Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Gas Thefts Up As Prices Increase

There is a growing problem in the US right now, which involves people pulling into convenience stores, filling up their gas tanks and driving away without paying. This problem has become so bad in Central Texas, where I live, that none of the gas stations in my area, let a customer fill their fuel tank without prepayment. While I live in a city of around 150 thousands people, most neighborhood convenience stores have been frequented by the same consumers for years. When most of these stores started requiring prepayment from regular customers, some folks didn’t like it one bit because they took the attendants prepayment request as a lack of trust and harsh words were sometimes exchanged.

High gas prices are putting a great deal of pressure on the American consumer right now and it’s amazing there are not more altercations at gas pumps because of it. I would image that people who must travel long distances to and from work each day are finding it more difficult all the time to pay their monthly gasoline bill.

These high gas prices are going to cause the number of “gas drive-off’s” to continue to increase nationwide until no convenience store or gas station will allow a customer to fill their tank without a substantial deposit before they start filling their tank. Some of these gas retailers who don’t want to offend their regular customers with prepayment have installed digital cameras to catch folks who fill up with gas and drive off without paying for their purchase. As the price of gas continues to rise and the cost of surveillance equipment goes down in price like most high technology, look for these surveillance devices at all gas stations and convenience store gas pumps in the near future.

Over the past year as gasoline prices have continued to stay high, some folks who shop at my neighborhood convenience store have started to get a negative attitude when visiting this location and purchasing gas. I think most people know down deep inside that the store owner isn’t making that much money off of gas purchases, but the average consumer is angry and wants to blame someone for the high prices. Too many times, it’s the retailer that gets blamed rather than some guy at OPEC or one of the large oil companies.

For years, convenience stores have made only a few cents per gallon on fuel sales. The only reason most stores still offer gas at all is to attract folks to their location for sales of other products, which make the store owner a greater profit. Most likely, the total amount of money collected on a daily basis at the average retail store for fuel makes up well over 50% of total revenue, but earns the retailer less than 1% of their stores profit. The rest of that money is going back to the oil companies and local, state and federal tax collectors. Let’s all remember that it is not the retail store owner who is to blame for these high gas prices and let us not to take our anger out of them with harsh words or driving off without paying for our purchases.

Related: Gas Pump Price, Politics Of Nature, Tattered Image Issue, New Gas War, New Energy Sources

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist Lacks Conviction

A few days ago, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist was very angry with the FBI for raiding the congressional offices of a Louisiana Congressman accused of taking bribes. Fast forward till today and polls that show 95% of the American people think the FBI was justified and now Senator Frist thinks the search was fine and he backs the FBI. Unfortunately, Senator Frist is just another in a long line of US Senators who flip-flop on major issues of the day just because of public opinion polls. The sad part of this story is that Senator Frist didn’t see this coming from the minute it happened. Is he out of touch with the voters?

I think all Washington politicians who have aspirations to become the President of the United States start acting weird and out of touch with the voters the minute these aspirations hit their brains. I’ve seen all kinds of strange behaviors from John McCain, as well, as he attempts to get the Republican nomination for President in 2008. This may be the real, underlying reason, that Senators have such a hard time winning the office of President of the United States. Current Washington Politicians have a track record on what they have said in the past and how they have voted on important issues. When these politicians start changing their views on issues around election time, they look very small and uninformed on the issues.

While a big flip-flop on the important issues of the day is a bad thing for a politician, not learning from ones mistakes is even worse. I’ve said before and I will say again that President Bush locked himself into this Iraqi war and he will never back down because he used the old “flip-flop” slogan so successfully against John Kerry in the last election for President. The irony of politics seems to happen over and over again. People in public office should be careful about what labels they put on their political rivals because it always comes back to haunt them eventually. That “flip-flop” term Bush used so successful against Kerry in 2004 will prevent President Bush from making changes in Iraq, which are in the best interest of the US.

Senator Bill Frist seems like a good man to me, but he has already sold himself out to political analysis and pollsters who will try to take his candidacy to the Republican nomination in 2008. The conventional wisdom in DC says that anyone who wants to be President of the United States must win two elections. The first one is within a candidate’s own party and the other one is from the nation as a whole. These two campaigns are completely different, but the way a candidate wages one campaign can certainly affect the way they are seen in the other one.

Right now, without an incumbent President seeking reelection, the primaries will take on added importance to both major political parties. This is the worst part of US politics, in my opinion, because all Republican and Democrat candidates will try to appeal to the minority of their party’s voters to win the nomination. This is where the really silly stuff gets discussed which most mainstream voters could care less about. However, without enough of his or her own party’s grass roots support no candidate will ever see the general election in November.

Senator Frist is in that silly period right now where he is trying to find a group of voters, which will support him above all the others. I think he has made too many mistakes to get the Republican nomination and the sooner he figures this out, the better he will do in his present job as the US Senate Majority Leader.

Monday, May 29, 2006

CBS News Crew Killed By IED Explosion

Two CBS News technicians we killed today in Iraq when an IED exploded near the military convoy in which they were traveling. A reporter traveling with them was injured and is currently reported in critical condition with sever injuries to her lower body. All of this happened on Memorial Day when millions of Americans were paying their respects to military personnel who have served this country so bravely over the years. If anyone had doubts as to the current safety situation for civilians and troops in Iraq these days, today's events proved that Iraq is still a very dangerous land.

Less than one month ago, President Bush was criticizing the US news media for not covering good news out of Iraq and now this terrible event happens today. According to CBS News their reporter was on her way to cover the story of a soldier who returned to his unit after being injured in combat. What an ironic turn of events for this CBS reporter to be injured while trying to report positive news from the war in Iraq. While I'm sure the Bush administration is frustrated with events in Iraq, they should not be asking reporters to risk their lives to try and help out the US administration report good news from the Iraqi war zone.

It’s difficult for some of us to enjoy Memorial Day in a party type of atmosphere when Americans are currently dying in Iraq. Something just doesn’t seem right about going to a local lake and swimming, eating hot dogs and drink cold beer while our friends and neighbors are fighting in harms way, everyday in Iraq. To me, it’s kind of disgusting for businesses like automobile dealership to take advantage of this honorable holiday to commercialize the selling of their vehicles. These businesses have been doing this for years and very few people seem to have any kind of problem with them making money on this noble and honorable holiday.

The American people have always been against committing our troops to long drawn-out military conflicts and once again the average American are better connected on what the right thing to do is than military and civilian leaders who commit our armed forces to far away lands. While some in Hollywood like to portray the military as always wanting to fight wars, in reality the opposite is true. Most professional military personnel don’t like war and want to avoid it at all cost. Political leaders who are trying to demonstrate American power to other countries around the world are where most of these wars begin.

I’m a former war supporter who now thinks we made a mistake invading Iraq. The Bush administration made a good case for war and in the beginning I supported their position. However, now that it has come out that intelligence information was ignored about WMD’s and the real intentions of Saddam, I now believe this war was created for “political pay-back” more than for protecting the security of the United States. While there could be major benefits to having a functioning democracy in the Middle East, that is not the reason the American people were told was behind the war in Iraq. That explanation only surfaced when the other reasons didn’t turn out to be true when the war first was proposed by the Bush administration.

We should all pray for the families of the troops and media personnel who were injured and killed in Iraq today and pray that come next Memorial Day we have most of our troops home and out of harms way in Iraq.

Related: General Pace Comments

News Crew Killed

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

Tsunami/Volcano Produce Indonesian Disasters

The people of Indonesia seem to be living at "ground zero" of most of the world problems right now. Within the past few years, so many bad natural disasters have happened in this land and I'm sure the people who call Indonesia home wish they would stop. It was only one year and a half ago that a major Tsunami hit this land and cause the deaths of tens of thousands of people. That Tsunami came at Christmas time and turn out to be one of the worst natural disasters in modern history.

Now, within the past couple of months, a major volcano has irrupted on this island nation of around 150 million people, which caused the evacuation of thousands of people from surrounding communities. Even though thousands of people were evacuated from these surrounding communities, some people decided to remain in their homes despite the impending danger. While this might not be the wisest move on the part of some of these Indonesian citizens, it just shows the tough nature of the folks that call this country home.

Less than one month ago, an entire family was killing by bird-flu in a small Indonesian town which cause world health officials to rush to this nation and try to see if this dreaded disease had made the transition to human to human contact. At this point in time that does not appear to be the case, but it's just one more terrible thing which has happened in this country that has suffered so much of the past few years. Bird-Flu is something all nations are concerned about and the jury is still out on whether or not this deadly form of flu will turn into a worldwide pandemic.

