Saturday, March 31, 2007

Sadr Calls For U.S. Withdrawal

From the IHT comes this story.

Shiite religious leaders delivered a searing message from the radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr at Friday prayers condemning the American presence in Iraq, while militiamen loyal to Sadr fought Iraqi Army soldiers in southwestern Baghdad, suggesting a resurgence of organized Shiite militia activity.

That's nice.

I have a better idea that will facilitate Mr. Sadr's request, much faster. How about this?

"PYY condemns the actions of the all of the miltias currently operating in Iraq. Furthermore we call for Mr. al- Sadr and all of his followers, as well as the Sunni fighters, to report to their local police headquarters, drop their weapons, lay flat on the ground with their hands in behind their head and their fingers interlocked. Maybe with the marked increase in workload you may want to make appointments."

Call ahead, we'll arrest you when you get here?

How's that for marketing?

Anyway, if the criminal elements of both sides were to stop the violence, there would be no need to stay. Would there? Hence, withdrawal could begin. But as per usual, there's this religious, zealotry-driven, machismo kind of thing that incites these people to do things like place kids in suicide attack cars, just to kill infidels and each other.

And as we all know, they can be pretty stubborn sometimes.

March Madness Continues

I love the NCAA Tourney and especially the Final Four.

In a nutshell, I like the college game better than the pro game. With a longer shot clock, there's more opportunity to set up plays. In the pros, it seems there is more run, shoot, and repeat - with less emphasis on ball movement and passing. Defense (which always wins titles more times than not, in any sport) is stressed more. Since the days of the Chicago Bulls with Michael Jordan, the pros have been playing better defense than in years before. That much is true. But, I can remember when a typical NBA score would have both teams in the 100s-120s on a given night and if there was a poor shooting night, the scores could dip into the 90s.

In the NCAA, most of the kids are there for the game and some are there to tune up for the pros. But, despite the fact that many of them have dreams of playing in the NBA for large paychecks, the vast majority are not going to make it.

The match-ups as I see them are as follows:

Ohio State - Georgetown

Mike Conley (PG) and Greg Oden (C) both graduated with my son, so I know their game well. They won 3 straight Indiana HS 4A titles in a row, so they expect to win. That's all they have known. They are the leaders of the Buckeyes and the force behind why they have made it this far. Conley is every bit as good at his position, as the much praised 7 foot Oden is at his. Maybe even better. Oden must stay out foul trouble early, something young big freshmen tend to do.

Georgetown is not here by default. They shut down NC last week and got hot offensively in the OT period. They play in the best conference in the country and are not a fluke at all. Whether they can keep up with the depth OSU brings or not, remains to be seen. Containing Oden won't be easy, because he does so many things that do not show up on the stat sheet. He forces you to alter your shot unless you can catch him off balance and leaning the wrong way.

Prediction: OSU

Florida - UCLA

Florida is the champ until someone says they are not. They are a good functioning team. Noah provides the height inside and there is balance at every position. They are a machine, and a confident one at that. They will need to execute well, because UCLA plays stellar defense and does not allow teams to get into rhythm very often.

Whether or not Noah gets to pound his chest like some bare-knuckled, John L. Sullivan-like prize fighter will depend on how well he can spark his team. He had better. Because I do not think he will much of an impact player in the NBA. He certainly won't be pounding his chest 82 games a year. And being a lottery pick, will pretty much guarantee him a spot with a losing team.

Prediction: This is a tough one. My head says Florida, but my heart says UCLA. UCLA will also be out for revenge for last year. I will go with UCLA.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Now Is The Time For The European Union To Show Why They Are Relevant

Here is an opinion piece from the Guardian I would recommend, especially to all of my European readers.

Last week, while the European Union celebrated 50 years of peace, freedom and solidarity, 15 Europeans were kidnapped from Iraqi territorial waters by Iranian Revolutionary Guards. As I write, those 14 European men and one European woman have been held at an undisclosed location for nearly a week, interrogated, denied consular access, but shown on Iranian television, with one of them making a staged "confession", clearly under duress. So if Europe is as it claims to be, what's it going to do about it? Where's the solidarity? Where's the action?

Simply to describe the crisis in these terms is to see how far we are from the Europe of instinctive solidarity that European leaders like to believe we have - and especially when it comes to our armed forces abroad. Most Brits do not think of our captured sailors and marines as Europeans. Indeed, I'd bet our kidnapped British service personnel don't think of themselves that way. Most British people will look for more decisive action from the British government ("Admiral Lord Nelson must be revolving in his grave," chuntered Melanie Phillips in yesterday's Daily Mail), and then perhaps from the United States or the United Nations. It would not occur to them to look across the Channel for support, and they would be very surprised to learn that Europe has more direct, immediate leverage on Iran than the United States does.

Many continental Europeans, if they have registered that there is a crisis at all - and many will not have, since Europe's media are still mainly national in form and priorities - will probably think of it as yet another consequence of a foolish, illegitimate Anglo-American military action in Iraq. They will see it as a problem for "them" (Brits and Americans) rather than for "us" (right- thinking, peace-loving Europeans). Some may suspect the British sailors and marines did in fact stray into Iranian territorial waters, as the Iranians claim. A few may even privately mutter: "Well, you had it coming to you."

The EU talks up a good game, but I too am interested to see just what this bureaucratically bloated entity does about this. In France, soon to be ex-President Chirac has paid his traditional lip service, beyond that little else. Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, and others haven't expressed much else either. German Chancellor Merkel has been the only real voice that has resonated well, in the matter. Turkey has also stepped onto the scene with an offer to help. That's kind of sad because, they are still offering to assist despite the fact they are currently being snubbed by the EU. This has been reported, in this article.

But government officials are not the only ones keeping quiet, even the European blogs are conducting an exercise, in deafening silence.

One of the better German blogs, David's Medienkritik (which is a fine blog that works hard at fighting against anti-American rhetoric) has nothing to report. One of the better known French blogs is Super Frenchie. There, he sings the praises of the EU and castigates those he perceives as engaging in French-bashing. But try as you might, you cannot find one piece about standing in solidarity with the Brits on this crisis and yet, would rather write about a toy and condemn the use of the term "Freedom Fries", than to condemn the illegal acts of the Islamic Republic of Iran for their violation of international law.

(I am sure there are others, but time not being an ally of mine and searching extensively takes much of it, I have to use these two that I have on the blogroll. Both are non-Anglo European blogs and both illustrate my point.)

I would emphatically state that if Europeans really want this experiment to demonstrate its effectiveness, now would be the time to stand up. If they wait passively so that the lion will eat them last, they will still be eaten anyway. If the world is going to confront this threat, it must start with Europeans looking after Europeans. If Brits cannot count on the continentals, how will anyone be able to count on the Russians of Chinese? What incentive would they have, if Europe doesn't care for its own, first and foremost?

Look, Europe has been told by its leaders a blue million reasons for why they need the EU. If the leadership of the EU does not respond to this, they greatly illustrate just precisely why I call the EU, UN Lite. Spending all of the money it does and consuming the many man hours to run it, you'd think they'd get something that resembles a return on their investment. Instead you have little else, but a bunch of bureaucrats that consume much and produce very little. You have bureaucrats that love to have praise thrown at them, but do not earn it on the average day. But I cannot blame the leadership entirely. It wouldn't exist if it wasn't for the will of the people.

