Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Senator Joseph Biden Begins His Losing Bid For President

As far as qualifications go, Senator Jseph Biden is by all means a highly qualified candidate. As far as fund raising ability and the ability to put together a viable campaign, Senator Biden might as well accept that he has already lost the election. This is the cruel reality of politics.

A serious candidate like Joseph Biden, probably one of the most expert in the Senate with foreign policy matters hasn't a ghost of a chance when running against a candidate like Hillary Clinton with strong support in business community circles and fund raising skills, along with the knack for perfect photo opts and making carefully constructed statements and other skills lacking from a serious Biden run for president.

Being a decent and honorable candidate like a Biden simply isn't enough to win. Money is the mother's milk of politics, and no Democrat in recent times has proven any ability whatsoever to match the Clinton dynasty in this department. In politics, unless you can attract the money to pay, you simply can't play. That's the cold reality.

Bush Gives Seperate STATE OF THE ECONOMY Speech To Wall Street

As yet another sign of the two tier White House under Bush that operates heavily in the interests of the big business community versus the larger public interest, this morning Bush is offering a seperate State Of The Economy speech. The State Of The Union address was used as a public relations effort to the larger comunity, while the group far more responsible for placing Bush in office and far more benefitting from him receive the more far important State Of The Economy address. This speech wil highlight all the tax cuts to the big corporations and all the budget cuts to schools, police, the poor, handicapped, the elderly.

This address to the powerful big business interests will lay out the basis for the "balanced budget" proposal that Bush claims to support and claims will sumbit to Congress, despite huge spending on the Iraq War and other budget breakers. Social programs will certainly take a huge hit in this budget, while the big business community will receive huge favors. Bush is also proposing cutting farm supports, further endangering the family farm in favor of the big corporate entities.

This is the way this current White House has always operated, as the agents of a big business oligarchy who actually control the politics and policies of the Bush government. Little did the voters realize that in the 2000 election that they were actually voting to change the nature of our government without any formal changes made to the U.S. Constitution.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Business Lobby Interests Bottlenecking Minimum Wage Increase In Senate

Big business lobby interests have been pressuring Republican senators to bottleneck the minimum wage increase proposal in the U.S. Senate that was passed by a wide 82 vote majority in the U.S. House in their flurry of 100 hours of bill passing.

Just like past attempts to increase the minimum wage which were bottlenecked by addition of numerous probusiness amendments since the last increase in 1996, this latest attempt to increase the minimum wage is being gutted into a largely probig business bill, with any wage increase buried in a mountain of unacceptable big busines give-aways.

Instead of a straight up or down vote on the house version of the bill, debate today starts in the senate, which will no doubt center on the numerous amendment proposals.

Voters in many states voted overwelming for minimum wage increase proposals at the state level in the last two election cycles. Voters overwelmingly voted for change in congress this past November, including for Democratic candidates supporting platform proposals such as more worker and consumer friendly proposals such as increasing the minimum wage. Living is very expensive. Rent, food, health care, heat and gasoline have all seen sharp inflation since the last minimum wage hike in 1996. A wage increase for America's hard pressed working class is long overdue.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Big Changes For Air America; Also Big Questions

There is certainly a sizable audience for a progressive take on the news and a gathering point for progressive discussion, yet Air America never seemed to be financially managed quite as well as their conservative counterparts. But Air America is hoping to enter a new era when real estate developer, Stephen Green, brother of well known New York politician, Matk Green, purchases the financially struggling radio network and hopes to remake the network into a viable news, talk and opinion option for radio audiences. A bankruptcy court will have to approve the purchase by Green.

Another big change is that Al Franken, one of the most important founders of Air America will leave next month and be replaced by Porland, Oregon based talk show host, Thom Hartmann. Comic Al Franken is exploring a possible run for the senate from his home state of Minnesota. However, Franken and other founding members of Air America's inability to sell more advertising and better financially manage the affairs of Air America cannot be a good selling point to the voters back in Minnesota. A far better claim to voters is the ability to run a successful business and create a near Horatio Alger success story of a business. Al Franken is a likable and friendly man, but no major comic has ever made a serious run for a political office, and whether voters can warm up to electing a comic is a major question mark.

Whether Air America finally gets the type of financial management that it has always lacked, and whether voters in Minnesota eventually elect the first comic as U.S. senator are two big questions where the answers yet remain to be seen.

Goofy Book Of The Week: Dinesh D'Souza's THE ENEMY AT HOME

At first glance, Dinesh D'Souza's new nonfictiction work may fool a few casual book previewers as a serious work on terrorism, but a closer examination quickly reveals only a work that a few social social conservatives are likely to embrace that acts as more of an indictment of American popular culture than anything.

While D'Souza does point out that generally Europeans are offended by the "Red state" culture of the U.S. that embraces reactionary and often racist values, D'Souza is quick to claim that Muslim cultures and terrorists in particular are somehow moltivated to react against what they view as a "decadent depraced culture" of the U.S. However, D'Souza seems to miss the point that Al Qaeda and Bin Laden both cited Israel and the U.S. support for Israel as a key moltivation for both attacks on the World Trade Center buildings. In fact, the night before the second and far more devastating attacks on the World Trade Center buildings of 9/11, several of the 9/11 hijackers including terrorist cell leader, Mohamed Atta, spent hundreds of dollars at a strip club stuffing dollar bills in dancer's g-strings. There was no sense of Muslim religious indignation keeping these terrorists from watching strippers or hanging around in an alcohol establishment, all things that would offend normal Muslim morality standards.

Further, it seems highly unlikely that Britney Spears latest antics or some pornographic website will moltivate any terrorist to react against the U.S., although D'Souza's wacky thesis seems to implicate American popular culture as the main moltivating culprit creating a Muslim terrorsim backlash against the "decadent depraved" Western values of the U.S. In fact . many foreign cultures such as China, with very conservative social values have a huge interest in Western culture such as Britney Spears. China's largest newspaper, Xinhua, hardly can go for more than a day or two withour some new huge Britney Spears feature. Many Muslim societies have open air markets with both legal and counterfeited Cds and DVDs of Western films and music, and buyers cannot seem to get enough. North Korea's wacky leader, Kim Jong-Il is also a huge fan of Western films and even put up the production money on another nation for a movie that he wanted made, which to say the least was very bad.

D'Souza's book simply represents the latest attempt by social conservatives to ramp up fears of terrorism and force some brakes on American culture. The book is not a serious study of terorism, nor expands an understanding of how to combat it. A few televangelists and conservative clergy members will embrace this new book and even quote from it. But it will have a zero impact on serious foreign policy discussions.

Here's to you, author Dinesh D'Souza, this week's proud recepitant of our "Goofy Book Of The Week " honors. Congratulations. You can find new D'Souza's book or not at your local booksellers.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Better TV To Watch Than Trump's APPRENTICE Tonight

Here's the second installment in my now weekly feature that offers decent TV alternatives to Trump's APPRENTICE on NBC. I know it's the end of January, the dog days of TV before the beginning of the big February sweeps period, so you can expect the last few days of January to be a dumping ground for reruns and other junk until the big February sweeps starts. But short of looking for a Sunday evening Dentist for a root canal to spend time avoiding Trump's APPRENTICE, a few good alternatives do exist this evening.

A brand new FAMILY GUY and AMERICAN DAD are airing tonight on FOX. Compared to Trump's brutish and denegrating style, with promo ads that make him seem almost Frankenstein's monsterlike airing this week on NBC, FAMILY GUY and AMERICAN DAD are clever satire and well written. These are a definate best bet.

A second outing for the SCI FI networks new supernatural detective drama, THE DRESDEN FILES airs tonight. If you missed last week's premiere episode, you can catch it at 8PM just before the 9PM new episode.

CBS is airing a made for TV movie, THE VALLEY OF LIGHT. This may be alright to watch. But you only find space-saver stuff like made for TV movies in ratings lull periods like this, and when better programming like a new episode of WITHOUT A TRACE Is awaiting to air during the more critical February sweeps period. Don't hold high expectations for any made for TV movie run in this ratings lull period, but the storyline does look promising enough to spend some time over at CBS.

NBC's GREASE, a decent and worthwhile program goes two hours tonight, starting at 7PM. This may be too long for even a good thing, and the highly entertaining DEAL OR NO DEAL lead-in is sadly missing for this Sunday. But GREASE is great entertainment and worth catching. So is the excellent drama series, CROSSING JORDAN at 10PM. But once again, it's the obnoxious Trump program at 9PM that spoils an otherwise decent evening of programming over at NBC. But a little channel switching at 9PM can save an eveing otherwise ruined by Donald Trump's loud and abusive rants and beratings of a few unlucky souls only seeking to work in the Donald's business empire.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Consumers And Credit Card Practices Finally Get A Fair Hearing In New Congress

One major sea change in the new Democratic Congress is that consumers can finally get a fair hearing compared to the last 12 years of Republican rule since the 1994 "Newt Gingrich revolution". As late as 2005 the big credit card companies helped to write that year's "bankruptcy reform" bill. This past week, the same big credit companies were put under the microscope of the Senate's Banking Committee, chaired by ranking Democrat, Christopher Dodd(D-CT).

Testimony indicated that while credit companies earned about $79 billion in interest in the last calendar year, nearly $17 billion of this total was unfair and excessive late fees to consumers. In fact, the credit card companies really earn nothing from those who pay off their credit card bills in less than 30 days, really constituting little more than a short term interest-free loan for these persons and clearly acting as an encouragement for credit card companies to encourage persons who cannot pay debts off in 30 days or less, or who are likely to pay off late, but not default to be recruited by the credit card companies. In other words, persons with some risk, but not to the level of bankruptcy, are the best financial payoffs for the credit card industry.

The question for the Senate Banking Committee will be how to best protect consumers from unfair late fees and also to prevent consumers from allowing themselves to fall into credit card debt holes. But credit card companies will not want to give up their vast incomes that thrive on wall to wall TV ads that ask the question, "What's in your wallet?'. Chances are that many users of this and other credit card services may have a nearly empty wallet, but a mailbox full of monthly credit card bills to pay, and trapped in years of debt at steep interest rates.

San Francisco HMO Warns Nurse Of Termination For Iraq Medical Duty

At one time some thought that HMOs would be a solution to lowering health care costs, instead medical costs just seem to escalate upwards. Nearly as bad are the labor practices of some HMOs. A large San Franciso based HMO is now the center of conflict where a nurse in the U.S. Army Reserves is being threatened with termination due to medical duty in Iraq. Under federal law, such termination is supposed to be illegal. The same HMO has also logged in 8,000 labor complaints in 2006, a sharp 50% increaes from the previous year.

