“It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into”

Jonathan Swift
"The Democrats have moved to the right, and the right has moved into a mental hospital." - Bill Maher
"The city is crowded my friends are away and I'm on my own
It's too hot to handle so I gotta get up and go

It's a cruel ... cruel summer"

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Message v. Mechanics

There forever have been and always will be exactly two components to political campaigns, message and mechanics. In simple terms, that's what you say and how you convey it to voters. And let me make clear that by "convey", I don't just mean phrase crafting. I mean the whole pathway from the candidate's mind and heart all the way to the voter's. There has been a lot of discussion at this and other sites about the best ways for Democrats to campaign and win. But we cannot make reasoned judgments about strategy without clearly grasping the fundamentals of campaigns. There are lots of sources of information about both theory and practice, so I'm not trying to present Politics 101 here. I'm going to argue that the components are of equal importance. But I want to make sure we can agree on some basic definitions. I'll start with mechanics.

Once the candidate has decided what he or she wants to say, then mechanics takes over. In simple form, the process begins with a determination of how to phrase the message. But it continues with decisions about form of presentation (in person speech, radio or television speech, billboard, demonstration, parade, pamphlet, flyer, push card, phone bank, web site, direct mail, email, door-to-door canvass, press release, book, etc.) . Many of these devices involve art or stagecraft that can be almost as persuasive as the message itself. Often multiple means are used. But regardless of the form of delivery, the message must be observed by voters (seen, heard, read), it must be understood, and it must be remembered.

Generally speaking, the more distant or passive the communications method is, the less likely it is that the pathway will be completed. Thus, next to an in-person, one-to-one discussion between candidate and voter, the next most effective vehicle is probably the in-person speech, which explains why candidates travel so much and talk so much. Still, attracting voters to hear a candidate's speech, especially in a time when televised speeches are abundant, is difficult. The next most effective device, the door-to-door canvass, overcomes that problem, but frequently places the candidate's message in the hands of someone else, often a volunteer. Other, more modern communications methods allow candidates to reach much larger numbers of voters, but in a much more passive way. Still, even in local city elections, the sheer number of voters candidates need to reach makes the use of electronic communications a necessity. At the same time, the human desire for personal contact makes "grassroots" organizing essential, as well. A voter is actually more likely to be convinced through conversation with a neighbor, friend or coworker than any other means, but only if the voter is first convinced that the neighbor, friend or coworker accurately represents the candidate.

This brings us to message, which should be taken to mean not just what the candidate thinks, but also what he or she decides to say. In other words, there is an editorial process at work. That's true even when the candidate claims to "speak from the heart." I'm not suggesting that such candidates are misrepresenting themselves. But none of us shares with any other person all that we think. It would be impractical, and in politics, it is unnecessary. A campaign can be thought of as an extended job interview with thousands, perhaps millions of employers. So, what those prospective employers need to know is how the candidate would function on the job. But because of pride of ownership in a democracy, voters also want to feel that they somehow "know" a candidate. They want to ask not just, "what do you think?" but also "who are you?" Citizens want to be able to not just pry into a candidate's personal information, but, more importantly, gain a sense that he or she has qualities of leadership, integrity, passion and wisdom. Many also desire that candidates have understanding and compassion for the lives of ordinary citizens. Message encompasses both thought and emotion.

Message must be groomed in some way, because it must take account of the audience, and how much the audience can hear, understand and remember. Since many of the available communications methods will result in incomplete transmission, the message must be repeated, and because those in opposition can be counted upon to attempt to misrepresent and recast the message, it must be repeated many, many, many, many, many times. The main message must be kept limited to a few points, in order to aid its absorption. Supplementing the message with example, especially anecdotal examples that permit the candidate to convey the emotional qualities the voter seeks, is important, and this part of the message can easily vary from one appearance to the next. There is a natural tension between the desire of candidates to share themselves or show how much they know, and the need of campaigns to "stay on message." Thus it is critical that the initial choice of message be thoughtful, and a true reflection of the candidate's desires, because if it isn't, the candidate will easily drift away from it. And if the message is so well-groomed that it doesn't offend anyone, it may also not excite anyone, which is the point David Van Os makes so eloquently in the previous post.

So, what can we conclude about the best ways for Democrats to campaign? First, as Van Os points out and exemplifies, a message delivered with conviction that speaks to the needs and passions of voters is critical. We must remember that the objective is to obtain the votes of 50% + 1, not necessarily 100%. Candidates, not consultants, must be in charge of their campaigns. If the campaign represents the homogenized view of consultants rather than presenting the vision of the candidate, it will appear so, and voters will see the candidate as unauthentic. At the same time, we cannot return to the days of literal stump speeches, when the candidate's stage was a tree stump, audiences of 2-300 represented most of the voters in a town, and voters had few other sources of information about candidates. We cannot confuse the desire for traditional rhetoric with a self-destructive urge to sacrifice fundraising. Modern campaigns cost money. Period. Candidates also cannot afford the luxury of imagining that because they are in charge of their campaigns, they can be their own campaign managers. Just as lawyers who choose to defend themselves at trial have a fool for a client, so it is with candidates who choose to run their own campaigns. Modern campaigns are complex. They require intimacy with thousands or millions of individuals. That means having an effective organization, and it means using all the communications methods available.

Let me conclude with a few words about polling. Polls should never be used to tell candidates what positions to take. Candidates should know what is important to them and why they want to hold public office. That does not mean, as I pointed out above, that they should share every position they hold or emphasize every one. To do so would dilute the message and make it appear, ironically, that they had no convictions. Polling is important for candidates, however, because it provides them information about voters. Certain localities or groups of voters naturally have differing concerns. A candidate speaking to the chamber of commerce would be a fool to make all the same points they would when speaking to, say, the NAACP. Some of these distinctions are fairly obvious, but others are much less so. Polling can be used to determine what kinds of voters may be positively influenced by certain of the candidate's positions or by the wording used to express those positions. And what kinds of voters may give a candidate credit for disagreeing with them. They can also be used to evaluate an opponent's strategy and provide clues as to how to attack their message. And, of course, they can be used to evaluate the status of the campaign, determining where and when to make appearances, do advertising, conduct phone banking or canvassing, etc. Candidates who have no patience for campaign managers who make decisions in that way are simply not going to succeed.

To sum up, the key to running good campaigns is good candidates. Good candidates are, first and foremost, energetic, articulate people with strong beliefs and vision for the position they seek. But they are also people with strong, authentic roots in their community, district or state. And they are people willing and able to conduct a modern campaign, raising money competitively and using it, with the assistance of able operatives, to make their communications optimally effective. This is a lot to ask, but it is not an inherent contradiction. We just have to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time.


Friday, July 29, 2005

From David Van Os

David Van Os, Announced Candidate for Texas Attorney General, 2006, sends us the following:

The Texas statewide Democratic vote for state offices in the last 3 non-presidential general elections (1994, 1998, 2002) was not representative of the Democratic base. The Democratic base is much bigger than the votes the Democratic statewide candidates received in those elections, but the party's message in each of those elections was not designed to motivate growth in the base voter turnout. Even when two minority-group candidates were put at the top of the ticket in 2002, the consultantocracy made sure that those candidates' campaigns did not convey strong populist messages of the kind that would speak to the base vote. I am convinced that strong populist Democratic campaigns appealing directly to the Texas Democratic base will wake the slumbering parts of our base from the sleep they have been in since at least 1994.

To those who will argue that I am wrong in this belief, you cannot show me that a hard-hitting, statewide Democratic populist campaign aimed at the base will not expand the Democratic vote statewide into a majority, when it hasn't even been attempted in such a long time. How could one know it won't make a difference if it is not given a chance? We've been using the "take no risks" warm fuzzy platitude messages over and over. Now it is time to do it the other way. It is time for the Texas Democratic Party to reclaim the political legacy of James Stephen Hogg, James V. Allred, Ralph Yarborough, and Jim Hightower.

