December 30, 2005

Criminal Inquiry Opens Into Leak in Eavesdropping - New York Times

Criminal Inquiry Opens Into Leak in Eavesdropping - New York Times

Well, the Times has written a carefully crafted piece , still relying on anonymous sources who have apparently told the Times and AP that the investigation is underway.

What we need to watch now is whether the media shuts down on this issue since the Times will have its back to the wall for publishing the original story. Or will they choose to hype the view that the investigation of the surveillance itself rather than the leak of classified information, the position naturally sponsored by the ACLU and other liberal organizations, is the one that should take precedence?

I think the Administration is doing exactly the right thing here. The Times had best beware that they are messing with national security and this is a different era than when the Ellsberg Vietnam Pentagon papers were disclosed 35+ years ago.

I note that Keller, executive editor, at the Times had 'no comment.' Why??

Global Guerrillas: SWARM: Fuel and Oil Disruption in Iraq

Global Guerrillas: SWARM: Fuel and Oil Disruption in Iraq

John follows closely the terrorist interdiction of oil and fuel supplies in Iraq and elsewhere. This is exactly the thing we should expect the terrorists to be doing because it's so disruptive to prices, supply and market predictability.

Justice Dept. Opens Inquiry Into Leak of Domestic Spying - New York Times

Justice Dept. Opens Inquiry Into Leak of Domestic Spying - New York Times

The government is absolutely correct to launch an investigation into the illegal disclosure of secrets and the N.S.A. is right to ask for it. Compared to the Valerie Plame case, this is serious national security business that the FBI should investigate, leaving no stone unturned.

I note the Times isn't reporting this story itself, instead relying on the Associated Press. I wonder if the Times is getting cold feet? They should be very concerned that they have used sources within government to disclose secrets in the war on terror. Before this is over, Times reporters and management will appear before a grand jury.

December 29, 2005

December 28, 2005

Mark Usher Book Signing at Borders in Burlington

My son, Mark, will be at Borders on Church Street in Burlington on January 21, 2006 at 2:00 pm to sign his latest book, Wise Guy - The Life and Philosophy of Socrates.

More information about the book and Mark can be found at the links below:

Seven Days review

UVM's theview


Big Labor's Big Secret - New York Times

Another interesting tidbit in the health care debate.

With Coastline in Ruins, Cajuns Face Prospect of Uprooted Towns - New York Times

With Coastline in Ruins, Cajuns Face Prospect of Uprooted Towns - New York Times:

Move these people. It's the right, though painful, answer because it's foolhardy for U.S. taxpayers to pay repeatedly for damage from hurricanes.

"Now Louisiana planners are proposing an idea that would have been unimaginable here a few months ago: moving an entire string of seaside towns and villages - and the 4,000 longtime residents who live in them - 15 or 20 miles inland to higher and presumably safer ground.

'If we could get 100 percent participation, which admittedly is extraordinarily difficult, if possible at all, we could conceivably take the entire population of Cameron Parish largely out of harm's way for future events,' said Drew Sachs, a consultant to the Louisiana Recovery Authority. He has been asked to develop bold suggestions for rebuilding the state's coastal region in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita."

December 27, 2005

Slowly, Cancer Genes Tender Their Secrets - New York Times

Slowly, Cancer Genes Tender Their Secrets - New York Times

Terribly important progress being made in understanding cancer and it's genetic roots. The treatment, rather than cure, may be terribly expensive. How would Paul Krugman deal with that problem?

December 26, 2005

A New Civil Rights Movement - New York Times

A New Civil Rights Movement - New York Times

Bob Herbert is a teller of truth. Are you listening Jesse, Al and others who claim to be black leaders but do little to help, let alone admit to the behavioral problems that Herbert describes?

"It is ironic, to say the least, that now, nearly a century and a half after the Emancipation Proclamation, much of the most devastating damage to black families, and especially black children, is self-inflicted.

You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to know that some of the most serious problems facing blacks in the United States - from poverty to incarceration rates to death at an early age - are linked in varying degrees to behavioral issues and the corrosion of black family life, especially the absence of fathers."

Medicine: Who Decides? - New York Times

Medicine: Who Decides? - New York Times

Come on Krugman, don't beat around the bush. Rationing is what you mean and you envisage someone besides doctors who see patients is better equipped to make health care decisions.

I happen to agree that rationing in some form will eventually be needed to control costs. Preventive care will help people stay healthy, but that will require mandates, probably as onerous as rationing. But how will rationing be determined and who will do it? What's your answer?

In lieu of those draconian measures, health savings accounts make more sense for people willing to take control of their health care. For those who don't/won't/can't make their own health decisions, rationing is is good a solution as any. Who did you say will do that, Paul?

Powell Speaks Out on Domestic Spy Program - New York Times

Powell Speaks Out on Domestic Spy Program - New York Times:

Colin Powell understands the reality of the world we live in. The Times, to it's discredit, spins this story with an emphasis on getting warrants, rather than on the necessity of the surveillance, which Powell clearly endorses, although he apparently did not know about it when he was Secretary of State.

"'My own judgment is that it didn't seem to me, anyway, that it would have been that hard to go get the warrants,' Mr. Powell said. 'And even in the case of an emergency, you go and do it. The law provides for that.'

But Mr. Powell added that 'for reasons that the president has discussed and the attorney general has spoken to, they chose not to do it that way.'

'I see absolutely nothing wrong with the president authorizing these kinds of actions,' he said.

Asked if such eavesdropping should continue, Mr. Powell said, 'Yes, of course it should continue.'

Mr. Powell said he had not been told about the eavesdropping activity when he served as secretary of state."

The Agency That Could Be Big Brother - New York Times

The Agency That Could Be Big Brother - New York Times

Thank God for the NSA and the capabilities they have to identify the terrorists and their henchmen. They should operate in the shadows and any American with a stake in preventing another terrorist attack, particularly one involving a nuke or a biological weapon, should be thankful they exist and allow them to do their job rather than being used as a pawn in a terribly destructive political game.

As I've said before, I take the same position regardless who is President assuming of course that the President has the best interests of the country at heart and is focused on national security.

Professors' Politics Draw Lawmakers Into the Fray - New York Times

Professors' Politics Draw Lawmakers Into the Fray - New York Times

Of course bias exists in the classroom as it does everywhere. If that is true, then why in this article has Mr. Janofsky not cited any examples of conservative bias? Could it be that the bias is overwhelmingly left-leaning?

December 24, 2005

Insider Editing at Wikipedia - New York Times

Insider Editing at Wikipedia - New York Times

More on the Wikipedia controversy. I believe over time Wikipedia will succeed and it's reliability will be improved by a regimen of accountability.

The American Thinker - NSA Leak Investigation

The American Thinker

Where is the media's call for an investigation of the leaks by those in government of the NSA surveillance?

Here's a common sense suggestion of how to get the truth...and the consequences. Alas, it will never happen, at least the New York Times will never ask for exposure of the leakers of classified information to them. My goodness, they must think they are above the law!

Here's another great observation from Powerline

The radiation surveillance case could be distinguished from Kyllo on a number of grounds, but let's cut to the bottom line; I can't improve on what Eugene Volokh wrote, somewhat presciently, in 2002:

Sure, normally the Fourth Amendment applies equally to all serious crimes, and that's normally right. But finding dirty bombs must simply be different from fighting normal crime. Searches for weapons of mass destruction can't be treated like searches for marijuana-growing devices or even for murder weapons.

The Fourth Amendment, by its terms, only bans "unreasonable searches and seizures"—and it cannot be unreasonable to examine homes with Geiger counters in order to prevent a city from being rendered uninhabitable by an enemy bombing. Protecting people's privacy is important, and so is constraining government power. But sometimes we need extraordinary government power to protect against extraordinary threat.

In my opinion, the idea that, in the context of the terrorist threat we currently face, the government can't use radiation-detecting devices in public places--there is no indication that federal agents broke into anyone's home with a Geiger counter--to look for nuclear weapons, is ludicrous.

"I'd like to hear from the Democrats on this one. Yesterday, Mrs. R. and I were watching a television news program, when someone pointed out that no leading Democrat has yet called on President Bush to terminate the NSA intercept program. I laughed out loud. Good point! Likewise with the radiation story: Do we have the Democrats' pledge that under a Democratic administration, the government would not use radiation-detecting equipment to search for dirty bombs? If so, that should make it a lot easier for millions of Americans to cast their votes in the 2008 election.

Spy Agency Mined Vast Data Trove, Officials Report - New York Times

Spy Agency Mined Vast Data Trove, Officials Report - New York Times:

This is exactly what I expect the NSA to be doing in our fight against terrorism. We should be grateful that our government is doing the necessary surveillance to thwart terrorists' activities. We should be thankful that our President is using every means at his disposal in this war. He is right to continue the NSA surveillance of terror suspects.

Here we have the Times once again predictably suggesting this is sinsiter activity aimed at some perceived harm to Americans or our way of life. This is nonsense As usual, they remain mired in 'left field.' Tell me again who has been harmed here?

