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Friday, November 30, 2007

Need Prez Debate on Global Issues that Affect Americans

In Sudan, a school teacher was facing 40 lashes for naming a Teddy Bear “Mohammed.” She got a 15 day prison sentence and deportation instead. Weird.

In Venezuela students are protesting Chavez – over 100,000 in the streets today. Hugo is trying to make himself “President for life” and the students are fighting it. For the first time, the “no’s” may defeat him. Standby for Sunday’s vote.

And former chess grandmaster Gary Kasparov just got let out of prison in Russia– another Putin punishment. Kasporov has been leading the opposition to Putin and jail was part of the result. Some have been poisoned with elements produced only by nuclear power plants. China just rejected a U.S. ship from entering Hong Kong during a storm – something that just isn’t done.

And “He’s BAACK!” Osama bin laden just released another audio tape telling folks to “hands off” Afghanistan (his homeland) and that only he is responsible for 9-11.

Then they pick up some guys in East Europe (Slovakia) trying to sell uranium, enough to make a dirty bomb.

In the midst of these events, I hear Presidential candidates debating issues that seem pretty small if you paid attention to what is really going on in the world (like who employed a company that had an illegal worker).

HELLO folks, pay attention. You are running to be our leader. It’s a global job – not just some local issue pot-hole post. I hope some of this stuff is on your radar. Because its going to bite us on the butt if we don’t address it.

Democracy is under attack globally and we are arguing over who gets to sit on the deck chairs as the Titanic is going down in places like Russia, a massive nuclear power, and Venezuela, one of the biggest oil producers in this part of the planet. The Middle East is but one component of a complex global situation facing the next American President and his/her staff.

We can’t afford leadership in the next 4 to 8 years who are clueless about these other significant, worldwide events that they will be in charge of. But we have yet to hear them address on the campaign trail…

We need a debate focused solely on international issues – not just Iraq but everything from being the only country not working on Kyoto CO2 reduction to how to handle the emerging 21st Century giants China and Russia, as well as the rogues trying to make dirty bombs.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Strange Lighting, Good Questions on GOP YouTube Debate

Last night I watched the Republican YouTube debate – strange lighting, clever songs and all. But even if someone forgets to have enough light to show their entire face, it is the question that was the important thing. Just don't hire some of these producers to make your next film.

I thought the youTube questions were extremely thoughtful, intelligent and pointed -- just the types of questions candidates need to answer – and probably wouldn't be asked in a "normal" debate format. Nothing like making candidates squirm onstage.

It does appear that Republicans and Democrats inhabit two different planets at the same time. One is obsessed with Iraq; the other with illegal immigrants.

Both seem to be incapable of figuring out a centrist approach instead of "withdraw immediately" or "all illegal's are bad" -- even the Mexican guy who saved an American kids life when his (American) mother died in an accident in a remote part of the desert and the alien chose to protect the kid and build a fire even if it got him deported (it did). Come on guys.

Last night I was convinced that illegal immigrants were the end of our existence when not a single person in that room had lost a job to one. I doubt any would sign up for a stint in a meatpacking plant or whatever nasty job these folks take and Americans avoid as if it were Typhoid.

We have farms that can't get laborers in to pick the lettuce we all like to eat. Tancredo said last night: "Tough, let them go out of business" to a farmers question about getting work visas to get their crops in. He said: "if they can't find an American to take those dirty jobs, then its too bad. "

No American is going to pick lettuce I can tell you that. Do you know anyone who wants that job? Or wants to lug 200 lb meat slabs and kill cows in a meatpacking plant? I haven't met a single Republican who has lost a job to an illegal immigrant.

On the other side of the spectrum we have over 500,000 high tech jobs that can't be filled by Americans – and no law to allow skilled people from elsewhere to take them. So our economy suffers on both ends. How does that help us? This doesn't even make sense.

The other thing I noticed is that no Presidential candidate seemed to have a global strategy – something I didn't detect among the Democrats either. Come on guys - jobs, immigration, etc --all these have international causes and effects. When Mexico's east coast was hit by high water like Katrina, thousands lost homes and jobs. Did we help? No. So guess what - they will come north looking for work because there is none there. If we helped them, it would cut the numbers of people looking north for their future survival --walls with machine guns or not. It's as simple as that.