They wanted it and they have it. But as we can now see (by the lack of reaction by EU officials), there is still a malaise-like apathy that exists in Europe that is not entirely understood by this writer. Whether it's because I am an ignorant, yet arrogant American or I am some kind of genius that cannot see the forest for the trees, the outcome is the same. It's pretty difficult for me to think that someone could kidnap some Canadians and the U.S. would not be more vocal about it,; more than the whole of Europe has been so far in this current situation (at least). In fact, I often wonder if unity is really a goal with them.

But whatever the case may be, I have to say that I have made no secret in my love for the European continent and its people, during my tenure here at this sleepy little blog. And please understand fully that I completely realize, recognize, and understand the fact that my country needs a strong Europe, both as friends and trading partners. My heritage is from there, I lived and worked there with people of several nationalities. I can honestly say that those days were some of the most care-free and enjoyable days, of my life. I worked hard and played hard with the people, and I well know the resolve they have. But I also know, they deserve better than what they are getting here.

I would hate to think that the continent would turn its back on an ally that has stood by them many times in the past, just because there is a difference of opinion on Iraq. Yes, there have been differences at times, and there have even bloody wars fought between the nations. But Europeans tell me time and time again, this was in the past; and in the same breath, they speak of a new era of European cooperation and greatness.

Well I say, the time to support that claim is right here, right now. Part of that cooperation and the greatness that will ensue it, is providing for the safety and security of the member states, both in the political and diplomatic channels, in the hopes that the military channels will not be necessary. But, it cannot begin if the member states do not speak up. It won't work if they remain silent and muted, that's a given. Words must precede acts, with the hope that acts will not be needed. But if the words never come, nothing will get resolved.

So to Europeans, I say the following:

EU-Yes or EU-No, it really matters not so much to me. I do not live there. Maybe I do not have the right to have an opinion on the matter, I don't really know. But if you ask me, you need to get a little more bang for your buck, where the "so-called" unifying entity is concerned. Or like every other attempt before it, it will certainly fail.

Courtesy of Flocon de Paris comes this update:

The EU has finally issued a statement on the crisis.

I would say that it's better late than never. But I also have to wonder, why did it take an entire week to get out a few paragraphs? (You know me. Just asking.) But nevertheless, I applaud the statement - especially the last paragraph. I hope it won't be necessary, but also hope they mean it (if it does become necessary).

The Dobson Phenomenon

I have minced very few words in my disdain for the far-Left ideology (and in many cases, tactics). But the far-Right certainly doesn't settle well with me either, and here's why.

Focus on the Family founder James Dobson appeared to throw cold water on a possible presidential bid by former Sen. Fred Thompson while praising former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is also weighing a presidential run, in a phone interview Tuesday.

"Everyone knows he's conservative and has come out strongly for the things that the pro-family movement stands for," Dobson said of Thompson. "[But] I don't think he's a Christian; at least that's my impression," Dobson added, saying that such an impression would make it difficult for Thompson to connect with the Republican Party's conservative Christian base and win the GOP nomination.

Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Thompson, took issue with Dobson's characterization of the former Tennessee senator. "Thompson is indeed a Christian," he said. "He was baptized into the Church of Christ."

Here's where evangelicals and myself part ways. Here's where I must draw the proverbial line and make the distinction between what is Caesar's and what is God's. Even if I agreed with Mr. Dobson right down the line (and believe me I do not), it is my firm belief that making proclamations on who is and who is not a Christian is, primarily and precisely, the reason why we have the separation of church and state.

So, can anyone tell me who died and made James Dobson the spokesperson for Christians? I am Christian and I can definitely say with an infinite amount of assurance that he does not speak for me.

It is said by many that Dobson's power and influence in the world of the evangelical right is second to no one right now; Robertson and Falwell have pretty much been replaced. The flock is now gravitated to him now and somewhere along the way, someone must've given him the impression that he is now in "kingmaker" status. But that's not all there is to this. What makes this even worse is the fact that there are many that listen to him and count his word as gospel.

Some in the evangelical right leadership have greatly miscalculated in their speech before. Some are no strangers to "foot-in-mouth-disease". We all know Pat Robertson has said things that were better left unsaid. Who can forget the need for Hugo Chavez's assassination comments? Jerry Falwell is another one. His righteousness has always preceded him and if you don't believe me, just ask him. He does well when he leaves politics out of his conversation.

The point I am trying to make here is not a difficult one. What I am trying to convey is politics has no business in religion and the same courtesy must be extended, when it goes the other way. There is nothing wrong with voting one's conscience and choosing to vote for those that reflect a person's values. But I do feel there is something to be said for picking against a candidate merely because they may not fill the specific mold of what they feel a Christian ought to be.

But let me be clear here, Dobsonites are entitled to their opinions and can certainly express them; just as the Left is entitled to theirs and to express them. They are entitled to stick up for their faith, if they feel it is under attack or if their individual constitutional rights have been or are being violated in some way. But if they make the same mistakes they have made in the past by attempting to drive the GOP train, they will seriously endanger the GOP's chance of winning in 2008.

Fred Thompson is just about as conservative as you can get. And relatively speaking, for a politician, he is of pretty sound character. There is no one that has championed the causes that many in the evangelical right have deemed important, than Mr. Thompson. He has been demonized by many on the Left, which are the same ones that now demonize Mr. Dobson. Yet, Mr, Dobson has now seen fit to act as kingmaker, judge, and jury against Mr Thompson? Someone help me out here. Just who does he want, anyway?

Look, if it's ideology differences, fine. If he's not strong enough on this or not lax enough on that, okay. But please do not allow anyone to influence you to cast your rightfully and constitutionally guaranteed vote -- based on who he/she thinks is or is not a Christian. But also know this, if you disregard this bit of advice, President-Elect Clinton will thank you for it.

(Note - Because this is one of those posts that could fall on either the political or religious side, I have cross-posted it at PPTG. If your comments lean toward the religious side, you can leave a comment there. If it's more toward the political, you can leave it here.)

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Tale Of Two Parties: The Two Issues Neither Want To Discuss

There are two distinct things that the GOP and the Dems most certainly agree on.

These two areas of concurrence have to do with the future of our country; and if not given some serious consideration towards meaningful change, the things that average Americans have enjoyed over the many years, will be in jeopardy and great peril. In my view, the future of this country rests on these two things and both are (for the most part) domestic in nature.

Yes, there are two things that we will not hear (either) the GOP or the Dems talk about on the stump. They will not be discussed in any great length, therefore the people will not hear what they need to hear, in order to better understand why the vast majority of people are not being heard. And we can be damned sure that both sides will dodge any meaningful questions on the subjects -- no one will get much of a straight answer.

You see, both major political parties have the same goals in these two issues, both for two entirely different reasons. For them, the ends justify the means.

What are these two things?

1. The first thing both parties agree on is the undermining the prosperity of the middle class.

Both parties cater to rich people. The big difference is, some rich people like one side better and some, like the other better. Both are subject the personal ideologies of the two different sides.