Then this past week a major earthquake has hit Indonesia and tens of thousands of people are dead, dying or serious injured. Government officials are calling for medical professionals from around the world to come to their country and help out the people who were injured in this earthquake. To some people who call Indonesia home, the past couple of years must seem like some kind of "Armageddon" is happening to the land they call home and most certainly they wish it would stop.

History is filled with bad natural disasters picking on one particular region for a long period of time. This is the main reason that some religious leaders have come up with crazy ideas that God is punishing certain groups of people. I don't believe this at all. It's just a matter of time before natural disasters calm down in Indonesia and move somewhere else. It's just the way our planet works and has worked for millions of years. These same kinds of natural occurrences have happened here in the United States in the past and they will happen again. There is little the government or people can do about them except pick up the pieces once they occur.

Right now the best any of us can do is pray for the people who live in Indonesia and hope that those who are blessed with medical training will give of their time and expertise to travel once again to this nation.

Barry Bonds Passes Babe Ruth In Home Runs

As Barry Bonds surpassed Babe Ruth tonight in home runs, I didn't see any breaking news announcements on any network except ESPN. The reason, no one in their right mind believes that Bond's passed this record via his own abilities. Most folks think he has been cheating for years by using steroids to enhance his playing abilities. This whole medication enhancement deal in Major League Baseball is one of the most disgusting things I've seen in the world of sports. While most major league sports are working hard to crack down on cheaters, Major League Baseball has gone in the complete opposite direction and very little has changed this season.

Sure, there is some random testing going on and what do you know? Many of these players look like they have lost weight and muscle tissue since last season. I wonder how that happened? While this whole steroids situation would be easy to blame on overly ambitious players, intelligent people know that there is more going on here than just a few players who want to succeed with the aid of drugs. The world of Major League Baseball is to blame and I don't think down deep inside they want to change the way they are doing business one bit. TV ratings and game attendance is up at the average MLB game and why fight success if you're an owner or the commissioner of baseball?

There are special commissions, which have been started to work on clean up MLB for good. However, I don't believe there is an interest in accomplishing this goal from any side which is involved in the current structure of the game. What MLB has become is a win at all cost type of sport with little or no REAL rules for the game behind the game. Sure, the fans are excited when someone is chasing a Baby Ruth record, but the truth is no one will truly recognize that record under the current cloud that surrounds the sport. So, these MLB players are risking their health and life for nothing of substantial value except their current paycheck.

History will not look back favorable on this time when it comes to the truly American sport of Major League Baseball. I believe history will record what's going on here as some kind of abolition where current players will be listed as "footnotes" in history and the real records set by Babe Ruth and other great players will remain the real records to beat. In the mean time, hundreds of MLB players will live shorter lives because they were convinced that they had to cheat by taking steroids to be successful in this game. Someday, when they get old, they will be looked upon as someone fake who tried to be real in the game of baseball.

When this happens the owners of these baseball teams will be even richer and probably not even return the telephone calls of these once great players who made them rich by sacrificing their own bodies for the sport of MLB. The only good news about this whole situation is that history will remember this “robber baron” owners worse than the players who followed them down this path.

Read more: Climbing, NFL, Golf, NASCAR, NBA

Bonds Passes Ruth

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Immigration Compromise Not Likely In Congress

I don't see how the US House of Representatives and US Senate are going to reach a compromise on immigration reform this year in the Congress. I did some reading today about the differences between the two bills and discovered most members of the House of Representatives are miles apart from the members of the Senate. While I believe from a strictly legal point of view, Republicans in the "House" are in the right on this issue. However, very seldom in life are decision like this purely decided on a firm legal basis.

The immigration reform bill in the US Senate which has bipartisan support from the President, Republicans and Democrats is the better way to go in my opinion because it at least tries to address the issue of the 11 million plus illegal immigrants in the US right now. The "House" bill would increase the criminal sanctions on people who enter the US illegally and will work to either put them in jail or deport them from the country. While this might make sense in a perfect world, none of us live in a perfect world.

While everything is going down hill in Washington DC, things are looking even worse on the US/Mexico border as the "Minutemen" are constructing their own fence to help stop illegal immigration. While most people in this movement do have good and honorable intentions, some are just racist that are against any kind of immigration, even those via legal means. Unfortunately, the longer it takes law makers in DC to decide what they are going to do the more problems will occur on the border between groups trying to get into the US and other groups trying to keep them out.

My fear is that some kind of terrible event or massacre is going to occur on the border if tensions are not relieved soon by some kind of fair legislation in Washington. The Congress has waited too long to get involved in this issue and everyday more people start thinking they should take the law into their own hands because of the inaction of US leaders. There is always a possibility of something getting out of control in a situation like this when two totally opposite forces collide in an out of the way place like the US/Mexico border.

Add into that mix the fact that "drug runners" are known to take the same pathways into the US as illegal immigration and it doesn't take much imagination to think about how many people could lose their lives if this situation drags on too long. Many people involved in "drug trafficking" are armed in a similar fashion as military personnel in a war zone. Regular citizens like the "Minutemen" would be no match for these criminals and if their two paths cross expect a terrible blood bath to occur and then all hell will break loose with the American people.

While a fair and honorable agreement between the US House of Representatives and US Senate doesn't look promising right now, my hope is that some kind of compromise can be reached to settle down tensions on all sides of this debate. The Congress doesn't have a choice at this point in time. They must act and give all sides something they want or this whole situation is going to turn very ugly on the US border with Mexico.

Related: Dead Immigration Reform, Local Immigration Laws, Right Wing Politics

Immigration Compromise

Friday, May 26, 2006

On Memorial Day Please Support The Troops

Monday is Memorial Day and every American should give thanks to the men and women who have given of their time to serve this nation we all love. Some people have given even more than their time, some have given up limbs on their body while others have made the ultimate sacrifice and died in the defense of the United States. Especially this year, we should all be extra thankful for these soldiers because over one hundred thousand of them are still serving in Iraq.

As the situation in Iraq has degraded over time, any type of positive message these brave folks got from the people of that country is fading away, quickly. It's very important to remember that US soldiers in Iraq are there because the Congress and President of the United States sent them, not because they want to be there. The US has depended on young people to volunteer for the armed services for years and without them our country would be less safe.

Over the short history of the US, there have been millions of brave souls who have given of themselves in order to protect the way of life most of us take for granted. When I see a person wearing a US military uniform, I try to make an effort to go up to them, shake their hand and just say thank you. A simple thank you goes a long way with most of these troops because they may not have heard those two, very important, words in a long time.

With thousands of regular army and reserve troops now severing in their fourth and fifth deployment in Iraq, many are certain to be tired and discourage at this point in time. While many of us who are safely sitting at home criticizing elected government officials for the mess in Iraq, these brave folks just go about their daily duty without much complaint. This is why it is even more important for the people back home to keep the pressure on political leaders to get this Iraqi war over with as soon as possible.

Every country has its good and bad points and the United States is no different. However, there has never been a shortage of young men and women who were willing to give everything they had to protect this land from harms way. I am so thankful for our US soldiers and I pray for their safety each day. While I may disagree with the political decisions made by some in Washington, I believe most elected leaders have a great deal of respect for US soldiers and the sacrifices they make for their country.

Even if it's just one day per year, make sure that on Monday, this Memorial Day, that you make the effort to give words of support to some member of the United States military. These folks don't ask for much in the way of pay, but their sacrifices are what this country is made of. Just remember that even if you don't support the war in Iraq, it is the right thing to support the troops who are just doing their job and these troops deserve our thanks and support.

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

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Above The Law - Washington D.C. Arrogance

It is becoming clearer every single day that members of the US Congress consider themselves above the laws they pass for the rest of us. This arrogant attitude is not going over well with the American people and it's just another example of how "out of touch" some members of these legislative bodies have become from the folks they represent back home. There is no way that the founding fathers, which wrote the US Constitution, intended to shield Members of Congress from obeying the same laws, as everyone else in the United States.

These representatives in the Congress must think the American people are stupid. Why else would they make such a big deal out of a legal search warrant being issued against one of their members? Everyone in the United States must abide by the same laws. This is true from the President on down to the “average Joe”. To me, this outrage on behalf of Members of Congress is more due to possible illegal acts they may have personally committed than it has to do with "separation of powers" and the US Constitution.

