Monday, December 31, 2007

Republican Nominee

The primaries are upon us. I sure wish we'd move these back into spring and make the conventions worth something. They are not worth the time and effort. They should be reduced to one day under the current voting process -- there is no strategy or anticipation, only boredom and inevitableness.

In the primaries, I firmly believe one should never vote for the person one thinks can win in the national election. Rather, one should vote for the person he feels has the best stance on the issues and demonstrates the best possible leadership for this nation.

The person I think will do the best, of those who are officially running for the Presidency, is Duncan Hunter. His core principles are more in line with mine than any other candidates. I agree with his positions on key issues including Right to Life, Judicial Appointments, Marriage, Educational Choice and Home Schooling, Hate Crimes & Sexual Orientation, Second Amendment, Tax Relief and Tax Cuts, Marriage Penalty Tax, Alternative Minimum Tax, Antiquated Taxes, Balanced Budget, Property Rights/Eminent Domain, Federal Obscenity Laws, Gambling, National Endowment of the Arts, Health Care Reform, Foreign Policy Issues, Illegal Immigration, United Nations and Trade.

I also like Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson, although not as much as I like Hunter. I feel these three are the closest to the conservative positions on the whole.

I do not favor Rudy Giuliani (still can't believe he's a Republican), John McCain (great American, poor Senator, absolutely lousy Republican) or Mike Huckabee (though I did at one time). These candidates are all center-left -- they are good on a few conservative issues but lack backbone and consistency in conservative principles. They are to the right of Clinton, Obama and Edwards but that's not saying much.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Mitchell Report

I have been thinking about and listening to commentary and denial from those accused since The Report to the Commissioner of Baseball of an Independent Investigation into the Illegal Use of Steroids and Other Performance Enhancing Substances by Players in Major League Baseball, the Mitchell Report, was released. In short:
For more than a decade there has been widespread illegal use of anabolic steroids and other performance enhancing substances by players in Major League Baseball, in violation of federal law and baseball policy. The response by baseball was slow to develop and was initially ineffective, but it gained momentum after the adoption of a mandatory random drug testing program in 2002. The use of human growth hormone has risen because, unlike steroids, it is not detectable through urine testing. This report, the product of an intensive investigation, describes how and why this
problem emerged.
Of the around 80 players named, a few have record and Hall of Fame implications: Andy Pettitte, Miguel Tejada, Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. (Mark Mcguire and Sammy Sosa were not mentioned.)

There is no doubt in my mind these players were involved in injecting some performance-enhancing drug into their bodies. Whether is was for rapid healing or strength-promoting, they were all guilty. I also believe this is a partial list only -- that their are other players involved but their identity was not discovered or there was not enough evidence to disclose their names.

This effort by MLB to control the problem is weak at best. The owners don't care about drug use. They care about paid-for seats, concessions, team-logo gear and media rights. The Mitchell Report is a PR effort exclusively.

What it does is vindicate certain players, namely Bonds. If Clemens gets into the Hall of Fame, then there is no justifiable reason Bonds should not be allowed also.

Athletes do whatever they can to get and stay at the top. It is their livelihood. There is too much money to do otherwise.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Pakistan Matters


For the past three years since I have writing this Web log, I have provided some opinion on Pakistan. Pakistan matters.

A nuclear nation with 165 million people, 97 percent of them Muslim, they are in the middle of the global war on terror. If only one percent of the people consider themselves extremists, that's a large number of extremists. Everyone of those 1-2 million people hate America and would love to see every single one of us (non-Muslims) dead.

Even though al-Qaeda is taking credit and appears to be getting credit, this is terrorism at its "finest." Regardless of how Mrs. Bhutto died yesterday, the extremists benefit from anarchy -- anything not resembling a democracy.

Musharaf has his work cut out for him. I do not think his assignation "forensics" results are going to appease the masses. Public distrust for him is a given -- he lead a coup. Too bad he did not engage America, Britain and Russia specialists in the investigation yesterday.

He should postpone the parlimentary elections for a few weeks. Bhutto's party needs time to nominate a new party leader.

A stable Pakistan matters. Musharaf may not be the ideal leader but he has done a decent job give what he has to work with. He has not solved the militant Islam problem in the western provinces. Al-Qaeda likes it that way. Terrorist can only succeed if anarchy rules. The media hopes so; but I don't.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Mountain West Conference Bowls

Three down and two to go.

Utah started it offer in San Diego in the Poinsettia Bowl. Navy was a formidable foe. Navy owned the first half, Utah the second, almost allowing the Midshipmen back in. What is amazing is that Utah has won seven straight bowl games. They'll be stronger next year with few graduating seniors; should battle BYU for the MWC title again.

New Mexico dominated Nevada in their own bowl game -- the New Mexico Bowl -- winning 23-0. Congrats to the Lobos in their first even bowl victory.

Although not a BYU fan, I do pull for MWC teams during bowl season and most out-of-conference games. BYU is really making me mad with their luck. It is bound to balance out. Last year beating Utah on a last second play and this year, getting a first down deep in their own territory on a 4th and 18 and going to win a game they almost allowed Utah to win (BYU outplayed the Utes). UCLA, not that good of a team this year, seems to match up well against BYU. All UCLA had to do was make a chip-shot field goal. But as the corny BYU players said, "we never give up and knew we could do it." How many chip-shots are blocked or missed? Very few. BYU got lucky. BYU hung on to win the Las Vegas Bowl 17-16. Good for them and their players; too bad for UCLA.

We still have TCU playing Houston in the Texas Bowl and Air Force taking on Cal in the Armed Forces Bowl. I like the MWC but hate their TV contract...worse contract for fans ever created.

Update: The MWC finished their bowl campaign 4-1: TCU beat Houston in the Texas Bowl but Air Force lost in the Armed Forces Bowl to Cal.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Bali Climate Agreement

Kyoto accord for climate control was not ratified by the U.S. (thankfully) because there was no teeth in it -- developing countries had no reason to control emissions. The Bali agreement engages all countries in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, among a full range of other pollutants.

I have no problem with businesses and governments attempting to do their parts at creating a cleaner and more hospitable world. No one wants to live in pollution. However, the whole motivation behind these environmentalists groups and summits is based on the assumption that man has caused the warming of the earth and man, from some recent arbitrary point in normative time, can fix it.

We can reduce our greenhouse gas emissions but it is not going to have any impact on global climate. To assume that people of the world wants some arbitrary emissions target by some years is egotistical. Both are wishful thinking at best.

What has caught my eye during these discussions is how easy it is for environmentalists to blame the wealthy for all of society's problems and assume they are the ones that should cover the costs.

Environmentalists tend to think government is the answer to all problems. They want to see higher taxes and larger and more extensive governmental program. On the local stage, they want the wealthy citizens to cover a bigger burden of the costs (they already do). On the international stage, they want the wealthy nations to cover the costs. They are good at spending other people's money.

Environmentalism, as it has become defined by the MSM, is liberalism. When it comes down to it, they want someone else to solve the problem; i.e., pay for it. They are great at playing the vicarious victim of the earth. Unfortunately, they are doing a good job.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Declaration of Religious Beliefs

An interesting Letter to the Editor appeared in the 14 December Wall Street Journal. Barry Augenbraum from St. Petersburg, FL, like a many people, feels Romney's speech should have focused more on social Mormonism facts like marriage, tithing, service and the Word of Wisdom. These are things most non-Mormons can appreciate. When the speech mentions Jesus Christ, even once, that is out of bounds. Why?

Romney said in his Faith in America speech: "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind." Mr. Augenbraum said he would "never vote for a candidate who believes that he should be making that message part of his qualification for president."

The lives of Mormons are tightly coupled with its doctrines. Christ is the center of our faith. All other things are appendages. We marry for time and all eternity, pay tithing, render service and obey the Word of Wisdom because of our faith in Christ and his teachings.

Those that share Mr. Augenbraum's opinion either prefer a non-believing President or one that keeps his beliefs to him or herself. The more we know about a candidate, the more informed we will be.

Mr. Augenbraum, who claims to be of a serious religious commitment, appears to have a problem with admitted Christians. Are silent ones okay?

Serious religions can span from satanists, Wiccas, pagans, Voodooist, supremacist groups and environmentalists to Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Catholicism and Southern Baptists. Should candidates disclose their religion or lack thereof? If they do, are questions related to their specific beliefs reasonable?

