Tuesday, October 31, 2006

American's View of God

A survey conducted by Harris Poll found that 42% of U.S. adults are not "absolutely certain" there is a God compared to 34% who felt that way when asked the same question three years ago.

Among the various religious groups, 76% of Protestants, 64% of Catholics and 30% of Jews said they are "absolutely certain" there is a God while 93% of Christians who describe themselves as "Born Again" feel certain God exists.

When questioned on whether God is male or female, 36% said they think God is male, 37% said neither male nor female and 10% said both male and female. Only 1% think of God as a female.

Asked whether God has a human form, 41% said they think of God as "a spirit or power than can take on human form but is not inherently human."

As to whether God controls events on Earth, 29% believe that to be the case while 44 % said God "observes but does not control what happens on Earth".

The survey was conducted online between October 4 and 10 among 2,010 US adults.

If Mormon's were polled about the nature of God, 99.999% (gotta be some Mormon's who really don't know anything about their religion) would say God does exist; he is our Heavenly Father; he has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's; that he is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent; that he knows and loves each and every one of us.

Thank goodness for this.

We Know What Kerry Meant

The French looking Senator for MA said to a group of student in Pasadena, "You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."

Kerry says this was a jab a Bush. Kerry and his MSM liberal counterparts spent the entire day trying to figure out how to spin this -- to blame Bush.

Kerry is one of the biggest losers in the entire class of political loser out there.

Kerry should resign. The other Democratic talking heads should demand his resignation. The MSM should demand his resignation.

It is hard to image the gulf between the left and right any bigger than it is today. The left have their leaders and they all suck. The right has its leaders and they all suck. Next week's election is not going to ease the pain.

We need politicians not motivated by re-election pressures, special interests and partisan politics.

I personally do not see us ever turning our backs on this quagmire we are in. And I am talking about American politics, not Iraq.

212 Degrees

An interesting and poignant three minute "advertimonial" on the difference between first and second places.

Double Strike

Occasionally, I read some out of the ordinary books. I recently read Double Strike: The Epic Air Raids on Regensberg-Schweinfurt by Edward Jablonski (Doubleday, 1974). I was an account of the WWII bombings of two German industrial complexes that contributed heavily to the German war machine at the time.

These types of books provide great detail about military issues, who did what and at what time, etc. Whereas this is important for the record, I personally do not find that information all that enthralling. What I do find interesting are the strategic importance of the event, the politics around it, the aftermath, and the comments by those involved.

This happened in August 1943. For most, before we were born. But there are interesting things we can learn from this.

-- Soldiers said they did not have a gripe with the German people; their "hatred" was directed at Hitler and Goering.

-- This mission, although effective, was not a complete success; Schweinfurt required a second mission to complete the job in October.

-- There was discussion about collateral damage -- who was the enemy and who were the civilians. Great efforts were made to be as precise as possible with the bombing. The bombing was done in the daylight.

-- Nearly 1/5 of all of the Fortresses involved in the attack did not return.

-- Tactically, long-range fighter protection became mandatory for future, similar missions.

-- The military did it own critique of the mission. There was little media scrutinizing what should have happened, what when wrong, how this general and that general needed to be fired.

As the book concludes, the author points out that for most, this was just another mission; but for those involved, it was never forgotten. Again, I tip my hat those WWII vets. Well done.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Brazil's Lula Wins a Second Term


Brazil's leftwing president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, won a landslide second term on Sunday. He was forced into a run-off against Geraldo Alckmin of the Social Democratic Party (PSDB) after failing to win a majority in the initial round of voting.

In a country rampant with economically underprivileged, it makes sense that they vote for the party that promises them and delivers on the dole. I question his ability to boost growth and to put Brazil on track to reach the ranks of developed nations.

Socialism and economic growth are opposites. Who's to pay for the social programs? Taxes. Where do the taxes come from -- those with the money. Those with the money prefer to keep what they earn. If Brazil takes more than other countries, then the capitalistic incentives disappear along with the real producers.

In Sports, It Is All About Mo

In sports, it really is all about momentum or "mo." Name the sport, there are ups and down. Those that can withstand the downs or use their killer instinct to finish off their opponents is the difference better those that win and those that do not.

On Saturday, my wife and I went to the Utah State 3A girls volleyball championship. We have a niece on one of the teams. Snow Canyon was highly favored -- they had beat them twice during the regular season.

The first two games went to Dixie. There was the thought that Dixie might just pull the upset. However SC never wavered. They withstood the Dixie run and were able to pull out a win in the critical third game. The forth game went to SC and the fifth and final game went decisively to SC.

It was enjoyable to see the emotional ups and downs -- much more pronounced in girl's sports (go figure).

As we watched the game it became apparent that SC was the better team. Dixie, however, did have a chance to win the championship. However, it appeared as if they doubted themselves -- "we can't beat SC; they are the favored team; and they have beaten us all year." SC, on the other hand showed the "we can do this" attitude.

SC won and earned the state title. They were the better team.

In life, we have those ups and downs. My philosophy has always been not to get to high or too low. Sometimes, during the lows, it can get lower; sometimes during the good times, it can get better.

The challenge is to focus on the end goals and endure. The bulk of the battle is just getting after it day after day. And in those crucial moments, doubt not. In more times than not, you will overcome.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Full Disclosure -- Lock Picking

Although I am not an amateur lock pick artist, I have read with interest over the past five or six years about the hobby of lock picking.

Today's Wall Street Journal has a front page article on the +/- of those actively engaged in picking locks and publishing the how-tos or vulnerabilities associated with specific locks.

Most lock manufacturers feel this is a bad thing. They feel these individuals and groups are doing a disservice to society by helping arm the criminals with additional know-how. I could not disagree more.

In the world of software, hackers spend an enormous amount of time looking for vulnerabilities. They posts these exploits for others to see. Most of the time, they do it for bragging rights. However, the software vendors, when made aware of these flaws, fix the software and distribute (push) or make available (pull) the patches to their customers.

It is rare that a software program is written without bugs. The software vendor can only test so much prior to a commercial release -- business mandates they release a product and attempt to generate revenue. They knowingly release "flawed" software. They try to address the big problems but many go undiscovered.

One aspect of the quality assurance (QA) or test cycle should be to break the product. An independent entity -- inside or outside the company -- should use everything at his/her disposal to exploit the software prior to release. This does not mean they will find all the flaws but it may mean they are able to identify the major ones -- ones that hackers are most likely to find.

In the world of locks, the same premise holds true. Some locks are designed and tested much better than others. The lock picking hobbyist -- the lock hackers -- do us all, including the manufacturers, a service in assessing the security of these products. If the manufacturer demonstrates a weak design and QA process, then society at large is fully in its rights to bring those flaws to light.

Software manufacturers are well-served by fully disclosing known flaws. Their users need to know of these shortcomings. Sure the criminals will know also but smart users, given this knowledge, will be able update their code with the appropriate updates to fix the bugs.

When owners of flawed locks are given the knowledge of their lock weakness, they can take proactive measures to address (or ignore) the problem.

Criminals -- software hackers or burglars -- who discover vulnerabilities in the defenses of their prey are not going to publically disclose these weaknesses. That's their "intellectual property." If a hobbyist discovers this, then so be it; the thief can't really put a patent on a criminal tactic.

I tip my hat to those who find and report vulnerabilities of systems -- electrical or mechanical. They do us all a great service. This is their method of calling the manufacturers to repentance. They should have known better -- should have done a better job from day one.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

300 Million In America

Last week, the U.S. Census informed us that we now have over 300 million people living here. There will be 400 million in 37 years

The U.S. ranks third in the world in population, behind China (1.3B) and India (1.1B), and just ahead of Indonesia (225M) and Brazil (187M).

