Monday, July 31, 2006

Help buy an ad

From email:
Thanks to you and other Darfur activists like you, since Wednesday, over 74,000 messages have been sent to Members of Congress urging adequate funding to protect the people of Darfur.
That's impressive! But we must keep the pressure on all our elected leaders – including President Bush. That's why we’re about to do something we’ve never done before.
President Bush is soon headed to his Texas ranch. To keep the Darfur genocide on his mind even while he’s on vacation, we’re going to run a full-page advertisement in the Waco, Texas, newspaper (the closest big newspaper to President Bush’s Crawford ranch).
Now we are asking for your help to pay for the ad. For a contribution of at least $50, you can sign on and have your name printed in the advertisement in the Waco Tribune-Herald.
But we can only fit the names of 1,000 citizens calling on President Bush to take stronger action in Darfur, so please make your contribution soon.
Click here to make a $50 donation and see what the ad will look like.
The situation in Darfur is critical with hundreds of thousands of innocent people dead millions of men, women and children displaced from their homes and many more at risk.
That is why we are calling on President Bush to:
Push for the deployment of a strong UN peacekeeping force to protect Darfur civilians.
Appoint a Special Envoy to coordinate the U.S. government's Darfur policy and to see that the Darfur Peace Agreement is faithfully implemented.
President Bush must act soon. And we must show him how much Americans are committed to stopping the genocide in Darfur.
Click here to support our work and add your name to the advertisement with a $50 donation today.
Thank you for your continued support.
David Rubenstein
Save Darfur Coalition
P.S. Don’t forget! September 17 is the Global Day for Darfur with activities around the country and around the world. In New York City, the Save Darfur Coalition is hosting "Save Darfur Now: Voices to Stop Genocide," a rally/concert calling on the United Nations to deploy international peacekeepers to Darfur. Visit for information and updates.

Horn ready to battle House giant

From Sunday's WDL:
By JONATHAN BLUNDELL Daily Light staff writer

Many might assume that a Baptist preacher running for the state legislature in the buckle of the Bible belt would have a breeze getting into office - but add a “D” after his name in a largely Republican district and put him in a race against the state House Appropriations Chairman Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, and the game gets much more interesting.
Enter Kerry Horn - a Democratic Baptist preacher from Covington, Texas, who is running for state representative District 10 against Pitts, who has served as representative for the district since 1993.
Horn, a self-described centrist, has spent time with both the Democratic and Republican parties and worked in Austin and Washington before focusing on his master’s of divinity.
The Nacogdoches native managed Gilbert Martinez’s Austin City Council bid in 1991 and served as assistant director of governmental relations for the Texas Association of School Boards.
He has also served as program officer for the Texas Council on Vocational, executive director of the Texas Vocational Consortium, a legislative assistant to the late state Rep. Paul Hilbert, a field operative for former Secretary of State George Strake’s bid for lieutenant governor in 1982 and served as an assistant sergeant-at-arms of the Texas Senate in 1981.
It may be a novelty to some but for Horn, a Baptist preacher running on the Democratic ticket, is not as big of an issue as some might think.
“Folks are trying to figure me out,” Horn said. “The idea of me being a pastor is an issue to some folks, mainly because of the novelty of it, but I don’t see it as an issue at all. Democrats have been pigeonholed for a while now - the Republicans have as well. But too often it’s the extremes of both parties that get the most notoriety. For a centrist like myself it’s difficult to find a home. But I’ve grown tired of politicians trying to act like theologians and pastors trying to act like political kingmakers.”
Horn received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Stephen F. Austin University and took part in the inaugural class at George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University, where he received his master’s of divinity.
Horn said that many are surprised by a Baptist Democrat because many Christians have turned against the Democratic Party over one or two red herrings - a minor issue trumped up as being of great importance, which may be used to distract from more important issues that might help the opposing party.
“There are many Democrats against abortion,” Horn said. “It’s become a political red herring. I don’t want to just dismiss it but same sex marriage and abortion are wrong. I just spend my time trying to make sure those situations are not even an option. The state has co-opted marriage and made it a legal institution, rather than the religious institution it is.”
Horn is also concerned that people have turned abortion into a completely black and white issue.
“People have said there’s no room for grey with abortion,” Horn said. “It’s either black or white. But there has to be room for reasonable dialog. It’s easy to demonize the opposition but that eliminates reasonable dialog. As a pastor I have to deal with folks from many different persuasions every single day. I have to keep the dialog going. When the dialog stops then education and conviction become mired in emotion.”
Horn said he personally opposes abortion but as long as it’s the law of the land he wants to make sure it’s safe and rare.
“I’ve counseled women who are pre-abortion and those who have already had an abortion,” Horn said. “It’s a lot easier looking from the outside-in to paint the issue black and white but when you’re caught in the middle of a situation there’s a lot more issues and decisions you have dealt with.”
Horn is also firmly against late-term abortions.
“Late-term abortions should never be a part of the equation and abortion for gender purposes should never be a part of the equation,” Horn said. “The earlier terms in the pregnancy is the only time I could ever agree with abortion, but I want to work hard to make sure that’s never a question.”
To decrease the need for abortion, Horn said he’s a strong believer and supporter in adoption.
“I’m a big believer in adoption,” Horn said. “We need to make adoption a more viable and smoother process. There are too many children having children and in the end the state ends up paying for that in the long run.”
While there are those in the Democratic Party that believe women should be given a blanket protection for abortion at any and all times during a pregnancy, Horn believes they’re a small minority. He believes most Democrats prefer limited and rare cases of abortion.
“As a centrist I think there’s a lot of wrestling and spiritual wrestling going on,” Horn said. “Each situation is unique and we can’t paint everything with a broad paint brush. These are all broad philosophical issues that we’re dealing with nationwide.”
As a pastor, Horn said he has also been given a passionate heart for helping the have-nots.
“I have a heart to represent the least of these,” Horn said. “There are always those that represent the haves but not as many representing the have-nots. I don’t want to offer a hand out - I want to offer a leg up. We have a moral mandate to look after those in need. There are those living on a fixed income, disabled or born into an environment of difficulty. We need to break the cycle of low economic expectations.”
The state’s budget is also the state’s moral document in Horn’s mind.
“A budget is a moral document and reflects to the world who we are and what we value,” Horn said. “Texans’ core values are community and helping people help themselves and get a leg up. We should be conservative with our money but not conservative when it would help people the most. I’m proud to be a Texan but we can do better. I know it’s clich/ now, but I want to be a uniter.”
Locally, Horn sees two issues as key to the future of Ellis and Hill counties.
“The TTC (Trans-Texas Corridor) is a critical issue,” Horn said. “I think that the premise of the corridor is sound. We have to find better ways to move goods and services and people. But the TTC is so secretive. It has the potential of completely interrupting economic and personal life because of the vastness of the project. The lack of information on the project has made it a very emotional issue.”
Horn is concerned that, across the state, Ellis and Hill counties will be impacted the most by the 1,200 foot-wide corridor, carrying high speed trucks, personal vehicles, rail and utility lines.
“I’m opposed to the whole process because there has not been enough input from the public,” Horn said. “And the contracts between the builders and the state have still not been revealed. I don’t think the legislature realized the vastness of this project when they approved it. If it’s important enough for Texas than Texans should build it. I’m ashamed that Gov. Rick Perry has been very dismissive and arrogant in dealing with the public on this project.”
Along with the TTC, Horn is very concerned about the state of education across the state of Texas.
“The special sessions the legislature held was nothing more than a Band-Aid fix,” Horn said. “The heavy lifting will happen in the future. They simply passed the buck. They had five sessions to deal with education but then they pass something that they acknowledge is flawed and will need to be addressed again later. After five sessions they should be able to create a less flawed system.”
Horn, the husband and son of teachers, said he’s been stressed by the antagonist stance the legislature has taken toward education.
“They’re trying to micro-manage local districts,” Horn said. “The bottom line is they’re taking away local control. It’s created a system of passing the buck. The legislature says something so the state board makes rules and the local districts have to find ways to follow the rules. I think there has been an intentional weakening of the public school system by micro-managing. I personally think the funding issues are just the tip of the iceberg.”
Horn admits he doesn’t have the answers to solve the education problems but believes each revenue stream for the state must be evaluated.
“We have to evaluate all our revenue streams,” Horn said. “There are more things than just property taxes that are hurting people. There are constant increases in fees and it’s costing us more to be born and to die. Where is the money going? The franchise fee could be a good step, but it’s just a step. I don’t have an answer but the legislature has had a fear of looking outside the box. I think there’s potential for many creative ideas out there.”
Horn is also concerned about the divisiveness he sees between the state and local districts.
“There’s a system put in place that pits people against each other,” Horn said. “Teachers are at odds against administrators. Administrators are at odds against the school boards. School boards are at odds against the TEA (Texas Education Agency) and the TEA is at odds against the legislature. We’ve got to stop all of that. The respect given our educators by the legislature is atrocious. The vast majority are teaching because of the kids not because they’re making lots of money. Our attitude has to change so that we’re all pulling on the same end of the rope and not against each other. We have one shot to educate our kids. The next chance we get is the judicial system.”
Horn pointed to several states that determine their future prison needs by testing the reading level of elementary students.
According to Education Week, the governor of Indiana has stated that determining the number of new prisons to build is based in part on the number of second-graders not reading at second-grade level. The magazine also reports that the percentage of children who never make it past the fourth-grade reading level is used to help gauge future prison needs in California.
Horn is also afraid the TAKS test doesn’t help anyone but the test-making industry.
“If the test is given as a gauge or as a pre-test and post-test to learn where deficiencies are, then proper tools can be put in place and used to help the students,” Horn said. “If that’s the purpose of the test, then the end product is nothing but good.”
Horn is also concerned about the state’s desire to award teachers with merit pay.
“Merit pay isn’t going to help,” Horn said. “It’s going to be divisive. I don’t know how you can calculate merit pay based around the TAKS test when not every grade gives the TAKS test. Teachers work as a team and when you start throwing in a bonus it can destroy the team atmosphere. Education is not a business. There are too many factors involved. Every school, class and student is different. Each teacher is going to face different factors. The quality teachers create specific education for specific students. That’s what teaching is all about - not teaching to a test.”
To find solutions, Horn believes politicians must start by being honest with the voters.
“If politicians would tell the truth and trust people to make reasonable choices we’d be a lot closer to finding a solution,” Horn said. “We’ve been selling people short. I trust the will of the people. The real test of leadership is how you tell the truth to power. We have delegated power to our elected officials but there’s someone more important than that because ultimate power is with the people. They might not like the truth - but they’ll respect you for giving it to them.”
According to Horn a lack of honesty and transparency from politicians has turned many away from politics.
“People say, ‘What difference do I make?’ ” Horn said. “The legislatures take a position in Austin when they talk with each other and the lobbyists. Then they come back home and realize the folks back home don’t buy it. This causes them to change their opinion again. If you’re in touch with your district you shouldn’t have to change your position. If you have to make a decision against the grain, come back and give all the information behind your decision. The accountability then takes place at election time.”
As a traditional conservative Democrat running in a predominantly Republican district, Horn’s not concerned about the differences in party lines.
“Party lines are party lines,” Horn said. “I think we’re in a situation where we’re in need of statesmen who will look past party lines. There are too many decisions that are narrow and special interest focused. Decisions are made without looking at how it affects the rest of the government or the state. When the state reduced CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) funding it was very narrow-minded. Unhealthy children cost the state more in the long run. It also reduces the parents’ work time when their children are sick. I’d be very bipartisan in my approach. I don’t have all the answers, nor does my party. But bipartisanship is looking at a big picture point of view and asking the right questions.
“In many ways I’m more conservative than most Republicans; I believe in less government, more local control and fair and equitable taxes. But it’s going to take a positive attitude in Austin that we don’t have right now to get things done. I sense pessimism now in Austin. When I worked there we felt we could do anything to bring positive things to all of Texas,” he said.
Like his beliefs, Horn’s political heroes also cross party lines.
“I appreciated former Gov. Bob Bullock,” Horn said. “He was an old fashioned politician who knew how to work the nuts and bolts of government. Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Waco, has been a model of moderation. I’ve watched him serve and he’s very low key but works very hard.”
Horn has also learned to appreciate those who work in the trenches.
“One of the most valuable things I learned during my first time working in Austin was to get to know the people that run the copiers, set up the rooms and turn on the microphones,” Horn said. “I learned that those people will move heaven and earth to help you if you learn to value and respect them. The folks that do the mechanical things of the legislature - I admire them greatly.”
Horn also admires presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton for their ability to communicate with the public.
“Reagan could communicate on a level that people trusted,” Horn said. “The empathy he could put into the way he communicated showed authentic emotion. Clinton also knew how to communicate difficult things very well. Love him or hate him, he had an ability to communicate difficult things in ways people could understand them.
“I hope to respect those doing the grunt work; learn to work hard even if it’s behind the scenes; develop a knowledge and experience like Bob Bullock, who saw things through many lenses; and learn to communicate like Reagan and Clinton,” he said.
Horn believes the qualities of quality politicians are similar to that of a pastor.
“In many ways, my goals as a politician are similar to those I’ve had as a pastor,” Horn said. “It’s hard for me to not be in touch with people’s hurts and pains as a pastor and I value that part of my calling and I embrace it. It would be a lot easier as a pastor or politician if I were making all the decisions - but I’m not. Yes, I have my ideals and methodology but if I listen only to placate people I’m not being authentic. My sense is that there’s a need for restoration of trust, respect and transparency. People need to know they’ve been told the truth. You can always work with someone telling you the truth. And truth is hard won, but easily lost. You may not agree with how I feel, but you’ll always know how I feel.”
Horn entered the race for state representative because he felt the current issues before the state lent themselves to his background and past.
“My wife got tired of hearing me complain and told me to get up and do something about it,” Horn said. “We’ve been working at our church to improve the lives of those around us and make an impact on them. I think I have the experience to take what I know to the state level and work toward a better Texas.
“Texas is at a tipping point. I think we’ve spent a lot of time creating an ‘us versus them’ mentality rather than looking out for things like education, transportation, parks and more. I’m concerned about the direction our state is heading and how it impacts our children and our grandchildren. I believe in Texas, but I believe in Texans even more.”
Horn lives in Covington with his wife, Laura, and their daughter, a junior at Rio Vista High School, and son, a freshman at Rio Vista Middle School.
“I want to give the voters an option,” Horn said. “Decisions are now being made between good and worse. I think serving is something honorable people do. People should not be skeptical of politicians. I want to restore trust in the state Legislature.”

