August 31, 2004, 09:18 PM

Fun with Protesters: Convention Day 2

By Matt Forge

Well, day two promised an action-packed adventure and boy, did it deliver! We’ve got plenty of civil disobedience for everyone’s enjoyment – so please, no shoving. I must confess; these people’s commitment to truth and logic is starting to turn me towards their side. Don’t believe me? Then take a look-see for yourself…

"Hoodies" are all the protest fashion rage this season...

The pig masks are remarkably life-like...

And we thank you for the entertainment...

Republican delegate being heckled by a tolerant open-minded protester...

Fashion police make another arrest...

We stand united against this administration...

Ladies and gentlemen, now appearing in the center ring...

Sadly, this guy is on OUR team...

If I had a third hand, it would be holding a sign too...

Not even a rowdy group of liberal protesters will break his concentration...

I'm a hero. I'm a hero. I'm a...

Just like the good ol' high school football days...

Ride 'im, cowboy...

Dude, don't mess with the suit...

Armpit inspections miff some protesters...

Shout, shout, let it all out...

How can you not take these people seriously? Now really...

Just too funny for words...

Freaky in pink...

Just how do you propose we do this?...

Some seasoned veterans...

This activist's shirt says it all about his ignorance...

The look of victory...

Don't spill a drop of that life-giving water...

Old dude can still mix it up...

Old dude wins...

Civil disobedience is a bit hard on the old comb-over...

Too lazy to walk - tisk, tisk...

Real classy, lady...

Fashion police nab another one...

You only THINK you defeated me...

Another example of putting laziness to good use...

You can't arrest me, I've got a goatee and a camera!...

The road just got a lot scarier (Hey! She's driving and talking on a cell phone!)...

Fashion police working overtime...

The full taunty...

It's the best day of my young life. The chicks will finally dig me now...

Do I look hip wearing all black?...

Hey, I didn't say it...

The protesters' plan is flawlessly executed...

Soros and Kerry donated some of their own money for this little stunt...

Fashion: The first casualty of protest...

Hey, this is just like my school bus...

Permalink | Humor

August 31, 2004, 06:25 PM

Chron “olds” cycle speeds up

By Matt Bramanti

The Chronicle has again brought us “another voice” from the pages of the Washington Post. This time, it only took two days to report this shocking, breaking news:
Many studies have linked the consumption of nondiet soda and fruit juices with added sugars to obesity and attendant risks of diabetes. But now a new study of more than 50,000 U.S. nurses dramatically points up these connections and should encourage the efforts of groups seeking to ban in-school sales of such drinks. ... The correlations in the study are disturbing. ... The data showed that the women who gained the most weight were those who increased their consumption of nondiet drinks from one or fewer per week to one or more per day.
What? You mean drinking lots of soda makes people fat? Next, we'll see research telling us that large quantities of beer cause sensitivity to light and sound 8-12 hours after ingestion. Give me a break. At least our hometown rag is getting more timely with the cut-and-paste. But, the Chron's wire editor snipped out a fact that makes a difference in the research. The Chron's version:
Those who had one or more drinks containing sugar or corn syrup per day were 83 percent more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.
The original Washington Post version:
In addition, those who had one or more drinks containing sugar or corn syrup per day were 83 percent more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than those who drank less than one such drink per month.
I once saw a joke tacked up on a breakroom wall: “Speed, price, and quality. Pick two.” Chron readers have to settle for one.

Permalink | Media Watch

August 31, 2004, 11:30 AM

President snipped in newspapers

By Terry Bohannon

According to an article by an AP 'special correspondent' Walter Mears misrepresents President Bush in the following quote:
There was an offstage campaign debate on the terror war after Bush said in an NBC interview that “I don't think we can win it,” but that it must be fought without a hint of weakness that would be exploited by the enemy. Kerry, in Nantucket, Mass., had a one-word answer when asked whether he could win the war on terror: “Absolutely.” His vice presidential nominee, Sen. John Edwards, said, “This is no time to declare defeat,” and vowed that a Democratic administration would destroy terrorism while restoring U.S. alliances against the threat. Bush's spokesman said the president was talking about winning the terror war “in the conventional sense,” when this is an unconventional struggle in which there will be no formal surrender to signal victory.
Here is a cut of the NBC transcript from Monday's “Today Show with Matt Lauer” at 7:00 AM EST:
MATT LAUER: You said to me a second ago, one of the things you'll lay out in your vision for the next four years is how to go about winning the war on terror. That phrase strikes me a little bit. Do you really think we can win this war of ter--on terror? For example, in the next four years? Pres. BUSH: I have never said we can win it in four years. LAUER: No, I'm just saying, can we win it? Do you say that? Pres. BUSH: I don't think we can win it. But I think you can create conditions so that those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in part of the world, let's put it that way. I have a two-pronged strategy. On the one hand is to find them before they hurt us. And that's necessary. The country must never yield, must never show weakness. Must continue to lead, to find the al-Qaeda, al-Qaeda affiliates, who are hiding around the world and who want to harm us and bring them to justice. History has shown that it can work, that spreading liberty does work. After all, Japan is our close ally, and my dad — and I don't know about your relatives — fought against the Japanese. And here Koizumi, Prime Minister Koizumi, is one of the closest collaborators I have in working to make the world a more peaceful place.
President Bush was not speaking from the defeatist attitude Walter Mears and others have tried to snip him to. I just hope their readers can see past the snips, and see President Bush as he really is, a great leader that understands the complexity of the war on terror.

Permalink | News and Views

August 31, 2004, 11:07 AM

Fun With Protesters: Convention Day 1

By Matt Forge

Well, the first day of the Republican National Convention is in the history books. And as I expected, there were plenty of activists doing their thing and providing fodder for editorialists such as myself. These patriotic civilians will do anything to get their message out. And here, we give them yet one more venue for their serious message (warning?) to be broadcast.

Tossed confetti: It just screams, "War, uh, good god y'all. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing."...

Way to go Protest Warriors!

Brave Protest Warriors tellin' it like it is...

President Bush gonna lasso and hog-tie a liberal...

Larry and the future Mrs. King...

Moore calls for a paramedic with an oxygen tank...

Yeah, use it on a liberal...

Don't panic, I think we got the cops surrounded...

Will you pay for my housing and health care?...

Wow! This street is remarkably clean...

Michael Moore: Thousands fooled and still lying...

Like wow man, they're like little planets. Cool...

These people have wayyyyyy too much time on their hands...

He has no votes against the military either - unlike your guy, you knucklehead...

Doin' the protest boogie...

Selling "Smush Bush" flyswatters - capitalism at its finest...

Let's see, which one is the billionaire? Hmmm. Oh yeah, JOHN F. KERRY!...

Another Bush admirer dons his likeness...

Missile-heads do get a lot of respect - and, unfortunately, all the chicks...

Havin' a great time in New York city, mom. Don't worry. Love, Jimmy...

Permalink | Humor

August 31, 2004, 10:30 AM

Ken Lay launches website proclaiming innocence *chortle*

By Owen Courrèges

This one definitely goes into the 'believe it or not' category here on ChronicallyBiased (from ABC13):
Former Enron CEO Ken Lay has turned to cyberspace as he fights federal charges related to the Enron collapse. On Friday, Lay launched website, kenlayinfo.com. The site features a short statement by Lay saying he's innocent of the charges filed by federal prosecutors. Lay also states that he has asked for a speedy trial. Lay faces fraud and conspiracy charges related to the fall of Enron.
Here's to hoping that Lay does indeed get a speedy trial... but not a speedy sentence.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

August 31, 2004, 09:00 AM

Status of Bush's promises according to the Chronicle

By M. Wildes

On Sunday an insert in my new, “easier to read” Chronicle, purported to give the status of President Bush’s election 2000 promises. “Bush Promises: Four Years Later,” by B.C. Oren, which appeared as a boxed insert to Bennett Roth’s “Bush finds unity tough vow to fulfill,” gave a very simple outline of President Bush’s proposals, followed by an “Outcome.” Oren’s “Outcome[s]” do give us the status of Bush’s pledges. Also, it generally included one sentence on the items passage or blockage by Congress. However, the “Outcome[s]” also include at least one negative sentence about each item (except in two cases where it is done in an unbiased manner). Two examples:
EDUCATION REFORM Pledge: Education program overhaul, including mandatory testing and holding public school systems accountable for failing schools. Outcome: Congress approved Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act in his first year. It included many of the provisions he promised during his campaign. Democrats and some school officials say the program lacks proper funding.
Either leave the negativity out or include a positive for balance. Why not mention that schools and students are benefiting from the program? Why not mention that Republicans and some school officials say the program has proper funding?
TAX CUTS Pledge: Cut taxes rates for everyone and pay for it with federal surplus. Outcome: Congress passed $1.7 trillion in tax cuts over 10 years. A Congressional Budget Office analysis shows the wealthiest pay a smaller share of taxes than before the cuts.
Based on the rest of the issues and the general liberal mindset, I assume this was meant as a negative. Why is there no mention of the stimulation of the post-9/11 economy?The best example of the appropriate way to do this comes from Oren’s own “ABORTION” text:
ABORTION Pledge: Sign legislation that would ban late-term abortions, which occur in the third trimester. Outcome: Congress passed such a measure. President Bush signed it.
Bravo!

Permalink | Chron Bias

August 31, 2004, 08:00 AM

City, Midtown elites pressure developer

By Matt Bramanti

Let's say you've got a contiguous 6.2-acre piece of land in Midtown. What would you do with such a valuable item? Build retail development? Offices, perhaps? Maybe some upscale lofts, with cafes at street level would be nice. Or you could let the city drop $77 million on a park with a garage underneath it:
The 270,000-square-foot site, known in Midtown as the “superblock,” is uninterrupted by cross streets and is vacant except for a small strip center on one corner. A Metro rail stop at McGowen, on the northern end of the property, would provide transit riders with convenient access to whatever is built on the site. Last year, David Crossley, the president of the nonprofit Gulf Coast Institute, proposed that the superblock be used for a park, possibly with a parking garage beneath it. (snip) Supporters drew up a preliminary design for the park and gave it a name: McGowen Green. They estimated costs of $12 million for the land and $65 million to build the park and underground garage.
At a price of $285 per square foot, that must be some park they're planning. I assume white-gloved valets will handle pooper-scooper duties, and the parking garage will have enough marble and glass to make HISD administrators blush. Why won't the design elites just let the markets work?
Guy Hagstette, Mayor Bill White's special assistant for urban design, said plenty of opportunities still exist to create an urban environment in Midtown. (snip) “It's still early in Midtown's evolution,” Hagstette said. “Yes, some of the retail type stuff is disappointing because it's so oriented to the automobile. But I think it's too early just to hang our head in shame.”
Here's the equation for “urban design” experts, apparently: Parking = shame. God forbid someone should want to drive their car to go shopping or have lunch. Don't these SUV-driving Philistines know that MetroRail can get you from anywhere to anywhere?

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

August 31, 2004, 07:45 AM

Bush says war on terror unwinnable; Kerry camp goes into feeding frenzy

By Owen Courrèges

Oy, Bush made such a mistake yesterday. Despite being a politician, with every imaginable incentive to lie, he displayed a startling degree of candor in describing the war on terrorism:
In an interview on NBC-TV's “Today” show, Bush vowed to stay the course in the war on terror, saying perseverance in the battle would make the world safer for future generations. But he suggested an all-out victory against terrorism might not be possible. Asked “Can we win?” Bush said, “I don't think you can win it. But I think you can create conditions so that the — those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world.” Democrats, looking for ways to deflect the spotlight from Republicans as they opened their convention in York, pounced. “After months of listening to the Republicans base their campaign on their singular ability to win the war on terror, the president now says we can't win the war on terrorism,” said Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards. “This is no time to declare defeat.” “The war on terrorism is absolutely winnable,” Edwards said later on ABC's “Nightline.”
Edwards was being facetious, I hope, because he's got more than a few screws loose if he believes that we can actually defeat all terrorism worldwide. No, I think that the Kerry camp knows the truth, and they know that Bush told it. We can no more win the war on terrorism than we can win the war on poverty started under LBJ, but what we can do is mimimize terrorism, which is a major accomplishment by itself. That's the honest truth, and it's rather sad that Bush is suffering politically for having said it. Sad, but predictable.

Permalink | News and Views

August 31, 2004, 06:40 AM

Chronicle Sounding Board on the GOP Convention

By Rob Booth

Yesterday I pointed out that the Chronicle has three liberals and two conservatives among the readers who are commenting on the convention. The conservatives' first day of commentary makes me think they're the Chronicle's kind of conservatives. George Edwards (conservative) writes this:
My view is that the war in Iraq has not helped this nation. It was an unnecessary war and it has distracted the nation and diverted huge amounts of resources that could be better utilized in this country. The nation’s involvement in Iraq is not sustainable over a long period of time. The person elected president in November 2004 must quickly devise a viable exit strategy for our forces and involvement in the Iraq conflict. The situation in Iraq will be best handled by the collective efforts of an international body (i.e. United Nations).
Now, there are Republicans who were and are opposed to Operation Enduring Freedom. However, I maintain from my interaction with GOP stalwarts that they are a distinct minority. Edward Anthony Gibbons (conservative) adds this:
I was disappointed in the shirts that the Texas delegates wore, faded blue giving the appearance of not being too countrified. After all we are as big city as any part of U.S. Judging a book by it's cover would have the world think we are not up to par. Dexter Freebush band from Austin looked like they were part of a group that slept under a freeway and the so-called music was too loud to understand Dexter.
I'm interested in the truth. I appreciate anyone who speaks their mind and sticks by their beliefs. I can only assume that Mr. Edwards and Mr. Gibbons are being honest about their reactions to the convention. I'll tell you what, even though I'm a frequent critic of my fellow Republicans, day one of the convention was fantastic. I'm a Ron Paul, pro-life Republican, but Mayor Giuliani's speech made me try out mental scenarios of how I could vote for a pro-choicer in a GOP primary. I'm not there yet, but he was indeed impressive. The other major story was how Sen. McCain, who had annoyed many conservatives over the past few years, hit a home run with his speech. The GOP grassroots will have a better impression of Sen. McCain for quite a while. Now, I'm willing to wait a day or two on some positive coverage out of the Chronicle's conservatives. That sound you hear is my foot tapping while I wait. Until then, I'll read Ms. Rozier's diary in the Chronicle. You should too. Oh, and Mr. Gibbons, it's dexter freebish, with an “i,” not a “u.” I thought they were great.

Permalink | Chron Bias

August 31, 2004, 05:45 AM

God shows the Houston Chronicle leaders who's in charge

By Dan Patrick

It may be time to say a prayer for the senior management and editorial staff of the Houston Chronicle. Sources tell me that some members of the upper echelon at the paper may be suffering greatly from a panic attack they experienced over the past few days. The panic attack apparently began last Thursday when the editors discovered that the sales department had signed a contract to distribute 430,000 books of Luke, from the Bible, in this past Sunday paper’s outside wrapper. The book of Luke was inserted in a pouch on the outside of the papers delivered to subscriber’s homes. The wrapper also contained huge card advertising the DVD, The Passion of the Christ, which comes out today. Readers may recall that the Chronicle reviewer gave the movie an “F” rating and said it was a bad film. The card insert proclaimed, “You’ve seen the movie-now read the book!” You can understand the apoplexy that sources say occurred in the inner circle of the all knowing-all controlling editorial boardroom. As Rod Serling used to say at the beginning over every Twilight Zone episode, “imagine if you will,” the shock when the editors found out that their paper would be promoting the Gibson DVD and at the same time passing out over 430,000 book from the Bible. On Friday they met to decide what to do. No one knows if they considered canceling the deal. The Chronicle did place a long phone call to the creator of the project, Mike Richards Jr., and peppered him with questions about the funding of the project and other questions as to the origin of the project. Mike reported to me on KSEV yesterday that his office had received a number of calls from subscribers who did not get the insert in their wrapper. A Chronicle carrier called in to say that he and other carriers were given a choice to either use a plain plastic wrapper or the special wrapper with the insert. He said the wrapper with the insert had a problem in that it would tear easily. This explanation is rather odd. Mike Richards Jr. paid over $100,000 to the Chronicle supplier. He obviously expected a quality wrapper to hold his book and placard. He surely did not expect carriers to be given a choice of using the wrapper, for which he had paid a high premium, or the usual plain wrapper. Mike does not think the Chronicle did anything purposely to submarine his project. Mike is a good Christian man who would not think of such a thing. It would seem that the Chronicle owed Mike a call on Monday and quite possibly a considerable refund if it is discovered that many subscribers did not get their paper in the wrapper that Mike had paid for to promote the movie and distribute the book. The Chronicle did put up a special e-mail site for anyone who was offended or mad at the paper for mixing religion with the Sunday paper. As of yesterday at 5 p.m., the Chronicle had not had one single complaint to their site. Once again the Chronicle has proven they are clueless as to understanding the community they serve. While it may be shocking to the left leaning liberal editors at the Chronicle, the majority of Houstonians believe in God. We have over 6600 churches in our community. The Chronicle should have been proud to be part of this project, not worried about it. This was the largest free distribution of scripture to a city in the history of America! The Chronicle does have a fine Religion section and editor. But somehow you get the feeling that section is not part of the rest of the paper. What is the moral of the story? God always wins. The paper that attacks Christians, conservatives and the values we stand for, the paper that panned the movie, The Passion, found it self on a “Sunday morning sidewalk”----praises to Jesus Christ---wrapped in God’s Word. Amen. editor note: if you subscribe to the Sunday Chronicle and did not get your insert in your wrapper, call Mike Richards Jr. office at 281 556 8880

Permalink | News and Views

August 30, 2004, 09:46 PM

'Passion' Resurrected on Video

By Matt Forge

NOW AVAILABLE On DVD & VHS

Permalink | Political Cartoons

August 30, 2004, 06:44 PM

Clinton invokes the Commandments

By Matt Bramanti

I am not making this up. Former President Bill Clinton blasted the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, saying their ads have borne “false witness” against Sen. John Kerry:
“There has been too much controversy or discussion about the politics of it and little about its merits,” Clinton told FOX News' Geraldo Rivera. “The ad was paid for by a big supporter of the president and the campaign's lawyer and one of the military advisers participate accurately in it and it was wrong. It was false witness.”
Depending on whether you're Catholic, Protestant, or Jewish, the former president is invoking the Eighth or Ninth Commandment: You shall not bear false witness. Interestingly, he forgot to mention the Sixth (or Seventh) Commandment: You shall not commit adultery.

Permalink | Media Watch

August 30, 2004, 04:31 PM

Reuters editor slams pro-lifers

By Matt Bramanti

Townhall.com and the Washington Post are reporting that an editor for the Reuters news service sent an angry reply to the National Right to Life Committee, when the pro-life organization distributed a press release to news organizations. Here's an excerpt from Howard Kurtz' Washington Post piece:
After sending out a routine press release on abortion, the National Right to Life Committee received a stinging e-mail from Todd Eastham, a Reuters editor in Washington: “What's your plan for parenting & educating all the unwanted children you people want to bring into the world? Who will pay for policing our streets & maintaining the prisons needed to contain them when you, their parents & the system fail them? Oh, sorry. All that money has been earmarked to pay off the Bush deficit. Give me a frigging break, will you?”
Wow. Here's part of the National Right to Life Committee's response:
It is sad, but revealing, to see an editor for a major news service so casually and gratuitously express such blatant hostility to both the Bush Administration and to the right to life of unborn children. Apparently, Mr. Eastham feels strongly that abortion is necessary to prevent the birth of children who will otherwise snatch some bread from his mouth. We can only wonder at how such vehement opinions may color Mr. Eastham's reporting or editing on subjects such as abortion and the Bush Administration.
I don't need to wonder. By the way, his response was sent from a Reuters address ([email protected]), presumably on company time.

Permalink | Media Watch

August 30, 2004, 12:10 PM

Kerry daughters booed at MTV's VMA 2004

By Terry Bohannon

The Kerry daughters, Alexandra and Vanessa, came to MTV's Video Music Awards to speak and campaign for their father. They spoke in front of a crowd they thought were largely left-leaning and Kerry supporting. Alexandra and Vanessa expected to hear cheers, maybe even whistles, as they tell the audience why they think their father is the best man for the job. According to the Drudge Report:
From the moment Alexandra and Vanessa started speaking, the boos outweighed anything close to cheers, and the reaction turned worse when the daughters asked the VIACOM youth to vote for their father. So shocked by the reaction, the taller of the two daughters tried to 'shhhhhh' her peers to no avail.
And, as WorldNetDaily continues:
A widespread assumption that young Americans watching MTV may be more prone to vote for John Kerry for president over George W. Bush could be highly off target. . .
Perhaps Drudge is right, that “MTV, Rolling Stone and the rock and roll establishment — past and present — have cast their vote, and their man is John Kerry.” But that does not mean that their audience has yet cast their vote. From how the Kerry daughters were treated, perhaps the otherwise left-leaning audience of MTV would like to see President Bush in office for four more years.

Permalink | News and Views

August 30, 2004, 11:50 AM

Fun With Protesters: Pre-convention

By Matt Forge

Well, the Republican National Convention is underway and New York has turned into a hotbed of activism. We’ll be perusing the news photos of these intellectually honest and mentally stable citizens and posting them so that you, the viewer and voter, can weigh their well-stated arguments and make an informed decision come this November. Each day there should be plenty of pics to display from the previous day’s activities. Here are a few from the pre-convention rallies.

Thurston Howell III joins in on the rally with a beverage shaken, not stirred (Isn't that right, lovey?)...

An officer helps adjust a dissenter's bad back...

An activists shows some police a thing or two about his ninja skills...

The 'exclamation point' has convinced me...

A Michael Moore-bot...

These guys want "five" more years of Bush and Rumsfield...

Protesters get confused, torch own float...

G.W. shows the activist crowd what he'll do if they don't settle down...

Attack of the killer tomato?...

Or, use him as a comfy pillow if you get tired...

Moore shunned by Jackson, Glover...

Equating Islam with terrorism - isn't that an insensitive case of profiling?

Why not enjoy yourself while you seriously protest such a monstrously evil regime...

So there are 4 or 5 of them, big whoopie...

Ignorant...

Protest Rights Abuses - Needless Masks...

Jump from a building, land on the target, get to meet Michael Moore...

Should really say, "SPAZ"...

Come watch us burn these coffins and flags later...

~here ~ould or alphabet be ~ithout one of these?...

We've got the wholllllllllle world in our hands...

Jackson finally puts on his 'serious scowl' - ladies go wild...

Michael-Jackson?...

Activists make cardboard coffins denouncing Saddam's genocide policies (yeah, right)...

He's right, the Iraqi citizens should NOT have those things listed on sign...

Hey lady, you're not really alive - you were aborted (and you had no choice about it)...

They gained weight just so they could look like elephants - well, it worked...

Old age has taken its toll on Tinker Bell...

Those art classes are really paying off...

Apparently they can arrest you in NY for wearing a gosh-awful ugly shirt...

Officers help gentleman get ladybug off his shirt...

There was going to be a "daughter of liberty" statue made, but it was dismantled before completion...

No problem officers, we're just hangin' out...

Activist belts out an opera number for the police officers' enjoyment - they appreciate it...

One who finally admits he's a clown (in background)...

Nay, it's the war on "infanticide"...

A different definition of "victory," I suppose...

A brave, confident dissenter...

Stuck a feather in his cap and called it macaroni...

Yeah, President Bush has the secret formula to stop AIDS...

Nothing says 'take me seriously' like naked protesting...

And give Saddam, with his mass graves and oil field burnings, a pass...

Another Moore-on takes to the street...

Marylin Manson weighs in on the discussion...

Michael Moore is the second from the left (warning: graphic nudity)...

Permalink | Humor

August 30, 2004, 11:23 AM

Now on Bush's coattails: Tom Daschle?

By Matt Bramanti

In a case of strange bedfellows, Matt Drudge is reporting that an upcoming ad for Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) will feature the senator's support for President George W. Bush. This is a portion of the ad's transcript, as reported by Drudge:
Male Voice: Senator Daschle helped forge a consensus to rebuild our military. Headline: Daschle: Time to Unite Behind Troops, Bush On Screen: Daschle and President Bush hug on House floor. Male Voice: Tom won significant increases in homeland security and helped provide law enforcement new tools to track down terrorists.
It looks like this Democrat is trying to paint himself as a better Republican than his opponent, Rep. John Thune (R-S.D.). The question remains: will South Dakota's voters buy it? I doubt it.

Permalink | News and Views

August 30, 2004, 10:30 AM

Theme of 'Hero' shows heart of China's government

By Terry Bohannon

Last Friday, “Hero,” widely distributed by Miramax, opened to very positive reviews. The movie, released in 2002 and directed by Yimou Zhang in Hong Kong, is finally in American theaters. The central theme of the movie, however, is not compatible with American ideals. This theme is that the good of the many outweigh the good of the one. I wrote a description of the movie which can be found here. Its theme is an idea that comes into direct conflict with American individualism. That American ideal is that the individual's value cannot be diminished by the good of the whole. Thrusts of this ideal can be seen throughout American history: positively with the American Revolution, the structure of our government, and even with the Suffrage Movement, or negatively with the Civil War, the Stock Market crash in 1929, and especially the 60s movement. American individualism is threaded throughout our country's history and is still with us today. The theme in “Hero” that actively opposes American individualism can be called “Chinese unification.” Thrusts of that ideal, unfortunately, has in recent history taken a sharp turn against human liberty and freedom. This ideal of Chinese unification led to the Boxer Rebellion at the advent of the 20th century, which led to Wuchang Uprising in 1911 and eventually the May Fourth Movement in 1919. All this gave fertile soil for the Communist Party of China to arise to power in 1921 — leading to the founding of Mao Zedong's PRC in 1949. The dangerous thrust of Chinese unification could be seen in the planning of Mao's Great Leap Forward and also in how the Chinese leaders directed and later justified (to the West) the military actions against the Tiananmen Square protesters in 1989. Since the good of the many outweigh the good of the one, such things can be said, “people of the whole nation will also resolutely oppose [the Goddess of Democracy] . . . . The erection of a goddess statue here is an insult to the national dignity and image,” as Xinhua reported on May 30, 1989, ten days after the Chinese government declared martial law in Beijing. The language that points to that idea was the public statement by officials speaking for the “whole nation;” when in fact, a significant number of officials in the military and government supported the student movement far more than the top leadership of the PRC were comfortable with. According to documents released by the National Security Archive, the Chinese Red Cross estimated that there were “2,600 military and civilian deaths with 7,000 wounded.” Yet, all this was justified because the student protesters “stirred up the people and made the atmosphere extremely tense” and “lit the fire of rebellion” according to Xinhua, June 14, 1989. The good of the many outweigh the good of the one, and dissent is not good for the many. So, once the dissenting student demonstrations (starting from 1985) started to widely influence Chinese citizens, Chinese leaders felt justified in their treatment of the protesters. As Nameless, in “Hero”, was executed to be made an example of, an example to those who chose to dissent, the dissenting student movement was also lifted up as an example to those who wish to resist. Yet, from the international flack the Chinese government got from their actions, they have tried their best to historically erase the events in their country. According to Jennifer Chou's testimony before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus last June, “To this day, Chinese schoolteachers cannot openly impart to their students the facts about the killings. Tiananmen-themed books and Internet sites are, predictably, banned.” Perhaps this Chinese ideal, that the good of the many outweigh the good of the individual, may lead to the PRC's justification of action against Taiwan, maybe even against Taiwan's defenders. Regardless of how that ideal threads forward through history, the movie “Hero” shines a spotlight on a mindset foreign to most Americans — a mindset we should be aware of.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

August 30, 2004, 10:07 AM

Today's Features

By Mona Lugay

Make sure you view our Features section for daily commentary on entertainment “wonders and blunders,” the sports world's best and worst shots, local high school sports updates, the great outdoors, a little miscellaneous humor and much more. Dan Lovett explains why fans shouldn't be mad when athletes respond to “Show me the money.” Barry Chambers has his first bad review and its sequel was a scream. Greg Berlocher explains how fishing after dark can result in a big catch.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

August 30, 2004, 08:58 AM

Letters to the Editor

By The Staff

Most of you are taking advantage of our comments section to respond to individual posts, but we do welcome your letters and will publish the best ones from time to time. Please feel free to email us at [email protected]. Kerry, anti-military commander-in-chief? Can anyone help us poor voters with this issue? Kerry has been in the Senate for 20 years, he has missed 78% of all votes (my facts may not be accurate here). He has, however, voted against all defense bills thereby potentially weakening our military. Has he voted on any other issue? Or, was he placed in the Senate by his party to specifically weaken the military over a period of time, thereby making us more vulnerable to foreign attack, whether terrorist or not. He testified against US soldiers. Is he the quintessential potential anti-military commander-in-chief? Ken Gross An act of patriotism Dear Sir or Madam, I want to thank you for having the spine and love of country to display that video. I found myself crying and wishing I, in my only human body, could capture those planes and spare so many. Since 9/11 we have flown our flag proudly. I say it's time we all display Old Glory once again as a symbol. So, I ask you to challenge you readers to display their flags for our troops and our beloved country. God Bless You, M. Smith

Permalink | Letters

August 30, 2004, 07:53 AM

RNC protestors a gaggle of malcontented freaks

By Owen Courrèges

A headline I doubt we'll ever see is “Protestors at Republican Convention Calm, Contemplative.” That's because, as expected, those who have turned out in New York to protest the RNC are largely angry, stupid, and mean:
“Republican murderers go home and kill your babies!” one young man yelled at theatergoers, a far cry from local public service messages urging New Yorkers to “make nice” to party delegates in the city for the four-day convention, where Bush will be nominated for another four-year term. A second protester shoved a middle-aged woman in a black cocktail dress, shouting: “B****, go home! We don't want you here!” At one point, police cordoned off a city block after several dozen demonstrators jeered and razzed the incoming audience. “We were talking to delegates as they came by. We were very calm,” said Brendan, 23, an organic farmer from upstate New York, adding he was thumbing his nose at the crowd with other hecklers before police intervened.
Yes, he was 'calmly' thumbing his nose at the crowd while his cohorts shoved middle aged women and called Republicans 'murderers.' Can you believe this? Right now I wouldn't be altogether averse to seeing another police riot, a la Chicago in 1968. Perhaps these jokers could use a little old-fashioned baton action with a dash of tear gas. Now the right to protest is of utmost importance, I realize, but the convention hadn't even begun before delegates started being attacked. It's already gone much too far. There's definitely a safety issue here. It's the same logic these liberals use to justify laws banning protests within a certain distance of abortion clinics, and frankly, they deserve a taste of their own medicine right about now.

Permalink | News and Views

August 30, 2004, 07:28 AM

Robison's intellectual dishonesty vis-a-vis Cheney

By Owen Courrèges

At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, I've come to the conclusion that Chronicle Austin Bureau Chief Clay Robison is a titan of intellectual dishonesty. You can marvel at how brazenly Robison perpetrates his particular brand of illogic in his latest column, which concerns Cheney's stance on gay marriage:
Only in the skewed world of politics does a father make headlines for expressing love and support for his daughter. Yet, there was Vice President Dick Cheney last week, creating a stir by publicly acknowledging that he has a lesbian daughter in whom he has “enormous pride.” The vice president, questioned at a campaign stop in Iowa, also made it clear that he disagrees with many other Republicans, including President Bush, on the issue of gay marriages. Hooray for Cheney, although he was quick to point out that Bush heads the Republican ticket and that, at least on this particular issue, Bush doesn't really care what he thinks. That's too bad.
Ok, let's go over the two points where Robison is willfully ignoring the facts: 1) Cheney didn't make headlines for expressing “love and support” for his daughter; he made headlines for making comments that many interpreted as supporting gay marriage. This should be obvious enough to anyone. 2) Cheney didn't say that “at least on this particular issue, Bush doesn't really care what he thinks.” He said nothing of the sort. What he conveyed was that Bush disagreed with him on this issue, and certainly not that Bush didn't care what his opinion was. That's a totally different concept. But does Robison end there? Does he say to himself, “I've been intellectually dishonest enough today; I think I'll debate the issue of gay marriage calmly and rationally now.” Pfft! Not by a long shot:
The main thing at stake in that volatile debate is Bush's ability to further solidify his already strong support among the religious and social conservatives who are influential in his party.
Of course Bush, a born-again Christian, couldn't personally believe that gay marriage is wrong. It must be political pandering. Where have I heard this before? Oh yes... The Chronicle says it virtually every one of their staff editorials that focuses upon any politician they happen to dislike. Anybody who disagrees with them must be imputed with corrupt motivations. I'm sure all of you have heard this spiel; now we have another bit of evidence.
The president should be issuing a high-minded call for tolerance. Instead, his endorsment of the amendment fuels intolerance, even hatred, whether intentionally or not. The anti-gay marriage movement stems from prejudice toward homosexuals and lesbians. People don't fear a degeneration of their heterosexual nuclear families as much as they dislike and fear people who are different from themselves.
Note that Robison refuses to even acknowledge the existence of any debate over the morality of homosexuality. He apparently assumes automatically that homosexuality is morally neutral, and so anybody who opposes it is simply expressing “dislike and fear” for “people who are different from themselves.” In formal logic, this is called “Begging the Question.” Robison has set up premises that all but require us to accept his conclusions. It's no different from a Christian saying to an atheist that homosexuality is wrong because the Bible says so. The atheist obviously doesn't believe in the Bible, and neither do opponents of homosexuality believe that it is morally neutral. Robison commits numerous other crimes against logic and honest debate in his piece, but I'll leave those for our readers to plumb. Frankly, I'm getting sick of having to read this garbage, even if only to report back what a sewer the Houston Chronicle has become.

Permalink | Noxious Chron Columnists

August 30, 2004, 06:58 AM

Chronicle on RNC

By Rob Booth

The Republican National Convention opens today in New York City. The Chronicle does some surprisingly good things in their coverage, but still manages to be the paper we all know. First, the good: 1. They give a GOP delegate apparently an unfiltered bit of space in the Chronicle: Delegate diary: Liz Rozier
Though all these things shaped my ideology and my love of politics, it was an event in July 2003 that most influenced my involvement in politics and with the Republican Party. My brother, Army 1st Lt. Jonathan Rozier, was killed in action while serving our country in Iraq. Until then, the war on terror was something I supported, but I had never really done much to get directly involved. I can say that I now truly understand what freedom really means and the price that is paid for it, not just by our soldiers, but also the families of those who serve. After Jonathan's death, our family made a resolution to live lives worthy of the sacrifice Jonathan and others have made. We want to ensure that this freedom that is costly would not be taken from us by those who proclaim themselves the enemies of freedom.
Thank you, Ms. Rozier. I look forward to reading your coverage. Kudos to the Chronicle for putting her writing out there. 2. They have a blog roundup that gets a wide range of opinions from the blogosphere: Watching the watchers
From Captain's Quarters . . . Even before I get to the Republican convention — I'm blogging from the Humphrey Terminal at Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport — I'm discovering how useless the mainstream media will be at this convention. Drudge links back to what could be described as Dan Rather's blog, and he manages to make it even more content-free than his news broadcasts. From Blogs for Bush . . . Check out the video CJ mentioned in the comments section of my post below. The peaceful Bush protestor is assaulted by the Kerry supporter in clear view of the camera and then the cops move in an arrest the thug. As we at Blogs for Bush know all to well, from personal experiences, violent responses by Kerry supporters happens all too often.
They actually link to Blogs for Bush. Wow. Then, the not so good. 1. R.G. Ratcliffe doesn't get invited to a party and gets a bit snippy about it. Delegates start national event at private party
NEW YORK - Texas Republican delegates opened their trip to the national convention Sunday with a closed-door party at the New York Stock Exchange, an event financed by companies that deal with tobacco, petrochemicals, electric utilities and professional wrestling. It was the first of several delegation events that will be held out of public sight, away from the prying eyes of news reporters and television cameras.
2. There's always MeMo to pick on. But I don't really understand what she's saying. I'll assume she's making fun of Republicans. 3. The Sounding Board for Readers has two self-described conservatives and three self-described liberals. But, to be fair, I'm sure the Chronicle has trouble getting conservatives who will have anything to do with them.

Permalink | Chron Bias

August 29, 2004, 10:15 PM

Erasure

By Matt Forge

Permalink | Political Cartoons

August 29, 2004, 01:18 PM

Barnes caught in a lie about Bush National Guard favor

By Phil Magness

According to today's New York Times, disgraced Democrat politician Ben Barnes is once again claiming that he assisted a young George W. Bush in obtaining a slot in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam war. According to the story,
Former Texas House Speaker Ben Barnes said he is ``more ashamed at myself than I've ever been'' because he helped President Bush and the sons of other wealthy families get into the Texas National Guard so they could avoid serving in Vietnam. ``I got a young man named George W. Bush into the National Guard ... and I'm not necessarily proud of that, but I did it,'' Barnes, a Democrat, said in a video clip recorded May 27 before a group of John Kerry supporters in Austin. Barnes, who was House speaker when Bush entered the Guard, later became lieutenant governor.
Curiously, the story omits a key portion of the Barnes quote, possibly because it demonstrates a glaring inconsistency in Barnes' story. A video of Barnes' speech shows the full quote as follows, the omitted portion in bold:
I got a young man named George W. Bush into the National Guard when I was Lieutenant Governor of Texas and I'm not necessarily proud of that, but I did it
The problem with Barnes' story: Bush entered the Texas Air National Guard in 1968 at which time Barnes was Speaker of the House. Barnes did not take office as Lieutenant Governor until 1969 and thus could not have done what he claimed. Some readers may best remember Barnes as a central unindicted co-conspirator in the Sharpstown Stock Scandal that rocked the Texas legislature in 1971.

Permalink | News and Views

August 28, 2004, 03:50 PM

HPD quits the “protect and serve” business

By Matt Bramanti

The motto on the seal of the Houston Police Department is “Order through Law, Justice with Mercy.” An incident I witnessed today demonstrated that HPD isn't too interested in promoting those concepts, at least when it comes to fender-benders. I saw a minor accident on Memorial Drive near Dairy Ashford. A kid, maybe 17 years old and driving a Saturn, rear-ended a man and his wife in a Ford truck. I was directly behind all this, so I stopped to make sure everyone was okay. The Ford driver, who spoke only Spanish, asked me to call the police, which I did. The HPD operator asked me if anyone was hurt, and if the cars could be driven. I told her everyone was fine, and that we had pulled into a parking lot. That's when she informed me that “We don't send police to minor traffic accidents.” Um, why not? The reason she gave: “It's a new policy.” Thanks for clearing that up. Meanwhile, the kid, who was starting to have a really bad weekend, was getting a little rambunctious. He was cursing at himself, flailing his arms, and trying to avoid exchanging information with the other driver. When I mentioned this to the dispatcher, she reluctantly agreed to send an officer. Now it seems to me that the #1 source of interaction between citizens and HPD officers is traffic incidents, be they speeding tickets or wrecks. Why would HPD brass institute a policy that's going to irritate so many people who want to get their accidents sorted out? Without the benefit of police help, this situation would have been between a freaked-out kid and a Spanish-speaking man, trying to sort it out themselves. Come on, HPD, you should be better than this.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

August 28, 2004, 11:40 AM

Albright's shame

By Terry Bohannon

According to an AFP press release no American media source has yet distributed, former US Sec. of State Madeleine Albright was in Sweden Thursday, August 28. She said the Clinton administration “didn't see Saddam Hussein as an immediate threat. No, there would not have been an invasion under president Gore.” According to Ms. Albright, Al Gore would not have gone into Iraq. Yet she claims Gore would have gone into Afghanistan and have fought the war on terrorism as President Bush has done. She says:
“There would have been no difference in American actions against the Taliban in Afghanistan in the hunt for Osama bin Laden after the terrorist attacks (on New York and Washington) three years ago ... but in Iraq things would have been different.”
However, it's highly doubtful that Al Gore would have given the Taliban an ultimatum as President Bush did on Sep. 20, 2001. President Bush, in a speech before congress and the American people, told the Taliban:
“Deliver to United States authorities all the leaders of al-Qaida who hide in your land. Release all foreign nationals, including American citizens you have unjustly imprisoned. Protect foreign journalists, diplomats, and aid workers in your country. Close immediately and permanently every terrorist training camp in Afghanistan, and hand over every terrorist and every person in their support structure to appropriate authorities. Give the United States full access to terrorist training camps so we can make sure they are no longer operating.”
Yet, the Taliban did not do this, the Afghan government did not deliver the leaders of al-Qaida into American hands. If that happened under Al Gore's watch, it's likely Gore would have given them another warning. Bill Clinton did that after the WTC bombings of 1993, he warned the terrorists but did nothing. Al Gore would not have done what President Bush did by October 10, 2001. On that day American forces took control of Afghan airspace. This was the first step towards ousting the Taliban. That same day, on Oct. 10, 2001, Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) said the following on the House floor:
“We love our children and we know that the Afghan people love theirs as well. What will they do and all the nations surrounding Afghanistan if the United States and Britain allow so much needless suffering to unfold in the name of the war against terrorism. Millions of afghans are going to starve and perish and yet, what we will have is another generation rising up in bitterness and hatred against us.”
McKinney was never very diplomatic. In fact, her tongue would get her in trouble a year after she said this. But, she speaks from the heart and she focuses on what Al Gore very well may have focused on, the children. With the example of Clinton's eight years, it is very doubtful that Al Gore would have pursued terrorism as the President did before March 19, 2003 when we invaded Iraq. Madeleine Albright's claims are unfounded. If Al Gore won in 2000, it's very likely the War on Terrorism would never have surfaced, America would be in a far worse state than we are now, and we would not have a true leader as Commander in Chief.

