical and to do so would be to lose its print ads (its main revenue) in the process.

I think the idea here is that railroads should stick to the railroad business and airlines to the airline business even though they both are in the transportation business.

And that brought up the contention I guess made long ago by Harvard professor Theodore Levitt that railroads thought they were in the railroad business, not the transportation business.

But as things have come to pass, railroads are much more profitable than airlines (I’ll buy the Reading Line and pass go and collect $200 please).

An inescapable fact in all of this though is that production costs for the traditional newspaper to include the printing presses, the newsprint, the ink, transportation, the labor, and so on can be prohibitive.

(Newspapers, especially the smaller ones, often make use of their presses for commerical printing jobs.) 

So anyway it was all food for thought, another perspective.

P.s.

It troubles me that San Francisco, the city of my birth, could lose its last remaining daily newspaper. My wife picked up a copy of it the other day – not much left ( I mean I liked what I read, but there was not much of it).

(Copyright 2009)


Make your bonus, just don’t use my money…

March 27, 2009

 Does anyone agree with me on this point?

I don’t care how much in bonus money anyone makes. It is not my business – except it becomes my business if that bonus comes directly and/or is made possible by taxpayer money that funds bailouts to the companies paying the bonuses.

In addition, so many top economists contend that private enterprises no matter how big they are need to be allowed to go bankrupt. And then finally the market can take over.

And from now on out we need to make sure than no business is so big that everyone is afraid to let it fail lest the whole world goes down with it.

And for the life of me I cannot figure out why the Obama administration is dancing to the tune of the investment bankers, except they bought him (and pardon the unintentional historical slavery overtones) and he has stayed bought.

Would John McCain have been brave enough and principled enough to simply say enough is enough and failing institutions must be allowed to fail in order to preserve the rules of capitalism and to demand that reforms be enacted to return banking and business back to a tough, but honest game?

And as one pundit said on my TV news, the difference between the way it has been on Wall Street and the way it needs to be from now on out is the difference between a barroom brawl where everything gets torn apart and a prize fight where there are rules (never mind that prize fights have often been fixed – that ruins the analogy).

(Copyright 2009)


Some inconvenient truths about truck driving…

March 26, 2009

(This is a slightly updated version of a previous blog.)

People out of jobs are going to truck driving school, an article in my local newspaper said. Been there done that. In fact, a newspaper article is what led me to my more than a decade odyssey out on the road.

Things are not as bright out there today – while there has been a big demand for truck drivers for years, with the downturn in the economy freight movement has fallen off sharply.

But I just wanted to get something in here for anyone who might be considering going the truck driving route.

Most of the entry level jobs for big truck driving are in what is called long haul. You need to realize that the rules of employment are different in that field than most others. The normal laws of pay and working conditions do not apply.

Typically, long haul drivers find themselves waiting a lot, far from home, baby sitting a truck, as I call it.  For the most part, as a long haul driver you will only be paid when your wheels are rolling. Long haul pays by the mile, not by the hour or fixed salary. Some companies do pay a little something for layover or even wait time (but usually not total wait time and such pay is usually not much, often not even minimum wage). And layovers can last for several days. I was once laid over for nearly a week, some 2,500 miles from home.

And if you don’t like wait time, I’d advise staying away from hauling refrigerated or temperature controlled freight (such as produce).  I once logged in 40 hours of wait time in one month, not counting sleeper birth or meal breaks. And I was not paid for any of it, as I recall (and if  I was it was only a few dollars).

I would discuss that issue upfront with a prospective employer (they may string you on, though).

Employers often quote cents per mile, but what they either lie about or do not tell you is that you may well not get in enough miles to make a living. It costs the employer very little to let you sit out there at a truck stop, because the employer does not have to pay you. It costs you a lot. When I began truck driving I found that a lot of drivers really were not making any money. They were simply drawing on their pay for subsistence and when it was time to get their paycheck they had little to nothing left. In fact, some of them owed the company.

Now this all sounds kind of negative. But long haul driving conditions, I believe, have improved somewhat since I got into it and got out of it.

(And for those of you who have not read my blog before, I drove truck for more than a decade. I worked in long haul for most of that time. My last job was what you might call short haul LTL (Less than a load) and paid well, but I came down with cancer, and am not able to work now.)

