Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Right Fractures Into Factions

The American political right is fracturing into factions. Unlike any other issue, the illegal immigration issue has created sharp new divisions between the more racist elements of the American right and the far more pragmatic probusiness conservatives, mainstream conservatives, and the religious right social conservatives. One strong evidence of this is problems over at Polipundit, one of the Web's largest traffic "conservative" blogs.

Polipundit, the blogger, not the website itself, has recently taken on a strongly antiBush stance from the far right, even accusing Bush of "treason" for allowing so many illegal immigrants into the U.S. to eventually gain U.S. citizenship. Instead of allowing this right wing website to continue to be an umbrella for several different sorts of "conservatives", Polipundit basicly demanded that all guest bloggers on his site either agree with him or get lost. This edict has caused this site to bust apart at the seems, leaving only the most conservative and far right of elements remaining.

Some guest bloggers on the site, such as Lorie Byrd who represents a far more pragmatic form of mainstream "conservatism" have left and formed her own far more reasonable blog. Others such as DJ Drummond, who is the most intellectual and gifted of the Polipundit guest writers also seems to be no longer posting there either. And California attorney, Jason Javitz, who is more of a probusiness conservative also hasn't posted there for a while either.

I have a tendency to "cruise" several blogs each day, and I would find some features on Polipundit where I had to respond with a leftist response to some issues because I hated to see the left and also liberalism so malaligned in some posts. I would find it especially bothersome when antilabor or antipoor people positions were sometimes promotted. Certainly not every person on the left, or every position argues for a reasonable or workable viewpoint that is argument proof, but then again neither does the right either.

I found you could have a reasonable political dialogue with some on this right wing website, but others would prefer to simply to shout you down with an insult and offer no supportable opinions whatsoever. With the new sharp turn to the right it should only become worse over at Polipundit and foot traffic will likely drop considerably. I lack the masochistic tendencies to want to go over and offer opinions only to get abuse, rather than have a reasonable dialogue. Likely others will feel the same as well.

The problems over at Polipundit are a mircosm of the problems facing the political right at this time. But there are also many fractures within both the left and in the Democratic Party at this time as well. Whether the left or even the Democrats can take some advantage of the split in the right to make a decent showing and change Congress towards the left is yet to be seen. Unfortunately some largely pragmatic Republicans have already lost out to more far right opponents in some primaries. So many Republican ranks are filled with the far right in some U.S. communities, while more pragmatic Republican such as Portland, Oregon attorney Ron Saxton defeated his right wing opponent Kevin Mannix, in the Oregon Republican primary for governor. Nationwide Republicans make up about 34% of voters, and Democrats about 37%. It is up to the independent voters to break towards the more moderate of the candidates to defeat the far right in November. Whether this happens remains to be seen.

The political right is doing itself great harm to purge itself of it's more pragmatic elements, but that might also be what helps to defeat this ideology and paint it as the wacky fringe ideology that it really is. Other than some very conservative districts, it is hard to imagine that enough persons are not hooked up right and want to elect screwball extremists to represent them. But like all extremists, the damage they do to themselves is far worse than that of any opponent. The far right is currently doing an admirable job of falling on their own sword right now.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Another Sure Sign Of The Coming Apocalypse: Hotel Heiress Paris Hilton's New Album Will Feature Reggae And Hip Hop

For my money, who else but a millionaire hotel heiress can better represent the pain and suffering of the Black experience of a life of poverty in Jamaica better than Paris Hilton. And forget about Bob Marley, Inner Circle, or other Caribbean regional greats who are so skilled at representing reggae with so much feeling, as the Hilton Hotel heiress, and all around bad girl, Paris Hilton promises to do this uniquely Jamaican music art form real justice.

And forget about the "gangsta" experience as witnessed by Snoop Dogg or 50 Cent in their music, Paris Hilton also promises to express herself and life experience of growing up on the mean streets of life on Rodeo Drive as a millionaire hotel heiress. Despite never having to do without that cocktail olive or that new designer dress or pair of Gucci shoes, Hilton is sure she has the hip hop beat down pat.

The new and up coming album by Paris Hilton promises to be a real experience, going far beyond mere pop music to venturing into the worlds of hip hop and reggae. Whether the album will be musicly worthwhile at all, or simply an embarrassing "William Hunglike" experience only good for it's unintentional comedy value is yet to be seen. But the new release will see distribution by Warner Bros. Records, on a new label, Heiress Records, because apparently Thurston Howell Records must have been already taken as a new label moniker.

Hilton claims to have actually written the lyrics to seven of the songs on the new album, so apparently her wit and wisdom goes far beyond her very profound quote of "That's hot". Who would have ever have guessed that Hilton had the lyrical skills on par with the best in pop, hip hop or reggae music.

A new single will be the first item from this upcoming album. You can be sure that this new Paris Hilton venture will receive far more publicity and entertainment reporting than it's probably worth, yet will be an interesting new musical curiosity and leave the critics in waiting with their acid tipped pens dripping venom.

Monday, May 29, 2006

A Tough Memorial Day

Like many American families, Memorial Day brings somber reflections for me. Our family has had a long background of military action. During WWII a close relative was killed by a Kamikazi pilot crashing his Zero aircraft into the gun turret on the American ship he was manning and killed this 18 year old sailor. Another relative was hospitalized when an Army Airforce ground accident caused the ground crew to be chopped up by a aircraft propellor blade. My father served in cold Korea in 1950 during that terrible war as a cook at a POW camp. His brother served as a Marine. Another served as a sailor on a nuclear sub and was badly burned in an electrical accident in the torpedo room about the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis. I had my draft card from Vietnam, but was not called up as more new recruits were stopped after 1972.

Members of the military serve their nation, no matter where called and without question. This does not mean that all wars are right or just. But it is a sign of loyalty to the nation that many risk their lives to do as told without question.

With two current wars, this Memorial Day was very tough for many families. 2,466 dead and more than 18,000 wounded from just Iraq alone. And Afghanistan is beginning to worsen again as well as witnessed by today's events that spun out of control as well.

Today journalists paid a very high price to present the news with a car bombing taking it's toll on a CBS news crew. What was to be a routine news story turned out to be anything but that, leaving two of the CBS crew injured, and a popular female reporter very badly injured. If she survives her serious wounds, then her life is forever changed by today's split second events. Well pray for her complete recovery and the recovery of the six wounded American servicemen as well.

All families who made a tough sacrifice for the good of the U.S. deserve our prayers today. War is unfortunately not the best or most moral way for humans to resolve conflicts, but it is the way humans seem to often choose. And many are forced to live with the consequences of this choice. Servicepersons put their life on the line for the choices of politicians. But unless good would confront evil in conflicts, then evil would create even more human suffering if good men acting as soldiers did not move to protect innocent lives. Other times the line between good and bad are more blurred.

Regardless of whether the current two wars are just or not, should not be at issue here. Our servicepersons do deserve both prayers for their safety and respect. And evil elements in Iraq or Afghanistan would certainly victimize even more innocent lives with mosque attacks or sectarian violence if the U.S. did not continue some sort of police role in both countries. A good policeman never walks away from a situation simply because crime exists, but they try to prevent more violence or crime. All good prayers should be that peace and calm are soon restored to both Iraq and Afghanistan, and that domestic forces in both countries can soon learn from the American and international examples of peacekeeping skills. There is no excuse for violence, and all people deserve to live in peace. The policeman and the soldier are sometimes necessary to this end when humans cannot control their own conduct. God bless them.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Latest Mind Numbing Quote From Bush: "The War Began On My Watch, But It Will End On Your Watch".

I don't know if it's a lack of clear communication skills on the part of George Bush, very poor script and speech writer abilities, or simply all his years of alcohol or drug abuse talking, but the Bush penchant for mind numbingly bad quotes that may sound pround only in his own mind is one of the greatest lasting impressions of this grossly failed presidency.

It's almost as if the American public took a long look at the professorial and preachy Al Gore in 2000, or the stiffly intellectual skills of John Kerry in 2004, and instead decided to twice elect a "Gilligan" instead.

Yesterday to the graduating class of West Point, Mr. Bush made a bizarre quote that somehow slipped past his handlers and speech writers who somehow thought it smacked of brillance. Of course it did not. "The war began on my watch, but it will end on your watch", proclaimed Bush thinking himself to be espousing the greatness of speeches by Churchill, Kennedy or other true world class leaders of the past.

Bush's quote seems ignorant of the fact that he himself and his own advisors such as Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and John Bolton, members of the neoconservative prowar organization, The Project For The New American Century, that chose this war themselves. Saddam Hussein was contained by 12 years of U.N. sanctions, and reluctantly agreed to UNSCOM supervised arms inspections and arms destruction. The second in command of the Iraqi Air Force, General Georges Sada, had already detailed that WMD materials, mainly pesticide based chemicals in steel drums had already long ago been shipped to Syria in flights involving passenger planes with the seats removed to carry more cargo. There was no real WMD threat with these crude chemical weapons materials long since sold or traded to Syria from Iraq.

In testimony to Congress during the Clinton Administration years, Paul Wolfowitz attempted to beat the drums for a new war with Iraq by claiming that placing the oil assets of Iraq under "international supervision" was a primary goal of a new Iraq War. Indeed it was oil assets that encouraged Britain to enter Iraq right after the WWI defeat of the Ottoman Empire, with 130,000 troops, almost exactly the same number as U.S. forces today.

Iraq is known to have 113 billion barrels of proven oil assets. But an additional 220 billion barrels of undiscovered oil assets are estimated by U.S. oil industry experts to exist in Iraq, which would make for a 98 year supply of oil to the U.S. for the U.S. oil companies if these oil oil assets were placed under the "international supervision" that Wolfowitz had testified about before Congress before.

But instead of the Iraq War increasing the world oil supply as was intended by the Bush Administration which is dominated by 42 persons who are either oil company executives or major stockholders, including Bush himself and Condoleezzza Rice, a former Chevron official, Iraq is now putting out 900,000 fewer barrels a day of oil than during the Saddam Hussein days of even the worst days of the strict U.N. mandated sanctions.

