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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Bye Bye Yourself!

U.S. News and World Report's Liz Halloran gleefully reported this morning that President Bush's phone surveilance program was going "Bye Bye" with the new Democratic majority in the Congress and Senate.

Cool! Now mean old George can't listen in when Osama calls his terror cells in the U.S. of A. anymore. I suppose this must be part of the Democratic plan to reduce their voter base on the East and West Coast - a cunning plan to put themselves on the "endangered politicians" list.

Once we open up communications a little bit, Al Quaeda can go back to its old throwaway cell phones and musical dummy phone numbers without endangering their operatives in the states. By the time someone issues a wiretap, they'll be long gone with their messages of peace and love safely delivered to their representatives here in the states. The FBI and CIA won't be able to peruse phone records and find out who's getting a lot of phone calls from bad guys. They'll have to guess who is getting phone calls from bad guys first and then they'll be able to get permission to look at that one person's records to find out if they were right. It's like getting a license to fish in a bucket. If there aren't any fish there, you've wasted your time and money.

Now, with this reduction in ability to track terrorist communications (and Congressman Bob's corresponding relief that he doesn't have to worry about anyone finding out about those late night calls to 900-TEENSEX) where do you suppose they'll hit us first? Let's look at possible targets to nuke and look at what that means to the Democratic party if they hit those targets.

1. New York - Al Quaeda's perennial favorite, bastion of liberalism. They only have a one in five chance of catching Rush Limbaugh in town - he's usually in Florida somewhere and a little harder to hit! You might take out Fox News, but you'd also get CNN, ABC, NBC AND CBS AND the New York Times. We could paint a big "X" on 30 Rock - make it easier to find!

2. Los Angeles - Another symbol of American iniquity. You wonder how they've resisted this decadent target for so long. I mean Hollywood is the very icon of all they hate about America. Now, this is really terrifying. They could accidentally get Alec or Rosie or (gasp) Barbara! I wonder what the political demographic is like there? Want to guess?

3. Washington D.C. - Even when Republicans had the majority in the Congress, they were a minority in the population. You hit Washington (or any state capital for that matter), you are going to reduce the number of liberal Democrats drastically. That's where they all go to mate and eat Sushi.

4. Seattle, Washington - For some reason terrorists have a real jones for Seattle. I think it has something to do with the Space needle and phallic symbols, but I could be wrong. Once again, want to guess what the political demographic looks like?

Politicians and Christians are alike in one important respect; they're like manure! If you spread them out over a large area, they can do a lot of good, but if you heap them all up in one place, things begin to stink pretty darn quickly.

With the Democrats' love of government as the end-all, be-all solution for our woes, they are irresistably drawn to the seats of power where, once we loosen up on Al Quaeda and Hammas and all the rest of them, they'll be big fat targets. Oh, and when the bombs do start going off, guess who will be back in power next go-round?

Clever plan guys! How to make yourself extinct without really trying! Wish I'd thought of it.

(No I don't). To my Democrat buddies, I'm not mad at you, I just think you're not thinking this thing through. Now set your Mai-Tai's down and step away from the Sushi Bar!

Just one man's opinion...

Tom King

A Three Ring Binder Solution?

Today, the East Texas Regional Transportation Coordination Steering Committee released its plan for coordinating transit in the 14 counties served by the East Texas Council of Governments. Several of you glazed over and dozed off right there on that sentence. Why should you care? You’ve got a car.

Let me make this simple for you.

You ought to be paying attention to this issue. First it’s your tax money that’s been wasted in the past and if something isn’t done, more will be wasted in the future. Second, you’re gonna need transportation some day. Here are the facts!

  1. 1 in 5 East Texans doesn’t have reliable access to a car. They can’t go where they want unless they find someone who will take them.
  2. For most of us, it’s not if we lose the ability to drive, it’s when.
  3. We all get old.
  4. By 2010, 1 in 4 of us will be over 65 years old.

See. Someday, you’re going to need a ride. Your grandma may need one right now! Your disabled neighbor may need one.

Here’s why this all happened. The state got sick of throwing money at an inefficient transit system, especially in rural and small urban areas. Empty buses were running everywhere. Old people and disabled folks were left stranded all over the place. Commuters didn’t have any alternative to driving their cars to work. The state demanded that transit be coordinated with human services, local government, other transportation providers and other modes of transportation. They mandated a planning process with broad-based public participation.

Now the plan is ready. It’s been reduced to a three ring binder. The plan was approved unanimously. At that point I got up on my hind legs and asked the group what happens now? Is this one of those three ring binder solutions where we spend a horrendous lot of time and effort and create a plan that gets consigned to a bunch of notebooks and forgotten.

Griff Hubbard, the chairman of the committee, answered the question with a challenge. Evidently it’s now our individual responsibility to make sure the plan gets done.

Sadly, the resources for making our transportation dreams come true aren’t readily available to a large segment of the transportation stakeholders who developed the plan. If, for instance, an agency controls the region’s transit dollars AND acts as the recipient of those dollars as well, isn’t it sort of the fox watching the hen house? Yet that’s what could happen if the rest of us don’t get organized and make sure the plan gets done.

The steering committee will still meet, but it’s not enough. Somebody's got to bird dog this turkey! (I mean that in a good way - I like turkey! It's yummy!)

So we’re going to have to go to work. Should be interesting.

Just one man’s opinion….

Tom King

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Difficult Come, Easy Go

Local TV news announced last night that the late run of the Red Line bus route will be discontinued in January due to lack of funds. Don’t know yet if the JARC and Para-transit service will continue or not.

Most people will not be affected. Only the poor, seniors and people with disabilities are going to be affected. The problem is the same that it has always been.

