...Might be the best way to describe ex-Ranger, Raphael Palmeiro lately. Far from the comfort of the all-star lifestyle of a major league ballplayer looking at a Hall of Fame finale.
The likelihood that Palmeiro lied under oath still fresh in the minds of Congress, they've now put the pressure squarely on the player's union to come up with a solution to the "roid boys".
Was Canseco right? Did Rafy lie under oath? Should pundits and politicians do everything humanly possible to protect the HoF from including those with enhanced stats?
Before you answer yes, read Richard Scheinin's 'Field of Screams'. This book makes our group of "juice junkies" look like altar boys. It portrays these cretins of the national pastime as drunks, cheats, thieves, wife beaters, bigots [see HoFer Ty Cobb], rapists and yes, even murderers.
Problem is, none of these player's malodorous deeds enhanced their playing stats...Decisions, decisions.
Anybody nicknamed "The Texas Hammer" might not be your first choice, Demo or Republican, to bring home to dinner. As seedy as Tom DeLay can be, it'll take a lot to out-smarm the latest efforts of Travis Co. D.A. Ronnie Earle to nail DeLay. This showdown could reduce The Battle of The Alamo to quilting bee status.
What will be the net effect of this classic standoff? It puts a huge emphasis on the partisan politics that are eroding this country's ability to govern itself while placing our state right in the middle of this jaundiced spotlight.
Watching Ann Coulter and The Nation magazine's Katrina vanden Heuvel square off on Larry King last eve was about as close to "Ultimate Fighter-Female Version" as I care to witness. Both amplifying this highly partisan news story to the point that I'm forced to wonder...Who wins?...Who loses?...Small hint...You won't find the state of Texas under that first column.
As North Texas watches a another round in the long running battle over the Wright Amendment unfold a similar battle is unfolding 1500 miles away in Seattle, WA. There Southwest Airlines has proposed that it shift its flights from the regional airport, Seattle-Tacoma, to an airport that currently offers no commercial service: King County International, more commonly known as Boeing Field.
The Sea-TAC regional facility is in the midst of an expansion agreed to by all airlines including Southwest. But Southwest decided earlier this year that the new Sea-Tac could not easily support its business model and proposed it shift to Boeing. It has offered to pay the cost of a $130 passenger facility there.
As in Dallas homeowners in the affluent King county are overwhelmingly opposed to the move and have vowed to fight all the way to any legislature or court they can find. The Port of Seattle, the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce and other business groups oppose the Southwest plan for much the same reasons that similar organizations in the DFW area oppose lifting the Wright Amendment. Southwest CEO Gary Kelley maintains that his planes will approach the airport over water and mitigate noise problems.
The battle has become a major issue over the past few months and the outcome is unclear. The Seattle Times has editorialized in favor of the move mostly from a stated fear that Southwest might pull-out of the region if not given its desires. However, a key figures in any effort to repeal the Wright Amendment, Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is outraged that federal money is being used to do an economic impact study. His displeasure with Southwest will certainly make repealing the Wright Amendment no easier.
King County Commissioner David Irons has come down firmly against the Southwest move and has asserted that there would be no support for the move if Southwest wasn't using "fear tactics by telling people they will pull out of the northwest."
North of I30 a battle rages. And it is getting bloody. In neighborhood after relatively affluent neighborhood perfectly habitable homes (perhaps in need of a little fixing up) are being torn down to make way for McMansions or as others call them "Texas Castles." In some parts of North and East Dallas 50% of existing neighborhoods have already been replaced by new jumbo homes.
North and east Dallas areas are popular because they have something most developing areas in Collin and Denton Counties don't: trees. Of course the Dallas areas were barren too when they were developed but that was 40-50 years ago and the trees have gotten mighty tall.
Developers assert that while many homes being torn down are serviceable they are being replaced with new homes worth two to three times what the tear down was worth on the tax rolls and that is good for a landlocked city like Dallas. Community residents retort that the new homes are ugly because they are out of proportion to the remaining neighborhood, violate deed restrictions, and drive up the taxes of smaller homes because they drive up lot values.
The Dallas City Plan commission has recommended the Dallas City Council adopt an "overlay" that would restrict new development in both size and height (a copy is available at www.forwarddallas.org/files/up/NeighborhoodOrdinance.pdf.). The plan would require that 75% of all homeowners in a neighborhood be required to petition for the creation of a limitation plan.
The North Texas Toll way Authority has given fair warning that an increase in fares is in the offing - probably in about a year and a half. Right now tolls are based on 10-cents per miles and new tolls are expected to go up 10% to 11-cents per mile for cars with toll tags. Cash users will pay a premium.
At present plans for the North Dallas Toll road to extend all the way to the Grayson County (that's where Sherman and Denison are) line. But other folks want toll roads too. Residents in eastern Dallas County want the George Bush Toll way extended south into Mesquite. Downtown Dallas boosters have been pushing quietly for years for a Houston Street Bypass that would allow cars to enter the southern end of downtown without having to drive through dowtown to get there.
Toll roads are increasingly the option of choice for building new transportation arteries. With gas prices high and rising an increase in gasoline taxes is deemed politically unacceptable. But the cost of tollroads keeps rising. Initial estimates for extending the Bush Toll road into eastern Dallas county doubled from $442 million to $772 million in two years. And engineers warn increased energy costs could drive even that amount higher.
Toll road boosters see them as rightly shifting costs to users. And they note that the projected increases in 2007 would only push the end-to-end cost of a trip of the North Dallas Toll way up to $2.30 from $2.10. The Toll way Authority also vows no more increases for another decade.
I personally feel that the Dallas News has done the best job in the country of covering all aspects of the Katrina story. They have dedicated nearly 100 pages to the story since the levees of New Orleans gave way and the dimensions of the tragedy began to come clear. I have mentioned this fact to at least two dozen people over the period of time and only two indicated they had read anything more than headlines and a few paragraphs. One was a 25 year old woman who grew up in the Big Easy and the other a retired school teacher who reads every word of her paper every day. Those in youth and late youth just didn't have the time or the interest.
When I worked at the Dallas News 15 year ago there was much concern over the future of newspapers. But the source of concern was TV and radio - no one had ever heard of the Internet. Or for that matter 24X7 cable news. The thought for the future was that while TV and radio would deal with breaking news newspapers would provide depth, context, perspective and analysis.
I doesn't seem to be working out that way. I am a news junkie and couldn't begin to read all the News produced (and they spent a bundle on it). And not one single person I talked to - everyone of them educated and well read - had the time or inclination to read all that perspective, context and analysis - or really any of it.