Saturday, August 27, 2005

Ambiguity

Well, I've just sent an e-mail to Blockbuster via their "contact us" web page. Here's what I wrote (their reply — which should be a form letter as it's probable that I'm not the first to complain — will be posted soon):
I thought it odd that Blockbuster would cut off a key revenue stream with the company's cancellation of late fees. Tonight I learned first hand that the "late fee" revenue stream has been renamed "restocking fee" revenue stream.

Though the "no more late fees" campaign seems straight forward, Blockbuster has practiced a level of ambiguity typically seen in advertisements by the local car dealerships. Instead of waiting on lawsuits and publicized complaints — as evidenced with the 2001 and the recent "no more late fees" settlements — it would refreshing to see a coporation of Blockbuster's stature take the moral high ground.

These comments stem from a recent visit to a local Blockbuster store where I was faced with a $14.92 charge on top of my just-rented batch of movies. Thank you for helping me realize that Pay Per View and Netflix are a more economical movie rental venue.
This, of course, is in my humble opinion.

The Blockbuster Lie

Blockbuster's lie about the end of late fees is not technically a lie. Mistruth is a more accurate description as the late fees have been replaced by other charges, including a restocking fee.

It seems to me that if a company advertises something — for instance a warranty, low price, or no more late fees — then that should be it. Instead, there is always an asterisk or some sort of disclaimer which spells out the real truth of the matter. In the Blockbuster case, their disclaimer states:
"The End of Late Fees Terms

Membership rules apply for rentals. Rentals are due back at the date and time stated on the transaction receipt. There is no additional rental charge if a member keeps a rental item up to 7 days beyond the pre-paid rental period. After 7 days beyond the due date, Blockbuster will automatically convert the rental to a purchase on the 8th day and will charge the member the selling price for the item in effect at the time of the rental, minus the rental fee paid. Member then has 30 days to return the product and receive a credit for the selling price charged, less a $1.25 restocking fee. These terms available at participating stores only. Franchisee restocking fees may vary. See store or blockbuster.com for complete terms and conditions."
Personally, I was never sent (via e-mail, USPS or any other source) details regarding the "no more late fees" policy. When Blockbuster told me that there were no more late fees, I was not under the assumption that those had been replaced with other fees.

Blockbuster would also like to clarify that that have "worked with a negotiating group representing several states to further clarify and enhance the End of Late Fees program. We were asked to provide more information about the program and how it works, and although we believe our original communications were clear, we’re happy to do whatever we can to improve our communications to further enhance our customer experience."

Blockbuster has lost another customer.

This, of course, is in my humble opinion.

Katrina

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Goodbye, Old Soldiers

It's happened to me before, running into men who served with my late father in World War II.

This time I was in Greensboro, N. C., at a bookstore. I was signing copies of one of mine.

I noticed the old man at the first of the hour. He stood at the entrance of the store, looking at me.

After the hour, the signing was over. Meekly, the man walked to where I was sitting.

He had one of those faces that said, here's somebody's beloved grandfather. There was a lot of knowledge and caring in it.

Without another word, he said, "Your daddy was my first sergeant in World War II."

I've studied my father's record as a soldier closely and I know he was in France, then in Germany, and I know he later was sent back to Korea.

"He saved my life in Germany," the man continued. "He saved a lot of lives, and they gave him a battlefield commission."

According to a copy of the citation I have, the colonel had been killed and the unit was under heavy German fire. Sergeant Grizzard reorganized the company, running in the open where the bullets flew, and saved himself and his men from certain annihilation.

"If it weren't for your daddy," the man said, "I wouldn't be here today."

How do you respond to something like that? I certainly was proud of my father at that moment - to think this man had carried for half a century the memories of what my father did that day. And to think he would come to me after all this time. It was like he was trying to thank me for something my father did 50 years ago.

I think I managed a "Bless you," or a "Thanks for looking me up."

We shook hands and the old man walked away. My eyes teared as he did.

My parents' generation, I sincerely believe, had more to bear than any other in this country's history. Their lives were affected - and some were ruined - by World War I, the Great Depression, World War II and Korea, and some lost children in Vietnam. And, now, the last of them are fading into the shadows cast by the young they brought into this world.

A national magazine, noting the passing of the presidency to someone too young to have had the World War II experience, offered a spread titled, "Goodbye, Old Soldier."

George Bush was the youngest fighter pilot in the Navy during World War II.

Now he has gone to his retirement, having been replaced by one with no military experience whatsoever, one whose dealings with the draft system still has a number of unanswered questions.

The Old Soldiers have moved out, and the Baby Boomers have moved in.

That is unsettling to me. The country's leadership, save a few veteran members of Congress, is in the hands of those never tested by fire.

Few of my generation really know the meaning of sacrifice. What did we ever want for and couldn't have? When have we ever been hungry? When did most of us ever have to run through a hail of bullets in a foreign land in order to save comrades? I never have and neither has Bill Clinton.

After the man in Greensboro had walked away, I realized I had made a mistake by not sitting with him and asking him to tell me what happened that day in Germany. I would have liked to have known about it from a survivor, not from some document.

