Saturday, September 30, 2006

Bob Woodward Book Timing Hurts President Bush

Bob Woodward of Richard Nixon and Watergate fame has just released a new book in which he says many top officials in the Bush administration are in denial about the War in Iraq. Since the book is being released one month before a major election where Democrats hope to regain control of the US Senate and House of Representatives, there are going to be many political partisans who believe this new book is designed to hurt President Bush and his Republican allies in Congress.

I guess I am more cynical than most because I believe the timeliness of this book release is more related to money than it is to politics. The November congressional elections are topic number one on all the major newscast and in thousands of newspapers around the US. A book which examines the inter workings of the Bush administration when it comes to the War in Iraq will most likely find huge financial success if released only one month before a big election.

Bob Woodward has written other books and some of them have been favorable to the Bush administration and Woodward interviewed even President Bush himself for one of his books about the events of 911. While Bob Woodward does live in the fish bowl most folks refer to as Washington DC, he has found ways to work with both Republican and Democratic politicians over the years in his reporting for the Washington Post and for his various book projects.

There are big doubts as to what people at the top levels of government were thinking in the lead up, during the fighting and in the aftermath of the War in Iraq. For years, the American people were told one thing when it came to the reasoning for the war, but over time that reason has changed to something else which probably could not be sold to the American people even after the events of 911. There are folks who are trying to rewrite history and this time those folks are mainly Republicans who don’t want to lose political clout because of the failures of nation building in Iraq.

There may be a certain amount of politics involved in the October release of Bob Woodward’s new book, but I have no doubt that any political plus for the Democrats is far outweighed by the potential financial payoff for the book’s publishers. Over the next few weeks folks in the news media will micromanage all the details released in this new book and it will be interesting to see if Bob Woodward’s facts hold up to the kind a scrutiny the national media and political pundit’s on the right will put it under. While I enjoy reading what Woodward writes in the Post and in his books, he is certainly a much better writer than he is a communicator when he appears on interview TV shows promoting his various ventures.

Read more about Iraq War:

Polls Drive Network Iraq War Coverage
President Addresses The Nation - Iraq War
Democrats Should Be Ashamed Of Petraeus Treatment
Senator Joe Biden Turns On General Petraeus
al-Qaida's Bin Laden - President's Best Friend

Will There Be An October Election Surprise?

While the month of October is still several hours away, something new and out of left field might have a lasting effect on the upcoming November congressional elections. The quick and unexpected resignation of Congressman Mark Foley of Florida will once again shine a negative light on Republican leadership in Congress. One of the interesting twists in the Mark Foley story is that he was one of the new congressmen who were swept into office in 1994 when the Republicans first took over control of the US House of Representatives.

With the disgusting email and instant message communications sent from Congressman Foley to a 16 year old boy who served as a page in the US House of Representatives, new focus will be placed on all Republicans, many of whom have known about these allegations for up to a year and took no action against their colleague. Unfortunately, this whole situation is taking on the appearance of a good old boy network that first and foremost protects their own interests and their own power base in DC.

Throughout the entire history of the US there has been phenomenon happen during most election cycles and that phenomenon is called the “October Surprise” which seems to happen either by accident or on purpose during the final few weeks of a campaign which propels one side or the other into power. I can see the whole Mark Foley situation turning ugly because he is a member of the GOP which stands for family values as one of their base issues. Why the leadership of the House of Representative may have known about this outrage situation and did nothing about it until almost election time is unbelievable and down right stupid from a political party’s point of view.

I don’t think anyone outside of a few folks inside the House of Representatives leadership even knew much about this Mark Foley situation until a few days ago. However, the speed at which Congressman Foley resigned his office proved to me that he was most definitely in the wrong and he knew that his communications with the young boy would not come off looking innocent and just a powerful man trying to be a role model for the young man in Louisiana. This case does prove the perverts come in all shapes and sizes and they also come from all income brackets and positions of power.

People who prey on young boys, like Congressman Foley has allegedly done are sick in the head and no matter what other people think or even the real possibility they will be caught and punished doesn’t seem to slow them down one bit in the conquest of minors who are not well equipment to fight them off. Many political pundits where on TV today saying that this whole story is going to fade away quickly, but I’m not so sure about that. For Republicans to be successful in November they must get their core voters to the polls and this outrageous action by one of their own isn’t going to help in that goal.

Friday, September 29, 2006

The Deciding Factor Is The War In Iraq

While Democrats and Republican can’t seem to agree on anything this election year, there is one subject, which both sides believe will be the deciding factor in congressional elections this year. If the American people are focused on the War in Iraq in November, then most experts on both sides of the political fence believe that the Democrats will win. However, if the American people are more concerned about their own personal safety and view another US terrorist attack is emanate, then the Republicans will win. It is sad that with so many other major issues not being addressed in Washington right now that these two similar, but quite different issues are what most experts believe the electorate will consider most important.

While experts will always disagree on what will cause the American people to cast their votes for one party more than the other, I still believe this election is more about turnout than it is about which issue is most important to the American people. So far, I have not seen one positive political ad on television this election season. Most of the commercials I have seen are so negative and so hateful that it is down right disgusting. I know what the candidates are doing and that is to motivate their voter base to get out and vote in November. This election is going to be like all the others when all the “hot air” from pundits finally cools off. The winners will have gotten their base voters to the polls and the losers will have been less successful.

One of the candidates for Governor here in Texas believes all this negative advertising from Republicans and Democrats is designed to encourage the majority of Americans in the political middle ground to become disgusted with politics and just stay home on election day. While I doubt if any political consultant might design a strategy to accomplish such a feat, it does make sense that it is in both major political party’s benefit to not only try and keep their opponents voters at home on election day, but also those folks in the middle who are not as predictable in their voting patterns.

President Bush has been on the road making speeches the past few weeks trying to make this election about “terrorism” and the Democrats and some of their allies in the US media are trying just as hard to make this election about the "War in Iraq". I know it won’t happen, but I would love to see a 50-60% voter turnout in November. That kind of massive voter turn out would cause all the experts to have no idea what is going to happen to their candidates. Small voter turnouts benefit the status quo and I believe both Republicans and Democrats prefer to run that kind of campaign over one directed at the majority of the American people. A huge voter turn out in November would also cause both party strategist to rethink the 2008 election and that would be a good thing because both party’s would have to consider the majority, rather than the minority in their future political calculations.

Daily Archives: | 02, 04, 07, 10, 13, 16, 19, 22, 25, 28

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Bailey Colorado School Tragedy - Man With A Gun

Why do people want to terrorize young children? Yesterday in Bailey Colorado a man walked into a classroom and deliberately picked out six young girls to hold hostage at gun point. I grew up in a small town in Texas about the same size as Bailey, CO and back in the 1970’s we never heard of stuff like this happening at any of our local schools. For the life of me, I don’t understand why some people feel a need to kidnap, terrorize and kill young people who are going to school. After Columbine, people were talking about why those two young students went crazy and killed their fellow classmates. At least during that tragedy there was some logical reason why these young men went off the deep end, at least it was reported at the time they were considered outcasts and they were picked on by some of the other students.

Now unfortunately there will be another round of “knee jerk” proposals, which will be floated around the country about the dangers of guns and the need to pass further gun control laws on Americans. Instead of focusing on what this sick man used as his lethal weapon, doesn’t it make more sense to try and find out what is in the minds of these types of individuals? I have advocated for a long time that the brains of folks who go off the deep end and kill children and then kill themselves be studied by experts in the field to try and find out why they lose control. I believe something is wrong in the brains of all of these killers and none of us are going to be safe until society at least understands what the problem might be.

There are real mental and medical problems associated with most of these senseless killings, but unfortunately the legal community is usually much more interested in affixing some kind of blame to a person, locking them up and then moving on. While I don’t blame law enforcement and prosecutors for doing their job to the best of their ability, the American people need to look at this problem in a more broad context than just the biblical “eye for an eye” type of way. It is important to learn what is inside these folks which make them at least capable of terrible criminal behavior and treatment options must be found to stop this violence before it ever leads to another tragedy.

It is time for the American people to start looking for answers to this problem instead of taking the simplistic approach of just talking about good versus evil in people. Sure there are bad people who have evil intentions in their hearts, but my guess is nearly all of these evil people had something wrong in the brains or genetic makeup a long time before they carried out senseless murders. This problem will continue to get worse until the public starts demanding real answers as to what causes certain people to snap and commit murders against children. Today, there is outrage and sadness in Bailey, Colorado and people in this small town are in shock that murder somehow found its way to their local school yesterday. At some point in time this issue must be explored by scientist who will examine this issue from a medical point of view. However, right now with raw emotions running through the minds of millions of Americans, no one will consider a real solution to this ongoing problem and that fact is just one more thing to add to the list of tragedy’s from this latest school shooting.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Cowboys' Terrell Owens ('T.O.') Attempts Suicide In Dallas?

