A PROGRESSIVE VOICE FROM THE LLANO ESTACADO

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

"Agg-Town" Fight Video Still On Sale

Recently, Arlington police arrested six young members of a gang that was staging and filming fights. They would then sell these videos on the internet for $15 each. Even though the six are currently awaiting trial, they are still selling the videos. One thing has changed though. Because of all the publicity, the videos are now selling for $20.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram recently ordered a video off the internet. It was mailed to them from south Arlington last week.

Although they have instituted a "zero tolerance" policy for fighting and being spectators at a fight, Arlington police said they were aware that the web site is still up and fight videos are still being sold. They said it is not illegal to sell the videos. However, there may still be state and federal laws being broken. Police have contacted the Texas Comptroller's office. Dona Medlock, director of enforcement in the comptroller's office, said they had no record of Michael Jackson [who is selling the video] applying for a tax identification number [which is used to keep record of sales tax collections]. The video sales would be subject to sales tax under Texas law. The comptroller's office is currently investigating.

The Arlington police have also contacted officials with the Internal Revenue Service. They will be looking to see if these sales were declared as income [which they are].

The current video for sale, Agg Townz Fights 2, was filmed in and around Arlington, and has about 50 fights on it, including several group brawls. The footage police seized recently was believed to be for a third video.


NOTE - Previous posts on this topic can be found in our archives section. The dates are May 20th, May 12th, and May 11th.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Thoughts On Iraq

* A few weeks ago, Georgie told us that things were improving in Iraq and he would soon start troop reductions. I hope you didn't really believe that, because today he did just the opposite. Georgie has just sent an additional 1,500 troops from Kuwait to Iraq. The reason he did this was because nearly 100 people have been killed in Iraq in the last two days. Today, 48 people were killed in Iraq. Yesterday, 51 people were killed in Iraq [including 1 American soldier and two CBS newspeople]. Doesn't sound like much progress is being made.

* Rep. Murtha has reported that it looks like American soldiers have murdered around 24 innocent civilians including many women and very young children. This will probably result in some front-line soldiers being court-martialed, but what about the higher-ups? This kind of thing doesn't happen without a serious lack of leadership. Also, who was involved in covering this up? We are just now finding out about it, but it supposedly happened about 6 months ago. If Abu Graib is the model, then expect to see only a very few people with low rank to be court-martialed. As for Rep. Murtha, he is fast earning my respect. It is refreshing to see a democrat that's not afraid to tell the truth. Maybe some of the spineless ones can look and learn.

* Many who are involved in this war don't want to admit it, but this is looking more and more like Vietnam every day. We are fighting without a clear idea of how to win. We cannot tell our friends from our enemies. We are propping up a puppet government made up only of candidates approved by us. When we crush the enemy in one area, he just pops up in another area. Our soldiers keep dying and nothing seems to be accomplished. The vast majority of the population do not want us there. All of these were true about both wars, including the seemingly endlessness of it all. Once again, we are in an unwinnable war and waiting for the President to realize it.

* Do we have any idea at all how many billions of dollars are flowing into the coffers of Halliburton in no-bid contracts in Iraq?

Monday, May 29, 2006

Remembering Heroes As Body Count Rises

Today is Memorial Day, the day set aside to honor the heroes who fell in war to defend our country and our way of life. They should be honored, because if the word "hero" fits anyone, it is them. Regardless of their race, creed, color, sex, country of origin, age, sexual preference, or political beliefs, they are all heroes.

What makes this Memorial Day even sadder than usual is the fact that we are currently engaged in a senseless war and the body count grows higher every day. Currently over 2400 US soldiers have died in the Iraq War. Thousands more have been injured and maimed. Was it neccessary?

Of course it wasn't. There were no "weapons of mass destruction" & Saddam was not a threat to us. Now we are just invaders and occupiers trying to force our kind of government on Iraq, and it can never succeed. As soon as we leave, the Iraqi's will get rid of our puppet government and install whatever they want. This will happen whether we leave tomorrow or stay another 10 years.

But none of this is the fault of our brave soldiers. Their courage and fortitude are beyond reproach. But the same cannot be said of our leadership. Our leaders have bungled this war from the very beginning and continue to do so.

We must demand that our leaders stop sacrificing our soldiers for access to a few barrels of oil. Let the Iraqi's determine their own future and sell their own oil. Bring all our soldiers home from Iraq immediately.


NOTE - For those who complain about media coverage of the war, do you really understand how dangerous it is for these media members? Today, CBS correspondent Kimberly Dozier was critically wounded in Iraq. Her soundman and her cameraman were both killed along with an American soldier. Somewhere between 94 and 120 media members have been killed in the Iraq War. These people are doing a good job in an incredibly dangerous situation.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Repubs Protect Dem [& Themselves]

Last week, the federal prosecutors got a search warrant to search the Congressional office of Rep. Jefferson [D-La.]. The search warrant was executed by the FBI. The warrant had been issued because the federal officers had Rep. Jefferson on tape accepting a $100,000 bribe. Sounds like a cut & dried criminal case, doesn't it?

Well, not to the republicans in Congress! They are incensed with the search and are demanding that the items seized be returned. Yes, these are the same republicans that have no problem with warrantless wiretaps on Americans. They are the same republicans who passed the Patriot Act giving the President enormous powers to snoop on other Americans. What has changed?

These republicans now say that because of the division of powers between the three branches of government, the Executive branch does not have the power to search the offices of members of the Congressional branch. This is a ridiculous argument. This is not a fight between branches of government. It is a criminal case. The federal officers followed the rules on this one and obtained a legal search warrant. No one is above the law in this country, not even members of Congress.

Since no one is above the law, and a legal warrant was obtained, why are the republicans sticking up for a democrat who has evidently broken the law? The answer is self-preservation. They don't care about Rep. Jefferson. They care about themselves. While this happens to be a democrat in trouble, the vast majority of people being investigated in Washington are republicans. If Jefferson's office can be searched, then their own offices can be searched. This is what worries them.

It is time that ALL government officials realize that no one is above the law in the United States. Being elected to office does not exempt anyone from having to obey the law. Check to see if your Congressman thinks he/she is immune to a legal search warrant. If he/she does, then punish them in November by voting for their opponent. You have the power. Use it.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Net Neutrality In CD #24 [Texas]

Last week, the "Net Neutrality Act of 2006" was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. This bill seeks to maintain a free and open internet with equal access to everyone. It seeks to stop an effort by some companies to go to a tiered-access system, where your access would be determined by the amout of money you pay - more money would mean more access. It could come up for a vote in the full house very soon.

A friend of mine recently e-mailed both candidates for Congress in Texas Congressional District #24. He only asked one question, "Where do you stand on net neutrality?" The e-mail was sent a couple of weeks ago, but the Marchant campaign still has not answered. Kenny Marchant is the republican incumbent in CD #24. Looks like he will be joining his rich buddies in opposing internet freedom.

Gary R. Page, the democratic challenger in CD #24, quickly answered the e-mail and made his views very clear. He says, "I support the Network Neutrality Act of 2006. I feel there are a great many things that are publically owned [by all Americans]. Some of those items that come to mind are the airwaves, electrical lines, phone lines and towers, aquifers, state and federal roads, federal lands, and open and free access to the internet. An open and free internet will maintain competition and spur innovation."

