Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Demise of theTwo Party System

In 1994, the Republican Party was hijacked by the religious right who, once in the position of power, began to shape the Party into their own image. Evidently, these extremists forgot the Commandment that they were not to create graven images or serve other gods.

Well, maybe they didn’t see themselves as serving another god, but the “other god” was created to serve them. They alienated those who were in line with the old Republican Party—the GOP, as it was known—and drove many of them into the ranks of Independents. There, some became lost in the liberalism of the left leaning wing of the party, and the real GOP was lost in the mix.

Today, it seems that the religious right has so destroyed the Republican Party that there is little hope for a conservative to be nominated as the candidate for President.

It would appear from NH to SC to FL that the liberal Independents have invaded the Party and handed the nomination to the most liberal of the candidates, John (Amnesty) McCain, unless something radical occurs on Super Tuesday.

In polls, most Republicans view illegal immigration and stopping the invasion as one of the most important issues facing a new President, regardless of the Party. Yet the votes are going to the man who would open the borders, give amnesty to those already here, and continue to welcome the flood of illegals coming into this country day after day. Most Republicans also view spending cuts as a very important issue, but the vote has gone to one who voted against tax cuts. On spending, McCain has stood more in line with the Democrats than with Republicans.

Factories are closing, jobs are bailing out to foreign countries, and the trade deficit continues to increase, but the most liberal of the candidates and the current leader for nomination, John McCain, will continue to expound about Smoot-Hawley. For those not familiar with that Act, Smoot-Hawley was the Tariff Act of 1930 that raised tariffs to historically high levels and has been blamed in part for the Great Depression, or at least for not helping to avoid it. It provoked a storm of foreign retaliatory measures, which have created for the most part the trade deficits that have occurred in the past and haunt us to this day. However, that does not seem to bother McCain. He was quoted as saying to the auto manufacturers and workers: "When
you study history, every time we've adopted protectionism, we've paid a very heavy price."

The further consequences of this Act have brought about NAFTA, GATT, and WTO, which McCain voted in favor of. Even the Democrat candidate, whose very husband was responsible for the NAFTA, has begun to question the NAFTA Paradigm. But not the liberal McCain.

Eisenhower and Nixon came to office determined to extract this country from a war where the costs were beginning to outweigh the possible end results, but McCain is talking about the possibility of 50 more years in Iraq. Bush, even in his misguided placement of NATO and its missiles on the doorstep of Russia, severely disturbing Vladimir Putin and undoing the more peaceful Russian relationship that Reagan had established, sounds more like McGovern, the peace candidate of the 60s. The current liberal Republican McCain can’t wait to “get in Putin’s face.”

There are three issues that seem to have destroyed this Administration — the war, the border invasion, and a failed trade policy that has left foreigners buying up America at what Pat Buchanan described as “fire sale” prices. McCain is in favor of continuing all three of the issues.

Going into the California primary, liberal Governor Arnold Schwartzeneger (R-CA) gives his blessing to the liberal Republican candidate, McCain.

Where the current President was best, at Judges and taxes, the liberal candidate on the right, McCain, was schmoozing and voting with Hillary Clinton on the left.

Along with a lot of other voters who find neither Clinton nor Obama of the Democrats acceptable, I am now asking which of three ways I should go. Do I hold my nose and vote for the liberal of the right — McCain; do I not vote; or do I perhaps vote for a third party? So far, there is no third-party candidate worth voting for, so it would seem that the likely choice is no vote.

It appears that there are no longer two Parties in this country, but simply the Left and the Ultra Left, and we have the Ultra Right to thank for that.

On a personal note, I feel the Democrats threw their best candidate, Bill Richardson, out with the bath water. And the liberals on the right have hijacked the Republican Party and any hope for Romney to be nominated, at least at this juncture. I suggest blowing both the Democrats and the Republicans out of the water and running a Romney-Richardson ticket. It sure beats the choices we have now. What say you?
The Associated Press recently polled the American people asking if they thought the President had an influence on several factors. Shown are the results of that poll as published in several news sources today.

1. Would you agree or disagree with the findings?
2. If you agree, then in what way does the President influence these factors?
3. If you disagree , who does influence these factors?


