Monday, August 28, 2006 

Extended Break (Again?)

Sorry to tell you all that I will have to take another extended break. I’ve simply got too many commitments in my life to keep up with this site in a fashion that would do it justice.

I am more than happy to consider any guest posters if one of my readers is interested. My only requirements would be that you not directly associate yourself with a particular political party or agenda, and that you openly digest information directly affiliated with United States politics (i.e. don’t post about East Timor if it doesn’t involve us).

I’m not sure if any of my readers qualify as that, or if any are actually interested, but either way, I will not make regular posts on here for awhile. I will try to drop in, and if I read something of particular interest to me, I’ll post that here, so I do invite you to check in from time to time.

Thanks in advance.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006 

Is Your Internet Freedom Up For Auction?

So, I’m over at Life’s Journey, and I see a post about the usual “They’re going to Big Brother our blogs!” bit that pops up ever so often on left leaning sites.

You know what I’m talking about, it’s the usual yarn about why we all need our tinfoil hats on, because Enemy of the State blogs (like most lefties think they are) are being targeted by evil “neo-cons” and “capitalists”… bla bla bla

But anyway, she (betmo at Life’s Journey) linked to an “article” over at The Nation: a liberal site mildly based on news with a heavy dose of opinion (think: newspaper of nothing but Op-Ed pieces).

Well, I read this long (I mean LONG) article posted about a new telecommunications reform bill, being pushed by Republican Senator Ted Stevens, that would essentially “sets the stage for the privatized, consolidated and unregulated communications system.” While I understand that the idea of privatizing things that have been regulated by the government for long periods of time always scares liberals (it deviates too far from socialism), I really took the time to read this one because I was hoping that aside from the innuendo of “capitalist greed” and “unfair monopoly” that would be the ruin of us all, I’d get some nugget that would actually justify any protest of this aside from the usual partisan politics.

My efforts were rewarded. Although I think the author should have pointed this out first to avoid the risk of losing other less patient readers, here is some justification that I can really get into:

“Absent net neutrality and other safeguards, the phone/cable plan seeks to impose what is called a "policy-based" broadband system that creates "rules" of service for every user and online content provider. How much one can afford to spend would determine the range and quality of digital media access. Broadband connections would be governed by ever-vigilant network software engaged in "traffic policing" to insure each user couldn't exceed the "granted resources" supervised by "admission control" technologies. Mechanisms are being put in place so our monopoly providers can "differentiate charging in real time for a wide range of applications and events." Among the services that can form the basis of new revenues, notes Alcatel, is online content related to "community, forums, Internet access, information, news, find your way (navigation), marketing push, and health monitoring."

Now, why does this one hit me? Because this type of control is currently being used in everyone’s cable television plans right now. Sure, you have access to all the basic channels… but for just a little more, you can get access to the “expanded” or “deluxe” channel set. And for even more, they’ll give it to you in HD, and maybe toss in some movie channels.

That’s fine, but what happens if they expand that mentality to the internet? What happens when all the “basic” websites are available, but anything linked from Google or Yahoo require the “expanded” service? What happens when all online Flash media requires the “Deluxe” package? How about when they start putting the same type of filters that your work uses to keep you out of things, and just make you pay for the more open ranged access?

Not so funny now huh? Not so “typical liberal hysteria” anymore? I think I’ll watch this one a bit more closely. I know that media companies are in it to make money. And I know that putting a price on unfiltered internet would make for a quick buck, and I know that with that mechanism in place, our own capitalism would be the United States new version of the Chinese government’s web control. Freedom to access and interact with free-flowing information is one of the things that make us strong, and whether it be totalitarian government, or corporations vying for market share, we cannot allow that to be risked.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006 

Bush: US Stays in Iraq as Long as He is Office (Why the Sudden Change?)

In stark contrast to British policy

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain may cut its force in Iraq in half by the middle of next year after handing over security responsibility for the south to Iraqis within nine months, a senior British commander said on Tuesday.

