Saturday, February 25, 2006

A Little Help from a Friend

There have been several instances of late when I was unable -- for whatever reason -- to post for a few days at a time. In the past, both Pops and Shebird have valiantly filled in during my absences. But due to both schedules and health concerns neither my beautiful bride nor my faithful father are currently able to play a very active role in the daily deliberations of the blog.

Because of this, I have invited my good friend Kyle McCreary to join with us here at The Texas Songbird. Kyle is a fellow conservative and Christian and a native Texan living here in the Houston area, but his is probably not quite the face one would expect to see joining the blog. As Pops laughingly remarked, "It sounds like you are trying to add a little lack of color to the place!" Not quite, but I do believe his fresh perspective will fit in well here.

For the time being, Kyle will merely be "guest blogging" from time to time when I have to be absent for a few days. I rather hope that in the future he will agree to play a more active role in the fun that is The Texas Songbird. Please make him feel welcome when he pops in next week.

Toxic Exposure in UT Dorm

According to a report in the Austin American-Statesman, a white powdery substance containing the toxic poison Ricin has been discovered in a University of Texas dormitory.

The dorm was sanitized, and the substance was sent to a laboratory for testing and came back positive for ricin Friday night. University officials said they had not yet determined where it came from.
UT campus newspaper The Daily Texan has more details and a gallery of photos.

Law enforcement officials have taped off a second-floor Moore-Hill dorm room and a first-floor laundry room Saturday after investigators found traces of the deadly toxin Ricin in the building.

A Weapons of Mass Destruction Operations Unit picked up a sample of the toxin in Austin Saturday and will take it to a government facility in Quantico, Va. for more definitive testing, FBI special agent Rene Salinas said. [...snip...]

Two female students from Moore-Hill dormitory were still being treated late Friday for Ricin exposure after coming into contact with the toxin Thursday afternoon, law enforcement and UT officials said.
The white powder was initially discovered in a roll of quarters one student had opened in the laundry room. Authorities have said that neither of the students that were exposed to the powder is showing any symptoms, although both are still being watched and tended to off-campus.

According to authorities, no other students are exhibiting symptoms of exposure to Ricin, a protein-inhibitor that can lead to death or serious injury, which has been used as a biological warfare agent.
The UT Office of Public Affairs has released this news release about the incident. For more information about Ricin, visit the CDC's website.

Hat-tip: Ian at Expose the Left.


UPDATE: Michelle Malkin has more links, including a chronology of events (up to 2004) involving ricin. Jason of Generation Why has pictures and more reporting.

UPDATE #2: 02/27/2006 - After more extensive tests by FBI experts, officials announced on Sunday that the white powder found on campus did not contain Ricin after all.
"We don't know what it is, but it's not anything hazardous," said FBI spokesman Rene Salinas, who added that the agency won't conduct additional tests on the substance.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Happy Birthday, Senator Kennedy

Senator Teddy (hic!) Kennedy celebrated his 74th birthday yesterday with a speech at a Massachusetts community college. But one student in particular was not impressed with the celebrated speaker, and his brief protest may land him in hot water with the school.
Paul Trost, 20, a student at Massasoit Community College in Brockton, Mass., says he was upset by an introduction of Kennedy given by Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., in which the congressman noted how the long-time senator overcame hardship in life on his way to success.
Hardship? The man has ridden his dead brother's name and reputation for 44 years, living like a bejeweled prince in the liberal fiefdom of Massachusetts and worshipped by the commoners of the mainstream media.
"Lynch said Kennedy had overcome such adversity to get to the place he was, and that's a bunch of bull," Trost said of the introduction, which occurred in the school's student center yesterday morning.

Just as Kennedy began speaking, Trost was walking out of the room when he shouted, "Remember Chappaquiddick!"
...
The student says a campus police officer went outside and stopped him. He also saw some state troopers go outside, the type who accompany Kennedy around the state to provide security.

Trost says the cop took down his information and told him he would be hearing from school officials about disciplinary action.
Trost, a liberal arts major who has protested the Iraq war, says he's not a right-winger.

"I tend to have what would be considered liberal views," he explained, "but I go with whatever I think is right."
Would that more liberals had as much conviction.

Interestingly enough, a recent protest by Georgetown students during a speech by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was well covered by the media, with no actions taken by the school administration to discipline or even rebuke the students involved. The Georgetown students, who were much more disruptive than Mr. Trost, stood for most of the speech in the middle of the room, holding a large banner and blocking other attendees' view of Gonzales. The Attorney General's speech was a public defense of the NSA's beleaguered terrorist surveillance program.

Apparently student protest is only allowed if you are in line with the liberal philosophy of academia.

Hat-tip: Ian of Expose the Left (on the Paul Trost story).

Hoop Dreams Come True

And now for the feel good story of the day:
Jason McElwain had done everything he was asked to do for the Greece Athena High School basketball team - keep the stats, run the clock, hand out water bottles.

That all changed last week for the team manager in the final home game of the season. The 17-year-old senior, who is autistic and usually sits on the bench in a white shirt and black tie, put on a uniform and entered the game with his team way ahead.

McElwain proceeded to hit six 3-point shots, finished with 20 points and was carried off the court on his teammates' shoulders.
A great story. Grab some tissues and read the whole thing, then watch the accompanying video report.

Hat-tip: Michelle Malkin

Olympic Outtakes #4

Team Russia at Torino
The bench clears as Team Russia hears rumors of a "wardrobe
malfunction" next door at the figure skating rink.

Hillary's School for Racists and Terrorists

In a rather strange harangue last Tuesday, Senator Hillary "We Are the President!" Clinton tried to voice her opposition to the private school voucher system in such a way as to please everyone. Ms. Clinton appealed to teachers, unions and blacks, while at the same time trying to strike the pose of a national security hawk.

Full of hesitancy and confused pauses, the senator from New York struck out against vouchers with the following argument (paraphrased): If we allow vouchers for private secular and conventional religious (for example, Catholic and Jewish) schools, then how do can prevent giving vouchers for bad schools (her examples: "the School of the Church of the White Supremacist" or "the School of the Jihad"). In essence, according to Hillary, school vouchers will lead to government-funded schools for racism and terrorism.

As pointed out by The Independent Conservative, this is just a bunch of malarkey!
I’m not sure what brand of stupid juice some politicians are drinking this week, but she’s telling one of the boldest faced lies I’ve heard all year! No school receiving vouchers would be able to discriminate based on race, given it is unconstitutional. Individuals can choose to attend a school that endorses a faith and use a voucher, given the individual and not the government selects the school. But the government can withhold vouchers from a school that engages in racism. This is supported by the 8-1 US Supreme Court decision in Bob Jones University v. United States. ... An overwhelming majority of the US Supreme Court decided that the government can adjust the tax status of an institution engaging in blatant racism in the name of religion. So the government would be able to deny vouchers to schools that try and teach racism. Of course any school teaching radical Islam would be shut down, never mind them trying to get vouchers.
[Emphasis added by Songbird.]
FOX News Channel's Hannity & Colmes invited conservative columnist and radio talk show host Larry Elder on the show Wednesday night to talk about Sen. Clinton's assertions. (See the full interview on video at Expose the Left.) Elder quickly exposed the basis behind the attack:
Hannity: "I think everything she does is politically calculated now. What is the politics behind this?"

