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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Venezuelan President Offers Aid For Katrina Victims

This Post is also available at The Blogger News Network

No sooner does Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez make an overture of alleged peace and help toward his fellow man do the pundits begin railing against the man. On the radio today I heard all sorts of things like how this is Chavez using the hurricane for political opportunism and how this is all a ploy to make the big bad US look bad and yadda yadda yadda. The talking heads added that we shouldn't do business, even in a crisis such as what's afflicted New Orleans, with a pro-Castro socialist like Hugo Chavez.

To this I say, have you met the Saudi Arabians yet?

Look, New Orleans is very quickly sinking off the map and any help, whether it's from Chavez, Castro or the Prince of Darkness himself, should be readily accepted no matter what the underlying reasons are. Hell, we should be happy that any country feels compelled to lend a hand at all.

I received some calls today and I also heard on various radio programs about how we shelled out tons of dough for the Tsunami victims of SE Asia and various other disasters, but the rest of the world would be less likely or incapable of returning the favor. Well folks, other than food and shelter for the displaced citizens of the Big Easy, we also need oil. I haven't heard a peep from the Saudi's or the Russians. I got nothing from our good friends to the South, Mexico. Why not accept the helping hand of Hugo Chavez? It wouldn't be the first time we slept with the enemy. Again, need I remind you doubters about our continued relations with the French, the aforementioned Saudi's and my personal favorite, the Red Chinese.

Let us not forget that we are eternally grateful to the Russians for forbidding their Eastern European satellite nations from accepting the Marshal Plan. Lord only knows what tempest would have been unleashed if we had been taken up on offer to rebuild the countries behind the Iron Curtain. Chavez would probably be delighted if we refuse his help. He'd get great publicity and it would cost him nothing.

Beyond the terrible aftermath of Katrina and its unforeseen repercussions, it's high time we began to reconcile with Venezuela anyway. The fact that Chavez is a pro-Castro socialist and a Latin American rabble-rousing nationalist just is simply not enough to try and dismiss him. This space has posted story after story about the business deals being conducted between Caracas, Moscow, Tehran and Beijing. Every regime we ignore we ultimately push into the waiting arms of those who seek to disarm the United States.

Chavez may be making a cynical gesture by offering aid, oil and eye surgery but so what? Call his bluff, that's what I say. Make him live up to those words and then let's reassess. At the end of the day, as long as we're still married to oil, I say let's not look a gift horse in the mouth, even a cynical one such as being offered by Hugo Chavez.

Here's the story:

Caracas, Venezuela (AHN) - Last week Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez was attacking the U.S. for comments from 700 Club President, Pat Robertson, about calling for an assassination of the leader; Tuesday Chavez is offering aid to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

"We place at the disposition of the people of the United States in the event of shortages we have drinking water, food, we can provide fuel," Chavez tells Associated Press.

Chavez says fuel can be sent to the United States through a Citgo refinery that has not been affected by the hurricane. Citgo is owned by Venezuela's state-owned oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela. He also offers to send aid workers to the gulf coast.

Chavez made an offer last week for discount gasoline to poor Americans suffering from high oil prices and offered free eye surgery for Americans without access to health care.

Chavez is heavily criticized for his socialist/communist ties in Latin America and has had negative relations with Washington for years.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Girls are Dumb

By John Brodigan

Over the course of the past week, I've found myself drawn into a certain conversation with different womens. It's the same conversation I've found myself a part of...pretty much since I first discovered girls. So, as a public service announcement, and hopefully for the last time, I'd like to give all the womens of the world the following piece of advice. To paraphrase something Brother James said...

If your man is not treating you good, then leave him, cause there's a better man out there who will.

Now, before y'all roll your eyes, hear me out. This isn't journal entry #24,423 on why girls don't like me and only go for jerks. I haven't been that guy since...ok, so I am that guy, but it still isn't that. It just honestly boggles my mind how girls will stay with guys who, if they don't flat out treat them like shit, don't treat them the way they deserve to be treated...or even want to be treated.

And I mean smart womens with actual personalities. If some pop tart or MySpace whore plays the "don't ask me, I'm just a girl" role...whatever. You can't expect people to respect you if you don't respect yourself. I mean girls along the lines of Rachel McAdams character in "Wedding Crashers." She's smart, funny, stunningly beautiful...yet with a guy who is a complete and utter tool. She meets a nice guy that she finds herself falling for, yet still plans of marrying the tool...even though she herself admittedly doesn't know why. Yeah, I know it's a movie, but tell me you haven't known someone similar.

The real mind boggling thing is that, when you question her why she puts up with the guys bullshit, she can't even give you and answer. She wants the flowers and the romance, settles for minimal effort (if any at all), and can't for the life of either one of you explain why. Is it a self esteem issue so many females seem to unfortunately have? Is a relationship the only way they can define themselves? Or is it a society that is all too quick to value sex over self respect?

I don't know where I'm going with this, and I can talk until there's a functional government in Iraq for all the good it's going to do. A week or two will go by, and someone else will be upset because some random boy isn't doing right by her. If that person is you, as a favour to me, ask yourself this question:

If he's not willing to put the time and effort in, why are you wasting yours?

Don't have an answer? Then he's not worth it.

Greenspan: End of home boom inevitable

This Post is also available at The Blogger News Network

This may be the most honest thing this man has uttered since becoming Federal Reserve Chairman 18 years ago (gosh, has it really been that long?). This is simple mathematics. It is no secret that the cost of living is skyrocketing (see the current oil debacle) while wages are decreasing. Everywhere you look more neighborhoods worth living in are being over-developed and gentrified so much that the average American simply cannot afford to live a moderate, middle-income life.

Many people my age (I'm 29) are either still living with their parents or are shacking up with their respective others out of sheer economics rather than actual desire. In order to pay for housing, transportation, food and clothing (without going insane on any of the above items) one has to have wages well over 35K or it becomes impossible to make ends meet. On the flip side of that, suppose you can scrape together a living that at least meets your basic needs, in order for the economy to grow and flourish, consumerism must expand exponentially. Simply put, we gots to buy stuff. It's Pet Rock-uber alles or bust!

Now when you take falling wages, shortages of jobs (no matter what Rush Limbaugh is telling you), and combine them with the rising cost of needs based resources such as housing, you can easily see where all of this going. The bubble is going to burst because reality cannot perpetrate a fraud forever. You cannot raise the cost of a needs based resource like housing so high that the average consumer cannot afford them. At some point the law of supply and demand must take effect and correct the marketplace.

This is what happened with the Internet bubble. People kept dumping oodles of cash into a market, which only served to inflate its worth. The problem was that adequate consumer spending did not back it. The demand was simply not there. At the peak of the Internet boom, the average consumer still thought Amazon was a B-grade schlock skin movie you might see on Cinemax at three in the morning. The average consumer still likes to actually go to the store and feel the item they were purchasing. Sure Internet sales have increased since then but the malls aren't exactly empty either. My point is that this market was inflated well beyond the consumer’s ability or willingness to support it.

That takes us back to housing. If we cannot afford to buy the house, we won't. When the market has too many unbought expensive (or relatively inexpensive for that matter) houses then the whole kitten caboodle will come crashing down. Not to mention that interest rates, as low as they are now, cannot stay this low forever. Markets fluctuate all the time. What comes up must go down. As long as this administration continues to push an agenda of corporate feudalism, there will never be enough consumers to support the rising housing markets.

