Friday, August 29, 2008

Only in America

Did you notice that at the end of the Democratic Convention when Senator Obama came back out on the stage and he was joined by his family and Senator Joe Biden that the song they were playing was "Only in America" by Brooks and Dunn? I was surprised. It is not that I don't think Democrats also like country music or that Democrats don't love America and can enjoy songs that celebrate what a great country this is, but I was surprised that they would feature that song. I guess I thought that song had been claimed as a Republican song . I think of "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow" as a Democrat song and forever will me associated in my mind with the Clinton campaign. I would not expect Republicans to play it at their convention. This issue was addressed in Beverly Keel's column today in the Tennessean (link). It seems that "Only in America" has been used in campaigns of both political parties. Brooks and Dunn are Republicans. The co-writer of the song is Don Cook, founder of Music Row Democrats.

I love this song. It makes me happy every time I hear it. When I read the words I get a lump in my throat. I love this country and think America is a unique place and an exceptional country in world history. As Ronald Reagan said, we are that shinning city on a hill. This song expresses patriotism without being overly maudlin or jingoistic. Below are the lyrics. Click on the song title to see the video.

Sun coming up over New York City
School bus driver in a traffic jam
Starin' at the faces in her rearview mirror
Looking at the promise of the Promised Land
One kid dreams of fame and fortune
One kid helps pay the rent
One could end up going to prison
One just might be president
Only in America
Dreaming in red, white and blue
Only in America
Where we dream as big as we want to
We all get a chance
Everybody gets to dance
Only in America

Sun going down on an La. freeway
Newlyweds in the back of a limousine
A welder's son and a banker's daughter
All they want is everything
She came out here to be an actress
He was the singer in a band
They just might go back to Oklahoma
And talk about the stars they could have been
Only in America
Where we dream in red, white and blue
Only in America
Where we dream as big as we want to
We all get a chance
Everybody gets to dance
Only in America

Yeah only in America
Where we dream in red, white and blue
Yeah we dream as big as we want to

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This is the clip that Obama does not want you to see.

The Obama campaign has used persuasion, threats of lawsuits and economic might in an all-out effort to suppress this video. They have written the Justice Department demanding an investigation of American Issues, the organization responsible for the ad, claiming the ad violates federal election laws. The Obama campaign has vowed not to purchase campaign advertising from any media outlet that carries the ad and is threatening to organized supporters to punish any TV station and those who advertise on any station that carries this ad. So far their suppression has succeeded. Both CNN and Fox have announced they will not carry the advertisement.

This ad questions Obama’s relationship with Bill Ayers and his wife Bernadine Dohrn, unrepentant domestic 60’s terrorist and co-founders of The Weather Underground. The Weather Underground described itself as the “Red Army in America” and declared war on The United States. They engaged in bombings, jailbreaks, and instigated violent riots. They bombed government buildings, banks, police stations, police cars, state and federal courthouses, state prison administrative offices, military recruiting stations, National Guard facilities, and university facilities with military or government connections. Several people were killed in connection with these bombings. Their most famous bombing was the bombing of the U. S. Capitol building in 1971.

Benadine Dohrn is every bit as radical as Ayers. Like Dohrn she engaged in revolutionary activity. Following the Charles Manson killings, Dohrn’s comment was “"Dig it! First they killed those pigs and then they put a fork in their bellies. Wild!"

The ad Obama seeks to suppress does not allege that Obama was in any way part of the Weather terrorist activity. Obama was only eight years old when the Weather Underground was formed. Obama has said Ayers is “just a guy in the neighborhood.” Ayers and his wife Bernardine Dohrn are now tenured professors at the University of Illinois. Ayers and Dohrn hosted a fund-raising party for Obama which launched his first bid for public office. Ayers and Mr. Obama have served on the board together of a Chicago-based charity.

To be fair to Obama, one may have casual acquaintances with unsavory characters and not be aware of their past. People that you may not approve of may give you campaign contributions. It is also possible you may sit on the boards of organizations and have nothing in common with the other board members except the project at hand. We should be cautious to jump to conclusions and allege guilt by association. Nevertheless, I want to know how close of a friendship there is between Ayers and Dohrn, and Obama. I think the Obama association with Ayers needs be be explored. Was the relationship just a casual association or does Obama share the values of Ayers and Dohrn?

The ad ask, "How much do your really know about Barack Obama? What does he really believe?” Obama is very likely to be the next President. Is it inappropriate to question his association with people like Ayers and Dohrn? I would like to know more and I would like to know what Obama really believes.

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Gustav May Help the Party

Some good news for Republicans! No; not the nomination for VP of Palin, although that is good news. The good news I am speaking of is that hurricane Gustav may actually help the Republican Party.

I was reading in the morning’s paper about the preparations being made in case Gustav hits New Orleans. It appears they are ready this time. Seven hundred buses are standing by to evacuate those without transportation. A plan to make sure everyone knows to evacuate including blanketing the city with policemen with bull horns to announce the evacuation is in place. The city does not plan to have any shelters of last resort this time which was such a disaster during Katrina. Detailed plans are in place for the evacuation. FEMA and the Red Cross are standing by. Host cities are standing by. Nashville is among those cities prepared to accept evacuees and we know where they will go and what we will do when they get here.

Katrina was a disaster and there was enough blame to go around but President Bush ended up taking the brunt of the criticism. I always thought the blame should have started with the mayor, then the governor and then the Bush administration. If Hagan would have had a better plan in place the disaster could have been avoided. I remember seeing on TV hundreds of inundated school buses that could have been used to evacuate people. That was Ray Nagin's fault not the fault of George Bush. Unfortunately, weather it is teenage pregnancy or drunk driving or crime or a natural disaster, many people tend to think the solutions must come from Washington and if things aren’t going well then it is Washington’s fault. The idea of individual responsibility, local self-government, and federalism seems to be fading in America.

