“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"

Monday, October 31, 2005

Teaching and Preaching

The debate over including intelligent design in public school science curricula continued in today's Globe-Republican opinion pages. I've seen all manner of twisted logic used to argue against the teaching of evolution, but today's LTE from Jerry Lytle is the first I've seen to bring Hitler into the mix. Lytle claims that intelligent design should be brought into the classroom "to balance the scales" with evolution. His argument is flawed, because evolution, in and of itself, says nothing about the existence of God and as such can't truly be considered a polar opposite to I.D. In fact, whether or not a student believes God is involved in the process is already a matter of personal opinion. Bringing I.D. into the classroom would change that dramatically.

The basis behind I.D. is that life is too complex and seems to well thought-out to have simply just happened. There must be a divine, intelligence (i.e. God) behind it all. Proponents of I.D. want a teacher (or text book) explicitly telling students the driving force behind evolution is God. "Give the students all the options and let them decide for themselves.", state supporters of I.D. OK, fair enough. How about that same group of students being told explicitly by a teacher (or text book) that the origins of life are completely random and God is imaginary, and then backing up that claim with real world observation. Is that a debate I.D. supporters want playing out in public school science classroom? We're giving students ALL the options and letting them decide for themselves, after all.

I.D. in the classroom also brings up the sticky issue of how much God is too much? Where would the line be drawn between teaching and preaching? Who will make that determination, the state or the local school boards? It is a Pandora's box of issues that will very likely blow up in the faces of its supporters.

Friday, October 28, 2005

can't wait to see how the amarillo globe-republican blames this on clinton

going boldly

I learned my earliest progressive ideals as a second grader watching the self-consciously diverse crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise battle hostile aliens that would later be inevitably assimilated into the Federation's high-tech melting pot. It was an optimistic, if naïve, future. It was also, apparently, even more diverse than we could have known at the time.

I never know exactly what to say when someone comes out. “Congratulations”? “You have my support”? Over the years, many friends have gone through that strange ritual, and they all needed support and deserved congratulations for doing something that remains difficult in this culture.

But, ideally, there would be no support necessary and no congratulations because none of this would matter. The Federation, which could easily accept asexual life forms and species with far more than two genders into its big tent, wouldn’t have cared if Takei’s character, Sulu, were gay. The über-masculine James T. Kirk wouldn’t have ever considered fag-bashing in the manner of 20th-century jocks1. He would have been calculating his odds: Let’s see, Sulu’s a raging queen, and Spock only has sex once every seven years, that leaves all the sexy alien females for meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

How long must we sing this song? How long must people “come out”? How long must gay people sit their families down, hearts pounding, and say what everyone has long known in their heart? How long must people join support groups and read self-help books to try to understand? How long must mothers say Just don’t tell your father? How long must siblings keep secrets? How long must we face this contrived “issue”? Until the 23rd century?

We can vote on "issues." We can disagree on "issues." Warren Chisum can write an amendment to the Texas Constitution that deals with the “issue” of gay marriage and still be an essentially decent person who just happens to disagree with the Panhandle Truth Squad.

But it’s not an issue. It’s people. People who are who they are, and Chisum and all the Texans who support Proposition 2 support laws that deny family rights to some people. If you’re straight and planning to vote for Proposition 2, take a picture of your closest gay friend2 into the voting booth with you. Personalize the issue. Can you vote to make your friend an untouchable? Can you vote to make Sulu a pariah?


1 I know what century it is. It’s just that we’re only five years into it, and I’m hoping that narrow-minded bigotry doesn’t characterize the whole century.

2 If you don’t think you know any gay people, I’m not worried about your vote. You won’t be able to make it to the polls with that blindfold on.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Never Say Die

Oops, sorry Globe-Republican. Looks like Harriet Miers won't be heading to the Supreme Court, after all. She was eaten by her own. Poor thing. She just seemed like the bestest ever.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

bouncing happy faces?

Supposedly, Wal-Mart is improving its employees' health care benefits, attempting to be a "good steward" for the environment, even calling for a higher minimum wage. So what's up? Has the paradigmatic hypercorporate megachain found Jesus? Have we won one?

I have to admit to mixed feelings upon reading these reports. I hate Wal-Mart politically, philosophically, spiritually, culturally, and spatially. They could make all of these changes and more and it wouldn't change the fact that those Gawd-awful stores are a butt-ugly fluorescent blight across 98.4% of North America, and it's going to take me twice as long to creep my car down Georgia Street as soon as the latest one opens.

I avoid shopping there. Like the freaking plague.

But I also have relatives who work for the company. One has worked a number of jobs that I wouldn't touch, but he is also an essentially decent person in extremis and seems quite happy. The other Wal-employed relative is learning disabled and has had significant trouble finding work. The local Wal-Mart actually pays and (so far) treats her better than any other job has.

