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Luke (rt) and his good friend Larry Weishuhn are both in their mid seventies and still enjoying the great outdoors, maybe more now than ever! Photo by Luke Clayton
April 16, 2024


Category: Outdoor Life Author: Super User
Luke (rt) and his good friend Larry Weishuhn are both in their mid seventies and still enjoying the great outdoors, maybe more now than ever! Photo by Luke ClaytonThere was a time back when I was in my twenties and thirties that I thought I would be hanging…
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April 13, 2024

Close-to-home fun

Category: Outdoor Life Author: Super User
As an outdoors writer for the past 39 years, I’ve become accustomed to “gallavanting” around the country fishing, hunting and collecting material for my articles. Lately though, I’ve been sticking pretty close to home. Kenneth Shephard with a good “eater…


They want you to lose hope

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Jim Opionin by Jim Powers
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I was looking today at polling indicating that young adults in the U.S. are losing hope. They are losing hope politically, economically, and culturally. They are watching their rights being taken away and their country being torn apart by old white men, incredibly rich men and corporations, and religious zealots who have gamed the system to usurp control of our government and courts. And are concluding that they have no power to change things.

The fact is, though, that you young adults are the only hope this country has. And that scares those now clinging to power at any cost. 

You need to understand that the object of their actions is to make you lose hope. They fear that you will come to understand your real power and take control away from them. They are lying to you, manipulating the government, the economic system, and society, deliberately adding gasoline to a culture war of their own making to distract you from what they are about.

Let’s talk about a few of those lies.

Shocked that the Supreme Court struck down Roe v Wade, thus allowing numerous state trigger laws outlawing abortion to go into effect in those states?  Well, as Justice Thomas pointed out in his concurring opinion, you ain’t seen nothing yet. He noted that protections for gay marriage, contraception, and same-sex consensual relations should also be struck down because they established rights by the same rationale as Roe. Oddly absent from his opinion is the right to interracial marriage, also created by that same rationale. Perhaps because he is in an interracial marriage. Hypocrisy seems to be o.k. with him.

The majority in the Supreme Court insist they are deciding these things as they are because they are originalists, that the words of the constitution as it was created by the founding fathers is the do all and end all its meaning. That the constitution must be interpreted based on the original understanding “at the time it was adopted.” You will often hear the argument from anti-abortion advocates that the word “abortion” is not in the constitution, so Roe v Wade should never have been considered by the court.

I don’t think I have to explain that there are many words that are not in the constitution, which is why it is the Supreme Courts job to interpret the constitution. Roe, for example, was derived from the right to privacy granted in the constitution. The Fourth Amendment states, [t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." Clearly that would include medical privacy and autonomy over your own body.

Many people have the idea from drawings in high school textbooks that the founding fathers were a bunch of old, incredibly wise men wearing white wigs, who in the constitution created a perfect document that they intended to be the beginning and end of the basis for our country forever. That is not true. 

When the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776, most of the Founding Fathers were under the age of 40. Many were teenagers and young adults. James Madison was 18 years old; John Marshall was 20 years old, Alexander Hamilton 21 years old and James Madison 25 years old. Thomas Jefferson was only 33 years old.

These weren’t old men with wisdom gained from decades of life. They certainly didn’t always agree with each other and, in fact, varied greatly among their opinions. They were acutely aware that they were not creating founding documents that would hold up over all time (many weren’t, in fact, convinced the U.S. could survive at all). They were simply hashing out documents that they understood would have to evolve and change over time.

I’m an old man. Our government institutions are filled with old men. Most of us haven’t gained much wisdom because of living a long time. Many old men in government have been corrupted by conflicts of interest, by the wealth accumulated from voting for the interests of multi-billion-dollar corporations and special interests over decades of serving in office. Many others have theocratic and white nationalist agendas. 

We don’t need old men in government who count their wealth while looking back longingly to 100 years ago when white male privilege pampered their feelings of superiority. We need young men and women of vision, and a desire for true freedom. The old men know that. And they are doing everything in their power to make you lose hope, to convince you to give up the fight for a better future and accept defeat.

I can write these columns every day for whatever time a 71-year-old man has left, but I have no stake in the future. You are our only hope for creating a progressive, inclusive country. Don’t listen to the lies. Get involved in government, vote for the future, not the past. Create the country you want to live in. I lived in the middle of the 20th century. You do not want to go back there.

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Committee concerned with state property

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063022 trent ashbyThe resiliency of our electric grid is critical to the safety and well-being of all Texans the summer.

By Rep. Trent Ashby

District 57

It’s hot. With triple-digit temperatures already across the state, Texas has had an unseasonably warm start to our summer season.

As the mercury climbs, many of us are counting on our air conditioners to provide us with some welcome relief from the heat. With demand for energy at an all-time high, the resiliency of our electric grid is critical to the safety and well-being of all Texans.

As you may recall, in response to Winter Storm Uri, the Legislature last session took decisive action by passing a number of reforms to our state's power grid that increased efficiency, bolstered resiliency, and established a more transparent governing structure to enhance our preparedness for increased energy usage.

