January 29, 2005
I Couldn't Have Said It Better Myself
Michael Gene Hendrix, of the blog Cold Fury, had a post entitled Spelling it out which is worth reading.
I'm For The Privatization Of Social Security But....
Let me begin by saying that I am generally in favor of the privatization of everything the government has its fingers in, including Social Security. Governments do very few things well and investing money is certainly not one of them.
As an investor in real estate and other things, I realize that if something is out there that everyone wants and there is only so much to go around, something has got to give.
In the early 1980's the Hunt brothers tried to corner the market on silver and the price soared to around $50 per ounce. When a hurricane strikes and there is a shortage of plywood, the price across the nation soars. When there is a shortage of gasoline because of a refinery fire or pipeline problem you can be sure that the price at the pump will skyrocket in no time at all.
So what is going to happen if people need to invest their billions of dollars in the stock market? I can tell you that in the long run, it will make the price of stocks go up, and the price to earnings ratio tumble. Perhaps some of the money will find a home in emerging markets like China, India and Brazil, which would be good for those economies, but investing in emerging markets is generally very risky. It will definitely place a huge burden on stock pickers and financial planners in their efforts to remain profitable and credible.
A 1.8% return on your money may ultimately look pretty good if everyone runs out and tries to buy Fortune 500 companies with their newly privatized social security funds. I don't know if you've looked lately but returns of 5% or more are higher than most blue-chip companies currently offer, and many are around 2-3% per annum. The only saving grace may be the fact that when you die, someone will be able to inherit your account rather than forfeiting everything to the government.
It's possible that I'm all wet, but I don't believe I will be the only one soaked without some better investment alternatives.
January 27, 2005
What A Great Idea!! - HINDERAKER IN '06
The blog Benedict points out that Senator Mark Dayton is up for re-election in 2006, and suggests that John Hinderaker of the superblog Powerline run against him. John would make a wonderful senator and would undoubtedly win in a landslide. Hindrocket, John's nom de plume, says he's not interested, but if there were enough of a groundswell of support, could he refuse?
January 26, 2005
Boxer, Byrd, Kennedy, Dayton...The Democratic Mt. Rushmore - ROFLOL
After more than 9 hours, which included more than 4 1/2 hours of torturous pontification by Senate Democrats in a pathetic attempt to discredit Dr. Condoleezza Rice before the vote to confirm her as Secretary Of State, the discussion in the United States Senate has come to an end, and the nation is grateful for said end. Dr. Rice should be easily confirmed today, unless Senator Robert 'KKK' Byrd pulls something else out of his robe.
The television time that was provided to this group of arrogant air-heads must be of little consolation tonight to the Democratic brain-trust, as it became quite obvious as the day painfully crawled along that the message Senators Barbara Boxer, former Ku Klux Klan member Robert Byrd, Teddy 'Chappaquiddick' Kennedy, and Mark 'Beam-Me-Up' Dayton were attempting to deliver was old and tired. There were no new questions; no new accusations; no new revelations; and certainly no new solutions to real or imagined problems. In perhaps the funniest presentation, Barbara Boxer used charts (undoubtedly left over from Saturday Night Live) to help her shore up her petty, pitiful, partisan performance of last week. Ultimately, the words were as empty as John Kerry's pockets before he married.
No true statesmen would continue to attack Dr. Rice for lying to the American people when the senators know full well that erroneous intelligence and/or hidden WMD's are the real reasons that nothing but huge hordes of conventional weapons were found in Iraq. The pathetic portrayals of the war in Iraq as a quagmire and this generation's Vietnam belie the progress that is being made.
While watching the proceedings, I noticed that the Senators were all dressed very nicely for their face time. The only thing missing today from the Democratic Senators' sartorial splendor was their tin foil hats which, on a good day, protect the Democrats in question from being attacked by alien alpha rays that replace brain cells with creamed corn. (It is painfully obvious that Senator Dayton has forgotten his hat far too often.)
As President Bush prepares to ask for another 80 billion dollars to continue the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the unwanted expense of the war on terror and against the radical Muslims is becoming a huge strain on our dollar. However, we must not waiver. We must remain strong and determined. We must remember that we are fighting the war on terror over there and not over here where the financial and physical consequences to our great nation would be ten thousand times greater.
Congratulations Secretary Of State Rice!
