Saturday, December 30, 2006

Post-Execution Iraq

Now that Saddam Hussein has been executed, it is almost anyone's guess as to what is going to happen in Iraq.

There are those who are stating that Hussein died a martyr's death.  Well, if you call hanging a martyr's death, so be it.  But don't you have to believe in something greater than yourself and be executed for that belief to qualify as a martyr?  Even though he carried a Koran to the gallows, there is no evidence that he believed in anything but himself throughout his excessive and murderous life.

There are others who celebrate his death, the execution of a Hitler-like dictator that reportedly had a hand in the killings of millions of his own people through his death squads and military.  Even though he was convicted by an Iraqi court for just a fraction of those deaths, I believe that the families of those victims are satisfied that this monster is dead.

Will there be violence in Saddam's name?  Yes, at least in the short run.  He did not die as a hero should, pistol in one hand and a flag in another, but with a noose around his neck.  Thus, his value as a rallying figure is minimal.

No, the violence in Iraq will continue along the same lines as before, Sunni vs. Shiite, tribe vs. tribe, and all the various power-hungry factions that arose in Saddam's absence.  It is this violence that the newly formed government of Iraq must deal with.  And the effectiveness of the Iraqi government in dealing with it's internal issues will determine the stability of the country, and thus, the region.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Just In Time for the New Year!

Yes, that's right, you may not have asked for it, but here it is - another new look for Tom's Common Sense!

I hope everyone likes it, and if not, let me know what you would like to see changed.  But positive feedback would be appreciated!

My thanks to Benning for letting me beg/borrow/steal his flag background for the title.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Remembering President Ford

Got the paper out of the chilly newspaper box, and saw that President Ford passed away.  A real gentlemen is gone.

One of the things that I remember of President Ford was that he was a golfer.  Not a very good one, mind you, but just a hacker like the rest of us.  Spectators took their lives into their own hands while watching him play, but they didn't care.  After all, how often could you say that you were hit by a tee shot from a President?

Another thing was that he was a klutz.  How many times have the news and parody media shown President Ford falling down the stairs of Air Force One?  Too many, and I personally think he did it better than Chevy Chase...

But above all, he was a gentleman, and laughed off the stupid stuff mentioned above.  He took over the Presidency in a tumultuous period of American history, and handled it with as much grace as anyone could under the circumstances.  He shrugged off two (!) assassination attempts with barely a comment, and went about the business of running the country.

He demonstrated the art of being a gentlemen by staying away from commenting on current and past President's policies and actions, unlike a couple of his successors.  In interviews, he steered away from making those comments, preferring to comment on other events of the period.  It's a shame that they do not follow his example.

Yes, we lost a real gentleman today...

Sunday, December 24, 2006

On the Eve of Another Christmas & New Year

This was from the Christmas Eve Mallard Fillmore cartoon:

In an age in which Christians around the world are persecuted, tortured, and killed for daring to utter their Lord's name...Thank God for a Nation in which people of all religions may worship in freedom.

The country we live in, no, blessed with, is truly wonderful.  This nation of ours has freedoms that most of the world does not enjoy.  One of those is the freedom to worship (or not) according to your conscience.  However, there are those who want to force you to bow to a black rock in the middle of a foreign land five times a day.  If you don't, then your life is worth nothing.

I watched the Glenn Beck special in which Islamic Extremism was featured.  The images presented in this program as created by the Muslim clergy, news, and entertainment media were most disturbing.  It's not easy to watch crowds being whipped into a frenzy, chanting "Death to America" and "Death to Israel."  Nor is it reassuring that people considered to be "infidels" are not considered to be people, but must be killed wherever they are found.  And let's not talk about what they really think of the Jewish people and Israel simply because it is so dehumanizing as to be ridiculous.

What bothers me the most is that our media ignores the reality of this threat.  We do not hear of or read about very often the anti-American & anti-Israeli rhetoric, calling for the destruction of our respective countries.  Nor is it brought to the forefront that they truly hate us with all of their hearts, and wish nothing but death for us. 

This hate runs deep.  Talking will not solve our differences.  This is a belief system that does not have room for compromise, not even for slight differences within their own religion.  Otherwise, why are the Shiites and Sunnis killing each other in Iraq?  If it were otherwise, the word "tolerance" would be used, not abused.

And yet, there are those who think that the United States should leave Iraq, ignore the terrorist threat of radical Islam, and bury this country's head in the sand.  Indeed, they wish to withdraw American influence from the world and reduce this country's status in the world to that of a third-rate nation instead of the superpower that this country truly is.  I thought that Bill Whittle in his essay, Power, expressed it best: 

Those that would have us disarm, withdraw, apologize and retreat make the assumption that by removing American Power from the world, the planet will become a harmonious village of diversity and mutual respect. Remove American capitalism, and the world’s people will trade solar cars for indigenous beads, our European moral betters will hand over their cash to the third world until all are perfectly equal, and everyone will live in a sustainable ecological paradise. Remove American cultural power and Britney will be replaced with Beethoven, and an exquisite and reasonably priced Pate de Foi Gras Existentialist Meal can be had at a corner drive-in where the former McDonald’s once stood.

This is utter nonsense. It has never been true for a single page of the history of the Damned Human Race. There has never -– never –- been a day in human history when some form of power has not flooded the world, or competed to do so; and those times when the power was most one-sided reveal themselves to be the times of greatest relative peace, stability, and advancement of that quaint notion known as civilization.

This is not merely a European construct. We see this iron rule in Inca and Aztec histories in South America, in Shaka’s Zulu nation, in Chinese empires and Japanese Shogunates, Native American tribal relations, and wherever else we turn our eyes.

The idea that all would be well if only America would retreat from the world and stay at home is a pernicious and seductive one. It appeals not only to those that hunger after the freedom to do mischief in our absence as it does to our natural sense of isolationism. It has been the mantra of communists, totalitarians and elitists of every vile stripe for well over a hundred years. It is utterly and completely wrong. Political power has never been removed from the world -– it has only been replaced. And so our choice –- now pay attention you No Blood For Oil types -– is not between power and no power. It is a choice only of what kind of power will fill that vacuum. Chinese? Russian? European? We have seen all of these before. The horrors they have inflicted, with far less absolute power than the US wields, do not leave me pining for those alternatives. Someone is going to be the world power, or tear the world apart fighting for it. And no matter how hard we may wish it, the winner will not be a Blindfolded Jury of Archangels.

 And yet, we blunder on down a path that leads to self-destruction.  Our media and politicians make excuses for Islamic terrorists, thinking that they are misunderstood and that we, as a country, need to understand why they hate us.  That way, we can change so that they will "like us," and will stop the killing. 

Unfortunately, the killing has been going on for centuries, and will not stop anytime soon.  A religion that goes ballistic over cartoons and cannot stand scrutiny is a religion that doesn't need excuses, but accountability for it's actions and justification for its existence.  To state that it is a religion of peace and yet foment violence against non-believers is hypocritical in the extreme.

A famous American said in a speech:

"We, the American People… find ourselves in the peaceful possession of the fairest portion of the earth, as regards extent of territory, fertility of soil, and salubrity of climate. We find ourselves under the government of a system of political institutions, conducing more essentially to the ends of civil and religious liberty, than any of which the history of former times tells us…We toiled not in the acquirement or establishment of them -- they are a legacy bequeathed us, by a once hardy, brave, and patriotic, but now lamented and departed race of ancestors. Theirs was the task (and nobly they performed it) to possess themselves, and through themselves, us, of this goodly land; and to uprear upon its hills and its valleys, a political edifice of liberty and equal rights; 'tis ours only to transmit these, the former, unprofaned by the foot of an invader…to the latest generation that fate shall permit the world to know. This gratitude to our fathers, justice to ourselves, duty to posterity, and love for our species in general, all imperatively require us faithfully to perform.

"How then shall we perform it? -- At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? -- Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never! -- All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years. At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide." - Abraham Lincoln, Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois, January 27, 1838.

Whether we like it or not, I believe that the Islamic terrorists are going to do their damnest to make this into a religious war from whatever it can be called now.  They will use the classic good vs. evil argument, an us-vs.-them conflict in the name of a jihad (religious war, for those of you in Rio Linda).  They will plot, plan, and execute attacks that will cause large numbers of casualties.  And the elites idiots among us will wring their hands crying, "We don't understand!  We were talking!"  Understand this, you Brie-eaters - there are people in the world that want to kill you just for the reason that you exist!!  And we still seem to pursue the idiotic mantra of appeasement to those who wish nothing more than to destroy our country and subjugate us to their religion.

I know that this isn't the traditional Christmas Eve post, but Christ stated:

"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." - Matthew 10:34, NIV

Slightly out of context with the passage, but it does illustrate that there will be conflict & war brought in the name of religion and belief in God & Christ.  And I believe that this war has come upon us, although slowly and very low key until recently.

I do pray that I am wrong, that reason will prevail among our political leaders and those in the Middle East.  That there will truly be Peace on Earth.  But that will only happen if everyone decides that it will be so.

May everyone find Peace within their own hearts, and so enlighten the world.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Tis the Season...In Iraq

You know it's the season when your routine gets interrupted trying to find just the right gift. That impacts the blogging schedule. Oh well...