But you know how it is. We're all in a hurry. We just don't know where it is we're hurrying to.

Goodbye, Old Soldiers, and thank you.

You are the very best of us.

Lewis Grizzard (August, 1993)

Dear Cavemates

From: Bin Laden, Osama [mailto:osama@taliban.com]
Sent: Monday, November 19, 2001 8:17 AM
To: Cavemates
Subject: The Cave

Hi guys. We've all been putting in long hours but we've really come together as a group and I love that. Big thanks to Omar for putting up the poster that says "There is no I in team" as well as the one that says "Hang In There, Baby." That cat is hilarious. However, while we are fighting a jihad, we can't forget to take care of the cave. And frankly I have a few concerns.

First of all, while it's good to be concerned about cruise missiles, we should be even more concerned about the scorpions in our cave. Hey, you don't want to be stung and neither do I, so we need to sweep the cave daily. I've posted a sign-up sheet near the main cave opening.

Second, it's not often I make a video address but when I do, I'm trying to scare the most powerful country on earth, okay? That means that while we're taping, please do not ride your razor scooter in the background. Just while we're taping. Thanks.

Third point, and this is a touchy one. As you know, by edict, we're not supposed to shave our beards. But I need everyone to just think hygiene, especially after mealtime. We're all in this together.

Fourth: food. I bought a box of Cheez-Its recently, clearly wrote "Osama" on the front, and put it on the top shelf. Today, my Cheez-Its were gone. Consideration. That's all I'm saying.

Finally, we've heard that there may be American soldiers in disguise trying to infiltrate our ranks. I want to set up patrols to look for them. First patrol will be Omar, Muhammed, Abdul, Akbar, and Richard.

Love you lots.

Osama

American mothers continue to lose their children

In response to the killing of two employees of a suburban Phoenix Wal-Mart, police spokesman Mike Pena said, "This is something that you never imagine. This is a Wal-Mart located in the north sector of town, nice area and low crime — something you don't expect to happen in that area."

Violent crime doesn't just happen in the projects to a nameless victim. It's all around us.

In 2003, there were 16,503 recorded cases of murder or nonnegligent manslaughter. This is included in the 1,381,259 reported violent crimes. In Iraq, nearly 1,900 American soldiers have been killed with more than 14,000 wounded. As can clearly be seen, the amount of American deaths and injuries as a direct result of the Iraqi conflict are well below our national murder rate. Perhaps the grand puppeteer Michael Moore will have Cindy Sheehan jump on his Bowling for Columbine bandwagon as well.

This, of course, is in my humble opinion.

Do these pants make me look fat?

While there's three sides to every story, it appears that the story of an over-weight woman's complaint against her doctor is simple — she's fat and can't handle the truth. Dr. Terry Bennett told his patient that, in no uncertain terms, she was obese and that if she didn't shed the pounds she would die sooner than later. She ate a box of donuts, shed a tear and filed a complaint with the New Hampshire Board of Medicine.

I'd write more, but I keep getting Cheeto crumbs in the keyboard.

This, of course, is in my humble opinion.

Robertson apologizes

With the medication now taking affect, Robertson has acknowledged the error of his ways.

This, of course, is in my humble opinion.

A matter of interpretation

Pat Robertson is crawfishing on his comments calling for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Pat is denying that he said assassination of Chavez was necessary. He now claims that his comments were misinterpreted explaining that "our special forces should go 'take him out,' and 'take him out' could be a number of things, including kidnapping."

For someone who preaches (and practices?) a strict interpretation of "God's laws" as set forth in the Bible, Robertson's claim of ambiguity is oddly frightening and contradictory.

This, of course, is in my humble opinion.

Congressional responses

If our elected Congressional representatives, such as Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and Rep. John Conyers, Jr., truly wanted to serve the anti-war cause they so vehemently support then they should initiate impeachment proceedings against Pres. Bush. In 1999, Pres. Bill Clinton was easily impeached on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. His charges stemmed from extra-marital affairs and a botched real estate deal decades earlier. Today, we have a president who is accused of killing American men and women due to his ego and to meet the needs of certain special interest groups. These could prove to be strong charges during impeachment proceedings.

It seems to me that the Senate and House could easily vote to discontinue America's military involvement in Iraq and quickly follow that up with impeachment proceedings and a call for his resignation.

We will not see that though. The politicians who are speaking out against the war and in support of Cindy Sheehan are either:
  1. democrats,
  2. republicans who lean left or
  3. republicans up for re-election soon and are riding the band wagon.
Somehow I don't see any of this happening.

This, of course, is in my humble opinion.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

I'm creeped out

This is just too creepy!

First Baez and now some politician jumps on-board

Having U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee supporting the anti-war inspired 'Camp Casey' doesn't mean much.

Sheila's list of topics she's taken stances on include the Border Protection Corps Act. She said, "I am outraged over the introduction of the Border Protection Corps Act. This bill would establish groups of citizen volunteers to work as sworn law enforcement officers under the command of the Governors of the border States. These volunteers would take an oath of office and have the right to bear arms. In fact, they would be authorized to use any means and any force authorized by State law to prevent individuals from unlawfully entering the United States at any location other than a port of entry, and to take individuals who have so entered the United States into custody." What's wrong with that? This sounds no different to me than the groups of citizens that make up our police departments, border patrol and armed forces. The only difference is that the Border Protection act enlists and trains volunteers.

