Tuesday, February 28, 2006

2004 John Kerry 'Flip Flop' Issue Effects President Bush

I just read a story that said at least 1300 Iraqi's have been killing within the past few days, even with a curfew imposed to stop most of these ethnic type of murders. Most news media have been reporting much smaller number of folks killed, most in the 300 range, so I'm wondering if these huge numbers are correct or just inflated by those that want to make the "War in Iraq" death toll look worse? Things already look pretty bad with American soldiers dying every single day and it appears that no matter how hard the Bush administration attempts to put a positive spin this story, there is a civil war going on in Iraq between different religious groups.

I sometimes wonder what we have gotten ourselves into with this whole invasion of Iraq. I initially supported President Bush, but I'm starting to have serious doubts as to how much leaders in this administration really thought the whole aftermath of the this war situation out. It doesn't appear they believed there would be a problem with the Iraqi people, rather they only considered the possibility that, the US, would be seen as liberators and welcomed with open arms by most citizens of Iraq. This is exactly what happened the first few months after the war was completely, but our troops are still in that country and to most folks in Iraq, I think, they wish we would have left their country a long time ago.

I remember a few days before the War in Iraq started. US intelligence thought on several different occasions they knew where Saddam Hussein was located, so the military sent in smart bombs and destroyed the homes of several different people. Saddam wasn't there, but the families that occupied those homes were all killed because US intelligence believed, the now deposed Iraqi leader, might be hold up in one of those houses. With hind sight we now know that our US intelligence was not what it was crack up to be at the time and while it's easy to just throw these poor families into the mix of casualties of war, I thought it was worth mentioning that sometimes, bad intelligence kills innocent people and maybe I was the only person in the US at the time that felt badly that our military was taking pot shots at families in the mistaken belief they were going to save American lives by taking out Saddam and winning the war before it ever got started.

I know war is a messy business and innocent people are always going to get killed in military conflicts. However, I feel terrible when they are killed, but for no other reason than bad intelligence. I'm not blaming this whole situation on the US intelligence community, either. Many intelligence experts were trying to tell the Bush administration they had doubts about some of the raw intelligence before going into this war, but the top folks in the White House and Pentagon wanted this war and when anyone what's something bad enough, they seem to find a way to view their justifications in a different way than someone that is just looking at the facts.

In the 2004 President race, the Bush administration won that contest in part because they were able to convince the American people that John Kerry, flip flopped, on the important issue of the "War in Iraq". In fact, I remember watching some of the Republican National Convention that year and hundreds if not thousands of folks carried in "flip flop" shoes to help the President make his point. While not having firm convictions is a problem for politicians, sticking with bad ones is even worse and to more and more Americans, this whole War in Iraq was not thought out well enough. While there is no way they Bush administration will ever admit they made a mistake in their decision to go to war with that country, history and historians might conclude that the right decision should have been to "flip flop" and get our troops out of that country earlier than the Bush administration, desired.

21% UAE Approval From The American People

In a new public opinion poll only 21% of the respondents approve of the Bush administrations plan to sell some US sea ports to the UAE. The way I view this poll is that President Bush's hard core base of support is now at only 21%, which should qualify him for "lame duck" status by any political measure.

The next two weeks, look for additional key Republicans, that must face the voters in November, to continue to distance themselves from the President on many major issues, including the War in Iraq and other national security concerns like the UAE ports deal. I don't believe this late move, by Congressional Republicans, will help them much with the voters, but they have no choice, but to stand up to President Bush because their own political survival depends upon it.

George W. Bush and his father both seem to lose touch with the voters at some point in their political careers. I'm really not sure what happens to them after they have served for certain period of time, but something does because they lose touch with the American people and start doing things that are politically unpopular or they start saying things that are taken in a condescending way.

President Bush is my neighbor and I had high hopes for his Presidency when he was first elected in 2000. He made me proud, to be an American, when he fought back against the terrorist that attacked the United States on 9/11. To me, his presidential defining moment was a few days after 9/11, when he stood in the ruins of the "World Trade Center", with that New York firefighter and told the terrorist in Afghanistan, that the American people were going to bring them to justice.

I enjoy watching political talks shows like, "Hardball" with Chris Matthews. I understand that Chris is a Democrat, but the daily Washington insiders that appear on that show and other programs, causes me to wonder why President Bush doesn't listen to what the American people are saying about his stand on the issues. I still believe the major problem with Bush (43) is that, above everything else, he is a social conservative ideologue and once any man crosses over from mainstream thinking to only following ideology, there will eventually be problems relating to mainstream Americans.

I feel no great pleasure in seeing President Bush's approval numbers drop to such a low level, but we as a nation are now, at the point, where we must first think about the welfare of our country and not the public approval figures of our president. I don't think President Bush is going to change in the next three years because he has "dug in his heels" and I'm not sure he is even listening to his close friend and advisor Karl Rove anymore. No one can be sure how history will remember President George W. Bush, but at this point in time, it doesn't look good.

US Border Security Is Key To GOP Victory

If President Bush wants to help fellow Republicans in the upcoming November elections he must start doing more to increase security at the US border because there is a quite, but growing group of people that are mostly Republicans who live in these border states that are making their voice heard loud and clear to their local representatives in Congress about their displeasure at how the Bush administration has handle border security issues with Mexico.

For a President that prides himself as a commander-in-chief that puts the nations security above everything else in his administration, this open border mess leaves me scratching my head because it's only going to be a matter of time before some smart terrorist will enter the United States illegally via the wide open Mexican border and do great harm to our nation.

When this happens, the administration isn't going to have a satisfactory explanation as to how this happened because for the most part they are just ignoring illegal immigration on the borders of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. To make matters worse, it's almost as though they like having these folks come into the US illegally because it does help the US economy. It also helps businesses that can make additional profits because they don't have to pay as much in wages to illegal immigrants from Mexico as they would have to pay American citizens.

Some of these same pro-business issues are showing their face loud and clear in the ports controversy going on right now in Washington D.C. where once again it appears the Bush administration is putting business concerns ahead of the security of the United States.

These are the kinds of issues that drive most Americans crazy when dealing with an ideological politician. While it makes perfect sense to almost everyone in the United States to improve US border security with Mexico, President Bush is more focused on how his decisions will effect the business community than the real possibility that terrorist will use this border weakness against us.

The American people had better hope that the Congress wakes up soon and starts keeping a better eye on what's really going on behind the scene with this administration. The next three years could be a dangerous period, if folks that are more concerned with national security than businesses making money don't keep the pressure on the Bush administration to do the right thing when it comes to the security of the United States.

Related: Local Immigration Laws

US Border Security

Monday, February 27, 2006

Jon Stewart Does Oscars - Will He Be Funny?

With the Oscars less than a week away, the various tabloid television shows will most likely be filled with the, so called, Hollywood experts who will do their best to spin the most favored movies before this years Academy Awards.

I'm going to watch the broadcast, Sunday, not because of the movies that were nominated, but to see how Jon Stewart performs as the host of the show for the first time. None of the top movies interest me that much. In fact, I haven't seen any of the best picture nominated movies and I don't even plan on seeing them later when they are released on DVD. Hollywood has big problems right now writing and releasing movies that most folks want to go see and with the price of a movie ticket hovering around $10, a new movie had better be darn good or most folks will find something else to do with that money.

Jon Stewart should help this years show stay interesting, because he has a great way of delivering a punch line and much of his success in comedy is based more on what he doesn't say, than what he does. He's fantastic at making a small statement and then just letting his facial expressions carry the joke to a wonderful conclusion.

I've always been a fan of Billy Crystal, too, but I can envision Jon Stewart doing an equally good job, as long as the shows producers don't try to micro-manage his humor. The best thing producers could do is just let Jon, be himself and millions of people will watch this awards show that normally could care less about who and what was nominated.

With all the news about the UAE ports deal and other Bush administration miss-steps being reported everyday, Jon Stewart should have more than enough material to keep us laughing all night long on Sunday. Even if that night doesn't end until way past midnight.

'Dancing With The Stars' Is Great TV Show

I don't watch much prime-time television because I work at night, but my wife enjoys it. She has been telling me for weeks what a great show the new "Dancing With The Stars" was, but until last night, I had never watched it. Leave it to me to catch a new show on it's final night, but that's just how things worked out, being that this shows finale was on the weekend. My wife was right, this was a very exciting show.

When I first heard about it, I thought it was going to be some boring, ballroom dancing type of program that I would definitely NOT be interested in watching, but the way the show was produced made it exciting for all ages and having the viewers vote on who they thought was the best each week was a nice twist, too. I haven't heard yet how well this shows finale did in the ratings last night, but I'm sure they were through the roof, considering how boring the Winter Olympics have been this time around. I might just start taping this show, next time it's on and watching it when I get home from work.