Permalink | News and Views

August 27, 2004, 10:59 PM

More SwiftVets vs. Kerry

By Rob Booth

This Houstonian has done some of the best writing on the whole back and forth of the Sen. Kerry/SwiftVets story. BeldarBlog: Brandishing the “liar finger” in the SwiftVets vs. Kerry dispute
It's been my privilege to practice law for twenty-four years now, almost exclusively in a civil litigation practice that has always had me in the midst of disputes over facts and opinions, and frequently in courtrooms trying to resolve those disputes. In that time, I've yet to have a “Perry Mason moment” in which I've leapt to my feet, brandished my index finger at a witness, and shouted, “You're lying!” It's almost always a singularly stupid tactic for a lawyer and a disasterous example of overplaying one's hand. With that frame of reference, it occurs to me that today's appearance of another eyewitness speaking out on the subject of the Bay Hap River action and the Rassmann rescue, Butch Vorphal, demonstrates some points worth pondering about the list of “Dramatis Personae” in the SwiftVets vs. Kerry controversy, and the various subheadings and cross-references among them. Those points, in turn, lead me to some gentle ranting about what strikes me as too great a readiness among both sides and their supporters to brandish the “liar finger” at the other.

Permalink | News and Views

August 27, 2004, 10:21 PM

CD02 Roundup

By Rob Booth

There haven't been many stories in the Chronicle lately about the Judge Poe versus Rep. Lampson race. There have been stories on other sites around the state, here are a few recent ones. News 8 Austin: 4 Texas Republicans to speak at convention
WASHINGTON — Four Texas Republicans in competitive races for Congress will get a few minutes of fame at the GOP convention. The Republican event opens Monday and runs through Thursday in New York. Convention officials chose Congressman Pete Sessions, Ted Poe, Louie Gohmert and Rebecca Armendariz Klein to be among 20 candidates to get a little floor time.
Baytown Sun: Rep: Social Security can help citizens
BAYTOWN — U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson urged a group of senior citizens and others to become more actively involved in issues that affect them during a health care fair at Remington Park Friday. Lampson was the host of the fifth annual “Putting the Care Back in Healthcare” event at the retirement center on West Baker Road. The event featured booths from many health care vendors and agencies as well as free testing for blood pressure and cholesterol screening.
KHOU: Forgotten barges abandoned on San Jacinto River
Dozens of abandoned and partially submerged barges are washing up along the edge of the San Jacinto River, creating a heath concern for river residents. For Mary Walls, living on the San Jacinto River is her paradise. “This is my property here. It goes over that fence line and goes over here,” Walls says.
DMN: GOP candidates eager for convention boost
WASHINGTON – When Democrats convened in Boston last month to nominate Sen. John Kerry, four of Texas' five endangered congressmen stayed home to campaign. Republicans razzed them for it, accusing them of trying to distance themselves from the national ticket. It'll be a different story when President Bush heads to New York for his convention. Four of the five Republican candidates in those contested districts plan to attend. They've even been invited to give brief speeches the first day of the convention, campaign and party officials said. [snip] In Houston, retired Judge Ted Poe, who hopes to unseat Rep. Nick Lampson, D-Beaumont, called it an honor to attend the convention. “It is important to support our political process by attending the national convention,” he said.
Pasadena Citizen: Poe pays visit to Pasadena
Ted Poe, former district judge and current candidate for U.S. Congress District 2 (TX-R), stopped in Pasadena for breakfast Friday morning to chat with area residents. Morning customers at the Kolache Factory, 3530 Spencer Highway, appeared glad to have the opportunity to meet the popular judge, discuss current national issues and enjoy a cup of coffee. Advertisement Poe, quick to recall that he had 82 days of campaigning, as of Friday, until Election Day in November plans to spend that time just as he did Pasadena - talking to District 2 constituents. He faces incumbent Nick Lampson (TX-D) from Beaumont as voting day approaches.
Baytown Sun: Lampson canvasses in Barrett Station, Crosby
BARRETT STATION — Trading his usual suit for a polo shirt and gray slacks, U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson, D-Beaumont, made his way down neighborhood streets Saturday morning in quintessential political campaign fashion — knocking on doors and talking issues. Some residents offered to put the congressman’s signs in their yards or his bumper stickers on their cars. Others challenged his ideas on what America needed and offered some of their own suggestions.

Permalink | News and Views - Texas

August 27, 2004, 11:42 AM

Swifties question Christmas in Cambodia

By Terry Bohannon

The Swift Boat Vets for Truth have released a third ad. This one questions Kerry's trek to Cambodia on a secret mission or missions (depending on what version you listen to.) Almost two weeks ago, we wrote that Douglas Brinkley said, “Kerry went into Cambodian waters three or four times in January and February 1969 on clandestine missions.” Mr. Brinkley's statement now seems false. His claim that Kerry was in “Cambodian waters” three or four times has been challenged by the advertisement's claim that “John Kerry claims that he spent Christmas in 1968 in Cambodia and that is categorically a lie. Not in December, not in January.” If true, this debunks Kerry's extensive claim that he was in Cambodia: that he remembers “what it was like to be shot at by Vietnamese and Khmer Rouge and Cambodians, and have the president of the United States tell the American people I was not there; the troops were not in Cambodia.” It also takes away any authority Brinkley's comments had. Never in Cambodia (video): STEVE GARDNER: “I spent more time on John Kerry’s boat than any other crew member. John Kerry hasn’t been honest, he’s been deceitful. John Kerry claims that he spent Christmas in 1968 in Cambodia and that is categorically a lie. Not in December, not in January. We were never in Cambodia on a secret mission, ever.” VO: “Swift Boat Veterans for truth is responsible for the content of this advertisement.”

Permalink | News and Views

August 27, 2004, 11:21 AM

Outside View: Kerry's Credibility Problem

By The Staff

By Les Csorba A UPI Outside View commentary HOUSTON, Aug. 6 (UPI) — “Trust resembles a fine piece of crystal,” wrote Harvard Professor Joseph Badaracco. It must be handled very carefully or the shattered pieces may become very sharp to handle. Whatever one says about Sen. John F. Kerry's acceptance speech, he had it right on one count: this election is about “trust.” Which leader can be trusted with commanding the war on terror, trusted with U.S. homeland security, trusted with continuing U.S. economic growth and current job expansion, trusted with safeguarding traditional U.S. values in the culture wars. Most of all, which leader can be trusted to be a straight shooter? Kerry was right that trust is the central issue of the election, but he made it very personal. Borrowing President Bush's 2000 promise to restore “integrity and dignity” to the Oval Office, the U.S. senator from Massachusetts directly attacked the president's own character by pledging to “restore trust and credibility” to the White House. That in the same speech he challenged the president not to engage in negative attacks just confirms his own phoniness. Kerry showed himself to be a model of insincerity, a master of speaking out of both sides of his mouth. How “credible and trustworthy” is a politician who in the very same speech in which he attacks his opponent for a lack of credibility tries to inoculate himself from similar attacks by urging his opponent not to respond in kind? Assault the president's character and then plead for a truce? Are Kerry and friends kidding themselves? The fact is that they spent the better part of the last year eviscerating the president as a “liar”; a “deceiver”; and a “thug”. Now, as the campaign ramps up for the finish, they want the president to lay back and say, “Thank you, sir, may I please have another?” Kerry has long criticized the president for being a “unilateralist”; his disingenuous plea for a truce is nothing more than an effort to feint the president into unilateral political disarmament. Rather than comply, the president needs to fight back to show who has the steadiest record of credibility and integrity of convictions. Leaders are worthy of trust because they develop a track record of reliability over a long period of time and do not make bad decisions willfully or consciously. When Bill Clinton lied under oath, misused the Oval Office and Lincoln Bedroom for political fundraisers, and then wagged his finger at the American people saying, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman,” he committed conscious and willful acts of deception. In Bush's case, he relied on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction intelligence universally accepted by Clinton, the United Nations, Germany, France — and Kerry himself. The president's daily threat assessment briefings following 9/11 included recently revealed Russian intelligence that Saddam Hussein was planning additional terrorist attacks on the United States. And he was moved by intelligence (now confirmed by four independent sources) that Iraq was in fact trying to purchase enriched uranium from Niger. All of this evidence compelled the president to act and lead. For this, he is branded a “deceiver” and “liar.” If the president, and the scores of other public officials were wrong about WMD, then it was a serious intelligence blunder, not willful deception. The demagogues who suggest otherwise, like Michael Moore and John F. Kerry, are the real deceivers. Post 9/11, the president's steady leadership built enormous trust and credibility. In a time of war, the people of the United States need a decisive, straight shooter who sees the world as it is — with good and evil, with real enemies and genuine friends. That moral clarity and steeliness combined with the president's expression of grief and emotion built trust. Trust once built, needs to be maintained. The president is battling vigorously to repair the chipped pieces. Bush's credibility has been under massive assault. Kerry too has problems on this issue, though they have not received the same level of scrutiny. How “credible and trustworthy” is a man who takes such pride in his Vietnam service, yet when he returned was so utterly ashamed of the atrocities that he and other servicemen allegedly committed? Is he proud of his service in Vietnam or not? How “credible and trustworthy” is a man, who now says he believes “life begins at conception,” yet remains a vigorous abortion rights supporter who voted against the ban on partial birth abortion? If he genuinely believes that life does begin at conception then what may I ask is he doing to protect that life? Even abortion rights advocates have decried the incongruity of this position. What kind of leader would affirm that life begins at conception and then vote consistently to protect the termination of the life? After all, the integration of what you believe into how you behave is what we call integrity. How “credible and trustworthy” is a man who claims to be a Roman Catholic but rejects many of the church's explicit teachings? This is the same guy who says he doesn't wear his “religion on his sleeve,” slighting the millions of Catholics and other believers who are actually proud not ashamed of their faith. Is he a serious man of faith or one who merely exploits its' reputation for political value? How “credible and trustworthy” is a man who seeks to be commander in chief, yet sends a not so subtle message to 140,000 troops that we are in Iraq because we “want to be” not because we “have to be.” What a morale boost that was! Can our troops trust an aspiring “commander in chief” interested in clever one-liners more than how it might inspire and motivate? Take a logic inventory on the candidate who claims he wants to restore “trust and credibility.” The senator votes FOR authorizing the war in Iraq and then tells the country (with troops listening) that they “don't have to be there.” Which is it? Did Kerry vote for the war because he “wanted to” or because he “had to?” How “credible and trustworthy” is a guy who voted for the war, but wouldn't fund the troops fighting to keep the peace, blurting out his unequivocal explanation, “I actually voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it?” How credible is the politician who, in his acceptance speech, promises an end to the horror of U.S. families buying body armor for their loved ones fighting in Iraq, and yet voted against the appropriations bill that supplied the same body armor to our troops? Who, may I ask, has the real “credibility” problem? So, how about restoring “trust and credibility” to Kerry's campaign and character? This, of course, begs the question of whether his fine crystal of trust has already been shattered, and whether he has inadvertently cut himself while trying to hold the pieces. Les Csorba is a local businessman and author of “Trust: The One Thing That Makes or Breaks a Leader.”

Permalink | News and Views

August 27, 2004, 10:33 AM

Only Liberal Speech is Free Speech

By M. Wildes

The Houston Chronicle, mockingly quoting President Bush, entitled a recent editorial,“Served admirably.” They continued by suggesting, “No reasonable person can look at Kerry's military record and conclude the candidate should be vilified because of it.” This assertion hypocritically ignores the truth about liberal 527s and minimizes President Bush's compliments to Kerry's service and denouncement of 527s.
But Bush declined to single out for condemnation the ad alleging Kerry didn't deserve his medals. Bush called for all so-called 527 independent advocacy groups to stop running ads about the campaign. The president did not make the case why all advocacy groups should forfeit their free speech rights because one group ran a particularly scurrilous ad — an ad contradicted on several points by Naval records, other veterans and by previous statements made by Kerry's accusers.
According to the Chronicle, liberal 527s exercise “free speech” but conservative 527s exercise “scurrilous” speech. Is it not all free speech? Apparently, attacking President Bush's service and comparing him to a Nazi is not scurrilous enough to raise the editors' brows. The Chronicle, however, continued with the following:
The president did not defend Kerry's record until after the damage from the disputed allegations had been done. Perhaps the president realized his own vulnerability if the focus remained on the subject of Vietnam-era military service. Perhaps the president realized the ties between his campaign and the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth were beginning to show, making him liable for the attack on Kerry.
The Houston Chronicle is going wild with their “perhapses.” In their second one, they unquestionably assume a connection between President Bush and the Swift Boat Vets for Truth without even considering the very real connection between the Democrats, Kerry and liberal 527s. In fact, the Chronicle ignores almost an entire year of MoveOn.org ads that Kerry did not criticize even after the damage was done. Their unsupported assumptions and blatant one-sided view of the facts show the falsity of their claim* “that [their] editorial policy is neither liberal nor conservative, but based upon principles and pragmatism that transcend, or, less grandly, avoid partisan ideology.” If an editorial is supposed to avoid partisan ideology, the Chron has failed with this one. *If you cannot see the link, temporally turn off your ad blocker. The link is embedded within their /ads/ folder.

Permalink | News and Views

August 27, 2004, 08:49 AM

Chron: Eckels should learn to stop worrying and love the secularism

By Owen Courrèges

The Chronicle has a staff editorial in today's edition maligning Judge Robert Eckels for mounting an appeal against US District Judge Sim Lake's decision to order the removal of the Bible from the now infamous 'Mosher monument.' Their argument is nothing we haven't heard before from the Chron when faced with conservative forces they disagree with:
Harris County Judge Robert Eckels, along with County Attorney Mike Stafford, is using the case to curry favor with Christian conservatives, a large segment of county voters. Eckels said important legal issues remain outstanding and can be decided only by an appellate court. Every litigant is entitled to appeal, but Judge Eckels is mistaken about the need for it.
Ah. Eckels is “using the case to curry favor with Christian conservatives.” It's that simple, right? I mean, Eckels couldn't truly believe in this case or anything. It must just be political pandering. By the same token, I'll charge that the Chronicle wants to allow Judge Lake's decision to stand because they have a pact with Satan, and the presence of the Bible offends their Satanist sensibilities. What? It's no less justifiable of a supposition than that which was advanced by the Chronicle. They're always assuming that anybody who disagrees with them must be spurred on by corrupt motivations. I'm just going along with the logical extension of their own arguments.
Eckels said the county needs to know when public monuments to individuals, “who happen to be people of faith,” become state promotion of religion. Judge Lake answered that question. When display of a Bible on government property promotes religion and has no secular purpose, it is unconstitutional. Judge Lake ordered only the Bible removed. The monument to the philanthropist, whose religious beliefs are supposedly incidental, can stay.
Yes, why does anybody appeal a decision if it answers the pertinent legal question? Oh yes, I know... It's because they disagree with the court on the issue of law involved. They hold that the monument does have a secular purpose, and that's pretty much undeniable. Even if you hold that the monument does advance religion, you also have to admit that it honors local philanthopist William Mosher. Simple, eh?
During the trial, persons connected to the monument testified that it promoted religion, which should be permissible in a Christian nation. That notion is contradicted by the plain meaning of the U.S. Constitution, statements and correspondence by the Framers, and subsequent rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court, to which Eckels vows to pursue the case.
So the attitudes of 'persons connected to the monument' suddently changes the entire public face of the monument, which is ostensibly to honor Mosher? Case law didn't require that conclusion; Judge Lake thought that up himself. And it's a point worth arguing on appeal. Furthermore, I'd say the kinds of things the founders did allow, such as having Christian mass in the capitol building and hiring a paid Christian chaplain for the national legislature, constitute far strong connections with Christianity than simply having a Bible honoring a local philanthropist outside of a county courthouse. Isn't that too worth arguing on appeal? Or does the Chronicle know so little of history and logic that they cannot see the obvious contradiction?
Perhaps the justices of the 5th Circuit will prove more attuned to Eckels' political aims than to the Constitution. If so, their ruling will be as misguided as Eckels' decision to appeal.
Pfft. The Constitution doesn't demand that the Mosher Bible be removed. All it says is that the government “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” Frankly, if the Chronicle sees the mere presence of the Bible as “an establishment of religion,” they're even more bonkers than I initially thought.

Permalink | Chron Bias

August 27, 2004, 08:47 AM

Letters to the Editor

By Mona Lugay

Most of you are taking advantage of our comments section to respond to individual posts, but we do welcome your letters and will publish the best ones from time to time. Please feel free to email us at [email protected]. Kerry's focus should be on the issues Sometimes people want something so much that they will do anything to get it. The thing they want is so desirable that they will go to extraordinary measures to get it. Sen. John Kerry is that way concerning the Presidency of the United States. His goal, and that of the Democratic Party, is for Kerry to become President no matter what it takes. Currently, they are counting on the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth to help Kerry win the White House. Kerry hopes we will all be focused on his Vietnam record. He wants his record in Vietnam to be the only issue. However, the American people deserve to know about the Kerry of today. We have the right to know how Kerry stands on today's issues, such as the economy, the war on terror and social issues. Kerry does not want anyone looking at his record in the US Senate or his record anywhere else from his years in Vietnam to the present. He hopes to hide himself inside the so-called Republican attacks so he can avoid discussing his liberalism. It is time to stop playing Kerry's game and to call him out on the issues. He is the one who said to bring it on. Kerry needs to explain his position on today's issues and stop clamoring about the Swift Boat Vets. Ray Taft

Permalink | Letters

August 27, 2004, 07:43 AM

Federal judge slaps down partial-birth abortion ban

By Owen Courrèges

Yes, yes, we were all expecting the federal courts to have a field day in ruling against this perfectly reasonable legislation, so this travesty comes as little surprise. Still, even I'm shocked that the courts have the audacity to employ reasoning so flawed on a point of fact. I'm referring to this excerpt from the article:
[U.S. District Judge Richard] Casey said a Supreme Court ruling held that the only way “this gruesome procedure” may be outlawed is if there was a “medical consensus” there was no circumstance in which any woman could benefit from it. “While Congress and lower courts may disagree with the Supreme Court's constitutional decision, that does not free them from their constitutional duty to obey the Supreme Court's rulings,” Casey said.
In terms of a health benefit, there are, in fact, no situations where a considerable health benefit can be derived from partial-birth abortion. Even the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Medical Association, both of which are groups opposing partial-birth abortion bans, still admit that the procedure (known in medical terminology as as intact dilatation and extraction) is never medically necessary:
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: “...ACOG could identify no circumstances under which intact D&X would be the only option to protect the life or health of a woman... American Medical Association: ”...[T]here does not appear to be any identified situation in which intact dilation and extraction is the only appropriate procedure to induce abortion..."
The argument both groups have for supporting the legality of partial-birth abortion is rather weak. Basically, they suggest that only the doctor and patient can decide what procedure is preferable, and so even if partial-birth abortion is never really necessary, it should still be available. Basically, they want doctors to have leeway, and oppose legislation that restricts them. However, the fact remains that partial-birth abortion is never a medically necessary procedure. The same protections for the life and health of the mother can be achieved through less barbaric means.

Permalink | News and Views

August 26, 2004, 09:05 PM

Another Match To Contend With

By Matt Forge

Permalink | Political Cartoons

August 26, 2004, 04:45 PM

Relax!

By Rob Booth

Remember all the ruckus people were making about the international inspectors coming in to monitor the fall elections? Well, I'm here to calm your fears. There's no reason to worry. The guy who heads up a part of the international organization that does the monitoring is an American. He's a Democratic Congressman from Florida. Oh, and he was impeached when he was a judge. APC.com: International Election Monitoring Group Headed By Impeached U.S. Judge; Group Warns of Election Catastrophe By American Policy Center
The American Policy Center charged on Wednesday that the U.S. State Department has invited scandal, fraud, and corruption to the American electoral process with its decision to bring in foreign election observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to monitor the November presidential election. APC, a grassroots activist organization located in suburban Washington, D.C., is alerting Americans to the dangers of inviting an international body to monitor the upcoming presidential election. APC has discovered that the president of the OSCE election monitoring arm is none other than Florida Representative and disgraced federal judge, Alcee Hastings. He was elected President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly on July 9 of this year. According to its website: “The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly's role [in the election monitoring process] is to deploy parliamentarians, primarily as short-term observers, and to provide political leadership to the OSCE monitoring operation.” In other words, Alcee Hastings is at the top of the OSCE’s election monitoring operation.
So, I run in right-wing circles. I get all kinds of stuff sent me about international conspiracies and such, I don't pay attention to most of them. I figured this would be easy to debunk as one of those Internet rumors. So I went to check it out. It's true that Rep. Hastings is in charge of this group and they do election monitoring. Here's where the State Department recently talked to them about our elections. The only thing I can't quite figure out is that there seems to be another part of the OSCE that monitors elections as well and they work “together.” So, a Florida Democrat could be in the leadership of the group that makes sure our elections are “fair.” Great.

Permalink | News and Views

August 26, 2004, 12:35 PM

METRO driver accused of molesting child passenger

By Phil Magness

Channel 2 News is reporting that a 14 year old girl has come forward alleging that she was molested by a METRO bus driver last Saturday evening. The teenager was the lone rider on one of the ubiquitous late night METRO bus routes when the driver is said to have made an unscheduled stop where the incident reportedly occured. METRO has suspended the driver while a police investigation of the incident takes place. Though the report made the lead story slot for last night's broadcast, there was expectedly no discernable mention of the incident in the METRO-sexual Houston Chronicle. Houston's only daily newspaper has a long history of neglecting and downplaying negative publicity involving the controversial transit agency, thus permitting itself to be “scooped” time and again on major METRO stories by the television stations. Keep an eye out for this one though. If we're lucky they may see fit to print a two sentence “news brief” on page 32 about a week from now.

Permalink | News and Views

August 26, 2004, 09:30 AM

Cheering for Iraqi Soccer

By M. Wildes

I was proud of America and what we had done for the Iraqi soccer team and the nation's Olympic hopes. For the first time they were able to practice without of fear of Uday's whips and abuses. For the first time, free men were representing their nation, by choice. For the first time, they had a chance for a medal. What a great Cinderella story. The United States captured Saddam, killed his brutal sons, and freed its people. We killed Uday whose pet project was the Olympic team. His project was picking them, forcing them, training them, punishing them, and even torturing them. It was also the United States that, according to an article published by the Houston Chronicle, provided the needed ten million dollars, for help reorganizing the disband Olympic committee, training, traveling and qualifying for the Olympics. When they lost their shot at Gold and Silver by losing to Paraguay, I felt bad for them, but remained proud of their unprecedented success. They have an opportunity to win a Bronze with a defeat of Italy this Friday. Then I read the following in Wednesday’s Chronicle:
Yet coach Husad criticized President Bush’s use of Iraq’s flag in a political advertisement, saying after Saturday’s quarterfinal win over Australia: “Bush helps to destroy our country. After a year and a half, we have passed into a very bad situation. . . . We’ll never believe Bush can be with us.” At least one player, Abdul Manajid of Fallujah, has said if he were not on the Olympic team, he would be fighting against coalition forces.
I cannot place myself in the shoes of these men, but I would like to think that I would be grateful to those who provided me with such an opportunity. I only hope that Mr. Manajid enjoys his punishment-free return after losing this time.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

August 26, 2004, 08:00 AM

Fmr. Sen. Cleland refuses to deliver letter

By Owen Courrèges

There are some stories so hilarious that you simply have to read the relevant portions yourself. This is one such story (from Click2Houston.com):
Former Democratic Sen. Max Cleland tried to deliver a letter protesting ads challenging John Kerry's Vietnam service to President Bush at his Texas ranch Wednesday, but neither a Secret Service official nor a state trooper would take it. The former Georgia senator, a triple amputee who fought in Vietnam, was carrying a letter from nine Senate Democrats who wrote Bush that “you owe a special duty” to condemn attacks on Kerry's military service. Former Sen. Max Cleland attempts to deliver letter to President George W. Bush protesting attacks on John Kerry's military record. “The question is where is George Bush's honor, the question is where is his shame to attack a fellow veteran who has distinguished himself in combat?” Cleland asked. “Regardless of the political combat involved, it's disgraceful.” [...] A Texas state official and Vietnam veteran, Jerry Patterson, said someone from the Bush campaign contacted him Wednesday morning and asked him if he would travel to the ranch, welcome Cleland to Texas and accept the former senator's letter to Bush. “I tried to accept that letter and he would not give it to me,” said Patterson. “He would not face me. He kept rolling away from me. He's quite mobile.”
The hilarity aside, it's worth noting just how rude Cleland's actions were towards Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson. Patterson is a Vietnam Vet himself, and he was sent personally by President Bush to accept Cleland's letter. To shun him, I think, is a slap in the face and a clear demonstration of the partisan motivations behind this stunt. The intent was never to give Bush a letter of complaint; the intent was to make Bush look bad. I suppose Cleland is still bitter over the fact that he was voted out of office largely over his weakness on national security issues, although he'd thought that he'd be shielded from that due to his war record. I was glad to see him proven wrong, but I'm not glad to see how pathetic he has grown. This is just sad.

Permalink | News and Views - Texas

August 26, 2004, 07:12 AM

Bush Takes Fight Over Kerry's Senate Record to Big Media (Satire)

By Matt Forge

New York (CB) — Former Assistant to President Reagan and White House Press Secretary, James Brady, told reporters he attempted to deliver John Kerry's senate record to ABC, NBC, CBS and CNN asking them to specifically announce his voting record on military issues and his number of absences. However, no one at the studios would accept the letter. Brady, a wheelchair-bound Republican who was seriously wounded by a gunshot wound to the head when John Hinckley attempted to assassinate the President on March 30, 1981, arrived in New York in the early afternoon “This dubious censorship on John Kerry's voting record and work absences, are disingenuous and Big Media is behind it,” Brady said to members of the press after trying to distribute the letter. “That's why I tried to deliver a letter to the studios and hand it to either the execs or one of the news anchors, but that was unsuccessful and I'm sorry it was.” “All they [Big Media] need to do is set the record straight, to expose John Kerry for who he really is … and so far, they've refused,” Brady said. He delivered the letter around 1 p.m. EDT. It was signed by nineteen Republican U.S. senators who are also in agreement urging Big Media to condemn censorship on John Kerry's voting record and work absences that have recently not dogged his presidential campaign. “As members of the Senate, we ask that you recognize this blatant attempt at information camouflage and publicly condemn it,” the letter to Big Media says. (The above story, though based on actual events, is satire or parody. It is meant for entertainment only and is NOT true.)

Permalink | Humor

August 26, 2004, 06:28 AM

Traincrashing

By Rob Booth

Another major media outlet takes note of the light-rail problems. KRT via Monterey Herald: Houston's new rail line confronts poor drivers head-on
HOUSTON - (KRT) - This sprawling city of big oil, big cars and big roads has a nifty new downtown light-rail system sporting sleek train cars, convenient stops and rapid service. But for all their careful designs, the transportation planners forgot to do one thing: allow for Houston's terrible drivers. There have been nearly 60 accidents in the first eight months of the system's operation, most caused when drivers plowed into the trains, which share the street along much of the rail line's 7.5-mile route. Although the number of collisions has declined over the summer, there is still one crash every five days or so. That means the Houston system has an accident rate 20 times the average for light-rail systems across the country, according to national transportation statistics.
Mr. Gaver can comment on the assertion that “the number of collisions has declined over the summer.” Also, the Chronicle reported on the latest accident. Houston Chronicle: 58th light-rail accident sends woman to hospital
A woman was hospitalized overnight after her car was struck by a MetroRail train downtown.
We learned that the Chronicle had decided not to report every accident, perhaps they've changed their mind. Update: A Minnesota news outlet piles on Houston drivers.

Permalink | Houston's Light Rail

August 25, 2004, 09:29 PM

Defensive Driving On The Information Superhighway

By Matt Forge

A few weeks back I was the proud recipient of a citation from the city of Houston. No, it wasn't an award for my tireless charity work, but rather for my attempting to be the early morning rush hour pace car. Defensive driving was an option open to me because it had been over a year since the last time I confirmed that a police officer's radar gun was functioning properly. I've been to the regular defensive driving class, taught by a judge as well as one taught by a “comedian.” To my pleasant surprise, I discovered that it’s now possible to complete the course online. This seemed a great option in that I could allegedly work at my own pace from home in my underwear. The process, however, had more bumps and hazards than the streets of Baghdad - or worse yet, downtown Houston. There are several defensive driving sites that are accepted by the state. I chose one from the list called Driver Campus. According to the site, it “is powered by 360Training Inc., a market leading provider of government approved online training solutions nationwide.” I'm not sure why I picked this one, other than it was God's way of making me really suffer for my driving sins. Apparently He looks down on the laziness of being able to make retribution by lying on a futon and clicking the mouse resting atop your belly. Anyway, the site basically works with cheesy flash animation that looks like it was the class project of Mrs. Appleworth's ninth-grade computer class. It posts some text while at the same time reading it out loud. This should help those illiterate of you out there who are driving around trying to figure out what the heck all those street signs are saying - like, “Right Turn Illegal Lest Thou Be Smitten By Giant Metro Train Serpent.” As many of you know, by reading my posts, nothing is more painful than trying to tolerate someone attempting to be funny when in fact they are at best, sophomoric. This site's “material” reaches a new low that can only be described as “freshmanic” or “middle-schoolic.” As the course rumbles along and your mouse finger gets quite a workout, there are intermittent interruptions designed to be security checks. There are two different types of confirmations that have to be dealt with: (1) that you are paying attention and (2) that you are really you. In the first type, you have to answer a multiple-choice question about material that was covered earlier in an animated short. But they don't ask about the content of what was communicated (what you are supposed to be learning). No, that would be too logical. Instead, they ask questions like, *“What was the name on the guy's belt?” or *“Is she a Republican or a Catholic?” *Note: These aren't the exact questions, but they're close in character and uselessness. A) I don't want to be sued for giving away top defensive driving course secrets. B) If you're going to take this virtual class, I (and God) want you to suffer as much as possible. But it was the second type of security check that had me fuming with road rage in the comfort of my very own home. Apparently the site is connected to the Department of Motor Vehicle's database which it accesses to ask you questions about your personal history. This would be great if it actually worked. At the prompt, you are asked a question concerning where you lived at a certain date, or are currently living or what your mother's second dog's name was before you were born. A text field is provided for your input and you are given about twenty-five to thirty seconds to search your memory banks and type in the correct answer. This must be what it's like to participate on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, except each correct answer doesn't win you more money, but rather, the right to be psychologically tortured by Rege yelling in your ears Letterman's top-ten lists from the past decade or so. At the first incorrect answer, the computer tells you that you may not be you and that if you miss the next one you will be locked out of the program. Of course, one would have to be really stupid to give an incorrect answer, right? Wrong! The system is seriously flawed. For example, I've lived at the same residence for over five years now. It asked me to type the first letter of the city I was living in during a certain year within that time frame. I typed it in and it told me I was wrong. Later it asked for the first number of my street address. Again it indicated that I was basically an idiot or that I was a terrorist paid to take this test for me. At the “You have been locked out” prompt (accompanied by a menacing tone usually reserved for intergalactic warlords), an 800 number is provided for you to call and discuss the situation with a friendly operator whom is eagerly awaiting to assist you. All that happens is that you tell them you are you and that you were locked out. They believe you and let you back in. That's it. I got locked out about four or five times and they kept logging me back in. Captain Obvious asks, “Where's the security in that?!” What a waste. Upon protesting my alleged wrong answers, the scripted response I got was that their information is based on the DMV's records and that they couldn't help that. This is frightening if, in fact, the state does not know where I've lived for the past five years. But I, as a consumer, do not care about their failings being the fault of a third party. I just wanted to stop being kicked out of their program. The last straw was when I was taking the course test. The I.D. prompt came up on the last question and I, you guessed it, got kicked off yet again. Answering these things was a total crapshoot. When I called this time, the guy said that maybe the answers on the check prompts are case sensitive. I didn't recall ever being warned about that. And it doesn't account for the wrong first number of my street address. I told him that their system needs to be amended to accept both upper and lower case letters, which I'm sure he took to heart and promptly filled out a form for their suggestion box. Fortunately, the system recognized my last answer on the test, and when I was logged back on I didn't have to retake it. My score was a 100, virtually assuring that I'm now a safe, courteous driver (yet, mentally disturbed due to this entire process). Now, the course is slated to run six hours in length. But with all the interruptions, it spanned two days from beginning to end (depending on the available time slots I had to work each day). On the first day, I was kicked off after business hours (8am to 5pm CST). I couldn't reach any help, but I did leave two messages that were never returned and I wasn't logged back in for the rest of the night. (In all fairness, I tried this again another night just as a test and I did get through to an actual person who could have helped me if I actually needed it.) Frustrated and tired of waiting, I blew off some steam by screeching down the street and spinning donuts in the cul-de-sac (just kidding). I did, however, have to wait until the next day before being logged back on by an available human. Finally, the most disturbing thing about this defensive driving program came in the form of a resurrected talk-show corpse. More sensitive readers are cautioned from reading any further in that the horror that I am about to describe may be too much to take. You have been warned. One segment deals with the topic of drinking and driving. It's a subject that must be dealt with and it's great that people are taught the facts and warned of the dangers. However, the medium chosen to convey this information was an unexpected shock to the system. I was forced to hear excerpts and view still shots from the Phil Donahue show circa 1980s. I'm sorry, I can't go on. It's just too painful to recount the horror of having to go through it. You'll just have to use your imagination. In conclusion: If all the other online defensive driving courses are like this car wreck, then I would suggest saving time and frustration by going to a class taught by real people where humor is left to the professionals. This system was a hazard best avoided by leaving a “safe space” of infinity. But hey, if you drive responsibly and within the confines of the law, you won't have to worry about any of this. Just keep out of my way.

Permalink | Humor

August 25, 2004, 10:50 AM

Kerry's Diary confirms Swift Boat Vet claims

By Phil Magness

Here's a story you are unlikely to see in newspapers with an editorial policy against all persons who question John Kerry's Vietnam record. While liberal newspapers are having a feeding frenzy maligning Swift Boat Veterans for Truth over alleged connections to the Bush campaign, today's Washington Times reports on the existence of a strong piece of evidence suggesting the group's claims about Kerry's record are true. The Times excerpts a curious passage from Mr. Kerry's own diary, dated December 11, 1968, that seemingly refutes his current version of the events over which he received his first purple heart some nine days prior. At issue is whether a minor injury claimed by Kerry on December 2nd of the same year was in fact self inflicted or from enemy fire. Kerry's diary entry on the previous week's events reads:
“A cocky feeling of invincibility accompanied us up the Long Tau shipping channel because we hadn't been shot at yet, and Americans at war who haven't been shot at are allowed to be cocky,”
The passage is key as the government's policy did not award purple hearts for self inflicted wounds. Kerry later used the December 2nd incident for one of his three purple hearts, thus permitting him to end his Vietnam tour early after only four months of service.

Permalink | News and Views

August 25, 2004, 09:25 AM

Cheney parts company with Bush on gay marriage

By Owen Courrèges

If there's one thing a Vice President needs to do, it's support the policies of the administration fully and without reservation. In this, Cheney has recently failed (from ABC 13):
Vice President Dick Cheney, whose daughter Mary is a lesbian, drew criticism from both proponents and foes of gay marriage Tuesday after he distanced himself from President Bush's call for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. At a campaign rally in this Mississippi River town, Cheney spoke supportively about gay relationships, saying “freedom means freedom for everyone,” when asked about his stand on gay marriage. [...] Addressing Bush's position on the amendment, Cheney said: “At this point, say, my own preference is as I've stated, but the president makes policy for the administration. He's made it clear that he does, in fact, support a constitutional amendment on this issue.” Those comments drew criticism from the conservative Family Research Council, with President Tony Perkins saying: “I find it hard to believe the vice president would stray from the administration's position on defense policy or tax policy. For many pro-family voters, protecting traditional marriage ranks ahead of the economy and job creation as a campaign issue.”
Bad form, Mr. Cheney. Bad form.

Permalink | News and Views

August 25, 2004, 09:23 AM

Today's Features

By Mona Lugay

Make sure you view our Features section for daily commentary on entertainment “wonders and blunders,” the sports world's best and worst shots, local high school sports updates, the great outdoors, a little miscellaneous humor and much more. Bob Willems describes John Kerry's “flip-flop” attitude, comparing him to the lead character in Woody Allen's 1983 film, “Zelig.” Barry Chambers remembers the silent comedies and Matt Malatesta says it's going to be a “Stormy” season for Angleton.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

August 25, 2004, 08:00 AM

Janet Jackson says Bush used her breast to distract from Iraq

By Owen Courrèges

If there was even a shred of remaining doubt as to Janet Jackson's utter lack of both taste and intelligence, these boorish statements have rendered it asunder (from Click2Houston.com):
Singer Janet Jackson is accusing President Bush of using her breast to distract the country from the war in Iraq. Janet Jackson makes a videotaped apology for her bare-breast incident at the Super Bowl in February. She told Genre magazine that her “wardrobe malfunction” at the Super Bowl was “the perfect vehicle” to take the country's mind off what's happening in Iraq.
Oh yes, Janet. Bush conspired to use your little flash during the Superbowl to distract the country from Iraq. It's all so clear now! Perhaps aliens caused your little 'wardrobe malfunction' too, eh? After all, it's all a grand conspiracy. Sheesh!

Permalink | News and Views

August 25, 2004, 06:48 AM

Mindreading Editorials

By Rob Booth

It's a minor quibble, but a quibble nonetheless. I don't like it when the Chronicle's editorial page claims things as facts when they aren't. Chronicle: CONFIDENTIAL SOURCES — A plague of subpoenas of news reporters threatens the flow of information about government.
TIME Magazine has avoided a stiff fine, and its reporter, Matthew Cooper, will not spend time in jail for being in contempt of court. Cooper's source has freed him from his promise of confidentiality, allowing him to give a deposition in the case of the leak of a CIA agent's identity. The case is a serious one. According to columnist Robert Novak and several other journalists in Washington, two senior administration officials called them to reveal the fact that Valerie Plame was a CIA agent. [snip] The public wants the culprits identified.
The last line is the one I don't like. How do they know what the public thinks on this? Have they done a poll? If so, I'd sure like to see the poll results. How many of the public had any idea what the Plame/Wilson/Novak issue is? I'm thinking that will be a new theme I'm going to follow. My impression is that the editorial page writers present things as facts in editorials all the time, when they really aren't facts at all. They're usually a throw-away line tangential to the main point of the editorial but it leaves the impression with the reader that something is true, when it isn't. Of course, some people at the Chronicle have denied there is such a thing as the truth. I guess we shouldn't be too hard on them. Not.

