A PROGRESSIVE VOICE FROM THE LLANO ESTACADO

Monday, January 15, 2007

2007 Prediction #2: Robert Carter Will Not Reply to This Post

Prof. Carter is the author of a number of articles that take a skeptical view of climate change, of which the most provocatively-titled is definitely "There IS a problem with global warming... it stopped in 1998". The good professor, who frequently feels the need to remind people that climatology is very complex and that "alarmists" often base broad-ranging conclusions on relatively small sample sizes, unveils an astonishing fact in this article
Consider the simple fact, drawn from the official temperature records of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, that for the years 1998-2005 global average temperature did not increase (there was actually a slight decrease, though not at a rate that differs significantly from zero).
Can it be true? It is true! I acknowledge it, and in fact I agree with Carter's assertion about the alarmists too.

But...

As luck would have it, I also take a fairly skeptical view of climate change, and as a result have read a few things. When one has read a few things on this topic, the number '1998' sends up a little red flag: for a long while, it was the hottest year on record. Our skeptical professor sees fit to declare that climate change has stopped, based on the fact that mean temperature has not steadily broken its own record each year since 1998 (it broke its record only once: 2005 is now the hottest year ever).

You may recall that in a previous post I extolled the virtues of decentralized information systems like the internet and all that good "Web 2.0" stuff. Sure enough it did not let me down; I found a wonderful quote in a Wikipedia talk page about this very article:
To give you an idea how wily Carter is being, consider that all the following would be true according to the data set he used:
For the years 1995-2005 global average temperature increased
For the years 1996-2005 global average temperature increased
For the years 1997-2005 global average temperature increased
For the years 1998-2005 global average temperature did not increase
For the years 1999-2005 global average temperature increased
For the years 2000-2005 global average temperature increased
For the years 2001-2005 global average temperature increased
For the years 2002-2005 global average temperature increased
For the years 2003-2005 global average temperature increased
For the years 2004-2005 global average temperature increased
-"Nethgirb"
I'd be willing to bet that Carter did not put all those time-periods into a hat and then pick one to write about
. This, of course, is called "selective evidence".

Okay, time to lay off Carter. This comes up because in a booklet issued last month I find some curious phrasings. Chiding Mr. Stern's famous report on climate change, Senator Jim Inhofe says: "Stern has surely accepted his IPPC-centric science advice in good faith, yet that turns out to be his fatal mistake... global temperature has not increased since 1998, despite continuing increases in carbon dioxide".

Look: that year, 1998 again! Sure enough, Carter's article is referenced in the booklet. Sen. Inhofe accusing Stern of uncritically accepting IPPC arguments, but himself uncritically accepting Carter's, who selectively included evidence in a piece attacking "alarmists" for selectively including evidence.

While we're on the subject of predictions, it's being widely anticipated that 2007 will break the temperature record again.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Pizza shop under fire for taking pesos

After announcing that they would accept pesos, a pizza chain based in Dallas is now receiving hate mail and death threats. From the Star-Telegram:

Dallas-based Pizza Patron said it was not trying to inject itself into a larger political debate about illegal immigration when it posted signs this week saying "Aceptamos pesos" - or "We accept pesos" - at its 59 stores across Texas, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada and California.

Pizza Patron spokesman Andy Gamm said the company was just trying to sell more pizza to its customers, 60 percent of whom are Hispanic.

Having worked at a hole-in-the-wall pizza joint until recently, I can tell you that it is an absolute must to come up with unique promotions to be able to compete with the big chains. It seems to me that this is exactly what this pizza chain is attempting to do. Setting themselves apart in order to attract business.

Wal-Mart, H-E-B supermarkets and other American businesses in towns along the Mexican border accept pesos. And some businesses in New York and Minnesota communities along the northern border accept Canadian dollars.

The difference here is that many of the pizza joints are far from the border, in places like Dallas, more than 400 miles away, and Denver, more than 700 miles.

"If people would understand that the majority of our customers are Hispanic, then it might make more sense for a company to sell pizza for pesos," Gamm said. "It doesn't make sense in Connecticut. And it doesn't make sense in North Dakota or in Maine. But it makes perfect sense here in Dallas, in Phoenix, in Denver - areas far from the border that have significant Hispanic populations."

