Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Excessive Police Force By St. Louis Officers

Another video tape has emerged where police officers in St. Louis appear to be beating and kicking a suspect who is on the ground after a high speed chase. We have seen this activity many times before and rather than jumping to conclusions on either side about whether this is right or wrong, I think it's time to think about why it happens in the first place.

This is not caused by a situation of right, wrong or training, but a product of genetic evolution that most of us have forgotten about as we human beings have advanced over the centuries. Inside all of us are animal like instincts which are triggered during certain extreme events in our lives. Most folks don't want to think about this fact because we've all convinced ourselves that we have developed way past those basic instincts and while true, those instincts are still there in our brains and when something traumatic like a long police chase occurs, I believe these centuries old instincts kick in for some folks and they are not even aware of their actions until sometime later when their adrenaline levels return to normal.

This has to be the hardest thing for police trainers to teach new recruits during basic training. Why? Because no one really believes they are capable of such acts and most folks believe they can control their behavior all the time, even during extreme traumatic situations, like a long police chase. However, this basic instinct that is built into we human beings is very strong and it's similar to the instincts we see in animals that are very well behaved until they join up with a pack of other animals at which point their whole personality and actions will change.

The reason I believe these police actions are similar to this example is because every time I have witness this kind of abuse is when there are several officers against only one person that is trying to avoid capture. At the point of arrest, the adrenaline of the police officers and the suspect must be extremely high and I believe that adrenaline is what causes this temporary shut down of the brains right and wrong connections to the point that old basic survival instincts will kick in and a person isn't even aware of the what they are doing.

To be fair this same situation is happening in the person that is trying to escape police capture and that's why it can take many men to subdue a small person that is pumped up on this much adrenaline. This is why I believe most police departments need to place restrictions on high speed chases in their cities. They know that there is no way they can train this type of basic human response out of people and if police officers are placed into a long police chase where their adrenaline becomes too high, all their regular mental abilities of right, wrong and training will be turned off and a basic instinct of survival will kick in and control their actions.

If I'm right about this, it would only make sense that in long high speed police chases that officers not be allow to continue a pursuit for a long period of time. In a large city, there are enough officers that can continue a pursuit for a certain period of time and then be relieved by other officers. I've notice that in some of these high speed chases, it appears that some of the officers never seem to break off the pursuit, so at the point of capture there are dozens of police cars in pursuit of only on vehicle, with only one driver. This is also the time when I feel this out of control basic instinct situation is most likely to occur.

Media Wrong Again In Reporting NSA Domestic Spying

For weeks now the major television networks and most old line newspapers across the country have been reporting how the NSA domestic spying, conducted without a court order, by the Bush administration was going to be their undoing. Well, the latest polls are out and all of them agree that this issue is no where close to the top of the list of priorities with American voters. This should have been easy for the major news media to spot, but when it comes to what the American people think and want, they are way behind the eight ball.

The reason their gloom predictions have not carried weight with the American people is because the Bush administration isn't using this power for political advantage. However, if information comes to light that the administration has used the NSA to spy on political opponents, then George W. Bush will be toast and for all practical purposes be finished as President of the United States. The American people know the difference between a "commander-in-chief" that uses this power to protect the country, from one that uses his power to control or punish his political enemies. So far, there have been no reports of the administration spying on political opponents for advantage and I would be very surprised if anything close to this is ever proven.

While I don't always agree with the President on many of the issues he champions, I will say this about the man, I believe his number one goal is to protect the United States of America from terrorist and most of the American people think that too. That's why most people are giving him the benefit of the doubt when it comes to NSA spying on Americans talking to folks overseas.

Many on the far left were already prepared to hang the President out to dry for this NSA issue and other policies where they have never agreed with him from day one. These folks are just liberals that are against anything he tries to do and should be separated from the people that really have concerns about civil liberties. I worry about an over reaching government, too. Actually, most folks in the Republican party don't like government interference in our daily lives, but this current case of domestic spying doesn't fall into the same category as the government trying to figure out what you think or how you vote so they can punish or reward you. Terrorist are out to destroy our country and while there do need to be some safeguards in place to protect American's civil liberties, so far I don't think the Bush administration has cross the line, from all the stories I've read about this so far.

I think it would do the major media folks some good to get out of Washington and New York City from time to time and spend a few weeks in a small town in the central part of the country. If they did this, they would see that these folks are not stupid and uninformed, but very knowledgeable about issues both foreign and domestic. The big difference they would notice is that most folks in the heartland of the United States are fair people that want to trust folks until that trust is proven unjustified. In D.C., New York and Los Angeles everything is driven by ideology where anyone that is not for you, is against you. Most of the American people trust George W. Bush's integrity when it comes to protection the country, even many, like me, that don't agree with many of his far right conservative positions on social issues.

I have many friends that don't agree with me on politics, but they are still my friends and they have a right to their opinion, just like I do. It's only inside the "beltway" that people have got this attitude of "those who are not with me are against me". Most of the American people are not that narrow minded, thank goodness, and they are willing to give George W. Bush the benefit of the doubt when it comes to protecting their homes and families because he's proven that this issue is the most important thing in his administration.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Big Oil Controls Provide Record Profits

Here we go again with more bad public relations for the big oil companies. Exxon/Mobil just announced huge profits again at the very time millions of Americans are finding their electric and home heating bills almost doubling in price this winter over last. There's just no way around this kind of profit news not effecting the way the American public feel about oil companies in general and there will soon be a push in Congress to remove some of these excess profits from these large oil companies, just like there was in the late 1970's when a "windfall profits tax" was suggested and imposed by then President Jimmy Carter.

I've also noticed in my area that the price of gasoline is going up again, but I haven't heard of any natural disasters for the past few months, so what's going on? The last time prices went up this fast was when a hurricane knocked out a bunch of drilling platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, so what's the excuse this time? My guess is they will blame it on Iran and an unstable middle east.

I believe in capitalism and free markets, but I've said before and I'll say again that there is nothing competitive about the oil business. It's more like a cartel than a regular business that has to fight real competition. From time to time these cartels become so greedy that their little secret slips out, which is what's happening right now. Unfortunately, I don't see any political will to do anything about it in Washington D.C., so I guess we're just going to have to live with these higher prices a bit longer until some new leaders get elected to Congress and the White House.

Every excess dollar that is taken by these companies to make them even richer, is a dollar that is not spent on goods, services or entertainment in this country. As these extra dollars for energy keep adding up, all other businesses begin to suffer, which will lead to layoffs and some business failures. I'm convinced that countries and companies in the oil business cannot control themselves without someone looking over their shoulder with a big stick, so it's high time that the Congress pulls out that stick and starts demanding real answers into what's going on with the price of oil. I believe other countries will start to do the same thing, if the US Congress gets the ball rolling.

Before I was born, the Congress had to break up some oil companies that kept merging until there was no competition left. We're in a similar situation today, but worse because of OPEC and reduced domestic drilling. The government is not blameless here either because they have put so many environmental restrictions on companies that want to refine oil that they just stopped building them about 30 years ago.

Some bright young reporter was on the news the other night was talking about how the US economy was still humming right along even with record high gas prices. I'm not putting this reporter down, just saying they are not looking deeply enough into what's really going on in the economy. At that age I was very simplest, too and believed most of what was put out by large corporations and government officials. Time has taught be to listen very carefully and then check things out for myself, rather than just believing the government or company line.

Hopefully, after the November elections in Congress a large enough new group of representatives will be elected to write some reasonable legislation to apply to the oil industry. If they do this, there will be countess other countries that will follow suit and increase controls as well. For 99% of business, I believe the government should leave them alone and let the free market work it's magic. However, when there is no competition, you have to treat these companies like monopolies which must have government control to protect the public from pricing abuse.

President's Big 'State Of The Union' Night

Tomorrow is the big night that comes around once per year where the President of the United States will go before the American people and discuss what has been accomplished the past year and look forward to what he would like to see happen in the year to come. Most folks believe the "State of the Union" addresses that all president's have each year is really nothing more than a huge PR move, but I disagree with that generalization because there are usually some tidbits of information in each speech that will give the American people a better insight into what the President of the United States is thinking and the direction he wishes to move the country over the next twelve months.

Most pundits say that President Bush will focus on his strong points with the American people, such as his leadership in protecting America from another terrorist attack. While this might make sense, why would the President spend this time reinforcing a strength he already has? If I were one of his advisers, I would try and win new folks over to his agenda, rather than just talking about his present strengths. Even a President doesn't get many opportunities to have a nationwide audience on all major broadcast networks where he can pretty much say anything he wants to the American people. I wouldn't waste this chance on "preaching to the choir" about domestic security, but rather focus on some of the other problems in the country.

