Thursday, April 30, 2009

People Kind of People

Isn't it awful to be stuck in a waiting room and about the only magazines available are back issues of People magazine? What is a better artifact of how screwed up our culture is than the cult of celebrity this publication, a product of Time-Warner, represents. Living with all the distortion of the pop culture world, People highlights our celebrity obsessed culture and insatiable appetite for catty gossip. How much Brad Pitt, Angela Joile, George Clooney, Britany Spears, and the world of American Idol can a person take? Well, pick up any issue of this shameless rag, and there they are. Consider the wealth this publication provides for some of the lowest scum on the planet, the paparazzi, the aggressive stalkers who masquerade as celebrity photographers. The highlights of the year, their "Sexiest Man" and "100 Most Beautiful People" issues, put their world into clear perspective.

Politicians appear from time-to-time. Republicans are nowhere to be found unless they've got the dirt on Sarah Palin, but oh how they love Barack Obama!!

Is it any wonder then that as their "100 Most Beautiful People" issue hits the street, the Obama gang is well represented: Michelle Obama, Rahm Immanuel, and Timothy Geithner?

Folks can recognize this is fluff to satiate the gossip hungry geeks for what it is. What the public doesn't recognize it that which is supposed to be hard news, as represented by two other Time-Warner products, Time Magazine and CNN isn't that different.

All of them are best avoided.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

White House Idiots Terrorize Lower Manhattan: The Fools

Yo, listen up Obama-Nation lowlifes, if we can make this horrible picture above with old MS Paint, you sorry SOB's could make a fine picture of Air Force One and Lady Liberty with Photo-Shop. Only piss poor management could allow a fiasco like this to happen, you idiots!!!
Buildings hurriedly evacuated, panic in the streets, and the New York mayor, “furious,” some idiots in the Obama White House for some glorious photo opportunity flew a Boeing 747 with an identical paint scheme to Air Force One accompanied by two US Air Force F-16 fighters over lower Manhattan seeking to get the perfect picture of what appears to be the President’s plane with the Statue of Liberty in the background. Rather than taking proper precautions and attempting to notify the proper New York officials who could help keep things calm for this insane publicity stunt, they insisted on complete silence. How could such a shameful stunt.

This episode reflects badly on the Obama administration on many levels. First, it demonstrates incredible insensitivity to the people of New York who lost 3,000 of their fellow citizens less than eight years ago on 9/11/2001. Could anyone not anticipate the chaos and horror such an act would cause? Further on a broader perspective, it shows that the Obama camp in general continues to be even more insensitive to how serious 9/11 and the issue of the war on terrorism is to most Americans. They seem numb to the hurt and horror thousands of Americans whose lives were thrown into chaos by the Islamic extremists who attacked us. An administration that wants to play name games with “terrorist” and “war on terror” could surely be cold, calculating, and self-serving enough to dare fly a huge jet at low altitude over the New York financial district as if Obama’s gang has ever shown any concern for Wall Street to begin with. While in the context of wasting trillions of dollars and running up massive debts, maybe the price tag of this exercise being $328,835 , for the American people who are struggling to make ends meet many not having or fearing for their jobs, this amount of money means a lot.

So President Obama is reportedly “furious” over this episode and has offered an official apology for this insane operation, what’s lost in the reaction is professional competence means never having to say you’re sorry. When the public examines the number of Obama nominees who had serious tax or ethical flaws forcing some of them such as Tom Daeschle and Bill Richardson to withdraw while seeing the nation’s top money official having tax liability issues and the audacity to blame it on “Turbo Tax,” the public should be concerned how the administration might respond to a full-fledged immediate crisis. President Obama has demanded a probe into the Manhattan fly-over fiasco. A probe? What kind of leadership is that? He’d darned well better know what department in the White House called the shots then demand the department head and decision makers appear on the carpet of the Oval Office to submit to a good old fashioned ass-whoopin’. What is a probe supposed to accomplish? Does he think such a probe can lay blame for this insanity on the Bush administration? That excuse is getting very old by now.

On all levels, the Obama administration is an embarrassing failure from broad policy issues to day-to-day operational issues. We, the American people, must do all we can to tie his hands from hurting us any more.

Specter Splits for Democrats

Arlen Specter’s switch to the Democratic party is the most damaging defeat to maintaining anything resembling a close to moderate course of action for the Federal government. Consider this, there is no denying Barack Obama is a radical leftist not just a traditional liberal who attempts to project the image of a traditional liberal or will speak in centrist terms when it helps secure his political advantage. The House of Representatives functions under the tyrannical, iron-fisted irrational rule of San Francisco area congresswoman, Nancy Pelosi, who is not only far-left politically but is also an emotionally unstable vengeful power broker who has left no room for dissent or discussion even among factions within her own party. The Senate Democrats are the least extreme of the power centers the Democrats currently control, but their agenda is hard core liberal favoring massive government social engineering, expanding government programs and intervention, nationalized medicine, and a rubber stamp to organized labor’s political issues which has helped interfere with restructuring General Motors and Chrysler and has effectively made any kind of educational reform impossible as the nations’ two main teachers’ unions, the NEA and AFT routinely fight almost all meaningful efforts that will make public education more effective and responsive.

Arlen Specter’s move is a calculated move for political survival. While his politics are probably acceptable to the state of Pennsylvania at large, his constant moves against key Republican stances has put him at odds with the GOP to the extent where he could quite possibly lose in the next round of senatorial primaries. Representative Pat Toomey is already making gains toward what could have been a drive to oust Specter as the GOP candidate. Given his poor standing within his own party and the Democrats’ recent ability to raise huge sums of money would make his chances to win as an independent as Joe Lieberman accomplished against the far-left the Democrats would be a long shot for Specter in Pennsylvania.

Ronald Reagan once said, “If you vote with me 80% of the time, you’re my friend.” While Specter has dealt his party some horrible defeats when flipping to the Democrats’ side including supporting Barack Obama’s massive, pork laden, bailout bill and did his share of things that upset Bush administration policies, the Republicans are better off in these troubled times in the party with Specter nominally Republican than sitting with the Democrats. The magic number is 60. Once the Democrats secure sixty members, the Republicans lose their ability to filibuster without Democrat crossovers. Perhaps this advantage has been already lost as Specter has crossed lines quite frequently, but the numbers do matter in ways that aren’t always apparent.

Make no doubt about it, Arlen Specter is a rotten son-of-a-bitch. His rational that his position reflects the party leaving him rather than vice-versa is self-promoting nonsense. He has been a tough fellow for the GOP to depend on for years, but his assertion that the Republicans are dominated by the radical right is absurd. Of course now that the Obama administration and news media has moved the focus further to the left what would seem to be simply mainstream traditionally moderate views might be defined as far-right. The media, of course, has applauded Specter, as they once applauded John McCain before he became the GOP’s standard bearer for his independence.

The two most important positions for the Republican Party and the ones that speak directly to the American people’s political sensibilities are; strong national defense and economic restraint. Much of the current dissatisfaction with the GOP are widespread perceptions that they have abandoned their resolve on economic matters given their reckless spending and pork barrel excesses which served as hard core proof the “Contract with America” which helped many of them be elected in the first place no longer matters once they got to Washington and became drunk with power and fat with the perks of incumbency.

Perhaps where the Republicans failed most miserably was their inability to convince the public that they are the party of low taxes. They put up no fight in the media against their contention that the Republicans cut taxes for the very rich and could care less about the so-called “working people.” While Barack Obama campaigned on “middle class tax cuts,” the truth was he simply would maintain the tax cuts to wage earners below a certain figure when they are set to expire in 2010. Maintaining cuts the people already enjoy is hardly a tax cut, but meanwhile higher end wage earners including thousands of small business owners and entrepreneurs will pay more.

The so-called “kitchen table” issues have been seized by the Democrats while if the public were to get an honest appraisal of what’s truly going on, the Democrats are not helping average citizens live a better, safer, more economically secure life. The Republicans inability to communicate with the public is pure political incompetence.

Let’s look at a few issues. How can anyone feel the Democrats are on the right side of educational reform? America’s schools are not meeting their challenges adequately, but as long as parents don’t see any direct problems with their kids, they look the other way. If “Johnny” is getting decent grades and isn’t getting beat up in school, it’s too much effort to see how “Johnny” has been sold short. While suburban and rural school districts are able to keep mediocre schools going, urban and impoverished districts are failing miserably where “No Child Left Behind” has yet to provide meaningful substantial change. Concepts like school choice, improvements in math and science, more rigorous and challenging standards and curriculum are concepts almost all citizens who don’t have a vested interest in maintaining the unions’ control of public schools will embraced enthusiastically if presented to them in a clear, understandable manner. More often, the Republicans are seen are being obsessed with attempting to mandate school prayer, an absolutely insane notion in an open society, and chest pounding in their opposition to sex education. In some areas, Republicans are seen as actively attempting to mandate teaching creationism or “intelligent design” and pushing evolution out of the classroom. Hello, this is the 21st century. While evolution is just a theory and there is more to reality than that which pure science can explain, this is the right and rational course of education. Fighting it helps fuel the perception the Republican Party is out of touch.