Brfore the Iraq War in 2003, gasoline was $1.59 a gallon. Today it has nearly doubled to about $3.00 average as a result of this grossly failed war to place iraqi oil assets under "international supervision".

To hear the grossly twisted logic of Bush to the graduating class at West Point, you would think that the war was forced on the U.S. There is no hint that the war was one of a failed greed of American oil companies to control the resource assets of another nation and an act of classic colonialism thinly disguised as a "humanitarian" attempt to bring "democracy" to Iraq and free the people from the corrupt and cruel rule of Saddam Hussein.

And the Bush quote holds the sinister promise that the war will not conclude at the end of the Bush presidency, that the talk of U.S. troop drawdowns are likely more to slow the sagging public opinion poll numbers, and the young West Point graduates are promised that the war will end sometime during their lifetimes.

Bush could hardly have made a less profound or more dire forecast of the future of the Iraq War if he had really tried. Yet another truly bad Bush quote for the historians to mull over for generations.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Some Crazy Things You Might Not Realize

Leonardo Da Vinci's Last Supper Painting: Right now with the Da Vinci Code Movie so popular, there is a popular misconception that the 1495-1498 painting of The Last Supper is somehow being taken as an accurate representation of this historic religious history event. But the painting is merely a Middle Ages artist's representation, and not a historically accurate document of the actual event. At no normal table does everyone merely sit on one side of the table rather than around the table. At the real last supper, all were seated around the table, not merely on just one side as the Leonardo Da Vinci painting illustrates.

In the Dan Brown book, THE DA VINCI CODE, the absurd premise is promotted that it is Mary Magdelene rather than the disciple John that is seated next to Jesus. However Brown never bothers to mention that many years of damage to the painting has taken place that dates back to 1517 in which the painting began to flake. By 1556 the painting had deteriorated so badly that the figures were not easily recognizable. And a number of restoration projects, both good and bad sometimes did more damage than good to the painting. One of the most damaging was a restoration effort by Stephen Barezzi in 1821 who was supposed to be a fresco expert who badly damaged the center of the painting attempting to move it a safer location after he realised that painting was not a fresco. Barezzi attempted to glue pieces together, but already the faces had been sometimes poorly repainted by previous artists in other attempts to restore it by Michelangelo Bellotti in 1726 and by Giuseppe Mazza in 1770. A arch type doorway was even cut into the center of the painting in 1652, and on August 15,1943 while sandbags were placed in the refectory to protect the painting, a bomb likely caused further vibration damage to the painting. By 1978 the most major restoration project by Pinn Brambilla Barcilon was started and finally completed 21 years later in 1999. But many serious art critics were very unhappy with the final result including James Beck who is the founder of the Artwatch Society as well as a professor of art history at Columbia University.

It may be easy for a novelist such as Dan Brown to pen an absurd premise based on the badly damaged and poorly restored Leonardo Da Vinci painting, however with so many poor attempts at restoration, artists interpretation repaintings, and other damage, the final result is a painting probably far different than the original one.

Besides being a very great painter, Leonardo Da Vinci was an amazing designer of machinery and inventions as well including a crude computer, a helicopter, a battle tank and an automobile that used windup springs as a power source.

CSI: For purely dramatic reasons, on the very popular CSI program on CBS, the actors are often seen poking around in darkened houses with flashlights, when it would be far simplier to simply flick on the light switch. From this program you'd think that no one bothers to pay their electric bill. In real life, real crime scene investigators often work in very well lit labs with white lab coats in very carefully controlled conditions so that evidence is not compromised.

And in CSI, the actors are often seen questioning or interrogating witnesses and suspects, which in real life crime scene investigation does not really happen either. For dramatic reasons, it may add an element of excitement to CSI to add this questioning element, but it simply does not happen in real life crime investigation work. Real crime investigation work is nowhere as dramatic as this TV drama. And even juries expect that DNA or other invesigative methods can conclusively solve crimes, and now often base their decisions on what is called the "CSI effect", missing the point of limitations to technology or problems with evidence gathering, damaged evidence or inconclusive evidence.

George Bush and Dick Cheney: When George Bush and Dick Cheney ran for president and vice president in 2000, they both claimed to represent a real change from the character problems that plagued the Bill Clinton after the Monica Lewinsky Scandal. However, both Bush and Cheney failed to mention that they were the only ticket ever to run for president in which both had a criminal history.

While in college, a young George Bush pleaded guilty to theft after stealing a wreath from a hotel. In 1972, an author, J.H. Hatfifield claimed that Bush was arrested for cocaine possession, but had his sentence reportedly commuted down to just community service time in Houston's Martin Luther King House Community Center, of which Bush once publicly claimed that the National Guard had "stationed him there". However the Bush explanation of the National Guard supposedly stationing him at a community service project was a highly questionable claim that the national media never bothered to investigate. This court ordered community service time also explains a lapse in duty from the National Guard, another issue that was not fully addressed by the national news media after pressure to fire CBS reporter Dan Rather after questions about the bush guard duty were raised by Bush supporters. Highly questionable and contradictory smears of the military service by an independent 527 committee, the Swift Boat Vets were allowed to be reported on to ruin the reputation of 2004 Democratic candidate John Kerry by the national media, but right wing bully efforts forced any questions about the National Guard service of President Bush to be quickly dropped.

On Friday October 20, 2000, controversial Hustler Magazine publisher, Larry Flynt brought up a question that Bush was involved in a 1970 abortion scandal with a 15 year old girl while a young man with CNN moderator Bob Novak on the political program, CROSSFIRE . There was an interesting exchange between Novak and Flynt in which Novak replied, "Mr. Flynt, you said if it's true and you have no proof of that. I gather you are a very strong..."

Publisher Larry Flynt, replied, "The hell we don't have proof!".

Interestingly, by October 22, 2000, by the time that CNN offered transcripts for sale of the CNN CROSSFIRE program, the entire exchange over this supposed abortion incident was deleted from transcript available for purchase at CNN. It was one of the first times in CNN history that a transcript was not issued as the actual text of the program, and was subject to editing. Larry Flynt did go as far as naming both the girl and the hospitol in Houston in which the abotion supposedly took place, however the current husband of the girl, now a woman has threatened lawsuits if the woman was named, claiming that the event never took place. So this story is under heavy dispute.

In another claim, a girl who was 14 at the time had claimed that George Bush had tried to lure her with alcohol when he was a young man while at the Houston Hemisfair. However this relies only on the testimony of this girl who considers herself a friend and is only her version of the story.

Bush did face a DWI arrest in Maine on 9/4/76 according to police records. And author Kitty Kelley has claimed both alcohol and cocaine use by Bush as late as 1988. Dick Cheney was arrested twice for DWI on November 62 and on July 63.

As Governor of Texas, there were some allegations that Bush may have committed a felony by lying under oath in a funeral home scandal after whistle blowing by a state worker. Then Texas StateAttorney General, now U.S. Senator, John Cornyn filed a motion to quash a supena for Gov. Bush to testify that he had improperly talked to a Texas funeral home industry company, SCI , about a state investigation of this company. A printed quote from Newsweek published in 1999, seems to contradict the Bush claims that he had not commented on the state investigation to SCI executives. Executives at SCI were known to be big poltical contributors to George Bush. Interestingly, Houston attorney, Harry Whittington who was shot in the face by Duck Cheney in the recent hunting accident, continues to serve as Texas state head of the Funeral Commission after being appointed by Bush while Governor. There are many unresolved questions about this scandal that involves a similar question of lying under oath as Bill Clinton faced in the Paula Jones deposition claiming that he had no outside sexual relations but the Monica Lewinsky Scandal seemed to clearly contradict this testimony.

It is an interesting historical note that this winning ticket for president and vice president is the only one in U.S. history with a criminal arrest record by both the president and vice president as well as debatable questions about other possible criminal acts.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

False Hopes Of A Quick Withdrawal Of U.S. Forces Again Raised

Like many times before, new false hopes for an early U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq are again being raised. And just like so many times before, there is little reason to actually expect that this will come to pass. Many times before the Administration raised the same dashed hopes based on the elections in Iraq, the formation of a government, etc., but each time nothing much has changed for the deployment of U.S. troops in Iraq.

Yesterday, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki again raised hopes for an American drawdown of troops within 18 months. But once again there is little reason to expect this will come to pass. Reality factors in Iraq simply don't support such a major shift in the U.S. mission in Iraq within 18 months.

Most Iraqi units are not fully functional without U.S. backing for major combat missions or duties as of yet. Iraqi troops simply walking away from duty for the most minor of reasons is still a huge problem. Within the last few weeks, American officers attended what was supposed to a "graduation" ceremony of successful new Iraqi military recruits, and when these newly trained recruits discovered that their tour of duty included patrolling areas away from their home, then most of these new recruits began to strip off their uniforms and simply walk away from duty.

There is no evidence that sectarian violence has shown any great recent improvement. Just yesterday nine more bodies of torture and murder from sectarian violence were found for example. There is evidence that more and more middle class Iraqis are not fleeing Iraq to settle in Jordan or neighboring nations. Iraqi immigration to the U.S. has doubled from 1990-2000 to 90,000 Iraqi born citizens, and continues to grow as a result of U.S. activity in Iraq. More than 100,000 Iraqi citizens have abandoned their homes to live in one of eight refugee tent camps because of sectarian violence.

By 1922, Britain had 130,000 soldiers in Iraq to try to control both sectarian and insurgent violence. By 1958, British troops could no longer control the violence and left after the rebellion that year. The U.S. still has around 130,000 troops in Iraq, but has so far failed to control the violence in Iraq. Since 1922 Iraq has not seen any significant improvement in sectarian relations or a reduction in violence.

Even if U.S. troops are supposed to have their mission change to mainly a support role for Iraqi troops, that doesn't sound like any significant change from the mission now since few Iraqi troops units are not very functional on their own without U.S. support for larger patrol missions. And most U.S. troop deaths still are from booby traps such as roadside bombs, so there is little reason to expect U.S. deaths to fall very much. And just like the failed Vietnamization of the South Vietnamese to fight their civil war, the insurgent elements will likely only strenthen their attacks creating a withering of Iraqi military and police forces if a strong U.S. military backing is not with the Iraqi forces. This still forces the U.S. to remain as the main force in Iraq to prevent violence from growing out of hand and the wobbly government of Iraq from a collapse.