Looks like the choice is clear for internet users in CD #24. The democrat favors a free internet. The republican does not. I support Gary R. Page in his campaign for Congress and I urge all residents of CD #24 to do likewise.


NOTE - Over at Marc's Miscellany, it is reported that Marchant also opposes the extension of the Voting Rights Act. He was one of a group of southern congressmen that delayed a vote on extending the act. This guy has turned out to be a real embarrassment for the citizens of CD #24.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Sen. Hutchison Is No Moderate

For years, I have been hearing that Kay Bailey Hutchison is a "moderate" republican. This image has mostly been built up during her campaigns, where she tries to position herself as the rational and moderate choice. Evidently, this ploy has worked, because that is how many in Texas view her. Is it true? Let's examine her voting pattern and see just where she falls on the political scale.

Senator Hutchison voted for the Iraqi War. Of course, many on both sides of the aisle made this mistake, but the senator still supports the war. She also voted for the "Patriot Act" and the extension of this act. It doesn't look good that she cannot identify an illegal war when she sees one, and is not upset at the government stomping on individual rights.

She has also supported all of Georgie's appropriation bills. She has helped Georgie take a surplus of over a trillion dollars and turn it into the largest deficit ever. When it comes to her voting patterns, financial responsibility seems to be of little concern to Senator Hutchison. She voted for Georgie's tax cuts, and voted against efforts to repeal those tax cuts. She also voted for the onerous republican bankruptcy bill.

But while voting to give more money to the richest Americans, she is not that generous with our veterans. Twice in 2005, she voted against providing more money for the care and treatment of our veterans. She doesn't mind paying to send our young people to war, but when they return home, they are on their own.

Senator Hutchison voted to support Georgie's "No Child Left Behind" education bill [which leaves a couple of million kids behind at last count], but voted against more money for our schools. In other words, she supports placing new mandates on our schools, but has no interest in funding those mandates. She also voted against a paltry $200 increase in pell grants for students seeking higher education.

She shows very little compassion for working people. In 2004, she voted against extending unemployment benefits, and in 2005, she voted against raising the minimum wage. To politicians like Hutchison, only their rich friends have a right to make a decent living.

Here are some of the other positions taken by Sen. Hutchison as shown by her senate votes:

* Voted against allowing Americans to purchase less expensive drugs from Canada and other places.

* Voted against allowing patients the right to sue insurance companies over decisions regarding their medical care.

* Voted for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would prevent homosexuals from getting the same marriage rights as other Americans.

* Voted to allow drilling for oil/gas in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge.

* Voted for CAFTA [Central America Free Trade Agreement]. Evidently, NAFTA didn't hurt American workers enough for Sen. Hutchison, so now she wants CAFTA. Will she not be happy until all our jobs are gone?

* Voted for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would criminalize the desecration of the U.S. flag.

* Voted against bipartisan campaign reform in 2002.

* Voted for liability protection for the makers, importers, and sellers of firearms.

Finally we come to abortion. This is an area that helps Hutchison with the moderate image, because she is supposedly pro-choice. Let's see if her voting record supports the image. In 1999, she voted against an amendment that expressed support for the Roe v. Wade decision of the Supreme Court. In 2000, she voted against allowing military women and/or dependents to receive a privately-funded abortion in a military hospital overseas. In 2003, she voted to criminalize "partial-birth" abortions. In 2005, she voted against allocating $100 million to prevent unwanted pregnancies [including teen pregnancies]. If Senator Hutchison is a friend to the pro-choice forces, then they certainly don't need any enemies.

Senator Hutchison campaigns as a moderate, but her voting record shows that she is not. She is a member of the radical right fundamentalists that are taking this country down the wrong path. Don't listen to her soft campaign words. Look at her voting record. That is where the truth lies.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Lay & Skilling Found Guilty

I must have been very good this year - really really good, because I keep getting these wonderful presents and it's not even Christmas! Maybe I'm dreaming. If so, DON'T wake me up. Let me list these wonderful gifts:

* Randy "Duke" Cunningham is convicted of accepting bribes and sentenced to a prison term.

* Jake Abramoff and several underlings are convicted of illegal lobbying efforts.

* Tom DeLay is indicted and several of his aides convicted for misusing campaign funds. DeLay also has to resign his leadership position, and finally his house seat.

* "Scooter" Libby is arrested for lying to a grand jury [and now it looks like Cheney may have to testify at the trial].

* Congressman Bob Ney is being investigated by federal prosecutors and the House Ethics Committee, and it looks like charges may be forthcoming.

* Sen. Frist is accused of "insider trading" of stocks. Still unknown if charges will come.

As if these gifts weren't wonderful enough, today there were more. It was just announced today in Houston that Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling [leaders of Enron Corp.] have been found guilty on all their charges. The jury deliberated 6 days before finally finding both men guilty. They could now get 20-30 years in prison, and they certainly deserve it. Kudos to the Houston jury.

It looks like the wheels are coming off of the republican wagon. I can hardly wait to see which greedy republican will be next. Personally, I'm hoping it's Karl Rove.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Senator Bentsen

Senator Lloyd Bentsen is dead at the age of 85. I know he was a congressman, Treasury Secretary, Vice-Presidential candidate, etc., but I will always remember him as Senator Bentsen. The title just always seemed to fit him. Bentsen was not like many modern politicians who condemn anyone who doesn't agree with them. The Senator was intelligent, soft-spoken, and dignified [qualities more politicians could use].

I did not always agree with Senator Bentsen, but I always respected him. He was an honest man who did his best for the people of Texas. He will be missed.

Sometimes We Talk Sports

This blog mostly discusses politics, both local and national. But I have to admit to being sort of a sports nut. So don't be surprised if I can't help myself every now and then and blog a little about sports [especially my beloved Cowboys]. I say all this in order to issue the following alert - World Cup Soccer is almost here.

I am not a rabid soccer fan, but there's something special about the World Cup. I just love it! The first game will be played on June 9th. The United States team is scheduled to play on June 12th, June 17th, and June 22nd. These games will determine whether the US can advance to the second round, and that is by no means a sure thing.

The US has a very good team - maybe the best team we have ever had. But we are also in a very tough group. Both Italy and the Czech Republic are in our group. Both are great soccer teams, but one of them will have to go down if the US is to advance. Whatever happens, it should be a lot of fun.


NOTE - June 9th is also the date the State Democratic Convention opens in Fort Worth. Looks like it'll be a busy weekend for those of us who love both politics and sports.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Mavs / Spurs - A Great Series !

Well, it's over now, and the Mavericks have won 119-111, but what a great series it was. It was only fitting that it couldn't even be decided in regulation, needing an overtime period to decide the winner. These are two great teams who both played hard and with a lot of heart. As Popovitch said before the game, if they played 20 games it would probably finish 10-10. In fact, these may be the two best teams in the NBA - it's too bad they had to meet this early in the playoffs.

