Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

From Drought to Flooding - and random thoughts

We needed rain, it was so dry. Now TV is reporting that people’s homes are flooding in some areas around Houston after a couple days of rain. It has rained steadily all day.

We enter Hurricane Season tomorrow, so this is a good time to make sure your family has an evacuation plan and supplies “just in case” we get another Rita or worse. Hey, we live on the coast so we have to be ready for hurricanes every year – they are the earth’s mechanism to transfer the heat build up near the equator. The hotter we get, the more intense they will be. But it sure beats worrying about earthquakes, which aren’t so visible. We just need to make sure we can get through a Category 4 or 5 if it hits us like Katrina hit New Orleans. Roofs blow off at 110 mph and Rita hit 160 before slowing down last year.

Are we prepared? For some things we are more prepared than in the past, but others remain totally unprepared. Our hurricane response will be better (unless we are the ones who get hit and sustain major damage), but the latest list issued by the Homeland Security Dept on a likely terrorist attack -- includes Houston. It wouldn’t take a lot of imagination to figure out why.

But even a non-terrorist act could show how unprepared we are. For example, we live within the shadow of the South Texas Nuclear Plant, yet we have no system in place to deal with a radiation leak if there was just a mechanical failure (like Three Mile Island). Mechanical failure, in fact, is more likely than a terrorist attack on the plant. Ironically, Nuclear power offers one of the few sources of new power that avoids the global warming impact of coal plants.

As a former farmer, I still enjoy rain, especially after a long dry spell. There are worse things in the world.

We could really be building a bold new system to produce alternative fuels with less pollution to break our oil addiction and reduce security threats if our leaders made it a priority like the first moon shot. Our national and local security depend on it…Energy independence is as much a part of our security as border control...

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Death Brings Both Aisles Together

Today my wife and I went to Sen. Bentsen’s funeral, which proved to be a bipartisan affair. It was hard to walk without bumping into someone who didn’t need a name tag – Mayor White (D) stood next to Governor Perry (R) -- I even noticed Perry whisper something in White’s ear. Two feet away, I bumped into Sen. Cornyn (R). On the other side of the dessert tray I found myself face to face with Hillary Clinton (D). Former Prez Bill sat outside on the porch as family and friends surrounded Mrs. Bentsen.

I started to leave, rounded a corner and ran into the press. One of them quipped: “Now everyone is here except Steve Stockman.” LOL. I said that I’d been surprised that Mr. DeLay had come. Instead of flapping my lips to the cameras, I let Kay Bailey (R) and Luci Baines Johnson (D) give two of the best statements I have ever heard. Kay Bailey said Bentsen was “the last of an era” and she longed for the return of civilized bi-partisan statesmanship that he represented. Luci Baines gave a tribute from the heart. Both were impressive.

A return to statesmanship is what we should start picking for office.

As we left a reporter came running out and asked my wife for her name. Apparently they took a photo of her talking with a former Presidential candidate. Well, that should be interesting if it's published...

Sen. Bentsen and Jack Cato – you are two good men --statesmen giants that will be greatly missed.

Monday, May 29, 2006

On Memorial Day - and The Death of Common Sense

I arrived at the Sugar Land Memorial Day event today just at 10 a.m. --in time to see people sitting on very expensive indoor chairs on the plaza (but under no cover). The weather folks said it would be at least a 50% chance of rain and as I drove over there I noticed a very black cloud building up to the Northwest of Sugar Land. So when I walked into SL Square I was surprised to see that there wasn’t a tent over the expensive chairs in the middle section (or why someone hadn’t rented plastic chairs since this was a Veteran’s Memorial not a fancy schmanzy River oaks graduation ceremony). I had left my expensive PDA in the car –just in case.

Within minutes those beautiful chairs were being abandoned as a sudden downpour opened up -- on the citizens, dignitaries, the Congressman and some wannabe replacement Congressmen who stood like statues in their thousand dollar suits on the marble platform, above the crowd and in the rain -- getting totally soaked as the rain fell. I had just witnessed the death of common sense. It was not an inspiring moment.

I watched from under one of the side tents, wearing a (dry) red-and-white shirt with a fold-up umbrella in my back pocket. The tent had a waterfall cascading over its side --and was suddenly more than full.