After being clobbered in the last two elections, two things are clear about the Republicans: 1- they desperately need new leadership, 2- they need to redefine themselves making their core believes connect with the American people. The Republican brand needs to clearly stand for something, but if it’s a lot of the same old same old, they’re doomed.

Arlen Specter’s move makes the game tougher for Republicans. Forget the bravado and spin. They are better off having an unpredictable member who keeps them in filibuster range than giving the Democrats their magic number.

Arlen Spector is nothing more than a groveling opportunist. The writing was on the wall. He’d not survive the Republican primary in Pennsylvania and he knew it. How arrogant his assertion that he was not about to have his years in service be decided by Pennsylvania Republican primary voters as if they are some kind of low life scum. At least he didn’t call them the kinds of things his new fellow party member from western PA, John Murtha would have called them.

Surely, the Liberal press will call him a man who stood for principleabove politics that his ideals could no longer be satisfied by his former party. Baloney! Examining Arlen Specter’s career as a whole, there is no rhyme or reason or great causes for which he stood. He stood for himself and the interests he served. For him, they were not the Pennsylvania Republicans who have financed his stay in Washington since his first election to the Senate in 1980.

The honorable thing for Arlen Specter to do would be at 79 years old would be to retire and pass the torch to the next generation, but his huge ego and holier-than-thou persona would not allow for that. Here’s a person who condemned Vermont Senator, Jim Jeffers, move to the Democrats in 2001 even suggesting the Senate rules should be changed to prevent such moves. As recently as last week he openly trumpeted his value to the GOP despite turning the tables being one of the switcheroo votes that facilitated passage of the Obama “Stimilus” as in stimulate huge government and debts bill.

Here’s hoping the Pennsylvania voters will give him the retirement he was too selfish and cowardly to accept on his own terms. His story is that of a self-serving bastard who puts himself above his constituents, his party, and his country. It’s all about the immediate rewards of power. The Republicans are a cleaner, purer party without him despite the difficult spot his move puts their ability to influence the course of action in the Senate.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Farewell to Pontiac

Whatever Happened to Pontiac Excitement?

Who could ever believe this could happen? Soon Pontiac will be no more.

The name Pontiac used to reek of coolness! From developing the “wide-track” concept at the dawn of the 1960’s, by the mid-60’s Pontiac was on the cutting edge of highly attractive automobiles whose high performance models were the rage.

Consider the modest Pontiac Tempest introduced as a plain-Jane small to midsized car in 1961. It offered a Lemans model that was more decked out, but it was still a relatively modest car. In 1964, the Pontiac mid-sized car had new skin and a new attitude offering almost all the goodies available on the full-sized Pontiacs. However, there was a high performance option that would start a new rage in Detroit, the GTO performance package. For $296, the customer got a powerful 389 V-8 engine with all kinds of performance goodies and extra styling add-ons that said “fast.” This was the dawn of the muscle car boom in Detroit as Chevrolet would add the Malibu SS (then SS-396) and Oldsmobile would add a 442 to its Cutlass line. Even Buick featured a GS model. Soon Ford introduced the Fairlane then Torino GT models with similar Cyclone models with Mercury. Chrysler introduced a Satellite GTX for Plymouth, attempted to upstage the whole muscle car stable with their fastback Dodge Charger, then they even introduced a stripped down to just the muscle, Road Runner.

Meanwhile, the full-sized Pontiacs were beauties with some of GM’s boldest styling and characteristic split grill design, the Bonneville was the biggest and the baddest while the Catalina and Executive were for more pragmatic needs. Also, on the shortest full sized wheelbase was the sporty big boy, the Grand Prix.

While Chevrolet introduced the Camaro in 1967, later that model year, Pontiac was not to be denied. The Pontiac Firebird raced on the scene as Pontiac’s entry into the Pony Car market. From the side, it looked almost identical to the Camaro whose platform it shared, but the taillights and rear styling came directly from the GTO and the front end view was classic Pontiac with a more aerodynamic twist.

Forty years ago, things couldn’t have been better for Pontiac, the nation’s third best selling brand only behind Chevrolet and Ford. As high performance gave way to fuel economy and safety in the 1970’s, the Pontiac’s image became harder to maintain, but the Firebird and its high performance, TransAm, were still widely popular cars especially when Ford converted its once proud Mustang to little more than a jazzed up Pinto. The 1980’s saw Pontiac’s full-sized Bonneville regaining some of the most attractive styling of all full sized cars but quality control issues started to plague the brand. Their midsized cars had no sizzle and no unique features to draw customers. In the 1990’s, the Grand Am would be a relatively popular compact model while the Grand Prix became the nameplate for their midsized fleet. Pontiac was no longer the big player it once was but still had a steady following.

The new millennium would be cruel to Pontiac. The Firebird and TransAm were discontinued after the 2002 model year, then as if not learning the lessons which lead to the end of Oldsmobile in 2005, Pontiac discarded its familiar marquee names to a series of cars all starting with the letter, “G.” The “G” cars had no “gee whiz” appeal, but instead spelled “get lost.” Efforts to introduce a high-powered sports sedan reviving the GTO nameplate proved a miserable failure as a stable of G-3’s, 5’s, 6’s, and 8’s do little to capture the car buyer’s imagination.

As Pontiac’s demise is announced, some will consider it a death brought on by fierce competition particularly from Honda and Toyota, but in reality, it should probably be noted as suicide. Pontiac was a brand name that had everything going for it a generation ago, now it hobbles into nonexistence a faceless brand with nothing unique, no “it” factor to stay on the road.

Who could ever see what Pontiac accomplished in the 60’s and Oldsmobile gained in the 70’s would have ever seen both brands dying out so miserably soon after the dawn of the new millennium. They used to know their customers and built cars that wowed them. A once great corporation like a mighty freight train speeding off its track killed these great American brands. Lovers of Michigan metal must be saddened by these losses.

Pontiacs were hot. Pontiac excitement meant high performance and sexy styling. They were a notch above the everyman Fords and Chevy’s but were priced within the reach of those standard brands.

Pontiac lost its identity up to now where the “G” cars are hardly worth a car lover’s “gee whiz” so now it’s good bye to a once wildly popular brand. And then there were four: Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac, and GMC. Oldsmobile is gone. Saturn, Hummer, and Saab have been left by the wayside, now Pontiac. Only the new Mustangs, Camaros, and Challengers give today’s generation a glimpse of the kind of excitement Detroit brought forth every September with Pontiac often leading the way in the “excitement” department. In a world of today’s Fords, Toyotas, Nissans, and Hondas – boring is the word.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Talladega Crash Raises Safety Questions at Live Sporting Events

AP photo captures the horror in progress.

The official story is seven fans sustained “minor” injuries when Carl Edwards #99 Ford soared into the restraining fence approaching the finish line during the last lap of competition in the Aaron’s 499 Sprint Cup race. Five fans were administered first aid at the track, while two were airlifted for hospital care. Apparently, one of the victims sustained a broken jaw. THAT’S A MINOR INJURY???? The other person was treated for an undisclosed ailment.

The good news is the fence held up adequately to repel a flying race car. The bad news is in the construction of the fence allowed flying shards of debris to penetrate the fence and strike spectators. It was clear to see what happened during yesterday’s broadcast on the Fox TV network. The grid is too wide to withhold flying auto parts. What’s needed is some additional mesh which is transparent enough to give fans a superb view of the action, but will not allow penetration should an on the track episode send materials flying into the stands.

Major league baseball has used a variety of materials behind home plate which might be helpful as a supplemental material to block out material the stronger heavy grid cannot stop.

Meanwhile, baseball has some work to do. With the rise of maple bats and their tendency to fly to pieces in much smaller, sharper splinters than the traditional ash bats, fans have been injured while on the field players face a new on the field hazard. To what extent MLB is getting control of this issue is not getting much press.

All sports must make the safety of fans and participants their highest priority with zero tolerance for avoidable consequences. Fans must also accept the responsibility for being alert and attentive while attending races, baseball games, or even basketball games where players could be driven into the first rows of spectators. How many of us have been to sporting events where an occasional fan finds conversation on a cell phone more important than the event taking place.

A culture of safety for all involved needs constant reinforcement.

The Baltimore Ravens & the 2009 Draft: Deeper and More Versatile

While we can already hear local sports-talk callers whining that the Ravens did not grab more glamorous selections in the 2009 draft, a wide receiver or a killer tight end for instance, what the Ravens gained was depth and versatility.

The Ravens moved up a few slots in trade with New England to secure Michael Oher, an offensive tackle from Mississippi who should add more power to their offensive line giving QB Joe Flacco more protection and possibly opening up Todd Heap to become more of an offensive weapon not being forced to block as frequently.

Paul Kruger, DE from Utah, 2nd round; Lardarius Webb, CB from Nicholls State, 3rd round; and Jason Phillips, ILB from TCU, 5th round all add depth and more options for the Ravens powerful defense.

