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Protest without Principle

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Jim Opionin By Jim Powers
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As Canada began the process of breaking up the Truckers Convoy that paralyzed the movement of commerce across the border with the U.S. for days, Sen. Rand Paul, when asked about it in an interview with The Daily Signal, said he was all for trucker convoys protesting Covid 19 mandates in the U.S.

“Civil disobedience is a time-honored tradition in our country, from slavery to civil rights, you name it. Peaceful protest, clog things up, make people think about the mandates.”

Born in 1950, I’m firmly in the often notorious “Boomer” generation. I came of age in the 1960s, the age of Hippies, long hair, “tune in, drop out”, Woodstock, Rock and Roll, and Vietnam.

For those too young to remember the Vietnam war, it kind of resembled the trajectory the U.S. took in Afghanistan. Except that 58,000 young Americans, most who were conscripted into fighting a war they no longer believed in, had died, and 150,000 wounded by the time the U.S. bailed out in a spectacular scene of the last of the Americans there being evacuated by helicopter from the top of a building as the communist North Vietnamese moved in. Those who fought in that war are heroes. Our government that escalated it, not so much.

The war ended because the American people had enough of sending their sons to die in a proxy war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. There was a theory in those days, the Domino theory, that if the communists took over in Vietnam, it would be like a domino falling that would ultimately bring down S.E. Asia and ultimately the U.S.

There were daily protests in the streets of U.S. cities, on college campuses, in D.C. There was violence. And those constant protests escalated to such a fever pitch that it eventually led, in 1968, to President Lyndon Johnson making the announcement that “Accordingly, I shall not seek, and I will not accept the nomination of my party for another term as your president.”

American young men, and American parents had given enough. And their voices finally could not be ignored.

The Vietnam war, which we entered in earnest in 1964, ended in 1975 when we left in defeat.

The power in protest is not the size of the crowd or the words on the signs or the volume of the voices. The power in protest is the righteousness of the cause. 

Stopping the carnage that took 58,000 American lives was a righteous cause. Fighting the fight that Dr. Martin Luther King fought against segregation and racism was a righteous cause. 

How righteous is the cause of trying to overturn a democratically elected President? Or attacking the U.S. Capitol? Or as Rand Paul advocated, using a truck convoy to shut down the economies of U.S. states and cities to protest mandates shutting down the economies of U.S. states and cities (hypocrisy is the word for that)? 

None of those protests could achieve their goals because those ultimately directing them knew they would fail. The real goal was not to advocate for a righteous cause, but, as the Bard said, “sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

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Deep in the Heart of Valentine, Texas

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Some say the town of Valentine was established in late December of 1881 and named after John Valentine, a shareholder of the Southern Pacific Railroad.Some say the town of Valentine was established in late December of 1881 and named after John Valentine, a shareholder of the Southern Pacific Railroad.

By U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas

With heart-shaped decorations popping up across storefronts throughout our state, Valentine’s Day is upon us. While the history and traditions behind this holiday date back many centuries, you won’t find anywhere that honors Valentine’s Day quite like the small West Texas town that shares the same name. 

Nestled between Marfa and Van Horn, the city of Valentine, Texas finds its home in Jeff Davis County. How did it earn the lovely name? Well, there are a few different stories to explain the beloved town’s namesake. It’s been said that on Valentine’s Day, in 1882, the Southern Pacific Railroad crew built a water and fuel depot and named it Valentine. Others say the town of Valentine was established in late December of 1881 and named after John Valentine, a shareholder of the Southern Pacific Railroad.

In 1883, railroad operations were moving full steam ahead in Valentine. Within the next ten years, Valentine reached an estimated population of 100 and established a post office, general store, hotel, meat market, and two saloons. The Valentine railroad depot also provided a roundhouse to service trains, a boarding house for the crew, and a loading pen for cattle being shipped across the nation. From its founding until 1958, Valentine served as an important rail stop for ranchers and passengers alike. 

In the 1950s, trucks became the main method of cattle transportation and combined with the advent of diesel locomotives these two factors had a serious impact on the Valentine railroad depot’s operations. By 1958, the depot terminated its daily passenger service.

In spite of the many changes the town of Valentine has seen, the Post Office, established in 1886, has remained busy – particularly during the month of February. For romantics looking to send their special valentine a little extra love, the Valentine Post Office offers a customized pictorial postmark. This time of year, the Valentine Post Office receives mail from folks around the globe who are looking for this extra stamp of love.

Although some Texans may call Valentine home year-round, this charming town welcomes visitors during the month of February to celebrate. On Feb. 14, the town of Valentine couples with the town of Alpine to host thousands of people from across the country to enjoy live music under the stars on the most romantic night of the year. 

