UNLOCK YOUR HIP FLEXORS

Friday, May 30, 2008

Maxine Waters comes out

"This liberal will be all about socializing, uh, uh . . . would be about . . . basically taking over and the government running all of your companies," Rep. Maxine Waters told oil executives on May 22 during yet another show-trial congressional hearing.

Socializing, nationalizing — the term doesn't matter. But the result is the same. Oil industry takeovers are disastrous. Does Waters really want the U.S. to go the way of Venezuela, Iran, Bolivia or Mexico? Those nations that have nationalized their domestic oil operations and have suffered economically because of it.

Read the whole thing!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Soros behind new tell-all book about White House

Wow! Guess who's really behind the new tell-all White House book by Scott McClellan?

George Soros!

Hungarian born self-hating Jewish atheist, convicted felon, and billionaire whose network of organizations has been trying to buy the Presidential elections in the United States, owns the parent publishing company that published McClellan's book.

Now we really understand why the publisher told Scott to rewrite it several months before publication (in fact, the word is that the publisher made the changes and then just had Scott approve them).

Read the whole thing!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Why liberals attack individualism

INDIVIDUALISM AND ACCEPTANCE
Written by Dr. Joel Wade
Friday, 23 May 2008

One of the things that I noticed over the years working as a psychotherapist, is how so many of my colleagues who were so compassionate and caring on certain levels, could be so rigid and judgmental when it came to differing political ideas.

Most of my colleagues have been politically to the left to one degree or another, and I often found it odd and irritating how harshly critical they could be of conservatives, while holding a stance of unconditional acceptance toward their clients in general.

I have not found the same dynamic to the same degree with people on the right. Sure people have strong opinions, and sometimes the discussions or arguments can get heated, and I have certainly seen examples of rude and spiteful behavior from a few conservatives here and there, but this is not usually conservative style.

From the right, in general, there is usually a more respectful tone than from the left. How come?

There are many reasons, of course. Conservatives tend to more often attend church, give personally of their time and money (rather than working to have the government give of other people's time and money on their behalf), and to have families. They also tend to be happier than liberals. This all reflects and encourages a more generous spirit.

It may be that it is not conservatism that makes a person more accepting, but that more accepting people tend to become conservatives. (In an interview years ago, the drummer for the rock group Van Halen, Alex Van Halen was asked about the group's wild behavior. He replied: "We're not like this because we're a rock band, we're a rock band because we're like this.")

Whichever may be the case, there is one quality in particular that I want to focus on, that is central to the relative benevolence of conservatives. I want to focus on it because it is often the object of attack on the part of those on the left, and because I believe that it is a fundamental dynamic in the lives of most conservatives:

Individualism.

Those on the left attack individualism, claiming that it promotes selfishness, greed, inequality, lacks compassion and rests on a kind of dog-eat-dog social Darwinism. (Though dogs generally do not eat dogs, and social Darwinism was in fact a progressive fascist idea - See Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism)

Individualism breeds compassion and acceptance of our differences, because the individualist reveres his or her own unique qualities, and cannot, without mind-bending hypocrisy, or pathological narcissism, avoid doing the same with respect to others.

For a collectivist, compassion involves social justice - making sure that everyone gets stuff, and as much as possible an equal allotment of stuff. The stuff in question may be food, shelter, clothing, money, health care, social security, or self-esteem. But it tends to boil down to who gets how much of the imaginary pie.

This means in practice that the collectivist believes that there is an ideal way to be. I have heard people on the left assert that nobody should earn more than $100,000 a year. Others claim that everyone should have a certain amount of psychotherapy (these would be therapists calling for this, of course), and an obvious example of such leveling is in the movement for politically correct speech.

Talk to a leftist, and you will likely find within them an ideal, a mental image of how we all should be - which means in practice that they would like to force you to be the way they would like you to be.

For an individualist, on the other hand, there is an inherent contradiction to such a stance. An individualist knows that we are all different. In fact, an individualist loves the idea that we are all different. That is the big idea, after all. There would be no individualism without our differences.

It is this fundamental premise that requires the individualist, even a grumpy and judgmental individualist, even an idealistic individualist, to be more accepting of the differences he or she sees in others. It is a structural necessity.

An idealistic individualist has to struggle with the contradictions and conflicts between his or her ideal, and the premise of individualism. There are limits to how un-accepting of differences an individualist can be.

Notice that I do not use the word tolerance here. Tolerance means putting up with something that is repugnant or antithetical to one's values. A conservative is not likely to be tolerant of a terrorist, or a traitor, or a criminal. But a conservative is likely to be more accepting of the wide range of behavior that human nature propagates, for better or worse.

An individualist does not need the world to conform to his or her image in order to be happy. An individualist knows that individuals grow and change at their own pace, and in ways that are unique, and that the course of a life is a creative process - often a very messy creative process.

For an individualist, society is not a singular phenomenon that can be shaped and molded by men into some optimally functioning whole. Society is a group of individuals being sociable with each other. When done with grace and a sense of self-responsibility, this can be a nice thing; when done with rudeness and a sense of entitlement, not so nice.

An individualist does not particularly care about "the poor", or "blacks", or "gays", or "farmers", or "teachers" - because these are categories; groupings of ideas. These categories work for the collectivist who seeks to mold society into a particular configuration: "You blacks, over there, we will help you in this way; teachers, over there, this is the help that you will receive..." etc.

These categories are not real people, they are diagrams on a flow chart. They are the core of Democrat Identity Politics - over which Hillary and Obama are tearing each other to shreds. He is not an individual man running for president on his own character, vision, and experience, he is The Black Candidate; she is not an individual woman running for president on her own character, vision, and experience, she is The Female Candidate.

The compassion and acceptance of the individualist is toward the real people in his or her life, and the real people toward whom he seeks to engage with or help. And when he or she does seek to help someone, it is more personal.

The great strength of heart of the conservative is that, as an individual, caring for other individuals, he or she is caring for actual human beings. People are not an abstraction, they are real flesh and blood; as different as can be, but with qualities that we can recognize in ourselves.

The individualist is more accepting, more compassionate, more forgiving, because humanity is not a concept; it is the living, breathing person right there. And that person has a unique value all his own.


p.s. Do you want to make the most of your life? Order your copy of Mastering Happiness at Dr. Wade's products page and receive a free download of your book, so you can get started right away... http://www.drjoelwade.com/products.html

p.p.s. You can learn the skills of optimism with a new e-course on Learning Optimism, at http://www.drjoelwade.com/products.html

p.p.p.s. To get free concise - and realistic - tips on living a happier life, sign up at... www.drjoelwade.com

Monday, May 26, 2008

To drill or not to drill



MEMORIAL DAY

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

John 15:13

OBAMA WTF

Obama WTF is the original, and most comprehensive, authoritative site about the life, votes, and positions of Senator Obama and his political backers. As his campaign is based on words... not on a proven track-record... if his words are not supported by facts, there’s nothing left but an empty blue suit.

http://obamawtf.blogspot.com/

Sue Congress?

"It shall be illegal and a violation of this Act," declared the House of Representatives, "to limit the production or distribution of oil, natural gas, or any other petroleum product ... or to otherwise take any action in restraint of trade for oil, natural gas or any petroleum product when such action, combination, or collective action has a direct, substantial, and reasonably foreseeable effect on the market, supply, price or distribution of oil, natural gas or other petroleum product in the United States."

Er, OK. But, before we start suing distant sheikhs in exotic lands for violating the NOPEC act, why don't we start by suing Congress? After all, who "limits the production or distribution of oil" right here in the United States by declaring that there'll be no drilling in the Gulf of Florida or the Arctic National Mosquito Refuge? As Rep. Wasserman Schultz herself told Neil Cavuto on Fox News, "We can't drill our way out of this problem."

Read the whole thing

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Obama's Growing Gaffe

By Charles Krauthammer
May 23, 2008

http://www.nevilleawards.com/appeasement_fallacy.shtml


WASHINGTON -- When the House of Representatives takes up arms against $4 gas by voting 324-84 to sue OPEC, you know that election-year discourse has gone surreal. Another unmistakable sign is when a presidential candidate makes a gaffe, then, realizing it is too egregious to take back without suffering humiliation, decides to make it a centerpiece of his foreign policy.

Before the Democratic debate of July 23, Barack Obama had never expounded upon the wisdom of meeting, without precondition, with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Bashar al-Assad, Hugo Chavez, Kim Jong Il or the Castro brothers. But in that debate, he was asked about doing exactly that. Unprepared, he said sure -- then got fancy, declaring the Bush administration's refusal to do so not just "ridiculous" but "a disgrace."

After that, there was no going back. So he doubled down. What started as a gaffe became policy. By now, it has become doctrine. Yet it remains today what it was on the day he blurted it out: an absurdity.

Should the president ever meet with enemies? Sometimes, but only after minimal American objectives -- i.e. preconditions -- have been met. The Shanghai communique was largely written long before Richard Nixon ever touched down in China. Yet Obama thinks Nixon to China confirms the wisdom of his willingness to undertake a worldwide freshman-year tyrants tour.

Most of the time you don't negotiate with enemy leaders because there is nothing to negotiate. Does Obama imagine that North Korea, Iran, Syria, Cuba and Venezuela are insufficiently informed about American requirements for improved relations?

There are always contacts through back channels or intermediaries. Iran, for example, has engaged in five years of talks with our closest European allies and the International Atomic Energy Agency, to say nothing of the hundreds of official U.S. statements outlining exactly what we would give them in return for suspending uranium enrichment.

Obama pretends that while he is for such "engagement," the cowboy Republicans oppose it. Another absurdity. No one is debating the need for contacts. The debate is over the stupidity of elevating rogue states and their tyrants, easing their isolation and increasing their leverage by granting them unconditional meetings with the president of the world's superpower.

