Recently in Politics Category

Today's editorial in our local newspaper notifies readers that the publication will no longer issue endorsements for political candidates, ending what I assume is a decades-long practice that still exists at many - if not most - print media. [The practice of political endorsements by newspapers goes back more than 150 years, according to this fascinating analysis.]
On its Facebook page, the Midland Reporter Telegram solicits opinions as to whether it's appropriate for the media to endorse candidates for office. The responses weren't numerous, but they were unanimous in condemning the practice.
I don't care one way or the other. Whether it arises from a multi-person board or a single editor, a newspaper or magazine endorsement carries no more weight with me than that of any other reasonably informed individual. In fact, an explicit endorsement is much preferred from the more insidious implicit endorsements that often permeate a publication through biased reporting and slanted coverage of the candidates and campaigns. Figure out a way to end that and I'll support your Nobel prize nomination.
In fact, the on-the-record endorsements have often served as validation for my own positions, although perhaps in a different way than the publication intended. For example, it's almost guaranteed that when the New York Times endorses a candidate for office, that person's opponent will get my support. (The last Republican presidential candidate endorsed by the Times was Dwight Eisenhower, in 1952. It's hard to believe, but I was too young to vote.) In the unlikely event that that newspaper ever adopts a bias-free reporting philosophy (and hires a staff that can put it in place), my entire political strategy will be cast adrift*.
*Just kidding. I have no political strategy.
I don't write about political matters very often, primarily because it's just not that much fun. But sometimes a story comes along that demands the widest possible platform. [Note: That last sentence has nothing whatsoever to do with Gov. Christie or his alleged TrafficConeJamNeenerNeenerMayorGate. Unless you think it does.]

The revelation that the Democrats' ├╝ber-liberal Texas gubernatorial golden girl candidate, Wendy Davis, might have fudged just the teensiest bit on her biography is one of those compelling story lines that needs wider distribution, because I doubt you're going to see much about it in the national media. And if you think this is just a Texas issue, you're probably missing the bigger picture. Like it or not, Texas politics have a way of morphing into national politics.

Anyway, the Dallas Morning News reports that Davis "blurred key facts" about her travails as a single mom who pulled herself up by her bootstraps and graduated from Harvard Law School through sheer determination and grit. It's a great story, at least until the facts sort of mess it up.

Here are the key parts of the DMN report:
Davis was 21, not 19, when she was divorced. She lived only a few months in the family mobile home while separated from her husband before moving into an apartment with her daughter.

A single mother working two jobs, she met Jeff Davis, a lawyer 13 years older than her, married him and had a second daughter. He paid for her last two years at Texas Christian University and her time at Harvard Law School, and kept their two daughters while she was in Boston. When they divorced in 2005, he was granted parental custody, and the girls stayed with him. Wendy Davis was directed to pay child support.
In other words, the true single parent was actually her ex-husband, an apparently very beneficent man who cashed in his 401K and took out a loan to pay for Wendy's Harvard education. In case you're wondering, an academic year at Harvard Law School is the tune of $79K (today; granted, it was a bit cheaper in 1993 when Wendy's ex-husband's investment paid off...for her, anyway). Oh, and tuition nowadays at TCU is a cool $36,500 per semester, so multiply that times four and add and stir.

I freely admit that I don't like what Wendy Davis stands for. Her aggressively pro-abortion agenda is odious to me, and I can think of few things worse than to have her as our next governor. That alone is sufficient reason for me to speak out against her agenda. But as we get to know more about the "real" Wendy, it should become even more obvious that voters haven't up to this point gotten a true picture of the glamorized "crusader." 
From today's Midland Reporter-Telegram, in a report on the City Council's recent goal-setting retreat:
Mayor Wes Perry brought one idea to the table that could provide a major thoroughfare from downtown to Loop 250. He said Midland Airpark could relocate so that "A" Street becomes a major north-to-south road, but it all depends on approval of the Federal Aviation Administration.
"We have to consider everything and look at all our options," Perry said regarding the limited discussion of the "A" Street expansion during the retreat. "If we can do it, great. If not, that's OK. We have to think outside the box, as though we are not limited."