President Bush announced that he plans to keep US forces for the remainder of his administration, citing "Leaving before the job was done would send a signal to our troops that the sacrifices they made were not worth it" as well as emboldening terrorists.

However, this attitude is starkly different from the path we were headed down just a few months ago when the Pentagon announced significant troop withdrawals by Dec. 2007.

While the White House and Congressional talking heads will all point to this as domestic politics (i.e. Bush needs to look firm, forcing Democrats to take stronger stance), I think there is something much bigger, and perhaps much more chilling involved here. Let me set the stage:

With the Israeli offensive against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, known puppet forces for the Syrian and Iranian regime, essentially the conflict between the Muslim world’s biggest stick and the Western world’s most powerful interest in the area is wide open again. Israel and Iran are both openly exchanging threats to each other now.

At the same time, we’ve gotten two major terror plots uncovered and (thankfully) averted within the last 30 days. This means that Israel and Iran really could go to open war at the slightest offense, and there are once again global plots by rogue groups intent on disrupting world affairs.

During all of this, Iran has drawn the line in the sand over their nuclear policy and developing capabilities. They’ve thumbed their noses at the UN the rest of the world, and they’ve gone a step further by fanning the flames.

Combine all this with US/South Korean military exercises that have been obviously impressive enough as to provoke threats from North Korea of attacks if we don’t back off.

Why? Why is Bush suddenly becoming a brick wall on Iraq and why are we suddenly flashing our sword at North Korea?

The US presence in Iraq is a definite thorn in the side of Iran and any plans they have for aggressive actions in the global arena. North Korea would most definitely take advantage of distractions and make some moves that would tax the abilities of the US to respond should something spark up between either Israel or the US and Iran.

Are things much tenser with Iran that anyone in the political world will admit? Or is all this really just unrelated issues coalescing at the same time?

Friday, August 18, 2006 

Democrat Leaders Angry that Lieberman is Right and America is Buying It

(The Hill) A group of Senate Democrats is growing increasingly angry about Sen. Joe Lieberman’s (D-Conn.) campaign tactics since he lost the Democratic primary last week.

If he continues to alienate his colleagues, Lieberman could be stripped of his seniority within the Democratic caucus should he defeat Democrat Ned Lamont in the general election this November, according to some senior Democratic aides.

In recent days, Lieberman has rankled Democrats in the upper chamber by suggesting that those who support bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq by a certain date would bolster terrorists’ planning attacks against the U.S. and its allies. He also sparked resentment by saying last week on NBC’s Today show that the Democratic Party was out of the political mainstream.

And in related news:

BOSTON (Reuters) - U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, a three-term Democrat now running as an independent candidate, leads the man who beat him in last week's primary vote by 12 points in a three-way race, a poll released on Thursday shows.
I have hit this story now 3 times. I just cannot express enough how much this screams insanity to me that Lieberman, who was the Democratic Vice Presidential candidate just 7 years ago, is going to be kicked out of the party if he WINS an election?!?!

Senate Democrats are "rankled" because he suggests that the Party is out of the mainstream... BUT HE'S AHEAD BY 12 POINTS IN POLLS! And they still insist that he's the one leaving the party, he's the one upsetting voters, he's the one that is leaving the mainstream....

Like I said before, Democrats need to reevaluate their party and figure out how much crap they've been fed for the last 6 years, and how much more they are going to take before they make their Party become something mainstream America will vote for again. You don't win elections by just NOT being someone else (i.e. Bush), you actually have to represent the majority of America. Right now, that is not what the Democratic party is interested in. When they lose Connecticut, and Lieberman drops his party affiliations and loyalties, will that be enough? Or will they push further still and insist that Hillary Clinton is not a good candidate either and then shover her out despite the fact that she's their best hope for Presidential win in '08?

Thursday, August 17, 2006 

Sen. George Allen May Not be Racist, but He Sure Is Eating His Shoe

So, speaking into the camera of his political opponent’s operative at a fund raiser speech, Sen. George Allen says some stuff that folks in the political arena call a “gaffe”.

