3

Oh,no! Snow?

Okay, Sunday the temperature was around 70 degrees and sunny. 

Yesterday it was about 52 with clear skies. 

This morning it’s 32 and snowing. 

Only in Texas do you get whiplash weather!

Here are some photos I took around 8:30 this morning.  Click on each photo for an enlarged view.  (If you want to.  Just sayin’.) 

And all you folks in Canada and other more northern climes, y’all don’t go laughing at us because we go bananas over a couple of inches of the white stuff!

Looking out from our front porch toward the road.

The view across the driveway toward the south.

Our Texas flag bench under the trees. Don't think I'll be sitting there right now.

The pool area. Anyone for a dip?

"Honey, would you bring me some ice for my tea?"

Looking across the field to the south.

Out the back door toward the horse shed.

Roady the snow inspector. "What the...?!"

"White Cat in the Snow" or Roady's nemesis, aptly named Nemesis.

At 10:00 it’s still snowing, but the sun is trying to come out.  That’s Texas!

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0

The Human Toll of Misplaced Anger

From the Austin American-Statesman newspaper:

Valerie Hunter had just stepped off the elevator on the first floor of the Northwest Austin building where she and her husband have worked for years.

    

She heard a loud explosion. She felt a violent shake.

Then, according to friends and relatives with whom she has shared the horror of Thursday morning, she bolted toward the nearest exit with co-workers and started searching for her husband, Vernon.

As minutes ticked away, she figured he was still helping others escape. After all, he was a volunteer safety coordinator for his floor.

But after two days of helpless waiting, family members received confirmation Saturday that Hunter, a 68-year-old Internal Revenue Service employee for more than two decades, was dead.

“It still probably hasn’t all set in,” son Ken Hunter of San Antonio said. “It didn’t seem like something that could happen.”

Authorities said Hunter was one of two people killed when a pilot preliminarily identified as Andrew Joseph Stack III flew his single-engine plane into the building, which houses IRS offices. Stack is believed to have died in the inferno.

Before taking off, Stack left behind a lengthy letter blaming the IRS for many of his troubles and saying, “Take my pound of flesh and sleep well.”

“My dad, in that building, he didn’t write the tax laws,” Ken Hunter said. “If he would have talked to my dad, my dad would have helped him.”

In a statement, Hunter’s relatives said their thoughts also are with Stack’s family.

“We are not angry at them because they did not do this,” the statement said. “We forgive Joe for his actions, which took Vern’s ‘pound of flesh’ with him.”

Loved ones shared more stories of Hunter’s life — he was an usher at his church and a fan of Rudy’s barbecue and talked of another career after retirement — on Saturday, a day in which a second injured victim was released from a San Antonio burn unit.

At Hunter’s home in Cedar Park, friends, fellow church members at Austin’s Greater Mount Zion Baptist Church and IRS co-workers tried to comfort his family.

Others from across the nation who knew Hunter and weren’t at the house spoke of him by telephone.

Hunter’s oldest brother, Harold L. Jackson, 79, of Huntsville, Ala., said Hunter grew up in a small South Carolina town.

Hunter was adopted by the Jackson family when he was 2 months old, and although he kept his original name, he was one of five brothers who called themselves “The Other Jackson 5.”

He joined the Army after high school.

Harold Looney, a retired Army chief warrant officer who met Hunter in 1962 when they were students in the military in Augusta, Ga., remembered him as one of the most mild-mannered men in the service. Looney recalled a particular incident during the racially divided 1960s in which Hunter went to a boardinghouse where another soldier was staying to give him a ride.

“The owner came to the door and said he should never, ever come back to that house again,” Looney said. “He was almost in tears after that.”

Family members said Hunter served two tours of duty in Vietnam and will receive full military honors at his funeral in Austin. He will be buried in the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery in Killeen.

Ken Hunter said his father, who had three children, three stepchildren and seven grandchildren, retired in El Paso after more than 20 years in the military. He worked as a substitute teacher before the IRS recruited him.

Ken Hunter said work brought Vernon Hunter to Austin in the mid-1990s.

Friend and fellow church member Larry McDonald said he and his wife met the Hunters several years ago at church and struck up an immediate friendship that included regular trips for barbecue.

“It was a great relationship, a great friendship,”

McDonald said. “They are just good people.”

Ken Hunter said that his father enjoyed working for the government but that he had more frequently talked of retirement — and a possible new career.

They had discussed Vernon Hunter going to school to learn how to help children with learning disabilities like the one a granddaughter has.

“He was so involved in her life,” Ken Hunter said. “He wanted to make sure he could help everybody.”

    Plane crash removal

5

Is This Man Tone Deaf or Just Dumb?

“A day after a suicide bomber struck an IRS building after penning an anti-government manifesto, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty took up the theme of violence against the state — albeit in a metaphorical way. He joked that the most important event going on in America on Friday is Tiger Woods’ impending press conference. “We can learn a lot from that situation. Not from Tiger, but from his wife. So she said, ‘I’ve had enough.’ She said, ‘No more,'” he said. “I think we should take a page out of her playbook and take a nine iron and smash a window out of big government in this country. We’ve had enough.”

Plane crash

I live about 70 miles away from Austin where this terrible act occurred and followed this story over most of the day yesterday.  The man who perpetrated this crime against Americans had posted a long rant on his website where he vented his anger against the government in general and the IRS in particular. 

One of his statements was that he’d “had enough” and violence was the only answer.  How can Tim Pawlenty be such a clueless, tone deaf clod to suggest, merely 24 hours after this tragedy which took the life of one innocent worker and could have taken the lives of many more, that what people should do is “smash the window of big government” because “we’ve had enough”? 