Before going to bed last night I saw breaking news that Terrell Owens (T.O.) had been taken to a hospital in an apparent suicide attempt. Today, the story is being reported much differently after his PR machine has taken a simple 911 call and police and EMS reports and added their spin to what really happened last night. While I don’t know the whole truth about what happened, there are some interesting twists to this story and none of the reports about what really happened last night will help the Dallas Cowboys in this weekend’s game. The biggest problem with Terrell Owens is his own narcissism gets in the way of using his talents to help the teams he plays on have winning seasons.

No one doubts the talent’s that T.O. brings to the football field, but almost no one doubts that these football talents come at a big price to the teams he plays with. Anytime a professional football team has a player who is more concerned with himself than helping his team win football games isn’t worth having. In a couple of weeks Dallas will be playing their conference rival Philadelphia, who last had Owens as one of their players. One can only guess how happy folks are in Philly right now that the Cowboys took this problem player away from their beloved Eagles franchise. My neighbor is a big Dallas Cowboy fan and he has been excited about Terrell Owens joining the team ever since Jerry Jones made the announcement many months ago. Since that time we have had several long conversations about whether or not it was a good move for the Cowboys to sign T.O. to their team.

My neighbor has been much more positive about Owens joining the Cowboys than I have. I personally believe that T.O. has personal mental health issues, which cause him to always desire to have the spotlight of success shine only on him. I told my neighbor months ago that the answer of whether or not adding Terrell Owens to the Cowboys would be a positive move would be know before November. Unfortunately, it has not taken that long to see that these problems are still not far behind T.O. no matter what city or football franchise he plays for. In the NFL today, being a great athlete on the field is only one part of what makes a player great. Great athlete have to be able to play as a team and able to share the public spotlight with other players on the team.

While we may never know what exactly happened at Terrell Owens home last night, before that 911 call was made. We do know that once again all the media attention is focused on T.O. and not the Dallas Cowboys as a team. This can not be good for the team when it comes to focus and winning football games. The biggest “soap opera” in the NFL has moved from Philadelphia to Dallas this year and from where I sit there is no telling what is going to happen next.

Daily Archives: | 02, 04, 07, 10, 13, 16, 19, 22, 25, 28

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Finger Pointing Game Begins Before November Election

The old game of “whose to blame” is in full swing in DC again as the November elections draw closer. The latest chapter started on Sunday as former President Bill Clinton lashed out at Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace and today Secretary of State Condi Rice is answering his charges. The old “blame game” has been around forever in US politics because there is a large group of people in the United States that fixates more on placing blame on someone for a problem than looking for solutions. When I saw the Secretary of State Rice was answering these charges from former President Clinton I was shocked until I realized how many folks live in the US who will believe anything they hear on television without checking things out on their own.

There are already “finger pointing games” going on in television commercials here in Texas because we have a strong four way race going on for governor and a tough Congressional race going on right here in Central Texas. I wrote the other day about how these negative campaign ads get on my nerves with each candidate calling the other a “liar” and other negative stuff like that. One of the guys running for Governor of Texas as an independent said the other day that the Republicans and Democrats are spending millions of dollars this year to drive most folks AWAY from the polls. I had never thought about it in that way, but I think he might have a point.

Life would be so much better if more folks would focus on the positive, rather than having the need to always affix blame on someone for every bad thing that happens. Every now and then there are some folks who enter public service for evil reasons, but lucky for us, most of the time, the candidates from both major political party’s and the independent candidates as well run for office because they desire to do good. It is just the process of getting elected in the first place, which muddies the water up so much that many people find it hard to trust public servants.

The path to a leadership position in Washington and in most states is one lined with causing the voters to fear the other candidate more than you. I guess the people who vote are more motivated by fear than they are about real results because both political party’s use fear to get their core voters to the poll. This technique leaves a huge majority of the people in the middle afraid to vote for either one of the major party candidates. For as long as I can remember, “get out the vote efforts” have not been about increasing the numbers of people voting, but are designed to scare a party’s base voters to the polls on election day. Considering the amount of time and money which is being spent in this congressional campaign scaring people into voting, it will be amazing if 25% of the voters even bother to show up on election day.

Monday, September 25, 2006

HEB Supermarket Movie Machine Problems

The past couple of times my wife and I have rented a movie from a movie rental machine at our local HEB supermarket, the movies have not worked right and for the life of me I can’t figure out what is wrong with them. Here’s what happens, we put the movie in our DVD machine, start watching the movie and in about one hour the movie just stops working. We have other DVD’s that we have purchased from other stores and we are able to watch them from start to finish with no problem. I guess we will just have to quit using the HEB machine, even though it is convenient and cheap to do so. I still think the problem might be with our DVD machine, but I can’t tie down what the problem might be.

This problem brings up a huge issue when using these DVD rental machines instead of going to “Blockbuster” or using a rental by mail service like “Net Flix”. While there is an 800 number to call if there are problems with a rental, I have never called it. Instead we will most likely end up going back to Blockbuster and paying more for video rentals because we have not experienced the same problem with their service. I know what you are probably saying to yourself right now and you’re right. We all get what we pay for, but like most folks I still keep hoping that someone will find a way to offer $1 per day DVD movie rentals, that work the way they are suppose to.

I have written before about how good the idea is to have these movie rental machines in high traffic locations which people go to several times per week, anyway. I know we are not the only folks who have forgot to return movies on time to a retail location like Blockbuster and when we forget to return these movies on time, the late charges will begin to add up very quickly. The reason I like this HEB DVD machine is because we are going to visit that store a couple of times per week for various things to eat around the house. The only reason we go to Blockbuster is to rent movies and if we are not in a movie mood, there really isn’t anything else to purchase at their stores, which would cause us to go there in the first place.

While these DVD rental machines are a good idea, there are definitely some bugs that still need to be worked out of the system before they should go mainstream. The biggest bug I can think of is this constant stopping problem. Last night I was wondering if these DVD’s have some kind of protection device on them which prevents them from being view again in their entirety if someone who rented them before tried to make a copy of the movie for their own use? I don’t know enough about this technology to speculate on whether this might be a problem with these types of DVD’s, but if it is possible and that is what’s happening, then this new movie rental system will enjoy a short life with the American people.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

US Players Face Ryder Defeat In 2006

The United States may have the best golfers in the world, but when it comes to playing as a team, the European’s have got us beat, hands down. There are some sports, which are designed to be team sports and others for individual efforts. I believe it is a mistake to mix these two types of sporting events and try to make a team sport out of a game that was never designed to be played that way on the professional level. Like so many other aspects of professional sports new ways to play the game are developed more for television than for the love of the game. I read the other day that Michael Jordan is a big Ryder Cup fan and that he always finds a way to attend these matches and cheer on his good friend, Tiger Woods.

Michael Jordan is best know for his superior play in the NBA, which is most definitely a team sport. No one would even think about breaking up teams in the NBA and trying to turn those players into individual athletes. Then why do folks desire to turn individual golfers into team players for this once a year event? Like so many things in life, a good thing should be left alone and not tinkered with to try and find another revenue stream for a game, which is already loaded with money and high price tag endorsement deals. I certainly would like to see the Americans win, from time to time, at the Ryder Cup, but my main love of the game of golf comes on Saturday’s and Sunday’s during the regular golf season.

It is very understandable to me why Michael Jordan loves the Ryder Cup so much and that is because the individual game of golf becomes a team sport for a short time each year and Michael Jordan is a player with a bunch of experience playing in a sport which requires team effort. Most of the cable news programs have been speculating, as usual, today as the whether the controversy over fake nude pictures of Tiger Woods wife cause the American team to play badly this year. I think that kind of talk is silly because Tiger Woods and all other members of both of these teams are professional and as a professional they know how to concentrate on their game no matter what distractions might come their way.

While there are those who consider Ryder Cup play the peak of yearly golf excitement, I certainly don’t feel the same way. I would much rather watch great golfers from all countries compete in the Masters or US Open any day of the week rather than watching match play with a bunch of guys who are more at home perfecting their own game rather than trying to play the game of golf as a team. I wish the powers that be would leave teams sports and individual sports alone and let the fans enjoy the game(s) they way they were meant to be played instead of always trying to reinvent the wheel.

