Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Win a Free Vacation by Telling Your Bad Boss Story

A bad boss can drive you nuts! Long hours, low pay. Hard work, no health insurance. The boss gets a golden parachute, you get no pension, no respect. You need a break. Tell us all about it and you could win a much-needed vacation.

Learn more about the contest.

Semifinalist Winners Will Compete for the Grand Prize:
A Paid Getaway from the Boss

Grand prize is a one-week condo vacation with round-trip airfare.

Special Mention Contestants also will receive prizes, such as:

"Take This Job and Shove It" CD, by Johnny Paycheck.

A Survival Guide for Working with Bad Bosses: Dealing with Bullies, Idiots, Back-Stabbers and Other Managers from Hell, by Gini Graham Scott.

The Dictionary of Corporate Bullshit: An A to Z Lexicon of Empty, Enraging and Just Plain Stupid Office Talk, by Lois Beckwith.

"Nine to Five" DVD, signed by Jane Fonda.

The semifinalists will be determined from the contestants whose stories receive the most votes during these voting periods:

1st Semifinalist Vote:
Wednesday, June 14, 12 p.m. until Wednesday, June 28, 11:59 a.m.

2nd Semifinalist Vote:
Wednesday, June 28, 12 p.m. until Wednesday, July 5, 11:59 a.m.

3rd Semifinalist Vote:
Wednesday, July 5, 12 p.m. until Wednesday, July 12, 11:59 a.m.

4th Semifinalist Vote:
Wednesday, July 12, 12 p.m. until Wednesday July 19, 11:59 a.m.

5th Semifinalist Vote:
Wednesday, July 19, 12 p.m. until Wednesday, July 26, 11:59 a.m.

All semifinalists will compete for the grand prize. The voting period for the grand prize is:

Wednesday, July 26, 12 p.m. until Thursday, Aug. 10, 11:59 a.m.

Be sure to return often to vote for your favorites!

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Jump the Shark

Do you remember when your favorite television show took a fatal turn for the worst, when your beloved half hour of escapism tanked?

When did your favorite show jump the shark?

They all go south at some point, like when Hotlips and Hackeye Pierce of MASH 4077th had a love thing, or the bizarre Miami Vice aliens episode. Both ideas wrecked each show.

The term Jump the Shark? The saying comes from the Happy Days episode where Arthur Fonzerelli (The Fonz) jumped a tank of sharks on his motorcycle. What may have seemed like a good way to generate ratings became a pathetic display of creative idiocy. That moment for most, me included, is when the show, which was mostly about teenage angst and growing up in the 1950’s, flew the coup. The death of Happy Days is when the Fonz jumped the shark. It changed the direction and scope of the show and Happy Days lost it's audience forever.

Now the phrase, “Jump the Shark” illustrates the point where something that was once very successful goes very, very bad. I’m a little now older than the day that the Fonz jumped the shark. In fact, I don’t watch much television nor do I have a favorite television show anymore.

I’m more interested in politics now than in citcoms. And recently I ‘ve seen many politicians jump the shark too. So I thought that I’d ask the question, what is your favorite jump the shark moment in the political realm? For me, the most considerable jump the shark moment of late was just after President Bush won the 2004 election. He pushed for Social Security reform, and lost big. In my opinion that’s when President Bush lost his audience. He stepped on the third rail of politics and went down in flames. Here was a President who just won one of the closest elections in American history, a wartime President with a previous 90% approval rating. He had plenty of political capital. What does he do first? He tries to fix a made up problem based on his person ideology rather than constituent need and capsizes his administration.
He’s been sinking slowly ever since.

So what’s your jump the shark moment? Television or politics, it's your choice.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Who Killed the Electric Car?

Now more than ever the need for alternative sources of automobile power is pressing our consciousness. With the price of oil at all time highs and little chance of it dropping anytime soon, those of us who spend much of our time debating at the water cooler are seeking less the conventional answers.
And so as my synapse exchange impulses I wonder; what ever happened to the EV1?