It is time to discard the "avoid polarization at all costs" strategy, the "take no risks" strategy, the "appeal to everybody" strategy, and the "chase the middle" strategy. It is time to remember what Jim Hightower told us 20 years ago, that "there's nothin' in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos." It is time to cease the followership strategies of scripting campaigns on the basis of what people thought yesterday in polls, and assert the leadership strategies of campaigning for what we know to be right based on our deepest convictions of what we want for tomorrow. It is time to stop worrying about whom we might offend if we speak truth to power, and start worrying about what value are our lives if we don't speak truth to power. It is time to cherish partisan Democrats and reject nonpartisan Nothingcrats. It is time to forget "right-left" analysis and install "right-wrong" analysis. It is time to replace the "liberal-conservative" spectrum with the "liberty-tyranny" spectrum. It is time to stop worrying about how to get money from big donors and start worrying about how to get more money into working people's paychecks. It is time to fight for better lives for voters instead of peddle promises to voters. It is time to treat public office as a duty, not a promotion. We must fight for the people, not in order to win their votes, but in order to win them justice.
When we Democrats as the heirs of the noblest political tradition in the world - the tradition of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, James Stephen Hogg, Ralph Yarborough, Ann Richards, and millions of unsung Democratic heroes - learn and relearn and apply these things, the people will know we are there for them and they will turn to us, because they are in need and have been in need for a long time. The more courageously and more vigorously we fight for the people against economic, cultural, and political tyranny, all the sooner will they turn to us. When that happens we will be prepared to win for the people, because we will already be thinking like winners and conducting ourselves as winners. We will dare to fight and dare to win.

David Van Os
Future People's Lawyer of Texas

cliff's notes for the globe-republican news desk

Hey, guys, about Chris Bell, the newly-declared Democratic gubernatorial candidate you featured on page 7A? Well, he has a connection to Amarillo, unlike, say, Carole Keeton R'ander Strayhorn MacInerney Shaw or Kay the Cheerleader whose decisions you gave front-page treatment when they decided whether (or not) to run.


Chris Bell for Guv

Chris Bell is running for Texas Governor. Here is a snip . . .

. . . As I've traveled the state, I've been talking about the "New Mainstream," the disaffected majority of Texans who know that Rick Perry couldn't lead a silent prayer. I've been talking about how budgets are moral documents that have both a fiscal impact as well as a human cost. And, as a public school parent, I've learned that parents and teachers across Texas share my frustrations with Enron-style accountability that encourages dropouts and systematic fraud by teaching our kids nothing as much as how to take yet another standardized test.

The best part of the exploration phase has been watching as people came out of their seats to cheer. Some memories have really stuck with me: the young college student who approached me in Brazos County, with tears in her eyes, telling me how inspired she was by what I had said; the pastor in Mount Pleasant who told me he would be with me all the way; the County Chair in Lubbock starting the chant, "Run Chris, run!" I won't pretend that people were responding to me so much as to hearing someone talk about the world the way it is, and not just the way it polls. . .

Chris has a great message, and now he needs your help. PTS will forward his entire email on to our current email list.

, send an email to:


More good info at: http://www.ChrisBell.com

-Panhandle Truth Squad

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

GOP falls apart in Texas

Great post over at BOPnews regarding the Monkey brigade down in Austin (no offense intended to monkeys)

The GOP majority in the Texas House of Representatives today fell apart, its party discipline destroyed by the stink of corruption that permeates the Bush era in Texas and across the country.

If Texas had icebergs, this would be the tip of one. I'm not talking about Karl Rove's adulterous behavior.

I'm talking about the stinging defeat suffered by the Texas GOP on the floor of the state House today. GOP leadership, helped to election by illegal corporate contributions, watched helplessly as the Democratic minority and a few frightened Republicans voted down bills that 1) raised taxes on the middle class; 2) Cut taxes for Big Insurance and other special interests involved in the scandal; 3) Stiffed school children and teachers under the guise of education reform.

Read the rest HERE

-Prodigal Son

Monday, July 25, 2005

What . . . and when . . . ?

And, finally, the inevitable question-- the question that must eventually be asked of all Republican administrations-- gets asked.


we shall never overcome

Ever since 9/11 and the Iraq War, the Amarillo Globe-Republican and other mainstream papers have tiptoed into once-forbidden waters. It began with an offhand reference, maybe a veiled comment in a letter to the editor.

But this summer, those waters have overflowed their banks and grown stormy and dangerous. This summer, significant portions of the mainstream press have absorbed, without apology and without comment, the language and character of savage racists and bigots from the fringes of Timothy McVeigh and the Reverend Richard Butler.

Rather than referring to "fundamentalist extremists" or "terrorists," these papers now routinely denigrate Islam itself and the Arab people. Those more exact terms became "Islamic Fundamentalists," then "Islamofascists," shortened to "Islamists" and now read simply as "Moslems." To justify the change Dianne West says, in a column reprinted recently in the AG-R:

I've tried out such terms in the past, but I've come to find them artificial and confusing, and maybe purposefully so, because in their imprecision I think they allow us all to give a wide berth to a great problem: the gross incompatibility of Islam -- the religious force that shrinks freedom even as it "moderately" enables or "extremistly" advances jihad -- with the West.
There it is. Islam is incompatible with our way of life. And with bigotry thus intellectually justified, the true fruits of hate will now soon follow. The more visceral, anti-intellectual sort of bigotry will naturally be more in keeping with the Bush era. Letters to the editor already push so very close to ugly racist slurs. You can imagine the letter-writers typing the words of hatred on their word processors, then highlighting and replacing the language with something just slightly less offensive. Give it a month or two, the editors smirk. Then you'll be able to use the words you really want to say.

Is it really that bad? Oh, yes, it is. Note that this cartoon- reprinted on the AG-R Opinion page- reads "Pied Piper of Islam," not "extremists" or "terrorists" or "Islamic Fundamentalists" or "Islamofascists" or "Islamists." Just "Islam," that's the problem, dressed in stereotypical robes and turbans. And look at the followers of Islam, with their buck teeth and simian characteristics.

Look familiar?

Only like every single racist stereotype since racist stereotypes began.

We were told in elementary school in the 70s that these problems had been solved, that racial and religious prejudice belonged to an ugly past of seperate drinking fountains and lynching. Never Again, we were told. We Had Overcome.

So thank you, Globe-Republican, for exposing the raw lie. Thanks for showing the ugly truth behind the American Dream. Thanks for cheating another generation of children out of a bright future in which all can participate.


P.S. John Kanelis edits the Opinion page.

Profiles In Conservative Courage

Stealing an idea outright from Demophoenix . . . with a twist.

See, we hear CONSTANTLY from Rush Rumproar and Hannity, etc. how pious and good and morally upstanding ALL conservatives red staters are compared to those slack jawed anything-goes liberal blue-state demoncrats.

The rules? It must happen in a red state. BONUS: Involves prominent Republican.

Here is the first of a series; Profiles In Conservative Courage. It's a three-fer'.

Mr. Straight Talk Express
On ABC's This Week, Stephanopoulos just read the text of the Classified Information NonDisclosure Agreenent that White House employees are required to sign:

"I have been advised that any breach of this Agreement may result in the termination of any security clearance I hold; removal from any position of special confidence and trust requiring such clearances; or the termination of my employment..."

Stephanopoulos: Do you believe that this agreement should be abided by?

McCain: I do, but that also implies that someone knowingly revealed...

Stephanopoulos: This covers negligent disclosures

McCain: Again I don't know what the definition of "negligent" is.

Hominy, OK
A resident of Hominy, Okla., walked into a local diner Tuesday afternoon and allegedly shot a pregnant waitress, 26-year-old Becky Clements, in the head, then shot her again in the stomach and chest. Sheriff Ty Koch said the motive is apparently a recent letter to the editor of the Hominy newspaper, the News Progress, written by the woman.

