A PROGRESSIVE VOICE FROM THE LLANO ESTACADO

Monday, June 30, 2008

Tx. Sup. Ct. OK's Religious Child Abuse


At least they are consistent. A few weeks ago, the Texas Supreme Court decided it was OK for the FLDS cult in West Texas to abuse children, and ordered those children to be returned to the abusive environment. Now they have defended the right of another church to abuse youngsters -- this time the Assembly of God.

It seems that the Pleasant Glade Assembly of God in Colleyyville decided that a 17 year-old girl was possessed by a demon. Without her permission, or the permission of her parents (who were out-of-town at the time), the church members decided to perform an exorcism. They grabbed the girl and held her down while an exorcism was done.

She was not only physically bruised, but was so emotionally scarred from the incident that she later tried to commit suicide and was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I would have thought any reasonable person could see this was a case of abuse.

That's what the parents thought, and they filed suit against the church. A jury held the church liable and awarded the family $300,000. A Fort Worth appeals court later lowered the award to $122,000. Still, the church was held responsible for its actions. But the church again appealed the decision -- this time to the Texas Supreme Court.

This is where things went wrong. The Texas Supreme Court decided in a 6-3 decision, that even though the church did damage the girl emotionally and psychologically, they could not be held responsible. They overturned the verdict.

Justice Medina (who has his own legal and ethical problems) wrote the majority decision. He said since the injuries were caused by a religious activity sanctioned by the church, if the court imposed any legal liability for that religious activity "to which the church members adhere would have an unconstitutional 'chilling effect’ by compelling the church to abandon core principles of its religious beliefs. "

He went on to write, "Religious practices that might offend the rights or sensibilities of a non-believer outside the church are entitled to greater latitude when applied to an adherent within the church."

In plain English, any church can abuse its own members (even minors) without their consent (or their parent's consent) as long as they claim a religious reason for the abuse. This is a breathtakingly bad decision, even for a Republican court.

No one should be able to use religion to cover for abuse.

Indefinitely


Friday, June 27, 2008

Obama Donates To Clinton Campaign


It looks like the two major Democratic candidates may be coming together finally. Barack Obama got out his personal checkbook last night and donated the maximum of $2300 to help Hillary Clinton retire the $22 million debt her campaign had piled up. His wife Michelle then donated the same amount.

Following the lead of Obama, his national finance chairman, Penny Pritzker and her husband each donated the same maximum amount. Now these four checks won't put much of a dent in Clinton's debt, but the symbolic value is enormous. In addition, Obama has asked his top contributors to pitch in and help Clinton retire her campaign debt.

For her part, Clinton will appear with Obama at a rally in Unity, New Hampshire. The town is perfectly named for their first appearance together. In addition, it is a community that gave them a tie in the New Hampshire primary.

It's good to see the candidates coming together to help each other. I think they're both loyal Democrats who see the critical need to elect as many Democrats as possible -- from the top of the ballot to the bottom.

Block Walk For Matula



Just a reminder that the Matula campaign in doing some block walking this weekend in the Bay Forest area (precinct 306). If they can get enough volunteers, they hope to finish this area this weekend.

Volunteers should meet at Matula headquarters at 5:30pm for a short training session. They will then walk the precinct between 6:00pm and 8:00pm on both Saturday and Sunday. If you can help either day (or both), it would certainly be appreciated. You don't even need any experience. They'll be happy to show you how to do it, and this is your chance to get in on some ground-floor politics.

Matula has a very good chance of grabbing this seat away from the Republicans in House District 129. Come on out and do your part to change America for the better. You'll be glad you did (and you'll probably have a lot of fun doing it).

Matula headquarters is located at 17300 Saturn Road, Suite 105, in Houston.

Supreme Court Is "On Target"


The United States Supreme Court has issued three very important decisions in the last few days, and for the first time in a long time, I agree with all three decisions. All of the decisions were reached by a 5-4 vote. I wish the votes had been a little more lop-sided, but I guess you can't have everything.

Last week, the court restored habeas corpus rights to the Guantanamo detainees. This restored the "rule of law" by guaranteeing that anyone in U.S. custody can appeal their detention to a United States court. No one can be detained indefinitely without justification. This was a much-needed step in restoring America's reputation as a nation based on laws, rather than the whim of a ruling dictator.

Two days ago, the court struck down the penalty of capital punishment for child rape. They made it clear that the death penalty would only be tolerated in cases where there was a loss of life. Child rape is a heinous crime, but it can be handled with very long prison sentences.

This decision may actually save the lives of the abused children. If an offender already faced the death penalty, what would stop them from taking the life of the young witness? Now, if they take that young life, they will know their sentence can be upped to the death penalty.

Yesterday's decision cleared up a long-standing argument over whether the second amendment gave individuals the right of gun ownership, or whether that right was reserved to a militia. The court came down on the side of the individual. They said the opening phrase of the amendment (regarding militias) simply gave one of the reasons why individual citizens are guaranteed the right of gun ownership.

As the victim of a gunshot wound during the commission of a crime, I am not crazy about the ease with which criminals can get guns. I would be personally happy if all handguns were to disappear tomorrow. But I can read, and I believe it's pretty obvious the court made the right decision -- the Constitution gives the right to own guns to individuals (so they can form a militia if needed).

