Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Heroes Come In All Sizes ...

Pictured on the left is 7-yr old Alexis Goggins with her mother, Seliethia Parker.

Little Alexis, as a gunman was about to fire, leaped from the back seat of an SUV, throwing herself across her mom, crying out, "Don't hurt my mother!" Alexis was hit by six 9mm rounds, one in the right eye. Only two of the bullets got past her and into her mother.

The piece of shit gunman who shot Alexis and her mother, Calvin Tillie was the mom's ex-boyfriend and an ex-convict on parole. Tillie, who was hiding in the shadows by their apartment, jumped into the SUV after they had gotten in.

Seliethia has been released from the hospital, but little Alexis is still in critical condition and blind in one eye at Children's Hospital of Michigan, after three operations.

Ladies, consider this a public service announcement from The Blogway Boys: Be careful who you date ... especially if you have children. Remember, you may not only be endangering your own life, but the lives of your kids. At the very least, google your dates.

Please join me and my family in praying for our little hero, Alexis.

And for Calvin Tillie ... may he burn in hell.

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Friday, December 14, 2007

Be Afraid ... Be Very Afraid

Yesterday, I listened to the Democrats debate in Iowa on the radio. I almost couldn't believe what I was hearing and thought ... no wait ... I must have heard that wrong, or maybe I got it out of context. So this morning I have been sifting through the transcripts ... and sure enough, I heard them right ... now I am more than worried for our country ... I am downright scared.
I did indeed hear Senator Biden say that he would pay for his social programs by increasing taxes by $200 billion dollars, bringing home the troops from Iraq and cutting military spending by eliminating wasteful programs like the F-22 Raptor (the US Air Force air superiority fighter that is replacing the F-15 Eagle which has been in service since 1972. This aircraft has stealth technology and can be used as a fighter, a bomber, electronic warfare or signals intelligence as well), the Nimitz class destroyer (the US Navy has a Nimitz class nuclear powered carrier, but I know of now destroyer with that nomenclature. Then again Biden is a senator and I am a lowly blogger. Still I think he may have been thinking of the Arleigh Burke class destroyer which is an Aegis guided missile destroyer and essential in the defense of our carriers.) and "Star Wars" (after all, why would we want an anti-missile defense shield).
Yes indeed, every one of the Democratic candidates promised to close the terrorist detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba ... but not one of them mentioned what they would do with the 400 plus terrorists that are there now. Will they just release them? Perhaps bring them to the United States and put them into the federal prison system where they will spread their militant brand of Islam among all the "born-again" Muslim convicts ... that would be pretty stupid.
Every single one of the candidates, would "rescind some of the Bush tax cuts" which is just liberal-speak for increase taxes. These folks often talk about how the "rich" don't pay their fair share, but they don't ever say what they consider rich. I fear that if you have a decent job, you are rich in the eyes of these candidates.
Each one of them wants to cut subsidies to big business ... o-kay, at least one thing that I can agree with them on. You and I should not be forced to subsidize multi-billion dollar companies with our taxes, and if these companies have off-shore accounts, I'm sorry but those accounts should be taxed ... and taxed at a higher rate than if they had kept their money here at home. I firmly believe that a healthy economy depends on independent business, but I also believe in an even playing field. Most of these tax breaks and subsidies are a result of successful lobbying in Washington, and I am sick of politicians selling out to lobbyists.
In summing things up, it is interesting to note that the candidates mentioned the word tax or taxes 31 times, and except for one mention by the moderator didn't mention terrorist or terrorism once. While education was mentioned 29 times by the candidates, national defense wasn't discussed at all. Health care was used 28 times but Iran was the furthest thing from their minds. This speaks volumes as to what will happen if one of these clowns are elected to our highest office. We will have lots of social programs till we are attacked again ... too bad our military will still be using antiquated weapons ... God Bless America ... we are going to need it.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

For Shame Reverend Huckabee

It seems that an article, due to be published in the New York Times Magazine this Sunday, Republican Presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, and ordained Southern Baptist Minister, asks, "Don't Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?"

For years, this question has been raised by people who want to smear the Mormon faith. For Mike Huckabee to be asking it now is a testament to how the prospect of presidential power can corrupt even a good-hearted soul. It also raises another huge question in the minds of the electorate. Is Mike Huckabee another one of the far-right religious wackos. While Huckabee is perhaps cementing his standing with the religious right that makes up about 40% of the conservative base, he is ruining his chances in the general election.

But where does this misconception about Mormonism come from? During 2 hours of intense research along with a couple of games of free cell I have found nothing in the tenets of the LDS doctrine to support this misconception. The Encyclopedia of Mormonism makes no reference to Jesus and Satan being brothers ... It says that Jesus was the son of God and Satan is a fallen angel. This jibes with my Catholic upbringing ... and probably with all Christian faiths. The only place I could find was in the writings of Paul who said, "God is the father of all". This meant that all of God's creation were his spiritual children ... but then again, that was in the New Testament and not the Book of Mormon. No, statements like the one being published on Sunday are for the express purpose of relegating Mormonism to cult status and not a religion.

Have no doubts, the Democrats would love for Huckabee to be the Republican nominee ... they consider him to be the easiest candidate to destroy next November. Personally, I was always uneasy about having a fundamentalist christian as President ... my gut feeling has now been confirmed. I am truly disappointed in Huckabee.

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Saturday, December 8, 2007

Must See TV

Been super busy at work ... hopefully I will be able to visit everyone next week. In the meantime, enjoy this video ... I know I did.

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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Will Justice Finally Be Served?

The appeal of the conviction of former border patrol agents, Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos is now in its' second day. If today goes as well as yesterday, these men should soon be free.

This is a local (El Paso) story that has gotten some play nationwide, but for those of you who are unaware of the story ... a quick re-cap is in order.

On February 17th, 2005, border patrol agents Compean and Ramos intercepted a vehicle with 750 pounds of marijuana near Fabens, TX (just outside of El Paso). The driver, Osvaldo Aldrete Davila, a citizen of Mexico, ran from the vehicle and started running across the Rio Grande (the border). According to the border patrol agents, Aldrete-Davila turned, holding something shiney in his hand, and they opened fire, striking the drug smuggler in the buttocks. Aldrete-Davila continued running across the border and escaped capture. The agents, violating policy, picked up the shell casings and did not report the shooting (probably to avoid paperwork and the temporary desk duty till the shooting investigation is closed). Somehow, Johnny Sutton, the US district attorney for the El Paso area found out about the incident and started an investigation. He offered the drug smuggler immunity for his testimony against the officers and convicted the two agents, sending them to jail for 11 and 12 years. Failure to report the discharge of a weapon is subject to administrative punishment under the Border Patrol's usual procedures and these sentences were extreme, especially since it came down to whether the jury believed the agents or a drug smuggler. Problem is that the jury was not allowed to know about the drug smuggling that went on that day or a couple of months later when Aldrete-Davila was again caught smuggling drugs.

The two border patrol agents have been serving their sentences in solitary confinement after Ignacio Ramos was severely beaten by five illegal aliens in prison. Twenty-three hours a day in a small cell, with one hour a day that they can walk in the yard or watch TV.

Congressman Sylvester Reyes (D-TX), the former head of the El Paso Sector of the Border Patrol, instead of standing up for the agents, decided to side with the drug smuggler and it required Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) to stand up for the agent, sending a letter to the President, signed by 50 lawmakers, asking for a pardon for the two agents. Rep Rohrabacher makes the case that since these two are in solitary, they are receiving worse treatment than we give to the terrorists at Gitmo (Guantanamo Bay, Cuba). President Bush, to his shame, has not acted upon this letter.

Back to the present. Federal prosecuters have admitted that Aldrete-Davila lied during the trial. "He told some lies on the stand," Mark Stelmach, the assistant U.S. attorney representing prosecutor U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton said under questioning by a three-judge 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel in New Orleans. In addition, the questioning by the judges seemed to point to a victory for the agents. Judge Patrick Errol Higgenbotham questioned Stelmach closely about why the prosecution had sought to seal from the jury information about a second smuggling attempt by Aldrete-Davila after Sutton's office gave him immunity and a border pass.

