Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Random Thoughts

I'm busy this week with other tasks and work. While I did have time to read the newspapers and listen to NPR and PRI's news shows, I don't have much time to converse here with my opinion. It would be hypocritical of me to say I hate pundits, and I do to the talking and writiing heads, but I'm a part-time one and not even a good one at that. But it won't stop me from ranting at the pundits because they're too involved in their fields to see the whole world and reality outside their world. In short, in part, they just don't get it.

Anyway, some thoughts?

To the oil companies, use what you got. I don't see how we can approve leasing the off-shore coastal water for oil exploration and drilling when they still have 68 million acres inland to explore and drill, and all the studies show there is natual gas there and many acres have oil. They need to explain that first. Known resources not being used. Why?

Why should we give them the rights to access public lands (meaning both land and water) when they really don't plan to explore or drill it for years, and even then it won't help the supply for another 3-5 years minimum and 5-7 years realistically. They simply want the leases in their pocket while they explore in other countries. They'll use the leases in 20-30 years.

So, to them, use or lose it and then we'll think about new leases. Congress is considering that and they should do that, reclaim any mineral and oil lease of some minimum size that hasn't been explored and used in the last 5 years. It's the same for individuals, if we want a lease public land we have to prove it has mineral economically worth extracting and then extract it, every year, or we lose the lease and the right to live and work on the land.

The same should apply to oil companies. Now the ball is in Congress' court and the public expect answers, not political answers but real answers for America and Americans.

The Housing Bill? It seems George reniged on his veto threat. But is it a good bill? Why do ecomonic experts say it can but won't necessarily do much because of the caveats with and in the bill? That's because the mortarges we have to buy a house isn't owned by financial institutions but owned by those who hold securities the institutions sold to make money over your mortage.

The Bill gives homeowners the right to renegotiate their loan except the mortage companies will have to treat it like a new loan since they don't own let alone have the loan anymore. They'll have to find a way to pay off the first loan in the securities package before they give you a new loan, and that means fees and more fees, fees you'll have to pay. And the experts say that could and likely will be one factor why it may not do much for homeowners.

But the Bill bails out the financial corporations, again. It's a corporate sponsor bill with dollars for them and nickels for you. And yes, you nickel is more important and critical, if you can get a new government insured loan, but the experts aren't holding their breath it will work.

But they've been proven wrong too.

Anything else?

The US military arrested an Iraqi journalist working for international newspapers today in Bagdad. They've arrested him before but released him citing no evidence. This time, the hooded and handcuffed him and said nothing where they're taking him or that he even was taken. Not even his family or employer know. The Iraqi citizens in their own country have no rights or protections from the US military? Only because they think he's a potential or even possible terrorist? So, if that's true, stand up in court and show us.

Is this a good example of democracy and human rights?

Senator Ted Stevens? The truth be told. Per capita (person) to represent their state, he's the king of the earmark, which being a republican seems counter to their philosophy about government - but then it all went to corporate sponsors. That and he got a new house and cars in the deal. He deserves what he gets and should resign immediately.

And he was chairman of the Senate Ethics committee? No wonder there are no ethics in the Senate, look who decides and defines ethics. And they have questionable morals too, but then they don't have a Morality committee.

And to Alaska residents? Ahh, suck it up like the rest of us.

Well that's it for now. My brain is full of other matters of the day and work. So, what's the part jesture? How about this cat. Certainly knows how to chill out.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Being Stupid

There's an article in the Seattle PI about an incident between bicyclists, part of Critical Mass, and a driver of a automobile in a parking spot during the monthly ride to protest laws governing bicycles, see news story. It's hard to decide who's at fault and I doubt we'll really know as each side has their view of it, kinda' like a 100:1 ratio against the driver.

I'm not against bicycle or bicyclists, I've ridden bikes for decades and currently own and ride an older Bridgstone mountain bike, and I give cyclist (pedal motor) plenty of room when passing, even enough if traffic allows they could fall over I won't hit them. This is because I watched my future wife once fall over and almost get run over by a car in Sacramento. Cyclists have my respect as a member of the road and traffic.

But that said, what happens when 100-300 bicyclist decide to take over the road and literally prevent any car from moving? Is it protest or terrorism? And when does a accident give anyone, especially a lot of cyclists, the right to overwhelm and damage a car, and then attack the driver, no matter what the driver did with his car or personally?

I have to say I feel for the driver, who was caught at the wrong place at the wrong time, and just wanted to drive away while avoiding the cyclists. That was impossible. But did the cyclists share the road respectfully and give the car the space to leave and drive away? Obviously not. So who's at fault, the cyclists for being stupid or the driver for pushing the situation?

While I applaud cyclists for protesting the treatment they get at the hands of drivers. I've been there done that, but I don't applaud their decisions and actions to become road terrorists in return. They don't have the right to take the law of the road into their own hands and deny law abiding drivers the right to share the road.

In the end, to me, no matter your mode of transportation, you share the road with respect and obey the law. Anything less, even for cyclists, is being stupid and deserve any tickets and penalities they earn for their stupidity.

