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Saturday, August 19, 2006
Yesterday I had the privilege of joining Shane Frith, David Farrar (both pictured below in front of the home on Rancho del Cielo) and other right wing thinking young folk involved with the IYDU to an incite of the 40th President of the United States of America, Ronald W Reagan. It was a spectacular and very informing day.
After I arrived in Santa Barbara the first speaker was Presidential speech writer Peter Robinson. He spent six years in the White House, serving from 1982 to 1983 as chief speechwriter to Vice President George Bush and from 1983 to 1988 as special assistant and speechwriter to President Ronald Reagan. How he got the job was very interesting, but I guess that if we were at the Auckland Club that would be Chatham House rules.
Peter wrote the historic Berlin Wall address in which President Reagan called on Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall!". From the sounds of it, it went down to the wire as to weather the words "tear down this wall" were to be included in the legendary speech that may well have been the straw that broke the camels back for communism. Contrary to advice given to him, the President chose to use the words and history was made.
This is me with Mr Robinson in front of a authentic piece of the Berlin Wall. It is just a pity that my eyes are shut......
After the very informative speech by Mr Robinson, we hopped aboard a bus for the 45 minute drive to "The Western White House", The Reagans 688 Acre ranch called Rancho del Cielo "Ranch in the sky". The property was reported to have been purchased by Governor of California and First Lady Reagan for $547,000 towards the end of his second term in 1974.
The property is not opened to the public and was purchased from Nancy Reagan by the Young America's Foundation in 1997 for around $4million. The property was left in it's original state as built by the President and is fully furnished including the book Witness by Whittaker Chambers which was a book that the President used as a guide during his time in office.
It was truly amazing to see the property and the humble home which had no A/C or fan in the bathroom from what I could see. The main house would have been less than 1000 Sq Ft and consisted of two bedrooms, a dining room with a magnificent outlook over the ranch and a 70's style kitchen. We were told that although the President didn't like to drink often, his favorite beverage with alcohol was a screwdriver which he would mix up in the small bar by the kitchen. I was pleased to see a sheep skin on the floor which was from New Zealand..... Maybe Mr and Mrs Muldoon visited the ranch at one point?
Out on the front lawn by the lake that Ronald Reagan dug out, John Barletta the Presidents riding partner and Secret Service agent gave us a speech about the President and gave us some great stories. John was with the President for 18 years and became one of his best friends. He has written a book called Riding with Reagan which has a lot of great stories about the President on the ranch.
John Barletta in the middle with myself and a gentleman from the Canadian contingent.
One in particular was funny. There was a grey heron that used to torment the goldfish and animals on the ranch. It was known to be particularly snappy and The Gipper was not to fond of it. One day the President spotted the bird and pulled out a pistol and fired a shot. We were not told if it connected with the heron, but what is known is that 50 secret service agents in their office just up the hill heard this shot and presumed the worse. They radioed John and asked for info. He said that all was fine as the President had shot.... They were not the best of words for him to pick, creating a massive panic for 50 agents. All was quickly sorted out and John promised to inform the agents before anything like that happened again.
Lake Lucky and the dock Ronald Reagan built by hand.
After having a nice time with John Barletta, we went for a tour of the ranch. We first went to a new area which has been added since the Reagan's sold the property. This is the area where all the people who donate to the project are honored called Freedom Wall. I have a nice picture of David Farrar next to a bronze of RWR with his cowboy hat on.
From there we walked to the Presidents utility shed complete with Jeep, an as new Subaru Brat, and this.......
The First Lawnmover complete with the seal of the President of the USA on the hood.... I particularly liked this one.
I then had the honor of ringing the bell that #40 would ring to notify Mrs Reagan that her horse was ready to mount ( pardon the pun ) in which they would ride off into the yonder accompanied by John Barletta and a swarm of Secret Service agents.
It was extremely peaceful up there, and I can see how anyone would like to use the place to relax (not that the President did much of that) think and recharge.
A magnificent day and I thank IYDU for the opportunity. It was also great to catch up with Shane and his "fiance", as well as meeting Kiwiblog author David Farrar.
