"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 12 May 1998. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Road Rage


[the 'c'mon Kenneth Starr, look at the facts...' marquis in front
of Silk Flowers]

Try as we might to hide it with

our school books, it's been hard

to ignore the collective boner

American investors have had over

Pfizer in the last six weeks.

Just when we thought things

couldn't get any harder, the

Daimler/Chrysler merger falls

into our laps. The US$36 billion

deal - the largest industrial

merger in history - is the

undisputed Long Dong Silver of

the stock-market sector.


Then again, calling it a

"merger" is an exercise in

abject optimism. Officially,

American autoworkers are hopeful

about the deal. But their faces

are red, and it's either a side

effect of Bob Dole's favorite

pep-pills or of forcible

globalization. Indeed, the

esteemed members of the UAW may

be pitching a tent in the near

future - not in their pants, but

down by the river. They're

taking what little pride they

can from the recent history of

Chrysler. Following their lead

in this waltz of the national

ego, American pundits are

suggesting this transaction is

something other than an outright

takeover. But any dumkopf

watching the press conferences

last week could see Daimler-Benz

officials straining patiently to

suffer the pretensions of

Chrysler flunkies. Daimler CEO

Juergen Schrempp sat

elbow-to-elbow with

what's-his-name from Chrysler,

but it was clear which side the

driver's wheel was on. Let's

just say Robert Eaton's got a

poison-pill clause in his

ownership stake.


[16 year old girl and her father leaving the Bad Religion show, Bottom of the Hill
at midnight sharp]

If you doubt the veracity of

this teutonic conspiracy,

consider this: While Daimler

stole all the media bandwidth

last Thursday, its

trans-Bavarian rivals at

Volkswagen quietly trailered

Rolls-Royce for a cool $705

million. Oddly enough, the only

other serious bidder was BMW

who, by the way, acquired Land

Rover a few years ago. (See a

few Rovers around the 'hood

lately? See a pattern developing

here?) Don't let's even get

started on Bertelsmann's $1.5

billion buyout of Random House,

making it the world's

third-largest media company and

the world's largest

English-language publisher. It

certainly looks like Twilight of

the North American Gods.


The state of German industry

proves nothing except that the

State itself is passé.

Since state-owned industry tends

to get bogged down with

unpleasant and inefficient

social agendas, industry-owned

industry is much more facile at

separating us not from our lives

but from our money. Call it

corporate Darwinism. Now if we

could just do something about

all those insidious Hogan's

Heroes reruns on Nick at Nite,

Wagner would surely smile down

on us from Valhalla.



Odder than Germany's industrial

perseverance, though, is the

continuing media vogue of

portraying its reunification

woes. Hardly a day goes by when

you don't hear some millennial

NPR melodrama about unemployment

in East Berlin or ethnic

abrasion in Erfurt. As it turns

out, this Sturm und Drang is

just a load of Prussian hooey.

So the St. Pauli Girl is flat in

Dresden, and Goethe just isn't

read anymore - it's hardly the

Weimar Republic revisited. Times

are gut. Sehr gut. Just so, the

German right wing is rising like

a phoenix, dateline some

Bavarian beer hall, and it's

every American correspondent's

wet dream. The Germans eat it up

too, the result of an

exquisitely refined sense of

self-loathing. The same day the

Daimler/Chrysler deal became

public, the AP wrote that "two

weeks after the far right's best

showing in a state election in

postwar Germany, federal

officials in Berlin reported

that far-right violence is on

the rise."


These days on the

Continent, anytime anybody so

much as leans on their right

cheek to fart, eyebrows go up

and the hair shirts come out.

Which is, of course, as it

should be. But let's be candid:

It's not the skinheads who just

finalized the world's largest

industrial monopoly since the

invention of the wheel.


No, there's nothing wrong with

the German Soul per se. Love of

uniforms and locked doors is

innocent in itself. The real

problem with Deutsche

acquisitiveness is that it will

ultimately leverage other

mergers in all sectors. The

Daimler/Chrysler deal actually

increased the value of Peugot,

Fiat, and Renault stocks. When

was the last time that happened?

Most important, there's

already talk about

Daimler/Chrysler finding an ally

(or an acquisition) among

Japanese automakers. Are we the

only ones getting a little

creeped out by this?


[Parkway Cinema : www.picturepubpizza.com]

With summer heating up, and the

stock market looking so

wunderbar, our mandate is clear:

Hike up those lederhosen and

pass the bratwurst. Pending

approval of board and

stockholders, the rat race will

relocate its official

headquarters to Munich, and will

henceforth be known as the

master race. And by the way: How

do you like the sound of

"information autobahn"?

courtesy of E. L. Skinner