Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Living In a box

China sends far more shipping containers to the U.S. full of their exports than travel back to China with U.S. made goods. This has led to a glut of shipping containers stacking up on the nation's ports. Now some innovative architects are attempting to turn these shipping containers into low cost housing units.

Normally you'd expect the very poor to be living in a box. But with so many of these shipping containers available, they can be picked up at many ports for as little as $1,500 to $2,000 each. The cost to return them back to China empty would be around $900 each. So many of these containers take a one way trip to American ports and then just sit and sit.

Many of these shipping containers have teak floors and are insulated. They are durable enough to probably resist storm or severe weather damage. These shipping containers are so durable they can even be stacked as much as 12 units high.

It is another strange twist of the terrible trade deficit with China that low income Americans may soon be living in used shipping containers. This latest trend in low income housing still has to pass muster with local zoning and building regulations in various local communities, but it seems to be a coming trend in low cost housing inspired by the homeless who live in discarded appliance boxes.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

6 Years Of Republican Economics Still Leave 37 Million Americans Living In Poverty

During the 2000 election cycle, Republican candidate George Bush claimed that he was some sort of a "compassionate conservative". Many voters took this to mean that he would not forget the obligation of America to it's poor. Afterall the U.S. gives out billions in foreign aid to many of the 191 nations of the world, so it would only seem just and moral to look after the obligation to seek a better life for the poor in America. But like most election year rhetoric, the term "compassionate concervative" seems to mean very little. Nothing much has improved the lives of the poor of the U.S in the six years under Bush and his Republican congress.

Republican economics still subscribes to the failed Reagan-era claims that "trickle down economics" will eventually benefit the poor. But the huge tax breaks to big corporations and the wealthy generally have only benefited an exodus of American industry to China, India, Vietnam or other low wage areas that have only improved the profits of the wealthy and have had little real economic benefit here. Other than the consumer sometimes saving a little money sometimes on cheaply produced consumer goods, this sort of economics has only blown open a huge trade deficit for the most part. Rather than more money circulating in the American economy that will eventually benefit the poor of America, more and more cash just flows out of the country and allows some economic improvement in nations such as China, but also benefits their military buildup as well and could potentially threaten future world peace in that regard.

Despite the "welfare reform" bill that President Clinton had signed during his administration the poverty rate did hit a lower 11.3%. But today this rate now stands at 12.6%, which is statisticly insignificant compared to the 12.7& recorded a year ago. The number of Americans wthout health insurance has also increased to 46.6 million from the year ago level of 45.3 million. And many very poor citizens who came to the U.S. as illegal immigrants are not included in these statistics, and work for very low wages in jobs with no benefits or retirement plans, and live in crowded apartments or homes and often sleep on the floor with little or no bedding materials. These working poor often need to seek help from food banks to find enough to eat, yet often work in food processing or agriculture related industry preparing food for other Americans.

There are too many bad trends here to ignore, such as an increasing number of jobs lost to labor cheap nations so that the wealthy can profit more, more Americans without health insurance, and no real improvement in the U.S. poverty rate during the 6 years of Republican rule. The Republicans had 6 years to make America more fair and work to lower poverty and increase the standard of living of more Americans in order to make them consumers. Instead a few persons at the top of the system consume a great deal of goods, and the working classes only go into debt with credit card offers in order to afford the items that they desire.

Little real good or progress has taken place in improving the lives of millions of Americans in the last 6 years, and in fact many wages are actually falling while hyperinflation of gasoline and other prices only continues. A gallon of gas has virtually doubled from the $1.59 in 2003 right before the elective Iraq War of Bush's to about $3.00 today. Rent and home prices only continue to rise, and many Americans are borrowing money on their homes in order to pay bills. All of this is hardly progress.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Greatest Vegan Foods

Being a vegan sure doesn't have to be boring. There are so many fantastic suitable substitutes for foods that contain animal proteins or content. You can live a healthy clean diet of vegan substitutes and look out for these great brands that I pick as my personal favorites:

Best vegan meat substitutes: TOFURKY from right here in Oregon is a great brand of meat substitute. This great tasting turkeylike soy based meat substitute comes in at least four flavors, but the hickory smoked flavor is my personal favorite. This not only tastes great by the slice, both makes fantastic hot or cold sandwiches. But a little known vegan and meatless meat substitute, AFC BAKED BEAN CURD can be found at some Asian grocery stores. This tastes great cold sliced with a meal of hummas or other cold vegan foods, or AFC BAKED BEAN CURD can be used in great Asian style cooking to create exotic meals. One great meal suggestion is cubed bits of AFC BAKED BEAN CURD, vegetables such as broccoli and mushrooms(don't forget to use both shitake and cremini if you want taste), and LEE KUM KEE VEGETARIAN STIR-FRY SAUCE-Shitake Mushroom Flavored sauce. This can be either stir fried, or can be boiled in a slow cooking pot until the vegetables and baked bean curd become very soft and flavored by the sauce. A restaurant quality vegan meal for sure, made at home.

Best vegan Cheese puffs substitutes: ROBERT'S GOURMET AMERICAN features both TINGS and SUPER VEGGIE TINGS. Both feature nutritional yeast which is loaded with healthy vitamins and gives both a great cheesy flavor. SUPER VEGGIE TINGS also adds extra calcium and the aded health benefits of vegetables. Both are fantastic and better than excellent. These give junk snack foods a real run for their money.

Best vegan potato chips: Once again ROBERT'S GOURMET AMERICAN wins here with their fantastic ANTIQUE POTATO CHIPS. These are produced in very small batches and are created using antique production equipment such as cooking kettles. No cheap cottonseed oil here like your cheap mass brand supermarket chips.

Best caviar substitute. Yes, it really exists! CAVI-ART comes in both black and yellow lumpfish flavors and helps to save both your next vegan party and those baby fish. Salmon are becoming scarce in the Pacific NorthWest, for conservation of our fish are very important to maintain the balance of nature.

Best Fish and chips substitute: GOLDEN DIPT EASY FRY makes a great fish and chips style batter that when used with firm tofu and a deep fryer will give you fantasic results creating your own fake fish chips at home very similar in taste to the big restaurant's style.

Best ice cream substitute: SOY DREAM makes some fantastic nondairy ice cream substitutes. I like the French Vanilla flavor. But there are many choices to be had. This stuff is simply heavenly.

Best soy cheeses. These can only include brands that do not use casein or other milk protein products. VEGAN by SOYCO is the best for high calcium content, but VEGAN GOURMET includes flavors that melt for pizza or cooking use. But I strongly prefer VEGAN because of the high calcium health benefits. But either produces some great pizzas or other meals. VEGAN GOURMET does make some very good toasted soy cheese sandwiches.

Well these are just a few of my favorites. If you have others you think should be included, the please post them in the comments section. Let's keep increasing readership around here.

How Many Years Of Life Do You Want To Give Up For Smokers?

Medical reseachers now believe that Americans could live an average of 106 years, and that the life expectancy could even be extended to as much as 160 years in the near future. But society lacks the courage to eliminate the greatest cause of death next to alcohol consumption, tobacco use.

Cigarettes are not only eventually fatal to 50% of all users, but they shorten the life of nearly all Americans, smokers or not by driving up environmental poisons rates and causing cell mutations and cancer. As much as 80% of all cancer, and a significant percentage of heart disease could be eliminated if tobacco use was eliminated. A 80% reduction in cancer is very significant.

The lungs breath about 15 to 25 times a minute. Normally clean air is breathed in and carbon dioxide is exhaled, and oxygen combines with the red blood cells. But when cigarette smoke is present in any public place as air pollution, it combines poisons such as heavy metals like nickel, cadmium, and tar, hydrogen cyanide, carbon monoxide, and in fact 4,700 chemicals and 200 poisons with the red blood cells in any person who breaths in cigarette smoke. The EPA reports no safe level for any of these poisons. Cigarette smoke poisons and pollutants travel as much as half a city block in all directions. One cigarette can pollute and damage up to thousands of gallons of normally clean air. Cigarettes are also a leading cause of environmental damage as they are responsible for as many as several hundred grass and forest fires in each state every year. Careless smoking is also the cause of as many as 30,000 home and apartment fires each year often killing nonusers by smoke inhalation or burning death.

Some substances such as cadmium are present in battery manufacturing as well as cigarettes and this chemical stays in the body a long time and damages both lungs and kidneys. The poisons in cigarette smoke filter so much through every part of the body when breathed in that even bladder and breast cancer can result from the poisoning by cigarettes, no matter whether you are a smoker or not.

Cigarette smoking undermines all the efforts of those who pay for clean organic foods, by combining harmful poisons onto their blood cells against their wills. Smoking kills as many persons in the U.S., both smoker and nonsmoker alike as the Vietnam War did in 12 years, or about 53,000.

The question for the average person should be: How many years if life do want to give up so that smokers can continue to practice their dirty drug addiction? Smokers are shortening the lives of all of us and worsening American health in general. I is robbing American society of lost productivity and billions in wasted resources. Things are literally going up in smoke because of smokers. Why doesn't society have the will to say no to all of this and demand a stop to it?

Friday, August 25, 2006

Israel May Be Preparing To "Go It Alone" Against Iran Very Soon

The editor of THE JERUSALEM POST, claims that a senior official in the Israeli government has lost confidence in either the U.S. or U.N. attempts to stop the Iranian nuclear program, and that Israel may have to "go it alone" and attack Iran within the next 12 months.

Just yesterday, it was disclosed that Israel has purchased two new submarines from Germany that are capable of firing nuclear missiles. This brings the Israeli nuclear missile firing submarine force up to five submarines.

Many of the Iranian nuclear research sites are buried up to 50 to 75 feet underground in hardened concrete bunkers. These would require a direct hit by a nuclear missile to damage or destroy these sites. The conventional "bunker buster" missiles sold by the U.S. to Israel with depleted uranium warheads will not slice through hardened bunkers this thick or deep. Only a direct nuclear hit will possiby work.

