PHONE-Y ADVICE

August 31, 2015 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

By Lynn Ashby                                                             31 August 2015

Luigi gets off the plane from the old country and soon buys a Lotto ticket. Lordy, he wins $10 million, and purchases a big house like his cousin, Vito, has. Luigi tells the decorator, “An here I wanna a phone booth wit a beeg statue of da blessed Virgin Mary wid a beeg halo over her head, justa like my cousin, Vito, has.” When the decorator asks why, Luigi replies, “Causa every time da phone ring, Vito say, ‘Halo? Statue?’”

Oh, excuse me, my own phone is ringing. “Hi, remember when I told you about that, and what I was going to do with it? Well, it just occurred to me he should….” I ask rather testily, “Who is this?” No doubt such a situation has happened to you, too. You answer the phone and the party starts talking, as though your last conversation had ended only a few seconds ago, and now he or she is resuming it. This is not only arrogant – like the caller is so important that you should immediately know who it is by the sound of his first few words — but unfair. The other party knows who you are, where you are unless you are answering on your cell phone or smartphone or hearing aid, and what was under discussion. Caller ID helps, if the caller doesn’t have an unlisted annoyance.

This person has violated the first rule of phones, there are many others, and you might want to forward these rules of the rude to end such abuses. When calling, identify yourself in some detail. Have you heard this? “Hi, this is Mike.” Mike who? Your best man, the postal carrier, your bartender or perhaps Mike the enforcer who is reminding you about that 2K you owe the Bones & Crunch Lending Co. Mike should add, “Mike, whose car you sideswiped in the consignment shop parking lot and then sped away. Say, you’re a hard person to find.”

We have all had to endure those unending answering machines’ greetings. It begins with music, like you want to listen to the love theme from “Patton.” Then: “Hi, you have reached the Waspkiller home. We are not here now, but don’t get any ideas. There are more video cameras in and around this house than the NBC newsroom. Sandi Sue is at her tattoo parlor. Junior will be out as soon as the bail is set. Mom is attending her anger management class and Dad is at his job at the car wash. So please leave a short message. I mean, we don’t have time to listen to some blah blah blah about your problems.”

That greeting is much too long. For your own answer in reply, keep it short but, again, identify yourself, and speak slowly, plainly and preferably in English, especially when leaving a call-back number. Then say it again. “We will return Fluffy if you put ten thousand, repeat, ten thousand…” Have you ever had to play and replay a phone message to find out who is calling and what the call-back number might be? When leaving a message, be sure you’ve got the correct number in the first place. This really happened: I was gone and returned to hear a phone message: “Carlos, J.J. can’t make it in today, so you need to fill in for him. Be here at four.” Next message: “Carlos, just to remind you that you need to be here by four.” Final message: “Carlos! It’s four thirty! Where the (fill in the blank) are you?” Poor Carlos probably showed up for work the next day, all smiles and enthusiastic, and promptly got fired.

Businesses have incoming phone calls down to a science, so that their employees never have to actually speak to a customer. The companies give you options, none of which are what you want. Banks are bad: “Press 1 to talk to another recording, 2 for more music, 3 for our latest interest rates – we love a good laugh — and press 4 to book a brazen daylight robbery.” Here’s another: Have you ever talked to a real human being at your phone company? I only get: “All our associates are currently dealing with etc. etc. Because of the high volume of calls etc. etc…” I could call at 6 on Christmas morning and be told there is a high volume of calls. When calling my cable company to report an outage and cannot get online, it tells me to go online to report an outage.

We now come to the newest phenomena in communications, iPhones, smartphones, phones that you can stick in your ear, up your nose or carry in your holster, so that you can multitask, like working a crossword puzzle while closing an incision. Remember that when using one of these gadgets, no one else cares what you are saying, typing or hash-tagging. So be discrete. Just pretend you are dealing with Ashley Madison, and would prefer no one else knows. To get some privacy and not bother others with your connective transaction, try to find an empty space – like Waco. You can also go to your garage, sit on your front-yard curb or just go without bathing for a week, always good in July or August.

These instruments have apps — short for apprehensions – which give you the weather, stock reports and photographs of other people with too much time on their hands. They show home videos, maps and let you play games while waiting at red lights. (I love the bumper sticker: “Hang up and drive”) You can also get an app that locates the nearest teenager to show you how to use the other apps. These phones are sort of the Swiss Army knives of electronics.

I don’t have any of these new gadgets, and prefer to either use semaphores or shout. My one phone is in a booth with the Virgin Mary wearing a big halo.

