And no one saw it coming? The French riots: the burning, the looting, and, now, the killing that make you just sad enough, perhaps, to bump freedom fries from the menu and reinstate French fries, out of a fraternal sympathy the French have piggishly denied the Americans since the Iraq war began.
On the other hand, it’s not just the French.
Monday, the U. S. Supreme Court agreed to hear next year a plea against the use of military tribunals to try terror suspects.
"Our country is at war," the President sought to remind his countrymen at a press conference the same day. At war on the battlefield; otherwise imprisoned in a mental morass. Witness the glee with which liberals and assorted W-phobes have assailed their country’s head man for "lying" the country into war. Which he didn’t, operating rather on the same unfortunately flawed information that every other world leader judged credible concerning weapons of mass dest ruction. Anyway there you are. During a war, the commander in chief has to remind us the war is on..
A kind of nutttiness overtakes us -- as the French, our persistent critics from the time the Iraq war came onto radar screens, were overtaken by blindness as to their own condition.
Accommodating Europe’s largest Muslim population, the French could be said to have their hand stuck out for a ruler-slap or a knife stroke: depending on the mood of the militants. Three hundred French towns -- not counting the suburbs of Paris -- struck by rioting! If not war, it certainly has the right look.
War over what? is the question. War over the indigestibility of the Muslim morsel that the West has been trying for several decades to ingest with hope and a glass of water. It’s not working.
Prof. Samuel Huntington’s "clash of civilization" thesis looks more and more plausible as time goes by. One factor in that category neverthless needs more discussion that it has received -- the religious factor: not Christianity against Islam; rather, passionless secularism against passionate discontent and despair, often enough presented in religious terms.
To the extent you’d want to call it a religious war, this one is waged for the most part by religious drop-outs on the Western side. In modern-day France there isn’t much religion of any kind: just spacious indifference masquerading as tolerance. As long as the ordinary Frenchman gets his 35-hour week and August vacation, he’s fine. The asssumption that leisure and gain are what life is about -- c’est la France. And c’est the rest of Europe to one degree or another, a continent drained of its spiritual inheritance by habit and neglect.
Come the Muslims, not so much thirsting for the overthrow of Christianity -- of which there isn’t much in France anyway -- as seeking to convert powerlessness into power by force of numbers and will. Post-Christian Europe lacks a rationale for denying the newcomers that power. What it has to say, mostly, is, voila! -- we got here first. Which "we" did.
The rioters would argue, so what? Firstness confers no special rights. Europe’s "specialness" having consisted in its Christianity, now lost, what reason can there be not to welcome the newcomers? None the riotous newcomers can see. The failure of France in our time is its failure to appreciate why French distinctiveness was rooted, at bottom, in adherence to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So it goes in a closely related way, with Americans. To many W-phobes, American distinctiveness is as offensive and hateful as Christian distinctiveness: a sign of pride and wilfulness. We are the world! Why not act like it?
Whatever makes a country stand out from other countries -- that thing becomes the attribute worth defending against all comers. Clearly, in France, Christianity no longer inspires the descendants of those who followed St. Joan. In America the present crisis is less critical. But nuttiness is infectious. A people who have to be reminded they are at war, fighting for their homes and liberties -- you can’t watch some of these people, or listen to them, without wondering whether avian flu is our deadliest enemy.
Bennett is right. Voters gave City Manager Mary Suhm a thumbs-up and Mayor Laura Miller a thumbs-down by rejecting the strong mayor proposal on the ballot yesterday.
The fact is that the strong mayor concept, once a sizzling hot issue, just fizzled. Even the business community that offered financial support was lukewarm about it. Too much doubt existed about whether this change could “fix” what’s wrong at City Hall.
To be sure, it created too much opportunity for mischief-making by giving the mayor the power to fire the city manager, on the one hand, and a majority of the city council the right to fire the manager, on the other hand. Talk about having to serve two masters… The so-called “fix” would put the manager in an impossible situation of trying to please both, at a time when the mayor and council are often at odds. Plus, who wanted to pay Laura Miller more to be mayor?
