Dallas County hasn’t had a butt-kicking District Attorney since the days of Henry Wade. Old-timers in Dallas are going to remember that come next year when the office will be open, due to Bill Hill’s retirement. Republicans, in particular, could benefit if they nominate…drum roll, please…Judge Henry (Hank) Wade Jr.
As they say in East Texas – Viola!
Peggy Lundy brings out this possibility in comments to a previous post. Republicans have other potential candidates, but the one who “can do the job and win against the Dems without spending money and valuable time playing catchup” is Wade Jr., who sits on a criminal district bench. “Others know it and they're talking,” Lundy writes.
Other potential GOP contenders include Judge Vic Cunningham, another criminal district judge, and Dan Hagood, who was the special prosecutor in the recent fake-drug scandal. Both Wade and Cunningham would have to give up their judicial positions to run for DA.
What about Democrats?
Paul CogginsFormer U.S. Attorney Paul Coggins would be the perfect pick for the Democratic candidate for district attorney. Harvard-educated, Coggins is a super smart guy and a tough prosecutor. While he’s always been interested in politics, his wife, Regina Montoya, has been the family member to run for office – unsuccessfully for Congress. The problem for Coggins is that he has a lucrative – and I do mean lucrative – law practice. He would make a financial sacrifice to go for DA.
So what about State Sen. Royce West?
Another credible choice and a savvy politician. West has always wanted to be Sen. Royce WestDA -- ran and lost before he won his seat in the Texas Senate and briefly considered a 1998 race when Republican John Vance left the job. He was a prosecutor in the DA’s office before going into private practice and becoming a state pol. West also has reasons not to run, including giving up a sure Senate seat for an iffy DA’s race. Also, he has seniority in the Senate and his law practice has flourished since he’s been there.
Democrats who indicated their intention to run even before Hill bowed out include: Craig Watkins, a lawyer who ran a surprisingly close race against Hill in 2002; Larry Jarrett, a longtime federal prosecutor; and B.D. Howard Jr., a Dallas lawyer.
Jarrett resigned last spring as a federal prosecutor. He worked several years under Coggins, prosecuting drug and firearms cases and doing law enforcement community activities in drug-infested areas. Before that, he worked as an assistant district attorney for two years under Vance.
With Democrats gaining strength in the county, the DA’s race could top the local ballot. Hill had come under criticism for his slow reaction to the fake-drug scandal and other controversies, including his feud with District Judge Manny Alvarez. A clean slate Republican would not have to face those issues.
“I believe that children are the future….” So goes one of the 1990s most cloying, yet irritatingly catchy songs. “Teach them well, and let them them find the way….” I’ll bet the treacly melody is already running through your head right now. Hard to get out, isn’t it? Try slapping a classical CD into your PC—Mozart, maybe. Let good music drive out the bad.
Still, the sentiment is sound. And like most clichés (such as “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world”) it’s anchored in the truth. Such simple realities, which are easily obscured by ideology, don’t go away just because we hide our eyes.
Careful parents know that the help they give their children in choosing a college will make a profound difference in how they turn out—in the development of their souls as well as their scholarship or success. That’s why millions of dollars are spent every year on tutors, SAT preps, campus visits, expensive applications, and 1000-page college guides. But too few of these resources address what is really the central question of college education—what does a given school teach, how well, and why? That is what we try to do in Choosing the Right College, a regular publication of Intercollegiate Studies Institute. Serious high school students also want to know what College best fits their interests.
In the current edition of Choosing the Right College, which I edit, over 130 schools are covered in greater depth than you’ll find anywhere else. Here is what we have to say about Texas schools which are covered. They are in alphabetical order:
Southern Methodist University
Southern Methodist University is known as one of the leading schools in the Southwest—and the finishing school for the children of the Texas business elite. There are probably more Mercedes-Benzes with Jesus fish parked here than anywhere in the world. And the school has steadily been developing its serious side—attracting and displaying serious scholars, not only in areas in which the school is traditionally competitive (such as business and fine arts), but also in political science, history, psychology, and engineering. Whether the average freshman will fully appreciate and take advantage of the educational opportunities here is another question.
A massive fund raising campaign that ended in 2002 resulted in 80 new endowments for academic programs, 171 new student scholarships and awards, 16 new academic positions, and 14 new or renovated facilities. The university’s literature claims that as a result, it has been greatly strengthened in key academic areas, including science and technology. There’s more to Southern Methodist University than meets the eye, and one doesn’t need to be a future first lady (Laura Bush is one of SMU’s prominent alumni) to prosper here—or, with a little investigation and effort, to design for oneself a college education of substance.
Southern Methodist University is one of the more prestigious places to pursue a business or related degree in the region. SMU is a principal training ground for Dallas ’s professionals, and its Cox School of Business offers the most popular majors—business and finance. One special opportunity for select business undergraduates is the BBA Leadership Institute, a seminar program taught by outside business leaders and professionals. Part of SMU’s Cox School of Business, the program offers classes and seminars that address real-life business situations.