Jacksonville, FL
The state suspended the licenses of two church-affiliated day care centers where children allegedly were sexually molested, forced to eat worms and pick each other's noses during employee-led games of "Truth or Dare."

I'm just sayin' . . .

-Prodigal Son

Saturday, July 23, 2005

A Good Article



However, a world of laughs and deep belly guffaws await those of us who still appreciate irony. This morning, the Amarillo Globe-Republican Ghostly VoiceTM opined that state legislators needed to stop "ghost voting."

How cute. How utterly precious. But, go to bed, Ghostly VoiceTM, it's way past your bedtime.


Friday, July 22, 2005

the kandy-kolored komix-page crybaby

Aaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnddddddddddd—hey woooweee boyeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee—so I picked up the Tom Wolfe—Tom! Wolfe! with the supercool hip & ready-to-wear whitesuit oh you know—reader The Purple Decades? at the Amarillo Public Library book sale? this year?, and—woweee zippooo—I just started reading the thing, 394 pages of words and ultrahip midcentury typography. And—
Honey—it had been several years since I last read any real journalism by the dude, and I’d quite forgotten what a supercool streamlined and incrediblydeadrighton journalist the man was before—you said it—getting all corrupted & ruined by trying to write—how you say—fiction fiction and being badly parodied by provincial bloggers and all.

But there was always one thing about Tom Wolfe that I always thought was so plain—so obvious—so absolutely right there on the surface of everything the man wrote that you didn’t have to point it out, even. It was this: since Wolfe used fiction-like devices such as interior monologues that reconstructed people’s thoughts and different voices (the devil’s advocate, the “directors” voice, etc.) in his writing, you couldn’t just lift a bit of writing and infer Wolfe’s own viewpoint.

I mean, obviously. But right there in the introduction to The Purple Decades, Joe David Bellamy points out that the critic Thomas R. Edwards had taken portions of The Pump House Gang all-too-literally and stated that Wolfe’s

general view of “serious” social concern makes the passage a virtual endorsement of the attitudes it mimics.
Hmph. Well, maybe, if we r-e-a-l-l-y s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d and used that ugly word “virtual” in the millennial sense we could say yeah, sure, mebbe ya gotta point there, Thomas R. Edwards.

Otherwise, you just hafta say, um, Thomas? Irony? Hello?

I mean, c’mon, like the preacher said there’s nothing new under the sun. Dramatic irony’s been around since Sophocles and educated readers/listeners/viewers have been expected to understand it since then. Even uneducated people with their wits about them have usually been able to see that people don’ always mean zactly what they say, ‘specially if they grew up in a family full of sarcastic Celts. And it was my understanding as a child of the 80s that some understanding of irony had long ago been extended by way of MTV and Spy magazine far into the ranks of even the truly dim.

But apparently not so far.

Because during the Amarillo Globe-Republican catchup reading I’ve been doing over the past week after running hither-and-yon across the country for most of July, I uncovered a Mallard Fillmore plotline that started thus:

[okay! I know! Mallard Fillmore! Much as I hate that damn cartoon bird, I used to agree with all y’all that he’s not worth the trouble. But I’ve since come to the conclusion that he’s useful in a certain way: he’s the Classics Illustrated of Republican Right-Wing Talking Points. And I use him the way I use Classics Illustrated in the high school Literature classes I teach: not as a substitute for the original, but as a review. So, in this case, we’re reviewing how stone-dumb the sources of those talking points can be. So bear with me . . . ]

. . . I uncovered a Mallard Fillmore (5 July) plotline that started thus:
BADLY DRAWN CARTOON BIRD: People keep e-mailing me to tell me I’m in Jon Stewart’s book, “America” . . . Wait a minute! . . . this isn’t ME . . . it’s an IMPOSTER! [continued . . . ]
The series goes on to claim (6 July) that Stewart deliberately misled readers by trying to portray the cartoon in his book as an actual Mallard Fillmore ‘toon. Bruce Tinsley, the putative “cartoonist,” then throws up (8 July) some of his most favoritist logical fallacies—straw people—to argue that his own “put[ting] words into people's mouths” is somehow different than Stewart’s. And, overall, Tinsley winds up looking like a thin-skinned jerk.

Because the cartoon in question—which portrays the idiotic bird offering up some typical right-wing propaganda and then saying “I forgot to tell a joke” is so obviously, so plainly a parody that only a retrograde Thomas R. Edwards could miss the point.

And Tinsley wastes one of the worst weeks his beloved Republicans have had in literally years bitching about it.
Grow up, Mallard. At this rate, we’ll be having duck for thanksgiving dinner this year.

Mmmm, mmmm, good.


Wednesday, July 20, 2005

What do you think?

. . . of Shrubbie's SCOTUS pick, and will it successfully divert from Treasongate and Rove?

-Prodigal Son

Monday, July 18, 2005

What You Republicans Voted For: Constitution RIP Edition

-IRAQ you republican bastards.
-Bush rolling back scientific method/progress CLICK HERE and CLICK HERE
-FBI admits constitutionally protected groups opposing Bush watched CLICK HERE
-Fly much? Bush admin illegally collected your info CLICK HERE
-Gov't can interfere with Husband/Wife decisions CLICK HERE
-Troops sent into combat WITHOUT ARMOR CLICK HERE
-Republicans advocating killing judges CLICK HERE
-Pro-life killers don't get death penalty CLICK HERE
-Bush staffers pose as Secret Service to intimidate CLICK HERE

-A shiny new war in Iran! CLICK HERE and CLICK HERE
-New things to hate; Spongebob Squarepants, the enemy! CLICK HERE
-Let them eat cake, American Style! CLICK HERE
-Stolen elections now commonplace CLICK HERE
-1800 soldiers dead, but we got a new Trans-Afghanistan Oil Pipeline CLICK HERE
-Proof of Right Wing media bias CLICK HERE
-A new arms race CLICK HERE
-Continuous back door draft CLICK HERE
-Confessions resulting from torture a-ok in court now CLICK HERE
-The disappearance of the dollar as THE international currency CLICK HERE
-A mind blowing $7.8 trillion debt left to our kids CLICK HERE
-Putting politics over making America safe from terrorism CLICK HERE
-"Conservatives" now above the law CLICK HERE and CLICK HERE
-A pension bailout crises costing taxpayers BILLIONS CLICK HERE
-Unchecked war profiteering costing the taxpayers BILLIONS CLICK HERE
-Putting "activist" judges (Conservative activists are OK!) on the supreme court CLICK HERE
-Getting rid of ALL checks and balances CLICK HERE
-A fascist form of government for the first time CLICK HERE
-Throwing out prohibitions against lobbying for former officials CLICK HERE

What did I miss?

-Prodigal Son

Putting Our Money Where Our Mouths Are

I, too, attended Saturday night's PRDC fundraiser dinner. I counted a total of four PTS contributers, with Demophoenix being the most notable. I don't have much to say about Bell's speech that Demophoenix didn't already cover in his previous post. Bell, while being highly critical of Republican corruption, has a positive message and his theme of "budgets are moral documents" will undoubtably strike a chord with voters.

Regretfully, I got active in the local party only just recently and haven't attended many PRDC functions. Despite that one thing has become very clear to me - the local Dems are in desperate need of some fresh recruits. I'd wager that 75% of Saturday night's crowd were 60+. Father Time is going to do more damage to the local Democrats in the coming years than anything The RepublicansTM can cook up. The following observation will garner a collective "Well, no duh..." from local party leaders, but recruiting new members (not just voters, but participating members) should be a top priority. How best to do that isn't clear to me.

