Monday, July 31, 2006

Preaching To Choir - GOP Stirs Conservative Base

Thank goodness we are getting close to the November elections when once and for all the people will get to decide if they want to continue to see Republican leadership in the US House of Representatives and Senate. I have noticed that most GOP incumbents are “preaching to the choir” when it comes to their strategy for victory in November. Why not try to stir up your political base when that strategy has worked so well in the past? The problem some GOP candidates are going to run into this year, in my opinion, is that their base is shrinking and unfortunately the only folks who are dead set on voting for Republicans this time around are the folks on the far, far right. In order to reach enough of these extreme political voters, many GOP candidates will have to campaign as extremist themselves, which will turn off almost all moderate voters.

It is a proven fact that most people who vote in off presidential year elections are party partisans either from the far left or right of the political spectrum. The big question this years is, will the huge dissatisfaction of Congress in recent public opinion polls turn out a larger than normal number of moderate voters at the polls in November? I think more moderates might turn out in 2006 because of this dissatisfaction and the actual number of moderates, who normally don’t vote, which do this time, will decide whether the GOP can maintain control of all three branches of the US government.

So far, there is an advantage in 2006, I see for the Democratic Party. That being that they are not running far left in the national campaign yet while their Republican colleagues are heading so far right that it almost makes me dizzy trying to keep up with them. I believe that most political contests are decided in the middle. While extremist on each side of the political spectrum will turn out in large numbers to make their voices heard, the truth is that the two or three percent of moderate voters will decide most elections because the extremes tend to cancel each other out. That is why I believe a larger than average number of moderate voters in November will break towards the Democrats because few moderates will show up and give a huge vote of confidence to GOP leadership.

As the election nears, it is likely that many things will change including the possibility the Democrats will start heading more left wing in their campaign tactics. However, at this early stage it is the GOP who is “preaching to the choir” the most and while this might sound like a good campaign strategy, to folks in the middle it is more an act of desperation rather than one of strength. It is going to be an interesting summer as both Republicans and Democrats line up their fall strategies for victory and only time will tell how many folks who are not political extremist will actually show up and vote this November. Get ready for a knock down drag out fight for continued control of the US Congress this fall.

New Highway Projects - Always Repairing Roads

The past ten years or so every time I travel down an Interstate Highway very far, there are always road crews either repairing the road or adding on new exits and over passes. I guess this does make sense considering the Interstate High System was first started back in the 1950’s. While I know this type of work must go on or the whole system will completely fall apart, all this construction on busy Interstate Highways do create more traffic hazard’s and hardly a day goes by that I don’t hear about a traffic accident which either kills or injures many people.

Not far from where I live the State Highway Department is putting in a new mixmaster over Interstate 35 and they have been working on this project now for almost three years. During that period of time there have been countless accidents at this intersection and after driving though it the other day, I can understand why. Luckily, most of the road closures in this area are done late at night to avoid the heaviest traffic times. However, on I-35 there is never a really slow time since NAFTA opened up free trade between Mexico and the US and this stretch of road became crowded with 18 wheel trucks both day and night.

I know people who live here that avoid I-35 at all costs because it is so dangerous traveling that route when going through a major metropolitan area. I believe the reason it has become so dangerous is because of the never ending road construction and additions to the Interstate system and at least here in Texas the state has an idea which they hope will reduce the congestion at some point in the future. The State of Texas is proposing a new super highway system, which will have at least four lanes of traffic going both north and south from the Dallas-Fort Worth area all the way to Mexico.

Here in Waco this new super highway idea is getting a mixed reaction because hundreds of acres of farmland will have to be condemned by the State of Texas just to make room for this new super highway. Lets face it no one want to give up land that has been in their family for years, but sometimes it can’t be avoided or no public projects would ever get completed. This new super highway system which will run parallel to I-35 about 10 miles to the east will take almost 50 years to complete. Since most people whose land will be taken by this project won’t even be alive when this new super highway is completed, it makes the whole project a harder sell for state officials.

Most likely this new type of highway will be the wave of the future and there is talk that once completed in about 50 years, this new Texas sized highway will already be obsolete and work on even a bigger one will need to be considered. If I’m still alive in 50 years I will be almost 100 years old and most likely not driving anymore, anyway. However, these huge highway projects must get started somewhere and from the looks of the constant repair on the current Interstate Highway System all states should start planning ahead now for increasing traffic as the US continues to grow ever larger.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

President Bush Has One Dimensional Thinking

The more I watch President Bush in action fighting the war against terrorism and his response to the Israeli battle in Lebanon, the more I see his war strategy is from a one dimensional point of view. There are millions of people who live their lives this way and I’m not trying to condemn his approach to this dangerous world, out of hand. However, the world is full of ideologues that believe their way is right and they are willing to fight to the death to see their vision carried out. The one thing that President Bush and terrorist around the world have in common is they both suffer from one dimensional thinking which allows them to only see the world from their own point of view.

I remember when my father died almost five years ago focusing back on his life and the accomplishments he made and the successes he never really achieved. My father was a one-dimensional thinking man where he only saw worth to his own life through work and producing income for his family. My dad was a wonderful provider to his family and even though he hit bumps along that road, in the end he managed to take care of my mother, from a financial standpoint, before his death almost five years ago. I remember through the years my mother just wanting him to be around more instead of working all the time. However, my father knew in his heart that work was what he was put on this earth to do and he did it almost up until the day he died from cancer.

I see President Bush in much the same way except his one dimensional thinking has lead him down the road of good versus evil where Arab militants are always bad and wrong and people who are close to his own religious faith are right. This has been proven over the past couple of weeks, as the Bush administration has been slow to stop Israel in their attempt to stop terrorism on their northern boarder. While I agree with President Bush that Israel was provoked into their most recent military action, a full three dimensional thinking person would be smart enough to not fall into this type of trap by their enemies. People who can see the forest for the tree would see that they were only being baited when their soldiers were being kidnapped and find some other way to respond other than a full military strike which has now killed dozens of innocent women and children in the effected areas.

Listen, I don’t blame President Bush or anyone else for trying to see this complicated world in a more black and white way. However, the world has never been black and white and folks who strictly follow a religious ideology have failed time and time again when they can’t think out of the box and understand that they don’t have to take the bait when their enemy tries to pull them into a battle they have no chance of winning. It is much harder to be restrained when it comes to an enemy who doesn’t play by the same “war rules” as everyone else, but it is critical not to be baited into overreaction just because you have the military and the bombs to do great harm to other people.

To date, the terrorist have played the Bush administration and won at almost every turn because President Bush refuses to see that he is being outplayed by a bunch of thugs who know how and when to push his buttons. This war on terrorism is going to be fought for many years to come and the ultimate winner isn’t going to be the nation with the biggest amount of bombs and tanks, but by the nation or ideology who can see the forest for the trees and understand that the world isn’t one dimensional at all but a full three dimensional place where only the “first team” has a chance at ultimate victory.

Another Cruise Ship Suffers From Norovirus

Another case of Norovirus has been found on a cruise ship and this time over 230 people have become sick on the “Mariner of the Sea”. In addition to the 230 sick passengers almost half a dozen members of the crew also became ill. It has been several years since I had heard reports of these strange viruses attacking passengers on a cruise ship, but apparently they are still happening and the PR departments of the various cruise lines have done a good job at keeping most of these cases out of the national news media.

I have never been on a cruise, but I would like to take one someday. These huge magnificent ships look so beautiful on television commercials and the day and night entertainment would probably be a bunch of fun. While I’m not a medical expert it does make sense that something is wrong with the sanitary conditions on board these cruise ships or these viruses would not get so out of control. The “Mariner of the Sea” management company said that this latest outbreak was cause when one passenger boarded the ship that was infected with the Norovirus.

I guess that explanation is possible, but I still have my doubts as to whether one single passenger who is that sick would have the strength to travel the entire ship and infect so many different passengers. My gut feeling is that while these huge ships look neat and clean, there is some kind of sanitary condition which is causing these huge outbreaks of Norovirus and other illnesses which sometimes can move from one group of travelers to the next on the same ship. I remember watching some television shows recently where they showed young passengers drinking too much alcohol and passing out in the hallways and vomiting on the floors all over the ship.

I have a feeling that rather than completely disinfecting all of these locations where drunk passengers are thowing up, the ships crew might just be making a cosmetic attempt to make the area look clean, but in reality there are bacteria and viruses growing all over the ship. All anyone needs to do is enter a public restroom in the US to see how some people leave them looking after their visits and it makes it easy to suspect that sanitary conditions on these cruise ships can not be that good. Of course, the various PR departments at the major cruise companies don’t want to discuss this issue of sanitation, but it must play some type of effect in why so many people get sick on cruise ships, even when they don’t interact that much with other people.

