The Hightower Report
Fake Texans sue 'True Blue' ones; and Ashcroft cracks down on legal, peaceful dissent
THE GENUINE TEXAS ROADHOUSE
It's always a hoot to hear corporate lobbyists wailing to the high heavens about the scourge of "frivolous lawsuits," demanding that Congress bar people from suing them.
But guess who files the biggest number of frivolous lawsuits in America? Corporations! They sue their competitors, consumers, shareholders, critics, the media, public interest groups they'll sue their own momma just to squeeze out another dime.
For an example of litigious corporate absurdity, come to La Vernia, Texas, and hoist a cool one with the good folks who are regulars at the True Blue Texas Roadhouse. Located 25 miles east of San Antonio, this rural bar serves up beer, chips, country music, and genuine Texas atmosphere. It's in a corrugated metal building that used to be a garage. It's the real deal.
But the True Blue Texas Roadhouse has been sued by the corporate lawyers of a national restaurant chain calling itself Texas Roadhouse. This outfit, which operates 165 restaurants in 30 states, wrote to Doug Bode in La Vernia, claiming that Bode's True Blue Texas Roadhouse was violating the chain's trademark name and get this deceiving the consuming public into thinking this little bar in La Vernia is part of the chain.
Now get this: The chain has no Texas roots whatsoever. It began in Indiana and is headquartered in Kentucky. It dresses up its bars with Texas memorabilia, but it's a fake, profiting on the good name and spirit of genuine Texas roadhouses.
"Texas is where we live," says one of Bode's regulars, which is way more than the plastic chain can claim. Bode himself says, "I'm just trying to make a living. For God's sake, I'm a Texas bar. Why can't I use that name?"
Well, why can't he? If you'd like to tell the national chain where to go and tell it to leave La Vernia's genuine Texas Roadhouse alone, call the CEO. His office number is: 502/426-9984.
THE GOVERNMENT'S ASSAULT ON DISSENT
In a moment of theological reflection, Woody Allen once declared: "I believe there is something out there watching us. Unfortunately, it's the government."
Woody's little joke has become today's chilling reality as the Bush-Ashcroft regime has imposed measure after measure of new autocratic police power to keep watch over We the People. All of this has been done under the guise of "fighting terrorists" but the government's focus increasingly is shifting from "them" to "us."
The latest example is the FBI's heavy-handed push to harass, intimidate, and suppress ordinary citizens who seek to protest governmental or corporate policies. Prior to the national conventions of both the Republican and Democratic parties, the so-called "justice" department dispatched federal agents to at least six states to trail and grill potential protesters. As one young protester put it, the government agents were trying "to let us know that, 'hey, we're watching you.'"
This repressive "knock-on-the-door" by authorities is not merely directed at targets known to be plotting criminal activity, but at citizens who were simply planning to attend legitimate protests. Ashcroft himself asserts that these people might, perhaps, possibly could have the potential to do something criminal or that they might, perhaps, possibly could know someone who could do so.
The justice department's infamous office of legal policy okayed this vague, Big Brotherish assault on our individual liberty by declaring that any "chilling" of the right to dissent would be outweighed by the need for order.
Of course, throughout our country's history, from the Red Coats forward, bullying autocrats have always donned the dark cloak of "order" to rationalize their repression. The Bush-Ashcroft use of FBI snoops to intimidate today's dissenters is not about preventing crime, but about preventing protest.
To protest their crude attempt to lock down protest, call the ACLU: 212/549-2500.