Beyond that, the university has a solid academic reputation in the humanities that has actually been improving lately. English, political science, history, and psychology are well-regarded among the liberal arts at SMU, and its theater and arts programs are nationally recognized.
Terrell OwnesDoes it really amaze anyone that the emergence of the "sports boob" has achieved such a lofty position in our consciousness? We may be witnessing the nadir of this "boobdom" with Raphael Palmeiro's excuse that his steroid "outing" was the result of a B-12 shot gone bad. Anybody that swallows that load of organic has either been with Gilligan on the island for the last 10 years or a sycophant of the highest order.
Let's not confuse Palmeiro's brush with deception with the real reason behind this lie. The most recent visual we have of the handsome , latin slugger is pointing a finger at a congressional committee swearing that he had never, ever used steroids... Bingo!... A few months later getting busted for just that.
Failing the test, while bad, is not the most grievous of Rafy's sins as far as I'm concerned. It's the need to perpetuate the lie with more lies that should stick in the craw of any sportsphile.
It's all about his legacy. It's all about the Hall of Fame. It's all about Raphael Palmeiro appearing, well, perfect.
Terrell Owens, on the other hand, wants you to believe that he's just another superstar athlete being abused by the system. That and the proclamation from his "over the top" agent that Terrell is a "wonderful human being".
This is the wonderful human being that didn't listen to coaches, shunned team regulations and had no reservations at all about bad-mouthing other teammates with little or feigned remorse.
Think about what any franchise will have to give up in team continuity to place this player on their roster. Would you want this guy fomenting his special brand of "wonderfulness" in a locker room with you while you and your teammates are concentrating on winning a title?
Both of these men are rich beyond most average folks wildest dreams. We've all paid good money to watch the Rafys, Owens, Mosses, etc. do their magic. How much more are we as fans willing to put up with to make sure they make it into their respective Halls of Fame?....Then ask yourself who are the real boobs.
[EDITORS: It is the goal of DallasBlog.com to serve as the new “public square” where a wide range of views, ideas and observations can be presented and debated. Mr. Brian Burns, a retired pilot, has submitted an essay that is what amounts to a diary of several days he spent as a volunteer with the 'Texas Minute Men Border Watch.' Regardless of whether you approve or disapprove of the Minute Men and their efforts you will find Mr. Burns’ account a fascinating read. It is longer than most posts you may read here so settle in. You may even want to print and read. The copyright belongs to Mr. Burns. As always, we welcome your response.]
Copyright 2005 by Brian J. Burns, All Rights Reserved.
This is a recollection of what happened in my small effort to secure our southern border. I am a member of the Texas Minutemen Border Watch, www.txminutemen.com, and we are currently monitoring a 22-mile section between Fabens and Ft. Hancock , Texas , which are borders towns southeast of El Paso . We will be there from October 1-31, 2005 . I was there from September 30-October 8.
My background has been one of a professional pilot for the last seventeen years, mainly flying air ambulance; recently I have retired and own a home inspection business. I also have drug interdiction experience with the US Coast Guard.
I left the Dallas area with much excitement. Not that I was looking forward to sitting in the desert with a lawn chair and binoculars; but excited that I was going to make a difference in the immigration debate. I was tired of calling and faxing my congressman and President. It seemed that average citizens doing the job that the federal government wouldn’t do—and shaming them in the process—was the only thing that got the attention of the press and government.
The drive was uneventful and I checked into the local hotel in Fabens. (Notice that I said ‘the hotel’ as in the only one; Fabens is not a large metropolis). I met the co-founders of the Texas Minutemen, Shannon McGauley and Carl Smith, and we talked about where we were setting up locations between Fabens and Ft. Hancock. Most of our fixed positions were on private land; in fact we had so many requests from ranchers that we didn’t have enough men (and women) to place on everyone’s land. I discovered that we were short of people for two reasons; first, hurricane Katrina and Rita took a lot of our people for first-responders i.e. paramedics, law enforcement, and military. Second, our border watch last April in Arizona had the majority of people show up during the first week of the month-long vigil. So this time we asked people to come the second, third, and fourth week of October. We communicated this request so well that most of the TMM didn’t show up when I arrived. However, much more were arriving on the last few days that I was there.
Because we were short of people, the strategy was to use roving patrols mixed with fixed patrols. Once we discovered intelligence that there were certain areas between Fabens and Ft. Hancock that were “hot”, we would staff a few of us at a rancher’s land. However, we used roving patrols to fill in the gaps and to see where the illegals would cross next; they had scouts on the Mexican side, and they reported when they spotted us. They knew our fixed positions too, and made adjustments.