America his different than most western nations. America has 14 births for every 1000 people; mortality rates are 8 per 1000 people annually. Compare Germany with 8 births and 10 deaths per 1000.

The American population is also aging. Those 65 and older comprise 12% of the population. By 2050, this will be closer to 21%. Yea, we do have Social Security and Medicare problems.

Immigration helps with the age balance -- good thing, I guess. 35 million (maybe more) foreign-born people live in the U.S. Immigration accounts for 40% of the annual population growth, up from 24% in the 1980s. Hispanics now account for 15% of the population. When we have 400 million, they will constitute 25%.

We tends to live in urban/suburban areas, in the South and West. Declining manufacturing in the midwest and the elderly migration being the driving factors.

Some interesting facts:

-- In the US, a child is born every 7 seconds; a person dies every 13 seconds; a migrant enters the country every 31 seconds; a new gain of 1 person every 11 seconds.

-- Since 1900, the US has experienced just one population decline -- 1918 due to WWI and the flu; 1950 saw the largest (post-WWII) with a 2.05%.

-- The US population officially hit 100 million in 1915; 200 million in 1967; 300 million in 2006 (like last Tuesday); and 400 million in 2043.

-- An estimated 106 billion people have lived on the Earth; the current population is 6.5 billion; about 6.1% of all people every born are alive today.

-- By 2050 the world population is expected to be 9.1 billion; 9 countries are expected to account for half: India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Bangladesh, Uganda, US, Ethiopia and China.

Population growth, despite its challenges, is a benefit to the country and for the economy, providing youth and vitality to a demanding labor mandate.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Misleading Spin on Embryonic Stem Cell Research

I have been following the embryonic stem cell research discussion in the Senate races in Missouri and Maryland. Consider the transcript from Rush on Tuesday:
One of the big issues in the Missouri Senate race -- as you know, we touched on it yesterday -- is the Michael J. Fox commercial which is entirely misleading and which is in itself an attack ad, and it is filled with disinformation about embryonic stem cell research and how Jim Talent wants to criminalize it. Embryonic stem cell research -- and, by the way, Fox is doing similar commercials in Maryland now for Ben Cardin against Michael Steele. But embryonic stem cell research is currently legal and completely unrestricted in both Maryland and Missouri and in the vast majority of other states. It's largely personal and institutional ethics that keep scientists from cloning research.

The debate we're having is almost always about governmental funding or radical measures like the one currently on the ballot in Missouri, which is Amendment 2, which would write a right to cloning into the state constitution of Missouri, and it's one of these cleverly worded things that makes you: if you vote yes, you're voting no, and vice-versa. So we'll talk more about the Michael Fox situation because, as I knew yesterday, the Drive-By Media, including things like Inside Edition, are all panting (panting) to make something out of this that isn't. We will address that, but Michael J. Fox entered the political arena long ago. He became a US citizen in 2000.

I would argue that Mr. Fox is damaging what has traditionally been a bipartisan effort at addressing and curing illnesses, and that is the primary point here. Democrats are politicizing diseases and illnesses. The Breck Girl, John Edwards, promising, if John Kerry is elected, that Christopher Reeve and others with spinal paralysis would walk, when there's no such is evidence that any research into embryonic stem cells will create any immediate cure toward anything. It is irresponsible to mislead victims of people suffering from these horrible diseases in such a fashion. But that's exactly what has happened.

That's what the Democrats are doing, politicizing diseases and illnesses, damaging what has traditionally been a bipartisan effort at addressing and curing illnesses, and the same time they claim if you don't embrace their political and cultural agenda, then you're for Parkinson's disease, and you are for spinal paralysis. It's no different than the way they do it in the environmental movement. They talk about dirty water and dirty air, and if you oppose the environmentalists, why, you must be for dirty water and dirty air! You don't want clean water and clean air, and this is a script that they have written for years. Senate Democrats used to parade victims of various diseases or social concerns or poverty up before congressional committees and let them testify, and they were infallible. You couldn't criticize them.
The Democratic premise is that if you elect Democrats you will get a cure for Parkinson's disease. In the case of Missouri, they are misleading people with Parkinson's disease and hiding the proposed constitutional change to allow cloning.

The debate should be about whether the government, with taxpayer money, should fund and get directly involved in embryonic stem cell research and cloning. In the case of embryonic stem cell research, it is legal in most states.

Should government fund pharmaceutical research? They regulate it but do not get involved directly, to my knowledge, in that research. Research, including stem cell research, is done by companies with profit motives. I have always felt that private companies with a business motivation are much more efficient than government trying to do likewise. Those that disagree with this will say the less affluent cannot afford the resulting drugs. This is the wrong answer. The two issues -- research and paying for the product -- are mutually exclusive.

The Democrats are creating a misleading spin on embryonic stem cell research in Missouri and Maryland. If you buy their arguments that if you elect Democrats you will solve disease, you will be in for a huge disappointment.

PS - Rush was not mocking or making fun of MJ Fox or those with the disease. It is ridiculous to assume so.

The Unseen World of Patent Infringement

In the world of technology, patents are a given. The larger companies spend an enormous amount of time and money identifying patentable items. They incentivize employees to apply for patents, paying them for applications, acceptance and the award. This process can take years. Payouts to those involved is more than pocket change; it usually in the many thousands of dollars.

What do they do with all of these patents? Sometimes nothing. Other times, they use them to collect royalties from other companies that use the idea.

The current IBM-Amazon patent lawsuit has been brewing for years. IBM was hoping to get Amazon to pay up for using its technology. Amazon probably fells the intellectual property/patent claims are marginal and/or over priced and/or too critical to its core business to cave in and pay up.

The way many companies handle patents is they create these and turn a blind eye to what others might be doing in the industry. Then as their patentable idea become mainstream, they raise their hands and say, "whoa, you are using our IP and you must pay us something for that privilege."

Take the idea of a e-commerce shopping cart or displaying online advertising. Everyone uses this but few realize that someone probably has a patent on them. Over time, the owner creates a game plan and goes after the big players -- Amazon, etc. They have the money. They will not waste their time on the millions of small businesses that process e-commerce orders.

Another aspect of patents is that they serve as bargaining chips when they get sued. One big company sues another big company over some patent infringement. The company getting sued, sues back. They spend years in legal haggling, deposing various people. It never makes it to court. They just agree to license each others' technology often without any specific fees or a wash of fees: you pays us $1 for this item and we'll pay you $1 for that item; quantities equal; a wash.

The unlucky guy is the one that does not have any bargaining chips -- no patents to use as part of a counter suit. Companies are know to buy patents or complete companies just so they have these tools on-hand.

There's really only one group of people this benefits, the lawyers. They spend years working on a case that gets sold out of court. They got their $250 per hour fees. The end users are the ones that get the shortest straw -- they must cover these attorney fees in the price of goods and services.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Absentee Ballot

I just filled out and mailed my general election absentee ballot. I really like voting this way -- no lines, take my time, look-up and study issues I was not familiar with.

I vote Republican in most cases; never for a Democrat. Although I am a registered Republican, I an not happy with those who represent the party. I continue to hope I can help change the party platform from within -- by electing people that adhere to core conservative principles.

The Constitution Party is the organization with a platform and candidates that support my view of government. I would like to see the Republican Party move more toward the principles of the Constitution Party.

There was no way I could vote for Orrin Hatch. That institution has run its course. He is not a conservative. He is a DC power broker. He could care less about his Utah constituency. Hatch will win but he did not get my vote. I voted for Scott Bradley.

On the other hand, despite the fact Jim Matheson is a Democrat I don't mind, I did not vote for him for the 2nd congressional District. I don't vote for Democrats, ever. Nor did I vote for W. David Perry from the Constitution Party, despite the fact I like him the best. He will not win. So I voted for LaVar Christensen. I want the seat in the House; which is unlikely.