America is a nation founded, in part, on freedom of religion, allowing all men to worship how, where, or what they may. The bulk of the founders were religious, namely Christians. It is refreshing to hear a national leader and serious presidential candidate declare his or her religious beliefs. A doctinal disertation is not required or desired.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Global CO2 Tax

Every religious organization needs funds in order to operate. Most use member donations; i.e., tithing. But for those that adhere to the religion of environmentalism, they try to get their money through government means, namely taxation.

At the UN Climate Conference in Bali -- their religious retreat -- some are proposing a global tax on carbon dioxide emissions in order to save the Earth from catastrophic man-made global warming. Yea, right.
Finally someone will pay for these [climate related] costs,” Othmar Schwank, a global tax advocate, told Inhofe EPW Press Blog following the panel discussion titled “A Global CO2 Tax.” Schwank is a consultant with the Switzerland based Mauch Consulting firm. [Put in any environmental associate you'd like...Algore or gravitas-possessing, UN lover.]

Schwank said at least “$10-$40 billion dollars per year” could be generated by the tax, and wealthy nations like the U.S. would bear the biggest burden based on the “polluters pay principle.”

The U.S. and other wealthy nations need to “contribute significantly more to this global fund,” Schwank explained. He also added, “It is very essential to tax coal.”
The haves vs the have-nots. They desire to steal from the rich and give to the poor, or said another way, to their personal bank accounts and power bases.

Environmental church members, like those associated with the Friends of the Earth, advocate the transfer of money from rich to poor nations.
“A climate change response must have at its heart a redistribution of wealth and resources,” said Emma Brindal, a climate justice campaigner coordinator for Friends of the Earth.
Lunatics. Environmental wackos. Liberals.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Algore Bashing America in Bali

The first thing that came to my mind when I heard Algor ranting in Bali was "dipwad."
"My own country, the United States, is principally responsible for obstructing progress here in Bali."
To think that America is trying to stop the Asian, Africans and Europeans from taking their own actions to reduce their so-called global footprint is foolish. They can believe and do what they want.

I know there are people who buy into the rant hook, line and sinker -- those members of the church of global warming or the religion of environmentalism. They will believe that his speech will go down in history as an oratorical milestone in the fight against global warming. But I believe the exact opposite. I believe they are lunatics.

America should do what is the best interest of America. Thankfully, Algore does not speak for America, although he thinks he does. It is beyond comprehension why half of those voting in 2000 voted for this man. I can only assume that the majority of those people dislike Bush more. But Algor? The guy's either mental -- George Costanza's "its not a lie if you believe it" -- or a con artist.

His man-made global warming con will go down in history as one of the greatest cons ever. He wins an Oscar (for propaganda), the Nobel Peace Prize (peace?), and venture capital fund (his greatest prize) for bogus claims and politically-motivated science.

As a Clinton protégé, as soon as he leaves America and gets an international audience, he feels it is his right to bad mouth his homeland. Algore is not only a con artist and lunatic but also a sell-out.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Medvedev as Putin's Successor


Dmitry Medvedev is Vadimir Putin's heir apparent, the probable next President of Russia.

The 42 year old Leningrad State University-educated lawyer has been part of the Putin's KGB and St. Petersburg insiders since he began working with Putin in 1991 in St. Petersburg city government. He became then PM Putin's deputy chief of staff in 1999 and Putin's 2000 presidential campaign manager. In 2000, he was named chairman of the monstrous, centrally-control Gazprom (still is). In 2003, he because Kremlin chief of staff. Since, 2005, he is the first deputy PM, now Putin's presidential successor. In his current role, he is responsible for health care, education, housing and agriculture.

The protégé will operate in a puppet regime under Putin who is barred by the Constitution from running for a third consecutive term. Apparently Medvedev will make Putin his PM once he is president.

Medvedev speaks English and has pro-western tendencies. He has little experience in foreign affairs. But as part of Putin inner circle -- the siloviki -- they have lead the nation in economic reforms -- the average citizen has more money through higher wages, pensions and welfare payments. The siloviki has assume greater control and influence over regional governments and NGOs including the media.

Russia has become a different country, stronger and more prosperous. Nationalism is strong. Their leaders are power hungry. They are maintaining and increasing this power base this by doing what is best for Russia and its citizens.

They have not fared well in global affairs. They struggled against NATO in Serbia and the UN in Kosovo and Iran. They are buds with the Syrians and have welcome Hamas leaders in Moscow. They have felt threatened by NATO's plan for missile defense in eastern Europe and by US military bases in the ex-Soviet "stan" states. They failed to gain membership in the WTO.

Presently, Russia is not spending money on military -- 5 percent of the US's. Instead, they are getting their house in order, albeit through the Russian democracy way. America needs to engage Russia, giving them the respect they deserve. We need their help in fighting terrorism. Russia can be our friend or our enemy. They will never be our best friend but the relationship should be cordial. We'll have more success engaging Russia in economics and diplomacy than ostracizing them.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Spanish in Presidential Debate

Just what was the purpose of translating the questions and answers from last night's Republican presidential debate in Miami into Spanish?

I did not watch the debate -- I get no news from TV -- but when I heard this morning that it was translated into Spanish, I really had to scratch my head. Univision either saw a marketing opportunity (doubtful), marched to the liberal agenda (probably) or pandered to the hispanics (definitely).

Only citizens vote. To become a citizen, you need s solid working knowledge of English. So why pander?

Thumbs down to Thompson, Romney, Giuliani and Huckabee for agreeing to the terms. Thumbs up to Tancredo for boycotting.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Romney's "Faith In America" Address


Mitt Romney gave one of the greatest political speeches in our era. It was patriotic, inspiring and presidential. It was not a speech on religion; it was a speech on the roots and founding of this nation.

It made me feel grateful that I was born an American. It made me thankful to live in a nation that allows all men to worship how, where, or what they may.
"There are some who may feel that religion is not a matter to be seriously considered in the context of the weighty threats that face us. If so, they are at odds with the nation's founders, for they, when our nation faced its greatest peril, sought the blessings of the Creator. And further, they discovered the essential connection between the survival of a free land and the protection of religious freedom. In John Adams' words: 'We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion... Our constitution was made for a moral and religious people.'

"Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom. Freedom opens the windows of the soul so that man can discover his most profound beliefs and commune with God. Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone.
This is one of the greatest quotes every spoken from the political pulpit. Natural law is at the foundation of our secular law; core to our inalienable rights and our freedoms.

He inspired those capable of being inspired. He disappointed others who either religious bigots or lack an understanding of the country's founding. He received ho-hum coverage by the typical media outlets. He did not address Mormonism or specific doctrines, much to the media's chagrin.

As a political speech, he also stated his core leadership principles.
--I will put no doctrine of any church above the plain duties of the office and the sovereign authority of the law.
--A President must serve only the common cause of the people of the United States.
--Americans tire of those who would jettison their beliefs, even to gain the world.
--I will take care to separate the affairs of government from any religion, but I will not separate us from 'the God who gave us liberty.'
--Foremost do we protect religious liberty, not as a matter of policy but as a matter of right.
--Any believer in religious freedom, any person who has knelt in prayer to the Almighty, has a friend and ally in me. And so it is for hundreds of millions of our countrymen: we do not insist on a single strain of religion – rather, we welcome our nation's symphony of faith.
His candidacy should be defined by these principles and beliefs. Voters much chose whether he is the right man for the the job and vote accordingly.

Romney faces an uphill battle to win the Republican nomination. His problem is not his politics or professionalism rather the fact he is a Mormon. It has become clear that Mormonism is not mainstream enough to trump those that belong to the religions of atheism, agnosticism, environmentalism, secularism and liberalism. (However, they do not provide the same scrutiny to Senate Majoroity leader, Harry Reid, who is also a Mormon.) Many Christians, regardless of denomination, have let their ignorance and bigotry rule--"no way will they vote for a Mormon.". The Americans United for the Seperation of Church and State organization was upset he did not mention Jefferson, Madison and American non-believers.

Americans United also take issue with his "freedom requires religion" comment. It seems to me Romney was talking about the nation as a whole, not specific people. You can be free and a good American as a non-believer. But America's strength is its religious foundatation. The further we get away from being a God-fearing nation, the less freedoms we will have and the closer we will be to becoming a fallen nation.

It is unfortunate that all the presidential candidates have not seconded his College Station, TX speech. This speech will certainly help Mitt Romney's candidacy. Will he win the nomination? Doubtful. (I am not even sure who I will vote for in the primary.)Sadly, most voters will not listen to it and even fewer will read it. American presidencies are decided not by an evaluation of candidate's stance on the issues, leadership and experience, rather by sound bits, MSM spin and a poorly informed population.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Iran's Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities

It has been a couple of days since the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (under Mike McConnell leadership) released its National Intelligence Estimate Key Judgments: Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities. The key judgement are:
A. We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program1; we also assess with moderate-to-high confidence that Tehran at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons.

