Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Soapbox

Beivenidos a Realidad!
By Joe Shehan

In Saturday’s Dallas Morning News, the DMN chose their Texan of the year. Instead of deciding on an actual Texan they went the way of Time Magazine and chose something inane…the Illegal Immigrant! So, yes fair reader the illegal immigrant is the only Texan this year worthy of our gratitude and praise. It does not come as any surprise to the Texas Watchman that the DMN would find some counter-culture representative to honor, but I more expected Molly Ivins (who passed away this year) than The Illegal Immigrant! Yet again the Dallas Morning News shows its colors, and takes one more step towards being as pertinent as the Star-Telegram.

Illegal immigration is a real problem in this country. Whether it shows our inability to guard our own borders, or it reminds us all of the actual strain it puts on our economy, it is a problem that must be addressed. Yet, how can the civil discourse that needs to take place happen when the few news outlets we rely on to tell the story accurately and unbiased honor criminals and reveal their bias towards such a hot button issue? It’s hard enough getting positive stories out of Iraq, but now the DMN is shilling for illegals too.

I am a third generation American. I have grown up with the stories of signs that read “no Irish need apply”. What makes my story different is my grandparents came here with the permission of the American government, and still suffered discrimination. Many on the left and in the illegals’ camp want to paint those who do not support illegal immigration as xenophobes. This might be true if the bulk of us were against all immigrants, but we aren’t. Those we are against are the individuals who seek to break our laws to profit themselves. If they were citizens we would be throwing them in jail, but because they are the cheap labor greedy business owners desire, we look the other way.

It is time to understand that people who want to return illegal immigrants back to their country of origin do not hate these people, they are simply impassioned by the government’s inability and unwillingness to do what is necessary to stem the tide of illegals into this country. These people are also tired of hearing stories of how illegals would have starved if they stayed back in their country, but yeta majority saved $1000 to pay the coyote to get them here. I know that $1000 is not a lot of money, but in Mexico that can feed a family for months.

Granted the immigration process is convoluted and antiquated. I can admit that, but until we can control the tide of people getting in it is going to be harder to fix. We need greater border protection and enforcement. We need greater prosecution against employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. Cities such as Irving and other towns in Arizona have taken such measures, and have seen the number of illegals diminish almost over night. Their economies have not suffered because of it, and their crime has overwhelming gone down as well. Perhaps in this debate we should be focused on what betters the whole of society, than an important voting block during an election year.

Immigration has always been a hot button issue for this country, especially during economically unsure times. If it’s not the Mexicans, it was the Chinese. If it’s not the Irish, it was Italians. America has had its fair share of xenophobic jerks portraying their bigoted hatred as patriotism, but I do not believe this is the case this time. In the above immigration stories these people came here legally, and were brought here because they were cheap labor and needed work. Concerned Americans today could care less about the race of the individual, but care about their legal status. Yes, many people assume that a person of brown skin and a Hispanic last name may be illegal, but that comes from their own ignorance of the person in question, and that the overwhelming majority of the people who are illegal originate from Latin America.

The real issue here is that everyone is so worked up over this issue that we are talking past each other. Granted, some heated words and some hard truths need to be said, but the debate should not be childish. We need to look long and hard at this issue, and decide what the best course of action for all Americans should be. Compromises need to be made, and there will need to be a willingness by both sides to give up ground to find a real solution. It may take years to fix the problem, but then fixing the problem would be worth the wait. Remember it took Thomas Edison 2000 prototypes before he created 1 incandescent light bulb.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Soapbox

North Texas’ Representatives during 2007:
Dr. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (TX-26)
By Joe Shehan

The end of the first session of the 110th Congress is here. While under the leadership of the Democratic party and the first woman Speaker of the House, the U.S. Congress has received the lowest ranking in its’ history. Even rank and file Democrats are disgusted with this generation of Democratic leadership, however, wanting to dedicate time to this topic in another column, I would like to take a look at the local representatives in this column, and see if they were really worth sending back to another term in office. Therefore, I choose to start with U.S. Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. Republican, representing the 26th district of Texas.

For full disclosure it is important for you to know that I spent the last year working for Dr. Burgess in D.C. Now lets see what he has done.