 

Ashby is on hold at ashby2@comcast.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crime Stoppers Gala Honoring Dave Ward Oct. 29th

August 31, 2015 by  
Filed under Blogs, Events

Thursday, October 29th from 6:00pm – 10:00pm

PLACE:  Omni Houston Hotel
4 Riverway
Houston, Texas 77056

DETAILS:          On October 29, 2015, Crime Stoppers of Houston will be hosting its 23rd Annual Gala.  This year, we are excited to share that we will be proudly honoring Houston icon, Mr. Dave Ward!  Many know that Mr. Ward played an instrumental role in creating the “media” reach of Crime Stoppers of Houston back in the early 80’s.  It was his creativity and ingenuity that contributed to the famous (and internationally recognized) Crime Stoppers’ reenactments. Thanks to his vision, Crime Stoppers of Houston has created a model that now leads the nation.

Keynote Speaker: Ted Koppel

Chairs: Joella and Steve Mach

Auction Chairs: Courtney Zubowski Haas and Dr. Eric Haas

For tickets and more information, please visit http://crime-stoppers.org/events/crime-stoppers-of-houston-2015-gala/

For additional event information, contact Allison Lewis at 713-521-4600 ext. 1108 or alewis@crime-stoppers.org.

TAKE IT ON THE LAMB

August 25, 2015 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

 

Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow; and everywhere that Mary went, the lamb was sure to go. It followed her to school one day, which was against the rule; It made the children laugh and play, to see a lamb at school. — Sarah Josepha Hale

Associated Press – A lamb was found in the Redstone School in Sterling, Mass. on Thursday morning, reportedly with fleece “as white as snow.” According to police, the owner was identified only as a “Mary,” who apparently was stalked by this animal. “Everywhere that Mary went, the lamb was sure to go,” said one witness. It made the children laugh and play, which is contrary to school rules. “They should be studying for their STAAR test or TAKS or whatever it’s called today,” said the teacher, Ms. Grimace Grinch. “This could hurt my year-end bonus.”

Glenn Beck – I have ASTONISHING news! A possibly rabid animal, maybe a wolf or a lion – I don’t know — invaded a school filled with innocent babies still in their cribs, and our government allowed this vicious predator to SLAUGHTER these babes while Washington did nothing! This is no doubt an ISIS terrorist attack right here in America, and another step in establishing a caliphate! I recommend that you stock up on food and land mines, and hide in your bomb shelter. But first, buy my latest book, “Fear and Paranoia Are the New Normal.”

The White House – President Obama loves lambs, unlike those pet-and-child-hating Republicans. This incident proves that the President’s predecessor’s program of Paddle No Child’s Behind is a total failure. However, the President feels other children from, say, El Salvador, have a right to come here illegally and stay without fear of degrading pressures such as learning English or being separated from their parents and 12 siblings waiting on the riverbank just outside of Nuevo Laredo. If you like your lamb, you can keep your lamb.

Rachel Maddow MSNBC – Wall Street fat cats are again running roughshod over the little guy. A lamb visited a private school, no doubt catering to the children of the top 1 percent who have villas in France and ski lodges in Aspen while the proletariat sweat in the mines. Police say the lamb followed her? Sure it did, in that conservative think-alike Hitler Youth camp, they’re all followers. And speaking of being fleeced….

Jon Stewart – Mary had a little lamb. So who’s the father? Ewe Haul? OK, I know a ewe is a female, as I was telling Caitlyn Jenner. Now it’s time for me to interview some guy who wrote a book nobody will ever read. Jeez. Still got another month on my contract.

Rev. Al Sharpton – Only a white lamb? No blacks? This is a racist school. Where are the TV cameras?

Fox News – In an obvious Obama attempt to wreck America as we know it today, a sacrificial lamb was allowed into one of our degrading public schools which were perfectly fine under George W. Bush. It was against the rules, but do you see our inept attorney general doing anything about these lawbreakers except prosecute police who are all that stand between us and anarchy, mostly led by black terrorists? True, every survey finds our viewers are not very well educated, are elderly and tend to doze off during newscasts, SO STAY AWAKE! We’re fair and balanced, if you get our drift. And what about Hillary leading that mob in Benghazi?