Left handed compliment

I was reading the local papers this Sunday morning and saw the article where girls won five of the six first place awards in this year's Soapbox Derby in Akron, Ohio, see TNT story. And when presenting the awards to the winner, General Manager Jeff Iula said, "You guys are getting real strong,”

This from the Derby's GM? While this may have been an off-the-cuff comment in the moment, it's sexist and demeaning to these girls and all girls. And while "you guys" is a common phrase used by men and women alike, it's inappropriate for the time and place, and "getting" is an understatement. What doesn't he understand about winning five of six top place awards? That's not "getting", it's being there.

All he had to say was, "This is a good moment for young women and girls. Let us celebrate their achievement as racers." Was he afraid of embarrassing the boys? I doubt the girls really care about the comment, after all they have some really nice awards to show everyone, including boys, and say, "Gee, look what I won?"

Maybe next year Mr. Iula will get his sexist head out of his ass and be gender appropriate?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Why Comcast sucks

I was reading about Comcast, that cable giant, over the last week and they're the lowest rated company for customer service at the same time they plan to expand the services and products to providing games on the network to customers. One of the articles mentioned the best remedy for Comcast, which is simply, fix what you have.

The reason Comcast sucks is they've been pushing too much signal and applications through a too small network, and despite improving their network in many local areas for the recent services with Internet phone and Web and TV channels, they can't deliver it over the existing network. And I've had my fair share of these stupidity over several years now, and nothing gets resolved.

Like what?

First, I bought a HD TV over two years ago and upgraded to their HD service, along with adding some channels. At the time, they had Dolby 5.1 sound with the HD channels with many shows, and at the time the software worked to understand the digital and Dolby signals to route it to the digital audio jacks correctly. Within a year they installed the new Microsfoft developed user interface and signal processing software.

Except the software didn't know the digital sound was already digital, especially Dolby 5.1, and all the digital outputs on the cable box didn't work anymore where all you got was pure garbage. I did a test and showed it to two technicians who agreed that the audio signals with video channels under 100 were being converted correctly from analog to digital, but all channels 100 and over were being converted as analog and being garbaged because they already were digital.

At first Comcast blamed Motorola who responded to me that the problem wasn't their hardware but Comcast's software. So then Comcast blamed Microsoft but then said it wasn't a critical issue to be fixed right way. So two years later, it's still not fixed, and there are not plans to fix it. And so advertising Dolby 5.1 sound is a sham. And all the technicians said, even after seeing it at another customer's home, was that they're report to the engineering section, but didn't let me know to followup to ensure they actually did report it.

Second, I noticed several channels seem to drop out for weeks, sometimes months, and come back for a while and go blank again. And over time these channels go blank so much that now I rarely get them, which include the Sundance Channel and a few others, for more than a few hours every few weeks. Technicians say it's the bandwidth and some channels get lost.

But that includes three of the 8 local channels, both the analog and digital versions. Off the air for days on end, sometimes weeks, but even when it works, it's intermittent at best. And the service folks say it's the cable box, but they can't seem to get the idea that replacing the box hasn't (tested) and won't solve the problem when the signal isn't getting to the box.

And recently I lose a number of HD channels, consistently 3-6 including two or three of the movie channels. This happens at peak hours during the week day nights and weekends. So I'm paying a fee for movies and HD without any assurances it won't pixelate or go blank in the middle of the show.

And On-Demand? It's slow to start if it even starts, sitting there for minutes on end before kicking me out with an error message or give me a menu that may or may not work. Once it dispays it seems to work if you can wait while it fetchs the video you want. It's only on demand when they want to let you see it.

And there service? Well, I gave up. Why? Because they don't have local call numbers to check the channels in the area. Every problem has to be reported through the 1-800-number. And that's the comedy, or tragedy, of errors.

First, they always ask if you recycled the cable box, not just turning it on and off, but the power, unplugging it for 20-30 seconds. Except that wipes out the software and database, so turning it back on takes a 3-5+ minute wait while the software loads and boots. And then you'll lose the entire schedule, which can take hours to reload just today let alone the week or so the box holds.

Then when the problem still isn't fixed, they reset the cable box from their office, "Just to check.", meaning they don't trust you. When that doesn't change anything, they ask if you want a technician to come and replace the box. What? The box isn't the problem but they want to do it anyway, so you have to schedule a morning or afternoon to wait for the technician.

The technican sees the problem, replaces the box, and then see the problem wasn't fixed, often says, "Well, I'll report it to the technician to check the circuit. They'll schedule a visit to check the lines into your place." And they leave not offering any assurance anything will be fixed, but if you want a followup, you have to start with the 1-800-number and hope they didn't close the repair order.

So that's me tale of woe and anger. I don't have Comcast telephone or Internet, they're clearly a waste of money. And satellite companies aren't that much better or cheaper, so where's the competition? If the FCC opened up local areas to competition, where is it? I haven't heard good stories about the competition either, so who's the lesser of evils?

