Friday, February 29, 2008

United States & Texas #1

A report from the Pew Center on the States released yesterday documents that the United States incarcerates more of its citizens than any other nation in the world. Including China with its 1.3 billion people. For the first time in its history the United States has more than one in every 100 adults in jail or prison. At the start of the new year, 2,319,258 adults were behind bars. That's one in every 99.1 adults in the United States. In stir. The United States leads the world in both the number of citizens jailed and the percentage of its citizens jailed.

Almost $50 billion is spent yearly to incarcerate the 2 million plus inmates.

Texas leads the United States in its number jailed, with 171,790 behind bars. Texas also leads the nation in number of executions.

So, doesn't it seem that maybe there might be something wrong here? Besides there apparently being way too many criminals. Could part of the problem be maybe some things should not be punished by jail time?

For instance, a couple weeks ago I blogged about The Soviet State of Texas. I wrote about what happened to a friend of mine down in Corpus Christi over a bounced $20 check from years prior. For a few days she was one of the 1 in 99.1 adults in jail. Read what she had to say about her experience in what I call the Texas Gulag, but which she refers to as a Concentration Camp.

"I saw more pain in that Concentration Camp of torture than I ever need to see again. The Judge in Dallas who wanted to extradite me back to Dallas to account for this $20 check to Kroger I don't even remember. It was my worst nightmare. They held me with no charges from 8:30am my last day until 11:30pm that night. I thought I was gonna die there. They took me off all my meds and provided no treatment for my diabetes. I went thru withdrawal from all my meds. You can't imagine."

The U.S. frequently complains about China's supposed human rights abuses. I wonder if someone can get thrown in jail in China over a bounced check?

Such things don't just happen in Texas. I have another friend who had a similar experience, but this was up in Washington. This also was over money, and in my opinion, a malicious prosecution by an unscrupulous, amoral prosecutor. The victim was also a female, she also was denied her meds. (why do I know so many female jailbirds?) On arrival at the jail she was strip searched and spent her first night chained to a toilet that was used by dozens of others. The judge was sympathetic to her plight and released her after 3 days.

Til I heard her story I did not realize such things happened in America. Good Christian human rights loving nation that we are, land of the free, home of the brave. The majority of Americans consider themselves God-fearing Christians. Isn't one of Jesus's things something like "that which you do to the weakest among you, you do to Me."?

There are too many people thrown into jail for nonsensical things. It needs to stop. Meanwhile, O.J. remains free. As are many other actual serious crime perpetrators. While who knows how many modern day Jean Valjeans are having their lives ruined because they were so hungry they took a loaf of bread without asking? Or bounced a check? Or didn't realize calling a prosecutor an idiotic baboon would result in a vendetta that would end in jail time?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

To Blog

Or not to Blog. The novelty begins to wear thin. I thought this blog thing might be a fun venue to spew my particular brand of unique perspective. But when you have only one person reading your particular brand of unique perspective it starts to seem just a tad self indulgent. That and sort of a sad waste of time. Sure, it is fun to make fun of that sad excuse for a local paper that I continue to buy, that being the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. And even that is a sad indicator of the sad state of my mind, as in today there was yet one more ripe to make fun of thing in that paper and I just could not muster the energy to say a word about it. And now, these few hours later, I've already forgotten what it was that somehow provoked my umbrage instinct.

It doesn't help the sad state of my deteriorated imagination that we are again suffering from balmy, open the windows, temperatures here in Texas. It makes me want to take a nap. If only I could. I've not been able to take a nap in decades. I'm so jealous of those who can. Or those who can sleep on an airplane. How can they manage that? I have trouble sleeping even at the normal go to bed time of the night, sleeping on an airplane is not even remotely possible. I know this one overweight lazy Goober who takes a minimum of 2 naps a day. He has a morning nap and an afternoon nap. And if the day has been especially tiring he adds a 3 nap in the early evening. This sad fool gets up around 5am so that he can manage to get something constructive done and have plenty of time to nap.

It is coming up on 7pm here in the Central Time Zone of the United States. That means I am about 2 hours from my minimum bedtime. Not that I sleep then. I just go to bed and read. I'm still trying to get through Gail Sheehy's book about Hillary called Hillary's Choice. It's exhausting. I don't know how that woman continues to put up with Bill.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Blab of the Day: Dead or Alive?

I don't remember if I mentioned it before, but I subscribe to this Fort Worth newspaper called the Star-Telegram that regularly annoys me. I know a lot of people have issues with various publications, but til I started reading the Star-Telegram I never had that type of issue. In some way on almost every day there is something I'll read in the Star-Telegram that is in some way on some level just wrong.

Like today's example. There is a section of the paper called "Live!". It a fluff page mostly about celebrity news and reviews of plays or concerts. On this page there is a daily feature called "BLAB! OF THE DAY".

Today's Blab was about Valerie Bertinelli. She came to celebrity hood on a TV sit-com a few decades back called One Day at a Time. One of her co-stars was Mackenzie Phillips. Years ago Mackenzie got into some addiction problems that became fodder for the tabloids.

Valerie Bertenelli is the new spokeswoman for Jenny Craig. She was on Oprah and for some reason mentioned a short romance with Steven Spielberg after she auditioned for Raiders of the Lost Ark.

So, this is what this inane Blab thing had to say regarding the above---"Bertinelli was wrong for the film, but Blab! hears her One Day at a Time co-star Mackenzie Phillips did help score drugs for the crew."

Does that strike anyone with any sort of sense of humor as being amusing, witty or even remotely imaginative? Oh yes, that is hilarious, how clever, Mackenzie Phillips had some drug problems, it's so funny to suggest she helped get drugs for the movie crew while her former co-star was trying to be in the film.

Doesn't stuff like this have to get past an editor? Maybe an adult? Before it shows up in print?

Awhile back this Live! page added a little new feature that was in such obvious bad taste that when I first saw it I figured it was someone's idea of a one day only bad practical joke. But the feature remained for quite some time, til finally complaints in Letters to the Editor and likely phone calls and maybe just common sense caused the Star-Telegram to delete the feature.

And what was that feature? It was called, if memory serves, "Dead or Alive". The blurb would name a person, with a short bio. Like "Sonny Bono, Congressman, husband of Cher, mayor of Palm Springs: Dead or Alive?" I think the way it worked, if I remember right, is the next day the paper would let its waiting with bated breath readers know if the person was Dead or Alive.

Right now I can't think of anything tackier that I've ever seen in any legit newspaper. I wonder if anyone got fired for the Dead or Alive lapse in judgement?

I wonder if anyone will get fired over the Blab! of the Day lapses in judgement? I suspect not.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Barack's Wardrobe Malfunction

With the tone getting a bit nasty, tonight's Democrat Primary Debate in Cleveland should be interesting. Nasty may be minimizing. Ugly is likely a better description. I don't quite know what to make of Hillary's Team giving the Drudge Report a photo of Obama wearing native garb. When he was in Africa. Of course, the Hillary side denies giving Drudge the photo and is saying the same thing many others are saying, as in what was this supposed to prove? And a Hillary spokesperson said that Hillary has often donned native garb when in a foreign land.

It's another photo that has been around awhile, that seems much more scandalous to me, living as we do in the post Janice Jackson nipplegate wardrobe malfunction Super Bowl scandal era that brought about the end of civilization as we had known it.

The photo I am referring to is a photo of Barack Obama carousing on a beach. Topless. Totally without upper body garb. In our current era of equal rights between men and women why is it okay for a man to bare his breasts for all the world to see, but if a women does this for just a fraction of a second all hell breaks loose?

But, did this shocking photo end Barack's political aspirations? No, not in the least. But what if it had been Hillary who the paparazzi had shot topless, carousing on a beach? (what a shudder provoking thought) I think it's pretty obvious that such behavior would have ended Hillary's political career.

So, how is that fair? It's okay for Barack Obama to splash about, for all to see, virtually naked, but if Hillary did the same she'd be pilloried? And how is the photo of Barack in native garb controversial, where one of him mostly naked raises nary an eyebrow? In the native garb photo Barack is pretty much covered from head to toe, very little flesh exposed. And he is showing sensitivity to the culture he was visiting.