Posted by Rob Good at 9:34 PM
I am very excited to have just purchased 4 tickets to Guns and Roses's first West Coast gig in Las Vegas in quite some time.
The gig is to be held at The Joint at the Hard Rock Cafe on September 16th and according to reasonable reports, the venue holds 1500 people...
Last time I saw G'N'R play it was Axl's 30th birthday in Auckland NZ. He is now 44 I believe, so I hope he is ready to Rock and Roll.
The much anticipated album Chinese Democracy is due out sometime this year, and according the AXL on K-ROQ radio on Friday, we should expect to hear 5-7 of the new songs at the concert...
I can't wait.
Posted by Rob Good at 4:48 PM
Monday, August 14, 2006
I just watched on CSPAN 2 versions of the interview presented to the public last night, by 88 year old veteran reporter Mike Wallace, of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
I must say that both versions were of interest, but the uncut version which was run exclusively on CSPAN tonight was the best. I am of the understanding that the Iranian President requested that CSPAN run the uncut version tonight, and I am glad they did.
It is very obvious that the Iranian President is not Israel's biggest fan calling Israel and everyone he does not like zionists. He never once said the word Israel to what I could hear and he still seems to be confused about the holocaust. He thinks that there needs to be more research on the subject and thinks that there is governments or people out there not allowing further research into the gruesome subject. He wonders why if the Nazi's caused the holocaust why it is that the Jewish people claim in his words Palestine as their new homeland, and not somewhere else.
He stated the Iran is a peaceful country having not initiated an invasion or caused a war with any country for over 200 years. He was quick to quote that since the US has been in place he is of the opinion that the US has started 105 wars or invasions....
He was very cagey and evaded the direct questions with a smile and another question. Some people are commenting that Mike Wallace was condescending to the Iranian President, but I couldn't see that. I am sure if he was interviewing George Bush or Tony Blair, or Helen Clark for that matter that he would have been just as direct with them.
It seemed very clear to me that in the interview the Iranian President was trying to reach out to the west by saying that he believed in peace and that his interests in nuclear technology is for generating power for the future of his country. He feels that the west wants to control the generation of power so as they can push their ideas upon the rest of the world, and he does not like oppression that he says US is putting upon his friends in Iraq.
The question was put to him of what he thought of US President George Bush. He managed not to say anything derogatory per SE, but inferred that his letter (all 18 pages of it) to the US President he was trying to I guess give him advice and ask questions as why a man who believes in Jesus would be invading other countries and supposably causing oppression... He did bluff over the question that Iran is supplying ammunition to hezbollah by saying that USA is supplying ammunition and technology to Israel. He quoted UN resolutions a few times by stating that anyone is allowed to defend their home.... Seems that he has prepared for the interview.
He stated that it has been 26-27 years since high level correspondence has been between the USA and Iran. He says that it was not Iran that cut ties, and is seems rather obvious to me that by writing his letter, creating a new blog, and doing this interview that he is interested in talks with the USA, or at least sympathy from the general US public.
Having said that I still think he is a dangerous man who cunningly accepted this interview with Mike Wallace so as the UN (who he may well think of zionist's too) will not be as harsh on Iran when it is time for sanctions and anything else that may come Iran's way.
He shot down that comment that his letter to President Bush was a publicity stunt and I can see some folk over here wondering why George Bush didn't reply....
I think that what his plan was.....
The interview was interesting.... If you get the opportunity to see it do so.
After watching the interview, I guess I have some questions.....
Do you think that the President of Iran should have been given the interview, and do you think that George Bush in good faith should have replied to the President of Iran's 18 page letter?
Posted by Rob Good at 10:53 PM
Sunday, August 13, 2006
I came across the news on Reuters that the President of Iran has created a blog / website dedicated to himself. It is not nearly as good as ACT Leader Rodney Hide's site, but just for the curiosity of it here is the link.
P.S I am not a fan of AhMADinejad and this link is here just so you can see what sort misguided person he is.
Posted by Rob Good at 4:24 PM
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Sunday, August 06, 2006
After 113 Grand Prix starts Englishman Jenson Button with Honda finally wins a race.
Congratulations.... Well deserved.
