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Good News Dallas
by Carolyn Barta    Fri, Dec 16, 2005, 11:57 AM

Bob Gammage may be a name from the past, but Rick Perry’s lackeys can denounce him for “partisan attacks” and “hollow rhetoric” at their own risk – as Perry spokesman Robert Black (former P.R. man for the state GOP) did after Gammage entered the governor’s race Thursday. At least this Democrat, who knows his way around Texas politics, will hold Gov. Perry accountable.

That’s more than we can say so far of the other candidates in the race. We haven’t heard much yet from One Tough Grandma, who wants to unseat Perry in the Republican primary. Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn ran some radio ads around Rush Limbaugh’s talk show in November but otherwise hasn’t made much noise. For whatever reason – either she’s been unusually silent or the Austin press corps is weary of her – she isn’t getting much ink.

The other Democrat in the race, one-term congressman Chris Bell, is a young newcomer who got drawn out of his Houston district in the famous Texas redistricting redo. But that issue alone won’t give him much traction. Gammage, who has sat in many Texas political chairs – from Legislature to Congress to the judiciary -- could cut short Bell's statewide political career in the Demo primary.

Then there’s Kinky Friedman. Believe it or not, some of my North Dallas friends say they want to vote for the Kinkster – if they have a chance. He’s got to get on the ballot first, and that’s no easy task in Texas, given the high number of petition signatures required and the short time to collect them, about six weeks from the primaries in March to May. So far, Kinky has just been Kinky. While entertaining, he has yet to bring any substance to his campaign.

Here’s hoping that after the holidays, we’ll hear some serious talk from the candidates. Gov. Perry doesn’t deserve a free ride. Texans need to hear whether he has any real ideas for solving the school funding crisis, tax equity or any other state problem. Gammage’s slap at Perry’s Caribbean cruise with a bunch of fat cats to talk about school finance in February, 2004, is just his first shot across the bow.

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by Special to    Fri, Dec 16, 2005, 01:31 AM

Michael Irvin called last night.

Michael Irvin
And we kinda apologized to each other.

I told him about my public stance on his tumultuous Thanksgiving, and how after 16 years of friendship with him, my support had about run out of elasticity. And I told him I was sorry about being as skeptical as I am.

"No, I'm sorry,'' Irvin said. "I'm the one who should be sorry. And embarrassed.''

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by Special to    Fri, Dec 16, 2005, 01:17 AM

Laurence Akiyoshi
DallasBlog welcomes Laurence Akiyoshi to its business section. Laurence specializes in the development and alignment of strategic direction, collaborative organization change and redesign, and executive capability and effectiveness. The industries he has consulted to include entertainment, high technology, manufacturing, consumer goods, automotive, biotechnology, financial services, franchise and restaurant operations, utilities, service and technology start-ups, and aerospace - located throughout the Americas, Europe, and Asia.  He begins his Blog with a discussion on a key executive challenge:  how do you get really smart people to learn?

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by Special to    Fri, Dec 16, 2005, 01:07 AM

Tara Ross
Judicial activism. The issue seems practically omnipresent these days, doesn’t it? Worse, the problem has ripple effects that keep expanding, bringing more and more issues into its wake. Rancorous confirmation battles. Filibusters. Presidents who seek out stealth candidates.

Now, a whole new issue looms on the horizon.

Some commentators have begun to advocate the elimination of life tenure for judges. Implementing term limits will serve, in part, to temper the problem of “political” judges. Or so they say.

Talk about taking drastic action. The U.S. Constitution is a solid and stable document, which has withstood the test of time. It should be amended rarely, cautiously, and only when other options aren’t feasible.

Have the country and the courts changed so much since 1787 that the original constitutional structure is no longer best?

Alexander Hamilton famously articulated the justifications for judicial life tenure in The Federalist No. 78. “[T]he general liberty of the people can never be endangered,” he explained, “so long as the judiciary remains truly distinct from both the legislature and the Executive.” “[T]hat independent spirit in the judges,” he concluded, can best be maintained by the “permanent tenure of judicial offices.”

In other words, the judiciary must be independent if it is to protect the people’s freedom, and life tenure is a necessary component of this independence. Judges must be free to make decisions solely in accordance with the law. They should not have to worry about potential ramifications on their lives or future careers if a judicial opinion proves to be unpopular with a politically motivated individual.

Opponents of life tenure argue that Hamilton ’s rationale is out-of-date. They emphasize that modern courts address a wider range of socially significant issues than their predecessors. Moreover, judges live longer. This combination of factors, opponents argue, makes political judges more dangerous. Term limits will control unprincipled judges.

Obviously, judges do live longer, and they address more important issues. But such factors increase, rather than decrease, the need for life tenure.

Courts that hear more and harder issues must take extra care to be non-political. They must also take extra care to be independent. Without the latter, the former is impossible. Moreover, a politicized judiciary is not inevitable, and Americans should not concede the point so easily, thinking that the best they can do is to give their “political” judges short tenures. Instead, judges who have demonstrated an ability to act in a non-political fashion must be identified and appointed. Once on the bench, these judges should be given the protections that they need to act in accordance with the law, without fear of ramifications from political interests.

