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An open letter to the Big Guy

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FromEditorsDesk Tony CroppedBy Tony Farkas

Mr. President:

I realize that, while Vice President, you made it very clear to the Ukrainian government that you held their monetary aid was under your direct control, but must you now continue to exercise that control, particularly since all you can seem to do is “make it rain?”

When did freedom become so important to you? As VP, you told the people of that country that you would withhold funds unless the prosecutor selected to investigate Burisma was removed. I guess since the firm that your son Hunter worked with was no longer under investigation, you felt you could open the taps and let the money flow.

The question of freedom, though, is one that’s strange to me. Freedom carries the connotation that one can direct its path, yet you feel that only happens with the blessing of the U.S., something you’ve gone all in on.

A second question is, why has the U.S. given more $75 billion in aid, with promises of more and more, when there are numerous and serious problems right here at home?

At last count, there was at least 12 train derailments in several states, including one not too far from here in Montgomery County.

Factories have caught fire, destroying towns, and lest we forget, as your administration did for weeks, the unfolding tragedy and toxic miasma that is East Palestine, Ohio.

There are veterans, as well as others, who are homeless. There is a southern border that is a sieve. Despite the claims of your administration, prices, particularly for gas, are still high and getting higher.

Speaking of your administration, you’re making quite a bit of hay claiming this is the most diverse group of people in the history of ever. We’re finding out, though, that there is an extremely large difference between diversity and ability. For instance, the performance of your Transportation Secretary was the most laughable of any I’m aware of, second only to the continuous malfeasance of your press secretary, who obfuscates, lies and misdirects instead of providing us with the information that we need.

The spending spree for other countries has to stop, Mr. President. This constant cycle of egregious spending, printing money, taxing the citizens and back to egregious spending cannot continue; the government has broken the banks, incurred trillions in debt, and failed in just about every endeavor it has assumed or subsumed, and has moved almost completely away from the strictures of the U.S. Constitution as well as common sense.

It’s almost as if the government has decided that this country was a bad idea, so it is moving on to other countries, sort of like ending the relationship. This is evidenced by your plan to cede all American authority to the World Health Organization in cases of health emergencies.

Toiling around social media shows you putting out platitudes about America’s place in the world, yet there is little evidence that is case anymore. To make that happen, we request that your focus, and our tax dollars, be used for this country, and not any others.

Tony Farkas is editor of the Trinity County News-Standard and 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..

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A brave step forward

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Chris MetitationsBy Chris Edwards
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Recently, Pennsylvania senator John Fetterman checked himself into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to, to quote a news release from his chief of staff, “receive treatment for clinical depression.”

Fetterman, of course, does not represent me. I haven’t been anywhere near the Keystone State in many years, but in some ways, he does represent me, and many other Americans.

Recent figures from the National Institute of Mental Health show that around 21 million adults in this country have had at least one major depressive episode in their lifetime, and furthermore, according to a survey’s findings from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, one in four Americans have suffered some form of mental illness.

Fetterman, who was recently elected to his seat in the U.S. Senate, as a Democrat, after defeating celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz, who ran on the Republican ticket, has not had an easy road as of late. He suffered a near-fatal stroke last year, and experts claim that the risk of depression rises in stroke victims.

The hulking, bald, heavily tattooed politician first came to mainstream prominence when he was elected Pennsylvania’s Lt. Governor.

Many media figures who reported on Fetterman made note of his appearance, after all, he looks more like an executioner on Game of Thrones or a bassist in a sludge metal band as opposed to what we’re used to lawmakers looking like. Add to that his eschewing of suits and designer sportswear for Dickies workshirts and Carhartt gear, and Fetterman is easy to pick out of a crowd of politicians.

Fetterman, according to one report, has spent many months post-stroke “not so much recovering as pushing through”; involved in a heated campaign and, as of late, working to prove himself to constituents and peers as a freshman senator.