I also wonder if the sanitary conditions in the various hot tubs and swimming pools are taken that seriously either. On one of these television shows I watched about cruise lines, it showed one drunk guy who got sick and threw up in one of the ships swimming pools. I know there are chemicals which are suppose to kill all bacteria and viruses in pool water, but do they work immediately and also don’t they have to be replaced on a regular basis to keep the water clean from disease? I have a feeling that eventually the cruise ship industry will have to address this issue of sanitary conditions within the closed space of a cruise ship. When the truth finally does come out, I think a bunch of folks are going to be surprised how many different diseases are lurking inside these cruise ships and putting innocent passengers at risk.

Cindy Sheehan Has Bought Land In Crawford Texas

We have a new property owner here in the Waco Texas area because anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan has bought a piece of land in the Crawford, Texas area for protesters to use when President Bush visits his ranch on summer vacation. This land purchase by Cindy Sheehan is not far from the “freedom house” which has been owned by other protesters for several years. I have lived in Waco, Texas since 1983 and no one ever knew much about our city before President Bush bought a ranch here, with the possible exception of the whole “Branch Davidian”, David Koresh mess years before.

I have driven past President Bush’s ranch several times since he became President and much has changed in security at that location since the terrorist attacks on September 11th. There was a time when regular folks, like myself, could drive right by the entrance gate, but that isn’t allowed anymore and members of the local sheriff’s office turn around vehicles before they get to the entrance anymore. President Bush did his homework when he purchased this ranch if he desired to have a private place to get away from the noise and media in Washington DC.

What most people can’t tell from watching television news coverage about President Bush’s ranch is that it’s located several miles from any of the protester locations and even if they decided to get very loud, it is unlikely that President Bush would hear a thing. The President’s ranch in set on about 1500 acres of land and very few people populate this area of McLennan County Texas. This land purchase by Cindy Sheehan is more a publicity stunt than an actual place for people to demonstrate against the war policies of President Bush.

One of the first things Sheehan did after purchasing the land was to say she was going to sue McLennan County for restrictions put on demonstrators after they stated camping on the side of a small, farm to market road, which leads to President Bush’s ranch. It is hard to know how the courts will rule on this particular case, but there was a danger that someone could be struck by a passing car either by accident or on purpose when protesters took up residence on the side of this road. Needless to say many local residents of Crawford like President Bush and in their true Texas spirit they don’t like outsiders coming into town and messing with one of their neighbors.

In the next few weeks President Bush will begin his annual summer vacation at his Crawford ranch and at that time tens of thousands of people from all over the United States will once again show up here to protest his leadership. This annual event has become common place here in the Waco, Texas area and most long time residents, like myself, have grown use to the various groups and outside opinions, which show up in our small Texas city once per year.

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Packed Movie House - 'Devil Wears Prada'

My wife and I went to see the movie, “Devil Wears Prada” this weekend and much to our surprise the theater was packed with people. As most of you know, who read this blog on a regular basis, we are cheap and only go to the dollar show. While this movie only lasted a couple of weeks at the full priced theater, it might last a long time at the discount theater if the number of people who were attendance yesterday here in Waco are any sign of the long term success of this movie. Actually, we both enjoyed this movie very much and while no one would want to work for someone mean like the lady in this movie; it does make all our jobs seem good by comparison.

We usually go see a movie at the local dollar theater each weekend and most of the time there are only 25-30 total people in the audience. However, there must have been several hundred people at this movie and I heard several other people talking on the way out the door when the movie was over about their surprise at the big turn out, as well. I wonder if down deep inside the folks who went to see this movie, “Devil Wears Prada”, went because they also feel belittled and under-appreciated at their own jobs? I know I sometimes feel that way when I am kept out of the loop about an important decision which effects my department or when my annual review of job performance isn’t what I was expecting.

My wife has problems at work from time to time with fellow coworkers who won’t work and try to pass off their obligations on others in the office. After the first 10 minutes of this movie I asked my wife if where she worked was as bad as the young girl in this movie? She smiled at me and said no. Experts say that Americans love to watch movies and TV shows, which are based around rich people who have all kinds of problems in their lives. Maybe this movie, "Devil Wears Prada", is just the latest Hollywood attempt to capitalize on that popular feeling among Americans and if that was their attempt, it appears they were successful in taking a movie which has a dreadful title and turning it into a box office hit.

I would highly recommend this movie and urge you to see it at your earliest convenience. It is funny and has a good moral to the story at the end. Just like so many other examples in life, this movie proves once again that “money can’t buy you happiness”, but it does have a strange way of attracting regular folks who will give up everything which is really important in their lives to live in some kind of fantasy world. It is so important to keep our fantasies and reality separated or terrible things will eventually happen in our lives. Maybe it is important from time to time to see a movie, which points out this fact, and “Devil Wears Prada” made that case, perfectly.

Related: 2006 Movie Favorites

Packed Movie House

Mel Gibson DUI Arrest In Hollywood

Mel Gibson was arrest for DUI last week and has now come out and admitted that he once again has a problem with alcohol. I think it was about 20 years ago when Gibson first admitted problems with alcohol and enter AA to turn his life around. Most recovering alcoholics will tell anyone who ask them that there is no cure for alcoholism and the best they can do is take life one day at a time. Everyday a recovering alcoholic doesn’t take a drink is considered a wonderful day. Unfortunately, since there is no cure for this dreaded disease, it is imperative for people with an alcohol problem to remain in AA for the rest of their lives.

When I think about someone famous like Mel Gibson and the tremendous temptations to drink which are everywhere in Hollywood, I am amazed that he was able to “stay on the wagon” as long as he did. Gibson is one of my favorite actors and with the exception of some really different views when it comes to religion, I really like this man. Everyone reading this has known someone in his or her life that has suffer from a problem with alcohol. That person might be a friend or possibly a family member. Many times, people go to their graves suffering from an alcohol problem and never get help because of the denial involved with this disease.

I have no doubt that Gibson will get the treatment he needs to once again become sober and while some will criticize him for falling off the wagon, most people know that it is very common for we human beings to fail when making huge changes in our lives and Mel Gibson is no different than anyone else in that respect. I am still amazed at how many people still believe that great personal and financial success will reduce stress in a person’s life. Achieving great success has the complete opposite effect on most people and rather than having less to worry about, most people find their lives filled with even more problem and stress than when they were not financially successful.

I was extremely please that it only took a couple of days for Mel Gibson to once again admit to his problem with alcohol and most likely he will once again draw on the strength of AA to get him clean and sober. We should all pray for Mel Gibson because this kind of revelation of failure has to be worse for him than for a regular person because the whole world knows now that he started drinking again. None of us desire to appear weak and out of control, but in reality that is exactly how we human beings are constructed. For AA to be successful, folks must admit to being weak before recovery can begin and unlike most people who “fall off the wagon”, Mel Gibson had to do it very publicly instead of in a private type of way.

West Nile Virus - Health Risk Real

As the summer moves forward, many areas of the US are growing concerned with the possible spread of “West Nile Virus”. Discovered in 1999, West Nile Virus has caused many folks to become ill and some to die from a disease which is primarily spread to humans through mosquito bites. Pharmaceutical companies like: Acambis (ACAM) have been working on vaccines to help stop this virus, but none have been approved by the FDA to date for use in humans.

When I sit down and really think about it that something as small as a mosquito bite could cause the death of someone in my family does concern me a great deal. What are we suppose to do, just sit around in our home and hope a mosquito doesn’t get in the door when we enter and leave? Now days, during the summer months my wife and I put insect repellent at the front door so we can spray ourselves before we head off to outdoor activities. I have no intention of given up an enjoyable outdoors life, just because some small mosquito might bite one of us and make us dreadfully ill.

My philosophy is that if something bad is going to happen, then there really isn’t anything any of us can do about it. For example, I believe, more people get sick at doctors offices than at any other place while they sit, sometimes, for hours waiting to see the doctor in a waiting room full of other sick people. Why the medical establishment set up this kind of waiting room environment is beyond my comprehension. It is almost like they want to have some kind of insurance policy that you will be coming back soon to that same doctor with some other illness within the next few weeks. Hospital waiting rooms or no better and often times worse. However, what are we regular folks to do when we need to see a doctor for a medical problem?

I hope that in the near future a company will find either a vaccine or cure for West Nile Virus, but I know once they do it will be a very expensive medicine and once the West Nile Virus is finally knocked out, another two or three new viruses will be waiting around to take their place. It seems, in a strange sort of way, to be how this world works these days. The bacteria’s and viruses are always one step ahead of medicines to treat them. I wonder if someday these microorganisms will become too fast in their mutations where doctors and research scientists will no longer be able to keep up with them? Right now the best any of us can do is to try and be careful when we go outdoors and use the best protection available against mosquitoes and other carriers of the West Nile Virus.

