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Monday, April 30, 2007

Santa Ana in Iowa?

I'm in Iowa after attending a memorial for my stepfather in Mason City, and taking the opportunity to visit my 99 year old Granmother and an aunt who is in the hospital. It turns out that Mason City is in a county named "Cerro Gordo." Locals I asked thought it was an Indian name. When i looked it up I discovered that it means "fat hill" --a Spanish name -- after a battle with Santa Ana in 1847 in IOWA.

Santa Ana? I always thought that was a Texas story - how he was defeated at the battle of San Jacinto. Well, check out the link and get confused. Apparently, a General Scott, outnumbered by Santa Ana, pounded him and "opened the door to Mexico City." From IOWA no less...!

It was 91 degrees yesterday --hotter than Texas.

After visiting my aunt at Mercy Hospital I learned that yet another Presidential candidate was there the following day. Just another day in Iowa. More on this later...

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

China Could Buy The World -- Why Fight for Oil When U can OWN It?

I went to a seminar on China sponsored by the Greater Houston Partnership. The numbers were amazing. U.S. growth rate: 3%. China’s: Over 10%. We have trillions in debt. China has $1.4 TRILLION in Surplus!

One speaker made the point that China is shopping the world for resources. They could BUY the entire copper industry for about $70 billion and have tons of cash left over. They are buying up oil reserves, coal, you name it. They can afford it. They have a Plan. If our leadership has a plan, I’d like to know what it is. The Chinese don't have to start a war to own the world's natural resources. They can now BUY it. It's a lot easier and less costly than a war.

A friend of mine is a retired NASA astronaut. He has met the Chinese space folks and was impressed. The U.S. has pushed away the Chinese from the International Space Station (ISS). This is goofy policy and will not help us. Keeping them away didn’t keep China from using its own scientists to become only the third country on the planet to put people in space. Best to bring them into the ISS “tent” to be part of the team instead of a potential rogue space nation.

What is strange about the Pat Tilman death in Afghanistan is WHY did they BURN his uniform? That just seems bizarre and un-professional and disrespectful of a soldier killed under any circumstances.

Boris Yeltsin has passed. He wasn’t perfect but he did get democracy rolling in a country that had nothing but dictators like Stalin. Russia today is a far better place because of Boris Yeltsin. Who care that he had some fun, drank some and danced with the band members. It made him more human and that is a small price to pay for an entire population earning its freedom. Today’s Russians are far richer and happier than the old days of scarcity, endless lines and stale bread. With his passing, we have lost another “Redwood” in the forest.

This country needs a global strategy if it is going to stay in the game this century with our enormous deficits, the competition of India and China for fuel, etc.…but that’s another subject for another time.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Virginia Tech: Iraq Has One Every Day

The senseless killings at Virginia Tech have shocked many. Yet, if people thought about it, the Iraqi people are having a Virginia Tech killing spree EVERY DAY. The photo is of an Iraqi girl after a car bombing on the same day in Iraq.

Students, professors, and ordinary people are being shot, executed or killed in a car/truck bombing every day in Baghdad, etc.

The VT killer held up as "martyrs" the creeps who killed at Columbine. In Iraq, the "Martyrs" are religious nuts. None of them are really martyrs. They are just twisted killers.

Banning guns won't fix a broken mind. It's NOT about immigration. UT's killer and the Oklahoma City bombers were white. Mandatory Treatment is the answer when someone exhibits such irrational and violent behavior as the young VT student--he had already been caught stalking women and locked up for 48 hours for being a threat. Yet he was released. Laws need to be changed so people like this disturbed kid are either treated or committed until the public is safe from their violent, bizarre behavior.

VT's security system was also broken and asleep at the wheel.

On the same day the country was transfixed on VT, Houston had a freeway shootout on highway 59 near my office - people smugglers from Mexico shooting other people smugglers in broad daylight on a busy city freeway. Houston is being used as hotel for human traffickers.