The percentage of Americans who think a president can have at least some influence on big issues:
Inflation: 73 percent
Interest rates: 66 percent
Gasoline prices: 69 percent
Housing prices: 59 percent
Federal budget deficit: 86 percent
Taxes: 88 percent
Health care costs: 76 percent
The way other countries view the U.S.: 87 percent

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Three-Legged Stool and Where Romney Went Wrong

In a TIME article appearing on Yahoo News, Michael Scherer attempted to define the problems with Mitt Romney’s campaign in his article called “Is Romney Fighting the Last War?” The following is an excerpt from that article:

“From the start, Mitt Romney had a clear strategy for winning the White House. He would run as the candidate of the ideological establishment, the Republican old-guard, the coalition of Ronald Reagan, with that three-legged stool of social, fiscal and national security conservatism. He would become the inside man in a presidential field filled with outsiders.

“So Romney played in nearly every early straw poll and pandered to each conservative demographic. He joined the NRA. He talked tough on illegal immigrants and became a crusader against gay marriage. "Strength" was his watchword. With an impressive gallery of high-profile endorsements, he was the only Republican candidate who seemed to be on the right side of nearly every issue for the plurality of the old GOP coalition.

“And yet, his candidacy sputtered. His narrow loss Tuesday to John McCain in Florida was just the latest in a series of disappointments that began in Iowa and New Hampshire, two states where he had outspent his rivals and once led in the polls. His failures have many causes, which will be raked over by historians. But they also suggest a broader shift: Romney may be running to lead a Republican Party that no longer exists.”

There is a cure for what ails the Romney campaign and its Three-Legged Stool approach, an approach that is very similar to that of the spokesman from the very right of the right wing of the conservative base, Tony Perkins. I alluded to Mr. Perkins’ group in the topic, “Where Are the Kingmakers?” It appears the kingmakers have gone missing and, unfortunately, that seems to be who Romney has been depending on. After Mr. Perkins’ article on the “three-legged stool” appeared in his newsletter, I replied with a suggestion of my own. I have now forwarded it to the Romney campaign headquarters, along with the results of the poll in which many of you were so kind as to take part in. Here is what I had to say concerning the wobbly three-legged stool approach rather than a stable two-legged ladder approach.

Rather than a three-legged stool, I prefer to think of the base as being a ladder. The ladder has two runners, legs, if you will—Honesty and Integrity. The ladder has rungs—steps for climbing upward. The three-legged stool, whether perched in the pit of an imaginary airplane or on the ground, is stationery and keeps one in the same position. Moving around on a three-legged stool can be hazardous. The ladder suggests movement in its very nature. The ladder can lean solidly upon the foundation and walls of the Constitution of the United States .

A three-legged stool, for any who have attempted to stand or sit on one, will prove to be wobbly and will easily tip over. Its legs are generally short, limiting one’s reach to higher places that is needed in this country.

The ladder has many rungs, and each is important. Each rung is the same size, the same length, and is firmly embedded in the two outer legs of the ladder. If the ladder has only one rung, the uprights will fall apart. All of the rungs are important to holding the ladder together. The ladder has many rungs for climbing to the high ground safely in upholding our U.S. Constitution, and a ladder is what is needed to climb out of the quagmire and muck that we are in presently. From all indications, we are sinking quickly. I would suggest that the candidates begin to express what the rungs in their ladders represent in terms of solutions to the multi-faceted problems this country faces, rather than attempting to stand on an unstable three-legged stool that stands for nothing and offers no real strength. Most certainly Governor Romney would benefit from this approach.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith (mainstream America) are asking questions and are expecting to hear more than the sound bites that are currently being offered. If the GOP does not wake up to this fact and find a candidate who is strong enough to put forth some solid answers to the questions, then prepare to face four, and probably eight, years of a Democrat controlled White House and Congress. And that will certainly prove that Armney was correct when he said the GOP had sold out to the religious right, for there is where they based their hope for victory in 2006, and they were defeated.

Those who were defeated in ‘06 and those who are tasting defeat in ‘08 are those who have attempted to make the ladder reach the top with only one rung--religious conservatism. Their ladders toppled out of short-sightedness. This rung of the ladder is no longer the first nor the last rung on the ladder that guarantees the success to the candidate who depends on it. Governor Romney needs to understand this and plant a solid ladder against the wall, rather than attempting to reach the top on a wobbly three-legged stool.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

What's Next

The candidates:

McCain, Hillary, Obama, Paul, all currently serving in Congress. Can they bring change, or are they seen as a part of the problem.

Huckabee, Romney Can they bring change or do they lack the insight on a national and international level.

Who paints a vision of where they wish this country to go and expresses that vision as one that the people can/will readily accept.

Any of them?

None of them?


State of the Union...Anything New

State of the Union ... Anything New

I have struggled with what the subject of my next topic should be. Monday night’s attention was on the President's State of the Union message, and I have wondered if anyone actually sat and listened to the entire speech and the Democrat response given by Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas that followed.

I listened to both and, to say the least, was disappointed in both. Governor Sebelius started out rather good with her "we are all one" speech, which sounded much like the President’s "We The People" sound bite. But I expected a bit more from this lady than the "join us, Mr. President" routine that we have been hearing from the Democrats for seven years now. I wished she had offered some real points of what he is to join them on that hasn't been repeated over and over. No real challenge has been offered, and no specific points spoken. Alluding to the war, to the economy, to health care, to immigration, and such, makes for good sound bites for the media to chew on, regurgitate, and then chew on again until finally there is nothing left to regurgitate, but it still offers no real substance for which this President could join them.

Likewise, the President did not offer anything new to speak of. He said some things that he would do on issues like spending and earmarks, which he should have been saying and doing seven years ago. I call it a too-little-too-late plan, Mr. President, and would ask you why you have waited until now to slow the spending that you have allowed for seven years, the spending that has been compared to that of a drunken sailor. Too little, too late, Mr. President.

The President has stuck with his guns on Iraq and, from the looks of things, a good part of what he has pushed is working. Even the UN and NATO is agreeing that the surge has, to date, done its job. Again, Mr. President, too little, but hopefully for our military's sake, not too late. No, I am not being a Monday, or in this case, a Tuesday morning arm chair general. I have been saying that this war was under-staffed, under-funded, and under-estimated for over four years.

The stimulus package appears to be a bipartisan band-aid, and the call for the Senate not to overload the barrel was correct but put mildly. The Senate, as I wrote in the earlier post on the Stimulus Package, will attempt to load up the trough and dare the President to veto it. Either way he goes, he is going to be attacked.

On immigration, there was nothing new to that story. I thought that surely, by now, the President would have gotten the message that his plan is not in line with the wishes of the majority of the American people. The candidates on the Republican side are, for the most part, running from the plan, including McCain, who endorsed and sponsored the plan. But then he's running for President and needs to say during his campaign what the folks at home want to hear, and then he will do what he wishes should he be elected. Things like this do not cut it with me, nor do I believe it will cut it with the American voter.

On the tax cuts, although a lot of folks don't agree with them, it seems that a lot of other countries are doing the same thing and seeing good results. Ireland, Australia, Sweden, and a few others of the Euro states are getting the message that tax cuts work ... but they have to be tied to reduced spending. There is where the two parties differ in this country, and they did again last night. I believe that may have been the only new thing spoken tonight, and it was so sudden and so quick that I fear most may have missed it; I almost did and had to go back and review it. But the message was still pretty much the same and, hopefully, the tax cuts will remain in place. Taxing and spending will not get us out of the hole any more than will just tax cuts. It has to be hooked to spending. The President did mention that, as I stated in the earlier paragraphs, but I also said it was a bit too little and a bit too late.

I didn't stick around to listen to the pundits talk about how many times the Republicans stood and applauded and the Democrats sat and looked dour. Nor did I stick around to hear how many times the Democrats stood and applauded while still looking dour. Listening to the pundits reconstruct the entire speech is insulting to me, to say the least. They evidently think that the viewers are not intelligent enough to hear and decide for themselves. Admittedly, there are some who wish to be spoon fed instead of cutting their own meat on the plate. Those are the kinds of folks I fear the most because they vote, unfortunately, not on facts gained from actually listening and digesting what has been said but from the spoon-fed sound bites.

Well, hopefully, you heard the State of the Union message, so ... I ask if anyone heard anything different or new. And I also ask, what would your response have been if you had been asked to give one, as was Governor Sebelius. What say you?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Where are the Kingmakers

Where Are The Kingmakers

Where are the “kingmakers” of the right? These days they seems oddly silent. Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family and puppetmaster of Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council, has been very quiet for an election year. It is rare for him not to make an immediate endorsement during a presidential election year. Have the “Christian right’s” claws been shortened?

