About that blue wave out of Texas

A number of media outlets have been all aflutter over the increase in Democratic turnout in Tuesday’s primaries in Texas, using it to suggest a Democrat resurgence in the fall.

Newsweek, for example, led with the fact Democrat vote turnout was up “a massive 87 percent” compared to 2014.

It reminded me of growing up in a Texas during a time when everyone knew that if you wanted your vote to count you had to vote in the Democratic primary, because that was where all the races were decided. Of course, it is different now. In Texas one does not declare a political affiliation at the time of registration, but chooses on Election Day. According to Pew Research Center, 39 percent of Texans describe themselves as Republicans or leaning Republican, compared 40 percent who chose the Democrat label.

Near the end of the Newsweek account it did mention that 500,000 more Republicans voted than Democrats, without noting that the GOP vote was 50 percent higher — 1.5 million Republican votes compared to 1 million Democrat votes.

Nor did the magazine make note of the fact that in 2014 the Democratic primary turnout was a paltry 4.12 percent of all registered voters compared to 9.98 percent for Republicans. So doubling the turnout doesn’t mean much.

Daily Kos graphic

Military lapse in providing criminal records to FBI is nothing new

There oughta be a law, people say when anything goes awry.

Government officials and bureaucrats can fix it, right?

So, when the guy in Texas killed two dozen churchgoers we learn he should not have been allowed to buy the guns he used under existing law. It seems the law on the books was not enforced. The Air Force was supposed to inform the FBI about his domestic violence conviction, but failed to do so.

It turns out, according to the AP, this is not something new.

“A February 1997 report by the Pentagon inspector general found widespread lapses,” the news service recounts. “Fingerprint cards were not submitted to the FBI criminal history files in more than 80 percent of cases in the Army and Navy, and 38 percent in the Air Force.

“Failure to report the outcome of criminal cases was 79 percent in the Army and 50 percent in the Air Force, the report said. In the Navy, it was 94 percent.”

Laws that are not enforced are useless.

The failure to turnover records about the Texas church shooter is under review. That’s what they said 20 years ago.

Scene of Texas church shooting (AP pix)


Greens are turning red over these Trump nominees

Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson nominated for secretary of State. (Reuters pix)

Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson nominated for secretary of State. (Reuters pix)

Now, I’m no fan of braggart-in-chief Donald Trump, but you’ve got to love three of his cabinet choices, if for no other reason than they are making the green acolytes turn red with rage.

Today Trump named Texas oilman and Exxon Mobil Corp. CEO Rex Tillerson to become secretary of State and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry to head the Department Energy. Add these to the nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency and you can see why the climate change Chicken Littles are running around like their heads have been cut off.

Rick Perry nominated to head Energy Department. (Getty pix)

Rick Perry nominated to head Energy Department. (Getty pix)

The grease orchard cartel is sure to be angrily opposed by those who have been getting rich on renewable energy subsidies and their Democratic Party allies in Congress.

Though there has been considerable angst about Tillerson’s ties to Russia’s Vladimir Putin, you can count on the greens to thump him on allegations that Exxon has concealed its research on climate change, despite the fact Exxon has bought into the Paris climate deal.

“At a time when the climate crisis is deepening, both the United States and the world deserve much better than having one of the planet’s top fossil fuel tycoons run U.S. foreign policy,” Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune bellowed in a statement challenging the appointment. “We urge senators, who are elected to represent and protect the American people, to stand up for families across the country and the world and oppose this nomination.”

With Perry named to head a department he once proposed be eliminated, the greens will be gunning for him since he has long been a climate change denier.

Scott Pruitt nominated to head EPA. (KFOR pix)

Scott Pruitt nominated to head EPA. (KFOR pix)

Brune said the designation of Perry to head Energy is “an insult to our functioning democracy. Putting Perry in charge of the Department of Energy is the perfect way to ensure the agency fails at everything it is charged to do.” The Energy Department was created by Jimmy Carter following the oil embargo in the early 1970s. The U.S., due to fracking, is no longer relying on Middle Eastern oil.

Pruitt over the years has challenged the EPA’s regulatory overreach repeatedly, often joining with other states, including Nevada, to file lawsuits.

Pruitt said in a statement released following his nomination that Americans “are tired of seeing billions of dollars drained from our economy due to unnecessary EPA regulations, and I intend to run this agency in a way that fosters both responsible protection of the environment and freedom for American businesses.”

The folks at the Sierra Club call him a puppet of polluters and that his appointment is like “putting an arsonist in charge of fighting fires.”

Can anyone remember this much ink being spilled over provious cabinet appointees? Trump might not be draining the swamp but he is sure stirring the waters.



Welcome to Texas and Texas weather

If severe weather is nature’s way of telling me to stay away, apparently I can’t take a hint.

The last time we visited family in Texas we landed in the middle of an ice storm that stranded us in a motel room in Rhome overnight.

This time we landed in torrential rain of Biblical proportions — yes, you know, seven lean years and seven fat. They needed the rain to end their drought, but did it all have to fall in one week? More rain fell in an hour than falls in a year in Las Vegas.

People in Van, Texas, were not so lucky.

On one outing the road ahead was flooded, so we took the road marked detour. That was the only detour sign there was. For at least a half hour we meandered down county roads past towns named Crafton and Newport, past roads named Bugscuffle, past the old home place where an uncle now lives. Some roads were paved, some gravel, some barely one lane wide. We rounded blind corners hoping no one was coming from the other direction. We eventually hit a road with a yellow stripe down the middle and took that as a sign of civilization. Did I mention there was no cell phone coverage for our half dozen or so cell phones, iPads and GPS devices?

Then the tornadoes hit, along with more rain, whipping winds and lightning. We spent an evening by candlelight chatting about past tornadoes we’d known and loathed, listening for that tell-tale roar-of-a-train sound that would mean it was time to dash into the center hallway. Unlike in our younger days, Mom does not have a storm cellar in the backyard.

Our favorite tale of the eccentricities of tornadoes was when our aunt and uncle and family barely made it into their storm shelter, the wind nearly ripping the door off, emerging later to find their home gone. A television set and a coffee table set on the wet floor. A fairly sizable check from a recent sale of calves or something lay on the coffee table.

We’ve tried visiting in winter and spring, perhaps we’ll try the autumn season next.

Texas governor sends National Guard to border to act as welcome wagon for illegals

Texas Gov. Rick Parry has announced that the is sending 1,000 National Guard troops to the Mexican border to halt the flow of illegal aliens flooding across our international border.

Well, no, not really.

He actually announced that he is sending 1,000 trained soldiers to help round up those crossing out borders and quickly turned them over to taxpayer funded boarding houses  for care and feeding until they can be set free in the general population and told to show up for an immigration hearing someday, if they feel like it.

“Technically speaking, if we were asked to we could detain people but we’re not planning on that,” said Adjutant General John Nichols, head of the Texas Military Forces, Nichols, who joined Perry at a press conference today. “We’re planning on referring and deterring — so deterring them with physical presence and referring any people that we see that we think are illegal immigrants to DPS (Texas Department of Public Safety).”


The people coming across the border are not trying to evade the Border Patrol. They readily and eagerly turn themselves in, knowing they’ll be royally treated.

“We think that they will come to us and say please take us to a Border Patrol station,” Nichols said. “We’re going to be prepared to have water there, to render aid if they need it.”

“These children are not trying to evade Border Patrol and there’s no reason to confront them with soldiers,” said U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio.

There is no one even hinting that we should station personnel at the border and tell these people to stop and turn back. No, it is: “Come on in, sit down. Here is good, clothing, medicine and safety.”

It will cost Texans $17 million a month roll out this welcome wagon. That’s $5 million for DPS and $12 million for the National Guard. Perry says he will send a bill to the federal government.

A little Lone Star nostalgia with a musical interlude

Though I have adopted Nevada as my home, you can take the boy out of Texas, but you can’t take Texas out of the boy.

Album cover

That’s especially so since by sisters keep sending me Texas stuff. I can make you a waffle in the shape of Texas with my waffle iron. Bet they don’t have those for Colorado or Wyoming.

I have a Don’t Mess With Texas yard sign and a Misplaced Texan bumper sticker. I have pillow cases and throw rugs with Lone Stars. There are tin stars on the wall. You should see my armadillo collection.

My wife got in the act, too, and bought me a shirt for Christmas with the label Panhandle Slim with cowboys across the front, but we had to take it back, because Texas and I both tend to spread out a bit south of the panhandle.

