Thursday, November 30, 2006

The "No Time To Do A Post" Open Thread

The title says it all. I got home from work late last evening and was too tired to think straight.

So today, you can pick the topic. For those of you that read PYY and do not have blogs (and those that do), you can post a mini-post of your own. Got a beef, pet peeve, or something you want to air out? Here's the chance to get it off of your chest. How about an idea, thought, or a suggestion? Feel free to post it.

I'll be back to normal tonight (Ihope).

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

More News Briefs And Commentary

I don't like to promote an upcoming post, because there's always the chance that it will not live up to the hype. But in this case I will; I have one coming up, right now I am calling it: The European Mystique.

But for now, I feel little inspiration and have even less time to find some, so I will do what I always do. And that is, inject my opinionated rhetoric into some of today's news stories.

Pelosi Nixes Hastings For Committee Chair

Smart move. Hastings would have been a tremendous mistake. I cannot for the life of me figure out why she would even consider a man that was impeached as a judge, for the Intelligence Committee. Question is, will she still bypass Harman?

PYY will take a more wait and see attitude, before singing her praises, just yet.

Pope In Turkey (So Far So Good)

So far, the Pope's trip is uneventful. After the usual tense exchange of superficial pleasantries, the Pope called for the standard "we need to have a better dialogue" response. Then, as if that wasn't enough for one day, he really hit the political issues, confirming his stance that Turkey should be admitted to the EU.

(For a Turkish news editorial in English read this.)

Jackson Calls For Boycott Of Seinfeld DVD

I guess there are people that just do not want this to die.

Look. What Richards did was wrong and I condemn it. He is the one that needs to apologize and he has. Whether the black community wants to forgive him or not, that's up to them, not me. But I fail to see the fairness in calling for a boycott of something that Seinfeld is doing. Jerry is not responsible for Richards' actions, why should people punish him?

Well, that's all we have time for today. Join us next time and we will teach you all how to train a hippopotamus.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Behavior Profiling

No doubt many people that follow current events have heard of the airline incident in Minneapolis, involving the six imams.

If you read the article at the end of the link, it sounds like officials made the right call. But, to no one's surprise, the imams and Islamic rights groups like CAIR and others are not happy.

From the sounds of things, there was something not quite right about this. It could have been one of a few things, here are some that stand out, in my mind.

1) A planned attack. I am not sure we can determine this without doing a more thorough investigation, but there is the likely possibility, it could been legit.

2) Dry run, to test and probe our procedural activities. They could have been looking for potential weaknesses in this specific airport. The enemy has psy-ops too. They study, they note, they report. Then, they analyze and tweak things.

3) Dry run to test our policies. The likelihood that there will be a lawsuit, is high. What a better way to soften up our security than to tie frivolous lawsuits up in our court system. Trying to tie the hands that are looking for them, weakens security and creates a better environment for terrorists to operate. They hope they will get lucky, in the future.

4) A mean-spirited effort to purposefully and willingly, intimidate other flyers. This is the least likely (in my opinion), yet, it is a possible theory.

Regardless, of what kind of spin CAIR (and the other fine people that make excuses for this kind of thing) puts on this, I cannot believe that they didn't know their behavior was unsettling. There are smarter people than me in this world for sure, but what kind of idiots do these people take us for?

We spend lots of money on increased security. (I don't think we are doing as good as we should, but hey, I will take whatever extra they are willing to put into it.) It would only stand to reason that officials be supported in their right to remove and detain those that openly display suspicious behavior. Period.

You get little opposition to this practice in other parts of the world. Why must we endure it, here? We cannot profile by ethnicity, will we lose our last hope for prevention of another attack, like 9/11?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Was Putin Set Up?

I do not always agree with Pat Buchanan, but occasionally he brings up some valid arguments and poses some interesting questions, worthy of debate and consideration. This is one.

PARIS—Whoever poisoned Alexander Litvinenko had two goals: a long and lingering death for the KGB defector and pointing a finger of accusation for his killing right in the face of Vladimir Putin.

Which leads me to believe Putin had nothing to do with it.

Read the rest and see what you think.

Then, there is this theory being circulated that Litvinenko did this to himself, to discredit Putin. That seems a bit far-fetched to me, but as I implied in my earlier post, this investigation will most likely take some twists and turns, before we know what happened, if ever.

But whether either of these theories is true or not, one thing remains true. People that are a thorn in Putin's side, have a peculiar way of getting dead.

(PS-I apologize for not getting a post up earlier today. Family matters, work, and watching the Colts perform surgery on the Philadelphia Eagles last night, kept me from writing a new one. This one was something I could slap up, quickly.)

Saturday, November 25, 2006

PYY News Briefs (And The Usual Opinionated Commentary That Goes With It)

Here are some items that I have found interesting:

Beijing Olympic Organizers Teach Volunteers To Smile

Correct me if I am wrong here, but isn't smiling a natural response. You smile when you are happy, no? It indicates something in your inner being, you cannot teach people to smile (at least not genuinely). What does that tell us about life in China?

Pope To Visit Mosque, during Turkish Visit?

The linked article just says it's "under consideration". My guess is it's being tossed out to gather a response. It's not set in stone, because if too many fundamentalist protestors raise a stink, he may have to back down. Then, those that may have extended the invitation, would have hurt feelings and possibly be angered by what they consider a snub. One thing for sure, it shows he is moving cautiously through this whole thing.

Iraq Moving Into Anarchy?

I have been supportive of our efforts in Iraq. I am one that firmly believes that Saddam had to go. My questions about the effort have always been about the timing so close on the heels of Afghanistan and the miscalculation/poor preparation, for after the fall of Saddam.

It was a good thing that a democratic republic was established, but what we are seeing now is a very weak and ineffective Iraqi government led by Prime Minister Maliki. He isn't stepping up any kind of security effort in the wake of sectarian violence, using Iraqi forces. He wants the U.S. forces to remain in Iraq, but ties their hands. Meanwhile the militias are gaining more and more free reign over Baghdad and other key areas.

Something has to give soon, or it will become an all-out civil war right before our eyes. I never thought I would say this, but if we cannot seek and destroy those responsible, if we cannot convince the Iraqi PM to act now while the fight is still young, and if the Iraqis themselves are not willing to stand up to this kind of thing on their own, we might as well come home.

It all goes back to when he had al-Sadr cornered in that mosque and then let him go. That's where much of this today, could have been avoided.

If we go to war we must go to win, that, or we don't go. And while I assign a certain amount of responsibility to the John Murtha's, John Kerry's and Cindy Sheehan's of this world for helping to embolden the enemy, they alone cannot be held completely responsible. But to their credit, they have manipulated the administration into fighting a "politically correct war" and quite frankly, there is no such thing.

If I were President, the Sunni triangle would be known as the Sunni canyon and al-Sadr would be dead. And damn the bleeding hearts. You can call me cruel if you want, but we'd be closer to being gone by now.