Elder: "Unions. Teachers unions. They oppose vouchers, they oppose (quote) 'anything that's going to take money away from the school system.' So they oppose merit pay. They support things like social promotions. They have stood in the way of virtually every kind of innovation that we could propose. The Democratic Party is wedded to the unions and the unions..." [The rest is indecipherable, as Alan Colmes begins speaking over the guest.]
Mr. Elder just as easily dismisses the assertion that the government cannot control which types of schools would be eligible to use vouchers. It is already being done at the college level.
"We have that kind of system with colleges and universities. We have, in a sense, a voucher -- a Pell Grant. And you can take it to Notre Dame; you can take it to a state school, a private school. And because of that competition, our colleges and universities are among the best in the world."
Alan Colmes tries several weak arguments to either back Ms. Clinton's assertions or distract Elder from the main topic, but Larry just uses facts and reason to hammer the point. As is often the case, the liberal Colmes is defenseless against such weapons.

(Transcript follows of most of the second half of the interview. Visit Expose the Left for the full video, including Hillary's statements.)
Colmes: "You know that vouchers are pushed by people who have a religious agenda. They want to be able to have the money go to their schools. Yes, their pushed by Christian groups [sounded more like he said Christian kooks to me] -- that's where most of the money comes that's pushed vouchers because they feel they're underserved by the public schools. So if you're gonna say this is a Catholic school and we give you a voucher, government voucher; this is a Jewish school -- as she said. A Jihadist school comes forward, theoretically, and says, 'We're gonna do this kind of school,' who decides what a religious group is?

Elder: "There're going to be all sorts of ties and strings, just as there are ties and strings for Pell Grants. One of those would be, if you advocate the violent overthrow of this country, you cannot get a voucher. I mean, come on!"

Colmes: "Alright, but let's say you worship the Church of Satan. You don't want the overthrow of the government, but you have some reli-- Who decides what a religious group is that's worthy of a voucher? Someone's gonna have to make that determination."

Elder: "How are we doing it at the college and university level? We're giving Pell Grants to people that want to go to Notre Dame, Jesuit schools, Jewish schools, private schools, state schools."

Colmes: "But with vouchers, anybody can set themselves up as a school based on any religion that they choose to call a religion. Someone's gonna have to make a determination and say, 'You get a voucher. You don't get a voucher.' That's what Hillary was talking about, and that's a very realistic scenario."

Elder: "Because someone has to make that determination, therefore we ought not have vouchers? [Colmes tries to interrupt, Elder keeps going.] You said that people pushing this are people that want religious schools. In the inner city, in California where there was a referendum on vouchers -- it failed, but it passed in the inner city. It wasn't a religious agenda. They know that there's a 50% dropout rate in the inner city, and parents who care want to have a choice! Hillary had a choice, she sent her daughter to Sitwell Friends in Washington, DC. She just doesn't want other people to have a choice."

[...snip...]

Colmes: "It takes money, Larry, out of the public school system and puts it into private vouchers..."

Elder: "So what?"

Colmes: "... and takes the people ... the greater group of people who need public education -- because even with private vouchers you're gonna have to spend money that the vouchers don't cover. So it's only gonna serve those who have the most amount of money to go to private schools. The greater number of people, the poorest of the poor, are ill served by the voucher system."

Elder: "In Cleveland and in Milwaukee, where they have vouchers, it has not destroyed the public school system."

Colmes [interrupting]: "Not yet!"

Elder: "In fact, there is some evidence that the public school system has gotten better because of the competition. What you don't get it, the 50% dropout rate in the inner city, the bad schools, the schools that have the low expectations -- this is really hurting people that can't get to the middle class! And parents want out! They want options!"

Colmes: "Someone has to decide what a religion is, who gets the vouchers. Someone has to be the arbiter of that. The government should not be..."

Elder: "... By the way, private schools and parochial schools are about 50% less than what we're spending on public education. We're spending $10,000 a pop in California."

Colmes [interrupting]: "Then put the money in public school." [What?!?]

Elder: "$10,000 a pop. They always want more money."

Hannity: "Larry, you're exposing the unions here, who've got to hold the alliance with Democrats, number one. And number two, liberals are not pro-choice, are they?"

Elder: "No they're not!"

The Buckshot Heard 'Round the World

Yes, it's serious. Yes, it's embarrassing (and troubling) for the Vice President and the current administration. Yes, we feel horrible for Mr. Whittington. But it's still funny!

Previously we told you about a visual explanation of the recent hunting accident by Mr. Cheney, and last week Pops shared these gems with us.

But wait, there's more!

Lone Star Times adds to the hilarity with Cheney's got a gun...

Or you can try your own hand at hunting with Dick. (Hat-tip for this link my friend Kyle, who reminds us to hit the space bar to reload after three shots.)

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Blogging Lite

Blogging will be light to non-existent today (as, unfortunately, it has been most of this week) as I will be stuck in budget and planning meetings all day again. Hopefully things will return to normal by tomorrow -- especially since the company calendar says this stuff was supposed to be wrapped up by end of day yesterday!

Olympic Outtakes #3

Hockey fans from the Netherlands go all out in Torino
Brokeback Olympics

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Olympic Outtakes #2

Swedish curling fans in Torino
Oh, those crazy Swedes!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Blob-Blogging


Most of my readers hail from Texas, but just in case any of you live in (or are visiting) Los Angeles... RUN AWAY!!!
A mysterious black blob attacked downtown Los Angeles on Monday with a tar-like goo that oozed from manholes, buckled a street and unmoored a Raymond Chandler-era brick building, firefighters said.

About 200 residents were forced to flee as a hazardous materials team and dozens of firefighters worked throughout the day to identify what was first deemed "a black tarry substance" and later morphed into a "watery mud."
I think they made a movie about this once (or twice). Another case of life imitating art. Or if not art, then Hollywood.

For the Reading Impaired

Our buddy Brainster has outlined the entire Cheney hunting incident in pictures, for the intellectually challenged liberals out there. Hilarious!

Hint: if you aren't sure what a particular picture means, hover over the image and look at the image file name in your browser status bar.

The Primary Has Begun

Today is the first day of early voting in the state primaries here in Texas. If you are registered to vote in Harris County, you are allowed to vote early at any of the 32 official Harris County Early Voting locations scattered around the area. To find the location nearest you, as well as the hours of operation, click here [PDF file]. Early voting continues through March 3.

C.L.O.U.T. Texas, a growing grass-roots organization working for local and state tax reform, has released its endorsements for the Republican Primary, including endorsements for several local state senate and house districts as well as the four GOP ballot propositions. One additional endorsement (or anti-endorsement, as the case may be) that I would add is to skip voting for the office of Lieutenant Governor. The current Lt. Gov., David "Darth" Dewhurst, is expected to win both the primary and the general election without any real competition, but we need to send him a message that the people of Harris County (which represent approximately a third of Republican voters in the state) do not appreciate his attitudes toward the conservative platform of our state party, especially his complete lack of support (and even antagonistic posturing) for meaningful tax reform and a lowering of the current 10% "appraisal cap" that is slowly driving so many Texans out of their own homes. Go to CLOUT's website for more information on tax reform and the appraisal cap issue.

