Essays/Opinion

Recent Articles

Disney Becomes the “Bully” of Theaters, and Consumers

Disney was long known as the home of Mickey Mouse, Donald, and an assortment of other characters created inside the gates of the Disney Empire.  Recently, that has changed and Disney has expanded its reach beyond characters they created and into characters that once operated independently or within another company.  Now Disney is using their ownership rights to bully the public and theaters into bending to Disney control. With the pending release of Star Wars, Disney is bullying theaters by requiring them  to show Star Wars for 4 weeks no matter if it stinks or is a hit.  Disney is further taking 70% off the top in sales, an increased amount which will hurt smaller mom and pop theaters which may have only have one screen.  Smaller theaters depend on more than one movie to be shown in a month, however, with Disney that smaller theater may be penalized an extra 5%. Disney owns Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and they make own their movies.   Soon they will require viewers to watch their “pay to view all” channel as well where Disney, Star Wars, Marvel, DC, etc. will be exclusively shown.  It appears they want to monopolize the industry with how long theaters show their movies, prices for tickets, 5% penalties to theaters who do not show their movies for 4 weeks, etc. Consumers might also have noticed when movies first come out on Blu-ray/DVD that there’s not really a “Release” sale anymore.  Disney has shown with Marvel’s Spider-man and DC’s Wonder Woman that the prices were regular price on release.  Movies were running $27.99 or $24.99 and when they finally did go on sale,  the prices were $19.99 or $12.99/$15.99 respectively. Continue Reading →

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Presidential Portrait Still Missing in Federal Courthouse Lobby

Update –  A good friend just contacted me after reading this article and shared an article from another publication stating that the President and Vice President have just released their official portraits.  Thank you for the feedback and thankful for friends taking time to point these things out to me!  
The Texarkana, USA Federal Courthouse is a unique building that sits in both Texas and Arkansas.  The building can be seen on post cards, is a frequent photoshoot site for tourist, and is the location where many U.S. Presidents have spoken going clear back to President Kennedy’s famous speech before his ill-fated trip to Dallas.  Walk inside the doors and, although security concerns have modified the entrance, you can not help but be in awe of the design, the ceilings, the doors, and other significant features leap out at you filled with history.  Walk around the main lobby of the Courthouse, also home to the post office, and you’ll notice the President and Vice-President’s pictures hanging just above the doors as you go out.  They hang there as a reminder that this is a federal building and that they are part of the decor requirements of our federal buildings.  As far as anyone can remember, the President and Vice President has had their portraits in the lobby of the famous Texarkana Courthouse always.  Well, at least until January 20, 2017, when the tradition apparently stopped for some unknown reason. On Inauguration Day 2009, George Bush walked out of the White House in our nation’s symbolic exchange of power and Barack Obama walked into it.  On that day it wasn’t about being Democrat or Republican, it was only about the fact that the President of the United States had served his term, and a new President was now taking office.  On that same day in Federal Courthouses across the land President Bush’s picture came down and President Obama’s was placed on the wall.  In Texarkana, the lobby of the U.S. Courthouse saw the same exchange.  President Obama would go on to serve two terms and on January 20, 2017, like Bush, President Obama would step down as President and hand over the reigns to the new President.  Across the land in Federal Courthouses the exchange of pictures started.  In Texarkana, President Obama’s picture came down, only this time, and perhaps for the first time in the courthouses’ history, no new President’s picture was hung from the old nail over the entrance to the courthouse lobby. Within a few months the Four States News noticed the lack of the President’s picture and an article was published.  Social media stirred with pictures and questions.  Some expressed anger that the picture was not there while others expressed relief as they did not support President Trump.  Through all the questions, nobody seemed to know why the new President’s picture was not hanging in the lobby. A few more months rolled by and rumors regarding there being no official portraits of the President seemed weak at best.  Postal workers stated that they had no control over the pictures.  They noted that the General Service Administration or GSA had oversight and was responsible to hang up all pictures and federal postings. A quick search of the Internet reveled a GSA number for information pertaining to the Federal Courthouse in Texarkana.  After several calls, and no answers, the Four States News opted for the online email site.  It requires a citizen to complete the form, press send and it goes off through the government’s email system.  A sender gets no copy of the email.  Despite sending the email through the government’s site a couple of months ago, there has been no response from the GSA to the Four States News’ inquiry regarding the President and Vice President’s portraits missing. Continue Reading →

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Happy Birthday We’re Increasing Your Premiums to Celebrate!