One last item on this before I cite the article that spawned this rant. One of the other reasons that the Internet bubbled and then busted was that the much-ballyhooed Dot Com stocks were traded so fast and so furiously that they never developed any real value. It was all fake value dependant on the rate of trading. The same thing is happening in the housing market. People are buying houses and quickly turning them over for a fast profit. For the time being that's fine and dandy for those actively trading in the housing market but for the rest of us whom have our lives invested in the home we live in (like my fiancé), when the housing bubble does indeed burst, it will dramatically effect the value of the homes we live in now. After the inevitable bust, we will be shelling out ridiculous sums of money for relatively worthless property. Sure, those that got out early and already turned over their houses won't be affected but the rest of the country will most likely fall into at least a recession if not a depression altogether.

But don't just take my word for it, here's Cheaty McStealsurmoney, Mr. Alan Greenspan:

U.S. home prices could fall as the housing boom "inevitably" slows, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said on Saturday as he cast doubt on central banks' ability to sway such asset values.

Greenspan offered the warning about the U.S. housing market in concluding remarks to an annual Kansas City Fed symposium, his last as Fed chairman and one focused this year on a retrospective of his 18-year tenure.

In unusually explicit terms, the central bank chief gave his reading of challenges he sees facing his still-unknown successor and laid out his own views on issues such as inflation targeting, fiscal policy and economic imbalances.

"The housing boom will inevitably simmer down," Greenspan said in the prepared remarks. "As part of that process, house turnover will decline from currently historic levels, while home price increases will slow and prices could even decrease."

Greenspan said while he expects continuing debate over whether the Fed could and should use its power over interest rates to try to influence prices for assets such as stocks and homes, he did not think it was feasible to do so.

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Monday, August 29, 2005

Hit on New Orleans would likely cause gas prices to soar

First and foremost, prayers to the residents of New Orleans, greater Mississippi and Southern Alabama. May God spare you and your loved ones from this impending disaster.

A few weeks back I saw a movie on FX called "Oil Storm." It was shot in documentary style and the premise of it was that a hurricane hit NOLA, thrashing all of the Gulf offshore oil riggs. This starts the US on a course toward disaster because the price of oil skyrockets well out of the means of most average Americans. We then ink a deal with the Saudi's to increase oil imports, which causes a terrorist attack by Al Qaeda. We then send troops to secure Saudi oil fields and then they get attacked. Long story short, the US nearly goes to pieces, all because oil prices have become catastropically high. This of course was a fictional story based on the real possibility of a hurricane wrecking the Gulf oil digging facilities.

Truth is stranger than fiction. In the 4 times I've been to NOLA, I've heard each time that a good size hurricane (category 5) will most likely end the Big Easy. As if it were God's cruel joke, that day has come. I don't know if it's because of the inevitable cost in human lives or my own sentimental attachment to the city that has meant so much to my friends and fiance or if it's just the new contacts in my eyes but everytime I think about what Katrina will do to the city I love, I want to bawl my eyes out.

Don't get me wrong, my primary concern is the welfare of the residents that lie in the path of Katrina's destruction. But, to paraphrase Morgan Freeman from the movie, Deep Impact, "Tomorrow the waters will recede and we will rebuild." When this is over we as global citizens will have to come face to face with some very real and very dire circumstances. Because of zealous corporatism, lack of education and organization on the part of average Americans and plain old shortsighted greed, we in America are not prepared to deal with any significant change in our oil dependant economy. Prepare for the coming Oil Storm in the wake of Katrina.

Here's one story:

New Orleans stood dead in the path of Hurricane Katrina, but the entire nation will feel the brunt of the powerful storm if oil and gas operations in the Gulf get whacked.

Roughly 30 percent of the oil and gas consumed in the United States flows along pipelines or is hauled in on tankers and barges in the Gulf Coast.

A major hit would disrupt fuel shipments and send prices soaring even higher right before the Labor Day holiday, when more than 34 million Americans are projected to hit the road.

Gas prices already are up an average 83 cents a gallon this year. Analysts predict that fears of a Katrina shortage could drive crude oil prices, which traded at around $66 a barrel on Friday, to as high as $70 this week. Every additional $1 per barrel translates into more than 2 cents in the price of a gallon of gasoline.

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Friday, August 26, 2005

God Denies Links to Pat Robertson

WASHINGTON, DC—God denied having any links to conservative Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson yesterday after He received reports that Mr. Robertson had called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Sources close to the Higher Being say that He is "tired" of Mr. Robertson and wants him to stop using His name.

This is not the first time that God has apparently been displeased by remarks that Mr. Robertson has made in his telecasts. He is said to have been very unhappy about a request Mr. Robertson made to Him last year, asking that He remove three Supreme Court Justices so that they could be replaced by conservatives. Mr. Robertson suggested that God put in the minds of the three oldest judges that it might be time to retire.

"Frankly He’s a little bit tired of this guy and thinks his shtick is getting really old," says a source who works closely with the Higher Being. The source notes that God has even contacted a lawyer about sending Mr. Robertson a "cease and desist" letter, demanding that the conservative broadcaster stop using His name on the 700 Club, in speeches and in other correspondence.

Clock here for more...

New Review: The Myth of Hitler's Pope

ExampleThe following is a brief excerpt from a review posted on PopandPolitics.com:

When one mentions World War II, most people think of the Holocaust because of its monumental impact on the lives of millions of people. And if one were to play a word association game with the Holocaust, people would probably offer responses such as Jews, Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, and gas chambers.
What people might not offer as a response or even think about are the actions of the Catholic Church in respect to that tragic event. They certainly wouldn’t offer as a typical response the Holy See of that era, Pope Pius XII -- sometimes referred to as Hitler’s Pope.

Rabbi David G. Dalin has written an interesting book which concerns the life of Pope Pius XII and his hotly debated role in the attempted genocide of Europe’s Jews. “The Myth of Hitler’s Pope: How Pope Pius XII Rescued Jews from the Nazis” (Regnery Publishing), lays out two parallel arguments. The main thesis is that Pope Pius XII, born Eugenio Pacelli, condemned Nazism, Hitler, and anti-Semitism at large. This runs counter to many critics who charge that Pius condoned HItler and was a Nazi sympathizer. The second argument is broader and puts forth the reasoning that throughout history, the papacy has been a friend to the Jews when the world persecuted and murdered them.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Don't Wanna be an American Idiot

By John Brodigan

I generally hate it when artists today mix music with politics. Everyone assumes it has to do with the specific politics, what with me leaning right and everyone in the entertainment industry leaning left. My problem isn't that the artists and I prefer different flavours of Kool Aid. It's that the music they're making sucks. It's terrible.

Don't get me wrong. Some of the greatest songs ever written were in fact politically motivated. The 60's and 70's had timeless classics like "Blowing in the Wind," "Ohio," "Fortunate Son," and one of my all time favs, Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come." Our generation? We get timely crap like "Beautiful Occupation," "BYOB," that gay Beastie Boys song...and The Rolling Stones?

There's such a rush to wow us with how they execute their First Amendment rights and say "look at me; I'm speaking out against the (place world leader here)," no one bothers taking time to actually say or create anything worth listening to (which in the case of the Stones, they haven't done since before most of us were born). It's just three minutes and thirty three seconds of "No Blood for Oil" or "They Hate Us for our Freedom" set to a snazzy beat.