Rwanda Recalls Ambassador To France

The Rwandan Foreign Minister has called the French government "hostile". Meddling, yes, but I can hardly call the French "hostile". I do not understand what makes the French government the moral authority over this area, but I think most of the world can see that crimes were committed. And, I doubt Chirac and company will lose a lot of sleep over this.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Give Us That Old Time Terror

No, it's not a new strategy by Islamic terror organizations like Hamas, Hezbollah, or Al-Qaeda. It's not the use of grandmothers wrapped in burkas, nor is it some kind of sinister plot like carrying explosives in gels or liquids.

It's terror the old fashioned way just like we used to see during the Cold War.

LONDON He stopped at a bar to meet with a former colleague. Later, he rendezvoused with another contact. Sometime that day a few weeks ago, former KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko may have been poisoned.

Police now are tracing his final steps trying to determine how a rare radioactive substance could have killed the sharp critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

I don't know about you, but this seems a bit fishy to me. Viktor Yushchenko, Ukraine’s opposition leader (at the time) gets poisoned, a journalist critical of Putin gets gunned down in Russia, and now an ex-spy critical of Putin and investigating the journalist's death turns up dead with polonium in his system. How much more does the court of public opinion need to figure this one out.

But as you may guess,
Putin and his entourage are denying everything and are sounding a bit defensive.

Putin said Friday there was no proof it was a "violent death."

....Putin's government had earlier strongly denied involvement in Litvinenko's death, calling the allegation "nothing but nonsense."

"It's so silly and unbelievable that it's not worth comment," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in Helsinki, Finland, where Putin is attending a summit with European Union leaders.

Almost every major newspaper in the world is calling this a "poisoning". But within Russia, where Czar Putin controls the press, the incident is referred to as an illness.

Ailing former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko's condition has deteriorated and doctors remain puzzled by his critical illness, which probably was not caused by the toxic metal thallium or radiation, a doctor said Thursday.A friend said Litvinenko was on life support.

Note, they are using an old AP report and haven't brought themselves to call it what it is. I wonder why they are in no hurry to update their story

Check out the Moscow Times, it's buried and not even front page material. (Unlike most other world news agencies.)

Now, the thing we must all keep in mind is that there isn't enough evidence to legally charge anyone in this. And although Comrade Putin most likely is involved (or at the very least had prior knowledge of the dire plot), the investigation is ongoing and may very well yield more information as it all unfolds.

But right now, from what we are seeing and hearing from all concerned, this incident is quite alarming. From most everything we see and hear out of Putin's Russia (as of late), we can safely deduce that Russian leader has set back the cause of freedom substantially. It may not be the Stalin era and it may not even be Brezhnev's era. But he has definitely set back Mother Russia from what Gorby left to Yeltsin, and Yeltsin left to Putin.

And as alarming as all of this may sound on a normal day, this is not the worst we can hear coming from the Russian government. Take a look at Fore Left's post on Putin , follow his links, and see what is really a troubling turn of events.

So? Just where are the stalwarts of freedom and rational thought on this?

So far, there's been no official reaction by the U.S. government (at least not one that turns up in a search). Members of Congress and the White House haven't been commenting on it. Neither Republicans nor Democrats have issued any statements that PYY is aware of.

And what about the EU, that bastian of liberty and moralist institution that condemns the tactics of the American government at nearly every turn? Not much from them, as of yet either. And they have a summit with Vladi going on right now. But the European journalists have been on the story, full-force.

As the summit got started it was clear that there were two sets of meetings going on; one, where officials waded through the discussions on energy, foreign policy and the transport problems on the Russo-Finnish border.

And another, in the press room, where journalists clustered round Russian representatives and peppered them with questions about the life and death of Mr Litvinenko.

So, to all of you that think Russia is not so much of a threat anymore, maybe you should re-think that stance. And while it is true that there is no real hard evidence to indict anyone (and maybe will never be), there is one other thing you must admit is true. People that cross Vladimir Putin have a way of getting dead.

So, may God help the next person that irritates this man, because (to borrow a phrase from Johnny Rivers) odds are he won't live to see tomorrow.

And that, my friends, is terror. That old-time terror, the old fashioned way.

Dilemma In Deauville: Franco-Anglo Disconnect Or Typical Class Warfare?

Note-I wasn't needed at work today, so I was able to put together a reasonably coherent post after sleeping off the effects of the holiday turkey yesterday. Here it is.

A brouhaha may be developing in the French coastal town of Deauville. From the IHT comes this article about the issue of the day in this region of Normandy.

Bad blood between the English and the Normans existed almost a millenium ago, but now there is a new twist in this long saga of mistrust. But, this time it doesn't have anything to do with armed invasions or middle ages, monarchal imperialism. But it does have to do with economics. Money (or according to some, the lack of it) always makes for a good issue.

It seems many of the locals are not pleased with the possibility of a new influx of English tourists when discount air carrier Ryanair begins a 3-flight per day schedule, starting in March.

DEAUVILLE, France: In the annals of James Bond memorabilia, it is said that Ian Fleming, the spy's creator, modeled the casino of "Casino Royale" on the baize tables and spinning roulette wheels of the gambling salons of Deauville.

It is said, too, that this resort in Normandy has welcomed a fabled array of foreign movie stars, drawn perhaps by its casino, but also to its American Film Festival, its horse races, its bloodstock farms, its golf, even the designer stores by Hermès and Louis Vuitton and others that wait in ambush for the fortunate few who play the tables and win, or can simply afford to lose.

But in this gray and wintry season, when the summer apartments are shuttered and gray gusts from the English Channel send shivery squalls past restaurants threatening to reopen in the springtime, there is another dire whisper on the air: Is the welcome running out, for some outsiders at least?

In reading this article further, it sounds like the old "not in my neighborhood" squabble, complete with a certain snobbery element, in play here. What normally is a row that involves opposite sides of the tracks, is now an "opposite sides of the channel" issue.

...there have been articles and newspaper stories suggesting a certain snobbery among French people, depicting them as displaying a degree of Gallic haughtiness toward the notion of English day-trippers toting brown bag picnics and indulging a taste for cheap beer, thus lowering the tone of this most toney of resorts.

"The English do not spend much money, that is well known," said Christiane Celice, the head of a movement opposed to the planned flights.

For some it appears it is about status and reputation. Like anywhere else there are elites and non-elites. And elites are pretty much the same anywhere, not just here in this area of France. You have these kinds of things in all countries.

What makes this more interesting than the usual "nobles vs. peasants" debate, is this involves people from two entirely different countries, cultures, and philosophical worlds, way before economics are factored in.

But not all are weighing in for economic reasons.

There are many other issues, according to Celice, whose home is close to the runway to be used by Ryanair's thrice- weekly flights. Will they damage the environment, she asked, will they overload the roads and restaurants?

"I just don't want the region to degenerate," she said. "People come here to rest; they come here for the cheese, the Calvados, the chateaus. They are looking for peace and quiet."