What twisted mind would make a big deal out of that African garb photo? Likely not the same twisted mind that would make a big deal out of Barack's topless photos. And on a totally unrelated note he looks to be in pretty good shape for a guy who smokes. But he should keep his shirt on.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Academy Awards, Car Wrecks & Iraq

Well, Little Miss Lulu called early this morning. Just as I predicted yesterday she did not watch the Academy Awards except for seeing a bit of it on a TV in a bar in Tacoma called Tempest that caters to mostly a female clientele that Lulu and her husband frequent. I've been to this place once with Lulu and some of her friends. I'd never seen a restroom with so many photos of Marilyn Monroe.

So, last night I made a bowl of popcorn and tried to watch the Oscar show. I don't care for Jon Stewart so that was strike one right there. That show has just become tedious to me. And almost as bizarre as the Super Bowl in how such a fuss is made as if it is something significant if someone wins or doesn't win. It all seems so pompous. I used to like watching it when I lived on the west coast because it came on at 5:30 and was done by 9 or so. And since it is a live broadcast odd things used to happen. Like streaking. But it's been sterile for years now.

The show used to seem sort of like living history. There'd be all these Stars who were Big Stars, but one by one they've mostly died off leaving only a few remaining. And they are old. I think Paul Newman is in his 80s now. I don't know if Elizabeth Taylor still walks. I don't know if Debbie Reynolds can stay out of her wine long enough to attend a long, nighttime event.

Yesterday afternoon I went over to see the Puerto Rican Illegal Alien I've mentioned before. She'd had a stressful week and had left me a couple voice mails. So by mid-afternoon she was self-medicating a bit and somehow spilled a huge glass of spiked water and ice on me. Part of this week's drama was her 15 year old nephew in El Paso had stolen his mother's brand new car and took it for a 2 block joyride when he had a wreck and totaled the car. The kid was not hurt.

The father of the kid is the brother of the Puerto Rican, he is stationed in Iraq. The kid claimed he took the car because he misses his dad so much. I don't quite see the connection. The dad had already been injured once in Iraq, was sent to Germany to recover. That's where the family was stationed. Then the army decided to move them back to the U.S., to El Paso. And then Bush's surge happened and despite being told he would not be sent back to Iraq he got shipped back last August.

My friend up in OK who is moving back to WA who set her property on fire last week also has a kid in Iraq. He is only 25, married, with 3 kids. He was shipped to Iraq with the 3rd kid on the way and has been back for two weeks to see the kid after it arrived. I forget how it was that he ended up in Iraq, it was like he was supposed to be in some officer's training deal, and then he got told it'd look good if he did a tour of active duty during a war and that it'd only be 6 months. But somehow that turned into 15 months. How can they/we send a kid with 3 kids to a war that should never have happened?

Bush should do a tour in Iraq or Afghaniststan when his current job ends. It'd be good for the boy. No one should ever get to send anyone to war who has not been in a war. Or in the military for that matter. Bush's military experience apparently consists of having watched Patton and The Longest day a number of times.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

And the Oscar Goes to Lulu

Long ago I used to enjoy watching the Academy Awards Show. I can't remember the last time I made it through the whole thing. Certainly not since I've been in Texas because it starts at 7:30 here and runs til almost midnight, well past my bedtime.

I think the last movie I've been to that may have won an Academy Award was Gladiator, I think that is what it was called. Russell Crowe fought Romans. I saw it in the restored Cinerama in Seattle. Paul Allen had a fondness for a landmark Seattle theater and so he bought it and restored it to its former retro glory. I remember the theater more than I remember the movie.

Lulu, you remember Lulu, I'm sure, all you who religiously read every word of my blog, well Lulu went to the grand re-opening of the Cinerama. Her first husband was there doing photographer duty. Lulu found herself talking to a disheveled looking guy. The guy introduced himself, but Lulu had no clue who Paul Allen was. She was just along for the ride. And the free food. So, Lulu goes over to tell her husband that that guy she'd been talking to had invited them to another party, after this one is done, at that EMP thing by the Space Needle. It was then that her husband, let's call him Geff, told Lulu that she'd been talking to Paul Allen. Yes, I know that, Lulu replied, to which Geff informed Lulu that Paul Allen is the Microsoft billionaire who bought the Cinerama and built the EMP (Experience Music Project). Apparently Paul Allen was quite charmed by Lulu's cluelessness and gave her a private tour of the EMP.

As you can see, Lulu is not the most culturally aware person on the planet. Which means, quite obviously, that she will not be watching the Academy Awards tonight. Lulu has a history of encounters with well-known people who she knows nothing about. She had a store in Tacoma called Frona & Zigz. It was a cool store with cool stuff in a cool part of town. A band called U2 was in town to play at the Tacoma Dome. Members of the band somehow found Lulu's store. One of the members of the band bought a vintage bicycle. When the band members left the store one of Lulu's customers came up to her and said something like "I can't believe you were talking to Bono all that time and weren't acting excited." "Bono?" Lulu asked. "Yes, the lead singer for U2". "U2? What's U2?" I do not know if all these years later Lulu has yet bothered to learn what U2 is or who Bono is.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Hillary in Dowtown Fort Worth

Downtown Fort Worth's Tarrant County Courthouse had about 2000 people standing in front of it yesterday about 11am, waiting for Hillary to show up. There were people chanting things like "Hill Yes!" and "Vote for Mama, not Obama". Others waved signs saying things like "I'm Counting on Clinton" and "Hillary, I will Faint for You" and "Bill for First Lady".

Hillary had been at a rally in Dallas where about 1000 people showed up and shivered in the early morning cold.

On the drive from Dallas to Fort Worth a Dallas motorcycle cop, Victor Lozada-Tirado, one month into his motorcycle cop career and assigned yesterday to Hillary's motorcade, crashed against a curb and died. (Lulu please have your first husband read this, maybe it will be the wakeup call he so desperately needs, which may bring him out of his mid-life-Harley-riding-at breakneck-speeds crisis)

So, when Hillary showed up for the Fort Worth rally she told the crowd what had happened and that it wouldn't feel right to hold the rally, that she was cutting it short so she could return to Dallas to express her condolences to the family of the fallen cop. Hillary promised to return to Fort Worth before the March 4 Texas Primary.

After the news the crowd quickly dispersed, leaving downtown Fort Worth in its usual less populated state that you see in the above photo. That is the Tarrant County Court House you see in the photo, looking north up Main Street.

I think the last time I saw a Presidential candidate campaigning was Jimmy Carter in an airplane hangar at Boeing Field in Seattle. That would have been the year he lost to Reagan. That was kind of cool with Air Force One pulling up and the President getting out of the plane. No, just remembered, Jimmy was not the last one I've seen, years after that I went down to UPS in Tacoma, where my baby sister was going to school, to see another loser, Michael Dukakis. I honestly don't remember if we saw him or not. This was not a memorable guy. He seems to have disappeared. Last I heard he was delivering packages for UPS. It seems like the fieldhouse/basketall arena venue was full and so we waited outside with all the others who had been denied entrance. During the 1976 election I saw another losing candidate, Gerald Ford. That was a cool one. The rally was held at a waterfront park in downtown Seattle and Ford came in by hovercraft.

The latest poll in Texas has Hillary and Obama virtually tied. Early voting here is breaking records. In Texas we have what we call the Texas Two Step. You vote once in the primary and then go vote again in a caucus. I've no idea how this works in the assigning delegates part of it.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Hillary's My Girl

I'm tired, worn out and starting to grow tired of this blog thing. Like what is the point? And then I got an email from my #1 Blog Fan a few minutes ago. I've not heard from my other Blog Fan. But #1 asked why I'd not Blogged today, particularly after last night's debate in Austin.

Well, like I've already said, I'm tired, worn out and starting to grow weary of this blog thing. But, you know, one really should not disappoint ones fans, even if there are only two.

Yesterday, while listening to Rush Limbaugh on WBAP Dallas on my cheapie radio headphones while hiking in Tandy Hills Park , Rush annoyed me to the point that I decided I'd blog about that today. But then that sick and tired thing kicked in and I really didn't care. Though I was slightly aroused to slightly caring this morning when reading a column by George Will saying pretty much the same thing nonsense that Rush was spewing.