B. We continue to assess with low confidence that Iran probably has imported at least
some weapons-usable fissile material, but still judge with moderate-to-high confidence it has not obtained enough for a nuclear weapon.

C. We assess centrifuge enrichment is how Iran probably could first produce enough
fissile material for a weapon, if it decides to do so.

F. We assess with moderate confidence that Iran probably would use covert facilities—
rather than its declared nuclear sites—for the production of highly enriched uranium for a weapon.

G. We judge with high confidence that Iran will not be technically capable of producing and reprocessing enough plutonium for a weapon before about 2015.

H. We assess with high confidence that Iran has the scientific, technical and industrial capacity eventually to produce nuclear weapons if it decides to do so.
What strikes me as strange is that the same experts in 2005 stated that Iran was determined to develop a nuclear weapon. The Judgment mentions that Iran halted their efforts due to international pressure. But in 2003, what pressure? The invasion of Iraq? I don't think so.

Are we to assume that Iran is pulling a Lybian "see the light" action? Are we to assume that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is to be trusted and should be brought into the friendship fold?

The Democrats and the MSM responded as one would have expected, going off on some kind of "Bush lied;" he wants to take us into another war; Iran is lead by peace-loving leaders that we should trust, love and welcome.

I also would expect G.W. Bush and the Republicans to play dumb on one hand and defiant on the other, expressing the need to stay the course and eliminate Iran's nuclear program.

In my opinion, the Judgements seem a bit too political. The NIE's main authors, ex-State Department officials (Fingar, Van Diepen, Brill), are known "anti-Bushies." Perhaps the intelligent community is going the opposite way in Iran than they did Iraq in 2003? A short-term CYA effort?

It is clear that Iran has not abandoned it nuclear program -- that is still going forward full tilt. What is lacking is supporting evidence of is their nuclear weapons program. We know they know how to fit a warhead on a ballistic missile. We know they are enriching uranium on a large scale, violating UN mandates.

How can we trust our own group of bureaucrats who by their own admission do not have adequate intelligence inside Iran? As stated in today's WSJ 'High Confidence Games' opinion piece, "our intelligence services are supposed inform the policies of elected officials, but increasingly their judgements seems to be setting policy."

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Putin Ideology Moving Forward


I am fascinated at how each countries chooses and prefers their unique form of government. Russia in particular seems to prefer strong central government with key industries centrally controlled. He has a established economic stability and has succeeded at raising the living standard for most Russians.

Vladimir Putin's United Russia party earned 64 percent of the votes, receiving up to 315 of the 450 seats in the next Duma. They have accomplished this most likely by fraud, deceit and general disregard for the law. But it seems that most Russians don't care.

His popularity is at a levels most politicians can only dream of obtaining. He has ruled, not so much with an iron hand, but with a "for the motherland" attitude. He's done an admirable job of controlling the means in Russia's key industries like energy.

Russians like the social safety net from low, but existing pensions to poor, but existing healthcare. The do not know any better.

Putin and the United Russians will empower and enrich themselves by giving the average citizen the basics. It is communism meets democracy meets oligarchy meets man's greedy tendencies.

Basic human rights will exist only if it does not interfere with United Russia's and its members' ability to prosper. The few rule the masses. We have it everywhere; Russia is just doing it the way its culture seems to allow and encourage.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Chavez Hits a Roadblock


For the western hemisphere, Hugo Chavez's defeat was a victory. Instead of setting himself us as president and dictator for life, his communist regime appears to have stumbled.

Communism is only valid for the destitute and the extremely poor. Give something to anyone that has nothing and their life is better...for the moment. Once they have something -- basic food, clothing and shelter, no matter how menial -- they realize how controlled and limited they are.

Thankfully, there were enough Venezuelans that were unwilling to give Chavez his dictatorial demands.

Chavez will not go away. He will not take this defeat lightly. His ego and arrogance will get the better of him and his fellow countrymen. If he cannot win at the ballot box, he will attempt other means. I cannot see him accepting the "will of the people" and taking a backseat in Venezuelan politics. Officially he will remain in power until 2010. However, more than likely, he will use the courts, presidential mandates and possibly force to achieve his self-serving goals.

We know how pro-government socialists behave. They have shown their colors in Latin America, Africa and Europe. The liberals try to do the same thing in America.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

College Bowls Are Set...Go Bucks!


What a weekend (and season) for college football. It was only realistic that one or both of the #1 (Mizzou) and #2 (West Virgina) would lose. I figured the Tigers would not fare well against Oklahoma but I thought the Mountaineers would trounce Pitt. I was hoping one would lose so Ohio State would get a big to the BCS Championship. They both lost and Ohio State (11-1) is playing LSU (11-2).

Of the BSC eight, Hawaii belongs. Missouri seems to have drawn the short straw; Illinois the lucky one. Misou went from #1 to out of the BSC and the team they beat, Kansas, made it. Only the mess that is the NCAA/BCS.

Nevertheless, the bowls are set. Thirty-two games, 64 teams -- nearly half of all D1 teams are in a bowl.

I really wanted to go to the BCS Championship but at $800-2500 per ticket, only the wealthy and/or idiots would spend that kind of money to watch a football game.

Poinsettia - Utah vs. Navy Dec. 20 (GO UTES!)
New Orleans - Florida Atlantic vs. Memphis Dec. 21
Papajohns.com - Cincinnati vs. Southern Miss Dec. 22
New Mexico - Nevada vs. New Mexico Dec. 22
Las Vegas - UCLA vs. BYU Dec. 22
Hawaii - Boise State vs. East Carolina Dec. 23
Motor City - Central Michigan vs. Purdue Dec. 26
Holiday - Arizona State vs. Texas Dec. 27
Texas - Texas Christian vs. Houston Dec. 28
Champ Sports - Boston College vs. Michigan State Dec. 28
Emerald - Maryland vs. Oregon State Dec. 28
Meineke Car Care - Wake Forest vs. Connecticut Dec. 29
Liberty - Central Florida vs. Mississippi State Dec. 29
Alamo - Penn State vs. Texas A&M Dec. 29
Independence - Colorado vs. Alabama Dec. 30
Armed Forces - California vs. Air Force Dec. 31
Humanitarian - Fresno State vs. Georgia Tech Dec. 31
Sun - Oregon vs. South Florida Dec. 31
Music City - Kentucky vs. Florida State Dec. 31
Chick-fil-A - Auburn vs. Clemson Dec. 31
Insight - Indiana vs. Oklahoma State Dec. 31
Outback - Wisconsin vs. Tennessee Jan. 1
Cotton - Missouri vs. Arkansas Jan. 1
Gator - Texas Tech vs. Virginia Jan. 1
Capital One - Michigan vs. Florida Jan. 1
Rose - Southern California vs. Illinois Jan. 1
Sugar - Hawaii vs. Georgia Jan. 1
Fiesta - Oklahoma vs. West Virginia Jan. 2
Orange - Virginia Tech vs. Kansas Jan. 3
International - Rutgers vs. Ball State Jan. 5
GMAC - Bowling Green vs. Tulsa Jan. 6
BCS Championship Game - Ohio State vs. LSU Jan. 7

Okay Tressel, let's not let down OSU or the Big Ten like you did last year against Florida. Let's win this one! GO BUCKS!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Power to the People

This week, I read Laura Ingraham's new book Power to the People. Some people really love to listen to her on her national morning talk show out of Washington, DC. I have listened. I concur with her points. but I don't find her program all that engaging.

I like talk show hosts that provide true insight into the issues. She does not do that for me. Nor do some of the other popular conservative hosts like Sean Hannity and Glen Beck. Nevertheless, I try to keep up on their activities including reading their books.

Power to the People addresses typical conservative issues: family, immigration, homeland security, judges, pornography, education, old media and abortion/cloning/science. Not a whole lot of creative thinking displayed. However, there is one chapter -- Keeping It Local -- that is pretty good. Her commentary on local and state politics is not bad.

The federal government is too big and powerful. Less control is required at the national level. More power should be delegated to the states and local communities.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Get Ahead, Speak English

Do we really want the government to create laws that will disallow businesses to hire the people that they feel can best do the job they were hired to do? Sounds ridiculous doesn't it? But that's what Nancy Pelosi and the Hispanic Caucus are saying with their goal to create a law that will force businesses to not mandate their employees speak English?