The judge also said it defied common sense to believe that Aldrete-Davila was a lowly mule, as he represented at trial and not an actual player in the world of the drug cartels. Which of course makes it more likely that he had a gun.

Hopefully today is as good as yesterday and these two men can be released quickly ... but who will give them their lives back again? One step at a time I guess.

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Monday, December 3, 2007

Don't Celebrate Yet

El Presidente Hugo Chavez lost in a referendum election to change the Venezuelan Constitution and allow him to run for a third term, eliminating term limits completely. The referendum would also have allowed him to suspend the constitution whenever he felt like it. In order to garner support, the referendum also would have shortened the work-day to 6 hours and would have given pensions to street vendors and housewives.

The referendum was defeated 51% to 49% and Chavez quickly called admitted defeat and called for calm ... earning him some statesmanship points. He had promised last week to cut off oil to the United States if the referendum passed and the US objected to the outcome of the election, so I was wondering what would happen if he lost.

But do not pop the champagne corks yet, Chavez will still be in power till 2010. In that time, I'm sure that this referendum will once again (maybe twice or thrice) rear its' ugly head. It only needs to be passed one time for the possibility of a President for life. Chavez has pledged to find another way to pass his reform plans.

But for now, we can take solace in the fact that 51% of Venezuelans don't want to give up democracy. I'm thinking that it is probably a bigger number ... but Chavez underestimated how much he had to stuff the ballot box in order to win.

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Saturday, December 1, 2007

CAFE Standards And Other Assorted Energy Stuff

An agreement among Congressional Democrats has paved the way for an increase in the CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) Standards of 40 percent to 35 miles per gallon by 2020. As a person working in the auto industry, I have always been a firm believer in letting the market dictate what kind of vehicles the consumer buys. But I am going to shock everyone by actually supporting this increase. Here are my reasons why:

  1. The United States needs to decrease its' dependence on foreign oil, and this will save over a million barrels a day.
  2. A million barrels a day at $96 a barrel equals $3.5 billion a year of our cash that we don't put into the pockets of Hugo Chavez, Armagedonijihad et al.
  3. There is enough time for our auto companies to work out the technology to accomplish this feat. In fact, with the fuel cell and advanced dual-mode hybrid technologies that General Motors is already putting into production, 40 miles per gallon is not too far away.

My problem is in a couple of other parts of this energy bill.

This bill mandates a seven-fold increase in the production of ethanol for use as a motor fuel. Are they nuts? We currently subsidize ethanol to the tune of $1.45 per gallon. With the new requirement to produce 36 billion gallons of ethanol a year by 2022, subsidies would amount to almost $54 billion of our tax dollars. We are already seeing an increase in the price of corn and meat (corn is a staple in most animal feed). With the increased farm land that would have to be dedicated to corn production, we will also see an increase in just about every farm product.

Another part of this legislation that sticks in my craw is the requirement for non-public electric utilities to produce at least 15 percent of their power from renewable energy sources like wind and solar power. I can understand the desire to slow down our use of coal. Even if you don't believe in global warming, spewing all that crap into the air just can't be good. But unless they consider the atom a renewable energy source, they aren't attempting to use the cleanest energy available.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Why Won't He Listen?

I was overcome with the desire to steal this cartoon from

Now that confession time is over ... have you heard the latest stupidity to come out of Hugo Chavez's mouth? El Presidente is accusing CNN of instigating his murder. Chavez has called for a probe by the Venezuela State Prosecutor and is considering a civil case against the company.

This all began when, during a CNN news broadcast, a picture of Chavez was shown with the caption "Who killed him?" written below. The caption was supposed to go with a picture of a dead football star, but during a production error (or as a result of a production assistant with a great sense of humor), the captions apparently got switched. The picture was taken down after a few seconds when the news anchor realized the error.

Well, at least we now know where Hugo Chavez gets his news. Besides El Presidente's insanity, why would he make such an idiotic claim? Well, it seems that the US government has been ignoring his statements recently, and his attacks on the King of Spain have back-fired ... so he needs somebody new to attack. An election battle is fast approaching on a referendum to allow Chavez to run for re-election indefinitely, and polls have the race at a dead heat. History has shown that whenever an election is approaching ... Chavez attacks someone to distract voters from what he is doing burnish his Nationalistic credentials.

In a related subject, the most popular ring-tone in Spain is now a recording of Spanish King, Juan Carlos yelling at Chavez, "Porque no te callas?" or "Why don't you shut up?" So far the ring-tone has made 1.5 million euros ($2.2 million), and coffee cups and t-shirt sales with the saying are really taking off.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

When Passion and Common Sense Clash...

With all the things that are going on around the world today ... I am writing about a teddy bear. After all, the newest round in the Mid-east peace talks is starting up ... In Pakistan, President Musharref is stepping down as head of the Army ... Iran has just announced it has a new missile with a range of 1200 miles ... and in the world of higher education, Montclair State University has made it mandatory for students to carry "school issued" cell phones with GPS tracking devices (costing the students $500.00 a year). So, with all this news (most of which pisses me off), why would a teddy bear win the honor of being the most screwed-up news in the world today? Well folks, it's a tale of stupidity on the part of ALL of the parties involved, and just contributes to increased animosity and downright hatred between the Muslim and Western worlds. Here is the story:

A British primary school teacher has been arrested in Sudan for insulting the Prophet Mohammed. Gillian Gibbons a 54 year old teacher from Liverpool is facing a maximum punishment of 40 lashes, 6 months in jail and a fine for naming a teddy bear Mohammed. Gibbons was following a British national curriculum designed to teach children about animals and their natural habitats. This year the animal was the bear. A student brought in a teddy bear as part of the project and Ms Gibbons allowed the 7-yr olds in her class to vote for their favorite name for the bear. Twenty out of the twenty-three kids voted for the name Mohammed. Some parents took offense and the result was her arrest.

Here is the shared stupidity portion of this story. The British government, as well as the administration of the Unity school should have briefed Ms Gibbons on local customs before she was ever allowed to teach in a school in an Islamic country. The Koran has many references to what is considered idolatry and insult to Islam, and both entities were derelict in their duties to inform this teacher about what could get her into trouble. Ms Gibbons is an idiot for not making sure she knew about local customs before she even went to the Sudan. Most intelligent people research things before they travel to a foreign land ... especially one like Sudan. The parents of these kids need to get a life. If something offends you, what ever happened to complaining to the teacher or the school? I'm sure if they had come to Ms Gibbons she would have apologized and re-named the stupid bear. Finally, the Sudanese government needs to grow up. I realize that ignorance of the law (in this case article 125 of their criminal law) is no excuse, but their is a difference between law and justice. Sudan needs to drop this and either expel the teacher or let her apologize and keep teaching.

Meanwhile, Unity School is currently closed until at least January because they fear riots and retaliation from the community. Can anyone tell me how a little bit of stupidity can cause all this hullabaloo?

Or is the real reason because ... She taught them how to vote???

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

We Are Winning In Iraq

Wow, it has been 10 days since I last posted. I can't remember not being pissed off for this long in quite a while. Guess I was thinking about all the things I was thankful for this past Thanksgiving week (that and figuring out how we were going to cram 58 friends and family members into my house for dinner ... we managed, good thing we are a close family). While I was mulling over my blessings, I started thinking about the news from Iraq, and in particular, the lack of bad news. Liberals, cover your ears, but I think we have turned the corner and are actually winning the war in Iraq. This may be hard to digest for the portion of our elected officials that have made losing the war a priority, but for most of this nation, as well as most of the free world, this is indeed another blessing. But how did this miracle come about? Was the simple act of dumping an additional 60,000 troops into Baghdad enough to bring about this complete turn-around?