Valentine, Texas has played a role in thousands of couples’ love stories. Even if you’ve never been to Valentine’s or mailed a letter to its post office, you can celebrate your love of Texas no matter where you and your sweetheart spend this Valentine’s Day.

Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, is a member of the Senate Finance, Intelligence, and Judiciary Committees.

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Living the Edward R. Murrow warning

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FromEditorsDesk TonyYou’re probably sure by now I’m a hardcore free speech advocate, even when those speaking are either a) ignorant and repeating half-truths or b) saying something I don’t particularly like or agree with.

Part of that belief, though, is that we have a level playing field, and that regardless of message, it’s at least based in truth.

Truth is, period. It’s not truth that has been washed through the lens of current zeitgeist, or interpreted by “scholars” and pundits and anyone with a Karen complex. It also shouldn’t come with penalties.

Take the latest manufactured uproar regarding Whoopi Goldberg and her comments regarding the Holocaust, in which she downplayed the death of millions into something that was “whites killing whites.” Her comments, while ignorant in the extreme, served to illuminate a few things, in that currently it’s only criminal for people of color to be attacked, that the lives of whites are meaningless.

Dismissing it as white-on-white crime discounts a group of people — Jews, in this case — who long have been considered a race, is a form of racism in and of itself, and that’s the truth, although if you listen to her apologists — every one in the media — and herself, she doesn’t believe that.

The people that populate that side of society would have you believe they’re adamant about the truth, and even like to spout trite sayings like “you’re entitled to your opinion, you are not entitled to your own set of facts,” which was coined by Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

Normally, that is tossed at my side of the fence, and people like Ms. Goldberg get a pass. In this case, the company that broadcasts her show “The View,” on which she made her ludicrous statement, opted to suspend her for two weeks.

This was a paltry attempt at holding her accountable for her words, paltry in that other people not of liberal persuasion have been excoriated for saying less. Gina Carano, who made the dire error of putting out a meme to illustrate the ridiculousness of mask mandates (that alluded to the Holocaust), was fired by Lucasfilms and was dropped by her talent agency.

Others have suffered similar fates, such as Roseanne Barr, fired for making a tasteless joke about Valerie Jarrett.

Double standards in reaction aside, there is a real problem with reacting to what people say with any sort of punishment. When people are cautioned about what they say with phrases like, “Choose your next words carefully” or “you will be held accountable for what you say,” it shows that our country has backpedaled to become exactly what it was prior to the Revolution.

Which is to say that instead of saying, “I don’t agree with what you say, but I will defend your right to say it,” we’ll say “Shut it if you know what’s good for you.”

From there, it’s a short trip to the gulag.

Wouldn’t it have been simpler to explain, using things like facts and truth, to Ms. Goldberg that what she said was not only extremely dismissive as well as factually incorrect? Use a constructive instruction to teach the truth? I realize that not only does that require Ms. Goldberg to be receptive, but it also takes a deft hand to present the information without seeming to be insulting, thin skins being what they are these days.

Look at it this way. You want to teach a child, do you beat it and send it away when the answer is wrong (or not to your liking)? Or do you take the time to instruct, to correct, to give the child the information and the truth, and let it make its own mind up on what it feels?

Build up, or tear down. We all benefit from one, and only an elite class benefits from another. 

Or, as Murrow said, “Good night and good luck.”

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..

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Zombie and the American ‘Troubles’

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Jim Opionin By Jim Powers
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The Republican National Committee last week voted to censure Republicans Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. In that resolution they characterized the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol as “ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse.”

 Between 1968 and 1998 3,700 people were killed and over 30,000 injured during a civil war in Northern Ireland labeled “the Troubles.” While it was not a civil war exactly in the mold of the American Civil War, it featured all the hallmarks of civil wars that have occurred through history. There were constant bombings, street fighting, people were locked up without trial, etc., all characteristics of a civil war. The two sides stubbornly engaged in an unwinnable extended insurgency.

One of the senseless bombings toward the end of “the Troubles” killed two children and was memorialized in the song Zombie by a band called the Cranberries. If you haven’t heard the song, here’s a few verses:

Another head hangs lowly
Child is slowly taken
And the violence, caused such silence
Who are we mistaken?

But you see, it's not me
It's not my family
In your head, in your head, they are fighting
With their tanks, and their bombs
And their bombs, and their guns
In your head, in your head they are crying

In your head, in your head
Zombie, zombie, zombie-ie-ie
What's in your head, in your head
Zombie, zombie, zombie-ie-ie, oh…

After 30 years of war among themselves, most people likely no longer knew what they were fighting for. But the song asks an important question. What’s in the heads of people who would bomb children? After so long, the people engaged in the violence were like Zombies, mindlessly killing and maiming their own countrymen simply because they had done it for so long.

