Wednesday, February 23, 2005

More turmoil for the 'Skins

For as much as Danny Boy spends, he really hasn’t gotten much of a return. In fact, the only thing he has been successful at is taking the once great Redskins organization into the toilet. It’s amazing, but he is taking the Gibbs legacy and legend down with him. With Laverneus Coles asking to leave, you really have to wonder. Coles was one of the guys who really played hard last year in every game even though he was pretty banged up. The one thing that is constant with Danny Boy's Redskins is change.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

It's great to be a FOG!

Friends of George W. Bush (FOGs) have done very well at the expense of the average American. We all know about irregularities of Dick Cheney's former firm, Halliburton in their contract efforts in Iraq. Just Google Halliburton and you can read about millions in ongoing overcharges to the American people. Yet, they don't have to worry about losing their no-bid contract as a FOG.

The example that really steams me is that over the last couple of months, big oil companies have reported record profits for 2004. Exxon Mobil, the biggest oil company in the world, had after-tax profits of over $25 billion last year, up 21 percent from 2003. ChevronTexaco had $13 billion in profits, up 77 percent from a year ago. BP earned almost $16 billion in profits, which was up about 25 percent year over year. Finally, ConocoPhillips earned profits of over $8 billion, also up 77 percent from 2003.

Big Oil has given millions to Bush and Republicans and they are reaping the benefits. As if it is not enough that they are screwing average Americans who work hard and struggle to pay for the higher cost of gas, but Big Oil is also taking millions in taxpayer money in Homeland Security grants to buy security cameras, fencing, and communications equipment. The government is running huge deficits, does not have enough Homeland Security money to grant to major cities and to protect public transportation, but it gave $65 million to firms which had record profits in the billions of dollars.

I strongly believe in the capitalist system, but when I am warned about oil shortages and to expect to pay more, it does not make sense to me that Big Oil firms should reap record profits - it certainly stinks of gouging. When you are paying $2/gallon to fill up your car and $300/month on your heating bills, remember that you are helping those poor oil companies set new profit records. Well, it really is great to be a FOG.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Funny Stuff for a Change of Pace

I know it is old news, but I still get a kick out the allegations Andrea Mackris made about the irritatingly pompous Bill O'Reilly (commentator on the O'Reilly Factor for those of you who live under a rock). If you are interested you can read the full complaint filed in a New York Court. I find Pages 16 and 17 particularly hilarious. How many guys do you know use a vibrator on themselves? Given O"Reilly's conservative leanings and self-righteous attitude and the fact that he is married, you got to wonder about who the real Bill O'Reilly is.

Actually, if you want to read some really funny stuff, check out Zug.com. If you go to the pranks section there are some real side-splitters. I found the Viagra prank call to be particularly hilarious.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

How about 'dem Hokies!

Hokies over the Blue Devils - who would have thunk it?

I was really torn last night. I hate the Virginia Tech Hokies and I hate the Duke Blue Devils. I really wasn't sure who I wanted to win. Normally I would go for the team playing Duke, but my Virginia Cavaliers are muddling through a disappointing season and the fact that Virginia Tech is going to end up with a better record than Virginia is horrible.

It was probably the first time EVER, I actually hoped Duke would win. Of course, they had to let me down. When Duke wins I cannot stand it, and last night when they lost I could not stand it.

Iraq: Is it Really Worth It?

I never liked the idea of going into Iraq because there was no link to al Qaeda and 9/11, we were in a war in Afghanistan, the world was not united because there was no clear evidence that Saddam Hussein posed a credible threat to the United States. The situation in Iraq is driving up al Qaeda recruiting.

There is no question that the Bush administration greatly underestimated the resistance in Iraq. They were actually convinced that an American, mostly white, mostly Christian occupying force in the Middle East was a good idea and would be welcomed by Iraqis. You don’t have to be an expert on the Middle East to know that this is a ridiculous assumption. Bush has destroyed 50 years of diplomacy and squandered the goodwill we received after 9/11.

As of yesterday (February 17), almost 1500 American soldiers have been killed and nearly 11,000 have been injured in Iraq.

The President is now requesting an additional $82 billion for Iraq in 2005. This comes on top of the $25 billion that Congress approved several months ago. We are now spending about $2 billion a week in Iraq. We will spend over $100 billion in 2005 battling insurgents, providing security, and rebuilding the nation. To put this into perspective, the 2005 budget for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is $40 billion, and we know there are still many holes in our security.

Think about this, American taxpayers are paying for school supplies and backpacks for Iraqi children. Living outside of Baltimore, I can tell you that students in the city (as well as many other cities in the U.S.) could use school supplies and backpacks. What a colossal waste of American taxpayer money.

While I am happy that the Iraqis had a relatively successful election, and the mettle and courage of the American military should be celebrated, the ultimate outcome is still in question. We should all remember that this was a war of choice, not of necessity. If after all of the lives lost, injuries sustained, and taxpayer dollars spent, it will be a tough pill for the U.S. to swallow if an Islamic state emerges that aligns itself with Iran. We will see what happens.

The National Debt is Scary, Isn't It?

Our country currently has over $7 trillion in debt. The debt has grown larger over the past four years under George W. Bush, than under any other 4-year presidential term. If you want a great site to see where the debt stands I suggest visiting Ed Hall's U.S. National Debt Clock. Historical budget and debt data can also be found at the U.S. Congressional Budget Office. Every American is affected by the debt because over time the debt impacts the economy, interest rates, and government operations/services.

People are often surprised that we have a national debt. Can’t the government just print more money and pay off the debt? No it cannot, because if it were to print another $7 trillion and flood the markets with extra cash, we would create a situation where there would be super inflation. The national and global economy would be devastated as the value of the dollar would drop precipitously. Prices would rise as the dollar would have little value and we would be charged more dollars for goods and services. The stock markets and global markets around the world would be thrown into chaos which would affect us all. All Americans should wake up, because we are all responsible for managing the debt.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Are there any conservatives left in the Republican Party?

What the heck has happened to the Republican Party? I am a fiscally conservative, socially progressive, centrist Democrat with a fairly strong liberatarian streak (keep the government out of my personal business). I am also a person who is willing to cross party lines for moderate Republicans. The Republican Party I remember was for smaller/less government, cutting government spending, and staying out of the personal lives of Americans. Back in the day (just 10 years ago), the idea of sending American soldiers to police the world and conduct nation building exercises was not a Republican value. Neo-conservatives have remade the Republican Party and it is unrecognizable to me.

A Republican Congress, Senate, and President should have resulted in smaller, less intrusive federal government. Instead we have gotten just the opposite with numerous new federal programs and an explosion of spending (and not just for defense and Homeland Security). We are living with unbelievable deficits, a mammoth national debt, and red ink as far as the eye can see. Over $200 billion has been spent liberating the Iraqi and Afghan people and rebuilding their countries (President Bush just asked for another $82 billion for the coming year). The President has federalized education with the unfunded mandates in the "No Child Left Behind" Act. He has proposed giving illegal Mexican workers amnesty. Finally, there are so many infringements on our personal rights as a result of the Patriot Act it is scary. I could go on and on, but grow weary.

Of course the Democratic Party does not know what it stands for. The Party is so messed up that it provides no real alternative to the Republican Party. Over the next few weeks, I will be talking about some of these issues in more detail - both the problems with the new Republican Party and the lost-in-the-wilderness Democratic Party. I know the Democrats are lost, but I wonder where all of the conservatives that I grew up with have gone.