“The real problem is not that we are different, nor that we disagree and have conflict. It's that most of us automatically view conflict as something negative rather than as a tool God can use to help us better understand ourselves and one another.

--Robert Ricciardelli”

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

10/31 News

In checking out todays news, I first discovered that, yesterday, Kate Phillips wrote a very pointed article espousing the virtues of Nancy Pelosi. Now, I can actually agree with some of the charges leveled against Republicans—individual Republicans. But, what I find interesting is the political gamesmanship the Democrats accuse the Republicans of that they too participate in. And, the cry of those on the Left is the same shrill “FOUL” they complain that the Right makes. For all the charges of the Left that are true, there are those from the Right, too—such as this commenter on the post:

I truly love the logic of you people. If the Republicans win, it must be due to rigged voting machines - not the fact that despite the huge mistakes they have madem, the idea of a Democrat controlled Senate remains truly frightening to most mainstream Americans. And the rigged election stuff is great: wasn’t it in liberal districts in Philly that more voters turned out than were registered to vote in the 2004 election? Despite all the whining and complaining, was there ever any sort of ‘proof’ of wrongdoing in Ohio produced by a credible source? And of course there is the 2000 election - we’re still waiting for proof of that supposed theft. Perhaps if the Democrat party actually gave the American people real, legitimate alternatives (rather than spending their time whining and complaining about past losses), there would be no possibility of the Republicans retaining control this year.
(…There is an awful lot of truth in this comment that both sides need to pay attention to…)

Then, I found this over at Blackfive.
During a campaign stop to support the Democrat gubernatorial candidate for California, Phil Angelides, John Kerry spoke about Education...and Iraq:
“You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.”
Now, that is scary—and makes me angry. The idea that lack of education is all that causes people to join the military and go to Iraq. Demographics studies have shown, that over all, our military is amazingly well educated. Talk about stereotyping! I thought Democrats were all against that profiling and stereotyping stuff?

If you want to check it out for yourself, Blackfive has an audio download link: John_Asshat_Kerry.mp3

John had a very amusing analysis of it over at Castle Argghhh. I’m still laughing my way through the discussion. Thanks John!

Michelle Malkin, as usual, has the biggest breakdown of Kerry’s latest stupidity, and some follow-up.

(...Meanwhile...in other news...)

The AP is reporting that U.S. Obeys Order to Abandon Checkpoints. The Iraqi government is flexing its muscle and telling US troops to leave checkpoints the militia stronghold of Sadr City. First, Maliki won’t crack down on them. Now, he’s refusing to let US/Coalition forces to do it either. Personally, I’m not expecting good news from this development.
(…I wonder what the Democrats will make out of that…)

Also in Iraq, a terrorist camera man, linked to Ayman Al Zawahiri, was arrested. Here’s the link to the raw video,
as posted at Reuters.
(…sure beats sniper video on CNN…)

And, the Labor Department is reporting that Wages and Benefits are up.
Wages and benefits paid to American workers rose in the July-September period at the fastest pace in more than two years.
Now, it is usual for industry and business to use a cycle of 3-5 years to adjust wages and such for their workers. They usually look at industry averages, local economy, etc. I would expect this to be the usual cycle. But, you want to bet the Democrats make a big outcry about this being some political move?
(…for the record, I know the announcement easily could be…but…so what…truth is truth…)

Speaking of politics and elections, American theater goers voted overwhelmingly against ”Death of a President”--the fictional assassination of President Bush. It grossed a measly $282,000 on opening weekend! Surprise, Hollywood! (…I mean, come on…even Sen. Hillary Clinton was against the film…that should have been a big clue…)

This AP report, via Yahoo, says the ration is 10 negative dollars to very 1 positve dollar spent on campaign advertising..
So far this campaign, the political parties have exposed voters to nearly $160 million in ads attacking congressional candidates. How much spent painting a positive image? About $17 million.
And, the Democrats seem to have outspent Republicans, although Republicans seem to be making slightly more negative ads.

Interestingly enough, the Media Research Center reported this:
A new study released today by the non-partisan Center for Media and
Public Affairs (CMPA) confirms the bias: more than three fourths
(77%) of ABC, CBS and NBC evening news references to Democrats this
fall have been favorable, while 88% of the coverage given GOP
candidates has been negative, an unprecedented disparity.
And this comes out right after ABC's Mark Halpern, speaking on The O'Reilly Factor admitted to media bias.
"If I were
a conservative, I understand why I would feel suspicious that I was
not going to get a fair break at the end of an election."
So where do the Democrats and other MSM folks come up with the idea that the media bias claims of conservatives are fiction? Can someone please explain this to me?
(...in a believable way, that is...)

Back at the AP, the Hubble Resue shuttle mission has been approved. The launch to repair the ailing telescope will go up in early 2008, and extend the lifespan through 2013.

In the Odd News of the day, there was this Reuters report of a dead woman winning re-election.
(…even I’m willing to admit there are a lot of screw-ups and problems due to individuals passing away…so, I’m sure this was just a paperwork issue…right?...)

Lastly, show your support for the military of our Canadian neighbors. Wear Red this Friday.

The Any Soldier Video

I began the creation of this video while on disability back in 2005. I'd been sendinng support boxes to several guys and gals for about 6 months at the time. And, I got bored and decided to try out a computer movie making program. It was created as an encouragement to the folks at Any Soldier, the troops, and anyone else who gets to see it. In some ways, it's kind of taken on a life of it's own since then. I hope you are blessed and encouraged by it.

And, LOOK AT THOSE NUMBERS FOR VALOUR-IT! The goals are $45,000. And, here are the closing day numbers for 10/30 11:59 Central (Day One):

Air Force: $2281.79
Army: $3896.00
Marines: $2365.00
Navy: $2027.00

To all visitors, please remember the Valour-IT Project. See my post here for information. Click the donate link at the top of this site to give what you can. You can also stop by other members of the Valour-IT Project, too.
The team leaders, once again, are:
Jarheads (Marines) Villainous Company
Zoomies (Air Force) Op For
Squids (Navy) Chaotic Synaptic Activity.
Doggies (Army) Blackfive
Please be as generous as you can, to both Valour-IT and Any Soldier.

Monday, October 30, 2006


Today, after work, I was checking my favorite MilBlog sites and found the kick off notices for the Valour-IT projcet. Bloggers who have served in the various services are teaming up to raise money in a military kind of friendly rivalry for Valour-IT. (...by the way that stands for Voice-Activated Laptops for OUR Injured Troops...)

I hate to admit it, but I had to think about it for a few minutes. I've done a lot to spread the word about Any Soldier (...even made a video for 'em...hopefully I can post it in here one day soon...) And, my daughter and son-in-law currently serve in the Army. I wondered if I should join Team Army. But, I had served Air Force in the early 80s. So, I notified the Team Air Force CO, Op-For that I am on board! So, any old...or new for that matter...Air Force folks...and anyone else who wants to (...as Team Air Force, of course...) who can help, join the team and spread the word! (...do we dare let the grunts, jarheads and squids out do us?...)

Here's the gist of what's going on from Soldier Angels:

Project Valour-IT, in memory of SFC William V. Ziegenfuss, provides voice-controlled laptop computers to wounded Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines recovering from hand and arm injuries or amputations at home or in military hospitals. Operating laptops by speaking into a microphone, our wounded heroes are able to send and receive messages from friends and loved ones, surf the 'Net, and communicate with buddies still in the field without having to press a key or move a mouse. The experience of CPT Charles "Chuck" Ziegenfuss, a partner in the project who suffered severe hand wounds while serving in Iraq, illustrates how important this voice-controlled software can be to a wounded servicemember's recovery.
And, for those who ABSOLTELY must support another service branch (…I will find you later…) here’s the list, as reported by BLACKFIVE:
Jarheads (Marines) will be led by Villainous Company
Zoomies (Air Force) will be led by Op For
Squids (Navy) will be led by Chaotic Synaptic Activity.
Doggies (Army) led by Matt and Jim of Blackfive

It's a tax-deductible donation and eligible for matching funds from companies who do that sort of thing (see: http://soldiersangels.org/valour/irsinfo.html for proof for the cautious). Just click the donation link at the top of the page to do the electronic thing. The snail mail address for those who'd rather donate that way (be sure to put AIR FORCE in big letters on the check):
Soldiers' Angels
1150 N Loop 1604 W, Suite 108-493
San Antonio, TX 78248

Let's be a part of something big.