Today I heard that President Bush is considering sending more troops into Iraq & Afghanistan.  To which I say that there had better be a plan in place for those troops to win this conflict instead of walking around with targets on their backs.  There is a goal in mind - a self-sustaining democratic Iraq - but the current strategy is not working.  If the current strategy is not working to achieve the goal, then change the strategy and not the goal.

The Iraq government must step up & work harder in taking control of their own country.  Yes, the United States can assist in setting up their law enforcement & government, but it will be up to them to sustain their own country.  And unfortunately, talking alone will most likely not accomplish this.

As pointed out in the Iraq Study Group's report, there are many various power & religious factions in operation in Iraq.  Not all of them want to be part of the newly formed government, but would much rather set up their own country within a country.  How the Iraq government wants to deal with this situation will be very interesting, and whether they succeed or not will determine the stability of the country and the region.

President Bush may give the Christmas present of more soldiers to Iraq, but I pray that this gift would be put to good use and not wasted.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Iraq Study Group - Work In Progress

While reading this report (I'm not done yet), it struck me that the Iraq people do not have a national identity nor a loyalty to their country.  Saddam and the dictators through the years have taken care of that.  The Iraq people have loyalties to their tribe, their religious sect, and their country (in that order).

The Iraqi politicians have their work cut out for them.  Resolving centuries-old feuds with religious sect differences is an almost insurmountable task.  Adding to the problem is that each of these different groups is not willing to compromise with any of the others.  Then there are the Saddam loyalists that are lurking in the background...

The Iraq police and military do need to step up and take control of their country.  How soon is the question.  It does beg the question of how much training do they need - I am presuming that some of them had training & credentials under Saddam's regime, although the question of loyalty does pop up.  And there is no question that these policemen and soldiers have taken far more casualties than the US military as a result of terrorist activities.

The bottom line is that none of this is going to happen overnight.  While the US can kick butt militarily, it's after that battle is won that the real war, the political one, must be fought and won as well.  My question is:  Will the politicians, both Iraqi and US, have the wherewithal to get the job done?

the Dry Bones Blog

I ran across this blog while reading the paper, strangely enough.  The author publishes a daily cartoon in Israel, and definitely puts some perspective on the policies of this country.

The latest is a toon from 1992 dealing with James Baker, and in his words,

James Baker is one of the architects of today's Middle East mess. Now, close to 15 years later, Baker is back. As is Jimmy Carter. Trying to sell us their same old tired, failed ideas about appeasing Arab dictators and pressuring the area's only democracy.  Again.

Here's the link:

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Celebs Gone Wild!

While the pundits have a chance to dissect the recommendations of the Iraq Policy Group for what to do in Iraq (and I have a chance to read the report), I thought I would comment on the actions of another influential group on the Left Coast – celebrities!

The actions of various celebrities over the past few weeks have been, well, excessively strange, but very familiar. Examples include:

Kramer, aka, Michael Richards, using the “N” word in a tirade on a couple of hecklers. It didn't really matter that these two bozos were ripping his routine (which, by the way, is the nightmare of many a stand-up), he was the one that had to fall over his checkbook, make tons of apologies, and kissing the ring of Al “Shakedown” Sharpton for forgiveness. After all, you can't use the “N” word under any circumstance and expect to make in the Leftist Movement that is Hollyweird.

Then over in another part of the entertainment section is the train wreck called Britney Spears. Not only is she hanging out with closet porn actress Paris Hilton, she's really hanging out!! She's picking up lots of tips on how to expose yourself from the Queen of Exposure. Getting out of a car without underwear seems a bit radical for this pop star, but then who knows what goes through the minds of people who seem to need constant attention.

Another segment involves the talk show circuit. I understand that Clay Aiken subbed for Regis Philbin, and that Kelly Ripa wouldn't let Clay get a word in edgewise. Clay put his hand over Ripa's mouth to make a comment, and Ripa objected stating, “You shouldn't do that – you don't know where that hand has been!” That got a big laugh from the audience, and a bigger flame from Rosie O'Donnell. Rosie's comment was that Ripa made an anti-gay statement. What!! Where is Rosie's mind? Oh, never mind...

But then on the “View,” Rosie's new show, Danny DeVito shows up drunk. Another train wreck, another casualty. But then again, if I had to show up on the same show as Rosie, I might have a couple of stiff ones just to go through with it.

I know I've missed a couple here & there, but I think you get the point. Hollyweird and all of it's various denizens are just, well, weird!!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Revised Plans...

Well, I guess everyone's plans change.  Mine are.

On the good side, it looks like Christmas came early to the house.  Just finished wiring & hooking up a broadband connection to the house.  And it is nice and fast!  Better than dial-up any day.  Reasonable too - special through the cable TV company.

On the bad side, any of you looking at the Index will find that it's out of date.  With the recent sickness in the house and yours truly playing nurse (no catcalls out there!), plans for getting much of anything done in the way of blogging & updates went way by the wayside.

Trying to figure out how to modify this template to work with Blogger Beta is just not worth it.  I'll probably change this template to one of the canned ones & work from there.  Not happy about it - put in a lot of work on the template, but the new ones definitely have some advantages.  Just need some time to do it, and make sure Haloscan works with the new template.

Changing to a new blog hosting site probably isn't worth it either.  Awardspace may be a free server, but hosting a blog is not good on that site.  All that needs to happen is for the database portion of the server to get overloaded, and poof!! no blog.  The web portion of the server is OK though, and haven't had any problems there.  So if any of you want to play around with making up your own pages on a free server would work.  Besides, most of you are tied into Blogger anyway, and I've found a decent offline editor for Blogger, so I'll probably be sticking with Blogger.

So if there are changes to the site, don't panic!  It's just another work in progress.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving 2006

Thanksgiving this year, well, has been different.

My son has been sick, and didn't want to make the trip down with us. So we came down ourselves after making sure that he was supplied with soup, crackers, telephone numbers, etc. He knows how to take care of himself, so that wasn't the concern. After all, he is 18...

We get into Indianapolis last night around 7:30, check into the hotel, and went over to the mother-in-laws. Before anyone dings her, she is one of the sweetest persons I have ever known. Everything is fine, until...

My wife wakes up, and wouldn't you know it, is sick. On Thanksgiving day, after 6 hours on the road, a night in a hotel, and my wife is sick, sick, sick. Not the Thanksgiving we were wanting, nor expecting. You know how hard it is running around Thanksgiving morning trying to find medicine, crackers, Gatorade, etc.?

Finally, she feels better to make it over to her mom's, and we have a decent dinner, although she is not feeling like eating much. After dinner, she sleeps the rest of the afternoon. Makes for an interesting Thanksgiving, that's for sure!

We're now back at the hotel, wife is feeling better & ready to sack out. Hopefully, I'll stay well, at least enough until we get back to Michigan tomorrow.

Hope that everyone has experienced a Happy Thanksgiving, and has enough turkey for a week's worth of turkey sandwiches!

Monday, November 20, 2006

November 06 Drive By Blogging

Haven't done one of these for a while. Just nothing really jumping out at me to pound on in depth, so just a little something to write (and think!) about.

First of all, I would like to wish everyone (all 6 1/2 readers of this blog) a Happy Thanksgiving. Hope everyone arrives at their respective feeding station (i.e., relative's house) safely, not make an obvious pig of themselves, and return home stuffed but not mounted. At least that's my plan (sorry, Teresa - looks like I'll be in Indianapolis too...)

Have you noticed the Democrats toning down themselves? Now it looks like they are not going to proceed with impeachment hearings, raising taxes, repealing the Patriot Act, NSA listening policies, and pulling the troops out immediately. Have they come to their senses, or is it just politics as usual, waiting to slip a fast one in without anyone noticing? I hope that the moderation is not an act, and that they will do the right things for the country (and us!).

The item that's still on my political radar is Pelosi trying to get an impeached judge (charged with soliciting a bribe) appointed head of the intelligence committees. That just doesn't make sense, especially since the Dems ran on a platform of "hate Bush because he and his administration are corrupt," and yet want this bozo in one of the most sensitive positions in government. Makes you wonder if someone offers this guy a big enough bribe that he would give up everything. But then again, all they would have to do is look at the New York Slime to find out the latest sensitive information that we don't want the bad guys to know...

Has anyone noticed that the figures for the economy are being reported in a better light than before the election? I have, and it just indicates to me that the media is biased toward one political party. What really bothers me about this is that freedom of the press was supposed to provide an independent but fair reporting of events. Editorials belong on the opinion page, not the whole damn newspaper (or TV/radio news broadcast). While censorship to keep things balanced is never a good thing, I am happy that there are other news sources out there that slant things the other way to keep things balanced out.

John Kerry thinks that he is still a contender for the 2008 Democratic Presidential nomination dispite his latest episode of foot in mouth disease. John, hang it up - HRC will cut your throat before that happens. Think "Manchurian Candidate" with one of your past associates from Vietnam (you were there, right?), and you should get the general idea.

And did you see that HRC's blast from the past health care plan got axed by the Dems? Surprising to me, but then again, they might want to save it for HRC's run for the Presidency. At least that's my take on it.