Well, in his new documentary film, "Who Killed the Electic Car", Chris Paine examines the birth, life and untimely death of the modern electric car.
“The film”, says Paine “is about the only kind of cars that we can drive run on oil. And for a while there was a terrific alternative, the electric car”. Paine explores the 1996 GM launch of the EV1. A car like no other, the EV1 was the first electric car which would have given the old tech combustible engine a run for its money. It was fast, powerful, roomy, stylish, and best of all it ran completely on electricity.

In addition to it’s technological advancements, the EV1, according to its drivers, was more of a cohort than a car; it more like a well loved companion. Many relished its efficiency, stylish good looks and ease of use. Yet GM, as represented in the film, intentionally sabotaged its marketing, forced the lease holders to acquiesce their stewardship of the car, then promptly destroyed all of them. Consequently many EV1 lovers held mock funerals for thier former electric cars.
The film itself plays more like a crime drama as it explores the subtle conspiracy as to why the big automakers wanted nothing to do with the emerging electric car market. A market that by 2006 would have been a cash cow for the industry.

For more on the documentary film, “Who Killed the Electric Car” and the conspiracy behind it, visit the PBS news program, Now (Click Here for Show)

To learn more about purchasing alternative automobiles click HERE.

Friday, June 23, 2006

"Character Matters; Leadership Descends From Character"
A quote from Rush Limbaugh

I happened to be listening to the radio yesterday with a friend and to my dismay my buddy is a Rush Limbaugh fan, it was his radio.
As not to seem like a raving lunatic with a foul demeanor who yells profanities at inanimate objects—the radio, not my friend; I generally ignore most of Rush’s brainless rantings and concentrate on more important things; like who the Tampa Bay Devil Rays are going to sign for the Aubrey Huff trade.

But the other day, Rush the autocrat caught my attention.

He read a letter, and who knows if it is a real letter, from on of his ditto-head listeners who raddled on about the Iraq Occupation and the unfortunate killing of two brave American soldiers. Two soldiers who were murdered and tortured under absolutely unjustifiable and horrible circumstances.

Here’s the email:


Now that two of our own have been tortured and murdered by the terrorists in Iraq will the left say that they deserved it?
I am so sick of our cut and run liberals.

Keep up your great work!"

Rush sounded off, “I gotta tell ya, I perused the liberal kook blogs today and they are happy that theses two soldiers got tortured”
He went on, “They are saying good riddens! Hope Rumsfield and who ever sleep well tonight”

Yet he failed to provide any evidence of any liberal blog which made such an insensitive statement. In fact, contextually, he made it appear as though acerbic rancor is the norm for the left against our soldiers, yet provided no evidence for this either.

This is a far cry from his normal strawman rantings about heroic conservative attempts to demise the spineless liberal. No, this is much worse...
Rush has once again crossed the line from rude stupidity to depraved dishonesty.

Here is a nationally syndicated talk show host using the deaths of two brave men to score political points and attempt to trash the ideals of better than half of all Americans who believe in traditional liberal values. Liberal values which represent equality, responsibility and stewardship.

Shame on you Rush. Shame on you for using the deaths of these unfortunate soldiers to advance your egocentric musings.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Truth Always Rises
Another instance where Conservatives and Liberals agree.

There has been a lot of banter on this blog about the benefits and pitfalls of free trade, global capitalism, or what I like to call– turbo capitalism. Turbo capitalism is a form of capitalism that seeks growth at all costs regardless of socio-economic, environmental and personal consequences. I learned the term from a speech given by Naomi Klein and it stuck with me.
Beyond the semantic value, turbo or laisse-fair capitalism is a form of fundamentalism which can be as dangerous to democracy as any of the religious sects that plague our world with violence and intimidation. Terrorists are not the only ones who believe that all of life can be encapsulated into a set of rigid, humanity defying rules. The obvious difference is that turbo capitalists do not use violence to demand our attention. Instead they use trade agreements, the IMF, the World Bank and international treaties to win concessions, to bend their opponents will and impose thier own.

Whether it’s a literal reading of the Koran, the Old Testament or an unmoving fidelity for the tenants of trickle down economics, fundamentalism is dangerous for democracy.
Whether fundamentalism is on the left or on the right, religious or secular, we must always resist its destructive movement.