So far, neither Dobson nor his organization has actually come forth to endorse Mike Huckabee, the darling of the far right wing of the Christian right, nor have they come forth to place the mantel upon Mitt Romney. Of course, the far right wing of the Christian right is dead set against Gov. Romney because of his Mormon beliefs, which they equate with cultism and Satan incarnate. Is Dobson playing the game in order to maintain his position as “kingmaker” and waiting until he determines which way the wind is actually blowing. It seems he has offered some glances toward the Romney camp by calling and congratulating him on his speech concerning religion in America. Dobson said is was "a magnificent reminder of the role religious faith must play in government and public policy. His delivery was passionate and his message inspirational." Hardly an endorsement, yet, more than he gave Huckabee, who has seemingly been wondering out loud when his endorsement is coming and dropping the Dobson name many times, especially in the Iowa Caucasus, which he did win. In New Hampshire, where the Dobson anointing would have perhaps been some help, and in South Caroline, a bastion of the “Christian far right,” we have heard not a word from Dobson.

Tony Perkins, the political arm of Dobson’s group, has not come out directly saying they endorse Huckabee, but he did say that Dr. Dobson has by no means given his blessing to Romney either. Perkins and his “values voter” agenda-driven audience is very much against Romney because of his religious beliefs. They continually put out the incorrect statement of Romney’s constant endorsement of abortion and gay marriage in his home state while Governor. First of all, Romney did not endorse anything; rather, he said that he would not seek to overturn what the people had voted for. When it came to the financing, Romney showed his distaste for funding abortions with taxpayer money. His vetoes were often overridden by the legislature of the state, but that does not constitute a personal endorsement of either agenda. Of course, it sounds good to the Perkins followers to say he flip-flopped. Many individuals have changed their minds on issues, but that is another story for another time.

So where are the “kingmakers”? Falwell is dead, and the rest of the fundamentalists have never been strong voices in the political arena. It seems that the religious right is now pandering to those in Hollywood who will endorse their agenda, such as Chuck Norris, who has already cast his lot with Huckabee. Could it be that the “kingmakers” are running out of money, and clout as well?

In doing some reading, it seems that Dobson’s FoF is not doing well financially. The ministry's expenses have exceeded its revenues for two years, what CEO Jim Daly calls a "drawdown from reserves," by $4.1 million in fiscal year 2006 and $9.9 million in 2005. (Figures for 2007 have not yet been released.) Could that be why Huckabee’s camp is not receiving the endorsement, because with endorsement comes a financial responsibility, as seen in past years when Dobson’s organizations have thrown bags of money into the coffers of the “anointed,” as did Rev. Falwell and his organization. Even Newt Gingrich, who was “anointed” by these two and brought into power in ‘94, seems to have abandoned the far right wing, or even the right wing of the Republican Party, and has not fully endorsed Huckabee. But then Gingrich has plans for a “Trojan Horse” entry as a candidate of the GOP. (More on that another day.)

Huckabee’s campaign is desperate for money, as hinted at by the campaign manager in Flordia this weekend. His statement of “we are still in there fighting at the grass root level and not spending on TV as others have done” certainly is a hint that the money is in tight supply. It seems that Huckabee, a Southern Baptist, has turned to the Pentecostal evangelical side for support in none other than Kenneth Copeland. However, it doesn’t appear that Copeland and his minister friends have been able to deliver on the million dollars’ worth of pledges supposedly received. Sources have it that only $111K was actually collected. Huckabee has to be desperate in turning to Copeland, whose ministry has been targeted by Senator Grassley (R-Colo) and his congressional group looking into various televangelism organizations and how they spend their money.

Huckabee, in reaching out to Pentecostals and evangelicals, has alienated his Southern Baptist base, since it is well known that attempting to mix the two is like mixing oil and water. Pentecostals in SC will vote for Southern Baptist Huckabee, but Southern Baptists won’t vote for what they deem a Pentecostal-leaning Baptist. Huckabee has referred to himself as a Bapti-costal, and that is not going over well with his SB brethren. Copeland has actually endorsed Huckabee and could be some help in the fundraising department and possibly more so than Hollywood’s Texas Ranger Chuck Norris.

Even with the appearance of Ken Copeland and his endorsement, the “kingmakers” of the religious right are strangely silent.