I took a look at a reader poll on the Fox News web site tonight and in that poll over 95% of the American people didn't think it was a violation of the US Constitution for the FBI to serve a legal search warrant on a Member of Congress's office. The truth is that dozens of current lawmakers are being investigation, right now, for abusing their office and taking illegal brides from lobbyist and other special interest groups that want to win government money or contracts for their businesses or special causes.

I was thinking today about how Members of the Senate in ancient Rome started having these same thoughts of entitlement over the people they served. In some ways the attitude of some members of this Congress are similar to those old Roman days, where leaders were place on some kind of pedestal that put them above the laws they wrote for everyone else. It seem like every day, Members of Congress go on the record trying to prove they are somehow above the laws the rest of us must obey.

The US House of Representatives should be called the US "House of Cards" right now because this whole attitude of entitlement is about to come crashing down. The sad truth is that many of the most arrogant members will be living in denial until the very end. Some will not understand why their own people turned against them, even though they have not put their constituent’s interests above their own for many years.

As a lifelong Republican I now totally understand why no party should control the White House and both chambers of Congress. The people of the United States have been served poorly by total Republican control of government and I have little doubt that these same problems would be present in a government totally controlled by the Democrats. I'm in my mid-40's and I have never seen a more out of touch group of people than the ones who are currently in power in Washington. If the American people don't send most of them home this November, we are all in for a very rough ride for many years to come.

Enron CEO's Lay/Skilling Are Guilty

The former top leaders at Enron, Kenneth Lay and Jeffery Skilling were convicted on various charges in Houston today. The two men could face hundreds of years in prison when they are ultimately sentenced for their crimes. In a case which seems to have taken forever to first be filed and then go to trial, today's verdict is good news for thousands of investors who lost their entire life savings to the financial "shell game" that was played by leaders at Enron.

What outraged former employees at Enron, the investment community and regular folks, was how these leaders stood up and defended the stock of their company. While at the same time they were in the marketplace dumping that same stock and getting even richer than they already were. There was even a tape of Kenneth Lay asking employees of Enron to purchase even more company stock for their retirement accounts around the same time period he was dumping his sizable stake in the company.

Some of the problems and issues that faced investors of Enron are the same ones that are faced by other people with stock investments. Too many large public corporations are quick to release information to the public about company successes, but slow to release bad news which will drop the price of company stock, lower. What Lay and Skilling did was so much worse than this and from a human standpoint they appear to be men without a conscience. These men were so narcissistic that they only thought about their own person wealth and if other employees at the company had to lose so they could win, then so be it.

Like millions of other people, I have watched former employees discuss what happened at Enron on television news programs like "Larry King Live". In the world I live in, it's hard to understand the thinking of corporate leaders who would increase their personal fortunes at the expense of the very people they work along side of every day. It seems like they have little or no respect for the regular folks who help them become wealthy in the first place.

There are laws that govern illegal activities and there are moral laws, which folks must obey if they want to be a contributing member of society. Kenneth Lay and Jeffery Skilling broke both sets of laws and most likely they are going to spend the rest of their lives in a prison, somewhere for their crimes. The love of and the obsession for money has driven many a good man down the road to disaster over the years and these two guys are just a couple of more who will be added to the dreaded list of names.

There will be a few people who think down deep inside that these two men didn't really do anything wrong. Some regular investment folks believe that the financial markets are a "war zone" where only the strong, survive. I totally disagree with this attitude and when all the dust finally settles, I believe the criminal justice system got it right in the conviction of Lay and Skilling. These two men are “larger than life” examples of what will happen to people who want to profit at all costs and don't look after the people under them who have placed their trust in the direction set out for their careers and retirement by company leaders.

Related: Stock Market Declines

Enron CEO Guilty

Long Shot Taylor Hicks Wins American Idol

As many of you know, I work in the evenings and don't get the chance to watch prime-time network programming that often. Last night was one of the few occasions that I wished I was not working and could have stayed home to watch the finale of American Idol. When I got home from work, my wife was so excited that Taylor Hick won and she said it was the best American Idol finale, yet. This year I didn't have a chance to hear either one of the two finalists sing any song completely, so I'll just take her for it, that the best person won the contest.

For weeks the conventional wisdom has been that this years American Idol would be Taylor Hicks and for once conventional wisdom turned out to be correct. The real story of American Idol is not that Taylor Hick won the contest this year, but how successful the entire television show has become in the United States. Early audience estimates suggest that as many as fifty million people turned into the American Idol season finale which is absolutely phenomenal considering how much TV viewership has declined for the major broadcast networks over the past ten years or so.

American Idol must be the biggest broadcast television success story of the century, which is only surpassed in regular audience delivery by the annual Superbowl game. With the exception of “Idol” and the hit show "House"; my wife and I don't watch any programming on the Fox Network on a regular basis. While these two shows have lifted overall ratings for Fox, as of yet they have been unable to turn these large audiences onto other regular shows offered by the network.

The ever rude, Simon Cowell is the real reason American Idol has become such a huge success. The truth is that people enjoy watching other people get humiliated on national television. I sure mental health experts can explain this behavior, but I certainly can not. While Cowell is rude and talks down to people like they are dogs, everyone on this show expects this type of behavior from Cowell and if they don't want to take his medicine, they don't have to enter the contest. Simon has told contestant before that he is just toughening them up for what life will really be like as a major singing star and I agree with him there.

As this past season of American Idol was gearing up to start, I remember reading an interview conducted with some high executive at the Fox Television Network. At that time, the network was preparing for the ratings to start leveling off for the show. Most of the time, the thinking of this Fox executive is right on the money, because just look at what happened to "Who Wants to be a Millionaire, on ABC several years ago. That show started off with great success and died a quick prime-time death a short time later.

Congratulations to Taylor Hicks and all the folks who were on American Idol this season. While Hicks won the contest, the real winner again this season was the Fox Television Network who made mega millions of dollars on this television show, which appeals to viewers of all ages.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Charles Gibson Anchors ABC News Broadcast

ABC News has announced they are moving “Good Morning America” co-anchor Charles Gibson to their “World News Tonight” evening broadcast. I think this is wonderful news for ABC and the viewing public. I’ve watched “Charlie” for a long time and I think he is the perfect choice to head-up their prime time evening news broadcast. What’s hard for me to understand is why they didn’t do this immediately after the death of Peter Jennings from lung cancer many months ago.

More than likely, ABC’s reasoning was based on money. The morning news broadcasts earn the major networks much greater income than their evening news programs. However, it’s those evening news shows, which add prestige to the whole network, and they are ignored at great risked to the entire news departments of ABC, CBS and NBC. I personally enjoy watching Brian Williams on the NBC Nightly News as I did Tom Brokaw before him. In my younger years I was a big fan of ABC’s evening news back when Frank Reynolds hosted that show around 30 years ago. I can still remember Frank’s voice when covering the Ronald Reagan shooting story. I’ll never forget that terrible day.

Charles Gibson is one of the best TV folks on the air today. While I’m not a morning person and don’t watch “Good Morning America” that much; I have watched him on news breaks and I thought he did a wonderful job when he moderated some presidential debates in the past. Now that Katie Couric will be doing the evening news over at CBS, there should be a good battle brewing for viewer loyalty over the next few years. This is good news for old timers like myself who still like to catch one of the major broadcast networks news shows each weeknight.

It wasn’t that long ago that there were discussions about ending all three network news broadcast because viewership was down across the board and the availability of 24 hour cable news was believe to spell the end to the evening network news broadcasts. However, that talk has faded over the past few years and it’s like new life has been found in the news departments of the major three networks. I even remember once hearing a story that all three networks were going to combine their resources into one news department and broadcast the same newscast on all three networks. To me that sounded kind of stupid and I’m glad that kind of talk has faded from the boardrooms of the big three.

I want to wish Charlie Gibson well in his new assignment at ABC News and I have no doubt he will be there for a long, long time and improve the ratings of that struggling networks evening news program. By hiring Charles Gibson, ABC is putting their best man at the helm of network news and I’m sure that whoever made the decision to move Charlie, will not regret it.

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

No Positive News Coverage Coming Out Of Iraq

I was watching a TV show on cable today and the host of that show was commenting on the Bush administration's complaint that there was not enough good news coming out of Iraq from the major US news organizations. While I have always thought the Bush administration had a good point about this issue, the host of this program made a really good case as to why there isn’t better news reported from Iraq. Apparently, the US owned, “Voice of America” can’t find any reporters who are willing to travel to Iraq and report the news because they fear for their own safety.

