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  • A sign of things that are coming

    tony farkasFILE PPHOTO Tony Farkas

    By Tony Farkas

    I ran across a story last week, and I got chills.

    It was run by a Houston television news outlet, so props to them. Full disclosure, though: I am trying to nail down a story myself.

    I feel that this event is significant enough, though, that I can mention it here, because I do have verification that it happened.

    Also full disclosure: I believe I’ve mentioned these things will happen. I just thought it would take a little longer, and have the weight of government meddling behind it.

    Seems that in early May, during a hearing involving a divorce case and child custody arrangements, District Judge Travis Kitchens ordered the parents to get COVID vaccinations in order to complete visitation.

    (This information was taken from the Divorce Docket filed in District Court in Trinity County.)

    According to the news story, the judge told the respondent in the case, the father, that he would not be allowed to see his children if he did not comply with the order.

    I’m pretty gobsmacked at that development, for any variety of reasons, but most notably is how a sitting, elected judge, sworn to uphold laws, asserted a non-existent authority and removed a man’s ability to not only visit his children, but make his own medical decision regarding this shot.

    Say what you will about it, the vaccinations are untested, not in the normal manner, and have been shown to occasionally have some pretty stringent side effects.

    And while there can be a long, arduous and even dangerous argument to be made that it should not be up to the courts to decide how to handle the end of a relationship (or even require a license to marry, for that matter), the issue here is demand that a private citizen submit to a medical procedure.

    All the while dangling the “carrot” of child visitation in front of him (and her), with the “stick,” backed by the force of law, of losing visitation privileges.

    Leaving aside the sketchy nature of the vaccine itself, the judge does not have the required medical background to make such decisions. That’s pure danger right there.

    The judge does, however, have legal training, and should understand that it’s completely against any and all rights, laws and even common sense for courts to start meddling in these areas. It’s frankly unconscionable.

    We citizens have civil rights. These rights, especially those enshrined in the Bill of Rights, are inviolate. If it comes down to the state, through legislators or court officials, making these decisions, then we as a society are completely doomed. Moreover, we as a species will be doomed.

    Will judges start ordering lobotomies for defendants who have been found unable to be tried because of mental incompetence, or by reason of insanity?

    Will people be ordered to abort unborn children, or conversely, ordered to have children, for whatever whim a judge has?

    Will people who have been diagnosed similarly, such as, oh, say, leprosy? It’s happened before, in Hawaii, and the government has a history of segregating people without benefit of trial, such as the Japanese internment camps.

    There are ample what ifs to throw out here, but that would be overkill. Suffice it to say that any medical decision cannot be made by anyone other than the interested party. Any lawmaker that proposes things like that (such as the current rage of vaccination passports), or any judge that orders procedures that are none of his business, they need to be voted out of office, or even recalled if egregious enough.

    The only other option, one that is unacceptable, is to give up all freedoms.

    Tony Farkas is editor of the San Jacinto News-Times. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  • Closing the barn door behind the eight ball

    tony farkasFILE PHOTO Tony Farkas

    By Tony Farkas

    Gov. Greg Abbott last week issued the mandate to end all mandates by mandating that no government entity can mandate the use of masks.

    Better late than never, I guess.

    For the liberty-minded among us, this is something that has all the earmarks of government — at least at the state level — is headed in the right direction. It’s really nice to see that at least one politician understands that it is not them what holds the ultimate power over our lives, but us people do.

    The issue for those that cherish liberty and individual freedom, though, is that it’s comes only after the fact.

    The government did not hesitate in the least to issue the mask/social distancing/stay home-stay safe mandates the minute some unelected government flunky suggested it. (This is the same government flunky that been not only caught not wearing a mask, but has been shown to have opinions about the efficacy of mask use that are as varied as there are grains of sand on the Gulf.)

    At one point, everyone was following the bizarre and ever-changing guidance of the Center for Disease Control, spurred on by the governments Czar of All Things COVID Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to President Biden and director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. (Note: still not elected.)

    One mask, two mask, Pfizer shot, J&J not, everybody do the pandemic conga.

    Because the hysteria even gripped Texas, Abbott followed suit. This is not to say that the pandemic should have been taken lightly; this is to say that there really wasn’t any authority for the action, not to mention no real evidence proving it would (or did) make a difference.

    Because of those actions, he has drawn the attention of people who believe the mandates were short-sighted, and have now announced their attention to run for governor against him — even as conservatives.

    It would be easy to believe, then, that the governor’s actions were self-serving, an act of preservation of a legacy, and a chance at re-election. While that may be the case, it also misses a critical point, in that the federal government doesn’t exhibit any inclination to honor states’ rights.