This gives the impression that some people just want to maintain their quiet lifestyle, much in the way they always have. One can certainly respect that, in fact living in my suburb there has been a recent influx from the city and this sleepy little town has had to build a new middle school and is currently growing into a mess, because infrastructure development cannot keep pace with population growth.

But on the otherside of the coin, we have the opposing arguments:

"We don't want to lose the English clientele going to other parts of France," Fougeray said at the airport as one business jet landed bearing a man who did not wish to be identified by name.

"I am not Sarkozy!" he exclaimed enigmatically he hurried off.

So naturally, this becomes an issue of economic growth within the local business community. And of property value.

When we started flying into Pau, house prices tripled," said Michael O'Leary, the chief executive of Ryanair, based in Dublin, a sharp-tongued and not exactly publicity-averse businessmen who revels in the free advertising offered by Celice's campaign. He was referring to the town of Pau in the Pyrenees along the border with Spain.

Much seems to be gained, but much may lost in that trade-off. Where someone stands will likely depend on why they choose to make that their homes and what they expect by living there. They are the ones that must bear the brunt of any changes.

Any of the reasons for opposition could be deemed acceptable, with one exception. Those against this appear to be divided into two groups, the elitists and those that have the environment in mind. The only thing that I would not see as acceptable, is the ones that are discriminatory against the English, just because they are English. Those wounds should have been healed long ago.

More Quotable Quotes

As I seem to do every year, I have ingested too much tryptophan and as a result, I am unable to come up with a presentable post for today. So, here are some quick quotes for you to ponder, until I am better able to present something worthwhile:

Achieving life is not the equivalent of avoiding death. - Ayn Rand

Republics decline into democracies and democracies degenerate into despotisms. - Aristotle

Better to illuminate than merely to shine, to deliver to others contemplated truths than merely to contemplate. -St. Thomas Aquinas

We have war when at least one of the parties to a conflict wants something more than it wants peace. - Jeane Kirkpatrick

Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it. - Lou Holtz

Have you ever noticed? Anybody going slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a moron. - George Carlin

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

I could write another Thanksgiving post saying how thankful I am and for what I am thankful for. And I am. For many reasons. But, being the type of person that I am, I don't want to risk sounding generic. So, I won't.

As a child growing up, I often wondered why people said grace before meals. So I asked and got a multitude of answers, most of which had the same central theme: Thankfulness.

We always paused for a moment before meals at home for a quick prayer, but I noticed that when eating out we didn't. So, naturally I had to ask why this was so. The answer I got didn't set in, until I became a young adult.

Today, on occasion, I am with or notice someone quietly pausing in a restaurant for a moment of thanks before they eat. And I am sure that many do it for the right reasons. But, I also believe that many do it to be seen of men, to be viewed as pious and devout. (The Pharisees of Christ's time stood on the corner so the community would see them pray, and honor them for it. And so do the Pharisees of our time, as well.)

But I say, thankfulness means much more than just saying it to be seen. Thankfulness is not just being seen of men, thanking God for all that has been bestowed upon them. But rather, it is a state of mind. It is an attitude and it is an understanding. It entails much more than going through the rituals and habits, we have learned. It means, we will be just as thankful tomorrow, as we are today. It will not change at midnight, but it will continue throughout the year.

You see, it is my firm belief that being thankful is much more pleasing to God than just saying it. Now don't get me wrong here, there is nothing wrong with saying it. If we feel it, we ought to say it. But, if we only say it and do not feel it, our thanks become empty, meaningless, and as a result of those two, lifeless.

And just because someone does not believe in God, does not mean they cannot be thankful. People can be atheist and be thankful for their families, their jobs, their homes, and many other things which they have. In fact, to believe in God and just go through the motions as the Pharisees did (and still do) is far less honorable, than those that actually feel thankful.

So, to all that celebrate Thanksgiving, I truly hope yours is a happy one.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

PYY Movie Review: I Am David

After searching for a topic for today's post, I realized that nothing much interested me. Let's look at the top news, as of this writing.

Bush Daughter Gets Robbed In Argentina

Somehow, I keep expecting hear a rendition of "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" from Evita. But since I am not a big fan of musicals, I am not moved much.

Michael Richard's (AKA Kramer) Meltdown Continues To Be The Talk Of The Town

So what are we going to do, demand an execution by firing squad, at dawn? Bigots exist, we just have to learn to ignore them. They will not go away on their own and we can't make them go away, either.

Wesley Snipes Still In Tax Trouble

Not good, but at least he didn't participate in a hip-hop/rap star gun battle. Pay the taxes Wesley, the government needs money to fund social programs that do not work. I have to do it, so should you.

But the sad news? Robert Altman Died.

Of all of his movies, I only have seen MASH. I thought it was good, but as for the rest of his movies, I cannot say. There doesn't appear to be many other real blockbusters that he had directed, at least I didn't remember them as such.

None of these things moved me much, one way or the other. Famous people make the news much of the time by doing things that many others that are not famous do, just by the virtue of who they are. Growing up in the LA area, you learn to realize this at an early age.

There are two LAs, I wasn't in the glam and glitter part. I was in the normal world part. We were not rich, nor were we poor. We were just the average middle class family. We had what we needed and a little of what we wanted, and not much more. And such as it was, we were thankful.

So last evening when I watched the movie,
I Am David, I was able to re-live the emotions of watching a 12 year old boy experience things he had never experienced before. And although his experiences were certainly harsher than mine, I found myself looking at that innocent boy and wondering what it would have been like, if I had to go through what he went through. It wasn't pretty and I am thankful I didn't.

Now, as you may know, I am not much of a movie reviewer here at PYY. But I must say that if you want to see a great movie, this would be one. It is one great story. The stars you will recognize in this flick are, Jim Caviezel and Joan Plowright.

I will not tell you much about it (as I want you to see it for yourself), except that it is about a boy that escapes from a prison camp in Bulgaria to the west, at the time that Stalin was ruling the Iron Curtain nations. It goes slow at first and his flasbacks do not make a lot sense, initially. He has been in this prison from a young age and is trying to sort a lot of things that most kids should never have to sort out.

Even though it's slow to begin with, it contains many plot twists and is one hell of an uplifting film. It's a story of hope, will, and trust. And unless you are completely stoic individual, you will be moved by it.

I say watch it for yourself, if you haven't already. And by all means it's one that you'll want your kids to see, if they aren't already running around with I-Pods stuck in their ears. It can give all who watch it, a reason to be thankful for the privilege of living in an open and free society. If you are down, it will pick your spirits up. I guarantee it.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Unfriendly Americans?

Reuters has an article featuring a survey that has determined that the U.S. is the most unfriendly nation toward visitors, from other nations.

Rude immigration officials and visa delays keep millions of foreign visitors away from the United States, hurt the country's already battered image, and cost the U.S. billions of dollars in lost revenue, according to an advocacy group formed to push for a better system.

To drive home the point, the Discover America Partnership released the result of a global survey on Monday which showed that international travelers see the United States as the world's worst country in terms of getting a visa and, once you have it, making your way past rude immigration officials.