This makes perfect sense to me. Any business, in order to survive, must cater to it's base. If you are running a business in a largely hispanic area, I see no reason why it shouldn't be acceptable to take pesos. They can be converted to dollars. It is done every day. Money is money. If there are a lot of pesos in the area your business is located in, why not take it? It is better than not making anything at all.

While praising the pesos plan as an innovative way to appeal to Hispanics, a partner in the nation's largest Hispanic public relations firm said a backlash was inevitable.

"Right now there's a lot of anti-immigrant rhetoric going around that could make them a lightning rod," said Patricia Perez, a partner at Valencia, Perez & Echeveste in Los Angeles.

What does this have to do with immigration? It seems to me that it has more to do with making your customers lives easier. "Don't worry about converting your pesos. We can do that ourselves."

When I went to Mexico a few years ago, I didn't convert my dollars. After I had been told that it wasn't necessary, I certainly didn't go out of my way to do it. That is basically what this pizza chain is doing. Telling their customers that it isn't necessary.

Pizza Patron proclaims on its Web site that "to serve the Hispanic community is our passion."

If serving their Hispanic community is their passion, then by all means, let them do it! Accepting pesos is one way they can go about that!

Many Pizza Patron customers have pesos "sitting in their sock drawers or in their wallets," Gamm said. "We're talking small amounts, where it would be inconvenient to stop and exchange on the way back - maybe 10 or 20 dollars' worth of pesos."

In the first week, payments in pesos have accounted for about 10 percent of business at the five restaurants operated by the corporation, Pizza Patron said.

Ten percent is a fairly good amount. By no means is it a majority of their income, but it is enough to make the promotion worth it. There is a decent chance some of the people who ordered using pesos would not have done so if they had to get the money converted first, especially if the amount is small. When pesos are ten percent of your income though, suddenly it does become worth it.

The people who are so offended by illegal immigration need to wake up and realize that this pizza chain's promotion has nothing to do with their cause. This is simply about a company trying to attract more customers and more money, which is something that all companies try to do. What is so wrong with accepting pesos as a way to do such?

Agg-Town Fights Update

Last March, the Arlington police were investigating an assault, and discovered a gang of youths who were assaulting people and arranging fights so they could film them and sell the resulting product for profit. The group called themselves Playas After Cash [PAC], and they were selling videos of their assaults and fights.

The Arlington police arrested four members of PAC, charging them with assault and engaging in organized crime. Two of those PAC members have now pled guilty to their crimes.

Folarin Olawoye, 20, pled guilty to a felony charge of engaging in organized crime, and received two years of probation. John Barree, 18, pled guilty to aggravated assault and was sentenced to three years in prison.

Two other PAC members -- Michael Jackson, 19, and Lamar Gaines, 17, are still awaiting trial on felony charges of engaging in organized crime.

Those of you not familiar with this story can catch up here, here, here, and here.

The Use Of The Word "Criminal"

I apologize for not posting for the last three days, but my work required me to be out of town for the past three days and I had no access to a computer. I'm afraid posting will be spotty at best for the next few days also. My family and I are in the process of moving to a new city. As soon as we can get established in our new home, regular posting will resume and I will again subject you all to my daily rants.

While I was out of town, I was watching Fox News one evening. No, I have not gone over to the dark side. It was in a hotel resturant, and I had no control over the television.

The right-wing talking heads on Fox were doing a story on undocumented immigrants in our country, and they kept using the term "criminals" to refer to these people. Each time I heard the word used in this context, I became angrier and more offended.

I have worked in various aspects of law enforcement for over twenty years now. I deal with real criminals in my work every day -- people who have earned the title of criminal by their actions. I feel like I have a bit of expertise in this field.

A criminal is a person who has been convicted of a crime against persons or property, or who has violated an oath to uphold our Constitution. Criminals run the gamut from child molesters to wife-beaters, from rapists to murderers, from burglars to company executives stealing from investors and employees, from con men to crooked politicians.

But a poor man who crosses an invisible line created by politicians to get a job to feed, clothe and shelter his family, is NOT a criminal. I submit if the U.S. was a poor country and Mexico a rich country, many of us would be crossing the border in order to feed our families. I know I would if it meant the difference between health and starvation for my family.