Green Day, on the other hand, took the time. The result is American Idiot, easily one of the Top 5 albums of the decade. It's a "concept album," an album where all the songs combined tell a single story, in the vein of The Who's Tommy and Quadrophenia.

I know what you're thinking. "Green Day? American Idiot? Gee John; I wonder who they're talking about?" Obviously there's one man who comes to mind right away, and if he doesn't, he will when you hear the line, "I'm not part of the redneck agenda." The overall political message is clear by the time the Representative from California takes the floor in "Holiday."

But once you either chuckle or roll your eyes (I chuckled while rolling my eyes), look closer. The story isn't about one person being the "American Idiot." It's about how we're all the "American Idiot." It's the people that know who Tom Cruise is, but not Dick Cheney. It's the bartender my friend met who, in October of 2004, had never heard of John Kerry or John Edwards (think aboot it). It's the 53% of the population who whine about gas prices while driving gas guzzling SUV's.

It's the people who honestly think that Saddam Hussein attacked us on 9/11. The most appalling thing? Some of those people live in New York.

The album is a call to arms for people to, quite simply, wake up. Yes, I'm sure the band would like you to wake up and see things their way. I'm sure someone who prefers the cherry flavoured Kool-aid would prefer you waking up and seeing things their way. Me? I'd be satisfied if people simply woke up.

Don't get me wrong. If I sound pious, I don't mean to. I never cared about what was going on in the world when I was a wee youngling either. But the world's a lot more dangerous then it was when I was growing up, and more dangerous people are looking to take advantage of that. There's a lot I don't know. There's a lot I don't understand. There's a lot I should care more about than I actually do. But I'm trying.

Green Day's "American Idiot" wants you to try too.

The Danger of Yellow Ribbon Patriotism

By John Brodigan

Baring any majour developments, this is going to be the last I say on Iraq. I'm running out of eloquent ways of saying that this country needs to shit or get off the pot, and no one reads them anyway. As soon as people see the word "Iraq" they already have a pre-conceived opinion, and instead of reading what you have to say they just look for an opening to attack.

If I say nine negative things about the President, I'll get attacked for the one time I don't. If I say nine negative things about protesters, I'll get attacked for the one time I don't. Agree with the war and you're a blind patriotic warmonger. Disagree and you hate America. Liberal or Conservative. Red state or blue state. I'm one guy trying to figure out what's right and what's wrong, in a country that only seems to care about who's right and who's wrong. And I've just simply had enough.

Anyway, Time had a great editorial called "The Danger of Yellow Ribbon Patriotism." I highly suggest reading the whole thing, but here are some excerpts:

...The military is frustrated by both the mission and the sense that the war isn't front and center for the rest of the country. There is a fair amount of anger among the returning troops, especially the noncareer soldiers, the National Guard and reservists whose tours were extended and then extended again

...They echoed a question that the battalion commander who had lost five of his lieutenants had asked me. "Why hasn't the President issued a national call to service? I don't mean a draft," he said. "But if the President called on people to serve, they would. And not just in the military. My mother mentioned this the other day: 'Why aren't there the war-bond drives we had in World War II? Why aren't we being asked to collect clothing for the children of Iraq?'

...There's no coffin, just the inverted rifle, boots and helmet of the fallen. We call the roll, up to the name of the missing trooper. We call his name: Specialist Doe. Then a second time: Specialist John Doe. A third time: Specialist John R. Doe. And then taps is played. It really gets to you. It's an important emotional experience for the troops. It closes the door and enables you to move on.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Big News in China

There are two stories of interest coming out of China this week, so far. The first one comes out of the New York Times and states that, “China's biggest state-owned oil company, the China National Petroleum Corporation, announced on Monday that it would pay $4.18 billion for a Canadian oil company with shares traded in New York and substantial reserves in Kazakhstan.

It is China's largest foreign acquisition yet, and more than twice what a Chinese computer company paid for I.B.M.'s personal computer business.

China National Petroleum outbid India's state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation in reaching a deal to acquire PetroKazakhstan, and it is not clear whether the Indian company will step up with a counterbid. Still, the process underlines the growing competition for oil resources by the world's two most populous countries, each of which is rapidly increasing oil imports.”

The other story, which has been percolating for a few days now concerns the first ever joint war games between Beijing and Moscow. This is from Chinadaily.com, “Their military drills, an exercise for the suppression of hypothetical ethnic conflict in an imaginary restive Central Asian country, signifies a new Russian-Chinese cooperation that could direct the shape of regional tension and disagreement in the future. The military drills mark a new friendly phase in a bilateral relationship that has often been characterized by open hostility.

The war games map out possible responses to an imaginary state engulfed in a wave of violence fuelled by ethnic and religious strife. Under great fanfare, they have repeated the urgency to ``fight against international terrorism, separatism and extremism’ in statements aimed at Taiwan and Chechnya.”

Normally I’d be bemoaning all of this and calling for our government to be vigilant against a clearly growing threat in the world. Not today my friends, not today. If this administration has taught me anything it’s that left to our devices we cannot be trusted to do the right things in the world for the right reasons. Like in most cases, we’re at our best when we’re threatened with our entire world collapsing around us.

If competition is what drives the marketplace then said marketplace is very soon going to go into overdrive. Let's face facts here, China is a megalith that isn't going anywhere and can only get bigger. Some analysts have it that China's economy will eventually out produce more than the US'. That'd be some feat wouldn’t it?

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Friday, August 19, 2005

New Review: Lipstick Jihad

ExampleThe following is a brief excerpt from a review posted on PopandPolitics.com:

One of the many casualties in the “War on Terror” has been the dehumanization of our Arab/Muslim/Middle Eastern brothers and sisters. From 9/11 on, the enemy has been categorically identified as Middle Eastern, and anyone who fits that description has also had to defend themselves against being draped with the albatross of “terrorist.”

Somewhere amidst the “Axis of Evil” rhetoric, many people seemed to forget that outside of the mullahs, Wahhabis, and other assorted jihadis, those who live in the Middle East are people just like us Westerners, with the same wants, needs, imperfections and rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

“Lipstick Jihad: A Memoir of Growing up Iranian in America and American in Iran,” by former Time Magazine Middle East reporter, Azadeh Moaveni, is a rare jewel that very much humanizes the aforementioned Middle Eastern people. The book is made up of equal parts memoir of Moaveni’s life both in America and in Iran, and equal parts social history of modern post-Islamic Revolution Iran. Along the way Moaveni not only introduces the reader to the finer points of modern Iran, but also introduces us to her family and friends through amusing anecdotes and poignant observations.

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Thursday, August 18, 2005

Venezuela threatens to cut off oil exports to US

This Post is also available at The Blogger News Network

If you thought $2.50/gallon for the cheap stuff was bad, wait until you see what happens if Chavez makes good on his threat to cut off oil exports to the US and instead diverts oil exports to our good friends in Beijing. Let me say this, as much as I'm no fan of the Democrats on both foreign policy and social issues, I'm willing to say right now that I will vote for any person (including Hillary, God help me) that throws the entire weight of the federal government behind alternative fuel sources for transportation and tax incentives for the creation of more, cheaper, hybrid cars.

