Wednesday, July 30, 2008

No New Fast-Food Restaurants in LA

Save us from ourselves! Thanks to the Los Angeles City Council committee, they placed a one-year moratorium (perhaps longer) on new fast-food restaurants in a broad swath of LA neighborhoods.

The Council committee defines a fast-food restaurant as "any establishment which dispenses food for consumption on or off the premises, and which has the following characteristics: a limited menu, items prepared in advance or prepared or heated quickly, no table orders and food served in disposable wrapping or containers." Casual fast-food restaurants, such as Subway or Pastagina, are okay, we are told.

So eating a burger and fries at In-n-Out or Wendy's is taboo but going into a sit-down restaurant and eating a similar meal, albeit at a higher price, is ok?

People eat fast-food because it is: a) affordable, b) tasty and c) fast.

I have a student in one of may classes who is a manager at a national sit-down chain. He says although there are low-cal and so-called healthy options, most people order the 1500-2000 calorie meals. Not because they are cheap or fast but because they are tasty.

The government, no matter how hard it tries, can only provide superficial control over free agency.

Who does not know which food is healthy and which is not? Who does not know that it is good to exercise? Who does not know that it is good to get adequate sleep? Yet we still eat unhealthy, don't work-out and stay up too late?

If non-fast-food, sit-down restaurants were what the people wanted in these LA neighborhoods, there would be more of them.

When this moratorium fails, they will next consider an extra tax on all fast-food restaurants to financially discourage patronage.

I'd say the Los Angeles City Council is spending its time and effort on the most pressing issues -- saving us from ourselves.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Fewer Miles Driven; Less Money for Roads

You would not know it in Utah, but funds available for transportation are diminishing. I-15 from North Salt Lake to Layton and I-80 on the east side of Salt Lake City are major construction zones, nightmares for commuters. Beside the traffic snarls, the price of gasoline is giving us all a huge reason to avoid unnecessary trips.

Americans drove almost 10 billion fewer miles in May 2008 than in May 2007, according to Federal Highway Administration. In the FSWA press release:
"By driving less and using more fuel-efficient vehicles, Americans are showing us that the highways of tomorrow cannot be supported solely by the federal gas tax," Secretary Peters said. "We must embrace more sustainable funding sources for highways and bridges through more sustainable and effective ways such as congestion pricing and private activity bonds."
Ideally, the government bases its budget on forecasted tax receipts. And like most agencies, their wishes are greater than their means. There will be a large number of new road construction projects -- road widenings, new bridges, safer interchanges -- that will go to the back burner.

Hopefully, the federal government will do a better job at prioritizing the macro-budget. But don't count on it.

With Nancy Pilosi opining that global warming is priority number one as she single-handedly is trying to save the planet...
“I have always loved longitude,” she said before breaking into laughter. “I love latitude; it’s in the stars. But longitude, it’s about time. ... Time and clocks and all the rest of that have always been a fascination for me.”
...and George Bush admitting the deficit is out of control...
The White House predicted on Monday that the Bush administration would bequeath a record deficit of $482 billion to the next president -- a sobering turnabout in the country's fiscal condition from 2001 when President George W. Bush took office and inherited three consecutive years of budget surpluses.
...there is little reason to be optimistic about the state of an aging transportation system and the government's ability to do much about it.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008

On Saturday, the Senate voted 72-13 on the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. H.R. 3221 bill (the House passed it Wednesday 272-152) will provide:

-- mortgage relief for 400,000 struggling homeowners
-- temporary financial lifeline to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and them the Federal Reserve consultation
-- nearly $4 billion in neighborhood grants that will primarily help lenders
-- $180 million in pre-foreclosure counseling for struggling homeowners
-- $15 billion in tax cuts, low-income housing tax credit, and a credit of up to $7,500 for first-time home buyers for houses purchased between April 9, 2008, and July 1, 2009
-- added an $800 billion increase, to $10.6 trillion, in the statutory limit on the national debt.

President Bush says he will sign the bill when he receives it.

Many of these debt-strapped homeowners owe more their houses are worth. The legislation will allow them to get new, more affordable mortgages backed by the FHA.

The out-of-control GSE's Fannie and Freddie will be allowed to increase to $625,000 the size of home loans that can buy and the FHA can insure. They also will be able to buy and back mortgages 15 percent higher than the median home price in certain areas.