But I just wanted to point out some things folks not familiar with over-the-road trucking need to know. Another thing you might not have thought of is your schedule. No such thing. While some long haul drivers may have dedicated runs (going to the same place each time), most do not. In the course of a week, you will work around the clock; your hours will vary each day. That’s because pickups and deliveries are made at any hour of the day or night.

I won’t go over hours of service and log book rules in total detail, but basically under the current rules, you have 11 hours driving ahead of you before you are required to take a 10-hour break. There’s no limit to the time you can do non-driving work, but once you have reached 14 hours in one tour, you can no longer drive until you have that 10-hour break (remember, you could get to 14 hours with less than 11 hours driving, due to wait times and even loading and unloading, which you might be called upon to do or assist in, and don’t forget mechanical breakdowns and flat tires – they happen).

If you were to drive solo across the United States (and I have done that) you will find that your start and stop times roll around the clock. It would be like working at a factory but doing a different shift each day. Remember, somewhere in there you have to eat and let nature call and maybe even take a shower (maybe).

Under current rules, if you have 34 consecutive hours off, you start a week again with 70 hours available on your log book.

Some companies or dispatchers or your own greed or all three may goad you into cheating on your log book.  Or you might feel compelled to because you notice that the first to get his or her load delivered is often the first to get a reload. Do not do it! You, not anyone else, are liable if caught or anything goes wrong. The most likely scenario besides you falling asleep at the wheel and killing folks is that someone will run into you. If this happens and your log book is not up to date and/or legal, you may well get the blame under the law, no matter who was really at fault.

Then there is loading and unloading. I will say for most of time I did not touch freight. But if you do not touch the freight, you or someone (your employer) will have to pay someone to do it. It is not uncommon for drivers to end up loading and unloading on their own time and not get paid for it.

Finally, there is weather. If you will be driving over the mountains, particularly on the West Coast, you have to be prepared to handle snow chains. If you are not up to that, you have no business on the road, because you will be a danger to yourself and everyone else (there’s no shame in not being up to it, but there is in getting yourself out there and not being up to it).

I only touched the surface of this road. Most of what I wrote was negative. Ironically, I enjoyed the work immensely (although not every minute or day of it). A lot depends upon your employer and yourself and the type of freight you haul. And some feel a sense of independence out there. It certainly is not like most jobs. You are not highly supervised.

And in this time of high unemployment to have any job has become a status symbol. Just ask any unemployed investment banker (right after you ask him what the hell he did with that bonus check paid by your taxes).

Oh, and one more thing, long haul is not for anyone who wants a home life (that’s why I did not enjoy it all the time). I don’t care what employers promise you, from my experience, long haul drivers have no home life. I have heard many a long haul driver lament: “I didn’t get to see my kids grow up”.

Good luck!

(Copyright 2009)


USA’s main security threat may be Mexico and there are valid reasons to keep their trucks out…

March 25, 2009

While we are still fighting wars in the Middle East for somewhat nebulous reasons and no clear idea of our goals, the nation on our own southern border, Mexico, is in the midst of what might as well be called a civil war, with 7,000 deaths in the last 16 months, including high officials in its federal government, as well as town mayors and police chiefs, some of whom have sought political asylum in the U.S.

The Obama administration has announced a kind of token response on the border, but as I understand it, they are pulling immigration personnel from out of our interior to do so, conveniently letting the enforcement of the hiring of illegals slide as a sop to those who for some strange reason support the underground economy of illegal aliens, many of whom come from Spanish speaking nations to the south, most notably Mexico.

While some of the illegal migrants have gone back south because of the higher unemployment numbers in the USA, they face a problem in their homeland because their government is still corrupt after all these years, but it is trying to fight off drug lords, some of whom employ paramilitary against the Mexican soldiers and police.

Meanwhile, the violence is spilling across the border and is reaching into our northern cities, such as Chicago. Much of it involves illegals fighting over drug disputes, but sometimes hapless illegals, maybe not involved in the drug trade, get caught in the crossfire or become victims of kidnapings and ransom schemes, another popular line of work for criminals south of the border.

Mixed in with all this somehow is an ongoing dispute between Mexico and the United States over a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) program to allow a limited number of Mexican trucks to be able to cross the border and have a run of our country. Congress cancelled funding for the program recently, but the Obama administration has indicated it might resume the program in the future.