Though I don’t listen to country music much, tending to favor classic jazz and celtic and folk and zydeco, I do have a Brian Burns station on Pandora on my iPad, which is where I recently heard this amusing piece by the singer who sings mostly about Texas. This song takes you from Bossier City to El Paso and ends in Abilene with his car up in a tree with no recollection of how or why. I sometimes feel that way without the medicinal dosage:

Then there is this tune that takes you all over some familiar territory, including many of my old stomping grounds:

Then there is this Mexican bugle call by Burns. It was played by Santa Anna at the Alamo. Degüello literally means “slit throat” and signals that there will be no quarter and the garrison will be put to the sword to the man. This cheery little piece is my cell phone ringtone to remind me of unceremonious mass career executions at my former newspaper. No quarter, no mercy, no way out:

Thought I’d end on this lighter note.

Federal agency aiding and abetting child smuggling

Border near San Diego (AP file photo)

If you thought Fast and Furious was an insane criminal conspiracy engaged in by the Department of Homeland Security, wait till you read what a federal judge in Texas says about DHS’s co-conspiracy to engage in child smuggling.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen of Brownsville had a case in which a woman pleaded guilty to attempting to smuggle a 10-year-old El Salvadoran girl into the U.S. using the birth certificate of one of her own daughters.

But in an unusual order dated Dec. 13, Judge Hanen accuses DHS of actually finishing the criminal conspiracy by transporting the child to her mother, an illegal immigrant living in Virginia since about 2000. The mother, Patricia Elizabeth Salmeron Santos, admitted hiring human traffickers to smuggle her daughter into the country for a payment of $8,500.

Judge Hanen wrote:

“This Court is quite concerned with the apparent policy of the Department of Homeland Security (hereinafter ‘DHS’) of completing the criminal mission of individuals who are violating the border security of the United States. Customs and Border Protection agents stopped the Defendant at the border inspection point. She was arrested, and the child was taken into custody. The DHS officials were notified that Salmeron Santos instigated this illegal conduct. Yet, instead of arresting Salmeron Santos for instigating the conspiracy to violate our border security laws, the DHS delivered the child to her — thus successfully completing the mission of the criminal conspiracy. It did not arrest her. It did not prosecute her. It did not even initiate deportation proceedings for her. The DHS policy is a dangerous course of action. …

“In summary, instead of enforcing the laws of the United States, the Government took direct steps to help the individuals who violated it. A private citizen would, and should, be prosecuted for this conduct.”

The judge noted this was the fourth such case he had handled in as many weeks. He also pointed out that in each case the government incurred considerable expenses — room, board, airline tickets and the salary and travel expenses of a guardian — to reunite the children with their illegal immigrant parents.

Hanen said it would be less expensive and more efficient to arrest the parents who have committed two crimes, being in the country illegally and engaging in a criminal conspiracy to smuggle children into the country illegally. “Yet, it neither prosecutes nor deports the wrongdoer,” Hanen wrote.

The judge also noted the danger such smuggling poses when tacitly endorsed by a federal agency. In the days before writing his order, the judge said two “illegal aliens” drowned, two are missing and a 3-year-old was found abandoned by smugglers, all near Brownsville.

He also noted that such action aids the violent Mexican drug cartels that engage in human trafficking as well as drug smuggling. In the past year, the judge noted some of the minors being smuggled were assaulted, raped, kidnapped and/or killed.

Hanen indicted the DHS by writing:

“By fostering an atmosphere whereby illegal aliens are encouraged to pay human smugglers for further services, the Government is not only allowing them to fund the illegal and evil activities of these cartels, but is also inspiring them to do so. The big economic losers in this scenario are the citizens of the United States who, by virtue of this DHS policy, are helping fund these evil ventures with their tax dollars. The overall losers, who endure the consequences of this policy, are the citizens on both sides of the border who suffer from the nefarious activities of the cartels.”

The charge that the policy is encouraging this risky behavior is apparent. The apprehension of unaccompanied alien children in Texas alone is up 81 percent in two years.

Who knows how many were killed by those Fast and Furious guns or how many have been killed by the DHS encouraging child smuggling?

The judge’s final words: “The DHS should enforce the laws of the United States — not break them.”

Nevada will doubtlessly be affected by this DHS policy, since the state population has the highest percentage of illegal immigrants — 7.2 percent — of any state, according to a Pew Research Center study. Nevada also has the highest percentage of illegals in its workforce — 10 percent, compared to 9.7 percent in California and 9 percent in Texas.

As I’ve said before, the immigrations laws are not broken, but merely the enforcement mechanism. This administration keeps breaking the laws they took an oath to uphold.

Hanen’s 10-page order: Smuggling case