Sunday, April 30, 2006

English Premier League Champs

Chelsea wins the FA Premier League for the second year in a row. Five months into the 9 month long season, there was little doubt over who would win the League. The biggest question has been who would finish second place -- Manchester United or Liverpool.

They are currently tied, ManU has two games league games remaining and Liverpool has one. The odds are with ManU.

Why is it important to finish second? Automatic UEFA Champions League qualification without having to play qualification matches in order to get into the 32 team field. The UEFA Champions League is open to each national association's domestic champions, as well as clubs who finish just behind them in their respective domestic championship. The number of clubs that can be entered by an association and their entry point in the competition depends on the association's position in UEFA's coefficient ranking list. The top two English Premier League teams are automatically qualified; the 3rd and 4th place teams must play in the qualification rounds.

Liverpool, my fair team, gave it a good shot this year but they were unable to defend their 2005 Champions League title (a thrilling, come-from-behind win over AC Milan in Istanbul).

Liverpool has a solid chance to win the covenanted FA Cup against West Ham United on 13 May.

The pride of Merseyside, we'll fight for no surrender.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Rush Limbaugh

I am a long-time Ditto-head. I like Rush. I listen to some portion of his weekday radio program almost every day. Why do I like him? He thoroughly studies the issues and makes his comments from a very educated perspective. And Rush is right. (I cannot recall a time where this was not the case.)

The 3 year long investigation over his doctor shopping (which he pleaded not guilty to) and misuse of prescription pain killers (oxyContin) was more of a political fishing expedition than an investigation over an individual's bad decision--his crime.

They say that those in the public eye are held to a higher standard. However, the only reason this is the case is because those in the media believe it so.

He has reached an agreement with the Palm Beach County State Attorney' s Office to end the investigation. He issued a formal statement. He never denied his addiction problem. He did is penitence. He went through re-hab and continues with his treatment.

The biggest concern this case raises is over an individual's rights to medical record privacy. Florida statutes set out very clearly how medical records should be obtained for court proceedings. In this case, they did an end-around and obtained search warrants and sent police officers into four doctors' offices and seized all the files and brought them to their offices. The prosecutors argued privacy rights should not be used to hide criminal wrongdoing.

This was clearly a political witch hunt by people who do not like Rush and his widely-subscribed conservative politics.

NFL Draft

Round 1 of this year's NFL draft is over.

My first interest is which Ohio State players go where.

- A.J. Hawk (OLB) - 5th overall - Green Bay
- Donte Whitner (S) - 8th overall - Buffalo (they could have gotten him in the 2nd or 3rd round)
- Bobby Carpenter (OLB) - 18th overall - Dallas
- Santonio Holmes (WR) - 26th overall - Pittsburgh
- Nick Mangold (C) - 29th overall - NY Jets

Then I focus on my favorite teams, in order:
- Cleveland Browns - DE Kamerion Wimbley
- Minnesota Vikings - OLB Chad Greenway
- Denver Broncos - QB Jay Cutler (a great pick!)

The Browns have the making, finally, of a playoff-caliber team in 2006.

On a side note, explain this one: North Carolina State who had a 6-5 regular season record in 2005 (plus a win in the Meineke Car Care Bowl) had 3 defensive players taken in the first round -- Mario Williams (#1 to Houston), Manny Lawson (#22 to San Fran), and John McCargo (#26 to Buffalo).

Friday, April 28, 2006

Minimum Wage Malarky

Do we need to change the U.S. minimum wage? According to Oprah, yes, because we are all victims. According to the the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, no, because there are very few victims.

The BLS's Current Population Survey estimates for 2004,
- Some 73.9 million American workers were paid at hourly rates, representing 59.8% of all wage and salary workers. Of those paid by the hour, 520,000 were reported as earning exactly $5.15, the prevailing federal minimum wage, and another 1.5 million were reported earning wages below the minimum. Together, these 2.0 million workers with wages at or below the minimum made up 2.7% of all hourly-paid workers.

- Workers earning the minimum wage or less tend to be young, single workers between the ages of 16 and 25. Only about 2% of workers over 25 years of age earn minimum wages.

- 63% of minimum wage workers receive raises within one year of employment, and only 15% still earn the minimum wage after three years.

- Only 5.3% of minimum wage earners are from households below the official poverty line; 40% of minimum wage earners live in households with incomes $60,000 and higher; and, over 82% of minimum wage earners do not have dependents.

- The proportion of hourly-paid workers earning the prevailing Federal minimum wage or less has trended downward since 1979.

Minimum wages have insidious effects. The pursuit of economic equality through the political marketplace eventually results in almost everyone, except political elites, having less than they otherwise would. In contrast, individual pursuit of economic success in free markets under the rule of law never leads to equality of results for everyone, but it always results in almost everyone having more than they otherwise would have had.

In the U.S., we reward and pay according to value. Those jobs that require less skill, knowledge or education are paid less. As we increase our value -- our worth to a potential employer or to our customers -- we increase our earning capacity.

Dodge Caliber Offends Gays

Apparently, Dodge has offended the gays. I have seen the ad but it was not until I read the complaints did I put two and two together. If the shoe fits...

And is it possible to get offended with this one?

U.S. Economy Still Expanding

The U.S. economy is cruising. During the first quarter of 2006, the economy expanded faster than any time in the past 2 1/2 years. Gross domestic product advanced at a 4.8 percent pace. That growth has been diversified, not just relying on consumer and housing elements. Inflation looks tame, though the latest figures do not include the recent spike in oil-prices.

However, most of the MSP that report on this, start out with negatives -- 'despite high gas prices, rising mortgage rates, costly war in Iraq and Afghanistan...' They are never happy when the news might benefit the conservative, capitalistic, Republican or Bush agendas.

National Anthem in Spanish

Many are infuriated by the thought of "The Star-Spangled Banner" being sung in a language other than English. The initial version of "Nuestro Himno," or "Our Anthem," comes out today and uses lyrics based closely on the English-language original.

President Bush stated "one of the things that's very important is, when we debate this issue, that we not lose our national soul, one of the great things about America is that we've been able to take people from all walks of life bound as one nation under God. And that's the challenge ahead of us."

There are many things in a culture that are sacred to its citizens. When one tramples these historical and cultural icons, offense is given.

Free speech is a right granted to all Americans. However, if these illegals and their sympathizers want to offend the bulk of Americans by singing our national anthem in another language, then they have succeeded.

Is Mitt Romney Electable?

Robert Novac has done some investigating and questioning about whether current Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney will get the support from the religious right if he wins the Republican nomination for President.
The U.S. Constitution prohibits a religious test for public office, but that is precisely what is being posed now. Prominent, respectable Evangelical Christians have told me, not for quotation, that millions of their co-religionists cannot and will not vote for Romney for president solely because he is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If Romney is nominated and their abstention results in the election of Hillary Rodham Clinton, that's just too bad. The Evangelicals are adamant, saying there is no way Romney can win them over.

Many feel that a "President" Romney would "take orders" from the Church's prophet; analogous to the premise in 1959-60 that President Kennedy would take his directions from the Pope. There is probably a more hidden reason Evangelical Christians oppose him.

For nearly two centuries, there has been a debate in the Christian world (Roman Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopalian and Evangelical) as to whether Mormons are Christians. There are probably many reasons for this but the two biggest ones appear to be doctrinal:

- The definition of the Godhead
- Christ's divine role and how it relates to salvation

The LDS position on these two topics is very clear. From the Articles of Faith:
1 - We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
3 - We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.