(CNN) "This fellow here, over here with the yellow shirt, Macaca, or whatever his name is," said Allen, who at times pointed directly at the camera. "He's with my opponent. He's following us around everywhere. And it's just great."

addressing Sidarth (the camera man).

"Let's give a welcome to Macaca, here," Allen said. "Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia."

Problem is, Macaca is a reference to a monkey (whoops), and Sidarth is a second generation American of Indian decent, hence needs no introduction to America (double woops!).

While I’m not sure I’m buying the line that Allen’s handlers are peddling for the Macaca remark (he didn't know what it meant), I’m definitely not buying the bit that he meant: “Welcome to the real America because Webb hasn’t visited many places”.

So far Senetor Allen has indirectly apologized about the comments, or rather the “misinterpretation” of his comments, he still hasn’t told Sidarth directly that he’s sorry. I’m not holding my breath though.

Here’s the real rub for me: If Senator Allen has aspirations for potential GOP candidacy in ’08, he’s got to be 100% sure that people don’t perceive him as potentially racist in any way. This whole episode reminds me of something from “Blazing Saddles” where the sheriff walks into the Governors office…

If you’ve never seen the movie, think a bunch of white guys trying their best to not show the new black sheriff that they’re not comfortable with a man of “color” with a badge, yet tripping all over themselves as they pull off foot-in-mouth maneuvers left and right.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006 

Jimmy Carter and Iran Agree that Israel is Wrong

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) - Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a message to Hezbollah head Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, described the militant group's clashes with Israel as a "victory" for Islam.

And former President Jimmy Carter:

(SPIEGEL) No, as a matter of fact, the concerns I exposed have gotten even worse now with the United States supporting and encouraging Israel in its unjustified attack on Lebanon.

So, if the logic of “a=b, and b=c, then c=a” holds.. Iran and Jimmy Carter feel the same way about Israel?

Well, maybe Mr. Carter at least thinks the people of Israel don’t need to be wiped off the face of the earth?

I am so sick of American and European nation’s political leaders acting like our entire influence in the Mid-East doesn’t have direct ties to the strength of Israel, and that an attack on Israel is a direct attack on the very foundations of western style society in the region. I’m getting irritated with people that are ready to blame Israel for all the violence, but readily forget that they were attack first by the entire Arab region, and stand every day under direct threat of total destruction by all their neighbors.

I think some Americans need to remember that 90% of the time Israel is the victim… because every time we try to paint them as the bad guy, it’s the equivalent of saying that the girl who was mugged by five guys is wrong for using her can of mace to get away.

Get serious about it and quit totting party lines. Iran, Syria, Joradan, Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Oman would rejoice if the Israel were to suddenly disappear, and four of that list were complicit in the war that caused Israel’s “occupation”… yet we still want to point at them as the “reason” for the violence?

Good Grief.

Monday, August 14, 2006 

GOP Has Got a 2 out of 3 Chance in Connecticut Race:

(Rasmussen Reports) Senator Joe Lieberman’s decision to run as an Independent sets up a lively campaign season for Connecticut voters. In the first General Election poll since Ned Lamont defeated Lieberman in Tuesday’s primary, the incumbent is hanging on to a five percentage point lead. Lieberman earns support from 46% of Connecticut voters while Lamont is the choice of 41% (see crosstabs).

A month ago, the candidates were tied at 40% each. Republican Alan Schlesinger earns just 6% of the vote, down from 13% a month ago. 57% of the state's voters view Lieberman as politically moderate while 51% see Lamont as liberal. Half (52%) of Lamont voters believe Bush should be impeached and removed from office. Just 15% of Lieberman voters share that view. Overall, 55% of Connecticut voters trust Lieberman more than Lamont when it comes to the War on Terror. Thirty-one percent (31%) trust Lamont.