We on the left have been critical of the armchair generals on the right who support the war in Iraq, but have absolutely no intention of putting their own butts on the line. The same can be said of the left and our desire to take back our country, state and region. We need to invest our time and our money. Otherwise it isn't going to happen. Democrats in this area are outnumbered 10 to 1. We are probably outspent 1000 to 1, or more. All you liberal lurkers out there are going to have to get involved. Make an effort to come to the monthly meetings. Come to the fundraisers. Send in a check for $10 every now and then. Talk to your lefty friends and try to get them involved, too.

Likewise, prominent Democrats at the state and national level need to put in some time here, too. It would be nice if people from Albuquerque and Santa Fe were coming to Amarillo to hear a Democrat speak instead of the other way around. Chris Bell's presentation was a hell of a good start, but we need somebody who would really stir things up. Someone like Howard Dean. If the Democrats truly are the party for the average Joe, then they should be more than happy to stop by for a chat despite how red this area is.

Rove, the Prison B**ch

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Bell Rings True in Amarillo

Likely Gubernatorial Candidate Chris Bell spoke to a revved-up crowd of over 100 Democrats at a fundraising dinner Saturday evening in Amarillo, making the case for new leadership in Austin. Bell, who has been running an exploratory campaign for Governor for the past few months, seemed at ease, and every bit the candidate. His 35-minute speech was interrupted 14 times for applause, and afterward several positive comments were overheard from those in attendance.

Bell was joined by Texas Democratic Party Chair, Charles Soechting, who made an appeal for Democrats to become sustaining members of the state party. Potter County Chair Tim Hoffman also made clear to the assembled that their donations would be sought to support local efforts. Hoffman announced to cheers that the main point of the ongoing fundraising drive was to support a permanent Amarillo Democratic Party office, with a permanent, paid Executive Director.

Bell, a former Channel 7 news anchor in Amarillo, who has since been a Houston city councilman and Congressman, was introduced by former chief of staff to Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock, and current director of Panhandle Planned Parenthood, Claudia Stravato. Bell adlibbed that he had been introduced a lot in the past few months, but never before had the word "uterus" been mentioned.

The former Congressman noted that he had gained a reputation as a reformer for breaking the 7-year Congressional truce relative to ethics complaints when he filed complaints last year against House majority leader Tom DeLay. Those complaints ultimately led to three formal admonishments of Rep. DeLay by the House Ethics Committee. He spoke about the culture of corruption both in Washington and in Austin as one of several motivations for seeking the position of Governor. But, he said, all his reasons could really be encapsulated by his opposition to a comment that Gov. Perry made last year, in a statement at the capitol. Bell quoted Perry as saying that "...the government cannot dispense hope."

Bell cited one of his Sunday School lessons, "what we do to the least of us, we do to ourselves," in explaining his position that both the financial cost and the human cost of government policies must be considered. He called himself "a public servant who tries to do the right thing," and said that while government will never have enough money, failing to dispense hope represented a deficit of responsibility.

He reiterated his view that budgets are moral documents, and explained that cutting social services to children, raising state university tuitions, and kicking people off Medicaid, in order to provide tax reductions, primarily for the wealthy, are immoral priorities. He also noted that such priorities have financial costs, railing that credit has been claimed for saving one dollar today that will require ten dollars to fix tomorrow. He cited as an example Gov. Perry's 2003 budget that Perry had claimed credit for because of tax reductions. Bell noted that that budget had cut child protective services, forcing caseworkers to have extreme case loads that, he said, had resulted in the deaths of 500 children due to neglect. Perry's 2005 budget attempted to restore some of those funds, because of what Perry now calls a child care "crisis", Bell said.

Bell concluded by recalling the specific case of a San Antonio 4-year-old, Jovonie Ochoa, who died in late 2003 due to starvation, because an overburdened CPS case worker could not get to him in time. Ochoa, Bell said, did not receive hope. "The government must either dispense hope or reap dispair," Bell finished to a standing ovation.


Note: While I have encouraged local Democrats to reward Chris Bell for having the fortitude to openly explore running for Governor, and while I do like much of what Chris has been saying, I have not personally made any commitment to Chris; nor have I endorsed any candidate as of this writing. My efforts have been in support of the party, and I believe it is essential to have a viable candidate for Governor leading the ticket in 2006.

How was Chris Bell?

How did he sound? What points was he trying to make? Is he ready for prime time?

Let us know in "Comments"

-Panhandle Truth Squad

Friday, July 15, 2005

Republicans Talk About Karl Rove

A couple days ago, I received one of the many petitions that clog my in-box. This one asked me to sign on to tell President Bush to fire Karl Rove. I signed. There was room for me to add my own comment, and I pondered for a long time what I actually wanted some White House flunkie to read, and ultimately decided that there was nothing to add. It would be a waste of good pixels.

Today, I received another message. This one told me that others were finding words to put in that blank, and I realized that it was a matter of point of view. You see, these letters were all from Republicans. I have reprinted a few of these below.

Make no mistake. This is the tip of the iceberg. But most such people will continue to think themselves Republican, and consider the administration to be the exceptions. Our opportunity here, if we behave ourselves correctly, is to provide new reasons for at least some to rethink their allegiance. They do, in fact, want to vote in favor of something, not just against. The challenge is that we still don't have the kind of megaphone the Republicans do, so we can anticipate difficulty getting our message across. But we must speak up, and tell those who can hear what we would do.

"I switched to Republican over 30 years ago, but now feel increasingly betrayed by and ashamed of the power-crazy dishonesty and the distorted values of the current leadership of the GOP. Tom DeLay does not speak or stand for most American Republicans. Neither does Karl Rove, who should be fired and severely punished if indications are correct. Can we trust you, Mr. President? Please give us the real, open truth." Jeb E., Palo Alto, CA

"I was a good Republican for all my life, but can no longer stomach the people that excuse the behavior of those who squelch any and all who question and think for themselves. Please stand up and do what is right." Lana H., Fort Worth. TX

"Truth is an awesome thing. As an American whose husband and son have served in our military I wonder if you could possibly condone a leak of information which jeopardizes our national security. I would like to see the Republican Party speak honestly as they used to speak when I was a registered Republican. We seem to be emulating the Nixon era ... I can no longer support the Republican party." MaryKay D., Columbus, OH

"As a Republican ... I have to insist that the president and my party affiliates in Washington tend to the accountability of Karl Rove or face yourselves the possibility of being called part of a cover-up conspiracy. You are ELECTED officials entrusted to the security of all Americans. For God's sake get responsible." Marilynne R., Glendale, AZ

"I have been a Republican almost from birth. No more, no more!!! This latest group of Republicans have disgraced the memory of all noble Republicans that preceded them. I am a city trustee in Illinois and speak loudly and regularly at counsel meetings regarding the Bush ethics and to date have thoroughly convinced several other members to take a closer and more focused look at the way the Bush administration has controlled the rhetoric regarding most issues." Dave B., Mount Olive, IL



The Globe-Republican finally has printed some ink on traitor Rove. Except is not the AG-R, it is the associated press stenographing the latest laughable RNC spin point debunked HERE and HERE and HERE

The AG-R has been thunderously silent about this matter, and then only prints a pro-Bushco/Rove piece. Yeah, it is a piece alright . . .

You know what to do truth squaders. Please send a LTE TODAY to:


Talk about how you feel about this. Make it short (100 words), polite, and include your name, address, and phone to get printed.

Rove betrayed his country. He did it to get back at someone. This traitorous act probably had horrible consequences for those involved in the COVERT operation he outed.

It really is that simple. Everything the Rethugs try to spin is sh*t born of desperation.

-Prodigal Son

How many times can you repeat old, tired, Clinton hating, and Liberal hating stereotypes and juvenile jokes DAVE HENRY (snicker snicker)?

What a hack.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

...And The Hits Just Keep On Rolling

I'm not gloating.

No, really, I'm not. As much as it does my heart good to see the corrupt and the hypocritical brought low as a result of their own misdeeds, when their corruption and hypocrisy impacts my government, I suffer too. The only real benefit to me in having them revealed is in making it harder and less rewarding for others to follow in their footsteps.