It’s also argued by many that our economy is changing from an archaic industrial society where our workers make most of the goods that we consume to a society where we use our knowledge of engineering and productivity to create the products that we use but those goods will be assembled and materialized by others off our shores.
If this is true, then we should be witnessing resurgence in the growth rate of engineers. But sadly this is not the case. As many of us in the new economy suspected, our counterparts in Asia, who until recently have only taken orders to make our products, are now designing products for American companies and will soon have total ownership of the innovation process.
There is little reason to suggest otherwise.

A consequence of this shift will be increased competition, rising inflation, a falling dollar and growing disparity due to under and unemployment in the United States.
Americans seem relatively clueless to the coming jobless crisis. Most of us are completely unaware, and uninterested, as to where our products are made, let alone who makes them. As a matter of fact, just last week Congress debated whether or not to increase the corporate friendly H1-B visa from its current 65,000 limit to 115,000 visa’s per year.

The H1-B visa is a program that imports cheap foreign engineers into the U.S. while displacing American workers. The infamous visa has no provisions, at least none with any teeth, to pay the imported talent the prevailing wages. Companies who apply for these visa's are aware of this shortcoming and capitalize on its inadequacy. This program not only erodes our tax base and our national spending power, it altogether discourages Americans from studying engineering.

How can this happen? How can we allow our government to facilitate policies that cause good paying industrial jobs as well as middle-class white collar engineering jobs to vanish or go to the lowest bidder? How can we allow our economy to race to the bottom?

We the people are asleep at the wheel and our represenatives have no fear of reprisal.

The following article will illustrate the imposition that turbo capitalism is having on our economy, our jobs, our college graduates and our children’s future. It’s time we all take a good look at where we are moving as a country and what we expect to accomplish out of theses corporate friendly trade agreements which have more authority on some levels than our own national Constitution.

March 16, 2005
Outscourcing Innovation...And Everything Else
America's Has-Been Economy

A country cannot be a superpower without a high tech economy, and America's high tech economy is eroding as I write.

The erosion began when US corporations outsourced manufacturing. Today many US companies are little more than a brand name selling goods made in Asia.
Corporate outsourcers and their apologists presented the loss of manufacturing capability as a positive development. Manufacturing, they said, was the "old economy," whose loss to Asia ensured Americans lower consumer prices and greater shareholder returns. The American future was in the "new economy" of high tech knowledge jobs.

This assertion became an article of faith. Few considered how a country could maintain a technological lead when it did not manufacture.
So far in the 21st century there is scant sign of the American "new economy." The promised knowledge-based jobs have not appeared. To the contrary, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a net loss of 221,000 jobs in six major engineering job classifications.
Today many computer, electrical and electronics engineers, who were well paid at the end of the 20th century, are unemployed and cannot find work. A country that doesn't manufacture doesn't need as many engineers, and much of the work that remains is being outsourced or filled with cheaper foreigners brought into the country on H-lb and L-1 work visas.
Confronted with inconvenient facts, outsourcing's apologists moved to the next level of fantasy.

Many technical and engineering jobs, they said, have become "commodity jobs," routine work that can be performed cheaper offshore. America will stay in the lead, they promised, because it will keep the research and development work and be responsible for design and innovation.
Alas, now it is design and innovation that are being outsourced. Business Week reports ("Outsourcing Innovation," March 21) that the pledge of First World corporations to keep research and development in-house "is now passé."
Corporations such as Dell, Motorola, and Philips, which are regarded as manufacturers based in proprietary design and core intellectual property originating in R&D departments, now put their brand names on complete products that are designed, engineered, and manufactured in Asia by "original-design manufacturers" (ODM).
Business Week reports that practically overnight large percentages of cell phones, notebook PCs, digital cameras, MP3 players, and personal digital assistants are produced by original-design manufacturers. Business Week quotes an executive of a Taiwanese ODM: "Customers used to participate in design two or three years back. But starting last year, many just take our product."

Another offshore ODM executive says: "What has changed is that more customers need us to design the whole product. It's now difficult to get good ideas from our customers. We have to innovate ourselves." Another says: "We know this kind of product category a lot better than our customers do. We have the capability to integrate all the latest technologies." The customers are America's premier high tech names.
The design and engineering teams of Asian ODMs are expanding rapidly, while those of major US corporations are shrinking. Business Week reports that R&D budgets at such technology companies as Hewlett Packard, Cisco, Motorola, Lucent Technologies, Ericsson, and Nokia are being scaled back.