I had to read it twice to make sure I wasn't hallucinating. Airpark, for you non-residents, is a municipal airport that at one time resided on the outskirts of Midland but which is now completely surrounded by businesses, housing, and a thriving community college. It's also the closest thing we have to a sacred cow, politically shielded from any suggestion that its location might be a detriment to the economic well-being of the city due to the money and power of the relative few who value the field due to its proximity to their offices, and the convenience of access to their private aircraft.

Shielded until now, that is. Mayor Perry is the first high-ranking city official (who also happens to be a prominent businessman) in my memory to come out on record as suggesting that we should seriously consider relocating the airport. It will be interesting to see if his observations gain any traction.

I've previously expressed my opinion on this website about the advantages of freeing up almost 400 acres of prime real estate for commercial, retail, and residential development (and without getting too deep into the public safety aspects of its location, despite a number of crash-related fatalities over the years). And I've gotten some negative response, primarily from those in the aviation community who seem to think the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

But as the city continues to grow, the inaccessibility of the airport acreage looms larger. Hundreds of people - and perhaps thousands - are forced to drive four extra miles every day to get to and return from their offices on "A" Street south of Loop 250, as the east runway approach has removed the possibility of direct access. The mayor's suggestion that we look at extending "A" Street past the airport so that it connects with the Loop is commonsense, as well as an example of favoring the majority over the minority.

The numbers are interesting. For the 12-month period ending September 26, 2012, the FAA reports that the airport averaged 77 "aircraft operations" per day. One takeoff equals one operation, as does one landing, as does one touch-and-go or low altitude pass (such as common in flight lessons). For comparison, Midland International Airport averages about 200 operations per day. Airpark is a busy little airfield, but I suspect a lot of that activity is related to flight lessons.

From an economic perspective, the question that needs to be answered is whether that land is worth more to the citizens of Midland as an airport or as developable real estate. The land is on the books with an appraisal of more than $17 million, but since it's owned by the city, there's no tax revenue. However, fees associated with the airport's operations generated 6% of the city's revenue in 2011 - about $9.6 million, according to the city's annual report. I don't have a rule-of-thumb to estimate what sort of tax revenues might be generated if the land was developed for private use; that would obviously depend on the types of development. And the calculus is complicated by the city's recent plans to offer the acreage for oil and gas leasing.

Nevertheless, the mayor's observation that extending "A" Street would be beneficial to a large number of citizens is indisputably accurate. I'm happy to see that the issue is being raised for discussion, and I hope it will generate some serious evaluation - the kind that involves an actual economic analysis rather than emotional and political posturing.

Inauguration Day 2009: Revisited
January 21, 2013 8:08 PM | Posted in: ,

Here's what I wrote four years ago.
We rejoice today, for at long last, the fires of Mordor have been quenched, and the evil intentions of The Empire have been thwarted. How bright is that light that signals a new dawn, where Jupiter has finally aligned with Mars, and Starbucks lattes, thick with the foam of freedom, are but one thin dime, freeing us from yet another burden that had long dragged down our inherent optimism. 

If I seem a bit giddy, it's just that I'm overwhelmed by emotions today, as I confront the reality of an historic occasion. I mean, really, who ever thought we'd see the day when Arizona would make it to the Super Bowl? *rimshot* 

OK. I'm just funnin' you; I'm not that big a fan of the Cardinals (although I am a Kurt Warner fan). And, yeah, the frenzy over today's presidential inauguration has pegged the Hype-O-Meter at eleven. But, you know what? I like it. I'm thrilled that once again, America has the opportunity to demonstrate to the rest of the world how a free people carries out a significant transition of power at the highest levels of government. I'm ecstatic that politicians are "reaching across the aisle" in a spirit of cooperation and mutual commitment to the common good...however fleeting this phenomenon may be. I'm proud of the fact that at a very real level, we as a nation have seemed to finally put behind us a barrier to opportunity that at one time seemed insurmountable. And regardless of the cynicism that invariably dogs the sentiment, I'm buoyed by the hope that free people of good will can work together to further strengthen an already strong nation, and that our shining light on the hill can burn even brighter. 