It seems that HMOs are not only bad for the persons enrolled in the system, but the workforce suffers as well. In Portland, Oregon a large HMO with medical offices lost many of their finest doctors when the doctor's pay was cut and the patient workload was increased. Many quality younger doctors first became members of this HMO when it paid their very expensive malpractice insurance costs and provied them office space to work from. For many young medical doctors, still repaying college loans, this system looked like an attractive lure to work as an HMO doctor. But the system quickly soured them with the low pay and increasingly demanding workload. The problems with HMOs just seems to grow, along with doctor, patient and public dissatisfaction. Big business solutions to lower health care costs just don't seem to work. Yet it is a complex problem how to spur more medical equipment and research investments and provide quality health care to all Americans, imcluding those who are in poverty and cannot afford even basic coverage.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Windows Vista Finally Gets A Tuesday Rollout Date

The long awaited, as well as long delayed, new Windows operating system, Windows Vista, will finally get a Tuesday rollout date. As far back as November the newer replacement for Windows XP, the 2005 operating system has been awaited by many PC users. Like the retiring XP operating system, Vista will have several versions available including Home Basic, Business, Premium and Vista Ultimate. Some companies such as HP will likely offer the Home Basic version with their new computers starting Tuesday, with other versions featured as options to drive the price of units up. HP does offer some good deals on refurbished computers, and after Tueday there may be some good deals available on the existing computers with the old XP system or among the refurbished models.

The new operating system does feature some reported improved reliability and performance features. One of the biggest shortcomings was the growth of some PCs with TV tuners under the older Windows XP Media Center Edition, but some real short comings such as the Sonic Encoder or similiar program software had to be used in order to create DVDs playable on other DVD units other than the computer that the DVD is produced on. In addition the DVDs also were produced not in true stereo, but a sort of double mono sound. Compared to even the old VCRS or stand-alone DVD recorders, this was pretty disappointing. Microsoft certainly could have done far better than this. Whether this marriage of computer and TV technology becomes any better this time around remains to be seen.

Tuesday will become a big day for Windows users, with a host of high expectations, as well as first year new security problems to be nearly certain.

False Claims Of Barack Obama Education In Islamic Madrassa Originate With Moonie Controlled Media

This week the credibility of right wing proponents Rush Limbaugh, Melanie Morgan, Lee Rodger and John Gibson took a big hit this week when they were caught red-handed in forwarding the absurdly false story started by the Moonie controlled that falsely claimed that U.S. Senator Barack Obama attended an Islamic Madrassa and then blamed Hillary Clinton's campaign as the source of the story. The truth as CNN and other credible news media pointed out in both words and video reports was that as a young child, Barack Obama attended a public school in Indonesia where only most enrolled students were Muslim, but many Christian and Buddhist students were also attending as well.

The Moonie website has had several days to run a retraction of their clearly false story yet as of today false claims such as, "Are the America people ready for an elected president who was educated in a Madrassa....", still remains posted on the website.

When this story first broke a few days ago, it was raised here as well. But with a skeptical question raised as few details were available to add any credibility to the story. This update should suffice to set the record straight on the latest facts about this story and the grossly factually wrong original claims by the Moonie controlled media that was blatantly wrong but has made no attempt so far to set the record straight .

Chinese AntiSatellite Missile Test May Result In More American Caution In High Technology Trade

The trade deficit with China is so one-sided, at just $41 billion of U.S. exports to China compared to $631.8(2005 estimate) that for many years very few real checks and balances were on dual use American technology that may have supplied China's military with American high tech goods that may have greatly improved Chinese missiles and other military goods. But now the recent Chinese successful test of the antisatellite weapon has raised new fears that the U.S. was way too lax on some technology transfers with China. In fact only about $12.5 million in U.S. technology exports were actually restricted, with only about 6% of the total of $41 billion in U.S. exports even questioned by U.S. trade officials. Only one American trade official is even stationed in China for example.

Another potentially dangerous area of lax security standards in dealing with China has been U.S. military contractors having many missile component's electronic systems actually produced in China in order to cut down on far higher American labor costs. This has raised questions of the Chinese military building either tracking or failure weaknesses into these American-imported military use electronic components.

All of this should have been a concern so long ago. But then again American corporate greed to utilize cheap Chinese labor or sell goods, even those with vital security risk concerns, has been ignored and sacrificed a significant amount of American military superiority to a military rival like China.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Ongoing Battle For Haifa Street

If anything sets an example of the desperate security situation in Iraq, then it's the ongoing battle on Baghdad's Haifa Street. For weeks, U.S. and Iraqi forces have failed to contain the violence on this long street that runs through Baghdad right up to front door of the International Green Zone. Fresh Sunni fighters seem to emerge from this mainly Sunni residential neighborhood street on a near daily basis from the homes and dwellings of this street.

All of this raises serious questions that if the 130,000 U.S. troops and their Iraqi counterparts cannot even control the violence along this main street right outside the front door of the International Green Zone, then how are 21,500 more U.S. troops to bring peace to the entire city of Baghdad or even the entire country if a single street cannot even be controlled and insurgent activity controlled?

On the other hand, Iraq has turned into a huge humanitarian crisis with up to three million refugees either living in tent cities, or living in Jordan or Syria, and overwelming these nation's ability to provide housing and other vital humanitarian services. The UN currently has 15 trouble spots where they provide large peacekeeping forces to help maintain regional peace or prevent a larger scale humanitarian crisis from developing. If U.S. forces are deployed outside of Iraq as some support, then how is there to be any controls on the violence in Iraq? Sectarian and other violence in Iraq now takes more than 34,000 Iraqi lives, and about 1,000 American lives a year. Violence in Iraqi is mainly aimed at other Iraqis, not Americans. Yet nothing seems to work to provide better security for Iraq. The surge plan likely will only fail as well.

The government of Iraq is dominated by Shiite parties associated with militia groups. The Iraqi police are largely corrupt and infiltrated by Shiite militia groups. Only about 65 of the 270 elected members of the Iraqi parliament even bother to show up for legislative meetings, proving what a farce the Bush claims of a functioning Iraqi democracy actually are.

If anything, the ongoing battle for Haifa Strret in Baghdad illustrates in a mircocosm sort of way, all of the difficulties in providing security in Iraq. When not a single policing effort to provide security to a single street fails and no good answers or plans seem to work, then how can you really trust that simply adding more U.S. troops in the absence of an Iraqi will to work for a peaceful state will really work? When someone comes up with a workable plan to control violence along just this one street, then maybe a larger plan for peace in the city of Baghdad and Iraq in general will be forthcoming.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Conservative Leaning Actors Kelsey Grammer And Patricia Heaton Working On News Media Sitcom

Conservative leaning actors Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton are working on a new sitcom about the news media named, "ACTION NEWS". It is not known whether the program is a conventional sitcom or involves some conservative suspicions about the media in a right leaning spin manner. Heaton was best known for running recent ads countering those of Michael J. Fox on the stem cell research issue on the November ballot in Missouri.

Whether the project will be picked up by a major network remains to be seen. CBS will have an opening on it's schedule when THE KING OF QUEENS wraps up it's run this May. And NBC isn't really interested in any new shows with higher costs such as dramas or new sitcoms in the near future, and will feature more low budget game shows and reality programming to cut costs in the near future. That leaves FOX as the only likely choice outside of CBS to shop this pilot as the costs to the very low rated CW network are probably out of it's reach to lure a higher priced talent like Kelset Grammer. Grammer does have a long running relationship with NBC, which could possiby act as a lure for NBC to make an exception to their new belt tightening philosophy to cut network expenses.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Schwarzenegger's Empty Health Plan

Arnold Schwarzenegger's empty health plan proposal is not unlike the empty proposal of former Massachusett's big business Governor Mitt Romney. Both are empty bills that even Wal-Mart would love. Insurance companies, with big corporate lobby efforts would be the main benefactors of the Schwarzenegger proposal which even goes as far as offering tax incentives to companies like Wal-Mart to drop any insurance coverage in exchange for paying a minimum tax. Other businesses may opt to offer a cut-rate form of health care insurance coverage to their workers.

The Schwarzenegger proposal requires all California residents to purchase health insurance, but does not address the costs of this insurance or whether they can afford to buy it or the amount of coverage or quality of care. A far better Democratic single payer bill passed the legislature last year, but Republican Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill, and instead came out with this absurd insurance industry backed proposal which does little more than line their pockets, leaving the public without a realistic plan to solve the problems of public health or those who are uninsured.

Both the California AFL-CIO and the largest nurse's union in the state are lining up against the empty big insurance industry backed Schwarzenegger proposal. Likely the former Massachusetts Governor, Mitt Romney, will also run on a platform of his empty health proposal with his campaign for president, not telling the public that the Devil is in the details. Mitt Romney is already attracting big money support from the billionaire Ebay CEO, Meg Whitman, as well as wealthy real estate tycoons and others for another big business oligarchy government to run America.

Bush's government since the 2000 election was little more than an oligarchy coup by big business when Bush lost the election's popular vote. Bush lost the the election's popular vote by over 500,000 votes, but was declared president by the right wing dominated U.S. Supreme Court. This same illegitimate government which was not even democratically elected in the U.S. then claimed to want to bring democracy to the MidEast, but instead brought the terrorist Hamas organization to power in the Palestinian region, and Shiite militia groups and their respective parties to power in Iraq, and radical Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran , in three bungled MidEast elections.

Schwarzenegger won re-election running on empty proposals sounding like a Democrat at election time, but remaining in the pocket of big business all the way. His latest "health plan" is a big pay back to the insurance lobby industry. What else can you expect?

AMERICAN IDOL Ratings And Meaness Both Way Up

AMERICAN IDOL has seen a sharp surge in ratings over previous seasons. But the mean spirited attacks by judge Simon Cowell have also seen a sharp upsurge this season as well. Certainly many of the singing tryouts are indeed laughably funny and bad. You wonder why these persons even bother to tryout. But the attacks by Simon Cowell often involve personal attacks about the appearance of the tryouts, a new downturn as the show becomes increasingly nasty. Last week, two young men with mild disabilities were attacked by Cowell for their appearances. Late night talk show host, Jimmy Kimmel felt sorry for their rough treatment and even invited these two young fellows on his program. Today the two were invited on the TODAY SHOW.

