Saturday, April 7, 2007

2008 Presidential Candidates-Room For More?

Time is running there still enough for any more candidates to enter the race? Well, some of the sources seems to think there is. I guess this may be true, but what would be the reason to enter the race? Isn't the field already set? Isn't it a two party race? Is there a chance anyone other than a Democrat or Republican will win?

Who could still enter the race?

The Democrat hopefuls are former Vice President Al Gore. After "winning" an Oscar for his "green" documentary, his stock has risen....I'm sure he still feels he was "robbed" in the 2000 election.

The Republican hopefuls are former speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, Nebraskan Senator Chuck Hagel, Fred Thompson, former Tennessee Senator, and New York Mayor, Michael Bloomberg (The moderate Republican was a lifelong Democrat before he changed parties to run for mayor in 2001 and avoid a crowded Democratic field).

From the NY Sun, one longtime Washington observer, Stephen Hess of George Washington University, noted that some who don't intend to run toy with the public in order to bring attention to themselves or particular issues. " Richard Nixon said virtually the same thing to me in '64. ‘Let them think I'm a candidate for a while. It gives visibility to things I want to say,'" Mr. Hess said. "

Here's a quick look at some of the most-discussed presidential prospects not currently in, or firmly out of, the race.

Contender: Vice President Gore
Chance of entry: less than 10%, according to a former aide.
Selling points: Hugely popular with the Democratic base; seen as soothsayer on global warming; could raise quick cash.
Drawbacks: Could be tied to scandals of Clinton era; anti-Bush and anti-war rants might alienate swing voters.

Contender: Fred Thompson, former Republican senator from Tennessee
Chance of entry: 50%, according to a source close to Mr. Thompson quoted by National Review
Selling points: Widely known from movies and "Law and Order," could rekindle
Reagan magic; acceptable to moderates and GOP base.
Drawbacks: Only eight years in the Senate but nearly two decades as a lobbyist; support for campaign finance laws could irk some conservatives; presence in race of Wisconsin governor with the same last name could confuse headlines and debates.

Contender: Mayor Bloomberg
Chance of entry: 80%, if Democrats and Republicans nominate candidates such as John Edwards or Mr. Romney, according to a former mayoral adviser, Ester Fuchs.
Selling points: Can bankroll campaign from Bloomberg LP fortune; record as get-it-done manager in unwieldy New York; running as an independent could make him the ultimate outsider.
Drawbacks: Shares some "nanny-state" tendencies with Mrs. Clinton; New York sensibility might not play in Peoria; untested in national politics.

Contender: Newt Gingrich, former House speaker.
Chance of entry: 30% (Sun estimate)
Selling points: Conservative icon with a national following; future-focused; has built ties with some Democratic leaders
Drawbacks: Still detested by many Democrats; lacked political savvy during government shutdown and impeachment crises; tends to make provocative off-the-cuff remarks.

Contender: Senator Hagel of Nebraska
Chance of entry: 40% (Sun estimate)
Selling points: Could consolidate Republican anti-war vote and pick up
Reagan Democrats; Vietnam background adds credibility
Drawbacks: Path to GOP nomination not apparent; advocacy for immigration
reform could neuter effort to win Buchananite constituency; talk of impeachment puts him to left of Democratic leaders.

Why Gas Prices Continue To Go Higher

April 6th, 2007
Gasoline prices are still rising, with the national average for a gallon of regular self serve up 2 cents overnight at $2.72.

Easter holiday and spring break travel are driving up gasoline demand, assuring that prices will remain high through at least through this weekend.

Consumers in Bridgeport, California are hit the hardest at the pump with a gallon of regular costing $3.99. The cheapest gallon of regular on sale in the country costs $2.35 and can be found in Glasgow, Kentucky.

California: Gas prices have continued to rise in Southern California by almost a penny a day, and have come within 15 cents of last May's all-time record prices, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California.

Prices are rising on reports that even in April, American's demand for gasoline is nearing levels typically seen in mid-summer and that this year's hurricane season is expected to be active.