The Salvation Army Thrift Store is now a target of the Equal Opportunities Commission (EEOC) who is suing them for clearly posting and enforcing its "speak English" requirements, giving employees one year to comply. The EEOC says this is a civil rights violation. Holy cow...the federal government is suing the Salvation Army!

This terrible legislation (H.R. 3093) passed 218 to 186 earlier this month. This is one law that hopefully will not make it through the Senate and if it does should get vetoed by the President.

Senator Lamar Alexander is trying a different tactic to counter the lawsuit of the EEOC. He wants to make it clear that it is not against federal law for an employer to require employees to speak English on the job. As a provision to the CJS Appropriations Bill (H.R. 3093), he wants to prohibit the use of federal funds by the EEOC for the purposes of suing employers for requiring English on the job.
SEC. 527. LIMITATION. (a) In General- None of the funds made available in this Act shall be used to initiate or participate in a civil action by or on the behalf of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against an entity on the grounds that the entity requires an employee to speak English while engaged in work.
Liberals want as many non-English speakers in America as they can get. Lacking this ability will keep them down and more dependent on the government for traditional services. Non-english speakers will only be able to perform society's lowliest of jobs. These liberal politicians no interest in seeing immigrants succeed.

The best way for an immigrant to stay poor is to not learn the native language. When in France, speak French; when in Japan, speak Japaneses; but when you are in America, speak whatever the heck you want and let the taxpayer cover your "handicap." Yea, real solid leadership from the Democrats.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Family and Medical Leave Act

A few weeks ago during an MBA strategy class I was teaching, one of the students who was born and raised in a Scandinavian country expressed her opinion (during a human capital discussion) about how wonderful her motherland was to new parents. The mother is excused from her job and provided 80 percent salary for three years; for the the father is was around 12-18 months.

The general opinion was that if the Scandinavian society is willing to pay someone for not working and to share the work load (or hire a temporary replacement) in their absence, then fine. But that has not been the American way. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) from 1993 has introduced a European-like change the harsh American labor system.

Summarized, the FMLA law states:
Covered employers must grant an eligible employee up to a total of 12 workweeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period for one or more of the following reasons:

- for the birth and care of the newborn child of the employee;
- for placement with the employee of a son or daughter for adoption or foster care;
- to care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition; or
- to take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition.

An employer covered by FMLA is any person engaged in commerce or in any industry or activity affecting commerce, who employs 50 or more employees [within a 75-mile radius of the work site] for each working day during each of 20 or more calendar workweeks [at least 1,250 hours of service] in the current or preceding calendar year.
It does not cover the common cold, flu, earaches, stomach ailment, minor ulcers, headaches (less migraines), and routine dental or orthodontia problems.

The spirit of the law has good intent; but the execution has some problems. For some workers with irregular schedules; e.g., airlines, qualification issues exist. On the other hand, abuse of the law is becoming an issue with some employers. According to a 11/21/07 Wall Street Journal article, "more workers are using it to take time off for vague and chronic maladies and doing so intermittently, rather than in blocks of time, which makes scheduling and staffing difficult."

Anytime you give people the ability to get paid or to get a position held for an extended period of time, people will attempt to exploit it. You create added bureaucracy to uncover cheaters and abusers. It is too bad we need a federal law for this. Let's just eliminate or downsize drastically the Department of Labor (along with a number of other federal departments like Commerce, Education, Energy and Agriculture). It would be better if employers addressed it on an individual basis (they won't) or if it was left up to the states instead of the feds.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A National Leadership Crisis


According to a Fall 07 poll conducted by the Center for Public Leadership and U.S. News and World Report, two thirds say that today's leaders pale in comparison with those of 20 years ago.

Most believe we have a national leadership crisis, are heading in a negative direction, are falling behind other nations and that our best leaders are in the military.

President Bush's approval rating is around 19 percent. Nancy Pelosi's and Harry Reid's Congress comes in around 9 percent.

Since 911, we have experienced Hurricane Katrina, an on-going war in Afghanistan and Iraq, and a handful of political scandals from Plame and Libby to Jefferson and Craig, and economic woes from sub-prime and mortgage issues to rising enery prices.

Interestingly, nearly 60 percent believe we will have better leaders in 20 years.

Things were always better in the past, will be better in the future. I might be doing okay but I know of or have heard others who are not.

Sure there are negative issues, but on the whole, America has never had it so good.

Monday, November 26, 2007

IT Workers Backing Democrats

In the 12 Nov issue of eWeek, an article entitled IT Workers Back Democrats caught my eye.
More than 70 percent of the $929,829 contributed by the companies' employees to presidential candidates through the first three quarters of 2007 went to Democrats.
The contribution information is based on public records filed with the Federal Election Commission of contribution by all individuals totaling more than $200 for the 2008 election cycle.

The top ten companies were the regular list of techies, ranging in order of total contributions to the three leading Democrat and Republican candidates: Google, Microsoft, IBM, AT&T, Verizon, Accenture, Qwest, Oracle, Cisco and EDS. Democrat contributions from employees from these companies are much greater than their contributions to Republican candidates, in some cases 5x higher.
Of the 23 companies surveyed, only two—Dell and Qualcomm—contributed more money to Republicans than to Democrats.
Pacific northwest from San Jose to Seattle is a more liberal area than Southern California/San Diego (Qualcomm) and Texas (Dell).

I do not consider employees in these companies traditional IT workers. They work for companies that produce IT products. I have always considered IT workers those that work for a company in a IT role -- providing tech services to other workers.

Regardless, the numbers are what they are: employees producing tech products tend to financially support liberal over conservative principles and political candidates. Thankfully, I am not one of them.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Backlash Against Tithing

Last Friday's (11/23/07) Wall Street Journal ran an article entitled The Backlash Against Tithing. As far as I can remember, from my days in college and as a full-time missionary, tithing was (and is) one of the hardest commandments for most to keep.

I have heard people say, just like the article states, that "people should feel free to donate what they choose." Or "no, that's not the way God works."

Churches of all denomination have their methods of financial support. Those of the Judeo/Christian mindset have tithing.

From Mormon.org, tithing is briefly explained:
Tithing is an ancient, divine law wherein the Lord has commanded us to give a tenth of our increase—which is understood to mean income—so we may build up His kingdom on the earth and be blessed. When you pay an honest tithe, the Lord promises that He will “open . . . the windows of heaven, and pour . . . out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10). These blessings may be temporal or spiritual, and they will come to you as you obey this divine law.

Paying tithing is an expression of your faith and an outward sign of your belief in God and His work. Those who do not pay tithing, those who keep for themselves something that rightfully belongs to Him, rob God (Malachi 3:8).

The law of tithing is the means by which the Lord's work is funded. Today, all faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints contribute one tenth of their income as tithing to contribute to the growth of the kingdom of God.
Those people who have paid an honest tithe and have done so faithfully, know of its truthfulness and blessings in their lives. I see it again and again in my life and the lives of our children.

It is not easy to pay a tithe. For some, 10 percent is a great deal of money. But it you consider that everything you have, including you ability and opportunity to earn an income, replaying the Lord is the most honest thing a person can do...and you only asks 10 percent.

The big question for most is 10 percent of what? For most people, they receive a pay check. Do they pay on the gross or the net? The Lord's law of tithing states that you pay 10 percent of your increase. I am not saying you should pay on the gross or net, rather, figure out what you feel is your increase and pay accordingly.

Paying tithing does not mean you will be blessed with financial wealth. It does mean you will be blessed. Many of the blessings may be traced to financial blessings, regardless, there will be blessings.

The articles states Mormons must give 10 percent. Well I can tell you that many do but I doubt most do. The articles states that if you don't pay tithing, you may be barred from temples. Actually you will be barred. Obtaining a temple recommend requires you to answer in the affirmative that you are a full tithe payer. If you are not, you cannot obtain a temple recommend and enter into the temple.

The law of tithing is one that no one can understand until they practice it. The law applies to any religion, not just Christians. The blessings are the same: pay a full tithe and you will be blessed.

People who make excuses for not paying are doing just that. They often feel the money is not managed properly or that are better things they can do with that 10 percent. As an LDS man, mis-use of funds has never entered my mind. The Lord's anointed are as prudent and careful as possible with those funds. They know they are sacred, and manage accordingly.

It is a privilege to pay tithing. It is one of the greatest commandments we have and it is easy to obey.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

College Football Rivalries

There's nothing better in sports, IMHO, about college football rivalries. Most games have no national impact. But regionally, it ranges from annual bragging rights to outright war.