Both Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher had to retire from todays race, along with Kimi who started from pole position in Hungary....
A magnificent race indeed.
Posted by Rob Good at 7:08 AM
Saturday, August 05, 2006
It is rumored that BMW F1 driver Jacques Villeneuve could be heading for NASCAR next year. This was recently reported in the Journal de Montreal newspaper. The story suggested that Villeneuve has already signed a pre contract with a NASCAR team conditional on him not finding an F1 drive. He would spend one season racing in the Busch Series and then move into the Nextel Cup in 2008. The existence of a deal has been denied by Villeneuve, but it is clear that there is contact with NASCAR teams.
It has been said before, but with what is happening in Hungary at the moment with the 3rd driver replacing Jacques, there seems to be very little chance of Villeneuve returning to F1 again.
This would really boost the ratings of NASCAR with Juan Pablo Montoya already confirmed with Ganassi NASCAR next year. Nothing like seeing Jacques and JPM wheel to wheel.
Plus the money is very good in NASCAR and you can race well into your 40's.
Way to go I guess, although F1 wont be the same without Villeneuve and Montoya.
Posted by Rob Good at 10:30 AM
Dallas Texas USA... Panda Ethanol Inc. announced that its Hereford subsidiary has successfully completed the debt financing on its 100 million gallon ethanol plant in Hereford, Texas. The company will immediately begin facility construction on the 380-acre site and anticipates ethanol production to commence in the second half of 2007.
The first of its kind facility will generate the steam used to manufacture ethanol by gasifying more than 1 billion pounds of cow manure a year, making it one of the most fuel efficient ethanol refineries in the nation. Once completed, it will be the largest biomass fueled ethanol plant in the United States.
This is fantastic news. Not only is the manure plentiful in Hereford, but when the process is finished you have Ethanol, warm water and ash which can be used for making concrete. The plant is expected to be 90% self sufficient.
I have been posting on Ethanol before, and I must say that the Govt of NZ should be closely watching and learning about Panda Ethanol Inc. It would not hurt NZ to start up an self sufficient ethanol plant that will provide renewable fuel for locals without relying on foreign oil.
Hereford has been dubbed the Saudi Arabia of dung.... At least a company with some ingenuity has taken advantage of the situation.
Shouldn't NZ be working on something like this too?
Posted by Rob Good at 10:15 AM
Thursday, August 03, 2006
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Veteran Cuban leader Fidel Castro has temporarily handed power to his brother Raul because of illness.
A statement written by the president and read out on TV by his personal secretary said Mr Castro had undergone surgery to halt internal bleeding.
The Cuban leader, who turns 80 this month, said a punishing schedule in recent weeks had affected his health. He has not been in the best of health for a couple of years.
This is the first time Mr Castro has relinquished any of his duties since he came to power in 1959, which means that it must be more than small surgery for this to happen.
Raul Castro, the defence minister, has long been designated as his successor should he become incapacitated.
Cuba has a communist style, one-party system.
In his statement, Fidel Castro said a recent trip to Argentina and last week's anniversary of the Cuban Revolution had caused him "days and nights of non-stop work" and put him under "extreme stress", resulting intestinal bleeding he said, which meant he needed an operation which would require several weeks of rest.
"Since our country is threatened by the US Government under circumstances such as these," the statement said, Mr Castro had delegated his functions as president and first secretary of the Communist Party to his brother Raul, who is 75.
The BBC's Stephen Gibbs in Havana says the fact that the Cuban leader did not appear in person to read the letter has added to speculation about the gravity of his condition. Is Castro dead?
There is no question that something serious is happening to Fidel, and this may be a major turning point for Cuba.
Handing over the reins of power will be a shock to many Cubans, 70% of whom have known no other leader, our correspondent says - and the external enemies of Mr Castro will doubtless believe this is the moment for change.
Fidel Castro has been among the world's longest-ruling leaders - outlasting nine US presidents.
The White House said it was monitoring the situation, but did not wish to speculate on Mr Castro's health.
"We will continue to work for the day of Cuba's freedom," said spokesman Peter Watkins.
***Update*** He is back and recovering nicely, according to himself.
Posted by Rob Good at 9:13 AM