You can view the complete results of the survey, here (PDF). But I have to say that I have some problems with the way Reuters has presented it.

Let's start with the Reuters headline:

U.S. is most unfriendly country to visitors, survey says

By reading this and the ensuing article, we can see how those that are not well adept at critical thinking and analysis skills could very well get the wrong impression about America, and its citizens.

Consider the main crux of the argument here, which is the entry process. Most ports of entry are places like New York, Los Angeles, and other coastal megalopolistic cities. These cities are not well-known for their "down home and friendly" feel. They are often distant and de-personalized, because people must deal with other people in close proximity, on a daily basis. So naturally, there is not a particularly warm attitude, unless someone has an angle and wants something from you. (Being raised in the LA area, I can attest to this on a personal level.)

In my only visit to New York in the late 70s, I had the distinct pleasure of flying into JFK International Airport, where I found the airport workers to be quite rude and indignant. Had I not lived in other parts of the country to include the south and midwest, I could have easily gotten the impression that all Americans were nasty. On the buses that transported travelers from one terminal to another, the men that helped people with their baggage grabbed the bags and threw them on without regard to the contents of those bags, and even yelled at one frightened Japanese couple (who obviously did speak much English), to hurry their "asses" up or they were going to get left behind.

Then, let's consider this. There is no crasser version of an American than the government worker. It matters not what part of the country you live in, whenever you must do any kind of business with any kind of government worker, you will likely find they are not the friendliest people in the world, either. Try getting a replacement for a lost Social Security card sometime and you will see exactly what I mean. I cannot imagine that the Port Authorities and immigration officials that handle visas are much different.

Of course the article does mention one factor that can be used as a possible explanation, which is the heightened level of suspicion created by the events of 9/11. But let's put ourselves in their place for a moment. If they take their jobs the least bit seriously, they must screen many different people from many different countries. Many of those people are from countries that are known to harbor hostile groups that would love nothing more than to destroy our way of life and at very least wreak havoc. So, knowing and understanding that New Yorkers bore the brunt of the 9/11 attacks, we can see why they would likely be especially suspicious.

One person I was chatting with a few years ago related to me that she had been to Europe (Spain to be exact) and said she would never return. After asking her why she felt that way, she told me she was very intimidated to see Spanish policemen carrying machine guns in the airport and it freaked her out, somewhat. I tried to rationally explain to her that that was Europe. As long as you were not trying to hijack an airplane or blow up the airport, the likelihood of them bothering you was very minute. At the time of her visit (which was in the late 70s), Basque terrorism was beginning to spin out of control in Spain; and other leftist terrorist organizations, such as the Red Army Faction in Germany and the Red Brigades in Italy, were at their peak. So, a show of force was necessary to deter and dissuade overt acts that could and would affect their respective tourism industries.

I am not sure I convinced her.

So as a result of this distorted image portrayed by al-Reuters, I cannot come to any other conclusion than they have used their platform to take a potshot at America and Americans. The poll is the poll, but the Reuters spin paints a very distorted picture of what America is all about.

And to all international people that would consider a trip to the United States of America, I would say this. Once you get past the jerks and travel outside of the huge metro areas, you will likely find people that will welcome you and treat you fairly, as long as you treat them in the same manner. There will always be bigots, in any country and this one is no exception. But overall, I do not believe that you will find people that are any warmer and more accommodating than the American people.

Just visit Indianapolis during the U.S. Grand Prix weekend, and you will see precisely what I mean. You will not be disappointed. Tell them that LASunsett sent you.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Round One: We Are Underway

With the election almost two weeks past, we hear the first few "tap-tap', (early in the fight) jabs. In a boxing match, it's this kind of activity that just let's the opponent know you are there, while taking an opportunity to loosen up and get into the swing of things.

From the Telegraph comes this article.

Republican strategists plotting their party's comeback after it lost control of Congress have identified the "first lady" of Democrat politics as a key target in the 2008 White House campaign — even though she will not be running.

Senior party operatives told The Sunday Telegraph that they are already co-ordinating plans to attack Nancy Pelosi, the liberal Californian congresswoman and Speaker-in-waiting who suffered a damaging rebuff from her own party caucus last week.

The Republican strategy is not only to undermine Mrs Pelosi's control of the House but also to associate her in voters' minds with Senator Hillary Clinton, the frontrunner for the 2008 Democrat presidential nomination.

Sounds like trying to get off first from the opening bell, to me.

If we are to accept this article at face value, we must ask ourselves who are these so-called "senior party operatives"? Unnamed sources do not carry a lot of weight. But if that's not enough to dissuade someone from blindly accepting this at face value, we must consider other things.

The first thing to be looked poses an interesting question, in itself: Why would we expect anything else from the minority Republicans? After all, haven't we just experienced and been witness to a 5 year onslaught of the GOP, by the Dems? Or better yet, can we really be surprised that this might be the case?

The anti-Bush crowd has certainly had its say as the opposition party and to some degree, still they still do. They searched for and used any negative they could find to discredit any Republican, especially those in leadership. They dug and dug, and when they found something, they took it to the farthest length. When they didn't find something, they exaggerated, distorted, and even made things up. So, how is that any different from what this article is claiming?

It isn't.

Just as the Dems said their complaints were all fair game, so is this. But, now the shoe is on the other foot. And they must be reminded that this is the price you pay, when you are the party in power. Ideology, where you stand on the issues, means less than what many (including myself) would like for it to be. But the fact remains, it is what it is. And what it is, is politics.

We can decry it all we want. But unless we all demand better from our elected representatives, this is what we are going to get. If we really were to have any hope at all, the people are going to have to demand more accountability from every elected official. Whether they are Democrats, Republicans, Liberatarians, Socialists, or whatever, they must know who they work for and who hired them.

But know this: If this is to be successful it will take a couple more cycles of voting the party in power out. It will mean having the guts to vote against the ones that seemingly have no opposition, and have been in power for years. And that means voting against the ones that have become comfortable, in the role of career politician.

Nancy Pelosi is one those politicians

Oh yes, and the second thing that we must consider? The only person that can bring down Pelosi is Pelosi. The Murtha debacle was her own doing. So to worry about how the GOP is going to act is wasting valuable time. Because we know they are coming. If Pelosi behaves and performs properly, there will be nothing to worry about. But if not, we can safely bet that when they dig, they will find. When they find, they will capitalize. And that will be the undoing of the new Speaker, not some backroom political strategy.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


That's how many posts that have been published here at PYY, with this one right here. This is the 1000th post in the 636 days in the existence of PYY. And I have to tell all of you, I have enjoyed every minute of it. I also have to say that it has been both a pleasure and an honor, to write for some of the smartest readers that have ever graced the blogosphere.