I'm sure it's no surprise that I didn't vote for Barack Obama, and I strongly disagree with many of his apparent policies. But I've seen nothing to indicate that he's not a man of honor, and I've been impressed with the way he's comported himself in the days since the election. I want to believe that he'll continue to move toward a centrist view on many important issues facing our country, and I've always believed that a nation with the diversity of ours is best served by such a view, regardless of the party in power at any given time. 

So I do face today with the optimism of a new start, but also with a bit of cautionary advice. To those who look to the government as the source of their contentment and happiness, my warning is to be prepared for disappointment. If the best you have is the reliance on human beings to do the right thing on your behalf, I guarantee that you'll find it to be temporary, at best. We as a species are just not cut out for the job, and however superior our form of government may be, it's still energized by humans and thus prone to jumping the tracks at every inopportune moment. 

So, am I a cynic after all? It's OK if you think so, but I don't. I prefer to think that I'm a realist. My true true hope...comes from a Higher Source, one that transcends elections and political parties and all the oh-so-temporary things we seem to think are so important during this portion of our lives. And so it's very easy for me to wrap this up with this sincere wish for the day, and the days ahead: may God bless President Obama, and may God continue to bless America.

If that doesn't prove that I'm a moron, nothing will. The only prescient portion of that post addressed the uniqueness of the Arizona Cardinals making it to the Super Bowl (and even they lost that year). [By the way, I take little solace in the fact that many of you agreed with me at the time; your comments mercifully disappeared into the ether when the Gazette was rolled out in a shiny new wrapper not long after the preceding post.]

President Obama has been consistent in his ability to disappoint me in almost every fact of his administration. In my opinion, as a nation we're more polarized than ever, Obama is less centrist than ever, Congress is less effective than ever, and his administration has made our Constitution less relevant than ever. He's made it clear in word and deed, time and again, that he holds in contempt some of the values that are most important to me. The federal government is now more confiscatory and intrusive than ever before, and if Obama is not directly to blame, he's at least the poster child for the changes. The highlight of Inauguration Day 2013 is that it marks the beginning of the end of his term and I pray that we can somehow survive the next four years with our liberties intact.

Four years older and, I hope, four years wiser, and my prayer now is simply, "have mercy on us, O Lord, for we are a people of unclean hands and unclean lips."

Fact Checking Rick Perry's Political Foes
August 15, 2011 7:52 AM | Posted in:

Herein follows one of the few partisan political posts you'll find on the Gazette. Read at your own risk.

Now that Rick Perry has officially announced his candidacy for president, we can expect name-calling, finger-pointing, distortions, innuendos, rationalizations, and outright lies to rain down from his opponents - in other words, a typical presidential campaign.

Now, I've never been a rabid fan of Perry, despite his being a fellow Aggie, West Texan, and political conservative. He's also a career politician and I have an instinctive distrust of those folks (even as I grudgingly acknowledge that someone has to fill such roles). Nevertheless, I think he's gotten some unfair criticism from Democrats, and even some centrist Republicans, and that will continue and intensify unless (and perhaps, despite) the actual facts are generally understood by the voters.

To that end, I'd like to draw your attention to a post at the conservative blog, Pesky Truth, in which the author goes into great detail to address Seventeen (17) things that critics are saying about Rick Perry. It's worth reading because it presents a balanced view of the facts that debunk a few widely-held and -communicated misconceptions about Perry's track record as governor of Texas, and about the general state of things in Texas. I learned a few things, and I suspect you will, as well. [Be forewarned; this is a grown-up article, requiring that you actually read a lot of words. But, Gazette readers are accustomed to that. I know you'll do well.]

For example, many people throw out the fact that Texas lags the rest of the country in per student spending for public education. Unfortunately for those folks, the actual results (measured by standardized test scoring) shows that Texas students are actually performing better than the national average in every category. And to my mind, the results count more than the process. (Now, whether standardized testing is a valid measure of learning is a whole other debate.)

