June 30, 2007
Bleak times is what terrorists have created for themselves in Gaza. While the plight of ordinary citizens is lamentable, the world should do nothing that recognizes or strengthens the Hamas terrorists. After all, Hamas has offered the world nothing but violence and senseless, yet purposeful from their view, killing of civilians.
This is worth reading if you fear that the current public inoculation of Global Warming 'group think' by Gore et al may be dangerous to reason.
I agree that the failure of the immigration bill in the Senate is a good thing (it was much too complex to have ever been implemented), but the problem remains to be fixed. If the flow of illegal aliens across the borders, particularly the southern border, is not halted (the estimate is that nearly 1/2 million come annually) we have accomplished little in terms of the big picture. The pressure must remain to secure the borders, but does anyone think that the Bush administration or the Democrat leadership in the Congress will do anything to accomplish that now that their 'comprehensive' attempt failed? What they should do if they are really listening is insist that the present laws are followed and provide the necessary resources to do so.
What I think we'll see is many cities and towns enact laws to make it tough for illegals to be there and for employers to hire them. This will lead to court challenges, but the likely results will be that the Feds have jurisdiction, not the locals, and the Feds are not funded or equipped to deal with thousands of illegals that locals might choose to turn over to them.
What needs to happen now is for serious funding, yes, maybe more fences, to keep out illegals. Dealing with those already here is a problem that I don't see any practical solution to at this time. Do you?
Nevertheless, here's one relatively simple proposal
June 28, 2007
This is a bit long for today's soundbite generation, but read what an enlisted soldier serving in Iraq has to say about the war on terror and radical Islam. I'm so very appreciative that we have people of his caliber serving on the front lines in this war. He has thought through why he does what he does and has reached the right conclusion. God bless him.
His ending paragraph:
If anything, our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan are an attempt to push back against America's enemies and the looming darkness that threatens us. As Americans, we live in a paradise, and it is thoughtless of us to think that our freedoms exist simply because evil will never encroach upon them. We have had to secure our freedoms for over 230 years against virtually constant assaults, and will forever have to defend it against all enemies. America is truly worth fighting for. Anything short of victory in Iraq will jeopardize our freedoms and our future, and in light of all the past sacrifices made in our nation's history to preserve freedom and the future, that we cannot allow. Nothing short of victory should be acceptable.
June 25, 2007
Three cheers for the Supreme Court! The McCain-Feingold campaign finance law has always infringed on free speech and this ruling takes a chunk out of a bad law. Political speech should not be inhibited before an election. Special interest groups should be free to air their views at any time.
June 24, 2007
Someone sent Paul Potts YouTube Aria, Nessun Dorma by Puccini, to me last week and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Read the column in the Times (above) for an insightful analysis of the phenomenon and controversy surrounding it. I thoroughly enjoyed Potts' performance.
Granted, I'm no opera buff although I've attended 3-4 operas in my lifetime. (The first was in Vienna when Carol and I were travel-camping around Europe while I was in the Army. We attended the Volksopera standing and leaning against brass rails in the back the whole time at a cost of 12 cents each!) But I truly enjoyed Potts.
My grandson, Estlin, is touring China and performing with the VYO for the next two weeks. He stayed here last night and I dropped him at the airport at 5:00 am. He's really excited to be going and it will be a trip of a lifetime. Click above to read the story about the four young people from Addison County who will be among the 100 travelers.
Many of the orchestra members have been and will be blogging the trip here at http://www.youngwritersproject.org/vyo.
June 22, 2007
This opinion piece by Rick Tyler, Newt Gingrich's PR guy, is well worth the read to understand the uproar about the immigration bill now in the Senate. After listening and watching the talking heads and giving this some serious thought, I think the immigration bill, based on what I know of it, is severely flawed and should not become law. Bush, McCain and others supporting it are wrong on this issue. Here's Newt's recent ad arguing against the Senate bill supported by McCain, Kennedy, et al.