You can find more information about the primary elections at the Harris County Clerk's Election website.

UPDATE: Well, I am proud to say that I have already voted in the primary. I planned a long lunch today for our project team -- we went out for Tex-Mex together, and then all (except our two non-citizen programmers) went together to go vote. We even took our token brain-washed liberal with us to vote in the Democrat primary! ;-> I think this team lunch-n-vote is becoming a tradition; it's the third time we've done it, even though this is the first time we have been able to get everyone to participate. Some of these young people had never actually voted before the last presidential election, and most had never before participated in a state primary.

I would love to hear from any of my readers when you vote! You don't have to say who you voted for, or even which primary. I just want to know that as many as possible are being active in our election process!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Olympic Outtakes #1

Is it just me, or do the Russian speed skaters look like they should be in a Target® commercial?

And doesn't this guy look just like Jaws from the James Bond movies? Uncanny.

Black Ice in Italy

In light of the recent Bryant Gumbel remarks about the Winter Olympics not being black enough, I wanted to point out a great series of posts on another blog that is highlighting some of the outstanding black athletes that are participating in the Olympics this winter. Shay of Booker Rising has been presenting this series that is as informative as it is enjoyable.

The athletes that have been featured so far:
[Originally posted 02/18/2006, updated with latest 'Black Ice' series links.]

Friday, February 17, 2006

Not Black Enough for Gumball

Ian of Expose the Left points us to the latest comments of newsroom reject Bryant Gumbel, who earlier this week was lamenting the onset of the Winter Olympics. Among his negative comments were hidden these race-baiting, political gems:
...[T]ry not to laugh when someone says these are not the world's greatest athletes, despite a paucity of blacks that makes the Winter Games look like a GOP convention.
Or, more accurately, like a DNC presidential administration.

Ian, who as always has the video, remarks,
Basically what Gumbel is saying is, "I don't watch the Winter Olympics because they're not black enough." Pointing out a racial divide to make a political low blow? Sad to say it, but there is now bias in the sports media.

Creativity on the Border

Despite the blind eye turned toward the subject from Washington, citizens across the nation are both seeing and feeling the growing problems caused by the unfettered influx of illegal aliens. Our southern borders are no better than a sieve, with thousands pouring through the holes each month. And in spite of the national security threat posed by this ever-increasing daily flow of lawbreakers entering our country illegally, the national government continues to discount and even ignore the issue.

But one state is beginning to show a little chutzpah in the border wars. Earlier this month, Arizona lawmakers made two imaginative moves in the effort to stem the flood of illegal immigration.

In the first, Arizona Republicans have proposed a new measure to build a security wall along the Mexican border. Nothing new. The innovation comes in the proposed way to pay for the wall.
Mexican immigrants and nationals working in the U.S. sent $20 billion back to Mexico in 2005, according to the Federal Reserve Bank in Dallas. The proposed ballot question would assess a new 8 percent tax on international money transfers from Arizona. Those funds would be used [to] construct the wall and pay for other border security efforts.
The state proposal will appear on the ballot this year for Arizona voters to approve or reject.

Days after the announcement of that proposal, Arizona's Senate Finance Committee voted to accept an even more controversial measure to help pay for the high price of all the illegals flooding the state.
Unable to get the federal government to pick up the state's costs of illegal immigration, the Senate Finance Committee voted Thursday for a little bit of self-help with a plan to take possession of what Arizona taxpayers are supposed to pay to Uncle Sam.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Dean Martin, R-Phoenix, sees the tax seizure as a "Boston Tea Party," Southwestern style.

Under the proposed law, Arizonans would continue to fill out their federal tax returns and file them with the Internal Revenue Service, but send the actual check to the state Department of Revenue.
I'm not sure that either of these proposals are the answer, or even part of the answer. But it sure is nice to see someone actually applying a little thought and creativity to the problem, instead of either ignoring it (like the Department of Homeland Security) or trying to just make it "go away" (like the president) with an ill-advised amnesty program for federal lawbreakers.

And in spite of his recent tough talk about border security, we are still waiting for Gov. Rick Perry to emulate the Democratic Governor of Arizona, who sent members of the Arizona National Guard to help patrol the border.

In the News Again

It looks like Houston Mayor Pro-Tem Carol Alvarado is in the spotlight again, this time for the actions of her subordinates rather than her own colorful language.
...[F]our of Carol Alvarado's staff members were allegedly given huge improper bonuses.
...
[Documents] show the four workers were paid $130,000 in bonuses, illegally, the mayor said.

The documents show Rosita Hernandez' base pay was $72,000 and she got $48,000 in bonus pay.

Florence Watkins' base pay was $50,000 and she received nearly $47,000 in bonus pay.

Christopher Mays' base salary was $40,000, but you can tack on a $20,000 bonus.

Theresa Ortiz was supposed to only make $29,000, but received a bonus of $17,000.
Almost makes you want to take a job as a civil servant. Of course, Ms. Alvarado denied any knowledge of the "irregularities," but some former officeholders wonder.
"It is possible, I suppose, that the staff did it without her knowledge, but if that happened they're possibly looking at some jail time because they did not follow the procedures.," said former Councilmember Mark Goldberg.

"You hired three of the people who have been put on administrative leave. Had one of them under your direction been given a $50,000 bonus, would you have known that? That would double their salary. That would have had to come through me. I would have to sign off on that," said former Mayor Pro Tem Gordon Quan.
Sounds like Ms. Alvarado has some 'splainin' to do!

UPDATE: David Benzion and Anne Linehan have more on this story.

Brokeback Crooning

I've always known that country music legend Willie Nelson leaned a little to the liberal side, but I guess I never really knew just how far he leaned.
Country music outlaw Willie Nelson sang "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys" and "My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys" more than 25 years ago. He released a very different sort of cowboy anthem this Valentine's Day.

"Cowboys Are Frequently, Secretly (Fond of Each Other)" may be the first gay cowboy song by a major recording artist. ... [T]he song features choppy Tex-Mex style guitar runs and Nelson's deadpan delivery of lines like, "What did you think all them saddles and boots was about?" and "Inside every cowboy there's a lady who'd love to slip out."
Makes you take another look at those old lyrics by old Shotgun Willie: Sadly, in search of, but one step in back of, themselves and their slow-movin' dreams.

Stranger Than Fiction

In what could easily be confused for a comic book story plot from the 1950s or 60s, British rescue boats and a helicopter were sent last Wednesday on a bogus rescue mission. The culprit? A faulty telly.
The coast guards scrambled after a rescue coordination center in Scotland picked up what it believed to be a distress signal coming from the sea off southern England.

But communications experts later traced the signal to the digital television set-top box in the home of 67-year-old Mary Donaldson in the southwestern port of Plymouth.
It's a mechanical conspiracy, I tell you. Those darn new-fangled contraptions are going to take over the world!