You can't have your coffee too

I talked with a local pastor about his new church plant last week.
I thought this was interesting. What's your take on it?
"We want to be progressive," the pastor said. "Our music is praise and worship music along with singing out of the hymnal. It's a combination of the two."
Then immediately after that comment his wife made sure to say, "But you won't see us bringing coffee into the church. We're bringing reverence into church."
Does coffee take away reverence in church? Is progressive all about singing "praise and worship?" Can you be progressive and reverent at the same time - or are the two mutual exclusive? What makes a church progressive and what makes it reverent?
It was interesting that they said they wanted to reach out to the unchurched but then complained about visiting another local church where people sitting around them were talking during the service.
Could it be that those people were unchurched and weren't aware of our "Christian way of doing things?"
There was a couple at my church yesterday that was sitting behind me and talking during the service as well. Personally I just tuned them out, but not everyone can do that. I know several people turned around and looked at them, but I wonder how many actually stopped and welcomed them. They didn't look like anyone I recognized. I would guess it was one of the first times at our church. Hope they weren't kicked out or sent to time-out for talking.

James Werner wants in

KERA sent a questionaire to Libertarian candidate for governor James Werner about the upcoming gubernatorial debate.
He is understandably upset that he has not yet been invited or included in the October debate.
He sent me a copy of the letter to KERA and he brings up several intersting points.
I am writing to inform you that I received your “Candidate Questionnaire” via FedEx Friday afternoon. Per our conversation, the stated purpose of this document is to assess my fitness for inclusion in the upcoming Texas gubernatorial debate of October 25. At this time, I plan to delay my response to this questionnaire.
During our telephone conversation of Friday, July 28th, you indicated that I was the only one of the five certified candidates for governor to be sent this questionnaire—and that I remain the sole candidate not to have yet received an invitation to the debate. In the interests of fairness and equity, I will allow the other candidates to be given the opportunity to answer this questionnaire as well. In the interim, I will look forward to receiving my own invitation to the debate...I think it is evident that my candidacy has received extensive news coverage...Clearly, a wide range of high-profile organizations are eager to secure my participation in
these debates...As you are aware, I am the only pro-immigrant candidate on the ballot. I am the only candidate who calls for an end to the destructive war on drugs. I am the only candidate who advocates ending state-sponsored discrimination against gays. I am the only candidate who calls for universal choice in education. And of course, I am the only true fiscal conservative...That said, I hope you will allow me and the other candidates to participate in the debate without regard to your judgment of our newsworthiness. As you are aware, the IRS has fairly strict guidelines for political activities of 501(c)(3) organizations like KERA. The IRS has made it clear that debate sponsors should only consider applying criteria to candidates in situations where they cannot reasonably accommodate all legally qualified candidates...The public square must not be restricted to the wealthy, the famous, and the politically connected. I trust that you agree, and that you will speedily extend to me an invitation to participate in this important event. I look forward to your favorable response.
Don't know what KERA will ultimately decide, but it should get interesting either way.

if it bleads it leads

if it bleads it leads

A local New York TV broadcaster gets had by a couple guys in New York. Makes me glad we don't go "live" with the paper.