Permalink | Chron Bias

August 25, 2004, 06:32 AM

Guilt by association?

By Rob Booth

I'm back from a vacation on Grand Cayman. We had a wonderful time, and I came back tanned, rested, and filled with love and good will for everyone. Then I read the Chronicle and the feelings passed. Today the Chronicle reprints a New York Times article on the Swift Boat Vets. Chronicle: Bush's lawyer helped vets group
WASHINGTON - The Bush campaign's top outside lawyer said he has given legal advice to the group of veterans attacking Sen. John Kerry's Vietnam War record and anti-war activism in a book, television commercials and countless appearances on cable news. The lawyer, Benjamin Ginsberg, said the group, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, called him in July to ask for his help and that he agreed. He said he had yet to work out payment details with the group and that he might consider doing the work pro bono. Ginsberg said he was helping the group comply with campaign finance rules and that his work was separate from that of his work for the president. President Bush has called for an end to advertising by all outside groups like that of the swift boat veterans, called 527s for the section of the tax code that created them. Bush's campaign aides have repeatedly said they have no connection to the group, almost all of whose challenges to Kerry and his war record have been contradicted by official war records and even some of its members' own past statements.
The first thing I thought was “So, a lawyer representing two different clients proves a connection between the clients?” Following the logic, the following people are connected: David Koresh (Branch Davidian) Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison Ramsey Muniz (La Raza Unida’s candidate for Governor) Robert Durst (cleared in a Galveston murder case) The connection? They've all been represented by Houston attorney Dick DeGuerin. Maybe the NYT and the Chronicle should look into the ties between Sen. Hutchison and Robert Durst. That'd be a big scoop for you guys.

Permalink | News and Views

August 24, 2004, 11:08 PM

Muslim scholar barred from U.S.

By Matt Bramanti

Reuters and AP are reporting that Tariq Ramadan, a well-known Muslim academic, has been denied entry to the U.S. after the Department of Homeland Security recommended that his visa be revoked. Ramadan, the grandson of a major figure in Islamic radicalism, was set to begin teaching in the peace studies department at my alma mater, the University of Notre Dame.
“In many ways he has defined what it means to be a European Muslim,” said Muqtedar Khan, a political scientist at Adrian College in Michigan. “He has essentially tried to bridge the culture gap.” However, terrorism expert Yehudit Barsky of the American Jewish Committee described Ramadan as a Muslim proselytizer who tries to bring legitimacy to Islamic militants. “We really had hoped the university had exercised more caution in bringing him over here,” she said in a recent interview before news of the visa revocation became known.
Ramadan isn't just some closet wacko; he's a pretty well-known guy. Time Magazine honored him in its “Innovators” feature. His research and lectures have been focused on bridging the gap between European culture and Islamic faith. Depending on how you look at it, he's either trying to create more understanding between Western and Middle Eastern peoples, or he's trying to give Islam a bigger foothold and more influence over European culture and politics. I suspect we'll be hearing more about Ramadan in the next few days. In the meantime, I can't help but feel a bit skittish. An alleged terrorist sympathizer was welcomed, even recruited, by the university I love, a place where I still have friends. Heck, my girlfriend is studying in that very department. Say it ain't so, Notre Dame.

Permalink | News and Views

August 24, 2004, 10:22 PM

Kerry’s Unexplained Vietnam Mystery: An Investigative Report

By Matt Forge

Much of what happened to John Kerry in Vietnam is an enigma shrouded in secrecy and topped off with a sprinkling of the unknown. With conflicting eyewitness reports, it’s hard to determine just exactly what happened so long ago, in what some call the land of the lost. But another look at the photos, with a trained investigative reporter’s eye, reveals a mystery much more intriguing and sinister that has eluded discovery and scrutiny until now. As it turns out, everyone has been focusing on the wrong question. It’s mind-boggling that what I uncovered during my hours and hours of careful examination of the visual records has been missed by so many people for so long. I’m even a little embarrassed that I didn’t pick up on this earlier myself. However, I’m also absolutely convinced that I am not the first one to connect the dots here. I would be willing to bet my life that this truth is tucked away in an unmarked file cabinet in an obscure unlit closet buried deep within the bowels of the Pentagon. In fact, what I am about to expose may spell the end of my career, and maybe my very existence on this planet. Below I present a series of photographs that led me to my conclusion. I’m not going to disclose the obvious right away. Rather, I’m just going to give hints and clues until the end where I spell it all out. I’m sure that you will be as shocked as I was when you see these images from a different perspective


Do you see him? He’s right there in the middle. I know that our misidentified squinting subject is a little far off, but take a good long look. Yeah, I know. Some of you are thinking this is a doctored photo, but all of these images have been independently verified as authentic.


Here’s another picture that has surfaced. Is it becoming clearer now? You’re probably rubbing your eyes in disbelief and asking yourself, “Is it real?” Yes it is. Scientific analysis has confirmed his identity, but I’m not going to reveal it yet. Just trust your instincts and first thoughts, they won’t let you down.


Here’s a still from some famous video footage. Our subject is closer, but the camera movement has distorted the figure making it more difficult to recognize. However, it’s still not mistakable. Here we get a good sense of his identity as the camouflaged hunter races through the woods looking for a place to hide or for his next victim – it’s hard to tell which.


This is the clearest image yet. If the answer has been sneaking up on you from behind, it’s probably giving your consciousness a full frontal assault now. The powers that be are not going to be able to keep this fact (one that has come bubbling up from the deep) submerged. And don’t let your fears drag you down into the dark depths of despair. Take a deep breath and head upward and onward toward the light of truth, which will set you free.


Now we come to the most damaging photo, as far as evidence is concerned. There’s no escaping it. No more ignoring the elephant in the living room. The heat is on now and the progress of revealed truth will no longer be underfoot. This blast from the past is a crushing blow to those who would have us believe otherwise about John Kerry and Vietnam.


As this close-up shows, John Kerry is really Gomer Pyle, or rather, vice-versa. All of those episodes of the flaky soldier were really Kerry’s personal video footage of his experience in Vietnam. He’s tried to keep this secret, but all the attention from the Swift Boat Vets and my due diligence has exposed this soldier for who he really was/is. Only time will tell how this now explained mystery will affect the election and Kerry’s future. Gomer Pyle – polls show you either love him or hate him. He’s a very polarizing figure for sure. The only question now is will his star power be enough to carry him over the top to become the next President of the United States. I think not. He needs to present himself as more of a moderate and Gomer Pyle is definitely not that. Kerry’s only hope is to divert attention away from his Gomer likeness and get people to focus on some other aspect of the photographs. But I’ve run all possible scenarios through my head and I can’t think of anything else in these images that could be used for such a “wag the dog” spin. Kerry can’t possibly squirm out of this one. Note: I’m not the first to show the Gomer/Kerry likeness. It’s been floating around the net for some time. I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have some fun with it.

Permalink | Humor

August 24, 2004, 05:58 PM

“Hot saucing” sparks debate on corporal punishment

By Matt Bramanti

ABC News today ran a story about “hot saucing” — some parents' practice of placing a drop of spicy pepper sauce on childrens' tongues as punishment for misbehavior. The story quoted Lisa Whelchel, whom we all know as Blair from the TV show Facts of Life:
“It does sting and the memory stays with them so that the next time they may actually have some self-control and stop before they lie or bite or something like that,” Whelchel said on ABC News' Good Morning America. Whelchel says she would have never used hot sauce to discipline her three children if it caused lasting damage. The actress-turned-home-schooling mom suggests using just a dab of hot sauce, placing it on your finger, then touching your finger to the child's tongue. Boston family therapist Carleton Kendrick says he is vehemently against hot saucing or corporal punishment of any kind. “There's no room for pain and humiliation and fear in disciplining healthy children,” Kendrick said. “I think it's a rather barbaric practice to say the least.”
ABC's story refers to an Aug. 10 Washington Post piece, which mentions a couple of practices that my folks used on me:
Many of these parents say they are very careful about when and how they administer the pepper-laced condiment: They use only a drop, do it after repeated warnings and as a last-ditch measure. They remain confident that it causes no physical harm, and they say they talk with their child about the misbehavior afterward. They say it is similar to the old-fashioned practice of washing out a child's mouth with soap or to spanking (which some saucers do and some don't).
Honestly, I hadn't heard about hot saucing until I read the ABC piece. But my first reaction was, “Soap works better.” Growing up in my family, a dollop of hot sauce would've been about as punishing as a cupcake. But you'll never forget a little Ivory mouthwash. It's 99.44 percent horrible. But it works. I've always been in favor of responsible corporal punishment, including spanking, to control kids. The general argument I've heard against spanking is that we should reason with our kids rather than ruling by force. The only problem with that is the fact that children aren't reasonable. They're not fully formed adults with well-developed capacities to judge their actions with reason. Would anyone ask their seven-year-old kid to get a job, drive to the grocery store, or keep a checkbook? Of course not. The reason is because children's minds cannot handle complex, reason-based, anticipatory decision making. Without a loving, but firm hand to administer punishment when necessary, kids risk growing up with a diminished sense of personal responsibility, and that is much more dangerous to society than a little Tabasco.

Permalink | News and Views

August 24, 2004, 01:48 PM

The Mosher Bible gets a reprieve

By Owen Courrèges

God bless the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. They've stepped in like some deus ex machina and saved the Bible dedicated to philanthopist William Mosher that sits outside the Harris County civil courts building. It was due to be removed tonight at midnight. The Bible safe for now while the appeals are exhausted, although don't get me wrong — this battle is far from over:
A federal appeals court Tuesday blocked a judge’s order to remove a Bible from a monument outside a Harris County courthouse. U.S. District Judge Sim Lake had given the county until midnight Tuesday to remove the Bible after a woman sued claiming it was offensive to non-Christians. But a three-judge panel of the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the Bible can stay until all appeals are exhausted. The appeals court did not address the merits of the case and directed Kay Staley, a real estate broker and lawyer who sued the county, to respond to the appeals court by Wednesday, Harris County Attorney Michael Stafford said.
I, for one, will be keeping my fingers crossed for the federal courts to come to their senses.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

August 24, 2004, 10:52 AM

French Anti-Semitism shows itself in attack

By Terry Bohannon

This Monday, an anti-Semitic group “set fire to a Jewish soup kitchen in central Paris” (Reuters), and according to the Jerusalem Post (JP), thanks to “the swift move of the fire brigade, the lives of dozens of tenants of the building” were protected. However, the Jerusalem Post continues to say:
Roger Cukierman, President of the Council for Jewish Organizations in France (CRIF), the body politically representing French Jewry, bluntly blamed the laxness of French courts when dealing with anti-Semitism. Recently, a court decision compelled a Paris secondary school to re-admit expelled Muslim pupils who had verbally and physically abused a Jewish boy, called him a “Dirty Jew” and told him, “You Jews will all be exterminated.” Joseph Sitruk, France's Chief Rabbi, told French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, “The struggle against anti-Semitism ought to be made a national priority. When the authorities decided to crack down on road accidents, they did it the right way and the entire French public suddenly became aware of the seriousness of the situation. That is how this should be done,” said Rabbi Sitruk.
Justice Minister Dominique Perben of France, as reported by the Agence France-Presse, counters these grievances and says “It's on the really strong orders of the president of the republic that the government declares war on racism, on all racism.” The AFP continues:
Perben rejected an assertion by the [CRIF] in France that the government was “lax” on anti-Semitism. He said that prosecutors had orders to systematically appeal sentences seen as too light in such cases, that special appeals judges had been appointed and that penalties for racist crimes had twice been increased. “It's important that the law finds those guilty and that they are judged harshly,” he said.
Yet the French government seems rather weak in its “war on racism,” at least in its battle against anti-Semitism. Perhaps the French are overwhelmed, since “510 anti-Semitic acts or threats took place in the first six months of 2004,” as statistics published by JP show, although down from last year, the number of physical attacks were up 135 during this year's period — an increase of 6% from last year's. In the shadow of some heavy attacks last month, as the New Zealand Herald reported, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon talked about the Jews in France:
“Move to Israel as early as possible. That's what I say to Jews all around the world but there, [in France], I think it's a must. They have to move immediately.”
It's possible that Sharon believes “the laxness of French courts” is effective in combating anti-Semitism. If he brought such thoughts to his tongue, he would have put himself in more trouble than he did for the previous quote. Yet the fact remains, a lot of Jews have been seeking refuge in Israel from social and even at times physical persecution in France. According to a report by Muslim Wakeup!, “Some 2,350 of France's 600,000 Jews moved to Israel last year.” Perhaps from statements by Ariel Sharon, Roger Cukierman, Rabbi Sitruk, and others, more French Jewry will emigrate to Israel. Let's hope, as Sahin Alpay said in his opinion piece for the Turkish paper Zaman, that fewer people come to believe that “Sharon and his ilk are those responsible for the rise of anti-Semitism and hostility against the state of Israel all over the world”

Permalink | News and Views

August 24, 2004, 09:59 AM

Government Health Care: A Survivor's Story

By Clay Moore

In 1994, the issue of socialized health care gave control of Congress to the Republicans. Health care is not the dominant issue in 2004, it was 10 years ago, but the issue is still very much alive. The fundamental differences in Democrat and Republican positions remain largely intact. Yet, some of us have seen first hand what socialized health care can become. Take my friend Ceilidh (pronounced 'Kay-lee'), 22, an intelligent young woman from a working class home. As a student at Lawrence University in Wisconsin, she had a serious kidney infection while studying in England this January. Ceilidh was admitted to “the better sort” of hospital in England's multi-class government system, because she had insurance. Private insurance is illegal for British citizens. Typically British citizens are assigned to “lesser” hospitals according to a formula. Private rooms don't exist and no beds were available on female wards. She was assigned to the only bed available, it was on a men's ward. During her hospital stay Ceilidh's bed was across the aisle from a man with a botched hip surgery. During surgery he woke up and inhaled stomach fluids. There was no effort to treat the resulting Aspiration Pneumonia. Sitting up one night he looked Ceilidh in the eye and said, “I'm dying...” An elderly man on the bed next to Ceilidh was told by a doctor, “We can't move you to Intensive Care, because you are not likely to recover, and you have no family to take care of you. We have to turn off your respirator. You will be dead in about 2 hours.” Ceilidh and the ward watched as he slowly suffocated and died. Ceilidh was prescribed antibiotics for seven days, half the time she would have received in America. Months later a relapse almost killed her, but she has recovered now thanks to an American hospital. Most Americans don't know how costs, convenience, and choice can become horrifically vital concerns under socialized health care. 'Universal Health Care' and 'Single Payer Systems' are pushed as care in countries like England and Canada, hiding behind the veil of 'affordable insurance.' David B. Kendall is with Progressive Policy Institute, he wrote that “Kerry has it right on health care. [He promotes] the use of care management programs that are less expensive in the long run, because they reduce hospitalizations and other expenses that come with avoidable medical crises.” If we take what Kendall is saying literally, we can understand a “management program” to have financial control, treatment decision authority, and altered medical protocols very different from our own medical system. In socialized health care, a patient to be cared for often becomes merely an expense to be managed. I believe that clearer language would have been used if Kendall was discussing an extension to private medical care. Eventually, the government will impose its will on its citizens. If America and its politicians ignore history in regards to socialized health care, many in government will attempt to impose it on our lives and culture. If we empower government over our very lives, we may lose more than we could possibly imagine.

Permalink | News and Views

August 24, 2004, 07:46 AM

Chron: Swifties are 'unreasonable'

By Owen Courrèges

In a Chronicle staff editorial that runs today attacking Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, I was a bit puzzled by the inclusion of this line:
However, when Kerry's voluntary, decorated military service is viewed as a whole, warts and all, no reasonable person can conclude that such a record calls out for Kerry's vilification.
Look, Kerry's service is a complicated thing, and a reasonable person can indeed hold that his record calls out for villification. Kerry freely admitted to committing 'atrocities' in Vietnam, and as the Swifties have shown, many of the particulars of his service call Kerry's integrity into question. But the bottom line is that Kerry is an admitted war criminal, and when the issue of individual culpability was raised, Kerry invoked the Nuremberg trials to show that even low-ranking soldiers should still be held responsible for the atrocities they commit. He has nothing to fall back on; no excuses to make. Am I 'unreasonable' for wanting to vilify him for that?

Permalink | Chron Bias

August 24, 2004, 07:00 AM

Chron not quite bald-faced

By Matt Bramanti

I was picking through the Chronicle's list of columnists online, when something struck me: Look how scruffy these guys are! From Dwight Silverman's salt-and-pepper beard to Cragg Hines' dye-job mustache to Clay Robison's Mark Twain Halloween costume, a lot of Chron columnists are sporting facial hair. Rick Casey's got a beard. So do Ed Hegstrom and Shannon Tompkins, Michael Lonsford and Loren Steffy. No doubt we'll see Lucas Wall with a beard, just as soon as he can grow one. This raises some serious questions: 1. Do MetroRail trains emit some sort of facial hair-growth hormone? 2. Does Michael Lonsford's fuzzy mug interfere with proper wine tasting? 3. Does Gillette advertise in a paper so hostile to smooth skin? Now, I don't know if any of these guys would make it into the World Beard and Moustache Championships, but it'd be a handy excuse to send them thousands of miles away.

Permalink | Humor

August 24, 2004, 02:06 AM

Chron plugs Staley allegations in Bible Lawsuit (again)

By Phil Magness

A little over a week ago the Houston Chronicle's editorial celebrated Judge Sim Lake's recent ruling against a display of the Bible in a monument at the Harris County Courthouse. As expected, the editorial board lavished praises upon plaintiff Kay Staley, a local Democratic Party activist who was so “offended” by the existence of a Bible in the William Mosher monument that she filed a lawsuit in federal court to have it removed. Staley, the Chron reported without any substantiation beyond the claims of her attorney, has allegedly been ambushed and victimized by “hate mail” over her lawsuit - “hate mail” that is automatically assumed to originate from Christian conservatives despite shady details about its nature and the complete lack of evidence to validate its professed origins. Giving yet another plug to Staley's attempts to cast herself as a “victim” of the religious right, today's Chronicle includes a story about a letter Staley reportedly received.
In a brief opposing the county's request for a stay, Staley's lawyer, Randall Kallinen, wrote that Staley's life was threatened in a letter received Friday. The letter included a photocopy of a map showing Staley's street, and on the map was written: “We know where you live.” On a small piece of paper was written: “We have your address. It should be an easy shot.” Kallinen said he would hand over the letter and envelope, which might contain the sender's saliva, to the FBI. While she is “very frightened” by the letter, Staley has not gone into hiding because she needs to make a living, Kallinen said. “These are fundamentalists ... who are not following the love and tolerance that Jesus Christ taught,” Kallinen said.
While the allegation, if true, is indeed a serious matter, the Chronicle does a downright shoddy job of investigating its veracity and implications. Several issues arise directly from that passage in today's article: 1. Staley's attorney reportedly included the letter in his brief opposing a request by Harris County to stay the order for the Bible's removal until the appeal process had run its course. In exactly what way is the alleged threat letter material to whether or not a stay should be issued and what relevance is it to a news story about the judge's refusal of the stay request? 2. If the alleged letter was anonymous, how does Kallinen know that it was sent by Christian “fundamentalists” as has been repeatedly claimed? Until the sender is identified absolutely no evidence exists to substantiate this slander upon Christians. The Chronicle is itself complicit in the slander by repeating Kallinen's statement without noting the gratuitous nature of its claims. Unless subsequent evidence emerges the letter could have theoretically come from virtually anyone. Even the notion that it was perpetrated by a fellow traveller in the Bible-banner crowd should not be ruled out. To those who doubt this, witness the left's lengthy record of hoaxes from Tawana Brawley to recent faked hate crimes at Ole Miss and Claremont College. 3. If the alleged threat letter is as serious as today's article suggests, why hasn't Kallinen given it to the authorities for criminal investigation yet? Reports of this letter first surfaced from the Staley camp about a week ago, yet according to today's article they have yet to give it to the FBI or police - the very FIRST thing any sane person would do after receiving a threat of this sort. Instead Kallinen and his accomplices at the Chronicle have used it as a publicity stunt. 4. Exactly where do rabid atheists and anti-Christian bigots like Staley, Kallinen, and the Chronicle get the gall to lecture Christians, who they accuse and slander as a group without evidence, about being true to the tenets of Christianity? Last week's Chronicle editorial used a line virtually identical to Kallinen's quote to make the same hypocritical charge.

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

August 23, 2004, 10:26 PM

Chron logic gets even worse

By Matt Bramanti

The muddled thinking of this editorial just blows my mind:
The annual ranking of universities in U.S. News and World Report is not an accurate gage of excellence. However, it does reflect the reality that Texas' best state universities are not among the nation's best.
How does something that is “not an accurate gage” properly “reflect the reality” of a situation? To clear things up, the Chronicle gives us three reasons why Texas' state schools aren't on par with Berkeley or Virginia:
Faculty pay and graduate stipends are too low; too many graduate programs sap excellence; and undergraduate programs need strengthening.
The first I can understand. I don't agree with it, but I can understand the thinking. I have no idea what the second one is trying to convey. And the third one is just meaningless: our colleges aren't ranked high because they're not good enough. If there is a worse argument for throwing more money into public education, I'd love to hear it.

Permalink | Noxious Chron Columnists

August 23, 2004, 11:30 AM

Second Swift Boat ad

By Terry Bohannon

The Swift Boat Vets have a new advertisement. It has been causing a stir over the weekend, and has managed to bring Kerry's anti-war activities after his four month service to the foreground. This ad highlights a particular event in Kerry's life. As American soldiers were facing a heavy Vietnamese Counter-offensive, John Kerry spoke before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. It was April 22, 1971, and Kerry said the following before that Senate committee:
“I am here as one member of the group of one thousand, which is a small representation of a very much larger group of veterans in this country, and were it possible for all of them to sit at this table they would be here and have the same kind of testimony.”
Kerry implied that he was speaking for not only the VVAW, but thousands, tens of thousands more. During the speech, he continued with words that kept the NV propaganda machine churning and made accusations that demoralized many American heroes:
“They told the stories at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.”
The implications of Kerry's speech is made clear in the book “Unfit for Command”. In chapter 6 (PDF), the authors of the book claim that up to this moment, “Senator Kerry refuses to consider that his testimony caused more deaths and prolonged the war in Vietnam by undermining support at home and contributing directly to a Vietnamese Communist victory.” It is from that testimony before the Senate, April 22, 1971, that the Swift Boat Vets base their ad: Sellout (video): http://swift1.he.net/~swiftvet/selloutscript.html John Kerry: “They had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads. . .” Joe Ponder: “The accusations that John Kerry made against the veterans who served in Vietnam was just devastating.” John Kerry: “. . . randomly shot at civilians. . .” Joe Ponder: “It hurt me more than any physical wounds I had.” John Kerry: “. . . cut off limbs, blown up bodies. . .” Ken Cordier: “That was part of the torture, was, uh, to sign a statement that you had committed war crimes.” John Kerry: “. . . razed villages in a fashion reminiscent of Ghengis Khan. . .” Paul Gallanti: “John Kerry gave the enemy for free what I, and many of my, uh, comrades in North Vietnam, in the prison camps, uh, took torture to avoid saying. It demoralized us.” John Kerry: “. . . crimes committed on a day to day basis. . . ” Ken Cordier: “He betrayed us in the past, how could we be loyal to him now?” John Kerry: “. . . ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam.” Paul Gallanti: “He dishonored his country, and, uh, more, more importantly the people he served with. He just sold them out.” Announcer : “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth is responsible for the content of this advertisement.”

Permalink | News and Views

August 23, 2004, 09:05 AM

Sen. Roberts: Split up the CIA

By Owen Courrèges

This is certainly an interesting proposal, and perhaps even a worthwhile one:
The Republican chairman of the Senate intelligence committee said Sunday that he would propose legislation to break up the Central Intelligence Agency and divide its responsibilities among three new spy agencies. The plan would eliminate the Pentagon's direct control over the National Security Agency and create a post of national intelligence director with virtually complete control over the government's $40 billion annual intelligence budget. The sweeping proposal, by Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, which would also provide the national intelligence director with budget authority over counterterrorism and counterintelligence programs of the F.B.I., goes far beyond the recommendations of the independent Sept. 11 commission.
One thing is for certain — the current organization of US intelligence is faulty. Everyone seems to admit that communication is poor and crucial information tends to slip through the cracks. Roberts's proposal may be a pipe dream, but it just might be exactly what we we need.

Permalink | News and Views

August 23, 2004, 09:00 AM

Today's Features

By Mona Lugay

Make sure you view our Features section for daily commentary on entertainment “wonders and blunders,” the sports world's best and worst shots, local high school sports updates, the great outdoors, a little miscellaneous humor and much more. Don't be afraid to go back into the water. Barry Chambers gives his take on this summer's “budget” blockbuster Open Water. School is back in session and Lauren Wood says teachers feel the pressure of making a good impression.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

August 23, 2004, 07:31 AM

Chron imitates Bill O'Reilly

By Owen Courrèges

One of our long-standing complaints about the Chronicle is its total lack of originality. Just take today's 'Sounding Board' column. Before going into a characteristic anti-conservative tirade, Chronicle opinion page editor James Howard Gibbons tries the old, tired tactic of implying that his editorial page isn't biased because he gets complaints from both sides of the political aisle:
As this no-holds-barred election campaign proceeds, American voters are reported to be not only sharply divided but unusually angry. Calls to the Chronicle's editorial page office support both assertions. Several liberals complained that the paper has become hopelessly right-wing. A host of conservatives suggested in so many words that the Chronicle is now the willing tool of the liberal elite.
I've seen this before; I dubbed it the 'Bill O'Reilly tactic.' You see, although Bill O'Reilly clearly leans to the right, he'd prefer to appear tough on both sides and be in the middle. Consequently, when he reads viewer letters on the air, he frequently reads one that accuses him of being a conservative, and one that accuses him of being a liberal, the implication being that since both can't be right, the truth must be somewhere in between. What O'Reilly attempts, in a way, is a Hegelian Dialectic. He hopes that people will see the thesis and antithesis, and reach a synthesis, thus assuming that Bill O'Reilly is some kind of moderate, objective, public watchdog. In reality, of course, only a fool would think that O'Reilly is left-wing. However, O'Reilly gets enough letters from cranks and weirdos who don't know left from right that he can keep up an endless supply of accusations that he's liberal, thus completing the second half of the dialectic. It's the same with the Chronicle. The Chronicle's editorial page is undoubtedly left-wing. Even the Chronicle's reader representative has publicly admitted this, and Gibbons himself does the paper no favors by savaging conservatives throughout his piece. However, Gibbons gets letters from cranks accusing the paper of being conservative, which allows him to use the old, tired, 'Bill O'Reilly tactic' to deal with charges of bias. How utterly unoriginal.

Permalink | Chron Bias

August 23, 2004, 07:00 AM

Influential Democrat supports the President:

By Terry Bohannon

In a hard-hitting article, WorldNetDaily reports that former New York City Mayor Edward Koch will vote for President Bush. This may come as a surprise to many, but it must be put into perspective that we are living in a post-9/11 world. The importance of national security and leadership in the prevention of terrorism have led many to the same conclusions as Koch:
“While I don't agree with Bush on a single domestic issue, they are all trumped by the issue of terrorism, where he has enunciated the Bush Doctrine and proven his ability to fight this war. . . . The Democratic Party just doesn't have the stomach to go after terrorists.”
He continued to say:
“As long as Kennedy and Robert Byrd are considered major leaders of the Democratic Party, and while we're seeing radical candidates like Howard Dean, whose radical-left supporters have been described by the press as 'Deaniacs,' the Democratic Party will be limited in its ability to serve the country well in times of crisis and war like we face now.”
Perhaps as Nov. 2nd comes closer, we will see more Democrats like Ed Koch and Sen. Zell Miller come to support President Bush in his bid to stay in office four more years.

Permalink | News and Views

August 22, 2004, 08:00 PM

Chron gets cheeky with fashion, surgery

By Matt Bramanti

According to this Seattle Post-Intelligencer story from Aug. 20, “modesty is back” in women's fashion. Less cleavage, more coverage:
Baggy shapes are being replaced with well-cut designs worn closer to the body. Look for jeans and slacks with a higher rise — a longer zipper in front, more coverage in the rear, for example. Shirts and tops will be longer, or if tops are layered, at least one layer will cover skin. Some shirts are even tucked-in and belted — a look that hasn't been considered a fashion statement for years.
But in Sunday's Chronicle, we're told that the newest rage in plastic surgery is, you guessed it, buttock augmentation:
Nevertheless, American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery statistics show a dramatic increase in the number of people shelling out thousands of dollars for butt-augmentation surgery. Some 3,885 procedures were performed in 2003, up 533 percent from the 614 performed the year before. Because buttock augmentation is so new, the society did not keep statistics prior to 2002. Dr. Leroy Young of St. Louis performs the procedure, teaches it to other doctors and chairs a committee on emerging trends for the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. He said butt implants are this year's “it” surgery. (snip) “J.Lo is so in, and the fashion sets it too,” [surgeon Anthony] Nikko said. “You see low-cut, tight jeans. The fashion trend sets it in Hollywood.”
So is low-cut in or out? Can we all get on the same page here, before I run out to get silicone gel pumped into my hind end? Inquiring, vain fashionistas want to know!

Permalink | Miscellaneous

August 22, 2004, 11:43 AM

Re: Robison on school spending

By Owen Courrèges

As Matt Bramanti notes below, Clay Robison has published a truly insipid editorial today calling for increased public school spending in the state of Texas. Now Robison's position may have merit, it is true, but his reasoning is simply God-awful, even for the Chronicle. Let's take this line, for example:
In 2001, Texas was 34th among the states in the amount of money it spent ($6,384) per pupil in public schools, which may help explain why we were 47th in average Scholastic Achievement Test scores that year.
Well, this would seem to be a problem — if SAT scores were a sound basis for ranking states. In truth, there it absolutely no statistical basis for using SAT scores as to rank the educational quality of individual states. For this very reason the College Board, which administers the SAT, discourages the use of the SAT for rankings:
The College Board strongly discourages the comparison or ranking of states on the basis of SAT scores.
Studies done on SAT scores have shown the total lack of value the SAT has in ranking states. Specifically, a Ball State University study called the SAT rankings “worse than meaningless:”
Ranking states according to their SAT averages is “worse than meaningless,” warn two Ball State University education experts who have researched the differences between states. [...] They found the larger the percentage of students taking the SAT in a state, the lower the average SAT. In the 10 states with the highest SAT scores, an average of 8 percent of their high school students took the SAT, while 69 percent of students took the test in the 10 lowest scoring states. Also, the lowest 10 states had twice as many high school juniors taking the test and 14 times as many SAT takers overall. “The states with the highest SAT scores and lowest percentage of SAT takers tend to be testing mostly their best and brightest,” [Ball State researcher Greg] Marchant said. “There is more diversity in the ability of test takers that come from the lower scoring states. In the top scoring states, twice as many test takers come from the top 10 percent of their class. Test takers from lower scoring states represent a far greater range of both class rank and grade-point average.” The more a state's education system works to increase college attendance for students who have traditionally not pursued higher education, the lower the state's average SAT scores are likely to be, Marchant added.
Given this data, just where the heck does Robison get off criticizing the state of Texas education based on SAT scores? Oh, and this might be nit picking, but Robison errs when he calls the SAT the “Scholastic Achievement Test.” For the past 11 years, the SAT has stood for absolutely nothing. It is no longer held to be an acronym, ostensibly because the College Board doesn't want to say that it actually measures scholastic aptitude (the original acronym) or achievement (the later acronym). But for Robison, I suppose, even the most flawed reasoning can justify demands for the legislature to spend more money. That's liberalism in a nutshell.

Permalink | Noxious Chron Columnists

August 22, 2004, 11:32 AM

Now we're cooking with gas

By Matt Bramanti

Sunday's business section features an interesting article about converting natural gas to liquid fuel.
But if converted to liquid fuels, there is enough stranded natural gas in the world to produce 10.5 trillion gallons of fuels such as diesel and jet fuel. Put another way, that's like discovering another Saudi Arabia. The game-changing technology that can convert natural gas to other fuels is called gas-to-liquids, or GTL for short. Several of the world's heavyweight energy companies, including Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch-Shell Group of Companies, are set to put this to the test on a grand scale in the Middle East. Unlike diesel refined from crude oil, diesel manufactured from natural gas has no detectable sulfur and almost no particulates, both major causes of air pollution.
The growth of efficient, cleaner natural gas-based energy is a big development, and it's just going to get bigger. It's also fun to point out to your Chicken Little liberal friends when they rant that “peak oil” is just around the corner.

Permalink | News and Views - Texas

August 22, 2004, 11:10 AM

Robison to Legislature: Spend more money!

By Matt Bramanti

I've always thought of myself as a reasonable person, but apparently Texans like me who don't like pouring money into failing government programs are “stingy and shortsighted.” So says Clay Robison, who heads the Chronicle's Austin bureau. He pays particular attention to per-pupil student spending, implying that it's directly tied to students' success:
In 2001, Texas was 34th among the states in the amount of money it spent ($6,384) per pupil in public schools, which may help explain why we were 47th in average Scholastic Achievement Test scores that year. After last year's belt-tightening, there's no reason to think that the expenditure ranking has improved. The main reason Texas is among the bottom half of the states in per-student spending is because Texas is near the bottom of the entire list in state tax collections per person (49th in 2000). The main reason Texas is not dead last in per-student spending is because the state has steadily shifted most of the public school costs to local property taxes. Texas was 16th in the amount of property taxes collected per person in 1999, and the largest portion of property tax revenue in Texas goes to the schools.
Now let's take a serious look at this. First of all, 34th place isn't exactly scraping the bottom of the barrel. In fact, it's closer to the middle than it is to the end. With spending near the middle of the range, why is performance so low? Could it be that throwing money at a problem doesn't solve it? Could it be that the schools aren't making the most of our tax dollars? Let's look at the research. According to the Heartland Institute, Catholic schools spend far less per student than their public counterparts, and achieve far more:
Despite spending less than half what the public schools spend on educating children in poverty, Catholic schools in three New York boroughs outperform the public schools in both reading and mathematics at every grade level, according to a recent study we conducted of per-student cost and achievement of Catholic and public elementary schools in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the Bronx. The direct per-pupil costs for general education students are $5,124 in the public schools and $2,399 in Catholic schools—46.8 percent of the public school cost. Although both Catholic and public schools achieve less as the percentage of their enrollment represented by children in poverty increases, Catholic schools substantially mitigate the effect of poverty, so that rising levels of poverty produce far smaller negative effects on learning in Catholic than public schools.
It's not the money, Clay. The problem with our public schools won't be solved by writing a check. It'll be solved by parents who instill personal responsibility in their kids from an early age, and that's tough to do when the family is on the dole.

Permalink | Noxious Chron Columnists

August 22, 2004, 03:30 AM

Chron: U.S. science slumping

By Matt Bramanti

Eric Berger pens this piece, alleging that scientific efforts in the United States are in trouble. Why? Because of the Bush administration's policies, of course!
Although President Bush's science adviser, John Marburger, dismisses as “ridiculous” the notion that America could lose its scientific prestige, scientists and policy-makers lay the blame in several areas: the drying well of foreign students, limited stem cell research and less federal funding for basic science research. Since the visa restrictions were tightened in 2002, foreign-student applications to U.S. universities have fallen from 400,000 a year to 325,000, a 19 percent drop. Graduate school applications nationally are down even further, by up to 40 percent, said Jordan Konisky, vice provost for research and graduate studies at Rice University.
The implication seems to be that unless we open the borders, clone human embryos for sport, and dump billions of tax dollars into science, John Q. Public will be living in the dark ages pretty soon. I doubt it. The story glosses over the fact that America's position at the forefront of science is largely due to technological advances that were necessary to win the Cold War. Houston didn't become Space City just for kicks; we did it to beat the Russians. Military research has brought us a host of practical advancements, including GPS navigation, improved wound treatment, bulletproof vests and impact-resistant glass, and secure communications. But that's all lost on some people:
Another problem, said Albert Teich, director of science and policy programs at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, is an increasing focus in the federal budget on applied military and homeland security research. Excluding a modest increase for biomedical research, nondefense research and development in the proposed 2005 federal budget would decline 2.1 percent, according to the association.
The AAAS, incidentally, has opposed efforts to teach intelligent design alongside evolution in public schools, and has supported the cloning and destruction of human embryos for research.

Permalink | Chron Bias

August 21, 2004, 07:11 PM

Action in Najaf

By Terry Bohannon

Good news from Najaf. According to a Reuters press release, U.S. Forces are taking action:
U.S. forces launched a fresh assault on Shi'ite rebels in the embattled Iraqi city of Najaf on Sunday after talks on transferring control of the mosque at the center of a two-week siege ran into difficulties. A U.S. military AC-130 gunship unleashed rapid cannon and howitzer fire on positions held by rebels loyal to radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, a Reuters witness said.

Permalink | News and Views

August 21, 2004, 10:05 AM

A challenge to the Chronicle: Find the truth about Kerry

By M. Wildes

I must congratulate the Chronicle’s reader representative, James T. Campbell, for his editorial piece Monday. In which he admitted that at Kerry's speech at the UNITY conference, the crowd's partisan cheering of Kerry “affirms what conservatives say about the 'liberal media.'” Campbell deserves credit for describing how journalists gave Kerry a standing ovation while during the President's speech they snickered. I must also acknowledge an editorial in Tuesday’s paper by Lee Cearnal, a special projects editor for the Chronicle, where he asks his colleagues why they are not questioning Kerry’s military record. This was an excellent piece. Now, let me extend a challenge to the Chronicle to win that coveted Pulitzer Prize. Go where no Chronicle has gone before. To be the first to investigate the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth’s claims, as deeply and honestly as they can. Be a leader. Expose the truth. Expose it all: Kerry’s lies, and Swift Veteran’s lies. Endorse the Swift Boat Vets’ claims with legitimate research. Do not simply publish other newspaper’s articles that only attack the Swift Veteran’s stories, as you did with Thursday’s Washington Post story, while ignoring inconsistencies by Kerry. You must resist the temptation to join the conspiracy theorists to see the veterans as an arm of the Bush administration. Do not blindly publish the work of newspapers that ignore the Democrat Party’s connections to Moveon.org and George Soros (Al Gore). Do not publish stories that are free advertising for Michael Moore while ignoring the top selling “Unfit for Command.” If, in the end, you do an honest search for the truth and the Swift Boat Vets are frauds, then I will stand corrected. I do not know what a “special projects editor” is, but perhaps this could be the grandest of all special projects for Mr. Cearnal and the Chronicle.

Permalink | Media Watch

August 20, 2004, 10:08 PM

Decisions, Decisions

By Matt Forge

Permalink | Political Cartoons

August 20, 2004, 03:02 PM

MetroRail assists in daring jailbreak

By Owen Courrèges

Well, that title might be a bit misleading. The truth is that a prison van out of Tarrant County collided with a light rail train after making an illegal right turn onto Main Street (yes, even some right turns are now illegal along Main). Here's the story:
Seven people were injured today when a Tarrant County Sheriff's office van transporting prisoners collided with a MetroRail train downtown. The wreck occurred shortly before noon at the intersection of Main and Commerce streets. The van, southbound on the Main Street bridge, made an illegal right turn on red and struck the train, said Metropolitan Transit Authority Police Chief Tom Lambert. An sign posted at the intersection flashes a “no right turn over tracks” icon when the signal is red. Five people in the sheriff's van — three prisoners and two deputies — suffered minor injuries and were taken to area hospitals by three ambulances. Two train passengers were hurt but declined medical treatment.
These collisions are becoming comical. The train has hit an armored car, a Union Pacific truck, a man in a wheelchair, and now a prison van. What next? A tank? Another train? The possibilities are endless!