Obama cited Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman as presidents who met with enemies. Does he know no history? Neither Roosevelt nor Truman ever met with any of the leaders of the Axis powers. Obama must be referring to the pictures he's seen of Roosevelt and Stalin at Yalta, and Truman and Stalin at Potsdam. Does he not know that at that time Stalin was a wartime ally?

During the subsequent Cold War, Truman never met with Stalin. Nor Mao. Nor Kim Il Sung. Truman was no fool.

Obama cites John Kennedy meeting Nikita Khrushchev as another example of what he wants to emulate. Really? That Vienna summit of a young, inexperienced, untested American president was disastrous, emboldening Khrushchev to push Kennedy on Berlin -- and then near fatally in Cuba, leading almost directly to the Cuban missile crisis. Is that the precedent Obama aspires to follow?

A meeting with Ahmadinejad would not just strengthen and vindicate him at home, it would instantly and powerfully ease the mullahs' isolation, inviting other world leaders to follow. And with that would come a flood of commercial contracts, oil deals, diplomatic agreements -- undermining precisely the very sanctions and isolation that Obama says he would employ against Iran.

As every seasoned diplomat knows, the danger of a summit is that it creates enormous pressure for results. And results require mutual concessions. That is why conditions and concessions are worked out in advance, not on the scene.

What concessions does Obama imagine Ahmadinejad will make to him on Iran's nuclear program? And what new concessions will Obama offer? To abandon Lebanon? To recognize Hamas? Or perhaps to squeeze Israel?

Having lashed himself to the ridiculous, unprecedented promise of unconditional presidential negotiations -- and then having compounded the problem by elevating it to a principle -- Obama keeps trying to explain. On Sunday, he declared in Pendleton, Ore., that by Soviet standards Iran and others "don't pose a serious threat to us." (On the contrary. Islamic Iran is dangerously apocalyptic. Soviet Russia was not.) The next day in Billings, Mont.: "I've made it clear for years that the threat from Iran is grave."

That's the very next day, mind you. Such rhetorical flailing has done more than create an intellectual mess. It has given rise to a new political phenomenon: the metastatic gaffe. The one begets another, begets another, begets ...

http://www.nevilleawards.com/appeasement_fallacy.shtml

Thursday, May 22, 2008

What hath Obama wrought?

OBAMA TO A'JAD: ATOMIC ASSIST
By AMIR TAHERI

May 21, 2008 -- BUOYED by their modest electoral success last month, critics of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's provocative foreign policy were preparing to launch a series of attacks on him in the Islamic Majlis, Iran's ersatz parliament. But then Ahmadinejad got an unexpected boost from Barack Obama.

Ali Larijani, Iran's former nuclear negotiator and now a Majlis member, was arguing that the Islamic Republic would pay a heavy price for Ahmadinejad's rejection of three UN Security Council resolutions on nukes. Then the likely Democratic presidential nominee stepped in.

Obama announced that, if elected, he wouldn't ask Iran to comply with UN resolutions as a precondition for direct talks with Ahmadinejad: "Preconditions, as it applies to a country like Iran, for example, was a term of art. Because this administration has been very clear that it will not have direct negotiations with Iran until Iran has met preconditions that are essentially what Iran views, and many other observers would view, as the subject of the negotiations; for example, their nuclear program."

"Talking without preconditions" would require America to ignore three unanimous Security Council resolutions. Before starting his unconditional talks, would Obama present a new resolution at the Security Council to cancel the three that Ahmadinejad doesn't like? Or would the new US president act in defiance of the United Nations - further weakening the Security Council's authority?

President Bush didn't set the preconditions that Obama promises to ignore. They were agreed upon after the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Iran was in violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Acting in accordance with its charter, the IAEA referred the issue to the Security Council.

Dismissing the preconditions as irrelevant would mean snubbing America's European allies plus Russia and China, all of whom participated in drafting and approving the resolutions that Ahmadinejad doesn't like.

Such a move would make a mockery of multilateral diplomacy - indeed, would ignore such diplomacy in exactly the way that critics claim the Bush administration has.


Obama clearly hasn't asked British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy what they think of the United States' suddenly changing course and granting Ahmadinejad's key demand in advance.

Maybe Obama hasn't been properly briefed about the "preconditions" he gets so worked up about. He cites Iran's "nuclear program" as a precondition. Wrong: No one has asked, or could ask, Iran to stop its nuclear program - period. On the contrary, Iran's participation in in the Non-Proliferation Treaty gives it the right to seek help from other signatories, including the US, to access the latest technology in developing its nuclear industry - for peaceful purposes.

The Security Council isn't asking the Islamic Republic to do something dishonorable, humiliating or illegal. All it's asking Ahmadinejad to do is to stop cheating - something the Islamic Republic itself has admitted it has done for 18 years. The Security Council has invited Iran to "suspend" - not even to scrap - a uranium-enrichment program clearly destined for making bombs, in violation of the NPT.

Iran has not a single nuclear-power station and thus doesn't need enriched uranium - except for making bombs. Its sole nuclear plant is scheduled to be finished by the end of 2009. But that can't use the type of uranium that Iran is enriching; the station requires fuel of a different "formula," supplied by Russia, which is building the project, for the next 10 years. (And the Russians have offered to provide fuel for the plant's entire lifetime of 37 years.)

Another precondition asks Tehran to explain why it is building a heavy-water plant at Arak - when it has absolutely no plans for plutonium-based nuclear-power stations. The Arak plant's only imaginable use is to produce material for nuclear warheads.

Finally, the IAEA and the Security Council are asking Tehran to allow international inspectors access to all sites related to the nuclear project - access that Iran is obliged to provide under the NPT.

In short, the minimum show of goodwill on Ahmadinejad's part would be to comply with the UN resolutions before he goes to the White House for talks with President Obama on other issues.

Obama's words on "preconditions" have helped ease domestic pressure on Ahmadinejad to comply with the United Nations and the IAEA. The Iranian president is telling his domestic critics to shut up until after the US election. Why, after all, should he make concessions that a putative President Obama has already dismissed as unnecessary?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Stark Predictions . . .What Would Happen If Obama Won

By Thomas G. Del Beccaro
www.politicalvanguard.com
Posted May 20, 2008


The American system of Government, with its checks and balances, tends to restrict wide policy swings from one Presidency to the next. Over the broad spectrum of American history, the differences of the parties have not always been very pronounced.

Consider the Nixon years when social welfare spending jumped from just over 6% of the economy to over 10% largely at the behest of Republican Nixon. Such occurrences have fostered the words Demopublicans and Republocrats. Contrast that with the British system of Government which has produced broader policy swings when the Labour Party and the Conservative Party change roles.

A Barack Obama victory, however, will likely usher in a stark difference between the parties not unlike the election of Roosevelt in 1932 and Reagan in 1980. Very serious policy implications are likely to follow in just the first two years as the Democrats seek to capitalize on their new found power.

Read the whole thing!

31,000 scientists reject 'global warming' agenda

More than 31,000 scientists across the U.S. – including more than 9,000 Ph.D.s in fields such as atmospheric science, climatology, Earth science, environment and dozens of other specialties – have signed a petition rejecting "global warming," the assumption that the human production of greenhouse gases is damaging Earth's climate.

Read the whole thing!

Obama Hangs With Hezbollah's Iranian Agent Imam

The Company He Keeps: Obama Hangs With Hezbollah's Iranian Agent Imam

By Debbie Schlussel; May 19, 2008


Barack Obama claims he's against HAMAS and Hezbollah and is offended by President Bush's speech in Israel about Obama's ethos of "appeasement." So why is he meeting with one of Hezbollah's most important imams and agents in America, Imam Hassan Qazwini? And why is this open anti-Semite and supporter of Israel's annihilation getting to discuss "the Arab-Israeli conflict" in a private one-on-one meeting with Obama? What was said? I think we can do the math.


I've written about Qazwini and his mosque for almost a decade. He is tight with the Government of Iran, and he is an agent of the Iranian government, spreading its propaganda. He was sent to the U.S. by Iran to help radicalize his mosque, the Islamic Center of America, which--at the time--was becoming moderate with women not covering their hair and mixing with men. All that has changed, under Qazwini.


Qazwini is very open about his support for Palestinian homicide bombings, HAMAS, and Hezbollah. And he's a good friend of Hezbollah spiritual leader, Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah--the man who issued the fatwa to Hezbollah terrorists to murder over 300 U.S. Marines and U.S. Embassy civilians in cold blood. Qazwini's mosque has held rallies and celebrations in support of Hezbollah, and many of Hezbollah's biggest money-launderers and agents in America are his congregants.


When I went undercover to his mosque in 1998, he and others welcomed Nation of Islam chief racist Louis Farrakhan as "our dear brother" and "a freedom fighter." Qazwini applauded Farrakhan's anti-Semitic statements saying that Jews were the "forces of Satan" and that there needed to be a "jihad" on the American people.


Read the whole thing!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

143 days

Just how much Senate experience does Barack Obama have in terms of actual work days?

Not much.

From the time Barack Obama was sworn in as a United State Senator, to the time he announced he was forming a Presidential exploratory committee, he logged 143 days of experience in the Senate. That's how many days the Senate was actually in session and working.

After 143 days of work experience, Obama believed he was ready to be Commander In Chief, Leader of the Free World, and fill the shoes of Abraham Lincoln, FDR, JFK and Ronald Reagan.

143 days -- I keep leftovers in my refrigerator longer than that!

In contrast, John McCain's 26 years in Congress, 22 years of military service including 1,966 days in captivity as a POW in Hanoi now seem more impressive than ever.