On the first day, Carl took a group of us from the hotel and drove us out to one of our locations near Ft. Hancock . Several of us followed him on Texas Highway 20 to a rancher’s property; it was our eastern sector headquarters. In a barn, we had set up ham radio communications, internet service, and a staffed command center. I was later to learn we had a communications center in the town of Fabens and another rancher’s property near the Port of Entry at Fabens.
Carl and I decided to do a roving patrol on the levy after he showed us around the property. Let me explain. The Border Patrol drives on a levy road that overlooks the Rio Grande River . It starts on eastern edge of this rancher’s property, approximately four miles west of Ft. Hancock, and runs all the way west to the Port of Fabens and Calexico, Mexico, and beyond. The Rio Grande is only twenty yards away from the road. The distance is about twenty miles. The single-lane road is not paved but is well maintained and you can do between thirty and forty miles per hour with no problem. To the north of the levy road starts the rancher’s property. Most are cotton and pecan growers; water runs freely through irrigated fields. The only place to get off the levy road is at a reservoir about six or seven miles west of the Ft. Hancock/rancher’s headquarters. The levy road has the river to the south of it and irrigation canals to the north so there is nowhere to get off.
We both had radio communications with Ft. Hancock headquarters and Fabens; I was armed, and I had my video camera with me. We left in his vehicle; we decided not to put any fixed positions on the levy road because of the isolation of our members, and the fact that foot traffic on the levy road made sensors trip. We wanted to keep BP happy. We decided that having a roving presence on the levy road made our numbers look larger; in essence, ‘we looked like we were everywhere’.
We let the BP know we were going to be on the road and started out. We stopped at our first checkpoint; it was a major staging area for illegal crossings. Parts of the Rio Grande had partial dams, or irrigated canals, and the Mexicans came down to picnic and swim in the dirty water. However, Carl informed me that most of the people down here were scouts for illegal crossings. In fact, to prove his point, we stopped on the levy road and he told me to pull out my camera and see what happened. There were a couple of cars out on the Mexican side. As soon as I pulled the camera out and started filming, the people started gathering up their belongings and got into their cars and left. Imagine that. They didn’t want to be filmed. We stopped at this location over several days, and by filming the spot, the traffic at that location completely disappeared. No scouts wanted to be filmed; charges could later be filed for human smuggling. Nobody wanted that.
Before coming to our second checkpoint, which was a reservoir that allowed us to get off the levy road, Carl spotted something and slowed down. We both looked off at the brush on the Mexican side and he spotted two Mexican soldiers. They were dressed in solid green camouflage uniforms and pillbox hats. We stopped and look through our binoculars. We saw M-16’s hanging over their backs, pointing down. They spotted us and began walking away to the west, remaining on the Mexican side. About every twenty or thirty yards they turned around to look at us, acting in my opinion, to see if we were still watching; they would turn each time and smile, as though it was a big joke. Finally, after walking three hundred yards or so, they disappeared around a bend in the river and brush. We continued on. I regret not getting a video tape of the event; they surprised me in a way, and the first thing I grabbed was my binoculars. I didn’t make that mistake again.
We made our way to the reservoir, which is one-third to halfway between Ft. Hancock and Fabens. Since we were just getting used to the area, we turned around and made our way back to the Ft. Hancock HQ.
Our routine worked out to be the day shift doing roving patrols. The majority of TMM worked the night-time when most of the activity occurred. I enjoyed working the day because I wanted to get film of illegal activities on the border. However, we did work a few night locations.
The rest of the day was spent with reporters (not my favorite thing). I tried to stay out of their way. El Paso Times did an interview at the Ft. Hancock HQ/rancher’s land. Some of us went out to the levy road while they took pictures and interviewed. The Austin Chronicle showed up and didn’t seem to want to go away. We were trying to get communications set up and some of us didn’t want them following us around and asking questions. We wanted Shannon to answer those important questions; we were just the grunts on the ground. Point in fact—Austin Chronicle went with a group on a rancher’s land that night and nothing got accomplished. Why? A group of reporters stomping around in a pecan grove, asking questions, isn’t conducive to being quiet and spotting illegal crossings and drug smugglers. I’m glad I didn’t go on that one. However, common sense prevailed, and TMM realized that wasn’t a good idea and didn’t try that again.
The next night I decided to go on a night patrol on a rancher’s pecan farm about ten miles west of Ft. Hancock . This time I had the wonderful experience of meeting the ACLU.
A caravan of cars left the Ft. Hancock HQ at sundown and got on Highway 20 and drove west to the rancher’s land. As we drove from HQ onto the highway, we all saw a white Jeep Grand Cherokee parked on the side of the road. One of us had the bright idea to suggest someone get their license plate and we did. The Jeep then began following us to the rancher’s land.