In those neighborhoods with high foreclosed and abandoned properties, the bill will inject funds for repairs hoping the new looks will improved property values.

Despite the election year compassion that the congressional reps thinking they are providing, this is a bail out. What does this do for 95 percent of the homeowners making their payments?

Why does the government think that people should have their mortgage reduced because the value of their homes are now lower than what they were when they bought them? Will they give that money back when they sell the property in 10-20 years after the value has increased back above that original valuation?

Is it the government's responsibility to ensure every American (or anyone living here) is entitled to live in a home? That the mortgage or ability to pay is just a sidebar to the great American dream?

The squeaky wheel gets the oil. This is a good deal for a few thousand people and for lots of lenders. the bulk of those made poor financial decisions. It is a BAD deal for the bulk of the taxpayers.

Another taxpayer bailout sponsored by both political parties.

In the Senate count, the two, not-so-fine Senators from Utah split their vote. In the House, Mathason voted with his Democrat brethern, Cannon against it, and Bishop did not vote. McCain nor Obama voted.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Obama Does Germany

It is interesting to watch the global love affair for Obama. It has moved from Afghanistan and Iran, to the Middle East (the Palestinians love him), and today Germany.
I come to Berlin as so many of my countrymen have come before. Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for President, but as a citizen -- a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world.

People of Berlin -- people of the world -- this is our moment. This is our time.
What moment? What time? What are you talking about? Obama is in Germany only because he is running for president. No one would have been there if he were not a leading candidate.

Most American, including Obama, know little about Europe. They don't know the history and few have traveled there. Those that have were tourists which is not really knowing a nation (but it is better than sitting on the couch and watching TV). Some Americans have spent time in Europe as students, workers, etc. They are more familiar with the social aspect of the culture, which is a good thing.

Europe might be fine for the Europeans, but it is not the socialist society I want to live in, nor do I want my children raised in. More of them than not like the social safety net. They like the liberal policies. We are seeing a Europeanization of America movement. This is key to the liberal cause, whether it is overt or not.

I have many friends and colleague all over Europe and the UK. I enjoy traveling there and doing business there. But that does not mean I want to live there or swap my citizenship.

Obama is a serious candidate for president only because he is black. His policies and ideology are as liberal as it gets. He has no new ideas. He is restating the same broken and failed liberal ideals that his colleagues have stood for twenty years. If you buy into his hope message, you buy into the Europeanization of America.

Americans should care less what the Germans or any other country has to say about our presidential candidates. How many Americans really cared when Angela Merkel became the German Chancellor (elected by a majority of the members of the Bundestag)? For that matter, how many Americans could even answer the question: who's Germany's Chancellor? 00.0001 percent?

Obama is a fraud and hypocrite.

You could sure tell his speech was aided by a teleprompter, avoiding his uh, uh, uh, uh... problem.

BTW, why didn't he speak in German?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Now Its the Jalapenos

This Salmonella outbreak and specifically what the federal government has done and continues to do is something that really ticks me off.

I appreciate the job they do at the Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). What I do not appreciate is their ability to prevent the America workers from making a living due to their punitive policies.

Their initial public reactions were to blame tomatoes. Hundreds of millions of dollars later, they realized that was a mistake. It was not the tomatoes after all. It is now the jalapenos.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced today that one jalapeno pepper sample is a positive genetic match with the Salmonella Saintpaul strain causing the current Salmonella outbreak.

The positive sample was obtained during an FDA inspection at a produce distribution center in McAllen, Texas. The pepper was grown on a farm in Mexico, however, that does not mean that the pepper was contaminated in Mexico.

The produce distribution center, Agricola Zaragoza, is working with FDA to voluntarily recall jalapeno peppers the company distributed since June 30, 2008.
Now every jalapeno grower, distribution center, restaurant and retail outlet involving jalapenos will be emptying their shelves and throwing millions of dollars away. It seems to be an over-reaction. They says "voluntarily recall" but everyone will be involved, involuntarily.

The federal government has too big of a hand in everyday society. A few people's actions will have a huge economic impact on economic solvency of many of our food industry segments.

What recourse do all of those businesses that lost money on a tomato false-positive have? They all lost money on a erroneous governmental conclusion.