Could it be that what Dick Armney said back in 2006 prior to the Republican losses in the Congress is true, that the GOP sold out to the religious right, and it will come back and bite them in the butt? Could it be the one who receives the least endorsements from the religious far right will win the nomination? What say you?


In a few days, we will take a look at the Democrats and who is endorsing whom, and ask where the far left “kingmakers,” such as Soros and the moveon dot org crowd, have disappeared to.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

It's All About the Economy

It's All About the Economy

I was reading an article in the Australin concerning the economic debate going on in that country. Simular to the one going on here except they are making more sense. (

It seems that Mr. Howard , the previous PM, had presided over one of the longest periods of unbroken growth in Australian history, unemployment fell to the lowest levels seen in years and the stock market flourished, a period very similar to what this president has presided over. However , even without the higher expenditure of the war on terror which the US has faced it seems that Australia is now facing a recessionary period and the question is being asked, why?

Some of the answers forthcoming have been,1) slack budget policies, (2) failure to invest in skills and the infrastructure and (3)to lift workforce participation. (That means getting the every day working folks involved, I'd think)

I thought , hmmm sounds a bit familiar doesn’t it. One of the great differences is that Australia has a budget surplus unlike any the US has ever seen(cash surplus of $13.7billion dollars) . That’s cash, not paper, folks, no smoke and mirriors and no cooking the books, just cash and this years surplus is expected to be not less than $10.7 billion and may even exceed that $13,7 billion of 06-07 . Now, how , you ask can a country with this much cash surplus be facing a recessionary period. The US doesn’t have a surplus and never has had one like this and we are also experiencing the beginning of the same thing . Amazing isn’t it?

Of course the problem began with overspending both in the Howard government and in this government. Throw money at the problem and it will go away seemed to be the solution to the problem in both country’s government leadership. It didn’t work! Never has worked, and never will work.

Now the solution. The current PM , which is of the opposite party than the previous, says that his package will include: On the demand front , a tighter fiscal policy with a budget surplus of at least 1.5 per cent of the gross domestic product , achieved by spending cuts. It will attempt to rein in private spending by diverting money to savings.(that hasn’t been announced yet but rumor has it that there will be some type of tax incentive for savings, which I believe one of those running for president has also mentioned but has gotten lost in the sound bites that sound like something free.)

Couple of things should stand out here, 1. SPENDING CUTS, something that our government, especially Congress doesn’t know anything about or lacks the intestinal fortitude to do anything about. It seems they have gotten to use to lining up at the trough and inventing ways of wasting money rather than saving money. Earmarks, pork attached to every bill that goes through the House or the Senate, all created for one thing, buying votes and staying in power. 2. DIVERTING MONEY from private spending to savings which is another idea that it seems that our Congress has forgotten, well at least a good number of them who can only think of taxing the individual so there is nothing left to spend much less save. One of the current crop running for president has mentioned something to this effect but I wonder if anyone has heard it over the sound of the other 15 -30 sec sound bites filled with free fluff and stuff rather than solutions.

On the Supply side: they intend create jobs through increased training and training sites. They will conduct an audit of infrastructure needs and co-ordinate with the states and private investors to expand capacity in transportation, energy, communications and water. It will provide incentives for people to enter the workforce by including more subsidies for child care and tax cuts. OMG there is that horrible word TAX CUTS. How are they going to fund all this supply side stuff if they cut taxes? Simple 1. cut spending on other non-essential items, i.e. pork is going to be scarce and 2. they found out that TAX CUTS do work for they discovered that the tax cuts did create a surge in investment and jobs which in turn created a larger tax base. Difference in how the two governments handled the tax cuts and the increase in tax base is how that money was invested by the governments. One used it to expand savings growth and more job creation. The other used it to expand spending on pork. ( I’ll let you guess which did what and it won’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out , I bet. )

I might add that Australia has one of the better health care programs in the world, tied, by the way ,to private insurance and the best Social Security program (called Superannuation) that I have seen which is tied to private investment by the worker. In other words they privatized their SS and now those retiring have one of the highest retirement incomes in the world.

Could we learn something from the Aussie’s ? I say most certainly. What say you?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Stimulus Package ...

STIMULUS PACKAGE: A band-aid fix or just another invitation for the
Congressional hogs to line up at the trough?

