Saturday, March 17, 2012


Even though the General Motors bailout loans have supposedly been paid back (not by the company itself, but rather through proceeds from the November, 2010 IPO), the U.S. Treasury (we the taxpayers) still owns about 25% of that corporation. Last year PSA Peugeot Citroën's auto making division lost $123 million, so naturally GM just bought 7% of their stock for $400 million (the Peugeot family is still the largest stockholder) because - hey, we just don't have enough Peugeot mopeds here. GM thinks that everyone can save a bundle through platform sharing—think of the new Chrysler based Lancia Thema and Lancia Voyager.

While I'm on the subject of Chrysler—that now non-American company of which Fiat owns a majority interest—all those European Themas and Chrysler 300C sedans are built in Graz, Austria by Magna Steyr. And they are available there and in Australia with a Mercedes-Benz designed 3.0 L V6 diesel engine, which is not available here. The Chrysler 300s that we can get here—you know, "Imported from Detroit"—are made in their Brampton factory in Ontario, Canada, and even then some of the engines come from Mexico. The European Lancia and Chrysler Voyagers are also built in Ontario, Canada, and have a VM Motori of Italy double overhead cam common rail design diesel engine as standard. Tell me again how much of the Chrysler bailout is helping American workers.

No matter what you think of the bailout, in the final analysis it allowed those companies to dump billions of dollars of legally owed debt, renege on contracted labor obligations, cancelled pending lawsuits by car-accident victims and even removed legal responsibility in cases where the victims had actually won damages (Wall Street Journal report). Given all that, one of the most egregious affronts was the stripping of the property of legal bondholders (much of it held in retirement portfolios), which was then given to union-controlled trust funds without rhyme or reason—or perhaps it was their payoff for not fighting the contract cancellations. Another outrage was the illegal contract terminations and subsequent dropping of targeted dealerships, with GM and Chrysler claiming the right to confiscate the dealership customer lists and service records. Illegal? Some of those ex-dealers who had the temerity to sue individually or in small groups, have been winning in arbitration or court. A massive class-action suit is still winding its way through the system.

There are those in the know who believe that both companies—as well as the country as a whole—would have been better off if a reorganization bankruptcy had taken place through the normal channels. Chrysler would still be an American company (again) and much the same result could have been negotiated with either settlements or structured payments going to the thousands upon thousands of ordinary Americans who now have been left with nothing to show for their investments, years of hard work, or pain and suffering.

And the takeaway is that we the taxpayers (U.S. Treasury) still lost around $14 billion in the whole mess.

Oh well, maybe they'll rebadge the Chevy Volt and there'll be a nice Citroën Électricité coming soon to a showroom near you...or not so near you, if you live in one of those areas that lost the only dealership for miles around. Because—like everything else that's going on—the Volt is working out so well.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

The Last Trap

Updated 4/9/12

Neptunus Lex
Retired Naval Aviator Captain Carroll LeFon. From

Neptunus Lex, one of my favorite bloggers, has died doing what he loved best. A retired Naval Aviator, Captain Carroll "Lex" LeFon had commanded an F/A-18 squadron and had served as XO at TOPGUN. As a civilian he qualified on an Israeli F-21 Kfir and was flying opposing force missions at TOPGUN in Fallon, Nevada yesterday, when he crashed. The Best being trained by the Best-of-the-Best. I never met him, but it was my plan to buy him a Guinness the next time he traveled through Las Vegas. Nothing I say could ever say about him could be as eloquent as the heartfelt words of his fellow milbloggers. Just suffice it to say that he was greatly admired and greatly loved.

Go to his blog here and hit the tip jar (or glass in this case) to help out his family. And if you live in San Diego or plan to be there sometime, drop by the Shakespeare Pub and hoist a pint of Guinness in his memory.

Memorial Updates for Captain LeFon:

The bulk of memorial services—be they planned or impromptu, formal or informal—are over. Gatherings of two or more from San Diego (with his family) to Boston, from D.C. to Idaho, from the SF Bay area to Flordia, took place Friday and Saturday nights. Hundreds more of us stayed at home either alone with our thoughts or taking part in an unprecedented online wake/memorial service. It was two nights filled with love, praise, and tears. Plans for permanent remembrances were made, and a few surprises popped up. A small group remembering Neptunus Lex at a restaurant was surprised when another group stood to toast Capt. LeFon. During the online cyberspace memorial service a Las Vegas blogger discovered another blogger living just a few blocks away. At the appointed time hundreds of them all across the country lifted their glasses and toasted the Good Captain. For Strength.