So, what are the reasons given for why California is paying more at the pump than the rest of the nation?

1. Early start of Daylight Savings Time has increased the amount of fuel being consumed. The opposite effect that was hoped for....we were supposed to save on energy by going to daylight savings time several weeks earlier. Instead of saving energy, apparently many Americans decided to take advantage of the extra daylight to drive MORE!

2. Supply and Demand. California's refineries are stretched to capacity, so any additional stress on the system drives supply down, and hence, prices go up. In addition, they are also saying it is a distribution problem, with most of the refineries and pipelines out of the state.

California's special blend, with its reduced levels of smog-producing ingredients such as aromatic hydrocarbons, adds about 10 cents a gallon to the cost of gasoline. Because California refineries don't make enough gas to answer the demand, the state must import gas from the few refineries — two on the Gulf Coast and a few overseas — that can make the special blend.

4. The cost of importing gasoline adds 10 to 15 cents a gallon to the price. It also makes gas prices in California more volatile, because instead of a steady stream of gas arriving via a pipeline, some days a lot of gas arrives and some days none arrives at all.

5. California's higher gas taxes add another approximately 13 cents per gallon, according to the American Petroleum Institute.

If cleaner-burning fuel adds 10 cents, shipping costs 10 to 15 cents and taxes 13 cents, that accounts for 33 to 38 cents — and on average over the last five or six years, California gas has cost 20 to 25 cents more than the rest of the nation.

But right now gas is 60 cents more than the rest of the country.

Where does the extra 22 to 27 cents come from?

It looks like it's all about profit!

6. Profit. Sometimes (oil companies) make a lot of money because the market is really tight and demand pushes up the price.

California Energy Commission data show that the average price for a branded gallon of unleaded was $3.08 on March 19, with a crude oil cost of $1.32 a gallon.

The refineries' margins that day — their profits plus the cost of making the gas — were $1.12 a gallon.

Compare that to March 20, 2006, when commission data show branded gas retailed for $2.64 a gallon, with a crude oil cost of $1.39 and the refineries' margins were 66 cents.

7. Refinery disruptions. Some of the current difference may be because of an unusual number of recent refinery disruptions. (These almost appear to be planned to hit when the demand is the highest)

Each disruption further restricts the supply of available gasoline, helping keep prices high.

Exxon Mobil Corp.'s refinery in Torrance, for instance, has been running below maximum capacity since February for maintenance.

Then, on March 22, a unit shut down after a malfunction, a problem that will take a week or two to resolve.

Other California refineries have had problems recently, with a fire in San Ramon-based Chevron Corp.'s Richmond refinery in January.

Also, the refineries are switching from the winter blend of gas to the cleaner-burning summer blend.

This disrupts supply because refineries let their supplies of the winter blend of fuel decline in anticipation of replacing them with the summer blend.

Oil companies manipulate the price of oil so their profit and their stock will go up.

There's no reason gas should be $3.40 a gallon when we were paying $2.40 a gallon in October, other than the fact that the oil companies can do it. The price of producing the gas hasn't gone up since then. The cost of crude oil hasn't changed appreciably.

Exxon Mobil, the world's biggest publicly traded oil company, reported that profit rose 9 percent in 2006 to $39.5 billion, the largest annual profit by a U.S. corporation.

Meanwhile, Chevron reported its best-ever annual profit in 2006, $17.1 billion, up 22 percent from 2005.

What are your thoughts on this? Are we really paying the correct price at the pump, or are we being "fleeced"?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Why the Democrats Keep Stirring the Pot

It's kind of like picking at a scab, a sore that never goes away or gets better....the Democrat's sense victory in 2008 by picking at everything in the Bush administration that's just not quite right. What are the things that they are focusing on NOW? Well, I'd say the two more important one's are the Iraq War and it's funding and the Attorney General flap!

Yesterday, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' liaison with the White House refused to answer questions at the Senate hearings about the firings of eight U.S. attorneys, citing her Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination.