Some people were worried that this decision would erase all our nation's gun laws, but the majority on the court did not make their decision that far-reaching. Speaking for the majority, Justice Scalia said, "Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose."

This decision leaves in tact such laws as denying guns to convicted felons and the mentally ill, mandating a waiting period for a gun purchase, the registration of guns, requiring a license to carry a gun and the outlawing of guns such as machine guns. I'm sure that some will try to contest these laws, but I don't think they will get far. This decision was about guaranteeing the right of ownership, not about the invalidation of reasonable laws.

The court guaranteed Americans the right to own a gun, but it did not give them permission to be stupid and abuse that right.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Nader Now A Pathetic Caricature


I have to say that I've always been an admirer of Ralph Nader. As a crusading consumer advocate, he has probably saved hundreds of thousands of lives (if not millions). If it were not for him, our automobiles would still be rolling death traps.

He also understood the danger that the modern corporatocracy poses for our democratic freedoms. In fact, I am one of those who voted for him in 2000 and again in 2004. That's why I was so disappointed in his latest utterance. He told the media that Obama wasn't addressing the problems of African-Americans because he was trying to "talk white".

What a stupid thing to say! Does he think Obama should be "rapping" his speeches in Hip-Hop parlance? Does he want him to use "ebonics"? Or does he just think an African-American candidate should only deal with the problems of the urban ghetto?

The truth is that Barack Obama is an educated man with a marvelous ability to use the English language. His mastery of the language reminds me of the legendary Barbara Jordan, and that is certainly nothing to be ashamed of. I just wish I had that kind of control over our language!

As far as what issues he is discussing, he is running for president of the United States. It would be stupid for him to only discuss urban problems. A president must be conversant with the problems of ALL Americans, and Obama is.

All Nader did was make himself look like a pathetic has-been, who doesn't know when to quit. Please Ralph, stop this nonsense and go home. Let us remember the heroic crusader that you were, and not the doddering fool you have become.

For a Naderite like myself, this is sad.

WTF ?


Good grief! I think some people just go out of their way to find things to be offended about. The above picture is of part of a North Carolina license plate. It seems that North Carolina officials have just learned that these letters may be offensive to some people.

I guess they've been living in a cave somewhere. I surprised that there's anyone left in America that's not familiar with the phrase these three letters stand for. But evidently these NC officials are just a bit slow.

They were recently informed by a 60 year-old teacher of the meaning the letters have in e-mail and texting. Sadly, she had to be told by her teenage children.

They have now decided that the letters are suddenly "offensive", and they are going to replace up to 10,000 plates free of charge to any offended person.

Personally, I'm offended by the stupidity. Couldn't they find a real problem to spend this money on?

Why House Dems Knuckled Under On FISA


A few weeks ago, I was very proud of House Democrats. They had stood up to the president and refused to give the Telecom companies immunity for breaking federal surveillance laws. The president had wanted that immunity included in the new FISA bill and he wanted that immunity to be retroactive. It looked like we might finally discover just how widespread Bush's illegal spying on Americans had been.

But then a couple of days ago, everything fell apart and dozens of Democrats knuckled under once again. They voted with Republicans to give the President the telecom immunity that he wanted. Why did they do it? How could they have given in to a president with only a 23% approval rating? It seems unbelievable.

As near as I can figure, there seems to be three main reasons for the Democrats gutless behavior. And none of the three will stand up to scrutiny.

The first reason is that the Dems who knuckled under were afraid to look weak on defending our country with an election coming up. In other words, they were willing to vote for a bill they knew was bad so they could get re-elected. How pathetic is that?

But that vote did not make them look like strong defenders of this country. Instead, it made them look like the weak and spineless politicians that they really are. How can we believe they'd have the courage to stand up and defend our country, when they can't even stand up to the most unpopular president in history? Who could possibly believe they'd stand up to terrorists after watching them knuckle under to Bush?

This is exactly why people didn't want to vote Democratic in the past -- because many elected Democrats showed a stunning lack of political courage. Why would anyone want to vote for a politician who doesn't have the courage to vote his convictions?

The second reason given is to assure cooperation from the telecoms. They said they were afraid the telecom companies might not cooperate in the future if they weren't given immunity now. This is a totally bogus reason.

Isn't the new bill supposed to assure that a warrant would be obtained before spying would be done in the future? No telecom could refuse to cooperate with a duly issued warrant. If they did, they would be in serious legal trouble. The Dems who voted for immunity just let the telecoms con them!

The third reason is an appalling lack of leadership among Congressional Democrats. Both Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid refused to stake out a Democratic position on the FISA bill. This made it easy for the separate members to vote as they wished -- after all, there was no party position! How could the Democratic leadership not have a party position on one of the most important bills of the year?

It's not like they didn't know how rank-and-file Democrats felt about the illegal spying. It's been obvious for years that a huge majority of Democrats opposed the illegal spying and opposed granting immunity to the telecoms.

This has made it painfully clear that the Democrats need new Congressional leadership. Both Pelosi and Reid have demonstrated that they are not capable of exercising the responsibility they have been given. When the new Congress meets after the election, both of them should be replaced.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Justice Department Violated Hiring Laws


This shouldn't surprise anyone who has followed the pitiful job done by our Justice Department in the last few years. According to an investigative report released by the Inspector General of the Justice Department, Glenn Fine, the department consistently violated federal law with their hiring practices between 2002 and 2006.