It has crossed my mind from time to time if modern medication isn’t more of a problem, when it comes to new diseases like West Nile, rather than the solution? In the end, if our bodies are not allowed to find ways to fight these new diseases within our own immune systems, I feel eventually most humans will be wiped out by small enemies, which can’t even be seen without the aid of a microscope.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Traveling With Pets - Taking Mans Best Friend Along

Over the past couple of years, I have noticed more people who take their pets with them when they travel on vacation or just to run errands around town. Honestly, I use to think these kinds of folks were stupid until I joined them about three years ago. My wife and I have a small rat terrier dog that weighs about 16 pounds. About two years ago we started taking our small dog with us on short trips around town and discovered that she loved riding in the car. In fact, I think car trips are the most exciting part of her life.

About the time a started taking our dog with us on trips, was the same time we lost one of our best friends, named Starr, who was fifteen years old and was a lab/basset mixed bread dog. When Starr became sick with liver cancer and we eventually had to put her down at our local vet’s office; it was one of the worst days of my life. Starr was the type of dog that hated riding in the car. She was a very nervous dog and anytime she road with us anywhere, she would cry and get very upset.

Our little rat terrier named, Bullet is the complete opposite. She loves to ride in the car and when we ask her if she wants to go for a ride, she starts jumping around and becomes very happy. It is amazing how some dogs like to ride in cars while others hate it with a passion. Not only do we take Bullet around town in the car, we have started taking her on short trips to see my mother who lives about 80 miles away. She is wonderful in the car the whole trip and we have a portable dog carrier for her is she needs to rest, which isn’t often while we are traveling.

As a child we always had a dog, but Dad didn’t like dogs in the house so I never really got that close to our dogs until I got older. My family had several Boston Terriers while I was a kid, but with the exception of the colder days those dogs had to stay outside in our backyard all the time. Dad passed away almost five years ago now and since that time mom has had a couple of Boston Terriers which she keeps full time in her house. I guess we are a family that is changing with the times or just changing because we are getting older. Mom loves our little Rat Terrier too and after a few days our dog and hers will eventually act like they like each other when we go for a visit.

One thing I need to never say is that people are stupid when they are doing things that I currently don’t approve of. Most likely, time will prove me wrong and I will start doing the very thing I thought was stupid in my earlier years. Traveling with our dog makes both my wife and I happy and Bullet likes it too. In the past we would always board our dogs at the local vet’s office and pay up to $20 per day. Now we take our dog with us and not only save that money, but make our trips much more enjoyable for the entire family, which now includes our little dog, Bullet.

Related: K9 Personality Traits, City Pitbull Laws, Pitbull Image Problems, Fun Veterinary Clinics, Movie 8 Below

Traveling With Pets

Friday, July 28, 2006

Secret Service Arrest - Agent Behind Bars

Last week, a US Secret Service agent was arrested here in Waco for being drunk and disorderly and destruction of public property. This agent, John Scott Lewis was in one of our local Waco eating and drinking establishments called “Crickets” and after being rude to fellow patrons he was ask to leave by the restaurant manager and when he refused the manager requested, a couple of off duty police officers, which the restaurant employs for security, again ask the off duty Secret Service agent to leave the establishment. On the way out the door, the agent allegedly hit to the door so hard that it came loose from its hedges. At that point, the off duty Waco police officers attempted to arrest the Secret Service agent and when he resisted he was shocked with a stun gun and then arrested.

According to US Secret Service management in Dallas, agent John Scott Lewis is still employed by the US Secret Service pending investigation of the charges against him. I have lived in Waco Texas since 1983. Waco is a laid back town with good and bad point and my wife and I have visited “Crickets” restaurant on many occasions over the years. Since President Bush spends time at his Crawford ranch, it is not uncommon for local residents and businesses to see and talk to agents of the US Secret Service when they are off duty. This incident-involving agent Lewis is the first case, I have heard of, when a US Secret Service agent was anything but professional when he or she was off duty in the Waco area.

All of the charges I listed above are, of course, not yet proven in a court of law and Secret Service Agent John Lewis should be given the same “innocent until proven guilty” right as any other American citizen. I have written in this blog many times about how much people here in Waco have grown to know and respect members of the US Secret Service who protect President Bush when he visits our area. Just like any other group of people, none of us should look negatively on the US Secret Service as a whole because of the potential wrong doing by a single agent. If these charges turn out to be proven in court, most likely, this one Secret Service agent had too much to drink and when all the dust settles that one night of excessive drinking probably ruined a promising career with the US Secret Service.

There really isn’t anything more to report about this story at this time, but if additional important information is release, I will be sure to write about it here in the upcoming days. The main thing I would like to say as a local Waco, TX resident is that 99.9% of US Secret Services agents that pass through our small town protecting President Bush are the highest quality of people and no matter what happens in the case of this one agent, I believe, it is very important not to tarnish an entire organization just because of the questionable actions of only one person who had too much to drink.

Raise Minimum Wage - It's The Right Thing To Do

I could not believe my ears when I heard that the US House of Representatives was going to increase the US minimum wage. I think it’s been around ten years since that figure has increased and in my view it is about time the government got around to raising this minimum. When I go to our local supermarket and buy food, everything in the store seems much more expensive than it was ten years ago. Also, just look at what has happened to the price of gas over the past ten years. Conservative Republicans have usually been against having a minimum wage to begin with because they believe having one raises the price of goods and services in a free economy.

Tied to this US House of Representatives increase in the minimum wage bill are more tax cuts for rich Americans. I guess Republicans want to “have their cake and eat it too” in this election year. I’ve been a Republican all my life, but I have to admit my party has done a poor job at running the US since being in charge of all branches of the government. Maybe my views are changing because I’m getting older, but at every turn these days the Republican Party no longer represents the values I hold dear. Why my party continues to believe it is good for the US economy to give tax breaks to rich Americans while reluctantly giving a living wage to millions of poor Americans is beyond my comprehension.

When Ronald Reagan was President of the United States has was always fond of talking about the “trickle down theory” of wealth in the US. His idea was that the more money the wealthiest people earned the more they would invest that money into jobs which would help the less financially fortunate in the workplace. For years I believed that President Reagan was right in that view, but now I don’t think it applies anymore and may not have ever applied to begin with. The truth is that rich Americans, with the exception of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett hold on to most of their money like miser’s instead of reinvesting it back into the country in the form of jobs.

Today, most businessmen take any type of benefit they receive from tax cuts and get even richer. Why? Because of the new global economy. Corporate America sends thousands of jobs overseas every month in the US just so they can increase their own profits and personal weather. In the old days, business leaders would take extra month they received from tax breaks from the government and put that money back to work in the United States. However, these days most rich Americans are more likely to invest their money in some other country than in their own. This is why I don’t believe giving tax breaks to rich Americans will “trickle down” anymore.
Maybe I’m wrong, but I believe the majority of Republican leaders are losing touch with most rank and file Americans.

I’m happy to see an increase in the minimum wage because even though it will not increase the standard of living of those at the lowest wage levels in the US, it will at least keep many folks out of total poverty.

India's Nuclear Program Is Sending Wrong Message

The US House of Representatives has passed the Bush administrations proposal to aid in India’s nuclear program. While I view India as a friend of the United States, I wonder if this whole deal might just turn Pakistan into a future enemy of the United States? After the terrorist attacks of 911 on the United States, Pakistan reluctantly came to the side of the United States when the US was going after the Taliban in Afghanistan. Without this important decision many more US troops lives would have been at risk if Pakistan didn’t allow US jets to fly over their airspace unimpeded.

It is no secret that Pakistan and India are not friendly neighbors and while their two culture are completely different, that is not the major issue which divides these two nations. Kashmir has been and will continue to be a bone of contention between India and Pakistan for years to come and when the US decides to bless the nuclear program of India and not Pakistan, trouble will not be that far behind. Also, there are major religious difference between India and Pakistan and once again the US is taking the side of a nation which is not predominately Muslim in its population makeup.

I don’t think President Bush is deliberately trying to thumb his nose at Pakistan because it is a Muslim nation. However, the real reason he wishes to prefer India to Pakistan in nuclear aid is because American business has close ties to India and many of the biggest campaign contributors in the United States, which give money to the Republican Party, are big business leaders. To me, it would have been better if President Bush and the US Congress stayed out of nuclear talks with either India or Pakistan. For one thing, the United States looks totally ridiculous when it now warms up to India after it talked so tough for years as this nation lead up to becoming a nuclear power.

