Hyperbole and hypocracy: Touchstones of pro-gun nuts.

Hyperbole arrives at its zenith during presidential election years. One has to admit though, exaggerating truth or telling just damn lies, have become standard operating procedure by politicians and their supporters for years now.

Nowhere does the folks who think they know constitutional law when it comes to “pro-gun” and radical Second Amendment enthusiasts. The current Supreme Court ruling asserts the amendment means the people of the nation becoming armed is equal to militias as set forth in the language of which was ratified in three-fourths of the state on Dec. 15, 1791. Let’s see how many states that would be? Nine? Ten?

Today President Obama announced several executive actions he will sign to curb gun violence. These proposals are only a silly millimeter more than actions with which even many gun owners would agree.

To hear it from the radical right, like our Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, the sky is falling. Those of you who know me also know I will not use some disparaging remark against Abbott. The current governor became a paraplegic when a large oak tree fell on him in 1984 as he was jogging in the ritzy River Oaks section of Houston. Abbott, a lawyer who became a judge and later a justice in the state Supreme Court, and who was elected Texas attorney general before his election as governor, did what any good (or bad) lawyer would do. He sued the homeowner and a tree service connected with the falling tree.

A settlement in the suit which mandated payments to Abbott in the sum of about $14,000 a month may ultimately fill the governor’s pockets with some $9 million.

Lawsuits filed by Abbott and his successor, currently indicted Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton, have filed a total of 38 lawsuits on behalf of Texas against the Obama administration. This has cost Texas taxpayers more than $5 million. But no one should be surprised that Abbott advocates tort reform like any of his good Republican cronies would.

But wasn’t I talking about hyperbole and not hypocrites? Well, it seems Governor Abbott can have it both ways.

 “Today, the President trampled the purpose and substance of the Bill of Rights by unilaterally imposing Second Amendment restrictions, Abbott said in a press release. “After failing to pass gun control measures through Congress, the President is yet again resorting to unilateral executive action in place of the democratic process. Despite the President’s latest attempt to undermine our liberty, Texas will take every action to protect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.”

If anything, the proposals Obama intends for executive order are mostly symbolic. One part of the actions would use present laws to close a badly-needed loophole, making those who sell at guns shows to be licensed and would thus have to conduct background checks through the government.

In any event, the orders the President seeks could be tied up in court for a while. More costly lawsuit by Republicans who want to limit rewards from civil suits. But to paraphrase some smart person: “If hypocrites were not permitted to run for office, we wouldn’t have anyone representing us in Austin or Washington.”

And just a local note. We are in day two of Open Carry Texas. I’ve yet to see anyone packing but I have seen plenty of — legal — signs telling customers: “Don’t take your guns to town son, leave you guns at home … ”

Oh and just one more thing. These morons out in Oregon who have taken over a federal wildlife refuge, some are being labeled in social media: “Vanilla ISIS” and “Ya’ll Queda, need to get while the getting’s good. I don’t think the “militia” folks have much sympathy built up in that Oregon county. That county has a sizable amount of federal employees working as well as plain folks who see what is happening there as an assault on government as an affront to themselves.

 

Share

Seventeen years later, it’s a new year (almost)

The end of the year is one of those times when many people take stock of their lives. I guess 2015 was better than 2014 although I have had many better years. I lost only one close friend and a cousin this year. My medical condition is probably better than the year before. I still suffer from chronic pain and diabetes. I have made strides in lowering my A1C and hope that during my next blood test I will find it at or near an acceptable range.

One thing that has not changed, is my automobile. I thought about this while returning to my pickup truck this afternoon after buying a few odds and ends at Kroger.

My 1998 Toyota Tacoma has some scratches and a noticeable dent in the back, passenger side of its bed.

I am living in the same town in which I bought the truck, Beaumont, Texas, back in December 1997. Although, there was a seven-year period during which time I lived in Central Texas rather than the Upper Texas Coast where I currently live.