As for Suhm, Dallasites saw her manage the post-Katrina situation with amazing aplomb and gave her a vote of confidence, I believe, with the proposition’s rejection.
Having said that, problems at City Hall remain. Miller outlined them briefly when she said she was disappointed and perplexed by the outcome, “given the continuing FBI investigation of corruption at City Hall, the constant tax giveaways, and the now relentless residential property tax increases.” Folks may be turned off by Miller's style, but she's frequently out front in identifying what's wrong.
But after two defeats, who will go back to the drawing boards?
Gov. Rick Perry It appears that a record number of voters turned out statewide to vote in an election that was all about complex constitutional amendments and not about electing candidates. The clear turnout driver was Prop 2 that amended the Texas Constitution to define marriage as being between one man and one woman. Put another way it bans gay marriage. With 90% of the vote counted Texans had voted 3 to 1 for Prop 2. Although it passed in Dallas County by less of a landslide, it still passed almost 2 to 1.
If Prop 2 had no trouble passing other amendments were close or losing. Prop 9 that would have extended the appointed terms of local transportation officials was losing 53% to 47%. Prop 1 that allows the issuance of state bonds for private and public purposes appeared to be winning but by a slim 52% to 48% and it seemed possible enough votes might remain out to tilt the vote. Proposition 3 that would maintain that economic development programs don’t constitute debt was locked in a 50-50 tie. The one measure actually losing would have allowed the legislature to exempt certain types of commercial loans from usury laws; the people indicating they preferred not to trust the legislature with their interest rates. The measure passing by the widest margin was Prop 4 that allowed denial of bail to a criminal defendant who violates a condition of the defendant’s release pending trial. The criminal lost that one 85% to 15%. And their fellow Texans granted the people of Upshur constitutional permission to clear some of their land titles.
Other then the citizens of Upshur counties the big winners were social conservative and Gov. Rick Perry. His aggressive support for the amendment banning gay marriage put him on the winning side and puts some big chips in his pocket for next November. However, while the governor’s aggressive support for the rail bond amendment will keep his campaign coffers filled the closeness of the vote may indicate that there are issues that will resonate with social conservatives beyond social issues and they may not be to the governor’s favor.
The big loser. The Dallas Morning News Editorial Page (Yes, the one where I worked for 7 years). Once upon a time the Dallas News endorsement carried big weight and won elections. The News was aggressive in its opposition to the amendment banning gay marriage and lost big even in its home area. The News also strong endorsed the Strong Mayor city charter amendment and it too went down albeit in a close vote. The news only real winner came with its endorsement of the Dallas prop to establish a homeless shelter. Perhaps in days gone by the news was merely leading where it knew the people were going or perhaps it carried real authority. It doesn’t seem to do either any more.
Tom DunningWith 85% of the ballots counted in the Dallas city charter elections Prop 14 to allocate $23.8 million more for a downtown homeless shelter was winning with 59% of the vote. Downtown developers had thrown money into an effort to defeat the measure and force the City Council to find a new location away from their developments. Some Republican activists were also opposed on the basis of cost. In this contest compassion trumped economics. It is also a personal victory for civic leader and one-time Mayoral aspirant Tom Dunning. Dunning, who was defeated for Mayor by the incumbent, took on the thankless task of heading the Homeless Shelter Task Force at the request of his one-time foe. Always the good soldier and the thorough craftsman Dunning’s standing in the community was almost certainly the difference.
At shortly after 9 PM the Dallas County Election Bureau reported that with 85% of the vote counted voters were rejecting a “Strong Mayor” initiative for the second time this year – although the vote was much closer this time: 53% no versus 47% yes. It would not appear enough votes remain uncounted to alter the outcome.