Typical of the ACLU, they actually followed us onto the rancher’s property, even though we had permission to be there and they did not. We pulled next to one of the rancher’s homes and remained in our cars. The Jeep had three people in it and was filming us; we turned three big spotlights on them so they couldn’t; in a few minutes, the owner of the property showed up and talked to the ACLU. I then began filming them. He told the ACLU that we had permission to be on his property; they did not. He politely (more politely than I would’ve been) told them that they had to leave, and that the El Paso Sheriff’s Department had been called. They responded by saying that they had called the Sheriff as well and that we had “forced them to follow us”. How do you force someone to follow you? They also said we were bad people, and that they had a right to keep an eye on us. Not on his property, he replied. These people are here because I want them here. They are protecting my property from drug smugglers and illegal aliens that tear up my pecan groves and cost me thousands of dollars. After several minutes of arguing, they finally left before the Sheriff could arrive. However, two deputies did arrive and one took our statements, while the other detained the Jeep at the front of the rancher’s property. The rancher was nice enough to give them a warning for criminal trespassing; their driver’s licenses were recorded and license plate taken down and entered into the Sheriff’s computer. They had driven past two large, posted No Trespassing signs to get on that property. If they showed up the next time, they would be automatically arrested. Doesn’t it just make you feel warm and fuzzy about the ACLU? Why they are looking out for you!
My schedule during the next several days consisted of fixed and roving patrols. Carl and I worked on setting up a ham antenna at a rancher’s property west of the Port of Fabens . When we finished that afternoon, we decided to a levy road patrol. We called the BP to let them know we would be on the levy, and started out in separate vehicles. We went east on the levy road for approximately eighteen miles until the levy road ended four miles west of Ft. Hancock. We stopped at various hot spots that we knew the coyotes or scouts liked to have their “chickens” cross the road (we could hear their radio talk refer them as “pollos” (chickens). A favorite spot was the reservoir. It fed the irrigation canals that ran east-west, north of the levy road; the canals made it difficult to cross, but the reservoir had a few spots that made it easy for illegals to cross over the canals and dash for Highway 20, which was only four or five hundred yards away; from Highway 20 they were either picked up by smugglers waiting to transport by car, or they made the longer trek to the railroad farther north or I-10. We saw several scouts that day on the Mexican side. This time we saw two males with two vehicles; one of them had the hood of their car up, as if they had car trouble. Interestingly enough, when I turned the camera on them, the hood came down, the engine started, and they drove off. Those Mexicans know how to repair their cars quickly!
Carl and I made our way to Ft. Hancock ; met with some TMM there for a few minutes, and then made our way back to Fabens. Along the way, we stopped at a few ranchers who live by the reservoir and Highway 20. I listened to their stories of being threatened and invaded on their own property. [Names have been changed] The Hermans live north of Highway 20 and near the reservoir. Both husband and wife live in a “siege” mentality. Four or five dogs guard the perimeter of their house. Burglar bars are on all doors and windows. Both are armed at all times, and are certified gun instructors. As of October, both have stated to me that they have illegals crossings on their property on a daily basis, day and night. Earlier in the summer, the crossings were perhaps once a day, in a group of five to ten people. Now, it is every three to four hours with groups of between fifteen and thirty. Since it is their own property, they are not shy of apprehending these people and holding them for the sheriff. Some are illegals only; some are drug smugglers; drug smugglers have shot at them. The Hermans shoot back.
The Waynes, who lived near of Highway 20 and the reservoir, have had scouts and coyotes stop at their ranch and ask to use their telephone. They said they were having car trouble. After the Waynes figured out that they were calling people to let them know they had a car in place, they asked them to leave their property. These coyotes were waiting by the side of Highway 20 for the illegals to cross, and then drove off with them. The Waynes have been calling the BP, but about six months ago, the drug smugglers knocked on their door and threatened them. They flat out told them that if they continue to call the BP, they would kill them. I respect the Waynes ; they are still calling the BP. I felt like I was in the movie, “ Fort Apache ”.
I was now getting into a routine. I would start out in the late morning and drive down from Fabens proper to the Port of Fabens . I would pick the hot spot, five hundreds yards west of the POE and park my Explorer there. I pulled out my lawn chair and put it on top of the SUV; because the levy road was elevated, it was hard to see into Mexico without sitting high. I pulled out my binoculars, hand-held radio, video camera, and sat down to watch the circus. I had my 1911 3” Micro on my hip, and my shotgun in the cab of my Explorer. This spot was on one of our rancher’s land. As the days went by, I would come to this spot for an hour or two, and then Carl and I would make a levy road run in the afternoon. We would normally drive all the way to Ft. Hancock and turn off on Highway 20, thereby returning to the Fabens area. Along the way, Carl and I would stop at select ranches/farms to check their property. Occasionally, we would have suspicious cars parked along 20, and we would call it in to the Sheriff. Sometimes I videotaped them, too.
