Thursday, December 29, 2005

Spielberg's Munich Movie

I didn't quite expect to have an opinion to share on this but ....

The trailer is extremely powerful. The reviews have only made me want to see it more. The news about the movie and the public's reaction are very interesting.

See the trailer.

Remember, the movie is according to Spielberg, inspired by the true events so don't go taking it as a documentary. It is STILL Hollywood. Schindler's List may have been as close to a historical documentary in a movie format as you are likely to see but this is a different kettle of fish entirely. Both former Mossad and PLO people have said as much as well.

The best thing about this movie is that I am willing to accept that it is good not because it is good as a work of art but because both sides have something to complain about. See another article that puts it into words better than I can.

By the way, calling Spielberg Anti-Semetic as some have done is just one of the most hilarious things I have ever heard.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Iraq War Viewpoints - Good Example of Bias

I came across something not entirely ontopic but totally irresistable.

Perhaps one of the best blogs in the Iraq war around is Michael Yon's. Today is particularly relevant because he has a great commentary and links to two files demonstrating factually correct and true stories. The more important point here is that you can interpret true facts and situations but by editing and presentation, tell the story you want to tell and have the impact you desire on the viewer.

This is about the best example of what bias can result in. Think about it the next time you watch the news. Check it out.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Nuclear Power Hypocrisy

It all seems rather ridiculous that there are groups and politicians that oppose any single new nuclear plant being built in the United States. The last nuclear plant that was turned on was in 1996 (Watts Barr, TN). Yet, the only things that we have been putting in to handle the growth are non nuclear power plants. A lot of that has been coal fired plants and we all know that that pollutes the atmosphere and if you want to believe some claims - global warning too.

Yet, I do not see these very same groups oppose or protest China that is going to build up to 30 new power plants in the next two decades. After all, if it is difficult to handle the nuclear waste from a single new American nuclear plant, how much more difficult is it to handle from 30 Chinese nuclear plants? Also keep in mind that China is physically smaller than the United States and with a far larger population thereby resulting in a higher population density.

So, I am waiting for some of these anti nuclear groups to take on the Chinese government's plans. Or is a Chinese life worth less than an American life?

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Patriot Act Renewed for Short Term

It appears that the Patriot Act has been renewed for a few months. The White House seems to have understood the strength of the opposition to a permanent extension to the Patriot Act as it exists that they probably let Bill Frist bring it to the floor for a vote.

As long as concerned citizens regardless of party affiliation continue to raise issues about some parts of the Patriot Act, I suspect that it will never be allowed to become permanent. This is not going to take a compromise with Congress. This is going to take a compromise with the people.

AP has the story.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Spying on Americans Accusation

I think the media and as a result, the public is missing out some vital information regarding these accusations of using the NSA to supposedly spy on Americans. This is just a heads up as I am currently doing a little bit of research on this and will put something up in the next day or two.

The general belief is that the NSA is used for international spying and the FBI for domestic work. That in a very large sense is correct. However, most of us know that in reality, things are not always so simple. Especially when there are still issues (some technical, some not) regarding information or intelligence sharing between different agencies that serve this country.

I am not going to jump on the bandwagon to condemn a President that has a difficult job. There is also some evidence that previous presidents have authorized similiar activities. See this one. So it is entirely possible that some politicians are making a mountain out of a molehill.

No, I have not yet forgotten Franklin's quote:

Those willing to give up a little liberty for a little security deserve neither security nor liberty.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Patriot Games - Patriot Act Renewal

Have you been following the whole Patriot Act situation lately? It seems that the President wants it to be renewed permanently in its current form. No more changes or adjustments or deletions. No more questions - Just Do It!

Congress or at least parts of it have proposed changes and adjustments and want the time to discuss them amongst themselves and with the White House. They even proposed a 3 month extension to the Patriot Act as it is right now so that they can have the time to fully evaluate it.