In retaliation, Mexico, one of our top trading partners, has applied tariffs on 90 U.S. products. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Mexico to smooth things over in the dispute and to promise the President Felipe Calderon administration there that the U.S. will help it in its fight against the drug cartels. And amidst all this, a Mexican defense official has warned the U.S. against any military incursions into his country (ala the Mexican-American War of the 1840s and the chase after Pancho Villa in the 1920s, I would suppose).

The truck program was cancelled in part supposedly over safety concerns, but probably also because the Teamster’s Union, a supporter of Democrats, was worried about the loss of American jobs.

Now before you go thinking I think this was a bad thing, think again. I was a trucker and as things stand I don’t think Mexican trucks should be allowed past our border. And I know something – not everything – about this subject, because as I said I was a trucker (and never a Teamster member) and furthermore I dealt with the border trucking scenario and know the landscape (my experience was at Nogales, Az. and Otay Mesa, Ca., and San Diego, Ca.).

Now first you need to know that our northern neighbor Canada runs its trucks throughout the U.S.

But the Canada/U.S. situation is nothing like what we face with Mexico.

A U.S. trucker can cross the border into Canada and go just about anywhere.

On the other hand, American trucks do not cross into Mexico and who would want to?

Canada is a civilized nation with the rule of law (probably more so than the USA, in some respects).

Mexico is highly corrupt (despite the efforts to clean things up by Calderon) with the bribes and intimidation as a standard operating procedure in business and law enforcement and everyday life there.

I once talked to a Mexican trucker and he told me that when he drove in his country there were no truck scales. But a policeman might stop a truck out on a lonely stretch of highway and decide supposedly by eyeballing a truck that it was overloaded and assess the fine and pocket it on the spot.

Who in their right mind would take their truck south of the border?

And working down on the border where my loads were transloaded into Mexican rigs, I got to see some of the wrecks they run up and down the highway. While not all USA trucks are up to par, many of the trucks the Mexicans use would not pass the same inspections USA trucks are given.

While they were running the pilot program allowing Mexican trucks in, I believe I saw some pretty questionable rigs running up and down our highways. I do not believe that these trucks were subjected to the same standards as USA trucks, probably due to political considerations.

Another problem is that while Canadian truckers speak English (and yes I know some of them speak French too), many of the Mexican truckers do not (they can’t even read our road signs).

(In the interests of fair play and full disclosure, I should note that some USA-licensed drivers, some of them from Eastern Europe, do not speak English. I actually watched one of these guys at a warehouse once and the freight receivers could not communicate with him. They had to make hand signals and lead him around and show him what to do with his paper work.)

And you have to understand that once you let an over-the-road truck over the border, it goes all over. It may deliver its original load into the country from Mexico at one place, but then haul other loads within the country between cities and only return to Mexico after hauling several loads.

If Mexico had actual law and order and was not corrupt, and if their truck safety standards and practices were better, it might well have a valid argument that its trucks should be allowed into our country and in turn we could also operate in Mexico.

It is unfortunate to have a dispute with Mexico because it is one of our top trading partners, but realities have to be accepted.

And back to the turmoil in Mexico. I don’t know why it has been downplayed. It threatens Mexico and it also threatens our own security.

Part of the problem is that the U.S. offers such a good market for the south-of-the-border drug cartels. Personal guns are illegal in Mexico, so guns from the U.S., to include high powered assault rifles and other powerful weapons, are basically traded from the north for the drugs from the south.

Combating the drug trade is a tough problem that we have not ever solved in the USA. I find calls to simply “legalize” illicit drugs to be dubious at best (and that was not some kind of marijuana pun – doobie is it?).

But meanwhile I don’t think we should tolerate cross border incursions, be they illegal aliens looking for work or engaged in the drug trade.

We need a military show of force at the border, as well as  a strong commitment of the various appropriate law enforcement agencies where needed to fight the drug cartels. And we should not let up on our enforcement of immigration laws at the workplace in the process.

We may well find that the biggest threat to our security is not in the rugged terrain of Afghanistan or the deserts and urban areas of Iraq but instead at our own southern doorstep.

In the long run we need to work hand in hand with the Calderon administration in Mexico, which from all reports is doing its best to fight both the drug cartels and to turn the tide on corruption that has existed so long in Mexico.

(Copyright 2009)