Category: Columns

You Can Lay the Groundwork for Reforming Congress

by Lee. H. Hamilton The first three words of the U.S. Constitution are, “We the People.” The Constitution itself, our institutions of government, the democratic process — all were established to give Americans a voice in their own governance. We are still striving to make that vision real for all, but we are closer than ever. So let me ask you some questions about Congress today. Do you think the voice of ordinary Americans resounds strongly in its hallways and chambers? Can you recall Congress in the last few years successfully dealing with an issue that directly affected your life? Does Congress produce legislation that resolves our differences and brings us closer together? Do you believe that the political system produces members of Congress who fairly and effectively represent the diversity and complexity of this country and are addressing our real, long-term challenges? I thought not. This is why I believe it’s past time for comprehensive reform of Congress. Representative democracy today is being undermined by the rising power of big money, the challenges of governing a country as large and diverse as ours, the problems brought by rising economic inequality, the ineffectiveness of our political institutions, and too many citizens who were never taught the skills needed to make the pragmatic judgments necessary in a representative democracy. In the present environment, it’s doubtful that the various reforms needed...

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‘The Disaster Artist’ Movie Review

by Bob Garver “The Disaster Artist” tells the story of actor and filmmaker Tommy Wiseau (James Franco), a man who overcame adversity to achieve his dream of sharing his gift with the world. That adversity included a poor grasp of the English language, an unsightly appearance, atrocious social skills, a complete lack of knowledge or talent, and an additional layer of insanity. The “gift” that he shared with the world was “The Room,” a 2003 film that has gained cult status as one of the worst movies of all time. We first meet Tommy in an acting class in...

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Woods, Water, & Wildlife: Deer Season Happenings

by John Jefferson In August, I contacted Alan Cain, TPWD’s capable white-tailed deer program leader, asking about deer season prospects. Cain expected an average year for quality of deer harvested (meaning antlers and body weights), and an above-average year for the number of deer harvested. That last part meant that Texas had plenty of deer – over four million – as previously reported. Cain’s crystal ball didn’t include how balmy the opening weeks of deer season would be. Nor did he have any inkling of the rain Hurricane Harvey would drop on eastern, central, and some of South Texas. Many of us knew the full moon was working against us opening weekend, but we, too, were in the dark about the warm weather and monsoon. We had hunted in Texas before, and knew to pack shorts and t-shirts in our war bags, and even mosquito repellent, but the rest of it was a surprise. Consequently, the harvest was down some at the start of the season. That’s all past, now. Cold weather, frosts, and even snow have knocked back vegetation. It now looks like winter. Deer visibility is much better. The moon won’t be bright again until the end of the month. Our excuses are gone; now it’s up to us. The deer that Alan Cain predicted are finally coming in. With over three weeks of hunting remaining in...

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Reflections from Red Oak Ranch – Dec. 13

by Jan Fielden Ah, Christmas time!  I love it!!  From special Church services, to town events, to decorating the house and all around it…inside and out, what a wonderful season. Christmas gifts getting wrapped, cookies baked, candy made…all great traditions.  The one thing we always seem to do that is different is having a round-up! Oh yeah. But the weather has to be cold, windy, and sometimes rainy.  It just wouldn’t be a great round-up without those weather conditions.  Take the day before we had the round-up; it was 80-85 degrees…wow! But that’s no good to work cows in…too warm.  So, we waited until the weather was 28 and very windy. If we had not had some great help, I don’t think The Colonel and I would have made it.  The cold saps the strength right out of us it seems. We had made up our mind that whatever cows and calves we caught, we would be satisfied with them.  Was not going to matter to us if we missed a few, we would just catch them another time.  RIGHT! I was leading our helpers down to the corral and met The Colonel coming our way.  What was he doing?  He was trying to convince the few cows that didn’t get caught to come on in anyway. He, of course, first said he was checking to see which ones...

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Home Country – December 13

by Slim Randles There is a nighttime sweetness and hope that hovers over us this time of year here at home. This is a time for summing up and looking ahead … and a time for dreams. And at night… ah, that’s the time, isn’t it? Outside it’s dark, December dark, and we’re inside and warm and cocooned up. The cold makes our world shrink, especially at night. But we have our dreams. For Janice Thomas, our art teacher at the high school, it’s that painting she’s planning. She makes starts at it, from time to time, but she’s wise enough to know she isn’t good enough to paint it yet. She paints other things well, but that one … it has to be perfect. It will be the painting of a lifetime, she knows. Doc will drift off to sleep tonight thinking about that new fly rod. He has half a dozen, of course, that will take about any weight line, and let him catch anything from mouse to moose. But even the most expensive rod isn’t what he dreams of. This year, for Christmas, he’s giving himself a rod-builder’s jig, and he will make his own rod from a Sage blank. That will be the one. It will have his own wrappings and he’ll put the ferrules on it himself. He’ll be able to feel the fish...

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