The fact that few reporters are willing to risk their lives to cover the news in Iraq speaks volumes about how dangerous the conditions are in that country. What a terrible situation it must be for our brave men and women in uniform who don’t have the choice of whether to be in Iraq or not. Most people in the United States want our troops home as soon as possible and I count myself in that group of people. While it would be a dumb move to just pull out of the country entirely at this point in time, we should start bring our troops home on a staggered basis starting right now.

The latest number of US troops on the ground in Iraq is around 135,000. That number has remained pretty steady for the past couple of years and it’s time for our troops to start rotating out of Iraq and not going back again. I’ve read that some military personnel are on their fourth and fifth deployment to Iraq and it’s time to bring many of these folks home for good. There is only so much the US military can do for the people of Iraq in the long run. It’s up to them to govern their own land and find ways where the different factions can live together in peace. I have my doubts as to whether this can be done, but I still hold out some hope.

There is some good news coming out of Iraq and that is the formation of a new government and the selection of a new Prime Minister. The American people can only hope and pray that this fragile government somehow finds a way to hold together over the long run, because if it doesn’t the whole process that has taken years to get to this point will have to start over completely from scratch. There are a bunch of religious and political leaders in the middle-east that not only wish for a US defeat in Iraq, but will aid the insurgent movement to further their own political goals. The American people do not like long wars and will punish any political leader who doesn’t have a good exit plan from military conflict.

The time might be right for the Bush administration to stop complaining that the major news organizations are not reporting positive developments in Iraq when the governments own news group, "VOA", can’t find reporters to cover such events because they fear for their lives. On this same issue, no high government official of the US or UK enters Iraq without sneaking into the country under the cover of darkness or complete secrecy. This is just another example of how dangerous that country still is and no amount of trumped up positive news coverage is going to change that fact.

Picking Wrong Fight With Congressman William Jefferson

Sometimes the irony of Washington DC is just a little bit too much. Over the weekend, the FBI armed with a search warrant raided the offices of Congressman William Jefferson from Louisiana. The FBI has been investigating political corruption on the part of Jefferson for many months. After the surprise weekend search of the Congressman’s office, most Democrats were very quite about what happened, but Republican leaders were furious that the “executive branch” of government intruded onto their turf and promised legal action to prevent such activity in the future.

While the anger of Republican leaders in the US House of Representatives and Senate may sound from a purely legal point of view. It does come across to most folks as another example of how Members of Congress want a double standard when it comes to the way they are treated verses the general public. The Congressional Republican leadership already is suffering from lack of public support and this latest move against the Bush administration is only going to make matters worse. Almost by the day it seems impossible for the leadership of the Congress to make sound decisions which might cause the public to regain faith in their leadership abilities.

My guess is that eventually the US Supreme Court will come down on the side of Members of Congress because the US Constitution is clear in the way it outlines the separation of powers under the US form of government. However, there is a public perception here that can’t be ignored and to do so will only create additional problems for Republicans in the Congress. While Members of Congress are upset at this latest invasion of their turf, the news is even worse for the Bush administration who already has millions of Americans upset at their use of the NSA to spy on American citizens. The folks who already believe the Bush administration has “crossed the line” legally with the whole NSA situation, will be even more upset over this latest move by the FBI and Justice Department to invade the offices of Congressmen.

While listening to the comments of outrage from Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist yesterday; I thought to myself why can’t they get this worked up over an immigration bill? The truth is that both of these men, along with some others who current serve in the leadership of Congress seem to be more concerned with their own political power than they are about doing the right thing for the folks back home. This is why many of these congressional leaders will be going home after this November’s election. The leaders in Congress have picked the wrong fight and while they might eventually win in the Supreme Court they will lose with almost everyone else in the country.

The issue of “separation of powers” is very important to the long-term security of the United States and I’m not trying to say that this issue isn’t important. However, the timeliness of this fight between Congressional leaders and the Bush administration couldn't come at a worse time for the Republican Party as a whole. As public opinion of all political leaders are at record low levels, the folks in power seem to be adding to their current problems on a daily basis.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Movie 8 Below About South Pole Dogs

My wife and I went to see a movie this weekend called “8 Below”. We are both dog lovers, so we enjoyed this movie very much. Since we are older folks, over 45, we went to see this movie at the dollar show on Sunday. I’m not a big fan of cold weather so some of the scenes in this movie were kind of hard to watch, but it was well worth the money and time to go see it.

The real stars of this movie were the eight dogs that were tasked by a trainer who cared for them very much. These beautiful animals would pull sleds loaded with scientific equipment for explorers at the South Pole. The scenery of the southern most part of our planet earth in breathtaking to look at on the big screen at a movie theater. The mountains were filled with snow and the sight of huge glaciers were worth the price of the ticket.

Although the scenery was nice to look at the story was great, too. The trainer of these magnificent dogs was forced to leave them behind when a member of his expedition was injured during a winter storm. The idea of leaving these dogs behind to face a most certain death is something this trainer could not live with and it haunted him for months after he returned home to the United States.

Month after month this haunted trainer visited one agency after another to find a way back to the South Pole to rescue his dogs only to be turned away at every turn. Finally dejected, he went home and tried to resume his life without his precious dogs at his side. Eventually, the man who was injured came up with funding for this trainer to get back to the South Pole, but it had been six months since everyone evacuated. To everyone’s surprise most of the dogs had found a way to survive the worst kind of winter ever.

Maybe my wife and I are strange, but we like these kinds of movies. We both work hard during the week trying to make ends meet and on the weekend the last thing we want to see in the form of a movie is some political flick written by some crazy left wing radical in Hollywood. Don’t get me wrong those movies do have their place, they are just not something we want to spend money to see when we can watch that kind of thing on cable news networks every single day.

While I’ve given the general outline of the movie, “8 Below” I have left out some really good parts of this movie in the hope that you will see and enjoy it for yourself. If you’re like us and appreciate feel good movies that can make you laugh and cry all at the same time; you’ll really enjoy this one. I glad we decided to take a break and see a movie this weekend and for once we pick a good one that was definitely worth watching.

Related: 2006 Movie Favorites, K9 Personality Traits, City Pitbull Laws, Pitbull Image Problems, Traveling With Pets, Fun Veterinary Clinics

Movie 8 Below

New Gas War Heating Up At Convenience Stores

While I wouldn’t exactly call it an old fashion “gas war”, the past few weeks I have seen huge price differences at convenience stores only a few blocks apart. By big differences in price I’m talking about 20 cents per gallon or more. To me, this is almost unheard of until recently and I’m wondering if there is some kind of “gas war” going on or if some stores are price gouging the public? The businesses that are selling gas the cheapest are the larger ones who could just be selling gas below cost to attract customers to their locations in an effort to sell other, more profitable, items.

It’s becoming very important to check around town for the lowest gas prices these days. I never really checked that closely before because most gas station prices only varied by a few cents per gallon. However, with differences as high as 20 cents per gallon there could be some serious money saved by checking around and even driving further to purchase gasoline. Like everyone else, I get angry at the spike in gas prices the past year or so and I still think, down deep inside, that the gas purchasing public is being ripped-off by either members of OPEC, big oil companies or both.

I did see something new on a television commercial for a Chevy truck the other day. That commercial said this new truck would run on regular gasoline or E85, which is a new blend of Ethanol. In Brazil most vehicles today run on E85 which is produced from a renewable source of crops. In Brazil that crop is “Sugarcane”. However, the same fuel mixture can be produced from many different crops and the most likely source would be “corn” here in the United States. I wrote here recently about how singer Willie Nelson was opening a “biodiesel” plant in Hillsboro Texas where they will produce a diesel product which is grown from corn and mixed with petroleum for a cleaner burning vehicle.

This is the one bright side to these record high gas prices. The longer gasoline stays above two dollars and fifty cents per gallon the more feasible it is for smart business people to come up with alternative fuels for the world. Over time I guess we will all get use to these gas prices, but for some of us “old timers” it’s going to take a long time. When I first started driving a car back in the mid 1970’s gas was thirty-two cents per gallon. I remember vividly my grandfather getting very upset when we were on vacation once and he had to pay forty-five cents per gallon in New Mexico. My point is that time does change attitudes. Most people would drive 100 miles or more today to buy gas for forty-five cents per gallon.