I've decided there actually is a vast right wing conspiracy. Mrs. Clinton was ahead of her time on that one. It now seems to be a talking point amongst the right wingers that it wears on their last nerve hearing Hillary tout her 35 years of working on children and women's issues. The boom boom boom of the anti-Hillary drumbeat pops way too loud making the bogus claim that she supposedly has never done anything on her own.

Just forget about her working as a lawyer for years, all the way back to working for the Watergate Committee, the woman has traversed the country doing good things, well before Bill. Like, she made it all the way to Alaska where she got a job gutting salmon that lasted one day, with Hillary fired and the plant shut down overnight due to Hillary bitching so effectively regarding the unhealthy conditions. When she says she has been out there working hard to help people for 35 years it turns out to be true. I mean, how many of you have made it to Alaska and caused a salmon factory to shut down? I worked in the salmon industry for less than a week in Alaska in my early 20s. I too was appalled. But unlike Hillary I just scurried home without shutting down a single thing.

Read the Wikipedia article about Hillary, and you will learn she has been doing some significant things that have helped kids and women for decades. Read Gail Sheehy's 'Hillary's Choice' book and you'll read in detail not only all the things Hillary not only worked on, but worked hard on, including rescuing her husband from his foibles on many an occasion. Read how she battled and won against Reagan when the Republicans tried to ruin the Legal Services Corporation she'd help turn into a success.

What that woman did to bring Bill back to life after he was booted out of the Arkansas governor's mansion is amazing. I mean, she was relentless. Bill was in hiding, would not meet the press for months, got increasingly erratic, wandering the aisles of Wal-Mart asking random people what he'd done wrong. While Bill spent his time whining and despondent Hillary relentlessly fixed all that had gone wrong that had turned the Arkansas people off. Including letting it be known she would now be known as Mrs. Bill Clinton, she got contacts (eyeglass replacements, not people contacts), went clothes shopping, had her hair styled and colored for the first time, and, egads, started using makeup, including lipstick for the first time in her life. Bill was re-elected governor. And this time Hillary ruled the mansion with an iron fist. The problems of his first administration were not allowed to re-occur.

Which brings me to last night's debate in Austin. I listened to Hillary with a new respect. I actually liked her. I am putting off doing my early Texas voting til the 29th, lest I change my mind again. But currently I am going to vote for Hillary.

Sadly, this is bad news for Hillary. The person I vote for never wins. Now, Mr. Limbaugh and Mr. Will, I know you are reading this, devote readers of my Blog that you are, you two should be ashamed of yourselves. Now, go do some research on Mrs. Clinton. And then apologize you rude men.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Tragi-Comic Presidency of George W. Bush

My very very best email source of good stuff is Alma the Night Club Singer, currently performing down in Corpus Christi, Texas. Alma was appalled by Hillary's campaign's circus that played out in Nueces County. That is where Corpus Christi is. Alma felt it exploited poor Mexicans for a cheap photo op. Apparently Obama is next, and Alma holds no great liking for Obama either. She's more excited that Justin Timberlake is in the Corpus zone filming a movie. Alma is both a woman and of Mexican-American descent, so she has highly qualified bonafides when passing judgement on either Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Obama.

So, from Alma, "The tragicomic presidency of George W. Bush, in his own words..... "

50. "I promise you I will listen to what has been said here, even though I wasn't here." -at the President's Economic Forum in Waco, Texas, Aug. 13, 2002

49. "We spent a lot of time talking about Africa, as we should. Africa is a nation that suffers from incredible disease." -Gothenburg, Sweden, June 14, 2001

48. "You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test." -Townsend, Tenn., Feb. 21, 2001

47. "I am here to make an announcement that this Thursday, ticket counters and airplanes will fly out of Ronald Reagan Airport." --Washington, D.C., Oct. 3, 2001

46. "Tribal sovereignty means that; it's sovereign. I mean, you're a -- you've been given sovereignty, and you're viewed as a sovereign entity. And therefore the relationship between the federal government and tribes is one between sovereign entities." --Washington, D.C., Aug. 6, 2004

45. "I couldn't imagine somebody like Osama bin Laden understanding the joy of Hanukkah." --at a White House menorah lighting ceremony, Washington, D.C., Dec. 10, 2001

44. "You know, one of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror." --interview with CBS News' Katie Couric, Sept. 6, 2006

43. "The same folks that are bombing innocent people in Iraq were the ones who attacked us in America on September the 11th." --Washington, D.C., July 12, 2007

42. "I'm the commander -- see, I don't need to explain -- I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being president." --as quoted in Bob Woodward's Bush at War

41. "F*ck Saddam. We're taking him out." --to three U.S. senators in March 2002, one year before the Iraq invasion, as quoted by Time magazine

40. "Oh, no, we're not going to have any casualties." --discussing the Iraq war with Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson in 2003, as quoted by Robertson

39. "I will not withdraw, even if Laura and Barney are the only ones supporting me." --talking to key Republicans about Iraq, as quoted by Bob Woodward

38. "I hear there's rumors on the Internets that we're going to have a draft." --presidential debate, St. Louis, Mo., Oct. 8, 2004

37. "I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family." --Greater Nashua, N.H., Chamber of Commerce, Jan. 27, 2000

36. "Do you have blacks, too?" --to Brazilian President Fernando Cardoso, Washington, D.C., Nov. 8, 2001

35. "This foreign policy stuff is a little frustrating." --as quoted by the New York Daily News, April 23, 2002

34. "My plan reduces the national debt, and fast. So fast, in fact, that economists worry that we're going to run out of debt to retire." --radio address, Feb. 24, 2001

33. "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." --on "Good Morning America," Sept. 1, 2005, six days after repeated warnings from experts about the scope of damage expected from Hurricane Katrina

32. "I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully." --Saginaw, Mich., Sept. 29, 2000

31. "I would say the best moment of all was when I caught a 7.5 pound largemouth bass in my lake." --on his best moment in office, interview with the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, May 7, 2006

30. "They misunderestimated me." --Bentonville, Ark., Nov. 6, 2000

29. "Because the -- all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculate, for example, is on the table; whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those -- changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be -- or closer delivered to what has been promised. Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled." --explaining his plan to save Social Security, Tampa, Fla., Feb. 4, 2005
28. "For every fatal shooting, there were roughly three non-fatal shootings. And, folks, this is unacceptable in America. It's just unacceptable. And we're going to do something about it." --Philadelphia, Penn., May 14, 2001

27. "This is an impressive crowd -- the haves and the have mores. Some people call you the elite -- I call you my base." --at the 2000 Al Smith dinner

26. "Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream." --LaCrosse, Wis., Oct. 18, 2000

25. "I know what I believe. I will continue to articulate what I believe and what I believe -- I believe what I believe is right." --Rome, Italy, July 22, 2001

24. "See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda." --Greece, N.Y., May 24, 2005

23. "People say, how can I help on this war against terror? How can I fight evil? You can do so by mentoring a child; by going into a shut-in's house and say I love you." --Washington, D.C., Sept. 19, 2002

22. "I wish you'd have given me this written question ahead of time so I could plan for it...I'm sure something will pop into my head here in the midst of this press conference, with all the pressure of trying to come up with answer, but it hadn't yet...I don't want to sound like I have made no mistakes. I'm confident I have. I just haven't -- you just put me under the spot here, and maybe I'm not as quick on my feet as I should be in coming up with one." --after being asked to name the biggest mistake he had made, Washington, D.C., April 3, 2004

21. "You forgot Poland." --to Sen. John Kerry during the first presidential debate, after Kerry failed to mention Poland's contributions to the Iraq war coalition, Miami, Fla., Sept. 30, 2004

20. "We've got a lot of rebuilding to do. First, we're going to save lives and stabilize the situation. And then we're going to help these communities rebuild. The good news is -- and it's hard for some to see it now -- that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house -- he's lost his entire house -- there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch." (Laughter) --touring hurricane damage, Mobile, Ala., Sept. 2, 2005

19. "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." --State of the Union Address, Jan. 28, 2003, making a claim that administration officials knew at the time to be false

18. "The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him." --Washington, D.C., Sept. 13, 2001

17. "I don't know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don't care. It's not that important. It's not our priority." --Washington, D.C., March 13, 2002

16. "Can we win? I don't think you can win it." --after being asked whether the war on terror was winnable, "Today" show interview, Aug. 30, 2004