Now I know some of you are going to say they broke a law when they crossed that border without "permission". If you're going to look at it that way, then we are all criminals. Is there any one of us that hasn't broken some law at some point in our lives [jaywalking, speeding, littering, etc.]? Using this kind of definition for the word robs it of any real meaning, and basically just makes it another word for human being.

Call these people "illegal aliens" or "undocumented immigrants" if you must, but calling them "criminals" is just wrong. They are decent and hard-working folks who mean you no harm. They are simply trying to care for their loved ones, just like you are.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

2007 Prediction #1: Breakout year for internet grassroot

I decided not to make excuses for being gone so long... let's just dive right in.

A fascinating tale is developing to kick off the new year, and it has broad implications for discourse in this country. In a nutshell: blogger 6,332,550 records disturbing stuff from talk radio and send clips to the shows' advertisers. They withdraw ads, and the parent company (Disney) pounces on -- not the talk radio hosts -- the blogger -- in the form of threats of copyright lawsuits.

We have their attention, folks. The relevant term is Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation or "SLAPP", and half of the united states have laws specifically protecting people from such lawsuits. It is time for a federal law, so notify any U.S. congresspeople you know.

The goal of a SLAPP is quite simple: change people's behavior (in this case, stop him from criticizing you) by threatening to drag them into court at great expense to themselves if they do not. It is not important that heshe has actually violated any law. In this case, the audio clips are clearly and obviously used fairly, under provisions in copyright law, and any lawsuit actually brought would be actionably frivolous.

All that is important is that the potential defendant not be in a position to pay for the exorbitant legal fees that would be required to clear hisher name. Ta-da: you've circumvented the entire notion of equal protection under the laws, and all it took was a big, big bank account.

You do have a problem, however: people in this country, for some reason, kind of enjoy the idea of equal protection under the laws. Bloggers seem to be especially prickly about it. I suspect it is because they must rely on the power of their ideas to distinguish themselves, rather than just buying distinction on the open market.

This, of course, is not brand-new. You probably remember the beef industry trying to SLAPP Oprah Winfrey down (Bad choice of target, beef guys).

But starting in 2007, everyone is Oprah. Bloggers and other journalists are going to have or develop the tools to get their rights back. They're connected to each other, and your SLAPPs are going to boomerang on you with amazing frequency. They will not be cost-effective anymore. You might still be able to squash the little blogger in question, but you're going to create an even bigger problem for yourself in the process.

Ideally, state and federal laws will add to the cost of doing this kind of business, by subjecting you to severe penalties when you are found to have attempted it.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Israel Planning Nuclear Attack On Iran ?

The Sunday Times newspaper in London is reporting that Israel has drawn up plans for a nuclear attack on Iran. They quote several unidentified Israeli military sources as saying pilots are already being trained for the 2000-mile mission with flights to Gibraltar, a British colony on the west end of the Mediterrean.

The attack is planned to destroy as much of the Iranian nuclear program as possible, in an attempt to keep the Iranians from developing their own nuclear weapons. The attack would target several Iranian targets including the new centrifuges being installed at Natanz, a heavy water reactor at Arak and a uranium-conversion facility near Isfahan.

The sources say the Israelis are planning to use tactical nuclear weapons because some of the targets have been hardened by the Iranians by moving them underground. They would use conventional weapons to blow a path clear for the nuclear bombs that would explode underground.

There are those who think this idea has been released to the media to try and scare the world into taking action against Iran. I hope that is all this is, because it would be a terrible idea for any nation to use nuclear weapons, especially in the Middle East. The closest thing we have to a powder-keg that could set off a world war is the Middle East.

But if the Israelis think this will pressure Bush and his cronies to do something about Iran, they are wrong. Bush has screwed up a war with a militarily weak nation that posed us no threat. He has shown he has no idea how to deal with nations like North Korea and Iran, both of which pose a real threat to world peace.

In fact, I bet Bush thinks the nuclear attack would be a good idea. He even considered using nukes in Iraq. Bush is not very bright, and his idea of diplomacy is simply to threaten others. An Israeli attack would relieve the pressure on him to actually do something constructive with Iran.