The whole event reminded me of the recent column by Dr. Rich Lucas on “The Death of Common Sense.” In front of me was the leadership in charge of protecting us and planning ahead for our nation and city – getting soaking wet because no one planned for rain. Worse, only after getting completely wet did they move undercover and suspend the program while workers appeared and pulled tarps over the (already wet) expensive speakers, and piled up the (already soaked) chairs. The people who had abandoned the chairs watched as they huddled under the awnings of stores on the edge of the square. It reminded me how vulnerable they are in other ways, since no one has even prepared them for disasters such as a leak at the South Texas Nuclear plant, despite the fact we lie within its radiation kill zone.

Constable Nehls had already presented the disabled veteran --that was the important part-- so instead of staying to hear the wet Congressman, I dodged the rain and went into the Sharper Image on the corner of the square to check out the gadgets –maybe I’d spot something that will come in handy, like the Pocket TV I bought there a year ago and used for updates during the last storm when power went out at our house for several hours. It worked great and comes in handy for news broadcasts when I’m stuck in traffic.

A lady came in and said, “Tom DeLay is speaking but no one can hear him.” I couldn’t help but think how ironic that was. Do I want a wet Congressman who is under indictment giving me advice on security? Ummmm.

Perhaps you should ask all the ordinary folks who were there today -- who found their comfortable seats were an illusion. They trusted their leadership and yet they ended up wet and huddled next to a building in the rain. Should they follow anyone who would stand in the rain in an expensive suit? If they do, then it's time for that "Twilight Zone" music...

What we really need right now is a resurrection of Dr. Lucas’ Mr. Common Sense --in our government, schools, businesses, in the way we live, period! We need leaders who prepare for future rains – someone who is fiscally responsible, ethically straight, has the common sense to either put up a tent or get out of the rain and won’t leave the people without a roof in the next storm…Know anyone?

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Now for Something Completely Different

Now for Something Completely Different

If you’ve read the Brazos River site about the candidate forum to replace Tom DeLay in CD 22 you get the feeling that it was a scene from the clone wars – lots of candidates looking the same and saying the same. “The Clones” said pretty much the same thing. It’s time someone told the public some honest truth for a change. Now for something completely different (i.e. Time for a reality check).

Immigration: All the candidates favored throwing out the 12 million folks cutting our grass and working those nasty jobs in meatpacking plants, while making them felons. Well I suggest we see how many of you Americans are going to rush in and lug 200 lb sides of beef in meatpackig plants or cut the grass or build the homes you live in before we do that.

Sure, throw these low paid rascals out so we could end up with overgrown yards and become vegetarians out of necessity because there is no beef! None of them are coming in as CEO of Enron or Wal Mart. I think we can have guest workers without necessarily making everyone a citizen. I know this: the Berlin Wall never worked and never will this one. The solution is getting countries to grow their economies instead of dumping people on us. Until that happens, the problem remains the same, wall or no wall.

None of the candidates wanted to have a commuter rail in Ft. Bend – even though it would take 50,000 to 100,000 cars off the roads everyday—and we are about to DOUBLE in population the next 20 years. Duh! Roads aren’t exactly cost effective either but we need them, and rail. A line to Richmond Rosenberg would also open up their historic downtowns to Houston daytripers on weekends.

No one said that spending has gone UP 25% under a GOP majority in Congress. How conservative is that?

I didn’t attend – my wife insisted I take her to the ballet instead. Maybe that wasn’t a bad idea.

Mr. DeLay has set it up such a mess that his seat could easily switch to a Democrat—especially with Steve Stockman pulling GOP votes and even being a potential player in the end when a plurality vote is possible. Isn’t that ironic?

It’s clear that whoever gets the GOP nod may find all they end up with is a mummy’s curse “YOU lost the seat!” Then he/she is politically dead and two years from now will be the real race.

Who wants to be the one to lose this for the GOP? Please step forward. The only way to win this for the GOP is to give some honestly better answers then those offered last Thursday night…only then does the GOP have a chance...I am offering a DVD to Precinct Chairs which documents my warnings about 9 11 before 9 11...we need honesty and expertise more than a politician right now.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Vets deserve better than this

Reports are that the 26 million Veterans name that were stolen from a laptop will cost hundreds of millions of dollars as their data is sold and used for credit scams.