It is smart to have a global strategy to deal with it, and foolish not to. (a wall is not a strategy; getting jobs in Mexico to keep people there is).

There was a lot of backbiting between the candidates – same on the Democrat side.

I'm ready for a positive, centrist candidate who doesn't pander to either fringe (left or right), who has a global strategy to return America to its premier position as a world leader and builder of peaceful relations among nations. That's the only thing that will truly give us national security.

Who is that person? No one so far has been that extraordinary…on either side.

Oh yes, I did pose a couple questions to the candidates. Here's a link t0 one that applies to both Democrats and Republicans...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Shifting Winds - Globally and Locally. DeLay v. Lampson style

The winds of change have been blowing. After 7 years of avoiding the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the President is embracing it . The stagnation of the peace process has fueled the extremist elements, so it is a step in the right direction even if it's late in the day.

And change was evident when I attended my first town meeting last night in Nassau Bay hosted by new Congressman Nick Lampson in CD22 -- Tom DeLay's former district.

What a change that was.

My last town meeting when DeLay was in office was in Rosenberg (Ft. Bend) in 2004 in an auditorium of 1,000 teachers, upset over the cutting of their benefits. Mr. DeLay started the meeting by saying "I am right and you are wrong." It went downhill from there. He engaged as if it were a fight with voters sitting there.

In contrast, Mr. Lampson told the group last night: "You are the boss; you have solutions to these problems. I am here because I want to hear them."

And he did listen. And he bought the FBI to talk about mortgage fraud and a realtor to talk about the present situation in our area (a mix).

I heard very interesting, good ideas from people (and some good intentions even when they missed the mark).

From Mr. Lampson I found out that NASA is in a tough situation -- it is being underfunded $3 billion from what it is ordered to do and what it has been budgeted by the administration. We spend that in a week in Iraq. It means that science or hardware development will suffer along with our future technology leadership at a time that China, Korea, Japan and others are shooting for the moon. Rep. Lampson is trying to get them the $3 billion.

Pakistan's Musharraff has stepped out of his military uniform, to rule as a civilian. It's nukes are now under the control of a new military man. Russia now has more billionaires than any other country and Mr. Putin is the new iron man of the one country with nuclear power equal to our own.

It's clear that our representatives in Congress and the next President will need the experience and advisers necessary to deal with all of these issues, as well as jobs, immigration, terrorism--all with causes and effects that are global. More on that soon...

Monday, November 26, 2007

Global Issues for the next Prez

If you watch the news with half a brain still working it has to dawn on you.

The next President better have a GLOBAL strategy or we are in trouble. Putin is rolling back democracy in Russia, which is now rich and has more billionaires than any other country. Chavez is trying the same in Venezuela. Pakistan's democracy is in trouble and little effort has been made on peace efforts.

So a lot of fires remain burning for the next President to deal with. Whoever it is better have a "game plan" from day 1.

Do any of them have one? I wonder.

That should be the question asked of all of them. Who cares what their domestic plan is. What is their international plan to keep America a player as the world changes?

It's too late to do much more about any of this in the remainder of this administration's term. No one is putting a lot of stock in the Israeli-Palestinian talks starting tomorrow.

Regardless of what happens tomorrow, the big issues --from Iran to Russia -- will fall full force on the next President - who will have only 4 to 8 years to turn things around.

We are heavily in debt and although violence is down in Iraq there is no political settlement to provide a foundation for long term peace. Heads need to be knocked together over there. If this President doesn't do it, the next one will have to....

Our future security depends upon it.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Computers, China and the Moon

The last four days I have been trying to convert all my data for use on a new laptop running Vista. It is amazing how long it takes to get software loaded and set up data files, etc. Some XP programs won't work on Vista (like Winfax) so one has to find something new.

Four days later it still not done, but getting closer. Just getting a couple computers to see each other on a network has been a challenge. Mama, don't let your children grow up to be cowboys; they better be computer geeks to survive in the 21st century....

The cold rain has stopped for awhile.

I see that Hillary is the only Democrat candidate that mentions SPACE as a priority or even mentions it. What's up with that? I am not sure if any GOP candidate mentions it.