The Spurs have been there before, but this is a really big deal for the Mavs. It was like the Spurs were the 500 lb monkey on the Mavs back. They could not claim to be a great team until they had taken the Spurs 4 out of 7. Now they have done it. And now they must win two more series.

It would be easy for the Mavs to let up after such a hard-fought series, but I don't think Avery Johnson will let that happen. He's really done a great job so far. Can a coach really win the NBA championship in his first full year as coach? It's going to be fun to find out.

It's sad San Antonio is out for this year already, but they played great and they're a class organization. There's no doubt they'll be back among the best next year. I look forward to the future Mavs/Spurs battles.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Baghdad ER

Last week there was a minor controversy when some top military leaders came out against the showing of HBO's new documentary Baghdad ER. They claimed it could hurt some American soldiers by causing a flare-up of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Since this didn't seem very likely, I dismissed the story as silly and didn't think anymore about it. I saw the show tonight and I now understand why they didn't want the show to air.

It's not the soldiers these people are worried about seeing this show. Our brave soldiers have seen the worst things imaginable and endured incredible hardships. No TV show can match the horrors they've experienced. But there is another group that could be swayed by a well-made documentary like this one - VOTERS!

Many in leadership positions, both military and government, still remember when TV began to show nightly pictures of the pain, suffering and hopeless of our position in Vietnam. It did not take long before opposition to the war began to grow rapidly. Georgie and his henchmen understand this, and it scares the hell out of them.

Since the beginning of the war, they have tried to keep this kind of information from the public. That is why they ban reporters and pictures when the coffins of dead soldiers are returned to the U.S.. They are trying to keep as many of the "bad pictures" from the public as they can. Fox News trys to help Georgie by parroting his lies, but even that won't help Georgie if the truth comes out elsewhere.

What tiny bit of credibility Georgie has left is tied up in the Iraq War. HBO's documentary comes at a bad time for him. With the public already turning against the war, Georgie cannot afford for the people to be told a little truth. But HBO has done it anyway.

The show is both powerful and graphic. I recommend you see it. It won't hurt any soldiers, but it might change some minds about Iraq. I hope so.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Apology To Commenters

I apologize to anyone who has tried to comment on this blog in the last day or so and has been unable to do it. We've been having trouble with a spammer. I'm afraid I blew my top and in my haste to delete and block the spammer, I accidently deactivated the comment section. I guess that shows you what a computer idiot I truly am. Anyway, I believe the problem is fixed now. If anyone does have a problem posting a comment, please e-mail me at jobsanger@hotmail.com. Once again, I am sorry this happened.

Thanks to Matt for pointing out my blunder! I appreciate it.

Community Responds To Agg-Town Fights

Last week, I discussed the videos being sold showing teens fighting and entitled Agg-Townz Fights 1 and Agg-Townz Fights 2. The videos were being made and sold by a teen gang in Arlington [the street slang name for Arlington is Agg-Town]. Police learned of the criminal scheme when the filmmakers orchestrated a vicious attack on a 16 year-old, sending him to the hospital. At that time, 5 people were arrested - 4 adults and a 14 year-old.

There has now been a sixth arrest. Last sunday, Arlington police arrested a 16 year-old and took him to the Tarrant County Juvenile Detention Center. He was the last person being sought in connection with the assault that hospitalized a youth.

The Arlington Police Department has also declared a zero tolerance policy toward youth fights in an effort to get a handle on this situation. A few days ago, police arrested a 15 year-old and a 16 year-old for fighting at Seguin High School. They also arrested nine teens for being spectators.

Mayor Robert Cluck has announced that Arlington would expand youth programs and activities. He has asked Arlington Parks & Recreation officials to get together and come up with ideas on how this can be done. He also said he would be getting together with civic and church leaders to get their ideas.

Last week at Bowie High School, several hundred parents met with city and police officials to be briefed on the situation. They were warned about how teens are using [or misusing] modern technology. They were also told to be aware of where their kids are, what they are doing, and who they are with. The Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington also held a well-attended community meeting on this subject.

This is an extremely serious situation, and I am glad to see the community of Arlington responding in a serious and appropriate manner. I wish them much success in their efforts. The true measure of a community is in how it reacts to the bad things that happen. There is a long way to go, but Arlington has made a good start on solving this problem.

11 Quick Thoughts On Immigration

I submit the following thoughts on immigration for your perusal:

1. There are no indigenous groups of people in the United States. All of our ancestors originally came from somewhere else. It is true that "native americans" got here a few thousand years before the rest of us, but they also came from somewhere else. In fact, scientists tell us that the only place on earth truly indigenous to humans is Africa. Every person in the world can trace his/her ancestry back to Africa where humanity started.

2. Many who complain today about illegal immigration had ancestors who entered this country illegally. I know it is a popular myth that everyone in the past entered legally through Ellis Island. This is simply not true. In fact, it was much easier in the past to enter illegally than it is today.

3. The current immigration debate is bigoted in nature. It has to be. Otherwise, we would not just be concentrating on our southern border where those "brown-skinned" people are coming in. We have a much longer border with Canada, but few resources are allocated to protect our northern border. Could it be because most Canadians are "white"?

4. When politicians say they want to secure our southern border so the "terrorists" can't enter, they are not being truthful. They are simply playing the terrorist card to further their own bigotry. Crossing our southern border is far too difficult and dangerous for terrorist entry. Only those poor and destitute people who have no choice will attempt this rigorous journey. Most terrorists who enter this country do so through our many international airports. All they need is a decent set of papers [and they have the money and knowledge to do this]. Even without papers, it is much easier and less dangerous to simply walk across the Canadian border.

5. A fence sounds good to many in this country, but it just will not work. As long as the opportunity to work exists, people will cross our southern border. Fences traditionally do not work. The Great Wall of China did not keep their enemies out. The Berlin Wall did not keep the Germans in. A fence between Mexico and the U.S. is a waste of money and effort.

6. Putting the National Guard on our southern border is just silly. Their ranks have been decimated by the Iraq War and new enlistments are at an all-time low. They have also not been properly trained for the duties they will be expected to perform on the border. A few years ago, army units were sent to help patrol the border. They were withdrawn after a soldier shot and killed an unarmed person. We seem to have short memories in this country.

7. The "minutemen" are an embarrassment to us all. They patrol with their guns and confederate flags, unashamed of their bigotry. Surely these aren't the people we want representing us at the border. They should be sent home.

8. The debate over the National Anthem being sung in spanish is a false one. Georgie said it should be sung in English, but he didn't mind singing along to the anthem in spanish while he was on the campaign trail. No one else seemed to mind it at that time either.

9. Georgie's "guest worker" proposal sounds an awful lot like indentured servitude to me. These workers will be brought in to work for less-than-decent wages and will have none of the protections American workers have. If they complain about employer abuse, they will be deported. Slavery was outlawed in this country, but it looks like Georgie wants to reinstitute it.

10. There is a simple and effective way to cut off illegal immigration in this country. Cut off the jobs. Send a few employers to prison and fine them heavily, and make sure the rest know it will also happen to them if they hire illegal workers. When there are no jobs for illegals, they will stop coming. As long as there are jobs, nothing can keep them out.

11. Hilary Clinton voted in favor of building the fence on our southern border. Does she have any credibility left as a liberal?

Friday, May 19, 2006

Doping in DFW

A couple of stories concerning drugs have dominated the headlines in the metroplex this week:

1.) Eighteen employees of Lake Highlands High School in Dallas County were taken to the hospital this week after eating muffins tainted with marijuana. An unidentified man who looked to be in his twenties was videotaped leaving the muffins in the teachers lounge. Most were treated and released, but one was kept in the hospital overnight for observation.

Now, I've always been for the legalization of marijuana, but what this guy did was inexcusable on every level. I believe that anyone who laces anyone's food or drink with drugs (no matter how strong or mild the drug is) should be aggressively prosecuted. Even if this guy had put an amount too small to notice in the muffins, he would have put these 18 people in the position of not being able to pass a drug test, which could get them fired. I hope the police find him soon, because he has proven that he is a danger to the general public.

2.) There is a new drug becoming popular among area high school students called "cheese". It consists of heroin mixed with over-the-counter pain medication. The name "cheese" comes from it's yellowish color.

Already popular in Dallas County, it is now migrating to Tarrant County as well. Dallas school district police have made over 50 arrests for possession of the drug. It is suspected to be the cause of death of an 18-year-old in Grand Prairie.

Heroin is a nasty little drug that has gone in and out of popularity for decades. It's a shame that those who should be getting an education are instead letting their schools become a drug haven. It's time that we (parents, police, schools, and the community as a whole) step in and put an end to this trend before it gets completely out of control.

Dems Give Up On HD 92

I admit that I have been remiss in discussing local races for the upcoming November elections. Today, I decided I was going to fix that. Since I live in House District 92, I figured I would start there. The current State Rep. for District 92 is republican Todd Smith from my home city of Euless. But who is the democrat running for this office?

To find out who the democratic candidate was for House District 92, I went to the Texas Democratic Party website. To my surprise, they did not list a candidate for District 92! I thought surely this was a mistake. I then went to the Tarrant County Democratic Party website. It was not a mistake. The democrats do not have a candidate in House District 92.

I have been told by my democratic friends that they are ready to take back Texas from the right-wing nuts who run the Republican Party. But how can this be? How can a party be serious about winning back the state if they can't even find candidates for all the open races?

I admit that District 92 is a heavily republican district. It used to be democratic, but many northern republicans have moved into northeast Tarrant County in the last few years. Recently, it has been voting about 65% republican. Is this a good reason for the democrats to ignore this district?

Our state legislature is not real popular right now. After a multitude of special sessions, they have passed a new school finance bill, but it is seriously flawed and probably will have to be revisited in the next regular session. The bill will fall short of fully funding schools by around $5 billion. With each failure, the people of Texas get angrier. This anger may help democrats in many districts.

But here in District 92, we have no choice. No matter how disappointed and angry we are with the republicans, we must accept that we will be represented by a right-wing republican, because the democrats have given up on us.

This is one of the main problems with the Democratic Party. They don't want to put time, money, and effort into a race they stand a good chance of losing. Maybe they could learn from the Texas Republican Party. For many years, they were the minority party in Texas, but they kept fielding candidates. They knew they could not win a race if they didn't have a candidate in the race. In the long-run, this attitude has paid-off for them. How long will it take the democrats to learn this lesson?

Howard Dean has urged democrats to field and fund candidates for all open races. Too bad the democrats in Texas aren't listening. They may be blowing a golden opportunity.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Georgie Lies Again

Well, Georgie signed his tax cut extensions into law yesterday. Bush said his new tax cuts meant more revenue for the U.S. Treasury. THIS IS A BIG FAT LIE!!! Tax revenues did grow in 2005, but so did the population of workers. In other words, it would have grown even with no tax cuts. But it did not grow enough to offset the losses from Georgie's tax cuts. It is expected that these cuts will cost the Treasury about $70 billion over the next five years.

N. Gregory Mankiw, head of Georgie's Council of Economic Advisers from 2003 to 2005, said up to 50% of the tax cuts would return to the Treasury as new revenues. But this still means the Treasury has a net revenue loss. The head of the Council of Economic Advisers from 2001 to 2002, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, agreed that the tax cuts would result in a net revenue loss. Even Georgie's own advisors believe he is fudging the truth!

I don't know why this comes as a surprise to anyone. Georgie has always tried to help his rich friends at the expense of ordinary Americans. Guess who gets to make up the deficit, middle-class? That's right. You do. Aren't you glad now that you voted for this moron?



NOTE - The Gonzo Muckraker is reporting that Georgie's support has dropped below 50% in the state of Texas. This is incredible. As you know, Texas is the reddest of red states. The wheels are really coming off of Georgie's wagon.

Gas Additive Con Stopped

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has shut down an Irving-based business selling pills to drop in your gas tank. According to the business, BioPerformance, the pills would result in a car using at least 30% less gasoline. Abbott told newsmen on wednesday, "The claims are bogus. The pill does nothing to improve gas mileage."

BioPerformance is operated by Lowell Mims and Gustavo Romero. Mims is a minister. His web site says he's been an evangelist for the last 17 years and has spoken in at least 1000 churches. According to the BioPerformance web site, Romero is an expert in "import/export management".

Abbott sent the gas-additive pills to a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Texas, Ronald Matthews. Matthews said, "The findings were pretty straightforward. The main chemical was naphthalene, and it does nothing for fuel economy."

The BioPerformance web site also claimed the product was nontoxic. This is not true. The Enviornmental Protection Agency says short-term exposure to naphthalene can cause anemia, liver damage and neurological damage. Long-term exposure can cause cataracts and retina damage.

BioPerformance was set up like a pyramid scheme, according to the Attorney General. Around 4,500 people have been recruited to sell the product in Texas [20,000 nationwide]. These people were encouraged to buy the pills in bulk and to recruit new sales reps. A bottle of 40 pills was selling for $30-$50 dollars.

Abbott said the two men would face fines of $20,000 for each violation if they are found guilty of violating state law. A state District Judge has ordered that the company shut down all business activities.

It looks like P.T. Barnum was right when he said there was a sucker born every minute. There is no magic bullet to increase a car's gas mileage. The only ways to maximize a car's fuel economy is to keep it properly tuned, service it at recommended intervals, and keep the tires properly inflated. If anyone tells you otherwise, grab your wallet and hold on tight.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Mexico Unstable

As many as half of Mexican citizens believe their country is on the edge of disintegrating into chaos and violence. The Associated Press is reporting that a national poll conducted by Parametria for the upcoming presidential elections shows that 50% of the people think Mexico is about to come apart at the seams. The poll had a 3% margin of error.

If 50% of the people believe something, it is likely to be true. But what is causing it? Probably a myriad of reasons. The Zapatista rebellion in the south is still going strong. They had an armed rebellion in 1994, which was brutally put down by the central government, but they have not gone away. They are still demonstrating daily for rights and help for the native mexican peoples in poor southern states such as Chiapas. There is a continuing, although low, level of violence between citizens and the police. This part of Mexico could blow up at any time into a full-scale armed insurrection.