For that period of time, the department used political beliefs as a criteria for hiring or refusing to hire new employees. It did not matter how good their grades were or how qualified applicants were, if Justice Department officials believed they were liberals, then they were not hired. They hired only those applicants who were conservatives or Bush loyalists.

It all started in 2002, when John Ashcroft (pictured above) changed the procedure for hiring. Before that time, each department head did his own interviewing and hiring and politics was not a consideration. But Ashcroft changed the procedure to have political appointees involved in the hiring process. These political appointees made conservative political beliefs a requirement for hiring. Alberto Gonzales continued the Ashcroft procedures.

Current Attorney General Michael Mukasey says he has changed the hiring procedure. He said, "I have also made clear, and will continue to make clear, that the consideration of political affiliations in the hiring of career department employees is impermissible and unacceptable."

I hope he is telling the truth, but the Bush administration has told so many lies that it's very hard to believe any of his appointees anymore.

Moment Of Silence


From the Charlotte Observer (06/24/08)

Consumer Confidence At 16 Year Low


It looks like it's beginning to sink in to most people what a mess the Bush administration has made of our economy. The Consumer Confidence Index fell for June to a lowly 50.4. This was even more than the analysts' had predicted. It was expected to fall from May's figure of 57.2 to around 56.5.

Last July, the CCI stood at a healthy 111.9, but now it is at the lowest point in the last sixteen years. With the perception that we're in a recession, the freefall of home valuations, the record number of foreclosures of homes, the rapidly growing inflation of food and gasoline prices and the growth of unemployment numbers (officially 5.5%, but probably higher), it's easy to see why consumers have little confidence in the economy.

Even the Federal Reserve is unsure of how to handle the economy. Normally, an economy in recession will have falling prices, and the "Fed" would lower interest rates to stimulate economic activity. To handle inflation, the "Fed" would raise interest rates to slow economic activity.

But we're in a rather unique economic mess. We're being hit with recession and inflation at the same time. Because of this, the "Fed" is expected to neither raise nor lower interest rates when it meets this week. After all, if you fight the inflation then you make the recession worse, and vice versa.

There doesn't seem to be much hope of either situation getting better in the near future. It's become very clear that we must vote the Republicans and their disastrous economic policies out of office this coming November.

Matula Headquarters To Open


Sherrie Matula, candidate for House District 129, will begin moving into her headquarters this weekend at 17300 Saturn Road, Suite 105 in Houston. They could use some help. If you can help them move, give John a call at 281-536-2457. I'm sure he'll appreciate any help he can get!

The headquarters will officially open on July 12th. In the meantime, there are some items the campaign still needs. Here is the list:


Soft drinks, bottled water

Snacks

Microwave

Coffee supplies

Coffee pot

Plastic forks/spoons/knives, plastic cups and plates, napkins, paper towels

Pens, staplers, staples scissors, highlighters, sharpies, pencils, pencil sharpeners, tape, pushpins, stickies, binder clips, file folders etc

In and out boxes

Name tags

Paper for printers – we need lots!

Fans

Large Texas flag

Small Texas flags

General Decorations

American and Texas flags for outside

Hand soap

Toilet paper

Kleenex

Vacuum cleaner


Call Martha (281-773-5863) or John (281-536-2457), if you have items you can donate or let them borrow.

They're also going to do some block walking in precinct 306 (Bay Forest) on Saturday and Sunday from 6:00pm to 8:00pm. Those willing to help should meet at the headquarters at 5:30pm for a short training session.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Obama Not Perfect - But He's our Candidate


In the last couple of days, Obama has disappointed many progressives. His statement in support of the so-called "compromise" FISA bill was not something that most Democrats wanted to see. In fact, while I am a dedicated supporter of Obama, I have to say I was also disappointed and I hope he'll redeem himself when the bill gets to the Senate.

But I feel that a lot of bloggers have overreacted to the situation. They seem to be taking great delight in pointing out that he has flaws and proceeding to verbally slice him up. They want us Obama supporters to know that he is not "perfect". Well guess what, we already knew that.

I hate to inform some of you, but there were not any perfect candidates running on the Democratic ticket this year. There were a lot of good candidates, but they all had flaws (even the ones I liked and supported). In fact, I have never even seen a "perfect" candidate, and I doubt that I ever will.

No matter how good a candidate is, someday you will disagree with something he does or says.That's because they are human just like the rest of us, and humans make mistakes and have disagreements -- it's just human nature. The best we can do is find a candidate that we think will do a good job and support him or her.

Obama is not perfect, but he is all we have to prevent a third term for the Bush-Cheney policies. Even the most superficial examination of the candidates will show any real Democrat that he is now our best hope to change our country for the better.

I'm not saying that we can't disagree with him. After he is elected, I'm sure I will disagree with him as much as any Democrat, and I'll make my views known. But maybe we ought to put the knives away for now. Let's put our attention fully on the job ahead -- defeating the Republicans in every single race that we can, including the presidency.

Obama is not perfect, but he is 1000 times better than McCain.