Militia groups such as the Badr and Wolf Brigades are still very strong forces in Iraq. The Badr Brigade has members in the military, police force and in the government. At least six provincial governors are Badr Brigade militia members. And militia members hold seats in the new national government in Iraq. Milita elements are also heavily responsible for the abductions and torture murders of Iraqi civilians and the leaving of bodies in the streets of cities like Baghdad.

Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and President George Bush could all use some major political cover right now. All three face heavy at home questions about their ability to manage the Iraq mess. It's more easy than anything to keep raising expectations that all will soon be well in Iraq, although the ground situation is not substantially better and history is against any quick situational change in Iraq. Certainly it would be great to see Iraq suddenly become stable and able to manage it's own security and all the sectarian violence of nearly 100 years simply go away. And it would be great to see that the American mission in Iraq finally was a success. But other than very wishful thinking, there is absolutely no good reason to expect that this will soon happen. Iraq is simply a land of heartbreaks and many tears and will remain that for the foreseeable future.

The sagging poll numbers for both George Bush and Tony Blair can really use some high expectations to prevent a further slide. Republican candidates can use really use good news to bouy their November hopes as well. But the reality is that little will improve in Iraq in thenext 18 months. Other than some short term political cover, there is very little to expect from the raising of false hopes about the long road towards some stability in Iraq and an end to all the deaths and killing.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

TV Show Deathlist 2006

Now that the dust is settling on 2005-2006 TV season, the networks have released lists of the programs which are officially ending, cancelled or will not be returning for Fall 2006. Here were the good and the bad from each network:


The Good: SURFACE(A very good SciFi show that failed to garner a very big audience in the 8pm Monday time slot that DEAL OR NO DEAL now draws huge ratings in), E-Ring(A respectably decent Pentagon based drama that improved with every episode, but was ratings challenged), CONVICTION(A very good drama, but with a huge problem with weak ratings, and characters that seemed to be sometimes ethically challenged that hurt audience empathy), THE WEST WING(Better than in some previous seasons, and ended on a real high note. The low ratings for Bush and Congress made a White House drama not very appealing right now and helped give this great TV drama the "kiss of death"), WILL & GRACE( A very good TV Comedy that ened on a high note as well).

The So So: JOEY(I personally liked this FRIENDS spin-off, but most of the FRIENDS audience long since left this show that did lack most of the magic and appeal of the far susperior FRIENDS), MOST OUTRAGEOUS MOMENTS(No masterpiece by any means, but an acceptably decent TV clip show), THREE WISHES(I never liked this sugary sentimental show very much, but some women viewers probably miss this harmless AMY Grant hosted inspirational story program that never matched some ABC programs in a similar vein), FEAR FACTOR(A good amateur stunt game show, but ruined by gross insect eating and other nonsense that made the entire program unwatchable by some), HEIST(THis action drama sure seemed like it should have beeen much better. After just a few minutes you decided whether you could stand to watch it or not).

The Bad: MARTHA STEWART: THE APPRENTICE(This program had far less appeal than even the Donald Trump show, and the feud with Trump was a final deathblow to this lame spin-off), THE BOOK OF DANIEL(One of the worst programs of last year. Thankfully gone for good), CELEBRITY COOKING SHOWDOWN(An incomprehensible mess that was supposed to be a major one week event, but pulled from the schedule after only night three, with the last two episodes dumped on "trashcan " Saturday night), FOUR KINGS(Not much of a comedy at all, much less 8:30 Thurday night quality), INCONCEIVABLE(A strong contender for last year's very worst program. 0 audience appeal to men, and even most women viewers quickly left it as well), TEACHERS(A weak comedy with even less appeal than SCRUBS).


The Good: THRESHOLD(A perfectly decent SciFi program that just kept getting better, but like SURFACE and INVASION, SCiFI just didn't fare very well with ratings on the major networks this year. On the SciFi Channel probably would have been a major hit), OUT OF PRACTICE( A very good comedy that seemed to have the same comedy writing appeal of FRAZIER, but quickly died of poor ratings after being spun off from it's successful 9:30 time slot to ratings death on Wednesday), STILL STANDING(A very decent comedy that was a little like MARRIED WITH CHILDREN light. A real shame it will not be back), YES DEAR(Another very good comedy that I already deeply miss. but likely to live on in syndicated reruns for a few years).

The So So: LOVE MONKEY(Hardly a great program by any means, but it did find a little life airing on VH1 which seemed far better suited to this lightweight music dramamedy), COURTING ALEX(An acceptable Jenna Elfman comeback project that also did fine in the 9:30 Monday time slot, but died from a rating death on Wednesday).


The Good: COMMANDER IN CHIEF(A very good White House drama that circled the drain only because of the public distain for the current real White House. It's hard to romantic about Washington when most people hate the mess bach there), ALIAS(A very good Jennifer Garner spy drama that is likely to be the high point of her career, but suffered through five years of soft ratings, and finally her desire for motherhood. Whether Jennifer Garner will ever find another major vehicle to reignite her career in the future is a very good question. But some films like DAREDEVIL and ELECTRA didn't help much. Even the cult following surrounding Garner has begun to tire of her bad recent films), HOPE AND FAITH(A very watchable and funny comedy that despite some really stupid writing did provide some real laughs), INVASION(Another decent network SciFi drama that suffered from weak ratings like SURFACE and Threshold did, probably helping to doom major network SciFi for some time), RODNEY(A perfect decent comedy that I miss from the scedule), LESS THAN PERFECT(A decent comedy that lost momentum after coming back from a protracted leave of absense),

The So So: CRUMBS, EMILY"S REASONS WHY NOT, THE EVIDENCE, FREDDIE, MIRACLE WORKERS, IN JUSTICE, JAKE IN PROGRESS & SONS & DAUGHTERS(None of these programs were great, and none were completely horrible either. All failed to garner much of an audience and died from a soft ratings death).

The Bad: NIGHT STALKER(A crummy remake of the once great NBC program. Wholly disppointing in every regard), HOT PROPERTIES(An incredibly lame comedy that never should have even made the schedule to begin with).


The Good: MALCOM IN THE MIDDLE(A very good TV Comedy that just seemed to lose it's appeal as the audience aged), ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT(A critically acclaimed comedy project that suffered through weak ratings despite awards and high praise. Since TV is driven by advertising revenues, FOX just had to pull the plug on this great show sometime despite the critics and the awards), THAT 70'S SHOW(A very good comedy that really hit the dirt this year after two major characters left), THE BERNIE MAC SHOW(A very good comedy with real edge and sharp writing style).

The So So: REUNION(Nothing special about this drama with a big mystery lurking in the background. Now we'll never know), KILLER INSTINCT(Not entirely a bad show. With a little work could have been really good), SKATING WITH CELEBRITIES(Not great at all, but had some appeal especially with women).

The Bad: HEAD CASES(Lasted two episodes. A real statement for this stinker), STACKED(Other than Pamela Anderson, I personally found nothing good about this lame comedy myself. Why it lasted as long as it did is a very good question), FREE RIDE & KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL(I didn't care for these, and neither did the ratings public either).


The Good: None

The So So: LOVE, INC.(This was sure no comedy masterpiece, but I really will miss it. The jokes were passiby funny enough. One of the characters even reminded me of a brunette "Jenny McCarthy" with a similar zany personality), CUTS, EVE, ONE ON ONE, HALF & HALF(These were no comedy masterpieces either, but suffered from the low ratings on urban comedies that seemed to have little appeal outside of Black audiences. With the merger with WB these comedies were sure to suffer the ax), SOUTH BEACH(Not a terrible drama, but simply gathered no audience).

The Bad: GET THIS PARTY STARTED & SEX, LIES AND SECRETS(Two quickly failed and forgotten programming mistakes).


The Good:BLUE COLLAR TV(A very good comedy that just seemed to lose ratings strength).

The So So: CHARMED(Some eye candy of some young babes for guys to look at, in a so so witchcraft and supernatural package), WHAT I LIKE ABOUT YOU(Not great comedy, but acceptable), PEPPER DENNIS(A quirky little show that never did manage decent ratings in it's short life), EVERWOOD(Not a favorite of mine, but had it's fans).

The Bad: BEDFORD DIARIES(Bad, bad, bad TV), LIVING WITH FRAN(A very lame and weak comeback vehicle), JUST LEGAL(Quickly failed, quickly forgotten), TWINS, SURVIVAL OF THE RICHEST & MODERN MEN(Not good TV at all).

Coming soon what good shows debuted this year and why.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Attorney General Gonzales Voices More AntiFirst Amendment Nonsense

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales almost on a daily basis continues to make a pretty good case for himself why he is wholly unfit to serve as U.S. Attorney General. Beginning with questions coming into office about support for torture of foreign detainees, continuing through almost daily questions about screwball or misplaced priorites or on the job incompetence, Gonzales manages to value priorities that nearly no one else does, or are politically based, or ignore genuine public concern priorities. Gonzales is yet another example of Bush cronyism gone horriby wrong. Being a personal friend of Bush is no good reason to assume that someone is qualified enough to head a major agency such as the U.S. Justice Department.

Gonzales is well known for a dire view of the First Amendment and Bill Of Rights. Some might even say he's never seen anything in the Bill Of Rights that he even likes. Now Gonzales has voiced a chilling new opinion that journalists could be prosecuted for revealing information that the government considers to be "classified". He claims that somewhere in the mountains and mountains of law books is some language that allows journalists to be jailed for printing information that could "endanger" the "national security".

While there are clear laws that public officials should not "out" CIA agents in a vendeta to get even for voicing political opinions different than that of the administration, which is the crux of the CIA leak case that currently embroils "Scooter" Libby and even touches Karl Rove, it is far more questionable to hold journalists responsible for commenting on or presenting news to inform or to create a national debate on vital issues.