The GOP attracts supporters that are favorable to big business and large multi-national companies, because there is a buck to be made. The Dems do too, just ask Teresa Heinz-Kerry about her corporation. The Heinz Corporation reportably gave loads of money to the GOP, in 2004. Then, ask Barbara Boxer about her stock in Halliburton. And whatever you do, be sure to ask Nancy Pelosi about her ties to Del Monte. Her relationship to that corporation may provide an answer as to why one U.S. territory will be exempt from the new federal minimum wage.

Don't get me wrong here, business is what the nation was built on. Free market capitalism and the cultivation of such, has been a key factor in the wealth and prosperity of many people. The incentive to create wealth is necessary to encourage risk-taking and entrepreneurship. Risk-taking and entrepreneurship are two major components of job-creation for those that do not want to take risks and the fostering of great opportunity, for those that do.

But, many times big donors and supporters are the people that run big corporations and the deck gets stacked against the little guy, trying to compete. One such area is the area of taxes. Rich people (of both parties) pay little, because they have so many write-offs. This is why neither party is talking about the Fair Tax (as it is coined), which is merely a consumption tax.

Just try talking to someone in Washington about having the rich pay their fair share, by taking their write-offs away. See what kind of response you get. Blah, blah, blah... the need to study it further... blah, blah... the poorest of people will suffer more...blah, blah, blah. Just present the issue and that's just what you'll get. But here's the thing, there are people that hold and own great capital, yet are able (through creative accounting that is legal) show no income. Therefore, they skate. They pay little to nothing in taxes, while the tax burden rests on those that have to work. This means it's primarily the middle class that shoulders the load. As the rich get by with paying less, someone has to pick up the slack. That's where small business owners and labor comes in. They are the only other ones that can produce the revenue, at least in this day and age.

With the consumption tax, every time someone buys a yacht or a Lear Jet, they will pay taxes. Every time someone buys a Mercedes or any other high ticket item, Uncle Sam will collect. There will be no more need to wrest away part of the average American's paycheck before he/she even sees it, no more need to look for deductions to keep from paying. And most of all, there will be no more need for the IRS, as we know it today.

But, the rich Republicans and the rich Democrats do not want to pay their fair share, nor do they want their donors to, either. They both would love to keep the middle class in their place, to pay the salaries of those that count and distribute the money, and to keep their own while doing it.

Another reason the consumption tax is so intriguing and takes on a different perspective is simple. Think of all of the illegal immigrants that are here, working, and not paying taxes of any kind (except state sales tax). The middle class is footing the bill for this one too, but that's another post.

This, in turn, leads me to the second reason:

2. The second thing that both parties agree on is the securing of the border.

Both want it open and porous, for two entirely different reasons. The GOP wants it open for cheap labor. The Dems want it open, because they see those that cross it illegally, as potential votes for them. For these two reasons, neither side will discuss it at any great length or depth.

A 2006 Zogby poll showed the overwhelming majority of people in America want stricter immigration policies. Most of the categories in this poll showed that two-thirds or more were not happy with the policies of that time. Today, I bet you could take another poll and it would show equally similar numbers, maybe even more in favor of controlling the border. So, the government is clearly demonstrating that it is ignoring the will of the people, just by refusing to engage in meaningful debate on the subject. No one talks about, except for a brave few that risk being labeled as a heartless group of xenophobic bigots.

Yet, it is this issue that will define the parameters of this nation for many years to come, If it is not dealt with soon enough, our healthcare systems will not be able to continue absorbing the costs of treating the medical conditions many that come across our border bring with them, when they cross it. As it stands now, it is the middle class that must pay more in premiums and more on out of pocket expenses to help the hospitals recuperate their enormous losses. So, to ask the illegal population to pay a tax when they buy a car, a stereo, or even a case of cerveza, doesn't sound like much to ask (if you ask me).

In all of this, we can all rest assured in one immutable truth. Nothing--repeat nothing-- will get done about these two difficult problems, unless the people demand more from their elected officials. And if there is an ambitious soul out there somewhere that wants to ride a wave of popular support, I highly recommend looking at these two issues and coming up with some good solid proposals to correct these two things that the current bunch in government thinks we are all too stupid to notice. If someone can display that kind of courage, they just may get my vote (and many millions more).

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Wolf Doth Not Lie Down With The Lamb

My friend Mustang from Social Sense put up a post recently entitled Sheep Dogs. It is one of those e-mails that cannot be verified as being written by the author it is attributed to and he says so at the outset. But in my opinion, it does not invalidate the words contained in it. Give it a read, if you have the time.

I used to be a sheep dog.

Monday, March 26, 2007

The New Era Of Political Cults

When most people think of a cult, religious groups like the Moonies and Branch Davidians come to mind, almost instantly. Others may remember the Manson Family cult in the late 60s, which was a group of people that broke the traditional religious cult mold and subsequently went on a murderous rampage that defied all reason. Some things are said to have a cult following, like Star Trekkies and those that hit theaters near college campuses every Friday night, to watch The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Cults have been studied and written about extensively by theologians, psychologists, sociologists, and other professional disciplines, that deal with explaining human behavior. So, to go to far into depth on such a complex subject would probably bore you death. There are numerous books on the subject, if you want a recommendation, I can give you a few but they are not hard to find. Therefore, I will spare the in-depth examinations and get straight to the point of this post. But first, let's look at one of the Webster definitions (#5), courtesy of one of our favorite short-cut services, Wikipedia:

5. Great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book).

Notice the word movement, here. This is a non-specific term that can be interpreted as any "movement" that is the object of great devotion. Therefore one must assume there are varying degrees of cult status, as well as different kinds of cults in general. If you are my age, you will no doubt remember Amway, as a multi-level marketing organization. It's a nice big term that sounds important, but in reality it is nothing more than a grand pyramid scheme, nothing more than a business cult. Certainly there are others, but you get the idea.

One of the trademarks of many cults (to include the political ones) is free and independent thinking is strongly discouraged. Religious cults are most known for this, but they aren't the only ones. Political cults are beginning to make their mark, in the political world. Rather than lobby for real change, many of them seek to use a subtle form of mind control in order seek empowerment.

Let's take a look at what I view to be one of our better known political cults, MoveOn.Org.

First, let's look at a piece found on Neal Boortz's website that was broadcast on his daily talk show out of Atlanta, some time ago (July 2005 to be exact).

Did you read it? Did you take time to read it thoroughly? Or did you write it off, because of who he is? Let's separate the message from the messenger for a moment here, if we are able. Shall we?

The mere fact that this organization feels the need to put out form letters, for people to write their elected officials and editors of periodicals, makes me think that some of these people cannot and do not think for themselves - at least not well enough to put together an intelligent and coherent letter that will express their views and make their wishes known. I am sorry if that offends anyone, but that's the truth as I see it.

Not convinced yet?

Take a look at this form letter macro, similar to the one used by the two that Neal featured, and the countless more that got through undetected.

Then take a look at this one.

I could on, but the redundancy would put me to sleep. So, let me say something that needs to be understood before anyone pounces on me - this is not about ideology. This is not about someone's right to free speech or to have dissenting views. Everyone in this country - repeat - everyone- has the right to their own opinion.