At 71, John McCain may just be hitting his stride.

--Bill Zelenka
Granada Hills, California

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Rise Up America: A plan to Restore Fiscal Conservatism

Ownership Society Institute
May, 2008
  • Make the poor rich

  • Make America wealthier

  • Extinguish $45 trillion in unfunded debt

  • Reduce the Budget by $1.3 trillion

  • Deliver the largest tax cut in history

  • Make 100% of Americans capitalists

  • Increase the value of the US dollar

  • Make American products competitive

  • Reduce management-labor difficulties

  • Cut our national debt from $9 to $5 trillion

  • Economically emancipate women

  • Increase retirement bnefits
Introduction

For the past year ordinary Americans have made two things crystal clear:

First they want economic change. They want their politicians to do something about either reducing the price of gas, food, services and other products or increasing their income and wealth - or both.

Second they want politicians to start working for the people. They are fed up with hearing promises from Washington that are never kept and continuous excuses f why they aren’t.

Note: these concerns have been successfully tested by Barack Obama during his nominating campaign.

---------

This short booklet outlines a plan ordinary Americans and their politicians need to hear, promote and adopt. The plan will make ordinary Americans richer without asking them to invest a dime of their own money nor change any aspect of their present employment or activities. The plan has been designed to enable Americans - even those without high school educations - to achieve the American Dream of financial independence so long as they remain stable and industrious during their working life.

The plan is called the Rise Up America (RUA) plan and has been designed to be a force for unity enabling all Americans to pull in the same direction. Rather than having segments of the population competing and warring with each other, the plan will unify the efforts of all Americans.

Pass this booklet on to your friends to start the ball rolling to restructure our government and streamline our private sector to work for the people rather than against them. Make sure your political representatives are aware of RUA and are promising to enact legislation to put the Plan into effect

Core Premise

The Rise Up America plan is based on one core premise and that is that Americans can do a better job than their government in managing their money. This booklet will be devoted to illustrating how major government entitlement programs including Social Security and Medicare fail to meet the intended or perceived purposes they were enacted to fulfill and in fact severely limit the growth of the American economy.

Current Social Security, Disability and Medicare Programs

Today Americans pay 15.3% of their annual income up to $102,000 (2008) in payroll taxes to the Federal government in return for a monthly Social Security check and medical coverage at retirement as well as disability coverage for all ages.

Those workers who are employees have 7.65% of their income withheld for payroll taxes and employers match that amount and send the entire 15.3% to the government. Self-employed individuals pay the entire 15.3% at the same time their income taxes are due.

The government does not save the money in a fund for the employee’s future retirement but immediately spends it to pay benefits to currently disabled and retired Americans. Many Americans have been led to believe these monies are saved in the Social Security Fund. They are not.

Payroll taxes are withheld (or paid) on all earnings no matter how old an individual is. Those who attain the retirement age of 67 however, are entitled to a monthly retirement check from Social Security and coverage for their medical needs under Medicare.

Even though Americans pay 15.3% of their lifetime income in payroll taxes, they are not entitled to a nest egg. Unlike a savings account where an amount is accumulated for the saver, there is no accumulation of an individual’s investment in Social Security and Medicare. If a taxpayer dies before retirement all payroll taxes paid by them throughout their life are lost and any government obligation to them extinguished.

Assume a long-haul truck driver made $60,000 a year for his 50-year working life dies at 67 years of age. The $450,000 he paid in payroll taxes over the years is forfeited to the government and the government has no obligation to pay his heirs anything. This is unlike the result he could have achieved if he had invested this amount in an interest-bearing savings account or in an account where his money was invested in stocks or bonds and it compounded over the years.

Social Security is perceived by the public to be a retirement pension. Congressmen will quickly correct that misperception describing it rather as a “safety net” – specifically a benefit not designed as a retirement pension. Its reason for existence is to enable retired people to have enough money to avoid starvation. The average Social Security check is just over $1,000 a month.

Both the Social Security and Medicare programs are tragically under funded. The government accounting office fixed the unfunded liability at $45 trillion as of September 30, 2007. As the funding of these programs is on a pay-as-you-go basis both programs are technically bankrupt. To date politicians have failed to correct the problem suggesting however that the only solutions are to either raise taxes or cut benefits. The Rise Up America plan to be discussed below has been designed to substantially “increase” those benefits while simultaneously generating the largest tax cut in US history.

Proposed Solution – Rise Up America Plan

The Rise Up America plan is a comprehensive solution to many problems faced by America and its people as well as a blueprint to literally explode the growth of the American economy. This booklet will touch on some of the major problems that Rise up solves or will assist in solving. It will illustrate how the American economy is severely limited by existing government policies and practices.

The first problem it solves is changing the misguided method of financing Social Security, Disability and Medicare entitlements. Instead of legislatively assisting Americans in saving for their own retirement government has misled them into perceiving that Social Security’s “safety net” is a retirement pension.

The Rise Up America plan proposes to return the responsibility for funding the retirement and old-age medical needs back to the individual retirees. In other words, the Plan proposes to take the responsibility for funding retirement away from the government and place that responsibility directly on the shoulders of individual Americans.

In order to do that, the Plan must make every American wealthy enough to cover those costs. That includes the poor and lower-income Americans who presently can’t save enough to retire on. In addition the Plan must pay off all obligations under the old plans until all the participants die. As a part of the Plan to transition to Rise Up, the payment of those legacy obligations will be grandfathered and guaranteed by the government.

The Plan increases the monthly retirement check from ten to twenty times more than it is today and allows the individual to build a multimillion dollar nest egg to finance their retirement and pass that wealth on to succeeding generations.

To enable the poor and lower-income Americans to participate along with wealthier Americans, Rise Up will divert the 15% presently paid in payroll taxes directly into a personal investment account owned by the taxpayer and held by an independent entity operating solely as a trust. The funds will be held in the trust until retirement. As explained below a sizeable nest egg will be accumulated for all taxpayers.

The reason poor and lower-income Americans have been unable to save for retirement is they never have enough left over after paying their expenses to save for their retirement. Under Rise Up their payroll taxes accumulate in their own account which is invested at their direction into several different stock-indexed funds which for the last thirty years have been growing at over 10% per year. E.g. the S&P 500 stock index has been growing at 12.8% over the last 30 years.

The average American household earned over $48,000 a year in 2006 according to the US Census Bureau.. Assuming that in 2008 that figure has approached $50,000 let’s take a look at how the 15% withheld weekly and invested in indexed stock funds would do over a 40 year working life.

The $7,500 of annual withholding (15% on $50,000) if invested weekly for 40 years and earning 10% a year would generate a nest egg of $4,004,000. If the taxpayer earns the same 10 % in his 41st year (the first year of retirement) he will have earned $400,400 that year which when paid out in installments amounts to a monthly retirement check of $33,000 - 12 times a year.

Under Social Security the taxpayer is not entitled to a nest egg. His investment of $300,000 ($7,500 x 40 years) in payroll taxes is lost to him. His scheduled Social Security “safety net” amounts to $1,345 a month according the Social Security Administration’s Quick Guide calculator or 1/24th of the amount he would get under the Plan.

Why Rise Up America is So Powerful

There is no mystery why the Rise Up America plan generates such enormous nest eggs and monthly checks. It is based on compounding. Thought of simply when you put a dollar in the bank each year for 40 years and the bank pays you 10% interest every year on the ending balance of the previous year you would accumulate an account of $442. Now had you not received interest on the account you would only have $40 at the end of 40 years.

The reason you end up with so much more is that the account compounds over the years because the 10% is earned not only on the $1 contributed every year but also on the accumulated interest*. See the table below to see how large a nest egg you would accumulate at your income level.

http://hstrial-rmcdonald1.homestead.com/indextablenesteggsvarious.xls

Footnote
For example, in the 39th year the account has $401 in it. The 10% interest it earns in the 40th year is $40 (10% on the ending balance of the 39th year). When the $1 contributed is added to the $401 beginning balance and the $40 earned is added the account totals $442 at the end of 40 years.


Rate of Return

The average citizen has a difficult time believing the enormous sums that can be accumulated under long-term investment plans like Rise Up. Their experience is generally limited to the small percentages they get from the bank in interest. As far as a rate of return on stock (the increase in yearly value plus dividends) few have ever invested in stocks and many who have had bad short-term experiences in picking individual stocks. Many Americans are therefore frightened by the swings in the market having no experience with the long-term growth in the business sector of the economy and the stock market in particular.

When taken in 40-year intervals, the last 25 40-year periods have averaged an annual rate of return of 12. 5% on the S&P 500 stock index. Another study indicates the rate of return experienced when just the last 30 years have been analyzed is 12.8%. To be conservative we have used a 10% rate of return in this booklet.

It is important to note that either the 12.5% or the 12.8% rate include a 3% inflation factor. Therefore the real growth in the account would be 9.5% and 9.8% respectfully. It is also important to note that the return on US Bonds in 40-year increments is only 4.1 %. That also includes a 3% inflation factor thereby netting only a 1.1% real growth in the value of bonds. So it is important to remember that a safe investment in US Bonds is really not that safe – stocks return 9 times more in real growth than bonds over extended investment cycles.

Rise Up is a Proven Plan

A number of countries, several counties in Texas and the United States government have implemented personal accounts similar to what Rise Up proposes. Those plans have been unqualified successes and prove that Rise Up works in practice.

In each plan the participant accumulates a nest egg by investing amounts withheld from his earnings. He invests in indexed stocks that not only create a retirement nest egg but generates a substantial monthly retirement check.

These plans have proven over the years that personal accounts invested in broad-based indexed stock funds are not risky, the plans are very inexpensive to operate and the growth through compounding the most successful method of financing retirement.