Permalink | Houston's Light Rail

August 20, 2004, 02:28 PM

Kerry 2004 calls for Book Ban

By The Staff

According to the Drudge Report:
The Kerry campaign calls on a publisher to 'withdraw book' written by group of veterans, claiming veterans are lying about Kerry's service in Vietnam and operating as a front organization for Bush. Kerry campaign has told Salon.com that the publisher of UNFIT FOR COMMAND is 'retailing a hoax'... 'No publisher should want to be selling books with proven falsehoods in them,' Kerry campaign spokesman Chad Clanton tells the online mag... Developing...
A book comes out attacking John Kerry, they panic and try their best to stop it. How they have reacted can be contrasted to President Bush's Campaign. President Bush, his Administration, and even his policies have been viciously attacked with volumes of books, 'documentaries', music tours, and in as many ways as the left conceives, yet he remains vigilant.

Permalink | News and Views

August 20, 2004, 01:14 PM

Grilling Banned in Houston (Satire)

By Matt Forge

Houston (CB) — In a stunning vote, the city's City Council has banned grilling food in workplaces, bars, restaurants and Reliant Stadium's parking lot. The measure was cooked up by councilperson Shelley Sekula-Gibbs and unanimously passed in an after-lunch vote. Mrs. Sekula-Gibbs offered some details on the new law. “The ban would be on grilling in public places — anyplace that conducts business and where people would gather, not in residences. Grilling and its smoke are dangerous for all Houstonians.” She then went on to quote this web site, “In the Los Angeles area (California, USA), 30,000 fast food joints belch out 19 tons of polluting organic compounds per day, as much as all the region's big oil refineries. To this brew, they add another 13.7 tons of smoke particles (very tiny stuff like dust) - nine times more than all the buses in the same area. These particles cause Los Angeles's famous haze and probably add to breathing problems (like asthma) and cancers. Char-grilling is the worst of all for this type of pollution. Fat drips off burgers onto the flames where it burns, spewing out clouds of particles and organic compounds.” Houston is the only major American city that has banned grilling in both eateries and workplaces, although many Houston businesses had previously voluntarily limited grilling to shrimp and other fish-like critters. (The above story, though based on actual events, is satire or parody. It is meant for entertainment only and is NOT true.)

Permalink | Humor

August 20, 2004, 11:20 AM

Research puts another hole in Darwinism:

By Terry Bohannon

Peter Gordon of Columbia University has published research that weakens the case supporting natural evolution. He studied how the linguistic limitations of a small tribe in the Amazon affects how they perform simple tasks. A Reuters press release describes the Piraha that Gordon studied:
There are only about 200 Piraha and they live in groups of 10 to 20. Their words for numbers appear limited to “one,” “two” and “many,” and the word for “one” sometimes means a small quantity. “There is no word for 'number', pronouns do not encode number (e.g., 'he' and 'they' are the same word), and most of the standard quantifiers like 'more,' 'several,' 'all,' 'each' do not exist,” Gordon wrote.
With their limited language, as Reuters quotes Gordon, the Pirahas could match two or three items accurately, “but performance deteriorated considerably beyond that up to 8 to 10 items.” Gordon's research showed that the Pirahas clearly understood what was expected of them, but failed at doing so from the limitations of their language. If that is true, and our language immediately determines (or limits) the way we see the world, the idea of natural evolution seems impossible. Physically, it is argued and unquestionably held to be true by most modern scientists, our species is supposed to have evolved from simpler life. How this happens, nobody has answered fully, but the argument is that from the beginning of life on earth, single celled life evolved to multiple-celled life, evolving to a type of fish to a type of land animal, and eventually to us, to humans. The question of our intellect remains; how it 'evolved' cannot be answered. Our rationale seems to be 'above' a natural physical process. In answering this question, the evolutionist will get no help by looking at languages. Ancient Greek and Latin, for example, are far more complicated than its modern counterparts, as Louis Markos says in his book, “Lewis Agonistes”. He says in “the last century of linguistic studies”, it has been suggested that “simplistic languages branch out and evolve into higher-order languages.” When, in fact, “modern languages are simpler than those spoken by the ancients”, such theories don't seem to hold much weight. When Peter Gordon's findings are taken into consideration, that languages limit our understanding of the world, natural evolution seems a little less likely. One day, perhaps, instead of looking to the bottom of life as our progenitor, more scientists will look upwards to He who breathed life into us (Gen. 2:7).

Permalink | Miscellaneous

August 20, 2004, 11:00 AM

Turning 249 into a tollway

By Owen Courrèges

I usually support toll roads, but this is one effort I can't bring myself to get behind (from KHOU):
Could it be the road of the future? There’s been an ongoing debate over turning one highway into a toll way. The state may have no choice but to make drivers pay as they go. It's no secret that Eddie Amaya wonders how much longer he can afford to work in Tomball. “If I have to spend more money, maybe I'll have to get something closer to my house,” says Eddie Amaya, Qtrco employee. Amaya already spends $120 a month in tolls on the Beltway. The Texas Department of Transportation has proposed turning a busy part of Highway 249 into a toll way. The section is an eight-mile stretch between Beltway 8 and Spring Cypress.
My family actually lives near 249, so I'm familiar with the freeway. However, I've never actually viewed 249 as having a major congestion problem. Compared with I-45 or I-10, its problems seem fairly minor. Given this, I have difficulty understanding why 249 would be such a prime candidate for a toll road.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

August 20, 2004, 09:01 AM

Today's Features

By Mona Lugay

Make sure you view our Features section for daily commentary on entertainment “wonders and blunders,” the sports world's best and worst shots, local high school sports updates, the great outdoors, a little miscellaneous humor and much more. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston displays more than just traditional paintings and sculptures, precious gems tops this year’s exhibit. Jeremy Weidenhof explains more. Teaching children to fish can be a memorable and rewarding experience for both the child and the mentor. Greg Berlocher gives you tips on how to keep it fun and interesting.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

August 20, 2004, 07:50 AM

Metro = Racist?

By Owen Courrèges

For an agency that prides itself on being so progressive, Metro certainly has some odd critics from the left (from KHOU):
A group of former Metro employees accused the company of discrimination and held a protest in the 1200 block of Louisiana on Thursday. The protesters said they have a long list of complaints, including their statement that Metro doesn't have enough Hispanic drivers or workers. One of the protesters even has a discrimination suit against Metro pending in federal court. They also claim that Metro retaliates against those who speak out.
This is yet another reason to dislike Metro. Isn't it high time we privatized their inefficient rumps?

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

August 20, 2004, 07:00 AM

Chron reader rep gets nasty

By Matt Bramanti

As you may recall, on Aug. 16, the Chronicle reprinted swaths of a Dallas Morning News story as its own. So I emailed the Chronicle's reader representative, James T. Campbell to ask him about it. His response last night wasn't very nice, as you can see:
Here's the deal, follow closely: The Westpark Tollway item publish on Monday was taken from the Associated Press, which got it from the Dallas Morning News. (Got it?) Since we subscribe to the AP and they pick up stories from us and the Dallas News, we don't always attribute stories as being from the wire. (Got it?) However, there was a case for attribution in this instance because it involved a local issue. (Got it?) Moreover, the tollway item was first slated to run on the Traffic & Transit page Aug. 9 but was held due to lack of space. If the implication of your email is that the item was plagiarized, that is not true.
I suppose that's a reasonable, if snippy, response. Too bad it completely glosses over the Chronicle's mistake. I don't understand Campbell's explanation for why the Chronicle prints AP stories without identifying them as such, but let's leave that aside. Furthermore, the Victoria Advocate and the Amarillo Globe News ran the story Aug. 2, but let's leave that aside as well. Campbell admits, in passing, that the story “was a case for attribution.” But attribution wasn't made. My Mirriam-Webster defines “plagiarize” as: “to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own” or “to use (another's production) without crediting the source.” Got it?

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

August 19, 2004, 11:13 PM

A Fair Trade...

By Matt Forge

Permalink | Political Cartoons

August 19, 2004, 12:08 PM

Kerry's Flop: in his words

By Terry Bohannon

On August 1, 2004, during ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, according to a transcript of the interview and the research of Rush Limbaugh's staff, Kerry 'perhapsed' an American withdrawal from Europe and Korea. Taking this in light of what we covered yesterday, where we quoted Kerry opposing Bush's plan to withdraw troops from Europe and Asia, his shift in thought shows that the Democratic nominee is not being honest with what he believes.
KERRY: I will have significant, enormous reduction in the level of troops. We will probably have a continued presence of some kind, certainly in the region. If the diplomacy that I believe can be put in place can work, I think we can significantly change the deployment of troops, not just there but elsewhere in the world. In the Korean peninsula perhaps, in Europe perhaps. There are great possibilities open to us. But this administration has had very little imagination, enormous sort of ideological fixation and, frankly, took its eye off the war against al Qaeda and the war on terror shifting it to Iraq at enormous cost to the American people and to the legitimacy of the war on terror.

Permalink | News and Views

August 19, 2004, 10:14 AM

Death row inmate stabs guard 13 times

By Owen Courrèges

This is yet more evidence that criminals kept in prison still pose a constant threat to innocent life. Violence in prison is disturbingly common (from ABC 13):
A Texas death row inmate stabbed a guard 13 times with a sharpened metal rod believed taken from a typewriter the inmate was allowed to use. A prison spokeswoman said the attack by Jorge Salinas happened Monday night as the inmate was being escorted back to his cell. [...] Salinas was condemned for the 2001 deaths of Geronimo Morales and his daughter — 21-month-old Leslie Ann Morales. The toddler was found still strapped in her car seat — dead from dehydration and exposure. Her father's body was later found in a citrus grove.
Thankfully, the guard is expected to recover. But honestly... Why is Jorge Salinas still among the living? Given the vile nature of his crime, together with his manifest propensity for violence, I'd prefer that his execution be stepped up.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

August 19, 2004, 09:38 AM

Today's Features

By Mona Lugay

Make sure you view our Features section for daily commentary on entertainment “wonders and blunders,” the sports world's best and worst shots, local high school sports updates, the great outdoors, a little miscellaneous humor and much more. Matt Malatesta takes us into a hopeful winning football season for Aldine High School, Bob Willems explains that before Michael Moore there was Tom Hayden, Michael Reagan says Democrats have double standards and Dan Patrick's Tahiti pictures bring us closer to paradise.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

August 19, 2004, 09:37 AM

John “Pancake” Kerry offends liberals

By Terry Bohannon

Flip Flopper

The leftist heavy hitters, Helen Thomas and Martin Schram have written articles lamenting Kerry's current position on Iraq. Helen Thomas is angry because Kerry “has made a colossal mistake by continuing to defend his October 2002 vote authorizing President Bush's invasion of Iraq.” She highlights Kerry's “weak fallback position”: his claim to “have planned things differently”, to have lined “up more European allies.” According to Helen Thomas, “Kerry has blown it big time.” Martin Schram shows similar anger towards Kerry. Verbosely, he says that Kerry “has no clearly defined conceptual framework that is the basis of what he thinks about the war on terror and the war in Iraq.” Without this framework, he argues, Kerry has been “unable to clearly and forthrightly answer even the simple question” of whether or not he would have voted for the resolution to go to war in Iraq. In response to that question, given to him at the Grand Canyon, he avoided the issue and said he would have voted for it since he believes “it's the right authority for a president to have.” Mr. Schram concludes that “Kerry gives another knee-jerk nuanced response. But all that the people want to hear is straight talk. [sic] From someone. Just once.” Ms. Thomas and Mr. Schram's columns give us a view of the hearts of many liberals. They're offended that Kerry supports his 2002 vote. They're probably annoyed that Kerry has been using his record in Vietnam as much of the ground off which he has based his campaign. Even if most liberals don't want to admit it, what really angers them is Kerry's indecisiveness. Laments from the left such as Helen Thomas' and Martin Schram's will only be louder and more frequent as Nov. 2 approaches. With all of his flip flops, perhaps Kerry should have applied at a local diner as a short order chef instead of running for president of the United States.

Permalink | Humor

August 19, 2004, 07:19 AM

Sekula-Gibbs pushes smoking ban for Houston

By Owen Courrèges

Frankly, I've never been a fan of Councilwoman Shelley Sekula-Gibbs. I personally think that she used up the name of her late husband, Slyvan Rodriguez, to achieve political office, dumping it like a worn out tire when it was no longer needed. In short, she strikes me as a cold, unfeeling opportunist. Thus is doesn't come as much surprise to me that Sekula-Gibbs would push reckless, left-wing legislation like a citywide smoking ban:
Councilwoman Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, the only physician on the City Council, is studying smoking ordinances in other cities with an eye toward proposing what would be Houston's first outright ban on smoking in workplaces, bars and restaurants. “The ban would be on smoking in public places — anyplace that conducts business and where people would gather, not in residences,” she said. “Smoking and secondhand smoke are dangerous for all Houstonians, and that's why we are looking to move forward.”
Memo to Sekula-Gibbs: A bar or restaurant is private property. If the owners want to allow smoking, and they profit from allowing it, then there's no reason for the city to step in. After all, if non-smokers object to the policy, they can always take their business elsewhere. And if enough non-smokers object, then bar and restaurant owners will ban smoking on their own without government intervention. Sekula-Gibbs, however, subscribes to this nanny-state mentality that demands we protect non-smokers from their own decisions by restricting property rights. It's frustrating that this woman calls herself a Republican.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

August 18, 2004, 08:28 PM

Olympic Clothing Supplier Apologizes For Sizing Mistake (Satire)

By Matt Forge

Athens (CB) — Athletic Uniforms R Us, the sports apparel outfitter for many teams in the Olympics, has been forced to publicly apologize for some of the teams' uniforms. It appears that most of the bikini-wearing athletes were mistakenly given swimsuits originally manufactured to fit ten-year-olds. “It's an outrage, I tell you,” said an Olympic Committee chairman who wished not to be identified. “They look totally ridiculous out there. And you would think it would boost our low attendance, but it hasn't. That makes it even worse.” The athletes have been complaining as well. Holly McPeak, the U.S. beach volleyball star, lamented, “I'm a thirty-five-year-old woman with my sweaty body rolling around in the sand trying to keep the ball from hitting the ground. The last thing I need is an undersized gritty crotch wedging up my nether regions and distracting me. I have, however, received quite a few marriage proposals from teenage Athenians. That can sure boost an older woman's ego.” Russian water polo player Maria Yaina told reporters through an interpreter, “I needed four people to help stuff me into this torture suit. And halfway through our last match I lost circulation in my legs and nearly drowned. We might as well be completely nude out there, at least then we'd have full body movement.” Upon translating this, the elderly interpreter fainted and was rushed to the hospital. But it's the male athletes who, obviously, are suffering the most. It has now been confirmed that the damage to all of the men in the diving competitions who have seen their voices' pitch raised higher than that of female gymnasts is permanent. And most of them will never be able to father children. All of this has prompted the uniform supplier's president to beg pardon at a press conference for the snafu, which he blamed on a shipping error. The lost adult-sized bikinis have since been discovered at a GapKids store in Cleveland. (The above story, though based on actual events, is satire or parody. It is meant for entertainment only and is NOT true.)

Permalink | Humor

August 18, 2004, 01:16 PM

Short Order Flip Flops

By Terry Bohannon

During Kerry's speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, he said that he would bring our troops home.
“I know what we have to do in Iraq. We need a President who has the credibility to bring our allies to our side because that's the right way to get the job done in Iraq and bring our troops home.”
But then he attacked President Bush for announcing a plan we highlighted here to withdraw troops from Asia and Europe.
“Finally, I want to say something about the plan that the President announced on Monday to withdraw 70,000 troops from Asia and Europe. Nobody wants to bring troops home more than those of us who have fought in foreign wars. But it needs to be done at the right time and in a sensible way. This is not that time or that way. ”Let's be clear: the President's vaguely stated plan does not strengthen our hand in the war against terror. And in no way relieves the strain on our overextended military personnel. And this hastily announced plan raises more doubts about our intentions and our commitments than it provides real answers."
Kerry wants to withdraw our troops in Iraq. Perhaps with the expectation that other countries would step up to the plate and bring Iraq to freedom. He then attacks the President for a plan to bring civilians and troops under the U.S. European Command and the U.S. Pacific Command home. This sounds like another flip flop from Kerry. In that second quotation from Kerry, we can easily take out the first sentence and insert what we quoted first; this shows the logical inconstancy in his speech. Such a combination would read as:
We need a President who has the credibility to bring our allies to our side because that's the right way to get the job done in Iraq and bring our troops home. Nobody wants to bring troops home more than those of us who have fought in foreign wars. But it needs to be done at the right time and in a sensible way. This is not that time or that way.
Someone as indecisive and inconsistent as Kerry will do far more harm than good as President of the United States.

Permalink | News and Views

August 18, 2004, 10:30 AM

Chron's “olds” from DMN

By Matt Bramanti

On Aug. 1, the Dallas Morning News ran this story, which we covered here, about drivers who rip off trips on the Westpark Tollway by driving without the required EZ Tag:
In the first two months, motorists violated the EZ Tag requirement 199,268 times. That's 11.3 percent of more than 1.7 million trips during that period. Not all were stopped, but a backup license-plate snapshot taken by the toll reader will allow them to be tracked down and billed.
On Monday of this week, the Chronicle ran this story. Note the similarities (emphasis added):
In May and June, drivers without EZ Tags passed through the sensors 199,268 times. That amounts to roughly 11 percent of the more than 1.7 million trips made during that period. Not all the violators were stopped by deputy constables. A license-plate snapshot taken by the toll reader will allow them to be tracked down and billed by the Harris County Toll Road Authority.
This shoddy journalism raises a few questions: 1. Why is the Chronicle stealing copy word for word from its Big D counterpart? 2. Why does the Chronicle claim that this stolen text is “copyrighted by Houston Chronicle Publishing Company Division, Hearst Newspapers Partnership, L.P., or its news and feature syndicates and wire services,” without giving credit where it's due? 3. Why did it take two weeks to rip something off from Dallas? These anti-car guys could have literally ridden a bicycle to Dallas, picked up a copy of the Morning News, and ridden back to 801 Texas Avenue in just a couple of days. I'd like answers on these, so I've emailed the Chron's reader representative, James T. Campbell, for answers. We'll keep you posted.

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

August 18, 2004, 10:00 AM

The fruit of the poison tree

By Owen Courrèges

I am almost always amazed when people elect to remain ignorant. However, it is somewhat less surprising when found in the pages of the Chronicle, as in their latest staff editorial regarding embyonic stem cell research:
All embryonic stem cell lines come from embryos created in fertility clinics so that older women and those with physical impediments can have children. Embryos not used for that purpose are routinely discarded. There is no reason other than electoral politics why those doomed cells should not be used responsibly in the pursuit of medical progress.
The Chronicle's argument, clearly, holds that since the embryos will be discarded anyway, using them for medical research is undoubtedly a moral good. Accordingly, those who oppose stem cell research are merely playing to 'electorial politics' to the detriment of the public good. Alas, the Chronicle willfully ignores a single common objection — that of 'the fruit of the poison tree.' 'The fruit of the poison tree' argument holds that by partaking of the fruits of evil, we blacken ourselves with the said evil. This is why many medical researchers refuse to use data collected by Doctor Josef Megele, the notorious Nazi physician who performed hideous experiments on Jews held in concentration camps. Even though the data might be useful, they find it morally dubious for humanity to profit from the Holocaust. Our legal system also holds to this general premise. The exclusionary rule (which I admittedly oppose) holds that evidence tainted by illegal searches must be excluded at trial, lest the state profit from an immoral search. This is done regardless of whether or not the evidence collected is actually dubious. And by the same token, many pro-lifers hold that society should not profit from the deaths of innocent human beings, even if they are mere embryos at a fertility clinic. This has nothing to do with electoral politics; it is a philosophically defensible position. The Chronicle ignores it, however, because they'd rather launch ad hominem attacks and battle strawmen that debate the real issues at stake. That, in my mind, makes them pathetic.

Permalink | Chron Bias

August 18, 2004, 09:30 AM

God's little corner of the world

By Dan Patrick

If you listened to my show yesterday, I talked about my trip to Tahiti and its surrounding islands. I have been blessed that I have been able to travel much of the world in my life time. It is a blessing. I have learned more through my travels around the world, by simply talking to people, than I ever learned from books, college courses, newspapers or television. I love talking to the average folks on the street. It always astonishes me how much all of us have in common, no matter where we call home. People around the world simply want to live in freedom, provide for their family and live in peace. The family is always the centerpiece of everyone’s conversation. For the last two weeks I explored the islands of French Polynesia and New Zealand. I have been to most of the major island groups in the world; the islands of the Caribbean, the islands of the Mediterranean and the islands of Hawaii. I had read about Tahiti and saw movies that were filmed there. It was an exotic far off place that I had always wanted to go.
Beautiful children in a beautiful land.
Morning in Paradise
To see more of God's Beautiful Creation click here Tahiti is a far off place. It takes a full day to get there. It is over eight hours flying time out of L.A. That is the time it takes to fly from New York to L.A. and back again. It is a long way from Texas. It's a long way from anywhere. The Pacific Ocean is vast. Once in Tahiti you are still six hours flying time from Australia. When you stand on the small islands that make up that part of the world, you feel like you have traveled to the edge of the earth. I wasn’t quite sure what I would find in the islands. I had done my homework, but nothing prepared me for the paradise I found. The islands may be the last place on earth where we can see God’s work as he intended it to be, unspoiled by man. It may be the last place on earth that people live by God’s Word. It may not be heaven, but it must be close. Tahiti is the largest island-150,000 people. Tahiti is beautiful, but it is the hopping off point to go to all of the other islands that are truly unspoiled in their beauty. The outer islands like Bora Bora, (which author James Michener called the most beautiful island in the world) and Moorea, where the movie South Pacific was filmed, are very small with populations of 4 to 10,000 people. These islands have few cars, no traffic lights, one road, a city center about the size of Old Town Spring and are populated by the most gentle and happy people I have ever met in all of my travels. They believe they live in paradise. Just over 20 years ago, most of these islands had little electricity. Today everyone has a satellite dish to see what is going on in the world. As one islander told me, the world is going mad. We know he is right. The family is the most important part of the island culture. They fish together for dinner. They gather fruit together. They sail off to tiny islands just off shore-called Motus-each weekend for a day at the beach. There are no wild animals or snakes on the islands. Unlike the Caribbean islands, there is virtually no poverty or crime. The outer islands are spotless. It is unbelievable how much pride the islanders take in their precious land. They know they live in God’s handiwork and they take care of the land and the sea. They literally rake the dirt in the streets. There are no lawyers. As one islander told me, if we have a problem with someone we just sit down with them and work it out. It is expensive to live there. Most islands have only one small store that sell everything from food to school supplies to furniture, The selection is small and if they need something, they have a family member travel by ferry to the island of Tahiti to get it. Tahiti only has one store also, but it’s bigger. A three dollar pack of M&Ms that you can buy in the states is eight dollars. A television you could buy at Best Buy for 150-dollars, will cost 500-dollars. Cigarettes are about 40-dollars a carton. (Most islanders role their own) However, as the islanders see it, they don’t need much money. The fish and fruit are free. They wear flip flops almost everywhere, or go barefooted; their homes are nice, but small and require little in furnishing. Most own a small boat and a scooter to get around. They are some of the richest people I have ever met, yet they have so little of the things that the world craves. They are a Christian nation. Seventy-percent are Protestant and the remaining are Mormon or Catholic. They go to church every Sunday and live by the greatest commandment of loving each other. The people are quiet and reserved. They are friendly, but they don’t go out of their way to talk to you or sell you anything, as many do in other tourist locations. When you travel to the islands it is as if you are just visiting friends. You just fit in to their way of life. It gets dark early, around 6 p.m. much of the year. There isn’t anything to do at night, except watch the satellite. There are very few restaurants and little nightlife. The gentle trade wind breezes that blow threw the open windows, or through no windows at all, put you to sleep by 9. There are some islands with major hotels. Bora Bora has the most hotels, other islands have just one or two simple places to stay. The major hotels feature the bungalow built over the water. Many of these huts have glass floors. You are surrounded by water. You step down your steps and slip into the clear waters of the lagoon. The lagoons are what make these islands so unique. Each island was formed by a volcano. The outer rim sits between 1000 and 5000 feet from the main body of the island, creating a lagoon. Fresh water flows down the mountains and into the sea. That water causes a break in the reed and creates a natural channel for each island. You can step off of the beach of the main island and walk in waist deep water for hundreds of yards. In some places the lagoon drops off to over a 100 feet. The main island is surrounded by the small Motu islands. The waves crash in on these islands and the outer reef, but never touch the main island body. It is a remarkable site. There is nothing like it in the world The lagoons create a wide variety of some of the most beautiful shades of blue you will ever see. However, as beautiful as the islands are with their coral reefs, barrier islands, blue lagoons and lush interiors, it is the children of the islands that take your breath away. They are innocent of what the world has become outside of their paradise. They smile 4 hours a day and play in God’s garden. Most children decide to stay on the island as they grow older. They may go away to college, but most come back. Once you have lived in paradise, there is no other place in the world that they could ever find that would make them happier. Writer’s Note: If you are inspired to go to Tahiti: Princess Cruise has a ship that sails the islands for 10 days. There is a Wind Star sailing ship and another cruise ship that sails the islands for seven-day trips. You really need 10 days and a few days before or after in Moorea or Bora Bora at one of the bungalows. The main hotels can be expensive, so shop for the best deals. This is not a trip for kids, but a perfect place for honeymooners and folks who just want to get away from the world and see maybe just how God wanted us all to live.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

August 18, 2004, 09:23 AM

MetroRail’s platforms…

By Clay Moore

If you plan to ride MetroRail’s 7.5 mile tram, you must first board at a MetroRail platform. Fourteen of these stations have been in service since Jan 1st, 2004. A recent look at the platforms finds problems. There are concrete sections crumbling immediately next to the tracks. Apparently intended to help pedestrians walk across and on rails, a half dozen damaged concrete sections were readily apparent without looking too hard. After only a year’s service, such damage may indicate poor railbed design or construction, as you can see:
Poor Construction
Inherent in all elevated platforms are safety risks. Someone whose judgment or balance is impaired by medication, alcohol, blood sugar issues, or common clumsiness can easily trip and fall. They will fall nearly two feet, landing on concrete and steel, or worse if a tram is approaching. There has been at least one serious injury so far. The safety risk is obvious with:
Dangerous Platform
The handicapped access problem was noted before MetroRail went into service. Not only do quieter trams and platform edges pose risks, the handicapped also lost bus drivers who sat at the bus entrance and could monitor the impaired rider’s progress, a common practice at the Medical Center. MetroRail’s website ignores handicapped services, but Metro’s website does mention METROlift, a taxpayer funded handicapped van service that avoids using MetroRail facilities. The platforms are not clean. While they’re not as bad as New York, Atlanta’s MARTA, or Denver, that is largely due to the lack of privacy on the platforms. That will change if Metro gets a subway. Houston often gets the rap of being a dirty city, and Metro’s platforms don’t help matters. The filth and garbage littering the tracks, especially at platforms is a reminder of why sanitation departments exist. MetroRail is determined to stay. Prepare for downtime when the crumbling concrete sections are finally repaired. When drinking or prone to falling down stay off of the platforms. If you can’t see or hear well, bring a friend along who can. Prepare to explain to your guests why it is so dirty. And above all, get ready to pay for it.

Permalink | Houston's Light Rail

August 18, 2004, 09:02 AM

PETA pulls Galveston billboard

By Owen Courrèges

We all know that PETA is no longer a serious interest group. They've long since devolved into a gaggle of radicals pandering for shock value. Still, even the billboard companies they hire have bow to public pressure at some point (from ABC 13):
A billboard company has caved in to public pressure over a billboard paid for by the animal rights activist group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The PETA sign on I-45 in Galveston shows a dog with a fish hook in its mouth. It's meant to get people to stop fishing. The billboard company received so many negative complaints about the sign that it decided to pull it down.
This really makes you wonder why anyone at PETA ever thought that this billboard would actually change some minds. Are vegans really this out of touch with the mainstream of society?

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

August 18, 2004, 09:01 AM

Today's Features

By Mona Lugay

Make sure you view our Features section for daily commentary on entertainment “wonders and blunders,” the sports world's best and worst shots, local high school sports updates, the great outdoors, a little miscellaneous humor and much more. Dick Morris explains why he thinks Osama will decide this year's presidential election and Barry Chambers remembers the “classics” he almost missed seeing.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

August 18, 2004, 08:12 AM

New poll

By The Staff

We have a new poll question up today: “Did Tom DeLay flip-flop on light rail?” You can answer this question here. The results from our previous poll are here. Remember to read Phil Magness's post on this subject before responding to the poll question. After all, we wouldn't want you good folks to go into this trusting the Chronicle. :)

Permalink | Staff Notes

August 18, 2004, 02:46 AM

Did DeLay really flip flop on Metrorail?

By Phil Magness

The Houston Chronicle's tendency to inaccurately portray U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay should come as no surprise to regular readers of Chronically Biased. Well, the paper that once drafted a secret internal memorandum urging a journalistic smear campaign against the Republican congressman appears to be at it again, only this time the deception is a bit more complex. If one were to go by several recent Chronicle headlines, the information suggested would indicate that DeLay, a one-time staunch rail opponent whose nefarious dealings with the evil unnamed highway contracters incited him to deprive the poor underprivileged Metropolitan Transit Authority of federal funds, has suddenly done an about face on the issue, perhaps even seeing the light. “DELAY IS CHANGING HIS TUNE ON MASS TRANSIT PLANS” reads a Chronicle headline from last Saturday, as if to imply an about face. Many of the “viewpoints” letters chosen for today's issue echo these sentiments. Says one letter from Karen Byrd:
Now that he is down in the polls and facing two strong candidates in District 22, he suddenly embraces the Metropolitan Transit Authority. And yet Republicans call John Kerry a flip-flopper!
Two “strong” candidates? Please. DeLay represents one of the most reliably Republican districts in the nation, leaving only long shot chances for Democrat Richard Morrison and Independent perrenial candidate Michael Fjetland. And speaking of Fjetland, the Chronicle also allowed him to echo their headline while neglecting to inform us of his candidacy:
U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay is doing his usual pre-election “I like rail” dance, which will change if he's re-elected. He did the same thing in the prior two campaigns. He'd make noises for rail until he won the primary, then go back to the delay game. What's really happening is that he's polling under 49 percent and getting desperate.
I suppose Michael would know. He's run against DeLay in the last two elections, normally polling somewhere in the 16% range. Regardless of how one goes about crunching the District 22 election numbers, an issue raised by the Chron's recent headline and running commentary on DeLay needs to be addressed: Did Tom DeLay really flip flop on Metrorail? Some who read this article might be inclined to answer that question somewhere along these lines: “Why of course he did! Didn't you hear about that recent speech? DeLay has done everything in his power for years to block Metrorail but now he's saying he'll work with them! That's a flip flop!” And if we both based our answer to the question solely on what the Chronicle reported last Saturday I wouldn't contradict you. But let's take a look at what the Chronicle and DeLay's many critics to whom they are all too happy to give a voice left out. First off, let's clarify exactly what position Tom DeLay supposedly abandoned and “flip flopped” away from. Based on everything I've read about his position, Tom DeLay has NEVER been opposed to all forms of commuter transit or all projects involving Metro. His position on Metrorail from day one, as I understand it, has always rested upon two perfectly reasonable and logically grounded stipulations that may be summarized as follows: (1) Light rail must be voted on and approved by the public at large. (2) Light rail's effectiveness must be factually weighed against other mobility options and considered for its role in the greater scheme of regional transportation Of this second stipulation, I have always interpreted it to mean the conscious consideration of such simple and reasonable factors as the construction pricetag, cost-benefit comparisons, and statistical performance comparisons among other things. One need not take my word for it however, as DeLay himself outlined these same stipulations in great detail four years ago, citing multiple statistics for his argument, which he then summarized in these terms:
Major decisions, such as whether to build a light-rail system, should be decided by the whole community. As I have made clear publicly and privately, several things must happen before I will support light rail for Houston. Houston needs to gather the facts by commissioning a regional congestion study and then determine potential solutions in the form of a regional mobility plan. And Houstonians must vote for themselves if they want their tax dollars going to a regional light-rail system or to other road-based mobility solutions. When we have all the facts and a full understanding about exactly how this proposal will alleviate chronic congestion problems, then Houstonians can make an educated decision.
Even the most virulent DeLay basher must concede that his “old” position does not exclude all forms of mass transit and all programs involving METRO. In fact it is a perfectly down-to-earth and consistent position for anyone to take. DeLay's position, as plainly stated above, is probably not enough for the METRO-sexual Houston Chronicle, but even they lack the excuse of ignorance over where he stood. That passage I just excerpted was printed in the Chronicle's viewpoints section on April 22, 2000. Turning next to DeLay's alleged change of heart last weekend, a determination should now be made as to what exactly DeLay's “new” position entails. Drawing from the only direct quote of the congressman to appear in the same article in which the Chronicle implied he had switched his position, DeLay is reported to have said:
Metro's new leadership, it's becoming clearer by the day, has a vision for a mobile Houston region, and the kind of open minds and flexible management style it will take to realize that vision.
To summarize: DeLay's “old” position: Before I support rail we must have a vote and METRO must establish its role in the greater scheme of regional mobility. DeLay's “new” position: METRO's new leadership appears to be flexible and desires a vision of regional mobility in their projects. So exactly what, then, did Tom DeLay change about his stance on Metrorail? Based upon the evidence we've seen I will venture to say absolutely nothing has changed. Tom DeLay's stipulations, stated in the Houston Chronicle on April 22, 2000, are the exact same stipulations he's applying today and as his recent speech indicated, he believes that METRO's new board of directors is taking more steps towards fulfilling them then under its previous regimes. Granted, whether that is true or not is highly debatable (with myself included among the skeptics) and probably remains to be seen. That leaves us with a final set of questions. What, then, is really going on and where did the Chronicle's report of DeLay changing his position come from? The answer is simple: despite the fact that he plainly stated his stance in the April 22, 2000 viewpoints letter and in untold dozens of interviews, Tom DeLay's true position on light rail has been consciously distorted and misrepresented by the Houston Chronicle for the past four years if not longer. Operating in the echo chamber of left wing journalism, the Chronicle turned Tom DeLay into their personal bogeyman for all matters involving their rabidly pursued agenda to establish and expand Metrorail at all costs. Whenever Metrorail had a political setback it simply had to be Tom DeLay's fault. When Metrorail got negative publicity or when opponents of the project insisted upon public accountability before building was to begin, it had to be Tom DeLay's fault. When Shirley DiLibero had a bad hair day on the morning of a major press conference promoting Metrorail, it had to be Tom DeLay's fault. Or so believed the Houston Chronicle on all of these items except, perhaps, that last one (though I would not put it past them!). Even the secret memo effectively summarized the role that this pervasive and near-paranoid belief played at the Chronicle while making the case for intentionally slanting their news coverage on light rail:
But I suggest that they could be built upon and informed by a news-feature package with an equally specific focus: Telling the story of rail here by examining the long term relationship of the two key players in the local transit wars — Rep. Tom DeLay and former Mayor Bob Lanier. For better or worse, (mostly worse, I would argue) no two have had a more significant impact on transit decisions here. Our readers deserve to know how they've operated to fund and promote an anti-rail agenda for the past two decades.
Last week's headline and subsequent perceptions about a DeLay flip flop demonstrate just how twisted reality becomes to an openly partisan newspaper when it buys into the repetition of its own junk soundbytes about a political opponent. While virtually nothing contradictory appears in the “old” and “new” DeLay positions quoted above, the Chronicle was so convinced from the get go that DeLay hated any and all rail that they mistook (be it intentionally or otherwise) his expression of virtually the exact same position he has held all along - the desire that METRO develop its rail projects with a mechanism for public input and a mind for its role in the greater picture of regional mobility - for a complete policy turnaround. To make the Chron's presentation even more absurd, it appears that the actual change in position came on METRO's end rather than DeLay's. Since the beginning of the Lee P. Brown administration METRO has pursued a downright reckless drive to establish, build, and expand their style of a rail transit system on their terms in the manner that they alone decided. Recall that METRO employed the court system and political maneuvering to strike down at least two attempts to simply have a public referendum on their Main Street system. The same transit agency also adhered to its system design with such wanton stubborness that it would not even make some of the most minor track alterations imaginable in the wake of Tropical Storm Allison. Of course we all know that it took two dozen major rail collisions before METRO responded by shuffling a few warning signs around and now, as the total exceeds 50, they have yet to find a successful way to stave off the problem. That said, changes are afoot at METRO, however slight they may be. METRO has a new board and its old CEO Shirley DiLibero, a major obstacle for competence at the agency, retired earlier this year. Shortly after the administration change at METRO, one of the new board members made overatures toward DeLay by taking the congressman's previously stated and long standing position on rail at face value for once. Rather than treating him as the Chronicle's rail-hating bogeyman to be opposed, smeared, and stamped out at all costs, the new board member approached DeLay and asked what could be done for the two to work together. Sticking to his earlier position, DeLay responded and, last weekend, thanked METRO for finally showing the tiniest inkling of flexibility and cooperation in place of its long standing “our way or the railway” approach to mass transit.

Permalink | Chron Bias

August 17, 2004, 11:55 AM

Military Restructuring

By Terry Bohannon

President Bush recently outlined a plan to restructure the deployment of our military. He plans to take America away from the bases and logistical networks established during the Cold War. This is a good idea. Because of that, the Democrats are trying their best to spin this. Spin doctor Richard Holbrooke, Clinton's U.N. ambassador and an adviser to Kerry said, “This is another example of the Administration's unilateralism. It's going to weaken our national security. It is not going to save us money. It will cost billions of dollars to bring these troops home.” However, this plan makes a lot of sense if we listen to President Bush. It is clear that this plan won't weaken our national security. With an “agile and more flexible force,” we can better respond to terrorist threats. The following is what President Bush said about the plan at the Cincinnati Cinergy Center to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention: Remarks by the President to Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2004/08/20040816-12.html THE PRESIDENT: . . . More than three years ago, we launched a comprehensive review of America's global force posture — the numbers, types, locations, and capabilities of U.S. forces around the world. We've consulted closely with our allies and with Congress; we've examined the challenges posed by today's threats and emerging threats. And so, today I announce a new plan for deploying America's Armed Forces. Over the coming decade, we'll deploy a more agile and more flexible force, which means that more of our troops will be stationed and deployed from here at home. We'll move some of our troops and capabilities to new locations, so they can surge quickly to deal with unexpected threats. We'll take advantage of 21st century military technologies to rapidly deploy increased combat power. The new plan will help us fight and win these wars of the 21st century. It will strengthen our alliances around the world, while we build new partnerships to better preserve the peace. It will reduce the stress on our troops and our military families. Although we'll still have a significant presence overseas, under the plan I'm announcing today, over the next 10 years, we will bring home about 60,000 to 70,000 uniformed personnel, and about 100,000 members and civilian employees — family members and civilian employees. See, our service members will have more time on the home front, and more predictability and fewer moves over a career. Our military spouses will have fewer job changes, greater stability, more time for their kids and to spend with their families at home. The taxpayers will save money, as we configure our military to meet the threats of the 21st century. There will be savings as we consolidate and close bases and facilities overseas no longer needed to face the threats of our time and defend the peace. The world has changed a great deal, and our posture must change with it, for the sake of our military families, for the sake of our taxpayers, and so we can be more effective at projecting our strength and spreading freedom and peace. . . .

