Sunday, August 31, 2008

VP - Biden or Palin

Since the beginning of the last century, there have been 21 Vice Presidents:

Charles W Fairbanks
James S Sherman
Thomas R Marshall
Calvin Coolidge
Charles G Dawes
Charles Curtis
John Nance Garner
Henry A. Wallace
Harry S. Truman
Alben W Barkley
Richard Milhous Nixon
Lyndon Baines Johnson
Horatio Humphrey
Spiro T. Agnew
Gerald Rudolph Ford
Nelson Rockefeller
Walter Mondale
George Herbert Walker Bush
J. Danforth Quayle
Albert Gore, Jr.
Richard Cheney

Six of those have went on to become the President -- three involved the death of the sitting President.

1) Coolidge replaced Harding after Harding suffered a heart attach while in office (1923).
2) Truman succeeded FDR after his death (1945) and was elected to a second term.
3) LBJ succeed for JFK after his assignation (1963).
4) Nixon was elected twice and resigned during his second term (1974).
5) Ford was never elected to be president or vice-president but instead took office upon the resignation first of Spiro Agnew and then of Richard Nixon (1974)
6) GHW Bush was elected twice.

The purpose of the VP, despite the recent advisory role some VPs have assumed, is to take over the presidency if the president dies or is unable to perform his/her duty.

The media over-blows the role the VP has in presidential politics. The media waited with baited breath for Obama to announce Senator Joe Biden (DE) as his running mate and McCain announcing Governor Sarah Palin (AK). Boring.

Obama selected a Washington insider. McCain an outsider. Biden has been dismissed in all his president bids. Palin has never sought nor held a national office. She relatively unknown.

Biden has plenty of experience; Obama has very little. McCain has plenty of experience; Palin little. The key items we should base our presidential vote on this November are:

Energy policies
Judicial appointments
Socialized medicine
Gun ownership
Gay marriage
Size of government
Taxes (capital gains, dividend, income, inheritance, new)

What these recent VP nominations have said to me is: Obama says one thing and does another -- wants change but sticks with status quo; and the liberal left is not concerned with equal rights or opportunities for all, they just care about promoting the liberal agenda.

Obama and Biden are flaming libs; McCain and Palin, though not my favorite ticket, are closer to the conservative agenda than not, especially Palin.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Cold War, Part Deux

Russia seems keen on engaging in a revamped Cold War with the West. By officially recognizing the Georgian autonomous regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, they are laying down a line in the mud.

Russia has ignored territory integrity by its invasion of Georgia. South Ossetians and Abkhazians are not Russians; nor are they Georgians. Russia is not coming to the rescue of its people -- Russian people in foreign lands, though they want us to think so.

South Ossetians and Abkhazians have had their issues with Georgian for decades if not centuries. Russia is not going to allow North and South Ossetia to merge into the independent nation of Ossetia. If they do that, why not the nations of Dagistan or Chechnya?

Russia is trying to avoid fighting this new cold war alone. This week, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev is attending the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Tajikistan hoping to gain support for his Georgian intrusion. It is not clear how successful Russia will be at winning over the central Asian member states of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Russia is on shaky ground with respect to Georgia. Everyone one with a brain knows that Russia is posturing against its ex-Soviet comrade states who find the west more appealing company than non-democratic Russia.

The west actually has a key lever in this battle: economics. Since the excursion and Russian recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the Russian ruble and Moscow stock market have fallen. Europe needs Russian oil and natural gas (a carbon or fossil fuel Speaker Pelosi). Russia wants the revenue. Russia desires WTO membership and G7/G8 participation.

The further Russia goes down the Cold War II line, the more it will ostracize itself from its customers. Its international friends will be limited to Iran and North Korea. The Kremlin cronies will do okay in their self-centered worlds, but the Russian masses will suffer. They will return to Soviet-era "freedoms" and lack the abiliity to access the global market for their other goods and services. Western nations and individuals will elect not to invest into Russia. Russia will pay a severe price due to its egotism.