Update: The U.S. Senate just approved Condoleezza Rice as Secretary Of State by a vote of 85-13. Twelve Democrats (the usual suspects) and one Independent (Jeffords - VT) voted against the nomination. The 13 votes against Dr. Rice were the most ever against a candidate for Secretary Of State. You can read more about it in this article from Bloomberg.com and this article from Voice of America News.com.
January 22, 2005
I thought that government agencies were now sharing information...
The Department Of Homeland Security has egg all over itself as it was announced by the FBI that one of the Chinese they believed might be headed to Boston with a dirty bomb has been in American custody for some time.
A Chinese woman wanted in connection with an alleged terror plot against Boston has been in U.S. custody since mid-November and has no known ties to terrorism, the FBI said Saturday.
You can read more about it in this CNN.com piece.
How long could it possibly take to match pictures of Chinese in our custody against the pictures of the supposed infiltrators? At the very least, someone should check to see who we have in custody before plastering wanted pictures all over the TV.
It appears that the problem is not just a one time glitch, but is systemic. It also appears that if you are an insider and agree with this assessment you won't be on the inside long.
Clark Ervin, the inspector general of DHS until two days after our interview, said what ABC News found in Hawaii raised serious questions about homeland security priorities.
Please read the complete December 17, 2004, article by ABC News.
I'm sure that some of the manpower used to solicit 'platinum' sponsorships for the latest 'conference' could have been diverted to cross-checking a few pictures, but Secretary Tom Ridge was apparently too busy playing big-shot to appoint someone to this task.
January 21, 2005
"Fahrenheit 9/11" - Best Movie??
There was an obvious mix-up at the People's Choice Awards where "Fahrenheit 9/11" was named the Best Movie Of The Year. Since "Fahrenheit 9/11" was up against "Shrek 2," "Spiderman 2" and "The Incredibles," the category would have been more appropriately named Best Cartoon Of The Year. I am not surprised that it won against this competition because the children who voted were quite evenly split among "Shrek 2," "Spiderman 2" and "The Incredibles," leaving the adults with child-like minds to carry the water for Mikey's "Fahrenheit 9/11."
January 17, 2005
CBS - Showing It's True Colors
Perhaps CBS should rename itself Clueless Broadcasting System 'cause they really don't get it. As reported by Broadcasting & Cable magazine, CBS Washington bureau chief Janet Leissner and CBS News President Andrew "Andy" Heyward recently met with White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett "in part to repair chilly relations with the Bush administration." The article went on to say that Heyward was anxious to make the case that that neither CBS nor Rather "had a vendetta against the White House."
You might ask: How's it going so far?
In an effort to put those words into action and show that there is not a liberal bias at CBS, Face The Nation had Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) on for the entire program Sunday morning. Brit Hume on Fox News Sunday reported that the White House requested time to respond to Senator Kennedy's sometimes unintelligible remarks, but were told 'thanks, but no thanks'.
I doubt that Dan Rather will be interviewing the President anytime soon.
An Extraordinary Week In Space
Last week, two extraordinary events happened in space exploration.
First, a missile carrying NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Wednesday, January 12, 2005. It is scheduled to encounter the comet Tempel 1 on July 4, 2005.
Deep Impact is comprised of two parts, a "fly-by" spacecraft and a smaller "impactor." The impactor will be released into the comet's path for a planned collision on July 4. The crater produced by the impactor is expected to be up to the size of a football stadium and two to 14 stories deep. Ice and dust debris will be ejected from the crater, revealing the material beneath.
You can read more about this exciting event in this press release from NASA.
Second, the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft reached its final destination - Titan, one of Saturn's very chilly moons.
Forcing Titan to surrender its secrets was a principal goal when NASA and the European and Italian space agencies launched the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft in 1997 on a voyage of exploration to Saturn, its rings and seven of its 33 known moons.
Cassini, with Huygens riding piggyback, went into orbit around Saturn last June 30, and on Christmas Eve sent the 700-pound probe on a three-week transit to Titan that culminated in a two-hour, 27-minute parachute drop to the moon's frigid surface. By early afternoon Friday, Huygens had relayed all of its information to Cassini for retransmission to the European Space Operations Centre in this Frankfurt suburb.
Guy Gugliotta, of the Washington Post, wrote about it in a very interesting article.
Hillary, Hillary, Hillary....... If It's Not One Thing, It's Another
Hillary Clinton's 2000 campaign-finance director, David Rosen, has been indicted for under-reporting the cost of an August 2000 campaign fund-raiser by approximately $700,000.
