Archive for March, 2011

A little further down the slippery slope?

March 31, 2011

Well, you could say that

In a potential escalation of the U.S. attack on Mexican drug cartels, Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, introduced legislation Wednesday to designate four Mexican drug cartels as “foreign terrorist organizations” — a designation that could expose Mexican drug traffickers and U.S. gun runners to charges of supporting terrorism.

All right, let me just get this out of the way: I understand what they’re doing here. It would be hard to argue that the drug cartels are not terrorist organizations in every sense of the word. But how far is it from this to going a little further down the chain? If you’re going to say the drug traffickers & gun runners are supporting terrorism, then it’s not really so far to saying the street-level drug dealers — and drug users themselves — are supporting terrorism as well. In fact, that is the only logical conclusion  — and the only right thing to do in context of this act, because where, ultimately, do the drug cartels get their money? If no one was buying the drugs, the cartels would be out of business. They thought the Patriot Act was bad? The logical end of this would make the Patriot Act look like child’s play. Do we really want to go there?

I know we probably won’t — which is a good thing, at least for the Bill of Rights — but what would the politicians say if asked why they don’t go further? Food for thought…

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This presents an interesting question…

March 31, 2011

here:

Two Texas City women, one who is eight-and-a-half months pregnant and the other about four months along, are charged with burglary after police said the pair broke into a man’s apartment in an attempt to collect on an unpaid debt. Police said the apartment resident’s girlfriend was home at the time of the break-in and hid in the bathroom as she called police….

The woman in the apartment told police that two women came to the apartment and started banging on the door, Texas City Police Capt. Brian Goetschius said. She ignored the banging until someone broke in the front room window and reached around to open the door.

I can only imagine how something like that would be spun by certain people if the homeowner’s girlfriend had opened fire. “She shot two pregnant women! Two young mothers-to-be and their unborn children had their lives unnecessarily taken from them!”

Yeah, but what the hell else do you do when people are breaking your windows to get in your house? It didn’t happen here, but it certainly could have if they’d been dealing with a different person. And I know it’s not as cut-and-dried as this, but you’re still dealing with home invaders and you don’t know what kinds of weapons they have on them. It would suck, but you do what you have to do to survive to see the next day…

Mid-1990s music musings…

March 30, 2011

…or, My problem with grunge, right here (emphasis mine — ed.):

…to say grunge was more “authentic” or “culturally relevant” is crap. It was just as much about fashion and image as “hair-metal” had been: it was just a different fashion and image. I never had a beef with grunge itself, just the way it was hyped up at the expense of pretty much everything that had come before in the preceding ten years or so (remember all that “decade of credibility” BS trumpeted by the MTV/Rolling Stone/Spin crowd? Chris Cornell insisting that Soundgarden “were not influenced by heavy metal in any way, shape or form?”) A ton of great music was released in the years ’87-’91-ish, but all anybody remembers are the cheesy video like “Cherry Pie” or “Seventeen.”

That was exactly the problem I had with the whole grunge/alternative movement. Some years back in a discussion I recall someone credited the grunge movement for killing glam metal. I remember thinking, “Yeah, I suppose it did, but the flip side of that is that it made people forget about the other subgenres of metal, too.” To go back to the old cliche, they threw the baby out with the bath water. I appreciate Nirvana a lot more than I used to, and I did start liking Soundgarden a lot when I started exploring other genres besides country. (Steeeeil can’t stand the Red Hot Chili Peppers, though.) However, what seemed to be the discounting of the entire 1980s metal scene really pissed me off — and still does, more so now than it used to because of all the great music from that period that I’ve just recently discovered. I said before that I got a kick out of whoever edited the Wikipedia page for grunge saying that “glam metal…fell out of favor in the face of music that was authentic and culturally relevant.” Talk about ignorant. There was a lot of authentic music getting made in the 1980s. It just wasn’t getting played as much as the glam metal. And what were “2 Minutes to Midnight” and “Fight Fire With Fire” if not culturally relevant?

Or perhaps the word I’m looking for is “timely” — but either way, so what? I think cultural relevance is all relative and thus entirely too subjective to be of use to determine the worth of a piece of music anyway. Yeah, I know it was Wikipedia; but I am certain there are more than a few of that generation who would read that and think, “Yeah, exactly!”

You can debate the whole “cultural relevance” of music all day long, but what gets me is those who gushed about how “meaningful” the grunge & alternative bands’ music was. It might have been, but saying such implies to me that all the music that came along before was just meaningless commercial crap. Such an implication would only be helped along by the discounting of the ’80s heavy metal, and that pisses me off too. I have spoken before about how certain of those bands delved into meatier subjects than getting drunk and laid. That would seem to me to be the furthest thing from meaningless commercial crap — even if, for example, Metallica’s Master of Puppets has sold six million copies.

