Thursday, April 30, 2009

Why I'm a Progressive/Democrat

I know that some of my Republican friends will take exception to this, but I lean towards the progressive Democrats because I believe in freedom and liberty. Republicans simply don't believe in freedom and liberty. They have convinced many that only their message supports these cornerstones of this great country. I suppose any Republican reading this statement is jumping up and down now and trying to install a virus on my computer. Let me explain why I believe Republicans lack an understanding of freedom and liberty.

Let me just ask a series of questions and you decide what the best answer is. 1). Which party is more likely to not support the right of a women to choose an abortion? 2). Which party is more likely to oppose gay marriage or rights of gays to co-habitate? 3). Which party has pushed for more and more drug testing of citizens throughout the nation for multiple reasons? 4). Which party is more likely to force the teaching of junk science in the classroom; better known as intelligent design? 5). Which party is in favor of forcing prayer in the public schools? 6). Which party is more likely to claim that we are a "Christian Nation"? 7). Which party sides with big business and is more likely to oppose union organizing? 8). Which party is always fighting the raising of the minimum wage? 9). Which party has opposed quality health care as a right? 10). Which party believes that pension programs (including social security) need to be privatized and managed by Wall St. titans?

Did you all respond; the Republican party to all of the above questions? I think that anyone that is honest with themselves would have answered the above questions with one word; Republican.

Let's take a closer look. 1). Republicans are more likely to take the right of women to choose an abortion out of their hands. Is this representative of freedom and liberty? 2). Republicans are more likely to outlaw gay marriage as well as support laws that dictated behavior behind closed doors. Is this representative of freedom and liberty? 3). Reagan began the move to drug test everyone, overlooking the U.S. Constitution's ban on inappropriate search and seizure. Republicans are far more likely to require school children to submit to drug testing without probable cause. Republicans are far more likely to oppose legalizing certain drugs. Is this representative of freedom and liberty? 4). Republicans are far more likely to pass laws requiring the teaching of crap (intelligent design) which is detrimental to the human race. Is this representative of freedom and liberty? 5). Republicans continue to fight for requiring prayer in public schools even though public schools are not institutions of worship. In other words, Republicans are trying to force all citizens to accept Christian religion. Is this representative of freedom and liberty? 6). Republicans continue to claim that the U.S. is a Christian nation, when the founders established from day one, freedom of religion. Is this representative of freedom and liberty? 7). Republicans (except Teddy Roosevelt) have historically bashed unions as enemies of capitalism. Republicans have fought union organizing in an effort to support the elite. Is this representative of freedom and liberty? 8). Republicans have always fought the raising of the minimum wage which helps to liberate those that are economically downtrodden. Is this representative of freedom and liberty? 9). Republicans have always opposed government intervention in health care. Lack of health care for all citizens eliminates the possibility of the pursuit of happiness. Is this representative of freedom and liberty? 10). Republicans want the financial future of our citizens left to the wisdom of Wall Street. Republicans want citizens to be forced to invest in money grabbing Wall Street schemes that fluctuate as often as the wind. Is this representative of freedom and liberty?

I'm a Democrat because I believe in freedom and liberty. If you were honest with yourselves when answering the questions, you must see that Republican philosophy of today does not fully support freedom and liberty. I support freedom and liberty and I'm proud of it. By the way; I support gun rights but I'm opposed to the sale of assault weapons. I suppose that Republicans could turn my argument around on this issue. At any rate; I think everyone should walk the talk when it comes to freedom and liberty.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Wow!! Arlen Specter is now a Democrat! Bipartisanship Wins!

Arlen Specter is about to speak to the nation on cable TV to inform us all that he is switching his party affiliation to the Democratic Party. This is really huge news that positions Specter to be able to wheel and deal and become the pivotal vote in the Senate.

Historically, I was a huge fan of Arlen Specter; then came the New England Patriot's scandal called "spy gate". I was upset at him; largely because I was a Patriot fan, but I had other reasons for questioning his judgement. It seemed to me that in his role as Chair of the Judiciary Committee, that if he wanted to investigate video-taping, he needed to turn his committee to the video produced by the U.S. military in the Persian Gulf that showed Iranian gunships chasing a U.S destroyer.

After experts outside of the Government viewed the video with the accompanying audio tape; that was derogatory to the U.S., it became clear that the video was doctored. How; you may ask can you prove that? Simple physics called the "Doppler effect" is why there should have been a major investigation by his committee of this faked video. Don't forget, this video had tremendous implications towards the Bush administration's posturing over Iran. No investigation occurred over the faked video and the incident seems to have disappeared into history. The video is more evidence of crimes within the Bush administration. Bush was looking for military action against Iran at the time.

The faked video in the Persian Gulf had far greater implications for the security of this nation and the world than the Patriot's video tape.

Today, Specter made a great decision. When Al Franken is seated, the Senate will have a filibuster proof Senate.

Today, I'm a fan of Arlen Specter and I bet Robert Kraft is too. Who cares about the New England Patriots? OK; I still care about the New England Patriots.


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Random Reasoning's XI

  1. This week's poll was the most lopsided "Governing Against the Tide" poll to date. Response to the question; Should the Obama administration assign a special prosecutor to investigate war crimes associated with Bush administration decisions, was overwhelmingly; yes. The response; hell yes accounted for over 96% of responses, the response; hell, I don't know, accounted for 4% or all responses.
  2. Obama's first 100 day report card has been published a few days early and it appears that 69% of Americans think he is doing a great job. By the way; 69% is not a D+, it's really an A+.
  3. How come the state never offered me a "retention bonus"? I suppose I got no bonus for the same reason that George Bush and Dick Cheney weren't offered a"retention bonus".
  4. Colin Powell's former chief of staff, Lawrence Wilkerson has just said that there needs to be a special prosecutor to investigate war crimes; and, the lawyers involved in the Bush decisions should be disbarred.
  5. In a recent poll, 64% of Minnesota voters want Norm Coleman to quit. Additionally, only 28% of voters thought his most recent appeal was appropriate. Give it up!
  6. Did you see where the foresighted GOP stripped flu pandemic preparedness from the Obama Stimulus bill?
  7. The New York Times is reporting that Wall St. pay is back to where it was before the crisis. They are reporting that Goldman Sachs seems to be leading the way with the average pay per worker at $569,000 per year. J.P. Morgan Chase is a bunch of cheap skates with the average pay per worker being reported as $509,524 annually.
  8. Tell that to United Auto Workers! Take that public employees! The average pay per worker on Wall St. is higher than the President of the United States. The average pay!!
  9. They (the Wall St. workers) all seem to feel that they are entitled to this compensation. Where does this leave investors; you know, the schmucks with 401Ks? How is there any money left for the stock holders?
  10. Larry Summers needs to wake up, if you know what I mean?
  11. In a recent conversation, a Republican executive explained to me that the Wall St. workers were worth every penny. He told me they would not be getting paid what they do unless they brought in the money to the company. OK!! I brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to the state (some years millions) and many years those dollars were competitive in nature. I could never dream of a salary like that; heck, I never got a bonus, but I could dream of a steady and well deserved retirement check. You've heard of public employee pension systems, the future that public employees work their entire career for; that's the same pension system that Republican executives want to destroy.
  12. Notice to Republican executive: Wall St. firms were losing billions of dollars!! Get a clue!!
  13. Did you see where Ed Rollins, Ronald Reagan's campaign manager gave Obama an A for keeping the country safe?
  14. Watching the NFL Draft is like watching grass grow. Why the hell did I waste my time?
  15. Did you see where David Duke (of KKK fame) was arrested and sent to jail in the Czech Republic for giving eastern Europe his thoughts? That must have been some surprise; I can hear him now, "you mean I can't spew forth hatred against the Jews and claim the Holocaust never occurred in your country?" "Please let me go home so I can spew forth my hatred in the socialist country where I live that is controlled by blacks."
  16. Message to the Czech Republic: Why the hell did you let him out? You should have kept him in one of the CIA prisons.
  17. In line yesterday at the super market, an elderly man in front of me bought a newspaper that had a front page story on the sentencing of a women for embezzlement. The old man began spouting off at the cashier that it won't be long before we have that Obama behind bars. The cashier said nothing and as I approached, asked me how my day was? My response: "great until you have to listen to idiocy like that". I like to make people smile!