The funeral services for Neptunus Lex were held at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego, on March 27 at 1 p.m. The military service ended with a section flyover by a F/A-18 Hornet and a F-21 Kfir.

The Neptunus Lex Honor Roll
(If I've missed any, please let me know.)
170 Notices and Tributes that have been made by:

The Lexicans
Steeljaw Scribe
CDR Salamander
The Woodshed
Bring the Heat, Bring the Stupid
Outside the Beltway
Navy DyberSpace Blog
Jonah Goldberg at The Corner
The Tailhook Association
Chicago Boyz
Susan Katz Keating
War News Updates
Lawyers, Gun$ and Money
PJ Tatler
Bookworm Room
blonde sagacity
The Kitchen Dispatch
Bob Owens
24 Hour Campfire
XHouse of Eratosthenes
Stanislaus GOP
Thoughts and Rantings
NorthEast – Tea Party Patriots!
Theo Spark
Castra Praetoria
Thunder Pig
The Thunder Run
Liberal Whoppers
Brain Shavings
365 Veterans
Aviation Forum
Morning in Arizona
Naval Open Source INTelligence
Op For
Among The Joshua Trees
From My Position...On The Way!
Da Goddess
Brown Hound
The Sniper
Carmichael's Position
Grim's Hall
Soldiers' Angels Germany
Aliens in This World
Aviation Week
Navy Times
Bouhammer's Military Blog
Homefront Six
The Sandgram
This Ain't Hell
Villainous Company
Eagle Speak
Not Exactly Rocket Science
Fuzzilicious Thinking
U.S. Navy Aircraft History
Little Drops...
Boudicca's Voice
Doc In The Box
Miserable Donuts
Ace of Spades
Information Dissemination
The Political Conundrum!
Truth, Lies and in Between
Cold Fury
On the North River
The Mellow Jihadi
Parrothead Jeff & Friends
No Runny Eggs
US Navy Jeep
The World According to Me
U.S. Fleet Forces Command Blog
Exile in Portales
Hog Day Afternoon
Noodling On It
Brain Shavings
Silicon Valley Redneck
Lignes de défense
Jeopardy in MD
The Free Republic
Old Retired Petty Officer
Home on the Range
Navy Cyberspace Blog
BaseOps Forums
Backcountry Pilot
The Best Defense
Bull USA
Just an Earth-Bound Misfit, I
little green footballs
Akron Forum
Horseman Zero
Adonai is Semper Fi
Network 54
India Times
My Blog
Ramblings from a Blue Dot
Bayou Renaissance Man
Assoluta Tranquillita
Liberty Republican Forum
Mudville Gazette
The Conservatory
Overseas Civilian Contractors
Air Pouge
Windows IT Pro
ARC Forums
Questions and Confirmations
Pilot Online
Sowards for Senate
Skippy Maximus
A Blog for Dallas Area Catholics
Pirate's Cove
The Hokey Pokey IS What It's All About
The Minuteman
A Girl and Her Gun
The View From Under The Desk
The Flight Deck
Free Falling
Maggie's Farm
Google Groups
USS Bennington - (PG4)
Smith & Wesson Forum
Random Acts of Patriotism
One step at a time
Tomcat Sunset Forum
Military Times
Bryan Strawser
Bloomberg Businessweek
America in Uniform
The Online Temple of Chris Parkes
Bad Ju Ju
Foreign Policy
Mongo Talk Blog!
Shots From The Hip
Danger Room (Wired)
Lahontan Valley News
Chant du Départ

The U.S. Naval Institute blog

From the SecNav

From the CEO, U.S. Naval Institute

From Airborne Tactical Advantage Company

A website for Neptunus Lex's friends and fans has been created:
   The Lexicans

The Neptunus Lex Group on Facebook now has 396 members.

Whisper's Open Thread on the Neptunus Lex website itself has, at this writing, collected 1,655 tributes, comments and condolences.