The people who oppose Mitt Romney becasue he is a Mormon should grow up. Discriminate and judge him on his policies, skills and successes, not on his religion.

Mormons are well-represented in Congress. The "Christian world" had better get use to it because the Church is growing and its members have become and will continue to be very involved and prolific.

Senate Judicial Nominations

After months and in some cases years of laying off the judiciary issue of confirmation of Presidential nominated judges, the Senate is expected bring up the judicial nominations of D.C. Circuit Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and 4th Circuit nominee Terrence Boyle. They still have to address Appeals Court nominees William James Haynes, II
and William Gerry Myers, III.

Kavanaugh was nominated in July 2003 (sent to the Senate 14 February 2005). He 'must' be a good one because the Left does not like him.

Boyle names was sent to the Senate on 7 January 2003. Despite his record, he has been accused of being a racist, which is almost always a Cynthia McKinney transparent tactic.

Senators have a constitutional responsibility to give our advice and consent on each the President's judicial nominees. The principles moving forward are simple:
- Evaluate the merits of a nominee extensively
- Debate the merits of a nominee carefully
- Vote on that nominee ... justly.

It is forecasted that by the end of his Presidency, the President will have appointed 1 out of every 3 of the 871 Federal judges in this nation. All of them mainstream conservatives and thoughtful minds who are committed to fairly interpreting the law, not acting as unelected policymakers.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

White Ghetto - Suburban Compliance

Star Parker, the former welfare queen, president & founder of the Coalition on Urban Renewal and Education, and columnist, pounds on the premise that moral decay permeates all classes, not just the urban or lower class. In her recent book White Ghetto: How Middle Class America Reflects Inner City Decay, she shows that black America's biggest crisis is immorality, not racism. This same problem permeates middle and upper class America.
Black social problems are symptomatic of a national problem. Irresponsible sexual behavior has no racial boundaries... Middle America is skilled at condemning faceless gang members whose arbitrary bullets cut short random lives. But we are blind to our own corruption. We criticize the welfare mother for not paying her own way while racking up thousands in debt on our Visa. Rather than addressing teenage sex through abstinence programs, we allow the public education system to cart our children off to abortion mills and alternative lifestyle seminars. We demand the government be held responsible for the effects of natural disasters instead of turning to God and ourselves. Our button-down shirts, eco-friendly cars, and cafe lattes disguise morals no better than those of the drug dealers in the Bronx.

It is too bad more black leaders in the country will not embrace her "black conservative" approach. Conservatism knows no race. The principles are proven. Liberalism and its "well-meaning" programs have failed and will fail every time.

"Freedom and morality built this country; only freedom and morality will sustain it." Parker's right.

Ground Zero Construction Begins

Work to redevelop the site of New York's World Trade Center is under way. The deal was agreed to by the site landlord Larry Silverstein and by the NYC's Port Authority, which owns the site.

This agreement ended years of often painful talks over the proposed redevelopment between Silverstein, port and city officials and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.

The goal is to finish the buildings by 2012. Vegas will have fun with this.

Free Wi-Fi is a Right?

The City of San Francisco selected a joint bid by EarthLink and Google to provide San Francisco with a wireless network for Internet access. This wireless service is targeted to be available throughout the city sometime in 2007. The lower speed 300 Kbps Wi-Fi service will be free; the high speed 1 Mbps service will be $20/month.

The RFP issued to would-be service suppliers states San Francisco TechConnect desires to provide free wi-fi Internet to everyone, everywhere in the City, at no cost.

San Francisco Mayor Newsom pledged every San Franciscan should have access to free wireless Internet service. In his State of the City address in Oct 2004, he stated "we will not stop until every San Franciscan has access to free wireless Internet service."

Politician have been making and will continue to make promises to their constituents. Very often, they blure their wishes with what they claim are rights.

We are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

I am not sure free wi-fi is an unalienable right. Internet access has become more like a utility--gas, electricity, water, trash collection--which we pay for.

Dems and High Gas Prices

The libs must really be hating these high gas prices. Not for the reasons you and I hate them--inflation. They are mad that the extra money we are paying for gas is not going to their tax and spend agenda. Dang Exxon capitalists.

The Dems' energy policy has been to limit in-coutry drilling, restrict new refineries, shut down nuclear power, and discourage alternative sources. They want to place high taxes on gasoline forcing us to use public transit, car pool, buy few cars, buy smaller cars, and of course, stop global warming.

When the free market does the exact thing liberals have been itching to do through taxation, they pretend to be appalled by high gas prices, hoping the public will forget that high gas prices are part of their agenda.

Their real goals are to use that tax money for their greater government agenda and to introduce us into a world where all of our transportation needs will be taken care of by the omnipotent government.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

History of Egyptian Terrorist Attacks

Moslem militants have been targeting Egypt's tourist industry for years. A history since 1992 up through 24 April three bomb blasts through the Red Sea resort town of Dahab points out how ruthless these attackers are. Good police work will most likely nab some of these individuals.

As expected, world leaders have condemed the bombings, even Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas who branded the attacks as criminal and cowardly, describing the perpetrators as "enemies of humanity". Now I can sleep at night.

Tony Snow as White House Press Secretary

President Bush continues his staff shake-up by appointing Tony Snow as his Press Secretary.

I have listened to The Tony Snow Show on the radio on and off for the past couple of years. Although he is not my favorite conservative talk show host, he does get it right most of the time. He will be a positive, provided he is actively involved in the inner circle of White House policy makers.

It is my hope that Tony's experience and outspoken methodology will bring new life into the President's remaining 1000 days -- addressing point 5 of the John Bolten/White House "five point recovery plan" -- Courting The Press.

President George W. Bush Security Quotes

"Our Nation's cause has always been larger than our Nation's defense. We fight, as we always fight, for a just peace—a peace that favors liberty. We will defend the peace against the threats from terrorists and tyrants. We will preserve the peace by building good relations among the great powers. And we will extend the peace by encouraging free and open societies on every continent." West Point, New York; June 1, 2002.

"Some worry that it is somehow undiplomatic or impolite to speak the language of right and wrong. I disagree. Different circumstances require different methods, but not different moralities." West Point, New York; June 1, 2002

Just three days removed from these events, Americans do not yet have the distance of history. But our responsibility to history is already clear: to answer these attacks and rid the world of evil.War has been waged against us by stealth and deceit and murder. This nation is peaceful, but fierce when stirred to anger. The conflict was begun on the timing and terms of others. It will end in a way, and at an hour, of our choosing.” Washington, D.C. (The National Cathedral); September 14, 2001

"We build a world of justice, or we will live in a world of coercion. The magnitude of our shared responsibilities makes our disagreements look so small." Berlin, Germany; May 23, 2002

“The gravest danger to freedom lies at the crossroads of radicalism and technology. When the spread of chemical and biological and nuclear weapons, along with ballistic missile technology—when that occurs, even weak states and small groups could attain a catastrophic power to strike great nations. Our enemies have declared this very intention, and have been caught seeking these terrible weapons. They want the capability to blackmail us, or to harm us, or to harm our friends—and we will oppose them with all our power.” West Point, New York; June 1, 2002

"When nations close their markets and opportunity is hoarded by a privileged few, no amount-no amount-of development aid is ever enough. When nations respect their people, open markets, invest in better health and education, every dollar of aid, every dollar of trade revenue and domestic capital is used more effectively." Monterrey, Mexico; March 22, 2002

"In World War II we fought to make the world safer, then worked to rebuild it. As we wage war today to keep the world safe from terror, we must also work to make the world a better place for all its citizens." Washington, D.C. (Inter-American Development Bank); March 14, 2002

“We have our best chance since the rise of the nation-state in the 17th century to build a world where the great powers compete in peace instead of prepare for war.” West Point, New York; June 1, 2002

"Terrorists attacked a symbol of American prosperity. They did not touch its source. America is successful because of the hard work, creativity, and enterprise of our people." Washington, D.C. (Joint Session of Congress); September 20, 2001

U.S. Net Migration - 2000 to 2004

A U.S. Census Bureau report describes recent patterns of population redistribution reflected in the domestic net migration component of population estimates data. The migration report focuses on net migration for a number of different kinds of geographic areas, including regions, divisions, states, metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas, and counties. The biggest growth is in the South Atlantic and the Mountain West, moving away from the Northeast and Midwest.

