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Gender: Male
Hometown: Texas
Home country: United States
Current location: Red Hell Texas
Member since: Sun Aug 14, 2011, 03:57 AM
Number of posts: 76,962

About Me

Middle-aged white guy who believes in justice and equality for all. Math and computer analyst with additional 21st century jack-of-all-trades skills. I'm a stud, not a dud!

Journal Archives

Group launching national anti-Washington ads in anticipation of Perry's next presidential bid

AUSTIN (AP) — A nonprofit aiming to help Gov. Rick Perry gear up for another presidential run says it will launch a national advertising campaign blasting Washington and promoting GOP governors.

Amid the federal government shutdown and a looming debt ceiling crisis, Americans for Economic Freedom will air 10 days of 30-second spots on CNBC, Fox News and MSNBC.

It will also have ads on nationally syndicated radio shows.

The campaign says while gridlock reigns in Washington, conservative governors around the country are balancing budgets, creating jobs and cutting taxes.

More at http://lubbockonline.com/filed-online/2013-10-14/group-launching-national-anti-washington-ads-anticipation-perrys-next .

Rainy day fund to overflow with oil and gas tax revenue

Resurgent oil and gas production in Texas could fill the state’s rainy day fund to capacity within the next four years, according to a report to be issued Tuesday.

New projections from the business-backed Texas Taxpayers and Research Association show the fund would soon replenish record balances even if voters approve two constitutional amendments that would authorize using billions from the fund for water infrastructure and roads.

“While the Legislature is asking Texas voters to weigh in on using some portion of the fund or its revenues to help fund the state’s infrastructure needs, those additional uses should not threaten its financial vitality,” wrote Dale Craymer, president of the think tank and a former chief revenue estimator for the state.

Voters will consider a ballot measure in November setting aside $2 billion from the fund for water infrastructure, such as reservoirs and pipelines. Next year, they will decide whether to redirect half of the oil and gas production taxes — about $1 billion — to transportation projects.

More at http://www.ttara.org/files/document/file-525464eab18e0.pdf .

Paychecks dry up for RGV Border Patrol agents – who still have to work

McALLEN — Tuesday marks payday for Border Patrol agents assigned to the Rio Grande Valley Sector.

Don’t expect any smiles.

Thanks to the federal government shutdown, U.S. Customs and Border Protection can’t legally compensate agents for work performed after Sept. 30, leaving them with smaller-than-normal paychecks. The paychecks will cover late September, but not early October — even though agents worked normal shifts.

“It’s going to have a severe negative impact because people still have to pay bills,” said Agent Paul Perez, president of National Border Patrol Council Local 3307, the sector union. “Unless their creditors are willing to work with them individually, it’s going to create havoc for their household finances.”

During the government shutdown, agents who handle inquiries from the news media have been told to focus on essential work, which doesn’t include answering questions. They haven’t taken calls or issued news releases for about two weeks, and weren’t available to comment for this article.

More at http://www.themonitor.com/news/local/article_fb47b048-345a-11e3-8d8d-001a4bcf6878.html .

Republican Attorney General Candidate Barry Smitherman Objects To Identifying Hate Groups

Barry Smitherman, Texas Railroad Commissioner and Republican candidate for Attorney General, is upset. He's not bothered by the millions current Attorney General Greg Abbott has wasted on lawsuits he can't win, Abbott's dedication to voter disenfranchisement laws, or Abbott's near-release of thousands of Texans' Social Security numbers. No - he's distressed that certain hate groups are being labeled as hate groups.

Last year, Smitherman learned of study material used in his daughter's school to go along with the American classic To Kill A Mockingbird. The study material was provided by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which Smitherman claimed "has a more radical view of racism, hate, and intolerance." The SPLC is an organization that has fought Southern racism for decades by identifying hate groups, publishing studies into institutional racism, and providing legal assistance to victims of racial discrimination. Rarely do even Republicans bring up complaints about the SPLC - that's reserved for the hate groups SPLC exposes.

Apparently, Smitherman thinks what the historic organization does is "radical" - and he's been working against it for the last year on behalf of some hideous groups.

Smitherman wrote an email to his daughter's teacher laying out his complaints.

"For example," Smitherman wrote in his email, "the group 'Crusaders for Yahweh' is labeled by the SPLC to be a 'Christian identity' group and is placed on the SPLC's 'hate map. The same with the 'Evangelical Latter Day Saints' (mormons), the Jewish Defense League, which SPLC calls 'anti-Arab', and the Border Guardians, which is labeled by the SPLC as "anti-immigration."

More at http://www.burntorangereport.com/diary/14219/republican-attorney-general-candidate-barry-smitherman-objects-to-identifying-hate-groups .