Religious Poll Is A Surprise


The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life recently conducted a survey of 35,000 Americans about their religious beliefs. Some of the results were a bit surprising. For the last few years, a lot of evangelical right-wingers have tried to shove their own religious views on mainstream America. That gave the impression that a majority of Americans believed their view of religion was the only acceptable one.

But that impression seems to have been a false one. It turns out that Americans are much more tolerant of other religions than was believed. According to the survey, America is a religious country. About 92% of respondents said they believed in God, 74% believe in life after death and 63% believe their religion's scriptures are the word of God. That's not surprising.

The surprise comes when they are asked about other religions. A full 70% of those with a religious affiliation said they believed that many different religions offered a path to eternal life. Also interesting is that 68% said there was more than one way to interpret the teachings of their own church.

Surprisingly, the tolerance of other religious teachings cut across a variety of religious lines and even included a majority of evangelicals. Here are some of the figures for those saying more than one religion offers a path to eternal life:

Mainline Protestants.....83%
Jews.....82%
Roman Catholics.....79%
Black Protestant Churches.....59%
Evangelicals.....57%
Muslims.....56%

Who would've guessed that tolerance was so widespread among religious people in America. It seems that we've been subjected to the rantings of a small minority for the last few years -- a minority of 30% or less.

Maybe it's time for our leaders to stop listening to this minority and act to protect real religious freedom for all Americans, including taking back our schools from this radical minority.

Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin



George Carlin 1937 - 2008.

Normally, I don't use "dirty words" on this site because many of my posts are picked up by news organizations and reposted. But they will just have to do without this one.

This is for you George, with the utmost love and respect:

SHIT - PISS - FUCK - CUNT - MOTHERFUCKER - COCKSUCKER - TITS

You made my world better and I will miss you.

Stepping On The Constitution


From the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (6/15/08).

The Coming Rape Of The Ogallala Aquifer


From Wikipedia:

The Ogallala Aquifer, also known as the High Plains Aquifer, is a vast yet shallow underground water table aquifer located beneath the Great Plains in the United States. One of the world's largest aquifers, it lies under about 174,000 mi² (450,000 km²) in portions of the eight states of South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas. It was named in 1899 by N.H. Darton from its type locality near the town of Ogallala, Nebraska. About 27 percent of the irrigated land in the United States overlies this aquifer system, which yields about 30 percent of the nation's ground water used for irrigation. In addition, the aquifer system provides drinking water to 82 percent of the people who live within the aquifer boundary.

The Ogallala Aquifer is a critical water resource to the High Plains area of Texas. It not only supplies drinking water to many of it's citizens, but it is the life-blood of High Plains farming. This is a semi-arid section of Texas and most of the farms need irrigation water from the aquifer to exist.

The aquifer is already showing signs of being in trouble. Since the 1950's, around 9-10% of the aquifers water has been depleted. Normally, aquifers are sources of water that can be replenished by rainfall. But the Ogallala is a bit different. Because it is in a semi-arid region and has steady winds, much surface water is evaporated before it can filter far into the soil. Much of the region is also covered with caliche (a clay-like soil) that is almost impermeable.

That means the Ogallala Aquifer replenishes itself much slower than most aquifers, and accounts for the depletion since the 1950's when large-scale irragation was introduced. There are some who say if the water in the aquifer is not conserved, it could be depleted in as little as another 25 years. But now there is a huge new threat coming to the aquifer.

A few months ago, oilman T. Boone Pickens created a new water district on 8 acres of his land near Pampa in the Texas Panhandle. Since you had to live within the proposed district to vote on it's creation, the district was created by less than 10 voters (all of them employees of Pickens). The water district gives him the right of eminent domain. He can now force landowners to let him have the land on which he plans to build a huge pipeline (and electrical transmission lines).

Pickens plans to sell water from the Ogallala Aquifer to the Dallas area. He will pump enough water to fill a pipeline 9 feet in diameter. And it's all legal. State law allows him to pump all the water he can as long as it comes from under his land.

The sad part is that while he's only pumping the water from underneath his land, he will be pumping so much that it will lower the level of the aquifer in general. That means his 8 acre water district can theoretically empty the entire aquifer.

Pickens told Business Week, "All I'm doing is selling surplus water." The problem with that is in a semi-arid area like the high plains, there is no such thing as "surplus water".

It's not bad enough that there's a radioactive waste dump located in Andrews County on the southwestern edge of the Ogallala Aquifer, but now we have a rich oilman that wants to sell the aquifer's water to Dallas. I'm surprised that there hasn't been more organized opposition on the High Plains to both of these proposals.

If something is not done about this, we may soon find that the Panhandle doesn't have enough water to support its population. Doesn't Texas have enough desert already? Do we need to turn the Panhandle into just more Texas desert?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Texas Pays Little - Expects A Lot


The Texas Department of Public Safety admitted that just having one guard on duty when the governor's mansion was torched by an arsonist is indicitive of a larger problem with the agency. There are not enough officers to do the job statewide. The agency is currently 200 officers short of the number they are budgeted for, and that number could easily rise to 600 as "baby boomers" start to retire in the next three years.

According to Don Dickson, who represents the Texas State Troopers Association, "They're just stretched too darn thin. It's as simple as that. We don't have enough people to do the job." Part of this can be handled in the short term by reorganizing, and letting civilians handle desk jobs and tasks such as giving driver's tests.