So, when the press finally grows some cojones and realizes that the mighty Karl Rove has, to use his own words, "f***ed them", as much as anything, I'm sad. When the public belatedly recognizes that they can't trust the president, I feel embarrassed. When a California Congressman has to high-tail it out of office just ahead of the prosecutor, I grieve. When "pay to play" becomes the highest law all around the country (click here, here, and here), you and I are cut out of the process.

You see, while it is my money that goes to the government, it is also my government. You know, "...of, by and for the people?" Doesn't that sound vaguely familiar? And the truth is, I don't want my money back. I want my government back.


Bell Interview

You might be interested in this insightful interview with Chris Bell, done by the Austin blog, Pink Dome. It reveals Bell's nimbleness, as well as a fair sense of humor.

On a related note, Texas Civil Rights Review gives Bell a 100%+ rating for his term in Congress. Click here for the details.


Interesting Numbers

The closing of Cannon Air Force base will save $2.7 billion over 20 years. That's $135 million/year or $11.3 million/month for 20 years.

The Marine Corps is planning on buying 360 MV-22 Ospreys at $71 million each. That's $25.6 billion total. Bell Helicopter would like to pump out 48 or more per year. At 48/year it will take 7.5 years to fill the order. That's $3.4 billion/year or $284 million/month.

The Iraqi invasion and occupation has cost approximately $180 billion. Operations started in 3/03. That's about $90 billion/year or $6.6 billion/month. It is estimated the costs of the occupation will hit $600 billion by 2010.

Who is going to Chris Bell?

Sound off in the comments.

the root of all evil

In the conversations I’ve participated in with Chris Bell, I’ve occasionally sensed that he’s not quite ready for prime time, but that he’s a very fast learner and may well get there. More importantly, one of his central themes just makes me want to give him a Great Big Hug. So perhaps he should be happy that I’ll be at a wedding in Ruidoso this weekend and will miss the big shindig on Saturday night. He doesn’t need me hugging him all the time.

The line that inspires the desire to hug is the one about budgets being moral documents. I sense in that line a deeper understanding that politics and society are about people, not money, and that money used by those who have it to destroy those who don’t is bad money. When we wail and gnash our teeth over green pieces of paper, bits of our soul break off to be trampled under the stomping feet of commerce. It’s ugly.

I thought about this last night when the SO and I ate in Furr’s Cafeteria in Wolflin Village. We were enjoying our meal as much as is possible in Furr’s when the waiter came to our table and introduced herself.

Waiter: now, Furr’s is a cafeteria. We’d walked through the line, carried our own food to our tables, now we have a waiter that we’ll have to tip?

The waiter made her way to the other tables; it took her about thirty seconds since no one needed anything. Then she began to bus tables and sweep the floor.

Ah, that’s her real job, isn’t it? Bussing tables and sweeping floors, but if Furr’s calls her a waiter and she takes thirty seconds to introduce herself to each table, they can pay her about a nickel an hour. Waiters have a lower minimum wage than everyone else because they supposedly get tips.

So basically Furr’s is trying to get customers to pay as much of their payroll costs as they can. And if Furr’s is like any other company, those waiters probably have to tip out everyone else at the end of the night. I know we have some ex-waiters around these parts. Is this fair?

Furr’s is finding a way around existing law to exploit human beings. That’s what corporations do; but Republicans would give these amoral social constructs ever more power to exploit and wreck human lives. They deregulate, they give tax breaks, and as for that pesky minimum wage that Furr’s works so hard to get around, some Republicans say we shouldn’t have one at all.

So the next time you go to Furr’s look for our waiter. You’ll see her; she’s an African-American mother of a teenager. She’ll be telling jokes and cutting up so that maybe her customers, who don’t really need her, will notice her anyway and leave some change on the table because that’s how she feeds her family.

Look for her. That’s who Republicans want to exploit. And that’s who Chris Bell and other progressives are talking about when they say that budgets are moral documents.


karl rove is pregnant with my two-headed love child

In 1998 I still got some of my news from television. I was attending night classes four nights a week that year, and I came home every night at ten to study and watch Keith Olbermann on The Big Show on MSNBC. I liked Keith, and I liked the fact that he was slowly being driven mad by what he was being forced to report.

(It’s difficult for an English teacher to write about Times Like These. Because, in the midst of a media feeding frenzy, everything happens in the passive voice.)

Since I liked Keith, my television stayed on MSNBC. I got all my Monica Lewinsky news from MSNBC.

Now, I get everything online. And since so much of it comes to me filtered through the blogs, I’ve developed a defense mechanism: I instinctively assume that the stories that look huge to me aren’t getting nearly the kind of play they deserve, out there, in whatever’s left of the real world.

So maybe it was appropriate that I saw my first Karl Rove television on MSNBC. The teevee was on at the SO’s house, and the network wasn’t so much reporting as displaying fave soundbites in an endless collage. There was Bush plaintively, smirkingly insisting that the investigation was still “ongoing”! Here’s a bulleted graphic displaying Republican talking points! Watch this loop from the press gaggle with Scotty! Listen to the reporters laugh as they ask if Scotty’s going up on the shuttle!

Ah, it was good to hear the press laughing again. Yes—they were enjoying this, their first foray in years into—

I was going to type “real journalism” but, of course, it’s not.

We still habitually refer to each new scandal as “—gate,” but the Year of Monica has surpassed Watergate as the new gold standard. We were caught up in it as we watched MSNBC last night. Were we watching Bush’s “I did not have sex with that woman” moment? Should we start referring to it as his “finger-wagging denial”?

And that’s too bad, because the issues with this scandal, with this administration, are real. Karl Rove betrayed the nation’s trust and security, putting a CIA agent at risk by using her politically. But we Democrats have spent so much of the past seven years rightly decrying the tabloid nature of the reportage of 1998. Now any comparison of Rove-gate to Monica-gate diminishes Rove-gate. And the comparisons are all too easy. Not accurate, just easy.

But that dog bites the postman and its owner. The tabloid blender that Republicans created to destroy Clinton will now mercilessly shred Rove. Their carefully-crafted talking points (were they written by Rove? his last hurrah?) will never be heard over the tumult and the shouting.

Karma’s a bitch.


Don't Drop The Soap Bernie

It isn't often that I smile while reading the news, but yesterday's reports that Bernard Ebbers is getting 25 years in the slammer brought a wide grin to my face. Personally I think he should be drawn and quartered, but at his age 25 years will amount to a life sentence. It ain't over til its over, though. Given the way Republicans reward criminal behavior it is entirely possible he'll be pardoned and put in charge of the SEC.

You're next, Ken.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Who Reads PTS?

Check out this post at Chris Bell's web site, and see if you recognize anything. While you're at it, don't forget to RSVP for this Saturday's prime time event!


who will discover the truth?

This morning the Amarillo Globe-Republican reported that the Don Harrington Discovery Center's Discover! fundraiser which has been so much fun and so good for the community for many years has been canceled. Here's Jim Crawford's story, pretty much:

Concerns about the safety of the center's neighbors for the huge fireworks extravaganza forced the decision to cancel, said Beth Robinson, last year's chair of the event.
Here's some questions Crawford didn't bother to ask:
  1. Channel 4 (KAMR) interviewed representives of the "center's neighbors" for their story. The medical community representives said that no one had complained or expressed any concern about the fireworks. Additionally, it has been expressed that long-term nursing home residents enjoyed the fireworks as it helped them to feel like a part of the community. Was this a unilateral decision?
  2. Spacedark, writer for Panhandle Truth Squad, recently attended several public events during a single week in Omaha, Nebraska. These included a jazz organist's performance on the lawn in front of the Joslin Art Museum, and a Shakespeare on the Green performance of Othello at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. None of these productions involved fireworks, but they were all very well-attended. Were other alternatives considered?
  3. Discover! hires some of the preeminent fireworks professionals in the country to produce these events. What were their thoughts on the possibility of conducting a safe show?
  4. What's the real story?
Follow-up questions can be your friends.


on positivity

Who knows best what the Democrats need to do to win? And who will unselfishly provide that useful information to us at no charge?