The writer also points out that even on some issues where Perry's stance was questionable and even offensive to many Texans - the so-called "Trans-Texas Corridor" being a prime example - once he realized that the citizens were massively opposed, he backed off completely, a huge contrast to the damn-the-electorate, full-speed ahead philosophy of many in Washington, D.C. today. I also liked the writer's response to those who dismiss Texas job growth as being limited to "low-paying jobs": Here's a thought...isn't a low paying job in Texas better than being jobless in another state?

I don't know if Perry is the candidate who can unseat Obama...and that will be my basic criterion for deciding who to vote for. But at the very least, it would be nice if voters would actually do a little homework and apply some fact-based critical thinking to the slings and barbs that will be thrown his way during the campaign. And when one goes to vote, the true question is not whether the country needs Perry's style of politics, but whether it needs Texas's brand of states-rights independence and the unquestionably effective policies that power its economic engine.
Some random thoughts - serious and not-so - about "Weinergate," the latest example of how skillful a politician can be in shooting his own foot. If only Rep. Anthony Weiner were so competent as a leader.

  • The seductiveness of the internet to cause one to do stupid things cannot be overstated. It's worse than alcohol or drugs in causing otherwise reasonable (and I'll give Rep. Weiner the benefit of the doubt here) people to do things that in other settings they'd find sick and laughable. You know, like we who are looking at him now do. "It couldn't happen to me," you're thinking right about now. Yeah, sure.

  • But, I confess that I am sorely, sorely disappointed in the internet. What are things coming to when a grown man like Rep. Weiner strikes up an "illicit" conversation with a "26-year old female" and it turns out that he's actually conversing with a 26-year old female, and not a 48 year old bald guy in boxer shorts? Is nothing sacred anymore?

  • Oh, by the way, did you catch Matt Laurer's interview with Andrew Breitbart on The Today Show? There was the faintest whiff of an inkling of the beginning of grudging MSM acknowledgment that, well, a blogger can actually be a legitimate source of news reporting.

  • Morally, Rep. Weiner has some obvious shortcomings (we're not going to pander to the lowest common denominator and address any physical characteristics), but politically, his biggest weakness is an utter failure to lie convincingly. Did anyone in America buy his "I've been hacked" story? Nope. Even John Edwards did a better job. So, Rep. Weiner, next time you're in this position (and we'll never say "never," not as long as Andrew Breitbart is holding a few more cards), you'd do well to heed the advice of that great Texas sage, Delbert McClinton:

Voting Daze
October 29, 2010 3:37 PM | Posted in: ,

I stood in line about twenty minutes today, waiting to cast my vote on the last afternoon of early voting. There were about a hundred people in line when I got to the polling place, and that number stayed steady throughout the time I was there.

Entering the building where the voting was taking place, you couldn't see the entire line of voters, as it went around a blind corner and down a long hallway. People coming in could see that the line stretched out of the actual polling room, but until they rounded that corner, they didn't really know what they were facing.

I enjoyed watching their facial expressions as they came around that corner. Here's the thing: most of them broke into bemused smiles. I saw very few frowns; heard no angry muttering. I saw no one turn around and walk out. People were there to take care of business, and they weren't going to be dissuaded by a mere inconvenience. It made me proud of my fellow citizens.

I found it easy to be patient. Debbie and I once stood in line for three hours to vote, so twenty minutes was a relative walk in the park. I've probably written about this before, but one of the advantages of periodically deleting your archives is that you can recycle material and no one can prove it without going to some trouble. Anyway, the year was 1980, when Ronald Reagan was running against an incumbent Jimmy Carter. Reagan won in a landslide (one of the better things that's happened in our country during my lifetime, but we won't get into that right now), and more than 100 million Americans cast votes in that election.