An Example of Personal Accounts in Practice

The government’s Thrift Savings plan, is only a very small version of the Rise Up America plan. As of the July, 2007 it only had accumulated $227 billion for 3.77 million government employees after almost 20 years of operations. Rise Up contemplates investing $1.3 trillion into personal accounts in its very first year of operations.

Of the many funds a participant can chose to invest in the government forced many in the early years to choose money market funds which paid small annual rates of return. The government also allowed participants to transfer their investments between stock and bond funds which reduced their returns because individuals can seldom make good investment decisions.

Thrift Saving’s one pure US stock fund based on the S&P 500 (which recently changed to include the Wilshire 4,500) had a rate of return of 35.49% in 1999 which was followed by three years of losses totaling 42.95% (15.77% in 2000, 9.04% in 2001, 18.14% in 2002). However in 2003 alone the rate of return jumped to 42.92% followed by three years of 18.03%, 10.45% and 15.30 in 2006 totaling 43.78%. Therefore, the fund had a 9.9% average annual rate of return in the 8 years including the disastrous market crash of 2000 to 2002.

We note this example as the rationale behind long-term investing. When the market falls the investor does not lose the number of shares he owns so when the market goes up his recovery is rapid like the above 42.92% increase in 2003. In addition during the fall the investor is able to add shares at reduced prices which also enjoy the rapid 42.92% recovery.

The government matches up to 5% of the participant’s salary in the Thrift Savings plan which is a substantial departure from Social Security in which ordinary Americans provide 100% of the funding. This government plan has been operated for less than 1/10th of 1% of its income since 1990 proving that Rise Up will be very inexpensive to operate.

Transition to Rise Up America Plan

It is important to understand how our monetary system works in order to fully understand how we can simultaneously divert $1.3 trillion in payroll tax receipts into the personal investment accounts, pay $1.1 trillion in benefits that were previously funded out of that $1.3 trillion and at the same time increase the value of the US Dollar internationally. It is not difficult to understand. Just take a minute to see how easy it is.

When one talks about money on a national scale we either refer to “fiscal” policies or “monetary” policies. They are not difficult to understand. Fiscal policies you recognize when Congress tries to balance the national budget. If we “fiscally” spend more than we get in we create a “deficit” which is added annually to our national debt - if we run a surplus that reduces our national debt.

Monetary policy involves the printing of money and the uses to which that money is put. “Printing” money is just a catchy phrase to encompass a number of ways the Federal Reserve Board - who controls our money supply – actually spends our money. If they print more money that dilutes its value but only if it is spent covering the mistakes our government makes or other expense items. It can “print” money by dropping interest rates to 1% like it has the last several years. That has cost us trillions because that was a pure expenditure of money that added nothing to the net worth of the country – in fact it dropped the value of the US Dollar by 40% to 50%.

Now for Rise Up’s magic transition. $1.3 trillion in what used to be payroll taxes is placed in personal investment accounts and invested “fiscally” in the stock market. The entire value of stocks in the hands of Americans is only $23 trillion right now so by adding $1.3 trillion a year of new capital will dramatically increase economic activity, increase government’s “income tax” receipts and create an economic environment where ordinary Americans can become wealthy stock investors. By investing such sums over the years will “compound” the net worth of America to over a quadrillion dollars in 40 years. See

http://hstrial-rmcdonald1.homestead.com/indextable40yearsofpersonalaccounts.xls

Now comes a part that will be difficult to believe but easy to understand – just where will we get the money to pay existing Social Security participants and all those qualifying in future years that don’t have sufficiently large enough personal accounts to fund their own retirement and medical needs?

The answer - we “print” the money – and dilute the value of our money supply by $1.1 trillion the very first year. This is a “monetary” solution and does not involve Congress and the budget process.

We don’t pay interest on the money we print therefore future interest costs are not relevant. As the existing participants and those nearing retirement will need the minimum guaranteed by Social Security and Medicare we can print that money on a dollar for dollar basis. Amounts due these ever-decreasing number of participants will automatically extinguish themselves as participants die or their personal account grows big enough to support their retirement.

An international currency trader looking at a government that is investing in its economy will drive up the price of the dollar. Under Rise Up the economy is annually adding “and” compounding $1.3 trillion in new capital and extinguishing ever-decreasing older obligations at no interest cost and on a dollar for dollar basis. Currency traders are going to buy into this extremely positive economic move that will explode the net worth of America and Americans; Rise Up will make the US dollar more valuable and exceedingly more stable than their previous policy of only printing money to pay for mistakes and expenses. Printing money to support the national investment in personal accounts that grows and compounds will allow America to not so “magically” but realistically and prudently transition to personal accounts.

Additionally, the explosive economic growth will cause Federal income tax receipts to mushroom which can be used to pay off some of the old Social Security and Medicare obligations.

Benefits – to the American Economy

America has experienced an average 3% economic growth per year for over 80 years. That growth has been impeded by policies of high taxation on the rich until 1982 and on the poor and middle-class right up to the present. Rise Up eliminates “payroll” taxes and returns that money to the people who in turn invest it in the economy and enable the poor and middle-class to enjoy the benefits of capitalism with their own pool of capital – personal accounts. By aggressively pursuing the Rise Up model the country could see rates of growth up to 10% per year and a substantial increase in the country’s net worth.

Unity of Purpose

Today just slightly over 50% of the population own stocks. Many have been led to believe big business is a threat to liberty and justice. As a result many anti-business regulations, red tape, law suits and adverse publicity has reduced the profitability of American businesses. Under Rise Up 100% of the population will be shareholders with an abiding self-interest in seeing to it their personal accounts grow. The Rise Up America plan will have them all pulling in the same direction – bringing the responsibility for profitability down to the lowest level in the company where it is most efficient.

Benefits to the Government

The government has failed to fund the future benefits of its entitlement programs. The Government Accounting Office claims politicians have run up unfunded obligations to participants of over $45 trillion as of September 30, 2007. The Rise Up America plan will extinguish the entire $45 trillion on the date of its enactment.

Benefits of One Plan

Today there are millions of participants in millions of retirement and old-age medical plans in government and in the private sector. The cost of administering and funding these plans has been costly, time-consuming and inefficient. Just the administration of Social Security takes over 60,000 employees at the Social Security Administration. Billions can be saved switching to one personal account administered by one trust for all Americans.

Benefits to the American Worker

Rise Up will deliver to all Americans a personal account that will compound and grow into million-dollar nest eggs during their working life. Even a minimum wage work who earns only $7.50 a hour for 40 years will end up with a $1.2 million nest egg and a $10,000 a month retirement check. The enactment of Rise Up will enable ordinary Americans to achieve the American Dream without having to be highly educated or socially connected. All he or she needs to do is be stable and industrious and the Dream is theirs.

Political Benefits

There can be no argument that all political parties want to improve the living standards of the poor and middle-class. Every party wants to fulfill their promise to lift Americans out of poverty and improve the economy. The enactment of Rise Up will accomplish both major objectives.

Benefit – The National Budget

This year the national budget is over $3.1 trillion. By enacting Rise Up the mandatory entitlements for Social Security and Medicare will be eliminated bringing the budget down below $2 trillion. The annual increase in mandatory non-discretionary spending for entitlements that soaks up so much of the growth of the economy will be eliminated and the budget reduced.

Benefit – Tax Cuts

By enacting Rise Up, Americans will be getting the largest tax cut in US history - $1.3 trillion in the first year alone. By relieving government of the responsibility of providing a “safety net” and medical coverage relieves the people of paying taxes to support those programs. This will especially benefit the young who will be relieved of the responsibility of funding entitlements.

Benefits to Business

Many businesses provide pensions and some provide old-age medical benefits to supplement the insufficient “safety net” and other benefits supplied to retirees by government. These costs are added to the price of their products and if they have global competition the cost of these supplemental plans have made our businesses less competitive. Rise Up will relieve business of tens of billions to fund these supplemental plans. Enacting Rise Up will make the companies more profitable and their products more competitive.

Benefits in Labor Disputes and Strikes

Unions have long been getting pensions and old-age medical benefits for their members. By adopting Rise Up unions will get better benefits for their workers and eliminate the need to strike and perpetually negotiate with businesses for better retirement benefits.

Benefit to Women

One of the great insecurities in a woman’s life occurs when she opts to raise a family rather than continuing her education and adding to her working skills. Under Rise Up married spouses share their personal accounts from the date they marry. In that fashion a wife who opts to stay home, raise a family and never work a day in her life, can still retire a millionaire at 67. One –half of her husband’s withholding is placed in her own personal account and invested to grow into a sizeable nest egg and monthly retirement check.

Family Creation and Demographic Benefits

Falling birth rates are presenting demographic concerns throughout the world. Certain ethnic populations are predicted to be instinct in a century. Rise Up should go a long way in changing that dynamic - by enabling women to have financial security and four or more kids as well.

Benefits to the Individual

The ever-increasing reliance and dependence on the government to solve problems has reduced the self-reliance and the can-do spirit of many Americans. By giving them property, some for the first time in their life, should generate an internal need to protect that property– their personal account. The wealth that property represents should empower people to be more independent, responsible and less likely to rely on government.

Crime and Punishment

So much of crime is driven by poverty. By eradicating poverty, many of the financial crimes will not be committed. Under Rise Up a criminal’s “personal account’ is charged for the cost of his incarceration which will be a deterrent to recidivists and first timers as well. The possibility of losing his million-dollar nest egg should be a motivation to many to avoid committing crimes in the first place.