There is no fourth round pick as it was traded to New England to move up in the first round.

Davon Drew, TE from East Carolina, 5th round and Cedric Peerman, RB from Virginia, 6th round, add more options on offense where Peerman may compete as a candidate to return kicks.

Most fans and experts would see a flashy wide receiver as the team’s most urgent need. Efforts to secure Anquan Boldin from the Arizona Cardinals never materialized. How seriously the Ravens were in the hunt now looks as though the team was less aggressive. The free agent market is not attractive particularly after T.J. Houshmandzadeh left Cincinnati to sign with Seattle.

The Ravens still appear to need a couple impact players to be Super Bowl bound after the 2009 season, but they are making their current strengths deeper and stronger. Surely, the team will be active fine tuning their lineup before training camps open in late July.

Swine Flu: What is a Greater Threat -- the Swine Flu or Swine News Media and Politicians?

Which photo is the most likely source of something that will make you sick? Swine, Swine flu virus, and Swine reporter.

Swine Flu Outbreak/Swine Journalism

How serious is the Swine Flu outbreak that has killed at least 86 Mexican residents and has spread into the United States and even as far as New Zealand?

Flu pandemics are nothing new, though threats of horrible outbreaks have fortunately not panned out recently, it’s been 41years since the 1968 massive outbreak while other massive outbreaks plagued the United States in 1957 and 1918.

The challenge we face is getting accurate, timely information, and it’s hard to trust getting an honest answer from the news media who is more concerned with their political agendas, sensationalism, and the quest for ratings and circulation than any attempt to provide vital information to the public they serve.

While we generally applaud Fox News for their unbiased coverage which gives Americans who don’t subscribe to the philosophies of the radical left, Fox news can resort to some of the shoddiest sensationalism in the business. They have a long history of dwelling on the stories focusing on murdered beautiful white women with almost no significance to peoples’ day-to-day lives while more important stories get short changed.

Surely, all their good efforts evaporate when the master of self-promotion and editorializing while reporting, Geraldo Rivera is front and center. Rivera has a long history of putting himself in the center of dramatic news stories which seem more oriented to his subjective “how it feels to be there as only Geraldo can feel it” than solid, accurate reportage. Consider his distortions live from Afghanistan in the early days of that conflict.

For his usual Sunday night broadcast, Geraldo dedicated the entire hour to coverage of the Swine flu outbreak. While it is certainly serious and we deserve news coverage which helps us understand our exposure to this massive health risk, Geraldo does little to give us a clear sense of direction. With so many different figures interviewed for sound clips for the program, these are not the kinds of figures with whom the public has the advanced knowledge to weigh their reliability. The most disturbing revelation is that Janet Napolitano has been distracted from adding more possible conservative sources to her domestic terrorist list (did she leave out home schoolers?) to head the government’s efforts to respond to this threat.

Symptoms for Swine flu are typical of most annual flu outbreaks but could be more severe. It does respond to Tamiflu. Napolitano has reassured the public that it’s perfectly okay to eat pork. One cannot contract the virus from pork consumption. Let’s hope the Islamic community is not offended. We are urged to wash our hands frequently. Mayor Blumberg, from New York, was much more direct and assertive.

Any politician or media figure who exploits or politicizes this health issue must be held accountable for his or her actions. Now is the time for professionalism of the highest order, yet somehow we expect to hear Obama kingpins positing their could have done better if it weren’t for cuts or other actions of the Bush administration.

Sprint Cup 2009, Race 9: Part-time Rookie Kezolowski Wins in Dramatic Finish

AP Photo of Carl Edwards flying aloft while
Brad Kesolowski runs for the finish line.

We’re used to seeing Carl Edwards doing mid-air flips, but not in his car! Meanwhile, what were the odds Brad Keselowski would be the big winner.

When has there been a madder, more unpredictable Talladega race than this year’s contest. Simply that part-time driver, not even in the rookie chase, Brad Kesolowski, won the race is but one piece of an insane scenario which started with Ryan Newman leading Dale Earnhardt Junior with a little distance ahead of the pack. Behind them, Carl Edwards led Kesolowski. As Edwards and Kesolowski overtook the lead train, something crazy happened. Was it Edwards trying to throw a block on Kesolowski or Kesolowski trying to push for the lead, the #99 car went soaring into the fences along the front grandstand in what could have been an unprecedented disaster, but the “SAFER” barriers and the restraining fences worked to perfection with only a light spray of small debris flowing into the crowd, and as the racers moved on to the finish line, Carl Edwards emerged from his car and ran feverously to the finish line so he could at least, in spirit, cross the line on the lead lap. How the guys in the NASCAR “oval office’ will respond to that is another matter.

Kesolowski’s victory must be the surprise of the year as a part time entry with little experience basked in the glory albeit with Hendricks equipment raced with the confidence and guts of a crafty veteran as if possessed by the ghost of Dale Earnhardt Sr. whose son is Kesolowski’s Nationwide team owner. As difficult and unique the 2.66 mile restrictor plate track is to master, it’s interesting to note how many drivers achieved their first or only victory at the Alabama raceway. While Kesolowski has only led one lap in his brief cup career, it was the one that counted. Last year, Regan Smith almost gained the victory only to be disqualified for racing below the inner yellow line yielding the win to Tony Stewart. Racers Richard Brickhouse, Dick Brooks, Lennie Pond, Ron Bouchard, Bobby Hilin, Jr., and Phil Parsons are all racers whose greatest claim to fame is their win in the ‘Bama Blowout. Brian Vickers posted his only Sprint Cup win in the 2006, October race. Today, many NASCAR observers see Vickers as a driver with a tremendous future, but time will tell if he will be an accomplished driver or another Talladega footnote.

Brad Kesolowski could surely be a star of the future. He was easily the most dominant Nationwide Series driver who was not a Sprint Cup regular with high hopes of competing for the championship in 2009. While early season mishaps have started his season on a less hopeful note, he is one of the main competitors and surely the Nationwide-only drivers who the field must contend with for top honors every week. He almost certainly will race a full-time schedule for the Sprint Cup series in 2010. Originally, it looked like the plan was he would share the #5 ride at Hendricks with Mark Martin, but whether Martin is ready to ease back or Kesolowski would be willing to accept a part time ride is up in the air now that he has achieved something many drivers who have had a ride for several years have failed to achieve, a Sprint Cup win.

The 2009 race promised insanity early on with “the big one” striking early, a multi-car pile up eliminating Mark Martin, Jamie McMurray, Scott Riggs, David Gilliland, and Clint Bowyer. The fiasco began with Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth making contact shooting the #24 car into David Gilliland’s #71 thus chaos ensued with seventeen cars sustaining damage pushing points leader Gordon to a miserable 37th finish.

How ironic it is that two of the series’ most skillful drivers could precipitate such a huge calamity so early in the race is hard to figure. These melees are usually the work of impatient inexperience.

Other dust-ups made the race an exercise of frustration for others. Jimmie Johnson was surging, but a 30th finish knocked his efforts back while other drivers, Kasey Kahne, Kevin Harvick, Sam Hornish Jr., A.J. Allmendinger, and Martin Truex are now behind a bigger, heavier, more immobile eight ball they must roll out of the way to move on to salvage the 2010 season.

This was the kind of race Dale Earnhardt Junior needed desperately. He was in the hunt for the victory right up to the final seconds running a smart, mistake free race showing the skill and promise a championship contender must demonstrate on a consistent basis to be in the chase when that fateful night in Richmond rolls around in early September.

Despite all the flying metal and whole cars, today’s race was still a most competitive affair with twenty three cars finishing on the lead lap, Carl Edwards as the first racer one lap down after his horrific last lap blast off. While Tony Stewart was the last driver on the lead lap, the race did nothing to help only to sidetrack his launch up the chase.

Take last week’s standings, set the blender for high speed or frappe, and here are the results: Kurt Busch (6th place) leaps atop the standings while Gordon and Johnson drop a spot. Kyle Busch gained a spot despite a lackluster finish. Carl Edwards gains a spot while sacrificing his car. Jeff Burton solidified his position moving into the top ten up two places from last week. The biggest jump belonged to Marcos Ambrose who leapt into the top 20 gaining seven positions. Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne, and Dale Earnhardt Junior now stand in 13th, 14th, and 15th all gaining four positions putting them in striking distance of the all-important top 12. David Ragan also moved up 4 spots closing in on the top 25. Reed Sorenson moved the legendary #43 into the top 25 gaining three spots to land in 24th position.

Mark Martin, last week’s winner, was this week’s biggest loser, falling five positions in the standings down to 18th spot. Kevin Harvick falls back four spots to a disappointing 20th position while also falling four spots, A.J. Allmendinger drops off to 27th.

Speaking of efficient racing, one more reward to Brad Kesolowski’s victory is gaining five spots in the standings up to 41st spot in just three races. How disappointing it must be for Travis Kvapil whose team closed up shop after four races to still cover at 43rd in points and could have easily been in the hunt for the top 35 if his operation could continue. All of the top 35 teams have raced in every race this year. There are no racers below 35th to compete in all events, nor has any team made the top 35 without being in all nine races. Scott Speed and David Gilliland are the only two drivers below 35 who look like they could be a factor to compete for the top 35 field unless Brad Kesolowski gets a lot more seat time.