I'm going to be doing a little housecleaning over the holidays. First of all, The Stickman Chronicles will be deleted off Blogger. I don't have enough time to write for one blog consistently, much less two. I know that I haven't promoted this blog very well, and for a good reason - just no time to keep it updated. So take a last look before it fades not so gracefully into history. Second, I'll be working on Tom's Common Sense @ Awardspace, trying to get it up to snuff. Please visit there & let me know if you like it or not. Last, there will be one last update to the template on Tom's Common Sense @ Blogger to put a few things into order before the eventual migration to Awardspace (or other spot). This will include (hopefully) some Blogger Beta tags for catagories and an updated index.

UPDATE: Tom's Common Sense @ Awardspace is having problems - just might have to find another host. Anyone out there have any suggestions for a cost effective host? Thanks!

Again, Happy Thanksgiving!!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Dems Next Move

Now that Nancy P. is now the next Speaker of the House, and that the Dems are the majority in the Senate, I'm now concerned that the Dems, especially the more radical ones, will start raising all sorts of finger-pointing and armchair quarterbacking.

The indications are that the Dems will now start an endless barrage of hearings & investigations. That's bad. There are way too many things that need to be taken care of instead of messing around with stupid stuff.

I can see the Dems pushing all the buttons for investigating President Bush for grounds of impeachment. If they start on this "starting the war on Iraq on false pretenses" garbage, I think they should impeach themselves. They saw the same intelligence as Bush, and voted for the war. Many of the complaints that the Dems have with Bush's actions were voted on by them or were established as prior practice by previous presidents. Of course, they are still honked off about Clinton's impeachment hearing for perjury, but that's a different argument.

The bottom line for this is that the Dems have a real chance to show that they are better than the Republicans, but I think they are going to blow it with an insane and useless witch-hunt. They really didn't have anything to run on this past election except the "hate Bush" mantra. Too bad they didn't have any more substance to run on besides that.

The next couple of years will be interesting to say the least. Politicians on both sides of the aisle will be positioning themselves for a run at the Presidency. We'll see if the Dems can run on anything besides the "hate Bush" in a presidential campaign in which a person named Bush won't be on the ballot.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Dems Hate Hillary?

Now that the shouting about the midterm elections is just about over, the speculation of who the next Democratic Presidential candidate is now starting to hit the pundit airwaves.

Despite what the Dems say, Hillary Clinton (now labeled HRC because I just hate typing that name) is a divisive force. That’s right, divisive - you either love HRC or you hate her, and there just doesn’t seem to be a middle ground from what I’ve heard. As an example, here’s something that I’ve been saving for some time:

Hatin’ on Hillary: N.H. Dems lambaste Clinton By Brett Arends Boston Herald Business Columnist Monday, August 7, 2006 - Updated: 09:36 AM EST

MANCHESTER, N.H. - Dick Bennett has been polling New Hampshire voters for 30 years. And he’s never seen anything like it.

“Lying b**** . . . shrew . . . Machiavellian . . . evil, power-mad witch . . . the ultimate self-serving politician.”

No prizes for guessing which presidential front-runner drew these remarks in focus groups.

But these weren’t Republicans talking about Hillary Clinton. They weren’t even independents.

These were ordinary, grass-roots Democrats. People who identified themselves as “likely” voters in the pivotal state’s Democratic primary. And, behind closed doors, this is what nearly half of them are saying.

“I was amazed,” says Bennett. “I thought there might be some negatives, but I didn’t know it would be as strong as this. It’s stunning, the similarities between the Republicans and the Democrats, the comments they have about her.”

Bennett runs American Research Group Inc., a highly regarded, independent polling company based in Manchester, N.H. He’s been conducting voter surveys there since 1976. The polls are financed by subscribers and corporate sponsors.

He has so far recruited 410 likely voters in the 2008 Democratic primary, and sat down with them privately in small groups to find out what they really think about the candidates and the issues.

His conclusion? “Forty-five percent of the Democrats are just as negative about her as Republicans are. More Republicans dislike her, but the Democrats dislike her in the same way.”

Hillary’s growing brain trust in the party’s upper reaches already knows she has high “negatives” among ordinary Democrats. They think she can win those voters over with the right strategy and message.

But they should get out of D.C., New York and L.A. more often, and visit grassroots members.

Because we’re not talking about “soft” negatives like, say, “out of touch” or “arrogant.”

We’re talking: “Criminal . . . megalomaniac . . . fraud . . . dangerous . . . devil incarnate . . . satanic . . . power freak.”


And: “Political wh***.”

(Note: I don’t usually like reporting such personal remarks, but in this case you can hardly understand the situation without them. I have no strong personal feelings about the senator.)

There are caveats. Any survey can be inaccurate or misleading. And 55 percent of ARG’s sample was either neutral or positive about Sen. Clinton. Thirty-two percent currently say they plan to vote for her in the primary.

But Bennett says he’s never before seen so many N.H. voters show so much hatred toward a member of their own party. He’s never even seen anything close.

He believes top national Democrats are missing this grassroots intensity. Instead, he suspects, they are blinded by poll numbers, which give Hillary a big early lead based on her name recognition.

Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, agrees.

“There is far more anti-Hillary sentiment in the Democratic Party than the pollsters understand,” he says. In the race for the nomination, “she is ripe for plucking,” he says.

Sen. Clinton’s team could not be reached for comment.

New Hampshire is small, but it’s a bellwether state with clout.

Its primary probably holds the key to the Democratic nomination. And New Hampshire, alone, swung from Bush to Kerry in ’04.

It’s hard to see any Democrat winning the White House without carrying the state in the presidential election. And it’s hard, right now, to see Hillary carrying the state.

New Blog Created

Well, I've created another blog at this location:

The plan is to dual post at both this blog and the one listed above until next year. That will give me time to shake out the bugs, and review any comments anyone has on this blog and the new one.

Visit the new blog & let me know what you think!

Thanks, Tom

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Blogger Beta Woes

Have you ever thought that you were making things better and then find out that all you did was shoot yourself in the foot? Yep, I did that here on this blog...

Blogger Beta is supposed to be better in the long run, but that's to be seen. Yes, it lets you have "labels" for you to search & categorize your posts for easier searching (for you & me), but I've discovered a few "uh-oh"s along the way.

For those of you who use Haloscan & like the feature that Haloscan has of noting which comment goes with which post by title, that feature will not work when you've changed to Blogger Beta (BB). That's because that BB uses a Google account password, and it just can't navigate through to the blog's postings. I'm sure someone will eventually figure out how to wade through it, but it's a pain for the moment.

Another item that bugs me that's related to the above is being able to write posts offline & post them from an editor such as w.Blogger. Again, the Google account blocks that as well. Sure, I can write stuff, log into BB, and post it using the editor, but that's just a pain. And emailing posts is not really an option - the posts could take up to a day to show up. Frustrating, it is...

I'm sure that someone way smarter than me will be able to figure this out, but I'm really starting to look seriously about moving Tom's Common Sense to another system. Unfortunately, I probably won't be able to export the posts to another location because Blogger doesn't have an export function, nor with the Google account stuff in place, the usual export/import functions in systems like Wordpress will not work.

Of course, this was all done to increase security of the system, and improve it. And by the way, the Blogger accounts will eventually be moved to using Google accounts. In the meantime, I'm just a little upset. Oh well...

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Day

OK, who (or what) did you vote for today? Here are my votes...

I voted for sunshine (got rain), lower taxes (we'll see), and truth (probably not from politicians anytime soon).

What or who I didn't vote for were those politicians that support abortion. I guess you know who I voted for now, don't you?

Enough said...

Monday, November 06, 2006

Michigan Politics

On the eve of the midterm election, I thought it would be interesting to comment on two of the races here in Michigan: The offices of Governor & Senator.

For the office of Governor we have the incumbent, Jennifer Granholm (D), and the challenger, Dick DeVos (R). Granholm's tenure as Governor has seen difficult times as the state's economy has suffered with the woes of the auto industry. DeVos is a multi-millionaire businessman who inherited a family fortune. Both have accused each other of losing jobs, and have taken credit for creating them as well. Damaging to Granholm (in my opinion) is repeated statements of giving her administration time to correct the state's economy, stating that she is "thrilled" at the economic plan's progress when it was tanking, and stating that we "will be blown away" in five years, implying that she needs another term to see the turnaround. DeVos has made some business decisions that cost Michigan jobs while running Amway, but seems to have not stepped on too many toes in that regard. The advantage seems to be DeVos, although there has been some serious mud thrown by both candidates.

For a seat in the US Senate we have the incumbent Debbie Stabinow (D) and the challenger, Mike Bouchard (R). Stabinow has been a fixture in the US Senate for a long time. Bouchard has been the Oakland County Sheriff for some time now. Plenty of accusations have been thrown out by both candidates, and plenty of promises. Unfortunately, I really haven't seen a whole lot from Stabinow that I agree with, but then again I'm not exactly thrilled about a politician using the Sheriff's office as a politcal stepping stone.