A couple of months after buying the truck, I moved to Waco – whose boosters consider the city as “The Heart of Texas” — where I worked my last full-time job from 1998 to 2015. That is a whole other story, perhaps hundreds of stories, as I worked as a journalist. I should say, though, this post is a look back or, perhaps a story, about that maroon pickup of mine that now registers 175,000 miles on its odometer. Perhaps mileage is more important than time anyway. My late brother John, a character if there was one to be had, said whenever someone told him he looked older than his age: “It’s not the years, it’s the miles.”

I looked at the small scratch this afternoon that extends nearly the length of the passenger side of my vehicle. That happened not long after I moved to Waco. I stayed at a hotel for quite some time and I returned home one evening to find some man who was visibly shit-faced. He told me: “This is my parking space. You need to move.” I told him there were no assigned parking places there and that I was not going to move my truck. Later, in my room, I heard what sounded like an awful metallic sound. I looked out the window and saw the same man. He was “keying” my truck. I wanted to yell “What the f*** are you doing you ass****? But I was concerned he might start a fight or worse. This is Texas after all, where men with guns are everywhere. I opted instead to call the local police department in the small suburban town north of Waco where I was living.

The police officer talked to the man and took my report, but did not arrest the vandal. He said he could only do something only if the cop actually saw the drunken fool committing the crime. The officer said I would need to come to police headquarters during working hours and file a complaint.

Just minutes after the police left, out came, once more, the drunken criminal mischief-maker. The troublemaker was hovering around my truck as if he intended to do more damage. I called the cops once again. The cop returned and told the man to get back to his room and stay there, or else he would go to jail for drunkenness.

I filed charges and found out that the man who damaged my truck was arrested and jailed, then soon was released on bail. Someone told me, maybe the suburban police officer, that the man had an argument with his wife that night and checked into the motel.  I don’t know how long it took the case to be disposed of through the county court. I think the charge was classified as a Class B Misdemeanor because of the amount of damage he did. Eventually, the vandal pleaded out and was assessed probation and was ordered to pay me restitution for the damages. I got the check for the amount of money the body work would cost. But I needed the money more than I needed body repair so the scratch remains to this day.

There are other scratches on the pickup from times both remembered and not. A number of tiny bumps can be found on the roof and hood of the truck, the product of at least one particularly intense hail storm near Dallas. I had spent the weekend with a friend when the storm hit. I looked out the window of his house and found the ground covered in white, as if it had snowed. Goodness, gracious, great balls of hail!

More recently someone must have backed into my truck bed, leaving a noticeable dent. Oh well, the scratches and bumps lend a certain amount of character to one’s wheels. I would tend to agree if someone would tell me that these bumps and bruises lower the value of the truck. Nevertheless, I have received several offers for my ride. One day I might just take up one of these offers for the right price. I had about $1,900 worth of repairs made on various mechanical issues this year. That is definitely the most I have spent repairing the truck during the 17 years I have had it. The old Toy-ota still runs well, receives much better mileage than before the repair – definitely a good deal since gas prices here have fallen to $1.50 per gallon – and my old pickup truck built during the last century is street legal.

What more does a man need?

Share

While I will post even less during the next 2 weeks.

Yes, yes, I know the old saying that excuses are like — televisions. Everyone has one — or more. I am taking a break from this blog for about two weeks. I haven’t been contributing as much as I did for quite a few years. But I suppose when you get older you have only so much energy to devote to making a living. And as most of you know, I work for Uncle Sugar, only eight hours shy of working full-time. The days seem to get longer. And I think as a second consideration, I’ve been doing this damn thing for more than 10 years, that’s a while. I kind of feel as if I deserve a little time off, don’t you think?

I didn’t come here to rationalize. Not so much, at least. The real reason for a break is that I have reached a point on my data limit with Verizon that necessitates cutting back on my usage. That means when my 20-gigabite limit is reached, and I assume it will happen soon, I will pay overages of $15 per extra gb used. I supposed that is what they still charge. What raises my hackles is that I have raised my data limit several times over the past few years. I keep going over the mark. I now have 20, up from 15 gigabite a month or two ago.

It seems the more data you have available, the more you are hell-bent to go over the limit.

I don’t know if I was doing a little consumer judo or was just duped into a plan that is for everyone. I’d investigate, but it just takes too much energy, mentally speaking.

