Tuesday, January 31, 2006

A Terror Video Double Feature

For the price of just just two blank VHS videotapes, terrorists were able to get more than their money's worth value in raising fear and anxiety in the U.S.

Al Qaeda's number two, Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri was able to taunt the U.S., especially the Bush Administration in one video. And while most of the threats are no doubt an attempt to frighten the U.S. and use psychological games and perceptional illusions to raise a fear level far greater than the actual capability of Al Qaeda, still the uncertainty of whether al-Zawahiri may be able to plan some revenge attack in the U.S. in response to the failed Predator drone attack on his life is unclear. It is always this uncertainty about terrorism that leads to a state of anxiety.

But the angry content from al-Zawahiri may not have been from that of a hunted or defeated man, it could always be that from someone bent on revenge against the U.S. Time will tell whether Al Qaeda has been busted down to just a defeated organization where only a few videotape threats is the best this organization can now muster or not.

And a second and very disturbing tape of Christian Science Monitor journalist, Jill Caroll who looked very distraught and tearful was gut wrenching.

It is not known whether these tapes are the worst that terrorists can now do or not. But these tapes were indeed disturbing and both cast a long shadow over tonight's State Of The Union Address.

Monday, January 30, 2006

The Absurd Hamas Philosophy

While it is widely known that Hamas is a terrorist organization, few know that it is an Islamic populist religious fundamentalist organization that appeals to the least educated of the Palestinian population by the promotion of ridiculous and absurd hate conspiracy theories that are very similar to the nonsense hate propaganda of the 1930's German Nazi Party.

For example, Article 28 of the Hamas Charter of the organizations beliefs states, "It (Israel) stands behind the diffusion of drugs and toxic of all kinds in order to facilitate it's control and expansion". In other words, Hamas promotes the stupid and silly belief that there is some sort of grand conspiracy in Israel to produce illegal drugs and turn Arab populations into harmless drug zombies while Israel conquers more land. First there is absolutely no proof of such a silly conspiracy theory, and second Israel has been in process of giving more and more land to former adversaries in the sake of peace. During the Carter Administration, Israel made peace with Egypt and any land conquered in the 1967 war has been returned. In addition the Palestinian Authority now exists because so much land of greater Israel has been returned to the Palestinians, that Israel is now only 11 miles in it's most narrow portion. Modern day Israel only covers land that was historically part of the old Jewish kingdoms of Judea and Sumaria, and since 1948 has never sought and goal to expand beyond these historic borders except when war from neighboring states such as Egypt, Syria and Jordan forced Israel to conquer some land as a safety buffer such as the war in 1967 when Syria and the other states threatened to divert Israel's water supply.

And Article 32 of the Hamas Charter states, "For Zionist scheming has no end, and after Palestine they will covet expansion from the Nile to Euphrates". Yet there is every evidence that Israel has been giving land back for peace since the 1976 election of Jimmy Carter. There is absolutely no plans to expand the borders of Israel.

Article 22 expresses more silly conspiracy, by claiming that ,"That they stood behind the French and Communist Revolutions, and most of revolutions we hear about...". Yet it is simple history that it was the oppressed poor of France who overthrew their cruel and heartless government of the wealthy. It may be true that Karl Marx was born into a Jewish family, but they had long abandoned their faith to convert to the Lutheran Church, and Marx later became a radical atheist and had long abandoned any Jewish ethinic interests. And Vladimir Lenin who was influenced by the 19th century works of Marx did have some Jewish background on his Grandmother's side, but his family background was largely mixed with Christians such as Lutherans. In areas such as Germany, Prussia or Russia there was enough of a Jewish population that many had some Jeswish background somewhere in their bloodline, as even Hitler did on his father's side. Yet is is plainly absurd to claim any Jewish conspiracy to conquer lands as the Russian Revoultion which was very similar to the populist French Revolution against the wealth of the Tzar while most in Russia lived in terrible poverty. It was an uprising of the poor of Russia. And there is absolutely no Jewsh influence in the Communist revolutions that took place in China, North Korea or Vietnam. And numerous other world Communist organizations had no connection whatsoever to the Jewish faith or ethnic background. In fact everywhere that Communism has taken power, Jews have faced increased discrimination and abuses and violence.

Like many antisemites, the Hamas Charter has absurd conspiracy theories involving Jews and money. Article 22 of the Hamas Charter states, "They used the money to establish clandestine organizations...in order to destroy societies and carry out Zionist interests. Such organizations are: The Free Masons and Rotary Club...". However these organizations have no connection to any religion or ethnic group such as the Jewish religion. Most members are Christians and these organizations are heavily involved in charity work. They simply provide a sense of belonging, often for businessmen, and they offer good works to a community, not to plan conspiracies to control the world using any business wealth they may have. In fact many of the wealthiest businessmen are likely not part of these organizations for the lack of time. Many wealthy actually belonged to gold clubs which often discriminated against Jewish membership.

Other absurd conspiracy claims of the Hamas Charter such as Article 22 states, "This wealth (permitted them to) take over the world media...". During the 1930's several motion picture companies such as MGM were established by Jewish businessmen. And during the 1940's they turned out many patriotic movies, but by the 1950's ultra right wing Senator Joesph McCarthy accused Hollywood of harboring Communists and attempting to ruin America. But it is absurd to claim Jewish control of all media. The media and entertainment includes many religions and ethnic groups. Many very popular and wealthy entertainment icons are Blacks such as Oprah Winfrey or others. Slightly more persons from the Jewsish ethnic background may have become entertainers or the head of entertainment companies, but that is only because their religion made entertainment seem like a very honorable profession, while some such as Baptists often tended to avoid some entertainment as being evil or a bad spiritual influence. Even the Catholic Church was long critical of Hollywood and was long involved in censorship of Hollywood, and many Catholics likely avoided the entertainment industry and sought employment in other areas during the early founding years of Hollywood. But few journalists or news reporters are Jewish, as many ethnic and religious groups are well represented in the world media and world media ownership. Any claim of Jewsish dominance of the world media is absurd based on the facts.

Hamas ties all of these absurd antisemitic beliefs and conspircy theories to justify Islamic radicalism that states that, "...death for the cause of Allah is the most sublime belief.", in Hamas Charter Article 8. And "There is no solution the Palestine problem but by Jihad.", in Article 13. And "Jihad becomes binding on all Muslims." in Article 15. Or that "Israel will rise and remain erect until eliminated by Islam." , in the Introduction to the Hamas Charter.

There may be a few hopeful souls who think that Hamas can renounce radicalism, violence or accept the right of Israel to exist. But given the entire charter of this extremist terrorist organization, any such hope for moderation seems very ill placed and way overly hopeful. This is a very extreme organization that trades in the indoctrination of hatred and establishes schools to preach a message of violence to the young in the Islamic world and the hope of creating young suicide bombers. The current one year cease-fire is only because Hamas has lost some top leadership to Israeli attacks in response to their past role in organizing suicide attacks against Israel. Hamas will only consolidate power, build a radical Islamic army with North Korean or Iranian arms, and create a huge new war threat. With Hamas the worst is yet to come. Unlike many world religions that teach a message of tolerance and peace, the Hamas version of Islam only promotes violence and Jihad as the highest goal. Many others in Islam believe in a beautiful version of Islam that teaches the equality of all men who pray at least three times a day and stand side by side in their Mosques and humble themselves before Allah. Many Mosques have free health care clinics open to all, such as in the U.S., while Hamas simply uses the Islamic faith to justify support for extremist goals of violence.

Hamas survives only for a showdown with Israel and then will turn it's wrath against the U.S. as well. There can never be any good in such an organization built on religious extremist violence and hatred. There is no comparable hatred for Islam in the Torah or among the Jewish faith. Israel and Hamas will face some very difficult times.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Biodiesel Power To The People!

As a barrel of oil hovers around $68 a barrel on world commodity markets, and could hit $80-$100 a barrel later this year if the situation with Iran or in Palestine with Hamas contnues to worsen, the average person who finds themselves dependent on the big oil companies could break their dependence on these companies and avoid both high fuel prices for fuel for diesel powered vehicles such as automobiles and trucks as well as provide their own heating fuel for a very low cost from used soybean cooking oil that many fast food and other businesses would normally throw away.

If war should break out in the MidEast, the U.S. would have to use it's strategic oil reserves, which could eventually force fuel rationing in the U.S. as Iran could disrupt the world oil supply as they control the entire MidEast supply of oil and control the Strait Of Hormuz. Iran has proven past ability to challenge U.S. Navy ships that escorted oil tankers through this strait during the 1980's, and with a large supply of missiles could attempt to sink oil tankers to choke off this world supply of oil in hopes of bringing the Western economies to their knees. While 90% of Iran's economy is dependent on oil, and would suffer the most, it still cannot be ignored that Iran could consider the economic power of oil to be a frontline weapon to blunt any U.N. sanctions against their state over the nuclear enrichment crisis with the world.

All of this uncertainty for homes that depend on heating oil or for vehicles that are powered by diesel engines leaves the owners in a position of being a slave to the world conditions which could dramatically raise prices or lead to unpredictable fuel rationing or supply problems. The home production of biodiesel fuel is a step that the individual can legally do within their own garage to ensure a ready supply of heat for their home and fuel for their diesel engined car or truck.

Biodiesel fuels can be produced from any vegetable oil source. Any oil made from bean oils such as soybean oil as well as seed and nut oils can be made into biodiesel fuel. In fact the first diesel engines ever designed were made to run on fuel made from peanut oil. And German submarines designed for WWII were built to run on alternative fuels such as biodiesel fuels in the event of short fuel supplies. Oils made from both olives as well as sea algae can also be processed into biodiesel fuels at home.

One company that makes the home processing of biodiesel fuels easy for the home garage is Freedom Fuel America. They can supply equipment such as main processing unit known as the FuelMeister which includes the main reaction tank, pumps, pH testing equipment and other items to make the home processing of used waste cooking oils into cheap biodiesel fuels that only cost about 70cents a gallon to make.