The New York Times – A lamb (Ovis aries) followed a female student (the Times does not release the names of minors, especially if they give us secret government papers) to school in Sterling, Mass. Mary Sawyer decided to take her pet lamb to school, at the suggestion of her brother. (Brothers in America. Page A-12) Visiting Mary’s school was a young man who was very taken by the presence of the lamb. The next day he returned to the school (A history of Massachusetts school houses. Pages B 12-32) and handed Mary a piece of paper with the three original stanzas written upon it. (Wikipedia) The Redstone School was built in 1798. (Major educational events of 1798, Section T). Mary Sawyer’s house, located in Sterling, was destroyed by arson on Aug. 12, 2007. (Arson in Sterling, Mass. – Is it growing? Editorial, op/ed columns and graphs G-24-33)

Local TV News – Is looking at kale harmful to your spleen? How big should your pie pans be? But first – Pow! Wow! Screech! – Breaking news!!!! A school house has been invaded by a lamb matching the description of a pet stolen by three alleged perpetrators shown here on blurry video tape made from 45 feet away, actually from another store. They can easily be identified by their ski masks, hoodies and ponchos. We’ll be back with more details on the school invasion right after stories on three apartment fires, two car wrecks and lots of yellow police tape around shootings.

PBS NewsHour — Hi, I’m Judy Woodruff. Smack. Gwen isn’t here, but she rarely is. Smack. She says she can’t stand my constant smacking. Smack. In the first recording of the human voice in 1877, Thomas Edison recited “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” The nursery rhyme was initially published by the Boston firm Marsh, Capen & Lyon, as an original poem by Sarah Josepha Hale on May 24, 1830, and was inspired by an actual incident. Here to take up the remaining 55 minutes of the program by debating the influence of rules, laughing and playing on education are two opposing experts on something.

Bill O’Reilly – Those pinhead educators are pushing their liberal do-gooder propaganda on children by turning classrooms into petting zoos. I’ll be back with egotistical and blustering comments, but first this reminder: Now that you have bought my Killing Series – Jesus, Patton, JFK and Cock Robin, buy my new book based on this latest murder, “Silencer of the Lambs.”

 

Ashby is sheepish at ashby2@comcast.net

 

THE 0.1 PERCENT SOLUTION

August 24, 2015 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

Many major elections have given us some catchy phrases, such as, “54-40 or fight,” which I believe was the score of the TCU-A&M game in 1920. There was: “He kept us out of war.” That was Woodrow Wilson’s slogan until, of course, he got us into war, then it was, “The war to end all wars,” which it wasn’t. In more recent times there were the New Deal, the Fair Deal, and, “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”

This presidential election is giving us “income inequality,” which means about the same as “comprehensive immigration reform,” i.e., whatever you want it to mean. It is a simple fact that this nation, like many others, has income inequality, and the gap is widening. But how and why, and does it make any difference? I mean, do I really care what my yardman thinks about this growing economic problem, and he can’t vote, anyway? So, as usual, we shall look into this matter and figure out to how turn a buck on the deal.

First, we all know that, like the song says, the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. According to a new Pew Research Center Report (I rely on Pew, it’s a good, objective and fair operation), upper income family wealth is 70 times larger than lower income family wealth. Big deal. Tell us something we don’t know. Here’s something: the wealth gap between upper and middle income Americans – yes, Mr. and Mrs. Average American — has hit a record high. On average, today’s upper-income families are almost seven times wealthier than middle-income families, compared to 3.4 times wealthier in 1984. So now it’s not just the great unwashed who are getting left behind, but everyone else is, too.

Today only the top 10 percent of Americans are seeing their wealth grow while the bottom 90 get less and less of the pie each year. The driving force of this wealth chasm are the top 0.1 percent, who have seen their share of the nation’s wealth grow the most over the past decades, from 7 percent in 1979 to 22 percent today. We are talking about hedge fund managers, CEOs of the Fortune 400 and most semi-literate NBA stars. This next fact should yank your chain: The top 0.1 percent are now worth more than the entire bottom 90 percent of the U.S. population. Why this increase in the wealth of the tip-toppers? The Great Recession. While the rest of the nation was hurting, that 0.1 percent actually gained wealth. It has something to do with tax loopholes, stock options and a post office box in the Cayman Islands.

I, for one, can’t fault athletes and movie stars who make an obscene amount of money. Their bosses are mostly hard-headed business people who have determined that if they pay, say, Julia Roberts or Tom Brady $40 million, the bosses are going to make $80 million. It’s called the free market system. Should the recipient, who has maybe five good years to clean up, shove the chips back across the table and say, “Sorry, but I’m not worth that much.”? Would you? If so, come work for me.

But what chaps my chaps are the sneaky CEOs who are quietly creating a new robber baron class with lawyers, lobbyists and greedy politicians running interference, while the dumb workers don’t know they are getting screwed. A survey conducted showed that Americans drastically underestimate the CEO-to-worker pay gap. Respondents guessed the average CEO made 30 times as much as the average unskilled worker. In actual fact the CEO-to-worker pay ratio is 354-to-one.

