Tuesday, December 25, 2007

And God Bless Us Everone

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have live everlasting."

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Friday, December 14, 2007

He Went to the Mountaintop


photo credit: AP


The best thing Al Gore has ever done was gracefully bowing out of contention for the US presidency after the 2000 election, not that he had any choice. But he did so in order to spare the country more weeks of judicial, political, and emotional turmoil and deserves credit for that. After his concession, he tried academia, and became even more pedantic in nature and speech than before. He went to the mountaintop and had a revelation. He left the world of political officeholders and turned to his pet topic - the environment. It took the top spot on the agenda of Al Gore for his incubating second life in the public eye.

Early Days

In his youth, he lived a pampered life in a posh hotel in Washington, DC, attending exclusive private schools and returning to his home state of Tennessee on vacations. He claims to have worked on the family farm while living there.

He graduated from Harvard in 1969 and enlisted in the Army soon afterward serving as a military journalist. He spent a few months in Vietnam after which he returned to the States to attend Vanderbilt for a part of a year as a divinity student. Not finding theology his true calling, he put his journalism skills to work for five years at The Tennessean, a newspaper in Nashville.

He then attended law school for a year, before realizing that his next calling was to the government. He followed his father into government service, entering politics and winning election to Congress for four terms as a Representative from Tennessee before winning a seat in the Senate. Having the same name as his father, a long-time Tennessee member of Congress and Senate, could only have helped.













photo credit: Mark Peterson/Corbis.




The Clinton-Gore-Clinton Administration
Tapped by Bill Clinton in 1992, Gore became Vice President for eight years. Mostly untouched by the Clinton scandals, he had more than enough trouble of his own, most of it due to his own miscalculations, hypocrisies, overstatements, and unethical, if not illegal, political dealings. A few are recounted here:

1. Tobacco Hypocrisy -(Al Gore, 1988) -
"Throughout most of my life, I raised tobacco. I want you to know that with my own hands, all of my life, I put in in the plant beds and transferred it. [ed. I assume he meant transplanted it.] I've hoed it. I've chopped it. I've shredded it, spiked it, put it in the barn and stripped it and sold it."
He sold more than tobacco. He sold himself, too. He defended tobacco farmers and received contributions from tobacco companies into the '90's, all the while milking his sister's 1984 death from lung cancer during the 1996 convention. He then claimed to be firmly on the anti-smoking bandwagon. He explained that his "emotional numbness" after his sister's death allowed him to continue to defend and profit from the tobacco business. That "emotional numbness" excuse didn't ring true and while Democrats looked the other way, Republicans made careful note of it.

2. Fundraising Shenanigans -
Unsavory characters (Jose Cabrera and others) donated big bucks to the Gore coffers. The DNC was forced to return some of the illegal gains. Gore himself was caught participating in fundraising at a Buddhist Temple when individual monks, living a life of poverty, were unlawfully reimbursed by the Temple after donating money to Al Gore and the Democrat party. An example of Gore's poor political judgment is that he made some ridiculous claims after the incident came to light, such as not knowing he was attending a fundraiser.

He also made his well known claim that "There is no controlling legal authority" to state that the many fund-raising phone calls he made from his VP office in the White House were illegal. He and Clinton were such weasels. I wonder what Gore's definition of the word "is" is?

3. Exaggerations and Downright Lies -
When the New York Times bemoans the fact that their candidate of choice tends to over-exaggerate, you know it's too evident to ignore.

(NYT, Oct.5, 2000)
"For years, his political opponents have groused that Vice President Al Gore has trouble with facts. They pounced on statements he made about his service in Vietnam, about his record in Congress and even about the price he has to pay for his dog's arthritis medicine."

"...Mr. Gore's shading of the truth has become so frequent that some politicians are no longer dismissing it as sloppy oratory from a candidate under the glare of television cameras.This predilection of Mr. Gore's is all the more surprising because it often involves trivial matters — ones that could easily be checked — such as how Mr. Gore recalled a childhood lullaby that did not exist."

Two examples: (1) Remember how he claimed that he and his wife Tipper were the inspiration for the book and movie "Love Story"? Not true. (2)Remember his boastful stretch of the truth stating that he "took the initiative in creating the internet"? No way. As a Congressman he was in a position to help prevent governmental roadblocks to internet development, but the internet was already in existence without any help from Gore.

A comprehensive list of Al's prevarications, or "exaggerations", can be found here.

The 2000 Presidential Election

The media intelligentsia was certain that Gore would demolish Bush in the debates. That didn't happen. The American people watch the debates and get more information about a candidate by watching how he answers the questions, not just hearing what he says.

I remember the three debates and the three different Al Gores that participated in them. During the first debate he smirked, sighed while George W. Bush was talking, and generally acted like a pompous jerk. For the second debate he was cosmetically made up to look like Ronald Reagan, with makeup sculpting shadows on his face to mimic Reagan's facial planes. His hair was even styled with that little ridge at the top like Reagan's. If a man has to resort to makeup to glom onto the reputation of a popular ex-president, it's a clear indication that he is not comfortable in his own skin. His behavior during the second debate was more controlled, even a bit docile. In the third debate Gore deemed himself "just right" - not too aggressive, not too passive. Others had a different opinion. The three different Al Gores diluted the results for the Democrats; there was only one George Bush and he attended all three.



The revelation that Gore paid Naomi Wolf bongo bucks ($15,000 per month)to become his personal "personality" consultant made people wonder just exactly what she did. Was she his wardrobe maven, urging him to switch from navy suits to brown? Is she the one who advised him to growl like the Alpha-male, sneering while being pompously condescending?

"When a man has to pony up a fortune to a woman to teach him how to be a man, that definitely takes the edge off his topdogginess," wrote NYT columnist Maureen Dowd.


The Gore campaign and Ms Wolf denied her micromanagement of his earthtone hues and alpha-male coaching but the damage was done. The insinuation that Gore was not sure of himself and needed coaching was enough to turn some people away. Combine that with his constant exaggerations of his accomplishments and his unabashed use of his family's personal tragedies for his personal electoral advantage cost him a multitude of supporters and votes.


His stiff demeanor, pedantic mode of expression, and arrogant "know-it-allness", comprised the main ingredients in a recipe for defeat. Add to that "The Kiss", the rather inappropriately prolonged liplock with Tipper Gore during the Democrat convention. It may have been the time, but it certainly wasn't the place.



Of course it didn't help Al being closely associated with scandal-ridden Bill Clinton. It was widely assumed that there was bad blood between the Gores and the Clintons. Bill's deference to Hillary instead of to Gore, i.e., assigning her the plum job of restructuring the health care system, had to have grated on Gore's nerves for quite some time.

There was also a brouhaha over office assignments. Hillary wanted the office wing traditionally assigned to the Vice President and it was only when Al Gore threatened to resign that he was allowed to occupy the office. This was widely known in the political arena soon after the inauguration. The New York Times Magazine stated that "Al Gore hasn't yet realized there is going to be a co-presidency but he's not going to be part of the co," and that, according to the Clintons' close friend and adviser Susan Thomases, Gore "would have to adjust to a smaller role."

As a consequence of all his experiences with the Clintons, before and during the 2000 presidential campaign, Al didn't know whether to praise Clinton or damn him. Resentment over the allocation of a large portion of DNC resources to Hillary's NY Senate bid, and Bill's numerous personal appearances for her added to Gore's chagrin. An article in the Nov. 2007 issue of Vanity Fair states:

"At the same time, Hillary's ascendancy had a significant impact on the presidential prospects of Al Gore, diverting attention and resources from his candidacy and adding to the growing tensions between the Gores and the Clintons over Bill's involvement with Lewinsky."



He tried to differentiate himself from Clinton by stating his and his wife's committment to fidelity and "family values" without distancing himself too much from a popular president. It was a fine line he was walking.

With all the baggage accumulated, his own and some from the Clintons, it was little wonder that Gore had trouble in the election. He didn't even win his own state, and what was assumed to be a runaway for Gore turned into the closest election in US history.

