Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Bush Aimless, Out of Control - As Usual

It's been another busy week for the president, who's been trying valiantly to gain back some of the ground his bumbling administration has lost since the last election. No longer the "bubble president", he's come out punching, taking questions - can you believe it? - and making his case on Iraq to the American people. But it seems like for every step forward there's two steps back.

The Iraq elections drew millions to the polls - good! The millions voted in line with the religious and geographic identities they've had for a thousand years - bad! Some sort of unity government is the only answer, but the odds are slim that a unity will be achieved. If it's not achieved the terrorists and insurgents will have safe havens to continue attacks on our troops and the new Iraqi army and police. Look out, GWB, this issue is going to keep on simmering throughout 2006, and it could boil over with the U.S. electorate! Yet I continue to hope that it does not, much as I like to see this president's chickens come home to roost. Maybe a miracle will happen and the Iraqis will get their act together.

President Bush in his news conference this week was asked about his goals for the coming year. Talk about stumbling around! World peace and Katrina recovery, that was it, and in a rambling aimless presentation. Wouldn't have made it to the finals in Miss America, that's for sure! GWB sort of forgot about social security, medicare, the tax code, the bird flu, and the rest of the big national issues he can actually do something about...guess these matters just aren't between his pointy ears right now. As they say, you can't coach brains. Or, perhaps he's decided not to mention any goals because he knows he hasn't got enough clout left to influence either the congress or the people.

GWB must have been distracted by all the questions about his approval of spying on Americans whom his spycatchers feel are communicating with the bad guys abroad. Perhaps he didn't know that spying on citizens is illegal unless a warrant is issued by a secret court set up by the congress. GWB explained that the Iraq war resolution gave him power to do just about anything that he could rationalize as security-related, and he stated his belief that the American people would want him to spy like he did. Wrong. As he and his pals love to say, America is a land where freedom is guaranteed by law. I guess some laws are just more lawful than others, and maybe some guys will start reading my email now that I've written this blog. Bad move, Mr. Imperial President. Americans worry about losing their freedoms more than they worry about the bad guys...just ask John Wayne.

So, the big question still remains: how will we get through this presidential term? Elections are almost three years away, and there seems to be no limit to the stupidity and ineptness of this president and his merry band of incompetents. If there ever was a reason to believe in the power of prayer, this is it. Let us pray.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Worst President Ever, Maybe

Today I saw a bumper sticker proclaiming "Worst President Ever", which was fresh enough that it couldn't have been referring to anyone else but our current president, George Bush. While he perhaps has a way to go before he earns that distinction, he's making headway on this dubious honor.

Years from now his biography might include:
- Started a war based on "facts" that were soon proven false.
- Failed to take responsibility for the error of going to war based on false information.
- Failed to put in enough troops to win the war, but declared "Mission Accomplished" anyway.
- Forced to remove troops due to public opinion turning sour over failed Iraq policy.
- Cut taxes in the face of largest deficit budgets ever. Also cut college tuition assistance.
- Enacted costly Medicare drug entitlement although the budget forecasted deficits for years.
- Didn't reform Social Security, Medicare, or the Tax Code - all major risks to the U.S. future.
- Headed a government where at least three major players were enveloped in scandal.
- Took his party from total control of government to ignominious losses during his tenure.

George W. Bush needs a few big wins in the next three years, or he'll certainly be close to winning the kudo predicted by the bumper sticker! I suppose someone will have to teach him how to think, talk, and fire the boneheads...

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

$8,000 Per Iraqi

Well, the cost of the Iraq war now exceeds $200 billion, a number that even an accountant can hardly comprehend. The war cost is so big that it's almost one-third of the deficit that our conservative Republican president and congress will ring up this year - an equally alarming number!

To help put the Iraq war cost in perspective, just think of it as $8,000 for every man, woman, and child in that unfortunate country. Don't you think we would have been better off by just offering every Iraqi $5,000 upon the overthrow of Saddam and the installation of a constitutional democracy? That would be the free market in action!

And we now have almost 2,100 American deaths in Iraq. That's one GI for every 12,000 Iraqis. Or, to put it differently, 84 GI's have died to save every Iraqi area with about the population of greater Rochester, New York. That's quite a sacrifice, but fortunately the U.S. losses do not include any children of the politicians who started this war.