This all or nothing recall system seems extreme. It tells me they have little control over what comes in and out of this country and when a problem is found, everyone must pay the price.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Venezuela's Growing War Machine

This week, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will be in Minsk for talks with Belarussian dictator, Alexander Lukashenko. He will then meet with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Part of his agenda in Russia is to buy $1 billion worth of Russian arms, including up to 20 Tor-M1 missile-defense systems and three Varshavyanka diesel submarines.
Venezuela is also eyeing up a deal for another six non-nuclear submarines, several dozen military boats and Ilyushin reconnaissance aircraft.

Chavez said he wanted to buy Russian tanks, describing them as "very modern and fast," in an interview with Itar-Tass in Caracas. National media have reported that Russia could offer Venezuela up to $800 million to fund any potential deals.

In May, Kommersant reported that the arms deals could reach $2 billion and include Mi-28 combat helicopters and Ilyushin airplanes. An order has been received for the helicopters and delivery would start in the second half of 2009, Interfax reported.

Since 2003, Venezuela has bought about $4.4 billion of military hardware from Russia, making it the third-biggest foreign buyer of Russian arms worldwide.

Russia has delivered 100,000 Kalashnikov rifles to Venezuela and last year agreed to build two plants producing the assault rifles under license in the country. A total of 24 Sukhoi fighter jets and about 50 attack helicopters are also on their way to Venezuela.
Venezuela has quickly become one of the largest militaries in South America. Procuring large quantities of military equipment is a by-product of its huge oil revenues. It is also posturing against America.

Chavez is walking a thin line with his military build up. There is no reason to assume that he will not initiate research into nuclear assets including weaponry.

If we consider Iran's nuclear ambitions significant, if Venezuela heads in that direction, the level of war threat in this hemisphere would escalate to the Cuban missile crisis level.

Monday, July 21, 2008

More Market, Less Regulation

On page two of today's WSJ, Jon Hilsenrath wrote and interesting article entitled Markets Police Themselves Poorly, But Regulation Has Its Flaws.
The events of the past few weeks leave U.S. policy makers at a crossroads in a long-running debate about how to police financial markets.

For much of the past quarter-century, policy has tilted away from strict regulation and toward relying on market discipline to keep the financial system on an even keel. Market players, the thinking went, had an incentive not to push themselves or their counterparties too far, because they had too much to lose if they did.

This approach has failed, but finding a workable alternative won't be easy.
There have been a number of global banking crises over the past century, more frequent in the last three decades. Technology, advancement in communications, globalization and the integration of the national economies of nations play big roles in this mix.

Over the long term, markets self-correct. The quarterly, weekly even daily performances of businesses and their markets seem to trump long-range plans. In fact, long range plans are almost non-existence for public traded companies. The problem is no one is willing to demonstrate patience.

Think about the dot com era: the hype did not make sense given the business potential of all those very useless business ideas. In the latest mortgage crisis, we have seen businesses and individuals making poor investment decisions, banking on a bull-only housing market.

In the short-term, bad decisions are painful. In the long-term, they tend to correct themselves. Government officials will almost invariably make wrong decisions. That's not to say they don't know what they are doing -- there are some very smart people in key policy decisions; e.g., Federal Reserve Chair Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Paulson.

In the private sector, there are plenty of fall-guys. In the public sector, it is not as easy to replace key managers. Mismanagement in the private sector results in firings, lawsuits and prison terms; this is rare in the government.

There's no doubt that new regulation could do much to control markets, but any attempts to eliminate all risk should be shunned. Too much regulation tends to discourage innovation; it creates excessive bureaucracy and unnecessary compliance expenses. It continues to be unacceptable for the taxpayers to bail out poor business decisions, be they from the business community or the government.

The trends are discouraging when we see the level of governmental bail-out increasing in volume and raw dollar amounts.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Off-Shore Oil Drilling

Another pathetic showdown between our elected officials.

We have one group, namely Republicans, which is pushing for off-shore drilling to help increase the global supply of oil and to help make America less-dependent on imported oil. In addition, there is pending House legislation that intends to force oil companies to give up their un-worked federal leases and ban the export of crude drilled in Alaska. The White House is threatening to veto legislation with this wording.

In the other group, namely Democrats, we have a firm stance against off-shore drilling and new oil drilling leasing regulations. House Majority Leader Pelosi said:
The president of the United States, with gas at $4 a gallon because of his failed energy policies, is now trying to say that is because I couldn't drill offshore. That is not the cause, and I am not going to let him get away with it.
We also have Al Gore challenging the nation to produce every kilowatt of electricity through wind, sun and other Earth-friendly energy sources within 10 years.