On this day, in the early afternoon as I sat on the roof of my SUV at POE Fabens, I was looking through my binoculars and spotted two men. They were on the Mexican side and walking west to east towards the Mexican checkpoint. Both were dressed in black; that could mean Mexican Special Forces, or Judicial Police, or just scouts that wanted to look intimidating. I pulled out the video camera and taped them; as I did, I got the “one-finger salute” from them on three occasions. I even got a wave from them that said, “Come on over here, if you dare”. We have such good neighbors to the south.
However, I also spotted several farm workers picking up bails of hay on the Mexican side. They waved at me in a nice way. I waved back.
I talked to a BP Supervisor who came up to my spot. He told me that they caught fifteen OTM’s (Other Than Mexicans) just fifteen minutes before I got there. They are later found to be Brazilians. Day or night, it doesn’t matter; they cross five hundred yards in front of the Port of Entry; even in front of the BP!
I also had an interesting conversation with an El Paso Sheriff’s Deputy about an incident that occurred at my spot about six months ago. The Sheriff’s Deputy told me that Mexican Special Forces (who were trained by our military) crossed onto the American side to retrieve a drug smuggler. According to the Deputy, the drug smuggler’s son was with him (don’t know his age). He said that they took him and his son back to the Mexican side, poured gasoline on the father and burned him alive. They sent the son back to the cartel to deliver a message. If that happened as my source reported it to me, this was not done to protect Mexico or America ; it was done because the military was supporting a drug cartel and didn’t want the competition. You still think the Mexican military are out to secure and protect their border?
Final note—I was also told by the same deputy that if I was at this spot at night, I’d better have a long-gun, preferably an AR-15; the Mexican military and drug cartels carried M-16’s or better. Both of these groups (in my opinion, one and the same) shot at whatever got in their way. “The drugs must go on…..”
On my regular patrols to Ft. Hancock , Carl and I stopped at HQ and asked some of the men there if anything happened today. They said that the ACLU was out here—twice--and told by the ranch’s foreman to leave; they knew this was private property and still came out; they didn’t care. The Hudspeth County Sheriff came out, but arrived too late. They promised to make more random patrols on the ranch for us. They also told us that the ACLU had left someone behind in the bushes, but some of the TMM heard him and scared him off (Be careful of strange people in the bushes).
We decided to go back on the levy road instead of returning to Fabens via Highway 20. It was nearly sunset. At our first checkpoint, which was the irrigation point on the river that Mexicans swam at, we came upon two vehicles parked on the levy. Since there is only room for one car at a time, they were essentially blocking our path. We stopped about a hundred yards away from them. Carl pulled out his binoculars, and I pulled out the video camera. Who was it? Lo and behold! The ACLU and the Mexican television station TeleVista. They were trying to film border crossing to actually help facilitate the crossings! By this I mean they were encouraging the filming of crossings. So, it was about six people; four ACLU and two Mexican reporters. They were filming us and we were filming them. We drove up to them and Carl lowered his window slightly and said, “Would you please move your vehicles; you are blocking a public road”. Four of the individuals had white t-shirts with red lettering, “Legal Observer” in English and Spanish. One of the guys asked, “What are you guys doing out here?” I replied, “None of your business!” He just nodded and realized he was being filmed. He gave me a hook-em horns sign (UT) and mouthed something obscene. They were probably UT/El Paso students. I felt they wouldn’t have been that pleasant if I hadn’t have been filming.
Here’s a funny story (or perhaps ironic). The television station’s car had Chihuahua license plates. One of the ACLU people was carrying a Chihuahua dog in his arms as he filmed us. It’s just one of the weird things I noticed. We continued our patrols.
We now have some help from above. We have an aircraft equipped with a ham radio that can spot activity. We are now getting good intel from above and Carl and I are checking it out. The plane is scaring the illegals and drug smugglers; as soon as they assemble on the south side of the river, the plane spots them and we make a patrol on the levy road. Several spots for regular crossings are going quiet.
I find lots of discarded clothes and water bottles on several ranchers’ property. Most of the ranchers I meet are the reason I am doing this border watch. Their families and their way of life is what America is all about; they are kind and appreciative of the work we do. The sons and daughters of the ranchers will bend over backwards to help me. They reminded me of why I am here, trying to put my finger in the dike of America .
Today is the busiest day yet. I head out to POE Fabens; I do my routine of sitting or standing on top of my SUV. I spot a scout on the Mexican side; he’s wearing a nice yellow oxford shirt. I spot him hiding in the bushes with a hand-held radio. I put the video camera on him and he disappears back to the Mexican POE.