Permalink | News and Views

August 17, 2004, 10:10 AM

'Truth' dummy hung over Bible decision

By Owen Courrèges

Some people protesting the decision of a federal judge to remove the Bible from the Mosher monument have apparently gotten a tad too creative (from ABC 13):
Downtown, some demonstrators erected a cross on Monday and hung a stuffed, hooded dummy to protest a judge's order to remove a monument containing a Bible from outside the Harris County Civil Courthouse. The protesters said the judge hung the truth with his decision. A week ago, the judge ordered the county to remove the Bible within 10 days because it violated the constitution. The county has said it will appeal the judge's decision.
For the record, this kind of thing doesn't make people take social conservatives more seriously.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

August 17, 2004, 10:02 AM

Chron: 'Fortunately, society is crumbling'

By Owen Courrèges

As one would expect, the Chronicle begins its staff editorial on New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey, who recently 'came out' as he resigned his office, by pointing out how left-wing their beliefs are regarding homosexuality. This passage, however, is the most telling:
Fortunately, in this day and age politicians who get elected to office need not resign because of their sexual orientation. If they confess to having an adulterous affair with a member of one sex while being married to a member of the opposite sex, the public is apt to be forgiving, as has been the case with McGreevey.
Is is really fortunate that the public tolerates adultery and deviant sexuality in its public officials? Have the Chron's morals been so hideously tainted that they actually think that this is a positive development? Forgiveness is always positive when there is sincere repentance, but I haven't seen that here. What I've seen is a sleazy quagmire of broken promises that have seen a family destroyed. If the public is capable of overlooking this with a blasé attitude, that doesn't bode well for the future of this country.

Permalink | Chron Bias

August 17, 2004, 09:15 AM

Today's Features

By Mona Lugay

Make sure you view our Features section for daily commentary on entertainment “wonders and blunders,” the sports world's best and worst shots, local high school sports updates, the great outdoors, a little miscellaneous humor and much more. Dan Lovett explains how not showing skin is a thing of the past.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

August 17, 2004, 07:30 AM

Chron: Hearst is still dead

By Matt Bramanti

The Chron ran a poem to memorialize William Randolph Hearst, the late newspaper tycoon and founder of the Chronicle's parent company, Hearst Corp.:
So why prize life Or why fear death, Or dread what is to be? The river ran Its allotted span Till it reached the silent sea. Then the water harked back To the mountain-top To begin its course once more. So we shall run The course begun Till we reach the silent shore. Then revisit earth In a pure rebirth From the heart of the virgin snow. So don't ask why We live or die, Or whither, or when we go, Or wonder about the mysteries That only God may know.
I know the Chron is just remembering its great-granddaddy, but there are plenty of reasons Hearst should be relegated to history. Many of them are detailed in a biography by David Nasaw, entitled “The Chief”, such as: -As the creator of “yellow journalism,” Hearst spiced up stories to sell newspapers, sometimes with tragic consequences. When Frederick Remington was in Cuba, covering the Cuban uprising against the Spanish, the artist reported to Hearst that there wasn't much to see. Hearst's alleged reply: “You furnish the pictures, I'll furnish the war.” -Hearst's writers included several notorious historical figures, including Benito Mussolini, Adolf Hitler, and Hermann Goering. -The man brought us Cosmopolitan. (Okay, maybe that one is a bit petty.) Hearst's legacy is one of slanted, agenda-driven journalism that sacrifices facts at the altar of circulation numbers.

Permalink | Media Watch

August 16, 2004, 09:54 PM

Libs Question Timing of John the Baptist Cave Discovery Announcement (Satire)

By Matt Forge

Washington (CB) — The Democrats have a long glorious history of cynically pondering the prudent nature of certain public notifications which appear to trip up their own party's heroes while lifting up political enemies. Their most recent inquisitions of dubious timing include: the Sandy Berger heist revelation, Bush's speech to the National Urban League, the arrest of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, Bush's nomination of Porter Goss and Bush's decision to withdraw troops from Germany. And with ingenious insight not unlike that of the Pink Panther’s Inspector Clouseau, they have once again foiled the dastardly deeds of Bush and the Religious Reich. On Monday Archaeologists said they had found a cave where they believe John the Baptist anointed many of his disciples. However, critics point out that the discovery was made in 1999, just before the 2000 presidential election and question why it’s just at this particular point in time that it’s being revealed. ''The timing is very curious, given this has been underway now for this long,“ said Senate minority leader Tom Daschle, Democrat of South Dakota. ''Somebody announced it, obviously, with an intent, I think, to prop up Bush.” An article in New Republic magazine reported that a White House aide told British archaeologist Shimon Gibson, who supervised the dig outside Jerusalem, that the best day to announce the religious discovery would be August 16, coinciding with the 2004 presidential election campaigns. It is interesting that the announcement comes just two days after Holy Cross Day. But the Bush administration, on advisement from the reverend Billy Graham, has rejected the notion as false. But the timing has provided fuel for critics who have suggested Bush has purposely used religious discovery announcements to change the nation's focus during times of unsettling news for his administration. They claim it’s just an old-fashioned fire-and-brimstone method for revving up his anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, anti-stem cell research base. Although Teresa was careful not to criticize the timing of the archaeological find during her facial, Kerry later stealthily questioned Bush's decision-making on the nature of the discovery. He talked to us while getting a haircut from his stylist whom was flown in on special assignment. “The way you make us religious is not by announcing these controversial discoveries, but by bringing all religious scholars to the table and having the best minds contemplate spirituality,” he said while wispy shreds of his luscious locks gently floated to the floor. Kerry answered, “You betcha.” when asked if he would have handled the latest find differently and whether he would eliminate the “Hey, look what we gots!” system. “I would find a way to change, yes,” he said. “You have to let Americans know of a legitimate religious find. But I think that most Americans don't really know how to respond when some other scientists say there is no real evidence John the Baptist dunked people there.” For Howard Dean, there is little question that the latest disclosure was politically timed. “You don't know. You can't know. All you can do is put together the facts,” he said. “Because of the timing, one would suspect strongly that politics had something to do with this announcement.” (The above story, though based on actual events, is satire or parody. It is meant for entertainment only and is NOT true.)

Permalink | Humor

August 16, 2004, 02:08 PM

2004 Olympics: Athens and bust?

By Matt Bramanti

Lets do a little recap of the Olympics so far: Michael Phelps won't win eight gold medals, the U.S. basketball team got rocked by an American territory, Greece's top sprinters may have staged a motorcycle wreck to avoid taking a drug test, and the U.S. is behind China, Australia, Japan, Italy, Turkey, and the Ukraine in gold medals. Hey, at least we're tied with France. In the “good sportsmanship” category, we have the Iranians refusing to grapple with Israel in judo. Here's an excerpt, quoting the supposedly moderate president of Iran:
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami was quoted by IRNA as saying Mirasmaeili would go down “in the history of Iranian glories” as “the champion of the 2004 Olympic Games.”
And we're only a couple days into the games. We also shouldn't forget the other problems plaguing the games: poor planning, outlandish expenses, and vacant seats. With years and years to plan these games, you'd think the Greeks could have sold their target of 5 million tickets. The Aussies cleared well over 9 million. But the Athens organizers haven't yet hit the 3-million-ticket mark. They're over 40% below projections. Wow. But there have been some high points. The Iraqi soccer team is turning heads. And the Afghanis are sending women to the games for the first time. Both teams' successes are brought to you courtesy of the people of the United States.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

August 16, 2004, 09:21 AM

Metro expecting layoffs

By Owen Courrèges

Tell me you didn't see this coming:
METRO's new president is saying some workers may have to be laid off due to budget problems. President Frank Wilson told department heads to create budgets for the next year with the possibility of a 5 percent reduction in staff.
Gee, I wonder why these layoffs are necessary. I know that sales tax revenues are down, but Metro usually has enough funds to weather out brief periods of decreased revenue. Could it be that Metro has wasted so much money on a fruitless light rail venture that they've exhausted their reserve funds? Is that the cause of these 'budget problems?' Bingo.

Permalink | Houston's Light Rail

August 16, 2004, 09:04 AM

A new North Texas rail debacle in the works

By Owen Courrèges

The scourge of rail transit has already infested North Texas to an unacceptable degree, but it's about to get a great deal worse. As the Associated Press reports:
Dozens of North Texas leaders have agreed to a formal plan to build a six-county regional rail network stretching from Denton to Waxahachie and McKinney to Cleburne. Now the leaders must sell the plan, agreed on Friday, to state lawmakers and ultimately to voters. The $3.5 billion, 260-mile commuter rail blueprint would require a half-cent sales tax increase. The unanimous approval during a meeting at the seventh annual Texas Transportation Summit came just one year after many of the same leaders gathered and signed a pledge to work on solving some of the region's transit problems.
Buried at the end of the article, thankfully, is a lone voice of reason:
John Dewey of Flower Mound argued against the rail plans, saying that the existing Trinity Railway Express commuter line from Dallas to Fort Worth carries about 2 percent of the traffic on nearby highways. “You've got to ask yourself what impact does that have on pollution and congestion. It doesn't have any,” he said.
Exactly.

Permalink | News and Views - Texas

August 16, 2004, 09:01 AM

Today's Features

By Mona Lugay

Make sure you view our Features section for daily commentary on entertainment “wonders and blunders,” the sports world's best and worst shots, local high school sports updates, the great outdoors, a little miscellaneous humor and much more. Greg Berlocher tells you what it takes to be a STAR and Barry Chambers gives his take on Brittany Murphy's new flick “Little Black Book.”

Permalink | Miscellaneous

August 16, 2004, 08:18 AM

A Marine's view:

By Terry Bohannon

Saturday, a former Marine added a very touching comment to “The Capturing of al-Sadr”. What he said deserves attention:
The on going offensive in Najaf, where Sadr's cowards are holed up in and around the Imam Ali Mosque, has forced us to dance to the same old tune; “the political circumstances in which the battle was waged forced the Marines to fight with one hand tied behind their backs”. Have we not learned anything? We are committing our troops to battle and tying their hands which cost them casualties, i.e., lives and denies them a battle field victory which they have so rightly earned and deserve. The insurgents in the mosque are our enemy and have unfortunately, as cowards would, taken refuge in it but that should not prevent our forces form destroying them. We have not gone into Iraq to loose the war. We should all send a clear message to those who can make a difference and encourage them to get a grip, get some sand and execute this mission with the same level of intestinal fortitude that the troops, they have committed to battle, demonstrate everyday. Support the troops, send the message to: [email protected] They are bleeding and dying for us and the rest of the world that lacks the guts to do what needs to be done. Semper Fi

Permalink | News and Views

August 16, 2004, 07:00 AM

Chron publishes Robert Jensen... again

By Owen Courrèges

The Chronicle has published yet another op-ed from that left-wing nutball, Robert Jensen. Jensen, a professor of Journalism at the University of Texas, was first published in the Chronicle on September 14th, 2001 — just three days following the attacks on the twin towers. In that op-ed, he notoriously wrote that the attack on the World Trade Center “was no more despicable than the massive acts of terrorism — the deliberate killing of civilians for political purposes — that the U.S. government has committed during my lifetime.” Given the timing and the rhetoric, this was clearly over-the-top. Yet the Chronicle published Jensen then, and now they've published him yet again. In this op-ed, which concerns the recall election of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, his rhetoric is no less inflammatory and unreasonable:
Whatever objections U.S. officials might have to the Venezuelan president's policies, it is clear the attempts to push Chavez from power have nothing to do with the charge that he is an authoritarian president (or “quasi-authoritarian,” as one U.S. newspaper described him in an editorial, or perhaps a “quasi-editorial”). Since his 1998 election, Chavez's real “crimes” have been not just consistently speaking out against the unjust distribution of resources in his country but taking tangible steps to help the poor, such as literacy programs and community-based health clinics.
Of course, in reality Chavez has expressed kinship with the likes of Fidel Castro and Saddam Hussein. He has also corresponded with a convicted terrorist, Ramírez “Carlos the Jackal” Sánchez, with whom he expressed “profound faith in the cause.” I understand that, as a wing-nut, Jensen wishes to defend Chavez, but ignoring his support of vile dictators and terrorists is more than a tad intellectually dishonest. Ultimately, I suppose the Chronicle sympathizes somewhat with Jensen's position. That, and they probably love running his pieces for shock value. It just goes to show how awful a paper they truly are.

Permalink | Chron Bias

August 15, 2004, 10:19 PM

Mixer for Shiite Militants and Iraqi Officials Ends in Prolonged Moment of Awkward Silence (Satire)

By Matt Forge

NAJAF, Iraq (CB) - A “getting to know you” party for Shiite militants and Iraqi officials came to a silent end with everyone still being strangers, raising the prospect of a return to selfish clique behavior between militiamen and U.S-Iraqi forces in the party city of Najaf. The government's chief socialite, Mouwaffaq al-Rubaie, said that he wasn't having a good time and that he was leaving the scene. Aides to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr blamed the United States and the Iraqi government for the lame party being a dud. The mixer had raised hopes for a resolution to the dissing by al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia, which has posed deep problems for Iraq's fledgling social scene. After nine days of the “silent treatment”, Najaf has been a bit warmer since Friday, when U.S. forces halted ice-cold stares of death against the militiamen to give text messaging a chance. “I feel deep sorrow and regret to announce the failure of the efforts we have exerted to end the thick social tensions in Iraq,” said al-Rubaie, who serves in the government has national social adviser. “Our goal was to spare insults, preserve civility and for the militias to stop telling us to talk to their hand,” he said, without giving specifics on what led to the prolonged moment of awkward silence. Al-Sadr had demanded that the U.S. play better music than 50s night-club jazz and offer that tasty sherbert/7-UP punch, in exchange for not “harumphing” at them with nose pointing upward and ceasing the ugly rumors about fake hair color and spray-on tans, aides said. However, al-Sadr himself did not participate in the party and al-Rubaie said he felt some “elements” were hindering his efforts to have a girl-to-girl chat with the standoffish cleric. Al-Rubaie said he had proposed that al-Sadr's militia become popular by joining of his own circle of friends which was met with a resounding, “What-e-verrr!” “We had been chillin', dancing and chatting for three hours but it tapered off into a deafening time of complete silence, save for the ticking of the cat-clock with moving eyes and tail,” he said. “After three hours, my government thought there was no use in hanging out there.” Al-Sadr aide Sheik Ali Smeisim said both sides had agreed on the fall's fashion dos and don'ts, but interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi suddenly told the government officials to break away from the mixer and head to Sonic for tater tots and a diet Coke. (The above story, though based on actual events, is satire or parody. It is meant for entertainment only and is NOT true.)

Permalink | Humor

August 15, 2004, 10:15 PM

Florida's Hurricane Charley Renamed For The Record Books (Satire)

By Matt Forge

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. (CB) — Officials at the Republican-controlled National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have finally caved in to Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee's (D-Texas) demands from a year ago to have hurricanes named after African-Americans by changing hurricane Charley's name to Chicken George. “Packing winds of 145 mph, Chicken George was a powerful Category 4 storm that will restore pride in our community,” said Lee responding to the name change. “The overturned boats that sit in front of shredded storefronts, the power lines dangling in standing water, the street signs and billboards that are ripped away and palm tree trunks, snapped in half like matchsticks, that are wrapped with twisted metal will remind everyone of black power and black pride. This is a good day for us all.” The news has brought some comfort to the many in Florida who have lost property and loved-ones this last Friday. “I lost my pet poodle Pierre,” said one unidentified victim. “But knowing that he was killed by Chicken George makes it all better.” It has also been announced that all hurricanes this season will have African-American names. And it may not be too long before the new list gets used again. Officials are keeping a close eye on Tropical Storm P. Diddy out in the Atlantic, which will most likely be upgraded to Hurricane P. Diddy in the near future. Other names on the list include, but are not limited to: 2Pac, 8ball, 50 Cent, Gangsta Boo, Jadakiss, Lil' Kim (tropical storm), Big Kim (Lil' Kim upgraded to hurricane status), Ludacris, Missy Elliot, Snoop Dog and Usher. Names that were rejected for the modified list are: Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice, Tiger Woods and Bill Cosby. (The above story, though based on actual events, is satire or parody. It is meant for entertainment only and is NOT true.)

Permalink | Humor

August 15, 2004, 07:00 AM

MetroRail a “success”

By The Staff

Today, the Washington Post covered a story about Houston's MetroRail. The following two paragraphs are very telling:
Metro spokeswoman Maggi Stewart said that despite the accidents, the agency believes MetroRail has been a success. Average daily ridership is at 30,000, well on track to meet the 35,000 projected ridership for the end of the year, she said. “We're looking at the ridership and we know people are riding it, and that's the important thing,” she said. As for the activists' Web sites, Stewart said: “Some anti-rail groups are in charge of these sites . . . They want to build more highways and more concrete.”

Permalink | Houston's Light Rail

August 15, 2004, 12:55 AM

Chronicle backs 'sanctuary' policy

By Owen Courrèges

The Houston Chronicle has, predictably, endorsed the so-called 'sanctuary' policy that currently exists in Houston under which the police do not arrest illegal immigrants for being here illegally. Their logic, also predictably, is quite faulty:
The Houston Police Department does not arrest anyone based solely on immigration status, but Lehman seems to have misunderstood the situation here. The no-arrest policy applies to immigrants who are not dangerous criminals. The policy, like its counterparts at public health clinics and hospital emergency rooms, is necessary to protect public safety. The police need the cooperation of immigrants in order to fight crime. If immigrants were subject to deportation when they reported a crime, they wouldn't do it. Were that the case, the city's exposure to terrorist acts would increase.
First of all, anybody can leave an anonymous tip with the police. Simply reporting a crime, then, does not necessarily expose illegal immigrants to deportation. But even looking beyond that, the Chronicle begs the question: Does 'sanctuary' apply only to illegal immigrants to who are reporting crimes? The answer, of course, is no. That's where the Chronicle's argument breaks down, since 'sanctuary' applies as much to a routine traffic stop as it does to leaving a tip at police headquarters, and let's face it, in the former scenario it is far more common for the police to encounter an illegal immigrant. As such, 'sanctuary' merely serves as a shield for people who are breaking the law. It has nothing to do with public safety, because if it did, then it would only apply to illegal immigrants reporting crimes, rather than to all illegals. No, this is a policy whose goal is to cut police costs and legitimize illegal activity, and that's hardly noble.

Permalink | Chron Bias

August 14, 2004, 01:56 PM

Prayers needed

By Terry Bohannon

Prayers are needed as Hurricane Charley caused a lot of damage, displacing families, and has led to the death of many Floridans:
The death toll from Hurricane Charley rose early Saturday, when a county official said there had a been “significant loss of life” at a mobile home park and deputies were standing guard over stacks of bodies because the area was inaccessible to ambulances (AP).

Permalink | News and Views

August 14, 2004, 12:54 PM

Trafficking and Slavery

By The Staff

According to the a press release published in the Washington Times, a task force has been created in Texas to quickly inform our local, state and federal officials about the movements and the sources of human trafficking:
Federal, state and local officials Friday announced a Texas task force to crack down on human trafficking and slavery. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, joined in announcing the new law enforcement clearing house for information and resources to fight the problem in Texas. “This task force will greatly enhance the ability of federal, state and local officials to work together in the fight against human trafficking,” the senator said.
This task force will enable our law enforcement to stop and prevent human trafficking and slavery. Let's hope they succeed.

Permalink | News and Views - Texas

August 14, 2004, 07:00 AM

Swift Boat Twist

By Terry Bohannon

As World Net Daily reported Wednesday, quoting “Unfit for Command,” Kerry was on the Senate floor in March 27, 1986, and said:
“I remember Christmas of 1968 when sitting in a gunboat in Cambodia. I remember what it was like to be shot at by Vietnamese and Khmer Rouge and Cambodians, and have the president of the United States tell the American people I was not there; the troops were not in Cambodia. ”I have the memory which is seared – seared – in me, that says to me, before we send another generation into harm's way we have a responsibility in the U.S. Senate to go the last step, to make the best effort possible to avoid that kind of conflict.“
Also, in a letter to the editor in 1979, Kerry was quoted in the Boston Herald as claiming:
”I remember spending Christmas Eve of 1968 five miles across the Cambodian border being shot at by our South Vietnamese allies who were drunk and celebrating Christmas. The absurdity of almost being killed by our own allies in a country in which President Nixon claimed there were no American troops was very real.“
That Christmas in Cambodia claim has been heavily disputed by the Swift Boat Vets for Truth, who said that Kerry ”was more than 50 miles away from Cambodia" at the time. With the media attention this book has been receiving before its release this Sunday, the Swift Vets have been successful at uncovering the truth that Kerry lied about Cambodia. Since this revelation backed the Kerry camp into a wall, his Cambodia claim is now being nuanced. Nuanced, that is, in a telling article published by a UK paper, the Telegraph, since:
The biographer of John Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate, said yesterday there was no basis for one of the senator's favourite Vietnam War anecdotes - that he spent Christmas 1968 in Cambodia, a neutral nation which US leaders vowed was off limits for American forces.
In that paragraph, Kerry's biographer admitted that the Swift Boat Vets were correct, that Kerry was not in Cambodia during Christmas. The Nuance, though, came when he shifted the whole discussion aside and brought up a new claim. He claimed that Kerry was in Cambodian waters, but during the two months after Christmas. He did this when he said:
“Kerry went into Cambodian waters three or four times in January and February 1969 on clandestine missions. He had a run dropping off US Navy Seals, Green Berets and CIA guys. . . . He was a ferry master, a drop-off guy, but it was dangerous as hell. Kerry carries a hat he was given by one CIA operative. In a part of his journals which I didn't use he writes about discussions with CIA guys he was dropping off.”

Permalink | News and Views

August 13, 2004, 09:09 PM

Pigeons Stage Protest (Satire)

By Matt Forge

New York (CB) – A flock of activist pigeons have staged a protest protesting their inhumane treatment at the hands of humans. The city-bred fowl have been forced, with electrical shocks, to relocate from their favorite perch high atop the historic post office across from the Republican national convention sight. The head protest pigeon says they are fighting for their right to coo wherever they want.
Here, a couple of pigeons make good use of a soiled bed sheet by recycling it into a thought-provoking banner. Not too wacky yet.

Here’s one making a symbolic statement about not being allowed to communicate by wearing a bandana over its mouth (beak). At the same time, it communicates with a sign hanging from its neck. Now we’ve edged into wacky territory since the two statements seem to conflict with one another.

Finally, here’s one acting out in a bit of “street theater” by mimicking a famous image from the Iraq prison abuse scandal. It receives high marks for creativity in that it ties the two “electrical shock” events together in the mind’s eye. However, it earns low marks on influential value in that no one (except its fellow socialist anarchist pigeon comrades) will take him/her seriously. (The above story, though based on actual events, is satire or parody. It is meant for entertainment only and is NOT true.)

Permalink | Humor

August 13, 2004, 04:30 PM

One of the good guys

By Rob Booth

There's no Houston connection here, and it has nothing to do with bias in the Chronicle, but I like stories like this. Besides, after noting the Houston Marine who was awarded the Navy Cross, my old Navy buddies would give me serious grief if I didn't post this. Navy NewsStand: Corpsman Awarded Navy Cross
NORTH CAROLINA (NNS) — Secretary of the Navy Gordon R. England presented the Navy Cross to Hospitalman Luis E. Fonseca Jr. in a ceremony held at Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune, N.C., Aug. 11. Fonseca, a 23-year-old corpsman, was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom March 23, 2003, while serving with Amphibious Assault Vehicle Platoon, Company C, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, Task Force Tarawa, II Marine Expeditionary Force. The Navy Cross, the U.S. Navy's second highest decoration, is awarded for extraordinary heroism while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States. The act must be performed in the presence of great danger or at great personal risk. [snip] “I was doing my job,” said Fonseca. “I wish I could have done more.”
The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer: Fayetteville native Fonseca awarded Navy cross
A Fayetteville native was awarded the Navy's second-highest honor Wednesday for risking his life to save five Marines injured in a firefight at the start of the Iraq war. Navy Hospitalman Luis E. Fonseca Jr., who is 23, didn't find out until Monday that he would receive the Navy Cross, the equivalent of the Army's Distinguished Service Cross. [snip] Fonseca, who was not injured, spent six months in Iraq and never saw worse injuries or heavier combat. He said he will wear his Navy Cross in remembrance of those who were injured and those who didn't make it home. “I'll always wear it with pride because it will always remind me of my brothers that didn't get to come home,” he said.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

August 13, 2004, 02:59 PM

Transplanted!

By The Staff

A Houston man receives international attention after successfully finding an organ donor:
A Texas man suffering from cancer has launched an innovative campaign to attract potential organ donors for a liver transplant he needs to save his life. While two billboards reading “I need a liver – Please help save my life” have gone up along Houston's highways in recent days to find a donor for Todd Krampitz, 32, he and his wife have also bought newspaper advertisements. They have posted their story on a Web site with updates on his condition and possible donors. “Todd's only hope for survival is a liver transplant,” the Web site says. He was diagnosed with cancer last May.
And, the advertisement worked. Last night, according to KHOU, “A family donated a loved one's liver to Todd Krampitz who then underwent a successful transplant Thursday at Methodist Hospital.”

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

August 13, 2004, 11:31 AM

RAF's “Sensitive” side:

By Terry Bohannon

Hopeful John Kerry suggested that America needs to carry on a more “sensitive” war in Iraq. Maybe he has in mind what the Royal Air Force did with their Tornado squadron:
A Royal Air Force's Tornado, with friendly “OOPS” and “SORRY” written on bombs.

Permalink | Humor

August 13, 2004, 10:45 AM

A more “sensitive” war?

By The Staff

According to the Palm Beach Post:
Cheney ridiculed Kerry's claim that he would operate a “more sensitive” war on terror, criticized the Massachusetts senator's votes on the war in Iraq, and questioned his attendance record for Senate hearings. Cheney also alluded to the Sept. 11 attacks in making the case for another four years for the Bush administration. “The job of the commander-in-chief, as (Sen. Kerry) sees it, is to use America's military strength to respond to attacks,” Cheney said in the 25-minute address. “But September 11 showed us, as surely as anything can, that we must act against gathering dangers.”
We must ask: What does Kerry propose with a “more sensitive” war?

Permalink | News and Views

August 13, 2004, 10:14 AM

Today's Features

By Mona Lugay

Make sure you view our Features section for daily commentary on entertainment “wonders and blunders,” the sports world's best and worst shots, local high school sports updates, the great outdoors, a little miscellaneous humor and much more. Dan, Dick, Mike and Matt give their feedback on the latest local and national occurences.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

August 13, 2004, 09:49 AM

Pro-Life Hero

By Terry Bohannon

Two days ago, I received an e-mail from Texas Right to Life, and chanced upon a very sweet and touching story. The story is about an unexpected mother, Pat, and her daughter, Carol. Pro-Life Hero: Texas Right for Life The night was like many others before it. Pat, her youth pastor, and two boys from her youth group were on the way home from a church function. The boys dropped the youth pastor off first, but instead of driving Pat home, they drove to a nearby golf course. On that fateful evening in 1952, Pat was raped. Pat stumbled home seeking solace and comfort from her family but instead was told to never mention the incident. Feeling shameful, Pat kept silent until she could no longer deny the symptoms of pregnancy. Her father sought to “solve” the problem by taking Pat to a doctor for an abortion. Pat was uncertain of what an abortion actually was, but she knew somehow that her baby was going to be killed. Having no choice but to obey her father, Pat went to the appointment, but the doctor refused to perform the abortion because the pregnancy was so far along. When this option closed, her father sent her to a home for unwed mothers in San Antonio. At the maternity home, Pat was made to understand that her only option was to place the child for adoption. Pat struggled with her decision, but she knew that she would have no support from her family in raising the child. At fifteen, she was in no position to be on her own. Pat decided the best gift she could give her child was a stable home and loving parents--she placed the baby girl she named “Elizabeth” for adoption. As was the case in most adoptions in 1952, “Elizabeth’s” adoption was a closed one. Pat signed an agreement to never try to seek out the daughter to whom she had relinquished all rights, and she kept that agreement. Fast-forward thirty-three years to see Carol, a lovely woman elated at the birth of her own daughter. Despite her glee with her new baby, Carol still felt a hole in her life that she needed to fill. Carol had always known she was adopted, but she never knew the circumstances of her birth or subsequent placement for adoption. Having given birth to her own daughter, Carol longed to know the woman who chose to give her life so many years ago. Carol persistently navigated through the maze of paperwork, social workers, and counseling, and even hired a private investigator to assist in finding her birth mother. Finally, the day came when she received the name and phone number of her birth mother. With both trepidation and joy, Carol made the phone call, and soon the two were reunited just outside Houston. The unexpected reunion with her biological daughter provided Pat newfound strength to break her long held silence about the pain of her past and the circumstances surrounding Carol’s birth. Pat was able to reach out for healing and share her past with her four grown children, who now knew of their sister. Reflecting on their lives, both Pat and Carol have valuable insights. Carol knows that her life, though conceived in a tragic manner, has blessed others. She is a wife, a mother, and an artist who inspires those around her. Carol had always been Pro-Life, and learning her past only strengthened that resolve. She wishes that lawmakers would pass a law requiring that an abortion be registered as a death. Such a measure, Carol feels, would impress upon the woman and her doctor the gravity of the choice they are making. This real Pro-Life hero, Pat, is a woman of strength whose story should be heard and applauded. When asked about the rape exception that even some Pro-Lifers make for abortion, Pat answers in a sincerely disturbed voice, “Why would someone blame the baby?” Pat says the most difficult aspect of her experience was reaching a point of forgiveness both towards the boys who raped her and her father who failed her. She prays that the boys and her father found similar forgiveness and that they were spared anger and guilt--a remarkable prayer, but a prayer of victory. Pat’s experience reminds Pro-Lifers that what young girls need (as she needed) is sympathy and support. Aborting Carol would have only led to another tragedy and more suffering for Pat. While recognizing the sadness of her story, both she and we rejoice at her strength in choosing life. The circumstances of a child’s conception do not determine that child’s worth, and the pain of a rape certainly cannot be erased by the pain of an abortion.

Permalink | News and Views

August 12, 2004, 02:09 PM

California Supreme Court:

By Terry Bohannon

Today, the California Supreme Court voided all mutated marriages, as the SF Gate reports:
The justices ruled unanimously that Mayor Gavin Newsom overstepped his authority when he ordered the marriage licenses issued on Feb. 12 in defiance of a state law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. By a 5-2 vote, the court ruled that none of the 3,955 couples who flocked to City Hall in response to Newsom's decree was ever legally married or entitled to the rights of spouses. The court said their $82 license fees should be refunded.
Same-sex marriage, if you remember the previous essays written on this issue, here and here, and remember what happened in Missouri, is opposed by a large majority of the American public. It is quickly becoming an issue the Democrats avoid at all costs.

Permalink | News and Views

August 12, 2004, 12:30 PM

The Capturing of al-Sadr

By Terry Bohannon

American troops are one step closer to capturing al-Sadr as they seize “the heart of the holy Iraqi city of Najaf in a major assault on Shi'ite rebels that has driven world oil prices to record highs,” according to a Reuters press release. The report suggests that al-Sadr and hundreds of his followers, the Mehdi Army, have taken cover within the Imam Ali Mosque, one of the holiest places in Iraq for the Shia. Accordingly, Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said, “This government calls upon all the armed groups to drop their weapons and rejoin society. We call upon all the armed men to evacuate the holy shrine and not to violate its holiness.” However, it's unlikely al-Sadr's followers will drop their arms so easily. It will be a tough fight indeed, and we very well may end up capturing al-Sadr. I just hope this mosque isn't wrecked beyond repair.

Permalink | News and Views

August 12, 2004, 10:00 AM

Sen. Hutchison, why hast thou forsaken us?

By Owen Courrèges

My faith in Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison has been waning for some time now. Lately, her support for Houston Metro and light rail transit has been especially troubling (from the Houston Business Journal):
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Tx., announced Tuesday that the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County will receive more than $12 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The funding is for environmental impact studies and preliminary planning and engineering of the Advanced Metro Transit Plan. “The Metropolitan Transit Authority is on track to build a suitable mass transit system for the people of Harris County,” Sen. Hutchison said. “I recognize the need for an effective rail system in Houston and I will continue to support this effort in Congress.”
An effective rail system? Is there a single light rail system in the country that actually qualifies as being effective? As I've noted previously, Harvard researcher Johnathan Richmond's 1999 study should prove beyond all doubt that rail transit is simply ineffective, both versus freeways and buses. If the goal is to increase transit ridership, rail doesn't work. If the goal is to increase mobility, rail doesn't work. Overall, rail simply doesn't work! I don't understand why Senator Hutchison refuses to recognize this. Is she so irrationally enamored of trains that she's willing to indulge the fiction of an effective rail network? Heaven help us if that's the quality of the representation that Texas has in the US Senate.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

August 12, 2004, 08:00 AM

Behaviorism applied to pigeons at the RNC

By Owen Courrèges

B.F. Skinner's theories are apparently being applied to pigeons in New York, to the benefit of the delegates who will be attending the Republican National Convention (from ABC 13):
There's been a shocking solution to a pigeon problem in New York. People attending the upcoming Republican National Convention won't have to dodge pigeon droppings from birds that once landed on a historic post office across from the convention sight — Madison Square Garden. Electric shocks now zap the birds when they land. They're learning not to land there.
I bring up Skinner, a noted psychologist, because he notoriously used both positive and negative reinforcement on pigeons to shape their behavior, hence 'behaviorism.' His theories have since fallen out of favor, but apparently have still found a place in New York. Hey, whatever works.

Permalink | News and Views

August 12, 2004, 03:53 AM

Chron: Make that Bible go away!

By Phil Magness

The editorial we've all been expecting for several days has finally happened. Today's Houston Chronicle celebrates this week's order from a federally imposed robed tyrant that the Bible must be removed from a small half-century old monument to a Houston philanthropist on the grounds of the Harris County Civil Courthouse. As is increasingly the norm at the Chronicle, today's piece is a venom laced rant full of palpable logical inconsistencies, factual inaccuracies, and thinly vieled smears upon Christianity. Let us deconstruct it:
Two people responsible for the Bible's public display testified in federal court that they believe the United States is a Christian nation. One attributed the nation's greatness to Christianity.
For starters, let's look at the inaccuracy of this statement. Contrary to the Chronicle's assertion, the two people who testified their beliefs about Christianity's role in our nation [an apparent reference to former Judge John Devine and Harris County Judge Robert Eckels] are not “responsible for the Bible's public display.” The Star of Hope Mission is, and has been since 1956 when the monument was built there. So what, then, do Devine and Eckels have to do with it? Devine helped to organize a restoration of the monument in the late 1990's as is typically necessary from time to time for anything that is exposed to half a century's worth of the elements. The same restoration raised private money to finance the project and, in the process, returned an eyesore to its aesthetically respectable former self - an act that only the most rabid hater of Christianity itself could find objectionable. Eckels' only involvement was to attend a rally at the monument with religious organizations after the restoration - again an innocent enough act to any reasonable person, though not to certain judges and the Chronicle, who seem to believe that elected officials forfeit their right to publicly worship their God and Creator upon entering into office. Next we get this little gem of insight:
Those beliefs confirm that the Bible is there to promote the reading of the Bible and make necessary its removal from the government arena.
You read that right. They've apparently just now discovered that the Bible is meant to be read. Even more amazing, the fact that this Bible is intended to be used as the very same object that it is - a printed and bound Bible with coherently ordered words from the English language filling pages in succession - is professed by way of an egregious non-sequitur to somehow necessitate its prohibition from the public square. The Bible is meant to be read, therefore it must be removed. Though this type of thinking is asinine in its own right due to the simple fact that the removal does not necessarily derive in any way from the stated and self evident function of that Bible or any other (that is, to be read), one must wonder how the Chronicle would behave under alternate circumstances. Suppose for a moment that all of the witnesses in the case testified that the Bible was simply there to “look pretty.” Can anyone doubt for a moment that Kay Staley would have filed the exact same lawsuit or that the Chronicle would have thrown themselves behind her any differently than they did now? Most likely, those who support the monument would be treated to a an editorial barrage of snide and condescending attacks upon their sincerity. Clyde Peterson might even set aside his multi-gigabyte clipart file of anti-death penalty grim reapers to draw an original cartoon bashing the monument and, of course, one or more of the paper's hyperpartisan bureau chiefs-turned columnists by the weekend would simultaneously unleash their collectively retained bile. “Oh please. You really expect us to believe that?” would be their line instead of “Ah ha! You did intend for people to actually read the thing!” Continuing on, it seems that the Chronicle has bought fully into the plaintiff Kay Staley's claim to have been harassed by throngs of angry mean spirited Christians over her lawsuit. Though well publicized, this charge is certainly wanting of substantiation in at least the matter of its alleged severity. Despite the hype, neither the Chronicle nor Staley ever publicly substantiated the charge. An entire August 3rd article on the subject contained absolutely no specifics, describing the alleged “hate mail” with a single vague quotation from Staley herself: “They were very angry letters, not what I would like to think of as Christian.” If the events described in this statement and endorsed by the Chronicle happened the burden is upon them to demonstrate their respective charges. Undoubtedly Ms. Staley received feedback from her lawsuit, but common sense dictates that if indeed that included feedback of an uncivil and abusive nature, its cases were likely few and far between. Until she can show otherwise we should assume them to be the exception rather than the rule. Of course part and parcel to this assumption is a recognition that Ms. Staley's ability to discern a case of uncivil and improper feedback is questionable in its own right. If the simple sight of a Bible on a small sidewalk monument so greatly offends Ms. Staley that she is induced to file a lawsuit in federal court to remove it, one may reasonably perceive a similar propensity to mistake virtually all forms of disagreeing feedback no matter how honest or civil for hostile and abusive zealotry. Questions such as these and a need for substantiation matter little to the Chronicle, though, as they repeat Staley's accusations to the letter:
The plaintiff in the case, Houston real estate attorney Kay Staley, said she had received an avalanche of hate mail from Bible defenders. Apparently those zealots had overlooked, discounted or found it hard to live by the teachings of the New Testament.
Dontcha just love it when rabidly atheist liberals cloak themselves in the New Testament and start “lecturing” Christians about their holy texts on a moment's notice when they percieve that it could be used in an argument against the very same believers they despise? The Chronicle might as well be saying to all believers “your religion is garbage and we want it banished from the public, but you're horrible because we think you aren't abiding by what we think your religion says you should do.” Demonstrating that their assault on public worship is also an assault upon the free speech of the faithful, the Chronicle's tirade next targets those who publicly espoused the retention of the monument:
Protesters against the judge's ruling, including members of the clergy, made clear their concerns were religious. Before the ruling, Harris County Judge Robert Eckels and County Attorney Mike Stafford attended a church group-sponsored rally to support retaining the Bible.
Consider what is said here. Once again we learn that elected officials are expected to forfeit their religious beliefs and worship habits upon taking office. But even more disturbing, the Chronicle essentially tells us that the participation of clergy members in the defense of the monument is itself what makes the Bible display unconstitutional! Free speech must only apply when it's coming from left wing religion-hating banshees who are afraid of walking by an open Bible in daylight. Curiously, the Chronicle even decided to throw in a budget argument for its position:
An assistant county attorney argued in court that the county had nothing to do with the monument, which begs the question why the county is willing to spend $40,000 to retain the Bible display, not including the time of county attorneys.
Get that? It's not Kay Staley who cost us all $40,000 by filing a hypersensitivity-induced junk lawsuit after her sensibilities were “offended” by a tiny Bible display that nobody made her read and nobody made her look at in the first place. No, it's all Harris County's fault because some of its elected leaders like the monument and they didn't simply bow over and bulldoze the thing when she came along complaining! In reality we the taxpayers got stiffed with the bill for a frivolous lawsuit by an activist federal judge who had no business even taking this state case to begin with. The real kicker: one of Staley's main arguments against the monument was that Harris County pays about $90 a year for electricity to light it, yet her lawsuit cost the taxpayers over ten times the total electrical bill for the monument's entire 48 year run. Not one to simply leave the bill on the back of Harris County rather than the actual instigator, the Chronicle concludes its hit piece by assigning outright fault to Republican officeholders in county government.
Staley's attorney, Randall Kallinen, said county officials were just using the dispute for political gain. Kallinen said officials know the county will lose but have squandered tax dollars anyway. He's right. Now Judge Eckels proposes to waste even more tax dollars on a futile appeal.
Wow, now there's a credible expert statement. The attorney for the lady who sued to get the Bible removed says that the county will lose its appeal against him, so it must be true! And since Judge Eckels won't bow before the authority of the all seeing, all knowing super psychic crystal ball reader Randall Kallinen, he's at double fault! Lost upon the Chronicle, of course, is the fact that Kay Staley was the plaintiff in this suit - as in the person who filed it and caused it to happen when for the previous 48 years the monument stood without an objection. Just the same, Harris County was the defendant - they were the ones that got sued, not because they did anything to Ms. Staley and not out of any harm they actively inflicted upon her, but by simply doing nothing and leaving the monument as it is. Subscribers to Houston's leading misinformation source should take a close notice of editorial statements such as the one today. This is no “middle of the road” editorial page as James Howard Gibbons' fibs imply, and indeed the Chronicle is no “middle of the road” newspaper. They editorialize from a radical fringe of secular diversitopians and, as experience has demonstrated, they consciously inject the same editorial extremes into their everyday news coverage. The devout and even the average believer, be he from any denomination or sect in the Judeo-Christian world, has little voice at the Houston Chronicle's table and as today's editorial affirms, those who do control the printing press will go so far as to cite the simple free exercise of that voice as a basis for banning the Bible from public realms. Believers in God and His creation need not look to the Chronicle for defense of their liberties for it worships at the idolatrous altar of political correctness and avowed hostility to the truth.