This week’s race provided one of the season’s first big land marks since the qualifying field became based on this year’s results not last year’s to set the field. The season marks the end of the first quarter. With such a major shakeup in today’s race, any trends that were developing have been tossed aside by today’s results. Mistakes and missed opportunities were beginning to define a horrible season for Dale Earnhardt Junior. A dominant performance and second place finish helped ease those concerns. While today did nothing to help Tony Stewart, he stands only three points out of third while his teammate, Ryan Newman surged ahead to 13th, thirty points out of the vital top 12. The big story is that Tony Stewart’s new operation, Stewart-Haas racing must be considered a tremendous success with Newman in ideal position to win today’s race and many other successes for both drivers who both seem to be getting stronger as each week passes.

Looking at the top teams, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson are certain championship contenders while both Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Mark Martin struggle to find consistency to join in the chase for the Hendricks operation. Despite winning the first two races with Matt Kenseth, 2009 looks like a frustrating season for the Roush-Fenway operation. Kenseth is just barely hanging on in the top 12 with Carl Edwards 80 points off the lead in 7th place. Fortunes turned much brighter for Greg Biffle who jumped to 10th spot with his 7th place finish in a field depleted of top contenders. Today’s 12th place finish, likewise, gave David Ragan the chance to move up four positions in a frustrating season while looking like he was on the verge of great things ending 2008. Jamie McMurray’s operation must be feeling the heat falling five positions to 29th knowing the Roush operation must cut one team to fulfill NASCAR’s four team limit which takes effect next year. They could wind up with the struggling second Ford operation, Yates Racing, next year. Things couldn’t be much more frustrating there considering they had to disband the #28 team with Travis Kvapil for lack of sponsorship, while newcomer, Paul Menard, languishes in 33rd spot. Much hope surrounded Hall-of-Fame facing allying with Yates teaming former championship driver, Bobby Labonte with championship crew chief, Todd Parrott, but they only have a miserable 30th position to show for it even though they have essentially the same gear as the Roush-Fenway competitors. This could be the season’s greatest disappointment so far for those not locked into the #88 team soap opera.

Denny Hamlin stands in 5th place while Kyle Busch is in 6th for Joe Gibbs operation. This is not the kind of domination many might have been expected of Toyota’s top team. Joey Logano shows his inexperience at the top level growing slowly to be a competent competitor on the top level. Still, looking at his performance in the Nationwide Series where he is a true contender, fans will be looking for his growth as the season progresses.

Richard Childress places two drivers in the top 12, Bowyer with the new #33 team in 8th and Jeff Burton in 9th. Neither driver has looked too threatening so far this year while 2009 has been a horrible frustration for Kevin Harvick’s #29 team. Newcomer, Casey Mears is one spot behind Harvick in the standings at 21st. Frustration with these teams’ performance lead to swapping pit crews and chiefs between these two teams.

2009 has to be a much happier year for the Dodge boys with Kurt Busch being a very consistent performer atop the standings. However, there isn’t another Dodge on the leader board until the reformulated Gillette/Evernham operation joining forces with Richard Petty now branded as Richard Petty Racing spots Kasey Kahne in 15th position with Reed Sorenson in 24th, A.J. Allmendinger in 27th, and Elliot Sadler in 28th.

The shotgun wedding that formed Earnhardt/Ganassi racing hardly looks promising. Juan Montoya, the Ganassi survivor holds down 16th dropping one spot. The only remaining from DEI, Martin Truex, is in 23rd spot, falling two from this race. John Andretti’s 27th finish yields a borderline from the bottom 34th spot in points but nowhere to be found in the standings is the #8 car, once the DEI flagship with Dale Earnhardt Junior behind the wheel. Its operation was suspended when no continued sponsor could step forward ditching driver Aric Almirola to the unemployment line. This merger is looking more and more like a desperate move to keep some semblance of their former operations on the track. Under current financial hardships, there is no room to grow only to contract.

Perhaps the most positive signs are from the Penske camp. Kurt, yes big brother, the one with the championship, not the annoying little brother who looks like a soon-to-be-crowned champ stands in #1. David Stremme replacing Ryan Newman in the #12 car stands in 22nd after a difficult day in Talladega. Sam Hornish Jr. is beginning to adjust to NASCAR’s style of driving.

The effects of the miserable economy are clear for drivers like Travis Kvapil and Aric Almirola who lost their rides for no sponsorship dollars. The off-season mergers were the biggest change mandated by tight dollars. The suspension of testing might favor more experienced drivers, but Brad Kesolowski’s win today might dent that theory. Another positive sign is that there have been more contestants than starting positions for every race so far. Surely, the competition on the race track continues to be just fine, no impact noted.

The long stretch of the mid-season is upon us and it’s on to Richmond then Darlington for some intense Saturday night racing. By the time the fellows finish the Coca Cola 600 in Charlotte Memorial Day weekend, a much clearer picture of the championship fight emerges. Right now, it’s an open field with lots of potential good stories. That Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson are close to the top this early and appear to only have the potential to get stronger must have the Penske, Childress, Gibbs, and Roush boys more than just a little nervous.

Sprint Cup racing is a performance-based business. Teams will be under pressure like never before to get results. Sponsors will be looking carefully for return for investment to justify their investment in the sport. Chevrolet and Dodge are on the hot seat while their parent companies struggle for survival. Fans find shallower wallets to buy race tickets and NASCAR loot. Television networks will be analyzing every rating point to see how their investment in the sport is succeeding. It’s hard to imagine the 2009 season won’t play out like previous seasons we’ve enjoyed for decades, but what if a multi-car operation has to close up shop during the season? What if General Motors or Chrysler has to withdraw factory support? Of the nation’s top sports, probably no other sport rides on the fortunes of the economy more conspicuously than NASCAR. If the balance of this season is as enjoyable to watch as the first quarter, this will be a fine year. It’s way too soon to speculate about 2010.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Sprint Cup 2009, Race 9: Dixie Daze

On to Talladega deep in the Alabama mountains, the competition turns to NASCAR’s longest track, 2.66 miles in length. Forty five drivers have entered, so two will go home, but the race that will mark the end of the 2009 season’s first quarter finds many teams looking for answers while others build on early season success.

If there was ever a good place for Dale Earnhardt Junior to return to form, now is the time. Adding to another dismal afternoon on the track where Junior was clicking off laps led early in the race then a race ruined by mistakes, the #88 driver added to the concern of a driver out of control with a post-race confrontation with driver Casey Mears. We’re not suggesting who’s at fault here, but it shows that in 2009, trouble seems to follow the sports’ most popular driver who will serve the next six weeks on probation one more stress factor on a team still looking for positive direction in 2009.

This would be a good time for Roush drivers to show championship form. Perhaps, nothing more that a little more attention and success is all that’s needed, another top tier team has resorted to more drastic action. Richard Childress Racing is swapping crews between the #07 Casey Mears team and the #29 Kevin Harvick team. Todd Berrier will be crew chief for Casey Mears’ ride while Gil Martin, very successful with Clint Bowyer the past two years, will partner with Harvick.

Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman continue to develop Stewart-Haas into a successful operation. Could Talladega be Stewart’s (or Newman’s) breakthrough race?

Restrictor plate racing is its own phenomenon in NASCAR and while some similar strategies and skills are required for both Daytona and Talladega, the two tracks have such different driving characteristics, drivers must focus on vastly different skills. While forming trains of drafting cars is required at both tracks, Daytona’s rough surface and turn configurations makes it much more of a handling race. Talladega with its high banking and smoother transitions is much more a strategy race.

Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, teammates who possess seven championships between them compared to five among the rest of the field (Tony Stewart, 2; Matt Kenseth, 1; Kurt Busch, 1; Bobby Labonte, 1) lead the point standings both looking like strong contenders for this years’ championship. Last years’ two primary competitors besides Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch still haven’t shown their possible dominating form.

It’s time for the real contenders to announce themselves as the long stretch of the mid-season beckons. For some, it could be a long, cruel ride if results aren’t forthcoming. Dale Earnhardt Junior was once the master of restrictor plate racing and with Hendricks equipment, here’s his golden opportunity to show NASCAR fans he can compete for the chase. If he doesn’t not at least score a top ten finish this weekend, is it too soon to consider the 2009 season a loss? The clock is ticking. We wish him well, but this is one column that gave up making excuses for Junior a long time ago.

Another Earth Day: More Speeches of Doom and Gloom, and ....

recycling used to be a part of day to day life!

Another “Earth Day” has come and gone and to what end?

What's different this year is that the United States now has a President, Barack Obama, who is perpetually drunk on Al Gore's and Robert Kennedy's stash of green Kool Aid, and the concept of "carbon caps" are only the beginning of the insanity our hell-bent on socialism leader might consider.