My favorite things

My favorite things
Originally uploaded by Jdblundell.

Just another picture from the Dallas Arboretum yesterday

Fly fly

Fly fly
Originally uploaded by Jdblundell.

I've posted a number of pictures from the Dallas Arboretum's Ultimate Tree House event Laurie and I visited yesterday. Click the picture for more.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Welcome to the blogosphere

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the blogosphere Richard Muske and Wes and Susan Craig.
Also, my editor has begun adding her thoughts to the blogosphere on our paper's blog.

You don't miss it till it leaves

Our freezer and fridge have been on the blink the last day or so. It makes a buzzing sound, almost like a pair of hair clippers every ten minutes or so and we realized yesterday evening that it wasn't cooling so well.
When I came home late last night (as in -- well -- it was late), I went to check to see if it had started cooling and the ice bucket for the ice maker had become a bucket full of water.
I came home tonight again and went to get ice for a big tall glass of ice water and sure enough - I think its actually getting warmer in the ice box as we speak. It may just cook the chicken and other food in there before too long.
Anyways, it just got me thinking how much I don't really appreciate things (like water) until its gone. I've never really had to go without necessities for more than an hour or so at a time. I've been really blessed. And granted ICE COLD water is not a necessity -- I still have water, just not cold water.
But think about those who are way less fortunate than you.
I've had discussions recently with many about immigration. I've even had someone tell me that when scripture says, "Love your neighbor as yourself" I wasn't really understanding the word neighbor. And that somehow because someone comes into my country illegally they're not a neighbor.
Did I miss the meanging behind the Good Samaritan story?
But I say all that, to say: think about how blessed you really are.
Gas prices are high, but I still have gas money to go see my friends and family. I can still go to work. I can still drive to Dallas to see my girl.
It's flippin hot outside, but I still have a roof over my head and an A/C and fans to keep me cool.
There are constant debates over political matters in our country, but people are arguing them on TV, not by shooting rocket propelled missles at each other.
But for some reason, we've begun to condemn those around us who have way less than us in their home country and simply want to come to America to make a better life for themselves.
Am I missing something here? Or just rambling non-coherant thoughts.
Well, I'm going to go find some cold water and head to bed - so talk amongst yourselves. Go ahead - talk amongst yourselves and then let me know what you decide.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Latest update on Nigeria

July 29, 2006

Dear Friends and Family,

It has been an interesting year to say the least. Maybe I should say an interesting 18 months. To think about all the changes I have seen in myself, friends and family over the last 18 months is almost overwhelming.
Earlier this year I prepared a letter to ask for support to travel to Nigeria in October with the Christian Wrestling Federation. Shortly after I sent my first batch of letters out, the trip was cancelled and then rescheduled due to logistic matters.
As I began to think about a March 2007 trip, the opportunity arose for me to join the CWF founder, Rob Vaughn, and our original group from Lakepoint Church in Rockwall, to spend two weeks in September and October to work on the logistical issues of bringing a two-ton ring and a live wrestling show to Jos, Nigeria.
Rob and I will join a group of 20 or so individuals from Sept. 26 to Oct. 11, in Nigeria working with orphanages, doing medical missions and preparing to bring our entire CWF team to the country in March.
We are thrilled to even consider the opportunity of bringing our ministry, which has witnessed over 5,000 decisions for Christ in the last six years, to the nation of Nigeria.
We plan to bring a complete CWF team in March to the African nation, for two weeks of CWF shows in soccer stadiums and villages around the country.
For those of you unfamiliar with our ministry, I have enclosed one of our latest newsletters to share our ministry and goals with you.
But for this to happen, we are each asking for prayer and financial backing from our friends and family.
There are some major costs associated with taking our ministry overseas and for myself and Rob, with two trips within six months, the costs will be even greater.
I ask that you please join us in prayer as the time ticks down on the calendar until we leave Sept. 26. I also ask that as we arrive in Nigeria we will find the solutions to the problems we face, including finding a way to ship our wrestling ring to Nigeria or finding a local wrestling promotion that we can rent a ring from.
We also pray that both teams (in September and March) will be able to do God’s work and meet the people of Nigeria where they are and show them the love and grace God extends to everyone. May the people of Nigeria see that we are ordinary men, who have spent time with Jesus (Acts 4:13). Pray that they will see the difference in our lives, which only Christ can bring about. Pray that God will begin to work now in the lives of those we will meet as well as our own individual lives. Pray that each of us will be prepared to share the hope we have whenever we are called upon.
I would also ask that you pray about giving financially to our trip. You can contribute directly to my account, or make a donation to the entire group.
If you feel led to support us financially, you may give a one-time gift or make monthly payments between now and March. If you'd like to make a secure donation online, please click the PayPal button on the left hand column. A small thank you reminder can me mailed or e-mailed to you monthly, if you so choose.
Thank you for your time and may God continue to shine His face upon you.

In Christ,

Jonathan Blundell

For more information on the Christian Wrestling Federation, see the enclosed newsletter or visit:

Did you know?

According to Education Week, the governor of Indiana has stated that determining the number of new prisons to build is based in part on the number of second graders not reading at second-grade level. The magazine also reports that the percentage of children who never make it past the fourth-grade reading level is used to help gauge future prison needs in California.

The real test of leadership

From Democratic candidate Kerry Horn. Horn is running for State Rep. #10:
The real test of leadership is how you tell the truth to power. We have delegated power to our elected officials but there’s someone more important because ultimate power is with the people. They might not like the truth – but they’ll respect you for giving it to them.

Re: Lebanon Update

Mike has some more info on the Lebanon/Israel conflict:
Caught in the middle
Lebanese Christians appear to be right in the middle of what's going on right now in the Middle East, more so than innocent Israelis under Hezbollah rockets, or Hezbollah fighters and sympathsizers under Israeli attack -- but so far, their losses have been fewer.
They sit in a bad spot, which could worsen if Israel does indeed launch a full-scale ground offensive in southern Lebanon. Following is a message from a Lebanese friend...
Lebanon is under siege: Regardless of what your political beliefs are, Lebanon is being destroyed at the time you read this. And there is one thing you can do to help cease the fire: you can make your voice heard against the disaster that's being forced upon the Lebanese people.
Scream your indignation and call for a cease-fire and for the support of the Lebanese government position.
At a horrible time like this, we ask the international community, our friends, you, to stand together with us and react. Only by showing how united you are, will we be able to achieve massive sensibilization and help Lebanese children have a future.
Take a minute to read the note below: it's a summary of the main points of the Lebanese government legitimate sensible call for a cease-fire. Print it out and send it by post, by fax, by email to your local government office, to international newspapers, to international TV stations, to the UN headquarters and missions around the world...anything will help. It only takes a minute.
Thank you.

Calling for a Cease-Fire
July 18th, 2006
Israel is destroying Lebanon. It has no right to do so.
Children, women, innocent civilians are being killed by the Israeli attacks. Entire families are being chased out of their home villages. Bridges, roads, airports, ports, highways, energy plants and communication networks are being pounded to the ground. The whole country has been cut off from the rest of the world.
We, Lebanese people, are sad, we are suffering, we are angry, we are determined and mobilized to work together towards saving our nation.
Israel's initiative is an unfair disproportionate collective punishment inflicted upon Lebanon for the wrong reasons: what is happening today goes beyond the issue of a prisoners exchange.
Neither the government nor the innocent people of Lebanon had been informed or agreed on the kidnapping of the two Israeli soldiers.
Lebanon is in despair: it's a humanitarian and economic disaster.
We call for an immediate cease-fire under the auspices of the UN,
We call for the establishment of the government's sovereignty on all Lebanese territory in cooperation with the UN,
We call for your help to pressure Israel to stop its attacks.
Help us achieve it as soon as possible.
So that Lebanon will survive. Lebanon will survive.

Friday, July 28, 2006

We choose freedom

A blogger in Austin has contributed his contribution to the political discussion with a reminder of the 2004 National Republican Platform.
I'm sure Rick will have some fun comments on this one.

Re: Minimum Wage

Here's some more info on the minimum wage debate:
A package GOP leaders planned to bring to a vote Friday or Saturday in the House also would renew several popular tax breaks, including a research and development credit for businesses, and deductions for college tuition and state sales taxes, said a spokesman for House Majority Leader John Boehner.
The wage would increase from $5.15 to $7.25 per hour, phased in over the next three years, said Kevin Madden, the aide to Boehner, an Ohio Republican.
The maneuver is aimed at defusing the wage hike as a campaign issue for Democrats while using its popularity to spur enactment of the Republican Party’s long-sought goal of permanently cutting taxes on millionaires’ estates.
The Senate could take it up next week before leaving on a monthlong recess.