We were living in Garland, Texas, in a new home - our first - and in a new precinct. Our precinct had experienced phenomenal growth since the preceding election - we later discovered that it was, in fact, the fastest growing precinct in the nation - and the voting office wasn't prepared for the turnout. We got to our polling place, a neighborhood elementary school, after work, around 6:00 p.m. as I recall, and the line went out the door, down the block, around the corner, and down that block. We inched our way toward the school, and the sun had set by the time we reached the entrance, where we figured it was just a short wait to vote. Were we ever wrong!

The line then snaked through almost every classroom and up and down every hallway. We saw every inch of that school; I'm surprised they didn't run the lines through the restrooms. The wait was so long that several babies were born, a couple of marriages occurred, and at least one divorce. OK, I exaggerate, but you get the picture. By the time we were finally able to cast our votes and leave, Reagan had already been projected as the winner. In fact, this was the first election where a network used exit polls to project a winner.

Even at that, standing in line for three hours is a minuscule price to pay to participate in the democratic process (even considering the fact that we didn't have cell phones or iPods to provide distractions). Countless people around the world will never experience the privilege of voting for a leader, much less knowing that their vote actually counted.

It's a thing not to be taken lightly, or for granted.
I apologize in advance for another political post, especially to those who don't care about the Texas governor's election, but politics are like a tarbaby...once you get a finger in the mess, it's hard to make a clean break.

In case you haven't heard, Debra Medina's interview on Glenn Beck's radio program yesterday turned out to be an absolute train wreck, both for her and for Beck (although she had a lot more to lose than him, given that he specializes in causing train wrecks). If you missed it, you might want to take a moment to read the transcript posted on Beck's website. I'll wait here.

*whistling* *thumb-twiddling* *heel-rocking*

Pretty cringe-inducing, huh? Now, take a look at what Medina meant to say.

This stands out pretty clearly:
I have never been involved with the 9/11 truth movement, and there is no doubt in my mind that Muslim terrorists flew planes into those buildings on 9/11. I have not seen any evidence nor have I ever believed that our government was involved or directed those individuals in any way.
In order to get a true assessment of the damage done to Medina's campaign for governor, contrast the preceding statement with the Associated Press headline that appears today in newspapers around the state: "Governor candidate Debra Medina: 'Good arguments' US involved in 9/11." While the phrase "good arguments" in that headline are indeed taken directly from Medina's comments, they are also removed from the context that she provided for them: she isn't in possession of all the facts about 9/11, and citizens have the right to question the federal government about everything. She goes on to say that she's not taking a position due to her not having all the facts, and, further, that the issue is irrelevant to the Texas gubernatorial campaign.

Medina's appeal to me all along has been twofold: her passion for state's rights and strict adherence to the US Constitution, and the fact that she's not a career politician. Unfortunately, the latter factor proved to be detrimental yesterday as she gave an unpolished and, frankly, a bumbling answer to a question that someone more experienced would have quickly dismissed. She compounded the problem by going on a tangent about screening her staff that served only to make her sound evasive and unsure. Having heard her speak in person, I know that neither of those descriptions are accurate, but given the absence of nuance in reportage, they're damaging beyond estimation.

The Texas blogosphere is hotly divided today between those who are defending Medina as being honest almost to a fault, and the victim of a nasty, carefully planned setup by Beck, and those who feel that we're at last now seeing the true candidate, an unskilled person in over her head and aligned with fringe political elements.

To me, this was a gigantic misstep for Medina, one that will hurt her already slim chances of getting elected. I was disappointed at her response (while at the same time being outraged at Beck's behavior; but then, he's not a journalist, he's an "entertainer," although his idea of entertainment and mine aren't even in the same universe), and I'm not sure there's enough time before the election for damage control.

Even worse, it's a distraction from the really important issues that should be driving this election:  ensuring that Texas continues to be a leader in preserving and honoring the constitutional rights of states, and ensuring that private property owners in Texas are not overly burdened by governmental interference. To the extent that the Beck interview damages Medina's chances to make that happen, we'll all be losers.

Midland County Republican Womens' Luncheon
February 10, 2010 7:18 PM | Posted in: ,

Warning: If you don't follow Texas politics, then you probably should skip this post. Unless, of course, you want to read about my public humiliation on network TV.