I wish this was a problem we could put off until 2008, when hopefully we can put a competent president into office, but it isn't. Israeli intelligence has said they believe Iran could have nuclear weapons in as little as two years. Our only hope lies with the United Nations, and judging by their recent actions, that is a very faint hope indeed.

I don't want Iran to have nuclear weapons. But I also don't want the Israelis to use their nuclear weapons. Both of these options would make the world an even more dangerous place.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Who Owns Secret Service Logs At White House ?

During the Clinton administration, Republicans eagerly used the White House Secret Service visitor logs to track who was visiting the president and his top aides. But now that Bush is president, they want a different set of rules.

A federal judge has recently ordered the Secret Service to release the visitor logs regarding visits to the vice-president, but Bush's lawyers are fighting this in court. They say the visitor logs don't belong to the Secret Service, but to the White House -- thus making them presidential records and not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

To back up this argument, they have revealed the existence of a secret agreement signed last May. This secret agreement between the White House and the Secret Service declares the visitor logs are the property of the White House, and may not be released by the Secret Service, even to satisfy a judicial order.

The secret agreement was put in place so Bush could keep secret the many contacts the White House had with Jack Abramoff. It allowed Bush to mislead Americans into believing that the White House had only minimal contacts with Abramoff, even though his aides had met with Abramoff 485 times, including 10 visits with Karl Rove.

Bush wants to keep his and Cheney's dirty little misdeeds a secret, but he certainly doesn't think ordinary Americans should have any privacy or be able to keep anything secret. We already knew that Bush had claimed the right to eavesdrop on the phone and electronic communications of Americans without a judicial warrant. Now we learn he has been opening our mail also.

Last month, Bush signed a postal reform bill that was supposed to help guarantee the privacy of the mail. However, Bush attached another of his presidential "signing statements" to the bill declaring that he has the right to open any mail without a judicial warrant under emergency conditions.

Bush has issued 750 of these signing statements -- more than all other presidents combined. Other presidents issued these statements to clarify a point of law. Bush is different. He issues the statements to declare that he does not have to obey the law, regardless of the intent of Congress in passing the law.

This is what his statement attached to the postal bill says:

The executive branch shall construe subsection 404(c) of title 39, as enacted by subsection 1010(e) of the Act, which provides for opening of an item of a class of mail otherwise sealed against inspection, in a manner consistent, to the maximum extent permissible, with the need to conduct searches in exigent circumstances, such as to protect human life and safety against hazardous materials, and the need for physical searches specifically authorized by law for foreign intelligence collection.

In plain old english, it says he can open anybody's mail any time he wants to, and he doesn't need any warrant to do it. The crazy part is that the signing statement violates the very law it was attached to.

WHEN ARE WE GOING TO IMPEACH THIS CRIMINAL?

Friday, January 05, 2007

House Democrats Off To A Good Start

House Democrats got off to a good start yesterday. First they elected the first female Speaker of the House, Rep. Nancy Pelosi [D-California]. Then they got down to business by making House ethics rules tougher.

Of course, the Republicans whined that they were being ignored, and their amendments were not given a chance. After the heavy-handed way they treated the minority when they were in power, I doubt too many people will feel sorry for them -- I certainly don't. And with their recent record on House ethics, such as they way they neutered the ethics committee when they controlled it, not to mention DeLay, Ney, Cunningham, Abramoff , etc., I think it was probably better they didn't have a say in new ethics rules.

The Democrats banned all lobbyist-paid gifts and meals. This is something that has needed to be done for a long time. They also banned House members accepting free rides on corporate jets. Personally, I think they should have banned professional paid lobbyists altogether, but I can live with the new rules.

Today, they will be voting to prohibit the secret "earmarking" of funds that allowed members to insert "pork" into bills without a vote or accountability. They will also vote to prohibit votes being held open past the time limit so leaders can round up votes. Both of these measures need to be passed.

While Democrats have made a good start, there is still much to be done. Once they have the new ethics rules in place, they need to start actions to raise the minimum wage. This is another area in which no Republican amendments should be considered. Republicans should not be allowed to water the minimum wage bill down by exempting large numbers of employers or restricting overtime provisions.

Democrats have a golden opportunity to win back the hearts of most Americans. Now they must follow through on their campaign promises. It they do, the 2008 election could be a lot of fun for progressives.