Permalink | Chron Bias

August 11, 2004, 08:25 PM

Bible Attacks, Kills Hundreds In Houston (Satire)

By Matt Forge

Houston (CB) — An astute federal judge's order to remove the Bible from a memorial display located just outside the Harris County Civil Courts Building came too late as the religious book, learning of its fate, escaped and went on a violent rampage downtown killing hundreds and maiming countless others with nasty paper cuts. Kay Stailey, who had sued to have the Bible removed, felt vindicated with her critics saying, “I knew this would happen. I could tell it [the Bible] was dangerous and I felt threatened when I was next to it. I only wish this horrible tragedy could have been prevented.” The holy writ ran amok indiscriminately attacking innocent workers on their lunch break. Witnesses described the Bible's actions as “aggressive” and “decisive.” Those who found themselves in its path won't get a chance to tell their story except on their secular tombstones. After about an hour, a fleet of swift boat commandos snuck up behind the monster on Buffalo Bayou and launched a counter-attack. Their assault was partially successful in that they trapped it on top of the Houston Chronicle (a place which houses a different kind of holy writ). The Bible appeared to be cornered, but a beast in fight-or-flight mode can surprise you. It suddenly leaped down to the street and hastily headed towards Minute Maid Park where it was unexpectedly run over and killed by the MetroRail train. (The above story, though based on actual events, is satire or parody. It is meant for entertainment only and is NOT true.)

Permalink | Humor

August 11, 2004, 11:10 AM

Chron endorses imperial judiciary; urges citizens to bow down before our new judge-potentates

By Owen Courrèges

Apparently nobody at the Chronicle has actually read a copy of the US Constitution. I say this because they seem to honestly believe that the federal courts have unfettered authority to slap down whatever laws they want with no interference from Congress. You'll see what I mean in their latest staff editorial bashing the Marriage Protection Act:
Petulance is a corrupting influence on the lawmaking process. U.S. House members proved that when they passed a bill that would prohibit federal courts, including the Supreme Court, from considering challenges to state laws prohibiting recognition of same-sex unions authorized elsewhere. One of the testy lawmakers was Rep. Steve Pearce, R-New Mexico. According to the Boston Globe, Pearce asserting during floor debate that the matter of homosexual marriage “must be removed from the courts and taken back to the people. ... This is not a matter of rights. ... It's a matter of democracy.” Contrary to Pearce, democracy can hardly exist without the protection of the people's rights. Those rights are best ensured by the checks and balances that the executive, judicial and legislative branches of federal government exert upon one another. This three-way tension guarantees no single arm of government can do what the House is attempting: strip one group of people of the rights enjoyed by every other group, while infringing on the courts' power of judicial review. But 233 House lawmakers — put off by the Senate's recent refusal to advance a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage — forgot about the separation of powers and the court's power of judicial review.
No, it's the Chronicle that forgot about the separation of powers by endorsing a view that hands over unqualified powers to the judiciary with absolutely no recourse given to Congress save a constitutional amendment or impeachment (neither of which have any significance; Jefferson called impeachment a 'fig leaf'). This is certainly not the view of separation of powers held to by the founders. More specifically, however, the Chronicle forgot about Article III, Clause 2 of the constitution, which clearly states:
“...the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.”
There. Unless somebody wishes to claim that gay marriage cases could arrive at the Supreme Court through original jurisdiction, which would be ridiculous, then Congress has explicit authority granted by the constitution to step in and regulate. And as for lower courts — the constitution calls them 'inferior courts,' — only Congress has the authority establish them. Congress has the power “[t]o constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court” and to draft whatever laws it deems “necessary and proper” for establishing these courts. This means, I'm afraid, that federal judges are indeed beholden to Congress in a very meaningful way. But that, dear readers, is what the separation of powers was meant to be. Contrary to what the Chronicle believes, no branch of government was ever designed to have carte blanche. Judicial review exists, but it is not an unlimited power. 'Checks and balances' means there are no unlimited powers in the Constitution. The Marriage Protection Act merely recognizes this, and is therefore a legitimate use of legislative power.

Permalink | Chron Bias

August 11, 2004, 10:45 AM

New poll

By The Staff

We have a new poll question up today: “Was Judge Lake right to order the removal of the Bible from the Mosher monument?” You may answer this question here. The resulted from our previous poll can be found here. If you haven't been following the issue, I'd suggest reading our two posts on the subject, which can be found here and here. I don't think there should be any question as to where the staff of Chronically Biased stands on this issue, but of course all of you can decide for yourselves, even if you are unfathomably wrong. :)

Permalink | Staff Notes

August 11, 2004, 10:43 AM

Federal judge rules against Bible monument

By Owen Courrèges

Once again proving that the federal courts have a twisted, indefensible view of the First Amendment, U.S. District Judge Sim Lake ruled yesterday that the momument featuring a Bible outside the Civil Courts building downtown is an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion:
A federal judge ruled Tuesday that a Bible on display in a monument outside the Harris County Civil Courts Building is an unconstitutional promotion of religion by government, and ordered it removed within 10 days. U.S. District Judge Sim Lake also ordered the county to pay $36,810 in attorney fees and $3,776 in court costs, as federal law provides in civil rights cases. [...] Lake's 26-page opinion said the display fails two parts of the three-pronged Lemon test, named for a 1971 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. The test says that to get past the First Amendment ban against an establishment of religion, such a display must have a secular purpose, must not advance nor inhibit religion, and must not foster an excessive entanglement with religion. “The Bible atop the Mosher monument does not have a secular purpose, and the primary or principal effect of the Bible display is to advance religion,” Lake wrote. As evidence, he cited the Bible's prominent display, the lack of any explanation of its purpose — although a plaque mentions Mosher and Star of Hope — and the public ceremonies marking its restoration, featuring prayers and hymns, and the public protests against Staley's lawsuit. All these things, Lake wrote, would cause a reasonable viewer to “conclude that the Bible display conveys the message that Christianity is favored or preferred by Harris County.”
For the record, the Bible in question does have a secular purpose, even if Lake doesn't believe that's its obvious or meaningful enough. It is there to honor William Mosher, a philanthropist who was also a devout Christian. It is meant to honor him in a way he would have preferred. A 'reasonable person' would read the plaque on the monument, and conclude that it was designed to honor Mosher. A reasonable person would not simply glance at the Bible in the monument, draw a stupid conclusion, and then walk away. I don't know how Lake is defining 'reasonable,' but I certainly think that it would be most unreasonable for a viewer to look at the momument, with its plaque to William Mosher, and conclude that the Bible proclaims Harris County's undying endorsement of the Christian faith above all others. Lake's 'reasonable viewer,' then, strikes me as foolish. Lake, on the other hand, strikes me as yet another federal judge willing to use his power injudiciously and in such a way that is repugnant to the constitution. But I have a ready-made solution to all of this: Harris County should ignore Lake's ruling. I don't see President Bush, or even President Kerry, frankly, sending out the National Guard to remove the monument. And the damage done to the rule of law by ignoring the ruling is nothing compared to the damage done to our constitution when reckless rulings such as this are handed down. A stand needs to be made somewhere, and this is as good a place as any.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

August 11, 2004, 09:38 AM

Kerry Attacks: Demand Skyrockets

By Terry Bohannon

The Book, 'Unfit for Command' with Lurch's photo where Kerry's was with Kerry's face.
The first Lurch:
The real Lurch

Permalink | Humor

August 11, 2004, 09:33 AM

Today's Features

By Mona Lugay

Make sure you view our Features section for daily commentary on entertainment “wonders and blunders,” the sports world's best and worst shots, local high school sports updates, the great outdoors, a little miscellaneous humor and much more. Barry Chambers gives “his take” on Cruise and Fox in Collateral and Matt Malatesta lets you know who is making sure North Shore continues its football legacy.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

August 11, 2004, 05:55 AM

And so it begins...

By Matt Bramanti

The AP is reporting that Jerry Corsi, co-author of “Unfit for Command” has made comments ripping Catholics and Muslims.
In chat room entry last year on freerepublic.com, Corsi writes: “Islam is a peaceful religion — just as long as the women are beaten, the boys buggered and the infidels are killed.” In another entry, he says: “So this is what the last days of the Catholic Church are going to look like. Buggering boys undermines the moral base and the lawyers rip the gold off the Vatican (news - web sites) altars. We may get one more Pope, when this senile one dies, but that's probably about it.” Corsi, who described himself as a “devout Catholic,” said the comments are being taken out of context. “I considered them a joke,” said Corsi, who owns a financial services company and has written extensively on the anti-war movement.
The book, Amazon's #1 best-seller, will be released Sunday. Not surprisingly, handlers for Sen. John Kerry jumped all over this story, slinging vitriol at Corsi:
“President Bush should immediately condemn this sleazy book written by a virulent anti-Catholic bigot. It says something about the smear campaign against John Kerry that it has stooped to enlist a hatemonger,” said campaign spokesman Chad Clanton.
The AP was tipped off by a press release issued by Media Matters for America, a left-wing dedicated to rooting out bias. Its targets include outlets like the Drudge Report and the Fox News Channel. They can't seem to find any bias in the print media or networks.

Permalink | Media Watch

August 11, 2004, 05:50 AM

Hillary rings bell to open NYMEX

By Matt Bramanti

Former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton rang the opening bell to begin trading in the crude oil pit at the New York Mercantile Exchange on Wednesday. That's kind of a scary smile she's flashing. I bet she'd be a lot happier if she were at the Chicago Merc, where she could show those traders a thing or two about cattle futures.

Permalink | Humor

August 10, 2004, 10:00 PM

Train Story

By Rob Booth

The AP story on light-rail collisions that we've mentioned has been picked up by a few more news outlets. I thought I'd drop the links in here. For safe keeping. Akron Beacon Journal: Crashes Tarnish Houston Rail Reputation Atlanta Journal Constitution: Crashes Tarnish Houston Rail Reputation Biloxi Sun Herald: Crashes Tarnish Houston Rail Reputation Bradenton Herald: Crashes Tarnish Houston Rail Reputation Centre Daily Times: Crashes Tarnish Houston Rail Reputation Charlotte Observer: Crashes Tarnish Houston Rail Reputation Columbus Ledger-Enquirer: Crashes Tarnish Houston Rail Reputation Duluth News Tribune: Crashes Tarnish Houston Rail Reputation Fort Wayne News Sentinel: Crashes Tarnish Houston Rail Reputation Fort Worth Star Telegram: Crashes Tarnish Houston Rail Reputation Grand Forks Herald: Crashes Tarnish Houston Rail Reputation Guardian: Crashes Tarnish Houston Rail Reputation Kansas City Star: Crashes Tarnish Houston Rail Reputation Kansas.com: Crashes Tarnish Houston Rail Reputation Kentucky.com: Crashes Tarnish Houston Rail Reputation Macon Telegraph: Crashes Tarnish Houston Rail Reputation Miami Herald: Crashes Tarnish Houston Rail Reputation Monterey County Herald: Crashes Tarnish Houston Rail Reputation Myrtle Beach Sun News: Crashes Tarnish Houston Rail Reputation New York Newsday: Crashes Tarnish Houston Rail Reputation Newsday: Crashes Tarnish Houston Rail Reputation philly.com: Crashes Tarnish Houston Rail Reputation phillyburbs.com: Crashes Tarnish Houston Rail Reputation Pioneer Press: Crashes Tarnish Houston Rail Reputation San Jose Mercury News: Crashes Tarnish Houston Rail Reputation San Luis Obispo Tribune: Crashes Tarnish Houston Rail Reputation Seattle Post Intelligencer: Crashes Tarnish Houston Rail Reputation Tallahassee Democrat: Crashes Tarnish Houston Rail Reputation The Ledger: Crashes Tarnish Houston Rail Reputation Times Daily: Crashes Tarnish Houston Rail Reputation Tuscaloosa News: Crashes Tarnish Houston Rail Reputation Wilkes Barre Times-Leader: Crashes Tarnish Houston Rail Reputation Wilmington Morning Star: Crashes Tarnish Houston Rail Reputation WJLA: Crashes Tarnish Houston Rail Reputation Worcester Telegram: Crashes Tarnish Houston Rail Reputation It also got picked up by a site named Xposed.com. I took a look and decided not to link to it. If you're at work and click the link you might get in trouble. The Chronicle has still not picked up the story. I guess they don't run AP stories. Oh, wait, yes they do. They must have just missed this one.

Permalink | Houston's Light Rail

August 10, 2004, 04:24 PM

Paul N. “Red” Adair, 1915-2004

By Matt Bramanti

Legendary oilwell fireman and native Houstonian “Red” Adair was laid to rest today, prompting the Chronicle to cover his funeral:
Famed oil well firefighter Red Adair was remembered today as “a common man who did extraordinary things.” “Red is truly one of a kind,” longtime friend and Houston television anchorman Dave Ward said at Adair's funeral service. “In his dangerous line of work, his attention to detail paid off. He never lost a man.” Adair, born Paul but better known as Red, died Saturday of natural causes at a Houston hospital. He was 89.
Too bad it's a wire story. The man was born in Houston and grew up in the Heights. His Houston-based company was built around the Houston-centered oil industry. After a long and storied career, he died in Houston. Red Adair's importance to the oil industry and the world at large is difficult to overstate. Sure, he was the son of a blacksmith and a roughneck at heart, but his innovations changed the industry forever. His efforts in Iraq after the Persian Gulf War saved untold millions of barrels of oil, calmed jittery markets, and averted an catastrophic environmental nightmare. London's Daily Telegraph even reports that he was targeted for death by Iran. Considering Red Adair's importance to Houston, it's not too much to ask to have a Chronicle staff reporter write this article. After all, a Chron photographer was there to shoot the scene. Instead, a Chron reporter covered the funeral of Robert Onstead, who founded the Randalls chain of supermarkets. I don't mean this as a slight to Mr. Onstead, who I understand to be an honorable man, but the fact is that people can go to Kroger or HEB for their groceries. But when there was a wellhead burning on land or sea, there was only one man to call.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

August 10, 2004, 11:16 AM

New CIA Director: Congressman Goss

By Terry Bohannon

On July 11, George Tenet resigned as the CIA Director in the face of a scandal, that “the CIA provided false and unfounded assessments of the threat posed by Iraq that were used to justify going to war” (AP). Today, however, President Bush has nominated Congressman Porter Goss (R-FL) as the Director of the CIA. At first, this choice may raise some eyebrows, but we must remember that, as the President said, “Porter Goss brings a broad experience to this critical job. He's a former Army intelligence officer with a decade of experience in the CIA's clandestine service. He knows the agency, and he knows what is needed to strengthen it.” Not only does Congressman Goss have the experience to lead the CIA forward in its ability to penetrate terrorist organizations and regimes, he also has the political experience President Bush needs over the next four years. Since President Bush has committed to seeking a way to centralize America's intelligence agencies, choosing Porter Goss very well may be the best decision. With his background, Mr. Goss could help smooth what might otherwise become an uncomfortable transition.

Permalink | News and Views

August 10, 2004, 11:11 AM

Metro “improves” its service

By Matt Bramanti

Thanks to a recent Metro press release, we can keep abreast of the transit authority's schedule tweaks. Here's the beginning of the press release:
METRO will launch the following service improvements Sunday, Aug. 15: * 5 Kashmere Gardens/Southmore - Extend the 7:10 a.m. northbound trip to Homestead and Touchstone. * 67 Dairy Ashford Crosstown (weekdays) - Adjust frequency from 30 minutes to 32 minutes during peak hours (5 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.) to provide more reliable service; adjust frequency from 60 minutes to 50 minutes during midday hours (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.) to provide more reliable service; and extend the route to provide service to the HCC-Alief Campus.
You can read the rest, but I've done the math for you. 128 trips were deleted (mostly by making trips less frequent), 14 were added, and two routes were extended. That's right, folks, Metro “improved” its service by deliberately slowing down its buses, and cutting a net 114 weekly bus trips.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

August 10, 2004, 10:24 AM

'Robin Hood' on trial

By Owen Courrèges

This should be an interesting case, and a very relevant one to all Texans who pay property taxes and/or have children in public schools (from ABC 13):
A Travis County judge has begun listening to arguments today in a lawsuit challenging the way the state finances public education. Hundreds of Texas school districts — both rich and poor — have joined the lawsuit against the state. They argue that Texas schools are underfunded and that a cap on local property taxes amounts to an illegal statewide property tax. They say Texas has fallen short of its constitutional responsibility to provide “a general diffusion of knowledge.”
I recall that the Texas Supreme Court already ruled Robin Hood constitutional (with Justice John Cornyn's vote raising the ire of many conservatives, including then Governor Bush). Still, who knows — perhaps we'll have a different outcome this time around. At least then the state will have to confront the issue head-on, rather than indulging this woefully less-than-fair stopgap measure.

Permalink | News and Views - Texas

August 10, 2004, 09:31 AM

Today's Features

By Mona Lugay

Make sure you view our Features section for daily commentary on entertainment “wonders and blunders,” the sports world's best and worst shots, local high school sports updates, the great outdoors, a little miscellaneous humor and much more. Dan Lovett votes for hope and chastises Hollywood and Bob Willems says making movies isn't as expensive as you think, it's the new revolution.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

August 10, 2004, 08:00 AM

Chron: 'Articulate' = 'Racist'

By Owen Courrèges

I'm establishing a new rule — if you can't do intelligent political commentary, don't even try. I bring this up because, in a Sounding Board column that ran in the Chronicle yesterday, Andrea Georgsson made the following comment in reference to the selection of Alan Keyes for the Republican senatorial nomination in Illinois:
The Illinois Leader, a conservative online newsletter, endorsed Keyes' candidacy on Friday, actually referring to the former U.S. ambassador as “articulate.” It's just a little thing, but “articulate” is a term that activates black people's insult radar. It is meant as a compliment, but overuse by whites to describe blacks gives it a patronizing ring. As in, “U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is very articulate.”
I like Alan Keyes, but let's face it: he's virtually defined by his verbose right-wing tirades. He's never achieved an elected federal office before, and his previous presidential campaigns have been less than awe-inspiring. If you want to compliment Alan Keyes, then, you're likely to reference the one thing he's been really good at, and that's giving impassioned speeches. Now Georgsson undoubtedly knows this, but she couldn't resist trotting out the old, tired mantra that referring to a black person as 'articulate' is somehow universally patronizing. That's dull, unoriginal, and inaccurate. In other words, it's standard practice for the Chronicle.

Permalink | Chron Bias

August 10, 2004, 06:21 AM

Deja Vu All Over Again

By Rob Booth

I thought some of the info in today's Lucas Wall article looked familiar. We reported that a Valley TV station put out this news last week. Later, I found the press release on the Texans web site. I noticed something interesting in the quotes in today's articles. Here's a quote from the Chronicle article:
“We have been anticipating the completion of MetroRail since we opened the stadium in 2002,” said Jamey Rootes, the Texans' senior vice president. “It will take our fans a few games to get comfortable with this new game-day service, but we see it as an opportunity for fans to build new game-day traditions by riding to the games together and enjoying the many entertainment options that are available along the Main Street line before and after games.”
Here's the quote from the Texans web site:
“We have been anticipating the completion of MetroRail since we opened the stadium in 2002,” Texans Senior Vice President Jamey Rootes said. “Metro Park and Ride was available as a service to assist fans until light rail was up and running. Over the past year we have worked closely with Metro and Houston officials to create our rail plan. It will take our fans a few games to get comfortable with this new game day service, but we see it as an opportunity for fans to build new game day traditions - by riding to the games together and enjoying the many entertainment options that are available along the Main Street line before and after games.”
Chronicle quote:
“This will give Texans' fans an opportunity to visit restaurants and shops along the light rail line,” said Barry Mandel, president and CEO of the Houston Downtown Alliance. “They can also enjoy the entertainment of downtown after the game.”
Texans quote:
“We're excited to be working with the Texans on utilizing the light rail during games,” Barry Mandel, the Executive Director of the Houston Downtown Alliance. “This will give Texans' fans an opportunity to visit restaurants and shops along the light rail line. They can also enjoy the entertainment of downtown after the game. We're really excited about this new opportunity for fans and for the city of Houston.”
Now, there's nothing wrong with cutting and pasting from a press release, that's the purpose of press releases. Some people regard bloggers as being cut-and-paste non-journalists, but at least here, we can smugly say that we got this info to you before the Chronicle. It's also interesting to see the loss of a choice (shuttle buses) being described as an “opportunity.”

Permalink | Houston's Light Rail

August 09, 2004, 05:19 PM

Lucas continues Metro crusade

By Matt Bramanti

In today's Chronicle, Lucas Wall reports on the Houston-Galveston Area Council's efforts to stop solo drivers. It starts off with this lead:
Houstonians, leave your car at home. That's a tough sell in this automobile-crazed region, but officials with the local council of governments are pleading for commuters to give it a shot at least once this month as part of their efforts to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution.
Crazed, huh? I guess people who dare to drive their cars are in some sort of delusional mental state, hypnotized by the sound of Goodyears on concrete. No, Lucas, I won't leave my car at home. And it's not because of your bad grammar. It's because Metro buses and trains don't go where I do, even when they're running. It's because I'm not going to rearrange my schedule, or that of my company, around some fuzzy notion of the common good. It's because the Houston heat and a 15-mile commute make walking or biking impractical. Only 23 more days of Commute Solutions Month, folks. We can make it.

Permalink | Houston's Light Rail

August 09, 2004, 12:58 PM

Are Shoppers being Duped?

By Terry Bohannon

For years, the distinct and popular look of the tan against brown print on a Louis Vuitton purse has depleted the savings of many boyfriends, husbands, and even fathers. The purse makes girls feel as though they're special just because they have an iconic and expensive purse at their sides. The purses are in high demand, and they can cost anywhere from about $250 for a small pochette (wallet) to $1,100 for a small briefcase. The standard purse (pictured) costs somewhere around $520, indeed, that's no small change. Because of the high costs, though far more for the social statement they bring, there have been crops of counterfeiters producing these bags around the world. Marketing to those girls and women who want the look without the cost. This problem has not left Houston unscathed. Houston, as this AP release published by KHOU shows, is the third largest supplier of counterfeit goods:
Federal inspectors are working to stem the flow of knockoff Louis Vuitton and Coach handbags and other items coming from Houston, which lags behind only New York and Los Angeles in supplying counterfeit products to the rest of the nation. Last year, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials seized fake goods valued at $22 million in the Houston area alone. Nearly all of these seizures led to Harwin, a retail area in the western part of the city where police in the past five years have made 70 arrests on counterfeiting charges, the Houston Chronicle reported Sunday.
This news, unfortunately, doesn't help establish a good name for Houston. Not only does our train have an accident rate 20 times higher than the national average, as the Dallas Morning News printed, which succeeds, as Rob pointed out, at bringing a bad reputation to Houston. Our city might just have the tag “counterfeit capital of the south” added to its reputation. There's only one thing we can do. When a deal on a Louis Vuitton or Gucci purse looks too good to be true, for the women and the men who shop for them in this audience, we should ask the store where they got it. And if they act defensive, we should walk out and shop somewhere else. The best way to fight counterfeiting is to leave the fakes on the rack, unsold, where they belong.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

August 09, 2004, 12:31 PM

This just in! Stop the presses!

By Matt Bramanti

In today's Chron Wrap-Ups, La Monica Everett-Haynes (yes, I think that's her real name) reports on a survey of local executives.
When a sampling of area executives was asked during a recent survey to name a state university, less than half named the University of Houston. No executive or community leader named the University of Houston-Victoria, one of the system's four universities.
And this is news? When you ask someone to name something from any category, that person is going to pick the biggest, most prominent thing. If the category is hamburger joints, people will say McDonald's or Jack in the Box, not Roznovsky's (which is great). If it's delivery companies, they'll say FedEx or UPS, not Lone Star Express. If it's beers, they'll say Budweiser or Coors, not St. Arnold's. And if the category is universities, they'll say Texas or A&M. The Chron quotes the UH System board's vice-chair in order to make this situation look like a slight against UH, but it's really a non-issue.

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

August 09, 2004, 10:01 AM

Wham-Bam Tram

By Rob Booth

Following up to Owen's post, Channel 2 has picked up the AP story that heavily quotes critics of our toy train. Over the past week, the story has appeared in the Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, News 8 Austin, the Denton Record Chronicle, KVUE, KTRK, Team 4 News, and KLTV. I haven't seen it in the Houston Chronicle yet. Imagine that.

Permalink | Houston's Light Rail

August 09, 2004, 10:00 AM

Today's Features

By Mona Lugay

Make sure you view our Features section for daily commentary on entertainment “wonders and blunders,” the sports world's best and worst shots, local high school sports updates, the great outdoors, a little miscellaneous humor and much more. Matt Malatesta gives us the scoop on Houston's latest recruit, Greg Berlocher gives helpful tips on keeping your dog cool this hunting season and Barry Chambers gives “his take” on movie anticipation.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

August 09, 2004, 10:00 AM

AP takes notice of the 'Danger Train'

By Owen Courrèges

Although the Chronicle may be cutting its coverage of Metrorail collisions, the national media, particularly the Associated Press, has been taking notice of light rail's extraordinarily high accident rate in Houston:
Once called the “train to nowhere,” Houston's new rail line between downtown and the Astrodome is earning a few new nicknames — “Danger Train,” the “Wham Bam Tram” and “A Streetcar Named Disaster.” More than 50 collisions have occurred along the 7.5-route since it opened in November, prompting residents to keep a running tally on Web sites and transportation experts to suggest raising the line above street level. Rail promoters promised the sleek gray trains would take cars off the road, “they've just done it one car at a time,” said John Gaver, who started the Wham-Bam-Tram counter, a Web site that chronicles each crash. The MetroRail averages six crashes a month — a rate 20 times worse than the national average for the nation's 17 light rail systems, according to the Federal Transit Administration.
Oh, and I suppose that this is all the fault of bad drivers? Pfft. As John Stossel would say: Give me a break.

Permalink | Houston's Light Rail

August 09, 2004, 09:50 AM

Metro finally caves, offers refunds

By Matt Bramanti

It looks like the folks at METRO have finally agreed to offer refunds to riders who were stiffed on Stored Value Cards. But, the story also serves as a plug for the embattled transit authority:
Riders who bought their value cards from Metro or a retailer may exchange them for credit toward a weekly, monthly or annual pass (valid on buses and trains) at three downtown Metro locations: 720 Main, 1001 Travis or 1201 Louisiana.
The refund option is mentioned as an afterthought. I guess the Chron editors can't imagine why anyone would want their money back after being ripped off, when they can just ride more METRO! While this decision comes too late, it's a testament to what can be done when active citizens, like our readers, put pressure on entrenched local government. Good work, Houston!

Permalink | Houston's Light Rail

August 09, 2004, 08:00 AM

Kerry and 'the Watchmen'

By Owen Courrèges

I don't usually discuss this here, but I'm a big fan of comic books. My collection is massive and ever-growing. Everything I buy is read dozens of times over, the dog-eared pages stuffed in bookcases and stacked under my bed. Suffice to say that comics have always been my little obsession. Anyway, I've spent the past few days reading 'The Watchmen,' a series published 1985 and recently reprinted as a graphic novel (i.e. an extended comic that reads as a novel). It's a very interesting read — I'd recommend it to anyone. One thing that struck me, however, was where its title came from — from the speech that Kennedy was supposed to give the day he was assassinated in Dallas. I wanted to read this speech, to see the context, and so I plugged the quoted section from 'The Watchmen' into Google. What I found near the top of the page was something unexpected from FreeRepublic, dated July 21st:
A few weeks ago, John Kerry gave a foreign policy speech in Seattle — another of his criticisms of the Bush Administration for “going it alone” instead of “assembling a team.” The speech was uninspiring, but it ended with a rhetorical flourish, as Kerry assured his audience he would lead a great alliance: “We do not have to live in fear or stand alone. We don`t have to be a lonely watchman on the walls of freedom.” Shortly thereafter, the American Spectator noted that Kerry had actually cribbed the ending to his speech, borrowing — without acknowledgment — from the final paragraph of the speech John F. Kennedy was to have given on the day he was assassinated. In that speech, Kennedy`s last paragraph had begun with this sentence: “We, in this country, in this generation, are — by destiny rather than by choice — the watchmen on the walls of world freedom.”
Yes, Kerry actually ripped off a line from the speech JFK was supposed to give the day of his death. All I was looking for was a copy of the speech that inspired the title of a graphic novel that I had been reading. Instead I discovered yet another piece of evidence pointing to Kerry's fundamental lack of originality and ethics. There are no doubt other such examples; the fact that I stumbled upon this so inadvertantly is evidence enough of that. But has Kerry been called down for this plagiarism? No. It would appear that he's getting a pass from the media. Swift Boat Veterans for Truth has been placed under a microscope, but has Kerry? Again, the answer is no. He's been handled with kid gloves. I suppose that's what the media is best at — only telling the side of the story it wants to tell. They certainly aren't 'the watchmen' we need them to be.

Permalink | News and Views

August 09, 2004, 06:31 AM

SBV Letter

By Rob Booth

Big thanks to Beldar for pointing us to this article in Captain's Quarters. Apparently Senator Kerry's campaign has sent out letters to TV stations trying to stop them from showing the Swift Boat Vets (SBV) ad. SBV has sent out a very interesting and detailed letter in response.

Permalink | News and Views

August 08, 2004, 05:32 PM

I'm reading the Chronicle, so you don't have to....

By Rob Booth

News flash! Clay Robison insults Republicans. In today's column, Mr. Robison details the efforts of the two major political parties to attract the youth vote. It's fairly straightforward, starts out like this: Houston Chronicle: GOP's voter rig is up and running and the race is on
The future of the free world, the Republican Party believes, may be riding on an 18-wheeler named Reggie that has been crisscrossing the country on a voter-registration tour of county fairs, wrestling matches and NASCAR races. Democrats, at their recent convention in Boston, showcased young people on stage. From hip-hoppers to bloggers, almost every cultural idol and entertainment option with appeal to the under-30 generation — except, perhaps, SpongeBob and Scooby-Doo — is being drafted into the political arena this year in an energetic drive to attract youthful voters.
So the article goes on, it's semi-interesting. On any given day I'd probably stop reading and move on to something else. Fortunately, dear reader, I kept on and found this gem at the end:
If the survey results are accurate, Reggie the Republican truck has had his work cut out for him. The GOP, after all, didn't randomly schedule many of his voter-registration stops at wrestling arenas and auto racetracks. Those two venues don't require college entrance exams and are heavily populated by conservatives.
Emphasis added. So, Mr. Robison makes two assumptions here, 1. that people who go to auto racetracks and WWE matches aren't that bright and 2. that conservatives go to both of these events. Well, I do neither, but I have known some folks who do and I wouldn't describe them as not being college material. Some days I have trouble finding material in the Chronicle to cite as bias. I was beginning to think that maybe they were improving. Nah, they're probably just getting better at hiding it at the end of articles. I've got you all figured out now, hah! Interesting how the bias here is almost a caricature of the elitist attitude, of which many conservatives accuse liberals. I guess the brie-and-chablis crowd really has a weird view of the rest of us in fly-over country.

Permalink | Noxious Chron Columnists

August 08, 2004, 12:38 PM

The Vice President answers:

By Terry Bohannon

Friday, the Vice President spoke at a town hall meeting in East Grand Forks, Minnesota. As we have covered here and here, last week the New York Times broke a story which implied that the recent terror alert was mostly based on old intelligence. At Cabela's Sporting Goods Store during that town hall meeting, Vice President Cheney was asked about this claim and other claims that there was “more recent intelligence that justified that increased alert.” To that, he answers: THE VICE PRESIDENT: Sure. Don't believe everything you see in the press. (Laughter and applause.) The fact is that we have released a lot of detailed information this time around. Periodically, we will intercept information, collect intelligence that leads us to believe that somebody is planning a particular type of an operation. And you're always walking a fine line of when you go public with that and alert people to the possibility, and when you not go public. And if you do it too often, people become kind of blasé about the whole thing and don't pay attention. And there are only so many times you can go back to the well, if you will, with that sort of thing. So when we do it, we're very sensitive to the obligation we have to give as much information out as we can without destroying sources and methods. You've got protect sources and methods so you can't reveal absolutely everything. But this latest alert comes from some very detailed information, some of it was collected several years ago. But that is not surprising with the way these people work. And what I've found, I guess, objectionable about some of the reporting I saw on it was the assumption that because data might have been collected four or five years ago, it shouldn't — it was irrelevant, or we shouldn't rely on it. Remember how this organization functions: they operate based on their own timetable. They are meticulous planners. They are very, very disciplined, and they're lethal. And think back to the World Trade Center bombing 1993, the first one, they tried to take down the tower by running a truckload of explosives into the basements in the hopes they'd be able to shatter the columns and drop the whole thing — somewhat similar to the way they hit the different group, because that was Hezbollah, hit the Marine barracks in Lebanon in '83. You may remember there, they drove a truck into the lobby of this hotel and brought down the whole thing. It didn't work in '93. Lo and behold, eight years later, they're back with a whole different plan to hit the World Trade Center. And that attack in 2001, as I say, was first planned five years before, in 1996, when Khalid Shaykh Muhammad first started talking about it. If you go look at the East Africa embassy bombings that occurred in 1998, a lot of the basic casing information, where somebody would go and case the site, and look at the security, and look at all the approach routes, and do a very, very detailed work-up on the vulnerabilities of those facilities, that work was done about five years before the attack. So for the press, or anybody else to say, well, this is old data. It was collected three, four years ago, hogwash. Don't believe it for a minute, it's not true that that's not relevant. It shows you also — it is so detailed, it shows the extent to which these people plan carefully and meticulously every single move they make. And they're not working on our timetable. They don't think in terms of weeks or months. If it takes years, they're prepared to wait for years to do it. So for us to operate on any other basis than that this is not a serious threat would be a real mistake. Plus, there is additional information that we didn't give to The New York Times or anybody else — it's sensitive, you got to protect sources and methods — and there's a real live, honest-to-goodness threat out there, or we wouldn't have made it public as we have.

Permalink | News and Views

August 08, 2004, 08:36 AM

Good Question

By Matt Forge

Permalink | Political Cartoons

August 08, 2004, 08:30 AM

Fighting In Politics and The Politics Of Fighting

By Matt Forge

The political arena has seen its fair share of dirty fights throughout the ages. Cheap shots and below-the-belt blows have been commonplace and somewhat expected to a certain extent. But what has now become expected is the uncommon notion that one side is not supposed to enter the bout at all — and if they do, anything they try, whether defensive or offensive in nature, is decried as “dirty tricks” and “foul play.” Even that side's own colleagues can sometimes be heard shouting in a raspy voice with one eye squinting, “Don't get back up! Stay down and you won't get hurt!” It's now time to get the 'Rocky' theme playing in your head... In the blue corner (to your left) weighing in on sociopolitical issues such as abortion rights, gay marriage and preserving the natural habitat of the web-toed yellow-bellied sap-sucker chicken-finch, is the liberals' champion. He's in it for all the right reasons and can do whatever it takes to win (especially since the media-referees always have their backs to him). In the red corner (to your right) is the evil conservative challenger who's just in it for the prize money. He will automatically incur a warning if he enters the ring (no matter how fancy it's done), and he must stand completely still while only being allowed to block incoming jabs or attempt to punch the other guy with his own face or groin.
Yo Adrian, now that the rules have been explained the fight can begin (ding-ding). And yo readers, please accept my apologies if you can't quite KO the 'Rocky' theme from your consciousness.

Permalink | Political Cartoons

August 07, 2004, 06:50 PM

We will Never Forget!

