Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Newest Political Flipper...Obama

Simple question: "Who's changed, Barack Obama or the Reverend Jeremiah Wright?" Easy answer: Obama.

For at least twenty years (for as long as Obama attended Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago), probably more than fifty years, Jeremiah Wright has been a religious and political extremist. Agree with him or not, he's been consistent with his views. His latest comments include...

-- that the government may have had a role in spreading AIDS in the black community
-- that U.S. actions overseas were partly to blame for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks
-- the importance of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan

Up until today, Obama was right there with him..."rah, rah, rah, you go Reverend; my mentor, my guide." Now these statments are "ridiculous". He now says "offend [him], they rightly offend all Americans and they should be denounced and that's what I'm [Obama] doing very clearly and unequivocally today."

This is an example of the lack of leadership and sanity of this presidential candidate. How can this man be trusted? He'll throw any and all under the bus. He'll look back on today, 4/29/08, as the day he sunk his presidential candidacy.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Temporary Demise of Dining Out

For the average bloke and his family (or date), dining out is getting more expensive every day. Even lunch is getting too expensive.

Unless you get a hot dog and soda or order off the "dollar" menu, eating lunch for under five dollars is a thing of the past. A sit-down lunch is going to put you back at least ten dollars. Do that five time a week and you spent fifty bucks for lunch.

Going out to dinner with your spouse (or girlfriend) is $25-50. Add children and it gets real steep for the average American family.

What's driving this? I see three areas:

1) The increase in the minimum wage. Wages for many restaurants have gone up 10-20 percent.

2) Costs of supplies. Everything has gone up, from rice and beans to beef and chicken.

3) Decreasing disposable income. One of the first things people cut back on during economic downturns is external entertainment. Movies, restaurants, ball games, etc. all take a hit.

It all comes down to the cost of energy and the idiot concept of turning food-producing land into bio-fuel producing land.

The restaurant/food service industry is America's third largest employer (13.1 million employees), behind the U.S. government and the health care industry.

Food prices are causing misery and strife around the world. The pain is severe in most third world nations and starting to cause pain in the more affluent nations. It will get worse before it gets better.

Friday, April 25, 2008

McCain Out of Touch With Republicans

I cannot remember being so disgusted with our political options. I cannot ever vote for a Democrat. I disagree with their politics some severely. But the Republican candidate might be slightly better aligning with my politics, but only by a hair.

McCain is one of the most arrogant and egotistical national political figure I think I have ever witnessed.

His latest rant against his own party makes him even most distasteful. He accused North Carolina's Republican Party of being out of touch with reality over its refusal to pull an advertisement criticizing Democrat Barack Obama.

He criticizes his own party but walks (let's call it jump with joy) across the aisle to his Democratic colleagues.

The type of ad being ran in NC is what it is going to take in the fall if he wants to win.

It is going to be the most painful thing come November to be faced with the option of McCain vs Clinton or Obama. I dislike them all so much...their personalities and their politics.

McCain aspires to be the President of the USA as a Republican -- as the head of the party -- and he is criticizing their tactics...which are not all that severe.

He says we need to "stick to the issues." The character of the wannabe president is a huge issue. Obama's love affair with a flaming racist like Rev. Jeremiah Wright is very relevant.

McCain is taking the Republican vote for granted as he solicits the middle and left. Don't bet on it John.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Operation Chaos

For those of you that listen to Rush Limbaugh, you are very familiar with his Operation Chaos (O.C.) (I am a Dittohead: one who likes the show, wants him to keep doing what he does, but not necessarily agreeing with his positions; although I agree with him most of the time.) O.C. basically consists of having Republicans register as Democrats so they can vote for Mrs. Clinton, allowing Obama and her beat up each other, spend gobs of money and set up McCain to win in November.

I think Rush's ego has gotten the best of him. I think he thinks his plan is having a major impact on the Democratic race. I am not so sure.

In the Wall Street Journal, they said that in PA, 10 percent of the people that voted on Tuesday were newly registered Democrats. Now some of these were Republican that wanted to vote Democratic, however, we have no idea how many of them actually were promoted to do this by Limbaugh. (Perhaps a bigger issue is that only around 50 percent of the register Democrats actually voted in PA. Why did they elect to say home, given all of the hype of this primary?)

I am a fan of Rush but I think he has over estimated his pull in creating this "temporary switch-party" action. I estimate that most of his listeners are not scared by Obama, rather are very fearful of Mrs. Clinton and her husband. Another four or eight years is too close to a reality. Her win will benefit Rush but not the country.

Never underestimate a Clinton; they will do any and everything possible to win. Although the numbers are against her today, her ace in the hole is the super delegate option. The super delegate role is to pick the person who will win in November. The Democrat Party does not allow its mainstream voters to make this decision -- they are too dumb to do the right thing.