Time to put a timetable on the board and let the Iraqis stand up for themselves. The price of leaving is right!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Control the Bird Flu Bureaucrats

President Bush last week asked congress for $7.1 billion to start the war against bird flu. It's clear that we need to combat this new flu before it spreads to humans and becomes transmissible. Already the major battle plans are being drawn up, and they are discussed below as jobs 1-3. But job 4, which concerns controlling the special interest bureaucrats who are now circling this topic like vultures, is equally important if our country is going to win the bird flu war at a reasonable cost.

Everyone agrees that job #1 is the vaccine. We need faster, more efficient means to manufacture flu vaccine - no more egg-based production. But it will take time to learn how to genetically engineer the vaccine and then manufacture it in huge quantities. Hopefully the $7.1B will go a long way toward producing large quantities of vaccine in the next year or two.

Job #2 is to determine how to allocate and administer the vaccine. This is not a simple task. The decisions could be left to the states and the free market, which would result in competition for the vaccine and many differing decisions about who gets it. Or, the federal government could centralize the vaccine purchasing and the allocation decisions. The free market option may be tempting to the Bush administration because it would, at least until the flu arrives, focus the arguments and criticisms toward non-federal entities. However, the inequities perceived in widely varying state-by-state approaches could come back to haunt the central government. This debate will be interesting to follow.

Job #3 involves strategies for slowing the spread of a bird flu pandemic into the United States. The federal government will have to make decisions about travel restrictions, quarantines, and other pandemic management issues.

Job #4 may be the most difficult of all - controlling the bureaucrats. These are the governmental and health care professionals who see the potential pandemic as a perfect opportunity to enhance their funding and power. Already we are hearing voices crying out for "planning", "training", "equipment", and "facilities" - each of which is shorthand for "money for me". Watch out!

Recently I heard a so-called expert call for the purchase of thousands and thousands of respirators to keep flu victims alive. He didn't even mention paying all the people who would operate the respirators or the facilities that would have to be built to house them. We are only beginning to hear the many half-cooked schemes that will soon be competing for bird flu funds from our federal and state governments.

Our elected officials need to put the bird flu bureacrats on hold until the strategy for dealing with bird flu is completed. There will be trade-offs in the strategy, since protection can never be perfect. Each trade-off will provoke serious opposition from the bureaucrats who expected funding for their traded-off projects. But if we don't do the overall war plan first, waste of scandalous proportions will occur. We can't afford for the country to get sick, but we can't afford for it to be broke, either.

Friday, September 30, 2005

More "Katrina's" To Come

"Katrina" and "Rita" showed us once again that nature is a lot stronger than we are. There is no way to control a hurricane, and all we can do is try to prepare for the worst. Recent events have shown that our government did a poor job of preparing, and we will pay a huge price for their neglect. Government failed to get ahead of the risk by allowing construction in high risk zones, by accepting sub-standard construction of levees, and by failing to have a workable disaster response plan. This was not a "republican" or "democrat" problem - this was a government problem. And there are more "Katrina's" to come, most of which relate to government programs that the representatives of us citizens are failing to control.

While the news media and government are focused on the physical and political cleanup of the hurricanes, disasters loom in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and Education. These programs are doomed to fail in their current forms, leaving our society monetarily and sociallybankrupt. But where are our elected officials? They don't want to talk about or deal with these "gorillas in the room".

The current administration has wasted its political capital on a useless war and in pandering to ideological issues like Terry Schaivo's fate and the role of the Ten Commandments. What rubbish! A democrat administration is likely to waste its capital on give-away programs that its radical constituencies demand - programs that fail to reflect economic realities like global competition. Where can we turn for salvation?

It's time for a true third party or independent force to take over, a force that represents the middle of America, a force that puts the hard choices on the table and leads America to choose the medicine it needs. John McCain is the obvious choice to lead this third party, and there are many competent public-spirited citizens who would take positions currently occupied by politial hacks like the late FEMA head. For Vice President, how about Richardson of New Mexico? Let's make a coalition of the capable and replace the corrupt politicians who are sitting on their asses while the future "Katrina's" bear down on us!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Ruminations on Robertson and Rumsfeld

Republicans Robertson and Rumsfeld are in the news this week, the former for recommending the assassination of Venezuela's president, the latter for flatly downplaying the prospect of civil war in Iraq. For both, it's merely more of the same.