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Challenge to Readers III - Commitment to Service

It seems like we had some fun with the last challenge, so I've decided to post another one. Below you will find an equal list of famous people from both major political parties and a third list of famous political pundits. The question is this; What is the total amount of time the people listed in each group (in aggregate) served in the military? I'm looking for 3 numbers, an estimate of joint military service for each group.

The Challenge has ended: To view additional information, read the comments.

Democrats - 46 years of Service - 12 major service medals

  1. Barack Obama
  2. Tom Daschle
  3. Bill Clinton
  4. Al Gore
  5. John Kerry
  6. Charles Rangel
  7. Ted Kennedy
  8. Walter Mondale
  9. Tom Harkin
  10. George McGovern
  11. Max Cleland
  12. Jimmy Carter

Republicans - 0 years of military service

  1. Mitch McConnell
  2. Tom Delay
  3. Karl Rove
  4. Paul Wolfowitz
  5. Richard Perle
  6. Phil Gramm
  7. Dick Cheney
  8. Jeb Bush
  9. Newt Gingrich
  10. Dennis Hastert
  11. Trent Lott
  12. John Ashcroft

Political Pundits - 0 years of military service

  1. Sean Hannity
  2. Rush Limbaugh
  3. Bill O'Reilly
  4. George Will
  5. Michael Savage
  6. Bill Bennett
  7. Pat Buchanan
  8. John Wayne
  9. Bill Kristol
  10. Kenneth Starr
  11. Antonin Scalia
  12. Clarence Thomas
When somebody responds and gets within +/- (4) years for all three groups, I'll then give you some more numbers regarding the 3 groups in a follow up comment. I'll provide hints along the way.


Friday, April 24, 2009

Who Should Republicans Listen to?

Just a few comments today on the Confusion (Republican) Party. Having been blown out of the water in the last 2 elections, what this nation does not need is to hear Dick Cheney mouth off. Personally, I think that Dick Cheney is not sound mentally. The more he spews, the stronger the Democrats get. While I am a Democrat, I still have a strong belief in the 2 party system. I want to see successful, competent Republicans; there are just so few of them.

The fight for the heart of the Republican Party is best viewed by contrasting the positions of 2 close family members to key Republican faces. Meghan McCain, daughter of John McCain and Liz Cheney, daughter of Dick Cheney have both been at work trying to capture and secure a direction for their party. If Republicans want a political future, they had better be listening to Meghan McCain.

Meghan has been out there, established her own blog and has been calling for Dick Cheney to just shut up. She has been very critical of the Republicans from the past administration like Cheney and Karl Rove, that dragged the party into the mud of history. The neo-conservative movement continues however, to appease the behavior of the Bush administration. Talking heads on the Fox Noise Channel continue to defend torture and the bankruptcy of American values foisted upon us through the leadership of George W. Bush. If Republicans want to become a political force again, they need to listen to Meghan McCain slamming Dick Cheney.

Now if the Republicans want to be the party of "nothing", then they need to keep listening to Dick Cheney and his wayward child, Liz Cheney. This women is hell bent on defending her morally bankrupt father; the man that is close to holding the world record for draft deferments (5). Cheney's approval rating when he left office was 13%. Why the hell would any sane person be defending him at this time? He did not keep us safe; remember 911, and his policies have caused the exponential growth in terrorist movements throughout the world. Makes one wonder; is Cheney a terrorist?

Ed Shultz, on MSNBC, did a great segment on Dick Cheney yesterday. It seems clear to anyone watching that Dick Cheney actually wants this country to be hit again. Why do you think he is still out there fear-mongering? He wants the country to be hit so he can say, "I told you so." How scary is that? A former Vice President of this great country that took away some of our freedoms, that dismantled our long-held American values, that approved and promoted torture, that refuses to testify under oath, that shot a lawyer in the face and that wants this country to be hit again by terrorists; still can't keep his mouth shut.

Mr. Cheney; I think Eric Holder needs to read you your rights; "everything that you say can and will be used against you in a court of law". I suppose everyone in this country is innocent until proven guilty and that includes you; Mr. Vice President. Without question, an investigation needs to go forward and criminal decisions from your administration should be prosecuted. Dick Cheney and Liz Cheney; you both need to take a clue from George W. Bush, shut up for the good of the nation and your Republican Party.

Maybe that's what your doing - preparing an insanity defense?


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Mouth Pieces, Blue Jeans, Arrogance and George Will

If you haven't heard by now, Mr. Mouthpiece himself, George Will, wrote a column for the Chicago Tribune last Friday, April 17, entitled; "You look absolutely ridiculous in jeans." Mr. Arrogance; we could never take you too seriously on any issue, but now you have gone too far. While the article largely paraphrases author, Daniel Akst, Will makes it clear he supports every word.

How about this line from Will's article; "Jeans come prewashed and acid-treated to make them look like what they are not - authentic work clothes for sons of toil and soil." Will, later confesses that he does own a single pair of jeans that he wore once. He needed a pair to attend a birthday party for the former U.S. Senator, John Danforth's 70th birthday (jeans were required dress). Let's put these two statements together and you can understand that the privileged Mr. Will, never did a day's work in his entire life. I can see him trimming his hedges now in a zoot suit. Oh; but that's right Mr. Will, that's manual labor and that's for other folks to do.

George Will; you pompous stuffed shirt!! You have just insulted every working American and you're too stupid to understand that conservative, working class people just lost a lot of respect for you. As for me; a left of center liberal, I lost respect for you a long time ago. You have just strengthened my case in the debating circle of my friends.

Will, further insults with the following; "Denim is the carefully calculated costume of people eager to communicate indifference to appearances." Let me tell you something, Mr. Will; I live in denim and I'll be buried in denim. Yes, I wore a suit when I had to testify before the legislature, or meet Congressional representatives or give talks to various interest groups. Most of my days as a forester were spent in blue jeans as I needed to connect to the people I was serving.

You have never experienced the smell of a logger coming through your door wearing denim; have you Mr. Will? It's really a manly smell of chain saw and sawdust; something that you will never know anything about. You can always tell what the logger was harvesting, pine or oak, as the smell is easy to differentiate if you've worked in the woods. You can't get respect from the men and women of "toil and soil" if you dress like "Fred Astaire" all of the time. You will never have the experience of enjoying the odors emanating from yourself and your work crew, both men and women, returning from a forest fire smelling of ash, smoke and sweat! You will never enjoy the same sense of accomplishment or struggle with the aches and pains at the end of the day.