    See, Unca Joe loves us, and will always lock us up and throw away the key to show that love, and will do so with a smile because he, after 40-plus years in government crafting things toward that end, the government is becoming the be-all, end-all for everything.

    So the next time there’s a pandemic, guess what happens? The feds will clamp down, and force — passive-aggressively — states to comply by threatening federal funding for things like health care or hospitals or emergency services. Because as was pointed out so eloquently in “The Wizard of Id” so many years ago, they operate by the Golden Rule: “Whoever has the gold makes the rules.”

    I do, I really do appreciate the governor’s gesture. However, the cynical elf that lives in my brain is laughing hysterically because he knows nothing will change with things as they are. Texas will always be independent, but it’s the feds that have usurped all power, because — everyone say it with me now — we let it happen.

    Becoming comfortable with being taken care of, combined with nurturing propaganda and vilification of any opposition, has been going on so long it’s become ingrained in us that rebelling against tyrannical actions has become unthinkable.

    In order for the governor’s actions to become something more than a token gesture, it needs to be the first domino in a chain that will ultimately right the American ship, putting it back on course. Individual liberties are paramount, and we’re not subject to the whim of people who “know what’s best for us” and the diktats that inevitably, inexorably follow.

    Tony Farkas is editor of the San Jacinto News-Times. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  • Opinion - It was the insanest of times, or something

    tony farkasTony Farkas file photo

    Having been through quite a lot of elections in my decades of newspaper work, I have to say that this year’s was without a doubt the strangest.

    Only one other time that I can recall has an election been held where a winner wasn’t immediately known was the 2000 election between George W. Bush and Al Gore. You know, the one that ended a month later after a series of lawsuits.

    (If you don’t recall, look up “hanging chads” on the interweb.)

    So here we are 20 years later, and it was, as Aerosmith sez, “same old story, same old song and dance, my friend.”

    For purposes of this column, though, I’m not about the winner. I’m talking about the process, and what seems to be the new same old story.

    If you noticed anything about the election this year, you noticed that there was very little substance provided by the candidates — for every race. There was no discussion about plans, no debate about the future, not one idea or way of thinking was put forth to give us an indication of what the future would hold.

    My sister-in-law, who is liberal as the day is long, and myself, who really really is not, agree on this, which is rare as hens’ teeth.

    I see it like this: Politics nowadays is like NFL teams, with the presidential election being like the Super Bowl. However, it’s become about the teams deciding who should be the quarterback, talking about stats and the big game from years ago.

    What’s missing from this show is a game plan and, well, the actual gameplay. It’s just the two teams hollering at each other and their own teams, completely caught up in their own world.

    The other thing that’s missing from this equation is the fans. Or, in the world of politics, the people.

    These two bantamweights were arguing about who did what when, how they could have done it better, pointing out scandals and missed opportunities, and generally being disagreeable for months. There was nothing about things that need to matter — like actually playing and winning the game.

    I didn’t hear how either of the candidates would fix the nation’s problems that they’re actually supposed to care about. They’re supposed to do things about the pesky $20 trillion debt that’s handing over the heads of the taxpayers for centuries. They’re supposed to care about trillion-dollar deficits, about the borders, about, well, the people they’re pretending to represent.

    Us fans, or constituents, if you will, are mostly if not all to blame for this, because we let this happen. The difference here, though, is that if we were only NFL fans, we can leave the stadium and never come back, never buy another ticket or a piece of swag.

    With this country, though, it really doesn’t matter who is the winner; both teams will have their hands in our pockets and take more and more, all the while telling us it’s our patriotic duty to fund every scheme and plan that will just make our lives rosy and unicorns and puppies. It’s government that being done to us, not of, by or for us.

    See, we’ve become, in the manifest destiny of our country, the cardboard cutouts filling the stands, there only to give the players, our elected representatives, something to provide a sense of why they’re competing.

    We need to be more than that. We need to take back control, since that’s how this country was supposed to work. It’s gonna be tough, and will take a lot of time — it took decades to get to this point — but I truly believe that we need to be the ones in charge, not the elite few in Washington, D.C.

    We’re near a tipping point, and if we get a government that controls — not just regulates — all the aspects of our lives, it will mean the end of the American dream, in my view, since once a government gets power, it never gives it back, and since it has the power to give it to you, it has the power to take it away.

    I hope this election, if nothing else, opened a few eyes to the trap we’re about to step in.

    Tony Farkas is editor of the Trinity County News-Standard. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  • Save our Stages, yes; trash brisket, NO

    John Cornyn brisket screen grabSen. John Cornyn’s tweet that’ll live in Texan infamy.

    By Chris Edwards

    I was going to open this with some variation of the old adage about a broken clock, but, nah, it’s a new year and new beginnings and whatnot.

    Reelected Senator John Cornyn’s piece of legislation from last year, the Save Our Stages Act, is already helping many live music and entertainment venues across the country.It’s especially noteworthy in Texas where live music is a giant part of our history, lifestyle and economy and many historic venues and the artists/bands who play them were hit especially hard from the pandemic.

    It’s definitely worthy of a big kudos to Cornyn, who co-wrote the bill with fellow senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) The bill gathered an armada of co-sponsors before its passage and is a good example of bipartisan collaboration in this ridiculously divided time.

    But there is another recent development with Cornyn that must be addressed and is certainly not representative of this great state. You see, folks, the senator posted a photograph to social media on Christmas Eve that might just rank among the most un-Texan of things that many people will ever see.
    It was heinous and it was disgusting. The photo featured a Pyrex casserole dish full of what looked like either raw pork ribs covered in ketchup, or maybe meatloaf under a blanket of something red.

    The accompanying text proclaimed it to be a “brisket family tradition.” The next day, he tweeted that the brisket was the best that he’d ever had and cited his wife for the recipe, which, get this: has a cook time of three hours in the OVEN.

    Now before you jump to conclusions and start in with assumptions like “that mean old Chris Edwards is just a barbecue snob,” one thing Cornyn did not do is use the sacred and holy name of Barbecue in vain.

    I know, also, that there are more ways to cook a brisket than bathing it for hours and hours in post oak smoke in an offset smoker, but here’s the rub: John Cornyn is a representative of Texas, which is not just the greatest state in the union but has the greatest barbecue in the world and smoking long and slow with woodsmoke is the only way to cook brisket around here.

    The art of barbecue was perfected in the Lone Star State. Credit it to the influx of German, Czechs and Hispanics, all of whom contributed to the greatest culinary artform the world has ever seen and will ever know. Texans do barbecue the right way (like everything else we set out to do) and Texas barbecue will set anyone’s life on the correct path. The crème de la crème of this artform is smoked brisket.

    No less an authority than the great Guy Clark, who was a true representative of this great state, made mention of barbecue first in his classic song “Texas Cookin’,” which celebrates all of the great delicacies one can find between the Red and Rio Grande.

    Nevertheless, Cornyn was just elected to a fourth term to represent Texas in Congress’s upper chamber, and his Lone Star bona-fides are such: he was born in Houston and grew up in San Antonio. The emphasis, with regard to brisket knowledge, should be placed on that latter aspect. As part of the central Texas region, San Antone is home to some of the world’s greatest brisket, and unless he grew up under a rock, there’s no way he couldn’t have tasted great brisket.

    So, here’s an offer to Sen. Cornyn: I will gladly give you a demonstration on how to prepare and cook a brisket the proper and true Texas way if you will offer your much-needed support to another important cause: Rep. Brian Babin’s H.R. 759, which would help our neighbors, the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe and, ultimately, the regional economy here in East Texas.

    If Dr. Babin’s bill gets through the Senate (it already gathered a huge swell of bipartisan support in the other chamber and passed) it would put the AC tribe on equal footing with other tribes across this great land.

    Save our Stages is a great thing to help out entertainment venues all over the country, so why not help out with a big entertainment option here in Texas? I get that gambling isn’t everyone’s bag, but everything is a gamble when it comes down to it, right?

  • The liberal agenda has nothing to do with liberty

    tony farkasFILE PHOTO Tony Farkas

    By Tony Farkas

    I remember with pride the first time I was able to vote.

    Like most first-timers, I was pretty scared going into the booth, as back then, it was the old-timey lever models that looked like a mad scientist’s workstation. (Although it wasn’t too awful long before they were replaced by fill-in-the-blank style cards.)

    It wasn’t so much that I was powerful, but that I was actually participating in a process that truly made our country unique. I wasn’t too naïve to believe that my one vote made all that much difference, but I did believe that mine, along with a whole lot of others, sent a message to our officials.

    There actually wasn’t any resemblance to “Swing Vote,” a silly little movie starring Kevin Costner. (I’m fond of this movie it because it was set in a town that was 8 miles from where I lived — Texico, N.M.)

    In that movie, the future of the presidency came down to one vote needing to be recast, and the hilarity that ensues when the press, the candidates and the world turns its attention to this sleepy little border town.

    While dumb in the extreme, and incredibly implausible, it did serve to highlight the importance of voting.

    Our republic was founded on a principle: of the people, by the people, for the people. We get that from the ballots we cast. Somewhere along the way, though, our officials, particularly at the federal level (as well as plenty of states), have determined that we are governed by consent, not ruled by edict, fiat, or executive order.