By Terry Bohannon

The left continues to act as though we're still in a pre-9/11 world. Even when they admit 9/11 has happened, they reduce the terrorist acts to political fodder and serious threats to a red herring. Kerry has done just that. Last Thursday, at the UNITY Conference, even though it is not in his official transcript, Kerry said, “Had I been reading to children and had my top aide whispered into my ear, 'America was under attack,' I would have told those kids very politely and nicely that, the president of the United States had something he needed to attend to.” Kerry has used 9/11 as political fodder in an attempt to prove himself a better leader than President Bush. Unfortunately for Kerry, though, the statement only proves a lack of creativity on his part. At the beginning of Fahrenheit 9/11, after resuscitating the painful memories of 9/11, Michael Moore cynically questions the time President Bush spent when he listened to schoolchildren read “My Pet Goat” (watch the very touching video, 11 min.). We must not be sidetracked by such a small issue as this. President Bush's leadership shined in the weeks and months following 9/11. The 19 terrorists, in bringing down the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon, shook the world to its bones. With our President's leadership, countries like Jordan came to our support. On September 28, 2001, King Abdulla said what the terrorists “stand for is completely against all the principles that Arab Muslims believe in. And so, on those principles alone, I think it will be very, very easy for people to stand together.” Kerry, as he made clear in his said resolve to go to the U.N. first, would not have secured such an ally. In fact, I can see truth in what Kerry said in his UNITY speech (also not in the official transcript), that the choice for president is “a tough judgment you have to make. But I believe in this case, there is a very clear choice.” The choice is clear, very clear indeed. And so that we may never forget, President Bush's “Address to the Nation” given on September 11, 2001: Statement by the President in his Address to the Nation (video) http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/09/20010911-16.html 8:30 P.M. EDT THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts. The victims were in airplanes, or in their offices; secretaries, businessmen and women, military and federal workers; moms and dads, friends and neighbors. Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror. The pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge structures collapsing, have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness, and a quiet, unyielding anger. These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed; our country is strong. A great people has been moved to defend a great nation. Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shattered steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve. America was targeted for attack because we're the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining. Today, our nation saw evil, the very worst of human nature. And we responded with the best of America — with the daring of our rescue workers, with the caring for strangers and neighbors who came to give blood and help in any way they could. Immediately following the first attack, I implemented our government's emergency response plans. Our military is powerful, and it's prepared. Our emergency teams are working in New York City and Washington, D.C. to help with local rescue efforts. Our first priority is to get help to those who have been injured, and to take every precaution to protect our citizens at home and around the world from further attacks. The functions of our government continue without interruption. Federal agencies in Washington which had to be evacuated today are reopening for essential personnel tonight, and will be open for business tomorrow. Our financial institutions remain strong, and the American economy will be open for business, as well. The search is underway for those who are behind these evil acts. I've directed the full resources of our intelligence and law enforcement communities to find those responsible and to bring them to justice. We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them. I appreciate so very much the members of Congress who have joined me in strongly condemning these attacks. And on behalf of the American people, I thank the many world leaders who have called to offer their condolences and assistance. America and our friends and allies join with all those who want peace and security in the world, and we stand together to win the war against terrorism. Tonight, I ask for your prayers for all those who grieve, for the children whose worlds have been shattered, for all whose sense of safety and security has been threatened. And I pray they will be comforted by a power greater than any of us, spoken through the ages in Psalm 23: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me.” This is a day when all Americans from every walk of life unite in our resolve for justice and peace. America has stood down enemies before, and we will do so this time. None of us will ever forget this day. Yet, we go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our world. Thank you. Good night, and God bless America. END 8:35 P.M. EDT

Permalink | News and Views

August 07, 2004, 12:06 PM

Not your average Metro crash

By Matt Bramanti

This one was pretty interesting:
A 30-minute police chase ended late Friday when a stolen MetroLift shuttle bus slammed into a utility pole on the city's northeast side. A man who got off the bus and swung a shovel at a police officer was arrested at the scene in the 7600 block of North Wayside, police said. The man attempted to run before being captured by police officers and K-9 dogs in front of a convenience store.
Now, I have a few questions after reading this story: 1. Why are Metro buses, which I help pay for, kept somewhere where they can be stolen? 2. Why wasn't this chase ended before a half hour? I would think among three police agencies, someone could end the chase sooner via spikes across the road, gunfire, crashing into the guy, etc. 3. Why did the bus thief have a shovel on him?

Permalink | Houston's Light Rail

August 07, 2004, 11:06 AM

Sports authority borrows to cover debts

By Matt Bramanti

In a case reminiscent of a chronic deadbeat, the Houston-Harris County Sports Authority is borrowing money in order to pay its debts. While the authority tries to play this off as a non-issue, it reveals a fundamental flaw in how the county pays for its sports facilities:
Many of those who supported building the venues said the county's residents would not pay the bills — they would be borne by visitors who stayed in local hotels and rented cars. “The taxpayers of Harris County really aren't affected,” said Sue Millican, the authority's chief financial officer. But Paul Bettencourt, Harris County tax assessor-collector, has estimated that about half of car-rental taxes are paid by county residents and businesses and about one-third of the taxes collected by the sports authority come from within the county. “It's just three, four, five years after the elections, and already they're selling more bonds,” he said. “This is a big concern to me, and it should be to taxpayers.”
If the authority can't afford its debt service now, how can Millican possibly say taxpayers won't be affected by more debt?
The authority, however, convinced the rating agencies and MBIA that revenues will begin hitting the projected annual 3 percent increases in the coming years.
Does anyone see this happening, with the existing track record of failure?

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

August 07, 2004, 07:00 AM

UT and A&M to build telescope in Chile

By Owen Courrèges

Trouble brewing...
The University of Texas and Texas A&M University are planning to construct what they call the world's largest telescope with the help of a Houston businessman's $1.25 million gift. Scientists say that the proposed $400 million Giant Magellan Telescope would collect 70 times more light than NASA's successful Hubble Space Telescope and could produce images that are 10 times sharper. The new scope could be placed atop the Andes Mountains in Chile as early as 2015, permitting scientists to view the earliest formation of planets and galaxies.
UT and Texas A&M? Partners? This is like pairing dogs with cats. I just hope they don't destroy each other before the telescope can be built. Enemies united in a common cause; there's a novel here, somewhere. In all seriousness, though, this looks to be a good, productive venture for both schools, even if it is a very unlikely partnership.

Permalink | News and Views - Texas

August 06, 2004, 05:30 PM

Chron serves up ACLU press release

By Matt Bramanti

Harvey Rice serves as the American Civil Liberties Union's mouthpiece in this story, in which the new ACLU Houston chapter's president accuses Harris County's courts and police departments of systematically prosecuting and killing poor folks.
He said lawyers chosen to represent the poor are overworked and appointed more for their willingness to get their clients to plead guilty than for giving the best legal advice. Defense lawyers are chosen in a secret ballot by judges who want attorneys who will help them clear their dockets, he said. “They are less likely to get appointed if they take a case to trial.” Kallinen wants to abolish the secret vote because it allows judges to exclude attorneys who criticize the system.
Kallinen doesn't offer any evidence for the charge, but the Chron doesn't care. The story also implies that the county is refusing to obey state law regarding criminal defense for the poor:
One priority for Randall Kallinen, 44, who has been involved in several high-profile civil rights cases, is pressuring Harris County to abide by the 2001 Texas Fair Defense Act aimed at providing legal representation for poor defendants. “The Fair Defense Act enacted three years ago has not been fully implemented in Harris County,” Kallinen said, noting that the county received a D rating when it was evaluated by the nonprofit Texas Appleseed law center. The 2002 report gave state district courts in Harris County A, B, C and three D's.
I don't know how the liberal Texas Appleseed center compiles its grade point average, but A+B+C+D+D+D works out to a 2.0, or “C” grade. But the story just wouldn't be vintage Chron without terrible writing. Here are the first and last sentences of the piece (emphasis added):
The new president of the American Civil Liberties Union's Houston chapter is aiming to shake up the Harris County judicial system, monitor law enforcement misconduct and make sure the Arab and Muslim communities are not mistreated. (snip) He also will work on making sure the Arab and Muslim communities are not mistreated.
Again, no evidence to support the implication that these communities are in danger of mistreatment at the hands of unnamed perpetrators. Just an inflammatory assertion. Twice.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

August 06, 2004, 05:15 PM

Chron has sympathy for fugitive hit-and-run killer

By Matt Bramanti

Today's paper delves into the past of Breanna Zipf, the pot-smoking 17-year-old who killed a pedestrian in a hit-and-run accident before fleeing the state. Not surprisingly, we learn that the girl had a history of drug use, family violence, and running away. What is surprising is how the Chronicle tries to absolve her of responsibility, by quoting people who feel sorry for the poor girl:
“She's been devastated since it happened,” [Zipf's father] said outside the courtroom. “She was going to the memorial every day lighting candles. She wasn't trying to flee — we were just trying to get her into a better environment where she could have the support of her family.”
I don't know what's more appalling: that her own parents are denying the obvious, or that the Chronicle didn't pick up on the father's admission that he helped this girl escape justice.
“She's not a bad kid, just a person that makes wrong decisions,” [Deputy Richard] Lennox said. “I've seen her when she can be nice, she can be considerate.
Here are the ”wrong decisions" I can catalog so far: driving without a license, driving a rental car without authorization, speeding, running a stop sign, smoking marijuana, driving under the influence of marijuana, KILLING A WOMAN, failing to render aid, fleeing the scene of an accident, and fleeing the state to avoid prosecution. And that was in just one night! Call me harsh, but these aren't just youthful mistakes. These are the marks of a bad kid, who will grow up to be a bad adult. In the interests of faux fairness, the Chron gives two short quotes from neighbors who knew that Zipf was a budding criminal. But the overall balance of the article is skewed. It attempts to further erode the notion of personal responsibility, and it completely ignores the shattered lives Zipf left behind.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

August 06, 2004, 09:53 AM

Houston's 'sanctuary' policy draws fire

By Owen Courrèges

I wasn't even aware that such a bone-headed policy existed, but according to this article in today's Chron, Houston and four other cities in the United States restrict their ability of local police to cooperate with federal immigration officials. They call it 'sanctuary:'
September 11 Commission member John Lehman Thursday criticized so-called “sanctuary” practices in Houston and elsewhere that restrict cooperation between local police and federal immigration officials as an invitation to terrorists looking to enter the United States. “It is ridiculous that five cities in the United States do not allow local police to cooperate with the federal immigration service,” said Lehman, visiting Houston to lobby for Sept. 11 commission report recommendations. “The terrorists know” which cities have such policies, Lehman said, naming Houston and Los Angeles among those cities.
Mind you, I understand how this developed. In cities with very high populations of illegal immigrants, there's a drive for local police not to be seen as the equivalent of immigration officers. There's a desire to stay out of the fray. That's fine; I understand that. I still think it's a deplorable, cowardly policy, but I can at least understand. However, we have reached a point in our nation when local law enforcement cannot afford not to cooperate with federal immigration officials. Terrorism is a major threat — it has been since September 11th. And today, 'sanctuary' for illegals means 'sanctuary' for terrorists. We cannot afford this gap in our security, and I don't want Houston to be a part of the problem.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

August 06, 2004, 08:31 AM

Today's Features

By Mona Lugay

Make sure you view our Features section for daily commentary on entertainment “wonders and blunders,” the sports world's best and worst shots, local high school sports updates, the great outdoors, a little miscellaneous humor and much more. Matt Malatesta gives us the scoop on Houston's latest recruit, Jeremy Weidenhof says tax breaks are a joke, Dan Lovett gets you ready for the football pre-season and Barry Chambers tells you what he thinks about The Village.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

August 06, 2004, 08:00 AM

Report: Chronicle will no longer cover METRO accidents

By Phil Magness

ChronicallyBiased.com has learned of an apparent new Houston Chronicle policy regarding light rail's notorious accident rate. The Chronicle will not provide coverage of many Metrorail collisions. News of the policy appears in an message by the Chronicle's Lucas Wall on Wednesday:
From: “Wall, Lucas” [email protected] Date: Wed Aug 4, 2004 3:46 pm Subject: MetroRail Crash Numbers I’m not going to continue this debate. But FYI, the Chronicle is no longer reporting every light rail collision in the paper. This decision has to do with space constraints and the fact we do not report on every fender bender car crash. But we are keeping a database on every light rail crash. So just because you haven’t seen 55 crashes in the paper doesn’t mean that’s not the current total. ... Lucas Wall Transportation Reporter Houston Chronicle Read my Move It! column every Monday on Page B2.
Wall's message was received and circulated over e-mail by Spence Kerrigan, a longtime activist and critic of MetroRail. The Chronicle's new policy is by no means the first time that the paper has apparently sought to keep news of MetroRail collisions off the front page. As we reported last May, the Chronicle's coverage of MetroRail accidents has been the least in depth of any major Houston media outlet. Of 24 MetroRail collisions examined at the time, the Chronicle omitted significant details that were reported by one or more television stations in over half of the accidents (specifically 14 out of the 24). The Chronicle's coverage style also tended to favor the “News Brief” format over full length articles, which were employed on TV station news websites for a majority of the cases. “News Briefs” provide few details, seldom exceed three or four sentences, and appear buried deep within the back pages of the newspaper. While space is indeed a concern of any news outlet, the Chronicle's decision to cut back on its coverage of MetroRail collisions runs counter to the public interest due to the importance of the policies at stake. MetroRail's abnormal propensity for collisions has far exceeded the nation's average for light rail systems and is on track to set a new record for collisions in its first year of operation. The collision-prone trains are also at the center of an ongoing debate involving the design of future expansions to the MetroRail system. The fact that the Chronicle frequently devotes entire full length stories to minor and inconsequential route alterations, fare changes, special event schedules, and operating hour modifications by the Metropolitan Transit Authority further demonstrates that the “lack of space” excuse is a red herring. The Chronicle bends over backwards to regurgitate virtually every positive press release to emerge from the Lee P. Brown METRO Transportation Building, yet they suddenly cannot find room to cover accidents, which reflect poorly on MetroRail. Given the Chronicle's past policy of intentionally skewing its news coverage to promote MetroRail, the true reason for its decision to cut back on accident coverage is all the more obvious.

Permalink | Houston's Light Rail

August 06, 2004, 07:50 AM

Jesse Jackson in Houston; criticizes Bush

By Owen Courrèges

Everyone's favorite left-wing 80's throwback, 'Reverend' Jesse Jackson, was in Houston yesterday spewing bile against President Bush (from ABC 13):
The war in Iraq is a human rights dilemma that transcends politics. That's according to the Reverend Jesse Jackson, who then criticized the politics of President Bush today for getting America stuck in a “tragic losing predicament.”
Hmmm... A “tragic losing predicament?” Kind of like Jackson's marriage? (Cue rim-shot). Thank you, thank you... I'll be here all week.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

August 06, 2004, 07:45 AM

How did this get into the Chron?

By Matt Bramanti

Somehow, Michelle Malkin got the Chronicle to publish this opinion piece blasting the superficial “diversity” of America's newsrooms. It's worth reading in its entirety, but here's a few snippets:
Every five years, a herd of perpetually disgruntled minority journalists gathers to decry the lack of “diversity” in the media. This week, thousands of them will huff and puff in unison at the “UNITY: Journalists of Color, Inc.” convention in Washington, D.C. Both President Bush and Sen. John Kerry are scheduled to give their “I Heart Diversity More Than The Other Guy” speeches at UNITY on Thursday and Friday. The Asian-American Journalists Association will complain about the lack of Asian-American male television news anchors. The National Association of Hispanic Journalists will attack the radio industry for not hiring enough Hispanic on-air personalities. The National Association of Black Journalists will lambaste newspaper publishers for not hiring enough black editors. And the Native American Journalists Association will grumble about the Washington Redskins. (snip)
The diversity they seek is, by definition, skin-deep. They call themselves “journalists of color.” Not journalists of substance. Or journalists of integrity. Or journalists of independent thought. I experienced this rainbow-tinted groupthink at the UNITY conference in Seattle in 1999, where I was the lone, out-of-the-closet conservative in a room of about 150 minority journalists. After this Seattle “debate,” a few journalists sent me secret hand signals or left whispered voice mail messages letting me know that they agreed with my point of view. The rest had groaned, snickered and rolled their eyes when I criticized ethnic identity politics and voiced my support for University of California regent Ward Connerly's ballot initiatives to eliminate government race-based affirmative action. Hey, can't we “journalists of color” all get along? Sure. But only if you stick to the liberal orthodox line. All others must endure the “Uncle Tom” slings and “Aunt Tomasina” arrows of the politically correct thought-enforcers — an experience that is at first intimidating, then laughable and finally painfully tiresome.
She makes excellent points. I'm happy to see this in the Chronicle, but I'd be a whole lot happier if the editorial board would take her ideas into consideration. Also, make sure to take the little quiz at the end. I got about a perfect score, though #19 is iffy:
19. I cry when I hear Proud To Be an American by Lee Greenwood.
Well, maybe I get a little misty...

Permalink | Chron Bias

August 06, 2004, 07:02 AM

DMN admits to inflated circulation numbers

By Anne Linehan

Kind of interesting to see this in the Chronicle today:
The Dallas Morning News overstated circulation for its daily and Sunday editions, and its top circulation executive has resigned, the paper's parent company said Thursday. Belo Corp. said the newspaper overstated its daily circulation by 1.5 percent and Sunday circulation by 5 percent, mostly because of a 1999 change in the way the paper counted unsold returned copies.
And then this hilarious paragraph:
Based on a revision of those figures, the Houston Chronicle would have moved ahead of the Morning News in Sunday circulation and extended its lead daily.
Because we all know the Chronicle doesn't inflate its numbers!

Permalink | Media Watch

August 06, 2004, 07:00 AM

Guerrilla marketing for Houston?

By Matt Bramanti

As the Chron reports in Thursday's paper, an area marketing firm is producing an unusual way of promoting Houston's identity:
Throughout its existence Houston has struggled to come up with an effective image campaign. There have been many attempts, but none like the latest. Calling attention to flying cockroaches, pollution, flooding, construction and billboards, it's called “Houston. It's Worth It.” The campaign is creating a buzz around town and has among its fans Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, director Peter Marzio, and Hermann Park will incorporate it into its 90th anniversary party. The branding campaign is the brainchild of David Thompson and Randy Twaddle, partners in the local marketing firm ttweak. No municipal body has commissioned or endorsed “Houston. It's Worth It,” a self-financed, guerrilla-style operation that aims to build grass-roots support.
I think it's kind of funny that this story is in the daily rag when this photo is on the front page of the Chron's website. What do y'all think about this? It seems to me that this campaign sums up the arguments that everyday Houstonians make to defend our fair city. It also goes hand-in-hand with the argument about whether Houstonians have an inferiority complex. I've had too many arguments to count, when yankee friends have asked me, “How can you live with all the ______?” The blank is either traffic, or bugs, or heat, or humidity, or concrete. Personally, I've always asked them back: “How can you live with all the other yankees?”

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

August 05, 2004, 09:13 PM

What Kerry doesn't want you to see...

By Terry Bohannon

There is a new TV ad sponsored by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth that's causing quite a stir. According to WorldNetDaily and Online Human Events, lawyers working with the DNC and Kerry's campaign have said in a letter to TV stations:
[T]he advertisement “contains statements by men who purport to have served on Senator Kerry's SWIFT Boat in Vietnam and one statement by a man pretending to be the doctor who treated Senator Kerry for one of his injuries.” “In fact,” the lawyers contend, “not a single one of the men who pretend to have served with Senator Kerry was actually a crewmate of Senator Kerry's and the man pretending to be his doctor was not.” “The entire advertisement, therefore,” the letter states, “is an inflammatory, outrageous lie.”
The DNC and the Kerry Campaign have acted very quickly in response to this advertisement. Their response has been so vitriolic and pointed, that it suggests that they want to discredit and bury the advertisement as much as they can. Whether or not this advertisement is based on truth, time will tell; perhaps in the upcoming weeks we will know for certain how credible these war heroes are. We would like to know what you think of it. Here is the video (hosted by www.worldnetdaily.com). And the transcript (provided by www.swiftvets.com): John Edwards: “If you have any question about what John Kerry is made of, just spend 3 minutes with the men who served with him.” Al French: “I served with John Kerry.” Bob Elder: “I served with John Kerry.” George Elliott: “John Kerry has not been honest about what happened in Vietnam.” Al French: “He is lying about his record.” Louis Letson:“I know John Kerry is lying about his first Purple Heart because I treated him for that injury.” Van O'Dell: “John Kerry lied to get his bronze star ... I know, I was there, I saw what happened.” Jack Chenoweth: “His account of what happened and what actually happened are the difference between night and day.” Admiral Hoffman: “John Kerry has not been honest.” Adrian Lonsdale: “And he lacks the capacity to lead.” Larry Thurlow: “When the chips were down, you could not count on John Kerry.” Bob Elder: “John Kerry is no war hero.” Grant Hibbard: “He betrayed all his shipmates ... he lied before the Senate.” Shelton White: “John Kerry betrayed the men and women he served with in Vietnam.” Joe Ponder: “He dishonored his country ... he most certainly did.” Bob Hildreth: “I served with John Kerry ... Bob Hildreth (off-camera): John Kerry cannot be trusted.” Announcer: “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth is responsible for the content of this advertisement.”

Permalink | News and Views

August 05, 2004, 06:44 PM

Team USA Going Flat?

By Matt Forge

On Tuesday, the USA men's basketball team was slam-dunked by the Italians. On Wednesday, the Americans barely won against team Germany with a last-second shot. The buzzer-beater sparked a celebratory dog-pile usually reserved for securing the NBA championship. Is this what our millionaire basketball stars have devolved into? Maybe to them it's all just about traveling the globe, picking up international chicks and sampling adult beverages from other countries. But for us average folk who love our country, it's about pride and honor which these guys apparently lost somewhere between the bank and the night club. I suggest they rent the movie 'Miracle' and contemplate how they would answer the question, “What team do you play for?” On a lighter related issue, I came across the news story about the battle with the Germans on the Yahoo news site. The article initially contained three typos, with one that had me rolling and rubbing my eyes in disbelief (it has since been edited on their site). I took a screen-shot and it's posted below for your review. Honestly, there is no PhotoShop magic involved whatsoever! If you want, e-mail me and I can send you the uncropped screen-capture for verification. Warning: It has a word that may be unsuitable for more sensitive viewers, but is shown because it seems to illustrate, in a humorous way, the media's obsession with accelerated delivery rather than accuracy...
Here's the link to the original story (which has since been edited).

Permalink | Political Cartoons

August 05, 2004, 05:18 PM

Missed It

By Rob Booth

I'm very sorry to have missed this mention. (Kevin gets the credit for finding it first.) I'm hanging my Internet-geek head in shame. Houston Chronicle: Jackson Lee foe drops challenge
A candidate hoping to unseat U.S. Rep Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, in November has filed a notice to withdraw a lawsuit challenging her candidacy. Tom Bazan, an independent candidate for the 18th Congressional District, did not file his lawsuit on time and filed notice Monday to withdraw it, his attorney said. Bazan had claimed Jackson Lee had failed to file her application in time for the Democratic primary earlier this year.
Tom frequently comments on this site. Tom, if you want to flesh out this a bit, have at it. (Phil wrote a bit about this story earlier.)

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

August 05, 2004, 03:00 PM

GOP wants to replace the income tax

By Matt Bramanti

Late last Sunday night, Matt Drudge reported that House speaker Denny Hastert (R-Ill.) will push to abolish the Internal Revenue Service and replace the personal income tax with a consumption or value-added tax. The agenda item is expected to be revealed in Rep. Hastert's upcoming book, Speaker: Lessons from Forty Years in Coaching and Politics
“People ask me if I’m really calling for the elimination of the IRS, and I say I think that’s a great thing to do for future generations of Americans,” Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert explains in his new book, to be released on Wednesday. “Pushing reform legislation will be difficult. Change of any sort seldom comes easy. But these changes are critical to our economic vitality and our economic security abroad.”
There has been no response yet from Rep. Hastert's office. The book, which comes out on Aug. 4, is ranked #209 on Amazon's best-seller list, and has already triggered an analysis piece by UPI. Here's the beginning:
WASHINGTON, Aug. 2 (UPI) — A report Monday that in his upcoming book House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., endorses the elimination of the Internal Revenue Service and replacement of the current tax code with a national consumption tax or flat tax as a top GOP priority in a second Bush administration should come as no surprise, considering that conservative Republicans have been pushing such ideas for years. The Drudge Report's brief on Republican plans for eliminating the federal revenue-collection agency and the laws it enforces in favor of a national sale tax, value-added tax or even a flat tax rate on income quotes Hastert in his new tome being released Wednesday — “Speaker: Lessons from Forty Years in Coaching and Politics” — as praising such schemes not only as a means to increase domestic productivity and grow the U.S. economy, but also as a way to make the IRS an irrelevant part of the federal government. Although Hastert's office did not return calls for comment on the report, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, offered a preview of the House GOP leadership's post-election tax agenda in a March speech in which he said the Republicans are determined to repeal the federal income tax. Long an advocate of a national sales tax, a confident DeLay told a conference of tax lobbyists that House Republicans will have hearings and push the issue in 2005 and 2006.
Take a look at the whole analysis. It's a good primer on tax reform proposals during the last decade or so. I'm all for a consumption tax instead of an income tax. It's easier to administer, compliance costs are lower, and it's difficult to dodge. Drug dealers, Arthur Andersen auditors, and other lowlifes can avoid the income tax, but it would be tough to buy and register a BMW without paying the sales tax. What do y'all think? Should we have an income tax or a sales tax? If income, should the rates be flat or graduated? If sales, what should be taxed and what should be exempt?

Permalink | News and Views

August 05, 2004, 11:30 AM

Houston Chronicle Finally Understands Tax Cuts

By Michael Meyer

The Chronicle takes a very liberal position on most issues, including the isses of tax cuts. They seem to happily parrot the liberal side that “we can't afford a tax cut.” To conservatives, that's grating - the government doesn't “afford” a tax cut, it takes less money away from taxpayers. It was their money to begin with it. But the “Tax Free Weekend” is immensely popular with Texas shopper, and there is no denying the benefits to both the state and the consumer:
The tax-free holiday is a “win-win for the state,” Strayhorn said. “It keeps money in the pockets of Texas families” and boosts state revenue because of the increase in purchases of taxable items and influx of shoppers from Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.
David Kaplan of the Chronicle successfully captures the fiscal conservative's beliefs. It's wonderful to see an occasional conservative article completely free of the liberal spin usually attached to Chronicle stories.

Permalink | Chron Bias

August 05, 2004, 11:00 AM

Chron & FBI tiptoe on eggshells around Muslims

By Matt Bramanti

In Tuesday's Chronicle, Harvey Rice pens this light-on-facts story about the new director of Houston's FBI office.
Understanding the need for good relations with the Muslim community in the anxious times following the terrorist attacks, Roderick Beverly wanted his agents, secretaries and filing assistants to learn about Islam from local Muslim leaders. “We spent five hours talking about culture, acceptable behavior and how to put others at ease,” Beverly recalled in an interview Tuesday at the Houston FBI headquarters. As the newly appointed special agent in charge of the Houston field office, Beverly seeks to foster a similar dialogue with the local Muslim community, lunching this week with the head of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston.
Would anyone care to tell me what this has to do with fighting terrorism? While terrorists actively lay plans to murder Americans by the thousands, the FBI is giving its filing assistants Islam lessons? “Acceptable behavior” for the FBI is to catch terrorists before they blow me up. If the G-men want “to put others at ease” they can start with me, the American taxpaying bull's-eye. Though Beverly says his “first priority is counterterrorism,” the story mentions next to nothing about what the Houston FBI office is doing to fight terrorists. Instead, we're supposed to agree that there is a “need for good relations” with area Muslims. Now, there's an implication that Muslims might be able to help FBI investigations into terrorism, as long as the FBI plays nice. But look at the flip side. It implies that without Islamocentric sensitivity training, these same local Muslims will decline to help the FBI, or maybe even impede investigations. I don't think that's the case. Honest, freedom-loving, peaceful Muslims in this country don't want the FBI getting all mushy. They want those agents on the streets, investigating and rounding up would-be terrorists.

Permalink | Chron Bias

August 05, 2004, 08:00 AM

HISD 'academically acceptable' again

By Owen Courrèges

I'm not sure if this story should be taken as good news, or merely as a grim reminder of some of the problems that HISD is still experiencing (from ABC 13):
The Texas Education Agency restored the Houston Independent School District's “academically acceptable” rating, saying it made significant progress in improving the reporting of dropouts, superintendent Kaye Stripling announced Wednesday. Texas Education Agency Commissioner Shirley Neeley sent the state's largest school district a letter late last month informing administrators that its accountability rating would be restored and a state monitor and outside consultant would be removed. The Houston school district's accountability rating was suspended last August after an investigation by the state agency found improperly reported dropout data. The agency reviewed 5,458 records of students who left school in the 2000-2001 school year and found 2,999 of them had wrong or missing information. Those students were reclassified as dropouts.
I'm leaning towards 'grim reminder' myself.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

August 05, 2004, 07:00 AM

Captain Chronicle hates your car

By Matt Bramanti

In only three paragraphs, the Chronicle has managed to imply corruption on the part of road contractors, dictate the daily schedules of millions of Houstonians, and give METRO another shameless plug.
Decades of experience have convinced even the highway contractors and the politicians they support that the Houston area cannot build its way free of congestion. Highway expansions must be accompanied by more fewer solo commutes and, for some people, change to a lifestyle that doesn't involve long commutes. (snip) Among the options are carpooling, mass transit, Park and Ride, walking or riding a bike. Altering work schedules to avoid rush-hour commutes reduces peak-hour congestion as effectively as alternative modes of transportation.
Unlike the Chron, I won't try to tell everyone else how to get to work. I'll just tell you why none of these options work for me. 1. Carpooling: I don't live near my coworkers. In addition, as a real estate appraiser, I have to go all over town to look at property. I need my car during the day. 2. Mass transit: MetroRail is out, since neither home nor work are between the Dome and downtown. So let's figure out a bus route. I checked METRO's helpful online Trip Planner. The friendly folks at METRO ask for “at least 72 hours to respond.” By then, I will have been fired for not showing up to work. 3. Park and Ride: See “2.” 4. Walking: Per Yahoo Maps, the shortest route from home to work is exactly 15 miles. Per Yahoo Weather, it's currently 93 degrees. Do the math. 5. Riding a bike: As great as Mayor “Outta Town” Lee Brown's bike lanes are, they sadly don't run down the Katy Freeway just yet. Also, it's still 93 degrees. 6. Unilaterally redefining the work day: This solution, like #2, would also get me fired. Am I just too stubborn, or might we actually need the automobile? Remember, Chron editors, food and drink are not permitted on METRO vehicles. That includes Kool-Aid.

Permalink | Chron Bias

August 05, 2004, 06:15 AM

'Civility ordinance' clamps down on homeless

By Owen Courrèges

Just yesterday the Houston city council passed a resolution aimed at curbing some of the problems associated with the homeless. Although necessary, the law admittedly does seem a tad less than compassionate (from ABC 13):
Some property owners in Midtown are happy with a new ordinance that keeps the homeless off their property. City council today passed a civility ordinance that makes it illegal for anyone to sleep on public sidewalks or panhandle. Property owners in Midtown filed the petition because they say they're tired of seeing people sleeping on their front door steps. The city and county have formed at joint committee to look into the problem. The Coalition for the Homeless says the ordinance only disguises the problem.
I honestly don't know what's to be done about the homeless problem, but I do know that property owners shouldn't have to put up with strangers sleeping in their stoops, nor should commuters have to face barrages of panhandlers while on their way to work. These are problems in an of themselves, and until the Coalition for the Homeless realizes that, they'll never get any real political traction. As I suggested initially, I personally don't revel in the idea of having the police roust vagrants from apartment stairwells. Still, that's what needs to be done.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

August 04, 2004, 11:00 PM

More “olds” from the Chron

By Matt Bramanti

Well, Captain Chronicle must've read the Los Angeles Times over the weekend, because he copped this piece about a synthetic hormone that could allow for quick, safe tanning.
Fair-skinned people take note: Someday, there may be a way to protect against sunburn and get a healthy, skin-protecting tan at the same time. Researchers at the University of Arizona say they have found a way to use a synthetic hormone to reduce skin damage in people with sensitive skin. The study, published last month in the Archives of Dermatology, found that the synthetic hormone could be combined safely with short exposures to sunlight or UV-B light to get a darker tan — and more melanin in the skin, said Dr. Robert Dorr, professor of pharmacology at the University of Arizona.
The Times ran the story on July 26, which is only a weeklong lag for the Chron. But, the Arizona Republic ran their piece (with much more detail) on June 4. Two months. I guess nothing feature-worthy has happened yet in August. Or July. Or after the first week of June.

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

August 04, 2004, 10:00 PM

Kyrie O'Connor teeters on the brink of madness

By Matt Bramanti

There can be no other explanation for Tuesday's edition of MeMo, the Chron's half-baked venture into the blogosphere. Here's how today's chunk of MeMo begins:
good afternoon! the threat level today is paisley, with a rich mullion of velvet at the placket.
This babbling comes as we're getting a report that terrorists will attempt a major attack on the U.S. 60 days before the presidential election. That's September 2nd, when President Bush will address the Republican National Convention in Madison Square Garden. Good work, Kyrie. That shot at homeland security was in excellent taste. Here's another little snippet:
3. My beloved Imus (while professing love for “Countdown”) on my beloved Keith Olbermann: “He has snakes in the head.” Yes, your point being ... ? Keith!! My earrings = your cufflinks!!!
Boy, this feature just screams “I'm stable,” doesn't it? There's also a helpful FAQ that gives you a little history and background on what has to be the Chron's most absurd idea in a long and storied tradition of absurd ideas:
Q. Who are you? Kyrie O’Connor, deputy managing editor/features at The Chronicle, recent Houston transplant, homeowner, dog and cat owner, hapless traveler, bad-TV-commercial addict.
I think we can add “babbling six-year-old and ”wanna-be Variety columnist“ to that litany. But wait, there's more! Also from the FAQ:
Q. Why a blog? A. This started out as my daily memo to my staff, but it simply grew and got its own peculiar voice.
Now, when I get a memo from my boss, it's typically short, to the point, and helpful. It's something like ”we're having a meeting at 9:30“ or ”the building's A/C will be off this weekend." Memos in my office generally don't look anything like this little gem:
Champ is my favorite possible plesiosaur of all the possible plesiosaurs in the world, including Nessie and Chessie and even Hessie, the possible plesiosaur of Lake Houston. There's a car wash named after Champ in Burlington, Vt. And if this sighting is good enough for the Gloads and Crims (who named these people, John Steinbeck?) it's good enough for me.
This doesn't happen too often, but I have to feel sorry for the Chron staffers who work for this woman! I can't even imagine getting to work every day and finding something as nutty as MeMo cluttering up my inbox. Does anyone out there think Kyrie's ranting is cute, or funny, or entertaining, or enlightening, or even tolerable?

Permalink | Chron Bias

August 04, 2004, 09:22 PM

Unfit For Command?

By Matt Forge

A veterans group seeking to deeply discredit Democrat John Kerry's military service will charge in the new bombshell book UNFIT FOR COMMAND: * Two of John Kerry's three Purple Heart decorations resulted from self-inflicted wounds, not suffered under enemy fire. * All three of Kerry's Purple Hearts were for minor injuries, not requiring a single hour of hospitalization. * A “fanny wound” was the highlight of Kerry's much touted “no man left behind” Bronze Star. * And much much more. Only time will tell if these accusations are true or not. But it seems sure that Major John is going to have a few more bullets to dodge in the near future.

Permalink | Political Cartoons

August 04, 2004, 06:25 PM

What a coincidence!

By Rob Booth

Remember Ms. Prymmer's story about being picked on by mean Republicans for having a John Kerry sticker? I know it's hard to imagine, but something very similar happened to Karen Clouse. Houston Press: Sticker Shock
Montrose resident Karen Clouse figured she lived in one of the city's best neighborhoods for sporting a bumper sticker touting John Kerry. She thought wrong. Clouse's Toyota Corolla — with its “Librarians Against Bush” sticker — drew attention two weeks ago from a giant pickup truck that tailgated and even lightly bumped her, she says. Then, on July 27, she walked out to her car and saw two of the tires slashed and the bumper sticker partly ripped off, with half of it crumpled on the ground.
What are the odds that this sort of thing happened to two different women who then went to share their stories with local media outlets? OK, I guess it's theoretically possible, and goodness knows the Press isn't in cahoots with the Chronicle. One question though — Why is Ralph Nader not thought of as a suspect candidate in the husband's bumper sticker episode? Michael Badnarik? Earl Dodge?

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

August 04, 2004, 04:00 PM

Nuclear Waste

By Terry Bohannon

Nationally, there is a problem. Nuclear facilities around the country, like in Kansas or Nebraska, are running out of places to permanently store low level radioactive materials “such as cooling water pipes and radiation suits, and waste from medical procedures involving radioactive treatments or X-rays,” according to an AP press release. The article continues, “The Texas Legislature approved a bill last year,” HB1567, after a similar bill failed to pass in 2001, “that allows for the creation of two privately run waste disposal facilities licensed by the state.” After the creation of this bill, as was published yesterday in Topeka Kansas, Industrial Foundation Chairman* Lloyd Eisenrich from Andrews, Texas, suggested that “if it was up to him, he would welcome the waste” to Andrews County. That article continues:
He told the Lincoln Nebraska Journal Star that shipping tons of low-level radioactive waste from nuclear power plants and hospitals would bring more high-tech jobs and money to his county, near the Texas-New Mexico border.
Is this a smart idea? *Edited for clarity. As originally posted, Mr. Eisenrich's association with Andrews, Texas, remained ambiguous.

Permalink | News and Views - Texas

August 04, 2004, 01:00 PM

The NY Times walk-back

By Anne Linehan

Yesterday the NY Times was blustering that the latest terror warning was unnecessary because it was based on old intelligence. Not to be left out, the Chronicle eagerly picked up the story, although the Chronicle didn't have enough space to run the entire piece. Today the NY Times is having to backtrack a bit. And the Chronicle is running this story on the front page. (Space was at a premium again today - the Chronicle was unable to print the NY Times story in full, but the editors did find space for this important news.) The gist of today's story is that it appears there was more than old intelligence used when Homeland Security issued the warning. Imagine that. The Belgravia Dispatch blog has some thoughts on the NY Times “walk-back”:
Bill Keller might prefer that, henceforth, warnings only be issued when “concrete evidence that a terror plot [is] underway...” exists. Perhaps, as a truck-bomb plunges into the Citi building, Tom Ridge will then be permitted to raise that dastardly color-code warning (that bothers Howard Dean so)--from yellow to orange, or even orange to red--without incurring the scorn of assorted skeptics yammering on about the “politics” of the terror alerts.
And here's a very interesting analysis. Ed Morrissey of the Captain's Quarters blog says the media is missing the real importance behind the capture of the al Qaeda computer guy:
What almost no analysis has addressed, however, is the context of the alerts with regards to the capture of Naeem Noor Khan, the computer expert and al-Qaeda planner whose data provided the basis for the alert. Khan was captured on July 12 but his arrest was only recently acknowledged. Khan held surveillance for a number of financial targets in the New York area, apparently quite detailed, going back as far as three years ago. What we now know about AQ operations tells us that multi-year planning and careful building of teams is their hallmark, and their plans take at least that long to fully mature. Now, with Khan's capture announced to the world and the collapse of his communications infrastructure to the field teams involved in any of his plans, one likely result will be that individual cells will act on their last orders and launch attacks in the near future. Their ability to coordinate will likely be severely disrupted, as terrorists cells probably have no direct contact with each other, so that attacks occur randomly and not strategically, as on 9/11.
When reporters are predisposed to writing stories that will discredit President Bush, it's probably not a surprise they are missing the real meat in a story.

Permalink | Media Watch

August 04, 2004, 09:09 AM

Today's Features

By Mona Lugay

Make sure you view our Features section for daily commentary on entertainment “wonders and blunders,” the sports world's best and worst shots, local high school sports updates, the great outdoors, a little miscellaneous humor and much more. Features section highlights: Matt Malatesta - Offensive Lineman Breaks the Mold and Barry Chambers - Take One: Reel to Real.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

August 04, 2004, 09:07 AM

'Abstinence-only' condemned by Chron

By Owen Courrèges

Since the Chronicle is a well-known supporter of Planned Parenthood, our nation's veritable abortion-factory, it should comes as little surpise that they come down against those who would teach our children to wait until marriage, as opposed to shoving condoms down their throats:
Staunch supporters of abstinence-only education might never be convinced of the benefits of teaching young people how to protect their sexual well-being. Instruction should include how to avoid pregnancy and a host of diseases no loving parent would want their kid to contract — not even as punishment for forgoing abstinence.
There are studies on both sides on this one. Conservative studies show that comprehensive sex-ed programs increase sexual activity and have little to no impact on the contraction rates for STDs. Liberals, conversely, tout studies that show abstinence education has little effect on teen sexual activity and is less effective at controlling teen preganancy and the spread of STDs. In other words, both sides have their statistics. The truth, however, probably lies somewhere in between. Most studies have shown that sex-ed in general, whether it be comprehensive or abstinence-only, doesn't have much of an impact either way. So the question really shouldn't be whether or not a particular method of sexual education is marginally more or less effective — the question should be the message we want to impart. Abstinence-only projects high ideals. Comprehensive sex-ed doesn't. From my perspective, that's the real story.