The Times continues its blatant barrage to discredit Bush. By so doing they dig themselves a deeper hole of disrespect among people with common sense. Only the ivory tower folks and criminals or terrorists will have a problem with this surveillance. I support the efforts of Bush and the NSA.

And now the AP decides to link this foolish attack to the nomination of Judge Alito by citing work he did 25 years ago for the Reagan administration. One more example of the liberal media piling on in a vicious attempt to discredit this administration. Here's the lead paragraph:

Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito defended the right of government officials to order domestic wiretaps for national security when he worked at the Reagan Justice Department, an echo of President Bush's rationale for spying on U.S. residents in the war on terror.
. This in concert with the Times editorial today intimating that Judge Alito is more on the side of the Executive than Congress. Here is one more demonstration of the media at work. I'm thankful there are thousands of other voices in mainstream media and blogs who share my view of the world. Here's one, The American Thinker.

"WASHINGTON, Dec. 23 - The National Security Agency has traced and analyzed large volumes of telephone and Internet communications flowing into and out of the United States as part of the eavesdropping program that President Bush approved after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to hunt for evidence of terrorist activity, according to current and former government officials.

The volume of information harvested from telecommunication data and voice networks, without court-approved warrants, is much larger than the White House has acknowledged, the officials said. It was collected by tapping directly into some of the American telecommunication system's main arteries, they said."

December 23, 2005

A Shah With a Turban - New York Times

A Shah With a Turban - New York Times

Thomas makes some good points. However, his notion that the U.S. can exert some influence over Iran by finding a different energy source than oil is not realistic. Iran will sell to India and China instead.

December 22, 2005

Blowing the Whistle on Gangsta Culture - New York Times

Blowing the Whistle on Gangsta Culture - New York Times

Where is the black leadership on this issue? Herbert has it right. Gangsta culture is an insidious disease. Anyone who defends it don't understand this or has some warped notion that this demonstration of free speech and entrepreneurship is 'what America is all about.' large media companies who embrace it are abetting a sordid, destructive culture that has no benefit to America.

Where are you Sharpton, Jackson, NAACP, Urban League and other black leaders? Where are you record companies? Why can't you see this for the destructive evil it is?

Senators propose taxing Internet shopping | CNET

Senators propose taxing Internet shopping | CNET

This old chestnut is back in the oven. When the states get their act together to simplify the tax architecture, then it will be time to act for those companies that are pure online plays.

Teach, Don't Preach, the Bible - New York Times

Teach, Don't Preach, the Bible - New York Times:

Exposure to the Bible, the whole Bible...Old and New a religious or secular context is valuable. God's word is a powerful teacher.

"The Fourth National Survey of Religion and Politics, completed in 2004 by the University of Akron, shows that only 12.6 percent of Americans consider themselves 'traditionalist evangelical Protestants,' which the survey equates with the term 'religious right.' A mere 10.7 percent of Americans define themselves as 'secular' or 'atheist, agnostic.' The vast majority of Americans are what survey-takers term centrist or modernist in their religious views.
These mainstream believers represent to their religiously liberal and conservative neighbors what independents do to Republicans and Democrats in the political arena. They are the under-discussed 'swing voters' in the values debate who, the survey shows, are slightly pro-choice, believe in the death penalty, support stem-cell research and favor gay rights but oppose gay marriage.
Above all, they welcome religion in public life but are turned off by efforts to claim exclusive access to God.
At a time when religion dominates the headlines - from Iraq to terrorism to stem cells - finding a way to educate young people about faith should become a national imperative. Achieving this goal in a legal, nonsectarian manner requires Americans to get over the kitchen-table bromide, 'Don't talk about politics and religion in public.' "

Year in review: Telephony's transformation | CNET

Year in review: Telephony's transformation | CNET's Telephony Year in Review is a compendium of stories about major telecom events in 2005. Overall, a big year as companies position themselves in the voice and video world.

December 21, 2005

That Blur? It's China, Moving Up in the Pack - New York Times

The tiger fattens quickly! How will U.S. policy change as China becomes the world's largest economy? The future will not resemble the past.

"With China's announcement on Tuesday that its economy was considerably bigger than previously estimated, economists and financial prognosticators are scrambling to rethink their assessment of China's rise and its role on the world stage. China's new figures suggest that it probably has passed France, Italy and Britain to become the world's fourth-largest economy.
Some economists are even accelerating their timetables for when China may eclipse the United States as the world's biggest economy. With the new figures offering a more expansive view of economic activity, some said China could overtake the United States as early as 2035, at least five years earlier than previous projections.
'We now have a new snapshot of the Chinese economy,' said Hong Liang, an economist at Goldman Sachs. 'This is not slightly bigger - it's a significantly bigger economy.'
China said it revised its economic data after a yearlong nationwide economic census uncovered about $280 billion in hidden economic output last year. The new output was the equivalent of an economy the size of Turkey's or Indonesia's - or 40 percent the size of India's economy.
As a result, China's gross domestic product for last year is now estimated at nearly $2 trillion, not the previously reported $1.65 trillion. That translates into an adjusted increase of 17 percent, making China the sixth-largest economy in the world in 2004."

The American Thinker - The Legacy of Tet

The American Thinker

Having been in Saigon during the Tet offensive, I can confirm that we didn't lose those battles, horrific as they were. However, being there means I wasn't exposed to the media portrayal back home.

This piece makes a strong case that media bias played a strong role in the mood of the country following the Tet Offensive and that the bias continues today. I agree with that assessment.

The American Thinker - Liberal Bubble

The American Thinker

An insightful piece on the liberal mindset and a prediction for their continued demise.

While the liberal viewpoint is dominant in the media, these media are losing ground in the digital age for four reasons: they are being overtaken by the Internet as a distribution, advertising and communications medium which threatens their business model; by the fact that fewer reader and viewer hours are spent on their news and analysis which renders their viewpoints less effective; the conservative alternatives on TV, radio and the Internet are more persuasive; and, in the case of The New York Times and CBS, they are shown to be rigging the news dishonestly.

The liberal academic bastion is still strong, but unlikely to remain insulated from conservative views forever. Eventually, a liberal education will revert to its true meaning rather than the left-wing bias that is so often passes for 'liberal education.'

December 20, 2005

Spying Program Snared U.S. Calls - New York Times

Spying Program Snared U.S. Calls - New York Times

More trash from the Times trying to reinforce their sordid and politically timed story about Bush authorizing NSA surveillance of terrorists and their allies. I continue to lose respect for the newspaper, but continue to read it because it's important to know what the liberal media is saying in order to discern the truth.



An interesting link for those associated with Vermont Fresh Network and their plans for an electronic system to enable ordering, invoicing and distribution.

Transition to Digital Gets Closer - New York Times

This is a big deal and will affect the whole country in a way that is very positive. The frequency spectrum made available by this conversion will enable a ton of additional wireless service for business and consumers. Congress is right to get it done sooner rather than later. Now we'll see if the Senate will go along.

The ~10$Billion from the spectrum auctions will help support the conversion costs for consumers and I note that 1$Billion or so will be targeted at emergency communications services upgrades. That's a good thing.

December 19, 2005

The American Thinker - Munich (the movie)

The American Thinker

A negative view of how Spielberg has treated the subject in his new movie, Munich. Well worth reading for the history lesson it provides.

What Really Matters

Perhaps we can learn “something important” after all—not from movies—but from the moral compass of history itself.

We are in a war of ideas. Freedom, Justice, and Truth transcend the movies. What really matters will survive the motives of movie studios. What really matters will survive all of us, especially the appeasers. What really matters will transcend the timeline of history.

The Muslim World is in a civil war of sane ideas vs. insane ideas. Baathists, Sunnis, Wahhabists, and Shias are scrambling for certitude, trying to figure out what side of history they are on. The insanity of Jihad is startlingly clear, once the moral compass of civilization is irrefutably in place. King Abdullah laid down the gauntlet by defining the “War on Militant Islam,” challenging sane Muslims to renounce the insanity of this “culture of death” that is Jihad. Now that Iraqi Muslims have declared their future, it is possible for sane Muslims to declare that freedom rules. It is time to negate the schism of civilization, reverse the schism inward, and break “Militant Islam” at its very core belief. Murder is not a holy act. Jihad is not a Holy War. Jihad is evil. Only Muslims can declare moral victory in their own civil war of ideas. Jihad—like all “cultures of death” – is dead on arrival.

Steven Spielberg’s “prayer for peace” appears to be earnest. Yet he misses the point of real history. By naming his movie Munich, he advances the message of appeasement. By promoting moral relativism as moral equivalence, he propels his audiences into moral clarity. By selling intransigence as the enemy, he invites history to define the constant enemy. The “Jihad to liberate Jerusalem” – like all fascist and totalitarian genocidal schemes that deny freedom and dignity of the individual – is the true enemy, not just of Israel, but of all mankind.

