May 27, 2009

Don Walser

Even in Texas folk and country music circles, singer and guitarist Don Walser is regarded as unique. The songs Walser specializes in aren't exactly current; he sings classic old Western swing tunes. In a sense, he's a man on a mission: keeping the old Texas country songs alive. Songs like "Cowpoke," "Tumbling Tumbleweeds," and "Mexicali Rose" are signature tunes for Walser, who is also one of the country's premier yodelers. Songs penned and popularized by Bob Wills, the Sons of the Pioneers, Hank Williams, Faron Young, Merle Travis, and Johnny Horton are all part and parcel of what you're likely to hear in the course of a typical Walser show.

a little night music

May 26, 2009

national security and torture

This is Matthew Alexander, senior interrogator in Iraq dissecting former Vice President Dick Cheney's speech on National Security:

Anyone who served in Iraq knows that the foreign fighters did not come to Iraq en masse until after the revelations of torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. I heard this from captured foreign fighters day in and day out when I was supervising interrogations in Iraq... Torture and abuse became Al Qaida's number one recruiting tool and cost us American lives.

Looking for Jesus

Some directions.

May 24, 2009

God shed grace on thee

I salute our brothers and sisters in uniform and will light a special candle tomorrow for those who lost their lives while serving in the armed forces of the United States of America. This is doubtless not different from what most American will be thinking tomorrow. I take a certain pride, as an American veteran, that we recognize those who put themselves at risk for all of us.


And here is Gen. Powell today talking about Guantanamo

in memoriam

Beginnings - Memorial Day

General Orders No.11, WASHINGTON, D.C., May 5, 1868

1. The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, "of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion." What can aid more to assure this result than cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their deaths the tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.

If other eyes grow dull, other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain to us.

Let us, then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring-time; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from hishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon a nation's gratitude, the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan.

2. It is the purpose of the Commander-in-Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to lend its friendly aid in bringing to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.

3. Department commanders will use efforts to make this order effective.

By order of


Adjutant General


More on Memorial Day History

May 22, 2009

Texas roundup

Rick Casey's column from my morning paper: Mayor quits job for gay illegal immigrant he loves
It was, simply put, the most stunning abdication since King Edward VIII in 1936 gave up the British throne for Wallis Simpson, the twice-divorced American socialite.

Only two weeks after being elected to serve his fourth term, Mayor J.W. Lown of San Angelo submitted his resignation letter Tuesday from an undisclosed location in Mexico.

No, being mayor of San Angelo is not exactly the same as being the King of the United Kingdom and Emperor of India, but the reason for Lown’s abdication is the same as Edward’s.
Via Benders Immigration Bulletin: Cornyn jumps the shark
"[W]hile the President and Senator Schumer look to the future, the panel's ranking member, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), was caught facing squarely in the other direction. Cornyn called talk show host, defeated Congressman, and notorious blowhard J.D. Hayworth to testify as an expert on the border." Frank Sharry, May 21, 2009.
Via University of Texas Press: Blockading the Border and Human Rights: The El Paso Operation that Remade Immigration Enforcement
"How on earth did the United States end up deploying tens of thousands of armed personnel to defend a border with a friendly nation that poses no conceivable military threat and which is, in fact, a close ally and trading partner? In this fascinating case study, Timothy Dunn shows that it all began in 1992 with a successful lawsuit that Mexican Americans brought against the Border Patrol to end discriminatory enforcement practices in El Paso, Texas. The unintended consequence was a new enforcement strategy that ultimately became the model for the entire border, transforming what had been a local violation of civil rights into an massive infringement of international human rights. Dunn's brilliant analysis is essential to understanding the origins of a flawed border policy that went on to turn a relatively small, circular flow of seasonal workers going to three states into a huge population of settled families living in fifty states—all at a cost of more than 4,000 lives and billions of taxpayer dollars. This book should be required reading for policy makers and the public alike."

—Douglas S. Massey, Henry G. Bryant Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs, Princeton University; president of the American Academy of Political and Social Science and past president of the American Sociological Association; lead author of Beyond Smoke and Mirrors: Mexican Immigration in an Era of Economic Integration

speech ignored some inconvenient truths

From a story by Jonathan S. Landay and Warren P. Strobel for McClatchy Newspapers online edition:

WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Dick Cheney's defense Thursday of the Bush administration's policies for interrogating suspected terrorists contained omissions, exaggerations and misstatements.

In his address to the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative policy organization in Washington, Cheney said that the techniques the Bush administration approved, including waterboarding — simulated drowning that's considered a form of torture — forced nakedness and sleep deprivation, were "legal" and produced information that "prevented the violent death of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of innocent people."

