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Smokey Briggs


By Smokey Briggs

Tuesday, October 31, 2000

Trick or Treat guilt

I never knew Halloween could be so much fun. Yeah, I liked trick-or-treating as a kid but still…

This weekend I took one of the two smartest, most beautiful, and most wonderful children in the world trick-or-treating for the first time.

Of course, the most beautiful, most wonderful, smartest children in the world are mine. Ruby, age 3 and Number 2 who is as yet nameless and approximately three weeks from making entry onto this grand world.

Watching Ruby catch on to trick-or-treating was nothing short of delightful.

Costumed as a ghost, Ruby would sneak up on unsuspecting adults and squeal, "Boo."

"Oh my, what a scary ghost," they would politely say.

"Oh it's okay. I'm not really a ghost. I'm Ruby and just pretending to be a ghost," she would answer.

As Ruby assured the faint hearted that she was not really an apparition from the grave we went about the serious business of gathering the loot.

Ruby was not so sure about the whole procedure at first.

At house number one she waited patiently until the door opened and then quietly said, "trick-or-treat." The poor guy had to work to put the candy in her pumpkin and Ruby gave me a look of pure astonishment when he did.

"Thank you," she said quietly as she gazed at her new possessions.

At house number two, she was less astonished but still amazed.

House number three did not have a light on.

"Why don't we ring that door bell Daddy?"

"Well they don't have their lights on so they probably don't want any trick-or-treaters."

"Oh," she said. "But that house has a light on," she said pointing across the street.

That was the end of the learning process. The inner workings of Halloween had been revealed and God have mercy on anyone within eyesight with so much as a candle flickering in the backyard. Lights meant fair game.

Watching the unmitigated pleasure of a three-year-old collect candy simply for saying, "trick-or-treat" was more fun than I can recall having in a long time.

I did feel a twinge of guilt, however.

The rub was that I felt like a democrat.

With my ever too-cute waif of a daughter I would amble up to peoples' doors, rich and poor alike, and let her threaten them with evil doings unless they coughed up some goodies.

I might as well have been Al Gore with a couple of BATF agents in tow.

But I guess it's all right as long as we limit such shananigans to one night per year, taxes can be paid in chocolate, tax payers can opt out by turning off their porch light, and only kids twelve and under get to play.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Smokey Briggs is the editor and publisher of the Pecos Enterprise whose column appears on Tuesdays. He can be e-mailed at:

Our View

How to keep Pecos shopping in Pecos

You do not have to live in Pecos very long before you hear two sides of the same coin regarding shopping in Pecos.

Heads you hear: "Too many people are taking their business to Odessa. People here do not care about Pecos and by shopping in Odessa they are killing this town."

Tails you hear: "I've tried to shop in Pecos but everything is twice as high in Pecos as it is in Odessa. I cannot afford to shop here."

The truth probably lies somewhere in between these two extremes.

One thing is for sure and that is consumers are not going to pay a huge markup just for the privilege of shopping in their hometown. Ten or twenty percent, maybe. Thirty or forty percent is out of the question.

On the other hand, no small-town business can offer the same discount that a similar business in a big town can offer. Big retailers buy huge quantities and get huge price breaks. Local retailers cannot demand those same wholesale prices and cannot pass the same volume discounts down to the consumer.

On the other hand, consumers will pay a few percentage points more for the convenience of not driving to Odessa and for the many tangible benefits you get when you do business with people you know.

When you buy your widget in Pecos and it breaks, or you do not like it, taking it back is a five-minute trip to the store and an excuse to shoot the breeze with somebody you probably like.

Returning a widget bought in Odessa does not conjure up the same pleasant thoughts.

There is a point at which shopping in Pecos and paying a little more for a widget is worthwhile with convenience and service making up for a slight markup.

And there is the point where price makes the trip to Odessa too attractive to pass up.

If Pecos is going to win this fight, Pecos merchants have to find that sweet spot where they make a profit but do not price consumers down the interstate.

The West Wing

How many of you have watched the popular TV show about the White House called "The West Wing?" If not, you have missed a slick show. It purports to show the workings of an imaginary White House and the struggles of the staff and president.

And that it does. And it does it very smoothly and adroitly. Almost to the point that unless you listen carefully, you will miss the real message.

A dirty word in this nation is propaganda. But those who do not believe that this subject is alive and well in our national media only need to watch the "West Wing" to get a huge dose. If you watch the show week in and week out a clear _ if often subtle _ message comes across: liberals and Democrats are good, conservatives and Republicans are bad. People of faith, the so-called Religious Right, are portrayed as fanatics. People who support the Second Amendment are portrayed as lunatics.

But ever so subtly. And on social issues, every view except those expounded by the liberal left are ridiculed. Only those who favor special rights for homosexuals are shown as rational. Only those who favor abortion are shown as reasonable. Only those who support gun control are shown as having a thought process. It is a propaganda at its finest.