The message this new US policy is sending to other nations around the world is to not listen to what we are saying when you work toward becoming a nuclear power because we will change our tune once you build your own atomic weapon. This mixed message is the wrong signal to send and it is understandable why North Korea and Iran ignore our dire warnings about continuing their nuclear ambitions because they can see for themselves how the US treats nations differently depending on whether or not these nations have joint the nuclear weapon club.

If I was a dictator and lead a small country, I would look more at what the US does rather than what it says it will do when it comes to nuclear proliferation. This latest decision to welcome India into the accepted club of nuclear nations will only lead to great problems down the road. This will not happen because India is somehow a bad nation or has bad intentions, but other nations will see that they will be able to get more from the worldwide community if they continue rather than stop their nuclear programs.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Go Home Rusty - Andrea Yates Husband A Joke

After a Texas jury ruled that Andrea Yates was “not guilty by reason of insanity”, yesterday; her ex-husband talked to the news media outside the courthouse. He said he thought the verdict was the correct one. Maybe it is just me, but I wish this guy Rusty Yates would just go away so we don’t have to watch him on TV anymore. While it is true he didn’t kill his five children, almost everyone agrees that he didn’t intervene to make sure his kids were safe even after countless times his ex-wife Andrea was treated for postpartum depression.

Rather than being a loving husband whose first concern was the best interest of his wife, Rusty Yates kept encouraging her to keep having more children even after it was clear that children were not what Andrea needed. If memory serves, at the time Andrea Yates killed her five children, Rusty was working at NASA as some type of engineer. Mr. Yates job title tells me that he must be a very intelligent man to be able to work at an important job at NASA. When I see Rusty Yates, I don’t grieve for a man who lost his children. However, I see someone who should have been smart enough to, “do the right thing” and make sure his wife got the proper mental health treatment over the long run.

Not long after the arrest of Andrea Yates, her husband was saying, something like, he hoped she would get out of jail someday and when a reporter ask him if he wanted to have more kids with her he said yes. Statements like that make me wonder about the mental condition of Mr. Yates as well. Now Rusty has divorced Andrea and has remarried another woman. Can a house full of new kids be far behind? I guess what bothers me the most about listening to Rusty Yates is that he doesn’t seem to accept that he totally dropped the ball in taking care of his first family. He doesn’t even blame Andrea for killing his kids, if you really listen closely to what he says.

This is a terrible situation and it is possible that I am drawing the wrong conclusions from all this mess based on sensational television news coverage. However, it does seem like Rusty looks at kids like other folks look at automobiles or appliances. When they die, no problem, just go buy another one or in the case of children, just make some more. Rusty’s attitude just seems to cavalier to me and that worries me because if he decides to have more children with his new wife then I wonder what kind of love a child would feel if one of their parents doesn’t look upon their life as something special? I guess I just wish that Rusty Yates would quit showing up on television and commenting on his ex-wife’s case. When he decided to divorce her, he should have just moved on and let the rest of us forgot about him over time.

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

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon Near Death

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is near death today as more of his bodily functions begin to fail after a stroke, months ago, left him in a coma. PM Sharon will go down in history for what he tried to do to bring peace to the Middle East. Before Ariel Sharon became incapacitated from a stroke, he had just finished a very controversial decision to remove Israeli citizens from Gaza. I still remember watching, on television, entire Jewish families being forcibly removed from their homes in the Gaza Strip. I couldn’t help but think, at the time, what kind of reaction that type of decision would have had in the United States if a President did the same thing.

Now the situation in the Middle East has turn from a positive to a negative in only a few short months, just like it has always happened throughout history. When PM Sharon was a young man he was a very hard-line conservative who believed the only way to deal with the Palestinians was with guns, planes and tanks. However, as Sharon aged, something began to happen in his soul, which created a more moderated man who cared more about the future of Israel than the latest public opinion poll. I have seen this type of transformation happen to other individuals in history and the real tragedy in the case of Ariel Sharon is that from all appearances his bold moves did little to stop the century old violence in this region of the world.

I think of myself as a positive thinker on most issues, but when it comes to the Middle East and the fighting between Israel and Palestine that is not the case. These centuries old hatreds, which have been passed down from generation to generation, have caused nothing but pain to anyone who has tried to find a solution to this problem. The one person, of my generation, that had the power and insight to do something about this issue is now dying in an Israeli hospital and that is a great tragedy for thousands of people in future generations that will die because of the long-standing hatreds between these two peoples.

No one knows for sure when Ariel Sharon will take his last breath, but I choose to remember this man for what he tried to do in his last year of life instead of the first few. Some people still believe that people will never change, but some do change for the better as they get older. Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had a vision of the Middle East living in peace. While he didn’t succeed in bringing about that vision of regional peace in his lifetime, he most certain took the chances, which are necessary to move the process forward. As I have watched the news coverage over the past week of fighting going on in Lebanon and in the Gaza Strip, I understand once again what bold moves Sharon tried to make in his peace attempt with the Palestinians and unfortunately how far these to countries still have to go before a real peace solution is found.

Related: Life After Stroke, Uncle Suffered Stroke, Aspirin Ibuprofen Study, Pain Reliever Issues, Stroke Scares Family

Sharon Near Death

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Honda Motor Company Builds Jet Aircraft

The Honda Motor Company (HMC) has decided to enter the small jet aircraft market. Honda’s new product will have an 1100-mile range and get better fuel economy than many short range small jets, which are on the worldwide market at this time. One of Honda’s top executives called this new jet aircraft the “Honda Civic of Aviation”. Two things are for sure if Honda Motor Company has decided to put its brand name on an aircraft; first the jet will be made with high quality and it will get above average fuel economy.

There are still people I meet in the United States who hate the Japanese for their attack on Hawaii, which started World War II. However, this number is diminishing everyday and what most people see from Honda Motor Company and other Japanese manufacturers today, are quality products at fair prices. I have no clue if Honda or any other Japanese company will be able to take over the small aircraft industry in the same way they have done with automobiles, but I wouldn’t bet against them. There is an old saying in the US that goes something like this: “build a better mouse trap and the world will beat a path to your door”.

In the 1970’s when the US was filled with poor quality automobiles which didn’t last for 50 thousand miles or even get 10 miles per gallon fuel economy, the Japanese in the name of Honda, Toyota and Mitsubishi made their mark on the US marketplace. When cars and gas were cheap, no one really cared if a car got 10 miles per gallon or lasted for more than five years. However, in today’s high priced gasoline marketplace people care a great deal more. Add to the high fuel economy given by many Japanese automobiles a level of quality workmanship which is unmatched by US domestic auto retailers and it is clear to see how Honda could make considerable strides in the small jet aircraft marketplace in the years to come.

The two biggest names I can think of, off hand, which dominate this market, at the present time, are Learjet and Gulf Stream. I’m sure the executive at both of these companies are looking very carefully at what Honda Motor Company is offering and if they are smart they are hiring the best talent available in the world today to compete with Honda before it completely takes over their market share. I remember when I was a young man and people in my small Texas hometown referred to anything coming out of Japan as junk. I don’t think anyone is referring to Japanese products as junk anymore.

I look forward to reading more about these new small jet aircraft from Honda Motor Company and while this huge corporation is starting out in the small jet aircraft market, I for one, don’t think they will stop there. Larger US companies like Boeing and European conglomerates like Air Bus should be hearing a loud sounding wake up call from Honda which has proven itself to be more than a match for its US competitors over the years. Anyone who ignores the entry of Honda into this marketplace does so at his or her own risk.

Related pages: Nissan, Ford, Cooper, Toyota, Future

Honda Builds Jet

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Taking HCA Private Was The Right Move

The latest company to go from being owned by thousands of shareholders and then become private is HCA, Inc. (HCA). HCA is a major medical services provider in the United States and is tied closely to the Bill Frist family. As you may already know, Senator Bill Frist is the Majority Leader in the United States Senate. While many will comment on what this huge financial deal means to HCA stockholders and the overall stock market in general. I want to focus on what this move says about the US public equity markets in general and how US investors need to look further down the road than the next quarter when judging how well a company is performing.

It is a proven fact that Americans are an impatient group of people. We not only want everything, but we want it now. Over the past few decades, corporate America has followed this impatient lifestyle and looked for ways to increase short term profits so their company stock doesn’t take a 50% nose dive if they miss the expected Wall Street “whisper number”. This type of insanity has to stop or all companies who can arrange the financing will look to take their companies private and run their business in a long-term way. It’s easy to see how this American impatience has hurt everyone involved in markets whether they be stock based or real estate. Get rich quick is what US investors want and if a company can’t deliver on these impatient demands then millions of people will sell their stock and look elsewhere.