I find myself on the side of the argument that the borders must be controlled by all means possible. It's wrong that 12+ million illegals are here and a very sad commentary about our government's inability and unwillingness to control the borders for the past two decades, particularly the border with Mexico. I have driven along parts of that desert wasteland and understand the enormous difficulty in closing it to illegals. Nevertheless, it must be done before any action is taken to provide 'amnesty' for those who are here illegally.
Rather than some omnibus, take-care-of-everything-bill now, let's have a 2 step process. Step 1: Close the borders ASAP to keep more illegals out (we'll never keep them all out); Step 2: deal with the illegals already here after the border is secured by a real fence or some other means to keep them out, perhaps not by deporting them, but by NEVER granting them legal status, unless they return to their home country and apply from there for legal immigrant entry, for work or permanent residency. That's a difficult task, but if our laws are to mean anything, we should not allow them legal status without rigorous requirements. They should have no path to citizenship or permanent without gaining legal status. Amnesty is a failed solution and will only encourage more illegals to come as was the case after 1986.
This column indicates that Verizon has a clear winner in its decision to deploy fiber to the home, FIOS, signing up its millionth customer for broadband Internet access along with 500,000 TV customers. Ivan Seidenberg's team made the right technical decision, although it was originally derided by Wall Street as too costly and the stock took a corresponding hit. Wall Street was wrong and Verizon was right in the territories it targeted for deployment.
June 21, 2007
Hamas Conquest of Gaza Disturbs Arab World With Echoes of Recent Splits and Alliances - New York Times
This snapshot analysis of the present state of affairs following the Hamas victory in Gaza is worth reading. However, readers should be disturbed by the fact that the author is soft on terror groups calling them 'political Islam' rather than radical Islamic terrorists and giving them equal billing and legitimacy. This is a dangerous position for a journalist and a Western publisher to take. This strained attempt at 'objectivity' likely provides comfort to terrorist groups.
People may not be happy with Arab governments, but giving radical Islamist terror groups this spotlight shows the Times once again as soft on terror.
Another column in the Times by Cohen from the International Herald Tribune blames Israel for the Hamas mess in Gaza. What nonsense! The West is not to blame for terrorists, pure and simple.
"Wolfensohn (former President of World Bank), no dreamer, said: "I can only tell you that the Israeli closing of the Gaza borders was made with less consideration of the impact than needed. Aside from the military analysis, you have to consider the impact on a society, because social dislocation leads to anger and violence."
After a year in the job, marginalized, he slipped away. "The view on the American and Israeli side was that you could not trust the Palestinians, and the result was not to build more economic activity, but to build more barriers," Wolfensohn said. "And I personally did not think that was the way forward."
Nor do I. "Gaza first" imploded because Gaza was cut off. Intra-Palestinian mayhem ensued. Hamas has terrorist elements. But it remains more a Palestinian national than a global jihadist movement. There are members of Hamas with whom dialogue is possible. To make peace you have to get the enemy to the table."You cannot make peace with terrorists!
June 19, 2007
A not very apt headline, but an interesting and informative article in Business Week about the bounce in the telecom industry created by the meteoric rise in video traffic, now at 1/3 of the total, on the Internet. Worth a read to see how Web 2.o and video have conspired to drive things ahead.
Think about the traffic bandwidth required when HD video matures on the net!
June 18, 2007
The principle of merit pay for teachers is one I support. Although the idea seems to be gaining momentum in several places, I doubt that Vermont will be one of those places in the near future.
What the Times report doesn't state explicitly is whether the money for merit pay is carved out of the existing compensation pool for teachers or whether its an add-on to school budgets. I get the impression that its an adder, at least in the initial phases.
Vermont can ill afford higher school budgets, but I'd favor 'earmarking' some dollars that could be saved by school district consolidation to be targeted at a merit pay pool, as long as the criteria and the rules were well thought out.
