Monday, August 31, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009
While the governor's race has already heated up and even gotten nasty for the Republicans (with Kay Bailey Hutchison and Rick Perry going at each other), the Democratic side has just been limping along with one candidate -- Tom Schieffer. And frankly, he's not a candidate that excites any progressive Democrats. He not only served in the Bush administration, but supported his candidacy in both 2000 and 2004.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
The Dallas Cowboys played their first game in their new stadium last week. While the Cowboys won the game and everyone seemed to love the stadium, the giant scoreboard hanging above the field seems to have caused some controversy, after it was hit by the Tennessee punter.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Texas has long been the most bloodthirsty state in the United States. No other state even comes close to executing as many people as Texas does. Now it looks like the fear that an innocent man could have been executed may well be true.
This is certainly something you wouldn't have seen thirty years ago, but I guess the only constant in this world is change. Anti-establishment icon, Bob Dylan, is doing a very establishment kind of thing -- he's releasing a christmas album.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
They are all three gone now -- the president, the attorney general and the senator. They all served their country with pride and distinction, and they will never be forgotten. They are giants striding the halls of American history. But none served his country better than Senator Edward Kennedy.
U.S. President Barack Obama: For five decades, virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts. I valued his wise counsel in the Senate, where, regardless of the swirl of events, he always had time for a new colleague. I cherished his confidence and momentous support in my race for the Presidency. And even as he waged a valiant struggle with a mortal illness, I've profited as President from his encouragement and wisdom. An important chapter in our history has come to an end. Our country has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States Senator of our time.
Bill Clinton, former president: "Senator Ted Kennedy was one of the most influential leaders of our time, and one of the greatest senators in American history. His big heart, sharp mind and boundless energy were gifts he gave to make our democracy a more perfect union."
Jimmy Carter, former president: "Senator Kennedy was a passionate voice for the citizens of Massachusetts and an unwavering advocate for the millions of less fortunate in our country. The courage and dignity he exhibited in his fight with cancer was surpassed only by his lifelong commitment and service to his country."
Al Gore, former vice president: "He was a true giant. He was a warm, funny, thoughtful, and generous friend and he was the most effective member of the United States Senate with whom I served....Ted was a champion for those Americans who had no voice -- the sick, the disabled, the poor, the under-privileged -- and they could have had no greater friend in the Senate. Now, Ted would want nothing more than for his colleagues to continue his life's work and to make real his dream of quality health care for all Americans."
Gen. Colin Powell, retired, former secretary of state: "He was for the underprivileged. He was for the poor. He was for those who did not have health care. He was for the reduction and elimination of racial barriers. And so Ted Kennedy was somebody who reached out for all of those, who were not yet benefiting from the American dream. And he strongly believed that America had the potential to give all of its citizens an opportunity to lead a good quality, healthy life."
U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona): "My friend, Ted Kennedy, was famous before he was accomplished. But by the end of his life he had become irreplaceable in the institution he loved and in the affections of its members. He grew up in the long shadow of his brothers, but found a way to be useful to his country in ways that will outlast their accomplishments."
Harry Reid, Senate majority leader: "Because of Ted Kennedy, more young children could afford to become healthy. More young adults could afford to become students. More of our oldest citizens and our poorest citizens could get the care they need to live longer, fuller lives. More minorities, women and immigrants could realize the rights our founding documents promised them. And more Americans could be proud of their country. Ted Kennedy's dream was the one for which the founding fathers fought and for which his brothers sought to realize. The liberal lion's mighty roar may now fall silent, but his dream shall never die."
Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah): "Today America lost a great elder statesman, a committed public servant, and leader of the Senate. And today I lost a treasured friend. "Ted Kennedy was an iconic, larger than life United States senator whose influence cannot be overstated. Many have come before, and many will come after, but Ted Kennedy's name will always be remembered as someone who lived and breathed the United States Senate and the work completed within its chamber."
Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts: "I came to admire Ted enormously for his charm and sense of humor -- qualities all the more impressive in a man who had known so much loss and sorrow. I will always remember his great personal kindness, and the fighting spirit he brought to every cause he served and every challenge he faced."
Gordon Brown, British prime minister: "Senator Edward Kennedy will be mourned not just in America, but in every continent. He is admired around the world as the senator of senators. He led the world in championing children's education and health care, and believed that every single child should have the chance to realise their potential to the full. Even facing illness and death, he never stopped fighting for the causes which were his life's work."
Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany: "For decades Edward Kennedy was a towering figure in U.S. politics. His battle for justice and equality was defined by persistence and resoluteness. In Senator Kennedy both Germany and Europe have lost a great and dear friend."
Ban Ki-moon, United Nations secretary-general: "He was not just a friend to those of power and high position, but even more to those who had neither. He was a voice for those who would otherwise go unheard, a defender of the rights and interests of the defenseless. Those who feel that government can too often be faceless and inhumane did not know Senator Kennedy. He stood for the best in all of us, and he will be missed."
(NOTE -- This post is to honor the great man. If you have something negative to say about Senator Edward Kennedy, take it somewhere else. It won't be posted here.)
The Standard Hotel in Manhattan was just finished and opened last year, and has already become something of a landmark in the city. In fact, the Municipal Arts Society of New York gave the hotel an award as the best new building erected in the city last year.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
It has become obvious to everyone in the civilized world that there will never be peace in the Middle East until there is a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that is mutually acceptable to all sides. Everyone, except Israel, that is. It's starting to look like Israel is happy with the status quo.
There's more bad news regarding the education of students in Texas. With our state school board (pictured) more interested in teaching religion than anything else and Republican leadership in Austin more interested in cutting taxes than adequately funding our schools, it probably shouldn't be a surprise that Texas students are falling below the national average in knowledge and skills.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
I want to thank the great blog Think Progress for bringing this story to attention, because it involves one of the most important issues there is -- freedom of the press. Of all the freedoms provided us by our Founding Fathers, perhaps the most important is freedom of speech and the press. That's because this is the freedom that protects and insures all of our other freedoms.
Stories like this make me too mad to see straight. In Oxford, Florida, an 8.5 foot Blond Burmese python squeezed a two year-old girl to death. The mother and her boyfriend (pictured above) woke up to find the huge snake wrapped around the two year-old and couldn't get it off before the girl had been killed.
Monday, August 24, 2009
The large scale production of wind energy will be a real boon to Texas, and especially to the Panhandle region. But before wind energy can really take off, there must be a way to get that energy from where it is produced to where it is needed (and will be used). In other words, new energy transmission lines must be built.
Thank goodness that process is finally starting. Sharyland Utilities is holding public hearings on its proposed routes for transmission lines thru the Panhandle. The first section will be built from near Hereford to White Deer, and will run just south of Amarillo (see above map).
There are several routes available for this section of the transmission line, and these will be discussed in public hearings the next couple of days. The first will be held in Amarillo tonight from 5-8pm at the Region 16 Service Center (5800 Bell Street). The second will be held tomorrow in Panhandle (just east of Amarillo) from 5-8pm at the Carson County War Memorial Building (500 Main Street). Both meetings are open to the public.
In the first quarter of 2010, Sharyland will prepare to file permits for the specific routes it will use. In the second quarter of 2010, it will file those permit applications with the Texas Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The PUC should approve those permits by the end of 2010, and construction is currently scheduled to begin in the first half of 2011.
Sharyland will be building about 300 miles of the transmission lines across 11 counties. It is good to see the process is finally getting started. Wind energy will not only provide a new source of income for many farmers and ranchers, but it will create many new jobs in this area. But this cannot happen on a large scale until the transmission lines are completed.
Here in the Panhandle, we are eager to begin providing Texas with clean and renewable energy.
Spector wrote to his friend Steve Escobar saying he wants his attorneys to get him to "a better prison with people more like myself in it during the appeal process instead of all these lowlife scumbags, gangsters and Manson types....They’d kill you here for a 39-cent bag of soup!”
Oh my! They've put a lowlife scumbag murderer in the same prison with other "lowlife scumbags". The horror! I think Spector needs to grow up and realize a couple of things.
1. He is a murderer. He belongs in a maximum security prison with other people who've committed similar crimes. If he can't do the time, he shouldn't have done the crime (which was to shoot an unarmed and defenseless woman in the face).
2. He's not supposed to like prison. He was sent there to be punished, just like the other "lowlife scumbags" in prison with him. If he liked it, it wouldn't be punishment.
This creep thought he was a badass when he threatened unarmed people with a gun for years on the outside. It doesn't surprise me that he's really just a pathetic wimp.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
The Afghanis just had a national election last Thursday. They haven't finished counting the votes, so it is not known which cheater was the most effective. Yes, I said "cheater", because this was anything but a fair and free and democratic election.