So far. Ah, there's the rub. Right now, in the microcosm of my family life and the macrocosm of national and global corporate politics, Wal-Mart seems to be doing some things right, maybe.

Like Hamlet, I know not seems. But I am old enough to remember that it used to be quite hip, in the 1980s, to Buy American. You see where I'm going with this: all those red-white-and-blue stickers on all those products under all those fluorescent lights in all those Wal-Marts. And every single one a cynical lie.

So is Wal-Mart really going to start treating its employees, my relatives, and the world better?

We'll see.


2000 Too Many

Another black line crossed.

Question War Amarillo asks you to come honor the dead and support the living.

Help us end the war on Iraq and bring our troops home now, alive and whole.

Wednesday, October 26th
5:15 Meet at the Gazebo in Memorial Park
5:30 Washington Street overpass at I-40 to display banners
6:00 March back to the Gazebo along Washington St.
6:30 Flashlight/candle vigil at Gazebo

World Shaker

Rosa Parks


"The only thing we did wrong,
Stayed in the wilderness a day too long.
But the one thing we did right,
Was the day we started to fight.
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on, hold on."

Give our regards to Dr. King, Rosa.

-Panhandle Truth Squad
Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 24, 2005

Question War: If you don't, who will?

2000/Too Many

There's nothing magical about the 2000th American to die in the Iraq War. Each of the 1999 before are just as precious, tragic and missed. And we become lost in numbers and uncounted tragedy when we consider the tens of thousands of Iraqis murdered in this war of choice waged by the Bush cabal.

Here's why it's important.

This is a teachable moment. People who don't usually pay attention just may notice. It may dawn on them that something is wrong, that 2000 is just too damn many, that there doesn't seem to be an end to the black counting of the dead, that this war just goes on and on for no damn good reason.

And that's why we do something.

Right now, as I write this late Monday night, the American death toll is at 1997 (check here). Either Tuesday or Wednesday (or hopefully longer), the number of heart-broken families will most likely reach or exceed 2000. The day following that sad day, Question War Amarillo will hold a march and vigil to honor those who have died and focus attention once again on the need to end the war on Iraq and get our troops home now, whole and alive.

I'll post a notice with the day of the action. That day, we'll meet at 5:15 at the Gazebo in Memorial Park on South Washington by Amarillo College. We will walk to the Washington Street overpass at I-40 and fly banners that say "Iraq Dead 2000 Too Many". If you prefer, you can meet us at the overpass at 5:30. At 6:00 we'll march back to the Gazebo for a vigil at 6:30. Bring a flashlight. If it's calm, bring a candle too.

Remember - we are the majority now. Most people (Americans and Iraqis) want our troops home and this tragedy of a war to end. We end it by changing one heart at a time. Come and help do that. We need you.

déjà voodoo

You know, we at the Panhandle Truth Squad have been demanding the Amarillo Globe-Republican newsroom Ghostly VoiceTM's head since way back. And we know the Ghost reads us and takes to heart all we have to say-- and maybe that Ghost really wants to change.

But, really, Ghost, get a clue. Adopting PTS's ethical demands for your corner of the Opinion page means a hella lot more than just stealing our bad jokes. (scroll down to "the ugly")


while we were living in a dream world, clouds got in the way

Monday morning: As I write journal assignments on Ye Olde Chalk Board, teenagers walk by in the hall eagerly discussing their weekend carousing. I sit at my desk for a minute to scan the local newspaper for the small town I teach in. A front page article details the misadventures of a school board member who was the lone vote against implementing the Worth the Wait abstinence education program in our district. Apparently, he wants to preserve the “innocence of hundreds of kiddos” by not having any sex education at all. I recall taking up a note from a student in which she bemoaned the difficulty of “get[ing] ‘er done” when her boyfriend was a virgin. I have to say, this school board member may not actually have been in a school in a while.

Not that I’m all that crazy about Worth the Wait. My own sixth-grade son attends a school that has implemented the curriculum, and I have mixed feelings about that. But my objections to Worth the Wait stem from the program’s fantastical abstinence-only message. In the county where I teach—where eighth-graders are sexually active and many seniors have two children—Worth the Wait struggles to close the barn door when the horse is several hundred miles away, partying like a Las Vegas hooker.

So I guess we’re all living in a dream world. School board members imagine that their sixth graders are innocent young babes frolicking with talking vegetables on a green green playground. I happily fantasize that fundies may someday accept reality-based education. The quaint old Age of Reason dream of liberal democracy would maintain therefore that the compromise, midway position of the Worth the Wait program is the Best of All Possible Worlds. Is it?