In additiona to a growing NATO, Russia claims that this Georgian invasion is due, in part, to its opposition to the missile defense system planned for the Czech Republic and Poland. The West says it is a strategic defense against rogue nations. Russia is acting more and more like one of these rogue nations. It seems that using this defense system against Russia is becoming more appropriate.

Hopefully, calmer heads will prevail and Russia will back down from it cross-border excursions; that Cold War part deux will be avoided...until the next time.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Presidential Election: People Beginning To Care

On the eve of the Democrat national convention in Denver, Peggy Noonan wrote a good op-ed published in today's WSJ on McCain's rise in the polls and Obama's fall.
An attractive, intelligent man, interesting, but—he's hard to categorize. Is he Gen. Obama? No, no military background. Brilliant Businessman Obama? No, he never worked in business. Famous Name Obama? No, it's a new name, an unusual one. Longtime Southern Governor Obama? No. He's a community organizer (what's that?), then a lawyer (boo), then a state legislator (so what, so's my cousin), then U.S. senator (less than four years!).

There is no pre-existing category for him.

Add to that the wear and tear of Jeremiah Wright, secret Muslim rumors, media darling and, this week, abortion.

It took a toll, which led to a readjustment. His uniqueness, once his great power, is now his great problem.

And over there is Mr. McCain, and—well, we know him. He's POW/senator/prickly, irritating John McCain.
Obama's left of his party on abortion. He doesn't care how far along the pregnancy is: if the woman does not want the baby, she can abort it at any time.

Obama will get a bump in the polls next week during the convention, as McCain may curing his party's convention, but his choice for VP, Joe Biden, is certainly not going to help.

I'll not watch the convention but may listen to Obama. Why would anyone want to listen to Clinton, Pilosi, Reid, Kerry, Gore? That's a list of people who you would not want to go to dinner with. There must be some good Democrats out there; too bad none of them are in the current leadership.

On McCain, she feels that he can win if he takes a one-term pledge. McCain, like all politicians will not do this; his ego is too great.

With the race a virtual dead heat, these conventions and fall run-up will be interesting. It has always been Obama's to lose. We'll see if he can keep his foot out of his month long enough and if he'll get the massive support for the MSM he requires.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Russians To Recognize Breakaway Republics

Russia has a whole bunch of autonomous oblasts: Altai, Bashkortostan, Buryatia, Chechnya, Chuvashia, Dagestan, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Kalmykia, Karachay-Cherkessia, Karelia, Khakassia, Komi, Mari El, Mordovia, North Ossetia-Alania, Sakha, Tatarstan, Tuva and Udmurtia. Likewise, a few autonomous okrugs: Chukotka, Khantia-Mansia, Nenetsia and Yamalia.

We know what they recently did to the Chechens and the Ingushetians when they wanted their independence. Ten of thousands paid with their lives.

So now when Russia threatens to recognize the breakaway Georgian republics of pro-Russian South Ossetia and Abkhazia, that's okay.

Is it nothing more than "get back" against the West for recognizing the Balkan republics of Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Kosovo after the break up of communist Yugoslavia?

Russia is fine with those people outside of their country that kowtow to them. These entities will now become subservient to the Moscow. That may work for a while but South Ossetia and Abkhazia are more likely to regret it in a few years.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Brinkmanship in 2008

Russia certainly overstepped its bounds in Russia. It's one thing to put down nationalistic uprisings within you own country, but going into Georgia claiming defense for the down-trodden South Ossetians and Abkazians is to far.

What is not clear from the media is the case from the South Ossetians and Abkazians against their treatment from Georgia.

This is not saying the Georgians are without blemish with the Ossetians and Abkazians but Russia has invaded a sovereign nation. They have lied repeatedly to the the world about it intentions and it commitment to retreat.

However, their stance and action, as aggressive as they are, are not abnormal for the Russians. We expect this behavior. They are behaving as the old Soviet regimes -- they do whatever they want in their part of the world.