Kerry Horn

Interviewed Democratic candidate Kerry Horn today.
He's running against Jim Perry, R-Waxahachie, for State Rep. District 10.
Good interview. Hope I can do the story justice.
Look for the story in Sunday's WDL. And later here on this blog.

You voted for them

From email:
A Washington, DC airport ticket agent offers some examples of why our country is in trouble.
1. I had a New Hampshire Congresswoman ask for an aisle seat so that her hair wouldn't get messed up by being near the window.
2. I got a call from a candidate's staffer, who wanted to go to Capetown. I started to explain the length of the flight and the passport information, then he interrupted me with, "I'm not trying to make you look stupid, but Capetown is in Massachusetts," Without trying to make him look stupid, I calmly explained, "Cape Cod is in Massachusetts, Capetown is in Africa," His response click.
3. A senior Vermont Congressman called, furious about a Florida package we did. I asked what was wrong with the vacation in Orlando. He said he was expecting an ocean-view room. I tried to explain that's not possible, since Orlando is in the middle of the state. He replied, "Don't lie to me, I looked on the map and Florida is a very thin state!"
4. I got a call from a lawmaker's wife who asked, "Is it possible to see England from Canada?" I said, "No." She said, "But they look so close on the map."
5. An aide for a cabinet member once called and asked if he could rent a car in Dallas. When I pulled up the reservation, I noticed he had only a 1-hour layover in Dallas. When I asked him why he wanted to rent a car, he said, "I heard Dallas was a big airport, and we will need a car to drive between gates to save time"
6. An Illinois Congresswoman called last week She needed to know how it was possible that her flight from Detroit left at 8:30 am and got to Chicago at 8:33 am. I explained that Michigan was an hour ahead of Illinois, but she couldn't understand the concept of time zones. Finally, I told her the plane went fast, and she bought that.
7. A New York lawmaker called and asked, "Do airlines put your physical description on your bag so they know whose luggage belongs to whom?" I said, "No, why do you ask?" She replied, "Well, when I checked in with the airline, they put a tag on my luggage that said (FAT), and I'm overweight. I think that's very rude!" After putting her on hold for a minute while I looked into it (I was laughing) I came back and explained the city code for Fresno, CA is (FAT),and the airline was just putting a destination tag on her luggage.
8. A Senator's aide called to inquire about a trip package to Hawaii. After going over all the cost info, he asked, "Would it be cheaper to fly to California, and then take the train to Hawaii?"
9. I just got off the phone with a freshman Congressman who asked, "How do I know which plane to get on?" I asked him what exactly he meant, to which he replied, "I was told my flight number is 823, but none of these planes have numbers on them."
10. A lady Senator called and said, "I need to fly to Pepsi-Cola, Florida. Do I have to get on one of those little computer planes?" I asked if she meant fly to Pensacola, Fl. on a commuter plane. She said, "Yeah, whatever, smarty!"
11. A Senior Senator called and had a question about the documents he needed in order to fly to China. After a lengthy discussion about passports, I reminded him that he needed a visa. "Oh, no I don't. I've been to China many times and never had to have one of those." I double checked and sure enough, his stay required a visa. When I told him this he said, "Look, I've been to China four times and every time they have accepted my American Express!"
12. A New Mexico Congresswoman called to make reservations, "I want to go from Chicago to Rhino, New York." I was at a loss for words. Finally, I said, "Are you sure that's the name of the town?" Yes, what flights do you have?"replied the lady. After some searching, I came back with, "I'm sorry, ma'am, I've looked up every airport code in the country and can't find a Rhino anywhere." The lady retorted, "Oh, don't be silly! Everyone knows where it is. Check your map!" So I scoured a map of the state of New York and finally offered, "You don't mean Buffalo, do you?" The reply? "Whatever! I knew it was a big animal."
Makes you really wonder about the people we've elected to represent us.

Re: Minimum Wage

Here are some other thoughts on minimum wage...
I've noticed the last few times that I've gone to What-a-burger that the price of all their burgers and meals has gone up.
You can't even by their basic burger meal for less than the minimum hourly wage.
I would guess that a large percentage of the folks working there make minimum wage - I haven't verified that, I'm just guessing.
So if they have 20 workers making $5.15 and hour and suddenly have to jump to $7.25 per hour, what does that do to the cost of my burger?
I can tell you one thing, unless I'm getting a similar substantial raise, it will be a lot easier for me to curb my appetite for a double meat cheese burger with jalapeanos.
Am I right with my math in thinking that's a 40 percent raise? I was never good at math, but that's what I'm coming up with. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
I'd love a 40 percent raise myself, but I don't exactly see that happening. And even with six years of college* under my belt its really gonna hurt me if prices on everything jump higher to pay for the raise increase.
What do you think?

*Full disclosure: I went to school six years, but still only got a Bachelor's degree. Unlike my sisters Amy, who did it in four and Kara, who will have her Bachelor's and Masters in five. Nerds. ;-)

Minimum Wage increase

From Dallasblog:
In a rare act of acquiescing to political reality Congressional Republicans have scheduled a vote on raising the minimum wage before next week's August recess. The vote will clearly pass but the GOP is divided. Some 31 conservatives wrote to House Speaker Dennis Hastert opposing any action on the minimum wage but 48 other Republicans with large working class populations demanded a vote. The minimum wage was last raised to $5.15 in 1996. Inflation has eaten away most of the benefits of that increase. The new wage would likely rise to $7.25 to keep pace with inflation. Polls have repeatedly shown overwhelming majorities in support of the increase and many Republicans think it could be a devastating issue if not passed.
In my opinion this is a hard issue to decide upon. No one wants to be the party or congressman to "vote against the poor." But you also have to look at how raising the minimum wage will affect everyone else. What happens to the guy who's been working for a year, got a raise and is now making $6 an hour? Now he's going to have to have his salary raised to $8 or more. To be fair the minimum wage affects everyone at every payscale. Hopefully it will turn out for the best for everyone.

This week at Encounter

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Shameless plug

My buddy Rick Reynolds - from back in my Power FM days has his own blog. Check him out.

Homework assignment

Polls across the state are showing each candidate finding differing amounts of favor from the voters.
Depending on which poll you read every candidate has been on top at least once.
Your homework assignment is to write 100 words or less on who you plan to vote for in the November election and why.
And simply saying, "Because he's Gov. McDreamy" won't cut it.
E-mail your thoughts or leave them as a comment.

Re: Debate/Strayhorn

This just in from Libertarian candidate James Werner:
“The whole thing is pretty silly. It shows how debased the level of political discourse has become. It's ironic that KERA is planning to exclude me from the gubernatorial debate. Apparently it serves the voter's interests to prattle on endlessly about each candidate's nick name, but it would not enlighten them in the least to see and hear the most coherent and reasonable candidate on the ballot.”

Strayhorn drops Grandma suit

Independent gubernatorial candidate Carole Keeton Strayhorn has dropped her lawsuit Thursday to get “Grandma” listed as part of her name on the November ballot for governor.
Strayhorn, who was hoping to boost her name recognition among voters, announced the decision a few hours after a judge ruled she didn’t have jurisdiction to decide the nickname case.
“I am a 66 year old grandma,” Strayhorn said. “This isn’t about my future, this is about the future of our children and our grandchildren. This campaign is about Texas’ future. And that is what I want to talk about during the upcoming critical part of this campaign.”
Strayhorn accused the secretary of state of playing politics and siding with Perry on the issue.
“She’s turned herself from a character into a caricature,” Jason Stanford, a spokesman for the Bell campaign said.

Gubernatorial debate

Dallas’ public broadcasting station KERA, Channel 13, has announced a debate has been scheduled for the gubernatorial candidates, Oct. 5.
The debate will be broadcast statewide in English and Spanish.
Democratic candidate Chris Bell and independents Kinky Friedman and Carole Strayhorn are each expected to attend.
Gov. Rick Perry has not confirmed his invitation for the event.
According to a KERA representative, James Werner’s campaign is being evaluated to ensure he meets the debate criteria before he is invited to attend.

Lebanon update

Mike's been keep a better eye on things in the Lebanon/Israel conflict than I have and has posted a few comments from friends he has in the region.
From Lebanon - Word from the Middle East isn't very good right now.

From a Lebanese friend, I hear...

"It's ugly and it's disgusting. The bombings are focused on Hizbollah locations, so it's not like the entire country is being blasted. The problem is that the Israelis have bombed not only Hizbollah whereabouts, but also every major road and port infrastructure that Hizbollah can directly or indirectly use to get in weapons from Syria and Iran. Worst of all is, the number of innocent civilians that are falling is unbelievable. Israel has actually striked on several occassions on pure residential areas with direct hits on residential's total carnage."