15. "I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we're really talking about peace." --Washington, D.C. June 18, 2002

14. "I trust God speaks through me. Without that, I couldn't do my job." --to a group of Amish he met with privately, July 9, 2004

13. "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed." --speaking underneath a "Mission Accomplished" banner aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, May 1, 2003

12. "We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories ... And we'll find more weapons as time goes on. But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong, we found them." --Washington, D.C., May 30, 2003

11. "Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere!" --joking about his administration's failure to find WMDs in Iraq as he narrated a comic slideshow during the Radio & TV Correspondents' Association dinner, Washington, D.C., March 24, 2004

10. "Rarely is the questioned asked: Is our children learning?" --Florence, South Carolina, Jan. 11, 2000

9. "As yesterday's positive report card shows, childrens do learn when standards are high and results are measured." --on the No Child Left Behind Act, Washington, D.C., Sept. 26, 2007

8. "If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator." --Washington, D.C., Dec. 19, 2000

7. "I'm the decider, and I decide what is best. And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the Secretary of Defense." --Washington, D.C. April 18, 2006

6. "There's an old saying in Tennessee -- I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee -- that says, fool me once, shame on --shame on you. Fool me -- you can't get fooled again." --Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 17, 2002

5. "Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB-GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country." --Poplar Bluff, Mo., Sept. 6, 2004

4. "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." --Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004

3. "You work three jobs? ... Uniquely American, isn't it? I mean, that is fantastic that you're doing that." --to a divorced mother of three, Omaha, Nebraska, Feb. 4, 2005

2. "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job." --to FEMA director Michael Brown, who resigned 10 days later amid criticism over his handling of the Hurricane Katrina debacle, Mobile, Ala., Sept. 2, 2005

1. "My answer is bring them on." --on Iraqi insurgents attacking U.S. forces, Washington, D.C., July 3, 2003

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Fort Worth Native UFO, Eclipsed, Hillary, Missile

The moon puts on a show tonight. And the U.S. military might be putting on an extra-terrestrial show as well. The moon will be eclipsed for all of North America to see tonight. If you have clear skies. In the Central Time Zone the eclipse will start about 8:43pm and end at 9 minutes past midnight on Thursday. The moon should look very red.

Unrelated to the moon, there is a Navy ship out at sea that is going to try and shoot down an out of control satellite that is loaded with a ton of very toxic liquid that could survive if allowed to crash to earth. So, one of the Star Wars missiles is hoping to slam into the satellite at a very high speed. This missile was designed to shoot down ICBMs traveling at a slower speed than the satelite. The Navy has 3 missiles that have been re-programmed to make this hit.

Speaking of taking a hit. Hillary has now lost 10 states in a row. There are 2 upcoming debates prior to the Texas primary on March 4. I read today that Hillary's advisors are arguing about what to do, whether to go into aggressive attack mode or not. I think she should try the Tears Strategy again, only this time get in some real good sobbing and produce at least one really big tear running down at least one of her cheeks.

I got a real good photo of the Fort Worth UFO yesterday. With the beautiful skyline of downtown Fort Worth in the background. This view is looking west down the I-30 freeway. The photo makes it appear that the UFO is taller than the tallest Fort Worth skyscraper. I believe this is an illusion.

On another note, yesterday I mentioned my petty little issue regarding particular peculiar verbiage I read over and over again in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Today there were some fresh examples. I decided it might be fun to chronicle these. I wish I'd kept every instance of the "Green with Envy" verbiage when I first made note of it. Several years went by before I started keeping a collection. You may remember that yesterday we all learned that the reason the Star-Telegram repeats over and over again if a person has some remote connection to Fort Worth is because this gives the reader a local connection to the story. No matter how tenuous. So, in today's Star-Telegram, once more regarding American Idol, we learn that tonight among the 12 women singing that "Kristy Lee Cook lists Oregon as home but used to sing at Cowboys Arlington; Kady Malloy is from Houston."

Houston does not seem all that local to me, but what do I know? And then in another section, this, "Fort Worth native and CBS newsman Bob Schieffer...", in a blurb about Fort Worth native Bob Schieffer quitting news to play in a band. I have never seen Fort Worth native Bob Schieffer mentioned in the Star-Telegram without "Fort Worth native" preceding the name. Well, that's not totally accurate, later in the same article the last name may be repeated without the first name or the "Fort Worth native" modifier.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Oklahoma Up In Flames

Just a few days ago I was shocked to learn that a fellow northwest native in exile who moved to the South about the same time I did, me to Texas, she to Oklahoma, is returning to Washington in a month or two.

And then today I got email from the temporary soon to be ex-Okie saying that she and her first husband had been burning stuff, things like magazines. The fire smoldered for a day or two, due to all the magazines. My acquaintance, who insists she not be referred to by name, let's just call her Miss McNoodle. Anyway, Miss M was looking at her airplane tickets when her first husband, let's call him Mr. McNoodle, or Mr. M, shouted that the field was on fire.

The fire spread rapidly. 911 was called. The fire spread to the neighbor's field, trees started burning. Miss M and Mr. M reached what they could with their garden hose and then started beating the flames with a wet towel. Finally multiple fire trucks arrived, but not before several acres were burned.

Miss M sent me several photos of the fire with the strict admonition that I not use the photos on my website. She did not ban me from using a photo on my blog. We must be precise in our verbiage lest we give a weasel wiggle room. She should have told me not to use any of her photos in any electronic media that is viewable to the general public. Live and learn I always say. That and when there is a burn ban in effect don't light a fire.

Boasting & Bragging

I find a Texas thing or two a bit perplexing at times. One is the concept of bragging rights or boasting. I see this in that newspaper I've complained about before, but continue to buy and read, that being the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Like today there is an article about American Idol. That is a TV show where boys and girls sing and people call in over and over again in a sort of a fraudulent public vote to determine the winner.

The first winner of American Idol was a Texan. You never see her name in the Star-Telegram without her hometown as a modifier, as in "Burleson's Kelly Clarkson". Today's American Idol article did the usual Kelly Clarkson mention. The headline for the article is "The latest 'Idol' boasts North Texas ties".

The article goes on to give a look at the 4 American Idol top 24 people with a Texas tie, saying "Two contestants in the top 24 cite North Texas cities as their hometowns, another has lived here, and another is married to someone from here".

Okay, so 2 actually live in North Texas towns. In the details the 'one who lived here', basically grew up and lives in Oregon, is now 24 and spent one year in Dallas, Frisco and McKinney. The one who married someone in Texas is an Australian living in LA who married a girl from Fort Worth and has visited here.

Now, how does this boasting thing work? Does someone from north Texas run into someone from south Texas and proceed to brag that north Texas has 4 people on American Idol? And two of those actually live there?

This boast/brag thing seems closely related to another odd pathology I've made note of before, that being the Green With Envy pathology where the Star-Telegram would say this that or the other totally ordinary thing in Fort Worth made towns far and wide green with envy or was the envy of towns far and wide. Strangely, ever since I webpaged examples of this bizarre verbiage from the Star-Telegram I have not seen another incident in that paper of something causing others to be green with envy.

Now back to this bragging about someone being from here thing. The Star-Telegram always does this. Like actor Bill Paxton apparently is from Fort Worth. Any mention of him is always Fort Worth native Bill Paxton. An actress named Betty Buckley is from Fort Worth, so it is always Fort Worth native Betty Buckley. Today there was mention made of Betty's brother, who I'd never heard of, Fort Worth native Norman Buckley, who apparently got an award at some obscure event called the "Eddie" Awards. I guess Fort Worth will now have the bragging rights and likely a city wide celebration because a Fort Worth native won a prestigious "Eddie" Award. Whatever that is. I guess I could look it up.

A country music singer I'd not heard of, Pat Green, moved to Fort Worth, with the Star-Telegram saying this now gave Fort Worth bragging rights regarding what they called the Texas Transient's move to FW, and that this move had Dallas, Lubbock and Waco green with envy. I am not making this up.

I could go on and on with examples of the "native of" verbiage, but won't. If I haven't made a point by now, more examples aren't going to do so.