Do you hear me Washington? I'm now a one issue voter. Anyone whom is sincere in fixing the damn energy problem in the country without being completely beholden to "Big Oil" gets my vote. Now I don't think anyone will actually do it but since I keep getting called out for holding the Republicans water, let me reiterate my position here and now. I think that especially when it comes to our energy and border policies, the Bush administration is near treasonous. It's not incompetency, they are actively working against sane and conservative policies regarding both issues. If ignoring or actively working against solving both of those issues is an impeachable offense then by golly, I'll sign the petition to get it done.

Let me make myself perfectly clear, when it comes to oil and border security, George W. Bush is a monumental disgrace. But don't just take my word for it, here's leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez:

Venezuela has warned it could cut off oil exports to the US if provocations by Washington continue.

In an interview on state-run channel Venezolana de Television, Venezuelan Energy and Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said on Tuesday that a possible boycott of petroleum exports to the US would affect Venezuela, but that would be "the price to pay" to uphold national sovereignty.

"We are willing to do it and ready to defend our rights," he said.

Venezuela, with the world's fifth-largest oil exports, has recently made overtures to China, amid continuing tensions between the US and the government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Ramirez said that exports to the US could be diverted to the rapidly expanding Chinese economy. He said 14 fuel cargo ships with a capacity of two million barrels of petroleum went to China last year.

He added that Venezuela would have no problem placing the extra oil on international markets because "the world is avid" for the carbon-based fuels.

Venezuela exports 1.5 million barrels of petroleum and refined products daily to the US.

In recent weeks, the war of words has increased between US President George W Bush's administration and Chavez, a leftwing populist who has forged close relations with Cuba's communist regime.

Last week, Chavez suspended cooperation with the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) after accusing the US of spying on the Venezuelan government.

Chavez has taken to calling Bush "Mr Danger" and describing the Bush administration as the biggest threat to world security.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

US, Brazil, India and Russia must back UN moves against genocide

While I am not prone to lambasting my country for the horrible things it does around the world, preferring to instead keep all events in context, there are some instances in which I am overcome with shame. The following article states that the US, among other countries is actually blocking or seeking to water down a proposal by the UN to protect civilians against future instances of societal collapse leading to genocide. I don't think I need to point out the hypocrisy in spewing a bunch of rhetoric regarding freedom and democracy and then seeking to block a measure calling for the protection of civilians (genocide tends to do a good job in preventing freedom and democracy). I don't even know where to begin so here's the article in its entirety:

With one month to go until the UN summit in New York, the US, Brazil, India and Russia have been called upon to back a new agreement designed to stop genocides like Rwanda from ever happening again.

International agency Oxfam has named these powerful countries as they are currently lukewarm to - or are actively blocking - new measures designed to stop atrocities like genocide from taking place. The reforms will be discussed at the UN Summit in New York in exactly one month's time. Other countries seeking to block the measures include Syria, Iran, Cuba, Pakistan, Eqypt and Algeria.

Oxfam is pushing for a strong agreement on the responsibility of states to protect civilians from large-scale atrocities such as genocide and ethnic cleansing. If agreed this would establish a new standard and oblige the international community to act were there to be another Rwanda or a similar mass murder of civilians where the government was unwilling or unable to do anything to stop the bloodshed. The Rwandan government, supported by dozens of others around the world, has led the calls for a strong agreement but those opposing it are refusing to back down.

“It is hard to overstate how important this is. In one months time the biggest meeting of world leaders in history could endorse a new standard which could help stop a future Rwanda from happening. Today we've taken the step of exposing the governments blocking the agreement so people around the world can call on them to change their minds. We urge these governments to urgently reconsider their position and agree to protect civilians from mass murder and atrocities. The international community must never again allow genocide or mass murder to go unchecked,” said Nicola Reindorp, Head of Oxfam in New York.

India, Brazil and Russia are currently actively opposing strong language on the responsibility to protect civilians. Oxfam is also concerned that the US government, although supporting the ‘responsibility to protect' in principle is currently pushing a watered down proposal.

By contrast key governments supporting the call for strong language include Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Nigeria, Kenya, Chile, Peru, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Canada and the EU.

The current draft outcome document states that the UN has a ‘shared responsibility to take collective action, in a timely and decisive manner,' to, ‘help protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.' However opposition from the blockers could still dilute the commitment rendering it meaningless.

“This is a moral issue of huge importance and will establish a new standard that could help save millions of lives. Those supporting the responsibility of states to protect civilians must stick to their principles and those opposing it must think again. Brazil, India, Russia and the US must play their part in helping to stop the slaughter of thousands of innocent civilians,” added Reindorp.

For further information contact:
UK: Brendan Cox on cell: + 44 7957 120 853
US: Laura Rusu on + 1 202 496 3620 or cell: + 1 202 459 3739

The current draft wording on the ‘responsibility to protect is below':

* 118. We agree that the protection of populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity lies first and foremost with each individual State. We also agree that this responsibility to protect entails the prevention of such crimes, including their incitement. We accept this responsibility and agree to act in accordance with it. The international community should, as appropriate, encourage and help States to exercise this responsibility and support the efforts of the United Nations to establish an early-warning capability. The international community, through the United Nations, also has the obligation to use diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, including under Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter to help protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. In this context, we recognize our shared responsibility to take collective action, in a timely and decisive manner, through the Security Council under Chapter VII of the UN Charter and in co-operation with relevant regional organizations, should peaceful means be inadequate and national authorities be unwilling or unable to protect their populations. We stress the need to continue consideration of the concept of the responsibility to protect within the sixtieth session of the General Assembly.

* 119. We invite the permanent members of the Security Council to refrain from using the veto in cases of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

* 120. We support the implementation of the United Nations Action Plan to Prevent Genocide and the work of the Secretariat to this end.


Diet Fat Ass, Diet

By John Brodigan

I had mentioned my "Three Steps to Losing Weight," which is part of my new Diet Fat Ass, Diet initiative. Being a recovering fat ass myself, I know the benefits of losing weight. By following the John System (eat less, exercise more, want it in the first place), you too can look as fabulous as I do.

But I realize I could probably be more of a help. I am a student of the "shut the fuck up" philosophy, where you encounter peoples whining and excuses by telling them to, well…shut the fuck up. That doesn't mean there aren't a few nuggets of intelligence I can share.

Wanting it in the first place? That's all you, son. You have to search within yourself to find why you want to loose weight in the first place. I had my reasons (they die with me), you need to have yours. Once you have your reason, let's rock.

The best piece of advice I can give is that, the Good Lord gives us twenty-four perfectly good hours a day. Unless you got yourself some company, why waste them in bed? Not having the time...sorry, try again. You need to make time. I make mine in the morning. The gym opens at 5:00 AM, I'm there getting my work out in. When my body needs to recharge, I go to bed instead of watching television. Otherwise, I make the time to do what I need to to git'r done.

Outside of that sage like peace of advice, here are four tools to have at your disposal:

A subscription to Men's Health. If you want half nekkid tarts and the same articles each month only with different entendres, read Maxim (or flip through the pics when you pass by the magazine stand like I do). If you want tips on exercise and diet, from real people and not jacked up freaks, Men's Health is the best way to go. The books they publish are also quite excellent. I use them to help design my work out routines.

A comfortable pair of kicks. Like Steven Wright said, "Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time." I am so sick and tired of hearing people whine about gas prices. If gas is costing you so much, you can do two things. One, GET A SMALLER CAR - NO ONE IS FORCING YOU TO DRIVE THE SUV, STUPID. Two, walk. People are so lazy they'll drive to the end of the driveway to check the mail. If you can walk there, then do so. Finished dinner? Take a walk around the block. Have an hour break for lunch? Walk for twenty minutes, then turn around and walk back. I can see not having the time to go to the gym. Not having the time to walk? You need to just pack it in and call it a day.