From a journalist stationed in Beirut, a warning...

"I just hope there isn't a civil war. I'm convinced that if they send in ANY Western troops as part of an 'international stabilisation force', they will be attacked, and this place will become another Iraq."

Women are like tea bags

Women are like tea bags
Originally uploaded by iamshimone.

For some reason this reminds me of the important women in my life.

RSS feeds

If you're checking Stranger in a Strange Land more than once a day, why don't you subscribe to one of the numerous RSS feeds? I've added a number of RSS feeds on the right hand column for you to chose from, or your can have Stranger in a Strange Land e-mailed directly to your inbox.
Feel free to check the feeds out, or if you'd prefer, feel free to come back to the website as often as you like.

How Frankie gets a charge

How Frankie gets a charge
Originally uploaded by Terry_Lea.

A bad ad? Found this on Flickr. It was made for a contest on which I would assume, by other entries, was for a bad ad for different products.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Star Wars Lego Symphony

Star Wars Lego Symphony

I tell you what, you can find anything on the Internet. For all you Star Wars fans, here's an excellent Lego animation with Darth Vadar directing a symphony of Storm Troopers.

Invisible Children World Tour 2007

Click the text below to apply online at
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Re: Dogs that moo

According to the new People Magazine, Lance Bass of N'Sync fame has come out of the closest.
In the interview, Bass, who has kept his life pretty private up until this point, stated that he kept his sexual orientation to himself because he didn’t want to cause any trouble for the band or hurt the other members’ careers by coming out sooner.
“I knew that I was in this popular band and I had four other guys' careers in my hand, and I knew that if I ever acted on it or even said (that I was gay), it would overpower everything,” he told People.

How not to get your ace kicked

How not to get your ace kicked by the police

Matt sent this one via e-mail... Chris Rock has some great tips and pointers for not getting your ace kicked by the police.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Re: Softbrawl

An e-mail is making its rounds around the state with a copy of our story about last week's softball fight in Waxahachie.
Someone added a song about Church Softball Fights as well.
Good to know Waxahachie is getting known for something other than home to the "black girl in the yearbook."

Blog in space

Dogs that moo

James Dobson and Focus on the Family are comparing homosexuality to dogs that moo.
I'm not sure if this is a clever ad campaign against domestic partners in Colorado or Focus has taking a long run off a short pier.
I wonder how many people are buying it?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Lake Louise

Lake Louise
Originally uploaded by AliceinW.

One word... WOW!
From the photographer:
This turqoise color is the actual color of the lake. It was taken around six o' clock in the morning, the only time (with the evening) that you can have a reflection in these lakes.
-Some explanation from Wikipedia for the color.
Rock flour consists of clay-sized particles of rock, generated by glacial erosion or by artificial grinding to a similar size. Because the material is very small, it is suspended in river water making the water appear cloudy. If the river flows into a glacial lake, the lake may appear turqoise in color as a result.

Mormon Theology

Mormon Theology

Andrew shared this video that's been called "Mormon Theology in six minutes." I haven't studied the religion in depth. Anyone else study it to verify the info in the video?

The US vs John Lennon

The US vs John Lennon

Just saw the trailer for the new movie, US vs John Lennon movie. I'm looking forward to it. I wonder if anyone could make this much difference today?
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

New Robert Randolph album to drop


Burbank, CA - Robert Randolph & The Family Band, led by the critically heralded pedal steel guitarist Robert Randolph, will release its second studio album - Colorblind - on September 26th.
Colorblind, the follow-up to Randolph's 2003 Grammy-nominated debut on Warner Bros. Records, Unclassified, is a potent mix of rock, R&B, country, blues, and gospel that Randolph says was inspired by repeated listenings of albums by Sly Stone, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, and Stevie Wonder. It ranges from the infectious funk-stomp of "Ain't Nothin' Wrong With That" to a blistering version of the Byrds' "Jesus Is Just Alright With Me" (featuring Randolph's friend and mentor Eric Clapton) to such timeless ballads as "Stronger," a duet with Leela James that was written with Steve McEwan (Faith Hill, Kenny Chesney). The New Jersey native collaborated with several other noted songwriters and studio vets, including Mark Batson (Dave Matthews Band, Gwen Stefani), Drew & Shannon (India.Arie, Johnny Lang), Jeff Trott (Sheryl Crow), and top gospel producer/songwriter Tommy Sims (Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton).
"Known as one of the most talented pedal steel players in rock history," observes the Associated Press, and notorious for his and jubilant, roof-raising live shows, Randolph has now made the leap from being a great performing artist to being a great recording artist on Colorblind. "We're fortunate to be good musicians," he says, "and we were able to channel into that foundation during the collaboration process, and grow as songwriters."
Robert Randolph & The Family Band, which includes Randolph's cousins Danyel Morgan on bass and Marcus Randolph on drums, is currently on tour in the U.S. with The Black Crowes through August 12th before joining Dave Matthews Band on the road for several shows, including stops in California, Utah, Colorado, and the two final sold-out shows of the tour in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The full track-listing for Colorblind is as follows:
"Deliver Me"
"Thrill of It"
"Ain't Nothing Wrong With That"
"Thankful N' Thoughtful"
"Jesus Is Just Alright With Me"
"Love Is The Only Way"

Strayhorn losing in polls

According to a recent poll by the Wall Street Journal, Chris Bell has taken a large lead over Strayhorn in the polls.

Perry: 38.3% (+0.6 since June/no change since January)
Bell: 20.8% (+1.1/+2.9)
Kinky: 20.7% (+3.2/+6.3)
Strayhorn: 11% (-3.1/-9.5)

From the Bell Campaign blog:
That's right, 11. E-LE-VEN. Grandma got run over by something. It's a two-person race between the last two people supporting Carole Strayhorn. You can attack the methodology all you want (MOE 3.7%), but it's consistent from month to month, so relative changes among the candidates are important. And when you've lost almost half of your support since you filed as an independent, you are having One Tough Campaign.

Horse Sense: American Chronology, 1776 to 1798

Chronological reasoning is a nearly lost art and skill, as teachers no longer teach important dates and citizens are no longer required to memorize them. It is easy after that to mix things up, easier for manipulators of the mind to lead you down a primrose path. It matters that the Constitution came after the Declaration of Independence. It tells you, for instance, that the Constitution qualifies the Declaration and not the other way around. It matters, because the Declaration was written to throw off an unwritten British constitution, which had devolved into tyranny; whereas, the American Constitution was written down, in full view of the Declaration of Independence, in order to give ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ a practical chance at survival, if these were ever to improve. Democracy was barely in the lexicon; liberty was prized above else. Indeed, the British constitution was almost universally revered by the Founding Fathers, except that, it had been corrupted by king and parliament. They felt that a republican system would be less susceptible to the same kind of experience and concentration of power that led to tyranny, at least if they divided power sufficiently and provided for checks and balances to keep it that way. Moreover, excesses endemic to democratic experiments, both theoretic and in history, gave the Founders pause for thought. They would implement a Republic, albeit, with important democratic provision for electing the representatives. In the early years, however, there were patriots who weren’t sure our Republic would survive; and anyway, they were vigilant to watch the signs of their times, in order to discern a direction to the fledgling nation. They were keen observers of precedent, lest their intent go awry and the Constitution be subverted. The Founders were committed to making the republican experiment work to be sure, but if there were a tendency amongst the Founders one way or the other, it was towards monarchy and not to mob rule. The signs of their times even threatened to make reversion to monarchy possible. Fortunately, the Founders and their polity were better republicans than we are.
At the birth of these United States, rebel-patriots and Founders weren’t interested in constructing a new constitution; rather, they were keen to shatter the old one. Their political imperative and the actions they took were to effect secession from Great Britain, leading only to “Independence” loosely defined. The principle they invoked to justify the imperative and their actions, is clearly spelled out in the Declaration of Independence. It was merely—and profoundly, that when a long train of abuses shall evince design to reduce the people to despotism, then “it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government.” The principle has been in place and must ever be, so long as the Republic resembles the Founders’ at all. Indeed, just two decades after, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison—that is to say, the author of the Declaration in 1776, as well as chief architect at the Constitutional Convention in 1787—both penned words in defiance to the new government they created! Again thinking chronologically, something by 1798 had forced them to clarify limits on power according to the Constitution. The particulars of this something amounted to a serious foreign policy crisis and ill-advised actions on the part of Federalists holding power at the time. Great Britain and France were at war, and the United States was caught between. “High” Federalists under Adams became increasingly anti-republican, even monarchical in character. The Federalist Congress passed the Alien and Sedition Acts, in violation of the First Amendment, making it a crime to publish criticism of government war policies. In response, Madison and Jefferson wrote the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions or “Resolves,” stating that the Alien and Sedition Acts were unconstitutional and that States need not enforce them. Jefferson wrote Resolves for the Kentucky legislature; Madison wrote his for Virginia. The political climate thus created, both by further Federalist excesses and by republican opposition—including especially these Resolves, led to a popular political backlash against Federalists in the Election of 1800. Jefferson was elected President, and Madison became his Secretary of State. But not before they had clearly reaffirmed the principle of the Declaration of Independence to be in full effect, notwithstanding ratification of the Constitution. In the Kentucky Resolves, Jefferson wrote, “the several States composing the United States of America, are not united on the principles of unlimited submission to their General Government.” So whenever tyrants emerge and dare to reign, a quintessential American answer echoes the words of Jefferson and Madison in these great Resolves, written in full view of the Constitution, for rebel-patriots then as now.
Wesley Allen Riddle is a retired military officer with degrees and honors from West Point and Oxford. Widely published in the academic and opinion press, he ran for U.S. Congress (TX-District 31) in the 2004 Republican Primary. This article loosely based on a study of the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions by William J. Watkins, Jr., Reclaiming the American Revolution (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004). Email:

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Don't Count James Werner Out

From Sunday's WDL:

Libertarian James Werner: Don't count me out

Daily Light staff writer

You may have missed the news release, but there is a fifth candidate running in this year's Texas gubernatorial election.
Libertarian candidate James Werner is by far the underdog in the five person race, but with five candidates running, it's still anybody's ball game with less than four months until Election Day.
With independents Kinky Friedman and Carole Strayhorn joining the race against Werner, Republican Rick Perry and Democrat Chris Bell, a candidate won't need a majority of the vote to win.
According to Texas law, the governorship will go to the candidate with the highest number of votes - 38 to 42 percent could win the election.
That's still a likely long shot for a Libertarian candidate, in a state where Libertarian candidate Jeff Daiell only received 66,100 votes, or 1.47 percent, compared to Perry's 2,617,106 votes, or 57.81 percent, during the 2002 election.
But, if recent history holds to be true, the Libertarian audience is growing - slowly but surely.
In 1998 Libertarian candidate Lester Turlington only received 0.47 percent of the vote or 20,711 votes, compared to Republican George W. Bush with 2,550,821, or 68.24 percent, of the vote.
"With the dynamics of the race this year, I believe I have a good chance to win," Werner said. "The race is so unpredictable and different from any other gubernatorial race in the last 100 years. If any of the non-major party candidates win I would not be surprised at all."
Polls across the state show Werner polling between 1 and 5 percent, and often times his numbers may be lower than the margin of error in the poll - but Werner's not concerned.
"It's true that I'm polling significantly less," Werner said. "But grassroots movements do not achieve success overnight. If we remain silent we will not achieve success. Getting out and campaigning not only helps my message, but spreads the party's message and increases awareness of the party. The very nature of this race and the mixture of candidates in the race have resulted in more media coverage than we've seen in the past. We're getting our message out in ways we haven't been able to before."
While his opponents have touted raising millions during the campaign cycle, Werner's latest filings are meek in comparison - to a tune of just $1,400 in his campaign coffers.
"I tend to think money is not as big of an issue as the other candidates like to think," Werner said. "Most Texans now know who they're voting for. If you're for agri-business, Perry's your man. If you're for trial lawyers, you've got your man with Strayhorn. My campaign will not be able to compete with the tens of thousands of dollars going into their campaigns, but with this election the media has been eager to talk to all the candidates. From CNN, to the San Antonio Express-News, to the Channel 8 in Austin, the media is talking to all the candidates. People are asking what are you doing, what's this race all about and why should people vote for you? This year unlike most, the message is getting out and therefore the total money collected is less important. But it really goes to show how rigged the system has become when you look at the sources of campaign finance."
For most Texans, Werner, the Libertarian party and their platform remains unknown, but Werner hopes his campaign will continue to change that.
"Our tagline for the party and the thing we put on all our bumper stickers is, 'Fiscally Conservative and Socially Tolerant,'" Werner said. "When you tell that to people, 95 to 99 out of 100 will say, 'That's me.'"
Werner said that tagline leaves a lot of specifics to be addressed but the party is vigorously consistent in their philosophy.
"One of our major goals is for a small government - on all levels," Werner said. "We want the state out of individual lives and out of the business of business. We feel anything the government can do, can be done better in the private sector."
Outside the campaign trail, Werner, a resident of Austin, is involved in direct fund raising, development consulting, and sales of information management tools for the not-for-profit sector. He's currently employed by one of the nation's largest software firms, serving college and university clients throughout North America.
On a personal level, one of the major points of Werner's platform is his declaration as the only fiscal conservative running for the governor's mansion this year.
"The Republican governor and legislation initiated the largest tax increase in history in the last legislative session," Werner said. "They're strangling businesses in the crib and doing the exact opposite of what we should be doing which is lowering taxes for a business friendly environment."
Werner is supporting what he calls the Texas Fair Tax, which replaces all existing taxes with a single flat consumer sales tax on goods and services.
"My proposal suggests that we include all goods and services as taxable items," Werner said. "Today when you purchase services you don't pay taxes on the services but under my plan they would be included."
According to independent Texas think tank Public Policy Foundation a flat sales tax of 8-10 percent on goods and services would be sufficient to replace all current taxes in the state.
"The adoption of the Flat BAT (business activity tax) would be 'tax neutral' for state and local taxation in total," the group announced in a recent report. "That is to say, the amount of local school ad valorum taxes, franchise tax, and other business taxes eliminated would equal the additional revenues provided by the Flat BAT."
With the proposed flat tax, Werner also proposes reducing the size of the state government by 10 percent within his first term.
"With a smaller government, it's easy to understand you'll need less taxes from the citizens of Texas," Werner said.
Along with his stance as a fiscal conservative, Werner said he also differs from all his opponents by being supportive of immigrants in Texas and the U.S.
"This is a federal issue, but one I have an opinion on," Werner said. "I hope to lobby with my fellow governors to get Washington to solve this issue. As a Libertarian I'm for the free movement of free people. I think that it is unarguable that immigrants are good for our country. They bring far more to our country than they take. People understand that people follow jobs but they don't understand that jobs also follow people. Immigrants don't just take a high-tech computer job or lower paying agriculture jobs. They need a place to live, a car to drive, a place for health care and a Laundromat - all things that are important to live in Texas. And with them consuming these things, it means there are a lot more people and a lot more jobs."
Werner also believes that most immigrants tend to be the hardest working people he knows who are intent on simply pursing the American dream.
"I welcome immigrants and would like to provide guest worker programs for legal immigrants after they pass a criminal background check," Werner said. "As a side note, I believe Kinky's a funny guy - Chris Bell is too, but doesn't need to be. But the fact is that Kinky's offhand comments about abortion are pretty funny unless you're a 15 year old pregnant girl who doesn't know what to do with her baby. His five general immigration policy is funny unless you're an immigrant stuck in the back of a semi-trailer trying to make a better life for yourself. These are serious life and death issues that demand serious discussion."
The other major point of Werner's platform is for the reformation of the criminal justice system in Texas.
"With respect to the criminal justice system, there are tens of thousands of people arrested, tried and imprisoned for hurting no one but themselves," Werner said. "My proposal is to stop this outrageousness. We need to end prohibition against all victimless crimes. No victim, no crime."
Reforming the criminal justice system would include the legalization of illegal drugs, or as Werner puts it, "ending the prohibition against them."
"Rather than talk about legalizing drugs I prefer to say end prohibition," Werner said. "We didn't have an alcohol problem in this country until we made it illegal. Once it was illegal, criminal gangs organized to manufacture and sell this illegal substance. All the problems associated with drug use were associated with alcohol during its prohibition. Once the country got fed up with the criminal element and legalized alcohol again the criminal activity associated with alcohol ceased."
Werner also clarified that ending prohibition is not his way of advocating drug use.
"I don't advocate drug use, in fact I strongly discourage drug use or abusing alcohol," Werner said. "But we're wasting money by enforcing the law, endangering law enforcement and in fact creating more crime. It's also important to point out that everything we're talking about does not extend to minors. You have to be a competent person to make a contract and a child can't make informed decisions about these important issues. Anyone who provides drugs or alcohol to a minor should face the stiffest punishment. And if you do something under the influence of alcohol or drugs it's a crime as well, whether that's driving your car under the influence or robbing a bank to get money for your addiction.
"There are 10 million alcoholics in the US and yet you don't hear about people holding up banks to get beer. They're just as addicted as a drug addict, but because it is readily available, it's easier to get and the problems aren't as great."
On the issue of repairing the education system in Texas, Werner is proposing full vouchers for students to use at any school in the state.
"I would propose a plan that would ultimately shift the responsibility for schools to the local level," Werner said. "My proposal allows for the ultimate in local control by allowing par ents to select the school of theirs and their child's support."
During a recent conversation with a high school journalism class, Werner said the students were upset that he wasn't supportive of raising the money spent on education.
"I reminded them that we are nearing a 40 percent drop out rate across the state," Werner said. "And yet we're still spending a rate of nearly $8,000 per student, per year. I asked how much would be enough -- $16,000, $24,000, $32,000, $50,000? How much do we really need to spend for each student? If we continue to do more of the same we'll continue to yield more of the same results."
With vouchers, Werner said the competition will create better schools across the board.
"Vouchers will encourage extensive competition in the education system," Werner said. "The best schools are going to thrive whether they're public, private or charter schools. And the worst performing schools are going to fade away. That doesn't mean the end of the public school system I think it means an even better system. I think it will make many of our public school systems better because no body wants to go out of business."
And Werner's definitely not alone with his school voucher proposal.
This week Republicans in Congress introduced legislation for a $100 million voucher program that proponents say would empower the parents of poor children to attend private schools at public expense.
The Department of Education Secretary Margaret Spellings called the measure an opportunity for families to increase the number of choices they have for their children's education.
The bill is being sponsored by Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and John Ensign, R-Nev., in the Senate and Howard McKeon, R-Calif. and Sam Johnson, R-Texas, in the House.
"This is really a grassroots kind of proposal," Werner said. "But let's look at a place like Timbucktoo East Texas where there are no other options. Maybe there's only one school for 20 or 30 miles. But suddenly people realize they can be paid $8,000 a student to provide a quality education. Suddenly someone running a home school operation begins to hire an additional teacher or two or three to provide a quality education for more than just one or two students. People will have another option where their own particular preferences are satisfied. This isn't a silver bullet that will solve everything but we've got to think about ways to gradually get where we're going to go. If the public schools aren't offering what people are looking for, then other private enterprises will develop that will serve these kids as well or better than public schools."
Werner also adds that the "one size fits all" means of testing students with the current TAKS test may not be the best route for educating Texas students.
"I'm not a teacher and I don't know the best way to educate," Werner said. "But I've spent time in the classroom as a substitute teacher and I don't believe one size fits all is the best way to educate. I saw the way teachers are forced to teach to the test and it deprives our kids of broader education experiences. Once you introduce school choice, I believe we'll find there's a lot of different ways to educate kids."
And while many might view Libertarian party members as anti-government, Werner is quick to note that he's a pragmatic Libertarian and believes the state still has a role in certain aspects of a citizen's life, like the state's transportation system.
"I'm not a committed anti-government Libertarian," Werner said. "I think the state has some responsibility to assist in the state's infrastructure. I want Texas to continue to be as economically attractive as it can be and our current highway system is not up to the task. I have a couple of proposals in which I tentatively agree with the Trans Texas Corridor. But, as a Libertarian I'm appalled about the seizure of private property. I believe eminent domain needs to be done with extreme sensitivity and I think if it is done, we should be offering shares to the land owners in the private companies that will run the TTC. There should be an incentive for the people whose land will be used. And personally I would like to privatize all our roads. There are three areas where we have the most problems - that's health care, transportation and education - and each of those areas suffer from most government intervention."
But for the Vanderbilt University graduate, with a Masters in Spanish and Latin American literature from the University of California in Los Angeles, only time will tell if his message will resonate with the people of Texas over the high dollar campaigns of his opponents.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Heat Vision and Jack