Alliance For A Clean Texas vs. TXU

A group of enviornmental organizations, known collectively as the Alliance for a Clean Texas [ACT], announced plans today to lobby the new Texas legislature to stop TXU and others from building up to 19 new coal-burning power plants. TXU is planning to build 11 of those plants.

TXU is trying to scare Texans by telling them the new plants must be built quickly, or Texas will suffer a shortage of electricity. Our governor, who has either been paid off or has fallen for the TXU propaganda gibberish, has "fast-tracked" the new coal-burning plants.


ACT wants the legislators to stop this fast-track process so a thorough study can be done on the pollution effects of the new plants. They believe a study will show the plants will increase pollution in Texas, including ground-level ozone. The DFW area is already having trouble meeting federal pollution regulations, and the new plants will only worsen the problem.


ACT believes Texas' energy needs can be met with solar and wind power combined with a more efficient use of our energy. TXU says this won't be sufficient to meet Texas' needs. I tend to believe ACT since their motivation is to clean up the air we all breath. TXU's motivation is bigger and bigger profits.


While I approve of ACT's program, I believe it ignores a couple of other clean energy options. Both of these options involve gasification.


A plant is being built near Stephenville that will turn cow patties into a clean-burning gas. There is no reason more plants of this type can't be built. Texas certainly has the raw material needed, and more is being produced every day.


The other option is the gasification of coal. We do have an abundance of coal in the United States, and the technology exists to turn this coal into a clean-burning gas. This would cost more than just burning straight coal, but it would result in a cleaner Texas for all of us. ACT is right that coal-fired plants would worsen Texas' pollution problems, but that doesn't mean that coal cannot be used in a cleaner way.


Wind and solar power and conservation may or may not be all we need, but if we combine these with gasification of coal and cow patties, I believe all of Texas future electric needs can be met without further polluting our air.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Bill Richardson For President In 2008


I have been trying to hold off on endorsing a candidate for president for the 2008 campaign because I thought it was just too early to be talking about the 2008 campaign. But it's now finally 2007, and everyone else seems eager to jump on board with one candidate or another, so I guess I'll join in the fray.

We have the Hillary Clinton supporters who think America is ready for it's first female president. There are the Barack Obama supporters who think a black man could be elected finally in this country. John Edwards has already tossed his hat in the ring, and his supporters think the Democrats must have a southern candidate to win.

Others admire the ecological stand Al Gore has taken and want him to run again. Conservative Democrats are lining up behind General Wesley Clark.

All of these are admirable Democrats, and they are serving their country well. But at this time, I cannot support any of them. To me, they all carry some negative baggage.

Clark is simply too conservative for my taste. Gore ran a poor campaign last time, and there's no reason to believe he would do any better in a second run. Clinton and Edwards have moved so far to the center that I'm not sure what they believe in anymore. Obama is simply too inexperienced, and after his vote on the bankruptcy bill, I don't think he understands the needs of working class and poor Americans.

So, I have opted for competence. I support Bill Richardson because I believe he is the most competent of the major candidates. He is a successful governor, and was just re-elected by the citizens of New Mexico. He understands the problems that our states face and could be a valuable asset in helping to solve those problems.

He also understands America on the national level, having served for 15 years in the U.S. Congress. He wouldn't need time to figure out Washington as most governors would, and could hit the ground running if elected president.

Even more impressive, he has been effective on the world stage. He has been America's ambassador to the United Nations, and several presidents have used his diplomatic skills to trouble-shoot thorny international problems. He has proven he can talk to anyone and bring them peacefully to reasonable actions.

Richardson is also an excellent campaigner. When you listen to him speak, you come away with the impression of a man with common sense, who truly understands America's problems and has rational solutions to those problems. I believe him to be the most competent of all the candidates.

I'm not asking anyone to blindly accept him. Just listen to him with an open mind. I think you'll be impressed.

And if you feel you must vote to break new ground, how about electing the first Hispanic President of the United States?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Chinese government bans emotions?

Beijing has found an interesting way to prepare for the 2008 Olympics. From the Star-Telegram:

Starting next month, Beijing shopkeepers who vent their anger, act impatiently or glance at customers disdainfully are in violation of the law. Also forbidden under the draft regulations are sarcastic or ironic comments, vague explanations and grabbing customers to coerce them into buying something, according to a report released on a state media Web site last month.