Here in Texas, the income disparity situation is worse. Texas has the largest percentage of its population falling either below the poverty line or making more than $200,000 a year, relative to the other states. Yep, we have the largest income gap of all 50 states. Just over 21 percent of Texas’ population falls into one of these two camps, the rich and the poor, although – surprise! — most fall into the poor group. But none of our Texas’ politicians runs on the income disparity ticket. Remember, my yardman can’t vote. Among U.S. cities, College Station-Bryan ranks sixth in income disparity. Texarkana is 7th, Brownsville is 17th. Incidentally, the College Station-Bryan income statistic need some explanation. This includes 50,000 Aggies, whose collective income is zero. Incidentally, the College Station-Bryan income statistic need some explanation. This includes 50,000 Aggies, whose collective income is zero.

Now back to our presidential candidates. They are having problems with this income gap problem, and most had rather not mention it. Donald Trump’s unofficial slogan is: “I’m Rich! Deal with it.” Carly Fiorina received a $21-million golden parachute from HP. She and her husband reported a net worth of $59 million, so she can’t play the income disparity card. Hillary and Bill earned more than $25 million delivering 104 speeches since the beginning of last year, plus she made another $5 million on her book. Jeb Bush has parlayed his former governorship into about $29 million since he left office. Rick Santorum’s wealth, he said, is between $880,000 and $1.9 million. That’s not much compared to the others.

Rick Perry is building a nice house in Washington County, so he must be doing all right. Dr. Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon, author and speaker, reported that he and his wife, Cindy, earned between $8.9 million and $27 million over a recent 16-months period. Marco Rubio plays up his humble beginnings, but does not mention his purchase of an $80,000 yacht. (Conversely, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker owes between $15,000 and $150,000 in credit card and car loan debt. Do we really want such a spendthrift for president?) Only Bernie Sanders mentions income disparity. Actually, he rants about it in every speech.

This is not a gilt trip. Our job is not to sulk and be jealous. Our job is to elect the person who will get us into that top bracket. So vote for the candidate whose slogan is: “0.1 or fight.”

Ashby is getting poorer at ashby2@comcast.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tricia Covel launches golf apparel “Swing Dish”

August 21, 2015 by  
Filed under Beauty & Fashion, Blogs, Travel Blog

LAS VEGAS, NV - AUGUST 18:  Recording artist Toby Keith (L) and SwingDish creator and designer Tricia Covel attend the SwingDish Launch Event at The Country Club at Wynn Las Vegas on August 18, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Isaac Brekken/Getty Images for Swingdish)

LAS VEGAS, NV – AUGUST 18: Recording artist Toby Keith (L) and SwingDish creator and designer Tricia Covel attend the SwingDish Launch Event at The Country Club at Wynn Las Vegas on August 18, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Isaac Brekken/Getty Images for Swingdish)

Top names in fashion and the professional golf celebrated the newest line of women’s golf apparel at a party hosted by “Swingdish”at the iconic (Steve) Wynn Country Club. Championed by designer Tricia Covel, Swingdish is a signature line of luxury women’s golf apparel and accessories.

Joining the celebration were executives from golf courses around the country, fashion insiders, PGA representatives, and Covel’s husband, country music hall-of-famer and avid golfer, Toby Keith.

Over the course of her life, Covel had a love for fashion and developed a late love for the game of golf. This new found passion also lead to her partnership and current role overseeing operations at the Belmar Golf Club in her Oklahoma hometown.

Realizing there was a significant void in golf apparel for women, Covel, along with daughters Krystal & Shelley, worked with an Ohio-based creative team to create Swingdish. The fashion line includes women’s golf shorts, shirts, skorts and accessories that are functional and practical while keeping an eye on style.

LAS VEGAS, NV - AUGUST 18:  SwingDish creator and designer Tricia Covel (C) attends the SwingDish Launch Event at The Country Club at Wynn Las Vegas on August 18, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Isaac Brekken/Getty Images for Swingdish)

LAS VEGAS, NV – AUGUST 18: SwingDish creator and designer Tricia Covel (C) attends the SwingDish Launch Event at The Country Club at Wynn Las Vegas on August 18, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Isaac Brekken/Getty Images for Swingdish)

 

 

The Swingdish collection is individualistic and timeless, creating a sentimental
place in any athlete’s wardrobe. The unique line offers a successful mix of high style and
functionality perfect for all women.