Benefits to Academe

Many educators, in fact many famous old universities, have been accused of indoctrinating students with anti-capitalist socialist doctrine and collectivist dogma. It could be said that academe had no alternatives. Their goal was to level the economic playing field and as capitalism was not solving poverty they embraced and promoted utopian constructs like socialism. As capitalism under Rise Up actually eliminates the working poor, capitalism should replace socialism as the doctrine embraced by academe.

World Opinion

In the last several years many have claimed America is headed downhill, an empire experiencing the decay that destroyed prior “empires.” Astute observers see few signs of that decay. With the enactment and implementation of Rise Up, America will be the first nation on Earth to eradicate poverty. As most of the world’s population suffers endemic poverty the sea change in America economic fortunes should put to rest any doubts about the fact that America is the “shining city on the hill”.

Consequences of Inaction

If a plan like Rise Up is not enacted it can be predicted with a reasonable degree of certainty that those with a progressive-socialist agenda will continue to tax the rich and redistribute to the poor. That will in turn reduce the capital needed to run the country and build new businesses and hire new employees. Such an eventuality will seriously impact the explosive growth that would occur under Rise Up and deny America all the benefits listed above.

As Western Europe has seen the serious economic error of its cradle-to-grave dependencies it has recently elected conservative capitalist-supporting leaders to reverse their country’s course and move closer to the free market capitalist model of the USA. The USA on the other hand appears to be headed into the cradle-to-grave model that Europeans are finally rejecting. Failing to enact Rise Up legislation would insure a big government dependency would emerge in the next few years.

The Opposition to Bush’s Personal Account Plan

When President Bush spent the first 5 months of 2005 promoting personal accounts he failed to sell a plan that would do only 3% of what Rise Up can do. The opposition to personal accounts held 6,000 Town Hall meetings to defeat his proposal and special interests like the NEA and AARP spent tens of millions in advertising to defeat it.

Bush concentrated almost exclusively on solving the solvency problem – the $45 trillion debt Congress has not funded. People couldn’t have cared less about the government’s problem. Until it impacts their pocketbook they don’t pay attention and Bush’s opposition told them it was not a problem until 2042 and they bought it.

The President did not submit a plan but asked Congress to work on it. Republicans in Congress came up with 2% 4% and 6% plans and proposed keeping both the old system and the new smaller system running simultaneously. This totally confused the issue and made those proposals easy targets for the opposition to attack.

After several months of promotion it was proposed that the annual contribution to personal accounts would be capped at $1,000. This made the proposal totally unattractive to the people as they couldn’t see them getting rich like they would under Rise up.

The frontal attacks on Bush’s plan were it was too risky, Wall Street would get rich charging fees, it cost too much to administer, Bush was out to destroy Social Security and cut benefits to the elderly. Not one of those charges were true but the media, the advertising, the Town Hall Meetings and the ineptitude of Bush to present an aggressive Rise Up type plan doomed his effort.

People will be moved to improve their own well being and the Country’s economic strength. They just need to be presented with a viable plan. Rise Up America is such a plan.

Opposition to Rise Up America

It is hard to believe that a plan that would make the poor wealthy and America richer would have serious opposition. We hope it doesn’t but we anticipate substantial opposition from various political groups and special interests. It is believed that the opposition will come from those whose interest in say the poor and middle-class is not about improving their well being but in securing their vote to retain political power. Hopefully, they can see their way clear to let Rise Up be enacted from a purely moral and religious standpoint.

Initially it is anticipated that the same objections from the same parties will be made against Rise Up as were made against President Bush’s efforts. Of course the argument against Rise Up is more difficult this time around as it is a comprehensive plan improving too many aspects of modern life to be ignored or dismissed like the small footprint the President tried to make.

Rise Up’s Constituencies

Every man and women in America should be a constituent of the Rise Up America plan. It makes the people and the country wealthier, more efficient, more stable more industrious and less contentious. Certain groups will benefit by reducing or eliminating problems they are currently facing. They include:

American Manufacturers

They will benefit by eliminating the need to provide retirement plans for their workers; eliminate the need to negotiate with unions on retirement benefits; eliminate the cost of retirement from product cost thus becoming more competitive in the global; market.

Churches, NGOs and Religions

As the basic tenet of all religions is the care and nurture of the less fortunate, Rise Up should be a godsend to them as it allows capitalism to solve the riddle of endemic poverty in the United States. Churches, religions and especially NGOs can carry that message worldwide so that it is promoted and implemented globally.

World Leaders

The world suffers from catastrophic food shortages and poverty. Leaders the world over are looking for ways to increase the economic and social well being of their citizens. Rise Up presents them with a model to copy to self-finance their own progress.

Women

As women are more than half of the population of the planet, economically emancipating them in America might encourage their elevation in status and stature throughout the world.

Others

There are so many other constituencies like teachers, union members, impoverished minorities and the like there is no reason to belabor the point here. The Rise Up America plan can be the issue so many of these constituencies find as an indispensable tool to accomplishing their particular goals.

Current Political Climate

Polling during the primary election season of 2008 and three losses of “safe” Republican Congressional seats has proven that the American people are deeply disturbed about the economy and they are placing that blame on the Bush Administration.

It would be convenient to blame the War in Iraq but polls show the overwhelming majority of American people do not want to lose that war. As the country has not even experienced one quarter in which the Gross National Product dropped below the previous quarter, the possibility that a recession of two consecutive quarters of falling GDP cannot be the reason right now that 82% of the people think the country is headed in the wrong direction.

It is our belief that neither party is offering the people what they want. We believe they want is a better of standard of living and the ability to achieve the American Dream. Neither political party is offering policies that will materially affect the fortunes of ordinary Americans nor deliver a better standard of living. In fact it is projected that the younger generation will not achieve the financial success of their parents because of “income disparity.”

The proposition that the Trickle Down theory is failing to include ordinary working Americans has been widely accepted by the voters. The rich have profited greatly from 25 tears of “trickle down” whereas the wages of ordinary American’s have suffered a $1,000 drop in purchasing power over the last 7 years of the Bush Administration.

Promoting and enacting the Rise Up America plan will inform the American people that their government is looking after them, returning trillions of their own money to invest in the economy and create million-dollar nest eggs. It is what the American taxpayer-voter wants it is the deep significant change they are crying out for.

What Can You Do About It

We have formed a think tank called the “Ownership Society Institute” to lead the charge under the Rise Up America flag to get a grass roots movement going to lobby our representatives at every level to create the enabling Rise Up Theory of Economics legislation outlined here.

We anticipate that we will need a lot of volunteers and a major funding effort to affect the outcome of the 2008 election. In this era of instant celebrity and fame over the new internet communication channels like YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, IPod and cell phones we plan to mount a serious attack to inform the public that they are missing out on million-dollar nest eggs. Without spending a dime or changing anything in their life they can accumulate enough to retire affluently and will enormous sums to their kids.

You can assist us by becoming a member of our Institute and helping us fund our plan to promote Rise Up. Our primary legislative target is to inform politicians of our comprehensive plan so they can use the principles to win their election campaigns the same time they are instructing the public on the benefits.

As it is the Congress that must embrace Rise Up and enact the laws we will concentrate on the Congressional races. We hope to win our many constituencies over to Rise Up so they will support candidates promising to enact Rise Up legislation and pool their lobbying efforts to effect this change. They include the ordinary American, the poor, manufacturers, union members, women, churches and synagogues, non-governmental organizations (NGO), Wall Street, charitable organizations, etc.

The money we raise will go to produce documentaries focused on the general application of Rise Up as well as specific targets like women’s groups, manufacturers, etc. that will benefit from specific portions of the Rise Up law. It will also go to creating materials like pamphlets, and DVDs for political candidates to use in disseminating their message.

The money will also go for creating a presence in every state to specifically promote Rise Up. A new master website needs to be built to handle the effort. The more successful we are the greater need for logistics to coordinate the operation’s many-faceted effort.

You can participate by helping us fund this effort – an effort to make every American a millionaire using his own money to do it. If you believe in free market capitalism there can be no better way to support its victory over creeping socialism than the wealth and success Rise Up will deliver. If you are a politician there will be no greater service you can perform for the people (and the Congressional Budget Office) than lifting $45 trillion of unfunded debt off their shoulders.

Manufacturers will improve their bottom line and become more competitive without having to supplement retirement for their workers. They are a significant beneficiary of Rise Up as are women, union workers, teachers, tradesmen.

To become a member of the Institute go to our temporary website www.riseupamerica.us and contribute by credit card or write a check to the Ownership Society Institute and mail it to our office at 9662 Jumilla Avenue, Chatsworth, CA 91311-5610.

The Ownership Society Institute is a California Charitable Trust # CT0136416 which qualifies for charitable status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

OWNERSHIP SOCIETY INSTITUTE
By:_Dick McDonald

Richard A. McDonald

Managing Trustee

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Congress to transform America to socialism?

With all the wailing and gnashing of teeth about the current economic downturn, no one seems to be pointing to government's involvement in and mismanagement of the marketplace. Why Americans sat by and allowed government to take their freedom away piecemeal is a mystery posterity will surely ponder. Historically, Americans rallied behind whatever effort it took to keep socialism from overtaking this nation. Now, Congress is moving rapidly toward enacting a law that will effectively embrace socialism.....This bill is expected to see floor action within the next several weeks. If it is enacted, it will not likely ever be undone. Once government gets its hands on new power, it is never relinquished.

Read the whole thing!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

British 'X Files' papers revealed

UFOs hovering over Waterloo Bridge? Green men known as Elgar? This can only mean the British 'X-Files' have been opened up to the public for the first time.

Read the whole thing!

Why did the chicken cross the road?

BARACK OBAMA:
The chicken crossed the road because it was time for a CHANGE! The chicken wanted CHANGE!

