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Smokey Briggs


By Smokey Briggs

Tuesday, February 6, 2001

Slim finds a reason

to whistle

I was out at the auction barn over the weekend. My buddy Slim was there. He was bent over a saddle with a rag in one hand and can of neatsfoot oil in the other.

As he worked he was whistling around the cigarette butt clamped between his lips.

I have never figured out how he does that _ the whistling part I mean. I can't whistle without at cigarette, much less around one. I guess it is a talent.

Now Slim is not a man of overflowing emotion. He seems to think squinting is a valid form of human communication. Whistle-while-you-work is not the norm.

"What are you so happy about," I asked innocently.

"Justice, I reckon," he said between bars of the tune and puffs of smoke.

"Did you watch somebody get hung?" I asked having a fair idea of what Slim considered justice.

"No, but last night I got to watch a bunch of tree-huggers in California whine because they are cold and don't have enough electricity to make espressos and all those other flu-flu drinks they make out of perfectly good coffee," he said. "That just put me in a good mood. Made me feel like God was still taking a small hand in things down here."

"Now Slim, you can't really be happy that folks out there don't have enough electricity?"

"You bet I can. They sewed the seed. Now let them reap the rewards. We need more of that. Now if our new president will stand firm and keep the feds out of it, those granola-eating nuts will have to face down a little hard reality. It'll be good for them," he said.

"Well, I admit that California made a hash out of deregulation," I said.

"Yep. Doesn't take a genius to figure out that if you deregulate the wholesale market and keep the price fixed for the consumers you are creating a problem. Now the utility companies have to buy the stuff at a higher price than they can charge for it." Slime looked up and pulled the cigarette from between his lips.

"You do not have to have a fancy degree to know that buying high and selling low is a poor business practice," he said. "It's called reality."

"I'll agree with that. But still, the biggest problem is the energy shortage Slim, not the price," I said.

"And there wouldn't be a shortage if all those lizard-kissing, yuppie, electric car-driving environmentalist didn't scream to high heaven every time somebody tried to build a power plant in their state," Slim said.

"Well Slim, you have to admit that protecting the environment is a good idea," I protested.

"Sure it is. But if you don't want to live like a caveman you have to make some compromises. These morons want to have their cake and eat it too. They don't like coal because it makes pollution. They don't like hydro-electric because the striped bottom feeder minnow might not like it, and they don't like nuclear because it is nuclear," he said and arched an eyebrow. "Just how do they expect to heat their little houses?"

I did not have an answer for that.

"I'll tell you how," Slim said. "They expected Arizona and Oregon and Nevada and Texas and all the other western states to build more than their share, take on more than their share of the pollution, and then sell electricity to them. Then they could feel all good about the environment and still be warm and drink frothy coffee drinks while they talk about what barbarians Texans are because we don't care about the polka-dot mud bug and the rest of the environment."

Slim spit and went back to work on the saddle.

"Somehow, I get the feeling that after a few days of watching their breath fog the living room by candle light those folks are going to have a bit of an attitude adjustment," he said with a near evil smile.

Then he went back to whistling. I stood there for a moment trying to think of something witty to say.

That's when I recognized the tune Slim was whistling. The song was and old Tom T. Hall tune about faster horses, younger women, older whiskey and more money being the important things in life.

There is a line in that song about growing up and returning to the "comfort of reality."

That seemed to fit. California needs to grow up and find a little reality.

Then I picked up a rag and went to work on the saddle and started blowing air across my lips in what I pass for a whistle.

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

Pull the plug on PBS, NEA and NPR

The Enterprise got another bogus email this week.

This one was a petition warning of the impending doom of National Public Radio (NPR), the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and the Public Broadcasting System (PBS), if proposed funding cuts were enacted by Congress.

This particular petition has taken on ghoulish characteristics similar to some of the junk called art that the NEA pays so-called artists with your taxes to create. This particular email cannot be killed with silver bullets or wooden stakes.

A little research reveals that the petition dates back to 1995, the year after the Republicans took control of the House of Representatives.

The perceived threat to publicly funded art and broadcasting is long gone.

Too bad.

PBS, NPR and NEA are all ideas that look good at first but end up being the private domain of the socialist-leaning elite.

Make no mistake, all of these organizations consume large budgets every year, and every year, the bureaucrats that depend on the government trough to subsidize these operations go seeking private donations to flesh out their budgets.

These private donations do not come without a string attached. These donors are the censors and directors of public supported art and broadcasting.

We are not talking about the $25 Aunt Pearl sent in during a phone-a-thon. We are talking about contributions measured in the thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Your tax dollars are taken for granted. NPR, NEA and PBS get your money no matter what they do. So the real influence comes from the big private donors.

This is elitism at its worst. They ought to call it radio, television and art for the socially superior and the very rich.

If the content is as wonderfulo as the supporters of these organizations think it is, somebody would be producing it for profit.

The majority of content produced by these organizations is not seen in a for-profit setting because it is the politically charged swill of the radical left, dressed up as art and information.

Common people with common sense flip the switch on it long before any advertiser's product might have a chance at interrupting the program and generating a little honest revenue.

It is time to pull the plug on publicly funded  radio, television and art. No segment of society should have  its own media outlets funded with tax dollars.

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