Thirty-one percent (31%) have a Very Favorable opinion of Lieberman, 18% Very Unfavorable. For Lamont, the numbers are 19% Very Favorable, 23% Very Unfavorable. Lieberman still attracts 35% of votes from Democrats. Lamont will have to find a way to trim that number without alienating unaffiliated voters. Lieberman is viewed at least somewhat favorably by 65% of unaffiliated voters compared to 49% for Lamont.


  • If the Republican candidate pulled off a miracle, the GOP has an obvious victory
  • If Lieberman wins, the GOP has an indirect victory over the fringe of the DNC
  • If Lamont wins, the DNC has a victory as their agenda sits well with the majority

Either way, we’re looking at pretty good Vegas odds for the GOP in Connecticut in a season where the Democrats are promising big gains in Congress.

The agenda they’ve been pushed towards by the radical elements of their party is about to shove the entire movement over a line they can not turn back from. Lieberman is/was, by all accounts, a very liberal Senator (voting record). Yet they’ve shoved him off as a Bush crony and are now pounding Hillary Clinton for the same stance, and even threaten to try and dethrone her from the DNC ticket in New York as well.

If she were to run as an Independent like Lieberman is, what would it mean for the Democratic Party to toss out two of its biggest stars? Especially when political wins are so desperately needed?

I encourage all moderate Democrats to reevaluate their party, their party affiliations, and their voting choices. I encourage all Democrats to demand more accountability and majority representation from their Party and not allow it to be driven off a cliff of immature and naive idealism that serves only to line the pockets of the fund raisers themselves.

We need more than one viable political party in America, and this rash of radical liberals that have hijacked the DNC are doing everything they can to kill that system. We voters are being left with either subscribing the a radical left agenda, or the humdrum vanilla that the RNC is dishing out. Democrats are the only ones who can change this, and this Independent implores you to do so.


Al Gore Talks the Talk, but Doesnt Walk the Walk

When debating the Global Warming issue, those of us that believe this to be a man-made hoax (not the warming part, just the cause of it) geared into generating profits and political prestige are often chided as “obtuse”, “ignorant”, “uncaring”, and just plain blind to the truth.

Al Gore, pushed by his self proclaimed apocalyptic vision of an earth doomed by global warming has decided to change our minds. We all know and love his stance on the Environment, and of course his newest contribution: the documentary “An Incontinent Truth.”

However, for someone who apparently sees the earth on the precipice of doom if people (most specifically Americans) don’t change their ways, Mr. Gore seems pretty stress-free about his own lifestyle. In a recent paper by Peter Schweizer, Al’s life style is examined to see if he measures up to the “carbon-neutral” life that he advocates for the rest of us.

Unfortunately (but not unsurprisingly) he fails to meet this standard in a myriad of ways. He stated that he uses renewable energy credits to offset the jet-setting around to give speeches, and he drives a hybrid. But what he didn’t tell you is that he owns three homes. A 10,000 (8 bathrooms!) sqft home in Nashville, a 4,000 sqft home in Arlington Va, and another in Carthage TN. First, let’s just imagine the utility bills there. Then imagine how much of that is powered by “carbon-neutral” methods.

I’m not advocating the man go homeless, but is a 10k square foot mansion needed in conjunction with two other homes? But wait, there’s more: In his Arlington VA home and Nashville home the local power companies offer a program where, for a $.02 increase per KW, you can have your home powered via wind energy. But guess who’s not on that program… for either home. That’s a lot of light bulbs and air conditioning running off of a non-renewable power source.

Then of course there is the matter of his families stock holdings (of which he is prime executor). Occidental (Oxy) Petroleum, who has been mired in controversy over oil drilling in ecologically sensitive areas, doesn’t seem to be a stock that Al Gore minds owning, and owning lots of; hundreds of thousands of dollars worth.

However there is also the issue of the little known mining company Pasminco Zinc. They give Al $20,000 a year in royalties for the zinc they pull from a mine on land he owns. Yet the company is pretty well known to Tennessee authorities for adding large quantities of barium, iron and zinc to the nearby Caney Fork River.