The President needs to focus on what he's doing personally to help the folks in Louisiana and Mississippi that are still hurting, months after Hurricane Katrina and also answer why he wants to cut back on the promised 30 billion dollars in aid that he once thought was the right amount to clean of and rebuild that area. I believe he's making a mistake trying to take government money away from people that have lost everything to this storm, but I'd like to hear his explanation of why this figure is now too much money to spend.

In Iraq, he needs to give a fair appraisal of what's going on there, without a bunch of hype. While I know he won't give a time table of when our troops will be withdrawn from Iraq, it's something entirely different to talk about administration successes and failures in that country. I think the President needs to be talking about Iraq all the time with progress reports of what has been accomplished and where we're going in that country. It's just not enough to say, "I'm your President and you should just trust me". The country is paying a tremendous price in lives and dollars fighting this battle and if President Bush was a CEO of a company, his board of directors would expect a progress report on his leadership and the American people should be treated no differently.

I'll be working Tuesday tonight, so I won't be able to watch the President's, State of the Union, address live, but it will be repeated several times on the three cable news networks through the early morning hours on Wednesday. I'll watch it during one of those repeats.

Most of you know that I've been disappointed in many of the decisions of the Bush administration, but President Bush is still our President and I do hope in my heart that he will do a better job this year than in 2005 leading the country. The biggest thing President Bush has going for him is his personality and ability to connect with the American people and I hope he comes out more often this year to explain why he is doing certain things and not just say "trust me" when huge issues are tackled by his administration.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Dangerous War Zone - Woodruff/Vogt Recovering

The good news is that ABC co-anchor Bob Woodruff and his camera man, Doug Vogt are improving from their injuries from an IED device in Iraq yesterday afternoon. The two were working on stories for "ABC World News Tonight", when they were injured in an explosion as they were changing vehicles. Both are now in route to Germany where more extensive treatment will be performed on these two brave journalist.

It's hard for me to image a more dangerous place on earth to be a reporter than outside the "green zone" in Iraq right now. Just image how US soldiers must feel each day when their job requires them to enter into areas where they have no idea what kind of danger is going to be present around the next corner? I don't normally watch "World News Tonight", but I did tune in on Sunday and it was good seeing Bob Woodruff's co-anchor, Elizabeth Vargas on the set, reporting the latest news about what happened and what they knew about Bob's condition and that of his camera man, Vogt.

I'm sure this latest attack by insurgents in Iraq isn't the kind of news that the Bush administration was hoping for leading up to the "President's State of the Union" address on Tuesday night, but look for them to somehow spin this terrible situation to their advantage over the next few days. I must admit I have a deep respect for folks in high profile positions, like Bob Woodruff, that could easily delegate such dangerous duties to someone else. However, they decide of their own free will to go into these dangerous areas and personally report the news so the rest of us that are safely sitting home on our couch are able to get a better understanding of how the war is going and what things might need to be changed for it to go better.

While I believe the Bush administration will try to spin this story to their advantage, I don't really think it will work because when someone of Woodruff's stature gets critically wounded, while in US military protection, it will only remind the folks back home in the United States, how much danger is facing our military soldiers on a daily basis and create more questions than answers of why the situation in Iraq has not improved more when it comes to fighting these insurgent forces.

I know it sounds cold, but everything in Washington D.C. is all about politics and how the American people view how well we are doing at moving that country forward to a democracy. Every time another American, whether famous reporter or not, is hurt or killed over there, it will create more of these questions of whether we are doing the right thing and while no one really wants to "cut and run" from Iraq, more people will be asking when we're going to get our troops out of there so they can return to their families back in the US.

The only thing left, in recent public opinion polls, that President Bush has going for him is the trust that the American people still place in him to keep the country safe from future terrorist attacks. If he somehow loses that support, he's going to lose just about everyone in the country. I'm sure his close advisers know this and are working overtime tonight trying to find a way to spin this latest attack against these ABC News employees to their advantage, if possible.

One thing you can credit the Bush administration for, is the high quality medical facilities that the military is offering to soldiers which was also available to Woodruff and his camera man, Vogt. From a story I watched on NBC News tonight, this air base in northern Iraq has some of the best surgeon's and equipment in the world to treat injuries and they have a 96% survivability rate of folks that arrive there alive. That's outstanding, considering how badly some of these soldiers and civilians are injured in these roadside attacks.

I'm sure we'll all hear more about the condition of these ABC news reporters tomorrow and I hope that news is of a very positive nature. However, tomorrow thousands of US military personnel will enter into these same areas and face a similar danger. It's important that we don't forget about them either and the sacrifice that each is making for their country.

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Senator Bill Frist Rethinks Terri Schiavo Law

In the first positive development of the past year, in the Republican party, Senate Majority Leader, Bill Frist said today that it was wrong for the Congress to get involved in the Terri Schiavo case, in Florida, this past Easter. To me, this government interference into the private decisions of a family dealing with the death of a loved one was the worst mistake made in my lifetime by the Republican party, but it's taken all this time for at least one prominent member of the party to finally admit their mistake.

The second biggest mistake was for members of Congress to write back their constituents who voiced outrage over this action with canned form letters, saying that when in doubt they were going to err on the side of life and in a round about way trying to make this a Democrat verses Republican issue. They were flat out wrong about that position and when I received my response letters to this effect back from my Senators, Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn, they just added to my outrage over how they could have made just a huge miscalculation of the views from most of their voters back home.

Until this happen, I was always a straight party Republican voter, but that's changed forever because I felt like my own Senators had turned their back on 80% of the constituents with this action and even when polls started coming out proving they had made a terrible mistake, no one ever apologized for their actions and most thought the rank and file out here would just forget this family intrusion within a few weeks. Well, they are wrong about that too. I haven't forgot and I suspect that millions of other Republicans haven't forgot, either.

I've said before that I won't be able to bring myself to vote for the Democratic party next time, so I'm just going to vote for any moderate candidate I can find, in any party, that didn't vote for this outrageous "Terri Schiavo Bill". If I can't find anyone, then I just won't vote for the first in a long, long time next November.

I'd just like to say that I appreciate Bill Frist going on television today and stating that the American people don't want the Congress and White House getting involved in these type of family matters. He's right and he knows that he made a mistake and in his own way he's admitting that mistake now. However, he's the only politician I've heard to date that has rethought their position on this matter and that's fine with me because at least I know where they stand on this issue and it's not with me or 80% of the voting public from either political party.

I still remember hearing far right folks like Limbaugh and Hannity trying to make it seem like only Democrats were opposing this action by the Congress and President. I took great offense to those comments at the time and I still refuse to listen to their programs anymore on radio or the Fox News Network. I remember at the time this whole situation was headline news, poll after poll told these politicians that vast majorities of their own party thought they were doing the wrong thing, but they just kept right on pushing this bad idea and criticizing most of us that thought what they were doing was wrong.

I'm not a politician, but I can figure out that no Congressman or Senator that wants to get reelected should be following the lead of Randall Terry and his travel group of protesters that go from state to state looking for something to protest. If the Republican party really looks inward at this situation, the real person to blame for it getting out of control is Tom DeLay. This whole Schiavo deal was just a distraction, created by DeLay, for the media to get the attention off himself because of legal issues. However, when everyone in the Republican party followed him they "Drank the Kool-Aid", too so they are no better than he was in this situation.

I don't know if I will ever be able to bring myself to vote for Kay Bailey Hutchison or John Cornyn again because of their actions in this matter and the terrible mail correspondence replies they sent back to angry voters about their part in this Terri Schiavo mess was just like pouring salt into an open wound for me. However, it would be nice if they somehow found the common decency to admit that went against the wishes of their home state and would try to use better judgment in family matters like this in the future.

Related: Right Wing Politics

Frist Rethinks Schiavo

Oprah Winfrey Decision On James Frey Lies

Oprah had a change of heart last week and decided that her original defense of author James Frey was not the right thing to do, even though she went on the "Larry King Live" show a couple of weeks ago supporting the writer of "A Million Little Pieces", even after there was proof offered that Mr. Frey made up stories in his book. I believe Oprah did the right thing when she reconsidered her previous support of this author and while the subject matter of his book might be valuable for folks that are trying to kick addiction, there is no excuse for lying to Oprah and millions of people around the world about his book.

This must have been a tough situation for Oprah, but in the end she did the right thing and I along with most of the world are proud of her. It's not a good feeling when a person finally figures out that they have been lied to and in addition to being very embarrassing, it's difficult to admit to being a human and susceptible to this type of deception. However, this is nothing new to most folks and unfortunately Oprah had to learn the hard way the same lesson most of the rest of us have learned at one time or another in our lives. People lie and people that want to make a bunch of money off a book, sometimes lie, big time. I was not moved by Mr. Frey's appearance on the "Oprah Winfrey Show" last week. Mr. Frey did look very upset, but I'm not sure he was upset because he felt guilty about what he had done or he felt bad that in addition to getting caught his, good buddy, Oprah was now turning on him, too.