And if anyone ever needed proof that Hollywood and the entertainment industry were left-leaning Democrats, this show is it. Especially when you add to this mix the fact that it won how many Emmy awards. Nine?

From news coverage to news analysis to entertainment, we are constantly inundated with left-leaning thought and views. If you only watched TV and movies for your opinion of America you'd think the USSR was alive and well in Iowa. And that is propaganda at its finest.

Your View

Exercise your rights and vote

Dear Editor:
In the Pecos Enterprise opinion/editorial page of Oct. 10, 2000 Mr. Bob Dean gave his opinion on the definition of a Republican that echoes those Espoused by James Caravell who has demonized everything and everyone that stands in the way of the Democratic National Committee.

To an American that still believes in the Constitution and our Bill of Rights I would like to convey to the readership what a Democrat is to many in our society today.

A democrat is someone who believes that our lawmaking body is outdated and should be replaced by a president that has made over 200 executive orders which are now law, 64 of which directly affect our freedoms and sovereignty as a free nation.

A democrat believes that federal money given to school systems give the government the right to control what and how children are taught regardless of that child`s background or beliefs. They don`t stick to educating the child, they want to educate them on what and how to think.

A good democrat believes that if you have five dollars in your pocket and owe a million dollars, then you have a surplus. They even believe this surplus should NOT be applied to the principal of the debt.

A good democrat believes a criminal with a stolen firearm is not the problem but lack of gun control is, while not enforcing existing firearm laws.

If you are a democrat you demonize everything good that has set a moral standard for America, such as the Boy Scouts, The National Rifle Association and those fundamental beliefs that our nation has held dear for well over 200 years.

A good democrat believes that lying under oath to a court of this land is acceptable for the President. If they want America to follow in his direction, just tell us where we should draw the line to what is unacceptable.

A democrat must agree with President Clinton and Vice President Gore that our Constitution is a living, breathing document that they believe should change with the times. Myself and many millions of Americans believe that the true protection of what has made this country great is the Constitution and that it is written in the blood by those who have died to protect it. It is our protection and should never change.

A good democrat doesn`t ask if it is just a coincidence that the late, former Chairman of Occidental Petroleum, Armand Hammer was a dear friend of Al Gore Senior who was appointed chairman of that company's Island Creek Coal Company at a six figure salary after his defeat in 1970. They don`t care That Occidental is to this day operating a zinc mine on the Gore farm in Tennessee which has been found to be polluting a nearby river. Now the question is, why they don`t say anything about the fact that Vice President Al Gore highly supported the sale of the Elk Hills Strategic Oil Reserves, one of our nation's largest to Occidental in 1998 at a very low cost per value. Do you wonder if the Vice President is going to chair one of Occidental's companies at a huge salary when he leaves politics?

Our freedoms are so precious and we have taken them for granted to the point that we have to look at how people are living elsewhere in the world to see just how precious those freedoms are. What we all need to look at is what was said by one of our nations founders.

"Those who desire to give up Freedom in order to gain Security, will not have, nor do they deserve, either one." _ Thomas Jefferson.

Whether you agree with me and the millions of other Americans or not, I ask only one thing of you. Please exercise your right to VOTE in not only the upcoming election but all of them. It is a right that many before us have died for so that we might have the right of choice.

Respectfully submitted,
Arlington, Washington

The South lost the war and with it the right to secede

Dear Editor:
States rights as a basis to decide between these two candidates? You're kidding.

You know I always get a little uncomfortable when I hear the type of "girly-girl" complaint about how the South was "forced back into the Union" at bloody bayonet point. When I was a kid, you got into a fight, one would win, the other would lose. Now you could lose a fight and still stand tall about it. But woe to any young male who would cry, weep and wail about losing. That was surefire way to enter the halls of "pansydom".

You present two points in your editorial, namely the right of a state to secede and state's rights.

The secession issue. Get over it. The South lost the war and with it settled the right to secede issue. Look at Robert E. Lee. Probably the greatest strategist in American Military History if not the world. I don't recall him ever arguing or moaning the abrogation of a state's right to nullify the Constitution and secede from the Union.

Even understood that the defeat of the Confederacy in that bloody Civil War settled that constitutional controversy once and for all. And I mean permanently. No state since the Civil War has argued a right to secede from the Union. (Except for Texas in the 70's but we were just kidding.)

Now, why don't they teach our school kids about this state's rights stuff when they get to the Civil War section of their American History lessons?

Probably because even a kid could see what a sham the whole state's rights argument was back in the mid-1800's.

I mean it probably would have confounded the kids to know that the Southern delegation from the slave-holding state of Virginia headed by Edmund Randolph led the charge during the Constitutional Convention of 1787 for a drafting of a Constitution granting powers to a more stronger central government!

Even more confounding would have been to hear our forefathers like James Madison or even George Washington also from the Southern pro-slavery state of

Virginia, advocating in favor of a strong central form of government. This happened while struggling with the creation of the "Articles of Confederation" immediately after our independence from England. In fact, it was George who stated that the powers granted the Continental Congress under these articles was merely "shadow" powers.