A few years ago, I reached the awkward age in life when the insurance companies no longer send you a happy birthday card, but instead send you a premium increase to start on or after your next birthday.   Needless to say, I was not happy about my birthday present from the insurance company when it arrived in the form of a letter to increase my cost, but that was to be expected.  This year, my birthday, most fortunate for me, once again rolled around and another letter came from my insurance company.   Much like the letter from the previous year, this one again congratulated me on reaching my milestone in life with a slight premium adjustment.  Naturally, that adjustment was in the upward, or insurance company’s favor. I had just about accepted the change of status that my aging body, which somehow must be breaking my so-called “Non-Profit’s” bank accounts, when I received yet another letter- and yes, my insurance company has a non-profit status.  The Arkansas Legislature, the insurance company blamed them, had given approval for a rate increase.  This letter was dated eight days after my “Birthday Letter” and announced yet another insurance increase.  This time I was mad. I immediately did what any old man my age would do…. I took to social media.  I blasted the insurance company the age increases over the last few years, and then for the update letter of new premiums.  I told them this was ridicules and that my insurance for health had gone up over $100 dollars in just eight days!  That was not to even mention the increase from the previous year.  In our time of social media, the insurance company was quick to respond and offer me the opportunity to speak to a representative if they could call me back.  I agreed to a Monday call. Continue Reading →

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Texarkana Arkansas Mill School Tax Equals NO TAX INCREASE

Texarkana Arkansas Mill School Tax Equals NO TAX INCREASE OR CHANGE But Does Bring in A 6 Million Dollar Partnership With The State

Texarkana, AR- During each election season, someone complains about the tax issue on the Arkansas School Ballots.  Usually during school board elections, you will find the candidates and a tax issue.  Some vote against it simply because they do not want new taxes, and that’s understandable though mistaken.   Others vote for it because they want to see the Texarkana Arkansas School District improve.  Still others refuse to vote either way on it due to not understanding it, not caring about it, or some other reason. Now, here’s the facts – the issue known as 38.90 Mill School Tax is NOT a new tax. It cannot be voted out.  So, a vote of no does not change the tax rate.  Usually a vote for yes does nothing either.  Obscure and sometimes hard to understand laws require the issue of the school tax to remain on the ballot regardless of its status.  The tax has been in place for years and has not increased.   That’s the way things have been…until now. Continue Reading →

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Will The Alamo Fall Twice?

During the Presidential election of 1960, then-Senator John F. Kennedy while campaigning in Texas, made a brief visit to the Alamo. His speech, given in front of the historic mission yielded an iconic photo. Having completed his remarks and pressed for time, JFK reportedly asked San Antonio attorney Maury Maverick, Jr. if there was an exit in the back of the Alamo, to which Maverick replied, “there is no back door, that’s why they were all heroes.”

And so it is, that the Alamo and its remarkable history have been seared into the consciousness of our national character. It is the 19th century’s version of the Spartan 300, who stood defiantly against an overwhelming Persian army. The Alamo story is, in essence, our American Thermopylae, and the lodestar and standard of courage to which our fighting men and women aspire to till this day. Continue Reading →

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Actions and Consequences in Life and Politics

 

Sometimes in life, the actions we take and the relationships we form have consequences that only reveal themselves years later. I was reminded of this recently when I crossed paths with an individual I first met almost 15 years ago. When I was campaigning for my first election as a state representative in 2002, I was active in reaching out to students and asking them to get involved in the political process. Even if they couldn’t vote, these young men and women could knock doors, canvas neighborhoods and make a real impact on the election. My campaign benefitted from the work and energy of a small group of very dedicated student-activists, and they benefitted from making a meaningful connection with the political process. Continue Reading →