I would prefer to give Mr. Frey the benefit of the doubt at this point because I'm not smart enough to know what's in another mans heart and mind when it comes to a disclosure like this one. I certainly know that Oprah was hurt, not from a financial or career prospective, but from one that hurts even worse and that is being lied to and let down by someone you trusted.

There's a saying in life that when something doesn't go right that you supported, own it and move on and I think that's exactly what Oprah did last week on her show. Just because something is the right thing to do, doesn't make it an easy thing. In fact, most of the time, the right thing to do is the hardest thing most of us will wrestle with in our lives.

James Frey now has a chance to learn from his mistakes and move on and make something good out of his life or he will completely self-destruct and drift into the land of people that could have made a difference in this world, but instead choose to give up and quit. The man does have a good knowledge of what it takes to write a book and I'm sure others will give him a chance, if his own publisher decides to not renew his contract. However, I would strongly encourage him to stick with fiction in the future because once someone makes a mistake like this one in non-fiction, the world will never forget his first mistake.

I wonder if Oprah talked to her good friend, Dr. Phil before she made her announcement last week? I think she did, because the words out of her mouth were the same type of good advice he gave her when they first met during her trial in Amarillo, Texas several years ago. It was good advice then and it's still the right advice today. There is nothing wrong with making mistakes, we all make them and when they do happen, the only right thing to do is to own those mistakes, take full responsibility and move on with your life. I believe that's exactly what Oprah did last week on her show and I'm looking forward to the rest of her career on television. I believe we'll continue to see the same Oprah on her daily TV show, but I do think she will do more checking of authors content before she adds her name to book recommendations in the future.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Inhaled Insulin Approved - Great News For Kids

I've been reading the past couple of days about the new insulin product which can be inhaled instead of injected. What great news this must be for people both young and old that suffer from diabetes. I know a few people with this disease and they are mostly young people that are either in grade or high school. I've watched these brave kids at family outings take out their injectors and give themselves a shot after picnic meals. I must admit I'm a wimp when it comes to needles and I'm amazed at how young kids are able to give themselves shots a few times a day, but most seem to be unaffected by this trauma to the body. I guess we all must get use to what we have to get use to in life, but it always seems sad that young kids are effected by one form of this disease more than any other group of people.

My cousin's son has the juvenile form of diabetes and he has been injecting himself for years after checking his blood sugar. I'm not a doctor, so it's hard for me to understand when he sometimes wakes up late in the night, even after hours of not consuming any liquid or food to find his blood sugar number sky high. I'm sure there is a reason for this, but I just don't understand how this can happen. About two years ago, he got a new device called an "insulin pump" that he wears on his belt that will give him a shot of insulin by just pushing a button on the device. I believe a small tube is inserted with a needle by he or his mother each morning and when the needle is removed, the small tube stays connected to his abdomen. This addition to his treatment was a good thing which allow him to take day long field trips to places he wouldn't go to before because of the need to self inject himself with insulin.

I plan on calling my cousin this weekend to see if he is a good candidate for this new "inhaled insulin" product. I believe the news said that both type one and type two diabetes can be treated with this new medicine delivery system. From my lay persons point of view, any medical advancement where a person doesn't have to sick themselves with a needle is progress in treating this terrible disease.

Like so many other terrible aliments that effect folks, I hope and pray that a cure will be found eventually for diabetes. I've mentioned before that my father died of pancreatic cancer about five years ago and the pancreas is where insulin is produced in healthy people. My hope is that when a cure for diabetes is found, some new treatment might be found for pancreatic cancer, as well.

One of my wife's uncles has the adult form of diabetes which was not controlled in his life for many years. Eventually, his kidneys failed and he had to go on dialysis to stay alive. He's a very lucky man because within a couple of years of being put on a kidney transplant list, he was accepted to receive a new kidney a few years ago and I'm please to say that he now takes his insulin shots several times per day, which is a good thing because the same thing that caused his original kidneys to fail will do the same thing to his new kidney if he doesn't take good care of himself. This new inhaled insulin might be a good thing for him as well.

I get angry sometimes about how much basic medical treatment costs these days and I do think there needs to be a better system in place to keep medical treatment from rising faster than the rate of inflation. However, when I hear about wonderful new medical treatments that are proven to work, like this new inhaled insulin product, it makes me happy that there are some really smart people out there in the pharmaceutical business doing the research necessary to help sick people live a more enjoyable life.

Hurricane Katrina Promises Broken By Bush Administration

There have been rumblings the past few days that the Bush administration believes that their original commitment of 30 billion dollars for Hurricane Katrina clean up and reconstruction is too expensive and they want to cut back on the promise they made to the people of Louisiana and Mississippi. I hope these reports are wrong because if anyone in this country still needs help, it's the people down there that lost everything during this storm and the flooding aftermath that occurred when city levy's fractured.

I guess it's just a matter of priorities for the Bush administration because the price tag for the war in Iraq is already over 300 billion dollars and the administration keeps returning to Congress requesting more money all the time. It doesn't seem right that they believe 300 billion dollars spent in Iraq is money well spent, but when it comes to tax paying citizens of our own country, they believe that 10% of that figure is too much money to spend for reconstruction efforts. Why do the Iraqi people deserve more money than Americans? Maybe the Bush administration believes that the money they are sending in Iraq will be important for decades to come or it could be that if their efforts are not successful in Iraq, the whole middle east situation could fall apart.

I've seen the government spend our money before on wars and foreign assistance, but refuse to help taxpayers in the United States when they really need help. However, this huge contrast between what the Bush administration is spending on Iraq versus Hurricane Katrina repair is wrong and their opinion that 30 billion dollars might be too much money to spend should be reconsidered.

Most of us have heard about the problems the citizens of Louisiana and Mississippi are having with their insurance companies not wanting to pay claims. Many insurance companies are claiming flood damage, which they are not required to cover, even though there is no homes left because the hurricane blew them away. Only after the storm did the floods come and wash away anything else that was left on the ground. I know this disaster is a financial hardship on insurance companies and I'm sure many would not be able to survive if they paid all the claims they should. However, this puts the residence down there in a terrible situation and now that the federal government is saying they want to cut back on the money they are spending, as well. This is what I call a "double whammy" and it's not morally right.

In New Orleans, the federal government has known for years that the levy system was a disaster waiting to happen, but didn't want to spend the money necessary to shore it up and prevent a catastrophe. Now they don't want to pay to clean of a mess they might have been able to prevent in the first place, if they had not of deferred money for levy upgrades to other projects, some of which were pure "pork" designed to get members of Congress reelected.

People in the United States that were not effected by this hurricane need to make it crystal clear that it's unacceptable for the government to turn it's back on Americans that are still suffering because of Hurricane Katrina. Whether we live in areas that are subject to tornadoes, earthquakes or some other form of natural disaster, we need to be ever mindful that, "there but for the grace of God go I", and when something terrible happens in our community sometime in the future, we would all hope and expect that the government would help us when our insurance companies start running for the hills when a huge disaster like this ones, hits a little too close to home, for the rest of us.

Poor Senator John Kerry - On Losing Side Again

I guess John Kerry has lost it because I heard yesterday that he was flying back to Washington to lead a, certain to fail, filibuster attempt against the confirmation of Judge Samuel Alito to the US Supreme Court. I believe Kerry was in Switzerland attending a conference when he made this decision. The only reason I can think of that he would fly all the way back to the United States to fight a losing battle in the US Senate is to pander to far left liberals that want to see this man defeated at all costs.

Just like my dislike for the far right in this country, folks on the far left are just as bad or maybe even worse when it comes to these Supreme Court nominations. I listened to much of the Judge Alito testimony on television and I don't think this man is a radical extremist, so the only reason the far left is against him is because he was President Bush's pick to sit on the high court. This is not a good reason to oppose someone and just like radical right Congressmen and Senators will be punished in the upcoming Congressional elections because of their pandering, the left is going to be hurt because they are fighting anything President Bush wants to do, even when there is no merit to their argument.

I sometimes wonder what happens to candidates when they lose to George W. Bush in a presidential election. At first I just thought it was Al Gore that turned out to kind of go off the deep end, but it now appears that John Kerry has found the same cliff and he's jumping, too. Like I've said many times before, the two major political parties in the United States are so beholding to their political extremes, they have forgot about the 75% or so of us in the middle that just want to see them do good work and quit fighting over fringe issues that are only important to a minority of Americans.

