Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Marketing Techniques By Dumbasses

You have all heard about, by now. If you have been asleep all day or incredibly overworked and overstressed, here it is.

BOSTON (AP) -- Nine blinking electronic devices planted at bridges and other spots in Boston threw a scare into the city Wednesday in what turned out to be a marketing campaign for a late-night cable cartoon. At least one of the devices depicts a character giving the finger.

College-educated marketing executives have shown to be fools. Today, someone within the Cartoon Network's "so-called" intelligentsia, someone with an office, desk, and a pen, signed their name, to put their specific approval, on the specific request, to perform this idiotic stunt. Somebody, somewhere, said yes.

Every last one of them should lose their jobs and face federal charges, once it can be determined the proper charge, to charge them with. There are enough people in the marketing profession that are hungry for jobs and deserve the chance to prove that they have more sense than this pack of morons. What do we need this bunch for? Anyway, that's not the half of it. I expect that some bean counters aren't going to be happy over at Turner Broadcasting. I am sure they will be getting a bill for the full and total cost of this response.

Right now, an old Judas Priest song named,"Some Heads Are Gonna Roll" is playing loudly in the sound studio and concert hall, of my mind.

Breaking: British Kidnapping And Beheading Plot Foiled

Here is some disturbing, breaking news coming from Sky News out of Britain.

The eight people arrested by terror police in Birmingham were allegedly planning an Iraq-style kidnapping and beheading in the UK.

Sky's Crime Correspondent Martin Brunt says they intended to post a video of the hostage being tortured and killed on the internet.

Their target was a British Muslim soldier in his twenties who is now under police protection.

The soldier, who has not been named, has served with UK forces in Afghanistan.

So, here we see a Muslim soldier that served his country was the target. I guess, it is the view of these plotters that he has defiled his faith, by serving the nation that he lives in. So now, he is worthy of death.

It raises the question, will this eventually happen in the U.S.? Or, has it already happened and we just weren't informed of it? Whatever the case, it shows just how dangerous this radical teaching that is currently hiding under the guises of freedom of religion and speech, really is.

More Thoughts On Global Warming

At the time of this writing, it's a whopping 5 degrees Fahrenheit outside my doors. That makes it quite tough to think about global warming, much less discuss it. But alas, the majority of the science community are still obsessed with it. The UN is being pressured to have a summit on it.

The U.N. environment agency pressured Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday to call an emergency climate summit amid dire reports about the risks from global warming.

That's great. People are dying in Darfur in the here and now, and the bureaucracy at the world body is more concerned with potential events that may or may not occur, hundreds of years from now. Iran is threatening to get a bomb and wipe out Israel, in the near future. And they are obsessed with the events that may occur hundreds of years from now. Yay Rah!! Go team go.

But that's not all. Congress is obsessed with it too.

Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Barack Obama (D-IL) are among the speakers addressing global warming, taking up an open invitation from Sen. Barbara Boxer, who chairs the Senate Environment Committee.

Again, we see the most pressing problems that we face in the here and now, pushed aside for something that may or may not occur in hundreds of years. As the world and country go down the tubes, we see the narrow focus of our so-called leaders.

But thankfully there is one scientist that is not afraid to say, "the emperor has no clothes".

Dr. Fred Singer presents a strong argument on global warming. His claim is that it is a natural event, not man made, and certainly not tied to CO2 levels. Read his work here. It's lengthy, but has some very relevant information that helps put this phenomenon, into better perspective. But realize this, you may not accept what he says, if you are easily drawn into the hysteria that this topic has been whipped into. But if you seriously want all views to formulate a sound opinion on the topic, I recommend reading it.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Most Ridiculous Statement Of The Day

That award has to go to the senior senator from Massachusetts, Ted Kennedy. His sarcastic question found in this article, has to win hands down:

"Why can't we do just one thing for minimum wage workers, no strings attached, no giveaways for the powerful?"

The subject here is tax cuts.Sen.Kennedy doesn't like them. Let's look at the senator's flawed thinking a little closer, shall we?

1. Tax cuts are not give-aways.They are GIVEN BACK, not given away. Money is earned by the individual person, business, or corporation; and then, they surrender a portion of that to the federal government, as tax. That money is not earned by the government, but collected. When there is a tax cut, it means that the government is going to collect less money.

2. Small businesses are not all powerful entities, corporations are. Small businesses account for most minimum wage workers. Small businesses, many times, work on lower margins. By forcing them to pay more, it puts them into a predicament and will likely force them to layoff. But that could be avoided, if the government (which, by definition, is powerful) would just let the business owners keep more of their own money.Most of that will go to the workers, not the business owner.

3. One has to question the real intention here. Do they want to have a minimum wage hike, for the sincere purpose of helping workers earn more money? Or do they just want to punish the bourgeoisie? Having a minimum wage increase, accompanied by a tax cut to help offset the cost to the people that will have to pay, is only fair. Well that is, it's fair to everyone except greedy politicians that take your money by force, before you ever see it.

The bottom line here is simple. Ted Kennedy has been in Washington long enough that he has become the symbol of the career politician. He is a politician who thinks that people should bow to government, not the other way around. Anyone that would be so presumptuous to make a tax cut out to be a giveaway, is someone that has been in Washington way too long.

Just shut down every small business for a week or two and we'd soon see how much revenue is lost, all across the board. Lost wages mean no withholdings. No wages mean no purchases, which means no sales tax collected. Inflation resumes. The spiral is endless.

It's all simple economics, nothing too complicated.
But apparently, either Mr. Kennedy has forgotten much over his years of hard drinking, or he thinks we are all stupid enough to believe his rhetoric. Maybe, it's a little of both.

So again, congratulations to Sen. Edward Kennedy, the distinguished gentleman from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This one is well-deserved. In fact, Massachusetts is blessed to have two senators that deserve recognition for saying ridiculous things.

Europe Digs In

From the IHT comes this article.

WASHINGTON: European governments are resisting Bush administration demands that they curtail support for exports to Iran and that they block transactions and freeze assets of some Iranian companies, officials on both sides say. The resistance threatens to open a new rift between Europe and the United States over Iran.

This should come as no surprise to Americans, for a couple of reasons.

1. Europe is highly dependent on Iranian oil. Whether or not a given country is directly purchasing oil from them, is irrelevant. If Europe takes such bold measures, their economy can and will suffer when Iran turns off the European oil spigot, which they most certainly will do. Supply shortages tend to jack up prices even higher, when demand stays the same.

2. Europe wants to drive the train and avoid creating any perception that the U.S. is driving anything. This is nothing new.

Administration officials say that a new American drive to reduce exports to Iran and cut off its financial transactions is designed to further isolate Iran commercially amid the first signs that global pressure has hurt Iran's oil production and its economy. There are also reports of rising political unrest in Iran.

Beyond all the usual analyses and opinions that will likely be advanced, this part is worthy of further examination. Most middle east experts have stated that Iran's economy is in shambles right now, which has resulted in political unrest

As a result of this, I think Europe is taking a calculated risk here. They are placed in a pretty tough predicament and seem to be taking the path of least resistance, although it stands to yield the least results. In short, Europe is playing for the short-term. And when you consider what they have to lose, it's easy to see why.