Outsourcing is rapidly converting US corporations into a brand name with a sales force selling foreign designed, engineered, and manufactured goods. Whether or not they realize it, US corporations have written off the US consumer market. People who do not participate in the innovation, design, engineering and manufacture of the products that they consume lack the incomes to support the sales infrastructure of the job diverse "old economy."
"Free market" economists and US politicians are blind to the rapid transformation of America into a third world economy, but college bound American students and heads of engineering schools are acutely aware of declining career opportunities and enrollments. While "free trade" economists and corporate publicists prattle on about America's glorious future, heads of prestigious engineering schools ponder the future of engineering education in America.
Once US firms complete their loss of proprietary architecture, how much intrinsic value resides in a brand name? What is to keep the all-powerful ODMs from undercutting the American brand names?

The outsourcing of manufacturing, design and innovation has dire consequences for US higher education. The advantages of a college degree are erased when the only source of employment is domestic nontradable services.
According to the Los Angeles Times (March 11), the percentage of college graduates among the long-term chronically unemployed has risen sharply in the 21st century. The US Department of Labor reported in March that 373,000 discouraged college graduates dropped out of the labor force in February--a far higher number than the number of new jobs created.
The disappearing US economy can also be seen in the exploding trade deficit. As more employment is shifted offshore, goods and services formerly produced domestically become imports. Nothink economists and Bush administration officials claim that America's increasing dependence on imported goods and services is evidence of the strength of the US economy and its role as engine of global growth.

This claim ignores that the US is paying for its outsourced goods and services by transferring its wealth and future income streams to foreigners. Foreigners have acquired $3.6 trillion of US assets since 1990 as a result of US trade deficits.Foreigners have a surfeit of dollar assets. For the past three years their increasing unwillingness to acquire more dollars has resulted in a marked decline in the dollar's value in relation to gold and tradable currencies.
Recently the Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans have expressed their concerns. According to Bloomberg (March 10), Japan's unrealized losses on its dollar reserve holdings have reached $109.6 billion.

The Asia Times reported (March 12) that Asian central banks have been reducing their dollar holdings in favor of regional currencies for the past three years. A study by the Bank of International Settlements concluded that the ratio of dollar reserves held in Asia declined from 81% in the third quarter of 2001 to 67% in September 2004. India reduced its dollar holdings from 68% of total reserves to 43%. China reduced its dollar holdings from 83% to 68%.
The US dollar will not be able to maintain its role as world reserve currency when it is being abandoned by that area of the world that is rapidly becoming the manufacturing, engineering and innovation powerhouse.

Misled by propagandistic "free trade" claims, Americans will be at a loss to understand the increasing career frustrations of the college educated. Falling pay and rising prices of foreign made goods will squeeze US living standards as the declining dollar heralds America's descent into a has-been economy.
Meanwhile the Grand Old Party has passed a bankruptcy "reform" that is certain to turn unemployed Americans living on debt and beset with unpayable medical bills into the indentured servants of credit card companies. The steely-faced Bush administration is making certain that Americans will experience to the full their counry's fall.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at:
The Next SuperHighway

There are many who agree that the North American Free Trade Act, also known as NAFTA, has been disastrous for our economy. More than just an agreement with neighbor trading states, NAFTA is a treaty which supersedes our Constitution and is the root of tremendous job loss in the rust belt; over 600,000 good paying jobs are gone forever.

Our main trading partner in the North American Free Trade Agreement is Mexico. Yet, the Mexican economy has little to offer the United States in terms of bilatteral trade. But the intention was never really free trade with Mexico was it? With over ten years in play, the truth of NAFTA is now obvious. NAFTA was designed to reduce labor costs and environmental obstacles and to bypass other so-called trade barriers such as labor unions and worker safety.

The ultimate dream of neo-liberalism is unfettered free trade without the safeguards of environmental standards and without the unpleasant demurral complaints of labor unions on such topics as labor rights and living wages. So far, the neo-liberals are realizing their goals while America sleeps, unaware of the latest development in the free trade saga.