Meanwhile, all human beings get to decide which side of history they are on. Dreamworks appears to have made their decision.

Creating a dialogue that bridges the Muslim and the non-Muslim world is admirable, but the “true” dialogue—like the events of 1972—begins with the value of life.

The Long-Term Care Conundrum - New York Times

The Long-Term Care Conundrum - New York Times:

A rational view of the difficulties with long-term care.

"Beyond such particulars, what's needed most is a shift in thinking. Americans have to realize that there is no entitlement to long-term care and that few employers include long-term care in their health insurance packages. That thought should lead to two things: serious financial planning on an individual basis, and a long national conversation about how much responsibility the government should have in ensuring proper care for the elderly and disabled. "

Residents Fight Shift in Zoning for Gulf Coast - New York Times

Residents Fight Shift in Zoning for Gulf Coast - New York Times

Rebuilding in flood-proven areas is foolhardy and should not be endorsed or funded in any way by the federal government. Much of this land should be taken by eminent domain if necessary and allowed to return to its natural state.

Why should we may again for the flooding damage caused by hurricanes? Are we irrational? The port of New Orleans is a different matter. That area must be protected and rebuilt because of the huge economic impact locally and upriver. -- Helping you get the most out of DirectAdmin and your web site! -- Helping you get the most out of DirectAdmin and your web site!

A neat site for information about building a web site. No one ever said this was easy, but millions do it.

A Challenge for Bill O'Reilly - New York Times

Yes, Mr. O'Reilly and what will your answer be?

Rural Living, but With Access to High-Speed Internet Service - New York Times

Rural Living, but With Access to High-Speed Internet Service - New York Times

Vermont faces the same problems as Maine, but we lack the policy priority and will to get the cell coverage and broadband in place in those tough to serve areas.

This Call May Be Monitored ... - New York Times

This Call May Be Monitored ... - New York Times:

It is the New York Times that has the credibility and trust problem, not the President. The Times is hollering through a tin horn trying to stand on some idealistic platform that denies the terrorist threat. In so doing, they are blinded by their principle and reject rational action within the scope of the President's responsibility and authority under the Constitution. He needs the ability to thwart terrorists' goal to kill Americans and inflict damage in any way possible.

The President is right. I would say this whether it's Bush, Clinton or someone else holding the Presidency. I note that Hillary Clinton is keeping her mouth shut. I wonder if for political or rational reasons?

"President Bush defended the program yesterday, saying it was saving lives, hotly insisting that he was working within the Constitution and the law, and denouncing The Times for disclosing the program's existence. We don't know if he was right on the first count; this White House has cried wolf so many times on the urgency of national security threats that it has lost all credibility. But we have learned the hard way that Mr. Bush's team cannot be trusted to find the boundaries of the law, much less respect them."

December 18, 2005

Bush, Saying U.S. Is Winning, Asks Patience on Iraq - New York Timesreport on the President's speech tonight

Bush, Saying U.S. Is Winning, Asks Patience on Iraq - New York Times

A fair report on the President's speech tonight. Because the liberal naysayers know they cannot attack him successfully on the economy which is doing well and getting better since the tax cuts, they continue to dig a deeper hole for themselves by continuing to criticize the progress being made in Iraq. On balance they appear to be weak and thrashing about for a policy they can call their own.

December 17, 2005

President Acknowledges Approving Secretive Eavesdropping

Some of the liberal journalists at the Times and those within the NSA and other government agencies who leaked classified information may find themselves in deep doo-doo.

President Bush's Address - New York Times

President Bush's Address - New York Times:

The President is absolutely correct. And to his credit, he has put the reality in front of the noses of his opponents. What I think is behind the liberals and the Times strategy is an attempt to build a case for impeachment in his second term. Congress and Chief Justice Roberts may have their hands full in a year or so.

Here's an excerpt from today's speech:

"The Patriot Act has accomplished exactly what it was designed to do. It is protecting American liberty and saved American lives. Yet key provisions of this law are set to expire in two weeks.

The terrorist threat to our country will not expire in two weeks. The terrorists want to attack America again and inflict even greater damage than they did on Sept. 11. Congress has a responsibility to ensure that law enforcement and intelligence officials have the tools they need to protect the American people.

The House of Representatives passed reauthorization of the Patriot Act, yet a minority of senators filibustered to block the renewal of the Patriot Act when it came up for a vote yesterday. That decision is irresponsible and it endangers the lives of our citizens.

The senators who are filibustering must stop their delaying tactics and the Senate must vote to reauthorize the Patriot Act.

In the war on terror we cannot afford to be without this law for a single moment. To fight the war on terror, IÂ?m using authority vested in me by Congress, including the joint authorization for use of military force, which passed overwhelmingly in the first week after Sept. 11. IÂ?m also using constitutional authority vested in me as commander in chief.

In the weeks following the terrorist attacks on our nation, I authorized the National Security Agency, consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution, to intercept the international communications of people with known links to Al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations. Before we intercept these communications, the government must have information that establishes a clear link to these terrorist networks.

This is a highly classified program that is crucial to our national security. Its purpose is to detect and prevent terrorist attacks against the United States, our friends and allies.

Yesterday, the existence of this secret program was revealed in media reports after being improperly provided to news organizations. As a result, our enemies have learned information they should not have.

And the unauthorized disclosure of this effort damages our national security and puts our citizens at risk. Revealing classified information is illegal, alerts our enemies and endangers our country.

Taking Liberties With the Nation's Security - New York Times

Taking Liberties With the Nation's Security - New York Times:

Right on target, Rudy!

"It is simply false to claim, as some of its critics do, that this bill does not respond to concerns about civil liberties. The four-year extension of the Patriot Act, as passed by the House, would not only reauthorize the expiring provisions - allowing our Joint Terrorism Task Force, National Counterterrorism Center and Terrorist Screening Center to continue their work uninterrupted - it would also make a number of common-sense clarifications and add dozens of additional civil liberties safeguards.

Concerns have been raised about the so-called library records provision; the bill adds safeguards. The same is true for roving wiretaps, 'sneak and peek' searches and access to counsel and courts, as well as many others concerns raised by groups like the American Library Association and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Given these improvements, there is simply no compelling argument for going backward in the fight against terrorism. Perhaps a reminder is in order. The bipartisan 9/11 commission described a vivid example of how the old ways hurt us. In the summer of 2001, an F.B.I. agent investigating two individuals we now know were hijackers on Sept. 11 asked to share information with another team of agents. This request was refused because of the wall. The agent's response was tragically prescient: 'Someday, someone will die - and wall or not - the public will not understand why we were not more effective.'

How quickly we forget.(emphasis added)"

Usama bin Ladin

A rather lengthy and complete history of what is publicly known about Usama Bin Ladin. Will we find him? Killing him will create a martyr and is unlikely to totally dismantle the terrorist apparatus, but if we get the chance we must take him out.

Behind Power, One Principle as Bush Pushes Prerogatives - New York Times

Behind Power, One Principle as Bush Pushes Prerogatives - New York Times

Mr. Shane attempts to explain and analyze the secret surveillance by the N.S.A. authorized by the President. IMHO, his analysis overweights the opinions or those opposing the President's decision and utterly fails to mention the National Security Strategy issued in 2002 in the wake of 9/11. This portion deals with intelligence yet is never referenced in the analysis.

I continue to believe firmly that the President was right to assert the power of his office to do absolutely everything to thwart another terrorist attack on the U.S. homeland or our interests abroad. And he has been successful.

I am terribly frustrated that our liberal establishment fails to see the threat in real terms, preferring instead to politicize this affair on an 'erosion of liberties' platform. I believe this is politics at its worst and betrays the more fundamental purpose to defend our country against the insidious terrorist threats. With terrorism, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

I hope President Bush in his oval office speech tomorrow night will clearly lay out the reasons for his actions and continue to denounce those fools who oppose our strategy because they are not in power.

I can hardly wait for Dr. Dean's words on this because he speaks for the ultra left wing liberals.

Literacy Falls for Graduates From College, Testing Finds - New York Times

With two notable exceptions, blacks and Asians, Americans are sadly becoming less literate. What's a nation to do?

After A Nation at Risk, the prominent 1983 report on American education, from the National Commission on Excellence in Education, and all the sturm und drang generated by the report, we have lost our progress toward a more educated America, at least as measured by literacy.

In the face of this decline, we still have many in the education establishment railing against the testing required in the No Child Left Behind Act.

We can and should do better.

At the Times, a Scoop Deferred

At the Times, a Scoop Deferred

This Washington Post article demonstrates the depth of concern within the print media establishment about 'who does it best.'

The Times has serious questions to answer about its timing (coinciding with the Patriot Act renewal vote in the Senate and a book by the Times reporter to be published in January) of this story.

I think we're seeing a major U.S. newspaper sliding down the slippery slope of politics choosing to be a tool for this country's liberal anti-Bush factions. This is their right, of course, but beneath the ideals that should guide a great newspaper. 'ALL the News that's Fit to Print'

I can't help but conclude that Times' anti-war/anti-Administration stance does not serve the country's national security interests.