During the first session of the 110th Congress, Dr. Burgess introduced 20 bills and 4 amendments for consideration, and missed very few votes on the floor and in committee. Of the bills introduced, the majority dealt with healthcare and health related issues ranging from physician reimbursement (H.R. 2585) to a fix for the current SCHIP bill (H.R. 1013). Congressman Burgess introduced legislation that would help raise funds for Veterans’ Healthcare through a Veterans’ postal stamp (H.R. 4116), and Dr. Burgess introduced legislation that would enact the Flat Tax (H.R. 1040), which would revolutionize the way taxes are collected, and would lessen the tax burden on the American people.

As you can see Congressman Burgess has been busy these last twelve months trying to create legislation that helps the American people and the people of North Texas. That being said, one piece of legislation that stands out to me is his most recent introduction; H.R. 4190, which amends title 5, U.S.C., to exclude Members of Congress from the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program. This legislation most likely has no hope of getting out of committee or even becoming law, but it is rooted in a genuine desire to force the hand of Congress to do something real to fix healthcare in this country.

Now for those of you out there who would like to use your tired rhetoric and accuse Congressman Burgess of doing nothing while in Congress, the above simply dispels these accusations. You can also look up the following link to see for yourselves.

Representative Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (TX-26) serves is district with distinction and grace. When uninformed constituents and ignorant, partisan bloggers began to attack him over SCHIP, Dr. Burgess took his case to the people of is district. He also, sat down at the table with the Democrats to try to reach a compromise. This was something that ate up a lot of his time, created great stress for him and his office, and bore very little fruit if any at all, but because of his desire to best serve the people of the 26th District he did it.

In an antagonistic Congress, where many Republicans flew the coop by retiring, Congressman Burgess stood up, worked hard for his district, and deserves the gratitude of those who are able to give it. You may not agree with his platform, or even agree with every vote Dr. Burgess casts, but the one thing you can’t say is he does not work hard for Texas 26. Congressman Burgess deserves two more years.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Pulpit

Christmas Happiness from the Dumps.

By Pastor Troy Brewer

About ten years ago I made my first trip to the border and across into the trash dumps of Matamoros. It was a lot like going to the moon for me. Anytime you get out of your box you are likely to hear God speak to your heart in a profound way. It tends to be dangerous territory because when you really hook up with the heart of God, you tend to get changed. I have discovered Jesus never leaves me the same way He finds me.

I had seen things on TV. I had an idea of what to expect, but I was completely unprepared for the effect it would have on me personally. I went to Mexico and came back completely different. The impact of those beautiful people in that terrible place was so strong that in some ways it defines me today. A lot of the ways I think and deal with life’s issues, the Lord taught me from a trash-dump pulpit. I still go back there four or five time a year. It’s something like another semester in Brewer’s theological seminary.

Planes and Trains

It’s not the traveling part that changed me. Yes I’m a gringo, but hardly a greenhorn. I’ve been to India twice, Uganda four times, all over Central America and even made an illegal missionary trip to Cuba. The trips we take tend to be rugged, raw and off the beaten path. Always on the bad part of town.

Still traveling has its perks. I’ve prayed at the wall in Jerusalem, suffered for Jesus from hammocks on the Caribbean and had the high honor of addressing the King in his actual palace at Kampala. I have had just as great an honor in hugging leprosy victims at a colony in Asia. It’s been awesome.

I’ve been so sick in Nicaragua that the locals put me in a 50-gallon oil drum full of water to cool my fever down. I’ve been so pampered I’ve eaten steak from first class on Singapore Airlines with a ticket I didn’t even pay for.

I’ve seen little kids in East Africa playing with a deadly black mamba snake and two men fight to the death with machetes for money in Cuba. I have actually witnessed Muslim rebels coming into Western Uganda from Congo and seen the village after they got through with it. I’ve also seen people have so much mercy and compassion it defies explanation.

My son and I were robbed in a taxi in Bombay. I have protested anti-American protesters in downtown London and dawned a kilt in Scotland. When my wife and I were offered marijuana in Jamaica, I said, “No thanks brother, we are Christians.” The drug dealer smiled, gave me a big hug and said, “Yo mon, I am too!” He promised me the “weed of wisdom” would help me receive a higher revelation.

That’s just scratching the surface so when I say the Matamoros dump had a profound effect on me its not because I don’t get out much. In fact, I have been back to the dumps nearly sixty times since then, taken hundreds of people with me and nearly half a million pounds of food. It affects me because I want it to. Matamoros makes my priorities rightly align. It makes me realize how privileged I really am.