This is a man who aspires to be Commander-in-Chief calling, even in a “joking” manner (isn’t it always that), for violence as the cure for governmental woes.  Only a day after a disturbed and angry man did just that. 

I’m frightened by idiots like him who cavalierly joke about revolt and violence against the very government they say they want to serve.  Don’t they realize there are many, many other nutcases out there who are just teetering on the brink of a mad rage like yesterday’s rampage by Joseph A. Stack? 

Pawlenty and his friends in the Republican party think if they throw enough red meat to the crowds and get people worked up enough, those people will abandon their Tea Party affiliations, have a “come to Jesus moment” and return to the GOP fold.

There are a lot of angry people out there in this country looking for somewhere to release that anger. 

Didn’t Pawlenty learn anything from Oklahoma City?

 Timothy McVeigh would be proud.

1

Shoot Out at the OK Corral

This from the Austin American-Statesman newspaper:

A day after a man fired shots into the air outside the Texas Capitol, a renewed debate over bolstering security at the statehouse gained momentum.

With several lawmakers calling publicly for metal detectors and other beefed-up security measures, Senate and House leaders announced plans for a special working group to study increased security measures.

Even so, Gov. Rick Perry made it clear Friday that he’s not in favor of increased security if it means installing airportlike checkpoints.

“The last thing I want is the Texas Capitol to turn into DFW airport,” he told reporters after accepting a re-election endorsement from the Texas State Rifle Association and the National Rifle Association.

Perry said enough people in Texas have concealed-carry handgun licenses to deter violent criminals. “That keeps us all safer,” he said.              

 

And so Gov. Rick “Goodhair” (Nothing Succeeds Like Secession!) Perry says he doesn’t want the capitol to turn into DFW airport shortly after receiving an endorsement from the NRA.  Hmm……

But wait….there’s more!

About a year ago, John Carona, chairman of the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee, called for increased security after a witness threatened him during a hearing and was escorted from the building.

Carona, R-Dallas, called for metal detectors at all public entrances to the Capitol, more surveillance cameras and more security personnel to be assigned to the seat of state government — which state officials at the time acknowledged was probably one of the few remaining state capitols without security screening devices at every entrance.

Capitols in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana all have metal detectors, officials in those states said. The Texas Capitol has a network of surveillance cameras supplemented with uniformed state troopers posted in all hallways and public areas.

I don’t know.  Am I missing something here?  A guy brings a concealed weapon into the state capitol building, has an altercation with staffers of a representative (a Republican, by the way) and goes outside and fires his gun five times into the air, and Perry worries about making the capitol as safe as an airport?

I was at the capitol last October for my son-in-law’s police academy graduation, and though there were a lot of uniformed troopers around, I doubt if any of them could stop someone from shooting people at random with a gun that was brought into the building—concealed legally or not.  It gives me the heebie jeebies now to think that ordinary folk were packing heat in a governmental building while I was there.  I felt safe with all the armed officers that were around attending the graduation ceremony, but their guns were visible and they are “ordained”, if you will, through much intensive training, to be allowed to carry them in such a venue.  But what would have happened if some nutcase carrying a weapon had decided to open fire?

Now, some of Perry’s own fellow Republican party members are getting goosey about the wisdom of mixing guns and “gubmint.”  Especially when the business end of a pistol is pointing at them.

One even called it “a warning shot—literally.” 

Huh.  Fancy that.

2

“Birthers” and “Deathers”..now “Tenthers”

secede

Well, the Texas Nationalist Movement had themselves a big rally at the steps of the capitol in Austin, boy howdy, and really fanned the flames of the fire that Gov. Goodhair (Rick Perry, to the un-initiated in Texas politics) set ablaze with his talk of secession back in April.

Upwards of 200 wingnuts, er…make that patriots, showed up, by dogies

They’re part of what is known as the “tenthers”. 

Not familiar with this particular brand of insanity? 

This from Ian Millhiser of The American Prospect website:

“These efforts are all part of a movement whose members are convinced that the 10th Amendment of the Constitution prohibits spending programs and regulations disfavored by conservatives. Indeed, while “birther” conspiracy theorists dominate the airwaves with tales of a mystical Kenyan baby smuggled into Hawaii just days after his birth, these “tenther” constitutionalists offer a theory that is no less radical but infinitely more dangerous.

Tentherism, in a nutshell, proclaims that New Deal-era reformers led an unlawful coup against the “True Constitution,” exploiting Depression-born desperation to expand the federal government’s powers beyond recognition. Under the tenther constitution, Barack Obama’s health-care reform is forbidden, as is Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. The federal minimum wage is a crime against state sovereignty; the federal ban on workplace discrimination and whites-only lunch counters is an unlawful encroachment on local businesses.”

This from the Texas Observer:

One speaker at the event, gubernatorial candidate Debra Medina, explained that the people at the rally were aware of the consequences of pushing for secession. “We are aware that stepping off into secession may in fact be a bloody war,” said Medina. “We are aware that the tree of freedom is occasionally watered with the blood of tyrants and patriots.” When some secessionist began arguing with pro-health care reform activists, another speaker, Larry Kilgore, was heard telling them, “Go back to the U.S. where you belong.”

So, let me get this straight.  If Texans do happen to vote to secede from the union, does that mean all the fat-assed people I see at our supermarket will be turning in their Medicare cards and paying for their own healthcare from now on?  And, if there is no Social Security, will Grandma be moving in with the kids because she can’t afford to live on zero income?  Also, will these folks be repaying all of the money they took out of this “unjust” system for years and years?   Just askin’…..

What the new map of the United States of America would look like:

texas

What the new Texas/Oklahoma border fence will look like:

fence_suau_01