December 16, 2005

Senator Specter Calls for Hearings on U.S. Spy Program - New York Times

Senator Specter Calls for Hearings on U.S. Spy Program - New York Times:

Senator Kennedy, I have no chills up or down my spine when the government is attempting to protect me and Americans from terrorists.

What gives me chills is that you and others attempt to camouflage your political goals as protecting the civil liberties of Americans. I can do and say whatever I have a mind to do or say within the bounds of decency.

Howl and wail if you must, but I sleep well when the NSA keeps tabs on possible bad guys.

The New York Times ran this story to kill the Patriot Act and take the Iraqi elections (good hews for this Administration) off the front page. How else can their timing be explained? If it's alleged that Fox News is in cahoots with the Republicans/Conservatives, with this stunt the NY times is clearly aligned with the Democrats/Liberals.

To publish this story at this time, whether it's true or not, was done for political purposes, I'm convinced. They have gone beyond reporting the news, they are manipulating it for political purposes. Shame on the Times! They deserve to have their position eroded by the rise in electronic journalism.

Michelle Malkin's take on this worth a read.

"Neither Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice nor White House press secretary Scott McClellan would confirm or deny the report which said the super-secret NSA had spied on as many as 500 people at any given time since 2002 in this country.
That year, following the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush authorized the NSA to monitor the international phone calls and international e-mails of hundreds -- perhaps thousands -- of people inside the United States, the Times reported.
McClellan said the White House has received no requests for information from lawmakers because of the report. ''Congress does have an important oversight role,'' he said.
Before the program began, the NSA typically limited its domestic surveillance to foreign embassies and missions and obtained court orders for such investigations. Overseas, 5,000 to 7,000 people suspected of terrorist ties are monitored at one time.
''This is Big Brother run amok,'' declared Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., called it a ''shocking revelation'' that ''ought to send a chill down the spine of every senator and every American.''"

» Top 10 hurdles for Microsoft in '06 | Between the Lines |

Microsoft has the talent, cash and marketplace presence to win if they can execute on Ray Ozzie's strategy.


December 15, 2005

Bush Secretly Lifted Some Limits on Spying in U.S. After 9/11, Officials Say - New York Times

Bush Secretly Lifted Some Limits on Spying in U.S. After 9/11, Officials Say - New York Times

To his credit, Bush did what was needed to thwart terrorists and their sympathizers. He made the correct decision. Some think this terrorism threat is an intellectual exercise. Wake up, people. It is a war. God forbid that a nuke would be exploded by these terrorist bastards. We need to do all we can to prevent it.

I'm not concerned that my privacy is threatened. I value my security.

Illinois Court Overturns $10 Billion Tobacco Verdict - New York Times

Illinois Court Overturns $10 Billion Tobacco Verdict - New York Times:

This is a good decision. The best part is that prosecution lawyers will not reap obscene fees from a bad decision. Hopefully, it will stand the test of a Supreme Court appeal.

These frivolous lawsuits brought by get-rich attorneys who bet on the come deserve to be thrown out.

"'We conclude that the F.T.C. could, and did, specifically authorize all United States tobacco companies to utilize the words 'low,' 'lower,' 'reduced' or like qualifying terms, such as 'light,' so long as the descriptive terms are accompanied by a clear and conspicuous disclosure of the tar and nicotine content in milligrams of the smoke produced by the advertised cigarette,' Justice Rita B. Garman wrote for a majority of the state Supreme Court."

The Holy Capitalists - New York Times

The Holy Capitalists - New York Times:

Insights and theories why some peoples and cultures prosper while others stagnate, retrogress or fail.

"These innovations and discoveries, Stark argues, were not made by the newly secular, but by people who had a distinctly Christian sense of the sacred. Catholic theology had taught them that God had created the universe according to universal laws that reason could discover. It taught that knowledge and history moves forward progressively, so people should look to the future, not the past.

The church recognized the dignity of free labor at a time when most other cultures did not. It valued private property and emphasized the essential equality of human beings despite their unequal incomes and stations.

This history is important today. (And not only because Albertus Magnus knew more about reconciling faith and reason 700 years ago than the bogus culture warriors do now.) It's important because whether we are dealing with poverty around the world or at home, it is not enough to simply liberate people and assume they will automatically pursue economic prosperity. People need to be instilled with certain beliefs, like the belief that the future can be better than the present and that individuals have the power to shape their own destiny.

Ideas and culture drive civilizations. The Catholic Church nurtured one of the most impressive economic takeoffs in human history. Today, as Catholicism spreads in Africa and China, it's important to understand the beliefs that encourage people to work hard and grow rich." - Startup Readies Long-Lasting Fuel Cell - Startup Readies Long-Lasting Fuel Cell

Is this too good to be true?

Federal Loans to Homeowners Along Gulf Lag - New York Times

Federal Loans to Homeowners Along Gulf Lag - New York Times:

When should a loan become a grant? If the standards change and $Billions in grants are made, how will those grants be funded? A tough problem. I wonder if loans are denied because rebuilding in place merely exposes the property to similar devastation the next time a Cat4 hurricane roars through?

"The high rejection rate and the slow processing of applications are causing concern among government officials, academic experts and homeowners. Many say the problem undermines government pledges of aid, embodied by President Bush's promise in September to 'do what it takes' to help citizens rebuild"

December 14, 2005

A Vote of Confidence in Wikipedia

A Vote of Confidence in Wikipedia

Business Week gives Wikipedia a vote of confidence. So do scientists for the accuracy of its science entries.

In the long term Wikipedia is a winner, hands down, compared to any print encyclopedia. This is not 'mob rule,' enough smart people will keep the wiki content current, accuate and relable. The critical variables are talent and time.

Here's another view of the Wikipedia controversy:

The academy vs. open source by ZDNet's Dana Blankenhorn -- Letting the light in is not anarchy. A demand of consensus is not mob rule. It's the scientific method in action.

December 13, 2005

Live Web - Consumers to Producers

Doc Searls defines the live Web. Are we adolescents on the Web yet or still in diapers?

Searls@Syndicate on 'The live Web' by ZDNet's David Berlind -- I'm here at the Syndicate Conference in San Francisco. The show was kicked-off with a short keynote by conference chairperson (and blogger-extraordinnaire) Doc Searls. Searls led off by talking about how his book -- The Cluetrain Manifesto -- is one of his more significant accomplishments that's still popular six years after it was published, yet, [...]

Stanley Tookie Williams, Crips Gang Co-Founder, Is Executed - New York Times

Stanley Tookie Williams, Crips Gang Co-Founder, Is Executed - New York Times

Gov. Schwarzenegger made the right, albeit tough, decision. After 24 years of legal proceedings, the basis for Arnold's decison came down to this excerpt from the Governor's statement:

"The basis of Williams' clemency request is not innocence. Rather, the basis of the request is the "personal redemption Stanley Williams has experienced and the positive impact of the message he sends." But Williams' claim of innocence remains a key factor to evaluating his claim of personal redemption. It is impossible to separate Williams' claim of innocence from his claim of redemption."

In other words, if he denies his crimes against all the facts in evidence, is he truly redeemed? Where is repentance for his crime?

If society's laws contain the death penalty and it was levied for a crime committed by a person, then it must be enforced if it has any relevance. Many would argue that the death penalty is not appropriate in a civilized society, frequently because some innocent people are executed. These are the imperfections of humanity. If one argues against the death penalty in an evil world, what should be the consequences to the perpetrator of the most heinous crimes? Is life imprisonment a worse or lesser punishment than death?

Of course, this drama would be incomplete without that publicity hound, Jesse Jackson, showing up as he does at any national event involving black people that he thinks will will gain him favor. I wonder what Jackson's view of right and wrong is. Is it Biblical or is it political?

"The Rev. Jesse Jackson, who joined several hundred protestors at San Quentin and visited Mr. Williams twice Monday, said he had been the first person to tell Mr. Williams about the governor's decision, which most people had agreed was to be the final word on his fate, despite the last minute legal appeals."

Europe Expected to Require Keeping of Phone-Call Data - New York Times

Europe Expected to Require Keeping of Phone-Call Data - New York Times:

Can America be next? My guess is that in America we already keep these records. For what period, I'm not certain.

"The version of the law that Parliament will vote on Wednesday was written by Britain. It would require phone companies to keep information like the time of phone calls or fax transmissions, the phone numbers of incoming and outgoing calls and the duration of the calls for at least two years. Details of e-mail activity would have to be stored for a minimum of six months.

Under existing Europe-wide data protection laws, companies are permitted to store this information only as long as it is needed for billing purposes, usually a month or two.

Representatives of fixed-line and mobile phone companies, Internet service providers and cable companies have joined forces to try to persuade Parliament to vote against the law.