Alive Again

Please forgive, once again, the extended absence this week. I got back in town Tuesday evening to find most of the family sick, and by the next morning I had picked up the bug as well. Fever blogging is rarely fun, and almost never fun for the reader, so I have just stayed away for as long as I could manage.

I am not promising anything monumental for today, but at least wanted to let everyone know we are alive and kicking. Or at least breathing. For the most part.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Roasting Cheney

(Just trying to keep the place alive until Songbird returns...)

From Cox & Forkum:



From Lucianne.com:



From David Letterman:
Top Ten Dick Cheney Excuses

10. "Heart palpitation caused trigger finger to spasm"
9. "Wanted to get the Iraq mess off the front page"
8. "Not enough Jim Beam"
7. "Trying to stop the spread of bird flu"
6. "I love to shoot people"
5. "Guy was making cracks about my lesbian daughter"
4. "I thought the guy was trying to go 'gay cowboy' on me"
3. "Excuse? I hit him, didn't I?"
2. "Until Democrats approve medicare reform, we have to make some tough choices for the elderly"
1. "Made a bet with Gretzky's wife"

Picture of the Day

Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Remembering Coretta Scott King

White House photo by Eric Draper: Coretta Scott King and President George W. BushWith all the hooplah surrounding the political rally that broke out in the middle of the funeral for Mrs. King earlier this month, many may have come away with the idea that Mrs. King herself was a supporter of the anti-Bush movement. The Independent Conservative reminds us that this was not at all the case:
The White House has wisely put a page on the Whitehouse.gov web site titled: Remembering Coretta Scott King. The page features photos of the President and Laura Bush with Coretta Scott King.

Given some of the statements made at her funeral, it is a good thing that the White House released these photos. Because some Liberals give the impression, that maybe Coretta Scott King was a disrespectful Bush-hater, like they are themselves. The photos prove that she was a woman who respected President George W. Bush and met with him on several occasions. They may not have agreed on some of the issues, but they were able to be personable and respectful to each other.
What a shame that the same could not be said of some who took part in that disgraceful event.

Target Practice

Someone please tell me, just how stupid do you have to be to pull a stunt like this?
A man fired shots near a group of Fort Hood soldiers as they gathered for a formation exercise Monday morning, but authorities said he injured no one before being captured outside the military post.

The man's name has not been released, but he is believed to be a civilian, post spokeswoman Dalena Kanouse said.
I have spent a little time at Fort Hood in the past, and unless things have changed a lot I cannot imagine this fellow could have possibly expected to get away from there in one piece. This would be just another Monday morning live round training exercise for those soldiers. I'm just surprised there was anything left of the fellow for the authorities to capture!

Blogging Lite

Just a quick note to say that the blogging will be very light, if not non-existent, over the next couple of days, as I am heading out of town on business. If nothing unexpected comes up, I will be back on Wednesday.

Happy Monday, and all that jazz!

Radio-Active in Iraq

[Originally posted 2/10/06. Updated (2/13/06) with latest journal entries from Edd, plus link to Laura's photo blog from Iraq.]

As reported earlier this week, local conservative talk show host Edd Hendee is in the midst of his second trip to Iraq, this time accompanied by nationally syndicated talk show host Laura Ingraham. Edd has been broadcasting part of his regular morning drive-time show via satellite phone from various locations around Iraq, and has been bringing plenty of news to his listeners of the real state of affairs in the newly democratic country -- news that you just don't hear anywhere else in the media.

Edd will be flying back home to Houston this weekend, but he has sent along plenty of daily journal entries over the week to document his journeys and discoveries. Use the following links to read his comments on Lone Star Times, or visit Laura Ingraham's Iraq Journal for her take on the week, and see her great set of photos from the trip.
Thursday morning, Edd shared some fantastic numbers reported by the head of operations in Baghdad. One of the most interesting that I remember was that the Iraqi Army is now handling 25% of military operations -- that's one out of every four operations -- outside the wire, and they expect that number to increase rapidly. We just aren't hearing these kinds of reports from the mainstream media.

UPDATE: Blogger Ian of Expose the Left has the audio of Luara Ingraham's mini-summary of her Iran journal, recorded from her interview with Sean Hannity. -- Songbird, 02/11/2006

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Photo-Blogging from Iraq

Edd and Laura in Iraq, click for more photosEdd Hendee and Laura Ingraham in Iraq

As previously reported, Edd Hendee (KSEV Radio) and Laura Ingraham have spent the last week reporting from all over Iraq. In reading through their respective daily journal blog posts, I had previously missed Laura's fantastic set of photos from the trip -- and they are certainly worth sharing!

For links to Edd's and Laura's daily journal entries, see this post. For more great photos from Laura's site, click here.

Warrantless Wiretapping, Media-Style

The news has been full for weeks with the focus of Democrats and the media on warrantless wiretapping and "illegal" electronic surveillance by President Bush and the NSA. However, the tables were turned on Friday as capitol bureau reporters caught a chance to listen in on the private words of the president as he addressed Republican lawmakers.
...[S]omeone forgot to turn off the audio feed to the White House press room several miles away.

"I want to share some thoughts with you before I answer your questions," Bush told the lawmakers, unaware that microphones feeding into the press room were on. "First of all, I expect this conversation we're about to have to stay in the room. I know that's impossible in Washington."

With reporters eavesdropping at the White House, Bush launched into a defense of his National Security Agency eavesdropping program. His talking points were much the same as his public ones.
Captain Ed of Captain's Quarters shares the following reflections:
Wow ... what a shock! The press had a golden opportunity to nail Bush -- but they discovered that he tells the same story behind closed doors that he tells the American public. They discovered that the GOP has no great conspiracy ... just a President trying his best to defend his country from terrorist attacks.
As for the details the president shared with the House Republicans in attendance, Houston Comical correspondent Julie Mason reports the following:
"I wake up every morning thinking about a future attack, and therefore, a lot of my thinking, and a lot of the decisions I make are based upon the attack that hurt us," Bush said.

NSA devised the program at the president's behest after the 2001 terrorist attacks, Bush said. Without court warrants, the agency wiretaps calls and reviews e-mail ending or originating in the United States involving terror suspects.

"I talked to the people whose job it is to protect the American people, and I said, 'Are we doing everything we can to protect the people?' " Bush said.

Bush said the White House counsel and the Justice Department agreed that the NSA program was legal.

"We had the program analyzed legally, but I recognized that wasn't going to be enough. And so we put constant checks on the program," he said.
Interestingly enough, former President Jimmy Carter, who recently publicly castigated Pres. Bush over the wiretapping issue, did the same thing during his administration for use in the conviction of two suspected spies.
The men, Truong Dinh Hung and Ronald Louis Humphrey, challenged their espionage convictions to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, which unanimously ruled that the warrantless searches did not violate the men's rights.

In its opinion, the court said the executive branch has the "inherent authority" to wiretap enemies such as terror plotters and is excused from obtaining warrants when surveillance is "conducted 'primarily' for foreign intelligence reasons.
...
Administration officials say the president has constitutional authority to conduct surveillance without warrants in the name of national security. The only way Congress could legitimately curtail that authority, they argue, is through an amendment to the Constitution.