In the end, it's a screw the customer and don't care about their problems, which are really yours since the products and service suck. And how do I know this? Well, I'm trying to watch the Yankees-Red Sox game on Fox Sports, except I can only get the analog channel for an inning or so before it goes blank for awhile and the digital signal is always blank. You know the message, "This channel will appear shortly"?

So in my book, they deserve all the criticism people write and talk about. They oversell their products and services, underprovide those same products and services, and suck on their customer service. But without a good competitor, they know they have a monoply, so why try to actually deliver what they promise?

Oh, I forgot, it's not about the customer, but the customer's money.

Friday Thoughts

Ok, I took a day off and this is really Saturday morning and not Friday, but I still read the newspapers on Thursday and Friday. So I do I have more news to write about? Not really, just some interesting stuff I read and heard.

First, McCain whining about Obama's trip in Europe, saying Obama is acting too presidential and he shouldn't have met with the European country leaders and make the speech in Berlin. If he did this, as he has already done, except the speech, and he didn't see it as acting too presidential, only his opponent in the campaign, where's the complaint? Maybe Obama made the speech and met with the leaders because they also wanted to hear and meet him?

Lighten up McCain it's politics and I for one am getting tired of your campaign rhetoric of soundbites. Do you really believe the bullshit coming out of your mouth? Or do you really know it's campaign rhetoric, but you still spout it because it buys votes?

Ok, tough on McCain. I like John McCain, or rather I did. I wanted him to get the nomination in 2000 over Bush. He was clearly the better Presidential candidate and would have been better President. And if it wasn't for Karl Rove, McCain would have been the Republican candidate, and history would have been different.

So, in the last 8 years McCain has grown sour and bitter, and now he's pandering to the conservative and religious right because they don't like him. So he has to adjust his political position and risk the moderates and center-right, which leaves them the idea to consider Obama because Obama is abandoning the far left to capture the votes of the moderates and center, left and right.

The're fighting for the middle but McCain moved right where Obama moved center. So now McCain has to criticize Obama to create pause of the center where they'll still see him as their candidate. McCain is following the path of the Bush campaign, using hate, fear and lies to win.

McCain is better than that, or he was then but now I'm not so sure.

The Sirius-XM merger. Gee, I guess the SEC has a different definition of monoply. The Justice Department used Microsoft as the minimum, worse is and equal or less isn't. But the SEC raised the bar that being the only company in the market with 100% of the customers isn't a monoply. So what is in their view?

What a government. Complete control of the market isn't a monoply now.

This one isn't far away from the issue either.

A woman who was in her car on the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis when it collapsed wanted to see the inspection records of the bridge to see if "her" government was doing its job. The Minnesota department in charge of bridge inspections refused citing security. And the Department of Homeland Security agreed, citing state decisions rule.

So, our government can be inept and secure that information from the public so terrorists won't get information which could be used to hurt Americans. Like the government agency aren't terrorists in the failure to protect American and in the case of the I-35 bridge, actually injury Americans without a bomb but just not doing their job?

It's only further proof our government considers all Americans terrorists and don't trust us with the truth?

Overreaching? Consider the government gave out the information in the inspections reports to the press when pressed for answers to the bridge's failure. And the team of expert investigating the failure had access to the record along with putting some of it in their reports. But the public can't read the inspection record?

The bridge isn't there anymore so why hide the record? Or are they really hiding their ineptness the news reported?

And there is more? Yup, one of our favorite, FEMA.

FEMA asked a federal judge to give FEMA immunity from lawsuits over the trailors discovered to have elevated level of fromaldehyde. The lawyers for the former residents injured from the chemicals in the trailors are preparing to sue FEMA, so FEMA is seeking immunity.

Did they know the trailors were contaminated? Likely, if you search their records, they knew, or some had the information and never reported it. Likely some knew the company providing them had questionable production methods leaving chemicals in the trailors. The company was simply unloading trailors they couldn't sell, except to the government for hurrican Katrina survivors.

That's our government, if they fail to protect Americans, hide the information and records, call it national security and get immunity from their own stupidity and failures.

So what does the government now do with all those trailors they can't sell except for basement prices someone will pawn off to unsuspecting buyers down the road. Buy high sell low, that's our government's philosophy, and let corporation profit with taxpayers money.

Remember our government runs on our money. And if they can't do that, they propose new rules.

The EPA is proposing to loosening the rules on to water down the regulation of hazardous chemical and substances and the Labor Department is proposing to loosening the employee safety and protection rules for industries and businesses. Gee, they've had 7 1/2 years to propose these rules, get full public and Congressional review, but no they're hussling to get them in place before they leave.

They say it's taken years to reseach, draft and review the new rules and the timing while looking suspicious isn't true.

Ding! Wrong. While the research and preparation of these rules does take years, they've had these rules for a long time, years, and they're only now proposing them to compact the time of the public review so they can't get them through. It's standard practice of departing Presidents and their administration, but this time they're the toxic elements not the public they see as their enemy.