With the Republican convention to start Monday, the news article I just read focused on the political implications of Hurricane Gustav. The first political consideration is whether or not the convention should be delayed. It may look unseemly to start the convention on Monday if Gustav is a major hit on New Orleans immediately prior to the convention opening. Another possible impact is that if Gustav hits a wallop on New Orleans and the evacuation goes off without a hitch, a lot of the blame heaped on President Bush and by association the Republican Party for the failure of the Katrina response, will be blunted. On the other hand, if it goes poorly again, the Party will suffer

Here is the part that I consider potential good news: ‘The white House is also concerned that Gustav will throw Bush’s schedule off, and possibly force him to cancel his McCain-boosting, farewell appearance as Monday night’s star at the Republican National Convention.”

I have been apprehensive about how the Republicans can handle Bush. You cannot, not allow the sitting President of your party to address the convention. However, with Bush’s popularity so low, and the Democrats trying to paint a McCain win as Bush’s third term, I do not see Bush’s presence at the convention as a boost but instead as a drag. McCain needs to put as much distance between his campaign and president Bush as possible. People do not need to be reminded that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. They do not need to be reminded of signing statements and spying on Americans in violation of established law, and run-away spending and appointment of unqualified cronies to high positions. Bush’s presence will just remind people of what a failure and embarrassment Bush has been.

I want to forget why I am disgruntled and instead look to the future and see John McCain elected president. The best that we could hope for is that Bush would make some little forgettable speech lightly praising John McCain and then disappear. Now however, Bush may not show up at all. That would be great news! I don’t want New Orleans to get hit by another major hurricane, but if the threat of a hurricane can keep Bush from attending the Republican convention, that would be a Godsend.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Obama's 'Weatherman' Connection


There has been a sudden spate of blog items and newspaper articles, mainly in the British press, linking Barack Obama to a former member of the radical Weather Underground Organization that claimed responsibility for a dozen bombings between 1970 and 1974. The former Weatherman, William Ayers, now holds the position of distinguished professor of education at the University of Illinois-Chicago. Although never convicted of any crime, he told the New York Times in September 2001, "I don't regret setting bombs...I feel we didn't do enough." (link)
Comment: The above is from the Washington Post's Fact Checker column about the Obama-Ayers connections. What is the truth and does it matter?

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Joe Biden on Barack Obama

Biden on Obama for voting against funding U.S. Troops In Iraq And Afghanistan:

"And, look, Tim, if you tell me I've got to take away this protection for these kids in order to win the election, some things aren't worth it. Some things are worth losing over. That would be worth losing over. Hundreds of lives are being saved and will be saved by us sending these vehicles over which we are funding with this supplemental legislation. And I want to ask any of my other colleagues, would they, in fact, vote to cut off the money for those troops to protect them? That's the right question. This isn't cutting off the war. This is cutting off support that will save the lives of thousands of American troops."
~NBC's Meet The Press, 9/9/07

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

3 AM

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Democratic Convention Lineup

Denver, Colorado

4:00 PM – Opening Flag Burning Ceremony
4:05 PM – Singing of “God Damn America” led by Rev. Jeremiah Wright
4:10 PM – Pledge of Allegiance to Obama
4:15 PM – Ceremonial Terrorist Fist-Jab led by Michelle Obama
4:30 PM – Joe Biden Acceptance Speech
5:30 PM – Joe Biden Acceptance Speech
6:30 PM – Joe Biden Acceptance Speech
7:00 PM – Tips on Dodging Sniper Fire – Hillary Clinton
7:15 PM – Jesse Jackson Spaying and Neutering Clinic
7:30 PM – UFO Abduction Survival Tips – Dennis Kucinich
7:45 PM – John Edwards Speaks on “Family Values” via Satellite from Hotel Bathroom
8:00 PM – Eliot Spitzer Speaks on “Family Values” via Satellite from Emperors VIP Club
8:15 PM – Tribute to All 57 States Obama Has Visited
8:30 PM – Ceremonial Setting Aside of Grievances by the Clintons
8:45 PM – Hillary Clinton Releases Her Delegates, Flying Monkeys
9:00 PM – Bill Clinton Delivers Rousing Endorsement of Obama Girl
9:15 PM – Tribute Film to Freedom Fighters at Gitmo – Michael Moore
9:30 PM – Celebrities Gone Wild for Obama – Paris Hilton and Britney Spears
9:45 PM – Personal Finance Seminar – Congressman William “Cold Cash” Jefferson
10:00 PM – Denunciation of Bitter and Clingy Gun Owners
10:30 PM – Ceremonial Denial of Progress in Iraq and Waving of White Flag
11:00 PM – Obama Energy Plan Symposium/Tire Gauge Demonstration
11:15 PM – Free Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick Pep Rally
11:30 PM – Al Gore Accepts Tony and Latin Grammy Awards
11:45 PM – Feeding of the Delegates with 5 Loaves and 2 Fish – Obama Presiding
12:00 PM – Official Nomination of Obama via Text Message Sent by Scarlett Johansson
12:01 AM – Barack Obama Accepts Nomination for Lord and Savior
12:05 AM – Celestial Choirs Sing
3:00 AM – Hillary Clinton Delivers Acceptance Speech
Lifted from Worthalaugh.com

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Che Guevara


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Confederate Belt Buckles and Che Guevara


Recently in Clinton, Tennessee a teenager's free-speech lawsuit against the Anderson County School Board ended in a mistrial when a jury in federal court failed to reach a verdict.

The teenager, Tommy Defoe, routinely wore a Confederate belt buckle to school in violation of a dress code that bars the Confederate symbol from student clothing. By the time he finished school last fall he had been suspended more than 40 times for wearing Confederate flag apparel.
While many consider the flag a symbol of racism, DeFoe said he considered it an emblem of Southern heritage.

Usually cases such as this are dismissed by judges or settled out of court. It is rare that such cases go to trial. The attorney for Defoe is quoted as saying, "The fact that we have gotten this far and the fact that we came so close to a victory ... should send a message to all school boards in the country that if you are banning things based on the fact that it is offensive, that violates the Constitution,"

I know that the Confederate symbol has been appropriated by the Klan and other White power hate groups, but it has also been used to simply denote Southern identity and is often associated with everything from Southern Rock music to NASCAR to college football. I have no way of knowing the motivation of Defoe in wearing the Confederate Flag.