Nancy Kam

August 18, 2015 by  
Filed under Kam, Nancy, Top Women

Kam_WebNancy Kam
Food Entrepreneur

The Sweet Taste of Success

Kam’s Kettle Cooked Foods’ Home Canning Tradition Turned American Dream

After 40 years of canning chili sauce in her home kitchen, President and CEO Nancy Kam’s family sauce has made it into more than 1,400 Kroger stores across the nation. This 100-year family tradition has evolved into the much sought-after American foodie dream come true. Launching in 2014 at the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, her artisan based company swiftly moved into national status, which is even hard for larger food producers to accomplish. Nancy proclaims, “Chili sauce is a comfort food that brings me back to my childhood. Someday we plan to help feed America’s poverty-stricken children. I want to give back since I had such a fortunate upbringing.

Available at Kroger, Select Safeways and Whole Foods Markets

Find a store and get a coupon at: www.kamskettlecooked.com

Karleana Farias

August 18, 2015 by  
Filed under Farias, Karleana, Top Women

Farias_WebKarleana Farias
Family Law

Leadership in business requires commitment. Karleana Farias is committed to excellence in the legal profession. A rising trailblazer in the field, Karleana has worked for the U.S Justice Department, a non-profit organization working with the South African Parliament, as well as the House of Representatives in Puerto Rico. Karleana’s past experiences and cultural diversity—she’s Cuban and Puerto Rican—complement her ability to provide legal and mediation services to clients in Harris and surrounding counties. Focusing primarily on family law, the Farias Law Firm also offers services, available in Spanish, in criminal, civil and immigration matters. At the Farias Law Firm we believe that being distinguished as a top woman in business is a recognition of our commitment to quality, leadership and zealous advocacy for our clients.

Karleana Farias
Farias Law Firm
801 Congress St., Ste. 400
Houston, TX 77002
713-226-7999
www.fariaslaw.com

Kristi Hustak, MD

August 18, 2015 by  
Filed under Hustak, Kristi, MD, Top Women

Hustak_WebKRISTI HUSTAK, MD
Plastic Surgery

Dr. Hustak is the first female plastic surgeon at the prestigious Aesthetic Center for Plastic Surgery and performs a wide spectrum of plastic and reconstructive procedures, with a specific interest in female genital rejuvenation procedures.

Trained in the most advanced plastic surgery techniques, Dr. Hustak combines surgical expertise with a compassionate, gentle approach to bring long-lasting, natural-looking aesthetic improvement to the face, breastscv and body. All surgeries using general anesthesia are performed in Dr. Hustak’s certified state-of-the-art surgical facility following the most stringent safety protocols to optimize patient safety. In addition, Dr. Hustak offers numerous nonsurgical treatments that restore a youthful, refreshed look with little to no downtime required. Our comprehensive care blends artistry with surgical precision, advanced technologies and research—all in a caring and exceptional environment. And the end result is the very best you.

MEMORIAL/TOWN & COUNTRY
12727 Kimberley Lane, Ste. 300
Houston, TX 77024

KATY
750 Westgreen Blvd.
Katy, TX 77450
713-354-5154

www.kristihustakmd.com
www.mybeautifulbody.com

Maria Calcina, DDS

August 18, 2015 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Calcina_WebMaria Calcina, DDS
Pediatric Dentistry

Dr. Maria Calcina was born in Tientsin, China, before immigrating to Venezuela. She studied dentistry at the Universidad Central de Venezuela, and went on to pursue her postgraduate degree in pediatric dentistry at New York University College of Dentistry.

After winning a battle with endometrial cancer, Dr. Calcina pursued her licensure in the U.S., where she taught at the University of Maryland College of Dentistry. In 2007, Dr. Calcina relocated to Houston, and after beating breast cancer a year later, opened her practice in Katy. Dr. Calcina is an active member of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Dental Association, the Association of Women Dentists, the Greater Houston Dental Society, the Hispanic Dental Society, the Houston Asian Dental Society, the Texas Dental Society and the Texas Southwestern Society of Pediatric Dentistry.

Maria Calcina, DDS
19214 Clay Road, Ste. D
Katy, Texas 77449
281-463-4333
www.claydental.net

THROW IN THE TOWEL

August 17, 2015 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

AUSTIN – Remember Yogi Berra’s famous quote? “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.” I suppose the opposite of that is: “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too empty.” That’s Austin in August. The Leg is gone, so are the lobbyists. UT students are elsewhere, tracking down Jefferson Davis. All the action is, as usual, in McKinney. It seems our new state attorney general, Ken Paxton, has been indicted in his hometown north of Dallas. This case will last for as long as his lawyers can drag it out, and will be decided in a few decades. Think Tom DeLay and Rick Perry.