All the while, the depression is a condition that he has suffered with off and on throughout his life, according to his chief of staff Adam Jentleson.

While Fetterman gets nothing but compassion from me, in today’s hyper-partisan political climate, such is not the case from some of the voices on the ideological flip side of the aisle.

Some of the more conservative voices in mass media made comments suggesting that Fetterman was being exploited by his family and the voters of Pennsylvania. Fast-talking Ben Shapiro called it “cruel and disgusting” for Fetterman to have been “placed” in the position he is in, while Donald Trump, Jr. called Fetterman a “vegetable.”

Although we, as a society, still have miles to go in terms of speaking of mental illness with honesty and equanimity, we are a long way away from the dark ages when someone like Fetterman would have been ostracized from the masses.

Consider the plight of the historical figure James Lucas, the “Hermit of Hertfordshire,” who was known as an eccentric in the pre-Freudian days of complete ignorance of mental illness. Lucas was, by all accounts, a well-liked and well-educated fellow who just malfunctioned after his mother’s death.

Lucas locked himself away in his mansion for the remainder of his life and allowed no one to touch a single thing in the house.

Today a variety of interventions exist to help someone like Lucas recover at least some degree of function. Hopefully Fetterman is able to do the same and get back to working for the people of Pennsylvania.

Although, to reiterate, I live a long way from claiming Fetterman as a representative, and in terms of policy, there’s not likely a whole lot of common ground there, however I applaud him for taking the steps he needed to get help.

Millions of productive Americans battle depression, and although we are not in the dark ages anymore, there is still a long way to go toward understanding.

In the words of one of his Republican colleagues in the upper chamber, John Thune, of South Dakota, “The more open, transparent people can be [about mental health issues], the better our understanding is.”

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Anniversary of famous letter from the Alamo

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My Five CentsOn Feb. 24, 1836, William B. Travis wrote his famous letter from the Alamo. He wrote the defenders would never “surrender or retreat” and ended with the iconic line “Victory or Death.”

Here are five things happening around your state:

Governor Abbott
announces emergency items

Last week, Governor Greg Abbott gave his State of the State address. In that address, he listed his seven emergency items that he is asking the legislature to address this session. Emergency items identified by the governor are special because the legislature can begin to address and vote on them immediately rather than waiting the requisite 60 days for passing normal legislation. The seven items the governor identified include cutting property taxes, ending COVID-19 restrictions, expanding school choice, school safety, continued bail reform, border security, and combatting the fentanyl crisis. Outside of his emergency items, the governor mentioned several other priorities including increasing infrastructure funding, creating new economic development tools, and mandatory minimum sentences for illegal gun possession by criminals, among other things. Now that the Governor’s emergency items have been established, the legislature can begin working on these issues. Committees should also begin meeting in the next few weeks and the bill filing deadline is on March 10.

Bill filed to move
Stephen F. Austin State University to the UT System

This week, I filed Senate Bill 1055 which would formally place SFA within the UT System and sets up a framework for that to happen. The bill directly names the university as Stephen F. Austin State University, a member of the University of Texas System. It was important to the community that the university retain its name, colors, and mascot as part of its identity. An

important note about the legislation as filed, the caption reads that the bill is “abolishing Stephen F. Austin State University.” I’d like the community to know that language is necessary for SFA to be eligible to receive certain funds in the UT System. This bill will not alter SFA’s current presence or change much on a day-to-day basis for students and faculty. The transition to the UT System will take place over the summer at the direction of the UT Board of Regents. Both universities are excited about the transition and are working together to ensure a seamless transition. This is an exciting time for both SFA and the surrounding community.