Israel was not able to defeat 2,000 to 3,000 Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon. Yet they are now edging towards a much larger war with the 1,000,000 Iranian Revolutionary Guard Army and reserve units. Israel could likely become involved in a very large war that they cannot clearly win unless nuclear weapons are used and drag the U.S. into this conflict.

Just like George Bush who has only limited military experience, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has only a limited experience on military matters, and like Bush made a serious miscalculation of Lebanon similar to that Bush had made of the ease of war in Iraq. Ehud Olmert is now suffering from a new public opinon poll in which as much as 63% of Israeli voters now want him to resign. Far right wing Israeli political leader, Binjamin Netanyahu and his Lukid Party have proven a huge jump in public opinion and the center-left leaning Labor Party is now in position to win only 9 seats if the election were held today.

With either Olmert or Netanyahu in power, a war with Iran is very likely. MidEast peace is going to be very short lived it seems. Lebanon was unfortunately only a preview to the MidEast becoming completely unglued and very serious war soon resulting.

America's Boat People

In many areas of the Third World, such as Cambodia and SouthEast Asia, you have very poor people who would normally be homeless living on boats. In the waters of the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon right here in the U.S., there is a number of very poor persons now living on poor quality and unsafe boats as America's boat people.

These American boat people are too poor to afford a monthly apartment or trailer park rent, so they purchase or find an old boat and begin to live on it as a some sort of homeless camp on the river. By staying afloat these persons avoid trespassing or illegal camping rules, ordinances or laws. Often these persons will use heroin or other drugs while on these poor condition boats. Drug addiction of some type is often part of the reason for these persons living in poverty. Portland, Oregon per capita has the worst heroin problem of any American city.

Both the Multnomah County Sheriff and U.S. Coast Guard are concerned about the safety of these boats because they could easily sink because they are often rotting and very poorly maintained. And these boats could present a water safety hazard to other water craft. Even the Office Of Homeland Security is concerned that one of these junk boats could contain a bomb or some other device. Each year during the Rose Festival event, a number of American and Canadian Navy ships come to dock in Portland. A junk boat could be used to bomb one of these Navy ships like the attack in Yemen during the Clinton Administration.

There are many problems involved here. Very poor persons cannot afford rent so become boat people. Their boats are in very condition and often very unsafe where fire, sinking or drowning accidents are very possible. There is no opportunity to homestead as in the days of the old West for persons who are poor and have no land of their own. Modern society must find ways to eliminate homelessness and poverty. But it is very alarming that poverty among some Americans is so similar to the Third World poverty that you find in Cambodia and SouthEast Asia.

KGW Called Upon To Stop Airing Racist Ad By

Yesterday, in a strongly worded and detailed letter to KGW's advertising buying department, I wrote them asking them to stop airing the outrageous racist ad by the radical right wing lobbyist Rick Berman front organization, .

The ad had to feature the most disgusting racial stereotype since the 1930's of a Black female DMV employee who was too lazy to do her job, and was looking for a labor union guaranteed right such as eight hours of paid sick leave per month worked to avoid work. It was outrageous to think that any Black actress would allow herself to be exploited by racists for such a purpose. The ad was absolutely disgusting as it presented Black workers in the most negative possible light. The ad presented a racist image just as bad as any hate organization would have.

I sincerely hope that KGW does the right thing and removes this disgusting right wing extremist group ad. The ad presents Black working people in a disgusting racist manner that hurts their employment oportunities and could cause them more workplace or employment discrimination the longer the ad airs. Each time this disgusting ad airs it could reinforce terrible and false negative stereotypes in the minds of some people who just don't know any better.

American society is attempting to work through racial problems towards an equal society in which all persons are fully equal in the minds of all. Any racist ads that present disgusting stereotypes that hurt future employment opportunites of Blacks seeking employment is absolutely unacceptable.

All persons are equal creations of a loving God. If I have helped to remove just one racist ad from the public airwaves that furthers racism, then at least I made yesterday worthwhile and helped to bring respect to all of mankind.

So far today I have not seen this racist ad aired. KGW has not yet responded to me. But hopefully they have already decided that I am right, that this ad is an example of disgusting racism and have pulled this awful right wing lobby organization sponsored ad from their channel. There is just no place for such racist ads on KGW or other public TV channel.

Thursday, August 24, 2006 Airing New Racist Ad

A new racist ad by , one of only many shadowy front groups run by political extremist and super lobbyist, Richard B. (Rick) Berman has begun to air in the Portland, Oregon area.

The new ad uses a black female employee who uses job benefit achieved union benefits such as paid sick leave as an excuse not to do her job. It is an outrageous racist ad that depicts a black employee as looking for any excuse not to work. This ad is racism of the worst type. It creates an ugly stereotype that is very demeaning to both Black citizens and workers and should be immediately pulled from the airwaves.

Right wing political extremist and superlobbyist, Richard B.(Rick) Berman is responsible for this new racist ad. A few days ago I attacked his last ad which presented a disgusting parody of teacher's unions. But this latest ad featuring a Black worker seeking some way not to do her job is a new low for even Berman. But little indicates that Berman is a man of any ethics or values.

Berman was implicated in questionable donation of $25,000 to a college class at Kennesaw State College that Newt Gingrich taught in exchange for teaching the extremist economics of Berman's Employment Policies Institute. It seems that Berman was recruited by Gingrich's GOPAC both to donate and to seek other big donors. In the letter that came with the check, Berman even went as far as to thank Gingrich for his "help" after Gingrich had helped to arrange for Berman to testify at a Congressional hearing involving some industry matter. This seemy web of donations, favors, access, is all a disgusting pattern in Washington of those who gain influence through donations and is a large reason that an ethicly challenged Congressman like Newt Gingrich is no longer in office.

Berman is also a lobbyist for alcohol and tobacco, interests. He is well known for extremist attacks on organizations such as MADD when he opposed their efforts to strengthen drunk driving laws because it might hurt the sales of the alcohol industry that helps to fund his $10 million dollar lobby organization. Berman also opposed the Americans With Disabilities Act(ADA) because it would have forced restaurants to provide wheelchair access to disabled patrons. And Berman has opposed any no-smoking sections in restaurants because it may hurt cigarette sales or cause any construction expense to restaurants, despite the fact that even Phillip Morris indicates on their very own website that second hand smoke causes ear infections, respiratory inflections, asthma or even SIDS to small babies. Berman has supported the use of the pesticide Alar on fruits such as apples. This dangerous pesticide is now banned from use on apples.

Right wing political extremist Berman is well known for setting up one shadowy fly-by-night organization after another, and failure to provide open public disclosure of both donations and expenditures., American Beverage Institute, Center For Consumer Freedom, Employment Policies Institute, Employment Roundtable, and The Center For Union Facts. For all the official sounding names of some of Berman's front organizations, Berman's organization comprise only 28 members who handle $10 million in donations from the alcohol, tobacco and other industry groups. It is certainly not clear who stands to benefit from Berman's latest antiteacher's union ads or whether he is simply attempting to drive wages down and make Oregon a "right-to-work" state. This could cut worker's wages by thousands a year and strip away health, dental and retirement benefits, and remove protections against wrongful worker termination.

It is not only very regrettable that antiworking people extremists like Berman are so well financed, but that they now use clearly racist advertising to promote their evil values. It is also very sad that for the sake of the almighty dollar that TV, radio or print media accept and not reject such ads. It says a great deal about the values of some in the media that we are supposed to trust.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Elitist Millionaire Conservatives Concerned About Pay-Per-View Movies In High Priced Hotel Rooms

Elitist conservatives proved just how their world is so out of touch with the tough day to day existence of many American's when they took out an expensive full page ad in USA TODAY demanding a U.S. Justice Department investigation into expensive hotels that feature adult entertainment movies that these right wing buffoons may consider to be "obscene".

The fact of the matter, is that these high roller conservatives, many of who sit atop multimillion dollar organizations, and set their salaries nearly as high, are staying in expensive hotel rooms in exotic resorts in the U.S. and dining in the finest restaurants while 36,997,000 Americans live below the poverty line. Millions of Americans miss one or more meals a day. In West Virginia, the families of former coal miners whose coal mines have closed down, trap rats to eat. Most of these big-buck conservatives have never missed a meal, unless they were too busy making more money. And probably none has had a rat for dinner.

It is sure refreshing to know that the knothead halfwit millionaires who lead The Family Research Council, Concerned Women For American, antisemite Donald Wildmon's Family Association, James Dobson's Focus On The Family, and other screwball groups are at work attempting to protect millionaire hotel guests from pornographic pay-per-view movies.

Conservatives parody themselves when they become involved in nonsense elitist activites like this. They worry about nonsense issues that only affect the the very wealthy, and their privileged existence. They use the Republican Party as a country club to seek big tax breaks for their companies, limit lawsuits by injured consumers, protect big credit card companies from bankruptcy by consumers who are ruined by huge medical expenses, etc., while seeking to cut food stamps, and public programs such as medical and dental aid to the poor. Conservatives often work overtime to paint themselves as wholly insensitve to the serious survival needs of the poor and instead champion nonsense elitist issues that only affect the wealthy.

In cities like Portland, Oregon, more runaway children per capita than anywhere in the United States live as homeless persons and often are heroin addicts or use prostitution, burglary or shoplifting to support their drug habits. Because of drugs, violence, etc.. many street persons may survive only three years on the streets before they die of something. The world of country club elitist conservatives never see this world. The glare of the Cartier diamonds they wear must obstruct their vision.

THE TODAY SHOW; Nearly Three Wasted Hours Of Fluff

I like THE TODAY SHOW cast very much. But the show itself is becoming more and more fluffy, and merely an exercize in wasted time. Every morning is nearly three wasted hours of real fluff with little real hard news. Serious cable channels offer important national, international or business news. It is surprising just how much worse things have gotten since Katie Couric left the show. Today they showed off the construction of their new set that includes a new kitchen set area. You know that few serious reports on Iraq, Iran, North Korea, or other serious troublespots will be origniating from there.