The polls show almost statistical dead heats for the above races - Granholm leads DeVos by 2%, and Stabinow leads Bouchard by 4%. In my own unscientific and unreliable poll, which consisted of looking at the number of political sign on people's lawns as I drive around Oakland County, I've come up with something slightly different.

In the race for governor, there seems to be more DeVos signs out than Granholm (approximately 60-65% vs 40-35%). In the race for the US Senate, there have been far more Bouchard signs in people's yards vs. just a handfull (10!!!) that I've seen. I only counted 1 yard per sign (in other words, multiple signs in one yard only counted as 1), but that's still a bunch. And no, the size of the sign did not count extra (remember, size doesn't always count!). It will be interesting to see if the sign poll accurately reflects the election results. Of course, milage may vary...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Politicians Are Calling!! The Politicians Are Calling!!

One of the things that I absolutely hate about this election year is the increased number of political phone calls. I don't know about any of you, but I've been getting an average of two phone calls a day for the past two months, and I'm absolutely sick of them. And they have been coming from both political parties.

Almost none of the phone calls have been "nice.", i.e., informative calls. They have mostly been the nasty, negative attack variety. "My opponent voted against you having a job, a car, a dog, and a house with a white picket fence!" Or, "Elect me and I'll stop the corruption in government demonstrated by my opponent!" "My opponent wants to turn your house into the next landfill site (for the public good, of course)!" Is it any wonder that the majority of voters appear to be confused & disgusted with politicians?

The part of these phone calls that just take my breath away is that they almost always state that they have a plan to correct what faults their opponent has with their plan. What's interesting is that they never state what the plan is!! The challengers state that they have a plan to create jobs, reduce unemployment, guarantee healthcare & pensions, and make sure that there's a chicken in every pot, but are always short of how they are going to do that. The incumbents say the same thing. To the challengers - give us details on how you are going to do what you promise. To the incumbents - why haven't you started your plan before now?

What us, the voters, need to realize, is that politicians love to grandstand, puff themselves up, minimize their many faults and maximize their opponents, all for the purpose of getting elected. An earlier post, A Politician's Job, outlines their real priorities.

Now before some of you want to flame me for this statement and defend your favorite elected official, realize that I'm speaking about the majority of politicians, not the few who give a damn & have the personal character, ethics, and guts to stand up for what is right for the public & not put themselves first. Of course, there are very few of them, which makes the following joke almost always true:

How can you tell if a politician is lying? Their lips move...

Perhaps I'm being too hard on our politicians. But then again, they have given all of us on both sides of the aisle plenty of ammunition. Scandals ranging from sexual impropriety to bribes to corruption to dumb statements have been aired by the media (although more for one party than the other). Perhaps we, the voters, should hold our elected officials to higher standards. But then again, who are we kidding? It's as bad or worse as Diogenes looking for a honest man in the world.

The real problem is that politics is a dirty business, and very few upright & honest men are willing to put themselves through the hell that the media & the opposing party dishes out. Thus, let the mudslinging ensue.

In less than a week, we will be exercising our civic duty to go and vote for the candidates of our choice. Whoever wins will be who we are stuck with. All I can ask of anyone reading this post is that you vote your conscience, and not be bound by blind political loyalty. Vote for the person who will get the job done the right way without the BS and hypocrisy.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Scary Kerry!!

By now, most of the readers of this blog have heard of the latest outrageous comments by John "I Served In Vietnam" Kerry. He stated to a group of students:

"You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. And if you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."

The implication is that stupid people are in the military.

I must take issue with that implication - the graduates of West Point, Annapolis, and the Air Force Academy are among the most intelligent people on the planet with phenomenal leadership skills. And many of the volunteer soldiers serving in our armed forces are professionals in from fields such as engineering, police, law, and business. And I guarantee you that I would not want stupid people in charge of multi-billion dollar weapon systems and nuclear weapons.

While Kerry has not apologized for his comments, he has made a rather superfluous explanation that it was a joke gone bad. Oh really?

My take on this is that Senator Flip-Flop has a rather low opinion of the people serving in the military. Otherwise, such a reference would never have been made. Perhaps he has a low opinion of himself as a result of serving in the military, hmmmm?

But what is really scary is that this idiot could have been elected President!!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Superhero Day

Heard on the radio yesterday & today that in a Long Beach High School they were celebrating a "superhero day" where the students could dress up as their favorite superhero. Three senior girls dressed up as Captain Underpants and showed up in flesh-colored leotards, capes, and, of course, underpants.  The principle thought that the costumes were just a little too suggestive, and sent the girls home to change.

There's a couple of things that I'm a little confused about (OK, more than a couple, but we won't discuss that at this point in time):

  1. Long Beach is in California, where it seems that almost anything goes anyway.  What seems to be the problem with girls dressing up in flesh-colored leotards, capes, & underwear if you can't see anything? Linda Carter did that while acting in the "Wonder Woman" series...
  2. This High School has other related activities scheduled for their Senior Week:  Monday was Switch Day, where boys dressed like girls and vice versa. Tuesday was Nerd Day. Wednesday was Superhero day.  Thursday is Spirit Day, where they wear school colors, blue and white. Friday is Pirate Day.  So exactly when do the students learn anything?

Yep, students sure are preparing for life and learning after high school - on your tax dollar!!

Monday, October 23, 2006

What I Think...

This is what I think on a few choice subjects...

The War in Iraq:

When it was announced that the United States was giving Iraq's Saddam Hussein an ultimatum in response to the non-compliance of UN resolutions, I really didn't like the implications. Going into Iraq without UN support, i.e., alone, was not the right thing to do. I was concerned that the second Bush was going to do what the first Bush didn't do (and was severely criticized for) - get rid of Saddam Hussein. While the intelligence at the time supported the invasion of Iraq, Saddam had too much time to bury or otherwise get rid of his WMD arsenal. However, as I've posted here and on numerous comments on other blogs, the United States cannot leave Iraq without a self-sustaining government - the danger of Iraq descending into chaos and taking the region with it is too great.

The War on Terrorism:

As stated in several previous posts, negotiation with terrorists should never be an option. They should be found and prosecuted with every means at the disposal of the United States government and the governments of the world. And it can be done if the politicians get out of the way...

War in General:

War is the last resort after diplomacy has failed, and should be avoided, but not at all costs. Giving away everything you believe in just for the sake of peace is a deal with the devil, and will not, in the long run, achieve the desired result of peace. War is unhealthy for all the participants, both for soldiers and civilians alike. I do not want war, nor do I promote it - I just know that in some situations it cannot be avoided.


Illegal immigration is a blight on our country, and a subject that politicians would rather avoid. Just mentioning this topic raises many feelings that are not, shall we say, are very civilized. I do not have a problem with people immigrating to this country legally, but to reward those that come here by illegal means and then defend their actions grates against my law-abiding nature. It also gets me that illegal immigrants are eligible for Social Security benefits, driver's licenses, & other governmental services (your tax dollars!!), and the politicians just give the wink & a nod & ignore this problem.

Michigan's Proposal 2:

Michigan's Proposal 2 states:


The proposed constitutional amendment would:

* Ban public institution from using affirmative action programs that give preferential treatment to groups or individuals based on their race, gender, color, ethnicity or national origin for public employment, education or contracting purposes. Public institution affected by this proposal include state government, local governments, public colleges and universities, community colleges and school districts.

* Prohibit public institutions from discriminating against groups or individuals due to their gender, ethnicity, race, color or national origin. (A separate provision of the state constitution already prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin.)

On the surface, this looks like a good idea. I have problems with quotas wrapped in the guise of affirmative action. Everyone should have an equal bite at the apple, but the deciding factor should be on the person's ability & merit, not race or gender. Unfortunately, what has happened is not fair and is patronizing to those people that the program is supposedly helping. In an earlier post, I wrote the following of what Martin Luther King had envisioned for the Negro people:

His vision looked for the Negro people to stand side by side with the White people as equals, and to get there by self-sufficiency, not by a government mandate. He wanted his people to rise up to their potential, to stand on their own two feet, not by some law or subsidy. Patronage of the Negro was not his vision, but to join the human race as equals to any other ethnic group, to enjoy the fruits of hard labor through equal opportunity, and not through quotas.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Flawed Compromise Thinking

It doesn't really matter if you are dealing with a used car salesman, a North Korean dictator, or an al Qaeda terrorist, negotiation relies on two things: If all parties are willing to give up something to get what they want, and if they are willing to keep their word. Which of the previous three people do you think you could strike a deal with that would stick?

There are so many people out there that are repeating the line "Why can't we all get along?" and yet never stop to think about why that is. They believe that everyone is just like them, rational and willing to talk things over to the point of working out whatever problem there is between them, and sticking to the agreement. The fatal flaw in this line of thought is that everyone isn't like them, isn't trustworthy, and will do theirdamnest to break any agreement at the earliest point in time when they can get away with it and it is most advantageous to them.

Need examples? OK, here goes...