Europe is sitting high with its Euro poised and ready to become the premier currency, while surpassing the dollar. The beating out the U.S. part makes it even sweeter, because since WWII, Europe has felt like an overlooked step-child, craving respect and attention. What they do not want at this stage of the game is, watching it fall down. It is their perception that if Iran is crossed and oil supplies become tight, their economies could suffer greatly. In short, it's fear.

But the question that Europe needs to consider is, what are the risks of doing nothing?

The obvious risk is Iranian development of a nuclear weapon and its use. But that's been hashed out and re-hashed, without much of a realization that this is not in Europeans' best interests. It's seems that it is more important that they stay on top of the U.S., because we are the "pariah of the world". And we cannot have that, can we?

But the more obscure risk lies in keeping the current Iranian government empowered, by doing nothing at all.

Here's the thing, Iran is in trouble right now, economically and politically. There is a whole generation that does not remember the Shah, and the revolution. The same sense of restlessness exists, as did in the time of the overthrow of the Shah, except for one thing. Now, the oppressive establishment is the mullahocracy and their unstable hand-picked President. Now, they are the target of Iranian unrest. And it's to the point that it's not a matter of if anymore, but when, the mullahs are overthrown and replaced by a more western friendly regime.

Once this happens, Europe will be in the same position that the U.S. was in, almost 30 years ago, when the Iranians parted ways with America. The question then becomes, will Iran's new government look back and see how the Europeans favored the laissez-faire approach to dealing with an oppressive and violence-supporting regime? If so, will they seek retribution by cutting off their oil, then? Iranians were livid that America supported a corrupt regime, it only stands to reason that Europe could very well pay a hefty price, in the future.

Of course this is just my speculation. They could have a bomb built, well before all this takes place. And they very well might have used it before this scenario would have a chance, to play out. In which case, this whole idea would be rendered a moot point and Europe would have made the smartest move and lived for the moment. But, I would contend that it's hard to enjoy being right, when there is radiation permeating the air.

Who Do You Respect?

I'd like to do an exercise here, for no other reason than curiosity. It's pretty simple. Here is how it goes.

If you are a Democrat or you vote that way more often than not, name a Republican (or two) that you respect. Likewise, if you are Republican or vote that way more often that not, name a Democrat that you respect. Please tell us why. They can be active or retired, dead or alive.

Since this is my bright idea, I'll go first. Since I am neither Democrat nor Republican, I will name one from each party. Coincidentally, both are senators from my current state.


Evan Bayh - I think he is, overall, a pretty moderate politician and a pretty decent senator. As governor, he left Indiana in pretty good shape, financially. Based on that fact alone, I think he'd make a decent President. He does not toe party lines in all things. I worked for the state when he was governor, he wasn't bad to work for either. Things got done and he even vetoed a budget that he said cost too much. The GOP Assembly overrode it.


Richard Lugar - For a politician, he's pretty squeaky clean. I cannot think of one scandal his name has even popped up in. He is moderate and does not toe party lines. I didn't live in Indy, when he was mayor. But from what I have been told, he began a serious clean-up of the city and vastly improved its image. When he began serving as mayor, Indianapolis was called "Naptown". It was a sleepy railroad town that had an old, decaying infrastructure. But, by the time he left office and turned the reins over to his successor, this town was in full revival mode, and "Naptown" was replaced by "Indy".

I thought of this because, I have noticed many Dems that once said they respected John McCain are now turning against him. The same holds true of Republicans. I am quite sure that if Bayh had run and won the nomination for the Dems, Republicans that used to say they respected him would have turned against him too. Elections are a funny thing, you know.

Okay, now it's your turn.

Monday, January 29, 2007

March Of The Polls

You thought they were gone. You didn't see them coming back. But they are back and back with a vengeance. They are the pre-election opinion polls, brought to you by all of the usual suspects.

The Today Show has just touted this latest Newsweek poll as gospel.

The primary and caucus season is about a year away and the general election is close to two. But the media has to prove itself to be relevant and conduct these polls now, as if the election is nigh.

I know that there are people campaigning, but when you consider that John Edwards has practically established residency in Iowa since he and John Kerry were defeated in 2004, you cannot put much credence in the early maneuvering. The point is, polls are just polls. Sometimes they bear out, but many times they do not. Remember how the Dems were supposed to be poised and ready to take back the White House, in 2004?

Early polls are not an accurate indicator of anything, this early. The only purpose they serve is to help the finger-in-the-wind candidates, to know which way the wind is blowing at a given point in time.

Kerry Does It Again

Surprise, surprise, surprise Sergeant Carter. The king of elocution himself, John Kerry, has done it again.


Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry slammed the foreign policy of the Bush administration on Saturday, saying it has caused the United States to become "a sort of international pariah."

Well, I don't know about you, but this sounds a bit superfluous to me. There are people trying to get into the U.S., non-stop. There are countries that are trying to get their hands in the American treasury, non-stop. If we are so isolated and no one wants much to do with us, why are we such a popular destination? Why do countries bend over backward to do business with us?

But beyond that, there is a distinction I would like to make here. There is a stark difference between saying something like this on the Senate floor, and saying it at an international gathering (which in my opinion, is quite irresponsible). It strongly indicates to me that this man executes very poor judgment, as evidenced by his making verbal gaffes a habit.

It all makes me wonder, if he shouldn't resign the Senate, move to Europe, establish residency, and run for office there. The way he condemns the U.S. in a such a cavalier, condescending, and elitist manner, makes me think he'd do well in the EU Parliament.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Fatah, Hamas Still At Odds

It's interesting to note some things, when trying to analyze and make sense of a lot of things. The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict is no exception.

Recently, Abbas and Olmert began showing signs that there is still a willingness to sit down and talk about the peace process.

Rice said Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas agreed o meet for "informal, broad discussions. "

That, within itself, is a good thing and certainly worthy of encouragement. It's not quite the ray of hope we'd all like to see, but it's a start and should receive some positive international reinforcement, to say the least. (I am not sure it has received a lot of attention, but that's not such a big surprise.)

At face value, it sounds promising. But wouldn't you know that right after this becomes known, Hamas has something to say about the whole thing?

Gunmen from the rival Hamas and Fatah Palestinian movements battled in the Gaza Strip for a third straight day Saturday, firing mortars and grenades in clashes that killed seven people, including a 12-year-old boy, in the increasingly bloody power struggle over the Palestinian government.

So what we see looks pretty plain through my eyes. Abbas just talks about having talks and presto, the fighting between Fatah and Hamas resumes. Does that seem more than just a coincidence? Or does my microscope need cleaning, again?

Hamas has said time and time again, they are not committed to peace with Israel. It's in their charter, called "The Covenant".

Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it" (The Martyr, Imam Hassan al-Banna, of blessed memory).

I believe them. How can one not? If they were committed, they would remove this from their charter and cooperate with Abbas with the hope that a meaningful peace could be obtained. You'd think that they would want to have a hand in the process, to score political points and claim some credit for their organization.

But sadly, they don't.

Instead, they leave this in. And by their rhetoric and by their actions, they prove they aren't interested in anything but Israel's destruction. How can we expect a process to be successful, if the ruling party in the Palestinian Authority is not committed and will not accept any other potential solution, except war?