Robertson, the founder of the Christian Coalition and host of the "700 Club" broadcast, proved once again that he's simply a right wing radical posing as a Christian. His previous inane comments include accusations that the women's rights movement advocated killing children and practicing witchcraft, and that homosexuals have Nazi tendencies. So it's 100% in character for the 75 year old Robertson to propose an assassination as a good solution to dealing with a left wing Venezuelan politician who is irritating the United States government. Robertson makes no mention of the ten commandments or "turning the other cheek", since these are Christian admonitions that don't jive with the radical right wing agenda. Where is the Bush administration on this one? Well, since Robertson is a private citizen "he can say whatever he wants to". Now that's a strong repudiation, typical of the tepid official responses to gaffes by Republican supporters! This "moral" president has a pretty flexible backbone...

Rumsfeld, meanwhile, doesn' t think the current problems with devising an Iraqi constitution increase the chances of a civil war. This conclusion arises from his process of assessments by the "wishful thinking" approach. So far his wishes for the U.S. to be loved by Iraqi's, his wishes for a quiclly-quelled insurgency of incompent rabble, and his wishes that the far-from-finished war could be prosecuted successfully with 130,000 troops have not been fulfilled. Based on where Iraq seems to be going, the likely outcomes are either a civil war or a repressive Iran-like state far from Bush's desires for a true democracy. That ugly old Saddam looks better every day!

So, with gas prices now $2.65 per gallon (including the $1.00 uncertainty tax that Bush has kindly provided the sheiks and his Venezuelan friends), we look forward to the U.S. economy going into an inflation and deficit-driven recession in 2006. Perfect timing! The 2006 elections will be a great opportunity to hand over the mess to the darn Democrats! Time for a third party again...

The Nationwide Tour was in Pittsford, NY, last weekend. Those guys really are good! And they are accountable, too. Watching them keep score makes you wish there was an honest political scorecard... unfortunately, politics has no rules and flexible scoring. Blogs are a good surrogate for an official honest broker, don't you think?

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Bush Enemies Avoid Capture - Embarassment!

The recent heavy casualties in Iraq pushed the U.S. death toll to well over 1,800 soldiers, and another 10,000+ have been wounded. Had President Bush explained to us when he started the Iraq war that we would suffer this much, and more, to secure victory, I doubt that congress would have gone along with his costly plan. As a former army officer, I now feel that the main problems in Iraq are the fragmented political scene and the endemic corruption. Bush's premise that "everyone everywhere wants freedom" has turned out to be wrong...the fact is that everyone in Iraq wants to have their own way, whether it be a religious way or a tribal way or a criminal way. Without a semblance of unity in Iraq we are doomed to failure over there, and the situation may well be worse five years from now than when Saddam was in power. Some rather smart people in the State Department and other world-wise organizations made this prediction before we fired a shot, and they are looking pretty smart right now.

Perhaps the most telling component of our apparent failure in the "war against terrorism" is the survival of Abu Musab al-Zarkawi and Osama bin Laden. They command large organizations, they make video tapes of threats, and they are murderous fanatics. They are also at large, which Bush does not mention too often. Despite all the U.S.'s technical prowess and the financial inducements aimed at capturing or killing these guys, they have become the Energizer bunnies of terrorism - they go on and on and on. So far, George Bush has been as successful in dealing with them as he has in making Iraq work. I suspect that the reason we've not caught them is closely related to the reason our casualties are much higher than expected - the administration just didn't understand the level of support and loyalty that the terrorists would maintain, nor did they figure the terrorists could sell their message better than Bush could sell his. These kinds of errors in judgment are not what we elect presidents to commit, but I pray that the experiences outlined above will encourage men and women of influence to exercise much more control over GWB during the remainder of his unfortunate term in office.

Yes, it's been a hot summer in a lot of ways!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Bush Not Intelligently Designed

GWB has done it again...how does the saying go, "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread"? Well, young George has proven the point when it comes to mixing religion and politics. Seems like his physicians gave him a clean bill of health but forgot the mental exam. Certainly his recent comment that schools should teach "intelligent design" alongside evolutionary theory shows that, as a thinker, he was not intelligently designed.

As a Christian, I believe that God did create the universe with some purpose in mind. And I choose to believe that some day I will get a much better sense of what that purpose was and how I fit into it. But prove that, I can't. It's just a belief. And if it's a belief it belongs in church and in what I say to others - but not in school. School is for theories that science can work on.