I submit an article by a well known conservative about the NAFTA Superhighway. The NAFTA Superhigh is a massive public works project which the Bush Administration is secretly promoting. The plan is to build a huge super highway, four football-fields-wide, through the heart of the U.S. along Interstate 35, from the Mexican border at Laredo, Tex., to the Canadian border north of Duluth, Minn.
The project serves as a testimony to the reality that NAFTA is a losing proposition for Americans of most political and socio-economic persuasions and a win game for the wealthy special interests, CEO's and politicians.

What I find most encouraging though is that many conservatives and liberals agree on a central tennent; NAFTA is bad for America.
Our power is in our solidarity. Yet while our is guard down, our representatives in Washington continue to work behind the scenes, behind our backs, to push for cheaper goods at all costs, to replace good paying jobs for lower paying service sector pursuits and to facilitate our ultimate race to the bottom.

Enjoy the article, but most important… DO SOMETHING!

Bush Administration Quietly Plans NAFTA Super Highway
by Jerome R. CorsiPosted Jun 12, 2006

Quietly but systematically, the Bush Administration is advancing the plan to build a huge NAFTA Super Highway, four football-fields-wide, through the heart of the U.S. along Interstate 35, from the Mexican border at Laredo, Tex., to the Canadian border north of Duluth, Minn.

Once complete, the new road will allow containers from the Far East to enter the United States through the Mexican port of Lazaro Cardenas, bypassing the Longshoreman’s Union in the process. The Mexican trucks, without the involvement of the Teamsters Union, will drive on what will be the nation’s most modern highway straight into the heart of America. The Mexican trucks will cross border in FAST lanes, checked only electronically by the new “SENTRI” system.

The first customs stop will be a Mexican customs office in Kansas City, their new Smart Port complex, a facility being built for Mexico at a cost of $3 million to the U.S. taxpayers in Kansas City. As incredible as this plan may seem to some readers, the first Trans-Texas Corridor segment of the NAFTA Super Highway is ready to begin construction next year. Various U.S. government agencies, dozens of state agencies, and scores of private NGOs (non-governmental organizations) have been working behind the scenes to create the NAFTA Super Highway, despite the lack of comment on the plan by President Bush. The American public is largely asleep to this key piece of the coming “North American Union” that government planners in the new trilateral region of United States, Canada and Mexico are about to drive into reality.

Just examine the following websites to get a feel for the magnitude of NAFTA Super Highway planning that has been going on without any new congressional legislation directly authorizing the construction of the planned international corridor through the center of the country.

NASCO, the North America SuperCorridor Coalition Inc., is a “non-profit organization dedicated to developing the world’s first international, integrated and secure, multi-modal transportation system along the International Mid-Continent Trade and Transportation Corridor to improve both the trade competitiveness and quality of life in North America.” Where does that sentence say anything about the USA? Still, NASCO has received $2.5 million in earmarks from the U.S. Department of Transportation to plan the NAFTA Super Highway as a 10-lane limited-access road (five lanes in each direction) plus passenger and freight rail lines running alongside pipelines laid for oil and natural gas. One glance at the map of the NAFTA Super Highway on the front page of the NASCO website will make clear that the design is to connect Mexico, Canada, and the U.S. into one transportation system.

Kansas City SmartPort Inc. is an “investor based organization supported by the public and private sector” to create the key hub on the NAFTA Super Highway. At the Kansas City SmartPort, the containers from the Far East can be transferred to trucks going east and west, dramatically reducing the ground transportation time dropping the containers off in Los Angeles or Long Beach involves for most of the country. A brochure on the SmartPort website describes the plan in glowing terms: “For those who live in Kansas City, the idea of receiving containers nonstop from the Far East by way of Mexico may sound unlikely, but later this month that seemingly far-fetched notion will become a reality.”