There is already a building backlash over Simon Cowell's attacks as some parents forbid their children to watch the show, editorials such as a new one in THE SEATTLE TIMES. On the other current competition show, NBC's GREASE, the tryouts are all treated with far more respect , and when rejected are given fair reasons. There is no attempt to hurt feelings.

AMERICAN IDOL is indeed a very popular program. But Simon Cowell's critical thoughts and comments should really be related to the contestants performance and not some personal attack on apparent disabilities or physical appearance of a contestant. You'd expect Mr. Cowell to behave in a more grown-up manner. This isn't grade school Mr. Cowell.

Family Of Radio Stunt Victim Struggle To Pay Funeral Costs

The family of Jennifer Stranger, the Sacramento, California woman who died as a result of a water drinking contest to win a Wii game playing system on Sacramento radio station, KDND 107.9, are struggling to afford the high costs to bury this victim of this fatal radio stunt. And so far the radio station has offered no help to the family with these costs.

This is a typical example of a poor person being exploited by a multimillion dollar big business for public amusement, and then when they are injured or killed, big business avoiding any responsibilty for their shameless exploitation of the poor.

If Jennifer Strange had a better standard of living, she would not have been forced into participation in such a high risk and dangerous stunt as the water drinking contest. The disc jockeys even laughed off concerns of a nurse who called in with a health warning, proving a callous disregard for human life for this wealthy radio station business only concerned with ratings.

Hopefully a good attorney will step forth and help represent this family in a wrongful death lawsuit and local prosecutors will look at this incident and consider criminal charges as well. Fun is one thing, but exploitation of the poor into performing life threatening stunts to benefit a business that sells expensive ads that run every few minutes is entirely another matter.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Rumors Emerge Than Hillary Clinton's Campaign Is Spreading Negative Stories About Barack Obama

There are some rumors beginning to float that Hillary Clinton's campaign is looking for ways to "Swift Boat" rival candidate Barack Obama. One of the worst of these is bringing up the story that the Senator attended a Muslim school while just six years old. Senator Obama is indeed a Christian and not a Muslim, and the school might have had predominantly Muslim students at the time, but was not a Muslim religious school according to CNN sources for example. Yet if the Hillary Clinton campaign is the source of such stories as this, then it is a pathetic attempt to play up the public fears about the Muslim faith, only heightened since 9/11.

Hillary Clinton's icy cold image with voters will not be helped very much with outrageous smears like this if her campaign is really the source of such negative garbage attacks meant to damage the image of Barack Obama by inferrence of some ties to the Muslim faith to elict fear among voters.

On Hillary Clinton's website, her video was a surprising effective chat with voters. A far cry from her sometimes shrill style that annoys many voters. It was a good start. But negative attacks on her rival, if proven to link back to her campaign are just what voters don't want from her. It only reinforces the negative image of the Clinton's as doing whatever it takes, and leaving ethics blowing away in the wind. This image is perhaps the biggest opponent of Hillary Clinton, not her main rival, Barack Obama.

Tonight's Better Bets Than Trump's APPRENTICE

Each week I'm starting a new feature around here; much better bets than watching the obnoxious Donald Trump and his APPRENTICE show. For me, I get more than enough of the "Donald" with his near daily attacks on comic Rosie O'Donnell than I care for. I'm not about to spend another hour on Sunday night to watch the loud mouthed Trump condemn more persons; I get more than enough of that the rest of the week from the Trumpster.

On the SciFi Channel, a promising new series involving a detective with supernatural powers called THE DRESDEN FILES premiers tonight. This looks far better than listening to more of Trump.

The beloved Steve Irwin, The Crocodile Hunter's very last documentary airs tonight on Animal Planet. Steve Irwin was at least a very nice man, beloved the world over compared to the loud and abusive, and berating Trump.

A brand new episode of DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES airs tonight on ABC. Compared to the crummy drama created by Trump on a near daily basis attacking Rosie O'Donnell, DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES predictaments are always very entertaining.

Although it's nearing the tailend of January, with not the greatest offerings compared to the great programming of February sweeps, there is still plenty of great programming. This also includes the excellent new NBC Sunday night, with the great DEAL OR NO DEAL, GREASE and the return of the excellent, quirky drama, CROSSING JORDAN. If viewers can just switch channels during the Trumpsters tirade program, then NBC's Sunday night is darn near perfect entertainment.

Iran Planning To Flex It's Military Muscle, But At Further Political Cost To Ahmadinejad's Hold On Power In Iran

Iran is planning three days of a military show of force, as tensions continue to escalate between the government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Washington. Yet Ahmadinejad continues to ignore core isues in Iran such as improving the economy and other key issues that he was originally elected on. At some point his continued militarism, along with the ignoring of important domestic issues will likely spell his eventual political downfall.

One important area where Ahmadinejad continues to see his support erode, is among the ruling clerics of Iran. The high tensions between Ahmadinejad and Washington actually make these clerics fearful. They are of course decidedly antiAmerican in many circumstances, although some do want better relations with Washington, but few support what appears to be Ahmadinejad on a clear path to eventual war with the U.S.

It is actually highly doubtful that the U.S. really wants overt war with Ahmadinejad's government as well, but simply regime change. And recent U.S. activity such as placing a second U.S. aircraft carier in the Gulf area near Iran and placing new Patriot missile batteries in some key ally states is meant to psychologically influence the clerics and voters of Iran to dump Ahmadinejad at the earliest possible time and to seek more constructive relations with the U.S. This pressure will likely avoid a real war with Iran for at least sometime, unless the erratic Ahmadinejad chooses to actually do something foolish down the line, which is always a concern with such an unpredictable leader. But likely, Ahmadinejah will soon back down to avoid more political deterioration at home.

Although the Bush Administration's political instincts regarding MidEast issues have been terrible so far, this is one time that they may actually have it right in their assumption that the erratic Ahmadinejad is highly politically vulnerable, and all he needs is a little push in order to politically collapse. Washington may well score a rare win in this high stakes game of political "chicken" this time around after all.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Senator Sam Brownback, Far Right Politician, Announces His Run For President

Just what the nation needed, Senator Sam Brownback, the far right Republican from Kansas has declared himself a candidate for the presidency. Brownback may be the most radical right of any Christian conservative in the Senate. Brownback left mainstream Protestantism for the radical right organization known as The Family, then in 2002 joined the Roman Catholic Church after being influenced by Opus Dei Priest, Father John McCloskey III. It is now suspected that Brownback is a member of this secretative controversial organization which was subject of the fictional DA VINCI CODE book and movie.

Brownback is generally seen as an enemy of the Bill Of Rights, although he did raise some questions about the Bush NSA wiretapping program. Brownback along with Senator Orrin Hatch posted an outrageous editorial in the Moonie cult owned WASHINGTON TIMES urging that obscenity laws be reinstated against a California couple in their 20's who ran an adult entertainment website were prosecuted in a conservative area of Pennsylvania by Federal prosecutor Mary Beth Buchanan who also prosecuted comedian Tommy Chong for selling some bongs over the internet to a police entrapment sting effort in the district. A Federal judge felt that the First Admendment and the right to privacy protected free expression over the internet, but Brownback strongly disagreed. Brownback does not believe in the public right of privacy.

Among religious right political extremists, Brownback will find some audience of support, but more likely a big business conservative like former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney who has attracted the support of Ebay CEO billionaire, Meg Whitman, and big real estate tycoons will capture the Republican Party's right wing support and money trail. Thankfully Brownback will not be running for reelection in 2010. And he will likely run poorly for president in 2008, denying him the opportunity to exert more social control over the average American's life. Brownback's warped social philosophy that government should be used to force his personal religious views on others, while maintaining a rock bottom bad Senate voting record on issues involving working class persons, makes Brownback perhaps the worst U.S. Senator for working people.

Hillary Clinton Launches Exploratory Effort With New Video Posting

Hillary Clinton stunned political experts with here surprise posting of a new video annoucement of her start of a presidential campaign exploratory committee early Saturday morning. Shortly after disclosing her intentions in an interview to CNN's John Roberts, the video appeared on , helping Clinton to reclaim some lost supporter and donor momentum and media coverage to Senator Barack Obama, her main rival for the nomination.

This past week, both Clinton and Obama started efforts to write legislation related to the conduct of the Iraq War, hoping to establish positions with voters as well gain media publicity. Little doubt both wil now champion other efforts in the Senate, especially since the Democratic majority allows for introduction of more bills that might have previously been tied up in committees when the Republican leadership could have more easily killed off many Democratic bills.

Gaining positive publicity as well as collecting donations from donors will become very important by both major Democratic candidates ahead of some early debates that will soon take place among the declared Democratic candidates for president.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Art Buchwald, Great American Satirist Passes Away

Art Buchwald, the brilliant American humorist and political satirist has died. His razor sharp wit and keen sense of satire was able to cut through the absudity of many issues and paint them in clearly funny tones. Buchwald had been suffering from Kidney failure problems for some time, had refused dialysis, and his health and kidney function had rebounded somewhat allowing him a longer life than expected during the last year. He was normally only given a short time to live without treatment.

Buchwald's writings always displayed a great sense of humor, although privately Buchwald wrote his scathing satire out of some deep sense of frustration. Some like right wing writer, Ann Coulter believe themselves to be some sense of a satirist, but her mean spirited writings sometimes have seemed to condone violence against some public figures, and simply cannot be classified as the writings of a really rational person, and yet her audience of loyal fans seem to miss this obvious issue. Buchwald by comparison was always funny in an almost Alan Sherman sort of way, but avoiding the courseness of a Philip Roth, that certainly conveyed his personality and also never stooped to the lack of rationality like Coulter. Buchwald seemed to get it right on what constituted good political satire. He considered Richard Nixon to be the greatest gift to humorists like himself, although modern comedy writers have found much inspiration in the antics of Bill Clinton, or the sheer lack of common sense to found in great quantity in the Bush White House. Humorists cannot help but feel like a child on Christmas morning with such inspirational big gifts laid right on their door step on a near daily basis from such goofy presidential antics.

Some of Buchwald's books such as "I Never Danced At The White House", are a pretty fair representation of Buchwald at his near best. Buchwald's sense of political satire seemed to grow with the advent of the NATIONAL LAMPOON magazine and SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE during the 1970's, offering a college aged generation a new more hip venue for political satire, leaving Buchwald as the favorite for older readers, and these new venues as favorites for younger persons interested in political satire. But the inspiration of Buchwald on many humorists cannot be understated. Indeed he inspired many great humor writers on the proper ground rules for writing good satire. Buchwald will indeed be greatly missed.

Aide To Muqtada al-Sadr Arrested By American And Iraqi Forces, But Will This Just Be Another Revolving Door Example?

American and Iraqi forces have arrested a top aide to radical antiAmerican cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. And 400 members of the Mahdi militia group have also been arrested recently. However in most recent cases, this has proven to be little more than a "catch and release" effort as pressure from cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has nearly always resulted in these murderous Shiite militia members being freed within a few hours or days. Very few members of this Shiite militia have ever really been held accountable for their crimes such as abducting and torturing and killing Sunni citizens off the streets of Baghdad.

This is the type of double standard of justice in the new Iraq. "Catch and release" of murderous Shiite militia group members and death squad members by the Shiite dominated government. Jails and prisons in Iraq are filled with Sunni prisoners. The Iraqi government Interior Ministry is filled with Shiite militia members who operate torture chambers for Sunni citizens suspected of insurgent activity or support. Some Iraqi police starions in Iraq are used as little more than fronts for Shiite militia organization crimes against civilians. In the British controlled area of Southern Iraq, British forces had to raid a police station used by a Shiite militia as a torture chamber and rescue the prisoners and destroy the station.

This double standard of "justice" in the new Iraq, where the Shiite dominated government is taking on all the qualities of a Shiite theocracy stands as a major roadblock to healing the problems of sectarian violence in Iraq, as is in fact a major cause of the sectarian violence.

Opposition Growing To Bush Library At Southern Methodist University

While there is a fundraising attempt to raise $500 million for building a George Bush Presidential Library at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, there is growing opposition from some Methodist ministers and students. An online petition effort has been started by some Methodist ministers to block this library for conscience reasons.

Support for building the library may well be stronger than the opposition, yet there are some in this religious community who are raising moral objections to this presidency and any association with their religious university and the controversial Bush Administration.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

China Has Successfully Tested AntiSatellite Missile

In a serious new development that opens up the weaponization of space, China has now successfully tested a new medium range "satellite-killer" missile. This breaks the long standing international standards of mutual cooperation among the world community in space. It also opens up this new frontier to the weaponization and an arms race in space. It also signifies a significant new technology for the Chinese military.

The successful test, conducted last Thursday, but only made public by the U.S. government only today after military and intelligence community evaluation of the successful test. China destroyed an aging FY-1C weather satellite on a third attempt with their middle range missile, which is likely either a new weapon or a modification of an existing missile with new tracking and guidance system technology.

The weaponization of space with new weapons to destroy intelligence gathering satellites represents a dangerous new ability for other nations to block verfication of any threats to their nations. China has proven itself to be a constructive member of the community in recent years with a helpful role on North Korea and in providing UN pecekeepers to several of the 15 current peacekeeping mission throughout the world. But any escalation of weapons into space marks a dangerous new area for an expensive and dangerous space arms race.

USA Network's Excellent MONK Returns Friday For A New Run

The excellent comic detective series over at the USA Network, MONK, is set to return for a new Friday 9PM run for the next few weeks. But few know that Tony Shalhoub who has really defined the role of MONK, winning many SAG, Golden Globe and Emmy awards, was actually a distant second choice after former SEINFELD star Michael Richards dropped out of consideration for the role.

The writers and producers for the show had approached Michael Richards with the script for MONK which was specifically written for him as the lead actor. But Richards was haunted with the bad experience of his failed NBC postSEINFELD NBC comedy, THE MICHAEL RICHARDS SHOW which was really intended to be a similar concept as a comedy mystery show. After the program test marketed poorly with test audiences screened by NBC, the series was rewritten as a far more conventional sitcom, but the viewing public quickly rejected this new version of THE MICHAEL RICHARDS SHOW as well. When offered the script for MONK, the script looked all to familiar to Richards who declined any role in the proposed series.

The writers and producers for MONK were then left without a suitable lead actor. Tony Shalhoub who had some experience as the bit actor in the long running NBC sitcom, WINGS, as an Italian cab driver, became a second choice by the writers and producers of MONK.

The rest is history. Tony Shalhoub helped to really define the role and make it his own, where audiences could hardly think of a another actor playing the role. And Michael Richards made a career ruining bad choice that left him only playing small time comedy clubs.

History continues for this great series Friday, with many more great classic stories and seasons yet to be written. Cable TV excellence at it's very best.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Something New Wanted In American Politics; No Experience

There's a funny thing about the Barack Obama phenomenon; he is indeed an exciting and electrifying personality. And he brings all of just two years experience in the U.S. Senate with him.

The public will need to answer a question in their minds whether the need to elect someone electric like an Barack Obama, who may just be the African American answer to John Kennedy or Bill Clinton is more right than choosing the experience required to move along foreign policy hotspots in the right direction like the Middle East, Iraq, Iran, North Korea or new hot zones. Foreign policy hotspots, not domestic issues is more than likely to dominate the next administration as well. And a lack of experience on MidEast history allowed for the naive Bush White House hope that they could remove Saddam Hussein from Iraq and hold democratic elections in the region. 3 for 3, the elections in Iraq, Iran and The Palestinian region brought bad leadership into power. In not one single election was the concept of good governing promoted. The region simply was not socially advanced enough to hold elections.

Hillary Clinton brings along more experience than Obama. But her icy cold personality fails to ignite much excitement among many voters. Her husband, Bill could probably be elected for a third term, if not for that nasty constitutional admendment. Al Gore brings in 24 years government experience, but he's not running at all. Joseph Biden probably brings in the best foreign policy details thinking. But his campaign is probably more than dead in the water with an anchor tied to it.

So the issue goes back to whether the public has a compelling need to elect someone they like or even love, or someone really with the experience to do the job. But Barack Obama does inspire an upbeat vision for a better America, and in the grand scheme of things this might just be another trump card of his, and another big advantage. What finally transpires in 2008 is yet to be seen. But Obama is off to a good start. But then again look what happened to Howard Dean.

Could Many Music Legends Have Won On AMERICAN IDOL?

Simon Cowell raised an interesting question the other day when he flat out stated that if any young singer sounded like Bob Dylan, that he'd reject them. Few true music critics would not hestitate to argue the very valid point that Bob Dylan is perhaps one of the greatest music legends of all time. Perhaps not the greatest singer, although very unique, but certainly a great songwriter and performer. All of this begs the question whether AMERICAN IDOL is so biased towards top 40 sounding performers that many musical greats would have stood no chance on this TV show musical competition.

Could a young Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, John Kay, Alan Wilson, Bob "Bear" Hite, Mick Jagger, Johnny Rotten, Marc Bolan, Hugh Cornwell, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Ringo Starr or many others stood any chance at all on AMERICAN IDOL?

No one can question the enduring talent and CD sales of Kelly Clarkson. But other AMERICAN IDOL winners and performers have made less of a mark. And many acts such as The Rolling Stones continue to prove their ability to sell their CDs in huge numbers, decade after decade. But could so many music legends have actually won on AMERICAN IDOL? I doubt so.

AMERICAN IDOL has it's place to pick another pop figure to give a recording contract to. But far better artists will emerge from performers in the public as they always have before. The limited artistic range of AMERICAN IDOL will never allow someone as big as an Elvis or a Jim Morrison to emerge. The public will find these vocal legends on their own, no thanks to AMERICAN IDOL. AMERICAN IDOL has it's place. It's great TV. But it will never be the proving grounds for the very best legends in American music ever.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Huge Car Bombing Takes Many Lives At Shiite University In Baghdad

Sunni sectarian violence hit a predominently Shiite university very hard today in a suicide vest bomber and a car bombing that took at least 65 lives and left at least 138 more wounded. Immediatedly members of the Shiite militia organization, the Mahdi Army of radical cleric Muqtafa al-Sadr and Iraqi police responded to the incident.

It is not known whether this attack was in response to the executions of two former members of Saddam Hussein's government, but these three high profile executions of Saddam Hussein, his half brother and a Chief Justice, were only likely to ignite more sectarian violence. The government of Iraq was warned by many states in the world community about this and by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

It is especially evil when so many young people just beginning their lives are targeted at an university. This act will no doubt result in some extreme retailiation by Shiite militia groups and corrupt police who abduct Sunni citizens and carry out street violence at random. The cycle of violence just never seems to end in Iraq.

Freshman Senator James Webb Will Give Democratic Response To The Bush State Of The Union Speech Next Tuesday

The Democratic Party has chosen freshman U.S. Senator, James Webb, to give the Democratic response to Bush's State Of The Union Address next Tuesday. This seems a little unusual to chose someone with so little time as an elected official, yet Democratic Party leadership apparently felt that Webb could provide a viable message that would have appeal to voters with Webb's strong military background. Webb is a former Republican who recently turned to becoming a Democrat before running for the U.S. Senate.

More Botched Executions In Iraq

Iraq was warned by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to immediately halt any futher executions. The status of foreign aid or reconstruction funds may be at stake by many states, when they condemned the execution of Saddam Hussein, and then Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki threatened to "review" the relations with any state that attempts to interfere in Iraqi executions. Now two more executions have taken place, where the half brother of Saddam Hussein, former Iraqi Intelligence Head, Barzan Ibrahim al-Hassan was decapitated by a botched hanging. Fomer Chief Justice, Awad Hamad al-Bandar was also hanged.

More and more, Iraq is proving itself to be another brutal state with few differences from the brutal dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. Every attempt at promoting healing seems to be avoided in this Shiite dominated state government. The Iraqi government seems to avoid any event that would promote a sectarian healing in this land, only continuing a nonending cycle of violence in Iraq.

Too Much STAR TREK For This Congressman

They say they are what you consume, and in the case of Oregon Congressman David Wu, that well may be too much STAR TREK. Recently when Congressman Wu was recovering from a back injury, he spent a lot of time watching STAR TREK episodes.

Under normal circumstanes this certainly would not be news. But Congressman Wu recently was so inspired by endless hours of watching STAR TREK that it acted as inspiration for an unusual speech by Wu on the floor of Congress comparing the Bush Administration to Klingons and lamenting that they were not Vulcans. And even worse, now video sites like YouTube have received this video, likely from TREK fans, and Congressman Wu is beginning to become the STAR WARS Kid of the next generation, with many popular views for his STAR TREK address to Congress. It's probably a sage bet to assume that Bush's State Of The Union Address later this month will not include STAR TREK material or Bush in full Klingon uniform.

So far, Congressman Wu has not shown up with Vulcan ears, or in an Enterprise crew uniform, nor is this likely. And neither is installing a "transporter" replica in his office. But it is certain that at least one hardcore Trekkie is now out of the closet in Washington.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Dr. Martin Luther King And The Decline Of High Profile Religious Progressives

Dr. Martin Luther King really represented the last of the high profile religious progressives. His strong support for labor unions or opposition to the Vietnam War were well know areas of his concerns that were beyond his well known support for the new civil rights campaign of the 1960's. Today you can find religious progressives who support social justice for immigrants, opposition to the death penalty, or social justice for the poor among Roman Catholic clergy and some Protestant clergy, or among some Rabbis. But no one seems to equal the status of Dr. Martin Luther King in the high profile status as the most prominent clergy member ever to emerge on the American scene in recent times.

High profile clergy members such as Wilbur Wilberforce in England once helped to end slavery in that nation. In South Africa high profile clergy members such as Archbishop Tutu were once the only publicly allowed opposition to that ugly system based on racial segregation.

The role of the religious community to raise moral issues to move ahead a society socially are very important. The conscience of society needs a strong religious community to voice it's concerns about social evils. The religious right seems to dominate the public debate today, and not always for the good, while the historic voice of progressives of faith often gets drowned out. The issues of the end to slavery and improved civil rights only succeeded because religious community progressives in the U.S. and England made their voices public. Part of their faith compelled them to take a stand in favor of social justice and fairness for all.

Concerns Of Iraqi Government Corruption Concern Congress Over $1Billion Iraqi Jobs Proposal

Last week in hearings in the Senate, serious concerns about Iraqi government corruption seriously clouded how much of the proposed $1 billion dollar Iraqi jobs bill by President Bush will find it's way into theft or into the hands of militia organizations. Testimony by experts such as Michael O'Hanlon of the Brooking Institution and Phebe Marr, author of THE MODERN HISTORY OF IRAQ" did little to satisfy the concerns of senators about the future of these funds.

Michael O'Hanlon raised a depressing image that he'd rather see the money badly wasted with five Iraqi workers hired to whitewash the very same fence five times, than see militia groups or government corruption steal the funds.

With problems such as graft in oil revenues and theft of reconstruction funds, fraud and theft is a major industry of the Iraqi government. The question is whether or not the U.S. can really be sure that the proposed $1 billion dollar Iraqi jobs bill will really provide jobs and improve Iraq or simply become another cash cow for Iraqi government theft.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

2 More Miners Killed As Mine Safety Worsens In The Bush Years

With the Bush Administration loading up the board that regulates mine safety in the U.S. with coal and mining industry executives, the safety of mining in the U.S. continues to worsen. Today, two more miners were killed in a West Virginia accident. During the Clinton years, mining grew more safe with stronger safety rules, but last year after the more lax safety standards of the Bush Adminstration years, American mining deaths hit a 10 year high of 47. Many countries such as Canada mandate more safety equipment or stronger safety standards than the U.S. Still mining in the U.S. rates as safer than China, the world leader in mining accidents due to lax safety standards.

Last year's tragic Sago mine disaster might have been worsened when s federal bankruptcy jude threw out the labor union, and without this union acting as a body to handle complaints, roof falls and other incidents only seemed to increase until the tragedy. Canada by comparison has safe rooms and more communications equipment mandated by their safety standards.

With a philosophy of profits over people in nearly all areas of the Bush Administration, the tragic increase in mining accidents is only the natural result of probusiness policies that give safety a backseat, hoping to "cut business regulations". However, the human and financial costs to business in the long run of this sort of policy are indeed very costly. With the potential of huge lawsuits or other costs, there really is no cost benefit to such policies that seek to cut back on worker safety.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Stuck Between Iraq And A Hard Place

The national debate has continued all week on President Bush's proposal to surge U.S. troops in Iraq by 21,500, to mostly bad U.S. public reviews. On the surface, it is very easy to see where the public is weary of this war and wants out. But the war in Iraq has put the U.S. on a very complicated place in the MidEast right now. You could say that we're stuck between Iraq and a hard place.

A main street that runs right up to the front door of the International Green Zone, Haifa Street, has been the subject of serious combat and door to fighting by American and Iraqi units all week long. Yet Sunni insurgents only resupply with fresh fighters each day. Mr. Bush would have you believe that an additional 21,500 U.S. troops is all that is needed to secure the city of Baghdad. But the fact of the matter is that the current 130,000 U.S. troops already in Iraq are not able to secure the street just outside the safe International Green Zone. If the Americans cannot even secure the street just outside their door, then how is the entire city of Baghdad or even the nation of Iraq to be made secure. The task seems daunting to impossible. The current policy in Iraq is grossly failing.

But Iran is certainly waiting in the wings to pick up any pieces of an American collapse in Iraq. Oil analysts now predict that Iran wil have to discontinue oil exports by 2015 because of a declining supply of oil. Iran needs both a nuclear power program to generate power and conserve resources as well as to expand their interests into Iraq in order to have any future at all as a nation. The botched up war policy of Bush to remove Saddam Hussein in 2003 removed an important Sunni blockaid to Iranian Shiite regional expanisonism in the MidEast from Iran. Now working with elements within the Shiite majority in Iraq, such as radical antiU.S. cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, Iran is taking full advantage of the huge favor that George Bush did for Iran. It's a little too late for Mr. Bush to want to now contain the political interests of Iran in the region now that he has done them such a huge favor by removing the Sunni government of Saddam Hussein and his Baathist allies.

Another major wrinkle is that while much of the American public would like the U.S. out of Iraq, many nations in the world feel that the U.S. has some major peacekeeping obligations within Iraq to provide for stabilizing the nation and providing security there. Most Americans are unaware of the massive global obligations that the UN has throughout the world in global troublespots providing much needed security. Many nations including China, Russia, France, Germany, even little nations like Denmark and El Salvador provide peacekeepers throughout the world. Much of the world community simply sees Iraq as the responsibility of the U.S. to provide for it's security and peace. As General Colin Powell argued with other Bush Administration members, if "we break Iraq, then we have to buy it".

Right now the UN finds itself overextended throughout the world in Sudan(10,023 UN peacekeepers), Ivory Coast(9,036 UN peacekeepers), Liberia(15,038 UN peacekeepers), Democratic Republic Of The Congo(18,473 UN peacekeepers), Ethiopia and Eritrea(2,285 UN peacekeepers), Western Sahara(206 UN peacekeepers), Haiti(8,360 UN peacekeepers), Timor-Leste(981 UN peacekeepers), India-Pakistan(43 UN peacekeepers), Cyprus(918 UN peacekeepers), Georgia(135 UN peacekeepers), Kosovo(16,300 UN peacekeepers), Golan Heights(1,048 UN peacekeepers), Lebanon(11,512 UN peacekeepers) and the Middle East(150 UN peacekeepers). The U.S. only provides forces for the Golan Heights, Georgia, Liberia, Ethiopia and Eritrea and Kosovo. The rest of the world community provides the overwelming number of world peacekeepers. In addition nations such as France have thousands more soldiers in the Ivory Coast with an independent peacekeeping mission, otherwise the world supply of cocoa would disappear from the world shelves and chocolate products would become a thing of the past.

The U.S. laments so many dead and wounded in Iraq. But nearly every UN peacekeeping mission has suffered many dead or wounded, and some of these UN peacekeeping missions were begun as long ago as 1964 and continued for all these years. The situation in Iraq long ago passed the stage where the war was a bad idea to becoming a needed security, peacekeeping and humanitarian mission by someone. Some nation has to act, and the U.S. already has forces on the ground in Iraq.

The world community simply expects the U.S. to act as peacekeepers in Iraq and provide security there. The UN cannot extend it's forces into one more nation. It's an overextended force already, and the expectation is that the U.S. must act to secure Iraq or the risk of a much worse humanitarian crisis will result. Those that advocate that U.S. forces withdrawal right now or deploy to some other region outside of Iraq ignore the fact that peacekeepers from the UN are deployed in many in global troublespots. It would make no sense for them to withdrawal and allow wars to break out all over the world. It is almost childlike that some believe in simple "solutions" like "withdrawal now" or "redeploy elsewhere", yet it is obvious that the current policy in Iraq clearly is not working, and is not likely to work either. And Iran is certainly waiting to pick up the pieces and worsen the situation.

You might say that the U.S. is caught between Iraq and a hard place with no easy answers or solutions to be found.

Quirky And Great, CROSSING JORDAN To Return This Sunday

The great NBC series, CROSSING JORDAN, finally makes a steady return to the regular TV schedule at 10PM this Sunday. Originally it was scheduled by NBC to be the lead 8PM Friday show, but the success of 1VS. 100 managed to bump it from the schedule. The show has such a great cast, headed by the Canadian actress Jill Hennessy, whose on and off romantic interests in actor Jerry O'Connell's character provides an interesting storyline interwoven in the outrageous and quirky crime stories that Hennessy's character, Jordan Cavanaugh, a medical examiner manages to get all too caught up in.

Certainly you have to suspend your disbelief to accept that the medical examiner's office seems to have a revolving door with all sorts of witnesses to crimes parading in and out every few minutes, or the medical examiner character, Jordan Cavanaugh, getting caught right in the middle of a real serious crime story each week. But the quirky as well as the dramatic elements jell together so well, that CROSSING JORDAN is a real gem on the small screen.

Very strong supporting characters in the guise of actors Miguel Ferrier, Ravi Kapoor, Kathryn Hahn, Steve Valentine and Leslie Bibb really help to fill out the cast. Each are very fine actors more than capable of carrying along interesting side storylines.

Actress Jill Hennessy originally played a prosecutor on LAW & ORDER many seasons ago, but it is her role on CROSSING JORDAN that has really allowed her to prove her strong acting skills with the very strong scripts that the excellent writers provide each week. If NBC viewers can just hang on to 10PM and can just get beyond the obnoxious Donald Trump APPRENTICE program at 9PM, say tune in the CBS's COLD CASE or something, then sticking around to 10PM to catch CROSSING JORDAN is well worth while. CROSSING JORDAN remains one of the best written, best acted series over at NBC. A real gem since it debuted in 2001.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Bush's Iraq Policies Likely To Inspire A New Isolationism In American Foreign Policy

One surprising difference between the U.S. and parts of the world community is that while the Bush plan to send 21,000 more troops into Iraq draws bad reviews among most of the public in the U.S. , the plan actually draws some support abroad in the world community. The EU, Britain, Australia and Turkey all voiced some support for the plan.

If anything this displays the differences between a war weary American public who believe the Iraq War to be a major foreign policy mistake, and just want to leave this problem behind, and a world community that believes that restoring security to Iraq is important. The UN and other organizations such as NATO are often called on to act as peacekeepers in world trouble spots. But the American public no longer sees the U.S. role in Iraq of that in the aftermath of the 2003 Iraq War. Support for the U.S. policing the violence in Iraq also draws some surprising support around the world. In Vietnam, a former Communist North Vietnamese soldier who fought against U.S. forces in the Vietnam War expressed support for the American role in Iraq as one helping the people" compared to the Vietnam War when the U.S. tried to destroy their Communist government.

Much of the world sees the problems in Iraq as one of lawlessness and violence, that needs to be policed by someone. But the U.S. public only sees 3,020 Americans dead, more than 22,000 wounded, and hundreds of billions of dollars wasted. Should the U.S. withdraw from Iraq soon and the violence only increase with more sectarian violence, will the American media begin to ignore this and not really report it much longer because the American role is over, but not the violence. In areas like Darfur there is actually a call for American or international community peacekeeping by many.

One interesting side effect of the improper Bush use of U.S. forces in invading Iraq in 2003, is that any legitimate role of peacekeeping by the U.S. is probably dead for quite some time and a new form of isolationist thinking will rule American foreign policy for some number of years. This will have it's own consequences as well.

China's Political Backlash Over Chewing Gum Ad

The American chewing gum company, Wm. Wrigley, thought that using the Chinese national anthem in a new TV ad that started airing in Russia would be a great new quirk in attention gathering advertisement. Instead a fierce and angry backlash from China has resulted.

Just like some in the U.S. who would elevate the American Flag to a near religious idol status, the government and people of China zealously protect the dignity of their flag, national emblem and national anthem. Little did the chewing gum marketers realize what an angry response the TV ad would receive. It has since been pulled from the Russian airwaves after five days of airplay.

Last year, angry demonstrations took place when some cartoon image, supposedly of the Islam faith's Muhammad was used in an editorial cartoon in Denmark. What seemed like a harmless political commentary on MidEast problems resulted in a loss of life and injuries after the demonstrations turned more violent.

All of this illustrates that cultural differences can create a serious conflict between two societies. In Britain for example, the Union Jack is often used in all sorts of advertising, and is seen as an expresion of British pride. But the Chinese would clearly ban this type of use of their flag. SNL and Conan O'Brien sometimes offer Jesus skits over their history, yet even the cartoon depiction of Muhammad was enough to provoke anger in the Muslim world. In Iran, Iranian President Mohmoud Ahmadinejad raised anger of religious authorities for being seen in a video watching women dance without veils. In some cultures it is seen as an insult not to sleep with your host's wife, while in other societies angry husbands have been driven to murder over affairs. What one culture believes to be acceptable standards for social conduct, advetising or entertainment varies greatly.

Because the world is so united by a huge common media, it is so easy for one society to cross some line and anger another culture very easily. This is one strange effect of a world united by media, but not becoming a single culture as individual societies still claim their individual values.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Lilly Munster

The death of the Canadian born actress, Yvonne De Carlo, yesterday, best known for playing Lilly Munster on TV's THE MUNSTERS marks another sad chapter of another great personality from the 1960's disappearing. Despite a strong carrer in many serious films, the character role of Lilly Munster helped to really define actress Yvonne De Carlo, just like the serious actor Burgess Meredith, who will best remembered for his role as The Penguin on TV's BATMAN. Yvonne De Carlo will be so remembered by so many fans simply because her role of Lilly was so perfect and a great foil to the childlike Herman. The Lilly role was that great.

THE MUNSTERS had so many cool things that made the show a hip item in the 1960's. A hot 60's surf inspired guitar theme song. A wild custom car built by genuis customizer George Barris, using a Ford Falcon V8 and other unlikely parts paired together. In real life the car is smaller than you think, partially to give Herman Munster that giant appearance. And the characters of Grandpa played by Al Lewis, Herman played by Fred Gywnne and Lilly played by De Carlo could not have been cast any better. The show was a perfect comedy. You knew just like Casper The Ghost, that Herman would end scaring normal folk at some point with an absurd and corny comedy speeded up camera technique bit sure as the rain coming in nearly every eposode, but it was sure fun each and every time.

Actor Butch Patrick who played the child Eddie Munster on the show offered a huge tribute to Al Lewis on his website only months ago. Now the sad job of offering another eulogy to another fallen cast member comes along. Interestingly, Butch Patrick does Halloween Party bookings from the website as well. But while a full grown and middle age Eddie Munster loses something in the translation, I know all the fans no doubt love him anyway. Butch Patrick continues to be one of the best fans of THE MUNSTERS and his website is terrific in every way, giving other loyal fans of the show a shrine on the internet to gather around at sad times like this.

THE MUNSTERS was a great 1960's show in every regard. Yvonne De Carlo was the perfect Lilly Munster. She'll be deeply missed by millions of very loving fans.

The Return Of The Filibuster And Veto

Part of the problem of only having only a razor thin majority in the Senate is that the Democrats may find their proposed legislation blocked by the ages old threat of the filibuster, and if proposed legislation can survive that, then the veto pen of Bush awaits. It takes 60 vote in the Senate to invoke cloture, but only in the case of some legislation where something of a broad consensus may exist, may that be possible.

Senator Mitch McConnell, hardly the most intellectual member of the Senate proposes to block any attempt by the Senate to oppose a troop buildup by Bush. But it's hard to imagine that McConnell has the intellectual skills necessary to offer a winded, but passionate oratory defending the grossly unpopular Bush surge in Iraq. Equally, Bush a stooge of the big pharmaceutical companies by all means, promises a veto of any bill that would negotiate better drug prices. The fact is that senior citizens pay 60% for their prescriptions than veteran's do under VA drug purchase policies.

Unless one party holds a clear majority, the tyranny of the minority still exists to control legislation through either the filibuster or the veto pen. Such is this advantage and disadvantage of democracy.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Even Republican Senator Gordon Smith Sees the Bush Speech As A Last Ditch "Hail Mary" Pass With No One To Catch The Ball

Oregon's Republican Senator, who has recently emerged as a critic of the Iraq War has pretty much described what many can plainly see, that the Bush Iraq Speech Wednesday night was only a desperate "Hail Mary" pass with no Iraqi military really capable of catching the ball. There is no real will to actually stop the violence in Iraq, a land of many militias and armed organizations.

At least 40 armed organizations including Shiite militias, Sunni militias, Baathists, Nasserites, Kurdish Peshmerga, Islamists and the tiny Al Qaeda organization among others operate in Iraq. These armed groups comprise more than 200,000 members with Shiite militia organizations connected to the main Shiite government party, The Supreme Council For The Islamic Revolution In Iraq, and the Shiite Mahdi Army of cleric Muqtafa al-Sadr are responsible for most of the sectarian violence in Iraq. Nothing in the Bush speech really addressed this problem.

This week, the combined forces of American and Iraqi troops attempted to prevent the Sunni insurgent violence along just one street in Baghdad, Haifa Street, just a little above the International Green Zone. Insurgents used guns, rockets and mortars in a fierce 10 hour gunfight with U.S. and Iraqi forces. And after killing 50 insurgents and capturing 11 more, fresh Sunni insurgents have restarted the fighting once more.

Mr. Bush would have us believe that sending 20,000 more U.S. soldiers will turn the tide in Iraq and do what the 130,000 American troops and about 200,00 Iraqi soldiers and police cannot do. But Haifa Street is a great example. The current Bush policies cannot even control the insurgent violence along just one street in Baghdad, let alone the entire city of Baghdad, or the nation of Iraq as a whole. Yet Mr. Bush asks the public to just trust him when his instincts about Iraq have never been good. Any further trust in Bush's botched up policies in Iraq is a real leap of faith.

Bush's Long Anticipated Iraq Speech Will Carry Very High Stakes

It simply cannot be put into words just how important the stakes are for President Bush, the U.S. and MidEast foreign policy that the ultimate outcome of the long anticipated speech on Iraq really is. Mr. Bush is putting his entire reputation on the line, or at least what's left of it. The U.S. can be drug along into an even deeper mess and quagmire in Iraq if the Bush policy horribly fails. Mr. Bush's entire place in history will rest upon the decisions announced by him tonight.

There is little reason to hold out hope that increasing the number of U.S. troops in Iraq is the right answer. The problems in Iraq appear to be political and social, not of some military nature that the U.S. can really resolve. The resolution for the country's problems appear to rest with both the government and people of Iraq, where no outside nation can really resolve this for them.

Tonight's speech will really become a defining moment for Bush, either as a "Profile In Courage" type moment, where he put his entire reputation and place in history on the line, and either surprised nearly everyone or else more likely simply horriby failed and lost a great many more American and Iraqi lives by worsening the very dire situation.

After tonight's big speech you can expect analysis here and elsewhere. That much is for certain.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

THE APPRENTICE Ratings Suffer In The Wake Of Continued Verbal Attacks By Donald Trump On Rosie O'Donnell

In his own mind, Donald Trump may view himself as the ultimate P.T. Barnum, the ultimate agent of hype. But in the wake of his continued very personal verbal handgrenades against comic Rosie O'Donnell including insults on her weight that are really backfiring with the female community, viewers are deciding to "fire" trump from their living room TV sets. The sixth installment of THE APPRENTICE opened with the worst ratings yet, just 9.1 million average viewers, down 600,000 from last season. If the ratings continue to sag to around a level of about 8 million viewers, NBC could also "fire" the Donald and cancel his program.

About the best thing that Trump could do is to publicly reconcile with Rosie O'Donnell and begin to soften his growing negative image with women viewers. Rosie O'Donnell is quickly gaining much sympathy among the female public and celebrities as well, especially since Trump's very personal attacks on her weight. Any man with an ounce of good sense should have realized that this is real sore point with some women and personal attacks like this are really wrong and score few good points with the public. Trump seemed to lose sight from the very beginning that Rosie O'Donnell is a comic first and last, and her original over the top comments which started this feud about the Miss USA situation are typical of the outrageous and funny commentary of a comic, especially the outspoken Rosie O'Donnell. Other comics such as Conan O'Brien, Jay Leno and David Letterman often make fun of his comb-over hairstyle or loud mouthed style of hype. Yet Trump chose to make single out O'Donnell for his very personal atttacks that seem to flow with no end in sight.