Children Raping Children

I found this article fro South Africa as being a bit disturbing:
Eighty-two children are charged in courts across the country [SA] every day for raping or indecently assaulting other children. A Pretoria News investigation has found that processing by the state of child-committed sexual offences has nearly doubled in the past year.

Police, prosecutors, social workers and child rights activists estimate that between 25 percent and 43 percent of the perpetrators of sex and violent crimes against children are children themselves - some as young as six.

Studies in KwaZulu-Natal last year showed that a staggering 90 percent of all male child sex offenders between the ages of 13 and 18 had been exposed to pornography and "believed that this had an impact on the development of their abusive behaviour".

Shaheda Omar, therapeutic manager at the Teddy Bear Clinic in Johannesburg, has interviewed 100 child sex offenders and their mothers "from across the social spectrum" for her doctoral research project. "What surprised me was that most of these children had not been sexually abused themselves, although they may have witnessed sexual or physical abuse. What united them was the influence of media on their behaviour," she said.
How else would children this young even know anything about sex if it were not for the smut and glamorization thereof on the TV, Internet and bookstore? Moral decadence is truly global.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Ten Problems With Mobile Phones

We call them cell phones but the rest of the world calls them mobile phones. Today's Wall Street Journal listed ten problems with mobile phones:

-- Spotty coverage
-- Non coverage
-- Poor customer service
-- Lengthy contracts
-- Damaged phones
-- Surprise charges
-- Complicated bills
-- Missed calls
-- Weak batteries
-- Feature overload

My biggest gripe is coverage. For a couple of years, the place I used my phone the most -- home and work -- the coverage was terrible or spotty. Everyone in the office had the same problem. I changed jobs to solve this problem. I changed phones and it improved -- upgrading from a three year old phone was worthwhile.

My second gripe is length of contract. Why should we have any contract length? Why do we have to tie the phone to the service provider? It is not a technical reason; it is due to business and marketing reasons. It is my belief that competition should be open and we keep or break our service provider based on their ability to perform.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

World Series: Detroit v St. Louis

The World Series is may favorite annual sporting event. It like it even better when New York is not involved. I lived and worked in St. Louis for three years -- back in the Ozzie Smith era. My children were very young back then; one was even born in St. Louis. We have a portrait of them all wearing their Cardinal garb. I took them many games. They became Cardinal fans, and remain so today. (We also lived in Minnesota for firve years, so they like the Twins in the AL.)

I am pulling for the Cards in this one. I relish them being an underdog. We listen to the analysts and experts -- they all say the Tigers are going to win. Yea, they might; but they might not. That's why we play the game. Thankfully, it is not decided by the suits, it is decided on the field.

I'll enjoy this regardless of who wins. It will be extra sweet if the Cards come out on top.

Biofuels vs Conservation

This sounds like a real liberal topic but bear with me... The demand for biofuels will increase. If the federal government offers subsidies, which they have a habit of doing, abd if those subsidies are higher and/or more attractive than those programs for wildlife conservation -- especially those used by sportsman -- the number of acres that could be plowed under may get into the millions.

I am a conservationist, a sportsman and outdoorsman. We should ask our Congressman to make sure that fish and wildlife concerns are adequately addressed in the biofuels program -- part of the Farm Bill.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Oil Prices Continue to Fall

Oil fell more than 2% ($1.68) on Friday to a 2006 low -- $56.82 a barrel. London Brent crude fell $1.19 to $59.68 a barrel. Oil prices in the U.S. have dropped from July records of $78.40 a barrel.

This is all about supply and demand. Supplies are up. Demand is down relative to the supply.

OPEC plans on cutting output by 1.2 million barrels per day and they may make a further cut of 500,000 bpd in December. Analysis question their willingness and discipline to do either.

I like what OPEC said: they were concerned about high fuel stocks in consumer countries, particularly in the United States, and a projected drop in demand for OPEC oil in 2007 as competitors bring more supplies online.

Isn't competition great?

Senator Orrin Hatch at the Chamber

Senator Hatch was back in Utah. Today, he spoke at the Provo/Orem Chamber of Commerce. I sat right up front. He did not have a "prepared" speech. Instead he took questions. He only got to three questions in his 45 minutes .. funny how politician can take a question and go off on a myriad of topics, some on point but most off-topic.

Question 1 - What are we going to do about Iraq? He spent most of his time discussing the benefits of being in Iraq, why we cannot cut and run, and why we must see it through to a victorious end where we can withdraw in a manner that will not create an extremist vacuum.

Question 2 - I think it was about small business. I don't recall his comments.

Question 3 - What is our nation's biggest healthcare concern? Orrin is in favor of government-sponsored embryonic stem cell research, beyond the current lines. He feels that this will help address some of our escalating healthcare costs, provided better lives for the living, and does not overlap with his anti-abortion stance.

He has become a powerful voice in Washington. He is a good Republican. However, he's a moderate -- conservative on some issues but would never be labeled a conservative by conservatives.

He operates from the middle. This has served him well. He prides himself on his ability to build a consensus.

He is a bit enamored with himself and his position. He's one of the good 'ol boys in Washington. He is status quo. His persona is why I dislike politicians.

He will certainly win in November. He wins because he does not upset either party like a strong liberal would a conservative or a strong conservative would a liberal. Orrin's not my favorite politician but he apparently works for Utah.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Due Process Due All Americans

The whole discussion about the right of the executive branch to arrest and detain individuals who are flagged as a terrorist or person of interest has always been disconcerting to me.

On one hand, we want the government to be proactive in acting on good intelligence, investigation, law enforcement, etc. to defend the homeland against terrorist threats. However, we also need to ensure our rights as citizen are not compromised.

Being mistaken for someone you are not or being falsely accused, and spending hours, days, weeks, months or even years in custody, only to be released with a "we're sorry, you can go now" thank you is ominous.

I have never bought that line of reasoning that "if you have not done anything wrong, you have no need to fear". The facts prove this to be a fallacy.

In Joe Wolverton II, J.D. essay Are YOU the Enemy? published in The New American 30 October 2006, he makes some good points:
The Military Commissions Act of 2006 [S.3930, 28 September 2006, by a vote of 65-34; the House passed the act 250-170 on 29 September] allows the executive branch to circumvent the Constitution, endangering the due process of law for all Americans, not just terrorists.

The Military Commissions Act of 2006 is an eradication of the most basic protections of liberty enshrined for over 200 years in our sacred Constitution. The all-encompassing powers granted to the president by this law potentially forbid any man, woman, or child deemed an enemy of the administration or its policies from seeking judicial relief from unlawful imprisonment. Most terrifying of all, this law enthrones President Bush -- and his successors, whether Democrat or Republican -- as the ultimate arbiters of justice to those suspected of being America's enemies. You can only hope that that person is not you.
Some may say that the government will never do this. That there are too many checks and balances. The more you get away from the Constitution, the more power you put into the hands of a central figure. The more the President looks like a king. And we all know that royalty-based governments are faulty because it depends on the righteousness and wisdom of the king (or queen). It places too much power in the hands of one person. The temptation to abuse that power is too great. Few have the strength to overcome the temptations. Those few that could would never make a career out of politics.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Being Israeli

I am in San Francisco this week. I spent some time talking with a forty year old woman who did her PhD in the U.S. and worked for a while at the University of Central Florida. She chose to return home to Israel to practice her engineering and research profession. This is the route many Israelis take, only most stay in the U.S. and do not return to Israel.

We spoke about the current situation in Israel. She's been there for about a year this time and will most like stay. She says that for the most part, personal safety is quite good. Few people feel threaten. They go about their daily lives as any American would.

She said that most Israelis avoid the news as best as they can. Becoming engulfed in the news can be such an emotionally devastating experience. Negativism abounds. Yet the average Israeli is quite optimistic. If not, they had better leave.