Friday, October 21, 2005

welcome to hell

From majickthise, I really dig this guy's sign.


fall colors

Apparently, the TExterminator's wife wore a dress to court that matched her husband's tie. The color? Orange. Tom must read GQ. I think that's where I read that you should try out new colors before you suddenly wear a whole-- say-- jumpsuit in that color. In the Pink has the picture and the fashion critique.

And, um, a new judge?! Just because Perkins had supposedly donated money to moveon.org? Delay's lawyer claims that MoveOn is selling DeLay mugshot t-shirts, but, if they are, I haven't got the e-mail. And-- how shall we put this?-- MoveOn is usually quite good at publicizing their initiatives.

Maybe Kinky's campaign manager had MoveOn confused with this organization?

The whole thing sounds like a DeLaying tactic to me.


tom the muggle

Well, there are always a few.

Some isolated members of the Hand-Wringing Liberal crowd are disappointed in the Tom Delay mugshot. It does't even look like a mugshot, they whine. It looks like a yearbook photo, like he had it taken for the fraternity reunion. He's smiling, for Chrisssakes! He had the whole state of Texas to choose from; he must've gone to a friendly sheriff to turn himself in. Someone who would cooperate with his desire to have a photo his opponent couldn't use against him. He must have been coached to smile like that.

And worst of all: if Tom Delay can have such a purty mugshot released, what reason do we have to believe that Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, and Dick Cheney will have to face justice for the Plame Game?

While I don't dispute most of the facts and interpretation of the HWL plaint, I disagree with the tone. I just don't dig whiners, and I see no reason for it now. Because, as zenbowl pointed out on Daily Kos,

what sort of a party has a Mugshot Strategy?
The sort of party that needs one, obviously.


Thursday, October 20, 2005

I fought the law and the law won

Posted on The Daily Delay.

Apparently, the Texterminator can check in anywhere in the state. Apparently, he wants to avoid the "media circus" that he would face in his own bugstomping grounds of Sugarland. Apparently, he'd like to go somewhere far, far away in the hopes that no one will see him get fingerprinted and mugshot.

Hey, Tom! Come up here to the Panhandle! We hear it's a very nice place to get arrested!


Wednesday, October 19, 2005

jorj boosh noo

I've never been able to shake the image of the first Presidential debate of 2004, the one where W whined about all the hard work that was involved in being Emperor. Mostly what still stands out is the utter vacuousness and emptiness of the man that stood cluelessly on stage. Watching that debate, it was hard to believe that he was aware of his immediate surroundings, not to mention the larger pictures of national and global politics.

But perhaps we should be less horrified by that ignorant W and more grateful for it. Because there's a two-word meme that keeps bubbling to the surface. Rather than clueless, this particular short clause portrays the emperor as an aware participant.

The implications are always horrifying when you hear it: Bush knew.


hell isn’t just for children

For some reason, I’m hearing Elizabeth Hurley as Mrs. Kensington, saying, “you have to understand, in Britain in the Sixties you could be a sex symbol and still have bad teeth.” So curl up, children, and I’ll assert this: my own misspent youth was also a different time. In Amarillo in the Eighties, even Caprock students could throw eggs.

In the fall of 2005, our unFair City has just lurched through another Hell Week. Kids from Amarillo High and Tascosa spent all of last week egging and paintballing the holy living crap out of each other. At the same time, the goodwill fostered throughout the city by Mayor Debra McCartt’s omnipresence at Charity Runs, Musician-infested Fundraisers, and Nothing But Noodles also lurches to a crashing end as the city finally faces the long-threatened lawsuit advocating single-member districts.

In the fall of 1985, me and my friend and some kid named Billy climbed into a huge red Impala and headed over to the west side of town. We were Caprock kids and used to being blamed for everything. Just a few years before, John McKissack had run a muckraking story on Channel Seven about low-riders at Bowie Junior High. John thought low-riders were gangsters; we knew low-riders were cars and were only a little afraid of the cholos McKissack was actually fretting about. We knew they were semi-violent potheads, but by junior year they had mostly dropped out of school, and usually left people like us alone anyway. We were new-wavish preppie wanna-bes and tended to hang out in places where we encountered super-violent cokeheads from Amarillo High and Tascosa. In short, our Hell often came from Polos, not cholos.

So when the Amarillo High-Tascosa rivalry week rolled around, we saw the opportunity to raise some Hell of the sort that would get blamed on our natural enemies. Who can resist that? So we piled into my friend’s Impala and drove over to Amarillo High. A school dance was taking place and the parking lot was filled with Mazda RX-7’s, B-mers, and the odd Mercedes. Billy hopped out of the car while it was still in motion; he had seen a new ‘vette that belonged to someone he kind of knew. He grabbed the egg, his arm pulled back, his mullet flapped in the autumn wind. . .