Dick Morris, in an article in the New York Post, asked the following:
The question of who understated the cost of the Hollywood event now joins the pantheon of questions that have haunted the senator's past — Who hid the billing records? Who ordered the travel office firings? Who helped Hillary to make a killing in the commodities market? Did the first lady know her brother was paid to secure a pardon for a major drug trafficker? Did Hillary represent the Madison Bank in a fraudulent real-estate deal? Who ordered the removal of the FBI files?
If young David Rosen wants to take the fall for Hillary and join the likes of Web Hubbell and Susan McDougal, who chose to languish in prison rather than tell the truth, that is his decision. But don't ask us to believe something the average 8-year-old knows can't be true — that a gain to the campaign of $280,000 was beneath Hillary's notice.
Just how thick is Hillary's teflon coating anyway?
January 12, 2005
Sandy Berger - An "Honest Mistake"
On December 3rd, 2004, I asked here whether former Clinton administration national security adviser Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger's shenanigans had slipped below the radar screen.
It was reported today that a federal grand jury had begun investigating the allegations by hearing testimony from Bruce Lindsey. Finally....
If you want to read more about it, check out the FOXNews.com article.
(I love the news clip where Mr. Berger explains that he made an "honest mistake." That's going to be Ken Lay's explanation for his part in the Enron fiasco too.)
January 11, 2005
History 101 is supposed to teach you basic historical facts and the UN's ineptitude in the 'oil for food' fiasco is history. Using this as a guide, President Bush's willingness to turn over the tsunami relief effort to the UN will accomplish one thing for sure - less of the funds earmarked for the victims will actually go to the victims. If an full accounting of the monies we contribute fffor the tsunami relief effort isn't required, Bush may be as dumb as he's portrayed. He might even demand that in order for the UN to be allowed to do this, an honest accounting of the UN 'oil for food' program in Iraq be given with all supporting documents released to the UN investigator Paul Volker and/or the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, headed by Senator Norm Coleman (MN), which has been investigating the oil-for-food program for more than eight months.
January 8, 2005
Elvis - Gone, But Not Forgotten
In honor of Elvis Presley's 70th birthday, I am posting The Top 25 Jukebox Songs Of All Time. Elvis has the number one song on the list - Can't Help Falling In Love, 4 songs in the top 25 and many more on the complete list of The Top 500 Jukebox Songs Of All Time.
1. CAN'T HELP FALLING IN LOVE - ELVIS PRESLEY
2. EARTH ANGEL - PENGUINS
3. I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND - BEATLES
4. MY PRAYER - PLATTERS
5. DON'T BE CRUEL - ELVIS PRESLEY
6. RUNAROUND SUE - DION
7. DUKE OF EARL - GENE CHANDLER
8. SIXTEEN CANDLES - CRESTS
9. UNCHAINED MELODY - RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS
10. PRETTY WOMAN - ROY ORBISON
11. MY GIRL - TEMPTATIONS
12. SINCE I DON'T HAVE YOU - SKYLINERS
13. ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK - BILL HALEY AND THE COMETS
14. AT THE HOP - DANNY AND THE JUNIORS
15. YOU'VE LOST THAT LOVIN' FEELIN' - RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS
16. YESTERDAY - BEATLES
17. THE WANDERER - DION
18. SATISFACTION - ROLLING STONES
19. IN THE STILL OF THE NIGHT - FIVE SATINS
20. JAILHOUSE ROCK - ELVIS PRESLEY
21. WHISPERING BELLS - DEL-VIKINGS
22. LOVE ME TENDER - ELVIS PRESLEY
23. WILL YOU LOVE ME TOMORROW - SHIRELLES
24. SHERRY - FOUR SEASONS
25. SHE LOVES YOU - BEATLES
January 7, 2005
What A Beautiful Day!
Our friends from Canada arrived today and, as usual, they brought some of their weather with them. This is our backyard about 10 A.M., January 7, 2005. Snow at this elevation in the desert is quite an unusual sight. I have lived in Las Vegas since 1973 and have seen it snow only 5 or 6 times, and only once has it snowed more than this. In the top picture you see Maggie watching it snow poolside, while Cassie decides if it is too cold for her delicate paws.
January 5, 2005
Carrot Or Stick?
The tragedy in Southeast Asia has begun a debate about whether the US's generosity will be appreciated or even noticed by the Muslim community and perhaps temper some of the hatred they espouse for our country and way of life. I can tell you right now that it will not. Terrorists do not respond to carrots, they only understand sticks. We could donate our entire annual GNP and the hate speech would only be amplified. We are viewed as suckers of the first degree in the third world.