I generally support school dress codes, and without having set through the trail I do not know how I would have voted. If the dress code banned all slogans and emblems and symbols as clothing or clothing accessories, I would have had to support the school board. If the Confederate flag was specified as a banned item of clothing but not other controversial symbols, I would have to side with Defoe.

I am certain that many find the Confederate Flag offensive, but I do not think that that is sufficient justification for banning it. I do not think we have the right not to be offended. There are other symbols that I find as offensive as I am sure some liberals find the Confederate flag. If we are going to be selective about the symbols we ban, I would start by banning the peace sign (link) and images of Che Guevara.

Che has become chic. Images of Che Guevara have become popular items of clothing accessories among celebrities and the youth. Many decent liberal parents would be outraged if their teenage son wore a swastika or Confederate flag but never bat an eye at their child wearing a Che Guevara necklace or tee shirt. These otherwise decent people somehow never have equated Communism with evil the same way they do Nazism or even the Confederacy. Ask a liberal what their response would be if their teenage son was to wear an image of Hitler around his neck. How do you think they would respond?

Che Guevara was a murdering Communist revolutionary terrorist and in South America attempted to bring about Communist revolution. In Cuba, he was Chief executioner for the Castro regime responsible for the murder of thousands. As Cuban’s Minister of Economics and the Minister of Industries he was responsible for the total destruction of the Cuban economy. Productive factories were closed and food rationing implemented. Thousands of Cuba’s most productive citizens risked their lives and took to the open sea on makeshift rafts with only the clothes on their back to escape the police state created by Fidel and Che. These people are real heroes, not the jailer they were escaping; yet liberal parents think it cute if their teen wears Che apparel.

When Che is banned, talk to me about the Confederate flag.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

A Tribute to Senator Edward Kennedy


In Memory of Mary Jo Kopechne

Remember the Chappaquiddick incident? Six older married men party with six young single women known as the "Boiler Room Girls," all of whom had worked in the Bobby Kennedy Presidential campaign. Ted Kennedy leaves the party a little after 11 PM with Mary Jo Kopechne. The car runs off of a bridge and ends upside down in the water. Kennedy allegedly swims to safety and Mary Jo drowns. Kennedy does not report the accident until the next day. A thorough investigation is never conducted. Kennedy was found guilty of leaving the scene of an accident and had his drivers licence suspended for a year. Thirty-five years later there are still a lot of unanswered questions. If this had happened to anyone but a Kennedy in Massachusetts more questions would have been asked. Did Ted Kennedy got away with murder?

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Joe Biden: His own Word on Obama's Experience

“… the presidency is not something that lends itself to on the job training.”~ Joe Biden

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Drill Here; Drill Now!

Both presidential candidates are pandering on energy policy, and a gullible public, sick of high gas prices and who have little understanding of economics, is buying it.

If we lift the Congressional ban on most oil drilling off our coasts and in ANWR, this would do nothing in the short term to lower gas prices. It would take ten years before new oil would come to market even if we started today. OK, some will say, if we would have started ten years ago, we would be better off today. If we start now that oil will be coming to market in ten years; so get started!

I agree we should drill offshore and in ANWAR, but it will have no impact on oil prices now and probably none in the future. Drilling in ANWR and offshore will have minimal environmental impact. The drilling site footprint in ANWR is the equivalent of putting a postage stamp on a football field. Offshore drilling is environmentally safe. There is a greater danger of an oil tanker springing a leak than there is of accidental spillage from an oil derrick.

I think we should have a national objective to wean ourselves off of oil and transition to clean energy. For the foreseeable future, however, as we increase our use of other alternatives, we will still need oil. If we are going to continue to need oil, I would prefer for more of that oil to be drilled at home.

Many chatter and bloggers and pundits advocating “drill hear; drill now” claim that if we would only drill we could return to $1.50 gas prices and achieve energy independence. Opening these oil fields will do little to lower gas prices.

We do not have a National Oil company that is required to sell oil drilled in America to Americans at a discounted price. We are not Venezuela or Mexico. Oil taken from ANWR or offshore will not belong to the American people but will belong to the company that drills it. That oil will not be cheap oil and there is a worldwide market for oil, not just an American market. The value of oil drilled in America will still be valued at the market price for oil. While any increase in supply will have some impact on prices, the new contribution to oil supply will be minimal. ANWR oil would add only 1 to 2 percent to the overall world oil supply. The oil cartel can simply cut production to match any new supply from these oil fields and prices will not be affected.

The new oil drilled in ANWAR and offshore, may not even serve American markets. If the oil companies find it more cost effective to sell the oil in Japan than in America, that is where the oil will go. While we should not expect new oil from ANWR or offshore to lower prices, there are two advantages to drilling American oil. One advantage is the balance of trade. When we buy oil or anything else from foreign markets dollars flow out of America. Increasing domestic oil production will lower the U.S. trade deficit and strengthen the dollar.

The other advantage is that American production of oil will enhance American security. While most of our imported oil comes from our friends Canada and Mexico, much of it comes from unfriendly regimes. By purchasing oil from these unfriendly countries we fund Muslim terrorist and hostile states. Also, in time of crisis these countries could shut off the oil spigot and wreck our economy and hold American foreign policy hostage to their oil.

For balance of trade reasons and national security reasons, increasing production of American oil makes sense, but don’t expect offshore drilling or ANWR to lower the price at the pump.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

The Idiocy of Energy Independence

John Stossel Wednesday, August 20, 2008

It's amazing how ideas with no merit become popular merely because they sound good.

Most every politician and pundit says "energy independence" is a great idea. Presidents have promised it for 35 years. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we were self-sufficient, protected from high prices, supply disruptions and political machinations?

The hitch is that even if the United States were energy independent, it would be protected from none of those things. To think otherwise is to misunderstand basic economics and the global marketplace. (link)

Comment: While reducing dependence on foreign oil is an admirable goal, energy independence is neither desirable nor achievable. Stossel explains why.