All of this really is just pointing fingers around, but if the situation is so dire, and the need is so great… why does the change always have to start with the rest of us? Why can’t the change start with the most influential, the most well-known, the most wealthy of the Global Warming elite?

Actions speak louder than words, and maybe we’re not in the mortal danger that is being shoved down our throats after all?

Thursday, August 10, 2006 

The Iran Ahmadinejad Wants You To See

(CBS News) The American government, sir, it is very clear to me they have to change their behavior and everything will be resolved. (George W. Bush) believes that his power emanates from his nuclear warhead arsenals. The time of the bomb is in the past, it's behind us. Today is the era of thoughts, dialogue and cultural exchanges."

- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Aug 08, 2006

Does he mean like this?

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard have been found among Hizbollah guerrillas slain by Israeli forces in southern Lebanon, [and] Israel says many of the rockets being fired against its civilian and military targets are Iranian made, and that Hizbollah fighters taking on its forces trained in Iran. Washington also accuses Tehran of actively funding Hizbollah.

Or maybe like this:

(AP) British authorities said Thursday they had thwarted a terrorist plot to simultaneously blow up several aircraft heading to the U.S. using explosives smuggled in carry-on luggage, averting what police described as "mass murder on an unimaginable scale."

Perhaps more like this:

(DPA) While chanting "Death to America", "Death of Israel" and "Nuclear energy is our undisputable right", the crowd walked toward the Azadi (Freedom) Square in Tehran where Ahmadinejad held his annual speech.

In his speech the Iranian president warned that in case of harsh measures against Tehran over its controversial nuclear programme, the country would revise its commitment toward the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Wait, I know what he means, culture and dialogue like this:

(OpenNet Initiative) Iran has adopted one of the world's most substantial Internet censorship regimes. Iran, along with China, is among a small group of states with the most sophisticated state-mandated filtering systems in the world.

I find it almost humorous that this man will attempt to paint the picture of his Iran being a peace loving nation of intellectuals and a center of Persian enlightenment as he sends money, weapons, and troops to Lebanon to kill Israelis, actively supports terrorism and terrorist activities, and clamps down on all outside thought and free expression in his own nation.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006 

Political Parties Polluted by Pandering Pocket Pickers (say that 3x fast).

I commented one time on a blog called “After Downing Street”: a very liberal site dedicated to making sure Bush doesn’t win in ’08 (yes, I’m being sarcastic). By doing so, apparently I’ve signed myself up for their newsletter, which I receive periodically via email. I usually read with amusement at the zany antics these guys are planning, and the usual rants that jump off into the abyss of irrational.


This last one I received, along with my previous post about Lieberman, made me seriously question the future plausibility of the Democratic Party, and their role in politics. It seems to me that the entire Party has abandoned their former insistence on social reform, civil liberties, economic vitalization, and domestic elevations and qualities. Instead, these have all been replaced, entirely, with a campaign against President Bush. Yet I also suspect there are some ulterior motives involved here.

There are many avenues that are taken to attack him (he’s left so many open to his opponents), but most directly is the war in Iraq. There is the accusation that he intentionally lied to get into a war, the accusation that he only went to war to line the pockets of the “rich”, the accusation that he authorized torture and secret prisons, the accusation that he violated constitutional privacies in attempts to spy on Americans, etc.

But this apparently wasn’t good enough. So, Congressman John Conyers (D. MI) wrote a “report” citing specific laws that he has broken (26 to be exact). All this can be yours if you just buy the book (oh, and please do so it can “head to the best seller list”). Then of course there is the request to “call your local media and ask them to cover the book”, since it seems so baffling that the mainstream media is not covering it (they seriously wonder this stuff?). Either way, what’s important is that you BUY THE BOOK.