When I started this blog, my goal was not to be the biggest or have an elaborate layout packed with ads. My goal was not to seek fame (as evidenced by my anonymous pen name), nor did I wish to seek monetary gain (which is evidenced by my not making a dime off of it). I only wanted to write some thought-provoking articles that would stimulate the neurons of a handful of deep-thinking people, capable of rational thought and possessing a reasonable amount of cognitive functioning. (That and providing myself some form of cathartic release, besides yelling at the TV during the news.)

Today, I believe I have met that goal. It isn't a big pretentious production, I average around 1.5 posts per day and the hits have been low compared to many others. But, the quality of the readership has been second to none, that much I am convinced of. Almost every single comment that has ever been posted in response to a post has been thought-provoking in return, regardless of the position held by the commenter.

So, I say thank you, to everyone that comes to this sleepy little blog to read rantings by a (sometimes) raving skeptical and cynical part-time pundit. Thank you for reading and a special thanks to all that have participated over the last 1000 posts, with comments and well-thought out arguments. And, I hope the next 1000 posts will be better than the first. I hope to keep stirring the gray matter in those that have been blessed with the ability to stir their own.

But most of all, I hope all of you keep reading and wish you all nothing but health, wealth, and happiness.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

News From Europe

Time (as always) being a factor in my choice of post topics, I have to pick and choose. And with the election still on many American's minds this week, I haven't had time to look at much from the European theater, until now. So here are a couple of stories being watched closely here at PYY:

French Presidential Campaign Picking Up Steam: Socialists Nominate Woman Candidate

Her name is Segolene Royal, but many just call her Sego. She has been selected by the French Socialist Party to represent them in next year's election and was chosen by a rather large margin (over 60% of the vote) over two male rivals.

Socialists are not new to the Presidential Palace,
Francois Mitterand was elected to the post in 1981. But never has a woman held the office and never has a woman had such a realistic chance to attain such a feat.

Her likely closest rival will be
Nicolas Sarkozy, a very pro-American politician that will probably represent the largest challenge. (The French have an affinity for shortening names and refer to him as Sarko.) Right now polls are showing a dead heat, between the two.

Now as you may guess, the world media is already intrigued by her candidacy:

CNN International is using her name and the name of John F. Kennedy in the same breath.

Echoing a famous speech of John F. Kennedy, Segolene Royal urged voters to embrace change on Friday after a sweeping victory in a Socialist primary bolstered her quest to become France's first woman president.

Royal told French voters she had a vision of a united nation that faced the future boldly without reneging on its values.

"Today I call on all French people, the men and women of our country, to unite, to mobilize, to ask yourselves what you can do for our country," she said in a speech in the western Poitou-Charentes region she runs.

Deutsche-Welle implies that her candidacy is comparable to a new French revolution.

Europe's center-left parties and the media on Friday hailed as a "revolution" the choice by French socialists of Segolene Royal as their party's candidate for the April 2007 presidential election.

The LA Times calls her a populist with style.

The victory of Segolene Royal in France's Socialist Party presidential primary was a case of personality outweighing policy, analysts said Friday.

Her positions throughout the campaign were vague and sometimes even naive. But with a soaring smile, well-coiffed hair and a willingness to mix traditional Socialist views with popular rhetoric, she overcame her more pedantic party foes.

Besides the universal agreement that she is one good-looking lady that emanates charm and charisma, almost all of the op-ed and article writers are in agreement in their assessments of her candidacy. And while they all feel she is long on visual aesthetics, they also feel she is short on specifics on the issues that France is facing and will be facing, in the future.

Dutch Government Proposing To Ban Burkas

In a move that would most definitely come under much scrutiny here in the U.S., the Dutch government is proposing a ban on burkas due to security issues.

NIJMEGEN, The Netherlands: Five days before a national election here, the center-right government announced Friday that it planned to introduce legislation to ban burkas and similar garments in public places, saying the full- body garb worn by a small number of Muslim women in the Netherlands posed a grave security threat, both to the country's security forces and to its citizens.

The Netherlands has been considering such a move for months, in reaction to the burka and other clothing that hides the wearer's face and eyes. To some degree the government worries that a terrorist might put one on to get beyond security checks and carry out an attack.

Can you imagine the outcry from the progressives and outfits like the ACLU and CAIR, if Congress were to do something like this?

I do not disagree with this in principle, but am somewhat ambivalent due to my desire for all religions to be free to practice their religion, no matter how outlandish I may view their dogmas. It's a slippery slope that may come back to bite us all, someday. But yet, on the other hand, the state does have the duty to protect their citizens. With a rise in female suicide bombers, it makes good sense from a security standpoint.

It's a tough call, PYY will be watching this one closely.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Murtha Math (And The Aftermath)

From MSNBC's Hardball comes this partial transcript:

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: Now that they’re in power, what can Democrats do about Iraq? Can they push for a timetable to leave? Can they cut off funding for the war? Who will be their leading voice in the fight? Will it be Nancy Pelosi’s rival Steny Hoyer or her friend Jack Murtha? We begin with the man who wants to be majority leader, Pennsylvania Congressman Jack Murtha. Thank you Mr. Murtha for coming here and nowhere else.

So let’s get to questions that everybody wants answered. First of all, it’s a secret ballot tomorrow, right?


MATTHEWS: Are you going to win?

MURTHA: We’re going to win, we’ve got the votes.

MATTHEWS: You’ve got them?

MURTHA: We’ve got the votes.

MATTHEWS: Eyeball to eyeball, you’ve got them?

MURTHA: Eyeball to eyeball.

From the AP:

Democrats picked Rep. Steny Hoyer to be House majority leader on Thursday, spurning Rep. Nancy Pelosi's handpicked choice moments after unanimously backing her election as speaker when Congress convenes in January.

A Marylander and 25-year veteran of Congress, Hoyer defeated Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania in a vote of 149-86.

One of two things happened here:

1. Many that told Murtha they could count on his support, lied right through their teeth.


2. Murtha can't count.

But the big story in all of this? Nancy Pelosi's first defeat coming from her own party. Apparently she doesn't wield as much power as many thought. As a result of this event, the next session of Congress should provide a lot of plot twists and drama, this being the first.

Murtha's response:

"I didn't have enough votes and so I'll go back to my small subcommittee I have on Appropriations," Murtha said after the vote.

(If you ask me, I would relegate him to tending the bar at a local American Legion post. But, I would watch his cash register, closely.)

So, on goes the show. As expected after a contentious process,
the Dems are making a concerted effort to show they are unified and ready to take their imagined mandate and confront the Administration.

“Let the healing begin,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said after Hoyer had eased past her preferred candidate, Rep. John Murtha, a prominent opponent of the war in Iraq. The secret-ballot vote for Hoyer was 149-86. She was chosen by acclamation.

Added Hoyer, a 25-year veteran of Congress: “The Republicans need to know, the president needs to know and the country needs to know our caucus is unified today.”

That's all well and good. But if we read on, we see that not everyone feels like it's a Kumbaya moment.

Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., who backed Murtha, said some members of the rank-and-file had told both rival camps to count them as supporters. “We know who they are,” he said, although he later added that many of them were lawmakers whose victories on Nov. 7 gave Democrats their majority.

“If they’re freshmen, they get a pass on this one,” he said.

We know who they are? If they are rookies, they get a pass?

This certainly sounds like sour grapes to me. It also sounds like there's going to be a come-uppance to those that played both sides, especially if they weren't freshmen.

That doesn't sound very unified to me. In fact, it sounds like the Dems stand a good chance of fracturing themselves a bit, now that they have this new found control. But they did make the better choice in this case. Hoyer has a far better reputation than Murtha, not just on ideology, but in ethical reputation.

In fact, he probably would be better suited to be Speaker, than Nancy Pelosi. And he will, if she screws this up.

Meanwhile, later today, the GOP must decide who gets the nod for House Minority Leader. If the Republicans are smart, they will pick
Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana. I do not always agree with him on social issues. But what I hear from him on fiscal issues, I do like.

But besides all that, if they truly want to re-tool and re-invent, they will give him a serious look and choose him to redesign the image of the party. They have already made a mistake by picking Lott as the new Whip, it would be a mistake to not move in a new direction.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

More: More Of The Same

Yesterday, the story was John Murtha and his bid to become House Majority Leader. My thought was (and still is), the Dems seem pretty content to give us more of the same ethical (or shall I say, lack of) leadership. Basically, it's more of the same.

Today, we see that the GOP is not immune from falling into the same ethical decisional lapses, evidenced by the return of Trent Lott to the Republican leadership.

Now, Lott was not shown to be involved in any real scandal, mind you. And that's not to say that he wasn't and just hadn't been discovered. No, his offense was one of the tongue and attitudinal in nature.

Lott, for his part, might have survived his tasteless tribute to Thurmond, offered at the former Dixiecrat's 100th birthday, if he didn't already have a credibility problem on issues of race. For example, when the Internal Revenue Service moved in 1981 to yank the tax-exempt status of Bob Jones University because it prohibited interracial dating, Lott defended the school's position on religious freedom grounds. Other than the posthumous election of Thurmond as minority leader, it's hard to imagine a worse signal for the Republican Party to send minorities.

As we see from the snippet, it wasn't just the tongue but what was gathered from it. Put together with the "so-called" slip, his past actions made a good case for establishing Sen. Lott, as a good old Mississippi bigot.

Therefore, the best decision that could have been made and for the GOP to salvage the situation, was for Lott to step down. And he did.

But now we read that he has returned.

So, am I missing something here? When is it a good decision to reverse a good one, when the good one was a good one?

At a time when the GOP's image was not particularly good in the area of race relations, Lott did step down and the GOP gained a measure of credibility that helped gain some black voters, in 2004. It wasn't much mind you, but it was a start. But, this move has now negated any future gains and may very well set the GOP backward.

If you are are going to re-tool or re-invent. You must do just that. You must not return to the same things that tarnished your political image, to start with. More importantly in this case, is the GOP's bid to become the big tent party. You cannot do that by re-elevating someone that gives the impression of prejudice towards a group of people you want to attract.

To all Dems and Republicans I would say one thing here: Learn.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Culture Of Corruption II: The Sequel

From CNN comes this article:

In routing the GOP in the November 7 elections, Democrats attacked what they called a Republican "culture of corruption."

Now a Washington watchdog group is questioning the party's sincerity, alleging Murtha steered Pentagon contracts to businesses that hired his brother as a lobbyist.

"How can Americans believe that the Democrats will return integrity to the House when future Speaker Pelosi has endorsed an ethically challenged member for a leadership position?" Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, asked in a written statement. "Rep. Murtha is the wrong choice for this job."

CREW's scathing opposition to Murtha becoming House Majority Leader is found here.

Rep. Murtha was listed in CREW’s report Beyond DeLay: The 20 Most Corrupt Members of Congress (and five to watch). As reported in the study and by the news media, Rep. Murtha has been involved in a number of pay-to play schemes involving former staffers and his brother, Robert “Kit” Murtha.

Note that this is the same watchdog group that Dems used as a resource for their "culture of corruption" sales campaign and lists more Republicans as corrupt, than Dems. So, screaming that this is a "neo-con" organization will not get it.

I don't know about you. But as an independent, this doesn't seem to be the best move the Dems could make.

Overall, Murtha has been one of the more conservative Democrats over the years. He is pro-life and anti-gun control, just to name a few conservative principles he supports. That, alone, should be enough for an extremely liberal Speaker to disqualify him. But what got him this job, was his opposition to the Iraq War and the energy he devoted to the cause, which is one factor in the Dems re-gaining control of Congress.

Political parties usually reward their own, when they are instrumental in the engineering of a takeover, such as this. This is nothing new. But where this all breaks down for the Dems, is rewarding someone that was so heavily involved in the ABSCAM scandal. (Especially after Pelosi's committment to clean up the place up.)

Do they think we forgot about ABSCAM? Or do they just not care? Either way, it insults the integrity of all Americans that stand for true integrity, and want their elected officials to show it. So get ready. The brand new sequel is soon to be released.

To quote Pete Townsend: Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Back From Vacation

I am back from vacation, it was fun but tiring. We hit six states and logged 1400 miles in four days. So as you may surmise, I am too tired to put up a post right now.

I have had some time to digest more of the recent election results and will be sharing some of my thoughts soon (as well as some details of my trip). Thanks to all of my readers, for your patience. And please hang in there with me for a couple of days and I will be back to equilibrium.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Vacation Time

It's not much, but it's time to hit the road. I had planned on hitting the road back in October, but I had to have surgery and spent my vaction recovering. But, now I have a few days and am going to spend it out of computer range (at least for the most part).

I am soon leaving for Charlotte to visit a high school buddy and then, it's on to Atlanta for a couple of days. So, I probably will not be blogging much, over the next few days.

Feel free to peruse the archives and if you have comments on anything that I have posted in the past, feel free to post your comments in the comment section of this post and I will respond to them, when I return. I will also analyze the election more in depth, when I return. So, look for that in the next week or so.

I will say that I have the best readers and the best commenters on the planet; and I wholeheartedly look forward to returning and posting more thought provoking material, soon. Again, many thanks for reading PYY. Have a great weekend, where ever you may be.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Change Has Come

As of this writing, the Democrats have won control of the House and two undecided Senate races that are still hanging in the balance are likely to go to the Dems, as well. The people have spoken.

As I have said before, there wasn't any real choices. But, the people chose what they felt was the lesser of two evils. They opted for change and change is what they got.

My advice to the Dems is this:

Now it's time to govern. There is no one to blame anymore. You will be the ones blamed, if you do not do the jobs the people have sent you to do. You can blame the President all you want, you can blame the GOP all you want, and you likely will. But you are in the driver's seat in Congress, you are responsible for one third of the mistakes now. So continuously harping on how screwed up everything is, will not work. It's time to come up with solutions, not complaints.