Some Laughs And Some News

First, there was this from Mallar Fillmore

Duncan Hunter (R-Calif) announced he is going to run for President. Favored to win his house re-election campaign in San Diego, Duncan could also end up losing his chairmanship of the Armed Services Committee in this year's election. He's helped block creation of a National Intelligence Director, introduced the Parents Empowerment Act, he has stood up to Murtha over Iraq, and he co-authored legislation for the Border fence. Doesn't sound too bad...except that there are much stronger favorites set to run.
(...sounds like little more than a PR stunt to me...how about you...)

According to Reuters, Syria still smuggles weapons smuggled into Lebanon. No big surprise there. Ambassaador Bolton suggested the lack of complaint by the Lebanese governemtn was probably due to fear of Syrian reprisal. The reported response from the top UN diplomat, Terje Roed-Larsen?

Asked about Bolton's comments, Roed-Larsen said he had no specific information about threats of retaliation.

But he noted there had been 14 assassinations or attempted assassinations in Lebanon since the February 2005 murder of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.
(...Gee...can't imagine how that would intimidate someone...)

And, according to USAToday:
Daily circulation fell 2.8% at U.S. newspapers in the six-month period ending in September, an industry group reported Monday, latest sign of struggle as newspapers try to hold on to paying readers.
Of course, given the growing news of internet power, it's a small wonder that printed material is dropping in demand. (...and the on-line article had an RSS feed, too...imagine that...)

In another USAToday article, fewer cops died in 2005. Isn't it interesting that we can get current numbers on Iraq, but figures inside our own country are 9 months after the fact. The fact that all 55 of the slain officers were killed in cities is a bad indicator about urban life. Which seques nicely (...uuummm...distrubingly...) to the news that St.Louis is the most dangerous city in the US. And, even that news is based on 2005 numbers. Now, I understand that it takes time to compile data. But, 10 months? Come on.

Of course, this should be no real surprise. Despite Pakistani admission of doing the deed, the militants still blame the US for destroying the village. Aparrently, the logic is we sold Pakistan the weapons and aircraft. Say, if that logic is true, how come no one ever blamed the Russians for all the people killed with their weapons? That's as absurd as the anit-gun lobby argument that guns are the problem instead of people.
(...by the way, while I do agree that people do have problems with guns, if we don't solve the people problem, we will never solve the gun problem...we are working at it in the wrong direction...)

And, on the elections, Scott Elliot at Election Projection 2006 had some dismal information today. Let's truly hope he's wrong. Aside from the after effects of this becoming tue, the fact that--repeatedly--the American people will put those in office who have no real plan to accomplish anything is a horrible predictor for our national future.
(...I had forgotten about this source...thanks Castle Argghhh for the reminder...)

If this didn't want to make you cry, it would be funny. I've linked Michelle Malkin for this one. But, there are dozens of sites talking about the recent massive faux pas of the Left regarding Blackface ads. Michelle's write up actually links to smoe better comentary than some of the others, though.
(...and I'll join the host of others asking: why is OK for you, but not those on the Right?...)

So, finally, in a closing note of humor, I send you to the infamous Taco Bell over at Sandgram had this post on how to prepare for a deployment to Iraq.
(...I'm my ribs still hurt and I'm still snickering as I tell you to go read it...)

News Bites 10/30 am

Well, this morning, before leaving work, I wandered around the net and camped out at Yahoo for a bit to check on the news. A couple of things caught my eye.

A Pakistani “anti-terrorist” attack may cause more problems than it solves, based on this report. Admittedly, given the track record, I would not be surprised to find out that there really were kids in the village—along with a bunch of terrorists. Terrorists have not, in general shown much regard for civilians, much less children. They tend to have no qualms about sacrificing the weaker elements of society.
(…although why they get away with blaming everyone else for it I have never understood…)

Meanwhile, Power Line asked a really good question. Can we control anarchy? There is no argument that the US military can beat any military force in the field. But, as he points out, we are not facing military forces. Anarchists are those who refuse to submit to established authority insisting on their own authority. That’s a pretty good description of the Iraqi militias. With Prime Minister Maliki refusing to reign in those militias,…well…can we really expect much change? It’s a tough question. What’s your answer?

Here are two announcements that seem strangely timed as a con-incidence. In this Reuters article the Democrats announced:

Even if Democrats win control of Congress in elections next week, an immediate change of course in Iraq policy is unlikely, the party's chairman said on Sunday.
And, in another not-so surprising announcement, the Iraqis want the US mandate extended.

David at The Volohk Conspiriacy had a great article on the Jews And Europe—no longer wanted by the Left, if they support Israel (i.e. nationalism). It has some great historical insight on the Jews being European victims again--for not towing the liberal/left wing line.

Here’s an interesting insight to poll numbers. According to John McIntyre, it’s about what you choose to believe. Given two basic views of the polling numbers, it all depends on how you want to look at it.

On the subject of elections, the NY Times had this not-so-surprising article. It starts with:
In their push to win back control of the House, Democrats have turned to conservative and moderate candidates who fit the profiles of their districts more closely than the profile of the national party.
The rest is interesting insight to tactics and ideas. Check it out.

And, Cal Thomas, at Real Clear Politics points out that, despite his faults, Rumsfeld can clearly see things that lie ahead. Cal points out that in 1984, Rumsfeld clearly recognized the growing threat of terror—and it’s future impact if not dealt with and planned for. We should all take a lesson, and learn to look ahead for problems, instead of just our own agenda.

Who Really Controls The Internet?

We need to take a serious look at who has how much influence via the internet. I’ve been watching the news for just the last couple weeks, and I’ve actually become concerned for conservatives. Supposedly, evangelical Christians compose the majority of the Right wing. True or not, for the sake of discussion, we'll accept it for now. The immediate problem is that the Church has always been the last to take advantage of technological development. So, while we conservatives may control talk radio, the liberals have taken over the blogosphere.

Let’s talk about fundraising activities. Check out this from Act Blue. Or, check out this from the Ft. Worth Star Telegram. Clearly, the left is more organized in terms of benefiting from the internet.

Let’s talk about pure influence. The NY Times reported a left wing plot to manipulate Google data. If you read the article, it's not such a fantasy idea as you might believe. You should add to that what Robert Cox, at the Examiner wrote about who owns what. It turns out all the major portals to the internet are owed or controlled by the left.

Don’t think it matters? Consider that, according to USA Today, 98 percent of the money donated to political parties by Google employees — “Google Millionaires” — went to Democrats.

But it’s not just Google’s media and financial muscle that benefits the left. Liberals run the leading blog search engine — Technorati. They run the leading blog software manufacturer — Six Apart. They invented two of the most important blogging technologies — Podcasting and RSS. The list goes on and on.

There was also this note on Blogger:
There's a saying in the software industry -- it's always good to eat your own dog food. Wikipedia has a great article about this:
"... the company has not merely considered the value of the product for consumers (that is, whether the dog will eat the dog food), but actually is a consumer of the product. When properly executed, this can add a new level of sincerity to advertising and customer relations, as well as helping to shape the product."

Blogger is quintessentially Google dogfood. We use it to publish the main Google Blog, ad-related blogs like Inside AdWords and AdSense, product-specific blogs like those for Reader and Book Search, and even language-specific blogs like Google 한국 블로그 and Google Россия. At last count there were 37 Google blogs powered by Blogger, and even more are in the works.
I’ll quote Robert Cox, again: “Still don’t think it matters?”

The big bright spots for the Right, such as they are, can be found at the Milblogger Ring and The Truth Laid Bare. The Milblogger Ring has successfully brought together those of the military stripe for mutual support and information. And, over at The Truth Laid Bare, you’ll find a list of the top blogs linked to their ecosystem. Their list has blogs from all political stripes, which is good. But, take a trip through the top 30 links and see how many of each side there are. Even there, the Left has some dominance.