The Russians seem to think the ex-republics (SSRs) are subservient to them. They have animosity toward Georgia, Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia because of their friendship with the West.

Sarkosy did his best Neville Chamberlain impression. Condi Rice offered little more, until today.

The U.S. signed a deal with Poland allowing it to install missiles at a base on the Baltic Sea. It already has an agreement to build a radar station in the Czech Republic.

Not surprisingly, Russia is opposed to this. Today, Russia threatened to go beyond diplomatic protests in response to the signing of a U.S.-Polish deal to base part of an American missile defense system in Poland.

So what are the US and its European counterparts going to do? They'll pass resolutions for sure. They'll make speeches describing their opposition to it. But Russia does not seem the least frightened.

I wish the West took action against them. I wish they'd give Russia an ultimatum to get out of Georgia or risk military strikes on those units within Georgia including South Ossetia and Abkazia. But the West will not do this.

It is interesting to read the words of the LDS Prophet David O. McKay said in April 1942 (Conference Report): "There are...two conditions which may justify a truly Christian man to enter -- mind you, I say enter, not begin -- a war: 1) an attempt to dominate and to deprive another of his free agency, and, 2) loyalty to his country. Possibly there is a third, [namely], defense of a weak nation that is being unjustly crushed by a strong, ruthless one."

Are NATO and the US justified in attacking Russia's position within Georgia? Will they be justified when Russia does this to the Ukraine? One prophet says yes.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Michael Phelps

I have watched some of these Olympics every day since they began. I have enjoyed them, especially the not-as-popular sports. But I cannot let this pass without acknowledging the accomplishments of Michael Phelps.

Four years ago in Athens, he earned six gold and two bronze medals. This year in Beijing, he was scheduled to participate in eight events -- five individual and three relays. He had 17 swims (qualifyings, semis and finals) over nine days. On Sunday, it ended triumphantly.

He won or was part of the winning team in eight events: 200m free, 100m fly, 200m fly, 200m IM, 400m IM, 4x100m free relay, 4x200m free relay, 4x100m medley relay. He was close to silver in two: winning the 100m butterfly by 0.01 second over Russian Milorad Cavic and seeing anchor Jason Lezak catch Frenchman Alain Bernard for the 4x100m freestyle relay win by just 0.08 second.

Certainly, if it wasn't for Phelps, the talk would be about Natalie Coughlin. She participated in six events: 100m back, 100m free, 200m IM, 4x100m free relay, 4x200m free relay, 4x100m medley relay. She earned a gold, two silvers and three bronzes. These joined the two gold, two silvers and bronze she won in Athens. The six medals in one Olympics is the most for a female. Her eleven medals trail only Dara Torres and Jenny Thompson, each with 12.

Another week of Olympics will be fun. Then I am back to MLB, ready for NCAA football, the NFL and the EPL (which got underway yesterday; performing well in my first week in the Fantasy Premier League).

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Fairness Doctrine is Unfair

The concept behind the so-called fairness doctrine is that equal weight, airtime, opinions, etc. should be guaranteed to both sides of an argument. Specifically, the intent is to put the kibosh on conservative radio and blogs.

According to the Rasmussen Reports:
Nearly half of Americans (47%) believe the government should require all radio and television stations to offer equal amounts of conservative and liberal political commentary, but they draw the line at imposing that same requirement on the Internet. Thirty-nine percent (39%) say leave radio and TV alone, too.

At the same time, 71% say it is already possible for just about any political view to be heard in today’s media, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Twenty percent (20%) do not agree.

Fifty-seven percent (57%) say the government should not require websites and blog sites that offer political commentary to present opposing viewpoints. But 31% believe the Internet sites should be forced to balance their commentary.
My first thought was: which idiots did they poll? As expected more Democrats favor media equality than Republicans.

Conservative shows do not hide their agendas. They are clearly opinionated shows. No one is trying to trick the listener. They are on the air because they are successful and advertisers pay for air time. Liberal-labeled talk shows have failed. Not enough listeners and advertisers. Pure business.