But what about those critters that some "scientists" say they can't explain through evolution? Those critters that have parts that needed to develop all at the same time? OK, I'll admit these assertions have aroused some curiosity on my part, but science has always dealt with mysteries and has generally solved them. I'd rather leave these critters in the pending file than jump to a giant conclusion with no better reasoning than "we don't understand how...". And, I must add, I don't believe God leaves physical clues designed to give us certainty about God. I think God wants to remain a mystery who must be believed rather than proven.

But, just for fun, let's say George W. Bush is right in believing that the universe was intelligently designed and that we should teach the concept in schools. The next obvious question is "what was the purpose of the design?" Did God do it just to do something difficult, or as a throwaway, or as one of many parallel universes, or for God's entertainment? Surely George has a pat answer for that one, as well. Probably something about God designing us with free will to choose Him or not, with the "not's" going to a really hot place. And the proof for that one? The Bible, of course. Next thing we'll be studying the Bible in school, just like our Pakistani foes study the Koran. Where would it stop? At some point we'd all be killing each other over religion.

My president may well be a fool with noble motives. History is full of such people who went down the wrong roads for the right reasons. If he wants to have the faith of a child, that's his prerogative, but it's hard to believe he would cross the line and start talking about putting religious beliefs in the schools. But he did. And if he's not a fool, but stirred this pot for political reasons, then he is responsible for whatever is done by the idiots who are willing to follow this line of reasoning to the end. Think Timothy McVeigh. Thanks, George, for another great job as a "unifier". Right.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Bush Loses Frist

Well, it's been a warm week here in Rochester, NY. I saw a dog chasing a cat - both of them were walking!

And it's been warm in Washington, too. Bill Frist, the senate majority leader, has made a smart about-face and hopped on the stem cell research bandwagon. GWB has said he'll veto any bill that authorizes federal funding of new stem cell lines...this is going to be interesting!

As a semi-trained economist, I know that the potential value of patentable stem cell research products could be billions upon billions of dollars. Consequently, every other country with the technical expertise to work on embryonic stem cells is doing it as quickly as possible in order to capture their share of the cash and prestige. GWB's religion-based position is futile in terms of having any impact on the long term outcomes, except that it will make it harder for the U.S. to be a leader in the technology. Although George may know something about oil, but he seems to have forgotten a lot of what he learned (?) in his Harvard MBA courses.

Dr. Frist, still busy wiping egg off his face from the Terri Schaivo debacle, correctly figured out that being wrong on two major health-related issues would doom his presidential hopes for 2008. Now all we need is quick action in both houses to get federal money moving in the right direction...but "quick" is reserved only for critical legislation like sheltering gun manufacturers from secondary liability lawsuits. The people come in second again....

Afterthought... The U.S. is now waging a "struggle against extremism" rather than a "war on terror". If you can't win a war the best thing to do is rename it. The "war on terror" will be much harder to forget than the "war on drugs" and the "war on poverty", so the best strategy is to rename it. Hindsight... how much better off would we be if GWB had been forced to take Tony Blair's advice on Iraq instead of vice versa?

So, another nice warm day in Rochester. Let's take advantage of the today that God has made, have some fun, do some good, and see how Tiger and Vijay duke it out at Warwick Hills!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Bush Roves!

"Roving" might be defined as wandering about aimlessly, which is what Bush is doing about his Plame "outing" problem. When the problem arose, he said he didn't believe anyone in his organization had any contacts with reporters regarding Valerie Plame, then he vows to fire anyone who outed her, then when the facts show two prominent advisers did out her he doesn't explain why they didn't tell him way back when, then he says he will let them go if they committed a crime. Seems like he is "Roving" on this hot potato. Bush loves to talk about being a man of his word "I say what I mean, and I mean what I say." Right....

So now we will have only one woman and one minority on the Supreme Court. Bush's nominee is all but certain of confirmation, and he seems like a straight-up guy at first glance. I have a feeling he knows what the American people regard as "rights", so I predict he will not roll over and help reverse Roe vs Wade and other long-entrenched decisions on civil rights. America does not need millions of people converging on Washington to protest a hard right turn coming from the Supreme Court...we've got enough problems already.

Speaking of problems, the price of oil and global warming together constitute a great danger to America. Our economy and our ecology depend on government leading the charge to cleaner and cheaper energy, and the solution is not simply to drill for more oil within our own boundaries...not that that's a bad idea, but it simply isn't the solution. Let's put the pedal to the metal on nuclear power, and also look to innovative solutions such as using ocean tides to generate electricity. If we had a lot more cheap electricity we could migrate to electric motors for local transportation, and that would really make a difference. Come on, GWB, do a prime time address on energy that is honest and forward-looking! There must be somebody that can put the right words in your mouth, George.

Finally, we are again confronting the spectre of terrorism in another major western city - London. Yes, we need to protect ourselves with common sense precautions, but even with them the occasional terrorist group will find a way to harm us. The only sensible answer to terrorism is communication - combatting the misinformation from terrorist leaders who brainwash young people into suicidal missions. Stupid remarks like "Bring'em on" are not the answer, GWB. The right answer is affirming Muslims' humanity and the peaceable tenets of their religion, being as inclusive as possible in order to give young Muslims an opportunity to voice their concerns, and supporting popular movements against powerful dictatorships that keep the common Muslim people down. Those who say that anti-terrorism is a police function are right - this conflict is not a war, it is a spate of violence by religiously-motivated criminals. Calling it a "war" glorifies the perpetrators and draws more adherents to their side. Get it, GWB?

So, today we've been "Roving" all over the place. GWB will not ever fire him, and he may or may not leave the administration on his own. Whatever, Carl Rove will show up in plenty of pre-election commercials and be a major factor in the next election. The man who will do anything to win may well find out that there really are lines that can't be crossed.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Liberals -vs- Conservatives: What a Laugh!

It's the new sporting event - Liberals versus Conservatives in a fight to the death. Turn on the radio or TV at any time day or night and watch the combatants wage war! "Liberals are traitors bent on turning the US into a cesspool of illegal immigrants, God-haters, cowards, enviro-terrorists, and queers of all stripes!" "Conservatives are traitors bent on pursuing illegal wars, trashing the environment, trampling the first amendment, establishing religious courts, and selling our economy to the lowest common denominator!" And so it goes...Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage versus Bill Moyers and whoever. Black versus White...and who is who depends on who is talking. Why are Americans so stupid as to get hooked on this crap in such great numbers?

Only a few minutes of concentration is needed to generate a list of great contributions made by both liberals and conservatives in America. For starters, liberals initiated the break from England in 1776 - the conservative Tories wanted to keep King Charles, remember? Then the conservatives grabbed the West, built the railroads, fueled the industrial revolution, and captured all the money, too. But liberals struck back with the New Deal, the end of sanctioned segregation, and women's lib. Not to be outdone, the conservatives won the Cold War to make amends for their being on Hitler's side prior to WWII, and they got free trade while reversing the power of unions gone amuck (read "United Airlines" and "General Motors"). So there has been an historic ebb and flow of good outcomes from both persuasions, and both sides have had their share of idiots.

Just because I heard Rush laugh away public libraries one day - "Mr. Smedley, do you know a single person who uses a public library?", and authoritatively pronounce global warming to be a myth (call him up, National Academy of Scientists!), doesn't mean that Rush is wrong on immigration, for example. Even a multipli-wed prescription drug addict gets something right on occasion., so give him a little credit.

And the liberals like Mr. Moyers are all worked up about the Supreme Court, forgetting that the court is as subject to American public opinion as it is to the Constitution. A new conservative jurist can help strike down Roe vs Wade, for example, but better stand back! A shitstorm is on the way, and it may take a lot with it. The law of unintended consequences at work, thank the Lord. So stop your handwringing, you limp-wristed wimpy liberals. How about trusting the American people a little bit?

So, enough of the labels. I'm tired of them. Even the evangelicals and the tree-huggers are finding some common ground, and if they can do it, we can. Let's make a pact: hear a media personality or politician use the words"conservative" or "liberal" in a pejorative sense, we turn the channel to an old movie or "greatest hits of the 60's and 70's". Those beat Tom Delay and Ted Kennedy any old day.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Let's Pray for Bush

As a Christian, I always have hope that everyone will sense the Spirit and act in accordance with it - and "everyone" includes those of every religion and both "friends" and "enemies". Well, now is the time for George W. Bush to sense that Spirit and nominate another Sandra O'Connor to the Supreme Court. It's a time to work for unity in the country and cooperation in the Congress, not a time to start another salvo of broadsides between fanatics on both sides. We need a pragmatic, non-ideologue jurist who can interpret a 200+ year old constitution in light of realities in 2005, and who understands freedom and responsibility. So, GWB, may God be with you as you decide on dear Sandra's successor.

Also, as a Christian I applaud Spain's vote to legalize gay marriage. There is a hierarchy of sins, I suppose, and a hierarchy of virtues. Jesus always seemed to come out on the side of love and caring, and I have a lot of personal experience that tells me gays have just that! A memorable paraphrase from Thomas Cahill's " wonderful "Desire of the Everlasting Hills" is that "no one ever went to hell simply because he woke up in the wrong bed". Maybe homosexuality isn't the most appropriate lifestyle, but it's the only thing that works for some people. So God will mark them down, perhaps, as God marks down all of us, but God will see into their hearts as God sees into ours, and a lot of us sinners of all stripes will meet God some day. That's how I read the Word, anyway, and I read it a lot. (If you want to agonize about the quandaries regarding religion, try E.L. Doctorow's "City of God". It will make you think, and maybe cry,as it did to me on a recent trip when I listened to the audio book.)

As an afterthought, CNN today reported that a number of civilians perished in Afganistan when a bomber hit their village with precision munitions. Sorry about the civilians - yes! But as an ex-military officer I understand that when civilians voluntarily mix with combatants they assume the risk of attack. In war there is no sanctuary anymore, since the rules have changed. Once upon a time combatants made a real effort to isolate themselves from civilians, but in an era of irregular warfare the irregulars mix with sympathetic civilians in order to avoid attack and to generate headlines if civilians are killed. Sorry, but those civilians will have to pay the price for their loyalty if they happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. War is not Christian, and it is sad, but it's also avoidable by those who attack in the first place... no sympathy for the Afgan and Iraqi insurgents here! Go talk to people and cast your vote, mister Islamic radical! Then those ugly Americans will come home where they belong, and you will have had your chance to influence the locals in a peaceful way.

It's the fourth of July, the glorious day of Independence! Remembering the struggle for cultural, economic, and religious freedom... a struggle that needs to go on for America to remain great! Let the fireworks burst out with wild booming and let the celebrations commence!

Friday, June 24, 2005


Well, another day. In the past 24 hours I've responded to a neighbor's home to see about her bee sting ( I have my own EMT bag at home), and gone to see about a diabetic who parked her car in an intersection when she got low on sugar. All's well that ends well, and both did. We have a wonderful emergency response system here in the U.S., which makes me sad to remember what it's like when a truck full of 12 passengers crashes on a rural mountain road in Haiti when the semi-existent brakes fail. We get fast, top-notch care, they get almost nothing. We live, they die when they probably would have lived. Just one more reason to say it's great to have been accidentally born in America.

Today brought good news that NPR's funding won't get cut. It's the only quality radio out there, and of course the GOP right doesn't like it because it tells the truth too often. I listen to it daily, and most appreciate it when I'm hiking on the Appalachian Trail...it's almost always available, and it must be a godsend to people in rural areas. Information and culture - two things the GOP right just doesn't understand. But popular uprising, including my two emails to House members,
seems to have killed the cuts. Now we need to uproot the political hacks that Bush has installed in the Public Broadcasting leadership. GWB's undeveloped intellect has again proved itself - there is nothing like the shitstorm created when the voice of concerned citizens and sometime critics is jeopardized by crude silencing tactics!

But I have to give young George a kudo for his stance on nuclear power. For far too many years the simple-minded fear-filled folks in our great democracy have responded to the cries of enviro-wackos to put the kibosh on new nuclear plants, while other civilized countries have built a lot of them. We need to put safe plants on line ASAP to get our power costs down and our supply of electricity assurred while we reduce pollution from coal and oil plants. With the price of oil going up fast, we had better get moving!

Thomas Friedman has got it right in his new book "The World is Flat". I only read the first two or three chapters, since the premise is easy to understand and prove from other facts. If only GWB could read! (Did you hear him call his guest "a piece of work" on TV the other day - what a goof!) Anyway, we need education reform (like, hey, keep the goofballs in school by force, throw money at the more gifed ones), and we need a sane energy policy that pushes conservation, new sources, and full-blown exploration. You know, I don't give a hoot about the Florida coastal residents who don't want to look at drilling towers...everyone's got to put their nickel in the pot! When the rainy day comes we will be sorry if we haven't gone all out for energy and education.