Senate Finance work groups announced

The Senate Finance Committee Chair Sen. Joan Huffman announced work groups for Senate Finance this week. In the Senate, the finance committee breaks the entire budget down by article and assigns groups of senators to go through them line-by-line to make decisions on agencies and their appropriation requests. This session I am honored to again chair the work group on Articles 6, 7, and 8. Those articles cover agencies that relate to natural resources, business and economic development, and regulatory agencies. Joining me in our work group are Sen. Royce West, Sen. Charles Schwertner, and Sen. Charles Perry. Together we will oversee billions of dollars in appropriations. I look forward to working with my colleagues on making recommendations to the rest of the finance committee and Chair Huffman. Texas A&M Forest Service offering grants for volunteer firefighter recruitment

The Texas A&M Forest Service announced last week that it is
offering new volunteer

recruitment resources grants designed to help rural volunteer fire departments recruit and retain firefighters and enhance public safety. Eligible departments can apply for reimbursement of all of the total costs for recruitment up to $3,000. Those allowable uses include reimbursements for banners, mailouts, billboards, and other promotional items. The fund has a total of $300,000 in federal funds available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Eligible departments must serve a rural area with a population of 10,000 people or less, must be certified by the Texas Division of Emergency Management and have a National Incident Management System, must not be debarred, suspended or declared ineligible, and must be comprised of at least 80% volunteer personnel.

Texas ranked first in Aerospace Manufacturing Attractiveness

Texas once again came in first as the best state for Aerospace Manufacturing Attractiveness, according to PwC. In the publication’s ninth ratings report, the rankings considered key variables such as cost, labor, infrastructure, industry, economy, and tax policy. Texas ranked number one in tax policy and economy and number two in industry. Rounding out the top five were Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, and Indiana. Texas is already home to several space-related organizations like Blue Origin, Space X, and NASA.

Sen. Robert Nichols represents Senate District 9, which includes Polk County, in the Texas Legislature

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Texas Constitution celebrates birthday

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My Five CentsOn Feb. 15, 1876, Texas adopted the Constitution of 1876. The document is the sixth constitution by which Texas has been governed since declaring independence from Mexico.

Despite having been amended more than 230 times, it remains the basic law of Texas today.

Here are five things happening around your state:

Lt. Governor Patrick releases list of priority bills

Earlier this week, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick released a list of 30 pieces of legislation that he would like to see passed this session. Included in the list are the state budget, electric grid

improvements, property tax relief, school safety, mental health care, and other priorities. These

bills will have low bill numbers, which indicates their importance to the lt. governor. In his press release, the lt. governor made note that several policy initiatives are addressed in the budget and thus will not need a bill. However, those policies are still a priority, including border security funding. Most of these bills will be filed over the next few weeks and will move through

the committee process. To see a full list, go to https://www.ltgov.texas.gov/2023/02/13/lt-gov-


Stephen F. Austin State University honored for centennial anniversary on Senate Floor

Stephen F. Austin State University President Dr. Steve Westbrook and other SFA representatives were honored on the Senate Floor this week to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the university. SFA’s storied history began in 1923 when 270 students matriculated at the

college, which was a teaching university at the time. The State Board of Regents selected Nacogdoches as the location of the new college because of its heritage as the oldest town in

Texas. The homestead of Thomas J. Rusk, formerly owned by Sam Houston, was chosen as the

site for the new college. Rusk and Houston had each served as the original two U.S. Senators from Texas. Today, more than 11,000 students are enrolled at SFA and the university has expanded its offerings to more than 120 areas of study. Congratulations to everyone who has made SFA the outstanding university it has become.

Data privacy bill filed in the Senate

Last week, I filed Senate Bill 821 to continue the work I began last session on data privacy. Last session, I authored Senate Bill 15 which prevented certain state agencies from selling personal data to companies that did not need that data. This session, my work continues in SB 821. This bill would require the Sunset Advisory Commission to evaluate whether or not a state agency is selling personal data, why they are selling the data, what statute authorizes them to sell the data, and to whom they are selling data. The Sunset Advisory Commission is tasked with evaluating the need for and performance of state agencies on a rolling basis. Each agency is required to go through the Sunset process typically every 12 years. That process is lengthy and closely examines an agency’s mission, purpose, programs, and performance and addresses any problems identified. This bill would add personal data privacy protections to the sunset process and leave a lasting legacy of data privacy.