Read more: NASCAR, NFL, Climbing, Baseball, NBA

US Ryder Defeat

Daily Archives: | 02, 04, 07, 10, 13, 16, 19, 22, 25, 28

Saturday, September 23, 2006

New Orleans Saints Back Home After Hurricane Katrina

The last time the New Orleans Superdome was in use was during Hurricane Katrina when thousands of residents took refuge inside its doors for many days. After this sports facility was pretty much destroyed by the hurricane and the people inside, once again it is ready for NFL Football this weekend. A bunch of things have changed in the New Orleans area since the pre Hurricane Katrina days, including the fact that the city of New Orleans is now about half the size, population wise, as it was before the storm. There were those who said that the New Orleans Saints ownership would probably bolt from this area after their football stadium was pretty much destroyed, but they have as of yet not up and left this city for another.

For the most part of last years NFL season and the first part of this one the New Orleans Saints have played football in Shreveport, Louisiana in a college football stadium. More than likely most of their hard core fans have not seen them play in person since Hurricane Katrina and this weekend will be something extra special for fans who really need something positive to cheer about in New Orleans. To me it is a sad state of affairs when a professional football team can get their field back in shape before hundreds of thousands of residents can return home, but this is just the world we live in today and most likely thousands of people who use to call New Orleans home will now decide to call their new city home in future years.

While New Orleans will never be exactly the same as it was before Hurricane Katrina, maybe there is hope that this proud city will somehow become a better place to live and work because of the new construction going on within its city limits signs. Recently, there have been reports of an increasing crime problem in New Orleans and now National Guard Troops will help police for the next few years until the local police force can be rebuilt after many officers just left town when all the problems started during and after Katrina. I certainly hope that New Orleans will do a better job at hiring and training police officers in the future because folks who decide to follow a career of public service should first and foremost be concerned about the people they serve and not their own selfish needs.

Now that New Orleans has their Saints football team back in town and good music and food being served once again in the French Quarter, many of the old sights and sounds are coming back to this old and proud city. However, one can only hope that some of the worst aspects of New Orleans have left that city for good. Problems like corruption within the police department and out of control gang activity in many of this cities neighborhoods will hopefully move on to some other place where authorities are better equipped to deal with this problem I know in Houston, where many people were relocated that crime is on the increase, but from what I have heard the State of Texas and Houston police are gearing up to fight this problem in the near future.

Very few people have taken the time to say thank you to the City of Shreveport Louisiana for taking in the New Orleans Saints football team while the Superdome has been rebuilt, but they should and I will thank them. My wife and I have spent many a weekend night over the years in the cities of Shreveport and Bossier City and we can both attest to the fact that the folks who call these two cities home have big hearts and one of the nicest community personalities we have ever seen.

Related: Katrina Problems Linger, Mardi Gras Crowds, Separating Criminals, Hurricane Katrina

Saints Back Home

Central Texas Campaign Goes Negative - Edwards/Taylor

I was watching some television this afternoon when a negative campaign ad came on television which was paid for by our local US Representative Chet Edwards against his Republican opponent for Congress, Van Taylor. Representative Edwards has been in Congress for a long time serving the people of Central Texas and while I mainly trend Republican in my voting history, I usually vote for Chet Edwards because I believe he is one of the few truly moderate folks left in the Democratic Party. I was a little bit shocked today when I saw this negative campaign commercial from Edwards against Taylor because I just assumed that Congressman Edwards was probably in the drivers seat when it comes to leading in this election race.

The ad I saw talked about Van Taylor owning a bunch of stock in drug companies and the ad said, Van Taylor, was against senior citizens being able to purchase prescriptions from Canada at a lower cost. I have not seen or heard of any recent public opinion polls in this area which indicate which one of these candidates is ahead in this race for Congress, but judging only from the tone of Congressman Edwards advertisement, he must be feeling some heat from his challenger. The two biggest advantages Van Taylor has in this upcoming race are that he is a Gulf War Veteran and a Republican in a district which has been redrawn to favor Republican candidates. Maybe this is the reason that Congressman Edwards has decided to go negative in his TV ads so early in this campaign year.

Personally, I think Chet Edwards will and should be reelected in the fall. I work at night and don’t watch very much prime time television, so I just asked my wife if Van Taylor has been running negative campaign ads on television. She informed me that he had been running a bunch of television advertisement the past week or so and they were very negative against Chet Edwards. With that knowledge it makes sense that Congressman Edwards is just responding to negative ads which are being run against him by Taylor. It is amazing how much a person can miss when it comes to television ads when they work at night and don’t watch prime-time television. If it were not for my interest in the Ryder Cup this afternoon, I might not of seen any of these most recent campaign ads.

Fred Barns was on Fox News a few weeks ago saying that he thought Van Taylor had a good chance of defeating Chet Edwards in this fall’s campaign. My personal opinion is that even in this very Republican redrawn district, this race is Chet Edwards to lose. While I like Chet Edwards, I don’t like negative advertisements on either side when it comes to political races. I do understand that this is apparently the path a candidate must take to win political office, but the whole process of cutting down an opponent, when both men in this race for Congress seem like honorable men, doesn't seem like the right thing to do.

Civil War Continues - War Against Terrorism

Dozen more people were killed in Iraq today as the never-ending blood shed there continues without any reduction in site. Almost every neutral observer of this war has declared for months that the nation of Iraq has been engaged in a civil war, but the Bush administration is refusing to admit the obvious to themselves and the American people. President Bush has done a wonderful job in recent weeks doing what he can to change the subject in Washington from the War in Iraq to the War against Terrorism and his approval numbers have made a move to the upside. However, this War in Iraq has more to do with a good exit strategy than a date when victory will be seen and accomplished.

President Bush’s desire to take down Saddam was some type of personal obsession in my view because he and other members of his administration didn’t have a workable plan of how to manage rebuilding such an important country once it was taken apart by the US military. History has taught leaders who care to research it that people and nations are much easier to tear apart than they are to put back together again and Iraq, after Saddam, is adding to that very important history lesson. I know why hard core Republicans and the Bush administration don’t want to admit there is a civil war happening in Iraq and that reason is if they admit failure at this point in time it will hurt their chances of victory in the November congressional elections.

I believe most Americans know that what is happening in Iraq today is a civil war and they also know that it is impossible for any military, even one as large and strong as the United States should not and can not win a civil war. This is the reason why a large majority of the American people have decided to end their support of the Bush administration’s plan to keep troops involved in the daily fighting in Iraq and why so many people want President Bush to find some way to get our troops out of that war torn country. Compared to most nations, the US is very young and when a nation as young as we are has a military that is second to none in the world, mistakes in military judgment are going to be made and with those mistakes many lives of young men and women will be put in jeopardy.

Now the world is faced with other growing threats, due in part to our military policies in Iraq. Iran and Venezuela mock the US almost on a daily basis because of the mistakes our government has made in Iraq. Last night I saw a news report that said our US soldiers are wearing so thin because of this civil war fighting in Iraq that the Pentagon might have to start calling up reserve troops one against to help support the regular army troops, already there, who are on their third or fourth deployment. While I have voted Republican most of my life, it is so important this November to elected leaders who will offer some type of balance to the debate of what should happen next in Iraq. Unfortunately, my political party has made the decision that the only winning formula is to stay the course and let more US troops die in a dead end civil war in Iraq.

Surely, there are better options available other than to stay the course, or cut and run in Iraq. Everyday I believe more and more that neither of these two options are a winning strategy and I hope for other more bold ideas on this subject to come forward in the upcoming months. In the beginning I supported President Bush in his decision to go to war in Iraq because I trusted what he was telling me about his reasons for committing our troops to this far away land. However, as time has gone by many of his reason have proven to be wrong and rather than admit to his mistakes in judgment, the President has decided to stay the course even when doing so puts our troops in harms way in civil war which was caused by our decision to go to war in Iraq in the first place. How this whole mess will finally play out is anyone’s guess, but at this point in time the two major strategy’s of staying the course or packing up and leaving immediately are both bad and hopefully better ideas will enter this war debate after this November’s elections.

Good Choices Make A Big Difference In Life

Life is always about choices, but most folks never give the choices they make on a daily basis much thought at all. Most people I meet believe that either life has been good to them or bad depending on events which have transpired during their existence on Earth. The truth is that making good choices on a daily basis could change the lives of many people in a more profound way than they might think. The real trick to making good choices work for a person is to first convince them that bad or poor choices have lead to their unhappiness in life. Most folks decide to just blame others when things don’t go right, rather than looking inward at what they might have done differently to bring about a different result.