Although Obama won just ten fewer delegates in PA than Mrs. Clinton (after all that spending and hype), Obama is choking. When he first appeared, he appeared polished...a modern JFK candidate. However, in the past two-to-three months, his true colors have shown. His politics are extreme. Is past is tainted. His voting record is as liberal as it gets. He has proven to be a goof-ball without a teleprompter. He is a terrible extemporaneous speaker. He makes George W. Bush look good. He has no new ideas, just touchy-feely hope rantings.

Today, I am convinced that he will get creamed by McCain in November. I think the super delegates are coming to this same conclusion. But they are not sold on Mrs. Clinton either, due to her high unfavorable opinions.

In a year that should be a slam dunk for the Democrats, they have allowed two pathetic candidates to make their way to the possible nomination.

I just figured McCain was just another Bob Dole...a long-time party man given his day in the sun only to go down in defeat.

If he wins, it will not be because McCain is such a great candidate, it is that the other is so pathetic.

Why would anyone want to spend years trying to earn money, stand in front of people making idiotic comments and promises, and sell their soul to every special interests group in the country...the world? It is no wonder we have such losers running for political office...it is a self-aggrandizing profession based on greed and pride.

I have also come to the conclusion that most of our radio talk show hosts have similar pride, promoting themselves and their business.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Dinosaur National Monument

Over the weekend, I took my two youngest children to Dinosaur National Monument, east of Vernal, Utah, spanning both Utah and Colorado. The Colorado portion of the park -- at least the access roads -- were closed due heavy snow pack. The Utah portion was where we spent our time.

We spent one day in the northern portion of the Monument, hiking 4 miles down (and 4 back up) the Jones Hole Creek to the Green River. Perfect temperature, we saw some nice Native American pictographs and petroglyphs, a wide variety of birds, and a small herd of big horn sheep.

We drove to Rainbow Park, Island Park and to the Ruple Ranch remains. There was a small whitetail prairie dog town at Ruple Ranch and a population of mule deer of well over 150.

The next day, we went to Josie Bassetts's cabin/ranch remains and nearby Hog and Box Canyons.

An impressive story of a Colorado gal who decided in her middle years (in 1914), to homestead in the area. With help of some of her family, she built a cabin (still standing), fences/corrals, an irrigation system, raised animals, and planted an orchard and garden. She had no electricity or running water. Her grandchildren would visit during the summers and help grandma on the ranch. In 1964, she died at 90 due to an injury associated with a fall from her horse. She was living the independent and self-sufficient lifestyle of the 18th and 19th centuries during the 20th century. Quite a gal.

We finished our time in the Monument by hiking the 3 mile Sound of Silence trail. This hike has it all: steam bed, sand hill / muddy crevasses, red rock and slick rock.

The monument, one I had not visited prior, is a wonderful example of Utah's and Colorado's environmental and geological diversity.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Cost of Vacationing and Traveling Abroad

While in Ireland, we paid about €1.20 per liter of gasoline. (One liter equals 0.264 gallons.) So a gallon of gas is around €4.60 or $7.35. Obviously, taxes on a liter of gas are much greater there than in the U.S. but the cost of travel is over twice what it costs in the U.S.

A typical B&B is priced at €35-40 per person, €70-80 for a couple...around $130 for a room in some one's house coupled with a good Irish breakfast. A hotel room is higher, in the $150-200 per night for an average room. The Irish breakfast (lower in carbs) helps because you do not feel the need to eat lunch; so you can save there, perhaps have a drink and some biscuits or crisps.

A meal at a restaurant; i.e., a pub, is in the €15-20 per person, not including drink...around $25-30 per person. This is for a nice sandwich and chips. It is obviously higher for a more substantial meal...steak, etc. A can of coke is about €1 ($1.60), €2-3 in a restaurant. A pint of Guinness is around €6.

The same ratio exists in the U.K. with the pound. The price for goods and services are about the same in Britain as they are in Ireland.

Traveling abroad it painfully expensive right now. The dollar is extremely weak. As a general rule, and for budgeting purposes, double the price of what you'd spend in the U.S. if you are traveling to Europe, Ireland or Britain.

Buying American is certainly in vogue now. You'd have to be an idiot if you cannot see the value of purchasing goods and services in and from America.

So despite the higher cost of living we are all experiencing in America, everything is more expensive in other modern countries.

Personally, I have never experienced a greater increase in goods and services in such a short period of time. It is tied to the price of energy. As long as this is allowed to spiral out of control, inflation will be high.

We don't need idiotic pandering by politicians like economic stimulus packages or McCain's stupid idea of suspending the federal tax on gasoline for three+ months. Our government is too big. You cannot cut taxes without cutting spending. Where is the political sanity?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Off the Grid


While in Ireland, Wales and England, I virtually went "off the grid" for two weeks. I turns out I missed nothing. While in the car, we listened to RTE Lyric FM in Ireland and BBC Radio 3 in England, sticking to classical music and the top-of-the-hour news updates.