National Security Strategy

Although it has been publically available since September 2002, a review of the official National Security Strategy is essential to better understand the tactics that are and should be used to defend our nation.

The U.S. national security strategy is based on a distinctly American internationalism that reflects the union of our values and our national interests. The aim of this strategy is to help make the world not just safer but better. Our goals on the path to progress are clear: political and economic freedom, peaceful relations with other states, and respect for human dignity. To achieve these goals, the United States will:

- Champion aspirations for human dignity;
- Strengthen alliances to defeat global terrorism and work to prevent attacks against us and our friends;
- Work with others to defuse regional conflicts;
- Prevent our enemies from threatening us, our allies, and our friends, with weapons of mass destruction;
- Ignite a new era of global economic growth through free markets and free trade;
- Expand the circle of development by opening societies and building the infrastructure of democracy;
- Develop agendas for cooperative action with other main centers of global power;
- Transform America’s national security institutions to meet the challenges and opportunities of the twenty-first century.

Newt's 5 Challenges for America

I have liked Newt Gingrich ever since I became familiar with him as the House Speaker in 1994 and his Contract With America.

He recently created a Winning the Future forum (and book). In it, he presents five challenges that America must meet:

1 - Confronting a world in which America's enemies, including the irreconcilable wing of Islam and rogue dictatorships, could acquire and use nuclear or biological weapons.

2 - Defending God in the public square.

3 - Protecting America's unique civilization.

4 - Competing in the global economy in an era of the economic rise of China and India, which will require transformations in litigation, education, taxation, regulation, and environmental, energy and health policies for America to continue to be the most successful economy in the world.

5 - Promoting active, healthy aging so more people can live longer, which will require dramatic transformation in pensions, Social Security and health care.

He's right on with these.

As we get closer to the 2008 Republican Presidential nomination process, Newt is positioning himself as a viable contender. I think he'd be a great President. He has all of the qualifications, skills, know-how and platform.

He might be able to get the nomination but he'd probably not win the general election--just the opposite of McCain who probably would never get the nomination but would win the general election.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Republican Study Committee

I only recently learned about the Republican Study Committee, a caucus of House conservatives chaired by Indiana Rep. Mike Pense.

The Republican Study Committee (RSC) was founded in 1973 by Rep. Phil Crane (R-IL). It is a group of over House Republicans organized for the purpose of advancing a conservative social and economic agenda in the House of Representatives. The Republican Study Committee is dedicated to:

- a limited and Constitutional role for the federal government
- a strong national defense
- the protection of individual and property rights
- the preservation of traditional family values

The group has played a major role in key policy areas including budget, appropriations, taxes, education, Social Security reform, defense, deregulation, and general government reform. The Republican Study Committee is an independent research arm for Republicans.

Understanding its roots is best understood by understanding Mike Pense, its current chair, who refers to himself as a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order."

"Crusade Against Islam"

Osama bin Laden issued his re-occurring threats in an audiotape broadcast through his Arab television sympathizers. He accuses the West of supporting a war on Islam and urges his followers to go to Sudan to fight a proposed UN peacekeeping force.
He blames Western civilians for causing death and destruction in the Muslim world because they had re-elected their leaders.

He says the West campaigns against Islam, occupies Islamic nations, and plunders its resources.

He states the West's opposition to the Hamas victory in Palestine proves that this is a crusade against Islam.

He goes on to say that the Islamic world, comprising 57 countries and 20 percent of the earth's people, has no seat on the UN Security Council.

Although he claims to understand cause and effect, he has no global perspective. Each of these points is built on false premises and are easy to refute. Terrorists are never welcome at the diplomat's table.

Bush: 1000 Days to Go

In late March, Josh Bolten became the new White House Chief of Staff, replacing Andy Card (who served in this role for the last 5 years). Bolten had been the Director of the Office of Management and Budget for the past 3 years.

President Bush has ~1000 days remaining in his second term. Despite the pundits, these 1000 days are symbolic. These are how many days JFK served. He seems to have accomplished quite a bit during this timeframe.

One of the first things Josh Bolten did was to announce a five-point White House "recovery plan" that it hopes to fulfill over the next 1000 days:

1 Deploy guns and badges (border security)
2 Make Wall Street happy
3 Brag more
4 Recplaim security credibility
5 Court the press

These are worthy goals. The first four are achievable; the last one is questionable. Only time will defeat the MSM through business terms -- no readers, no watchers and no listeners.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Top 10 Most Ridiculous Quotes by Hillary Clinton

Top 10 Most Ridiculous Quotes by Hillary Clinton, by Thomas D. Kuiper...the anointed smartest woman in America by the MSM...

10. "It's been said, and I think it's accurate, that my husband was obsessed by terrorism in general and al-Qaida in particular."

9. "I have to admit that a good deal of what my husband and I have learned [about Islam] has come from our daughter."

8. "Many of you are well enough off that [President Bush's] tax cuts may have helped you. We're saying that for America to get back on track, we're probably going to cut that short and not give it to you. We're going to have to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."

7. "Why do I have to keep proving to people that I am not a liar?"

6. "A right-wing network was after his presidency...including perverting the Constitution."

5. "Son of a bitch."

4. "What are you doing inviting these people into my home? These people are our enemies! They are trying to destroy us!"

3. "I mean, you've got a conservative and right-wing press presence with really nothing on the other end of the political spectrum."

2. "Come on Bill, put your dick up. You can't **** her here."

1. "You sold out, you mother******! You sold out."

Illegal Immigration & The Protests

A great essay on Illegal Immigration by R. Cort Kirkwood in The New American.
Americans need to consider that illegal Mexicans seem politically powerful only because they have correctly calculated the moral impotence and political cowardice of American politicians. They demonstrate power, and the politicians wheedle and pander. "We do not want to create a fugitive class in America," intoned liberal Republican Senator Arlen Specter of the accommodationist legislation before the Senate. "We do not want to create an underclass in America."

Actually, Specter and others who echo his sentiments created that "fugitive underclass" by not securing the borders and inviting 12 million illegal aliens to partake of the American pie. Yet a nation with a sense of itself, its culture and history, led by men who loved their country more than votes and bribes, would know what to do with illegal aliens: deport them. But the charge of racism and the overblown fear of economic collapse petrify American politicians. They wring their hands wondering what to do and finally fight over who, as Schumer said, can best demonstrate their "friendship." The Mexicans know this and act accordingly.

Three other good articles on illegal immigration are:
- Shamnesty: Hijacking Reform by William F. Jasper
- Myth vs. Fact by Thomas R. Eddlem
- United States of North America by Steven Yates

Italy's New Prime Minister

Centre-left leader Romano Prodi claimed victory in Italy's general election and was declared the winner of both houses of parliament by an extremely narrow margin.
As reported by the BBC, Prime Minister Berlusconi, heading a centre-right coalition, said there were a million spoilt and blank ballots in the election. He wants the records of all 60,000 polling stations checked due to "much fraud" in the poll. The United States said it would refrain from congratulating Mr Prodi until the end of the electoral process, which is likely to go to court.