So, tomorrow I'll use a lot of gasoline to drive to North Carolina where I'll buy a second home - one that I will perhaps live in sometime. For now, New York is OK, but the taxes are crazy and the corruption stinks like pig manure. Governor Pataki is not presidential material because he can't spell the word "reform" and his major expertise is in spending "off-the-books" money. I will get out of here when the stink gets too bad!

It's Friday, so that means dinner out. Time to sign off, get the good witch, and bite into some of the best Italian food in the world - Roncone's in Rochester, NY. Thank God they have re-opened! Bye now.

Friday, June 17, 2005

I'm Bushed!

I was sore at the time of my last post, sore from hiking the AT and sore at Bush. The hiking soreness is slowly getting better, but the Bush soreness gets worse.

It's hard to believe that a leader can be so consistently and publically wrong as is GWB! I don't think he "disassembles" (dissembles), I just think he's a well-meaning dumb guy who just happens to be president of the United States. So this week the Terry Shaivo autopsy comes out proving that all the right-wing hullabaloo was just hot air...the only true statement was Tom Delay's, where he claimed Terry was just as alive as he is! Then the updated information about global warming, showing conclusively that Republican reluctance to accept the scientific facts has put all of us back for the long term. We need to get serious about reducing energy usage and greenhouse emissions, and we need to be in the forefront of getting all other countries to follow on this important issue for our kids. Then, of course, we sadly learned of many more Iraq casualties this week, more than two years after the "cakewalk" and "mission accomplished". You just got to believe there was a more effective way to deal with the Saddam problem, but the train left the station on its way to Chaos a long time ago. Thank goodness for elections! One has to believe that GWB, his staff goofballs and their allies in congress will be history sooner rather than later. They have certainly earned the "boot".

One last scream relating to politics - the NPR matter. Cutting NPR's funding while the right wing has pretty much purchased the public airwaves is a scandal! Yes, many of NPR's in-house people are center and left leaning, as are personalities like Garrison Keillor. But many conservatives also get their voice on programs like All Things Considered, Science Friday, and others...voice that liberals never get on trash like Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage. Perhaps silencing critics is GWB's idea of democracy (Iran is a good model), but this guy is furious. Strange behavior for a life-long Christian Republican MBA like me!

On the Democrat side, another goofball congressman is all exercised about the four year old boy who died (sadly) at Disney World. He wants lots more regulation. Typical of democrats - one death in 8 million riders and we have a big problem for national government to get into! As an EMT I know that strange things happen to susceptible people who appear healthy...that's life. Sometimes I think there needs to be an SAT test for people who run for office...a minimally functioning brain and a little education is not too much to ask, is it?

So, Life Hiker has got his mind cleared about our sad government. On to more mundane matters. A friend who has had a leukemia relapse is home pending another bone marrow transplant - thank heaven for modern medicine! My new grandson just took his first real steps at just under one year of age. We got some rain after a dry spell in upstate New York, just in time for the LPGA golf tournament just down the road. I worked the overnight on the ambulance and got to sleep because nobody needed help on Wednesday night. And yes, my 84 year old mother is married again to a great guy...what a world!

On with the hike of my life...see you next time.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Sore and Sore

Life Hiker just returned from 170 miles on the Appalachian Trail, from Duncannon, PA, to Front Royal, VA. His knees are still hurting, especially from the up and down of a 13-mile stretch in northern VA called the "Rollercoaster" - 10,000 feet of up and down in 17 back-to-back hills of nasty rock! With 1200 miles of the AT under his boots, Life Hiker wonders if his 60 year old legs are going to make the last 950 miles! As usual, got some help from those who typically need help...although one or two regular "good people" lent a hand as well. The ones who needed help were a young working couple who lived in a tent, and two working Mexicans who gave me a lift when I needed a ride pretty badly. But sore is the price you pay for the AT, and I'm sore...

Sore also because George Bush came to Rochester yesterday to pitch Social Security "reform" - read "reform" as "rape". I'm not against personal accounts, but not in Social Security - let's do it another way, and there are lots of good ideas out there besides raising the tax rates. Bush then hightailed it back to Washington in time to put the slam on embryonic stem cell research...how can this man be wrong so often on the big ideas! As a peripheral medical person (working EMT), I talk with lots of other more qualified medical types who are almost 100% for the research. It helps to be dumb if you want to stay with Bush, who would definitely never nominate Jesus for a seat on the Supreme Court. So as usual, I come off the trail to be sore...with Bush.