Most of you know I'm a big NFL football fan and my favorite team is the Dallas Cowboys. It wasn't that many years ago, when the San Francisco 49ers seemed to always be playing the Cowboys in some playoff game. Back then, Jerry Rice, was the type of guy most Cowboy fans didn't like very much because he really knew how to play football. While I didn't expect him to do that well on "Dancing With The Stars", I was wrong and he did a fantastic job and in the process gave the American people a look inside his real personality. Just like Jerry Rice made football look easy, he did the same thing with dancing. Don't you just hate it when some folks seem to make everything look so easy?

Seems like "Reality TV" has pretty much taken over prime-time on the major television networks and I don't really mind that too much when they offer good programming that people want to watch. Seems like dozens of new shows come and go each year without finding an audience, but at least once per year, some Hollywood producer finds the right formula and creates a blockbuster hit like, "Dancing With the Stars".

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

Sunday, February 26, 2006

iPod Dominance Growing In Digital Music World

Some professionals in the digital world are starting to wonder if Apple Computer will be able to continue to dominate the digital music world with their iPod product. I must admit, they are definitely the leader in this technology, because everywhere I look, even here in Central Texas, I see young people that have their ears plugged into this new device.

I think Apple will continue to dominate this product for the foreseeable future because they have something, that everyone under the age of 25, wants to own and are willing to pay for. Sure there are other products on the market and many sell for less than the iPod, but these other products are not cool and that's really what it takes to be a winner with this type of digital music device.

There are even news stories coming out of major cities, all over the US, advising iPod users to get different colored earphones, so criminals don't realize you're listening to a real iPod. Now if that's not popularity, I don't know what is. Young folks have to disguise what type of product they are using because criminals are so interested in ripping it off.

Heck, if I were running Apple Computer, I would come up with another version of the iPod that didn't look like the original product to sell to folks in major cities that are afraid of getting their iPod unit stolen. I don't own one of these units, but I'm definitely in the minority, because everyone from high school and college students to the President of the United States has an iPod unit and I don't see any of them demanding a different product at this point in time.

There is a lot of corporate money to be made in this area of entertainment and eventually Apple will lose some of it's market share to another company that will be able to convince the younger crowd that they also have a cool product. However, that is probably years away and during that period of time, Apple will continue to sell millions of these units to people and in my opinion the average age of these new customers will start to break out from that under 25 age group and more and more of us, old folks, will start to buy the iPod.

I don't think any of the major players are going to compete with Apples iPod product. Not until some new, upstart company appears with something else that is equally visionary, Apple's iPod, will continue to dominate the portable music world and provide tremendous profits for it's stockholders.

Exploring Planet Mars With New Space Probe

A new space probe is approaching Mars and if all is successful it will be in Orbit around the "Red Planet" within the next few days. Actually, NASA has done a pretty good job with exploration missions to Mars, ever since that terrible disaster a few years ago, when a couple of their probes crashed into the planet because of a mix-up between the US and metric system when computing the probes distance from the planet.

I don't think they are going to make this type of mistake again and from all I've read this mission has been perfect since it's launch. This new Mars probe will enter Mars orbit and run some very advanced experiments of the planet. Mars has always had a place in the hearts of millions of people around the world who look to this "Red Planet" as our neighbor and some of us believe there may have been intelligent life on Mars at some point in time in the history of the Universe.

We already know that there are areas of Mars that appear to be old lake beds and some places look just like dried up rived beds, as well. If there was once water flowing on Mars, then there is an excellent chance that life once lived on that planet, too.

What I've wondered, in the back of my mind, since I first saw these old signs of water on Mars is, what happened to all that water and could that same thing happen eventually here on earth? I don't think something this cosmic will happen in my lifetime, but it does make some of us wonder what happened to all that water on Mars?

In a hundred million years or so, the earth may look exactly like Mars does today and some other living beings from another planet in our solar system my be looking at Earth and trying to figure out if life once lived here. With people living no more than 100 years and the real history of this planet still in dispute between historians, who knows what was really going on in our solar system say, 100 million years ago. There are still disputes as to what was really happening on Earth as little as a few thousand years ago.

The future has yet to be written, but these scientist that are trying to figure out our most recent past, might give us an insight into what is yet to come both here on Earth and in the rest of the solar system. I know most folks are not interested in history and space, but I am and I can only image what has happened in the past and what will happen in the future. I would like to learn more about Mars and this latest probe will help put this jigsaw puzzle together for folks that have spent their lives searching for that certain piece of the puzzle which will lead to another piece which will eventually lead to real answers to who we are and where we came from.

Olympics Games Are Over - Changes Are Needed

Now that the Winter Olympics have wrapped up for another four years, maybe it's time to consider some changes to these games which don't draw the type of attention they should worldwide, because so many of the sports involved in the various competitions are not interesting to the folks back home.

Another big problem is the amount of coverage that NBC decided to subject the American people to over the past couple of weeks. Everywhere I turned there were Olympic games, on cable television during the day and at night there wasn't anything else on NBC for two weeks. I believe this overkill in coverage is another reason why people, at least in the US, are tiring of the Olympics. More than likely, any TV network must carry this much coverage so they can run enough commercials to make the event profitable, but just like regular TV shows that are run, one too many times, the Olympics are a good thing, but only when taken in moderation.

When I was in high school, I loved watching the Winter Olympics on television. It seemed like, back then the coverage was usually on ABC and who could forget the games when those Israeli athletes were murdered by terrorist. Like most other things in this world, the Olympics have become too over commercialized and when this happens, most folks just go numb when it comes to following the games. If something big doesn't happen each time they are on television in the US, then the ratings just don't happen for the overall games.

NBC did all they could to promote this "Bode" guy, hoping that he would be their savior, but his poor performance at this years games proved you can't create hype, it has to appear all on it's own when it comes to the Olympic games. Actually, NBC probably hurt themselves by putting a guy like this as the leading man for the hopes of the US team.

I think the Olympic will continue long into the future, but just like other events, it may start to receive less coverage, here in the United States, because of the lack of interest on the part of viewers. With several 24 hour sports channels already available, I think most folks prefer to follow a sport with a local, rather than a national twist, which could continue to hurt the Olympic games in the future.

Congress - More China Concerns About Google

The past couple of weeks, some in Congress have been holding hearings and criticize Google and Yahoo for their policy of obeying laws in China which stop them from showing search results that the government there has declared "illegal speech".

Mind you, this is the same Congress that has approved "most favored nation trade status" with this same communist country. There does seem to be a bunch of politics involved in this double standard by the US Congress, but what else is new?

I'm on the side of believing that the information provided by the Internet will eventually help folks in China more than hurt them because I don't think anyone can stop all information from getting through. There are certain laws that these same companies must follow in the United States, as well. These issues don't evolve around free speech, but they do involve government laws.

I believe the more places the Internet is available, the better the chance that free speech will eventually win out in communist countries like China. I do have a problem with Yahoo helping the government in China catch a hacker, but I would image Yahoo would do the same thing in the US if one of their users was violating the law, here.

Freedom will come to the people of China, but the more the rest of us try to rush the process, the more we set back efforts by thousands of people in China that are working within that country to get changes made. I believe this is an area where we need to mind our own business and let the folks that are most effected, the citizens of China, work to make positive changes in their country.

The information that is available on the Internet, whether subjected to a filter or not is better than no information getting into that country at all. I think the Chinese people are very smart and people in that country know a lot more about what's going on in the outside world, than government leaders in the country want to believe.

I hope the Congress will stay out of this issue because I'm afraid the more they become involved the worse it's going to be on the future democratization of communist China.

Will There Soon Be Doctors At Wal-Mart?

As states all over the US are attacking Wal-Mart because of their poor medical insurance coverage, my guess is that Wal-Mart will come up with a revolutionary idea that will not only protect it's employees with basic medical care, but turn a negative into a positive situation for the company.

Look for Wal-Mart to start offering medical clinics at some of their Supercenter stores. They already offer pharmacies at all their locations, so why would it be such a big stretch to imagine them offering small medical clinics inside their stores, with licensed doctors where Wal-Mart employees could get free medical treatment and offer discount medical treatment to the general public, as well?

While I don't like the way Wal-Mart does business in small town American, they are a very successful company and it makes perfect sense to offer medical clinics, staffed by doctors and nurses inside their retail locations. In addition to pharmacies, they already have banks and other companies located inside their stores.

I think they might be successful at finding doctors that would be interested at working in this type of clinic because many family doctors are already suffering from a lack of timely payments from insurance companies and if a giant corporation like Wal-Mart was able to have a medical clinic that only accepted cash for minor medical services, doctors might be very interested in offer their services to this type of practice.