In the north [Nuevo Laredo, Juarez, etc.], the battle is between drug dealers and the government, and it has been very bloody. Not only are rival gangs killing each other in large numbers, but scores of police have been murdered. Although this has been going on for a while, the Mexican government seems incapable of getting a handle on the situation.

The third reason for mexican instability is the extreme poverty in much of Mexico. This is the reason we have millions of mexican citizens working in this country. The money these "illegal aliens" send back to Mexico is all many of their families have to stave off starvation. If we really could get rid of these workers, it could be economically devastating for Mexico.

Why should americans care? Mexico is on our southern border. If Mexico erupts into violence, it could easily spill over into border states such as Texas. It would also drive many more millions north for both safety and economic reasons. Our federal government needs to stop worrying about a fence [that wouldn't work anyway] and start worrying about what is happening inside Mexico, before Mexico's problems become our own.

Rebellion, corruption, poverty, and drug murders are serious problems, and I admit that I don't know what to do about them. But if we don't help Mexico deal with these problems, they will soon be ours. This is a much more dangerous situation for our country than Iraq ever was. This isn't imaginary weapons of mass destruction. These problems are real and they are on our border.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Bad Idea

If someone gets caught committing a crime on U.S. soil, then that person (if they aren't rich) gets to serve time in our prisons.

We have a major problem, all over the country, with overcrowding in our prisons.

So why would anyone even consider making illegal immigration a felony? We know that we have millions of illegal immigrants in this country right now. We know there are probably millions more to come. Why risk turning them all into felons? Where are we supposed to put all of these new prisoners?

We get billions of dollars in tax money from illegal immigrants. If they are imprisoned, not only will we lose that money, we will be forced to spend more tax money (which we would now get from fewer people) to feed, house, and medicate them in the system.

There are some people in favor of making it a lesser crime. Even this I have a problem with. Whether it be a felony or a misdemeanor, they are still in the system, and that's not cheap. I think deportation is punishment enough. These people left their home countries in search of a better life. Sending them back isn't exactly letting them off the hook.

If we really want to crack down on illegal immigration, we need to start with those who employ them. If they know they can't get a job here, what would be the point in coming? Of course, I don't think that's what this is about. I believe it boils down to racism, mixed with a right-wing, election year scare campaign.

And this woman isn't in the least bit scared.

Monday, May 15, 2006

A Chance In CD#24 ?

I have avoided blogging about my home congressional district [the 24th district of Texas] because it was one of those "safe" congressional districts carved out by DeLay and his republican henchmen. In the 2004 election, the republican candidate, Kenny Marchant, got 64% of the total vote. Until recently, it was widely believed that he would repeat that performance in the coming election. But with the nationwide polls showing the public disgusted with republican politics, it is time to take another look at cd#24.

Marchant, a Carrollton resident, is in his first term as a congressman. He ran on a platform of "I support Bush", and he has made good on that promise. He has been a good little lapdog for Georgie, voting with him 97% of the time. He has also given at least $5000.00 to DeLay's legal defense fund. The ultra-right organization, Family Research Council, supports Marchant. This should give you an idea of just who Marchant is - a right-wing, fundamentalist "bushista"!

Marchant is opposed by democrat, Gary Page, a local computer programmer. Imagine that, a real working man running for office! Page also ran in 2004 and got 34% of the vote. This 34% was gotten with NO HELP from the state or national democratic party. With the unpopularity of republicans in general, who knows what Page could do with a little help from the party. This is where Dean's "50-state strategy" could come into play. It is time to fight for every seat, not just the ones that look winnable.

It's still a longshot for anyone but a republican to win this district. However, no republican can be beaten unless you TRY TO BEAT HIM. None of them are going to roll over and give up.

It was fun while it lasted

Well, it looks as if my political discussions that I enjoyed with my best friend, Red, have temporarily come to an end. At least, until Bedford pisses her off again. Jim Story, her choice for mayor, won the election this weekend.

Red is an exceptionally smart woman, but politics isn't exactly her favorite subject. Last year, during the tax rollback election in Bedford, that changed. She was against the rollback, "We have the lowest property taxes in the area," she said, "Raising them to match taxes of surrounding cities is not unreasonable." She did, however, understand the opposing view. She felt that they could have raised the taxes in smaller increments over several years, if only to allow people to ease it into their budget.

After the rollback, her attitude changed a bit. Bedford closed the library and the Bedford Boy's Ranch, turning her into one mad bitch, "What in the hell are they thinking?! Every damn one of them needs to be removed from office immediately. Being mad over the rollback is acceptable, but punishing the citizens is not. Taxes will be raised sooner or later, we all know that. But it is very unlikely that I will support any candidate that that will close down public facilities because they can't control their budget."

I thoroughly enjoyed this reaction from her. Being very interested in politics myself, I had been waiting for the day she would take an interest herself. Seeing her take an active roll in the Bedford elections made me one happy camper.

Of course, she is also a happy camper right now, because the election is over. Now that Story has won, she hopes Bedford can put the bad feelings from last year's rollback cat fight behind them. For her sake, as well as Bedford's, I hope that is the case. For my own, though...well...I've enjoyed her year long rant so much that I regret to see it end.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Bond Election Results

The Tarrant County bond election is over and the results are in. It looks like all 5 bond proposals have passed easily. With 100% of precincts counted, the results are as follows:

#1 [Road repair] - For 40,466 [81%] & Against 9,398 [19%]

#2 [New jail] - For 32,484 [66%] & Against 16,702 [34%]

#3 [Courts building] - For 29,832 [61%] & Against 19,132 [39%]

#4 [Juvenile center] - For 33,720 [69%] & Against 15,394 [31%]

#5 [Crime lab] - For 36,811 [75%] & Against 12,484 [25%]

Thank you to everyone who voted. Maybe Tarrant County can now keep up with its rapid population growth. The people have authorized the bonds. Now the commissioners must do their part and see the money is spent wisely.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Lawmakers Intimidate UT-Arlington

We have a sordid little political drama going on in Arlington. It all started as an attempt to honor a local university's diversity. The University of Texas at Arlington is proud of its diversity, and the engineering school celebrated this by flying 123 flags in Nedderman Hall. These flags represent the 123 countries from which UTA engineering students come. The 123rd flag was put up in April, and that is where the trouble begins.

The 123rd flag is the official flag of Vietnam, a red and blue flag with a yellow star in the middle. Arlington has the 15th largest community of Vietnamese in the United States, and evidently some of these people were offended when this flag was put up. Their community leaders asked UTA to take down the flag. UTA refused, but did put up the old South Vietnamese flag [yellow flag with three horizontal red stripes] in an attempt to be sensitive to the Vietnamese-American community.

This was not good enough and a demonstration was held that drew about 3,000 people. They demanded the official flag be removed because it was the flag of North Vietnam during their civil war. When the demonstration did not result in removal of the "offensive" flag, the demonstrators took their demands to Austin. They found some lawmakers there willing to do their dirty-work.

Toby Goodman [R-Arlington] and Hubert Vo [D-Houston] then began to put pressure on the school. They either told or insinuated to UTA that state funds might be withheld from the school [the school is trying to get state funds to build a new engineering building]. Goodman was quoted by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram as saying, "It was anticipated that an amendment would be offered that would strip funding for UTA as long as that flag flew."