I don't even want to rehash the post election squabbles and travesties. Suffice it to say, when all the dust had settled, Gore won a half million more popular votes than George W. Bush, but lost in the electoral college by 5, 271 to 266. With no more hope of claiming a victory, Gore did concede gracefully.

Rebirth
In his desire to reinvent himself, after the election, much as he claimed to have "reinvented the government", he took himself to academia, grew a beard and professed to "profess" for a seminar at Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. His qualifications for the gig were his brief stint in Vietnam as a military journalist, his time with The Tennessean in Nashville, and his eight years on the other side of the fence facing reporters as Vice President. He placed a weird gag order on his students, insisting that his class lectures were "off the record." Equally bizarre was Columbia University journalism school administrator's statement that off-the-record lectures promoted free and open discussion.
“We expect that you will comply with the decision to offer the seminar on an off-the-record basis; your attendancewill be taken as evidence that, in accordance with the School’s honor system, you accept this stipulation.”


Catching some grief for that, Gore wisely lifted the gag order.

Revelation and Reward

Soon after his brief career as a University professor, he shed his beard and threw himself wholeheartedly into his new career as Earth Savior. Long an environmentalist (author of Earth in the Balance, published in 1992) he went to the mountaintop, and came down with a new mission for his life. He delved further into his environmental research (and Powerpoint classes) to produce his second book, supporting the documentary of the same name, An Inconvenient Truth. For his efforts, Gore brought home an Oscar, soon to be followed by the formerly prestigious Nobel Peace Prize.

Kyoto Protocol
In spite of being heavily sponsored by Clinton and especially Gore, the Kyoto Protocol, the treaty had absolutely no chance of passing the Senate. Instead, the Byrd-Hagel Resolution (S. Res 98) against the US signing the protocol was passed 95-0 and the Clinton Administration never even submitted it to the Senate for ratification. Gore continues to pass condemnation on his own country for not ratifying the treaty, even though it has been shown to be ineffective in the countries who did sign on. Mark Steyn in the OC Register recently revealed the following:

"At the recent climate jamboree in Bali, the Rev. Al Gore told the assembled faithful: 'My own country, the United States, is principally responsible for obstructing progress here.' Really? the American Thinker's Web site ran the numbers. In the seven years between the signing of Kyoto in 1997 and 2004, here's what happened:

•Emissions worldwide increased 18.0 percent;
•Emissions from countries that signed the treaty increased 21.1 percent;
•Emissions from nonsigners increased 10.0 percent; and
•Emissions from the United States increased 6.6 percent.



Gore's statements to the contrary, there is no universal consensus on man-made global warming, global climate change, or whatever you want to call it. The mainstream media keeps most skeptics' reports on back pages, but they do keep popping up. Gore's refusal to debate the issue with "global warming deniers" (lumped in with Holocaust deniers) or even take questions from the press at some events makes one wonder why.

Legacy
The larger question is what is Al Gore's desired legacy? He has been a successful Congressman and Senator, and a two-term vice president. Failing to succeed Clinton as President, and maybe having to endure 8 years of a presidential Hillary Clinton, Gore may have set his sights on something far grander than the presidency of the United States. He may be angling for a position that would grant him the respect and gratitude of the world. Whether or not he truly believes what he preaches is open to discussion. He certainly talks the talk even as he neglects to walk the walk. Globe-trotting, complete with retinue, and living in a huge, energy-gobbling home, carbon credits notwithstanding, seem to indicate a less than full committment to practicing what he preaches.

To add to the muddle of his involvement in fighting global warming is his founding and chairmanship of Generation Investment Management (GIM), an international investment firm with extensive holdings (as of March, 2007) in some companies participating in industries directly in line with alternative energy, the "greening" of the world, and organic foods. Other companies are more mundane, insurance, pet healthcare, food service and financial services. Whatever their business attachments, Gore stands to profit from others following his advice to purchase carbon credits from his company to atone for their energy using ways.

As more and more people begin to learn of his direct interest in personal profits from his dire threats of global disaster, we can only hope that a truly open discussion of the consequences of global warming and man's ability to affect climate change will shed light on the issue. As long as Al Gore remains the figurehead of supposed "looming calamity", we must remember his reputation for exaggeration and wonder if his true legacy will be as a world-class snake oil salesman.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Hillary Express

Ken Falkenstein says:

"CNN has reinforced its well-deserved reputation for being the Clinton News Network. Prior to this week's Las Vegas debate, Hillary's campaign manager gave moderator Wolf Blitzer his marching orders, warning him not to "pull a Russert" by asking her tough questions. Wolf Blitzer followed his orders and gave her only softballs. Turns out the fix was also in regarding who was allowed to be in the audience and what questions they were allowed to ask her (e.g. does she prefer pearls or diamonds):

Welcome to 21st-century American prop-journalism."



Well Ken, no one is surprised. Conservatives "knew" it would happen. Liberals "knew" it would happen. CNN has always been somewhat duplicitous since the early 90's, from Peter Arnett's actions (known for funny business in his Vietnam reporting) in the first Gulf War, to Eason Jordan's convenient omission of Saddam's horrors in his reporting; from CNN glossing over Bill Clinton's multiple scandals, to their glossing over Ms Clinton's scandals, missteps and aversion to answering tough questions (or any questions) with more than lip service, often out of both sides of her mouth at the same time.

Since 1999, when she first toyed with the idea of carpetbagging for the NY Senate seat, the inevitability of it all reared its ugly head (or, to be more precise in this case, headed its ugly rear). The ball started rolling then; if she's stepped in no huge piles of crap as Senator, neither has she stood out as having done anything noteworthy.So the ball is picking up speed now. She has received tons of attention for merely being Ms Clinton. During the never-ending, mind-numbing series of debates, all questions before, during and after are all centered around her or how others compare to her. She would have to spit on the pope, a Torah, a praying muslim, burn the Start and Stripes, and kiss Madonna before the Hillary Express (to mix metaphors a bit) would be derailed.

The only drama now is in watching John Edwards and Barack Obama fumble around trying to decide just how much they can play hardball without getting slapped down by the "not playing the gender card" liberals who support Hillary. The other candidates are just window dressing. There is no way in the world they, or anyone else, ever thought they had a snowball's chance to get elected. There just up there to... why are they up there, anyway? Dennis Kucinich is there for comic relief, at least. It scares me that sometimes he answers questions best of them all. At least we know he means what he says. With Biden's record of plagiarism, he means what somebody else says. Dodd talks so fast, I don't know what he's said or means. (I did like his standing up to Hillary two weeks ago though.)

The other question is who is going to bow figuratively in Hillary's direction enough, without appearing to kowtow, to get tapped for the VP spot. Will it be Bill Richardson? Or an Evan Bayh, waiting patiently in the wings? Newly elected Governor Strickland from Ohio? He's a personable enough fellow with no track record of misbehavior, but no track record of accomplishments, either.

I hope I'm wrong. I hope the American people stop and think about having another "two for one" presidency. Hillary was responsible for many of the scandals and public relations brouhahas during her husbands presidency. She has very poor political skills and a tin ear to boot. Bill's smooth personal charms get him through tough spots but he's the one who brought disgrace into the oval office; gave away secrets to China; ignored the growing threat of radical Islam, and other ignoble deeds.The Republicans must list these scandals over and over again, and remind the public that he's going to be lurking in the background for 4-8 years. His "wife" can only ship him off to be "ambassador to the world" for so many months before it is obvious she's trying to keep him out of her hair. He "owes" her big time, but he craves the spotlight too much to allow himself to be ignored.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Pardongate, Part Deux?


ABC News reports:

"Three recipients of controversial 11th-hour pardons issued by former President Bill Clinton in January 2001 have donated thousands of dollars to the presidential campaign of his wife, Democratic front-runner Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., according to campaign finance records examined by ABC News, in what some good government groups said created an appearance of impropriety.

"It's not illegal," Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told ABC News. "But, of course, it's inappropriate and she should return the money. It does raise the appearance that this is payback."

"We have raised over $65 million from over 200,000 people," said Clinton campaign manager Howard Wolfson, adding sarcastically, "I appreciate your bringing the instance of this $5,300 and these three people to our attention."