As such, for this week's column, I thought it would be appropriate to cover the committee that will monitor the implementation of these reforms — the House Committee of State Affairs.

With that, we'll dive back into our examination of House interim charges with State Affairs.

The House Committee on State Affairs is one of the larger committees and covers a wide range of issues relating to the operation of public lands and state buildings, the regulation of the electric and telecommunications industries, pipelines, and cybersecurity to name a few.

The committee oversees many essential organizations and state agencies, including the Public Utility Commission, the Department of Information Resources, the Office of the Governor, the Texas Ethics Commission, and the Texas Facilities Commission.

The Committee will spend a significant amount of time this interim monitoring the implementation of policies related to our state's power grid. More specifically, the Speaker charged the committee to examine SB 2, which overhauls the governance structure of the Public Utility Commission and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas to improve legislative oversight and increase accountability by requiring members to live in the State of Texas.

The Speaker has also asked the committee to examine SB 3, which was perhaps the most significant piece of legislation affecting our power grid. SB 3 consolidates several bills and enacts a range of reforms to the power industry.

Some highlights include the establishment of a statewide alert system to enhance communication between state agencies; the establishment of the Texas Energy Reliability Council to ensure the industry meets high-priority human needs; and a requirement for energy facilities to weatherize and make the preparations necessary to maintain electric service during extreme weather conditions.

The Committee on State Affairs is also tasked with examining efforts of industry weatherization and reviewing the status of projects to reduce transmission congestion within the state’s electric grid.

Importantly, the House Committee on State Affairs is keeping a close eye on these reforms, having already conducted a hearing to receive testimony from state entities and power generators, which will continue throughout the interim.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if we can help you in any way. My district office may be reached at (936) 634-2762. Additionally, I welcome you to follow along on my Official Facebook Page, where I will be posting regular updates on what's happening in your State Capitol and sharing information that could be useful to you and your family: https://www.facebook.com/RepTrentAshby/.

Trent Ashby represents District 57, soon to be District 9, which includes Trinity County, in the Texas Legislature.

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The art of political misdirection

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FromEditorsDesk TonyBy Tony Farkas
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While the country is caught up in its response to the recent Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade, there have been shenanigans afoot.
The Biden administration has approved a plan that has given 145,000 people relief from student loan debt, which some estimates have placed as amounting to more than $8 billion.

The program also only, as of now, affects public service workers — you know, people who work for the government. However, there is a distinct possibility, based on the news reports from several outlets, such as CNN, Forbes, The Hill, etc., that state that the government is considering expanding that number to 550,000 borrowers.

Moreover, there is discussions going on that will provide debt relief to all federal borrowers to tune of $10,000 for those making less than $150,000 per year.

There are several prongs to follow on this.

To start with, this was tax dollars, borrowed by people with one purpose, and that being to finance an education. So in legal loan terms, the government provided the funds from the coffers that are filled by your paying income tax. The degree was obtained, and so the money must now be paid back.

In a perfect world, though, the government should not have been able to provide those funds, since there isn’t a mechanism anywhere in the Constitution that provides for the government to be able to give out money as loans for education.

There also isn’t any mechanism in the Constitution that provide for a Department of Education (or Energy, or EPA, but that is starting down a rabbit hole) either, yet for some reason it was found meet and good to do so.

We all know that governments can gin up any number of ways to do something, yet somehow, they not only fail at it, but never let it go, either.

Secondly, there is the element of personal responsibility that is being ignored here, and because the government is not holding certain borrowers to the contract, people tax dollars have been used for someone’s personal gain, and because it comes from taxes, it was done with the threat of force against the taxpayers.

All of the people who lived up to their responsibilities and repaid their student loans, by the way, will get nothing.

I’m not the national nanny, so I won’t spend time admonishing people who took advantage of the program, since I believe it should not have been offered in the first place. I will admonish the government for yet again putting personal needs ahead of actually running the country, and failing miserably.

Immigration, Social Security, energy, Prohibition, health insurance and more have come crashing down because our elected leaders pander instead of govern. If you look closely, the pattern is strikingly similar, in that anything the government decides to overtake will be well-intentioned, but dismally executed and then crash.

Countless amnesties for illegal immigrants, rampant fraud in social programs, veterans left forgotten once their usefulness to the country ebbed — all point to the problem, yet society still believes government is the only way things can get done, and done with equity.

Hasn’t happened yet, and this is yet another example of that.

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The fallacy of limited perception

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FromEditorsDesk TonyBy Tony Farkas
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There’s a lot of misperception out and around the country — probably the world — about the state of things and how we deal with that.

For instance, a good friend of mine, who does live in Liberal Land, said he recently had to pay $6.09 per gallon of gas, but he was OK with that, since his perspective on the matter was that the rest of the world was getting just as hammered at the pump as he was.

In coming to that conclusion, he of course was of the perception that it was the oil companies that were responsible for gouging us customers, which is why we have such high gas prices.