The most prudent methods would be to announce and begin now long-term efforts to begin off-shore drilling and open up new leases for oil drilling and tar mining. Add to this renewable energy source deployments for electricity generation.

Actions to find and exploit new sources of petroleum and to deploy renewal sources will be opposed by the libs around every turn. Their reasons are always environment-related -- the chance that there might be an oil spill, that wind farms will be an eye sore, and that solar panels will make for ugly architecture.

Bottomline, Pelosi is way out of line trying to put the blame of $4/gallon gas on "failed Bush energy policies." Quite the contrary. The Democrat energy policy is based on doing nothing within America (unless buying florescent bulbs count for much) and hope foreign oil suppliers will be kind and offer America, no one else, cheap oil.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

MSN Anchors Part of Obama's Iraq & Afghanistan "Posse"

It is about time. The MSM has tossed in the towel pretending they offer biased news and political coverage.

As Obama takes his dog and pony show to Iraq & Afghanistan, part of his make-believe posse are none other than the leading news anchors from the the major TV networks: NBC's Brian Williams, ABC's Charlie Gibson and CBS's Katie Couric.

John McCain has taken three trips to Iraq & Afghanistan this year. He was not accompanied by a single network anchor.

Now we must prepare ourselves for their touchy-feeling stories (assuming anyone with a brain watches their telecasts). We'll see hospital visits, interviews with American and coalition pro-Obama soldiers and officers, merchants telling pro-Obama liberalist sob-stories, Iraqi police stating how they want America out of Iraq and that they can handle it on their own, and of course a visit to a madrasah coupled with an interview with the nicest students and imams you could ever image.

Obama will not get a single difficult question from the three talking-heads. Political posturing lead by three of the media's biggest posers.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

LDS Missionaries In Russia

No, the Church is not pulling out its missionaries that are currently serving Russia. Rather they are not issuing new calls for North Americans and are reassigning those called but not yet in Russia. The problem is with visas.

In the past, the missionary visas were good for 180 days. Even then the non-native missionaries or those that required a visa to be in Russia had to leave the country a for a few days. My son was in the Novosibirsk mission, in the heart of Siberia. He had to leave the country three times, going to Mongolia, Latvia and Ukraine for his temporary exit.

Even at 180 days, the expense is significant due to the physical size of Russia. But at every 90 days, the expense becomes almost unbearable.

The sad part about this is that there are few native Russian missionaries or missionaries that do not require Russian visas; i.e, those from ex-Soviet states. My son mentioned that in his mission of 80 or so missionaries, only a half-dozen were natives.

Obviously, this is going to hurt the growth of the Church until they solve this problem.

Russian politicians are certainly putting their foot down on openness, especially with the west. They are strategically making it harder for the west to do business within Russia. This impacts the Lord's work but also impacts energy sector workers, investment and banking operations, and any western business that has an interest in doing business with Russia.

This is just another example of the controls that Putin, Medvedev and the oligarchy business model are imposing on the Russian people and the world.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Tony Snow

Regardless of your political persuasion, Tony Snow was a refreshing figure in the world of journalism.

His battle with cancer appeared to have been a rough one. It is always sad when someone dies at the prime of their profession. He was 53.

I am not one for TV news, my experiences with Tony were from the radio. I listened to him on a some-what regular basis, especially when Limbaugh was boring or on some useless rant.

Tony Snow was thorough and professional. I never heard him be impolite to anyone. His voice was pleasant. He always had a smile.

Tony will be missed.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

The Federal Reserve and the Treasury announced steps Sunday to shore up mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The steps are intended to send a signal to nervous investors worldwide that the government is prepared to take all necessary steps to prevent the credit market troubles from engulfing financial markets and further weakening the economy and housing markets.

In a well-written piece in today's WSJ, Peter. J. Wallison states:
If Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were ordinary corporations, the sudden collapse of investor confidence last week would have set them to work on their bankruptcy applications. But they are not ordinary corporations -- and they are likely to survive because their debt securities have been viewed for decades as ultimately backed by the U.S. government. Barring the unlikely event of a credit market loss of confidence in the U.S. government itself, they should be able to attract the necessary financing for continued operations.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac hold $5.3 trillion in liabilities (out of $11.3 trillion total outstanding) They have lines of credit, at least they did, of $2.25 billion each.