The U.S. government has housed within the Department of Commerce (DOC) an “SPP office” that is dedicated to organizing the many working groups laboring within the executive branches of the U.S., Mexico and Canada to create the regulatory reality for the Security and Prosperity Partnership. The SPP agreement was signed by Bush, President Vicente Fox, and then-Prime Minister Paul Martin in Waco, Tex., on March 23, 2005. According to the DOC website, a U.S.-Mexico Joint Working Committee on Transportation Planning has finalized a plan such that “(m)ethods for detecting bottlenecks on the U.S.-Mexico border will be developed and low cost/high impact projects identified in bottleneck studies will be constructed or implemented.” The report notes that new SENTRI travel lanes on the Mexican border will be constructed this year. The border at Laredo should be reduced to an electronic speed bump for the Mexican trucks containing goods from the Far East to enter the U.S. on their way to the Kansas City SmartPort.

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is overseeing the Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC) as the first leg of the NAFTA Super Highway. A 4,000-page environmental impact statement has already been completed and public hearings are scheduled for five weeks, beginning next month, in July 2006. The billions involved will be provided by a foreign company, Cintra Concessions de Infraestructuras de Transporte, S.A. of Spain. As a consequence, the TTC will be privately operated, leased to the Cintra consortium to be operated as a toll-road.

The details of the NAFTA Super Highway are hidden in plan view. Still, Bush has not given speeches to bring the NAFTA Super Highway plans to the full attention of the American public. Missing in the move toward creating a North American Union is the robust public debate that preceded the decision to form the European Union. All this may be for calculated political reasons on the part of the Bush Administration. A good reason Bush does not want to secure the border with Mexico may be that the administration is trying to create express lanes for Mexican trucks to bring containers with cheap Far East goods into the heart of the U.S., all without the involvement of any U.S. union workers on the docks or in the trucks.

Mr. Corsi is the author of several books, including "Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry" (along with John O'Neill), "Black Gold Stranglehold: The Myth of Scarcity and the Politics of Oil" (along with Craig R. Smith), and "Atomic Iran: How the Terrorist Regime Bought the Bomb and American Politicians." He is a frequent guest on the G. Gordon Liddy radio show. He will soon co-author a new book with Jim Gilchrist on the Minuteman Project.


Friday, June 16, 2006

Another Talking Head

Thomas L. Friedman, a NY Times writer and author whose ubiquitous presence on the daily political television circuit has elevated him to rock star status, is once again predicting that the outcome in Iraq will be evident with in about six months.

This prediction would not be so blatantly self-serving if Friedman hadn't been making essentially the same forecast almost since the beginning of the Iraq War. A review of Friedman's punditry reveals a long series of similar do-or-die dates that never seem to get any closer. Still this hasn’t stopped him from spouting his inaccurate forecasts, nor has anyone in the mainstream media caught on to his consistently careless prognostications.

Friedman has stated:

"The next six months in Iraq—which will determine the prospects for democracy-building there—are the most important six months in U.S. foreign policy in a long, long time."

"What I absolutely don't understand is just at the moment when we finally have a UN-approved Iraqi-caretaker government made up of—I know a lot of these guys—reasonably decent people and more than reasonably decent people, everyone wants to declare it's over. I don't get it. It might be over in a week, it might be over in a month, it might be over in six months, but what's the rush? Can we let this play out, please?"

"What we're gonna find out, Bob, in the next six to nine months is whether we have liberated a country or uncorked a civil war."

"Improv time is over. This is crunch time. Iraq will be won or lost in the next few months. But it won't be won with high rhetoric. It will be won on the ground in a war over the last mile."

"I think we're in the end game now…. I think we're in a six-month window here where it's going to become very clear and this is all going to pre-empt I think the next congressional election—that's my own feeling— let alone the presidential one."

"Maybe the cynical Europeans were right. Maybe this neighborhood is just beyond transformation. That will become clear in the next few months as we see just what kind of minority the Sunnis in Iraq intend to be. If they come around, a decent outcome in Iraq is still possible, and we should stay to help build it. If they won't, then we are wasting our time."

"We've teed up this situation for Iraqis, and I think the next six months really are going to determine whether this country is going to collapse into three parts or more or whether it's going to come together."

"We're at the beginning of I think the decisive I would say six months in Iraq, OK, because I feel like this election—you know, I felt from the beginning Iraq was going to be ultimately, Charlie, what Iraqis make of it."