While we all wait to see if new products like biodiesel and E85 catch on with the general public; a good old fashion “gas war” or two wouldn't be such a bad thing for consumers. For those of you too young to remember them, maybe right now might be a good time to research the subject of "“gas wars” on the Internet and find out why they happen and how you could potential benefit from them in your personal life. History does seem to repeat itself and I think that’s what is happening right now with gas prices.

Related: Gas Pump Price, Politics Of Nature, Tattered Image Issue, Gas Thefts Up, New Energy Sources

New Gas War

VA Information Stolen On Employee Laptop

Has everyone in the federal government lost his or her marbles? I saw a report on the NBC Nightly News tonight that said some employee in the VA had copied files from work, took them to his house and this weekend that information was stolen in a home break-in. From the initial report is saw tonight, copying the personal information of Veterans and taking that information off-premises is forbidden by VA rules and regulations, but this one employee did it anyway. Now over 25 million people who served in the armed forces of the United States from 1975 until today could have their personal information exposed to outside forces and there is a real possibility that their identity and that of their spouse will be subjected to possible “identity theft”.

What is going through the minds of government employees who are entrusted with such personal and potentially lucrative information to disobey strict rules and copy this type of information onto a CD and take it home with them? Maybe I’m just mad right now thinking about how much damage this one person did to millions of peoples lives that I’m not thinking clearly. In the back of my mind right now I think the person who did this terrible thing might not be that innocent of a person at all. Maybe they took this information and allowed their home to be broken into as some kind of financial rip-off of this very personal Veterans information. I have a feeling that the FBI and other authorities are looking into this possibility right now and that’s exactly what they should do.

One of the biggest problems in the world today is “identity theft”. Everyone knows it and there is no doubt in my mind that people entrusted with this type of personal and private information at the VA know this too. Even if this person who took the data of millions of Veterans home, against VA policy, is somehow not involved in possible “identity theft”. That person should lose their job and all benefits earned because of doing something so stupid and so damaging to millions of brave Americans who have served their country. What is going on in Washington right now? Are some people so corrupt that they would sell out Veterans who have risked their lives defending this country over the years? It’s a good question and I don’t have the answer to it.

I’m so tired of corruption in Washington that I could yell out loud. It seems like everyone is in on the take and trying to gain some kind of personal financial benefit by their service in the US government. It’s not just the VA that’s having problems, the US Congress is so full of corruption that most Americans are ready to throw them out of office no matter which party they belong to. I believe down deep inside that the person who took this private information off of VA grounds against policy is somehow involved in the theft of that information this weekend. Why wouldn’t everyone suspect such a thing? Just look at all the other corruption, which is coming out of DC on a daily basis. The time has come to elect new leaders who will do whatever it takes to get corruption out of Washington. Unfortunately, our country has had these problems before and we will have them again. The only way to fix the problem is with some new faces that are not yet corrupted.

These new folks will have to change the way business in done in Washington, starting with their own offices and find a way to stop bureaucratic corruption which is most likely due to watching current political leaders take bribes and get away with it. Leadership must come from the top down and if the folks at the top are corrupt in their offices, then the folks who are just regular folk will try to get a “little bit of the action” themselves. I don’t look for anything positive before the November elections because the “status quo” is already too set in DC. The American people are ready to “throw the bums out” and I see little positive news coming out of Washington right now to prove that the majority of voters are wrong.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Aspirin Ibuprofen Study On Heart Disease

A new heart study in England found that medications from Ibuprofen increase the risk of heart problems in older adults. There have been other studies over the years, which have shown that Ibuprofen when taking at the same time as Aspirin can reduce greatly the medical benefits of Aspirin on the heart. These are two medications which basically do the same thing when it comes to pain relief, but are miles apart when it come to how they effect the heart muscle. I really hate it that these new studies are showing potential problems with Ibuprofen because when it comes to a bad headache or back pain, it works better for me that pain ordinary Aspirin.

What I’ve been trying to do is take my daily Aspirin at least three hours before or after I take Ibuprofen. I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that this would get the beneficial aspects of Aspirin working in the blood stream without the Ibuprofen effecting it. Since I have more back pain at night, it makes sense for me to take my daily Aspirin in the morning and wait at least three hours before I take any Ibuprofen. I would much prefer to just take Aspirin, but like I said it doesn’t work as well on me when it comes to pain. There must be hundreds of millions of people worldwide that take both Aspirin and Ibuprofen and maybe research professionals will figure out a way where folks don't have to give up the pain relief of Ibuprofen just to get the heart benefits of Aspirin.

This new study isn’t totally conclusive but it does add to research studies, which have already been done that point to the same kinds of problems between Aspirin and Ibuprofen. I’ve said for years that Aspirin is some kind of miracle drug because study after study shows that it is not only good for the heart, but there are several different kinds of cancer which show reduced instances in folks who take an Aspirin per day. Some studies also show that some people have reduced risk of stroke if Aspirin is part of their daily regiment. If left with the choice of living with headaches and some back pain, I think I would just bear that pain to keep the potentially life saving benefits of Aspirin. Hopefully, my decision won’t eventually come down to one or the other of these medications. I hope in the future that it will be proven science that a person can take one Aspirin per day and still get its benefits without totally giving up Ibuprofen.

Another problem with taking too much Aspirin for me is that I get ringing in my ears. It doesn’t take much either for this to be noticeable for me. If I only take five or six Aspirin per day, there is a noticeable increase in that ringing sound which is very annoying. The good news is that I don’t get that ringing in the ears, if I only take one 325 MG tablet of Aspirin per day. I have heard of other folks who have also had ringing in the ear problem when taking too much Aspirin, so I know it’s quite common. This is another reason I would prefer to take Ibuprofen for pain and Aspirin for heart benefits. I believe both of these medications are good, but for entirely different health problems. Hopefully, some researchers are looking for a sure fire way that people, like myself, are able to take both Aspirin and Ibuprofen on a daily basis without the two medications conflicting with each other.

Related: Life After Stroke, Uncle Suffered Stroke, Sharon Near Death, Pain Reliever Issues, Stroke Scares Family

Aspirin Ibuprofen Study

Republicans Will Just Stay Home On Election Day

The secret to a long term, "better" Republican Party is for the rank and file to "Just Stay Home" this November. I know what I'm saying here goes against what most of us have thought was our "duty" as American citizens and that is to vote every time the polls are open. However, the truth is "just staying home" isn't unpatriotic, but a right we all enjoy as citizens of this country.

What happens if we "disenfranchised" Republicans stay home? Well, first the Democrats are going to win in November, but they will win without any kind of mandate from the people. There is nothing wrong with this because it is what has to happen for our Republican Party to get some fresh blood and new leadership in Washington.

Our current leadership structure has failed us badly and that fact has been clear in public opinion polls and how we all feel about the leaders of our party. The real truth is that we will never get new leaders with a better vision of the country unless we find a way to throw out the old ones who got us into this mess to begin with. People in power will not ever admit failure, so the people must remove them from office so a new group of leaders can emerge. This has happened for generations in our country and that's what has to happen again.

The current Republican leadership in DC will do everything in their power to make you want to go to the polls to oppose Democratic leadership. They have done this successfully in the past and they think they can do it again in 2006. We must all be strong and stick to our guns if we are to rebuild the Republican Party to what it was before this latest bunch took over control.

The sad thing is that all of us will have to live with Democratic control of Congress for a few years in the process. Most of us are old enough to know how this feels and it's not a good feeling at all. However, it must be done to get rid of the folks who are so entrenched in power right now that the only way to get rid of them is to cause their defeat at the polls.

The real truth in politics is that which ever party gets their rank and file to the polls the most, wins! It's totally unrealistic to expect rank and file Republicans to vote for Democrats just like it is unrealistic for liberal Democrats to vote for Republicans. However, if just a few percent of the party faithful refuse to exercise their constitutional right to vote on election day, the other party will win without the other parties voter supporting the opposition.

I'm one of those kind of people that want to vote every time the doors are open. However, in the times we are living in today the right decision is NOT TO VOTE, if you're going to keep the same people in power that have brought our country to this place in history. A non-vote for your party will do the trick and you never have to say to anyone else that you voted for a Democrat.