When threatened with the cut-off of state funds [critical for a state university], UTA capitulated. They have now removed all 123 flags from Nedderman Hall. Even this has not quelled the demonstrators. They are now demanding an apology from UTA. Ridiculous!

Let me be clear about this. There is no right in this country to not be offended. In fact, if you are never offended, then you don't live in a free country. UTA was right in this matter. The demonstrators and the lawmakers were wrong. In Texas, it seems the "politics of intimidation" are alive and well in both political parties. What are Texas voters to do?

Friday, May 12, 2006

Agg-Town Fights [Update]

Yesterday, I posted about the four teenagers arrested for staging fights among their teen peers and then selling videos of the fights on the internet [see post below]. Today, we learn that police have arrested a fifth suspect and are looking for a sixth. All have been charged with organized criminal activity and aggravated assault, and had bonds set of $25,000.

The producer of the video, Michael Jackson [18], said the fights were not staged. The approximately 50 fights on each of the two videos just happened to be videotaped and he just happened to receive the videos. Arlington police disagreed.

According to the police, the fights are the staged product of a teenage gang. The Arlington gang has about a dozen members, and they are known for fighting at parties. The gang is known as PAC [Playas After Cash]. Police believe the gang was organized solely to promote fights and make money. Others arrested are Duente Lamar Gaines [17], John Barree [18], Folarin Olabimitan Olawoye [19], and an unnamed 14 year-old [who is in custody of juvenile officials].

Perhaps the saddest part of this story is that many teenagers around the area knew about the fights and the videos, but did not consider it important enough to tell anyone. One youngster told a reporter, "It's not even that big of a deal. They're just fights." It evidently escapes these teens that people can be injured, maimed, or even killed in a fight. To them, this is just entertainment.

Where are the parents in all this? Did they neglect to teach these children the difference between right and wrong? More likely, they are victims of a common parental disease going around. This disease makes parents excuse and defend their child even when the child is clearly in the wrong. "He doesn't understand." "It was his friends who got him in trouble." "Teachers [police, counselors, etc.] just don't like him and pick on him." I've heard all of these excuses and thousands more. They don't impress me.

In a free country, each citizen must accept responsibility for his own actions, even teenagers. Everything you do or say is the product of a choice you have made. Isn't it time we get back to teaching our children to make their own choices and then accept responsibility for those choices? Failure to do this is bad parenting and may even be abuse.

Kinky Does It

Yesterday, five hours before the deadline for submitting petitions, a small camper emblazoned with large black hats and cigars pulled up to the Thomas Jefferson Rusk State Office Building. It was bringing 169,574 signatures to get Kinky Friedman on the Texas ballot as a candidate for governor.

According to the secretary of state's office, it will take about 6 weeks to verify that enough valid signatures were submitted. This should not be a problem. Only 45,540 signatures are needed to get Kinky on the ballot. To keep Kinky off the ballot, 3 out of every 4 signatures would have to be disqualified. No one expects that to happen.

The campaign said they had gotten signatures from every one of Texas' 254 counties [some had said Kinky only had support in the Austin area]. The campaign also said 90% of the signatures were collected by unpaid volunteers.

Now the fun begins. Thanks to the two independent candidates [Comptroller Carole Strayhorn, a republican, is also running as an independent], Texas now has a wide-open race for governor. It's time to send both republicans and democrats a message that the people aren't happy with their incompetence and failed leadership. The best way to do that is to send the Kinkster to the governor's mansion. As Kinky says, "Why the hell not?"

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Agg-Town DVDs

Yesterday, the police in Arlington [Texas] arrested four teenagers. It seems that these young men were staging bare-knuckle street fights involving other teens [some as young as 14], and then selling DVD's of the fights for $15.00 each. There were both boy and girl fights, and the fights were taped in many different locations [parks, city streets, parking lots, schools, etc.].

There are two of the videos on sale, and a third was being prepared. The videos are about three hours long and have a "hip-hop" soundtrack. The DVD's were being sold thru internet websites.

The four arrested were charged with organized criminal activity and aggravated assault. This is a felony charge and could result in a sentence of 5-99 years in prison. Bail has been set in at least two of the cases at $25,000.

The Arlington police began their investigation in March of this year, when a teenager was critically wounded in one of the fights, and had to be hospitalized.

A spokesman for the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation said they will be investigating also. In Texas, you must have a license to stage a fight for an audience. This could result in state criminal charges and an administrative fine of $5,000.

I guess these young criminals thought they had found a way to make some easy money. They don't seem to realize [or maybe they don't care] that people could be seriously injured or even killed during these fights. It shows a lack of morality and common decency for these young men to make their money from the pain and suffering of others.

I hope the Tarrant County District Attorney takes this as seriously as the Arlington police have. These young criminals need to be prosecuted vigorously and sent to serve some jail time. This kind of criminal activity needs to be nipped in the bud. If it is allowed to continue, it will just get worse, and may soon expand to involve the general public.


NOTE - Agg-Town is the hip-hop slang for Arlington. Others in this area are D-Town [Dallas] and FunkyTown [Fort Worth].

Death Toll Rises

Yesterday, in Iraq, three U.S. soldiers died as a result of a roadside bomb. This brings the number of U.S. soldiers who have died there to 2,429. The carnage continues with no end in sight.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Los Rangers

Racist wingnut and concentration camp enthusiast, Michelle Malkin has now attacked our beloved Texas Rangers [can a team be beloved if it rips your heart out each year?]. It seems that our Rangers wore a new uniform to honor our hispanic brothers and sisters on Cinco de Mayo. The only change was that the front of the uniform said "Los Rangers" instead of just "Rangers".

This cretin doesn't understand our culture here in Texas [and yes, I said OUR culture]. Cinco de Mayo may not be an official American holiday, but it has been celebrated around Texas for as long as I can remember. Most Texans just consider it a fun event. We had a Cinco de Mayo celebration dinner at my workplace this year, and most of the employees are not hispanic.

Cinco de Mayo, mexican food, mariachi music, tequila, mexican building styles, etc., are all valued parts of our Texas culture. It would not be nearly as good a place without them. It is just a natural extension of this for the Rangers to change their uniform for a day. I personally thought the uniforms were great.

Texans can not live on white bread and mayo alone. Extra spicy burritos are a must!

Election Reminder

Please remember that Tarrant County [Texas] has a very important bond election coming up this saturday, May 13th. There are 5 different bond proposals, and all are needed. If approved, these bonds would finance a new county jail, a new civil courts building, a new county crime lab, expansion of juvenile detention space, and the repair and upgrading of over 60 roads and streets in the county. Tarrant County is growing very fast and these improvements are needed now, not later.

Perhaps the best part is that the Tarrant County Commissioners have assured us that the passing of all these bond proposals would result in no new taxes. Please go to the polls saturday and show your support by voting for all five propositions.

NOTE - Remember that usually so few people vote in bond elections, that your vote will carry 10-20 times the weight it normally does!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Kinky

Just wanted to remind you of two great reasons to support Kinky for Governor:

1. He is not a republican.

2. He is not a democrat.

Georgie Blows It Again

I don't know how he does it, but Georgie always seems to find the absolute worst candidate for any job. Can anyone forget Brown, the ex-FEMA head, who had absolutely no qualifications for the job? Or how about Bolden? Appointing a bonafide U.N.-hater to the U.N. was a masterstroke of stupidity!