So, where I used to live I subscribed to 2 newspapers, the Seattle P-I and the Skagit Valley Herald. Seattle has a few celebrities and well known people, as does the Skagit Valley. Burl Ives lived in the Skagit town of Anacortes til he died. I don't recollect ever reading his name in an article with verbiage like Anacortes native Burl Ives. That guy who played Jesus in that Mel Gibson movie, Jim Caviezel, is from the town I lived in, Mount Vernon. I don't recollect either the P-I or the SV Herald ever referencing him as Mount Vernon native, Jim Caviezel. The richest man in the world was born and raised and still lives in the Seattle zone. I don't recollect ever reading him referred to as Washington native Bill Gates, or Seattle native Bill Gates. Nirvana's Kurt Cobain grew up in the Washington coastal town of Hoquium. I don't recollect ever reading Hoquium native Kurt Cobain.

I can think of more examples of well known people living in the Seattle zone than I can think of here in Texas, suffice to say I don't ever recollect reading about any of them where the local papers repeatedly refer to people as being a native of this that or the other place. Let alone the fact of them being from this that or the other place giving that place some sort of bragging rights. Or being something to boast about. That just seems like bad manners. Maybe the Northwest is just a zone with better manners. And a lot of serial killers. But that's another day's blogging.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Disenfranchised in Texas

I've been trying for months to get my voter's registration changed so that I can vote at my new address. At the last election I went down to my local polling place and I was not allowed to vote. On the actual election day you have to vote at the place you are registered. For me that was/is way north of my current location. Previous to the last botched election I'd done early voting. With early voting you can vote anywhere that there is an early voting poll place.

I've had a long history of trouble dealing with various Texas bureaucracies ever since my exile here way back in 1999. First thing I encountered was they insist on seeing your social security card to do just about anything. Now, up in Washington we'd always been told to keep this a secret, even before the problem with identify theft came into being. So, I had to get a social security card. This involved finding my birth certificate which involved asking my mom if she had any proof that I'd been born. She had none so I had to contact my place of birth in Oregon to generate a birth certificate so I could get a social security card so I could get a Texas driver's license and register to vote.

So, after many months of trying to go through all the hoops I finally was able to apply for a Texas driver's license. The DMV, or whatever they call it here, was a zoo. The computers that you took the written test on were so dilapidated that you could not make out colors. With the test asking you some questions based on colors. But, despite all the obstacles I managed to pass both the written and the driving test.

A couple weeks went by. My new Texas license finally arrived. On a Friday. I was planning to drive up to Washington for Christmas, leaving the next day. So, I was glad to finally have my Texas license. Til I looked at it more closely. As you can see by looking closely at the photo of my license, above, there is a rather glaring mistake.

So, yes, I headed north using a Texas driver's license that said I was a Female. Because of having this I did get one odd benefit. My sister let me attend her all girl Christmas party. But I had to be the greeter and show the girls my I.D. to establish my bonafides as being one of their gender.

When I got back to Texas I went down to the DMV, or whatever they call it here, waited in line, again, showed the lady my new license, asked her if she saw anything wrong. She said ooops. And then she checked the record. She had me lean forward and she whispered to me, "the records out of Austin say you are also African-American. You aren't are you?" I told her as far as I knew I was not either African-American or female, but how can anyone be absolutely 100% certain about such things?

So, now I guess I am in Texas Voter's Limbo. I'm fairly certain I can still do the early voting thing. Unless that has somehow gotten mucked up by me trying to change my polling place. I don't know why they don't have the permanent absentee ballot method that Washington and other states use. That would make it all so much simpler.

Now, if I do get to vote in the March 4 primary, who should I vote for? Barack or Hillary?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Hillary, Dick, Gail & Bill

Last month I read Dick Morris's rebuttal to Hillary Clinton's Living History. The Morris book is called Rewriting History. Basically he goes through Hillary's book bit by bit setting the record straight. Hillary does leave out some significant pieces of her history which Mr. Morris seemingly gleefully details. Things like all the Hillary scandals, everything from Travelgate to how she bungled the Paula Jones problem. And how she hauled off a fortune in gifts just prior to being booted from the White House. Hillary returned some of the loot and paid for some of what she kept.

So when reading the Morris book about Hillary he frequently refers to Gail Sheehy's Hillary's Choice book. So, now I'm reading that one. I'm about 100 pages in. Miss Sheehy so far is causing me to like Hillary more than Mr. Morris did. She is painting quite an interesting picture of Hillary's formative years. The taskmaster dad, the constant drive to be the best she could be, the Republican upbringing that the early 60s and a meeting with Martin Luther King slowly started Hillary on her evolution to becoming a liberal democrat. Her first boyfriend. No, it wasn't Bill.

And speaking of Bill, I had no idea he was such a chunky little butterball when he was a kid.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


North Texas has been through a hellacious storm today. Golf Ball size hail pummeled parts of the D/FW Metroplex. Areas that were spared the huge hail got hit with heavy rain and really really loud thunder. As far as I know, right now, no tornadoes were spawned.

So, during the storm I took off to go to Wal-Mart. I needed gas. But the gas station's credit card readers were not functioning, likely a casuality of the lightning. So, I drove on to Wal-Mart on an empty tank. I did my standard call to my mom whenever I get gas, or attempt to get gas. My mom kept me entertained in the Wal-Mart parking lot while I waited for the rain to let up. After what seemed hours, but was likely only minutes, I decided I would need to use my umbrella to get through the downpour and inside Wal-Mart.

I finished with my Wal-Mart foraging and made it back to my vehicle, almost dry. I then decided to call my sister in Phoenix. She lives about 5 miles from my mom and dad. When my sister answered the phone I'd forgotten why I called her. So, we chatted purposelessly while I headed back here. And then my vehicle did that stalling thing that indicates it wants gas. I'd forgotten I'd not gotten gas. I got my sister off the phone and limped into a Shell station. Where I hit the wrong button and got Plus gas at $2.98 a gallon. So, I got a gallon and stopped the hemorrhaging.

We've lost power several times during today's bad weather. The internet connection is off and on. I've got no energy to try and find any sort of pic that might illustrate the horror of today. Let us all just imagine one big oversized lightning bolt crashing down and making a really really loud noise and call it a day.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Waterboarding & Strip Searches

I read somewhere recently that something like 40% of Americans think that waterboarding is an extreme sport and don't quite understand why there would be a fuss about using this extreme sport as a torture device to extract information from suspected terrorists or random taxi drivers erroneously taken into custody.

For those of you among that 40% who think waterboarding is just a day at the beach let me explain that waterboarding is a form of torture that consists of immobilizing a person on his or her back, with the head inclined downward, and pouring water over the face and into the breathing passages. Through forced suffocation and inhalation of water, the subject experiences the process of drowning in a controlled environment and is made to believe that death is imminent. In contrast to merely submerging the head face-forward, waterboarding almost immediately elicits the gag reflex. Although waterboarding can be performed in ways that leave no lasting physical damage, it carries the risks of extreme pain, damage to the lungs, brain damage caused by oxygen deprivation, injuries (including broken bones) due to struggling against restraints, and even death. The psychological effects on victims of waterboarding can last for years after the procedure.

Is there not a more humane way for Americans to extract information from suspected bad guys than to resort to Gestapo-like tactics that the Nazis would have been comfortable with? Isn't there a drug that can break down a person's defenses and get them telling the truth? It's like we are becoming something that is not what we like to think of as American.

And it's not just the torture of foreign bad guys, it's how we treat our own citizens as well. As in at what point in time did the practice of the strip search become the norm? Here in Texas you can get strip searched when arrested on a 6 year old arrest warrant for a $20 bounced check.

If I as a citizen forced someone to take off their clothes and then probed their body cavities this would be what is known as a crime, I believe it could even be considered rape. And yet it is considered okay when a jail employee orders you to strip and sticks his or her fingers where only your doctor or significant other should do any probing.

Why is an electronic means not used rather than the barbaric strip search? Would it not be easier just to walk a detainee through a security device like airports use? Come to think of it, even going through airport security has turned into sort of a minor strip search, what with having to take off your shoes and belt. My last time flying I wore really baggy comfortable pants and when the belt came off the pants almost did too. I think I was wearing boxers.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Locked & Loaded

A couple nights ago at my local neighborhood Krogers, that's a grocery store for you who live in non-Krogers zones, an armed robber waved his gun and instructed the store's on-duty cop and all the customers in the self-checkout area to lay down on the floor, face down, with their hands behind their back. The robber forced an employee to open a safe. There was 50 dollars inside. Only 50 dollars. It was past midnight. The thief escaped into the night while all the victims ran out the back of the store, calling 911 as they ran. As of today, the armed robber remains at large.