I'm not an avid follower of politics, but something about this year's Texas gubernatorial campaign has energized me. While it could be that I get to type "gubernatorial" so many times - it simply rolls off the keyboard - the fact is that the surfacing of a viable candidate who's not a charter member of the Entrenched Incumbents has interjected a new degree of excitement into the campaign. I'm referring, of course, to Debra Medina, who started the state's silly season as a footnoted afterthought but who has now pulled into a statistical dead heat on the Republican ticket with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson and continues to build momentum.

I was impressed with Medina's performance during one of the early televised debates, where both Governor Rick Perry and Hutchinson viewed her primarily as a foil with which to attack each other. That tactic backfired on both of them, as she not only helped each of them make their points that the other was a doofus (that's a sophisticated term I picked up in poli sci class at A&M), but came out looking like she had more substance than either of them.

I was impressed enough to make a small financial contribution to her campaign, something that I last did when Reagan was in office. That was early enough in the campaign that my $25 contribution stimulated a phone call from a reporter with the Austin newspaper wanting to interview me, I suspect much as one might want to better understand the motivation of someone who's taken up flagpole sitting while watching an oncoming tornado. I declined to return his phone call (I never have entirely trusted those legacy media types).

Medina was one of the speakers at today's Midland Country Republican Womens' luncheon, along with Senator Hutchinson and a representative from Perry's campaign. (Perry was in Odessa on Monday, so I guess he figured two days in the Permian Basin was one day too many.) Also on the speaker list was Representative Mike Conaway, running for re-election against businessmen Chris Younts and Al Cowan. Both Cowan and Younts did good jobs of explaining why they were running, but this is Conaway's 'hood and they got a polite but cool reception. One will not make up any ground trying to attack Conaway's conservatism, despite his vote for the first TARP bailout. They tried, but Conaway went on last and calmly dismantled their accusations as he explained that vote. I certainly came away mollified.

Mike did make a point of informing the audience that while he had a Facebook page, he didn't Twitter because he thought it sounded dumb to "twit" [sic]. That got a half-hearted laugh, but not from me. Both of his opponents have Twitter feeds for their campaigns, and Medina is also doing a great job of using hers (@debmedina) to push her agenda. (I was going to tweet the proceedings but the cellphone police shut us down. Afterward, I decided that they really were targeting actual cellphones and that I could have "twitted" my way through the luncheon.)

Then, the real show began, the reason for the packed ballroom. Debra Medina spoke first, and I have to tell you that if she doesn't win the nomination, it won't be because she's failed to explain what her priorities are, and why she thinks they're important to the state of Texas. She made a great case for why the 10th Amendment of the US Constitution allows for "nullification and interposition" of federal legislation which encroaches upon the sovereign rights of states.

Medina also unleashed a scathing commentary on Rick Perry's job creation claims, pointing out that while it was true that Texas has had a net increase in jobs over the past year or two, they've all been government jobs; the private sector has actually had a small decrease.

The Perry rep and Kay Hutchinson spoke next. I don't recall either of them directly addressing Medina's comments or issues, although they both seemed to go out of their way to assure us that they, too, were big proponents of personal property ownership. Perry's representative trotted out the same statistics that Medina spoke to regarding job creation, but, of course, declining to make the distinction between public and private sector employment.

Hutchinson spent most of her allotted time criticizing Perry. It was almost as if she doesn't really believe she's in a dogfight with Medina, but that works to Medina's benefit. To her credit, KBH did acknowledge Perry's role in getting tort reform passed in Texas, but hammered him on private property rights (the Trans-Texas Corridor will be Perry's Issue That Haunts Forever, and rightly so).

Medina is what I had hoped Sarah Palin would be, but, sadly, isn't. She's done her homework; she's got her agenda; she wants to get it done and then get out of the way. I came away more impressed than ever. Heck, I even grabbed a yard sign, and let the local ABC-TV affiliate interview me on-camera, and this time it didn't seem to be a novelty interview. The Medina signs were going fast.