But the truth of the matter is that both the federal government and many city governments just pay more. As long as that is true, there will be a shortage. Especially since an officer can advance in a local department without uprooting their family and moving them all over our huge state.

But this is not a problem that stops with the Department of Public Safety. It extends to the Department of Criminal Justice, the Texas Youth Commission, Child (and Adult) Protective Services and many other state agencies.

The four or five top people in each agency are usually cronies of the governor or other top state politicians, and they get paid very nicely. But when you further down to the people who are actually doing the job on the frontlines, the pay drops radically. Texas has traditionally been one of the lowest paying states.

Now if these were easy paper-pushing jobs, it might be different. But most are not. Many of these state employees do dangerous and/or very difficult tasks. They deal with criminals, the mentally ill and angry members of the public, and most of the time they do a very good job. Their reward for that is to be underpaid and constantly criticized.

As long as the state continues to underpay and criticize those they employ, the problems of understaffing will just get worse. Texas can no longer get away with paying small-state salaries for it's big-state problems. It's time for our state politicians to "bite the bullet" and pay state employees fairly.

We always can seem to find the money to funnel millions of dollars into corporate pockets. Why can't we adequately pay our state employees?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Creationist Teacher Brands Students


I'm a firm believer in the idea that everyone has the right to believe in whatever religion (or no religion) that they wish to. However, when you try to force those beliefs on others, you've gone too far. And when you introduce your religion into the academic school system and abuse the students, you're in the wrong no matter what that religion happens to be.

That's what has happened in the small community of Mount Vernon, about 40 miles northeast of Columbus, Ohio. Independent investigators hired by the school board, tell of a science teacher out of control. I use the term "science teacher" very loosely, because he was actually teaching religion instead of science.

They said John Freshwater kept a Bible and other christian items in his middle school classroom. Freshwater taught creationism to his students and would not teach evolution. He also taught that carbon dating was a flawed and unrekiable system.

The district's director of teaching said she has fielded complaints about Freshwater throughout her 11 years with the district. A former superintendent said he tried to move Freshwater to another position, but was unsuccessful because science was all he was certified to teach. Personally, I think he should have been fired for teaching religion instead of science.

But he got even worse this past year. One family has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against Freshwater and the school district. They say the teacher burned a cross on their child's arm that didn't go away for nearly four weeks.

Freshwater doesn't deny it. He used a high-frequency generator to burn crosses on the arms of several students. In spite of this, Freshwater has his defenders. One said, "With the exception of the cross-burning episode...I believe John Freshwater is teaching the values of the parents in the Mount Vernon School District."

Whether that is true or not is irrelevent. He was supposed to be teaching science -- not values or religion. As for burning crosses on the arms of middle-schoolers, that is nothing less than child abuse. He should not only be fired, but also arrested and charged with child abuse.

This fool is not just unfit to teach science. He is unfit to teach at all.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Potter County Has New Sheriff


Potter County commissioners met on Friday to fill the vacant sheriff's position. The position is vacant because former-sheriff Mike Shumate was convicted of a felony last week. When he was convicted, Visiting Judge Quay Parker removed him from office and appointed Capt. Roger Haney to fill in until the commissioners could act.

Haney wanted to keep the job, and most observers expected the commissioners to appoint him. But in a 5 hour session, the commissioners decided to appoint someone else. Saying they needed someone from outside the department to restore the people's confidence, they appointed Roy Boyter.

Boyter is an Amarillo native, who retired as a lieutenant from the Texas Department of Public Safety. There is nothing to suggest that Haney wouldn't have done a very good job, but the commissioners probably made a wise decision. By choosing someone from outside the department, they remove any perception that the department might still be tainted.

Sheriff Boyter will serve for the next six months (and will probably be sworn in on Monday). This coming November, a new sheriff will be elected. It will either be Democrat Robert Taylor or Republican Brian Thomas. At this time, it looks like it's shaping up to be a close election.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Dallas City Council Screwing Up


The Dallas City Council has gotten themselves into a fine mess now. They got it through their heads that with the new Trinity River Project moving ahead, Industrial Blvd. needed a new name. Evidently, Industrial Blvd. wasn't a pretty enough name to go with their new project, even though the street has borne that name for many years and no one has complained.

I think they wanted to rename the street "Trinity River Parkway", but instead of just doing that they got cute. They decided to throw a bone to the minority communities in Dallas by letting the people vote on the new name. They tossed in "Eddie Bernice Johnson" for the African-Americans and "Cesar Chavez" for the Hispanics. There were about five choices in all, and they asked the community to log in and vote by computer.

But then, something unexpected happened. "Cesar Chavez" won the computer poll. In fact, it didn't just win the poll, it got as many votes as all the other choices put together. The "sleeping giant" that was the Hispanic community in Dallas has awakened and flexed their political muscle.

So what does the city council do? They put off making a decision until August. Maybe they were hoping Hispanics would forget by then. But that isn't going to happen. Several Hispanic groups are now demanding they honor the outcome of the poll they conducted.

I agree. If the council didn't want to honor the votes cast, they shouldn't have asked citizens to cast them. "Cesar Chavez" won by a landslide, and that is what the new name of Industrial Blvd. should be.

Anything else would be an insult to the voters, and that could have serious political reprecussions.