The folks in charge at the White House and in Congress know this fact all too well and they will run TV commercials to try and angry you to the polls so they can win even when they have not done their job properly. This upcoming November election would be a good time for Republican voters to stay home. This will be your patriotic duty so new leaders can emerge and lead our party into the future and get us out of this dead end path which the current Republican leadership has put our country into for the past few years.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Barbaro Recovering Well After Breaking Leg

It was good news when earlier today doctors in Pennsylvania said that racehorse "Barbaro" survived an all day surgery after breaking one of his hind legs in three places at the start of the Preakness Stakes on Saturday. My wife and I watch in horror as this beautiful and proud horse was pulled up just as the race began.

While neither of us are big beaters on the pony’s, we love to watch horse racing and my wife just loves horses, period. Right before the accident we were sitting on our couch and talking about how "Barbaro" seemed to be playing around with other horses right before the race. We saw him doing the same kind of thing at the "Kentucky Derby" just a few weeks earlier. Whether a person was supporting "Barbaro" or not, what happened at the Preakness on Saturday was hard to watch from a strictly human point of view.

I read in our local newspaper today that thousands of people were in tears at the race track after this accident happened and many made signs that ask for "Barbaro" not to be put down and that they would buy the horse right there on the spot if necessary. I must admit I had these same emotions watching "Barbaro's" jockey, "Edgar Prado", stop the horse gently after he broke his leg and completely fell into tears once he got some help to the track calming "Barbaro" down.

People often say that the breeding of horses is a sport for the rich and famous. Most likely this is because of the tremendous amount of money that is necessary in the breeding, raising and racing of horses. It wasn't that long ago when I saw a movie called "Dreamer" where a horse in a similar situation was saved from death at the last minute by his trainer. That heart-warming movie was going through my mind in the minutes after this tragic accident in Maryland on Saturday.

There are people who think that too much is being made of worrying about an animal like a horse. I guess the old saying is true that there are animal people and then there are folks with no heart. I may not raise horses, but they are one of Gods great creatures and what makes them so special to me is that each horse seems to have a unique personality, just like human beings do.

I will hope and pray for a speedy recover of "Barbaro" and while doctors give him only a 50/50 change of ultimate survival; his odds are still greater than if his owner decided to put him down on that racetrack Saturday afternoon.

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

Americans Are Trying To Solving Sleep Problems

The newest topic on many television news broadcasts, recently, are about how much trouble many Americans have getting a good night sleep these days. I can relate to this subject because I, too, have trouble getting a good night of sleep. I have had trouble getting to sleep ever since I was a young boy. My thinking has always been that sleep evades me because I can’t seem to get my mind to slow down when I get ready to get some sleep. Most of the day and night my mind is running in overdrive thinking about issues and problems of the day.

There are many techniques experts have recommended to me over the years such as turning off the television and computer at least one hour before I go to bed. I’ve tried those techniques without much success to date. Other experts have suggested that I not eat two or three hours before bed and/or give up caffeine drinks entirely. I’ve tried these tips too, but they don’t work for me either. As I’ve aged I have just accepted the fact that I’m not going to get a full eight hours of sleep at night without the aid of some kind of medication.

Over the years I have turned to my family doctor for prescriptions to help me sleep when it is absolutely necessary because of events or circumstances. The last time was about five years ago when my father way dying and the family had to take turns sitting with him during his final few months of life. Since everyone was working in shifts to help out, I would not have been able to do my part without at least six hours of sleep per night. My problem isn’t getting a full nights sleep once I am a sleep, it’s getting to sleep in the first place that has always been my problem.

I wish I could find a way to turn off my mind from racing through different issues and problems which I encounter each day, but nothing I try seem to work that well. There are other folks I’ve talked to that have an easy time getting to sleep, but they can’t stay asleep the entire night. Many people keep waking up over and over, dozens of times per night. In a way I’m glad I don’t have that problem because it’s so hard for me to get to sleep in the first place, I would never get back to sleep if I kept waking up all the time.

There are some folks who go to sleep clinics so doctors and other experts can wire them up to high tech machines to see what’s going on inside their brains as they are falling asleep and what is happening in the brain as they dream. I have never been to one of these clinics, but they have been recommended before. I have a feeling that I would never fall asleep in the first place with all those electrodes and wires running from my head. I would consider myself a rough sleeper because I seem to be all over the bed as the night goes along and I’m pretty sure I would rip those electrodes out at some point during my sleep test.

At least I know I’m not alone with sleep problems. The latest research I have read says that over 50% of people worldwide have some problem getting a good nights sleep. This is one time I would much prefer to be in the minority rather than the majority in a research study!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Republican Frustration Over English Only Bill

With all the problems facing the world, did you hear what the US Senate spent the day voting on Friday? They spent several hours debating and passing two different bills, which had no weight of law behind them stating that English, should be the official language in the United States. Throughout history there are periods of time when folks have talked about a “do nothing” Congress, but I’m pretty sure the one that is in power, right now, in Washington is trying to become number one on that list. The world is filled with problems right now from a “bogged down” war in Iraq to out of control illegal immigration on the border. Rather than dealing with issues that need to be addressed, the Congress of the United States is wasting valuable time debating stuff like making English the official language of the US.

I live in Texas and there are few places more Republican and/or conservative than this state. People I talk to on a daily bases can’t believe what has happened to our Republican Party over the past couple of years and many of us are so disappointed that our party leaders can’t seem to lead anymore. Most Republican members of Congress have spent the past two or three years following President Bush around like a little “puppy dog” approving everything he wanted done and now they don’t seem to have a clue how to think for themselves and take care of the countries business. Now that President Bush’s public approval ratings are hovering around those of former President Nixon, most major polls show a major “house cleaning” coming to the Nations Capital in November.

The major media and now even President Bush believe the only reason the public is so upset with folks in Washington is because of the war in Iraq. There is no doubt that the war has caused President Bush problems. However, the war isn’t the only issue and the national media does everyone a disservice when they try and put everyone together so they can have just one reason why President Bush and Republicans in Congress have lost the faith of the American people. To me, the main reason I have lost faith in the Republican Party isn’t because of the War in Iraq, but because party leaders have sold out to the small “Conservative Christian” fringe of the party and have ignored everything else Republicans have believed in for generations.

Republican use to stand for smaller government and less government spending. However, today our own Republican leaders in Congress have spent money they don’t have like a bunch of “drunken sailors”. Pork spending is completely out of control with most Members of Congress putting in their requests for free money for their districts while at the same time they can’t even balance the federal budget. Another issue that is important is the border control one where thousands of people are entering the US illegally each day and no one in Washington wants to do anything about it. The truth is Republican leaders have put off dealing with this problem for years and just like any major issue the problem only gets worse with time and now it has become a crisis which no one in DC wants to deal with.

President Bush gave some interviews to network news reporters a few days ago when he visited the US/Mexico border in Yuma Arizona. When asked by one reporter why he thought he was losing favor with his party and most Americans, President Bush said it was because of the war, but he was still certain that going to war was the right thing for the people of the United States. I’ve given up hope that the President is going to be a mainstream Republican because I don’t think he ever was one down deep inside his soul. He’s a “big business” Republican just like Nelson Rockefeller with “social conservative" convictions. While many party members, like myself, had hoped President Bush would have followed in the footsteps of Ronald Reagan. That was not meant to be and once again the Republican Party will have to be rebuilt, from the ground up, now that our leaders have lost the faith of the American people once again.

Related: Dead Immigration Reform, Right Wing Politics, Changes In Congress, Rudy Takes Lead, Church State Issues, Bush Fight Back

Republican Frustration

Friday, May 19, 2006

Concerned About Rudy Giuliani Campaigning For Ralph Reed

I really don’t know what to make of the recent trip by Rudy Giuliani to Georgia to help in the election campaign of Ralph Reed who is running for Lieutenant Governor. More than likely, Giuliani is trying to win favor with Christian Conservatives he will need if he seeks the Republican nomination for President in 2008. I personally think Rudy can win the general election, hands down, if he can just get past the primary season, which is dominated by Christian Conservative voters. The small voter turnout for presidential primaries in both the Republican and Democratic parties are the main reason so many ideological candidates get elected in the general election for President.

In recent years it has been the Republican Party, which has strayed too far, in one political direction. However, the Democrats have the exact same problem when it comes to straying too far left in their primaries, too. I guess there are two possible ways to solve this problem and neither one appears to be likely at this stage of the political game. One way to solve it would be for more moderate mainstream voters to turn out in Republican and Democratic primaries. I don’t think this is likely to happen anytime soon. The other way is for a viable third party to be formed which represents the views of most moderate voters. This too is very unlikely to happen at this time.