Without life tenure, judges (particularly longer living judges) are more likely to seek secondary careers after their time on the bench. Such judges might be pressed to think about the impact of their rulings on their post-court career aspirations. The Constitution offers them protection. They should not be stripped of it.

The boundaries between the judiciary and the other branches of government can be breached in one of two ways. First, the judiciary may impinge on the other branches. Such behavior has become all too common in recent years, as judicial activism has increasingly become a problem. Second, other branches of government may intrude upon the judiciary. To date, judicial life tenure has helped to prevent this latter sort of breach from becoming a serious or consistent issue.

A judiciary that treads into the legislative sphere is obviously a problem. But just as the legislative branch must be protected from an overextending judiciary, so the judiciary must be protected from an overreaching legislature or executive. A new breach by the legislative or executive branch into the judicial sphere will cause matters to worsen. It will not cure the original overextension by the judiciary.

Two wrongs do not make a right.

Certainly, the judiciary must be brought back within its appropriate boundaries. Presidents should appoint judges with long track records of faithfulness to the law. Voters and elected officials alike should become more educated about the proper role of judges so they can hold their elected officials accountable to appoint or confirm non-political, originalist judges.

Once the judiciary has been restrained, all future boundary violations between the branches must be stopped. Life tenure is one of the few mechanisms that allows the judiciary to protect itself against intrusions from the other branches of government. It should be retained at all costs.

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by Special to    Fri, Dec 16, 2005, 12:58 AM

Want to know what the next big thing in ads will be.  Doug Bedell directs you to the Boneless Pig Farmers of America web site.  Oh, and will Gary Moody please drop Doug an email - there is money waiting for you.

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by Special to    Fri, Dec 16, 2005, 12:51 AM

A new Democrat stepped into the ring today intent on taking a swing at incumbent Republican Rick Perry. You may have heard of him. His name is Bob Gammage and he has been a state house member, a state senator, a US congressman, and a Texas Supreme Court Justice. You haven’t heard of him? Ok, he was a member of the Dirty 30. You haven’t heard of the Dirty 30? To bad – those were fun days.

In effect Gammage will is a 67 year old Democrat with a long resume challenging a 47 year old Democrat with a brief resume. Gammage is certainly familiar with state government and politics, and has some old fashioned charisma. He is likely to treat Texas Democrats and maybe later Rick Perry to some pretty blustery rhetoric. The general reaction from around the state seemed to be that Gammage was a man of the past who would be more entertaining than Bell.

The “Dirty 30?” They were a bi-partisan group of ethics reformers from the 1970s who challenged the power of a House Speaker named Gus Mutscher. Who was Gus Mutscher? Well, …

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by Special to    Fri, Dec 16, 2005, 12:30 AM

Kenny Rogers
Norm thought that he knew Kenny Rogers.  He met Kenny more than 15 years ago.   But, Ihe won't to know Kenny Rogers right now.  Norm has a lament for what could and should have been a very happy ending for both the player and his team.

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by Tom Pauken    Fri, Dec 16, 2005, 12:30 AM

Will democracy succeed in Iraq, or is civil war there all but inevitable?

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by Special to    Fri, Dec 16, 2005, 12:26 AM

Southwest Airlines announced today that it would expand it code sharing arrangement with discount airline ATA. The purpose will be to allow travelers in North Texas to fly ATA from DFW to Midway in Chicago and then transfer to a Southwest flight to another destination. Code share simply means that a consumer can by a ticket on either Southwest or ATA for the full ticket and check baggage through to a final destination. Southwest currently flies to 47 destinations from Midway.

ATA is currently in bankruptcy court and offers only four round trips per day from DFW to Midway. That factor limits the amount of traffic ATA can feed into the Southwest route structure through Chicago. However, ATA is expected to increase its schedule when it emerges from bankruptcy next year. Analysts see the ATA move as something of a counter move to American Airlines decision to offer limited service from Love Field. American and American Eagle currently offer five flights a day between Midway and DFW.

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by Carolyn Barta    Thu, Dec 15, 2005, 02:18 PM

Terry Neal, a Washington Post Web site columnist, writes his farewell column today because he’s returning to a newspaper reporting job. He makes some interesting comments that may add to our continuing discussion of blogs and journalism. Neal, who usually writes about politics, says:

If journalism were Congress, the Internet would be the House, the newspaper the Senate. The former is faster, younger, less stodgy, less arrogant and less beholden to tradition. The former is slower, more deliberative, older, perhaps a bit wiser, less emotional, and resistant to the fads, whims and follies of the masses -- as James Madison put it, "a necessary fence against...fickleness and passion" of the lower chamber, or in this case, of the Internet and blogosphere.

I've learned a lot in the three-and-a-half years since I took this job. I've learned that a lot of intelligent, thought-provoking dialogue and content is produced online.

I've also learned that there are a lot of nasty, intemperate, judgmental people out there seeking to co-opt cyberspace for partisan and ideological purposes. There are some great, whip-smart and entertaining bloggers out there. And then there are a lot of hacks claiming to be independent, who have turned out to be nothing more than extensions of the public relations arms of the two major political parties.

I like Neal's House-Senate comparison to Internet/newspapers. As for his other comments, blogs do put more responsibility on the reader to sort out what voices are truly independent and which ones are simply spouting the party line.


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