Matula To Meet Taylor Lake Voters


You folks in Taylor Lake are getting a chance to meet your new Representative for House District #129 on this fine "Juneteenth" holiday. I urge you to take advantage of this opportunity. I was privileged to meet Sherrie Matula at the Democratic State Convention a couple of weeks ago, and I have to tell you she's a very impressive candidate. She will make a representative you can be proud of.

If you live in Taylor Lake or any of the surrounding areas, take this chance to meet her and let her know the issues you believe are important. Here are the particulars:


Taylor Lake Councilmember Jon Powell and Cindy Evans cordially invite you to meet Democratic Candidate for House District 129

Sherrie Matula

Thursday, June 19, 2008
6:30 pm to 8:30 pm

at their home

1106 Pine Circle
Taylor Lake Village, TX 77586-4709

for Wine & Cheese

To R.S.V.P. please call (281) 486-0224

For more information please contact the
Sherrie Matula Campaign
PO Box 591810 Houston, TX 77259
or visit online at sherriematula.com

I hope to see you Thursday night! Jon and Cindy have a beautiful home on the Lake. This would be a great opportunity to invite some of your friends in the District so that I can hear their concerns and issues.

----Sherrie

Texas GOP Tries To Disown Button


I imagine by now, you've all seen the racist button pictured above. It was being sold in a booth at the Texas Republican State Convention (and probably sold well if I know Texas Republicans). But then the Dallas Morning News, the Houston Chronicle and a bunch of blogs took note of it and began to let the general public know about the overtly racist button.

This was not what the party wanted. They didn't mind a little racist joke amongst friends, but it was not supposed to become public knowledge. The Republican Party may have accepted our nation's racists into the party when the Democrats opened their doors to all races years ago, but even they understand the concept of "bad press". And this was getting some really bad press.

Now the party is trying to act like they had no idea there were racists at their convention. They have issued a little press release saying they have banned this seller from exhibiting at future conventions, and they're going to give the money they made by renting the booth to charity (although they didn't specify which charity).

Party spokesman Hans Klingler said, "This vendor need not apply to another Texas G.O.P. State Convention. The proceeds from their booth space will be donated to charity. We will tolerate nor profit from bigotry....The Republican Party of Texas is proud of its principles, record and diversity."

The Republican principles and record have been made clear for all to see in the last few years. They are the reason the Democrats are looking forward to a great 2008 election.

But I do have one question. What diversity?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

"Choice" May Tip The Election To Obama

With a 5-4 split on the United States Supreme Court regarding issues of "choice", many believe this is a critical election. The new president could make several Supreme Court appointments, and those appointments could determine whether Roe v. Wade survives or is overturned. With the two chosen nominees, voters have a clear choice on the matter. McCain is anti-choice and Obama is pro-choice.

A new Greenberg-Quinlan-Rosner poll, commissioned by NARAL Pro-Choice America, shows that while the war and the economy will be important issues in the 2008 election, the issue that decides the election could well be the issue of a woman's "choice".

The G-Q-R poll conducted a survey of 1,788 likely voters -- 1,000 likely voters plus oversamples of 424 Republican women and 364 Independent women. The voters surveyed were in the swing states of Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

The poll shows that choice could be important in these swing states in helping Obama to build a winning coalition. Here are the key findings of the poll:

Once balanced information about Obama and McCain’s respective positions on choice is introduced, Obama gains 6 points overall, with his lead in battleground states expanding from a net 2 points (47-45 percent) to a net 13 points (53-40 percent).

The issue of choice moves the swing vote and generates crossover support. Obama gains 13 points among pro-choice Independent women (who make up 9 percent of this electorate) and 9 points among pro-choice Republican women (who account for 5 percent of this electorate). When these groups are combined, this movement equates to a gain of 1.6 points overall in the general election race against McCain.

Choice can also help Obama consolidate his base—Obama gains 6 points among Democratic women after balanced descriptions of the candidates’ positions on choice is introduced.

Despite the fact that the national focus seems to be on the economy, among pro-choice Independent women, pro-choice Republican women, and liberal to moderate Republican women, the issue of abortion produces a larger advantage for Democrats than the economy, the war in Iraq, or health care. Moreover, among these three groups critiques on McCain’s anti-choice position are the strongest attacks against him, trumping attacks on the economy, the war, and special interests.

This is the most important election for women's rights in years. If McCain wins, women's rights could be set back 50 years. It is up to all of us to see that doesn't happen. For women's rights, civil rights and the benefit of all Americans, we must elect Barack Obama as our next president.

Cease-Fire Reached For Gaza Strip

It looks like a small chance for peace may be opening in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Hamas, who controls the Gaza Strip, says a cease-fire has been reached with Israel and will commence at 6am this coming Thursday. Israel would neither confirm or deny the report.

The cease-fire has been brokered by the Egyptians, and it is hoped that it will result in relief for the citizens of Gaza. Israel has cut Gaza off from the world since they elected Hamas to govern there last year. Gaza has over a million people, and things are starting to get critical there. They have not been able to get enough supplies to keep the population fed properly.

According to Hamas, Israel is supposed to let some supplies through on Saturday after three days of no violence. Saturday will also mark the beginning of talks about the release of an Israeli soldier captured by Hamas months ago. After the cease-fire has been in effect for a week with no violence, Israel will allow even more supplies to start entering Gaza and will consider opening the border between Gaza and Egypt.