Friday, January 26, 2007

UN Ready To Move On Kosovo

Yes, you read it right. The UN is ready to reveal it's plan on Kosovo and has even gone as far as, to brief diplomats on the long-awaited plan. It's been close to eight years, since the UN sunk their teeth into this international problem. Now, we see the fruits of the long hours of sweating in anguish, over this issue. Now, we get to see those results, right?

Not so fast.

From the Houston Chronicle:

Russia is pressing for more time to examine a U.N. proposal for the future of Kosovo, Western and Russian officials said Friday, underscoring a widening rift between Moscow — a key ally of Serbia — and the United States and its European allies.

Are we really surprised? Just when we think that a slow-moving inefficient organization could actually be ready to move on something, here comes Moscow with objections under the guise of needing to study the plan more closely. I mean come on here, it's not like we have witnessed the hurried ramrodding of something, here. It's been eight years. What could they possibly see fit to change, now?

This is a prime example of why many people are losing faith and confidence in the UN. Everyone wants to drive the damned train. As a result, the train sits in the damned station while everyone tries to be the engineer.

Can anyone see why I am so very critical of the UN? Can anyone see why I have no confidence in it?

The EU and UN have been looking at the Iran situation and predictably, we are seeing the same kind of results. Except with Iran, no one can agree on how to talk about the plan, much less formulate one. If the utility of the UN in the Kosovo case holds true to the one with Iran, maybe we can expect a rough draft in, by 2012.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

News In Brief (And The Usual Opinionated Commentary)

No one thing really stands out as the preeminent story of the moment, so I will do what is customary and comment on a variety of topics that are currently in the news.

More Violence In Lebanon

Opposition to Lebanon's western-friendly government is escalating again. This could be the beginning of a serious push to topple the current regime and replace it with a radical, Islamist-friendly one. Not that Lebanon is the best friend to Israel, as it stands now. But this certainly spells even more trouble for the often despised nation. As for Lebanon, say goodbye to the last best chance for the Middle East having a somewhat reasonable government, to deal with.

Portugal And Spain trying To End Stalemate Over EU Constitution


Obama An Alumni Of Indonesian Madrassa?

First of all, I think it's a fair question to ask. If we can delve into the past of other candidates, why can't we look into the past of the Left's new designated rock star, Barack Obama?

I am not saying that it's true or that I believe it, but then again, I can't say that I don't. I just do not know and if I don't know, there's nothing wrong with asking the question. But that's not necessarily the issue here.

Many believe that this is a blatant attempt to "swiftboat" Mr. Obama. With that in mind, the next question becomes, who outed him? Many will claim the "evil" Republicans are behind it. But me, I'm not so sure. If the GOP had this information, it would make better sense to sit on it for awhile, that is, until it was apparent that Obama would be the nominee, or even after. In some strategic way, I think the GOP would have preferred Obama be the nominee. He would be easier to beat than Hillary, and this information down the road would have been icing on the cake.

That leaves Hillary. Hillary got into the race earlier than she had anticipated, due to Obama's early scene stealing. Hillary has a machine built and part of any well-oiled political machine, is a part Ross Perot called a "dirty tricks committee". She certainly has hers and there is a good chance that more things about Obama will surface, before the primary process begins.


Because Hillary must stop Obama from outraising her in the campaign funds department. Hollywood elitists that were once close to Hillary are reportedly giving to Obama, in large numbers. She is certainly smart enough to know, the best way to kill something is to not give it a chance to live. And some carefully planted information that could turn rank and file Dems against Obama, would stop the tide from overflowing in his direction.

Mike Nifong DA In Duke Case Faces Disbarment

Don't say I didn't tell you so. I said it here.

For those that didn't read this one, here is the part that bears repeating at this particular point in time:

Now that he has been re-elected, what does he need this case for? Besides, he may be spending his next few months assisting in his defense against ethics charges and may be fighting to keep his law license. His mismanagement of this case was the worst kind of power trip.

I hope it all was worth it to him.

Although, he says he'd do it again, I still think that in the back of his mind, this is one instance he wishes he had a do-over.

A Couple Of Links To Share: Friends Of PYY

Ms. Miami, a welcome frequent commenter here at PYY, has posted a guest post at Super Frenchie. She poses some questions about the social caste of nerds and geeks. You might want to take a look at it, it's not a long one.

Another well respected and welcome commenter here is L'Amerloque. He has a post with some interesting links (one of them is this one), as well. You may not want to miss his either, but it's a bit longer. Well worth the read though.


Royal Gaffe Disconcerting For Canadians

Easy there, all you paparazzi lovers. It's not the Royal Family we are talking about here. It's Ségolène Royal, the Socialist Party candidate for the French Presidency. It seems she has become quite the lightening rod. And with her growing list of faux pas, she has certainly reinforced that image.

Who could forget that she is the one that cozied up to a Hezbollah representative, a clearly recognized terror organization?

But now, she is at it again. Super Frenchie covered this yesterday, so he gets the hat tip. But it is this article, in the IHT, that I am referencing for this post.

PARIS: Ségolène Royal, the Socialist Party's presidential candidate, found herself embroiled Tuesday in an embarrassing new foreign policy dispute, denting her hopes of getting her campaign on track and catching up with her chief rival, Nicolas Sarkozy.

"Experience tells us that it is highly inappropriate for a foreign leader to interfere in the democratic affairs of another country," the Canadian prime minister, Stephen Harper, said after hearing of Royal's statements.

Reading the election threads I linked to earlier and analyzing the other criticisms to be found (as you read the coverage), one cannot help but notice, Ms. Royal is proving to be a poor choice for the Socialists. In fact, it's close to being downright, embarrassing. One wonders some things in all of this and I cannot help from sharing.

Those that wanted her to be nominated, seemingly should have known her better, wouldn't you say? She didn't just arrive on the their scene, they should have known that she was prone to these kinds of things. Yet, one has to ask if they did and if so, why did they put her out there for the wolves to devour, knowing that she could screw it up?

I ask these things to get at something here, because I really would hate to think that they did it for the specific purpose of gaining the sex-appeal effect. All right, enough sarcasm, let's be real here. They had to know that this lady was incapable of handling these kinds of situations. Yet, they sent her up anyway. Why else would they try such a thing? You cannot convince me that there were no other highly experienced and skilled Socialist Party politicians that could handle this campaign, better.

But that's not the half of it. There are those that will support her until the final hurrah, if necessary. And frankly, it is surprising that in a nation that has long touted itself as an intelligent and reasoned society, a major party would nominate someone just because she was a pretty face.

I have said before and I will say again, I am not French and cannot vote. But if I were, I'd have be seriously looking at crossing Ms. Royal off of my list. From what I can gauge in all of this, others are too.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

State Of The Union Thread

Time is too short for me to put up a complete post about last night's SOU address. I am under the gun for time. So here's a thread where you can put your thoughts down for all to see and read.

In a nutshell, it was predictable. The most interesting thing is watching who claps at what, and when. Then it's who stands at what, and when. There were some instances that the Dems clapped and even stood, while the GOP sat motionless.

Would you say that he is reaching out more to the Dems? Or is this just showtime for the cameras?

I'll have time to say more tonight (I hope). Until the then, I yield the floor to you the honorable and distinguished readers of PYY.