For some, this year’s observance would be seen as the 39th anniversary, when Senator Gaylord Nelson conducted his first environmental teach-in on April 22, 1970. For those of us who can remember back to the 1960’s and earlier, we can remember what it was like driving through industrial areas like the New Jersey Turnpike approaching New York City, The Baltimore Harbor Tunnel Thruway, the expressways to the south of Chicago, and the expressways leading to Niagara Falls around Buffalo, New York and remember the stench of the refineries, the spewing chemicals from industrial smokestacks, and the soot in the air. It was sickening. Littered highways were a common sight. The sight and smell of major bodies of water in major cities, the Baltimore Harbor, the Delaware River, the Detroit River, and much of an entire Great Lake, Lake Erie were full of floating litter, dead fish, and waste. A trip through the mountains of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia revealed unsightly strip mines with rivers and streams leading through them with discolored, fouled water.

Certainly, some of the most unsightly forms of pollution have been conquered. One can walk through downtown areas of Baltimore, Washington, and Philadelphia in most weather conditions and the air does not seem unpleasant.

Still, in the Mid-Atlantic area, we cannot ignore our greatest natural treasure, the Chesapeake Bay which has faced crisis after crisis through the decades while some problems appear solved; others continue, some worsen, and new ones develop. In the late 70’s and early 80’s, the striped bass or rock fish had all but vanished, now nice large ones can be caught in season. The bay might not have visible swill, scum, and algae to the extent once observed in the past, but the bay is not well. Twenty years ago, one could go crabbing, and catch a bountiful harvest of big delicious blue crabs in a morning’s or afternoon’s work, almost effortlessly catching enough crabs for quite a lavish crab feast. Crabs by the bushel were available all along the Chesapeake Bay communities quite affordable for working class people who’d chow down on them with some good old National Beer. Oysters were plentiful. The Crab and Oyster industries thrived along the Maryland and Virginia Chesapeake coasts.

While an afternoon boating on the Chesapeake Bay is still a magnificent experience with incredible sightlines showing Maryland as “America in Miniature” in its finest glory on a bright sunny day spring or fall a close inspection from the northern bay between the Bay Bridge and Aberdeen reveals some man made problems. Gaze to the west and see the ribbon of haze running southwest by northeast more or less paralleling Interstate 95 and know that haze doesn’t belong there. With the massive amounts of auto exhaust where the air masses of the cooler northern continental approach the subtropics of the coastal plain more or less following the fall line, signs of a polluted atmosphere cannot be ignored. The Baltimore-Washington area can experience a sinus, skin, and lung irritating smog when the right weather conditions create a nauseating smog. Summer ozone alerts are still frequent.

Much hard work remains to make man’s destruction of the environment insignificant. Every citizen needs to make some adjustments in his or her day to day living habits to help make this necessity reality. How shameful it is, for instance, living in an apartment, and having no means to practice the most basic forms of recycling short of having to drive to the landfills and recycling centers during one’s free time. Where returnable bottles were the norm when we were children, throwaway glass, plastic, and metal containers are almost all that’s available in Maryland. Pennsylvania still sells beer at local beer distributors where beer by the case is in returnable long neck bottles, the best way to enjoy beer. Up into the 1970’s, sodas were primarily sold in returnable bottles. Local gas stations often sold cases of coke in wooden containers with 10, 12, or 16 oz bottles. Almost all milk was sold in ½ gallon and quart returnable bottles. What could be tastier than grandma’s canned tomatoes, tomatoes from our vegetable garden “canned” in reusable jars? Even the most expensive organic tomatoes from gourmet grocers don’t come close.

While automobiles are far less polluting than cars built before pollution controls started being mandated in the late 60’s, rest assured if one leaves the motor running in the garage, he’ll die from carbon monoxide and other toxic emissions just about as quickly. In the 1960’s, it looked like the future of energy production belonged to nuclear plants, and since 1979, what happened to that?

While much work needs to be done, the focus of environmental improvement is way out of line. Much work needs to be done. We scratched the surface above, but sadly environmentalism has become a kind of green fascism led by some of the western world’s most rabid socialists and committed extreme leftists whose agenda seems to be more directed toward an anti free enterprise agenda and less by pragmatic air, water, solids, and land use management. Claims of impending doom as a call to action cloud the real issues and compromise the whole movement.

Looking back to claims made during the first Earth Day, it’s a miracle we’re even still alive to be having this discussion. Organizer, Dennis Hayes opined “It is already too late to avoid mass starvation. Senator Nelson spoke of the words of Dr. S. Dillon Ripley, then Secretary of the Smithsonian that within 25 years between 75 and 80 percent of all species of animals would be extinct. Popular environmentalist, Paul Ehrlich, author of The Population Bomb, maintained that between 1980 and 1989, 4 billion humans including 65 million Americans would starve to death. (Gee, isn’t obesity the new threat to the environment according to a British study?) Life magazine published that by 1985, the amount of sunlight reaching the earth would be reduced by half.

How ironic it is then that the concern then was that the earth was getting COLDER. The earth’s mean temperature would be four degrees cooler by 1990 and eleven degrees by 2000 which they considered would be twice the extent required to bring about a massive ice age. Thinking back to the winters of 1976-77, 77-78, 78-79, that wouldn’t seem so far-fetched. They also predicted that oil consumption at the 1970 rate of consumption would result in complete depletion of all crude oil.

Who could forget the dire predictions of the April 28, 1975 cover of Newsweek about the impending ice age? From its stark cover to all kinds of maps, charts, and figures, the famous Peter Gwynne article created a real sense of climatological doom. In 1975, without the Internet, cable television, and the media explosion, the impending ice age, global cooling, did not rev up the kind of hysteria the global warming frenzy of the last decade has been able to gin up, but given how cold the next three winters were in the eastern United States, it sure seemed to have some plausibility.

Among the radical left, global warming is still the mad hysteria for which our economic systems and lifestyles need to be turned inside out to address. It’s noteworthy, that increasingly as the widespread doom seems to be not quite as forthcoming as were other predictions of environmental doom, the term, “climate change” has become more fashionable. Regardless, in recent years, the warming trend has subsided. Go figure!

So what does all this mean?

First, at least in the United States and Western Europe, it would be absurd to accuse almost anyone of being “anti-environment.” Surely, there is a very destructive movement of extreme fascism masquerading as environmentalism with former Vice President, Al Gore, being one of its most vocal leaders; however, as far out of bounds as many of his suggestions are along with figures like Robert Kennedy Jr., their voices are moderate compared to the most extreme.

The primary debate surrounds two different approaches. One approach is the free market approach where developing green technologies are rewarded and developing an incentive based system of improving the environment should be promoted. The other is through massive regulation, penalties, restrictions, and government implemented, managed, and enforced solutions such as the “carbon cap” nonsense proposed by the Obama administration. One outgrowth of this kind of thinking is the ridiculous concept of “carbon credits” where a company can trade its pollution control requirements in exchange for investing in offsetting pro-environmental activities elsewhere. When one examines what insane things count as carbon credits and how much of this program reduces to good old political wheeling and dealing is especially onerous.

Looking at the big picture, without going to all kinds of charts and diagrams, going statistic crazy to document what is happening to the environment and what future scenarios could involve, sound environmental policy should be designed to minimize human imposition on the environment as much as possible without imposing ridiculous consequences on individual freedom and economic sustainability. All societies should always be engaged in constant efforts to find better, less imposing methods of energy generation, land use, and all human activities which impact our planet.

Foreign policy is at the heart of sound environmental policy and the world’s major economic powers are failing miserably on this front. While international treaties like the Kyoto accords would have imposed substantial burdens on the United States, Japan, and Western Europe, other economies were left scot free.

As the United States and Europe outsources manufacturing more and more to countries with weak environmental enforcement, these manufacturing countries are causing horrible strain to the planet’s health. While the world is awash of cheap finished goods manufactured in China, Chinese power plants and industrial output contributes significantly to atmospheric sulfur causing damaging acid rain in Canada as one for instance.

China, Russia, and the Islamic world show little willingness to work constructively toward maintaining the planet’s well-being while the rest of the world comes racing to them for cheap manufactured goods and energy supplies.

Considering that industrial equipment, consumer goods, electronics products, and many more commodities are manufactured in China to be sold by major American, Japanese, and American corporations from virtually all home electronics manufacturers, major retailers, home appliance firms, and the fashion industry, should we not be using the power of our customer dollars on the world market to demand proper environmental considerations?

American, Japanese, and European manufacturers should insist that their manufacturing units in China and elsewhere adhere to the same environmental standards as they do in their home countries. Since the world manufacturing market does not control the means by which China generates electricity, our governments can impose severe tariffs specifically targeted toward the pollution its infrastructure adds to the world’s environment. These tariffs should be two-fold, one to help countries remedy the cost of damage caused by Chinese pollution and second to incentivize China to meet world standards in energy production and vehicular pollution. To the extent China fails to comply, the world economy should continue to ramp up tariffs on China while rewarding industrial economies that are responsible.