It's not those things that bother me most, it's the tactics that I object to. It's the inflammatory nature of the methods used. It is the hateful way this dissent is presented that irritates me so much, not the specific content of the material. It's the way that content is most always presented in the worst possible light if it's something they disagree with, which is downright mean and hateful. It's the way they present their views on people they agree with, the way they sugar-coat things when they do not line up with reality, that gets me irritated.

No matter what the subject may be - it ends up with everything being Bush's fault and anyone that tries to explain something to them about a certain thing they do not agree with, gets accused of being a neo-con, a repuke, and/or a rethuglican. No matter what the scandal is when it's their people in the hot seat, it gets minimized and we hear all kinds of lame excuses for the acts committed.

But to me, it goes even one step further than that. What really astounds me is how grown adults are willing to misrepresent themselves by using form letters, posing as Marine moms, and generally using whatever underhanded tactic possible to disrupt the process just to get their point across. In my opinion, this does nothing but promote more hostility and more resentment.

And allow me to say that before anyone is tempted to call me right-winger because I am saying this, let me point out definitively that I was one of the first to criticize Ann Coulter for her nasty statements. Why? Because I do not make party distinctions on inappropriate behavior. If I think it's wrong for one side to do something, rest assured that I think it's wrong for the other.

You see, I believe in principles, I believe in debate, and I believe in democracy. I believe in the freedom of speech as long as it is not directed at others in a nasty way. I believe in treating everyone with respect and dignity, regardless of their political opinions. I do not believe in demonizing people personally with mean and hateful discourse, simply because they do not agree with me.

In every ounce of my heart, I firmly believe that the hateful and spiteful rhetoric (coming from groups like these) is working to influence a new generation of young minds that will soon have no respect for the process or the system. They will not respect authority or the rule of law, but they will be given over to mob rule, to do as they please, whenever they please. Anarchy will be the result.

One can disagree with people without demeaning them. One can change the system, without being disruptive and rude. One can make things happen without calling someone a name. And finally, one can argue and win a debate without destroying the person you are debating with.

This is not an authoritarian system, we have here. There are elections every 2, 4, and 6 years, depending on the office being sought. Anyone with some brains and some perseverance can win the free exchange of ideas, by putting forth the best ideas, if they are based on solid reasoning, logic, and sound judgment. But, it's up to all of us to demand better. It's up to us to do better. It will not get better unless we think for ourselves and evaluate all things before jumping to conclusions. And if, after we have done all of that and we still believe the same way, then so be it. But we will have done so with grace, dignity, and class.

Thank you all for visiting and reading my blog.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Times: Iran To Put British Captives On Trial

The Times is reporting that Iran plans to put the 15 Brits being held captive by Iran, will be put on trial.

FIFTEEN British sailors and marines arrested by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards off the coast of Iraq may be charged with spying.

A website run by associates of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, reported last night that the Britons would be put before a court and indicted.

Referring to them as “insurgents”, the site concluded: “If it is proven that they deliberately entered Iranian territory, they will be charged with espionage. If that is proven, they can expect a very serious penalty since according to Iranian law, espionage is one of the most serious offences.”

The warning followed claims by Iranian officials that the British navy personnel had been taken to Tehran, the capital, to explain their “aggressive action” in entering Iranian waters. British officials insist the servicemen were in Iraqi waters when they were held.

Yesterday, I stated that I wasn't the least bit surprised by this recent development. And today is no different.

Iran is slowly starting to lose international support for their activities and is doing what they have historically done in the past, when they are the subject of some intense criticism and scrutiny. They seriously need to up the ante in these kinds of cases, mainly because criminal acts and terrorism are the only forms of leverage they have. They are losing support abroad, so what do they do? They throw an international tantrum, to draw attention to themselves and create a smokescreen for their own crimes.

As we read further into the article we see just what they may be trying to gain from this latest violation of international law:

Iranian student groups called yesterday for the 15 detainees to be held until US forces released five Revolutionary Guards captured in Iraq earlier this year.

First of all, we see the return of the "policy-making" students.

If you are old enough to remember the U.S. Embassy takeover in 1979, you'll also remember that it was Iranian students that invaded and seized it, in direct violation of international law. Never mind that these people (one of which was alleged to have been the current Iranian president) didn't go to classes for several months during the entire ordeal, they were still deemed to be students. And now, we see they have returned to the scene and are projecting a new voice while using an old tried and true tactic, in the world of Iranian policy.

But more than anything, we may be seeing what their true motivation is here.

Certain Iranians have been detained for actively participating in the conspiracies of the Iranian government, for the specific purpose of destabilizing Iraq. In their minds, they may think they have a right to illegally detain others as part of a political blackmail plot in order to gain their release. And who could blame them, especially when the UN and other prominent governing bodies have done little in the past and have been dragging their feet on this issue, today.

Other than a few strongly worded condemnations (to include our illustrious president back then, Jimmy Carter), the world gave Iran a pass in 1979. The only outcome that was noticeable at that time was a validation that extortion and blackmails works. Will we do so again in 2007?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

British Sailors Become Hostages Held By Iran

The Islamic Republic Of Iran is no stranger to hostage situations, just ask Jimmy Carter. Under his watch and very soon after the 1979 takeover by Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran found itself seizing and holding people against their will. I guess it was their unique way of saying to the world: Hello, we're here.

Well, that was then. This was today.

Britain’s crisis with Iran deepened last night after Tehran justified seizing 15 British servicemen by claiming that they had strayed into Iranian territorial waters “illegally”.

The claim in 79 was the U.S. Embassy was a nest of spies. That action then and the one today was/is designed to divert attention away from their own misdeeds. By creating a smokescreen, it directs attention away from the issue at hand, which is the UNSC sanctions that are currently being discussed and proposed. And as slow as the process seems to be going to the average non-bureaucratic mind, I would guess they are nearer to an agreement and Iran is hoping to gain some ill-gotten leverage that didn't have before this incident.

The incident occurred mid-morning when a boarding party left HMS Cornwall, the flagship of the multinational task force in the northern Gulf, in two small craft to inspect an Iranian merchant ship.

When the inspection was completed the British were surrounded by six larger vessels from a Revolutionary Guards naval unit.

It kind of makes you wonder if there wasn't something just a little sensitive on that ship, doesn't it? Maybe it was that, or, they were deliberately wanting to provoke an incident. It's not openly apparent either way right now. But whatever the case, know that Iran is not new to these kinds of situations. In addition to the 79 embassy takeover, they have been involved in another hostage situation with the Brits.

So? Can anyone really say they are shocked on this one and still keep a straight face?

UPDATE: British sailors admit being in Iranian waters.

Fifteen British Sailors and marines detained off Iraq by the Iranian navy have admitted illegally entering Iranian waters, senior Iranian commander General Alireza Afshar said Saturday.

"They are currently being questioned and have admitted to violating the territorial waters of the Islamic repubic," Afshar, the official spokesman of the army chief of staff, told the semi-official Fars news agency.

So says Iran. But I wouldn't say they are the most credible of sources. As for me, I'll wait to see what they say when they are released.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Elizabeth Edwards' Uphill Battle Has Returned

Politics aside for a moment, PYY wants to extend heartfelt sympathies to the Edwards family on the horrible news that Elizabeth Edwards' cancer has metastasized to the bone. Words are seldom adequate for something like this, but I will try.