"The only thing I am certain of is that in the wake of this election, Iraq will be what Iraqis make of it—and the next six months will tell us a lot. I remain guardedly hopeful."

"I think that we're going to know after six to nine months whether this project has any chance of succeeding. In which case, I think the American people as a whole will want to play it out or whether it really is a fool's errand."

"I think we're in the end game there, in the next three to six months, Bob. We've got for the first time an Iraqi government elected on the basis of an Iraqi constitution. Either they're going to produce the kind of inclusive consensual government that we aspire to in the near term, in which case America will stick with it, or they're not, in which case I think the bottom's going to fall out."

"I think we are in the end game. The next six to nine months are going to tell whether we can produce a decent outcome in Iraq."

"Can Iraqis get this government together? If they do, I think the American public will continue to want to support the effort there to try to produce a decent, stable Iraq. But if they don't, then I think the bottom is going to fall out of public support here for the whole Iraq endeavor. So one way or another, I think we're in the end game in the sense it's going to be decided in the next weeks or months whether there's an Iraq there worth investing in. And that is something only Iraqis can tell us."

"Well, I think that we're going to find out, Chris, in the next year to six months—probably sooner—whether a decent outcome is possible there, and I think we're going to have to just let this play out."
(MSNBC's Hardball, 5/11/06)

Why any rational person, let alone a major news network, would reward Thomas L. Friedman with the benefit of creditability on the topic of Iraq is completely beyond my imaginative limits.

What we need from our media is a clear picture of what is happening in Iraq, not a false prediction from a demographic friendly populist.

Friday, June 09, 2006

In my opinion, there must be some truth to an argument when libertarians and progressives agree on an issue.

Here is a commentary by Paul Craig Roberts on the determent of outsourcing and insourcing foreign talent into the workplace.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions. He can be reached at:

Outsourcing Smarts
The Death of US Engineering

by Paul Craig Roberts

When employers allege a shortage of engineers, they mean that there is a shortage of American graduates who will work for the low salaries that foreigners will accept.
The May payroll jobs report released June 2 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics confirms the jobs pattern for the 21st century US economy: employment growth is limited to domestic services.
In May the economy created only 67,000 private sector jobs. Job estimates for the previous two months were reduced by 37,000.

The new jobs are as follows: professional and business services, 27,000; education and health services, 41,000; waitresses and bartenders, 10,000. Manufacturing lost 14,000 jobs.
Total hours worked in the private sector declined in May. Manufacturing hours worked are 6.6 percent less than when the recovery began four and one-half years ago.
American economists and policymakers are in denial about the effect of jobs offshoring on US employment. Corporate lobbyists have purchased fraudulent studies from economists that claim offshoring results in more US employment rather than less. The same lobbyists have spread disinformation that the US does not graduate enough engineers and that they must import foreigners on work visas. Lobbyists are currently pushing, as part of the immigration bill, an expansion in annual H-1B work visas from 65,000 to 115,000.

The alleged "shortage" of US engineering graduates is inconsistent with reports from Duke University that 30 to 40 percent of students in its master's of engineering management program accept jobs outside the profession. About one-third of engineering graduates from MIT go into careers outside their field. Job outsourcing and work visas for foreign engineers are reducing career opportunities for American engineering graduates and, also, reducing salary scales.

When employers allege a shortage of engineers, they mean that there is a shortage of American graduates who will work for the low salaries that foreigners will accept. Americans are simply being forced out of the engineering professions by jobs outsourcing and the importation of foreigners on work visas. Corporate lobbyists and their hired economists are destroying the American engineering professions.

A country that doesn't make things doesn't need engineers and designers.
American engineering is also under pressure because corporations have moved manufacturing offshore. Design, research and development are now following manufacturing offshore. A country that doesn't make things doesn't need engineers and designers. Corporations that have moved manufacturing offshore fund R&D in the countries where their plants have been relocated.

Engineering curriculums are demanding. The rewards to the effort are being squeezed out by jobs offshoring and work visas. If the current policy continues of substituting foreign engineers for American engineers, the profession will die in the U.S.

Friday, June 02, 2006

A Short Hiatus

I'll need to ease up on blogging until next week. I'm tenting my home for termites.