The main stream media (aka drive-by media) is certainly more liberal than conservative. Despite general belief, FOX News is more centrist-oriented than it is right-leaning. All of the others -- CNN, CNN HL, MSNBC -- are all left-wing with isolated examples otherwise.

The "doctrine" also has eyes on the blogosphere. Bloggers are one of the great outlets in modern media. You can come from any political persuasion and you can have a voice.

The fairness doctrine is unfair by its nature. It assumes that people are too stupid to distinguish between "sides of an issue." It implies that some governmental agency will be a better barometer than the public.

Right wing radio survives due to market dynamics. It media outlet are forced to cover issues equally, it will turn-off listeners and reduce the value proposition of many media options.

The hidden agenda is that those who favor the fairness doctrine hope to see the demise of right wing voice. They can care less about equality. They know that the conservative voice is mainly limited to AM radio and the Internet. Their fairness doctrine has those two items in its cross-hairs.

It seems those promoting this "doctrine" prefer the Chinese and Russian media model. They prefer to thumb their noses at the First Amendment, believing that "abridging the freedom of speech" is nothing more than an antiquated idea.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Russia vs Georgia: Is There a Right or Wrong Side?

Russia is claiming a pull back out of Georgia -- that operation Georgia is now over. There's no reason to believe that this political maneuver is over. It may be hiatus but it is not over.

The Caucasus region of the world has been Russia's. It is comprised of the sovereign nations of Russia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and to a lesser extent Armenia. The later two nothing more than old Soviet satellites, from the Russian perspective. Militarily, these satellites cannot survive on their own. Hence their desire to become part of NATO.

In the middle of all of this are the disputed territories of Abkhazia, Chechnya, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh. Each of these has seen its share of violence. On the map, you can see that each of these was considered an Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic during the Soviet Union.

Add to this mix the ASSR's of Dagestan, Kabardina Balkar and North Ossetia along with the A.O. of Karachai-Cherkess.

On the second map, you can see the languages that are spoke in the greater Caucasus area. There are at least 28 unique peoples and languages in the area.

Russia is emboldened after years of post-Cold War embarrassment -- a third-world nation with a first-world military. Russia is now rich with money due to their energy resources. Europe cannot survive without them. The world markets require their energy.

They are going to look out for their best interests, regardless of what the U.S., NATO or the U.N. say. Georgia is saying this in an unprovoked attack and that America, etc. should come to their defense.

The problem for America is that Georgia is an ally. There is a strong movement to bring them into NATO. What does it mean to be an ally if your allies will not come to your defense in time of need. If they become a NATO member, then the NATO members have an even stronger "obligation" to come to their defense.

I do not think it is in America's best interest to promote Georgia or any Soviet satellite state's NATO membership. Few NATO members, including America, will be willing to defend those nations.

It has been the American policy to promote democracies wherever it can. Georgia had been somewhat of a success story.

I don't blame Russia for wanting to enforce it will on it border republics. I do not fault Georgia for its activities in attempting to control the disputed territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia; since they are within Georgia.

Those outside of the conflict are the one's looking stupid. All of the "warnings" and "requests for fighting halts" coming out of the West are nothing more than rhetoric. Russia will do what it wants to do and no one will do anything about it, especially in their "part" of the world.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Russian Republics No Simple Matter

Ossetia has been operating as a somewhat autonomous region in both Georgia and Russia -- North Ossetia in Russia and South Ossetia in Georgia. Some Ossetians would welcome an independent nation, others autonomy within Russia, others autonomy within Georgia and still other pretty much as it is.

Another province, Abkhazia, has similar, albeit unique, aspirations as South Ossetia.

No sides are without blood in these conflict. Georgia's weekend military moves have caused great harm to those in South Osentia, while the Russians, in retaliation, have inflicted damage on the Georgians.

Both South Ossetia and Abkhazia have run their own affairs without international recognition since fighting to split from Georgia in the early 1990s. Both separatist provinces have close ties with Moscow. Georgia has deeply angered Russia by wanting to join NATO.