Texas LG candidate Jerry Patterson says don’t secede from the union — just throw liberal states out

Remember Rick Perry and secession? That’s so yesterday. Ever-quotable lieutenant governor candidate Jerry Patterson says he has a better idea. Texas shouldn’t secede – it should just make the U.S. better by throwing liberal states out. California, New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut. “I get lots of questions all the time, ‘Well, we should secede.’ I say, ‘No, I’ve got a better idea. Instead of secession, I’m a proponent of expulsion,’” he told the AP. “I want to kick about four states out of this union.”

Patterson’s idea about state ideological cleansing underscores his distinctive political persona. A 2nd Amendment-loving, motorcycle-riding Marine – currently the state’s land commissioner – Patterson is running for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor to replace incumbent David Dewhurst. It’s a crowded contest. He trails in money, but is good at grabbing headlines to present himself as the most conservative candidate in the field.

On guns: He always has a .22-caliber Magnum in his boot and sometimes a .380 in his waistband. “It’s like a smoke detector: You don’t turn it on just for when you think you might get a fire.”

On the Endangered Species Act: It protects “critters that probably ought to die anyway. I mean, the blind salamander? How long are we gonna let that little bugger last?”

More at http://trailblazersblog.dallasnews.com/2013/10/texas-candidate-jerry-patterson-says-dont-secede-from-the-union-just-throw-liberal-states-out.html/ .

Confederate flag ban could go to court

by Jason Collins

(Bee) County leaders are in what they describe as a no-win situation following a ban on the flying the Confederate battle flag by those renting the Expo Center.

They cannot make everyone happy, and ultimately, it could end up in court despite the county attorney assuring them their actions were within legal bounds.

Nothing as of yet has been filed, although Judge David Silva said this was possible.

It is a position that is not unique to this county.

“We don’t know the specifics of this case, but people have a constitutional right to free speech, even offensive or racist speech. In our view, the best answer to offensive speech is not government restriction, but more speech,” said Tom Hargis, director of communications, American Civil Liberties Union of Texas.

During their Sept. 23 court meeting, when the ban occurred, commissioners were told that the order was legal.

Mike Knight, county attorney, said, “That is fine if the court wants that in the contract. You simply need to vote on that issue....”

The ban passed three to two. Silva along with Commissioners Carlos Salazar and Eloy Rodriguez voted in favor of the ban.

Commissioners Dennis DeWitt and Ken Haggard voted against it.

This comes up now because in only a few weeks, residents will gather for Western Week — which includes a barbecue cook-off.

Rodriguez said that he received a call after last year’s celebration that one of the competitors was flying the Confederate flag. That group was also flying at least four other flags, including the U.S. and Texas flags.

“The flying of the Confederate battle flag or similar flags, including the Texas Confederate flag, has no place in our society,” Rodriguez said during that meeting.

“The flag certainly has no place in Bee County.”

Silva said that he knows this issue is far from over.

He said it could even go to court — if someone files suit against the county over the issue.

In July, the Associated Press reported that Lexington’s ban on the flying of the Confederate flag on city light poles does not violate a heritage group’s right of free speech, a federal appeals court ruled.

“The Sons of Confederate Veterans had challenged the ordinance, saying it violated its constitutional rights and violated a 20-year-old court order when it enacted the ordinance in September 2011,” AP reported.

The appeals court panel said that, while the First Amendment guarantees free speech in a public forum, it “does not guarantee access to property simply because it is owned or controlled by the government.”

Last year, Hays High School board members issued a ban on the flag anywhere on district property.

The board previously removed the flag from the “home of the Mighty Rebels” 12 years prior.

The school’s superintendent, Jeremy Lyon, told reporters, “You can debate it endlessly as to what the meaning of the Confederate flag is. I do have a great respect for history, but the reality is that it’s a racially insensitive symbol.”

Also in 2012, Ben Jones, one of the stars of the hit television show “The Dukes of Hazzard,” began waging a war of words with NASCAR after they banned the General Lee from Phoenix International Raceway because the car’s rooftop Confederate flag.

“It’s political correctness run amuck, and I’m outraged,” Jones told Fox News.

This past Saturday, hundreds gathered along I-95, just south of Richmond, for the raising of the Stars and Bars.

The Virginia Flaggers erected the 10-by-15-foot flag atop a 50-foot flagpole.

The group says the goal is to “remind drivers of our honorable Confederate history and heritage.”

Knight said that Bee County’s policy was in line with what is permissible.

“We do control the use of that property subject to the other laws of the land,” he said.

Maintaining a balance between free speech and fair use is not always easy.

“This court, in its discretion, sits to balance those,” he said.

Silva said that he recognizes the historical significance of the flag.

“The Confederate flag is part of who we are,” he said. However, its use by hate groups has altered its meaning for so many that allowing it to be displayed would not be appropriate.

Source: http://mysoutex.com/view/full_story/23800285/article-Confederate-flag-ban-could-go-to-court?instance=bee_regional_news

Ted Cruz besieged by hecklers — and relishes the combat

WASHINGTON — Woe to the heckler who rises to challenge Sen. Ted Cruz.

The Texas senator — champion debater at Princeton and veteran of Supreme Court oral arguments — cannot be flapped, daunted or deterred. The dozen or so protesters who infiltrated his speech Friday at the Values Voter Summit learned that the hard way.

The supply of protesters ran out before Cruz’s stash of putdowns and comebacks.

Cruz started gently, celebrating the right to free speech when a man near the front of the hotel ballroom stood and demanded to know why he opposes a path to citizenship in the immigration debate. The next interruption got a harsher response.

“President Obama’s paid political operatives are out in force today. … Because the men and women in this room scare the living daylights out of them,” he said.

More at http://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/headlines/20131011-ted-cruz-besieged-by-hecklers--and-relishes-the-combat.ece .

If you really want to make the shutdown hurt, go after beer

Go ahead, kick an elderly couple out of their home because it sits on federal land. Expend more time, energy and resources to fake-close the World War II Memorial in Washington than just to leave it alone.

Make it hurt, as much as possible. It’s the Obama way, not to mention the Chicago way.

But there are lines, and you best not cross them. Beer being one.

Our Sarah Mervosh had the story today:

The government shutdown is putting a strain on breweries across the country and in North Texas after an obscure federal agency that quietly approves new breweries, recipes and labels closed.

The shutdown could create huge delays throughout the rapidly growing craft industry, whose customers expect a constant supply of inventive and seasonal beers.

The setback comes just months after Texas lawmakers helped clear the way for craft brewery businesses to sell their products to consumers on-site.

But now, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, or TTB, has shut down. The little-known arm of the Treasury Department will continue to process taxes from existing permit holders, but applications for new breweries or beers are on hold.

More at http://dallasmorningviewsblog.dallasnews.com/2013/10/if-you-really-want-to-make-the-shutdown-hurt-go-after-beer.html/ .

Shutdown: Texas Democrats prod Sen. Ted Cruz and other Texas Republicans

Texas Democrats in Congress, led by Houston Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, call on Texas Republicans to help reopen the government. From left: Reps. Beto O'Rourke of El Paso, Al Green of Houston, Marc Veasey of Fort Worth, Jackson Lee, Joaquin Castro of San Antonio, Pete Gallego of Alpine, and Gene Green of Houston. (staff/Emily Wilkins)

WASHINGTON – Texas Republicans have been star players in the federal budget showdown. On Thursday, Texas Democrats sought to shame them into returning to a bygone era of cooperation – in particular, Sen. Ted Cruz, a prime mover behind demands to block any budget that funds Obamacare.

“If you’re going to lead, you have to know where you’re going,” said Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, referring to Cruz. “As he led the country toward the shutdown, he should play a role in fixing this.”

Most of the state’s dozen U.S. House members who are Democrats joined in a show of force at the Capitol. They sent a letter to Cruz and senior Sen. John Cornyn, the deputy GOP leader in Senate, asking for a meeting and urging them to end the stalemate.

They warned of escalating problems for Texas as the shutdown persists, from widespread furloughs at NASA’s Johnson Space Center to looming delays in paychecks for border guards and customs officers in El Paso.

More at http://trailblazersblog.dallasnews.com/2013/10/shutdown-texans-in-congress-pressure-sen-ted-cruz-and-other-texas-republicans.html/ .

Texas Execution #506 Is Personal To Me

By Carol Morgan

“Putting down” a human being in the same manner as an animal is abhorrent to me. The death penalty seems pointless. It doesn’t deter crime. It doesn’t rehabilitate the offender. It doesn’t bring back the dead. It doesn’t bring closure to either family.

So, what, exactly, is its purpose?

It’s no more than a public spectacle like the entertainment in ancient Rome; a relic of a barbaric past. One person kills another and then we kill the offender to show that killing is wrong. Where’s the lesson? An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. It’s quite remarkable that America is the only industrialized nation in the world that still employs the death penalty.

The point of my writing this is not to protest the death penalty, but to ask questions: What is it that makes a young man go wrong? What could have been done to prevent this? Are we any closer to preventing these mistakes than we were one hundred years ago? Does anyone care?

Michael Yowell was the 506th execution in Texas, a state that supposedly recognizes the sanctity of life.