Sounds quite similar to Bush-Gore 2002 in Florida.

Since WWII, Italy has had 38 Heads of Government in 60 years -- over 60 governments. I wish all the best to Mr. Prodi, but will it really make a difference? Talk about voter apathy, I sure feel for the Italian.

Congress and Data Breaches

Congress is getting very involved in data security, specifically the data privacy and the lack of security measures used by many, if not most, organizations. Stephen Barlas, from recently wrote an article on this topic:
Both the Financial Data Protection Act of 2005 (H.R. 3997) and the Data Accountability and Trust Act (H.R. 4127) passed through committee by whopping, bipartisan margins of 48-17 and 41-0, respectively.

House bill 4127, which derives from the House Energy & Commerce Committee version and was passed in March, requires notification only if the theft or loss of consumer data is judged to pose a "reasonable risk of identity theft to the individual to whom the personal information relates." The committee approved the "reasonable risk" standard after toughening language in a subcommittee bill that had a higher threshold of "significant risk."

House bill 3997, approved by the House Committee on Financial Services, requires data brokers to notify law enforcement agencies and businesses in the transaction chain if a data security breach "may result in harm or inconvenience to any consumer." If the potential breach may result in financial fraud against consumers causing harm or inconvenience, then the consumers must be notified through a uniform mailing.

The bills have significant differences, but both address problems highlighted early in 2005 when California's Security Breach Information Act (SB-1386) forced ChoicePoint and LexisNexis to disclose that identity thieves had pilfered data on more than 450,000 customers combined.

Already in play are two additional bills passed last year by Senate committees that are intended to shore up corporate data security: the Personal Data Privacy and Security Act (S. 1789), and the Identity Theft Protection Act (S. 1408).

All four congressional bills contain a notification requirement based on a risk analysis. The California bill -- and many of the 20-plus state bills which have followed in its wake -- define a security breach requiring the company holding the data to alert the state, businesses and consumers, as "unauthorized acquisition of or access to computerized or other data that compromises the security, confidentiality, or integrity of personal information maintained by the person or business."

I am one who is rarely in favor of legislation. It adds implementation and audit costs to organizations. Historically, Congress usually misses the mark -- too much or not enough legislation, poorly defined problem statement, implementation not properly funded, etc.

It is unfortunate that we need to legislate this. I wish organizations would just do the right thing and secure their information through prudent means.

CIA Officer Fired For Leak

CIA officer Mary McCarthy has been relieved of her duty after being caught leaking classified information to the media. And this is news worthy of a debate? Consider what one of the Democratic spokesmen (John "French-looking" Kerry) said on Sunday's This Week:
"Here's my fundamental view of this, that you have somebody being fired from the CIA for allegedly telling the truth, and you have no one fired from the white house for revealing a CIA agent in order to support a lie. That underscores what's really wrong in Washington, DC Here."

Only a malcontent liberal like Kerry would come to the defense of a CIA leaker. It turns out she gave him and the DNC some money. Valerie Plame was not covert. Despite this, Libby was indicted and basically forced to resign. Democrates only care about returning to power and they will stop at nothing to do so. This has nothing to do with leaking (the Dems are the kings of leaking) and all about how to throw more spears at Bush.

The CIA should crackdown on leaks. There is no place for a double standards on who gets fired and who does not. All government leakers should be fired. When one works for the CIA (or FBI or NSA or Secret Service, etc.) confidentiality is a given.

Internet Usage Policy & Consequences

An employee for the New York Department of Education was fired by Mayor Michael Bloomberg for using the Internet while at work. However an administrative law judge overruled this and suggested that only a reprimand is required.

Most organizations have an appropriate Internet usage policy. There are a few main reasons for this policy, namely, employee productivity (on-line shopping, equity trading, sport information), controlling access to inappropriate and offensive content (porn, hate, gambling), and tying up limited bandwidth (there's only so much to share).

Anytime there is a policy, there must be a consequence for failing to abide by this policy. Most organizations warn, re-warn and re-warn again the violators.

This story is mis-labeled: typically, playing solitaire is not Internet mis-usage, rather computer mis-use. However, computer and Internet abuse should be a dismissal offense if the policies were clearly explained and understood.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Earth Day 2006

Earth Day has been with us since 1970. My first experience with it was in St. Louis in 1989. My wife and I were young with three young children. It seemed like a fun outing for the family, going to Forest Park to see what this was all about.

About all I remember were the losers selling their goods and the trash that was left behind. We have pooh-poohed it ever since.

I really like Pacific Legal Foundation's 2006's "Top Five Earth Day Lies"
Truth: The ESA puts species in danger and undermines constitutional property rights.

Truth: Halting fishing would be an economically devastating solution in search of a non-existent problem. Salmon are not endangered.

Truth: State governments adequately protect clean water; federal intrusion is unconstitutional.

Truth: Past energy development in Alaska belies doomsday warnings.

Truth: Removing dead wood prevents out-of-control fires, and spares species from incineration.

I consider myself an environmentalist. I want to be a good steward of the land. I am all for composting, less-toxic gardening, recycling, and leave no trace camping (I am actually a LNT Trainer). We try to do all of these. But something happens with the MSM message and messengers. Rush is right, most of these people are environmentalist wackos.

Gasoline Prices Will Continue to Rise

The world, not just the U.S., is an oil-based economy. Unfortunately, it is going to take very high prices to result in any significant countermeasures. We have no one to blame but ourselves for our predicament. The cost of a barrel of crude was around $75 as of 22 April 2006 and prices at the pump hit records.

Four major components drive the retail price of gasoline: the cost of crude oil, refinery processing costs (including environmental regulations), distribution and marketing costs, and taxes. Consider the following:

- The United States consumes over 20 million barrels (840 million gallons) of petroleum products each day, almost half of it in the form of gasoline used in over 200 million motor vehicles with combined travel over 7 billion miles per day. The cost is increasing every second of the day.

- A 42 U.S. gallon barrel of crude oil yields slightly more than 44
gallons of petroleum products. This process gain in volume is due to
a reduction in density during the refining process. Of this 42 gallon, around 19.6 gallons go towards gasoline.

- We get around 58% of our crude oil from other countries including Canada (11.3%), Mexico (7.0%), Venezuela (6.9%) and Saudi Arabia (6.9%).

- According to the National Petrochemicals and Refiners Association, the last new refinery built in the United States was Marathan Ashland's Garyville, La., plant and it was completed in 1976. According to this report, between 1999 and 2002 refining capacity in the United States rose only 3 percent, squeezing up prices since demand grew much faster than that.

- The cost of refining has increased, per gallon of gas. This is due to extremist environmentalists and their political cronies.

- Shockingly, taxes per gallon of gas have stayed fairly stable.

We should address our problems prudently:

- Decrease our dependency on foreign sources. There is no way a small group of environmentalist should hold us hostage to certain species preservation. Most of their mandates are beyond reasonable.

- Add refining power at home -- build new refineries in regions that want them.

- Decrease the number and types of gasoline grades.

- Provide tax breaks to those inventing, building, distributing and consuming alternative energy sources.

The issue the Dems and media pundents are making out of the ~$400B bonus being paid to Lee Raymond, the retired CEO of Exxon-Mobil, is a diversionary tactic. Ture, it is not a wise marketing move by Exxon-Mobil, but it has nothing to do with the price we pay at the pump. No Congressman was asking for hearings in the 80s and 90s when the price of gas was quite affordable, not favorable for the oil companies.