We will be watching you closely. And if you fail to produce, the same voters that put you there, will take you back out. Screw it up too bad, and you will see just how badly you can lose what you have worked to gain.

To the GOP, I say this:

You failed. You did not do what the people sent you to do. You were the majority party in both houses and yet you failed to come up with solutions to the many problems, we face today. You allowed yourselves to become drunk with power. And you did not do the will of the people.

By becoming part of the corrupt establishment you campaigned against, you put yourself in this predicament. If I were you, I'd look long and hard at what got you put out, re-evaluate, and make all the necessary adjustments. Because the Dems are not likely to do much better than you.

After the honeymoon is over, the hard work will begin. I cannot say that I have much confidence in the way they will govern, if they pursue the typical Democratic agenda. You must be ready for 2008, whining and crying will not get the job done. Prior planning is necessary, if you to re-gain what you have lost.

And to both parties, I say this:

Compromise will be the key. There is no mandate here. The nation is just as split as it ever was. The pendulum has leaned slightly left, this time. That same pendulum can lean back, next time.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Campaign 2006: It's Over

The campaign of 2006 has come to a close. And not a minute too soon. If I had heard another campaign ad that claimed the opponent was a liar, cheater, thief, adulterer, bigot, satan worhiper, or Lucifer himself, I think I would have self-combusted.

Yes, it's over and now the election process begins. Now it's time to vote. Now it's time to choose which liar, cheater, adulterer, bigot, satan worshiper, or Lucifer, you want to cast your vote for. Unless of course, you are too apathetic to cast one.

I don't mean that to be critical, because I feel apathetic too.

I will vote because I want to bitch. It is often said that if you don't vote, you can't bitch. Well, I am here to tell you that there are scores of people that bitch and don't vote. But I will vote and I will bitch, until the next time I vote and then bitch.

It's a never ending cycle.

This year is unique. (Sarcasm)

We are having a referendum on Bush and the war in Iraq, which is the same thing we had in 2002 and 2004. Nothing else is new, just how the Democrats have a bunch of plans.

What are they? Your guess is as good as mine.

There are the usual suspects in all of this.

There are those that are praying and hoping for a Democratic victory. They want to send a message to the evil and satanic George Bush. They want the "no plan" Dems to take their plans to Washington and fix everything that they have been screaming is wrong with this administration, for the last 5 years. (Sad part is, they really believe they will do it.)

Then there are those that are saying, "stay the course", although not necessarily in those words now. They claim everything is just hunky-dory. Just keep voting the do-nothing GOP back in, we will see results. Someday. (But not now.) These are people that do not want to look or act disloyal in a time of war.

So they stay the course. They trumpet the cause without much thought about the course being predictable and needing some tweaking.

Then, there are those like me that want change, but want to know what that change is going to be. We are people that do not want change for change's sake. Not all change is good. Unless it includes real substance, it's probably just a promise that will not be kept. A promise that is made to get elected, and nothing more.

We want real change for real results, not just some idiotic slogan or talking points quip designed to dupe the masses into believing that change is going to come.

So what's going to happen?

I can safely predict, there is an election being held and it's being held to choose the lesser of the two evils, as it always is.

I can say with a certain certainty that there will be disputed results, recounts, and maybe even some court challenges.

I can say that half the country will be happy with the results and the other half will not (whenever those results do become known).

I can say that some of you that read PYY will not be happy, and some of you will. I just cannot say for sure who it will be, right now. But someone will gloat when the results are finally known and certified, others will either mourn the results or become angry.

As for me, I will not be happy either way.

I will not be happy until the borders are made more secure and are under much better control. This has got to stop or we are going to be in great danger when a terrorist (with a plan) gets through and carries it out. It's going to get really bad, when the illegal population explodes and they crash the healthcare system, as well as break the bank of the government because they are below the poverty line (by our standards).

I will not be happy until social security is made solvent. The way it is now, I won't get much after years of contributions towards my grandparents' and parents' retirements. I will come up short because there won't be enough contributing, if and when, I get old enough to retire with my fellow baby boomer cohorts.

I will not be happy until there is a comprehensive policy on China. We are watching the early signs of a new age of mercantilism develop and China will become a formiddable foe, both militarily and economically within the next decade. And if we ignore the situation now, we will pay dearly later.

I will not be happy until I see better decisions made in the war on terror. As for Iraq, someone needs to give the Iraqi government a nudge and insist on better cooperation and/or results. Someone needs to re-evaluate some approaches and make some corrections, to facilitate a more independent course for the Iraqi people.

I will not be happy until all thiefs, cheats, and bribe-takers are all thrown out of office and are in jail or until all liars are voted out. (That will include about 75% of who gets elected today.)

I will not be happy until we have some real leadership, some real statesmen (and women). Too many are out for the power and for themselves, very few are there for the people they represent. Most of those we will elect today cannot not lead a group of starving Ethiopians, to a buffet table.

Until these things come to pass, I cannot get excited about anyone winning, anything.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Venezuelans Take To The Street In Caracas

Turks were not the only ones that took to the streets to show their opposition to oppression this past weekend. Venezuelans that do not support Hugo Chavez were also demonstrating.

CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) - Hundreds of thousands of people on Saturday marched in Caracas to support opposition presidential candidate Manuel Rosales, whose populist campaign has focused on reducing crime and redistributing oil wealth.

Note that this is not an evil group of capitalists that seek to replace the flamboyant and often bellicose Venezuelan President, but rather this is a true socialist that claims to want true socialism to work, for average Venezuelans. This demonstrates that Chavez is using the wealth created by oil revenues for his own selfish purposes, not in the true spirit of the Marxist principles he claims to hold dear. In other words, he is a continental Castro that creates wealth for himself and some close to him, but not for the rank and file.

Castro has driven the average Cuban's standard of living into the depths of poverty over the years he has been in power. Cuba is far worse today, than when Castro overthrew the oppressive dictator he replaced. Cubans merely traded one form of tyranny for another, when they put Fidel into the "Presidente for life" role.

Now that's not to say that Rosales won't do the same thing. But as we see from Hugo's antics, sometimes it's worth the roll of the dice.

Rosales is our last hope to prevent this country from becoming another Cuba," said 53-year-old engineer Antonio Romero, who marched with his family carrying Venezuelan flags.

Rosales promises to end Chavez's confrontation with the Bush administration, redistribute bountiful oil revenues and reduce soaring crime rates throughout Venezuela.

I am not a fan of socialism, not in the least. But if you are going to implement it for the good of the people, you need to do it right. And from this little snippet, we can see that it's not being done right, or their would be little support for an opposition candidate.

Secular Turks March Against Radical Islam

In a promising development this weekend, thousands of secular Turks marched against the rise of radical Islam within the nation's borders.

ANKARA, Turkey: Thousands of secular, nationalist Turks marched in the capital Saturday, vowing to defend the secular regime against Islamization and urging the government not to make too many concessions in order to gain European Union membership.