JOHN McCAIN:
My friends, that chicken crossed the road because he recognized the need to engage in cooperation and dialogue with all the chickens on the other side of the road.

HILLARY CLINTON:
When I was First Lady, I personally helped that little chicken to cross the road. This experience makes me uniquely qualified to ensure -- right from Day One! -- that every chicken in this country gets the chance it deserves to cross the road. But then, this really isn't about me.

DR. PHIL:
The problem we have here is that this chicken won't realize that he must first deal with the problem on 'THIS' side of the road before it goes after the problem on the 'OTHER SIDE' of the road. What we need to do is help him realize how stupid he's acting by not taking on his 'CURRENT' problems before adding 'NEW' problems.

OPRAH:
Well, I understand that the chicken is having problems, which is why he wants to cross this road so bad. So, instead of having the chicken learn from his mistakes and take falls, which is a part of life, I'm going to give this chicken a car so that he can just drive across the road and not live his life like the rest of the chickens.

GEORGE W. BUSH:
We don't really care why the chicken crossed the road. We just want to know if the chicken is on our side of the road, or not. The chicken is either against us, or for us. There is no middle ground here.

COLIN POWELL:
Now to the left of the screen, you can clearly see the satellite image of the chicken crossing the road.

ANDERSON COOPER - CNN:
We have reason to believe there is a chicken, but we have not yet been allowed to have access to the other side of the road.

JOHN KERRY:
Although I voted to let the chicken cross the road, I am now against it! It was the wrong road to cross, and I was misled about the chicken's intentions. I am not for it now, and will remain against it.

NANCY GRACE:
That chicken crossed the road because he's GUILTY! You can see it in his eyes and the way he walks.

PAT BUCHANAN:
To steal the job of a decent, hardworking American.

MARTHA STEWART:
No one called me to warn me which way that chicken was going. I had a standing order at the Farmer's Market to sell my eggs when the price dropped to a certain level. No little bird gave me any insider information.

DR SEUSS:
Did the chicken cross the road?
Did he cross it with a toad?
Yes, the chicken crossed the road,

but why it crossed I've not been told.

ERNEST HEMINGWAY:
To die in the rain. Alone.

JERRY FALWELL:
Because the chicken was gay! Can't you people see the plain truth? That's why they call it the 'other side.' Yes, my friends, that chicken is gay. And if you eat that chicken, you will become gay too. I say we boycott all chickens until we sort out this abomination that the liberal media white washes with seemingly harmless phrases like 'the other side'. That chicken should not be crossing the road. It's as plain and as simple as that.

GRANDPA:
In my day we didn't ask why the chicken crossed the road. Somebody told us the chicken crossed the road, and that was good enough.

BARBARA WALTERS:
Isn't that interesting? In a few moments, we will be listening to the chicken tell, for the first time, the heart warming story of how it experienced a serious case of molting, and went on to accomplish its life long dream of crossing the road.

ARISTOTLE:
It is the nature of chickens to cross the road.

JOHN LENNON:
Imagine all the chickens in the world crossing roads together, in peace.

BILL GATES:
I have just released eChicken 2007, which will not only cross roads, but will lay eggs, file your important documents, and balance your checkbook. Internet Explorer is an integral part of the Chicken. This new platform is much more stable and will never cra...#@&&^(C% .. .. .. .. reboot.

ALBERT EINSTEIN:
Did the chicken really cross the road, or did the road move beneath the chicken?

BILL CLINTON:
I did not cross the road with THAT chicken. What is your definition of chicken?

AL GORE:
I invented the chicken!

COLONEL SANDERS:
Did I miss one?

DICK CHENEY:
Where's my gun?

AL SHARPTON:
Why are all the chickens white?

We need some black chickens.

Who Is Really Responsible For The High Prices You Pay For Gasoline?

By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY
Posted Monday, May 12, 2008 4:20 PM PT

For the last 28 years, Democrats in Congress and a few Republicans have again and again opposed our drilling for oil in Alaska's ANWR area when we knew it contained at least 10 billion barrels of oil we could be using now.

• For the past 31 years, Congress repeatedly prevented us from building any new oil refineries that we now badly need.

• More recently, congressional Democrats defeated and discouraged any bill that would let us drill in the deep sea 100 miles out. However, it's somehow OK for China to drill there.

• As a further indictment of our Congress, since the 1980s it has continually stopped all building of nuclear power plants while France, Germany and, yes, Japan, plus 12 other major nations, did build plants and now get 20% to 80% of their energy from their wise and safe nuclear plant investments.

• From 1990 to 2000, U.S. crude oil demand rapidly accelerated by 7.41 quadrillion BTUs, according to Department of Energy data. And our rate of foreign oil dependency dramatically increased while our domestic oil production steadily declined.

Under the eight Clinton years alone, U.S. oil production declined 1,349,000 barrels per day, or 19%, while our foreign imports increased 3,574,000 barrels per day, or 45%.

During this time, President Clinton vetoed ANWR drilling bills that would have clearly made Alaska our No. 1 state in the production of our own vitally needed oil supply, not only for all Americans but also for national defense emergencies.

So were Democrats and members of Congress together merely short-sighted, with only a few having any real business experience?

Or were they just ignorant about economics ­ the fact that the law of supply and demand determines the price of all commodities such as oil, steel, copper and lumber?

Or were they simply and utterly irresponsible and incompetent in their actions that led us to become dangerously dependent on increasing oil imports from foreign countries?

We think it was "all of the above."

The unintended consequence of the Congress members' poor judgment and meddling micromanagement of U.S. energy policy is that they actually hurt most the very people they always profess to be able to help ­ the average American consumer, lower-income workers and those in the inner city who can't afford an extra $100 a month to drive to and from their jobs.

Democrats kowtowed to the wishes of their environmental supporters over the basic needs of 300 million American citizens.

It is a national disgrace that all they now know how to do is relentlessly criticize, complain and condemn. They always attempt to blame, investigate and scapegoat someone else, in this case U.S. oil companies, when Congress is the true villain of ineptness for constantly blocking and obstructing every effort for us to become more productive and less dependent on foreign oil.

Do those now in Congress really think Middle America's voters are so gullible that they will believe that its latest best and brightest answer to increasing our supply of oil and gas is to slap a 25% windfall penalty tax on oil companies and remove all other incentives for oil companies to drill and explore for oil?

The right time to release oil from, or stop adding to, our Strategic Petroleum Reserve is not now. That will do nothing to increase our ongoing oil supply needs and will have limited affect on oil prices while increasing our national security risks.

Only after we first announce to the world a bold new change in our policy by proclaiming that we intend to begin drilling in ANWR and selected outer sea areas, plus adopt new conservation programs, will the release of oil from our reserves have a major impact on breaking the price of oil.

If our congressional leadership can't muster the courage to begin reversing past mistakes now and allow our companies to drill in ANWR and off-limits offshore areas, and build essential refineries and safe nuclear power plants, what will an even-more-discredited Congress do in 2009, 2010 and 2011, when millions of new city dwellers in China and India will be driving the cars their countries are now producing, thereby materially increasing their already huge demand for oil and gas?

It's wake-up time for America. Maybe we should investigate the blame-throwing investigators in Congress.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Democrites



Sunday, May 11, 2008

Careers at Research Institutes or Think Tanks

Careers in Think Tanks & Research Institute
The University of Georgia Career Center
Clark Howell Hall, 706-542-3375, www.career.uga.edu
March 2007

Few people make a career solely in research institutes or think tanks. However, many people start their political careers in hunderds of think tanks in Washington, D.C. or thousands of research centers around the country.

These organizations come in all types of flavors and sizes. Therefore, you shouldn’t have a problem finding one that matches your interest and political preference. Most institutes or think tanks will have websites that provide information about the organization, employment options (including internships) and details about the applications process. Below is a list of some of the most familiar organizations. However, you should conduct your own search (using resources like Career Beam on the Career Center homepage or Career Search on DawgTRAK) to learn about others that might be of interest.

One of the best strategies for getting your foot in the door with a research institute or think tank is to do an internship. From this experience, you can establish a footing that will allow you to move into a full-time position and learn skills valued by the profession. Once individual’s receive their bachelor’s degrees they can expect to find work that is administrative at best. However, some organizations have special year-long programs or fellowships that are catered to recent college graduates.

Master’s candidates can expect to be considered for a research assistant position. Because most senior positions require a PhD, research assistant positions do not generally lead to a career with the organization. In fact, the lifespan at most organizations for those with a BA/BS or MA/MS is just two-three years. Moreover, it is standard form to have five or six different jobs over a twenty-year period, with each opportunity leading to new responsibilities and a higher salary.