Last week it was the end of the Big Ten when most teams played their rivals: Minnesota-Wisconsin, Northwestern-Illinois, Purdue-Indiana, and Ohio State-Michigan.

This week's matches comprised the bulk of the rivalries: Utah-BYU, Clemson-South Carolina, Virginia Tech-Virginia, Georgia-Georgia Tech, Florida State-Florida, Tennessee-Kentucky, Alabama-Auburn, Mississippi-Mississippi State, Oklahoma State-Oklahoma, Texas-Texas A&M, Nebraska-Colorado, Washington State-Washington, and #4 Missouri - #2 Kansas.

Next week will have a few more like the final Pac 10 matches including Arizona-Arizona State, Oregon-Oregon State, UCLA-USC, plus the greatest rivalry of all time: Army-Navy.

The conference championships, though interesting, established for money purposes only. The bowl games will be finalized next week. We'll find out if it is West Virginia-Missouri or Ohio State vs some unlucky team.

Love that college football!

Monday, November 19, 2007

TV -- 2007

I have little time for evening TV. If I do find a hour or two, I'll usually watch sports, anything but basketball (can't stand the NBA; do like March Madness though). Consider the programming on the major four networks:

CBS
The Amazing Race, The Big Bang Theory, Big Brother 8, Cane, Cold Case, Courier 2.0, Criminal Minds, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CSI: Miami, CSI: NY, Do You Trust Me?, Ghost Whisperer, How I Met Your Mother, Jericho, Kid Nation, Million Dollar Password, Moonlight, NCIS, The New Adventures of Old Christine, Numb3rs, Power of 10, Rules of Engagement, Shark, Survivor: China, Swingtown, Two and a Half Men, The Unit, Without a Trace.

ABC
According to Jim, AFV - America's Funniest Home Videos, The Bachelor, Big Shots, Boston Legal, Brothers & Sisters, Carpoolers, Cashmere Mafia, Cavemen, Dancing With The Stars, Desperate Housewives, Dirty Sexy Money, Duel, Eli Stone, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Grey's Anatomy, Lost Men In Trees, Miss Guided, Notes From The Underbelly, October Road, Private Practice, Pushing Daisies, Samantha Who?, Supernanny, Ugly Betty, Wife Swap, Women's Murder Club.

NBC
1 vs. 100, 30 Rock, America's Got Talent, The Apprentice, The Biggest Loser, Bionic Woman, Chuck, Clash of the Choirs, Coastal Dreams, Dateline, Deal or No Deal, ER, Friday Night, Lights, Green is Universal, Heroes, Journeyman, Las Vegas, Last Comic Standing, Law & Order, Law & Order: CI, Law & Order: SVU, Life, Lipstick Jungle, Medium, My Name Is Earl, The Office, Pale Force, Passions, Phenomenon, Poker After Dark, Scrubs, The Singing Bee.

Fox
24, American Dad, American Idol, America's Most Wanted, Are You Smarter than A 5th Grader, Back To You, Bones, Cops, Don't Forget the Lyrics, Family Guy, Hell's Kitchen, House, King of the Hill, Kitchen Nightmares, K-Ville, Nashville, New Amsterdam, The Next Great Band, Prison Break, The Simpsons, So You Think You Can Dance, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, 'Til Death.

Off all these shows, I have watched a handful. I probably know the premises of half of them from their commercials during sporting events. Most do not interest me. Here's my short list. If you have yours or you think mine are poor choices, please share...

Criminal Minds, Ghost Whisperer, Numb3rs, Pushing Daisies, 24, K-Ville and Prison Break. (I watch most of them online, if they are available.)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Buckeyes to Pasadena


It was not pretty but the Bucks got the job done beating Michigan 14-3 on a cold, rainy day in Ann Arbor.

Henne did not have a good game; Manningham could not hold onto the ball; Hart was contained. Boeckman was not on but luckily for him Wells was (39 rushes for 222 yards). And the Buckeye defense rebounded after last week's let-down allowing Michigan only 91 yards in offense.

I watched the game in Scottsdale, forgoing an overprice round of golf. It turned out to be the right decision.

Onward to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl. I think I'll try to get some tickets to that game...never been to a Rose Bowl game on New Years Day.

OH...IO. Way to Go Bucks!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Outsourcing in latin America

"Thank you for calling 'company x.' This is Bob. How may I help you?" Bob's really Sanji and he's handling tech support from somewhere in India. Bob is extremely nice. You can yell at him and blame him personally for all your product's problems and he will gladly respond with a "thank you sir, may I have another."

Bob is beginning to be replaced by Jose. Jose is his real name. He is based somewhere in Latin America.

Thanks to NAFTA, CAFTA and whichever FTA agreement our elected representatives are working on, "many of the [Latin] countries are developing strong associations of IT companies, and are trying to lobby for flexible regulation, tax exemptions, funding and support on education and infrastructure (source: Global Services Media -- "Say Si for ITO," Imrana Khan, Global Services magazine, November 2007.)

Brazil, Chile, Argintina, Mexico and Costa Rica are among the destinations for call service centers as well as software development, testing and various IT functions. They are graduating students with technology skills at an increasingly high rate:

-- Brazil - 25,000 tech grads
-- Chile - 5,000
-- Argentina - 17,000
-- Mexico - 58,000

Their technical abilities are said to be on par or superior than eastern European countries. Unlike India, they have stable wages (~40 percent of U.S. standards for similar jobs). Their attrition rate is less than five percent (not the case in India). For most nations in Latin America, U.S. citizens (business personnel) traveling there for work do not require a visa (Brazil being one exception to the lengthy and costly process).

According to Datamonitor, by 2008, the number of contact centers in Latin America will touch 12,000 and the number of agents will reach 633,000.

Not all services lend themselves to outsourcing. For those that do, it provides an affordable way to deliver necessary services for less cost. Everyone benefits. Despite the many issues I have with free trade agreements, here's one benefit for America.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Why Are Oil Prices So High?


The Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration (tax dollars at work) has released a document entitled Short-Term Energy Outlook Supplement:
Why Are Oil Prices So High?
The six-page EIA document believes that the following supply and demand fundamentals are the main drivers behind recent oil price movements:

1) Strong world economic growth supports growth in global oil consumption despite higher price levels.
2) A key factor contributing to high prices has been the inability of non-OPEC
production growth to keep pace with global oil consumption growth.
3) OPEC members’ production decisions have played a critical role in determining price trends.
4) Fairly low OPEC surplus production capacity (concentrated in Saudi Arabia) leaves the market with little flexibility to respond to surprises in supply and demand.
5) Total OECD commercial inventories are declining.
6) Excess capacity in the refining industry has been shrinking as refined product demand has grown.
7) Geopolitical risks raise supply concerns.

This is a solid, albeit brief assessment of the basic issues associated with the price of oil and how it impacts the costs we pay to drive our cars and heat our homes.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Mormon Way - M. Russell Ballard

In last week's US News and World Report, Jay Tolson interviewed Elder M. Russell Ballard. The questions asked and answered dealt with the typical issues that people either confuse or love to pile on:

-- Misconceptions about our Christian base and cult lore
-- Bible and Book of Mormon
-- Heretical
-- Trinity/Godhead
-- Secrecy vs sacred
-- Mitt Romney and his "Kennedy speech"

It is amazing how the Christian world continues to find issues with Mormonism. In the lasts General conference, Elder Ballard laid out some clear truths in his Faith, Family, Facts, and Fruits discourse.

I guess we keep at it, try to explain our religion and hope the understanding makes its way into society's vernacular.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Employment Nondiscrimination Act

Yesterday, the House passed Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA).
The bill would make it illegal for an employer “to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to the compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment of the individual, because of such individual’s actual or perceived sexual orientation.”

While 19 states and Washington, D.C., have laws barring discrimination based on sexual orientation, and many cities offer similar protections, federal law offers no such shield, though it does bar discrimination based on race, religion, ethnicity, sex, age, disability and pregnancy.
Federal government is again trying to get into the lives of every person in the country.

Arguments for and against ENDA have been made by American Psychological Association (APA):

Arguments against ENDA include:
-- The bill treats a group of people as special and deserving of protected status.
-- The bill forces people to accept behavior they find objectionable.

Arguments for ENDA include:
-- It is a fundamental value in the U.S. that all working people have a right to be judged by the quality of their work performance and not by completely unrelated factors.
-- Employment discrimination based on sexual orientation violates the central principle of fairness.
-- Ending employment discrimination is good social and business policy.