Although Mayor Miller remained inactive on the proposition’s behalf the defeat can be seen as a second defeat. However, it is also a black eye for the city’s business leadership which put some money and muscle behind its passage after having opposed the “really Strong Mayor” proposal earlier. Those members of the city council who switched from ‘yes’ to ‘no’ in the past few days clearly caught the early direction of the wind.
However, the vote is close enough to deny the City Council much chest beating opportunities. The real winner is City Manager Mary Suhm and her staff whom Mayor recently berated over their handling of the Ray Hunt tax abatement measure. Given the closeness of the vote it is reasonable to assume that the Mayors handling of the Hunt matter may have tilted the vote to the no side and denied Mayor Miller the power to fire the City Manager.
Rep. Ray AllenRep. Ray Allen has announced his decision to retire following the end of his current term. Allen told LSR that he was ready to move on after 13 years in the Texas House.
"I decided that if I were to take on new issues and try to get them through the process, it would take about 8-10 more years," he said. "I'm at a good stopping point now, and on the major issues I have worked on, I think we're in pretty good shape."
Allen said he chose to announce his decision now to allow people back in his district make plans. He said he hoped this would allow some younger people in the district step forward and serve. Allen is nationally known and respected on both sides of the aisle for his expertise on criminal justice issues. He is currently chairman of the House County Affairs Committee and has served as chairman of the House Corrections Committee. He is also known for his support of pro-life and the Second Amendment. In 2003, Allen passed the pre-natal protection act, which allows for civil and criminal penalties when damage is done to an unborn child due to another's unlawful conduct.
Speaker Tom Craddick made the following statement:
"Representative Ray Allen (R - Grand Prairie) has done an excellent job representing the people of his district and Texas. Ray and I have worked together for many years and he could always be counted on to give his best. I will miss Ray's presence here in Austin, and for the thorough work he has done on behalf of the House of Representatives."
Allen is the first Republican to represent his district. Prior to Allen, the district had been represented by conservative Democrats.
Former Dallas Cowboys QB Quincy Carter called our station yesterday. He said that he wanted to get the truth out in the public. He spent nearly 25 minutes speaking in circles. He sounded confused at times. He sounded frustrated at times. And, he sounded desperate at times.
My question is: why did he call? It is so easy to be mean to QC and to laugh at him. I’m not apologizing for QC…I am asking why he picked up the phone yesterday to call the station.
Where did he call from? Was he in rehab? Was he not in rehab? Is he bi-polar or is he not? Has the NFL suspended him or is he free to play as soon as a team chooses to sign him to a contract?
These are all good questions. But the question I have is why did he call?
He said that he wanted to clear his name. He said that he wanted people to know that he’s not bi-polar (as had been reported) and that he’s never used cocaine. But, the more that came out of his mouth, the more questions I had about him.
Sometimes a life reaches an edge. I don’t expect you to admit when you’ve reached your edge. I got the feeling while listening to that interview it was like a man throwing himself a life preserver.
Quincy may have reached his edge. There’s something that moved Quincy to do that at that moment. Legally was it smart? I don’t think his attorneys thought so. Did his appearance on the Ticket yesterday do anything to win back fans? I don’t think so.
I don’t know Quincy Carter well at all…But, I do know for some reason Quincy reached a point yesterday when he just needed to talk to somebody…Anybody. He just wanted to talk. He wanted to get things off his chest. Did he accomplish this? I don’t know.
And whatever you think of him as a player, whether you think he did cocaine or whether you think that he’s bi-polar, Quincy Carter is a human being. And when I listened to the interview I heard a man that was in a desperate situation.
I don’t know if this did any good for Quincy. But something moved Quincy to call. This is a life that’s gone horribly wrong. I just hope he gets the help that he needs.
Mayor MillerElection Day in Dallas finds voters confronted with two controversial local ballot items: Prop 1 expands the power of the Mayor and raises the office’s pay. Prop 14 provides $23.8 million for a homeless shelter to be built in downtown Dallas.