Well, he's done it again. Georgie has now nominated Air Force General Hayden to be the new head of the CIA. Don't get me wrong, Goss needed to be replaced as CIA head. I just don't see Hayden as an improvement.

Several congressmen have objected saying it is not proper to have a military man as the head of a civilian organization. After seeing Georgie's facist tendencies, it is rather frightening to see the military being put in charge of the CIA. But there is an even more compelling reason to oppose this nomination.

General Hayden is the nutcase who convinced Georgie that he doesn't need to follow the Constitution. Hayden is the one who doesn't think a warrant is needed to wiretap the phone of an American. If we put this man in charge, he will continue to violate the Constitution with these warrantless taps.

All right, democrats! Have you found your spine lately? THIS ONE IS WORTH THE FIGHT. Please keep this criminal away from our CIA.

Healthcare Below Par

The U.S.-based organization, Save The Children, has released the results of their most recent survey, and it really does not look good for the United States. In a comparison of newborn survival rates among the 33 industrialized nations, the U.S. finished next to last.

Latvia had the poorest infant survival rate, with a rate of 6 deaths per 1000 births. The United States [along with Hungary, Malta, Poland, & Slovakia] had a rate of 5 deaths per 1000 births. Japan had the best rate [1.8 out of 1000]. Several nations tied for second with a rate of 2 per 1000.

What has happened to the wonderful healthcare system we are supposed to have? It is because our system was created to be a business, with the dollar being the bottom line. In our for-profit system, those who cannot pay get poor or no medical attention. Even those in the middle class who have health insurance, can't get the care they want. They get the care the insurance is willing to pay for [and that's getting to be less each year].

There are around 41 million people without health insurance in this country. These people are the ones getting the shaft. Without proper healthcare for this many Americans, it is easy to see how our newborn death rate is much larger than it should be.

We need a single-payer system that covers ALL of our citizens. Our current system has not only failed to protect the youngest and most vulnerable, it is failing to protect many of our adults.

Monday, May 08, 2006

2421 Dead

I apologize to any readers we may have for not posting the last couple of days, but I have been sick [sore throat, cough, fever, etc.]. I guess I've caught some kind of flu bug. I'll get back to posting regular after I shake this thing off!

But some things are too important to ignore. MSNBC just announced that another American soldier has been killed in Iraq. This brings the total of American soldiers killed in Iraq to 2,421, and there is no end in sight. We long-ago lost any chance to do any good in Iraq because of the incompetence of Georgie's administration. Now soldiers are simply dying to keep Georgie from looking like a loser. Personally, I don't think Georgie's reputation is worth a single life [of any nationality]. It is time to withdraw from Iraq, regardless of how it looks for Georgie.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Kennedy Crash

Early thursday morning, Rep. Patrick Kennedy crashed his car into a concrete traffic barrier. Police said Kennedy had been observed speeding in a construction zone, driving without lights, swerving into the wrong lane, and hitting a curb before crashing into the barricade. Police said when Kennedy exited the vehicle, his eyes were red and watery, his speech was slurred, and he was having trouble with his balance.

Kennedy said he did not remember any of the incident, and that he had been disoriented by his prescription medication. Now at this point, an ordinary citizen would be in handcuffs and on his/her way to jail, but that did not happen in this case. They wrote him three tickets and gave him a ride home [even though Kennedy claims he did not ask for preferential treatment].

This is a major problem in this country. The law does not apply equally to all citizens. The richer and more powerful you are, the more likely you will receive preferential treatment. I believe government officials should be required to obey the same laws as everyone else, and when they break the law, they should be punished the same.

The police union said the officers who stopped Kennedy were told by their superiors to not give him a sobriety test. These superior officers should be demoted and retrained. They have failed in their duty.

Tarrant Bond Proposals

In case you Tarrant County voters didn't know it, we have a county-wide bond election on saturday, May 13th. Early voting has already started and will continue thru May 9th. There are five propositions on the ballot.

Proposition #1 - This proposal includes over 60 road and highway projects countywide. These are definitely needed if we are to avoid gridlock in the future. Tarrant County has one of the fastest growing populations in the state of Texas. More cars are on the road every day and many of these projects are already overdue. The proposal is to use $200 million in bonds issued by Tarrant County.

Proposition #2 - This prop will use $108 million in bonds to build a new 432 cell maximum security county jail to relieve overcrowding. It also would build 96 medical cells. This would decrease or eliminate the need to transport prisoners to the county hospital, resulting in a saving of transportation costs and improvement in security.

Proposition #3 - This prop will use $62.3 million in bonds to build a new civil courts building. It should save money by putting all civil courts and their supporting departments in the same building.

Proposition #4 - This prop would use $36.3 million in bonds to expand the juvenile detention center and construct safer juvenile courts. We have a very good detention center here in Tarrant County, but it definitely needs to be larger.

Proposition #5 - This prop will use $26.5 million in bonds to build a new crime lab. It will also enhance the DNA, Photo, Human ID, Intoxilyzer, Solid Chemistry, and Fingerprint labs. The tiny lab we now have will not be able to keep up as the county grows without this proposal.

I support all of these bond proposals. They make sense and they are desperately needed. Also, they would NOT mean a rise in taxes, even if all are approved. I urge the citizens of Cowtown and all the cowtownettes [suburbs] to vote yes to these propositions on May 13th.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Religious Conmen

The tiny Caribbean nation of Trinidad is scheduled to get a visit from tv evangelist, Benny Hinn, on May 19th. Sanatan Dharma Maha Saba, Trinidad's largest Hindu organization, has asked the government to bar Mr. Hinn from entering their country. Secretary-General of the organization, Sat Maharaj said, "We need to alert the population that he is a fake healer. He will cause division in the religious community and should not be given a visa to come and preach here." The organization has claimed in full-page local newspaper ads that the scheduled revival is illegal. It is against the law in Trinidad to make money by "faith healing". Trinidad has about 1.3 million people, 25% of which are Hindu.

I am mildly shocked. I honestly didn't know there were any countries that tried to protect their citizens from the many religious conmen. In the U.S., being a "faith healer" is a license to steal. You can cheat, lie, and steal millions of dollars, and as long as you call yourself a christian, the government won't do a thing. In fact, you won't even have to pay taxes on the ill-gotten loot.

I try to support religious freedom, but I am convinced that people such as Benny Hinn, Oral Roberts, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Robert Tilton, Peter Popoff, etc., are nothing but conmen trying to suck every last dollar from the American people. Surely this is not the best leadership christians can provide.

A Competent Republican

If you've read this blog much at all, you will have picked up on the fact that I have little or no love for republicans. Often, I have taken them to task for their ridiculous ideas and actions. I am a proud member of the American left-wing. However, I consider myself to be an honest person, and therefore must admit it when I find a competent republican doing a good job.