If they really believed these rules were good for America, they could have easily proposed them years ago and they didn't.

Other news?

When Iran tried to buy parts for the F-16's, given to Iran when the Shah was in power, the US government quashed the deals on the international market citing new parts are no longer available, althought the vendor had them in their supply. Now the US governement is buying those very same parts and finding parts in their inventory to supply Pakistan who has also bought a lot of F-16's from the US.

The government is offering $300 Million in parts to Pakistan. Hmmm..., when the US Air Force no longer uses the F-16, except in Air National Guard units, makes it interesting those loyalties they're trying to buy, the ANG or Pakistan.

Ok, enough of the news. The weekend is here and there's too much to do, so have a good weekend and enjoy it, fall is now on the horizon.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Wednesday Rants

Ok, too much news and too much anger. Too much for one post, so another from past thoughts and listening to NPR this morning. Ok, it's a rant so you can skip if you want.

First, whiners. When Senator Lindsay Graham called us a nation of whiners I was offended, totally offended by his arrogance and ignorance of the common people who make up this country. Here is a senator who lives above the rest of us, easily in the top 5% and likely the top 1-2% by income. He has little if any experience in the ordiinary lives of common people. He has not right to criticize us when we're just trying to get by and he can simply write a check for whatever he wants or find someone to do things for him.

If he wants to call us whiners, he should live the common life an a middle class neighborhood and an ordinary job at normal wages, paying all the bills we have, and then see if he stil thinks himself a whiner. I doubt he will. And he owes the American people and especially his constituents an apology. Not for the comment, that's too easy, but for his arrogance and ignorance.

John McCain is arguing the surge is working and we winning the war and we should stay until victory is achieved. What doesn't he understand that this may be the case now but the war was then and still is still wrong. We are the cause of the problems in the middle east as we have since the 1950's.

We created Iran's Shah. We supported Hussein's rise to power, keeping him in power and his war against Iran. We supported and still support Saudi Arabia's authoritian government. We support Israel against Egypt, Syria and Jordan. We suppored the Taliban with its war against the then Soviets and the Taliban's rise to power in Afghanistan. We support Pakistan's authoritian government with military aid. We also support several new nations from the former Soviet Union with communist dictators.

What's not to understand we are the center of the problem and we can't get out of this by pretending to wage and win this war? We've spent 5 years bankrupting this country in debt (more below) in a bad war badly mismanaged with over 4,000 dead and ten's of thousand permanent injured and disabled. And that's just our troops. Iraq's death and disabled is at least an order of magnitude higher with millions displaced within and outside Iraq.

The war was sold on lies and you can't spin it into a political victory by hiding or denying it's past. We don't belong there and now we can't leave. Thanks to you. So how much more money will be spent and lives lost or injured?

Second financial institutions. Why are we bailing out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and guarranteeing shareholder the value and profit in their stocks? I listened to the news with Senator Dodd and I don't see it. Congress will let people lose their homes but bail out a losing company? We bailed out Bear-Sterns and now these two? Who's next? Banks?

Well, we now know who's money you like, and it's not ours except to spend our tax dollars for corporations.

Third, McCain and "debt" for domestic programs. But not the war? We'll have over $1 Trillion in debt from his war. And it's all on credit to China and other countries. And you're whining about a few $ Billion for domestic spending? You're the whimp not to stand up for people instead of war and war-profiteers. You're the chump exploiting fear for money to boost your importance and political career.

This isn't a war about terrorism or about fighting terrorists. It's about nation building, something Bush said he wouldn't do, except we know he lied then as he had the Iraq war plans on his desk in 2000. He only needed the reason 9/11 gave him. The war isn't about making America safe, but about promoting a global geopolitical agenda for oil and power. And it was about money, for corporations.

So stop lying to us about the issue of debt.

Fourth, Eastern Europe. While we're claiming to install two missile defense installation in eastern Europe, on the pretense of Iranian missiles which aren't a threat to Europe let alone the US, we opening the door to Russia to deploy military systems and equipment to the western hemisphere. Now Russia announced they're considering deploying bombers capable of carrying nuclear bombs to Cuba. Shades of the Cuban missile crisis.

Gee, thanks George for making us less safe and the world worse. And you're no Kennedy to solve this diplomatically. So drop the plan for the two missile defense installations. They're not needed or wanted, and will only make matters worse.

Ok, I'm done ranting. I'll drink a little less coffee and eat some breakfast now.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tuesday Rants

Ok, it's not news, or much about the news, but I'd thought I would just voice opinion about the news, like the other posts aren't opinions? Hell, they're all my perspective, ok maybe a little opinion, about and on the news. But a few things really rankles my news bone.

First, Comcast. We all love to blast the cable and satellite TV companies. They deserve it for being monopolies. And if you think the cable and satellite companies are different, they're not. They offer over 90% of the same service for about the same price. It's all a game they play with ads to show they're cheaper, but when you really compare same channel service, they're within 5% of each other.

