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June 1st, 2017 under West Texas Talk


Dear Fellow Texans:

On Memorial Day, we honor the servicemen and women who have given their lives in defense of this country.

Today we remember heroes like Staff Sergeant Michael Cinco, a Mercedes, Texas native assigned to the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, 11th Field Investigations Squadron at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph. Sgt. Cinco enlisted after marrying his high school sweetheart, and he served his nation valiantly for 10 years before a suicide bomber ended his life outside Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. He is fondly remembered by family and friends as an eternal optimist who spent his 27 years trying to make others smile.

Sgt. Cinco devoted his life to defending his fellow countrymen; his devotion knows no bounds.

His story represents just one of many members of the military who valiantly made the ultimate sacrifice through their service.  Today we have the opportunity to reflect on the selflessness and dedication that Sgt. Cinco and so many others exhibited while wearing our nation’s uniform.

As we remember the fallen servicemen and women of the U.S. Armed Forces today, I ask you to join me in thanking the families of the fallen who have the hardest job of all in supporting the service of their loved ones and bearing the burden of their loved ones’ sacrifice.

Today on Memorial Day, and on every day of the year, may God bless all our fallen servicemen and women, and their loving families, and may He continue to bless the United States of America.


U.S. Senator John Cornyn

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While on a visit to Alpine and the Big Bend in April I purchased at the Big Bend Saddlery a book entitled, ‘Beneath the Window.’ It describes the early ranch life in the Big Bend before it became a national park.

Written by Patricia Wilson Clothier, it is a superior read. Every page is amazing, probably because I knew so many of the real life characters in the book: Dr. Bill Lockhart of his wife Lora Bell of Alpine, Dr. Searls of Marfa and school teachers Elizabeth Bledsoe and Melvin P. Slover are only a few of the hundreds of names weaved into this true history written about the Big Bend and its movie-like surrounding area. What the pioneering ranch families in that part of desolate Texas had to go through in ‘the old days’ to make it all work is incredibly interesting reading.

If you have family or friends who’ve ever lived in Alpine, Marfa, Presidio, Terlingua, Big Bend, Marathon, Sanderson, Fort Davis, or any part of this desert land that backs up to Mexico, you will want to read this book.

The only drawback was when the book referred to the “pioneer days,” which I fondly remember as my childhood. When I mentioned this point to my brother, Steve Neu, he replied, “Well, you did graduate from Alpine High School 50 years ago this month.” Aren’t brothers wonderful? Enjoy the book. It is top shelf reading.

Cynthia Neu McCluskey

Alpine High School class of 1967

Washington, D.C.

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I recently heard an interview with a scholar of Johns Hopkins University and the Naval War College who was describing the conditions that always go into defining what is civil war, and are seen in every instance of it throughout history from ancient Rome to modern times. His name was Michael Vlahos, I don’t know him… interviewed by John Bachelor.

Anyway, he laid it out in several points and these are seen happening today, essentially these:

1) civil wars are always existential and are always welcomed.

2) all civil wars are about who holds legitimacy, about who owns virtue, about who will own what is right and true.

3) And so, a civil war becomes a fight about who owns the right to define how you should think and believe.

4) And further, both sides demand the submission of the other to their own vision, and their own definition of virtue and that this Submission is the only thing that will satisfy.

Hence, you can see it in Lincoln declaring the Emancipation Proclamation which codifies into law a demand that requires submission to it. And the South refused its legitimacy.

5) And so then, you come to THE defining moment, which occurs when one side stands up and says, I will not submit. This we see happening today. And at high levels.  And thus, at this point it always becomes a matter of when, and who, makes the first violent move. There are groups in our country fomenting this now. We’ve all seen it.

We have a population in our country now declaring illegitimacy in a national election, holding that it has bestowed power by underhanded means, such as by foreign intervention.. or by… well.., fill in the blanks. and thus it does not deserve to be obeyed and should be morally rejected, should be “resisted,” subjected to a refusal by all to submit to it, should be actively opposed, and the elected body should be removed from office.

So, here then is the definition of civil war in our modern time, right here before us, because we seldom see such refusal to submit to an election.  And you know, this insistence on who holds the “virtue” really explains why a national press might purposely skew and bias it’s own reporting by common tactics of accentuation or selectivity or innuendo and hint of the unnamed “official.”  The years of press reporting during Lincoln’s time were closely reflective of what we have today.  Even Grant saw it during the civil war where the northern press could be as biased against the nationalist armies’ effectiveness in the field and the acts of its generals as was the southern press (see his Memoirs). And of course, the southern press painted the confederate armies in glowing terms of fantasy.  So now, it only remains to be seen where this all goes today because this confict is occuring in our highest levels of government and its entrenched bureaucracies.  We are not pulling together; we are fighting now and declaiming legitimacy.  History tells us to expect no submission once refusals are declared.

And worse, it turns out that civil wars are the most horrendous of all conflicts because they bring a sense of brother against brother, friend turned to foe, and foes inside families. It is a “battle of intimates” as Bachelor put it, which brings up the worst kinds of passions as they involve a deep sense of betrayal amongst the once-beloved.  Add to this the requirement of submission, and terrible things result. They always have.  It is worse than war against foreign powers for what this does internally to a nation, to a people. You would think it inconscionable, but observations prove it immune to true conscience.

I can see the veracity of this assessment from my own readings of history and my own experiences of my particular generation, who’s religious fervor in politics is like a poisoin in my view, and is too often based on half-formed ideals and feel-good cliches and commonly accepted memes built on limited evidence passing as thorough “truth.”  Such then fuels the moral outrage that we can see even here all aroud us, and it is fed and fomented from the highest levels, and can easily result in violence against whomever disagrees, against whoever doesn’t drink the correct koolaid.  This today has spawned largely out my generation (post WWII) leading this present clash and I still have so little regard for such misguided zeal and superficial intelligence.  I would hope a calming voice might rise from my children’s generation, but really, in politics there seems little hope. There seems only ambition and one koolaid or another.

The present state is something not seen in over a century and it has dangerously hatched around us.  We have turned now onto a different track. And history asks, how is there ever a turning back without a settlement in blood?  That’s the sorry state we find ourselves in today.

Jay Chandler


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Our ‘Fearless Leader’ has returned home from his world tour having exited the U.S. from the agreement with almost 200 countries on limiting global warming.

I am very concerned about the many challenges that face our country and the world, but none is more important than climate change. Lack of action on climate change causes damage that is cumulative and largely irreversible within our lifetime. I could elaborate at some length about the prospective and time frame for the future in this regard but suffice to say that this is much in the news these days.

My concern is for our children and grandchildren. We will leave an unforgiveable and irreparable legacy if we do not face up to global warming now.

Ken Whitley


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