Monday, January 22, 2007

A Step In The Right Direction

Wide is the gap, and narrow are the minds that wish to keep it that way. Long-standing bitter rivalries still exist today and in some circles, they demonstrate that there isn't a lot of hope that long feuds can be put to rest, very easily.

China and Japan are two nations that have very little love for each other. They are both Asians and have similar, and yet in some ways, very different cultures and value systems. Yet they would not give a dime for each other. Arabs and Israel have their differences and it's no secret that this one is even more bitter and hostile. Sadly we all have to admit there are more instances of grudge relationships, than we really would like to see.

Take the Turks and the Armenians, for example. This one has been a real doozy. This goes a long way back and still brings out resentment and hostility in the meekest of people that live in either of these two countries. It's definitely a mess and things didn't look to good the other day, when Hrant Dink was killed.

But this story in the IHT caught my eye, today.

ISTANBUL: Armenian spiritual and political figures from around the world on Monday accepted an extraordinary invitation from Turkey to attend the funeral of the founder of an Armenian- Turkish newspaper, Hrant Dink, who was killed outside his office Friday, officials said Monday.

The slaying has prompted an outburst of public demonstrations and has begun to suggest a warming of ties after a near century of animosity between Turks and Armenians.

Armenia is to send a deputy foreign minister to the funeral, Arman Kirakossian. The archbishop of the Armenian Church of America, Khajag Barsamyan, also accepted the government's invitation.

Earlier, the Armenian defense minister, Serzh Sarkisyan, called for improved relations so that Armenia could "establish ties with Turkey with no preconditions," according to the Turkish news channel NTV.

Little things like this are things that can be used to start a dialogue, which can always lead to an understanding. But if I may stress so, it can only happen if the parties can bury self-interests, preconceived notions, and deeply embedded values and prejudices that beget mistrust, hostility, and even violence.

Unfortunately, not everyone can accept this way of thinking as a valid alternative to hate and violence. Some even invent stories and advance them with little or no proof.

Sevket Kazan, Deputy of the Saadet Party (SP) of Turkey, argued that the CIA and Mossad planned and organised the murder against the Armenian Turkish journalist Hrant Dink.

It's not overly surprising that the Mossad and CIA cards are being played so early. They often get pulled out by unreasonable people.

But let's consider something here. No one in their right mind can believe that the Mossad and CIA has not had their hands into some unsavory stuff, that would be the ultimate indicator that someone is quite naive, to say the least. But, when the first inclination is to accuse without evidence, we have problems. When we advance theories that are not sound, we see escalation of tensions and sometimes war.

Now it's a pretty safe bet that as a result of this accusation, people who already are biased are going to be even more so and no one or nothing will likely convince them differently. But the real issue is, those that are struggling to get at the truth, those that sit on the fence and are easily influenced, can be (and sometimes are) deceived into adopting these kinds of falsehoods and internalize them as factual information. In fact it happens so much, once they are indoctrinated, they are not easily swayed into any sense of reality or truth.

But be that as it may, this situation in Turkey could be a burning fuse just waiting to explode, as is evidenced by the long history and the recent killing of Dank. So in this situation, we see Mr. Kazan pouring fuel on the fire to make the fuse burn faster. We also see those that are attempting to reach out and show some display of good-will, by allowing Armenians to attend Mr Dank's funeral. Which is to say, they are trying to slow the fuse down.

For this reason, I wish to commend those responsible for this effort to embrace their long-time adversaries (even if it is minimally so) and wholly encourage them to make the best of this situation. It also my hope that they can look past old patterns of hostile behavior and look to the future, instead of licking old wounds and picking their scabs. Both sides can use this as a stepping stone for a better understanding and hopefully start the journey towards some measure of forgiveness and reconciliation.

That's a tall order, I know. But this is a good start.

What a world we could live in, if this were the model used by all old adversaries.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

California Dreamin

I have to tell you that this song brings back some fond memories of So Cal, living and growing up there, in the late 60s. I can shut my eyes while listening to this song and see my old house on Del Rosa Avenue, San Bernardino.

Back then it was a real produce department, there were fruit trees all over our back yard.

We had a variety of fruits that could be picked and eaten at that time. Plums, apricots, apples, and pears were the obvious ones. But, we also had grapevines surrounding the patio and they were delicious. In addition to those, we had a lemon tree, lime tree, and a banana tree that put one stalk of bananas out, once a season. And if that wasn't enough, there was a pomegranate tree down the street that I could hijack one or two every now and then.

But the last time I was there (1998), I drove through the old neighborhood and found a different flora indigenous to the area. Abundant fruity vegetation had been replaced by sage brush, tumbleweeds, Yucca trees, and cacti. The expanding desert that was then on the edge of the area has overrun the old neighborhood.

Although now it's all just a memory, I can still shut my eyes while listening to this live version of the Mamas and the Papas (from the Monterey Pop Festival) and still see the yard as it was, then. I can also see the Angel games with Jim Fregosi at shortstop and Bobby Knopp playing third, the baseball games in my back yard with an over-sized softball that we called the "goose egg", and listening to KFXM 59, on the AM dial. (KMEN 129 was okay too, but 59 played the best variety.)

Those were the days.

California was a such a special place, back then.

Hat tip: AC at Fore left for linking to the black and white TV version of the song (which is arguably one of the very best songs of all time, in my opinion), and bringing back those memories back one more time.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

NFL Playoffs Open Thread

Well it's time for the conference championships, tomorrow. This is the final four of the NFL, the winners play in the big dance, which is the Super Bowl.

New Orleans Saints at Chicago Bears

This is a "pick em" kind of game. the question is, which Bears team will show up? New Orleans is no pushover and if the Bears bring their A game, they won't be either. NO is not used to playing in the cold and that could very well be a primary factor. But the adrenaline sometimes warms the body. It's going to come down to whose defense can make the big plays, when it counts.

New England Patriots at Indianapolis Colts.

We know that the Pats have Tom Brady, who I think is a great clutch QB, in the mold of Montana, Elway, and Bradshaw. But do they have enough oomph left to beat the Colts (whose resurrected defense has them in this game) in their own house? If the defense plays like they have been playing, it could be a long day for Brady. Peyton Manning (who Greg rightfully calls a great regular season QB) needs to step up his performance and put some points up on the board for the Colts to win. The Colts will not keep the Pats out of the end zone, like they did Baltimore's lackluster offense, last week. This too is a "pick em" game.

So, what do you think?


In the Indy Star this morning are two stories about the two coaches in the Colts-Pats game. Both are good reads, both tell inspiring stories about how they got to this level.

Here they are:




It's official, it's an I-65 Super Bowl. Indianapolis Colts Vs. Chicago Bears. Had NE beaten Indy, I'd have been for the Bears. But, I have to stay with the home team. Go Colts.

It will be a good one.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Some Clarity Added For A Clearer Understanding

My good blogfriend Super Frenchie has found it necessary to send in the hoards to see my earlier post on a stunt that was almost pulled by French President Chirac, which can be read here, if you haven't already done so. But first, let it be known that he has asked my permission to link to and hammer me in the past, and I have given him the green light to do it, whenever he wants. I do not mind at all. There's no hostility, whatsoever.

Well, he did. And needless to say, it's awakened the dead. Note the comments on SF's post.