She adds, "This bill is a dangerous, extremely foolish extension of the Minutemen Project that was created by a former kindergarten teacher from Los Angeles who moved to Tombstone, Arizona, a few years ago. The Minutemen are untrained civilians, many of them armed with handguns, who have wandered around the border looking for what they term, 'suspicious activity" Who care's about the Minuteman Project. This goes above and beyond by training and authorizing volunteers to work as border agents. Additionally, this also opens the volunteers up to harsher standards of performance, guidance and supervision.

Sheila continued, "I am particularly disturbed by the fact that this new vigilante project would be funded by taking money from the Homeland Security Department. It is a disgrace to take money that the Homeland Security Department needs to fund our first." Isn't control of American borders part of homeland security?

On another occassion, Sheila stated, "While Congressional Republicans look at the seven months and see success, Democrats know Americans deserve more than a Congress that puts special interests ahead of our national defense. Democrats understand the need for common-sense reform and a commitment to putting the needs of the American people back on the Congressional Calendar." Sheila's list of Congressional bills she introduced includes some pretty useless initiatives. On more than one occassion she puts her special interests ahead of national defense. However, it's worth noting that she introduced two initiatives of significant interest. They are:
  • H.AMDT.321 to H.R.2863 An amendment numbered 9 printed in the Congressional Record to increase overall military pay (by transfer) by $2 billion.
  • H.AMDT.324 to H.R.2863 An amendment numbered 13 printed in the Congressional Record to increase funding (by transfer) for the Iraq Freedom fund by $500 million.
Following is a brief list of Sheila's Congressional bill initiatives that I feel are related to special interests and have nothing to do with securing national defense.
  • H.CON.RES.14 : Expressing the sense of Congress that a commemorative postage stamp should be issued in honor of the late George Thomas "Mickey" Leland.
  • H.CON.RES.15 : Expressing the sense of Congress that Congress has the sole and exclusive power to declare war.
  • H.RES.225 : Recognizing the historic steps India and Pakistan have taken toward achieving bilateral peace.
  • H.RES.263 : Recognizing the Honorable Andrew L. Jefferson, Jr., on the occasion of the establishment of an endowment for trial advocacy called the "Andrew L. Jefferson Endowment for Trial Advocacy" at Texas Southern University's Thurgood Marshall School of Law in Houston, Texas.
  • H.RES.272 : Recognizing the historic steps India and Pakistan have taken toward achieving bilateral peace.
  • H.R.60 : To designate Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Somalia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Maldives, Tanzania, Seychelles, Bangladesh, and Kenya under section 244 of the Immigration and Nationality Act in order to render nationals of such foreign states eligible for temporary protected status under such section.
  • H.R.251 : To assist aliens who were transplanted to the United States as children in continuing their education and otherwise integrating into American society.
  • H.R.258 : To authorize the President to posthumously award a gold medal on behalf of the Congress to the seven members of the crew of the space shuttle Columbia in recognition of their outstanding and enduring contributions to the Nation.
  • H.R.290 : -- Private Bill; For the relief of Ahmad Khabaz Taghizadeh and Azammolok Taghizadeh Vatani.
  • H.R.291 : -- Private Bill; For the relief of Sharif Kesbeh, Asmaa Sharif Kesbeh, Baol Kesbeh, Noor Sharif Kesbeh, Alaa Kesbeh, Sondos Kesbeh, Hadeel Kesbeh, and Mohanned Kesbeh.
  • H.R.937 : To direct the Architect of the Capitol to enter into a contract to revise the statue commemorating women's suffrage located in the rotunda of the United States Capitol to include a likeness of Sojourner Truth.
  • H.R.2247 : -- Private Bill; For the relief of Jen-Hui Tsai.
  • H.AMDT.145 to H.R.2360 Amendment prohibits the use of funds to patrol the U.S. border except as authorized by law.
  • H.AMDT.440 to H.R.3058 Amendment sought to prohibit the use of funds to implement community service requirements for public housing tenants.
  • H.AMDT.510 to H.R.3070 An amendment numbered 3 printed in House Report 109-179 to restore funding for Historically Black Colleges and universities under NASA education programs to the FY04 funding level of $69.2 million for FY06 and $71.2 million for FY07. Also restores funding for Hispanic Serving Institutions under NASA education programs in the amount of $46.4 million for FY06 and $47.4 million for FY07.
This, of course, is in my humble opinion.

Freedom of speech

When does hate speech move beyond freedom of speech? An attorney or judge might argue that any speech meant to incite a violent (not necessarily physical) response is not protected by the first amendment. D.C. radio host Michael Graham was fired Tuesday after saying that "We are at war with a terrorist organization named Islam" on his show. This drew the ire of the Council on American-Islam Relations and asked Graham to retract his comments about Islam and deliver an on-air apology. He refused and was subsequently fired.