While most people find it easy to see big mistakes they make, what most folks miss are the little choices they make every single day that add up to either moving them forward with a happy and prosperous life or backward into a downward spiral. I know many people who seem to make the same mistake over and over again and they somehow are brainwashed into thinking that if they just do some type of behavior a little bit different the next time it will somehow work out better for them. I have a good friend who has a hard time living in happiness unless there is some kind of new relationship somewhere down the road.

This thinking has lead him to all kinds of problems with women in the past and as far as I know he still keeps running that same pattern over and over again even though it always leads him to an unhappy place and causes his financial future to be in jeopardy. In another example, I work with a young man who is hell bent on never following any kind of authority either in his personal life or at work. This young man is always in trouble at work and he can’t seem to figure out why no one likes him or is impressed with his above average intellect. The truth is that this young man is very smart when it comes to technology, but he is failing badly when it comes to getting along with others he works with and especially his supervisors.

I have learned that the most simple changes in life can be the most profound and as I have grown older I have learned that it makes much more sense to go with the flow rather that swim upstream all my life. There are things in life worth fight for and the real intelligence starts in knowing the difference between something we should fight for and something we should just go along with. I wonder sometimes when I see single mothers who grow old with no man in their life, what kind of a difference abstinence would have made in their life when they were younger? I wonder, if they had not become pregnant at an early age would their life have been more fulfilling? I don’t know the answer and maybe for some, one bad choice will lead to many more good choices in the future.

I do know this, that people will never find true happiness in life if they don’t start to realize that their small daily choices add up to a life of their own choosing. No one will ever find true happiness if they constantly blame others when their own choices put them square in the mess they are current living in. It is so much easier to blame other for the bad choices we make, rather than taking responsibility for our own actions and doing the hard work necessary to make better choices in the future.

Hillary Clinton Should Lead Her Party Forward

Even in a year when Democrats should dominate the November congressional elections there are big doubts as to how successful their goal of taking over control of the US House of Representatives will be. What is really missing in the Democratic Party is a leader who knows how to win campaigns and keep the issues squarely focused until November. The only Democrat I know of that could manage such a feat is former President Bill Clinton, but unfortunately he has his hands full right now getting billionaires to shed some of their money for folks in need around the globe.

Most of the time I vote Republican, but I do desire some sharing of power in Washington DC because I have had my fill of total GOP domination of all branches of the government. That said, I think the Democrats will blow this golden opportunity to regain power in Washington this November because they have elected as their leader a man who doesn’t even appear mentally stable named Howard Dean. The real leader of the Democratic Party is former President Bill Clinton, but he is not interested in the job of party leader at this time. Without someone who knows how to win tough races in very GOP districts, my guess is that the Democrats will do something stupid at the last minute of this falls campaign and snatch defeat from the arms of victory.

I believe former President Clinton did some immoral things when he was in office, but the American people have forgiven him. There is no doubt that Bill Clinton knows how politics work in the US and he knows how to frame issues in a way that will benefit either himself or others in his party. Both the GOP and Democrats are too loyal to extremist on either side of the political spectrum, but President Clinton has found the right formula to thread that nettle to victory on two different occasions when most folks that I know didn’t think he had a chance. People don’t call him “Slick Willie” for nothing because while far right Republicans hate almost everything he says and does, what they hate the most is his ability to win elections and move the American people to his way of thinking.

I know it won’t happen, but if Democratic leaders wish to see their party win this November, they need to somehow convince former President Clinton to become the leader of the DNC and allow him to spend their money in a way which will lead to victory. I have said before and I will say again that given enough time, Howard Dean, the current DNC chairman will find a way to turn the American away from the Democratic Party between now and election day. While Republicans dislike former President Clinton a great deal, leaders within the GOP know of his ability to win elections and the Democratic Party should see the wisdom of convincing this former President to take on the challenge of becoming their party leader before their current chairman finds a way to say something stupid, once again.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Killing For Baby’s - Mothers Being Murdered For Infant

In the past few weeks there have been several instances where crazy people have tried to kill the mother’s of newborn baby’s in order to steal their unborn or recently born children. For the life of me I can not understand how any person could become so crazy that they actually would believe they could get away with such a crime. This type of attack goes far beyond a breakdown in moral behavior and enters into a realm of mental illness most folks can’t even image. While long and difficult prison sentences should follow people who are convicted of these types of crimes, there must be something else going on inside of people which cause them believe that they are entitled to take another persons life in order to steal their baby.

Some expert on television the other day was suggesting that people stop putting out little yard signs, which announce the birth of a child. While this might make sense, it doesn’t even come close to trying to understand this crime and how to stop it. I have seen these new baby announcement yard signs for years and every time I drive by a house that has one it makes me smile with joy for the new parents who live there. What will these experts ask folks to do next? Stop putting birth announcements in the local newspaper because parents will fear that some nut will read the paper and then show up at their house ready to kill the mother and steal her baby?

Maybe I am old fashion and not fully realizing the dangers of this world, but honest people should be able to rejoice in the birth of their child without feeling the need to hiding out and hunkering down in fear that someone will try and steal their baby. The truth is in a nation of over 300 million people these types of acts don’t happen that often and unfortunately there will always be experts who advise everyone to change their behavior every time something crazy like this happens. Don’t get me wrong, if I were a new dad I might not have as militant of an attitude as I am writing here today because my first concern would be for my wife and newborn child.

It is just the fact that good people have to change their behavior because of criminals that bothers me. It should be the criminals that are required to change and not the rest of us. I guess we all do change over time because as a kid my family never locked the doors of our house, even after we went to bed. Today, I don’t know a single family who would knowingly leave their doors unlocked while they are sleeping. We all have to be aware of strange behavior in others and always be careful in what we reveal to others who might seem like our friends, but harbor evil feelings inside their heart. I know it is not realistic, but I do wish a day when the world was safer and families didn’t have to hunker down and hide when a new blessed life appears on this Earth.

Fast Train Crews Repair Damage Quickly

A few days ago there was a big train derailment in nearby Crawford Texas. Around 30 cars left the tracks and one of the railroad cars had some type of hazardous material that caused a brief evacuation of some of the residents. Less than 24 hours after this accident, railroad crews had removed the derailed cars and repaired the tracks to the point that trains could once again pass through downtown Crawford. I told a coworker last night that I had no idea that repair crews that worked for the railroads could do so much work in less than a day.

I believe most of the personnel and equipment the railroad needed to make these repairs so quickly must have been somewhere in the area already or this work would have taken much longer to clean up. I did not drive by the scene of the Crawford train derailment, but I did see pictures on our Waco late local news the night it happened. From what I saw everything looked like a total mess out there and when something as heavy as railroad cars leave their tracks, it does take special equipment just to lift those cars and either remove them from the area or get them back on the actual tracks they fell off of.

Like many young boys, my first idea of a career was to join the railroad and travel the vast reaches of the United States via that job. I think I first had these thoughts for two reasons. First my dad always talked about how folks who worked for the railroad made incomes which were pretty good compared to what other folks earned in small town American. Also, I still remember laying in my bed late at night and hearing the sounds of a freight train way off in the distance first getting louder as it approached town and then slowly fading away into the distance as this train made it way down the tracks.

There is something very peaceful created in the mind as a person lays in bed, almost asleep, listening to the sounds of a train moving up and down the railroad tracks. From time to time I am able to hear those sounds here in Waco and every time I do I think back to those days as a young boy when I heard those mile long freight trains, loaded with coal, slowly moving down the tracks in the middle of the night.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Generic Drug Reduction - Wal-Mart Lowers Prices

I say three cheers to Wal-Mart and their decision to start offering hundreds of generic drugs at their pharmacies for only $4. With the possible exception of oil and gas prices, the cost of prescription drugs in the United States is growing faster than the average person can afford to pay. While I realize this drop in the price of generic drugs will not effect the big named products which cost $100 per month or more, at least it is a start and there are many good generic alternatives available to consumers if they tell their doctor they want one. While the buzz today was whether Wal-Mart’s other pharmacy competition will match their prices, my guess is they will match them or they will be in a whole lot of trouble, financial, because of the sheer number of Wal-Mart Pharmacies around the country.