The Arab Israeli citizens tend to hid their hatred to their fellow non-Arab countrymen. When Hezbollah was launching Katusha rockets into northern Israel from southern Lebanon, they were killing Jews and Muslims alike. When Arab families were struck and family members were lost, whom did they blame? Israel, not Hezbollah.

Gaza is one, if not, the most populated tracks of land in the world. She said it is the worst of third world living. No one has a job. They live in pure squalor. And they keep having more and more children.

The population growth disparity will probably be Israel's eventual demise. Israel has a population growth more like Europe. If it were not for the Jewish immigrants, Israel would be shrinking in size. Shrinking mean smaller armies to defend the homeland. The Arabs are growing in numbers. They practice little birth control. They grow-up in a destructive environment with little education. The education they do get is anti-Israeli in nature.

It is such a sad thing to see how hatred can consume an entire population. Why anyone would spend most of their waking time hating another race is beyond me. It has become their persona. Instead of working to better themselves and their situations, they are blaming others for their misfortunes. This negativism permeates many societies, though not all. Some are dealt a bad hand and spend their entire life complaining about it, while others deal with it and get on with life.

Optimism vs pessimism. Hatred and revenge are such self-destructive emotions.

Disaster Recovery Personal Protection Act

President Bush recently signed legislation that included language based on H.R. 5013, the "Disaster Recovery Personal Protection Act," to prohibit the confiscation of legal firearms from law-abiding citizens during states of emergency. Passage of this legislation became a top priority of NRA following confiscations of lawfully-owned firearms by local officials in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. This new law was part of the Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill (H.R. 5013)

The "Disaster Recovery Personal Protection Act," which was introduced in the House by Congressman Bobby Jindal, R-La., and passed the House on July 25 with a broad bi-partisan margin of 322 to 99. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., introduced the Senate version of the bill. Sen. Vitter also championed the first Senate action on a different version of the appropriations amendment, which passed in July by an 84 to 16 vote.

I really appreciate the job the NRA and Chris Cox did to help push for this legislation through to a successful conclusion.

When it comes to the elections in November, it is so critical we get out and vote. I think the anti-Second Amendment politicians are counting on a low conservative turnout. I hope this backfires and the conservatives turn out and the liberal constituency stays at home.

The 109th Congress' Conservative Index

A look at the 109th Congress shows how every representative and senator voted on key issues, including warrantless surveillance, the border fence, and military tribunals, from a conservative's perspective. Click <here> for a PDF to see how your Rep and Senators voted.

The New American's "Conservative Index” rates congressmen based on their adherence to constitutional principles of limited government, fiscal responsibility, national sovereignty, and a traditional foreign policy of avoiding foreign entanglements. The scores are derived by dividing a congressman’s conservative votes (pluses)by the total number he cast (pluses and minuses) and multiplying by 100.

The average House score for this index (votes 31-40) is 48 percent; the average Senate score is 53. Two congressmen earned perfect scores of 100: Walter Jones (R-N.C.) and Ron Paul (R-Texas).

House

31 Foreign Aid. The fiscal 2007 foreign aid appropriations bill (H.R. 5522) would authorize $21.3 billion for foreign operations and economic assistance in fiscal 2007. Though foreign aid is supposed to help the poor and suffering in other countries, it instead has served to prop up economically deficient socialist regimes and to transfer wealth from American taxpayers to third-world elites. The House passed H.R. 5522 on June 9, 2006 by a vote of 373-34.

32 Iran Military Operations. 2007 defense appropriations bill (H.R. 5631) amendment would bar any funds to initiate military operations in Iran unless it is in accordance with Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, which delegates to Congress alone the power to declare war. The House rejected Hinchey’s amendment by a vote of 158-262 on June 20, 2006.

33 Line-item Rescission. The legislative line-item rescission bill (H.R. 4890) would allow the president to propose cuts in spending bills already enacted by Congress. The House passed H.R. 4890 by a vote of 247-172 on June 22, 2006.

34 Offshore Drilling. This bill (H.R. 4761) would end the federal moratorium on most offshore oil and gas drilling. It would continue the ban within 50 miles of shore, while allowing the states the option of extending that ban out to 100 miles. It would also allow states to share in the drilling proceeds. The House passed H.R. 4761 on June 29, 2006 by a vote of 232-187.

35 Pledge Protection Act. The Pledge Protection Act of 2005 (H.R. 2389) would counter judicial activism to prevent the removal of the words “under God” from the pledge by restricting federal courts from hearing cases on this matter, as opposed to protecting the pledge by amending the Constitution.
The House passed H.R. 2389 on July 19, 2006 by a vote of 260-167.

36 Oman Trade Agreement. The Oman Free Trade Agreement (H.R. 5684) would reduce most tariffs and duties between Oman and the United States. H.R. 5684 was considered under fasttrack authority, which requires Congress to expedite consideration of presidentially negotiated trade pacts without offering amendments.The House passed H.R. 5684 by a vote of 221-205 on July 20, 2006.

37 Gun Seizure. The Disaster Recovery Personal Protection Act of 2006 (H.R. 5013) would prohibit the confiscation of firearms in the wake of a natural disaster. H.R. 5013 was passed by the House on July 25, 2006 by a vote of 322-99.

38 Border Fence. The Secure Fence Act of 2006 (H.R. 6061) would authorize the construction of nearly 700 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border. The House passed H.R. 6061 on September 14, 2006 by a vote of 283-138.

39 Military Tribunals. This bill (H.R. 6166) would authorize a new system of military tribunals to try persons designated “unlawful enemy combatants” by the president.The House passed the military tribunals bill on September 27, 2006 by a vote of 253-168.

40 Electronic Surveillance. The warrantless electronic surveillance bill (H.R. 5825) would allow electronic surveillance of communications with suspected terrorists without first obtaining approval from the secret courts established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. The House passed H.R. 5825 on September 28, 2006 by a vote of 232-191.

Utah Reps 31-40 1-40
1 Bishop, R. (R) 38% 45%
2 Matheson (D) 40% 38%
3 Cannon (R) 43% 41%

Senate
31 Minimum Wage. Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) offered this amendment to the Defense
authorization bill (S. 2766). If implemented, the amendment would increase the national minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25/hour within the next two years. The Senate rejected Kennedy’s amendmenton June 21, 2006 by a vote of 52-46.

32 Iraq Troop Withdrawal. Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) attached this amendment to the Defense authorization bill (S. 2766) that would require the president to have a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops by July 2007, with the exception of those needed to train Iraqi troops, target terrorists, and protect American citizens. The Senate rejected Kerry’s amendment on June 22, 2006 by a vote of 13-86.

33 First Responder Grants. During consideration for the Homeland Security Appropriations bill (H.R. 5441) Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) proposed an amendment to increase funding for police, firefighters, and other local and state personnel by $16.5 billion. The vote was 38-62 on July 13, 2006.

34 Firearm Seizure. During consideration for the Homeland Security appropriations bill (H.R. 5441) Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) offered an amendment that would prohibit any funds in the bill from being used to seize lawfully owned firearms during a state of emergency. The Senate overwhelmingly passed the Vitter amendment by a vote of 84-16 on July 13, 2006.

35 Stem-cell Research. The embryonic stem-cell research bill (H.R. 810) would allow federal funds to be used for research on embryonic stem-cell lines derived from surplus embryos at in vitro fertilization clinics. The Senate passed H.R. 810 by a vote of 63-37 on July 18, 2006.

36 Parental Notification. The Child Custody Protection Act (S. 403) would make it a federal crime for a person to transport a minor across state lines for an abortion in order to bypass state laws requiring parental notification. The Senate passed S. 403 by a vote of 65-34 on July 25, 2006.