The question is what is the Right going to do? Is there room in the markets for a Right Wing version of Google? RSS? YouTube? I don’t know, but I hope there is. I do know that the informational strangle hold of the MSM and the internet will not get better if the Right does nothing.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Team MVPs

One of my goals when I first started coaching was to help the kids learn to honor each other. So, I came up with season awards. Yeah, I know, every coach does this. And usually, it’s a pretty big list so that everyone gets an award. But that’s not what I did. I don’t believe in giving awards just for the sake of giving awards. I created a list of awards where not every player would get one. I had 14 players that year, and I only gave out 9 awards. Four of those awards were decided by how you played on the ice (points, goals, etc.). The rest were voted on by the team. Team MVP started out being a coach’s choice. That stopped the first time I did this. Here’s why:

I gave out a little flyer to each player to vote on who was worthy of being named to the awards: best defenseman, best defensive forward, most improved player, and best rookie. On the bottom, I included a place to vote for the team MVP. I was pretty curious what the players would choose-- but, I had already decided who would get it. I based my decision on how the team had rallied around a mid-season recruit we had picked up. He was our scoring leader hands down. But, his appearance had also caused the rest of team to double in scoring. Prior to his appearance, we had lost 7 games straight—and there were only 8 left to go. We only lost two more the rest of the season. Needless to say, because of their reaction to him, this kid was named team captain.

We were playing in the house leagues—which means every team goes to the playoffs, so we had a possible three more games added to the season. Despite being the basement team all year long, the team roared into the playoffs. And, those kids ended up winning the championship in a shoot out against a team they had not beaten all season. It was awesome! I got the last of the ballots back after that championship game, went home and started tallying the votes. By the way, I love it when kids catch on to something. There is nothing quite like watching the light go on their eyes as they “get it” and go run with it. And these kids “got it” better than I did.

I mentioned we lost the first 7 games of the season (10-0, 7-0, 4-1, 4-3, 2-1, 4-1, and 7-1). What I didn’t say was our goalie, after six games, had a goals against average of 5.66. If you go back and read my previous post about the season, you’ll know I struggled early on as a coach. But, our goalie hung in there. At the end of the regular season, our goalie had a goals against average of 3.75. Her playoff goals against average was a flat 2.00. Yup, you read that right, our goalie was a girl. (...the US ladies won Olympic gold that year, too...imagine that...who says girls can't play the game?...)

The voting that year for team MVP was actually split between our mid season addition and our goalie. The best part? My two MVPs voted for each other. Those 12-13 year old kids recognized who got them where they were, better than I had. And, they honored it.

Like I said, I love it when kids catch on to something.

Interesting Commentaries...

I finally got back to check in at A Soldier’s Perspective. I found his break down of “A State of Denial” by Bob Woodward to be fascinating. I think this is the best quote from the article:

Woodward’s book is a contradictory in terms. He gives example of example of why Bush had every right to go into Iraq but then calls him naive for doing so. He admits that vehicles were tracked from suspected WMD site only to drive unopposed into Syria.[p.99] His perfect 20/20 hindsight works to his favor in trashing Rumsfeld and attempting to do so with Bush too.
I thought his take that it was more a trash of Rumsfeld than Bush was especially interesting. Even so, I am constantly amazed how the left and the right only seem to read and remember the things that support their position—but never really listen to all that is said. (…I haven’t had a chance to read the book yet…it is, however, on my A list…)

I’m curious. Now, when Christopher Soghoian created his fake boarding pass generator, admittedly he broke all kinds of security regulations. And, he should get in some kind of trouble for it. However, like those on the Left who are loudly lauded for such actions—in spite of breaking the law—he should also be rewarded for finding this flaw in airport security. Yet, according to this report from Wired News, the Democrats seem to be howling the most for prosecution. What’s the deal?

And, I thought this write up on the George Allen – James Webb Campaign really said all that needs to be said. Personally, I think it needs to be said about most campaigns. Way to go Captain!

And, from the Washington Times, on October 25, comes this insightful article on things Muslim. Given the situation in France on top of everything he mentions, I find it a frighteningly realistic assessment.

Then there was Jonathan Hotto, as presented by “Appeal for Redress”. Of course, there is a lot out there they didn’t tell you. It is SO interesting how the Left wing supporters, and the media announcements, go so far in leaving out details of Hotto’s past. And, yet, they are so good at finding the faults of those on the Right.
(…it fits with the sex scandal stuff…at least the Republicans get rid of their perverts…they do tend to hang on to guys like Hotto, though...so, are we a pot calling the kettle black?...hopefully, we’re just revealing the truth so both sides can get on with it…)
I would be quite happy just to see the media give all sides the same level of consideration and investigation.
(…can say CNN sniper video terrorist propaganda?...)

And, in my continuing discovery of information regarding the Left and the internet (…see this and this and this…), I found this article over at PolicyByBlog about what Left wing politicians are doing to make use of Blogosphere. Meanwhile, there was this article I have oft linked about the Right. A vast, very concerning, difference between the two sides.

The NY Times had this article on Staying The Course. It's a pretty good analysis of the linguistics that are currently causing the Bush administration so much trouble. But, it glosses over something the president said which is an accurate description of what "Stay the course" really deals with:
“Stay the course’ means keep doing what you’re doing. My attitude is, don’t do what you’re doing if it’s not working — change. ‘Stay the course’ also means don’t leave before the job is done.
It had a great goute, too, regarding the Democratic position:
And if the president loses, does that mean the Democrats will win? Perhaps. But if they do, it will be because of Republican missteps and not because they’ve acted with strategic brilliance. Their “new direction” slogan offers no values and no positive vision...

...This is a shame. The Democrats are giving up a golden opportunity to accurately frame their values and deepest principles (even on national security), to forge a public identity that fits those values — and perhaps to win more close races by being positive and having a vision worth voting for.

Right now, though, no language articulating a Democratic vision seems in the offing. If the Democrats don’t find a more assertive strategy, their gains will be short-lived. They, too, will learn the pitfalls of staying the course.
It's a pity both of those statements are true.

Meanwhile, and finally, there was this review of the EU’s proposed Modern Rules for TV and TV-Like Services" [PDF].
(…not very encouraging, since we so often follow the Europeans...well…when the Left is in control…)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

NHL Rookie Issues

There are limits on how long a player can play before he loses his eligibility to play in juniors. And, there should be limits. You don’t want NHL veterans going back to overrun everybody in juniors. That would not be cool. The problem is there are some very good junior players getting drafted these days.

Let’s take a look at two: Jordan Staal of the Pittsburgh Penguinsand Marc Edouard Vlasic of the San Jose Sharks.

San Jose has already decided not to send Vlasic back to the juniors. Though he hasn’t been scoring, the Sharks really like what they see. On the other end of the spectrum, Staal, the Pens number 2 draft choice this summer, already has four goals. The Pens haven’t said what they are going to do, but Marc Recchi doesn’t want him to go back.

So, what do you do? Complaints have been raging—for years--about the dilution of the talent pool due to expansion. That expansion and re-alignment has been moving through the minor leagues, too. Even the Europeans have begun complaining about it. And, teams themselves are generally not helping. For example, the Canes recently traded prospect Jack Johnson after he announced his intent to finish college at Michigan.

Say what you want about expansion diluting the talent pool. Personally, I think greed has more to do with it than expansion. As long as there are no dis-incentives for players to develop more at lower levels, they will continue to move up—and teams will let them.

I am all for increasing the talent levels in professional and amateur hockey. I would love to see an amendment to the current CBA (…or an improvement to the next one…) that forces the issue—refusing to let players, no matter how good, move to the NHL without a certain amount of developmental time in college/junior and minor league play. (…say at least to the end of school, or whatever that would be for junior players…and two years in the minors?...what do you think?...)

Today's News! (...for once...)

Of course, the BIG sports news of the day: Cardinals win the World Series after 24 years.(…I’m not a baseball fan…sorry…but it was definitely worth mentioning….being an old St. Louis bot..seriously…grew up in West County St. Louis…) GO BIRDS!