Why, regressive Republicans, trolls, FOX News, conservative pundits, warbloggers, and freepers, of course!

Just a few thoughts:

  1. Panhandle Truth Squad is not the Democratic party. We're a group blog whose members sympathize with the Democratic party to varying degrees. We have no power over the party's message and are not debating what the party will do to win, because The Party isn't listening to li'l ole us, not so much. Similiarly, I found it kind of silly after the Chris Bell conference calls when some of our fellow bloggers around the state got the big head and said things like "we agreed that Chris should do X." Um, we're a sympathetic vehicle that Bell uses to get his message out. We're not his advisors.
  2. What are we then? Well, the original idea was to be a progressive alternative to critique and combat the local media. Critique and combat. Now, I'm an English major and teacher who bristles when people wrongly believe that criticism means exclusively negative comments. It doesn't. But it sure don't mean staying positive, all the time.
  3. It might be easier to accept what I'm saying if we get it away from politics. Think about artistic and literary reviews. I've been around writers groups long enough to encounter far too many people who describe themselves as "brutally honest." Too often that phrase just means "brutal" and you don't want to be that when you critique. But you don't want to just be positive, either. The Amarillo Globe-Republican used to employ arts & entertainment reporters who gave exclusively positive reviews to productions by the Amarillo Little Theatre, the Amarillo Symphony, etc. If it was local, it was good. Those reviews were extraordinarily unhelpful. This is actually an area in which the AG-R has made progress. Current Arts Editor Chip Chandler is far more professional in his reviews than reviewers once were. By professional I mean willing to confront both the good and the bad.
  4. It seems to me that both positive and negative are terms people use to manipulate you. They're the language of behavior modification. If we're talking about message, sure, stay positive, whatever. But I'm more a writer than a politician, and I'll be evaluating, critiquing, and truth-telling when I write in this space. Sometimes that will taste like milk & cookies; sometimes it will feel like brickbats. So it goes.

Hear no Rove, See no Rove, Speak no Rove

The staff and researchers here at PTS have been waiting diligently for the Amarillo Globe-Republican to print their defense of Karl Rove who endangered 'murica's safety by exposing a CIA agent (Joe Wilson's wife) who was keeping us safe from WMD's as punishment for Joe Wilson letting America in on the fact the Bushies lied about uranium from Niger.

In fact she was "fair game" according to Rove and douchebag of freedom Bob Novak.

IOW, the uber-Christian, super-moral, patriotic, and ultra-full-of integrity war preznit's administration went after somebody's undercover wife to punish him for telling the truth.

Naaaaahh . . . no story here. Move along.

The last time the AG-R baaaaarely touched this was 2003. A quick archive search showed minimal mention. CLICK HERE

Interestingly, one of the GOP's front men for Rove defense is no other than Texas wingnut John Cornyn, who still has not signed onto the anti-lynching bill. Good choice repubs.

So, will the AG-R, who sneeringly printed hate for anyone who did not immediately salute dear leader's war (HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE) actually act like a NEWS paper and report the NEWS that Rove, Bush's brain and mouthpiece, betrayed his country?

Don't hold your breath. They will take whatever the latest RNC talking point is and run with it.

Let 'em know how you feel.


-Panhandle Truth Squad

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Corruption, Thy Name Is Republican!

In an earlier post, I went on a bit of a rampage about Republican corruption, which will be a theme of the 2006 campaign. One of the respondents took me to task for not presenting a positive Democratic message, and it's true I did not. There will be other themes next year, such as good governance, balancing the budget, strengthening public schools, and real homeland security. I'll make a commitment here and now to discussing each of these over the next few months, and some others. The respondent suggested a Democratic version of the 1994 Contract With America, and as a political strategy, that is a good idea. But we should have no illusions. We have been the party of ideas for 75 years, and those are available for all to see. No set of glib bumper stickers, however useful, is going to make our ideas better. Just as the Republican version did not make theirs any better. Just more palatable.

Indeed, part of the frustration so many of us feel about Republican corruption and hypocrisy is that so many either fail to see it or fail to be impressed by it, since they have been afflicted with the cynicism that says that all politics is like that. It isn't. Politics is simply the means by which policy is developed and implemented. If good people don't get involved in that process, then it will be dominated by those who do show up, the self-interested, the self-important and the corrupt. Does that apply only to Republicans? No, of course not. But there is a particularly virulent strain currently rampaging through the Republican Party, and part of what we do here at PTS is to point that out, and call it by name. It is vital that people recognize who is leading the Republican Party, so that there is motive for them to reexamine what Democrats believe.

So, here's some more examples. Here in Texas, we are home to the House Majority Leader, Tom DeLay. Back in 2000, Mr. DeLay found himself dissatisfied with his narrow majority in the House of Representatives, and thought that Texas should have more Republican Congressmen. So, he set out to change all that. Nothing wrong so far, right? He planned a two-pronged attack.

First, he needed a Republican state legislature. He set up a political action committee, which he called Texans for a Republican Majority PAC (TRMPAC). He installed some of his aids and close associates as the organizers of TRMPAC and sent them out to raise money to defeat 5 Democratic incumbent state representatives. Where this all ran afoul of both ethics and law is that the money was raised primarily from corporations, prohibited by Texas law from contributing directly to political campaigns. Now, these aids are under indictment, and are
struggling to defend themselves against some pretty obvious transgressions. But the grand jury also finds out that in at least one instance, one of the companies giving the donation did so explicity (in writing) in exchange for a meeting with none other than Tom DeLay. The latest twist is that the aids are claiming that they didn't violate the law because they received checks, not cash.

The second prong in the attack began in 2002, to get the newly elected Republican majority to redraw the Congressional Districts, so that they could then defeat several Democratic incumbents. Is that strictly illegal? Probably not, but it certainly broke long-standing precedent that Congressional districts should be redrawn only every 10 years, and was an example of the worst kind of gerrymandering, for the express purpose of partisan advantage. It was also during that redistricting battle that Rep. DeLay asked the Department of Homeland Security to find and return Democratic lawmakers who had left the state in order to deny a quorum for the legislature to conduct this redistricting, clearly an abuse of power. These are by no means the only ethical problems DeLay has (click here, here).

Now let's move on to another part of the country. Anybody remember Ohio? According to the Toledo Blade, a major Republican campaign contributor (to both Ohio Gov. Taft and to President Bush), named Tom Noe, whose business is in rare coins and collectibles, has a long association with Ohio politics, mainly because of his ability to pay for access. Several Taft aids are now being investigated for their relationship to Noe by the federal district attorney and by the FBI. Noe has admitted not being able to account for all the proceeds of a sale of collectible coins to the state government. He also bundled contributions of over $100,000 from Ohio to the Bush campaign, and the investigation includes the question of whether any state funds were actually contributed to political campaigns. Noe is known to have met with several political advisors at the White House in early 2003, including...wait for it...Karl Rove. Again, there is question as to whether anything strictly illegal was done, though the behavior of many of the participants suggests they have something to hide. Further, it just doesn't pass the smell test, and even if no one important is indicted, most people who know the available facts will presume that they should have been. And what is going on at Ohio's largest paper, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, who is currently sitting on stories related to official corruption in state government because they fear having to reveal their sources?

There is also an ongoing corruption scandal involving Republican officials in Kentucky. And this is all aside from the Halliburton war profiteering, the faux news releases, the intimidation of government scientists and civil servants and the propaganda machine that is the Bush administration.

All that said, if you want the positive message, come hear Chris Bell and Charles Soechting next Saturday.