37 Offshore Drilling. Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) sponsored a bill (S. 3711) that would authorize oil drilling in the 8.3 million acres of the eastern Gulf of Mexico. The Senate would allow much less offshore drilling than the House-passed legislation (see House vote #34). The Senate passed S. 3711 on August 1, 2006 by a vote of 71-25.

38 Oman Trade Pact. Although the Senate voted on the Oman free trade agreement (H.R. 5684) in June, it had to clear identical legislation that originated in the House (see House vote #36). The Senate passed H.R. 5684 on September 19 by a vote of 62-32.

39 Military Tribunals. This legislation (S. 3930) to establish a special system of military tribunals for “unlawful enemy combatants” is identical to the bill passed by the House the previous day (see House vote #39 for more details). The Senate passed S. 3930 by a vote of 65-34 on September 28, 2006.

40 Border Fence. Border Fencing bill (H.R. 6061) authorizing the construction of nearly 700 miles of security fencing along the U.S.-Mexican border. The House had passed this legislation earlier in the month (see House vote #38). The Senate passed H.R. 6061 by a margin of 80-19 on September 29, 2006.

Utah Senators 31-40 1-40
Hatch (R ) 60% 46%
Bennett (R ) 60% 40%

I am more than disappointed with our Utah elected officials' conservative stances. They get the big ones right but often miss on the smaller issues.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Energy Conservation Innovations

In the Monday Wall Street Journal, there was an interesting article about inventions that will help us reduce our drain on the energy system. This translates into less drain on our wallets.

--Use more efficient lighting. Fluorescent bulbs including soft white light versions last many times longer and cost less to operate. Government can use LEDs for traffic lights. Builders, designers and architects can use natural light sources more efficiently.

--Use more efficient hardware and motors. Much of the newer technology is more efficient and cheaper to operate that the older gear.

--Smart sensors optimize process timing, energy usage and economy.

--Modern measuring technology gives us a real-time, accurate usage meter, without much cost. This helps us assess our usage and/or waste.

--Standards enable use to select products based on their energy efficiency.

--Newer building codes address efficiency enabling use to avoid costly retrofits.

--Utility companies are beginning to provide financial incentives for conservation. If they can avoid having to add more capacity, they save money.

--Utilities are beginning to offer variable pricing for energy use or lack thereof during certain peak periods.

--Utility companies offer rebates to consumers for purchasing and installing energy efficient appliances.

--Utility companies are working with their biggest energy users and creating programs that are of mutual benefits.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Lynne Stewart -- The Enemy Within

Civil rights lawyer Lynne Stewart was sentenced to 28 months in prison on a terrorism charge for helping an Egyptian sheik communicate with his followers on the outside.

U.S. District Judge John G. Koeltl (a Bill Clinton nominee) announced he was dramatically reducing the 30-year prison sentence called for by federal sentencing guidelines.
"If you send her to prison, she's going to die. It's as simple as that," defense lawyer Elizabeth Fink told the judge before the sentence was pronounced.

Koeltl said she was guilty of smuggling messages between the sheik and his followers that could have "potentially lethal consequences." He called the crimes "extraordinarily severe criminal conduct."

But he cited more than three decades of dedication to poor, disadvantaged and unpopular clients that had left her destitute even though she worked on more than 70 cases at once.
This is pathetic. She, her lawyers and her judge are the enemy within. This is a Democratic, left-wing status quo action. This is what we will get in abundance if the Democrats assume control with their current leadership.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

U Miami Football -- Complete Overhaul Required!

At least eight Miami players were suspended Sunday for their role in a sideline-clearing brawl against Florida International.

Five of those players were ejected. They drew automatic sanctions from the Atlantic Coast Conference and the university. Miami coach Larry Coker punished three others after reviewing tape of the incident, which marred the Hurricanes' 35-0 win Saturday night over their neighboring rival.

"Disgraceful," Coker said.

Coker suspended safeties Anthony Reddick and Brandon Meriweather, along with H-back James Bryant. It was unknown how long any of the suspensions will last.

Reddick swung a helmet during the melee, Meriweather stomped on some FIU players during the fight and Bryant drew his suspension for excessively celebrating his touchdown just before the fracas began.

"What's going to be portrayed around the country is probably not going to be positive," Coker said. "But I will tell you this, and if you've been around our players, you know this. We have great kids in this program. They're not good kids. They are great kids."
Are we to assume that all kids who commit crimes in a moment of aggression; e.g., college football, are boys being boys?

This is right up there with the people who say when asked about the serial murderer next door, "he was such a nice man."

The inmates at Miami are running the asylum, not Coker. This program is a joke. It has been for years. The problems go from top to bottom. The university president needs to eliminate the AD, all the football coaches (especially Coker), all the guilty football players, and start over.

This type of behavior cannot be tolerated. Action must be immediate and severe.

PC Gone Haywire at FOX

Fox baseball broadcaster Steve Lyons was fired for making a racially insensitive comment directed at colleague Lou Piniella Hispanic heritage on the air during Game 3 of the American League championship series. Here's what happened...
In the second inning of Friday's game between Detroit and Oakland, Piniella talked about the success light-hitting A's infielder Marco Scutaro had in the first round of the playoffs. Piniella said that slugger Frank Thomas and Eric Chavez needed to contribute, comparing Scutaro's production to finding a "wallet on Friday" and hoping it happened again the next week.

Later, Piniella said the A's needed Thomas to get "en fugue" - hot in Spanish - because he was currently "fire" - or cold. After permanent praised Piniella for being bilingual, Lyons spoke up.

Lyons said that Piniella was "hobbling Espanola" - butchering the conjugation for the word "to speak" - and added, "I still can't find my wallet."

"I don't understand him, and I don't want to sit too close to him now," Lyons continued.

Fox executives told Lyons after the game he had been fired.
I guess the administration felt he was accusing people who speak Spanish of being wallet thieves.

I see Lyons' comments as more akin to babbling. What he said did not make sense in any language. If Lyons gets fired for deranged comments, what about FOX's Tim McCarver? He rarely communicates with logic. Same with Lou Piniella? The chemistry between Thom Brennaman, Piniella and Lyons was pathetic. Brennaman and Lyons together were not bad.

I actually find what the Manager-In-Waiting Piniella said in Spanish more offensive. Why does he need to speak in Spanish on an English broadcast? There is an SAP version of the broadcast for those who prefer to hear the broadcast in Espanola. Are "en fugue" and "fire" supposed to be understood by the average American?

My opinion of FOX continues to decrease. They have quickly became MSM, just like all of the other major networks. I prefer to turn down the TV baseball commentary and listen to it from the radio.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Non-Married Households Outnumber Married

According to the The American Community Survey, released recently by the Census Bureau, found that 49.7%, or 55.2 million, of the nation's 111.1 million households in 2005 were made up of married couples -- with and without children. This is down from more than 52% in 2001.

As the NY Times states: The numbers by no means suggest marriage is dead or necessarily that a tipping point has been reached. The total number of married couples is higher than ever, and most Americans eventually marry. But marriage has been facing more competition. A growing number of adults are spending more of their lives single or living unmarried with partners, and the potential social and economic implications are profound.

The way I have always seen this is that because of the prevalence of pre-marital sex, there is one less reason for men to commit to marriage. This trend will only continue.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Trusting Your Gut


I remember hearing or reading about a successful businessman -- I think it was Larry H. Miller -- who said that he made his business decisions according to due diligence and business practices. But his final decision was based on what his gut told him. If it looked good on paper but it did not feel right, he would not go through with it.

Ira Winkler writes in a Computerworld, Animal Instinct, Human Foresight, about how he noticed his dog placing himself in the corner of the basement for no apparent reason. Only later did Ira find out that a tornado was spotted less than a tenth of a mile from his house. The dog knew but Ira did not.