In a piece of science news, the Hubble telescope is basically dying. The questions is should we keep it alive? It’s possible to keep it going until 2013, if we put a shuttle mission on it in the next couple of years. Otherwise…
(...and your thoughts are...???...)

Speaking of figuring out what to do, it seems that Buyers don't want fuel efficient vehicles. Well…big shock that is. Fuel efficiency makes cars much more expensive in the market. (…I don’ think it has to…but look at prices for the more fuel efficient models…) Manufacturers are very good at creating markets for what they make. So why can’t they create the market for fuel efficient cars. Isn’t that what advertising (...as opposed to activism...) is all about?
(…on a side note…speaking as a Christian…how come we Christians aren’t leading the charge for fuel efficiency and alternative fuels?...You don’t have to worship the earth in order to care about it…or manage the resources we have ..well…just a thought…)

The economy, of course gives a good segue to election issues and news. Did you know that 30% of state candidates run unopposed? That’s staggering. Given the cost of an election, I can understand everyone not getting into it. But, for 3 out of 10 to be just handed their positions is amazing! If we believe in our political positions, and the benefits of a diverse political system, why are there so many of these?
(…personally, I find it really hard to believe that big of a majority of one party live in all of these districts…)

And, according to a CNN report, people believe there should less or no constraints for judges. Well, is constraints really the right word? Judges—federal judges anyway--were originally supposed to interpret law. However, judges have increasingly taken the stance of establishing and writing law from the bench. I think our judicial system needs to return to the original intended purpose. And, I don’t call that a constraint. For example, a federal judge gave a 30 minute eulogy/sermon before sentencing David Safavian 18 months. I’m not saying Safavian wasn’t guilty, but, given the “sermon” over Washington corruption, it was a pretty light sentence. That’s not what the bench is for. Personal opinions can and should be aired freely in this country. Legal opinions, however, should be spoken from the bench—not personal opinions.
(…not that Washington isn’t a corrupt place…on both political sides of the aisle…)

All of which leads us to …the Middle East…

Thought this comment from this article at CBS was interesting:

All goals in life have to have a plan and a timeframe in which to implement them.The failure of Al Maliki to set forth a plan and a timeframe suggest that he is not the U.S. ally or his own country friend.He is apppearing to be a weak leader,unabable to reign in the militias.If he cannot reign them in then there is no chance for Iraq to have stability with him in power.He appears to be more of a puppet of Al Sadr than a ruler of his people.Time for him to go.
I don’t have a problem with the Maliki’s comments about deserving to be treated as a legitimate government. I even agree! But, I do have a problem with his back and forth and not getting anything done—like reigning in the militias run by his brother Shiites. If not the US, he owes his own people that much.

One of the Palestinian groups involved claim deal is close for the Israeli soldier being held hostage. One soldier for 1400 prisoners. Something about it doesn’t seem right to me.
(…not a comment on rightful or wrongful imprisonment…just a comment on the general numbers…why is that Islamic terrorist groups can make such outrageous demands, and make us believe it is their right to get their demands met…I don’t let my kids get away with that…these are adults!...)

And, I’ll follow that with a couple of other notes on Muslim intransigence. The Taliban in Afghanistan refuse to negotiate with the government. Now, I admit they have some differences. But, how come the terrorists don’t have to learn to talk through things with others? They get to throw their little temper fits(…with grenades, rockets, bullets…) and we say we’re sorry and give them what they want. Take a look at France! They are still suffering violence a year later. Admittedly, it has slacked off here lately. But, that’s after an average of 112 cars a day have been getting torched. Now they are forcing people off busses at gunpoint and burning the busses!

(…OK…I’ll get off that soapbox and end that tirade…for now...and, I’ll end on a lighter note…)

Given all the problems we have with sugar and fried food, someone has really gone over the top. They have created a Frired Coke concoction! Doughballs, coke syrup (…talk about sugar concentration…), whipped cream, and of course…a cherry on top. As if we didn’t have cholestoral problems enough already...Well...Happy eating!

From The Hockey World

John Ondrasik from Sports Illustrated’s Five For Fighting had this to say about declining NHL attendance so far this season. Given the problems of OLN/VERSUS not being in a lot of markets, it doesn't surpise me much that interest is down. We are a very visual society. I hope the NHL finds solutions for that...quickly.

SI also reports that the jury is still out on the Flyers. The consensus is Hitchcock will land somewhere--he is a good coach, actually, even if he is inflexible in his systems. The new Flyers coach? And, the roster?...Well...The Hockey News had this report on the Flyers first win since the change. After their start this year, it can't get much worse...can it?

And, then there was this article from The Hockey News slamming the NHL practice of rushing European players into the game. Well...is that really a surprise? With the diluted talent pool here in North America from major and minor ice hockey expansion, is it really a surprise that such a problem would affect the European players, too? Actually, I probably shouldn't have said "slamming the NHL". The NHL teams and scouts and recruiters deserve the rebuke. Hopefully, expansion is done with for a long while. At most, teams will just move around (...can you say Pittsburgh Penguins...).

And, since we’re over at The Hockey News, you might visit their NHL Season Primer. It was a lot of interesting thoughts. (…if you’re interested, you might stop over at ESPN and compare John Buccigross’s predictions for the West and the East…)

Of course…WAY TO GO BUFFALO! Ten straight wins to tie the NHL record for season starts! The Ducks are still undefeated, too. Interesting stuff…

By the way, the Philadelphia Flyers are making moves in the minors. NHL veteran Joe Mullen has been named the new head coach of their AHL affiliate the Philadelphia Phantoms.

Born in New York City, Mullen scored 502 goals and totaled 1,063 points in 1,062 career NHL games played from 1981-97. He won Stanley Cup championships in Calgary (1989) and Pittsburgh (1991, 1992), and was a two-time recipient of the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for gentlemanly play.
And, he has a good coaching resume, too.

And, how about those San Jose Sharks? You might want to read This article about their recruiting and development program success.
(…71% from within is pretty good…says a lot for commitment to your players…and future possibilities...)

Lastly, in other minor league news, here’s a heartwarmer from the CHL.
(…this is how it should be done…)

The News, And In Memorium...

Iraq Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki doesn’t seem to think anything has been firmly set up. For instance, there are no time tables of steps.

He said the envoy seemed to be referring to the government's own view of desirable developments, not necessarily action by the government itself. "It is not a timetable for the government but rather the issues needed to be solved," Maliki said.
So, let me get this right…all that’s been established from his point of view is a laundry list of the problems? Somehow, I don’t believe that’s what really happened—not with the current press fury for Bush action and accomplishment or how long both parties, the administration and the Prime Minster, said they have been working on this. (…I personally suspect he came under fire from his supporters—namely Shiite militia leader Moqtada al-Sadr…) For more info, I think Greyhawk said it best.

Tula Connel, over at Daily Kos had this to say about Bush’s Jobs program announcement. But, I’ve got this question: can you name me a president who hasn’t done something like this before an election? Admittedly before the electronic age we live in it was done a bit further away to allow the news to spread. But…come on! You want me to believe this something only Bush would do? Please! I’m smart enough to know better than that.

Still over at the Daily Kos, there was this entry calling on Democrats to lie and deceive in order to achieve their political objectives. The post goes into to some detail on why this would be OK. But, it strikes me as something akin to being no better than your enemies. However, to the credit of the Kos, there was this entry detailing how wrong such dishonesty would be—in view of trying to stand against the “Republican lie machine.” While I don’t agree with a lot of what is said at Kos, it was nice to see there are some there who care about doing it right.

In continued reporting of how well the Left is controlling and using the internet, Act Blue is reporting the total amount raised for Democratic candidates by Bloggers. The Ft. Worth Star Telegram gave out this report on how Bloggers are affecting candidates on both sides in Texas races. (…Conservatives may own talk radio, but obviously the internet is a powerhouse not to be ignored…)

Of course, the big news was the “Appeal For Redress” group. I’ve read reports on the right and the left—praising or vilifying due to affiliation with other anti-war groups. Well, I think both sides need to get over that. Any group will automatically affiliate with and receive support from those like itself. However, the The NY Sun brings to light some serious inconsistencies with the group, it’s spokesman, and some other things. Kudos to Chickenhawk for digging this out. You can go through the links there for lots more info.
(…Just mind the political rhetoric…smile, smile...kiss, kiss...wave, wave...)