Say what you will about perky Katie Couric, but she was at least a serious journalist who asked some tough questions and had real skills in story preparation. Her loss to THE TODAY SHOW is already taking a huge toll in the quality of the show. Serious world issues and troublespots are worsening. A coming report on CNN asks the question whether WWIII is soon coming. By comparison on THE TODAY SHOW, engaged couples are competing in the worst ever amateur sing-offs that I've heard. They make even the worse acts on AMERICAN IDOL look almost reasonable by comparison. The world is going to heck in a handbasket, but you could hardly tell this from the three hours of mush served up each morning on the "new" TODAY SHOW.

52 year old Meredith Viera is a very nice woman. I can't say a single bad thing about her. But I question whether she can handle hard news stories with nearly the same skill as Katie Couric. Viera will be fine for typical TODAY SHOW fluff. But what about when the next terrorist attack hits, or Iran starts WWIII in the MidEast. How will the skils of Viera who hosts WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE fare there. The trend is clear, with Katie Couric gone, so is the commitment to hard news on THE TODAY SHOW. And this is deeply sad in my view. It leaves searching for better news on CNN, CNBC and other more serious outlets. Tuning in to THE TODAY SHOW used to be an important morning ritual for me. Now it is becoming far less so. So far I'm not very happy what I am seeing.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Joe Rosenthal, Iwo Jima Flag Raising Photographer Passes Away

Famous Iwo Jima flag raising photographer, Joe Rosenthal died at the age of 94 this week. His very famous flag raising photo was one of the most remarkable of the last century. Part of this was because of the great sacrifice it took to secure the island as a base for the B29s to drop bombs on Japan to end the war.

Iwo Jima had 20,700 Japanese soldiers stationed on it, and with airbases that launched fighter planes against the American B29s, which were slower and heavy with fuel and bombs, many B29s and their crews were lost when they approached Japan. With radar installations on the island and communications to ground antiaircraft units on mainland Japan, it was essential that the Americans take control of this Island to prevent the loss of so many B29s and their crews. And if the U.S. could station their B29s on this island, then the war should quickly be over it was assumed.

But the 20,700 Japanese soldiers heavily entrenched themselves on this island against any U.S. troop invasion. It took a 100,000 U.S. Marine force two months to secure this island, having to fight for every square inch of it. 6,821 U.S. Marines were killed, and another 20,000 were wounded in this effort. Only 216 of the 20,700 Japanese soldiers allowed themselves to be captured. Japan knew that the loss of this island would doom their war effort or lead to an American occupation of their homeland, which was unacceptable to their way of thinking.

Of ther original soldiers seen in the famous Iwo Jima flag raising, only one survived combat and lived.

But there are some important modern lessons in the battle of Iwo Jima. In three years, 135,000 American soldiers have been unable to stop as few as 10,000 or 12,000 Iraqi insurgents. These insurgents killed 3,500 Iraqi civilians just last month alone. When George Bush encouraged terrorists to "bring it on", it only encouraged a war of wills between Muslim extremists and the American and Iraqi government forces. Rather than getting better, the violence is only worsening and a sectarian war between the Shia and Sunni factions is only taking more and more innocent lives of civilians and has forced U.S. soldiers back to dangerous street mission duty in Baghdad.

In Lebanon, a Hezbollah and Iranian Revolutionary Guard force of just 2,000 to 3,000 fighters was able to withstand nearly the best that the 500,000 man Israeli army could do to uproot them for the month long conflict.

There are big lessons in this. If anyone thinks that a guerilla war or land invasion of Iran are possible by U.S. forces, then it would be similar to the tough battle of Iwo Jima, except with a 1,000,000 man Iranian Revolutionary Guard army, not just one of 20,700 Japanese. The Marine forces needed a five to one advantage than the Japanese, and still suffered more total dead or wounded than the Japanese forces. This would mean that a U.S. force of 5,000,000 or more may be required for an invasion of Iran, which is far more than our actual standing military forces. And with the same rate of dead and wounded as Iwo Jima, the American combat deaths would total hundreds of thousands with over 1,000,000 wounded.

And unlike WWII, which concluded in several years, Muslim warriors have been in combat since 628 until WWI, with Turkey, and the last of the Ottoman Empire aligned with Germany. Turkey once again hoped to impose Muslim control on parts of Europe. During the Middle Ages, three times Muslim armies sought to defeat Vienna and control all of Europe. War with Muslim radicalism lasts for decades or centuries, not a few years like the wars with Japan or Germany.

Iran has proven itself a real master of low key guerilla warfare and the both the U.S. and Israel have had little good response to their form of combat despite vastly superior weapons. The U.S. and Israel need to see just how difficult such conflicts are with Iranian type guerilla warfare and either find ways to bring Iran into the modern world community, or else find a form of combat that is effective in countering Iranian type of warfare.

To many Muslim extremists, the only sure path to paradise is to lose your life fighting nonbelievers. For most in the U.S. or Israel, these soldiers want to return home and not lose their life in combat.

But the tough battle of Iwo Jima proves just how costly hand to hand combat can be and needs to stand as a lesson to avoid another similar situation. History books aren't just paperweights. They contain many important lessons that should be learned.

Monday, August 21, 2006

The High Cost Of "Right To Work" Laws To Working People

The International Brotherhood Of Boilmakers in Kansas City, Kansas offered a study conducted by the AFL-CIO on the high economic cost to working people of "right to work" laws. In "right to work" states only 7.6% of workers are unionized compared to 16.8% in free states. In "right to work" states the average lags thousands of dollars a year at just $24,600 compared to an average of $29,100 in free states.

Because of right wing pressure, the number of antiworker, probig business, "right to work" states shows a constant increase. The list now includes Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Lousiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, South Casrolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming. Recently Oklahoma joined this dubious list. All states that voted for Bush in 2004.

In all 50 states, management belongs to Chambers Of Commerce or other business organizations, yet the rights of working people to organize is restricted in these states. Working people simply do not have as much rights as management to organize. And standing alone in companies, workers have far less work safety protections, wrongful termination ability to recourse or access to employer paid health care, sick leave or maternity leave.

The human cost of "right to work" laws is indeed high. For many families it only forces them below the poverty for doing the same work that in a free state would allow the same family to be considered middle class. Management would certainly rebel if their wages were cut, yet many workers allow the politicians and their management big contributors to ruin their lives and fail to react and defend their right to a quality life.

Workers need to either unionize or else work out a plan for buying out their employer and creating a worker owned business or collective. Some employee owned businesses or collectives have should great promise. Some companies are worker owned through stock in a retirement plan type arrangement. Getting rid of management and turning workplaces over to worker control has proven itself viable in many cases in which management claimed that they could not show a profit. In large companies in which management pulls out millions in salary, but claims the company cannot show a profit or wants to lay off workers, workers should approach management with viable offers for worker ownership of the company and buy out the management.

China's Antidog hysteria

China is a rotten place for a dog to live, unlike the U.S., France, or other parts of the Western world where dogs are held in high regard as a life form just slightly below humans. The latest antidog hysteria involves the murder of as many as 50,000 dogs in response to only a scattered number of rabies cases. Even housepets that have be vaccinated against rabies have been caught up in this latest hysteria. It is possible that as many as 500,000 dogs, most likely perfectly healthy, will be brutally murdered in this antirabies hysteria.

China has had a long history of disrespect for dogs and cats. China has repeatedly illegally shipped clothing and pet toy items to the U.S. made from dog or cat fur. Because of the nipples of the female animals reducing the usable fur surface, male dogs command a higher value in the production of clothing items, and the less usable female dog and cat fur will often find it's way into pet toys such as furry toy mice, etc.

And because of the radical writings of Chinese Communist government founder, Mao Zedong, dogs and cats have been long seen as examples of borgeoisie Chinese society during the days of rule by an emporer or the nationalist government of Chiang Kai-shek, and have become hated symbols of exploitation from the priveledged classes. Despite the growth of Chinese society into one of the most capitalistic and opportunistic societies in the world, far from any worker's revolution or "proletariat class struggle " roots.

It offends the great respect for dogs nature of the Western world, when a foreign society such as China holds these wonderful animals and best friends to humans in such low regard, and always for a long string of abuses of these animals since the 1949 Chinese revolution. China may want to be regarded as part of the modern world, but this continued animal abuse only creates new strains in Western moods towards this emerging world economic power.

You can do your part in saving some innocent lives of dogs by signing an Email to the Chinese government by a link on PETA's website at .

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Knits For Kids; Christian Love In Action

Ten years ago the Christian magazine, Guideposts, started a new helping project for readers to take the time to knit sweaters for the poor children of the Third World. Today nearly 300,000 sweaters have been knitted for these poor children of the world.

Rather than merely buying a sweater, the time taken to knit every stitch gives the maker the time to reflect in prayer about the needs of the poor. Merely buying a sweater simply does not involve the sacrifice or love offering of one's own time, to take on a painstakingly long project of sacrifice for poor children.

The sheer joy in the face of a poor Third World child who is given a new sweater of their very own, that is theirs alone to keep, must really be something. Normally the poor children of the world search out garbage piles for clothing or food to eat, discards from the better off in their society. In these poor societies nothing ever goes to waste like in the U.S. or affluent nations.

The Knits For Kids project not only puts wonderful new clothes on poor children who need decent clothing, but bring the sweater makers ever closer to prayer and to God. This wonderful project fulfills the needs of the poor and the spiritual needs of the sweater makers.

Anyone who would love to help out this project of sheer Christian love for the poor may research it here at .

More And More Omens Point Towards A Very Short MidEast Peace

Today the MidEast ceasefire agreement took more and more steps towards faltering. Israel put new demands that only nations that respect Irael's right to exist be allowed to station peacekeepers near her borders and also demanded that no Lebanese government troops be allowed to be stationed without U.N. supervision near her borders. And Iran today issued a statement only one day after test firing 10 short range missiles, that it will not abide by a U.N. declaration to stop uranium enrichment activity. It takes no MidEast scholar to tell that this recent peace agreement is already in great trouble.