A Higher Education

Last week, we took 2,200 backpacks and tote bags stuffed full of toys to the kids in Brownsville (TX), Matamoros (Mexico) and yes, even to the city dump. The advantage of loving on kids and giving things away is one of the greatest gifts God has personally given me. My wife and I not only take a bunch of crazy people from the church down there but we always take our kids with us too. The impact it has made on them has been just as incredible.

This Christmas we will be in our little house on our little spot in Johnson County, Texas. We will have just come back from another experience in the trash dump of a major Mexican city. We will know we are blessed. We will know life is special and we will know that God’s goodness is overwhelming.

We won’t have an exuberant amount of gifts to give each other because we spent it all on our trip. But what we will have is happiness and appreciation. Sometimes happiness is wanting what you already have. I learned that in the dump.

Merry Christmas friends and may you be blessed with a Christmas of wanting what you already have.

Psalms 63:5 - "You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise you with songs of joy." (N.L.V.)

Pastor Troy Brewer is pastor of Open Door Ministries in Joshua, Texas. he is also the author of the Fresh from the Brewer Column and blog.

The Soapbox

Back in God’s Country!
By Joe Shehan

I have always said that there is nothing like the Texas sky. Growing up just outside Ft. Worth, I had a fort that I would climb to the top of and lay for hours looking at the bright blue sky. Well gentle reader, for the last year I have been wonderfully serving my country in Washington, D.C. and have not been able to see the Texas sky and I missed it dearly. Well, my family and I have returned to Texas (God’s Country) to stay, and the beautiful Texas Sky was there to great us as we crossed the border from Arkansas into Texas.

The title of this blog is called the Texas Watchtower and not the American Watchtower, because of my love for this state. For too long now the liberals have had dominance over the North Texas Blog-o-sphere for far too long. It is my goal to provide quality analysis and opinion of what is going on politically and socially in the North Texas region as well as in the country.

Its good to be back, and I am ready, and my friends are ready to take on the liberal establishment, and provide you with the other side –and more often than not the true side- of the story.

Friday, December 7, 2007

The Pulpit

The Gift That Keeps On Giving
By Pastor Troy Brewer

I write this sip of flavored wisdom on my birthday. I know its later than December 6th when you read this but its takes the Brewer a little more than a week to grind his column, but please feel free to send gifts.

December 6th is not only known for the glorious day God blessed the world with my 3 pounds of splendor (my how I’ve grown since then) but it is also famous for being known as the day America got drunk. About 30 years before I was born, prohibition ended on December 5th and most of America went to have a legal drink on the next day. I think God has a big sense of humor about a lot things and having me born on that day is somehow poetic. I have probably driven several people to drinking. Sorry, but still feel free to send gifts.

Kill the Grinch

The whole world is about to celebrate the birthday of the greatest troublemaker and peace giver ever seen. Christmas might have an X in the name of your holiday but you probably are still going to give or get a gift or two. The whole gift-giving thing goes back to the original scene. Wise men from the east of Israel came to Bethlehem with three kinds of gifts that would bank role Mary and Joseph on their exiled trip to Egypt.

If you look at those three gifts in the book of Matthew, we discover an important, yet often-overlooked, theological fact; in this account, there is no mention of wrapping paper.
If there had been wrapping paper, Matthew would have said, "And lo, the gifts were encompassed about with 7 square cubits of paper. The paper was covered within and without with pictures of Frosty, a man of snow.

Joseph purposed in his heart to cast the paper into the barrel of refuse, but Mary saith unto him, ‘Cease man. Thou shalt not. For Mary had purposed in heart that the paper should be set-aside for future generations, and Joseph didst roll his eyeballs at the wonder of his wife. It came to pass that the babe was more interested in the paper than the frankincense.”

…But these words do not appear in the Bible, which means that the very first Christmas gifts were NOT wrapped. This is because the people giving those gifts had two important characteristics: 1. They were wise. 2. They were men not women.

Men are not big gift wrappers. Men do not understand the point of putting paper on a gift just so somebody else can tear it off. You can tell when I have wrapped a gift because it’s either in a hefty bag with a bow on it or it looks like a giant spitball.

For some reason, I can never completely wrap a gift. I can take a gift the size of a deck of cards and put it the exact center of a section of wrapping paper the size of a rodeo arena but when I am done folding and taping, you can still see a piece of the gift poking out.

On the other hand, if you give my wife a 12-inch square of wrapping paper, she can wrap a C-130 cargo plane. My stepmother, like many women, actually likes wrapping things. If she gives you a gift that requires batteries, she wraps the batteries separately, which to me is bordering on mental illness.