Chickenhawk also reported verbal abuse of slain soldier’s mother by a peace activist. I’m not quite sure I would call it verbal abuse—definitely emotional, though. And this is someone who claims to support our troops? Give me a break! You want to prove you support our troops? Send a package with a kind word to a soldier to let him/her know they aren't forgotten.
(…Sheesh!...talk about a skewed view of others...for the record, I still haven’t figured out how it was decided that ALL soldiers are rapists and murderers, though…it’s been an recurring accusation since at least Vietnam…there’s no way EVERY soldier--or even a majority of them, for that matter-- could be doing that kind of thing…)

And, finally, we revisit Castle Argghhh. After reporting this yesterday (10/26) on Corporal Unger’s funeral. The castle Denizens go on to report this 10/27. (...thanks John for the wonderful pictures and reports!...) And, I join the Castle gang, and all military folks, in thanking the Patriot Guard Riders for their wonderful service. It is sad that the duty you perform must be done.
At our house, we remember the cry of the warriors:
"Tell them of us and say,
For their tomorrow, we gave our today."
--The Kohima Epitaph--

Cpl unger, we remember what you have given. And we say thank you for the tomorrows you have given others. May God give back to your family more than they have sacrificed and lost.
And, now, we join the denizens of Castle Argghhh in dancing In Memoriam.

Friday, October 27, 2006

A Thought...

I’ve been watching all the liberal stuff in politics, the media and in business for a while. I recognized some time ago that what we are seeing is the continued progression of the social movements in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The principal villains of old were the robber barons. They controlled the money, and they controlled the church to a great extent. And, we need to remember that they were the conservatives of the day.

Today, I read chuck Pierce’s Elijah List posting from October 25. If you haven’t read it, you can find it here. Now, before I go much farther, the natural mind would probably read all the times he mentions revolution and think Chuck is advocating armed violence and so forth. Not the case. What Chuck is referring to is a revolution in the spirit. It will be a time when Christians actually act like and be Christians—instead of whatever it is many of us act like. But, the main point of Chuck’s posting is a call for Christians to cry out for that revolution to break forth.

In response to Chuck’s call, I felt like the Lord was speaking something to my heart. It goes something like this:

Prepare for a hard battle. The people often referred to as the Left have endured much to get where they are. Endurance reveals strength. Socail reforms and change have progressed for over a hundred years, through many trials. Much of that journey has been fueled by—and focused against--blindness, arrogance and greed in the church. This has given many a jaundiced view of Christians and the Church.

To begin the move back, we must heal the wounds AND repent of the lies that keep us in those life patterns. It begins with prayer. It continues with a common repentance. It grows stronger with a coming together in a common purpose and identity. We cannot be Democrat or Republican. We must be the people of God—choosing Him and His ways above all else.

October 27

CNS reports this move by 109 city mayors to limit gun control. The thing I am I like most about their stance is the opposition to H.R. 5005, which would restrict access to gun trace data. This is actually the type of gun control (...gun law enforcement is probably a better way to say it...) I could possibly support.

And, not really surprising anyone, the mainstream media (specifically the networks CBS and NBC) have come out saying there is a conspiracy to control gas prices. What I'm wondering, along with a lot of others, is why the MSM has said nothing about the bankrupcy and mis-management of Air America--given the amount of fanfare it received from every major network at it's start up. Meanwhile, ABC is sending mixed signlas. There is thie report from from the Note which delineates how biased coverage is to set up--deliberately positive coverage for liberals/Democrats, and deliberately negative or non-coverage for all conservatives/Republicans. And, at the same time, ABC's Mark Halpern admitted there is media bias towards the left! Here's the text of the October 24 broadcast of The O'Reilly Factor on FNC.

Speaking of manipulating things, the NY Times ran an article on a New Campaign Tactic to manipulate Google data.

The project was originally aimed at 70 Republican candidates but was scaled back to roughly 50 because Chris Bowers, who conceived it, thought some of the negative articles too partisan.

The articles to be used “had to come from news sources that would be widely trusted in the given district,” said Mr. Bowers, a contributor at MyDD.com (Direct Democracy), a liberal group blog. “We wanted actual news reports so it would be clear that we weren’t making anything up.”

Each name is associated with one article. Those articles are embedded in hyperlinks that are now being distributed widely among the left-leaning blogosphere. In an entry at MyDD.com this week, Mr. Bowers said: “When you discuss any of these races in the future, please, use the same embedded hyperlink when reprinting the Republican’s name. Then, I suppose, we will see what happens.”

An accompanying part of the project is intended to buy up Google Adwords, so that searches for the candidates’ names will bring up advertisements that point to the articles as well. But Mr. Bowers said his hopes for this were fading, because he was very busy.
(...and I'm supposed to believe the liberal left are a bunch of really good guys and gals?...) I'll refer everyone, once again, to this article by Robert Cox about the Left's control of the internet portals. Should we be surprised at ideas and actions like this? NOT!

Back to Iraq and things military, there was an article in The Boston Herald discusses the growing restrictions of MilBlogging, and the new book The Blog of War. Yes, I do understand the need for security checks on information (...I'm former military...remember my profile?...). But, I also know the military tends to go too far before it even considers getting it right. For a good discussion of this, visit Blackfiveand read this. There are some good references and discussions linked in it.

From Afghanistan, there was this frightening bit of media news. A BBC reporter actually embedded with the Taliban. The US military won't allow media embeds, but the Islamic terrorists and insurgents will? (...talk about a PR problem of massive proportions!...) Not that this type of coverage by the BBC should surprise anyone. The Daily Mail recently reported BBC stars as admitting to their bias.

There was one bright spot, however. CNN and NPR announced they will not be airing promos for the movie “Death of a President”—a fictional look at the possible assassination of President Bush.
(…now, if they were only this way more often…)

Notes From The World Of Lacrosse

The National Lacrosse League (NLL) announced on October 5 their Game of the Week schedule. It will be broadcast on “VERSUS” (...formerly OLN—remember the NHL games from last year?...I hope it works better for the NLL and the NHL this year...). Game time is Saturdays, 10 PM Eastern—check your local listings.

Wow…I can remember…well, before it was the NLL (…the Major Indoor Lacrosse League…MILL…)…they actually had air time on ESPN and ESPN 2. But, with expansion, maybe they’ll gain some more market. Hopefully, it will grow the sport in the North Texas area. It’s already fairly strong—for a not football sport in Texas. (…football being the national religion of Texas…) Of course, I wouldn’t mind seeing an NLL franchise in Dallas/Ft. Worth!

On the subject of expansion, the Chicago Shamrox had their first open tryouts last week. Their first game this season will be against the also expansion New York Titans. The Titans open their camp this month, too. In most sports, two expansion teams going at it can be either really good or really bad. I wonder which way this will go. Anyone got thoughts?

Here was a cool set of stats. Check out this list of the all time loose ball leaders. There are some awesome players on that list. Try looking them up! You might want to check out the penalty minute leaders, too, while your poking around.

(…by the way…if anyone knows a really good college lacrosse web site, let me know where it is…I’m poking around a couple of them…but I’d love some recommendations…)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The News 10/26

OK. yesterday it was CNN. Today, it's mostly MSNBC. (…although there will probably be someone else before I get done with this…) Amzingly enough, I also got this out on the right day!

The first thing I noticed this article out of Australia explaining that rape is the woman’s fault for not dressing modestly. I guess it is a consistent Islamic view. After all, the Iranians stone rapoe victims. I honestly don’t see how anyone can stand in support of such drivel! This is disgusting. All it does is set men free from responsibility for heinous acts. (...after all it isn't just rape...how about the slaughter of innocent civilians--Muslim, Israeli, Argentinean, Indonesian, whoever--by means of suicide bombings...) Why isn’t there a greater outcry from the various feminist groups, specifically, and groups on the left in general?

