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Ashby helps secure $3.7 million for rural law enforcement offices

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LawEnforcement STOCK

From Enterprise Staff

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced this week that his office received more than 500 applications for financial assistance from rural law enforcement offices requesting nearly $125 million for salary assistance using funds made available through the enactment of Senate Bill 22 during the 88th Legislative Session.

“I am immensely pleased to report that every county in House District 9 will receive funding from this new rural law enforcement fund,” State Representative Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin) said. “In total, $3.7 million will be distributed among our six county sheriff’s offices, as well as some county and district attorney offices.

“As I traveled across the district and met with county officials before session, it was made abundantly clear to me that more needed to be done to help our rural law enforcement offices recruit and retain qualified officers and purchase much-needed equipment. Senate Bill 22 was designed to prioritize rural Texas by allocating state funds to support salary increases for law enforcement offices in rural counties, allowing them to compete with larger cities for qualified officers and enhance operations through critical investments in additional patrol cars or safety equipment,” Ashby said. “I was proud to have worked intently on Senate Bill 22, serving on the House Conference Committee to negotiate the final version of the bill, and ensure this legislation reached Governor Abbott’s desk for his signature.”

Trent Ashby is in his sixth term as a member of the Texas House of Representatives. He is the Chair of the House Committee on Culture, Recreation & Tourism and serves on the House Committee on Transportation. He currently represents a six-county region that includes: Angelina, Houston, Polk, San Augustine, Trinity and Tyler Counties.

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The sad future of AM radio

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Tom Purcell HeadBy Tom Purcell

You had a great 100-year run, AM radio, and your demise is breaking my heart.

According to the Wall Street Journal, carmakers such as Tesla, Volvo and BMW are no longer providing AM radios in their new vehicles.

Why? In part, because of the emergence of electric vehicles.

As the WSJ explains, quoting the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a car-industry trade group, the onboard electronics on EVs “create interference with AM radio signals — a phenomenon that ‘makes the already fuzzy analog AM radio frequency basically unlistenable.’ ”

EV makers can apply shielding cables and other components to make AM radios work, but, says the Alliance, that would cost $3.8 billion over seven years — which is why some companies are simply doing away with AM radio.

It’s regrettably true that the economic and cultural heyday of AM radio is well behind us.

America’s very first radio broadcast took place on KDKA Radio in Pittsburgh on Nov. 2, 1920, reports CBS News.

From the ‘30s through the ‘50s, KDKA-AM broadcast news, jazz, big-band music and Pirates baseball games.

In 1954 its in-house genius Rege Cordic created one of America’s first “morning teams.” Cordic & Company brought us several memorable characters and comedy sketches that helped KDKA capture a massive 85% of Pittsburgh’s listening audience.

In the 1970s I remember waking every day before school and listening to Jack Bogut’s wonderful KDKA morning broadcast.

I loved his show so much, my best friend Ayresie and I skipped school one December day in 1979 to watch him broadcast from a department-store window downtown — as he did every Christmas as he raised funds for the local Children’s Hospital.

Now, thanks to the emergence of streaming broadcasts, satellite radio and other options, both AM and FM radio listenership have declined fast.

According to Nielsen, reports the WSJ, America’s 4,500 AM radio stations reached 107 million people every month in the spring of 2016 — but only 78 million people per month in 2023.

Due to the waning listenership and the cost of installing functioning AM radios in cars, then, more carmakers are opting to ditch AM radios altogether.

But not so fast, say AM-radio advocates.

For starters, conservative talk shows — a staple of AM programming since the rise of Rush Limbaugh in the early 1980s — have a lot to lose if AM radio goes away.

More than 600 AM radio stations broadcast in non-English languages — making them invaluable sources of information to people for whom English is not a first language.

And federal emergency officials are lobbying Congress to create laws that prevent carmakers from dropping AM radios from new vehicles because they say AM is still an important medium to convey emergency alerts and information.

The AM radio issue — one of few on Capitol Hill that has strong bipartisan support — is not without irony.

Free-market conservatives generally argue that companies should be free to make their own choices about how they make their products.

In this case, however, conservative lawmakers are pushing for a law that will force carmakers to install AM radios, regardless of the increased cost to consumers.

The fight over AM radio is the kind of battle that always takes place in government when new technology overtakes 100-year-old technology.

Though the eventual death of AM radio can’t be reversed, it does make me sad.

Children today will never know the incredible joy we experienced, as we sat by our radios on snowy Pittsburgh mornings, when KDKA announced that our school was canceled for the day!

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School voucher opponents unpopular with GOP primary voters, poll finds

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By Ikram Mohamen
Texas Tribune

A new poll indicates that more than half of Texas GOP primary voters are displeased with members of the state House who voted against school vouchers last year.

Sixty percent of Texas Republican primary voters told pollsters that they’d be less likely to vote this March for a state House member who opposed vouchers in 2023’s marathon of legislative sessions. Meanwhile, just 16% they’d be less likely to support incumbents who voted for vouchers.

The survey, released Tuesday by the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston, indicates that the ongoing debate over “school choice” is weighing heavily on GOP primary voters’ minds.

Gov. Greg Abbott made creating a way for parents to use state dollars to pay for private school tuition or home-schooling expenses his top legislative priority in 2023. But various proposals were rejected by the House after a coalition of mostly rural Republicans banded together with Democrats to block the proposal.

Abbott and his allies on the issue said the idea was a matter of parental rights, one that would allow them to pull their kids out of schools they felt were failing or promoting a “woke” agenda. Opponents of vouchers said they would strip already-underfunded public schools of much-needed cash.

After attempts to push through a voucher plan repeatedly failed last year, Abbott set his sights on the 2024 elections and endorsed primary opponents of many of the “no” votes on vouchers. The Hobby School poll suggested that Abbott has the potential to be influential this March: 64% of GOP primary voters said, all other things equal, they’d be more likely to vote for a candidate endorsed by Abbott. That was the second highest number among politicians polls, behind only Donald Trump at 70%.

Meanwhile, the leader of the Texas House, Speaker Dade Phelan, ranked the lowest among political figures endorsement net effect. Only 9% of voters said they’d be more likely to vote for someone who had his endorsement, compared to 23% saying they’d be less likely. Sixty-eight percent said his endorsement would have no effect.

Some Republicans, including Trump and Attorney General Ken Paxton, are pushing for Phelan to be voted out. Phelan and his allies are targets of the GOP’s hard right because of the failure of vouchers, but also because Phelan presided over the impeachment of Paxton on allegations of corruption.

Forty-six percent of primary voters said they’d be less likely to vote for an incumbent House representative who cast a vote in favor of Paxton’s impeachment. Twenty-three percent of GOP primary voters said they’d be more likely to support an incumbent who voted to impeach. The survey also mentioned the public policies supported among GOP primary voters.

The poll was conducted via an online survey of 1,500 respondents from Jan. 11 to Jan. 24. The confidence interval was plus or minus 2.5%.

Amid ongoing disputes between Texas and the federal government over border security measures, including the deployment of concertina wire and construction of barriers along the border, public opinion in Texas remains significantly in favor of aggressive border security measures. An overwhelming 87% of primary voters support spending $3 billion annually on border security, while 89% support empowering Texas law enforcement to arrest undocumented immigrants.

A majority of Republican primary voters also support other various policies including the current Texas ban on abortions unless the mother’s life is at risk (64%) and legislation requiring Texans to be at least 21 to purchase an AR-15 style assault rifle (68%).

The poll was conducted via an online survey of 1,500 respondents from Jan. 11 to Jan. 24. The confidence interval was plus or minus 2.5%.

 

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Swift-ly sailing into extreme absurdity

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Op Ed Cartoon for Swift Column 2 8

Chris Edwards editorial thumbBy Chris Edwards
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Pop culture figureheads are by no means strangers to bizarre, and sometimes funny, rumors circulating around the populace. Think of the old days when tabloids in the supermarket typically given to cover stories about Bat-Boy would report on whatever strange thing Michael Jackson was supposedly up to. In the early days of the internet’s pervasiveness, a rumor spread about Marilyn Manson having a couple of ribs removed in order to, well, I’m sure you can imagine, if you don’t remember or are too young. If you can’t imagine that bizarre scenario, then, congratulations for being pure as the driven snow, but I digress.

Nowadays with social media spawning and dominating so much of the universal conversation, Taylor Swift is the it girl for proclamations as crazy as Bat Boy’s guano.

Before I endeavor further along this trek, I must confess ignorance of Ms. Swift and, by and large, her music. I’m not really her target demographic, and aside from that bit of eponymously titled juvenilia about Tim McGraw, the only real exposure I have to her music is through a song-by-song covers album that Ryan Adams recorded of her 1989 album.

From that record as evidence, I must admit she has some serious songwriting chops, and that’s further underscored by the fact that Adams, one of the best songwriters of his generation, opted to cover a whole album’s worth of her material.