What does one of my favorite authors have to say about all of this? Here's a little Henry David Thoreau thrown right back at you; "Kings and queens who wear a suit but once, though made by some tailor or dressmaker to their majesties, cannot know the comfort of wearing a suit that fits. They are no better than wooden horses to hang the clean clothes on." Thoreau continues; "No man ever stood the lower in my estimation for having a patch in his clothes; yet I am sure that there is greater anxiety, commonly, to have fashionable, or at least clean and unpatched clothes, than to have a sound conscience." Wear your zoot suits all you want, Mr. Will; I prefer to carry with me a "sound conscience".

You wonder why as life goes on, certain literature sticks with you? I have been stuck on Thoreau since my days of fishing on Walden Pond. One day while in the middle of the pond with a friend, a thunder storm seemed to come out of nowhere and the wind became so fierce, it drove us to shore. A lightning strike split a tree before our eyes and we escaped without injury. Thoreau was with me then and he's with me now. I'm sure I was dressed in jeans on that day. Reading Will's column brought me right back to Walden Pond and the wisdom of true men and women. By the way George, I like women in jeans! I'll leave you with this to chew on, Mr. Will!

"We don garment after garment, as if we grew like exogenous plants by addition without. Our outside and often thin and fanciful clothes are our epidermis or false skin, which partakes not of our life, and may be stripped off here and there without fatal injury; our thicker garments, constantly worn, are our cellular integument, or cortex; but our shirts are our liber or true bark, which cannot be removed without girdling and so destroying the man." (Henry David Thoreau, Walden)


Monday, April 20, 2009

Challange to Readers II - Impact of Cars in the U.S.

Today's post is just a simple challenge. If you saw Yesterday's, Random Reasoning's X, I talked about automobiles in the United States and the world. It is estimated today that there are 300 million cars in the U.S. and 600 million world wide. It is expected that this number will double in 30 years.

Cars are taking up a lot of room in this country and the resulting pollution with today's technology is causing environmental concern planet- wide. Global warming is becoming more problematic because of our love of the automobile. This does not mean that 30 years from now we can't have clean burning, energy efficient cars that will help to sustain our environment.

Here's the question: If we parked every car in the United States in one big parking lot, with each parking space 10 feet by 20 feet (200 square feet), which state or portions of states would be required to house all 300 million cars?

I wouldn't mind charging Logan Airport parking rates for this fun little game. Feel free to do some math, take a guess or multiple guesses. Just a short note: don't included the inundated areas of states in the calculation. You shouldn't park a car under water.


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Random Reasoning's X

An occasional column of random thoughts and Observations

  1. This weeks poll posed the question; what will happen with Sarah Palin's career by 2012? The top response was; providing commentary on Fox news; 16, 64 % of respondents. In further results; she will be the defeated Governor of Alaska; 13, 52% of respondents - She will be in legal trouble; 8, 32% of respondents - She will be Governor of Alaska, she will be Republican nominee for President and she will be a U.S. Senator; all polled 2, 8% of respondents. (voters were allowed to vote for more than one response)
  2. Did you see where a Russian professor, Igor Panarin has predicted the fall of the United States in 2010 or 2011? I guess this professor has been selling this story for the better part of a decade. He has found one true believer in Governor Rick Perry of Texas. Love it or leave it Governor Perry (To Russia with Love).
  3. Congratulations to the 18 year old student who has sued Governor, Mark Sanford, Republican of South Carolina, for failing to accept stimulus money from the Federal Government. The case is now in the South Carolina Supreme Court and seems to have merit.
  4. There are an estimated 600 million cars in the world. If you parked every car side by side in a parking space 10 feet wide (6 feet for the car and 2 feet to open doors on both sides), how many times would your line of cars circumnavigate the planet? (answer at the bottom of the column)
  5. History lesson for tea baggers: The Boston Tea Party was about "taxation without representation". You all have more than enough representation; you lost!
  6. Did you see that the Obama administration is now cyber attacking the Taliban and al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan. With new leadership comes new ideas. Get them before they get us in a cyber attack.
  7. Can somebody tell me why I have had to put up with Red Lobster ads every night on TV when the nearest franchise is over 90 miles away? Like, I'm going to drive 90 miles to get to my favorite Red Lobster?
  8. How about Belgium? There's a country we seldom here from; but give credit where credit is due, the Belgium Parliament rebuked Pope Benedict for his ridiculous assertions that condoms will spread AIDS in Africa. I've been to Belgium and now I feel like I can brag.
  9. Some more Tea Party hilarity was witnessed this week when Representative Gresham Barrett, Republican Congressman of South Carolina was actually harassed and booed off stage at a Tea Party rally in Greenville, South Carolina. It's really funny; you can watch it here.
  10. In more Tea Party fallout, it appears that many independent voters were very turned off by the name calling and behavior of many in the crowds. Certain GOP insiders are also very concerned. Click here to see video of some of the hatred spewed forth by the good citizens of this nation.
  11. If I were Dick Cheney, I don't think I'd be planning any vacations outside of the good ole U.S. Spain has been considering an investigation of war crimes against the Bush administration because of the treatment of their detainees at Gitmo. I guess the rest of the world dislikes torturing prisoners. Remember when the U.S used to be the shining example of righteousness in the world?
  12. Did you see that the Obama administration has eliminated a contract for Homeland Security that has provided $3 million since 2003 to a design company for developing seals and logos for the agency? This is a good move. Why not let some college student do the designs for a scholarship? If times get even tighter, let some grade school students in on the action.
  13. Did you see the McCain dis of Palin on the Jay Leno show the other night? Seems like Palin is really struggling back in her home State of Alaska too. I think it just comes down to her love of attention. Seems like she'll do anything to get it. People in Alaska are left wondering, What's up with this ___________ (fill in the blank)? I want to be nice.
  14. I like the quote by Barack Obama: "We must learn from history, but we can't be trapped by it"
  15. Many conservatives are upset about the analysis by the Obama administration that the rise in right wing extremism is a threat to homeland security. To those conservatives that have lost their gyro-compass; do you remember Timothy McVay? Do you remember, Oklahoma City? Until 911, the attack on the Federal building in Oklahoma City was the deadliest terrorist attack in U.S history.
  16. Norm Coleman really cares for the citizens of Minnesota. He cares so much that he will delay his court appeal following his recent unfavorable court ruling. He lost by a larger margin than the original tally before the complaint. He has ten days to appeal and he will most likely take all 10. Norm Coleman; give it up! Al Gore did and he won by 500,000 votes.
  17. Answer to question: There are 600 million cars in the world. - 600million X 10 feet = 6 trillion feet- 6 trillion feet/5,280 feet per mile = 1,136,363 miles - 1,136,363 miles/26,000 mile circumference of the Earth = 43.7 times around the planet.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Wisdom from the Woods VII

Wisdom from the Woods is an occasional column that outlines a complex issue.

Today's picture is of a single stone cairn that originated from Native American burial rituals. Throughout New England, these heaps of stones were placed in strategic locations. It is strongly believed that the placement of these stones was to honor the dead. Oral traditions relating to the practice seem to have been lost, but there is documentation from the early settlement period that indicates that these sites were burial sites or actually sites to honor the departed. At the center of most authentic cairns is usually found a single piece of quartz. Click on the picture to expand it and you can view the quartz. This cairn is one of hundreds discovered at this particular site. To learn more about the stone cairns click here; but please, if you ever find a site do not disturb it as it should still be considered sacred.

Today I'm thinking about Cuba. Having been alive during the Bay of Pigs invasion and being frightened by the possibility of nuclear war with the Soviet Union because of their Cuban missile program, I've thought a lot about Cuba over the years. Barack Obama is seeking a new beginning with this rouge state. Cuba has a long way to go when you talk about civil rights. Is Barack Obama walking into a mine field here? Certainly John Kennedy did. I guess that you have to start somewhere; after all, our world is too small to ignore a nation or nations that could help us stabilize our economy here.

