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Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Rushing to Judgment

Just last week the majority of Democrat Senators refused to condemn MoveOn.org for its very negative ad in the New York Times which blatantly slammed General Petraeus as General Betray Us even before he had given his report on conditions in Iraq. That is sad enough on its own but these same Democrat Senators have really shown their colors this week.

This week the Democrat Senators have been slamming Rush Limbaugh for supposedly calling some of the American troops phony soldiers. Oh, so suddenly they are great supporters of our military. Never mind that what Rush said bears no resemblance to what these Senators say he said. They seem to feel that they needed to go on the offensive to prove that they really do support our people in the military.

Who cannot see through this facade? Who is stupid or naive enough to believe that this ridiculous attack on a "talk show host" is anything but disingenuous at best, a purely political ploy to garner support of their followers and to take the heat off them for their prior lack of support of General Petraeus?

I certainly hope the majority of the thinking people of this country can see through this idiocy. This attempt to deceive the American public is so blatant and obvious that it defies logic. Perhaps these Senators could explain how their actions stand up to the test of consistent beliefs. How can you refuse to condemn full-page smear ads against a sitting General before he even speaks and then turn around and condemn a talk show host for something he did not say.

No one in his right mind can state that Rush Limbaugh does not support American soldiers. He has a long history of doing so and it is not even in question. But taking words out of context during a conversation and using them against him is unconscionable. Seems to be pretty much par for the course in politics and this is not good.

Politicians need to be more responsible, more intelligent and less political. We expect them to be so. We expect them to behave consistently and not to stoop to such obvious partisan politics especially related to members of the force who are trying to protect our way of life. God forbid that they actually support the leaders of our military! They confirm the man's appointment to the position and then tell him that he is lying. Why? Because he didn't say what they wanted him to say? Amazing!

The more I see this stupid hypocrisy playing out in the halls of Congress, the less I feel that America is in good hands. These idiots see a way to influence the sheeple who are not paying attention and grab some headlines by offering phony condemnation. Make themselves look like heroes of the moment and people will forget what cowards they actually are.

It takes courage and conviction to believe in what you do and to reflect that belief in consistent actions and reactions. It should be something we take for granted, that people will behave and believe consistently. It seems that politicians only consistent behavior is protecting their turf and perks and power that comes with being a politician. If it is good for me and helps keep me in office, then that is how I will behave. If it conflicts with my internal beliefs, I will put my beliefs on hold for the good of the party.

And why in the hell are Senators spending their time in Congress condemning a talk show host in the first place. This is not even their job. There are far more important issues that they should be discussing, issues that actually are the responsibility of Congress. Perhaps if the budget was passed, the immigration issue were fixed, the FairTax was passed, maybe they could have time to spend on trivial matters that are not in thier domain. But even then they should rise above such grandstanding and leave partisan politics out of the Capitol Building.

Partisan Bull. Keep it going Rush. We know you are consistent in your support.


Friday, September 21, 2007


Move It On Over

Which Senators are beholden to MoveOn.org?

Disgusting, outrageous and inconceivable that a United States Senator would not vote to support the Commanding General in war-time Iraq. Hard to believe that it actually had to come to a vote to showcase the Democrat party and the choke-hold that MoveOn.org has upon it.

"Who would have ever expected anybody to go after a general in the field at a time of war, launch a smear campaign against a man we've entrusted with our mission in Iraq?" Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell asked on the Senate floor. "Any group that does this sort of thing ought to be condemned. Let's take sides. General Petraeus or MoveOn.org. Which one are we going to believe? Which one are we going to condemn?"

Apparently some Democrats march to a vastly different beat than most Americans, at least 25 Senators, add 3 more who, for whatever reason, skipped the vote entirely. Afraid to alienate their biggest source of political contributions, they refused to side with a career general who is currently doing his job very well overseas.