Phil's been telling me about this pilot that never was. Staring Jack Black and an amazing Motorcycle (voiced by Owen Wilson).
Heat Vision and Jack was created as a 1999 pilot for Fox. Written by Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab, directed by Ben Stiller, this series was passed over by Fox despite critical acclaim from those who've been lucky enough to see it.
The 30 minute pilot is about an astronaut (played by Jack Black) with a medical secret who is on the run from the evil Ron Silver and the rest of NASA, with the help of a talking motorcycle called Heat Vision (voiced by Owen Wilson).
Christian Wrestling Federation

Gotta love being able to laugh at yourself. The funniest part of this Christian Wrestling video is that its all in Spanish for some reason and features Moses verses the Red C. Enjoyable for the comedy of it and the fact that they wrestle on a twin mattress.

Russell "Psycho" Simpson on RAW

Just found out tonight after our show that CWF Wrestler Russell "Psycho" Simpson was on WWE's RAW Monday night from San Antonio.
Guess I don't get to watch it much anymore without my DVR hooked up.
He and another guy jobbed to the new Highlanders. Haven't seen many reviews of the match but PWTorch gave it a star I believe.
I'm sure that's more Highlanders than anything else. Too bad he's not using his Psycho gimick in the WWE, he'd get over a lot faster I'm sure.

Jonathan and Laurie

Jonathan and Laurie
Originally uploaded by Jdblundell.

Looks like I'm needing a haircut. Good thing I'm growing it out. At least that's my excuse for now.

Caption this

Derbystore Eroeffnungsparty 135
Originally uploaded by koljahebenstreit.

TGIF - Caption this.

Today's music trivia

B called me this morn to settle a bet.
Let's see if you can tell what song this is from and who sings it...
I'm not ashamed to let you know
I want this light in me to show
I'm not ashamed to speak the name of Jesus Christ
E-mail me or leave your comments below.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

U2 Live Vertigo CD

Also from ">

First there was 'Melon' in 1994 and then 'Hasta La Vista Baby' in 2000. Now U2 fan club members have another one-off, limited edition release which is not – and never will be – available in the shops.
'U2.Communication' is a double CD release which – like it's cult predecessors – is only available for the U2 fan club and will be discontinued when stocks run out. You can only get it when you subscribe to U2.Com.
The band put the live collection together a few months back to capture the excitement of Vertigo '05 as it travelled across North America and Europe.
Not got a copy yet? We figured you might like to hear a few clips - and watch some video.
Click on the tracks below for an audio sample - and on Vertigo to catch video.
Elevation live FROM Chicago, May 2005
Miss Sarajevo live FROM Milan, July 2005
Miracle Drug live FROM Chicago, May 2005
Vertigo live FROM Milan, July 2005
'U2.Communication' is more than a live record of two U2 shows from the Vertigo Tour: it also features a collection of screensavers from the tour (including the ‘Declaration of Human Rights’, the ‘heart’ and the ‘dove’ ) and a series of computer wallpapers based on the artbook the band created to go with 'How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb'.
The CD-Rom in 'U2.Communication' also contains an interactive audio player so that you can come up with your own playlist of the live tracks.
Find out exactly what's on it and what else you get when you subscribe to U2.Com here
Take a free tour of our Subscription Site here.

Re: U2 to release Sydney DVD

Here's the latest from
Zoo TV Live From Sydney’ is set for DVD release in September. As well as the legendary live show, now digitally remastered, the new release comes with a bonus DVD of live tracks, mini-documentaries and the inimitable ‘Video Confessional’. Details here.
Filmed at the Football Stadium in Sydney, Australia, in November 1993 - and now only available on something called VHS – the film is directed by David Mallet and produced by Ned O’Hanlon and Rocky Oldham. More on the background to the DVD release in the next few days, meantime, here’s the running order.
Disc One
Show Opening
Zoo Station
The Fly
Even Better Than The Real Thing
Mysterious Ways
Unchained Melody
Until The End Of The World
New Year’s Day
Angel Of Harlem
Stay (Faraway, So Close!)
Satellite Of Love
Dirty Day
Bullet The Blue Sky
Running To Stand Still
Where The Streets Have No Name
Pride (In The Name Of Love)
Daddy’s Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car
With Or Without You
Love Is Blindness
Can’t Help Falling In Love

Disc Two
1. Bonus Tracks

1. Tryin' To Throw Your Arms Around the World
2. Desire
(both taken live from the Zoo TV Special, Yankee Stadium, New York, 29th and 30th August 1992)
3. The Fly
4. Even Better than the Real Thing
(both taken live from the Stop Sellafield Concert, G-Mex Centre, Manchester, 19th June 1992)

2. Documentaries
A Fistful of Zoo TV
Zoo TV - The Inside Story

3. Extras
Video Confessional
Numb Karaoke

U2 to release Sydney DVD

Word on the street is that U2 is ready to release a DVD version of 'ZOO TV Live in Sydney.'
The show was filmed in the Australian city in 1993 and was previously released through video format only.
As well as the entire show filmed by David Mallet, the DVD will also come backed with all the obligatory extras.
Amongst the additions to the package are documentaries, unseen live extras and ‘Video Confessional’ where fans unveiled secrets to the concert audience.
The full tracklisting is as follows:
'Zoo Station'
'The Fly'
'Even Better Than The Real Thing'
'Mysterious Ways'
'Unchained Melody'
'Until The End Of The World'
'New Year's Day'
'Angel Of Harlem'
'Stay (Faraway, So Close!)'
'Satellite Of Love'
'Dirty Day'
'Bullet The Blue Sky'
'Running To Stand Still'
'Where The Streets Have No Name'
'Pride (In The Name Of Love)'
'Daddy's Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car'
'With Or Without You'
'Love Is Blindness'
'Can't Help Falling In Love'
No word yet on a release date.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

More Wednesday funnies

From the folks at JibJab who brought you This Land during the 2004 election, I found their latest offering, 2-0-5.