We recently donated $20 million to the Palestinians so that they could pay their 'power bill', yet Qassam rocket attacks against Israeli towns and military outpost continue. The heir apparent to Yasser Arafat, Mahmood Abbas, has also repaid us handsomely by embracing Hamas and referring to the Israelis as the 'Zionist enemy' in a campaign speech in Khan Younis a couple days ago. We must demand that, before we send them our precious American dollars, the leaders of countries harboring terrorists disarm and control the troublemakers. If we don't demand compliance and accountability, we might just as well print our money with a Tootsie Roll Pop on the front instead of portraits of President Andrew Jackson and Benjamin Franklin.
Posted by Rick | January 5, 2005 10:05 PM
January 2, 2005
Chump Change For Chumps
Clarence Thomas apparently can't say no to gifts offered to him. He has accepted expensive gifts totaling over $40,000 during the past 6 years including an historical bible valued at $19,000 and an $800 NASCAR jacket. You can read more about it in the latimes.com in an article by LA Times staff writers Richard A. Serrano and David G. Savage.
Of course, this is chump change in comparison to what the Clinton's accepted on their way out of the White House in 2000. Hillary Clinton apparently fell in love with a store in Omaha, NE, owned by Warren Buffet called Borsheim's. Brian Hartman, in an article written for ABC News headlined Clintons' Gift Take Raises Ethics Questions, wrote: "Financial disclosure reports show President Clinton and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton accepted $190,027 in gifts last year — more than any previous first couple.", and he went on to say: "In the final days of their administration, Clinton supporters even took the extraordinary step of setting up an account akin to a gift registry with Borsheim's, a high-end jewelry and china dealership owned by billionaire financier Warren Buffett." (As far as I can tell, valuations were placed on the items by the recipients. A portrait of Clinton's dog was valued at $300. I must not know the right people because I can't even get a painting framed for $300 much less an original painting and frame together.)
Even Ronald Reagan was not immune from criticism when he left office. Apparently a group of his friends ponied up the money to buy a $2.5 million home for the outgoing President. The criticism was tempered somewhat because the President paid $15,000 rent per month on the property.
Dorian Benkoil, in another article for ABC News, wrote: "In describing the Clinton's acceptance of gifts given to them during their last year in office "It may not be criminal," said Daniel Schorr, a political analyst. "It may not be, even if you study it, entirely unethical. But it is their sense of terminal tackiness.""
OK, we know the Clinton’s are tacky. The point here is that the Supreme Court as the highest court in the land should be inhabited by justices, appointed to their positions for life, whose conduct is above reproach. After the tacky behavior Clarence Thomas was accused of by Anita Hill during his confirmation hearings, you would hope that he would not want to do anything that might discredit him further, but this seems not to be the case. Justice Thomas while not having done anything illegal or entirely unethical is guilty of "terminal tackiness” by accepting the gifts. Therefore, when Chief Justice William Hubbs Rehnquist steps down, I believe that Justice Thomas should not replace him.
More Tripe From The New York Times
In an article by Neil A. Lewis which The New York Times gave the headline Fresh Details Emerge on Harsh Methods at Guantánamo, it was reported that prisoners were "being shackled for hours and left to soil themselves while exposed to blaring music or the insistent meowing of a cat-food commercial. In addition, some may have been forcibly given enemas as punishment."
First, I have been told by an unreliable source not very close to the incidents in question that the music was sung by the American Idol reject William Hung. If this is true, there is no doubt that this was a violation of the Geneva Convention and the officers and enlisted personnel who engaged in this horrific treatment should be confined at Fort Leavenworth and forced to throw darts at a picture of Simon Cowell for 8 hours a day.
Second, Morris, the Meow Mix cat, should demand the Army pay him residuals for the use of his commercial.
Third, Mr. Lewis reports that some of the prisoners "may have been forcibly given enemas as punishment." My question for Mr. Lewis is: Were they or were they not....? Apparently Mr. Lewis missed the day at the ITT Tech School of Journalism when they taught that speculation is not reporting? This report is just another example of The New York Times serving tripe in an effort to encite prejudise against the USA and the military.
Mr. Lewis might consider returning to j-school to pick up a few of the courses he obviously slept through the first time. That done, his point of view might be more appreciated at Aljazeera, or, it's possible Mr. Lewis is already at Aljezeera and his current employer merely needs to change its name. How does 'Aljezeera New York - All The Propaganda That's Fit To Print' sound?