The world’s civilized nations must unite and end their hands-off policy toward dealing with equatorial nations that are destroying the world’s rainforests using political and economic pressure to end the destruction of a vital part of the world’s eco-system. Similar tactics should be employed where “scorched earth” type behavior creates other environmental catastrophes whether it involves purely environmental concerns or behavior that endangers the world’s food chain and wild life, examples being; over hunting or fishing, poaching endangered species, or engaging in farming practices which leaves the soil unsustainable.

Doing nothing or leaving it up to someone else solves nothing while environmentalist fascism cannot be tolerated either. Human creativity, the free enterprise system, and respect for God’s bountiful creation will yield a world where human progress can exist in harmony with the natural environment. Greed, politics, and blaming someone else while accepting no responsibility yields the status quo. We can do better. We must do better.

If folks think Al Gore is the answer, they’re not asking the right questions.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Cola Wars

from left to right "new" Coke; "new Pepsi, 2008 forward; Obama logo

Twenty four years ago today, Coca-Cola made one of the worst corporate decisions in the history of U.S. business right up there with Ford's Edsel and Microsoft Windows Vista. Seeing its market share slip to Pepsi, the Atlanta based soda giant tinkered with the formula for the world's most popular soft drink using corn sweetner and fructose to change Coke's noteworthy tart flavor to a much sweeter, blander taste. Public reaction was vicious. Loyal customers were abandoned as ever Pepsi was closer to the old Coke than this new product. This writer is a real Coca Cola fiend and loathed the new product switching to R.C. Cola and Jolt (if the caffeine jitters weren't too extreme) for the duration.

On July 10, 1985, Peter Jennings interupted regular programming to announce, Coke was returning to its original flavor, though it would be called Coca Cola classic, the soda guzzling public got its old friend back though it wasn't entirely old Coke using corn syrup and fructose, but few would dectect a difference, it was "the real thing."

Coca Cola maintained a two Coke strategy for a few more years eventually rebranding the new formula as Coke II, but it was unceremoniously dumped by the end of 2002. Likewise, the "Classic" notation on the original flavor continued to grow smaller. Today's product is still Coca Cola "Classic" but who'd ever notice or say so.
Meanwhile, Pepsi has done something that has nothing to do with the taste of its product, but for a patriotic traditional American, is action is equally distasteful. Always claiming to be pitching to the new generation, Pepsico attempted to coattail on "Obama Mania" changing its logo to look more like like Obama campaign logo. Now, what will Jeffrey Immelt do to GE's logo to show how much his once great corporation has swallowed the Obama Kool Aid, er uhm, Pepsi that it is.

In the meantime, have a "Coke and a smile." :-)

Monday, April 20, 2009

The "Torture" Debate and How the War on Terror has Gone Off Course

Pictured: the terrorists and the terrible.

The New York Times reported Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the confessed architect of the 9/11/01 attacks on the New York World Trade Center and the Pentagon was waterboarded 183 times, and according to a 2005 Justice Department memo as part of the CIA’s overseas detention program Abu Zubaydah, the first major accomplice captured was subjected to the procedure 83 times.

It’s time somebody says this, thank you President Bush and to his men who worked so diligently to get to the bottom of how the 9/11 attacks happened. In such a complex operation planned largely overseas, they were able to identify the prime suspects, seize them, and get to the bottom of their plans in quick order. As such, our intelligence and defense operations got right to the heart of Bin Ladin’s wicked Al Qaeda operation to identify what they were doing and then were able to insulate the United States for the remainder of his administration against a single attack against private United States citizens, our military, or our interests either in the United States or overseas.

What’s really disgusting about this whole matter is not that the most worthless scum the world has to offer, is that our efforts to deal the most conspicuously evil, murderous thugs to walk the earth at least since Hitler’s Nazis exterminated millions of Jews is shown in any way as a bad thing not the heroic and justified action it truly was. There is no question that waterboarding is a miserable experience for someone to endure. However, it is a procedure some of our special ops men have been subjected to as part of their training and toughening. News reporters have voluntarily submitted to the procedure to report on just how effective a method it is.

Let’s be clear on two things. Waterboarding causes no lasting physical damage whatsoever to its subjects. The procedure was used under careful supervision and with layers of permission on only the most dangerous high value detainees in the war on terror. Most importantly, it worked. The United States got the key intelligence it needed to break the back of Al Qaeda rendering them, at least up to now, incapable of further attacks on our republic.

Those responsible, whose confidentiality can be revealed, should be applauded as heroes. The American people owe them a debt of gratitude for their persistence and determination to accomplish goal number one, securing our safety against the worst single day attack on domestic United States targets where close to 3000 of our fellow citizens were killed for no other reason than reporting to work as most responsible Americans do almost every day of their adult lives.

Those who attacked us were more than criminals. They were enemy combatants. Their actions were not simply crimes. They were acts of genocide. Their tactics, hijacking four airliners and using them as weapons to kill as many Americans as possible exceeds all known definitions of aggressive warfare which we can only best describe as terrorism. This was not the action of a rogue or tyrannical state against another nation. It was the action of an organized, well-financed and meticulously managed operation grounded in the most insidious perversion of the Muslim religion as justification to destroy as many of our fellow citizens as possible because our values and interests, that we stand for freedom, self-expression, free enterprise, the integrity of women and people of all faiths, and democracy stand as the absolute opposite of their vision of society which has only been seen on a grand scale when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan where, for starters, women were forced to hide behind clothing that best resembled burlap fertilizer bags while being denied the most basic necessities of civilized life including education and who could be beaten or killed for any action that displeased the males of Taliban society. Even the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein or radicalized Iran would be seen as too permissive by these evil thugs.

Because we are a civilization where the rights and integrity of the individual matters, we are very careful to resort to behavior where simply resorting to those actions where the ends justify the means is an acceptable response to even the most barbaric acts against us, but all philosophies have their limits.

While the radical left, the news media, and many politicians express their outrage against the “enhanced interrogation” methods employed by the Bush administration, we must put what was done in proper perspective. As the Obama administration could obviously care less at what is at stake revealing confidential matters of things done to assure our safety, the actions those who would ridicule President Bush’s decisions, the information reveals the layers of permission needed, the precautions taken, and the careful deliberation taken before any actions that go beyond regular passive means of imprisonment were taken. At no time was indiscriminate torture employed and every action taken was as a final measure when more passive measures failed.

What is never considered by figures in the media and most disturbingly the current administration is any sense of perspective. President Bush had to deal with the awesome task of having 3000 Americans killed on his watch and had to take every action conceivable to prevent any further threats to our people. Extreme situations demand extreme measures and let’s be real, when the whole story of how these interrogation episodes were handled with so much scrutiny and followed carefully scripted procedures. It’s not like our officials were just whaling away on these lowest scum of scum.

What rationale against “enhanced interrogation” stands up when the whole situation, who the detainees were, what we stood to gain from them, and how the whole scenario was conducted are considered. There’s been some mumbo-jumbo about if we act in such harsh ways against our adversaries, what are they going to do to us? Let’s see, how were our servicemen treated at Fallouja? What did the Islamic thugs do to American journalist, Daniel Pearl?

Lost in all the moralizing over the methodology of interrogation is the key issue: what measures are being taken by our government to destroy worldwide terrorist movements. While the United States turns inwards against itself, who is the next Khalid Sheik Mohammed? Where is he hiding? What does he know? What is he planning?

This citizen is thankful for the single-mindedness and resolve shown by our last President to keep our nation safe. It’s a very difficult job with many tough questions to answer and decisions to be made. When considering the big picture, how could there be any compassion against thugs like Khalid Sheik Mohammed?

Meanwhile, look how far our efforts have fallen in less than 100 days. Between President Barack Obama and Homeland Security Chief, Janet Napolitano removing concepts like “war on terror,” “terrorist,” and “enemy combatant” from their official vocabulary and seeking to deal with terrorists as ordinary criminals with all the protections afforded regular American citizens during peace time, clearly they do not understand the severity of the situation, just how wicked and determined our adversaries are, and just how much carefully focused efforts are required to succeed.

Instead, they are more worried about what potential threats might exist among those who are most likely to have political and moral values that don’t agree with theirs wasting precious time and resources on their shameful confidential report to law enforcement where even the servicemen who surrendered their personal freedom, put their lives on the line, and fought overseas to secure our freedom are seen as a pool of possible recruits for ultra-conservative domestic terrorist operations. They don’t mind throwing around concepts like terror when talking about our own people including committed Christians whose moral standards pit them against abortion and embryonic stem cell research, gun owners, listeners to talk radio, citizens dealing with the consequences of the failing economy, or are concerned about the effects of illegal immigration,

Their wild goose chase against our own citizens prefaces its key findings with the following rationale:

The DHS/Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) has no specific
information that domestic rightwing* terrorists are currently planning acts of violence,
but rightwing extremists may be gaining new recruits by playing on their fears about
several emergent issues. The economic downturn and the election of the first
African American president present unique drivers for rightwing radicalization and

Then the balance of the report goes on to define those they see as possible threats, threats with no specific information, our own citizens all engaged in lawful pursuits whose greatest threat is that when push comes to shove, their core values, lifestyle, or current situation might encourage values contrary to the orthodoxy of Obama administration dogma.