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Are Illegal Mexican Immigrants Causing a Crime Wave?

In any discussion of the immigration issue, someone is bound to mention all the crime committed by illegal immigrants. Likewise, if the discussion is about crime, someone will always bring up illegal immigration as a cause. In Nashville, we have had several news stories in the last few years in which illegal immigrants were perpetrators of horrific crimes. There is a perception that illegal Mexican immigrants commit a lot of crime and should be feared. It may be considered "common knowledge," but it is completely untrue that illegal immigrants are causing a crime wave in America.

First, people are simply wrong in thinking we have a crime wave. Violent crime has been steadily declining since 1993, and in 2005 it reached its lowest level ever recorded. Property crime has been on a downward trend since 1973. Within the last two years, there has been a slight increase in crime. It is still too early, however, to say the downward trend is reversing or even leveling off. One can certainly not conclude we are experiencing a "crime wave." For some reason, it seems like people simply do not like good news; they always want to believe things are "worse than ever." In regards to crime, as in many other areas of life, we have never had it so good. When it comes to crime, these are the "good ol’ days." (To see crime stats go to: Bureau of Justice)

Secondly, immigrants, whether legal or illegal, are more law abiding than your average citizen. The article posted below from the Arizona Star examines a study on the issue of crime and immigration. It concludes that the statistics do not support the widely held belief that greater immigration means more crime. Another article published in the current issue of Newsweek, also posted below, examines immigration and crime. It finds that the safest American cities are cities with many of immigrants.

It is surprising that immigrant crime is as low as it is. Crimes are most typically committed by young, single men; Among immigrants, there are more young, single men than compared to the general population. Because of this, it seems like one should expect the crime rate among immigrants to be higher, not lower. This does not intend to imply, however, that illegal immigration is problem-free. Like most people, I believe we need to control our borders, and we need to know who is in our country. We need to address the immigration issue. We have a problem with immigration, but this does not mean we should let myths become common knowledge. We must also guard against nativistic bigotry, which may keep us from thinking logically about the important issue of immigration.

Some will say all illegal immigrants are criminals because they committed the crime of entering the country illegally. This statement is clever, but we know that the misdemeanor crime of illegal-entry into the country is not what people are talking about when they complain about crime committed by immigrants.

With all of this said however, one area that is of legitimate concern is the high incidence of drunk driving by illegal, Hispanic immigrants. While hard numbers on this issue are hard to find, it seems undeniable this is a serious problem. Exactly why though is not clear. Possibly there are no social stigmas, or perhaps no strict DUI laws established or enforced, within their country of origin. Maybe they are unaware of American, DUI laws. What ever the reason, there does seem to be a DUI problem associated with Hispanic, illegal immigrants, and the DUI laws should be strictly enforced. In Nashville, the Sheriff now has the authority to act as an enforcer of immigration law. As a result, an arrest for drunk driving could lead to the deportation of the caught illegal immigrant. I feel this is a positive development.

Illegal immigrants may be know to have too many cars parked on the lawns of single, family homes. They may violate housing codes by having too many people share an apartment. But when it comes to violent crime, it is a myth that illegal immigrants are responsible for an increase in American crime rates.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Great Movie: Mad City

I have become a real movie buff and watch a lot of movies. Most of them I think are “pretty good” but few would I go out of my way to recommend. Last night I watched a great flick. If you are looking for something to add to your Netflixs or Blockbuster queue, let me suggest Mad City.
Mad City is essentially a story of media manipulation. Here is the review as reported by Starplus.com.

Investigative TV journalist Max Brackett (Dustin Hoffman) suffers setbacks and winds up filing routine reports from Madeline, California. Max and his eager intern Laurie (Mia Kirshner) are doing a story at the local Museum of Natural History when a bigger story erupts. The Museum's director, Mrs. Banks (Blythe Danner), refuses to talk to former museum security guard Sam Baily (John Travolta) about his firing due to budget cuts. Angered, Sam shoots a shotgun, accidentally hitting another security guard. Realizing he's in the middle of breaking news, Max phones his supervisor (Robert Prosky) and goes to live coverage. A class of young children is visiting the Museum, and Sam holds them hostage. Sam's link to the outside world is the opportunistic Max, who manipulates the situation, telling Sam what to say on
camera. Within hours, as the event escalates to national interest, vendors
arrive to hawk products at the museum grounds, while the entire country tunes in
the ongoing coverage.
This film in some ways echoes some of the same themes of another great movie, Dog Day Afternoon. Both films deal with a tense situation, hostages, and the roll of public relations and the impact of a media circus.

When is reporting the news, making the news? This is an intense riveting story that explores important issues. Hoffman and Travolta are great! This movie will keep you on the edge of your seat. See this movie.

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Learn Chinese in 5 Minutes

(You MUST read them aloud)

English ---------------------Chinese

That's not right!------------ ----Sum Ting Wong

Are you harboring a fugitive? ---Hu Yu Hai Ding

See me ASAP -------------------Kum Hia Nao

Stupid Man ---------------------Dum Fuk

Small Horse ---------------------Tai Ni Po Ni

Did you go to the beach? ---------Wai Yu So Tan

I bumped into a coffee table! -----Ai Bang Mai Fu Kin Ni

I think you need a face lift! -------Chin Tu Fat

It's very dark in here! -----------Wai So Dim

I thought you were on a diet! ----Wai Yu Mun Ching

This is a tow away zone! ---------No Pah King

Our meeting is scheduled for next week!- Wai Yu Kum Nao

Staying out of sight --------------Lei Ying Lo

He's cleaning his automobile -----Wa Shing Ka

Your body odor is offensive ------Yu Stin Ki Pu

Great ----------------------------Fa Kin Su Pa

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Monday, August 18, 2008

English Only

I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women,
French to men and German to my horse

~Holy Roman Emperor Charles V

I don't know about that accent son
Just where do you come from

~From Where I Come From, by Alan Jackson

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English-only law would risk lives

by Gail Kerr, The Tennessean, August 17, 2008

As election commission officials count the signatures that may lead to a vote on offering city services only in English, a recent memo serves up some startling information about the resulting dangers.(link)

Commentary

I think Gail Kerr's argument is undeniable; approval of the English-only proposal will endanger public safety.