Whereas I see the value of the premise behind these social institution, it questions why these government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs), chartered by Congress, should also be allowed to sell equity. GSEs, almost by definition, imply government backing. So with that type of backing, investor risk is not traditional. You'll never lose it all because the government will back the GSE in a crisis.

It was a foregone conclusion that the federal government would come to the rescue, but at what cost to the taxpayer and the US and global economies? With those dollar amounts, Fannie and Freddie liabilities are present in most major investment portfolios all over the world. The problem becomes exacerbated with the declining dollar, because so many national economies are dollar-based.

While Fannie and Freddie loses are small relative to their entire portfolio, it does not take much to wipe out billions in liquidity.

Fannie and Freddie obviously grew out of control. The government bailed them out. They almost did that same with Bears Stern. They actually want more government regulation within the investment banking industry.

Some safeguards are prudent government but most of the time the federal government socializes an industry, it creates huge, costly bureaucracies and makes all of us more enslaved to bad government.

IndyMac Bancorp Seisure

Near-panic, if that is a word, seems appropriate for the last few days.

The federal government's seizure of savings and loan IndyMac Bancorp on Friday is not shocking. It reopened today as IndyMac Federal Bank, FSB, as investors wait in line to withdraw their funds.. Their business model of providing home loans without employment verification, etc., had assumed increasing home values. If the borrower reneges, IndyMac takes the "appreciated property" and resells it. Achilles heel: declining home values.

It did not help when Senator Schumer (D-NY), a member of the Senate Banking Committee, said in late-June that IndyMac "could face failure if prescriptive measures are not taken quickly." There are some things certain people should not say in public. A statement by a Senator leading to a bank run would be one of those.

IndyMac is one, albeit a large one, of a number of banks failures in the past 12-18 months. It will certainly not be the last during this mortgage crisis.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Iranian Missiles and the World's Response

Iran's anti-western propaganda has been going on for nearly 30 years, ever since the fall of the Shah in the late 70s and the American hostages incident. They have thumbed their noses at the West and the UN for years. They have elected to pursue their nuclear agenda despite protests and sanctions.

Their latest "show of might" is bad propaganda. Shooting off a few older missiles that could reach Israel is nothing more that bad theater.

We hear many, namely on the right but not exclusively, that feel we need to take decisive, preemptive military action against them and their nuclear facilities.

We hear other who think everything will be just fine is we just sat down with them and talk over coffee.

In most cases, America is unable and unwilling to fight foreign wars. Opening up another theater of operations in addition to Iraq and Afghanistan may just push the services to the breaking point. Causing more contention in the oil rich region is going to hurt Americans more than it is going to help us.

I do not think it is in America's best interest to preemptively strike Iran and engage in the years of follow-on activities. I do not think Iran is stupid enough to launch a major missile attack against Israel. If they did, there is no reason to assume Israel will retaliate gently. Israel is not going to play a tit-for-tat retaliation game. The potential destruction in Iran could be quite severe. America must support its ally.

America's position should be to push for sanctions of all industrial-related technologies and equipment. America should promote open trade of all consumer goods. We want the Iranian people on our side. Sanctions rarely work -- those you hope to penalize do not feel the pain. It is the average citizens that suffer.

If Iran is going to change, it is going to change from within. America needs to promote that strategy. Aggressive military actions of a preemptive type would be the wrong thing to do.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Make Sure Children Speak Spanish?

I am so bored with the presidential election. Both are pandering demagogues. Their diatribes have grown stale. The sad state of affairs is that one of these dolts will become our next president. Neither will get my vote.

Today, Obama told an audience in Powder Springs, GA that parents "need to make sure that [their children] can speak Spanish." He went on to say that the nation's chief priority should not be for immigrants to learn English, but for American children to learn Spanish. Why?

This is a priority for America? Are you kidding me? One of the major problems we have in this nation is the Balkanization of the nation. We do not need multiple "official" languages. We do not need government documents printed in multiple languages. We do not need to go out of our way to cater to those that do not speak English.

Learning another language should be an American's prerogative. It should not be some government mandate. Certainly, Americans are weaker than our European brethren in reading, writing and speaking multiple languages, but there are good reasons why. For example, Europeans live in small countries with small populations, few people speak their language. Aside from news and game shows, many countries lack original TV and movie programming. It is very costly to produce content in multiple languages. English is spoken by most people out of necessity. English is the language of business in much of the world.