So, last night, about 6, I took off to go to the aforementioned Krogers. And what was on my door but a warning in the form of a piece of paper. We have a Neighborhood Watch System here. The notice said, in part:

"Dear Residents,
This letter is to notify you of criminal activity that has been reported in the immediate area. Two unknown young black males dressed in dark hoodies are approaching people with a black gun & yellow pistol grips demanding wallets, cash, jewelry, cell phones or anything of value. They approach the victims while they are on foot, walking from a car to a breezeway while walking alone. The criminal activity has been reported on Oakland Hills Drive, Ederville Road, Brentwood Stair Road, Boca Raton Blvd. and Pacific Place."

Let's see, I live on Boca Raton, Brentwood Stair Road is where I had a flat tire a couple weeks ago, in a bad neighborhood, Oakland Hills Drive is the road I took to Oakland Hills Park yesterday, I'm looking at Ederville Road from my window.

Basically I am doomed.

So it was quite fortuitous that today's Fort Worth Star-Telegram's sports page had an ad that touted "Cheaper Than Dirt" firearms. Among the guns on sale at the dirt cheap prices are an AK 47 assault rifle and a Thompson 1927A, that's a "Tommy Gun" to you non-gun aficionados, you know a machine gun like gangsters used back in the Prohibition years. With this being an area of the United States where many remnants of Prohibition are still in place I guess it makes sense to be selling "Tommy Guns" to people. At "Dirt Cheap" prices.

I can't wait to get me one.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Rat Dog Dick

Last night after suffering through American Idol I got to the end of Jack Olsen's true crime book, "Hastened to the Grave: The Gypsy Murder Investigation". This was a very interesting true crime book in that it seemed more like a novel than non-fiction, what with the main character being this femme fatale detective named Fay Faron who runs a detective agency with her dreadlocked dog, Bean, called the Rat Dog Dick Detective Agency. Now, there is a strange personal note here. My eldest sister has 2 dogs, one is called Rosie the Rat Dog and the other is named Bean. But my sister is no femme fatale so the eerie coincidences don't go beyond similar names.

Oh oh. I thought of another similarity between this book and my sister.

This book was about Gypsies taking advantage of elderly people and getting the old folks to put the Gypsies in their wills, or sign over their houses or their investments, like stocks and bonds and properties. Murder was also involved. Now my sister has never taken advantage of anyone, but she did manage to get involved with an elderly person. Or two. And somehow inherited all sorts of things. Cars, houses, property, bonds, cash. I am almost 100% certain my sister is not a Gypsy.

Now that I'm thinking about it I've got another acquaintance who made a minor sideline out of being the last surviving member of her clan and thus inheriting all sorts of things; money, houses, property, bonds, bank accounts, furniture, chickens, cars, cows and who knows what else. Sadly, this acquaintance slowly squandered all her ill-gotten gains, except for the cows, and now survives as a modern day junk collector/peddler. Yikes. That almost sounds like she's a Gypsy. She does sort of dress like a Gypsy, with colorful big skirts and garish jewelry and a fascination for the supernatural.

Anyway, Fay Faron and her Rat Dog Dick Detective Agency finally got the police to put an end to the Gypsie's reign of elder abuse. Incidentally, these Gypsie's were from the same branch of the Gypsy Mafia tree as the ones portrayed in the movie King of the Gypsies.

Fay Faron was so appalled by the lack of protection of the elderly from predators that she formed another agency called Elder Angels tasked with investigating financial crimes against the elderly.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Missives from the Bubba Brigade

For some unfathomable to me reason, Texans have somehow gotten a national reputation as a state full of ignorant Bubbas with heads full of nonsense. The current president does not help dispel this unfortunate myth. Nor does the way Hollywood often portrays Texans in movies and television. When you live in Texas you learn that while there may be a lot of ignorant Bubbas, likely reflecting the low high school graduation and college graduation rates as compared to the more advanced states, you also meet and hear of many many non-Bubba, non-ignorant Texans.

Reading the letters to the editor in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram each morning gives one a good reflection of the broad spectrum of the thinking, or lack of, of Texans. Sometimes the letters can make you cringe, usually those are of a religious bend, spouting pure unadulterated ignorance that makes one wonder why the paper prints their silly nonsense.

On Sunday there were several letters regarding an issue in the Grapevine-Colleyville school district where one totally Bubba family was protesting the fact that an elementary school was offering a Spanish class. The Bubbas felt that the school was pushing an agenda where the United States is to be taken over by Mexican culture and language.

Many people objected to these particular Bubba's strident position, some comparing them to those who blocked school house doors in Alabama back in the 60s.

And then today came a letter from one of the many enlightened Texans (unfortunately I don't believe their numbers are yet a majority) in which the letter writer put the issue in proper perspective.

I'll copy the enlightened letter to the editor below, with no further commentary.

A Sunday letter (“Clash of words about Spanish”) said: “It’s inconceivable to me that some in this country are pushing an agenda for us to be taken over by Mexican culture and language.”

Maybe we should remember that Texas was first taken away from the Mexican culture during the Texas Revolution. In reality, Mexican culture was taken over by American culture, which is part of what caused the Texas Revolution in the first place.

The same letter writer asked: “Why aren’t we promoting our native tongue while encouraging the proper speaking and spelling of it?” Texans should be speaking an Apache or Comanche dialect because those people are the true natives of this land.

I, too, used to think that “if you come to America, learn to speak English.” But then I realized that America gives all people freedom, including the freedom to speak a language of their choice.

— David Falksen, Fort Worth

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Soviet State of Texas

It might seem to be the most absurd thing imaginable to suggest that the Great Republic of Texas has anything in common with the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. However, when one sees Texas up close and personal one sees many similarities between the USSR & Texas.

For example, in the old Soviet Union two of their major cities were named for two of the USSR's founding fathers, one named Leningrad, the other Stalingrad. In Texas two of the major cities are also named after founding fathers, one being the capital of Austin. The other being Houston.

In the Soviet Union huge statues were erected to honor Joesph Stalin and Vladimir Lenin. In Texas, one of the largest free standing statues in the world was erected to honor Sam Houston.

In the Soviet Union the death penalty was used frequently. Texas, by far, leads the United States in number of executions.

In the Soviet Union you could get thrown into the Gulag for the most minor of crimes. In Texas so-called justice is meted out in equally harsh terms. A personal example. Last month a friend of mine, down in Corpus Christi, was stopped for a minor moving violation. The cop ran her name and came up with a warrant for her arrest. She was handcuffed and thrown in the back of the cop car and brought to a jail where she was stip searched and booked. Her crime? Six years prior, at a Krogers Grocery, she had written a check for $20 on a now long closed account. Unknown to her, the check bounced. Apparently Krogers took the case to court and got a judgement, unbeknownst to the victim. The $20 check, via fines and interest, had ballooned to almost $500. Luckily for my friend she had family who could help her, including a sister who is a lawyer and a judge in Houston. She was out of the Texas Gulag in 3 days.

Texas has this rather antiquated, very corrupt, system that is responsible for many of the Texas crimes against humanity, that being the Justice of the Peace system. These 'judges' are not trained in the law. They are elected. They are often incompetent. Example. Dallas has a mass transit train called DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit). DART employs pseudo-police officers to maintain order on the trains and the train stations. The locals calls these pseudo cops the DART Gestapo. A Fort Worth reporter was in Dallas covering a DART story several years ago. He stood at a street crossing waiting for the 'walk' sign to turn on. Beside him were two DART cops. He waited and waited for the apparently broken light to change. It never did. Finally the cops walked away. When they were several hundred feet down the road the reporter made a run for it and crossed the street. The cops then chased after him, stopped him, accused him of breaking the law as soon as their backs were turned. They gave him a ticket with a large fine. The reporter tried to get his day in court via the Justice of the Peace that handled that jurisdiction. After try after try of appearing in person to get the matter settled, he gave up. Years later he is still battling this.