Okay, I understand not allowing shopkeepers to physically grab customers. I can be convinced that is assault. There is no need to touch people in an attempt to sell your goods.

I'm not so sure about the others though. Is it really necessary to ban a shopkeeper or an employee from giving bad looks or being sarcastic? When I run across people like that, I just make sure that they don't end up with any of my money. I can't imagine that I'm the only person who reacts in such a manner. After seeing money fly out the door, I'd think that people would start to get a clue.

"The ancient capital has produced residents with a reputation for generosity and big gestures, but it's also fostered a tradition of arrogance in Beijingers reflected in the commercial and service industry," the China News Service reported.

A tradition of arrogance? Um...okay. I have an inkling that some of the 2008 Olympics tourists will be bringing their own brand of arrogance to the city as well.

Song Xuelei, 27, a student, said he applauds the idea. His pet peeve is getting dirty looks from shopkeepers when he's window shopping.

But enforcing the new rules, which take effect Feb. 1, could be a bit difficult. "People get emotional," Song said. "Maybe the shopkeeper had a bad day. It's a bit hard to control. And I don't really think this is the government's business. We just need to change people's behavior over time."

Comments in Internet chat rooms appeared to be running roughly 90 percent against the regulations.

I don't enjoy being on the receiving end of dirty looks myself, but come on! Aren't we all guilty of "shooting daggers" from time to time? Banning the expression of human emotions is just insane.

If a person gets offended by receiving a look or comment that doesn't please them, like I said above, simply take your business elsewhere. Even better, put in a complaint.

My favorite part of the article was found in the beginning:

Apparently frustrated by its limited success in persuading Beijing residents to stop spitting, act more courteously and show a friendlier face...

Stop spitting? Is this directed at all Beijingers, or only at the shopkeepers that the law seems to be aimed at? 'Cause if it is the shopkeepers...wow.

If I were to walk into a store and witness an employee spit on the floor as a way to show disdain toward me, I think I'd be more amused than anything. Just imagining the clean-up time after hours would be enough to take away any anger I would have at receiving the supposed slight. I can already see the conversation I would have with my best friend upon coming back to the States:

Red: Uh...CC, why is there a picture in here of spit on a floor?

CC: Dude! You wouldn't believe what I saw! I walked into this store and...



Pat Robertson Nuts Out Again

Pat Robertson is at it again -- making predictions that won't come true, and in essence, making fun of those who take christianity seriously. He has to be poking fun at christianity, or he would have stopped making the predictions when the first one didn't come true.

In 2004, he said god told him that Bush would win easily. Bush did win, but it was a squeaker, with him only getting 51% of the vote. Not exactly wrong, but not the easy win he predicted.

In 2005, he said god told him that Bush would win approval of his social security reforms and get conservative judges appointed to federal courts. Bush did get two conservatives on the Supreme Court, but that social security "reform" still has not been approved.

In 2006, he said god told him that a tsunami would hit the east coast of the United States. It didn't happen, but Pat said he was partially right because the east coast had heavy rains last Spring.

This year, Pat said god has told him there will be a terrorist attack in the U.S. resulting in a "mass killing" late in 2007 -- possibly nuclear.

Pat's sorry record of mistakes makes me wonder just which god he's talking to. I was always taught as a child that the christian god is infallible, but Pat's god sure isn't. Pat's god is wrong on a regular basis!

Of course, we all know that it has nothing to do with any god. Pat Robertson is a religious con man who preys on the gullibility of his followers -- a classic false prophet. He's not talking to god, but just trying to scare christians into sending him more money.

It's time he was kicked to the curb. He's an embarrassment to true christians everywhere.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Hard To Be A Cowboys Fan These Days

Last week, I said it was not yet time to hit the panic button if you're a Dallas Cowboys fan. But that was before they lost a home game to a 2-13 Detroit Lions team. This week, I'm pounding the hell out of that panic button.

I know some of you are going to say that they've made the playoffs, and that anything can happen in the playoffs. Granted. I, also, hope something magical will happen when the playoffs start, but I'm certainly not going to bet any of my hard-earned money on it.