While major drug companies advertise their latest drug offerings in magazines and on national television, the truth is that many other drugs are just as effective at treating many illnesses and these drugs can be purchased for much less money. Over the past 20 years or so I believe the major drug companies have been able to influence doctors to prescribe their new drugs to patients with slick incentive packages and all expense paid trips for doctors and their employees. The real loser in these types of incentive packages are the doctors patients who might get well just as fast if the doctor prescribed a cheaper generic drug to his or her patient.

I have said before and I will say again that it was a mistake for the US federal government to allow prescription drugs to be advertised on television like automobiles. Even if doctors are professional enough to tell their patients they don’t need the latest drug being advertised, the folks who do need that medication must pay a higher price just to cover the advertising costs. I see no need in companies advertising products, which by their very nature can not be purchased by consumers unless medical doctors find a good reason for their consumption. Major drug companies use a two-prong approach when marketing their drugs. First they hit the consumers in magazine and television ads encouraging them to visit their doctor for the medication and then their sales representatives offer lavish gifts to doctors if they write a bunch of prescriptions for that drug companies products.

While this might not be a complete conflict of interest, it certainly does come close and it certainly doesn’t pass the smell test for some doctors who are profiting by prescribing medication which is either not needed or when a cheaper generic will take care of the patients problem just fine. I have noticed over the past few years that some doctors really try hard to talk patients out of requesting generic medication and the only logical reason why they would do this is that they are putting their own personal financial interest ahead of the interest of their patents. Please don’t get me wrong, I believe most doctors would never put the interest of a drug company ahead of their patients, but I have no doubt that some do and that is always wrong.

While millions of Americans may hate Wal-Mart and the tremendous damage they have done to mom and pop stores across the country, the truth is that no one except Wal-Mart would have been able to pull off such a big deal in the prescription business. Unfortunately, patients are going to need to become more firm with their doctor when he or she writes a prescription for them. Patient's should insist that a generic equivalent be added to each of their prescriptions. While it may take a long time, eventually many people will begin to change their attitude when talking to their doctor about generic alternatives and they will demand they be use instead of expensive brand named drugs which are no better, but cost much more.

Read more: Prices, Medical, Vitamins, Plan, Food

Generic Drug Reduction

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Citgo Boycott Talk - Chavez Insults Bush

I have heard some talk radio hosts call for a boycott of Citgo gas because of the recent comments made by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez against President Bush. While this might make sense from a narrow point of view, all that is going to happen if Americans boycott Citgo is that they are going to hurt Americans who own, operate and work at these locations. Americans independently own these gas stations and convenience stores and these owners hire other Americans to work in their stores. A Venezuelan company does own the Citgo name and ships millions of barrels of crude oil to the US, which it refines within the US border.

However, in this crazy world in which we live the oil and gas products produced in this Venezuelan refinery are not just shipped to Citgo gas pumps, but to other stations around the country. In fact, many Citgo stations don’t even purchase their gas product from Citgo refineries. I wish the world were a more simple place where people who are angry at the comments President Chavez made at the UN and in Harlem would be able to show their dislike of his comments. However, the world isn't simple anymore and it is very difficult for the American people to economically hurt Chavez without hurting hard working Americans who also disapprove of the Venezuelan President’s comments.

Americans have for too long taken a knee jerk approach to boycotting businesses and governments in which they politically disagree. The oil and gas business is so diversified these days between the production, refining, distributing and retail sale of product that it is next to impossible for the average person to know exactly who is profiting when they put gas into their car. I remember several years ago watching a large tanker truck pull up at an Exxon station and unload gas and then pull across the street and unload the same gas at a Phillips 66 station. The tanker truck did not have an oil company name on it, so it was probably a local wholesaler who was delivering the gas to all stations who needed the product.

It might be a good idea for the federal government to mandate that gas stations and convenience stores display which companies refined and wholesaled their product so consumers would have a chance to let their voices be heard in situations like this. However, if and when that is done it will certainly be years before any real action could be implemented at retail gas locations. Right now the worst thing any of us could do is boycott Citgo gas pumps thinking that we are hurting the Chavez government because of his stupid and uninformed comments. Please lets all try and not take a knee jerk approach to hurt an evil man when the only thing we will be accomplishing is hurting other hard working Americans who have nothing to do with this mans comments.

Denver Arrest Made In Dragging Death

I wrote yesterday about some poor woman who was dragged to her death for over a mile behind a vehicle in Denver. Late last night, Colorado police said they had arrested a man in connection with this ladies death and while everyone should be presumed innocent until proven guilty, hopefully the police have the right man in custody in this most brutal murder. Initial report say the man arrested is an illegal immigrant to the US and this will bring up huge cries from some folks who want to put a stop to people entering the US through our southern border.

In a few US cities, mayors and city councils have been passing new laws to try and get control over the growing problem of illegal immigration to their communities and to this country. The sad truth is that these kinds of activities will get a boost because of this terrible murder in Denver. The job of US border security is a federal government problem, but as we have all seen neither major political party wants to deal with the out of control southern border with Mexico because they are afraid of a Latino backlash against them at the polls. With the federal government sitting on their hands, local governments are passing new laws to try and slow the problem in their own communities.

There is a huge problem for everyone when local communities start passing laws, which should be taken care of on the federal government level. The biggest of these problems involve racism. Without a big pool of opinions at the federal government level, what will happen in too many small communities is that local elected officials will too often times be controlled by angry mobs which are nothing more than racist against people of Mexican heritage. I don’t remember the name of the city, but in Pennsylvania one city has passed an anti-immigration law which has the potential of discriminating against legal residents just because of their skin color.

This new city law will put harsh fines and/or jail sentences on employers and landlords who hire or offer housing to illegal immigrates. While this might sound like a good policy to some folks, in reality what is going to happen is that employers and landlords will stop hiring and offering housing to Mexican Americans, period. While I don’t blame cities for trying to do something about the US immigration problem, it is not their responsibly and these matters should be left up to the federal government to sort out. Another problem with having different cities passing different immigration laws will be the confusion it will cause for the public, landlords and employers in the area.

The mayor of this Pennsylvania town said on television a few weeks back that the reason his city was passing these new laws was because of the increased crime level they are experiencing from illegal immigrants. While experiences will vary from city to city, my personal experience is that illegal immigrants are mainly hard working folks who try and stay out of site when they are not doing their jobs. However, if this guy arrested in Denver turns out to be guilty of dragging this poor woman to her death and he also turns out to be an illegal immigrant, then there will be a rush of US cities that will pass their own immigration laws in the upcoming months and this should put pressure on the federal government to finally get off the fence and do the job the American people sent them to Washington to do in the first place.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Move Over IHOP - McDonald's All Day Breakfast

For people like me who enjoy eating breakfast at all hours of the day and night, some of the best news in years was released by McDonald’s today saying that soon they will start offering their breakfast menu all day long. There have been many occasions when my wife and I have made a special trip to IHOP or Denny’s just to eat breakfast for our dinner meal. While our actions might seem strange to some, it is not at all uncommon for folks to desire a bacon, eggs and pancakes meal even at night. From what I read today, McDonald’s will soon be remodeling their locations with a larger kitchen which will allow them to serve breakfast anytime the customer wants to order from that menu.

As I have written here before, my wife and I work different shifts so breakfast for one person is not at the same time as it is for another. I usually wake up around one or two o’clock in the afternoon and many days I would love to eat a breakfast meal, which I don’t have to cook. However, in our mid sized town there are only a handful of restaurants who serve breakfast all day long and all of those restaurants are what I call full sit down facilities without a speedy drive through window. I believe McDonald’s is onto something big here and time will prove this breakfast all day long decision to be a popular one with their customers. Too many times I have entered a McDonald’s restaurant a little bit after 11am hoping to order one of their breakfast meals only to be told by the attendant that I came in too late to order breakfast.

With the possible exception of McDonald’s French-Fries, none of their current food offerings are as good as their breakfast meals. On many occasions I have stopped into McDonald’s before the sun ever came up and order an inexpensive meal of bacon, sausage and pancakes for under five dollars. Add to this meal their delicious coffee, which use to be hotter before they were sued and any American consumer can get a healthy and feeling breakfast at McDonald’s. Research studies show that there are more and more Americans who are working shifts other than 8am-5pm these days and why should millions of people not be able to order breakfast when it is their breakfast time of the day?

On almost every out of town trip my wife and I have taken over the almost 20 years of our marriage we have gone through a McDonald’s drive through window for something to eat before either driving or flying out of town. We always order the same thing. We get one large coffee, which we share and my wife orders an Egg McMuffin and I order two Sausage Biscuits before we head for our destination. How nice it will be in the future for us when we decide to leave on our trips at night and still be able to visit our same neighborhood McDonald’s restaurant and order the same thing we have always ordered for breakfast.