    That’s what the vote protects, and serves, and now, it’s coming under fire — wrapped up in the guise of making elections safe and fair and wholesome and puppies and such.

    H.R. 1, which has been passed by the House and is being considered in the Senate, and is monumentally misnamed the For the People Act, is supposed to correct voting irregularities and make things uniform across the country.

    Instead, it will for all intents and purposes give the federal government control of what is enshrined in the constitution as something that belongs to the states. This is accomplished by oversight committees, and require states to comply with regulations designed to allow more people to vote.

    Certain things, like not requiring signatures, same-day voter registration, internet registration, curbside voting, and other ridiculous ideas will be required. Given the federal government’s history, once it gets its claws into something, it never lets it go. Ever.

    And since the government thinks that it is entitled to all the money, it also thinks that money is a club, and so states will lose funding for things because the government will hold up payments unless its edicts are followed.

    This has happened with just about everything; the one that sticks out in my mind is during the Clinton administration. States had to adopt a .08 BAC presumption of intoxication or risk losing highway construction funds.

    These are our rights , and this is our money, and our government threatens them regularly and with gusto, and it is done under the guise of doing what’s right (or, if you prefer, what’s best for us).

    Whether there was any immediate and glaring proof of election fraud or inequality, there was enough credible, albeit anecdotal, evidence that a full-scale investigation should have been done. Only now is one of many states reporting irregularities conducting an audit — Arizona — which is facing stiff opposition by the feds to leave things be.

    By extension, if that turns out to be the case, then it is imperative that signatures and ID be required during elections, since, as Scotty says, the more they overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain (meaning, technology is easy to tamper with.)

    The upshot is, the government needs to follow, not lead, and not try to rig the game in its favor, and there’s only one way to correct the ship.

    Vote.

    Tony Farkas is editor of the Trinity County News-Standard. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  • The strength of a debate reflected in a man

    tony farkasTony Farkas file photo

    By Tony Farkas

    I’m sure it would be real easy to assume that I’m all about President Donald Trump, given that I’m extremely conservative in my views on all things political.

    Hey, I like the guy, because his approach to politics is akin to a bull in a china shop, and I’ve felt for years that Washington needs shaking up. What I don’t do is necessarily agree with everything he does unremarked, because nobody’s perfect.

    A lot of people during the president’s term also have disagreed with the president and his policies — some in a very ugly manner.

    Every one of us has had that time on the schoolyard when we’ve had a shoving match — tempers flare, words exchange, sides get drawn, then nothing really happens. The level of debate in the country, particularly in the political realm, is now exactly the same way, and it’s because of Trump, and the people who disagree with him.

    That’s pretty doggone sad, because now we don’t care about the future of the country; we care only about winning, and damn the consequences.

    First and foremost, anyone willing to put themselves on the line to serve, whether it’s a local board like the schools or city council, or the president of the United States, deserves respect. Secondly, the office deserves respect, no matter who’s in it. Lastly, how you feel about a person does not and should not come into discussions about policy, especially at the national level.

    Yet, this country has seen its leaders devolve into schoolyard shoving matches over things that are frankly ridiculous, and is covered up with hyperbole the likes of which no one has ever seen. Supporters on both sides tend to speak in supportive cliff notes without the benefit of information, and nothing of note is getting done.

    The latest fr’instance is the confirmation of newly minted Associate Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who will singlehandedly end abortion, health insurance and freedom of speech while setting a horrible rotten example to women everywhere by being a woman of faith, a mother, and wife, and a caring person who adopts children from Third World countries.

    Passion is OK, especially in running a country, and differing opinions are even OKer. What’s not OK is either/or beliefs, particularly when it then devolves into name-calling, accusations, false witness, manufactured crises, or even riots, as we’re seeing across the country.

    Also, some of the things we’re arguing about don’t have anything really to do with the shape of the country, like whether or not Trump will vacate the Oval Office. Let’s talk about real issues, like that pesky $20 trillion debt, or the peskier trillion-dollar deficit, or the peskierer impending doom of Social Security, and on and on. And let’s do it right and seek real solutions, not just point fingers and whinge.

    Debate is key here, and there are solutions. But, as my favorite writer was fond of saying, “No one is entitled to their own opinion. They’re entitled to their own informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.”

    No amount of screaming will solve problems. Only people willing to work and looking for real solutions will make a difference. If it takes someone with a bull-in-a-china-shop attitude to make that happen, so be it.

    Yeah, he’s not part of the club that’s been in charge of the playground for so long, but he should be allowed to play, too.

    Tony Farkas is editor of the Trinity County News-Standard. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..