Resource Listing:

• American Council for Voluntary International Action / Washington, DC – www.interaction.org
• American Enterprise Institute / Washington, DC – www.aei.org
• American Foreign Policy Council / Washington, DC – www.afpc.org
• American Institute for Contemporary German Studies / Washington, DC – www.aicgs.org
• Amnesty International / New York, NY – www.amnesty.org
• Arms Control Association / Washington, DC - www.armscontrol.org/
• Asia Society / New York, NY – www.asiasociety.org
• Aspen Institute / Washington, DC – www.aspeninstitute.org
• Association on Third World Affairs, Inc. / Washington, DC – http://atwa.org/
• Atlantic Council of the United States / Washington, DC – www.acus.org
• Atlas Economic Research Foundation / Fairfax, VA – www.atlasusa.org
• Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies / Montreal, Canada – www.biu.ac.il/SOC/besa
• Berkeley Roundtable on the International Economy / Berkeley, CA – http://brie.berkeley.edu/BRIE
• British American Security Information Council / Washington, DC – http://www.basicint.org/
• Brookings Institution / Washington, DC – www.brookings.org March 2007
• California Budget Project / Sacramento, CA – www.cbp.org
• Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs / New York, NY – www.carnegiecouncil.org
• Carnegie Endowment for International Peace / Washington, DC – www.ceip.org
• Carter Center / Atlanta, GA – www.cartercenter.org
• Cascade Policy Institute / Portland, OR – www.cascadepolicy.org
• Cato Institute / Washington, DC – www.cato.org
• Center for American Progress / Washington, DC – www.americanprogress.org
• Center for Defense Information / Washington, DC – www.cdi.org
• Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) - www.cdt.org
• Center for Equal Opportunity (CEO) - www.ceousa.org
• Center for Global Development / Washington, DC – www.cgdev.org
• Center for International Earth Science Information Network - www.ciesin.org
• Center for International Private Enterprise / Washington, DC – www.cipe.org
• Center for National Policy / Washington, DC – www.cnponline.og
• Center for Nonproliferation Studies / Monterey, CA – http://cns.miis.edu/
• Center for Politics - www.centerforpolitics.org
• Center for Strategic and International Studies / Washington, DC – www.csis.org
• Center for Women Policy Studies - www.centerwomenpolicy.org
• Center of International Studies / Princeton, NJ – http://www.wws.princeton.edu/~cis
• Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) - www.cbpp.org
• Center on International Cooperation / New York, NY – http://www.cic.nyu.edu/
• Century Foundation / New York, NY – www.tcf.org
• Chicago Council on Foreign Relations / Chicago, IL – www.ccfr.org
• Civicus / Washington, DC – www.civicus.org
• Committee for Economic Development / New York, NY – www.ced.org
• Commonwealth Institute / Cambridge, MA – www.comw.org
• Consensus Council, Inc. / Bismarck, ND – www.agree.org
• Council on Foreign Relations/ New York, NY – www.cfr.org
• Demokritos Society of American / Alamo, CA – www.demokritos.org
• Discovery Institute / Seattle, WA – www.discovery.org
• Earth Policy Institute / Washington, DC – www.earth-policy.org
• East-West Center / Honolulu, HI – www.ewc.hawaii.edu
• East West Institute / New York, NY – www.ewi.info
• Economic Growth Center / New Haven, CT – www.econ.yale.edu/~egcenter/
• Economic Policy Institute / Washington, DC – www.epinet.org
• Economic Strategy Institute / Washington, DC – www.econstrat.org
• Employee Benefit Research Institute / Washington, DC – www.ebri.org
• Ethics and Public Policy Center / Washington, DC – www.eppc.org
• Eurasia Foundation / Washington, DC – www.eurasia.org
• Federation of American Scientists / Washington, DC – www.fas.org
• Foreign Policy Association / New York, NY – www.fpa.org
• Foreign Policy Research Institute / Philadelphia, PA – www.fpri.org
• Freedom Forum / Arlington, VA – www.freedomforum.org
• Fund for Peace / Washington, DC – www.fundforpeace.org
• Heritage Foundation / Washington, DC – www.heritage.org March 2007
• Hoover Institution / Washington, DC – www.hoover-stanford.edu
• Hudson Institute / Washington, DC – www.hudson.org
• Human Rights Watch / New York, NY – www.hrw.org
• The Independent Institute / Oakland, CA – www.independent.org
• Institute for Defense and Disarmament / Cambridge, MA – www.idds.org
• Institute for International Economics / Washington, DC – www.iie.com
• Institute for Peace / Washington, DC – www.usip.org
• Institute for Policy Studies / Washington, DC – www.ips-dc.org
• Institute for Public Policy Studies / Denver, CO – www.du.edu/mpp
• Institute for Research on Poverty / Madison WI – www.irp.wisc.edu/
• Institute for the Analysis of Global Security / Washington, DC – www.iags.org
• Institute for International Economics - www.iie.com
• Institute for the Future / Palo Alto, CA – www.iftf.org
• Inter-American Dialogue / Washington, DC – www.thedialogue.org
• International Food Policy Research Institute / Washington, DC – www.ifpri.org
• International Center for Energy and Economic Development / Boulder, CO – www.iceed.org
• International Crisis Group / New York, NY – www.crisisgroup.org
• International Institute for Energy Conservation (IIEC) - www.content.asce.org/cefi/HomePage.html
• International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) - www.iiss.org
• Kellogg Institute for International Studies / Notre Dame, IN – http://kellogg.nd.edu/
• Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies / Notre Dome, IN – http://kroc.nd.edu/
• Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies / Washington, DC – www.jointcenter.org
• Mansfield Center for Pacific Affairs / Washington, DC – www.mcpa.org
• Mansfield Foundation / Washington, DC – www.mansfieldfdn.org
• Middle East Institute / Washington, DC – www.mideasti.org
• Middle East Policy Council / Washington, DC – www.mepc.org
• Migration Policy Institute / Washington, DC – www.migrationpolicy.org
• Milken Institute / Santa Monica, CA – www.milkeninstitute.org/
• National Bureau of Economic Research / Cambridge, MA – www.nber.org
• National Center for Policy Analysis / Dallas, TX – www.ncpa.org
• National Endowment for Democracy / Washington, DC – www.ned.org
• National Health Policy Forum / Washington, DC – www.nhpf.org
• National Bureau of Asian Research / Seattle, WA – www.nbr.org
• National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) - www.nber.org
• National Institute on Money in Politics - www.followthemoney.org
• National Security Archive / Washington, DC – www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/
• Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainable Development / Berkely, CA – www.nautilus.org
• Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government / Albany, NY – www.rockinst.org
• New America Foundation / Washington, DC – www.newamerica.net
• Nixon Center / Washington, DC – www.nixoncenter.org
• Northeast-Midwest Institute / Washington, DC – www.nemw.org
• OMB Watch / Washington, DC – www.ombwatch.org
• Peterson Institute for International Economics / Washington, DC – www.iie.com
• Phoenix Center / Washington, DC – www.phoenix-center.org
• Population Council / New York, NY – www.popcouncil.org
March 2007
• Population Reference Bureau / Washington, DC – www.prb.org
• Progressive Policy Institute / Washington, DC – www.ppionline.org
• RAND Corporation / Santa Monica, CA – www.rand.org
• Regional Research Institute / Morgantown, WV – www.rri.wvu.edu
• Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies / Washington, DC – www.sais-jhu.edu
• Resources for the Future / Washington, DC – www.rff.org
• Rockford Institute / Rockford, IL – www.rockfordinstitute.org
• Russell Sage Foundation / New York, NY – www.russellsage.org
• Social Science Research Council / New York, NY – www.ssrc.org
• Southern Center for International Studies / Atlanta, GA – www.southerncenter.org
• Southwest Center for Environmental Research and Policy / San Diego, CA – www.scerp.org
• Strategic Studies Institute / Carlisle, PA – www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/
• Stimson Center / Washington, DC – www.stimson.org
• Tax Policy Center - www.taxpolicycenter.org
• Union of Concerned Scientists / Cambridge, MA – www.ucsusa.org/global_security
• United States Institute of Peace / Washington, DC – www.usip.org
• Urban Institute / Washington, DC – www.urban.org
• US-Japan-China Comparative Policy Research Institute / San Jose, CA – http://cpri.tripod.com
• Vanderbilt Institute for Public Policy Studies / Nashville, TN – www.vanderbilt.edu/VIPPS
• Washington Institute for Near East Policy / Washington, DC – www.washingtoninstitute.org
• Weatherhead East Asian Institute / New York, NY – www.columbia.edu/weai
• Weidenbaum Center / St. Louis, MO – http://wc.wustl.edu
• Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars / Washington, DC – www.wilsoncenter.org
• Worldwatch Institute / Washington, DC – www.worldwatch.org
• World Peace Foundation / Cambridge, MA – www.worldpeacefoundation.org
• World Policy Institute / New York, NY – www.worldpolicy.org
• World Resources Institute / Washington, DC www.wri.org

Career Center

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Gun is Civilization

by Maj. L. Caudill USMC (Ret)

Human beings only have two ways to deal with one another: reason and force. If you want me to do something for you, you have a choice of either convincing me via argument, or force me to do your bidding under threat of force. Every human interaction falls into one of those two categories, without exception. Reason or force, that's it.

In a truly moral and civilized society, people exclusively interact through persuasion. Force has no place as a valid method of social interaction, and the only thing that removes force from the menu is the personal firearm, as paradoxical as it may sound to some.

When I carry a gun, you cannot deal with me by force. You have to use reason and try to persuade me, because I have a way to negate your threat or employment of force.

The gun is the only personal weapon that puts a 100-pound woman on equal footing with a 220-pound mugger, a 75-year old retiree on equal footing with a 19-year old gang banger, and a single guy on equal footing with a carload of drunk guys with baseball bats. The gun removes the disparity in physical strength, size, or numbers between a potential attacker and a defender.

There are plenty of people who consider the gun as the source of bad force equations. These are the people who think that we'd be more civilized if all guns were removed from society, because a firearm makes it easier for a [armed] mugger to do his job. That, of course, is only true if the mugger's potential victims are mostly disarmed either by choice or by legislative fiat--it has no validity when most of a mugger's potential marks are armed.

People who argue for the banning of arms ask for automatic rule by the young, the strong, and the many, and that's the exact opposite of a civilized society. A mugger, even an armed one, can only make a successful living in a society where the state has granted him a force monopoly.

Then there's the argument that the gun makes confrontations lethal that otherwise would only result in injury. This argument is fallacious in several ways.

Without guns involved, confrontations are won by the physically superior party inflicting overwhelming injury on the loser.