During the 1970's a book, THE CIA & THE CULT OF INTELLIGENCE by a former CIA official was subject to prior restraint and court ordered censorship where long passages and sometimes relatively harmless seeming words were deleted when published. Yet it was very clear that many of the passages related to well known U.S. CIA efforts to undermine the leftist government of Salvadore Allende in Chile. U.S. journalists had long written about such CIA activity.

While the author of THE CIA & THE CULT OF INTELLIGENCE and public officials are held to one standard, because clearly written laws deal with their responsibility with the information that they professionally handle, journalists have never been held to the same standards for opinions on public policy matters. Gonzales wishes to make journalists responsible for an absurd standard of govenment secrecy in which many documents from even WWII are still considered to be classified. In fact the government has even recently moved to make many previously declassified documents as reclassified. Many of these documents seem dated, and this seems like a highly questionable standard for dated materials of great historical interest. But making journalists liable for revealing "classifed" information raises their standard of responsibility to an absurd level as journalists cannot be sure what material or information is considered to be as classified or not.

Gonzales is a real master at bluring the line on Constitutional issues. His legal skills seem better honed at looking for ways to limit and cut down civil liberties than anything else. Only because of the Iraq War and the incompetence of Donald Rumsfeld has Gonzales avoided more criticism than he richly deserves.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Senate Republican Leadership Arranges Sneaky Closed Door Session To Approve Gay Marriage Ban Amendment

In the days of Abraham Lincoln, the new and early Republican Party stood for the equality of all men. Abraham Lincoln once clenched his hands so tightly watching a Black slave family torn apart and auctioned to different White slaveowners, that Lincoln's hands turned bloody. The sense of the equality of all men was very intense in the heart of Lincoln. But it's not your grandfather's Republican Party any longer.

Right wing Republicans use the illegal immigration issue to promote a racist message of hate that goes far beyond normal concerns for border security or an orderly immigration of new residents to the U.S. It is no coincidence that this inciting of hate against foreign born persons has recently driven up hate crimes by 33% according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

And with an antiGay marriage ban another "red meat" issue that bigots are usng to rally sagging Republican Party poll numbers to prevent more slippage among the right wing bigot wing within the Republican Party, today the Senate Republican leadership arranged a very sneaky closed door session to approve an antiGay marriage amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Normally a closed session should only be held for sensitive national security related issues, not to arrange a cowardly attack on millions of fellow Americans who simply want the right to determine their own households, without government involved in their bedroom and private lives. The Senate Republican leadership didn't want cameras from the national and world news media covering embarrassing statements that reflect real ignorance and prejudice. Like rats lurking around in the dark, pulling low brow nonsense simply to pander to the far right of the party only months before a critical national election is taking the political low road of the very worst variety.

The Senate is a millionaire's club. These wealthy men and women have the duty to promote the best in men, including elevating political opinions that are only prejudice to a more enlightened view. But for these well educated men and women to take the low road and attack a minority group to bolster themselves is a real letdown and betrayal of the position of authority these persons hold.

Changing the subject from the failing wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and War On Terror, and from sky high gas prices creating hardship for millions of Americans to picking on the least powerful in society such as poor immigrants who only come here to earn enough to feed their family or to attacking the right of millions of Gay Americans to self-determine their own household is indeed very regrettable.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Oregon Primary Painted Some Important Political Lessons

Now that the dust has settled on yesterday's Oregon Primary, a few important lessons can be gleaned from the results.

Kevin Mannix, the former George McGovern Democrat turned right wing Republican politician who runs for office or proposes another ballot measure every single election year like near clockwork may have finally wore out his welcome with the voters. A fresher candidate, like Ron Saxton who painted a form of vision for the future bested Mannix's tired old campaign of sleazy attacks. Even Mannix's campaign which was claimed to be $350,000 in debt by Saxton, seemed to be almost single handedly funded by $250,000 from wealthy far right Nevada sexual excitement electronics measurement equipment guru, Loren Parks. A very goofy source of campaign cash to say the least, and certainly a turnoff to many voters. It makes for a very strange alliance with the social conservative crowd of which Mannix who attempts to make himself the political darling of the prolife crowd to have to tolerate. Mannix sure knows how to make himself very hard to swallow. Maybe he's finally even worn out his welcome among most Republicans after last night's latest lost. But running and losing every year except on some anticrime ballot measures seems to be par for Mannix. Part of his achievements as a private attorney was to defend public officials charged with corruption and to weaken ethic's laws while in the sate legislature. With the "culture of corruption" under voter scurtiny this year, any connection with the sleazy seemed to hurt Mannix and turn off voters. It appears that Republican voters were tired of Mannix and all the old baggage and wanted to pick someone electable for a change.

By comparison, Ron Saxton also is the type of moderate Republican who tends to win statewide races in Oregon. He may seem a little, "chipmonklike" in his first impression, but he also seems like a reasonable, decent, trustworthy and competent man. Although Saxton's "no new taxes" campaign issue may ring a bell with voters, it is nonetheless seems wholly unrealistic for an actual ruling Governor. The first George Bush walked into this trap once before. It sounds good to tell the public what they want to hear, but a "no new taxes" pledge will quickly give way to serious issues of school budget ptoblems or other funding concerns. But it presses the Democratic Governor, Ted Kulongoski who emerged from the primary badly bruised by two challengers to retool his low key style and present an image to the voters between now and November of a Governor who has made the best hard choices during the economic downturn years following 9/11 and resulting high unemployment years. Unless Governor Kulongoski can recast his image of himself as an effective leader, even though he actually has been, he could likely be one of the only Democratic Governors nationwide to fall short in November. Saxton is electable, and Kulongoski once was defeated in a 60% landslide by a very mediocre Republican Governor, Victor Atiyeh. Kulongoski is famous for running very crummy campaigns. His last minute attack ads to salvage his Governorship wasn't that much of a campaign at all, but his challenger Jim Hill, who did paint a far better impression of a vision for the future of Oregon did manage to run an even worse ad with a silly singing guy in the background. Hill was a perfectly good candidate well suited to be Governor, but the choice of the "singing guy" ad was not the best possible choice. Kulongoski will likely be haunted by the ghost of a comment about a sales tax he made. This could be a kiss of political death issue, unless this can be quickly washed away with a serious campaign that highlights other issues. Voters won't tolerate a sales tax or a politicaian who proposes one, so why even try.

In local elections, a City Councilman Eric Sten, who is still smarting from an impression of some voters as in over his head thanks to a past water bureau problem, faced competition from another candidate who failed to impress as well, State legislator, Ginny Burdick. Burdick would have had a real chance if only she would cast a far better impression, but a very silly crosswalk law that she got through the legislature which became so cumbersome and ignored by so many motorists including the police that it had to be partially repealed cast her as lacking good judgement to many voters as well. Despite a strong voter record with labor issues, Burdick simply impressed too many voters as being as poor of a choice as Sten was. Choosing the worst of the two seemed too difficult for many voters, so many decided that they would stick with the fool they already had, rather than take a chance on a new one. Sten very narrowly garnered 51% to avoid a November runoff, and does seem to learn from his mistakes. If he seems terrible today, then he seems to turn a little less terrible as time goes on.

A perfectly good new candidate, Amanda Fritz, seemed like she would have been an excellent addition to the Portland City Council, but despite a strong prolabor stance and being respected for a strong progressive tradition, fell short for some obvious reasons. For one thing, she ran against Dan Saltzman, a very competent City Council member who few voters felt needed replacement. Why run against Saltzman when she could have forced Sten into a run-off is a really good question. But for running such a low budget and grassroots campaign, Fritz should be respected. Getting a decent amount of votes against a perfectly good city councilman who there is no good reason to replace does say really say something really positive about the strengths of Amanda Fritz as a new face in Portland political circles. Hopefully she will learn from some of the problems that doomed this year's race and try again in the future.

Another important lesson from Tuesday's voting was obvious. Diane Linn who headed the County Commission was a capable leader, but public image problems really started to steamroll downhill for her after a well intentioned, but clumsily executed, Gay civil union proposal was brought in by a backdoor process to avoid it being scuttled. A series of other public impressions continued to build that really hit a watershed level when one former employee made some charges that Linn asked her falsify some documents. Linn claimed that she didn't. But the charges were not resolved before the primary yesterday, and Ted Wheeler, whom many fear may be a Republican in disguise, was able to score a 70% landslide. Wheeler had merely to impress many voters that he was up to the job in order to win. His suspected "closet Republicanism" did not jell into an issue that could have saved Linn because her political negatives simply became just too high.

Yesterday was like a textbook on what can go right or go wrong for a campaign, and how to win or how to lose an election.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Extremely Low Turnout In Oregon's Mail-In Primary A Disgrace

So far the very poor rate of ballot returns in Oregon's mail-in primary is running at only a 25-33% rate. This is a very poor rate of ballot returns for an election that could not have been made much easier by mail-in ballots that can be filled out at home at one's own leisure. With all of this time to study the candidates and positions, there is plenty of time to research facts and cast an informed vote based on one's own preferences.

Other than researching the candidates, and making the effort to use a #2 pencil or pen to darken the ovals next to the candidates, and placing a stamp on the ballot, little else is required to vote in Oregon. The process has been made very simple. There are no polling booths, waiting in line, or having to arrange some time before or after work.

Unlike voters in Iraq, there are no suicide bombers in Oregon. Unlike Iraq, there is no chance of being kidnapped and become a victim of sectarian violence. Unlike Iraq, there is little chance that women will become a sexual crime victim on the way to cast a vote. Voting in Oregon could not be much safer or much easier, yet most voters apparently aren't bothering to do it.

Unlike many in Iraq, most Oregonians are capable of reading and writing. Unlike many in Iraq, most in Oregon have electricity to be able to read their ballot. Yet the percentage of voters in Iraq is far higher than in Oregon.

You would think that high gas prices, school funding proposals, or other issues would moltivate voters to vote. Even very low income voters have important issues at stake such as food stamps, public health care, or other social welfare benefit cutbacks that heavily depend on who the next Oregon Governor and legislature is. But few even bother to vote.

