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Courts consumed much of my time last week, Monday through Friday. I did
get a little break Friday when a 3 p.m. eviction hearing was postponed
because the tenant demanded a jury trial.
Just minutes earlier, I sat through the federal court sentencing of a
marijuana smuggler who will spend the next 41 years in prison. Letters
written to Judge Bunton by family members were tear jerkers, but they
got no more sympathy from me than they did from Judge Bunton.
This particular defendant had the morals of an alley cat, in Judge
Bunton's words. But it wouldn't matter if he was the most upstanding
Baptist in town, I still would be in favor of a stiff sentence. We can't
go on letting drugs be trucked into our country and fed to our children.
It's ruining our society from top to bottom.
Sure, the drug dealers couldn't operate if nobody bought their poison.
So blame the users. That's true. The only way to stop drug smuggling is
to dry up the market. Do you have some ideas how that can be
Probably all of us realize the place to start is at home. If our
children know they are loved and are important to the family, to their
neighbors and friends - and to society in general - they are less likely
to need a drug or alcohol prop for their ego.
But it's so easy to talk a child into doing something others are doing.
Just make him think he will be laughed at if he refuses to participate,
and more often than not, you have him hooked. That's how I got started
on cigarettes, and it became an addiction that was hard to shake loose
I've read of upstanding people who had no need for drugs, but took just
one puff, one sniff or one pill and found themselves wanting more. In
the end, the drugs took over their lives and ruined them. Illegal drugs
are powerful. That's why they are illegal - and so addictive.
Yes, we should do everything in our power to keep others from abusing
drugs. I happen to believe the positive approach is more effective than
threat of punishment. "Love your neighbor as yourself" is the best
advice anyone could give.
"Do not love the world or anything in the world...For everything in the
world - the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the
boasting of what he has and does - comes not from the Father but from
Peggy McCracken is an Enterprise writer and editor whose column appears
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In obtaining a reprieve for Amtrak's Texas Eagle, Sen. Kay Bailey
Hutchison has won a victory. Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio and various
Central and East Texas communities have been well served by her efforts.
But in spurring a larger national debate over the future role of rail
passenger service on the nation's transportation system, she has done
something equally important.
Because Congress is drastically cutting subsidies to the nation's
passenger rail service. Amtrak is being forced to do more with less. And
when it can't deliver, it must do with less. The decision by
congressional conferees to permit Texas to use funds from the Congestion
Management and Air Quality Account to finance the Eagle until the
Legislature can meet is a reasonable compromise. But regardless of
whether the Legislature votes to provide Amtrak with subsidies, the
nation needs a thorough debate on the future of rail passenger service.
Still, there is a serious question as to whether Amtrak or Congress has
really thought through the consequences of axing rail service such as
the Texas Eagle.
In terms of environmental costs, for example, what would be the impact
of less passenger rail service, or the failure to develop more of it? If
expanding railroad passenger service is later deemed necessary, what
will be the cost of overhauling rail infrastructure then as opposed to
maintaining it now?
Critics are alleging that Sen. Hutchison wants to save tax money and
reduce government, on the one hand, even as she selfishly fights when
budget cutting decisions affect her constituents. That's unfair. While
the critics have a right to cite the enormous passenger demand in the
nation's Northeast corridor as compared to the route less traveled from
St. Louis to San Antonio, their argument that all Amtrak decisions
should be made on the basis of free-market considerations alone is
simplistic. For example, user fees on the nation's highways pay for only
about two-thirds of maintenance costs, with taxpayers paying the
remaining $30 billion. Should we stop paying taxes for highways in the
name of budgetary restraint? North Texans are still paying off bonds
relating to the construction of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.
Should we overlook the enormous economic benefits that D/FW has bestowed
upon the entire region?
In truth, intermodal connections that will benefit the greatest number
of people at the lowest cost is what the future of transportation in
America is all about. But if accountants, demagogues and ideologues
prevail in their plan to kill rail passenger service such as the Texas
Eagle, the future may leave America behind.
The Dallas Morning News
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Tensions between the United States and Iraq have once again heightened
because of alleged violations of agreements that ended the Persian Gulf
President Clinton has already sent strong messages via Cruise Missiles
that these infractions will not be tolerated. Saddam Hussein continues
to thumb his nose at the United States and the United Nations.
Now, Clinton is reinforcing military manpower and equipment in the
Persian Gulf region in what appears to be preparation for an all out
assault by air against Hussein.
Hindsight is always 20/20 but we should lament the fact that Hussein
was not removed from power before the Gulf War was ended. There has been
nothing but tension since that time and the situation will probably not
get any better until Hussein is out of power.
Exactly how that will be achieved remains to be seen. The U.S. has
attempted to back coup attempts but those have failed. It would seem our
efforts are directed at getting the people tired of all the problems
caused by the embargo of Iraq to the point where they will overthrown
No one knows if those tactics will work but in the meantime, the whole
effort is proving costly to the U.S., not only in money and manpower but
international irestige for saber rattling and being a bully. We've
either got to win the fight or give it up.
Memories of Vietnam keep popping into our head as this saga continues.
All of this also looks a lot like our failed policies involving Cuba.
Must we continue to repeat our past mistakes?
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