Well folks, the surge alone did not change our fortunes in Iraq, though without the additional man-power, we could not have brought about this new posture. Back in the mid-90's, New York City went back to a police policy that was in force when I was growing up in the 60's. This policy was called neighborhood policing and basically it was having dedicated neighborhood "beat-cops" walking around the community. Everyone knew the neighborhood cop. The officer that walked the beat in my neighborhood was known by all the kids as "George the Cop", and parents would introduce George to their kids and let the kids know if they ever had a problem they should go to George and he would help them. George knew all the merchants and most of the people in the neighborhood and would know if something was out of place or if there were suspicious people or events happening. Prior to this change, NYPD officers would zip around town in squad cars and only get out to write tickets or if on a call. With this change, NYC went from one of the most dangerous cities to one of the safest big cities in the world.

When General David Petraeus took over in Iraq, US soldiers would patrol during the day, zipping around in their Hummers and returning to several large bases at night. With the help of the additional "surge" forces, the General started a policy in which the soldiers set up joint forward operating bases in the communities in Baghdad. Now, the soldiers were available ... day or night ... to the Iraqi populace. It has had a calming effect on sectarian strife and the citizens of the communities are interacting with the soldiers on a daily basis. No longer is gathering intelligence an almost impossible task, the intelligence is now being communicated by civilians during the course of their daily interactions with our troops. Where in the past a concerned Iraqi, with information about a terrorist or criminal did not know where to go to pass on the information (the Iraqi police were ... and to a lesser extent still are infiltrated by sectarian extremists), now they can go to "George the GI", and let him know the information in the same way that we used to go the "George the Cop" when we were kids.

Outside of Baghdad, much the same has also taken place ... so when al-Qaeda in Iraq was driven out of Baghdad and tried to ensconce itself in the outer provinces, the local sheiks rose up against them (and that would not have happened or even been possible if the US forces had been holed up in their base camps). President al-Maliki (a Shia), has taken to walking the streets of Sunni Ramadi recently, meeting and greeting the people and finally acting like the leader we had all hoped for when he was first elected. The meaning to these Sunnis is immense. By him doing this (and let's face it ... what he is doing is risking his life), it shows them that they are a valued part of the Iraqi people ... It shows them some respect from the Shite controlled government. Now all we need is for the rest of the government to start acting like leaders and start compromising and passing much needed legislation so that Iraq can take its' place as a productive member of the global society (Unfortunately this last sentence can also be applied to the American Congress).

Yes, it looks like we are actually winning!

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

New President ... Same France

French President, Nicolas Sarkozy was elected with the mandate to bring change to the French labor laws. He told his countrymen what he was going to do to make France more competitive with other countries in the World. Among these things was a longer work week, the ability to fire newly hired employees if they were not "up to snuff" and the dissolution of "special pensions". The French signaled they were ready to change when they swept him into office by a wide margin. Now it seems that some French Unions are saying, "Ralentir (Not so fast)".

At issue are the "special pensions" enjoyed by some, but not all public sector workers. Currently, those working in jobs with these "special pensions" are able to retire at full benefits at the age of 50. President Sarkozy is pushing for a new retirement age for these workers of 52.5 years. This will bring their retirement age closer to that of the rest of the State workers. To put this in perspective, the retirement age for the US military can be as low as 37 with a 50% pension or 47 with a 75% pension. 20 and 30 year retirements are also offered in any federal law enforcement job. These are people with high-stress jobs where they put their lives on the line ... not rail workers and opera singers and actors like in France.

The good news is that most of the French populace is backing Sarkozy on this and 80% think that Sarkozy will stick to his guns and force the Union to capitulate. I hope he does, it will be good for the French people, and that is what they voted for during the last election.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

More Carter Shenanigans ...

As promised, the second installment of my, "I hate Jimmy" post has arrived. In my prior installment, I accused Mr. Peanut of being an evil, vindictive SOB that screwed up the world. In this piece, I hope to show you that he is also an anti-Semitic commie that would sell the United States down the river for a chance at power.

According to Peter Schweizer, author of the best-seller, "Reagan's War", Jimmy Carter sought the assistance of the Soviet Union in both his 1976 Presidential bid and 1980 re-election campaign. These allegations are a result of interviews with former Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin and First Deputy Foreign Minister Georgii Kornienko. In September of 1976, Carter assured the Soviets that if elected, he would take steps to rapidly conclude and sign the SALT II treaty, and would continue to negotiate an agreement on substantial reductions in strategic weapons. During his 1980 re-election campaign, he sent pro-Soviet industrialist, Armand Hammer to the Soviet embassy for a secret meeting with Ambassador Dobrynin. He asked for Soviet help with issues that would help him get re-elected, such as an increase in Jewish emigration. For their help, Carter promised that the Soviet help would not be forgotten. The British Foreign & Commonwealth Office even thought that Carter might be a Russian mole. They dispatched about 200 observers to monitor Carter's 1980 campaign against Reagan to see if the Soviets would try to buy the election for Carter. In 1984, while campaigning for Walter Mondale, Carter again asked for Soviet assistance. Carter warned the Soviets that in Reagan were re-elected there would not be another agreement on arms control as long as Reagan was in power. At least he was right on that note ... The arms race forced the collapse of the Soviet Union. With all these election shenanigans, isn't it amazing that Carter trots down to South America to monitor elections in Venezuela, giving Hugo Chavez a clean bill of health?

The previous writings are all facts. There are also unproven suspicions surrounding the Carter Presidency. These revolve around the Panama Canal, shutting off a spy satellite over Cuba as well as actually planning the takeover of the US Embassy in Iran. The Jimmy Carter Center in Atlanta, Ga still receives a lot of money from the Arab World.

According to Jimmy Carter, Israel treats the Palestinians like South Africa treated blacks during Apartheid. You don't have to believe me on this, he wrote it in his own words in his book, "Palestine Peace Not Apartheid". Then again, the man from Plains never was a big supporter of the Jewish State ... or Jews for that matter. In 1987, the US deported a man named Martin Bartesch to Austria. Seems that this animal had volunteered to be guard at the Mauthausen Concentration Camp. The US had proof that he had participated in the executions of Jewish prisoners. The adult children of this fiend went on a letter-writing campaign, trying to get special consideration for their father. One of these letters made it to Carter who scribbled a note on the upper corner of the letter, stating that he wanted "special consideration for the family for humanitarian reasons". This letter was forwarded to Neal Sher of the US Justice Department's Office of Special Investigation, the man who worked so hard to deport these pieces of crap in the first place. A copy of the letter was posted on the Internet by the New York Sun (well you just knew that it wouldn't be the New York Times), and you can see it here so where is the special consideration for the families of the millions of Jews that were gassed, burnt or worked to death by the Nazis?

Once again, how can people call George Bush the worst president ever when we have this character in our POTUS lineage?

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Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Reason Why The Mid-East Is Screwed ...

I am really tired of hearing how our 43rd President, George W Bush is the worst president in history. To find the worst one, we would only have to look back to number 39. That's right, our lovable peanut farmer from Georgia, Jimmy Carter. Folks on the left like to dwell on his intelligence and his current good works with Habitat for Humanity. Here at the Blogway Boys, we want to reveal a more sinister side of "Saint Jimmy". Yes folks, Jimmy Carter was a sneaky, conniving, vindictive S.O.B. But just don't take my word for it, let me lay out the facts.

Let's start back in 1977. The Mid-East, though never completely quiet, was a much more peaceful area than it is now. This was due to the policing efforts of the country of Iran, and seated upon the Peacock Throne was Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran. The Shah was not a perfect man, but he was westernizing his country, women did not have to wear a hideous burkha, and the education of his people was of extreme importance. Yes, he did have the SAVAK (Iranian Secret Police) that operated in much the same way as the East German STASI. But the people that the SAVAK mostly made disappear were communist agents and spies. Iran was second only to Israel in its' pro-American stance. The Shah was also busy building infrastructure.