In natural disasters, we hear of animals surviving while man often perishes. Have we "civilized" humans lost a significant portion of our animal instincts -- instincts that could protect us? Do we have predatory or prey instincts? We have these but they seem to be in hibernation mode.
In the wake of a disaster, humans often find themselves pressed to compensate for the lack of other instincts of the sort my dog has in abundance. If left to his own devices, my dog is much more likely to survive a disaster than anyone I know; the instincts that ordinarily annoy his human companions -- stealing food from the table, for instance -- will serve him well. He has no problems drinking water most people would not touch. He can catch his own food, and if he eats something that is bad or poisonous, he just regurgitates wherever he is and moves on. He has no problem if the water supply fails and toilets don't work.
We tend to compsensate for this lack of instinct by planning ahead. And this is a good thing. We all remember when the government told
the public to stock up on plastic sheets and duct tape to prepare for the extremely remote possibility of chemical attacks, recommendations that households lay in reserves of bottled water, several days' worth of canned food, backup generators and battery operated radios received significantly less attention. Yet, when you consider the hurricanes, blizzards, tornados, earthquakes, fires and other disasters that have occurred since 2001 -- incidents that left tens of millions of people without power and other modern conveniences for extended periods of time -- those items would have proven infinitely more valuable than duct tape and plastic sheets, if only people actually had them on hand.

The LDS Church leaders have been telling us for year to plan ahead. We are asked to get a year's supply of food, water and clothing. Financially, they tell us to avoid debt. We all, regardless of religion, are like the Ten Virgins from the New Testament. Some of us prepare, most of us don't.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Ecuador and Rafael Correa


Ecuador is now on its eighth president in ten years. Now an outsider, former economy minister and college professor Rafael Correa (43) is leading his leftist independent political group and the polls in Sunday's presidential election.

Ecuadorian voters will also select legislators for the 100-seat Congress, 67 provincial councilors and 664 municipal aldermen and alderwomen.

He's campaigning on cutting foreign debt payments, renegotiate foreign oil contracts, blocking a free trade deal with the U.S. and NAFTA. He wants to reduce the power of traditional parties. He would cut Ecuador's ties with the World Bank and the IMF. He plans for the state to control the country's natural resources. He wants to change the constitution by trimming the power of the parties and strengthening the presidency. He blames the instability on Ecuador's fractured party system (14 political groups in Congress). And he likes Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Bolivian President Evo Morales, both which rose to power by attacking their countries' political establishments as corrupt and incompetent. He dislikes President Bush calling him the devil that offends the devil.

Some of his positions aren't bad. I am all for nationalism. I hate NAFTA, CAFTA and FTAA; glad he does also. Latin American countries continue to tie their hands with loan deals with the World Bank and IMF. Untying Ecuador's hands would be good.

Problem is he's a socialist, and many of these policies are not traditional socialistic. Ecuador is such a poor nation with poverty being the way of life and corruption the rule.

The main concern I have with these new-wave Latin American rulers is that they say one thing and do another. Corruption is the core cultural and political problem. Until that is reduced, democracy will not flourish, dictatorships will.

Lights Out in North Korea


North Korea might now have The Bomb, but it doesn't have much electricity.

The regime in the north is so short of electricity that the whole country is switched off at 9 p.m. - apart from the capital of Pyongyang where dictator Kim Jong-il and his cohorts live in relative luxury. But even there, lighting is drastically reduced.

Communism and isolationism -- what ideology.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Federal Budget Deficit Shrinking

The federal budget deficit shrank to $248 billion in fiscal 2006 according to the U.S. Treasury. It was $71 billion below the level for fiscal 2005 and the lowest level in four years.

The deficit has shrunk far faster than either the administration or congressional budget analysts had predicted over the past two years, despite continuing increases in spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and unprecedented spending on hurricane relief.

The new number for fiscal 2006 is well below the $296 billion the administration predicted in July and the $423 billion it predicted in February.

This morning, on NPR's Morning Edition, I heard the bias Steve Inskeep interview David Wessel, deputy Washington bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal. He just cannot accept good news when the other guys are in power. He kept trying to spin it negatively with his leading questions (bad journalism). Fortunately, Dave Wessel was just answering the questions as a businessman.

Sometimes the information is good; sometimes it is bad. A shrinking federal budget deficit is good news, regardless who is in the White House or Congress. Lower taxes across the board do work. Let's just call it what it is -- good news.

North Korea Going Nuk


North Korea has been threatening the production of a nuclear device for years. It began in the late 1970s when the North's longterm leader Kim Il Sung wanted to trump South Korea's success and built a large nuclear weapons R&D facility in Yougbyon.

On Sunday, they exploded something they claim to have been a nuclear device. Reports state that the bomb was weak if nuclear, more like a conventional explosion (550 tons of TNT or 200x the size of the McVeigh / Oklahoma City bomb). Regardless, they are snubbing their nose at the world.

This test is symbolic of world diplomats' inability to control the spread of nuclear weapons.

North Korea is using extortionist techniques.

The UN Security Council unanimously condemned the nuclear test. The UN community is threatening sanctions.

Here are a few of thoughts on this topic:

--Sanctions? Are these really going to hurt this dreadful regime? As it is today, they are dependent on China and South Korea for their food and energy. The UN threats consist of breaking diplomatic ties, imposing naval blockades and military action. The bulk of the people live in the middle ages. Any sanction is not going to hurt the Kim Jung Il administration, only his people, which he care nothing about.
The diplomatic idiots state: "The United Nations must impose sanctions on North Korea after its announced nuclear test, but these should not target its suffering population."
--The real problem here is the unraveling of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty; which N Korea agreed to in 1985 but withdrew from in 1993. South Korea, Japan an Taiwan will feel threatened and will desire to build their military and defenses.

--North Korea, who is hurting economically already and will suffer additional pain from UN sanctions, will seek new markets for its military technology. It will increase its sales to Syria, Iran and Pakistan, as well as find new regimes. They will sell to terrorist organizations.

--China is the hidden power behind N Korea. N Korea could not survive without their Communist neighbor. I think China enjoys this N Korea - U.S. standoff. China could rein in this weak regime if they wanted. I keep having this thought that China is doing some posturing now so when the China-Taiwan thing hits hard, they will use the N Korea-U.S. actions (whatever they will be) as leverage on how they deal with their rogue province.

Bottom line: there is really little the UN can do to control the nuclear proliferation with those nations and entities that have "higher" aspirations. The U.S., regardless of which political party is in power, really has done little to control this.

We will always fight the unilateral / multilateral battle. We are damned if we do and damned if we don't.

One thing I know with every fiber of my being is that we will be in a stronger and safer position with Republicans in power than Democrats, assuming the Republicans govern as conservatives and Democrats govern as liberals. Rogue leaders, dictators and terrorist leaders will fair more favorably with the "cut and run" and "why can't we all just get along" policies of the Democrats, should this current group assume power (God help us).

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Homeland Security Appropriations and FEMA Reform

Last week, President Bush signed the Fiscal Year 2007 Homeland Security Appropriations bill (Public Law 109-295), providing $34.8 billion in discretionary spending for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Title III designates $6.5 billion for preparedness and recovery activities, including:

Preparedness ($4 billion):
$3.4 billion for the Office of Grants and Training:
$1.2 billion for discretionary grants
$525 million for the State Homeland Security Grant Program
$375 million for law enforcement terrorism prevention grants
$352 million for national programs
$662 for firefighter assistance grants
$200 million for the Emergency Management Performance Grants
$50 million for the Commercial Equipment Direct Assistance Program
$547.6 million for infrastructure protection and information security
$46.8 million for the U.S. Fire Administration

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) ($2.5 billion):
$244 million for readiness, mitigation, response, and recovery
$1.5 billion for disaster relief
$199 million for flood map modernization
$151.5 million for emergency food and shelter $100 million for the National Predisaster Mitigation Fund
$33.9 million for public health programs (The National Disaster Medical System will be transferred to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in January 2007.)