Allow me to say that I have never allowed political differences with friends, family, and neighbors to affect my interpersonal relationships with them. I know many people that do not share my views on a good many issues and quite frankly it doesn't matter, in the larger scope of things. We all love each other, just the same. There are some things more important than poilitics and this is one of them.

I do not know Mrs. Edwards and have never met her. But I know a few people that have died from cancer and knowing what I know about that dreaded disease, I know she is in for a long miserable battle from this point forward. It will not be easy, the odds are not in her favor.

When cancer metastasizes, it is harder to treat because at that point, it becomes a systemic problem, rather than a localized one. The treatments are not curative, they are merely palliative. This means, it is only a matter of time before the person will lose their battle. The question becomes, when? And that all depends on how the person responds to the treatments, everyone is different and we all respond differently to different things.

So knowing how difficult of a process this is, I want to say that it is my hope that she gets everyday she has coming to her and that her suffering is not beyond what she can bear. Our prayers will be with her, John, the kids, and all that know and love her, in this troubled period.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Democracy In Action?

Not a lot of time to expound on this right now, I have another long day staring at me. But take a look at these events:

Congressman's Office Vandalized

This is a crime. It's called vandalism.

Peace Activists Take over Congressman's Office: Vow More

Depending on the feelings of the Congressman involved here, this could be a crime too. It's called trespassing.

Soldier Burned In Effigy At Portland Peace Rally

This is not a crime, it is protected free speech. But it does the activists little good, especially when you consider that the goal is peace. How does demonstrating in an angry manner against the soldiers that are sent to fight advance the cause of peace?

Is this democracy in action? Or is it merely a prime example of attempted mob rule?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Animal Rights Activist: Baby Bear Should Be Killed

You know, just when I think I have heard it all, here comes another ridiculous statement from someone that hasn't a clue. Read this article about a baby polar bear rejected by its mother, currently being raised and nurtured by humans.

Berlin Zoo's abandoned polar bear cub Knut looks cute, cuddly and has become a front-page media darling, but an animal rights activist insisted Monday he would have been better off dead than raised by humans.

"Feeding by hand is not species-appropriate but a gross violation of animal protection laws," animal rights activist Frank Albrecht was quoted as saying by the mass-circulation Bild daily, which has featured regular photo spreads tracking fuzzy Knut's frolicking.

"The zoo must kill the bear."

Now, I know there are some that will say that I am not taking everything into account here. But as most of you know by now, I am not a popular person in some circles, anyway. So as always, I'll take the chance in stating my view (mainly because, I do not need validation from others in order to attain self-actualization).

The points I would like to make are fairly simple:

1. The term, animal rights activist, is a misnomer. Animals do not have rights. I do not say this to justify being cruel to an animal, I have two dogs that I love dearly and have a true appreciation for all forms of animal life. Animals, like people, should always be respected as God's creatures. But make no mistake here, there is no provision in any constitution that I know of that guarantees animals certain rights.

2. I bet if we asked Herr Albrecht how he felt about euthanizing animals for fur, he'd be against it. I can hear him now, it would be cruel, inhumane, and outright criminal. He may even be a vegetarian for all I know and not like killing animals for food. But if he is a meat-eater, he gets a double-hypocrite rating here.

3. What about dogs and cats? We nurture them, we love them, we care for them. At some point in man's history, these animals had to be domesticated. They weren't all born to be pets, were they? Somewhere along the line, dogs and cats were wild and were trained to be friends and companions to man. I cannot see any good reason to demonize the Berlin Zoo for wanting to help this little cub to live a long life, even if it means humans will be using their skill and knowledge to preserve it. As long as an animal is not injured, sick, or suffering what the hell can it hurt?

But the bottom line here is this: There are people that are under the influence of a political and social ideology that outwardly proclaim the benefits of preserving life, when it suits their tastes. And the rest be damned. They claim to have more knowledge than the rest of us in certain zoological and other disciplines of interest, and in some cases that may be true. But they do not have an ounce of common sense about how precious all forms of life are, even those that have been rejected by their mothers.

Frank Albrecht is one of those very, very foolish people.

Something To Think About

For all of those people that insist on assigning comparisons of Stalinism and Nazism to the present American President, take a look at this.

THE former editor-in-chief of a Chinese Website has been given a six-year prison term for subversion, the Ningbo Intermediate People's Court in east China's Zhejiang Province said.

The court ruled yesterday that Zhang Jianhong, former editor-in-chief of a Website named "Aiqinhai," or "Aegean Sea," had written articles which defamed the Chinese government and amounted to agitation aimed at toppling the government.

Now, take a look at this. And this.

There was nothing flattering towards the President or his administration to be found on either of those sites. The number of sites that do this kind of thing here in America are what we in the science world call, TMTC (too many to count). Yet, they have freedom to put up whatever valid or baseless accusation they choose, because there is freedom to do so here.

But if they were in China, things would certainly be a lot different. As you can see if you read the article I linked to, they don't play around there. Criticize the government there and you go to jail. So before someone tells you that this nation is losing freedom by the hour or the minute, consider that America's government doesn't make a practice of silencing its critics. And we do not have a government imposed filter system for our personal usage, like China.

Whatever conclusions you come to in your personal analysis of the many issues we all face and however you interpret the data; think, before you buy into the invalid arguments of political cults.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Race-Based Campaigning: Widening The Gulf

Yesterday, the LAT did what no conservative publication could have done, at least without being labeled as racists and hatemongers. They chose to characterize Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama as, "The Magic Negro".

AS EVERY CARBON-BASED life form on this planet surely knows, Barack Obama, the junior Democratic senator from Illinois, is running for president. Since making his announcement, there has been no end of commentary about him in all quarters — musing over his charisma and the prospect he offers of being the first African American to be elected to the White House.

But it's clear that Obama also is running for an equally important unelected office, in the province of the popular imagination — the "Magic Negro."

The Magic Negro is a figure of postmodern folk culture, coined by snarky 20th century sociologists, to explain a cultural figure who emerged in the wake of Brown vs. Board of Education. "He has no past, he simply appears one day to help the white protagonist," reads the description on Wikipedia .

Where to begin, where to begin?

First of all, anyone can put anything on Wikipedia. It's good for basic shortcuts to explain things quickly. But as a valid source of real and true information, it must be held into question. I have never heard of the myth, personally. I have never heard of it spoken of, before now. (That doesn't mean it hasn't been around before now, I just haven't heard of it.)

Secondly, despite what many may believe, there is a storm brewing in the Democratic Party. This was supposed to be Hillary's moment in the sun. And then, here comes this bright young man that defies stereotypes and myths, has an certain outsider status, can raise money, and has a following already in place just by making an announcement. Sure, she is leading him by a goodly amount. But on the other hand, he's on her heels and she doesn't like it one bit. For this reason, one must expect there will be some animosity developing, as evidenced from some of the tactics being used.

Recently, I posted this piece for which I drew some pretty sharp rebukes. It deals with the Obama "madrassa story" and despite the time that has passed, we still cannot rule out Hillary's camp as a source. A carefully placed leak into the hands of FOX News got that ball rolling. And even though it was later debunked, the seed of doubt was planted.