A while back I added a Ellipsis to my line for $10 a month. I like reading books on it. I haven’t given up reading “real” books, but one can find some remarkable reads for as little as $10 sometimes. The problem is that the tablet had problems freezing upon start up and once started, it would again freeze. I would ship the tablet off to Verizon and it would come back, working, for an hour or a day. This happened about a third time, and I called Verizon, understandably — I think — frustrated.

I told the person at Verizon that I either wanted a new tablet or we would “go ’round and ’round.” I told her that I had already checked into some different companies’ plans, ones that would pay the early out fees. The woman said: “Oh no, we don’t you want to do that!” I told her that I continued to have overages and hoped to stay that by signing up with a liberal plan — whether that really exists in the U.S. is anyone’s guess. So perky Ms. Verizon person offered an increase of 5 gb and would actually pay less. “Yeah, I bet,” I thought to myself.

I realize that I have become somewhat reckless with the data usage. I do download music or music videos. Of course, I mostly read on the internet. I don’t download movies or using much live streaming. I would say the overages are  basically my fault. However, I have difficulties trying to keep the annoying pop-up videos. It seems as soon as I do something that keeps away these pain-in-the-ass commercials, back they come in full force. I’d like to find out how much these ads add to overages.

There you have it. I will probably post something between now and Jan. 8, 2016, when my data account resets. But if I don’t, you can find my rationalization reasons here.

Oh, by the way, Happy New Year!

Share

Read it and weep. Excess in justice and stupidity.

The Affluenza Kid and his Ma were captured in the Mexico Pacific resort town of Puerto Vallarta. For those unfamiliar with the case,  I’ll provide a few links. I think these news reports and commentary can do more than I in telling a tale of rich excess, and perhaps more importantly, excessive stupidity.

http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2015/12/affluenza_teen_mother_planned.html

http://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article52037270.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/30/us/use-of-affluenza-didnt-begin-with-ethan-couch-case.html?_r=0

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/ct-affluenza-ethan-couch-parents-edit-1230-20151229-story.html

Share

Think. Think. Think. About what Trump’s gonna do to us

Sitting here on Christmas Eve, with a little sip o’ Dew, — think Irish and not Mountain — I can’t help but laugh at the 2016 presidential elections so far.

It seems as those of us who are of the Democrat persuasion should think hard and long about holding our nose to vote in November.

I am not a fan of Hillary Clinton. I didn’t care for Bill all that much. It makes me a bit sad to know Chelsea has to hear things like that, but she grew up with it. Bernie Sanders has his heart in the right place — the chest cavity, right? — I admire that he doesn’t feel the least bit ashamed to say he is a socialist.

The word “socialist” brings fear to the hearts of Americans who never studied sociology or political science. Here is a disclosure: I minored in both fields in college. I think I am short six hours having a second degree in political science. I’ve thought about doing it, getting my second degree. Why with my experience in reporting on government for many years and working for municipal, state and federal governments, it seems like a university should go ahead and just award me my second degree. I am not bragging. I am proud of my varied background.

Back to socialism, the short-sighted ignorantly believe socialism is communism. It’s not. Then, say the S-word haters, it is like France. Well, that is a little closer but it is no cigar. I think Bernie hits on one aspect of our society on which he is absolutely right. That is, the middle class is and has been, an endangered species. You are either rich or you are poor. There is no in between.

The Republican party has many candidates this year. But none of those are really a choice as far as I am concerned.

I still expect, somehow and some time, that Donald Trump will hit a bump. Hey, it’s still okay to rhyme. It’s a free country — for now. Should he make it all the way to the convention next year I still think it will mean turmoil for the Republicans. Perhaps it will not end like the Whigs. But the situation could become a replay of the (God forbid) 1948 Democratic convention.

Former Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, then mayor of Minneapolis, pushed the Democrats to adopt a strong civil rights stance. The measure passed, but barely. Harry Truman was nominated and became elected for the first time. Alben Barkley, a former U.S. Senate majority leader from Kentucky, was the vice president.