Next the agenda is moved to “Camp Democracy”! This apparently is compared with the likes of popular uprisings in the Ukraine, Mexico, and hence inferred to be a semi-revolution:

“At long last, Americans are preparing to say “Enough is enough,” and to do what Ukrainians, Mexicans or any other people not drugged into acquiescence would do when things got this bad: occupy the capital city to demand peace, justice, and accountability.”

Now, I’m not sure, but I don’t think any other “popular uprisings” required you to sign up for ride sharing, room sharing, flight sharing, or any other quaint ways to try and help people show up. Also, how are you going to “occupy the capital” by staying in local hotels? To occupy the capital, you need to actually stay in the capital, not just the metro area… but I guess that is beside the point.

Of course, after all these great ideas and nice tag lines about Mexico and the Ukraine, about freedom wrested back from the clutches of the evil Bush, and about Cindy Sheehan’s Camp Casey being moved there comes the inevitable:

We Need Your Help!

Camp Democracy is a grassroots effort and will only succeed with the help of many, many people contributing the small amounts they can afford. This is our opportunity to do what the citizens of the Ukraine, of Mexico, and of other countries do when their democracies are taken from them….

What? Go gather under tents, listen to Cindy Sheehan, Joan Baez, and some little known Democratic Politician up for election this year? Play music, eat food, and take up all the hotels in the DC area? That isn’t quite what people who’s “democracies are taken from them” do. However, I’ll make sure to remember to “contribute the small amount” I can afford.

So bottom line, you too can be like disgruntled Mexicans, just make sure to contribute via the links provided, and buy the book. Oh, and call your media, because those guys forgot a revolution was underway again. Is this really about "freedom", or is this about buying books and funding political agendas?


Lieberman Leaving Signaling Another Step Away From Center?

When do you think you’re party has been hijacked? When they start saying things you may disagree with? When they start to support and take funds from groups that do radical things? When their banner carriers are pushing agendas against long held American traditions? When their one-time Vice Presidential Candidate suddenly becomes the Party leper?

HARTFORD, Connecticut (Reuters) - Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman lost a Democratic Party showdown to a relative unknown on Tuesday, six years after he was chosen the Democratic vice presidential nominee.

Many knew this was coming, but even still, I cannot help but think that the majority of Democrats in America (the quiet ones that are not out going “radical”) are now shaking their heads wondering how one of their more prominent members whom was respected on both sides of the isle is now being cast out?

Even yet, there are many in the DNC that fear him more as the ever dreaded “INDEPENDENT”!

(AP) Unbowed, Lieberman immediately announced he would enter the fall campaign as an independent.

"As I see it, in this campaign we just finished the first half and the Lamont team is ahead. But, in the second half, our team, Team Connecticut, is going to surge forward to victory in November," Lieberman said after congratulating Lamont.

Lamont, a millionaire with virtually no political experience, ran on his opposition to the Iraq war. "They call Connecticut the land of steady habits," he said. "Tonight we voted for a big change."

I think there are going to be a large number of Democrats that start to see their party in a different way. However, there is still hope:

DECATUR, Ga. (AP) -- Cynthia McKinney, the fiery Georgia congresswoman known for her conspiracy theories about the Sept. 11 attacks and the scuffle she had earlier this year with a U.S. Capitol police officer, lost a runoff election Tuesday for her district's Democratic nomination.

At least some sanity reigns.

Footnote: McCain/Lieberman in 2008?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006 

11 Egyptian Men Disappear, Authorities Worried More About PC Effects

(NY Post) August 8, 2006 -- Eleven Egyptian students who
were supposed to travel to a Montana university after flying to JFK
airport late last month disappeared in New York, spurring federal
authorities to issue a nationwide alert, officials said yesterday.

Here is the part where we practically vomit out Political Correctness:
Kolko said there is no reason to believe the missing students, all men around 20 years old, represent a threat.

At this point, all they have done is not show up for a scheduled
academic program, and their visas have been revoked," Kolko said.
"We do not know of any association with any terrorist or criminal groups. There is no threat associated with these men. We have simply asked law enforcement's assistance in locating them so that the FBI and ICE may interview them."