The NEA seems to view merit pay as "inappropriate," probably because it's a threat to low-performing teachers who might leave the profession, thus reducing the dues received. Perhaps the union should consider a sliding scale dues structure whereby teachers making more, pay more. I wonder if the unions remained revenue neutral from dues, would they support merit pay? Why is it a benefit to the union or the profession to support continuously low-performing teachers? It's certainly not good for our children.
June 17, 2007
Maybe/maybe not. Israel had best think long and hard about destroying Gaza/Hamas. Do they really want to occupy it again and tie down so many troops?
Perhaps they should create a 'no man's land barrier on the border. If they are hit by rocket fire, they should totally destroy the area from which the rockets were fired. They should be tough as nails with Hamas in Gaza.
"So here are five questions I would encourage anyone with the opportunity to put to all the presidential candidates:
1. In their Jan. 4, 2007, letter to the Wall Street Journal, a bipartisan group including Henry Kissinger, George Schultz, William Perry and Sam Nunn state that reliance on nuclear weapons for deterrence is becoming increasingly hazardous and decreasingly effective. They propose setting the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons. Do you agree or disagree and why? Follow-ups: Would you support having the United States take the lead in ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban and Anti Ballistic Missile Treaties? Will you support/introduce legislation to eliminate funding for new nuclear weapons programs?2. Given our history with war, the many costs incurred and the questionable benefits or results, what concrete policies/steps would you take to move the United States in the world community away from war to resolve conflict?3. Do you support the principle of preemptive war for all countries?4. The United States is the largest provider of arms to the third world and developing countries. Would you support International Treaties banning small arms sales?5. How best can the United States help the Israelis and Palestinians achieve agreement on coexistence and do this in a way that builds respect with the Arab world as well as the people of Israel?As such questions are asked repeatedly, we can sharpen them and come up with effective follow-ups. But unless we push hard for honest dialogue about the values and intentions of our country, we will cede the terms of that dialogue to self-interested powers who will carefully frame the issues merely to get the most votes for one candidate, rather than the best country for 300 million citizens or the best policies for a world that desperately needs help finding non-violent solutions to conflict."
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++Missing from the analysis in the Stowe, VT writer's reasoned appeal to readers for citizens to shape the debate for Presidential candidates is the threat posed to the U.S. and Western civilization by the Radical Islamists. Jihadists and those who would toss the world back to the Middle Ages to establish their regimes pose the greatest threat. They must not be allowed under any circumstances to control nuclear weapons. Traditional methods of statesmanship and foreign policy will not work with terrorists. I have no optimism that they can be talked out of that goal because they are on a 'mission from god.' They must be prevented using all means available.
The first question for a candidate should be: To what lengths will you go to keep nuclear weapons from Iran and other terrorist groups who desire them either to use against us or our allies?
June 16, 2007
"While the violence was largely over, people worried not only about daily survival but also about how the round of deadly infighting — killing a reported 116 people — postponed hope for an independent and unified Palestinian state.This taxi driver's quote sums up the civil war in Gaza. The Palestinians continually show themselves incapable of unified self- government and building a healthy civil society. Should we expect anything more from the Hamas terrorists sponsored by Iran and other radical Islamic groups?
“These are the darkest days of my life,” said Ahmad Sawafiri, 47, a taxi driver. “What comes after all of this?
“We went backward 100 years.”
Israel did the right thing in getting out of Gaza and allowing the world to see what's really important to Palestinians. It's not peace, but power that that drives the moderate Palestinians. For Hamas, violence and hatred of Jews and the West and probably the desire for an Islamic state drives them. One might make peace with the moderates, but not with the radicals. Israel is right to avoid all negotiations with Hamas.