Iran has been running war games in the region this weekend. and is now capable of producing it's own tanks, fighter aircraft, missiles and armored personnel carrier vehicles, so it could withstand any U.N. imposed arms embargo to the nation. The longer range, Shahab-3("shooting star" in the Persian Farsi language) is a perfect vehicle to hit targets as much as 1,200 miles away including Israel once nuclear warheads are developed. With multiple stages attached similar to the unsuccessful recent North Korean launch of the Taepodong 2 missile, this could extend the Shahab-3 range to as much as 4,000 to 4,500 miles.

Rather than the region returning to peace, for the secons time since Saturday, Israel has found a way to challenge aspects of the peace agreement that they only recently signed, or else seeks wiggle room to conduct more military actions in the name of national security. And Iran shows off their growing impressive stock of self produced arms and even flaunts that they do not intend to abide by world concerns about nuclear enrichment that will almost certainly spin off nuclear weapons.

The smaller comflict between Hezbollah and Israel was merely a dress rehearsal for a coming much worse conflict between Iran and Israel that will most likely include the use of nuclear weapons by at least one side. All in all, conditions are very similar to those that cry, "peace, peace" in scripture right before war grows way out of hand. Unless human nature changes very soon in the MidEast, then the world can only count the days until a far more serious conflict than the war in Lebanon will take place.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Israel Becomes The First Party To Violate The Ceasefire Terms

Israel may argue that they were acting in self defense terms in the raid on Hezbollah to prevent a resupply by Syria or a future incident. Yet both sides did agree to a ceasefire and should fully honor the agreed to terms. It will quickly become a slippery slope that could lead to a new all-out breakout of warfare again if either Israel or Hezbollah begin to find justifications to violate ceasefire terms.

Hezbollah needs to return the two captive soldiers that triggered this crisis and stop any future rearming from Iran or Syria. And Israel must resist ant temptation towards the all-out combat that caused so much destruction of lebanon and left far too many innocent civilians homeless, wounded or dead.

Any return to open warfare is absolutely unaccceptable. The world community and volunteer peacekeeper states need to make peace work in Lebanon, and return the region to peace and rebuilding.

Swarmy Politics At It's Very Worst

In Oregon, extremist right wing Republican Speaker Of The Oregon State House, Karen Minnis, has moved politics to a new all-time low. Her Democratic opponent, Rob Brading, is by all appearances a perfectly decent and a gentle man. His kindly nature contrasts with the blunt "in your face" sytle of Minnis. Brading was shocked when a third party flyer on behalf of support for Minnis accused Brading of supporting children viewing internet pornography at public libraries ans even further accused Brading of "having a record of defending the pornography industry".

Brading simply volunteered some time to the Multnomah County Library Board, where it was likely that internet pornography filters never came up as an issue, as local library branches make the decisions how much content to filter based on the age of the computer user. Children or teenagers would receive more filtering and adults could receive less or none if they request. But it is likely that anyone using a library computer to view pornography would be asked to stop or leave the library. This is a far step from the swarmy literature distributed on behalf of the Minnis campaign by a third party group of right wing supporters that makes Brading look like a sinister weirdo who favors children being exposed to internet porn. This is smear and personal destruction politics of the very worst variety. It is nearly enough that gentle persons like Brading who run for office because they believe in public service to avoid politics altogether.

Minnis, the wife of a former policeman and legislator, John Minnis, who left office when very his rheumatoid arthritis left him very ill, took over his old seat in the state legislature. But since her rise to Speaker Of The Oregon State House, corporate and right wing special interests have showered her campaign with donations because Minnis prevents some legislature dealing with regulations of some industries from even comimg up to a vote. RJ Reynolds Tobacco gave Minnis a $1,750.00 donation in 2000 for example, and she prevented a bill that required cigarettes sold in Oregon be only self-extinguishing to prevent home, forest or grass fires from even coming up to a vote for example. Minnis claimed that any standards on cigarettes should be national, which has limited to only a few states the required sale of safer self extinguishing cigarettes. In Oregon in the summer months, about 900 grass or forest fires occur each year as careless smokers toss lit cigarettes from automobiles and set grass or forests on fire and do severe environmental damage to the beautiful greenry of Oregon and risk the lives of firemen to combat these fires.

Minnis also receives donations from many other industries including Oregon Restaurant Association PAC, $5,500 which helped to keep the minimum wage lower, and required voters to pass a higher minimum wage ballot measure on their own, Oregon Health Care Association, $3,700, which affects health and insurance related issues, Credit Union Legislative Action Fund, $3,000, which affects finance, insurance and real estate related issues, Association Builders & Contractors/ABC State PAC, $3,000, which affects construction related issues. Numerous other industry interests are also noted among the $170,682 in political contributions for an office that only pays $1, 437.00 for a regular legislator and twice that amount for the Speaker Of The Oregon State House.

Smaller contributions to Minnis were farther down the list and smaller compared to the larger industry donations. Interestingly normally Democratic leaning labor unions, such as AFSCME Council 75 offered a $2,420.00 contribution so as not to lose all clout with the Speaker Of The Oregon State House.

The problem is that politics continues to become a pay for influence industry, where you only gain or lose influence if you offer or don't, political contributions. When those like Rob Brading who volunteers time helping his local library board discover that politics is not a welcome home for citizen legislators or those who believe in public service, and instead just a mean and rotten business of buying and selling influence, then decent individuals will avoid politics and leave it up to the professional politicians and the big corporate powers that influence them. This is deeply sad.

Politics needs more public servants like Rob Brading, not less. But the horrible and offensive, library pornography attacks on his character, only serve to make decent persons want to avoid politics. This would be a huge loss to a sensible and moderate centrist government for the citizens.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Super Lobbyist Rick Berman: A Life Spent Promoting Evil?

Right wing extremist, Richard B. (Rick) Berman has gained quite a reputation as one of the most radical of the far right lobbyists. Yesterday, I attacked his latest front group, which is opposed to paid sick leave, paid holidays and health and medical benefits for union workers. His ads and website always seem to claim that unions are hurting and costing people. But the truth is that Berman has long represented evil industry interests that have a long history of injuring and killing people and costing the nation dearly.

Berman is a lobbyist for the worst elements of alcohol, tobacco and chemical industry interests, among other big business concerns.

Yesterday some of Berman's tobacco industry friends were labeled as racketeers in successful federal lawsuit by the Clinton era Justice Department. And gut puncher, Berman is right at home with tobacco industry racketeers as his close friends and allies. Berman was also caught up in ethics problems with Newt Gingrich's GOPAC back in 1993. The House Ethics Committee Report found out that Berman was solicited for a political contribution by Gingrich's GOPAC to pay a $25,000 contribution to Kennesaw State College for a class that Gingrich taught, and this gift was conditionally tied to teaching policies of one of Berman's organizations, the Employment Policies Institute. Berman also was given help by Gingrich to testify at a Congressional hearing on an industry matter. This pay for influence or favor type politics between corrupt politians like Gingrich and a lobbyist like Berman is government at it's very worst. People who betray the public trust like this should be banned from the halls of Congress.

These are just a few of the ways that Berman has cost America:

Berman opposed further laws against drunk driving and ruthlessly attacked MADD. He was acting on behalf of the alcohol and tavern industry that would rather sell more drinks to persons who have had enough already, and could cause fatal accidents when driving, taking innocent lives.

Berman attacked the passage of The Americans With Disabilities Act acting on behalf of restaurant interests who did not want to provide wheelchair or handicapped access ramps. Berman also opposed no-smoking sections in restaurants, favoring the 18% of Americans who smoke over the 82% that don't. Berman apparently believes that cigarette smoke should be forced on persons who it causes severe health problems. And Berman doesn't want to pay your health costs either.

Berman defended harmful chemicals and pesticides such as Alar, which was later banned from use on apples.

While Berman defends the alcohol industry, alcoholism costs the U.S. $175.9 billion a year, compared to drug abuse at $114.2 billion, and $137 for smoking costs. Further, untreated alcohol problems waste $184.6 billion a year and take an estimated 100,000 lives each year. And between 25-40 percent of all the hospital beds in the U.S. are currently occupied by alcohol related injury or health problem patients who are not in maternity or intensive care. This robs billions from the economy and dramaticly raises health care costs for all Americans. But this is the type of people that Berman chooses to lobby for. Berman takes in as much as $10 million a year representing alcohol, tobacco, and other evil interests. Berman has made himself a millionaire representing evil interests.

The tobacco interests that Berman represents have helped create a higher percentage of children who smoke than adults in states such as Oregon. In Oregon 4,900 smokers die each year from their nicotine addiction. 81,000 children under the age of 18 will ultimately die prematurely from smoking in just the small state of Oregon alone. And secondhand smoke kills between 450-800 babies, children and adults each year in Oregon.

But that's just the beginning of the American economy going up in smoke because of those like Berman who promote the tobacco industry interests. Smoking kills more people than many terrible things all combined together; murders, suicides, illegal drugs, car crashes and AIDS.

Smoking caused fires destroy more than 30,000 housing units or buildings each year and cost the American economy more than $500 million. As many as 800-900 persons die from smoking caused fires each year. Smoking caused cleanup, maintenance, litter cleanup, etc., cost American industry more than $4 billion a year. And the costs from sick employees, lost productivity, etc. may run into the billions as well.

But like most who die from their addictions, Berman carries around more than 240 pounds on his 6 foot 2 frame, and is more likely than not to be an ultimate victim of some the evil things that he has fought so hard to promote and lobby than not. Many who suffered horrible deaths have ultimately cried out to God that they don't want to suffer or die. But "the wages of sin are death". 50% of smokers ultimately die from their drug habit. And alcohol or unhealthy diets rob many more lives.

Berman also represents food industry interests who promote unhealthy diets and potential health problems for those who eat the diet of the many of the products that he represents so forcefully. Berman is known for ruthless attacks on environmentalists and others including those that advocate for animal welfare. In a guest feature in USA Today, Berman tarred animal rights supporters as terrorists, deliberately confusing the acts of a small number of ELF terrorists with those who believe in peaceful respect for God's creation.

And with Berman's fanatical antiunion stance, American workers would watch their wages slashed and lose health care and retirement benefits. American workers could not afford many consumer items and the U.S. would soon become nearly as poor as neighboring Mexico where 16 wealthy families control much of the economy, causing the huge economic refugee problem to the U.S. 300,000 illegal immigrants come into the U.S. each month. mostly due to the grossly unfair economy of Mexico.

Berman represents those that assault innocent women and children with drunken drivers or smokers who cause small children painful ear infections or asthma. Berman represents those who cause babies SIDS from secondhand smoke.

Berman may belly ache if a poor waitress wants a 10cent an hour pay increase, but this tightwad skinflint lobbyist, costs the nation billions in unneeded expenses, shortened lives, poor health, and is one cause of more economic costs, deaths and injuries than even war for the U.S.

Berman is the poster boy for "penny wise, pound foolish". You have to question the reasoning ability of anyone like Berman who opposes medical researchers or others who are acting in behalf of the public good. Some people want to build up a healthy and wealthy America, with a higher quality of life for all, but some like Berman want to tear it down with evil and uncontrolled enterprise.

There are many religious and other persons who promote a healthy lifestyle as a proper moral direction for their lives. But other than selfish greed and self promotion, Berman represents little positive. When someone gives so much of their life over to clearly evil or unwise things, there is nothing good that come of it. Walking in this much darkness is a sure path to spiritual destruction of both body and soul.

JonBenet Murder Suspect Likely A Liar

There was some brief public hope that 10 year old murder mystery of little six year old JonBenet Ramsey would be resolved. But the story of the claimed killer is quickly falling apart. John Mark Karr had claimed to have drugged little JonBenet, yet no where in the autopsy did any sign of drugs show up. And the exwife of Karr now claims that he never lived in Colorado where the murder took place but far away in Alabama.

Unfortunately, Karr is likely a very disturbed man whom is only seeking notoriety in a high profile crime case by falsely claimimg involvement and creating a false confession. It is a shame when an insignificant loser makes up false stories only because their life is so insignificant.

Karr also has some unhealthy sexual impulses towards children according to allegations, which is very unsettling. But his claims of involvement in the JonBenet murder are quickly falling apart and when he flunks the DNA evidence test, then his absurd story will really fall apart.

It's a deep shame that a very sick individual has raised public hopes of resolving this murder mystery. But this terrible crime is very likely to go back to unresolved shortly. Karr's absurd claims resolved nothing, and only raised and then dashed public hopes.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

OregonUnionFacts Is A Fascist Union Busting Attempt

An outrageous fascist website designed to drive down the wages of the working class of Oregon has appeared in a far right website called "OregonUnionFacts". These heartless and brainless right wing cranks bemoan paid sick leave and vacations, medical and dental benefits, and even belly ache that union members are given paid holidays such as Christmas to spend with their loved ones.

The website seems to bemoan that Democrats tend to receive more union support than Republicans. Well maybe if more Republicans wouldn't vote with WalMart and big business to keep working people in poverty, then maybe more Republicans would receive union support.

The website even names so-called union related "crime" statistics. Yet this shadowy organization that runs this antiunion website is entirely secretive about who is behind it, their finances, or any opportunity for public examination of a criminal background check of their own background. But far right lobbyist Rick Berman is the head of this highly secretative organization. He is the registered owner of the name of the organization. United Press International found that this highly secretative and shadowy organization stubbornly refuses to disclose it's funding sources. But estimates are that Berman's group has raised about $2.5 million, but it is uncertain how much has gone into Berman's pocket as salary from this secretative organization.

Berman has a long and seedy history of dealing in falsehoods, smears and personal attacks in numerous screwball right wing organizations and frontgroups of his own design such as, The Center For Consumer Freedom, The Employment Policies Institute, The Employment Roundtable and Big tobacco, alcohol, fast food, and other economic exploiters have been Berman's bread and butter financing for his outrageous right wing clown activites. If history is any guide, Berman will raise money from his latest shadowy political frontgroup, close it up after the November election, then open another one later and repeat the process. Berman's business is setting up a far right screwball group, raising money, then closing up and beating it, only to appear later under a new name.

If Berman cares about honesty as much as he claims, he should begin by being open about his finances, truthful with facts, open and not secretative and shadowy. His organizations are purely political and should comply with elections laws and public disclosure.

And because there are ballot issues in states dealing with union issues or contracts, the ads by this organization may violate Federal election laws as an illegal 527 political committee that seeks to evade Federal public disclosure of finances. This organization may be an illegal attempt to circumvent election disclosure laws.

Amazingly this organization even has the sheer nerve to ask the reader for donations. But who with a right mind is going to pay these jokers to drive down their wages or take away their medical or dental benefits? And doesn't seeking donations for purely political activity make this a political organization that is required to comply with Federal elections laws.

Payday Loan Shark Industry Preys On Military Families

The battle against the immorality of the loan shark "payday loan" industry gained an important ally when the Department Of Defense has singled this criminal industry out for it's victimization of military families. Regardless of what one thinks about the Iraq War, it is a fact that many poorer younger persons enter military service because thay cannot afford college or need a paying job. These persons have no say in the wars that politicians send them off to, and are simply good working class persons who need work or help with college. Members of the military are deserving of respect and dignity regardless of the politics of war. It is a moral outrage when these members of the military are targeted for scams by criminals.

The loan shark "payday loan" industry seems to heavily target military families through advertising or other means, and a full 20% of users of these services are now military persons or their immediate families. Often military members or families find themselves between pay checks and require short term loans or pay advances to survive until their next pay cycle. This is where the criminal "payday loan" industry locks these military related persons in binding contracts with interest rates that run up to 500%. At these rates it is hard for poorer persons to break free of these criminal's bondage.

The Department Of Defense has singled out the State of Oregon for allowing the "payday loan" criminals a free hand to exploit military families. Republican legislators voted for a meaningless and watered-down bill to limit the "payday loan" and other related loan scam industries to a 36% interest rate cap, but the bill won't become law until way into 2007, allowing Republican legislators to further weaken or gut the bill entirely after the November election, which some have already promised to do. Republican legislators receive big donations from the "payday loan" scam criminals. During the 2004 Republican National Convention a major "payday loan" scam criminal was treated as royalty for donating in excess of $1 million to the national organization and party and driven to a NY diamond business to pick out diamonds for the women in his life as a thankyou gift from the Republican Party. The lesson in this is if exploit and victimize the poor, then the Republican Party will treat you like royalty.

The "payday loan" industry falsely claims that a 36% interest cap will force them out of business, when the truth is that some large and perfectly honest businesses such as CapitalOne usually charge no more than about 13% maximum interest on credit cards or other features. CapitalOne is also very flexible about offering credit cards or sometimes loans to persons who might be turned down by others. Rather than going into a terrible bindiing contract with "payday loan" crooks and scammers, CapitalOne offers a perfectly legal and honest alternative with fair and reasonable interest rates and they make payments very easy through flexible payment methods. Credit unions also offer low cost interest rates on short term loans and are a perfectly honest and legal alternative.

Military members and their familes deserve respect and dignity. Any industry that abuses them is antiAmerican.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Regis Philbin & David Hasselhoff; Airline Security Experts?

After the news of the British arrests in the airline terrorism plot, an almost circuslike atmosphere soon developed where unlikely blue-haired grandmother types, miles from any terrorism profile, were required to leave their bottles of Ensure back at the airport if they intended to board any departing airline flight.

The circuslike atmosphere only worsened when INSIDE EDITION interviewed AMERICA'S GOT TALENT stars, Regis Philbin and David Hasselhoff, for their opinions on this latest terrorism scare. Why these two were interviewed for their opinions on terrorism rather than any real experts on the subject is a very good question. But for an increasingly silly atmosphere surrounding this terrorism scare, it only seemed like a fitting escalation of the nonsense factor.

But why stop at just Regis Philbin or David Hasselhoff. Fellow AMERICA'S GOT TALENT judges, Brandy, and Simon Cowell clone judge, Piers Morgan, should not be ignored for their expertise on world terrorism.

But why stop at just the judges of AMERICA's GOT TALENT, when the acts can be included for their level of expertise on world terrorism. What does Bobby Badfingers have to say that is pertinent on the subject? How about the very flamboyant, nearly seven foot tall, Leonid The Magnificent, who dressed in a quasi-bridal gown and threw David Hasselhoff his bouquet. In a few scant moments of wild and weird neo-cross dressing entertainment, the entire Gay cause was set back nearly twenty years. But that hardly disqualifies him for his opinion on the worldwide Islamic Jihad. Or what about old-style burlesque dancer, Michele L'Amour, whose sexy cavorting and bra toss from the front of Kit(the talking Firebird) from KNIGHT RIDER, should not be construed not to mean that she is not a serious expert on issues of the roots of MidEast frictions. Or maybe, Quick Change, the amazing quick wardrobe change artists or Celtic Spring, the family of Celtic dancers and musicians, need to have their voices heard on the critically important issues of MidEast problems.

I actually like Regis Philbin and David Hasselhoff, and AMERICA'S GOT TALENT very much. And the wacky as well as good acts add a great deal to this fun show. It was one of the best summer programs ever. But just how Regis Philbin and David Hasselhoff ever were interviewed for their opinions on airline security issues is certainly far beyond me. Somehow entertainers seem to be often interviewed for their opinions on any topic simply because of their celebrity staus. This is just one part of the sheer strangeness of the public interest in celebrities. Their voices seem to get heard on issues that they sometimes have little expertise with.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The World According To Tzipi Livni

Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, has become a rising star in Israeli politics thanks to the war with Hezbollah in Lebanon. Yet she does little but defend the terrible destruction of lebanon that Israel pursued in their failed attack to uproot just 2,000 to 3,000 Hezbollah militants.