Frankly, this team doesn't deserve to be in the playoffs. How can anyone believe in a team that loses a last game of the season at home to a 2-13 team? The only team the Cowboys have beaten in the last four weeks is a poor Atlanta Falcons team, and they were lucky to win that one.

Before the season started, it looked like they would have a great defense this year. But the last four weeks, they have given up an average of 33 points per game. Nobody will win very many games giving up that many points.

This is the first year for the Cowboys to play a 3-4 defense. I have to wonder if Zimmer, who has always coached the 4-3 defense before, really understands the 3-4 well enough to coach it. It seems like the Cowboys always seem to leave a receiver open. And the pass rush is non-existent.

But as bad as the defense is, the offense is equally bad. The turnovers, dropped passes and penalties have killed any chance they had for consistency. On paper, they Cowboys seem to have a lot of top talent, but it is not translating to the playing field.

I don't know what is wrong with this team. I just know they are entering the playoffs playing as poorly as any team in the league. Don't bet the rent money on any Cowboy playoff wins.

DFW Metroplex Temperature Is Record High In 2006

The National Weather Service office in Fort Worth says the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex set a new record for high temperature during 2006. The average high temperature for the year was 80.4 degrees.

This was the first time since temperatures began to be recorded over a hundred years ago, that the average temperature was over 80 degrees. The previous record was 79.5 degrees.

The average mean temperature, which is the average of all the year's high and low temperatures, also set a new record high at 69.3 degrees. The previous highs were in 1999 [68.6] and 1998 [68.3].

Also, recently, the entire island of Lohachara, in India's Bay of Bengal, has been swallowed up by rising ocean waters. The island, once home to 10,000 people, simply doesn't exist anymore.

The U.S. government has started the process to have the polar bear declared an endangered species. This is due to the melting of the ice in it's natural enviornment.

The 25.5 mile Ayles arctic ice shelf in Canada has broken off and set adrift. Again, this is due to the warming of the arctic region. This ice shelf was believed to be over 3,000 years old. Scientists are predicting the Arctic Sea's summer ice will be completely gone before 2040.

And still, the idiot we currently have in the White House does not believe that global warming is happening, and is being created by humans pumping ever more greenhouse gases into our air. Of course, many of his Republican buddies agree with him. If they admitted global warming was real, then they would have to demand their rich contributors actually spend some money to control pollution.

Obviously, campaign contributions are more important than mankind's future to these Republicans.

Monday, January 01, 2007

3,000th U.S. Soldier Killed As 2006 Ends


Photo taken byMaster Sgt. Jim Varhegyi of the United States Air Force

2006 ended on a sad note, as the 3,000th American soldier was killed in the Iraq war. I wish I could say that the end was near in this war -- that things were getting better, and our troops would soon be coming home. But that is not the case.

In fact, I expect that Bush will soon announce that he is sending even more of our brave soldiers to Iraq. It makes me wonder if Bush understands what is going on over there. He is still talking as though he thought what is going on in Iraq had something to do with international terrorism
.


Iraq was never a haven for terrorists before our ill-conceived invasion and occupation of the country. I do believe that for a short time after the invasion, foreign terrorist fighters did come to the aid of Iraqi insurgents, but even that is past history now.

The fighting in Iraq no longer has anything to do with the "war on terrorism". It is now a civil war between the Sunnis and the Shiites. Both sides hate the United States and attack our soldiers.

I assume our soldiers are there to prop up the puppet government we have installed in Iraq. Don't try and tell me that it was a democratically-elected government. A democracy doesn't have to have it's candidates approved by an occupying power. This is nothing more than a puppet government which will cease to exist the minutes U.S. troops leave, and supporting it is simply an exercise in futility and not worth the life of a single American.

Bush is embarrassed at having started this civil war, and wants to fix it before leaving, but this cannot happen. The Iraqis must determine their own future. It will be bloody because civil wars always are, but there is nothing we can do to prevent that since the warring factions each have outside backers -- Saudi Arabia backs the Sunnis and Iran backs the Shiites.

Our troops cannot determine Iraq's future, and they cannot save face for Bush. It is time to bring them home!

HAPPY NEW YEAR !



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