This seems to prove what MoveOn has claimed before, that they own the Democrat Party, bought and paid for. No matter what their political belief system stands for, there is absolutely no reason for anyone to accede to a Political Action Group's demands simply to continue to receive money from that organization. It shows that they are putting their own political ambitions above their own self respect.

How can anyone observing this have any respect left for those refusing to endorse a well-respected General simply doing his job? I certainly don't.

NAYs ---25
Akaka (D-HI)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Byrd (D-WV)
Clinton (D-NY)
Dodd (D-CT)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feingold (D-WI)
Harkin (D-IA)
Inouye (D-HI)
Kennedy (D-MA)
Kerry (D-MA)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Levin (D-MI)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Murray (D-WA)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schumer (D-NY)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wyden (D-OR)
Not Voting - 3
Biden (D-DE)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Obama (D-IL)

That's my nickel,

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


The Pigs are Walking

"When I'm president, privatization is off the table because it's not the answer to anything."
Hillary Rodham, September 3, 2007 AARP Legislative Conference.

"Society cannot allow the private sector to do whatever it wants," said Chavez, speaking on the first day of classes.
Hugo Chavez, Venezuelan President, September 17, 2007

Ever read George Orwell's fantasy novel "Animal Farm"? Wonderful piece of literature. Great allegory about animals rebelling against the wicked farmer and taking control of the farm and their own destinies in the name of and for the good of all animals.

Trouble begins brewing however, as the pigs slowly begin to take on traits of the scoundrel farmer who so infuriated them to begin with. They had defined a set of "Commandments" for the animals but as it became to the pigs' advantage, those "Commandments" were secretly altered in the dead of night to justify the pigs' ever-increasingly man-like behavior. My favorite one was "All animals are equal", which was altered in the dead of night by Squealer to be "All animals are equal but some are more equal than others".

Their original seven commandments were boiled down to "Four legs good, two legs bad", with wings counting as legs. But Squealer taught the sheep to say "Four legs good, two legs better" to prepare the animals for the pigs eventual shift to walking upright which is the way the book ended. The pigs gradually changed the commandments and their own behavior as they slowly morphed into the very beings that they rebelled against in the first place. Does that sound at all familiar?

In an episode of "Lost" last season, the character Artz makes a comment that the pigs are walking, meaning the island leaders were taking advantage of their status to give themselves favors the rest of the islanders couldn't enjoy. I love it when pop culture references literature like that.

Today we see Hugo Chavez, the "elected" president of Venezuela acting like a pig on two legs. He has decided that "his" presidency should be favored above all others and is taking steps to ensure that his term in office will be long and comfortable. Screw the masses, I will be the great protector and as such will be afforded the luxuries that I want and deserve. He has nationalized the oil industry, television and radio, schools all in the name of "the people" but he really is seeking ultimate power. Sacrifice the mass of individuals for the good of a few select individuals through the power of government. And in Hugo's case, he isn't even trying to be sneaky about it.

We also see Hillary speaking out against the individual once again by stating that privatization is off the table because it is not the answer to anything. We can infer through this statement then that the only way to make things work is through government programs, according to Hillary.

This is the very argument made by Democrats during the discussions about whether to federalize the security operations at American airports. I believe it was Tom Daschel that said to professionalize we must federalize. Each of these people feel that the answer to problems in a country is to federalize it, to make it a government function and to regulate and control behavior.

If you believe this is the way to run a country, shame on you. If there is one tenet about our United States of America that I truly believe it is that we are a great country because of our Constitution and our people. America is not great because of its government but in spite of it. And the Constitution is the reason the people in this country have led the way on many fronts during our 200+ years of existence.

If we allow politicians like Hillary their way, we will move forward on the path to our own self-destruction, much like Hugo Chavez is doing to his country in South America. How many times do we need to see Socialism fail before we give up on trying to become Socialist? How many times can we beat back the attacks on our very freedoms and liberties before we say we've had enough?

Government is best which governs least. It is an age old adage that seems to always be in question, at least for many people. Why does anyone think that government can do a better job than the marketplace in any endeavor? Government has never proved that it can be economical or efficient. Government uses brute force and glue to make things work its way. Government would have you pound a round peg into a square hole because that is what our research has shown to be most effective. But who provided the research? Someone with an agenda, someone who has a contract with the government to provide round pegs and square holes.

Our founders spent a lot of time and thought on our Constitution and it has worked wonderfully well for a long, long time and there is no reason it cannot continue to do so. We cannot allow politicians to rewrite our "Commandments" based on expediency or whatever the masses may want or whatever the leaders may want.

If you feel government is best which governs most, then perhaps you may want to take up residence in Venezuela. But don't try to change this country into something it was never intended to be. I love this country but I hate it when the pigs start walking!


Wednesday, September 05, 2007


Customer No Service

I have heard the consumer guru Clark Howard talk about Customer No Service before but I recently experienced my worst case scenario with Dish Network and my gas company.

On July 28, 2007 there was a very large thunderstorm system in my area and I witnessed two lightning strikes very close to my house. My daughter and family were there and getting ready to pack up the car and drive home. We were talking on the screen porch when we saw lightning strike my neighbor's yard just past the fence. Whew, loud and scary was what we all thought. Then about 20-25 minutes later another strike occurred just a few feet beyond the back door in my yard. My daughter and son-in-law said they could smell the burning from the strike. Very lucky, we all agreed.

Not long afterwards I noticed the phone was dead and the remote for my Dish Network was working very slowly. It occurred to me that the last time that happened was the previous summer when another nearby lightning strike hit by my house and caused the Dish receiver to start acting strangely and also blew out my DSL box. Great, I thought. Another problem with my phone line and satellite system. If only that were the end of this story.

Venus and company decided to go out for dinner and wait out the storm so they could finish packing. Knowing my dog's fear of storms and thunder, I decided to stay home and they would bring me something. Good decision on my part.

About 30 minutes after they left I heard what sounded like a jet engine coming from the south side of my house. I rushed to the back bedroom and saw a wall of flame shooting past the window. Holy crap! So I rushed outside to see firsthand and there were flames shooting 10-15 feet above the roof of my house from a propane tank. The flames were licking at the siding, the eaves and the two tall oak trees. Holier shit, I thought! My house is going up in smoke.

I started to run into the house to call 911 when I remembered I had no phone. Panicky, I ran across the street and my neighbor was already on his phone talking to 911. It seemed a lot longer but the flames subsided in probably 20 seconds or so and left a slow leak coming from the bottom of one of my propane tanks. So the house isn't going up in smoke after all. Wow!

The two propane tanks had just been filled the day before as I had run out. There were two tanks, each holding about 20 gallons of fuel and one of them had a hole in the bottom presumably from the lightning which leaked for a good 45 minutes. Luckily the other one was untouched.

The fire department sprayed water on the leaking tank until a guy from Ferrellgas came out and they removed the tank to an open field and burned off the residual gas. I really wanted to talk to the gas man but he left without so much as saying a word to me. He left the remaining tank there sitting in the sand and leaning at an angle looking like it was going to fall down. He never should not have left the tank in that state. Jeff and I managed to maneuver it up on the concrete blocks so it would stand straight and not fall over.

My daughter and family left for home about an hour or so later and the following morning I caught a flight for a week of training in Toronto. Great timing! I would deal with my issues when I got home.

Dish Network technical support was a nightmare. They have this helpful computer voice that tries to understand what you are speaking and suggest ways to fix your problem. This concept needs a whole lot more work. I finally got frustrated with the voice and managed to persuade it to let me talk to a real person. I got help with the DVR receiver, they would send me a new one but for some reason, they wanted me to troubleshoot the unit I keep on the porch. I had to move it into the computer room which was unaffected and see if it worked OK there. It didn't. But now I had to go back through the talking voice for help and that led to more frustration and one 25 minute wait for no one. I finally gave up.