I don't blame them - after all, the Patriot Act was passed when passions were still strong and now it is on the table for passage to be permanent. Unfortunately, this is not a NO BRAINER. There are many issues with the Patriot Act. Even conservative politicians and talk show hosts have serious problems with part of it. That's why it is a wise and good thing to discuss it more before making the decisions for our future generations.

There was less debate and concern with Social Security when it was passed and look at the effects and controversy.

The President unfortunately, is not interested in any discussion about it. He brought it to the public's attention and was almost if not angry when he spoke about it on television the other night. He's trying to do an end run around the politicians that serve us - both Republicans and Democrats that are concerned. If Larry Craig is concerned, many that call themselves conservatives should be concerned as well.

The Governator of California tried a similar tactic. The politicians did not like some of his proposals so he put it on the ballot in a referrendum for Californians to decide. They told him "No, Thanks" in as loud a voice as I've heard. The President in my opinion, is making the same mistake in trying to bring this to the citizenry directly. He doesn't seem to understand that it is the citizenry that brought up many of these concerns with the Patriot Act in the first place. Mr President, your political consultants are leading you down the wrong path sir.

So there we have it. A game of brinksmanship to see who blinks first. Are we that afraid of no Patriot Act existing? The White House should really take what they can get and accept adjustments or a temporary extension and not play political games.

Oh, well - maybe I am wrong and Carl Rove is right on this one. Who knows?

Sunday, December 18, 2005

World Trade Organization (WTO) not very popular

Seems like some people like to travel to Hong Kong to make a point - even if it involves getting arrested.

What Could US Mexico Border Fence look like?

It seems that President Fox of Mexico doesn't like the idea of an actual fence between his northern border and the United States. How dare the good old U.S. of A even think of resisting or impeding illegal border crossings?

Some have asked what a border fence could look like. Well, I decided to look at flickr to see if there were any examples of what the Israelis put up between themselves and areas which they wanted to stop uncontrolled border crossings.

Here's an example.

I have read descriptions in the news media saying that the US-Mexico one will be a double fence with a road in between. Supposedly they have a few miles of it in San Diego already.

Keep in mind that this dual fence system is not meant to be 100% illegal crossing proof. It is meant to make an illegal crossing much more difficult through various effects.

1. Funnel those that don't want to go over to the ends of the fence.
2. Slow down those that choose to go over at this point. Perhaps slow them down enough that they may be detected and detained.
3. Focus detection in the middle area between the fences so that there are less false alarms and thereby make Border Patrol dispatches to detection zones more fruitful and efficient.
4. Increase the costs in time, money and effort for those wishing to cross the border illegally.

You know in some ways, it is starting to sound like the purpose of putting minefields - not that I would advocate minefields for this purpose - but to a military mind, a minefield is to funnel or channel the opposing force or to slow them down.

Here's an article by a law prof ( no guarantees ) with an interesting opinion about border fences.

Friday, December 16, 2005

House Approves Border Fence

It begins folks.

Whether it will get built is another question but at least passing this bill is quite a shock to me. 700 miles. That's how long it is. More than a 1000 more to go and of course, the Senate and the President. If the anti-illegal-immigration folks would get their act together, maybe, just maybe, this will get through the Senate as well.

You know, when they say that a higher minimum wage will cause people to lose jobs and affect the economy in a huge way it is generally not true. Sure, some businesses don't hire another guy or may even lay off one or two but seldom do they close down the whole show.

Saying that building this fence will cause the closure of companies is the same kind of exaggeration. Unless of course, the majority of their employees are illegal immigrants anyway. In which case, I don't mind a company that has to close because it chooses to flout the law by hiring known illegals. By having less illegal immigrants taking the low paying jobs, the job rates WILL go up if the job really needs to be done. That's basic economics. If the supply is lowered, the price WILL go up until supply matches demand. Of course, demand will go down at a higher price but at least everything will be legal.