For public safety and public health, I think certain government services should be provided in languages in addition to English. I am grateful the Health Department can brief food service workers in a language they clearly understand. I am glad that if a Spanish-speaking person is diagnosed with a communicable disease, such as highly contagious tuberculosis, that a Spanish-speaking person can question them about who they have come in contact. When a crime is being investigated and a witness's primary language is Spanish, I want the police to be able to question them in Spanish. If my house is on fire and I am away and my next door neighbor reporting the fire speaks only halting English, I want there to be a Spanish speaking person at the 911 call center. The proposed English-only bill, which, apparently will be on the ballot as a proposed charter amendment, will cost the city in lives, dollars, and reputation if it becomes law. It deserves to be defeated.

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Homeowners Notch Win in Long-Running Battle Over Eminent Domain

Pamela A. MacLean, Law.com, 08-11-2008

A New Jersey appellate court handed a victory to homeowners in a long-running eminent domain dispute with the city of Long Branch, N.J., finding no actual blight in an area set for condemnation and redevelopment.

The case by a group of long-term residents of the coastal strip drew the attention of land use specialists and landowner rights advocates from around the country in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's 2005 decision allowing cities to use eminent domain to take "blighted" land from one private owner to give to another for development. (link)

Commentary
I realize that if a similar case went to trial in Nashville, it would have to be decided by defining "blight" under Tennessee law. I am not a lawyer and do not know how such a suit would turn out. However, I would be very surprised if Joy Ford's modest neat brick one story building could be found to be blighted under any rational definition of the term. I would be surprised if Tennessee defines blight less restrictively than New Jersey.
It appear that the Joy Ford case is going to be solved. The developer and MDHA decided they did not have to take her property in order to go forward with the proposed development after all. They have offered her a large sum of money for a portion of her parking. This however is still a case of negotiating while some one has a gun to your head. Joy will probably decide to accept the lucrative offer rather than fight a costly court battle. I don't blame her. However, I would like to have seen this go to court. Property should not be considered "blighted" just because someone else has a better use for the property. Property owners should be able to be secure in knowing that they have a right to their property.
While it appears that eminent domain condemnation was avoided in the case of Joy Ford, the right of the government to take your property on behalf of a developer is secure. Citizens in redevelopment zones must still negotiate with potential buyers while the government holds a gun to their head.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tyson’s Foods Backs Down, Reinstates Labor Day

Tyson Foods has announced they have reached a new agreement with their union and will not substitute a Muslim holiday for Labor Day beyond this first year. In the future employees will be given a floating holiday which may be the Muslim holiday, the employees birthday, or any other day of the employee’s choosing.

When I first read the report that Tyson Foods was agreeing to a union contract that replaced Labor Day with a Muslim holiday at its chicken processing plant in Shelbyville, I predicted that there would be an outpouring of outrage. (link) There was. This substitution of the Muslim holiday for labor day only occurred at this one plant where 700 of the 1000 employees are Somali refugees and are Muslim.

The chatters and bloggers have been going nuts ever since this story broke. The peasants-with-pitchforks crowd have been in frenzy.

“Marshall Earp” a chatter at Republican Party posted the story about the holiday change and titled his post “Tyson Supports Terrorist.” Other chatters were equally outraged and bombastic. Sometimes the Internet can take on a mob mentality. Chatters were encouraging each other to call Tyson’s and complain and chatters were vowing never to purchase Tyson’s products again. One chatter said so many people where calling Tyson’s that their phone lines were jammed for days.

Some of the websites that were encouraging this response were decidedly Christian and patriotic. I am sure this attitude is not going to win many Christian converts and it doesn’t make me want to proclaim myself a Christian. Religion and patriotism are unfortunately often used as a cover for bigotry. Some of the chatters made the argument that if the shoe was on the other foot and we were in a Muslim nation that we would not be accommodated in this manner. I don’t understand that logic. Aren’t we supposed to be more democratic and more tolerant than fanatical Muslim regimes and police states? Is our goal be like those Muslim nations of whom we disapprove?

In World War II, America imprisoned thousands of Americans of Japanese ancestry for the simply crime of being Japanese. We have since apologized and condemned that action. Unfortunately, I don’t think we have come very far and we are just as capable of doing the same thing again.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Nashville Showdown Over Eminent Domain Avoided

It looks like a showdown over eminent domain in Nashville has been avoided and the Lionstone Development will go forward and Joy Ford will get to keep her property. Under a new proposal by Metro Development and Housing Agency (MDHA) and Houston-based developer The Lionstone Group, Lionstone would purchase a portion of the parking lot that surrounds Ms Ford’s office. Ford would be able to continue operating Country International Records at its current location.

Previously, MDHA had deemed the property “blighted” and was intending to take the property by eminent domain condemnation. The neat but simple brick building housing County International Records is located in the middle of a redevelopment district. MDHA had sought to acquire the Ford’s property on behalf of the developer who is planning a $70 million office tower on the adjacent property. Previously MDHA had taken the position that the development could not occur unless Ms Ford’s property was acquired. Ms Ford did not want to sell, so the city was going to use the power of eminent domain to take her property.

The Tennessean had editorialized against the proposed condemnation and talk show callers and Internet chatters had condemned the condemnation. Several Metro Council members said they were considering proposing legislation that would block the eminent domain action.

It looks like MDHA saw they were likely to lose and backed down, and what do you know? The development can occur without using the iron fist of government to take someone’s property.

To read more about this case, click the label “Joy Ford” in the sidebar to the left.

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Saturday, August 9, 2008

Mother and Baby subjected to Inhumane Treatment

by David Morales

Maybe some of you are aware, thanks to an article published Monday, August 4, in the Tennessean, of the plight of Juana Villegas, an undocumented Mexican national that was pulled over on July 3 for a minor traffic violation in the city of Berry Hill. Berry Hill is a small "satellite" city within Metropolitan Nashville-Davidson County and has its own police force. Because Mrs. Villegas did not have a license, the officer kept her there with her three children for an hour until a relative arrived to drive the vehicle home.