If John Kerry believes this latest step will help him get the Democratic nomination in 2008, I believe he has miscalculated his own party base and he has been influenced too much from the far left, who can't see straight because of their hatred of President Bush. While the President's job approval numbers are very low, most people don't hate the President, in fact they like him and hope he will do a better job in the future.

The biggest difference between 2004 and 2008 will be Hillary Clinton. She is going to change the dynamic of Democratic politics, just like her husband. Maybe Senator Kerry doesn't feel like he has a chance without far left liberal support next time, but I don't think he's going to get it in the long run because just like far right Republicans, Democratic liberals will be looking for a winner in 2008, not some Washington politician that will show up and fight a losing battle just because a few on the fringe of the party want him to.

Maybe Al Gore and John Kerry should go into business selling angry tee shirts against President Bush. This would be a way that all on the far left could work together to work off some of this hatred of the President and they might even do something that is terrible in their book; turn a profit!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Mexico Border Control - Mexican Army Crosses Into U.S.

I seem to be hearing more stories all the time about problems on the US and Mexico border. Recently, there have been accusations and pictures of people that appear to be members of the Mexican army, crossing the border and offering protection to drug traffickers. There are also reports that army officials are also helping Mexican citizens with security when they are entering the United States illegally.

This issue is becoming a major problem for the Bush administration because they appear to be turning a blind eye to these problems and in what I could only guess is an attempt to not anger the Mexican-American community which is the fastest growing block of voters in the country. Most legal Mexican citizens I've talked to here in the Texas don't favor illegal immigration any more than any other citizen of the United States.

The relationship between President Bush and Fox is a close one that goes back to the days when President Bush was the governor of Texas. I can understand why these two leaders could be close friends, but it's beginning to appear that the only person that is benefiting from this friendship is President Fox of Mexico. What exactly is President Bush getting out of this friendship?

For an administration that is obsessed with national security, their compete disregard of what's happening on the US/Mexico border is a bit hard to understand. Maybe they just view the whole problem as a no win situation, so they just don't do anything. However, this kind of approach isn't working and the fact that Mexico army troops are regularly crossing the US border to protect illegal activity is shocking to say the very least.

I'm trying to not be extreme about this situation, but something needs to be done on the border to keep troops in Mexico from violating the sovereignty of the United States of America. I don't believe these troops are following orders given from their government, but are selling their services to the highest bidder, which most of the time will be a drug cartel. This is a terrible situation and the administration has got to make a stand here for the good of the country.

Yesterday, in south Texas there was a terrible accident where a stolen pickup crashed into a giant vehicle transport truck. Six of the thirteen people that were in this truck were killed. Now comes news that this pickup may have been driven by a smuggler ferrying folks from Mexico into the United States, illegally.

Every year, hundreds of people are killed trying to cross the Mexico border, looking for a chance at a better life in the United States. Many of these human smugglers, which are referred to by some as "coyotes" are just as brutal as drug dealers and once they collect their money up front from people wanting to get into the United States, they really don't care if the people arrive at their destination dead or alive.

US citizens that live along the US/Mexico border have been complaining about this problem for years, but no one in Washington has started listening until recently. There are not enough border patrol agents on the US side of the border to make a big enough difference. While some folks are suggesting that we put military troops on the border, I would prefer that the INS increase border control agents first before a drastic step like putting troops down there is done. I'm not saying that eventually troops might not be required, but right now there is a lack of political will to deal with this issue and that's not a good situation to put the US military in.

The only way that the political will of the people will be heard in Washington D.C. is when folks from non border states start making this issue a priority with their Congressmen and Senators. The border state representatives won't act because they are afraid of a voter backlash from the Mexican-American community. While I believe they would pick up support if they approached this issue in the right way, I don't think they are willing to risk their reelection chances, even when the security of the United States is being threatened.

Related: Local Immigration Laws

Mexico Border Control

Daily Archives: | 02, 04, 07, 10, 13, 16, 19, 22, 25, 28

Thursday, January 26, 2006

People Are Falling For 'American Idol' Hype Again

Millions of Americans continue to fall for the hype that this being directed at them from the producers of "American Idol" and this successful PR machine has once again turned this show into the highest rated program on television. I do like the show, but the way we are tricked by some of their tactics is pretty silly, really.

Every year there is some new controversy about contestants either in trouble with the law or getting involved with one of the judges and now this year we've got contestants on the first show that have allegedly committed crimes. Plus, "Simon" has managed to anger folks in the gay and obese communities, too.

I don't think these kind of things are happening by accident. I think the producers of the show know exactly what they are doing and that is the old Hollywood thinking that, "the only bad publicity is no publicity" and they have been running this game plan, successfully, for several years.

While most people that try to manipulate bad publicity into their programming, fail. American Idol producers are masters at this and this year they are continuing their hype and it's working like a charm. What makes this easier for the producers of "Idol" is that there are so many unknown people involved in the show and if you just took a cross section of the American people and put them into a contest, you're going to automatically find folks that are either gay, over weight or have legal problems in their past or future.

Add, "Simon" to the mix and you have their formula for success. It's no wonder that Simon is paid more than Paula and Randy combined because he is the reason this show attracts 35 million viewers each week instead of 15 million. His rude and condescending comments are the reason why the show is a television blockbuster and most of the media hype that has been generated this year and in the past come from the mouth of Simon. I wonder if he gets a bonus from the producers if he is able to make, at least, one group of folks mad per show?

While all the television networks continue to criticize "American Idol" and these shady tactics, the folks at Fox have figured out what the other networks haven't yet and that's how to use negative media hype to promote a TV show into blockbuster ratings. Don't think for a minute that the other three broadcast networks are above using this same technique to promote their programming. They would do it in a minute if they could figure out exactly how it's done on "Idol".

Until that time, the other TV networks will just complain and talk about how bad American Idol is and this will help the show continue to grow. I think getting your competitors to criticize your programming is one of the best ways to promote it. Every time ABC, NBC or CBS put down Fox about American Idol, the ratings seem to go up and with each rating point worth millions of dollars to the show and network, I'm sure the folks at Fox hope their competitors continue to open their mouths in criticism, often.

Smart people will try to watch what's going on with this show and try and copy it for their own success. People have tried this over the past few years, but no one has been successful yet. However, it's just a matter of time before someone figures out this successful formula and turns it into a winner for their network, as well. Until then, I'll just sit back and watch the folks at American Idol and Fox television continue to manipulate us, all the way to the bank.

American Companies Doing Business In China

The past couple of days, Google, Inc. has been criticized because their new search portal in China sensors results that the Chinese government considers illegal speech. I've been reading the pros and cons of this debate the past couple of days and I wanted to share with you some of my opinions about this issue.

In the United States we value freedom of speech more than any other country in the world. That's probably because our founding fathers put freedom of speech as the very first amendment of our Constitution. Most free countries don't have such an amendment in their Constitution, even our good friend Great Britain doesn't constitutionally protect free speech and there is no guarantee of freedom of the press there either.

Google, Inc. is a for profit company which means they have to look for many different ways to grow their business in a worldwide market. I believe there was a bunch of deep soul searching in Mountain View, California before they decided to go forward with this Chinese product. However, in the finally analysis, I believe Google made the right decision to follow Chinese law and offer their services to that huge marketplace.

China is opening up all the time and most people don't realize the changes that are taking place there because they're not reported on that often in the US media. The only part of China that doesn't have elections is the national government part of the country, which is still stuck in the old ways of communism. At the local level elections are held all the time for leaders to represent the people. While most of us in the United States would like to see the entire government of China become a democracy, that's not our choice to make. It's the responsibility of the Chinese people to effect change within their own government.

I believe China started on the way to full national democracy when they started competing in worldwide markets by selling their goods and services around the world. Once that genie came out of the bottle, it's never going back in again, so it's just a matter of time before there is government change in China, but it will happen when their old government falls apart from within because it won't be able to keep up with the massive changes that are going to be headed their way over the next few years.

The worst thing the world could do is try to put China is some kind of box. If they do that, it will only strengthen the old hard liners and set back their internal revolution. Google isn't part of the problem, they are part of the solution because no matter how much you try to filter free information, it has a life of it's own and it will find a way through the best filters on earth.

Real change in the world today is made possible by the free exchange of information and with millions of pages of new information being added to the Internet on a daily basis, there is no way the Chinese government will be able to filter everything and before you know it they will give up because the job of controlling information doesn't work. They just haven't figured this out yet.

I wish all American companies would do business in China because that would speed up China's progress toward freedom. The more regular Chinese people associate with Americans and others from the free world, the harder it will be to keep that old communist control over their citizens. Let's face it, companies will never get in the door there if they don't at least appear to be following the party line. However, even with all the restrictions that the government will place on large companies like Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, these restrictions should not be a barrier to offering up American style business to the people of China.