Some 12,000 people from more than 100 pro-secular associations waved Turkish flags as they marched to the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, in a show of loyalty to secularism. Many of them carried posters of Ataturk.

"Turkey is secular and it will remain secular," they chanted during a march broadcast live on some TV channels.

PYY published a post Friday, critical of the growing fundamentalist sector in Turkey. If there was no such growth, there would be no need for a march like this. But there is and there was.

Every predominantly Muslim nation that has a secular government (and even those that do not) should look within themselves and decide if they want radicals to exert their oppressive wills over them. If not, all countries that fall into this category should take to the streets and peacefully show their opposition, just as they have done here in Turkey.

PYY applauds all efforts like this. We need more to follow suit, if the war against Islamists is to be successful.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Nuclear Dominos

From the London Times comes this worrisome article.

Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, UAE and Saudi Arabia seek atom technology

THE SPECTRE of a nuclear race in the Middle East was raised yesterday when six Arab states announced that they were embarking on programmes to master atomic technology.

As if a nuclear Iran isn't enough. Now we have six other countries with radical elements within their borders seeking to develop nuclear technology. If radical Islam continues to proliferate and nukes are added into the mix, it's only a matter of time before someone sets one off and sparks a nuclear conflict.

Get ready world. How long? I don't know. But, it's coming.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Turkey: Are They EU Material?

CNN is reporting that shots were fired at a papal protest in front of the Italian embassy.

ISTANBUL, Turkey (CNN) -- Police say they have arrested a man who allegedly fired a pistol into the air outside the Italian consulate in Istanbul, then shouted slogans in protest of Pope Benedict XVI's upcoming visit.

The man, who was identified by police sources as Ibrahim Ak, according to CNN Turk, threw the gun on the grounds of the consulate shortly before his arrest on Thursday.

"I don't want him here, if he was here now I would strangle him with my bare hands," the suspect, who identified himself as Ibrahim Ak, 26, told a Dogan news agency television camera as he was detained by police, according to The Associated Press.

I honestly think it would be best that the Pope cancel his visit. This situation has the enormous potential to get out of control, and fast. All it would take is an assassination or at least a serious attempt, to incite a major upheaval in both the Christian and Muslim worlds.

Don't get me wrong, though. I am not for backing down in certain situations that occur naturally, through the course(s) of planned or unplanned events. It's not from fear that my concerns originate. I just do not feel it is wise to tempt things, when the milieu is already hostile.

In this specific case, the risks far outweigh the benefits. I cannot think of one thing that needs to be accomplished that cannot wait until the climate has returned to a cooler temperature. We see that the pot is simmering, why return it to a roiling boil that could easily boil over?

But the larger issue in all of this is fairly evident. This situation further validates the need for Europe to look seriously at Turkey's application, for membership into the EU. Combine this action with
the recent book by Turkish novelist, Burak Turna and you will see a mood of anger and hostility that is beginning to permeate Turkish society.

The animosity even reaches the highest levels of the Turkish government.

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's decision not to meet Pope Benedict during his visit to Turkey is a diplomatic snub following the pontiff's recent criticism of Islam, Italian commentators said on Thursday.

"You can paint this any way you want but from a western point of view, this is bad manners," said a front-page editorial in Rome's Il Messaggero newspaper.

I cannot envision an EU member nation that would be dangerous for a Pope to visit, nor could I imagine an official snub by its leader. Not only that, but with the last would be papal assassin being Turkish, we seem to have all of the proof we need that there is a powerful element within the Turkish boundaries that abhor western symbols; and they would not give a second thought to doing whatever necessary to bring them down.

That, within itself, should be enough to convince the Pope to stay home and the EU to reject Turkey, as a trusted member of the European Union. But if it doesn't, just imagine the backlash if the Pope is harmed in any way. Imagine the problems that would be created if it were to happen after Turkey was admitted.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The John Kerry Way: Speak In Haste, Repent In Leisure

Well, yesterday it happened. The thing that John Kerry defiantly refused to do the day before, has come to pass. After much pressure (by not only the GOP but the Dems, as well), he has apologized for his recent foot-in-mouth moment. But I am not really sure I buy it.

For one thing, it may very well be that he didn't mean to say what he said. I know all pols have said some pretty ridiculous things, from time to time. I know that we all say things that we wish we could take back. I have had my share of awkward moments over the years, just in my personal life. That's part of life. But, I have some severe doubts here.

Just so we are clear here, let me say something. It's not the gaffe that has me so upset. What irks me is the manner in which Kerry has conducted himself, since the time of the statement. It is the unbridled arrogance that insults my intelligence. It is the overly proud and haughty spirit he shows. That's what offends me. I work with some arrogant people, but many of them are geniuses in their fields and actually do something of great importance. They produce something. But what does Kerry do? What does he produce?

Think about it a minute. He has married into great wealth. This is wealth that was not created by him or his wife. His wife inherited it, he married into it, how much more proof do you need to see that neither he, nor she, have produced anything of any real value to earn it?

All he has known is politics. He has made a career out of running for something and looking like a fool after winning (and now after losing). And as I rarely do I do, I agree with Cher on her comparison of politicians, with used-car salesmen.

But, what has he produced as a career politician? Can anyone name a piece of legislation that he, himself, authored over his long career as a U.S. Senator?

But let's get back to the real issue here. Like I said earlier, it's not the gaffe, itself.

No, it was his refusal to apologize that kept this story alive and made me angry. After all, this was the Democratic Party's 2004 nominee here. He is no novice or greenhorn, but he is still a leader in the party. He may not lead anything of any real importance, but he is representative of Democratic leadership by virtue of the fact that he was picked by his party to be its nominee. And although it validates the very reasons I am glad he did not win the 04 election, it validates that there are people that will say/do anything to get elected. It demonstrates the absolutist mentality, as good as any Hohenzollern, Bourbon, or Hapsburg monarch would have.

So because of this, it is not important whether he meant to say it as it sounded, or not. The real issue at hand is, by refusing to apologize and attempting to dig himself into a foxhole, he demonstrated the true nature of his character. His behavior strongly suggests, he is not sincere in his search for atonement. He apologized, only after many in his party pressured him to do so. How can we believe that he is truly sincere, when he does it after being criticized heavily and left out to dry by many in his own party?

Did the GOP pile on? Absolutely. Would the Dems have done the same thing? You bet. But that's not the half of it. The part that is so damaging for the Dems is, it's less than a week until Election Day. And despite the fact that they have no specific or concrete plans to run the country, they were close to taking over the reins of the government, anyway. They had a real chance.

But with Kerry's affinity for tasting shoe leather at the forefront of the daily scuttle butt, they lost ground significantly. They lost the independent voters and they lost valuable time they can never regain. They have lost a whole two days, with the election less than a week away. And even though they have very little message to start with, they have wasted time dealing with this, instead of trying to convince Americans why their plan (or in this case, non-plan) will work.

Hillary may have gotten an early Christmas present, this year. I say this because, Kerry's days as a viable contender for the 2008 nod are over.