I am not pro-oil or pro-environmentist. We need to do what's right for America. Let's figure out ways to reduce our costs, improve oefficienciesies (not through government mandates, and find alternative options attractive to both producers and consumers.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Dan Brown's Robert Langdon Novels

I just finished read the two novels written by Dan Brown featuring Robert Langdon, the Harvard Symbologist, Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code. (It took me a bit longer to bite the bullet and try to find out what the hype's all about.)

Three comments about the main themes:

1) The first theme in A&D is on the Illuminati -- the new world order where the few control the many through, so they say, secret Satanic agreements and conspiracies. This backdrop makes for a thrilling novel. The pace is frantic. There are only a few of those " oh, come on now" scenes. This should make a better motion picture than The Da Vinci Code.

From the beginning of Biblical times, man conspiring with Satan. It began with Cain and continues today. The Book of Mormon is full of Satanic partnerships; i.e., the Gaddianton Robbers, who sold purpose is to get gain. Getting gain for self reasons, regardless of the cost, exists today as it did in yesteryear.

2) The second theme in A&D deals with religion vs science. Back in the early 80s, while serving as a full-time missionary, I heard and then read a talk given by Elder Bruce R. McConkie called The Seven Deadly Heresies. In it, he states "that all truth is in agreement, that true religion and true science bear the same witness, and that in the true and full sense, true science is part of true religion."

However the world was created, the details of man's pre- and post-Earthly life, and the miracle of the atoning sacrifice of the Savior, can and will be explained. It will not be through some magical means. It will fit within the bounds of science.

3) In The Da Vinci Code, the underlying premise is that Christ was married to Mary and they had off-spring. There are no canonized scriptures that support this. However, these are very believable. According to that culture at that time, a Hebrew man would have married and had children. It makes no difference to me if he did or did not marry. I personally would be surprised if he did not.

These books are fun to read, especially A&D. He keeps his reader engulfed. However, TDVC is anti-Christian and pagan at its core. His skill as a novelist is less on his prose and more on his topics and how he chose to delineate them.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Dirk Kempthorne as Interior Secretary

In March, President Bush nominated Governor (ID Dirk Kempthorne) to be the 49th Secretary of the Interior, replacing Gale Norton. The confirmation hearings should take place over the next few weeks.

The Department of Interior is responsible for managing the U.S.' national parks and public lands, conserving natural resources, and pursuing environmentally responsible energy development on federal lands and waters.

Combining conservation and energy development into one job is a deathwish.
"While the Government has a responsibility to its citizens to be prepared, to take steps to protect them, it is also the Government's role to ensure that her citizens can continue with their role - which is to be productive, to generate jobs, to put meals on their tables, to guide our children to a bright future."

"This is the way federal land management should work. Cooperation, not confrontation, should be the hallmark of conservation efforts."

As a conservative Republican, by all accounts he is a worthy nominee. However, I am a bit worried when environmentist appear to be okay with him.

Couple of key points:

- He is from the West.
- He believes in letting states dictate what is best for them.

Certainly this position is a federal one. There are many items that are critical to the country as a whole. However, the locals usually know better than bureaucratates in Washington. An ear to the opinion of the applicable state or states should have some heavy weight.

It has always hit me a bit strage to see Easterners overly concerned about drilling in the Alaskan north, while the Alaskan's are in favor of it.

UPDATE 5/27/06 -- Dirk Kempthorne was confirmed by the Senate (voice vote) and sworn in as interior secretary Friday

Thursday, April 20, 2006

ChiCom President in America

Chinese President Hu Jintao has come to America including the White House. Aside from the expected protests, the focus is on business, trade and nuclear proliferation (Iran and North Korea).

Communist China is first and foremost a communist nation. Certainly they have many capitalistic actions--millionaires are being created. However they are an isolated and repressive society.

Hu and his party are not concerned with the well being and prosperity of their people. They are totalitarian and repressive.

China, despite its facade, is not America's friend. Causion and distrust are the rule.

NHL - Let the Playoffs Begin

Ice hockey rocks, especially NHL playoff hockey.

In my mind, there are three killer sporting activities I cherish: FIFA World Cup soccer, MLB World Series, and the NHL Stanley Cup. We get to see all three in 2006.

NHL playoffs are as intensive as it gets. It is all out smart, physical play. Do not let anyone know you have a shoulder injury because once it leaks out, your opponents will hammer and hammer on it until you cannot continue.

After a strike year most Canadians suffered and most Americans were oblivious to, National Hockey League fans returned in record numbers in the 2005-06 regular season. A total of 20,854,169 and per-game average of 16,955 attended the 1,230 games, 2.4% ahead of the 2003-04 figures (20,356,199 and 16,550) and 1.2% ahead of the previous record season of 2001-02 (20,614,613 and 16,760). In all, NHL teams played to 91.7% of capacity.

I was able to attend a Senators-Lightning game in Tampa, a Bruins-Capitals game in Washington, and a Rangers-Blue Jackets game in Columbus. This has been a great NHL season.

Go Red Wings!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Duke Lacrosse and Rape

I have been following the rape case against two Duke lacrosse players. I have not been that interested in it because of the obvious political overtones. (Of all the rapes that take place on any given date, the MSM is able to hone in on the ones they can exploit for viewership.)

Consider the "players":
- A Lacrosse team out of control with their excessive partying (a problem across the nation) -- drinking, strippers, etc.
- Strippers, one the alleged rape victim.
- A DA trying to get re-elected
- Social groups anxious to play the race card whenever they can.

At first, I thought the case was going to be dropped when DNA results did not implicate a single Duke Lacrosse player (whether they were at the party or not). Then the DA said there was enough evidence to proceed. So they arrested two men. The latest are the player alibis, the photos of the alleged rape and kidnapping victim at the party, and the accuser identifying the lacrosse players by scratches on their bodies.

A couple of things bother me, and I am not for or against either party, because I know there is so much more info that will come out. 1) These players, the team members and finally the accused are assumed guilty. 2) The accuser is immune -- name not released -- and can make accusations with impunity.

I'll let this play out. If it gets to court, it will be interesting to follow. One wonders what type of jury will be assembled and how fair of a trial this will be. I can only hope that it is fair. If they did it, they should get what's coming to them. If she's lying, then I hope she gets what's coming to her.

Ann Coulter proverb: "You can severely reduce your chances of having a false accusation of rape leveled against you if you don't hire strange women to come to your house and take their clothes off for money."

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Conservatism and Academic Freedom

At The Ohio State University Mansfield Campus, a librarian has been accused of sexual harassment at work. His crime: suggesting four conservative books as required reading for the school's freshman class, namely: "The Marketing of Evil" by David Kupelian, "The Professors" by David Horowitz, "Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis" by Bat Ye'or, and "It Takes a Family" by Sen. Rick Santorum.

Some key points made Rebecca Hagelin on her So Much for Academic Freedom article:
The argument is over The Marketing of Evil. A few claim they felt unsafe and threatened on the campus, because they say the book is "hate literature" and "homophobic tripe."

David Kupelian, gave a speech at the Heritage Foundation September 2005 on the insidious marketing techniques employed to rewrite history and truth.

The Marketing of Evil is a must-read for anyone interested in public policy, marketing, or the reason for the fall of American culture.