What makes this intriguing is in the context of renewed cold war-style tensions and an East-West struggle for regional influence.

The maneuver — along with bombing of the Georgian capital, Tbilisi — seemed to suggest that Russia’s aims in the conflict had gone beyond securing the pro-Russian enclaves of South Ossetia and Abkhazia to weakening the armed forces of Georgia.
Georgia said Sunday that it had withdrawn its army from South Ossetia and offered a cease-fire after two days of all-out war over the breakaway region, claiming overwhelming Russian military might and warning that Moscow was opening up a second front in Abkhazia.
Russia is emboldened. They have energy and growing wealth as a result. They are not pleased with America's and NATO's objective of a missile defense shield. They also know that America will not do anything but provide rhetoric.

Bottom line is that adding new countries to NATO that were once part of the Soviet Union bring with it some serious baggage. I doubt America is going to come to the rescue of Georgia, despite their support for coalition military actions.

America is not going to defend Georgia just like Russia, if push comes to shove, is not going to defend Cuba.

Putin, Medvedev and all of the other ex-KGB cronies cannot and should not be trusted.

Russia is quick to defend pro-Russian republics but is quick to squash the DOZENS of other internal enclave and provincial nationalistic uprisings.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

XXIX Summer Olympics

I am a fan of the Olympics. It give me a chance to see sports I rarely see. But the coverage of them by NBC is pathetic. I have to force myself to watch when I do.

The athletics will compete in 302 events (165 men’s events, 127 women’s events, and 10 mixed events). They include: diving, swimming, synchronized swimming, Water polo, archery, athletics, badminton, baseball, basketball, boxing, canoeing, cycling, equestrian, fencing, field hockey, football, gymnastics, handball, judo, modern pentathlon, rowing, sailing, shooting, softball, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, triathlon, volleyball, weightlifting, wrestling.

I was reading the other day in Sports Illustrated. It predicted the U.S. to win more golds but the Chinese to win more overall medals. Most of the events America will win are in track and field and swimming. Less a few others, the bulk of the events are marginal sports within our society -- not to take away from any of the athletes that compete in them.

Nevertheless, it is those events and those athletes that we enjoy watching.

Today, some idiot from NBC actually said that the opening ceremony was perhaps the most important event in China's 5000 history.

Despite the tens of billions they will spend on the Olympics, China is an armpit. They have no respect for human rights. They could care less about pollution. They could care less if people lose their lives performing their jobs, or need to be relocated for the good of the nation, or have little personal freedom.

Any visiting athlete that says the polluted air will cause them health problems should be embarrassed. How'd you like to live in that crap every day like the Chinese people do?

As I watched that waste-of-money opening ceremony, I could only wonder about the short-term future of any of the 15,000 performers that mis-stepped or failed to do their job with 100 percent accuracy. It would not shock me to see them placed in some detention center for a number of years on the charge of national and party embarrassment.

I'll watch the events, but I'll complain about NBC the whole time. I will turn the channel or the volume down on any of their human-interests stories.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Russia Back in Cuba

With all of the attending these days on China, it is interesting what is going on in Russia. Russia is loaded with raw energy -- oil and massive reserves of natural gas. The amount of money flowing into Russia, unfortunately into the hands of a handful of oligarchs and the governmental intercircle.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has
called for renewed ties with Cuba as Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin disclosed a deal to sell passenger jets to the island nation. "We need to rebuild our positions in Cuba and other countries."
According to Andrei Klimov, deputy head of the International Affairs Committee at the State Duma, lower house of the parliament:
"Russia should take advantage of all its capabilities to protect its national interests, including the interests in the field of security. Russia should 'own its supporting points' in different regions in the world. Cuba's location has geopolitical importance and a presence in both economic and military affairs must be built in America.
Russia is taking advantage of a global changing situation due to energy and financial problems -- problems much more prevalant in America.