One of the projects that the Shah was building was a huge multi-billion dollar Bandar Mahshahr port complex. The contract for this project had been awarded to Root & Brown (a subsidiary of the evil Haliburton). President Carter arranged for an audience for some of his Georgia cronies with the Shah. Carter asked the Shah as a personal favor to cancel the contract with Brown & Root and award it with a 10% mark-up to his cronies. These cronies would then charge that 10% as a management fee and have Brown & Root do the work. The Shah was informed that without their management, the project would face untold difficulties at the US end. He was told that in these perilous political times, he should appreciate the favor which Carter was doing for him. Now, this is something that I can see the leader of a Mafia family doing ... but the leader of the free world?

The Shah declined this arrangement, and Jimmy Carter began to plot. Carter subsequently refused to allow tear gas and rubber bullets to be shipped to Iran (anti-riot gear), as well as halted the shipment of water cannon vehicles. Without these "humane" methods of crowd control, the only way the government could stop riots was to fire real bullets into the crowd. The Shah made a moral decision not to order his troops to do this. His mistake was in telling the Iranian people of his decision. In a heartfelt speech to the people, he told them that he would not force his soldiers to fire into the crowds that could be their brothers, cousins and friends. The Islamists were given a get out of jail free card.

Jimmy Carter went on a one man (plus the CIA) mission to remove the Shah from power and replace him with the insane Grand Ayatollah Khomeini. Carter went so far as to say that because the Ayatollah was a religious man, and since he was also a religious man, that he knew how a man of God thinks (I personally don't think either of them worship the same God that I do). So, Carter (with the help of the Pentagon) convinced 150 of the Shah's top military men to surrender the country to the Ayatollah Khomeini. The Ayatollah then killed all 150 of them as one of his first acts in power.

The fall of the Shah completely destabilized the Middle-East and led to the Iraqi military build-up and later wars between those two countries ... and eventually to our current situation in the Mid-East.

Thank You Jimmy Carter!!!
I think I will continue this on Saturday, because there is lots more dirt on the peanut man.

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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Social Dangerousness???

Everyone is familiar with those little yellow rubber bracelets that a lot of people wear to support cancer research. Many people wear them as a fashion statement, and a multitude of colors have arrived. Olive green ones show support for our men and women in uniform, pink ones are for breast cancer awareness, black ones are for our POWs and MIAs, and multicolored ones are for autism. Well there is a new craze sweeping the island Paradise of Cuba and it is a white bracelet with the word "cambio" written on it. Cambio is Spanish for change. These are being worn by dissidents and have recently become a fashion statement for teenagers.
The bracelets were sent to Cuba by a Miami-based initiative to foster dissent, but appear to have become the "must have" fashion accessory in high schools. But probably not for much longer ...
It seems the Cuban dictatorship government really hates these bracelets. Last week, about 60 young people that were sporting these bracelets were rounded up and thrown in jail. They were released a couple of days later (minus the bracelets), and warned that authorities were preparing files and would later charge them with "social dangerousness".
I guess Raul Castro, like his brother is afraid of words like change (or freedom, democracy, etc.). The bracelets had to be confiscated because they were "dangerous". I guess in the wrong hands they could be used as a slingshot and put someones eyes out.
Have you ever really thought about how lucky we are to live in a free society? One that tolerates Iranian despots coming to our University and delivering tirades against our government? One that permits miscreants to protest funerals and burn flags? How fortunate that we don't live in Cuba ... and how fitting that this country supports dissent in Cuba.


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Saturday, November 3, 2007

It's About Time ...

It seems that the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas finally got what's coming to them. A Maryland jury just awarded one of the victims of this gang of fundamentalist wackos $11,000,000.00.

Albert Snyder of York, Pa sued the church for unspecified damages after members protested at his son's funeral in March of 2006. His son, Marine Lance Cpl. Mathew Snyder was killed in Iraq.

The Church said it would appeal the decision and continue to protest at military funerals.

Unfortunately, this decision probably won't stand an appeal. Snyder's lawyer, Craig Trebilcock urged jurors to place an amount, "that says don't do this in Maryland again. Do not bring your circus of hate to Maryland again."

If the verdict is sustained on appeal, the monetary award is sure to be reduced (not that this sicko church could scrape up $11 million anyway), but protest, no matter how abhorrent is protected under the first amendment "free speech" rights.

The only chance the verdict has to be upheld is if we take into account the willful causing of emotional distress on the parents of the fallen Marine. $2 million of this judgement is for causing emotional distress. Hopefully this part will be upheld. It is undeniable that the founding fathers intended freedom of speech to be used to harm other people.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Monsters Are Among Us ...

Which one is the scarriest to you?

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

When In The Course Of Human Events ...

In the interests of being bi-partisan and fair, instead of my usual modis operandi of slapping a picture that I enjoy on my posts, today I have added one for the portion of my readership that is not male. So ladies, this ones for you.

After such an inauspicious beginning, I would like to point out a bill that recently passed our illustrious House of Representatives. This bill, HR 505, the "Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2007" (See, there is always a reason for the pics I use (well almost always)) is an abomination, and if it isn't un-constitutional, it should be.

Once again, a portion of our government, this time the legislature is trying to cede some of our sovereign rights away. What this piece of legislation will do is allow Native Hawaiian Islanders to form their own government within, and at times superseding the State and Federal government. This law is a pusillanimous attempt to curry favor with the Native American tribes in the United States.

This Bill sets Native Hawaiians up as a legal tribe under Article I, section 8 of the US Constitution, even though in the Supreme Court Case, US v Sandoval, the court ruled that the Federal government could not create "new tribes". This bill cedes 203,500 acres of land to the new Hawaiian government, with the option of even more if a judge adjudicates that land owned by a non-Hawaiian was stolen in the past from a Hawaiian.

In a nutshell, what we have being created here is a situation where neighboring families would have different rights in land ownership, voting for certain offices and tax obligations ... This is certainly not the "American Way", though it may be the "Pelosi Way".

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Dutch Get Pissed Off

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is having a meeting in the Netherlands this week. As host, Dutch Defense Minister Eimert Van Middelkoop welcomed the 26 countries to the meeting and immediately launched a jab at about 22 of the countries. It seems the Dutch are getting pissed off a bit perturbed about the fact that they, along with Canada, Great Britain and the United States that are fighting in the dangerous South and Eastern portions of Afghanistan, while the other countries hang out in the relatively safe North. Well Mr Defense Minister ... welcome to our world. For years the US and Great Britain have been doing the dirty work heavy lifting for the world. I guess it's not as fair when your countrymen now must help shoulder the burden.
But let's be fair to the Dutch ... they have earned the right to complain, because they are actually there, bleeding with the Canadians, Brits and Americans. Our attention should be turned to those that are shirking their responsibilities. First on the list is of course the French. They have volunteered now to send 50 troops to the south to help with training the Afghani forces there ... of course the other 1,000 troops will remain hiding in the north. The German contingent of 3,100 troops have never ventured out of the north.
On a positive note, Slovakia said it would double its' contingent to 111 troops (do they now have 55 1/2 troops in country?), some of which will be sent south to help the Dutch. The Czech republic will increase its' forces from 225 to 415, but have not said where they would be sent. The country of Georgia, which is not in NATO, is reportedly considering sending 200 troops to help the Dutch in an attempt to suck up prove themselves worthy of NATO membership.
A proposal has been put forth to rotate the troops of all participating NATO units, so that no one Nation unfairly shoulders the burden of all of the combat. In a perfect world, this would be both fair and just ... let's see if NATO can accomplish this.
My thanks to Lime for teaching me how to do the cross-outs on this post.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Is There A Nobel Prize For Idiosy?

As loathe as I am to disrespect my elders, I must point out the complete stupidity of the comments made by 2007 Nobel Laureate in Literature, Great Britain's own Doris Lessing. In an interview published in Sunday's El Pais Daily (Spanish newspaper), Ms Lessing remarked that 9/11 was not as bad as the attacks by the IRA, and that Americans were naive about the world.