NASA's Houston HQ is 5 minutes away from here. Space technology is our future. I can't believe it doesn't rank higher with more candidates. China will beat us to the moon if we don't get moving.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Time to Kick Some Diplomatic Butt

It's pouring a cold rain over the lake, with the temp dipping to 52 degrees, according to the gadget I put on the balcony. It's a blustery NE wind.

Thanksgiving was a riot at one house of a friend of mine (I wasn't there). After being told not to, the 14-year old niece (Ali) went around and let every bird out of its cage, causing great consternation among the adults. It was chaos before dinner.

That kind of describes the situation the U.S. is in as the President closes in on his last year to have an impact. That could happen Tuesday.

Tuesday is when the Middle East peace conference kicks off in Annapolis, the first time in 7 years that a real effort can be made to do something other than send troops and bullets to the Middle East. Political solutions can do what armies cannot. But it is hard work.

This is one of the last chances for the President to kick some diplomatic butt to bring about a more stable Middle East. It's not off to a good start, with the Saudi official declaring he would not shake hands with the Israelis.

I think its time everyone had to shake hands with everyone else to start -- Saudis and Israelis, Bush shaking Ahmedinjad's hand, everyone required to have dinner together, etc.

If I were there, I'd make everyone talk about their family and their kids, something everyone has in common.

Then i wouldn't let anyone out of the room to take a pee until they all agreed to treat each other with respect, open trade and stop shooting.

I figure a "first ever" deal could be done in a few HOURS, not centuries, under those conditions (serving lots of tea). LOL.

It's going to take serious diplomacy to get the U.S. back where it belongs - global peacemaker. That will be our best security protection in this nuclear age...

Monday, November 19, 2007

FOGGED In

I was driving south on Space Center Blvd and drove right into a cloud of fog at Bay Area Blvd that apparently extends out to sea, a "sea fog" according to my TV weather guru. For the first time, it is impossible to see the lake which is less than 100 feet away.

It is like being in a cloud of white mist in which nothing is visible much beyond your nose.

I was thrilled I had scored a deal on a TomTom a few days ago -- so I could see the curves coming in the road on its screen -- even in the fog or at night. It points out ATM's and gas stations, etc. What a cool device. And I got one for only $150. I even found a restaurant using it to guide me to a meeting, knowing which exit to take instead of guessing and wasting time in Houston's gridlock.

I see that Mr. Negroponte went to Pakistan but was silent about Musharraf reinstating the Pakistan Supreme Court. Why? Why aren't we supporting the lawyers and justices that a democracy needs? Very strange...

Like the fog, sometimes I think people fail to see what is in front of them. If I were President the United States would be insisting on Musharraf treating each branch with respect, including the Supreme Court. We made this same mistake with the Shah of Iran, and were "surprised" when he went down to Khomeini.

I see the same mistake being made again with Musharraf.

We need a Pakistan policy that advance moderates, who are the majority there (not radicals). Instead, we have a "bet on one man" policy that plays into the hands of the fringe and does nothing to build a democratic future. Without it, we are at nuclear risk. Pakistan is far more dangerous than Iran will ever be.

But, like the fog, people sometimes don't see things until it is too late...we can't afford that mistake in the nuclear age.

And unfortunately a TomTom can't guide us on this uncharted territory...

Friday, November 16, 2007

More Chinese Studying English Than Americans

I recently got to hear Houston's superstar trendspotter, Dr. Stephen Klineberg, who gave a summary of demographic trends in America.

One thing he said that was fascinating is that there are more Chinese in China studying English than there are Americans studying English in the U.S. He said that Latinos are studying English faster than European immigrants did, "including his Yiddish Grandmother who never learned English."

He is pretty funny. And on target. Check out a couple clips of Dr. Klineberg's comments on immigration at a talk he gave to the League of Women Voters last week...If it doesn't work on this blog it may still be on the League of Women Voters website at www.LWVhouston.org

Yesterday, I went to Trent Internationale School in Sugar Land and saw the future of America. They are part of the face of the new America that Dr. Klineberg also talked about. I'll post some photos as soon as I get them. These kids are being taught the skills they will need for success in a global, high-tech, space-race 21st Century.