Related: Right Food Choices

Move Over IHOP

Rates Holding Steady - No Federal Reserve Increase

There was some good news today when the US Federal Reserve decided to not increase interest rates this month. From what I have been reading, the past six months or so have turned the once booming housing market from a sellers to a buyers market and the main reason for this turn around has been the almost monthly increases by the Federal Reserve in core interest rates. Right now is when the job of Federal Reserve Board governors will become really hard and if they make the wrong move at the wrong time they could do long term damage to the US economy.

For several years the US consumer has experienced nothing other than low interest rates which have spread economic expansion through the US economy. However, with this robust grow there comes a danger of inflation and when the Federal Reserve believes that inflation is starting to appear, their job is to increase interest rates to stop its spread. Every year millions of young people become adults and many have not learned in school the powerful lessons necessary to help them understand the ups and downs of the US economy. I’m not sure if they just didn’t pay attention in school or the education system doesn’t teach them properly the way the United States works.

The reason I believe young people are not listening to the lessons of history is because most adults under the age of 30 decide to finance their new home using an adjustable mortgage these days. Short term history would make it seem like that decision is a good one, but a quick study of past interest rate movements in the United States should send up a warning flare to anyone who decides to take a chance on an adjustable mortgage. The main reason the housing marketing has change from a seller to a buyers market is because every time the Federal Reserve increases rates, adjustable mortgages will be adjusted and fixed rate mortgages will increase as well.

I have read examples of adjustable rate mortgages increasing from $700 per month to over $1500 within the past year and many folks will find it difficult to get out from under such a mortgage by selling their home as market conditions continue to change. Unfortunately, real estate agents are also part of the problem when it comes to young impressionable folks buying their first house. Too many times real estate agents over sell young people in a house because they have access to adjustable rate mortgages which will lower the initial payment enough to get people into a home which should be out of their current financial reach.

While it is good news that the Federal Reserve didn’t raise interest rates today, the current trend is toward higher rates and these men and women who sit on the board of governors at the Federal Reserve will tell anyone who ask that their primary goal is to prevent inflation and they will stop at nothing to keep the US inflation rate under control. Their job is not to insure a booming housing market and if anyone tells you different they are not explaining the Fed’s job properly.

Related: US Style Economy, Church State Issues

Rates Holding Steady

Sick Criminal Behavior - Women Stealing Unborn Children

It takes all kinds of people to make this world go round, but some people are certainly worse than others are. Last week I heard news of a young mother who had her throat slit by another woman who stole her young baby. There are terrible crimes committed in the United States every single day, but when one person decides they want to kill another in order to still their child, there is something really sick about that type of crime. The good news is that police were able to catch the person who committed this crime and return this young baby back to her mother who is still recovering from multiple stab wounds.

Then this morning I read about a woman who had been dragged behind a vehicle for more than a mile in the Denver Colorado area. So far, police have been unable to identify this lady because her face is not recognizable because of the sever trauma to her body from being dragged so far. This is the kind of story, which could cause even a hard-bitten realist to have nightmares at night. One thing is for sure and that is anyone who could commit such a crime against another should NEVER be allowed to walk free again and once he or she is caught they should not even be allowed to associate with other criminals in the prison system.

I guess these types of criminals have always been walking around in our midst, but there is so much more news coverage about these types of crimes today than there was generations ago. I have written a few times before about my belief that there is something genetically wrong with some folks who are this far gone when it comes to their cruelty to others. Most people want to find some kind of problem with how these criminals were raised by their parents to explain bad behavior, but I believe the problem is much more complex than just bad parenting issues. The human brain is a very complex type of computer, which is programmed with genetic traces from a father and mother, and in a certain percentage of people that genetic combination somehow gets messed up and truly bad people without a conscience are born.

I don’t believe that there is anyway to prevent this type of genetic flaw from happening to a certain percentage of the population so, in the future, society must find a way to identify this genetic defect and somehow track people who are most likely to commit despicable crimes because of a lack of compassion toward their fellow man. Sometimes when certain genes combine, true geniuses are created that take human evolution to the next positive level while other times truly evil people are created via the same process. Parenting can only go so far in the development of a person because I am convinced that personality is a trait we are all born with. I have seen good kids come out of bad homes while at the same time extremely evil kids are born into loving ones.

Society is still decades away from being able to reliably predict which children will grow up and become despicable criminals, but the day will come when honest, law abiding citizens will at least have a chance to discover which people have the potential to turn out to be such evil members of society. When that day comes there will be many questions and concerns about what effect this type of information will have on the children and the families of the kids identified as potential ticking time bombs. I am glad that I won’t be around when that discussion takes place, but in future generations it will be discussed and a totally new and different kind of profiling will be debated at that time.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Getting Married Debate - Divorce Kills Dream

There are millions of people in the US who choose to live together without getting married and from what I can tell this trend is growing as years go by. There are undoubtedly many reason why people choose to just live together rather than getting a license and taking the plunge, but I believe there are some pretty obvious reasons which most folks either won’t think about or refuse to discuss openly. I personally don’t believe that most folks are against the institution of marriage, but many have been scared away from it because of either previous bad experiences they have faced or legal loopholes which make it much tougher to get out of a marriage than it was to get into it in the first place.

Like so many other folks, my first marriage ended in divorce because when that marriage first started I was barely a man. At the time I thought I could accomplish anything and didn’t take the time necessary to know and understand what I was getting myself into. I was only 20 years old and within a year I was a 21-year-old father who was far from knowing anything about being a good husband or father. I did the best I could, but with the benefit of hindsight, I was grossly unqualified for the job of husband or father at that time of my life. Years of stress followed as my young girl grew up and it was clear that there were problems in my marriage before it finally ended in divorce after nine years.

While most of those nine years of marriage were anything but pleasant, the next few years after our seperation were down right miserable in comparison. Between the family law legal system and attorney’s fees just to make sure I didn’t lose contact with my young daughter, I became angry and disillusioned at the whole idea of marriage at a very early age. The problem is that no matter how hard two people try to have an amicable divorce, in the end there are issues of pain and hurt feelings, which will, from time to time, override common sense. That happen in my case and I’ve seen it happen in all divorces where young children are involved. I believe too many people get married before they are really old enough to understand that big decision and I see many young people today waiting a longer period of time before marriage and that is a very good thing.

While we are a nation of laws and the legal system must be involved in the break up of any marriage, I believe some attorney’s take advantage of folks who are in no position to think clearly for themselves. I personally I known attorney’s who have threatened to drop clients if they try and settle a divorce without a big fight. I have also known other attorney’s who have belittled their clients for giving in and letting their ex take advantage of them when they have tried to settle matters on their own. These kinds of tactic will cause many young people to decide to just live together rather than face the family court judicial system after another failed marriage. Don’t get me wrong there are plenty of good attorney’s who try and get failed marriages settled as soon as possible, but there are those bad attorney’s who try and drag things out until there is no money left for either side after a heated divorce.

When politician talk about the breakdown of families in the US these days, it is important to note than many folks make wrong decision when getting into a marriage and it should not take an “act of congress” just to fix their mistake. To expect anyone to make a logical decision when it comes to marriage and/or children is not a reasonable thing because marriage and children are the emotional triggers in everyone’s life. If people want to see more people enter into the institution of marriage, the first thing they need to do is make the process of getting out of a bad marriage easier and not harder for folks who live in a bad situation. I know this logic fly’s in the face of what most religious folks believe, but it is a fact that people are more likely to stay in a marriage when it is easy to just walk away. It is human nature 101 and it’s time that people better understand what really makes human beings really tick when it comes to emotional issues like marriage.

Labor Of Love - Hard Working Farmers

My father spent most of his life growing cotton in a small Texas town. From grade school until high school graduation I helped him out on our family farm and saw first hand how farming is most definitely a labor of love. While our family did have a decent standard of living, we were never rich except for one year when the rains came at just the right time and the price of cotton was high enough to turn a good profit. However, most years were filled with small problems and/or issues that caused stress because crop revenue was not equal to the amount of expense put into bringing a cotton crop to market.