Permalink | Chron Bias

August 04, 2004, 09:00 AM

New poll

By The Staff

We have a new poll question up today: “What type of sex-ed do you think is best?” You can answer this question here. The results from our previous poll are here. This is both an important and contentious issue in Texas. Think hard about your position and its own unique consequences, but if you are completely ignorant on this topic, we have a response available for the more dull-witted. :)

Permalink | Staff Notes

August 04, 2004, 08:52 AM

Chron bashes those who advance 'law-and-order'

By Owen Courrèges

A new staff editorial out in today's edition of the Houston Chronicle attempts to make a perfectly valid point — that those who heap praise on themselves in public are likely covering up for their own shortcomings. However, it does so in a remarkably asinine way:
A conservative, the saying goes, is a liberal who has just been mugged. Conversely, law-and-order conservatives tend to acquire new concern for injustice when they get into trouble with the law. When he was a popular, conservative radio talk show, Jon Matthews often voiced the view that those who crossed the law deserved little mercy and harsh punishment. The prisons, he suggested, should not be air-conditioned, TV-equipped country clubs for the wicked. Matthews was sentenced Monday to seven years' probation on a charge of indecency with a child for exposing himself to an 11-year-old girl. The court deemed him unfit to live near a school. After sentencing Matthews said he had been misguided: “Our criminal justice system is not based on justice; it is a quota system where conviction is the only score card.” On his show, Matthews was more than a law-and-order champion, now lapsed. His commentary proclaimed his superior judgment and morals and belittled those who held opposing views. A quick look around reveals that people who are truly upright, perceptive and kind rarely remark upon it. Self-praise and praying on the street corner are the hypocrites' traits. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once remarked, “The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.”
The problem here comes when the Chronicle attempts to parallel effusive self-praise with being a 'law-and-order champion.' It's a good thing to champion law-and-order, and doing so is not an indication of some deep-seated character flaw. It is not the same as boastfulness. It is not akin to the man who prays in public for the sole purpose of convincing others of his piety. But alas, this matters little, because the Chronicle obviously wants to twist the sordid Jon Matthews scandal into a rhetorical bludgeon against law-and-order conservatives. That's not only unfair; it's beyond the pale of civil discourse. So the Chronicle makes its point in a very deceptive way. It does so by combining a valid and thoughtful argument — that self-praise is bad and often indicates hypocrisy — with an invalid and stupid argument — that those who champion law and order are the most likely to break the law. It does this because its goal is to 'get' conservative Republicans, and not to advance valid arguments. That's the very definition of intellectual dishonesty, which we find no shortage of in the Chronicle.

Permalink | Chron Bias

August 04, 2004, 08:30 AM

Chron fibs about Heinz-Kerry outburst

By Phil Magness

An AP article on Teresa Heinz-Kerry's latest profane outburst appears on the Chronicle's website today. Readers of the print edition may have also noticed that a truncated version of the exact same article, allegedly written by the “Houston Chronicle News Service” appeared on the inside page of today's paper. Oddly enough, both articles contain an identical factual falsehood about Heinz-Kerry's similar verbal lashing of a reporter last week:
Last week, during the Democratic nominating convention in Boston, she told a persistent reporter to ``shove it'' and to stop misquoting her when he repeatedly asked her to expand on her call for more civility in politics.
The falsehood, of course, is in the suggestion that the reporter was misquoting Heinz-Kerry. A transcript posted here demonstrates that the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reporter had it right all along. Following a speech in which Heinz-Kerry used the phrase “un-american,” the reporter asked her to elaborate. Heinz-Kerry repeatedly insisted “I didn't say that” not five minutes after the speech where transcripts prove that she did. Following multiple requests from the reporter, Heinz-Kerry made her now infamous “shove it” comment. Though Heinz-Kerry was clearly at fault in the incident, it appears that the AP and the “Chronicle News Service” have taken to deception on her behalf.

Permalink | Chron Bias

August 04, 2004, 06:18 AM

Riding the rails

By Rob Booth

Following up to this post, take a look at this: KGBT: Notes from Houston Texans training camp
Texans senior vice president Jamey Rootes responded to complaints from some fans about the end of park-and-ride bus service. Rootes says Houston's new light rail line, which runs near Reliant Stadium, will be the primary mode of mass transit. But Rootes says fans without parking passes should have plenty of room to park at a nearby satellite lot served by the train.

Permalink | Houston's Light Rail

August 03, 2004, 06:17 PM

The Elephant in the Living Room

By Rob Booth

As you probably know, Jon Matthews (former KSEV talk show host) received seven years deferred adjudication for indecent exposure with a child. When the plea bargain was originally announced, Dan did the talking over here at Chronically Biased. One of the things Dan said on the radio was that he is not going to ignore the elephant in the living room and pretend like nothing happened. Dan's on vacation, so he isn't posting anything. I'll post a roundup of Jon Matthews news stories and put in a little comment at the end. Click2Houston: Former Talk Show Host Becomes Registered Sex Offender
HOUSTON — A former Houston radio personality, who pleaded guilty to indecency with a child in June, learned his punishment Monday. A Fort Bend County judge accepted former conservative talk show host Jon Matthews' guilty plea, making him a registered sex offender. Matthews was indicted in November for exposing himself to an 11-year-old girl in his Sugar Land neighborhood. The girl told officials she went to Matthews' home last October to play with his new puppy. He allegedly answered the door in his underwear, and asked her if she would like him to put on shorts, according to court records. He did, but later pulled the shorts and underwear down in front of the girl, and stroked her thigh and buttocks, prosecutors said. The girl was able to identify a scar on Matthews' private area.
Houston Chronicle: Ex-talk radio host gets seven years probation
After Monday's sentencing, Matthews attorney, Stephen Doggett, read a statement from his client. “To the complainant and her parents, I again apologize,” he said. Matthews then took some potshots at the American judicial system. “Those of you who have listened to my radio show and read my newspaper columns over the years know how strong a supporter I was of our criminal justice system. I can only say how misguided I was. Our criminal justice system is not based on justice; it is a quota system where conviction is the only scorecard,” he said. Matthews said he hopes one day to talk about the case.
KTRK: Former radio talk show host Jon Matthews sentenced
For seven years, the former radio talk show host must have no contact with the victim, stay at least 1,000 feet away from her home and anywhere children gather. He must register as a sex offender and attend sex offender counseling. He must also attend alcoholics anonymous. The judge said Matthews has a drinking problem and ordered him not to use alcohol.
Herald-Coaster: Judge accepts Matthews plea bargain agreement
Judge Brady Elliott of the 268th District Court Monday accepted the plea bargain reached between Jon Matthews and the Fort Bend County District Attorney' s Office, which includes seven years deferred adjudication for the charge of third degree indecency with a child. Elliott also had ordered Matthews to undergo a psychological examination and a pre-sentence investigation. In Monday's hearing, Elliott said Matthews examination revealed Matthews suffered depression and is an alcoholic.
I fit into the group of people who didn't believe this was possible. I listened to Jon every morning and felt like I knew him. I had the good fortune to meet him and get the chance to talk with him one-on-one over beers one time. We talked for a couple of hours. I got the impression that he was just like the guy on the radio, but maybe a bit less argumentative. After reading those accounts, and the fact that he pleaded guilty, I am left with no choice but to believe that he is guilty. The Jon Matthews I “knew” would never have said he did something he didn't do. I hope the girl, her family, Jon's family, and Jon find resolution and peace. He showed kindness to a stranger one time (me), I guess I'll take this opportunity to show him some kindness and wish him peace in what looks like a difficult life.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

August 03, 2004, 02:00 PM

North Korea, bad news for Kerry

By Terry Bohannon

There are recent developments within the intelligence community that, if true, can have tremendous effect on America's diplomatic relations with North Korea. This report can also change how everyday Americans perceive NK. North Korea, as a Reuters press release has reported, is “deploying new land- and sea-based ballistic missiles that . . . may have sufficient range to hit the United States.” The article continues to report that Jane's Defense Weekly has “said the two new [ballistic missile] systems appeared to be based on a decommissioned Soviet submarine-launched ballistic missile, the R-27.” This press release continues:
It said communist North Korea had acquired the know-how during the 1990s from Russian missile specialists and by buying 12 former Soviet submarines which had been sold for scrap metal but retained key elements of their missile launch systems. Jane's, which did not specify its sources, said the sea-based missile was potentially the more threatening of the two new weapons systems. “It would fundamentally alter the missile threat posed by the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) and could finally provide its leadership with something that it has long sought to obtain — the ability to directly threaten the continental U.S.,” the weekly said.
We need to take this potential threat very seriously, as President Bush said in the State of the Union address following 9/11, “North Korea is a regime arming with missiles and weapons of mass destruction, while starving its citizens,” it is a part of the “axis of evil”. North Korea, it seems, seems to be positioning itself so that it will be a direct threat to the Continental U.S., this step cannot be ignored. Any resolution the UN signs will not put a stop to NK's threat — resolutions can be ignored. The only way to stop immediate and potential threats from morphing into an attack is with a true leader as Commander in Chief. Is North Korea, taking its history and this report into consideration, something America can trust with a John Kerry presidency?

Permalink | News and Views

August 03, 2004, 10:00 AM

Today's Features

By Mona Lugay

Make sure you view our Features section for daily commentary on the War on Terror, entertainment “wonders and blunders,” the sports world's best and worst shots, the great outdoors and a little miscellaneous humor. Features section highlights: Barry Chambers - Take One Review: Manchurian Candidate and Dan Lovett - Lying Liars!

Permalink | Humor

August 03, 2004, 08:51 AM

Chronicle edits out important information

By Anne Linehan

The Chronicle publishes, on its front page today, the NY Times story about old intelligence being used in the latest terror warning. The story is garnering lots of attention, so the question is why didn't the Chronicle run the whole NY Times article? Here are the last two paragraphs from the NY Times story, which are not in the Chronicle:
Senior counterterrorism and intelligence officials based in Europe said the information targeting the five buildings was developed by Qaeda operatives before Sept. 11, 2001. But a senior European counterterrorism official cautioned that “some recent information'' indicated that the buildings might remain on a list of Qaeda targets. ”Al Qaeda routinely comes up with ways to hit targets for years at a time, so it may not mean much that these buildings were first targeted more than three years ago,'' the official said.
We'll set aside the obvious burying of those two paragraphs by the NY Times. At least the Times published them! The Chronicle apparently didn't think they were important. It is no secret that al Qaeda takes months and even years to plan attacks. And yet, at the end of the NY Times story is an intelligence official saying there is “some recent information” that the buildings listed in the terror warning are still being targeted by al Qaeda. That should have been included in the Chronicle's story.

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

August 03, 2004, 08:00 AM

Dan's on Channel 8 tonight

By Mona Lugay

Last week Dan Patrick wrote a story about the editor of the Chronicle not wanting to appear on a TV show (Connections)if the word truth was used. A Reminder: Show will air tonight, Tues Aug 3 at 8:55 pm on Channel 8 “Connections”

Permalink | Miscellaneous

August 03, 2004, 07:42 AM

Westpark Tollway: a smart move?

By Terry Bohannon

Last May, a section of the Westpark Tollway opened; and now Houston has the “nation's first entirely automated tollway” — according to Click 2 Houston.com. We could claim that such news is great, being the first toll road without a toll booth, but there are consequences. According to the Dallas Morning News:
In the first two months, motorists violated the EZ Tag requirement 199,268 times. That's 11.3 percent of more than 1.7 million trips during that period. Not all were stopped, but a backup license-plate snapshot taken by the toll reader will allow them to be tracked down and billed.
There has been almost 100,000 violations of the toll road a month; this means about 11% of the cars that drive on the Westpark Tollway do not have an EZ Tag. For a project that cost the Harris County Toll Road Authority (HCTRA) $229 million, better planning might be expected. The Dallas Morning News last Sunday claimed that “There are [no toll booths] because there wasn't room for them,” which is, undoubtedly, “a result of insufficient long-range planning.” Maybe the Dallas paper's right, but it could always be the case that there were decision makers at HCTRA who thought it would be more convenient if their patrons (EZ Tag owners) didn't have to get fuddled up in the traffic associated with toll booths. Whatever the case, the Westpark Tollway has been convenient for those drivers who have used it 1.7 million times: if this is good for Houston, only time will tell.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

August 02, 2004, 11:32 PM

Why You Should Not Vote For John Kerry

By Matt Forge

As the campaign season heats up, we’re hearing the gamut of conservative political pundits give their reasons why the Massachusetts senator should not be elected President of the United States. They range from his soft stance on terror, his lust for raising taxes, his pro-abortion ideology and his flip-flopping on all other issues in between. But you haven’t heard my reason, which is the most important one of all. John Kerry is a decorated war hero who earned Purple Hearts, the Silver Star and Bronze Star. His bravery and sacrifice in the line of duty while serving our country should be commended. With that being said, however, we should take a closer look at what happened during that time and think twice about electing him based on his combat history. A Purple Heart is the U.S. military decoration awarded to members of the armed forces who have been wounded in action. Kerry earned three of them during the four month tour of duty in ‘Nam when he saw actual combat. This works out to one wound inflicted upon his personal being every 5.3 weeks when he was a target of the enemy. In this day and age the President (Commander in Chief) is the number one military target of terrorists, and the battlefield is now global – including within America’s borders. Given his past record, if John Kerry were elected President he would assume the role of that military target (as in ‘Nam) and would quite probably suffer 39 wounds throughout his four-year term. (52 weeks/year x 4 years ÷ 5.3 weeks/attack avg. = 39 wounds) Now I, as a Christian, would not be able to sleep at night knowing that my vote condemned a man to 39 flesh-puncturing injuries. But it goes much deeper than my own petty greed for personal slumber. We have to think about those who love him: his wife Teresa (pronounced: T’daze-uh), his children, that hamster and whomever else might fall into this category. Yet still, our duty to vote against Kerry is much more important than even his own family. After all that America has been through, I don’t see how her citizens could bear to see their President reduced to a pincushion. Though I know he would be brave, it would be like watching the Black Knight losing limbs and claiming, “It’s just a flesh-wound.” We need a President who, no matter how fearless, will be physically fit to serve his entire time in office. And that’s the real reason why you should vote against him this November. Do it For Kerry. Do it for his family. Do it for America. Vote for George W. Bush.

Permalink | Humor

August 02, 2004, 06:52 PM

Chron turns progress into oppression

By Matt Bramanti

In today's paper, Shannon Buggs educates us about the Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act, which allows for greater efficiencies in our nation's financial systems.
On Oct. 28, the Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act goes into effect and makes a digital picture of a paper check a legal document. (snip) Bottom line for the banks: Instead of it taking two to four days to clear a check, it will take no more than a day. Bottom line for consumers: If you write a check in the morning, you'd better have the money to cover it in your account that day. “Bank regulators who come up with these laws are often out of touch with how the everyday person lives,” Gillen says. “A bank examiner doesn't bounce checks because they would lose their job.” Check 21 was not written to make it harder for the working poor, the cash-strapped middle class and debt-laden high earners to survive. But that may be a consequence of the regulation.
The concept of having the money to cover your checks is “out of touch?” By the tone of the story, Ms. Buggs seems to think that we should design our financial networks around the people who contribute the least to them.

Permalink | Noxious Chron Columnists

August 02, 2004, 06:16 PM

New Chronicle feature

By Rob Booth

Lucas Wall introduced a new feature in his Move It column. (Is it just me or is the name of the column a little rude?) He answers readers' questions about mass transit and mobility in general. Seeing this and the Chronicle's editorial on solo driving got me wondering. I'd like to hear your commuting habits. Do you take the bus to work? Is it convenient? Do you drive solo? Have you conisdered taking mass transit? If you decided not to, why? (If you're not in greater Houston, please note that.)

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

August 02, 2004, 03:42 PM

Good news from Iraq, part 7

By Anne Linehan

Arthur Chrenkoff has more good news from Iraq:
“Last fall, in southern Iraq, a Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) official approached Maurice (Termite) Watkins, 47, at breakfast. Watkins, a professional boxer turned pest-control contractor, had spent the previous six months killing scorpions and camelback spiders around U.S. military bases and reconstruction sites in Iraq. The official, regional coordinator Mike Gfoeller, had heard that Watkins could fight more than mosquitoes. 'What are the odds of you getting an Iraqi boxer qualified for the Olympics?' Gfoeller asked. Termite spoke from the heart. 'About one in a million.' ”Those chances seemed good enough for Gfoeller. Iraq had a new boxing coach, and six months later the country had its Athens-bound fighter - Najah Ali, 24, a flyweight with a computer-science degree from Alrafdean University in Baghdad. Freed from the torturous reign of Iraq's former Olympic CEO, Uday Hussein, and spurred by a trickle of private investment in sports, several other Iraqis will join Ali as unlikely Olympians this summer. For the first time since 1988, Iraq's soccer team has qualified for the Olympics."
Please read the whole post - it's excellent.

Permalink | News and Views

August 02, 2004, 01:38 PM

Attacked for “un-American” question

By Terry Bohannon

As we have covered here, here, and here, Teresa Heinz-Kerry gave Colin McNickle a tongue-lashing after he asked what she meant by “un-American” in her speech. Today, Colin McNickle has written an opinion column where he describes some of how the “DNC's liberal attack machine” has targeted him and disturbed his family. He writes:
. . . Shove it, (expletive)!“ one fellow told me as I walked down a Boston street. ”You're the (expletive) who called Mrs. Kerry 'un-American,' “ a girl told me in Boston Common. And once the DNC's liberal attack machine was fully cranked, the e-mails and telephone calls started. ”I hope you burn in hell,“ read one e-mail. ”You're a (expletive) Nazi,“ went another. ”Teresa should have told you to go (expletive) yourself," another friendly e-mailer offered. And these were among the milder communiques; those that included death threats will be forwarded to the senders' respective hometown police departments. One of my daughters back in Pittsburgh was brought to tears by a caller to our house. The clever woman identified herself as a Washington reporter seeking to interview me but then embarked on a filthy tirade. It seems a member of the Heinz Kerry Civility Enforcement Patrol posted our home address and telephone number on the response part of my convention blog. . . .

Permalink | News and Views

August 02, 2004, 10:50 AM

Our economy is growing

By Terry Bohannon

Last Saturday, on July 31, the President addressed the nation on the state of our economy. President Bush claimed our economy “is gaining strength.” That point runs contrary to what many in the media might like us to believe, as with Kerry pollster Mark Mellman, who said last week, “There's been tremendous economic dislocation in the South. . . . The bad economy has helped them to sour on Bush.” However, our economy is recovering, our unemployment rate is lowering, and personal investment is up, as the President pointed out when he said, “Existing home sales hit an all-time new record in June.” This is not good for Kerry, who seems to be campaigning on the old Clinton playbook. Kerry is forgetting one thing: raising our taxes and bringing us out of Iraq won't empower our economy. Many Americans know this. And that is why “The Kerry-Edwards campaign finds itself in an economic pickle,” as an editorial from a West Virginian paper claims. And, with what Treasury Secretary John Snow told WDAY radio in Fargo, North Dakota on Friday (audio):
“. . .When you combine the first quarter and the second quarter, the first half in other words, we're growing at 3.75 percent. Which is [a] very strong growth rate, and very sustainable; and the good thing about the American economy today is we have so much headroom for continued non-inflationary growth with lots of jobs being created and with real wages, real disposable income going up. . . .”
By taking note of what John Snow said, it is very understandable how the media would like us not to hear President Bush's radio address as what it is: good news. That being said, The President's Radio Address:

President's Radio Address (audio)

July 31, 2004 http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2004/07/20040731.html THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. This week we received encouraging reports that show our economy is gaining strength. Consumer confidence hit a two-year high in July. Existing home sales hit an all-time new record in June. The home ownership rate has hit a new all-time high. And since last summer, our economy has grown at a rate as fast as any in nearly 20 years. These gains in our economy have come at a time when Americans are benefiting from the full effects of tax relief. I have traveled across America, meeting small business owners who are investing tax savings into new equipment, and I have met families who are using tax savings to pay for their children's needs. All of this added economic activity is creating opportunity. Since last August, Americans have started work at more than 1.5 million new jobs, many of them in high-growth, high-paying industries. The impact of our growing economy is being felt in Washington, where estimates of government deficits are shrinking. My administration now forecasts that the combined deficits in 2004 and 2005 will be about $100 billion less than previously expected, and because of my policy of strengthening the economy while enforcing spending discipline in Washington, we remain on pace to reduce the deficit by half in the next five years. These are hopeful signs and we must make sure our economy continues to gain momentum. Families are working hard to make ends meet, and these families depend on good policies in Washington that promote growth, new jobs and new opportunities. Thanks to the No Child Left Behind Act, we are improving our public schools so students learn basic skills like reading, writing, math and science. We have expanded Pell Grant college scholarships so that more students can attend college, and we are helping community colleges train workers for the new high-skill jobs being created in our growing economy. We're giving individuals more control over their health care dollars through newly created health savings accounts, and we must also address the rising costs of health care by enacting common-sense reforms in our medical liability system. We must continue to open up foreign markets to American goods, because on a level playing field, American workers and farmers and entrepreneurs can compete with anybody, anytime, anywhere. We must enact reforms to our legal system, so hardworking entrepreneurs are not run out of business by frivolous lawsuits. We must have a national energy policy so we become less dependent on foreign sources of energy. We must have sensible regulations so that America's job creators can focus on satisfying their customers and not bureaucrats in government. And we must keep taxes low on American families and small businesses, by making the tax relief we have passed permanent. Thanks to tax relief enacted since 2001, a family of four earning 40,000 a year now pays nearly $2,000 less in federal taxes. That is enough to pay the average home electricity bill for more than a year, or fill up the gas tank of two cars for an entire year. To millions of hard-working Americans, tax relief has been the difference in helping make ends meet. This is a crucial time for our economy. We have emerged from a period of great challenge. Terrorist attacks, recession and corporate scandal hurt the wallets of millions of Americans, but these shocks to our economy did not damage our spirit. We're a hardworking and resilient nation. Our economy is on a rising path, and together, we will bring our prosperity to every corner of America. Thank you for listening. END

Permalink | News and Views

August 02, 2004, 10:40 AM

No convention bounce for Kerry

By Owen Courrèges

Other polls may differ slightly on this, but the Gallup poll is showing absolutely no convention bounce for Kerry. Compared with previous elections, this is certainly an anomaly:
Last week's Democratic convention boosted voters' impressions of John Kerry but failed to give him the expected bump in the head-to-head race against President Bush, a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll finds. In the survey, taken Friday and Saturday, Bush led Kerry 50%-46% among likely voters. Independent candidate Ralph Nader was at 2%. The survey showed Kerry losing 1 percentage point and Bush gaining 4 percentage points from a poll taken the week before the Boston convention. The change in support was within the poll's margin of error of +/-4 percentage points in the sample of 763 likely voters. But it was nonetheless surprising, the first time since the chaotic Democratic convention in 1972 that a candidate hasn't gained ground during his convention.
As I've said before, this is an election where the electorate is deadlocked and neither candidate is really rallying the public. Kerry is especially awful; he has the opportunity now, but none of the skill. Here's to seeing him go down in flames.

Permalink | News and Views

August 02, 2004, 10:06 AM

Arguments begin over Bible at civil courthouse

By Owen Courrèges

For those of us who have been following this case since it was first filed, the beginning of arguments certainly bears close attention, although one also wishes that this entire fiasco could have been avoided (from ABC 13):
A US district judge will hear arguments Monday aimed removing a Bible from the entrance of the Harris County civil courthouse. Lawyers for the plaintiff say his civil liberties were violated when he saw the opened Bible on public display, so they want it removed. The ACLU says the display also violates the separation of church and state. The Bible dates back to the 1950s when it was given to the county. It's been on display without controversy until now.
The momument in question does indeed feature a Bible, although it has a clear and distinct secular purpose — to honor Houston philanthropist William Mosher for his contributions to the Star of Hope homeless shelter. Accordingly, there shouldn't an church/state separation issue here. This doesn't come within light years of violating the First Amendment. Let's hope the judge has enough common sense to see things the same way, because frankly, this shouldn't have even come to trial.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

August 02, 2004, 10:00 AM

New poll

By The Staff

We have a new poll question up today: “Who is primarily to blame for light rail's high accident rate?” You can respond to this question here. The results from our previous poll are here. We haven't included an option for 'both,' since we don't want to provide an outlet for our more indecisive elements. Just choose the entity that you believe bears the most responsibility for the 54-odd collisions light rail has had with area automobiles and pedestrians.

Permalink | Staff Notes

August 02, 2004, 09:47 AM

Chron blames bad drivers for rail accidents

By Owen Courrèges

The Houston Chronicle has yet another staff editorial out today attempting to explain away the extraordinarily high accident rate for light rail. Trotting out their typical mantra, they blame Houston drivers as if the design behind light rail were irrelevant:
In truth, though, the crash problem would all but evaporate if motorists improved their skills. As Chronicle reporter Lucas Wall wrote in April, Houstonians were driving dangerously long before light rail even seemed viable. Local drivers run a risk of injury or death 2.5 times greater per mile traveled than average Americans. To date, all but one of Houston's car/light-rail crashes were due to driver error. (One collision stemmed from a train operator's failure to control his speed.)
First off, I'd like to start out with a hypothetical. Let's say that I have a job designing highways, and I design a section of freeway that has a disturbingly high accident rate. It is found that all of the accidents are caused by motorists who refuse to slow down during a curve combined with motorists refusing to signal on an on-ramp that enters during the curve. To this I say, “Ah-ha! Bad motorists are to blame!” The question now becomes, would I be taken seriously? My feeling is that I'd probably be fired for placing an on-ramp inside a sharp curve, thus resulting in a veritable collision-mill on the freeway. Nobody would care that the problem could be eliminated if people drove better, because ultimately people don't always drive that well, and any design that fails to take into account bad driving is a stupid, flawed design. Metrorail is hazardous by design. It was built at-grade, meaning at the same level as street traffic, which anybody can tell you is more dangerous. It also was built with multiple-car trains that have longer stopping distances than traditional streetcars (approx. 600 feet), making it so it cannot stop quickly to avoid accidents. To make up for all of this, planners gave the trains near-full right-of-way along the Main Street line, but they also provided poor and confusing signage that has yielded numerous complaints from local drivers. And since the train took up traffic lanes and closed off left-turn opportunities, some motorists responded by simply flouting the law. Frustrated people will do that. It's predictable. Now the Chronicle can cite statistics showing that Houston streets are more dangerous than the average street (something I could have guessed — a better statistic would have compared Houston against other major urban areas of similar size and population). However, the fact remains that Metro was aware of Houston's accident rate prior to building Metrorail, and that they still didn't take steps to make the design safer. Instead they, like the Chronicle, continually try to change the subject by blaming bad drivers. It's high time Metro started taking responsibility for its mistakes, because our local 'information source' seems hellbent on ignoring all logic and common sense in order to defend light rail transit.

Permalink | Houston's Light Rail

August 02, 2004, 09:01 AM

Today's Features

By Mona Lugay

Make sure you view our Features section for daily commentary on the War on Terror, entertainment “wonders and blunders,” the sports world's best and worst shots, the great outdoors and a little miscellaneous humor. Features section highlights:Jeremy Weidenhof - It’s a Carb, Carb, Carb, Carb World, Lauren Wood - Holocaust Museum Houston, Dick Morris - The Bagel Candidacy and Barry Chambers - Take One Review: The Bourne Supremacy.

Permalink | Humor

August 02, 2004, 08:11 AM

The Chronicle's recycling program

By Anne Linehan

Today the Chronicle publishes an op-ed by former Senator Gary Hart. The tag says “Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle News Service.” Mr. Hart's column ran last Thursday in the LA Times. Yesterday the NY Times ran this Maureen Dowd column. We'll look for it later this week in the Chronicle. Last Friday the NY Times ran this Paul Krugman column. The Chronicle is fond of Mr. Krugman, so keep your eyes peeled. This David Broder column appeared in yesterday's Washington Post. In it, Mr. Broder was critical of Senator Kerry's convention speech, so no telling if the Chronicle will run with it any time in the future. But as a service to our readers, we'll provide a link in case anyone wants to check it out.

Permalink | News and Views

August 02, 2004, 08:00 AM

Robison: Nazi epithets are OK, but Tom DeLay is still evil

By Phil Magness

While the latest Chron editorial page contains a not so uncommon installment of their pathological obsession with hating Tom DeLay, readers today were treated to a two-for-one special. Navigating from left to right across the opinion section's spread, one quickly enters the newspaper realm referred to as the “op-ed” page, or “opposite of editorial” (and not “opinion editorial” as is often believed), better known as the space that most newspapers reserve for non-staff opinion pieces from the community and public at large. The hip new flashy redesigned Houston Chronicle, perhaps in an effort to accomodate bigger font sizes and one-sentence “summary” statements in front of each column to tell you what to think, has opted instead to turn this space into a weekend soapbox for its hyperpartisan Austin Bureau Chief Clay Robison. Today's Robison Rant, of course, is a downright petty complaint against his old nemisis Tom DeLay. The Republican congressman, it seems, committed the unpardonable sin of voicing a personal opinion within earshot of the news media last week. The issue? DeLay complained about a Subway sandwich chain ad running in Germany that reads “Warum sind die Amis so fett?” The slogan translates, roughly, “Why are the Amis so fat?,” the term “Amis” being an old Nazi epithet used against American soldiers during World War II. Though perhaps of minor political significance, lodging a grievance with a large US food chain for a distasteful ad campaign seems to be a perfectly reasonable exercise of personal opinion. Leave it to Robison, though, to turn such DeLay's valid grievance into fodder for a vitriolic rant occupying a third of the Op-Ed page. Robison exemplifies the most extreme characteristics of a pathologically obsessed and downright petty editorialist. He snidely injects partisan invective about DeLay's supposed “voracious appetite for corporate-related cash” while being supposedly unable to “stomach” the Subway ad. Innuendo reigns supreme when Robison suggests that perhaps DeLay “was piqued because Subway executives have stiffed him and his causes,” or because they were percieved to be making an attack on the “fat cat contributors who are his political lifeblood.” When DeLay made note of the ad's depiction of an obese Statue of Liberty with a mouth stuffed full of french fries to compliment its aforementioned “Amis” slogan, Robison launched into a tirade about the war in Iraq! After all, how dare Tom DeLay object to a crude and insulting portrayal of one of our nation's most beloved landmarks! Surely he “needs reminding that millions of Americans, McDonald's and Subway customers alike, also oppose the war.” One may suppose from this that Robison somehow feels that anti-war sentiments justify the use of Hitlerian slurs upon U.S. soldiers to sell sandwiches. Robison then goes so far as to suggest that Subway should change its ad to picture DeLay instead, “his mouth stuffed not with French fries, but with good ol' American dollars.” So what sparked Robison's downright rabid vituperation? Certainly nothing DeLay said in his complaint. After all, it is pretty crass for an American fast food company to run advertisements featuring a Nazi epithet for American soldiers, be it in wartime or not. The only explanation, of course, is Robison's pathological hatred for Tom DeLay - a hatred that his Chronicle colleagues demonstrably share, be it in the conspiratorial light rail memorandum directing reporters to slant their coverage against DeLay or in the weekly editorial page rants against him - rants that no Democrat from the Houston congressional delegation ever faces for anything they do or any position they take. The Chron's anti-DeLay obsession has become so bizarre that Robison quoted the following downright laughable statement from the notoriously obese and hygienically challenged filmmaker Michael Moore, apparently with a straight face:
“The only time I have been scared for my life has been going through a McDonald's drive-through.”
You see, in Robison's warped mind, the inclusion of that quote from Moore in the Subway ad was the “final straw” for DeLay. As with most persons suffering from a pathological obsession, the simple and painfully obvious ironies of everyday life were apparently lost upon him.

Permalink | Chron Bias

August 01, 2004, 05:30 PM

More Fun With Protestors

By Matt Forge

Well, the last balloon finally dropped today at the FleetCenter in Boston signaling the official end of the Democratic National Convention. The streets are being sanitized of protest paraphernalia discarded by activists, and items such as poster board signs, bed sheet banners and burnt effigies serve as a reminder of the week's activities. Here’s the final roundup of protest images for your viewing pleasure. And if you like these, then hold on to your styrofoam party hats when the Republican convention gets started. These people are going to provide an abundance of material to work with – I may not be able to keep up. This time I’ve formatted the links to appear in a pop-up window (I’m very proud that I figured that out).

Activist and police officer partake in a friendly game of Twister...

Sure, bring back Saddam's view of peace, justice and voting rights...

Part-time police officer, part-time chiropractor...

Don't feed the human animals, they're on a strict vegetarian diet...

You sing, ears sting...

Hey, we feel like screaming at these knuckleheads too...

Nap time at the rally...

Water plus shampoo and conditioner can also help that hair, buddy...

PETA still hasn't stopped this offensive outrage?...

We hope you can get your message out to the public someday...

Funny, I remember Gandhi being much thinner...

Scarf from Kim's Menswear=$5. Getting your hidden face on the internet=Priceless...

Hey cop, there's a bank robber right there - get 'im!...

We say: PutUp The Kerrychup...

Hillary Rodham Clinton reveals that she's always been a man (surprise)...

At least he can't bite anyone...

We couldn't agree more (and nice shirts, btw)...

Somewhere over the rainbow - wayyyyy over...

Putting laziness to good use...

Bound to make you crack a smile...

It takes a lot of guts to do this in America...

Activist with a burning desire to show her patriotism...

Permalink | Humor

August 01, 2004, 08:00 AM

The Chron's never-ending DeLay bashing

By Owen Courrèges

The Houston Chronicle's bizarre fixation on House Majority Leader Tom DeLay continues unabated in their editorial pages. This latest piece attempts to sew together all of the politically-motivated smear-campaigns against Mr. DeLay into a rich tapestry of baseless allegations:
First came the grand jury investigation. The Travis County district attorney is trying to find out whether House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's Texans for a Republican Majority spent corporate funds to gain control of the Texas House. Then came Rep. Chris Bell's complaint to the U.S. House ethics committee. The Houston Democrat alleges DeLay's PAC and the Republican National Committee exchanged checks for $190,000, thus trading restricted corporate cash for unrestricted donations. Now comes news of the links joining DeLay, Marc Racicot and the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Co. The railroad has given to DeLay's PAC. Racicot, President Bush's campaign chairman, is a director on Burlington's board and was GOP national chairman at the time of the exchanged checks.
The Chronicle conveniently leaves out a few inconvenient facts: 1. That the Travis County D.A., Ronnie Earle, is a partisan Democrat with a personal interest in a making a bigger name for himself by nailing DeLay. 2. That Rep. Chris Bell is also a partisan Democrat with a personal interest in punishing DeLay for pushing House redistricting, which has lost Bell his seat (in other words, he's very bitter). 3. That the entire railroad 'scandal' involved no apparent illegal activity, nor is there any evidence that DeLay or anybody else is making their decisions based upon a PAC donation. Ultimately, all that exists there is innuendo. Is this really the best the Chronicle has against DeLay? Sheesh, how pathetic. They're really reaching, and still miles away from the brass ring.

Permalink | Chron Bias

August 01, 2004, 07:03 AM

Words to remember:

By Terry Bohannon

On Saturday, July 31, Vice President Cheney was in Reno, Nevada, speaking before an organization of disabled veterans. In this speech, Mr. Cheney reminds us why preemptive action is necessary. He suggests that responding to terrorist threats after they attack only empowers them to attack. The only true way to prevent terrorism is at its source: the terrorist and those regimes that support them. With that in mind, Vice President Cheney's speech:

The Vice President Delivers Remarks to 83rd National Convention of the Disabled America Veterans

Hilton Pavilion Reno, Nevada http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2004/07/20040731.html July 31, 2004 THE VICE PRESIDENT: . . . We are living in a time of great challenge, facing an enemy today that is every bit as intent on destroying us as were the Axis powers in World War II, or the Soviet Union during the Cold War. We face an enemy that is perfectly prepared to slaughter anyone — man, woman, or child — to advance its cause. As we saw on the morning of 9/11, this is an enemy we cannot reason with, we cannot negotiate with, or appease. This is, to put it bluntly, an enemy that must be vanquished. (Applause.) Under the leadership of President George W. Bush, that is exactly what we will do. (Applause.) The President is leading a steady, relentless and determined war on terror, and America is safer as a result. Consider for a moment where we were when President Bush and I took office January 20, 2001. As we were being sworn in that day, planning for the attack of 9/11 was already well underway. Hijackers had been recruited; funds raised; training had taken place. Some of the hijackers were already in the United States. In Afghanistan, the Taliban were in power. Al Qaeda was operating training camps that in the late '90s turned out an estimated 20,000 terrorists. In Iraq, Saddam Hussein was in power, overseeing one of the bloodiest regimes of the 20th century. He had started two wars, produced and used weapons of mass destruction, and was in repeated violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. He was providing safe haven and sanctuary and support for terrorists, and paying up to $25,000 to the families of suicide bombers. When President Bush and I took office, there was a serious problem with proliferation, especially in the nuclear area. A man named A.Q. Khan, the individual who put Pakistan's nuclear program in place, had established a network that was providing nuclear weapons technology to rogue states — Iran, North Korea, and Libya. Moammar Ghadafi, the A.Q. Khan network's biggest customer, was spending millions to acquire nuclear weapons, the basic design, uranium feedstock, and centrifuges needed to enrich uranium. The final problem was that the terrorists had learned two unfortunate lessons from the United States. When President Bush and I were sworn in, there was a pattern extending back many years that had convinced our enemies that they could attack the United States with impunity. They had attacked the World Trade Center for the first time in 1993. They attacked the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996; East Africa, our embassies simultaneously, in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998; and the USS Cole in 2000. And in none of these cases did we respond very forcefully. We treated each incident as a criminal matter, arrested a few individuals and sentenced them to long terms, but didn't understand that we had a much broader problem. Our enemies also became convinced during these years that if they attacked the United States hard enough, if they inflicted sufficient casualties, they could even get us to change policy and withdraw, as we did in Beirut in 1983; and from Somalia, after they killed 19 of our soldiers in Mogadishu in 1993. From their perspective, it looked as though going after America was not only relatively painless, it was productive. And then came September 11th, and it became clear to all of us that we were at war. Under the President's leadership, we moved to strengthen our defenses, to attack the financial networks that supported terrorists, and to improve our intelligence capabilities. No longer would attacks on America go unanswered. No longer would America wait for the next attack. (Applause.) In what will surely rank as one of the most important strategic shifts in our nation's history, the President declared that we would take the war to the enemy. And he established the Bush doctrine, which holds that any person or regime that harbors or supports terrorists is equally guilty of terrorist crimes and will be held to account. (Applause.) In Afghanistan, where al Qaeda terrorists trained and lived, the Taliban were the first to find out exactly what that new strategy means. Working with the Northern Alliance, we launched a military campaign of stunning effectiveness and, in a matter of weeks, drove the Taliban from power; captured or killed hundreds of al Qaeda; put Osama bin Laden on the run; and closed the camps that had trained terrorists to kill Americans. (Applause.) Now, a new government has been established under President Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan. A nation is being rebuilt. Children are back in school. A new constitution has been written. And free elections will be held in Afghanistan this fall. (Applause.) In Iraq, Saddam Hussein is in jail. (Applause.) His regime is gone. His sons are dead. Sovereignty has passed to a new interim government. And elections will be held there by next January. While a continuing U.S. and coalition presence will be required in Iraq, the Iraqis themselves are taking on more and more responsibility for their own country. (Applause.) In Libya, Moammar Ghadafi, having witnessed our determination in Afghanistan and Iraq, has given up his nuclear ambitions. Five days after Saddam Hussein was captured, Colonel Ghadafi announced he would turn over all of his weapons of mass destruction materials. The designs, the uranium, the centrifuges now reside down at a U.S. facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. (Applause.) And A.Q. Khan, the proliferator, is under house arrest in Pakistan. His network is being dismantled. The world's worst source of nuclear proliferation and of weapons technology has been shut down. (Applause.) Three years ago, I think it would have been impossible to imagine these accomplishments. And our nation should be very proud of what we've done, not only because we've removed threats, but because we are helping these nations along the road to freedom. . . .

Permalink | News and Views

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