North Korea snookered ol' Bill into giving them nuclear technology, and then broke their promise & built a nuclear bomb. Radial Islamic terrorists will break their word to all infidels because their interpretation of their religion will allow it (talk to Israel on their negotiation history with any of the multitudes of Arab countries around them). From the historical perspective, there's always poor Neville Chamberlain who gave away another country in a futile attempt to keep Nazi Germany from going to war (and we know how that turned out). Last, Iran's nuclear program is on & off the table so much that I've lost track of where they are at, but would you trust their president to keep his word on anything dealing with the restriction of nuclear weapons development in Iran? Not with him promising the end of Israel first and the rest of the world second to create an Islamic-controlled world...

Is there any question that this is why diplomacy, negotiations, and compromise will not work in the long run with Islamic radicals/terrorists such as al Qaeda & Hezbollah, countries such as North Korea & Iran, and a host of other untrustworthy nutjobs from around the world? Not in my mind.

Yes, I do agree that peace should be given a chance to work, but you had better be prepared and have the resolve to go to war. Otherwise, we might as well just give up & pledge allegiance to Allah, put the women in burkas, scrap the Constitution & Bill of Rights, and put all of the "undesirables" according to Islamic law (such as Christians, Jews, Buddhists, atheists, homosexuals, Feminists, free-thinkers & other non-Islamics) to death.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Call Now For This Special Offer!!!!

Yes, if you call now, you can receive, at no cost to you, the celebrated Bill Clinton / Jimmy Carter Nuclear Proliferation package!! No money down (ever!)!! Be the first in your hemisphere to own a nuclear power plant and all the perks that go with it!! IS THAT A DEAL OR WHAT?!?!?!

Included in this exclusive package offered by the respectable Despot & Dictator Appeasement Company (LLC) are all the materials & resources needed to build TWO - yes, TWO of your own nuclear reactors! Also included are easy to follow instructions, and over $1,000,000,000 to fund this once in a lifetime opportunity!!

And if you call before supplies run out, look at the Bonus Gifts that you will receive:

  • A Micheal Jordon Autographed Basketball!! (Micheal Jordan not included, display case extra)
  • A lifetime supply of peanuts!! Just perfect for watching missile launches!!
  • And to wash down those peanuts, a limited supply of Billy Beer!!
  • Lead lined underwear!! Now you can watch the blue glow of nuclear fission in your own personal nuclear reactor and protect those valuable family assets!
  • A Classic Movie subscription to such classics as Dr. Strangelove, A Boy and His Dog, the Mad Maxx series, and other post-nuclear apocalypse favorites.
  • A lifetime pass to the Bill Clinton Presidential Library, where you can view such exhibits such as:
    • A blue dress once worn by Monica (small stain on the shoulder).
    • A cigar reputed to have been "smoked" without actually being lit.
    • Papers from Travelgate and the Rose Law Firm.
  • And as a special Bonus, vacation property in the famous Whitewater retirement community!!

But wait!! That's not all!!

As part of this special and exclusive offer, a non-inspection package that will keep those pesky Useless Nations nuclear inspectors out of your hair!! Yes, you have the freedom to build in peace those wonders of nuclear power. But only if you call now!! Operators are not standing by!!

Call now at 1-800-GET-NUKE!!

(Some restrictions apply. Not to be used for developing nuclear weapons - only your promise is necessary to secure this offer. Satisfaction is not guaranteed.)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

130 Posts & A Year Later...

Yes, this is the 130th post of Tom's Common Sense, and exactly one year after the first post. It's been an interesting ride.

I originally wanted to post about my concerns with the business situation at Delphi, but soon was drawn into other subjects - politics, social issues, humor, Iraq, terrorism, and others. Some things have stayed the same, others have changed.

Also, not being content with the standard Blogger templates, the look of Tom's Common Sense has changed several times, and an index of past posts by subject was created to allow you, the reader, to see what I've had to say about various subjects. Hopefully, this has helped some of you, although this might change in the future. Blogger's Beta looks promising in allowing each post to have a subject, similer to Wordpress and others. If anyone has switched over to the new Blogger Beta, please let me know what you think of it.

Other improvements to the template most commented on have been the Points to Ponder as well as the Notable Posts. I'm looking at changing these slightly as it requires that I modify the template each time these need to be changed. And that's a pain at times.

The biggest change is that I'm having problems visiting everyone else's blogs - life is busy between job & family. I'm not on the road as much, and this has reduced the time that I once had (I would write posts and visit everyone else's blogs instead of watching TV). Hopefully, I will touch base with everyone once in a while, and I thank everyone for visiting this blog. Your comments and support have been overwhelming.

Last, I would like you, the reader, to tell me what you like or dislike about this blog. Subjects, look of the blog, or what you would like to read about. Any additional Points to Ponder that you would like to contribute and what your favorites are. Same goes for the posts that would appear in the Notable Posts. Operators are not standing by, but the comment section and email address are open for your comments.

Again, Thank You Everyone!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Appeasement Still Doesn't Work!!

And neither, apparently, do good wishes, either...

I'm writing about how our buddy Bill "I didn't have sex with that woman" Clinton gave a reported $1 Billion in technology, information, and materials to North Korea in exchange for nothing but a promise to use all that stuff to help the people of North Korea. So now North Korea has the bomb, a missile to deliver that bomb, and still has people starving in the streets. What a bargain!!

What's really disturbing is that Iran and North Korea are the remaining two countries of the infamous "Axis of Evil." With the Useless Nations potentially cracking down on North Korea, don't you think that Iran just might buy the bomb from their buddies? I do, and their first target will be Tel Aviv (that's in Israel for those people in Rio Linda). What happens after that will be anyone's guess.

At least they'll have another exhibit to display at the Clinton Presidential Library - A picture of smoking ruins under a mushroom cloud. It should display nicely next to that blue dress with the stain on the shoulder...

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Service-Based Economy

While digging through some old files to figure out what to pitch & what to keep, I ran across the following article originally written by the editor of Manufacturing Engineering magazine in 2003:

Wake Up, Brie Eaters!

Brian J. Hogan, Editor

Not long ago, Ingersoll Milling Machine closed its doors. Another great US machine-tool company bites the dust, and its closure isn't worth an inch of copy in the typical American newspaper. What has happened, and continues to happen, to the US machine tool industry is symptomatic of something much broader - a general failure on the part of this country's political leadership to understand the value of American industrial society.

Keeping a machine tool industry, and a manufacturing culture, alive and well is basically a political decision. Germany has made that decision, as have Japan, Italy,Taiwan, and Switzerland. China clearly understands the importance of machine tools, and the manufacturing enterprise.

In contrast, the people who form much of our political leadership are the kind of liberal-arts-loving snobs who think engineering colleges are trade schools, and physics/math/chem/biology majors are boring nerds. When people of this sort wind up running big companies, they view the engineers who work for them as servants, and their factory-floor workers as interchangeable serfs. When they go into politics, they spend their time pacifying the latest trendy group of victims. To this layer of self-satisfied individuals, neither the machine tool industry nor the manufacturing enterprise matters. These brie-munching, wine-sipping characters will sit lumpishly and watch the destruction of the technical foundations of the US, understanding nothing, and doing nothing.

The prosperity of the US rests upon the real wealth generated by a short list of activities: extractive industries, agriculture, and manufacturing. Every other line of work takes the money earned in these fields and shuffles it around & distributes it. Your local lawyer does not generate wealth, and neither does ye olde stockbroker.

Technology supports the economy of this nation-state, but our politics are dominated by people whose technical expertise doesn't extend beyond using a television remote. This situation is dangerous. The brie eaters have got to wake up and support what is left of the US machine tool industry. In fact, they've got to encourage the revival of that industry, and move to strengthen US manufacturing, or the entity we call the United States will be in the soup.

None of this means I'm attacking offshore builders or offshore manufacturers for goodness sake, those companies bring superb technology and wonderful products into the US, and their equipment is keeping US manufacturing alive. I'm complaining about our so-called leaders and legislators who are indifferent to manufacturing. They don't understand or refuse to understand that machine tools really are, as the Japanese say, Mother Machines. Politicians who ignore the condition of the machine tool industry are fools.

While the above example uses the machine tool industry as an example of a declining industrial base, there are many other industries that are just as affected. I can think of the automotive industry right off the bat. Just this past week, in view of declining sales and manufacturing reductions, parts supplier Detroit Axle is now starting to offer buyouts to its Union employees. GM, Ford, and Delphi (just to name a few) have all offered buyouts as part of their restructuring plans. This declining ability to make parts and products will eventually weaken this country.

The point is that I remember my high school economics class making the arguement that the real worth of a country is its industrial capability to manufacture goods. These goods have an intrinsic worth which is the sum of materials and time used to make them. Now we are entering into what is known now as a "service-based" economy.

This economy is the ability to shuffle money around based on time and talent. On the surface, it just doesn't seem to be too bad - we sell our services to overseas companies, and they sell us our material goods. Doesn't sound too bad, does it?

One of the problems is that intellectual property is such a tricky thing to keep proprietary. Once something has been done, then it can usually be reverse engineered by those companies or countries without the ethics or legislation to prohibit these actions. Think of pirated DVDs for sale in China (and beyond) and I think you get the general idea.

Another problem is that if your country buys its machinery or goods from another country and it breaks down, then how are you going to get replacement parts or the widget fixed? If that supplier doesn't have an office or supply depot in your country, it could take months to get a replacement part or a service person to come & fix it. I have seen this very situation more often than what I care to admit.