The new receiver came and worked alright but I had to get back on the phone, maneuver my way to a real person again to get the service reactivated. I tried to get the support person to help me with the broken porch receiver but she put me back in another queue to talk to someone else and I gave up on that wait as well.

A week later the new DVR receiver started having problems and I found myself back on the horrible phone system trying to get help once more. This time, after a long, long wait listening to elevator music punctuated with ads about their services, I got them to send a person to the house to fix both receivers. Hooray. The tech came out two days later and fixed all of the problems, including installing a new, supposedly more reliable dish and a new porch receiver. But the DVR receiver was still broke and it took another day and another trip to bring another DVR receiver, my third of the summer and fifth in 2 1/2 years before it was all better. Now this tech guy said I can call them if I have any more problems and not have to go wading through the horribly inefficient phone system anymore. Double yey! He also grounded the system as it wasn't grounded before which explains why it is so susceptible to lightning.

My experiences with Ferrellgas was less rewarding. As I said, both tanks had just been filled the day before the lightning strike. Those tanks had no gauges on them so there was no way to know how much gas I had left until I ran completely out. Then it would be a waiting game because the gas company only delivered to my area on Fridays, that's it. Even if I were completely out and had a house full of company, as I did this time.

As I mentioned, the gas guy didn't come and speak to me the night of the incident. I looked around for him to ask him about the remaining tank and he was gone. Once I got back home from Toronto I called Ferrellgas and asked them if it was OK to use the remaining tank. I had to leave a voice mail and wait two days for someone to even call me back. Then they scheduled a day for the gas guy to come check out the inside of the house to ensure all was OK and I could turn on the gas. I took the day off work and waited. He was supposed to be there between 8 and 10 in the morning. By 4:00 I decided to go outside and just turn on the gas anyway, I didn't think it would be a problem. When I got to the tank, it was gone and in its place was a note that said DO NOT USE. What? How rude is that!

So the gas man comes out to the house again on a pre-arranged meeting and he doesn't even bother to knock on my door to talk to me. He just takes the tank away and slaps up a sign. Wow, such superior service! I had just had a conversation with Venus about maybe switching from gas to electric but I was hesitant because I prefer cooking with gas. The explosion of the propane tank had me thinking perhaps it was time to switch.

But since I didn't have the outlets necessary for a stove and a water heater I thought I would use up the last gas tank and be able to take my time in getting the electric upgrade and buying new appliances. Now my mind was made up for me, it seemed. I had the bill for the tank fillup at home and was going to pay it but the crappy service I had gotten and the complete lack of customer service concerning this incident changed my mind. I was not going to pay for the gas. I wrote a letter stating such and pointed out the lack of attention by their company and sent the bill back. I then started looking for an electric stove and water heater.

A week or two later I got a call from Ferrellgas from someone in their Risk Management Department. I called her back and gave her an earful about their lousy customer service and lack of communication with me and told her I wasn't paying the bill and wanted no further communication with this company ever again. She apologized but sympathized. I haven't received another bill or any other communication from them since then. Good.

I called a local electrician and he seemed eager to help. He made a date to some give me an estimate for the job and then didn't show up nor did he call. No customer service here. I wasn't as surprised by that action as it seems commonplace with anyone in the trades and I have experienced such attitudes in the past. But I still need an electrician. I had thought Home Depot would be good as I could buy the appliances there and they would take care of the install but Home Depot doesn't do electricity. I was on my own for that.

Really feeling lost in Customer No Service a friend of mine came through for me. Wendy has a cousin who is an electrician and he is a man of his word. He called me, came out to the house the next day, gave an estimate and is coming on Friday to do the work. Finally somebody who actually provides true customer service.

I guess I shouldn't be so surprised about the lack of customer service these days. It seems to be a widespread occurrence not simply isolated incidents. It still leaves me wondering, though. How is a business supposed to stay in business and be successful if they don't take the time and attention to care for their existing customers when they have a problem?

I guess that is really just a rhetorical question anymore?

Heavy sigh,

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