How could Cuba do that you ask? One product and one word; sugar cane and ethanol. The United States has stood idly by while a South American country, Brazil, has lead the world in sustainable energy. Brazil is home to the world's first sustainable bio-fuels economy. Their innovation with flex fuel cars and dedication to become the worlds leader in the production of Ethanol renders them free of Arab oil. Can you imagine a day when the United States could tell the Arab nations, we don't want your oil; we don't need your oil? That day would be comparable to Neil Armstrong setting foot on the Moon.

Cuba could become the most important trading partner with the U.S. if we could find a way to thaw the relationship. I think that this is what Obama is thinking about. You see, we have very little land that supports the growing of sugar cane. Brazil, Cuba and India are among the world leaders in the production of sugar cane. These countries have the climate and suitable ecosystems for sustaining long term production. The United States fumbles around with the production of ethanol from corn, but using corn is highly inefficient. Sugar cane is estimated to be 10 times more efficient for producing ethanol than corn.

While Obama's step towards thawing relations with Cuba is a small step, it does sound like the Cuban regime wants to come to the table and open discussion. I think we need to strike at the opportunity; but be careful, there could be some treacherous turns in the road ahead. Regardless of our immediate future with Cuba, the U.S. needs to become the leader in alternative fuels. For once; I guess you can say that we have to follow the leader, Brazil.


Friday, April 17, 2009

Sarah Palin did Consider an Abortion!

I have wondered about the honesty of Sarah Palin since her first days on the campaign trail with John McCain. There were some stories coming out of Alaska that did not seem to add up. We learned last night that Sarah Palin has admitted to a "Right to Life" crowd in Indiana , that she considered for a short time having an abortion. Now none of this is really my business, but when claims were made on the campaign trail about never considering an abortion, I was skeptical.

My friends will tell you that in private conversations, I questioned why somebody would undergo an amniocentesis if they would never consider abortion. From my point of view, why put the baby at risk, even if that risk is minor. I know that on occasion some women learn of problems and follow through with the pregnancy after having the procedure. Some women just want to know so they can prepare for the future. Palin bragged throughout the campaign of learning about her son after the procedure and never questioned bringing the baby to term. On the campaign trail, we heard her time and time again tell us that she would never consider abortion.

Did Palin just slip up last night and forget what she had been saying over the past 9 months? Was this a change of heart and a wish to come clean? Your guess is as good as mine; but when thinking back on her time in the spotlight, I'm not so sure that she can keep her story straight. This is not the first time we've heard her change her tune. My guess is that this won't be the last time she can't keep her story straight. From my perspective, people that stretch the truth as a part of their personality frequently get caught up in inconsistencies. I think this is what happened here.

When reading about amniocentesis, you learn that the risks are slight; however, the risks are many. Bleeding, miscarriage, amniotic fluid leakage, uterine infection, respiratory problems, higher likelihood of the need for neo-natal ICU, hemorrhage, fetal damage and a few other bizarre problems thrown in are all potential problems (very slight problems). Why risk it if there is no way that you would consider abortion. Don't pay attention to me, I'm no doctor here. I just thought it odd. Today we know that Sarah Palin was giving some consideration to the choice of abortion; now things make a little more sense.

Let's hope that honesty is the way forward with all of our politicians; and, we'll know that they're honest if they keep their stories straight. People that like to stretch the truth usually trip themselves up. There's a funny thing about people that tell lies though; they just can't seem to stop.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

I Enjoyed my Tea Yesterday

OK; While I enjoyed a cup of tea yesterday, I didn't enjoy listening to Republican radio. I try to listen as little as possible, but sometimes you just get that urge to listen to people squawk. While traveling a few miles down the road to bring home some Chinese food, I had an unfortunate encounter with a scum-bag.

On Route 3 in Coventry, a driver started beeping his horn as he moved to pass me. His windows were down and he had WPRO Republican radio blasting. As he pulled along side, he started yelling at me through the window, informing me that Obama is a communist. You see, I do have a single Obama sticker on my car. I listened to his rant as we approached the red light and then had to decide how to respond. I'm always in for a good political fight, so I gave it right back to him as we waited for the green light. You must know; I did ask myself, does this nut have a gun? I didn't care; for once in my life I'm in the political majority and he needed to know that. We exchanged fingers and parted ways as he turned left off of Route 3.

Funny thing about the middle finger; does anyone know where and when the middle finger was born as a statement of feelings towards your fellow man? The Dan York show on WPRO was covering the Tea Party in Providence and was allowing the hatred filled comments to spew forth over the air waves. My new friend had been incited by the classy discussion on the radio and decided he was going to do something about it. That something was to verbally assault a person he did not know because I had expressed my belief in a political candidate on the bumper of my car.

Now I believe in the right of all of those folks to protest in Providence. Heck, in my younger days I attended many protests a lot larger than that. If you've done it, you're in no position to complain about it. What I have never done is step on somebody Else's right to display their belief, or express their belief in a civilized way. I enjoy political discourse with reasoned people that think differently than I do. I like people that think differently than I do. The verbal assault that occurred was the action of a scum-bag. I could give out the guys license plate now but I guess I'll just hold onto it.

So what was accomplished in the protests of yesterday? I guess it empowered one right wing extremist to show why he is an uneducated moron. My scum-bag friend does not have a constitutinonal right to verbally assault anyone. As for the good folks in Providence that were enjoying their constitutional rights, I'm not sure they all agreed on the message of the day. On today's radio broadcast, Dan York couldn't figure out what it was all about yesterday; and he knows everything.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tea Party Tax Nuts Have it all Wrong

Today is the day of the Republican Tea Parties to be held throughout the land. I know; some of you may be saying it's not the Republicans, but it is. In city after city, dozens of people will show up to scream at the Obama administration because of their taxes; taxes by the way, that were just lowered for 95% of the population. OK, you're mad as hell and you're going to do something about it; right?

Today on Republican radio and on the news tonight, we will hear citizens saying that government is at fault and is always in the way of business. Truth be known; we are actually in the mess we are in because government was not in the way of business, and I mean big business (I'm not talking about small business here). We will hear talking heads try to educate us about the importance of growing the economy, lowering business taxes and personal taxes, so freedom and liberty is saved. What most people still don't understand is that whenever the economy grows and businesses grow, so do your taxes.

If you are thinking that Donald Carcieri in Rhode Island has it right by eliminating corporate taxation, and if you think that this will improve your personal economic situation, you are sorely mistaken. I think most people attending the tea parties live by this creed as if it were a religion. They are wrong.

Around the year 2000, the Southern New England Forest Consortium, Inc. (SNEFCI), commissioned a study to address common misconceptions regarding commercial and industrial development and the impact it has on community taxation. The study took all Rhode Island communities, ranked them according to fair market value of commercial and industrial taxable property and divided the state into 4 equal-sized groups. The effective tax rates were then calculated for these groups and compared to commercial and industrial tax base.

As you can see in the graph from the report (Figure 5.), the communities with the smallest commercial and industrial tax base had the smallest effective tax rate of $15.62. As the commercial and industrial tax base grew, so does the effective tax rate. We all want to see business flourish and we need jobs for our children. I'm not arguing this point. I just want people to stop fooling themselves. As communities grow and business grows, so do your taxes. People need to stop making claims that turning this economy around and growing business will lower our taxes. It never has and it never will.

