Eric Yollick, The Golden Hammer
Hail and farewell.
Three years ago, a person who is the subject of some of the articles in The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper, accused me of having a “puppet master.” That’s a concept he understood, because he was a puppet master himself (and, arguably, continues to be today.)
My answer to him was, “Yes, you’re right. I have a puppet master, actually three of them: John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, and Robert Nozick.”
My problem is that I have read their books, Locke’s Second Treatise of Government, Hobbes’ Leviathan, and Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia, and I actually believed what they wrote. I’d add three other critical works to the group: The Holy Scriptures, Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom, and Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. (Rand has one very critical flaw in her book, which is otherwise starkly accurate.)
In a very gross nutshell, the unifying work is Locke’s Second Treatise, from which I take three basic principles:
- The theory of man’s relationship to government emanates from his relationship to God, explained in The Holy Scriptures.
- Government arose out of the consent of people.
- The consent only went so far, however. The people consented only to a “mutual protective association” (Nozick’s term in his discussion of Locke’s Second Treatise). That “mutual protective association” provides public safety domestically and protects our borders, i.e., law enforcement and national defense. We never consented to anything else, so government beyond those functions is illegitimate and without consent.
Since the third principle implies a problem, I decided in June, 2016, to work on solving the third problem. It’s a real problem.
The problem, which is precisely what is within the third bullet point, is not some hatred for Charlie Riley, James Metts, Curtis Null, Marc Davenport, or others who have appeared as the object of criticism in The Golden Hammer. Charlie Riley and I have had good conversations in the past. I have absolutely nothing against him personally. I’d save his life if he needed the help. I like James Metts and have come to respect a lot of what he does. I disagree with some of his votes. Curtis Null would be precisely the right Superintendent for Conroe ISD, if he would stand up to some of the forces within the school district. He’s a smart guy with good business sense and a genuine love for the children attending the schools within a very flawed institution. I am still hopeful that he’ll stand up to the vendors, the federal government, the state government, and the bureaucracy within CISD itself. His Board of Trustees is a joke. Marc Davenport and I were friends, but something involving Phonoscope happened, and I came to understand his modus operandus. I’m pretty well aware of the people whom he still controls. Marc Davenport is a lost soul. That’s sad, because I believe we have a duty to help him.
For all of you who want to know my real goal, that’s it in bold above.
The Golden Hammer has been the most fun project with which I’ve ever been involved. I love writing articles. I love interviewing people for it. I love the research required for each article. I also enjoy the business of media. It’s challenging and unpredictable. I’ve figured out how to make money at it. As I’ve written previously, I love the readers of this newspaper regardless of what their personal reaction is to me, because I’m not looking for a pat on the head.
Kelli Cook really did terminate me for precisely the reasons she stated. She was right to do so.
Journalists should write for the governed, not for the governors, the fundamental theme in Justice Hugo Black’s wonderful concurring opinion in the United States Supreme Court’s decision in New York Times Co. v. United States, 403 U.S. 713 (1971), where he wrote:
“[T]he injunction against The New York Times should have been vacated without oral argument when the cases were first presented… . [E]very moment’s continuance of the injunctions … amounts to a flagrant, indefensible, and continuing violation of the First Amendment. … The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government’s power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people and sending them off to distant lands to die of foreign fevers and foreign shot and shell. … [W]e are asked to hold that … the Executive Branch, the Congress, and the Judiciary can make laws … abridging freedom of the press in the name of ‘national security.’ … To find that the President has ‘inherent power’ to halt the publication of news … would wipe out the First Amendment and destroy the fundamental liberty and security of the very people the Government hopes to make ‘secure.’ … The word ‘security’ is a broad, vague generality whose contours should not be invoked to abrogate the fundamental law embodied in the First Amendment. The guarding of military and diplomatic secrets at the expense of informed representative government provides no real security… . The Framers of the First Amendment, fully aware of both the need to defend a new nation and the abuses of the English and Colonial governments, sought to give this new society strength and security by providing that freedom of speech, press, religion, and assembly should not be abridged.”
403 U.S. at 714-20.
I crossed the line in my compliments of the Montgomery County Commissioners Court for their passing a Fiscal Year 2020 Budget at the “effective tax rate.” While I was sincere, I served the governors more than the governed when I made those comments.
Kelli has assured me that she’ll restore the hard-hitting nature of this newspaper. Unlike the Courier blog, the Chronicle blog, The New York Times, and many other media companies, The Golden Hammer needs to work for you, the governed. Newspapers, the media, and journalists shouldn’t work as propaganda spewers for the governors.
Look at Conroe ISD as an example of the problem. It’s the most expensive governmental entity in our community. Its entire intended purpose is to provide education for the children who attend its schools. Clearly, the school district has lost its way. With two bonds – one for $807 million and one for $677 million – CISD has exhibited a wrongful focus on serving vendors, administrators, and ambitious politicians, all to the detriment of the children and the taxpayers. Those bonds have nothing whatsoever to do with educational outcomes. They’re all about money and building an empire of power.
The Golden Hammer has a duty to provide the governed with as much information as possible about CISD, even in the face of the thousands of administrators, teachers, vendors, and their spouses who seek to join CISD in lying, cheating, and stealing from the children and the taxpayers. Look, however, at the Community Impact and the Courier. They’re little more than sources of propaganda for CISD. Look at CISD itself, spending hundreds of thousands of tax dollars to issue propaganda in favor of the bond under the guise of “factual information.” Their “no tax rate increase” phrase in their taxpayer-funded political advertising crosses the line into political advocacy as far as someone can cross that line and yet no one, among those administrators, teachers, vendors, and their spouses, has the courage to care.
That’s the purpose of The Golden Hammer. It’s got to have the courage to care for the truth.
No one – truly no one – has more courage like that than Kelli Cook. She’s fearless. She’s the most brilliant lady I’ve met in this community. Kelli is a lot smarter than I’ll ever be and she has the interpersonal skills which I lack.
I wish Kelli Cook and the entire staff at The Golden Hammer the best.
The reaction to Friday’s announcement of my termination as Publisher was very good with the exception of some concerns which some of this newspaper’s confidential sources raised. I’ve built a large network of sources within and outside of government. I don’t doubt that Kelli will protect the newspaper’s sources. Kelli Cook is not “a plant nor is she in bed with the establishment.” Kelli will fight for the goals of this newspaper harder than I ever did.
We’re all in a “cult” together. It’s the “cult” fighting for those political principles, especially the one in bold up above. I intend to remain an active “cult” member.
Thanks to all of you, the readers. Thanks to Charlie, James, Curtis, Marc, and the others about whom I’ve had the opportunity to write. Thanks to the good guys, such as Brandon Creighton, Steve Toth, Mark Keough, and James Noack. All four of you have flaws, but you’re sincere. Mostly, thanks to the conservatives and conservative activists. I assure you that I will remain one of you. I just won’t be the Publisher of this newspaper.