At any rate, though, I am quite glad that the music survived all of that despite being discounted the way it was in the early ’90s — and that many of those bands are making (wait for it!) relevant and meaningful music today.

So killing a man is a nonviolent offense?

March 29, 2011

Apparently it is, according to Charles D. Butt. (emphasis mine — ed.)

A March 18 Express-News editorial (“Justice system is failing on DWI”) and subsequent letters to the editor criticizing Judge Pat Priest for his decision in the Clayton Don Stowe case are unfair to this honorable judge.

“Shock probation” was created by the Texas Legislature several years ago essentially to give the courts more latitude in sentencing individuals convicted of certain criminal offenses. The idea was to grant shock probation to someone without a prior criminal record in nonviolent and other type cases. DWI comes within that statute.

A judge can sentence an offender (as did Judge Priest) to a term of years (10 in the Stowe case) and retain jurisdiction for 180 days. If within that 180 days the judge considers it appropriate, he can bring the offender back from the pen or jail and place him or her on shock probation, as did Judge Priest.

For those of you just coming here, Mr. Butt was talking about Judge Priest sentencing Clayton Stowe to 10 years of this shock probation; Stowe pled guilty to killing San Antonio neurosurgeon Dr. Roman Hlatky as the former was drunk behind the wheel on IH-10 on the city’s near-northwest side.

He was arrested just after midnight on Sept. 20, 2006, after police said his pickup slammed into the back of Dr. Roman Hlatky‘s SUV as they both traveled westbound along Interstate 10.

It was probably blunt force trauma. That sure as hell doesn’t sound non-violent to me, especially considering the fact that Hlatky lost his life. And even if he hadn’t, Clayton Stowe should still be behind bars. Does anyone really think he won’t get behind the wheel drunk again?

HEB is…what, now?

March 29, 2011

A comment to this blog post:

I don’t understand people’s love affair with H.E.B. They are over priced.

Really? That’s odd. In every town I’ve lived in that had an HEB, it was the lowest-priced grocery store in town — even lower than the vaunted Wal-Mart. (I will note that WM had the second-lowest prices, at least in the Beaumont-Port Arthur-Orange area.) In fact, I remember very clearly when there was an Albertsons in Port Arthur. Of the four grocery chains in the area (HEB, Wal-Mart and Market Basket being the other three), Albertsons had the highest prices. They eventually closed. Do you know what they put in that building when Albertsons vacated it? An HEB. Sabra was telling me a few minutes ago that HEB ran Kroger (the chain the above commenter was extolling) out of San Antonio a few years back because they had better prices. And it doesn’t hurt, as pointed out here, that HEB’s headquarters is right here in the Alamo City. But hometown allegiance will only take you so far.

Tortilla musings.

March 29, 2011

Well now, this was quite timely — and not just because of the infamous Taco Bell incident.

…at the behest of my editors (ye gods, what did I ever do to them?) I ate a Beefy Crunch Burrito to see what would drive a bipedal living soul with capacity for critical thought and myriad drive-thru options to all but reenact the breakfast scene from “Falling Down” over a $.50 price hike for a multi-colored gut-punch wrapped in a feeble excuse for a flour tortilla….

…there’s the deal-breaker. Even a fan of the most abstract art can’t appreciate what’s on the canvas when it comes wrapped in such a poor frame. I’m looking at you, warm, flour tortilla.

No highbrow culinary critique or parsing would do the decimation of said dry, nigh-tasteless tortilla justice. It just plain sucked.

Yesterday for lunch I had brisket tacos, made with leftover brisket from HEB that we had from late last week. And you know what I wrapped that brisket in? I wrapped it in thick, fluffy freshly made tortillas from the HEB bakery, warmed in the oven right along with the brisket. After eating something like that I don’t think I could ever go back to the paper-thin cardboard-flavored monstrosities they use at Taco Bell. Come to think of it, I’m surprised Taco Bell has any kind of presence here in San Antonio with Taco Cabana, because the tortillas the latter uses are so much better that it isn’t even funny. And as far as I know you can’t, for example, get yourself barbacoa tacos and beer at 1:30 in the morning at Taco Bell. (They sell beer till 1:55 AM. I checked.) I don’t know if the folks at Taco Cabana make their own tortillas, but they’re pretty similar to the ones that I was eating yesterday. And I’m sure the tortillas at the little Mexican panaderias are even better.

And yes, I know neither Taco Bell nor Taco Cabana is haute cuisine. But for what it is, Taco Cabana is pretty good — a fat lot better than Taco Bell, for sure.