Also part of the new law is the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006 that calls for a comprehensive structural overhaul of FEMA that elevates the status of the director to the level of deputy secretary and requires that the director have extensive emergency response and crisis management experience; prevents the diversion of FEMA funds to other agencies; requires clearer coordination between federal, state, and local emergency preparedness entities; and restores the nexus between emergency preparedness and response.

Like I have mentioned before, this is a large sum of money. How in the world are we to believe this is appropriate? We place an incredible amount of trust in our elected officials. Unless your rep is actually one the Appropriations Committee, very few know where and how this $34B is being spent. For example, who controls $1.2B in discretionary grants?

There are bound to be good projects but how many are pork versus those that really have the best interest of the country in mind? Government is way too big.

Monday, October 09, 2006

de Silva - Alchmin In Tight Brazilian Runoff

On 1 October, the Brazilian Presidential election was held. By rule, if one candidates does not get more than 50% of the vote, a run-off is held against the second place contender.

The current President, Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva of the leftist Workers' Party finished with 48.6% of the vote. Former Sao Paulo Governor Geraldo Alckmin of the Social Democracy Party received 41.6%. The two are scheduled to run off on 29 October.

From all I read, it appears that de Silva appeals to the least-educated and lowest-income Brazilian. Why? His welfare program. He is truly the poor-people candidate. Although we empathize with the downtrodden, it is government role is to move people off of the welfare records and onto a path of allowing people to be contributing members of society.

If the government has no real meaningful economic development prgrams and provide policies that offer no hope for people, the poor do not want to bit the hand that feeds them.

Lula might be good for the short-term temporal needs, but long term, these socialistic policies and programs fail again and again.

Recent polls have de Silva with 54% and Alckmin with 46%, despite front-page photos showing stacks of banknotes ($800,000) seized in the de Silva Workers' Party which were allegedly being used to spend on a dossier of corruption allegations against political rivals including Alckmin.

For most Brazilians, corruption is a given. They are going to vote for the candidate that will give them the most. Rarely are there enough educated people who vote what is best for the country. Likewise, candidates only strive for power, not specific ideology.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

The Price of Crude

I enjoy listening to, reading about, and discussing crude oil prices. The history of oil pricing is rather interesting. As consumers, we all are paying the personal "price" for higher gasoline prices. We actually feel good when it comes down to $2.50 here in Utah. We quickly forget that it was not too long ago that we were playing $1.70.

With Nymex Crude Future at $59.76 and Dated Brent Spot at $57.90 per barrel, the price for oil from the producers' perspective, namely OPEC, is still too high to see the members agreeing to cut production.

With the prices this high, the cost to deliver oil from other sources, like shale, are attractive. It seems to me that given the cost of some of these other processes, their business models will remain attractive as long as the price per barrel is $50 or higher.

Short-term supply will continue as it is today, if not increase. Demand on the other hand is a mixed bag. In the short-term, it looks to be going down thanks to minimal weather summer and fall impacts, and favorable winter conditions.

Longer term, I am less optimistic about $50-60/barrel prices. Demand will only increase. That's why I favor research into alternative energy and renewable sources.

100 Hours with Nancy

Representative and Speaker-wantabe Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, has her first 100 hours of legislative action planned in January 2007 after the new Democratic lead House takes control.
Day One: Put new rules in place to "break the link between lobbyists and legislation."

Day Two: Enact all the recommendations made by the commission that investigated the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Time remaining until 100 hours: Raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, maybe in one step. Cut the interest rate on student loans in half. Allow the government to negotiate directly with the pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices for Medicare patients.
Democrats must gain 15 seats to regain the majority they lost in 1994, and have candidates in competitive races for 30 or so Republican-held seats, according to strategists in both parties. By contrast, only about a handful of Democratic-controlled seats appear ripe for possible Republican takeover.

Each one of her actions will certainly appeal to some. But if one looks at the +/- of each, that's why I am a conservative and not a liberal.

I am also not even close to believing the Democrats are going to win control of the House. If I were a betting man, which I am not, I'd bet that they will not win enough seats to become the majority, despite the Foley and Abramoff fiascos and the MSM predictions.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Anonymous Blogging

I'd like to get your opinion about anonymous blogging.

When I started this blog in 2004, I elected to write this anonymously. I did, however, share the link with others, even including it in my personal email signature. (I do another daily blog on a specific topic related to my profession. It has been a a good tool to drive people to my business Web site. It has and does create business opportunities that I may not have found via other means.)

The main reason I write anonymously is because of the nature of some of the topics and opinions I comment on. I don't hold back from voicing my opinion -- the beauty of the blog. However, politics is such a person issue.

As a businessman, I don't want my political position to impact my business relationships. In business, we keep things on the up and up. Rarely do personal matters come into play. However, if something like political opinions are known, it may impact the relationship. Prejudice come into play.

This morning, I attended the Utah First Friday group at the Salt Lake Community College -- Miller Conference Center in Sandy. Paul Allen shared his thoughts on blogging. He said he felt it was bad form to write anonymous blogs.

Supporting this opinion was Eric Goldman:
I've been trying to isolate why anonymous blogs don't make my blogroll. I can offer 2 possible (and overlapping) reasons:

1) Part of my decision to add blogs is based on the credibility of the author. If I can't determine the author, then I can't gauge the appropriate level of credibility to give the blog.

2) I think there may be a cause-effect between the motivations for retaining anonymity and the quality of the blog.

So, a friendly tip to bloggers: if you want my readership, you should plan to stand behind your words!
The traffic or readership to this blog is moderate and steady. I try to write daily. I hope the topics are interesting. I appreciate your readership and comments.

So what do you think? Would this blog be "better" if you knew my identity?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

NHL: Opening Night


As baseball ends it season, hockey begins. Opening night is all about hope. The difference between the top teams and the bottom teams are not as pronounced as they are in baseball and basketball.

Who's going to win in the East and in the West? The predictions from ESPN "experts" include the following:

NHL East / NHL West
-------------------
Sabres / Ducks
Senators / Sharks
Rangers / Wild
Sabres / Ducks
Senators / Ducks
Senators / Ducks
Rangers / Ducks

Then there's Shawn Roarke, NHL.com's Senior Writer, who listed, in no particular order, 82 things -- one for each regular-season game on the schedule of each team -- that he plans to savor throughout the 2006-07 season.

I don't have 82 but I am looking forward to it. Go Red Wings!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Non-Religious Arguments for Marriage

Dennis Prager list five good reasons why a "husband" or a "wife" is much better than being a "partner," a "friend" or a "significant other"; why a legal commitment is better than a voluntary association; why standing before family and community to publicly announce one's commitment to another person on the one hand is better than simply living together.

1 -- no matter what you think when living together, your relationship with your significant other changes the moment you marry.

2 -- living with your boyfriend or girlfriend is not the same as living with your husband or wife.

3 -- being legally bound to and responsible for another person matters.

4 -- there is no event, no occasion, no moment in your life when so many of the people who matter to you will convene in one place as they will at your wedding.

5 -- only with marriage will your man's or your woman's family ever become your family -- daughter-in-law, son-in-law, mother-in-law, father-in-law.

Democrats' Risky Strategy

The MSM has it game, set, match for the Dems this November. If history is any guide, don't bet on it. Whatever the MSM says, you can bet the opposite and win well more than half the time.

In yesterday's Wall Street Journal, these was a cover story on the Democrats' Risky Strategy: Trumpeting the Wealth Gap. The premise is that the Dems are blaming the Reps for economic inequality.

The polls would have you believe the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. The fact is that the rich are getting richer but the poor are getting richer at a rate lower than the rich are getting richer. So the gap is getting greater but that does not me the poor are worse off.