Banning guns won't stop smuggling either. But taking action can. The smuggling, like the VT killings, impacts people from around the world, not just here.

My deepest condolences to the relatives and friends of those killed by a sick mind at VT. You are not alone in your anguish...people like you are feeling the same every day in Iraq, Darfur and the streets of Houston.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

2:30 in the morning in the rain...

Friday night/Saturday morning about 2:30 a.m. it was raining when Paloma puppy needed a wee break. I figured it would be short since it was raining and lightning. WRONG. She wanted to sniff the yard, so I found myself out in the rain in the middle of the night running around trying to catch her to get her back inside. Then she was up again at 5 a.m. so I had an early day, courtesy of that little mess.

Today was tax day for me. I'm one of those "last minute" tax filers. It is one of those things no one would do if it wasn't required. But taxes pay for things we need like roads and security for one of the best lifestyles in the world so we shouldn't complain so much about having to do it. I had a good year after finishing my political run and my opponent resigned from Congress, so i can't complain.

Sunday marks 60 years that Joe Robinson broke the color barrier by playing his first pro baseball game. We have come a long way since then, but then we really haven't. Between people like Don Imus and Rappers both degrading women (among others), the situation is still poor and needs to be improved - for blacks, women Hispanics and others who have not been given due respect. We need fewer people like this influencing children.

Then we have the World Bank President giving his girlfriend a raise that exceeds the YEARLY income of most people. Mr. Wolfowitz is degrading the World Bank and U.S. integrity. It is another form of abuse of power and downright wrong. He should also go...

Hurricane season is coming. I've been focusing on getting people protected with XO Armor - because it will be too late once a storm starts rolling our way. Some buildings are putting in 24/7 operations centers that need it - entire buildings need it. One manager of a downtown skyscraper said it would cost $1 million to do the entire building - yet the damages to just one prestigious law firms in that building could easily exceed that if records and documents are destroyed when windows break from debris strikes and high winds..

Things are revving up. I'm off to Iowa soon for a family event, one of the few visitors to that key state who is NOT running for President in 2008. LOL.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Iraq Parliament Bombed Along with Imus, Duke DA and Missing Intelligence

The bombing in the Iraqi Parliament, the first ever, shows a huge security breakdown that puts everything in jeopardy.

Last night I heard Joe Klein speak at the Progressive Forum – he mentioned that 2 of the 3 Iraqi units in Baghdad don’t speak Arabic (only Kurdish). Obviously our forces don’t speak Arabic (we still have too few translators).

That leaves us deaf and blind in a knife fight for control in a foreign land controlled by competing forces. Having U.S. forces with Arabic speakers should have been a priority from Day 1 (had it been planned) to our decision makers avoid stumbling around clueless in the dark without a clue of what is really going on in Iraq.

Mr. Klein spoke well of Gen. Petraeus (sp?), who is excellent at what he does. In my opinion the General has been dealt a poor set of cards leftover from the previous players who made a mess that has gotten out of control like a wildfire. Finding an intelligent exit strategy is critical – and made even harder by the legions of blunders that define this war.

I think the only people who had it right was the Baker Hamilton Study Group. If they were in charge, I think Iraq would have a chance. Without them, I see a failed state that has increased our global insecurity. It could have been avoided entirely if elder Bush’s advice had been followed from the beginning…

On the Imus matter, it’s time for people like him to be GONE. His remarks were more fo the same: a total lack of respect for struggling people, and women. That is why the U.S. has fallen from an 85% approval rating after 9 11 to 22% worldwide today.

And the DA who prosecuted based on false accusations at Duke should also be GONE. And so should frat boys who think it’s cool to get drunk and hire strippers to gawk at for “fun”…they too should be GONE. Their conduct didn’t merit false claims, but again, they weren’t acting like a Christian boys choir as they downed bottles of beer and hired minority girls to strip. ..No one looks good in that case..

What do all of these events have in common? A lack of Intelligence, and a lack of respect for others...