Then, there was this leak to the NYT about some potential influence-peddling by Obama, whereby, Hillary's camp could be the source. But, there is a lack of hard evidence to support this. And again, the seed of doubt has been sewn.

Along with this ridiculous essay printed by the LAT, there has been an unauthorized campaign ad released on the internet. The media seem to be scurrying to find the source of this one, but so far has been unable to do so. I heard one person theorize that it was Hillary herself. Why? So she could blame Obama. Now, I am not that cynical, nor am I inclined to believe Hillary would do a hit on herself just so she could paint Obama as a dirty campaigner. But, there is another possibility people are overlooking in these early hit jobs.

Who would benefit greatly if there was a bloody primary fight that threatened the unity of the party? If the party was greatly divided along the racial lines that this campaign is so far moving toward, who would be there to pick up the pieces to save the party from themselves? The answer should not be so hard to figure out. In the dog eat dog world of politics, one cannot rule out these things as being the work of those that still hope Al Gore will step up to the plate, if there is much dissension within the ranks of the Democrats.

Far-fetched? Maybe, but maybe not. Hillary and Obama are busy raising money while battle lines are being drawn, in both subtle and not so subtle ways. As the campaign wears on, the divide will grow. And with hit jobs like the LAT piece calling Obama "The Magic Negro", it clearly demonstrates that unity along racial lines is very much at stake.

Monday, March 19, 2007

NYT: Russia Gives Ultimatum To Iran

Here is the article, if you can believe the NYT, that is.

Russia has informed Iran that it will withhold nuclear fuel for Iran’s nearly completed Bushehr power plant unless Iran suspends its uranium enrichment as demanded by the United Nations Security Council, European, American and Iranian officials said.

The ultimatum was delivered in Moscow last week by Igor Ivanov, Russia’s Security Council Secretary, to Ali Hosseini Tash, Iran’s deputy chief nuclear negotiator, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because a confidential diplomatic exchange between two governments was involved.

As of this writing, this is the only article I have found on this particular development. But if it's accurate, others will most certainly follow suit and validate this information. If it's true, this is a significant development in the process. Because without help from those that can best help, there is little leverage that can be used against the Iranians.

If this pans out as a verifiable story, it could signal a shift in U.S./Russia relations, depending on what has been offered them. As is always the case with these hot stories being broken by publications that are losing more and more sales as time passes on, one must be suspicious. There is great cause for both skepticism and cynicism, as the two often go hand-in-hand in these kinds of situations.

But more than anything, I hope it's true and applaud the Russians, if it is.

Addendum: Maybe this will go to show, this was the right choice after all.

Down To The Sweet Sixteen

Well.....As per usual my brackets are thoroughly decimated. Florida had a tough time with Purdue yesterday and Ohio State had a tough time with Xavier on Saturday, but they are both still in. The two cinderella sleepers this year appear to be Southern Illinois and Butler, both of which are good defensive teams.

Since there is no real hard news to comment on that hasn't already been commented on and I basically did nothing but watch basketball and run errands all weekend, I'll just ask how your teams did?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The PYY Depraved Bastard Of The Week

When I did the last post, I didn't think it would be so soon before a new contender would surface, but there has. Meet Kevin Chandler:

The man suspected of stabbing his baby son in Speedway was arrested Friday in Lawrence.

Stabbing your own baby is certainly a bad thing. But sadly, this is not the first time, nor will it be the last. If this was all there was to this, this wouldn't be so bad. But, as you might guess there's more to this story.

Police said Angela Limbrock, 31, the child's mother, and Chandler were leaving the apartments in a Chevrolet Malibu to visit a friend when Limbrock left Devin with Chandler while she went to get a car seat.

Police say Chandler stabbed the boy, tossed him out of the vehicle and drove away.

He stabbed the kid and then tossed him out the window. I have to tell you, it doesn't get much more depraved than this. Want to see the distinguished honoree? Then, look here.

He's not going to have a good time in the joint. Regular thugs don't like this kind of thing and he'll need a new set of eyes for the back of his head.

Howard Dean At It Again

Howard Dean has a knack for doing things that defies reasoning and understanding, and it usually involves his mouth. Certainly, Howard has been lowering the bar in the accepted conduct department before, but this time it makes a person wonder how much more will he do before the next year has passed.

The Politico has reported that Dean has been going behind the back of the duly elected and sworn-in President (and his administration), in an attempt to undermine.

Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean has been meeting with world leaders to repair "the extraordinary damage" that the Bush administration has done to America's image and to prepare the way for a new Democratic president.

"I am trying to build relationships with other governments in preparation for a Democratic takeover," Dean told me. "I want to make clear that there is an opposition in America and that we are ready to take power and that when we do, we are going to have much better relationships with them."

With every new and bold move (which is certain to be lauded by the Left) a new precedent will be set. By that I mean, this:

The opposition will one day, not be the opposition. When that happens, the dirty tricks and the obstructionist techniques will certainly be dished back out. But this time, it will be directed toward those that have escalated it. To put it another way, the pendulum swings back hard. This is only going to get worse, no matter who wins the election in 08.

If the Dems win it, the far-right opposition will be the ones sniping and generally trying to work day and night to embarrass the duly elected and sworn-in President. If the GOP wins, the Left will really get angry, and will continue to intensify its efforts at undermining the policies of the government, through any means possible.

I said this to my GOP friends at the heights of the impeachment stunt, and I am saying it to the Dems today:

Be careful what you wish for here and be careful how you go about getting it. As you have done, so will it be done to you in return.

This is how the political world is devolving further and further into the pits. This is what the future holds, unless the people demand better.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Banning Water Good For Environment?

Not much time for new posting today and tomorrow, but I wanted to show you to this Penn and Teller stunt that shows just how gullible people really are. Al Gore and the environmentalist cults have scared people into doing almost anything, including signing petitions to ban water. Give this a look.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

NCAA Tourney Open Thread

The teams are set and the 2007 NCAA Tournament begins Thursday. Bracket pools are springing up everywhere. The sounds of spring will soon be filled with Billy Packer's voice on TV, in commercials, and in interviews. It's near to showtime.

One of the interesting things to note? Like the BCS football title game, Ohio State and Florida have a chance to be in the final for the basketball title. If it does happen, I would say it would be a first. I know it hasn't happened in my lifetime.

Interestingly enough, I just happen to think that they are the two best teams right now. But, as always is the case, anything goes in a one and out tourney. Dreams are sometimes dashed in a split second, or over an entire game.

I remember one particular game in the 1984 tourney when a little known guy from Indiana University, Dan Dakich, held Michael Jordan to 13 points and eliminated the highly favored Tar Heels. No matter what Dan does the rest of his life, that's something he will be able to tell his grandkids about and will not change, over the passage of time. There's always a story like this, every year, which is part of the overall romance of this thing.

Anyway, I have OSU and FL in the final. Am I wrong? If so, who do you pick?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Air America Offers To Host GOP Debate

Last Friday evening, I posted a piece about the Nevada Democratic Party's decision to scrap an upcoming debate because the major candidates were not going to participate. The reason? It was to be hosted by FOX News (FNC).