I have found that competent republican official. He is Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson. Before Sheriff Anderson took office, the Tarrant County Jail was a mess. The prior two sheriffs were not only republicans, but right-wing fundamentalists. Both seemed to think religion was more important than professional law enforcement standards. The jail commissary was a mess and the jail food was awful. The morale of officers also seemed to be very low. Neither of the prior sheriffs could get along with the Tarrant County Commissioners Court [which controls funding for the department].

Since Sheriff Anderson was elected, much has improved. The commissary situation was straightened out and jail food has improved considerably. Officer morale has also improved significantly. Because of my job, I'm in and out of the jail several times a week. It is obvious to me that the department and the jail are now being run in a competent and professional manner.

Sheriff Anderson has also established a very good working relationship with the Tarrant County Commissioners. The only disagreement they had was where to put a new jail. To his credit, Sheriff Anderson avoided playing politics and simply explained how putting the jail downtown meant better security and protection for his officers and for the public. Once the security situation was explained to them, the commissioners agreed.

Republican though he is, Sheriff Dee Anderson has done a competent and professional job. Thank you, Sheriff Anderson.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

More Cowboy Hopefuls

After completing what was hopefully a good draft, the Cowboys have added some free agents to the mix. The Cowboys will be holding a minicamp for the rookies this friday thru sunday. The following players have been signed or invited to the rookie minicamp:

Demetris Summers, running back, University of South Carolina [6' 1" - 205 lbs]

Sam Hurd, wide receiver, Northern Illinois University [6' 4" - 194 lbs]

Quincy Butler, defensive back, Texas Christian University [6' 1" - 190 lbs]

Darrell Brooks, safety, University of Arizona [6' 1" - 210 lbs]

Jeff Mroz, quarterback, Yale University [6' 5" - 230 lbs]

Miles Austin, wide receiver, Monmouth University [6' 2" - 215 lbs]

Kai Parham, linebacker, University of Virginia [6' 3" - 253 lbs]

Anwar Phillips, defensive back, Penn State University [6' 1" - 182 lbs]

Steve Williams, defensive tackle, Northwest Missouri State University [6' 3" - 300 lbs]

The odds of these players actually making the Cowboy roster is not great, but it can happen. Last year at least one free agent made the team [Tyson Thompson, running back]. I can hardly wait until training camp to see what happens.

Steven Colbert

The establishment in Washington is now mad at Steven Colbert. Colbert was invited to speak at the annual dinner for White House correspondents. It seems that they think he was too hard on Georgie, who was also at the dinner.

This is all just too ridiculous. They act like Colbert ambushed Georgie. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I am a fan of the Colbert Report [the "t" is silent in both words] and I was watching the broadcast on C-Span [shows what a pathetic life I lead]. Colbert simply performed his schtick, just like he does on his show. In fact, many of the jokes he told had already been used on the Colbert Report. He was just performing his routine as he had been hired to do.

The organizers of this event knew the kind of schtick Colbert did before they ever hired him to speak. If they did not want Colbert's brand of humor, then why did they hire him? Colbert did nothing wrong. In fact, I thought he was great. If the organizers are unhappy, they have only themselves to blame.

Also, when did it become a rule that Georgie cannot be told the truth or ridiculed in person? Georgie is an adult. If he can't handle criticism, he should resign and go clear brush on his "ranch".

Mavericks & Stars

Being a resident of one of Cowtown's suburbs, I am a fan of the Dallas Mavericks and the Dallas Stars. Both teams did very well in the regular season this year. The Stars finished second in the Western Division behind the Detroit Red Wings. The Mavericks also finished second in the Western Division. They were second only to the San Antonio Spurs. At the end of the regular season, the future looked very bright for both teams in the playoffs.

The Mavericks are making good on that promise. Last night, they eliminated the Memphis Grizzlies. For the first time in their history, the Mavericks swept a seven game series in the playoffs by winning four straight games. They will get nearly a week off now while they wait to see whether they will play the San Antonio Spurs or the Sacramento Kings. Currently, the Kings and Spurs are tied at 2 games apiece. The Mavericks were the only NBA team to sweep their first round games this year.

The Stars have not done as well. As the second-rated team, they played the seventh-rated team, the Colorado Avalance. Colorado easily ejected the Stars from the playoffs in only five games, making the series look like a mismatch. I don't know how the Stars could be so good in the regular season and then look so bad in the playoffs. However, they now have company. Last night, the number one-rated Detroit Red Wings were eliminated by the eighth-rated Edmonton Oilers. Looks like it's going to be a strange year for playoff hockey!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Corporations and the mob

Anyone catch The Sopranos last night? I'm not big on discussing TV shows, but last night's episode was interesting in that it showed the hold that big corporations have over America in a different light.

The episode started with one of Tony's capos collecting "protection" fees from local businesses. For those of you who don't know, "protection" fees are money you give to those who would otherwise kick your ass. Basically, it's the adult version of a bully stealing your milk money.

Well, the collection of the fees was going well until they stepped in on a newly opened business. The capo and his cohort explained to the manager that he would need to pay them for protection or else. The manager responded by telling them that if he did pay them with corporate money, they would be having the same conversation with his replacement very soon. Tony's men finally gave up and walked out penniless.

At the end of the episode, they were met with the news that one of the business owners that had been paying them had his building sold out from under him (by Tony) to a corporation. The capo was left wondering (and I paraphrase), "What's happening to this neighborhood?" At this rate, he would have to take over a new neighborhood in order to maintain his lifestyle.

The effect big corporations have on small business is an everyday sight. The Sopranos made the topic fresh and interesting by showing corporate effect on Tony's criminal enterprise. Who knew that a TV show could be both interesting and economically aware?

There must be a better way

For the life of me, I simply cannot understand why someone would voluntarily imprison themselves! Not only that, but to claim it as a good idea as well! Personally, I like freedom to move around, but maybe I'm part of a dying breed.

I'm talking about the erection of walls (or in some cases fences) along borders in order to keep "bad people" out. It is a very popular idea among Israelis and is becoming so here in America as well. Some people actually believe that people will give up and go back home if they run into a wall. Ha! If only it were that easy!

Walls will do absolutely nothing to keep unwanted people out of any particular area. Someone who really wants to get past a wall will. Simple as that. We humans are a creative bunch. If we can't go over, under, or through, we will find a way to go around.

And really, is there anything more offensive to the eyes than a big wall blocking what could potentially be a beautiful view? I grew up on the plains in north Texas. Unless it's a foggy day, you can see at least twenty miles in any direction. At night, you could see lights from towns over fifty miles away. I could stare forever at the oceans of white that cotton season provided. I can't imagine how disappointed I would be if those wonderful views were obstructed by a useless wall. The feeling of freedom the plains had to offer would be replaced by a feeling of imprisonment. Not exactly my idea of a good trade.

When I look across the Rio Grande, I want to see Mexico. Even better, if I'm fishing from the Texas side, I'd like to see someone fishing from the Mexican side. There's something comforting in the knowledge that we're all in the same boat even though we may be waving different flags. To me, it promotes a sense of world community.

If a wall was effective as a barrier in any way, shape or form, then I might reluctantly consider it. But I know better than that. I suggest we think of a better way to spend our tax dollars. I suggest we find a way that could actually work.