So it's really the issue of if you want Cable's On-Demand service versus' Satellite's premium services. And both have flaws. Satellite is a delivery service with the in-home done by local companies. So if you lose signal, you have to decide who's at fault, if it's not the weather or other interference with the satellite before you call someone. And cable has two big flaws that's been plagueing them for two-plus years now.

One is simply bandwidth. They're pushing too many channels and too much service through the cables into your cable box. I lose about a dozen channel constantly and occasionally another half dozen, all HD channels. Gee, I pay for HD channels and get fewer channels due to pixelating channels or black screens.

And if you call for technician, which you have to call the 800 number and go through a song and dance that's it's your fault, the cable box, or something else. After that fails to impress them you're right, they say, "We'll get a technician out to replace the box. Would you like a morning or afternoon?" Yes, you have to provide a 4 hour window if they even show up on time.

And then when the technician, after replacing the box and seeing the same problem, says, "Gee, I'll have to report it to maintenance to check the line or other equipment." And they leave with no promise of fixing it or reporting back. And to get them back you have to call the 800 number. Get the picture?

In short they suck royal. And the second flaw?

The user interface. It was designed by, you guessed it, Microsoft, so you can understand why it sucks. Do you know the Dolby 5.1 audio signal they send with the video signal doesn't work out of the cable box? It did with the old software and same hardware, and some people have shown their technicians and engineers where the problem, in the software, but after blaming Motorola who showed it was their software, they say it's not a "critical" item and they'll have to negotiate with MS to fix it.

Yeah right. While Comcast keeps adding services, recently Internet and Internet phone service, and adding more On-Demand pay per view shows and now I read in the Wall Street Journal they're negotiating to add games, they're pushing even more signal through the same landlines and equipment. And more channels fall off more often. Until they reset the main equipment and it works for one to two days then fails again.

If Comcast wants to improve service, instead of trying to get more money from the customers, how about fixing what you provide first? I'm still waiting for the Dolby 5.1 fix and the ala carte channels the FCC mandated awhile ago. I still haven't seen it in the package offers. And I'm waiting for the FCC to lift the ban on competiton. I want other cable companies to come into the area and offer competitive services. I'll listen or watch.

And don't get me started on the NFL Network and MLB channels.

Next rant in the news. To the Hillary Clinton supporters who won't write checks to the Obama campaign, stop whining and get out your checkbook. Or face a McCain presidency where you only have yourself to blame for being obstinate and bitter. You lost the primary, so either be a Democrat or get out of the way for other Democrats, and prepare for the fallout if Obama is President and you want political favors, and they say, "Who? Gee, I don't see you on our list."

And the next rant. Secretary of State Rice. Reading about her talks with Iran. Doesn't she get it that she has little, if any, respect anymore. She's a talking vacuum. The mouth opens and nothing of substances comes out. Just wind disguised as words. And everyone she meets with in an official capacity knows it. They'll be polite, listen, say thank you, and show her the door.

They know they have the one thing she doesn't have, time. They have 6 months to play nice and she's gone. So what doesn't she understand it's wasting everyone's time and she comes off a soundbite, like chinese food, good for 5 minutes and you wonder what she said.

Just the rants of somebody living in paradise wondering why the most of the rest of the world, especially the leaders, are all screwed up and demanding we think they're great, when they're totally idiots. Ok, overblown and overstated, but hey, there's a modicum of truth there, somewhere.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Monday Thoughts

Ok, another weekend and we're all back to the work week, like we want to be at work during the summer. But with gas prices so high, it's hard to think of anyplace to go when it costs a fair amount of money. For me a trip to Mt. Rainier NP cost $60+ round trip to the closest entrance and to Paradise. The other entrances are farther and costs more.

Anyway, the news.

Listening to the proposals in Congress to help offset the price of oil and gasoline at the pump. I got the impression that Congress doesn't want to really do anything but just make it a political issue they can blame the other party as the problem during the election. And none of the solutions they have proposed won't solve the problem. Well, except maybe one, but that's also doubtful.

And that's the regulation of the futures market of oil speculators. Energy economists estimate $0.50-0.80 of the price of gas is due to the speculators. That's a fair estimate if you calcuate the price of oil per barrel, refining costs, taxes and station profit, you end up with the gas profits and the speculator profits. Remember speculators aren't doing anything in the flow of oil into gasoline, they're simply buying and selling oil contracts.

And regulating them with better management and oversight of the market would be a good thing for the consumer, all of us. They're simply the totally useless part of the process, invented for people simply betting on the future and we're paying the price. The whole futures market could easily disappear and nothing would be lost, especially for oil, and be replaced with a regulated market which stabilizes and reduces prices.

And to all those speculators, "Ahhh...." Sorry, you're not liked or wanted, now go away.

Ok, I've ranted.

The campaign. While I've generally like Obama, and know his swing to the center is closer to who he is a Senator and likely more as a President - he went left during the primaries to offset Hillary's center position denying her those voters and delegates, it's a little disconcerting that he's moving to the center-right.