We can say what we want, but sometimes we have to be willing to handle any potential negative onslaught. Freedom of speech isn't always free.

This, of course, is in my humble opinion.

Pharmaceuticals ... the new church

If Illinois pharmacist Luke Vander Bleek has a moral problem with selling 'morning-after' birth-control pills he should try a new profession. He doesn't seem to have a problem selling condoms which, according to the Bible, is a sin because man should not waste his "seed" (I've paraphrased from memory). What if he decides to have a moral issue with filling a prescription for antidepressants? If that consumer needs the medication to combat suicidal tendencies that are eventually followed through on, will Vander Bleek be held liable for negligent homicide?

This, of course, is in my humble opinion.

Been dipping in the Kool-aid again

Let's assume that America's actions in Iraq are wrong and that our invasion was based on lies. So, we've gone in with a full assault of bombings and other destructive actions. The results? The obvious removal of a despot, the capture of other tyranical monsters, devastation to the country's infrastructure, the killing of Iraqi nationals, etc. The United States storms the country searching for a stash of yet-to-be-found WMD and leaves a trail of destruction.

Now American opinions are leaning in support of troop removal (which is obvious as no one wants war). Do we simply tell the Iraqis and the rest of the world, "We're sorry for the invasion. We've gotta go, but come over Sunday for the football game!"? No. We repair what we destroyed as well as resolve issues from years of tyrannical rule. We, and all other countries involved, help build schools, water treatment facilities, housing, and much more. Additionally, we help the country install a government and all of the fundamentals that go along with that. Despite what Cindy Sheehan, Michael Moore, the media in general and certain political factions want us to believe, good is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In her 8/22/05 blog entry, Cindy Sheehan spews grandiose claims that display her overall desire to say and do anything in order to halt American involvement in Iraq.

In response to supposed comments that she go home and take care of her remaining children, Sheehan writes, "We as mothers need to stop buying into the load of misogynistic crap that our children need our constant presence in their lives so they can thrive and grow. What we need as families are strong support systems that allow each family member to grow and achieve his/her full potential as human beings. What we as Moms need to stop doing is giving our children to the military industrial war complex to be used as human cluster bombs: to kill innocent civilians and to perhaps die enriching and feeding the gluttonous war machine."

This sounds exactly like Michael Moore's rhetoric, but that's not important. What's important is that she feels it's "misogynistic crap" for a mother to be at home with the children. It's not misogynistic for the family core to involve the mother having a constant presence in their children's lives. It's important for both parents and all siblings to be together in order to form that family core. It doesn't matter if it's the father who stays home with the children while the wife works. It's apparent that Sheehan has failed in providing a strong support system due to the fact that she's involved in divorce proceedings, certain family members have voiced opposition to her protest and she gave her child to the "military industrial war complex." She has also proven that she failed in providing a strong support system that allowed "each family member to grow and achieve his/her full potential as human beings." How? By the sheer fact that she criticized her family's views and values as well as believing her son's decision to serve his country in the armed forces was wrong. Therefore, they don't think and believe as she does so they must not have reached their "full potential as human beings."

Sheehan continues, "It is up to us Moms to make sure our children are whole and safe. We can start doing this by always opposing the wars that bury our kids before us. So what I am saying to the people who want me to go home and take care of my kids: I AM taking care of my kids, and yours, too."

Sometimes we, as Americans, make sacrifices for the greater good of the country. These sacrifices may include the loss of one's own life or that of a loved one. Ask the families of the 413,000 American casulaties from World War II what kind of sacrifice they made. I never want to see my children fight a war, but I would support them and the country. I would do this, Cindy, because hopefully they are making the world safe for their children and your children.

Oh, and Cindy, I don't need you to take care of my child. My wife and I, who are happily married and spend time with our child everyday, can handle things just fine.

This, of course, is in my humble opinion.

What's up with Burger King's marketing?

It's been downhill since Burger King introduced their creepy King in the morning commercials. They had a definite homosexual undertone with the King waking up in bed next to some guy. It gave me nightmares. Now the marketing geniuses have the hellish heavy metal band Coq Roq representing all that's wrong in television advertising.

This, of course, is in my humble opinion.

STOP! READ THIS!

The people we often see at redlights holding cardboard signs that may read, "Homeless. Please help." or something similar may be terrorists! Whatever you do, DON'T give them money. You could be contributing to another attack on U.S. soil!

I joke and, of course, this is in my humble opinion.

Robertson-Sheehan in 2008!

Here's a bit of advice for Pat Robertson, "it's best to appear stupid than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt." The hero of Christian America and former president candidate says that the United States should "take out" Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

"If he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it," Robertson told viewers on his 'The 700 Club' show Monday. "It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war." Adding that Chavez is using Venezuela as "a launching pad for Communist infiltration and Muslim extremism all over the continent."

"Our god is going to kick your god's ass!," is basically what Pat is saying. Maybe Pat should have been named our representative to the United Nations.

When writing about these times, historians of the future will reference the Crusades begun in the 11th century when discussing the Christian vs. Muslim conflicts of today. A look through history shows many conflicts originated for one religious reason or another. It's the same for today's conflicts. It's ridiculous in invoke God or any other deity as a force of violence against someone or something.