Yeah, I was feeling pretty cocky about being a political pundit and all, until I got home and saw the big hunk of lettuce plastered over one of my front teeth. Surely, they would have pointed that out before the interview, if it was noticeable. Surely. Well. No, they probably decided I was just having a bad dental day, and were too polite to mention it. So much for my future as a political analyst.

Beck Fisks Huffington
February 3, 2010 9:42 PM | Posted in: ,

Back in the Golden Years of Blogging, around 2001, a practice known as "fisking" came about, and it provided many hours of enjoyable snarkiness. If you're relatively knew to blogging, or if you have an actual life, you may not be familiar with the term, which is defined on Wikipedia as:
A point-by-point refutation of a blog entry or (especially) news story. A really stylish fisking is witty, logical, sarcastic and ruthlessly factual; flaming or hand-waving is considered poor form.

I don't see much fisking nowadays (which could be attributed to the fact that I don't spend much time reading political blogs) and I miss it just a bit. So it's good to know that the practice hasn't vanished completely, and in fact has been adopted by the edgier members of the Legacy Media.

Following is a clip of Glenn Beck applying a proper fisking to the infinitely annoying Arianna Huffington. Now, I'm not a big GB fan; his style occasionally approaches the Infinite Annoyance that Huffington has somehow managed to exceed. Nevertheless, our ideologies have much in common, and he's an equal opportunity skewerer when it comes to calling out chumps on both sides of the political aisle (and, believe me, there are plenty of them...enough to fill out, say, a whole branch or two of federal government). And, as he shows in the following video, Beck knows how to administer a proper fisking. Enjoy.

Liberals Apologize to Bush? Inconceivable!
November 13, 2009 10:34 PM | Posted in:

When's the last time you heard a dyed-in-the-wool liberal compliment (much less apologize to) George W. Bush? Yeah, me neither. That's why I'm linking to this remarkable post on Hillbuzz (via Jessica's Well) the writers of which seem to have finally realized that Hope and Change aren't exactly living up to the hype.

I didn't agree with all of W's policies, but I never doubted for a second that he had the best interests of America in mind in every decision he made, and his ability to ignore attacks on his character while focusing on what was truly important is something that sets leaders apart from politicians.

I hope you'll read the above-linked post, and while you're there, scroll down through some of the comments, as there's additional wisdom to be found. Here's one example:
When we start looking at the human beings running for office and not the party in front of their names, we get as close to the Founding Fathers' ideal of this country as possible. And we scare the hell out of the two parties trying to divide and conquer.

Austin to do what the state won't
August 28, 2009 3:14 PM | Posted in: ,

In the preceding post, I issued a mild lashing to Texas Governor Rick Perry for vetoing the Safe Passing bill that would have required motorists to give bicyclists and pedestrians at least three feet of clearance. Now I see that the Austin city council is stepping up and doing for its citizens what the governor refused to do for the state's citizens.

As "Newsroom Stew" puts it, it does seem odd to suggest that Midland should follow Austin's lead in, well, just about anything (full disclosure: Stew and I are both Aggies, and predisposed by genetic make-up to disagreeing with just about anything coming out of Austin), but in this case I think they're getting it right. Of course, Stew was probably referring more to the ban on texting while driving more than the safe passing issue, but I do agree that both would be welcome additions to our local ordinances.

It doesn't hurt that the ACLU is opposed to them.

Link Love
August 28, 2009 8:24 AM | Posted in: ,

Ran across a few interesting links I think you might enjoy as you contemplate the wonder that is Friday.

  • Now, about that cover... is a post from the author of the book by the same name, and it deals with how the quite striking cover of his book came to be. The photo shown on the front cover depicts a book that has been soaked in water and the pages arranged into a striking organic shape. This technique is the brainchild of Houston-based photographer Cara Barer, who is quick to point out that no valuable books are harmed in the making of her pictures.

    I feel compelled to note that my wife has at times created this effect by nodding off in the bathtub with book in hand.

  • And speaking of bending paper to your will, check out these amazing origami creations by Won Park. Given the value of the dollar lately, this is as good a use as any for a bill.