The administration's view has been shared by previous Democrat administrations, including Mr. Carter's.

When Mr. Bell testified in favor of FISA, he told Congress that while the measure doesn't explicitly acknowledge the "inherent power of the president to conduct electronic surveillance," it "does not take away the power of the president under the Constitution."

Friday, February 10, 2006

Michael Moore Found Guilty!

I almost fell out of my chair a few moments ago when I saw this headline:

Michael Moore Guilty in Pregnant Woman's Murder

Turns out it was a different Michael Moore. Too bad -- the guy is expected to get life behind bars...

UPDATE: I must not have been the only one to wonder about the "Michael Moore" headline. They have changed the headline to just read "Moore..." now. Heh. -- Songbird, 02/11/2006

Radio-Active on the Border

Dan Patrick, the station manager and regular afternoon talk show host of KSEV Radio in the Houston metropolitan area, is currently taking a hiatus from the radio waves to run for the District 7 seat of the Texas State Senate. During this time, however, he has not relinquished the radio-active reputation of his popular conservative talk show. Dan has remained active in the push for conservative values and leadership in Texas, and has built those conservative values into his Patrick Pact with Texas.

Early this week, Dan made a trip down to the Texas-Mexico border at the invitation of one of the border sheriffs. This is his report on his trip. (Since the report has not yet been posted to Dan's campaign site, I am reprinting it in its entirety for the purpose of sharing this information with as many readers as possible.)

DAN PATRICK TRAVELS TO BORDER
TO SEE PROBLEMS FIRST HAND

Leading Senate candidate goes out on night patrol with Sheriff’s deputies

DEL RIO, TEXAS – At the request of local law enforcement, Dan Patrick, candidate for Texas Senate – District 7, traveled to Del Rio to see the border problems first hand.

Upon arriving, Val Verde County Sheriff’s deputies adorned Mr. Patrick in a flak jacket and then escorted Dan to some of this county’s border hot spots. Sheriff’s deputies lead Dan to this area’s high target areas for illegal drug trafficking, illegal border crossings and crime areas associated with illegal immigrants. The group’s activities, conducted under the cover of darkness, lasted until 4:00 AM this morning before day light operations began at 9:00 AM.

The entourage’s first stop was “Vega Terrace,” a United States Port of Entry where authorities confiscated over 2,000 pounds of marijuana in the month of January. Additional seizures on Monday and Wednesday of last week netted 374 and 362 pounds respectively.

The group’s next stop was “Vega Verde,” where illegal immigrants burglarized residences on multiple occasions during the summer of 2005. After the homes had been pillaged, illegal immigrants set fire to the homes that were once owned by law-abiding, tax-paying Texans.

According to local law enforcement officials, border crossings in recent years have taken a more violent turn. What once were attempts to seek prosperity and opportunity, turned into border invasions to commit crimes, traffic drugs or smuggle people into Texas. This county has documented cases of illegal immigrants from El Salvador, Cuba, Guatemala, Nicaragua and other Central American countries. What is most disconcerting to local law enforcement officials, is the number of “people of interest” from countries on the Homeland Security’s terrorist watch list that have been detained in this rural county.

Just two Val Verde County Sheriff’s deputies are responsible for patrolling approximately 3,600 square miles of this rugged border county. This county’s 50,000 residents depend on just thirteen deputies to protect their lives and property from border insurgents.

“I am grateful that Mr. Patrick took the time out his busy schedule to come down and see the problems we are facing. You cannot get an appreciation for our challenges without spending a night on the front line,” Val Verde County Sheriff’s Deputy Jose Luis Blancarte.

“I am never ceased to be amazed with the courage and determination of local law enforcement officers to protect our border. Despite being out gunned and out manned they are doing their best to hold the line against those who invade our country. They need our help now. As Senator, helping these courageous lawmen will be my highest priority. In the interim, my plan is to raise up to $100,000 in private funds for the Border Sheriffs’ Association to be used at their discretion. Even though it is the federal government’s responsibility to protect our border, it is Texas’ problem. The Republican Party in Texas needs to take the lead in solving this problem. I am grateful that Governor Perry is taking the initiative to support our Sheriffs. He will have a strong ally with me in the Senate,” Dan Patrick said before returning to Houston.

No Defense for Self-Defense

Rorschach brings us this news of the Scarlet Letter, Iranian-style:
In Iran, there is a 18 year old girl that has been sentenced to death. Her crime? Self Defense. You see last year when she was still 17, she and her neice were attacked by two men. These men tried to rape them. The seventeen year old drew a knife and stabbed one in the hand, he ran off. She stabbed the other in the chest as he attempted to rape her. He died. An Islamic Court found her guilty of murder. Amnesty International has pled for mercy, not because she was defending herself, Oh no! But because she was a minor at the time, they argue she should spend the rest of her life in prison instead.
So much for the religion of peace. Again.

Heroes of the Texas National Guard

[As posted to Lone Star Times.]

1st Lt. John 'Doc' Brown attends to rescued ferry passenger

We all saw and heard the reports of the tragic ferry disaster last week in the Red Sea, where more than a thousand people were lost at sea. What we will probably never see or hear in the Houston media is that two heroes of the Texas National Guard played an important role in the rescue of survivors from the sunken ferry.
Soldiers of the 1st Squadron, 124th Cavalry Regiment, Texas National Guard, recently deployed to the Sinai Peninsula as part of a multinational mission to observe the peace between Egypt and Israel. Then the unit commander, Lt. Col. Lee D. Schnell, received a call.

After the Egyptian ferry Al Salam Boccaccio went down in the Red Sea Feb. 4, the Italian navy, which has a unit patrolling that body of water as part of the multinational mission, made an urgent request for medical personnel. In response, Colonel Schnell immediately deployed 1st Lt. John "Doc" Brown, a physician assistant, and Master Sgt. Earl Redrick, a medic, to the area.

"It took us seven or eight hours to get to the scene in a boat that was designed to patrol the coastline, not necessarily open sea," Lieutenant Brown said. "We patrolled for 12 hours, but initially all we found were empty rafts, until we found a lone survivor. He was very weak, but he managed to pull himself onto the boat. We got him out of his wet clothes, listened to his lungs and stabilized him."
Lt. Brown and Master Sgt. Redrick were able to save a total of seven people, most of whom were dehydrated and barely conscious after spending 24 hours fighting for survival in the open water.
At the conclusion of the search and rescue effort, Commander Paolo Spagnoletta of the multinational force and observers shared with Colonel Schnell a letter of gratitude written by one of the survivors rescued by multinational forces ships.
letter of gratitude

This is a fantastic story of the dedication and valor shown on a daily basis by our Texas Guardsmen and throughout the U.S. military. So often all we hear in the American and international media are stories of bloodthirsty soldiers that relish the killing and torturing of innocents. This is the real picture of the American soldier, whose purpose is simply to do whatever he can to make this world a better and safer place.

Colonel Schnell's comments sum it up quite nicely:
"Responding to a maritime disaster was certainly something we did not specifically train for, but the professionalism and training of the Army National Guard Soldier allows us to respond to almost anything, anytime and anywhere."