I know there were times in my father’s life when he was depressed that his crops were not growing as fast as they should have because of lack of rain, but he never complained about things which were out of his control. There were other times when he needed rain so badly in those hot July days only to see a dark cloud come up late in the day containing hail which destroyed any hope of bring a profitable crop to market in the upcoming fall months. Later in life my father left farming and started a new career, but deep down in his soul he was still a farmer and he always kept up with news and weather reports from his old hometown.

The American people owe so much to men and women who work long days with no guarantee they will make any money for twelve months worth of work. When a person chooses farming as their occupation, there is no such thing as a 40-hour week or family time on the weekends. Farming is a seven day a week job which require lots of exposure to the elements and backbreaking labor. However, if there was a poll taken of men and women who earn their living in the farming business, I would bet that very few of these folks would choose a profession other than one in agriculture. Sure it is hard work, but there is something inside of farmers, which cause them to be most at peace after they put in a hard day of labor at their farm.

The past few days there has been a bunch of talk about the E. coli scare with fresh spinach and the real story behind the story most news organizations are not reporting as of yet is the stress and hardship spinach farmers are going to face for the next few years. None of the farmers involved in the growing of spinach had any clue there was a problem with their crops until people started getting sick several weeks ago. However, long after the news media moves on to other events, farmers mainly in the California area will be feeling the financial pain of this E. coli spinach story and some family farms will go out of business because of it.

Most farmers don’t expect the American consumer to understand or event respect what they do for a living. Mainly they are very private people who take great pride in their work and just want to be allowed to earn a living doing something they truly enjoy. While I decided to work in a different field than my father, I will always respect how hard it is to operate a profitable farming operation. The folks who continue to earn their living from this profession might not expect a pat on the back from consumers who purchase their products, but it wouldn’t be an unwelcome thing to do, either.

War About Religion - Christian v. Muslim Faith

In high school once a history teacher told me that most wars were fought over religion. I was young at the time and never really thought much about his comment until recently. Now with the War Against Terrorism in full swing and other battles going on in Iraq and other lands, I am beginning to see the wisdom of my former history teacher’s comment. In recent days, the Pope made statements, which offended Muslims, and then it took him days to apologize for those statements. Now even more hatred is being fueled around the world between Christians and Muslim. What is at the root of all battles taking place around the world right now? Just like my history teacher told me 30 years ago, at the root of most of this fighting there is religion and religious differences.

I believe the founding fathers of the United States knew hundreds of years ago that if allowed to enter government, religion would cause suffering and death to the US. However, there is a natural tendency of all religions to get into politics around the world and impose their belief system on everyone else. For generations the US tried to move in a secular type of system where the government looked after all people and religion was taught in churches, which were free from government interference. However, now days many churches are more about politics than they are about witnessing to the needs of the people and I am afraid of what might be in store for the US in the years to come if our government doesn’t move back to a more secular type of leadership.

There is a certain type of narcissism involved in this church and state issue and that blindness prevents people who are Christians from seeing that in many ways their goal of controlling government in the US could lead to the same type of problems as we have seen in Islamic states in the middle east. In some ways, these Islamic states are just ahead of the curve when it comes to imposing their views on the government and all of its citizens. To the best of my knowledge, no mainstream religion has at its core the forcing of others to follow its teachings. I know the Holy Bible talks about witnessing to others and if they don’t desire to follow, brush the dust off your shoes and move on.

The problems start when religious leaders begin to believe that they are more in touch with God than others in the world. I call this a God like complex, which causes them to seek great power and impose their belief system on the rest of the world. This type of attitude is found just as much in the Christian faith as it is in the Muslim world. However, the faithful can not see that trying to impose their views on others will not work and will most likely destroy their own religious freedoms over time. This is why I believe it is so important for all peoples to mind their own business and not try and impose their religious belief’s on others. A belief in God is shared by most people living on this Earth and when scriptures are not taken out of context, most are of a loving nature not one of war.

It is important for Christians and Muslim alike to keep a close eye on their religious leaders and make sure leaders who start to believe they are in closer touch with God than anyone else are not leading them astray. Any religious leader who teaches that God wants their religion to hate another has lost touch with their religious principles and should be ignored by the faithful. I believe in God and his teachings, but in recent times I am discussed with all forms of modern religions that do not have peace and love as their core foundations.

Related: Church State Issues

War About Religion

There Is A Touch of Fall In The Air Today

Here in Central Texas when someone talks about the temperatures outside cooling down this time of year, it really means that the afternoon high might reach 90 degrees instead of 100. However, there is a huge difference in how hot my body feels at 90 degrees compared to 100 plus. The past few days it has been pleasant outside even in the late afternoon and this cooling trend has a big effect on the attitude of folks around town whether they realize it or not.

As a youngster, I grew up in the Texas Panhandle and while that area of the United States is still considered Texas, the weather conditions up there are much different than they are anywhere else in Texas. A “touch of fall” in Amarillo or Lubbock Texas will feel like it does in most parts of the US. The weather is warm, but not hot during the daytime hours. However, after the sun goes down, a light sweater or windbreaker is needed if folks travel outside their homes. I must admit to missing those sweater nights in the Texas Panhandle during my younger years.

Most folks agree that the best time to live in Texas is during the winter because from November until February the outside temperatures in most parts of the state feel like fall does in most of the northern parts of the country. People who live in Central Texas are fond of saying that we only experience two of the four seasons each year and those seasons are summer and fall. After living through at least a full month of 100 degree plus temperatures, there is something really nice about daytime highs in the 80’s. Keep in mind it will still be several weeks before our high temperatures drop to only 80 degrees, but at least those days are close enough now to dream about.

I am not a rich man, but if I were I believe I would build a house in the mountains of Colorado and another one right here in Central Texas. I would spend six months at each residence so I would miss the biggest extremes in weather that both Texas and Colorado experience each year. However, there would be one time of year when I would break my two home strategy and that would be at Christmas time because the biggest thing I miss, living here in Central Texas during the holiday season, is the fact that it doesn’t snow here much, anymore. Christmas is so much more fun while watching snow falling and sipping chocolate in front of a beautiful fireplace.

NFL Perfection Tough - Few Unbeaten Teams

I am a huge NFL football fan and one thing, which has been proven year after year, is that perfection in the game of professional football is a tough thing to achieve. In the 1970’s Miami had a perfect year where they lost no games and eventually won the Superbowl. However, that type of season doesn’t happen that often and that is also why the game of professional football is so exciting to watch. I’ve always heard that any NFL team can beat another on any given Sunday and I believe that saying is still true. Of course there are some teams, which will dominate each season, but it is so hard to achieve a perfect season in the NFL.

In 2005 I really thought the Indianapolis Colt were headed for another 70’s style Miami Dolphins type of season, but in the end it wasn’t meant to be. As a die hard Dallas Cowboys fan it was tough to cheer for the Colts last season, but I secretly was hoping they would pull of the perfect NFL season and win the Superbowl. However, just like everything else in life, bumps in the road do come along the way and in Indianapolis there were several bumps, which derailed their chance at a perfect football season in 2005. The biggest bump was when they lost their first game, but that wasn’t the event in my opinion that derailed their possible Superbowl championship.

The Colts head coach, Tony Dungy lost his young son toward the end of last years NFL season and while people who play in the NFL are professionals, there is no doubt in my mind that the loss of coach Dungy’s son took much of the wind out of that Indianapolis Colts football team. I watched the Colts game on the first night of NBC Sunday Night Football last week and when I watch this coach Dungy team, it reminds me so much of old Dallas Cowboy teams that were coached by Tom Landry back in the 1970’s. In fact, Tony Dungy reminds me of Tom Landry when he coached the Cowboys. Both of these men have the same demeanor on the sideline, which is calm and collective no matter what is happening on the field.

I just read that the Pittsburgh Steelers lost their game Monday night so that ends any possibility that they will have a perfect season in 2006. Man the Steelers were sure tough in 2005, just like they were when playing the Cowboys back in the 1970’s when I was a young boy. In some ways it is a good thing that no NFL team can easily sweep a season with no losses, but when that one team every generation or two is able to achieve what is thought to be impossible it makes the event so much more exciting and memorable. Hopefully, during my lifetime I will once again be able to witness perfection in the NFL and see one team win all of their games in a single season. Who knows when that day will come again and what team will enter the history books as the next team to have a perfect NFL season?

Monday, September 18, 2006

Willie Nelson And Drugs - Texas Marijuana Arrest

Louisiana State Police gave Willie Nelson a citation last night after a traffic stop of his tour bus found small amounts of narcotic mushrooms and marijuana on board the bus. Several others were given citations as well and then allowed to go on their way. I remember several years ago a police officer in nearby Hewitt Texas saw a car parked on the I-35 access road and inside that car he found Willie Nelson asleep. After searching the car, small amounts of marijuana were found during this traffic stop as well. Our local newspaper reported that many of the police officers at the station wanted and received a personal autograph from Willie while he was processed through their jail.