NBC programmed their GREASE oriented answer to AMERICAN IDOL right before Trump's APRENTICE. And at 11.6 million viewers it was far better received by the public than Trump's program, strongly suggesting that Trump's ongoing feud with Rosie O'Donnell is the reason. In the mind of Donald Trump, maybe he believes that any publicity is good. But Britney Spears continues to prove that you can be in the celebrity news on a near daily basis with outrageous news items and actually lose public sympathy, and you can become the subject of jokes and laughter. Trump should realize that generating bad news does indeed generate bad feelings with the public. There is such a thing as bad publicity.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Was Saddam Hussein's Corpse Abused?

A new video beginning to circulate on a few MidEast webites is beginning to raise some troubling new questions about the Saddam Hussein execution and whether his corpse was abused after his execution. The new video has not been proved as genuine, but reportedly graphically shows extensive bruises and bloody injuries to the head that are not related to any execution by hanging. It suggests that the body was either beaten, dropped, kicked or otherwise abused after the execution, raising more troubling questions about the involvement of the feared and brutal Mahdi Army militia group involvement of the radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in the Saddam Hussein execution.

When American forces handed Saddam Hussein over to his Iraqi government executioners, he was in very good condition. Hussein even reportedly thanked his American captors for the kind treatment and not abusing him according to a statement issued from CENTCOM. This kind and polite nature from Saddam Hussein was far from his once fearsom image of one of the world's worst dictators.

During the Reagan Administration years, during the 1980's Iran-Iraq War, the U.S. government illegally used Agriculture Department CCC funds intended only for international disaster relief for Saddam Hussein to free up billions of dollars to buy arms from both Brazil and France. In other cases these "disaster relief" funds intended only for emergency food aid to earthquake or flood stricken nations were directly diverted into the purchase of arms on the world market. The Reagan Administration involved itself in a wide variety of illegal or covert foreign policy behind the backs of both Congress and the American public. Saddam Hussein was one of the most unstable and ruthless world leaders for the Reagan Administration to build up a massive military for. With Saddam's warped sense of power and self, the 1990 invasion of Kuwait was only to be expected after the Reagan Administration worked so hard to make him so powerful in the MidEast as a counterweight to Iran. The U.S. either looked the other way or actually helped Saddam Hussein to acquire WMD weapons such as chemical or biological to kill Iranian troops in great numbers. These same weapons became the basis of Saddam Hussein killing up to 180,000 Kurds or other persons in his country as a ruthless way of maintaining power and putting down rival sectarian factions in his own country. It was a shocking turn of fortunes for Saddam Hussein when his American allies during the 1980's turned on after his 1990 invasion of Kuwait and in 2003 when his government was removed from power. It was also like an American version of the Brezhnev Doctrine, where the U.S. felt that they had the right to invade or control a former ally who was not serving their will to their liking.

After being put on trial for crimes against his own people, Saddam Hussein was found guilty and quickly executed on the first day of a major Muslim Holy day. During the execution a cell phone recording found the executioners taunting Saddam Hussein and chanting , "Muqtada, Muqtada, Muqtada", suggesting that Shiite militia group members of the Mahdi Army of radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr were directly responsible for the execution of Saddam Hussein. Now if this new video is proven to be real and not faked in some way raises new issues about the Saddam Hussein execution being a form of lynching by this brutal Shiite militia organiztion rather than a legitimate act of state administered justice. The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has called on Iraq to imediately stop all further executions, while the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki has threatened to "review" the relationship of Iraq to any world community nation that voices concerns about Iraqi government executions. Such language from the Iraqi government is remarkably similar to the threats that North Korea routinely uses to intimidate the world community. If it appears that the corpse of Saddam Hussein was abused after the execution, then a whole new round of world community outrage could once again result.

Wal-Mart Starting Multimillion Dollar Propaganda Ads Today Instead Of Raising Worker Wages Or Providing Better Health Care Benefits

Wal-Mart Corporation is starting a multimillion dollar propaganda advertising campaign today to claim how much "good" they do for working people or American society. Yet this whitewash campaign does little to change the fact that Wal-Mart is little more than a mega-vender for the labor cheap manufactured goods from China and other low wage places that wash away more and more higher paying American manufacturing jobs each year while Wal-Mart and other low wage mega-retailers provide low wage jobs to Americans selling these cheap import goods.

Wal-Mart could do well by it's workers by moving more of them above the federal poverty line by increasing wages or unioning like the Kroger owned Fred Meyer Stores. In Oregon, for example, Fred Meyer is now the only store that sells department store type goods that is unionized.

Wal-Mart could also provide better for the health care of it's workers insteadof so many having to seek public health care programs because of the low wages at Wal-Mart keeping many families in poverty. Many Wal-Mart workers also seek Food Stamps or other public asistance programs to make up for the low wages they receive at Wal-Mart.

In Maryland, Republican Governor Robert Ehrlich became the only incumbent governor to lose re-election after he vetoed a bill mandating that a mere 8% of company payrolls of large employers go towards paying for a health care program for their workers. Wal-Mart was the business most impacted by this bill known as the "Wal-Mart" health care bill. Most other businesses in maryland provide about 15% of their salary budget towards worker health care. When the Maryland legislature was able to override the veto of Gov. Ehrlich, then Wal-Mart was able to appeal the law to a conservative Federal judge.

After an appeal by conservative Republican Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi for Wal-Mart to start a huge lobby organization to further their greedy corporate interests, Wal-Mart now runs the largest single business lobby organization in the U.S. Alice Walton, the daughter of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, has already given about $5 million in political donations to candidates or political organizations that support keeping wages low in the U.S. Many topWal-Mart executives draw salaries in the high six fugures compared to their largely minimum wage workforce.

Wal-Mart needs much more than some proganda campaign of ads to rehabilitate their business image. There needs to some deeds to match their hollow words.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

London's THE TIMES Reports That Israel Is Planning For Possible Nuclear Weapons Attack On Iranian Nuclear Program

A shocking new story appeared on the London based, THE TIMES Sunday morning, claiming that the Israeli air force is practicing and planning for a nuclear weapons attack on Iran's nuclear program. The mission is said to involve nuclear "bunker busters" to get at the very deep 75 to 100 feet underground level of the Iranian nuclear research sites.

One year ago, it was known that Israel was granted use of Turkish airspace to practice for bombing attacks on Iran at the request of the U.S., and that the U.S. helped to provide at least 500 to 5,000 additional "bunker buster" type bombs to Israel as well. Israel is thought to have as many as 300 nuclear devices or warheads, and may have retrofitted these conventional weapons with depleted uranium warheads that can slice through many feet of hardened concrete bunkers with some sort of low yield nuclear warheads. Yet the possibility of spreading dangerous radiation from these weapons still remains a real possibility.

The U.S. and Israel may be playing a psychological game with Iran to force Iran into peacefully resolving this matter with the world community by allowing this shocking story to leak. It is also possible that Israeli politicians may have become so concerned about Iranian intentions to possiby build nuclear weapons or destroy Israel that they are entering into a dangerous renegade foreign policy willing to take the consequences from the world community in an effort to protect their tiny nation. In the narrowest portion, Israel is only 11 miles wide for example.

Part of the reason that Iran may be attempting to build nuclear reactors could be that by 2014 or 2015, Iranian oil resources may be so depleted that Iran may have to stop all oil exports entirely to the world. This could force Iran to seek expanision into neighboring Iraq on one hand, or attempting to build an economy that builds and exports weapons, including nuclear , to other nations. When a nation lacks natural resources or is running out of assets, they can violently seek mineral assets that they are lacking. During WWII, Japan started a war with the U.S. when the U.S. cut off steel exports needed by their expanionist war efforts in Asia. Britain, France, Portugal and Spain all sought expanionist colonialist efforts into poor nations with mineral asets needed by these nations at one time or the other.

Perhaps the best compromise would be allowing Iran a very tightly controlled nuclear power program with close world community supervision and handling of all nuclear waste. The alternative could mean WWIII in the MidEast with a huge Iranian fleet of chemical weapon tipped missiles hitting Israel and the American forces in Iraq in response to any limited Israeli attack on their nuclear program. The new story in London's THE TIMES does raise the ante for Iran to accept some sort of peaceful use of nuclear power development solution from the world community. China and Russia both have strong economic or military wares ties to Iran, both President Putin and the Chinese seem more on board for a peaceful resolution or more strict sanctions than previously, acting as further pressure for Iran to cooperate in some sort of a solution. But an Israeli nuclear first strike could undermine all of this to say the very least.

As Chinese Influence And Foreign Policy Importance Grows, The U.S. Compromises Support For Taiwan

The latest signs that the U.S. is compromising it's support for Taiwan due to the growing influence of China as a world power and holder of $200 billion in U.S. Treasury Bonds, and key player in world trouble spot foreign policy was seen on Friday when visiting Chinese Vice Foreign Minister, Yang Jiechi, was promised by U.S. Secretary Of State, Condoleezza Rice, that the U.S. supports a "one China policy". Simply put, the U.S. wishes to avoid conflict over Taiwan with China that has become a major world player, and the U.S. is now compromising it's values that would normally support a nation's self determination free of Communist influence.

Traditionally, the Republican Party was seen as the most antiCommunist of the two American parties. During the 1950's, Vice President Richard Nixon often acted as the antiCommunist bulldog for the Eisenhower Administration. But after becoming President after winning the 1968 election, Nixon moved to improve relations with China. China quickly warmed to these relations with less antiAmerican rehortic in their press, and more antiSoviet foreign policy leanings. Today China has a military alliance with Russia as a counterweight to the U.S. while having a positive and strong economic relationship with the U.S. But with China's support vitally needed on Iran and North Korea, the U.S. has found itself having to compromise traditional support for Taiwan because of the larger good of avoiding conflict with China, and needing their help with foreign policy, and also because China holds $200 billion in U.S. Treasury Bonds, helping to prevent the economic collapse of the American government.

China has found the $200 billion in U.S. Treasury Bonds to be a powerful force in influencing American trade policy as well. Congresss has tended to steadily weaken any trade barriers to massive Chinese imports, although the massive trade imbalance and currency concerns certainly remain as issues and are under negotiation.