You would think that after the"unfortunate" business with the Norman Hsu campaign contributions, and with all the previous questionable Clinton (both Hill and Bill) campaign contributions, that someone involved in Hillary's campaign would take advantage of computer systems to check a database of names whose contributions to decline, starting with those whom Clinton pardoned in 2001.

This is a reminder of all the previous shenanigans involving campaign money and last minute pardons. Hillary always claims to have no knowledge of any of these things. The smartest woman in the world never seems to know what's going on around her. We're supposed to have her lead the country?

Well, pardon me. I don't think so.

Monday, November 12, 2007

A Salute to our Veterans



Listen to the Marine Band.
"From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli
We fight our country's battle
In the air, on land and sea.
First to fight for right and freedom,
And to keep our honor clean
We are proud to claim the title
Of United States Marine."

Semper Fi.




Now, here's the Air Force Band.

"Off we go into the wild blue yonder, climbing high into the sun;
Here they come zooming to meet our thunder,
At 'em boys, Giver'er the gun!
Down we dive, spouting our flame from under,
off with one helluva roar!
We live in fame or go down in flame. Hey!
Nothing can stop the U.S. Air Force!"



And the the Navy Band.





"Anchors aweigh, my boys.
Anchors aweigh.
Farewell to foreign shores
We sail at break of day day day day.
Through our last night ashore
Drink to the foam
Until we meet once more
Here's wishing you a happy voyage home!"




Can't forget the US Army!




"First to fight for the right,
And to build the Nation's might,
And the Army goes rolling along.
Pour of all we have done,
Fighting till the battle's won,
And the Army goes rolling along.

Then it's HI! Hi! Hey!
The Army's on its way.
Count off the cadence loud and strong (TWO! THREE!)
For where e'er we go,
You will always know
That the Army goes rolling along."

Thanks for everything! Happy Veterans' Day!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Let Them Eat Croissants


Writers in Hollywood and New York are on strike. Evidently, all of America will be faced with reruns, more reality shows, and potentially even dumber scripts as management and performers try their hand at scriptwriting, Can it get any worse, really?

For the most part, I watch no more television than I am forced to when stuck in a waitingroom at the doctor's office or tire store. But you would have to be on a desert island (one with no satellite service) to avoid seeing or hearing the drivel that passes for entertainment these days.

I had to laugh yesterday when, listening to the radio news, I heard an item about the strike complete with audio of the poor picketing writers, chanting in front of some studio:

"What do we want? More money! When do we want it? Now!"

""On Strike. Shut 'em down. Hollywood's a union town!" and "Are you ready to fight? Damn right!"
Jeepers creepers. No wonder their shows are so bad.They have to drag out forty year old slogans from the Vietnam era. Perhaps they feel the obligation to follow the strike to the letter and not even write any new slogans for themselves.

Next I expect to hear:

"Hey, hey. Ho, ho. Without us, there's no show!"


Or even:

"Two, four, six, eight. Writers make your shows great!"


It's difficult to take them seriously. Most of them are making good money, even for California. When I think of effective strikers, I don't picture skinny mocha extra shot latte-drinking, Gucci-wearing, botoxed Hollywood types. I picture Martin Luther King leading a group of black activists. I picture nitty-gritty workers, jeans (Levis, that is), flannel shirts, walking the lines in rain, snow, sleet, or hail. While the weather in New York can get a little uncomfortable, I feel no pity for those pacing in front of Paramount Studios, and other palm tree laden areas.

The late-night talk shows will feel the brunt of the strike first. I guess famed "funny men" Leno, O'Brien, and Letterman aren't really funny enough to fuel their time on air. The real surprise for me was that "The View" has writers. I thought that those women made up their wisecracks and assinine comments on their own. Also, news writers are on strike. Maybe now, for a change, when we watch/hear the news shows we can just get the facts. We can form our own opinions - without a union.

Let them stay on strike. Let them drink lattes. Let them eat croissants.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Pretty in Pink - Continued


"CLINTON INNER-CIRCLE BLAME 'UNFAIR' MODERATOR TIM RUSSERT. 'HE BORDERED ON THE UNPROFESSIONAL,' TOP HILLARY ADVISER CHARGES. 'HE BROKE DEBATE RULES AND WAS BELLIGERENT'"

After all the "unprofessional", nasty and "belligerent" questions and asides asked of Republican candidates by Chris Matthews and his ilk, this takes the cake.

We are asked to take "the smartest woman in the world" and give her the Democrat Party nomination and then elect her President of the United States, but we must respect her gender and not ask her tough questions. Sorry, Toots. Politics is not beanball.

This is the same thing that happened in 2000 when Rick Lazio, a late stand-in for Giuliani (sidelined for medical reasons), dared to approach her on stage during a debate to hand her a piece of paper. He was chastised for "invading her space". What he did might not have been in line with debate protocol, but he in no way was threatening. If she had done the same thing to him, she would have been credited with a crafty move, showing her toughness and political savvy.

Hillary has always been able to have it both ways, the attention of the press, but no tough questions; political input and decisions in the White House, but no accountabiility; appeals to women's feminist desires for a woman President, but no fair treating her like the men are treated.

By the way, a few weeks ago, one of Mrs. Clinton's hired pollsters declared that women will come out of the woodwork to vote for her because she's a woman, or words to that effect. That was a truly insulting remark to the female electorate. I believe that most women will vote along party lines, just like most men. There are always those unpredictables who will make up their minds for whatever reason. Some votes will be cast for Hillary because of her womanhood. Some votes will be cast against her because of her womanhood. Both positions are wrong, but not surprising.

The majority of women who vote for Hillary will really be voting for her promises to take other peoples' money and give it to them. John Edwards has been promising the same thing, but Hillary has said it over and over again. She and her husband have the same philosophy. After Bill Clinton's huge tax increase in the 1990's resulted in a surplus, he admitted that he had thought about giving some of it back. He decided not to because he thought we might not spend the money the right way. Is it not our right to decide how to spend our money?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

California Burning

As I posted a few months ago during the last large batch of wildfires in California and elsewhere, it is amazing the number of fires that regularly plague the earth. Some are man-made, others occur as part of Nature's plan for rejuvenation of forests and prairies, and others just part of the cycle of destruction caused by traumatic events such as erupting volcanos, lightning, etc.

Mother Nature tries to destroy parts of the earth, as well as animal species and mankind, constantly. Sometimes, she succeeds. The fossil record gives evidence of the extinction of a wide variety of plant and animal species, of which the wooly mammoth and dinosaurs are just the largest. There must be thousands of vanished species of which we can only imagine.

During instances such as those now being endured in California, the best and worst of mankind is evident. It now appears that at least one of the fires is the result of arson. Lunatics and terrorists can be counted on to try to destroy what others have created, for whatever ends - political, egotistic, or vicious thrill. Selfless volunteers and experienced professionals extend energies above and beyond the norm to bring aid and comfort to victims, and to risk their own lives to save homes and forests from the fires' ruination. They are supreme examples of the best of mankind and are to be honored for their efforts.

Politicians who step in to take advantage of cameras to grandstand, find fault, or take vicarious credit, should be scorned. Harry Reid's comments about the fires being caused by global warming are outrageous. Even more outrageous is his denying having said that just a few minutes later. No wonder the good people of Nevada are just about fed up with him.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Remembering That Blue, Blue Sky....


It's September 13, 2007, and the hot, hot, hot weather of the past month has finally broken. Yesterday and today have brought us cool nights and the same beautiful blue sky we enjoyed, for a few short hours, on September 11, 2001. Each of us remembers that day in our own way. It's like when President Kennedy was assassinated. We who were alive then remember exactly where we were and what we were doing.

We were in New York, just west of Rochester actually, heading back to Ohio after a short trip to the Adirondacks. We stopped to buy gasoline and my husband went into to a MacDonalds' to buy coffee and when he returned he said that there had been some crazy old man in the restroom talking about planes flying into buildings. We had been simply driving and enjoying the morning, no radio. When we pulled over to a gas station across the street, the man at the next pump started talking to us about the planes and the World Trade Center. When my husband appeared unaware of this, he told us to turn on the radio. We did and, like millions of Americans, were horrified to learn the few details that were available at that time.