If anything the failed war not only has left Lebanon weaker and now gives Hezbollah an excellent opportunity for more power in the weakened national govenment, but the failed war also only invites more future aggression from Hezbollah, Syria and Iran. For Iran, this war may have become a dress rehearsal similar to the war in Spain that Nazi Germany supported in 1938. Unfortunately sometimes small wars like this only become a proving ground for weapons and military strategy for a larger conflict down the road in the future.

Tzipi Livni may be a rising political star in Israel. But she is only one of many who backed a policy that grossly failed to destroy the Hezbollah terrorist organization and actually weakened Israel by presenting a dangerous sense of weakness to Iran. This is indeed very serious, and only invites future war when Iran and Hezbollah are both stronger yet.

Not only did the war destroy many lives and the economy in Lebanon, but it broke the invincible reputation of the Israeli military and now invites only more war for the future. Iran and Hezbollah found a military strategy that works unfortunately and will only make future use of what they learned in this month long conflict when the current peace agreement fails in the future.

Mexico's Two-Faced Illegal Immigration Policy

There is ample evidence that the government of Mexico actively supports illegal immigration to the U.S. by supplying both maps and booklets on how not to caught by U.S. Immigration Agents and other information. For Mexico, next to the oil revenues, the funds that illegal immigrants to the U.S. send back to Mexico has become their second largest national revenue source. If the government of Mexico is so helpful in aiding illegal immigration to the U.S., then how come thay actively prevent both legal and illegal immigration to their country.

Last month alone, 300,000 illegal immigrants entered the U.S., yet in the last 20 years only a mere 15,000 immigrants from states like El Salvador, Honduras, or other South American countries have been allowed legal immigrant status and citizenship status in Mexico.

And illegal immigrants to Mexico must do all they can to avoid capture by corrupt or brutal Mexican police who will rob, beat or rape many of them. One entire police force in Mexico was entirely using stolen American automobiles for example.

It is very disappointing that Mexico does not truly stand behind human dignity and fair treatment. Their two-faced policy towards illegal immigration only serves the immediate economic purposes for Mexico and is hardly based on any principles of human respect.

Immigrants, both legal and not, only seek a better life for their families. Most are very productive and honest persons. But the Mexican nation stubbornly refuses to make the economy any more fair where 16 wealthy familes have a real lock on much of the nation's economy and much of the public shares very little of the economy of Mexico.

All humans are entitled to a decent life. While the U.S. can be blamed for NAFTA causing such a strong downturn in Mexican farm and agricultural income as American corporate agriculture only floods the Mexican market with low priced corporate agriculture grown wheat and corn, which has lowered agriculture incomes in Mexico by a third or more, still the economy of Mexico refuses to make those changes.

While some of his policy and other goals seem worrisome, still the leftist candidate for President of Mexico offfered some opportunity for change. You could just bet that the wealthy classes would not give up any power that easily. The status quo in Mexico is not likely to change soon. But more fairness at home would help to ease the illegal immigration frictions with the U.S. which are overloading state social service budgets and stretching tight funds intended for food, housing or medical care for the poor in the U.S. This competition for social services is cutting the pie only thinner for the poor. Mexico needs some serious economic reforms very soon to ease some of the problems of their own creation.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Pontiac Firebird Will Return For 2009 Year

Recently some news that General Motors will bring back a retro-styled Camaro for the 2008 model year was announced. But now it seems a few months later that Pontiac will bring back a new retro-styled Firebird that looks somewhat similar to the very popular Tran Am models of the 1970's, including hood graphics strikingly similar to the 70's Trans Am hood graphics.

No doubt this model will feature some sort of high perfmance V8, and despite rapidly increasing gas prices, aging baby boomer types who grew up with the Camaro and Firebird as young guys will want to own one in high enough numbers that these retro cars will prove popular enough to be profitable sellers for the struggling GM.

The retro-styled Ford Mustang has already proven iteself as a big hit among the public. High gas prices will not deter a determined market for fun retro cars. As bank accounts grow from aging baby boomers, the cash flow necessary to buy such higher dollar fun cars is there and these retro cars generally prove themselves to be a big hit with buyers. But a few recent retro styled cars such as the Ford Thunderbird never really ignited the public interest as well as it should of and was eventually dropped.

Other interesting retro or special interest cars such as the Chevy SSR are lower selling models due to a steep $39,000+ price range. The SSR looks like a 1950's styled truck in a retro sort of way but with a 390hp V8 and other awesome features.

Original 70's cars, especially the high performance models are gaining a higher and higher price on Ebay recently. Late 60's and 70's high performance cars like AMX, Javelin, Mustang, Challenger, Camaro, Firebird, Baracuda and others are gaining high prices. Some 426 Hemi powered Roadrunner models have even gone for absurd levels in private and Ebay auctions, including over $120,000.

Sometimes famous automoble names appear in a retro way on other items. Schwinn bicycles has a 2006 Gremlin model, which comes in green and is priced at $139.99. But the defunct American Motors Corporation whose assets were assimilated into Daimler-Chrysler is not likely to produce any retro Gremlin in the near future, however on Ebay the prices of 1970's Gremlins have taken a steep upward tun in the last few years. In fact just this year alone, three new diecast toy car replicas of 1970's AMC Gremlins have hit the market. Johnny Lightning has produced a super detailed 1/64 scale 1972 V8 model in silver and Motor Max has produced two beautiful 1974 Gremlin models in beautiful colors including a highly detailed 1/24 one with opening hood and doors. The smaller 1/64 model is also a real prize as well. So far the Johnny Lightning model has proven to draw the highest market values, although both Motor Max models should not be ignored. The 1/24 scale model is nearly the quality of Franklin Mint cars for a bargain prive of around $14.99.

But the American love affair with all things 70's seem to be manifesting itself in a robust market for retro automobiles as baby boomers with large portfolios seek out these fun automobile products either by a purchase of the restored or good condition original 70's cars or through the purchase of the new retro-styled models.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

How Long Will This Ceasefire Last?

There are few signs of the U.N. ceasefire that is to take place in 10hrs. and 32 minutes as I write this. By lastest count, Hezbollah has launched at least 230 rockets into Israel. Yesterday a reported 24 Israeli soldiers died in combat in Lebanon. And Israeli military offensives only continue.

Hezbollah, whose militia members only comprise 2,000 to 3,000 soldiers have declared victory in the conflict, and withstood one month of nearly the best that the 500,000 man Israeli army could muster against these terrorists. And Iran stands as the big winner in this conflict, proving that their Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces and Hezbollah fighters could battle Israel to a stalemate. Once Iran develops more longer range missiles and even nuclear weapons, then Iran gets stronger yet.

And Hezbollah now claims it will not allow itself to be disarmed, and Israel claims it will not withdraw from southern Lebanon until both Lebanese security forces and U.N. mandate peacekeepers are both in place, putting off an end to warfare by at least two weeks.

Unfortunately it appears that both Hezbollah and Israel only signed on to a ceasefire that they will both fail to comply with, both loking for wiggle room to seek a military advantage. Likely Hezbollah will only use the ceasefire to rearm and regroup, and warfare will once again break out very soon. This latest war was the result of the failure of the last U.N. peace attempt.

The unfortunate fact is that Iran is now far stronger in the region, with greatly increased clout. And in Israel, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will likely face a critical public, where both the left and right will attack his policies with the war, including his failure to achieve a clearcut military victory. By making Israel look weak in the face of Hezbollah will only help to encourage the next conflict. Iran cannot help but feel emboldened.

Israel's goals from the beginning were to degrade Hezbollah enough that their northern security would improve. But the continued rocket attacks and Hezbollah still standing strong one month later proves that the military effort by Israel didn't achieve as much as was hoped. Olmert was not a military man like Sharon. His former experience was as a mayor. This leaves both Olmert and his centrist political party likely to become a political victim of this war.

The coming ceasefire will likely not hold for very long. There is probably a lot more fighting between Israel and Hezbollah still left before any real peace in the region will hold for very long. If a war solves a region's problems, then at least it proved to have some sad value. But little was achieved so far, so one side or the other will want to achieve more before this fight is over.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Israel May Agree To Ceasefire

Because of frustration over the inability of Israel to contain nearly 200 Hezbollah rockets launched each day at Israel and the inability to control just 2,000 or 3,000 Hezbollah fighters with the 500,000 man Israeli army, Israel may give the U.N. ceasefire and diplomacy and peacekeeping a chance.

This frustration must send some alarms through U.S. Iraq War planners who have so far failed to control thousands of insurgents, terrorists and militia members by the 135,000 American troop forces in Iraq.

All of this only proves just how difficult it is to contain modern guerillia warfare for modern armies. The modern military has yet to develop war strategy that can contain very small guerillia forces and win.

It will interesting to see if the MidEast ceasefire and peace agreement does move forward or not. It will also be interesting to see if Hezbollah radicalism can truly be contained or not. Whether this peace can hold and what kind of force will create the southern Lebanon buffer zone is yet to be seen.

MONK, THE CLOSER, Are Top TV Draws This Summer

Cable Tv programming has taken great advantage of relatively weak summer network programming to offer ratings strong cable original programming. Last week, THE CLOSER, drew an audience of 6.9 million. A huge draw for a cable original series program. Professional wrestling, WWE RAW, drew 5.4 million viewers. The quirky and funny detective dramamedy, MONK, drew 5.3 million viewers. And other favorites such as USA's ,PSYCH, is a quick new favorite at 4.7 million viewers. TNTs, SAVED, garners 3.6 million a week. And the Disney children's comedy, SUITE LIFE OF ZACK & CODY, starring two twin brothers living in a hotel with their single mother has perhaps some of the funniest comedy writing material on TV that I've seen. This program is up to usual Disney quality standards of programming excellence by all means.