For a university that prides itself on academic freedom and presenting diverse points of view to students from all walks of life, it smacks of hypocrisy to ban materials that challenge the liberal orthodoxy. The Marketing of Evil is regarded as one of the hottest, best researched, and most eye-opening books of the year covering numerous issues. Unable to attack the substance of the book, the professors have resorted to the most effective (and most childish) form of acceptable intimidation -- name calling.

ADF Senior Legal Counsel David French commented: "Universities are one of the most hostile places for Christians and conservatives in America. It's shameful that OSU would investigate a Christian librarian for simply recommending books that are at odds with the prevailing politics of the university."
Come on OSU-Mansfield, you can't have it both ways.

Citizenship = Commitment

The massive pro-illegal immigrate marches should achieve the opposite of their desired results. Americans can see through their actions and deeds.

These were not the speeches of people who wanted to join American society but people who wanted their own turf on American soil -- in disregard and defiance of what American citizens want.

Both legal and illegal immigrants have come here primarily to work and make a better life for themselves and their families. But a country requires more than workers. It requires people who are citizens not only in name but in commitment.

Americanization did not happen automatically in earlier times and it will not happen automatically today. Immigrants in an earlier era had leaders and organizations actively working to transform them into Americans.

America is an immigrant nation. We are proud of our heritage. We set up a republic--government of, by and for the people. We established a nation of laws. Would-be immigrants and our elected officials need to take a closer look at what it means to be an American.

Good Ol' Conservatism

What does the old-time conservatism stand for? Limited government. Balanced budgets. A defense second to none. Secure borders. A trade policy that puts America and Americans first. And a foreign policy that keeps us out of wars that are not America's wars.

What do the liberals stand for? Bigger government. Higher taxes. Less defense. Open borders and amnesty, race card, terrorist rights, and a rerun of "The Clintons."

Americans subscribe to conservatism not liberalism. It is too bad the Republicans do not govern according to their true conservative principles.

Dems At It Again - Wrong Side of History

The Democrats cannot be trusted when it comes to the issues of national defense.

Post 9/11, they were adamant about getting ride of Saddam Hussein. They said he could not be allowed to continue his bloody reign. This position was reversed after we ran into the first insurgency issues. They went out of their way with the MSM to paint a hopeless picture. The focus was and is on the negative, rarely on the positive. They feel they were duped when no hard information was found on Iraq's WMDs (although the facts surrounding this are evolving almost daily). They had the same intelligence as the administration and came to the same conclusions. They truly believe we are creating terrorists. They are more concerned about terrorists' rights than winning the war. Their interest is not on the U.S., rather on their return to power.

Now we have Iran. Clearly Iran is a threat. There is no hidden Iranian agenda. They will stop at nothing sort of the destruction of the west and Israel. They clearly desire an Islamic world. Judaism and Christianity are their primary targets.

Will Iran negotiate? Possibly. But they will not respond without a firm military threat from the U.S.

The Dems have succumbed to believing that WMDs, namely nuclear, are inevitable. I do not share this opinion. I do not think we should make this assumption. I prefer to address this problem sooner as opposed to later.

If we run and hide (the Democratic preference), we make the world a more dangerous place. The Dems appear more like Neville Chamberlain prior to WWII than G.W. Bush and the GWOT.

The current Iranian leadership is comprised of the same individuals and ideology that existed in the late 70s and 80s--the Ayatollah Khomeini supporters. They are fascists. They want an expansive Islamic Republic. Many want every American dead or part of a world Islamic republic.

If the Dems, with their current ideology, ever come to power, our freedoms will be bargained away in a matter of a few years.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Yuck -- Tax Day 2006

15 April -- the worst day in America. It makes me sick every year. When you think about the amount of money paid out and the perceived return, it is a catastrophe.

On a few occasions, I have been lucky enough to obtain income above and beyond my traditional wages like bonuses or stock options. The happiness was quickly supplanted by the anger my wife and I had realizing that half of the surplus is going to the government. Frustrating is an understatement.

We pay way too much in taxes -- federal, social security, healthcare, state, property and sales. Government is way too big. I get ticked off everytime I go to Washington DC and see all of the nice, new buildings. The shear size grows yearly. I wonder what would happen if we just completely eliminated the Department of Labor or the Department of Education? Would any one really notice?

This depressing day is magnified by the lost of productivity stats provided by the National Taxpayers Union:
The 1040 tax form with common Schedules A, D, and others will take the average taxpayer 37.8 hours to prepare this year -- with the assistance of a computer! Even the so-called "short" form will take more than half a day (12.6 hours) to complete.

Self-employed taxpayers filing the 1040 with small business schedules face an 80.2-hour completion task -- the equivalent of two weeks paid vacation.

For the second year in a row, roughly 9 out of 10 filers in 2006 appear to be using a paid preparer and/or a computer for assistance in filing their tax returns.
As of March 15, H&R Block's average per-client fee stood at $154.24, a 6.3 percent jump from the same period last year.

Today, taxpayers must wade through 142 pages of instructions for the standard 1040 form and schedules, up from 128 pages last year, and more than double the number in 1985 -- the year before taxes were "simplified". These estimates are probably too low since they ignore the countless hours spent on tax minimization strategies.

The total number of paperwork hours imposed by the Department of the Treasury exceeds 6.4 billion hours (most of which are IRS-related). Despite agency regulatory actions in Fiscal Year 2004 that reduced the paperwork mountain by 137 million hours, statutory changes by Congress piled 101 million hours back onto taxpayers.

Homeland Insecurity Meets Pork Barrel

I have spent most of my professional career involved in information security. In fact, I achieved my Certified Information System Security Professional (CISSP) status in 2001. I have been following security events from both a technical, practical and political perspective.

As part of my continuing reading in the area, I read a well-written book called The Myth of Homeland Security by Marcus Ranum, a respected infosec consultant.

When the Department of Homeland Security was created, my first thought was government over-reaction quickly followed by inefficient bureaucracy. Just look at what they did with commercial airplane security. Most of the countermeasures are not implementated to catch the clever, organized, well-funded terrorists. We're trying to catch the amateurs and the incompetent. We're trying to catch the unstable. We're trying to catch the copycats. These are all legitimate threats, and we're smart to defend against them. Against the professionals, we're just trying to add enough uncertainty into the system that they'll choose other targets instead.

Remember the National Guard members toting a M-16 placed at each major airport just past the security check. It was all about getting people to feel safer and to help protect the airline industry. It had nothing to do with counterterrorism.

As part of the federal government's on-going effort to promote security, the city of Dillingham, AK purchased 80 cameras to watch over the town, purchased through a $202,000 Homeland Security grant meant primarily to defend against a terrorist attack. Dillingham has a population of 2400 (that's 30 cameras per person). The justification for deploying these cameras for this sockeye fishing community is first line of port security (against Russia) for the western U.S.

Brilliant! We need more of these effective countermeasures [sic].

Sunday, April 16, 2006

He Is Risen

From Luke 24:
1 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the asepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.
2 And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.
3 And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.
4 And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:
5 And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?
6 He is not here, but is arisen

From The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles, He was the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Messiah of the New. Under the direction of His Father, He was the creator of the earth. "All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made" (John 1:3). Though sinless, He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. He "went about doing good" (Acts 10:38), yet was despised for it. His gospel was a message of peace and goodwill. He entreated all to follow His example. He walked the roads of Palestine, healing the sick, causing the blind to see, and raising the dead. He taught the truths of eternity, the reality of our premortal existence, the purpose of our life on earth, and the potential for the sons and daughters of God in the life to come.