American involvement in Iraq was inevitable and is something begun a long time ago before presidents Bush or Clinton were even born.

This, of course, is in my humble opinion.

Monday, August 22, 2005

A Multitude of Amendments, Alterations and Additions

I don't expect Iraq to get its constitution completed and approved by all in a few short months or for it to go smoothly. The following text, adapted from the National Park Service, details how it took nearly five years for a group of men to meet, develop, refine and ratify the Constitution of the United States of America. It wasn't that easy for us.
(In September 1786) the delegates (met) to discuss the lack of uniform trade regulations under the Articles of Confederation. These delegates passed a resolution "to devise such other provisions as shall appear to them necessary to render the constitution of the Federal Government adequate to the exigencies of the Union ... On Friday, 25 May 1787, the Federal Convention convened ... The Convention was scheduled to commence on the 14 May, but only delegates from Virginia and Pennsylvania were present on that day and the opening was postponed until 25 May ... The delegates to the Federal Convention were sent to the State House to redress the deficiencies of the then current government under the Articles of Confederation. Many of the delegates maintained that a strong national government was needed to replace the weak central government that existed under the Articles ... On Tuesday, 29 May, the Convention (was presented with) fifteen resolutions recommending changes to the government, commonly referred to as the Randolph Resolutions but formally titled the Virginia Plan ... For the following two weeks, the convention met in a Committee of the Whole house reviewing and modifying the Virginia Plan ... On 13 June, the amended Virginia Plan was presented to the delegates in Convention. The resulting fifteen resolutions contained in the Virginia Plan outlined the structure and powers of all three branches of government ... On 29 May, in addition to the Virginia Plan, the Convention received a draft of a federal government written by Charles Pinckney of South Carolina ... In convention on 14 June, William Paterson of New Jersey asked for a one-day adjournment ... to complete their plan of government distinguished from the proposed Virginia Plan. On the following day, the Paterson Resolutions or New Jersey Plan were laid before the convention ... On 18 June, Alexander Hamilton rose to make a lengthy speech to the Convention that outlined his views on a plan for government and suggested amendments to the Virginia Plan. Although Hamilton's ideas were not formally considered in Convention, several of the delegates made notes of his four to five hour discourse. The following day, the delegates voted seven to three rejecting the New Jersey Plan in favor of the Virginia Plan. The rejection of the New Jersey Plan did not quiet the efforts of the small states. In convention over the next month, the fifteen resolutions defined in the Virginia Plan were taken up one at a time. With the adoption of the Great Compromise on 16 July, the small states achieved an equal vote in one branch of the legislature. Consideration of the original fifteen resolutions contained in the Virginia Plan concluded on 26 July. The same day, a five-man Committee of Detail was chosen to prepare a report using the modified Virginia Plan consisting of twenty-three resolutions, the Pinckney Plan and the New Jersey Plan ... The Convention adjourned until August 6th, when the Committee of Detail would submit their report, which would ultimately be used as a guide for the final draft of the Constitution ... On Monday 6 August, John Rutledge handed each of the delegates present at the Convention a printed copy of the committee's report ... The draft Constitution appears in twenty-three sections numbered with roman numerals. A motion was made to adjourn until Wednesday, to provide delegates with time to thoroughly examine the report. The motion was defeated, the delegates adjourned for the day and reassembled the next morning. The report by the Committee of Detail was followed by arduous debate and compromise that ended on Saturday, 8 September with the appointment of a Committee of Style and Arrangement ... the Committee of Style's five members were chosen by ballot to "revise the stile of and arrange the articles which had been agreed to by the House" ... Committee member William Samuel Johnson presented a report of the Committee of Style to the Convention on 12 September ... The next day, the delegates were presented a four-page printed broadside of the draft Constitution ... After all the sections of the Committee's plan had been debated and agreed upon, the final text of the Constitution was ordered to be engrossed on 15 September 1787 ... The engrossed copy, prepared by Jacob Sallus, assistant clerk of the Pennsylvania Assembly, was read in Convention ... On 20 September ... Jackson read the Constitution before Congress.

Note 1: This text of the Constitution follows the engrossed copy signed by Gen. Washington and the deputies from 12 States. The small superior figures preceding the paragraphs designate Clauses, and were not in the original and have no reference to footnotes.

The Constitution was adopted by a convention of the States on September 17, 1787, and was subsequently ratified by the several States, on the following dates: Delaware, December 7, 1787; Pennsylvania, December 12, 1787; New Jersey, December 18, 1787; Georgia, January 2, 1788; Connecticut, January 9, 1788; Massachusetts, February 6, 1788; Maryland, April 28, 1788; South Carolina, May 23, 1788; New Hampshire, June 21, 1788.

Ratification was completed on June 21, 1788.

The Constitution was subsequently ratified by Virginia, June 25, 1788; New York, July 26, 1788; North Carolina, November 21, 1789; Rhode Island, May 29, 1790; and Vermont, January 10, 1791.