We heard about the Pentagon, and it seemed like the end was indeed near. Rumors were flying fast and furious as newscasters tried to relay info to the public, sometimes without regard to substantiating it. We were told about a plane flying near Cleveland that wasn't responding and was of grave concern to air traffic controllers. This was as we were nearing Cleveland, one eye on the highway and one on the skies. The six hour trip home seemed interminable. We turned on the television as soon as we were in the door and watched the video of the buildings collapsing, and the burning side of the Pentagon.

Unbelievable, but really, all too believable. We should have not allowed the false sense of security to persist throughout the three recent decades of Islamic terror. We were given much warning of what was to come - the Munich massacre, the numerous highjackings, the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut and Reagan's cut and run from Lebanon, the various hostage situations, including the humiliating Iranian embassy takeover with the year-long embarrassment of Carter's inaction and the eventual pathetic rescue attempt. Then came the 1990's and the Mogadishu "Black Hawk down" followed by Clinton's cut and run from Somalia. Then the 1993 WTC bombing, the various embassy bombings and finally the sneak attack on the USS Cole harbored in the Yemeni port of Aden.

There is enough blame to go around to all administrations, Congress, the media, and mainly to the terrorists themselves. At least the 19 directly responsible did not stand trial, but instead met Allah face to face, only to find no virgins, just the fires of eternal damnation.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Masculinity in the 'Hood

Although I'm not a big football fan (the Bengals have cured me of that) I do have some thoughts about the NFL - Michael Vick controversey, concerning whether or not he should ever play football again. I'm sure the NFL, its lawyers, the Falcons, their lawyers, the team's owner, his lawyers, and Vick and his lawyers will figure all that out after criminal justice system is through with him. At the very least, the Falcons' fans, whether or not they have lawyers, will miss Vick's participation in the 2007-2008 season.

If you've been living in a cave the past few weeks, you may not know that Michael Vick, erstwhile black quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons, has been suspended indefinitely from the NFL, due to his pleading guilty to organizing a dog fighting "league". He will probably spend the next year or more in prison. Dogfighting is illegal in nearly all states and is a federal felony if there has been any interstate activity. It is possible for him to be sentenced to a maximum of five years on federal charges. That could put paid to his football career. If it is proved that Vick was also involved in gambling on the outcomes of dogfights, there could be even more charges against him, and he could face a lifetime ban from football according to the NFL's policy for personal conduct.

Obviously, dogfighting is a repulsive "sport" to most people, doglovers or not. The most heinous of his actions, however, were his methods of killing the underperforming animals.* According to the indictment, Vick "...executed approximately eight dogs that did not perform well in 'testing' sessions by various methods, including hanging, drowning and/or slamming at least one dog's body to the ground." Reasonable people would judge Vick a candidate for a severe sentence.

The larger question, however, is whether or not he should be deprived of his livelihood for the remainder of his productive football career. He has declared that he is sorry for his actions. Sorry he got caught, maybe. His apology rings a little hollow, too reminiscent of Paris Hilton's repentance of her multiple DUI's and finding solace in the Bible. It remains to be seen how Vick will attempt his own redemption. It takes more than an apology and admitting that he used "bad judgment and made bad decisions." After being heavily involved in dogfighting, he now says that it is "a terrible thing and I do reject it." Riiiiight.

What also concerns me is the developing debate on whether or not Vick is being vilified due to his race more than a white man involved in the same behavior would be. I know no one who would be satisfied with a less severe punishment for a guilty party not of Vick's race. However, there are few who could have lost as much as Vick has already lost. As one of the highest paid NFL players, along with his highly successful product endorsements, he was a much admired Falcon whose jerseys were immensely popular. Certainly Vick will lose his $20 million salary for the next season and possibly more. He may also have to pay back a good portion, supposedly $22 million, of his $40 million signing bonus. He recently lost his position as company spokesman for AirTran Airways and Nike has cancelled his shoe contract.

Future endorsements have flown out the window, unless his successful redemption would make him eligible for something other than a Purina commercial. Whatever criminal punishment he receives, he has already paid a dear price for his "bad judgment and bad decisions." He was ranked 33 among Forbes' Top 100 Celebrities in 2005. However, various antics even before the dogfighting accusations caused him to lose some luster and several endorsement contracts were not renewed.

Critics have been suggesting that this all is a case of "piling on" and that this incident should not cause Vick to lose his livelihood. In the case of his former endorsments as well as with the NFL and his former team, time will tell. A year or two in prison, with the exercise facilities that will be available to him, won't harm his chances to maintain the physicality necessary to return to the game. Another year or two after he is released, Vick can prove his dedication to "growing up" by avoiding the tempations that led to his downfall. The opportunities in the 'hood to stray will remain.

As another young black man who grew up in the projects has said, "If you can't change the people you're with, you have to change the people you're with." This young man, Farrah Gray, was a millionaire at fourteen, the money earned by hardwork, his entrepreneurial spirit, and his dedication to following the values given him by his family, pride, respect, hardwork, preparation, inspriation, the desire to give back and the strength to never give up. His book "Realliionaire" should be in Vick's jail cell.

Our current culture stripped away a black man's main role in providing for his family - in many ways, not just monetarily. The Great Society's generous but ill-conceived welfare programs made keeping the father at home with the family unnecessary. The advent of the Black is Beautiful movement of the late sixties and seventies was supposed to enable blacks to enhance their lives with pride at being black, not define their lives. Suddenly, the unspoken message went across the nation for black youth to not act like "whitey", to reject the white man's standards in education, especially and most tragically. Young boys interested in learning were often ridiculed for doing well in school. The entertainment industry, with the rise of cable television in the 70's and 80's, showed young black men and women where it was "at" for their success - in the NBA, or the NFL. The sexual revolution in the 70's added to the downfall of the family, both white and black, but it hit far harder among blacks. Birth control was available, and soon legal abortions were there to provide for the birth control of last resort. For far too many, the stigma of unwed motherhood became obsolete, replaced with a badge of self-worth.

From rolling out:
Middle-class black women with children fail to see marriage as an option due to their dissatisfaction with the low numbers of black men they view as marriageable material. The social castration of the black male has almost been secured with soaring high school drop out rates, unemployment, drug abuse, and incarceration.


Midnight basketball programs, the good intentions of keeping youngsters off the streets, reinforced the stereotype. Midnight homework programs would have been a better alternative, but rejected as too white. No one bothered to mention to the millions of young athletic "wannabe's" that only a minute percentage of people, either white or black, makes it to the big show. Millions are left behind with nothing but a good jump shot to show for all their years practicing. Without education to give them an alternative, they go back to the streets and look for other ways to prove their manhood. Then you find the development of men with the attitude "My dog is badder than your dog" and spontaneous dogfights in an alley, either for a few bucks, or the prestige of having such a bad-ass dog.



* I'm sure there are quite a number of athletes who are glad they aren't treated the way Vick's dogs were treated after an underperforming season. However, if Beckham doesn't get his act together soon, there might be some people willing to give him a "slight correction."

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

What Nerve!

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) -- Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards told a labor group he would ask Americans to make a big sacrifice: their sport utility vehicles.

The former North Carolina senator told a forum by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, yesterday he thinks Americans are willing to sacrifice.

Edwards says Americans should be asked to drive more fuel efficient vehicles. He says he would ask them to give up SUVs.

John Edwards proudly says he drives a an energy-efficient Ford Escape and says he uses his Chrysler Pacifica (a "crossover" vehicle more like a station wagon than an SUV) when he needs more than two seat belts in the back. He also admits to having a pickup truck for when he needs to "move furniture or haul something". When was the last time he and Elizabeth moved any furniture?

He lives in a huge monstrosity of a house, to the tune of 28,000 square feet, over 10 times the size of the average single-family home in the US*. He declares that in addition to energy saving methods used at home, he's going to purchase carbon credits in order to ensure that his home is operated in a carbon-neutral way, and at the same time, his guilt at using so much energy is assuaged. Maybe Al Gore can advise him on how to purchase some of his available credits. It looks like Edwards needs to purchase a lot. It appears that a great number of trees had to be felled in order for his house to be built to his specifications.