Again, I don't expect this to actually get passed AND signed but then.... I have a dream.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Herndon Minutemen Up the Ante on Hiring Illegals

I was listening to a local radio station today and it seems that the Minutemen in Herndon, VA that I mentioned in an earlier post have been tracking some of the companies that hire or pick up supposedly undocumented (illegal) aliens and their activities.

They have also been reporting these companies to the IRS and the Vriginia Department of Taxation for possible tax evasion issues.

See here and here for news reports.

On a slightly different note, for those of you that are in the United States on a F-1 visa (student visa), be very careful to remain totally legal in any employment situation. You could easily jeopardize not only your continuted stay as a student, but also future opportunities to become a permanent resident (aka legal immigrant) or legal temporary worker. See this posting and this.

Friday, December 09, 2005

American Torture or Not?

A few campaigns back Ross Perot said in response to something about endangered species. He basically said that making sure that a family did not starve was more important than any endangered species.

Not that I want to argue that point but he was just trying to give a practical perspective.

So, lots of people are up in arms about torture by the American government or military forces huh? Absolutely no torture should be allowed or necessary right? No exceptions whatsoever?

Imagine - and it should not be too difficult:

1. Terrorist drives truck from Canada with WMD (take your pick of bio or chemical or nuke).
2. Terrorist goes to NYC, plants it and leaves.
3. FBI catches him with 10 hours to go on the device. They know he knows and they know it is set to go off soon.

Let's not torture him and let hundreds/thousands/millions of New Yorkers die so that we can claim to have never tortured this guy? Really, is that what you want? Are American Citizens in New York worth less than hands clean of torture?

Loudoun County - Part III

Even though the development was basically confined to the eastern half of the county, it generally filled in from the eastern side (nearer Washington D.C.) and slowly crept west. As that line of development moved westwards like a slow ocean tide coming in, the property taxes of the farmers in the western half of the county went up.

The really funny thing about all this was that the new couples and families moving into the eastern part of Loudoun county had no clue that they were being used by the Horse Money(tm) folks. They were just happy to get a decent house that was new. Some of the older residents on the east knew better and they started complaining about the increased crowding and traffic.

This went on for a while with the Horse Money caucus agreeing hand in hand with the developers and it went on for years through several changes in the Board of Supervisors. However, one day something big changed. The developers looked ahead into the future and realized that space was running out on the eastern half of the county. Where were they going to build next?

They wanted to buy and develop land. Who wanted to sell land because they couldn' afford it any more? So now, there were 'allies' in the farmers bordering the eastern part of the county. Finally, some of the farmers saw that their solution was to sell their land at a substantial gain, stop paying the property taxes that had been climbing and I am sure some of them wanted to stick it to the Horse Money people that caused this whole thing to start in the first place. If only the Horse Money had left things well alone in the beginning - it wouldn't have gotten this bad this fast.

Of course the Horse Money didn't want the farmers to sell their land to developers! Why, that would mean that suburbia would become their neighbors! People living in the new townhouses could see them riding their fine equines! How unpleasant! How could those farmers do this to us? How could those developers dare to encroach on our area after all that we have done supporting their development in the east? Traitors!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Hong Kong marches for Democracy - what does America do?

It appears that somewhere up to a quarter million people thought it worthwhile to make a real statement for their aspirations for real democracy. They decided to march on the streets and show their govenment what they wanted. Keep in mind that all the Hong Kong government has to do is cough and nod their head and the tanks will start rolling down those same streets like they did in Tiananmen Square not too many years ago.

Back then, Bush #1 supported the people of China verbally.

Here's another report.

These people understand that they risk imprisonment and worse and they are willing risk it all for democracy. So, what are the both the Republicans and Democrats doing or saying about it? Not a whole lot. The only thing I could find was this.

If the Democrats really want to show how lacking the President is in the leadership department - even in the international matters, they can take this one to the bank and laugh while doing it. Why am I not holding my breath?