I knew him. My memories are of an impulsive and restless 13 year old in my seventh grade class from thirty years ago. One-on-one, Michael was easy to talk to; a sweet boy with an impish smile who bonded easily in private; so different from the brash and off-putting exterior he employed as protection. In a classroom situation, he was very different. He jockeyed for attention and tormented other students. I was forced to place him alone at a table near my desk to keep him on-task and out of trouble. Some days he drifted in and out sleep and other days he hovered over his books and papers, nervously hyper-vigilant, as if he was afraid of those around him. The faculty made various attempts at intervention, but they were summarily dismissed by his parents. They claimed we were unfair; singling him out and picking on him. We gave up. He moved on to high school and I never thought about him again until 1999.

Even though it takes a village to raise a child, purists will claim his fate was the result of his own personal choices. The uncomfortable truth is that it’s somewhere in between; we all bear some responsibility when this happens. From his parents in denial to his drug-using friends who irresponsibly enabled him, then onto teachers, psychiatrists, and over-worked probation and parole officers who gave up too easily, followed by pro-bono lawyers merely going through the motions of their professions; prosecutors and judges using another’s misfortune to score political points or earn a brief mention in a law journal.

He’s not the only former student of mine who lost his way in life. Addictions, crimes, imprisonments, executions. Some took their own life; others died in pointless violence because of a poor choice of friends. I’m the unfortunate curator of story after story that stacks endlessly upon a mountain of other stories. All of us unknowingly greased their facile falls through the cracks. Of course, it’s true that they failed themselves, but in our frustration, we contributed to their failure.

The years that span 12-18 are dangerous years. They are a narrow precarious bridge to adulthood where a boy or girl can tumble over the edge at any time.

In past years, at the beginning of every school year, I buried myself in the school vault to pore over the permanent records of the 150-plus students in my classes. I familiarized myself with their personal situations along with their academic strengths and weaknesses. I did so to prepare for the challenges that awaited me over the next 180 days. The brown envelopes were a time capsule; a fascinating mini-biography of each student’s life.

There were pictures of my students as kindergarteners and third graders with gap-toothed smiles; a haircut and clothing that reflected the trends of the time. Their educational careers began hopefully with comments such as “eager to learn” or “sweet boy”, but the comments quickly evolved to less-flattering adjectives like lazy, stubborn, or hostile. Those comments distressed me. No nine-year-old should be saddled with those labels so prematurely. They easily become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

At one time, all of these sweet innocent children were someone’s joy and hope for the future. What happened? What changed? Life, in all of its bizarre twists and turns, intervened; divorce, disease, family addictions, a job loss, a breadwinner’s disability or the bad luck of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. All of it was the conductor’s switch that derailed their life to an alternate track. Usually, drugs and alcohol followed; an anesthetic to deaden the pain of their troubles and sense of worthlessness.

Poverty and working class homes were more likely to contribute to the dark road, but the wealthy homes of busily-distracted doctors, lawyers, and entrepreneurs weren’t immune. The “difficult” children of divorced parents bounced from house-to-house and many times a much-younger stepmother hosted keg parties every weekend, effectively pushing other vulnerable teens off into danger. The only difference between the wealthy and poor was the banishment of their offspring to expensive schools like Hockaday or St. Mark’s, instead of Texas’ prisons. The wealthy can easily purchase interventions for their children that working class parents cannot.

Of course, there were always success stories; proof that a combination of attention from caring adults and the student’s inherent resiliency could result in miracles. Sometimes love never failed, but sometimes it wasn’t enough. Maybe no one could have saved them or perhaps everyone could have saved them; that riddle remains unanswered.

I only know that those youthful fresh faces of the past haunt my dreams to this very day. I realize it’s a misplaced and undeserved guilt, but I wanted so desperately to save them ALL and I failed.

Educators and parents spend a lot of time and effort in constructing lives. Psychologists, criminologists, and interventionists spend time reconstructing broken and damaged lives, but few of us think of deconstructing a failed life to analyze it and prevent its cruel repetition in another. We simply count the ones that crash and burn as a cautionary tale.

We added one more this evening.


RIP, Michael Yowell. May you find the peace in your next life that eluded you in this one.


Carol Morgan is a career counselor, writer, speaker, former Democratic candidate for the Texas House and the award-winning author of Of Tapestry, Time and Tears, a historical fiction about the 1947 Partition of India. Follow her on Twitter @CounselorCarol1, by email at elizabethcmorgan@sbcglobal.net, on Facebook: CarolMorgan1 and her writer’s blog at www.carolmorgan.org


Cross-posted in Good Reads forum.
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