  1. East Texans don’t use the bus if they can help it.
  2. The 20% of us who don’t drive are, after all, a minority
  3. We don’t like to spend tax dollars if we don’t have to on something that isn’t giving us a return on our investment.
  4. We figure bus riders are people we don’t really want to have in our community anyway. A Tyler city housing official once said, “We don’t really want to attract ‘those people’ to our community.” We want to attract rich retirees to Tyler according to an economic development official, not poor and middle class.

For those of us in the middle class or below, who are aging or who have a disability and for some reason depend on others or public transit to get around, we will only get what we need in the way of resources or retain what we already have if we make ourselves heard by those we elected to public office.

Before you dismiss me as a liberal, left wing kook, let me say up front that I’m a conservative down to my bones. Public transportation is an important element of a healthy economic infrastructure. It’s a long term investment we, as a community need to make. Here’s how the community can communicate our interest in making this investment.

  1. Right now, everyone who cannot now drive, who may not be able to drive much longer, who owns a business that depends on entry level workers (food service, hotels, retail, restaurants and service business should drop a note to their city councilman and the mayor and the manager of Tyler Transit asking them to re-examine the reduction of evening services. At the very least, alternative strategies should be aggressively pursued and the word should be got to the media that we’re not just cutting service, but finding a way to make it more cost-effective and more efficient.
  2. The advocacy community needs to begin a guerilla PR campaign to promote the idea that a whole segment of the community is stranded and needs a ride rather badly. The campaign needs to make the public aware that as they age or if they become disabled, they may need transportation.
  3. The advocacy community needs to promote bus service as a low cost alternative to the daily commute for workers in Tyler. Commuters are the allies of seniors and people with disabilities.
  4. More people need to take part in the regional transportation planning effort that is taking place in this area..

We worked awfully hard to get service expanded. We need to work a little harder to keep it evidently.

Good luck and may the force be with you.

Just one man’s opinion….

Tom King

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

You've Got To Wonder When the Impeachment Proceedings Will Begin

I just finished Michael Crichton's fascinating book, "State of Fear". The book tears apart the mythology that surrounds the whole "Global Warming" debate. In the book one of the characters makes the claim that the military-industrial complex has given way to something that he calls the Political-Legal-Military (PLM) complex. He makes a convincing case that politicians, lawyers and the media form an unholy alliance in support of one another designed to keep the public in a constant state of fear in order to control the masses and to build their own power base.

Case in point - environmentalism. With little proof other than manipulated data, junk science, media support, a flood of litigation and hysterical legislation environmentalists have convinced Americans to believe something for which there is precious little evidence - namely that human activity is heating up the temperature of the earth and will cause an ecological disaster.

They cite temperature studies that look like they show dramatic increases in temperature over the past few years. What they don't tell you is that since about 1850, the climate began warming after a 400 year long "little ice age". They say the Antarctic ice cap is melting, but don't tell you it's been melting for the last 6,000 years. They say we've threatened the world by not signing the Kyoto Accords, but don't tell you that those Accords would most negatively impact the US economy and would at the best, most optimistic scientific guess would reduce the global mean temperature by an infinitesmal .004 degrees (that's 4/1000 of a degree) in the next 20 years.

In the 80's there was a wave of hysteria over magnetic fields generated by power lines. Laws were passed, millions of dollars in lawsuits won and a wave of media attention focused on the 'crisis'. Now the same folks that were screaming about power lines and televisions generating magnetic fields are walking around 20 years later with magnets strapped to their arthritic joints because suddenly magnetic fields are good for you.

After environmentalists (and their lawyers) went after the popular pesticide DDT, legislators banned it even thoug scientists had actually proved DDT wasn't as harmful as believed by the environmentalists. The media covered the DDT scare and convinced the public that DDT was going to kill us all. So farmers switched to parathion which is very toxic (several hundred farmers died from parathion poisoning in the wake of the DDT ban) and more than 50 million people (mostly children in third world countries) died from malaria after DDT was taken from use in mosquito control. That's more people than were killed by Hitler and Stalin TOGETHER! But no one has suggested a Nuremberg trial for the environmentalist community. No one calls them murderers, despite the consequences of their actions.

In the past election, we saw two parties go at it hammer and tongs, each trying to convince the American people that they should fear what would happen if the other party were to come to power. Their accomplises in the legal profession will pluck from the debate, new opportunities to make money filing lawsuits and the media cheerfully documented the whole disgraceful exhibition.

The upshot of the whole thing is that Americans are once again fearful for the economy (despite it being the strongest economy in decades). They fear unemployment though it's so low that employers have difficulty finding people to hire. They believe crime is rampant even though it's decreased by better than 10% of the past decade. They believe we are not safe from terrorists, even though we haven't had a successful attack here since 9/11 (and they believe that the Iraq war is the reason we're in more danger at home).

Oh well, we see what we want to see and we hear what we want to hear and usually what we want to see and hear is what everyone else is seeing, hearing and believing. It makes us feel safe and like we belong. "Everybody knows it" is the most pathetic reason to believe something I can think of.

Unfortunately, much of what we all accept as truth is merely what everyone else believes. We seldom think about why we believe it. We go to church on the same day everyone else does and don't think why. We believe things as Christian doctrine that are not found in Scripture, but are borrowed from pagan tradition. We hold unexamined ideas about people because of their beauty (or lack of beauty), race, socio-economic status, the car they drive or the clothes they wear.

So in this past election, one party was more successful at convincing us of what we should fear. This bunch is angry and frustrated from being out of power for so long. My bet is they'll be looking for retribution and it won't take long to be calling for the president's impeachment. Rumsfield went down today. They'll go after Bush and Cheney next. Just wait!

Sad really.

Just one man's opinion....

Tom King