Monday, October 31, 2005

House Of Wax Trilogy Makes For Great Halloween Viewing

No doubt most here already have their Halloween plans pretty well cemented together. If not, then spending the evening with the House Of Wax trilogy is a useful and entertaining use of the evening. Have plenty of snacks handy, and grab the two film House Of Wax DVD set, which includes the 1933 Mystery Of The Wax Museum and the 1953 Vincent Price House Of Wax, and also pick up the brand new 2005 DVD version of a film called House Of Wax, but with little relationship to the first two films. All are Warner Bros. products.

The original 1933, Mystery Of The Wax Museum, with Lionel Atwill and Fay Wray(the lead actress in King King), has been compared to both Front Page and also Frankenstein by some. It involves the suspicions of a young female reporter about some strange events surrounding a wax museum. It seems that some mysterious deaths seem to revolve around this establishment, run by a currator who years earlier survived a fire that destroyed his previous museum. Now disabled in a wheelchair, the wax figure designer is back, but the young reporter has a hunch that something is amiss. A truly frightening secret involving bizarre crime starts to unravel. A very good early 30's horror/crime mystery film.

In 1953, a more modern version of the film was made that was filmed in 3D. It did include some corny sight gags that were intended for the 3D viewer, such as Second City TV used to satire, but beyond this, it was one of Vincent Price's greatest films. The film was a very effective update on the 1933 film, and perhaps the best of the three House Of Wax films made, although the 1933 is argued to be the best by the critical judgement of others. Vincent Price plays a wax museum owner badly injured in a fire set after an arson attempt by a co-owner who wanted the insurance money to invest elsewhere. The kindly wax sculptor, Vincent Price survives as an insane phantom who lurks at night, killing persons to encase in wax to rebuild his destroyed museum as his hands are no good after surviving the fire. Eerie music in the scenes involving Price as the insane phantom tell you that he's definately a very weird and dangerous guy.

Now comes the 2005 film called House Of Wax. Unlike the first two films which were definately an evolution of the one script and story, the 2005 version of House Of Wax involves a wax museum and people being killed and encased in wax, but beyond that the similarity ends. And if you can survive the sheer boredom of about the first 45 minutes of the film in which little much really happens, then you are rewarded with a genuinely chilling horror and crime story for the last half of the film, where weird and unsettling events quickly grow worse and worse for the fate of the young actors involved in the story. In this version, not just the figures, but the entire museum is supposedly made out of wax. Massive amounts of peanut butter were actually used in some scenes to simulate the melting of the House Of Wax during the fire scene, with most sets actually constructed, and very little green screen work done. And watching the filmed demise of Paris Hilton's character isn't entirely without reward either. The film becomes reasonably effective and worthwhile as better than many horror films aimed at a teenage to young adult viewers when taken as a whole. Not really that bad of a film, despite a mere 24% positive reviews according to Rotten Tomatoes, the film review website. By comparison, the 1933 and 1953 films both have 100% positive reviews, both extremely high marks for horror genre films, and a testament to just what a great franchise these House Of Wax films have become.

If your plans for Halloween aren't set in stone, or at least in wax, then spending an evening with the three enjoyable House Of Wax films from the Warner Bros. catalog are a worthwhile tour through creepy Hollywood filmdom.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Iran Makes Itself A Focus Of New Fears Once Again

With Iran's new comments this last week of seeking the complete destruction of Israel, the world community has new reason to be alarmed. While Iran claims to seek nuclear power for peaceful ends, the statements about Israel send up red flags to the world community that seeks MidEast peace and stability. It also puts Shanghai military alliance states such as Russia or China in a difficult position. These nations both profit from arms sales as well as other trade with Iran, yet it is not to their advantage to create the possible cornerstones for WWIII by assisting the possible development of nuclear weapons spun off from even a peaceful use of nuclear power in Iran.

With vast resources of oil and natural gas reserves in Iran, it has failed to prove to many that a need for the peaceful use of nuclear power to supply it's energy needs exists. And the tense and reckless statements of Iran only serve to remind the world community of Israeli or U.S. concerns that Iran probably seeks peaceful nuclear power only to spin off a weapons program to create a serious conflict in the MidEast. Unless effective sanctions from the U.N., an effective change of policy by Russia and China towards Iran, then military action by Israel or the U.S. could result, and a serious war may ensue in the MidEast and completely destabilize the MidEast or even result in WWIII.

This week America was reminded once again of troops still in Japan and Germany. And troops still remain in tense South Korea along the border with North Korea. And with a major commitment of troops in Iraq, the U.S. forces are increasingly spread thin throughout the world.

Iran has a military that numbers in the millions. The conventional American forces in Iraq would face a difficult military situation to repel a massive conventional arms invasion by Iran in response to any Israeli self-defensive attack to prevent the Iranian development of nuclear arms. Involvement of U.S. aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf would be required to protect the American ground forces in Iraq, and the use of antiship Silkworm cruise missiles by Iran may even result. A difficult chain of events in which it would be difficult to put the genie back in the bottle may result.

Unfortunately Iraq was a beginning of new chain of serious situations developing in the MidEast. But the apple cart will really tip over if the world community does not constructively respond to Iran's goals of seeking nuclear energy development. Their own statements this week point out why they should not be allowed by the world community to seek nuclear energy programs.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Edward D. Wood's Major Contribution To Halloween Movie Fun

Halloween seems to become a bigger event even each year. And not only costumes but creepy films become a major part of this outrageous and fun holiday. No other 1950's filmmaker but Edward D. Wood Jr. produced some of most outrageous Halloween movie fun titles.

Edward D. Wood Jr. was the producer of the worst SciFi and horror movies ever made. His film Plan Nine From Outer Space is the greatest hilarious halloween party movie ever produced. Using a little bit of silent home movie footage shot in 1956 just before the death of Bela Lugosi, Ed Wood sought funding for an ambitious film to entitled Grave Robbers From Outer Space. But afte having to turn to a Baptist church for film investment, the church insisted that the title be toned down. In one funeral scene in the film, pastor Lemon from the church actually appears.

By 1959, a full three years after the death of Bela Lugosi, Ed Wood finally had enough funding to complete what had to be the most confused and awful screenplay ever, involving an absurd movie plot where aliens from outer space resurrect the dead as zombies or vampires to kill the living to prevent the development of a weapon that would threaten the aliens in the future. But with only very limited screenplay writing and filmmaking skills and only a few minutes of silent Bela Lugosi footage, Edward Wood produced what is generally considered to be very worst movie ever made. So bad in fact, that it is considered to be the "Citizen Kane" of bad movies by some.

Plan Nine opens with a terribly moronic dialog from psychic, Criswell that drones on about a silly view of the" future" that was supposed to be profound , but badly failed. Then part of the silent footage of Lugosi is used alng with moronic sound effects of an automobile hitting him. In the rest of the film, either silent footage of Lugosi is used, or of a chiropractor who is full foot taller than Lugosi attempting to play him in some scenes. This absolutely hilarious. In one scene Lugosi enters a home. The Chiropractor frightens the woman inside. And Lugosi leaves the scene outside. This is so awful that it's side splitting funny.

And the cast of actors was the worst of the worst. Former Swedish wrestler, Tor Johnson, for whom English seemed like a distant second language, stumbled over his lines as a police chief, but was soon resurrected as a 300lb. zombie. Paul Marco played one of the worst police officers ever, in this and one other Ed Wood film. Horsefaced actress, Joanna Lee played the alien woman. Crossdresser, John Breckenridge, grandson of former vice president John Breckenridge, played the alien leader. In fact Ed Wood was a crossdresser as well, and for no reason whatsoever, replaced a woman who faints in a scene by wearing a wig and nightgown in that scene. There was no reason at all for a "stuntman" use in the scene. It was simply that Ed Wood was odd.

One of the few things that worked well in the film was the use of former horror movie hostess , Vampira. Her scenes as female vampire were effective in the film. But nearly everthing else was a jumble of bumbled editing, bad props, poor acting and continuity errors. Some have counted as many as 88 continuity errors or other goofs in the film.

For lack of money the props used in the film were terrible. Flying saucers were actually Hudson hupcaps on strings. A shower curtain was drapped over a doorway to simulate an aircraft interior. A few old WWII war surplus electronics items and a chair and table were used to create the alien spaceship interior. Cardboard was used for the graveyard tombstones, and actors bumped into these and they freely flopped around in some scenes.

Despite the very best intentions of Edward D. Wood to create a very great science fiction and horror classic, the result is unintentionally one of the worst films ever, and one of the most enjoyable and hilarious films ever made. In the Mel Brooks classic film, The Producers, two schemers oversell shares in the worst possible play with the worst possible actors in an attempt to defraud the investors. But Edward D. Wood used the worst possible actors in the worst possible screenplay in a terriby failed attempt to make money for investors and himself, yet just like the Springtime For Hitler play in the producers, the effect is hilarious.

There are many films one can enjoy for a Halloween movie party. But Plan Nine From Outer Space is the king of bad films. It's perfect Hallowween fun.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Score Yet Another Victory For Right Wing Thuggery

It seems that the right wing in America has found out that sheer thuggery that they can force their way on America. In the aftermath of the 2000 elections after Al Gore had a popular vote plurality of 500,000 votes nationwide, right wing thugs caused a noisy and illegal demostration outside of an election office holding a state court ordered recount. These thugs should have been arrested for disorderly conduct or even felony interference in the election process or a court order. Yet this thuggery stopped the court ordered recount, and a lawsuit before the republican dominated Supreme Court handed the election to George Bush. Right wing thugs proved they could muscle their way into the White House, and the rule of law means nothing to their lust for sheer power.

In the Bill Clinton years, republican lawmakers demanded that Clinton chose moderate judges, not liberals or progressives. Bill Clinton, a moderate democrat had no problem with this, and his appointments mostly reflected moderate choices. But now the far right seeks the most far right court justices they can possiby find to stuff the nation's courts.

But in another disgusting display of right wing thuggery, Harriet Miers had her chance to become a Supreme Court justice pulled from her very hands. Granted, Miers seemed like a very weak choice for the Supreme Court. But this would have been the greatest opportunity of her lifetime. She had the right to be heard in Senate hearings and judged by the Senate as to whether she was an acceptable choice for the nation's highest court or not. It was only a few weeks earlier that the same political right was urging that John Roberts be given a "fair hearing" by the senate, which he was. But in yet another disgusting act of right wing hypocrisy, this argument didn't matter in the case of Harriet Miers. Without even the benefit of a fair senate hearing, the far right began a ruthless attack on Miers, tearing her apart on the paperthin logic that she wasn't far right enough politically to sit on the highest court.

By every logical basis, it appears that Miers was farther to the right than Sandra Day O'Connor, and would have overturned Roe v. Wade, and would have sided with the most conservative justices on a number of issues. Yet there was a sense of decency about Miers, that maybe in some cases in which conservative ideology didn't automaticly drive her vote, that she might even fairly listen to cases brought before her on the court.

Now right wing lynch mobs of thugs will demand a far right court choice. Not someone who will fairly judge cases or listen to all sides before deciding a case, but someone meant to rubber stamp a rigid political ideology into law and force it on the entire public. This is the warped vision held by courts by the right wing, not the best qualified justice who make the nation proud of their wisdom, but a court dominated by a ruthless political ideology.

And many on the right are suggesting a far right choice that will be divisive and destructive for the nation as good for the political fortunes of George Bush. They think that the "brownshirt" politics of thuggery can prevail and impose their vision of law on the public at large. If those who disagree with this type of politics don't use this opportunity to speak up and defend the integrity of the court system, then America is heading towards becoming a lost state the will of the political right. The right wing has forced a president on America in 2000, who spent the first 40 years of his life involved in alcohol and cocaine abuse. The right wing has forced a murderous war on Iraq, that has killed as many as 100,000 civilians in that nation. The right wing is imposing laws on America protecting gun manufacturers who manufacture killing machine assault rifles with no legitimate hunting or personal protection use, from gun victims lawsuits. The right wing has voted to weaken the nation's bankruptcy laws. The right wing is voting to cut vital health service or heating assistence to the elderly and poor, while offering the most wealthy even more tax breaks. The right wing voted to impose fines or fees against those who file "frivolous" lawsuits. Yet it used to be the determination of the court what was "frivolous", not a predetermined notion by congress to prejudge cases before they are even heard.

Now it will be up to the more reasonable and progressive Americans to stand up for what's left of the American court sytem and stand against any far right judge and to keep the courts fair and open forum for all to be heard, not just the most wealthy. It's now or never time.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Two Refreshing Views Of Religion That Stay On Message

This week I happened to pick up two spiritually refreshing items, a copy of Watchtower and a copy of On Chanting Hare Krishna. What makes both of these items so refreshing is the genuineness of the faith of both groups who published the two magazines.

With such a tendency of some to soil the Christian faith, by attaching it to some of the most repressive and bigoted politics, to see two groups of very religious persons who stay away from politics and promote a healthy view of God. Both The Jehovah's Witnesses and The International Society For Krishna Consciousness reflect a view of God that is hopeful, promising and truly uplifting.

Unlike many Indian religions, the Krishna faith is monotheistic, and has high praise for all major Holy books such as the Bible, Torah and Koran. And Jehovah and Allah are both held in high praise as a unique understanding of persons who belong to those respective faiths. Jesus is also held in high regard as an incarnation of God on earth as well. And the rules that the Krishna members live by promotes a respect for living creatures by avoiding animal product foods such as meat, fish or eggs. It is a positive Indian based faith that deserves the highest of respect by members of other faiths.

And the Jehovah's Witnesses also promote a very positive view of faith, that earns them also a high level of respect as well. Members of this faith will help to repair damaged homes in the hurricane disaster areas. Members of this church also build their own houses of worship as well. Most members of construction groups can build a church over a two week period. This is very remarkable.

Unfortunately some in the politically conservative religious community have abused the Harriet Miers nomination to the Supreme Court to debase the Christian faith by involving it in some very unChristian debate. But at least some others respect God enough not to bring disgrace on their faith, and also recognize the real power of prayer and the power to hear the will of God in their lives.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

2,000 Dead Reached In George Bush's War

Today the grim milestone was reached when the 2,000th dead America soldier from the George Bush war announced. Some supermarkets offer a prize for the 2,000th customer. But in the case of the 2,000th American soldier killed, the only award is a trip home in a coffin and a flag given to the heartbroken loved ones.

And with a cost of $203.5 billion, or $1,831 per each American family, every household is also paying a cost as well. $1,831 takes food off the dinner plates of American families, or shoes off the feet of their children. It is $1,831 less that a family has to spend on living expenses such as rent or medicine, only to fund bombings of Iraqi villages or dropping 750lb. Mark 77 napalm bombs.

Equally as heartless as the carnage of Iraq is, is the cost cutting that congress is considering to continue funding the George Bush War. The Senate Finance Committee voted 11-9 along party lines to cut essential health care to the elderly and poor by $10 billion over the next five years with cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. Big HMOs fought any changes to health care insurance services in America during the Clinton Administration, so today, the U.S. ranks as the world's only major industrial nation with no government run low or no cost health care. Even Canada, our neighbor has such a system.

In Oregon, 42% of persons do not have dental insurance. To get dental assistance requires filling out forms, and waiting up to one year for possible approval. At OHSU, 2 children are hospitalized each day with 14 or more bad teeth, which results in heart or other systemic poisoning. No other major world government has such a problem.

In another move, the Senate with the support of only 11 republicans and 44 democrats defeated a proposal to spend 3.1 billion more on heating assistance to the poor that required 60 votes to provide essential heating assistance. Heating costs for oil have increased by 50% from a year ago. Heating oil is now nearly $3.00 a gallon. Some homes will require about $30 a day to heat. For the elderly, this is simply a death sentence if they cannot afford to heat their home when the weather turns cold in the winter.

Halliburton has continued to charge the taxpayer $400 per case for soda pop. FEMA is paying $7,000 per tree removal for homes, while $700 was the normal going rate before the disasters of Katrina, Rita or Wilma. One defense contractor was billing the Pentagon for hundreds of dollars for a one inch piece of metal with two holes drilled in it. Another defense contractor was billing the Pentagon for $400 each a glow plug wire for diesel engines that is the identical to one sold in autoparts stores for less than $20. The amount of contractor corruption is such an epidemic during the Bush Administration, that the law offices of Gary Galiher, with a phone number of 1-800-END-FRAUD is offering cash rewards for turning in the corrupt contractors that are having a golden age during the Bush era of free spending to big business contractors. The "culture of corruption" is having an unprecendented gold mine of cash to steal in contractor corruption schemes, while congress debates cutbacks to heat or essential health care to the elderly or poor to continue to fund the George Bush war in Iraq.

The George Bush war in Iraq will continue to take lives in Iraq, as well as at home in the U.S., when elderly freeze to death in their own homes they cannot affort to heat. And elderly and the poor will die from not being able to afford to go to a doctor or seek health care. And for the number of forces involved, Iraq is taking nearly as many American lives as Vietnam was for the forces involved there.

The enormous costs of the George Bush War will continue to fill body bags both in Iraq and in the U.S. Servicepersons risk and sometimes lose their lives, and Americans who have to sacrifice will pay such a high cost that some will freeze to death or die from lack of health care here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Rosa Parks: The Power Of An Individual To Change Society

The death of Rosa Parks was sad news of a great individual who made a difference in society. It propelled a young minister of God's Gospel, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King to wage a moral war against the sin of racial discrimination in American society.

Unfortunately most individuals often leave no more of an imprint on society in their 70 or more years of life than a footprint left in the sand that is soon washed away by the tides. But in her long life of 92 years, Rosa Parks made a difference in American society that is long lasting and permanent. And for Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, it also represented the days when figures in the religious community were respected for opening up society for more opportunity for all, unlike some of the current religious community noted for horrible sex scandals based on abuse of power in unequal relations with their flock or for promotion of discrimination against homosexuals in jobs and housing.

American society, while better for minorities since the early 60's, still is an unequal society. The poverty of many in the American Black community was well noted in so many desperately poor in New Orleans during the recent Katrina disaster. Unequal economic standing still victimizes many in the Black community, and some "conservatives" still attempt to grab onto any bits of racism that they can by opposition to affirmative action, or support for "conservative" justices who are code worded as "strict constructionists". It was sweeping court decisions that ruled the segregation of Montgomery, Alabama's bus system was unconstitutional, or a sweeping decision that ruled in Brown v. Board Of Education, that "seperate but equal" was unconstitutional. Great men such as Abraham Lincoln, whose life was nearly that of a Biblical figure, combining the best of Moses with the long suffering nature of Job, had a vision of an equal society for all. Rosa Parks was the cataylst for one big step towards equality in American society.

Monday, October 24, 2005

The Hope And The Hype Of Biofuels

This weekend, Portland, Oregon hosted a biofuel event in which automobiles were featured that run on old soybean vegetable cooking oil and also featured other alternative fuel powered vehicles. Biofuels on the surface seem to hold some promise to reduce petroleum oil fuel consumption, as soybeans are easy and cheap to grow. Yet at the same time some serious shortcomings exist to this biofuel alternate fuel approach.

Volkswagan AG and Archer Daniels Midland Corporation, the world's largest corporate soybean farm products business, have entered a joint project to develop soy based biofuels. To both of these producers soy biofuels have some advantages. They burn cleaner with less pollution than petroleum based oils and tend to clean, not dirty the entire fuel system. And such fuels reduce the the dependence on petroleum oil.

But there is a big disadvantage to biofuels. Soy based biofuels now require more energy to produce than they provide, and as far as corporate efforts to manufacture have proved, they are not cost effective. Only small backyard stills that process soy based biofuels and use used cooking oil from fast food businesses have been able to cost effectively produce user amounts of biofuels. This is especially true when solar power is used to provide the energy required to turn the engine blades that are used to create biofuels and produce the specific gravity required to create usable fuels that work in diesel engines or oil furnaces.

In addition, litmus paper and other test equipment must be used to determine certain factors related to each source of cooking oil to be processed, as well as testing with a hydrometer to gauge the specific gravity of each amount of biofuel produced.

In the long run, biofuels probably have a limited life as an alternative fuel source unless the production costs can be reduced to a level where major corporate production can be cost effective and soy based biofuels actually produce more energy than they require for production. But for now, only in the case of backyard stills, or for the sake of experimental purposes have biofuels proven themselves as worthy. It is possible to not only use soy and corn, but even yard grass clippings could be made into fuel with the use of engymes to break down the grass clippings into a fuel source.

Hydrogen or solar power actually hold far more long range alternate fuel source promise. Both come from plentiful and even far less polluting cleaner elements. Hydrogen is made by seperating water into hydrogen and water. Hydrogen usually only leaves water vapor as an exhaust product. It holds great promise. And solar powered electric automobiles now seem to be more possible as both solar cells as well battery technology have greatly improved. The recent use of hybrid automobiles includes the use of advanced technology batteries. But whether roof sections could be used for solar cell sections to provide enough power to the battery level storage, even with the use an alternator or generator to maintain battery level at a rate faster than the energy discharge under use.

I had an idea for a hydrogen/oxygen powered automobile that would use electrolysis of water in the fuel tank into hydrogen and oxygen, compress the two fuels, inject the hydrogen into the combusion chamber and use an unit similar to the old Paxton superchargers to compress the oxygen into the combusion chamber and the spark plug would ignite the mixture, creating mere water once again as the exhaust product that would run back to fuel tank that would be reused again and again as the cycle continues. The only question is whether this cycle could be completed fast enough to produce enough power to propel a 2 or 3 thousand pound automobile with a driver and passengers down a street or highway.

A few years ago, a relative of mine was the lead engineer for the William Lear steam engine project in the Nevada research site. Steam engines have existed since a crude prototype plans in 1698. In the 1800's, steam provided the power for locomotives, which used wood or coal to heat the water. In 1910, the Stanley Steamer was so fast that a standing offer was made that offered $100,000 to anyone who would drive a Stanley Steamer with the throttle wide open. No one took up the offer.

The Lear steam engine looked similar to an aircraft engine, and was a form of steam turbine design that could be appliedto aviation as well as automobile technology. The Lear design was able to run at 145 miles an hour in a test at the Bonneville Salt Flats, yet still suffered from the slow warmup time. Yet today, with microwave oven technology, these engines could be more viable than when first tested a few years ago as water warmup time could be reduced. Unlike the gasoline powered automobile, the steam engine always requires the comparatively slow water warmup process. And unlike the gas engine which is ready to go very soon after the key hits the ignition, this water warmup time for steam engines could extend for a few minutes. But the hot exhaust water could be recycled back to the engine to maintain the operating heat temperatures after this warmup period is reached.

Just like the days when the world depended far too long on whale oil for lamps, the age of use of fossil fuels has gone on far too long. It is more than time to develop a newer and cleaner energy source derived from the elements that cannot be exhausted and is cheap in supply.

Not only would a use of an alternative fuel be cleaner and better for the environment. Along with a ban on all public cigarette smoking, the use of alternative fuels would greatly clean the air and create far better public health. It would also reduce both the cost of declining availablity of fossil fuels. Most of the world's oil reserves now require the injection of gas or water into the reserves to maintain oil production, yet most have long since reached the scientifically arrived at peak oil in 1977. Yet the world's largest oil reserve in Ghawar Saudi Arabia, now requires that 7 million barrels of water be pumped into the oil reserve to maintain a 4 million barrel a day supply of oil.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

North Korean Companies Who Export Nuclear Technology Face New Curbs

While North Korea signed an agreement just last month in Beijing to supposedly end their nuclear arms program, at least 8 North Korean firms have continued to spread nuclear technology around the world. In a welcome move, the Bush Administration is cracking down on this nuclear technology proliferation. However, the major threat from North Korea was the major arms market in conventional arms such as the Nodobnng missiles. These have been converted by Pakistan into nuclear missiles. And Iran has undertaken a program to provide a longer range motor for these North Korean designed missiles just within the last couple of months, dramaticly extending their range to 2,000 kilometers, from the previous 1,300 kilometer limited range.

However the far larger and more serious issue of Chinese nuclear technology transfer to states like Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Morocco, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Syria was largely ignored by the Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and second Bush Administrations. For political and trade reasons, China was given more freedom than some other states to trade in nuclear technology transfers. In fact, the U.S. has even offered a recent tax credit proposal to an American corporation that will assist the CNNC with development of nuclear reactors in China. And this is despite the fact that the CNNC has long been responsible for nuclear technology transfers according to U.S. intelligence.

The Chinese National Nuclear Corporation(CNNC) which is responsible for both civilian and military nuclear technology, both for China's industrial energy needs, as well as the nuclear arms force of the People's Liberation Army, has been able to transfer substantial amounts of nuclear technology to mainly MidEast states, much of it dual use technology.

Pakistan received the largest amount of nuclear weapons technology assistance from China. During the Reagan Administration while the Soviet Union was singled out as the "Evil Empire", China was able to provide a complete nuclear weapon design to Pakistan. By 1986, Chinese scientists assisted Dr. Khan's research laboratories with nuclear weapons design assistance. And in 1987, Chinese scientists assisted Pakistan's nuclear weapons testing program.

Later in the Clinton Administration some efforts to prevent some CNNC nuclear technology transfers were finally begun. But other efforts of the IAEA, were effective at preventing some serious transfers of nuclear technology. But with the aid that Pakistan has previously received, it has provided assistance to some other states such as Iran. Iran may now have as many as 20,000 high speed centrifuges needed to enrich uranium.

A serious threat to the American aircraft carriers is the transfer of many antiship missiles by China to Iran. These could be easily retrofitted with nuclear warheads thanks to the wide range of nuclear technology that china previously supplied Iran along with other vital recent nuclear technology from Pakistan.

Any attempt to prevent the proliferation of weapons oriented nuclear technology and arms is most welcome. However it is more likely than not that the genie is a out of the bottle, and any late efforts to limit worldwide proliferation may be too late. Pakistan or some other state now seems willing to provide nuclear assistance for a price to any state that desires nuclear arms.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The International Power Elite And Globalization

Tonight the U.S. Chamber Of Commerce held a dinner with keynote speaker, former Soviet President, Mikhail Gorbachev, addressing the gathering. At first glance, the theme of his speech appeared to be the 20th anniversary of perestroika, or the restructuring of the old Soviet notion of an enclosed economy, that could be self-regulated from within with wage and price controls, government subsidized housing, etc towards an economy more similar to the not only world market economies such as in Europe and the U.S. , but also a member of the global economic community. And that's what soon become the prevailing theme of Gorbachev's speech, the subject of globalization.

It soon became clear that Gorbachev's address was to an audience that represented not only the "captain's of American industry" who are member of the Chamber Of Commerce, but also included Colin Powell, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Madeline Albright, and religious leader, Rev. Dr. Robert Schuller, as well others representing a bipartisan cross section of the "power elite" of America. It soon became clear, that just as Sociologist G.William Domhoff, once argued, there is indeed a "national ruling class" in America, and this "trinity" now involves an elite of the business community, politics and religion, and cuts through both political parties, and shares a common economic religion of globalization of the world economy. It is also apparent in the bipartisan approach to promotion of international trade treaties such as NAFTA or CAFTA that surrender the sovereign rights of individual states towards these international documents that are beyond the grasp of any single state to change once signed. And interational trade organizations such as WTO even organize penalty actions against states that do not follow the agreed to trade rules in these super documents. Nafta was a 1,700 page document, and CAFTA a 93 page document in which the U.S., Canada, Mexico and now Central American states sign away individual local and national economic automony towards these international globalization trade documents.

On the back of the American dollar bill is the bizarre and cryptic symbol of the all seeing eye hovering above a pryamid. This bizarre cryptic emblem that looks like something from a secret society is annoited with the Latin phrase, "Novus Ordo Seclorum", or a New Order For The Ages. Some see this as akin to the "New World Order" often spoken of by the first President Bush. However in the latest Bush Administration, this is played out in often contradictory terms. There is tremendous hardcore conservative resentment towards the U.N. as a global political order body, while at the same time the interventionalist philosophy of the Bush Administration is to force MidEast states to become members of the world community, while Al Qaeda and Muslim insurgent elements push for an Arab isolationalist vision. Yet the steady drumbeat towards an internationalist and globalized economy continues unimpeded in the basic vision of this administration more than any past administration encompasses the goals and interests of the business community.

American labor, including myself, lament at the steady flow of jobs to developing world labor cheap economies such as China , India and Vietnam. American labor would like to see wage and job security protections for American workers, yet one of their strongest political advocates, Rep. Richard Gephardt is no longer in Congress, and any philosphy that could be seen as "protectionist" seems to be crushed under the weight of both national and international business interests. There seems to be a wholesale belief in so much of the business community in the economic religion of globalization that any realization of the negative impact on American workers with declining wages or job benefits seems to be lost as the tide of the industrial revolution that once transformed first Britain, then the U.S., is ignored in the sense of American national economic interests as the internationalist globalization economic religion seeks to profit from the labor cheap economies of the world to manufacture the consumer goods while many American workers are reduced down to mere Walmart or McDonalds service worker status.

Old time social analysts such as Tonnies(1887-1957) used to describe the metamophosis from an agarian to industrial economy in percise German terms such as gemeinschaft, gesellschaft or gellenschaft, and the differences in visions from the sense of the individual and the relationship to community. Now it appears that an international power elite believes that the individual and their relationship to the community has not only expanded from beyond local to state, and now from the relationship of state to international community role. The concept of community has become a global one, far from the early concept of a village as an organization unit.

All of this brings one back to Mikhail Gorbachev. Was he a modern secret democrat or even closet Christian hidden within the old Soviet Communist Party leadership? Was his Glasnost, or openess philosophy concept for Soviet society, or his perestroika, restructuring of the old Soviet economy, two inevitable and realistc goals for a society that could not remain closed, or was it that Mikhail Gorbachev became an early Soviet subscriber to the new economic religion of globalization? Gorbachev's words at the Chamber Of Commerce dinner seemed to voice some concerns about the negative consequences of globalization of the world's economy. Yet Gorbachev seemed to play a reluctant foot soldier role in this steady march of the world states towards this supereconomy vision of globalization in which corporations and economies operate as international entities and the old Soviet empire broke down to become a part of this international community.

And on a second glance, this event was not a meeting of former past top leadership, such as Bill Clinton, Mikhail Gorbachev, Colin Powell or Madeline Albright, but also the integration of Hillary Clinton into a community of national and international business interests as she cements the economic network to finance her run for president and her role as an American president in this globalized economy. And with the economic ties that both the Bush and Clinton familiies have cemented in the business community, it appears that leadership alternates between these two political families that have managed to form a temporary lock on American leadership. This is at least until another major family political dynasty forges an economic marriage to the globalization forces of the international business community and becomes their new darling to promote their goals and to secure their financial support to rule America and support globalist economic goals.

Friday, October 21, 2005

24 Hours In The Party Of "Values"

In the 2004 election, religious voters were heavily courted by the Republican Party. There were numerous attempts in churches to organize voters and the Christian Coalition distributed many "voter's guides" informing Christian which political party supposedly represented "values". The fact that the standard bearer at the top of this "values" party ticket spent the first 40 years of his life struggling with alcohol or cocaine abuse according to biographers such as Kitty Kelley and others did not seem to matter much. Equally, the last roughly 24 hours were hardly characteristic of a "values" party either.

House Majority Leader, Tom Delay, managed a wide grin as he was fingerprinted and given a mug shot as his trial for felony conspiracy to violate Texas campaign laws trial is set to progress. Karl Rove and "Scooter" Libby faced another day of public scrutiny in the scandal of outing a CIA operative in a possible attempt to retailiate against an ambassador who did not support the war. Rumors that Dick Cheney may eventually resign continued. All issues that harm the political image of a self proclaimed "values" party.

In the Senate, a proposal to raise the federal minimum wage which has been stuck at $5.15 an hour since 1997, promoted By Senator Kennedy was voted down, with most members of the "values" party voting "no". Only four republicans voted in favor. Meanwhile in the House, a proposal to cut the essential safety net for the poor by $50 billion, while considering $70 billion in new tax cuts for the wealthy was under consideration. In the Senate, cuts to the Food Stamp program were fortunately sparred thanks to the efforts of two Republican Senators, Rick Santorum and James Talent, but whether they survive in the House is a very good question. Genuine religious right members such as Pat Robertson and others strongly support the moral notion of the wealthy sharing with the poor. But as the political leadership in the House "values" party look for new ways to cut the social safety net, further stressing state and local human services budgets, while looking for new ways to reward the big lobbyies and corporate donators with huge new tax cuts.

The power of corporate lobbyies really proved itself when two bills to shield business from lawsuits were voted. One that shielded the restaurant and fast food industry from obesity lawsuits was voted. While such lawsuits may on the surface appear to be absurd, it was historically the role of courts to decide the merits of any case, not for the congress to prejudge cases before they are even heard. But this isn't the worst business lawsuit shield law voted in the last 24 hours. A far worse bill was passed to protect gun manufacturers and gun dealers from lawsuits by gunshot victims or their families was voted. This is yet another issue that begs the "values" question. Again the fact that congress is prejudging court cases without a hearing is brought into question. And some gun manufacturers have deliberately sought to profit by developing killer weapons such assault rifles that have no legitimate personal protection or hunting us. And gun dealers have knowingly sold dangerous guns to felons, drug dealers, gang members, criminals, mentally ill persons and others. Meanwhile stories abound in America cities of the use of guns in crime and in mentally illness situations and in suicide. In Portland, Oregon an argument resulted in a shooting, and a disturbed man climbed into a treehouse with a gun, held off police, then finally shot himself. The same man was involved in shooting earlier this month.

In a mere period of roughly 24 hours a bizarre and twisted sense of "values" by much of the leadership of the Republican party on important issues such as the minimum wage, gun crime liability, cutting social programs as well issues involving criminal conduct of figures connected to the White House are tearing down the "values" image of the Republican party. If the democrats cannot politically capitalize on this and offer alternative ways to govern as well reasonable counter proposals, then they are trully a sorry lot. In the next election, many voters may want to return to reasonable and moderate leadership, and Democrats and some moderate Republicans may have far better appeal than the hard right Republicans who talk about "values", but support a twisted platform with litle common sense or reason.

The last 24 hours were pretty bad. Well, today's another day.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Reverse Robin Hood Party

In rank and file republicans, many, many good people exist. Actor Paul Newman, who has given more than $150 million to charity from his Newman's Own food products line is a fine example. However, in the republican congressional leadership, this sense of decency is often lacking. As early as this morning, the republican congressional leadership is promoting a cut of as much as $50 billion for essential services for the poor of America including cuts in nutrition, health care and education services. At the same time, the same twisted morality proposal awards $70 billion in tax cuts for the wealthy.

The bill cannot even be justified as a proposal to cut spending. It does not. It pushes the federal budget deficit even higher. And every tax cut proposal aimed at the wealthy usually does not even have the "trickle down" effect to eventually aid those at the bottom of the economic ladder. Every tax proposal that benefits the wealthy usually encourages more and more jobs to leave America for labor cheap states such as China, India or Vietnam. And this is despite the dismal human and religious rights record in China and Vietnam.

In the old Superman comics, a world known as the "Bizarro world" existed, in which right was wrong, and wrong was right. It the same sense of twisted logic, the justification for the current proposal to cut what little safety net exists for the poorest of Americans while further rewarding those of far more means than they can often possiby use makes no moral sense at all.

The legendary Robin Hood character sought justice for the poor, by giving back to them what the wealthy often stole. The current republican congressional leadership often lacks any sense of moral balance, unconcerned that poor children are permanently damaged by poor nutrition, or that poor persons needlessly die due to lack of basic health care. They embrace right wing organizations such as Focus On The Family or the Family Research Council, who are supportive of family issues in name only. These organizations lack any commitment to decent wages, health care, education or nutrition issues, and instead deceptiviely use the name "family" as a cover for a wide range of right wing issue covers.

Congress may get the chance as soon as early as this morning to prove where their heart actually is.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Wacky, Wacky World Of Conservative Economics

Today another disparaging report on inflation came out with wholesale prices takng yet another steep monthly inflationary leap. All serious business community analysts blamed the September 1.9% wholesale price and 1.2% consumer price increases on increased energy costs. Those in the wacky world of conservative economics continue to blame unions or wage increases for inflation.

Gasoline prices are 50% higher than one year ago. In Portland, Oregon, the average home price increased by $30,000 from last year to $250,000 this year. Yet according to the wacky conservative world of economics, a 10 cent an hour increase in the minimum wage for an employee of McDonalds who works 20 hours a week, or a mere $2 a week wage increase is inflationary. Yet this insignificant wage increase of $2 a week does not even come close to paying for the increased fuel costs for those employees to drive to work. Even for those that ride the bus, Portland, Oregon has seen three rider fee hikes just this year alone, all related to increased fuel prices. Any $2 a week wage increase for a minimum wage employee employed part time at 20 hours a week has lost significant ground due to these fuel price increases, not counting all the food, housing, or other inflationary costs related to incrased fuel prices or increased housing costs pushed up by developers or real estate community members to squeeze new profits from every square inch of real estate property.

Today another depressing news item stated the weak state of unions in America. General Motors and the United Automobile Workers hammered out an agreement to cut the 750,000 UAW member health care benefits by as much as $1 billion dollars. Many current union deals no longer include a pay increse offer, but simply attempts to hold on to what current benefits and wages are offered. Yet according to the wacky world of conservative economics, unions are a cause of inflation. Things are nearly as bad nowadays for unions as when Mr. Slate used to offer Fred Flintstone, "nice big, fat and juicy, no salary cuts" in the Honeymooners inspired Flintstones primetime cartoons in the early 60's.

Federal Reserve Board Chairman, Alan Greenspan, will no doubt attempt to "stem inflation" by raising the prime interest rate again soon. But again this is yet another wacky conservative response to the problem of inflation that is wholly inappropriate to the problem at hand. For a variety of resasons, fuel prces have dramaticly increased this last year, pushing up the cost of production of all items. Raising interest rates will not prevent the increase of fuel prices due to hurricane damage or by the increased world demand as the economy of China demands more and more of the world's fuel supplies for their growing industrial economy. The one note conservative economics answer of Greenspan to increase interest rates will only increase the cost of credit card, home, auto, or personal loan interest payments, but will do nothing to stem the increase in fuel prices due to the storm damage or world supply demand issues. At one time in America, wage and price controls were used to control inflation, first during the FDR years, and again in the inflationary Nixon 70's as the Vietnam War spending helped to fuel inflation. But this would not answer the current issues due to fuel shortage, demand or storm issues either.

The problems of fuel supply versus demand needs should be addressed according to supply issues. The old fashioned conservative economics that address the pain of inflation with the pain of increased prime rate boosts that result in more in more inflation of interest rates is no answer. And the conservative complaints against minimum wage increases or against unions are equally groundless. The claim that a busy McDonald's that grosses several thousand dollars a day will hire less workers if a $2 a week wage increase is paid is outrightly silly compared to the business daily gross. Some Portland McDonalds actually made a profit from the last minor minimum wage increase by raising prices by 5 or 10 cents an item.

The Bush White House has proven no ability to control spending or to balance the federal budget compared to the Bill Clinton years. Yet conservatives strongly stand by this free spending administration, yet take a Scroogelike line when minimum wage employees seek a mere $2 a week wage increase, but ignore a $30,000 increase in home prices or a 50% hike in gasoline prices. Yet like their beloved Bush Administration, they show no ability to be able to add or subtract, where massive price increases don't mentally register, but tiny increases in worker salaries are met with a pathlogical resistance. But that's the wacky, wacky world of conservative economics. As long as it can be called "conservative" it doesn't need to make sense in their own minds or in the minds of anyone else.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Run An AntiWar Website, Go To Jail

Chris Wilson, who reportedly runs a controversial antiwar adult oriented Website, Gore For Porn .com, raised the ire of the military back in September when he urged American soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan to trade photos of insurgent war dead for free access to nude photos of wives and girlfriends posted by others on Wilson's Florida based Website. Back in September, some newsouces such as CNN could not verify that the photos of insurgent dead were indeed geniune, but at least on Arab organization was outraged.

And as a form of twisted guessing game, viewers are encouraged to guess which blown off body part of a dead insurgent is displayed. With a wide range of U.S. weapons that range from a simple rifle all the way to the modern version of napalm, the 750lb., Mark 77 bomb, that is not always easy to do. Sometimes a head, leg , arm or torso is not always identifiable after a heavy duty weapon takes it's toll.

Now in Kansas, 300 misdemeanor and one felony count of obscenity distribution are being filed against Wilson because his website is available to Kansas residents and supposedly violates the community standards of one local proBush Kansas community. And because Gore For is such a low budget Website, and Wilson has limited legal means, the 301 charges set bail so high that Wilson must remain in jail for months before his trial because his family cannot afford the high bail which is set at a minimum of $100 per charge. Even though many if not most charges may be eventually dismissed, this imprisons a man of limited legal means and helps to silence a Website that has not been yet proven to violate obscenity laws. It is a form of prior restraint against views that are in opposition to the Bush Administration.

Chris Wilson may not be Mother Teresa. And for any member of the Christian community, particiption in pornography is not preferablely a positive thing, however in a secular society, it is indeed disappointing that anyone is arrested for a Website that has taken a political line against the war, where obscentity charges are pulled out of a hat to shut down opposition to the war simply because the operator has found an offensive manner to communicate his antiwar sentiments. There are far more raunchy websites available in both the U.S. and especially in Europe, but Wilson is apparently being singled out for his political opinions and antiwar content. There is a real intent by the American government to shield U.S. citizens from the terrible photos of war. And the absurd obscenity charges appear to be a desperate measure to quell down any content that may sicken Americans that our mission in Iraq is any less bloody or harmful to many Iraqi citizens than the violence of Saddam Hussein was.

One of the standards in judging obscenity according to the 1973 Roth Supreme Court decision was that material had to be devoid of any serious scientific, political or literary value. Now it appears the standard has been moved where opposition to the Bush War in Iraq now constitutes grounds for a possible obscenity arrest or conviction in a conservative proBush community.

And since the Internet is worldwide, it is impossible for a Website to gauge the political climate of each individual communities "standards". Far more raunchy Websites are available for viewing in Kansas, but do not involve the antiwar content like Wilson includes.

And it appears that most of the content on Wilson's site is antiwar or merely nudity, not the more raunchy content of sexual activity of more outrageous Websites according to CNN or other legal status reports. I haven't even bothered to view Wilson's Website yet. I have better things to do. But it is unfortunate that some like the political right wing, Focus On The Family, the multimillion dollar proBush organization are cheering the arrest of Wilson. It is pathetic that arresting people like Wilson for his antiwar opinions is now the best defense for the continued carnage of the Iraq War, rather than an intelligent and rational reasoned discussion that the Bush supporter community can muster. How pathetic.

18 older antiwar grandmothers women who tried to enlist in the military were arrested for "disorderly conduct". Antiwar mother, Cindy Sheehan , was arrested for supposedly "blocking" the street by the White House for a protest of the Iraq War. And now, controversial adult Website operator, Chris Wilson is being handcuffed and fingerprinted for his antiwar views. Supporters of the Bush Administration lack the honesty to outrightly claim they are arresting those opposed to the antiwar views against Bush, and hide behind nonsense laws misapplied to mow down the political opposition. Apparently they believe they rule by divine law, and are above question for their mistakes like Iraq.

The Post Constitutional Vote Aftermath

It looks likely the Iraqi constitution may have passed. And as I posted the other day, passage of the constitution is probably less preferable than the defeat which would have better integrated the Sunni community into a constitutional debate dialog. Instead, more frustration will now set into the Sunni community and most likely promote more support for the insurgent violence.

The U.S. Constitution took 14 years to hammer out, despite a far more homogeneous population, than the very heterogeneous population of Iraq, sharply divided along three distinct ethnic group lines. The better involvement of the Sunni population into political dialog, then the far better to quell the Sunni support for political indifference at best, or insurgent violence at worst.

The flawed constitutional document is hardly likely to glue Iraq together as a single state for the future, where the likelyhood of a breakup into three seperate ethnic states is far more likely if the flawed constitution does indeed pass. The Bush Administration seemed to pressure Iraqi lawmakers to throw something together on paper and pass it off as a constitution. It didn't seem to matter what the content or the consequences of the words were, only that the Bush Administration could have some new talking point to parade around as the approval ratings for Bush continue to sag to new subbasement lows. If this isn't sacrificing tommorrow for the sake of today, then I don't know what is. But a far better document that could have reduced Sunni support for violence and planned for a future unitrd state of Iraq would have been far better than the Bush Administration expecting the Iraqi government to write up and pass a seriously flawed document according to an articially set administration timetable. The Bush Administration is far more concerned with playing up to the political winds at home, then getting the mission done right in Iraq.

Along with the disappointment in the Sunni community, that participation in the electoral process is nearly meaningless, came news of a new horrible roadside bombing that killed five American soldiers, involving a new type of more destructive roadside bomb that can penetrate several inches of armor. This means that Humvees, armored cars and tanks are now vulnerable to this new sort of bomb, despite increased armor protection.

But this roadside bomb attack also brought on an equally terrible U.S. response in which 70 suspected insurgents were killled. But a number of civilians were caught up in the "collateral damage", and hospital scenes of a small girl or a grieving father crying over the wreckage of a destroyed home were gut wrenching. In fact as many as 39 civilians, including women and children may have been killed according to a report by CBS. It almost reminds one of the twisted reasoning of Vietnam, in which one American military commander claimed that "we had to destroy the village to save it". In reality, entire Sunni villages probably are antiU.S. presense in Iraq, so the term "insurgent" does really deserve some serious scrutiny for the exact meaning. Does 70 insurgents mean 70 armed radicals who are a threat to American troops or to Shiite civilian community members, or does it mean that 70 less Sunni comunity members now exist? It begs a good working definition.

Iraq is a terrible mess, and the artificial constitutional time timetable imposed by the U.S. simply to be able to point out to an Iraqi succcess story for local American political consumption is hardly good for the long run stability of Iraq. Bush has decided to gamble his reputation on Iraq. And any political paper derived "success" that will distract the American public from the fact of nearly 2,000 American dead, thousands wounded, and a couple hundred billion dollars wasted seems to square with a philosophy heartset to manipulate American public opinion until things get better in Iraq, which seems less and less likely each depressing day. Peace and stability is as elusive as ever after the Iraqi constitutional vote, in which about 40% of voters decided not to even take part. Bush partisans will scream success from every American rooftop, meanwhile the real ground level situation in Iraq shows little noticeable change for the better.

Telephone Line Service Problem Prevented The Monday Post

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Desperate Housewives: ABC's Advertising Windfall

I haven't really jumped on the Desperate Housewives bandwagon as of yet. I strongly prefer the NBC crime dramas on Sunday, Law And Order: CI and Crossing Jordan. Both have a real style and entertainment value that is more to my personal liking. However, I can't help but comment on ABC's advertising windfall that Desperate Housewives helps to generate.

With a viewership of 27.1 million viewers, second only to the CBS CSI's 28.8 million viewers, Desperate Housewives is an important revenue device for ABC. In May, 30 second ads that went for $450,000 have now shot up to as much as $600,000.

And the program is broken-up into six acts, surrounded by 5 advertising breaks. Desperate Housewives opens with a recap "teaser" with opening credits and then act one. But by 9:09:45 , there is the first advertising break with 6 national commercials and 3 promos for ABC shows. Then there is act two, but by 9:22:25, there is another advertising break with 3 national ads, 2 ABC promos, and 3 local ads. Then there is act three, but by 9:30:22, another advertising break with 5 national ads and three ABC promos once again breaks up the program. Act four then opens, but by 9:40:43, the dreaded advertising break again breaks up the program with 5 national ads, 2 ABC promos and 2 local ads. But then act five finally gets started, but by 9:51:07, 6 more national ads and three ABC promos breakup the programming once again. Finally act six is allowed to continue, and includes both the end credits as well as a preview "teaser" for next week's program as well as a promo to push the Desperate Housewives DVD.

It's an example of the incredible shrinking TV program. At one time, a 60 minute TV program was really about 50 minutes long. Then it slowly became whittled down as Neilsen ratings helped to drive a profit driven market where the success or failure of a program is not measured by the quality of a program, but it's ability to drive ratings that drives advertising revenue. A few years ago when the X Files was the most successful program on FOX, the 44 minute program replaced the longer program on other networks to allow for more advertising to be sold. Now a huge ratings success like Desperate Housewives is breaking the 41 minute program point, which again represents a new shrinking programming standard because the ratings draw advertisers, and since ABC can command top dollar for ads during a 27.1 million viewer powerhouse like Housewives, the temptation of ABC not to market as many ads for as high of dollar value is simply too great.

The Public enjoys TV as a cultural entity. From this viewpoint, the viewing audience embraces and admires Desperate Housewives as a beloved way to spent an hour each Sunday evening. But at ABC, like all TV and cable networks, all programming is merely a business. Desperate Housewives is a vehicle for a network desperately seeking advertising revenues to not only offset the production costs of a top notch program like Desperate Housewives, but to keep a solvent bottom line for a profitable network that functions well.

More Debate On The Iraqi Constitution May Be The Better Option

The Bush Administration is hopeful that the Iraqi constitution may pass. Yet because of so many limitations, failure of the constitution, and more constructive debate may well be the better option.

One of the best signs was that many Sunni voters made an effort to vote against the constitution. Compared to the ongoing Sunni support for insurgent violence including planting roadside bombs, using suicide attacks against innocent civilians, or shooting at American soldiers, the fact that many Sunni voters are expressing their opinion about the constitution at the polls rather than insurgent street violence is a constructive step.

The current draft of the Iraqi constitution is hardly a document intended for a future united state of Iraq, Instead it is more of a dissolution document in which the oil assets are divied between the Shiite and Kurdish ethnic groups, only leaving the 22% Sunni minority the sand Western Iraq as a natural resource. More debate onthe Iraqi constitution would likely lead to a document in which a united state of Iraq is actually planned for the future. If Iraq should splinter into three ethnic states, the problems for the U.S. in regards to the policy of these three states would be greatly complicated. Turkey is wary of Kurdish intentions to seek a state of Kurdistan which would involve part of Turkey, and current ethnic tensions among the Turkish Kurdish community would be greatly worsened. And the Shiite state may seek very close relations with Iran, and become either a near satellite state or even worse, annexed. And a Sunni state may well become the haven for terrorists that would be the worst fears of Washington.

Women are not really happy that their role in Iraq seems to be compromised in the current Iraqi constitution. And those seekng a more modern, more secular Arab state, are concerned about the role of the Muslim faith that seems to be heavily part of the current document. There is one of the largest Christian communities in the MidEast in Iraq, as well as a small Jewish community in this state. Both of these minority religious groups may face increased religious persecution if the Muslim faith is officially embraced in the current Iraqi constitution.

The exit of American troops from Iraq is not really tied to the success of the Iraqi constitution. The exit of American soldiers is tied to a success of the Iraqi military and police as a force to defend their own country. And whether the U.S. actually intends to completely exit from Iraq is also an issue. Congress recently approved $500 million for permanent American military base construction in Iraq. And Paul Wolfowitz testified before congress at a time prior to the 2003 Iraq War, about the need for an American military presense in Iraq to secure the Strait Of Hormuz oil pathway that is under Iranian control. And the U.S. has sought military bases in former Soviet and Warsaw Pact states, and still maintains military bases in Japan, Germany and Korea, with little sign of leaving in the near future. One airbase in Germany was recently returned to German control. But bases established since the end of WWII will still remain for the foreseeable future.

What's positive in Iraq is that it has democratic elections. It has elected representatives, and that many in the Sunni community bothered to vote rather than support insurgent activity. These are far better factors than whether the Iraqi constitution passes or fails. If the Iraqi constitution would fail, it would be shortsighted for the media to see it merely as a defeat for America or the Bush Administration. Instead it might well be in the better intersts of Iraq to have more debate on a constitution, that would involve more and more Sunni participation in the debate, and to create a far better document that would help to secure a single united Iraq state for the future.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

The Moonie Washington Times Disconnect From Reality

The Moonie owned Washington Times is often little more than a mouthpiece for absurd and silly right wing propaganda. A recent feature published by Maj. Gen. Robert H. Scales is a prime example. This absurd feature claimed that Iraq now has 117 battalions, when all recent proof is that a few months ago Iraq had three battalions of about 2,000 soldiers able to fight on their own, but now is down to just one battalion of 700 men. This is no sign of progress in the minds of anyone but the Editors of the Washington Times. It is not the opinion of some antiwar organization that only one Iraqi army battalion exists, it is based on the best military intelligence information given to U.S. Senators such as Joesph Biden and others. Even Republicans such as John McCain and Chuck Hagel, both respected war veterans find real problems with the truth about Iraq.

In fact, the number of American troops was even increased by 14,000 recently in Iraq to 152,000 soldiers. If the military of Iraq was coming together as well as the feature in the Moonie paper claims, then why is this increase in American troops necessary?

But even more troubling is why such an absurd propaganda feature is even published? Is it solely to bolster the sagging poll ratings for the war by dangling false hope for an early American exit from Iraq?

But a good question is this, is there really any intent for the U.S. to leave Iraq or simply to scale back troops somewhat. Congress recently approved $500 million for American military base construction for permanent military bases in Iraq. And Paul Wolfowitz, one of the planners of the Iraq War testified before Congress, arguing that an American presense in Iraq was central to protecting oil supplies from the Strait Of Hormuz, which is controlled by Iran. And the U.S. still has military bases in Germany, Japan, Korea, after those wars. Today the Bush Administration is holding up the hope to America that the vote on the Iraqi constitution is central to American troops leaving Iraq. But is this really true? Is there any evidence that the Bush Administration wants America out of Iraq. In fact, there are new attempts by the Administration to station American soldiers in former Soviet bloc or allied states. Every effort of the Bush Administration is to expand the American military presense around the world, not to roll it back.

Even in Iraq,the war is slowly expanding to other states, as a number of border fights between U.S. Army Rangers and Marines has killed a number of Syrian soldiers, as Syria becomes the new Cambodia for border fighting of foreign invading insurgents. It is only a matter of time before the combat with Syrian soldiers becomes less covert, and an open truth. And only a matter of time before open combat with Iran over their nuclear ambitions and sending of foreign fighters into Iraq becomes a major friction point, rsulting in open warfare between the U.S. and Iran.

It's always curious when American conservatives and even the so-called religious right gathers in support of the Moonie Washington Times. It was not that long ago that that some in Congress helped to stage and participated in a Moonie ceremony in part of the Capitol building in which the leader of the Moonie cult, Rev. Moon was crowned as the new "Messiah", replacing Jesus. It is yet another example of the religious right and conservatives openly accepting false religion as well as the false politics promotted by the Washington Times. Whether it's support for Rev. Moon, The Washington Times, embracing a ceremony accepting a false replacement for Jesus, or accepting nonsense propaganda about the Iraq War, some conservatives seem very gullible to accept outright foolishness as truth.

Sometimes it seems there is the Moonie version of events, and there is the truth.

Friday, October 14, 2005

All The War's A Stage

It seems like in a futile effort to sell the increasingly unpopular war in Iraq, that increasingly pathetic means are being used to sell the war. Thursday morning, Mr. Bush had what was supposed to be a question and answer session with some soldiers in Iraq and one Iraqi soldier. However, a satellite feed before this event involved a Pentagon person using the term "scripted", and the entire question and answer event was a staged event with scripted questions intended to serve as solely propaganda for the war effort. Even pauses in speech by the soldiers were scripted by the Pentagon before the question and answer event. Almost everything, except eye blinks were scripted by the Pentagon it appears.

This scripting of military interaction with the press is nothing new. The military has already warned soldiers they will face discipline or demotion in rank if they are critical of the war with reporters. Only positive and scripted approval of the war is approved by the military, other unscripted talk by soldiers with reporters is officially prohibited.

With all the attempts to stage events to sell the unpopular war by the military, the Pentagon has also lied about some aspects of the Iraq War in a manner that is more befitting of "Baghdad Bob" and not an open and honest republic. The Pentagon has denied the use of a modern napalm type bomb in Iraq. Yet from the beginning of the first Gulf War and again in 2003, a modern version of napalm, a fuel gel bomb, the 750 lb. Mark 77, were used. A total of 530 of these fuel gel bombs have now been dropped in Iraq, despite official denials by the Pentagon, contradicted by pilots who reported the loading and dropping of such bombs. These fuel gel bombs have been outlawed by a U.N. treaty where all of 191 U.N member nations but the U.S. and Russia signed the U.N. treaty and do not use such terrible conventional weapons. It is no wonder that the Pentagon lies to the American public and officially denies the use of such terrible weapons.

But the Bush Administration has made other use of scripted or staged events.

Two well dressed women who drove to the disaster area after the hurricane Katrina disaster simply to loot clothing from damaged homes were used in photo-opt by Bush handlers and presented as disaster victims to the media. This may not have entirely been the fault of Bush handlers, but was certainly yet another outrageous event surrounding this administration in which a photo-opt was constructed solely for political propaganda purposes.

Before the 2004 election, the "granddaddy" of staged photo-opt events by the Bush Administration was the use of an empty warehouse as a "Hollywood" style set for a staged event for an economic address propaganda event by Bush. Bush handlers contracted to have a gaint painted canvas made to be hung in the empty warehouse that appeared to the television cameras as a factory full of American made goods about to be shipped. This is an old Hollywood visual trick, where painted hills or valleys are often a painted canvas on an indoor set. And empty boxes of goods made in China, had phony "Made in USA" labels pasted on. And White House staffers and other Bush workers put on factory worker costumes with hardhats to appear as cheering factory workers against a scripted speech. Never mind that over 30 million American jobs have been lost to China, the event was used to falsely portray the strength of the American economy and factories. It was deeply sad that a real American factory of cheering workers could not be found within the borders of the U.S. This was the real tragedy.

This administration like no other has made use of phony staged events, costumes, scripts, props, painted sets, and rigged photo-opts. Just the other day, Bush was part of a photo-opt in which he donned a hardhat to put a few nails on a Habitat For Humanity home. He certainly did not build the home as many who spent many days, weeks, months or years working for Habitat For Humanity have done. This administration relies on far more smoke and mirrors and illusions than magician David Copperfield it seems, in it's absurdly staged attempts to sell it's unpopular views to an increasingly wary public.

Oregon Legislator Girl Gone Wild: Update

Since I wrote yesterday about the situation with Oregon state legislator, Kelly Wirth, much has happened. She turned herself into the police and is being charged with felony drug possession for meth. A statement from the Democratic Party of Oregon leaked out where Kelley Wirth is gong to officially resign her seat in the state house of representatives today.

One person even claimed that Rep. Wirth is known meth user. This is sad because not that long ago she was part of the legislature efforts to rid oregon of this terible problem of meth. But the spiritual evil of drugs have proven themself as Rep. Kelly Wirth got sucked down through the drug world it brought on a sad cycle of poor decisions and bizarre acts that ruined her reputation and destroyed her career in the Oregon state legislature. What started out as almost laughable Jerry Springer typre capitol love triangle nonsense, soon turned sadder and sadder. Rep. Kelly Worth deserves the prayers of all that her life shows an upswing and she leaves her problems behind her very soon. But the Oregon legislature is no place for her or any legislator who cannot responsibly conduct themselves.

I was also pleased that the leadership of the state Democratic Party as well as her fellow representatives made no attempt to defend the absurd conduct of Rep. Kelley Wirth. Rep. Diane Rosenbaum D-Portland, hoped that most persons would remember the legislature for their efforts on behalf of "health care, education and public safety". Most legislators did in fact conduct themselves in a constructive manner. It was only Kelley Wirth would brought disgrace on herself with a scandal of sex and meth.

Oregon state democrats handled the scandals of Kelley Wirth very well. There appeared to be a large behind the scenes effort to urge her to quickly resign and not to tarnish either the legislature or the Democratic Party organization. On the other hand, at the national level, both Tom Delay and Karl Rove have not handled their situations very well at all. Tom Delay has turned on prosecutor Ronnie Earle in a new attack, and claimed partisanship on the part of Earle, although of the 15 politicians that Earle has prosecuted for corruption, 12 of 15 were democrats. And a lobbyist friend associated with Delay even has some association to a recent story on America's Most Wanted that dealt with a murder and organized crime. No major politician should be so close to a lobbyist friend with some ties to any story events on America's Most Wanted. It often seems that you can judge the character of some by who their friends are, and Delay needs at least one new friend.

Delay needs to quickly divorce himself of any relationship to any figures under serious question, or his vindicative attitude towards others and instead build a credible defense for the charge that Delay himself is facing. Delay needs to prove his innocence of the charge and prove to a judge or jury that he's a decent defendant, not some sort of thug . The attack on prosecutor Earle and the reputation of Delay of as "The Hammer" who brutally ruins his opponents is not helping his case . And the scandal involving Karl Rove in which an ambassador's wife was somehow exposed as a CIA officer to possiby retailiate for the ambassadors opposition to the Iraq War, also raises serious issues. Neither case has been handled in the mature way as the fellow legislators or Oregon state democrats have dealt with the scandals of Kelley Wirth.

Voters have the right to expect moral and reasonable leadership in government. Sex scandals, meth abuse, thuggery or other poor conduct is simply not acceptable or moral.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Oregon Legislator Girl Gone Wild

Corvallis Oregon is a college town. And 40 year old democratic Oregon state legislator, Kelley Wirth acts as though she is still a college sorority girl out on a wild spring break weekend. Rep. Wirth, who is attractive, and looks a little like a slightly heavy-set and overaged Susan Dey from the old Partrige Family TV Show. And Wirth, who still lives with her mother, has managed to turn her recent reputation as an Oregon legislator into an absurd tale of sex and drugs, much to the disappointment and concerns of both fellow legislators and her district voters.

A few weeks ago, a reported relationship that Wirth had with a young janitor in the state capitol building resulted in a three person argument at the home of the janitor, in which it was reported that Wirth, the janitor, and the former girlfriend of the janitor engaged in a very angry exchange. This angry exchange led to a violent episode later that evening that resulted in the janitor's former girlfriend running down Wirth with her car, causing severe leg injuries to Wirth. For an Oregon legislator who is supposed to act maturely in office, this entire incident seemed like a Jerry Springer Show love triangle gone bad. Who knew the Oregon legislature was ever intended to be a dating agency for the unfulfilled passions of legislators?

In the Oregon legislature, three bills came up for a vote in the last session to tighten-up the supply of chemicals that are used to create meth drugs in Oregon. Oregon has the worst problems in the nation with meth abuse and meth crime. And interestingly, Rep. Kelley Wirth was the only legislator to vote against all three of these bills. One bill, for example puts Sudafed, and similar over the counter drugs behind pharmacy counters and creates a drug log of buyers to prevent large sales to persons who use this medication to produce meth. Another bill that has been signed into law will require a doctor's prescription for drugs such as Sudafed, that often end up in meth . Ebay for example recently banned the sales of large amounts of Sudafed to help to stem the use of this over the counter drug in meth.

Now comes the latest silly episode of the Kelley Wirth saga. The incident last month in which Wirth was injured has now reportedly turned up a user amount of meth that police want to question Wirth about. And despite the fact that Wirth is still injured from last month's automobile assault, she is now missing and cannot be found for police questioning and investigation into the meth evidence found.

At least Wirth is not a hypocrite. She was the only vote against tightening the Oregon meth laws. But this is certainly not the sort of conduct that Oregonian's expect of their legislators. The mounting problems for Wirth are a huge embarrassment.

Oregon democrats were able to win back a majority in the state senate. And every race in the Oregon state house is critical to democrats hopes for regaining support in the Oregon legislature. The Republican speaker of the house has sided with the big tobacco lobby interests and has blocked legislation from even coming to a vote that she personally disagreed with, or was against the interests of big business or big lobby efforts. Oregon democrats need to quickly rid themselves of the plague of Kelley Wirth. 2006 may indeed be a big year of "make it or break it" for the democrats. They cannot afford an anchor like Kelley Wirth to drag along the feet of the party. The Oregon state democrats need to quickly urge Wirth to resign her seat, and seek to find an attractive candidate who will honorably represent the seat that Wirth holds in the Oregon legislature. With every seat vital to a democratic revival in the Oregon legislature for democrats, the bad publicity surrounding Wirth is hardly helpful to the chances of the state democrats. Only serious democrats need apply for political offices. There is no room for politicians like Wirth and her "girl's gone wild" type of politics when serious issues face Oregon, and democrats face a vital test in 2006 to wrest control of the state house from the republican majority.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

One Sunni Party Cooperation Does Not Guarantee Peace In Iraq

It has been announced that one Sunni political party will cooperate with the Shiite and Kurdish elements that are in the driver seat with the design of the Iraqi constitution. Yet this does not necessarily hold promise that the Sunni led insurgency will cease. The support of a single conservative Sunni party to lay down it's deep-set and long running ethnic conflict with the Shiites and Kurds, who are urging their members to vote for the constitution, will hardly quell the most radical elements who are the face of the Iraqi insurgency.

The roots of the conflict in Iraq began shortly after WWI. During WWI, Turkey aligned with other ethnic Arab areas in the MidEast and formed the old Muslim Ottoman Empire which had long sought to impose the Muslim faith throughout Europe in the long running conflict between the Muslim and the Christian world in Europe. Past conflicts left pockets of Muslims in states like Bosnia setting up the ethnic conflict that followed after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

During WWI, Turkey was an ally of Germany, and this set up a conflict where Turkish control of southern Europe would likely mean that Southern European states such as Spain, Italy and other states would likely have the Muslim faith imposed on them if Turkey and Germany should win the war. A combined military of British, Irish, French and Australian soldiers faced a terrible military defeat at the horriby failed invasion of Galliopi in an attempt to battle with Turkey. After the eventual defeat of both Turkey and Germany, the victorious British sought to impose control over parts of the old Ottoman Empire in the MidEast, partially due to the discovery of oil in the region now known as Iraq. In a post WWI hotel room, Winston Churchill drew up a map of Iraq that combined three ethnic groups with nothing in common, and called this artificial state of British occupation "Iraq".

Britain soon found that it was forced to take the Sunni side in the ethnic dispute between the Shiite and Kurdish ethnic groups. Despite this, Britain faced more than 40 years of terrible insurgent fighting and used mustard gas attacks on entire villages by aircraft, armored vehicle attacks, and other mechanized warfare tactics to suppress the growing insurgency in Iraq. However by the 1950's the rise of the Arab socialist movement in Eygpt with the successful coup by Gamel Nasser helped to inspire the Baath Socialist movement in Iraq and the successful 1958 rebellion that forced the British withdrawal from Iraq.

Despite this history, neoconservatives representing themselves as the Project For The New American Century, an organization that was defense contractor funded, and founded by Weekly Standard Editor, William Kristol, advocated a new war against Iraq to wrest power from Saddam Hussein and to put Iraqi opposition forces into power. The PNAC actually served two political factional goals, those who were either affilated with military contractor interests liked the financial windfall aspects of a renewed war with Iraq. This included some like Donald Rumseld, Halliburton's Dick Cheney, John Bolton, Jeb Bush and others. Another faction was a wing of Jewish community conservatives such as William Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz, and Morton Krondrake promotting the notion of a renewed war with Iraq under the guise of fears of WMDs as a form of proxy effort to make the tiny state of Israel more secure from any future threat from Saddam Hussein. Yet due to 12 years of U.N. sanctions and past weapons inspections by UNSCOM, Saddam Hussein was hardly the military threat or WMD threat to Israel that the American Jewish conservatives had feared. He had been reduced to an impotent role in MidEast politics. But others in the oil community as well as some concerned with U.S. national security goals, liked the notion that if Iraq could be brought under a new government, then U.S. efforts to have a closer control of the Strait Of Hormuz, which is under Iranian control, and hence the world's oil supply would be greatly enhanced.

The 1990-91 Gulf War was poorly concluded where the unconditional surrender of Saddam Hussein was not made a primary condition of the ceasefire by the first President Bush. This forced 12 years of cruel U.N. sanctions makng food and medicine supplies tight, while Saddam Hussein's family were able to skim enough funds to build palace after palace, while most Iraqis suffered from a shortage of daily vital provisions and goods.

The current American war, just like the British one in Iraq , has been very bloody. The Pentagon for example has publicly denied the use of Mark 77, a modern form of napalm incediary fuel gel bomb that weighs in at 750 lbs. , in Iraq. However, American pilots have publicly claimed that they dropped such bombs in Iraq. Despite official claims of the Pentagon, 500 of these bombs were droppedby the U.S. during the first Gulf War, and at least 30 more in the 2003 war in Iraq. The U.N. Convention on some conventional weapons outlaws the use of these modern napalm weapons, however the U.S. has failed to sign this treaty. Both the U.S. and Russia continue to defy the world community by their continued military inventory of fuel gel type bombs. And the U.S. made heavy use of depleted uranium bombs as well.

And the despite massive military efforts in the Western sector of Iraq near the Syrian border, the U.S. has failed to stop but small handfuls of foreign insurgent fighters who pour into Iraq from foreign states. There has been civilian deaths, or "colateral damage" as the Pentagon terms it, of civilians whose homes were bombed to rout out a handful of insurgent fighters here or there, leaving many women or children maimed or dead. And electricity, food, water and medicine supplies in Iraq are now at even worse levels than during the 12 terrible years of harsh U.N. sanctions.

And the current government of Iraq, instead of creating a document for the future of Iraq, essentially used the constitution to construct a document dividing the oil assets of Iraq among the more powerful coalition of Shiite and Kurdish ethnic groups, leaving the Sunni minority little more than the sand of Iraq. The current constitution is little more than a dissolution document for Iraq, more similar to divorce papers, and highly unlikely to secure Iraq as a single state for the future of a united Iraq. And Turkey has fears that the Kurds in the North will press for a modern state of Kurdistan, while ethnic tensions with Kurds in Turkey continue to rise.

The worst of the British conflict in Iraq lasted from 1920 to 1958. In all this time, Britain could not impose control over Iraq. Equally the U.S. will likely find itself embroiled for many years in Iraq. It is highly likely that America's sons, and their grandsons, will find themselves in Iraq for quite some time. 40 years of mustard gas attacks and armored warfare against entire Iraqi villages could not bring Iraq under British control. Equally the napalm attacks of Mark 77 bombs, and the bombing of homes in villages in Iraq to fight first the military of Iraq, then the insurgents, has failed to secure the peace as of yet in Iraq. And the most radical Sunni elements will continue to ignore and oppose the Iraqi constitution, and will not likely lay down arms in the near future.

America's ticket out of Iraq, is the elusive peace and stability. But more likely than not, America's sons and their grandsons will be bogged down in this qaugmire for a good many years. Currently only one Iraqi military battlion of 700 men is able to fight on it's own without American military support, down from three battlions of about 2,000 men a few months ago. America has recently quietly increased the number of U.S. troops in Iraq by 14,000 to 152,000 in the last few days. Iraq has proven itself so far unable to effectively unable to govern itself, police itself, provide military for itself, enough food, clean water, electricity or medicine for itself. This leaves America clearly stuck in the Iraq quagmire with little hope of an early exit in the near future by any honest, realistic or objective opinion.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

UnChristian Values?

In Multnomah County, Oregon , Lou Beres, former head of the Oregon Christian Coalition and head of the Multnomah County Republican Party is facing some allegations of sexual abuse according to sources in the Portland newsmedia. While Beres has not been charged or indicted for any crime, it has forced him to withdrawal from any activity associated with the Republican Party or the Christian Coalition.

This is yet another body blow to the religious right and the Republican Party which are suffering from national problems because of problems related to Karl Rove, Tom Delay, Bill Frist and the political freefall of George Bush down to a mere 37% public approval support in a late public opinion poll.

The problem probably lies in the fact that the religious right is merely a self-righteous movement similar to the Pharisees in the Bible. Publicly they appeared to be religious. But their hearts were in the wrong place. And similarly the religious right lacks any credible Biblical support for their political/religious ideology. There is no language to be found anywhere in either the Old or New Testament that God chose the United States to be a God ordained state, only Israel was chosen to be this. And there is no support for the religious right or conservative support for tax breaks for the wealthy, starting the Iraq War, hurting public social service programs for the poor, siding with big industries like tobacco, or other numerous nonBiblical concepts. The religious right preaches a false Gospel contrary to the Gospel of Christ. It is a spiritual counterfeit and is now being exposed by God as a counterfeit faith that dilutes and soils his actual teachings from the Bible. This is likely the reason for the public collapse of and problems for the religious right. God is exposing a false and counterfeit faith movement that is misleading millions into following this false faith. Bible prophecy predicted such an end times event, where false religion would have a huge public rise along with wars, earthquakes and other natural disasters. Since WWI it has been apparent that the events foretold in the Bible as end time events have been greatly increasing. In all likelyhood the public collapse and freefall of the religious right and their allies within the right wing of the Republican Party are yet another endtime event that is now publicly unwinding. It is getting increasing difficult for anyone to deny that end time events are not starting to unfold. It is as if the mysteries from the pages of the book of Revelation are now starting to publicly open.

Every new natural disaster, every new rumor of war, every new revelation of false religion are all examples foretold in scripture of events that would mark the end times.

Monday, October 10, 2005

FEMA Acts like Halliburton With Excessive Disaster Expenses

Halliburton made a bad name for itself with some extremely high expenses related to the reconstruction in Iraq. Yet little has been done about this so far despite so much evidence presented of excessive profiteering in some expenses paid for by the federal government. Now FEMA is folowing in the same bad footsteps of wasting vital disaster funds with excessively inflated tree removal services contracting.

FEMA is paying up to $18,000 a day to some companies in New Orleans who simply remove a tree that has fallen against a house rooftop, and then put up a blue tarp, but offer no real roof repairs. And private companies have been charging up to $7,000 for simply removing a tree that has fallen against a roof of a home, and putting up a blue tarp without any actual roof repairs as well. All of this means that terrible profiteering is eating away disaster funds that could provide other vitally needed services.

Of note should be that Operation Blessing, the charity organization founded by Rev. Pat Robertson is also offering tree removal and free blue tarp services to homeowners in New Orleans. There is no charge for this service. It is as much as $7,000 cheaper than what some homeowners are now paying and as much as $18,000 cheaper per day than what FEMA is paying.

Many of the the first and best responders to the Katrina disaster have been charities such as religious run organizations such as the Salvation Army, Feed The Children and Operation Blessing. And again, just like Iraq, many of the worst most expensive Katrina disaster costs can be laid at the feet of a few contractors who gouge the system for all they can take from it. Such is life.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Contradictory World Of Strict Constructionists

If the new Supreme Court Chief Justice, John Roberts is indeed a "strict constructionist", then he opened his lifetime career on the bench with a sour note. When the case involving the assisted suicide issue from Oregon was to be argued by both sides, Roberts almost instantly interrupted before any side could argue their side of the case and seemed to make a strong statement against the 10th Amendment which gives any powers to the state that are not expressly stated as federal powers. In the case of Oregon's assisted suicide law, Roberts will almost certainly hand down an opinion that states cannot set their own medical regulations, and award that power to the federal government. But when an issue of abortion is brought before the court, then the contradictory oppposite opinion will no doubt be issued from Roberts, Miers, Thomas, Scalia and maybe others, that Roe v. Wade be overturned and the individual states set policy regarding whether abortion is legal or not, and regulations over this medical procedure should be decided by the states. Such is the silly and contradictory world of the conservative "strict constructionists".

Besides a twofaced approach to issues of state's versus federal powers, and a two faced approach to the 10th Amendment, this flimsy view of law based on political ideology rather than an honest interpretation of the wording of the U.S. Constitution and Bill Of Rights has no consistent grounding in the wording or intent of these documents, but is solely intended to promote a conservative political ideology. It was only a few days ago that Roberts told the Senate during his confirmation hearings that he would give a fair hearing to all parties in the Supreme Court. But as the assisted suicide case pointed out, Roberts interrupted any arguments to pretty much state his decision of the case without even hearing a single argument. The worst fears of some about Roberts appear to already be fulfilled.

If strict constructionists were to rule on Brown v. Board Of Education, today, then American schools would still be segregated, Blacks would hold less worthwhile jobs, hold far less political offices such as mayors, or even hold positions as police chiefs or even policemen. If the Supreme Court cannot order broad social policy changes in their decisions from the bench, then America becomes a socially backward country where the difficult process of attempting to amend the U.S. Constitution would be involved to move so many issues forward for America. Segregation, if not slavery may even still be fact of life if strict constructionism was the guiding principle of law in America.

Another problem is that congress tends to pass complex laws that are not clearly written, that sometimes are 3,000 pages long, and that most members of congress never even bothered to read before the bill was voted on. This involves entire passages or sections that are clearly unconstitutional, not well written, nearly impossible for normal compliance by those affected, or even contradictory with other sections, or with past standards set by previous Supreme Court decisions. Justices in opinions need to strike portions of bad legislation or to clarify concepts into a constitutionally acceptable form to clean up part of this legal mess that congress creates in sloppy bill construction.

Conservatives love the ring of "strict constructionist" to their ears. But the sharp limitations of this silly approach to law moved along by mere ideology, rather than a more consistent approach to sensible law based on the wording or intent of the constitution, or that the constitution must be viewed as a living and evolving document to answer the modern issues that confront the constitution written in the 1700's as the guiding priciples for the American way of life, involve a deeper and more dependable vision of honest evaluation of law in an evolving nation.