The House voted 329-78 to strip the attorney general of his power to indefinitely appoint federal prosecutors, approving a bill similar to one passed in the Senate. President Bush has signaled that he will not veto the legislation.

On the Iraq War Funding, Bush said "The clock is ticking for our troops in the field. If Congress fails to pass a bill to fund our troops on the front lines, the American people will know who to hold responsible."

Bush spoke as the Senate moved toward passage of legislation that would require the beginning of a troop withdrawal within 120 days, and would set a goal of March 31, 2008, for its completion.

The House approved a more sweeping measure last week, including a mandatory withdrawal deadline for nearly all combat troops of Sept. 1, 2008.

Both bills would provide more than $90 billion to sustain military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Democratic leaders, determined to force Bush to change course in Iraq, also disputed his contention that Congress would be to blame for any funding difficulties in a war they have vowed to end.

Time will tell if the Democrats are successful. I believe they want Bush to fail in Iraq, and are doing everything they can, smelling a landslide victory in the 2008 elections.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

"Strawberry Ice" - It's Not Ice Cream or Candy!

U.S. drug enforcement officials are becoming concerned that a candy flavor given to methamphetamine may represent a new focus on creating younger users.

Drug traffickers are having a tough time selling this product, especially to young people. The meth dealers have to come up with some sort of gimmick to lure in new customers, no matter what their age, by making the drug seem less dangerous.

The flavored drug, known as "strawberry ice", has already proved popular with young addicts in the States, according to US drug enforcement agent Sarah Cullen.

"During the manufacture process, they are cooking it with a strawberry flavoring and some pink reddish food colouring. They're manufacturing and pushing them into pills and really they’re marketed towards kids."

The Us took too long to confront ice's devastating effect on users, crime and society, says agent Cullen. "This is something you'll never stop. We're at the US/Mexico border, where every day and night drug mules are lining up here to smuggle ice in from Tijuana."

In addition to the strawberry flavoring, chocolate and cola are also being used. It's only a matter of time before the middle schools and elementary schools have some students selling this stuff to our grand children. Warn them before it's too late!

"Paper or Plastic"- No Longer an Option?

Tuesday, San Francisco became the first city in the United States to outlaw non-recyclable plastic bags from use in supermarkets, drugstores and other large retailers.

The Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance, written by Mirkarimi and co-sponsored by six other supervisors, gives major supermarket chains with more than $2 million in annual sales six months to make the switch to biodegradable bags. Pharmacies and retailers with at least five locations have one year. Violators face fines of up to $500.

By a 10-1 vote, the Board of Supervisors required the use of compostable or recyclable bags — a move officials predicted could soon be imitated by other cities. Each year, businesses here dispense an estimated 180 million plastic bags that ultimately kill marine life and clog landfills, said Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi.

At a news conference before the bill's passage, Mirkarimi handed out canvas shopping bags that read "SF Environment: Our Home. Our City. Our Planet." The new law calls for bags that are reusable or made of recyclable paper or plastic that can be composted.

Advocates say biodegradable bags are stronger than conventional petroleum-based polyurethane plastic bags. In his office before the news conference, Mirkarimi produced a biodegradable bag holding 55 pounds of rocks.

A typical plastic bag cost less than a penny to produce. Paper bags cost about 5 cents apiece. The newer biodegradable bags, made from materials such as potato starch, each cost 4 to 8 cents, but advocates say the price will drop with increased demand. Currently only 1 percent of plastic bags are recycled, city officials said.

So, is Al Gore behind this? Does his "stock" go up because of the step San Francisco has made? Will other cities follow suit? As seniors, will it become more expensive to shop? Will you take your own bags to the store to save on expenses? How about letting me know your thoughts on can post them here on our blog!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Late Nite Catechism 2 at The Grove

At the urging of my wife, I agreed to go to a play at The Grove, in Upland, CA. I was not disappointed. It was enjoyable, and I especially had a great time watching my wife laugh over and over at the things Sister spoke of in the play. It brought back memories to Bonnie, growing up in a Catholic family, in Ohio in the 1950's!