I’ve been a student of history my entire life and have read of more civil wars than I care to remember, and for the first time I see the signs of an impending civil war in our own country. Not a civil war like the first one, where we line up across a large field and shoot at each other, but one very much like the Troubles in Northern Ireland, an extended insurgency, where civil society collapses, and neighbor is pitted against neighbor.

In a real sense, this country has become ungovernable. The population is so diverse that consensus is impossible to achieve. The political left and right are so philosophically apart that no compromise is possible, and this is only going to get worse as the country continues to get more diverse racially, socially, and religiously. 

Changes in our society are inevitable, yet there have been those in many failed societies over time that have attempted to halt or reverse that change by force, as happened in our own civil war in 1861.

I wish I could say that things will be different this time, that by some miracle we will all gather around a campfire, sing Kumbaya, and everything will work out for the best. But I’m not very good at self-delusion. 

If we don’t get out of our own heads, escape our own bias, and stop listening to the noise of social media that’s being used by bad actors who believe they can benefit by throwing the U.S. into anarchy, we risk finding ourselves decades from now as Zombies, killing and destroying for reasons we can’t remember.

(Declaimer: As a matter of full disclosure, I am politically Left Libertarian. I include that because I am sure someone is going to speculate about my potential bias)

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Nothing says winter like books

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FromEditorsDesk TonySometimes, you just gotta step away, and as much as I like movies, which is to say a lot, I like books even better.

(Just like sometimes, I have to step away from the doom and gloom of the political and social landscapes, so I alternate between dad jokes, puns and other forms of digression.)

So let me tell you a story.

For a large part of my formative years, I lived in an area without television. As a dependent of a military father living in Spain during the Franco Regime, I didn’t have my mind mushened by early 70s television. There was a theater on the base, but at only one or two offerings a week or more, plus the cost, I couldn’t really live in a theater.

Plus, I played baseball and had school, but that’s a different matter.

So what’s a feller to do when he is trapped inside on a blustery, cold day with nothing to do and nowhere to go? He reads, especially if that feller was taught to read very early on and always read above grade level.

(My mother, God bless her, gave me this gift. Today, Feb. 3, would have been her 81st birthday.)

Turns out that a good book and an active imagination was a great form of escapism.

I tried all the genres, but I really fell hard for the science fiction/fantasy element (my favorite writer is Harlan Ellison). So to help you get through some of the chilly winter days, grab a blanket, your favorite hot beverage, and one or six of these tomes to warm you through and spur your imagination.

• “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” series (there’s five books in the trilogy) by Douglas Adams. You want a serious dose of comedy with your travels to other worlds, this is by far the best I’ve read. For me, the books elicited guffaws, which is a tough thing to do.

• “Dune” et al, meaning the six books in the original Frank Herbert batch, as well as the 14 written by his son Brian and all the compendiums. Rich in depth, lavish in description and a great discussion on both government, religion and how we interpret both.

• Stephen King’s “The Stand.” Whether you prefer the original release or the expanded and updated re-release, I liked the good vs. evil story that has such a detailed world. (Don’t cheat with either of the two TV shows. They’re … not well done.)

• The Dresden Files (17 books and counting) by Jim Butcher. This contemporarily set series about an honest-to-God wizard plying his trade in Chicago, and his ham-fisted answers to problems normal, paranormal and supernatural are some of the most entertaining books I’ve read ever. For me, real page-turners.

• The Lord of the Rings saga by J.R.R. Tolkien. Much like the late Christopher Lee, I had read these books pretty much annually for many years, along with “The Silmarillion.” Has to be something there since they made such amazing movies, right?

•“Something Wicked This Way Comes” by Ray Bradbury. This book I attribute to my love of this genre, since once I read it, I searched for anything I could find that was similar.

• “Childhood’s End” by Arthur C. Clarke. How it started gave me no idea or foreshadowing about the ending, and I was pretty floored.

• “Born of the Sun” by Jack Williamson (who used to teach at my former alma mater). A short story, to be sure, but one who’s impact on me still remains.

• Either the numerous short stories (not much into novels, this one) or his collection of essays and columns on television by Harlan Ellison. He hated the term sci-fi, called all of it speculative fiction, and was a bombastic, boastful and combative soul. Even so, everything I read made me think, made me wonder, and made me mad that I couldn’t come close to that level of genius.

(Many of you have probably seen television shows penned by Ellison; he was a prolific contributor to “The Twilight Zone,” “Night Gallery,” “The Outer Limits” and even “Star Trek.” Look up the episode “Soldier from Tomorrow” and “Paladin of the Lost Hour” on youTube. His most famous, or rather notorious, Trek episode was “City on the Edge of Forever.”)

Buy, borrow or rent, books are comfort, and what’s better than comfort during winter?

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..

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