Ms Lessing should keep her mouth shut about things that she is ignorant about. Granted the bombings by the Irish Republican Army (IRA ... which disbanded in 2005) took more lives than the September 11th attacks, but the IRA attacks killed 3700 people over the course of 15 years. September 11th killed 3000 people over the course of one morning.

Ms Lessing also took the time to denigrate former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, calling him a "little showman", who proved disastrous for Britain. And of course President Bush also came into the cross hairs of this dithering idiot, who said he was a "world calamity".

Besides her writing, Ms Lessing is known for her political views that have embraced Marxism, anti-colonialism, anti-apartheid and feminism over the years.

With views like this, of course she won the Nobel Prize.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

This Is So Tragic ... Some Prayers Please

Army Specialist John Austin Johnson, assigned to the 4/1 Cav out of Ft Bliss was recuperating at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, TX from a traumatic brain injury sustained during combat operations in Iraq. The Specialist was on his second tour of duty in Iraq, and had survived 4 IED attacks, the 5th one caused these injuries. Do to the injuries, Johnson now speaks with a severe stutter.

On October 13th, Spec Johnson was waiting for his wife and three kids to visit him. That visit never came. Instead he was informed that his wife had rolled the family SUV about half-way between El Paso and San Antonio, and 2-yr old Logan and 5-yr old Ashley were dead. His son Tyler, 9 yrs old, suffered traumatic head injuries and currently remains on life support at Children's Medical Center in Dallas. His wife, Lisa escaped with only minor injuries.

In the midst of this tragedy, once again the American Public has stepped up. An anonymous don0r bought the family five burial plots in the veterans section of Pinecrest Memorial Park in Benton, Ark., where Specialist Johnson's grandfather is buried. Another donor provided grave markers for the two children. American Airlines is providing seven round-trip tickets to the family to go to the funeral, and other groups and his unit are helping with other family expenses.

Please join me and my family in praying for the Johnson family, in the recovery of their oldest boy and for their emotional and spiritual recovery in the face of this tragedy.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Pakistan Is At A Crossroad ...

After yesterday's deadly bombing of the convoy carrying former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the Pakistani government and citizens have a difficult choice to make. They have three options, they can try to maintain the status-quo, give in to Al-Qaeda, or eliminate the extremists in their midst. For too long, President Musharraf has tried to placate the tribes in the north. An uneasy truce with the extremists was shattered earlier this year after the take-over of the "Red Mosque" in the capital, Islamabad. Al-Qaeda in the north declared jihad on Musharraf and attempts have been made on his life.

Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Bhutto has returned from a self-imposed 8 year exile in Dubai. It was widely expected that Bhutto would be elected Prime Minister for the third time and a power-sharing arrangement was rumored to be in the works. The attack on her convoy that killed over 100 people and injured hundreds more should be a unifying event in the history of this Secular Muslim nation.

What Pakistan needs is a George Bush "photo-op" moment. I think everyone remembers President Bush, standing in the ruins of the World Trade Center after 9/11, bull-horn in his hand, his arm around a firefighter/rescue worker saying, "I hear you ... and the people who brought these buildings down will hear all of us soon." Now that was a motivational moment. It made the entire country feel together, and feel safer in that togetherness. It might have started as just another photo-op (as some Democrats claim), but it became so much more ... and it was needed. What Musharraf and Bhutto need is to show solidarity with each other, and with their citizens. They need to unite the country and exterminate the vermin in the populace.

So far, they are having mixed results. Initial reactions on both sides were to condemn the terrorists, but later on came the finger-pointing. The Bhutto camp criticized President Musharraf for not providing enough security (and obviously they didn't), and the Musharraf camp has criticized Bhutto for failing to heed their warning that it was too dangerous to drive to Karachi, saying that Bhutto should have accepted the helicopter transportation that Musharraf had offered (and judging by the results, she probably should have). But the blame game has to end, otherwise they will have a divided country and the terrorists will have succeeded.

Yes, Pakistan is at a cross-road ... what they decide will influence the entire region as well as the Global War On Terror.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Is This The Future Of Public Education?

This past Monday Morning, students filed into the newest public high school on Chicago's west side. The Marine Corps Academy of Math and Science opened it's doors to 130 students and expects its' enrollment to grow to 550 students. This school will combine college prep classes within the structure of a military academy.

The school was officially dedicated by Mayor Richard M Daley and other officials looking on. It will be run and taught by Marine Officers, and is partnering with Argonne National Labs. Argonne will be offering internships for the students.

The purpose of this school is to educate, not to recruit for the military, but one local anti-war activist isn't convinced. "What it does prepare them to do is be good little soldiers, which I'm afraid we've got too much of these days", said Andy Thayer. Well Andy, what I see the Chicago school system currently preparing kids to be is good little thugs and gangstas ... and I think we can all agree that we definitely have too much of that. So Mr. Thayer, please go march with Code Pink, where your views are appreciated.

Haven't we been asking businesses (like Argonne Labs) to partner with schools? Haven't we been moving more and more towards school uniforms? And we now have a school that is not draining our property tax base (the Feds pay the teachers). We shall see how this works.

And Mr. Thayer, don't put your protest signs away just yet. The Air Force plans to open one of these schools in Chicago in 2009. They won't have any trouble finding students, there are currently 15,000 applications for the limited service school slots.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Post Number 100

I never thought that I would ever be posting my 100th post. As the numbers crept up from 95 ... 96 ... 97, well you get my drift ... I started panicking about what I would actually write. Though I don't take myself very seriously, I do take this blog seriously ... so what would be a worthy post for the big 100. It was a toss-up between abortion and education (both extremely worthy subjects that had only been lightly touched upon in this blog), till I had an epiphany and got pissed off. Well, this blog has always been about things that piss me off, so I shelved abortion and education (but I promise, they will both rear their ugly heads later on). But first, I would like to share with you how a came about this revelation.
On Sunday afternoon, I found myself sitting in the wonderful Cinqo Estrella (5 Star) Cantina. As I watched the Cowboy game ... secretly wishing for the Patriots to win, I found myself thinking about my previous post entitled, "What Were They Thinking?". I was still ... two days later wondering about the answer to that question. I had just imbibed my first two beers of the year and was feeling pretty good though a little light headed. I thought about how the region around the Ottoman Empire had been for the past 3,000 years, with warfare between the Turks, and the Kurds, and the Armenians, the Greeks, the Austrian-Hungarian Empire ... the rampant massacres, rapes and pillaging that took place ... sometimes the Turks were on the giving end ... at other times they were on the receiving end of the sword. So why did Congress single them out ... but not the Greeks? As my thoughts turned to Greece, a strange feeling overtook my Michelob fuzzy head, and Dionysus whacked me with this epiphany. This was a back-door play by the Democratic controlled Congress to sabotage our war effort. As I began to write, the muse Caliope guided my fingers on the keypad to make this 100th post one that is worthy of my unworthy blog.
This "non-binding resolution" that Congress is about to vote on is not subject to Presidential veto. Once it is passed (or even considered) it becomes part of history. It will always be accessible through the Library of Congress website for all to see. The Turks are pretty much in denial about everything bad that happened before the new government was formed after World War I. If you read "their" history books, wars were fought, by massacres were "great victories", and genocide is not a word that the Turks want associated with their ancestors. This resolution was designed to piss them off. The hope of Nancy Pelosi is that this will so enrage the Turkish government that they will refuse the US the use of their airspace and the use of Incerlik Air Base, through which 80% of the supplies for the war effort come. The Democrats are too chicken to cut off funding for our troops, but they don't really care about them. If they can get Turkey to cut off supplies for them, they think that this is the way to end the War without having to go through the Executive Branch, or to even put themselves out by cutting off funding. This is actually more ingenious and deceitful than I have given the Democrats credit for in the past ... but the other reason could only be complete stupidity, and though I don't think very highly of the Democrats in Congress, it would be a mistake to consider them stupid. They may do stupid things, but there is always a reason behind them.
The reason that I espoused that the Democrats don't really care about the troops is because if Turkey stopped being a staging point for military supplies, the troops would be hurt. The new MRAPs (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles) are staged and shipped exclusively through Turkey. Re-directing them to Saudi Arabia, the delivery of these life-saving vehicles will be delayed by weeks ... way to look after our troops "grand-ma" Pelosi. This is just another attempt by the Democrats to ensure the failure of this war. From Harry Reid's statement that we have already lost the war, to John Murtha's off-handed remarks that US soldiers are committing war crimes in Iraq (and I'm not even going to mention John Kerry), the Democrats have labeled this as "George Bush's War", and they will do everything in their power to make sure that George Bush loses. If a few more of our troops are sacrificed in the process, I guess they feel it is a justifiable expense (after all, these troops were too stupid to go to college and got stuck in Iraq). Sorry, I guess I will mention John Kerry.
This is unconscionable, and can not be tolerated by the American people. Our troops are our best and bravest, when we denigrate their value, we denigrate all of us. This is not George Bush's war ... This is America's war and part of the larger Global War on Terror. We may have different ideas on how to handle the war, but we must come together when it comes down to winning the war. Politics is becoming a very dirty word in the minds of most Americans. Some are getting so disgusted with politicians that they don't even bother to vote anymore. This is as mistake as how can good willed Americans change anything if they don't become informed and vote.
As for the photo ... I didn't want to ruin my 100th post by having Nancy Pelosi's picture on it. I don't know who the girl in the photo is ... but I think she is much nicer to look at than "Grand-ma" Pelosi.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