He instituted the sacrament as a reminder of His great atoning sacrifice. He was arrested and condemned on spurious charges, convicted to satisfy a mob, and sentenced to die on Calvary's cross. He gave His life to atone for the sins of all mankind. His was a great vicarious gift in behalf of all who would ever live upon the earth.

On this Easter day, along with all Christendom, I express my love to the Savoir and for his atonement.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Retired Generals and Donald Rumsfeld

I was passively listening to the evening news on one of the networks--my mom's in town and she like the MSM nightly news. The top story was how retired generals are stating that Secretary Rumsfeld should resign or be replaced.

Typical of the drive-by-media, they find the few disgruntled or left-leaning military men and assume this is the norm.

The editors had a few of these generals on the air but they did not present any opposing views, despite the fact there are approximately 870 active duty generals and admirals from 223,000 officers [2003], and probably an equal number of retired individuals who could comment on this.

As in Oprah, we are all victims; the MSM makes the news, does not report the news.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Economic Hit Man

I just finished reading John Perkin's Confessions of an Economic Hit Man loaned to me by a neighbor.

This 2004 autobiography describes John's consulting position with a company no one has ever heard of, Chas T. Main, and his indirect role with the NSA. As an economist, he worked with third world country leaders and created demand for large construction projects that would be managed by major U.S. firms. These projects would in-debt these nations, destroy their natural resources, and limit those nations from spending its money on its citizens.

Whereas John would believe he is disclosing some secret information, his main objective is to promote his anti-globalization agenda. This hate and blame America belief is very typical of the liberal left.

No one is twisting the arms of these third-world leaders/dictators. They enter into these huge financial agreements with their eyes wide open. Their goal is personal selfishness, not national.

Local and national corruption is the rule. America does not impoverish these nations, their leaders do it fully aware of what they are doing.

Not only is this book's communist agenda flawed, it is filled with questionable commentary and items I believe he made up. He tries too hard to make his transparent apologies for his role in this corruptible behavior.

Bankrupt society

I have read about and followed the Palestinian-Israeli conflict for the past few decades. I really have a difficult time trying to sympathize with the Arabs in Palestine, namely in the West Bank. I wonder if there is even the slightest bit of hope for the "normalization" of this relationship. Consider David Horowitz's description of a key element of the Palestinians education program:

The Palestinians are the first people in the history of humanity to embrace terror and genocide as a way of life. Palestinian schools train kindergarteners and first graders to aspire to murder innocent Jews by blowing themselves up alongside them, and then tell the children that if they're lucky enough to have male genitalia they will go to heaven and be rewarded with 72 virgins to attend their every whim. Palestinian parents murder their own children by telling them to kill Jewish children so that Allah can receive them. This is the sickest culture on the face of the earth, and the fact that it is supported by secular leftists in Europe and America reveals the terminal sickness, as well, of those who crusade in the name of "social justice."

The European Union joined the United States and other major donors and cut off all direct aid to the PA in an effort to force Hamas to become "more moderate." In other words, it must recognize Israel and renounce terrorism. Its coffers all but empty, Hamas has harshly criticized the EU funding cut, saying that they are being punished for "praticing their (democratic) choice." Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, himself the leader of Palestine's more moderate Fatah party, said that now that the Palestinian Authority is virtually bankrupt, Hamas is beginning to wake up to the reality of what it means to be politically and economically isolated.

Hamas is not the answer to the Palestinian plight. Fatah had its chance. It is going to take a catastrophic event coupled by new, moderate leadership to bring this relationship under control, if possible.

Vets For Freedom

Vets For Freedom was founded by a group of Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans who believe in the mission of freedom, specifically Operation Iraqi Freedom, but who have become frustrated with the way the operation has been politicized and reported to the home front.

In January 2006, this group of veterans, enlisted personnel, and officers decided to take action. The result was the creation of Vets for Freedom, a non-profit advocacy group whose mission is to promote the unbiased, nonpartisan truth of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan to educate the public and mobilize public support for the Global War on Terror.

The founders and members of Vets for Freedom have witnessed the firsthand events, both the successes and failures, of the Iraq War. While their voice has largely been ignored by many policymakers and the media, they have earned the right to be heard and will use this organization to lend their insights to this worthy cause.

Wade Zirkle is the executive director of Vets for Freedom. He served two tours in Iraq with the Marines before being wounded in action. He wrote an op-ed piece for the Washington Post entitled Troops in Support Of the War. He makes the point of how out of touch the drive-by-media and many of the elected officials are with respect to the morale and attitudes of the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some key items are as follows:

Mark Seavey, a former Army sergeant who had recently returned from Afghanistan [made the following comment at a town hall meeting attended in part by Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) and Rep. John Murtha (D-PA):] "I know you keep saying how you have talked to the troops and the troops are demoralized, and I really resent that characterization. The morale of the troops I talk to is phenomenal, which is why my troops are volunteering to go back despite the hardships..."

"And, Congressman Moran, 200 of your constituents just arrived back from Afghanistan -- we never got a letter, we never got a visit from you, you didn't come to our homecoming. The only thing we got was a letter from the governor of this state thanking us for our service in Iraq, when we were in Afghanistan. That's reprehensible. I don't know who you two are talking to, but the morale of the troops is very high."

What was the response? Murtha said nothing, while Moran attempted to move on, no pun intended, stating: "That wasn't in the form of a question, it was a statement."

It was indeed a statement; a statement from both a constituent and a veteran that should have elicited something more than silence or a dismissive comment highlighting a supposed breach of protocol. This exchange, captured on video (it was on C-SPAN), has since been forwarded from base to base in military circles. It has not been well received there, and it only raises the already high level of frustration among military personnel that their opinions are not being heard.

I am grateful for Wade Zirkle, his financial backers, his associates and certainly the men and women who serve and have served so valiantly in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.

The GWOT may not have an end in sight, but the battle must go on. We will get smarter. We will develop smarter technologies, methodologies, tactics and strategies. We cannot fight the GWOT with one hand tied behind our back. The electorate must put in officials that have the will to win. Our servicemen and women need our financial, emotional and political support.

The Vets For Freedom is helping to ensure all citizens have a right to express their views on this important national challenge, and all should be heard. Veterans ask no more, and they deserve no less.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Ghost Hunters

Today, Michael Medved had a guest on his radio program from American Battlefield Ghost Hunters Society.

I have traveled to and experienced many battlefields including Corregidor, Normandy, Verdun, Waterloo and key U.S. Civil War battlefields like Antietam, Harpers Ferry, Appomattox Court House, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Manassas, Petersburg, Richmond Kennesaw Mountain, Chickamauga & Chattanooga and Gettysburg. I am humbled and deeply touched every time I visit one of these locations. The air drips with reverence and respect. The shear number of deaths that occurred in these locations compels most to think spiritually.

Ghosts are nothing more than disembodied spirits. The spirit world--the realm these spirits inhabit until their resurrection--is right here on the earth. Seeing (I have never seen them) or feeling (I have felt them) disembodied spirits at battlefields is very reasonable.

P.S. - don't fall for those fee-based ghost tours of battlefields and certain major cities like Edinburgh, Paris, and New Orleans (they'll be back), unless you truly like to waste money.

Bush-Cheney Witch-Hunt Fizzles with Libby

Scooter Libby said President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney authorized him to discuss with reporters intelligence on Iraq's weapons program and didn't authorize leaking a CIA agent's name.

In July 2003, Robert Novak wrote about the CIA's decision to send retired diplomat Joseph C. Wilson to Niger in February 2002 to investigate possible Iraqi purchases of uranium. He also disclosed that his wife, Valerie Plame, was a CIA operative on weapons of mass destruction.

