Texting-while-driving ban fails in Legislature

Tom Craddick wasn’t my favorite speaker of the Texas House of Representatives. He ran the place as though he owned it, not the people who elected its 150 members.

But when he got removed as speaker and became just another legislator from West Texas, well, something happened to him. He developed a keen eye toward what’s actually good for Texans — such as protecting motorists from idiots who simply cannot resist sending text messages while driving a motor vehicle.

To his great credit, the Midland Republican, persuaded his House colleagues to approve a statewide ban on that moronic practice. And to its great shame, the Texas Senate let Craddick’s bill die.


House Bill 80 sailed through the House on a 102-40 vote. Then it fell a vote short of going to a vote before the full Senate. That means we’ll have to wait another two years before Texas joins the vast majority of other states in banning this practice.

Yeah, I know. I’ve heard the unenforceability argument. Big deal. Police officers are able to spot motorists doing all kinds of things they shouldn’t be doing. If we’re going to rely on a bogus notion that we cannot enforce no-texting-while-driving laws, then let’s repeal┬áthe law that bans motorists from driving with an open container of alcoholic beverage. What the hell: The cops can’t see the open can or bottle of┬ábeer unless the motorist actually lifts it to his or her mouth, correct?

I ran into state Rep. Four Price, R-Amarillo, not long ago and he more or less suggested the Senate would drag its feet on this important piece of legislation. I pleaded with him to talk to his Senate colleagues to do the right thing. I have no clue if he did.

Texas stands among a shrinking field of states — I think it’s six of them, all told — that cannot muster the guts to lay down a law that makes it illegal to do what idiots cannot quit doing by themselves.

Will a law, by itself, prevent this behavior? No, but we still execute convicted capital murderers and that hasn’t stopped people from committing those heinous crimes.

One of these days, and I hope it’s soon, Texas legislators will wise up to do what’s right and make it illegal across the state to send text messages while driving.

Thanks, Rep. Craddick, for the valiant effort.


Sen. Graham ‘ready’ … to take U.S. back into war

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham says he’s “ready” to run for president, and to be president.

He’s also ready, it sounds to me, as if he’s ready to send Americans back to the Middle East, to fight radical Islamic terrorists face to face.

Haven’t we been there, already? Haven’t we lost sufficient numbers of American lives in the fight against Islamic terrorists?

Apparently not, says Graham.


The South Carolina Republican jumped into the GOP nomination fight today, vowing to ratchet up our military posture abroad. Interesting, yes? We did that during the Bush administration after the 9/11 attacks. We went after al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, as we should have done. Then we decided — wrongly, it turned out — to take the fight into Iraq. We flexed our military might quite nicely in that country, then kept fighting and fighting and fighting as resistance rose up and the Islamic State became a serious force with which we’re still trying to reckon.

Graham’s campaign speech makes it sound as if we’ve rolled over. We have done nothing of the sort.

Someone needs to slip him a note with these words: “We killed bin Laden.”

Other terrorist leaders have been killed. ISIL remains a serious threat, but the United States is striking hard at that outfit as well.

Do we really want to re-enter the ground war in Iraq, or in Yemen, or in Syria? Do we really want to re-engage an enemy face to face? Graham seems to think it’s all right. I disagree with him. The Associated Press reported: “Graham is a prominent Senate voice in seeking a more muscular foreign policy and one who casts the threats facing the United States in particularly dark terms.”

Our foreign policy is muscular enough.

Get elected to Congress, and enrich yourself?

Median income of Americans has fallen since 2003.

How about the incomes of their elected congressional representatives? It’s gone the other direction.


And to think that some members of Congress want a pay raise, that 174 grand a year isn’t enough, that only “rich people” can serve.

That’s the line being pushed out there by U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., along with other members of the House and Senate who gripe that they’re underpaid.

Check out the link attached to this blog and you might get a different idea of just how “impoverished” some of our elected reps and senators have become — which is to say they aren’t impoverished in the least.

Many of them have seen their portfolios increase while serving on Capitol Hill.

How does this happen? In some instances, senators and House members parlay their public standing into positions on corporate boards. All they do, then, is belong to boards of companies that reap tremendous profits and then distribute some of that wealth among board members.

Hey, it’s great “work” if you can get it.

This is the kind of stuff that makes the plea┬ásuch as what’s been coming from Alcee Hastings sound ridiculous on its face.

Let’s can the give-us-a-raise talk.

Conspiracy theories are for the birds

Conspiracy theories drive me nuts.

I mean it. I think I’m going crazy listening to any and all of them.

The latest spate of conspiracy theories centers around downtown Amarillo. There’s a segment of our city population — and I’m not convinced it comprises even a significant minority of residents — who keep concocting nefarious schemes dealing with business relationships within (a) city government (b) the business community or (c) between them both.

These theories are coming from individuals — or perhaps small groups of individuals — who don’t believe the city’s master plan for reviving downtown is going to work. They won’t give it a chance. They are willing to toss it out at the front end because, by golly, they just know something underhanded is going on.

I forged a fairly decent career in daily journalism over the span of 37 years. I am wired to be skeptical of matters at a lot of levels. However, I am not such a cynic as to believe out of hand that a high-dollar business deal is simply a bad thing because it involves a fair amount of money.

And yet, that’s what I keep hearing.

Conspiracy theories have this way of growing legs and even wings. They feed on themselves. They produce conspiracy spawns, that themselves grow into full-fledged conspiracies.

Here’s one that came to me today — second-hand to be sure, but I trust the source who mentioned this tidbit to me: A young member of my family told another member of my family that “it has been proven” that a Secret Service agent killed President Kennedy in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. It wasn’t Lee Harvey Oswald. It wasn’t any of the other so-called conspiracy theories: the mob; the Cubans; hell, it wasn’t even Lyndon Johnson.┬áThe killer was a member of the Secret Service, the agency charged with protecting the life of the president of the United States. And it’s been proven that the Secret Service did it.

I’m glad I didn’t hear my young family member┬ámake that idiotic assertion. I would have stroked out.

That’s the kind of thing that has infected much of the discussion surrounding the downtown Amarillo story.

How about we just keep our eyes peeled and our ears open and actually witness and listen carefully to the things being discussed?