What In The World Were They Thinking???

Let's face it, we have lots of problems in this country and lots of things for our Congress to do. Soooo, instead of working on immigration, social security, medicaid, or maybe trying to pass a budget for the fiscal year that started October 1st, here is what they have been spending their time on:

A Congressional Committee has just approved non-binding legislation that condemns Turkey for genocide against the Armenians while Turkey was still the Ottoman Empire around 100 years ago.

Well, at least the Armenians are happy with this utter waste of time ... however the Turks are simply livid. The current Turkish government has nothing to do with the old Empire and this legislation is simply a slap in the face to them. They have already withdrawn their ambassador from Washington DC, though they say it is just for consultations and that he will be back (eventually).

Some might say, "So we insulted Turkey ... big deal". Those that say this are just as stupid as the 27 Congressmen on the House Foreign Relations Committee that voted for this legislation. Here is the breakdown on how much we need Turkey:

  1. Incerlik Air Force Base is in Turkey and is the main hub for supplies going to our troops in Iraq. Roughly 70% of supplies either pass through Turkey or through Turkish air space.
  2. The Turkish Legislature is just about to take up legislation authorizing a large military incursion into Northern Iraq to attack Kurdish Separatist Guerrillas (terrorists) that have been staging raids into Turkey and killing hundreds.
  3. The only thing that has been holding Turkey back from attacking Iraq is the good-will that remains between the United States and Turkey.
  4. Turkey is the only Secular Muslim democracy in the area and good relations between the US, Iraq and Turkey are a must to show moderate elements in the region that democracy not only sounds good on paper ... but that it actually works.

Only a change of heart by the Democrats that control the House can stop this legislation from going to a full vote (where chances are strong that it may pass). There are signs that the Dems are taking a second hard look at what they just did. Tom Lantos (D-CA) stated, "We have to weigh the desire to express our solidarity with the Armenian people... against the risk that it could cause young men and women in the uniform of the United States armed services to pay an even heavier price than they are currently paying," Where was that great introspective thinking before you put this legislation to a vote?

And the Democrats keep harping on how the current administration is loosing friends throughout the world ... is this an attempt to play catch-up and see who can piss off the most people?

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

An Interesting Social Experiment

The British Rock Band, Radiohead has been the buzz of the music world lately. They are selling their new album, "In Rainbows" without a fixed sales price. Music lovers can simply go to their website and download the album. At check-out, instead of a price to download, it says, "it's up to you". The fans can choose how much they want to pay.


Fans determine the price of music anyway ... if it is too expensive they won't buy it. Of course, about a third of the people that downloaded the album chose to pay nothing ... but it's not as if these deadbeats were going to buy the album anyway. What this experiment does is it gets people talking about the band and really pumps up concert numbers. It also brings in people who might not ever think about downloading a Radiohead album into the mix. These new listeners might just buy more albums and go to concerts. Okay ... confession time here, I am one of the new listeners. When I got to the check-out, I couldn't just put zero in the price ... so I paid $20.00 for the download. So, that is at least twenty bucks they wouldn't have gotten without this promotion. It will be interesting to see how this works out.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Fry Him!!!

Beware ... This Post Is Rated NC-17 for Language

This is something that really pisses me off. I think the reason it affects me so much is that I really don't know the right answer ... it just seems unfair.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear a case where the Bush administration will try to overturn the death penalty for a piece of shit Illegal Mexican Immigrant. He is doing this at the behest of the International Court Of Justice (now there's an oxymoron). The International Court found that Jose Medellin was not informed of his international right to contact the Mexican Consulate for legal assistance as proscribed by the Vienna Convention. This is just the first of many fights as Medellin was just one of 51 illegals on death row that the International court wants new trials for.

Jose Medellin and four others were convicted of capital murder and rape in the deaths of Jenifer Ertman (14 years old) and Elizabeth Pena (16 years old). Medellin's younger brother (14 at the time) is serving 40 years for participating in the rape and murder. After gang raping the two girls for an hour, the girls were strangled and killed with a belt. Medellin confessed to the rapes and murders. Two of the five that were tried as adults had their sentences commuted to life because they were only 17 at the time of the crime (though one of them was less than a month shy of his 18th birthday), two have already been executed, and Medellin is scheduled to be executed in the very near future (not soon enough I say).

Here is my conundrum: I believe in laws and international treaties. We signed the Vienna Convention ... and it does protect American citizens abroad who are accused of crimes. The thing is ... when an American is brought in by police overseas, he promptly informs them that he is an American Citizen and wants to speak to someone from the State Department. I seriously doubt that this illegal claimed his nationality until he thought it might save his ass from a lethal injection. But the fact is that this International Court Of Justice has jurisdiction in this matter, and the US signed this treaty. Now Texas (God Bless Its' Soul) is fighting this. They want this man executed for his crimes. While my mind understands why we may have to re-try him (and hopefully he gets the same sentence), my heart screams to kill this piece of garbage before SCOTUS (Supreme Court Of The United States) can stop the execution. The families of these little girls have waited long enough for justice.

In defence of the President, though he is doing an extremely unpopular thing here, he is doing what he feels is required under international law. After this International Court made this ruling last year, he withdrew this nation from the treaty, but we were still covered by it when the ruling came down.

What do you think, do we go with our heads and grant him a new trial ... or go with our guts and fry him?

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Friday, October 5, 2007

Be Fair To Our Troops

One of the longest deployed military units in Iraq is the Minnesota National Guard's 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division. This unit returned the the United States earlier this year and found out that about half of them were not eligible for full GI Bill benefits. These Guardsmen had spent from 20 to 25 months on Active Duty.
Under the rules of the GI Bill, all 2,600 members of the unit qualified for $282.00 a month in benefits as full-time students, but half of them qualified for $800.00 a month. Why the disparity you may ask? Seems that the benefits are broken down into two category's; those that served less than two years and those that served longer than two years. Some of these returning veterans missed the cut-off for the higher benefit by only one day.
Going a bit off topic here but, Hilary Clinton wants to give every baby born in the US $5,000.00 for a college education ... and we want to rip-off American Veterans because they missed an arbitrary cut-off date by a matter of days? I know the argument will be, Once we make an exception for one unit, then we will make one for a unit that only served 18 months, then 15 months, etc. I say let's give all returning vets full GI Bill Benefits, even if they only served a 6 month tour of duty. If my taxes have to go up to pay for that, that's fine with me ... I will finally have a tax that I am proud to pay.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2007

A Good Use Of The Veto Pen

Today, President George W. Bush did something he hardly ever does ... he vetoed a spending bill. Of course, like everything this President does, he will be criticized in the press and the Democrats will try to make political fodder out of it, but let's take a closer look at this bill and see why he vetoed it.