Well, it looks like over half of one segment of our society will be left out in the cold when it comes to getting the check from the government. According to members of Congress and groups such as AARP, 50% of those who depend on Social Security for income will not be seeing or hearing, “The Check’s in the Mail.” The only way they would be eligible would be if they currently have taxable income over the $3,000 mark from investments, stocks, savings, etc. Meanwhile, those who pay zero income tax because of the allowance by the IRS for child credit, etc., will receive a check. It seems the Senate saw this--actually, it was called to their attention--as something they should not forget because it is an election year, so they are now attempting to add these seniors to the list of the ”checks in the mail.” Problem is they want to add the extension of jobless benefits to the $150 billion package of rebates, along with business tax cuts that were made in a deal between House leaders and President Bush
that was wrapped up Thursday. It seems as if Pelosi gave in on this part of the House package in order to get the check in the mail and to look good to the voters back home. Now the Senate is worried that those who are on the unemployment roles will not vote for them unless they get a check as well. Well, that may opened up the door to the possibility of protracted negotiations if House Democrats are successful in adding to the Senate's retirees' tax rebates, the extending unemployment benefits, boosting heating subsidies for the poor, and temporarily increasing food stamp payments. The Senate, so far, is not going along with the plan by the House. Will the House force the issue in an election time just to gain a few votes and risk the Senate stalling on it, making them look bad, or maybe even get it through and dare the President to veto it to make them look good.

One Senate aide made the comment today that "Pigs get fat. Hogs get slaughtered." That seems to sum up the entire intent of this ill-prepared stimulus bill, thrown up in a hurry during an election year in order to gain votes. It looks as if both sides are guilty of lining up at the trough. While the politicians get fatter, the taxpayer’s pocketbook will get flatter because, if you're gonna dance, someday ya gotta pay the fiddler. Another appropriate statement that might well sum up the situation was made by. Dr. R.G. Lee, an old-time Baptist preacher who once preached a sermon called Pay Day Someday. Folks, the some day for payday is around the corner, and we need to ask our leaders if the dance is worth paying the fiddler. Now, what say you ...?

Welcome Aboard!

Well, she did it! My loving wife finally talked me into starting up a Blogspot! So welcome to our maiden voyage. Glad to have you aboard!

Thought I would see what I could get going on my first entry. As you will notice, I have posted a POLL asking you to pick the three most important tough issues that you would like to see the current crop of Presidential candidates address, with hard answers and not just some thirty second sound bite that will sound good to the media but says nothing about the issue when it comes down to it. So far, that appears to be what we are getting. It is no wonder that jokes about “Electile Dysfunction” are going around. We haven’t seen any real good fights, unless you want to call the skirmish between Senators Clinton and Obama in South Carolina a fight. We will get around to talking about those issues as the poll progresses. Feel free to post your comments as you vote on the poll.

I watch the polls and such from the right, the left, the far right, and the far left, and they sure do vary to the point of sometimes being ridiculous. I don’t get caught up much with comments in the far left polls because it appears that only those from that segment post there, and anyone with a different view will be: a) ignored; b) ganged up on; c) mugged. I will try to keep such stuff like that from happening here on this Blog. We will welcome comments that add to the conversation from all sides of the spectrum, but those with nothing to add to the conversation might as well just go somewhere else.

I’ve actually tried to get on some of the blogs that I see as being to the right of the right and some that are far right, just as I tried to get on some on the far left. I have not found them welcoming, to say the least. I tried to get on the Blog that is run by Tony Perkins of Family Research Council, the political arm of James Dobson’s Focus on the Family and, boy, was that a surprise. For one who talks about the Freedom of Speech, their blog sure doesn’t walk the walk. It seems also that you need to make a contribution to be able to comment on their blog. So much for those who might have a different opinion and do not wish to contribute to their agenda. I won’t be doing that here, so not to worry. I did put in $0.00 and to my surprise it came back with $1.00 and asking for my credit card number. I also got a rather testy letter stating that they did this to stop those who might post spam or bring viruses into their blog.

That was enough for me. That’s when I decided to open my own blog, and, Tony, if you happen to run across this one, you are welcome to comment, and I won’t charge you a dime to do so.

The rest of you are welcome to comment on any of the things mentioned in this initial run, and we’ll be putting up some other things for comment real soon.