There are approximately 30 million people in the US without any type of healthcare insurance and most of these folks are already paying cash for medical treatment at traditional doctors offices. If Wal-Mart offered the same services at around half the price of other local clinics, I could see Wal-Mart becoming the largest medical clinics in the US within a matter of months, if they decide to follow this idea and put clinics into their stores.

In the past, Wal-Mart has taken problems and turned them into opportunities. I look for them to do the same thing with this latest medical insurance issue.

Smart Political Team - Bill And Hillary Clinton

As Republican leaders continue to work behind the scenes to save the Bush approved UAE ports deal, a smart politician like Hillary Clinton is certain to be thanking her lucky stars for this showdown with President Bush and the Republican lead Congress. Finally, she has a chance to legitimately look more conservative on an issue than the President and other Republicans in Congress.

I've written before about my belief that the team of Bill and Hillary Clinton are the smartest people, politically, that I have seen in my lifetime. What makes them so smart is not what they say or what they do, but just like a great comedian, they know when and where to deliver that all important "punch line" and they are patient and wait until it's delivery will do them the most political good.

That is exactly what I believe is going to happen with this UAE ports deal. Hillary has already expressed concern over the sale of these US ports to a company in the UAE, but now she is doing the exact opposite of others in the Democratic party by just laying low and letting the Republican party think they are getting away with something and once they have made their move totally away from the American people, she and he husband will reappear and blast them at a time when it will do her the most good and the Republicans the most damage.

Anyone that believes Hillary will be easy to beat in 2008 should have their head examined because while most people have been watching other events around the world, she has been changing her image right under the nose of the Republican party and most members of the news media.

I think she has an excellent chance to become the first female President of the United States and this says a lot coming from a moderate Republican. For all practical purposes, John McCain is selling out to the Bush insiders, just so he will be able to get their support in the Republican primaries. This fact will hurt him in the general election and if the Democratic nominee is Hillary Clinton, then I see her winning that race.

Hillary is pulling away from extremist in the Democratic party, while all the potential Republican candidates are trying to show they are more far right than the next guy. This has to be a huge political advantage for the Democrats at this early stage of the race.

I think the next election for the White House will be one of the most interesting races to watch in the history of the United States. Tons of money is going to be raised by the various special interest groups and we are going to see political advertisements that are going to be right down in the gutter before this election is finally settled. However, I still believe it's Hillary's race to lose and until some Republican candidate shows some independence from far right social conservatives, I'll continue to feel that way.

South Dakota Law Outlaws Most Abortions

A new law in South Dakota which outlaws most abortions is setting the stage for a possible "Supreme Court" decision, many on the far right hope, will overturn the Roe V. Wade ruling that made abortions legal in the United States.

I don't have a crystal ball on this or any other issue, but my view is that it's unlikely that this new law will overturn Roe V. Wade and there is a possibility it could backfire on the people that are trying to force the court to overturn that controversial decision.

I think it might backfire because this law was passed for no other reason than to force the US Supreme Court to change long standing precedence when it comes to abortion. An overturn of Roe V. Wade could only happen, in my opinion, if there is a real person, with real issues, who approaches the nations highest court asking for some kind of legitimate legal relief.

If I was sitting on the Supreme Court and opposed abortion, I would try and find some way to strike down this law without overturning the original decision because these representatives in South Dakota are trying to impose their moral views not only on their own citizens, but on the US Supreme Court. I don't think case law should or will be made in this way.

The way the founding fathers set up our country was very smart, where there is a BIG line between politicians and judges. When one branch of government tries to pass laws just to put another branch on the spot, I don't think their intentions will work out the way they planned. That's why I believe this South Dakota law will be struck down, without effecting Roe V. Wade.

Of course, if this happens there will be cries of anger at the latest Bush "Supreme Court Justices" for not following the far right social conservatives game plan, but it won't make any difference what these folks think in the end. If you want something changed, you don't try to manipulate the whole process, just to speed up what you believe to be justice.

This type of manipulation isn't just practiced by the far right, but the folks on the far left have been more successful in the recent past at getting favorable rulings for their various causes like banning prayer in public schools and removing the Ten Commandments from Court Houses and other government buildings. I believe these actions by the far left are just as bad as this latest law in South Dakota, which was most likely pushed by anti-abortion forces from outside that states borders.

I'm on record here many times, opposing extremist from either side of the political spectrum and while folks that believe their cause to be just want to try and speed up implementation of their views, shortcuts like this latest South Dakota law are probably destined to fail and set their original objective back, years.

AOL Survivability In A Fast Growing Internet World

I wonder if in the fast changing world of the Internet, if old giant companies like America Online (AOL) will be able to survive? I'm a former member of this online service and when I was one of their millions of members I was pretty satisfied with the dial-up service they had to offer.

It's probably been about six years ago that I stopped using the AOL service because broadband came to my neighborhood and I started finding the information I needed on the Internet, instead of via the various AOL links that were provided.

In recent years, AOL has been advertising the fact that they have state of the art SPAM and pop-up blockers, which is a definite plus for their service, but most DSL and cable modem providers offer the same type of services.

One thing that is still bad about AOL is that even though they have pop-up blockers on their service, they still continue to serve their own pop-ups to members. Does that make any sense at all? It doesn't to me. The other day I was helping a friend cancel their AOL service and I must have had to close at least five different AOL local pop-up ads before I could get to the cancellation page.

Now, AOL has decided they need to increase their membership broadband numbers in their online service, so they will increase the cost of their dial-up rate to the same amount as broadband. This doesn't sound like a smart move to me, but I guess we'll see with time if their members are going to stick with them after making such a move. It would have made more sense to lower the broadband rate to the same as dial-up, rather than the other way around, but who knows, maybe they have found a way to get their members upgraded to broadband which will make more of their current services feasible to members because of the increased speed.

The one thing I have always disliked about AOL is the fact that their company is massively proprietary, in a wide open Internet world. Back when I was a member of their service, they would not allow me to check my email via "Outlook Express" or any other third party software. This attitude has hurt them with some consumers and I wouldn't consider ever going back to them because of this fact.

I wish every company that is doing business on the Internet well, because this marvelous tool needs to be made available to everyone in the world in the near future.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

President Bush Controls GOP Congress

Apparently, the Bush administration has been working overtime this weekend trying to convince enough Republicans in the Congress to not take action on their own to stop this UAE ports deal. While this might be good news for the Bush administration, it will just lead more people to see this Republican Congress as nothing more than a "rubber stamp" for the Bush administration.

I wrote here the other day about this being a defining moment for Republicans in Congress to finally show some independence from the Bush administration and take action to stop this ports deal even though the administration still desires it's approval.

If this latest information is correct, then the folks that are currently serving in the Congress don't deserve to be there. I had high hopes, Friday, that they were finding their own voice and starting to stand up to President Bush. That thinking, on my part, might have been misguided.

I think we will all know more tomorrow after the Sunday morning talk shows where the Republican leadership is heading in this show down. However, it would surprise me, at this point, if they have the desire to stand up to the administration on this UAE ports deal. In fact, if they can't stand up to the President on an issue that has nationwide bipartisan support, then when will they stand up to him?

I guess President Bush has the ability to persuade these folks like no one else on earth, because he has been able to get this Congress to pass just about anything he has really wanted, with the exception of Social Security reform.

I don't dislike President Bush, but I believe his priorities are not in the right place and while he doesn't have to stand for reelection again, these members of Congress do and by their continued inability to show independence from an administration that is sinking badly in public opinion, there's a pretty good chance they will go down to defeat in November.

Maybe this is just what has to happen to get a new direction started in the US. I certainly don't have all the information needed to decide what is right or wrong about this ports deal, but I do know that it bothers me that this UAE company in owned by the government and their bid was 20% higher for these port contracts than what the marketplace considered, "fair value".

Even for a government that's loaded with money, it doesn't make sense for them to overbid by so much money unless they have some other motive in mind which is driving their desire to control US ports.

I'll say again that I have no problem with the UAE, but I do have a problem with any foreign government controlling national assets in the United States. Nothing we use to hold sacred here seems to be off limits to foreign countries that want to take the revenue they have generated by selling us oil and investing it into national treasures, which I believe should be off-limits to any foreign government.

Listening To Rain Is A Relaxing Experience

The heavens have finally started opening up here in Texas as rain has been falling for the past couple of days. No huge downpours, but steady rain both during the day and at night. It's been big news around the world about how dry it has been in this area and only a few months ago, there were daily headlines talking about grass fires that were spread out over many acres of land, everyday.

We are not even close to being out of the woods yet, because our lake reservoirs are still extremely low and even with this latest rain, we are considerably behind where we should be at this time of the year. However, any amount of rain is better than nothing and most folks are very happy to see this change in the weather.

There's in another benefit to a slow falling rain and that is from an emotional standpoint. Last night, I slept almost 10 hours, which is close to a record for me. This morning, when I first woke up, it was fairly dark outside and I could hear the quite sound of rain drops hitting the roof of my bedroom. This sound made it difficult to get out of bed and start the day, so since it was Saturday and I didn't have to work, I decided just to stay in bed until around 4pm this afternoon.