The bill is HR 976 and its' purpose is to amend Title XXI of the Social Security Act. It was designed to be the largest expansion of health insurance coverage for children since Medicaid was started in the 1960's. The bill increased the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) by $35,000,000,000.00 (35 Billion ... I just think that all the zeros bring the cost of this program into better perspective), over the next 5 years. Currently, children in families with incomes up to 200 percent of the poverty level. HR 976 would expand coverage to families making 300 percent of the poverty level ($62,000.00 for a family of 4), and certain states would be able to enact legislation expanding the coverage to families making up to $83,000.00.

Obviously, a family with an income of $83K is not exactly wallowing in poverty, so why are our tax dollars going to be used to help provide insurance for their kids? Sure, medical insurance is expensive ... but for someone making that kind of money it becomes a choice. A lot of times that choice becomes a more expensive car instead of a health plan. Since this is a free country, I have nothing to say about a stupid choice like that (well maybe a little), but I Do Not want my taxes to pay for his choice. And $62K a year is pretty much the same thing. What this bill will do is get people to drop their current (more expensive) health insurance and switch to the Government sponsored insurance program. You can't blame the folks for taking a good deal when it's offered to them, but you can blame a Government that is more interested in finding a way to expand government dependence, then maybe finding a way to lower the cost of current health insurance.

I actually read all 109 pages of this extremely confusing bill (I may have understood 20 of the pages). I must say, I consider myself of at least average intelligence, so our Congressional Representatives must all be members of MENSA and pure geniuses to craft and understand this bill ... even when their appearances on News programs makes them seem dull-witted, they must just be trying to relate to us average people in their constituencies.

A lot of stuff has been said about this bill extending SCHIP to illegal alien children, but try as I might, I could not find anything in it that said it would. Actually, on page 93, Section 605, entitled, "No Federal Funding For Illegal Aliens", this statement is made in fairly precise and understandable English, "Nothing in this Act allows Federal payment for individuals who are not legal residents". This statement is actually amazingly clear ... especially since it was sandwiched between a couple of sections full of legal gobbledy gook. Luckily, I'm a rather trusting fella that takes everything at face value. If I wasn't, I would realize that there is also nothing in this bill that prohibits the individual states from extending SCHIP to illegal immigrants and using federal dollars to help offset this extra expense by using more federal money to cover legal residents.

My least favorite part of this bill is the way they want to pay for this expansion. They want to double the tobacco tax. This is just great for all you non-smokers, but I smoke two packs a day and this would be an increase in the taxes that I personally pay. This proposed tax of $0.61 per pack translates into $482.03 a year after I add in the extra state sales tax of 8.25%. Back in June, the state of Texas, in order to lower our school property tax, increased the tobacco tax by $1.00 a pack. This now costs me $790.22 a year. My property tax went down, but the appraised value of my property went up $18,500.00 and then the school district increased the rate $0.17 per $100.00 in valuation. After the dust cleared, I am now paying $386.52 more than before the "property tax cut". The key question that I am trying to get to (besides complaining about my trials and tribulations) is why are we constantly putting the burden of extra taxes on smokers? Could it be that tobacco users are an easy target since they only comprise roughly 18% of the population? This is actually a regressive tax since the smoking rate is higher for those with lower incomes and the higher the income, the lower the smoking rate ... how does this play with the "Tax The Rich" class?

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

GM Vs The UAW ... What Was It All About?

At 3:05 this morning, a tentative agreement was reached between General Motors and the striking United Auto Workers. The tentative agreement ends the two day old strike and workers are expected to be back on the factory floor this afternoon for second shift. I have heard many of the business gurus on the radio breaking down the reasons for the strike, but they have it all wrong. The union had given GM everything they had asked for, so like all good negotiators, GM asked for more. The reason for the strike was simple. If the UAW had taken the agreement as proposed by General Motors, the union would have ceased to exist in 20 years. The strike was about job security and the guarantee that American cars would continue to be built in America. Without those guarantees, GM would have been free to close plants in the US and move them overseas where labor is cheaper.

Now, I am not the biggest fans of unions, but in this case they did a service to this country. If labor costs are higher here in the USA, then the corporations just need to find a way to overcome this obstacle with more productivity. They need to trim the fat at the corporate level and come up with better cars. I've been in the car business for over a decade now and one thing I can tell you is that if someone comes up with a "must have" vehicle ... the American consumer will buy it. When you have ho-hum products, then you have to have huge incentives (rebates and special financing rates) to "bribe" the consumers to buy your product. So General Motors, start making vehicles that Americans want to buy, and most of your problems are over. You have made a good start with the Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia, Cadillac STS and new 2008 Malibu, so we know you are capable of it, let's continue this new trend.

As for the United Auto Workers, UAW President Ron Gettelfinger, you are now the administrator of the Voluntary Employees Beneficiary Association (VEBA) and GM has just given you $36 Billion to fund it. This VEBA is now your responsibility and the health care of all GM retirees now rests in your hands. Please don't screw it up. In fact Ron, you have now become a major player in the world financial market. Where you invest this money, as well as the money that will be coming from Ford and Chrysler later on will make or break companies. If I were the head of a Union, I think that I would invest this money in American companies that employed Union workers in the United States. I might even use the money as a carrot to open up some factories to union workers. I just might target the Subaru factory in Lafayette, IN or the 6 Honda plants or the 16 US Toyota plants ... you get the idea.

Here is what General Motors got out of the deal. It got to fund the VEBA out of the pension fund (the pension fund had more money than was needed), so no operating capital was touched. GM pretty much does away with the jobs bank (this is a program where laid off workers are paid 90% of their pay and benefits. There is also no pay raise during the 4 year contract, though bonuses will be paid yearly (I don't know what the bonus payments are contingent on). New hires will be paid a lower starting wage in some jobs. Most of all, General Motors was able to cut into the $25.00 per hour wage and benefit gap between them and their foreign competitors.

Here is what the Union got out of the deal. Retirees will get a pension increase, though it would be offset by an equal increase in health care contributions. GM has pledged to produce cars at certain factories. Workers will be given a $3000.00 bonus upon contract ratification, then bonuses of 3%, 4% and 3% of their annual salaries during the final 3 years of the contract.

This initial agreement is contingent upon approval of the union members and then the VEBA must be approved by the courts and reviewed by the United States Security and Exchange Commission (SEC).

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Is Iran Just Posturing ... Or Could They Attack Israel?