Today, we are being told that Air America (AA) is offering to host a debate between the GOP candidates.

Tweaking the Fox News Channel, the president of liberal Air America Radio this morning sent a letter to the chairmen of four state Republican parties, offering to host and broadcast the state parties' upcoming presidential debates.

Agreeing to the debate “would allow Republicans to differentiate themselves from Democrats,” Air America President Mark Green wrote to the Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, and South Carolina Republican chairmen in a deadpan communication provided this morning to The Politico.

In the interest of fairness (something I often get accused of not being), it my opinion they should do it. However, it is very important to note that I do NOT say this just to be perceived as fair. I say it because it is my sincere belief they should.

Many on the Right will say that it could be a gimmick. Or it might be a trap, which is being laid for the specific purpose of blind-siding the candidates. And who knows? They could be right.

I doubt I should need to point out, there is marked difference between AA and FNC. It is one that goes way beyond the ideology and biases. In my opinion, FNC is far more credible than AA. For that matter and with a few exceptions, the vast majority of the MSM news outlets are more far more credible than AA, as well.

But be that as it may, here's why I think they should do it:

1. It - like Mr. Green says - would differentiate them from the Democrats.

2. If it is a trap, it would give people a chance to see once and for all that AA is not a credible source of news and information.

3. It will demonstrate clearly that those in the GOP have enough security in their own belief systems, they will not be afraid to confront the often times outlandish accusations, brought forth by the left-wing fringe of the Democratic Party.

Make no mistake here, I do not hold out much hope this will happen. But if it does, the ball goes back to the Dems' court. It will then, be up to them to face the music. It will, then, be up to them to demonstrate their courage and their security, in their own belief systems. If the GOP refuses and they continue to criticize the Dems for backing out of the FNC-hosted debate, then the hypocritical label of the day belongs to them.

In Their Own Words

Here is a video for your information.

Now you can see and hear their voices, not just read the text and use it for spin purposes. Please note that a few of these snippets were before Bush supposedly trumped up the intelligence reports. That is why I can place the label of hypocrite on anyone of these people that currently try to rewrite the history of this war.

Whether one agrees with this war or not, this should serve as a reminder that this was/is not a GOP war.

This is primarily why I am so mad at the Democrats right now. Dems like David Obey, who was the victim of some shenanigans by leftist organizations recently, didn't vote for the war. Therefore, I feel they have a right to bitch about why we went to war. But not these Dems in the video. Although, they have a right to complain about the way the war has been handled, they are part of the reason we are there now. And to keep up this BS game of "we were misled by the Bush administration", is not flying here at PYY.

There is nothing the left can do to refute this, there is no amount of spin that intelligent people will accept as an excuse. This is in their own words.

Were they lying then? Or are they lying now? Whichever you pick, it still means they have lied. So, before the Dems accuse this President of one more lie, take a good look at these people. This is the power base of the Democratic Party that now demonizes people that fail to fall lock-step with their views. Take a real close look ( that is, if you have the courage to do so).

Hat Tips: Eclipse Ramblings and Pat Dollard

French Election Getting Tighter

From the FT comes this report:

Ségolène Royal’s faltering presidential campaign was dealt a further blow on Monday as François Hollande, the leader of her Socialist party and father of her children, admitted he was worried she would be knocked out in the first round of France’s election next month.

The comments underlined how worried Ms Royal’s campaign team is about the surprise surge in opinion polls by François Bayrou, candidate of the centrist UDF party, who has caught up with her in opinion polls and been dubbed the third man of the campaign.

Interesting turn of events we have witnessed here, of late. It looks to me that Bayrou is becoming the anti-Sarkozy candidate. There are many that do not like Sarko because of their fear he'll cozy up to the U.S. far more than Chirac has done. And frankly, many do not see Royal of having a chance against him. So, the logical thing to do is throw support toward Bayrou, who would stand a better chance beating Sarko.

Bayrou - the anti-Sarko, has a rough edge to it. But maybe it's catchier in French.

Sharpton Withholds Support For Now

Here is the story.

With the race for the Democratic presidential nomination already in high gear, the Reverend Al Sharpton jumped into the fray today with some tough criticism for Senator Barack Obama. The outspoken reverend offered the harsh comments to Obama just as he looked to build support for his candidacy in the black community.

Interestingly enough, there has been some slow but steady momentum being built by the Obama camp, in recent weeks. But some of this may be significant and much of this could be coming to a halt soon. Obama's support may not end up coming from those he expects it to come from. But one thing we must consider here is, Al lives in New York and New York should go Hillary anyway. So, this may not be as big of a loss as some may think, at least vote-wise.

But more than anything, I think the Obama people really had counted on Al for fund-raising purposes. And that has to hurt, at this stage of the process. Much of how this plays out will depend on what is being promised, and by whom. Al wants to drive the train, here. But the question will be, will Obama give in or will he stick by his guns. If he holds firm and Al supports Hillary over him, this may be a sign that the wedge is going deeper into the party.

Could be, could be not. Time will tell, soon enough.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Russia Delays Launch Of Iranian Reactor

From the IHT comes this article:

The launch of Iran's Russian-built nuclear power plant will be postponed because of Iranian payment delays, Russian officials said Monday in statements reflecting Moscow's growing irritation with its close partner and a possible warming to Western-proposed sanctions.

Russia also said the delay of the launch, which had been planned for September, means that the uranium fuel needed to power the Bushehr reactor would not be sent to Iran this month as earlier planned, an announcement certain to anger Tehran.

Sergei Novikov, spokesman for Russia's federal nuclear agency Rosatom, told The Associated Press the launch date would be postponed by at least two months because the Iranians had made no payments since Jan. 17.

"The funding is two months behind, and that means a corresponding delay in schedule," Novikov said. "The fact remains: there is no money, and it's impossible to keep construction works going without money."

There are some points to consider in this late development:

1. Iran is in money trouble. In an earlier post, I linked to an op-ed piece that stated one good reason why this may coming to light, now.

2. Russia suspending work due to non-payment, may indicate that Russia is in money trouble too.

3. Russia could be looking for a way out of this deal, due to real concerns about Iran's nuclear program. This gives them a way to save face, without angering Iran, too much.

4. You can bet that the Iranians aren't happy now. It takes much of their saber-rattling power away.

5. No matter how we look at this, for now, this is good news today. Tomorrow? Well, tomorrow is another day.

Are You A Political Radical?

You Are 36% Politically Radical

You've got a few unusual political ideas, but overall you're a pretty mainstream person. Chances are that you're turned off by both the radical right and looney left.

Are You a Political Radical?

I took this test that I found at AC's Fore Left and this is what I found out about myself. I do not put much credence in these things, but sometimes they are fun to do. Try it, if you get the chance, and so desire. Mostly it's just a fun way to kill some time.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Ted Koppel For President

The more I hear from Ted Koppel these days, the more impressed I am with his remarkable ability to analyze situations, in a thoughtful, intelligent, and realistic manner. Not that I didn't respect him until recently mind you, but in the days he has been without a hoard of liberally-biased news executives weighing him down, he has been free to offer up a more honest practical view of the world without the fear of losing ratings and free from pie in the sky naivety that seems to permeate the news industry, these days. Here are some of the things he had to say on this week's installment of Meet The Press, with Tim Russert.