A plastic bottle. You can't possible drink too much water. Well, maybe you can. You might want to check with a doctor on that one. But invest in one of them five dollar plastic bottles (usually one liter) that you can get at a sporting goods store. Carry it with you at all times. Keep filling it up when you finish drinking it.

Supermarkets Discount Cards. Every super market has them, they're free, and you need to learn to buy groceries instead of Taco Bell.

Next: Simple diet tips. That's right, me giving diet tips. What?

Art of the Protest

The Cindy Sheehan brouhaha has alarmingly similar elements to the Terry Schiavo fiasco. At first I didn’t want to talk about either one. I figure if the media is going to beat a story to death there’s a good bet that there’s real news elsewhere if you look hard enough for it. What happened with Schiavo that made me bother to pay attention is when is “jumped the shark” sort of speak and became this ridiculous political issue that it didn’t have to be. When congress is convening emergency sessions to pass a law over one woman and yet can’t get a comprehensive energy or border policy together, I feel compelled to throw my two cents in. It would appear that something equally stupid has occurred in the non-news story of the grieving mother, Mrs. Cindy Sheehan.

First, anyone who has lost a loved one in the Iraq War or any other military intervention has my most heartfelt sympathy and condolences. The untimely death of a family member, especially ones child, is especially sad, no matter what the circumstances are. With respect to her son’s passing in combat, I understand where her grief and anger are coming from and if that were the extent of it, I wouldn’t be writing this column.

However, this whole episode where she’s decided to confront President Bush, again, over her sons death stopped being about her grief almost from the moment of it’s inception. Granted, I’m no mind reader but I believe the following exchange from MSNBC’s “Countdown with Keith Olberman” on August 13th, is very telling of this woman’s true intent to date:

OLBERMANN: The nature of the media coverage you're getting now, the response from other families of soldiers killed in Iraq, all of that, from the perspective of your protest there, in a way, isn't it really better if President Bush doesn't meet with you?

SHEEHAN: I would think so, yes. I think it's great. And if he would come out right now, it would really defuse the momentum, and I don't want to give them any hints. And I think that's something they've probably already thought about.

Read more

Monday, August 15, 2005

Biden Meets the Press...Again

Sen. Biden was a guest on Meet the Press this past Sunday. Yes, Biden being on the Sunday shows isn't exactly "news." If there's two things you can count Sunday mornings, it's a hangover and Joe Biden on one of the news shows discussing how the Administration has fucked up Iraq eight way from, well…Sunday.

One thing I have noticed is that he appears to grow angrier with each visit. Andrea Mitchell (substituting for Tim Russert), had asked the Senator about a Washington Post article saying that the Administration was lowing its expectations for victory and what they can accomplish in Iraq. Senator, the floor is yours:

"I think that the administration has significantly downgraded their expectations. They have squandered about every opportunity to get it right...

"Imagine if Secretary Rumsfeld was the CEO of a corporation. These guys talk about how they came from business backgrounds. He'd be fired by now. The idea that we are at this moment, with this headline saying "U.S. Struggles to Get Soldiers Updated Armor," is absolutely irresponsible. And I realize all the problems. If you read the article, it goes back two and a half years and the mistakes consistently being made. I think Rumsfeld should get his notice on Monday morning...

"We can't fire the president and the vice president for their incompetence, to the extent that it exists, but you can, in fact, do that with the secretary of defense. And look, one of the reasons we've had difficulty getting others to get involved, meaning our European friends, NATO, the EU--they look out there, and as long as Rumsfeld's in charge of this operation, as opposed to the uniformed military, they virtually have no confidence in our ability to get the job done. And I just think it is--I don't understand the president's willingness to continue to follow the advice of a man who has not been right on a single major piece of advice he's given the president since the statue of Saddam has fallen in that circle on that fateful day over two and a half years ago..."

I think Biden's view is a smart one for Democrats to have heading into the midterms. Making the bulk of your campaign how you were going to bring the troops home worked for Richard Nixon, but Democrats already tried that in '04 (kinda sorta, I still don't know where Sen. Kerry stood) and it backfired. People were led to believe that it meant you were against the troops, plus it's not like this is the 70's where anyone is paying attention in the first place. By taking Biden's approach, by saying how we should all want victory in Iraq, and how we need to achieve victory in Iraq, they can't hang "anti-military = anti-America" on you. How can some screaming that our soldiers need more funding, better equipment, and help be considered anti-military?

We need to be winning, but we're not because of all the mistakes the current administration has made, is continuing to make, and isn't being held accountable for. You're supporting the military and supporting our country in victory, while still taping in to the growing sentiment at the Administration has no idea what they're doing.

Where all those people were last November, what do I know? I'm just a guy with a laptop.

Friday, August 12, 2005

New Review: The End of Blackness

ExampleThe following is a brief excerpt from a review posted on PopandPolitics.com:

Race is one of the trickiest subjects to discuss in mixed company today in America. It’s hard enough for two people of the same race to have a frank discussion about a complex topic; trying to accomplish this feat with people of different races without the conversation devolving into something out of a daytime trash talk show is a monumentally difficult task.

Taking on this challenge is lawyer and journalist Debra J. Dickerson, who has written an important and profound book, “The End of Blackness: Returning the Souls of Black Folk to Their Rightful Owners.” This 2004 publication will remain a timeless polemic as long as our schizophrenic debate about the meaning of race defines American discourse. Her main thesis is simply that in order for black Americans to come up and truly take their place as full citizens in both mind and deed, they must forgive whites for slavery and Jim Crow, rather than wait for perpetual repentance and apologies. She contends that whites have done all they are going to do as far as apologizing and making up for their horrific mistreatment of blacks since the Age of Exploration. The future for black Americans, according to Dickerson, is in forgiveness.

Dickerson is very fair in her criticisms of both whites and blacks. She unabashedly points out what whites have done to keep blacks pegged in a certain societal place and why said whites feel compelled to act in this way. By the same token, she also uses vivid portraits of history to paint a picture of the antebellum South and life under the tyranny of Jim Crow in comparison to life for the average black citizen circa 2003-2004. (Read more)

Thursday, August 11, 2005

10 Bon Jovi Jointz You May Not Know

Anyone who knows me can tell you three things. I'm boyishly charming. I'm devilishly handsome. And, I'm a huge Bon Jovi fan. Go ahead. Make your little jokes...and then go bugger off Sunshine. I make no apologies. We don't choose the music we love, it chooses us. It just so happens that I was chosen on the way home from a camping trip in 1986 when I mistook Jon Bon Jovi for Ozzy Osbourne (I confused "shot in the dark" and "shot through the heart").

They have a new album coming out called "Have a Nice Day," which is also the name of the first single. I caught the video this week and...it's the same lead off single/video they've put out for the past three albums. "It's My Life" was and is an awesome song. "Everyday" was a'ight, just a little too "in the wake of 9/11" for me to really get into (though no where near as bad as the Springsteen album). "Have a Nice Day?" The smiley face is kinda cute (you'll know what I mean when you see the video), but other than that, meh.

