Friday, June 30, 2006

Is Global Warming George Bush’s fault?


China has a much worse pollution problem than we do and it is getting worse by the day with their new found ownership of the automobile. In China almost everyone smokes cigarettes too. In most third world countries, people burn everything and I mean everything including tires. They dump everything into the rivers and streams.

Flaring at chemical plants in Europe is not regulated by fines like it is here in the USA. When they clear equipment, or have a shutdown, they open up their vents and smoke the flare until they are done. In this country Chemical plants are fined out the kazoo every time they smoke a flare.

Our problems here will not be solved in many of years of mandatory environmental emission (EPA) reductions without individual citizen detriments including job loss. It's very complicated and no one wants their lifestyle impinged upon, unless they do it voluntarily.

We need OPEC oil because we consume 25% of all the refined oil. We have to drill here immediately in virgin forests if we are going to break out of this dependency. Of course, we could become militant as a country, draw our belts up a notch, and get on with reducing emissions by using alternate sources of fuel.

I don't see that happening anytime soon, as no one wants to sacrifice. That's why folks are buying gas guzzling SUV's even now with gas at $3+ a gallon. Blaming this country for global warming, while the rest of the world dumps, burns, vents and belches to the atmosphere and oceans is not realistic. It is going to take a concerted effort around the globe by individual countries to slow down pollution.

To me, it doesn’t matter who is in the White House when it comes to solving our energy needs. If a Democratic president imposes super strict environmental controls to protect the/our “sustainable resources”, we will see mass unemployment and a general exodus of companies going overseas. They will pickup polluting the environment; right where they left off, but in another country that has no EPA laws and we will have no jobs.

We are at the same place this country was when we went from whale oil to fossil fuels. Folks lost jobs and swore the world would come to an end if we stopped whaling because it would cause mass unemployment and loss of everything they held dear. Well guess what? Folks changed because times changed and many folks clung to the old ways, but over time we made the transition and we will weather this one too.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Teach a man to fish...

Remember the old adage of feeding a man a fish for one meal, versus teaching him to fish and he feeding himself for a lifetime?

If GCCISD would promote the Vocational-Technical agenda of old instead of a general knowledge prepare-kids-for-conventional-college-type high school, wouldn’t there be more people exiting high school with above minimum wage skills?

Most high school students never complete their first semester of college. Why don't we help them early on, to enter the work force with skills that pay much more than minimum wage?

Baytown is in the process of building another High School and we have a smaller VoTech school, the Stuart Career Center, but it is not viewed as a primary option. This school is almost invisible to average Baytownians. If you ask around, folks will tell you we have 2 high schools period.

I suggest we take a hard look at pushing general knowledge (diploma) students with certificates of trade AND a high school diploma. An exiting student would have an actual trade when they graduate, which they could augment at Lee College for a full degree. This could start as early as the 9th grade and all the classes they need would be located at one school.

Baytown could become famous for graduating people who go into young adulthood with success and actual marketable trade skills. Many times a young person exits high school prematurely and finds the job market is dismal to say the least. This sets up a couple of options. One, work for minimum wage and this becomes their life. Two, pursue a life of crime. Three hang out. Four, join the military. Five, live off the government.

As a process operator of 30 years I am shocked at how few craftsmen are available without extensive on-the-job training. When my Plant has an extended turnaround, or new construction we have the hardest time finding craftsmen. What we get are boiler-makers. People hire in on turn-arounds as ‘boiler-makers’ that are not the true craftsmen that the title implies.

In this day and age we have a huge blooming population of young people whose only skill is video game related. Ask the average 18 year old boy to point out the alternator on their new car and they’ll stare at you with a blank look. My Dad could disassemble a car motor at 18 and at 18 I had half that knowledge.

A VoTech Mecca is what this city could become for young people and it’s time the City of Baytown began working to make it a reality.

“Oh! You were trained in the Baytown VoTech? Come in, we’ve been searching for someone with your skills”

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Are we the bad guys?

The United States of America is my country and we do have a goal to dominate the world through Capitalistic trade. I think everyone can agree on that. Our Country presently has troops stationed in 70% of the countries around the globe and some new ones are in the works. That's not supposition, that's fact and can be verified.

I call it stabilizing the area so we can trade. We provide the troops, which are the best in the world and this keeps Nations in line.

We work with the United Nations as long as they go along with us, but we still want to make sure we stay on top and that means we deny the Kyoto Treaty and invade Iraq (even though France, Germany, Russia and China objected because they were doing business with Iraq under the table) to stay in the lead.