Let's take a look at just some of which he had to offer:

MR. RUSSERT: Ted Koppel, the meeting in Iraq—the Iranians, Syrian, Iraqis, U.S—what should we think about it?

MR. TED KOPPEL: Had to happen. I, I, I made a little note here of something that Ambassador Khalilzad said to you a moment ago. He said the region will not be stable until Iraq is stabilized. It’s the one thing nobody talks about. Everyone is concerned about the United States being in the middle of a civil war inside Iraq, but they forget about the fact that, if U.S. troops were to pull out of Iraq, that civil war could become a regional war between the Sunnis and Shia. And the region, just in case anyone has forgotten, is the Persian Gulf, where we get most of our oil and, you and I have talked about his before, natural gas. So the idea of pulling out of there and letting the region—I mean, letting the national civil war expand into a regional civil war, something the United States cannot allow to happen.

Now, I can just hear the Left's chants of "No war for oil" and "don't trade blood for oil". Those are just a couple of the many catchy slogans developed by the political anti-war cults, to go along with other classics like "Bush lied, people died". But if we really let Mr. Koppel's answer sink in, we must look inwardly and realistically at what would happen if the oil supply were shut down, because of a regional war.

If you think we are paying too much for a gallon of gas now, ask yourself, how much would we be paying if the Persian Gulf were shut down for business? And not only us in the U.S., but what about Europe, China, India, and the rest of the industrialized world? It doesn't take an MIT educated economist to figure out that when demand exceeds supply, price goes up. Persian Gulf gets shut down, oil doesn't get out, price goes up. Not just for us, but everyone.

If there's no oil, there's no gas. If there's no gas, there will no way to ship things we make and get to areas where services are needed. The economy is a funny thing, you know? Things like this have a way of rippling out and affecting every other industry in the world. Jobs will then be in grave jeopardy, pretty soon we are talking not just recession here, but deep depression.

I wonder how many of those that wish America to fail so miserably in order for them to say, it's all Bush's fault - really understand these concepts. I wonder how many can grasp the thought of how many people would suffer if this were to happen, just so they could have something to villify and demonize one man they hate so much, and with every ounce of their existences.

Regardless of what Mr. Koppel thought of the reasoning of going to war, he demonstrates here that he understands all of these concepts I have just mentioned, and understands them with great clarity and deep understanding. He could have taken a potshot at the administration as it appears to be in chic, to do these days. But he didn't. He gave a solid answer that is the reality of the situation, whether any of us likes it or not.

I do not like the fact that this war has been mishandled, but that's not the issue right now. Now is not the time to troubleshoot that aspect of the war, there will be plenty of time for that down the road. What we must be doing is, trying to win some kind realistic victory here, tied to the success of the new Iraqi government. Or at very least, keep the enemies of peace and stability from winning. Winning means getting the Iraqis to do what we are doing, with less and less of our help.

MR. RUSSERT: Ted Koppel, you are tonight airing on the Discovery Channel a special called “Our Children’s Children’s War.” “The long war,” as you called—call it repeatedly, that this war on terror is much more than just Iraq, and it’s going to go on for a long time.

MR. TED KOPPEL: It could go on—I mean, General Abizaid, with whom I spoke, talks in terms of generations. And if you think about two things, that’s not so hard to imagine. Number one, the Cold War, after all, lasted 50 years. We didn’t know it when we began it. We didn’t know it—we didn’t know how long it was going to be when we were in the middle of it, but it lasted half a century.

If you look back at the elements of the war against terrorism, that war was going on and has been going on for the past 24 years. We just didn’t connect the dots. Twenty-four years ago, the, the precursors of Hezbollah blew up the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. That was 1983, 241 Americans killed. In the interim, between then and now, you had two attacks on the World Trade Center, you had the blowing up of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, you had the attempt to blow up the, the U.S.S. Cole, you had the bombing of the two U.S. embassies in East Africa. This war’s already been going on for 24 years. We were just a little bit slow to recognize it.

I would disagree with Mr. Koppel in one thing he states here. This war began earlier than he says. It did not begin with the Marine barracks bombing, it began when the Iranians stormed our embassy in 1979. That was the giant step into the jihad age. That was the first blow that registered, the barracks bombing was just an escalation of the first blow. (For more on this, read this long, but in-depth essay by Sal Rosken. Anti-war types, especially.)

With that said, look at what Mr Koppel has to say here. We didn't know how long the Cold War would last, we only knew that we had to fight it or risk losing the world to poverty and corruption. If China, Russia, and Europe would all look at this in the same light, this thing would not be as much of an issue, as it is. Instead, China, Russia, and Europe have this thing about rewarding the kinds of behaviors that lead us all to this point.

MR. RUSSERT: You also mention that the—besides providing military assistance, health care for cattle and goats.

MR. KOPPEL: Well, the idea is—and, and they talk about, you know, in the old days, in, in Vietnam, they used to refer to it as winning hearts and minds. These days they talk about conquering human terrain. And the way they do that—and again, the, the, the notion is to use as few troops as you possibly can. You have those troops on the ground, they’re digging wells for people, they’re inoculating sheep and goats, they are building health clinics, they’re helping to build schools. And in the—in the course of that, they’re gaining intelligence, they’re winning over allies, they believe, to the United States, and they’re denying terrorists the ability to gain a foothold.

Here, Ted is saying what he would not have the liberty to say, if he still had to bow to the wishes and will of ABC news. ABC, as well as the other major networks, have made it look like we have brought nothing but death and despair to the region. Mr. Russert has painted that dismal image in the past. And rather than asking some extra follow-up on Mr. Koppel's answer, he chose to swing back to another panel guest and change the subject just enough, to divert some attention away from what Ted said.

Let's look at something, here. How many times do we hear Iraqis complaining about electrical blackouts?

What we do not hear is the Iraqi being interviewed on the network newscast, usually lives in an area that used to enjoy the high life under Saddam. They had all the amenities, we take for granted, like electricity. But, many more people never had it or the other things. Some regions of Iraq never had power under Saddam. Now they have it. But until the infrastructure can be completed and in some cases rebuilt, there has to be rolling blackouts from time to time to accommodate demand.

No, you hear about the blackouts, but you do not hear why. You do not hear the rest of the story, just the version of a former Baathist that feels the need to whine because he has to sacrifice a little - so that his other countrymen can have something, as well. And it's all because there is an element within this nation that wants the U.S. to fail, so they can blame George Bush. They hate him so much that they are willing to send everything down the tubes, to discredit him anyway they can.

Like I have said in many posts before, I do not like everything that the man does and he wasn't my first choice in 2000. But I do not hate the man so much that I would be willing to sacrifice the peace and stability of the world, just to prove he was wrong about something. I do not think that Mr.Koppel would either - which is evident by his statements made earlier today. He had every opportunity to do a hit, but didn't.

Mr. Koppel for President? I wouldn't mind listening to what he had to say, and if it was much like what I heard from him in this forum, I would give him a serious and enthusiastic look. He is one deeply intelligent and analytical thinker. But rest assured that Mr. Koppel falls into one very important category that is worthy to consider - he is too smart to want the job.