He is wealthy enough to have an attached recreation building which, according to his county tax officials, "has a basketball court, a squash court, two stages, a bedroom, kitchen, bathrooms, sqwimming pool, a four-story tower, and a room designated 'John's Lounge'." Imagine the energy expended just to keep pipes from freezing and enough lights on to get around the 10,400 square foot "main house".

Don't get me wrong. The man has worked hard for his money, even if it was at the expense of medical doctors' insurance premiums. He should be allowed to spend it however he wishes. I care not a whit about how he spends his money. What I do care about is how he tries to tell the rest of us how to spend our money and live our lives.

Edwards is a great one to be bloviating about "two Americas". Maybe he has inhaled too much hairspray.



*according to census figures.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Global Burning!


The photos spotted on the internet showing smoke emanating from the numerous fires plaguing Greece caused me to wonder what effect these fires have on global warming. Supposedly, the most damage in terms of heating our immediate atmospere comes from active volcanoes. It is difficult to discount the apparent damage from such massive wildfires.

A check with the National Interagency Fire Center gives startling information concerning current large fires in the United States. As of August 27, There were 40 active large* fires, burning 1,780,254 acres. That's over one million acres. We are accustomed to hearing about fires in California, especially in drought years. This year we have heard about massive fires in Oklahoma as well.




The map directly above shows all fires in the US in 2007. Pretty amazing. One interesting thing to me, in evidence especially in the following photo showing smoke from fires in the Santa Barbara area of California, is the visible pollution in the form of smoke from those fires. The pollution from automobiles is different in chemical composition than that in smoke from forest fires. I see no evidence of automobile pollution, however. Perhaps someone will inform me of the reason why. The Earth Observatory website provides satellite photos from wildfires around the world. It's hard to understand why there is no mention of the effects of such fires on global warming. The large fires currently featured are those in California, Greece, Sicily, the Amazon, Montana and Idaho, South Africa, the Canary Islands, Southern Europe, Italy and Manitoba, Canada.

* In wildland fire terminology, a "large fire" is one burning more than a specified area of land, e.g.,300 acres.

Friday, August 24, 2007

No Reincarnation Zone



Living in Tibet? Planning to reincarnate soon? Better check with the Official Reincarnation Permit Bureau to see if you qualify for a license. China has declared through the State's Administration for Religious Affairs no one shall reincarnate without permission. This is "an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation."

At first this seems mad. Of course, the atheist leaders of the Chinese government have a method to their madness. (The People's Republic of China invaded Tibet in 1950.) This ruling is aimed more at Tibet, and Tibetan Buddhism, than to people in China. It is an effort to maintain and even increase control of deeply religious Tibetan Buddhists, and to limit the influence of Tibet's exiled god-king, the Dalai Lama who is 72 years old. It is natural to expect another incarnation of the Dalai Lama within the next decade or two. It is believed that reincarnated lamas, important buddhist leaders, can be identified as young boys. Preventing the the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan Buddhist monks from recognizing their own candidates for this position, will give the government greater control over the future of the traditional and mystical system currently used for the recognition of the living Buddha who is to become the next Dalai Lama.

This is just the latest assault on Tibet's Buddhist heritage. Not only has the Dalai Lama been exiled in India and any images of him banned, but also religious and political websites with any reference to Tibet. Many Tibetans are even afraid to mention the Dalai Lama's name in public out of fear of retribution.

The Dalai Lama, who teaches peace and compassion, said recently in Germany that resistance to Chinese rule in Tibet must remain peaceful. He is optimistic that he will one day return to Tibet and believes that an evolving China that is no longer isolated will be able eventually to resolve issues with Tibet and help to develop it "while at the same time preserving our (sic ) own unique culture, including spirituality...." It may be some time, however, if the Chinese opt to stick with the hardline approach disallowing the Tibetan Buddhists the time-honored tradition of selecting the next Dalai Lama.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Made in China

(UPDATE: 8/22/07, 11:00am - Now it's blankets.)

(UPDATE: 8/22/07, 3:35pm - And now it's chopsticks! Recycled without benefit of sanitizing by a Chinese company. Think about that next time you order General Tso's chicken.)

(ORIGINAL ARTICLE) -I suppose it was just a matter of time before the bubble of inexpensive, imported items from China burst. The first indication was last spring's pet food scare wherein an unknown number of cats and dogs sickened and died after eating contaminated food. This triggered a massive recall of pet food from retailers around the world. Unscrupulous Chinese suppliers used wheat gluten "enhanced" with melamine and other compounds to inflate its apparent protein value. It soon was revealed that similar practices occur in the production of food for humans as well, at least in China and other parts of Asia.



Soon came the warnings of toothpaste and cough syrup from China containing a deadly chemical, diethylene glycol (DEG), used in antifreeze and brake fluid. DEG is a thickening agent which replaced the more costly glycerin, commonly used in the manufacture drugs. In Panama in 2006 at least 51 people died after ingesting cough syrup laced with DEG. The FDA is now blocking the importation of Chinese toothpaste, and one would hope, cough syrup. Also, the FDA has warned drug companier, suppliers and pharmacists to make sure that any glycerin used is free of contamination.



Chinese tires also made the recall list. almost a half-million tires were defective due to the lack of a key safety feature. Many of these were sold in the US.



This was recently followed by several toy recalls. Due to excessive amounts of lead,Fisher-Price recalled 83 types of toys made, at least in part, in China, Big Birds, Elmos, Doras to name a few. This was followed by Mattel Inc. issuing on August 14, 2007, a a recall for 9 million Chinese-made toys, some with small magnets, some also with potentially dangerous levels of lead paint. *
Now we have to watch out for items of clothing. New Zealand is inspecting Chinese-made clothing supposedly containing high levels of formaldehyde which can cause skin irritations and possibly cancer. Several parents have reported problems with their childrens' nightclothes causing rashes.

What to make of all this? What seems to be a coincidence at this point must cause manufacturers and governments to be taking a closer look at Chinese and other imports. They must ramping up investigatory agencies to prevent similar dangerous items from entering the marketplace. One hopes that any deviations from safety standards will be spotted among the items examined. But what of the items not examined? Let's face it. It is impossible to thoroughly or even cursorily examine each shipment of goods from China or anywhere else for that matter.

In the final analysis, it is up to each consumer to protect himself from unsafe imports, just as it is in every other aspect of his life. Since food items don't list countries of origin for each nutritional component, it makes sense to buy only from trusted food manufacturers, if one must buy prepared food. Although growing one's own food may be the best protection against poisoning, due to accident, neglect, or criminal intent, that is no longer possible for the vast majority of people. Careful selection of foods is possible. Buying locally grown produce, when in season, careful investigation of meat and dairy producers, as well as scrupulously clean kitchen practices, should take care of most food threats. We must rely on our government agencies to do the investigations for us. Governmental representatives must be reminded of their obligation to
ensure that these agencies are well-funded and well-managed to protect the country from unscrupulous or just careless suppliers of food and other consumer goods.

Even with adequate governmental inspections, some items one has to take on trust. Because no one can make his own car tires, trusted manufacturers will have to do. (Remember the Firestone tire recall in 2006 when at least 6 1/2 million tires were recalled?) Few people make their own clothing, much less weave their own fabric, or grow their own cotton. At the very least, purchasing items from trusted manufacturers can lend one some sense of safety. Unfortunately for all, the recent experiences with "Made in China" items has lent some more credence to the old saw "you get what you pay for."



(Remember playing with toy soldiers made of lead? We probably chewed on them also. My father had a collection of magnets that I played with quite often. It never occurred to me to eat them.)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Clueless in Iowa

From Lex:
"The more he talks, the more painfully obvious it is that he's clueless."