One commenter has taken special exception. (Here, here, and here)

And that's fine. She is entitled to her opinion. There is no sense arguing about it, it matters very little to me how she or anyone else that disagrees with me feels about this, or any other issue for that matter.

But when I am called a warmonger by someone that doesn't know the first thing about me, that's when I must set the record straight.

I don’t think it’s all that far fetched to think that LA Sunsett is a warmonger. Here’s what he thinks about Iraq:


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.

The she follows with:

Cruel? This comes across as being, errr, delusional, and yes, the way that a warmonger thinks…

Despite what this commenter may think about me, I am certainly not a warmonger. Nowhere in my post did I call for military action against Iran. And as for this comment about the Sunni Triangle, read the entire post for a better perspective of what I was trying to say.

But if it still isn't clear, allow me to break it down further.

If we are going to send our young men and women to fight a war, then we must fight it to win. There is no such thing as a politically correct war. If we are going to engage an enemy, then we must try to destroy that enemy and not play silly little political games and appease those that are against what we are trying to do.

I am an ex-soldier, who stood in uniform. I wasn't drafted, I volunteered, and served with honor. Many in my family served with honor, before me. Some did not come home, those that did were forever scarred. I went to their funerals, I witnessed the changes in people that made it back alive. I do not relish the fact that we are at war now, but if we are going to fight a war, we need to do it the right way and make every effort to win it.

We can debate the reasons we went to war for the next hundred years, it will not change one thing. There will always be people that are against it, people that are for it, and people that see both sides of the argument.

When Bush made the decision to go into Iraq, I was a bit apprehensive. I knew the risks, the potential use of chemical weapons weighed heavily into that. When I saw the elite units of the Iraqi military lay down their weapons and blend into the civilian population, I knew this was going to be a long fight. I knew this was not going to be easy and that there was a good chance that this would not be resolved anytime soon.

I also knew that Saddam had WMDs, at some point. Regardless who gave them to him, he had them. I also knew that he wasn't cooperating with UN inspectors. He refused to verify that those weapons had been destroyed, all the while playing cat and mouse games, trying to make the world think he had them. Watching those towers crumble, I fully understood that we could not take the chance that he didn't have them. Since he gave us no good reason to believe him, I knew that there was a real chance, he had them and would get them to people that would have no qualms about using them.

People, there are no absolutes in this world, especially where these issues are concerned. If George Bush would have ignored the situation and an attack had occurred in which the materials were found to have been supplied by Saddam, then he would have been in even worse trouble for not protecting his people. Regardless of how you view his decision, he made the decision, and I am not going to second guess it.

What I will do is, second guess the inefficient way he has conducted the war, the miscalculations, and underestimating the resistance. That is all fair game. Which brings me back to this point, either fight the war to win or don't fight it.

So, with all that a bit clearer, I challenge anyone to prove that this attitude constitutes one of a warmonger.

It's easy to sit in judgment of decisions that one does not agree with. And it's perfectly fine to voice your opinions about them, pro or con. It is not okay to presume to have any answers about someone that disagrees with your position, and types irresponsible comments about someone they know nothing about. It's what some people do, when they have nothing better to offer a debate.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Is There A Cultural Thaw Developing Between Greece And Turkey?

From the IHT comes this interesting article about a perceived new era in Greek and Turkish relations.

A short decade ago, a blink in the centuries of bad blood between Greeks and Turks, there was "no way" a Turkish store could have opened at a fancy mall in Athens. So said Elena Kanellopoulou, 60, as she meandered through Athens's first megamall, stopping a few steps from an upscale women's shop with a clock in the display window showing the time in Istanbul.

I am pressed for time after a long day, but I would be interested in hearing from my European and Turkish readers, on this new wave of cultural reconciliation. Is there hope that two traditional adversaries can put away a long history of hostility?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

PYY Presents: A Snowball's Chance In Hell

From CBS comes this news about snow in Malibu.

Snow dusted the sands of Malibu and several communities surrounding Los Angeles Wednesday as a bitterly cold Arctic storm spread across the state.

Try as I might, I cannot find anyone talking about global warming right now. It seems they've all gone on vacation until the next warming trend. The interviews with activists have all ceased. The media has been preoccupied with the 50 plus deaths due to the cold weather. The print pieces have all dried up.

Al Gore's calendar is open. The street corner sign carriers are in where its warm. Everyone is taking a break and getting some well earned rest. Many are spending time with their families and generally taking it easy.

I guess the "Global Warming" industry is seasonal.

Jacques Chirac The Great Underminer

One has to wonder what people, who attain the status and importance that Jacques Chirac has, are really thinking at times. Take this situation being reported by the IHT, for instance.

At a time when most world powers have forged a united front against Iran because of its nuclear program, President Jacques Chirac arranged to send his foreign minister to Tehran to talk about a side issue, then abruptly canceled the visit earlier this month in embarrassing failure.

Chirac's troubles stemmed from his deep desire to help resolve the crisis in Lebanon before his term runs out in May. To that end, he decided to seek the support of Iran, which, along with Syria, backs the radical Shiite organization Hezbollah, three senior French officials said in describing the effort.

So he planned to send Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy to Tehran, only to call off the trip two days before it was to have taken place, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly on diplomatic issues.

Sounds like he thought better of it. But if we read on, we can see that this was certainly not the case.

Both Douste-Blazy and senior Foreign Ministry officials concluded that such a trip was doomed to fail and that it would send the wrong signal just weeks after the United Nations Security Council unanimously approved sanctions intended to curb Iran's nuclear program, they added.

That put Douste-Blazy in the uncomfortable position of having to tell Chirac that he did not want to go, one senior official said.

We are getting closer, but we are still not there yet. If we read on, we can see where the real pressure came from.

When Douste-Blazy visited Saudi Arabia and Egypt this month, the foreign ministers of both countries also informed him that they strongly opposed any such initiative.

Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, was so determined to stop the visit that he spoke to Douste-Blazy in uncharacteristically blunt terms — "I am going to tell you, do not go" — according to a senior official familiar with the conversation.

So, now we come to the realization that it was Arab and Egyptian pressure that got his attention more so than any common sense thinking, more than his advisers' apprehension too.

Here's the thing, most presidents that come to power through legitimate elections at some point in time become, lame-ducks. That is usually when they become concerned about their legacies, and this would appear to be the case here. Chirac currently enjoys little popularity, except with those that love to say how right he was about Iraq. But that within itself, is not enough, despite the fact that we do not even know if he was right, yet. History will bear that out, not present day pundits that only see the present day situation.

What history is bearing out though, is much clearer. Chirac did not want Saddam removed because he was under pressure from companies that were profiting from the "Oil for Food" scam. That will be his legacy. Therefore, there is this self-imposed pressure to reverse that somewhat.

So, knowing that an effort to alter his legacy was probably what drove him to this poor judgment (described in this article), we cannot say that this is a new strategy. Clinton tried to do it with Barak and Arafat and could have yielded some meaningful results, had Arafat truly wanted peace. With that in mind, I cannot fault Clinton for trying, although his motives may have been out of more selfishness than concern for true peace.

In my view, it's plain to see what Chirac tried to do here. He wanted to slip through the back door, undetected, while everyone else was trying to present a united front against the Iranian government. He wanted to secure a deal, independent of his European counterparts and claim the glory for himself.