China is going to be a problem, because they will not want to play ball by our rules. They have the 100 million man army that the whole world will go up against at the battle of Armageddon. Anyone who won’t sign away their country through the World Bank/World Trade Organization will be labeled trouble makers (take Cuba/Iran/N. Korea for instances).

Whether my well-meaning Democratic liberal friends will admit it, or not, we have a very good life here and I enjoy it. I don’t mind people getting rich(er) and I try to make as much money as I can and buy whatever I can afford for my family and even some cool stuff for myself occasionally. My only defense against the misuse of our current government is my vote and studying to keep myself educated. I wish it weren’t so. I wish it was my dream world of 20 years ago.

After I’ve said all that, I want to say that every kingdom, empire, and ruling faction has had the same idea of controlling their world. We do it through controlling the world’s trade and by loans. Loans which we will eventually collect by force for any reason we need to justify. I’m not a fricken nutjob, or a Commie, Socialist, Fascist, or someone who wants to overthrow our government. This thing is bigger than all of us and in the meantime, I am going to keep reading and learning and keep my eye on the world.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Dixie Chicks debacle

I support freedom of speech by American citizens. I'm not embarrassed by Natalie Maines and I'm not embarrassed when any law abiding American speaks or writes about something they feel passionate about, including the Dixie Chicks.

As a Vietnam Veteran with 654 days in South East Asia, what bothers me is Natalie making these partisan statements out of this country in front of the British, even if they are our ally. Now, she has added insult to injury (again in England) by wondering what the big deal is with patriotism.

Here’s the crux of the matter: we are at war with our military dying on foreign soil. This is not the time to go to a different country and talk against the war, which many equate with not supporting the men and women in uniform. We Vietnam Vets will never forget Jane Fonda and sure as heck-fire won’t forgive her. This is the same rhetoric to many and the same sin, if you may.

Ms. Maines could stand up in front of any audience and say she wishes the war would end and we should pray for a quick end AND the safety of all the Coalition troops and she would sell albums like crazy. I for one wrote them off as entertainers when I first read how they defended what was said, well remembering Jane Fonda and experiencing first hand the negative feelings American civilians had for returning Vietnam Vets.

Here is how I react when a Dixie Chicks song comes on the radio…I shut it off, or turn the channel. I won’t support them or buy their music. I boycott them. I don’t get mad, I don’t call them “doo-doo heads” under my breath, I don’t do much of anything, and I just change the channel. I am exercising my right of choice.

When they put their politics in front of their music, especially what is considered anti-patriotic politics by the people who buy their music, they effectively committed capitalistic suicide, as one person put it so clearly. I salute them for their strength of convictions and they are reaping the benefits.

Should we pull out of Iraq right now?

I'm thinking 50% of the time we need to go ahead and hand it back lock stock and barrel right quick. I just finished reading 'The Fall of Baghdad by Jon Lee Anderson and it is non-partisan. Iraqi's told Mr. Anderson over and over they were very grateful for America removing the Baathist's, but they were afraid we would just replace Saddam with the American government.

They want what America has, but they want to enjoy their version of it, which are Iraqi and Muslim. I think if we were to disappear into the woodwork, they could live with us (and many said that). They would enjoy US presence if we were out of sight on our bases (the western side of Iraq) and our presence would ensure their safety from their ancient enemy, the Persians. The whole area would effectively be stabilized.

I’m talking about the Iraqi’s in general, not Al Qaeda, Batthist Sunni’s or any other radical group, such as Al Sadr and the Fedayeen Muslim fighters. They have individual agendas and want their cuts of the pie (or the whole pie).

The International Capitalists would love to see a world without borders and tariffs so they can trade and trade and trade and in turn grow richer and richer and richer. The terrorists disrupt this capitalistic voracious excess and therefore must be eliminated. The terrorists understand this. This is why on 9-11, the World Trade Center was the supreme target for them…for the second time!

What countries hate about America is we destroy their culture after they take our hand-outs. We build McDonald’s and Wal-Mart’s everywhere we go. We defile their holy places and violate their culture. We want them to adopt our ways and heck-fire; they should learn to speak English to boot.

When I worked for ARCO years ago, I was shocked to see that Robert Anderson, who was CEO of ARCO, sat on the Board of directors of about 15 other large companies. The reason was Mr. Anderson (I know) was filthy rich and owned a huge amount of stock in these other companies. Enough stock that he could make policy. I was perplexed over this for many years until I gathered enough information to connect the dots.

Like I said, I enjoy the benefits of Capitalism and in many ways I am a capitalist, however and I said this before, doing business with the United States is like doing business with the Godfather. Sooner or later there will come a time when he asks for a favor and if the favor isn’t fulfilled, the USA will ‘get all up in your grill’. This is why we sell weapons to a country and 10 years later we invade it. They simply quit playing ball, or didn’t make good on ‘the favor’.