What planet are we on where 11 (count them: ELEVEN!) Arab men, all in their 20's suddenly go missing the minute they hit the ground, and they all happen to be from the same place, yet it's not a cause for concern? I think we can safely say that there is a great cause for suspicion that these guys are working towards an effort that would be adverse to the interests of most Americans. I might be wrong here, but if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck....?

Here is the real kicker though:

[Montana State University Provost David Dooley] added, "We're very disappointed by this. It would be regrettable if the misadventures or irresponsibility of a number of students damaged these kinds of programs."
Well, I hope they don't blow something up and kill people with their "misadventures". The "damage to the programs" this might cause is, frankly, the least of my concerns.


(AP) WASHINGTON - The last two of the 11 Egyptian exchange students who failed to show up at their college program were apprehended Sunday in Richmond, Va., customs officials said.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested Mohamed Saleh Ahmed Maray, 20, and Mohamed Ibrahim Fouaad El Shenawy, 17, at an apartment building in Richmond on Sunday night. Virginia State Police and the Richmond Police helped locate the students.

Last Wednesday, one of the Egyptian students was arrested in Minneapolis and two were detained in Manville, N.J. On Thursday, two were arrested in Dundalk, Md., and one was arrested at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago. Three more were arrested Friday in Des Moines, Iowa.

The students were to attend a monthlong program at Montana State University in Bozeman, Mont. A group of 17 students arrived in New York on July 29. Six reported to Bozeman on time.

After Montana State repeatedly tried to contact the missing students, it notified
Homeland Security Department officials and registered the Egyptians as no-shows in a system to track foreign students developed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

None of the students is considered a terrorism risk.

Good job goes out to the FBI, INS, and other agencies able to make this happen so fast. I appreciate the fact that they insist no terrorism risks are involved, but if nothing else, conceder this a test run for if there were terrorism risks involved. I think they handled this with due diligence and efficiency.

Monday, August 07, 2006 

Blogging Improvements from

There is nothing in the news today that I wanted to post about, so I thought I'd give another site I visit occasionally a free plug. is a website authored by a series of bloggers who have special expertise on the subject of blogs and blogging. They've produced a couple of products to use specifically for
blogging, to include the one I used for this post. It is a plug (for Firefox only!) in that allows you to post to your blog directly from your internet browser... without visiting your blog's website.

So imagine you are scanning other blogs, or news sites, and you find yourself with something you'd like to post about. You no longer have to open a new window and begin the cut/paste process. You can blog that information you're reading in the same window pane that you're reading the information from. It comes with all the standard text editing functions of most blog
software, and is easy to use. The only problem I see with it is that it has no spell checker functionality, and if you're like me, that is a real problem. Thank goodness for Microsoft Word.

They have a plethora of other suggestions, tips, tricks and other information specifically geared towards bloggers and blogging. I suggest you pay them a visit.

Friday, August 04, 2006 

Is the Estate Tax Justified?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic senators blocked their own goal on Thursday of raising the U.S. minimum wage for the first time since 1997 after Republicans added a huge tax break for the rich to the legislation, actions sure to reverberate in this election year.

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said the proposed estate tax reduction, estimated to cost hundreds of billions of dollars, would have led to cuts in health care, food stamps and other government benefits and "end up hurting the very same people that a minimum wage increase is supposed to help."

Frist countered that the failed package was "important to millions of hard working Americans." And he said the "death tax" on inherited wealth has meant "90 percent of family businesses do not survive that third generation" because they cannot afford the taxes or the cost of finding tax shelters.

I have decided to essentially debate myself on this one, and really break from my usual stance on the estate tax. Believe it or not, but Mr. Frist’s statements about “third generation businesses” is what sent me down this road. So, with no further ado:

At the eve of the French Revolution, the “bourgeoisie” of society were quickly accumulating wealth and increasing the gap between working class and the “rich”. Of course all of Europe was used to the royalty’s monopoly on true wealth, but now with the advent of Europe’s Industrialization, a new “middle class” began to develop. But as we see in our history books, they eventually tipped over the edge of gaining a market share into creating another form of wealth monopoly.