The biggest problem with this bill is that the federal government is taking a pro-gay stance instead of a hands-off stance. This issue should be left up to the states, not the federal government. President Bush should veto this bill and defer the issue to the states.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Pakistan...From Bad to Worse

This past weekend, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf declared emergency rule, suspending the constitution, saying he had been forced to act by rising extremism and judicial interference in his efforts to protect the country. His critics see it as a smoke screen to justify the quashing of the opposition. Dozens of lawyers, judges and opponents were jailed.

Consider the conditions:

-- Musharraf assumed power via a coup (Oct 1999)
-- Musharraf is a military man through and though
-- Staffs all key positions with military cronies
-- Hosts some of the most radical Islamic hate schools in the world and some of the worlds most deadliest terrorists
-- Islamic at it core
-- Limited natural resources
-- Impoverished and underdeveloped ($2600 per capita income)
-- Treats from a dozen or so opposing political parties including Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party Parliamentarians
-- Major recipient of foreign aid ($2.4 billion); i.e, USA.

Despite his faults, is it better Musharraf remain in power for regional stability or is it better he leave office and push for democratic reforms including imminent elections?

The methodology to control radicalism is not pretty. But if you have a group of people who want to take the country 100 percent under Sharia Law and another group that does not, there is bound to be bloodshed.

Given the conditions, it is only going to go from bad to worse.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Men on a Mission

In the 18 Oct 2007 issue of Rolling Stone, there was a small story entitled "Mormons Exposed." Chad Hardy founded a company in which he has recruited twelve return missionaries to pose bare-chested for a calendar.

His company and Web site, Mormon Exposed and the Men on a Mission calendar is intended
to be a light-hearted and fun spin on a social taboo. Far too much fear, hatred, anger and violence is committed in (and against) the name of religion. By showing these missionaries as regular people, we hope to build a common thread that can break down some of the barriers that have been built up. Driven by the desire to serve as an advocate for change, Mormons Exposed created a national product that consumers everywhere can find humorous and enjoyable. The calendar project and surrounding buzz serves as a platform to encourage many different groups of people to look beyond the stereotypes of race, religion or political affiliation to achieve a greater understanding of one another.
He's doing this for financial gain. There will be a girl calendar and who knows what to come in the future. Nothing shocks me any more, but I really question the "missionary value" of his business' mission. Seems more along the lines of HBO's Big Love than Mitt Romney.

Monday, November 05, 2007

NBC Going Green (For A Week)

Last night, as I watched the Cowboys blow out a dead Eagles team, NBC Universal announced its plans to "go green." It would attempt to emphasize environmental theme in what they hope promotes awareness.

As the studio went "dark," the lights on NYC were blasting in the background and some guy named Matt Laurer was somewhere in northern Canada blasting his global warming message. Hypocricy comes to mind every time a global warmer opens his/her mouth.

As I tell my Marketing and MBA students, if the environment sells, then go for it. People purchase things for all sorts of reasons. If the psychpgraphical and demographic research say that green sells, then businesses should exploit that.

Consider this: We have a group of companies that compete in a market known as nutraceutical industry. They sell modern-day snake oil. Those that sell it make all sorts of claims including curing cancer. There is no scientific proof it does anything they claim. However, it is obvious that there are lots of people that believe it and buy it.

Global warming is similar. If people believe they can make a difference buy buying florescent light bulbs, buying hybrid cars, and mulch their garbage, then fine. Whether it is backed by science or not. There will be people there to sell you supporting products and services.

The sad thing is that many that promote green are also promoting the liberal agenda. That agenda has failed every time it is followed because it is based on false premises.

Right or wrong, based on truths or falsehoods, green sells for business and for politics.

Go green. Vote Democratic. Go Socialistic.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Democrats, Terror and Mukasey

This past week, the Democrats within the Senate Judicial Committee have shown their true colors. The nomination procedure was going just fine until until they introduced the waterboarding/torture question.

Michael Mukasey was nominated by President Bush to be the next Attorney General. But during the Senators' questioning of him they did not like his statement that he refused to declare "illegal" a single interrogation technique the CIA has used on rare occasions against mass murders.

On rare occasions, the Wall Street Journal will write something that pokes at liberals. Friday's opinion was one of those exceptions.
Their immediate political figleaf is that the judge won't pre-emptively declare "waterboarding," or simulated drowning, to be illegal. Mr. Mukasey has declared that torture "violates the law and the Constitution, and the President may not authorize it as he is no less bound by constitutional restrictions than any other government official." But he refuses to say whether waterboarding meets the statutory definition of torture based only on "hypothetical facts and circumstances."

This seems fair enough given that he has not been briefed on any of the classified interrogation details (as top Congressional Democrats have been). It also seems wise given that, if confirmed, he will have to read and consider legal memoranda already approved by Justice Department officials on the same subject. How can he declare himself before he's read them?

Most important, his discretion serves the American people by helping to keep our enemies in some doubt about what they will face if they are captured. The reason that CIA interrogation methods are kept highly classified is so that enemy combatants can't use them as a resistance manual. If terrorists know what's coming, they can prepare for it beforehand and better resist.

Democrats want to pander to the antiwar war base of their party that doubts we are even in a war, and in any case wants to treat terrorist detainees no differently than a common street felon. Yet they don't want to be responsible for passing a statute that blocks CIA attempts to gain information that could prevent an imminent terrorist attack. So they dodge and employ ambiguous language that the Justice Department must then interpret. And then they try to run Judge Mukasey out of town because he won't do their political work for them.
It appears that they have come to their senses and will approve the nomination with Senators Feinstein (CA) and Schumer (NY) saying they'd give him the nod.

In their political posturing and their love affair with the left-wing wackos, it is clear they lack the fortitude to wage war against terrorism. The continue to show their colors day after day.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Vouchers vs Educators Monopoly

Next week, Utahans will have the opportunity to vote on CITIZEN’S STATE REFERENDUM NUMBER 1. The text on the ballot reads:

In February 2007, the Utah Legislature passed H.B. 148, Education Vouchers. This bill will take effect only if approved by voters. The bill:

Establishes a scholarship program for:
-- qualifying school-age children who newly enroll in eligible private schools; and
-- lower income school-age children who continue their enrollment in eligible private schools;

Provides for scholarships within that program of $500 to $3,000, depending on family size and income, increasing those scholarship amounts in future years; and

Allows school districts to retain some per-student funding for scholarship students who transfer to private schools.

Are you for or against H.B. 148 taking effect?
There are arguments for and against the Referendum. I am for the measure.

I have read and heard many of the argument for and against. Whether it be anti-agruments from the National Education Association, arguments from the Utah Education Association or the Anti-Defamation League, they are weak and designed to protect their monopoly on K-12 education.

Their anti-voucher arguments include:

-- Taxpayers can’t fund every school choice (not designed to do that).
-- Voucher laws authorize schools with too little oversight, no real coursework or attendance requirements, lax standards for teachers and minimal accountability to taxpayers (have you looked at the state of our public school and the oversight going on there?).
-- Only the wealthy, who "don't need the subsidy" will use vouchers, not the disadvantaged (wealth will take advantage but new opportunities for the less-wealthy will arise).
-- Public school funding would be cut to reflect lost enrollment. (When has education ever been cut; taxes for the schools go up every year -- just a question of how much; 80% of my property tax is for the school and it has doubled over the past ten years).
-- Taxes will increase to cover a public education deficit (only if people vote NO).
-- The real “bureaucrats and liberals” are the subsidy advocates and out-of-state voucher pushers looking for Utah to save their faltering national movement (national interests is coming from both sides).

The NEA and UEA have the corner on education: they approve the teachers (I teach at two well-know and established universities but cannot teach high school), they approve the curriculum (a surfeit of the material has a liberal bias), and they demand union membership (their federal union perpetuates the monopoly concept). They are against Referendum 1 not because of the children but to protect their control over education. They feel they are smarter than parents -- the collective body.

A market-based, choice-based education system that couple public education with private education serves everyone.
-- Freedom of education choice: put control in the hands of parents (at least those that care)
-- Financially, vouchers are sound: the per pupil allocation will increase given the fixed costs.
-- More families will opt for private education: the subsidy will help ease the pain for, not cover the entire expense. (Three percent attend private schools in Utah vs 13 percent nationally)
-- More private school options will emerge that will appeal to the less-wealthy.

According to many business and industry leaders:
The Governor's Office has projected a massive influx of new students entering our public schools over the next 10 years. Enrollment in public schools will increase by nearly 160,000 students as compared to 39,000 over the past 10 years, a 400% increase. Each of these new students will cost taxpayers over $7,500 per year to educate, resulting in over $1.2 Billion in new ongoing costs associated with this unprecedented growth. That's roughly equivalent to all the property taxes collected for education in Utah last year.