What is interesting about this issue is that millions of Americans are worried about globalization efforts and how those trends in corporate American will effect their own employment. In my view, the real reason that corporate American is selling itself completely into finding cheaper labor outside the US is because they have to meet a narrow profit window each quarter and when it looks like new ideas might take a year or two to turn into real profit for their company, then they look for cheaper labor overseas so they don’t miss that quarters profit prediction. This is such a short sighted way to look at business and the only way it will ever changed is for Americans to start looking at stocks more from a long range point of view than just one quarter at a time.

The best companies I have found in the United States are not public, but private companies. The reason these companies are good is because no outside forces are pressuring them to make an unrealistic profit number each quarter, no matter what might benefit the company, big time, down the road. Everyone desires to make money fast, but in reality that is NOT reality and the sooner Americans figure out that fact the better for their own long-term financial security. HCA, Inc. is just the latest company to move from the public to the private sector and I believe there will be many more who will wish to rid themselves of this crazy quarterly game that is played on Wall Street and get back to building great companies with great people behind them in the years to come.

Related: Stock Market Declines

HCA Right Move

Monday, July 24, 2006

Middle East Ideas - None Seem To Work For Long

President Bush is trying something new in the Middle East. He is letting Israel pound the “hell” out of terrorist who wish to see the total destruction of Israel from the face of the Earth. With UN vetoes and a slow response from the US Secretary of State to go the region, President Bush is trying something entirely new than US leaders have tried before. Will President Bush be successful in this new Middle East strategy? Probably not, but at least he isn’t going down the same old path as other US President’s who have found out the hard way that leaders in the Middle East don’t really want peace. Many nations in that region only survive by having this conflict drag on rather than solving it.

While I never agreed with President Clinton much on issues, he did try very hard to find a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine before he left office in 2001. However, there was no peace to be found in that last “Camp David” summit, President Clinton tried, and in my opinion there will be no peace in the Middle East during the Bush (43) administration, either. The talking heads at the United Nations want to keep running the same old play they have always run when problems flare up in the Middle East. This weak worldwide body wants to call a cease-fire to hostilities and send in UN troops to keep the peace. This has been done time and time again with no success around the world, but still many old world leaders want to try the same old fail policies again.

While I don’t agree with much President Bush is doing in Iraq right now, he is on target with what is going on between Israel and the Palestinians and Israel and Lebanon. The real truth here is that both Palestine and Lebanon enter Israeli territory and kidnapped soldiers while not being provoked. Now many world leaders in the UN want to forget that fact and get everyone to sit down around a negotiating table and work out their difference. To me, what happened in Israel was a criminal act and if we put all of this garbage in prospective, would your local police lay down their arms and follow a cease-fire if someone was kidnapped in your city? Of course not and if they did most folks would demand their removal from office.

While news reports are not that accurate coming out of some Arab countries, I believe most folks in the region know more than their governments want or believe them to know. The only way terrorism is going to be deal with in the long run is to call these terrorist what they are and that is criminals and not warriors for a cause. No one would expect their local police department to negotiate in good faith with a kidnapper, so why do so many people in this world believe that Israel should negotiate with countries that cross their legal borders and kidnap soldiers in a effort to further their own goals?

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

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Mad Cow Testing Cut Back In The U.S.

The “US Agriculture Department” has decided to cut back its effort at testing US cattle for “Mad Cow Disease”. After testing tens of thousands of cattle for this fatal disease, only two have been found infected in the US livestock population so far. In a way this is a good news, bad news, story depending upon your point of view. The good news is that the US cattle supply apparently has not fallen prey to this Mad Cow Disease problem which brought the livestock industry in Great Britain to a halt several years ago. The bad news is that now the US cattle supply will be at a disadvantage, if sometime down the road Mad Cow Disease does strike US herds of cattle.

This is just another issue of where the government is too short sighted, in my opinion, when it comes to proven dangers and problems around the world. The real reason why the US Agriculture Department is cutting back on inspection is because of money and the limited amount of federal dollars, which are available to run the country. Whether you agree with the War in Iraq or not, the real truth is the government is spending billions of dollars on the war effort in Iraq and will continue to spend vast sums of money for many years to come. This war money doesn’t come out of thin air, but must come from cutbacks in other domestic programs like the testing of US cattle for Mad Cow Disease.

Most Americans want to have their cake and eat it too and why not? Our own federal government has shown us time and time again that we can have lower taxes and still get everything we want from our federal government. The truth is that the US government is broke and is falling deeper into debt each passing day. While account type folks, behind the scenes in DC, know what is really going on, the average American doesn’t give this problem much thought and they are demanding that their politicians lower taxes, provide greater benefits and a huge military all at the same time. Someday, all this out of control spending is going to have to come to an end and the smart folks we elected to office know that fact. However, they are betting they will no longer be in office when the bottom drops out of our economy, because of out of control government spending, which will make these future issues someone else’s problem to deal with.

I have a gut feeling that the US should not cut back on testing cattle for Mad Cow Disease. Just like anything else in this world, once something this terrible shows its ugly head, it doesn’t really go away. It may stay dormant for a period of time, but it will be back and when that happens it will most certainly be worse than before. Just like in our own family budgets, the federal government has to make choices on what is and is not that important. Unfortunately, what seems to be most important right now is the War in Iraq and until the new leaders in Iraq can get their country moving forward so we can bring our troops home, Americans will be losing more than the lives of our brave soldiers. We will also be losing valuable resources, which are needed to keep our own citizens safe from the US food supply.

Many Older Americans Are Facing - Losing Job Fears

A funny thing happened on the way to getting older, for me, and that is a new fear of possibly losing my job through no fault of my own. I’m approaching 50 years old and I can honestly say that for many people my age or older, the terrifying idea of losing a job because of a fast changing business environment or globalization is a real fear many older folks face everyday. When I first stared working in the mid 1970’s there was a totally different work mindset in the United States than there is today. Also, when I was in my 20’s and 30’s, I never thought much about losing my job because I knew down deep inside I could find another job in a short period of time.

These days while it is illegal to discriminate against workers because of their age, in reality everyone knows that it goes on every single day and it is very difficult and can take a long time for someone in their 50’s to find another good job, if the job they have held for years all of a sudden is eliminated. This morning when I woke up, I poured a hot cup of coffee, which my wife read the Sunday newspaper. A short time later my wife said there was an ad in the newspaper classifieds advertising the exact job I current do at my employer. After that deep feeling of dread faded some, I decided to call my boss to see if I had anything to worry about when it comes to my employment with the company.

To my delight I found out that our company was about to get a bunch of new work and that the company would be expanding in the near future and needed a larger workforce. I was so relieved that I would not have to travel around town, with hat in hand, looking for another job. I found myself having to change careers only a year and a half ago and it was a very stressful experience because many doors I thought would be open to a man with my work history were not as open as I had imagined in my mind. To be honest, it scared me to death just thinking about typing up a new resume and visiting businesses looking for work.

While I got good news today, more than likely other people found out that they were no longer going to be needed at their companies and are going to be force to live through the terrible experience of knocking on doors and looking for a new job. I wish my confidence level was as high as it was in the 1970’s, but its not and I am sure I’m not alone in having these types of job fears as father time starts moving faster with each passing year. I know the fear of change is a sure sign of old age approaching and maybe there isn’t anything we can do about those fears. However, I love working at my job and sometimes I find myself the most miserable on the weekends when that job is not on the schedule of things to do.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Rush To Judgment - Joran van der Sloot

The big news yesterday on “Inside Edition” was that Joran van der Sloot was spotted by some tourists walking around Aruba with a young blonde girl. In fact, some tourist took photographs of the two. If I didn’t know better I would have thought that van der Sloot was an escaped criminal on the run while watching the judgmental reporting of Inside Edition. All the people they interviewed for this story were talking about how outraged they were that Joran was back on the island of Aruba and that he had the nerve to be walking around with some blonde girl wearing a bikini.

There are two courts in the United States these days. One is a court of law where prosecutors try to convict people they believe are guilty of committing crimes. The other one is the court of public opinion where speculation runs wild and people are convicted in the minds of millions of people without a trial. I am sorry that Natalee Holloway, most likely, lost her life on the island of Aruba during her senior trip. However, Joran van der Sloot has not been convicted of killing her, so why shouldn’t he be walking around the island of Aruba or anywhere else for that matter? Natalee’s mother, Beth Twitty, released a statement yesterday stating her outrage that van der Sloot was allow back on the island of Aruba and walking around free.

While I agree with Twitty that the Aruban authorities bungled the case against Joran and his two friends, the very idea that someone should be punished just because Mrs. Twitty or anyone else believes they are guilty of a crime is wrong and is down right un-American. There have been at least two cases I remember recently where the court of public opinion has found innocent people guilty of crimes they didn’t commit and the sad fact is that one of these cases put an innocent man in jail and that man died before his name could be cleared.