At that moment, the officer arrested her. He told her that she had "two seconds to say goodbye to her children", arrested her in front of them, and then delivered her to the Sheriff's office, where she was researched and found to be undocumented, at which time an immigration hold was placed on her.

Sadly, the story is typical of what has been happening since May of last year, during which time more than 3,500 foreign nationals have been processed by the Sheriff's department for deportation, mostly for minor offenses. What has made this case unique, and at this point, a national and international story, is that she was 9 months pregnant and 3 day from delivery. The Berry Hill officer, Sgt. Tim Coleman, was aware of this fact, and even though she presented her vehicle registration and a consular ID from the Mexican government, he decided to arrest her, instead of citing her. According to Chief Serpas, the guidelines for Metro police are that proof of ID such as what Mrs. Villegas presented is sufficient to issue a citation and not arrest the person. Metro Police Department was also very quick to issue a statement that they are in no way related to the Berry Hill Police Department.

Also aware that Mrs Vallegas was pregnant was the Sheriff's office. Nevertheless, she was held in detention due to her immigration status, even though the policy of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is, for humanitarian reasons, not to detain people in her situation, but rather cite them for immigration proceedings.

Mrs. Villegas water broke on July 5, around 10:00 PM, and she was taken about an hour later to Nashville General Hospital. There, she was forced to undress in front of the deputy (a male) and was shackled by the arm and the leg until the delivery started. Soon after delivery, she was shackled again, and spent the rest of her recovery time at the hospital like this. Even to use the toilet and clean up, she was shackled from both ankles. She was not allowed to speak to her husband and the room phone was disconnected. Her husband was not informed of the birth, and only found out when he was told to come and pick up the baby, because the mother was being taken back to jail. He was not allowed to see her, even at this moment.

At this time, about to head back to jail and separated from her child, the nurses at Nashville General gave her a breast pump, but the deputies did not allow her to use it or take it. Throughout the ordeal, nurses felt so helpless about the situation that they repeatedly found themselves in tears. She was returned to a shared cell, where her pleas for pain medication were ignored. (Those who know say that engorged breasts are horrendously painful.) She developed a breast infection, while her child, separated from her, became jaundiced due to a very high bilirubin level of 14. In layman terms, the baby's liver was failing, due to the lack of her mother's milk. Mrs. Villegas was finally released eight days after her detention, at 3:00 AM, as soon as ICE took over her custody from the Sheriff. ICE released her for humanitarian reasons, although she currently remains in deportation proceedings.

Sgt. Coleman never told Mrs. Villegas why she was pulled over. His report only states "careless driving", without giving details, and she was not even charged for that. Neither Sgt. Coleman nor the Sheriff's office notified her of her rights, and specifically of her right to speak to her consulate, a right guaranteed under international treaties the United States has signed. Berry Hill's police chief, Robert Bennett, has stated that his officer "followed proper procedure". Ditto the Sheriff's department,which added that what Mrs. Villegas went through is standard procedure for all women in her situation that are in their custody.

It is a huge mistake to allow state and local law enforcement to get involved in immigration issues. The Sheriff has been exercising his immigration authority since April of last year under the 287(g) program. The results, we are now seeing, are abuses like this, committed against vulnerable people that have not committed a crime, but a misdemeanor. Nothing justifies the torture Mrs. Villegas and her baby suffered. We are supposed to be a country of laws and a country that does not torture. Mrs. Villegas human rights were violated and she and her baby were subject to torture that put their health in danger.

If you feel as outraged as I and everybody in the immigrant community does, please contact the Sheriff's office, Mayor Dean's office and Representative Cooper's office. They all bear the responsibility for this situation. Please ask them to start applying the 287(g) program for what it was intended (and for what Sheriff Hall promised when he was seeking approval for the program), catching felons and dangerous criminals. As he has been applying it, it has been a huge dragnet that makes no distinction between people that are only guilty of the misdemeanor infraction of "unlawful presence" and the dangerous criminals the program was supposed to help deport. So far, very few of these dangerous criminals have been caught, and thousands of people that have not committed a crime, including more than 1,500 very legal immigrants, have fallen in its grip.

David Morales is the most talented translator and interpreter in Nashville, often called upon to translate technical, medical, and legal documents. He is a also a part-time housing counselor with the Woodbine Community Organization, serving our Spanish speaking clients. Rod

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Friday, August 8, 2008

Would Politicians Pander?


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The Paris Proposal

The funny thing is, she makes more sense than Obama or McCain.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Cindy McCain for Miss Buffalo Chip!


Ain't politics fun? You got to seek votes wherever you can find 'em. Bikers vote too.

It seems John McCain went to a big biker event called "Sturgis" that features bikers, babes and beer and is billed as "the wildest party anywhere." He said maybe his wife Cindy ought to enter the Miss Buffalo Chip contest, basically a topless biker-babe beauty contest.

Cindy McCain is hot! McCain was obviously joking, but the Dems are trying to make hay out of this. They are feigning outrage. I don't know if it will work; Democrats just can't pull off being prudes. Well, feminist can but not most Democrats. But, who knows how it will affect the campaign. This may hurt McCain with that wing of the party known as "values voters", many of whom are not enthusiastic about McCain anyway and doubt his conservative credentials. It doesn't bother me. I can't pull off being a prude either.

Here is a poster promoting the event:

I would enjoy a lot of the music.

Here is another link to the event, for adults only, featuring the decadence of the event: Link
This link is provide to inform my readers and is not intended for any prurient interest.

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Paris Hilton for President!



This is great! See the McCain ad featuring Paris Hilton and the Paris Hilton response.