They say it would be ineffective in tracking terrorists' e-mail communications because suspects could simply sign up with e-mail providers based outside Europe. Storing all e-mail, including spam, would not help catch terrorists, they say, but it might encourage Europeans to move their e-mail accounts to a non-European service provider.

The industry's main worry, however, is cost. It estimates that telecommunications companies would have to store 50 times the data they do now. There is no provision under the draft law to compensate phone companies and Internet providers."

December 12, 2005

Christmas Tree

This is a Christmas Tree. Others may call it a Holiday Tree or a Hanukkah bush or a Yule tree. But to me it's a Christmas tree.

December 11, 2005

The Next Retirement Time Bomb - New York Times

The Next Retirement Time Bomb - New York Times:

What this piece fails to explain is the interplay between Medicare and the public employee health care obligations. Should we assume that the obligations are reduced when a person is Medicare eligible?

When this problem and all the others concerning failing pensions, escalating health care costs, the demographic whammy of a declining birth rate (who's going to pay the future?) bill and the Baby Boomer retirement bubble are taken together show a real crisis ahead and our Congress has no realistic plan to solve it.

The 2008 elections may/should swing on this issue and Congresspeople should be put to the test in their own states on it when they campaign for election.

"Off the government balance sheets - out of sight and out of mind - those obligations have been ballooning as health care costs have spiraled and as the baby-boom generation has approached retirement. And now the accounting rulemaker for the public sector, the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, says it is time for every government to do what Duluth has done: to come to grips with the total value of its promises, and to report it to their taxpayers and bondholders.

The board has issued a new accounting rule that will take effect in less than two years. It has not yet drawn much attention outside specialists' circles, but it threatens to propel radical cutbacks for government retirees and to open the way for powerful economic and social repercussions. Some experts are warning of tax increases, or of an eventual decline in the quality of public services. States, cities and agencies that do not move quickly enough may see their credit ratings fall. In the worst instances, a city might even be forced into bankruptcy if it could not deliver on its promises to retirees.

'It's not going to be pretty, and it's not the fault of the workers,' said Mayor Bergson, himself a former police officer from Duluth's sister city of Superior, Wis. 'The people here who've retired did earn their benefits.'

The new accounting rule is to be phased in over three years, with all 50 states and hundreds of large cities and counties required to comply first. Those governments are beginning to do the necessary research to determine the current costs and the future obligations of their longstanding promises to help pay for retirees' health care. Local health plans vary widely and have to be analyzed one by one. No one is sure what the total will be, only that it will be big."

December 10, 2005

BuzzMachine » Blog Archive » The last presses: Now Donald Graham joins in

The print newspapers, at least the Washington Post, are getting the picture. Their days of paper and ink are numbered and their demise will probably track the death rate of those now on Medicare.

The BIG question remaining is who will pay to gather news and what's the business model after Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, et al absorb all the advertisers.

Can Mommy Know Best? - New York Times

Can Mommy Know Best? - New York Times
I can't stand this Dowd babe. She is bright, a clever writer, but weird. She has a virulent hatred for Bush and thinks the world revolves around liberal feminist issues. I think she needs to get a life, perhaps move to middle America and see how common people live and what they think is important.

Who anchors broadcast news shows becomes more irrelevant daily as their viewership plummets.

Perhaps Ms Dowd would like a shot at an anchor job or is she too old?

O Fight, All Ye Faithful - New York Times

O Fight, All Ye Faithful - New York Times

Tierney has some fun with this penchant for "Happy Holidays" that the public sector and too many others seem to embrace. It's obvious to me that we've moved too deeply into the politically correct mudhole of 'no offense' and no religion in the public square.

A couple of days ago I attended my grandaughter's "Winter Concert" at Williston Central School. The stage was bedecked in crisp winter fashion with large gift wrapped boxes labeled "Happy Holidays" and snowflakes projected with spotlights as a stage backdrop. The paper program handed out contained all sorts of cute neutral winter icons like showmen, sleds, snowflakes, etc. The bright children playing their band instruments and the chorus singing mostly in tune performed as well as fifth and sixth graders can be expected to but, alas, no carols.

The obvious missing ingredient was Christmas. No carols, no recognition of the religious holiday season. No Kwanzaa, no Hanukkah, No Christmas. Only the neutered, secular 'offend no one' bland pablum was served.

What has become or our real culture and traditions? We are in a cultural swamp afraid of lawsuits and lawyers. What a terrible gray tasteless glob of mush we have made of our Christmas culture.

The whole affair made me want to find the liveliest, most Spirit-filled Christian church I could to celebrate the miracle of Jesus' birth with psalms, praises, and hymns of glory.

Our culture should celebrate its spiritual dimension, not repress it. The ACLU members and those of similar organizations who would deprive us of the spiritual nature of man in our culture should be banished to the dark recesses of a dusty, bland law library from Thanksgiving until the Feast of Epiphany.

Merry Christmas, everyone! If you prefer Happy Holidays, go find someone in the ACLU or in the liberal wing of the Vermont Bar Association.

Lieberman's Iraq Stance Brings Widening Split With His Party - New York Times

Lieberman's Iraq Stance Brings Widening Split With His Party - New York Times

Stay the course, Joe. You're a man of honest conviction first and a Democrat second. The Times will continue to exploit the differences in your views on Iraq and theirs.

I wonder, did you offer your Nov. 30 OpEd in the WSJ to the Times first or not?

December 9, 2005

Fretful Passenger, Turmoil on Jet and Fatal Shots - New York Times

Fretful Passenger, Turmoil on Jet and Fatal Shots - New York Times

This report seems to report only witness and relatives' input and to its credit does not attempt to second guess the actions of the marshals.

Based on what I have learned, they seem to have done exactly the right thing. I'm glad we have them.

A thought: I wonder what their traing is to prevent them being overpowered on an aircraft and their weapon stolen by a terrorist or a group of terrorists?

New Surveys Show That Big Business Has a P.R. Problem - New York Times

New Surveys Show That Big Business Has a P.R. Problem - New York Times

The antipathy for big companies is the result of three things: 1./ those few crooked bastards like Ebbers of the old Worldcom and the Rigas crooks who treated Adelphia as their personal bank and country club; and, 2./the outrageous and unwarranted salaries and bonuses many CEOs pay themselves or that they receive in a merger or buyout; and 3./ the feelings of victimization that many Americans have come to accept from anything larger than themselves, painting anything 'big and powerful' as 'against' them.

December 8, 2005

The Party of Sam's Club

The Party of Sam's Club

I have not read all of this, but it seems to signal a clear need for conservatives to get their policy act together and continue to supply reasons for people to vote for them.

BBC NEWS | Africa | Zimbabwe in meltdown - UN envoy

BBC NEWS | Africa | Zimbabwe in meltdown - UN envoy

Here's another crazy man in Africa in another failed African state. Is there no hope for sub-Saharan Africa? I find none. Why would the world pour money into Zimbabwe with leadership of this ilk? The country is in tatters yet they have a fool as president for life who does everything possible to grind his country into the dust. - Iran leader: Move Israel to Europe - Dec 8, 2005 - Iran leader: Move Israel to Europe - Dec 8, 2005:

The world is dealing with a crazy man leading Iran. He and that leadership cannot be trusted and must never be allowed to have nukes.

"'Some European countries insist on saying that Hitler killed millions of innocent Jews in furnaces and they insist on it to the extent that if anyone proves something contrary to that they condemn that person and throw them in jail,' IRNA quoted Ahmadinejad as saying.

'Although we don't accept this claim, if we suppose it is true, our question for the Europeans is: is the killing of innocent Jewish people by Hitler the reason for their support to the occupiers of Jerusalem?' he said."

Running Out of Steam - New York Times

Running Out of Steam - New York Times:

Another poignant analysis by David Brooks.

"[...]The good news is that we are about to enter a political season with no obvious conservative standard bearer, leaving plenty of room for innovation. Also, the current conservative crisis has produced some new thinking. A few weeks ago, two young writers, Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam (my former assistant), unveiled a fresh conservative agenda in a Weekly Standard essay called 'The Party of Sam's Club.' These writers, 26 and 25 years old, are closer to the future than the party leaders.

And the final bit of good news for the right is the left. No matter how serious the conservative crisis is, liberals remain surpassingly effective at making themselves unelectable."

Economy Lifts Bush's Support in Latest Poll - New York Times

Economy Lifts Bush's Support in Latest Poll - New York Times

Polls are strange animals. Pollsters can be even stranger. One should always be wary of polls, any poll, because the questions asked, the order in which they are asked make all the difference. Having said that, it's good to see that Bush's grades are improving.

As to Iraq, my guess is that any 'timetable for withdrawal' has everything to do with the runup to the 2008 elections and it should never be announced until it begins to happen.

Meanwhile, our economy must continue to hum and Congress must restrain deficit spending.

I predict our 2008 elections will be all about entitlements and healthcare, not the war.