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Iraqi Insider - Tells What Went Wrong With the War

An Iraqi insider has written a book on what went wrong with the war. It is a must-read for Americans who want to learn from the mistakes that could turn Iraq into a failed state....

It is not an easy read, but it is something everyone needs to know about so that it is never-never repeated. The cost in blood and money is high enough when war is managed properly. When its not, lives that could have been saved are lost forever. Check it out...

P.S. And if you think we've got the majority of Iraqi (Shiites) on our side, check out this article.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Don't Blame The Soldiers

The British sailors and marines taken hostage are now catching heat for their activities in Iran.

This is unfair and wrong. These young people made statements required of them by their captors. Who in that situation wouldn't do the same? They were isolated from each other, alone and in a dangerous situation. The armchair critics would have probably done as much, or more, had it been them in that strange situation. The bottom line is that they came back with their heads attached.

Today I came across some American soldiers checking into a hotel - one had a purple heart from Iraq. Five or six fine young Americans getting some R&R. If it had been them instead of the British in Iran, I would have not cared if they had to sing songs and dance if that kept their heads attached. The Iranians acted far better than the Al Qaeda creeps in Iraq.

I'd like to get all our troops without losing another one to an IED or a sniper.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Brits release - Tit for tat

As I said, the release of the Iranian held in Iraq would be a sign that the British hostages would not be held for long.

I expect more Iranians held in Iraq will be also released as part of this "tit for tat" exchange. No one died and no shots were fired. Amazing what diplomacy can do when used....

The interesting thing was how skillfully Ahmadinejad (don't hold me on the spelling) played the part on the world stage - releasing them during Easter.

We need a global American President who can wow the world without firing a shot.

My puppy Paloma (photo on Feb 11 entry) ate a hole in the wall and is driving elder dog Lex nuts...she's been chewing on my elbow while I've been typing this. Her way of helping...

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

357 mph on the GROUND? No Thanks MAGLEV yes

A French train just hit a record 357 miles per hour running ON TRACKS (right photo), with cars full of reporters, most of whom were terrified. Bad idea to go that fast with track contact so critical - derailment could be caused by a penny on the track. Shanghai's MAGLEV makes more sense for high speed - since magnets cause the entire train to hover over the trackway. On the left is the Shanghai MAGLEV, the world's first (made with German technology).

MAGLEV would make sense for a city like Houston, which has over 5,000 square miles of area compared to the tiny footprint of places like New York. But a train going over 350 mph on steel rails that warp in the summer, etc. - NO WAY. Britian has had several derailments at much lower speeds (125 is their top speed).

Meanwhile in Houston, we have only a single, street grade rail that won't set any speed records. I still wish we had the vision to build what makes sense for Houston - a super fast link to each airport and the city center. A MAGLEV could make the airport run a 20 minute pleasure instead of today's hour(s) long pain.

It could also be a backup way to get around when the road wrecks or floods cut off our primary transport system (roads, roads, roads).

But I don't see that happening - just "more of the same" slow surface rail which will be stalled with everything else in the next flood...and even that is decades late in being built. This is one area where the Toll idea makes sense - set it up as a Toll MAGLEV private/public project, with the first link from Intercontinental to Downtown or Galleria...(or both).

We should get in the global game with a MAGLEV or equivalent rail system connecting our airports to the city...

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

War with Iran?

Is war with Iran next? I published an article today that there are indications of increased military focus by the U.S. on Iran - our reservists being shipped to Iraq are being told their job is to "intimidate" Iran. It wouldn't take much to turn this into a shooting war.

Yet, Iran is not Saddam. They are playing a good game of "tit for tat" --i.e., you take our people hostage we'll take some of yours hostage. Note this article that a top Iranian captured in Iraq has been released.

Want to bet that the Brits will be released soon?

If we go to war with Iran, Americans will pay a high price that will make Iraq look cheap.

The bigger threat is Al Qaeda that may well get a nuke before Iran does. Iran has a lot to lose by using one; Al Qaeda, which has no territory, missiles or cities, has nothing to lose...