Again, I’m no “Swiftie,” but there is no denying the woman’s talent, charisma and drive. Now, let’s get to these profoundly strange and utterly stupid conspiracy theories circling around her existence.

Swift has not been immune to out-there theories since her meteoric rise to household name status. More than a decade ago, a bizarre conspiracy theory surfaced that hinged on her resemblance to a woman named Zeena Schreck, the daughter of infamous huckster and Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey. Schreck served as “High Priestess” of the so-called church, and this discovery of resemblance between she and Swift led to a theory that Swift was the reincarnation of Shreck, but there was one problem: Schreck is still alive.

Still, that theory, as ridiculous as it was, led to all sorts of folderol about the pop star having made a Faustian bargain and/or her influence on young girls as a witchcraft practitioner. The most recent blitz of bizarre seems to be a by-product, or at least has coincided, with her relationship with Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce.

Swift, who has been seen at Chiefs games supporting Kelce and the Chiefs from skybox seats and enjoying the games, has fueled several strange fresh theories, one of which is centered on the idea that the coming Chiefs vs. 49ers Super Bowl game is rigged to ensure that Kelce and his teammates win, so as to allow Swift a platform to announce an endorsement for President Biden’s re-election bid.

Anyone who has seen a Chiefs game in the past five years can easily call bull malarkey on the game-rigging idea. I’m not even a fan, but they are a team who has found a winning formula and wants the wins bad enough, having made three Super Bowl appearances in those five years. I watched them play the Baltimore Ravens last weekend, which sealed the deal for their appearance at Allegiant Stadium in Vegas this coming Sunday. If sloppy penalties and turnovers aplenty equal “rigged,” then I suppose the argument could be made, but my take is that the Chiefs wanted the victory more than the team from Baltimore.

Instead, reports such as Fox News host Jesse Watters proclaim Swift to be “an asset”; the result of a “Pentagon psy-op unit.” One-time presidential candidate and colleague to Watters in conspiranoia rantings, Vivek Ramaswamy, wrote of Swift and Kelce as “an artificially culturally propped-up couple,” and fanned the flames of the Super Bowl rigging theory.

What the Swift/Kelce coupling represents to me is a wholesome notion of supporting one’s partner. Swift cheering on her man is the sort of example that young women and young men need to see.

Many of the conspiracy theories that have circulated in the intelligence and positivity-starved social media corners about Swift seem to originate from a demographic known as the incels, or “involuntarily celibate.” These losers are threatened by strong women with platforms, simply put. Their inability to even co-exist with the fairer sex leads them to dealing in misogynistic rhetoric, largely online.

None of these folks bat an eye when Jack Nicholson or Flea are seen courtside at Lakers games, or when Matthew McConaughey turns up on the camera supporting the Longhorns. Funny how that works, eh?

The dearth of any cogent, valid criticism of Swift seems staggering given the number of inflammatory, or downright bizarre, dispatches out there. An article from the Federalist, published last September, states that Swift’s popularity represents a sign of societal decline in America.

Mark Hemingway, who wrote the piece, spends several paragraphs arguing that Swift is actually an amazing artist, and buried within it, the actual criticism is, well, shall we say, half-baked at best.

Hemingway cites a lack of lyrical quality but also claims that Swift has created an entire lyrical trope in popular music: failed romance grievance songs. Hmmmm…now that bucket holds no water whatsoever. Someone run and tell Stevie Nicks about this development, or how about Alanis Morissette.

At the end of the day, Taylor Swift is showing herself to be a positive role model for young people, but also helping fathers to bond with their daughters. If seeing that sort of wholesomeness, along with the public displays of support she gives her partner, bothers someone, that is a special kind of toxicity.

At the end of the day, however, even though I’m not familiar with her music, it’s amusing to watch a whole internet contingency of snowflakes melting all over Swift.

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Swift-ly sailing into extreme absurdity

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Op Ed Cartoon for Swift Column 2 8

Chris Edwards editorial thumbBy Chris Edwards
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Pop culture figureheads are by no means strangers to bizarre, and sometimes funny, rumors circulating around the populace. Think of the old days when tabloids in the supermarket typically given to cover stories about Bat-Boy would report on whatever strange thing Michael Jackson was supposedly up to. In the early days of the internet’s pervasiveness, a rumor spread about Marilyn Manson having a couple of ribs removed in order to, well, I’m sure you can imagine, if you don’t remember or are too young. If you can’t imagine that bizarre scenario, then, congratulations for being pure as the driven snow, but I digress.