Needless to say, I feel wonderful tonight and viewing the world in a more positive way. Also, it smells so good outside when it's been raining for several hours. The main down side to the rain, is my little dog who just hates to get her feet wet. She has to go do the necessary stuff a couple of times per day outside and she really doesn't want to go, even though she has to. I know, my dog is spoiled.

Last weekend, it was very cold here and while it's still cool outside, it not frigid and the rain is a nice touch to winter weather here in the southern part of the United States. I think I'll watch a little TV and go to bed early again tonight.

I don't get a chance to get as much sleep, as I should, during the normal work week, so I think I'll try to catch up on some much need slumber, now that I have life's best sleeping pill, "a slow falling rain" to get me to sleep fast and keep me there all night long!

University Of Texas 'UT' Ricin Scare

The story from last night that "Ricin" was found in a roll of quarters by a student seems a little hard to believe. Apparently, the quarters were purchased in the Houston and the substance was not found until the roll of quarters was opened when the student was doing some laundry at UT in Austin.

There's something about this whole story that just doesn't make sense to me and the fact that it happened in a major University dorm, kind of makes me suspicious that someone in the chemistry lab at UT might have been behind placing the "Ricin" into the roll of quarters.

If this is what happened, then the student that found the substance and alerted police, would also have to be involved in either placing it there or participating in some kind of sick, college prank.

Maybe some important details are being left out of the news reporting so far, so I don't want to judge this case too quickly, but all current information doesn't smell right and with the FBI now involved with the investigation of the matter, I image there will be an arrest made sometime next week if this was just a college prank.

I think it would shock many Americans how many dangerous chemicals are available in University labs where much of the nations research is conducted by students who are supervised by University personnel.

Since no one has become sick, it appears that just enough of the chemical agent, "Ricin" was included in the roll of quarters to set off alarm bells, but not make anyone sick. This whole thing just feels like something cooked up by some "book smart", but common sense dumb students at the University of Texas.

Economy Of Bird-Flu Could Have Terrible Results

As worldwide fears continue to grow about a potential outbreak of bird flu, there are some businesses that must be very concerned because their entire business model is based on the sale of chicken. KFC is the main one I'm think about because without chicken, what products do they have to offer the public?

Of course, KFC is the biggest nationwide chicken chain in the United States, but there are hundreds of other regional and local operators that would also be effected if bird flu were to hit the US. Pilgrims Pride has a huge processing planet, where I live, in Waco Tx and hundreds of jobs in our community alone would be effected dramatically by a bird flu outbreak.

There seems to be large amount of time between news reports of the spread of this disease and I'm not sure if that's good news or not. It could be that major news organizations are only reporting new developments when this disease makes a move across the borders of a different country.

I am concerned that this slow rising threat to the health of folks worldwide might eventually move from a slow mode to a faster spreading virus that could get out of hand in a matter of weeks. Let's face it, we all live in a worldwide marketplace and no matter how hard governments try to prevent the spread of this disease, it will find a way to get through any type of protection that has been put into place to stop it.

I think the real solution will be a vaccine, which will not cause additional deaths when administered. We are so luck that the bird flu has moved slowly up till this point, but everyone should be taking the fact that this disease is moving slowly as a reason to speed up efforts to find an effective vaccine for the bird flu.

I have a feeling that just because we are not getting daily reports about the proliferation of this virus, doesn't mean that it has stalled and is somehow on the decrease. While viruses do occasionally just stop progressing, most of the time they do not, so the world needs to continue to work together to fight this potential time bomb that is waiting to explode.

So Long, Barney - 'Don Knotts' Dies

After a full life where he made millions of people laugh, actor Don Knotts died today. When I was a kid he was the first man I ever thought was cool. I know that may sound strange, but when you look at actors through the eyes of a child, things look quite a bit different than they do once we're all grown up.

While most people are writing about how much they liked, Knotts on the "Andy Griffith Show", my favorite role he played was the scared character in the mid 1960's movie, "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken", where he agreed to spend the night in a "haunted house". Don Knotts was prefect for these kinds of roles because his voice and facial expression were like no other man alive, especially when he was scared to death.

Knotts, is one of the few actors who's work will live well beyond his natural life, which is an extreme compliment to his ability to make people laugh all over the world.

I saw an interview with Andy Griffith the other day and he has aged so much since the time his television show was the number rated show in the country. Isn't it funny how we notice the aging of others, but we don't notice our own aging situation is guess because we look at ourselves in the mirror each day, so big changes don't seem to be so noticeable.

I'm going to miss Don Knotts, but his work will continue to be presented on television for years, so while we will all mourn his death, his funny work will still be around for generations.

IRS Refund Anticipation Loans Can Be Expensive

I know a few folks that get a "refund anticipation loan" each year when they file their income tax return. Seems like there are hundreds of companies that offer these types of loans, from banks and tax preparation services to used car dealers. They all have one thing in common and that is, to get your money fast, you're going to a pay big price for the privilege.

Some states, like California, are cracking down on some companies that make these types of loans because the actual APR can run as high as 700%, so basically people that get these high rate "anticipation loans" are being ripped off, big time.

While researching this story, I noticed that H&R Block had to restate their company earning for the past three years because they made a mistake in calculation and underpaid their state income tax. I don't use H&R Block, but news like this has to be the worst kind for folks that are considering using this company to prepare their federal income tax returns. What kind of confidence level will people have allowing H&R Block to prepare their taxes correctly, when they have made mistakes on their own corporate taxes for three years running?

I have had to pay extra taxes on April 15th for so long now, I wouldn't even recognize what a tax refund check looks like anymore and from the stories I've been reading recently, millions of other folks never see that tax refund check either, because they are choosing to get one of these high rate "anticipation loans" instead. Since these loan companies will recover the entire loan amount, with interest within a matter of weeks from the federal government, I believe it's wrong for them to charge up to 700% in interest to consumers. My guess is, all states will eventually pass some kind a legal maximum on these types of secure loans.

Almost A Disaster - Saudi Arabia Stopped Terrorist

There is a distinct possibility that we all could have been paying over $4 per gallon for gasoline in March, if soldiers in Saudi Arabia had not have stopped some suicide bombers yesterday that were out to blow up the largest oil refinery in the world. When terrorism is put in this way, everyone in the United States will listen and take notice of how important middle eastern oil is to our daily lives, jobs and economy.

While this latest terrorist attempt didn't seem very smart to me, I doubt if it's going to be the last and as we all learned here in the US on 9/11, it doesn't take long for these devoted terrorist to kill thousands of people and change our lives, forever.

I believe the Bush administration is attempting to change the political environment in the middle east which, they hope will keep the regions oil supplies in the hands of folks that are friendly to the United States. While the President and his administration might think this idea will work, I along with most other people in the world don't give this opinion much of a chance in the long run.

We need to develop other forms of energy in the US so we are not so vulnerable to political problems in the middle east. There have been problems there going all the way back to biblical times and to think that one President of the United States or his administration can change all that hatred isn't a very good option.

With the worlds economy so entrusted to folks that can barely hang on to power, only foolish people would not look for other sources of energy that we can produce by ourselves and in our own land. Major energy countries have, in past and will again in the future manipulate the price of oil to cause new technologies to fail. Once the competition is gone, then prices will go back up even higher than they were before.

The President talks almost daily about a pre and post 9/11 world and how the country needs to look at the world in a total different way after that terrible day in 2001. Why shouldn't we all look at energy in a different way, as well?

The government of the United States needs to get the ball rolling in a bigger way to encourage new types of, non fossil based, fuel alternatives and stick with companies that have good ideas when major oil companies and countries try to put them out of business by flooding the world market with oil, which will make these new technologies non competitive.

In addition to the war on terrorism, the US is facing a bigger war which we must also fight and that is a war for energy. We as a country need to replace our dependence, ASAP, on a region of the world which doesn't like our country very much and could use our own money against us to further their causes.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Working From Home New Trend In Business

About 10 years ago, I started reading stories about companies that were going to start allowing workers to do their jobs from home via their computers. While I think this idea has caught on with some companies, I don't think the process has progressed to the level expected when it was first proposed.

I think it's a great idea for seasoned workers that can discipline themselves to a work atmosphere, even without checking in with a supervisor each day at the office. Don't get me wrong, some folks will never be able to work, unsupervised and that type of worker doesn't need to be assigned to home work duty.

The type of person that would work out well in this type of environment would be the same type of person that could start their own "home based" business and make it profitable. There are certain things that separate successful people from those that can't ever seem to achieve it and that is a desire and love for the work they do. In fact, most people that have achieved financial success in their lives would tell you that they would do the work they are doing now for nothing, if necessary. These are the types of employees that could be trusted and would excel in a home based corporate world.