From George Will:
"Sen. Barack Obama recently told some Iowa farmers that prices of their crops are not high enough, considering what grocers are charging for other stuff: "Anybody gone into Whole Foods lately and see what they charge for arugula?" Living near the University of Chicago, Obama has perhaps experienced this outrage, but Iowans, who have no Whole Foods stores, might remember 1987, when Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis urged Iowa farmers to diversify by raising endive. Said a farmer to a Boston reporter, "Your governor scared me just a hair."


From Sloan:
"Arugula? Will all the Iowa farmers go out and plant arugula next Spring? Cows like grass and corn. Do they like arugula? What would their milk or beef taste like? Not to mention that if very many farmers start growing arugula, what happens to the price? Economics must not have been his strong suit. Jeesh!"

Next we'll see him with an army helmet peeking out of a gun turret.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Cowardy Lions


Last night, the Senate passed the McConnell-Bond bill (S. 1927) adjusting laws pertaining to the Foreighn Intelligence Surveillance Act(FISA). This intent of this legislation is to clear up debate concerning laws currently on the books regarding monitoring terrorists who are on foreign soil. This will allow the administration to look into intelligence situations without the delays associated with waiting for judicial review.

However one feels about this, it is dismaying to find that the final vote was 60-22 for passage. Some Senators didn't find it necessary to vote one way or the other, preferring to straddle the fence and avoid being shunned by those on either side of the issue. Such moral cowardice has no place in government, especially in a time of war and terrorism.

Shame on them.

UPDATE:
The House of Representatives followed suit with a 227-183 vote to allow warrantless eavesdropping on foreigners when the communications pass through equipment located in the United States.

Friday, August 3, 2007

A Dog's Life - Part 2



In March, I wrote about the death of our beloved Kirby. We heard from many of you who, after expressing their condolences, related stories about their dogs. It seems that "dog people" love to tell and hear stories about dogs, and most of them have experienced the heartbreak and grief when one of these special animals passes away.

After much thought and consideration of all the pros and cons, we have taken the step of adopting another little bundle of energy into our lives. This past Sunday, we bought a cockapoo, black with a few white markings, a male named Knuckles. Such a macho name for this little guy. Our other dog, Miss Dixie, is not so sure we did the right thing. She tries to ignore and avoid him as much as possible, even when he is inviting her to play in his coy puppy way. He stalks her, lies in the grass and watches her. Then he moves up a few feet, lies down again, and watches some more. Eventually, he gets up and starts running in circles around her, yipping at her. She just watches him and then gets up and moves a few feet away. Sooner or later they will be chasing each other around the backyard and playing tug of war and all the puppy games.

It's been four years since we had a puppy. We tend to forget just how much work they are initially. For relatively painless housetraining, I always take puppies outside whenever they do anything new, right after they wake up, after a play time, after they eat or drink; it's straight outside, saying "Go potty" over and over until they do what they are supposed to do, and then it's high praise and cuddles. We keep our puppies in kennels indoors for most of the time to take advantage of their natural instinct to keep their "bedrooms" clean. Consequently, I am taking Knuckles outside every half hour when he is awake, rain or shine. We also have sleigh bells hanging on our back door. Each time we go outside the bells ring. In a few weeks, he will start ringing the bells himself to have us open the door for him. The bells are loud enough to be heard throughout the house. It is great (also a free burglar alarm) and the older dog helps teach the new one.

It's been in the 90's this week and so I am frequently sweaty and dirty (who can resist getting down on all fours to play with a puppy?) and unable to keep my hair in any decent condition. My clothes are covered with little puppy footprints. This is going to be my life for the next few weeks until he starts to get the idea.

The initial cost of the puppy is just the beginning of the outlay of cash. We had all the puppy accoutrements, small kennel, bowls, leashes, collars, etc. I did get a new cushion for the kennel and a few new toys along with a puppy harness. Trips to the vet will add an expense. In a few months, Knuckles will join the ranks of neutered males and with luck we will be spared some of the more obnoxious male dog habits.

He's a cutie, for sure, and is already worming his way into our hearts. He will never replace our Kirby, just as Dixie didn't replace Jesse, who didn't replace Tasha, who didn't replace Pumpkin, or Zephyr, or Pooh-Bear. I could go on, and on, but I won't. Each dog is loved for his or her own personality quirks and lovability. Our hearts have enough love to go around for all of them.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Something Lighter for a Summer Friday




Our town has been reviving its entrepreneurial spirit lately with some new activities to bring more people into the center of town and to enhance the feeling of "community" and boost the local economy at the same time.

The past few years have seen an "Artisans' and Antiques Fair" one Saturday each June. This year we had the biggest turnout with more booths than ever before showcasing a wide variety of antiques and handcrafted items, from pottery to woven goods,from iron scultures to paintings. This coincided with two other events held in close proximity, a cruise-in, and the grand opening of the Tippecanoe Farmer's Market.

Streets were closed to traffic and two and a half blocks were dedicated to the Farmers' Market, a few to the cruise-in, and several more to the Fair. Luckily, Mother Nature smiled on the endeavor and gave us a magnificent day, with bright sunshine and mild temperatures. People flocked to town for all the events and, along with the items at the Fair, found at the market a delightful display of fruits and vegetables freshly picked by our local growers.

Each week as the summer progresses, the produce, artfully displayed in each booth, entices one to purchase more of this nutritious goodness than one expects to buy. People return home with arms full of delicious food items. There are booths with baked goods, ice cream, sandwiches, smoked turkey products (from a locan free-range turkey farm), fresh-cut flower arrangements from Spring Hill Nursery, pots of flowers for gardeners from another local grower, Springrun Farms, and even a young girl with a face painting booth to keep the little ones happy.

All in all, it is a great addition to our already great town, albeit a smaller one of approximately 9,000 people. The hard working volunteers who conceived and carried out this idea are to be congratulated. Their hard work, sacrificing every Saturday, has brought more smiling faces into town each week than I have seen in a long time.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Is it Hotter or Colder? The Boy is Crying Wolf Again

I noticed two diametrically opposed things today. One is a report from PIRG (Public Interest Research Group, a noble sounding name for a leftist organization founded in the 1960's by Ralph Nader) that claims that "Nevada is among the states with the most dramatic increase in average temperatures the last 30 years, according to a new study that examines the impact of global warming across the country."

The other is a graph from NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospoheric Administration, part of the US Department of Commerce, the "weather people", that shows the average temperature in Las Vegas for the past six decades. Specificallly, the average in the 1940"s was 81.3 degrees, and in the 1990's, 79.9 degrees. Yes, in 1960's it was 79.2, the 1970's 79.7, but for the past two decades, it has remained static, at 79.9.



At about the same time, I noticed a news report by hurricane forecasters revising downward their prediction for the current hurricane season.

Forecaster reduces 2007 hurricane prediction
Published on Thursday, July 26, 2007
By Kelly Riddell

WASHINGTON, USA (Bloomberg): WSI Corp., a weather-forecasting company, has reduced the number of hurricanes it's predicting this year because of cooler-than-expected water temperatures in the North Atlantic.

The 2007 season is expected to deliver a total of six hurricanes, instead of the eight previously forecast, Andover, Massachusetts-based WSI said. An average season yields six. The 2005 season, which brought Katrina, Rita and billions of dollars in damage, generated a record 15 hurricanes.

"Sea-surface temperatures really haven't warmed like they normally do this time of year," WSI senior meteorologist Jim Klein said in an interview. "We can't pinpoint any specific reason, but we're not seeing the tropical development like we've anticipated."


This is in start contrast to the advisory given in April predicting a "very active" 2007 Hurricane Season.

By Andrea Thompson, LiveScience Staff Writer
posted: 03 April 2007 10:07 am ET

The Atlantic basin will likely see a very active hurricane season this year, though not as active as in 2004 and 2005, according to a well-known Colorado State University forecasting team.

"The activity of these two years was unusual, but within the natural bounds of hurricane variation," said hurricane forecasting guru William Gray, who issued his first seasonal forecast 24 years ago.

The latest forecast upgrades the team's earlier predictions for the 2007 hurricane season. The team now expects 17 named storms to form in the Atlantic, with nine of those storms becoming hurricanes. Five of the hurricanes are expected to develop into major storms (Categories 3, 4, and 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale) with wind speeds of 111 mph or greater.