What's important to note here is, Europe was on one page and Chirac was clearly on another. He was content to go behind the rest of Europe's backs, to do this. How can we aggrandize the glory of a united Europe and still play the lonewolf, when no one else appears to be noticing? To do so and fail, would have yielded disastrous results.

Despite the fact that this was an unrelated issue, he could have sent the wrong message to Tehran, had he been successful in engaging them in any kind of dialogue. In other words, he could have really screwed this thing up (not that it's going all that well, to begin with). The world could have suffered more, than his legacy was worth. But, I guess such is the case when a person is self-absorbed, like most politicians are.

I call this undermining, what do you call it?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Undercover In A British Mosque

For those that are not in tune with the ideology being advanced by those with radical agendas, this link is for you. If you want to talk about exclusionary and imperialist doctrines, then you need to see these videos, which were part of an undercover presentation in Britain.

It may take a while to get into the site, because Drudge has linked to them. Therefore traffic may be a little heavy. But do not delay, because there will no doubt be naysayers that will condemn this as offensive to Muslims, and You Tube may yank it, under pressure.

The dialogue speaks for itself and needs no comment from me. But I have to ask one question, does this go on here in the U.S.? I am a proponent of freedom of speech and religion to the nth degree, but I have to say that this is a bit troubling.

A Closer Look At Anti-Americanism

Neil Gross is an assistant professor of sociology at Harvard University. Here is a piece that he penned recently for the Boston Globe, and appeared in the IHT.

.......Americans have grown used to the idea that much of the world hates us. Indeed, in the years since Sept. 11, 2001, we have gone from having the world's sympathy to being perceived as the world's bully, denounced on the streets of Caracas, Tehran, Paris, and even London for our unilateralism, aggressive military stance, and free-market economic policies.

But is anti-American sentiment as rampant as it seems?.........

What follows is the identification and brief explanation of the four different types of anti-Americanism. You might be surprised at some of the conclusions that are drawn in this essay.

I recommend checking it out, when you have a moment.

One More New One

Over at PPTG, I have a new post up that centers on a former radical figure in Indianapolis politics, who has made a remarkable transformation. We have heard of the phrase "a road to Damascus moment", this one is his.

Check it out and see what you think.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

New Post At PPTG

It's short and not a very deep one, but nonetheless still poses a question for any that care to consider it.

Read it here.

Political Similarities A World Apart

The French presidential campaign is in full swing. And Super Frenchie has got extensive coverage at his blog. For those that do not know much about French politics, these links are for you.

Here are the players:

From the Right

From the Left

That should get you acquainted with the names. But the real education comes from reading the comment threads. Even at that, these two are not the best of example, by far. For that one, you'll have to read his latest election thread, here.

Do that, then come back and tell me, just how much our political campaign debates are heated and divisive. I see little difference, myself. Parts is parts. Politics is politics.

What's interesting to note in all of this is, Europe appears to be every bit as divided, as we are in the United States.

In Germany recently, Merkel won by a very narrow margin and was forced to form a coalition with her closest and almost equally popular rival, SPD. Now, we have France staring at a potentially very contentious contest, with much uncertainty as to what the outcome may be.

Some are concerned, I am sure. Some are calling for the halt to immigration. Some are talking about the national debt. And many actually desire to see the fall of the "Fifth Republic", and the rise of the Sixth.

But when the dust clears, the" Republique" will survive, as it always has.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Nifong To Give Up Duke Rape Case?

The NYT is reporting that Mike Nifong, the unethical and highly inept prosecutor in the Duke rape case, wants out and is willing to hand it off to the state attorney general.

The district attorney has asked the state attorney general to take over prosecution of the sexual offense and kidnapping case against three Duke University lacrosse players, an official involved in the case said today.

Michael B. Nifong, the Durham district attorney, faxed the request to Jim Coman, head of the state attorney general’s special prosecution unit, today, the official said. Mr. Nifong decided he had no choice but to hand off the case because he faces a conflict of interest with ethics charges pending against him for his public comments on the case, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because there has yet to be an official announcement of the request.

Now that he has been re-elected, what does he need this case for? Besides, he may be spending his next few months assisting in his defense against ethics charges and may be fighting to keep his law license. His mismanagement of this case was the worst kind of power trip.

I hope it all was worth it to him.

NFL Playoffs Open Thread

Indianapolis at Baltimore

Most people do not give the Colts a chance. The Ravens don't either. Lewis and company has been talking a lot of smack.

There is a lot of bad blood between these two cities over the loss of the Colts. But, that's just the backdrop. The fact is, there's going to be a football game there tomorrow. The winner moves on and the loser clears out their lockers for the season.

Talking trash before the game can go either way. If you can back it up on the field, then you have some psychological edges in future games. If not, the other team uses your statements for locker room billboard material and gets madder. The Colts must respond with their defense, in order to stop a merely efficient offense. That is their only hope. Because the Ravens' defense is that damned good, they are arguably the best in the league.

This could be closer than people think. I predict a lower score than most.

Philadelphia at New Orleans

Historically, New Orleans has had decent teams that started out of the gate well, only to falter in the end. This is strikingly similar to the Colts' modus operandi. And again (I am afraid), they will likely succumb to the barely efficient offense putting up just enough points to win, and the resurrected defense of the Eagles. Since their embarrassing loss to Indy a few weeks ago, Philly has came alive on "D".

Andy Reid deserves the "Gut Check Award" for turning this team around. Philly should win this one.

Seattle at Chicago

Will he or won't he? Will Grossman choke? Well, in all fairness here, they only lost three times during the season. But once is enough, here.

The Bears defense should be enough to handle the Seahawks' offense, for the most part. But will Grossman be able to engineer enough offense to win the game? That is the question, pure and simple?

They did hand the Hawks a crushing defeat in their own stadium earlier in the year. That must be Seattle's rallying cry. But they will have to do it at Soldier Field, in front of some of the most rabid football fans anywhere.

I think the Bears should win this one, but not by as much as the last time.

New England at San Diego

Marty Schottenheimer is one of the better coaches. He can take a lackluster/pitiful team and turn them into decent competitive winners. But historically, he's been a "my way or the highway" kind of guy. (See: Tom Coughlin) And that doesn't translate well in the big games. But this year, Marty has eased up some. His players and the fans convinced him to let the players have the freedom to make their adjustments as they see fit. Bottom line here is, no more "Marty Ball". Attack, attack, attack. Don't just get the lead and go conservative.

And they have dominated the regular season in the toughest conference.

Put this with the Pats' experience in these big games, and you have the makings of what could be, the best game of the weekend. But, NE has been a tad bit on the inconsistent side, this season. Whoever wins this one will be depend on which NE team shows up. The flawless Patriots of old that won the big one three out of four years, or the careless, "no more drive because they have already won three titles", team.

If the last team shows up, I give it to SD.


Indianapolis 15 Baltimore 6

The Colts did what they had to do. The defense shut down McNair and company, and the offense scored enough to pull it out.

Throughout the week, the Indy media was playing all of the Raven smack talking sound bites. The Colts are soft, Addai was going to feel pain, and so forth. But in the end, it was the Ravens that felt the pain. The Colts were hitting every bit as hard as the Ravens, on both sides of the ball.