This witch-hunt involving the outing of Valerie Plame will never result in the outcome the left desires. However it has put fear, uncertainty and doubt in the minds of many.

People suffer all sorts of indignities, but few things are more difficult to take than being falsely accused of misconduct. It is difficult to defend yourself both because its hard to prove a negative and, if you defend yourself strenuously, you risk appearing guilty for protesting too much.

Political enemies fight their wars one battle at a time. Its Valerie Plame one day, presidential / NSA spying another, and immigration the next. This accuse-without-proof strategy works with consumers of the drive-by-media, but not with those who desire to understand the real stories and their underline motives.

Soulforce Equality Ride

The cross-country Soulforce Equality Ride (3 March - 30 April 2006) arrived in Utah this week. Clearly, BYU would be a target.

The purpose of Soulforce is freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance.

The activists were peacefully removed by BYU security personnel on both Monday and Tuesday.

The Church states only sexual relations between husband and wife within the bonds of marriage are acceptable before the Lord. Any alternatives to the legal and loving marriage between a man and a woman are helping to unravel the fabric of human society..

Same-sex attraction is real for some. Leaders and parents are sympathetic to this problem. Everyone has personal weaknesses and difficult temptations to overcome. However, don't expect the Lord and his Church to change to accommodate these exceptions.

The position will always be the same: hate the sin, love the sinner.

US Military "Almost in a State of Rebellion"

This week on the Today Show, Matt Lauer interviewed James Carville. As part of Carville's response to the question dealing with the source of the leak of the alleged plans for an attack on Iran to destroy its nuclear capabilities, he made the following allegation:

"people in the military are almost in a state of rebellion against civilian authorities, particularly Secretary Rumsfeld, over what happened in Iraq."

Matt Lauer did not even challenge this assertion. I would expect nothing less from Lauer--a first rate liberal and even worse journalist.

We have come to expect these comments from Carville and those of his persuasion. This anti-American, self-aggrandizing crowd will stop at nothing to insult and create controversy for their self-serving purposes. Facts be damned.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Delta Airlines, Remember Eastern Airlines?

I was young when Frank Borman, CEO of Eastern Airlines, was fighting his financial and competitiveness woes. Eventually selling to Frank Lorenzo and Texas Air for almost nothing. (A good review of Frank Borman, his astronaut years and his years at Eastern, can be found in his autobiography Countdown.)

The problems faced by Delta are similar to those faced by Eastern -- weighty and stifling labor agreements and other unexpected expenses like higher fuel costs and employee entitlements.

Delta pilots, attendants, maintenance, etc. can be as stubborn as they wish but it all comes down to competitiveness.

Each of these parties tries to get the best deal for themselves, regardless of the overall impact on the business' competitiveness. A few win in the short-term, but all lose in the long-term.

With the pilots voting to strike and the public picketing underway, one cannot be too optimistic over the eventual outcome.

These efforts will end up hurting all Delta stakeholders--its investors, suppliers, customers and its employees, especially in Atlanta, Cincinnati and Salt Lake City. I feel bad for those impacted.

Competition is brutal. Corporate and union management during the years of plenty failed to plan properly for the years of draught.

Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage

On 8 December 2003, President Bush signed the Medicare Act of 2003. One of the main features of this Act is the prescription drug benefit, giving seniors a major cost break on purchasing their doctor prescribed drugs.

Seniors that signed up have been saving money since 1 January 2006 on their prescriptions. Some are stating that it is confusing. I do not doubt that the government created a confusing program. That's what bureaucracies are good at doing. However, that does not mean people cannot figure it out. Anytime there is a government program that will take money from one group and give it to another, this latter group can figure out how to get it.

There is plenty of information out there on the prescription drug coverage program including the Medicare, White House, AARP, 60 Plus Association and Social Security Web sites.

From the Medicare Web site, Everyone with Medicare, regardless of income, health status, or prescription drug usage, will have access to prescription drug coverage. This new coverage begins on 1 January 2006. The four steps one needs to take to get Medicare prescription drug coverage are as follows:

1 - The decision to get Medicare prescription drug coverage depends on how you pay for your drugs now and how you get your Medicare coverage.

2 - There are a range of plan options available, so you can focus on the kind of coverage you prefer. There are two ways you can get your Medicare drug coverage. You can add drug coverage to the traditional Medicare plan through a stand alone prescription drug plan. Or you can get drug coverage and the rest of your Medicare coverage through a Medicare Advantage plan, like an HMO or PPO, that typically provides more benefits at a significantly lower cost through a network of doctors and hospitals.

3 - There are many ways to choose a plan. You may rely on advice from people you know or trust, or choose a plan you are already familiar with, or use the Landscape of Local Plans located on to find a plan that meets your needs.

4 - You can enroll in a plan starting 15 November 2005. Medicare will have an online Enrollment Center available on that date at You can also enroll by calling the plan's toll free number, by mailing in an application to the plan, or by visiting the plan's website. Coverage begins January 1, 2006 if you join a plan by December 31, 2005. The deadline to enroll to get coverage next year is May 15, 2006.

This drug program is another entitlement. It adds to the budget woes and will get more expensive with time.

The biggest problem with the social drug program is the abuse that will exist. MDs prescribe too many drugs. People are over medicated.

People state they are only paying "$" for all their drugs [sic]. They may be getting a good deal but what the rest of us who are forced to pay the taxes to subsidize this addiction.

Good healthcare starts with the individual. Too many of us have punted on this duty, turning to drugs and too frequent of visits to their MD. This costs money, money they want someone else to subsidize.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Jobs That Americans Won't Do?

Back in early 2004, President Bush started this latest immigration discussion rolling when he announced his plan for a vast new guestworker system, which would grant amnesty to millions of illegals currently in the United States, as well as import millions of new workers from abroad.

On many occasions, President Bush has stated the he's interested in comprehensive immigration reform. That includes not only border security, but also a temporary worker plan that recognizes there are hardworking people here doing jobs Americans won't do, and they ought to be here in such a way so they don't have to hide in the shadows of our society.

This type of statement is an insult to the hardest working people in the greatest nation on Earth. There are very few jobs that American's will not do. Who did these jobs before this latest wave of illegal immigrants? What Americans will not do is work at wages below what is reasonable.

Economic logic states that if someone is willing to do a job at a lower rate than another, without compromising quality, speed, etc., then the lower wage requester will get the job.

When illegal immigrants come to ther U.S. and take these lower paying jobs at these lower rates, it is temporarily good for them. They are coming from a lower economic status to a higher one. However, over the long-term, they limit their earning power while working in these lower paying jobs. They also reduce the standard of living of their host country, especially of those in the lower economic class.

Like communism, it is only good for those that have absolutely nothing. Once they get a little, it is oppressive.

Birthright Citizenship

Lawmakers are urging a change in US laws that currently grant automatic citizenship to anyone born in the United States.

Representative JD Hayworth (R-AZ), author of a great book I recently read, Whatever It Takes, is leading this fight. Why? Because what is happening today is not what the Founding Fathers had in mind.

The 14th Amendment was passed and ratified [7/9/1868] by the states to guarantee citizenship for freed slaves, not the children of foreigners, and we need to take a realistic look at the notion of birthright citizenship.

Does it make sense to grant a newborn U.S. citizenship when that child was born to a mother who illegally entered this country for the main purpose of having her child here? That violates the spirit of the law.

When non-U.S. citizens, here on work assignments, have a child, their children will have dual citizenship. This is fine. They are doing it legally. The illegal immigrate should not be given the same privilage.