The earlier 2007 forecast estimated 14 named storms and 3 hurricanes.


Now, what is the average person supposed to think after continually reading such contradictory information in the MSM? Are there no experts? Are the "experts" just guessing? Does politics play a part in predictions and press releases? No Sh&* Sherlock.

The unfortunate result of this "crying wolf" is that the public is turning a deaf ear to the science community. The entire global warming "debate" is a case in point. Scientist with axes to grind and jobs to keep will suck up to whatever political entity seems to be gaining the upper hand. No ordinary citizen with a smattering of science education and no access to the lastest technological analysis will be able to make heads or tales of any scientific situation that faces him.

One of the worst developments of the last few decades has been the politicization of science. Theories have replaced fact. Computer models have been taken as gospel. Few people in the MSM acknowledge the fact that the nature of climate is a composite of so many variables, both within and without our humble atmosphere, and far beyond our "poor power to add or detract" that an accurate computer model is a figment of some scientist's and his political agenda's imagination.

It is so very disheartening.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

No New Persimmons!




I am giving up persimmons. Since they are not a fruit locally grown, and have to be flown, and trucked to Ohio, I am going to do my part to ease global warming and the energy crisis by giving them up. Read my lips - no new persimmons.

Actually, I am taking my cue from Elizabeth Edwards (Mrs. John), first lady-wannabe. She has announced that she is giving up tangerines since they are not grown in the local orchards of North Carolina and the environs. I guess she means to include oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit as well. And bananas. And lettuce in the winter. Anyway, she has discovered the virtues of fighting global warming by buying locally grown produce. Why, local tomatoes taste better that the cardboard ones from the grocery store anyway. (That makes it less than a sacrifice, but I won't tell her.)

Of course, her palatial estate is large enough for a greenhouse where she could grow her own citrus fruits.

Maybe she should check where her clothes are made. She may find that her silk blouse is made in Sri Lanks, the buttons from Guam, the zipper from Japan, etc. She'll have trouble finding clothes made locally. With the exception of wool, (I assume there are some local sheep) most, if not all, of the fabrics in North Carolina are imported.

I think she opened a can of worms. Those you can get in her neighborhood.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Back from Vacation

Two weeks is a long time to try to avoid the news and keep away from all the blogs and news sources. I needed a break from the daily immersion in the nonsense into which our political system has evolved, thanks in large part to the main stream media (MSM) and their self-important spinning and censoring the news. By censoring, I mean the choices the MSM makes every day about what to report and what not to report. Their spins are obvious. I can listen to a speech or comment made by a politician or government official and then hear something quite different from the media's description of what I myself had just heard. Oh well. By the time they figure out what's going on, no one will be reading the newspapers or watching the news. I guess the MSM will have to be re-invented.

Some thoughts since I last posted:

(1) On Hillary - This week I heard on the radios that some people think Hillary is not acting enough like a woman, John Edwards is not acting enough like a man, and Barak Obama isn't black enough. Bizarre. However, it must have bothered the Hillary camp somewhat because they sent out their big gun Bill Clinton who defended Hill by saying that he didn't think she was acting like a man, just like a leader. Then two days later she shows up on CSPAN or someplace wearing a low-cut shirt and showing some cleavage (GASP!). I guess she set out to prove that she IS a woman after all. I question the timing. You rarely see her in anything the slightlest bit revealing. Her handlers choose her wardrobe very carefully and she has Hollywood's best and brightest to assist her presentations. I know, it is a bit catty of me to even mention this.

(2) On the immigration bill - Now is the time for Republicans and other concerned Americans to jump on the good ideas that abound concerning immigration, legal and illegal. First, secure the borders. Then enforce the laws that are on the books and that are being ignored. Deal with each part of the problem individually without an omnibus bill that is too comprehensive to pass. Don't let nothing get done at all. Make the presidential candidates deal with it, debate it and present their ideas.

(3) On Huffington Post, Penelope Trunk has an article titled "It Doesn't Matter that Journalists Misquote Everyone." In it she complains that she's tired of people saying that so-and-so has been misquoted. In her mind, one can misquote with wild abandon because no two people see the same thing the same way. Ok, if you're a fiction writer, I can go along with that. Reporters, however, have a different purpose. Whatever they may feel about it, reporters are supposed to stick to the "who, what, when, where, and how" of a story. Editorialists, or OP-ED writers as they are called now, have the leeway to present their own bird's eye view. She can forget the rationalization, in my opinion. No one should pay any attention to anything she writes from now on. 'Nuff said.

(4) "The Fancy Food Show hit New York last week, and we spotted a welcome trend amid the countless aisles of confections and high-end preserves: Cane sugar is making a comeback. Since the 1970s, high-fructose corn syrup has dominated the sweetener market—its low cost has made it difficult for manufacturers to resist. But ethanol has changed the equation, and customer demand has sparked a return to a classic." This is from a weekly online email from Ruth Reichl at Gourmet Magazine. What is it they say about the road to Hell? Paved with good intentions, I believe. All those ethanol instead of oil pushers who complain about $3/gallon gasoline are going to be complaining about $3/can of corn soon. And anything else that will be used for ethanol. Carrots, $3 each. Looking for green peppers? Sorry, that field is growing corn now. Hamburger? $3 each at McDonalds. Cow's have to be fed and pastures are growing corn for ethanol. Sorry.

Let's just drill for oil, off-shore, on-shore, Arctic, Texas, wherever. Stop feeding the sheiks and start feeding the United States cheaper corn. If we don't, food prices will soar. Maybe that will solve the obesity problem, at least.

Friday, June 29, 2007

The Three "R's"

Some thoughts on a busy Friday, all on topics starting with the letter R.



1st R - Rushdie - The British have seen fit to honor Salman Rushdie by bestowing a knighthood upon him. He is now Sir Rushdie, I guess, so named for his contribution to literature. He is now on the same level with the Islamists as the infamous Danish cartoons in that there are renewed cries for the fatwa calling for his assassination. He has a bountry of several million dollars on his head. Gotta love that religion of peace.



2nd R - Reporters - The MSNBC website had a report the other day from one of their Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters, Bill Dedman, that consisted of his research into the political donations made by journalists. Does it surprise anyone that there is a definite tilt to the left among the sensitivities of the MSM reporters? 125 journalists gave to the Democrats, 16 to Republicans. Two, in the interest of being fair and balanced, I guess, gave to both. However, most reporters were too busy, writing checks perhaps, to report on this fact.



3rd R - Russians - The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming! God, I loved that movie! Anyway, The Russians have just discovered the North Pole and have planted their figurative flag right smack dab on the pole itself, claiming the land, the oil, the diamonds, and the snow, I guess, for Mother Russia. Santa Claus, forever after to be referred to only as Saint Nicholas, will not have to move. Oh, Canada.... Look out.

--------

That's all, folks. I'll be taking a holiday the next week or so. Family will be visiting and I must keep my nose away from the computer screen at least some of the time. Posts may be few and skimpy. However, if I get really fired up, I'll find a way to express my humble opinions, one way or the other.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

A Victory for the American People

After hundreds of thousands, probably millions, of phone calls, faxes, and emails to the Senate offices, the powers that be heard the protest that stretched across party lines and closed off any consideration of the Senate bill 1639. The final tally on the closure vote was 46 to 53, 14 short of the 60 needed "Yea" votes. It was even 5 short of a simple majority. I sent a heartfelt "Thank You" to those senators who voted "Nay" today.

When Congress and the President decide to enforce the current immigration laws, secure our borders, and prevent the wholesale looting of our social systems by illegal immigrants and their familial "chain" to follow, then they can once again address the other pressing problems such as:

1. How to deal with the current illegal immigrant population
2. How to streamline immigration requirements for both skilled and unskilled workers
3. Whether or not granting amnesty to illegals is fair to those who aspire to legal immigration and citizenship
4. How to justify to US citizens the continued granting of free medical care to illegal immigrants, free education to their
children, and other costly social services and privileges
5. How to further seal off the Mexican and Canadian borders to prevent the entrance of terrorists and other criminals
6. How to encourage the assimilation of immigrants, including learning the English language.