Yahoo Phone Service - New York Times

Yahoo Phone Service - New York Times

Continuing pressure on the wireline telcos. I recall a dozen or so years ago when I was a manger at NYNEX asking the officers of the corporation: What's our Internet strategy? Not receiving an answer, I assumed then they didn't have one. It's becoming clear now that the strategy is to be a digital access company offering various transport, voice and data services. But I could say that's Google's mission, too.

December 7, 2005

Waning era of the middle-class factory job |

Waning era of the middle-class factory job |

Wages at this level for manufacturing jobs are not sustainable. Many factors contribute including concessions to labor unions to prevent costly stikes enabled by the golden years of profitability for the auto industry. Globalization and competitive companies in other parts of the world with lower wages have eroded this compensation for factory workers.

Underlying the historical resiliency of Americans is our education and training system which gives workers the chance to retool themselves. This is the only realistic answer for people displaced in the world we inhabit. Protectionism and artificial trade barriers will not prevail. Individual initiative and help from government and employers is the only realistic answer.

"Today, hourly manufacturing pay in Flint remains extraordinarily high, $31 an hour - nearly twice the national average.

But fewer have those jobs today. Per capita incomes in this city have fallen below the US norm, and could fall further still as the auto industry goes through its next phase of cuts.

A coming restructuring plan at Ford Motor Co. will match GM in job cuts, eliminating 30,000 positions within five years, according to a report in Wednesday's Detroit News that cited people familiar with the plan.Delphi CEO Robert S. 'Steve' Miller has said drastic action is needed for domestic industry to remain competitive."

Democrats in Disarray Over Iraq Policy

I have listened to the news and the statements of the Democrat leaders Pelosi, Kerry, Dean, Murtha and others and I have concluded that they have no clue what should be done in Iraq different from what we are now doing.

Based on their recent staements, I conclude that their strategy is 'cut and run' or immediate withdrawal. They would describe it in different political terms, but what they are saying proves they are a party who cannot be trusted with the security of this country. Some Democrats are reasonable and understand the stakes in the war on terror. People like Joe Lieberman 'get it.' The radical left wing of the party...people like Pelosi, Dean, Kerry, Biden and Kerry cannot be trusted with the security 0f the United States. I find it interesting that Kennedy and Biden have been relatively quiet these past weeks while Murtha, Pelosi and Kerry seem to be carrying the left wing water.

The republicans have the opportunity to gain political advantage on this Democrat weakness. Will they?

Meanwhile, the economy is good and getting better thanks in part to the Bush tax cuts. The downside is we have large deficits and growing debt and a massive trade imbalance that will someday come to haunt us.

Air Marshal Shoots and Kills Passenger at Miami Airport - New York Times

Air Marshal Shoots and Kills Passenger at Miami Airport - New York Times

The air marshal who shot and killed this person did exactly the right thing, based on the facts that have been reported. If he was mentally ill, if he was bipolar and not taking his medication...information available after the incident... do not provide a viable rationale for not shooting this person. The air marshal(s) did exactly what I would have wanted him to do.

Good work, guys.

December 6, 2005

Supreme Court Hears Case of Recruiters on Campuses - New York Times

Supreme Court Hears Case of Recruiters on Campuses - New York Times

This case is really quite simple. If universities or law schools wish to receive federal money, they must allow military recruiters and ROTC on campus. What's so hard to understand about that?

If universities don't wish to embrace military recruiters and ROTC, then they will receive no federal dollars. This is a very easy decision for both the universities and the Supreme Court. No military, no dollars. End of story

Liberal universities that reject the military, a bulwark of democracy, deserve no federal funding.

Rumsfeld Says the Media Focus Too Much on Negatives in Iraq - New York Times

Rumsfeld Says the Media Focus Too Much on Negatives in Iraq - New York Times:

Rumsfeld is right. By and large, the media in this country are biased against war generally and this war in particular and exerts that bias often in coverage and analysis of the Iraq war. If this isn't true, why do we not see features which cover the rebuilding efforts that are ongoing and successful?

Then we have Vermont's former Governor, Dr. Dean, making these statements: Democratic Chairman Howard Dean on Monday likened the war in Iraq to Vietnam and said, ''The idea that the United States is going to win the war in Iraq is just plain wrong,'' comments that drew immediate fire from Republicans.

In an interview with WOAI-AM in San Antonio, Dean criticized what he called President Bush's ''permanent commitment to a failed strategy'' while saying, ''We need to be out of there and take the targets off our troops back.'' Dean recalled that the strategy to stay the course in Vietnam cost thousands more lives to be lost. (quoted from NY Times 12/6 AP story)

Rummy's comment:

"'We've arrived at a strange time in this country where the worst about America and our military seems to so quickly be taken as truth by the press, and reported and spread around the world, often with little context and little scrutiny, let alone correction or accountability after the fact,' he said in a speech at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies."

Goodbye, Moon - New York Times

Goodbye, Moon - New York Times

Hilarious! A great parody on the 'protect everybody from everything' mania that has been loose in our country for too long.

Verizon to Halt Pension Outlay for Managers - New York Times

Verizon to Halt Pension Outlay for Managers - New York Times:

This is a big deal for Verizon. This fundamental change in the way pension benefits are provided to managers at Verizon signals a tough union bargaining road ahead for the core wireline business. When a company as large as Verizon takes this step, we can expect to see other companies do the same because healthy companies see the handwriting on the wall. 1./ they cannot afford to be out of step with their competitors regarding labor costs. 2./ As other company pension plans fail and are taken over by the federal government's PBGC, the premiums paid by healthy companies to support failed plans are likely to increase.

Kudos to Ivan Seidenberg for taking this important step yet extraordinarily difficult and unpopular step while Verizon remains healthy.

USAToday has a good analysis of the defined benefit pension problem.

"With the changes announced yesterday, Verizon's managers will receive pension benefits more in line with those given to the 53,000 workers at Verizon Wireless, the company's mobile phone subsidiary, which is not unionized. Only a tiny portion of MCI's workers are unionized and employees there are offered only 401(k) retirement plans.
Verizon said that it would freeze the defined benefit plans of its managers after June 30, 2006. Managers will also receive an additional one-time contribution to their pension plans equal to the amount Verizon would have contributed during an 18-month period.
The money already set aside for retirement will continue to accrue interest for workers with certain plans.
After July 1, Verizon will match every dollar managers contribute to their 401(k) up to 6 percent of their salary. Verizon may raise its match to $1.50 for every $1 contributed by the employee if the company reaches certain financial targets.
Verizon currently matches up to the first 5 percent of an employee's salary. Many other companies do not match employees' contributions dollar-for-dollar."

December 5, 2005

Growing pains for Wikipedia | CNET

Growing pains for Wikipedia | CNET

More on the Wikipedia debate and the issue of accountability and authority in an open source world. I still firmly believe in the long term that This model can work, but it will require some way to verify, with accountability, the factual correctness of posts.

Here's what the International Herald Tribune has to say about the latest inaccuracy.

At Traditional Phone Companies, Jobs May Not Last a Lifetime - New York Times

At Traditional Phone Companies, Jobs May Not Last a Lifetime - New York Times:

No doubt about the the fact that upheaval in the telecom infrastructure business is having a huge employment impact. But this statement below by an academic is just plain wrong. Less regulation in this sector has been the recent history. Stable industries with vast economic impact with little competition produce more regulation. Hogendorn has it wrong in the short term. In the long term, if a small oligopoly develops in this important sector, more regulation may occur, but this is unlikely as technology, particularly wireless technology gallops forward.

"'In the end there is going to be more regulation, not less,' said Christiaan Hogendorn, who teaches the economics of technology at Wesleyan University. 'Every infrastructure industry starts with lots of competition and then as competitive issues come up, we get more regulation.'"

Verizon May Sell or Spin Off Directory Division Next Year - New York Times

The BIG question is who will be the buyer for Verizon Information Services. The sale makes long-term sense for Verizon, particularly with falling revenue at the unit, but that makes it a buyer's advantage as to sale price. What will happen to the stock price of VZ before and after after a sale?

December 4, 2005

Leonella and the Lamb


Carol's latest Minidale for auction on eBay.

Details Emerge on a Brazen Escape in Afghanistan - New York Times

Details Emerge on a Brazen Escape in Afghanistan - New York Times

Seems the U.S. suffered an embarrassing and dangerous mess by the escape of these prisoners. The full facts are obviously not yet known, but for this to happen is a flagrant breach of security.

December 3, 2005

Greenspan Points to Danger of Rising Budget Deficits - New York Times

Greenspan Points to Danger of Rising Budget Deficits - New York Times:

Greenspan is absolutely correct. Fiscal discipline is an American weak point. We simply cannot continue to fund our economy with foreign debt and little or no personal savings that can create a pool of investment capital.

When the baby boom folks hit retirement en masse, we simply will not be able to afford the costs without reducing spending elswhere. Where is our national leadership? Bush, to his credit, attempted to start the movement by reform of Social Security. Congressional leaders were unwilling to back a legitimate effort to fix the problem. Shameful!