With the exception of two strong NBC summer series, AMERICA'S GOT TALENT and LAST COMIC STANDING, network summer replacements have tended to be very weak, and the cable series have been able to take good advantage of this weakness. During the fall, cable will return to reruns for a while, while many new network programs will be given a chance to succed or fail with the public. But for this summer, cable has drawn some of the best ratings ever for original series.

The Personal Computer Turns 25 Today

Perhaps the greatest invention of the last 25 years has been the personal computer. The first IBM models that originally sold for between $1600 to $2500 are turning 25 today. Since that time, Bill Gates, Paul Allen and others with the invention of greatly advanced operating systems, greatly improved harddrives and memory have transformed the personal computer into not only a great home office or educational device, but an all around home entertainment device.

Today some newer computers feature TV tuners that can write high resolution 720 by 480 pixel resolution line DVDs of recorded TV shows. The growth of the PC into an all around home entertainment device is growing. This is far from the days of mere ability to play or record audio CDs of music.

This is not to say that the home personal computer is not without it's frustrations. Spam Emails, unwanted adult content Emails sent to children or others, viruses, intrusion attempts in the absense of adequate firewalls, internet worms, etc., along with the technical shortcomings of some Mircosoft software that is still in it's relative technical infancy. The latest computers that combine TV tuner technology in MCE editions are a real source of frustration to many users because of technical shortcomings due to the newness of these type of computers. Microsoft attempts to offer new patches for programs that sometimes work and sometimes do not.

But 25 years from the first German and later American designed automobiles of the late 1800's. 1924 or 1925 automobiles were still very primitive compared today's computer assisted automobiles that carefully manage every drop of fuel. The home PC is yet to undergo a huge growth in the future of technology.

When the home PC is 50, 75 or 100 years old, it will be an amazing device compared to today's units. For today, these devices seem adequate for many tasks, but huge quality and performance improvements are absolutely certain to take place. Unlike any other area of technology, the home PC and the current Windows XP operating systems will undergo change with growing new technology.

Who could have guessed that some work by Bill Gates and Paul Allen could have helped to advance the first primitive PCs so far so fast. And with the technology and information explosion, you can certainly expect major changes each and every year, only building on themselves to create products that will look little like today's PCs in a few years. Happy Birthday PC. You changed the world.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Latest Terrorism Scare No Help To Democrats

With the victory of antiwar candidate Ned Lamont in Connecticut and the latest terrorism scare coming from England today, Democrats are likely in somewhat worst position than when they started this week. Only that no aircraft bombing actually took place was the only saving grace for the Democrats this week. Yet this doesn't need to be. Democrats could win foreign policy and terrorism arguments if they only would lift a finger to become literate on MidEast events and history and investigate the Republican record since the Reagan years of foreign policy failures that have only increased the threats from Islamic revolutionaries.

During the Reagan Administration, Agriculture Department CCC funds intended to offer natural disaster relief to foreign nations were used in an illegal Reagan foreign policy to allow Saddam Hussein to spend billions on French and Brazilian arms after the Soviet Union had declared a regional arms embargo to dry up the supply of regional arms during the Iran-Iraq War. This was intended to give Iraq a military advantage over Iran as well as undermined the efforts of the Soviets to force a ceasefire among Iran and Iraq and a peace treaty. The result of this illegal Reagan policy was that Saddam Hussein's Iraqi war machine became so large that he invaded Kuwait in 1990 over an oil dispute, which directly caused the 1991 Gulf War. Any problems with Iraq had their roots in the illegal Reagan Republican foreign policy aimed at building up the dictator Saddam Hussein and his military into a huge war machine compared to other MidEast states.

Another bad milepost in the Reagan Administration years was the illegal and covert CIA war against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The Reagan Administration along with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia helped to establish Mujahedeen fighter training camps throughout remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Saudi Arabia brought in Osama Bin Laden to establish many of these terrorist training camps and with the financial and arms help of the CIA, Osama Bin Laden's Al Qaeda organization and the Taliban got their roots in this illegal covert foreign policy. The Soviets were acting in regard to the stated 1968 Brezhnev Doctrine to shore up a wobbly Communist regimes as well as opposing a creeping Muslim revolutionarism similar to that of Iran. Instead of behaving in a Cold Warrior way, Reagan only helped to promote the growth of Al Qaeda using CIA funds and arms and helped to promote the worldwide growth of terrorism. Many of the terrorist leaders in Iraq are former Afghanistan War veterans including the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Al Qaeda's #2, Dr. Ayman al-Zawhiri. It is failed Republican foreign policy during the Reagan years that directly built the Al Qaeda network into today's current threat.

In Iraq, the Republican string of foreign policy failures only continued as this very poorly conceived war only further destablized the MidEast and has dramaticly increased the clout of Iran's brand of revolutionary Shia radical Islam. Now Iran has a strong string of power that sweeps across the MidEast, and only promises the future undermining of the more moderate Sunni governments in the region. As Iran consolidates more MidEast power and develops and proliferates nuclear arms throughout the region a serious world war threat to the Western world only grows.

While the Sunni Muslims are far more pragmatic and willing to be become constructive world community members, the regrowth of Islamic radicalism only promises future dangers. To many of the more radical in Islam, paradise can only be gained if a Muslim loses their life fighting an unbeliever. This oftwen means death for both, not a simple religious faith conversion. In 628 the Prophet Muhammed was rejected by Jewish tribes who rejected him as the final prophet. This led to conflict between believers in early Islam and the Jewish community. Muhammad offered a 10 year peace offer, but then attacked these Jewish tribes in open warfare. Since that time after the death of Muhammad, two separate groups of followers developed that followed different family members or others, and the Shia tended to be far more radical than the Sunni followers. By the Middle Ages, three times there were attempts by Muslims to overrun and impose their faith on Vienna and all of Europe. The problems in Bosnia were among pockets of Muslim still left over from previous Muslim rule over much of Europe. In WWI, Turkey wgich represented the last years of the Ottoman Empire aligned with Germany in hopes of asserting Muslim control over parts of Europe. Rome and other areas could have easily fallen under Muslim control if Turkey had won this war. Only after the 1924 revolution in Turkey was the last of the Ottoman rulers replaced with a more secular Muslim regime less bent on worldwide Muslim religious domination.

The Ned Lamont's of the Democratic Party seem to know nothing of any of this history. Much like an ostrich, they hope that a simple withdrawal from Iraq will solve all the MidEast problems. But this naive world view only promises more future conflict between the world of revolutionary Islam and the Western world. Some have recently praised the fact that Ned Lamont hasn't got a clue on some issues as though this is an asset. Unless he manages to become very literate on issues by November, he may run third in the race with the Republican or Lieberman squeeking out ahead.

The problems of the MidEast are very complex. And the Republicans only have tended to much worsen them, erasing all the peaceful efforts of both Carter and Clinton. If Democrats would know more about the MidEast history and the Reagan era Republican failures, then they could win any argument on the MidEast with Republicans. But somehow this just seems to be too much effort on the part of many Democrats where history books seem like Kryptonite to many of them, and they prefer the easy and lazy path of merely wanting out of Iraq now that things aren't going very well. Well, things in the MidEast are far more complicated than that now. We've made a real mess in the MidEast with failed policies and unless the U.S. makes the effort to restablize this mess it will only bite the U.S. over and over again. The Republicans are able to capitalize off of a Democratic spirit of laziness and ignorance about the MidEast although it was the Republican foreign policy disasters that brought us here. Because of this, Democrats are only one terrorist act from complete electoral disaster in November. You have to give both parties a great deal of credit for the sheer mountain of problems that they create for themselves and for the U.S. and the Western world. But how Muslim moderates can gain more strength in face of Islamic revolutionarism is a very good question.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Muddy Political Waters Of Connecticut

Now that the dust has settled on the complicated Democratic Senate primary in Connecticut, my first reaction is where to even start. Boy oh boy, what a convoluted mess. Rather than clarifying very much the election has only created a complicated election mess for November as well as sent contradictory election messages to the major parties.

On one hand it can be said that a very narrow majority of very liberal voters were able to topple a sitting senator over the Iraq War issue within the Democratic Party. The problem is that that this slender majority hardly was enough to send a political earthquake out to revolutionize the party. But it does say that a new "McGovernism" urge is growing within the party due to opposition to the Iraq War.

The slender majority also says something as well. As disgusted as many are with the Iraq War, there is little easy way out of this war now that the mistake has been made to start this war. The urge to simply withdraw from Iraq is not hardly a realistic one from the standpoint of practical foreign policy. One one hand the amount of violence and civil unrest and sectarian violence that we have unleashed in Iraq is certainly the fault of this failed policy to enter Iraq. But the violence level is now so high that basic human decency calls for the U.S. to stand up Iraqi forces enough to defend their own nation against lawlessness because no good policeman can simply allow a climate of crime and lawlessness to flourish.

Another problem is that the Ned Lamont's offer little in the way of a solution to putting the genie of violence that the U.S. has unleashed back into the bottle. It is very naive to expect that if the U.S. simply goes into a new isolationism from the MidEast that Islamic radicalism will not grow over there and come back with terrorism to impact the U.S. here and abroad. On one hand the U.S. presense certainly worsens things in the MidEast, but then again the lack of any U.S. presense over there will also worsen things.

Part of the Ned Lamont campaign was bolstered by the reality that the U.S. cannot win in Iraq. It is a hopeless effort. But the lack of any presense to set up some sort of civil order there will also come back to bite the U.S., so the situation has become something of a terrible "catch 22".

The Ned Lamont campaign also represented a cultural values conflict with the deeply traditionally religious Joe Lieberman. Strong humanist and ACLU traditions run in the Lamont faimly background vs. the much more traditionally strong morality of Joe Lieberman's Orthodox Jewish faith. There is a something of antireligious revolt among some very liberal Democrats that goes far beyond just a reaction to Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson.

The Ned Lamont campaign did involve more of a grassroots populism than many analysts have noted. For a cable TV millionaire to carry out this sense of the "little guy" vs. Washington so well was something of political victory for the Lamont campaign, and does hold some promise for a new leftist populism to inspire voters.