The civil rights plank in the Dems platform back in 1948, looking back today, seems like a cynical though proved an accurate way to encourage black voters to elect more Democrat leaders. However, many Southern Democratic leaders back in the day were appalled at the thought of promoting civil rights. The Mississippi and Alabama delegates to the convention, joined by other Southerners, walked out. The bolting members founded what was called the “State’s Rights Party,” a.k.a. the “Dixiecrats,” and nominated that long-living reprobate Sen. Strom Thurmond and Mississippi Gov. Fielding Wright for president. Obviously, the Dixiecrats, were a party in name only. Thurmond served for 48 years as U.S. Senator representing South Carolina.

After dying at the age of 100, a retired Los Angeles school teacher, Essie Mae Washington-Williams, revealed that the long-time senator was her father. Washington-Williams, who was African-American, was acknowledged by the Thurmond family as a relative.

Small world.

Just a few words to say about the Trumpster. He can’t deliver on all his promises unless he plans a military coup. Trump will not drive all illegal immigrants from the states. He is insane to think he can order with a snap of the fingers bombers to “bomb the hell” out of Middle Eastern oil fields. Trump is a blow hard. If he is elected, scary as that sounds, he will be even more isolated from the U.S. Congress than Barack Obama.

Friends, I’m just telling you. Think. You better think (think, think) about what Donald’s going to do to you … Oh freedom, (freedom, freedom, freedom, freedom, yeah freedom.) To paraphrase that great song sang so soulfully by the First Lady of Soul, Aretha Franklin and was written by Ted and Franklin White.

Share

Just regular stuff here. Except for the Obama Chia pet.

Ay yi yi. I have been away from the blog for the week and the whole operation goes to the dogs. Well, not literally. It seems I have some learning to do on new changes to the dashboard from which the ultimate product emanates.

Like thousands upon thousands who are doing their last minute shopping today, I too was spending money . But all the bucks were spent on me, well, sort of.

My brother and his wife will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary on Jan. 2. So far, I bought a suit which I picked up today. I bought myself a white shirt and tie to make my uniform all complete. My brother said he hoped I would wear a dark suit for pictures. I needed a suit anyway. So I should be like ol’ ZZ Top’s hit “Sharp-Dressed Man.”

I also spent about $300 on two new (two for one) pair of glasses. I went to the eye doctor at the VA clinic yesterday. I had originally had symptoms of what could have been a serious retinal tear or else, just something that happens with age. And age had it. If that isn’t enough, I have cataracts. That’s it, it’s official, I’m an old f**k. The doctor said the cataracts were not serious at this point. Apparently, the cataracts are enough to the point that my night vision is not good at all. The doctor said these glasses should help with my eye problems. I hope she is right.

Now I could have gotten a free pair from the VA. I still can and it’s highly likely I will get my VA pair. I am very rough on glasses. I’ve been wearing reading glasses for more than 15 years. And I found that I needed to have a number of back-ups. That can’t be happening with my “real” glasses. I can do it. I can take care of real pairs of corrective lenses. I still have the pair prescribed back in 1995 although I don’t wear them because I can’t see anything with them, meaningful at least.

Okay, that’s what has been happening with my bad self. Oh, I spent the weekend near Dallas with one of best friends and his significant other and her two sons. I enjoyed the visit. My friends have an insane collection of CDs, I ended up recording about 52 albums to my laptop. Now, I need to figure out how I can load them on my phone.

That’s it, folks! No political mumbo jumbo. Whoa, while writing that, a commercial came on the TV for a “Chia Obama.” Now, unlike most people I know, I like Obama. He hasn’t been a FDR. He is more like a regular guy. One who is smart as a whip and not from the patrician background from where so many our presidents began. But a Obama chia pet? What people won’t do for a buck. I hope to write some things over the Christmas holidays. I may. If I am not back tomorrow, have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus for the Rest of Us. Whatever you celebrate or not.

Share

Hot air and plenty of it on CNN

If some big news story broke — like the bomb threat emptying the Los Angeles school district — would CNN or any of the other cable news networks cover it? CNN has given it little thought today, this being the Republican presidential debate day. Well, there is Fox News, but we won’t talk about them. Al Jazzera perhaps, or not.