It is certainly nothing more than a disgrace that many in Oregon cannot find the time to cast a ballot to protect the interests that they hold dear. Almost everyone complains of things such as high gas prices, war, or other issues, yet few bother to cast a ballot. In the year 2000, if only a little more than 500 persons voted for Al Gore, and he won Florida's electoral votes, gas would likely still be $1.59 a gallon, and the U.S. would not be involved in the Iraq War. But it was too much effort for some to vote, so we have what we've got right now.

A friend of mine who lives a very miserable life on disability who is handicapped complained to me about possible cutbacks of his disability benefits. I asked him, "Well you voted for those who tend to support your benefits didn't you?"

"Well, no".

I told him, "Well, there you go".

When people couldn't bother to vote against Bush in 2000 and 2004, it was a vote to double their gas prices and kill many sons and some daughters in Iraq. Voting does matter.

Monday, May 15, 2006

The Kent State Massacre: 36 Years Later

On May 3, 1970, after several days of protests by college students in response to the expansion of the Vietnam War into the Indochina War, Republican Gov. James Rhodes of Ohio called in the National Guard. The angry protests grew increasing agitated when in the city of Kent, Ohio, a tense situation outside a bar seemed to ignite a spiral of events that led to a massacre of college students by National Guard members.

It was hoped that the National Guard could keep order. Previously National Guard troops were used to keep order in the race riots that plagued the 1960's.

On May 1, 1970 some intoxicated motorcyclists had a confrontation outside a bar where some bottles were thrown at police and through a bank window setting off an alarm. Some students and others not drinking in the bar that evening also became involved in that night's ruckus. The next day on May 2, the Kent State University ROTC building was set on fire by an arsonist, and when a fire truck arrived, some angry students seized the fire hose and carried it into the stuent commons and slashed it. By 10pm that evening the National Guard set up a post on the Kent State campus and used tear gas and bayoneted a student as the anti war protests continued. Republican Governor, James Rhodes denounced the students as "unAmerican" and "revolutionaries" and the right wing governor referred to the students as worse than a "Communist element". Nearly 1,000 National Guard troops were on the Kent State campus by this time. Some students from the university came into town to assist cleanup from the May 1. 1970 incident, but the Mayor of Kent feared more violence and ordered a curfew until peace and order were restored in the city.

Om Monday May 4, 1970, after leaflets were distributed that cancelled a rally against the war that day, 2,000 students decided to hold a rally at the student commons anyway. While this antiwar rally was at first peaceful, National Guard units of companies A& C, 1/145 Infantry, Troop 6 and 2/107 Armored Calvary, Ohio ANG decided to disperse the student protest at the Kent State student commons and a angry response by some students took place including a rock thrown through a jeep window. When tear gas was thrown at the students and some students threw back the tear gas a tense situation took place in which 77 National Guard members found themselves backed up a hill despite fixed bayonets. 29 of the 77 National Guard members fired 67 shots at the crowd. Four students were killed and nine more wounded. Only two of the killed were involved in the protest. Two students were simply walking to class and were hit and killed. Bill Schroeder, a promising basketball player, and a ROTC member himself, was killed at a range 382 feet away from the National Guardsmen, and so was another student not involved in the protests, Sandra Lee Scheuer at a range of 390 feet. Many of the students were not even close to the National Guard units, yet hit by the flurry of bullets whether they were involved in the student comons protest or not.

At the mainly Black campus of Jackson State University on May 14, two more students were shot dead and more wounded in another highly questionable National Guard massacre of student protesters.

One nonstudent was convicted in the ROTC building arson. And two other nonstudents pleaded guilty to charges. Wrongful death lawsuits generally ended in dismissals against the National Guard members where only one small settlement was paid to one plaintiff. On conservative judge was even rumored to have said that the "final solution" needed to be used against college students.

36 years later, we have another right wing "conservative" Republican White House involved in another no-win war in a far away land. Tonight, the conservative Republican President will annouce the deployment of up to 10,000 National Guard troops once again, but to stem the flood of poor people who come over the border for a better life as economic refugees of a corrupt economy in Mexico where a few wealthy families own much of the nations's wealth and very little goes to millions more of citizens, and the after effects of NAFTA profiteering by big U.S. corporations who dump cheap wheat and corn on the Mexican agriculture markets drives down wages by as much as a third, and creating poverty.

In Iraq, just like in South Vietnam, an uncooperative government, filled with corruption continues to flourish while young Americans continue to lose their lives. Only because of an all volunteer army with no draft have America's college campuses not already exploded in angry protests such as at Kent State. But the all volunteer army is increasingly spread thin, where a legally blind Washington State soldier is put on roadside bomb removal duty, an autistic boy was recruited in Portland, Oregon for dangerous calvary scout duty, and increasing numbers of high school dropouts, drug users and mentally ill persons are being used to fill National Guard and Army quotas to replace the troops in Iraq who are being killed or sent home maimed from a roadside bomb taking their arms or legs or causing a serious head injury leaving them as mentally impaired and in a nursing home for the rest of their lives.

Thankfully, the new antiwar protests are peaceful. There is no justification for violence. But at the same time the more things change, the more they seem to stay the same. Another right wing conservative Republican government, another no-win war.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day

Today is the perfect day to do something nice for your mother. They were the one's who sacrificed for 9 nine long months to bring you into the world, and sacrificed for years more to watch you grow through schoolage thru college. They bandaged your knee when you fell off your bike. Or took you to the store and bought you that favorite toy when you were a kid. They sewed the torn knee in your pants with a patch or mended your teddy bear. They helped you with your homework when it needed it. They tried to be sure that you got the food needed.

Mother's are also the one's who sacrifice children for war. Or who raise up the next generation of teachers and religious leaders. They give birth to the construction worker who builds the homes. The factory worker that builds an economy. The policeman who keeps order and keeps society safe from crime.

Mothers provide the love and warmth in the home that children need to feel wanted. Your mother loves you. You love her. Do something very nice for her today. Happy Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Nonsense Way A Tobacco Company Gets Around Cigarette Advertising Restrictions

Nicotine is a drug addiction that not only harms the users, but innocent bystanders as well. Secondhand smoke kills 500,000 persons every 10 years according to a new study. Smoking causes an average of 31,000 house fires each year with a little under 900 fire deaths each year. During this summer, onre single smallish state, Oregon, had over 800 grass and forest fires caused by careless smokers throwing lit cigarette butts from their cars. Cigarette butts are one of the greatest sources of litter and environmental eyesore garbage.

Philip Morris admits in a statement that secondhand smoke is related to causing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome deaths in small babies. In children and many adults, secondhand smoke causes ear, sinus and lung infections. And can be deadly to persons who are allergic, have cystic fibrosis, asthma or other serious conditions. Thousands of expensive visits to hospital emergency rooms are required because of secondhand smoke on crowded public streets and in traffic.

Government has started to slowly turn the screws on this deadly industry, with such things as advertising restrictions.

But Natural American Spirit Tobacco has a found a way around all of this. Because they are selling just tobacco, and not completed cigarettes they have a loophole to market their product more openly than the cogarette companies can. So they add slick advertisimg into alternative media papers around the country. These papers should be concerned about the environment, but instead allow companies like this to advertise.

And there is nothing in the fact that this is pure tobacco or "natural" to make this tobacco much safer than other brands.

It is nonsense that a company continues to market a very harmful product and hides behind nonsense words like "natural", almost as though they are selling a health product or something.

The advertising restrictions on cigarettes are simply not tough enough when a harmful product like loose tobacco can still be marketed to build your own cigarettes. This is hardly any real step forward at all. Smoking is a very destructive habit both to the user and nonuser alike. And nothing can justify such a selfish addiction that drives some to smoke in public places and injure children as well as adults with health problems. It's not the choice of simply the smoker to smoke, butthey decide thatr everyone for a 1/2city block radius should als be exposed and share their smoker's cough and other health problems.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Tuesday's Oregon Governor Primary Will Test The Power Of Big Casino Money

Unlike any previous election in Oregon, this Tuesday's election will test the power of big casinos to influence the election outcome. With the latest spending report in, the Confederated Tribes Of Grand Ronde who run the Spirit Mountain Casino have spent $615,000, which is nearly more than all the candidates, Democratic and Republican combined. The members of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde are concerned that the Confederated Tribes Of Warm Springs will be building an off-reservation casino in the Gorge area closer to Portland. The Confederated Tribes Of Grand Ronde are hoping a big negative attack ad campaign to defeat Democratic Governor Ted Kulogoski and Republican Kevin Mannix will help two proSpirit Mountain casino candidates, Democrat Jim Hill and Republican Ron Saxton in this Tuesday's primary.

Democratic Governor Ted Kulongoski is fighting back with a late last minute ad blitz to fight back from the relatively close race he is locked in with Jim Hill according to some polls. However, the Kulongoski ads were very late to air after many ballots already were sent in. Gov. Kulogoski will have to rely on late deciders turning in his favor, although it is often late voters who swing to an opponent in races. But it is likely that Kulogoski may emerge narrowly from the Tuesday primary. But such a weak showing does not bode very well for the November General Election.

Kevin Mannix, a former Democrat who was a George McGovern delegate to 1972 Democratic Convention has slowly evolved into the darling of the far right. With his latest spending report, of a little over $300,000 spent, $250,000 alone comes from right wing Nevade businessman, Loren Parks. This year Mannix is hurt by the negative independent 527 ads paid for by the casino interests as well as voter fatigue that Mannix seems to run for an office nearly every year. Ron Saxton seems like a fresher candidate with a better vision compared to the tired Mannix campaign of trying his best to resurrect all his old pet issues. Mannix appeals to the tough on crime, prolife audience, even though Mannix has defended at least one Mayor charged with public coruption as a private attorney, and has attempted to weaken ethics laws while in the stayte legislature. And with a long track record inboth political parties, Mannix has a track record of voting to raise taxes on more than enough issues for Saxton to make an issue of this. Only the old Mannix antistalking law from his state legislature draws a more universal praise from conservatives and liberals alike. On other issues, Mannix draws a sharp division between conservatives and liberals, although he's been on both sides of most issues over time.