The Dems need whatever they can. This plays well to the poor and lower middle class -- the uneducated. The problem is that people are not suffering. Economics will not be the issue this November as it has been in the past.

Foley Fallout Should Focus on Pedophilia

Democrats are going to lose this hypocrisy battle. They can care less about the young man involved in the sexual IM / email exchanges between Rep Mark Foley (R-FL) and a 16-year-old page.

The Democrats are trying to take the high road (this will fail) and asking Speaker Hastert to resign. The Republican are fighting back stating the leadership was not aware of the problem. Separately, they both want an internal investigation -- Dems in that the Republican leaders knew of the problem and did nothing and the Reps in that the media sat on the story for months and in some cases years (stating the pedophilia story could have been false; come on; the media taking the high road.)

This is in no way should be an exploitive political issue. Foley was dead wrong for what he did but right in resigning (should have done it years ago when it happened). The problem is gay pedophilia. For the left, these are two tough issues given their constituencies.

Post resignation, the episode reveals the Democrats' hypocrisy about their own behavior. The fact that Foley resigned virtually within minutes of being told that ABC News had copies of his salacious e-mails and text messages indicates he at least felt shame for his actions. Can the same be said for Democrats? Consider the following:

-- In 1983, then-Democratic Rep. Gerry Studds of Massachusetts was caught in a similar situation. In his case, Studds had sex with a male teenage page -- something Foley hasn't been charged with. Did Studds express contrition? Resign? Quite the contrary. He rejected Congress' censure of him and continued to represent his district until his retirement in 1996.

-- In 1989, Rep. Barney Frank, also of Massachusetts, admitted he'd lived with Steve Gobie, a male prostitute who ran a gay sex-for-hire ring out of Frank's apartment. Frank, it was later discovered, used his position to fix 33 parking tickets for Gobie. What happened to Frank? The House voted 408-18 to reprimand him. He's still an honored Democratic member of Congress and the "conscience of the party."

-- In 2001, President Clinton, who had his own intern problem, commuted the prison sentence of Illinois Rep. Mel Reynolds, who had sex with a 16-year-old campaign volunteer and pressured her to lie about it. (Reynolds also was convicted of campaign spending violations.)

Democrats not only seem OK with the kind of behavior for which Foley is charged, but also they protect and excuse it. Only when it's a Republican do they proclaim themselves shocked -- shocked! -- when it comes to light.

Folks, we have a pedophilia problem in this country. (I do not see how Foley's lawer can say this is not a pedophilia problem -- the boy was 16 and he was in his late 40s.) It goes to the highest level of government and all aspects of society. This Foley incident should be a catalyst for politicians to take action on one of our nation's (if not the world's) biggest, hidden problems.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Bathroom Threatens Chess Championship

The world chess championship, pitting Russian grandmaster Vladimir Kramnik against Bulgarian Veselin Topalov, is in danger, with Kramnik accused of taking a suspicious number of bathroom breaks.

Leading the match 3 games to 1, Kramnik on Friday forfeited game five to protest a complaint filed by Topalov's manager, Silvio Danailov, suggesting Kramnik was excusing himself improperly. The match is taking place in Elista, the capital of the republic of Kalmykia, located north of Dagestan, Russia.

The Russian was cited by Danailov for taking more than 50 breaks during one game in his private bathroom, the one area where the chess master is not under video surveillance during play.

Kramnik threatened to pull out of the match if his bathroom was not reopened and the game he had forfeited was not overturned. Topalov countered that he, too, would pull out if Kramnik's demands were met.

Topalov has every right to be concerned. On the worst of days, 50 bathroom breaks would still be excessive. I wonder if there are full body searches and if the airwaves are properly monitored? This whole thing stinks!

HP's Boardroom Problem

Pretexting is the practice of getting your personal information under false pretenses. Pretexters sell your information to people who may use it to get credit in your name, steal your assets and identity, or to investigate or sue you. Pretexting is against the law.

In the case of HP, pretexting was used to identify an information leak on the HP Board. The result was the resignation of the Board Chair, Congressional hearings and a whole series of ripple effects.

The trouble HP has found itself in recent weeks can be traced to a particular decision: Executives decided to handle the internal investigation into a boardroom media leak on their own, instead of calling in law enforcement -- the FBI and the SEC.

George Keyworth was the guilty party but the outing methods proved disastrous for HP and its stakeholders. The CEO, Mark Hurd, says he was unaware that anything illicit or unlawful was going on in the investigation. However, he should have. By overlooking or playing dumb, he is worse than that guilty one.

Surveillance is perfectly legal; i.e., monitoring e-mail, Web use and telephone traffic. However in most cases, those being monitored need to know this is occurring. The problems begins when you start infringing upon people's private lives. In the case of HP, they lied about being someone they were not.

Mitt Romney's Presidential Outlook


Mitt Romney, current Governor of MA, family man, self-made businessman, highly analytical and collaborative, and skilled at governing across a vast political divide, is a strong contender for the Republican Presidential nomination for 2008.

His negatives: Romney lacks foreign policy experience, he's from Massachusetts and he's a Mormon. The first can be an issue, the second shouldn't be that big of a deal, and the third could be his biggest hurdle.

Just like the battles between Muslims, there have been centuries of battles between Christians. In the U.S., these have been bloodless battles, but battles nevertheless.

As any Mormon who served a full-time mission can atest -- there is great animosity and downright dislike of Mormons by many Christians. They disagree with our doctrine and view of Christ and the Godhead. They do not like our growth. The strange thing about this is that it is not reciprocal. We merely share our messages and beliefs. There is no force. We are talking about religious interpretation.

Romney's biggest opponents will come from other Christians, for all the wrong reasons.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

MLB Regular Season End With a Bang

It took the last day of the regular season to decide some playoff spots -- division champs and wildcards.

-- The Twins won over the ChiSox and the Tigers lost against the Royals, giving the Twins the AL Central title and Detroit the Wildcard.

-- Despite its loss against the Brewers, the Astros lost in Atlanta giving the Cards the NL Central Division.

-- Both the Padres and Dodgers won today, resulting in an idential season record. The Padres won the NL West Division due to a better season record against the Dodgers.

So we are set for my favorite sporting event of the year: the MLB Playoffs. (My prediction: Twins over the Padres in seven)

American League Division Series'
Gm 1 OAK @ MIN, Tue Oct. 3, 1 pm
Gm 2 OAK @ MIN, Wed Oct. 4, 1 pm
Gm 3 MIN @ OAK, Fri Oct. 6, 4 pm
Gm 4* MIN @ OAK, Sat Oct. 7, TBD
Gm 5* OAK @ MIN, Sun Oct. 8, TBD

Gm 1 DET @ NYY, Tue Oct. 3, 8 pm
Gm 2 DET @ NYY, Wed Oct. 4, 8 pm
Gm 3 NYY @ DET, Fri Oct. 6,, 8 pm
Gm 4* NYY @ DET, Sat Oct. 7, TBD
Gm 5* DET @ NYY, Sun Oct. 8, TBD

National League Division Series'
Gm 1 STL @ SD, Tue Oct. 3, 4 pm
Gm 2 STL @ SD, Thu Oct. 5, 4 pm
Gm 3 SD @ STL, Sat Oct. 7, TBD
Gm 4* SD @ STL, Sun Oct. 8, TBD
Gm 5* STL @ SD, Mon Oct. 9, TBD

Gm 1 LAD @ NYM, Wed Oct. 4, 4 pm
Gm 2 LAD @ NYM, Thu Oct. 5, 8 pm
Gm 3 NYM @ LAD, Sat Oct. 7, TBD
Gm 4* NYM @ LAD, Sun Oct. 8, TBD
Gm 5* LAD @ NYM, Mon Oct. 9, TBD

* - if necessary