I have faith that these issues can be dealt with by reasonable leaders of our country and that solutions that are more fair to our citizens can be found. The inclusion in our society of legal immigrants can continue to make our country strong, vibrant and secure. The priority, however, should be for the citizens of the United States, not for the citizens of other countries who do not wish to follow the legal avenues available for those who wish to share in the American Dream. We welcome those who demonstrate their willingness to follow our laws by adhering to those that currently control immigration.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Open Letter to Sen. Lott and Others

(This is the content of the letter I sent today to Sen. Trent Lott. Variations were sent to the Senators and Congressmen from my state and others.)


Dear Senator Lott,

I urge you and your fellow Senators to vote against the outrageous immigration bill that is due to be reconsidered in the Senate and House of Representatives. I have never seen Congressmen turn their backs on such a vast majority of American people and their wishes as they have on this issue.

Nearly 80% of the population of the United States is against most of the provisions of this bill and yet you and your cohorts continue to support it, disregarding the opinions of the electorate. I understand that the populace will not agree with its representatives in Congress 100% of the time, but on an issue so crucial to the future of the United States there must be some consideration of the will of the people.

By the way, I am not a bigot, nor am I influenced by the talk radio that you disparaged recently. I hear no complaints from you about the one-sidedness of the other media, the press, and broadcast television, as well as many of the cable TV networks. If talk radio has any presence worth noting, it is because it stands alone to provide an outlet for conservative thought.

Thank you for your attention to this extremely important matter. Do not let down your State and your Country.


Sincerely,

Sloan Morganstern

Monday, June 25, 2007

Hillary Barack Ticket?

Had a discussion with my neighbor yesterday about the possibilty of a Hillary and Barack ticket for '08 presidential election. He said he didn't think Hillary would go for it, but Barack might if he were to get the nod for the top spot.

I don't think that's posible for '08, Barack in the #1 position, that is. He's too new, too much a shooting star that has already reached it's peak and now is going to cruise more or less downward for a while. Remember how infatuated Hollywood was, with all its fundraisers and spouting about Obama this and Obama that. Well, now the King has spoken. Bill Clinton and his cronies must have had a good long talk with Spielberg and made him an offer he couldn't refuse because now he proclaims his supports for Mrs. Clinton. Well, well. What a surprise.

Now that Hillary can be assured of the best and brightest Hollywood has to offer for her campaign ads (the Soprano's knock-off last week was a toe in the water) Obama had better be scrambling for some pros to help him along.

I think that the Top Democrats would be afraid to scare off some of the more conservative Democrat voters with a ticket headed by a woman and having a black man for the Veep position. Obama would have nothing to lose and everything to gain by adding Hillary as his Veep candidate.

What do you think?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Lake Inferior?

"Lake Superior, the world's largest freshwater lake, has dropped to its lowest level in 81 years. The water is 20 inches below average and a foot lower than just a year ago."

The above quote is from USA Today.

If that is true, and it falls in line with what the climate change scare-mongers are telling us about anthropogenic global warming, my only question is:

WHAT CAUSED LAKE SUPERIOR TO BE AS LOW AS IT WAS 81 YEARS AGO?

Too Much to Hope For


Drudge found this article about the BBC commissioning a report on its content which criticized the BBC for its liberal bias. Plenty of examples are given in the article supporting this claim, including instances of overt campaigning for liberal causes within television comedies and dramas, a series of shows resembling propaganda, and "America-bashing."

Additional findings report the "BBC's failure to reflect the broader views of British people", a devotion to political correctness, and antipathy toward the more conservative values held by millions of British citizens. Paul Dacre, editor-in-chief of Associated Newspapers, which published the Daily Mail, commented that "The BBC is consumed by the kind of political correctness that is actually patronisingly contemptuous of what it describes as ordinary people."

I have often read of the liberal leanings of the BBC. The US televised BBC programs that I have seen often show a subtle slant to the left, even in period shows of earlier eras. That is one reason that I no longer support PBS which is the vehicle for televising most of the BBC productions in the US. PBS is guilty of the same prejudice in much of its programming, from the multicultural preachings of Sesame Street to the ugly motivation of Bill Moyer's liberal productions.

It would be nice to see a similar impartial survey of PBS and other mainstream television programming in the United States. Never happen.

A Parallel?


Back in the spring, at the height of the French presidential campaign, there was excited talk among the left about the possibility of both France and the United States being led by women, namely Segolene Royal and Hillary Clinton. If only Great Brittain had groomed a liberal Thatcher, preferably one more chic, what a triumvirate that would be, if one can use that word referring to women.


Royal, "Sego" as she is known, was certainly the darling of the media, which had been proclaiming a good chance of her victory months in advance. A poor showing in the debate with conservative candidate, Nicolas Sarkozy, and other instances of "style over subtstance" led to her defeat to Sarkozy, May 6, 2007.

Segolene Royal was the amorous "partner" of Francois Hollande, head of the French Socialist party. In fact, they have four children together, in spite of never marrying. The handsome couple was often seen on the covers of magazines, often frolicking on the beach, Sego clad in a skimpy bikini. Rumors had surfaced of non-marital discord, which was denied by the power couple on the far side of the Atlantic. Perhaps the rumors were part of a vast right-wing conspriacy. The campaign continued with Hollande's full support. Now, however, it seems the rumors are true. Sego has kicked Hollande out of the "family home" to "live out his love story" elsewhere, as she puts it in an announcement to the press which itself has drawn criticism for taking attention from the fact that the Socialist party fared better than feared in the Sunday's elections for the National Assembly.

Now the question becomes how far does the parallel go between Royal and Clinton? Both are the female side of a liberal power couple, both have campaigned for the presidency of their country. Both have philandering "husbands". Both have denied the evidence of such philandering. If Hillary is not the Democrat's nominee or if she is and loses the election, will she tell Bill to "live out his love story elsewhere?"

It's pretty much agreed by political junkies that the Clinton's have stayed married for political reasons, first for his and now for hers. Their's has been a partnership of convenience in spite of the inconvenience of it at times. They are apart much more than together, with Bill Clinton travelling worldwide raking in the dough from speaking engagements. Who knows whether or not his sessions with Jesse Jackson and the other religious advisors were able to convince Bill of the error of his ways? The MSM media is not interested in pursuing him 'round the world to see with whom he might rendezvous. Perhaps he can visit France and console Segolene Royal.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Letter to Sen. Lott

Dear Senator Lott,

Although not a Mississippi resident, I respect your long service to our country and wanted to contact you regarding your stand on the current discussion on immigration reforms. I was disappointed in your statements regarding talk radio being a problem. I assume your remarks were made hastily and upon reflection you will issue an apology to talk radio hosts and listeners who have the best interests of the Unites States at heart and believe in their right to exercise their free speech on the airwaves. Your comment smacks of a desire to curb their influence on the current political situation regarding immigration. I feel that an informed electorate with pros and cons of each issue freely discussed in an open marketplace is a valuable contribution to the continuation of our democratic republic. I am sure that in your heart of hearts you feel the same way as I. Please let the American people know that this is true.

Also consider the gross unfairness of the current immigration bill about to be reopened for debate next week. This bill is unfair to those who are complying with current laws and facing long waits, financial hardships, just to enter the US legally. It is also unfair to American citizens who, looking ahead to the possibility of few if any social security funds, medicare funds, education funds, etc., to be told that these dwindling resources will be bestowed on illegal immigrants and their family members. It is unfair to the border guards who try to enforce the law and have the knowlege that in the future and very illegals they are trying to prevent from entering the US will be legalized. How demoralizing for them!

The American people are smart enough to recognize what a shoddy scheme this bill is, pure pandering to minorities, an unfair proposal to those obeying the current laws, and a drain on resources supplied by hard working legal Americans.

Stop this bill in its tracks. Enforce current laws first and take more time to develop workable, fair solutions to the situation at hand.

This is especially important when considering the needs of national security in this time of Islamic terror plans.

Thank you for your time.

Sloan