Last week, Iran warned Israel that if their nuclear facilities were attacked, they would bomb Israel. I figured from the start that it was just a lot of hot air, and that the Iranian Air Force was in such bad shape that there was no way they could launch a successful attack on the most powerful nation in the Middle East. Before I went posting about this, I wanted to be sure. So, I did a little research, which led to a lot of research, which made me change my mind. This is a serious threat to Israel and should be taken as such.
We all know that until the late 70's, the Shah of Iran was a good friend of the United States and we considered Iran as a stabilizing force in the Mid-East. We considered them such a power for peace that we decided to sell them 79 F-14 Tomcats (this is the plane Tom Cruise made famous in the Movie "Top Gun"). Now, this was a long time ago, and we stopped selling replacement parts to the Ayatollah back in 1980. In fact, during the Iraq-Iran war, only 10 of these planes were still operational. In a perfect world, all of the planes would by now be in the trash heap. Seems however that a Dutch Business man (you may insert arms-dealer here), Robert Kraaipoel has been violating the embargo by selling spare aircraft parts to Iran. As many as 50 of these F-14's may now be operational. The F-14 can carry 4-500 lb bombs on it's underbelly, and if it's wing mounted missiles are removed, another 2 can be mounted on each wing. That's 200,000 pounds of bombs for those of you who are keeping count.
In addition, at the start of the first Gulf War, Iraq flew 115 combat aircraft to Iran to protect them from being destroyed by the US Air Force. Among these were 24 Mirage F-1B fighter jets, along with some MIG-23's and SU-25's. In 2003, Iran was able to purchase an unknown number of new Su-25 Frogfoots. Other aircraft include 10 F-8M's, 7 TU-22M's, 19 MIG-27's and several MIG-31's (Russia's most advanced fighter ... thank you Mr. Putin).
As for missile forces, The Iranians have SCUD C & D's (can't reach Israel with those) and the Shahab-3D (with a range of 2200 km that can hit Israel). The also have the Farq-3 which is a ballistic MIRV missile that can hit Israel (and probably parts of Europe.
After reading about all this air and missile power, I was going to post that Israel had nothing to worry about. The Israeli Air Force is easily the best Air Force in the region ... probably second only to the USAF in the world. They could surely shoot down any and all aircraft that Iran wanted to send their way. As for the missiles, well those Patriot missile batteries that we sold to Israel during the first Gulf War are still there ... In addition, Israel has developed its' own interceptor missile called the Arrow ("Til Hetz"). After Iran tested their Shahab-3 missile in the summer of 2006, Israel tested their Arrow Interceptor by successfully shooting down ... you guessed it, a Shahab-3 missile.
So here I am, ready to post about Iran not being able to hurt Israel when I come across an article in Jane's Defence Weekly that changes everything. Jane's reported that the July 26th explosion in Syria took place at a joint Iranian-Syrian site. The project was to fit a Scud C missile with a mustard gas warhead. The explosion happened when the missile fuel caught fire. The blast dispersed mustard gas across the storage site and outside the facility. The blast killed 15 Syrian military members and injured at least 50. Dozens of Iranian engineers were also killed in the blast. Mustard gas is some really bad stuff. There are still parts of Germany that are off-limits because of the mustard gas that the Kaiser ordered used during WWI. Mustard gas (Yperite) is a blister agent (the chemical causes blisters to form on exposed skin greatly hampering combat effectiveness. In addition, those that get it in the eyes will be permanently blinded, and those that inhale it will almost certainly die). The mustard gas attacks the bronchial tubes, stripping off the mucous membrane ... causing internal bleeding and eventually (it usually takes four or five very painful weeks) the victims would drown on their own blood.
If Iraq were to attack from Syria with mustard gas, the casualties would be incomprehensible. Israel would almost definitely retaliate with their Jericho ballistic missiles (nuclear) and the whole region would begin to glow. Iraq needs to be stopped from producing nuclear weapons, and it needs to be stopped by the Western World in toto. We can not diddle around thinking that if worst comes to worst, Israel will handle it ... we may not like the outcome.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Blackwater USA ... Security Firm or Mercenaries?

Blackwater USA is a private security firm, based in North Carolina. It was started by an ex Navy Seal, who envisioned a World-Class training facility for those in the security business ... but it has evolved into so much more. Since 9/11/01, the small firm has grown by leaps and bounds and now "hires-out" small armies. There are currently about 1,000 Blackwater USA contractors (operatives) in Iraq. They also have a data-base of 6,000 more professionals for when they are needed. The contract to provide security services in Iraq earns the company $800,000,000.00 a year. Contractors are normally paid from $100,000.00 to $250,000.00 a year depending on specialty. The prime contract is to provide security for the US State department. They provide this service extremely well (though no one can convince me they do a better job than the US Marines).

Late last week a convoy protected by Blackwater contractors was fired upon. Blackwater contractors returned fire, killing several of the attackers ... at least that is the company version of things. Iraqi police say that the people killed were innocent civilians, and the Iraqi government has ordered the company out of Iraq.

My take on this is that the folks killed were probably neither "innocent" nor "civilians". But in either case, Blackwater USA and the dozens of other private security firms need to go. These contractors (mercenaries) run around in various uniforms of their own liking, armed to the teeth (trying to be Johnny Rambo), and don't really answer to the military chain of command. What laws of war do they follow? Who do they answer to ... a CEO?

A Military Force is a Government responsibility ... not a corporate one.

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Who Is Michael Mukasey?

The President has nominated Michael Mukasey to replace Alberto Gonzales at Attorney General and the political in-fighting has begun ... but opposition to this appointment is coming from the right, not the left as is common.

A little background on Michael Mukasey first. He was nominated by President Reagan as a federal judge in 1987. Since that time he has served for 18 years (including 6 years as Chief Judge of the Southern District of New York). Among his cases that you may be familiar with are the trials of Omar Abdul Rahman (the blind shiek) and El Sayid Nosair. These terrorists were convicted for their parts in the planning of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and plots to bomb the United Nations and other New York landmarks. Judge Mukasey sentanced them to life in prison. He also ruled in the case of Jose Padilla (the American gang-banger that turned al-Qaeda) and ruled that he could be held as an enemy combatant, but that he must be given access to his lawyer. Mukasey also spoke and wrote in defense of the Patriot Act.

Here is what might be turning Republicans against him. In 2003, Sen Chuck Schummer (D-NY) included him in a list of 5 other judges that would have no problems being confirmed by Democrats. Rep Schummer also suggested him as a replacement for Gonzales on "Meet The Press" back in March. I think that Republican opposition to Mukasey is probably just a knee-jerk reaction to Shummer's support. Shummer has been a thorn in the GOP's side for so long that the thinking is probably if Chuck likes him, it must be bad.

From what I can see from the research I have done is that Michael Mukasey was a law and order type judge that issued his verdicts fairly and with common sense. We could do a lot worse than having Judge Mukasey as our 81st Attorney General (we already have).

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Mullah's Dilemma

Okay ... has everyone stopped snickering at the cartoon yet? C'mon, get it out of your systems ... the rest of this post is serious.
A very important subject has been left out of the debate on Iraq, by the very people who purport to strongly defend human rights. That's right the Democrats have overlooked the situation in the Middle East in respect to women's rights. Even Hillary Clinton, the first viable female candidate for President of the United States has remained mum on this subject (sorry Shirley Chisholm ... you were the first, but you were a long way from being viable).
In most middle-eastern countries women are denied basic human rights. They are treated like cattle, bought and sold for the highest dowry. Men can have multiple wives, but the thought of a woman having multiple husbands ... or of even having sex outside of marriage can bring grave penalties. Honor killings are not only practiced but encouraged (the youngest son is usually the one to put the woman to death). Women must be covered head to toe in order to leave the house. Though I have never worn one, these "burkhas" look to be terribly uncomfortable and hot. When they leave the house, women must be accompanied by a male member of the family. In some societies, women are not allowed to work or attend school past a certain age. When they travel by car, they must ride in the back seat. It is possible to see a man driving a car, alone in the front seat, while his four wives are stuffed in the back. When out in public, women are segregated from men in restaurants, theaters and even while attending mosque. Women legally have no say in how to raise their own children, where to live, or the household finances. All this and we haven't even started on the right to vote or run for office.
As long as Islamic fundamentalists are in charge of nations, or even villages or towns in those nations ... the plight of women will never improve. As a secondary result of the US occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, women are experiencing more freedom than they ever had (it is a bigger difference in Afghanistan than in Iraq).
It is my sincere hope that during this period of greater freedom for women, Islamic men will come to recognize the value of women ... and not in just how many cows or chickens they may be worth. These women need to take advantage of this chance to get an education and a good job and especially to vote and run for office.
Hillary needs to be in front of this issue and start praising the changes in Iraq and Afghanistan instead of just jumping on the Democratic bandwagon of everything in Iraq is bad. The rest of her colleagues in the Democratic Party need to get behind this as well, and if they don't, the GOP needs to start hammering it till they do. Folks, this is a no-brainer ... can't we decide to get behind at least this one thing?

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