Thanks to LST reader Dan Densford for the tip and the photos.

We've Reached a Turning Point

Hello, friends! As most of you know, I do not post very often, and especially in the last few months just have not felt like spending much time at the computer. But I wanted to share a quick little pointer to an article that is very near and dear to my heart.

According to an article in yesterday's USA Today, it looks like we may be reaching a turning point in the fight against cancer here in the United States.
The number of annual deaths from cancer has fallen for the first time in more than 70 years, researchers announced today.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 556,902 Americans died of cancer in 2003, 369 fewer than in 2002.

While the decline is small, it suggests the country has reached a "turning point" in the fight against cancer, says Michael Thun, who heads epidemiologic research for the American Cancer Society.

Have a happy and blessed weekend!

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!

Ha! Definitely the best church commercial I've ever heard!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Playing Chicken

Okay, I realize it's from Arkansas, but this one is just plain weird!

Un momento del silencio, por favor

Rebecca Webb Carranza -- not a household name, at least not in very many households -- passed away last month at the grand old age of 98. If you have never heard of the lady, I'm betting you have at least partaken of her very tasty contribution to the culinary world. Mrs. Carranza was the inventor and grand matron of that staple of Tex-Mex restaurants and Super Bowl parties, the tortilla chip!
In the late 1940, the Carranza family's Los Angeles-gaxed El Zarape Tortilla Factory began making tortillas by machine, but at first many of the corn and flour disks were misshapen and had to be thrown away.

Carranza took some of the rejects home for a party, cut them into triangles and fried them. The result was a huge hit with her guests and she began selling them for 10 cents a bag. By the 1960s the Tort Chips, as they were called, were El Zarape's main business.
We plan to pay our respects by overeating at El Corral today.

Bush's Bully or Patron of Peace?



From U.S. Newswire:
Two Americans who played a major role in exposing Iran's secret nuclear weapons plans have been nominated for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.

United Nations Ambassador John Bolton and longtime Iran investigator Kenneth R. Timmerman were nominated for their repeated warnings and documentation of Iran's secret nuclear buildup and revealing Iran's "repeated lying" and false reports to the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Just last year, Bolton was castigated by the Democrats -- and even a few Republican lawmakers -- as a bully and even a warmonger, someone who liberals said could never master the level of diplomacy required for such an important post. As the Cypercast New Service reports:
Last year, Democrats and a few Republicans refused to confirm Bolton to the U.N. post, forcing President Bush to resort to a recess appointment.
...
Bolton's supporters complained that Bolton was the target of a Democrat smear campaign. A number of Democrats and some Republicans complained about Bolton's brusque dealings with co-workers and underlings.

One of Bolton's Republican critics -- Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio -- now says he thinks Bolton is doing a good job. ... "At this stage of the game I am pleased with the progress that is being made here and the team that he has gathered together here."
Of course, the fact that Ambassador Bolton has been nominated for the auspicious award does by no means guarantee he will receive it. In fact, some would say that becoming a Nobel Prize Laureate would put Mr. Bolton in somewhat dubious company. Recent recipients include:
  • Mohamed El Baradei (2005), director of the IAEA, who for years denied the suggestion that Iran was working to develop nuclear weapons
  • Jimmy Carter (2002), former President of the United States, "for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts"
  • Kofi Annan (2001), Secretary General of the United Nations, who worked for years to line the pockets of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, as well as his own, through the "oil-for-food" scandal
  • Yassar Arafat (1994), for his "efforts to create peace in the Middle East"
At this rate, maybe they'll just give the prize to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Did Curiosity Kill the Cat?

Everyone's favorite story time monkey makes his debut on the big screen this weekend, but the movie may open with a little more mystery than was included in the original storyboard.
The bloodied body of a collaborator on the Curious George series of children's books and films was found covered in garbage bags in the driveway of his home.

Alan Shalleck's body was there for at least a day while neighbors passed by, assuming it was a heap of trash, before a maintenance man discovered it Tuesday. Police said they were treating the case as a possible homicide, but wouldn't disclose details about how he died.
Shalleck worked with Margret Rey -- who, with husband Hans, created Curious George in the early days of World War II -- on close to 30 books about the mischievous little monkey, and wrote and directed over a hundred short film episodes of Curious George for the Disney Channel. There is as yet no indication that Shalleck's untimely death is at all related to Friday's opening of the new animated feature film.

But I hear police are on the lookout for a man in a big yellow hat...

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Mourning the Passing of Coretta Scott King

Coretta Scott King AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais; click to view slideshow

Thousands of mourners filled the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia, today to say their last goodbyes to Coretta Scott King. The crowd of more than ten thousand included many famous faces, many of whom participated in the service: Oprah Winfrey, Gladys Knight, Jesse Jackson, Ted Kennedy, and many more. The funeral was also attended by four U.S. presidents -- five if you count Hillary "We are the President!" Clinton.

President George W. Bush shared a solemn tribute for the great lady:
"I've come today to offer the sympathy of our entire nation at the passing of a woman who worked to make our nation whole," President Bush told King's four children and the crowd that filled New Birth Missionary Baptist Church for the funeral of the widow of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

"Coretta Scott King not only secured her husband's legacy, she built her own," Bush said. "Having loved a leader, she became a leader, and when she spoke, Americans listened closely."
Former President Clinton drew laughs as he saluted in the way that only Bill Clinton could.
"I don't want us to forget that there's a woman in there, not a symbol," Clinton said...
There were many tears, many smiles, and many laughs shared by all as the celebrated list of speakers and singers paid tribute to Mrs. King. But in the end, just as happened three months ago, both the funeral service and Monday night's memorial service were turned into political rallies.
At a service Monday night, the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton galvanized the crowd with fiery speeches that blasted the government and public figures for trying to make the King legacy their own while doing nothing for world peace or poor black Americans.

"We can't let them take her from us and reduce her to their trophy and not our freedom fighter," Jackson said.
Of course, the irony in the good reverend's statements is that so-called black leaders like Jackson and Sharpton have done exactly what they blame the government for doing. They have usurped the "color-blind" dream of Dr. Martin Luther King and turned it into a condemnation of all things not colored; they have hijacked Dr. King's vision of racial unity and twisted it into a self-promulgating message of racial intolerance. And in doing so, they have "done nothing for world peace or poor black Americans."

Unfortunately, today's service offered more of the same, if a bit subdued, with Rev. Joseph Lowry and even former president Jimmy Carter joining in the act. (Expose the Left has the videos -- see the links above.)

I cannot help but wonder if this is really the dream the Kings shared.

UPDATE: Some other related links: View the official order of service / program for the funeral here [PDF]. Also, the Independent Conservative's live-blogged much of the service.

Washington's Revolutionary Wiretapping

The Democrats in Washington are having a good laugh over Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' recent misspeak about George Washington's use of electronic surveillance during the American Revolution. But Pat over at Lifelike Pundits enlightens us as to the real meat behind Gonzales' statements.