Fast forward to today. America is full of a middle class. There are some in the “lower class”, and some in the “rich”, but in general, America is all “middle class”, and the term bourgeoisie is now reserved for the rich elite. This brings us to the obvious predicament of how to sustain a “middle class” and how to elevate a “lower class” without destroying the “upper class” to do it. It is the nature of people to strive for a better quality of life. In today’s world, this is roughly defined by one’s material standing, or ability to provide material comfort for their family.

With that in mind, realize that to accumulate wealth, you need to begin to realize “ownership” in your life. A paycheck and/or checking account do not equal wealth. The accumulation of things equals wealth. We can, for the sake of this post, use land and “estates” as our measure of wealth for the time being.

Under that premise, if we lived in a lazie fare society, it can be assumed that those with the material capital and ability would use that capability to accumulate wealth (see definition above). As they do this, their ability to accumulate wealth would increase on an exponential level. The more wealth you have, the more wealth you can accumulate.

At this point, you can see where the race to accumulate wealth, in order to improve your quality of life, becomes somewhat uneven. There are those in the “middle” whom have limited capability to accumulate wealth, those in the “lower class” that have almost no ability, and those in the “upper class” have the majority of wealth accumulation ability.

This proposes that at some point, since land and estate are a finite resource, that all available wealth would be taken, and it would leave us back in a state of Royalty versus Peasant (a la pre-Revolution Europe). Because the “royalty” owned all the land and wealth, the rest would become a peasant class forced to serve them in order to provide for themselves.

Wealth may exchange hands between the “royalty”, but with no wealth to start with, the peasant class is forced into a state of submission to the royalty. America was/is the most successful nation in the world because it transcended this philosophy. It was able to move past the idea that a select few should have the ownership, and the rest would serve that ownership to sustain it.

At the risk of sounding Marxist, is this success sustainable without methods of redistribution (e.g. Estate Tax)? Is the success of an ownership driven American sustainable if the “upper class” is able to continually distance themselves from the “middle” and “lower” classes? As the gap grows, remember that available wealth is a finite resource, the ability of the lower two classes to elevate themselves becomes severely hindered.

To some extent, are we already at this threshold? Even now, is there any except the extremely rich that do not have to rely on banks to finance their ability for ownership? 90% of America relies on the “wealth” of a select few to provide for themselves or to attempt a gain in wealth. We are slowly losing our ownership society to revolving credit and finance charges, while the “rich” increase their wealth holdings and estate sizes.

What happens when they are not selling any more? What happens when the proverbial “piece of the pie” is no longer on the shelf to buy? What happens when that bonus check you got at the end of year is no good, because there is nothing left to buy with it?

Makes me wonder… is a socialistic structure required to sustain a capitalistic society?


Pat Robertson Joins Global Warming Cult

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Conservative Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson said on Thursday the wave of scorching temperatures across the United States has converted him into a believer in global warming.

"We really need to address the burning of fossil fuels," Robertson said on his "700 Club" broadcast. "It is getting hotter, and the icecaps are melting and there is a buildup of carbon dioxide in the air."

Once again, we face this dilemma: We know the earth is getting warming, and we know that weather is warmer now than it was 10, 20, maybe even 30 years ago. But for us to say that these changes are something all together significant versus anything else in the history of the earth would mean that we’d have to have access to weather records over at least 500 years…

But, I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge this new item considering my stance on Global Warming.

So, I guess this still leaves us all at the impasse of either believing that man has caused this in the last 50 years, or it is part of a larger cycle far out of our limited control. We have all of earth’s history of unstable climate and shifting weather patterns on one end, and we have 25 years of pseudo-research and faulty computer projections with a whole lot of scare tactics on the other.

I’m torn?