Let's not look at this situation like ideologues, but view the big picture and how these business alliances will effect the people of China in the long run. Beating the Chinese government over the head with a stick isn't going to make them change. It will only make them more determined than ever to crack down on their people. Since we can't get our message in the front door in China, why not use a side entrance?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Moderate Leaders Needed To Solve Real Problems

It was sad today when the Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to recommend Judge Samuel Alito to the full senate as the next justice of the US Supreme Court. This man didn't seem like a radical to me and I'm no big fan of this White House. What happened is that Judge Alito got caught up in the abortion debate and both political parties are so polarized by political extremist over this issue that anyone looking in from the outside would think our great country is only about this one issue, abortion.

This is one of the reasons I now consider myself an independent because neither the Republican or Democratic party pay any attention to the folks that are in the middle politically in this country. They just pander to their base voters and then stop by and try to convince those of us in the middle, each election year, that they are more moderate than the person running against them from the other party.

I don't believe most people in America are extremist and those of us that are not have very little representation in Washington D.C., anymore. The powers that be on the extreme left and right are calling all the shots and the only reason why these extremist are able to hold such powerful positions in the government is because the majority of Americans that are moderates, don't get excited enough to vote. Extremist can't wait for election day and while they may not represent the majority of public opinion, they do make up the majority of voters in Congressional elections.

I believe moderates in the U.S. need a good leader to foster their viewpoints in the upcoming Congressional elections and in 2008 when we elect a new president. The media loves Senator John McCain and he might be the ticket to bring some kind of sanity back to Washington. The main problem John McCain or any other moderate politician will have is finding a way to get a majority of Americans to get off their butt and vote for them on election day. It's no wonder that leaders in both political parties don't pay much attention to polling data anymore, because the only poll they are interested in reading is the one that shows what the people that do vote think about the issues.

The very word, moderate, I must admit, isn't very exciting and that's a problem, too. People that are die hard conservatives or liberals will go to the roof tops and shout out their political beliefs to anyone that will listen. They are also more likely to open up their checkbooks and put their money where there mouth is when it comes to fighting for issues they care deeply about.

Moderates just want to mind their own business and if someone isn't bothering them, then whatever that person wants to do with their life is fine. I personally agree with that attitude, but I'll go back to what I said before, there are not enough moderate folks voting to make a political difference and someone needs to take the lead in rallying this silent majority to the polls.

I'm getting tired of listening to folks that don't like the situation right now in Washington D.C., complaining about all the problems that are going on there, when many of these people never take the time to vote or make a stand about issues they feel are important to themselves and the country. It's just as important for moderates to fight for their right to be left alone by the government or extremist groups as it is for the far right and left to fight for their positions.

Too many people have forgot that freedom isn't free. It comes with a price which is getting out of your comfortable surroundings and supporting candidates that reflects your point of view. It's not enough to just sit home and watch television coverage of these problems and just complain without at least trying to make a difference. The best way to be left alone is to support candidates that believe the same way you do. If you don't search out these candidates and support them with your contributions and votes, then they will lose to some extremist who will get elected and not represent the majority views of their constituents.

Finding a moderate in Congressional elections is kind of like finding a needle in a haystack, but when one is found, this person needs the support of folks in their district that are mainstream thinkers. If you're a moderate all you have to do is show up at the polls once every two years and cast your vote for moderate candidates. It only takes a few minutes and this one small step could set the country back on the moderate track it enjoyed for most of our nations history.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Watch Out Google - Don't Follow Yahoo/Microsoft

I just read a long article on the Information Week website. They were writing about how Google was in a bad position because they were not following the lead of Microsoft and Yahoo in displaying more conventional advertising, display and banner ads, on their search portal. I say hog wash to this and hopefully, Google management won't fall into this trap and follow folks that are not leaders in the industry anymore, but companies who don't like the Google business model and have the attitude if they can't beat them, just try and drag them down to their own level.

Ever since Google introduced the small, classified type advertising on their pages, all the other major players in this business thought they were nuts and just ignored this new competition. However, it wasn't long before all of them started following suit and offering the same type of ads because THEY WORK for the advertiser and the search engine. Now Madison Avenue is trying to convince Google and others that "image advertising" is the only way to go. I was in the advertising business once and the biggest complaint I received from advertisers was that there was no way to track the effectiveness of their dollars spent. Google solved this problem with their small ads that were easily tracked and in my view this is revolutionizing the advertising business and that's a good thing for the advertiser and the marketplace in general.

Image advertising or as the Madison Avenue folks call it, "branding", is a "pie in the sky" type of approach where they can make millions of dollars from companies without having to prove a benefit for the dollars spent. Anytime an advertiser says their revenue isn't going up after an expensive advertising campaign, their account executive will just change the subject to "branding" and talk about all the future customers they will get out of this wonderful new image their advertising agency has provided to them. Google is on the cutting edge here and they are going to be bombarded by this type of criticism from other media outlets who can't prove how effective their advertising is, so they will just attack the new kid on the block who has found a way to prove the most important thing in any kind of advertising and that is, "results".

Every business on this earth expects results when they run an advertising campaign and judging by the billions of dollars that are being spent with Google, there are REAL results that are being seen, or their money would have left this company a long time ago. What's really happening here is old line thinking that is being challenged by a new line company and basically the old guys don't have a leg to stand on when it comes to proving results to their advertisers. So, just like always, they are falling back on the old tired "branding" philosophy and hoping they can trick the new kid, "Google", into joining their club before they go out of business.

I think it's great and definitely the wave of the future for companies that provide advertising to somehow be able to justify the cost of the services they provide. Enough of this "pie in the sky" type offering which only makes the advertising companies wealthy at the expense of their advertisers. Google is definitely onto something here with their small advertisements and I hope they don't fall for this latest ploy of Madison Avenue that just wants to continue business as usual in the advertising business.

Daily Archives: | 02, 04, 07, 10, 13, 16, 19, 22, 25, 28

Monday, January 23, 2006

More 'Patriot Act' Problems Appear

Congress is once again waiting until the last possible minute to deal with the extension of the US "Patriot Act" which will expire on February 3rd if conference committee action is not completed. I have a feeling that this whole extension they agreed to last month will have to be extended again. There are strong feelings on both sides of the Patriot Act debate and I must admit I have strong issues with it as well. There is little doubt that the government needs more power than it had before 9/11 when it comes to surveillance of terrorist. The real issue is how much new power do they really need and what system needs to be put in place to allow a "check and balance" system to make sure these new powers are not abused in the future.

I believe the Patriot Act would have been approved, again by now if it were not for the attitude of the Bush administration in spying unilaterally without notify the court that was designed to monitor these activities. For some reason, the administration doesn't want to have their decisions, second guessed, by a court and they truly believe that they have the right to act unilaterally because the Constitution gives the president "commander-and-chief" duties during war time. While the administration believes they have this power, I have my doubts as to whether the Supreme Court is ultimately going to agree with their assessment and if this turns out to be the case, then rather than strengthening the office of President of the United States, the Bush administration will have weakened it for future presidents.

I'm not sure that the whole "Patriot Act" law shouldn't be scrapped and rewritten in a way that gives the administration more of the power that it needs to fight the war on terrorism and provide greater oversight into their actions at the same time. When this act was first passed by the Congress the country was still in shock after the 9/11 attacks and some provisions of this law would have never been included if our citizens were not so scared and paranoid about another attack coming again, soon. Now with the benefit of hindsight, many members of Congress and regular folks around the country are having second thoughts as to the scope and far reaching civil liberties questions that are endangered because of some of language in this law.

I think the Bush administration likes the law the way it is now, but there are many in the country that would like to see more safeguards put into the Patriot Act because while we might need these new provisions at this time, someday the US is going to have a president that is not going to use these provisions to protect the country from terrorism, but use this new power to spy on his political enemies or try to even old scores with rivals. This will happen eventually and there needs to be a system in place where future presidents can't abuse this power.

I've said before that President Bush does have good intentions when it comes to these powers and I don't think for a minute that he would try and gain politically from them. However, once the "Patriot Act" becomes permeate, there will be future president's that might not hold as high of a moral compass and could use these powers for political gain. We've seen president's like this before and they will come along again. We need to be prepared for this possibility in future years.

I don't think the Congress is going to throw out the old Patriot Act and start over again, but they should. Of course, this is an election year for Congress and nothing meaningful will happen legislatively unless they are forced to act. I predict the Patriot Act will become permeate eventually and I guess the country will just have to hold it's breath and hope a crooked president isn't elected in the near future.

Improving Coal Mine Safety In Congress

The West Virginia governor and members of Congress are pushing for new laws to create safer conditions for workers in that states coal mine industry. This comes on the heals of two separate tragedies that have claimed the lives of 14 miners over the past month.