Rome United States wasn't built in a day

Historians look to Benjamin Franklin's Albany Plan of Union as this country's first attempt in developing a union of the colonies. A review of Franklin's plan reveals its impact on the Constitution adopted some 30 years later. Several vital events happened over the following years to shape colonial revolutionary actions. These included, but aren't limited to, the First Continental Congress and the declaration of colonial rights, the Articles of Association which detailed colonial grievances against the British Empire, the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, Thomas Paine's Common Sense, the Second Continental Congress and the declaration of taking up arms, and — of course — the Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America. Again, this was over a 30 year span.

It took more than a few years for us to develop our own identity. It'll take Iraq time to develop its own as well.

Apparently she's somebody famous?

I must have heard one of her songs somewhere? Joan Baez ... hmmmm ... is she one of the Dixie Chicks?

For some reason she's "newsworthy" because she's squatting in some Texas ditch with Cindy Sheehan.

Pat's Age-Defying Shake

Televangelist and former presidential candidate Pat Robertson is touting his diet drink, "Pat's Age-Defying Shake," on his TV show and it's got the watchdogs upset. Wait until they get a load of his next endorsement, "Pat's Holy Water Colonic Cocktail."

This, of course, is in my humble opinion.

I'm gonna be so rich!

FROM: MR.LEE WONG CHOW
BILLS AND EXCHANGE MANAGER
WING HANG BANK LTD.
Stubbs Road Branch, Ground Floor, AIA Building
1 Stubbs Road
Wan Chai, Hong Kong

DATE:August 23rd, 2005

PRIVATE AND URGENT.

I am the Manager, bills and exchange at the foreign remittance department of the wing Hang Bank Ltd here in the Wan Chai-Hong Kong. I am contacting you for private business project of a huge sum of money from a deceased account. Though I know that a transaction of this magnitude will make any one apprehensive and worried, but everything has been taken care off, I decided to do this rather than allow the Bank Directors to share this money amongst themselves at the end of the 5th year.

I decided to contact you due to the urgency of this transaction. A chain of events have led to my making you this offer, and these events, I believe very strongly, are not just coincidental. In June of 1999, when I was the operations Manager of this Bank, a certain foreign individual named Mr. Raymond Beck made a time (Fixed) Deposit for twelve calendar month valued at US$12,000,000.00 (Twelve Million United States Dollars) in my Bank. Upon maturity, (twelve months later), the bank sent a routine notification to his forwarding address but we got no reply.

After a month, I took this issue up personally and sent another notification, this was also returned, and it was the third in a series. Finally I discovered that the depositor, Mr. Raymond died in an air crash along with his wife on the 31st October 2000 in an Egyptian airline 990 with other passengers on board. Since his death, none of his next-of-kin are alive to make claims for this money as his heir, because the only one we know, Mrs. Caryl Beck died in the same accident (May their souls rest in peace).

We cannot release the fund from his account unless someone applies for claim as the next-of-kin to the deceased as indicated in our banking guidelines. Upon this discovery, I now seek your permission to have you stand as a next of kin to the deceased, as all documentations will be carefully worked out by me for the funds to be released in your favuor as the beneficiary's next of kin because after five years the money will be called back to the bank treasury as unclaimed bills and the money will be stolen and shares amongst the directors of the bank. So it is on this note I decided to seek for whose name shall be used as the next of kin/beneficiary to this funds rather than allow the Bank Directors to share this money amongst themselves at the end of the 5th year.

I have not revealed this to anyone until now and the sum and the interest being rolled over with the principal sum at the end of each year at the rate of 19% per annum and as at the last value of investment on maturity, it was US$20,160,176.00 (Twenty Million, One hundred and sixty thousand, One hundred and seventy six United States Dollars). With the very strong feeling that no one will ever come forward to claim the funds, the need for a foreign assistance becomes crucial as a next of kin to the depositor is earnestly being searched for and I cannot acquire the funds in my name.

I have already developed a foolproof, legal and totally risk free transaction through which the fund can be transferred to your nominated bank account through our correspondent bank within a very short time after due documentation and authentication process. The strategy is to use my position and influence as the Bank Manager to present you as a next of Kin and beneficiary of the funds as I shall arrange all documentation to support this claim and I shall grant approval for the transfer of the funds into your nominated Bank account through our correspondent bank.

The required assistance is perfected to be 100% risk free and I want to assure you that I have concluded all local modalities for the successful completion of this transaction within 10 banking days from your approval.

I expect your urgent response via my email address so I can advice you on what we need to do to have the funds transferred to your local account through our correspondent bank as all funds transfers of the magnitude of the one in question can only by done through our correspondent bank, except the requirements for a direct transfer of the funds to your local account are met.

Best Regards,
Mr. Lee Chow

Response Email: leechow6@uymail.com

We're not doing any good in Iraq!

While the media, Cindy Sheehan and the minority protestors want us to know only the bad about our involvement in Iraq, there are still a few highlights. Perhaps Americans have it too good and therefore take for granted such things as air conditioning, comfortable beds, clothing, comfortable housing and drinkable water. The people of Iraq do not have American luxuries. Take for instance the recent upgrade to the Iraqi water systems.