We have all heard of Richard Jewell. Atlanta police and FBI agents questioned Jewell surrounding a bombing in the Olympic village many years ago. An over excitable news media took this police questioning as a “guilty man walking” situation and tried, convicted and sentenced this young man to be guilty in the court of public opinion when he didn’t even commit the crime. For several years, Jewell made it his mission in life to make sure many in the national news media paid a financial price for their arrogant “rush to judgment” in that case.

The other case which I remember involved Richard Ricci who was jailed in Salt Lake City for theft in the home of Elizabeth Smart who was kidnapped from her own bedroom several years ago. Most people in the national news media made the huge jump to the idea that Ricci most likely kidnapped and killed Elizabeth Smart and in the court of public opinion this man was guilty. Ricci died of a brain hemorrhage while sitting in a Salt Lake City jail and months later we all found out that he had absolutely nothing to do with the disappearance of Elizabeth Smart, but he died while most folks thought he was guilty as sin.

I know it is easy to rush to judgment in high profile cases where the news media puts together a story, which seems air tight against people they suspect of crimes. While almost everyone in the news media believes that van der Sloot is guilty of killing Natalee Holloway, they could be dead wrong in the end. We need to all keep that important fact in mind as we watch television programs that are more interested in speculation and sensationalism than in the actual facts of the case.

Friday, July 21, 2006

British Love Tiger - Woods Takes The UK

After the performance by Tiger Woods in the first two rounds of the “2006 British Open”, my thinking is that “Tiger is back” and that is great news for couch potato golf fans like myself. I felt so terrible for Tiger a few weeks ago when he didn’t make the cut in the “2006 US Open” only weeks after the death of his long time best friend and father Earl Woods. Most folks who follow the PGA closely believe that Woods came back too soon after the death of his father to play in the US Open and most likely these experts were right this time. The low score to make the cut of this years British Open was –1 and Tigers Friday score was –12.

I personally feel that Tiger Woods is getting ready to play the best golf of his life. The folks who write the record books for the PGA had better have their “white out” ready to go because in the next few years, Tiger Woods is going to be shattering PGA records which have stood for decades. I think I understand a little about how Tiger Woods might be feeling after the death of his dad. My father died five years ago in October of this year. While I was no where as close to my father as Tiger was, it is still a watershed event in a man life when his own father dies. I can’t remember who first said it, but their statement which says “a man doesn’t really become a man until his father dies”, might have just nailed the truth about the maturity process of most men.

For the first six months after my own father died, I found myself living in deep thoughts about my younger years and what kind of life my father lived and what kind of life I want to live to make his decision to, bring me into this world, mean something. I have no doubt that Tiger Woods will be having similar emotions over the next few years and I have no doubt that when all Tiger’s emotions eventually settle down, he will discover that the best way he can remember his father will be to become the best professional golfer in the history of the game. Not only does Tiger have the ability to pull this off, I believe he has the intestinal fortitude to make it a reality in the very near future.

Millions of young men must search for years finding role models, which will help them, find their way in this world. Tiger Woods didn’t have to look far for a role model because his own father fit that bill, perfectly. Many TV commentators miss the point when they describe the relationship between Tiger and Earl Woods. Many believe that Earl only wanted Tiger to be a great golfer, when in reality Earl Woods believed that the game of golf would teach his son everything he needed to know about the real world. I miss my dad so much these days and I wish that he were still around so I could talk about the various issues that come up in my life. However, I guess since my own father has been dead now for almost five years, I have made my way to real manhood and hopefully I will make good choices during the later part of my life.

I would not be surprised at all if Tiger Woods wins the 2006 British Open and wins it by a very decisive margin. I believe Tiger Woods is back and I look forward to many great Saturday and Sunday afternoons of golf, on television, over the next few years.

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

NAACP – President Bush Speaks To Group

After being invited to speak at the national NAACP convention for the past five years, President Bush finally accepted their invitation in Washington yesterday. It is no secret that African-Americans are not a huge voting block for President Bush or most other members of the GOP. While a couple of people were ejected from President Bush’s speech for loud outburst against VP Dick Cheney, most members of the NAACP gave President Bush a warm welcome. Many younger folks don’t realize that African-Americans and the GOP were at one time very close. While it has been decades since that statement was true, after President Abraham Lincoln (a Republican) stopped the barbaric enslavement of black Americans in the United States, most African-Americans became Republicans.

Over the years as the GOP became a more conservative party, African-Americans and Republican leaders began parting ways and in the most recent presidential election, less than 10% of African-Americans voted for President Bush. Other issues like the GOP’s lack of support for civil rights laws during the Johnson administration was also a big deal to many black Americans which caused many to feel more comfortable in the Democratic Party. In my opinion, the more conservative the Republican Party becomes, the less it will appeal to all minority voters. While all Americans are equal under the law, when it comes to administration policies African-Americans and other large minorities like Latinos will continue to move toward Democrats over Republicans.

There are still a few holds out in the GOP who believe they can reach out to African-Americans and get them to vote Republican once again. However, American style conservatism and being a black American are not conducive and my feeling is that Republicans who believe black Americans will follow a conservative party agenda are just kidding themselves. The problem is that most conservative Americans are more interested in narrow issues while the middle of the road folks are concerned with a much broader group of issues. While middle class white Americans are concerned about lowing taxes, many poor African-Americans are more concerned with where the money for groceries and medicine will come from before their resources run out for the month.

I think it is good that President Bush showed up and gave a speech at this years NAACP convention because even though the members of the NAACP and the GOP don’t see eye to eye on most issues. The United States must be forever mindful what can happen to a country when one small group of people get too much power and start ignoring the opinions of other people. President Bush should have spoke at the NAACP convention sooner, but at least he took the time to show up this year and speak to a group, which is much more skeptical of his opinions than the “hand picked” GOP audiences he is more accustomed to giving speeches to. I doubt if many African-Americans were swayed to be GOP voters just because President Bush spoke at the NAACP national convention, but the reason he gave this speech should be more about being the leader of all Americans and less about being a politician looking for future new voters.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Snakes On Plane Movie Release Coming Soon

Sometime next month the “Snakes on a Plane” movie will be released all across the US. I first heard about this movie in April when some Hollywood PR guy was talking on an interview show about some of the upcoming summer movies. Let me go on record saying that I am not a big fan of snakes, like some folks are; but this movie does seem like a funny experiment and most likely I will see this movie once it hits our local dollar theater. I have always hated snakes because dad always thought rattlesnakes were bad and as a child when I would go to work with him on the farm, he would always pull over his pickup truck and go out of his way to kill a rattlesnake.

Growing up in the Panhandle of Texas, there were always snakes found in rural locations and some of my childhood friends liked to go rattlesnake hunting in the rolling hills and pastures of the Texas Panhandle. The way my friends would hunt for “rattlers” would be to head out in the wintertime when rattlesnakes are hold up underground and in hibernation. Needless to say, once these rattlesnakes were woke up from a sound sleep; they were plenty angry. Also, I learned early on that rattlesnakes are blind for the first few days after they come out of hibernation, so they are likely to strike at anything they perceive as danger.

Mind you all this knowledge I have gained into rattlesnake hunting was as an observer and to be honest it was scary for me just to be on the sidelines watching these other guys’ track and capture rattlesnakes. If you’re curious how they got these snakes out of their caves in the winter time, well the guys I went with would create smoke which would travel down into their hibernation caves and that would cause them to come out pretty quickly. While we humans like to live in a home of our own, rattlesnakes don’t live that way. One time, these guys sent some smoke down a small hole and over 100 “rattlers” started coming out of that hole within minutes.

The neat idea about this Snakes on a Plane movie is that while it will certainly scare for many of us who don’t like snakes to begin with; it should be fun to watch even for those who love snakes of all kinds. There is just something interesting about snakes and most likely that interest in due to the fact that God talks about a snake in the book of Genesis. In the years to come, this Snakes on a Plane movie will most likely be very popular as a Sunday afternoon movie and will join some of the other great movies like “Killer Bee’s” and “When Frogs Attack” which have a huge cult following on Sunday afternoon television.

Keep a close eye out from this Snakes on a Plane movie because it is suppose to be released sometime in August 2006. In a way, I wonder if folks who treat mental health issues or develop medications to help people sleep are not somehow behind the production of these type of movies? I can only image the new dreams, which will be created in my own mind, after I watch this movie. I also look forward to seeing the movie trailer in the previews before long. It is going to be interesting to see how they manage to promote this movie without scaring the daylights out of unsuspecting folks waiting to see another show.