Prop 1 seems to be again about whether Dallas wants a stronger Laura Miller not a stronger Mayor. The fact is that Laura Miller will only be a stronger Mayor if this measure passes AND Dallas voters re-elect her in 2007. If voters don’t want her to be a stronger Mayor there are at present half a dozen strong candidates who plan to provide voters an alternative. That is the whole idea behind democracy.
For the most part the Dallas City Council opposes the plan. They prefer to continue governance my committee. Several members (e.g. Ed Oakley) that were instrumental in drafting the “less strong Mayor” proposal have switched sides and now oppose the measure apparently feeling that Dallas citizens should trust their Councilman not their Mayor.
The Mayor says she will vote for Prop 1 but that she doesn’t really care. Yes, she does. Does anyone really think Laura Miller doesn’t want the power to fire the City Manager? Does anyone think she won’t do that before her term is over? What the Mayor doesn’t want is to be associated with one more personal defeat. And defeat is what I predict for Prop 1.
The homeless shelter has actually drawn considerable opposition. Downtown developers who are pouring a collective half billion dollars into downtown’s revival have poured funds into an effort to defeat the proposal. They maintain downtown won’t revive if there is a homeless shelter sitting nearby. (However, none has suggested they will cancel their projects) The shelter is also opposed by some on the grounds of cost. There are an estimated 6000 homeless in Dallas County so the cost is about $4000 per homeless person.
It is hard to vote against the homeless having a shelter and the head of the commission that selected the location, long time civic leader Tom Dunning, is as thoughtful and deliberate as they come. Most of the established civic organizations have endorsed the measure. But my guess is voters will send the City back to square one. The homeless are not a very powerful voting block and the investors have a reasonable point and taxpayers are hurting. The problem is no one has any idea where square one is.
Gov. Rick PerryFor the relative few who seem to care, today is Election Day. For Texans there appear to be two constitutional amendments that have created some smoke and maybe a little fire: Prop 2 that defines marriage as a state that can exist only for one man and one woman, and Prop 1 that creates a “Texas rail relocation and improvement fund” that can issue bonds to “rehabilitate, and expand privately and publicly owned passenger and freight rail facilities and to construct railroad underpasses and overpasses.” Prop 9 that would lengthen the terms for local Mobility Boards seems to have at least drawn some opposition.
Prop 2 is a key part of Gov. Perry’s re-election strategy. He hopes to mobilize an army of evangelical Christians in defense of traditional marriage and hopes they will come back next year in November. The opposition is the gay community against whom the amendment is directed and presumably its sympathetic friends and family. Conventional wisdom says this won’t be close. While Southern Baptists don’t wield the power the once did there are surely more social conservative even in the new Texas. But the gay community is motivated and this isn’t the old Texas. There are plenty of primary voting Republicans in city and suburb that are "live and let live" baby boomers. Still, it is hard not to predict victory for Prop 2.
Prop 1 also appears to be a major part of Gov. Perry’s re-election strategy. The governor collects lots of large campaign contributions (and in Texas they can get very big) from contractors, engineering companies, and other businesses. This amendment has strong backing from the major chambers and lots of endorsements. The amendment also has drawn opposition from diverse groups. Opponents of the measure say the state shouldn’t be using tax dollars to benefit railroads and the companies that build them. Proponents say the funds will indeed do that but that the economic benefits will be substantial. Opponents say a little-known state agency can issue bonds until it bankrupts the state. Proponents say the legislature will be watching. With that reassurance my guess is Prop 1 will pass but it could be a surprise.
And there you have it: the Perry re-election campaign. First, motivate a large base of social conservatives as George W. Bush did in Ohio last year. Second, water the money tree by pushing a wide range of transportation issues. This is not to accuse the governor of being insincere; he truly believes in his Trans-Texas Corridor. But it does have an added advantage.