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Letterman's Top Ten Signs Obama is Overconfident

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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Fidel Castro endorces Obama

While the McCain ad featuring Britney Spears and Paris Hilton has been getting a lot of media attention, the above ad has been running in Florida for several weeks now, virtually unnoticed. This ad is obviously an attempt to woo the Anti-Castro Cuban voters of Florida. It really doesn't inform; it inflames and distorts. All this ad says is that Castro endorses Obama.


Since John McCain has called for a continuation of the Cuban embargo and Obama has hinted that, under certain circumstances, he would be open to lifting the embargo, I would not be surprised if the Cuban dictators d0 not prefer that Obama be elected the next President of the United States. It seems that the aging Cuban revolutionaries are looking for a way for Cuba to rejoin the modern world. Obama may be willing to let them; McCain wants to continue the policies that may have been wise for a previous era but are now counterproductive.


Even if Castro has endorsed Obama, one cannot stop unsolicited endorsements. The candidate cannot be blamed for those who happen to advocate his election. If David Duke or some other racist or despicable person endorsed John McCain would it be acceptable to run such an ad modeled on the above? I think not.

This is what Fact Check (link) had to say about the ad: "The quote comes from an article by Castro that was largely critical of Obama. Castro also complained that Obama views the Cuban revolution as 'anti-democratic' and that Obama makes the 'exact same' arguments used by U.S. administrations 'to justify their crimes against our country."
That hardly sounds like an endorsement.

Fact check goes on to say that in a speech given by Castro, he summarized a speech Obama had made regarding Cuban policy as saying, "Presidential candidate Obama’s speech may be formulated as follows: hunger for the nation, remittances as charitable hand-outs and visits to Cuba as propaganda for consumerism and the unsustainable way of life behind it."
That is hardly a rousing endorsement.

Obama's position on Cuba is actually not that much different from McCain's. The differences are minuscule. Obama has said, "I will maintain the embargo. It provides us with the leverage to present the regime with a clear choice: If you take significant steps toward democracy, beginning with the freeing of all political prisoners, we will take steps to begin normalizing relations."

I do not think we need to wait until Cuba establishes Democracy to lift the embargo. We did not wait for Democracy to flourish in China or Vietnam before we engaged in trade with those nations. We did not demand that China and Vietnam free all political prisoners before we normalized relations. While neither of these two countries are perfect democracies, neither are they orthodox Communist nations. Our engagement and trade surely led to liberalization in those nations. We can expedite positive change in Cuba by lifting the embargo. We should do it now. Unfortunately, neither McCain or Obama are taking that position.

I am not upset by the use of the Brittany and Paris image in the McCain ad, used to poke fun at Obama's "rock star" status. I am not upset by the use of ridicule and satire in political ads. I am not opposed to hard-hitting campaign ads. Also, pointing out differences with your opponent is valid. When complex topics have to be condensed to a 30 second ad or a billboard, then simplification may even lead to some unavoidable distortion of your opponent's positions. Nuances can't be explained on a billboard.

Ads like the above that distort and slander, however, are not acceptable in my book. I have always thought McCain was an honorable man. I am disappointed.

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More Good News from Cuba

Cuba will OK more private taxis

Associated Press, Thursday, July 10, 2008

Cuba says it will lift a nine-year ban on new private taxis, approving a dash of private enterprise on the communist-run island and potentially legalizing thousands of unauthorized cabbies who cruise its cities in classic American cars. (link)

Commentary

This latest move by Cuba’s President Raul Castro represents another break with the policies of the past. Fidel Castro, the article reports, was always vocal about his dislike of cabs, even the legal, private cabs. He saw them as evil, but a necessary evil, needed to improve transportation. He viewed illegal cabs as a threat to the egalitarian goals of the revolution.

There are thousands of Cuban car owners who risk fines, confiscation of their vehicles as well as arrest, because they work as illegal taxi drivers. The new change in policy will allow them to become licensed and operate legally. The implementing details of the new policy, however, have not yet been announced.

This is a minor step, but an important one. It is not as grandiose as if Cuba had announced they were permitting oppositional political parties, free elections, or a free press, but it does represent a positive development. This development follows policy changes that let Cubans visit Cuban vacation resorts; own cell phones; own computers; take title to their homes and expanded private sector agriculture. Communism is withering away in Cuba, whether we encourage it or not.

Unfortunately, the US is proving to be the best friend the Communist regime has. There are only two, truly Communist states left in the world. They are North Korea and Cuba. We are in a position to have influence in Cuba. We could help Cubans cast off Communism by encouraging the positive developments, such as legalizing taxis, which are currently taking place. If the US would announce the end of the embargo and do away with travel restrictions, we would see an acceleration of Cuba’s transformation. American tourist dollars would create a market for more entrepreneurship and private enterprise in Cuba. This, in turn, would lead to many Cuban people no longer dependent on the government for their well being. It would create other spheres of influence. It would create a demand for more change. American investments in Cuba would lead to the creation of the rule of law and property rights.

At one time, when Cuba was a client state of the Soviet Union, our policy toward Cuba may have been rational. That time is long past.

If President Bush wanted improve his legacy and do something that was low-risk but bold and positive he could announce that, due to the positive developments in Cuba, the US was immediately lifting the embargo. We should help Cuba rejoin the post-Communist, modern world by lifting the embargo now.

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Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn, R.I.P.

By the Editors, August 04, 2008, 4:00 a.m, National Review Online

When 1999 turned into 2000, a lot of people asked, “Who was the Man of the Century?” And many answered, “Solzhenitsyn.” That was a very solid choice.

Born in 1918, Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn became the voice and conscience of the Russian people. There was no greater or more effective foe of Communism, or of totalitarianism in general. His Gulag Archipelago was a crushing blow to the Soviet Union — after its publication in the mid-1970s, the USSR had no standing, morally. The book was effective because it was true. (link)

Comment: A good tribute to one of the greatest men of the Twentieth Century.

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Monday, August 4, 2008

Alexander L. Sozhenitsyn 1918-2008




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Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, RIP

A Russian patriot, a great writer and a remarkable person is dead at the age of 89. The author of The Gulag Archipelago, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, and many other novels, short stories, plays and books of essays died last night. Solzhenitsyn chronicled his experience of torture and survival in the Soviet political prison system and wrote of history of the madness of repression that was Soviet Communism under Joseph Stalin. Western leftist intellectuals and many liberals had long had a sympathetic view of the Soviet Union. Solzhenitsyn's writings caused many of them to face the truth about the evils of Communism.