UPDATE: Oh, good grief. I looked up the location of the Taco Bell, which was mentioned in the mySA.com story. It’s right there at Rigsby & Loop 410 on the east side. Would anyone like to guess what’s on the other side of that intersection? Go on, guess.

Once again, American Jews line up with the enemy.

March 29, 2011

Well, not exactly, but pretty damn close…

Hispanic and Jewish leaders formalizing their alliance

Henry Cisneros called it providential. Two Sundays ago, the scriptural reading at his West Side parish was about the patriarch Abraham and his divine call to start a new nation.

“It was a wonderful moment for me,” he said of the Mass. “It underscored once again why my people, the Latino people, have such deep, profound respect and feelings for Israel and the Jewish people.”

It’s a mutual friendship he hopes to foster into a considerable national coalition. On Monday, Cisneros — the city’s former mayor and federal housing secretary — and Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg wrapped up a conference called “Bridges & Pathways” aimed at formalizing this partnership.

Latinos might respect Israel, but considering who Latinos vote for, said respect is rather hollow — especially these days. As TOTWTYR said in comments here:

Every Republican President has been a better supporter of Israel than any Democrat President. Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush, and Bush were all staunch supporters. Carter, Clinton, Obama, have all been weak supporters at best. Carter is a wholly owned subsidiary of Saudi Arabia, Clinton was a fanboi of Arafat, and Obama is unrelentingly hostile to Israel while kissing the asses of it’s collective enemies.

Yep. I mean, it’s pretty bad when you have the Anti-Defamation League raising hell about your people’s words and actions. I’d be interested to find out what Israeli Jews think of this.

Somehow I think Friedman’s missing something here.

March 28, 2011

don’t you?

…building liberty is really hard. It will be hard enough in Middle East states with big, homogenous majorities, like Egypt, Tunisia and Iran, where there is already a powerful sense of citizenship and where national unity is more or less assumed. It will be doubly hard in all the other states, which are divided by tribal, ethnic and sectarian identities.

What’s he missing? Oh, I don’t know, how about the region’s common thread of denial of rights to about half the population? Is this sort of thing at all acceptable in any kind of rule by the people — democracy OR republic? What if 51 percent of the people say things like honor killings, female genital mutilation and women not being allowed to do things like work or drive without their husbands’ or guardians’ permission is okay? That’s your vaunted democracy, right there. That’s not liberty; you know what that is! It’s the tyranny of the majority that the Founding Fathers and so many other figures from history warned us about! And until that changes, they’re not going to have true liberty. Why does no one talk about any of that?

Oh, look! Another violent criminal who couldn’t get a gun!

March 28, 2011

But he sure as shit killed a man anyway, didn’t he? Maybe two.

Thousands of people mourned a slain Georgia police officer whose killing led to a days-long manhunt for a suspect who surrendered live television….

(Jamie) Hood was sentenced to 12 years in prison in 1997 for armed robbery and released in 2009. In 2001, while Hood was serving time, his 22-year-old brother Timothy Hood was shot and killed by an Athens police officer. Investigators said at the time that Timothy Hood pulled a gun on an officer and was shot when the weapon jammed….

Hood is also suspected in the December slaying of county employee Kenneth Omari Wray

So, to recap. Jamie Hood had proven himself to be a danger to society with an armed robbery but only got 12 years in jail. He couldn’t legally get a gun. Yet here we are. You know how it goes, sing it with me now…

Jamie Hood is yet another person the victim-disarmament lobby has no problem walking free in society as long as he allegedly can’t get a gun. They are always harping on background checks and such, but the fact is that people who do things like rob places with weapons are obvious dangers to society and should damn well be locked up, well, forever. But they’re not. And the victim-disarmament lobby has no problem with this. I wonder why that is?

Bad math.

March 27, 2011

No wonder the school system in Texas in such trouble.

I would be willing to pay as much as $50, as a one-time tax contribution, to offset the state deficit if it could be used to save thousands of jobs. If only a few million Texans felt the same way and donated an equal flat-rate amount of $50, who knows, it might even leave the state with a surplus.

A few million. We’ll just call it 6 million. So, let’s do the math.

$50 x 6 million = $300 million. Pretty hefty chunk of change, right?

Well, so’s the state budget deficit. $27 billion.

So, what portion of 27 billion is 300 million? Try just a shade over 1.1 percent. A surplus, huh?

Of course, that’s only for 6 million people. But even assuming all 25.3 million Texans pitch in 50 bucks, we still wouldn’t even come close to making a dent in the budget deficit.

I know what he was getting at. Some might say I was being pedantic. But he’s the one who suggested a maximum donation of $50 per person. Granted, though, that does sound better than, say, $5,000 per person…