China's goal is to beat us back to the Moon. They might do it unless the President gives NASA the funding it needs. And it will be the kids coming from places like Trent Internationale that help keep America leading the world for generations yet to come.
video

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

View from a Clear Lake


Photo1: Sunrise over Clear Lake
Photo2: Pelican Sundown over Clear Lake (TX)

I used to live where I would only see sunsets. Now I live in a place which faces east and I see only sunrises from my balcony. I've seen a million sunsets but until recently hardly a sunrise.

Now I see a sunrise nearly every day. Sunrise over a lake is always different each day. Yesterday it was foggy. Today the sun came up orange over smooth waters. Some days it is a red ball. Other days it is bright yellow or white rays, shooting over the lake like a diamond.

I grew up on a farm and moved to the city, so I've never lived on water. I'm discovering that I am a "water person." In a high stress job(s) like I have, or when the news headlines drive you nuts, it is a natural calming agent while sitting on the balcony.

Every morning and evening is also an air show. The birds are always performing even when "Wings Over Houston" and its WWII planes are not in town.

Last night I had to stop and watch the Pelicans circling over the boat launch at Clear Lake Park as the sun was going down. Ummm. Come to think of it, I love sunsets on the water also.

What's that great song fro Fiddler on the Roof? Sunrise, Sunset....

It is sunrise for a new group of players coming in 2008, and sunset for others...Take your pick of which you prefer.

View from a Clear Lake



Photo1: Sunrise over Clear Lake
Photo2: Pelican Sundown over Clear Lake (TX)

I used to live where I would only see sunsets. Now I live in a place which faces east and I see only sunrises from my balcony. I've seen a million sunsets but until recently hardly a sunrise.

Sunrise over a lake is always different. Yesterday it was foggy. Today the sun came up orange over smooth waters. Some days it is a red ball. Other days it is bright yellow or white rays, shooting over the lake like a diamond.

I grew up on a farm and moved to the city, so I've never lived on water. I'm discovering that I am a "water person." In a high stress job(s) like I have, or when the news headlines drive you nuts, it is a natural calming agent while sitting on the balcony.

Every morning and evening is also an air show. The birds are always performing even when "Wings Over Houston" and its WWII planes are not in town.

Last night I had to stop and watch the Pelicans circling over the boat launch at Clear Lake Park as the sun was going down. Ummm. Come to think of it, I love sundowns on the water also.

What's that great song fro Fiddler on the Roof? Sunrise, Sunset....

It is sunrise for a new group of players coming in 2008, and sunset for others...Take your pick of which you prefer.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Ex-Pilots Want New UFO Probe

Ex-Pilots Want New UFO Probe

A lot of ex-military and commercial pilots believe they have seen unexplainable flying objects that seem to be beyond current human technology. Some of these ex-pilots are calling for a new UFO probe by our government -- for security reasons.

"Especially after the attacks of 9/11, it is no longer satisfactory to ignore radar returns ... which cannot be associated with performances of existing aircraft and helicopters," they said in a statement released at a news conference.

I am a pilot, have flown over 55 countries, including Mach 2 in the Concorde, but have never seen a UFO. Presidential candidate Kucinich claims that he has seen a UFO.


If you think about it, it makes sense. Our leadership was blind-sided by 9-11 because they never thought that anyone would attack the U.S. -- despite the fact that Osama bin Laden had blown a hole in the USS Cole, US Embassies in Africa had been bombed, etc. etc.

We were blindsided because we refused to look. What if the next time we are blindsided it is because of a UFO?

We have all heard reports about Roswell and the UFO crash in 1947. I have seen footage of astronauts on early missions seeing UFO's -- that's when the video cameras on flights were suspended. I have seen video footage from an early NASA flight which shows what appears to be one object shooting at another in space -- and missing as the UFO sped off into space. Experts called it "ice" but since when does ice do a u-turn and take off to avoid being zapped by a light beam?

While our greatest security threat right now is Pakistan's nuclear inventory and political crisis, the next one could be related to other threats we need to know about.

At least doing a study on unexplained objects flying in our territory or elsewhere would open our eyes. If there are UFO's putting our heads in the sand is not a solution. If there are alien technologies that pose a threat to us, we need to know about it.