Coming back and turning on talk radio -- politics or sports -- it has been anti-climatic. However, I am very glad we have this medium. It does not exist in these countries (probably most countries) the open way it does in America. It is clear that freedom of the press is not practiced there. Their media is overly government subsidized and controlled.

It got me thinking about our subsidized media. I like much of the product on public TV and radio but with the amount of cable stations, there really is no need for our tax dollars to go towards this. Society is not better because the government sponsors classical and music, opera, Masterpiece Theatre, Nova, Frontline and Red Green. If these products are good, they will find a home and be offered by for-profit organizations.

I found it interesting that more and more businesses, home owners and renters do a good job at securing their wireless networks. I drove around a variety of neighborhoods when I needed Internet access. In some neighborhoods, all the wifi access point were secured. Eventually, I'd find a strong one without security, enabling access. Besides allowing me to check and email, I was able to use Skype for phone calls to America and to England. (Skype is a beautiful thing).

I also found many people still are not on-line. For some, it is still too expensive. For these, they cannot justify the cost given the return.

So being off-the-grid was a good thing...for a while. It is being on-the-grid that allows us to be productive, find pertinent information, communicate and to remain somewhat informed, not forced to rely on the MSM and the government for our information.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Ireland

My wife and I just returned from two weeks in Ireland (with a side stop in the Liverpool/Manchester England area to visit a daughter and brother.)

We landed and departed from Shannon (a smaller airport, leaps above the bigger airport in Dublin). Our goal was to experience various aspects of the Irish history and to enjoy its current culture and people.

We rented a car and drove all over the southern half of the nation. We started in Co Clare and visited The Burren, the Cliffs of Moher, Kilrush (stayed at Crotty's Pub). We then spent the next two days in Co Kerry visiting the Dingle Pennisula, Tralee, Kenmare (Water Edge B&B), Ring of Kerry, Skellig Ring, Lakes of Killerny, Muckross. In Co Cork, we stay in Kinsale (Friars Lodge) and drove through Cork into Co Tipperay and Co Kilkenny visiting Cahir, Rock of Cashel and Kilkenny, staying at a farmhouse near Ballyragget.

Into Co Carlow and Co Wicklow, we had a great time in Glendalough and at Powerscourt (overpriced) and a farmhouse B&B in Ennisferry. A day in Dublin was spend walking around and spending a great deal of time in the National Gallery. (I have been to Dublin twice; a city's a city is a city). We went to Howth and stayed in a Suton B&B. Watched the Arsenal-Liverpool match in a great pub.

We took a car ferry across the Irish sea to Holyhead. We drove to Widnes, near Liverpool, to spend time with my wife's brother and his family, and our daughter who is working as a nanny in the Wilmslow area. We visited a Reds fan's "mecca" at Anfield. On Saturday, we attended the Manchester City-Chelsea match. On Sunday we went to Lancashire to Chorley, the LDS temple (conference was being played in a delayed fashion), to Chatburn and Downham, and through the Yorkshire Dales.

Returning to Dublin via an overnight ferry, we spend the day in Co Meath and Co Westmeath visiting Monasterboice, Mellifont Abbey, Boyne, New Grange, Knowth, Douth, Slane, Hill of Tara, Trim, Mullinger, Kilbeggan and Moate, staying in a 300 year old farmhouse B&B near Horseleap.

Our final day was spent in Co Offaly, Co Galway, Co Limerick and Co Clare visiting Clonmacnois, Birr, Portumna, Lough Derry, staying in Shannon at the Oakwood Arms, watching Liverpool beat Arsenal and moving into the UEFA Champions League semi-finals against Chelsea.

A great experience. Very expensive due to the weakness of the dollar. Everything costs twice what we spend in the U.S. for the same thing.

We got a surprise at the National Car Rental. We found out you cannot take a rental car from Ireland to England/Wales for insurance purposes. On the last day, we were hit by a rock and have a crack in the windshield. National said we needed to pay for a new windshield at 325 euros (just under $500), more than our actual two week rental. We were at their mercy -- held hostage by some eastern European gal working for National, with no local recourse. Do me a favor, never rent a car from National. Their business practices are very shaky. I have issued a formal complaint, but I doubt I'll hear back.

Oh yea, I left my earphones and MP3 player on the Delta plane. Think the lost and found had it? No way. Those that clean planes hire people who steal. That is the second time I have left something valuable and it was lost forever. I had sunglasses stolen out of luggage. The airlines and airports, despite their claims of security, hire thieves.

1000 Posts

As of March 24, 2008, this Mormon On Politics web log has reached 1000 posts. I do these posts for my on purposes. The process keeps me engaged in the political world and allows me to create a record of my opinions on a variety of subjects.

I do not think my opinions are any better or carry more weight than any others.

I have enjoyed it. If you comment, I read your comments, even though I may not reply. I appreciate any comments.

Here's to the next 1000 posts.