About $3 million is budgeted to bring treated potable water to approximately 25,000 Iraqi citizens in the Dahuk, Babylon, and Wassit governorates. The projects will upgrade 15 systems each, including water wells, compact potable water treatment plants and pumps. The contracts were competed and awarded to local Iraqi contractors, with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers providing quality assurance oversight. Each of the 15 sites will daily employ approximately 20 Iraqi laborers. The work will also train local operators on site in the technology and maintenance of the water systems. Completion dates for the 15 projects vary, but all are scheduled to be finished by January 2006.

Has ABC or Fox news told you about this?

I don't dispute that we ended up in Iraq for a vast number of complicated issues which we may never completely understand. Despite what we're led to believe, there is some good coming out of our involvement. American soldiers were not directly involved with the events described in the following article, but would the Iraqi soldiers have responded the same way if Saddam had been in power? I doubt it.
Iraqi soldiers aided in the escape of a young man Aug. 10 after he was kidnapped by terrorists in the Mansour district of Baghdad. Emad was playing soccer with some friends, when five armed and masked men grabbed him and shoved him into a black Daewoo Prince. The vehicle drove off, and headed west until the terrorists arrived in a Ghazaliyah neighborhood.

Just as the men tried again to shove Emad into the taxi, the Iraqi Army soldiers drove around the corner and witnessed him break free from one of the terrorists, only to have the other shove him to the ground. As the soldiers approached, the terrorists jumped into the taxi and sped away.

Capt. Randy Green from Bossier City, La., with Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 156th Armor Regiment and senior advisor to the Iraqi Army, said this was another example of how soldiers of the Iraqi Army continued to be in the right place at the right time.

"If the soldiers were not alert and responsive while performing their everyday patrol duties, they would never have caught on to this situation, and Emad would not be home with his family right now."

What the media won't tell you ...

WASHINGTON, Aug. 20, 2005 – The rebuilding effort continues in Iraq, and coalition military officials here today provided a summary of the past week's progress.
  • Children in a village of Tamim province received school supplies, clothing and toys from the Nahrain Foundation, a nongovernmental organization that focuses on providing proper nutrition, decent clothing and medical supplies to Iraqi women and children. The foundation received its supplies as part of a joint effort between American donations and a coalition forces-run program known as "Operation Provide School Supplies," which accepts donations from private citizens and corporations in the United States.
  • More than 600 children will return to renovated or rebuilt schools in Maysan province when school starts this fall. This week, renovation on the Al-Eethnar Mud School was completed, and the Al Eethar Mud School was replaced at a cost of $87,000, benefiting 500 students who attend classes there.
  • Eight newly built schools in Wassit and Babil provinces are receiving new furniture before the start of the school year. Each of the school projects will receive office desks and chairs, file cabinets and new student desks. Collectively, 400 three-student desks will be proportionally divided among the schools, based upon the number of students.
  • More reconstruction projects in Sadr City started this week, including a $13 million electrical distribution project. When the project is complete, an estimated 128,000 more people will have a reliable source of electricity. The project includes installation of power lines, 3,040 power poles, 80 transformers, 2,400 street lights, and power connections to individual homes, complete with meters.
  • Construction started on the $3.8 million Al Rayash Electricity Substation project in the Al Daur district of Salah Ad Din.

Is this really a national news story?

Outside of Natalee Holloway's circle of family and friends, who really cares that Wednesday was going to be her first day of college classes? Hundreds of children and teenagers go missing everyday. How many of those have a more worthy story of telling? The news coverage is almost as ridiculous as that of Cindy Sheehan. Of course, how guilty am I by contributing to the foray of rhetoric?

This, of course, is in my humble opinion.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Patriotism

George F. Will's 8/18/05 editorial was on minor league baseball, specifically the Sally — South Atlantic — League and the Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park in Charleston, SC.

He writes,
The (Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park) is almost in the backyard of The Citadel, a military school, and on game nights the patriotism is as warm as the beer is cold. Just before the first pitch on a recent evening, the teenager selling hot dogs and sodas at a concession stand out on the concourse behind the seats suddenly said, politely but firmly: "One moment, please." Turning his back to the line of waiting customers, he took off his cap and faced the brick wall at the back of the stand, in the direction of the flagpole in center field. He stood ramrod straight with his hand over his heart while the National Anthem was sung. Even people in The Joe's parking lot come to attention when they faintly hear the distant sound of "Oh, say can you see ..."
This, in my humble opinion, is how it should be for all Americans.

Which is it: political or not?

In a Kennebec Journal article, Terry Rodgers tells about his experience in Iraq and why he turned down a visit from Pres. Bush while recuperating from injuries sustained in the war. The article states that "he signed up in October 2002, but he didn't go into the Army until the following July. In between, the United States invaded Iraq, but Terry claims, 'I didn't have a political view. I'm not into politics.'" He did have a political view though though once he realized his military paycheck depended on him actually doing his job.
"I don't want anything to do with (Pres. Bush)," he explains. "My belief is that his ego is getting people killed and mutilated for no reason -- just his ego and his reputation. If we really wanted to, we could pull out of Iraq. Maybe not completely, but enough that we wouldn't be losing people -- at least not at this rate. So I think he himself is responsible for quite a few American deaths."