If people want to learn another language, Spanish is certainly an option, but why not Chinese, Japanese, Russian or Arabic? Those languages seem to be more marketable. The problem with learning a second language is that most people are not in a place to use and practice it. You only become good at a language when you immerse yourself in it. That's not going to happen in America, thankfully.

Having learned Spanish on my LDS mission, I find the skill useful on occasion. However, do to lack of practice, my skills have diminished. However, it does not take me long to get it back. The skill rears itself when I travel to Latin America or Spain, not here in the US. (And BTW, most people never travel outside of the country.)

I speak Spanish here when I need to. I help translate for people who are traveling or who are obviously having a hard time communicating. But I will not go out of my way to speak Spanish for the sake of it.

English should be the official language of America. The government should not spend taxpayer money providing redundant communication messages in multiple languages. English should be the official language in our public schools.

Obama made an idiotic statement. Immigrants should be forced to learn English; American citizens should not be forced to learn Spanish or any other language by government mandate. Obama was and is pandering to the Hispanic voter. His stance on this is out of touch with the American people.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Iraq Troop Withdrawal Timetable

According to a statement released by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki:
The current trend is to reach an agreement on a memorandum of understanding either for the departure of the forces or a memorandum of understanding to put a timetable on their withdrawal. In all cases, the basis for any agreement will be respect for the full sovereignty of Iraq."
Mouwaffak al-Rubaie, Iraq's national security adviser said his country will not accept any security deal with the United States unless it contains specific dates for the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces. Is this a sign that the troops will be coming home sooner as opposed to later?

The Bush administration and the Pentagon have shared a goal, that I thought the Iraqis agreed with, that the U.S. forces would remain their until the Iraqi forces become a more self-reliant force. The administration has claimed that a withdrawal timetable would play into the hands of enemy forces who would lie low until U.S. troops were gone. The have also said that withdrawal decisions must be based on conditions on the ground.

What is causing this discussion? A U.N. mandate authorizing the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq expires Dec. 31. And the additional surge forces sent to Iraq in 2007 are due to pull out by the end of July, leaving about 140,000 U.S. troops, which is still a large number of troops and associated expenses.

President Bush and Pentagon officials have said repeatedly that we are in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi people and its official government. If this invitation is rescinded, does that mean it is time to leave? According to the Bush policy, it does.

I have always taken the position that foreign wars are bad for the U.S.; that in most cases are not in our best interests. Granted, the world is a better place with Saddam Hussein gone, but I am not sure the cost -- economics, lengthy tours and human lives -- was worth it.

So I see a problem brewing: the Iraqi government will ask for a withdrawal timetable and the Bush administration will push back. The Bush administration will claim we are leaving too soon, that Iraqi will quickly become a terrorist breeding ground and a threat to Middle East stability. If this Bush position continues, we will never leave Iraqi, because the elimination of Iraq as a terrorist breeding ground is unrealistic.

So let the politicking begin.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

CDC & FDA: How Not To Do Emergeny Response

So you think FEMA is the only federal agency that does not know how to deal with an emergency? Enter the CDC and the FDA.

A few hundred people get ill from supposedly eating raw red plum, red Roma, round red tomatoes, and products containing these raw tomatoes, contaminated with Salmonella.

Their response and action was to issue warnings and indirectly force stores and restaurants to pull raw tomatoes and related products from their shelves and menus. The results cost the industry hundreds of millions of dollars.

They recently admitted that it may not be tomatoes after all. It turns out that the problem is more likely to be salsa because many of the victims had eaten some. Not everyone, just some.

Their latest victim or cause is jalapeno peppers.

According to the CDC, since April, 943 persons infected with Salmonella Saintpaul with the same genetic fingerprint have been identified in 40 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada. We all feel for these people, realizing it could just as easily have been us getting ill.

Why do they need to do this research in the open, causing economical havoc all along the way? Speculation as to cause and effect does no one any good when done in such an open manner.

Salmonella is a feces-borne bacterium that can cause diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. I am not going to point the finger at any processing plant or nation. But it is obvious one or more of these plants does a terrible job of sanitation, namely of its workers.

Not having any tracking system for the source of produce is a core problem. And not having some standardize sanitation oversight of processing plants is an issue, especially on a global scale. With much produce being imported, we are at the mercy of the exporting nation for their sanitation processes. But do we really want the governments more involved in this?