The West's strategy to isolate Hamas, however, will only succeed if moderate Islamic regimes can influence Hamas to abandon its terrorist mission. If that's not possible, then continued extermination of their leadership is necessary.I believe the time will come when Israel will find itself attacked simultaneously by Hezbollah and Hamas, sponsored by Iran and Syria. Let's hope they are able to deal them both a crushing defeat.
June 13, 2007
The situation is Gaza seems to be tilting toward an Hamas victory. Strange that the winner of the election in January also deems it necessary to wage war, or is it Fatah that lost the election that sarted the fighting and is now losing.
Israel wisely decided to leave Gaza in 2005 and says it will not intervene in the civil war. Hamas is committed to Israel's eradication by violent means. As long as that is true, there will be no peace. It's a sad day for the Palestinian people who wish to get on with their lives. Here's a brief BBC summary of Hamas and Fatah.
It seems the Arab world is powerless to remedy this situation. All they seem capable of doing is providing arms and $. Meanwhile, the rest of the world finds itself able incapable of much more than hand wringing.
Yesterday, NPR's Fresh Air interviewed Dennis Ross, former lead negotiator in both the Clinton and George H. W. Bush administrations. He was articulate but seemed to offer nothing more than ivory tower rhetoric. He says the Palestinians must develop a 'culture of accountability' and not see themselves as victims. Yeah, well, the spiritual underpinnings of this millennial conflict between the Jews and their enemies is at the heart of this conflict, and rational thinking does not prevail among terrorists.
Peace-making and negotiations only keep the fires simmering where now they are raging. Because Hamas leaders and fighters are radical Islamists seeking to turn back the clock to a medieval era and eliminate Israel, the only way to prevent their dominance is to kill them, as we fight radical Islam terrorists elsewhere.
June 10, 2007
Matt Bai goes to great lengths analyzing Democrat candidate Edwards' position on reducing poverty in America in this Sunday Times piece. Yet, he seems to come away unconvinced that Edwards has what it takes in terms of policy or strategy to pull it off, should he get the Democrat nomination.
I think Edwards rhetoric won't wash with the voters. He is super rich, not very bright, I think, and does not seem to have the strength of character or charisma to win. People just don't warm up to super rich lawyers, nor former high paid executives in hedge funds!
Further, poverty is not fixed by government programs. Have people forgotten Jesus' reminder* when a woman chose to honor him by pouring expensive perfume on him while his disciples argued that the expensive balm could be better used by selling it and giving the money to the poor? Edwards would also do well to remember that Jesus and his teachings inspire his followers today, probably much more than an "Edwardian anti-poverty program."
*6While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, 7a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.
8When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. "Why this waste?" they asked. 9"This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor."10Aware of this, Jesus said to them, "Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 11The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. 12When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. 13 (courtesy NIV translation of the Scriptures)
June 7, 2007
June 6, 2007
I find Photobucket particularly friendly when creating web pages for eBay and avoiding eBay photo charges. Flickr is useful to share Wooliedales with felting groups and Shutterfly is easy for enabling people to view photos in a slide show and to order prints of photos I post, if they choose.
PicasaWeb is very easy to use and with the PC based software, editing is simple and people can be permitted to download photos if they choose. The one thing I'm not supportive of is Picasa's inability to make permanent changes to photos (Picasa seems to store changes in a proprietary file and manipulate the original photo when it's displayed rather than making permanent changes in the photo). I use Paint Shop Pro, now Corel Paintshop, for all the fine tuning, as well as Paint Shop Pro Album for quick editing, framing effects and an easy way to insert text in the photo.
Inserting photos into blogs is easy either by uploading them or linking to them form another site, e.g, Photobucket.
June 1, 2007
Underneath all this is, IMHO, is a sordid tangle of unethical , if not illegal, conduct by attorneys who have enriched themselves beyond any reasonable standard. I hope the mess will not be swept under the rug, but that dirty laundry will be aired and any punishment due will administered in public trials.
Lawyers should be held to a very high standard. When they abuse their offices (to uphold the law), they deserve severe fines and other punishment.