Unfortunately, the United States seems to be caught in some kind of “political loop” right now where neither major political party represents the majority of the population. This has been going on for decades and I had hoped that Rudy Giuliani would help the country by offering a real moderate candidate to the country come November 2008. However, I’m starting to lose hope in Giuliani because of his overtures to the religious right in Georgia. Maybe I’m just over reacting to this recent visit and Rudy will keep his middle of the road views if he decides to run for President of the United States. The way things stand right now, there won’t be an honest moderate choice for President in 2008 if that race is between McCain and Clinton.

Many folks believe that McCain is a moderate, but he has already sold his soul to the political right when he changed his long-standing views on some issues to suit Jerry Falwell. I’m a Christian, but not a Christian Conservative ideological voter. I have big problems with religion and politics getting mixed together. We have been seeing that mix play out over the past few years in Washington and in my view it’s been a total failure when it comes to doing the right thing in a democracy. People should not put politics into their churches and Christians should not mix their faith into government. History has proven that this never works for long, but that fact does not stop some church leaders from trying a failed strategy over and over again.

I still like Rudy Giuliani and I hope he eventually decides to run for President of the United States. My personal preference would be for him to run as an Independent. However, that strategy does involve a great deal of risk and might not offer him as good of a chance at victory as running as a Republican. It would be nice to have an “Independent Party President” in this country. That would help control the two extreme sides of politics, which will dominate the Congress in the years to come from either the far right or far left.

Related: Presidential Horse Race

Concerned About Giuliani

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Bush In Yuma Arizona To Beef Up Border Security

President Bush made a trip to Yuma Arizona today to talk about his plan to beef up security along the US Mexico border. While most local folks were polite to the President, down deep inside they are very frustrated with his lack of action in securing US borders. I live in Texas, which is another state, which shares a long and mainly unprotected border with Mexico. People down here have been frustrated with the Bush administrations efforts for a long time, but it’s only been in the past few months that the rest of the country has caught up with what has really been happening.

Part of the reason President Bush has lost the trust of the American people is because he has not treated this border issue with concern. For years, the President has talked about national security and how keeping the country safe is the number one goal of his administration. It’s impossible to convince people that national security is your number one goal when you do nothing to secure the borders of your own country. The truth is that the current border situation is a good thing for US businesses and those same businesses contribute most of the money to GOP candidates. President Bush has been on the wrong side of this issue for too long and I don’t think he’s going to enjoy the trust of most Americans, again.

I still personally like President Bush, but he’s on the wrong track with so many issues that I can support his policies anymore, even if I like the man personally. It must be difficult to buck big money interests when their goals conflict with what most voters desire to see. However, when it comes to the national security interests of the country, the President should put the interests of safety ahead of any special interest group, even if they give millions of dollars per year to your political party. I know the Supreme Court has ruled that forbidding campaign contributions is against free speech, but the truth is all this money going to politicians is clouding their judgment when it comes to issues which are important to US security.

President Bush’s trip to Yuma today will be forgotten by the weekend because no one really believes that he wants to stop illegal immigration into the United States. I don’t believe his intentions are pure on this issue and I’m a lifelong Republican. I’m with the folks who want to secure the border first and then deal with the 11 million illegal residence who are living and working in the US right now. I don’t want them all deported and I do believe all human beings should be treated humanely. However, how can you deal with the issues of these 11 million folks without first putting a stop to more illegal’s crossing the US border every single day? It’s not going to be easy or cheap to secure the US/Mexico border, but it needs to be done either by this Congress and President or the next.

I’ve pretty much given up hope that President Bush and this current Congress will do anything about this touchy issue and with this being an election year, it’s more likely than not to be impossible for anything resembling a good and fair law getting passed in DC.

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

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Microsoft Vista Challenges Google In Search Dominance

In the future I see a major battle brewing between Google and Microsoft in the battle for search engine dominance. To date, Google has been the winner hands down, but something new is going to happen early next year which could change the fortunes of Google and Microsoft in the years to come. Sometime in the first or second quarter of 2007, Microsoft will release its new operating system called “Vista” and within the past couple of weeks government regulators have said that it is ok for Microsoft to have the default browser in that operating system point to it’s own search engine.

This news was music to the ears of Microsoft and probably sent terror through the minds of their competitors over at Google. Why? Because most casual Internet users don’t pick a search engine, they just use what ever their browser or ISP provides as default. When Microsoft “Vista” is released next year, hundreds of millions of copies of that OS will be sold in a matter of weeks. Not to mention that 99% of all new computers sold will have that OS pre-loaded onto them with this new Windows browser included in the software. The decision by the US government to allow Microsoft to set up this new OS and browser with the default search set to MSN will help their marketing efforts tremendously.

There is a problem for Microsoft and I believe they are in the process of fixing it right now. They are years behind Google in search technology and relevance of the search results which are provided. The Internet is a huge place and it is growing by millions of pages every single day. The only way to spider the contents of the Internet and keep those contents current is with the passage of time and Google has a huge head start on Microsoft when it comes to this issue of time. However, with Microsoft recently stating that they are going to open up their checkbooks in an effort to give Google a run for its money in the search engine world, anything is possible even with a short time window between now and early next year.

This advantage of having a companies search engine set as the default for hundreds of millions of Internet users does have a flaw. That flaw is that if Microsoft, via MSN, can’t get their relevancy of searches equal to Google by this time next year; then all of this advantage will fade away. At that point users of the new “Vista” OS will learn how to change their default search settings and go back to Google. However, if Microsoft gets MSN Search fixed by early next year then they could become as big as Google in total daily searches conducted. The reason the number of searches is important is because most search queries include little advertisements on the search page. These ads can produce millions of dollars for the Search Company and the more searches people do each day the more potential revenue, which could be generated.

Over the past couple of weeks I believe there have been some positive changes over at MSN search and I think these changes are directly related to the future release of “Vista”. People have learned to hate Microsoft over the years because they are so big and control so much of the software market. However when it comes to Internet searches they are playing “catch-up” to Google and this looks to be a very nasty battle between these two companies in the next year. The good news is the consumer will benefit from this increased competition and will have a choice between two major search engines when they searching the ever-growing web.

Mexico Suing U.S. Over National Guard Troops On Border

I heard last night that Mexico is threatening to sue the United States because we are putting National Guard troops on the border. Only in America can a nation be sued for trying to stop illegal immigration. I’ve said before and I’ll say again that President Fox of Mexico isn’t a friend of the United States. He is only interested in the economy of his own country. I think that attitude is just fine, but when he believes the US should help him improve his economy by allowing and aiding his own citizens to break our laws, then there is definitely something wrong with that attitude.

This whole mess started when newly elected President Bush met with President Fox of Mexico before any other world leader. In fact, their meeting took place only a few months after President Bush took the oath of office. President Bush made it clear from the very beginning of his administration that Mexico was very important to the United States and President Fox has taken that commitment to friendship from President Bush and rammed it right down the throats of the American people. Now the US is being bombarded by illegal folks crossing our boarders each day and doing so with the aid and encouragement of the President of Mexico.

The type of friendship that President Bush desired with Mexico was a good idea, but has actions doomed the whole situation from the beginning. Any friendship is a two way street and this bond between President Bush and President Fox has been one way from the very beginning. The only reason I can think of for President Bush to enter into this kind of friendship, is one of a political nature because he is trying to encourage Mexican Americans to become Republicans instead of Democrats. However, this isn’t going to work.

Legal Mexican Americans don’t vote as a block and there isn’t another group of Americans who are more interested in hard work and playing by the rules more than Mexican Americans. Most legal residents in the US believe what these border breakers are doing is wrong and they are smart enough to figure out that President Bush is just pandering for their votes. The whole Bush border policy appears to be nothing more than pandering and legal Mexican Americans know what that looks like. Anytime a politician makes government judgment solely based on political calculations, it will backfire just like this one by President Bush. Now most of the anger about illegal immigration is coming from President Bush’s own Republican party members and so far he is pretty much ignoring them in favor of the wrong headed policy he first started and refuses to change.

This immigration problem is just another example of why being a “flip floppper” isn’t always a bad thing. It’s always worse to stick with a bad position than it is to change once a wrong decision has been discovered. However, President Bush and many Republicans have made such a big deal out of Democrats changing their minds that it would be political suicide for them to now change ideas in mid stream. Sometimes a political line comes back to haunt the person who started it and that old “flip flop” line from the Republicans in the last presidential election is preventing many in the Republican Party from making changes which would be in the best interest of the United States.