The problem with this perception is two-fold: it’s been well-established that oil companies are suffering losses themselves in trying to keep prices down, and the reason things are spiraling out of control is the government has laid its hand on things, which never ends well.

By denying exploration, shutting down new leases and killing the Keystone Pipeline, it put a crimp in the supply of oil, and everyone knows that low supply plus high demand means high prices.

The excuses are further hampered by the fact that at one point, the problem with gas prices was Putin’s fault. Now it’s oil companies, which prompted our Fearless Leader to head to Saudi Arabia to beg for more oil.

I’ve dealt with that in the past; we have the means to be energy independent, and keep our prices low, but the efforts are being strangled. One of the administration’s talking heads even had the audacity to demand oil companies increase production, even threatening repercussions, while at the same time hampering their efforts.

Yet, the perception is that it’s the oil companies at fault here.

Same thing with COVID vaccinations. It’s been recently reported that Dr. Anthony Fauci has yet again tested positive for the disease, and of course, he’s feen fully vaccinated and boosted ad nauseum.

Many out there are still trumpeting the efficacy of vaccinations still, as well as masking (the federal government is thinking of reinstituting the flight mask mandate), because their perception is that vaccinations are effective.

Yet another friend is still claiming that his state legislators will have blood on their hands if the same event that happened in Uvalde happened in his state — meaning that his perception is that the only way to stop gun violence is to remove guns.

It’s also been proven the shooter in Uvalde was able to acquire his weapons illegally; he was a felon and could not purchase a firearm.
The perception of many is that banning things will solve the problem, like banning guns will stop violence, and banning pipelines and oil exploration will solve climate change, and that ineffective vaccinations will stop the proliferation of COVID.

This perception is absent facts, and that’s only part of the problem. We as a society are gradually becoming Orwellized; we’re told the like, over and over again, and steadfastly believe and relate it even in the face of contradictory facts.

The government, which tripped over its first bid at an office of disinformation rebuttal, is coming at the problem from a different angle, claiming that it will fight abuse and disinformation via a task force led by Vice President Kamala Harris.

This is from people who are claiming that $6 a gallon gas, empty store shelves and 8 percent inflation is good for the economy.
What happened to the people who were free-thinking? What happened to people who could stand on their own, living their lives without the training wheels and helmets of government?

Freedom of thought still exist, for the time being, and it, like every other human action, needs exercise in order to function at peak efficiency. In other words, leave the Kool-Aid for others, and make a decision about your life based on as many facts as you can get.

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More focused than ever at 60!

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062622 tom purcel

By Tom Purcell

“Inside every old person is a young person wondering what happened.”

Those are the clever words of British humorist Terry Pratchett, who couldn’t have explained the aging process more succinctly.
I know his words are true because I turned 60 this week.

It’s a heck of a thing to have burned through six decades already. If I’d known 60 years would go by so fast, I would have taken worse care of myself.

Time is a humbling thing.

I know now my greatest accomplishment — aside from an uncanny ability to catch grapes in my mouth no matter how far or high my friends throw them — was becoming a bouncer at the legendary Rathskeller pub at Penn State.

When I was half this age, I was certain I knew everything. I was cocky and brash and incredibly wrong.
Now, I realize I know very little, but the things I do know, I know well.

I know that fame is a waste of time — and excess wealth, too — as they bring with them more problems than either are worth.

You don’t who your friends really are until your money is gone. And if you ever do anything stupid as a famous person, social media will broadcast it all over the world.
Several studies have been done on the subject of happiness. Having just enough money to save a little for a rainy day and go out with the love of your life a few times a month is all the money you really need.

It’s friends and loved ones that bring us real wealth.

It’s the laughter we can only enjoy with our closest friends — people we know we can count on no matter how difficult our lot becomes.

It’s the love we enjoy from our closest family members, friends, and lifelong spouses and partners — the people we attend weddings, holiday events and special occasions with — all of our most memorable experiences.

And it’s not just people.

Why I waited until the age of 59 to get another dog — last having one as a child so many years ago — is possibly the most bone-headed decision I ever made.

Somebody said God removed the wings from pets like my best buddy Thurber, so that nobody would know they are angels.

This guy makes me laugh out loud every single day — something I didn’t realize I was failing to do until he entered my life.

When we are young, we dream of big houses, and we hope to impress total strangers.

As we grow older and wiser, we realize none of that matters. We realize that time is going by way too fast and that every single moment is precious.

I was sick as a dog with a nasty flu weeks ago and, brought to my knees, I went through a paradigm shift.

I decided I never want to waste another healthy moment.

I started eating healthier than ever. I exercise daily. I go for walks with Thurber.

I turn in at a decent hour, so I wake refreshed at 5:40 every morning ready to dive into the new day.

All I want to do now is write well, read great literature and learn how to love better, give back more, laugh harder and spend every moment with people I love as though it were the last moment I had to live.

Maybe it’s time to alter Pratchett’s clever quote:

“Inside every old person is a wiser person trying to make great things happen with whatever God-given time he has left!”

Copyright 2022 Tom Purcell, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. Tom Purcell is an author and humor columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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