It seems President Bush will sign the border fence legislation into law. Given the latest problems with illegal immigrants and Hezbollah/Venezuela (from CBS) which I wrote about a couple days ago, I’m glad to see it happen. It’s too bad Congress only allocated half the money—so we’ll only get about 350 miles of it..if homeland security doesn't find another use for it first (which the legislation allows them to do).

I was knocking around political links on the left, when I came across the title “NOTED WITHOUT FURTHER COMMENT” (…it’s the October 23 post at Legal Fiction…). That lead me to this NY Post article. The point of the article was the only way the Republicans can win is to scare the base back into line with honest talk about where things are and where they are going. I really liked this quote, though:

Republicans are doomed unless they can get their base back. But the GOP base is the best informed group of voters in the nation, with educational levels consistently higher than their Democratic counterparts'. They follow politics closely and are the easiest voters to reach via the news media, cable TV and talk radio.
Now, there is some food for thought. If this is so, how can we be such a deceived bunch as so many “leftists” claim? (…before you answer that, I’m working on a post about just that issue…at least partly…so stay tuned…)

On the subject of elections, here is a report from the Ft. Worth Star Telegram on the impact Bloggers are having on election fund raising in Texas. No big surprise, the Democrats have a huge lead. A week or so ago, I found this article byRobert Cox at The Examiner. Among other things, he noted (speaking of those on the left):
Their common refrain: “We need to own the Internet the way the right owns talk radio.”
With Google (owner of Blogger, among others), Technorati, YouTube, RSS and Podcasting all in the hands of the Left—by ownership and political view—it would be hard to imagine otherwise. Read the article. It isn’t a very pretty picture for the Right, let me tell you.

Meanwhile, over at The Jarheads Firing Range, John has a pretty good post that sums up the feelings regarding the public announcements by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki after the raid on a Shiite stronghold. For the record, I don’t believe the Iraqi PM didn’t know what was going on. Mostly because his own troops were involved. But, I think Jarhead John has missed an important point in this. The Iraqis are setting up their own political boundaries (…remember, Muqtada al-Sadr is one of Maliki’s supporters…). It is also solidifying the religious base to the government. Both of these are a bad sign for US forces (…in my humble opinion…). This same sort of political thing caused all kinds of problems back in the days of Vietnam. And, fundamental religious control of government was one of the things no one wanted in Iraq.

By the way, I think I just heard the sound of the real estate bubble going “POP”! (…you know…the one all the realtors and banks and such said didn’t really exist…it was just worry worts trying to spoil a good market…) I think last month's record price drop makes two or three months in a row of falling prices. It has been over 8 months of falling unit sales. There have been a couple regions of the US feeling this for an even longer period. But, it’s got to be pretty bad to affect the national averages. And, of course, the realtors are saying “It’s just a market correction, and we believe it has hit bottom.”
(…and I hear the Pope is giving up Catholocism…)

But, this has got to be the strangest reason I’ve ever heard of for weight loss. Someone figured out that our expanding waist lines are actually causing us to (…yes…pun intended…) waste gasoline.

Then (…We return you now to those thrilling days of old…) this came out on the 23rd. A Dutch mayor has proposed having prostitutes go with Dutch soldiers on foreign missions. What a grand idea...back to the days of the Roman Legions and camp followers. Only this time, we’ll make it legal—and pay for it!

And, in a final quote, I give you this post from The Woodshed. I have to admit, I liked this Clinton joke. What about you?

Thoughts On Yesterday's News

I actually began writing this on October 25, 2006. Being on the night shift, everything tends get done a few hours after the new day begins. It really stinks. There are times I think I can’t ever catch up…

This Day In History was an interesting stop this morning (10/25…remember?...). On this date in history were such diverse events as the shoot out at the OK Corral and the signing of the Patriot Act. I try to stop by there every day, but usually it’s about every other day. You might want to check it out.

And, just so you know, I randomly camp out on a couple of the MSM news sites--usually CNN, Yahoo, or MSNBC. I occasionally follow links around and end up looking at some really interesting stuff. Today, I’ve pretty much been over at CNN. It’s not necessarily because I like their news—I personally think they are in the pocket of the Left. But, it’s an easy link from my personal DSL service. Anyway…

I thought this was pretty weird. Scientists were able to get a group of rat brain cells to fly a virtual F-22. It leaves you wondering what they will eventually do with a human brain, doesn’t it?

In American politics, there was this report on Senator Ted Kennedy making overtures to the Soviets in order to oust Reagan. It was drawn from the Book Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism. And, the report is supposedly based on translated Russian documents, or perhaps audio tapes, of the meeting with former California Senator John Tunney, who was presenting to the Russians on Kennedy’s behalf. Leaving aside the obvious right wing slant of the book…were such an event to be true, it would be proof of the Democrats and at least some of the liberal groups attached to them of being closet communists or front groups.

(…yeah, I know this was originally reported on October 20…but, there was a recent interview with the author found here… I doubt it will terribly hurt the individual or party political causes unless it receives wide broadcast in the mainstreammedia…)

It seems the Argentineans wantIran held accountable. They finally issued a federal order to arrest the former Iranian President and some others. Given the way Iran is submitting to the authority of others (specifically the UN), does anyone really believe this is going to happen?

And, here is a new twist on the insanity defense: Dungeons and Dragons made me do it!

Prosecutors say Flemons, then 30, was angry because of constant bullying by the victim, Anthony Williams, and other co-workers at Peerless Metal Powders & Abrasive.
But Flemons' lawyer says he is schizophrenic with a psychotic obsession with fantasy role-playing games, including Dungeons & Dragons.
The original story came out in October of 2004, but the link says it was updated on October 24, 2006.

(…WOW...I thought a lawyer’s role was supposed to be making sure the defendant got a fair trial, not guarantee an acquittal…boy, have I got our judicial system wrong…)

Living in Texas, we already have Charter Schools that are publicly funded. And, there have been serious financial problems with the management of several. Most of those have been because of corporate greed overcoming care for the kids. But, the experiment is still going on, and improving—in spite of some legislative initiatives to the contrary. The principle opponents: the PTA and the State Teachers Association. Why? One claim is because children will not receive the same quality of education as in a regular public school. The truth is, in Texas, each school’s state funding is based on the number of children actually attending the school. Any child that attends another school reduces the amount of money each public school can receive. Now, there is this report on Ohio Public schools that the teachers unions and the PTA lost the battle against charter schools there, too. I hope the people of Ohio are ready for a long battle. I hope they learn from the experiences we have had here in Texas, too.

And, then we have the courts in New Jersey legalized same sex marriages. I know I run the risk of being called a racist, religious bigot with what I am about to say. But, I believe homosexuality/same sex relationships are wrong. I’ll even tell explain my principle reason. My study (…I admit limited…) of nature shows that something is only natural viable as a species if it reproduces itself. Gays and lesbians do not and cannot do this. That indicates homosexuality is an unnatural occurance. Therefore, it is not equal to a natural family and should not have those rights and privileges. This does not mean that gays and lesbians are not entitled to be protected from harm, or persecution. It does mean their sexual practices should not be taught as normal human sexual behaviors. It also means I can express this opinion peacefully and reasonably without being charged for a hate crime.

(…for the record, we have lost a long time friend to AIDS. His ex-wife is currently suffering from it, and lost an infant child to it, because of his behavior. So…NO, I do not endorse the lifestyle or the privacy protections that leave me or anyone else in jeopardy…just thought I would let you know…)

Meanwhile, the issue of religious indoctrination and state control of it has taken another step. There was this case a week ago involving Islamic indoctrination being taught in schools.. What this article references is this type of curriculum which has students go through all the practices of Islam, including memorizing the doctrinal principles of it. As one commentator asked:
Can we find a teacher out there willing to make some Muslim students pretend to be Christians for a few weeks? You know, just to better understand the culture and all.
(…and I’ll ask with him…why can other religion can do this but not Christians?...can anyone give me, and everyone else, a reasonable answer?...dare I hold my breath for it waiting for it, though?…)

And, finally, does anyone really believe a school principal should be allowed to keep his job after giving a student a “wedgie”? The Livingston, Montana, School District Board did. MSNBC ran this article about school employee conduct and discipline, and what the school district did about it.
(…You know, there are days I’m glad I can homeschool my children to stay away from forced indoctrination and sanctioned cruel treatment of my children…)

My Election Thoughts Part 4

Election Thoughts Part 1
Election Thoughts Part 2
Election Thoughts Part 3

Before we go on with my Election Issue thoughts, I thought I would share what I think is a very accurate comment on American Politics from Arnold King:

The incumbent Republicans in Congress have done everything possible to merit being tossed out as bums. They have abused power, focused on entrenchment, and acted aloof and arrogant when called to account…Of course, no one has to remind me that the Democrats are at least as guilty of arrogance, entrenchment, and tendency to abuse power. Incumbents of both parties deserve to be tossed out as bums.

