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Legislature grinds toward May 29 close

May 17, 2017
Legislature grinds toward May 29 close

With a mere two weeks remaining until the end of the 85th regular session of the Texas Legislature, lawmakers have not yet finalized a state budget for fiscal years 2018 and 2019.
The Legislature’s 150 House members and 31 Senate members can work around the clock, if need be. Their only absolutely required accomplishment in the 140-day-long session is to produce that budget and put it on the governor’s desk. If they don’t, the governor will call them back for a special session.
House floor debates, protracted by Republican intra-party bickering, ate up the clock last week. Sheaves of mostly noncontroversial local and consent bills accumulated and died as deadlines took effect, and chances were reduced for hundreds of other bills to earn a spot on a floor-debate calendar.… Read the rest

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Ballpark memories: Yesterday, today, tomorrow

May 10, 2017
Ballpark memories: Yesterday, today, tomorrow

I used to love the Astros (actually Colt .45s). Then the Rangers. And now the Astros again.
After not seeing but one professional baseball game in the last three years, I saw two in one week recently, both in Arlington.
Taking grandchildren to see a game with its pageantry and noise and lights – and racing dots – is one of a zillion Poppy perks.
The oldest, Link, is 10 now, and he loves going to a game.
We have had terrible luck seeing a home run; we’ve seen zero round-trippers by Texas hitters and he has never witnessed the Rangers win (0-5).… Read the rest

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How would you like to pay this debt?

May 10, 2017
How would you like to pay this debt?

I owe, I owe, so off to work I go…
Do you ever feel that way? You go to the mailbox and find nothing but bills. Or you have enrolled in paperless billing, so you find your email inbox filling up with those monthly invoices.
Then you choose whether to pay with check, credit, debit, the sale of your plasma, renting out your first-born, or something even more creative.
Do you ever feel like you owe something to almost everyone? Well, actually, you do. I’ve got bad news, worse news, and good news.
The bad news is that, no matter how financially secure you are, you will never have enough money to pay your debt to the world.… Read the rest

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Cook lived the frontier life, from roping to guiding

May 10, 2017
Cook lived the frontier life, from roping to guiding

This column first appeared September 13, 2012.

Stories told in the first person by those who really lived them seem especially appealing.
An articulate Jim Cook told of the Western frontier he entered at the age of 16 when he came to Texas to be a cowboy.
Cook was born in 1857, but his mother died when he was two. His father earned his living at sea, so he placed his son with a family named Titus.
Later Cook praised his foster family for giving him a good upbringing. Growing up in Michigan, he did a lot of hunting and fishing.… Read the rest

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Stop the blame game, Boomers says Millennial

May 10, 2017
Stop the blame game, Boomers says Millennial

Vindication is mine, says the Lord. Well, not today; this day it belongs to me.
(And, yes, I know the scripture says “vengeance,” not vindication, but that doesn’t work here.)
For years I have been saying those of us who were born in the early to mid-1980s do not deserve to be lumped in with “Millennials,” and now it is official – I read last week that there is a distinct difference between “old” Millennials and “young” Millennials.
The line of demarcation being the year 1988.
Let’s forget the fact that we can’t seem to settle the limits to the Millennial generation in terms of birth years.… Read the rest

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Texas House joins Senate in passing constitutional convention measure

May 10, 2017
Texas House joins Senate in passing constitutional convention measure

The Texas House of Representatives on May 4 approved Senate Joint Resolution 2, a measure calling for a convention of the states, as contemplated and enabled by Article V of the U.S. Constitution.
The state Senate on Feb. 28 originally passed SJR 2, authored by Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury. Every member of the House and Senate who signed as a co-author or co-sponsor of SJR 2 is Republican, and no Democrat voted in favor of the resolution.
Last week, after the House approved an amended version of the joint resolution, Governor Greg Abbott said: “Today marks an important step toward restraining a runaway federal government and returning power back to the states and their respective citizens as our Founders intended.” In his Jan.… Read the rest

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Yet more reason(s) to not be a fashion plate

May 3, 2017
Yet more reason(s) to not be a fashion plate

I am a man, for the most part.
(I’m not great at fixing things and know almost nothing about cars and don’t drink beer, but, for the most part, I’m a man.)
On a couple of things, I am sure I agree with other real men – jeans should not cost $425 and one-piece unitard/underwear for males is a bad idea.
There’s a fine line between quality/cost and being a doofus with money.
When it comes to the $425 jeans offered by Nordstrom – the pants are fake muddy and torn, worn by folks who clearly have plenty of money – you don’t have to stop there.… Read the rest

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Do say this. It will help. I promise.

May 3, 2017
Do say this. It will help. I promise.

In last week’s column I talked about some really common, but incredibly unhelpful, things we say to people who are going through tough times. I won’t go over all the reasons, but here’s the recap of unhelpful things.
• I understand what you’re going through.
• That’s just like what happened to ________.
• Let me tell you about ___________.
• Everything happens for a reason.
• The Bible says everything happens for a reason.
• God won’t put more on you than you can handle.
So, what should you say to someone walking through dark days? Here are my top six that I have found to be most helpful whether I have been on the receiving end or the delivering end.… Read the rest

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All about FW’s Carswell AFB and Goodfellow Field

May 3, 2017
All about FW’s Carswell AFB and Goodfellow Field

This column first appeared May, 2, 2002.

Lately, I have been researching the history of Carswell Air Force Base and the person of Major Horace S. Carswell, Jr. In fact, I have presented two papers at conventions or symposiums about Major Carswell, who grew up on the north side of Fort Worth.
He distinguished himself by sinking two Japanese ships – a cruiser, and a destroyer – on Oct. 16, 1944, with his B-24 bomber and his crew.
Then 11 days later, as he and a different crew tried to repeat the success, disaster struck. Japanese fire shot out two engines, damaged a third, punctured the fuel tank, and damaged the hydraulic system.… Read the rest

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Fate of key transparency bills is uncertain; legislators need to hear from constituents

May 3, 2017
Fate of key transparency bills is uncertain; legislators need to hear from constituents

Committee must move bills for the House to vote

There’s no question that Americans – particularly Texans – are increasingly suspicious of government. Trust in government is at a dangerously low level.
That’s why virtually every candidate who runs for the Texas Legislature loudly proclaims that he or she is all for transparency and accountability. Unfortunately, campaign season is a distant memory at this point in Texas’ legislative session.
Lawmakers have spent four full months in the company of lobbyists who are paid nicely to convince them that the interests of their clients are threatened by transparency.
Today, with only a month remaining, a legislature that began as a tabernacle-sized choir singing the chorus of transparency has dwindled to a small combo that could rehearse in a two-car garage.… Read the rest

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