And yes, I know it politics, and he's moving there to take McCain's right-center voters, it's uncomfortable at times to hear him speak on issues espousing a view that is so distant from his former center-left and liberal position he took during the primaries. But it shows he's also flexible and open to the issue, to hear all sides, and while expressing a position, that position isn't fixed and will adjust and adapt to the circumstances and situation.

You have to listen to his whole speech when he talks about issues, and ignore the soundbites and pundits extracting tibdbits from them. He almost always phrases his view with "if" so that it provides for choices with provisions or caveats. I can't disagree with that, but I can disagree in that it loses the individual perspective and loses the firm values one should have when make the final decision.

And this is what bothers me about Obama. You can't fully trust someone who promises something knowing it's not a guarrantee they'll keep it let alone even consider it in the final decision. I'm not against that with some issues, but I am on some I feel compromise should come through tough negotiation and finding the best alternative with some clear wins for your position.

I don't see that in Obama. I see it in McCain, but often with the wrong view on the issues.

Onward, to the ocean.

Should we approve off-shore oil drilling? The Republicans would like to make you think it would provide both an immediate and longterm reduction of oil prices. Well, do you really think more oil will actually lower gas prices? Like electricity rates and prices? I'm sure prices will be reduced a little, say 10%, but most of that I suspect will come out of the wholesale price, refinery costs and station profits.

I don't see the oil companies wanting to reduce their profit one cent. I don't trust their promises nor the predictions.

I hope the American public understands off-shore oil drilling won't solve the problem, nor will will you see oil wells off-shore for 3-5 years minimum and likely 5-8 years. They simply want the leases to stick in their pocket, slowly explore and develop, and wait until gas is $6+ per gallon. They're not stupid so neither should we and sacrifice our future coastlines to them for money.

Remember they already have 68 million acres they haven't even explored yet, let alone produce oil and natural gas which they and we know is there. Why not start there now?

Did you read the story the Federal Appeals Court overturned the decision of the Qatar man, arrested in 2003 in the US as an enemy combatant and held without access to legal help or the courts, saying the President and the government does have the right to do this (lower court decided he was entitled to the courts, due process and legal aid). In short our government can arrest you on suspicion of providing material support (no evidence required) and hold you indefinitely without rights to courts, lawyers and your family.

And this can apply to US citizens. The decision will go to the Supreme Court where the President has lost all three similar cases for executive privilege to do this with enemy combatants, even saying that term is illegal. So it's likely this will be overturned then and there, but until then and even as we've seen with other people, the government, mainly Departments of Justice and Defense, simply ignores the law and court decisions.

We're in the time our government can arrest you without a warrant, on the least evidence and mostly suspicion (Portland, Or man), and hold you indefinitely without rights or access to lawyers or courts. The Supreme Court has said that's illegal and violates the Constitution, but it hasn't stopped the government.

And we know from cases, the FBI actually creates conspiracies of terrorist groups to arrest, even providing the money, training, recruitment, logistics, specialists, etc. as evidence. In short the FBI will create the evidence they withhold from you in the name of national security. Exaggerated?

No, because if you look at all the cases of terrorist groups arrested in the US, no one has been convicted of terrorism. All were convicted of lesser offenses on evidence the FBI provided them, like weapons, plans, bombs, etc.

Ok, this is a good thing to know the FBI is always looking for terrorists. But now the FBI doesn't trust all Americans of being innocent and not have anything to do with terrorism. We're in a constant state of being suspects by our own government who can act and let time sort it out. They've shown this over and over. They can always later apologize for ruining your life and perhaps writing you a small check, but that won't stop them from doing it to other Americans.

This one is also interesting. The TSA office added the name of a reporter to the no-fly list after he aired a story critical of the air marshall program (remember the idea of armed air marshalls on planes?), see CNN story. There's also stories that some air marshalls are on the no-fly list and can't board the planes they're expected to protect, and they can't get their names off the list.

Who's running the no-fly asylum?

Maybe when the next President comes into office he should add the names of George Bush and Richard Cheney to the list and see how they feel. A taste of their own politics?

Ok, enough for the weekend news.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Friday Thoughts

Ok, it's the end of the week, lots of newspapers read, newstories listened to and other stuff in and around the news. And what captured my attention, beside the cover of this week's New Yorker?

Let's stay there a bit. The editor of the New Yorker said those that criticized it failed to understand it. And even the USA Today criticized the critics. Well, I'm sorry, it was over the top in terms of satire, and only played into the 10-15% of Americans who actually think Obama was raised Muslim, went to a Muslim school and is a Muslim. What's not to understand? Obama is not Muslim and the cover isn't satire or even a caricature, it's insulting.

The New Yorker said they know their readers would understand, and even I get the satire, but the New Yorker isn't America and doesn't represent Americans, so what don't they understand the rest of country may not see it let alone understand it as satire? They totally missed the mark. But it's done. Now I want to see an equally satirized one about John and Cindy McCain., or doesn't the New Yorker have the balls to piss of Republicans?