Government's position in this process is two-fold: The first is to promote policies that encourage manufacturing companies to set up shop and remain in the United States. These policies could range from tax incentives to development loans or grants. These policies are used by foreign countries to companies to provide them not only an incentive to stay within their borders, but to bolster their economies as well. For them, it's a win-win situation, especially if it allows them to compete on the world stage.

The second is to make sure that companies compete on a "level playing field". NAFTA, CAFTA, and granting foreign countries favorable trading partner status does nothing to secure jobs and factories in this country. When the economies of third world countries have a standard of living far below that of the United States, the advantage goes to them as wages are hugely disproportionate. I have posted several articles on this topic, and the upshot is that their economies & standards of living will not rise to meet ours, but ours will fall to meet theirs.

The governor of Michigan has gotten a lot of heat in campaign ads, and rightly so. Michigan has lost so many manufacturing jobs it is pathetic. The economic plan is a disaster, and no relief is in sight.

But it doesn't matter what part of the country you live in, this should be a nationwide concern. If the jobs go elsewhere, what else is next?

So in this midterm election, make sure you know where the candidates of your choice stand on this issue. You have just a little over 30 days to find out before the election.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Paddington Bear Kills 2500!!

Paddington Bear, a favorite of children everywhere, has been implcated earlier this month in multiple deaths in Milford, NH. He was caught at the scene of the crime dressed in a yellow raincoat and hat.

Mr. Bear is accused of murder by one of the most heinous methods - suffocation. The crime occurred at the New Hampshire Fish and Game Hatchery. The details of the crime are somewhat sketchy, but it is surmised that Mr. Bear blocked a drain in a tank, depriving oxygen to 2500 trout. The motive for the crime is unknown as Mr. Bear has asserted his 5th Amendment Rights and isn't talking to the investigating authorities.

The investigation is continuing into the crime, and the attorneys for the victims may pursue Mr. Bear for damages if the investigation finds that this is a hate crime as defined by Federal statutes.

At this time, the crime does not appear to be terrorist-related. To bear this out, a group calling itself the I.R.A. (Islamic Rights for Animals) has issued a fatwa on Mr. Bear since some of the victims may have been followers of Mohammed, which has prompted authorities to move Mr. Bear to an undisclosed toybox.

For the actual AP report on this incident, the link is here.

Monday, September 25, 2006

4th Time the Charm?

As reported by, the Pope met with Muslim diplomats earlier today to mend relations after his remarks about Islam during a September 12 speech at Regensburg University. This is the 4th time that the Pope has tried to defuse the situation.

The remarks that got the Islamic clerics & "others" upset were the words of a Byzantine emperor who characterized some of the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad as "evil and inhuman," particularly "his command to spread by the sword the faith." Pope Benedict XVI has since said that the comments were taken out of context, and he regretted that Muslims were offended. The reaction by the aforementioned offended Muslims has included protests, violence, and murder. The most publicized of these was the execution of a nun in Somolia who forgave her attackers as she was dying.

This is absolutely incredible to me! As stated in the "Points to Ponder" scroller to the right, Why must I tolerate your intolerance? Why is it that if there is the slightest criticism of Islam, these people go ballistic and start running amok? Worse yet, why must these people be excused from their actions? Why does the world as a whole put up with these idiots?

It can't be on account of it's a criticism of a religion. Christians and Jews certainly don't get a pass on this - I think of all the criticism offered in the media of these religions (cartoons and other items bordering on the obscene), and what the Mohammed cartoons showed was extremely mild. Israel certainly didn't get a pass on their little war with Hezbollah.

Actually, it might be a little more sinister than what one might think. I am starting to believe that the world, through the Useless Nations, would rather see the civilized West (Europe and the US) bear the brunt of the Islamic terror attacks. Many of the countries in the UN are third-world dictatorships that really don't want their people to have any freedoms at all. If the Islamic terrorists keeps the West busy chasing them, then maybe the West will leave them alone. What they don't realize is that if the West falls, or enacts an isolationist-type policy, then they just might find these jokers in their respective laps.

And yet no one really seems to understand the danger that this type of radical Islam puts the world into. I remember a World History class some 30 years ago in High School. The topic was Islam and how it shaped the Middle East. The teacher stated the following:

Islam is a religion of conquest - it was spread by subjugation. The soldiers would ride into a villiage and wipe out any resistance. Afterward, they would gather up all the villiagers, and separated the leaders. The Imam riding with the soldiers would then ask them one by one if they would accept Islam as their religion and Allah as their god. If not, the leader would be forced to kneel, and he was beheaded in front of the assembled villiagers. This process usually didn't last very long as the villiage saw which way this was going, so they would take vows to accept this new religion. Afterward, they would ride to the next villiage and repeat the "conversion" of the infidels.

This is the radical Islamic mindset - convert or die! This is their mantra - this is their mission. And with the radical Iranian president hell-bent on nukes, I really wonder if the world hasn't gone mad in ignoring this threat.

Where is this all headed? Well, I can certainly state that it shouldn't begin with apologies for statements that are historical in nature. I stand by the following statement made in a previous post:

People who apologise for, make excuses for, or otherwise try & appease these nutcases are only making things worse. Firm, decisive action will eventually need to be taken against these promoters of violence. The question is, who's going to do it? The moderate Islamic sects, or the rest of the world. The first is preferable, the second is not.

Indeed, who is going to rein in these purveyors of the "religion of peace"? I certainly hope that the US doesn't get sucked into this alone.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Unions for Democrats? Why?

I already know that this post is going to rile a few of my Union brothers & sisters, but I'm going to let fly anyway...

I've been a Union member now going on 6 1/2 years and getting the Solidarity Union magazine all that time. Every time I pick up the magazine & leaf through it the message is that Republicans are against Unions, and Democrats are our friends. Vote Democrat, and all things will be better - jobs will stay in the US of A instead of going to China or Mexico. What?? I must respectfully disagree with this recommendation.

First off, I do not believe that either political party is particularly Union friendly unless it's around an election time. That's when the statements start flying around the airwaves that the opposition party is against Unions and their party will keep jobs in the state or country. It doesn't matter whether the statements are true or false, it just depends which message ticks off the right people, or whom has been brainwashed the most.

The Union Leadership touts that the Democrats are "for the little guy." Nonsense!! The Democrats are for themselves, and whatever will get their members elected and bring more power to the party. Here's a couple of examples:

Does anyone remember the debates about NAFTA? I still remember watching Al "I Love Trees" Gore having a discussion on NAFTA with Ross Perot. In it, he stated that NAFTA was a good thing because it would raise the Mexican's standard of living up to that of the United States worker, and then the two countries would be able to compete on a level playing field. I almost died on the spot!! First of all, the Mexican government sets the wages of all the workers in Mexico - I know this for a fact. And even if that wasn't true, how many generations would it take for this to happen? I don't think we could lose enough jobs to Mexico for their bankrupt economy to come up to 2nd class world-standards & the average person's standard of living to get anywhere close to that of the poorest US worker (Union or not). Who was in power when NAFTA was voted on? If I remember correctly, Democrats had the White House and both Houses of Congress.

If that wasn't recent enough, then who granted "Most Favored Trading Partner" status to Communist China? Yep, Uncle Bill and the Democrats (although I think Congress may have been Republican at the time, but Bill pushed for it). And guess what? Union jobs are going to China, and even the Mexicans are losing entire factories to China (and you should hear them scream!).

Now I'm not suggesting that the Republicans are pure as the driven snow on this issue - they just don't seem to be as covert or deceptive about what they are for or about. They are definitely pro-business at the expense of the Unions, although I am starting to think that they are tending toward a neutral position. But stop to think about this for a second - if businesses are doing well, wouldn't they be more receptive toward favorable Union contracts? One could hope, but as there is a constant reminder in Solidarity that this might not be the case.

The Electrolux company is moving a factory from Greenville, Michigan to Juarez, Mexico. It's not that the factory wasn't profitable, it just wasn't profitable enough. Corporate greed? Maybe, but it must be remembered that the company is responsible to the stockholders to maximize the earnings of the company to pay dividends on the shares that these investors have bought. The company is beholden to the stockholders, not to the Union, workers, or the management of the company.

The whole idea behind a Union is to first and foremost protect the worker from abuses from the company they work for. Fair wages and other benefits are also part of the contracts as well as a certain amount of job security if the company runs into problems. A Union is not about telling a company how to run its business!! If anything, the contract that the Union and company signs is to protect the worker from mistakes the company's management may make, which should help the company plan better.

The issue that I have is that the Union Leadership should not blindly endorse any one politcal party over another - it should pick and choose political candidates on their merits. I don't believe that Ronald Reagan was endorsed by the Unions, but he helped set up an economic boom that lasted through the Bush (1) & Clinton years, and that hugely benefitted the Unions. Unfortunately, that has been undone by shortsighted but long-reaching treaties such as NAFTA, CAFTA, and China's hugely profitable (for them) trading status.