All of these perceived threats are spoken of in terms of terrorism with an entire section of the report dedicated “Disgruntled Military Veterans.” That the second most extreme act of terrorism in the United States was committed by a psychopathic former Gulf War soldier, Timothy McVeigh appears to have created a waive of paranoia enveloping the judgment and thinking of Ms. Napolitano.

While the administration is chasing windmills worried about what we, normal citizens, who are appalled at how his administration is behaving and is anxious to reveal every confidential action the Bush administration took that does not agree with them, what are they doing to protect us from our most dangerous threat, radical Islam. They won’t even call the threat by what it is. How can any of us feel safe in that context?

Who knows what revelations lie ahead or to what extent the Obama maniacs will go to discredit the previous administration who accepted the awesome challenge of putting our safety first? Clearly, the Obama administration is more concerned about its political standing and threats against its ability to saturate the public with its radical policies without dissent.

What is a greater abuse of power; making an Al Qaeda leader very uncomfortable streaming water in his nose to obtain much needed intelligence or developing a report which concedes having no “specific information” targeted against normal American citizens whose values and lifestyles put them at odds with how the Obama administration would want them to behave?

The conclusions are obvious. How could our enemies not feel profoundly embolden when they realize their threat is no longer taken seriously when our government is more concerned with scolding itself for how it dealt with those at the heart of the terrorist movement while at the same time showing extreme paranoia against the very citizens they are charged with protecting?

With the whole situation presented in its full context, we admire President Bush and his chain of command for exercising such remarkable restraint and considering their actions so carefully while doing what was necessary to obtain the most precious intelligence of all in the war on terror. Given all the crimes against humanity Khalid Sheik Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah were guilty of exploiting, that these examples of the absolute worst of human scum could be handled in such a purposeful, professional manner aimed solely at the goal of obtaining information and not pounding away on them for retribution shows the highest kind of moral behavior in the heat of warfare imaginable.

How these simple facts and principles can be so hard to understand is difficult to comprehend. These are the factors the news media should be presenting the American people not the constant Chicken Little ‘the sky is falling’ hysteria that our officials had to act very assertively against the absolute most wicked villains on the face of the earth.

This citizen thanks President Bush and prays that my fellow Americans will eventually appreciate his wisdom. If the news media won’t tell us the truth, how are we to know any better?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Anderson Cooper and David Gergen Stoop to Tea Bagging Insults

Anderson Cooper, “It’s hard to talk when you’re teabagging.” Here’s an exchange that will make civil Americans furious:

Our outrage continues to grow as we gain some perspective on the April 15th, Tax Day, “Tea Party” demonstrations and how those events have been reported and analyzed by the mainstream media, Democrats, and academic elite. There was a most unfortunate exchange between CNN’s hottest reporter, Anderson Cooper and the ultimate voice of the inside-the-Beltway Washington elite point of view, David Gergen, who despite their elite heritage, couldn’t keep themselves from stooping to oral sex sarcasm, speaking of “tea baggers.”

Is there a bigger asshole in the news business, at least outside NBC/MSNBC, than Anderson Cooper? No one has a more elite lineage than the prematurely gray 41 year old CNN top rotation news anchor. Cooper is the son of the epitome of self-styled American aristocracy, Gloria Vanderbilt, 4th generation upper crust heiress, the kind of high society notable famed much more for who she knows not what she knows.

Upon birth, silver spoon in mouth, little Anderson was in the spotlight long before he stopped wetting his diapers (though we have never confirmed he has, in fact, stopped doing that – we extend him the customary benefit of the doubt) was photographed still an infantby celebrity photographer Diane Arbus for Harper’s Bazaar. At three years old, he appeared on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in the company of his mother. As a preteen he modeled for the Ford model agency for clients including Macy’s, Ralph Lauren, and Calvin Klein. He was schooled at the ultra-elite Dalton School hovering way above the huddled masses atop the ultimate ivory tower life. From there, it was just a small step to the Ivy League, Yale University.

His first significant media gig was as a correspondent for ABC, briefly serving as co-anchor for its overnight “World News Now.” Apparently not glamorous enough, he’d move on to host ABC’s (non)reality show, “The Mole,” a show high on exploitation, low on substance.

Following the course of the Peter Principle elevating to his proper level of incompetence, CNN beckoned first appearing along side, downward spiraling anchor, Paula Zahn and then weekend prime time anchor before CNN saw the salty haired Cooper as someone to position against Fox news after years of decline where the original professionals who helped launch the network either left no longer finding a place in the new climate brought on by the Time-Warner control of the network or forced out by that same organization who sought to remove the original Ted Turner influence from the original cable news network. “Anderson Cooper 360” debuted in September, 2003 designed to present a fresh style to news coverage, but while becoming the toast of the chattering class of media insiders, almost six years later, “AC360” hasn’t put a dent in the continued rise of Fox News. Cooper articulated his notion of media anchor as reported by “Media Bistro” in 2007, indicating;

I think the notion of traditional anchor is fading away, the all-knowing, all-seeing person who speaks from on high. I don't think the audience really buys that anymore. As a viewer, I know I don't buy it. I think you have to be yourself, and you have to be real and you have to admit what you don't know, and talk about what you do know, and talk about what you don't know as long as you say you don't know it. I tend to relate more to people on television who are just themselves, for good or for bad, than I do to someone who I believe is putting on some sort of persona. The anchorman on The Simpsons is a reasonable facsimile of some anchors who have that problem.

OH REALLY!?!? Perhaps Anderson Cooper dispatches away from the anchor desk to provide sensationalistic on-the-scene news anchor coverage, but HELLO, Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, and Peter Jennings had been doing that for years. However, Cooper’s style was less that of the formal journalist and more the “I feel your pain” kind of personality driven news figure much more akin to Geraldo Rivera without the mustache and slight Puerto Rican accent. Like Geraldo, AC skillfully worked his perceptions into editorializing while reporting confronting interview subjects with loaded “do you still beat your wife” kinds of questions as he clearly wanted to make a big issue of the government’s response to hurricane Katrina which he characterized in New York magazine, stating:

Yeah, I would prefer not to be emotional and I would prefer not to get upset, but it’s hard not to when you’re surrounded by brave people who are suffering and in need. (September, 2005)

So much for the traditional who, what, when, where foundation of journalism, but AC will surely offer his sense of how and why from his point of view. Media insider publication, Broadcasting and Cable Magazine, noted, “In its aftermath, Hurricane Katrina served to usher in a new breed of emo-journalism, skyrocketing CNN's Anderson Cooper to superstardom as CNN's golden boy and a darling of the media circles because of his impassioned coverage of the storm."
Isn't this the same time period CNN's prime time ratings have been in a freefall downward?

Would this publication say the same of Geraldo Rivera’s highly dramatic demonstrative reporting of Katrina the same way? How about Fox anchor, Shepherd Smith’s coverage where he spoke passionately about his outrage on the suffering of the New Orleans’ citizens struggling to survive after the storm? Shepherd Smith, of course, was the initial target CNN aimed its AC360 media Scud missile at to beat in the ratings chase.

After Katrina, the media insiders felt Anderson Cooper was their star on the rise, their new foxy anti-Fox celebrity “info-tainer” headline purveyor. His star with CNN continues to rise as his program becomes more blatantly agenda and anchor driven, the truth be damned especially if it makes traditional American values seem outmoded. Never let the facts ruin a good story.

David Gergen is the ultimate Washington DC intellectual whore. If there ever was a figure who triumphs on who he knows not what he knows, Gergen is the man. For Gergen, the outmost boundary of his professional world is the Capital Beltway aside from long distance messages to the highest elitist perches in New York, Los Angeles, and the inner circles of the Ivy League.

Born in real America, Durham, North Carolina, establishing the elitist pedigree began as an undergraduate graduating from Yale University in 1963. Four years later, David Gergen received his law degree from Harvard, 1967. The first poll of his life was secure, the northern pillars of the Yale and Harvard ivory towers. After less than four years in the the Navy, it was on to Washington, DC where he has served in a number of “advisor” capacities for the Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Clinton administrations and as a campaign staff member for George H.W. Bush. Bouncing back and forth between administrative rolls and stints in journalism, primarily with US News & World Report but situated as a supposed conservative voice opposite Mark Shields on the MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour, and providing a convenient talking head analyst on a myriad of issues oriented news programs finding regular work with Anderson Cooper 360 and Chris Matthews. Adding to his credentials as one of the deans of the “Inside the Beltway” chattering class is his membership with the Council or Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission.

To call Gergen conservative would essentially be a matter of guilt by association given his service to four Republican presidents. David Gergen is not known for being a strong advocate of any particular positions or agendas other than being a major proponent of mandatory national service hardly a position welcomed by defenders of personal liberty but truly an extension of an ever broadening notion of big government playing a larger roll in every citizen’s private life.

