Remember when war protests down in Crawford were as common as George W. Bush mispronouncing words like “nucular” and “subliminibal?” Now two of those protesters have been vindicated after a three-and-a-half-year court battle over their arrest in 2005, bringing back vivid memories of our 43rd president’s controversial tenure and how he’d retreat to his rainch and “cut brush” whenever anyone asked him tough questions.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled April 22 that Oklahoma retiree Hiram Myers and Austin psychologist Emily Hardy did not obstruct a highway while pitching tents in a roadside ditch as part of Cindy Sheehan’s
anti-war demonstrations.

Myers said he was always confident that the initial conviction (and subsequent $150 fine) would be overturned, in a case that he called a “gross violation of First Amendment rights” and “window dressing for the president and the radical right.”

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He’s a fervent supporter of the Peace House, the hippie hub founded in Crawford in 2003 to be “the peace movement’s powerful voice for justice,” according to its web site. With Crawford’s most famous resident having moved to Dallas, things have quieted down for the Peace House, though a celebration of its anniversary is planned in August.

As for the 77-year-old Myers, his days of protesting may not be over. Although the Obama administration has “kind of taken all the starch out of the protest movement,” he said, he’s considering a trip to Washington, D.C., to join healthcare reform advocates in disrupting Senate hearings on that topic.

Really, though, how can a visit to the marble halls of our nation’s capital compete with pitching a tent in a Texas ditch? Come to think of it, the population of snakes and other crawly things may be about the same.

Meanwhile, Sheehan is still Bush-whacking – she and a few dozen protesters gathered Monday in Bush’s new North Dallas neighborhood and encouraged the former president to turn himself in for crimes against humanity, not to mention the dictionary.


Gas Boom?

Want a quick study on how two supposedly unbiased and open-minded newspapers approach a single story? Take the small earthquakes that hit Cleburne recently.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram (representing a city that’s raking in money while selling its soul to the oil and gas industry) never mentioned in its story the possibility of the quakes and gas drilling being related.

The Dallas Morning News (representing a city that isn’t benefiting much from the Barnett Shale) featured a front-page story under the headline, “Quakes probably related to gas drilling, scientist says.” It quoted the senior research scientist at the Institute for Geophysics at the University of Texas at Austin, described as “the state’s leading expert on earthquakes.”

Disputing that point of view was John Breyer, professor of geology at – where else? – Texas Christian University, right here in Fort Worth. “Sometimes these things just happen,” he said, “these things” being three earthquakes in the span of six days in a city that has never recorded a tremor previously but where 200 gas wells have been drilled in recent years and which is surrounded by 1,000 other wells in drill-crazy Johnson County.

On the positive side, Cleburne mayor Ted Reynolds said the city will investigate what caused the tremors. “We would be negligent if we didn’t,” he said.

Compare that to Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief, who owes his vast wealth to oil and gas, votes regularly on oil and gas issues, and has succeeded in preventing any realistic studies being done about urban drilling’s impact on Cowtown.


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