Mirwais Yassini, deputy speaker of the lower house of parliament and one of over 30 people who ran for president, said he believes that both of the two main contenders are involved in widespread election fraud. He is talking about current president Hamid Karzai and his main opponent Abdullah Abdullah.
It looks like Mr. Yassini is right. The Afghanistan Free and Fair Election Foundation (AFFEF) has cited instances of "stuffed ballot boxes, illiterate voters being told who to vote for and biased officials." The AFFEF's "provisional report also details accounts of multiple voting, underage voting and election officials being ejected from polling stations by representatives of candidates."
The AFFEF sent 7,000 observers all around the country. The observers said "threats of violence against voters came from local powerbrokers, the Taliban and rival political camps."
Meanwhile, the observer mission from the European Union said "the election was well organised and was a victory for the Afghan people." With everything else that's been reported, I have to wonder just how far their heads were buried in the sand. Obviously, they were there to rubber-stamp the election -- not to see it was run properly.
Is this the wonderful democracy our American soldiers are dying for? We already knew of the anti-women laws they recently passed. Now it looks like there won't really be a legitimate winner in the election, and therefore won't be a legitimate leader for Afghanistan -- no matter how many votes are counted.
Frankly, none of the candidates running or leaders already in office is worth the life of a single American soldier. It is time to either declare victory or admit defeat (you choose) and get all of our soldiers out of Afghanistan.
And while we're at it, let's get all our soldiers out of Iraq -- now.
Since my desk-top computer quit on me a couple of years ago, I've been making do with an Acer Aspire 5315 laptop. I bought it new a couple of years ago for $350 dollars, and it's served me pretty well. But now it's starting to fill the screen with purple and blue lines every now and then, and they won't go away until I tap the computer a few times. Obviously, it was time to either try and get it repaired or just replace it.
So today, I went computer shopping. I came home with a brand new Apple MacBook (like the one pictured above). I've been wanting to try a Mac for a while now, so while I've got a few bucks I went out and splurged. It's the bottom of the Apple line, but it was all the money I could talk myself into spending. I'm still proud of it, and I think it's all I'll need.
Now all I need to do is figure out how to use the darn thing!
Saturday, August 22, 2009
It turns out she was Virginia Montanez, a 35 year-old married mother of two. After she revealed her identity, her employer fired her. She had worked for a nonprofit called the Negro Educational Emergency Drive in Pittsburgh. Her former-employer won't say why they fired her.
Recently in Alaska, 43 year-old political blogger Jeanne Devon was outed by an Alaskan legislator (who should be ashamed of his cowardly actions). Her blog was called The Mudflats and she exposed right wing skullduggery in the northernmost state. Another Alaskan blogger, who writes The Immoral Minority, had anonymous right-wingers calling the school where the blogger worked. Regardless of political affiliation, these kinds of threatening actions should not be tolerated by anyone.
I started out blogging with a pseudonym myself, because I wasn't sure how my employer would react to my blog. But I finally decided that as a political blogger, I might have more credibility if I used my real name. But that was my own personal choice, and I fully understand why a blogger might want to keep his/her real name a secret (especially a woman-- it's shocking the kinds of abuse and threats aimed at females). The use of a pseudonym should be a personal choice of a blogger (who knows his/her own situation) and not a target of inferior intellects.
Take for instance, what happened to Montanez. All you have to write is one thing that your boss doesn't like and suddenly you're jobless. There are also nuts out there who will harrass and even threaten or hurt a blogger, just because they disagree with them and don't have the intelligence, wit or education to spar with them in a comment section of the blog.
Personally, I think anyone who resorts to name-calling, threats, outing a blogger or trying to get a blogger fired from their job is a SCUMBAG and a COWARD (and if you'll notice, they usually do it anonymously). Frankly, if you can't handle someone else's opinion and don't have the tools to present your own side, maybe you should just keep your mouth shut and stop reading the blogs. Name-calling, threats and outing someone just shows your lack of an argument.
I have a right-winger who comments on my blog often using a pseudonym. We've had some fun arguments. But I would never consider outing his real identity (even though I know it). I simply do not have the right to try and harm him or get him fired by releasing his real name. That would make me a snitch and a coward, and I was raised to not respect either.
That's what I think. My name is Ted McLaughlin and I live in Amarillo (and that's my picture above). I say what I want on this blog, and if you don't like that it's your problem. I've lived too long and experienced too much to care.
P.S. -- By the way, if your comment is nothing more than name-calling or threatening or has racist content, don't expect to see it -- it won't be approved. And I don't care what you think about that either!