People who think that fists, bats, sticks, or stones don't constitute lethal force watch too much TV, where people take beatings and come out of it with a bloody lip at worst. The fact that the gun makes lethal force easier works solely in favor of the weaker defender, not the stronger attacker. If both are armed, the field is level.

The gun is the only weapon that's as lethal in the hands of an octogenarian as it is in the hands of a weight lifter. It simply wouldn't work as well as a force equalizer if it wasn't both lethal and easily employable.

When I carry a gun, I don't do so because I am looking for a fight, but because I'm looking to be left alone. The gun at my side means that I cannot be forced, only persuaded.

I don't carry it because I'm afraid, but because it enables me to be unafraid. It doesn't limit the actions of those who would interact with me through reason, only the actions of those who would do so by force. It removes force from the equation...and that's why carrying a gun is a civilized act.


Maj. L. Caudill USMC (Ret)

Obama is not the Anti-Christ, he is THE MESSIAH

S. 2433: Global Poverty Act of 2007
Bill Status: Introduced: Dec 7, 2007
Sponsor: Sen. Barack Obama [D-IL]
Status: Scheduled for Debate
To require the President to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to further the United States foreign policy objective of promoting the reduction of global poverty, the elimination of extreme global poverty, and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goal of reducing by one-half the proportion of people worldwide, between 1990 and 2015, who live on less than $1 per day.

Read the whole thing here!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Letter from a soldier in Iraq

1 May 08

To All,

I feel like a horse waiting for the gates to open. I have been in Iraq since the 11th with my advance party. For those unfamiliar with the concept, most Marine Corps units will send a small contingent in advance of the main body to create conditions for a smooth transition with the preceding unit. Now we wait for the flights to arrive with the rest of the Marines, so we can get started in earnest. A few days ago, we came back to the main base out here, Al Asad, in preparation for their scheduled arrival. Unfortunately, sand storms have played havoc with the flight schedule. Yesterday, there were 7 false alarms about flight arrivals. Much like Tantalus, so close and yet so far (for those not up to speed on your Greek mythology, a good chance to try out that Google thing you have heard so much about).


As this is the introductory letter of our 7-month series, let me paint the picture of what I/We will be doing for the next 7 months. The last deployment I was a platoon commander, in charge of 52 Marines and 14 AAVs and supporting the efforts of an infantry battalion in Al Qaim. This time around, I command a company of 200+ Marines, with close to 30 vehicles, and responsibilities for my own battle space that is about 300 square kilometers in size (for those who struggle with conversions to the metric system, a kilometer is .62 miles, so our battle space is just under 200 square miles in size).


We are located in Anbar Province on the Euphrates River, just south of the Triad, which consist of the towns of Haditha, Haqlaniyah, and Barwanah. Our mission this time around is that of an infantry company, conducting security patrols in our zone, as well as managing economic and local government development, emphasizing and pushing the rule of law (to include developing the local police department), mentoring local Iraqi Army forces, and promoting civil connection with the district, provincial, and national government. I'm sure you are all saying to yourselves, "Well, that doesn't sound so hard. What's the big deal?" Fair enough, so let me describe some of the events of the last few weeks, preceded by some general impressions.


We are pretty close to some of the areas in which we fought in 2005, so I feel some comparisons are warranted. The short version is this: This area is remarkably different than in 2005, and at least in Anbar Province, we are winning this war. In 2005, Anbar Province was riddled with IEDs and foreign fighters, Al Qaeda was declaring a caliphate centered in Haditha, there was little to no effective government or Iraqi Security Force, and Marine units could not enter the big cities out here without serious combat power. The Iraqis were caught in the middle of this fight, some fighting with Al Qaeda, some with us, most just trying to live their lives without hope of improvement. The single biggest employer was the government, which was not functioning, and other major employers in the area were not working due to the security situation or damage to infrastructure or threats of death from Al Qaeda. At the time, I would not have recommended vacationing here.


Another quick aside, for those who argue that Iraq has nothing to do with Al Qaeda, and that if we leave so will they. Sometime we choose the battlefield, sometimes the enemy chooses it. Those that win usually select their preferred battlefield. Both the US and Al Qaeda have chosen Iraq as their principle battlefield. They were determined to create their new caliphate here. That's just a fact. Arguing anything else is a red herring, ignores the facts on the ground, and lives in the past. I won't argue that no mistakes have been made because there certainly have been, lots of them. However, the thing that people forget, unfortunately far too frequently, is that mistakes are normal in war, tactically and strategically. These mistakes carry an extraordinarily high cost, one that the military bears, and with which we are intimately familiar but accept unflinchingly. The victors in war are usually the ones who identify their mistakes and adapt the fastest, analyzing past failure only as a means to find future success, not as a method of placing blame (although that will naturally happen too). I am now off my soapbox.

As a way of comparison, let me tell you a few stories about my first couple of weeks here. Just before our arrival, the Marine Corps and Iraqi contractors had finished building two soccer fields in the area. These were pretty poor fields on the whole, all dirt and a little undersized, but infinitely better than playing in the desert. Two teams representing local towns were playing. There were about 100 spectators at the game, including a large contingent of children, who chanted local soccer songs throughout the game. Soccer is a pretty big deal here, and they are justifiably proud of their national team. Capt Ruble, my predecessor, and I had seats of honor on couches that were placed on the sideline. We intermingled with the crowds, exchanging jokes and hearing occasional grievances. At the end of the game, Capt Ruble gave out medals to the victors, and then he and I were presented trophies. I was proclaimed, "the bestest major ever, ever" (their words, not mine, although I have to agree). One of the players looked like he had been imported from Ireland for the game, complete with red hair, fair skin, and a feisty personality. I imagine he had some English blood left over from the British occupation in the 1st half of the 20th century. In all, it was a pretty interesting scene.


Several days ago, I had the opportunity to attend a meeting of the Haqlaniyah City Council, which consisted of about 15 local leaders. The big news of the day was an election for a new council member, and we hoped to get our guy elected. Our area, Albu Hyatt, lacked a city council member, which created several problems. For starters, as governance transitions to more and more Iraqi control, it would limit the amount of projects, money, and support that Albu Hyatt would be able to get. Secondly, it had the potential to alienate the major tribe in Albu Hyatt and undermine the security progress we have made in the last year. So we had been prepping the ground for the meeting for several months. While the meeting didn't exactly follow Robert's Rules of Order, it was pretty good. They took nominations, had discussion, and then took a vote, after asking the candidates to leave the room. One difference: 3/4 of the room was smoking. I'm sure the health fanatics would have been forced to excuse themselves, but it was fine by me. Our guy was elected by an overwhelming majority, making him the first elected member of the city council. It may be a small step, but still pretty cool to watch.

A few days after that, I had the opportunity to sit down and eat dinner with an Iraqi Colonel, who is possibly the most influential man in the area. He has a fascinating history, as sub-sheik in a major tribe in the area, as a guy who was shot 4 times in the stomach by Saddam's henchmen (losing ½ his stomach and a kidney in the process), as a guy who went to a sports university and played soccer on the national level, as a guy who was one of the first locals to stand up to Al Qaeda in the area (before we could give him much support, I should add), and as a guy who commands an Iraqi Battalion. He is a very bright and charismatic guy, but with a fairly substantial ruthless streak, and he has the potential to be either a big supporter for democratic progress or one who undermines it for power and prestige. I have been tasked with partnering with this Colonel and his battalion, so I expect to spend a lot of time over there.

Before I get to the dinner itself, I should set the stage a little. Most Iraqi buildings seem to follow a basic construction design. Most buildings are of concrete construction, with pretty thick walls and large tile floors. This construction tends to keep them a little cooler inside in the summer, and if there is no AC, there is always a ceiling fan.


Most of the houses have a reception/social room. Typically these rooms are long and relatively narrow, with couches lining the walls and small coffee tables in between each couch. Upon arriving in the room, you will make greetings starting on the right, and moving around the room. For those you don't know well, a handshake usually suffices. However, for those you know well, it is a handshake and kiss on the cheek, followed by a shoulder bump.


Shortly after arrival, the host will normally serve chi, a very hot and well-sugared tea (not bad, but I still haven't gotten used to the near boiling temperature). Since most of you know me pretty well, you all recognize that I don't much care for small talk, and am usually reserved around strangers. Take those traits and put them in a new culture, with a language I barely understand (I can count to 10 in Arabic, including zero, and have about a 50-75 work vocabulary. Of course they are all nouns, so I can't actually speak sentences yet, but it's coming), and it can be downright uncomfortable. But I am learning quickly and find it rather interesting.


The meal the Colonel served was an entire sheep on a large platter, with two chickens off to the side, set on a bed of mixed rice and flat bread. Some vegetables were placed out in bowls. A little different but no big deal. Of course, there were no chairs or utensils, so we were only using our hands while standing. The big eaters would tuck their left hand behind them (it is considered the dirty hand) and begin tearing into the meat, breaking off large portions in practiced motions, and grabbing handfuls of rice. Not being a big eater, and still waiting for my system to adjust to Iraqi meals, I contented myself with chicken and flatbread. The whole thing is a site to behold, and the Iraqis really seem to relish their meals (and by relish, I mean inhale. I think my interpreter, Eagle, can eat a whole sheep by himself). I haven't seen any tradition of desert, although when we were here on Al Asad with the Colonel and some of his men, they all went for ice cream.

Anyway, it has been an interesting first few weeks. I have no doubt that this deployment will be exhausting, with the heat, the gear we wear, the occasional odd hours, and no days off, but I think it will be extraordinarily interesting and valuable. Now if I can just get the rest of my company here, we will be ready to roll.

With that, I think I will sign off for the evening. I hope everyone is well.

Chris