Hamas says all the Palestinian groups are on-board with the cease-fire. But Hamas and Israel do not trust each other, and neither really believes the other will honor the cease-fire. Both sides will have to take it a day at a time. This may be a very tenuous operation, but it is the first good news for the area in quite a while.

Both sides of this conflict have been unreasonable. Hamas has said Israel doesn't have the right to exist. Israel has branded Hamas as terrorist and refused to negotiate with them. But these kind of opportunities are few and far-between, and both sides must give a bit.

Hamas is showing signs of being willing to talk. Israel must now do the same. They can't pick who they will negotiate with. Negotiations must be with the group in power, whether you like them or not.

This may not be a huge break-through, but it is a break-through. I hope neither side blows it.

Potter County Sheriff Takes Punishment Deal


Last week, the Potter County (ex)Sheriff was found guilty of a felony charge of bribery here in Amarillo. The all-female jury believed he had accepted bribes from a company trying to get the contract to operate the county jail commissary. Yesterday, he was scheduled to go before the same jury for the punishment phase of the trial.

The ex-sheriff could have received as much as life in prison, but he decided he didn't want to take the chance. The prosecution offered him a deal on punishment and he took the deal.

Shumate will serve 6 months in the Armstrong County Jail, and then he will be on probation for 8 years. It would have been a bit awkward to have Shumate in the Potter County Detention Center (county jail), since he was in charge of that facility only last week, so Potter County officials asked Armstrong County if they would take him.

County Commissioners are scheduled to meet Friday to discuss filling the vacant sheriff's position for the next six months. A new sheriff will be elected in November (either Democrat Robert Taylor or Republican Brian Thomas), but they need someone to fill in until the new sheriff can take office.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Bush Not Trusted Worldwide



According to the website World Public Opinion.org, George Bush is one of the most unpopular and least trusted leaders in the world. Only Ahmadinejad and Musharraf are ranked as low as Bush.

WPO.org did a survey of 20 countries, with nearly 20,000 respondents. They asked the respondents what leaders they "trusted to do the right thing". There were only two countries that gave Bush a higher positive rating than a negative rating (and the United States was not one of the two) -- Nigeria and India. Thailand was evenly split.

Overall, Bush received a 23% positive rating and a 67% negative rating. In the U.S., he had a 42% positive and 56% negative. Here are how the leaders were ranked:

Ban Ki-Moon (United Nations) 35%
Putin (Russia) 32%
Brown (Great Britain) 30%
Hu Jintao (China) 28%
Sarkozy (France) 26%
Bush (United States) 23%
Ahmadinejad (Iran) 22%
Musharraf (Pakistan) 18%

According to the director of WPO.org, the mistrust of George Bush has created a worldwide vacuum in leadership and no one has really stepped up to fill it. Sadly though, even the leaders of China and Russia are trusted more than the current leader of the United States.

Bush has been a disaster as a leader, both at home and abroad.

Matula On The Business Tax


Sherrie Matula is running for State Representative of House District 129. One of the cornerstones of her campaign is fair taxation. Here is what she has to say about the new "business tax" passed by the Republicans in 2006:


Yesterday was the deadline for businesses to submit to the State the business margins tax they owe. This is a tax on the gross receipts of a business (the income of a business), supported and passed by Republicans, including my opponent , in the 2006 Special Legislative Session.

Small business owners in House District 129 have come to me, expressing their concern about this new business tax because of the increased tax burden they are facing. The owners of a Seabrook company that provides products for offshore drilling is seeing an increase in their business tax from $350 in 2007 to $3500 in 2008. An anchor company in Nassau Bay is facing an increase from $1800 to $38,000. A school architecture firm is seeing their business tax bill rise nearly $115,000 this year. A space industry firm is facing an increase of over $30,000.

These are the personal accounts I related in a press conference on July 12th, with Representatives Hochberg and Hernandez, as well as State Representative candidate Joel Redmond, himself a small business owner. In all cases, the business owners in my District are willing to pay a tax to help fund public schools, but they want it to be fair and equitable. A copy of the press release regarding that event, can be found on my website.

The tax is so confusing that the State Comptroller extended the deadline for filing this tax by 30 days. But, yesterday was finally Tax Day for these businesses. When elected, I will work for a business tax that is fair to everyone, not just the ones that have lobbyists in the room.

Sherrie Matula

Bush Administration And The Light Bulb


I shamelessly stole this joke from the blog A Gentleman's Domain. But it was just too funny to pass up.

Question: How many members of the Bush Administration does it take to change a light bulb?

Answer: TEN.

1. One to deny that a light bulb needs to be changed;

2. One to attack the patriotism of anyone who says the light bulb needs to be changed;

3. One to blame Clinton for burning out the light bulb;

4. One to tell the nations of the world that they are either for changing the light bulb or for eternal darkness;

5. One to give a billion dollar no-bid contract to Halliburton for a new light bulb;

6. One to arrange a photograph of Bush, dressed as a janitor and standing on a step ladder, under the banner "Bulb Accomplished";

7. One administration insider to resign and in detail reveal how Bush was literally "in the dark" the whole time;

8. Another one to viciously smear # 7;

9. One surrogate to campaign on TV and at rallies on how George Bush has had a strong light bulb-changing policy all along;

10. And finally, one to confuse Americans about the difference between screwing in a light bulb and screwing the country.