It's a shame because the past few albums have had some really good songs on them. They're just, for some inexplicable reason, not the songs that are released as singles. Then I got to thinking about all the other great songs that were never released to the radio, and therefore never heard of (or "slept on" as they say in da' hood). They've released 10 albums or so. That's well over 100 songs, yet only aboot 20 of which most of you have heard of. That makes John sad. I'm sure it makes Jon sad too.

So as a service to you, and as a former member of the Bon Jovi Underground (shut up), I give you the 10 BON JOVI JOINTZ YOU MAY NOT KNOW...

1. Good Guys Don’t Always Wear White
2. Hearts Breaking Even
3. Captain Crash and the Beauty Queen from Mars
4. Open All Night
5. Only Lonely
6. Blood on Blood
7. Stick to Your Guns
8. Just Older
9. Raise Your Hands
10. Stranger in this Town (a Richie Sambora solo joint)

You have your orders. Open up WinMX and let the downloading commence. You can thank me later.

Former Alaska governor Jay Hammond dies at 83

Who was Jay Hammond and why does this matter? I'm willing to bet that is what you are asking.

"Hammond, a Republican governor from 1974 to 1982, championed the Alaska Permanent Fund, the state investment account created with oil royalties, and the annual dividends paid from it to nearly all state residents.

Last year's dividend check was $919.84."

I first heard of Jay Hammond when he was invited to talk about the Alaska Permanent Fund at US BIG conference I attended in 2004. With respect to the Basic Income Guarantee, there was a lot of high falootin jibber jabber by intellectual Green-type folks that wax philisophical about how to implement the BIG in the US. Like most expansive groups of people they couldn't agree on what the best way to do it or even if guaranteed income was the answer. Some favored a Basic Jobs Guarantee and of course looked to the Federal government to fund such a program.

After a few days haughy taughty talk I was relieved to hear such a down to earth fellow address this issue with clarity and in a language that could be easily understoon. Using oil as the base, Gov. Hammond implemented something akin to the BIG and after some tweaking it became one of the best things to happen to Alaska. This policy was groundbreaking and should have been followed up on by every state in the union. Instead, years later we got "Welfare to Work," and we're no closer to reducing the poverty gap than we were 30 years ago.

I'm sad to learn of his passing. I'm even sadder that his Alaska Permanent Fund has been summarily ignored in the rest of the US and the debate over how to end poverty still straddles between the total socialists and the Darwinian corporatists.

RIP Jay Hammond.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

'Pakistan still exporting terror'

This Post is also available atThe Blogger News Network

It would seem like our policies to fight the War on Terror are at best schizophrenic and at worst, just plain dumb. Sorting through the international news today I found an opinion piece that stated in brief, "...Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are now finding themselves in the same boat on issues of global terrorism. Pakistan's ISI continues to provide support to the Taliban and such Jehadi groups as the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammed, whose cadres are being arrested worldwide for inciting and promoting terrorism. There are strong suspicions that government-backed Saudi charities such as the Al Harmain Islamic Foundation, the International Institute for Islamic Thought, and the International Islamic Relief Organisation continue to fund extremist and terrorist activities worldwide and disturb peace and harmony in pluralistic societies."

Not to mention this number from the title link, "A prominent Pakistani leader has embarrassed both Washington and Islamabad by disclosing that Pakistan's military government continues to run terrorist training camps and is infiltrating militants into Afghanistan despite professing to be a US ally in the war on terrorism."

We can't win this way. I've said this before but it apparently needs repeating; unless the governments (and their respective militaries) of the vast Muslim nations begin to take seriously the threat of terrorism and then do something decisive about it, we're just waiting for a cataclysmic attack to happen. This is like shooting heroin. Sure you'll live long enough to suffer greatly, but no matter how you slice you're still just waiting to die a miserably painful death.

We cannot continue to do business with the Saudi's and the Pakistani's while they play both roles of ally and enemy. We are just spinning our wheels in a perpetual war with an entrenched enemy that lives on the battlefield and isn't afraid to die so long as they drag us down with them.

But maybe I'm being too naive in asking for the governments of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to pick our side and put an end to their sly support of Islamic terrorism against the West. Maybe what is really called for here is what some have been calling for in Iran; open revolt.

The fact of the matter is that in all reality, short of nuking every country from Somalia to Malaysia, the US can't win the War on Terror. We're good at wars where we can kill innocent people in the name of a higher cause (see World War II) but we're really bad at fighting entrenched, homegrown, asymmetrical armies funded by larger, host countries (see Vietnam/Soviet Union) where we're trying not to kill innocent people. The Jihadi's may have declared war on the West but the fight has to actually come from the Arabs/Muslim/Persians themselves. If the moderate/secular populations of the greater Middle East cannot see it is in their benefit to arrest Islamic fundamentalism then we're left with a perpetual never-ending war with an enemy that cannot be contained. This is the path to inevitable nuclear war.

This is a call to all Arabs/Muslims/Persians with a stake in not living as serfs, slaves and the walking dead. This is your war. You are caught between the radicals that won't listen to reason, don't want peace and will murder you if you get in their way, and a West that is slowly but surely losing patience and can blow this entire planet up 100 times over. Let's not lose complete perspective here; at any given time the US alone could end life, as we know across Eurasia and Africa. Maybe our current president isn't so encourage to do that but let another 9/11 with nuclear implications happen and you can bet your sweet bippy whomever is in the White House will press that big red button.

I should not be reading through Google news searches that "Pakistan is still exporting terror." I should not be reading that the Saudi Royal family, "with whom relations couldn't be better with the US" is still exporting terror. Yesterday I called for the US to grow and start facing reality. Today I'm demanding the same of our Arab/Muslim/Persian brothers and sisters; nevermind Israel/Palestine, nevermind the Shah and the CIA, and nevermind the Crusades; evolve, grow up or surely we will all suffer.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Fuck You Atkins! Eat Lo-Carb Shit!

The title is mine. The following quote (having to do with Atkins going bankrupt) is from Joel Stein of Time Magazine:

"I love the thought that Atkins acolytes will no longer be smarmily drinking their ridiculous low-carb wine and chastely munching on low-carb Doritos, because I have suffered through their unrequested speeches about ketosis that don't make any sense. You know what happens "on a cellular level" when you eat that junk? You get a lot more cells. It had got so dire that I had taken to eating carbs at restaurants as a punk gesture of rebellion, dipping mashed-potato sandwiches in granulated sugar and inventing something I call Cake-Ravioli Cereal, which, if I can ever figure out how to get it on a stick, will undoubtedly be a huge hit at state fairs."

College is Bullshit

I had a rather stimulating time at Job #2 this past weekend, which was surprising considering this is where I was told DWI stood for Drinking While Intoxicated. Not this past weekend. I was singing Sam Cooke, and someone actually knew the song. There was a discussion aboot English as the national language. Then came the topic of this latest scribbling.

Usually whenever anyone starts off a sentence by saying, “Hey John, you know a lot about random stuff…,” I fear for what the question is. This time I lucked out. They wanted to know if there was a percentage or statistic showing how many people actual get a job in what they majored in. My guess was that it was less than five percent.

Simply, college is bullshit.

Click here for more...

Tuesday morning thoughts...

First off, I agree with JB and Mark about weight loss, I have fluctuated in weight over the years, from 165 to 265 and I usually stay in the low 200's now. No matter what, the basis of any diet you can find is eating less (and better) and excercising more. Simple as that. It is easy to blame it on fast food, on your job or whatever, but the bottom line is eating better and excercising more.