From the same report, SNEFCI compared open land in the aggregated communities and compared that percentage with the effective tax rate. As you can see from the graph in the report (Figure 8.), communities with very little open land had the highest tax rate of $26.02, compared to the communities with the most open space, that enjoyed an effective tax rate of $18.11. Think about it logically, the highest taxes in this country are found in New York City, the most populated business capital in the world. I don't know where the community is that enjoys the smallest property taxes in this country, but I'm sure it's a rural community that has been able to avoid the infrastructure costs associated with commercial and industrial development. We need business, we need jobs, we want our kids to have a secure future, but stop dreaming of a world with no taxes. As the economy grows, your taxes will grow.

SNEFCI commissioned another well known study, The Cost of Community Services study that won regional awards as well as a national award. The Executive summary explains the details. If you want to track back to my March 10, 2009 post, please do so. In this post I describe in detail exactly why costs in communities increase with commercial and industrial development. Enjoy the tea parties, but understand that you have diminished the history of the country. The Boston Tea Party was all about, "taxation without representation". You all have plenty of representation; that we don't need more of. (You can click on the graphs to expand them)


Monday, April 13, 2009

The North Woods Issue at URI in the News

In Today's Providence Journal, there is a front page story about the controversy surrounding the construction of a new Research Park within the North Woods. The article entitled; "Their fight to save a forest at URI", by Peter Lord, discusses the issues concerning both sides of the decision to site new research facilities. The Providence Journal has also posted a video on their web page. (you may have to sign up to view the video)

As a forester who has studied the area in question, I'll give you my impression of the controversy and explain why I think the research facilities need to be located a few hundred yards away.

Last year, my Forest Management class studied the North Woods for the entire semester. We learned that the forest adjacent to the road (an area of approximately 20 acres) was the oldest forest stand in the 100 acres that we studied. This stand; as luck would have it, serves as the footprint for the proposed research park. The proposed facilities will require the construction of many buildings and new parking facilities.

The forest is approaching 100 years of age (95-100 years) and this was determined by taking a number of increment cores from trees on the site. There are trees that are actually older than the main stand. These trees most likely served as shade trees for cattle during the agricultural past, or they were border trees. A study of the oldest aerial photography from 1939, showed that this stand was an estimated 30 years old at that time. In 1939, this young pole timber stand was resilient enough to withstand the 1938 hurricane. The stand comprised largely of Red and Black Oak is located on very productive soils for growing trees. There is virtually no sign of coppice regeneration (coppice means emanating from stumps or roots). This is an important factor in determining past logging history. Most stands in Rhode Island have a significant amount of coppice regeneration. As logging occurred, the next forest would start from the stumps of the trees that were cut. In the North Woods, it is apparent that trees got their start from seed (acorns in this case). A forest like this is very hard to find in Southern Rhode Island.
I want to note that there are many other areas in the North Woods where logging has been quite significant. These areas are not currently being considered for the research facilities.

The class studied the timber in this stand and determined that there is an estimated 170,000 board feet of timber on this 20 acres and almost 130,000 board feet was Red and Black Oak. What does this mean? I've had a lot of people ask me the question; how much is the timber worth? If the economy was going strong and the mills were looking for some high quality oak, the timber could command a very high price for the region ($400 - 600 per 1000 board feet). This could place the value of the oak timber at $75,000. As you all know, the economy is in the tank and consequently, wood is not moving. Timber sales are a lot like stock sales; you want to sell when the market is up, not when the market is down. Today's prices would only bring in an estimated $25,000. URI is not going to get rich by cutting the trees in either case; this is the point I want to make.

The more important use for this stand is its value as a living laboratory, its proximity to the students and its aesthetic values for this beautiful campus. It seems to me that the research park could be placed a short distance to the west. Perhaps a short walking trail could be developed through the North Woods to connect directly the buildings that would link to the facility.

I'm no expert on research parks; but I do understand the forests of the northeast, and I can tell you that the North Woods is a special place. The URI administration has an idea to grow the University and elevate its stature around the country and the world. The idea is a good idea and should be pursued aggressively. Compromise on the footprint is an essential consideration in this debate.

I do have one question for the administration though. It seems to me that a successful research park will require a place for visiting scientists to live when they travel here. I have not seen a recommendation for siting an on-campus hotel as part of the plan. It just seems to be an important question.

I want to personally thank the students who have shown me they really care. In the left hand column is a slide show on the North Woods. You can click on it to expand it.


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Random Reasoning's IX

An occasional column of random thoughts and observations

  1. I hope everyone had a great Easter this year and did you see that Barack Obama and family held the first Seder ever celebrated in the White House (to see the official picture click here)?
  2. In this week's poll, it appears that Michelle Obama is a true asset to Barack Obama and the Nation. This week's question: Is Michelle Obama and asset for President Obama? She's great; 84%, She's OK; 16%, She sends the wrong message; 0%; She's all flash and no substance; 0%, She needs to stay in the White House; 0%.
  3. This week's posts also saw the very first, "Governing Against the Tide" challenge. To see all of the comments, track to the April 6 post. Apparently, the challenge concludes that the Palin's did break Alaska law regarding the truancy of their children, but there are no consequences. Nobody provided information on the individual community requirements, so this keeps us hanging. I guess they are off the hook.
  4. Watching the Minnesota Senate race between Al Frankin and Norm Coleman is sort of like watching grass grow. The worst part is that we started watching in November when the grass stopped growing and we're still waiting for that first sign of growth six months later.
  5. OK, this may be old news by the time you read it, but I'm guessing that the Obama children will get their puppy on Easter morning.
  6. Republicans continue to hammer away at Obama, claiming that he was on an apology tour when he was overseas. Like; DA -- Ya. Somebody had to do it!!
  7. I hate to do this on an Easter Sunday post, but Pope Benedict needs to see this message about condoms (you need to click here).
  8. South Carolina's Governor, Mark Sanford has launched a new national TV campaign to blast the deficit spending of Barack Obama. I think they have to change the definition of hypocrite in Webster's Dictionary to include Mark Sanford as part of the definition, the biggest hypocrite since Karl Rove. Governor Sanford seems to believe that he should be able to spend Stimulus money to pay down his own state's deficit. What a tool; what nerve; what an idiot!!
  9. Did you know that McLane Stevenson who played Cornell Henry Blake in "Mash" was the nephew of Adlai Stevenson?
  10. Did you see where Senator Inhofe, Republican from Oklahoma blasted the Obama administration for gutting the defense budget? It's true, Obama has slashed the Bush $513 billion defense budget to $534 billion in his proposal. Huh???? Have all Republicans flipped their lids?
  11. In my home town of Coventry, RI, the Teachers Alliance just handed out $74,000 in scholarships to seniors going to college and $41,000 came directly from the teachers (active and retired) and school district employees. Damn unions! They always seem to be getting in the way!
  12. The turmoil over Barack Obama's appearance at Notre Dame University is a pathetic example of pure stupidity. If you are as upset about this as I am, you need to watch the Lawrence O'Donnell "smack down" of Patrick Buchanan (click here).
  13. In this week's Newsweek poll, Barack Obama had a 66% approval rating.
  14. I guess that the puppy won't show up until Tuesday as reported.


Wisdom From the Woods VI

Wisdom from the Woods is an occasional column that outlines complex issues.

Today's picture is a look at Mount Washington in New Hampshire from the Great Gulf Wilderness. The Great Gulf trail is one of the most rugged trails on the east coast. Many lives have been lost along this trail as the weather on Mount Washington can change in a matter of minutes. I've enjoyed climbing this ridge many times, but there were an equal number of times that I was denied the summit because of deteriorating conditions.