Pirates At Disney - 'Dead Man's Chest'

While the movie cash register at Walt Disney continues to ring ever higher with the number one movie of the year, “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest”, the company now plans on laying off almost 700 people in a move which will no doubt create controversy. There are actually two different studios at the Walt Disney Company. One carries the Disney name and provides entertainment for the whole family and another company called, “Touchstone Studios” which produces movies only for adult audiences. The job layoffs only effect the Touchstone Studios part of Disney.

When we take a close look at what this really means, I think it is important to understand that Disney is not against producing adult entertainment at all, this is just a “bottom line” corporate decision because Touchstone Studios has been losing money for the company now for years. All of the recent blockbuster movies at Disney have been in their “family category” and really, isn’t that the way Walt Disney would have wanted his company to be, even years after his death? Companies like Disney have a personality, just like regular people do, and the overriding personality of Disney is family based entertainment.

Walt Disney Company (DIS) is much more than just a movie company. This whole corporation creates in the minds of young and old alike, a good time for the whole family. When Disney decided to create Touchstone Studios several years ago, I thought they were getting into an area of entertainment, which did not fit their brand at all. No company can be all things to all people and when an old, long established, company like Walt Disney decides to move away from its charter mission, most times regular folks will not follow a move like that for long. Just image if a local church decided to open a bar, in your city, and serve alcohol to raise money for a building project. That would be dumb and Disney being anything but an entertainment company for the entire family is dumb, too.

More than movies, when I think about Disney, I think about their wonderful theme parks where millions of people take the entire family each year on vacation. In Orlando, most likely the entire town would go bankrupt if Disney decided to pull up stakes and leave. Of course, that isn’t going to happen because with the exception of Las Vegas, no other city in the United States receives more tourist visitors each year than Orlando, Florida. I don’t think there is anything wrong with being good at just one thing and if that one thing, for The Walt Disney Company, is providing great entertainment for the entire family, then they will continue to be successful and profitable in the years to come.

There will always be companies in the movie industry that will be eager to produce great films for adults only, but I don’t think it is the destiny of Disney to be all things to all people when their unmistakable brand is “family entertainment”. I think Disney is making the right move with this decision and while I feel bad for the people, who work at Disney, which will lose their jobs; I hope they find new employment, somewhere else, quickly.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

New Orleans Murder - Doctors Face Justice

State officials in Louisiana are bringing charges against one doctor and two nurses for the alleged murder of four patients, in their care; days after Hurricane Katrina ravaged that city. Reading what these medical professionals might have done just sends chills up my spine. Some headlines shout that, “Doctor Plays God”, and while I disagree with most major newspaper headlines these days because of sensationalism, if true, that is exactly what happened at this one hospital in New Orleans last year. I believe tremendous stress will bring out the true personality of all of us and according to the Louisiana Attorney General at least three people working in the care of others showed their utter lack of concern for the lives of patients in one New Orleans hospital.

Apparently, this doctor and two nurses gave lethal doses of medication to patients, without the patients consent. From my point of view anyone that considers this a case of “euthanasia” should forget about that idea completely. “Human euthanasia”, would only happen if known by the party receiving such a lethal dose of medication and agree upon by the same party. From the reports that I have read these patients, at this hospital, were only told they were receiving injections of medication which would help them with various medical problems they were suffering from, not injections which would cause their own death. There is no way to view this situation except as murder, if the prosecution evidence is eventually proven correct in a court of law.

My mother has always been fond of telling me, over the years, that “doctors are not God” and should not be treated as such. Mom is right about that opinion and it is every patients obligation to question doctors and other medical professional who are treating them or a close family member. I think most doctors are good people, but the way they are trained in medical school brings about many of these problems and issues. Also, some patients who can’t or won’t think for themselves cause this “God Like Complex” found in some doctors, to just get worse. I like my personal family doctor and every time he recommends a certain test or procedure, I question him on whether it is really necessary. Many times, he is just making recommendations because of past problems other doctors have come across because of, out of control, medical legal litigation issues in the US.

This New Orleans situation with a doctor killing patients without the consent of the patients or any outside oversight is very troubling to me, indeed. While I know normal everyday people will do strange things when put under a great deal of stress, murder isn’t something I would expect from any medical professional. It almost seems like this doctor and a couple of nurses at one New Orleans hospital were more interested in saving themselves and didn’t want to live with the guilt of letting these poor souls dying from lack of care. So, they decided to just kill these innocent people and make their own way to safety. There is no room in the US or any other country for doctors, nurses or other medical professionals who care more about their own safety than that of their patients.

Right now the only side of this story any of us have heard is from the prosecutions case of what they believed happened. I do know there are, at least, two sides to every story and this one will be no different. However, for me, it will be difficult to get past the fact, if true, that these medical professionals took the lives of others without the consent of those people. No person should think they have such a right in our society and if these allegations are proved in a court of law, these actions by a medical doctor and a couple of nurses in New Orleans, last year, will go down in history as one of the darkest chapters of bad moral behavior, in US history.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Suffering Gas Pains - Over $3.00 Per Gallon

I wish I was talking about the kind of gas a person can take a pill for, but there is nothing any of us can take to relieve the “gas pains” we are feeling when we pull in to purchase gasoline these days. I was running low on gas in my car this weekend, so I stopped into one of my local convenience stores. When I walked up to the pump to swipe my card the first thing I saw was $3.04 and $3.15 per gallon prices. I usually keep up with price changes on gasoline and those two prices completely caught me off guard. The good news is, if you can call it good news, the over three dollar per gallon prices were for the higher grades of gasoline. The regular unleaded price, which is what I buy, was only $2.90 per gallon.

As my wife and I traveled to our destination, I noticed thousands of cars on I-35 and I wondered to myself where are all of these travelers were finding the money to purchase gas for their summer vacations? The only conclusions I could come up with were that either folks are putting their gasoline purchases on their credit cards and paying off the bill over time or they are spending less on other vacation “goodies” because of the increased cost of gasoline. I am no economist, but I am smart enough to know that there isn’t an infinite amount of money in this world. When one group of people, in this example, OPEC and the major oil companies earn huge profits some other industries or groups of people will suffer.

I started driving a car in 1975 around the time OPEC made its first move at controlling worldwide oil prices. I remember the gas lines during that period of time and I remember when I could only fill up my car on even numbers days because of my license plate number. For those of you who are too young to remember that period of time, when some states were running short on gas, they would ration it using the licenses plate number of the vehicle. If the last digit in your license plate number was odd, then you could buy gas on odd number days. If it were even, then you could make your gas purchases only on even numbered days. While this might not sound like much of a hardship for drivers, it did take some planning ahead so the old gas tank didn’t run dry on the wrong numbered days.

I wonder if Americans will eventually face this type of situation again? It certainly is possible considering the worldwide shortage of crude oil these days and lets face it we are not living in a peaceful world, either. I wish I could figure out why the countries that have the most crude oil reserves seem to be the ones with the most domestic trouble with their citizens? In the Middle East, it makes sense because there has always been a bunch of fighting in that region of the world. However, a large part of the oil we import here in the United States comes from Central American and countries like Venezuela are no travel paradise, either.

I have settled myself to the idea of $3.00 per gallon gas and in a way that makes me part of the problem. However, in Texas, where I live a person and their automobile are almost “connected at the hip” and there are few public transportation options for people who do not work during regular 8-5 hours. The good news is that other fuel options now, at least, have a chance at success. Everyday that crude oil prices remain above $70 per barrel, these new options will become even more competitive and eventually we Americans will find other ways to satisfy our thirst for energy.

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

Monday, July 17, 2006

Four Letter Word - Bush Gets Caught

In a moment when world leaders thought their comments were not being recorded by the news media, President Bush used a “four letter word” when describing the Middle East situation to British Prime Minister Tony Blair. It is humorous to me reading all of the major news websites this afternoon and their rush to get this one dirty word released around the world as soon as possible. They remind me of a little boy who accidentally heard his parents say a bad word in their glee of this moment. This world is a dangerous place right now and the least of our worries should be ONE four-letter word President Bush said to PM Tony Blair at the G8 summit in Russia.

Mind you these are the same reporters who were outraged because the government might be secretly listening to American conversations without a court order. While the big guys in the news media want to portray themselves as somehow being “above the fray” when it comes to sensationalism, this story proves that they are no different than the tabloid papers in the check out line at our local supermarkets. It bothers me more that these news reporters are repeating this bad word, which was not suppose to be heard, like it is their “God Given Right” to report everything they hear. I wonder how these same reporters would feel if someone, they didn’t know, recorded all of their off camera comments while waiting off air? Everyone knows they would like it and would protest harshly if such a thing happened.