Friday, July 04, 2008

U.S. Constitution

Every July 4th, I make a point of reading the U.S. Constitution. It helps me re-gain an appreciation of our Founding Fathers. It reminds me of what our freedom means. It clarifies what is complete rubbish in the public sector and what is core to our actual rights, not liberal, media made-up rights.

A few years ago, I toured the National Archives and saw the Constitution along with our other key historical documents that were on exhibit. A touching experience.

Earlier this week, I asked two of my college classes, by a show of hands, how many of them had read the U.S. Constitution. In one class, none; in the other, two. I challenged each of them to take 45-60 minutes and read it this weekend.

I am amazed, I guess I am not, that people in their fourth year of college, have never been required to study the key federal documents. I was not required to do it in all of my formal schooling. We all successfully made it through our public school system without the experience.

It is telling that most of our educational institutions make it optional. There are some things that should be mandatory as part of a person's education. How can you really say you are a college graduate, ready to take on the world, and have never read the cornerstone of our freedom?

The liberals and those hoping to enforce their agendas on the masses certainly know this. Ignorance is critical to their plan. Our schools systems do a good job keeping us ignorant on the most important information. Without this crucial knowledge, how can we ever expect wisdom to reign supreme?

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Sun Hills Golf Course

Recently, I played 18 holes (walked it) at Sun Hills Golf Course in Layton, Utah. It is not bad -- not overly long, easy rough, decent tee boxes, fairways, fringes and greens. They have some watering and sprinkler issues because the have a large number of dry spots. I actually played okay, shooting an 82 on the par 71 course. I had fun and enjoyed a hot day in the sun. But there is something interesting and unique about the course: Hill Air Force Base.

About every few minutes, an F-16 Fighting Falcon or A-10 Thunderbolt II takes off and lands. It you have ever heard an F-16, they are loud. The base is just to the northwest of the course. The jets take off to the north. The engine sounds are directed toward the course and the nearby neighborhoods. Which is to my point: why does anyone live in that Sun Hill neighborhood?

I have a student in one of my University of Phoenix marketing classes who said he lived there growing up. He said you "get use to it." I don't know how you can get use to it. It is unrelenting; it is loud, very loud.

All I can say is that the homes must be very affordable. They appear to fit that "starter home" category. I doubt many people plan on living there any longer than it is financially necessary.

Oh, I forgot to mention, the neighborhood and course are on the way to the Layton dump.

Play the course, just don't live nearby.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

A Win for Limbaugh and Conservatism

Drudge broke the news. Rush Limbaugh signed an eight year deal with CLEAR CHANNEL and PREMIERE RADIO in the $400 million range.

Rush as been the leader of AM talk radio for 20 years, occupying that coveted 12-3 pm (EDT) / 10am-1pm here in Utah. He spent some time talking about it today.

The MSM/liberal media can't believe it. Many are appalled. Others are just jealous. How can some conservative radio guy be worth that much?

It is telling that the business community is willing to make the investment in Rush. His ideology, methodology, and entertainment value are rewarded. The conservative message sells. The liberal message does not.

Traditional news outlets -- from the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and LA Times are failing miserably. There is nothing compelling from an educational standpoint.

The American public puts its time and money where it matters. They do not value the traditional media outlets. Their biased agendas are clear to most, although they think they present unbiased programing and content.

Liberalism, in the journalistic sense, fails. Their insiders do not write for their audiences, they write for each other.

I could not be happier for Limbaugh. Sure he is egotistical and self-aggrandizing. But his message is clear and his delivery is spot-on. If he makes that much money, then many of the other quality hosts will also benefit.

I don't listen to them all; but know their content. I quit listening to Sean Hannity three years ago -- no insight, very predictable, not entertaining. I rarely listen to Glen Beck, Laura Ingraham or Bill O'Reiley for the same reasons. I do listen to Michael Medved regularly, Michael Savage often, and Rusty Humphries occasionally. Some of the other hosts I like listening to include Jason Lewis, Joe Soucheray, Lars Larson and Hugh Hewitt; but they all require Internet streaming, as they are not on the air in Utah.

The main reason conservative radio (and conservatism in general) works is it is based on logic. The reason liberalism does not work on the radio (and why it should not work in real politics) is that it is based on emotion. Conservatism requires thought and analysis; liberalism is based on ignorance and false premises. And because a large number of voters are ignorant, the liberalism and their populist spin sells.

Rush won one for the good guys today.