For those who don't know, tenting is a process where an exterminator covers your home with a large heavy tent, the fumagation tent usually resembles a circus tent in that it has red and yellow or red and white stripes or some variation of primary colors. But unlike a bigtop circus, it's not a happy place inside.

The exterminator fumigates the home under the canopy for about 24 hours, thereby destroying all and anything living inside.
In my case, we have termites, and yes we're leaving.

But we also have palmetto bugs. Palmetto Bugs are a nasty creature that resembles a cockroach, but it is much bigger, about 2 inches. It fly’s toward you when you try to kill it, meanwhile making a loud ominous flapping noise. Oh yeah, and they bite too.
But we live in Florida, and in Florida everyone has Palmetto bugs.

We own a Craftsman Period bungalow; it's sits on a brick foundation and is therefore elevated by about two feet. The foundation has many openings for air flow, the home was built over 75 years ago when central air was not standard, so naturally we have all sorts of critters living under our house, mostly fruit rats and king snakes, and they’ll be killed too.

Nearly every home owner in Florida has fruit rats. They're called rats, but really they are more like large mice. Fruit rats are attracted to fruit trees. Many Florida neighborhoods are a cornucopia of fruit tress and other tropicals.

Unfortunately tenting is just one of the many hidden costs that we pay to live in Florida.
But it’s worth it.


Maybe I should just get a Pangolin.

Pangolins - large-tongued tanks Digging for ants and termites with their strong claws and large tongue, the pangolins have little to fear, except humans. They can curl up into a ball and their razor sharp claws provide extra defense.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

There is an excellent article over at the Monthly Review written by James Straub, its titled, “What Was the Matter with Ohio?: Unions and Evangelicals in the Rust Belt”

Straub does a standup job at explaining why a state that throughout Bush’s first term, constantly vied with Michigan for the dubious honor of most jobs lost. Ohio, where hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs lost since 2000 were largely high-wage, stable, union jobs, which served as employment multipliers in the larger local economy. A state that since 1950 has lost nearly 50 percent of its population and has one of the poorest cities in the country; Cleveland Ohio. And how a town like Youngstown, once known for its blue collar middle-class mobility, is now called Yompton by the town’s youth. Yompton is in reference to the economic and cultural devastation of South Compton L.A.

Straub also explains the history of the labor movement in Ohio, the influence that the evangelical movement has now on the state , and where Ohio may be heading.
He asks the question; is this what is in store for the rest of the rust belt and the nation?

His conclusions may surprise you.

What Was the Matter with Ohio?: Unions and Evangelicals in the Rust Beltby James Straub

It was a fittingly ironic end to an election full of grotesque twists: When George W. Bush was narrowly reelected president of the United States, it was the electoral votes of the state he had harmed most that gave him the final nudge across the finish line. Ohio went for the second election in a row to the Republican clown prince. But if the first Bush victory was tragedy, the one in 2004 was surely farce: has world history ever turned before on the artful elevation of gay bashing to an electoral tactic?
“In twenty-one years of organizing, I’ve never seen anything like this,” former trucker’s union organizer Phil Burress told the New York Times shortly after the election. “It’s a forest fire with a 100 mile-per-hour wind behind it.” Burress was speaking not of the efforts of unions and community organizations to register and turn out hundreds of thousands of new voters to the polls in Ohio to vote against Bush, but of his crusade to mobilize even larger numbers to pass a state constitution amendment prohibiting gay marriage.

The demographics and causes of Bush’s slim victory in Ohio and the country continue to be debated—for instance, while 25 percent of Ohio voters identified themselves as white evangelicals (and 78 percent of them voted for Bush), the Washington Post’s number-crunching later revealed that the percentage of frequent church-goers voting in Ohio actually declined 5 percent in 2004—and Congressman John Conyers has documented evidence of electoral fraud that indicates Ohio my have been this election’s secret Florida. However, it remains undeniable that Bush’s Ohio victory did come in part from a massive outpouring of socially conservative evangelical Christians to the polls. A large majority of these Republican evangelicals were blue-collar Ohioans voting against their self-interest, many mobilized by Burress’s anti-gay marriage amendment.

Click HERE for full article