Monday, May 27, 2013

A Post for Defenders of the American Way

To all those veterans of foreign wars, to all those that have served in the military, Thank You.

The only people in this country who should not know of your sacrifices are the very young children who have not yet entered school.

And in some cases, even the very young children will be aware of the needs of the country that has taken their mommies and daddies to war, as they now have no mommy or daddy at home.  They may not yet understand the reason, but if we, as a nation do our jobs, they will always know that their mommy or daddy gave their lives for the greatest nation on the planet.

A nation that sends its sons and daughters to war in far away lands so the the torch of freedom may someday burn in those lands.

A nation that sends it sons and daughters to war in far away places to defend the defenseless.

A nation that sends it sons and daughters to far away military bases to stand watch and keep the world as safe as possible.

A nation that understands the only payment that can assure true peace is a willingness to shed the blood of its young adults in defense of the American way.

God bless you all, and enjoy today, and the thanks of a grateful nation.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Hey Tornado Survivor, I Want Your Opinion On..........: Media and elected officials exhibit stupidity.

Man and son rummaging through their demolished
home after the Moore tornado two days ago.
OK friends, here I go on a rant about some stupid questions being posed right now in Moore, Ok.,  the scene of a horrific F5 tornado that occurred 72 hours ago at the time of this posting.

The media, which has national correspondents all over the place in Moore, are asking some of the dumbest questions ever to some of the people trying to gather their belongings and start to rebuild their lives.  And some local politicians are tagging along like baby ducklings following mommy duck to the pond.

What I am talking about is the press actually asking these people, like the guys in the picture, if they think there should be a new law in Oklahoma requiring that all residents and schools have an underground storm shelter.  Now I don't know about you, but my guess is these guys are a little busy trying to get their hands around what has happened to them.  I would bet that when they take a water or lunch break (if they even do that) that the topic of conversation will be; "I wonder what kind of new legislation we can pass that will prevent tornadoes?"  Of course I jest on the question, but to be asking these folks questions about anything other than what kind of aid or help do you need right now is cruel and stupid.

Media members, there will be plenty of time in the future for these conversations, but not right now, these folks have enough to think/worry about.

And to you Oklahoma politicians, quit the backslapping, praise heaping, and future election posturing, and focus on the job at hand.  I know there are lots of cameras and famous news personalities running around with live microphones, but do your constituents a favor: Shut up and work.

Again folks, 75 hours ago from when I posted this, these two guys above were making plans for Memorial Day weekend.  Now their full time focus is on recovery and repair.  So should yours be.

PS, good job President Obama for staying away from Moore while the initial recovery and clean up begin.  Sunday is a good time to visit.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Plastic Bag Ban: Facts that many do not know.

Below are some facts that Laredoans need to see.  At last nights city council meeting, Councilman Alex Perez said that it was time to re-introduce a plastic bag ban ordinance because a few other cities in the United States, the world, and Texas have banned single use plastic bags.  And he mentioned the still unseen survey conducted by either TAMIU, or the Rio Grande Environmental Study Center.  Yet, he did not reveal the outcome of the survey.

Of course the rubber stamp came out with all the present city council members agreeing to ask the Citizens Environmental Committee to draft a new ordinance for banning single use plastic bags.  No discussion, nothing but the usual AYE, AYE, AYE, AYE, AYE, AYE, AYE..........

Well friends, here are some facts:  PS, Jay, Sergio, take a look:


The above charts and data were supplied by the group:  Bag the Ban.    Here is their information:

Bag the Ban is a project of Hilex Poly, an industry-leading manufacturer of recycled content high density polyethylene (HDPE) bags, films and related products. A US-based company with more than 1,250 employees across America, Hilex is also an environmental innovator—the company created the world's largest closed loop plastic bag recycling plant, which recycled more than 20 million pounds of post-consumer bags and films in 2010 alone. The plastic bag industry in the USA employs more than 30,000 Americans and supports thousands more who supply products and services to this uniquely American-based market.

Bag the Ban was developed in response to proposed laws nationwide that would ban or tax plastic grocery bags. As a participant and endorser of the EPA's WasteWise Program, Hilex is deeply committed to the environment—the company is the world's largest recycler of plastic bags, and proud to manufacture high-quality, lead-free plastic shopping bags—but Hilex doesn't agree with banning and taxing bags.
Hilex believes in a better solution, one that increases plastic shopping bag recycling across the country without banning products or taxing families. Thank you for visiting Bag the Ban—please join the effort to prevent bans on plastic shopping bags.
For more information about Hilex, visit

Typical Democrats: Blames GOP for Moore Oklahoma Tornado

According to Democrats, these people were targeted
because they may be conservative.

Yes sir Democrats, never let a disaster go by without blaming Republicans.

I thought it might take a few days to hear the Democrats and the global warming crowd choose climate change as the reason for the tornado striking Moore, Ok. yesterday afternoon.

Nope, it only took 1 hour and 4 minutes before a Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D) RI took to the Senate floor and blamed Republicans for the tornado.

Link to full story:   Democratic Senator blames GOP for Moore tornado.

Timeline:  Tornado hits outskirts of Moore Ok at 3:40 p.m. ET, Whitehouse makes speech at 4:44 p.m. ET in US Senate.

Link to full story:  Daily Show creator tweets Moore tornado targeting conservatives

Look at the time stamp on the video attached in the full story.  Not only did Whitehouse make the speech, but he even rushed to make a flip card show outlining his view.  Talk about rapid response, or should it be rabid response.

Then comes this lovely tweet from the creator of "The Daily Show," Liz Winstead tweeted this line: "This tornado is in Oklahoma so clearly it has been ordered to only target conservatives."

She later removed the tweet under pressure.  But you get the point.

Sickening.  The bodies are still being recovered and the Democrat are politicizing the tragedy.  And it might be excusable if this was not the modus operandi using national tragedies in order to move their agenda forward.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Plastic Bag Ban: To be discussed at city council Monday night.

The plastic bag banners will be in full force tomorrow night (Monday May 20) at city council chambers.

Councilman Alex Perez has posted a request that the Citizens Environmental Committee prepare an ordinance to ban, or limit, plastic bags.  My guess is they will try to emulate the Austin or Brownsville plastic bag ban ordinances in place.

You will hear of a survey conducted by, either TAMIU, or the Rio Grande International Study Center (RGISC).  I am not sure who the actual author of the study is as press releases state that TAMIU assisted the RGISC in the study, but the city council item for Councilman Perez states the study was done by Dr. Manganaro at TAMIU.

It will be interesting to see if anyone on the city council ask to see the details of the study, the questions asked and to whom they were asked.

I wonder if the questions even mentioned the fact that people would have to pay for re-usable bags on their own if a ban is put in place.  Or that they might have to pay a plastic bag tax if they use plastic bags.

As far as a ban on plastic bags, For me, I say no, as the bag ban will not fix Laredo's littering problem, nor will it save the vast amounts of money that I am sure certain folks at the podium will suggest that it does.  If you really look at the amount of trash along our highways and roads, you will see that most of the trash is not single use plastic bags.  In fact, single use plastic bags are a very small percentage of our litter.

However, as I said, I am sure there will be those promising great savings to the city.  I wonder if they are willing to back up those savings claims by asking for a reduction in the city budgets where the savings will occur?  That is the true way to determine if the savings claims are smoke, or the real deal.

As a side note, what will make our ban different than Austin/Brownsville is that our residents will not have cities close by that are not participating in a bag ban.  We will be stuck with having to participate while the people of Austin and Brownsville can just go to a neighboring city to shop.

What say you.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Lemurs Opening Night: Fantastic

What a great evening of baseball last night at Uni-Trade stadium.  Opening night for the Laredo Lemurs.  The place was packed?  How packed?  It was sooooo packed that the line at the sausage shack was never fewer than 20 people, that's how packed it was.  No really, it was a sellout plus hundreds of standing room only tickets were sold.

Brats, sausage, and foot long hot dogs at Uni-Trade
Even though I was sitting with Jay St John, I enjoyed the game.  He does not think I should tell the umpires or coaches on the field what I think of their calls.  Of course any true baseball fan knows this is a God given right, and is expected from true fans.  There were a couple of other friends with me and we all, including Jay, had a great time.

All in all, the Lemurs as a team look ready to play.  So fans, get ready for a long, hot summer of baseball.

Border Patrol Checkpoints: The border communities want them.

If you are one of those people who try to act tough or want to make a U-tube video of you or your car mate arguing with a US Border Patrol agent, do us all a favor and read this post.

First off,  I am not going to cite rules and federal regulations, you quasi lawyers can do that,

The reason we have these checkpoints is so we can have a more open flow of trade and people within the border communities.  The checkpoints are what allows Mexican citizens to cross using a border crossing card.  They allow Mexican citizens the ability to cross without going through the visa application and approval process.  The border crossing cards are much more convenient.  Take away the checkpoints, and everyone who wishes to cross into the United States would be required to obtain a visa before entering the US at the bridges.

Of course Mexico would retaliate and introduce the same requirements, no US citizens could enter without a visa.  If you live in a border town you understand the chaos this would cause at the bridges.

So for you geniuses who are in line at a border patrol checkpoint and refuse to answer whether you are a US citizen or not, please quit.  You do nothing but cause the lines to be delayed.  And you are making a useless protest against a process that the people who are most affected want in place.

What say you?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

SNAP: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or Secure Nice American Paycheck, You Pick

In today's Laredo Morning Times there is an article about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP.)
The article reports that the Texas Food Bank Network says that Texas has failed to enroll all the people eligible for the program and therefore are not spending all the money allocated by the SNAP program to the tune of $135 million.

My questions are these:

1.  How can the Texas Food Bank Network know how many people are really eligible for SNAP in Texas if illegal immigrants are allowed to apply?

I believe they are only saying that all the benefits are not being used because the money has not been spent, not because they have identified families that are eligible.  Classic case of "well the money was budgeted, so we must spend it" often used in government circles.

2.  How many people are using SNAP that do not live in this country?  

We know that we have hundreds, if not thousands, of students from Mexico cross the border each day to attend our public schools along the US/Mexico border.  They have established some sort of residency claim.  They could do the same for SNAP.

From a flyer distributed in Mexico by the US Department of Agriculture:

“The promotion of the food stamp program, now known as “SNAP” (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), includes a Spanish-language flyer provided to the Mexican Embassy by the USDA with a statement advising Mexicans in the U.S. that they do not need to declare their immigration status in order to receive financial assistance,” Judicial Watch announced today.  “Emphasized in bold and underlined, the statement reads, ‘You need not divulge information regarding your immigration status in seeking this benefit for your children.’”

Should Americans be forced to pay welfare to those that do not even live in this country?

What say you?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

UISD Insurance Rate Increase: UISD meet Affordable Care Act

Looks like some of you UISD employees woke up to some disturbing news today.  It looks like your out of pocket expenses for insurance are going up for your health insurance.  I don't know why any of you would expect anything different.  Insurance all across America is going up.

As the article states, expansion of services mandated under the Affordable Care Act, such as women's preventive care (my add, free birth control) and tax credits for middle-class families, creates cost, and employers are perhaps the most likely to absorb it.

That last part, that employers are the most likely to absorb the cost, I don't agree with.  Most likely, like UISD, employers are going to pass on the cost to employees in higher premiums co-pays, and higher deductibles.  And, expect those that can will quit providing health insurance to employees, and let them fend for themselves in the "open" market that is the Affordable Care Act.

As Robert Chapa, UISD Risk Management Director, stated, a reprieve from increasing insurance plans isn't likely to come soon.  He further stated, "Is it going down?  I don't see how.....Somebody is going to pay for it.  It's not free."

What did he say?  Government money is not FREE.  What a surprise.

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Watershed Moment in American Governance: How will the American people respond?

 My friends, we are at a watershed moment in American history.  Late last week we learned that the most feared branch of the United States government, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) admitted that members of the agency have targeted Americans because of their political beliefs.  
Let me repeat this.  The IRS, the agency that has no limits on how much information they can obtain on any citizen, business, or any group, be they political, religious, or fraternal groups, has targeted groups of people based solely on their political beliefs.  
It was first reported that these IRS agents who specifically targeted "conservative leaning groups,  were low level agents and that the upper echelons of the IRS staff knew nothing about this targeting.  Now, that statement is being reported as not true.  The IRS hierarchy did have knowledge and still allowed the practice to take place.  The U.S. Congress has ordered the IRS to immediately submit reports and documents to them outlining the abuses.  It is clear that this process was allowed to continue for years by the IRS, and who knows who else in this administration.
Folks, the IRS was targeting non-profit groups that used any phrase involving the words tea party or patriot, or groups that they deemed political action type organizations involved in limiting/expanding Government, or educating on the Constitution or Bill of Rights.  Yes, if you believe in the United States Constitution and preach it's value and laws, you were a target of the federal government.

We now have one of the most powerful agencies in the federal government lashing out at those who believe that the federal government is to powerful, to large, and incapable of adhering to the Constitution of the United States, the very document that the people who work in our government swore to uphold.
The most basic concept of American government is this:

The people allow the government to exist.

Watershed moment?  You bet.  We have come to a moment in time, where at least some people in the federal government have decided they are more important than the people.  That they, the government, should decide how big they should be, that they, the government, should decide what the policies of the country should be, that they, the government, are the most important people in this nation.
My question is, will "We the People" allow them to continue?

One of my favorite historical quotes:

We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, 
not to overthrow the Constitution 
but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.

Abraham Lincoln

Friday, May 10, 2013

Hodge-Podge Friday: Pick a topic, or make up your own

 Welcome to my new Hodge-Podge Friday post.  Pick a topic, any or all, or add your own, and let'er rip.

A fact you should know and understand.  No government can fix a broken economy.  Can't be done.  All government can do is hinder economic growth through regulation.  The can only help an economy by removing regulation.  Some regulation is required.  How do I know this is true?  Because if government could fix an economy, why would there ever be an economic downturn?  What elected official wants a down economy?

Global warming/climate change are government names given to contrived events designed to scare the population of the world into forgoing sovereignty, giving up cash, and giving up the lifestyle you are accustomed to in order to allow the select few to rule you.  Note:  they, the select few will give up nothing in the name of their sacred cows.

Now that the temperature has not gone up in years (over 16), and carbon dioxide is at a very high level (this was to mean doom to the world according to the global warming hysterics), hopefully we can get back to living our lives without a guilty conscience  you know the tool used by the so called environmental groups to get you to give up things that make your life better.

When is Del Mar ever going to be 4 lanes wide from I-35 to Loop 20?  When is Bartlett going to be connected to Del Mar? When will the police ever enforce our existing traffic laws, red lights, speeding, etc...?  These are a few questions I would like city council to ponder instead of putting up a net at the ballpark, or spending hours at the meetings backslapping and photo taking.

I am concerned that the city may pass a bicycle right of way ordinance that will not only be impossible to enforce but will cause such confusion among passenger car and truck drivers that someone will get killed because of it.  The law today is that any motor vehicle, no matter what the circumstances, repeat, no matter what the circumstances must yield to bicycles and pedestrians.  There are no exceptions.

So, why do we need a confusing ordinance?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Texas School Rankings: Opinions often based on inaccurate statistical analysis.

United High School, Laredo, Tx.
It has always amazed me that those who keep statistics on school performance always fail in reporting the anomalies in their arguments.  I am talking about statements that are made in opinion pieces, much like the ones that appear in today's San Antonio Express News.

From an opinion piece titled: "Texas education system must change for our future"

It is not a coincidence that more than one-fourth of Texas high school students fail to graduate on time. For African-American and Hispanic students, the dropout rate is more than one-third.
Out of all 50 states, Texas has the highest percentage of adults who have not completed high school. Not only does it threaten the economic well-being of all Texans, it has and continues to impede economic progress for at least two generations of Mexican-Americans and African-Americans in Texas.

If a person reads that an knows nothing about Texas, then one would believe that Texas is very bad at educating our children.  However, if you were to take some of the lowest common denominators out of the equation across the board for the whole United States school system, and then rank Texas, we would be ranked much higher than we are today.

What is one of those common denominators?  Illegal immigrants who come here with no education (adults who have not completed high school), and unable to speak English.  These folks are counted by the U.S. Census Bureau yet they are not segmented as illegal immigrants.  This makes it impossible to accurately determine the rankings of any state's education system.

Why, you say?  Would you rank your school system as a poor performing district if 60% of the kids attending did not speak English, and had very little previous education in their home country?  Would the numbers be skewed?  Of course they would.

Would you rank your state school system as poor performing if your state was home to more illegal immigrants adults who had no high school education from their home country than the other states you are being compared to?  Of course not.

I am not saying anything here about immigration reform.  That is another topic in its self.  

What this post is about is numbers used to compare Texas with other states.  States that have a small illegal immigrant population.  States that have no border with Mexico, where thousands of kids come across the border each day and attend U.S. schools in border towns.  

Fact (from Department of Homeland Security report on immigration, read here):

California has 25% of the 11.5 million illegal immigrants.
Texas has 16%
Next 8 states have avg. 4%
Last 40 states have avg. .7%

Unless you can show education stats where these people are segmented, your data is skewed, and therefore useless in setting policy.  And if you don't fix the statistical model, you are making wrong decisions.

Accurate statistics can help you make decisions.  Flawed models can ruin your business.  That is Business Policy 101.  I would think it should be Education Policy 101.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Net: What will it mean.

This interaction  between players and fans at Uni-Trade
goes away when you install a screen extending
past the dugouts.
Last night at the Laredo City Council meeting, Councilman Roque Vela Jr. continued his discussion on adding a screen to Uni-Trade Stadium to prevent some foul balls or other flying objects from entering the stands.

Vela Jr. wants to add to the existing screen which stretches from just short of the first base dugout to just short of the third base dugout.  The screen is vertical only, and has no horizontal connection to the upper deck in the stadium.

Vela Jr.'s desire for the screen is based on an incident where a small girl was hit in the eye by a foul ball last year. ( Just added this at 3:00 pm: Not that it makes any difference to the debate, but for disclosure purposes, the little girl who got hit in the eye is ex-Laredo Councilman Johnny Rendon's granddaughter.  At the meeting last night, no decision was reached and council moved to have some sort of "public meeting" where they will measure the number of people showing up and what they have to say as being how they will determine whether or not to install the screen.

I have a different approach to determining whether a screen is wanted, or not,  by the baseball fans.  Let's let them decide.  Post a survey inside the entrance to the ball park on game day.  This way you get people's opinion that have paid for a ticket, and eliminate the opinions of those that do not use the park.  The first home game is a week from this Thursday.  If the fans want a screen it can be installed when the Lemurs are on the road, the next week.

I personally have conducted my own poll of those that I know go to the games regularly and the numbers come out 8 to 2 against additional netting.  Contrary to what Councilman Vela Jr. says, Laredoans are not different than other baseball fans, and they do know how to pay attention during a baseball game, and they do make sure they are watching their kids for the entire game.  They understand that baseball is a game where interactions of fans and players are normal and that the interaction should not be hindered by fences and screens.

This kid will not get to interact like this
if a net is installed.
I want you to look at this photo carefully.  I took this panorama last year, look at where the fans are sitting.  There are many more fans sitting outside the screen than behind the screen.  Note that box seat pricing extends from behind home plate to the far sections at the dugouts.  So, this is not a pricing issue you see in the photo.

I have this on my Facebook page also.  You can see it a little better.
Tom Wade Laredo on Facebook.

Anyway, I would suggest you call your councilperson if you have an opinion and let him/her know what it is.

I ask you to comment here, and let me know your thoughts.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Disaster Funding: Where does it go?

Ever wonder where the money goes when  the governor of a state ask the federal government for "disaster relief?"

Well, in New York, we now know where some of the Hurricane Sandy Relief money is going.  It is going to promote New York as a business friendly environment (that is going to take a lot of money).

Read this short blurb from the National Review Online.

Andrew Cuomo Launches Ad Campaign to Lure Businesses to N.Y.  (Read Full Story Here)

New York governor Andrew Cuomo is launching a $140 million ad campaign to lure businesses to the Empire State. The campaign, “New York State Open for Business,” is being funded with money drawn from federal disaster aid received in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and from the Power Authority and Energy Research and Development Authority, according to the New York Times. 

I have always wondered how a storm can cause let's say $100 billion in damages, and the states ask for $100 billion in emergency relief money from the federal government.  Money that is not expected to be paid back.  This is not FEMA money for loans, but giveaway cash from the feds.  

If the damage is $100 billion, wouldn't a normal, somewhat intelligent person expect the insurance companies to be on the hook for some of the repairs?  And if they are, then why does the state ask for so much money.  Well, obviously you see the answer above.  It becomes a state slush fund for fixing and buying whatever the state wants.

So next time you hear some whining politician, like Chris Christe, or Andrew Cuomo, complaining they are pissed because the federal government is not giving them the amount of money they ask for, now you know why.  Of course most federal legislators like giving away your's and my money.  They could care less that the insurance companies are probably going to pick up the biggest share of the damage.  It allows them to pull out the over-sized cardboard checks and pose for pictures that shows they care.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Thought Police: Coming to Florida very soon.

What are thought police?  As defined in Wikipedia, plus a little update by me in red,  it is the job of the Thought Police to uncover and punish thought-crime and thought-criminals. They use psychology and omnipresent surveillance (such as video cameras, computers, social media) to monitor, search, find and arrest members of society who could potentially challenge authority and status quo, even only by thought, hence the name Thought Police.

Can this ever happen in America?  Of course not you say.  However, you are wrong.

From an article in the Palm Beach Post.  Here are the first few paragraphs:

Florida House and Senate budget leaders have awarded Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw $1 million for a new violence prevention unit aimed at preventing tragedies like those in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., from occurring on his turf.

Bradshaw plans to use the extra $1 million to launch “prevention intervention” units featuring specially trained deputies, mental health professionals and caseworkers. The teams will respond to citizen phone calls to a 24-hour hotline with a knock on the door and a referral to services, if needed.Bradshaw said his proposal is a first-of-its-kind in the nation, and he hopes it will become a model for the rest of the state like his gang prevention and pill-mill units.

“Every single incident, whether it’s Newtown, that movie theater, or the guy who spouts off at work and then goes home and kills his wife and two kids — in every single case, there were people who said they knew ahead of time that there was a problem,” Bradshaw said. “If the neighbor of the mom in Newtown had called somebody, this might have saved 25 kids’ lives.”

Bradshaw is readying a hotline and is planning public service announcements to encourage local citizens to report their neighbors, friends or family members if they fear they could harm themselves or others.

The goal won’t be to arrest troubled people but to get them help before there’s violence, Bradshaw said. As a side benefit, law enforcement will have needed information to keep a close eye on things.

“We want people to call us if the guy down the street says he hates the government, hates the mayor and he’s gonna shoot him,” Bradshaw said. “What does it hurt to have somebody knock on a door and ask, ‘Hey, is everything OK?’ ”

That’s enough for Senate budget chief Joe Negron, R-Stuart, who helped push through the funding last weekend

My friends, if this is not enough to send a chill up your spine, then you scare me.  

Now, imagine a law in Florida that would require gun owners to register all of their firearms.   What happens to the lawful gun owner when a "neighbor," who does not like the gun owner or guns, decides to call the sheriff's office and report that O'l Joe hates the government and seems a little crazy.   Do you really think the sheriff's office is going to go to O'l Joe's house and JUST KNOCK ON THE DOOR AND ASK IF HE IS O.K. knowing he owns guns, and is reported to be crazy acting.  Of course not, they will go to his house with a SWAT team and terrorize him and his family because his neighbor hates him and his guns.  

Now, to those of you who have said;  "You gun owners are crazy, the government does not want to take away your guns.  You need to register guns just like cars.  The government is your friend."  You now understand why we do not want gun registration and more government regulation of law abiding citizens.  

To those of you who would give up constitutional rights to enjoy a little (very little) temporary safety, you should be the ones being examined by a psychiatrist.

This law is against everything American.  I hope it is a short lived fad.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Baseball is in the Air: Lemurs second season opens May 16th

Uni-Trade Stadium
The Laredo Lemurs open season two on Thursday May 16, 2013 with a seven game home stand against the Fargo Moorehead Redhawks and the Grand Prairie Air Hogs.

One of the nice things about being in a 13 team league (American Association) is that this year the Lemurs are host to 5 teams that Lemurs fans did not see play at Uni-Trade Stadium last season.

Those teams are:

Fargo Moorehead Redhawks
Souix Falls Canarles
Newark Bears
Kansas City T Bones (my favorites of course)
St. Paul Saints

Last year was the inaugural season for the Lemurs and the Uni-Trade Stadium.  This year the stadium will open the child play area off the left fields stands as well as a completed outfield seating area.  The stadium layout is designed so most of the seating is in the shade by evening game times.  The seating is spacious and you have room to stretch out in your seats.  It is a very well designed venue.

I went to about 20 games last year and had a blast.  The baseball is good, the food is good, and the prices are right for the area.

Laredo, get ready for some baseball........

Here is a link to the Lemurs baseball team.  You can purchase tickets from this link, see the team, and the 2013 schedule.

Dan Brown Discussion at Laredo Public Library

Here is an event that will be taking place at the Laredo Public Library on Calton road next week.  I will occasionally run these types of events on the blog.

I personally am not a huge Dan Brown fan, though I liked Angels and Demons.

PS, note the savings on the book if you purchase through Books-A-Million.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Sequester Oh Oh: Public not buying it. Senate reacts. President's Pain Strategy Failing.

A photo from the Laredo Air Force Base (now the Laredo International
Airport) control tower in the early 1970's.  Photo courtesy of
 Frank Vida, a former USAF air traffic controller at the base.
Last night the United States Senate, led by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) miraculously found money to get to the U.S. Department of Transportation so they would not have to furlough air traffic controllers, thereby ending the phony flight delays the president demanded.  The bill being introduced by Reid would allow the U.S. Department of Transportation to shift $253 million to the FAA budget.

Yes folks, you read it, a budget line shift within the U.S. DOT.  It is all that is needed.  No tax increase, no borrowing, no extra spending.  Only a transfer of funds that will be taken from, obviously, budget lines that are not critical to the operation of the U.S. DOT.  

As I, and many others have said all along, the sequester, which came out of the White House and voted for by both parties, became what President Obama believed would be a wedge issue for the 2014 mid-term elections.  

The President is losing the blame game he is so famous for on this issue.  In fact, his desire to inflict pain on the American public to prove a political point and then blame Republicans is at best disgusting, and politically impeachable.  In all my adult years of living with various Presidents, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Regan, Bush, Clinton, and GW Bush, never did one of them ever willfully wish to inflict pain on the American people to try to prove a political point. 

Don't believe me.  Read this Washington Post article about an administration email to the US Department of Agriculture.  

I take you back to a CNN interview of Ray LaHood, the departing U.S. Secretary of Transportation.  This interview was conducted in February 2013.  These notes are from Newsbusters .  

CANDY CROWLEY, HOST: As far as we can figure out, the FAA budget - we're not even talking about the transportation - is about $15 billion give or take. They’re going to have to cut $600 million, about 4 percent. Why is that enough to cause planes to be delayed for an hour and a half? There surely must be things inside the FAA budget where can you get rid of 4 percent.

RAY LAHOOD, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: And we’re going to do that, Candy. We have been spending the last several months looking at, and we will really focus on this now, every contract to see what penalties we might have to take. We’re going to cancel contracts. We’re going to look at everything we possibly can to get to where we need to be, which is about $600 million in cuts, but we can't do it without also furloughing people. And we’re going to have to, the largest number of people…

CROWLEY: 4 percent is just, that's a very big budget. And let me add something else. A Republican from Capitol Hill in the leadership office messaged and said, listen, the budget committee took a look at some of these numbers, and they found post-sequester, your post-sequester total at FAA ops and facilities and equipment is going to be about $500 million more than 2008 and the planes were running just fine. So, what's, I'm trying to figure out, as you know, people are saying the administration is exaggerating this. So, if you're going to be having totals inflation-adjusted at 2008 levels, why all of this [unintelligible] oh my goodness, all the planes are going to be late?

LAHOOD: Well first of all, we're required to cut $1 billion. The largest number of employees at DOT is at FAA of which the largest number are FAA controllers. We're going to try and cut as much as we possibly can out of contracts and other things that we do. But in the end there has to be some kind of furlough of air traffic controllers. And that, then, will also begin to curtail or eliminate the opportunity for them to guide planes in and out of airports. It's a big part of our budget.
Watch Crowley's response:

 CROWLEY: Is it true that domestic flights are down 27 percent from pre-9/11 levels and the budget at the FAA is up 41 percent?

LAHOOD: Well, look. We know that airlines have consolidated. We've approved some of those consolidations. And in doing that, you know, a certain …

CROWLEY: There's less traffic.

LAHOOD: There's less traffic, of course.

CROWLEY: But more budget.

LAHOOD: Well, look, budgets go up and down, but the bottom line here is that there is sequester required. It's required by law. It means we have to make these cuts. This not stuff that we just decided to make up.

CROWLEY: No, I understand. I guess what I'm trying to get at is that people think, wait a minute, there surely has to be money that you can take, and you say you're going to look at it, without having to have delayed flights. And the idea is that this was kind of ginned up by the administration, and not just you, but, you know, aircraft carriers can't go here and there to try to put pressure on Congress.

I believe what Secretary LaHood wanted to say was;  "Look Candy, the President does not want us to look for cuts that make sense.  This whole thing is about winning a very important election for the President's legacy.   The American people should shut up, and let this play out, blame the Republicans like they have been trained to do, and elect enough Democrats to give the President the House and Senate.  Then, the President can lead us truly to the promised land."

And, I believe, he would further state;  "So Candy, quit trying to tell the American public that there is plenty of money in our budget to keep the planes flying safely.  It does not matter that our budget is up 41% since 9-11.  It does not matter that there are fewer planes flying now than back then.  THE AMERICAN PEOPLE DO NOT MATTER.  What matters is the President's agenda." 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

CBP and Border Patrol Report Drug Seizures: Why not report the apprehensions of those trying to enter the US illegally?

Today the Laredo Morning Times, as they do often, reported that CBP had seized eight pounds of methamphetamine and 10 pounds of cocaine.

I like to see these reports, as it keeps the public up to date as to what is crossing our border.  The only problem that I have is the reporting of the "street value" of the drugs confiscated as if that was what it cost the cartels in losses.  But that subject is for another post.

What I would really like to see is a weekly, or at least monthly report, on the amount of people that were detained/apprehended/refused entry by CBP and Border Patrol who tried to enter the country illegally.  This could be segmented into those that were denied visas, and those that attempted to bypass the normal inspection process.  You know, by swimming across the river, hiding in a tractor trailer, what ever.  These numbers would certainly help the politicians in the immigration debate.  Trends would be established and the efficiency of our border protection systems could be measured.

The numbers most likely are being kept, it is time to make them public.  Most Laredoans care just as much about what is coming across our border illegally as who and how many are coming across our border illegally.

PS: I know they are all CBP, but Border Patol and Customs do keep separate metrics.

What say you?:

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

West Texas Plant Explosion: Too early to assign blame

The explosion at the chemical plant is West, Texas last week is still under investigation and as of this posting, no true cause of the explosion has been reported.
Until that time when the cause of the explosion is reported, I will not speculate on who is, or is not at fault.
But, what is happening, is that the media are all looking for anything to report on this tragedy, and they seem to have landed on the failure of the plant to properly report exact chemical amounts, security measures in place at the facility, and emergency plans concerning terrorist attack to the Department of Homeland Security under the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS).
CFATS is not a safety program designed to make plant operations or material handling safe.  It is a program designed to allow DHS to understand threats to the security of the United States.  It is designed to allow DHS to assist chemical manufacturers, suppliers, and storage facilities to mitigate the possibility of terrorist attack.  
In fact, congressional hearing on CFATS has shown there are significant problems with the program.  And I would venture to say that a small chemical manufacturing plant located in a community of under 10,000 people was even on DHS radar as a potential terrorist target.
What the press should be asking is did the company report it's chemical quantities correctly under the Environmental Protection Agency's EPCRA reporting system.  This is the system in which local fire and public safety agencies are made aware of chemical risk.
The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) of 1986 (EPCRA) was created to help communities plan for emergencies involving hazardous substances. The Act establishes requirements for federal, state and local governments, Indian tribes, and industry regarding emergency planning and "Community Right-to-Know" reporting on hazardous and toxic chemicals. The Community Right-to-Know provisions help increase the public's knowledge and access to information on chemicals at individual facilities, their uses, and releases into the environment. States and communities, working with facilities, can use the information to improve chemical safety and protect public health and the environment.
There are four major provisions of EPCRA:
  • Emergency Planning (Sections 301 — 303)
  • Emergency Release Notification (Section 304)
  • Hazardous Chemical Storage Reporting (Sections 311 — 312)
  • Toxic Chemical Release Inventory (Section 313)
If they met EPCRA standards, then the reporting should be considered adequate.  As far as I know, there has been no reporting that the plant explosion was a terrorist attack.

So, in reality, no one knows what caused the explosion at this time.  I will wait for that cause to be be declared before I rush to issue judgement.  I like everyone else in the United States benefits greatly from our chemical industry.  Without today's modern chemicals, our country and world would not be as safe, healthy, or prosperous as we are.

Of course, there are risk associated with everything we do or own in our lives.  Just being born exposes one to risk.  

It is for this reason that everyone should take a deep breath and wait for the outcome of the investigation of the cause of the explosion.  And be ready to hear that a human made a mistake that cost the lives of many people.  It is not the first time, nor will it be the last.  

The only thing we can do is look at the cause, see if there are steps than can be taken to prevent the cause, and implement them.  But we cannot chastise a whole industry or set of existing safety rules based on the information we now have.

PS.  Texas industry is required to follow EPA and DHS regulations.  No state or city has much control over the rules and regulations that the EPA or DHS has in place.  Federal regulations preempt state laws in the majority of cases regarding chemical manufacturing, storage, handling, and transportation. So those of you wishing to blame Texas, not this time.

Sequestration Update: How would Andy Griffith respond?

Opie throwing a fit on the floor in front of his father.
If you love the Andy Griffith show as much as I do, you will undoubtedly remember the episode called titled The Spoiled Kid.

Here is a quick outline of the plot.  Mayberry is having a bit of a problem with a boy who is continually riding his bike on the sidewalks and knocking people over. The boy, Arnold Winkler, has just gotten his new bicycle and for Opie, it's a beauty. Actually, Opie thinks Arnold, who has just moved to Mayberry with his family, is the luckiest kid around. He not only has a new $70 bike, but he gets a much bigger allowance and doesn't have to do chores to get it. He thinks Opie is a sap and gives him some hints on how to get what he wants out of parents, like stomping your feet, holding your breath and pretending to cry. When Opie tries it with Andy, it doesn't get him very far. When Andy and Barney impound Arnold's bike for again riding on the sidewalk, they get a visit from the boy's father who soon comes to realize just how selfish and arrogant his little boy is.

So, Tom, how is it even possible that this episode of a long gone television show is related to today's events involving sequester?

Well, here I go:  Just think of President Obama and his cabinet as the "spoiled kid."  This spoiled kid refuses to accept a small reduction in the growth of his allowance.  Remember, his allowance does not shrink, but instead of getting a $1 increase in allowance, he only gets $.95 cents.  His allowance of $250 is only going up to $250.95 instead of $251.00, a 2 percent reduction in growth.

Now, the President goes to the public and says, hey Paw (new name for voters), why are you cutting my allowance, you always gave me a dollar raise, now you are taking money out of my pocket.  Paw says, well Mr. President, I am not taking one penny from you, I actually am giving you more money, and you need to spend it wisely. 

Well, that is not good enough for the President, so he, and his gang of kids (the cabinet) decide to throw temper tantrums, not by falling on the floor and flailing their arms and legs, nor by holding their breath, but by doing everything they possibly can to make Paw suffer.  Like cutting the number of air traffic controllers hours , and reducing security at the border, and what ever else they can cut to assure pain to Paw.  The President and his gang of kids do this instead of making cuts where there will be no noticible loss of service, such as cutting travel to and from meetings, reducing wasted spending on projects like studying the sexual habits of snails, and many others to numerous to list.  

Nope, the President insist, no demands, no really, really insist that the funds for growth be added back.  Like the spoiled kid, he throws fits, and by use of the cabinet is blackmailing the American public to go along with his way, which is to continue to see government grow for the sake of growth alone.

Andy Griffith, if still alive, would tell the President; "Hey son, you can throw all the tantrums you want, but you still are not getting the extra nickle.  Even though I am giving you more money than last year, you whine like a baby.  Go ahead, whine and cry, my mind is made up.  I am the adult, you are the child, my say is final."

Monday, April 22, 2013

Boston Terrorist Did Not Have Proper Licensing For Guns: Ah, what about the bombs?

There are a couple of articles out there from Reuters and The Hill, stating that the two brother terrorist who set off bombs at the Boston Marathon did not have the proper licensing for the guns they possessed.

Let me repeat that, the two terrorist did not follow the very restrictive gun laws of Massachusetts.  By those laws, the younger brother, under 21 could not own a handgun, he did.  He could only have a rifle if he had a permit.  He did not.  The older brother could own a handgun, but he had no license to carry, nor a permit to even own the gun.

Yep.  There you have it folks.  Terrorist who do not follow the law.  Well ain't that a shocker?  

Of course both these news agencies wonder if there will be a call for stricter gun control.  Of course there will.  Until all guns are taken from every person and all guns are outlawed, there will always be those that want more gun control laws and bans.

The irony here is that neither news agency here ask if there will be tougher bombing legislation?  

What say you?

Internet Sales Tax: Could there be unintended consequences no one is talking about?

What may be the unintended consequences of
collecting internet sales taxes?
As early as today, the United States Senate may take up a bill (The Marketplace Fairness Act) that would allow states and local governments to collect all sales taxes due on products bought over the internet.  Today, the law allows a state (not city or county) to collect sales taxes from an internet sales company if they have a working facility in that state.Read Washington Post story here.

What is being proposed is that all internet sales, from those companies who have over $1 million in out of state sales, would have to collect and pay the sales tax due to the state, city, and county where the purchaser orders the goods from.   To comply with this bill, those affected internet sellers will  have to have some high powered sales tax figuring software, as there are thousands of taxing districts in the United States, many with odd sales tax laws that will have to be understood.  For example, Laredo has an 8.25% sales tax, other Texas cities have more or less.  Some states allow rounding up for sales tax collection on 1/2 cents, others round down.  So if I buy from Amazon, Walmart, Sears, or whomever online, my price will go up 8.25% on that sale.

Of course most brick and mortar retailers are all for this as they say the sales tax loophole provides a discount for those purchases made over the internet.  This is partly true.  And they believe that this law will make more people buy their products from local stores.  Again, this is partly true.  So, the National Federation of Retailers, including Walmart and other big box stores are all for The Marketplace Fairness Act.

Now, for the possible unintended consequences.

First off, when you buy over the internet you pay something that is not a line item charge on your product sale at the local store.  You pay freight.  That can range from free shipping for large purchases, to small dollar amounts to hundreds of dollars depending on the size, weight, and urgency for delivery.  So, while the retailer in the local store pays shipping cost, those cost are mitigated over truck load rates, not individual customer shipments.

So, there could be, as the brick and mortar retailers hope, a massive shift from internet purchases to local purchases.  If this is the case,. you will see less of the UPS and FedEx trucks in your neighborhood, less of the mailman delivering to your door.  That of course will mean job losses and spending shifts.

Or, this bill could force the online retailers (which I hope comes true) to actually reduce the price they charge for products in order to offset shipping and thereby increase their competitiveness with the local stores.

Of course this may start a price war, and everyone may reduce their cost, which will of course reduce the  total money collected for sales tax.

Another area, and I don't buy music, or rent tapes, where the tax could make an impact is on the sale of songs, video rental, software purchases, technical services, etc.  Too soon to tell.

Or, and this will be very interesting to see, it could force US internet retail purchasers to shop overseas for big ticket items like cameras, computers, etc.  I am not sure how this legislation addresses that.

Only time will tell.  But I can assure you a true winner in this whole process will the makers of the computer software that keeps track of and figures sales taxes for cities like Havana, Kansas, population 235 (on a good day.)  And of course the city, county, and state governments.

Losers, U.S. consumers who buy online, not because of price, but because of availability and choice.  Now those desires will be taxable.