In a little while, I spot two SUV’s on the Mexican side. They are acting like surveyors; they have poles and equipment, but they don’t seem to be doing much surveying; they keep looking around instead of doing their job. I’ve been told the POE area has been the most surveyed area in Mexico , but they never build anything there. Some time goes by, and I notice two people jump out of one of the SUV’s; they each have water bottles. I have one other TMM with me; his name is Pete. I tell Pete that I think they are going to try to cross about five hundred yards to the west of our location on the rancher’s property. I wanted to stay at my present location in case they tried to cross here instead. He took off in his vehicle and followed the levy road via the rancher’s private road that paralleled the border. A few minutes go by and I call him on the radio and ask what is happening. He comes back and says, “They’re getting ready to cross”. I ask him, where are the illegals and he says, “They’re on the levy road”. I ask where you are. He replies, “About fifteen yards away from them”.
My immediate response is, Pete, that’s way too close. Back up to about a hundred yards away. You don’t know if these are illegals only or drug smugglers; drug smugglers will shoot you without even blinking. (Pete doesn’t have any military experience). You are there to only observe. He told me then that five were now on the rancher’s property and another five were on the levy road. Pete thought there were more on the other side of the levy road. I told him that I called the BP and they were sending a K-9 unit. Just keep them in sight.
At this time, our aircraft became involved and started flying over the spot. BP showed up on the property and was approaching the area. Because of this activity, we all felt that the illegals decided to turn around and go back into Mexico . Pete returned back to my spot after talking to the BP.
Here’s an interesting story. Remember when I told Pete to back up and get about a hundred yards away from the illegals? I think he was embarrassed by this; it took him a few hours to tell me this. He finally opened up and told me that one of the scouts talked to him. A scout “popped up” on the levy road with a hand-held radio. Pete was only fifteen yards from him. The scout said to Pete, “Are you a Minuteman?” Pete said nothing. Then the scout threatened him. “Do you have any wife and children?” Pete didn’t fully understand this, and I explained to him that it was a definite threat.
“Pete”, I said, “You understand that the Texas Minutemen had a full-page spread in the Calexico newspaper only two days ago? They know we are here”.
I told Pete that if the scout would have said that to me, he would have completely understood my language. I would have come around to the side of my Explorer, with the engine-block separating him from me, and pulled out my Mossberg 500 shotgun with rifled slugs. I would have cocked the shotgun once, and just leaned over the hood of my SUV, NOT pointing it at him. He would have understood my universal translator.
People, who are willing to threaten you like that, can be willing to do worse. You cannot see on the other side of that levy road. He could have had three compadres hiding with M-16’s. However, it was a moot point; if I would have been there first, I would have stayed a hundred yards away and not had any conversations with my amigos from the south.
Later that afternoon, Carl and I started a levy road patrol. We had intel from our plane that crossing were going to occur soon at certain locations. The aircraft could see them gathering in groups of ten to fifteen on the Mexican side. We slowed down to a ten-mile per hour pace when we got near the spot, which was past the reservoir traveling east on the road. We couldn’t see anything; we could see a large crane on the Mexican side; it was supposedly used for dredging, but it never moved. It was a reference point for illegals, and by the trail that came out of the river, it was a frequently used spot. We waited a minute, but no sign of anyone. We moved on. After reaching Ft. Hancock HQ, we decided to try a different strategy; normally we would get back on Highway 20 and returned to Fabens using that highway. This time we changed our routine and turned around and went west on the levy road. We wanted to see what would happen.
Sure enough, they were not prepared for our return. We drove on the road at 45 miles per hour and quickly came around a sweeping bend in the road to the crane checkpoint. Our plane reported someone on the levy road, possibly Mexican military (this is American soil again, folks). When we came around the corner, however, we saw nothing. By radio, we communicated that Carl would take his car and go fifty yards past the crane and I would stay fifty yards behind the crane; both of us still on the road. This time we got out of our cars, turned off the engines, and listened. Silence in the middle of nowhere. The only sound was the hundreds of ducks on the river. We waited; and waited. Soon we heard something. A cough. By the river; in the river. We didn’t say anything out loud, but we both knew—if we waited long enough, they would show themselves. Why? Because at the edge of the river was millions of hungry gnats and mosquitoes. We have a few at the top of the levy road, but we had mosquito spray. We both knew if they stayed by the edge of the river, or in it, they would get eaten alive.
Sure enough, with my video camera in hand, I caught on video a man rushing through the water onto the Mexican side. It was a Mexican soldier, an HKS assault rifle hanging over his back. On the video, you can see the water sloshing out of his boots. We knew we caught a Mexican soldier—armed—on US soil, and probably assisting drug smugglers, or at the very least, illegal aliens. Once he made it to the Mexican side, he would not make eye contact with us, but kept his back to us. He kept swatting the massive amount of gnats attacking his face and neck.
We made no sign of confrontation with him; I knew where there was one soldier, there were more; after hearing about the Mexican military shooting at several film producers—on American soil—near the Coronado National Monument in Arizona recently (see Tombstone Tumbleweed newspaper; this would never make mainstream media), I did not want a conflict. The good news was he knew we were armed as well, and I believe he did not want a conflict or international incident.