Yep, the kids would have figured out that "state's right's" thing was merely something cooked up by the South to justify their secession from the Union and continue a mercantilistic economic system with England, the foundation of which was borne completely upon the backs of cheap African slave labor.

So, aside from the fact the Civil War also decided the issue in favor of those advocating a stronger central (i.e., Federal) Government, it also settled the issue of which would be the dominant system, a loose confederation of states with a weak central government or vice versa. Heck, it didn't even work for the Confederacy! The Confederacy opted for a pro-state's rights Constitution that only allowed a weak-central government. This in effect left Jefferson Davis impotent with a central government that had no real power over critical domestic issues such as: regulation of transportation; commerce; industry; taxation and conscription. He basically had to beg states to contribute. (Read also some of Lee's letters containing unfulfilled pleas to Davis for troops and supplies.)

In fact if kids read on in their history texts, they will see the failed and ugly banner of state's rights raised again. The first time after the Civil War was in the early 60's when Strom Thrumond wailed loudly about state's rights and led the Dixicrats in a failed attempt to prevent the Civil Rights Act and later the Voting Rights Act.

Recently, the banner of State's rights was raised by Conservative Republicans in the 80's, only it was called "The New Federalism". You may remember those great times. It was under Reagan when we had the largest peacetime bureaucracy as well as the largest debt in our nation's 200 year history. As for the much touted (by these Conservative Republicans) return to a weaker central government and more power to the states.

Well, . . . it never happened.

So if your voting for Bush in hopes of a return to State's Rights.

Well, if Bush wins, . . . . . it'll never happen with him in the White House either.

I'll pick up my .303 Enfield for a lot of things. But I won't pick it up for a failed argument that was decided a very long 135 years ago, when real Slavery was stomped out.

Respectfully submitted,

Parent sick of poor excuses

Dear Editor:
I would like to add my voice to that of Mr. Alexander in condenming the actions of Mr. William Goff, head band director of the P.H. S. band.

There have been many complaints against this man in the past as well as recent times', but this was the straw that broke the camel's back. When the band went to Las Cruces for the Tournament of-Bands, Mr. Goff not only deserted the band as he hopped into the car with his wife and headed home, but he left a congregation of parents sitting in the stadium, wandering where their children were.

The students left the staditun to go eat lunch and parents were told that the awards presentation would-be at 6:15. Some parents left to go shopping or sight seeing thinking that their children were going to eat lunch then come back to the stadium to watch the other'bands.

Imagine how they felt when their children never returned. Other parents stayed at the stadium the whole time or ate somewhere nearby, then returned to see the other competitors. These parents got the shock of seeing the buses return, park for a little while, then suddenly just drive away with their children. As the buses left, parents were scurrying out of their seats and running around, looking for anyone from Pecos who could tell them what was going on. One parent chased the buses all the way to the other side of Fabens, only to learn that her child had been left at the stadium in Las Cruces. This was one of the most irresponsible actions, committed by a teacher, that I have heard of in recent times.

The worst part about this is that several school administrators were with the band on this trip and they let this happen. What kind of a teacher just abandons the itinerary, and even abandons his students to just take off for home without even bothering to use the public address system to tell parents what is happening.

Now, some administrators are trying to justify this fiasco by saying that the bus drivers were tired and our band was not going to win anyway so we could save the district money by going home early, as well as letting the drivers go on home before they became even more tired.

All these things should have been thought of before they ever left Pecos. Didn't Mr. Goff have his itinerary approved by some administrator before the trip? I agree with Mr. Alexander's letter to the editor Where he said he was sick of excuses. I am sick of excuses, too. Band parents and anyone who thinks that this incident cannot be ignored, please be at the next school-board meeting, to let the board members know that we are sick of excuses.

Thank you,

Band members feels at fault for actions

Dear Editor:
I would like to respond the letter written by Mr. Alexander.

What Mr. Goff did in Las Cruces was unforgiveable. I sincerely hope that he apologized to the band students. They were a real low point and they needed their leader.

But give the man a break. He is only human, after all.

But honestly.

If hte band had scored a higher rating, would anyone be angry now? We should be thankful for everyday spent with Mr. Goff. He believed in us when no one else did. We had gotten so used to losing that we began to think like losers. But Mr. Goff never quit. He pushed an shaped us into a winning band. Where once people laughed at Pecos, htey now fear us. It feels good to be on top. The talen is there. It was the attitude and state of mind that was needed.

Mr. Goff gave us a precious gift. Hope. But hope can only get you so far.

In order to succeed, you must have determination and the will. The band this year had none of that. I am a senior, take full responsibility. I let my fellow band members down. I should have set a good example for the underclassmen. I should have pushed myself and those around me to succeed. I'm the one that's at fault. Now replace I with we and my with our and see how that sounds. We let the band down, not Mr. Goff. Don't give up on us, because that is exactly what you would be doing if Mr. Goff was to leave.


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