One constant that I've learned from life is that change is inevitable, and that technology changes everything. It is better to be prepared for that change than to be caught flat-footed by it. 9-11 was a good lesson. Let's not forget it -- and open a new study by our military and NASA on this issue.

Final thought: The Bush administration is protesting NASA getting an extra $1 billion to develop our next generation shuttles -- the same amount it spends every 3 days in Iraq! This makes no sense. Spend the $1 billion on NASA. If the study shows we have a UFO issue, we'll need as much space technology as we can get....

Monday, November 12, 2007

Thanks Vets

It was a holiday for courts in Sherman, TX today but not Houston, but we all should thank a vet today.

I had a court appearance, which involved a phone call to Sherman, TX where their court was closed for Veteran's Day while our court was open. The first time we called one of the parties needed to consent, he was not convinced it was the judge -- and he was having a Whataburger. The second time we called him, he told the court that he had pulled off the road. The judge asked him to raise his hand to swear him in as a witness. Several minutes later when questions stopped, he asked the judge: "Can I put my hand down now?"

I can imagine what motorists must have thought, seeing a guy parked on the side of the road with his right hand in the air, talking on the phone. LOL.

Thanks to vets, we have the freedom to do just that...Now we need to see that folks in places like Pakistan have the same court system and rule of law (vs. Men) that they are fighting for and we take for granted...

Nigeria could become a target for militant Islamists?


Will Nigeria become one of the next targets for militant Islamists? Nigeria is oil rich and is divided between the Muslim north and Christian south. Some arrests have been made.

Nigeria is a trouble spot because it is already well known in the oil business for kidnapping oil workers and taking over platforms -- who are then released alive after some kind of payment is made, and then the whole game cycle is repeated. The immense poverty in the oil lands is the root cause. If Islamists take over people might start losing their heads.

If we don't see that these issues get addressed, eventually there will be more extremism. People see great wealth around them, yet Nigeria's corrupt system keeps it in the hands of a few at the top. So people get desperate and break into oil lines to get fuel.

Right now, the biggest threat to our security is Pakistan, which has nuclear missiles and an unstable situation. Our own government is supporting a military man over the country's legal system and lawyers.

I call on American lawyers, and all Americans interested in our security, to get involved to help the Pakistani attorneys who are the true freedom fighters here -- fighting for a justice system and democracy that will keep the country from going to the extreme.

We have to do the same in Nigeria, which has no nukes, for the same reason.

Our leadership has done neither.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Texas Hide Inspector office - Making a Big Differene in the World

Photo: Pakistani soldiers - No exposure to U.S. Bodes Trouble with Nukes

You'll be sad to know that Texas has voted to abolish the office of "Inspector of Hides and Animals" - a nonpaying office in places like Ft. Bend which allowed the officeholder to ride in the annual parade, and that's about it.

Well, that's another lost job, but it didn't go to China. No longer will we see pitched battles in future primaries for the job. I recall one year when three people ran the be the "Hide Inspector." I should have picked it instead of a run for Congress.

Speaking of which, I see that we cut off contact with Pakistan's military for a decade in 1990 -- now there is a group of senior military officers that were not exposed to the U.S. or European cultures, and are more sympathetic to the "jihadists." These guys will eventually control Pakistan's 30 plus nuclear warheads. They grew up in an insular Pakistan -- as isolated from the world as someone who never left Crawford, Texas before taking office.

That is why supporting moderates like Ms. Bhutto and elections is in our best interests. By supporting Musharraf we are setting up the same thing that happened to the Shah of Iran when Khomeini knocked him out -- but unlike Iran this country already has nukes.

We need to get smart fast. Getting rid of our Inspectors of Hides and Animals won't make much of a difference in the world. It misses the point when you consider what is happening in the world that impacts our/your future in the nuclear age. We should be having those Pakistani officers visit the U.S. -- and get to know us -- ASAP.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Talk vs Action - Failure to Use Our Leverage in Pakistan

Ms. Bhutto, who was elected when Pakistan previously had a democracy, said it best when she asked the American President:

"Do More than Mere Rhetoric." That describes in a nutshell the President's failure to stand up for democracy in Pakistan.