Why America listens to political diatribe over energy interdependence, alternative energy sources, environmentalism, conservation, car tune-ups and proper tire inflation (as national energy strategies), Russia is exploiting a strategic advantage is has over the West -- its domestic energy positon.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Let's Invest in Algae Plants

In the October 2007 National Geographic, there was an article on bio fuel. It discussed the pluses and minuses of each source including the energy balance (how much fossil-fuel input is required to produce the bio fuel output.)

Corn-based Ethanol is one of the worst. We only do it here because of the agriculture lobby. It is ignorant policy. Sugar cane, abundant in Brazil, provide a better yield. Palm oil, as found in SE Asia is better still. But the best is algae.

I know the science is still a work in progress, but a closed loop algae reactor has the potential of being the key to our energy independence.

Oilgae provides a good algae energy tutorial. Solix Biofuels and GreenFuel Technologies are among several startups betting their futures on the photosynthetic powers of unicellular algae.

Valcent has a closed-loop photosynthesis bioreactor (high density vertical reactor). It claims it can tailor the algae carbon chains into specific bio fuels -- jet fuel, diesel, gasoline -- with low CO2 emissions. Its three minute video claims the algae can produce as many as 20,000 barrels of oil each year from one acre of land (in a vertical reactor). Compare this to corn (18 gallons/acre) and palm oil (750 barrels/acre).

They claim if we dedicated one-tenth of the state of New Mexico to a series of closed-loop algae reactors, it would address all of America's energy needs.

Certain more intriguing than some of the alternatives.

Pelosi Adjourns Against Some Republican

Today, just before noon, Speaker Pelosi adjourned the House and turned off the lights and killed the microphones, but Republicans remain on the floor talking gas prices.

The protest is against Pelosi's refusal to schedule a vote allowing offshore drilling. The Democrats opted for their month-long August recess instead of addressing a tough issue.

This is great political drama. We need more of these stand-offs. Instead of debating an issue that is have a painful effect on the American economy, they'd rather bury their heads in the sand.

Whether or not we should help increase our energy supply from within is a great question to debate. Do environmentalist and those that complain about their "obstructed" views trump the pocketbooks of most Americans? Perhaps we should sell Russia back Alaska and demand they sell us Alaska oil at chaper prices?

It is too bad we cannot see this drama unfold live. C-SPAN, which does not control the cameras in the chamber, has stopped broadcasting the House floor.

Apparently, only about a half-dozen Republicans were on the floor when this began. The crowd has grown to about 20. I'd like to see all non-Democrats return.

Keep it up Republicans. Stay there for a month if you have to! This is too important an issue to punt on.

Second Economic Stimulus c/o Big Oil

The first economic stimulus package was a bad idea (borrow from yourself and pay it back at a higher rate in the future because we all need more stuff). The second or latest economic stimulus package supported by many Democrats include Barack the messiah, is free money for everyone paid for by the oil companies.

Obama called for energy rebates of up to $1,000, five years of a windfall profits tax on oil companies and $25 billion to replenish the highway trust fund.
Obama's new $50 billion economic stimulus plan
would use a windfall profits tax on oil companies to finance $500 tax rebates and aid to state governments for energy cost assistance, school construction and infrastructure building.
This comes right on the heals of record oil company profits. To the masses, this volume of profit does not feel right. Why should these companies profit when we pay such high prices at the pump, for our home heating oil, etc.?

Oil companies are in business to make profits. Should they be penalized for being successful? Remember, half of those profits go to the government in the form of taxes. (Too high of a percentage in my opinion.) Yet, despite record profits, the major oil companies' stock prices have fallen since the announcement. Why? Their profits were less than expected, production is slowing, costs are increasing impacting margins, and demand is starting to decrease.

Promising another "free check," this time paid for by oil companies, to the families of America is pure pandering. It is terrible economic policy. It is preying on economically ignorant Americans, which unfortunately is too large of a body.

This man, along with most politicians, are unqualified to lead this country. They pretend to lead the largest economy in the world yet would fail at managing any real business that was not a law firm.