While the West is well acquainted with the horrors of Nazi Germany, our World War II ally, Soviet Russia, was even more brutal than the Nazi regime. Ten of millions perished under that system. Solzhenitsyn recorded that history that many in the West wanted to ignore. For his exposure of the Soviet system, he was forced into a 2o year exile, but lived to see the Soviet Union dissolve.

On my reading list of six or so "essential books", that I think everyone should read is The Gulag Archipelago. Communism still has its Western admirers and apologist. While there are only a couple orthodox Communist countries left in the world, Marxist ideology is not dead. Marxism is still in favor in much of academia and among intellectuals. While the evil that was Nazism has rightly earned universal condemnation, it is still acceptable to be a Communist in polite society.

The nature of Communism and the history of the Soviet Stalinist era should not be forgotten or whitewashed. I am glad Solzhenitsyn exposed the Soviet Union for what it was.

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'Extreme Makeover' house faces foreclosure

LAKE CITY, Ga. (AP) — More than 1,800 people showed up to help ABC's "Extreme Makeover" team demolish a family's decrepit home and replace it with a sparkling, four-bedroom mini-mansion in 2005.


Three years later, the reality TV show's most ambitious project at the time has become the latest victim of the foreclosure crisis. (link)

Comment: This is sad, but not surprising. This extreme case represents part of what is wrong with give-away programs. Poverty is not just an issue of lack of money, but it concerns a total mindset. Many social programs fail in their mission of lifting people out of poverty because they fail to change the way people think. Many programs simply subsidize the recipients' poverty, without requiring the recipient to change their values and behavior. If people do not learn delayed gratification, improve their money management skills and change the way they think, then they are destined to remain poor. I suspect that if we redistributed all of the wealth in America starting tomorrow morning, by tomorrow night we would again have rich people and poor people.

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Saturday, August 2, 2008

Tyson Foods drops Labor Day for Muslim holiday

August 1, 2008, The Tennessean, SHELBYVILLE — Workers at the Tyson Foods poultry processing plant in Shelbyville will no longer have a paid day off on Labor Day but will instead be granted the Muslim holiday Eid al-Fitr. (link)

Commentary

I don't care. Now, I might be upset if they were taking away Christmas, or Thanksgiving, or July the 4th, but Labor Day? After all, the only reason we celebrate Labor Day on the first Monday in September was to take the steam out the movement by the anarchist, socialist, and Communist, which recognize May 1 as Labor Day. We can do without Labor Day. Anyway, this does not take it away from anyone except the employees of the Tyson chicken plant in Shelbyville, Tennessee.

We have already combined Lincoln's Birthday, Washington's Birthday and Jefferson's Birthday into Presidents' Day. When Martin Luther King's Day became an official holiday, that pretty much killed Columbus Day. Anyway, celebrating a European white guy for discovering a couple continents that were inhabited by the noble, indigenous peoples of the Americas was no longer politically correct, so Columbus Day had to go. If we are going to substitute a holiday, Labor Day is about all we have left.

Shelbyville is a town located about 50 miles south of Nashville. If you have heard of Shelbyille it is probably because it is the headquarters of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry. Shelbyville has a population of 16,105 according to the 2000 census. I don't know how many Somalis live there, but apparently, quite a few. Tyson Foods is one of the area's largest employers and the Tyson plant, which processes chickens, employs 1200 people, 700 of whom are Muslim Somalis. Up until a couple of years ago, Tyson employed many illegal, Mexican immigrants. A raid, and subsequently a law suit resulting in Tyson promising not to "knowingly" hire illegals anymore, replaced the Mexicans by Somalis. It seems that it is hard to find Americans who want to pluck chickens for low wages.

The new five-year labor contract with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union still gives the employees eight paid holidays, but the employees will no longer get Labor Day as a holiday. Instead employees will get Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting. This year the day falls on October 1, but it does not fall on the same day every year.

Eid al-Fitr, which means "Festival of the Breaking of the Fast" in Arabic, is one of the Muslim's most important holidays. It is marked by the performance of communal prayer at daybreak. It is a time of official receptions and visits with friends, giving of gifts, wearing of new clothes, and visiting the graves of relatives. It is about as important to Muslims as Christmas is important to Christians.

If I was ever a refugee in a strange land, I would hope my employer would let me have Christmas off. I suspect that the xenophobes will go ballistic over this. I suspect they will be vowing to boycott Tyson chicken.

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"The One"

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Friday, August 1, 2008

Volkswagen or Ford

The recent acquisition of Budweiser by a Belgium Company has resulted in a lot of conversation about the virtue of drinking American beer and buying American products. In the local coverage of the issue, live from Bobby’s Idle Hour Lounge, Todd Milsap, son of country music legend Ronnie Milsap said, "I'm not hip with it. I drink Budweiser, and I don't do foreign beers. I won't even drive a foreign car."

Last week Volkswagen announced they had chosen Chattanooga, Tennessee as the site of their new, one billion dollar, Volkswagen plant. The plant will employee about 2,000 people and will produce about 150,000 cars a year.

Today, there was an article in the paper about the future of Ford Motor Company. Ford recently reported their worst quarterly loss in history. It seems that Americans concerned about high gas prices are not purchasing as many SUV’s and pick-up trucks as the market had previously demaned, so Ford is looking at importing some of its European models to America. Ford plans to construct new plants in America, equipped to build some of its European cars. Two of its models will be built elsewhere: The Ford Fiesta Subcompact will be built in Mexico and imported to the U.S., and the Ford Transit Connect will be built in Turkey.

So, I have a question for Todd Milsap and all you other “buy America” proponents. I am confused and so could you please explain the following: Which is the more "American" car: the Volkswagen built in Chattanooga, Tennessee or the Ford Transit Connect built in Turkey?

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