Bush Whacked 2

Someone has edited and put together the State of the Union address you didn't see.

Why Bush won

Someone's put together a photo collection of why Bush won the 2004 election and not Kerry.

My guilty pleasures

Brandi posed a question and listed her guilty pleasures on her blog today. Figured I'd go along and do the same.
So what are your guilty pleasures?

Here are mine in no particular order (and some of these are more recent with my diet):

  • Cheddar Fries from Snuffers - mmmm 5000 calories of goodness
  • HGTV
  • Rachel Ray
  • Blogging in my underwear - at home of course - is that TMI?
  • Fried anything
  • A good cigar
  • A glass of Johnny Walker or Tito's Vodka on the rocks
  • A heartstopper burger from French Quarter in Temple, Texas
  • All you can eat BBQ (especially from Cyclones in Temple, Texas)
  • Anything Will Smith
  • Sleepless in Seattle and You've Got Mail
  • Professional wrestling - what you didn't know?
  • Sleeping in till 1 p.m. on my day's off
  • Say my name

    Frontburner passes along that for only $1.99, Jessica Simpson will sing the "smash single" "A Public Affair" with your name in it. Wow. Or if you're a big fan of mine, I spose you could pay $1.99 to buy a version of the song with my name in it.

    Re: Soft-brawl crusades

    There are some other comments about this story on the WDL blog, but I thought the best was by a really good friend, whom I don't believe wishes to be quoted.
    But the jist of his comment was, "I could say it's despicable when Christians act like they’ve never experienced peace, love, grace and mercy in their life. I could say that because of these people the church is seen as the last place of hope for people to turn to today. I could say that -- but then again I was the one that got a speeding ticket the other day. God help us."
    Let him without sin cast the first stone.

    Soft-brawl crusades

    From todays WDL: (sorry its not online yet)
    Church softball game ends in melee; two players injured, charges pending

    The Waxahachie Police Department is investigating a brawl that broke out between two church teams at the conclusion of a softball game Monday night.
    Officers were dispatched to the scene at the Waxahachie Sports Complex shortly after 10 p.m. in response to a fight in progress.
    The game had concluded, with Ferris Avenue Baptist Church of Waxahachie taking the victory over Good Shepherd Church of Ennis, when the fight occurred.
    According to the police reports, a player with Ferris Avenue Baptist indicated in his statement to police that "there had been tension throughout the game from questionable calls made by the umpires and both teams had been talking trash to each other during the game."
    The witness said that once the game was over, the two teams met in the middle of the field to shake hands but at that point a fight ensued.
    During the fight, at least two of the Good Shepherd team members got bats and began hitting players with Ferris Avenue Baptist, according to the reports, with the Good Shepherd team then vacating the premises prior to the arrival of police and emergency responders.
    One Ferris Avenue Baptist player was struck in the head with a bat, losing consciousness and falling to the ground, where he was kicked by several Good Shepherd players, according to witness reports.
    Emergency responders transported the player, who was throwing up blood and who had suffered cuts to his face and a swollen eye, according to the reports, to Baylor Medical Center at Waxahachie for treatment.
    His condition was not immediately available.
    A second Ferris Avenue Baptist player who was struck on the hand by a bat transported himself to the emergency room for treatment of a possible fracture.
    Umpires confirmed to police the fight started as the team started to shake hands but they were unsure who started it.
    Other witnesses told police they thought the fight started when a Good Shepherd player hit a Ferris Avenue Baptist player with a bat.
    Several Ferris Avenue Baptist players told police that mutual fighting had occurred, however, it was only Good Shepherd members who introduced bats into the melee.
    The lineups of the teams were retrieved from the umpires, and an investigation continues as police try to identify all who were involved, especially the identity of those who used bats to attack their opponents, Lt. Cyndy Wiser said.
    The players who used bats are facing a felony charge off aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, she said.
    "We're urging anyone who was a witness to what happened to come forward and contact either me or Sgt. Rodney Guthrie," she said. "Or, if they want to remain anonymous, they can call our Crime Stoppers number at (972) 937-PAYS. If their information leads to an arrest, a monetary award may be available."
    Wiser said the Waxahachie Police Department would be working with investigators with the Ennis Police Department also to help identify the Good Shepherd players who used bats during the fight.
    Contact the Waxahachie Police Department at (972) 937-9940.

    War on Terror costs $432 Billion

    Numbers released Tuesday show the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimating that the cost of operations in Iraq and the War on Terrorism have exceeded $432 billion.
    About $393 billion of that sum was allocated to the Department of Defense. Because some of those funds are designated for classified purposes, about which little information is publicly available, CBO cannot provide a precise estimate of the amounts obligated to date. However, CBO concludes that DOD has obligated almost all of those funds, with the exception of the roughly $66 billion appropriated in the most recent supplemental.
    Also according to the CBO, 2006 has been the most costly year for the War on Terrorism, with $120 billion allocated for the war this year. The lowest years were 2001 and 2002 with $11 billion and $19 billion respectively.

    Afternoon Delight

    Afternoon Delight

    Here's an afternoon delight for you to enjoy.

    Chris Bell's new ad

    Chris Bell's new TV ad

    Chris Bell has posted his first TV ad online. I really like the idea. It stands out for sure as something different.

    Capital Annex shows some love

    Vince over at Capital Annex showed some love on my article about David Harris, Dem. candidate for Congress (District 6).
    In a lengthy article called a “Face-to-Face” with Harris, the paper’s Jonathan Blundell crafted a fair and balanced article that actually let Harris do most of the talking.
    In addition, it has been reported that the article jumps from the front page across 12 various and sundry pages of the paper. As a former MSM journalist, that’s unbelievable and probably unprecedented coverage for a Democratic candidate in that area.
    My summarizing of such a piece won’t even do it justice; just go read it.

    WSJ - front page ads coming

    According to Dallasblog:
    The Wall Street Journal will begin running ads on its front page in September, perhaps influencing other financially-strapped newspapers to adopt page one ads. Meanwhile, the New York Times has announced that it will reduce the width of its pages in 2008, losing about 5 percent of its news space. The Journal will move to a smaller page size in January. Both papers ran stories about the changes Wednesday.
    Newspapers across the country, facing declining classified ad sales, higher news print costs and drooping circulation, are seeking creative ways to pump up profits. The Journal will offer a “jewel box” space in the lower right-hand corner of the front page or a “banner” running along the bottom of the page. USA Today has run a strip ad along the bottom of its front page since 1999, and now most other Gannett papers also run page one ads.
    And why not? Internet viewers have gotten used to banner ads on home pages, and newspapers must take some steps to counter the influence of the blogosphere. Sure, page one space has been sacred, but looking back in history, newspaper sold front page space. In recent months, the Journal has begun offering ad space on some of its other section fronts and on European and Asian editions. The paper’s publisher says that hasn’t been an issue with readers. With 1.7 million in circulation, the WSJ is second in print circulation to USA Today. Many readers will recall when the Dallas Morning News had a daily Neiman-Marcus ad on its local news front.
    As for the reduction in the size of the WSJ, the paper will shrink by three inches next year. But publisher Gordon Crovitz says the same amount of information will be published, even with the narrower width and page one ad. The reduced size could prove popular with readers, particularly business travelers who try to read the extra-wide WSJ on airplanes.
    The NYT, which just reported flat second-quarter earnings, also plans to close one printing plant, thus cutting one-third or about 250 of its production jobs in the New York region. The company eliminated 700 other jobs over the last year.

    Jesus said 'Knock You Out'

    Our lead story in today's paper is about a fight that broke out during a church league softball game in Waxahachie.
    There's so much fun you could have with a headline on this story...
    Ferris Avenue Baptist of Waxahachie and Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Ennis apparently had enough of each other and had an all out brawl at the end of their game Monday night.
    According to witnesses, a member of the Ferris Avenue team was knocked unconscious when he was hit in the head with a bat. He fell to the ground and was then kicked repeatedly. He was transported to Baylor Waxahachie.
    I've heard of backsliding Christians before, but this might take the cake.