The chemical conversion of used french fry oil from McDonalds or some other source is not as complicated as one would believe. The used vegetable cooking oil is pumped from a supply tank into the main reaction tank in the FuelMeister unit and can be made into 20 or 40 gallon fuel supply amounts at a time. Some common lye available from any hardware store that is used as a drain cleaner and some methanol are the only two other ingredients required for the process to convert vegetable cooking oil into fuel. However it is recommended that a patented product known as LDL(Longer Diesel Life) also be added to any batch of biodiesel produced to extend the life of the fuel and prevent any growth of bacteria or fungus from building up. With this additive, biodiesel offers the advantages of 50% lower tailpipe emissions, 6 to 10% better fuel mileage than fossil fuels and has lubrication properties far better than fossil fuels as well.

A small amount of the cooking oil must be used in a titration test to judge the pH level of the oil and how much lye and methanol must be used to convert the oil into biodiesel fuel. Freedom Fuel America also offers all these supplies as well. The pH indicator of the fuel must be brought to 8 or 9 on the scale, and an easy to read chart then indicates the amount of lye and methanol required for the conversion process into biodiesel fuel.

The FuelMeister unit only takes around an hour to allow the mix of vegetable cooking oil, lye and methanol to take place and be converted into biodiesel fuel. During this time the lye will break apart the vegetable oil molecules which will then cause the hydrocarbon chain to bond to the methanol molecules, and the lye will cause waste glycerine to sink to the bottom of the main reaction tank. This waste glyerine is surprisingly a nontoxic and safe product. It can be boiled into homemade soap or used as an excellent safe liquid handsoap or degreaser.

The resulting batch of 20 to 40 gallons of biodiesel fuel will provide excellent performance in diesel engined cars or trucks or can be used as an excellent additive to home heating oil to extend the supply and dramaticly lower home heating costs.

If the MidEast situation continues to become more intense, and instead of the average person being forced into high prices or even rationing or fuel shortages, biodiesel presents a great homemade fuel alternative. Large fuel companies so far have not found biodiesl to be cost effective, however Volkswagon and Archer Daniels MIdland continue to express interest in this alternative fuel source. And some home heating oil companies do offer a mix of biodiesel and fossil fuels. But for now, the for small home production of homemade biodiesel fuels made from used vegetable cooking oil available for free from most any business that uses cooking oil can be processed very cheaply at home in to a cleaner burning superior performing fuel source than fossil fuels and for just 70cents a gallon. Such a deal!

Saturday, January 28, 2006

America's Greatest Growth Industry: Businesses That Exploit The Poor

While many American companies such as GM and Ford battle for their financial lives, and other industries are under a huge foreign assault from cheap imports from low wage overseas labor, one segment of the American business community has seen an unprecented growth rate. Businesses that exploit and prey upon the poor are now a $78 billion dollar segment of the American economy.

Poor neighborhoods are dotted with check cashing businesses that charge 10% of the working poor's paycheck to cash their small paychecks because many of these persons do not have a bank account to cash their paycheck for little or nothing. Car title loans companies charge 300-500% annual interest to the poor who need to pay for rent to prevent being homeless or for a few groceries or need emergency funds to keep their electricity from being shut off. Rent to own furniture stores sell the poor a few sticks of furniture such as a bed to sleep on, rather than some hardwood floor, on claimed "long easy credit terms", that can cost many times the actual retail value for an item. Payday loan companies charge a hefty fee on the meager paychecks of the poor who cannot already survive on the tiny paychecks they earn. And the classic pawnshops and other businesses that buy used items claim that they'll take an item "off your hands", like it's some great saintly favor for a tiny paid price, and then sell the items for many times the price paid. Sometimes the profit margin is ten times the price paid to the seller.

As American workers steadily became poorer in the Mid 90's with the huge influx of cheap imports and the death of many high paying union jobs , replaced by minimum wage service jobs with little or no benefits, the financial decline of the American worker spurred an entire industry of new businesses that exploit the poor of America. In 1970, the bottom third of U.S. wage earnes earned 10 times as much as the top 1% of wage earners. By 2004, the top 1% of wage earners, or about 29,000, now earn as much as the bottom 1/3 of all U.S. workers combined. The radical redistribution of the wealth policies of "trickle down" economics, tax cuts that benefit the wealthy but redistribute local and state taxes to the average person and the poor of the Reagan, Bush 1 and Bush 2 Administrations have helped to spur a tiny class of the ultra wealthy and now a broad underclass of working poor.

During the 2004 Republican Convention in New York, those that gave large amounts to the Republican Party or to organizations of wealthy Bush supporters such as the Bush Rangers, were taken to Cartier jewelers in New York to pick out a free gift by a chartered shuttle. This included the owner of a chain of payday loan, check cashing and poor exploiting businesses that contributed $1 million dollars to various Republican organizations and committees. In many states, Republicans have blocked legislation limiting the interest rates or fees charged by payday loan, car title and other businesses because of strong lobby efforts or donations from this lobby. Normal banks and savings and loan businesses operate under strict federal regulations, but at the state level, primarily Republican politicians act on behalf of the loan-shark industry to keep it free of government regulation and in the business of exploiting the poor of America. This ruthless class warfare by the wealthy and their stooges in government keeps the poor locked in an endless cycle of poverty with little hope of climbing out.

The credit card became a means for many of the working poor to survive on money they did not have. But many companies charged such high interest rates and unrealisticly low minimum payments that it would take as long as 57 years to pay off some cards because so little of the payment goes towards the principle payment. The Bush Administration and the Republican Congressional leadership pushed through legislation to benefit the big credit card companies and limited both bankruptcy and required larger minimum credit card payments, but refused to act on behalf of American consumers and to limit the interest rates charged.

It is women and minorities most likely to be victimized by all these schemes to hurt the working poor, keeping both as a permanent American underclass.

At one time it seemed like burglars, crackheads, alcoholics and gamblers were the greatest clientele of the pawnshop. But today it is the working poor who count on these and other businesses such as payday loan, check cashing, car title loan and second hand and pawnshops to get barely by for a few more days, or to prevent their lights or heat from being shut off, or from becoming homeless because they cannot pay the rent.

Because the poor have little ability or finances to lobby government and control the flow of legislation in America, any sensible and moral regulations against this loan shark industry are difficult to achieve because of the huge lobby strength of this $78 billion dollar industry that takes advantage of the poor. About the only consolation many can take is that it may take time to slowly control some of the worst offenders in this industry, and that the religious community know full well that Scripture forbids usuary of this sort and will continue to press upon the conscience of lawmakers the blantant immorality of this industry. But for now this industry that exploits the poor comes across as a terrible blowback to the type of abuses you'd expect in the days of Oliver Twist's early industrial revolution England.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Why Democracy Sometimes Fails

The terrorist organization Hamas has set itself up for a very difficult rule over the Palestinian people. The defeated Fatah party is already refusing to have any role in any coalition government with Hamas, setting all responsibilitity solely for all their actions upon the shoulders of Hamas.

And Israel is responsible for the supply of electricity, water and trade of other goods to the Palestinian Authority government. With a mutual refusal of both Israel and Hamas to even accept the legitimacy of each other, Israel is a position to quietly cut all of the vital electricity, water and trade with the Palestinian Authority and simply to let the terrorist state wither away within days from lack of drinking water, electricity, medicine and food supplies.

And any terrorist acts that are now linked to Hamas now have the stamp of state sponsored terrorism upon them. Under accepted standards of international law and other accepted international standards, Israel would be within their power to now use the total weight of their military to absolutely crush the Palestinian state with their military in response to any terrorist acts linked to this state as now constituting an official state sponsored act of war. Israel would be within their powers to carpet bomb or to completely exterminate the Palestinian state in response to any state sponsored role in terrorism seen as an official act of war. The small isolated acts of criminal violence of Hamas now bear the full weight of state responsibility now, a major change in status that has seroius consequences that cannot be understated.

And many of the elected leaders of the new Hamas government prove no ability to rule or to run a government. One elected member of this government was a mother who encouraged three of her six sons to become suicide bombers, and does not rule out encouraging the other three to also do so. She has no government experience at at. Many of the voters for the Hamas candidates as well as members of the Hamas government lack the educational skills and other basic abilities to be able to run a viable government as well.

It is unfortunate that the Bush doctine that promotted democratic elections throughout the MidEast, but failed to recognize that unless a minimum level of social progress is attained by a society, such as minimum levels of employment, education and income, that many states do not have a citizenship with high enough levels of understanding to elect moderate and reasonable governments. Even Rev. Pat Robertson was critical of the failed Bush doctrine to push for elections in MidEast societies not yet really socially advanced enough for elections as a form of "misguided idealism".

There simply has not been the level of education opportunities offered in many MidEast states, or the growth of jobs or employment opportunities to allow for an educated population to wisely vote in elections. In South America, some states have elected far leftist leaders because these socities also have not had the level of social advancement high enough to allow for an educated population to make wise choices. In Bolivia for example, a native South American Indian who is a supporter of Fidel Castro recently won the Presidential election there. In many of these states some of the native tribes of Indians still live in very primitive and almost stone age conditions. A new film, END OF THE SPEAR details an incident in which some Americanmissionaries were speared to death by a primitive tribe in South America who had such a high level of murder in their society that every family within this tribe had lost at least one familiy member to mutual murder. While this society has improved somewhat sinnse this 1956 event, it is certainly in no position for many members to be wisely casting election ballots.

And in some cases, these new leaders in South America even strongly defend the rural population growing the plants that are used in cocaine, because no other form of viable agriculture exists. Even the Vatican has offered some surprising support in the past for these farmers, as little ecomoc opportunity exists, although the serious dangers of this illegal drug business and the climate of violence it creates are strongly condemned by all responsible persons. The wealthy nations have completely failed to offer a society such as this any help to build a just and productive society. The best the West has done is to continue buy cocaine and to self-perpetuate a cycle of violence and drug abuse. This offers little real cash to the poor farmers of South America, and only creates a few wealthy South American crime lords and drug abuse among the young of America and crime in the U.S.

Bringing democracy to poor and developing nations sounds like a great American ideal. But without the local leadership to improve the living and social standards of the citizens, or the desire of the wealthy nations of the world to bring a sharing of wealth or social development to a very poor area, it is indeed a "misplaced idealism" from the Bush Administration that elections can be held in very poor areas without any U.S. or other G8 nation commitment to upgrading the social life of those living there. Just like the concept of "cheap grace" it is a form of "cheap democracy" for the U.S. to promote elections in very poor areas without the effort to improve the living situations there. In the case of the Hamas victory, it is a terrible example of that failure. A poor area not at all ready to make democratic choices made a very poor choice of a terrorist organization run government and now has put itself right into the center of dangerous conflict that may result in serious conflict with Israel at least and serious war with Israel at worst. Sometimes democracy is just not the best way to achieve a government rule or management. Without voters with at least a minimum level of social attainment, democracy simply fails.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Hamas Victory Represents The Latest Failure For The MidEast Democracy Doctrine Of Bush

George Bush hoped to leave a legacy of a MidEast reshaped by democracy. Had it worked, it would have been a great legacy. But realism is that if given a choice, MidEast voters would time after time choose radical or religiously extreme leadership.

The religious and politically extreme Hamas likely appealed to many of the less educated Palestinian voters. While Fatah was an old guard party riddled with corruption that even massive U.S. funding could not salvage, Hamas had enough appeal to win a slender victory and to form a new government in the Palestinian state. The U.S. did all they could to pump up the Palestinian Authority and improve the situation for Fatah. $500 million in aid was pumped in by the U.S. to improve the Palestinian state, and $70 million was given directly to the Palestinian Authority government. A recent $2 in recent aid was rushed to the Palestinian Authority to bolster their hopes by the U.S.

But with high poverty and unemployment, Hamas which offers social services and education for the poor masses of Palestinians, and seemed like a populist driven Islamic religious radical organization tailor made to appeal to Palestinian frustrations. Large scale parades of masked and armed Hamas fighters armed with RPGs and other weapons well illustrates the danger for this organization heading the Palestinian government. Unless Hamas becomes coopted into a genuine change of heart towards real democracy and suddenly turns 180 from extremism, then the likely result of the Hamas victory is armed conflict with Israel. The MidEast has now become far a more dangerous place with this Hamas victory.

But in other MidEast states, the "march to democracy" has hardly fared any better. In Iraq, where Bush intended to make the first move towards a domino effect of democratic elections, a Shiite religious coalition easily defeated the moderate Western style moderates associated with Ayad Allawi. With strong ties to Iran, this Shiite religious coalition likely sets up a situation of continued conflict with the Sunni minority continuing more than 80 years of ethnic strife between the Shiite and Sunni communities. It makes civil war more likely.

In Iran, democracy only meant that the citizens of this nation would freely choose an extremist who threatens Israel with destruction, denies that the holocaust even existed, and now threatens world peace with a drive towards uranium enrichment and possiby building nuclear weapons.

In states such as Pakistan, free elections would likely only result in the rule of someone like an Osama Bin Laden or a Taliban type government. In Jordan and Egypt, free elections there could also result in governments prone to religious or political extremism, replacing friendly "old guard" governments that self perpetuate their own rule.

There was no good attempt by the Bush Administration to attempt to use the best talents of MidEast experts, or to understand the MidEast sentiments, only some misguided romantic desire to attempt to bring democracy to a region in which religious extremism is strong, and poverty and hatred of Israel and also U.S. run very deep. Without this Bush Administration understanding of the this voter climate in these states, MidEast religious radicals are using the ballot box to further their revolutionary goals. Instead of bloody street battles to bring down governments, radicals find that disenchanted masses of MidEast voters will freely vote them into power without the need for a bloody civil war. The ballot box is now the prefered route to MidEast Islamic revolution. This is yet another Bush Administration foreign policy failure, and leaves MidEast peace in a further state of injury.

Serious warfare in the MidEast is now far more likely, as terrorists such as Hamas now control an entire state, and are not just some shadowy group of murdering terrorists. This entire situation points out the total failure of any Bush "war on terrorism". Terrorists are using the ballot box to establish entire terrorist states now, a huge step from being the small time criminal organizations that the Bush Administration would like to claim that they are, totally ignorant of the strong populist support for these extremist organizations in the MidEast states. Support for Osama Bin Laden runs at 40-70% in most Muslim states, where young people are just as proud to wear Osama Bin Laden t-shirts there as some would a Britney Spears t-shirt here. It takes no great MidEast scholarship to see that there is nothing but danger in the current climate of MidEast elections. Democracy for the MidEast has proven itself a very dangerous failure. What revolutionaries could not achieve through the violent revolution in MidEast states, the Bush Administration has helped them to achieve through the ballot box. Citizens of both Israel and the U.S. are now far less safe because of this major failure of this MidEast democracy policy. Terrorism and violence are far more likely.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Google China Becomes A Tool Of Chinese Government Propaganda

The Google search engine in China has agreed to censor "politically sensitive" websites and searches for information that supports democracy or human rights in China. For example, a search of the Falon Gong organization only supports information that takes a Chinese government line against the organization. And both the Yahoo and MSN search engines have gone even farther in becoming tools of the Chinese government. These search engines have even handed over the names of dissident writers who publish prodemocracy statements on the Internet. One dissident Internet writer was sentenced to 10 years in prison thanks to the freely offered cooperation of Yahoo with Chinese government authorities.

In the U.S., Bush Administration Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, who in the past issued papers supporting torture and other ideals opposite of our democracy is seeking Google to hand over search information in a first step to preparing a database of those in America who may be considered an "enemy " of the Bush Administration state or rounded up for some "crime" related to what should be the private use of the Google search engine. Also it appears that just as in China, both the Yahoo and MSN search engines have been most cooperative of any Bush Administration efforts to strip away privacy from users of these popular Internet search engines and have feely complied with any Bush Administration demands to hand any information requested to the Bush Administrstion's Justice Department.

Some years ago, who could have foreseen that Internet search engines would become tools for the individual to have their right to individual privacy so sacrificed, or that both the Bush Administration or the Communist Chinese government would have so much in common in their common efforts to use popular Internet search engines as a tool for rounding up political dissidents.

WEST WING And COMMANDER IN CHIEF Both Victims Of Tarnished Government Image

Two once popular television programs seem to be falling victim to the tarnished image of government. NBC will be cancelling WEST WING after this year, and the ratings of COMMANDER IN CHIEF is also in steep fall. The viewing public seems to have lost interest in presidential dramas against a backdrop of a White House that is sharply partisan and ideologically driven, influence peddling scandals of lobbyist Jack Abramoff, a wiretapping without warrants political debate, a war in Iraq that drags on year after year, far right appointments to the Supreme Court where ideology rather than a fair hearing for all sides in cases seems to be the biggest consideration. And a president very unKennedylike in appeal has helped to destroy any romantic interest in the White House and hurt interest in television dramas about the White House. Real world politics has helped to ruin the interest in politics as television drama.

It is deeply sad that that much damage to the romantic view of the White House is now a done deal. Many in the public no longer see great wisdom from the real White House, where an all-wise president in television dramas now appears to be such a work of pure fiction that many who once viewed both the WEST WING and COMMANDER IN CHIEF have left. While it is clear that WEST WING has grown a little stale in content, the big ratings drop in ABC's COMMANDER IN CHIEF is a little more interesting. Some very compelling story lines of recent weeks have failed to draw big audiences when the network competition from CBS and NBC have been weak. CBS is airing reruns of crime dramas such as CSI in the 9PM Tuesday time slot, while NBC is airing the far ratings weaker comedy SCRUBS, which draws a far lighter audience than MY NAME IS EARL which has been moved to Thursday nights.

NBC will not be in any better ratings condition with the loss of WEST WING from the schedule next year. Coupled with the loss of veteran comedy, WILL & GRACE, NBC will lose two veteran programs with an audience appeal of loyal followers, although WEST WING has a declining audience of those loyal followers . Of the new replacements programs this year on NBC, both INCONCEIVABLE and THREE WISHES became quick failures, only MY NAME IS EARL is going to survive for a full season as well as another run into next year. Unless NBC has a quality program under development, the loss of the WEST WING and the probable replacement with a new weak contender program will draw no better audience than WEST WING, and will only help NBC lose more audience appeal. NBC is probably better off to continue WEST WING for another year, but simply to step up the writing with new high drama that will attract viewers to give it a second look.

COMMANDER IN CHIEF is in a different bind. It's a good program, although maybe not quite as good as WEST WING, but it is certainly a worthwhile drama. Among weaker 9PM Tuesday competition, it simply is not drawing as strong of audience as it should. Geena Davis a fine actress, awarded a recent Golden Globe award. And the two fine Canadian actors, Donald Sutherland and Nastasha Henstridge are both in fine form playing a nearly villianous and dark opposition force not seen since the evil empire of Darth Vader's STAR WARS. Yet despite this scenario for fine conflict and drama, COMMANDER IN CHIEF has steadily lost ratings power since it's premier on the fall 2005 schedule by ABC. It has to be explained that mere audience fatigue generated by a real world frustration with the real White House and pthe current political environment must be at least partially to blame.

It is not only NBC which is a ratings decline with a decline in programs such as WEST WING, but both ratings weak WB and UPN networks will form a single corportation in a merger to create a single network, probably salvaging both the best urban comedy favorites as well critically acclaimed series such as VERONICA MARS.

But the future of presidential dramas is beginning to look very bleak now. In a political environment of a far right ideologically driven White House and a Democratic opposition who look somewhat toothless and weak in a failure to answer even the most lame and absurd policies from the White House, the once shiny armor of Camelot appears to be so tarnished that not even a presidential drama such as WEST WING or COMMANDER IN CHIEF Is able to hold onto much of an audience. What this says for the ability of the real White House to disillusion millions cannot be understated.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Canada Proves That It Has Election Flaws As Well

In the U.S., the 2000 election problems in Florida are now a part of flawed election history. 57,746 voters placed on a felon "scrub list", that were not verified by the use of social security numbers to properly identify whether the exact identity of the name on the ballot, where all with the same name were denied the right to vote. The infamous "butterfly ballot" where many elderly votes accidently voted for Pat Buchanan, instead of Al Gore. "Hanging chads", where the hole on the ballot failed to completely punch through. Election workers failing to count some ballots because of some problems of assigning the ballot to the wrong districts. U.S. serviceperson ballots that were doctored with missing information by election officials and nasty lawsuits with frayed nerves and anger. All of this compounded by the continued reliance on antiquated electoral college, which amplified all the little election problems in Florida and made the vote in this single state vital to the election outcome.

Well, not only the U.S. is about to hold a flawed election. In Canada, the Conservative Party was able to capture just a mere 36.25% of the votes, yet is able to rule 100% of Canadians. Left leaning parties such as the Liberal Party, the socialist New Democratic Party, many in the French separtist Bloc Quebecois, and the Green Party were still the vast majority of Canadian voters, yet are unable to form a government in Canada. Instead the Conservative Party can now set social and economic policy in Canada for 100% of Canadians, despite only winning just over a third of the vote. Is this democracy?

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Terrible Bush Administration Record On Coal Mine Safety

After a coal mine accident in Pennsylvania in 2002, and after the twin fatal accidents in West Virginia this month, there is a public relations rush by the Bush Administration to appear to be strong on coal mine safety. However the Bush Administration record on coal mine safety has been terrible.

Not only was former coal industry lobbyist attorney John Roberts placed on the Supreme Court to help to weaken coal mining industry rules when any cases regarding the coal industry come before the high court, but Bush also appointed Stanley Suboleski, an executive of Massey Energy, and numerous other coal industry executives to be in charge of mine safety rules through the Federal Mine Safety and Review Committee.

The first appointment of a mining safety official by the Bush Administration was David Lauriski, a longtime executive in the mining industry. Other mining industry executives appointed by the Bush Administration to help to weaken the safety of miners include John Caylor, who was an executive at Cyprus Minerals, Amax Mining and Magma Copper Company. John Correll was an executive at Amax Mining and Peabody Coal Company. Mark Ellis was an attorney that represented the American Mining Congress, the coal industry business association that fights new safety legislation through lawsuits and lobby actions. The Bush Administration even appointed Melinda Pons, an executive at BHP Minerals-Utah to be Chief Of Health For Coal. In every possible case, an executive who helped to fight coal mining safety rules or new regulations was appointed by the Bush Administration to help to weaken the safety rules for the industry. Mine worker or union members who had first hand knowledge were routinely ignored for appointment to the MSHA. Instead like all other federal agencies, the Bush Administration has weakened the MSHA by appointing mining company executives to cut mining industry expenses at the safety expense of the miners. It is yet another example of how the probusiness attitude of the Bush Administration is to maximize profits for industry but to weaken worker safety, environmental and consumer concerns. It is another example of the high cost of sheer greed.

Not only has 170 positions on Mine Safety and Health Administration been cut, but there has been a $4.9 million cut in funding for this mine safety administration. Since 2001, under the Republican leadership of Congress. not a singal hearing related to mine saefty has been held, and only some hearings related to how to cut funding for OSHA and to weaken worker safety funding and enforcement in general.

Even the fine schedule was unrealistic based on the seriousness of some of the incidents at the Sago mine in West Virginia. Most of the fines only ranged from $60-$440 compared to a mine revenue of $136 million dollars and included such violations as 18 roof falls laat year. Both the Bush Administration and the Republican controlled Congress helped to take any real teeth out of mine safety enforcement, only to enhance corporate mine profits, while setting workers up to die in fatal accidents as safety deeply suffered.

Even an important safety standard for more clean air shafts was cut back by the efforts from the Bush Administration. This saves the mines money, but also directly contributed to West Virginia deaths by offering no easy source of clean air for the miners to breathe. In some accidents, a clean air shaft may worsen a fire. But in most cases it is an important form of ventilation of clean air to lessen the miners breathing bad air that coats the lungs and contributes to black lung.

Gov. Joe Manchin who lost a close relative to a mine disaster some years ago, will call for some safety changes within West Virginia today. But ultimately it is the responsibility of the Bush Administration not to appoint so many mining company company executice to weaken the safety rules that protect miners. Harry Truman used to have a motto on his desk, "the Buck Stops Here". All of these mine disasters stop at the desk of George Bush who weakened the safety standards and federal enforcement of safety regulations for miners with the MSHA appointment of executives whose history often included fighting safety regulations at the mines that they managed.

It is time for Congress to reverse the Bush Administration cuts in mine safety that may have contributed to these recent needless deaths. By 2005, for example the Sago mine safety violations increased to over 200 examples including the 18 roof falls that year. It is high time that the work safety standards for miners are inmproved. Too many needless deaths just this month alone are a bad omen for miner safety this year. No more miners should die this year so that the Bush Administration can boost the profits of coal mines. With the possibility of lawsuits from families of injured or dead coal miners, it seems that good safety standards would actually prove to be real company benefit for the bottom line. But infortunately many companies are nonunion with looser safety standards and weak federal safety standards thanks to the best efforts of the Bush Administration.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Any War With Iran Would Be similar To WWII Japan

Unlike Iraq, which Senator Joesph Biden has referred to as like a "Lebanon on steroids", any conflict with Iran would be like a conflict with WWII Japan. What Iran lacks in military hardware it makes up in fanatical devotion of millions of Iranians and in the devotion of three million in forces such as the Revolutionary Guard and other branches of the Iranian military.

Just like Japan of WWII, which heavily lacked military hardware Iran's greatest assets are fanatical suicide missions and the use of other extremist lowtech warfare. Even the Iranian U.N. mission had two members expelled in recent years who were suspected of providing intelligence on high value targets for Iranian backed terrorism in the U.S.

Diplomacy is the best asset for now because the Iranian nuclear research sites are deeply buried in "bunker buster" proof deep bunkers. Israel ruled out military action this summer because of this intelligence finding.

And the role of China or Russia in any military attack on Iran must be secure. During the attack on Yugoslavia it was thought Russia was on board, but then a near war talk dialog from Boris Yeltsin told Clinton in the strongest possible terms that were unhappy once the U.S. attacks started. The U.S. cannot afford another communication misunderstanding of this sort.

And just like Iraq, or Japan in WWII, the possibility of a U.S. troop invasion could endanger U.S. forces to a high level, as well as harm any Iranian hopes for future democracy. Terrorism against U.S. , U.N. or Nato troops could be very high.

The U.S. really needs to weigh all the possible consequences. This cannot be another series of miscalculations like Iraq. Iran can be the most serious problem since WWII Japan. And that is not good at all and deserves serious thought of all the ramifications before any military involvement there.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Friday: A Day Of Bad Trends For 2006

This Friday could not have hardly been a worse day of bad trends. With a reference to Biblical imagery, you could say that "the handwriting is on the wall" where events are likely headed for 2006.

Iran: This nation that is seeking to enrich uranium to possiby build nuclear weapons, has started to pull funds from European banks to protect them against freezing as assets should sanctions, or even worse, war occur soon. Fears over Iran helped to also boost oil prices as well.

Oil Prices: During this last week oil went from $60 a barrel to $68 a barrel today. Today's increase was about $1.50 a barrel. Some business programs on cable now raise fears of $80 a barrel fuel or even worse should major war break out. One program even raised fear images of Israel launching nuclear missiles at Iran in a worse case scenario. All of this helped to create a 213 point stock market drop Friday.

Wall Street Drop of 213 points: Fears of problems with Iran. Iran and the Nigerian war with rebels fears create a climate of possible oil supply disruption fueling higher prices. And lower earnings by companies compounded the problems as well. But the new videos by both Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda's #2, Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri helped to create a new climate of fear in the U.S., and worries of new terrorist attacks.

Climate Of Fear: The new videos by both Osama Bin Laden and Dr. Ayman al-Zawahirir helped to color the debate over wiretapping in Congress, and the climate of fear created over the loss of civil liberties of some was colored by a Bush Administration request for the Google search engine to hand over data on search engine use, creating a climate of fear of big government involvement into privacy of the individuals far in excess of any real concerns to protect children from Internet sleeeze is created.

These are a combination of frightening trends that tend to feed off one another, creating an anxious environment of expectation of the worst to happen very soon. This "sky is falling" climate is not only shared by the very nervous, but by the very serious, and those in the mainstream business environment. Wall Street was like a "canary in the coalmine" Friday, a sort of barometer that was a gauge of rising levels of public fear.

2006 is likely to be a very rocky year, with very serious news and events. It's a very good time to dust off that family Bible and pray for stability and peace, otherwise we are merely powerless to a string of increasingly frightening events compounding upon one another that are far beyond out ability to control. If the worst happens, we are powerless to change that. But we can alter our sense of peace of mind and cope as well as possible with this rising tide of fear.

Those that survived holocaust and life in the German concentration camps such Dr. Victor Frankel survived not because they had any more to eat than the other starving prisoners, not because they had any more warmth than the other prisoners in cold unheated prison barracks. But they survived because of their psychological attitude of refusing to give in to personal defeat. This is the key to surviving even when the sky falls.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Bush Administration Seeks A Broad "Fishing Expedition" Into Google Search Engine

In yet the most blantant and worst example of Bush Administration trampling of civil liberties, the Bush Administration is seeking millions of search engine records from Google. The claim is that this is needed to revive an online law that the U.S. Spreme Court struck down as unconstitutional to protect children from pornography. Yet the simple truth is that this is little more than a far broader search into the private lives of millions of Americans that has little to do with legitimate efforts to protect children from exposyre to pornography or from the far worse abuses of sexual exploitation.

There are perfectly legal ways from Federal law enforcement personnel to conduct open and warrantless searchs for Websites that are involved in the sexual abuse and exploitation of children. And perhaps some sort of bette age verification method could be used to prevent children from acessing some adult entertainment Websites, but no one has come up with such a system. On plan to set up .xxx domain sites was first supported and then done in by the government.

When any terrible, but rare Websites are found by law enforcement to involve themselves in grossly offensive and obscene content or sexual exploitation of children, there is all legal powers to seize the records of these particular businesses and to make any arrests related to the particular Website's activity. But the Bush Administration is seeking a broad "fishing" powers for millions of Americans, for Websites that may involve sexual speech, but is most likely legal in most U.S. communities, and could include a broad "fishing" for political speech as well. For Attorney General Gonzales to use children as a "human shield" to justify and conduct such a broad assault on privacy of Americans is just as cowardly as those who would abuse or exploit children in running such a disgusting Website.

There is also perfectly legal ways for law enforcement to seek a warrant for a Website that is involved in child abuse or exploitation as well. Alberto Gonzales is seeking a broad "fishing expedition" with little valid or worthy arguments to revive a bill previously ruled to be unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. Seeking a broad interference into the privacy of millions of Americans to justify attempts to revive a law passed by Congress that was already struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court for broad unconstitutionality is a complete legal absurdity. This seems like an attempt for the Bush Administration to look at the search habits of millions of Americans, although none are specifically the subject of a legal search warrant themselves for personal criminal activity. Could this broad search also be used to charge someone in a conservative Southern town with a crime for simply viewing a silly bondgage porn Website from New York or Los Angeles. During the last Bush Administration, a Florida judge committed suicide after he was charged with ordering two bondage porn videotapes from a New York distributor who has sold hundreds of thousands of tapes to U.S. citizens in all 50 states. This judge appeared to targeted for political reasons to destroy his reputation and remove him from the bench. What business of government is it if in the privacy of his own home that this judge wishes to watch trashy stupid bondage porn videos that are legally sold in most of the other 50 states in videostores. As long as the judge is not involved in some sort of inappropriate acting out that is illegal, there was no reason to single him out for his kooky personalvideo tastes. There are no doubt journalists, politicians, doctors, lawyers, clergy or many others who have accessed adult entertainment Websites for curiousity sake or even for their own private sexual gratification. Some may well have wondered just what type of speech is being floated on the internet, and then found themselves being sexually interested in in some sites. Should the Bush Administration have access to a wide list of Americans only to destroy their lives for political reasons? Will the Bush Administration also want to know which men read Playboy while waiting at a barbershop for a haircut? This is a an absurd broads privacy invasion with virtually no good legal justification that sets up a tremendous possibility of abuse by the Bush Administration to round up or punish political "enemies ".

If Gonzales seeks to revive a law, then writing a a law that is within constitutional limits is the correct course. But using a broad look into the internet search records of millions of Americans simply does not justify any attempt to revive a law previously struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court as overly broad and unconstitutional.

Unfortunately Yahoo and another search engine have given into the Bush requests already. And the public should both write Yahoo and complain about this invasion into their privacy rights and consider a protest and boycott of Yahoo. But Google is doing the right thing in seeking to protect the mere search records of milions of Americans. It should be no business of the Bush Administration what sort of Websites that adults seek out in what should be the privacy of their own computer search for topics. I don't always agree with all the activity of the American Civil Liberties Union, but they also deserve special credit for attempting to shield the privacy of Americans as well.

Legitimate law enforcement to seek a search warrant against specific persons suspected of a serious crime is one thing. But seeking broad search engine records on millions of Americans is as bad as the Bush Administration seeking library or video store records, or listening in to your private phone conversations. Google deserves support in their efforts to protect privacy. Any Yahoo records should be returned and any Yahoo user should consider a lawsuit against them for providing records to the government when no specific crime was suspected of the individuals as well the fact that this request for information was only to support an unconstitutional law that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down. This "fishing expedition" is far worse than the wiretapping search for terrorism related messages going in and out of the U.S. that could involve the invasion of private phone calls or other messages for far more than those who may not be associated with terrorism at all.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Wal-Mart vs Worker Owned Cooperatives and Companies

While a megacorporation such as Wal-Mart can justify their economic policies of paying low wages as a social benefit "cost tradeoff" for low prices the fact remains that worker owned coooperatives and employee owned companies can match Wal-Mart for prices and offer excellent benefits to the employees.

Winco foods is a good example of a employee owned company that offers excellent prices on food comparable to Wal-Mart. One brand of cat food sells for 79 cents a can at some stores, sells for two for 79 cents at Kroger Corporation owned Fred Meyer stores, but comes in at only 25 cents a can at employee owned Winco. On all other comparable items, Winco is able to consistently offer huge Wal-Mart style discounts to customers, yet to offer very good employee ownership benefits to the WinCo workers.

In 1967, two private entrepreneurs, Bud Williams and Ralph Ward formed a warehouse style discount store in Boise, Idaho. But in 1985, the WinCo Foods Employee Stock Ownership Trust bought out the company and the company has both undergone a healthy expansion with the opening of new stores such as a new 900,000 square foot store in Woodburn, Oregon and expansion into California.

While Wal-Mart continues to operate primarily for the benefit of the top executives, such as regional managers who often earn $400,000 of more a year. And Alice Walton, daughter of Wal-Mart founder pours hundreds of thousands into political activity such as Progress For America which funds the right wing attack ads against those who oppose putting John Roberts and Sam Alito on the Supreme Court. And to pour millions into corporate lobby efforts by running the single largest single corporate entity PAC, after some urging to do so by Mississippi Senator Trent Lott which has heavily benefitted Republican officeholders and office seekers. Wal-Mart workers are forced into low minimum wage jobs in many cases, without any health insurance in many cases, and to seeking public health social welfare programs and food stamps to supplement their low wages which keep many Wal-Mart employee families stuck below the poverty line. Wal-Mart posts $10 billion a year in corporate profits, can spend money on high executive salaries and political activity and can hand politicians lobby money, but often shortchanges their employees to do so.

WinCo foods is able to match low Wal-Mart prices on groceries, yet offers far better average employee wages, although these sometime do not quite match union wages at some other large stores such as Safeway. But there are huge benefits in the employee stock ownership(pension plan) in the company which has a 21.2% annual compound growth rate. Employees can self-negotiate their own wages through employee committees. There are excellent health insurance with vision and dental benefits. There are paid vacations. There is an excellent retirement plan when employees are able to cash out their stock ownership in the company. Compared to Wal-Mart this company is able to match low prices and rapid growth in opening new large stores, yet offers many benefits to the workers who share in the company and set up the wages and other policies.

There are over 2500 employee owned companies currently in the U.S. employing 1.5 million American workers. This helps to insulate the workers against job layoffs and job exports to low wage countries such as China where wages often average only 24-40 cents an hour. In Pennsylvannia where privately owned sttel companies have been closing, some employees have been able to buy their companies and run profitable companies.

In this climate of job layoffs, job exports, low wages, pension givebacks, wage givebacks, and other problems that privately owned companies force on their workers, the successful model of employee owned companies should be given serious consideration by workers to improve wages, working conditions, benefits and other vital goals. Worker owned coooperatives and employee owned companies through pension plan stock ownership are worthy alternatives to the current gross failures of privately owned companies so of which offer few social benefits to many of the workers and often almost solely just benefit the management.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Wacky, Wacky Speeches Find Equal Opportunity

I thought that the Bush Administration had cornered the market on incoherent politically pandering speeches with no connection to grounded reality. But no. On Monday, some Democrats proved they could also try their hand at this wacky, wacky form of speech making.

The top honors go to lifelong Republican turned Democrat Mayor Ray Nagin of New Orleans. The bulk of Nagin's support has been more conservative White voters, but Mayor Nagin decided that a strange speech in which the concept of New Orleans as a "chocolate city" was promoted was somehow the basis to broaden his appeal into the Black community of voters. But most Black analysts as well as interviewed voters simply found his comments bizarre. And it also seemed that Nagin decided to hire Rev. Pat Robertson as his speech writer when claimed that the all hurricane disasters are some sort of "fire and brimstone " judgement from God, and due to "sins" like Iraq. It was a severely disturbed speech to say the least.

But honorable mention orders are also due to former Vice President Al Gore. Certainly he has some right to be bitter at the bad roll of fate that denied him the Presidency to George Bush who polled half a million less votes than him in 2000. But his Monday assault on the wiretapping allegations against George Bush calling for an independent counsel failed to note that his boss, Bill Clinton, as well as all presidents both Democrats and Republicans have allowed wiretapping and other invasions into public privacy in the name of national security.

Some administrations have done far worse. During both the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations, while both publicly supported a move towards civil rights, both administrations supported FBI investigations into Rev. Martin Luther King. Geraldo Riveria already reported a few years ago that J. Edgar Hoover believed King to be a subversive, Communist or troublemaker and when an FBI investigation into James Earl Ray was discovered that he intended to harm Dr. King if at all possible, the FBI used a covert effort to prevent King from renting a far safer hotel room and instead forced him to rent a highly security unsafe cheap room at the Lorraine Motel which allowed Ray an opportunity to murder King and eliminate someone J. Edgar Hoover personally disliked. The record on the twofaced Democratic sentiments towards King was very clear, public support for civil rights, but a covert effort to bring King down if he could be proven to be a subversive. Now in a revisionist history , many Democrats now sing the praises for Dr. King. But because of these covert efforts, Dr. King could not personally celebrate his own birthday Monday.

A final wacky speech moment occured during a MLK holiday speech by Hillary Clinton in which she compared Republican leadership to "plantation" owners. Certainly many are self-serving living from political support from big business lobby to lobby, where the antics of Jack Abramoff seem all too characteristic of the big money lobby problems in Congress. But for the more normally "centrist" Clinton, this "plantation" language seemed bizarre and out of the normal context of her cautious statements.

Monday was indeed a very strange day in political speechmaking. Well, maybe today we can return back to Bush Administration falsehood speeches about how "great " things are going in Iraq, and forget all the facts of violence and American deaths three years after things were supposed to be secure.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Weak State Of The Union

In a few days Mr. Bush will offer his State Of The Union address. Like all other administration misinformation and disinformation, it will be a shallow propaganda speech, when the real trend in the past five years of the Bush Administration is towards a path of weakness in so many vital fronts.

Iraq: It will claimed that great successes have been achieved by Bush. Yet the fact of the matter is that our military forces which number more than 150,000 there are unable to control an insurgent force that at best probably amounts to no than several thousand fighters, a force much weaker than the combined forces of the Viet Cong and NVA(North Vietnamese Army). The Iraqi election results have been largely held up since December 15, because of the fraud allegations which were partially resolved today with 227 ballot boxes thrown out, but with large segments of the Sunni population no doubt still feeling left out. This a recipe for continued conflict and a pool of anger to continue to fuel insurgent forces and possible ethnic civil war.

And because the U.S. is so overextended in Iraq, with a full 40% of the units, National Guard units, who went into Iraq very short on ammunition, radios , body armor and other vital goods, partially due to complete Bush Administration miscalculation not expecting a long occupation and insurgent war, and economic reality, there will be a partial drawdown of U.S. forces in 2006. And because of severe American government economic problems along with Republican political considerations to avoid a voter backlash over Iraq, the U.S. troop levels will be drawn down. But as the recent video by Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri claimed, this is seen as a "victory" by Al Qaeda and insurgent forces over the U.S. Mr. Bush challenged terrorsists to a battle of wills, but then because of economic, military manpower shortages and political considerations is now seen as backing down and "giving the aid and comfort to the enemy" that he long argued against in his very partisan speeches to recruit political support for his failing Iraq War efforts.

The War On Terror: It's very important to either win this war over terrorism or to even do the unthinkable, to meet with leaders of Al Qaeda in a third country and negotiate some end to this conflict much like England did with the Irish terrorist group Sein Fein. Israel may be forced to do a similar thing if Hamas wins a majority of seats in the Palestinian elections. It may be unthinkable to hold talks with organizations that are in a state of terrorist war with the U.S. , however during previous wars such as WWII and other conflicts there were some channels of communication between the combatants. During Vietnam, there were peace talks with the North Vietnamese government for all the years while we dropped bombs on Vietnam. This eventually led to treaty between the U.S. government and North Vietnam in 1973, although the peace failed to hold and the North continued to push for a victory by 1975. But some sort of dialog or even cease-fire agreement between the U.S. and Al Qaeda may eventually take place. Some secret meetings may even exist now to create a dialog between the two combatants. The fact of the matter is that both Al Qaeda and the U.S. have suffered big losses in this conflict, and both would benefit from some sort of cease-fire or mutually realize that neither can clearly win this conflict.

If Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri or other top leadership in Al Qaeda may have been killed in the recent attack in Pakistan, at some point the organization may consider a cease-fire to also be in their interests. At some point if both sides consider that they cannot defeat one another completely, a cease-fire may prove the only honorable way to conclude the mutual hostility. Al Qaeda is too elusive to be completely defeated by the U.S., and the U.S. is strong enough to militarily crush Al Qaeda's top leadership with high technology such as Predator drone aircraft in states in most parts of the world if the U.S. can only have the intelligence ability to know where this leadership is. Neither can completely win this conflict. Both would benefit by some agreement to eventually end the conflict. If peace could come in Ireland between the terrorists and England, then between other combatants should see that a mutual end to hostilities serve little purpose and entertain an end to the conflict. Even the PLO was a terrorist organization but was eventually copted by both the U.S. and Israel to become a legitimate political leader of the Palestinian people and now looks like moderate compared to more radical Hamas organization.

It is unknown to most Americans, but the CIA has a warehouse full of openly available items and public information items. It also has a large number of Osama Bin Laden T-shirts that sold and worn by children and adults all throughout the developing world. In most of these states, support for Osama Bin Laden runs at 40-80% among the populations. Unless the U.S. has some secret plan to nuke the populations of all the nations of the developing world, there is no way to weed out this massive pool of support for Osama Bin Laden, or possible persons inclined to join Al Qaeda. Even in Pakistan, the unpopular government opposes terrorists, but there is much support among the public for Al Qaeda. Defeating this pool of public suport is extremely difficult for the U.S.

9/11 said something about a weakness in the American economy as well. Only two large buildings were attacked,yet an economic ripple went all through American society. A large and properous economy should not have been effected, even though the attacks were outrageous and dastardly against innocent civilians.

The Economy: Bush may claim strength in the U.S. economy. But the U.S. has a national debt of $8.1 trillion dollars against a U.S. Treasury income of just $2.2 trillion dollars. In just the five years of the Bush Administration, Mr. Bush has allowed a foreign debt of $1.09 trillion dollars to build. It took 42 American Presidents 242 years to build up a foreign debt of $1.01 trilion dollars. Japan holds $682 billion in U.S. Treasury bonds. China holds $248 billion. Other states including those in the Caribbean hold the remainder of the $1.09 trillion dollars in this foreign debt that keeps our government from economic collapse.

In 2004, the U.S. had a trade deficit of $617.2 bilion dollars. By 2005 it worsened to an estimated $710 billion dollars. $29 dollar an hour union jobs are disappearing at GM and Ford as foreign companies such as BMW and Toyota replace our high paying union jobs in Detriot with lower wage jobs in Southern "right to work" states such as South Carolina or Alabama. By 2005, nearly every American textile job disappeared to low wage nations such as China where labor is only an average of 24-40 cents an hour. Even big companies such as J.C. Penney, long known for quality American made T-shirts and other items, now are made in countries like Honduras, Brazil and the United Arab Emirates. And trade agreements such as NAFTA, CAFTA and WTO have backfired, creating a wave of illegal immigration problems fro the U.S. as major U.S. corporate farms dumped cheap corn and wheat on South American markets, forcing many farm families into poverty and headed to the U.S. to seek a better life.

American airline employees now work for 40% less than a few years ago. And unions, union membership and work related pension plans are all under attack and fading in the U.S., as more and more high paying jobs disappear and the U.S. lags nearly $17,000 a year behind the average wages in a state like Germany.

In a few days Mr. Bush will try to falsely portray strength in his vision of America. But the fact is that out economy is losing vital industry. We're losing union jobs. We've got terrible foreign debt and national debt problems. And we're involved in a losing effort in Iraq. The state of the union is nowhere as strong as Mr. Bush will attempt to suggest. The U.S. is locked in many frustrating problems with difficult solutions. But instead of the U.S. growing stronger during the Bush years, it has instead weakened. The current state of the union is far weaker than Mr. Bush will claim in his propaganda address.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Happy Birthday Dr. Martin Luther King

If anything, Dr. Martin Luther King proved the power of a single Christian minister to question sin and made America feel guilty for this sin and made America repent for it. His death acted as a form of martyrship for a minister of the Gospel, much like many other martyrs were put to death for offering an pleasant but honest atttack on sin.

God created all men as equals in his eyes. But American society certainly did not. Blacks faced poverty and discrimination as well as a humiliating lifestyle of second-class status. In the American South it was even worse with terrible racist segregation laws. But the sacrifice of Dr. King has even opened way to a modern society where someone with the skills and talents of a Barack Obama, Colin Powell, Dr. Condoleezaa Rice, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Oprah Winfrey, Tyra Banks, Edward Brooks, or any other Black American with great skills can be thought of as a great American, not just a great Black American. Without a free society based on the content of character, rather than skin color, our nation would have been robbed of these great personalities. Two of the best doctors I've personally had are Black Americans. I would hate to think about how much worse off I would have been without their lifesaving talents and skills. Black medical staff have saved hundreds of thousands of lives each year. Dr. Ben Carson, is the world's greatest doctor at seperating siamese twins. He studies 3D computer images for hours and has a great success rate at offering a more normal life to those impacted with this terible birth defect. Some of these surgeries involve nearly a whole day of work and stress. The inventor of plasma was a Black medical researcher. Great mathematicians and rocket scientists are Black Americans.

Certainly there is a long way to go. Martel Webster, a member of the Portland Trailblazers reminds Americans that great problems with hunger and poverty remain. Not every Black shares in this fame and wealth. Black unemployment still lags behind Whites at 9.3% nationally with less White unemployment at 4.3%. But there is a trend of steady progress in many areas to achieve a better equality of the races both socially and economically.

Without the sacrifice of Dr. Martin Luther King would this level of progress have been achieved? Absolutely not. The power of a charismatic Christian leader to use the nation as his own congregation, and to preach against the sins of racism and inquity shamed the nation into enough repentence to move American society this far. In Britain a little five foot tall minister of the Gospel, Rev. Wilbur Wilberforce, with a stooped spine and sickly appearance was able to bring down slavery in Britain, shaming that nation for it's sins. Dr. Martin Luther King did the same here. And America is better off for it. In Liberia, a nation founded by former American slaves, a woman became the first democratically elected leader in Africa. But Americans do not have to leave America for opportunity any longer. With hard work, many Blacks can still be judged by the content of their skills, abilities and character, not their skin color.

America is better off because of Dr. Martin Luther King. America is richer in talents and skills because of Dr. King. Happy birthday Dr. King. Well done, faithful servant of the Gospel.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Failed Raid In Pakistan Another Setback For Building Support Against Terrorism

The Bush Administration has a real penchant for being able to pull out a major foreign policy defeat from the jaws of victory. Had the covert CIA Predator drone aircraft asault in remote Pakistan succeeded in taking out the #2 in Al Qaeda, Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, then the intellectual leader of this organization would be gone. And Al Qaeda leadership would live in constant psychological terror that they could be struck in any nation, and that their organization must be compromised from within by infiltration and traitors. Instead it appears that bad intelligence may well have created a new serious setback and failure for the Bush Administration.

It appears likely that not only was intelligence information wrong, but that civilians may have been wrongly hit, and only a cow and some private homes were destroyed. This helps to drive a big wedge between the vital support of the government of Pakistan, which is unpopularly offering politically dangerous support to the U.S. and the people of Pakistan. It gives a popular issue to spur possible violence or a political revolt in Pakistan to remove the government or to at least further erode support for this unpopular government.

Israel had great success in combating Hamas terrorism by targeting the leadership in response to terrorist attacks by Hamas in recent years. But unlike the far superior intelligence and infiltration of Hamas or PLO leadership by Israel, the U.S. has had great difficulty infiltrating Al Qaeda. At best, U.S. intelligence into the leadership of this organization is highly suspect. And a leader such as Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri is another vereran of the Afghanistan war with the Soviets, and even wounded in combat in that war, that the Reagan Administration fought by using covert CIA support to build and fund a network of about 30,000 Mujahadeen fighters in Islamic fighter training camps throughout remote areas of both Afghanistan and Pakistan. However, the CIA failed to keep tight contols on this covert war with the Soviets in response to the Brezhnev Doctine in which Leonid Brezhnev held that the Soviet Union had the right to intervene against any internal political weakening of a Soviet socialist ally state. In Afghanistan, the Communist Party strength within the government appeared to wane, and this secular Communist state appeared to present an Islamic threat to the Soviet Union as potentially spreading Islamic separatism throughout the Muslim peoples within the Soviet sphere of power.

Between the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan, the growing rise of Islam Mujahadeen radicalism, and the Reagan Administration covert CIA war as another proxy superpower war to combat Soviet influence in Afghanistan, the rise of both the Taliban and Al Qaeda grew up in Afghanistan. The terror networks of the Taliban and Al Qaeda began to grow from within the Mujahadeen forces where Saudi Arabian radical, Osama Bin Laden became an important Mujahadeen leader and fighter training camp organizer. Now the Soviets face serious terrorism threats from Islam Chechen separatists, and the U.S. is locked into serious and spreading war with a growing world Islamic fundamentalist threat. Just like the Soviet war in Afghanistan helped to spur the growth of the Mujahadeen fighter network, the faulty U.S. war in Iraq is also helping to fuel Islamic fighter and radical terrorist growth.

The chess game of the Superpowers over Afghanistan and the failing war in Iraq have given Islamic radicals a rally point to moltivate, recruit and indoctrinate new followers. And with U.S. support for the despotic Shah of Iran that dated back to WWII, who ruled through terror of his population such as "The White Revolution", the U.S. created a backlash of Islamic radicalism and anger that has helped to fuel not only the revolution in Iran, but has given a platform for a radical government bent on acquiring nuclear weapons there. And the militarism of the U.S., as well as the failed economic injustice of trade agreements such as Clinton's NAFTA and Bush's CAFTA have created a massive dumping of cheap wheat and corn products on the South American markets spurring poverty among farm families there, and an illegal immigration crisis for the U.S. as well as the growth of radical leftist antiU.S. governments there. In both Chile and Mexico, two more leftist antiAmerican governments may soon come into power with coming elections.

A combination of wrongful superpower meddling in the affairs of some nations, as well the continued allowed poverty in many nations by the U.S. and other superpowers has created a backlash of problems for the U.S. from states that are increasingly turning antiAmerican. Compared to the far more favorable view of the U.S. during the Clinton years, the Bush Administration is quickly turning the developing world into a dangerous network of radicalism, terrorism and antiAmericanism.

The failed CIA mission in Pakistan against Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri is yet another match thrown into this fuel barrel of problems. It will only further radicalize many in the population in that nation, and forces the government of Pakistan to take some antiU.S. action. What the U.S. dosen't understand is that their own actions often fuel this Islamic radicalism and promote it's growth. There is little understanding within the current Bush Administration on how not to worsen this serious problem. This is the worst legacy of this administration so far, leaving much of the developing world far more radicalized and antiAmerican and creating a hatred that mass produces new antiU.S. radicals and terrorists. Every day this leaves American interests in the world more vulnerable to new threats. This is no way to fight a war on terrorism. There couldn't possiby be any more signs of a foreign policy failure than this.

The U.S. gained important goodwill after help with the Asian Tsunami in the last year. The U.S. needs policies in the developing world that create a respect for the U.S., as well as efforts to eliminate poverty in developing world areas as well. This would be an effective start to reverse this damgerous growing tide of antiAmericanism. The present policies are not working against this growth of antiAmericanism where a serious change of direction is needed to make the U.S. world interests more safe and secure. Sometimes national security comes offering food or a cup of milk to the poor of the world.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Long Struggle To Provide Health Care Benefits From Wal-Mart

It has been a long struggle to force Wal-Mart into a compliance to provide at least 8% of it's company payrolls for health care benefits for it's employees in Maryland. The state legislature of Maryland finally was able to overide the veto of Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich, who vetod the bill previously after Wal-Mart lobby efforts.

According to research statistics provided by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, in the U.S. a full 97.5% of all unionized workers have health insurance benefits. And 85% of all nonunion workers do as well. But for Wal-Mart employees this figure drops down to less than half of all workers. In Maryland, Wal-Mart may claim a slightly better figure than some states of employees with health care insurance of some type, however for the families of Wal-Mart employees in Maryland around 46% have no health insurance or may have to depend on public welfare health services.

In Maryland, only about 5 to 6% of company payrolls are allocated towards providing health insurance, which compares poorly with all other large employers in the state who average between 10 to 20% of company payroll totals. The Maryland bill mandating just 8% of company payrolls towards health care insurance means that just about $135 per month for full-time employees will be mandated. This will only buy a high deductable plan, with few real benefits to workers, but is certainly far better than no health care benefits at all.

As timid as this minimum plan for Maryland Wal-Mart stores is, some "conservative" blogs all are up in arms over this very bare bones proposal. One "conservative" blog claimed the Maryland bill was "socialistic" and other nonsense 1950's Joe McCarthy rehortic, and claimed that "jobs will be lost". Yet absolutely no proof of this is to found. Once again "conservatives" claim that a strong business community is the key to lifting Americans from poverty, but when push comes to shove, "conservatives" defend low wages, oppose employer paid health care benfits, oppose employer pension plans, and would drive down American wages towards low wage nations if given the chance. U.S. workers already earn a wage that is more than $17,000 a year below the average wage in Germany, and thousands below the wages paid in the U.K, France, Japan and even Ireland.

Wal-Mart seems to have money to spend on everything except good wages or employee health care benefits. Wal-Mart heiress, Alice Walton plowed huge donations into the Progress For America PAC, and helped to plaster the airwaves with many ads to put probig business advocates John Roberts and Sam Alito on the U.S. Supreme Court. John Roberts was a former lobbyist for coal mining, Toyota and Chrysler business interests, who fought against strip mining laws and other environmental regulations. Judge Sam Alito has opposed the interests of consumers or individuals and workers in 85% of all of his courtroom decisions. Wal-Mart has the nations single larest PAC, with millions to spend to lobby legislators. In Maryland, both the Governor and state legislators were threatened with hollow Wal-Mart arguments that jobs will be lost unless they oppose the bare bones proposal to mandate that a mere 8% of Wal-Mart company payrolls go towards employee health care costs. There are many Wal-Mart regional managers who draw in yearly salaries of hundreds of thousands a year. Wal-Mart seems to have money for just about anything except for paying wages above the minimum wage for many employees, leaving many dependent on food stamps, public health care programs, and other public welfare benefits, living below the poverty line standard for working families.

When Republican Governor, Robert Ehrlich was to veto the Wal-Mart health care bill pased by the Maryland legislature back in June, a major Wal-Mart executive flew in for the ceremony and even hired a high school band to play patriotic songs, while the Republican Governor conspired with these greedy company to keep thousands of Maryland Wal-Mart workers without the health care insurance benefits that every other large employer in Maryland provides. Even with the new override of the governor's veto, Wal-Mart employees will still be stuck in a life of low wages and low health care benefits. Many will continue to depend on the taxes of other workers to provide food stamps, public health care or other public welfare services to lowly paid Wal-Mart employees. The Maryland bill is a timid step in the right direction towards offering a better life for Wal-Mart employees and their families, but the trend is clear, low wage workers are used as a supply and demand commodity by wealthy corporations to build lavish lifestyles of luxury and private jets for the management, and little but poverty, food stamps or public health welfare programs for the workers. Wal-Mart is the worst thing to happen to workers since slavery or child labor.

Friday, January 13, 2006


The U.S. trade deficit for 2004 was $617.2 billion dollars. For all of 2005 it is likely to be an estmated $710 billion dollars. With trade agreements like NAFTA, CAFTA and WTO, the trade deficit problems have only grown during the Bush years. This has cost many high paying factory jobs.

The average wage in China is just 40 cents an hour in factories, although many actually pay only 24 cents an hour. However the wages in the Geely automobile company is $3.50 an hour, some of he highest factory wages paid in China. In the U.S. thousands of $29 an hour factory jobs at GM and Ford are disappearing and pension cuts are growing in American industry. Airline wages have been cut by an average of 40% over the last several years.

William Bennett, former Reagan Administration member, who is best known for his right wing moralizing on "values", reportedly lost as much as $8 million dollars on gambling.

Bill O'Reilly who keeps insisting that their is a "culture war" in America, reportedly paid as much as $10 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by a female producer after O'Reilly reportedly made a large number of unwanted sexually explicit phone sex calls to this producer. In another example, Bill O'Reilly invited adult film star and producer, Jenna Jameson to appear on his program so he could attack her industry. But after the show was over, the adult film star reported that Bill O'Reilly changed his attitudes towards her and asked for free DVDS he could bring home to watch of her popular films.

Rush Limbaugh, champion of right wing causes with his popular "White populist" radio program, publicly admited problems with prescription drug addiction on October 10, 2003 and that he was entering a drug rehab clinic after mounting problems from a law enforcement investigation.

William F. Buckley, the "Godfather" of American conservatism, despite a very literate command of the English language proved himself to be a very advocate for the conservative ideology on more that one occasion. On a televised debate with author Gore Vidal, Buckley was was having difficulty winning the discussion on whether the Chigago police had acted properly during the violence outside the 1968 Democratic Convention. When the discussion began to breakdown, Vidal refered to Buckley as a "crypto-nazi", and Buckley got angry and shouted, "Now listen you queer, stop calling me a crypto-nazi, or I'll sock you in your god***n face, and you'll stay plastered". In another example of Buckley inability to adequately represent the "conservative" viewpoint , Buckley walked out of a debate with Howard Zinn at Tufts university when a debate wasn't going well. Buckley had a style of eloquent command of the English language in public policy debates, that often failed him when liberal opponents began to cite hard facts.

It's popular for Mr. Bush to surround himself with military personel to appear to be both patriotic and promilitary, however therecord of Bush on military affairs is really quite bad. For example, Mr. Bush only scored 25% on the National Guard flight appitude test, the lowest possible passing score so he could enter the National Guard flight school, and avoid combat duty in Vietnam. As President , Bush cut veteran's health care benefits forcing 200,000 veterans to wait for needed medical services. Despite the fact that 40% of the forces in Iraq are National Guard or Reserve units, the Bush Administration opposed health care benefits for both National Guard and Reservists. And the Bush Administration cut $172 million from the education funds alloted to educate the children of military familes.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

NBC's "Must See" TV Falls Far Short On Ratings

Struggling Network, NBC's attempt to resurrect a new version of "Must See" TV has fallen far short of previous years versions. NBC's latest efforts only came in at only third place in the ratings compared to weekly champion, CBS and even ABC's new entry of DANCING WITH THE STARS.

NBC had hoped that the ratings strong new comedy, MY NAME IS EARL, as well as the temporary removal of the ratings weak, FRIENDS spinoff, JOEY, from the schedule would help NBC in a weekly ratings loss to CBS. But running against the world's most popular TV program, CSI which drew in 27.2 million viewers in the U.S., and as many as 100 million viewers worldwide, new comedy, MY NAME IS EARL only managed to hold 11.2 million viewers, which knocked in down to only number 35 in all the rated network programs. This was the worst ratings performance for this new comedy entry ever. On Tuesday, MY NAME IS EARL had found a hole in the schedule that it was able to build a ratings strong following. But the return of the medical comedy, SCRUBS, was only able to hold 7.7 million viewers, far below the top 20 program finish of EARL on Tuesday with around 14 million viewers a week in that slot.

The Thursday problem for MY NAME IS EARL, THE OFFICE, WILL & GRACE and the new comedy, FOUR KINGS, is that even though all have a quality writing and acting angle, but none of them has the appeal that older favories such as SEINFELD, FRIENDS, CHEERS, NIGHT COURT or FRAZIER once had. Even CBS has been able to build a successful comedy block on Monday with four very good comedies including TWO AND A HALF MEN, THE KING OF QUEENS as well as new comedy series such as HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER and OUT OF PRACTICE that are beginning to show an audience loyality and ratings strength both.

ABC has heavily retreated from comedy programs, except for the quirky DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES drama, of which NBC has competed with a similar quirky drama with funny moments, THE BOOK OF DANIEL. But with a controversial lineup of characters and many Christian organizations taking an outrage, this dramamedy only managed a mere 9.0 million viewers on ratings challenged Friday, losing to the CBS hit dramas, CLOSE TO HOME, NUMBERS, and ABC's IN JUSTICE and 20/20. More likely than not, THE BOOK OF DANIEL will lose some of it's audience rather than gain more of it, and be cancelled sometime this year. Likely, only the controversary propelled THE BOOK OF DANIEL to only garnering a soft number 46 amongst all the rated programs last week. This Friday, NBC faces a new threat from it's sister cable network, USA Network, as the critically acclaimed dramamedy, MONK returns for a Winter run. Tony Shaloub has created one of the funniest and best detective characters ever, and compared to THE BOOK OF DANIEL, MONK, is a vastly superior and more watchable and entertaining program. When push comes to shove, many who want to see a 10PM Friday dramamedy will tune in to MONK, and ignore THE BOOK OF DANIEL mess on NBC.

But NBC does have many quality programs that are some of televisions very best. LAW AND ORDER:SVU is having probably it's best season ever, as Mariska Hargitay, the daughter of blonde bombshell legend, Jayne Mansfield, has grown into one of television's greatest actresses, far better than her merely acceptable supporting actress role on ER a few years ago would have suggested. Last Sunday, the excellent drama, CROSSING JORDAN, had one of it's best episodes ever, with plenty of ghoulish laughs, edge of seat drama and enough sexual tension to be a great television viewing experience. ER, and the other two LAW AND ORDER programs, and the aging WEST WING are still strong entries with mostly good healthy ratings and audience loyality. NBC seems to have far more strength in quality dramas than it has in comedy programming, however CBS has proven itself to be the current master at both.

Ratings will tend to shift over time. And the loss of WILL & GRACE after this year will be another blow to NBC's comedy lineup. All NBC can do is to continue to look for the next SEINFELD or CHEERS out there somewhere and continue to offer strong episodes of the LAW AND ORDER franchise.

Will Canada Shift to The Right?

The elections in Canada are only 10 days away. But Canada is struggling whether to undergo an ideological shift. The Liberal Party has been the recent subject of RCMP investigation into a scandal, although nothing has so far been proven or officially charged. And while the Conservatives have been able to take some political advantage of these problems, the Liberals have been forced to defend themselves from the appearance of the investigation.

Unlike the U.S., Canada has four major parties, with the Liberals and Conservatives the largest, but the more liberal social democratic, New Democratic Party, and the French-Canadian seperatist, Bloc Quebecois Party, also have pockets of strength throughout Canada.

While blantant antiAmericanism has helped South American leftists to garner power in recent years and even has another antiAmerican leftist in the lead in the Mexican presidential election as well, Canadian Liberal leadership such as Paul Martin has only gently compared Conservative Steve Harper to the right wing movement in America. But fears of cuts in social services and a claim that the Conservatives may cut into legal abortion rights are giving some Canadian voters fears of a turn to the right. Others in Canada may dislike having a government seen as too similar to that of George Bush, and many voters may simply be just too wary to have a government so similar to so many U.S. policies which are broadly disliked by Canadians. Canadians are friendly to the U.S., but there is always the yearning to have an identity seperate of the large U.S. shadow. A government seen as too much like that of George Bush may threaten this sense of independent Canadian identity, and most voters may reject the Conservative Party in the end. But with four parties in Canada, the progressive elements represented in the Liberal, New Democratic and Bloc Quebecois Parties may be too fractured, and the Conservatives could form a minority government if they win more seats in the Canadian Parliament than the Liberal Party.

One recent poll has the Conservative Party with a nine point lead, but whether this a real trend, or fears of becoming too similar to the U.S. , and fears of right wing shifts in policy will give enough voters reason to reject the Conservatives is not yet known. The next ten days will be interesting to watch for political shifts or trends.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Will The Real Sam Alito Please Stand Up

Unlike the somewhat unknown commodity of John Roberts, Judge Sam Alito has had a long track record both in efforts during the Reagan Administration, with his own writings and as a sitting judge. Yet, in yesterday's hearings, a seeming "born again" moderate seemed to emerge. Yet it appeared to only be a ploy to avoid conflict and to secure a position on the Supreme Court bench.

The hard right forced the first nominee, Harriet Miers to withdraw from consideration, but now Sam Alito underplays his long record of written opinions.

While Sam Alito is not the lightning rod that Robert Bork was, he should openly and honestly represent his views. But many were left with a feeling that Alito became a "born again" moderate at the hearings. If Mr. Alito has geniunely changed some of his views, then that is fine. But if this new "heart change" is only to "pull one over" on the country, then that is a deeply sad breaking of the public trust and an issue of a real lapse of personal ethics.

Time will tell which is true. Hopefully Mr. Alito is the man that he now claims to be. A man whose opinions have actually grown and evolved with age. We'll see which Judge Alito rules from the bench.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Dow Tops 11,000 But Problems Remain For The U.S. Economy

The Dow may now top 11,000, but severe problems remain for the U.S. economy. Yesterday at the Detroit Auto Show, China displayed a new car brand that will soon compete with troubled American firms such as GM and Ford, the Geely.

On www.geely.com , a series of four modern automobiles including a sleek sports car will soon compete with GM and Ford. This company has even bid for the assets of the British MG and Rover company in a bid to move this heavy equipment to Hong Kong for more production of automobiles. While U.S. firms have a long history in America. Studebaker started from two blacksmiths in 1850. Rambler started in the late 1800's as a bicycle company. Oldsmobile and others have a long history. But some automobile producers in Asia tha have been in business only a limited number of years display an amazing growth potential. Even Subaru, with a past of building automobiles starting in 1967, has become a major U.S. import brand. The ultracheap 360 model, a two cylinder automobile that sold for a mere $1,297 in 1969 has been long forgotten. Current models are top quality and high horsepower, yet still return excellent mileage.

While the Dow is up, oil still hit $64 a barrel today as nuclear fears of Iran again were raised. OPEC still intends oil production cutback talks this month. All of this could hit the U.S. automobile industry hard this year opening up room for reliable and cheap automobiles from China. Rather than buying a used car, many already buy a low price car like a Hyundai. These have recently proven themselves to be low priced and reliable, unlike earlier models which were the subject of some problems. With some automobiles that could sell for less than the South Korean automobiles, China has some room to put GM and Ford on further slippery ground in 2006.

2006 will be a year in which oil price issues and automobile industry issues will help to drive the economy. The Dow is up now, but by January 2007, we may be looking at a far different U.S. economy. Oil prices will decide how much low priced imports cut into the U.S. automobile market. Without a doubt, 2006 will be an interesting year of economic uncertainty.