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Motel 6, You Might Try Leaving the Light Off

You may remember a commercial where Tom Bodett would proudly announce “We’ll leave the light on for you” to make customers feel at home, but apparently leaving the light on invites another unwanted guest in Livingston, Texas as well.  Imagine slipping into the only room left in town while you’re tired, stressed, and just ready to unwind with your evening meal and catch some reruns of an old television show.  You roll your bag in, set your dinner on the table and flip on the light.  What greets you could easily be a scene from a horror movie for most people.  The room is filled with creatures of an unknown type in the windows, floor, walls, and light fixtures.  You pause just a moment and brace yourself for the onslaught that you are certain will end your life through an unexpected heart attack. Does it all sound like a horror movie?  Well it should because it seemed that way on September 18 as I strolled into the last room of Motel 6 in Livingston, Texas.  The only saving grace, and perhaps the reason I did not succumb to an unexpected heart attack, was the fact that all these little creatures…these bugs…were dead.  They were dead in the window sills, dead behind the door, dead along the edge of the floors and even dead hanging from the walls. I began checking the rest of the room and found a microwave spattered with food on the inside top, a light fixture in the bathroom full of dead bugs, and even a water bottle cap stuck between the mattress and wall which indicated the bed must not have been moved much.  The worst part was that I am confident that the cleaning crews must have seen these bugs since the window curtain was pulled back and clearly revealed a sill covered with bugs. Once I determined there was no bed bugs and there were no other rooms within a fifty-mile radius, I resigned myself that I was going to sleep in the car or the room.  I ended up pulling the sheets down, and sleeping on top of the fitted sheet in my clothing.  I had to leave my shoes on as well since the floor was dotted with little dead bugs. One thing I have learned in the age of the Internet and social media is that major chains look for their hashtag and at symbol’s mentioned.  These chains are especially conscious of Twitter.   I took to my own Twitter account at https://twitter.com/ClintonSThomas and started posting pictures.  By the time I was finished, I had posted twenty-five pictures of the room, and made several comments @motel6 to get their attention or with the #motel6 to get their attention.  Within a short time, I received a tweet back from the fine folks who have assured me they leave the light on for me – that’s apparent by the dead bugs who must have been attracted to the light.  Motel 6 wanted me to contact their customer service number at 1-855-303-0045 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. Eastern time.  It was now 10:30 p.m. Central time. Continue Reading →

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The Outcome of Confederate Statue Hysteria

 

Dallas is now following other city councils as it prepares to remove a Confederate statue at taxpayer’s expense no matter what the taxpayers want.  In bold moves, city and area councils, are deciding that it is in their best interest to ignore the public input, ignore local and national polls, and ignore the high cost of statue removals while pushing ahead with the removal of these statues and monuments.  They are doing this regardless of what the taxpayers want or request, and they are promoting a form of hysteria, filled lies to meet their agenda. National and local polling has found that most people do not want the Confederate statues removed.  African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Caucasian Americans, and many others have spoken up asking such questions as “Why move this statue after a hundred years?” or “The statue is harming nobody, why move it?” or “I’ve never thought about it before, it’s just always been there.  Why move it now?”  At last count, an NBC 5 poll in Dallas online showed 79% thought that the city should not be removing the statue of Robert E. Lee from Lee Park.  21% supported removing it.  Obviously, if this poll was representative of a public vote, the statue would stay; however, the council voted to move the statue, put it in storage, and move it someplace else…..someday. Former Congressman and Conservative speaker Allen West noted on his site (allenbwest.com) that he attended the council meeting.  He points out that the city has a failing pension plan for employees such as police and firefighters, but they still want to spend money removing a statue from 1936.  He also rightfully points out that nobody has ever complained about these statues until the shooting at a church in Charleston, South Carolina.  In a prior post, West stood in front of the statue and stated that as a black man he did not feel the least intimidated by the statue. Arlene Barnum, a descendent of an African American Confederate soldier, passionately plead on social media for the defense of the statue as she has for others.  Several times she challenged those voting to “not use the color of her skin” as an excuse for removal.   She was one of over 70 people who spoke in favor of keeping the Caddo Parrish Confederate Monument in Shreveport, Louisiana recently.  At that time only about 10 people indicated it should be moved.   Ultimately the committee assigned to review it recognized overwhelming support to keep the monument, recommended that it stay, and offered that additional monuments to Reconstruction and Civil Rights should be built as part of a compromise.  The city council, much like the Dallas city council, seemed to refuse to listen and is pushing forward with a vote that will likely force the removal of the statue.  The statue in Shreveport alone could cost taxpayers over a million dollars just to move it and store it, and that does not even count for all the legal battles in Louisiana that will surely be filed once they make the decision.  A quick run through social media reveals hundreds of comments stating the statue should stay.  It has been on-site for well over a hundred years and most people do not seem bothered by it. Dallas, like most other city councils, continues to state that the statues represent white supremacy, slavery, and oppression. Continue Reading →