Real-Time Review: Potter Springs (Prologue)

Years ago, I wrote a novel called The Preacher which was destined to remain unpublished. It had all the flaws of a first novel: lack of focus, vaulting ambition, and a raging, uncontrolled experimentalism. It also had a character, named The Preacher, who—despite being a punkish partier and postmodern doubting Thomas who eventually murders his best friend in cold blood while on a road trip—was meant to be the most sincere Christian since Christ.

It’s kind of hard to explain.

Potter Springs begins as Mark Reynolds, apparently some sort of West Texas pastor, gets pulled over by a police officer while wearing a t-shirt displaying four women in thong bathing suits.

But that’s not what reminded me of my book. What reminded me of my book was the line

Mr. Chester’s cries from the backseat subsided
. . . but then I learned that Mr. Chester was a cat who doesn’t like cars. Too bad.

The police officer serves two functions:

  1. He is Hispanic, and
  2. He interrogates Mark.
The officer's Hispanic surname balances Mark’s Anglo one, and helps to place us in West Texas multiculture. And his questions establish that Mark is heading for Mexico to look for his wife. As far as we know he hasn’t killed anyone, but the chapter does end with Mark reflecting on
the time before the losing began. Before the whirlwind and the changes and the wide, open spaces.
So: Mark Reynolds is a West Texas preacher, possibly slightly hypocritical, and he thinks things were better before the Dixie Chicks released their first hit song.

Guy must be a Republican.


Real-Time Review: Potter Springs

Believe it or not, the Amarillo newspaper editors make poor choices that go far beyond printing Republican talking points as gospel truth and refusing to take responsibility for opinion pieces. Sometime within the past couple of years the Amarillo Globe-Republican dropped a venerated section of the newspaper—the Books page. Apparently, the AG-R’s bean-counting publisher decided that Amarillites were illiterate anyway, and the back page of the Sunday Lifestyle section would be a good place to sneak in a few more ads.

So when Panhandle Truth Squad received a review copy of Britta Coleman’s Potter Springs, we decided that we were more than qualified to rectify yet another local newspaper omission. Hell, we’d found ourselves able to expose the political lies and journalistic errors of the Globe-Republican with one hand tied behind our keyboards. And we had a trained English teacher lying around (or is it laying around?—shazbot! Well, no one’s perfect—). And Coleman writes a column (the sometimes saccharine “Practically Parenting”) for the AG-R, so reviewing her book felt like another way to keep tabs on them.

So, anyways, we’ll be reading Potter Springs over the next few weeks and reviewing as we go. Because, this being a blog, we decided to experiment a little with this review and conduct it in real-time. That is to say, we’ll review chapter-by-chapter as we read. This is monstrously unfair to the author, but what are blogs if not monstrously unfair?

Oh, and one other thing. Judging the book by its cover, the thing looks like some kind of romance. Maybe even a Christian romance. Proceed at your own risk.


Monday, July 11, 2005

Roving the Buckbrush

It's about corruption, ladies and germs. Walk right up! See the three-headed monster revealed, slithering on its belly like a reptile! Yes, it has three heads, but it'll try to deceive you. Shine a light on it, and it's kinder, gentler face will swell right up to the camera, while the other two hide behind the curtain. But don't get too close! This beast has no human morality. It'll steal your job, sell your mother into slavery and eat your children whole, all in order to win the next election. Welcome to the big top of the 2006 mid-term elections!

Joshua Michael Marshall is all over the Rove story this week. A particularly juicy find is this bit about Rove's attorney, another sleeze bucket of the first order. Click here to see an instant poll of aol readers on this subject. This should all lead to a bunch of commercials. We have Bush saying he'd fire whoever was responsible, and we have Rove's attorney admitting to it. We also have Tom DeLay and Bill Frist yakking about Terri Schiavo. We have Gov. Mo' Fo' and gitondowntheroad. We have lots of legislators talking in positive terms about Bush's Social Security fiasco. And on and on.


forever human, whatever it takes

Maybe it’s a bit stale and maybe a bit cranky, but I’m a little tired of seeing the endless parade of letters praising the Amarillo Globe-Republican for its soft-focus special section “Forever Parent, Forever Child.” I have a person in my family with a—I’m going to say “disability” because I really don’t feel like being Pollyanna-istically politically correct, and the disability was never diagnosed particularly well. Members of my family are in similar situations to those depicted in the AG-R special section.

But whether you want to be politically correct or not, word choice remains important and the choice of the words “child” and “parent” were extraordinarily poor. It’s offensive to suggest that a person with a mental disability remains a child and it’s wrong to relate to them specifically as a child. The relationship between such a person and his or her caregiver is unique and not easily described by such lazy comparisons.

Granted, some parents of the disabled do work to make sure that their daughters or sons remain children in an unhealthy dance of dependency. But more of them work and sacrifice to help their sons or daughters reach the highest level of independence possible within their own barriers. The section itself depicted some such parents, but their hard work was negated by a dreadful headline. And it wasn’t my understanding that this “special section” was meant to pay tribute to “parents” who had personality disorders to complement their “children’s” disabilities.

Part of the problem is the headline-writer’s apparently shallow definition of the word “parent.” Parents are not defined by young, dependent offspring. Parents remain parents even when their children grow up to be independent adults. When the offspring grow up but cannot become independent, both parent and dependent are often locked into a relationship that is unique, difficult, challenging, occasionally rewarding in its own ways, but certainly not easily understood by simple comparisons like “Forever Parent, Forever Child.”


Lost Your Farm to Estate Tax?

Utter boolsheet. CLICK HERE

We hear this over and over from the righties. The folks in the Panhandle hear this and think it is legit. It's not.

Take a second and let 'em know in the Amarillo Globe-Republican.


-Prodigal Son

Sunday, July 10, 2005

children of the corn

The good news is that I was in the same town as Karl Rove was on Friday, breathed the same air, and did not burst into flames.

The bad news (for certain PanhandleTruthSquadlians who follow Nebraska football) is that Tom Osbourne breathed even closer to the millenial Rasputin. The beloved coach, who is apparently running for governor of the cornhusker state on the Republican ticket gorged on filet mignon with Rove at a 500-bazillion-dollar-a-plate fundraiser on Friday.

Sorry about that, chief. I know better than to mix politics and football.

There was also something about a shady attempt to reclassify Osbourne as a martyr to the faith in order that he might be faster-tracked toward Sainthood. That way Nebraskans don't have to wait around for the dude to die and perform a miracle.

If I seem a trifle cornfused, it's because I've been getting my news from the Omaha World-Something-or-Other, a paper that just might be more Republican than our own beloved AG-R.

But I'm back now. I'll get some sleep and try to post something coherant in the morning.


Saturday, July 09, 2005

State Dem Executive Meets in Austin

Something a lot of folks, even good Democrats, still don't get is that the Democratic Party really belongs to us, especially to those of us who participate. The other side simply isn't like that. Sure, they have county and precinct chairs, and good organization, but the flow of instructions is one-way. That just isn't the way the Democratic Party operates. The state party executive committee, comprised of ordinary Democrats who are exceptional only in their willingness to give their time, met today in Austin. A live blog of the event was provided by Damon McCullar over at Burnt Orange Report.

A big part of the coverage was an apparently lively presentation by presumptive gubernatorial candidate Chris Bell. Chris will be here in Amarillo next Saturday, as I wrote in an earlier post. Don't forget to come hear Chris and state party chair Charles Soechting!

Another item on the agenda for the SDEC was planning for next year's state party convention, to be held in Fort Worth June 8-10. The convention and SDEC meetings are open to all Democrats and are opportunities to participate, but Panhandle residents don't need to go to Fort Worth or Austin to participate. Come visit Potter-Randall Democratic Club meetings, 7 p.m. the 4th Monday of every month at the Amarillo Central Library.

Everyone is important. All ideas are respected. If you come and hear enough that you agree with to want to call yourself a Democrat, we won't turn you away or ignore you.