This picture and the harshness of the environment which it represents serves as metaphor for our dilemma in Iraq. I remember one time making the ascent towards the summit and my friends and I were enjoying 60 degree weather and blue skies. Half way up the ridge, the weather turned; clouds moved in and the temperature dropped over 30 degrees. The wind accelerated to over 30 miles an hour and a light mist started falling. A sheet of ice developed on every surface. We felt trapped because we all risked serious injury trying to climb down the rocks. We all made it down to the tree line safely and back to our camp. To this day I feel that there was a lot of luck involved.

Seems like every day in Iraq situations can "turn on a dime" like the weather in the Great Gulf. The people of Iraq have been fighting each other and their neighbors for over 1000 years. Nothing the United States can do will change that. There will be peace one day and turmoil the next.

When conservatives scoff at Barack Obama because he has stated his intentions do deal with our enemies in the region, I get perplexed. Obama is only following an outline that was first proposed by the Iraq Study Group that was assembled during the Bush administration. The Iraq Study group, comprised of 5 Republicans and 5 Democrats (lead by Republican James A. Baker III and Democrat, Lee H. Hamilton) made the following recommendation:

"Recommendation 9: Under the aegis of the New Diplomatic Offensive and the Support Group, the United States should engage directly with Iran and Syria in order to try to obtain their commitment to constructive policies toward Iraq and other regional issues. In engaging Syria and Iran, the United States should consider incentives, as well as disincentives, in seeking constructive results."

The Bush administration gave no credence to the Iraq Study Group and largely ignored the report. I believe that Obama is taking cautioned steps forward in this regard; but just like the Great Gulf Wilderness, trouble most likely lies ahead and can appear seemingly out of nowhere. If the litmus test for success in Iraq is the end of all violence, we will be there for the next 1000 years. Why don't we just say "we won the war"? It's over!


Friday, April 10, 2009

Republican Tea Parties are Funny!

If you want to get a good laugh, take a look at some footage of the Republican tea parties being held across the country. These people really think they have a ground swell in public opinion. First of all, the very premise is laughable because Barack Obama has lowered the taxes for 95% of the citizens in this nation. Second; the crowds being drummed up appear to approach many dozen people in city after city. Finally, the rhetoric being spewed is full of lies and/or stupidity. At least during the Vietnam war protests, much of the rhetoric was true.

Not since Sarah Palin's display of her ability to write comedy, have I laughed so hard on matters of politics. If you want to see some of the fun just (click here). Now I ask you; do you want these people making the decisions for our country in the years ahead? I've got to believe that most true conservatives have to be embarrassed by these pathetic shows. Contrast these videos with some pictures of the Vietnam War protests by just (clicking here).

My generation found it very difficult to change the politics in this Nation by standing up for what we believed in. At least we had millions of people protesting. Somehow, I don't think that dozens of folks will make much of a difference. Heck, these protesters won't even allow Michael Steele, RNC Chairman to speak at their "thunderous" events.

Watch some of the tea party videos and get a laugh. It's a lot like watching Jay Leno's, "Jaywalking" segment.

I hope some of my friends are enjoying Passover, and I wish Christian friends a great Easter.


Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Catholic Church Needs to Stop Throwing Stones

,That's right! The Catholic Church needs to stop throwing stones because they have lived in a glass house for centuries. I'm very angry at the self-righteous, pompous and arrogant members of the clergy that have expressed outrage at the University of Notre Dame inviting Barack Obama to be the keynote speaker at this year's commencement. Thank God there are still clergy left that walk the road of Christ. I was taught that Christ was open to all of humanity; including sinners, the Church evidently is not.

This attitude is not unique to this time; there have been many Popes in history that have been immoral and a disgrace to humanity (click here to learn about a few). We all know that there have been a lot of priests of late that have been immoral and a disgrace to their robes. In the United States alone, it has been well documented that 4% of the priesthood took advantage of young people during the last 4 decades (click here to see an independent church survey). While not in the same category, church attitudes towards listening to the President of the United States is another ugly chapter in a long line of ugliness.

Today a group of Holy Cross priests expressed their outrage at the University of Notre Dame for inviting President Obama. Nothing is said about a past invitation to George W. Bush who turned a deaf ear to the Pope on issues of clemency for Texas inmates that were sentenced to death.

The reality behind the Church's stance is a product of outright ignorance and puritanical attitudes towards sex. The millennial held belief that Mary, the mother of Jesus was forever virgin is a fantasy drilled into the minds of followers. All you really have to do is read the Bible and you learn that Jesus had 4 brothers and 2 sisters. It's right there in Mark and Mathew. The brothers of Jesus were; James, Joses, Simon and Judas (Mathew 13:55). The Church has spent the last 2,000 years trying to warp reality.

My broader point is this; we know how children happen. Conception is an act of man, not an act of God. If you want to believe that Mary had a virgin birth, that's fine; but we have figured out how other babies are conceived, and it's an act of man (this was God's plan). If you believe that God gave everyone "free will" ; do you think that God wants a person to rape a child? Do you think that a resulting pregnancy is God's will? This is where reasoned people have to draw the line. The Catholic Church is dead wrong here. Do you think the 9 year old girl in Brazil that became pregnant with twins because she was repeatedly raped by her stepfather should carry the pregnancy forward? The Catholic Church did! The local Bishop excommunicated the mother and doctors because a court ordered abortion was performed on this 80 pound child. Maybe the mother was complicit in the rape and should have been excommunicated. Guess what; the stepfather was not excommunicated. This poor innocent child should never have to carry those babies to term and God did not want this pregnancy. If you think so, that's downright sick! God did not want this scumbag to father 2 children with his 9 year old stepdaughter.

Barack Obama has said on more than one occasion; "nobody believes in abortion". I agree; I do not believe in abortion. The trouble is; "shit happens". If my 12 year old daughter were raped and became pregnant, I believe that there would be an abortion. I wouldn't be happy about it, but it definitely can't be against the law.

In the final analysis, the Church needs to look inward while reaching out. Isolating those that disagree with a church teaching is simply not Christian. The Church has every right to form it's own belief system, but making everyone follow Catholic dogma conjures up the history of the Inquisition. Thank you; University of Notre Dame. Sorry Mom.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Why the Decision on Iraq was Wrong!

Lincoln Chafee stood tall when it came to a vote in Congress on the U.S. involvement in Iraq. He was a Republican Senator, and he had severe reservations about the intelligence presented by the Bush administration. Why did Lincoln Chafee doubt the administration and why did he take the principled stand to oppose the war in Iraq?

I can't speak for Lincoln Chafee, but I think that the same things that were going through my head went through Linc's head. Let's take a look at some key points.

I was 12 years old during the Cuban Missile Crisis; I think that Linc was near to my age. We all feared the possibility of nuclear war with the Soviet Union. This was a gut wrenching time in American history. We stayed glued to our TV sets and watched transfixed as Adlai Stevenson presented the United States case before the United Nations. Stevenson presented irrefutable evidence of Soviet missiles being placed in Cuba, a country just 90 miles from the United States (the video does not show the entire United Nations episode). The evidence was compelling. There were pictures of missiles, silos under construction, and Soviet ships delivering the cargo at Cuban ports. Nobody could deny the reality of the situation.

Some 40 years later; Colin Powell makes a similar presentation to the United Nations regarding weapons of mass destruction in a far away place, Iraq. The presentation was weak and was based on intercepted conversations that the intelligent listener had to question. There was no visible evidence accept a picture of a truck that later proved to be an agricultural vehicle.