So when you vote this upcoming midterm election, have the presence of mind and the foresight to investigate each candidate. Vote for the candidate of your choice based on his/her merits, and not their political affiliation. Don't vote for someone merely on the base that an organization that you belong to says to vote for that candidate. It's your vote, and your choice.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Islamic Intolerance

By now, everyone is aware of the Pope's comments concerning Islam, and the radical Islamic reaction condemning his statements. Considering that he was quoting someone else to prove some points (and the radicals proving the points for him), the fallout is expected. Of course, the Pope has issued his apology, and it is being rejected by a few of the more radical Imams.

While I realize that not all Muslims are not as radical as the media (and others) portray them to be, one does wonder why the moderate don't tell the radicals to shut up. Perhaps they are afraid of getting their heads chopped off - after all, if the radicals don't have a Jew, Christian, or other infidel to kill, they'll find a Muslim not of their particular sect to kill (at least in the Middle East).

So now these Islamic idiots are using the Pope's historical references to call for more violence against whomever they "feel" that has offended them in the name of their religion. How pathetic is it that they must grasp for excuses to cause harm to their fellow man to "defend their faith." Are they not secure in the belief that Allah is all powerful and can defend himself?

On a deeper point, what is really being said here? The Pope made the reference that belief in a religion (referencing Islam) must not be forced upon a person, i.e., freedom of choice of a religion. History has shown Islam was forced upon conquered lands (and yes, I'm aware that various Christian groups have done the same at various periods of history). And yet the modern equivalent is being demonstrated and stated by the radical Imams and other "religious" terrorist leader - convert to Islam (our sect) or die. And yet, there are people who just don't see that caving in to the "join us or die" proclamation goes against several of the basic freedoms that we enjoy in this country.

People who apologise for, make excuses for, or otherwise try & appease these nutcases are only making things worse. Firm, decisive action will eventually need to be taken against these promoters of violence. The question is, who's going to do it? The moderate Islamic sects, or the rest of the world. The first is preferable, the second is not.

With the reactions to the Mohammed cartoons and now this, is there now any question that this is not a "religion of peace", at least as practiced by some sects? If anything, these radical elements are pushing the world toward a religious war, not the other way around. What's even more scary is that they believe that they will win, even though the world could be destroyed in the process!! At least that's what I see if Iran's radical leadership gets a working atomic device, sticks it on a missle & fires it at 1) Israel, 2) the Vatican, and/or 3) anybody else that's an infidel. Oh well, at least they'll get their virgins...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Defeating Terrorism - Part 5

This is the fifth and final part of a series that will explore what needs to be done in order to defeat terrorism.


With the previous concepts in place (Unity, Intelligence, Security, & Logistics), it is now possible to find where these people are, how they operate, where they are getting their supplies, and how best to protect ourselves from them with the resolve to carry this effort through to the end.

Will this effort be easy? No, it will not. It will also not be without controversy if any of the post-9/11 political garbage is of any indication. However, this must be done if we, as a country, expect to provide our children a safe country in which to grow up in.

It will also take the efforts of more than just this country. It will take the efforts of all nations that want to eliminate terrorism from the world. While the Useless Nations and Coffee Anonymous have sat back and twiddled their thumbs while the number of terrorist-related atrocities increased, it will be up to the United States to formulate alliances, coalitions, and agreements to combat this threat to the world. The US will need to take this leadership role because, quite frankly, I am unaware of any other country either in a position or willingn to do so.

Will innocent people be put into harm's way? Yes, it will, and that is regrettable. However, as demonstrated recently by Hezbollah, this is their modus operandi, i.e., blend in with the population and hide behind the innocent to make the cost of eliminating them too high.

Last, it will be a long, drawn out struggle to root out these people who cause havoc. They run & hide wherever they find a haven to spread their poison among the disaffected. And that is perhaps the greatest horror of all - turning the innocent into their weapons with the promise of a better afterlife.

Once the terrorists are found, what to do with them? Those that survive the inevitable firefights should be tried before a court of the country of their birth (providing that country is an ally). If they are from a terrorist nation, then perhaps a trial similar to the Nuremburg Tribunals would be in order. Those found guilty would not be executed, but sentenced to life breaking big rocks into smaller rocks into pebbles into sand into dust... I have no desire in creating martyrs for their cause.

I know that this series is far from ideal, and there are holes & gaps that would need to be filled for this effort to be practical & effective. However, something must be done to defeat terrorism. Good thoughts, ignoring the problem, or burying our collective heads in the sand will not make this threat go away - it will make it worse in the long run.

Write or call the candidates up for election in your area, and let them know of your concerns with the terrorist threat. Tell them that you expect them to answer your questions and that they will not only need to earn your vote this election, but the next as well - they will be held accountable for their actions or inactions. Ignore your party affilliation and vote for the person that you believe will get the job done. There's less than 60 days to the mid-term elections, but every election is important as is every vote.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Remembering 9/11

Sitting at my desk at another plant on assignment five years ago, I was finishing up some report when someone came in the office and announced that a plane had hit one of the World Trade Center buildings. I really didn't think much of it at the time, and thought that some joy riding pilot in a Cessna got too close to one of the buildings, got caught in an updraft, and slammed into the building.

I finished up the report, and went out on the floor to check on the project's progress, and I happened to see one of the TVs the company had set up for internal communications. Someone had put the feed from one of the national networks on the network, and I saw the WTC burning. I was stunned for two reasons - the first was that it was such a clear day, so how could someone accidentally hit one of the buildings. The second was that I just couldn't understand how a small plane could cause so much damage. That's when I saw the second plane hit...

Dumbfounded, I suddenly realized that the first plane was not a Cessna or other small plane, but a full-sized, passenger-carrying jet. I next understood that this was deliberate, because there was absolutely no way that two planes could hit the WTC buildings on the same clear day. Then there was the overwhelming sense of sadness, grief, hopelessness as the dawning of a new thought came to mind...

Terrorism, unlike anything that we have ever known, had come to America.

I watched, horrified along with the rest of the country, as the towers came down mere minutes from each other. I couldn't understand that at the time - this was the last thing that I had expected. I had known that the Empire State Building had been struck by a B-25 bomber and had survived with minimal damage - why not a modern building? But that was not the case here - too big, too much fuel, too much heat - and the towers collapsed. And I wept openly as I watched the plumes of dust rise over the island of Manhattan.

Later, the news of the Pentagon being hit and the plane going down in Pennsylvania came across the news, but everyone was in shock. Who could have done this, and why? Questions abounded, and answers were few in coming. Wild speculation and rumors ran through the plant unchecked. And everyone was afraid...

Where was the next attack going to happen, and when? Everyone struggled to make sense of the madhouse that the country had become. Nothing was the same, nor would it ever be again. And the skies went silent except for the roar of fighter jets on patrol.

I feared for the future of the country, and of that of my son's. What kind of a world was he going to grow up in? How much different was his childhood and adult life going to be than mine? The future had suddenly become so very uncertain and frightening for all of us.

The American people are now at war, not with a nation, but with an ideology that hates this country and all of it's citizens. These people live, think, sleep, and eat with the thought of killing us and destroying this country that we live in simply because they do not like us for the freedoms we enjoy (especially the one about freedom to worship). And their reward for doing so is their version of heaven. And knowing all of this, there are those who still believe that these fanatics can be negotiated with.

In the past five years, we observed the political parties pull together like most of us had never known before, only to watch political sniping and power plays take the place of securing this country from foreign terrorists once & for all. The planes are flying again, but at great inconvenience to all. Terrorist attacks have taken place and were prevented around the world, but we all know it's a matter of time before another attack happens here.

What does the future hold? That is unknown to all except the Creator. But I am hopeful, both in this country and my fellow Americans. We have proven in the past that we are a resilient people, able to rise and meet any challenge before us. I can only pray that this will be the case as our new enemy is as patient, cunning, and vicious as any beast of the field. And we must remember that as we observe this most solemn day.

Friday, September 08, 2006

New Index Posted

For some time now, I've been wanting to have a better index to the posts rather than Blogger's archive by month/year. Finally, I think I've got it!

Kindly follow the link on the right, and let me know what you think. Thank you!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Defeating Terrorism - Part 4

This is the fourth part of a series that will explore what needs to be done in order to defeat terrorism.


Ask any general what will win a war in the long run, and he will state supplies. Sure, guns & soldiers win the battles, but you do need the rounds to fire and food to feed the troops. The recent Israeli and Hezbollah conflict highlighted the fact that supplies and funding of Hezbollah by Iran made this conflict possible. Hezbollah received funding and arms from Iran for years. If Iran had not done this, Hezbollah would have dried up long ago & blown away with the next strong wind.

Here's what needs to happen to reign in or limit terrorists in what they can do:

  • Find out where the terrorists keep their money, who is sponsoring the terrorists (nations, individuals, companies, etc.), and freeze their bank accounts.
  • If a nation is found to be sponsoring terrorism (funding and/or weapons), then all trade with that country is to cease. Yes, this means that there is a very real possibility that some of our suppliers of crude oil are involved and this would mean higher gasoline prices, but what would you rather have - terrorism in the neighborhood or higher prices at the pump?
  • If a company or individual is found to be sponsoring terrorist activities, then their assets should be immediately siezed, and their officers jailed.