I don’t smoke marijuana, but what is the big deal with folks who do? The other day I was watching Tucker Carlson on MSNBC and he said something which made a bunch of sense to me. He said that he has not met one person 30 years old or younger that believes that it should be illegal to smoke marijuana. He also said that it is only a matter of time, maybe 20 years, before marijuana is legalized because young people think it is stupid to outlaw marijuana and think of it as a bad drug. I tend to agree with Tucker on this issue and while I don’t plan on smoking pot even if it is eventually legal to do so, I don’t have an issue with people who do smoke it.

When I was a teenager my friends and I would often attend rock concerts. Back in the 1970’s there were no anti-smoking laws in most cities so smoking cigarettes was allowed in most concert arenas. Back then there was an event at each concert, which we named the double lights show. What would happen is this, first the arena lights would go off and then 10,000 cigarette lighters would immediately light up and it appeared to folks in attendance that the light came right back on. Of course, most of those lighters at these concerts were firing up marijuana. Over the years, the US has been fighting a war on drugs.

This war has been a total failure because the government should not be passing laws to protect people from themselves. Most people with common sense realize that they would not want to be told what they can and can’t do in the privacy of their own homes, so they don’t try to legislate others to act in a more responsible way. However, there are still a few out there in society that believe it is their obligation in life to change people into something they are not. Of course, these folks always fail, but they are pretty successful at getting some politicians on their side when it comes to laws, which try and control the behavior of their fellow man.

Very few folks in this world have done more good for people in need than Willie Nelson has and for this man of the people to constantly be harassed by arcane laws, which try and control the behavior of others by narrow-minded groups in wrong. If Willie wants to smoke pot and is not driving that tour bus, then what business is it of anyone else who isn’t being hurt by his marijuana use? In the US we have had a Cold War, a War on Drugs and now a War Against Terrorism. Two of these wars do make some kind of sense, but the other does not in my view. Every law, which is pass to try and control the personal behavior of others will always fail, but unfortunately there will always be folks who believe that without such laws the whole country would turn into drug heads. Nothing could be further from the truth.

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Wimps And Bullies - Democrats v. Republicans

Have you ever noticed that political elections in the United States seem to always boil down to the same issues that most of us were faced with in grade school? So far, the 2006 congressional elections seem to be a fight between the wimps (Democrats) and the bullies (Republicans). Republicans should be on their way out of power in both the US House of Representatives and Senate right now, but so far they are not. There is no doubt that the American people are angry at the way the GOP had lead the country for the past few years, but many Americans are just too afraid to turn this great country over to a bunch of wimps who can’t seem to stand up for this country and be willing to defend her if attacked.

The past week, President Bush has gone on the political attack against his opponents of the Iraq War and so far it appears that the Democrats are hiding out and trying to find a way to once against explain their position to the American people. There is a fine line between a coward and a wimp on one side of this issue and a confident person and a bully on the other side. Former President Clinton said once that if the American people have only two choices, one being weakness and the other being strength, most people will choose strength. Right now the Democratic Party does not represent strength and while I believe Republicans are trying to bully their way back into power, most folks are not going to feel comfortable with the Democrats unless they grow some backbone and stand up and fight for their point of view.

As I have point out on many different occasions, the American people are in real need of a third political party right now. This new party should stand for the millions of people in the country who have middle of the road political views. In a land of over 300 million people it is a crying shame that the only two political party’s we have to choose from are either wimps or bullies during this election season. I wish for candidates who are willing to defend the United States, but also willing to leave the American people alone in their own homes, if they are not hurting anyone else. I guess what I want are patriotic candidates who will defend the homeland and not try and impose their own ideology on everyone else. Before social conservatives took over the GOP, that party represented those values to me.

There are major leaders within the Democratic Party who have public said that if the Democrats can not win the US House of Representatives in 2006, then the whole party structure should be reconsidered. These party leaders are correct in their thinking, but what is really needed is a third party which will rise up and be strong on national defense and even stronger on the civil liberties of the American people.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Daily Tracking Polls Are Wrong And Silly

No one is more interested in this falls congressional election than I am, but these silly daily tracking polls are starting to give me gas. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in polls and the information they provide to the public, but unfortunately there is a point to where too much of a good thing is, overkill. One day most members of the national news media say that the Democrats are going to easily win control of the US House of Representatives and then a few days later another poll will come out and these same media pundits will proclaim that the Republicans are back in the drivers seat come November.

One thing is for sure and that is the GOP is in real trouble in the northeastern US and many of their incumbents are going to lose their battle for reelection. What happens in the rest of the country is really nothing more than a crap shoot right now and while these well dressed men and women on television may look like they know how the American people will vote come November, in reality they know little more than the average Joe on the street. Just like in all off-year Congressional elections, the true feelings of the voters will not be known until election night or at the earliest around noon on election day when exit polls will provide reliable information on how the voting electorate are casting their ballots.

Congressional elections are usually won or lost by the various political party’s in what I would call a nationwide voter revolt and right now I am not sure if the public is really angry enough to throw the bums out. Sure, there is voter anger at Republican leadership, but what do the Democrats really stand for except being the anti-Republican Party? Unfortunately, the US House of Representative have conveniently redistricted most of the country to the point where it is next to impossible for a challenger to defeat the incumbent. With Congressional districts formed in such a way it takes a huge ground swell of public resentment to remove enough Congressmen from office to sweep the opposition party into power.

If the Democrats are to regain control of the US House of Representatives this November, it will happen because disgusted GOP voters decide to stay home, not because millions of people will vote for the other party. If I were in charge of GOP election day planning, my biggest concern would be that too many disgruntled Republican voters will just take a pass on voting this coming November. I believe Democrats are going to turn out in large numbers because they dislike just about everything congressional Republicans stand for and they really dislike President Bush and his Iraq war policies.

This is the reason that I put little to no faith in these daily-tracking polls because none of them can realistically tell who will actually vote on election day. I would guess that these daily tracking polls will change almost daily depending on what the big news story of the day might be, but we don't elect government leaders in the US through public opinion polls and as folks have been saying for a long time, the only poll that counts is on election day.

Life So Short - Traffic Accident Kills Sister

My mother called me yesterday afternoon in tears because one of her former neighbors and friend had been hurt in a bad traffic accident in Dallas. Unfortunately, the sister of my mother’s friend was also riding in the car and was killed in that accident. While I don’t know much about what really happened, I do know a 18-wheeler truck was also involved in this deadly crash. I just visited the Dallas Morning News web site looking for additional information about this wreck, but I was unsuccessful at finding anything in their online addition of the newspaper. However, much to my surprise, their front page story today was about how dangerous the roads are getting here in Texas because the number of 18 wheeler trucks are increasing at a fast pace and some of the new truck drivers are not really that well qualified to handle these big rigs in a crisis situation.

I did not personally know the lady who died in this accident, but I do know my mom’s friend who was injured. She is a wonderful lady and was so helpful when my father was dying of cancer five years ago. After my dad’s death, mom moved away from her small town home in Canton, TX to live closer to my sister in College Station. While she now lives over one hundred miles away from her old Canton home, she still stays in touch with her old friends and yesterday’s terrible accident was such a shock to her because it was so unexpected. After talking with mother on the telephone yesterday, I really got to thinking about how short life really is and how none of us know when it will be our turn to leave this world and move on to the next.

Most people I know today spend countless hours each week trying to eat right and get exercise in order to extend and/or improve their quality of life. However, no amount nutrition or exercise can protect we fragile human beings if we somehow become involved in a traffic accident with a 18-wheeler truck on a busy Interstate highway. This is why I believe it is so important for all of us to count our many blessing each and every day and to be ever mindful that tomorrow may never come for any of us. When I was young, I was the same as kids are today. I never thought about being killed in a traffic accident, even though I knew some folks were killed each day.

As I have gotten older, I now look at life in a much different way. Today, I am thankful for only this one day and I try and get as much life out of what this day has to offer as I possibly can. My personal nature has always been to plan ahead for the future, but in reality none of us know how much or how little future we will actually be allowed to live. The bible talks about living our lives, “one day at a time” and this is really good advice because none of us have any guarantees for tomorrow or even if we will be around to experience another morning sunrise.

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Life So Short