Now, as far as working out, some people have to work out. Not everyone is a fireman, mechanic, iron worker or aerobics teacher where their job is physical enough to keep in shape. Many of us have jobs that don't require physical assertion. Thus the necassity of working out. I am renovating my house, that kinda eliminates the need to work out... However, it is not carte blanche for me to eat a double quarter pounder for lunch, a person still needs to watch their diet no matter what.

I watched Supersize Me, and the guy makes valid points, if you eat Mickey D's three times per day, you will get sick. But how many people actually think eating greaseball burgers are good for you??? I am sure if you ate any restaurant food three times daily it would make you sick. If you have a diet of no fruits and vegetables and high in saturated fats, what do you think is going to happen??? You will get sick, simple as that...


Never watched much of Raw last night. Is it just me or is the thought of HBK and Hogan NOT exciting... I liked Lita better when they had her tramped up...


Jason Leffler got released from the 11 car, not really shocking, I think everyone could see that team struggling. Terry Labonte, JGR Busch drivers Yeley and Hamlin will have the car for the rest of the season... Silly season is still swirling around Michael Waltrip and the 15. Be interesting to see where that all goes...


Still plugging away at Stick, Leonard really gives good images of the surroundings when he is writing...


Upon request, the movie section will now be written by Dusty Rhodes...

Right heah, right nah, Big Dutht is doon da Hollywooooood theeen... Da last movie da Big Dutht watched wad Rio Bravo, bah Duke, so am not exactally up on da new an 'citin' releases, daby... So Big Dutht will try and keep my fellow bloggahs up and date-ed on what's done happenin...

And Monday night, at the Charlotte Callosee-um, Big Bubba, you clothes are gonna be scatted all ober dat callosee-um, and you gonna be in most of um, jack!!!

Muchos gracias, see ya'll next ti me...

Peter Jennings (1938-2005)

I was watching this great piece on the life of Peter Jennings before. The TV was on, so I didn’t catch what show it was. But they had interviewed every major newsperson of the past thirty years, and showed highlights of every major story Jennings has been there for (including an arguement with former President Clinton). It was really moving.

Unfortunately what I didn’t realize at the time was that I was watching Access Hollywood. They segued to the paparazzi getting shot with a bebe gun outside of Britney’s bridal shower.

Ain’t that America.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Hi, My Name is Mark, and I'm a Fat Ass...

So here's what I got from my reunion with John among many great stories traded between he and I.

I have to start exercising in the morning before work, stop blogging night and day, and get to bed before 1:00am every night.

That picture we took together plus John's svelt physique ::::whistles:::: has inspired me to put July (which was a horrible month as far as keeping to any healthy regiment) behind me and get back on track.

Someone pray for me because lord knows I'm going to need it.

Iran, Syria, Iraq to develop regional cooperation

What does one make of a statement like this? The Iranian mullahs are after the atomic bomb and Syria has decided to marry its fate to them, for better or for worse. If the Shia in Iraq decide to marry their fates to the mullahs, come what may, we'll have a whole new set of problems in the Middle East, not to mention a nightmare scenario with regards to Israel.

Though, reading the article, all three nations are talking about stopping terrorism and moving together to put down the insurgency. Specifically they cite the recent, "...assassination of Egyptian and Iranian diplomats in Iraq, the mass murder of civilians and children in terrorist operations and attacking Bahraini and Pakistani officials..." as serious bones of contention.

The question thus becomes, "Is this all just a clever ruse to throw the West off track or has someone in the Middle Eastern leadership finally woken up?" The cynic in me says the former but I'm praying for the latter.

Here's the Link to the story.

All I Can Do is Write About It

By John Brodigan

Mike Barnicle recently had a challenge to Don Imus, Tim Russert, Chris Mathews, and everyone else involved with reporting news. The next time they are interviewing anyone in the Bush Administration, anyone in the Senate, anyone in Congress, Republican or Democrat, he wants them to ask the following two questions.

Who is Natalie Halloway?
Who is Timmy Bell?

His point was that while everyone knows the latest white chick that’s missing, they probably don’t know Timmy Bell. Do you? Honestly, neither did I. Timmy Bell is one of the 21 Marines killed last week in Iraq. Timmy Bell is one of over 1,800 of our brothers and sisters who were killed since the war started. While TV is focusing on white chick #6, and the New York Times has a front page story on how John Roberts Catholic wife goes to church a few times a week (and treats it like she’s in a bizarre cult), no one is talking about the war. It’s almost as if people aren’t even aware there is a war going on in the first place, unless they see something while they’re flipping channels looking for the latest on Tom Cruise.

Click here for more...

The Rantings of a Recovering Fat Ass

By John Brodigan

People say that Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is considering a run for President in 2008. I don't see it. There's nothing against him personally. It's just the name. A President should sound Presidential. President McCain. President Biden. President...Huckabee? That's like saying WWE World Champion Radulich. But this diatribe isn't about name calling or the Governor's presidential aspirations. This is about his tremendous weight loss (over 100 pounds) and his speaking out against obesity in this country. Being a recovering fat ass myself, I can definitely relate.

Gov. Huckabee did an interview with the New York Times recently. Two of his answers caught my attention:

Do you blame the fast-food industry for this country's weight problem?
We tend to demonize industries, but it's my fault that I was overweight. No one ever forced me to go to McDonald's and order a triple cheeseburger or the largest fries they had, along with a milkshake.

Do you think Americans are lazy?
Without a doubt. We're the victims of our own successes and prosperity, which have caused us to change our lifestyles from being people who had to hunt for our food to people who have more than we can possibly consume. We go to gyms and pay people so they can help us sweat. Isn't that amazing? My dad was a fireman. On his days off, he worked in a mechanic's shop fixing cars. He never had to pay someone and say, "Help me learn how to sweat."

I don't know what his beef is with going to the gym, but you still have to admire a politician who's not afraid to admit we're all lazy. As for the people he aluded to who blame the fast food industry...I'm still amazed that it wasn't my fault I was fat. Apparently it was the fast food industry's fault for making the food, selling it to me, and even marketing it to me in the first place. *sigh*

If people in this country really want to start losing weight, they need to stop making excuses and stop expecting someone else to lose the weight for them. Everyone wants the quick fix. They pay the personal trainer, but don't do what he tells them to. They try whatever the fad diet du joir is, then blame the diet for not working when they wind up gaining weight. They choose to have surgery. They choose to have surgery.

There's nothing wrong with asking for help. I joined Weight Watchers. I needed help learning how to eat properly, and I busted my ass and at one point had lost seventy-five pounds (went from 240 to 165, I'm kinda comfy at 190 now). But where I went to WW to lose weight, I found that most people went for the attention of trying to lose weight. The meetings, which were supposed to be supportive, were overrun by middle aged women who would do nothing but complain about their periods and not being able to eat pretzels. Then when I would lose weight, they'd get mad and use the excuse that it's easier for guys. The real reason I was losing weight? It's because I was doing it and not just talking aboot it.

If people are that serious about losing weight, it's really simple...

1. Eat less.
2. Exercise more.
3. Want it in the first place.

Monday aft. thoughts...