If Utahans vote FOR Referendum #1, participating parents will be provided, on average, an estimated $2,000 of the $7,500 it currently costs to educate their children as an incentive to move their children into a private school. This will shift some of the projected growth burden away from our public schools and taxpayers. For the first five years all schools will be held harmless; no money leaves the school. Even after five years, the unused funds ($5,500) will stay in our public schools providing substantially more money for the remaining students. That is good for our public schools, students and taxpayers!

If Utahans don't vote FOR Referendum #1, there will likely be significant property tax increases to pay for new school buildings, and other significant tax increases in order to hire new teachers and to educate this surge of students. In such an environment, it will be impossible to make additional progress toward increasing teacher salaries or reducing class sizes as all our resources will be stretched to accommodate this unprecedented growth.
I tip my hat to the liberals: they have done a good job of convincing the casual observers that vouchers are bad. I asked my adult students their opinion on the Referendum 1 and those that say they are going to vote NO, have not studied the issue. This is the only way liberals can win. They cannot win on merit, they win on ignorance and spin.

There are plenty of people that feel the public education system is the only way to educate our children. They are people that feel a market-based system is optimal. This referendum will be decided by the uninformed, like most elections. Vouchers will be voted down because the average person just cannot grasp the pros and cons. There's math involved and that gets them every time.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Law on Maritime Cargo Scanning


Back in July, Congress approved H.R. 1 Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007, specifically the Law on Maritime Cargo Scanning Requirements. The Senate approved the bill 85-8 while the House vote was 371-40; Bush signed the law on 3 August.
The bill calls for 100 percent scanning of maritime cargo—before it is loaded onto vessels in foreign ports heading for the United States—to be required within the next five years (although the Department of Homeland Security may extend the deadline by two-year increments, if necessary). It also calls for scanning all cargo on passenger planes within the next three years.
This is a grandiose and expensive process that will add significantly to the cost of goods and to delivery times (dwell time). This will impact the ability for smaller ports to cover the necessary scanning equipment, estimated at around $100 million per port. Add to that the infrastructure to get the containers to the scanners, and the costs are enormous.

According to a 25 Oct 07 article in the Wall Street Journal, the newer, more modern ports in Asia are in a better position to handle the added requirements. The older ports in Europe are not so fortunate, hence the opposition from the EU. Fewer ports will help consolidate the points of entry -- from 700 to around 100.

Those that will reap the spoils of the requirements are the scanning companies: Nuctech, SAIC, Smiths Group and OSI Systems.

The law states "100 percent scanning." What are we scanning for?Chemical agents? Nuclear agents? Explosives?

I can see why Congress would be in favor of this new law, but I doubt it will have much of an impact on thwarting terrorist shipments. Like most things the government tries to do with respect to security, it is a "feel good measure." It is theoretically possible to scanning 100 percent of the cargo but is the perceived result worth the cost? The cost-benefit ratio has got to be way out of proportion. Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA), the bill's sponsor, feels 100 percent screening is not only possible but essential. (See his myths vs facts comments.)

I can see "some synergy" between the U.S. Customs and Border's C-TPAT program which is designed to enhance border security while providing "fast-pass" treatment to certain shipments and shippers. However, it seems bureaucracy on top of bureaucracy -- good in theory, poor in implementation.

This program seems typical for a Democrat: more government, higher costs. Result: higher taxes, barriers to practicality.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Presidential Candidate Bomb

Last night, the Democrats held one of their presidential candidates debates that no one watches. (No one watches any of these regardless of party affiliation.) In short, we are in trouble.

If America elects one of these to the highest office in the land, any one of them will be making GW Bush look like a genius.

The group ganged up on the leader, Mrs. Bill Clinton. According to Clinton, the questioners were also against her. Yea, right.

John Edwards and Barack Obama painted her as unelectable, facilitating war with Iran, untrustworthy, and claimed to have caught her in a political flip-flop on immigration.

She rarely answered a question. We all know what her positions are on each of the issues raised, but she elected to dance, spewing canned diatribe.

Obama was on-queue today with his critique of her less-than-straightforward answers:
"After the most secretive administration in memory, an administration that consistently misled the American people, we need a president who is going to be open and forthright, I think last night's debate really exposed this fault line. Senator Clinton left us wondering where she stood on every single hard question from Iran to Social Security to drivers' licenses for undocumented workers."
I am not sure if any of the other candidates are much better since we know where they stand also. This much I feel very strong about: this election is the Republicans to lose. They need to nominate a candidate that is professional, presidential, and prudent in his/her politics.

The scary thing is that she has a good chance of winning it all, not because of her leadership or policies but because of her husband. Considering Gore and Kerry almost won, I put nothing against this nation electing one of the lowest forms of humanity out there. I see her as a devil in a wrinkled female frame.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Down Year for Hurricanes and Cyclones

The Drudge Report does a good job posting major weather activities and issues. This year has not been the best one for the MSM and their love affair with destructive weather. Likewise, those of the church of the global warmers have not had the weather issues to help them worship properly.

The Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies at Florida State University, a group that is new to me, has reported a "down year" for cyclones and hurricanes in the northern hemisphere.

Hurricanes, cyclones, tornadoes, fires, torrential rains, flooding, etc. are all part nature. When they happen as some may claim too frequently, then it is man's fault. When they don't happen, then there is silence on the matter.

Who's to say what's normal? What's normal throughout Earth's 4.5 billion years? According to many, only what our records state...a couple hundred years max. Any "deviation" from the "norm" and if it supports a political or informal religious agenda is man's fault.

I consider myself an environmentalist; but most so-called environmentalist would not. I have college degrees in Biology and Chemistry. I get out into nature on a regular basis be it hiking, backpacking, camping, mountain biking, canoeing, fishing (catch and release). I practice leave-no-trace; in fact I am a Leave No Trace trainer. I control my energy use, what goes into the landfill, and cultivate a garden (my wife does this much more than me).

The Earth is here for man's use and enjoyment. American does quite well in the big scope of things. The challenge we have is to be good stewards of the Earth.

The left would have people believe that the conservatives want to poison our soil, water and air, destroy the flora and fauna, and flood the coastal cities. Yea, that's what we want to do.

The Earth is going to be here long after we are all gone. It is going to do just fine, despite us. Man is not the enemy. Being prudent about development and co-existing with nature continues to be our challenge. But it should be on our terms. Just when we think we can control it, mother nature whacks us upside the head.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Legal Licenses for Illegals

There is something seriously wrong with the Bush administration and states that allows illegal immigrants to get a legal driver's license.

New York, along with Arizona, Vermont and Washington, allow illegal immigrants with a valid foreign passport could obtain a license. This is done with the approval of the Homeland Security Department.

New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer said the deal means New York "will usher in the most secure licensing system in the nation." WHAT?

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said he was not happy that New York intended to issue IDs to illegal immigrants. But he said there was nothing he could do to stop it. WHAT?

They state the licenses will be clearly marked to show they are not valid federal ID. So what's the purpose? They can be used to better identify criminals, perhaps crimes committed with a vehicle? Allows them to get legal jobs, that no America will take [sic], like truck driver? So undocumented immigrants (this is more politically correct) will now drive with a license and go out and buy car insurance? Perhaps the government can subsidize -- why not just give it away -- free car insurance to the undocumented immigrants.

For those of the liberal persuasion, this is one more step to legalizing the illegals. One more step to finding more donkey voters. The more uninformed, government subsidized voters, the better for the Dems. More government. More costs.

The rule of law for the illegal. This is insane.

Friday, October 26, 2007

DREAM Act: Another Bad Piece of Legislation

The Democratic leadership just can't help itself. They continue to attempt to enact legislation that is inherently poor.

What would motivate a group of politician to think it is a national priority to allow illegal immigrants, albeit children of illegal immigrants, to attend college at state sponsored school at in-state tuition rates? They are giving these people higher priority than legal residents.

The Senate failed to garner enough votes to get the DREAM Act to the floor for a vote.

This is another problem with the U.S.'s open border and weak employment enforcement laws. Consider the two thoughts associated with this issue, one a sentimental approach, the other a legal approach:
The U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce says, "Our Senate has chosen not to legally recognize children that committed no crime other than obey their parents."

