Zippidy Doo Da

I'm not stupid, I'm from Texas!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Chupacabra Report

Last week National Journal magazine released their annual congressional vote ratings index, and concluded that the 2010 Congress was the most ideologically divided since their survey began in 1982; meaning that the ‘middle of the road’ once occupied by moderate Republicans and tory Democrats, is a thing of the past.

Most American voters are centrists, so who’s to represent them? From the way we draw districts, select candidates, fund their campaigns and elect representatives, something has broken down. I see the solutions coming from non-partisan redistricting, public financing of campaigns, (we own the airwaves, after all, and that’s the biggest expense) break-up of media concentration, and civics education. I’m not holding my breath.

Meanwhile, in the spirit of bi-partisanship, I would like to point out some politicians who have found the fortitude to cross party lines..

This month, twenty-seven first-term Republican congressmen voted against their leadership to terminate development of a second engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The Pentagon settled on the Pratt and Whitney 135 engine, but Congress has insisted on funding a second engine built by General Electric/Rolls Royce to be built in Ohio by constituents of House Speaker John Boehner. This fight has been going on for years; this is a VTOL Stealth fighter, the most expensive weapon in history. With an annual defense budget of over $600 billion, exceeding that of all other countries combined, it’s time we stop looking at our procurement process as a big pork barrel to roll around. Kudos to these freshmen reps for standing up to their ‘leadership.

Friday, February 18, 2011

We watched Jeopardy champs Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings play an exhibition against IBM’s Watson this week. I never came close to rooting for the machine. Maybe if it’d given more wrong answers. They were funny. In a final, Watson answered ‘Toronto’ for a US city. The random wagers weren’t cute either. And that avatar? Why not use a Muppet?

Jennings and Rutter both dominate other humans, but they trailed Watson most of the time. Those guys probably knew the answers most times, but Watson beat them to the buzzer again and again. Fix.

Maybe Jeopardy could run tournaments for robots. Bet there’s squints at Apple or Google that would love to play against Watson next year.

Electric Barracuda

Hold my calls; cancel my appointments. Our copies of ‘Electric Barracuda,’ Tim Dorsey’s thirteenth Serge Storms novel came in yesterday. Enjoying Serge’s Fugitive Tour of Florida. Great literature!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sunday, February 13, 2011


My thanks to Lisa Falkenberg for her exposure of the hypocrisy behind Sen. Dan Patrick's "sonogram bill."

If the senator truly wished to protect the health and safety of women, as his bill claims, he wouldn't favor slashing funds for family planning, health care and education.

Actually, to protect women from the need for abortions, he could back a law making it illegal for men to have unprotected sexual intercourse without posting a bond equal to the cost of raising and educating a child in case an unplanned pregnancy results.

And they could also first watch a sonogram of a fetus and listen to the beating heart.

- Page S. Williams, Houston

Sen. Dan Patrick is certainly keen on obstructing and complicating a woman's right to control her reproductive life.

I wonder if he would consider similar measures for other rights concerning life. For instance, if a person wanted to exercise his Second Amendment right, he should first view a U.S. Army medical film on gunshot triage, and then attend an autopsy of an actual gunshot victim. Only then could he or she buy or handle a gun.

- W.D. Moore, Houston

Monday, February 07, 2011

“In a very crude sense the job of young men is to undertake the work their fathers are too old for, and the current generation of American fathers has decided that a certain six mile-long valley in Kunar Province needs to be brought under military control. Nearly fifty American soldiers have died carrying out those orders. I’m not saying that’s a lot or a little, but the cost does need to be acknowledged. Soldiers themselves are reluctant to evaluate the costs of war (for some reason, the closer you are to combat the less inclined you are to question it), but someone must. That evaluation, ongoing and unadulterated by politics, may be the one thing a country absolutely owes the soldiers who defend its borders.”

-Sebastian Junger, "War"

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Barack Obama should pardon Tom DeLay?

The Washington Post ran an op-ed piece last Friday titled “Why Obama should pardon DeLay.” The piece was written by local attorney Thomas A. Campbell, who ran against DeLay in the 2006 Republican Primary.

Campbell says he opposed DeLay because “DeLay’s ethical conduct had fallen below the standard acceptable for an elected official; that under his leadership, our political debate had become unduly divisive and we needed to return civility to our political discourse; and that under his leadership, our party had become fiscally irresponsible.

“I carefully reviewed DeLay’s background when I ran against him,” Campbell said, “and what I found was a zealot willing to blur the line in pursuit of what he thought to be a good cause, not someone using his office for financial gain. There were no personal slush funds, no house remodeled by a lobbyist, no unreported vacation home. He was only trying to build our party.”

-Well, not for financial gain, huh? How about lust for power? Or a desire to live high on the hog? Jetting across the country and around the world, four-star hotels, fine food and drink, TV appearances, speakers fees, golfing at Saint Andrews and in Saipan, DeLay had it good. Add in a no-show job with a lobbying firm for the wife, and a job for your daughter with your PAC, plus $10 million donated for legal fees when you get in trouble? Sweet.

But the Justice Department and the Ethics Committee found nothing actionable here, and DeLay isn’t the only congressman enjoying such perquisites.

DeLay was convicted of money laundering and conspiracy, but what he did to me was steal my vote. His conspiracy packed the Texas statehouse in order to unseat Democratic congressmen by moving their voters out from behind them. In the last election I had the choice between his successor, Pete Olson, and a nut from Planet LaRouche, and it may be ten more years before District 22 attracts a credible candidate.

Thomas Campbell served under President George H. W. Bush as General Counsel of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, where he helped negotiate a $1 billion damage settlement after the Exxon Valdez oil spill. He ought to know that a presidential pardon is no way to clean up oceans of slime.