Saxton will face some interesting challenges in November, as the national election tide against Republicans could be very strong. But few Democrats have been reelected Governor in Oregon despite being a "blue" state, only two since 1959. Saxton could be seen as "moderate" enough to be the sort of Republican who wins a statewide vote. And a "no new taxes" platform is always inviting to some voters while running for office, but very impractical while elected. This sort of promise is always a "Devil's bargain", you trade the short term goal of being elected for a miserable and negative reaction from voters who feel betrayed later.

The conventional thinking is that in the end, Democratic Governor Ted Kulongoski narrowly survives this bruising election process to be re-elected Governor. But with low approval ratings only due to his low profile style of leadership, and few really negative policies. The Governor did make a real attempt to attend the funerals of as many servicepersons who were killed in the Iraq War as possible, and did about as well as possible during the "dog" economic days of the Oregon economic downturn of high unemployment and shortfalls of state funding of vital services like education, police and social services due to the Bush Federal tax cuts and the post 9/11 economy. For all the time, money and effort , Oregon voters probably will yet end up just where they started.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Army Puts Legally Blind Washington State Soldier On Roadside Bomb Removal Detail In Iraq

Yesterday, I reported on how military recruiters attempted to recruit an autistic 18 year old to help to fill their 7,000 military recruiting shortfall due to the Iraq War cutting into recruitment level goals. Now an even more outrageous story of a military manpower shortage due to the war was reported by KOIN News in Portland, Oregon, as a legally blind, Washington state, U.S. Army soldier was not only sent over to Iraq, but is now being placed on very hazardous roadside bomb removal detail by the military.

According to the family of this soldier, his 20/200 eyesight is so poor that he cannot tell the difference bestween a soldier or a tree, yet he is being assigned very hazardous duty to search for the very dangerous roadside bombs that can flip a U.S. tank over with the huge blast force. This not only puts the life of this soldier in extreme danger, but the lives of other soldiers as well.

It is deeply disturbing when soldiers with extreme physical disabilities are assigned very hazardous service duty because of a serious shortfall in military manpower. The U.S. was never prepared to fight two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that drag on for years with an all volunteer military. It is yet another sign that both Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld and the Bush Administration have no sense of judgement whatsoever on matters involving war planning or foreign policy. This week a letter from Iran could have been used to push Iran into some talks in a third country to eliminate their nuclear threat, instead the letter was ignored by the Bush Administration, and the U.S. and other countries were blocked in the U.N. by Russia and China in a forceful resolution against Iran. If diplomacy rather than shooting first is the first choice of the Bush Administration, then you'd never know it.

Whether it's war planning or foreign policy, the Bush Administration has proven themselves as perhaps the most inept administration in American history.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

You're Autistic And In The Army Now

The good news is that the mentally challenged are finding new employment opportunities. The bad news is that these new jobs are because of the Iraq War.

Insurgent forces have used mentally retarded persons to carry out suicide bombings. Their gullible nature makes them prone to be exploited for such abuse. The Zacarius Moussaoui trial involved a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic who was a possiby a member of Al Qaeda, although any connection to 9/11 is still highly questionable because of the highly delusional nature of such a severely mentally ill person, who has now recanted his courtroom testimony of only days ago.

But the U.S. Army which is facing a recruiting shortfall of about 7,000 new soldiers due to disenchantment with the Iraq War is now getting into the act of recruiting mentally challenged and "sub-par" soldiers to it's ranks. Aggressive recruiting practices and a new practice of accepting soldiers from the 16th to 30th percentile on the Army competence exam is being used to garner new recruits. More young recruits from the ranks of high school dropouts along with some recruiters instructing prospective recruits how to pass the military drug testing is becoming more common as well.

The aggressive recruiting of the mentally challenged really hit the fan in Portland, Oregon this week when outside of a strip mall, a U.S. Army recruiter aggressively sought to have a 18 year old autistic young man sign up for one of the Iraq War's most dangerous jobs, that of calvary scout in the U.S. Army. This young man was so mentally challenged that only last year was he aware that that there was a war in Iraq. The Army mental competency exam standards are now so low that this young man who ranks very low in verbal IQ measurement exams, was able to pass the military competency exam with a lowly score of 43 points out of a possible 99 points. Only those with scores under 31 points are currently rejected for military service.

Only after a public outrage by the parents of the autistic young man, some in the local MSM media and 3rd Congressional District Rep. Earl Blumenauer, did the military decide that this mentally challenged young man was not fit for military service, and released him from any military requirements.

It is unfortunately a sign of desperation for military forces when the mentally handicapped or other unfit persons are recruited into duty. History books tell of the Turkish Ottoman forces as recruiting mentally unfit persons into their Janissaries military forces. These persons were often paid only in looting or rape privileges. Other recent empires whose military forces were hard pressed for soldiers such as the WWII Soviet Union under Josef Stalin used "shark armies" of mentally ill, mentally retarded and criminals to run as the first forces into the German Army occupation troops at the Seige Of Stalingrad with horrific near total troop losses. Terrible wars in the African continent have recruited small children into duty as child soldiers. Because these children lack the mental judgement of adults, they are respossible for terrible acts of violence such as machete attacks on villagers. In the last days of Berlin, Hitler expected that a military force of teenage boys and old men could defend the city from the Russians with antitank grenade launchers.

War creates terrible acts of desperation when military forces are hard pressed for soldiers. The U.S. Army has now entered this desperation phase when an autistic young man is recruited, more lower IQ recruits are sought, more high school dropouts or drug users are sought. The need for military manpower has now entered a very sad phase that is raising serious moral alarms.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Right To Live Depends On Whether You Can Afford Medical Treatment

Unlike most other Western societies, whether a person lives or dies depends on their ability to afford medical treatment in the U.S. Most other Western societies have some form of socialized medicine or other similar arrangement to provide health care to their populations. And while the current for profit system of health care in the U.S. inspires new innovation, it nonetheless cretes some useless new drugs that really meet little need with dangerous side effects as well. A popular sleeping aid drug involved in some instances of "sleep driving", sleepwalking and user blackouts has received some new bad publicity in the Rep. Kennedy incident. But in other cases the ability to pay determines whether a person lives or dies.

In 2001 the number of Americans who were employed that were sometimes without health care was at 27%. Last year that number increased to over 40%. And some health care insurance programs refuse to pay for many services. Some services such as Kaiser work with a recommendation system meant to reduce costs where a person cannot directly go to a specialist within the system themselves, although often if a real need exists, the needed specialist services will be supplied. Many other health care insurance programs cut costs in various ways. But those on public health care programs may find many vital services such as some specialists or even dental services not provided.

In Portland, a recent case of a 7 year old girl, Victoria Roberts, who suffers from a rare blood disorder, aplastic anemia, was reported. Unless this girl receives a $325,000 bone marrow transplant she will die. Some like Portland Trailblazers center, Theo Ratliff recently met with the girl and gave her some gifts and a check for $30,000 to help with the surgery costs. Much more money needs yet to be raised. But in other cases where a person's story is not very well known due to a lack of news coverage, then they simply die.

A better system of medical care cost coverage needs to be implimented. A system of whether a person lives or dies based on their ability to pay is unfair and dehumanizing.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

British Problems In Basra Could Collapse U.S.-British Efforts In Iraq

A rising tide of frictions between the British soldiers in Iraq who are charged with policing the Basra region are threatening to undo the government of Labour Party Prime Minister, Tony Blair, end the British involvement in Iraq, and threaten any support from the larger Shiite community for the U.S. -British role in Iraq, making the war a complete failure.

The Southern town of Basra is the second largest city in Iraq, with a population of 1.6 million. And while British casualties have been low in the war, it was only because this city with a large Shiite population was previously glad to see the government of Saddam Hussein go. But since that time, labor unrest against the privatizing of the ports in Basra of which Iraq's oil flows have created frictions with the British. And in February a video was posted on the World Wide Web of British troops brutally beating some Basra teenagers. The word of this quickly spread and a deeping sense of anger against the British "occupation" has been brewing ever since.

This weekend tensions hit a new high when it was claimed by some residents that a British military helicopter with four or five troops was shot down over a Basra neighborhood and a riot with petrol bombs by locals took place when British trrops responded to the crash site at an abandoned house. Because of rising sectarian tensions, as many as 100,000 Sunnis and Shiites have abandoned their homes and are now living in tent cities.

The British efforts to keep the flow of oil through this port at Basra are critical to any rebuilding of the Iraqi economy, although oil exports are down by 900,000 barrels a day due to insurgent unrest in Iraq. This is a main reason that most reconstruction projects such as medical centers, electricity, clean water services are so hampered. In Baghdad there is now only 3 hours a day of electrical service where gasoilne powered generators are seen on every sidewalk powering the lights or stoves of Iraqi stores and restaurants.

It was suspected that Shiite militia elements possiby connected with the al-Sadr militia were responsible for firing weapons that took some local resident lives during the riot at the helicopter crash site this weekend. However, the possibility that British trrops attempted to defend themselves by firing into the crowd is likely to become part of an official investigation into the incident.

The American effort in Iraq may soon collapse completely if the the British troops may be forced out due to a homeland debate in Britain. Recent local elections in which Tony Blair's Labour Party did very poorly forced out some senior members of the government, including Jack Straw, who roughly holds the same position as Condoleezza Rice holds here. A troop withdrawal by thousands of British troops could put pressure on other troops such as from Japan and other nations to leave, and would spread American forces even thinner, and risk a sharp increase in violence against Americans as an antioccupation mood grows in Basra and spreads to Baghdad.

Once the discontent with the occupation spreads to the Shiite community in Baghdad, the U.S. role in Iraq is over. And the mission has failed. There still is a reluctant support for the U.S. role in Iraq in Baghdad, only because many feel that the sectarian violence would be really out of control. Almost like the ethnic cleasing problem in Bosnia, the situation in Iraq would likely grow way out of control and result in a real state of anarchy and militia violence gone wild. But with a rising anger level growing out of the British effort in the Basra region, the Shiiie majority in Baghdad may be willing to pressure the government for all foreign troops to quickly leave, opening up a bloodbath and a likely Shiite control of the official government, or even worse, Shiite militia control of the government and the end of elections in Iraq and a close relationship with Iran.

As bad as the American problems seem for securing Iraq, the problems that the British are having are threatening to bring down the entire U.S. -British effort and make the Iraq policy a complete failure within weeks to months. Most Americans would like the U.S. out of Iraq, but this form of exit would be the most problematic form of a exit, and only leave yet another seriously dysfunctional government in Iraq. Sen. Joseph Biden, ranking Senate Democrat on foreign policy matters has already described Iraq as like "Lebanon on steroids". With the resulting anarchy and violence that may soon result with the possible complete collapse of the U.S.-British effort, this opinion may be just about right.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Camelot Tarnished Again

The new problems with the young Congressman who is the son of Edward Kennedy are a new sign of the tarnished armor of Camelot. While this family has been tarred with scandals involving drinking, sex, mental illness, drugs, even rape and murder, it is also a sign that America is still ruled by some political family dynasties similar to England.

The U.S. never really totally broke with the monarchy traditions of England during the war of independence. Instead of having a king or queen, the U.S. has political family dynasties. And even the National Anthem of the U.S. is merely the British anthem, "God Save The Queen", sung with American words and lyrics.

But the problems that plague Camelot are no different than other political families. The Bush political dynasty has been tarnished by the political failure of both father and son. And the son survived a turbulent young adulthood of alcohol and drugs, and questions about his military service, only to be narrowly made president in a questionable election, but only to have his presidency ruined by starting a new Vietnam War in Iraq.

The Clinton dynasty is limited by less children in the family for a large future rule, but both the father and mother are powerful leaders with a real following, but also real political liabilities. The sex scandal of Bill Clinton casts a long shadow over the future of his wife, Hillary to rule after 2008. The Clintons have nearly as many that adore them as don't.

As much as Americans want to believe that their government is their own design, as though they themselves developed the concept of democracy, as though it's early history in Greek history did not really exist, or that England's impression of monarchy did not impact rule in America, nonetheless the U.S. is ruled by a national ruling class. C. Wright Mills and Sociologist, G. William Donhoff, both asserted something similar in the premise of the classic, THE POWER ELITE, and the later, WHO RULES AMERICA?

But with so much tragedy and well as scandal in the national ruling class families, it seems as though there is a "pox" on all their houses. Even Shakespeare would have been hard pressed to write a much better tragedy as the one that has fallen on the house of Kennedy for example. It seems as if the fictional Capulet and Montague families of Verona seem to have inspired the real lives of the Washington familes of Kennedy, Clinton and Bush, with so much advantage coupled with so much heartache, failure or tragedy.

In a Mel Brooks comedy, the line that "It's good to be the king" is used. But the real life truimphs as well as tragedy in the houses of Kennedy, Clinton and Bush prove that this is not always the case.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Oregon Governor Race Turns Strange And Stranger

Only days before the Oregon primary on May 16, the two major Republican candidates are increasingly involved in a silly ad war. A particularly desperate independent ad run by a 527 committee that most benefits candidate Ron Saxton that is paid for by the Confederated Tribes Of Grand Ronde as an organization known as Oregonians Against Off-Reservation Casinos which claims that Kevin Mannix supports putting 2,000 slot machines closer to Portland. Yet the attack ads run by the 527 organization never mention that the Confederated Tribes Of Grande Ronde run the Spirit Mountain Casino and are merely afraid that competition from the Confederated Tribes Of Warm Springs that would put a casino closer to Portland would cut the millions in gambling revenues they reap. The Confederated Tribes Of Grand Ronde are also fighting a proposed $515 million dollar Washington state casino that is expected to gross around $200 million dollars a year.

The 527 attack ad also claims that Kevin Mannix supports a sales tax as well as other tax increases, but fails to mention that these are old positions when Mannix was a Democrat prior to the year 2000.

Mannix seems to be responding with both official and independent ads, some paid for by archconservative sexual excitement electronic measurement equipment guru, Loren Parks. According to a local newspaper, (Willamette Week feature, "Dirty Old (Money)Man" 5/15/2002) Parks has been sued for attempting to sexually pressure a female co-worker before, and that is hardly the family values image that many of the right wing supporters of Kevin Mannix would normally support.

One Mannix ad looks like it was designed by schoolchildren. It features an almost SOUTH PARK type appearance cartoonish Ron Saxton and attempts to tie him to Steve Goldschmidt, bother of disgraced former Governor of Oregon, Neil Goldschmidt. The former Governor was involved in a sex scandal with a young teenage child while Mayor of Portland, and the Mannix campaign figures that tarring Saxton with all of this while avoiding the question of Loren Parks lurking in the background.

And the Mannix ad attacks Saxton for a contribution to the Clinton campaign a few years back. But many businesses hedge their bets by contributing to both major candidates so they can lobby with more clout later if they need to. The Mannix campaign never mentions that he was a former George McGovern delegate to the 1972 Democratic Convention and supported the antiwar candidate for President during the Nixon years. Mannix was a Democrat for most of his legislative career and only switched parties after repeated failures for one statewide office after another. As a Republican he has also failed again and again.

Officially the Saxton campaign has reported about $202,000 dollars to spend. But also heavily benefits from more than $408,000 that the independent run ads from the Grand Ronde Tribes. Mannix has officially about $76,000 to spend. But as much as $186,000 in independent 527 money mainly from Loren Parks may be available to spend. Both Republican challengers run well behind either Governor Ted Kulongoski or Jim Hill according to some polls. However it is not a sure thing that Governor Kulongoski will win the primary as Jim Hill, who could become Oregon's first Black Governor, has heavily benefitted from Grand Ronde attack ads as well. Oregon has had few two term Democratic Governors no matter how well they have tried to do their best. A Jim Hill upset of Kulongoski is a real possibility. But otherwise a Kulongoski and Saxton race is more likely. Mannix is simply too played out for many and has lost too many times, and his latest desperate ads give Republican voters little to vote for. And while Saxton seems to be running more to the right for the primary, it is generally moderates like Mark Hatfield or Bob Packwood that won statewide offices before. If Saxton can recapture that his chances will improve in the November matchup with Kulongoski or Hill.

This Oregon governor's race in 2006 has been particularly strange so far this year with more weird events likely to unfold before the year is over.

Military Intelligence PSYOP Operations In Iraq Cost $24 Million A Year

When they write the history books about how the war in Iraq was lost, they'll need to include a chapter on the role of military intelligence PSYOP operations. These cost $24 million a year and strangely seem to find a willing partner in the MSM to carry their message to the domestic U.S. audience.

Interestingly Army General George W. Casey describes the U.S. home audience as one of the major targets of these PSYOP operations. Part of the military intelligence effort is the selling of the war to the American public.

A good example is a new "outtakes" tape of Iraqi Al Qaeda leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi who didn't seem to know how to operate his semiautomatic weapon in his latest propaganda video as well was wearing some Chinese made, American brand tennis shoes. The role of the military intelligence releasing this video to news outlets has little to do with the war other than to attempt to reinforce some sort of military image that the Iraq War had a great deal to do with the War On Terrorism.

The problems is that the Al Qaeda organization in Iraq probably involves no more than 1,000 fighters, only about 500 of whom are probably foreign fighters. They are not even the major portion of the insurgent forces causing violence in Iraq. There are perhaps as many as 15,000 more Sunni fighters, mainly Baathists and thousands more Shia militia groups such as the Badr and Wolf Brigades who are even members of the new Iraqi government and hold provincial governorships as well. Even some radical clerics such as Sadr have their own militia as well. These militia groups are likely responsible for the bulk of violence against Sunni citizens, and the Sunni fighters are most likely for the bulk of the violence against Shiites. This has led to 100,000 citizens living in refugee camps within the last few weeks.

The military intelligence PSYOP operations have managed to create some tribal Sunni fighter violence against Al Qaeda, most notably in the Anbar province, thanks to extensive leaflet and radio propaganda coming from military intelligence sources. But it seems like a major role of military intelligence is to largely play down the overwelming source of local and homegrown violence in Iraq, and instead play up the saging support for the war by using whatever Al Qaeda link to violence that military intelligence that can be found.

The more that the Al Qaeda link is played up in Iraq, then it quiets down critical U.S. public sentiment about Donald Rumsfeld and the Administration's role in the war. This certainly does little to win the war, and only keeps the war on the same course and avoids any major change in policy. While sectarian violence only adds more and more refugees afraid to live in their homes, and fighting between Sunni and Shiite groups only continues, the evolving justification claim of the Bush Administration for the war as having something to do with the War On Terrorism is only given a boost by spending by military intelligence and a willing partner in the MSM.

Since the creation of Iraq in 1922 by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, there has been problems with a sectarian conflict in Iraq. But too much MSM newscoverage of any Al Qaeda link information, including the silly video of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi who is functionally illiterate and has very limited ability to be able to read or write, having trouble operating his rifle or wearing American brand tennis shoes, and only sends an inaccurate message to the homeland American audience that does little to foster understanding of the long standing sectarian conflict that makes Iraq very difficult to govern or to stabilize. Ridding the world of Al Qaeda is certainly a major goal. But Al Qaeda lacks the power to overthrow the government in Iraq, but Shiite militia groups certainly are in a real position to do such harm and turn Iraq back to some cruel dictatorship and only continue the cycle of sectarian violence.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Zacarius Moussaoui Sentence Displays Some Wisdom By Jurors

The jurors in the Zacarias Moussaoui trial did display some wisdom in the life sentence rather than the death penalty verdict for this mentally ill defendant. There is a long standing tradition in American justice not to execute the mentally ill for their crimes.

The brother of Zacarias Moussaoui makes a good case for compassion for this mentally defendant in his book , "ZACARIAS, MY BROTHER", by Abd Moussaoui. A childhood of terrible abuse of both the mother and children by the father of this Moroccan immigrant family is indeed a terriby sad portrait of an outrageously abusive childhood in a very dysfunctional family.

The court appointed defense team for this diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic defendant had a very difficult time fulfilling their court appointed duties because of his uncooperative nature and delusional mental illness. And while Al Qaeda likely recruited him as he claimed, his ability to carry out some of the terrorist acts he claimed are far beyond belief.

One of his most suspect claims is that he and convicted shoebomber, British, Richard Reid, were supposed to fly a jetliner into the White House. Paranoid schizophrenics are simply too delusional and uncoordinated to fly large and complex passenger aircraft. And even the most skilled of professional passenger airline pilots will tell you that targeting a small object like the White House with a fast moving object like a passenger aircraft is nearly impossible. The far more "skilled" terrorists who actually struck the World Trade center buildings and the Pentagon chose large objects that were far easier to target. Paranoid schizophrenics are likely to have household accidents such as falls or knocking over objects such as lamps due to serious coordination and perceptional problems. Like other outrageous statements from Zacarias Mossaoui, there is little reason to trust in such foolish delusional statements. Prosecutors were nearly as gullible to believe that this mentally ill defendant had the necessary skills to create or plan a serious act of violence.

Other than an immigration violation and being a member of Al Qaeda that likely could have been deployed in some sort of suicide mission by far more "intelligent" and more "normal" minded Al Qaeda members, a paranoid schizophrenic personality such as Mossaoui simply lacks the personal skills necessary to commit a large scale act of violence all by themselves. But paranoid schizophrenics are indeed the most dangerous classification of mentally ill persons. The recent murder of a 17 year old McDonald's employee by a paranoid schizophrenic with a butcher knife was part of a disturbed conspiracy psychology where the murderer planned to target a female person because he imagined that females were responsible for all of his problems. Moussaoui's source of unhappiness is the nearly the same. He blames Americans for all of his problems when it is a highly dysfunctional childhood and his mental illness that gives him so much emotional and mental anguish.

The jury did display wisdom in keeping society safe from a dangerously mentally ill individual highly likely to be involved in a future serious crime if running free in society. Paranoid schizophrenics simply have way too many bizarre delusions in many cases, that they feel can only be resolved through violence. Society must be kept safe from a mentally ill person who blames all of his problems on innocent American citizens. The Prognosis for treatment of paranoid schizophrenics is not always good. And any of them prone to violence is a dangerous potential for some sort of acting out. For the safety of American society as well as wisom and compassion, the jury did come up with about the best decision that they could based on the type of charges brought against the defendant.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Nobody Does Corporate Corruption As Good As South Korean Corporations

Oh sure some American corporations such as the antics at Enron certainly gave corporate corruption a great college try effort. And many motorists blow smoke from their heads when they have to fillup at the gas pump with $3 a gallon gas blaming the "greedy" American oil companies. And some like Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham made the most of a corrupt relationship with a dishonest defense contractor. But it's like amateur night for corporate corruption in the U.S. compared to some South Korean companies.

During the 1980's the product reputation of Hyundai Motor Co. products suffered terriby when some executives of this company treated it more like their personal piggybank than anything else. Too many shortcuts in quality were made solely to raise profits back then. But with some changes in corporate leadership, Hyundai soon earned a new found reputation for product quality, and some new products like the Azera seem like real bargain in the competitive market with higher end luxury cars costing far more.

This week the head of Hyundai Motor Co., Chung Mong Koo, 68 was arrested on embezzlement charges, where $108 million was claimed by prosecutors to have been used to help fund bribery of government and banking officials among other financial mischief. And the son of Chung, Chung Eui Sun, who is the head of Kia Motors has also been implicated, and prosecutors vow charges against him as well.

Unfortunately things don't stop there for South Korean corporation corruption scandals. The electronic giant, Samsung Group, had a major scandal back in February when Lee Kun Hee and his children were implicated in a scandal that involved aquiring stock for less than market prices, bribing politicians and illegal stock transfer. While Lee was eventually cleared of the charges against him, the family donated a sum of $609 million in a type of legal settlement. Samsung has made a major reputation for quality electronic products such as big screen LCD display TVs. Sony has agreed to a new joint business venture with Samsung in building a major LCD screen factory.

Unlike the more Western model of business practiced in Japan, Korean companies still are nearly feudal in nature, where a close-knit family controls everything. And often, when one is trouble for financial mischief, then it is usually other family members who are involved as well.

Both Hyundai and Samsung have worked hard to develop a great line of products that is very impressive. And both corporations will survive their leadership problems. But the Korean way of doing business needs to be modeled more after Western models of business leadership. Corruption in business is a terrible practice that hurts people. It is immoral and wrong. Yet in South Korea some cultural connections to family run businesses have not caught up with modern times although the products of both Samsung and Hyundai represent some great advances in technology. The scientist and engineer is more advanced than the base human instincts sometimes it seems. Very regrettable.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Regrettable Defense Of The Rush Limbaugh Drug Addiction

It is very regrettable about the way so many "conservatives" have rallied to defend the prescription drug addiction of Rush Limbaugh. For the mere sake of politically based bias, a serious problem with drug addiction was been belittled to a point that prescription drug abuse is not taken very seriously by many.

On the air, Rush Limbaugh made a huge point of his "not guilty" plea. However this was a plea agreement deal, and that certainly does not mean Limbaugh had no serious prescription drug abuse problem . He is not allowed to own a gun. He must sumbit to regular drug tests. He will only have charges dropped after 18 months of cooperation with all the terms of this plea agreement.

ABC News and other sources reported that between 30-40 times, Limbaugh may have made cash transactions just under the $10,000 mark so as to avoid a federal inquiry into these transactions. Making regular transactions near the $9,999 mark is hardly the conduct of someone who was not involved in some sort of wrongdoing conduct. These huge transactions were meant to pay for huge purchases of the highly addictive pain killer, OxyContin and other similar products.

Law enforcement authorities cite OxyContin as one of the most abused prescription drugs that is often associated with criminal conduct and hardcore drug abuse problems. OxyContin abuse rates right up there with abuse of hardcore drugs such as heroin or crack, and can have just as devastating impact on the user. Indeed the third marriage of Limbaugh reportedly broke up over problems caused by this drug abuse.

There is no good in alcohol, smoking or drug addiction. All three are very harmful drug addictions to both the user and to others who are not users. Limbaugh's strong point of the onair use of the term "not guilty" reminds me too much of the denial that drug or alcohol abusers use to claim that they have no addiction problem. Limbaugh should have shown more character to admit his problem, and seek a public forgiveness. And listeners should be wary of someone who still fails to accept full responsibility for their actions or seek to justify that a prescription drug habit reported to be as much as 30 pills a day is not out of control. Elvis Presley took too many prescription drugs and it caused his death. Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin all had early deaths caused by drug abuse. Limbaugh is very lucky his drug abuse did not kill him. He should make a point of making the public aware of the dangers of drug abuse and his listeners should not look for ways to justify a potentially deadly habit such as drug abuse. A prescription drug abuse problem is not more honorable than an illegal drug abuse problem.

The actor, Robert Downey, had a difficult time letting go of his drug problems and it landed him in jail. Limbaugh needs to learn from this. He must truly let go of any justification for his drug abuse, otherwise a future relapse may occur.

Decent thinking people shouldn't side with or against Limbaugh on the drug issue because of his politics. There should be a real interest in seeing him beat this abuse. And Limbaugh needs to more forcefully speak out against drug abuse, as a personal witness to the great dangers it causes. Drug abuse makes a person a slave to a substance. The New Testament in Galations 5:20 even sees it akin to being under the influence of wichcraft. Drug abuse can kill or it can land a person in jail, or to commit absurd and outrageous crimes. Drug abuse is a great evil. Nothing can justify it.

Monday, May 01, 2006

May Day Solidarity For Working People & Immigrants

Today working people around the world march, demonstrate or remember the struggle to survive day to day in life in societies in which they are dependent on jobs from others in order to merely survive. Prior to the Industral Revolution, in agrarian societies, the individuals were responsible for their own fate by how productive they could make their land or how much they could hunt or fish. Today, with so many individuals removed from their land and totally dependent on some corporation or employer for an income, their life is totally dependent on these institutions.

But the role of the wealthy employers is often to seek to maximize profits solely by utilizing the cheapest possible pool of labor. This has created new tensions in what can be called "postIndustrial Revolution" societies. This has led to outsourcing of jobs or the exploitation of immigrants for very low wages.

Labor cheap nations such as China and India are now increasing poverty levels among workers in "postIndustrial Revolution" societies such as Japan and the U.S. In Japan, welfare rolls as well as poverty rates are increasing as industrialism rolls towards labor cheap nations such as China to construct formerly Japanese produced products. In the U.S. a similar roll of jobs to China and India have taken at least four million of the best paying factory jobs. Union membership has sunk to a mere 15% of workers.

With corporations such as GM seeking to void pension contracts, and wages falling among areas such as meat processors who once earned $19 a hour, but now earn just an average of $9, workers and immigrants both march and demonstrate around the world and in the U.S. today for decent wages, good and safe working conditions, and respect on the job by their employers.

Today is only one day in this long daily struggle for respect for workers, decent wages and decent benefits such as health insurance coverage. To provide food, clothing, and a decent life for the worker requires a constant struggle that workers must engage in. Workers need to form more unions and use this voice to best represent them in negotiations with management. Standing alone against the corporation the individual is nearly powerless. The power of companies such as payday loan or car title loan businesses must be blunted by legal limits on unfair interest rates that take advantage of the working poor. More corporations such as Wal-Mart need to provide health care to their employees and families.

From it's roots in the Haymarket Riot in Chicago on May 4, 1886 at the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company, International Workers Day has grown into the peaceful movement to seek fairness in the workplace. Workers the world over share the same struggle to seek fairness from employers who often pay the lowest possible wages or offer the least benefits possible. But life should not just be good for this wealthy class of employers. The workers who are the soul of productivity for a society deserve to share in some of the wealth of that society.

Today, immigrants also march in many U.S. cities seeking respect from American society. They provide so much labor to many industries that Tyson, Purdue and Cargill Foods and others have actually closed. These workers deserve fairness and respect in society. They provide much of the labor that puts food on America's tables.

A very happy May Day to all. Today is only the first day in the long struggle towards fairness and respect for workers and immigrants. The general well being and wealth of a society is only good if it lifts all up to a better life of more quality.