Yet the entire incident could have been avoided with one or two simple software programs on the market that would have automatically destroyed the data on a stolen laptop -- or would have notified the sender the location of the device (just do a Google search for "Laptop Security Software" to get a list of options).

What is amazing is that the VA and others like it did not have something as simple as this simple, inexpensive "off the shelf" software as standard equipment on their computers to avoid exactly this kind of disaster. With just a little bit of security thinking by our government, a thief would end up only with a blank hard drive instead of 26 million veterans names at risk. Duh!

Enron Verdict - Justice

There is a Chinese saying that you have to "kill a chicken to scare the monkeys." The conviction of Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling shows that the American justice is still alive and well, especially when the wealthy get convicted despite spending millions in legal fees. They are the "chickens" and their conviction sends a messge to other crooked CEO's. The collapse of Enron destroyed a lot of people and their financial security. One of them goes to my church with his wife. They have zero retirement despite decades working for Enron. So Kenny Boy and Jeffy Boy got exactly what they deserved. The same system needs to convict some of our crooked Congress reps (both Democrat and Republican) to scare the monkeys.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Immigration Flaws

I was talking to an employer about immigration. He said that if you call social security to try to verify an employee can legally work here - forget it. They can't tell you if someone is legal or not. We have computers that can tell if your credit card is working, but there is no such computer to verify someone's social security number. Without the ability to have employers screening for illegals, there is no way the situation can improve. Having the National Guard at the border has no impact on 12 million illegals already living here. I suggest the government computerize the system so social security numbers can be verified by employers. Right now, employers are told to "have a copy of their drivers license and social security number in a file" and that is considered "good enough."

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Brazil’s Example – Breaking an Addiction

The U.S. dependence on imported oil and “too little too late” energy policy has left us vulnerable to future oil shocks. Even the President has said “we have an oil addiction.” We give billions of dollars away each year, much of it to countries which are not shining examples of democracy, from Venezuela to Saudi Arabia.

But Brazil is an example how to break that addiction. They don’t import any oil. How? By running cars using 100% ethanol produced from sugar cane.

So why don’t we do the same? We are taking tiny baby steps when we need giant leaps forward in alternative energy. Time is not on our side. India and China are growing rapidly and consuming what used to be surplus oil stocks. We have the capacity to grow our own fuel. American farmers have the ability to produce the feedstock – from corn to sugar cane and even the President’s straw grass.

Congress could, and should, require manufacturers to build what Brazil calls “flex cars” – cars that will run on gas, 100% ethanol or both.

So what are we waiting for? As JFK once said: “The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.” The time generate alternative energy supplies is NOW, before the rain starts falling on our heads –and our SUV’s sit stalled on the side of the road during the next shortage.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

No Intelligence on Iran - Same Song, Different Verse

Want to know why we should have someone with global experience in Congress? Read this. Our CIA doesn’t have a clue what is going on in Iran – and Congress has done nothing to put human assets on the ground or require them. We have this insane idea that taking photos with satellites tells us what we need to know. We don’t even have more than a handfull of people who understand or speak Persian in the CIA (Iran is not an Arabic country).

So what was Congress doing about it?

Some were taking trips to Scotland with lobbyists… Most believed the bad intelligence on Iraq that led to major mistakes that is still costing American soldiers lives. Doesn’t that make you feel safer? It’s about time Congress funded real human intelligence – satellites won’t cut it. Neither will another Congress rep who is clueless on these issues.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Immigration Solution is Outside Our Borders

The only real solution to immigration is to get countries like Mexico to breath life into their economies so people don't have to leave to feed their families. The pyramid economy (where only a few rich are at the top and everyone else fights for the crumbs left below) doesn't work - and we get the aftermath. It is in our best interest to solve this problem at its root, by encouraging countries to grow from the bottom up, because all the walls in the world won't keep out people desperate to feed their kids.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Fjetland, Norway

I received an email from my brother, who discovered on Google Earth that there is a town in Norway named "Fjetland." No kidding.