Sounds bizarre don’t it? Capitalism isn’t the best form of government, but as long as everyone buys, sells and trades, it works pretty well and if you work hard enough, you can own a lot of neat stuff!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Why our soldiers can't shoot back

I talked to my son about a week ago and he told me they were being fired at while on convoy, on a regular basis. I asked him if they shot back and he said "no". I asked why and he said all the ruckus about Americans supposedly committing atrocities and murders has caused military leadership to require all soldiers to write an exhaustive report on why they fired their weapons...before they could call it a day.

He said many times they would run for 10-12 hours in full battle gear, in the intense heat with bullets bouncing off their vehicles and everyone "just hunkers down" and sweats it out. When they finally get into a new US compound, they all just let down and no one wants to write reports. He said morale is very low because of this and everyone still wants to believe they are supported back in the States.

He was on convoy a couple of miles from where the soldiers were taken hostage (he wrote this morning) and they were directed by satellite to stop and do a search and recover/rescue, but upon calling back to battalion, they were directed to move out as soon as possible to keep from becoming a target and complete their mission.

As a Vietnam Veteran, the loss of every soldier/G.I. hurts my heart and puts a shadow over my day, but by god folks, we just can not as a country, pull the rug out from under our guys and gals in harms way and strap them with so many rules of engagement that they can’t even fight back. It really burns my hide and I don’t think the answer is to nuke the country or anything like that either. We have got to quit playing arm-chair quarterback on everything that happens. We have military officers for that and we need to let them do their job.

We as Americans have to keep it before us that we are at war and there will be collateral damage in the way of women, children and non-combatants. I told my son before he left on his third overseas tour (first enlistment and he’s 22 years old – class of 2002 RE Lee) to NOT allow himself to be captured knowing full well what I was saying. He’s an advanced martial artist and a real scrapper, but allowing these terrorists to capture you is only prolonging your very personal violent heinous death sentence. Might as well go down fighting and take as many as you can with you. This is not the streets of Houston and cops against American criminals with Constitutional rights; this is war where after you shoot your way into a room full of people trying to kill you, you shoot each one of them again to make sure they are dead.

Bert Marshall, Sgt. USAF
654 days SEA

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Crime and defending yourself against it.

Buying and carry a gun (legally) is no guarantee you will be able to use it when the time comes and I don't mean convenience. The psychology of inflicting lethal force comes into play and the vast majority of law abiding citizens are not prepared to step across this line when that time arrives...unless it is very clear there is no other option.

Take these two scenarios for instance:

1. You wake up in the middle of the night and can clearly see a burglar with something in their hand that appears to be a weapon, slowly walking through your living room and it appears they are going to eventually go out the front door. You have your handgun in your hand. Do you shoot the intruder because they MIGHT turn and come into the room (you can legally do this)?

2. Same situation, but the intruder turns and starts walking into your kids room.

It would be very easy to say "I would drop that character like a bag of potatoes”, but the truth may be very different. Most people who train in self-defense, work out many of these scenarios in advance so they respond quicker, but even then, the moral code most of us live by, put us at a disadvantage. Untrained people usually play it by ear, because they do not want to believe it will happen to them. They bolster their feeling of security by saying they would "blow them away", or some such boast.

The bad guy/gal or crack head doesn’t live by this moral restraint and this puts them with the advantage every time. If you plan to fight back, then you better get all the training you can including reading books on self defense, or taking classes at a martial arts school.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Praise the Lord and pass the ammo!

I voted for George W twice, but I'm beginning to wish we could see some positive from his election. Each President faces different challenges and I think we can all agree this administration has faced its share of conundrums. In the name of securing our country, we have seen many freedoms removed and like almost everyone, I went with it peacefully and in full agreement. However, maybe we are losing stuff we won’t get back. Civil rights are civil rights and if Israel has taught us anything, it’s we can’t stop terrorism if the bad guys are bent on delivering it.

With all the talk of national security, I’m also thinking its high time we backed off on the paranoia and since everyone agrees we cant stop both well meaning and bad people from crossing our borders, we might as well form local militias and arm each of us Veterans with M-16’s with M-79 grenade launchers attached in case the fricken Commies come over….%$#@ oops, wrong era! But you get the point. Maybe we do need to activate the Civil Defense forces instead of taking away our rights. I’m game.

This blog is humorous because I don’t have the answers to our problems, but I do see trouble ahead if we keep tightening up in the name of security.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Gasoline, MPG, and Driving habits!

Are we really concerned about miles per gallon and the cost of gasoline?

I work in La Porte Texas on Battleground road and I get off around 5pm. Lately, I’ve been doing my dead-level best to keep my car’s speed below 70 mph so I can run a miles-per-gallon comparison. Since I work 12 hour shifts, I can usually do this early in the morning because of fewer cars on the road, but the afternoon trip is a real circus.

My car of choice is my old faithful 1989 Honda Civic Wagon dubbed ‘the Egg’ by the Tallant boys that used and abused it for its first 14 years. Regardless of their efforts, it still runs like a top and my last calculation put me at 36.7 miles per gallon. That’s 320 miles on 8.7 gallons of gas. I paid my brother-in-law $400 for the car because it had a dented hood and the radiator was punctured. I guess tires and all I’ve put about $1500 in fixing it up over the last 4 years.

Now let’s get back to the road driving habits of my fellow commuters. I don’t see anyone slowing down. In fact at 70 mph, which is 10 mph over the posted speed limit, I am routinely passed by almost every vehicle. Remember the right lane used to be the slow lane? I say used to be, because now if you go the speed limit in the right lane, folks tailgate and I mean tailgate!

Back about 20 years ago, I would drive to work at 4:30am and sometimes I would not see another car on the road until I was on SH-225. Now, I see 5 cars in my subdivision before I get to an exit street. No one wants to be inconvenienced by carpooling.

Gas is out of control on prices and jumps 10 cents from morning to night, but I have 3 friends who just bought Nissan Armada’s! Let’s see, according to Nissan’s web site, this vehicle gets 13-18 mpg. Okay, let’s fill this baby up with (gasp) regular unleaded. 28 gallons times $2.80 equals $78.40! This money will allow you to drive 434 miles on average. My 18 year old car, which does not burn oil and has 200,000+ miles on the odometer, can drive this same distance on 11.8 gallons of gas and $33.00.

The point I’m trying to make is the “gasoline high-prices crisis” hasn’t changed our driving and car-buying habits one bit. I will no longer consider buying any vehicle if it doesn’t get at least 35 mpg. We as American consumers must demand better mileage or we will continue to support the auto industries offerings.

In Arizona last week, the highway patrol clocked a stock V-6 Hyundai Sonata at 147 mph! Guess what? It did not have a Hemi motor! How fast do we need our cars to go? Do we really need a vehicle that will go from zero to 60 in 6 seconds? I say no. ‘The Egg’ easily enters the freeway at 60-70 mph and only has a 1.5 liter motor with 106 horse power. I cross the Fred Hartman Bridge in 5th gear at 70 mph. By all American standards, I am driving an ancient vehicle. We need to rethink a few things folks.

Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi is dead

I wouldnt rejoice in the demise of my worst enemy, but to me this is very good news! The only terrorist that is as bad as Bin Laden is Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi and he has ceased to exist.

He is the hooded guy who literally sawed off Nick Berg’s head along with a number of others. I watched the video and if you do not have a very determined constitution, I do not recommend it. The poor guy suffered in the extreme. The video was worse than anything Hollywood has portrayed in any slasher-type movie

Al-Zarqawi was the top Al Qaeda man in the Middle East and was a professional terrorist. His very presence promoted the never ending cycle of violence. Most Iraqi’s and Iranian’s want the very same thing I want and that is peace for my family, security, their own possessions and a good future. Removing Al-Zarqawi from the mix can only bring about the peace that all of us want.

One bad apple spoils the whole barrel. This heinous man kept the pot boiling. He was sold out by his own people who are sick and tired of all the violence. It is a common belief in this country that life means nothing to “those people’ and its just not so. When one of their loved ones is killed by ‘collateral damage’, they truly mourn the loss as we do.

The average Iraqi wants a job. They want to sit in safety at one of their open air cafes and drink sweet tea and smoke Turkish cigarettes. They want to argue the many facets of Islam. They do not want foreign troops walking up and down their streets. They want to retain their customs and especially their religion. The sooner people like Al-Zarqawi are gone, the quicker things will return to normal and we can leave.

Al-Zarqawi wasn’t even Iraqi, he was Jordanian. His only interest in Iraq was disrupting the peace process.

The Fedayeen and Al Qaeda fighters hide in neighborhoods and Mosques and shoot at American soldiers using the civilian backdrops against us. It is a very valid guerilla warfare tactic, but truly shows the terrorist attitude towards the Iraqi population. Their agenda has nothing to do with stabilizing the country, or protecting non-combatants.

In all this violence and unrest, the American and Coalition troops are blamed and caught in the middle. Remember to support our troops even if you don't agree with our governments policies!

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