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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