In another incident a man and his 10 year old son were accosted by the DART Gestapo (aka DART KGB) over some minor infraction. When the victim objected the Gestapo tasered the man. In front of his 10 year old son. The man was hauled away by the cops, leaving the 10 year old to fend for himself. The victim spent 10 days in the Dallas Gulag, unable to post bail.

A 15 year old boy was shot dead by the DART Gestapo when he jumped out from some bushes and said boo. The boy was unarmed.

Another shocking example of corrupt Texas justice occurs in a county on the fringe of the D/FW Metroplex, that being Johnson County. Ten percent of Johnson County's population has spent time in one of the county's jails. If you want to be horrified at how badly justice can be perverted in Texas read this shocking article about a couple good citizen's nightmarish ordeal when faced with the law in Johnson County. This story is not for the squeamish. And you will likely be quite ashamed that this occurred in the United States. With very little local outrage. But then again, how much protesting did the citizens of the Soviet Union do? Very little, lest they get thrown into the Gulag. Texans don't do a lot of protesting either. I don't know if this is due to fear of the Texas Gulag or just plain old-fashioned ignorance of the sad situations that occur here.

Another example of how similar the State of Texas is to the Soviet Union is the Dallas Cowboy Stadium Scandal. In the USSR when the government needed land for one of their fool projects the proliteriat had no rights. The Soviets would just take their land. In the State of Texas the eminent domain laws have been perverted in ways the rest of the United States does not allow. In Texas you can get the corrupt local government to use eminent domain to condemn houses when a Shopping Mall wants to expand its parking lot. This happened just 5 miles north of me at the Northeast Mall. 5 miles east of my location the Dallas Cowboys and the city of Arlington conspired to pervert the concept of eminent domain in order to steal dozens of houses, dozens of businesses and dozens of apartment complexes, uprooting well over 1000 people in a violation of basic human rights that would have done the old Soviet Union proud.

In the United States one of the basic tenents of our basic rights is the right to be left alone. I think that is what annoys me more than anything about the perversion of the law that occured in Arlington so that a private business could build a stadium. One day you are happy in the house you built on the land you worked hard to buy. The next day you are told you must leave. And will be paid full market value for your property. And you have no say in whether you want to sell or not.

None of this stuff should occur in America, land of the free, where human rights are to be protected, revered and cherished. Not ignored, violated and scorned. Texas really needs to follow the lead of the USSR and overthrow the current dictatorship and establish a democratic republic where basic human rights are protected by the state, rather than violated by the state.

If I suddenly cease posting you can assume I have had a knock on my door and the Texas Gestapo/KGB has me in custody for speaking out against the state. Let's just hope they don't take me to Johnson County. Or Dallas.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Early Morning Warbling

In the wee wee hours of the morning, sometime around 3am, something which sounded like a bird began making an otherworldly noise, a rhythmic, pulsing series of melodic tones that repeated without variance over and over and over again. After about 20 minutes of this unwanted alarm clock the melody suddenly changed to a sort of downbeat sound as if signaling the end of the song. And then silence. After about a minute of quiet it started up again from the beginning. The warbling was so not bird-like I began to consider getting out of bed and going in search of the source. But I didn't.

I remember decades ago, up in Washington, in the Skagit Valley, near the town of Sedro Woolley, on a hill named Hoogdal, a strange noise started up at night that sounded metallic and otherworldly. Locals were certain it was a UFO. Media from around the country descended on Hoogdal, not unlike what happened in Stephenville, Texas a month ago with the sighting of a supposed UFO. Eventually government investigators were able to determine, or the cover-up decided to say, that the Hoogdal Otherwordly Noise was caused by an Owl. It became known as the Hoogdal Owl.

So, back to my Texas Hoogdal Owl UFO Sound. As the second round of warbling progressed, the sound gradually faded. Whatever was making the sound, hovering UFO, or bird, was slowly moving away. Eventually the sound faded to silence and I faded back to sleep.

But, I ended up getting up early and I was in the mood for an early morning walk. So I got up and made my morning coffee, skipped my usual morning paper read, filled a thermos and drove to Oakland Lake Park (that is Oakland Lake you see in the photo above). It is a short distance from my abode. The early morning light had the birds all chirping and fellow early birds out walking. Very pleasant. None of the birds were making the noise that I heard in the middle of the night.

So, in regards to explaining what it was that seranaded me in the middle of the night, I lean towards the hovering UFO theory. That, or it was an Owl. A Fort Worth Owl. Not a Hoogdal Owl.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Attacked, Hacked, Ebayed & Cowboyed

Yesterday brought me one of the most troublingly bizarre episodes I've experienced in all the decades, well, years, I've been involved with the Internet. About 10am I clicked on my Eyes on Texas website. And what to my suprised eyes should appear? Not my website. No. An Ebay page came up. No matter which of my dozens and dozens of Eyes on Texas pages I clicked on the same Ebay page came up. The link would show my domain, but when clicked it would go to Ebay's home page.

I had no idea what to do. So, I called my web host. It is located in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Supposedly the biggest webhost on the planet. With its servers underground in bomb/tornado proof bunkers. However, on Super Tuesday, that being the night of tornadoes in 4 states, including Kentucky, my server was knocked out for an hour and a half due to the storms.

I got through to customer service. The problem was passed off to a tech guy who found that my webspace had been hacked with code added to something called, I think, htc access. After about 20 minutes the problem was fixed.

Why did this problem occur? How can I not help but wonder? The only thing I can figure, being of a conspiratorial, paranoid frame of mind is that in some Nixonesque meeting deep in the bowels of Dallas Cowboy Headquarters, Jerry Jones ordered his minions to do whatever they could to shut me up from telling America and the World what was done here in Texas to get Jerry Jones his new stadium.

Would it not be simpler and more linear to just pay me to shut up? Lord knows I can be bought. I mean, I've sprinkled my website with hundreds of Google ads, for gawdsakes, obviously I can be bought. Really, it's true. For just 10% of Tony Romo's signing bonus I'd pretty much be willing to shut up.

But in the meantime the scandal just keeps growing. It has been a couple years now since Jerry Jones and the City of Arlington perverted a legitimate legal tool in order to abuse the eminent domain laws to steal land, homes and businesses from hundreds upon hundreds of people.

Of those victims not all have settled. There are still, after all this time, 26 parcels of land being litigated with the owners trying to get fair compensation. I do not know where or how those poor souls are living while they await justice.

Regarding the lawsuits, this morning the Fort Worth Star-Telegram had some typically confusing verbiage that I can't quite parse. It said, "The tracts were initially appraised by Tarrant County at $1.6 million. The city offered to pay $1.8 million for the 26 parcels. With the proposed settlement of $868,250, owners could receive a total of $2.6 million for the land."

Does the above mean each person would receive that much, $2.6 million? Or would this be divided among the 26? All I know for certain is this. Slightly more than $70 million was paid for all the land, buildings and businesses that were stolen. Tony Romo's new contract is something like $69 million with a $13 million signing bonus. See anything wrong with this picture? How about giving the victims a cut of the $50,000 seat licenses the Cowboys are selling for a spot to sit above the victim's land?

It continues to impress me that Seattle somehow built 2 new stadiums and an exhibition hall, all adjacent, without displacing a single person from their dwelling. This in an area where land is in short supply due to mountains and a lot of water. While here in Texas land is plentiful, large open spaces in the heart of an urban zone. And yet somehow land could not be found for a new Dallas Cowboy Stadium without causing misery and hardship to who knows how many people.

Well, I'm doing my bit. Day by day hundreds of more Americans are being exposed to what the so-called America's Team has done to some Americans here in Texas.

As God is my witness I will not be hacked quiet. But, to repeat, my silence is negotiable.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Domestic Abuse in Texas (and elsewhere)

Awful story in today's Fort Worth Star-Telegram about a domestic abuse case that ended with the husband murdering his wife, then killing himself, leaving their 4 year-old an orphan. The husband, Bill Medina, had been abusive to his wife, Jenny, for years. The husband did all the stereoptypical abuser behaviors, accused her of cheating on him, spied on her computer, monitored her email. Finally she had enough and left him and filed for divorce.

Go here to read the whole awful story, including listening to 911 calls.