But all of the CNN stars are back from the terror attack in California and talking non-stop from Las Vegas with the clock ticking away: “15 min. 36 sec.” “22” “11” “02.”

Well, CNN got a record 14 million viewers during the first debate and 13 million in the second one in August. Yeah, buddy. We are talking lots and lots of money. Wolf Blitzer will moderate. Let’s see how many times he says “shocking.”

I will probably watch a little of it — very little. There are new episodes of “NCIS” and “NCIS, New Orleans” to watch.

Oh well, I’m sure the hot air from the Republican candidates on CNN will remain into the 9 p.m. (Central) hour. If not, that’s all that that will be discussed on whomever is hosting the after-debate programs.

Crap. I’m already tired of this election and it is still many months from today.

Share

Border Patrol sure spends a lot of time on I-10

Hidy hi friends and neighbors. I realize it has been a week or so since I last published but, well, you probably don’t want to hear my lame-ass excuse so I will just leave it at that.

Yesterday, I traveled across the border —  of Texas and Louisiana — to Lake Charles for a visit with my brother. He is recuperating in a hospital following a quadruple coronary bypass.

Somewhere between the Texas-Louisiana border and Lake Charles, I spotted the tell-tale white and green SUVs used by the Border Patrol. I think they are called “Customs and Border Protection (CPB)” nowadays although the two trucks sitting in the median of I-10 bore the traditional name of Border Patrol.

I wondered what they were doing there in Southwestern Louisiana less than 30 miles from the Louisiana and Texas border. I see Border Patrol trucks in Beaumont once in awhile but never stalking motorists, at least in this part of the country.

A couple of scenarios about Border Patrol hanging out on I-10 in Southwestern Louisiana, came to mind. Perhaps they had intelligence about some truck coming out of Texas hauling illegals. Perhaps they were making stops of anyone with a brown or olive complexions. I would not be surprised if the agency, part of the Department of Homeland Security, was out there to protect the homeland.

A CPB agent cuffs a Mexican national. Border Patrol photo

A CPB agent cuffs a Mexican national. Border Patrol photo

I found out by searching the Web that the Border Patrol has a station in Lake Charles because, like Beaumont, it is a port city. I also found that a “port of entry” station is located in Port Arthur that also serves Beaumont. The Border Patrol has a number of stations and checkpoints throughout the South and Southwest. Perhaps the most notorious of those can be found at Sierra Blanca, on I-10.

Since 1974 the Border Patrol or CPB as it is now known has maintained a checkpoint near the small town of Sierra Blanca, which is almost 80 miles southeast of El Paso — as the crow flies. Every car traveling east on I-10 must enter that station. It wasn’t much of a big deal from 1977 to 1984, the times during which I most traveled through the station. Back then, the exercise was much like entering back into the U.S. from Ciudad Juarez to El Paso. You didn’t come to a complete stop, most of the time, and would be on your way if you answered the question — Nationality? — from the border agent as “American.” Sometimes there were random checks. I never went through one there in Sierra Blanca, thankfully. I went through a not-so-random check once while riding as a passenger in my friend’s car returning to El Paso.

My friend, who is Mexican-American, said the Border Patrol kept a database of cars that had been involved in previous incidents such as a stop in which pot had been discovered. I don’t think he had ever been busted at the border, but perhaps a friend was wanted on some charge.

So in El Paso, the big German Shepherd dope dog sniffed all through my friend’s car. I knew with reasonable certainty that no pot that was carried back from Mexico. Brought into Mexico, well … ? The dog was sniffing like crazy at what was a portable bar in the trunk. My friend said it was possible some weed had been stashed in it at one time. The agents couldn’t find anything on the car or on us, so there we went on our merry way.

But that was then and this is now. The Border Patrol these days has dogs that supposedly can sniff out drugs of all kinds — and possibly explosives or gun powder — when a vehicle drives up. The people get caught, more often than not, with small amounts of marijuana. It is quite routine in Sierra Blanca, Texas.