Another problem with this idea of employees working from home is the mid-level managers that would just hate the idea because their whole existence is built on the premise that the company couldn't function without them at the helm. While upper management prefers to look at spread sheets to determine whether an idea is good or not, these mid-level managers are sometimes more trouble than they are worth because they end up hiring people they believe won't threaten their own job or position.

The past couple of years there has been a huge increase in the numbers of people that have decided to leave their cooperate position and start home based businesses. I wonder how many of these people would still be working at their former employer, if that employer gave them the option of doing their job from home?

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

Congress Finds Voice With UAE Ports Deal

I wonder if down deep inside, President Bush wishes that he would have known more about the UAE ports deal before he made that "I'll veto it" statement? It's hard to know for sure, but what kind of a leader makes such a statement when almost everyone in the country, they lead, is against the idea?

I think there is a chance that this latest news of the UAE company postponing the take over of these US ports might make little difference to the Congress when they return to work next week. To me, this almost seems like some kind of trick to prevent the Congress from having their say in this deal.

Everyday that goes by, we hear of new stuff that the UAE government has been involved with that in one way or another has benefited terrorist organizations. There has to be some unknown reason why President Bush wants this deal to go though even when almost everyone else in the country wants to stop it. Hopefully, some investigative reporter will dig deep enough to find out why the president is so determined to see this deal get completed.

The big loser this week has to be former "Senator Bob Dole". After leaving the senate and an unsuccessful run for the presidency, Bob Dole had become a voice of reason in the United States. However, now that he will be lobbying the Congress in favor of the UAE deal, I believe his image is totally shattered and most folks won't take him seriously anymore.

It's beginning to look like there is going to be an all out revolt in the Republican party against the Bush administration and while usually these types of revolts are not good for the country, this one is well overdue because the Congress has not been awake at the wheel the past few years and pretty much has "rubber stamped" anything the Bush administration has wanted to do. Those days may have just come to an end.

Actually, if the Republicans in Congress follow though and become independent of President Bush, it might be their only hope of retaining control in the US House and Senate. President Bush seems to have completely closed himself off from the rest of the world and is doing whatever he wants right now and saying the heck with the Congress, courts and people of the United States.

Teaching Our Children Without Extremist Control

Hardly a day goes by that someone doesn't criticize the public school system in the United States. While some of these criticisms are based on real problems in a schools learning environment, more and more are based on ideological issues which are being pursued by extremist on the far right and left of the political spectrum.

While it's fun to watch extreme ideologues argue on television programs, it's dangerous to have them spreading their narrow view of the world to children in school. It's up to all parents to raise their kids the way they see fit, without interference from, "know it all" ideologues that want to spread their various views from generation to generation by infecting the minds young children who are impressionable because their brains are still developing.

Both the far right and the far left are involved in one way or another in trying to get their ideology imposed in our public school system. The sad fact is that these extremist don't see the harm they are doing to children. Most believe it's their mission in life to change the world for the better by teaching their narrow view of how the world should be.

It's no wonder that kids in America are not learning the basics of education as well as children in many other countries around the world. Rather than teaching the basics of education, teachers in the United States are constantly being pelted with rules and regulations which are design to promote a certain ideology to their students.

I image this whole situation will continue to get worse in the future and some parents, of moderate means, will probably take extra jobs so they can get their kids out of the public school environment. However, that idea may be short lived because some extremist are now trying to control not only the public schools, but private ones, as well. These folks never give up because they have convinced themselves that they are right and the other side is totally wrong.

There's no way these issues are going to disappear. The only solution is to be a good parent and do your job at home teaching your kids what you believe are the right and wrong points of moral behavior and hopefully they will pick up the knowledge they need about the really important educational things, which will help their careers, down the road.

CNN Founder Ted Turner Retires From Time Warner

Ted Turner, the funniest man in corporate America has decided that he is not going to seek reelection to the "Time Warner" board of directors. This is truly sad news for me, on several different levels and while some folks have never taken Mr. Turner seriously, it will be a blow to this huge media company, which has been struggling with it's own identity since it merged with AOL shortly before the Internet bubble of the late 1990's, burst.

Ted Turner has always been the kind of guy who's hard not to like. Whether you agree with the way he runs his companies or not, he is a visionary and most people that "live outside the box" like, Ted Turner does are very entertaining to keep up with.

Back when Turner decided to start CNN, there were no experts, I heard of, that thought he had a chance to successfully develop a cable television network devoted to 24 hour news. I have always enjoyed watching news, so his decision to give this idea a try was good news for me. I remember when CNN first started, I thought it looked very modern and exciting at the time. Of course, now when I look back at those old clips of how their anchors and set designs really appeared at the time, they wouldn't hold a candle to anything offered today.

While no one thought Ted Turner could pull off a 24 hour news channel, the critics and experts were all proven wrong and CNN is still alive and well today and will continue to live on past the eventual death of it's creator, Ted Turner. What a great legacy for this unlikely "genus" of a man.

I remember hearing about a sad story that happened not long after AOL and Time Warner merged operations. Apparently, Ted Turner forgot his entrance pass to the corporate office one day and security personnel wouldn't let him in the building. What an insult to a great man like Turner and stories like this one prove to me why most of those arrogant AOL top executives are no longer with the company. Time Warner has a long way to go before it's pre AOL investors are back to even on their investment dollars and in my view many will never see this large company be able to rebuild itself to the point where it's stock price is at par to where it was before this terrible merger idea.

I think many people are going to miss having Ted Turner around at Time Warner, but on the bright side, now that he won't be tied to company rules and regulations that keep him from speaking his mind, maybe he will start going on talk shows and telling it like it is, again. That will not only be entertaining, but very informative for those that choose to listen to what this unusual, but smart man has to say.

Wall Street Talk - Surviving Market Trends

In the late 1990's, I was a fairly big investor in the US stock market and back then, Internet stocks were all the rage and I was definitely following that trend with my investment dollars. I can honestly say that those investment dollars went down the drain, just like the money that millions of other Americans put into Internet and high technology stocks during that same time period.

I learned my lesson the hard way that companies that can't or won't make a profit within a reasonable amount of time are not going to survive in the world today. There were so many companies that I invested in during the late 90's that seemed like such a good idea at the time, which no one would even remember their name or stock symbol, today.

The first rule of business is, a company must be able to make money with their product or service and not just continue to say, they are putting all their profits back into, "growing the business". That catchy phrase seemed to be one that was used a bunch by companies that never did turn a profit before they joined the "Chapter 11" club.

In the past five or six years, the stock market for all practical purposes has stayed the same and no matter how much the financial "talking heads" have tried to convince people that it's now safe to return to the financial markets, many of us are not convinced and while it's not as glamorous to put money into a plain old savings account, it's sure a heck of lot safer that giving it to some company that will never make a profit and declare bankruptcy as soon as it's management has milked all the money from investors.

Maybe I've just been burned one too many times, but I believe it's time that even growth companies started paying a dividend to their stockholders. Sure, most Wall Street types would say this is not a wise move for growth companies, but at least it would show some kind of, "good faith", effort on the part of a companies management to share some of the profits with that companies owners, instead of spending it on something else that may or may not work out financially in the long run.

If worldwide stock markets are ever going to start growing again, the management of these companies will have to convince skeptical people, like myself, that they are interested in their stockholders and not just their own "golden parachutes". While the big money will move the financial markets either up or down, it's the average everyday investors that are required to move Wall Street into new high territory and that still hasn't really happened since regular folks were burned so badly during the late 1990's.

Understanding Medicare Prescription Drug Plan

My mother called me again the other day complaining about the new Medicare Prescription Drug Plan and how hard it was for her to make a decision on which one she should join. I thought she had already signed up for one, but I found out differently when she called me the other day.

I told her that I had checked the Medicare web site and the plan I recommend to her, a few months ago, was the best one because they covered all of the prescription medications that she takes each month.

Then she said, what if I get sick with something else down the road and that plan won't cover the medicine I'll need with that illness? I told her that this plan was not set up with the future in mind, it's only designed to help with the cost of current medications that she is on right now. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get her to think about this program in the "here and now" and not drift off into what might happen in the future.

I doubt if I'm the only person that has had this conversation with their parents and it points out a huge flaw in this new Medicare Prescription Drug program and that is, most folks over the age of 65 were not raised to only think about today, but to prepare for the future. Unlike my generation, most of the folks that are retired got that way because they planned for their retirement over many years by sacrificing money from each of their paychecks so that someday there would be enough to quit working entirely and retire comfortably.

While any kind of Medicare prescription drug benefit is better than nothing, I think the Congress and administration should have done a better job at setting up something that was easier to understand and without so many different companies offering completely different types of coverage. I'm out in the real world everyday and some of these insurance offerings are so hard to understand, that I just gave up when reading about them, just like many seniors have done.