Joe Lieberman has painted himself as something of a sore loser by his plans to run as an independent in November as though the political parties and their primaries now mean nothing. It could also mean that a three way race splits the vote enough that the Republican candidate wins in November. This is hardly any gain for the Democrats or their positions on issues.

Well a book could be written on the election fallout from this primary. But this is the nutshell version. Rather than clarification of very much, this primary only set up the worst possible political mess for the voters of Connecticut in November or gave the Democratic Party nationally any green light for a single policy direct and may have even emboldened Republican supporters of the Bush Iraq War policy somewhat and in the end, hardly setttled anything at all.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

White House Celebrates Year Old "Energy Policy", Calling It "A Great Day"

Energy Secretary, Samuel Bodman today celebrated the one year old White House "Energy Policy", calling it " a great day". Instead of providing any needed relief of pump prices or energy independence for the U.S., gas pump prices are up a full 30% since this "Energy Policy" went into effect. Big companies such as Exxon are posting record profits such as their latest report of $10 billion dollars, which if the dollar bills would stacked on top of each other could reach to the moon and back twice.

The White House plan offered millions in tax breaks and other "incentives" to the oil industry. But so far no discernable increase in oil supply and only huge price increases have seemed to result since this policy took effect.

Like so many other White House policies, the "Energy Policy" is little more than another givaway to megabusiness while the consumer is left on the short end.

While the White House may be all smiles and want to crack open the cigars and drinks and celebrate, motorists are only left with higher and higher gas prices while the big oil companies profits only grow. This is only another example of the class war against the working class by the wealthy interests who puppeteer and control the White House.

Global Warming Creating A "Dead Zone" Of Dead Fish On Oregon Coast

While some conservatives still attempt to claim that global warming is a "myth", more physical proof of this climate change is resulting in more dead fish washing ashore in Oregon as the deep ocean water becomes oxygen depleted and sealife is dying.

As the oxygen becomes depleted in the deeper water levels due to climate changes created by global warming, deep water sealife such as ratfish, greenling, rockfish and even crabs seek water with enough oxygen to support life, but then wash up dead on the Oregon coastline.

Part of the depleting of oxgen may be due to small plants in deep water dying and their decomposition robbing the deep ocean waters of a higher oxygen content. Pollution does not appear to be a key, but wind related conditions tied to global warming.

Native American Indian nations who have a long history with nature have observed this dead zone of dead fish washing ashore for the fifth year in a row. This is the only time period in their long history that they have ever witnessed such a phenomenon.

Science patterns teach us that when nature dies, then man eventually dies. And with this slow death of the ocean due to global warming, mankind may find their own death somewhere in the future. A great deal of Asian societies count on the sea for food. If sealife dies, then starvation and famine may eventually result in poorer less developed nations whose survival counts on the sea for it's food supply.

Joe Lieberman's Day Of Reckoning

Today is the very important Connecticut Senate race primary election between Senator Joe Lieberman and millionaire cable TV businessman, Ned Lamont. The Iraq War is the central issue that divides the two candiates as well as a further cultural divide.

Orthodox Jew, Joseph Lieberman, is by all appearances a very decent and honest man, but among the culturally liberal, this senator's value system may have worn out any welcome. In keeping with the values of his faith which hold compassion for the poor and downtrodden in high regard, while being critical of excesses in the entertainment industry. Cultural liberals may find this a real friction point. However support for the Iraq War, which also served the interests of Lieberman's faith to rid the MidEast of Saddam Hussein has given Ned Lamont his most potent issue.

Ned Lamont is a far more secular man. I cannot easily find any reference to faith in his background, which is not to say that he many not have a religious identification. But a strong family background with interests in humanism as well as support for ACLU activity are in the close relative background of his family. And with his cable TV background, he is probably far less of a cultural conservative than Lieberman, and less likely to support cultural censorship schemes in Congress. But then again, most in the Senate get involved in a cultural groupthink that holds up the most most conservative positions on cultural issues, either out of fear, or worry of offending voters.

The election in Connecticut will be an interesting bellweather of where the Democratic Party is headed. It will measure the strength of the left in the Democratic Party and decide whether the left can appeal to enough voters to win elections, or that moderate independent voters and more conservative Democrats will continue to often side with Republicans, continueing to give them a national ruling majority.

Joe Lieberman may represent where many voters are in Connecticut, but he may not be where the rising liberal base in the Democratic Party are politically or culturally. But whether Ned Lamont represents the new base of the Democratic Party is also a good question. The most liberal in the Democratic Party are also the most active in party politics. Will the Democratic Party go back to a George McGovern type leftism that cannot win elections, or can they convince enough voters to win elections? My best guess is that while I certainly agree with many of the goals of the rising left in the Democratic Party, they may be risking losing many moderate voters in the overall voting population. For some reason, I fear the largely probusiness Republican Party may yet be able to further capitalize off of this and further their control of U.S. national politics. Serious doubts about unworkable U.S. foreign policy goals of the rising left in the Democratic Party may continue to leave Democrats in the minority in national elections. Sometimes a slight compromise of your values in order to build the largest electoral majority is the most wise path. Yet the right wing radicalism of some in the Republican Party has seldom seemed to cost too many elections compared to the cost of the left to Democrats.

At any rate, today will be an interesting bellweather of the state of the soul in the Democratic Party.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Did The U.S. And Israel Overplay Their Hand In The MidEast?

An important factor to consider is whether both the U.S. and Israel were lured into a false sense of military superiority that mislead war planners and politicians in both nations into assuming they could defeat terrorist militias.

In Iraq, the situation just continues to go from bad to worse, where the chance of a satisfactory U.S. achievement there becomes more and more slim. Will inurgents, terrorists and antiU.S. militia groups only number several thousand members, it is more than all the 135,000 American soldiers and their foreign allies and Iraqi military and police can handle.

In Israel, a false sense of military superiority misled the govenment led by a new Prime Minister without the military experience of Sharon into assuming that a military of 500,000 members could easily defeat 2,000 to 3,000 Hezbollah insurgents. Hezbollah appears to be very durable and has withstood weeks of intense bombings and still manages to fire nearly as many rockets and missiles as they did in the first days of the war.

Both Israel and the U.S. share similar equipment and military skills abilities. But once terrorists, insurgents or militia members pull these modern armies down to their level of guerilla warfare, then these terrorist forces appear to be durable enough to survive, resupply and bring in replacements.

In both situations it was a mistake of these first world armies to assume they could defeat these insurgent, terrorist or militia members. Right now no good military model exists for first world nations to beat guerilla forces of these types. In both situations both Israel and the U.S. are locked in a war of wills. How either nation can exit either situation and save face is yet to be seen. But so far it seems like neither Israel or the U.S. have any good plan to win their respective conflicts. Wars are always easy to enter, but far harder to leave.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Rob Schneider Offers Some Empty Action Against Mel Gibson

I personally like Rob Schneider. He's actually a very nice fellow. But he makes some of the very worst imaginable movies. Only in terms of laughing at his films because they are so bad is any real enjoyment ever found. DUECE BIGALOW EUROPEAN GIGOLO was almost universally seen as the very worst movie of a year ago. I enjoyed this film only by laughing at the sheer awfulness of it, much like you enjoy the ineptness of an Ed Wood film. And other Rob Schneider bombs such as THE HOT CHICK, which Disney's Touchstone Pictures actually had the nerve to produce and market, are incomprehensibly awful and just plain head scratching.

One especially tough critic once even contended that in a film in which Rob Schneider had replaced Adam Sandler because of a previous filming obligation, was like "filling your gas tank with urine instead of unleaded". Ouch.

But I can also understand Rob Schneider's unhappiness at Mel Gibson. His anti-semite comments in his drunken state say much about the real character of Mel Gibson, and that he is really not a very guy at all unlike Rob Schneider. But Rob Scheider took out an ad on the Website of Variety to post an ad that he will never star in any film with Mel Gibson. Don't worry Rob. An "A" list celebrity like Mel Gibson is hardly likely to want to hinge his name on to the box office poison associated with "D" list celebrity Rob Schneider. But that is not to say that Rob Schneider is not a far better human being than Mel Gibson.

The new images of a totally stewed Mel Gibson with some foolish women at a bar wanting to be seen with him for a keepsake picture opt to bring home is simply pathetic. And his film, THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST dwelled solely on the horrors of the death of Jesus, offered no positive spiritual lessons from the life of Jesus conveying his wonderful sermons or life examples, and only seemed to blame Jews at every turn for the framing and execution death.

By comparison Rob Schneider quietly works behind the scenes by work with a charity foundation that he started, The Rob Schneider Music Foundation, to inspire, assist and encourage the value of music education among middle school and high school students. Mel Gibson may even help to sow the seeds of prejudice against Jews with the hidden agenda anti-semitism of his PASSION film, but Schneider at least elevates the arts and what is positive about culture by comparison.

Unbelievably, Rob Schneider actually got an early career start playing an Elvis impersonator in Japan. Maybe looks like Elvis over there. But his singing skills are actually very good. A high point for Rob Schneider was an appearance on Conan O'Brien's show and doing, Old McDonald Had A Farm as Elvis. Sometimes Rob Schneider inspires very warm feelings in an appearance like that. In another appearance he was ever so grateful to NBC which gave his MEN BEHAVING BADLY show many more chances than it really deserved. Only a very decent man could be so grateful in the face of a TV show cancellation. Other celebrities such as Jenny McCarthy were simply heartbroken when their show was cancelled. Kelly Rippa was very sad when HOPE & FAITH was cancelled because she loved the show so much. Rob Schneider was the most grateful and understanding man that I had ever seen in the face of a show cancellation.

Like many former SNL former cast members who went on to later TV and movie failures, Rob Schneider has faced setbacks at nearly every turn. But that is not to say that that this very nice man does not deserve another chance with the right script. Rob Schneider is a well liked man because he is so decent. That says a lot.