If by chance you have been in a coma or binge-watching “My Mother the Car,” briefly, Paxton is charged with three first-degree felonies by a Collin County (McKinney is the county seat) grand jury for selling hundreds of thousands of dollars of worthless stock to friends and others without telling them he was not registered to sell stocks, nor did he reveal that he didn’t own any of them but was being paid to sell them. This is apparently against the law. Paxton had already pled guilty to similar charges and paid a $1,000 fine, while the latest prosecutorial moves were pending.

While Paxton was peddling his wares, he was a state representative. Then he was elected to the state senate, then he was elected as Texas attorney general, the state’s lawyer, while his legal problems were in all the papers. (Texas is a red state, but not a well-read state.)_How did a candidate win his party’s primary for atty gen, then win the general election (both easily), while having pled guilty to one charge and awaiting the other shoe, or indictments, to drop?

How? Because a lot of our fellow Texans – about 2.47 million — are monobrowed think-a-likes who shouldn’t be allowed near sharp instruments, small children or the voting booth. Paxton simply staked out positions in each election to the right of Santa Anna, making him – Paxton, not the Napoleon of the West – the darling of the tea party. It worked, he won. All you need in Texas today to win an election is to have an R beside your name on the ballot. Attila the Hun could beat out Sam Houston if the Hun was a Republican. Come to think of it, Paxton really did defeat a Democratic lawyer named Sam Houston.

Since Paxton’s election, he has launched an investigation into a heavily edited tape of a Planned Parenthood video which is slowly falling into disrepute.  At a legislative hearing on the matter, he introduced no evidence, no proof or anything else to bolster his case. Instead, Paxton began a long and vitriolic attack against abortion, which was not the matter under consideration. Earlier, the state’s top lawyer told county clerks that they didn’t have to obey the U.S. Supreme Court’s decree legalizing same-sex marriages. Now a judge has ordered Paxton and another state official to explain why they ignored the law. They face contempt of court charges. And we’re paying this guy?

This brings us to money. Perry has already gone through $2 million in legal fees, mostly campaign donations. If you gave to Perry’s campaigns, any of that money probably wound up in the bank account of some high-priced Houston lawyers. We are already paying hired guns to prosecute the former governor. Now we have the first or second salvo of the Paxton case, and the army of state-paid lawyers trying to put him away. How much money are these two conservative Watchdogs of the Taxpayers Wallet going to cost us?

The reason we bring all this expense and trouble on ourselves is simple: simple Texans who pride themselves on doing their civic duty, like avoiding jury duty and voting. But they vote the straight-party ballot because it is quick, easy and doesn’t require any education or courage, like booing a 6-foot-7, 240-pound quarterback from the safety of the club level. According to a recent study conducted by Austin Community College, 61 percent of voters in Texas’ 46 largest counties voted the straight-option in 2014, the highest percentage ever in a gubernatorial election year.

We follow the herd mentality when it comes to candidates, but more complex decisions are hard on the brain, and we tend to skip them. In 2014, there was about a 15 percent drop-off in the number of votes for governor and votes for a transportation proposition, also on the ballot. Figuring out transportation policies and expenses takes thought. If only the proposition had an R or D beside it. Of the 50 states, 40 ban straight-party voting. But in Texas you’ll take my voting rights away when you pry my cold, dead fingers from the straight-party button.

Now the towel story. As you may know, for the past 17 years Collin County jailers have taken alleged perpetrators’ mug shots with a towel wrapped around their necks. This is supposed to be a great equalizer, in that no shots show the suspect in a dog collar or a Brooks Bros. tux. But a judge ordered that the state attorney general could have his mug shot taken in a coat and tie. Then Paxton was allowed to leave the court house, and avoid the waiting press, thorough a little-used side door. That is called perks of the perp.

We know the drill by now: Paxton, like Perry, will cry “politics,” but Collin County and the grand jury pool are among the most conservative voters in Texas. Obama, Davis (Wendy, not Jefferson) and all other Democrats got crushed by those voters in elections. Incidentally, this brings up a possibility: Could Rick Perry have given himself a gubernatorial pardon in advance? And can Paxton;s staff of lawyers defend him?

Meanwhile, back here in empty Austin, I am surrounded by reminders of those soldiers, lawmakers, visionaries and other leaders who gave us Texas. What would they think of today’s crop – and those clueless voters who blindly elected them?

 

Ashby writes-in at ashby2@comcast.net

TRIPPING OVER THE LIGHT, FANTASTIC

August 10, 2015 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

TRIPPING OVER THE LIGHT, FANTASTIC

 

THE DEN – The couch is over here, so the coffee table must be….OUCH! My foot seems to have found it. If I just take two steps to the left, I’ll… OUCH AGAIN! Maybe I should stand still until the lights come back on, but that could be next Guy Fawkes Day. And here’s the odd part: Even with the power off and the house dark as a banker’s heart, every time I walk into a room I automatically flick the light switch.

But let me explain: For a late Father’s Day gift, my kids gave me Netflix and, better yet, one son came along to install it. (I am on the cutting edge of technology – tomorrow the wheel!) This is great. Now my wife and I can sit back and watch all the new movies that have just come out, like “Ice Station Zebra” and “Giant.” So my son installs this mysterious black box and shows me how to work it. My single remote has grown to three, a total of 1.2-million buttons. In the midst of his explanation (“No, Dad, not that input button, this input button.”) my other son calls and asks if I need help. Silly fellow. He’s talking to Thumbs Ashby who, one Christmas Eve, put together a Super-Duper Space Ship in a mere four hours and 15 minutes with only three calls to the toy store and a small sack of parts left over.

At 4:30 p.m. I hear a loud Bang!, and the lights go off. My computer goes down and its emergency bing starts binging. The constant binging is to tell me the power is out. The digital clocks go dark. The a/c stops. Obviously a transformer blew somewhere in the neighborhood. Probably the local branch of the Crips was stealing the copper wire, and one of them made contact with a thousand-volt line. Hehehe. Anyway, if history is any guide, two cherry-pickers and six work trucks from my utility company, Texas Outage & Overcharge, will be here shortly – you can always hear their guttural engines blocks away. The outside temperature is 98 (“But it feels like 198,” the semi-hysterical TV weather guy fairly shouts in a fit of victimization and self-pity.) But it’s still cool inside.

In the winter you throw another log on the fire, hunker down and wait for the heater to resume blasting. Or maybe it‘s a three-dog night. But in a Texas summer when your fingernails melt, this is serious. Until then, a few recommendations: Don’t open the refrigerator door. On the other hand, the ice-dispenser in the door doesn’t have power, so how can I get ice, the necessity of 15 minutes without a/c? The garage door won’t open or close. The doorbell won’t chime (but those bings from the computer are driving me daffy – they are on batteries). You can’t use your cordless phones. The coffee pot, blender, stove and oven are frozen, so to speak, and, of course, you can’t watch TV to see if a quarter of the city is without power.

It has now been an hour and no sound of the utility trucks. Certainly TO&O knows one of its areas is blacked out, or one of my neighbors called in to notify the company. Then again, maybe not, so I call. Wait. I can’t use my cordless phone, and my cell phone only works when standing a city block away from any tree, house or car. But I do have that land line. You know the routine, “Thank you for calling your beloved TO&O. All of our workers are busy with other customers, who are a whining bunch, always complaining that Texas has some of the highest electric rates in the country, and that their power is out. But your call is very important to us, so please stay on the line, like you’ve got a choice, and soon a surly associate will listen to your boring complaint. This call will be recorded, so watch your profanity. We have lawyers.”

Finally another recorded voice says: “Yes? Got complaint? Punch 1 if it’s electric, 2 if it’s about your bill, 3 to report another copper wire theft. For all other whines, touch 4 and be prepared to wait.” I never get to talk to a human, but I do register my gripe. Now the sun is setting, the house is getting darker and hotter, and still no power. I start looking for a flashlight, which is hard to find in the dark, so every room I enter, I attempt to turn on the light. This problem can be solved by always keeping a small flashlight on a cord around your neck allowing you to use it to find a larger flashlight. Also, you can keep one in every room in the house, preferably on the floor near the door so you can easily locate the device by tripping on it. Candles work well, too. Put candles throughout the house and tape a box of matches to your belt. Torches are even better, and also keep away vampires.

It is dark, so dark that I can hardly see the cobwebs in my office. We have two sweaty, irritated bodies loudly griping about the situation. We would go out to a nice air conditioned restaurant except our power usually comes on by now. My wife tells me it’s time we go out to a restaurant. Some of you may remember “Wait Until Dark,” in which Audrey Hepburn is terrified by a gang of thugs. But Hepburn is blind and knows her way around the house, so when the power goes off, she has the upper hand. The thugs don’t know their way around, nor do they know Audrey Hepburn is not English as everyone thinks, but is actually Dutch, her real name is Audrey Ruston and she was born in Belgium. Now where was I, or where am I? First, I’ll switch on the light.