We quietly got in our vehicles and left. I make this incident known for one reason. There has been talk about “joint operations” with the Mexican military. How can you have border security with a corrupt government? I wrote this down to show the American people that we must have border security by our own troops on the border, and NOT depending at all on the Mexican government. Our National Guard troops must supplement the BP until their numbers can reach 36,000 for both northern and southern borders. Then the guard can go home. These facts are according to a report by Rep. Tancredo (R-CO) and the Immigration Reform Caucus. Secure our borders first, as well as enforce our existing immigration laws concerning the US interior i.e. employer penalties and sanctions.
I do not enjoy going down to the border. I do not enjoy being threatened. I do not get a thrill out of being a citizen border guard. I do love my country and want it protected by over-population, drugs, and terrorists. For those reasons, I will continue to do this until our government and the people of America wake up.
DA Bill HillBill Hill may have saved himself a tough re-election battle by announcing Friday that he's hanging it up as Dallas County District Attorney. Hill has been criticized for sloppy handling of the city's 2001 fake drug scandal and flawed indictments related to a jailhouse contract.
While no other Republican candidate has surfaced, rumblings within his own party that a Hill challenger might emerge in the GOP primary may have contributed to his announcement. Democrats already have a couple of candidates, attorneys Craig Watkins and Larry Jarrett, and Hill's pullout may encourage others. After winning the county sheriff's race in 2004, Democrats have had their eyes on the D.A.'s office.
A change in that office could be welcome, but let's hope the county is presented with quality candidates on both sides.
That's the slogan on some of Barbara Ann Radnofsky's bumper stickers. Barbara Ann Who? Good question.
Barbara Ann RadnofskyRadnofsky is the likely Democratic opponent to Republican U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. She was in Washington earlier this week for a fundraiser that her campaign said would raise about $30,000 (a drop in the bucket to Hutchison's $7-plus million in the bank.)
Radnofsky, a Houston lawyer, acknowledges Democrats haven't fared well in statewide races in recent years but claims she's feeling a "sea change" even in rural Texas. According to the National Journal Hotline, Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) -- Radnofsky's mentor in the Democratic Caucus -- said in presenting Radnofsky that the "environment is changing dramatically. People are looking for a new direction and new leaders."
KBH doesn't appear worried, and for good reason. A Zogby interactive poll taken in late September shows her support at 52 percent against Radnofsky's 34 percent. The same poll pairs other potential candidates against Hutchison and shows each Democrat in about the same place. Former Austin Mayor Kirk Watson pulls 36 percent and former Dallas Mayor and unsuccessful Senate candidate Ron Kirk polls best at 37 percent. But he's not likely to go looking for another shellacking anytime soon.
As for Radnofsky, she's an articulate, well-known attorney in Houston with 25 years of experience in the Vinson & Elkins law firm. In 1989, she was named "Outstanding Young Lawyer" by the Houston and Texas Young Lawyers Association and was recognized as a "Superlawyer" in November, 2003, by Texas Monthly. She works as a lead counsel, litigator and mediator. She's a 1976 graduate of University of Houston and got her law degree from UT Law School.
Radnofsky is married to a doctor and has three children. She's been a Democratic precinct chairman in Houston and appears to have gotten involved in state politics at the 2004 state convention and National Democratic Convention.
Whatever her credentials, Tough-Name-Smart-Dame is aiming pretty high for her maiden political campaign. She has a giant mountain to climb in Texas without gadzillions of dollars and the absolute collapse of the Republican party nationally.
At any rate, I'm interested in checking her out and hope to do so when she meets with SMU Democrats at noon Tuesday. (Yes, there are at least a handful on the Hilltop).
...that has sparked the recent flurry of City Hall news in the DMN?
For whatever reason, Thursday's coverage of the City Council meeting in the ayem paper is the most extensive that I can recall in years: A page 1 political story on Laura Miller, and Metro stories covering new limits on teardowns, approval for a Lake Highlands Wal-Mart and redo of the vacant downtown Post Office, and postponement of hiring a homeless center architect. Coverage even includes a box on declining crime and the ejection of an activist from Wednesday's meeting.
At least three reporters attended the day-long meeting (or parts of it) to provide the stories.
This is the kind of robust reporting that will engage readers of local news and get them involved again in the affairs of the city. As an old City Hall reporter, I applaud it and hope it continues. In recent years, as the population has dispersed, more manpower at my former employer has been deployed to the suburbs. While I live in Dallas, I love reading the coverage of nearby communities in the new zoned sections of the DMN. But I also love seeing the increased attention paid to City Hall.
It's obviously too soon for dallasblog to get any credit for goosing the ayem but, hey, a little competition always improves news coverage. With the demise of the Dallas Times Herald in the '80s, the DMN got complacent on non-blockbuster spot news. It's the day-to-day following of the news, however, that gets people involved. Here's hoping it continues.