In a related thread, it looks like the original leak of the classified surveillance program is finally going to be investigated:
The director of the CIA has launched a major internal probe into media leaks about covert operations. In an agencywide e-mail, Porter Goss blamed "a very small number of people" for leaks about secret CIA operations that, in his words, "do damage to the credibility of the agency."

Hat-tip: Ian of Expose the Left

Embed-Edd in Iraq

Local conservative talk show host Edd Hendee is in the midst of his second trip to Iraq, this time accompanied by nationally syndicated talk show host Laura Ingraham. In his first trip to Iraq in January of 2005, Edd witnessed and reported firsthand on the first free Iraqi elections. He also played a key role in starting the process of adding much-needed armor to the US Army Humvees to protect them from the dangers of mines and "improvised explosive devices" (IEDs). He even experienced firsthand the tragedies that accompany these brave soldiers as they give their time and talents, and sometimes their very lives, to protect our nation and better the world in which we live.

This trip, as before, Edd has forsaken the "safe zone" Baghdad headquarters used by the vast majority of media personnel who report from Iraq. Instead he is spending as much time as possible among the troops, talking with officers, NCOs and enlisted men alike. And the experiences and information he sends back is so much more than we ever hear from the rest of the mainstream media, who revel in highlighting the worst news possible while ignoring the real picture of what is happening across what is, for the first time in generations, a free nation.

One interesting nugget of information that really stood out in my reading was about the IEDs. Listening to the nightly news you would think that these roadside bombs were slowly crippling our forces. Not true, Edd reports:
IEDs are the weapon of choice of the insurgents and in this last year this area has had 817 IED incidents. However [Col. Jim Pasqarette, Brigade CO for the 1st Brigade 4th Combat Division,] points out that the soldiers on patrol have become experts at finding IEDs by observing any change in their environment – new dirt, disturbed rocks, even a change in the color [of] the dust on the trash on the side of the road. Of 10 IEDs placed – 6 are found before they can be detonated, 2 explode and cause no damage, 1 will cause only physical damage to the vehicle, and 1 will damage the vehicle and cause injury to personnel. In short only 10% of the IEDs placed result in harm to personnel.

What's changed in the last year? First, [the] Army has become extremely adept at discovering IEDs ... by training the troops to recognize them. ...

Second the vehicle armor is substantially improved as all of the 4th ID Humvees are fully factory armored with more powerful engines and suspensions to handle the weight of the armor.

The third factor that has changed in the last year may be the most encouraging and significant: The Army is getting a significant number of tips on their "tip lines" set up to allow Iraqis to tip locations of weapons caches and the identities of those who set the traps themselves. In this last year the Iraqi people have begun to claim Iraq as their own nation -- it is theirs -- their election turnout is a clear demonstration of that change. They don't want the insurgents in their country killing Iraqis and the best way to rid themselves of this threat is to tip the Army of who they are [and] where their weapons are. IEDs remain the biggest threat but there are indications the battle has shifted.

Watch Lone Star Times to keep up with Edd's Iraqi experience: For Laura Ingraham's Iraq Journal, click here.

Monday, February 06, 2006

A Soggy Day in Anti-Bush Land

Our buddy Brainster has a great update on the much-ballyhooed anti-Bush protest planned for the weekend in DC. With pictures, links and everything!

Growing Old Gracefully

Or maybe not so much. The NAACP (which originally stood for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) has struggled with the issue of maturity and purpose as it has come of age, and in the end has become much less about the original goal of guaranteeing equal rights among races and more about the Advancement of the Most Liberal of Agendas under the auspices of the Democratic Party.

Take, for instance, the latest remarks from the organization's Chairman of the Board, Julian Bond, who just last week...
...delivered a blistering partisan speech ... equating the Republican Party with the Nazi Party and characterizing Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her predecessor, Colin Powell, as tokens.

"The Republican Party would have the American flag and the swastika flying side by side," he charged.
...
He referred to former Attorney General John Ashcroft as J. Edgar Ashcroft. He compared Bush's judicial nominees to the Taliban.
As the author points out, this is not the first time Mr. Bond has resorted to such inflammatory hate-filled speech.
In July 2001, Bond said, "[Bush] has selected nominees from the Taliban wing of American politics, appeased the wretched appetites of the extreme right wing, and chosen Cabinet officials whose devotion to the Confederacy is nearly canine in its uncritical affection."
Not everyone in attendance appreciated the rhetoric and accusations, but as is so unfortunately and often the case, many in the black community will continue to believe and spread such views when they come from so-called leaders of the community. Just as other black leaders -- Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan and Quanell X, to name a few -- continue to do, Julian Bond and the other leaders of the NAACP continue to steer their sheep farther and farther to the left in a desperate quest for significance and a continuation of power.

As for Bond's own relevancy in today's political arena, the NAACP's own website proclaims the following:
As an activist who has faced jail for his convictions, as a veteran of more than 20 years service in the Georgia General Assembly, as a university professor, and as a writer, he has been on the cutting edge of social change since 1960.
Apparently the "cutting edge of social change" these days is to take your daily talking points from the likes of MoveOn.org.


Hat-tip: Jeremy Weidenhof of Lone Star Times

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

Just a sad note about a longtime "friend" of the Songbird family. Bruno, king of the Houston Zoo, passed away last month after veterinarians discovered the 18-year-old lion's kidneys were failing.
In the wild, male African lions may live 10 years. In zoos, male African lions live on average approximately 13 years.
...
Bruno had a long and happy life at the Houston Zoo. He was enjoyed by generations of Zoo guests and we miss his regal presence.
We have been members of and regular visitors to the Houston Zoo for many years, since before our firstborn joined the family. I remember many, many visits in which the kids and I would sit for what seemed hours watching the languid Bruno perched regally atop the mesa-like rocks of the lion exhibit, or following him in awe as he stalked around the enclosure. I remember when the cubs were born and then first allowed into the viewing area, at first with father Bruno kept separated, then later as he lay patiently in the shade while they climbed over his back and head or swatted playfully at his long, tufted tail.

Our family has grown up as Bruno and his family have done the same, and it is sad hearing that he is gone.

Now cracks a noble heart. Good-night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

Breaking News!

I get daily "top news" emails and/or special "breaking news" email alerts from a few news services around the Lone Star State. With all the important things going on around the state, the nation and the world these days, it sometimes amazes me which stories are important enough to trigger special alert notices.