This is where unions in the US use to make a bigger difference than they do today for their members. Thirty or forty years ago, when unions were strong and had a clear focus on worker safety issues, these kind of changes would have been made at the mine level without the Congress or governor having to get involved. Back then if a mine was unsafe, the union members would have just walked off the job until the mine owners corrected these problems. However, today we are living in an antiunion environment because of the actions of unions themselves. They drifted away from wage and safety concerns and headed full force into politics which devalued their effectiveness at keeping these mines safe for the workers.

With that said, something needs to be done to improve the safety of these coal mines and if nothing else positive comes from the deaths of these poor souls, maybe a safer working environment for their coworkers and friends will be the result of their sacrifice. Unfortunately, in the US someone has to die before real changes are made in working conditions.

I'm just an outsider looking in at this situation, but I think there needs to be some kind of safe area that is built into a mine where a miner wouldn't have to travel far, in any direction, to enter this safe area where there is fire fighting equipment and a good supply of fresh air to breath. There should be an easy way to seal off this area, of the mine, from any potential danger until rescue workers have time to reach trapped workers. I believe there is a system in place now that is similar to what I'm recommending, but from what I've heard there are not enough of these safe areas and the ones that are available only have about one hour of fresh air available for trapped miners. This is unacceptable because no real rescue mission could even get started, much less reach, trapped miners during such a short period of time.

The United States depends on the coal that is mined in this area more than most people realize for the production of electricity. Where I live, it's not uncommon to see several long coal trains heading down the railroad tracks each day, carrying this cheap energy source to electrical power plants nationwide. The American people and our members of Congress need to make sure that working conditions in these mines are made safer so more families don't have to suffer from these terrible tragedies again.

I look forward to reading what the professionals recommend over the next few months to improve coal mine safety and hopefully their recommendations will be listened to by mine owners and elected representative so miners and their families are better protected in the future.

In Texas We Got Some Rain

I've been complaining for months about the sever drought here in Texas, but late Friday night and Saturday we got some much need rainfall. It wasn't a down pour by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a slow rain and it lasted almost 24 hours. We also had cloudy conditions all day Saturday which reminded me of how the weather use to be here in January.

I don't think the amount of precipitation was nearly enough to end the drought, but it felt good seeing the rain falling again and Saturday morning, while I was laying in bed, I could hear the rain drops hitting the roof and the water from the gutter rushing down to the ground sure made for a restful sleep. The big news around here is still the grass fire danger and hardly a day goes by without the local television news covering a new fire which got out of control and destroyed another farm house that was in it's way.

I wrote a few weeks ago about how this drought would eventually effect our drinking water reservoirs here in Texas and this past weekend there were some stories in the Dallas newspaper about how water is already getting in short supply in their area. It's cool right now, but when the thermostat rises to 100+ in the next few months, water will be like "Gold" in this region if we don't get some meaningful rain before that time.

I wanted to write and say something about our weekend rain to let everyone know it's still possible for rain to fall here and to let you guys know that it was a wonderful sight to see and sound to hear hitting the roof last weekend. My wife said the cloudy weather made her feel kind of depressed, but it had the opposite effect on me, this time, because this was something we haven't seen in many months. We're back to clear sky's this Monday morning, but the wind isn't blowing outside which means the moisture we received over the weekend won't immediately evaporate like it did the last time we got a small shower a few weeks ago.

I'm still hoping and praying for more rain this week. Maybe someone upstairs is listen!

Kobe Bryant Scores 81 Against Toronto

In an unbelievable game, Sunday night, Kobe Bryant scored 81 points against Toronto. When I first saw this figure I thought it must be an NBA record, but it wasn't, Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 point in a game against the New York Knicks decades ago. I haven't heard much about Kobe Bryant since the rape charges against him were dismissed in Colorado a couple of year ago, but it was good to hear his name again today in regards to something other than sexual assault or adultery. Kobe had a great reputation as one of the "good guys" in the NBA until that slip up one night in Colorado.

What a wonderful basketball player, Bryant has become and I believe while he didn't break Chamberlain's record last night, there will be thousands of stories written about last nights game where he scored 81 points in a single game. Any man that can accomplish such a thing in the competitive world of professional basketball can be considered one of the greatest players ever, in my book.

Kobe Bryant proves one thing to me and that is that a person can make a mistake and if they work hard at correcting that mistake they can get a second chance at life. I never thought that Kobe should get any special privileges because of who he was and what he earned as an NBA player, when he was in legal trouble in Colorado. However, he shouldn't be treated any worse than anyone else either and with the passage of time, the young lady he got involved with that one night did have some issues with her life, as did he. However, it looks like this whole mess got worked out in a positive way for Kobe Bryant and I hope the same is true for the young woman in Colorado.

In some ways, the Kobe Bryant, Colorado situation, reminds me of myself because there is no way I could ever do anything wrong in my marriage and get away with it. The biggest enemy I would have, in a situation like this, would be my on conscience because even though the devil might get me into it, I would never feel right about myself after the fact. While Kobe didn't fall on his sword before this young woman accused him of a crime, I do feel like he would eventually have had a hard time living with himself in the long run.

At least Kobe's basketball play is at a peak right now and my guess is that's because his family life has returned to normal as well. In my view it's impossible to live a double life for long and eventually something will suffer the consequences of bad actions. Regular people as well as famous athletes are at their best when they are not only honest with themselves, but with the people that love and care about them.

Only Half Right - Seahawks Play In Superbowl

Ok, I went on record a couple of months ago and said that I thought it would be an Indianapolis and Seattle Superbowl this year. Well, I was wrong about the "Colts", but I'm happy that my whole prediction didn't go down the drain because the "Seahawks" have made it and after viewing some of the Pittsburgh game today, this should be one great Superbowl game. I just wish I was going to Vegas in a couple of weeks so I could put down some real money on this game.

The AFC teams have been so dominate the past few years, only a fool would bet against the Steelers. However, I'm that kind of person and if I were in Las Vegas and had enough money to make a serious bet, I'd put it on Seattle because I think they will end up the winner. Hey, I've at least got a 50/50 shot, right?

When I was young, back in the 1970's, the AFC teams could never seem to win the big Superbowl game, then came New England and Denver and they changed that pattern within a few short years. Now I think the whole conference thing is about to change again back in the direction of the NFC and teams like Seattle, Washington, Philadelphia and my favorite, Dallas are going to make that happen the next couple of years.

While my pick to win the Superbowl this year, Indianapolis Colts didn't make it to the big game, there's always next year and their chances just improved dramatically when Tony Dungy decided he wasn't going to retire after the suicide death of his son this year. He will be back in charge of the "Colts" in 2006 and I wouldn't want to bet against their team getting to the big game next year.

Also, with Bill Parcells signing a new deal with the Dallas Cowboys, look for them to be contenders next year, too. However, I'm getting ahead of myself because this years big Superbowl game hasn't been played yet and I don't want to take away from the all out excitement that is going on in Seattle and Pittsburgh tonight. There's nothing like those two weeks between the conference championship games and the Superbowl. It's hard to work or sleep during that time period for a real fan.

I predict a close game this year with the Seattle Seahawks as the ultimate winner of the Superbowl. However, if my predications are wrong, again, I'll be back to eat some more crow right here after the game.

I just hope this years Superbowl commercials are as good as usual. When my Dallas Cowboys are not in the big game, that's the part of the telecast I look most forward, too!

'Roe V. Wade' Decision Changed The Supreme Court Forever

In one hundred years or so when history is written about our time on this planet and country, the Supreme Court decision of Roe v Wade will still be a hot topic and I believe it will be determined that this single decision made by the US Supreme Court changed the United States forever. I don't think it's the actual case that will be remember, but how this one case changed the landscape of American politics for years. There are few things in life that can't be negotiated, but when it comes to the issue of abortion, there is no common ground and neither side will ever give an inch when it comes to their viewpoint.

The United States Constitution was written to enable it's citizens to control all aspects of government except those that are deemed not Constitutional. However, with the Supreme Court decision of Roe v Wade, the US Supreme Court set itself above the Constitution and legally elected members of Congress, the President and state legislatures and governors nationwide. This one decision has changed the United States for the worse since it was first made and nothing has been done to correct the problem since that time.

There are those that have somehow figured that the Constitution gave the right for any woman to have an abortion if she so decided, but no one really believes that the founding fathers intended the Supreme Court to make these kind of decisions. These cases should be left up to the US Congress and local state legislators and governors. In no way was a right to an abortion present in the Constitution, it was so declared by an activist court and now the whole court system is paying for this mistake. I don't oppose abortion, just the way it became law in this country.

Now, the US Supreme Court is moving to the right politically and new and potentially more damaging decisions will be made in the future and based on a few folks interpretation of the Constitution. When those on the political left start complaining and crying that this is unfair, they need to look in the mirror because it was leftist activist judges that got this whole ball rolling with Roe v Wade and now that the political pendulum is swinging the other direction, you're going to have to live through a bunch of high court decision that you never thought possible when everything was going your way.

Personally, I'd like to see the Supreme Court do what they were charged with when first established by our founding fathers and that's to only interpret the Constitution the way it was written and stop trying to effect social change via court decisions. However, I now believe we are all going to have to live with extreme right wing judgments on the high court, because the folks on the left abused their service in this same legal body. Hopefully, in my lifetime there will be some sanity and moderation that will return to the Supreme Court and if the country is lucky, future justices will learn from history before they start mandating their personal opinions from the bench.

The old saying is so true, especially in this situation that "things that go around, come around again" and the next decade or so is going to be pure hell on the far left because the Supreme Court is going to attempt to correct itself from their extreme decisions made in the past.

Now We Wait On NASA's 'New Horizons'

NASA's 700 million dollar mission, "New Horizons", has left the earth and is headed on it's ten year mission to the planet Pluto. Now all we have to do is wait and dream of what will be discovered once this deep space probe arrives at our solar systems outer most planet in the year 2015.

I'll be 58 years old when, New Horizons, reaches Pluto and hopefully my amazement and interest in space will be just as great at that time as it is today. Like millions of people worldwide, I love space exploration because it involves everything that we are and hope to be in the future. The more we learn about our planet neighbors, the more we learn about ourselves, our origins and future. I didn't know until today that some of the ashes of the late astronomer, Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto in 1930 were aboard this spacecraft. What a fitting tribute to this man and all his friends and family.

Around a year from now, the NASA probe, New Horizons, will reach our solar systems biggest planet, Jupiter, and use it's massive gravity to sling shot the probe to an even faster speed for the reminder of it's journey to Pluto. I haven't taken the time to compute the time it will take the data accumulated from Pluto and it's moon Charon to be received back on earth after transmission, but it's got to be hours, even traveling at the speed of light, 186,000 miles per second.

When it comes to space exploration, I'm still like a little boy looking into the night time sky wondering what's really out there thousands of light years away from earth. I'll never know the answer to this question in my lifetime, but someday another little boy will look into the sky and say there are other living beings on a planet circling that distant star right there.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Massive Ford Layoffs Loom As Auto Sales Drop

Word has slowly been leaking out of Ford Motor Company that this will be the week the company announces the number of plant closing and layoffs they talked about late last year. Now that January 2006 has finally arrived, I'm sure hundreds of thousands of Ford workers have been on pins and needles this weekend waiting for the announcement which could come as early as tomorrow.

I feel so bad for these families that have devoted their entire lives to the Ford Motor Company and now through no fault of their own, their jobs are going to be eliminated, probably for good. I know some retired UAW workers here in Texas and to a person these are good people that did their best for the companies they worked for and now even they are concerned because if this latest round of plant closings and layoffs don't get the job done, they are rightfully concerned that Ford will come after their pensions, next. There is so much that is wrong with what's going on with big business these days, I don't have enough web space to document it. In some ways I think the whole country has become so jaded that most folks don't care about what's happening to other people as long as big business and government personally leave them alone.

There was a time, not too long ago when the American people did care what happened to their fellow man. People would actually put their jobs on the line in an effort to help a total stranger have better job security. While it could be argued that this was a foolish thing to do, it certainly was a heck of a lot more moral than what's happening right now.

I call it turning a blind eye to other folks problems. It's kind of like a "bunker mentality" where as long as something isn't effective you personally, you look the other way and try to think of something else to get your mind off of the bad things happening to others. Considering the way some people treat their fellow man, it's perfectly logical from a self preservation standpoint that some people would just check out of the compassion department and move to the every man for himself type of thinking.

I'm going to say a prayer tonight for the thousands of Ford employees that will be getting some bad news tomorrow. While they need a lot more than prayers, it's all I can offer them. I've had to start complete over before in my life too and it's not a fun process, but it can be done and eventually we become stronger people having gone through this change process. However, there is nothing fun about being told, thanks for a job well done, but we don't need you anymore. This will take some Ford employees, years to overcome and some will never reach that point and eventually will die bitter people because they were punished for deeds they had no control over.

Related: Goodbye Ford Taurus, Pain At Ford, Japanese Eye GM, US Automobile Business

Massive Ford Layoffs

John McCain Wants Nuclear Power Revival

Senator John McCain of Arizona said Sunday that he believes the United States should start investing in nuclear power once again because the country can't afford to be dependent on OPEC countries in the middle east and leftist leaning countries in Central American like Venezuela who could wreck the US economy if they decided to reduce their production at a critical time.

Senator McCain has the right idea, but he's going to have a hard time convincing folks that have been afraid of nuclear technology since the "Three Mile Island" disaster back in the 1970's. It wasn't the actual event that occurred back then that broke the public trust, but the lies and cover-ups that kept most of the people in that area, in the dark much longer than should have happened. People have a natural mistrust of energy companies and the federal government and when you put the two together, you're going to have one heck of a selling job to do to make any progress at moving the United States back into using nuclear power for the production of electrical energy.

I believe eventually the US will have no choice but to revisit this issue and start building nuclear power plants again. Our need for cheap energy sources are critical to the nations economy and national security. There is another issue that Senator McCain needs to address before he starts recommending nuclear power plant construction in this country, again. Many of the problems the United States has will fossil fuels is a lack of sufficient refining capacity for the oil we do import and produce everyday.

How about cutting some of the government red tape in the Congress so more oil refineries can be built before we start spending billions of extra dollars on nuclear power plants that will take decades to construct and get online. Also, these new nuclear power plants would become instant new targets of terrorist that want to do our nation harm. While attacking a new oil refinery could likely be a target, a brand new nuclear power plant that took the country 10 years to complete would be one of the biggest targets in the country.

I think we need to look at all areas of energy production, nuclear, solar and fossil fuels and find new and better ways to get these products refined and at the doorstep of the consumers at a reasonable price. It's pretty easy for me to see that Senator McCain is going to be running for president next time, because only a candidate for the nations highest office would be making comments like these at this point in time. The senator would gain a lot more public trust and support if he would try and fix the problems that are already facing the country because of legislation that has been passed by the Congress of which he is a member, rather than coming up with bold new ideas that won't even be available for at least 10 years.

Another problem I have with building new nuclear power plants is the way the US government doesn't seem to be prepared to deal with disasters. Just look at the mess after last years hurricanes. How about the government learn how to deal with these kinds of problems before they start building new plants that could leave vast areas of the United States uninhabitable for thousands of years if a mistake is made or terrorist successfully attack one of these facilities.

We need to get the present government fixed before we start new projects. There are things that can be done today that will put extra energy back into the US pipeline within the next few years, not decades. Why not attack the easy problems first before we jump headlong back into nuclear power?

Karl Rove Returns To Run GOP Fall Campaign

This weekend, the White House chief political consultant has reappeared on the political scene to debut the campaign strategy of the Republican party in this years Congressional elections. Karl Rove hasn't been seen much since he and Scooter Libby ran into trouble with the special prosecutor investing who leaked the name of CIA agent Valerie Plame to the news media. While Libby was indicted by a federal grand jury, Rove has yet to be charged with any crime, but is still under investigation.

According to Rove, the Republicans are going to ignore the current problems with some of the Congressional Republican leadership and instead, focus on the parties commitment to fighting the war on terrorism and a strong national defense. This makes perfect sense to me, because there are not very many other issues the Republican party could feature where the American people would give them another chance at governing the Congress.

Congressional Republicans are in bad shape with the American voting public and unless something drastic happens between now and next November, they are going to be thrown out of power in the US House of Representatives and maybe the US Senate, too. People are fed up with the way they have ignored public opinion and have personally enriched themselves while at the same time let the federal budget deficit grow to an unbelievable level. The Republican party use to stand for smaller government, but since they have taken over the legislative and executive branches, they have spent money like drunken sailors on shore leave.

Karl Rove may be the best political consultant in the country, but I don't think he is a miracle worker. There is only so much spin you can put into a political campaign and to keep Republican control of Congress after this next election, he would have to spin the problems of the Republican Congress faster than an F-5 tornado to pull off a victory. It's not just the way the Republican members of Congress have spent money that's a problem, they have fracture the entire party into little pieces because of their blind loyalty to social conservatives.

Social conservatives are the only portions of the party that regularly have their voice heard in Washington. Fiscal conservatives gave up on this Congress and administration a long time ago, along with folks like myself that believe the Republicans should fight for smaller government and stay out of our personal business.