Gergen describes himself as an independent as if he is establishing that as some kind of moral high ground above partisanship. In truth, as the ultimate Washington insider, Gergen is a true DC weathervane ready to move in what direction the prevailing winds in DC are blowing. Since his tenure with the Clinton administration, it would be a long stretch to consider anything Gergen asserts as positioned any further right than the ambiguous zone of the dead center. One need not move too far in the direction of “centrist” to be conservative compared to today’s major figures in the mainstream media or the Democratic party.

If viewed from the “what have you done for me lately” point of view, Gergen was a harsh critic of George W. Bush, but not for his roll in facilitating the roll of big government but more for the former president’s assertive stance on foreign policy and the war on terrorism. Ever the voice for nuanced consensus solutions to the nation’s issues, the unmistakable clearly defined stance and moral conviction that characterized the administration’s war on terror did not sit well with Gergen’s inside-the-Beltway approach. That the administration had little use for playing up to the long standing insiders in DC further made President Bush a subject of Gergen’s criticism.

Put all this together, Gergen is the perfect stooge for the far left media. That the media positions him as former “high level” or “senior” official with several Republican presidents, they revel in his every word that rebukes the policies and actions of Republicans and conservatives they are anxious to paint in the most negative light. Gergen provides the perfect set up for the Liberal elite pundits to point to him and scream, “See even major conservative voices disagree with …..”

That David Gergen would be highly critical of the “Tea Party” movement should come as no surprise. Given major concerns of the movement are the continued growth and intrusion of big government, unrestrained spending, and inside the Washington Beltway being the only place solutions for main street America can originate, Gergen’s condescension and contempt for those who represent the little people in his world is obvious.

Given the background and record of what Anderson Cooper and David Gergen represents, no one should be surprised with Cooper in the anchor chair and Gergen in the pendant seat, their attempts to trivialize and demonize the Tea Party participants served as a clear picture of both how biased toward the radical left and big government they are but also their contempt and clear sense of moral and intellectual superiority over main street America. Make no mistake about it, neither Pennsylvania Avenue, Wall Street, Hollywood Boulevard or Madison Avenue could be considered “main street” by most Americans. While their arrogance is bad enough, that such self-fashioned men of sophistication would giggle about taunts involving oral sex, “tea bagging” where the male scrotum is considered the tea bag is insulting, dismissive, and demeaning beyond what anyone should tolerate in polite society, the kind of world they would swear to uphold. Can anyone imagine the outcry if Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity or Ann Coulter used Barney Frank’s sexuality to demean him by calling him a “fudge packer?”

The attitude of the forces of the media, Washington insiders, the Obama administration, the Democratic party, and socially active members of the entertainment industry could never be clearer than they are now beginning with the Homeland Security confidential report to law enforcement which painted with a broad brush almost any conceivable opponent to the Obama administration is a potential terror threat, to CNN’s on the scene reporter, Susan Roesgen, belittling and lecturing a demonstration participant, to the incendiary comments from Janeane Garafolo loathingly slamming demonstrators and Obama critics as racists up to the highest level of CNN with their most visible anchor utilizing the services of David Gergen to discredit the movement and members of the protests, if a person does not embrace the media propaganda and at least passively accept Obama’s attempt to fashion as socialistic big government makeover on American society, there’s something seriously wrong with that person. Nowhere can any notion of civil respect be seen that there is a legitimate opposition to the radical left and that at least their right to dissent should be welcome.

There is a harsh climate of intellectual fascism flowing out of the nations’ most elite universities and institutions of government being amplified and passed on as gospel by the mainstream media. Accuracy and honesty be damned, the media now exists as an advocacy profession for the scrapping of our constitutional republic and free enterprise system in favor of the world vision of transatlantic elites from Washington, New York, Los Angeles, Ottawa and Toronto on this side of the Atlantic to London, Paris, Berlin, Madrid, and Amsterdam across the sea.

The “conservative” Fox News Network’s account of the Cooper/Gergen segment:

For good measure we can’t resist including this report from soon after the inauguration. Was ol’ AC360 exhausted from all the inaugural celebrations? We’re civil enough we won’t suggest he might be intoxicated! As Fox News would say, “we’ll report, you decide!”

Noteworthy News We Missed

Vince Offer (Vince Shlomi), the world famous "ShamWow" and "Slap Chop" guy was busted in Miami Beach, Florida for felony battery after a melee with a prostitute. Somehow, one of his pitch lines from the Slap Chop commercial seems madly ironic, "you're gonna love my nuts."

Apparently, the Florida hooker didn't think so. Here's an account of the episode from the Smoking Gun website. Smoking Gun seems to be the new millennium's answer for getting the dirt on people in the public eye who were once in "60 Minutes" territory.

What can you say? He insists he was protecting himself because the whore was biting his tongue something he needs desperately given his roll as the pitch man who was destined to replace the ever present blowhard, Billy Mays.

All this leaves us to wonder, why do all the products marketed by these wacko pitchmen always sell for $19.95 (plus God knows how much for shipping and handling.) While it's hard to assess the damage this arrest could have on this budding star's career, somehow the possibility of Vince Offer being the pitch guy for the next series of "Snuggy" ads seems more remote. Imagine the Sham-Wow guy as a snuggle buddy. YEOW!!!
Alas, we're domed to more auditory abuse from Billy Mays. "and the secret is...."
At least we know those "Germans really make good stuff."
Is this a "sham" or a "shame." WOW!!!!!! Just "slap your troubles away."
Witness poetry in motion, the Vince Offer ads:
This dude has a bright future in John Waters movies!!!!

Mark Martin Triumphs at Phoenix

Mark Martin celebrates. (from
Tonight’s Subway Fresh Fit 500 at the Phoenix International Raceway had the kind of happy ending millions of NASCAR fans would be delighted to see, veteran driver, Mark Martin, who intended to retire after the 2005 season but was coaxed into racing one more year by car owner Jack Roush for the 2006 season only to show up as a part time driver for the now defunct Ginn racing coming within a whisker of winning the 2007 Daytona 500 racing part time again for the 2008 in the #8 DEI Chevrolet decided to return to full time racing with NASCAR’s most dominant team, Hendricks Motor Sports, dominated the action leading 157 out of 312 laps despite a late race caution forcing a restart with less than ten laps to go. Also noteworthy was who was Martin’s chief competition finishing second, Tony Stewart who continues to get closer to victory lane with each passing race as his Stewart-Haas team continues to gel with each week. Kurt Busch once again looked strong in 3rd place driving the #2 Miller Lite Dodge. Showing how championships are won though only leading one lap, Jimmie Johnson secured a 4th place finish demonstrating the kind of consistent performance that puts drivers in a position to compete for the championship in the fall. Rounding out the top ten, were Greg Biffle, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex, Jr., David Reutimann, Sam Hornish Jr. and Carl Edwards.

Points leader at the start of competition and last race winner, Jeff Gordon, had late race difficulties finishing in a distant 25th. Matt Kenseth who was starting to return to his early season prowess fell off to 27th.

The evening’s most frustrating performance belongs to Dale Earnhardt Jr. who led 63 races looking like a possible winner during that stretch of the race possibly headed to his best finish of the year. However, it turned into more of the same old, same old for the #88 “Junior Nation” where mistakes on pit road led to increased frustration and falling out of competition winding up in a miserable 31st position. Apparently, the Hendricks organization has been trying to shake things up behind the scenes bringing in new pit crew members, but until the driver himself and his cousin/crew chief get on the same page together, more miserable races like this are inevitable. How long can terrible performance on the track continued to be rewarded with such adulation from the fans? If champions were awarded on who the real good guys in the sport are, Dale Earnhardt Jr. would always be in the running, but he now races for an organization that is capable of providing him with the best equipment and support in the sport, the same engineering that supports Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson and won tonight with Mark Martin. Rick Hendricks is a very patient and wise leader known for his communication skills, but how much longer the scene around the #88 team can continue to flounder before he steps in an does some major reshuffling is surely just a matter of time.

Next week, the Sprint Cup racers return to Dixie for their next restrictor plate race at Talladega. As part of the continued restructuring of NASCAR teams brought on by the harsh economy, Earnhardt/Ganassi racing suspended the #8 team for lack of sponsorship leaving driver, Aric Almirola, without a ride joining the unemployed list with Travis Kvapil whose #28 team folded with the Yates organization. Even so, there were more cars signed up than starting spots in the race, always a healthy sign though even in the best of times, the bottom feeders are seldom factors to compete for the top ten in many races.

The Hendricks war room can celebrate Martin’s win and a solid finish by Jimmie Johnson while frustration is the word of the day for the #24 Jeff Gordon team and what we’ve noted in the #88 team. Additionally, Hendricks equipment run by Tony Stewart nailed down second place while Ryan Newman was strong enough to lead four laps before falling off later in the race to a 16th finish.

It was a tough week on the Roush operation beyond Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards. For Joe Gibbs racing, Denny Hamlin held down 6th but Kyle Busch was never a factor in 17th. Perhaps the bright spot for Gibbs was that rookie Joey Logano finished in 21st one lap down as he continues to mature with the beastly Sprint Cup equipment.