Tony Stewart won the Brickyard yesterday, it was impressive to watch Stewart throughout the race, he has matured into one of the top drivers in the sport. And if you have have watched Stewart run in other forms of racing, you know he is one of the most talented men in all of motorsports... Rough day for Dale Jr. and the Bud team, he wrecked his car, his 1 team car and Robby Gordon (Robby is killing me in my NASCAR pool...)... Good day for Ganassi Racing, Sorenson and Stremme ran well Sat. night, all teams ran well Sunday. Even McMurray who has been under a microscope all year ran well. Any thoughts by anyone on Silly Season???


Ugh, wrestling is a sad scene today... If I had the book I would change many things... I think WWE needs to fix many things. TNA could be okay, I guess we'll have to see how things go when they get on Spike.... So, Bret Hart and WWE are back in bed together. I understand Bret doing the DVD to make sure is legacy is held intact, but lets hope he never appears on WWE TV. It would make him look to be the hypocrite of the century.


Read about Chip Foose over the week-end in Car and Driver, he had imput on the new Mustangs, too bad GM wouldn't go see Foose. The new generation Impala's look hideous. GM is re-designing its full size sport utilities and trucks, lets hope they hit a home run, because with the losses GM has entailed, they won't recover if the trucks/ute's are a flop...


On a Elmore Leonard binge, finished 52 Pick Up last week, on Stick now. Anything new out there on anything good???


My first post, looking fwd to comments, thanks!!!

The Politics of No

This Post is also available atThe Blogger News Network

You can say this about the Iranian Mullah’s, at least they are consistent. Once again the Iranian’s have been given plum after plum by the European Union and once again, Whitey has been snubbed. I absolutely marvel at events like this. I stand befuddled by the fact that the Mullah’s aren’t even popular enough with their own populace, save the thugs they employ as morality police, but yet they are savvy enough to bring down mighty and powerful first world nations like the much ballyhooed “EU-3,” Great Britain, France, and Germany. I’d say something completely juvenile like, “In your face Europe,” except that I’m actually on their side and this latest rejection by the Mullahs of Iran constitutes not just a serious danger but a major setback in attempting to de-nuclearize the global village.

According to CNN.com, “Iran insisted Sunday it would resume uranium conversion this week after rejecting European Union incentives to end its nuclear fuel work, and said it was not worried about being referred to the United Nations for possible sanctions.”

Click here for more...

Sunday, August 07, 2005


By John Brodigan

A long time ago, in a galaxy blah blah freakin blah, there was once a collection of Internet dorks who used to write. We stopped for a while, but much like the shingles, were just laying dormant until it was time to resurface. That time is now.

Here’s the story:

A bunch of us used to write for a wrestling site (stop laughing) back in the day. Two of us had a falling out, and the rest slowly started to lose interest in wrestling, or at least writing about it. Since then, our collective interests have grown. Combined we listen to every genre of music, represent all three sides of politics, a few different religions, most sports, movies, various TV programs (particularly of the “reality” vein), comics, and a whole lotta other schtuff.

Fast forward three and a half years. The two who fell out kiss and make up. The rest of us, who still enjoy writing, wanted to do something again. Enter Pantsless Aggression. A site dedicated to...well, dedicated to whatever the hell we feel like writing aboot. I go wherever the muse takes me. Mark is into foreign policy, inbetween watching Sean Hannity and Robot Chicken. Halden is Canadian and prefers the aqua rush Kool Aid. Aaron is down with Jesus and mayonnaise sandwiches. MattyP has a thing for NASCAR and country music (even though he’s from Jersey). As the rest of the crue gets their act in gear, you’ll see that their interests are just as eclectic.

Think of it like the “iPod Shuffle” option some radio programmers are using. Instead of jumping from Brittney Spears to Metallica to Carole King, we jump from the War in Iraq, to Rockstar: INXS, to something stupid someone said at the bar last night. If you’re reading this, chances are it’s because you’re a friend of ours. Hey, we have to rebuild a following somewhere. :-)

So welcome, leave your pants at the door, and if this turns out to be a bad idea...remember, it was all Mark’s idea.

Friday, August 05, 2005

French Muslim-Themed 'Beurger King' Opens

Frankly, and I know I say this everyday but, I'm mortified.

It's kind of like my uncle Hippy Vic, says, we don't need no stinking bombs, just rock-n-roll and blue jeans are enough to take over the world.

Here's the story:

Muslims in France are having it their way with "Beurger King" - a new fast-food restaurant that caters to the country's large Islamic population.

The bright and colorful eatery was launched in July in an eastern Paris suburb crowded with immigrants and dilapidated housing projects. Its name plays on the French word "Beur," meaning a second-generation North African living in France.

The menu at Beurger King Muslim, or BKM, is standard fast-food fare: burgers, fries, sundaes and doughnuts, and prices are comparable to those at major chains. But the beef and chicken burgers are halal - meaning made with meat slaughtered according to Islamic dietary laws.

Waitresses wear Islamic head scarves, as do many of their customers.

Mouna Talbi, 24, traveled 55 miles to Clichy-sous-Bois with her husband and two small sons to try it out.

"I was so happy to come here that I had tears in my eyes when I walked in," she said, watching her sons climb on colored blocks in the play area as she ate a halal burger.

After the success of Mecca Cola, a soft drink marketed to French Muslims, it was perhaps only a matter of time before a Muslim-themed, fast-food restaurant opened in the country with Western Europe's largest Islamic population.

Talbi's children always clamor for fast food, but this was the first time they've been able to order something other than fish, she said.

"A woman in Muslim dress feels at home here," she said, sitting in a red tunic and matching head scarf.

Three Muslim friends from the Paris suburbs set up the restaurant after seeing similar restaurants in Thailand and Algeria.

They saw a demand for a clean, family-oriented halal fast-food restaurant that would offer an alternative to the big non-halal chains and the many downscale halal street vendors.

One of the founders, Morad Benhamida, 33, said he and his partners worked for almost two years on a business plan to convince French backers.

"I was shocked when my bank manager believed in the project straight away," he said, sitting under an umbrella on the restaurant's terrace.

Burger King, the U.S.'s second-largest fast-food chain, has no restaurants in France, according to its Web site. When asked about the Muslim restaurant, Lauren Hammann, a spokeswoman for Burger King Corp. in Miami, would only say: "We are aware of the matter and we're looking into it."

Benhamida said the business plan showed the halal meat came from reputable wholesalers and was inspected twice daily. But he had not anticipated how successful the idea would be.

"I was very surprised because people really liked the restaurant, so much so that we have tripled stocks since opening a month ago," he said. "It seems like magic."

He is planning to hire eight new employees in fall, expanding his staff of 28.

In an area with high unemployment, people are grateful to find work. Some female employees said they took the job because they were allowed to wear head scarves, unlike workers in other French fast-food restaurants.

Female customers also seemed happy. Cherifa Halimi, 19, sat in a booth sipping drinks with four friends, all dressed in black flowing gowns covering all but their hands and faces.

"There are a few changes they could make to give the place a completely Muslim image," Halimi said. "The television is OK, but there shouldn't be any music.

"But I'd like to work here."

Muslim diners said they felt more misunderstood in France since last month's terror attacks in London.

"Even the media demonizes the image of Islam in this country," Ahmed Talbi said, sitting in a booth opposite his wife. "People are afraid of terrorist attacks here, too."

Customers, including non-Muslims, said the restaurant was not segregating Muslims but showing a normal, peaceful Muslim activity that was open to all.

"Both Muslims and other people feel at ease here," Talbi said. "Maybe this kind of place will help to correct the bad image of Muslims and tell the world to stop talking nonsense about us."


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