Maybe over the next few years the Congress should revisit this Medicare benefit and find a way to make it simpler to understand for the average person. I do believe there are too many companies offering this benefit and if somehow that could be whittled down to a manageable level, it would help everyone involved.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Are The People Of Iraq Fighting A Civil War?

Is a civil war brewing in Iraq? It certainly does seem so and unfortunately, US soldiers are going to be in the middle of this mess. I know there are a bunch of folks that are working hard to make sure that country doesn't breakout into a full fledged civil war, but in reality there is no kind of war tougher to fight than one within the borders of the same country.

I've written here before about my view that after the war, Iraq should have been divided into three different countries. The various factions of Iraq are not well suited for each other and I don't think the country would have stayed together this long, if it had not been lead by a tyrant. How we're going to get a democracy to flourish in that country is hard to imagine.

The experts say the next 48 hours will be critical and if things don't improve dramatically in that time frame, it's very likely that an all out civil war will break out in Iraq and the one hundred thousand or so US troops in that county could be getting shot at by both sides.

President Bush said today that more than likely terrorist are to blame for recent attacks on "houses of worship" and those attacks are designed to create tension between the various religious groups in Iraq. I think the President is right, but what can we do to stop them from stirring up more trouble for the citizens of Iraq and US military forces?

It's going to take tremendous discipline, but military leaders are going to have to tread carefully and not appear to be on either side in a civil war. There will be no chance at all for democracy, if our troops are seen siding with one side or the other in this internal conflict. Unfortunately, I don't see how they are going to manage to stay out of this new conflict and once they are committed to one side or the other, then we might as well bring our forces home because any good will that we had left with most folks in Iraq will disappear in a heartbeat.

The experts have been wrong before and we need to hope that they are wrong again about this potential civil war in Iraq. If we think events have been bad before, they will become much worse than most Americans could image if the whole country starts fighting each other.

Insulting Your Own Voters Over UAE Ports Deal

Here they go again. The Republicans are charging that anyone that doesn't approve of the UAE Ports Deal is somehow a racist. Since most folks that oppose this sale are Republicans, basically the party is insulting their own members who have a different opinion of this transaction than President Bush.

I remember this tactic, oh so well, from the Terri Schiavo case when Republican party leaders and talking heads said that people who didn't agree with their reasoning and actions in that case were nothing more than folks that supported some kind of "death culture".

These two cases have a lot to say about the state of affairs in the Republican party and why millions of us will just stay home this November in protest. The current Republican party leadership is totally based on a "top down" type of structure, rather than one that goes from the grass roots level, upward. This type of leadership will fail and I have a feeling that all these insults that are being spoken by party leaders to the rank and file are going to catch these arrogant folks completely off guard come November when they are not reelected.

My guess is most of these leaders are convinced they can scare us into not voting for someone in the Democratic party. However, what they can't do is make us motivated enough to vote in the first place. A Republican NOT voting in November has the same effect as more people voting for the Democrats.

There's no way this "insulting your voter base" is going to work because Republicans are not going to be intimidated by our own leaders, we'll just get new ones after the current group is thrown out by the Democrats next time. Any political party that feels it necessary to insult their own rank and file needs to be sent home, so eventually new leaders will emerge with a better understanding of what it takes to lead a major political party.

I remember these same tactics were used against John McCain in the 2000 race for the Republican nomination. Maybe this new group of Republicans, lead by Karl Rove, believe this is the only way to win elections, but while it may be effective in the short run for your candidate, it has the effect of tearing the party structure apart over time. Also, insulting another political candidate is one thing, but insulting millions of voters you depend upon to win is something entirely different, which is why I was shocked when the Republican party did this in the Schiavo case and now in the UAE ports deal, too.

I've long since stopped believing that this current bunch of Republican leaders will learn that what they are doing is bad for their own political party in the long run. We'll just have to wait and see if voters remember these types of insults in November. It's been a long time since the Terri Schiavo case and I still remember it and I'm sure folks that are being called "racists" by their own party leaders because they oppose this UAE ports sale will also find it hard to forget how their own party insulted them for their opinions, as well.

China Angry Again At Google/Yahoo For Not Censoring

Nothing on earth seems to scare the government of China more than "free speech". The past couple of days, they have been attacking "Google" and "Yahoo" again for not censoring their search information enough to suit the Chinese government.

Chinese government leaders must live in a paranoid world where any type of free expression might result in their downfall. You know what? They are right about that fear, because eventually they are destined to fail because secret governments are not going to survive, in the long run, on earth.

I remember reading about the uproar here in the United States when Google decided to censor search results on their "Chinese Portal". I said at the time and I'll repeat again, that no filter can be developed where all free expression can be removed from the Internet. Information has a way of finding a path through such filters and will be seen somewhere in China, eventually. This is why I didn't have a problem with Google's decision to corporate with the Chinese government, because I knew the filters would not work the way the government there thought they would.

This latest anger by the government of China is more directed at the filters than at the companies involved. I think China has gone too far now to turn back the clock on allowing these Internet companies to operate in their country. That's not to say that they won't try to crack down even more on the information that is available on these search portals, but their actions will eventually be futile, because real news can not be filtered completely or forever from people that desire to know the truth.

China is the last big hold out in a world that is moving toward democracy and I have no doubt that the government of China will fight this trend to the bitter end, but they will ultimately lose and democracy will happen in China, too. These kinds of changes don't happen overnight and the impatience most people and government show toward the process sometimes has the opposite effect that was intended.

I believe the people of China will get to a point where they will change their government, without help from the outside world. Communist counties seem to have a tendency to "implode", instead of "explode" and that's probably what will happen in China, too.

The genie is so far out of the bottle already in China that no government could ever put it back in the bottle. Freedom is like an incurable addiction, once exposed to it, everyone desires to have more of it and will not forget how it made them feel when it was experienced for the first time.

Donald Trump/Martha Stewart Have Mountain Size Egos

In a world of huge egos, it's hard to image two people that have a higher view of themselves than Donald Trump and Martha Stewart. If you've been under a rock the past couple of days, here's an update on what's been going on.

First, Martha Stewart said that she was suppose to fire Donald Trump on her first "Apprentice" show, but it didn't turn out that way. Then Donald Trump got extremely angry at her statement and started criticizing everything she has been involved with, including her company, her illegal stock sale problems and even the acting ability of her daughter. With me so far?

Yesterday morning I was up early and watching "Imus" on MSNBC and they were talking about this silly spat when all of a sudden "Martha Stewart" called the show from her car phone and began to talk more about how angry she was at Donald Trump for saying bad things about her and her family. The funniest thing I remember hearing in that interview, with "Imus in the Morning", was the fact that she was reading a letter she had written in reply to "The Donald" while she was driving to work and talking on a cell phone. I must admit it was entertaining to listen to and the folks at the "Imus Show" must have been ecstatic when she decided to call in while they were talking about her.

It's now difficult for me to think about Martha Stewart without picturing "Cybil Sheppard" playing her in those two TV movies. The whole radio interview this morning with "Martha" was about her talking endlessly about herself and the times I've heard Donald Trump on the same radio show, that's exactly what he did, too.

I guess with all the messed up stuff going on in the world today, we all need some kind of distraction and these two egomaniacs are pretty entertaining, indeed. Don't get me wrong, I think there is more going on here than real life anger at one another and it's really no surprise to me that Donald Trump's version of "The Apprentice" is starting a new season next week on NBC.

There is one thing for sure and that is they would not be able to pull off something like this unless they were both totally self-absorbed and this infighting between these two rich folks would make a good reality TV show with both Trump and Stewart having to live in the "Big Brother" house together for a couple of weeks with no one else around. Heck, that would be so funny, I'd watch that show for the first time, if somehow they could get the whole thing set up.

Related: Imus Morning Show, Bradley Got Heart, CMA Angry Hill, Don Imus Fired

Mountain Size Egos

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Bush Unites Country With UAE Ports Sale

When George W. Bush ran for the office of President of the United States he made it a point at almost every campaign stop to say that, "he's a uniter, not a divider" and until yesterday most folks on either side of the political divide didn't really believe that statement.

With President Bush's statement yesterday that he would veto any effort to stop the UAE from taking over control of some US ports, the President of the United States, has finally made good on that campaign promise because he finally found a subject that just about everyone in both political parties agree is a dumb idea.

I don't think this is the image that then Governor Bush had in mind when he made those uniter, not divider comments, but I must say that when he decided to come out fighting today for the UAE, he definitely united the country in opposition to his policy.

I've been trying to find anyone today from either political party that thinks this sale is a good idea. I don't believe there have been any public officials outside of the Bush administration that have come out and publicly said they favor this ports sale.