Roll Your Own

The editors of Woman's Day magazine recently ran an item on how to make your own wrapping paper by printing a design on it with an apple sliced in half horizontally and dipped in a mixture of food coloring and liquid starch. Those people are smoking crack and need to get a job!
Remember that the important thing is not what you give, or even how you wrap it. The important thing, during this very special time of year, is that you save the receipt. Because most of us knucklehead men don’t have since when it comes to buying gifts anyway.

I find that Jesus Christ, who the Bible calls the unspeakable gift, does tend to come gift-wrapped. Part of the journey of Christianity is about discovery and revelation. Jesus Christ is not the guy that lives in the building with a big steeple on it, take that wrapper off and you discover He’s the God that lives with you in your living room even when its messy. He loves it when we unwrap him from religion and our pain and see him for who he really is. Yes wise men and girls still seek him and yes, incredibly blessed people still receive Him for the gift He really is.

Unwrapping Jesus as a gift is not a one-time thing. God’s goodness towards us is ongoing and never ending. It’s a progressive journey into an inheritance that is so awesome it will take an eternity for us to unwrap it. Keep unwrapping guys, and see Him this season in a way you’ve seen him before.

"Thanks be unto God for his UNSPEAKABLE gift.''--II Cor. 9:15

Pastor Troy "The Brewer" Brewer is Senior Pastor and Founder of Open Door Ministries in Joshua, Texas. To contact The Brewer, please email us at

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Soapbox

Doubleheader: Give Me Energy or Give Me…Death?
By Joe Shehan

Today, December 6, 2007 the Congress is arguing the merits and problems of the current Energy Bill that has been slowly making its way to a vote. Not being well versed in the ins and outs of the very complex piece of legislation, I can assure it does nothing that needs to be done to bring immediate relief to average Americans.

Gas prices hovering above $3 a gallon and actually higher than $4 a gallon in California and other states should be an absolute tragedy to anyone who wears the Congressional lapel pin, yet many on the left side of the aisle seem to want to pass the buck off to the energy companies. Like every other major piece of legislation that has been brought to the floor for a vote, the Majority has kept the Minority out of the debate. The bill that is on the House floor was written and pushed through the committee by the Majority.

The real solutions are being ignored for coercive measures that are only supported by radicals that make up the base of the Democratic Party. Higher Taxes and regulations on the energy/oil companies do nothing to lower prices, and it actually increases costs to the consumer. What needs to happen is a gradual transition to renewable fuels, but immediate exploration for local energy sources that can be utilized to help offset the costs now.

When we can keep cars on the road, and families are able to get to work and school, then we can focus on making sure their vehicles can go further on a tank of gas or ethanol or a fuel cell. When people are able to heat their homes for the winter and still by gifts for Christmas or even food for the table, then we can focus on cleaner burning coal or alternative fuels.

Needs should be more important than dreams.

Doubleheader: What about the holy underwear?

Governor Mitt Romney (R- MA) gave a well received speech today at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas. The topic of the speech: religion and the presidency. Responding to criticizisms of his faith in Mormonism, Gov. Romney gave a speech in where he declared that he would never “allow the doctrines of any faith” overrule the laws of the land. He was also very adamant about religion not being a litmus test for presidents. Overall the speech was very moving, but still lacked the convictions of a person seeking the highest elected office in the land.

As a Christian, and a non-denominationalist, I agree with Gov. Romney that the constitution guarantees that a religious litmus test will ever be used for any elected office, but I do not appreciate a man running as a “conservative Christian” criticizing (either directly or indirectly) other people who question his beliefs in an extreme branch of the Christian faith. Many Christians question any “Christian” denomination which places its doctrinal documents over the word of God, and they question a denomination that is so secretive of their beliefs that many Christians belief Mormonism is a cult. However, always wanting to give credit where credit is due, I applaud Gov. Romney for taking a stand and defending his beliefs, but his beliefs are exactly what many Christians are afraid of.

Gov. Romney’s record of flip flopping on the pro-life issue is exactly what I am talking about. In his speech he said he would never put the doctrine of any religion above the laws of the land. Much of the opposition to the pro-life movement says that our beliefs are based on our religion. Well, that completely forgets that there are agnostic and atheists who do not support abortion, but this doesn’t make my point. My point is that as of right now the “laws of the land” say that the murder of unborn children is lawful, and he has said his Christian faith says that abortion is against the law of God. So, if he supports the overturn of Row v. Wade is he not putting his doctrine over the law of the land? Gov. Romney has often been quoted as saying his religion does not affect his decision making, and he has been accused that that means his religion is not important too him. I have to agree with this statement.