Donald Trump's Continued War With Rosie O'Donnell Could Hurt APPRENTICE Ratings

Donald Trump has often proved himself to be the master of hype and publicity. But this time he may have overplayed his hand. The public is nearly evenly split according to some informal polls on whether they tend to side with Trump or O'Donnell in their continued feud. In fact, as O'Donnell cooled her side in this conflict, Trump's continued and very personal attacks have taken on the childish quality of a schoolyard bully. This sort of publicity cannot possiby help Trump's season premiere set for tonight on NBC of THE APPRENTICE.

Even the thin reasons used to fire his usual female assistant on THE APPRENTICE, replacing her with his daughter, Ivanka, may only serve as a reminder of the growing public perception of Trump being a mean and petty man. Even the gererous and kind reward that Trump paid to the "Subway Hero" of $10,000 seems to have been drowned out in his loud and nasty attacks on O'Donnell. THE APPRENTICE has already proven some signs of ratings fatigue with viewers last season, when the Martha Stewart version became a quick ratings failure and was cancelled.

It will be an important test whether the public wants to see more of Donald Trump by watching his APPRENTICE show, or whether they think that they've more than enough from Trump recently and will stick with the very popular programs on CBS or ABC instead.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Iraq Offers New Threat To World Community Nations

As yet another example that the government of Iraq is headed down the path of a violent Shiite sectarian theocracy dictatorship, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki offered a fresh threat to the world community that is critical of their executions of political prisoners and former members of the Saddam Hussein regime. Prime Minister al-Maliki warned the world community that executions of political prisoners are an "internal affair" and threatened to "review relations" of any nation critical of the continued executions of political prisoners in Iraq. This same type of harsh threatening language has often come from nations such as North Korea or other authoritarian Communist states or dictatorships.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon urged a moritorum on any more executions in Iraq because of the sectarian damage it is creating in Iraq and the outrage in much of the world community when it appeared that Shiite militia members associated with the radical Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr were the executioners for the Saddam Hussein execution. But given the new hardline arrogant stand against the world community by the Iraq government, the chances of getting this nation to respond to world community pleas appear to be falling on death ears.

The trend is clear. Iraq will eventually force all international forces from involvement in their nation including the U.S. and eventually become one of the worst violent dictatorships on planet earth. Widespread genocide by the Shiite government against the Sunni community will likely result. This is hardly what so many American soldiers lost their lives or were wounded to put into power in Iraq. Iraq is quickly becoming one of the world's most corrupt and violent governments andthe continued U.S. role is such a state requires a serious review by the every American.

British Royal Navy Will Mothball About Half Of It's 44 Warship Fleet

In a cost cutting move meant to save money, the British Royal Navy will have to mothball about half of it's 44 warship fleet. This will leave the U.S. as the only real power left in the world to respond to any real incidents involving North Korea, Iran or other world flashpoint areas. Russia and China have significant navy forces, but these are for their own military and foreign policy objectives which are not always nearly the same as the U.S. interests. For example, China issued a a new warning to the U.S. to control any ambitions in Taiwan for independence as China still regards this area as a renegade province. This is one area that could still become a military flashpoint between the Navy units of the U.S. and China because emotions are so strong on this issue.

While the U.S. measures it's military budget in terms of hundreds of billions of dollars, the cost savings to the British military budget of saving about $250 million dollars by mothballing about half of their navy is significant. Ever since the Suez Canal Crisis in 1956, British influence around the world greatly suffered. And the British military began a steady decline as as major world fighting force.

The British Royal Navy was once the frontline military force of British colonialism. The last vestiges were in the Middle East, but when Egyptian strongman Gamal Nasser declared the nationalization of the Suez Canal in 1956, British, French and Israeli forces were backed into defending this as an international waterway without American help. The U.S. was tied up in a political showdown with the Soviets in Hungary with the 1956 uprising there, and could not really intervene and back up the British, French and Israeli forces. Although these combined forces could achieve most military goals, the Suez Canal incident was as a huge blow to what was left of British colonialism.

Gamal Nasser inspired a new movement in the MidEast known as Arab Socialism, a new form of Arab nationalist secularist movement, where Baathist parties became powerful forces of Arab nationalism in Egypt, Syria and Iraq. By 1958, a rebellion in Iraq was able to force British forces from the MidEast entirely and spelled the end of British control around the world. Only in the short 1980's Falkland War was Britain to attempt to maintain control with their military of a small island from Argentina. By then, the British military was so diminished in quality that the little Argentine Navy was able to destroy a British warship, the HMS Sheffield with a crude missile, although Britain eventually won what was described as a "silly little war".

But the end of British rule in the MidEast with the exit from Iraq in 1958 was really the last major stand for British colonial rule. After WWI, the end the defeat of the Turkish Ottoman Empire forces and their German allies, an upheaval in the Turkish government ended centuries of Ottoman rule, opening this society up to a more secular rule much less dependent on spreading Islam throughout the world. At one point in the Middle Ages, Muslim armies made at least two attempts to bring down Vienna in an attempt to consolidate Muslim rule over all of Europe.

In popular folklore history, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill drew up an occupation map for a new occupation zone known as "Iraq" that comprised persons from three different Muslim backgrounds after WWI when oil had been discovered in the region. With the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Britain faced no formal military opposition to this land and resource grab in the MidEast. But insurgent violence soon forced Britain into aircraft bombing of entire Iraqi villages and mustard gassing of entire Iraqi towns. Britain tended to side with Sunni concerns in the conflict, however with a big majority of MidEast citizens tend to be Sunni such as in Saudi Arabia, probably leading Britain to side with the strongest sectarian majority of MidEast Arabs. By 1958, a rebellion lead to Britain leaving Iraq and the MidEast and Gamal Nasser's Arab Socialist movement loosened British control and brought many Arab governments closer to the Soviets for military and political support. Gradually MidEast states began to remove the Soviet influence with Iraq and Iran two last areas in which the modern state of Russia had some major economic or military ties.

The decline of the British Royal Navy marks the decline of the power of this former colonial power to rule the developing nations of the earth. For modern times, it puts the U.S. and the building economy and People's Navy of China as perhaps the two largest Naval forces of the future. It also begs a cooperative nature between the U.S. and China on mutual common ground on foreign policy, and to attempt to paper over differences on topics such as Taiwan. While the U.S. can count on some ground forces from NATO for their Western foreign policy objectives, without the British Royal Navy as a "coalition" partner, the U.S. may find their Naval choices now more limited to deploy troops or to enforce blockades.

Outrageous Shock Videos Prosecuted On Obscenity Charges

YouTube and many other user videowebsites have almost encouraged the public to send in videos that are are weird and wacky as the only way to get some attention. Sometimes the best way to get this attention or to make some lists of the most outrageous videos is to keep crossing some new line of bad taste. Some enterprising young men living in a Florida Condo on a student visa from Brazil decided that getting into the bad taste shock video business was a great way to supplement their income instead of taking a summer job. One man is now under arrest for importing and distributing shock videos from an outrageous distributor in Brazil, VomitBrazil, which apparently specializes in sick and wholly offensive fetish videos according to TV station WFTV 9 in Florida. According to this news source, these videos involve extremely tasteless fetish content such as vomiting. Some programs like Howard Stern or other "shock jocks" have popularized sick and tasteless stunts or persons willing to do extremely gross stunts for money. Apparently these videos cater to this crazy type of audience demand to watch person do gross things, while completely disgusting everyone else.

Why anyone would even be interested in such sick videos as entertainment seems to raise some mental health issues. Certainly the material is entirely disgusting and of only limited interest or appeal. Even most material thought of as adult in nature would not even welcome such awful content. Video distributors or rental stores, even those dealing with adult entertainment would not even welcome this material. The question is who would even think there's a market for such material or money to be made from it. These young men on student visas apparently drew a quick complaint from someone and a prosecution for attempting to market these goods in area with one of America's most conservative federal prosecutors.

Cuban American federal prosecutor, R. Alexander Acosta has set himself aside in America has perhaps the most radical of prosecutors of obscenity. He has faced big opposition from others in law enforcement for prosecuting bad taste "crimes", while very serious problems like organized crime, terrorism, money laundering, drugs or gangs flourish in the Miami area. Acosta is a favorite of Focus On The Family and other right wing organizations. But does the government have any legitimate role acting as the morality police for fringe bad taste entertainment or those who support this total lack of good sense to support such nonsense entertainment?

The Bill Of Rights has historically defended the right of all free speech since the days of the founding fathers, until 1840 when a Massachusetts book dealer was arrested without charge for offering for sale a copy of the racy European novel, FANNY HILL. It wasn't until a full year later that the dealer was finally facing a real criminal charge when the Massachusetts legislature finally wrote a law to justify his arrest. In 1973, a very narrow 5 to 4 U.S. Supreme Court decision allowed local communities to decide what level of free speech is allowed in relationship to obscene speech. It then became a matter of individual taste of judges or local juries whether books , movies, comic books, record albums, standup comics, musical groups, etc. violated some local "community standard" for good taste and could then be fined or sent to prison. One Supreme Court justice that supported the 1973 local community standards decision was Willian Brennan. But Brennan admitted that he was wrong in later years and voted with a minority in later cases that bad taste speech was also constitutionally protected just as the Bill Of Rights text proved no intent that bad taste speech was not to have legal protections as protected speech. The added legal problem for a local violation of community standards is that a person then can face federal charges as well. Unlike other crimes such as murder or robbery based on a real concrete crime or victim, local obscenity laws deal with a subjective nature and a matter of opinion. It is an absurd standard to base law on, and local community standards also allow for a conservative community to act far more conservative than most of the country, or to bring down a website or business operating in another state where the content of their speech may be considered to be offensive, but constitutionally protected speech. Standards of what is acceptable also change as well. At one time mere four letter words or nudity could bring a prison sentence or fine, now the boys from Brazil had to introduce vomit to offend someone enough to bring charges and face five years in a federal prison.

It's too bad that some wish to express themselves in wholly offensive manners in entertainment. But at the same time the original intent of the Bill Of Rights seems to defend the right of such bad taste speech to exist. Conservative activist judges were never intended the right to remove portions of the Bill Of Rights that they don't agree with in order to inject their personal or some church doctrine morality into the secular law. There are few who would want to defend the vomit boys from Brazil. But there's an important legal point here buried beyond their total lack of good taste in what constitutes entertainment.