Now when I listen to President Bush he talks like he doesn't have to obey the law when the country is at war. I don't know why he feels this way, but he needs to reevaluate his position on these matters because the last two years of his presidency could prove to be very difficult if the Democrats regain control of Congress and start full government wide investigations into some of these gray areas which may or may not be legal.

Most experts say that the war on terrorism could last decades. Following President Bush's line of reasoning does that mean that future president's which could be Democrats don't have to follow the law, either? For some reason the president isn't thinking this whole situation out, just acting on impulse without a vision of what might happen in the future.

I'm certain of one thing and that is, Karl Rove, will be the best political strategist in the history of the United States of America if he can spin the Republican members of Congress to an electoral victory this November. In my lifetime I've never seen so many problems happen to a political party in such a short period of time.

New George Clooney Fail-Safe Movie

I was channel surfing yesterday afternoon because nothing very interesting was on television to watch when I came across an old movie I haven't seen for years. Fail-Safe was produced in 1964 and starred Henry Fonda and Walter Mattahu and is based on a fictitious story about Air Force planes that are mistakenly given orders to drop nuclear weapons on Moscow. This movie was made during the cold war and it proves just how paranoid some folks were during that time about freedom, communism and nuclear war.

A few years ago, George Clooney produced a remake of this classic movie which was featured as a Sunday night movie of the week for television. Clooney also did a wonderful job acting and producing that remake of this great movie. It was difficult to take my eyes off the screen while watching this movie again today. The last time I viewed it, the cold war was still going on and my views about the world, war and peace and nuclear weapons have changed so much since that time. I admit that I enjoyed this movie much more today than when I first saw it during the cold war.

Today, the biggest concern most people have about nuclear weapons is that they could fall into the hands of terrorist or rouge states that will use them without the fear of mutual assured destruction, which was mainstream thinking back during the cold war. Today, terrorist don't fear mutual assured destruction like the United States and Soviet Union did, which makes the possibility of them using these weapons of mass destruction much more likely than not. That's a very scary proposition.

When any group of people become so fanatical that they believe the world would be better destroyed than for them to lose the war, then the whole world has plenty to worry about, indeed. I believe it's more important today for the governments of the free world to remove these terrible weapons from the hands of terrorist than it was to get them out of the hands of the old Soviet Union.

If you have never seen this movie classic, "Fail-Safe", because you're too young, try and find it at a video store somewhere or check your cable listings to see when it will be shown again. It's in black and white and there are no real special effects to speak of, but the dialog and the acting might give you some idea of what it was like to live through the cold war. No matter what your age might be, I'm sure you've heard of Larry Hagman, who plays the president's translator in this original movie. I'm not sure of his age, but I would guess he was in his late 20's when he starred in this movie.

So much has changed since 1964 when "Fail-Safe" was made and shown in theaters. Some of these changes are good, like the demise of the Soviet Union, but other things, like the rise of radical terrorism, are not good. The world remains a very unsafe place whether the enemy comes from Russia or radical terrorist in the middle east.

President Gerald Ford Illness - Pneumonia

Former President Gerald Ford is still recovering in a California hospital from pneumonia. Doctors at the Eisenhower Medical Center say the president's condition is improving each day. I've been thinking about President Ford today and remembering back to when I first heard his name in politics.

In some ways, President Ford would have never been a world leader if it were not for the criminal activities of former Vice-President Spiro Agnew and former President Richard Nixon. So many unremarkable people have been pushed into prominent leadership positions because of the wrong doing of others. Just look at what happened to Dennis Hassert after Newt Gingrich got into trouble as Speaker of the US House of Representatives.

What I remember the most about the presidency of Gerald Ford is his constant mishaps with stairs. He seemed to always be slipping on them and a few times he slipped down the exit stairs of Air Force One. There were no cable news networks back when he was President of the United States, so those classic, slip and fall, scenes were not repeated over and over again for days. Also, late night comedians were a little more respectful back then than they are today.

All hope that history would remember President Ford fondly ended the day he pardoned President Nixon for wrong doing during the "Watergate" fiasco. There is no doubt that his decision to pardon Nixon, did benefit the country by allowing everyone to start focusing on the future, again. However, that decision pretty much ruined any chance for President Ford to get important legislation through Congress or get elected to the office of president.

I would call President Ford a good "transition" person that helped move the country from one bad administration to the next and folks that have to play this role never get the full credit they deserve. When Gerald Ford served in the White House, the country was still very angry at President Nixon and how he misused the trust the American people placed in him, twice as their president. Also, the Nixon administration forever changed the way the America people look at and trust the President of the United States.

President Ford is a fine and decent man and I hope he recovers soon and is able to go home and be with his family.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Jill Carroll Safety Doesn't Look Good

Time is definitely not on the side of Jill Carroll, the young reporter for the Christian Science Monitor, that was kidnapped in Iraq. There are few places on earth more dangerous than Iraq right now and if this poor girl does somehow manage to get home alive, that would be wonderful news for everyone. However, the track record of these terrorist letting people go once captured isn't good and more than likely they have already killed this young woman even while they are demanding that women prisoners in Iraq be released from prison.

People that commit these kinds of acts are nothing more than killers that try to make other people think they are some kind of revolutionary fighter. Everyone needs to make sure and separate these kinds of people from others that are fighting within the new Iraqi government for their opinions and viewpoints. While the family of Ms. Carroll must maintain hope for the sake of their daughter, the government of the United States and Iraq have no choice but to remain firm in their stand that they don't negotiate with hostage takers.

It's bad enough already when we refuse to negotiate with terrorist. However, if the government somehow decided on a case by case bases to give these kidnappers what they want, then it would be open season on everyone in Iraq and no one would ever be safe in the future. No one should be forced to negotiate with the barrel of a gun at their head and unfortunately many will die because of this stance, but many more would die, in the future, if the government gave into the demands of these murders.

We have all seen first hand over the past couple of years how barbaric these terrorist can be when they take a person hostage and unfortunately people that are kidnapped by these thugs don't have very good odds of getting out of their situation alive. There is no guarantee that these terrorist didn't kill Jill a few minutes after they made her plead for her life on that terrible video tape that keeps getting repeated on television day after day.

I hope Ms. Carroll does beat those odds and gets out of this alive so she can rejoin her family. My heart hurts for all the families that have had similar situations occur in Iraq over the past few years. Just remember that it's not the fault of the United States that these terrorist kidnap westerners. To these terrorist, it's just another weapon of war they feel comfortable using because they place such little value on human life.

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Friday, January 20, 2006

Wall Street Red As Tech Stocks Fall

As the week drew to a close, all major entices on Wall Street were in the red as investors worried about future profits of tech companies. This is just the latest example of how easy it is for the average investor to get in way over their heads when it comes to investing in the stock market. Just a couple of weeks ago, there were "blue sky" announcements from anyone with a microphone predicting wonderful things for the stock market this year and no doubt, once again, millions of folks rushed to their brokers office and said, "get me into this market before it's too late".

Big mistake and it's one that some people have to make many times before they are finally burned enough to say enough is enough for me, I'm not going to be in this market any more or I need some professional help from a market expert. You guys know my opinion on this subject because I've written about it several times before. I believe the economy is in bad shape and the only thing keeping retail spending up is the easy availability of credit via credit cards and second home mortgages. This gives a fake boost to the economy and it will have to come to an end someday and there are going to be billions of dollars lost by small investors when everything finally comes apart.

I believe the stock market is a wonderful investment if you've got 20-25 years to wait while a well balanced mutual fund with hundreds of companies works to your benefit with time and compounding. The problem is that millions of people are still in the stock market looking for a quick buck and worst of all using margin accounts because they don't have enough of their own cash to invest. Margin accounts should be made illegal in my opinion. Only an educated professional would even have a chance at success trying to time the stock market. Ego makes some folks think they are smarter than everyone else and maybe they can beat the market for a short period of time, but they will ultimately fail if they are trying to make quick trades over a short period of time.

Now that the stock market has given back all the gains of the year in one terrible session, look for the bulls to be on television tomorrow talking about what a wonder buying opportunity this is and the bears will be back preaching their gloom and doom to the same audience. The best thing to do is not listen to either one of these, so called, group of experts and only invest in the stock market if you have 20 years before you need to make any kind of withdrawal. This has been the only proven way for people to not end up in the poor house thinking they are smarter than everyone else.

Listening to these Wall Street experts on television is the same as listening to politicians from different parties. Each person makes a good case for what they believe, but it's just speculation because no one yet has been able to time the stock market successful for very long and while their education might seem impressive, you need to ask yourself, if they are so smart, why are they sharing this information for free with millions of people on television? Could it be that they have a vested interest in the stocks they are trying to get you to buy? Give it some thought.
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