Like newspapers around the country, the Dallas daily is fighting the loss of circulation to new media and trying to find a new formula. A couple of years ago, the paper's correspondents in Washington were told to concentrate on "containables" -- short stories that could be contained on page 1 without a jump to the inside. Now, the emphasis is on "enterprise" and stories that impact our area, leaving many of the spot political stories to the wires, cable TV and the Internet. For that reason, ace White House and Washington political reporter David Jackson is jumping ship to USA Today. Too bad.
But the shift in emphasis may have resulted in the page 1 story today about the Senate aviation subcommittee hearing on the Wright Amendment, with sidebar in the Business section. Both stories are recommended reading.
The elitist media up in the blue states are beating up these days on the Left's scapegoat du jour (spell?), good ole Wal-Mart, where we down-home folks shop. There's even a movie out now whuppin on all those mean villains up in Bentonville , Arkansas who supposedly are enslaving employees and doing various wicked things to get prices down so they can also destroy all the small businesses in America .
As an old Arkie from way back, I think the fair-minded would do well to pay a little attention to a point the Wal-Mart CEO made the other day. It is the crucial element that elitist pundits and Michael Moore look-alikes never even mention. It's just this: As the big boss pointed out, FOR THE GREAT MAJORITY OF PEOPLE WHO COME TO WORK FOR WALMART, IT IS A STEP UP ON THE INCOME AND EMPLOYMENT SCALE.
Wal-Mart’s entry-level offer obviously beat whatever they were earning before. That's the real crux of the firm's ability to recruit the hundreds of thousands who join Wal-Mart. To be sure, the wages and the perks probably sound low, "slave pay", to those who are drawing high salaries in the more urban areas' professions and unionized trades.
But I recall how, back in 1951, my little home town drew a new employer from up north, a K-ration packing company. And this outfit paid MINIMUM WAGE, which was then a stupendous 75 cents an hour! Not too thrilling, perhaps, to a brain surgeon or a UAW guy working in Detroit . But in a little town where the going wage rate was 35 or 40 cents an hour for those lucky enough to find a job at all, the federal minimum wage was riches beyond thinking about. I was working at my dad's shop for 50 cents an hour and he said I would be a fool to pass up a 50 percent raise, so I joined the new arrival.
Recall the old joke about the unemployed worker who found a ten-spot on the street and rejoiced over his new riches, while a millionaire, reduced by a stock market crash, leaped out a skyscraper window when his capital dropped to a mere hundred grand. A step up beats a step down every time.
Nobody is conscripting people to work for Wal-Mart. And the Wal-Mart managers, presumably not being fools, are going to have to pay their best workers better and better wages to keep them, which is how the market works.
A few years into the 1950s, I was in the Marine Corps, dining on those rations I had packed as a highly paid, I thought, minimum wage worker. But it has always seemed to me that hot, sweaty work unloading boxcars for 75 cents an hour sure beats doing the same sort of hot, sweaty real-world labor for half that. The labor market looks different at the boxcar level, when one is in it, than it does at a TV network or the Harvard business school, where the swells are just talking about it.
NBA Salaries. The numbers are huge but the topic is really pretty small…Mark Cuban doesn’t believe that it behooves the team or the NBA itself to be discussing the salaries of players all the time.
He has told his broadcasters not to discuss salaries during game broadcasts. This isn’t that big of a deal. I handled Mavericks play by play for years and, quite frankly the topic of salaries just does not come up that often while you are calling a game.
It doesn’t mean anything in particular. But, in a league where the salary cap is an integral part of doing business and where your team's position in regards to the cap has an impact an any deal you make, the salaries do become a topic of discussion.
When Arnold Schwarzenegger ran for governor of California not one California TV or radio station outside of Sacramento had a bureau in the State Capitol. Not one. They did not even have co-op bureaus. The stations had been pulling out ever since Ronald Reagan had packed for Washington DC and had made a final exit with the election Davis. When I talked to several political operatives of my acquaintance in California to inquire how this could be the opined that the stations had determined that the people weren't interested in state politics. Once Arnold brought some celebrity to town they moved back.
Perhaps they may be forgiven finding Gray Davis or Pete Wilson too boring to cover. No one would confuse this bland band with such outsized personalities Ann Richards or Bill Clements or George W. Bush. But it is certainly easy to understand why a legislature in Sacramento could pass so much wacky legislation with no one watching.
It now appears the media is on its way out of Austin too. The beleaguered Scripps-Howard chain (Corpus Christi, Wichita Falls, Abilene and San Angelo) are joining Belo's WFAA, and the Lubbock Avalanche Journal and Amarillo Globe-News is saying adios to Austin. The major dailies are still there and others but the move is troubling. State government has a profound affect on how people live and do business and truncated coverage is bad. No coverage would be worse. Soon it may be up to the likes of us, and newsletters like the Quorum Report and the Lone Star Report to carry the load.