  • I'm a sucker for panoramic photography, because I can't figure out how to do it myself. Here's a great example, taken at Shoshone Point in the Grand Canyon National Park. If you have a fast internet connection and faster computer, click the "full screen" link to get the full vertigo-inducing effect.

  • And, last but not least, I was happy to see that Texas Governor Rick Perry garnered Bicycling Magazine's "Wheelsucker of the Month" award for his veto of the Safe Passing bill at the end of the last legislative session. Perry claims to be a cyclist, and, indeed, recently injured himself during a ride, so you'd think he'd have more empathy. But he's a politician first and foremost, and thus can't be counted on to do the right thing. Anyway, BikeTexas, the state's cycling advocacy group, has an online petition urging passage of the bill (while simultaneously expressing displeasure at the veto). If you're a Texas cyclist, pedestrian, farm equipment operator, or "concerned motorist" (which should pretty much encompass all of us), please consider dropping by to sign the petition. It may not accomplish anything more than making me feel better, but this is, after all, all about me.

    The more perceptive among you may also notice a large button on the right side of this page that links to the petition, in case you weren't able to read this far.
If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to

This is the advice on the official White House blog, contained in a post entitled "Facts are Stubborn Things." And, as the White House is no doubt finding out, so is ill-considered, foolish advice.

My guess is that is already choked with countless reports of "fishiness" related to the proposed health reform package. But I'll bet many of those reports aren't exactly what the White House had in mind when it came up with this boneheaded idea (I'm talking about the email forwarding request, not the health reform bill, but only because "boneheaded" isn't adequate to describe the mess of the latter).

If I was thinking about reporting "fishiness" to the White House, I'd probably email them the text of the bill itself, because no opinions or rumors or exaggerations could possibly match the scary reality of the bill itself.

Of course, now that you've read this, I suppose you're obligated to report The Gazette's "fishiness" to the White House. All I ask is that you please spell the name correctly.

"Cowboy"? Better find another insult, pard.
May 29, 2003 3:32 PM | Posted in:

I was just reading about that French play called "George W. Bush ou le triste cowboy de Dieu" (George W. Bush or God's sad cowboy), how the director was bushwhacked (okie doke...pun intended) a while back and the play was shut down for a spell ("for the protection of the actors") and how it's about to start runnin' agin. Who says the French are lily-white cowards? Not me, that's fer durn sure.

Anyway, I don't rightly understand why them little French guys think calling somebody a cowboy is such a big insult. I reckon none of 'em have ever met a real cowboy. I figgered them little French guys would have a better way with words than that, anyhow. Maybe they're just ashamed of their own insults so they're havin' to borrow words from us. I can understand that. If'n you had to go around all day talkin' like you had a mouthful of snails or somethin' I reckon you'd wish for some good old American words, too.

Anyway, I reckon that if the worst thang folks could call me was cowboy, I'd be pretty dang happy with that monicker. 'Cause here's what being a real cowboy means...

  • He don't sit around talkin' about something that needs doin' until it cain't be done...he gits on his horse and he goes and does it.

  • When he tells somebody he's gonna do something, he by gum does it, come hell or high water.

  • There's no friend like a cowboy; he'll tell you when you're wrong, help you make it right, and go to hell and back with you or for you, whichever the situation calls for.

  • He'll go outta his way and three counties over to avoid a fight if'n he sees an honorable way to make peace. But if you back him into a corner -- if you mess with his spread or his kin -- he won't bring a knife to the gunfight.

  • He don't rightly give a snake's butt what you think a him. If you ain't a cowboy yourself, he understands that you just cain't help yourself.

Yessir, I've known plenty a cowboys in my time, and I wouldn't trade a one of 'em for a whole herd of cheese wranglers. But here's the deal: it ain't too late for them little French guys to come around to the cowboy way. But they're gonna have to show a little backbone first. As my pard Texas Bix Bender is fond a sayin', sometimes courage takes nuthin' more than sittin' down, suckin' it in and listenin'. But, in the end, there's always this, agin from ol' TBB: the bigger the mouth, the better it looks shut.

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