Friday, July 08, 2005

Pulling Your Lege

Sorry for the gap in reporting. Been meaning to get something out since the start of the special session.

What has basically happened over the past few weeks, for those of you who have been entranced by summer reading or hiding under a rock, is that your state government has failed once again at its most important responsibility, providing for the education of our children. House and Senate did finally pass bills for both appropriations and taxation for public education, though they were very different bills. Without going into much detail, the House bill was easily the less favorable bill. It provided teacher pay raises only based upon "merit" (an easily manipulated term of art), and a much more regressive tax structure. The chambers eventually compromised on a bill that was more based upon the Senate version (I'd give it a C-minus. grading on a curve), but Governor Mo' Fo' figured that wasn't regressive enough to satisfy the squirrel-food vote he will need in next year's Republican primary, and vetoed it.

Thus the need for the special session, known under the pink dome as the "79th legislature called session 1." Perry then unveiled his own plan, a sort of watered-down House version, and attempted a small-scale version of a Bush roadshow to promote it. Good thing for Gov. Getondowntheroad that he didn't opt for the whole-Bush version, because it worked just about as well. Lt. Gov. David Dewdropinn immediately criticized the plan for its failure to provide enough funds to meet anticipated expenses, as did Comptroller Carole Foghorn Leghorn, who announced her own candidacy for governor. House speaker Tom Crad-dick, ever eager to out-rubber-room the governor, said the plan didn't go far enough. Both houses proceeded to ignore the Perry plan, and both have recently passed bills very similar to the ones they passed during the regular session. The House version was passed much more narrowly, however, than was the Senate plan, suggesting that the Senate formula is again likely to have more impact on the final product.

A spectacular example of the arrogance of power now on the loose in Austin, especially in the regressive-dominated House, was recently revealed on the vote over HB3. HB3 is the tax plan needed to fund the school appropriations detailed in HB2. Unable to keep all his Republicans in line (the bill appeared to go down at first, and eventually passed by a single vote, with less than an absolute majority in favor), the speaker did what he knows best. He manipulated the vote, including putting the squeeze on Rep. Jim Pitts (R-Waxahachie) to vote yes, although he was formally committed to vote 'present' by House rules. Pitts had formally agreed (click here and scroll to the bottom of the article to view the signed document) to "pair" his vote with that of Rep. Dawnna Dukes (D-Austin) who would have voted no, but wanted to be with her family on a trip to France. The bill is political dynamite, mainly because it raises the state sales tax 1%, to 7.25%, the highest rate in the country. The Austin-American Statesman today editorialized in complete opposition to this bill, which clearly does little to improve education, but gives wealthy landowners a tax break at the expense of everyone else.

Meanwhile, I'm pretty sure it was KFDA that last night interviewed AISD school superintendent Rod Schroeder. He opined that this was the first year in his memory that the possibility had even been discussed that school might not start on time, due to the legislative stalemate (sorry I couldn't find a link today on any local tv news site, and the Globe-Republican -- what, are you kidding me?). Is everybody ready for "79th legislature called session 2?"


Whatsa Happenin' ?

Yak about London or Amarillo . . . whatever. Click "COMMENT" below. We wanna know what you think.

-Panhandle Truth Squad

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Calling All Panhandle Democrats!

Next Saturday evening, July 16, will be one to remember for local Democrats. Potter-Randall Democrats will host a fundraising dinner at 7 p.m. at the Amarillo United Citizens Forum (Black Cultural Center) at 903 North Hayden. Guest speakers will include state party chair Charles Soechting and likely candidate for governor, Chris Bell. Please spread the word to friends and neighbors. Please RSVP to Democratic HQ at 379-9230 or to Tim Hoffman's office at 376-8903.

We are requesting a donation of $25 per person, but waivers are available for those unable to contribute. Please join us for what promises to be an informative and entertaining evening!

Ya, you lurkers who want to hear what Democrats are all about can come, too!


We Are Britain

Today is terrible. Mass murder in London. May the wings of angels speed those on the path to glory. May those injured find healing and grace. As well for the families of same.

I have family in London right now, (wife's cousin and husband. Both teachers.) and no news is good news, how are they, Lord please shut up the talking heads, and get us some news.

So many other blogs are doing a better job, so I will let 'em have at it . . .

But I gotta say I am mad. No, I am pi**ed. This could happen to us again here.

Iraq as flypaper? utter boolsheet. CLICK HERE

Bush admin crippled Britain's anti-terror effort in 2004 CLICK HERE and HERE

Bush's policies are making us LESS safe. Terrorism has increased CLICK HERE

Another example? Bush is cutting the coast guard CLICK HERE

And my last point? If we have another attack, where the f*** is the national guard? IN IRAQ! How thin are they?

Bush has had 4 years to get us ready. His priorities? Tax cuts. Piratization of social security. More tax breaks. Rebuilding Iraq (Right!). Getting our troops armored humvees (Right!).

Keeping our borders safe? Keeping our chemical and nuke plants safe? Keeping our ports safe? What do you think PTS'ers? feel safer?

More thoughts after I have cooled down a tad . . .

-Prodigal Son

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

What Goes Around Goes Around

The noose seems to be tightening around Karl Rove in the Plame scandal, but I for one am not going to get my hopes up. There is no accountability in Bushworld. There is no karma.

Did the Enron scandal ever really hurt the Bushies? Ahmed Chalabi? Mission Accomplished? Abu Ghraib? The 9/11 Commission Report? Jeff Gannon/James Guckert? Even if, by some weird quirk, actual charges are pressed against administration officials in the Plame affair I'm sure Dubya will start handing out pardons, just like daddy did for the Iran-Contra players.

The Bush Administration - proof there is no god.

AG-R Ghost Speaks On SCOTUS Choice

According to the Globe-Republican this AM, Shrub has two choices when picking a new supreme court judge:

He can stick it in the eye of his opponents by appointing a conservative firebrand. Or, he can appoint someone just like the justice he wants to replace. The president ought to take the latter course, which still would enable him to keep arguably his most important campaign pledge."


Nothing in there about experience, nothing about education or whether America needs an idealogue or a moderate, a theocrat or a believer in the separation church and state, etc . . .

Nope, Shrubster's choices are to poke the eyes of half the country, or replace Sandra Day (A moderate) with . . . another moderate? Did the AG-R just call for a moderate?

Yes they did in their typical half-a**ed way, and PTS agrees. But let's get some info about what's actually happening in this fight, something you cannot gather from this scribbled unsigned pravda piece.

The wingnuts on the religious right, you know 'em, the ones who forced Bush to cut a vacation short to intrude on a family matter (Schiavo)
want to overturn Roe v. Wade, they want legalize discrimination against gays, they want to end access to contraception, they want to destroy privacy rights....and they aren't going to stop until they get all of these.

To them, that's what this Supreme Court battle is about. And they own Bush.

Another prob for the Repubs, Radical Cleric James Dobson and his ilk WANT an ideological litmus test for SCOTUS candidates. They are the ones being most vocal about this, not Democrats.

PTS'ers, we already KNOW he will nominate a conservative. For the AG-R to come out and say he should nominate a conservative is the same as saying in essence, " Bush should nominate a human." Altogether now . . . Duh!

So, Bush's actual THREE choices are these:

1. Nominate a Bush Crime family loyalist (Gonzales) who is short on experience and moral judgement (Torture memos), and someone who will stir up the American Mullahs?

2. Nominate an American Mullah fav like 10 commandment nutball Judge Roy Moore, that will trigger a filibuster and also upset moderate Repubs?

3. Act like a leader, consult with Democrats and moderate Repubs like Clinton did, and nominate someone who will SERVE the American people.

Sure would be swell to read some of this "news" from our local "newspaper" eh?

Liberal Oasis BREAKS IT DOWN

What do
YOU think? Click "Comment" below.

-Panhandle Truth Squad