I also was able to hear the Baltimore fan sound bites about how the Colts were going to pay dearly for leaving their city, over 20 years ago. It's amazing how long people can hold a grudge. But even more amazing to me is, Baltimore got their team by stealing the Cleveland Browns. How hypocritical is that?


New Orleans 27 Philadelphia 24

Both teams showed that they belonged in the playoffs, but only one showed they may have a chance to make it to the Super Bowl, since the conference is so weak. New Orleans tried to shoot themselves in the foot, but the Eagles weren't exactly a ball of fire at the end (when the game was still on the line), either.

Brees has the Saints clicking offensively, thanks to having the confidence of his coach. I bet that when he is alone and to himself with just his thoughts, he visualizes beating the Chargers in the Super Bowl. But the real story is the way the Saints defense made the stops and the plays, when they needed to.

It was a fun game to watch.


Chicago 27 Seattle 24

Well, it wasn't as easy as the last time, but the Bears pulled it out in OT. The defenses down the stretch played very well.

I do not know what more Grossman could have done to get the Bear receivers to catch the football. Several times the throw was good or good enough to catch. They have to make these kinds of plays in the playoffs.

But a win's a win. They'll take it. It's certainly a heartbreaking loss for the Seahawks.


New England 24 San Diego 21

NE showed why they belong in the conference championship. The experience factor at this level is hard to overcome.

Being a Colts fan, I would not be tickled about playing either of these teams, But if I have to choose, I would choose the Pats, because the Colts know them and they get them at home. Also, I believe that the Colts' run defense would have had a much more difficult time handling him, than either Maroney or Dillon. But that's not to say that either of those two will be easy to contain.

Despite NE's experience in the big games, they did show some weaknesses that the Colts would be better able to exploit. But all in all, this was a very hard fought game. This is one that it's a shame either team had to lose.

As a post-game note, I hated to see LT act like a poor loser. There will be other seasons, with other opportunities to play for a title. There is no need to act like a spoiled brat.

China's Hypocrisy

From the IHT comes this article.

Here is an excerpt:

In China, where the government works hard to control the flow of information, official accounts of the execution left no doubt about how to interpret the news.

"The execution of Saddam was a political farce controlled by the United States from behind the curtains," wrote one Chinese newspaper, The Legal Evening News, in one fairly typical commentary. "The U.S. feigned not to interfere, pretending that the execution of Saddam was a decision made by Iraq's own government."

Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency, took a slightly different, though no less withering, tack before delivering this summation.

"The United States considers itself the patriarch of the world," it wrote. "Whenever someone doesn't please its eyes or obey its words, it will use its own ways to punish them, imposing sanctions or using force."

Judging from the reams of commentary like this in the wake of Saddam's execution, official China saw the event as a propaganda godsend. At least as far back as the Tiananmen massacre in 1989, Beijing has labored hard to counter notions of collective international responsibility for injustices committed by regimes against their own peoples.

This is all well and good. But if we think about it honestly and fairly, China is hardly in a position to be a moral authority on this.

From ABC:

China carried out 80 percent of the world's executions last year, the report said. Nearly 70 crimes carry the death penalty in that country, including nonviolent crimes such as tax fraud and embezzlement, the report said.

They tell me that the punishment must fit the crime, right? Well if that were the case, China has far exceeded this standard. And for them to sit on a moral pedestal and condemn the U.S. for anything on this, definitely wreaks of moral hypocrisy. If the U.S were to execute people for embezzlement and tax fraud, it would be a bloodbath.

China wants to be a most favored nation, but they still want to oppress their own people by fear and intimidation. They often take one step forward and then take two steps back. That makes it a little hard to get anywhere, wouldn't you say?

Fun With Numbers: An Example Of True Market Competition

(For all my friends that love numbers, and oftentimes cite them as the primary basis for their arguments.)

The Presidential address viewers for cable news are as follows:

FOXNEWS 4,400,000
CNN 2,361,000
MSNBC– 1,211,000

The cable news shows for 1-9-07 are as follows:

FNC GRETA 1,473,000
FNC BRIT HUME 1,319,000
FNC SHEP 1,315,000
CNN DOBBS 1,106,000
CNN COOPER 658,000
CNN ZAHN 611,000,
KING 544,000

If we break this down we can see the following:

FNC had 828,000 more viewers watching the address than both CNN and MSNBC combined, for approximately 55% of the viewers.

FNC also had 3,943,000 more viewers on Tuesday, than both MSNBC and CNN combined. That is approximately 64% of the viewers. That means that the remaining 34% 36% are split between the other two.

The other thing to note is the Bill O'Reilly and Keith Olbermann feud. In my opinion, Olbermann is nothing more than a sportscaster trying to be a news journalist. So in his calculating mind, he can honestly believe that a war with Bill would land him more viewers. But, we can plainly see that O'Reilly beats Olbermann by 1,893,000 viewers, which is an 81-19% margin.

For those of you that like CNN and/or MSNC better, that's fine. But you are going to have a hard time convincing me that all of FNC's viewers are idiots. Say what you want about FOX News Channel, but in a free market economy, they beat the competition soundly.

Hat Tip To Drudge for the numbers (Here and Here)

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Iran Short Of Oil?

Awhile back on another blog, I brought up the possibility of Iran's strong desire for nuclear power being based on the fact that Iran was going to run out of oil in the near future. Naturally there was some skepticism.

But today the IHT is running an op-ed piece that makes this very claim.

Iran has ensnared itself in a petroleum crisis that could drive its oil exports to zero by 2015. While Iran has the third- largest oil reserves in the world, its exports may be shrinking by 10 to 12 percent per year. How can this be happening?

In a closed society (which certainly describes Iran), it's hard to tell what's going on. So whether or not these numbers are accurate is anyone's guess. But, I have to say that this is not too far-fetched of a notion.

It seems that there is a plausible reasoning behind it.

Heavy industry infrastructure must be maintained to remain productive. This is especially so for oil, because each oil well's output declines slightly every year. If new wells are not drilled to offset natural decline, production will fall.

This is what is happening in Iran, which has failed to reinvest in new production. Why?

For the mullahs, the short-run political return on investment in oil production is zero. They are reluctant to wait the 4 to 6 years it takes for a drilling investment to yield revenue. So rather than reinvest to refresh production, the Islamic Republic starves its petroleum sector, diverting oil profits to a vast, inefficient welfare state.

The real question here is, why are the mullahs not reinvesting oil profits into exploration and development?

For the mullahs, the short-run political return on investment in oil production is zero. They are reluctant to wait the 4 to 6 years it takes for a drilling investment to yield revenue. So rather than reinvest to refresh production, the Islamic Republic starves its petroleum sector, diverting oil profits to a vast, inefficient welfare state.

Sound familiar? Let's read on.

This colossal revenue loss persists due to the Soviet-style logic of Iran's state-planned economy. Subsidized energy prices force the state oil firm to sell at a loss to the domestic market. Therefore, while Iran could gain billions by fixing the leaks, the state oil firm would be worse off because the maintenance would generate no new revenue. Thus oil and money simply seep into the ground.

Soviet-style state planning is bad enough for any economy, true enough. But the writer of this piece leaves out some important pieces. While the Soviets ran their economy into the ground with this kind of policy, what little profits could be realized were spent on armaments. They were not re-channeled into the infrastructure; they were not contributed back to the people as they often pretended. The entire philosophy of Marx was thoroughly bastardized by this brand of socialism.