He quoted the Director of National Intelligence, Adm. Dennis Blair, as saying that the information gave U.S. officials a "deeper understanding of the al Qaida organization that was attacking this country."

In a statement April 21, however, Blair said the information "was valuable in some instances" but that "there is no way of knowing whether the same information could have been obtained through other means. The bottom line is that these techniques hurt our image around the world, the damage they have done to our interests far outweighed whatever benefit they gave us and they are not essential to our national security."

There is more.

May 21, 2009

excellent speech

President Obama's speech this morning was forward-looking, laying out the issues and how he seeks to deal with them.


May 19, 2009


New Driver’s License Rules for Non-Citizens:

Irresponsible and Reckless

What are the new driver’s license rules?

Recently the Public Safety Commission passed a new rule about the issuance of driver’s licenses and identification cards for non-citizens, which went into effect on October 1, 2008. Rule 15.171 puts forth the following provisions:


Individuals with visas that are valid for more than 6 months but less than the term of a driver’s license (6 years) will receive driver’s licenses that expire on the same date as the visa;

Individuals with visas that are valid for less than 6 months will not be issued a driver’s license; and

Individuals with indefinite visas (such as applicants for political asylum or refugees) will receive driver’s licenses that are valid for one year.

Non-citizens are now issued vertically oriented licenses that say “Temporary Visitor” in red block letters, and state both the license and visa expiration dates. This change was not enacted in the Administrative Code, but in a directive to employees.

Flawed implementation indicates that DPS does not have the capacity to carry out the requirements of this new rule.


Even though the new rule states that it does not apply to citizens or Legally Permanent Residents (LPR), both citizen and LPR alike have been required to prove their status in order to renew their driver’s licenses. In fact, recently a lawful permanent resident was issued a vertically-oriented driver’s license.
It is clear that the new rule is being applied inconsistently and creating new burdens where none previously existed.

This new rule places driver’s license division employees in the role of immigration agents. The field of immigration law is complex, and many visa-holders are able to frequently renew visas and adjust their immigration status. Expecting driver’s license division employees to make sense of these complicated documents will result in complaints, confusion and ultimately unintended errors

The new rule creates barriers to obtaining licenses and identification with no public safety benefit. Creating more obstacles to obtaining a driver’s license increases the chance that people will drive without a license. More unlicensed drivers mean more uninsured drivers, which have negative public safety and financial consequences for all Texans. Furthermore, identification documents are the first tool for law enforcement to track suspects, yet the rules result in pushing many people further into the shadows.

It is appropriate to be concerned about the integrity of driver’s licenses and identification documents in Texas. However, public safety concerns will be best addressed by rescinding the rule.

May 13, 2009

truth. social security. medicare: Alarm Bells

Below is the last paragraph from a posting on TPM by Robert Reich.

You should read the entire post:
Don't be confused by these alarms from the Social Security and Medicare trustees. Social Security is a tiny problem. Medicare is a terrible one, but the problem is not really Medicare; it's quickly rising health-care costs. Look more closely and the real problem isn't even health-care costs; it's a system that pushes up costs by rewarding inefficiency, causing unbelievable waste, pushing over-medication, providing inadequate prevention, over-using emergency rooms because many uninsured people can't afford regular doctor checkups, and spending billions on advertising and marketing seeking to enroll healthy people and avoid sick ones.

May 11, 2009

due process

ICE Attorney Calls Due Process for U.S. Citizens "Idiotic"

"The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) owes another apology to a probable U.S. citizen, Julia Cerna, 42, whose due process rights and physical security ICE Assistant Chief Counsel Tracy Hamby jeopardized Wednesday, May 6, 2009 in a Houston immigration court."
Jacqueline Stevens, May 8, 2009.

May 05, 2009

intending harm or not

As reported in the New York Times, SCOTUS bars the use of the identity-theft law as a prosecutorial tool in Immigration Cases:
The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a favorite tool of prosecutors in immigration cases, ruling unanimously that a federal identity-theft law may not be used against many illegal workers who used false Social Security numbers to get jobs.

The question in the case was whether workers who use fake identification numbers to commit some other crimes must know they belong to a real person to be subject to a two-year sentence extension for “aggravated identity theft.”

The answer, the Supreme Court said, is yes.

Prosecutors had used the threat of that punishment to persuade illegal workers to plead guilty to lesser charges of document fraud.

“The court’s ruling preserves basic ideals of fairness for some of our society’s most vulnerable workers,” said Chuck Roth, litigation director at the National Immigrant Justice Center in Chicago. “An immigrant who uses a false Social Security number to get a job doesn’t intend to harm anyone, and it makes no sense to spend our tax dollars to imprison them for two years.”