Domestic Abuse does not just occur in low class, poorly educated, poor families. It can occur in what would seem to be a cliche All-American family. I know this all too well.

If you think you are in a domestic abuse situation and somehow do not know for sure, here is a list of the Signs to Look for.
  1. Embarrasses you with bad names and put-downs.
  2. Looks at you or acts in ways that scare you.
  3. Controls what you do, whom you see or talk to, where you go.
  4. Stops you from seeing or talking to friends and family.
  5. Takes your money, makes you ask for money or refuses to give you money for your needs.
  6. Makes all the decisions.
  7. Tells you you're a bad parent or threatens to take away or hurt your children.
  8. Acts like the abuse is no big deal, says it's your fault or denies doing it.
  9. Destroys your property or threatens to kill your pets.
  10. Intimidates you with guns, knives or other weapons.
  11. Shoves, slaps or hits you.
  12. Forces you to drop criminal charges if police have been called to a domestic dispute.
  13. Threatens to commit suicide or to kill you.
  14. Forces you to have sex.
  15. Prevents you from working or attending school.

If you see yourself above, cry out for help, don't keep quiet, don't be afraid to tell people what is happening to you. GET HELP!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

My Mind Has Gone Blank

I feared, actually knew, this day would come where my resolve to write something in this Blog each and every day would come up against my ever more strained brain pan's ever diminishing number of ideas and thoughts.

This morning it had crossed my mind to tell you about the World's Most Unique McDonald's. It's in Dallas. But then I thought, "McDonald's?", I'm thinking of going from talking about something elevated like the Super Bowl and politics to being a shill for the World's Most Unique McDonald's? I was somehow going to tie McDonald's to Wal-Mart by mentioning Lulu's rather irrational and situational aversion to both.

Situational aversion due to incidents like the last time I was up in Tacoma and heading back to Sea-Tac to fly back here, I was hungry, so I drove up to the drive-thru of the Tacoma Chihuly Glass McDonald's, it is also unique, but not as unique as the Dallas McDonald's. I ordered a couple things off the dollar menu and then heard Lulu sort of mutter, at low volume, "can I have a fish sandwich?". I said, sure, but I thought you can't eat anything from McDonald's? She just glared at me with that how dare you try and hold me accountable for my contradictions type look. She wolfed down her fish sandwich as if it had been something she had been craving for years. About a year after this incident I called Lulu during a time I knew she was preparing for a show in the Tacoma Dome. When she answered I heard the tell tale sound of the McDonald's drive-thru squawk box. Apparently Lulu had discovered she liked some sort of McDonald's wrap with which I was unfamiliar.

Regarding Wal-Mart Lulu is not nearly as contradictory as she is with McDonald's. Likely due to the fact that there are no Wal-Marts in Tacoma. When she lived in Gig Harbor, that's the first town you come to when you cross the Narrows Suspension Bridge to the Olympic Peninsula, Lulu participated in protest marches demanding that Wal-Mart not be allowed to build in Gig Harbor. However, a Wal-Mart has now opened in the Tacoma suburb of Lakewood. Lulu went there yesterday, ostensibily taking her son there, while she waited in the car. I have seen with my own eyes Lulu going into a Wal-Mart in Ontario, Oregon. Ironically, when she got what she needed from the Oregon Wal-Mart (a replacement headlight) we all walked across the street to a McDonald's where Lulu had a McRib Sandwich. And pronounced it dry and inedible. But she ate the whole thing. And a chocolate shake. And fries.

Maybe by tomorrow I'll have something to Blog about. Like maybe I'll detail the reality of who pays the most taxes. And who doesn't. The truth pretty much contradicts the democrats current soak the rich by raising their taxes mantra. But that's for another day. Today is all about McDonald's & Wal-Mart. And Lulu.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Super Bowl vs. Super Tuesday Bowl

On Sunday a record 148.3 million Americans watched the Super Bowl on FOX TV. Two days later, Super Tuesday was covered non-stop by all the cable news stations, CNN, FoxNews, MSNBC. On the networks ABC devoted its entire prime time to the elections. NBC and CBS also had extensive coverage. The Super Bowl station, FOX did not devote much coverage to the political Super Bowl.

It is not known how many Americans viewed the Super Tuesday coverage on all the various networks. It is known that Americans voted in record numbers on Super Tuesday.

According to a poll by ABC when asked which they were more excited about, 40% of Americans said the Super Bowl. In a near upset, 37% said they were more excited about Super Tuesday.

About 50% of Americans call themselves football fans. Of those, 63% were more excited about the Super Bowl than Super Tuesday. But, of those who have no use for football, 48% were more interested in Super Tuesday than the Super Bowl, with 17% preferring the football game. What the remaining 35% were interested in I have no idea. Maybe they were enjoying the outdoors or working on their yoga postures.

The level of education is an interesting factor in determining which of these events holds more interest. 53% of college graduates were more excited by Super Tuesday than the Super Bowl, with 33% of the college grads picking the football game. Of those who did not make it past high school, 45% were more interested in the Super Bowl with 28% more interested in Super Tuesday....I have no idea what one might conclude from these statistics.

Southerners are more likely to be interested in the Super Bowl than Super Tuesday. Again, I have no clue what one might conclude from that information.

So, the Super Bowl is over for another year. And Super Tuesday is over for another 4 years. Now if only we could get the Super Bowl on the Super Tuesday schedule we would not have to endure all the overwrought, overdone Super Bowl hype every year. Think of all the beer that would be saved. That would be a good thing.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Super Bowl XLII

The ratings are in. A record 148.3 million Americans watched at least part of Sunday's Super Bowl, making it the second most watched TV show ever, with the finale of MASH still being #1.

I was among the record 148.3 million. Why I do not know. I don't like football. Have never liked it. Have never been able to understand what it is that people find so compelling. To me it's like endless variations of the same thing, over and over again. Grown men dressed in ridiculous looking uniforms, unmatched anywhere else in sports world, except maybe American Gladiator. And other grown men commentating on what is going on on the field, as if they are narrating some great moment in history, like an ongoing battle that will determine if civilization survives, when all they are doing is watching a bunch of grown men paid to play a game, dressed in tights with giant shoulder pads and car crash helmets throwing and kicking an oblong object that is not even shaped like a ball.

And even a game like Sunday's, a close game with a close finish, I still don't get why this is so thrilling to watch. Even as I watch it. Not that I watched the entire game. But I did catch the final few minutes. So the team led by Eli Manning beat the team beat by Tom Brady. This is important and affects the bulk of humanity how? And why?

I usually watch the Super Bowl for the commercials and the half time show.

But neither much interests me anymore. The commercials, if any get a buzz, you can watch on YouTube. Or they will be repeated ad nauseum for months on network TV. As for the half time show. This anymore consists of some somewhat over the hill band staging a mini-concert with hundreds of swooning pseudo fans who have been told to act as if they are having the thrill of lifetime.

Sunday's Halftime Show was Tom Petty and the Pacemakers singing their 4 hit songs. The stadium was darkened and a lit up arrow slowly made its way to a heart. Then the stage lit up and the aforementioned kids swarmed towards Tom Petty, emoting great excitement while waving their arms overhead.

A few impotent fireworks lit up when the Halftime Show was over. I guess there are limits to what you can do with fireworks when you are in a stadium with a roof.

I'm thinking they need to go back in time and do a modern day glitzed up old-fashioned halftime show with an overly produced overly choreographed legion of young people putting on a show. With a marching band. With a lot of tubas and drums.

And another thing. Why the pomposity of using Roman Numerals to denote a Super Bowl. Why XLII rather than simply Super Bowl 42? Isn't this just a tad pompous? And I can't help but wonder how many of the football fanatics could decipher a Roman Numeral without a coach? Is the Super Bowl more important than the U.S. President? Apparently so. We are content to number our Presidents using the plain simple normal number method, as in George W. is U.S. President 43, not U.S. President XLIII. Lincoln was President 16, not President XVI. It would look ridiculous and a bit imperial if we used Roman Numerals in reference to our Presidents. And to me it looks even more ridiculous to use Roman Numerals (indicipherable to 89% of football fans according to Durango Research) to number a football game. Even if it is the most watched football game on the planet.

Okay, that is enough sports talk for the day. Soon I must vent what I think of soccer being the most popular sport in the world.