To illustrate my point, take a look at a "Breaking News Alert" that I received by email from the Austin American-Statesman last Friday evening:

click image to read the news article
Oh. Freakin'. No. I'm glad I didn't check email until this morning. That tragic news might have ruined my weekend.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Chuck Norris Kicks In

I was browsing through the blogosphere at lunch today, and came across this funny excerpt from the Austin Chronicle's recent update on the 2006 Texas state races:
SD 7: "Chuck Norris doesn't read books. He stares them down until he gets the information he needs." Yes, the latest Internet meme, originating at www.4q.cc/chuck ("facts" about Chuck Norris – e.g., "Chuck Norris does not sleep. He waits.") has made it to West Houston's state Senate GOP primary (incumbent Jon Lindsay is retiring). Norris his ass-kicking self has endorsed his "friend," rabble-rousing radio talk show host Dan Patrick, a "strong, committed, conservative Christian" in the District 7 race (the MP3 of Norris' endorsement on Patrick's site is priceless). Opposing Patrick is the House corporate water carrier on tort reform, Rep. Joe Nixon, a state rep since 1994. The two camps are trading florid insults, with Patrick questioning Nixon's fundraising numbers, and Nixon castigating Patrick's charges as "the Chronicles of Nonsense" (zing!). Thus far staying above the mud-slinging fray, but on the ballot nonetheless, are fellow Houston Rep. Peggy Hamric (a less polarizing figure than either Nixon or Patrick) and former Houston City Council Member Mark Ellis. With that many current and former officeholders on the ballot, a runoff appears likely. The lone contender on the Dem ballot – getting a pass until a November steam-rolling in the heavily GOP district – is local bail bondsman F. Michael Kubosh.

Voters beware – "the chief export of Chuck Norris is pain."

Best of the Best for 2005

Thanks to Mister Snitch, whose compilation of the Best Posts of 2005 is up for viewing. And at first glance it appears to be a mighty fine list, with a little something for everyone.

Best Posts of 2005

And best of all (in my view, anyway), Snitch included three separate posts from The Texas Songbird. Not sure how "autistic" got changed to "articulate" in his referral, but the links are much appreciated! (Better check your spell-checker, Mr. Snitch!)

I was also happy to see that several posts from some of my favorite bloggers (some of which I suggested) made the final cut, including some good reading from Brainster's Blog, The Paladin Blog, The Right Mom, and of course Lone Star Times. Way to go, guys (and Ree-C)!

One more thing... Snitch has already begun accepting nominations for the 2006 best posts compilation. Medium-sponsor-button I've added the "Help Find the Posts of the Year" image/link to the right sidebar. As you read across the blogosphere throughout the year, make note of any exceptional posts and forward them on to Mister Snitch.

Now go away -- I've got a lot of reading to do this weekend...

Salute to the Oscars

The grand pooh-bahs of Hollywood have disgorged this year's Oscar nominations, and have once again demonstrated their absolute disregard for the general public's tastes, opinions and desires. John Bergstrom's recent cartoon sums it up quite nicely.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Beyond Tasteless

Kudos to the Joint Chiefs of Staff for putting pen to paper and publicly calling political cartoonist Tom Toles to task for this piece of trash.
Using the likeness of a service member who has lost his arms and legs in war as the central theme of a cartoon was beyond tasteless. Editorial cartoons are often designed to exaggerate issues, and The Post is obviously free to address any topic, including the state of readiness of the armed forces. However, The Post and Mr. Toles have done a disservice to readers and to The Post's reputation by using such a callous depiction of those who volunteered to defend this nation and, as a result, suffered traumatic and life-altering wounds.
...
While The Post and some of its readers may not agree with the war or its conduct, these men and women and their families are owed the decency of not having a cartoon make light of their tremendous physical sacrifices.
Personally, I can't think of anything that could make the Washington Post's reputation sink much lower than it already is, but that's just me.

Go Long, Lynn!

While I admit that -- as a tried and true, "Luv Ya Blue" Oilers fan from long before my first real memories of the game -- I still find it somewhat difficult to root for a Pittsburgh Steeler under any circumstances, I am willing to bury my lifelong bias... at least this one time.

No, I'm not talking about the Super Bowl. I am talking about Lynn Swann, former all-star Steelers wide receiver, who is currently seeking the Republican nomination for governor of Pennsylvania. According to AP reporter Joe Mandak, Swann is likely to receive the official endorsement of the Pennsylvania GOP state committee in the May Republican primary.
Swann, 53, is making his first run for public office. His supporters for the Republican nomination say his high profile and charisma would make him the best candidate to take on Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell, who is expected to seek a second four-year term.

"Obviously, it looks good now, but we're going to keep working until Lynn Swann is the endorsed candidate," said Ray Zaborney, the executive director of Swann's campaign.
The article talks mostly about the rivalry between the Republican candidates, and about the GOP endorsement and its role in the Pennsylvania primary process, but the author does have this to say about Swann:
Swann is seeking to become Pennsylvania's first black governor. Though he has revealed little about his political philosophy, he has said the Democratic Party has "taken the African-American vote for granted."
Such has been the case for decades, at both the local and national levels. It is nice to actually hear it being said by a black candidate, especially one with such name recognition and respect.

And if you take a look at Mr. Swann's campaign website, you will find plenty of indications concerning his political philosophy. Swann's vision is a simple one: reinvigorate the state's economy by cutting spending in order to cut taxes, and refocus the state's priorities toward quality education.
Our party needs a principled conservative with a vision to get government under control, lower the tax burden on our working families and job creators, and make sure that our children have the opportunity for a quality education that will give them the skills they need to succeed.
He has a lot of good ideas on accomplishing both goals. One thing in particular stood out to me:
Offering job creators and individuals tax relief is only half of the equation. Getting a hold of runaway spending is the other half. Lynn understands that we have to move from budgeting how much we want to spend and raising taxes to pay for it. We need to have a Governor with clear priorities and the willingness to make the tough decisions, and that includes reigning in runaway spending.

He believes every department of state government must be examined, and we must cut every penny of waste from our government. Politicians in Harrisburg need to learn that the money they are spending is the people’s money and it should be handled with the same care as their own checkbook.
Substitute "Austin" for "Harrisburg" and I'd be ready to vote for the man myself. So if he somehow loses in Pennsylvania, do you think we could entice a former Steeler to come to Texas?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Gun Control in Jersey Village

A trio of would-be carjackers picked the wrong victim in Jersey Village (northwest Houston) yesterday.
A female off-duty Richmond police officer put her training into action when three alleged carjackers forced her into her SUV and attempted to steal it.
...
Two of the three suspects were armed, according to Jersey Village Police. One suspect pushed Officer Holly Marie Mong over into the passenger seat.

Authorities said the 22-year-old officer's instincts and training kicked in, even though she'd been with the department less than six months.

"At that time she pulled her weapon and fired several rounds, striking both of the assailants," said Jersey Village Police Chief Charles Wedemeyer.

Authorities said Mong shot and killed one suspect and shot another suspect five times.
Six out of six -- now that's what I call gun control!

Hat-tip: Pat of Brainster's Blog
Cross-posted to Lone Star Times

Missing in Action

Wow! You lay in bed for a day with fever and a puny stomach, and you miss a whole day's worth of news! Funny how that happens.

In case you missed any of it, too...

Over the weekend, Sen. John Kerry returned from his Swiss retreat to help lead the filibuster of Judge Samuel Alito's Supreme Court confirmation. The much ballyhooed move might have succeeded... if it hadn't failed so miserably. The votes for cloture won out in a lopsided 72-to-25 defeat of the filibuster, and Judge Alito was quickly confirmed in a mostly party-line vote. Judge Alito was promptly sworn at -- or in, I forget -- by new Chief Justice Roberts, in time to begin stripping the civil liberties from American citizens before the president's State of the Union address.

For a more serious look at the news from Monday and the weekend: