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I went to see District Attorney Bill Turner’s cross examination of P. David Romei Tuesday afternoon.  It was brutal.  Romei, already worn out by some eight hours of direct examination over two days, sparred in a spirited fashion with the DA, but Turner won every round on points, if not by knockout. The twelve jurors and two alternates seated across the small courtroom could not have failed to note the one-sided nature of the bout.   A first-time felony defendant is no match for a prosecutor with several decades of courtroom experience, but Romei contributed to his own demise with a series of gaffes and failed attempts at self-effacement.  It didn’t help that the case against him appeared devastating. Continue Reading »

When I was a kid growing up in Louisiana, no public building, bridge, highway or any other taxpayer-funded project could bear the name of a living person.  Why?  Louisiana masons over the years made a killing chiseling off  the names of politicians and public officials who had taken up residence in state or federal penal institutions.

Those services could be needed in College Station soon.  P. David Romei, former executive director of the Arts Council of the Brazos Valley and a graduate school classmate of mine, went on trial this week for embezzling public and commission funds.  If convicted, he could be directing prison art and dramatic productions for the next decade.  Meanwhile, every day local citizens drive by the multimillion dollar Arts Center, emboldened with his name in sliver letters on black marble.  I wonder what that would cost to modify? Continue Reading »

They said who would be violent on election night?

Five minutes after I returned home from the election night celebration with the Brazos County Democrats, as I was tuning the television to Barack Obama’s victory speech, three shots rang out.  Gunmen fired into my dining room window, while my wife and 6-year-old daughter sat the table doing homework.  They then smashed the rear window of my wife’s Durango before they sped off to the roar of a diesel engine.

I guess a segment of the fine law-and-order crowd in our Republican-dominated community couldn’t put up with the disappointment of losing an election, nor the presence among them of partisan Democrats who actually supported the idea of a black man becoming president.  Perhaps that was too much to bear for the progeny of slave owners.  So, they endangered my family’s life in order to release their violent inhibitions. Continue Reading »

Margarita Rocks Restaurant, College Station, Nov. 4, 2008

Yes, there are Democrats in Aggieland, and did we party on election night!

A loyal Democrat owns a local Mexican restaurant.  We had all our debate parties there, enjoying nachos and margaritas while watching hapless John McSame unsuccessfully try to ruffle Barack.  Fortunately, the fire marshal didn’t show up on election night, as we packed the place to the walls.  There were hundreds of us, pitted against a couple of Republicans seated at the bar, who did their best to cheer as returns from Mississippi and Alabama trickled in.  When Florida and Ohio went for Barack, the blue dye was cast.  We knew the explosion would occur at ten o’clock, when west coast voting would cease and the networks would project the inevitable winner.

Then it happened.  Eight years of indescribable frustration manifested itself in a joyous eruption.  Hugs, high fives, and smiles the width of the Brazos River permeated the faces of those who had put up with more than their share of office colleagues, friends, family, and neighbors–ultraconservative Bush lovers who defiantly remained out of step with the rest of the educated world.  Brazos County, home of Pappy Bush’s presidential library, voted as if it were willing to put up with four more years of the same, but Texas moved five percent closer to turning blue.  The Hispanic vote, which naysayers predicted would never turn out in support of a black man, rolled in solidly for Barack.  The cities, Houston, Dallas, and Austin, reflected solid support for Democrats.  The 17th Congressional District, in which we reside, did reelect George W.’s Democratic congressman, Chet Edwards.  A “Blue Dog” he may be, but he’s our blue dog! Continue Reading »

It was election night, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008.   At precisely 10 p.m. Central Standard Time, the west coast polls closed.  Instantaneously, the networks projected that the United States of America had elected its first African-American president.  At that precise moment, thanks to the resaurant’s wi-fi connection, I pressed the “send” button to post this video on the Politics forum of the Texags.com web site.  I had been working on it, off and on, for about a week, in anticipation of Barack Obama’s victory that would bedevil the conservative political sensitivity of the god-fearing, Limbaugh-listening, arch political conservatives who inhabit this forum.

I entitled it, We’re So Sorry, Right-Wing Aggies. I’ll admit, I did it to make them mad.  There’s not a lot of tolerance for left-wing though on that forum, so I thought I’d tap the moment for a bit of fun.

You should have seen the reaction.  Some 50 Aggies watched the clip on Blip.tv within just a few minutes.  Their anger flowed back with every click of the reply button.  How dare I include Earl Rudder in this video!  It’s riddled too many inaccuracies to list, one replied.  Two insisted that Alan Keyes was right to advocate repeal of the 17th Amendment.   One correspondent said he wanted to punch me in the face. Continue Reading »

Yard sign theft is not an exclusively Republican character flaw.  In other parts of the country, McCain partisans suffer vandalism as suppression of their right to speak freely, as do Obama loyalists.   Here in Aggieland, however, we Obama voters seem to be exclusively on the receiving end of this malicious mischief.

So, how do you fight back?  I recommend a trip to the auto parts store followed by an excursion to the pharmacy.  At O’Reilly’s (not related to Bill-O), I picked up a can of white axle grease, and at Walgreens a small jar of petroleum jelly did the trick.  The grease goes on the edges and on the wire frame, the clear Vaseline on the face of the sign.

Now, when my friendly neighborhood perpetrator gets a handful of yard sign, he’ll also benefit from a lube job as slippery as his character.

The following text of my unpublished letter to the editor of the Bryan-College Station Eagle says it all:

Since the last presidential election cycle, I have been reading about the vaunted Republican micro-targeting effort aimed at identifying and turning out sympathetic GOP voters.  So, imagine my surprise when an envelope bearing John McCain’s return address appeared in my mailbox, asking me to send money to elect Republicans to congress.

I haven’t voted for a Republican since the late 1990s, and have marked a straight-party Democratic ballot since George W. Bush befouled the White House at the beginning of this decade.

Not to appear unappreciative, however, I filled the provided postage-paid envelope with old, pre-Euro, German, French, and other  foreign coins, plus a few spare screws and fishing sinkers from my toolbox.  The return postage the RNC Victory Committee will have to pay constitutes my contribution to elect Republicans this year.

Now, before you contact the postal inspectors, be assured I didn’t do this.  Although I’d love to have charged the GOP congressional campaign committe with about $10 of return postage, I thought such a stunt might have damaged the machines that process the mail or endangered those who operated them.  I does require a bit of judgment to do what I do for a living, and hopefully that carries over to how I choose to express myself politically.