"The nation's budget problems will not be solved just by enacting new rules, Mr. Greenspan added. 'The fundamental fiscal issue is the need to make difficult choices among budget priorities,' he said, and 'this need is becoming ever more pressing in light of the unprecedented number of individuals approaching retirement age.'

Baby boomers will start retiring in 2008, Mr. Greenspan noted, putting stress on Social Security. In addition, the 'soaring cost of medical care' for the aging population will place 'enormous demands on our nation's resources.'

He said he did not believe that major increases in taxes were the solution.

'Tax increases of sufficient dimension to deal with our looming fiscal problems arguably pose significant risks to economic growth and the revenue base,' he said, adding that the government should seek to 'close the fiscal gap primarily, if not wholly, from the outlay side.'"

December 2, 2005

Wikipedia and the nature of truth | Perspectives | CNET

Wikipedia and the nature of truth | Perspectives | CNET

A fascinating question is posed here on the nature of knowledge and truth. Is the collective wisdom of the group/crowd sufficient for discerning worldly fact and truth and reporting it accurately? There's a strong argument to be made on both sides of the debate.

Experts in particular fields have heretofore written and edited encyclopedias. Timeliness and coverage was always a problem with the printed version creating a business model that included annual updates. But we generally believed that accuracy was assured as best as humans are able be cause there was a financial/ethical incentive to be correct

The same expertise can be brought to bear in the Wikipedia model, but the only accountability for accuracy is random editing by other experts and wannabes. Is the 'public good' sufficient incentive for people to freely build and encyclopedia that is always the best in the world's this enough to assure users that what they read and reference is the best?

It may be too early to know because Wikipedia, though robust, remains in its infancy as a trusted source.

Here's the New York Times take on false postings in Wikipedia.

In the longer term, I think the open source Wikipedia model will prevail for the public good.

"On your ride home today, try pondering a future where Wikipedia's model of competing versions of the truth becomes the norm. Will the increasing influence of the wisdom of the crowd force us to rethink the nature of knowledge? With the proliferation of the Internet, more voices inevitably will become part of that conversation.

You can argue that epistemological revisionism goes on all the time. As a kid, I remember thumbing through a 1920s encyclopedia when I found a discussion of different racial categories. Someone reading the entry decades later would have found the assertions in that article to be nonsensical, if not borderline racist. But when the book was published, the people who might have corrected the record had no power over the publishing company printing up the product line. With the Internet, anyone with an online connection can chime in."

December 1, 2005

Senator Joe Lieberman: News Release

Here is a rational, thoughtful view of the situation in Iraq from a senator who has visited several times, unlike the bullshit political rhetoric we hear from the likes of Kerry, Pelosi, Dean and other Democrat leaders.

I have always deeply respected Joe Lieberman for his positions on the issues. He is a true American, first, and a Democrat second. He deserves to be re-elected to the Senate. I intend to support him financially. Listen to him. He gets it.

Here's why I have tremendous respect for him:

"...It is a war between 27 million and 10,000; 27 million Iraqis who want to live lives of freedom, opportunity, and prosperity and roughly 10,000 terrorists who are either Saddam revengists,” Iraqi Islamic extremists, or al-Qaeda foreign fighters, and know their wretched causes will be set back if Iraq becomes free and modern. They are intent on stopping this by instigating a civil war that will produce the chaos that will allow Iraq to replace Afghanistan as the base for their fanatical war-making in the Islamic world. We are fighting on the side of the 27 million because the outcome of this war is critically important to the security and freedom of America. If the terrorists win, they will be emboldened to strike us directly again and to further undermine the growing stability and progress in the Middle East, which has long been a major American national and economic security priority...

The full piece in the WSJ.

Why hasn't the MSM picked up on his views rather than on the 'get out now proponents?' If there ever was a spotlight on the liberal, Democratic, left-leaning media bias, it's now. Pay attention, people, so as not to be led by the liberal bias of of most MSM.

Stay the course, Joe. You're right!!

November 30, 2005

Poisonings From a Popular Pain Reliever Are Rising - New York Times

Poisonings From a Popular Pain Reliever Are Rising - New York Times

A nasty outcome of our American drug (legal and illegal) culture. However, I note in the article that nearly half of the reported liver failures are due to suicidal overdoses using "handfuls" of drugs.

November 29, 2005

Simple Explanation of Long Term Care Insurance

An excerpt from a Fidelity online newsletter.

"...The need for long-term care is based on a person's cognitive abilities and/or a decreased ability to perform a specific number of what are called activities of daily living, such as: dressing, bathing, eating, toileting, continence, and transferring (getting in and out of bed, the bathtub, chairs). When it becomes too difficult to perform two or more of these functions on your own, long-term care insurance pays benefits that help pay for the assistance needed.

How much do you need?
A good starting point is to look at long-term care costs in your area, as they vary widely. For example, average nursing home costs are $36,135 in Shreveport, La., but $113,880 in New York City, with a current national average of $70,000, according to CareScout, a Massachusetts company that specializes in elder care provider databases.

For example, to pay the current national average cost of nursing home care, you'd need about $5,800 a month in benefits. And the cost of nursing home care is almost sure to rise over time. Many policies provide benefits that escalate to account for inflation, which may be worth considering, since it is possible you may not use long-term care insurance right away, if at all.

"Think of a policy as a pool of benefits," explains Miller. "For example, if you have a policy that pays a maximum benefit of $5,500 a month for five years, you have a total benefit amount of $330,000—so if you spend less, it will last longer. Spend more and it will run out sooner...""

Net phone operators reach E911 deadline | Tech News on ZDNet

Net phone operators reach E911 deadline | Tech News on ZDNet

I have little sympathy for the VoIP providers. If they offer telephone service for a price, they should be required to offer 911 because it is considered part of basic telephone service. The FCC is right to demand compliance.

Reading X-Rays in Asbestos Suits Enriched Doctor - New York Times

Reading X-Rays in Asbestos Suits Enriched Doctor - New York Times

A keen piece of investigative reporting that shines a light on a possible scam in the asbestos damage claim industry.

Here's an idea for another investigative report. What is the % of damage claims in the U.S. that goes to plaintiffs attorneys in these huge litigation cases. I'd guess it's >35%.

Money Is There to Aid Rural Internet, but Loans Are Hard to Get - New York Times

High speed Internet service to everyone is the 'holy grail' of telecom these days. But to make that happen will require $Billions more in infrastructure. The Department of Agriculture loan program, akin to the REA of last century, is a reasonable way to proceeed, but the last thing needed is poor management of that big honeypot with loan defaults ("...$30.4 million in loans for high-speed Internet access, or broadband, are in default now").

November 28, 2005

What Google Should Roll Out Next: A Privacy Upgrade - New York Times

Privacy may turn out to be Google's soft under belly.

"Google says it needs the data it keeps to improve its technology, but it is doubtful it needs so much personally identifiable information. Of course, this sort of data is enormously valuable for marketing. The whole idea of 'Don't be evil,' though, is resisting lucrative business opportunities when they are wrong. Google should develop an overarching privacy theory that is as bold as its mission to make the world's information accessible - one that can become a model for the online world. Google is not necessarily worse than other Internet companies when it comes to privacy. But it should be doing better."

Thanksgiving Turkey Carvers

Son Karl and Scott Barnet, Karl's brother-in-law, preparing to carve the Thanksgiving turkey.

Just Try to Sleep Tight. The Bedbugs Are Back. - New York Times

One more thing to worry about...bedbugs.

Great for Craigslist but Not for Newspapers - New York Times

Online advertising growth portends the inexorable decline of print newspaper revenue. How will small local newspapers make up the difference? Will they increase subscription rates or somehow join the online classifieds fray themselves.

November 27, 2005

Calling Out the Cable Guy - New York Times

The Telcos are making big bets that they can capture a profitable share of the cable companies' customers while preventing defectors to the cablecos. It's a big bet to invest billions in fiber to the home, acquire the programming/content at a reasonable price to fend off the competition, and deliver wireless broadband, too.

This is a huge bet that people will choose broadband fiber or broadband wireless from the telcos rather than from the cablecos. Blogs From the Road - New York Times Blogs From the Road - New York Times

At the end of this article several travel blogging sites are listed with a brief description of their features.

November 25, 2005

States' Coffers Swelling Again After Struggles - New York Times

You don't suppose the tax cuts had something to do with this do you? Why is the economy humming along so well? Is Federal spending juicing he economy?

Why don't we hear the Democrats saying the economy is good? Smart Republicans running for election in 2006 should tout the economy, assuming it remains strong for the next year.

The looming cloud I see is the enormous deficits and the national debt. There will be a time topay the piper when Medicare and Social Security costs gallop skyward when the Baby Boomers retire in force.

November 24, 2005

Which Plan? The Answers Are Out There - New York Times

Competition and many choices do not always provide the easiest path to decision-making. The Medicare PArt D drug plans are numerous and their prices continue changing. My coverage includes Merck/Medco which seems a better alternative as long as I continue to receive medications by mail.