The whole article is decent, and fair to a point. Neither side has a lot going for it in terms of fine up-standing citizenship. But, they are both VERY good at finding the faults of the other.

(…why oh why do we always listen to the spin doctors and let them change what we believe…)

Anyway, back the issues at hand…

If the truth is ever actually told, we spend more per student in America than many other developed nations. And, yet, we are among the worst at giving our students an education that actually prepares them for the future. We worry more about teacher performance than we do about our kids getting a good knowledge base. More and more of our legislation seems oriented towards indoctrination, too. What good is all the indoctrination if our kids cannot compete in the global marketplace. Before the trend to socialized education, we at least had children who could compete. So, where has all this indoctrination gotten us? I think one place to look for better methods is homeshcooling.

Before you go off about being a religious indoctrinator, you should go back and read this 2003 article from The New York Times. This portion is particularly appropriate for our discussion:
Newcomers to home schooling resist easy classification as part of the religious right or freewheeling left, who dominated the movement for decades, according to those who study the practice.

They come to home schooling fed up with the shortcomings of public education and the cost of private schools. Add to that the new nationwide standards — uniform curriculum and more testing — which some educators say penalize children with special needs, whether they are gifted, learning disabled or merely eccentric.
All the worry about homeschoolers really concerns me—especially since according to this October 2006 AP report homeschoolers turn out kids who can study, learn and compete in the global market. Most homeschoolers work with a shoestring budget, and accomplish amazing results. Since money hasn’t solved the public education problem, let’s try using some of the homeschooling methods.

(…and, for the record, I am not advocating everyone be homeschooled. That is something to be considered very carefully before getting into it. It requires a lot of commitment to your children, and a lot of sacrifices by yourself and your family....but, the methodology…that’s something to look at very seriously…and, by the way, special needs and learning difficulties not being met by the public school are how we got into homeschooling...my wife and I are in our third year...)

Wealth Redistribution And Welfare Reform
The Democrats are known for supporting and expanding the welfare program. Many of them are also known for being in favor of tax increases for the rich. But, let’s get serious…how many of them have actually voted in such an increase? John Kerry, to use one example, has…how many houses…valued at how much money? And, this is a champion for the poor? Let’s be real! If we were to actually go about a redistribution of wealth, like so many liberals are espousing, the Democrats in power would lose as much as the Republicans. Personally, I don’t see it happening.

Now, about welfare…. The welfare program started wonderfully. It was necessary and needed. But, it was originally meant to be temporary. I tend to agree with most conservatives. Nowadays, sadly, it has become more of an entitlement program than anything else. Yes, I do know (…from personal experience in the programs, mind you…) there are people in our society that need these programs. I also know (…also from personal experience in the programs, mind you…) there are a lot of people out there using it as a means not to work. The welfare system, as it is designed, is cumbersome, bureaucratic, and, as are most government institutions, self-justifying. The system needs to change, in order for the habits of people to change. If any reform proposed does not move in that direction, I think it’s a waste of legislative time and effort. That is what I think of welfare.

I thought the quote below was a great summary of taxation. You can find it in the comments section of This posting on Zucker’s new ad. (…believe it or not, I haven’t watched the thing…or the previous one for that matter…)
History has borne out that whenever the marginal tax rate is cut (i.e the Bush tax cuts) the government actually takes in more revenue. 10% of 100,000 is more that 12% of 80,000 with the 20,000 increase representing being the new "wealth/income" generated by the economic stimulous supplied by extra capital available for investment (of course it is a bit more complex than this but this is a nice summary). It was true when Wilson did it, when JFK did it, when Reagan did it and when Bush did it. So yes, it is better when we spend the money that we have but history teaches us that the surest way to get more money into the gov't's coffers is to cut the tax rates.

History also teaches us that when taxes are raised the economy slows down and the government's revenue either goes down or does not grow as fast as projected. See Bill Clinton's tax hike. The resultant effect on the economy reduced the projected increase in revenue by 51%. In other words, if, on paper, the tax hike would increase revenue by 100,000 the negative impact on the economy actually reduced the gov't's increase in revenue to 49,000. Check it out at: http://www.ncpa.org/pd/economy/ecoa4b.html.
Each side has their favorite place to slash funds. And, each side has their favorite place to spend funds. The important thing to remember is that both political parties are spend-a-holics. It’s just a matter of how they will go about getting their money to spend. The Democrats want to cut defense spending and find other sources (...read taxes...). The Republicans want to cut welfare, and also find other sources of revenue. I don't like either of those solutions, in toto. Cutting defense will further weaken an already depleted military ability in an increasingly violent world. And, while welfare is, I believe over used and under restrained, I see the need for it.

So that means any real tax reform must elevate the tax rates on the wealthiest and reduce it for others—proportionate to income. But, it has to be done in suich a way as to not inhibit investment and entrepreneurial efforts. That is the cry of those who oppose tax increases for the wealthy. So, the question becomes which party will actually make corporate America and the rich pony up to the table and pay a more equitable share of government revenue, and how will they do it, as opposed to making the middle class pay more in order to perpetuate the current system. (…see my comments on Wealth Redistribution And Welfare Reform above for more of the same…)

Way To Go Joe!

Way To Go Joe! Joe Sakic leads today’s list of ESPN sports highlights as the 11th NHL player to get 1500 points in a career. The first to do it since 1999/2000! there were four players to do so then. (...leaves you wondering what the rest of the year has in store for us...)

And, here’s a look at the Sports Illustrated Power Rankings as of Tuesday the 24th. I know it’s early in the season yet, but I really didn’t think Buffalo had put this kind of team together. (…see my thoughts on what might happen here…) And, while I expected the Thrashers to do well this season, it will be interesting to see if Atlanta can hold this pace.

How about those STARS! Mike Smith gets his first win, and first shutout, in his first NHL game! Now THAT is a milestone. You can catch the post game interview with him on their web site.

And, I'm still watching for some movement in Philadelphia. Personally, I'm expecting some roster shake ups soon due to the management and coaching changes. We'll see.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

In The News October 25

I’ll be coming to my Election Thoughts on education and immigration next. But, on those subjects, I thought I would offer this on education in America, from The Ornery American (aka Orson Scott Card, the Sci-Fi writer). I thought it was a pretty good summary of where we are, since we can’t seem to get kids out of school who have learned anything. (…maybe this is one of the reasons?...)