But this might not be enough. I read in a magazine (Time or Newsweek) about how al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations are using the drug trade to fund their activities. Of course, this is a cash business and rarely are the funds stashed away in a bank.

Another alternative, although radical, is the concept of total war, which was demonstrated in World War II. This meant that anything that the enemy had that could be used to support their war effort directly or indirectly was a target. Factories, railroads, telephone exchanges, military installations and civilians were all targeted. However, the total war concept cannot be used with the terrorist organizations or countries to cut off these supplies. No, we are far too civilized for that, and unfortunately, very impractical for battling an enemy that does not call any one nation home...

Instead, determine where the terrorists keep their supplies & weapons, and destroy or confiscate these items. Hard to do, yes, impossible, no. But it beats carpet bombing nations wholesale to get rid of caches of weapons and supplies hidden by a few.

Is this simplistic? Yes, it is. Are there complications? You bet!

Complications range from the Useless Nations to our own politicians, special interest groups, and media hampering & sabotaging current efforts to find and stop money, weapons, and supplies from reaching our enemies. Countries in the UN are not all supportive of the war against terrorists, and covertly support them. This means that the UN may not be any help to anyone anytime soon. Our own politicians and their ilk are too much into hating & blaming the current administration and focusing on the upcoming elections to be anywhere near as effective as they should be in protecting the American people.

Since we cannot do much with the UN, do this instead. Let your representative know that they need to earn your vote this election. Let them know of your concerns with finding terrorist money, weapons, and supplies. Have them tell you of their plans to combat this threat to this country, and hold them to their word. This is what our form of government is about - electing people who will get the job done, and holding our elected officials accountable for their actions or inactions on issues that are important to this country.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Bill Whittle Quotes

Bill Whittle at Eject! Eject! Eject! is always a great read when he has time to write. He posted the following back on June 18 (I'm a little behind in reading everyone's posts):

Socialist intellectuals will tell you that Cuba is a model nation: universal free health care, near total literacy, and essentially no gap whatsoever between the rich and the poor. They call it an island paradise where brotherhood and compassion reign in stark contrast to the brutal inequalities of the heartless and racist capitalist monster to the North, ruled by its Imperial Nazi King, who is the devious mastermind of all manner of Conspiratorial Wheels and is also a moron.

Capitalist intellectuals -– and there are not many, since most of these people have jobs -– argue that Cuba is a squalid, corrupt, poverty-ridden basket case, a land of oppression and secret police and torture chambers run by a megalomaniac who practices the most idiotic, inhuman and degrading economic system ever invented.

Well, ask yourself what it would take to give up your home, your country, your family and all your friends. Ask yourself how desperate you would have to be to sneak out in the night, and strap your family – your grandmother and infant son – to a collection of inner tubes lashed together and set out in the dark surf across 90 miles of shark-infested water in the dead of night, hoping against hope to make landfall. We can all agree, I think, that that kind of desperation could only be driven by a fairly passionate first-person opinion of such things. Surely this goes beyond what you or I would do to win a map argument at Starbucks.

So. Go up on deck, get out the telescope, and answer one simple question for me and for yourself:

Which way are the rafts headed?

Which intellectual are you? Socialistic (Liberal) or Capitalist (Conservative)? Think about it.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Definition of War

Merriam-Webster defines war as:

1 a (1) : a state of usually open and declared armed hostile conflict between states or nations (2) : a period of such armed conflict (3) : STATE OF WAR b : the art or science of warfare c (1) obsolete : weapons and equipment for war (2) archaic : soldiers armed and equipped for war; 2 a : a state of hostility, conflict, or antagonism b : a struggle or competition between opposing forces or for a particular end.

I have heard various people, politicians, and talk-show hosts maintain that the United States is not in a state of war, whether it was against Saddam's Iraq or the threat of al-Quada. According to the definition above, they are technically correct. However, I don't think that the people affected by September 11, 2001 would agree with that kind of logic.

The fact is that a terrorist organization hijacked 4 planes, crashing them into buildings occupied by ordinary citizens, our military headquarters, and possibly the seat of our government. Their aim was to cause as many casualties as possible, and create chaos within our government and financial institutions. Another intent of their actions was to inconvenience every citizen that they did not kill by interupting the airlines, and increasing the security measures that were implemented after these attacks.

There is no doubt in my mind that the United States and/or the Western world is in a state of war with a movement that has no country in which to call home (although there are countries that support them). The definition that Merriam-Webster uses does not adequately describe the state of conflict that the modern world finds itself in. War is traditionally fought between two or more nations - today's war is now being fought between nations and groups of terrorists who are nothing more than thugs and hate groups.

These terrorists range from disgruntled political groups to religious zealots (and I think some of them are a little of both). Hezbollah and Hamas have the mission statement to distroy Israel. I understand that al-Qaeda was originally started by bin Laden to protest the Saudi kingdom's close ties with the United States, and now supposedly has added a "religious" angle to strike against the American infidels. Radical Islamic countries (like Iran) & clerics stir up their people into religious fervors to reclaim Islamic lands and to turn the world into one of where Islamic law prevails.

There is more to the struggle against these groups than just 9/11. The United States has been attacked before by these groups. The attack on the Marine barracks and US Embassy in Beruit in 1983 has been linked to Hezbollah. The bombings of the USS Cole and other embassies, nightclubs of where US servicemen and civilians gather, and other various acts of terror not reported (because they are not spectacular enough for the evening news) are just scratching the surface of the danger and horror these groups represent.

No, this isn't a war by the dictionary definition - this is a battle, a fight to the finish, one of where it's either going to be us or them that will prevail. If they win, think of the consequences of losing all the freedoms that we enjoy in this country - freedom of speech, of religion, of dress (within reason), of trial by a jury of our peers, and other rights guaranteed by the Constitution and Bill of Rights. If we win, we keep those freedoms.

Because of this struggle to keep our way of life guaranteed by the principles that this country is founded upon, I believe that the definition of war should include the conflicts between nations (governments) and terrorist groups. This is a battle for survival, is it not? That's usually what wars are ultimately fought for - the loser loses their country and/or way of life.

And now something to ponder...

The fifth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks is less than two weeks away. Is the world a safer place? In some respects I think so. Plots have been foiled, but attacks have also been carried out against other countries. Thankfully, no other attacks have occurred here in the United States, and I pray that our law enforcement & intelligence agencies keep up their excellent work. But that is no consolation to the thousands of victims of these groups.

Take time to pause & reflect during the time leading up to 9/11, and count your blessings that we live in the greatest country on Earth, despite it's faults. We enjoy rights and freedoms that no other country even dares to grant its citizens. We enjoy standards of living that even most of our poor would be the wealthy in other countries. We have the opportunities, if we take the risks, to be able to succeed (or fail) through hard work, perseverance, and sometimes, luck. For the most part, our medical system can't be beat. So the next time you want to grouse & bitch about this country as a whole, remember the previous statements, and thank God that you live here instead of there. Because if you lived there, you wouldn't be reading this, and that's why we must win the battle (or the war) against terrorism.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Defeating Terrorism - Part 3

This is the third part of a series that will explore what needs to be done in order to defeat terrorism.


The 9/11 Commission recommended, wisely, that the Federal government take care of these border security problems to ensure the safety of our country - Jack Kingston

I heard an interesting but disconcerting fact a couple of days ago: On the Canadian / US border, the US Border Patrol will accept over 6000 forms of identification for admittance to the United States. Who can reasonably be expected identify a valid ID from so many documents? Not your average person!!

Security of the borders is not an immigration issue. Rather, it is an obligation of our elected officials mandated by the Consititution to secure this country from its enemies. And we have enemies in spades!

Just one week ago I heard on the radio that sheriffs in Texas are warning about Middle-Eastern men learning Spanish and sneaking across the border. Is there any doubt that some of these people are terrorists? Not in my mind.

For us to be safe, the United States must regain control of its borders NOW!! It doesn't do any good to track down people if they can cross the borders almost at will in order to evade the authorities. Our elected officials must get off their collective butts and produce the funding & manpower to secure this country from maniacs who wish to do us, the citizens of this country, great harm. A few suggestions, of course...

1) Seal up the borders so that even a jack-rabbit can't get through without being observed and apprehended. Electronic surveillance only goes so far - we need people out there that can take quick & decisive action and nail these people before they can do anything.

2) To exit or enter the country, restrict the number of documents allowed from 6000 to 1. Yes, I'm talking about every US traveler to a foreign land uses a passport leave and re-enter the country. Yes, they can be expensive, but if you really want to go to Canada to smoke those Cubans, you had better get one. And most countries in the world will insist that you have one.

3) Monitor the ports, airports, and any other places of entry into this country for people and/or materials trying to sneak in. Restrictive & time-consuming - yes. Necessary in this world - I think so, considering the consequences.

4) Use the intelligence that has been gathered to protect ourselves from the plans of these terrorists. Implement new security protocols when new avenues of attack are discovered ahead of time instead of after. For instance - cockpit doors being more difficult to enter from the passenger compartment was put into place after 9/11, not before.

Now I know that I'm not a security expert, but it seems that the above should be a minimum to keep the bad guys out. At least that's what my common sense is telling me...