There are hundreds of people dying every single day in Israel, Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan, but much of the coverage on the MSNBC and CNN Internet websites, this afternoon, are “flash headlines” about President Bush’s dirty mouth. These news organizations should be ashamed of themselves and should pull their heads out of the sand of sensationalism and get back to just reporting the news. Some folks call this type of reporting, “gotcha journalism”. In the old days, reporters and news organizations with questionable reputations used this type of tactic to get noticed in the mainstream news media. However, now days I find the same kind of stories in the National Enquirer at the supermarket checkout stand as I see some nights on the big three evening news broadcast.

It is no wonder that serious people in the US government are not taking the new media seriously when it comes to their first amendment right to report the news. For people to be taken seriously they should act like “grown-ups” and not small children when a world leader makes a comment about a serious world situation and uses an four letter word in his description. In a news cycle where hundreds of acres of wildfires are burning in California, fighting is going on in Israel and IED are killing American soldiers in Iraq; don’t the major news organization have something more important to report upon than one dirty word?

I’m beginning to wonder if schools of journalism are not teaching new reporters how to look for sensational news and report upon it. However, most likely, the folks who teach at these prestigious schools are just as disappointed as I am about the way today’s events have been blown completely out of proportion by the, so called, mainstream media.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Japanese Eye GM - Right Move For America?

For a company that is at the brink of bankruptcy, General Motors (GM) is sure attracting a bunch of suitors. Rumors started slipping out today that Japanese automaker Toyota is also interested in finding a way to work with GM. The timing of Toyota’s possible interest in General Motors comes on the heals of Nissan and Renault’s overture to GM, the United States biggest auto manufacture, about one month ago.

In fact the first talks between Nissan, Renault and General Motors took place this weekend. My guess is it won’t be long before Honda Motor Company also tries to get into this US automaker mix which might pay huge dividends down the road. Japanese automakers are notoriously independent have long disavowed the way the US auto industry has built and marketed their automobiles. However, with that break in old strategy by Nissan, all major import automakers might be lining up to offer goodies to GM and possibly Ford down the road.

I think the possibility of GM going into bankruptcy has all import automakers extremely concerned when it comes to their own future. I remember someone at Ford Motor Company telling me once that over five thousands dollars worth of the cost of each new car sold by their dealers represent money already spent on potential litigation and health insurance and retirement compensation. Just image the financial benefit GM would have if they could sell their vehicles for five or six thousands dollars less than Japanese automakers and still make a good profit?

It does seem to make more sense for the Japanese to try and save GM and Ford rather than see them drift into bankruptcy protection and that is why they are making these overtures to GM right now. The US marketplace is one of the biggest on earth when it comes to the sell of new vehicles. The last thing that Toyota, Honda or Nissan wish to see happen is to start losing US market share which has taken them decades to build up. I believe the Japanese have a better marketing plan than US automakers, but not a five or six thousands dollar per car better plan.

Current and retired UAW workers should thank their lucky stars that so many people have an interest in saving General Motors. There is no doubt that a bankruptcy court would do great damage to the health insurance and retirement benefits of retired GM workers. If GM somehow finds a way to merge with a strong Japanese company, these hard fought for benefits might not be in as much danger of being taken away. In reality, there might just be a bidding war between Japanese automobile companies just to do business with GM and that is the most positive scenario for current and former employees.

I spend a bunch of time criticizing “globalization” in this blog, but here is one example of how “globalization” is benefiting the United States instead of costing thousands of Americans their jobs. In a worldwide economy, both Japanese and American automakers are more interdependent which causes even fierce competitors to find ways to work together for their common good. Don’t get me wrong, I still believe that globalization hurts the US more than helps it. However, this is the first example I have seen yet where American workers are benefiting from a more global economy.

Related: Goodbye Ford Taurus, Pain At Ford, Massive Ford Layoffs, US Automobile Business

Japanese Eye GM

Hot Summer Weather - Central Texas Suffers Heat

Have you ever heard that old saying that it is hot enough outside to fry an egg on the sidewalk? While that is just a funny saying that people who live in hot areas like to repeat; I think it is hot enough to fry an egg inside a sealed car this month in Texas. The heat index here in Waco the past week or so has climbed into the upper 100’s and inside my car today, it must have been around 150 degrees or more when I opened it up for the first time around three o’clock.

My wife and I went to visit her mother this afternoon and we happen to visit at the same time as one of her uncles. He is originally from Detroit Michigan and relocated here to Central Texas when he retired from General Motors about ten years ago. My wife’s uncle said he was so tired of this hot summer weather here in Texas that he is considering moving back to Michigan. I told him that he would regret that decision next January when he had to shovel some snow and he said he would rather shovel snow that live through another hot Texas summer.

I was born and raised in Texas so this hot humid weather is something I’m use to as much as any human being can get use to this much hot weather. However, for folks who retired from northern states, these hot summers can be hell on their bodies. I remember visiting Detroit once for a company meeting. That meeting took place in January and I thought I was going to freeze to death up there. I guess people’s feelings about the heat and cold directly relate to what type of climate they grown up in.

A friend told me once that Hawaii was the best place to live because the weather there is never too hot or too cold, I guess it is just right. Sound like a nursery rhyme I heard once! Apparently in Hawaii, the summer temperatures are in the mid 80’s and in the winter the average temperature is in the mid 70’s. I think if this is true than weather in Hawaii has to be about as close to prefect as anywhere on the Earth.

I was watching some late night television show last week and some company was advertising a new device that fits at the top of the drivers side window that is solar powered and will keep the inside of a car at a cool 72 degrees no matter how hot it gets outside. I must admit that a device like that is very appealing here in Texas this time of the year, but I have my doubts as to whether it will really work or not. Maybe I will meet someone someday who has one of these new devices and I will be able to see first hand whether or not they really work that well.

I’m old enough to remember a time when I played 8 track tapes in my old 79 Oldsmobile Cutlass. I still lived in Texas at that time and one day I went to school and forgot to put my tape box under the seat. When I came out of school I discovered that the tape inside the 8-track cartridge had partially melted and ruined about twelve of my favorite ones. While I use to love those 8-track tapes, I sure do like the new CD format much better.

With the possible exception of Hawaii, the weather in the US can be very extreme depending on a person’s location either in the middle of summer or winter. I guess what people prefer is what they are use to, but I must admit it is hard to find anyone in Texas right now that really enjoys these hot July and August afternoons. Here in the Waco, Texas area this summer is worse than last because thousands of people are finding that their electric bills are twice as high as they were last year. So now, people are forced to either have electric bills that run into the hundreds of dollars or they suffer from extreme heat inside their homes.

I guess I have complained about the hot Central Texas weather long enough, so now I need to get a cold drink so I don't get too dehydrated before it is time to go back to work tomorrow.

Fighting SCA Wildfires - Worst Possible Job

It must be a helpless feeling sitting on the back porch and watching a wildfire getting ever closer to your house. In California this weekend, thousands of people are looking out over the horizon and seeing approaching smoke and fire and hoping that somehow firefighters will stop these fires before disaster hits. We human beings need to have the feeling of control in our lives, but too many times we are approached by events, which are totally out of our control. These latest wildfires in Southern California are just one of these out of control events which strike us all from time to time. There are so many problems in the world right now that these huge brush fires in Southern California are not even leading our local newscasts here in Texas.

Even though these fires may not as important from a newscasts point of view as Middle East fighting, for folks who live in these rural areas just east of Los Angeles, they are the most important thing in their lives right now. I’ve always said that the hardest thing in life, for me, is waiting on the unknown. I would much rather know what is going to happen so I can get on with dealing with it rather than waiting around helplessly. The folks in Southern California who live close enough to these latest wildfires to see the smoke must be having those same feelings of helplessness right now because all they can do is watch and wait for the fires to either strike their homes or move in another direction. The good news is that thousands of professional firefighters are working night and day to get these wildfires under control, but for some folks their efforts will come too little and too late to save their home.

As most of you know, my home state, Texas has had problems with wild brush fires, too. I have a bunch of sympathy for our neighbors in California and I know how helpless many folks must feel right now just sitting around and waiting for these latest fires to either be put out or get worse. For me, I would rather be on the front lines fighting these fires than sitting around and doing nothing. It is difficult to put the protection of something you value, like a home, in the hands of total strangers, but that is exactly what residents in Southern California are having to do, today. I hope and pray that firefighters will get these latest fires put out, soon. I also hope that regular everyday people who like to hike and camp will be extra careful in these areas which are dry and prone to wildfires right now.

I guess the one thing which would help firefighters and the citizens in these wildfire areas the most right now would be some rain. So I am going to hope that this area which normal doesn’t get much rain in the summertime, will somehow get a miracle in the next few days and see some much need rain fall from the skies. Then hopefully that rain will in return will bring some much needed humidity which could slow these fires down enough for the firefighters to, finally, get them put out.