However, according to the Federation for Immigration Reform, "defeat of the Dream Act is an important victory for Americans...the public will not be fooled by efforts to enact amnesty piece by piece."
There are right ways and wrong ways to go about immigration reform; this is another example of how not to do it. Consider some of the bad elements of this failed legislation:

-- There is no upper age limit; any illegal immigrant is eligible for this preference by declaring he entered the U.S. illegally before his 16th birthday. The illegal immigrant doesn't have to prove when he entered the U.S.; he can simply make a sworn statement.

-- The illegal alien would be rewarded with conditional lawful permanent resident green card status, which can be converted to a non-conditional green card. The immigrant can use his new legal status to seek green cards for the parents who brought him into the United States.

-- The student has six years to convert his green card from conditional to non-conditional. He just needs to complete two years of study at a college or serve two years in the military, and if he has already had two years of college, he can convert his green card to non-conditional immediately.

-- The illegal immigrant who applies for the DREAM Act can count his years under conditional green card status toward the five years needed to attain citizenship. That's a fast track to citizenship that is not available to aliens who are lawfully present in the United States.

One can bet on it with high confidence that anything with Sen. Dick Durbin's or Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's name on it is another bad piece of legislation. Everything they do has political and self-serving undertones to it. Their goal continues to be to create as many government dependants as they possibly can through tax-based social programs so they can strengthen their power and voter base.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fires Rage Along with Some Lunatic Politicians

Natural disasters like the current fires in SoCal are devastating:
State officials said that the fires have burned across nearly 600 square miles, killing one person, destroying more than 1,600 homes and prompting the biggest evacuation in California history, from north of Los Angeles, through San Diego to the Mexican border.
Only an idiot like Harry Reid would blame it on global warming and the lack of a comprehensive energy package.

It makes me ill to hear anyone spout "global warming" from their lips. Man-caused global warming is the most bogus political rhetoric we have heard in decades. And it is 100% political rhetoric.

The Nobel Peace Price is 100% political posturing. Al Gore would care less about global warming. He has accomplishing absolutely zero in doing anything about it. He cannot do anything about it. He, along with any government mandates will do absolutely nothing to stem the sun's influence over the earth. One volcano blast could put more CO2 in the atmosphere than a billion cars and factories.

Sure we need to be good steward of the earth, but to assume that man's presence and actions are large enough to impact significant climate change is preposterous.

Maybe good government policy would be do actively control vegetative undergrowth so raging fires can be minimized.

One can live with confidence if you take a position opposite that of the leading Democrats. By doing so, you will demonstrate wisdom, acumen and providence as opposed to ignorance, naivete and recklessness.

I disdain most politicians but those running around leading the Democratic Party are some of the biggest dolts in this country. I guess that's why only schmucks aspire to political office.

Monday, October 22, 2007

e-Commerce Nightmare

Today was one of the e-commerce nightmares. I have been waiting, like most Rockies fans, for the opportunity to purchase their four tickets to the World Series that will be hosted in Denver this next Saturday-Monday (games 3, 4 and 5). The tickets were to go on sale at 10am MDT.

The Rockies Web site never did provide a purchase page. I tried for hours via two computers. Finally, by the afternoon, I learned through Yahoo!, not the Rockies, that the e-commerce site was taken off-line and Series tickets postponed.

So we sit, hoping to get an opportunity to buy tickets, travel nine hours via car, guy a couple of nights worth of hotel rooms and road food.

Rockies have blown this one. They did not provide a contingency plan to an overwhelmed Web site, even if the site is not their or managed by them. It has their name on it.

They have not even said when the site will be back up...today, tonight, tomorrow morning, afternoon, etc?

Very disappointed. Hoping for four tickets; not optimistic.

Update 10/23/07: World Series tickets went on sale at 12:00 MDT today. I tried along with my co-workers to obtain a purchase window, to no avail. By clicking on the "Purchase Tickets to Game X" tab, you were placed in what appeared to be a queue with a 120 second timer. It would count down and reload. The text on the page said not to reload as you'd go to the end of the queue. After a few 120 second cycles, the browser would hang for minutes and then crash. The big lie was that there was no queue. A gal next door clicked two hours after they went on sale and got right in and bought four tickets, without waiting in a queue.

There are a few thousand happy fans and ticket scalpers. I had no plans to sell the tickets, rather to take my two boys to a World Series game. The Colorado Rockies and their crappy technology let us down. I was so disappointed that I am to the point of not caring who wins the Series (though I'll still pull for the Rockies). Today, being one of those days where I have lost interest in all high-profile events and those the run them.

Congrats to those that got tickets. For those that tried and failed, I feel your pain.

Thanks Colorado for wasting around seven hours of my life on your crappy Web site.

Hunting: National Geographic States the Obvious

I have read every issue of the National Geographic since 1984. I still have every one of those issues (ought to sell those on eBay one of these days).

The November 07 issue has an article on hunters. Consider the key quotes:
"It's the hunters who keep most of these species going. They put in the money, and they put in the hours. Hunters really care about what happens."

"The irony is that many species might not survive at all were it not for hunters trying to kill them. The nation's 12.5 million hunters have become essential partners in wildlife management."
Hunters have known this for decades. It take the MSM years to acknowledge simple truths because this hurts their liberal agendas.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Hypocrisy Wins for Charity


The Original Harry Reid/Rush Limbaugh Smear Letter sold today on eBay for $2.1 million. Rush will match the $2.1 giving $4.2 million to the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation (money for children of those lost during their service to the nation or communities).

This is the largest charity bid in the history of eBay surpassing Jay Leno's Harley which went for $800,000.

The winning bidder is Betty Casey, as trustee of the Eugene B. Casey Foundation and long-time Rush ditto-head. According to Rush...
She gives significant sums to hospitals, hospices, colleges, and private schools. These include the Eugene B. Casey Diabetes Education Center, The Eugene B. Casey Swim Center and the Eugene B. Casey Academic Center , and The Casey Home hospice. She has also donated tens of millions from the foundation and her personal funds to the Washington Opera.
Well done Harry Reid. I can only imagine that he will try to take some of the credit for the contribution. Now let's see how many in Congress will also match the contribution (and there are plenty in there with the means to do so).

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Free Birth Control for Middle Schoolers

I would have expected this in MA, CA and NY but Maine...
Pupils at a city middle school will be able to get birth control pills and patches at their student health center after the local school board approved the proposal Wednesday evening.

The plan, offered by city health officials, makes King Middle School the first middle school in Maine to make a full range of contraception available to students in grades 6 through 8, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.

There are no national figures on how many middle schools, where most students range in age from 11 to 13, provide such services.
Are these people crazy? The fact we are even hearing about birth control for 11-13 year olds is shocking. Granted, there is bound to be a very limited number of 11-13 year olds at King Middle School who have had a sexual experience, but most have limited knowledge and no interest in having sex.

Should it be the school's and government's role to provide birth control to children? Absolutely not. It is sad to say, but this role should reside with the parents. Show me a parent that thinks their daughter needs to take birth control, I'll show you an insane parent.

This is another example of how liberalism is a mental disease. You can guarantee a conservative is not behind this. Explain to me why this social program is not completely insane.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Scary Partnership


A couple of goose-stepping comrades. Twenty-first century axis of power? Modern-day Hitler and Mussolini?

It is not out of the question that if Iran is armed with nuclear weapons, there would be the moderate propbability of WWIII, as George Bush said. Guess who's side Vladimir will be on?

Mrs. Bill Clinton Lacks Presidential Qualifications


We've heard it all over the conservative air waves; now a mjaor candidate finally comes out and says it: Mrs. Bill Clinton has no real qualifications to become our next president. (BTW, Obama is not much better.)

In an excerpt from Rudi Giuliani's interview on FOXNEWS's Hannity & Colmes, along with his wife on 10/16:
"Honestly, in most respects, I don't know Hillary's experience. She's never run a city, she's never run a state. She's never run a business. She has never met a payroll. She has never been responsible for the safety and security of millions of people, much less even hundreds of people.

"So I'm trying to figure out where the experience is here. It would seem to me that in a time of difficult problems and war we don't want on the job training for an executive. The reality is that these areas in which - maybe there are some areas in which she has experience but the areas of having the responsibility of the safety and security of millions of people on your shoulders is not something Hillary has ever had any experience with."
If she were not married to Bill Clinton and were not so power hungry, she would be as noteworthy as Lady Bird Johnson, Betty Ford, Nancy Reagan and Pat Nixon.

What is it with this 2008 presidential race? The two Democratic front-runners lack real leadership experience. For those leaning Democratic, anyone but a Republican must be the modus operandi. This, despite the risks associated with placing someone with no leadership experience in the most important role in national and global politics.