I sat and watched the Powell presentation before the United Nations and asked myself; How the hell could 40 year old technology used in 1962 be superior to the technology available today? We can actually read license plates on automobiles from space based satellites; and, all we get is an agricultural truck? In 1962, we had pictures of airfields, excavations, ships, missiles and ground personal working to employee missiles; and 40 years later with much improved technology , we get a milk truck?

Eventually, we find out that Colin Powell was mislead on the claim of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Powell goes on to say that we should never have invaded Iraq. Powell resigns from the Bush administration and eventually endorses, Barack Obama as the next President.

I think that a reasoned person that had the opportunity to live the United Nation's moments surrounding the Cuban Missile crisis should not have been fooled by the presentation by our government on Iraq. Powell's presentation before the world was pathetic in hindsight. Powell himself agrees. Those that are too young to have first hand knowledge of the Cuban Missile crisis should view the linked videos. Those of you that watched Adlai Stevenson in 1962 and then watched Colin Powell 40 years later; and did not question the believability of the Iraq threat, should be ashamed of yourselves.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Lincoln Chafee for Governor of Rhode Island

I want to be among the first to endorse former Senator Lincoln Chafee for governor in 2010. I know; this is awfully early and Chafee has not formally announced his intentions. Today, Chafee did say that he will spend the next months laying the groundwork for a potential Independent campaign for governor. I want to give a few reasons why I think he can be successful.

First and foremost; Lincoln Chafee has always followed his own heart and mind. Nobody controls Lincoln Chafee. To me he has been a true "profile in courage". I must admit though, I did not always vote for him. Lincoln always had my vote until his last senatorial election, when through no fault of his own, circumstances got in the way. I owe Lincoln Chafee; big time! The election of 2006 was the hardest decision I ever had to make in a voting booth. At stake was control of the U.S. Senate following the many years of Republican leadership that tarnished the Nation. I felt ill voting against Linc. This is something I'll always remember; control of the Senate rested upon the shoulders of Rhode Island voters. I made a promise that day to myself; if given a chance to make it right, I would offer my support.

Lincoln Chafee always seemed to take reasoned pathways through politics. He never stuck to ideology when reason took him in an opposite direction. He stood tall when the country was facing the blunder that would become Iraq. He not only stood tall, he stood alone at times and faced the snickering response of his fellow Republicans. Lincoln Chafee was right, the snickering hoards were wrong!

I remember Linc being interviewed on national TV following the vote on Iraq in the Senate. He was standing on the Capitol steps and he simply stated; what if we're wrong? What if there are no weapons of mass destruction? He argued that the evidence presented was thin (more on this in tomorrow's post). He argued that we would lose stature throughout the world. He was right. Thank you Lincoln Chafee for not following the crowd.

Another important point that is seldom discussed but needs to be part of the debate on our Iraq decision; the Constitution only gives the U.S. Congress the power to declare war. Legislators that voted to give away their constitutional authority to one man, President Bush, did not live by their oath of office. The Congress simply authorized Bush to make the decision. Every legislator that voted to empower Bush in this way should have been impeached for breaking their oath. I'm including John Kerry, Hillary Clinton and every other congressperson charged with protecting our freedoms. Some of these folks took away our freedom with their vote on that painful day. Linc Chafee voted to protect our freedom.

Following Linc's defeat, he wrote an incredibly powerful book that all progressives should read. The book; "Against the Tide - How a Compliant Congress Empowered a Reckless President" is one book that you just can't put down. I must admit though; my 87 year old mother was so upset when I gave it to her to read, she stopped half way through and returned it. She said she was losing sleep over it. There's no meanness in the book; there is only statement of fact and discussion of experiences that make you seriously question the leadership of the entire Bush administration.

Good luck Linc while you make your decision. You have my vote.


Monday, April 6, 2009

Challenge to Readers - I

Help find the answer to the following question:

Did Sarah and Todd Palin break the truancy laws of Alaska when they removed their children from the classroom during the Presidential campaign in the Fall of 2008?

I have long thought that laws were broken when Sarah and Todd Palin took their children out of the classroom to travel across the country during the election. It's one thing to take your kids out of school for a week to travel to Disney World or visit distant Grandparents, but taking your kids out of school for half a school year is illegal in most states.

I do know that it was tough on Piper Palin from the Matt Lauer interview. My search for the truancy laws of Alaska was extremely difficult. I'm not so sure that Alaska is close to fully connecting to today's cyber world. I did find a reference to a bill from 2006 that would restrict payment of the Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) that Alaskans receive each year as their portion of oil revenues, for any parent that allowed their child to be truant. I had trouble finding out whether this bill actually passed. If the PFD payment was eliminated for parents of truant children, did Sarah and Todd Palin collect their PFD? Was it against Alaska law for the Palin's to receive a PFD?

Bottom line here; the Palin's were very poor parents for removing their children from school for such an extended period of time. I have no problem with short periods to attend the Convention or other significant events, but their kids were out of school for a period that would be considered illegal in most states. Don't tell me that Sarah Palin was home schooling her children like I read on one conservative blog. Anyone that believes that is an idiot.

So help me out; please! If you can shed some light on this, the readers to this blog will be grateful.


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Random Reasoning's VIII

An occasional column of random thoughts and observations.

  1. I've had a number of people ask me about posting comments on the blog. I have the controls set so that anyone can post a comment by simply using the anonymous choice on the pull down menu after you click on comment. If you want to friend the site or establish your own identity for comments, then I recommend that you go to and register. The process is very simple and you can also build your own igoogle home page to follow blogs and enjoy other Internet sites. I have posted simple instructions in the left hand column.
  2. This week's poll results: How is Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner's performance? Great; 15%, Doing his best; 48%, Needs more time; 30%, He's a disaster; 7%.
  3. Did you see where Levi Johnson, Bristol Palin's boyfriend said on the Tyra Banks Show, that Sarah Palin knew that her daughter was sexually active? For a politician that preaches abstinence and maintains those conservative values, it sounds like a little more parental attention should have been applied in this case.
  4. If you still need your manicure, the economy for you is doing just fine.
  5. Message to Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago: Your negative comment regarding the invitation of the University of Notre Dame for Barack Obama to speak at commencement is an extreme embarrassment to those you purport to represent.
  6. Did you see where the Obama's have turned down government money ($100,000) allocated for renovations to the White House? The Obama's insist on paying for renovations themselves. They must be closet conservatives!
  7. Here's a test: How many countries are in the "Group of 20" (G-20), which is the economic conference that was just attended by President Obama in Great Britain? The answer is at the bottom of the column.
  8. RNC Chairman, Michael Steele recently stated that he would wait until God tells him what to do regarding a potential run for the Presidency in 2012. He better watch out, because God is also talking to Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal and Mike Huckabee. Funny how God only talks to Republicans! It's also funny that God must be awfully confused.
  9. I think that politicians that hear voices from God belong in a padded cell. They're nuts!!!
  10. Why isn't Governor Carcieri cutting ribbons these days at the Dunkin Donut's Center (The Dunk)? Seems like just yesterday he was telling us all that this would be the economic stepping stone to a secure future for the State. This is the perfect example of what government should not be doing. If the private sector can't make this work, citizens of Rhode Island shouldn't have to pay the bill.
  11. Monopoly kills capitalism; not liberals. Lean and mean should be the ticket to reset capitalism. Break apart GM into 4 separate companies and let them compete for our dollars. While your at it Mr. President, bust apart AIG and scatter it in the wind. Never let a corporation get so big that it can't fail.
  12. Let's see; $28.5 million to buy the Dunk; $53 million to rehab it; With cost overruns, $80.5 million to rehab the Dunk; $23 million every year to cover operating loses; Yes Governor Carcieri, you're one smart businessman! You are a walking financial disaster and any legislator that went along for the ride shares the guilt. Why do people wonder about Rhode Island going broke?
  13. There are nineteen (19) countries in the G-20. It's sort of like 14 teams in the Atlantic 10. The countries are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, United Kingdom and United States. To find out what the 20 is in the G-20, click here.
  14. Is there anyone out there that thinks there was actually $80.5 million spent on the Dunk to rehab it. I've been there; and I'll tell you Governor Fraud, that was no $80.5 million job. Maybe the upgrade was worth $8 million, but not a penny more.
  15. Why the hell can't God make up his mind? Ask a Republican running for President the next time you have a chance.