"It's gonna go on as long as we're there," he says. "There's always gonna be insurgents trying to blow us up. There's just too many of 'em that are willing to do it. You're never gonna catch all of 'em. And it seems like they have unlimited amounts of ammunition. So I don't think it's ever gonna end."
Seems to me that his statements hold a strong political view now. Maybe Rumsfeld and Bush should take the advice of this young sage of political wisdom.

This, of course, is in my humble opinion.

Hate Courtney Love

The never-was Courtney Love is off to rehab. Once released, I expect to see her on the Surreal Life.

This, of course, is in my humble opinion.

A beautiful grey-headed old lady

Barbara Bush has a beautiful mind and doesn't want to waste it on something like the Iraqi war.

To protect her beautiful mind from malnourishment, I'd recommend the latest KFC special.

Wood chippers ... not just for children anymore

The next time you need to euthanize poultry or any other animal, the American Veterinary Medical Association prefers you not using a wood chipper.

A message from Cindy Sheehan

Some more rhetoric (with my comments in italics) from Michael Moore Cindy Sheehan. I've removed some of her original message to save space.

"Saturday, August 20th, 2005
The Peaceful Occupation of Crawford (Day 14); Hypocrites and liars

-- a message from Cindy Sheehan

I haven't had much time to analyze the Camp Casey phenomena. I just read that I gave 250 interviews in less than a week's time. I believe it. I would go to bed with a raw throat every night. I got pretty tired of answering some questions, like: 'What do you want to say to the President?' and 'Do you really think he will meet with you?' However, since my mom has been sick, I have had a chance to step back and ponder the flood gates that I opened in Crawford, TX.
More self-centered alnguage from Cindy. So far no mention of her son, Casey.
I just read an article ... by artist Robert Shetterly ... The article reminded me of something I said at the Veterans for Peace Convention the night before I set out to Bush's ranch in my probable futile quest for the truth. This is what I said:

"I got an email the other day and it said, 'Cindy if you didn't use so much profanity. there's people on the fence that get offended.'

'And you know what I said? 'You know what? You know what, god damn it? How in the world is anybody still sitting on that fence'

'If you fall on the side that is pro-George and pro-war, you get your ass over to Iraq, and take the place of somebody who wants to come home. And if you fall on the side that is against this war and against George Bush, stand up and speak out.'
Someone can be pro-George and not be pro-war. The last I heard the armed forces were still a voluntary enlistment. If a recruit was foolish enough to not realize the possibility of seeing combat, then that's an issue of ignorance on their part.

One thing I haven't noticed or become aware of though is an increased number of pro-war, pro-Bush people on the other side of the fence enlisting to go and fight George Bush's war for imperialism and insatiable greed. The pro-peace side has gotten off their apathetic butts to be warriors for peace and justice. Where are the pro-war people? Everyday at Camp Casey we have a couple of anti-peace people on the other side of the road holding up signs that remind me that 'Freedom isn't Free' but I don't see them putting their money where their mouths are. I don't think they are willing to pay even a small down payment for freedom by sacrificing their own blood or the flesh of their children. I still challenge them to go to Iraq and let another soldier come home. Perhaps a soldier that is on his/her third tour of duty, or one that has been stop-lossed after serving his/her country nobly and selflessly, only to be held hostage in Iraq by power mad hypocrites who have a long history of avoiding putting their own skin in the game.
Still nothing on Casey. I would hope that no one is "pro-war", but all are "pro-peace". I'm sure Cindy won't see an increase of anti-Camp Crawford protesters because most of us are working for a living and contributing to the economy as opposed to her clan of hopeless. The rhetoric continues with the assumption that anyone not against the war is "anti-peace". Maybe, her group isn't "pro-peace" but is "anti-employment" or "pro-bullshit". And, what are they doing to get into Iraq and take the place of these volunteer soldiers they so dearly care about? Many WWII soldiers had tours of duty that lasted from America's first day of involvement in Europe through VE and were then sent to the Asian front and didn't leave until after VJ. Listening to those men retell their stories today is what makes me proud to be an American. Did they want to be there? Hell no. Did they complain while they were there? Hell yes. On top of it all, many were drafted and thus forced to fight. Americans protested the war then as they do now. It's believed that Roosevelt knew of the Pearl Harbor attack well in advance, but chose not to act because he wanted the United States involved. There were protests of colonialism, imperlialism and the like. Mothers lost children then as now. They missed this sons and daughters then as now. Do you want to help get these men and women home safely, Cindy? Then use the example of the WWII mothers and work for the companies who make the armor for our soldiers. Be today's "Rosie the Riveter". Help protect them while they're there. Right now, Cindy, you're doing more harm than good.

Camp Casey has grown and prospered and survived all attacks and challenges because America is sick and tired of liars and hypocrites and we want the answers to the tough questions that I was the first to dare ask.
If America is sick and tired, then how come less than 1% of the population (by my estimates) is protesting the war? Oh, and still no mention of Casey.

This, of course, is in my humble opinion.