November 23, 2005

George Bush's Third Term - New York Times

I don't agree with all Thomas has written here, but I do agree that this Administration and this Congress had better stop dithering and get it's high priority issues on the agenda for real action. Here they are (energy crisis, the deficit, health care, climate change and Social Security.) as Friedman quotes another author:

"We are entering the era of hard choices for the United States - an era in which we can't always count on three Asian countries writing us checks to compensate for our failure to prepare for a hurricane or properly conduct a war," said David Rothkopf, author of "Running the World: The Inside Story of the National Security Council and the Architects of American Power."

Given that we can't do everything at once, Bush needs to collaboratively decide with other leaders in this country what issues have priority. The issues above will take at least one or two decades to resolve, if the crises wait that long.

Why the United States Should Look to Japan for Better Schools - New York Times

Mr. Staples may be right, but here are some realities to be faced in the U.S. if we were to attempt radical change:

In the U.S. we do not have a culture of learning Our pop culture is focused on sports and entertainment

Education funding is a patchwork affair given the historic and Constitutional 'states rights' legacy

We spend too much on educational process with little positive incentive for good outcomes

Teachers' unions are focused primarily on their members' financial welfare and only secondarily on teacher excellence

For a site covering education policy issues, click here

Delphi Chief Fights Battle of Detroit - New York Times

$64/hour! The good times are obviously over when the sum of all previous labor negotiations, driven in no small measure by the cost increases in health care and the desire to keep labor peace, has produced compensation for factory workers at this rate. Can it be any secret why foreign auto companies are eating the lunch of GM and the other major U.S. auto manufacturers?

"'Somebody had to do this,' Mr. Miller said in an interview last weekend. 'If I have ended up where I am, the one who has to be a leader for change, I'll keep talking.'

He is doing plenty of that. Next month, Delphi is expected to ask a federal bankruptcy judge for permission to terminate contracts paying $64 an hour in wages and benefits combined, so that it can impose sharply lower rates.

Otherwise, says Mr. Miller, a veteran turnaround expert who took over Delphi in July, all of Delphi's 34,000 hourly jobs in the United States are at risk."

Make no mistake, Miller, if he's successful will make barrels of money personally...aah, the capitalist system at work.

Ellison to pay $122 million in settlement | CNET

Trust Ellison as far as you can toss him with one hand. But can you imagine attorney's fees of $24 Million! Incredible...25% of the settlement.

What a way to get rich. File a lawsuit against billionaire. Settle for a 122 Million and walk away with tens of million is attorneys fees. What's wrong with this picture. The charities do well with a deal like this. Do you suppose the attorneys serve on the boards of the non-profits?

Cranberry Orange Relish

Cranberry Orange Relish

4 cups whole, fresh cranberries
1 whole orange (seeded, skin on)
2 cups sugar

Grind cranberries and orange together in meat grinder or food processor. Stir in the sugar and mix well. Pour into covered jars or bowl an refrigerate for at least two days before serving.

Each 1/4 cup serving contains 149 calories an 0 grams of fat.

Power Hunger Electronic Toys

112205power_chart200x430.gif (GIF Image, 200x430 pixels)

Those who argue against new power sources and new power lines will find that we cannot conserve ourselves out of the appetite for electricity generated by our electronic toys.

The Deal That Even Awed Them in Houston - New York Times

A tale of profiteering, this? Clever capitalists will always find ways to make money, but as described in this article, extraordinary profits have been made by the private equity groups who put $900 million of their capital at risk. Many factors worked to make this possible. The rapid rise in the price of natural gas coupled with the deregulation of electricity and Texas' tying the cost of electricity to the price of natural gas all contributed.

The fact that Texas produces 75% of its electricity from natural gas is a big factor in this profit.

I'm sure we don't have all the facts in this article, but those we do have should be an alert to how big money can be made when energy prices spike.

This clever statement:"This part of the deregulation process has transferred billions from ratepayers to investors," said Clarence L. Johnson, director of regulatory analysis at the Office of Public Utility Counsel, a state agency in Texas created to represent the interests of homeowners and small businesses on utility issues. "It seems extraordinary, doesn't it?" is an oversimplification and , but plays well in the political 'sound bite' arena.

November 22, 2005

Ray Ozzie: Really Simple Sharing

This is an important development form Ray Ozzie and others at Microsoft. When this specification is implemented in products, which won't be long, calendars and other applications requiring bi-directional synchronization will be a boon to people. Synching up calendars is the obvious first application, but there may be several others. Some that come to mind are draft documents residing at different sites that could be changed by multiple authors. However, Writely (in beta) does basicaly the same thing now, but requires an upload of the document to their site.

All this made so much easier with always-on broadband connections. The 'mesh' web inexorably becomes part of the fabric of life in the Internet age.

November 21, 2005

Iran Parliament Votes to Close Atomic Sites to U.N. Monitors - New York Times

Not good news. The radical Iranian leadership cannot be trusted in their quest to develop nuclear weapons.

Continental Drift - New York Times

Continental Drift - New York Times

This French philosopher seems to enjoy talking to himself since he has little to say about reality. I'm assuming the interviewer did not cut/edit the answers.

Journalist, Cover Thyself - New York Times

The media has begun 'eating their own.' Perhaps this is the way they see to make themselves pure.

November 20, 2005

The Importance of Staying With Iraq - New York Times

The Importance of Staying With Iraq - New York Times

Now is the time for American resolve in Iraq. Cutting and running as many Democrats advocate is the wrong course at this critical juncture. The Democrats think they have an election issue by calling for withdrawal. When will they stumble on the right thing to do? Withdrawal out of frustration is the wrong answer.

No one wants to see the carnage created by the terrorists, but I am not willing to give this effort over to the possibility of civil war.

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Influential family spurns Zarqawi

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Influential family spurns Zarqawi

More of this is needed in the Muslim/Arab world. The terrorists must be ostracized by family, governments and their financiers. This banishment, in concert with eradication of terrorists when found, will reduce their influence.

Network Error - New York Times

Mary Mapes, the CBS News producer fired over the "forged documents" scandal is taken over the coals by Jonathan Alter critiquing her book about the mess. (I find it deplorable that bad actors like Mapes try to turn their bad decisions into a money-making opportunity.) When will creative big-ego media people and journalists realize the world does not revolve around them?

In his critique Alter fails to examine the liberal anti-Bush bias that was the primal impetus for CBS action in the first place. It is telling that Mapes own father publicly accused his daughter of that bias.

November 19, 2005

Why Should the Boss Pay for Your Health Care? - New York Times

The only health care plan that will work in the long run is one that has the person responsible for their health and for the cost of their health care. Compensation in the form of dollars in a paycheck to help cover those costs may be very appropriate.

In essence, an employer provides real dollars to an employee and health care coverage meeting some minimum standard would be mandatory along with catastrophic coverage. Whether the government should allow a tax deuction for those health care dollars is a really tough question. I think they must unless a single payer plan existed.

For a G.M. Family, the American Dream Vanishes - New York Times

For a G.M. Family, the American Dream Vanishes - New York Times

It's true that the social contract that GM and its workers/unions had arrived at over the years is ending with a shock. There are two lessons here: 1./ Short term thinking and actions that create large future liabilities cannot be traded for labor peace and short term profits; 2./Globalization has huge ramifications particularly for industrial era companies.

We'd best understand the long term ramifications for the welfare and financial security of Americans as we offshore intellectual capital and property. I envision a not too distant time when America will not be the leader of the civilized world. Too many others want to eat our lunch.

Alito's Record Recalled - New York Times

Alito's Record Recalled - New York Times

Once again, a critical reviewer finds that attorneys generally give Alito high marks for his brains and hard work. We need the best we can get on the Supreme Court, not ideologues. Alito gives no evidence that he is an ideologue.

He should be confirmed.

Googling Literature: The Debate Goes Public - New York Times

Googling Literature: The Debate Goes Public - New York Times:

The publishers and authors are right. Any program of this sort must be 'opt in' for those holding copyrights. Copying a complete book, even though only a small amount of text would be shown in a search result jumps beyond fair use. When one considers Google's extraordinary efforts to create or have others create for them, e.g., Google Base, massive searchable databases, caution is important.

Information does want to be found, but who pays for what is the unanswered question.

"If there was any point of agreement between publishers, authors and Google in a debate Thursday night over the giant Web company's program to digitize the collections of major libraries and allow users to search them online, it seemed to be this: Information does not necessarily want to be free.

Rather, the parties agreed, information wants to be found.

But when it comes to how information will be found and who will share in the profits, the various sides remain far apart - not surprising, perhaps, since the issue has already landed in federal court.

Publishers and authors are suing Google over its Book Search program (formerly called Google Print), which lets users search for terms within volumes. Though users will see only a few lines of text related to the search term, Google is planning to digitize entire copyrighted works from the collections of three university libraries. The publishers and authors contend that without their approval, that is a violation of copyright laws"