Angelina County approves $80 million grant for battery construction

The Angelina County Commissioner’s Court approved an $80 million grant from the Economic Development Grant Program for the construction of Martinez Energy Storage. The project is intended to build a battery that will store excess energy that Angelina Country can use during peak consumption hours. Energy will be stored when there is excess power and will be redistributed when it’s needed. The deal includes a 10-year tax abatement of 70% and the company will hire 50 temporary workers for the construction project.

State employee maternity leave bill referred to Senate Business and Commerce


This week, Senate Bill 222 was referred to the Senate Business and Commerce Committee. This bill, which I authored, gives state employees a paid maternity leave benefit for four weeks after the birth of a child. If an employee adopts a child, has a child via surrogate, or their partner has a child, the benefit is two weeks of paid leave. It is important to support families during the transformative time of welcoming a child into their home. The state should lead on this issue and guarantee family leave for state employees. Now that the bill has been referred, it will get set for a hearing by the chair of the committee. Typically, committees start hearings on specific legislation in mid-March after the bill filing deadline.

Sen. Robert Nichols represents Senate District 9, which includes Polk County, in the Texas Legislature.

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Justification equals narrative changes

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FromEditorsDesk Tony CroppedBy Tony Farkas
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Wokeness gonna woke, and the media will work overtime to make sure that you know how the wokeness is the most beneficial and bestest thing ever in the whole wide world.

To better illustrate this, there are two stories I’ve come across in the last few days that show the decline of society coupled with its insistence that these events are exactly good and proper.

Many of you are aware of the ever-increasing prices that we’re being told are coming down (but that’s not what I’m referring to this time), such as egg prices. Many times in the past, we’ve been told that Biden is causing prices to go down, that things are both hunky and dory, and that patience will be rewarded.

However, the tune has changed, and according to a story in that once pinnacle of journalism — the Wall Street Journal — all of us could save money by skipping breakfast.

The most important meal of the day.

We’ve been told for years that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and there is tons of information out there touting the benefits of eggs. Now this.

Journalists exist, in theory, to help uncover truths. Larger media conglomerates used to take on governments at every level, but now it seems running cover is the more appropriate use of their resources.

Back in the day, though, there would be expert analysis of the causes of inflation and introspection as to the moves necessary to combat the inflation, and perhaps and editorial or two decrying the government’s inability to get things under control; now, we put out reams of apologia that amounts to not much more than “suck it up, buttercup.”

Moving on toward an even more chilling development, apparently book publishers have decided to change written works, including the classics, and having them redone based on recommendations of something called “inclusion ambassadors.”

Starting with the works of Roald Dahl, Puffin Publishing has people apparently skilled in the art of sensitivity go through books like “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “The Witches” and “edit” them to make them more inclusive and less derogatory, essentially forcing woke language into the classics.

We no longer refer to men and women, or boys and girl, opting for generic term as opposed to gender indentifiers; people are no longer referred to as fat; and anything deemed demeaning is outright excised.

According to news reports, it’s being done to ensure that these classic works can continue to be enjoyed today, meaning, if it offends, we mend, regardless of the author’s intent or the validity of keeping works in the vernacular of the times.

In George Orwell’s “1984,” Winston Smith works for the Ministry of Truth as a flunky who rewrites news articles, changing the tone to positive so it reflects well on the government, or to represent the current policy of the nation.

This is very similar, and while it seems voluntary (it’s done with the blessing of the Roald Dahl Foundation), it’s the first toe dipped into a lake that could end not only with full-on rewrites but even enter “Fahrenheit 451” territory. Don’t worry about removing books from libraries any more, we’ll just “fix” them at the publishing house, and our delicate sensibilities will never be upset again.

Journalists that don’t champion truth in either reporting or writing are not longer journalists, but MiniTruth employees, Pravda on woke steroids.

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