If you are devoutly religious, your religion forms how you view the world, thus it influences the decisions you make. If you are not devoutly religious, then you are not as impacted by the doctrines and mores of your faith, and then you could say “it does not affect my decision making process”. However if this is true, then you should not be advertising yourself as a devout believer.

If Governor Romney believes what he said today, then his platform is very similar to another Massachusetts official who ran for president and tried to pass himself off as something he was not.

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Soapbox

Choose Who You Want; Huck’s My Guy!
By Joe Shehan

In the spirit of full disclosure I do not hide my support for Governor Mike Huckabee (R-Arkansas) for President of the United States. The only candidate that I would ever try to discourage any reader of the Watchtower from voting for would have a “D” after their name, that being said, I personally believe that Gov. Huckabee is the best choice out of the entire field of eight Republican Primary candidates.

There are many issues that the candidates must take a position on, and it would be impossible for a singular candidate to take the right position on all of them for every person in this country. Many in the current field of Republican candidates have tried to be everyone’s candidate, and they come across as wishy-washy and fake. Gov. Huckabee has not wavered on any of his issues. Yet, he still finds that he is being attacked by individuals in his own party.

Huckabee was quoted as saying he had an old seminary professor who used to tell him, “If you are getting kicked in the butt you must be in the lead,” and this is quickly becoming reality for Gov. Huckabee. The political punditry and talk radio are beginning their investigations into the former Governor, but are falling short of anything better than conjecture and innuendo. Taking what a candidate says out of proportion does not good reporting make.

Much of the problems many pundits and those in talk radio have with Governor Huckabee come from two areas: Tax Reform and Immigration. On the topic of Tax Reform many anti-Huckabee pundits site his raising taxes in Arkansas. Close examination of Governor Huckabee’s record would show that many of the tax hikes were voted into law by the people of Arkansas, and as the representative of the Arkansasian people he had to sign the legislation into law. Also one would discover that he lowered the overall tax burden for the Arkansasian people, and had a multi-billion dollar surplus when he left. You ask anyone in Arkansas about Governor Huckabee, they will tell you he did a lot to fix the infrastructure of his state.

Immigration proving to be the most contentious issue in this country since social security reform has proven to be, yet again, a stumbling block for another qualified candidate. Much of the reason Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) is not the front runner for the GOP nomination (which he was at the beginning of this year) is Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Governor Huckabee, may soon realize that those individuals who have taken a singular opinion on this issue, are a force to be reckoned with.

The same agitators who caused the Senate phone banks to shut down earlier this year have set their eyes on the Governor of Arkansas. Why? Because Gov. Huckabee defends a program which would allow children from illegal immigrants to apply for a state scholarship to go to school, and that is simply unacceptable for them. However, many misunderstand the program and accuse Gov. Huckabee of setting preferential treatment for the children of illegal immigrants, and political pundits and talk show radio hosts do not correct the record when this accusation is made. The truth is that every child, no matter of immigration status, is held to the same standard as every other student during selection. The only difference is that if a child of an illegal is selected, that child must complete citizenship classes and become a citizen before they graduate or face having to pay the money back. This seems fair and reasonable.

What these issues really boil down to is fiscal responsibility or money. Fiscal conservatives have always been at odds with social conservatives, because of the simple issue of spending. People who identify themselves solely as a social conservative tend to be a bit moderate when it comes to spending. However, those who call themselves solely fiscal conservatives desire very limited government and minimal taxation and minimal spending. Yet, what both fail to realize is that we are living in a very complex world, and a little bit of both ideologies is what’s needed.

Many Americans have been raised that the government is here to help them. They live their daily lives dependent on the government for assistance. To suddenly take that assistance away leaves a vacuum that will be difficult to fill. Yet, if this country continues to spend money at its current rate, we will suffer much of the same recession postwar Germany experienced pre-Hitler. What is needed is a balanced approach to spending and entitlement programs that leads to a gradual phase out of the entitlement system. This is the root of many of the programs Gov. Huckabee supports.

I know that if the Governor’s record is closely examined and hyperbole is left at the door, that many Americans will realize that Mike Huckabee is the man for the job. In a time of severe partisan divide in this country we do not need another candidate that will divide us, but we need one that will unite us. Governor Mike Huckabee seems to be the only candidate right now who speaks to all of America, and has those on both sides of the aisle eager to listen.