Nowadays with social media spawning and dominating so much of the universal conversation, Taylor Swift is the it girl for proclamations as crazy as Bat Boy’s guano.

Before I endeavor further along this trek, I must confess ignorance of Ms. Swift and, by and large, her music. I’m not really her target demographic, and aside from that bit of eponymously titled juvenilia about Tim McGraw, the only real exposure I have to her music is through a song-by-song covers album that Ryan Adams recorded of her 1989 album.

From that record as evidence, I must admit she has some serious songwriting chops, and that’s further underscored by the fact that Adams, one of the best songwriters of his generation, opted to cover a whole album’s worth of her material.

Again, I’m no “Swiftie,” but there is no denying the woman’s talent, charisma and drive. Now, let’s get to these profoundly strange and utterly stupid conspiracy theories circling around her existence.

Swift has not been immune to out-there theories since her meteoric rise to household name status. More than a decade ago, a bizarre conspiracy theory surfaced that hinged on her resemblance to a woman named Zeena Schreck, the daughter of infamous huckster and Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey. Schreck served as “High Priestess” of the so-called church, and this discovery of resemblance between she and Swift led to a theory that Swift was the reincarnation of Shreck, but there was one problem: Schreck is still alive.

Still, that theory, as ridiculous as it was, led to all sorts of folderol about the pop star having made a Faustian bargain and/or her influence on young girls as a witchcraft practitioner. The most recent blitz of bizarre seems to be a by-product, or at least has coincided, with her relationship with Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce.

Swift, who has been seen at Chiefs games supporting Kelce and the Chiefs from skybox seats and enjoying the games, has fueled several strange fresh theories, one of which is centered on the idea that the coming Chiefs vs. 49ers Super Bowl game is rigged to ensure that Kelce and his teammates win, so as to allow Swift a platform to announce an endorsement for President Biden’s re-election bid.

Anyone who has seen a Chiefs game in the past five years can easily call bull malarkey on the game-rigging idea. I’m not even a fan, but they are a team who has found a winning formula and wants the wins bad enough, having made three Super Bowl appearances in those five years. I watched them play the Baltimore Ravens last weekend, which sealed the deal for their appearance at Allegiant Stadium in Vegas this coming Sunday. If sloppy penalties and turnovers aplenty equal “rigged,” then I suppose the argument could be made, but my take is that the Chiefs wanted the victory more than the team from Baltimore.

Instead, reports such as Fox News host Jesse Watters proclaim Swift to be “an asset”; the result of a “Pentagon psy-op unit.” One-time presidential candidate and colleague to Watters in conspiranoia rantings, Vivek Ramaswamy, wrote of Swift and Kelce as “an artificially culturally propped-up couple,” and fanned the flames of the Super Bowl rigging theory.

What the Swift/Kelce coupling represents to me is a wholesome notion of supporting one’s partner. Swift cheering on her man is the sort of example that young women and young men need to see.

Many of the conspiracy theories that have circulated in the intelligence and positivity-starved social media corners about Swift seem to originate from a demographic known as the incels, or “involuntarily celibate.” These losers are threatened by strong women with platforms, simply put. Their inability to even co-exist with the fairer sex leads them to dealing in misogynistic rhetoric, largely online.

None of these folks bat an eye when Jack Nicholson or Flea are seen courtside at Lakers games, or when Matthew McConaughey turns up on the camera supporting the Longhorns. Funny how that works, eh?

The dearth of any cogent, valid criticism of Swift seems staggering given the number of inflammatory, or downright bizarre, dispatches out there. An article from the Federalist, published last September, states that Swift’s popularity represents a sign of societal decline in America.

Mark Hemingway, who wrote the piece, spends several paragraphs arguing that Swift is actually an amazing artist, and buried within it, the actual criticism is, well, shall we say, half-baked at best.

Hemingway cites a lack of lyrical quality but also claims that Swift has created an entire lyrical trope in popular music: failed romance grievance songs. Hmmmm…now that bucket holds no water whatsoever. Someone run and tell Stevie Nicks about this development, or how about Alanis Morissette.

At the end of the day, Taylor Swift is showing herself to be a positive role model for young people, but also helping fathers to bond with their daughters. If seeing that sort of wholesomeness, along with the public displays of support she gives her partner, bothers someone, that is a special kind of toxicity.

At the end of the day, however, even though I’m not familiar with her music, it’s amusing to watch a whole internet contingency of snowflakes melting all over Swift.

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