Saturday, April 4, 2009

Wisdom from the Woods V

Wisdom from the Woods is an occasional column that outlines a complex issue.

Everyone must notice that some people get an easy start in life; and for others, life's journey can be very difficult. The white pine on the ledge growing out of solid rock made me think about how this is true for people, trees and presidents.

I think that everyone has to agree that Barack Obama was given a position in the history of this country that is akin to the white pine growing out of a granite ledge. In nature, I find it absolutely amazing that some trees given this circumstance manage to find a way to survive and flourish. I hope that Barack Obama can find his way on the foundation that has been handed to him. In my opinion, I think that he is the right person to deal with our future over the next 8 years. You have to know that; just like the tree, few individuals are up to the task.

George W. Bush had far more fertile ground. Although there was a slight recession upon taking office, that was more a retraction in the economy from a long period of fantastic growth. The Clinton years were good for all of us, even Republicans. Republicans got rich both monetarily and then politically with the extra curricular activities of Bill Clinton. George Bush then seemed to go on vacation following his selection. The lack of vision and concern for a possible terrorist attack on the United States was a monumental failure. George Bush did not keep us safe. Bush was AWOL on 911. Can somebody explain to me how he managed to get re-elected; especially after his decision to continue to read, "My Pet Goat", to a grammar school class for 7 minutes after being told our Nation was under attack?

Following the attack, all Americans came together in support of our President. We knew that he would find a way to bring bin Laden to justice and we all knew that action in Afghanistan would be inevitable. We all put the rancor over his selection as President behind us. Then came Iraq and the absolute disaster that it was and still is. While the outgoing administration tried to create the spin that "we kept you safe", history knows that they didn't.

The Bush administration prepared the ground for Barack Obama; and, what lousy ground it is. Obama has taken root though and will flourish as the white pine on the ledge in the years ahead. I'm confident that this man is in the right place at the right time in our Nation's history. He will be able to inspire, lead and grow from this difficult ground.


Friday, April 3, 2009

Obama is no Socialist

Republicans seem to like to throw the word socialism around in an attempt to falsely define Barack Obama. During the campaign this was true and it certainly is true today. It seems like they have to try to portray him as something worse than "liberal". Sarah Palin had a real knack for whipping up hatred in the crowd to try and make this point. I'm losing patience with the right wing of the Republican party over this issue as are many democrats ( "The Democratic Daily" has a great post regarding this issue).

Take for example, the Republicans that fought against bailout money for major American corporations. These folks told us time and time again, let capitalism work and let these corporations file for bankruptcy. They speak of fears that Obama will nationalize banks and the auto industry. He has actually been avoiding this strategy with his every breath. I think that he may be wrong by trying to save these companies that are perceived to be too big to fail. By fighting to prevent bankruptcy, Obama has taken a course that is the opposite of socialism.

To the Republicans out there that disagree with the administration and feel that bankruptcy is the way to go; I have this message for you, get a f*****g clue. When a company files for bankruptcy protection, the company is taken over by the government. Decisions are made by a bankruptcy court, not the corporation. So stop trying to paint Obama as the socialist when you folks actually argue on the side of nationalizing these businesses through bankruptcy protection. That's right Republicans, many of you have been arguing for socializing businesses while Obama has been trying his best to keep these companies private.

Another case in point; Republicans have been screaming about Obama's demand that the Bush tax cut for the wealthiest Americans be returned to the level of the Clinton Administration. Does the notion of "creeping socialism" strike fear in your heart? This is the great claim of Republicans across this country. Obama is only trying to return this Nation to normalcy after a disastrous 8 years of failed economic and foreign policy. Returning the tax rate for the highest income bracket to 39.6% from its current 35% is not socialism. Republicans are wrong, disingenuous, arrogant and stupid when they draw this inference.

The taxation level for the highest income bracket during Ronald Reagan's presidency was 50%; during Nixon's presidency it was 70%; during Eisenhower's presidency it was 91%. To see a full report from the "Washington Monthly"; (click here). Did you notice that the administrations mentioned were all Republican administrations? What a bunch of socialists here!

Barack Obama is a true defender of capitalism from what I can see. His defense of corporations and desire to keep the government's hands off, may be a flaw in his strategy. I think that bankruptcy is inevitable for some corporations and any corporation that is too big needs to be dismantled. Lean and mean is the best way to protect capitalism.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

To Honor a Hero

I was all set to selfishly pontificate about some issue on my blog today when reality hit me square in the face. Today on CNN, a story close to my heart appeared out of nowhere. I got a call 15 minutes before it aired and I luckily had just arrived home in time to view it. The picture is of Marine Corps Major John Ruocco; he was my friend, and he died a hero.

I've thought of writing about this for some time, but it just didn't feel right. With the story that aired today on national television, there could be no better time. Truth be known, I've kept this image in my picture directory at the top of the page on my computer since the spring of 2005. By doing this, I can be sure to view it every time I travel to that file.

John is the younger brother of the man who served as the; "best man", at my wedding. John's brother, Joe and I did everything together as kids. My wife and I just went to dinner with Joe and his wife, Helen last week and had a great time. I don't think I've ever seen, in my experience, two brothers that were closer than John and Joe. These brothers were years apart, but connected in every way. John naming his first son; Joey, is testament to that fact.

I never had a brother and I always felt that the Ruocco's were my brothers. While Joe and Nick were near to my age, Neil and John were much younger. Even with the age difference, our families were always together. Hunting, fishing, baseball, football, basketball, water skiing and working together is how we grew up. Heck; we even got into trouble on occasions, Joe and Nick broke my wrist one time by accident while we were wrestling. I got even and beaned Joe with a rock on the back of the head, by accident. We all survived until John was taken from us following a tour in Iraq.

Each of the brothers became very successful fulfilling their own dreams. Their parents, Nick and Mary, have been an integral part of my life since I was 7 years old. They not only supported their own children in their careers, they supported me in my career. John made a decision to enter the military and defend his country. He didn't have to enter the military, the draft was behind us. I faced the draft and was 1A my last 2 years of college, but I always joked that this was the only lottery I ever won. John was never looking for a way out and gave his life to his country; and for that, I am eternally grateful.

For those that may doubt the reality of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, get an education. Veterans deserve our full attention and understanding. For families that have suffered the loss of a loved one that may be related to Post Traumatic Stress, there is a great organization called "TAPS" (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) that is there to help.

To view the CNN broadcast regarding the heroism of Major John Ruocco and his family (click here).

Thank you John. Thanks to all of the veterans that have sacrificed to make us safe.