This may go down in history as the biggest political mistake of the Bush administration and when they threatened to veto any attempt by Congress to stop this sale, they pretty much assured that any veto attempt will be overridden which would be very embarrassing for the President, since he has decided not to veto one bill passed by Congress in the past five years.

The main reason this whole situation is blowing up on the Bush administration at this time, is once again, because of their need to keep everything secret. They didn't talk to anyone in the Congress before moving forward with their support of this sale and when reporters or anyone else ask questions about how this deal was arranged, they are told that the details are classified and they can't disclose any information. In a democracy, people don't like to be told just to trust their president, especially when he doesn't give any details of why he feels a certain way about a particular issue and this "it's classified" answer they keep giving to important questions is beginning to wear thin, even with their political friends.

I have no idea what's going to happen next week when Congress gets back in session, but something will be offered and passed by both the Senate and the House to at least delay this sale of ports to the UAE. The President might follow through with a veto, but more than likely the President will have a different view in a few days when it becomes clear that he is going to lose this battle, at least in the short run and I expect some kind of compromise will be announced that will, at least, be acceptable to the Republicans in Congress.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Mexico Collapse Puts Miners In Jeopardy

I've been hoping for the past couple of days that the latest mining disaster in Mexico would turn out OK for the miners and their families. However, the latest news coming from this region doesn't look good and unfortunately the government of Mexico originally offered high hopes to the families of these trapped miners and now the reality of their fate might just add insult to injury in this latest case of workers being killed or injured in a mining accident, because of bad safety procedures.

We all remember how happy we were when those miners came out of that long deep hole that was drilled in Pennsylvania a few years ago after miners were trapped for several days. To me, that late night television rescue mission gives me hope anytime there is some other kind of mine explosion or cave in.

Within the past couple of months we have all been witness to the other side of this type of situation where over a dozen miners were killed in West Virginia when lighting apparently struck a poll that was connected to that mine, which set off an explosion which killed all but one of those brave men.

Working underground has to be very dangerous because of the fact that tons of earth and rock are right above your head all the time and there are many things that can cause that material to fall which can trap and possibility take a miners life. I figure all of these brave folks know the risk of their jobs, just like police and firefighters know what might await them the next time an emergency call comes in.

When people are willing to take such risked for wages most worldwide CEO's would laugh at, then the people and governments of the world owe it to them and their families to do all they can to improve their working safety conditions and make sure that there are proven plans in place to rescue them in the event of a disaster. It's important that we all look at the human equation here and not just a cost/benefit analysis which most insurance companies require to obtain coverage.

It's cold again tonight where I live and my heat is provided by electricity which is generate by coal powered electric plants. In a round about way, I'm warm tonight because of these brave people that take the risk and mine this valuable material and to me, it's important that they are more likely than not to return to their families each night after a hard day of labor.

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

Monday, February 20, 2006

UAE Ports Deal Is Wrong For America

This United Arabs Emirates (UAE) ports deal completely caught me off guard and I don't think I'm the only one. There's just something about this deal, that has been in the works for years, that just doesn't feel right after the US was attack on 9/11. Why are we turning over control of our ports of call to foreign governments whether they be from the middle east or not?

No administration in history is a stronger believer in "free trade" than the Bush administration and in a pre 9/11 world I would assume they would support this move because of those beliefs. However, we don't live in that world anymore, as the Bush administration points out to all of us on a daily basis, when they argue for warrantless wiretaps on American citizens that are talking on the telephone to folks in other countries.

I don't personally have any issues with the UAE and while there were some terrorist ties to this country after 9/11, there were many more to Saudi Arabia and the US has done nothing to punish that government for the actions of some of their citizens.

I think what we have here is that classic case of middle east countries taking billions of dollars out of the US through crude oil sales and needing to find a way to put that revenue back into our country as an investment. I just don't think this is the right way to do it and I don't see how an affirmative decision on this matter by the Bush administration would be viewed by the American people in a positive way, politically.

There was a movie from the early 1980's called "Rollover" starting Kris Kristofferson and Jane Fonda where these very types of issues of large amounts of wealth leaving a nation, like the US, needing to be put back into the country for future growth. I do agree that from an economic standpoint that this money must eventually return to the United States, but this is not the proper way to do it and there's no way, that in the end, the American people and their members of Congress will stand still for this kind of take over of such a vital part of our nations security.

For the first time in a long time we have an issue here that is not a Republican or Democratic issue, but an American one. There are many places that the UAE can invest this oil income back into the United States without the possibility of jeopardizing our national security. Let them buy land or skyscrapers and invest their money that way or just buy government bonds like many other nations do. However, handing over control of such a large part of the US economy is crazy and if you think about it, there's no way they would sell any of their ports of call in the UAE to American companies.

This whole idea of selling parts of these ports to a foreign government is ludicrous and it will fail or the people that approve it will go down the tubes with the American people. We don't need to be selling stuff in this country to foreign government when there is a national security issue and I feel relatively confident that the President and Congress will not let this proposed sale go through.

President Bush Encourages Alternative Energy Push

Most of this week, President Bush will be traveling the country, talking up his new program to wean the US from dependence of middle east oil supplies. While I welcome the President talking up these type of proposals, which are in the long term best interest of the United States, I have a hard time believing a man who's roots are in the oil industry, is seriously talking about promoting products that are not petroleum based.

Maybe I've just got a mind set that folks in the oil business will go to any extreme to destroy or buy out competing sources of energy, which has happened in the past and I'm sure it's probably still going on today.

While the country needs to find other ways to fuel our cars and heat our homes that don't involved the importation of middle east oil, these new types of energy have been talked about for years, and with the exception of a few diesel engines that run on bio-diesel and the "hybrid" automobile, I don't see a bunch of change in the way we use fossil fuels in this country.

There is a possibility that alternative sources of energy will be practical as long as crude oil prices continue to be at record levels. However, I have a feeling if other forms of energy become more feasible, the folks that control the price of oil, will just flood the market with so much oil, the price will drop and these new inventions will just fall to the way side like they have done so many other times before.

Just look at the advancements in communications and regular everyday devises around our homes and offices over the past ten years or so. However, when you look at the way we fuel our vehicles and cool and heat our homes, nothing is that much different than it was 50 years ago. I don't believe this is an accident. Major oil companies and producing nations have total control over the price of oil because they decide how much to put on the world market at any given point in time. They also have the ability to buy out companies that are making progress into competing energy sources and when they buy out these companies, they seem to go away and stop doing research which might negatively effect the bottom line of the oil company that bought them.

Until the government and American people understand that the oil business isn't a competitive marketplace, President Bush and future leaders will not be able to move the world forward with better, cleaner and more effect fuel alternatives to crude oil.

In Washington and other world capitals around the world, money still talks and let's face it, these oil companies and major oil producing nations have a tremendous revenue stream to draw upon to effect public policy in regards to alternative fuel development.

I hope President Bush is serious about his plans to promote different forms of energy, but when you consider this is an election year and the Republicans in Congress, by every poll available, are in jeopardy of being defeated by the Democrats, this new administration initiative seems more like political cover than practical change.

I'll just wait and see how far the President goes to push this agenda on the Congress this year. If he doesn't push very hard, I'll just assume this is just election year "smoke and mirrors" and forget about any meaningful reform until his term ends in 2008. If however, he puts major pressure on the Congress to act on these proposal, maybe he is serious and something meaningful will get done in this area of research into alternative fuel sources.

Big Lotto Winner Lives In Nebraska

I guess you've all heard now that a winning "Powerball" ticket was sold in Nebraska which is worth in excess of 350 million dollars. There was only one winning ticket, so someone in the United States has become very wealthy over the past 72 hours.

There have been some studies done where researches have followed folks that win these tremendously large lotto jackpots and in most cases there is a definite downside to winning this much money, especially when the people that win it are not use to having so much of it thrown at them all at one time. Most of us think we could handle it, but in reality, I doubt if we would do much better than the other folks that have won in the past.

I've always joked with friends and family about forgetting their name, if I ever won the lottery. The real news flash would probably be people remembering they knew me, even though we haven't spoke in years.

Around fifteen years ago, a man here in Central Texas won a big jackpot in the Texas Lottery. He worked at a manufacturing plant and had a bunch of friends and a pretty happy life. When he won the lotto, his winnings could only be collected in 20 annual installments because back then, Texas didn't have a cash option. If I remember right, he received a check, after taxes, for over 800,000 dollars per year.

This man, quit his job and went on a shopping spree where he bought all of his family members cars and held huge parties for his friends on a monthly basis. After the 10th month of the first year, he had already spent his first installment of 800,000 dollars and had to borrow money from the bank just to get by the last two months of the year.

Around this same time, someone told me they saw him at the gate of his former employer, trying to talk to old friends as they were going to work inside. This money did not make this man happier, if anything it took away the one happy part of his life, which was his work and the life long friendships that changed after he won the lottery.