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Why Trump’s Afghanistan “reversal” is still America First

In February 1989, Soviet General Boris V. Gromov in dramatic fashion, exited his armored vehicle and walked the remaining distance across friendship bridge into Uzbekistan, becoming the last Soviet troop to leave Afghanistan. “There is not a single Soviet soldier or officer left behind me,” said General Gromov, “Our nine-year stay ends with this.” By Christmas 1991, Soviet Veterans of the Afghan war would no longer be Soviets, as the empire collapsed in swift and spectacular fashion, ultimately breaking into 16 separate nations. The loss in Afghanistan was a crushing public relations blow for the Soviet government. The Soviet politicians as well as their citizens suffered a catastrophic loss of faith in their system. Continue Reading →

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Elvis Left The Building Forty Years Ago Today

Forty years have slipped by since Elvis Presley left the building for the last time.  Jimmy Carter was President, and would speak to the nation later in the afternoon about the legend and impact on the country.  Millions of people would flock to Memphis, stand in the August heat, and mourn the man.  At roughly 3:30 p.m. Central Standard Time all three of the major television networks would interrupt their broadcast with the news that “Elvis Presley had died in Memphis, Tennessee at his home, Graceland.”

It seemed like from that moment forward a musical legend would rise to mythical proportions.  Fan clubs would triple overnight, an entire new generation of impersonators would pop up around the world, and a small-town boy from Mississippi would go from stardom to iconic status.  People would continue even to this day to argue that he’s still alive.  Other people would argue that he was killed as part of a mob hit, and still others would argue that he had to go into hiding because of his work with the DEA. Long after Elvis died, his impact on the four states area is still felt and known.  He had been a regular on the Louisiana Hayride show, often to get to that show he would drive down U.S. Highway 67, like other performers of the late 1950s, into Texarkana.  There are reports that he would fill up at a gas station just across the state line where Almost Everything is located today near downtown.  He would then perform at Walnut street on the Arkansas side.  Today there are still stories circulating about the man who would become the King of Rock-n-Roll and his early days in Texarkana.  Highway 67 outside Texarkana has been dubbed “Rock-N-Roll Highway 67” and there several pictures and stories recorded about Elvis in Texarkana. A few years ago, I had the honor of visiting with a friend of mine from Texarkana whose father had been involved with the stage work in downtown Texarkana during those early days when Elvis and other performed.  She and her friends spent time with him between his performances walking the streets from Walnut down through Broad Street.  This friend told me that at one time a group of them were walking down Broad Street when a Cadillac went by them.  Elvis pointed at the car and said, “One day I’m gonna have me one of those and it’s gonna be pink.”  She recalled that she had looked at Elvis and said, “No you’re not.”  As she told the story, she looked up at me and said, “And do you know what?  I’ll be darned if he didn’t go and get one and it was pink!”

Naturally there are hundreds of other stories about Elvis from Texarkana and the surrounding areas, but here’s a few interesting facts forty years later that you may not know about Elvis Presley:

Elvis’ 1972 Hawaii Concert was the first concert to ever be broadcast worldwide by satellite. During the 1972 concert, commentators talked so much that fans around the world heard more of them than they did of Elvis. During that concert a fan gave Elvis a crown. Continue Reading →

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