Those with many famous names have been popped and eventually taken to the small courthouse in Sierra Blanca where often-overwhelmed deputies will many times write a ticket for possession for a small amount of pot. Among the celebrities were Willie Nelson and Snoop Dog. This process, and how it reflects on a portion of the drug war gone very badly, is told in this excellent Texas Monthly story written by Al Reinert. The writer, who co-wrote the screenplay for “Apollo 13,” was arrested with a small amount a couple of years ago and tells a very entertaining story though it depicts how millions of taxpayers’ dollars are doled out on small-time pot busts in Sierra Blanca.

The checkpoints are numerous in the Southwest. If you want to transport illegal drugs, you best go through one of the checkpoints without drugs and buy them somewhere like Kansas City and head to wherever it is you are going. Then good luck with all the small towns who all have their own drug dog.

I know the CPB does very important work and are a big part of preventing people like the San Bernardino terrorists from killing more Americans. Perhaps the current homegrown or self-radicalized terrorists we are facing like to get high, although it doesn’t seem like any self-respecting Jihadist would be your average pothead. Still, I hope those two Border Patrol trucks I saw yesterday on I-10 in Louisiana aren’t spending their time trying to bust a person with a small amount of marijuana. There are more serious tasks.

It also seems as if these days with all the danger we supposedly face in the homeland, a bong hit might not be the worst treatment for what ails you.

Share

A new low, even for Donald Trump

I don’t think I can add to the statement below. I hope even those who support Trump realize that such a “policy” is xenophobic with a capital “X” or perhaps it is bigotry. Why quibble on words? It is wrong. It is wrong for a leading candidate for a party nomination for president of the United States to even float such a notion.

Read it. Think about it.

 

trump

 

A proposal that would prohibit those of an entire religious group from entering the United States of America — a religion that is the world’s second largest. What if nations, our allies, like the United Kingdom  were to prohibit Episcopals ? What’s next Donald, a war with the Vatican?

If it comes to this, ISIS or Al Quida or whomever these people call themselves, have won.

What insanty!

Share

GOP senators want more guns. Local students call the cops.

It turns out this shooting in San Bernadino, Calif., is more complicated and much likely terrorism of some sort.

This incident takes many paths much like 9/11 but, the pathways are potentially more dangerous if you can get a handle on that. We face threats ahead, some are from our own political hacks. Republican senators shot down (sorry) a bill that would allow those on the FBI’s terror watch list to buy even more guns. The GOP says nothing can be impeded in buying guns. It’s guns, guns and more guns! Our own Texas GOP Sen. John Cornyn, was responsible for that great legislative move. Old bastard, he needs to retire so our Texas voters can vote in another crackpot like Ted Cruz.

I was thinking yesterday how the NRA and its supporters here in Texas want everybody armed and that those Texans should wear those weapons on their hip. That might pose a challenge for some people carrying long guns. I mean, people armed with a handgun would be outgunned with people like this couple in California. Unless! Unless the NRA decides everyone should buy AR-15s or big freakin’ tanks!!!

At least our younger Americans are learning a good history lesson, Unfortunately, some of those lessons are not so good.

Police in Beaumont, Texas, where I live, received several calls during the early afternoon yesterday, saying gunshots were being fired at a Beaumont school district alternative disciplinary center.

 “On Thursday, December 03, 2015 at approximately 2:40 pm Beaumont Police dispatchers received a 911 call of “Someone shooting at Pathways Learning Center, Beaumont Police Officer Jose Ornelas, said in a press release.

“First Officers arrived at 2:47. the caller called a second time at 2:52 saying they are still shooting, Officers began to enter the school and searched room to room and hallway to hallway. The caller made two more calls and said they were passing ‘Target’ (the store) at that time it was determined that the caller was on a school bus. Dispatchers contacted the Bus Dispatchers and advised the bus driver to stop the bus.”

Police found three students, ages 11, 15 and 17 on the bus. Ornelas did not say what the officers did with the kids. Officers did file reports for “Abuse of 911 System.”

The police spokesman said 15 Beaumont police officers responded to the call along with a school district police officer.

Just another day in the life in Beaumont, Texas, USA. The land of guns, guns and more guns,

Share