Ok, enough on them for now anyway. I'm just lost my taste for the magazine now.

Something different? How about them Democrats?

They're supposed to actually be the party of the people. Not. They forgot about us when they passed the FISA bill the President wanted with some elements the President will simply ignore. You expect Bush and cohorts to actually inform Congress? Well, you bought the bridge with our money, our liberties, our rights and our freedoms and we're pissed at you!

And you're still cowards. You promised reforms on lobbyists and you reniged agains, loosening the rules on disclosure and benefits given Congressmen/women. Now instead of getting free rides on corporate jets, you have to pay charter rates, but with whose money? Except how will we know you paid but you still benefited from them and listened to them instead of those you really represent.

Oh, I forgot it's about the money and power, of which we don't count. So, what's the difference between the parties when it comes to lobbyists? Nothing. Both parties are corrupt.

I'm betting the Democrats cave on oil exploration too and open off-shore areas to leases. There are currently 68 million acres under lease to the Oil companies they still haven't explored let alone drill and extract, and now they want more longterm leases before Bush leaves office to control the energy market for this country for the next 20+ years?

They want the leases in their pocket. They don't plan to do anything with them, and even when they start, it will take at least 3-5 years before we see any oil in the gas stations. That doesn't help now or in the immediate future, and only puts the rights in the hands of the corporations with no way to withdraw them.

So I'm not holding my breath the Democrats will have the balls to fight the President and the Republicans, and they'll more than likely put some measures in there to appease us and say they did their best, but we know it won't be their best because we know the oil company lobbyists have both parties in the pockets.

Harsh? Maybe, but I haven't seen anything yet but talk the Democrats have any backbone protecting the coastline of America against corporate greed.

Ok, enough pummelling the Democrats. Not like they deserve it anymore. They're so close to being Republicans they wear the same coat. Except the Republicans have backbone and balls, usually for the wrong reasons, but the Democrats have neither because they're afraid of standing up for America and Americans in the name of the Republicans and the President using fear as a weapon.

I'm now ashamed to call myself a part-time Democrat - the rest is Libertarian and Individualist. It's not the Democratic party I supported going back 40 years now. Fighting for the ordinary person has simply become political campaign fodder for us but doesn't mean much when it counts.

The Democrats don't have to worry like ordinary Americans, so they don't really understand. They're rich enough to afford anything and we pay the rest. How can we expect they'll be there for us when they don't care except when it comes to votes and money from us?

Ok, enough for the week and on that note, a parting jesture? How about a cute kitten and the grace and beauty of dancers, one and another. Have a good weekend.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Monday Thoughts

Well, twice in a week, or successive weeks. Ok, not bad for the summer, and it's finally been summer here, with temperatures in the 70's normally and 80's occasionally. Not bad, especially with blue skies. Unfortunately that also leads to still winds haze and blocked vista. But the mountains are still clear. Taking the ferry across the Puget Sound Sunday morning I could see Mt. Baker, Glacier Peak and the obvious Mt. Rainier, and the Olympics were beautiful.

Ok the news.

This just in. Five of the group of eight terrorists accused by the British government of attempting to blow up airlines headed to the US using bombs disguised as soft drinks were convict of attempting to cause explosions, not terrorism or actually blowing anything up. They simply wanted to do it and tried to make the bombs.

Ok, the connection?

They did this in August 2006 and this is the reason US airlines banned passengers from carrying liquids onto planes. Yes, the rule wasn't about terrorist actually doing anything, but simply thinking, planning and then trying to build a bomb. They never succeeded to actually build a bomb, let alone actually succeed.

The whole rule about liquids is a fraud, based on false claims by the British government. It didn't originate in the US nor involve any US citizen. And no US law enforcement agency has found any liquid-based bombs on planes or being smuggled onto plane by passengers. So how do you feel about that rule now?

Kinda' stupid rule, huh?

I don't understand this. The mortage company IndyMac is a public traded company which operates for a profit. Granted they have a large share of the mortage market, but to forestall their failure, the government takes over the company, not to save the people paying the mortages but the shareholders and company management from losing their money.

This is a real WTF moment for me. Congress and the government won't bail out home buyers but they'll bail our investment companies and mortage companies. While home buyers are getting fucked by their bank and mortage company, the company is getting the government to offset their losses and giving them loans to forestall bankruptcy.

And now they're going to save FannieMae and FreddieMac too, despite all the rhetoric about how solvent they are by those very same Congressional Representatives and Senators. The reality is that these two companies which own $5 Trillion in mortages is on the verge of being insolvent and facing big loses, in billions of dollars, from the burst home price market.

And on top of that the mortages are packaged into securities bought by investors, many of which are foreign investors. So all this isn't about home buyers but investors, shareholders and corporate executives. Hmmm.... Do you think we know where the loyalty lies now? Our government and Congress isn't out to save you or I but their corporate friends while protecting the international investors in US companies.