Fast forward to Iran and we can see the same thing happening. Not only are they not channeling profits back into the petroleum infrastructure and development, not only are they cheating the people, they are arming Hezbollah, Hamas, and funding the Shia death squads in Iraq to destabilize that nation. Like the worthless "man of the house" that gets his paycheck, drinks, gambles, and chases women with it instead of paying the bills and feeding his children, these mullahs are doing much the same thing here.

If the Soviets tanked out because they spent too much trying to compete with the U.S. in the Cold War, while their people suffered, what can we all surmise will happen if this keeps up in Iran? That's an easy one. But that still leaves us one (maybe two) more burning question(s) that no one person can seem to answer with any clarity. Will they get a nuke before they tank out? And if so, will they use it to threaten the world, when they can no longer provide the most basic of services that any responsible government should provide for its citizens?

Monday, January 08, 2007

BCS Championship Open Thread

The BCS football championship game is tonight. I call it the BS championship game, because I do not believe it is a true championship. There are no playoffs, all decisions as to who plays in the annual affair is left up to politics and computers.

But still, there will be a game tonight that will pit Florida against Ohio State for bragging rights in College Football, for another season. Will OSU put the finishing touches on a perfect season, or will UF have something to say about it? Tomorrow, those of us that are really into football can analyze it here (probably all three of us).

Anyway, I am picking UF to upset OSU. I think that Florida plays in the toughest conference in college football and will be up to the test. What about you?

The Psychology Of Fear

Since the 9-11 attacks, most Americans have come to the realization that attacks on our soil are not something that happens in other countries, but can happen here, if we allow our guard to drop.Over the weekend and this morning, we see two incidents that may well have been overblown. But certainly, both serve as a stark reminder that we are at still at risk and must continue to improve our security, in order to better serve the people of this nation.

The first was the Miami port incident as told in this article here.

The second is the incident that is playing out right now in NYC, with the peculiar natural gas smell that cannot be explained (at least not at the time of this writing). You can read about it here, if you haven't already done so.

Fear is a naturally occurring emotion, and is a natural response to danger when. Fear also helps us recognize danger. It can alert our senses to a higher state of vigilance, and help us to recognize threats. In contrast, fear can paralyze people and render them totally ineffective, when it is irrational and baseless. When that happens too often, it can ruin lives and generally make people miserable.

What the terrorists of 9-11 did besides kill thousands of innocent people, was place a seed of fear in the psyche of many Americans, by showing that they could beat us from the inside. They showed our vulnerabilities so much that most every time there seems to be an incident like the ones cited here, there is more media spin than is necessary.

Yesterday, it was the Miami port incident saturating the the news channels. Today, it's the odd odor in NYC. But what many people do not realize is, there are many incidents that reach the same level of concern with Homeland Security officials as these, but without the media fanfare.

But being the skeptic I am, I am not as concerned about these incidents themselves, as I am about other things. Could these incidents have been dry runs designed to test reactions of authorities? Could they have been a smokescreen for other incidents that have yet to be detected? I think these are important questions to ask ourselves, in a rational way.

The reason it's important is simple. War strategies include the effective use of decoys. Inner city gangs use them sometimes, it only stands to reason that the terrorists are able to figure out how to use them, as well. If we do not think in these terms, we can and will fall for a false incident, while something more real is happening that can and will be over looked. As I have said many times before, to be deemed successful, we have to be right 100% of the time. The terrorists only have to be right once and many, many people could and would be killed, never again able to roam the earth.

Being in Homeland Security has to be one of the highest pressure jobs, in the world right now. With all of that riding on their shoulders, it's a wonder that we haven't been hit again. But thankfully, we haven't. Yet.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

New Post At The Theology Blog

Well, here is my first original post at the new theology blog. Take a look at it and leave a comment, if you care to. My heartfelt thanks go to those that have already participated. All that have done so, have done so with class and dignity. And believe me when I tell you, I do appreciate it immensely.

AQ #2 Calls For Guerrilla War Against Ethiopian Forces In Somalia

From USA Today comes this article:

Al-Qaeda's No. 2 urged Somalia's Islamic militants on Friday to step up their attacks using Iraqi-style guerrilla warfare against government and Ethiopian forces in the first recorded message from the terror group this year.

Experts say the audiotape, posted on an Islamist website Friday, and other recent recordings indicate that al-Qaeda is intensifying its focus on the Horn of Africa where the terror network has a long history of operations.

For those that think this war is still all about capturing bin-Laden, please note that his followers are quite capable of carrying on without his support, moral or otherwise.

What we are seeing here is a force that had the momentum going its way, beginning to retreat after foreign intervention by a neighboring nation. Now that the Islamist forces are being overwhelmed by Ethiopian forces, we can plainly see that their new strategy is the same as the one employed by the Iraqis, immediately after the invasion began. But as we all know this is not a conventional retreat, but a call to blend in with the population and organize guerrilla attacks on an occupying force. However, I do not believe this is altogether something being called for as some great measure of bravery. Kenya had closed its border so militants cannot cross over into its territory and the U.S. has a blockade implemented to prevent the foreign instigators of this mess, from fleeing the country, in order to live and fight another day. Basically, they are trapped and have no other choice.

What will be interesting is, if these thugs begin a guerrilla operation against the Ethiopian forces and if the Ethiopians choose to fight either a politically correct war, or to flush them out and kill them mercilessly.

"I call upon the Muslim nation in Somalia to remain in the new battlefield that is one of the crusader battlefields that are being launched by America and its allies and the United Nations against Islam and Muslims," Osama bin Laden's deputy Ayman al-Zawahri said in the audiotape.

"Launch ambushes, land mines, raids and suicidal combats until you consume them as the lions and eat their prey," the Egyptian-born al-Zawahri said. He also urged Muslims in other Mideast and African countries to support the Islamists battling the troops from Ethiopia, a country with a large Christian population.

For those that believe that religion plays little or no role in this, you might want to think again. Ethiopia is approximately one-third Muslim and almost two thirds Christian. What is amazing to me is the fact that these two groups have lived in the same country for years, without an extremely large amount of strife between them. Christianity has deep roots in Ethiopia and unlike other African countries, pre-dates European colonialism, as well as Islam. What I believe is happening here is the distinct fear that an Islamic republic in Somalia will eventually proliferate into their country. With one-third of a Muslim population, that certainly is a valid concern. Therefore, we are seeing a proactive intervention to minimize that possibility.

Remarkably, there seems to be little overall outrage about this action, certainly a lot less than the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The only ones that are making noise are those that are supporting the Islamists, like AQ. The fear I have is, that radical elements are implementing a policy very similar to that of the old Soviet Union, that is to say, the Domino Theory. If fundamental Islamists were to run candidates and get elected legally through the system that is in place, respect the rights of its citizenry regardless of their faith, and not actively seek to spread their doctrine to neighboring nations through violent means, one could not make the argument against them. But, with what we have been witnessing here and in other places in the world is hard to ignore.

Ethiopia has chosen to not bury its head in the sand, like many others that are faced with this dilemma (as well as those that possibly could be faced with it, in the future).