I know most of you don't want to hear down and out stories like this one about how winning the lottery made someone's life worse off than before they won it. However, there are other stories of divorce, violence and even death that have come as a result of winning a super lottery jackpot.

While I doubt if anyone would have the stamina to do this, it would probably be a good idea to not spend any lottery money for at least one year, so the mind would have some time to catch up with the reality of that much money. Most folks get their check and immediately go on one kind of spending spree or another and without realizing it, they are able to spend millions of dollars in a very short period of time.

I wish good luck to the Nebraska winner and I hope that winner becomes the exception and not the rule when it comes to happiness in life after winning such a huge sum of money.

CarpetBagger Year In Texas/Hillary Clinton New York

I saw a political television advertisement the other day for a candidate for the Republican nomination for our Congressional seat here in Central Texas. I had never heard this guys name before, so I did a little bit of checking and he's new to the area. In fact, his opponent is accusing him of moving to our district, just so he can run for Congress from this area.

I wonder how many of these "carpetbagger" candidates there are around the country? I know the guy that is running against Tom DeLay down in the Houston area isn't from that district either. The man that's running for the Republican nomination here in Central Texas is an Iraqi war veteran and he is really playing that up in his campaign ads. I heard that many war veterans are running for Congress this time, so I guess we'll all see how well they do next November.

The biggest "carpetbagger" politician in my lifetime has to be Hillary Clinton. She won office after her husband, Bill Clinton, left the office of President of the United States. That political label didn't seem to hurt her that much and she looks likely to win reelection to her Senate Seat from New York in a landslide victory this year.

Maybe it's just because the war in Iraq has been going on so long that there are this many veterans that are running for Congress this time. While I think that veteran label will help them with some folks, overall they are going to be in an uphill battle against long entrenched incumbents who have Congressional districts which are drawn to favor the incumbent in most of these, "House of Representatives", elections.

Donating Organs Provide The Gift Of Life

I just finished reading a sad story about a young girl that die today, waiting for a liver transplant. While this is definitely a sad situation, there are probably hundreds of people that die, waiting for one type of organ transplant or another, everyday, in the United States.

The biggest problem with getting people to donate their organs is not one of lack of desire at the idea, but getting folks to face the fact that they are going to die someday and none of us know exactly when that time is going to be.

Unless a person is suffering from a terminal illness, none of us have a crystal ball where we know the exact date and time of our own demise, so if we want to give the "gift of life", our organs upon our passing we have to make our wishes known in a written form somewhere, like on the back of our drivers license and the most important thing you MUST do is let your next of kin know your decision and get them to support it because even if you leave a written request to have your organs donated, many hospitals will not follow through with your wishes, if your next of kind won't sign the consent form at the time of your death.

I've written here before that my wife's uncle received a kidney transplant around five years ago and he's doing remarkable well with his new organ and there are success stories all over the place where people got a second chance at life because someone they didn't even know gave a "gift of life" to them at their passing.

When I was growing up, my father belonged to the "Lions Club" and back then and maybe even today one of their big missions was to get folks to donate their eyes upon their death. Dozens of major organizations are involved in signing up folks to be organ donors and if it's not convenient to get free information from one of them, many states will let you make your wishes known on the back of your drivers license, but remember to notify your next of kin because they must be supportive of your decision at the time of your death.

If you haven't decided to be an organ donor, yet. Give it some thought tonight because there are thousands in need, but many will die before help is found just because none of us want to face our eventually death.

Silly Warning Labels Appear On Safe Products

Have you ever read the fine print at the bottom of television commercials that say something to the effect of, "don't try this at home", when some professional stunt person is driving really crazy or an actor attempts what looks to be an amazing stunt?

Anyone with common sense should already know that this is a commercial and they shouldn't attempt such a thing on their own, but because of lawsuits and other potential legal actions against these companies they put that little, almost impossible to read, statement at the bottom of these commercials in the hope that if someone is dumb enough to try something crazy, they might not get sued over it.

I remember when I was very young learning to drive a tractor on our cotton farm, long before I could legally drive a car or pickup truck. On the tractor was a little yellow warning label that said it was not safe to get off the tractor while it was still moving. Even in grade school I was smart enough to know that it was unsafe to leave a moving vehicle that was still in motion and I didn't need a little yellow warning label to tell me that.

Some of these warnings are down right stupid like the ones that warn folks that after boiling food in water that the food is hot and should be handled with care. Unfortunately, lawsuits have caused all companies to fear just about any possible problem, because if it's possible for a person to do the wrong thing with their product, someone in the world will do it and their first stop after getting hurt will be the office of a local attorney who will sue the company that made that product.

There are real people in this world that have been hurt by defective products and I hate to think that folks that really need financial relief might be delayed in getting a court date because some stupid person refused to use common sense when handling a product.

This kind of stuff has been going on forever and I doubt if anything will change or if anything could be done to stem the tide of frivolous lawsuits that are filed. I just want to release some frustration at the folks that are always looking for a quick buck, rather than working for a living like the rest of us.

Rebuilding FEMA After Hurricane Katrina Debate

Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut told ABC News on Sunday that he believes that FEMA should be taken apart and put back together again, after the agencies terrible handling of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. While I agree there were many problems with FEMA during and after the hurricane, tearing it apart isn't the solution to this problem and what makes the senator think the government will do a better job rebuilding this agency the second time?

In fairness to Senator Lieberman, he believes that since FEMA was a stand alone agency before it was joined to the recently created "Homeland Security" department it needs to be changed to work within this new organization. I disagree with this approach because FEMA worked just fine before it was forced into "Homeland Security", so why not just remove it from that agency, rather than trying to recreate it all over again, only with more bureaucracy and red tape?

Using this same logic, I guess Senator Lieberman would recommend the same fate for the "US Coast Guard", too. That agency was also joined to "Homeland Security" after the 9/11 attacks. To me, if there is a problem with the department of "Homeland Security", the government needs to workout those problems and not destroy proven agencies that have stood the test of time just to continue the status quo of a huge department they decided to create.

I favor removing FEMA from the Department of Homeland Security entirely and making it a stand alone and self sufficient agency that answers directly to the President of the United States. While the attacks of 9/11 were a disaster to the New York and Washington D.C. areas, the country is more likely to suffer from a natural disaster, like Hurricane Katrina than ongoing terrorist attacks. If the country needs to have a FEMA like agency that focuses on domestic terrorist attacks, then create a special branch of FEMA for that purpose and put it under the "Homeland Security" umbrella, but leave the natural disaster portion of this agency as a stand alone unit that answers directly to the President.

Everyone knows there were problems with FEMA after last years hurricane season and changes do need to be made, but completely taking the agency apart and putting it back together again with more levels of bureaucracy, isn't the right solution.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Bird Flu Spreading Across The World

While most people in the United States continue to debate the VP Cheney accidental shooting of a friend while quail hunting last weekend, the "bird flu" is still spreading across the world and health professionals and governments are still at a loss on how to stop it or control it's spread worldwide.

When I first heard about this "bird flu" disease, I thought it might be another false alarm like we had in the 1970's when everyone was concerned about the "swine flu" and President Gerald Ford tried to have the entire population of the US vaccinated against that disease. That action turned out to be a terrible decision on his part and most government leaders have learned from that mistake.

The problem is, that just because the "swine flu" didn't continue to spread and cause a worldwide epidemic, doesn't mean that this new disease, "bird flu", won't turn out to be a problem for the world community.

I remember learning in high school and college about various plaques that have caused millions of deaths over the years here on planet earth. At the time these epidemics were happening, no one really understood what was really going on, they just knew that something bad was spreading around the world and millions of people were dying from it.

Unfortunately, we are living in a tabloid world that would rather read and hear only about the misery of folks that are sometimes called celebrities, rather than focusing on real issues like the possibility that millions of their friends and neighbors could be killed by a disease that has no cure. To me, this is very scary stuff and while I don't stay awake at night thinking about it, I certainly hope people that are experts in developing medical cures are staying up and working on some kind of vaccine or cure for this disease.

A few months ago when President Bush was talking about the potential problems related to the spread of "bird flu", I thought to myself that he was just "changing the subject" from a scandal problem that was facing his administration rather than warning the public of a major potential problem which will eventually strike the United States. Now, I'm beginning to wonder if what he was saying might have been more true than diversionary, but why should he continue to talk about this problem, if there is nothing promising to report in the way of a cure?

The purpose of this posting is not to scare anyone, but only to inform you that something big is happening here and it's spreading across the globe. There is no need to worry about the "bird flu" unless you are a scientist that might be able to offer some kind of cure. The rest of us just need to be aware that this could become a serious problem, worldwide, over the next year and try to stay as well read as possible about potential cures that might come our way.
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