 

Ashby is in the dark at

 

 

THE ARTFUL DODGERS

August 3, 2015 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

By Lynn Ashby 3 Aug. 2015  Presidential candidate Donald Trump has raised a ruckus by saying that Sen. John McCain “was not a hero.” Most people, including those also running for their party’s presidential nomination, have jumped into the fight, court martialing Trump for his opinion. But, in fact, we do overuse the title “hero,” especially when ordering sandwiches. If every person in the military is a hero, even every POW is one, this dilutes the beatification of those of us who truly deserve the honor. So this is a good time to look at the military records of people who would be our commander in chief. McCain deserves the title, not because he was shot down and tortured, but because when the North Vietnamese government realized that McCain, the son and grandson of admirals, was the son of the commander of the U.S. Navy Pacific Command, they offered to free him. McCain would only accept repatriation if every man taken before him was released as well. No deal, said his torturers. I don’t know about you, but I would have been on the next Southwest flight out of Hanoi. McCain’s naval honors include the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross. This makes him a hero. As for today’s wannabe presidents, militarily they are a pretty sorry lot. The draft ended in 1973, so any male candidate born after 1955, didn’t face compulsory military service. But could volunteer. (Incidentally, the Selective Service System law is still in effect, and all males between 18 and 25 must register. Wonder what percentage?) Trump admits to applying and receiving four separate draft deferments, then got a medical deferment because of a bone spur on his foot. When asked which foot, he said he didn’t know, adding: “You’ll have to look it up.” Huh? He doesn’t know which foot? Jeb Bush was eligible for the draft, and registered for service during his freshman year at UT, but the war was slowing and he was never called. ”I got a physical,” he said. “I was prepared to serve.” But he never volunteered, either. (At this point it is only fair that I explain my own military service. I cleverly avoided the Army draft by joining the U.S. Marine Corps. My drill instructor urged me to defect.) Among others in the GOP fold, Rick Santorum did not serve, nor did Chris Christi, although the Army said he could join as a tank. Dr. Ben Carson excelled in JROTC in high school, quickly rose in rank and was offered an appointment to West Point. He turned it down for Yale, and never joined the military. Ted Cruz never put on a uniform, either that of the US or Canada. (Remember, Cruz didn’t renounce his Canadian citizenship until August 2013 when his dual citizenship was revealed by the Dallas Morning News.) Still there are other GOP candidates who really did put on a uniform. Rick Perry joined the Air Force after graduating from Texas A&M, where he was in the Corps of Cadets. Perry flew C-130s, those great big cargo planes, all over the world. Lindsey Graham, being a lawyer, served in the JAG of the Air Force from 1982 to 1988 and served in the South Carolina Air National Guard, then the Air Force Reserves, rising to the rank of colonel. And those are about it in the ranks of the GOP. Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, Rand Paul, George Pataki, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker and Carly Fiorina, among others, seem to have gotten no closer to military duty than giving to the Salvation Army. This is traditional. The Republican’s last presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, did not serve in the military, but did receive a deferment to serve the Mormon Church on a 30-month mission. In Uganda? Bolivia? Mali? Not exactly. In France. He received four draft deferments and a safe lottery number. On the other hand, as a college student Romney had demonstrated in favour of the Vietnam War. That is called an “oxy-Mormon.” Romney has five sons. None of them ever put on a uniform. The most famous high profile GOPer is super-hawk on Iraq, Dick Chaney, who received five deferments during the Vietnam War, (so did Joe Biden), explaining later: “I had other priorities in the 60’s than military service.” The Democrats also have very little to salute in this matter. Bill Clinton was a master draft dodger. He jumped through hoops to avoid the military. The front runner in the Dem primaries is Hillary Clinton, who never served, even as a nurse. On the other hand, would you really want to be wounded and lying in a field hospital with Nurse Ratched taking care of you? Bernie Sanders is old enough to have qualified for the draft – into the Union Army. I can’t find any evidence he ever joined any military, but his record is anti-war and supporter of veterans. Lincoln Chafee graduated with a degree in classics from Brown University. He then moved to Bozeman, Mont., studied to become a farrier at Montana State University, then worked at harness racetracks. Maybe he could join the horse cavalry. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s father served in the U.S. Army Air Force in the Pacific during WW II, and said he witnessed the mushroom cloud rise over Hiroshima while on a routine mission. That’s close enough for government work. Jim Webb, a former Democratic senator from Virginia, led a Marine Corps platoon and company in Vietnam, later served as assistant defense secretary and secretary of the Navy. His medals include the Navy Cross (that’s second only to the Medal of Honor), the Silver Star and two Bronze Stars. So we have candidates who want to be our commander in chief, but most either dodged the draft or never volunteered to serve in the military. To those Americans who actually put on a uniform, this says more about their character than all their campaign speeches. AWOL Ashby is hiding at ashby2@comcast.net