The play was interactive. Sister had a list of the names of the audience, and referred to it repeatedly during the performance, calling on many to answer questions, remove gum from their mouths, cover up exposed parts of the body, etc.

For those of you that are interested in attending this "live" event, or any other at the Grove, I've given you the link:

Below is one of the many reviews of the play. We had one member who was called on repeatedly, Ray, the husband of Barbara, one of my wife's fellow teachers. Ray got several "rewards" from Sister for giving the right answers. Another member of the audience took the Ten Commandments paper, folded it and turned it into a paper airplane, sending it flying onstage!

Late Nite Catechism 2 is another “Catechism Class” with Sister focusing this time on Penance and the Ten Commandments. Sister spends most of the first act focusing on Heaven, Hell, Purgatory and Limbo... using her fantastic improvisation and audience interaction skills to “guilt” the audience, reminding us that we are “selfish, weak, and lazy” for failing to follow the proper path set forth by the Catholic Church. However, lest you think you are in for hours of lecturing and painful reminders, Sister peppers each comment and thought with humor and love and the audience reacts back in turn. Act Two focuses mostly on the Ten Commandments and questions from the audience regarding them. Sister handles these questions with tact, beauty, and total control even when audience members try to “upstage” Sister.

From a non-Catholic standpoint, Late Night Catechism 2 is actually instructional in addition to being humorous. Sister is constantly affirming other faiths and makes sure that the audience knows that “we’re trying to include the Jewish people” and people of other faiths. Though presented humorously, the information actually instructs and guides, and we leave the show not only laughing at ourselves and others, but a little bit wiser in regards to the Catholic Faith.

It’s not just stand-up comedy. It’s not just instruction. It’s not just a play. It’s Sister infusing the audience with her beautiful presence, knowledge, and soul. Sister doesn’t even stop when the “performance” is over. She stands in the lobby, thanking each guest, and collecting money for the real Sisters who are retiring and need monetary assistance.

Don George Restaurant, A Nice Place To Dine!

Yesterday, my wife said she wanted pasta. We planned on attending the Grove, in Upland, CA, to see Late Nite Catechism 2, a one person play about Sisterhood in the Catholic church. See my review of the play on a separate post.

Well, I decided to use the Internet and search the immediate area around the theater for an Italian Restaurant. I came up with three, and chose Don George at 922 N. Central Ave., Upland, CA 91786. The phone number is 909 946-6548, and fax no. 909 946-0899. Their hours of operation are Mon - Thur 8:00AM to 7:00PM, and Fri - Sat until 8:30PM.

I've provided a link for the map/location:

Map of Don George Restaurant
922 N Central Ave
Upland, CA 91786-3530

A nice selection of American, Hispanic and Italian dishes for dinner. For our 1st time, both my wife and I chose pastas. She had Spaghetti and Meat Balls, and I had Cheese Ravioli with meat sauce. The dinners come with a small salad and bread. We added two glasses of a nice red wine. The dinner for two was over $40, including the wine and an 18% tip!

Jorge Salan is the owner, and a native of Guatemala. He personally greeted us at the table and welcomed us to his restaurant. He's been in the restaurant business for years, and has served as an executive chef at the Hilton, as well as working in the food preparation area for American Airlines. He's been at this location for just over a year. It is a family ran business. We were served quickly, and the food was hot!

The menu also offers a nice breakfast selection (from 8:00AM to 10:30AM), including the traditional eggs, bacon, or sausage served with hash browns and toast, or huevos rancheros, among others. The lunch selection of both hot and cold sandwiches includes burgers, Philly cheese steak, meatballs, wraps and is served with french fries.

Jorge also offers catering for all occasions. He is presently expanding this part of his operation, and recently added some catering functions at some of the UCLA sporting events.

I would recommend this restaurant to all who enjoy good food at a great price. It's better than dining at a fast food location, and there's room to stretch your legs! The decor is modest, the lighting adequate and there are nice murals adorning the walls.