Related: Dead Immigration Reform

Mexico Suing US

Looking Forward To 'Armageddon' 10.5 Movie Weekend

This weekend, NBC is going to offer another episode in its 10.5 series called “Armageddon”. While some folks take these movies way too seriously, I on the other hand love to watch disaster movies. In fact I’ve loved watching most of them all the way back to “The Towering Inferno” when I was a young boy. Maybe it's because I don’t take these movies that seriously is the reason I enjoy watching them so much. I guess my wife and I are strange, but we end up laughing at some of the silly special effects and enjoy a story line that could only be believed in Hollywood.

I think when the first 10.5 movie was on television a few years ago it drew a very large audience and I expect this new movie will be a ratings winner, as well. Years ago, at least one of the major broadcast networks had a movie on Sunday night. However, as the years have gone by, they have changed their Sunday night format to include more regular dramas rather than movies. I much prefer a good movie on Sunday night than regular network programming and when it’s an original movie like “10.5 Armageddon” so much the better.

I hope that in the near future one of the major broadcast networks will start offering a good movie on their Sunday night line-up, again. The movie doesn’t have to be original; just something to help conclude the weekend before a busy Monday starts once again. During the fall season, NBC is going to be showing NFL Football on Sunday night. I think a good movie each weekend might do well in the ratings on ABC or CBS against an NFL Football game. Maybe one of those two networks will give Sunday Night Movies a try once again.

In the mean time my wife and I will enjoy watch this new 10.5 earthquake movie on Sunday night. I don’t know for sure yet, but more than likely it will last at least a couple of weeks. My guess is that these types of movies cost so much to produce that a network must drag them out over several nights just to recover their production costs. However, that’s fine with me because I’d rather have them drag out with more commercials than to not have them at all.

Crash Video Released Of 911 Pentagon Attack

The US Pentagon release the full video today of the jet aircraft that crashed into their building on September 11th, 2001. To be honest, I could not tell any difference in the full video from the few still photos they release in 2001. This video was release because someone filed a “freedom of information request” to the government and got that request fulfilled just yesterday. I wasn’t aware until recently that there are tons of conspiracy theories floating around about what really happened on 911 at the Pentagon and the release of this video today was design to quash many of those off-the-wall theories.

What is behind most conspiracy theories is government secrecy. While many secrets are necessary to protest national security, others are just done to protect decisions, which are made at the highest levels of government. This whole Pentagon mess could have been cleared up years ago by the release of this full videotape. However, the need to keep everything a secret has caused a non-news story to become a conspiracy theory. The trick to being an effective leader in government is knowing when something really should be kept secret and knowing when it should be released ASAP to prevent this kind of thing from growing a life of its own.

A lot of people died that day when this plane crashed into the Pentagon and their memories should not be diminished by trying to cover-up something which didn’t need to be covered up in the first place. What harm would it have done to release this tape right away to the news media? None, in my view because there was nothing to hide in the first place. However, not releasing it cause people to wonder if the US government was somehow lying to them about what really happened and that uncertainty in the American people is something political and military leaders should avoid at all costs.

Secrecy in business or in government should only be done when there is a definite issue, which might jeopardize the company or government interests. When secrets are kept just so some insecure folks can say they know something that no one else knows, it is wrong and should be resisted. After JFK was killed in Dallas, the government went into full secrecy mode and there are still millions of people who don’t believe the official government investigations into that terrible day almost 50 years later. I sometimes ask myself if we humans ever are able to learn from our mistakes. When I see a situation develop like what happened at the Pentagon I don’t think so. There is such a need in some humans to know something no one else does that this type of situation keeps repeating itself over and over again throughout history.

There are secrets that need to be kept and there is information that needs to be made public as soon as possible. The real hard work is knowing the difference and not creating problems that would not have existed if the free flow of information was not impeded by some bureaucrat who just wanted to stamp “classified” on a document or video when it was not necessary.

Read more: Fear, Comair, Accidents, Seaplane, Memorial

Crash Video Released

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Tone Deaf GOP Politicians In Congress

How bad does the polling news have to get before Republicans in DC start taking notice? My guess is the new polling which has been released in the last few days will move many in the GOP to abandon President Bush and start trying to repair relationships with the rank and file back home. Many of those disenchanted Republicans, like myself, are so fed up with this group of Republican Congressmen we could just scream. For too long they have just been following President Bush like some kind of sick groupie at a rock concert and now they are finding out that they should have had a mind of their own, all along.

To me it’s way too late for the current group of Republican Congressional leaders to try and mend fences. Millions of rank and file Republicans have been calling, writing and emailing to the point of exhaustion to our elected representative and only got canned replies on how they are following the party line when it comes to important issue. Well, the party line is broken and this current group of representatives doesn’t have any credibility left when it comes to the folks who sent them to Washington in the first place. Unfortunately, most of them must be voted out of office in November so the party can make a fresh start of it.

I’ve written many times about my belief that the Republican Party has made too wide of a swing to the far right and left everyone else behind. All the way back to the Terri Schiavo case, Republicans have told their leaders that they were on the wrong track. However, each and every time these leaders refuse to listen to the majority of Republican voters and have decided instead to stick with the far right wing of the party, which is only a small minority in a general election, but hold great power in the primaries. The Democrats have followed this dead end road before, too with their far left wing and for the past ten years or so they have been trying to find a way back into the hearts of the moderate voters who are the vast majority in general elections.

No matter how many bad things President Bush does, the American people still want to believe in him and give him another chance. This was proven yesterday when regular folks who watched his Monday night address to the nation gave him high marks. For President Bush it’s not what he says in speeches that causes him the most problems, but the follow through and his heart felt far right ideological opinions which eventually turn ordinary Americans against his policies. I don’t trust what President Bush is current doing, but I still like the man personally. I think I’m not alone in that belief and it would serve the Democrats well not to turn nasty against President Bush in this off year election season.

To me President Bush is like a son or daughter who has gone astray. A good parent will always take them back in no matter how much pain and anguish they have caused in the past. No one wants to ever give up on a person they once believe in and that is why President Bush still has a chance with the American people. However, he is definitely going to have to change his ways or the people who once supported him with their votes and contributions will eventually start fading away and not returning again. Unlike a child, the President of the United States doesn’t get forgiven for a lifetime when it comes to bad judgements.

People Liked President Bush's Immigration Speech

A CNN “snap poll” shows that most Americans were happy with the live address made by President Bush last night. However, those numbers will fade fast if there are no actions behind his words. Everyone knows that something must be done about border security with Mexico, but no one has found a way to convince a clear majority of Americans that their plan is best for the national security interests of the US and humane to fellow human beings at the same time.

I think President Bush’s plan is pretty good, but many in the Republican party are going to be against anything that looks like an “amnesty” law which enable people who broke the law entering this country to benefit by becoming citizens ahead of others who did it the legal way. I understand this way of thinking and from a purely logical point of view it does make a lot of sense. However, politics are not ruled by logic but by hard realistic appraisals of how people will vote on a given issue.

Despite the opinion of most Americans that people who immigrated to the United States, illegally, shouldn’t be given a smooth path to citizenship; that’s exactly what is going to happen. There are over 11 million people living in the US right now who are here illegally. While it sounds good to say the government should round them all up and deport them back to Mexico, this isn’t going to happen and quite frankly it’s not even possible. This whole issue is about money. Money being made by those who cross the border illegally and businesses who profit by having a good source of cheap labor.

The hard reality in the US is that politics are run by money as well and if folks really believe the government is going to crack down to businesses who give most of the campaign contributions to politicians in Washington, they are crazy. The current situation benefits too many people and they don’t want it stopped. While leaders in DC talk about the big benefits of “globalization” and how it will benefit Americans, they don’t really mean all Americans. They mean Americans who own businesses or stock in businesses who profit by cheap labor either inside the US or abroad.

Every few decades the people of the US get up in arms over the growing problem of illegal immigration and each time politicians say they are going to fix the problem. However, when all the dust settles nothing really gets done expect allow the lawbreakers to be rewarded with citizenship. In my gut I believe this is exactly what is going to happen again this time and unfortunately most Americans will forget this issue soon and move on to something else about the government that drives them just as crazy.

There is an old saying which applies to this situation, “big-time” and it goes something like this, “he who owns the gold makes the rules”. The people with the Gold don’t want changes to the current system, so don’t look for anything meaningful to happen when it comes to immigration reform.