George Bush and the White House has learned a new tool in their political arsenal. Punt.

Since the Iraqis want a timetable for withdrawal, they've decided to punt the issue to the next President.

Since the courts ordered the EPA to do its job on climate change and global warning, they've punted the work to the next EPA Administrator.

Since they won't go after the oil speculation market which adds $0.50-.80 to every gallon of gas, something even the Democrats won't touch, they've decided it's not an issue, so punt it past the endzone into oblivion.

Since they can't get the oil companies to explore the land currently under the lease in the Western US, they punted the pressure to the next President.

Since they can't get the oil refineries to build new facilities - last one built over 20 years ago - to add new quantities to the market, they've punted it to the next President.

They've learned the art of punting political responsibility to the American people and just bide their time until next January.

Off-shore oil exploration. All the reports say that any off-shore drilling would get into the pipeline for 3-5 years minimum and likely 5-8 years and it won't change the price of gasoline at the pump. Exploring ANWR won't help for 7-10 years minimum and won't change the price of gasoline.

The oil companies currently hold leases for 68 million square acres of land in the West, why aren't they exploring there when they have more information, existing development, and faster extraction to refineries and to market? That alone would help reduce the cost of gasoline if just a little.

This isn't about drilling for oil but simply companies getting leases, ownership right to explore and extract oil on public lands and waters, but not now or the immediate future. Our lands and our off-shore waters. Even if they had those new leases they wouldn't explore for oil anymore than they need to keep the lease. It about control of oil for the future.

They oil companies have been doing this for decades, how else did they get their current unused leases, and around the world. And what's even worse, Congress is on track to agree with the President to do this. We're being fucked by our own elected officials!

Feel good now? Sorry, it's not fair, especially on a Monday, but it is what they're doing.

Well, that's it. Be careful who you follow, you might be following a quack. Ok, bad joke, but it's Monday and the brain isn't all there. Have a good week.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

It has been awhile

It's been awhile since I posted some observations and opinions about the news. I haven't been remiss at reading the newspapers and listening to the news, I've just been absent here, and I've been busy updating my Webiste and Mt. Rainier NP photo guide.

Ok, the news beside the Mariner's baseball season in the toliet? Need a player, call the Mariner's GM, every player except Ichiro and Felix Hernandez is available for a price. Well, I hope they don't trade Beltre or their young players, but the other ones aren't worth much anyway because they haven't performed well, not even the career average. Seems like some players come on big contracts to relax until retirement.

But I'm only a fan, what do I know. They really do play and work hard, they just haven't done well. Maybe they should like at the team that won 116 games in 2001? Hopefully they'll get things turned around before the end of the season to get close to .500. Ok, we can hope, but we're not holding our breath either.

Ok, the news.

Did you see the wealthy Clinton supporters weren't running to Obama's campaign with money and now the rich Obama supporters are withholding financial support to retire Clinton's $23 Million debt? Gotta' love those democrats. We had a good primary and now everyone's pissing about the money.

What happened to working for the people? Oh, I forgot, it's about control of the party and political agenda for the next 8 years. And we the people are fodder for their agenda. And so I say,

"Dear Democrats, what don't you understand about GFY?"

No, I'm not a Republican in disguise. They're only a shade worse anymore as corporations, lobbyists and big money are running this country. The Dems know that, which means they're just a little left of the Republicans but not enough to piss off their financial backers.

The Dems are caving on FISA, off-shore oil drilling, the war funding, and on and on. Name the issue and they're doing exactly what they said they wouldn't do, fold, bend and mutilate the truth as much as the Republicans. We don't have two parties anymore in Congress, we have the far right and the near right.

The left is now the center and the near to far left is hiding in the shadows afraid they'll be called unpatiotic. The Bushies won the war on language, selling fear and labelling anyone against them the enemy, which is more than half the country by the polls.

Did you see Obama says he's not moving to the center? Kinda' like, "I'm not moving, the floor is..." mentality. But then he's moved on every issue he criticized or voted against just last year and pissing a lot of the left democrats in the process. It's called winning an election folks, what's not to understand whatever he says isn't true, right, accurate or correct.

Did you hear Cheney and his office edited the Global Climate report? Ok, they didn't actually edit it but simply stood beside the editor and said, "No, not that.", "No, strike that.", "No, we don't infer anything.", and "What are you crazy?" They watered it so much water has more taste.

The Republicans are now saying a former CEO, eg. Carly Fiorina of HP, would be a good VP. Uh, like Cheney, former CEO of Haliburton? Can the country stand another CEO VP with a weak President who does the corporations' bidding for contracts, tax breaks (most don't pay taxes anyway), freedom from oversight and regulation, immunity from lawsuits (they call it tort reform), and so on?

Anyway, I've got more news clippings to go, but it's summer, the good weather finally arrived, as usual after July 4th for the next two months or so, and there's a lot of places to go, stuff to see and things to do. I'm off but will come back now and then through the summer. Otherwise I'll be working on the Website and photo guide.