And, with regards to the immigration debate…HELL YEAH! BUILD THE DAMN FENCE. And, while your at it, enforce the laws (…including deportation…). You need more evidence or good reasons? How about this story from CBS:

A Congressional Homeland Security report accuses Venezuela of providing support that could help terrorists infiltrate the United States through Texas’ porous border with Mexic. The Subcommittee on Investigations of the House Homeland Security Committee found that the government of President Hugo Chavez has issued thousands of identity documents that could help terrorists elude immigration checks and illegally enter the United States. Representative Michael McCaul, a first term Republican from Austin, chaired the subcommittee that produced the findings, “The potential is certainly there for terrorists to infiltrate the U.S. through Mexico. We apprehended five Pakistanis on the U.S. Mexico border with fraudulent Venezuelan documents.”
In the video portion, it notes that people from 9 nations sponsoring terrorism have been caught entering the country illegally over the border with Mexico. All of them with forged identity documents. (…gee, I wonder why they had forged documents coming from those places?...But…surely they were here just to get a better life for themselves…) And, of course, Hugo Chavez is just a nice guy who is mis-understood. …which is why Hezbollah has offices in his country…)

On the subject of Hezbollah and the Middle East, the military hasn’t had any sense about how to maintain a PR campaign since WWII. They didn’t keep up in Vietnam—beyond fighting a losing denial campaign—and they are not keeping up in the Middle East today. Michael Fumento does a really good job of breaking this out. The sad truth is the insurgents and terrorists are dong a far better job of controlling the PR front. (…can you say “CNN sniper videos”…)

Speaking of military faux pas, Kim Il Jong is back at making threats and hating people. Maybe he’s taking lessons from Islamic as well. Of course, the Islamics got their lessons from the Vietnamese. I don’t know if this will end up in a full fledged shooting war or not. But, with live nukes on both sides (…us, the Chinese, the Russians, and at least some little dirty ones in North Korea—yeah, I would bet they exist…) I sure hope not.

I thought this report on EU and US negations on environmental cooperation was kind of odd.
They agreed to promote technologies to capture and bury greenhouse gases from coal, to boost energy efficiency and renewable fuels, to set common standards for biofuels, protect the diversity of species on Earth and help developing nations.
(...May be someone out there can enlighten me…but…how do you bury a gas?...)

And, in a continuing reference to my comments on personal privacy yesterday, CNN releases this story on hackers breaking the iPod codes. Do we really believe our information is that secure?

Finally, there was this breakdown of the Muslim worldview. Now, I know that contact with Islam helped spur on the Renaissance. But, I also know, historically, that Islam has been seeking the violent overthrow of whatever was in power at the time. Please go back and study the formative years of the religion if you doubt. And, for those who think the Catholic Church will be the “One World Religion” of the future…I think you need to reconsider.

In The News, October 24

I thought this was a very fair comment on American Politics from Arnold King:

The incumbent Republicans in Congress have done everything possible to merit being tossed out as bums. They have abused power, focused on entrenchment, and acted aloof and arrogant when called to account...Of course, no one has to remind me that the Democrats are at least as guilty of arrogance, entrenchment, and tendency to abuse power. Incumbents of both parties deserve to be tossed out as bums.

The whole article is decent, and fair to a point. Neither side has a lot going for it in terms of fine up-standing citizenship. But, they are both VERY good at finding the faults of the other. (…why oh why do we always listen to the spin doctors and let them change what we believe…)

Meanwhile, there’s a new twist to the separation of church and state issue. It was reported Friday that the city of Titusville, Pa has a zoning ordinance forbidding churches in the downtown area. The city has been sued in federal court over it, since it violates RLUIPA. The cities are trying to decide where religious groups can and can’t go, and the feds are going to referee. (…hhhmmm…doesn’t sound too much like separation of church and state to me…)

Here was something a bit frightening. MSN has a series going on Personal privacy. It reveals a lot about our attitudes towards, and what we think it is. The part I found most informative was a comparison in Part III between how people in the US and Europe view privacy. The short version: what we don’t let governments do, they allow, and what we let companies do, they do not allow. (…personally, I think we let both groups have way too much control of our personal information…) Those EU privacy restrictions even got in the way of anti-terrorist efforts! But, even so, the US and the EU reached agreement today to share criminal information.

In case I haven’t said so, I am a proponent of the death penalty. I think there are definite times it should be used…like on murderers and rapists. I agree there should be judicial restraint used tomake sure the guilty get their just punishment. I also think the appeals process goes on far too long in many cases—costing millions of dollars better spent elsewhere. But, according to this ABC news report, this guy really deserved it. How do you calmly execute a 7 year old little girl in the name of your God? (..can I dare to ask that about the Islamic terrorists and their followers?...or those in our country who find them supportable?...)

In a piece of surprising news, CNN had this report on the confirmed killing of the mastermind behind the 1998 Embassy bombing. It’s nice to see the ones who shamelessly broadcast video of US troops being killed by Islamic snipers report something so encouraging.

And, finally (…for this post anyway…), the US and Iraq announced a timetable for peace. I am not holding my breath on this one. The Iraqi government and security forces need to show they can work together. I know they’ve been gaining a lot of ground, but I don’t think one year is enough time. (…personally, I welcome the news. My daughter just returned from Kuwait recently. My son-in-law came home from the Baghdad area last spring. I do not relish them having to go back…)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Honor To Whom Honor Is Due

This news from Any Soldier:

LCpl Nicholas J Manoukian died 21 October 2006 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Expecitionary Force, Camp Lejeune, NC.

We at our house join those at Any Soldier in offer our prayers and condolences to the family.

At our house, we remember the cry of the warriors:
Tell them of us and say,
For their tomorrow, we gave our today.
--The Kohima Epitaph--

LCpl Manoukian, we remember what you have given. And we say thank you. May God give back to your families more than they have sacrificed and lost.

And, now, as they do at Castle Argghhh, we dance In Memoriam

(...Thanks to the The Armorer and the rest of the Castle Argghhh gang...This dance is a great tradition...)

Election Thoughts Part 3

Now for the third installment of the series…
My Election Thoughts Part 1
My Election Thoughts Part 2

Seventh Issue: Environmentalism.
(…if you read issue number six, I bet you’re wondering where I’m going with this…Well, so do I, since I really didn’t go anywhere in number six…)

I believe we have to manage the resources we have. It is known fact industrial pollution is causing the acid rain and smog and etc. Any politician who stands in denial of that needs to immediately be voted out of office. But, any pollution goals set must be reachable, without punishing to the point of eliminating corporate growth (…one of my main beefs with the Kyoto Accords…). And, I think it needs to be done without government subsidies (i.e. tax breaks) for most major industries.

I think oil and energy companies need to be pressured by the people—not just the Feds (…God help us for making the Feds do everything for us…)--into upgrading their facilities. Record profits should be used for industry improvement, not just stockholder wealth—or the corporate image on Wall Street. Just bringing some of those industries up to current technology would do a lot to reduce pollution. It would also create a lot of jobs, and get money flowing through into the economy.

(…heh, heh…call it expanded trickle down, maybe?...the environment improves…there’s some income/wealth redistribution…economic growth occurs…WOW!...a real win-win…imagine such a thing! And BOTH political parties get what they want!...probably won’t happen then…too bad.)

Eighth Issue: Immigration.
I’ll be blunt. Anyone who comes into this country ILLEGALLY deserves no rights and privileges beyond the bare necessities to get them back to their home country, including the protections of personal safety. Scream all they want to if you don’t like my stance—I really don’t care. To the screamers, my question is this: when did ILLEGAL entrants get to be more important than the rules set up to maintain social order? Environmental groups and others are coming out against the kind of immigration America is undergoing. Personally, I see it this way: people from other countries coming here and refusing to obey the rules, and refusing to become part of the culture of America and instead demanding that we become part of theirs. Sorry, they came to my home. They can follow the rules of my home. If they don’t like that, they can go back. (..on an additional note…since SSI is an insurance plan, and insurance is only supposed to be for those who pay the premiums…why do immigrants who have not worked a day in America instantly become eligible for ALL the benefits? That level of “kindness” is a big part of helping bankrupt Medicaid/Medicare and SSI for those of us who have paid into the system…And, you can thank the Democrats for all the changes allowing it, too…I’ll post on that at a later date…someone remind me…please…)

Ninth Issue: Gun Control.
As I recall (and I couldn’t find the reference), someone at the time of the Columbine massacre stated something like 40 state and federal firearms laws had been broken to commit that atrocity. May I ask (…and I know I’m not the first to do it…), what another gun-control law is going to do to make a difference? I agree with what a lot of people at the NRA and other Right-wing groups have said: enforce the laws we have, before we make another one. Having said that (…to throw water on rejoicing at the NRA…) one specific change I would endorse would be limitations on sales at gun shows. With enough strong personal information protections (…for government and business…), I would endorse cross state sharing of information to keep felons from getting weapons. But, total gun control? NOT!

Well…That’s enough for now…I think…I’ll get to education and some other things next time…

My Election Thoughts Part 4