And after all is said and done, no one will notice that they never actually managed to change the light bulb.

1st Gay Marriages Held In California


Jobsanger would like to congratulate the newest married couples in California. I hope your marriages give you many years of happiness and comfort.

Yesterday, California held it's first legal gay marriages. The County Clerk in Yolo County performed 10 marriages of same-sex couples. Other marriages were held in San Francisco, Alameda and Sonoma counties.

Right-wingers may not like it, but these marriages are now a done-deal and there's not anything they can do about it. They have put an amendment on the ballot for November to outlaw gay marriages. But even if they win in November, there's nothing they can do to erase the marriages that have already taken place. That would require an ex-post facto law, and those are prohibited by the United States Constitution.

I imagine that thousands of gay marriages will probably be performed before November, and the only thing that can dissolve any of them is if the couple gets a divorce. Win or lose in November, gay marriage is now a fact of life in that state.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Guantanamo: A Legacy Of Shame


It will take the United States many years to live down the atrocity known as Gitmo - Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility. It was bad enough that the Bush administration was lying to everyone about the torture going on there. Torture was commonplace. The Bush administration says what they did at Guantanamo garnered them valuable information about terrorism. However, CIA analysts who had to evaluate the information said it was worthless.

Of course, most information gathered by torture is worthless. A man being tortured is far more interested in telling you what you want to hear than in telling the truth. That's because when you hear what you want to hear the torture will stop, whereas the truth might only invite further torture.

But now we learn via an investigation by McClatchy News that there is another reason the information was worthless. Hundreds of the detainees were either very low-level Taliban foot-soldiers, or they were not connected to terrorism at all. In other words, they had no information to give.

They were reported to police or American soldiers as terrorists, because of old fueds and disputes or simply to get some reward money. Very soon after the U.S. entered Afghanistan, it was learned that the U.S. would pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for anyone with terrorist ties, and did little or no checking to verify the truth of accusations. If you didn't like someone, just tell the authorities he was a terrorist. They would arrest him and pay you a big bounty -- whether it was true or not.

The sad thing is that the Bush administration knew this was happening. But they were so paranoid about letting a real terrorist slip through their hands, that they imprisoned over 770 at Guantanamo anyway. Of that 770, only six have ever been charged with a crime. Hundreds of others have been finally released after years of incarceration and torture.

There are still nearly 300 detainees at Gitmo. One is left to wonder, why have only six been charged if all of them pose a danger to the United States. Obviously, no evidence exists of this "danger", except in the depraved minds of members of the Bush administration. If any evidence existed, charges would have been filed.

Now it becomes clear why the Bush administration wanted to deny even the most basic legal rights to the detainees. They had absolutely no evidence on which to hold them, but were afraid if they released them that one or two might actually turn out later to have been a terrorist. It simply did not matter to them that hundreds of innocents were being imprisoned and tortured.

Bush seems to think that history will vindicate him in the long-run. I think just the opposite will happen. I think as more and more of the truth comes out, future generations will revile him and wonder how our generation could have allowed him to do such terrible things. In fact, I wonder that myself.

This generation tried to impeach one president for getting a "blow-job" in the White House, but let another get away with starting an unnecessary war that killed thousand of innocents and tortured and imprisoned many others.

I was going to ask where are our values, but I think a better question may be -- do we have any values other than fear and greed?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Claytie's Back! Now Supporting McCain


Texas rancher and oilman, Clayton "Claytie" Williams, is back in the news again. Younger voters and those fairly new to Texas may not remember Claytie. He was Ann Richards' Republican opponent in the 1990 Texas governor's race, and is possibly the worst candidate to ever run for that office. Ann Richards kicked his ass that year at the ballot box.

Claytie started the campaign at least 20 points ahead in the polls, and was considered a shoo-in for the governorship. But then he started talking, and it seemed like every week he said something so stupid that he dropped another notch in the polls. He compared Ann Richards to his cattle, saying he would "head her and hoof her and drag her through the dirt".

Then he angered Hispanics by telling them they should vote for him because he met his wife in a Mexican restaurant. Claytie just considered his remarks as humorous, but most Texans found them very offensive and they wound up costing him the election.

Perhaps the most offensive of his remarks was when he compared rape to the weather. He said, "As long as it's inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it". His gaffes were so numerous and outrageous that year that I began to feel sorry for his campaign manager (even though he was a Republican).

The joke about rape was so over the line that it made national news, but I guess McCain was hiding under a rock somewhere because he claims he didn't know about it. You see, Claytie is one of McCain's biggest fund-raisers in Texas. He has already raised $300,000 for McCain this year.

But Claytie's past has caught up with him. A couple of days ago, the McCain campaign cancelled a Texas fund-raiser that was to be hosted by Clayton Williams. It seems that the rape joke had been unearthed, and McCain didn't want to associate himself with such an offensive remark. He told newsmen that he didn't know about Claytie's offensive behavior.

However, he's going to keep the $300,000. He didn't find the remark to be that offensive! Add this to the fact that McCain opposes a woman's right to control her own body and opposes equal pay for women, and I find it difficult to believe any woman would consider voting for him -- no matter how mad at the Democratic Party they are!