This is unfortunate since we have the leverage button if only we (i.e. the President) would push it.

The bizarre notion that suspending aid will hurt the "War on Terror" makes no sense when Musharraf has pockected over $8 billion and his troops run out of ammo in shootouts with Al Qaida, forcing Pakistani soldiers to be taken prisoner by a few renegades up against an army. If $8 billion doesn't buy the Pakistani troops ammo for a shootout, or support when they are trapped, where did the money go -- into the dictator's pocket?

Our $8 billion certainly didn't keep Musharraf from cutting a peace deal with the Al Qaida on the Northwest frontier where bin Laden's group hides out. It didn't buy the backup the Pakistani troops should have had, like an airdrop of ammo, instead of being abandoned defenseless in an outpost.

The failure to fight for democracy in nuclear Pakistan, by President Bush avoiding making even a serious threat of cutting additional military aid to Pakistan until elections are restored, makes us look two-faced and weak. Is that our policy --we are for democracy worldwide except when we favor a dictator who takes $8 billion of our taxpayer money and wages a phony war against Al Qaida with whom he cuts a peace deal -- what kind of U.S. policy is that?

Not smart. And not in our security interest either.

What does make sense is using the aid cutoff to restore elections. Then when Ms. Bhutto, if elected in January (and who has been an Al Qaida assassination target), would wage a more aggressive war against Al Qaida --AND restore moderate democracy in nuclear Pakistan?

The President needs to use his famous tough talk where it will actually do some good - in Pakistan. Or risk looking like a hypocrite...

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Why Do They Hate Us?

This subject came up during a recent GOP debate. The question was basically: "Why Do They Hate Us?" referring to the common held belief by Americans that people around the world don't like us. Here is an excerpt from an article:

"
Right now 65,000 Mexicans in Tabasco – less than 2 hours flying time from Houston – have been on rooftops escaping flood waters since last Thursday. The scenes and reactions are similar to Katrina two years
ago. Have you seen our leadership on TV, looking concerned and promising to send our southern neighbor as many emergency helicopters and relief supplies as they need? Do we have groups sending private aid to Mexico like we did after Katrina and the Asian Tsunami?

Or are the weekend football games we enjoy more important than 65,000 people and their pets waiting for help on their roofs—without food and water, their jobs and businesses washed away? Or is it just untimely
to have these disasters fall on a weekend?"


The full article, and proposed solutions, can be found at:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/GlobalAmerican

Friday, November 02, 2007

From Floods to Building Boom

Photo: Got $325,000? Too late. They are building Phase III (Both Phase I and II were completely sold before construction finished).

I'm sitting in Mazatlan's airport waiting for a flight out, having turned down an opportunity to buy a coffee cup Souvenir that said "Mazatlan" but on the bottom it said: "Made in China."  Geez, even the Mexico souvenirs are made in China! Ouch.  Mexico is losing jobs to China as well as the U.S.

But not construction jobs.  Apparently the building boom started here about three years ago. I asked a guy selling $300,000 (up) condos on the beach about it.  His response? "Baby boomers."  American baby boomers are coming  down and buying up real estate left and right. He said about 65% of their sales were to Americans, 30% to Canadian and about 5% to Mexican citizens. He also said that a condo that sells for $600,000 in Cabo San Lucas goes for half that in Mazatlan, making it a good bargain. And unlike Cabo, which is all tourists, Mazatlan has other industries from fishing to building trucks.

But i also found out from some American tourists I met on a city bus that the new multi-story condos are having to truck in their water. "New" Mazatlan does not have the piping to service all the new buildings going up.  The contractors have got to be making a fortune. Some units next to my little place (a timeshare with real cocanut trees) are selling for $400,000 - $500,000.  And people are coming down in droves and paying CASH for them.  

Needless to say, I didn't buy a thing.  The room did have CNN International (much better than CNN U.S.) which covered the horrible floods on the Mexican east coast in Tabasco. I'm directly west and there hasn't been a cloud in the sky all week.  

Interestingly, the TV had quite a few English TV programs (with Spanish subtitles). Almost none of it was worth watching, compared to viewing Pelicans soaring just above the breaking waves, looking for a fish dinner.