The thing about egging cars is that it seems so much less destructive than it actually is. An egg left on a car can destroy a new paint job. And, we found out, an egg thrown by an angry failed athlete named Billy can dent the door of a 1980s vintage Corvette pretty seriously. We hurried Billy back into the Impala and raced the Hell out of there, laughing in the knowledge that the whole thing would get blamed on some poor sap from Tascosa.

By junior year, we were already tired, tired as Hell of being stigmatized as east-siders. We fancied ourselves upwardly mobile and often ended up in social situations where people would talk about Caprock students as if we all carried knives and dime-bags to class. So when Billy’s egg dented some Amarillo High Corvette’s door; well, that was just things evening out.

It happens. Things Even Out. In a world where most people have either a four-year-old (“that’s not fair!”) or an Old Testament (“an eye for an eye!”) sense of justice, things will find a way to even out. And when AHS and THS students run around like Visigoths trashing each others’ neighborhoods, well, there will always be some CHS student tired of getting shat on, who'll take advantage of the opportunity.

In 2005, I live in Bivins, in Tascosa. And from the stories and sirens I’ve heard, it looks to me like most of this year's Hell Week violence was in Tascosa’s area. And since people don’t trash their own neighborhoods, I have to assume that Amarillo High does most of the trashing these days. At least, that’s what it looks like from here.

Of course, I’m probably wrong about that. If I lived in Amarillo High’s district, I’m sure I'd hear sirens during Hell Week and talk to neighbors who were similarly kept awake all night by amok teenagers. But this is what I’m not wrong about, and what the Amarillo Globe-Republican doesn’t understand: people don’t trash their own neighborhoods.

You’re a Republican, a racist, a regressive, a curious Texan, you’ll say I’m wrong. You’ll cite anecdotal evidence and crime statistics. You’ll point maybe to the Los Angeles riots of the first Bush administration. Of course, people trash their own neighborhoods, you’ll say. Bad people. Poor people. Black people. Mexicans. Caprock students.

And I’ll say: we didn’t. We were poor, and from Caprock, and pretty bad most of the time. But we didn’t trash our own neighborhood because we were smart and we knew it and we were going somewhere. We felt ownership in our own lives and when people stepped on us we stepped back.

But we only had three of the strikes I mentioned against us. Some people have more. Some people are elderly poor black Mexicans from the east-side who work sixty hours a week at Wal-Mart for minimum wage and they’re freaking tired and probably sick because they got no health care. Some people get stepped on everyday and have nothing to step back with. And that’s when they start fouling their own nest.

This has been a divided city for a long as anyone can remember, and nothing has changed so far. The Amarillo-Globe Republican Ghostly Voice says that the elderly poor black Mexicans should just vote. Well, I’m afraid that’s a cruel joke.

Because after you steal everything from someone, they own nothing. And if you’re the thief, you really shouldn’t complain if they show no pride of ownership. Even if your teeth are rotted to the core, you could have been a sex symbol once upon a time, according to Mrs. Kensington, who should know. And even poor, black, Hispanic, whatever Amarilloans ought to be enfranchised in this rotten city. Single-member districts might accomplish that. Nothing else has.


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

what an interesting time. . .

. . . Prodigal Son picked to turn over the keys to the asylum to the inmates. Rumors are flying that Prodigal's file is one of the 22 and that he will have to lay low for awhile.

We are, of course, kidding. The rest of us wish Prodigal Son well on his attempts to convert the savages in Dixie. Good night, as they say, and good luck.

And speaking of inmates, I remember asking, a thousand years ago, during the darkest and headiest Days of Monica: Do we really want to have a President of the United States sitting in jail?

The answer to my question, I now realize, is yes.



S'long y'all !

As a few of you PTS'ers know, I post remote from an undisclosed location located somewhere in the heart of dixie.

This blog has been an unbelievable success to this point. (21,000 visitors in just a year and a half. 'nuff said) and it's still gaining speed. Because of you, not the staff at PTS.

Next year are the mid-term elections, Chris Bell will be a strong opponent for Guv Godhair, and this blog will be right in the thick of things. So will you.

That said, we need something like PTS where I live.


The righties are making a frakkin' (battlestar galactica dude!) mess of things, and liberals need a campfire to gather 'round and start the fight to make those damn republicans go the way of the WHIG party.

I am stepping out to start up something local, and I need something from you . . .

Spacedark, Blogarillo, PazAmarillo, Ain'tgoinaway, Liberalator, and demophoenix, etc. will be leading the charge here at PTS., but you readers are crucial.

  • Send people our way, we have grown through word of mouth.
  • Respond to our email alerts and write a letter to the editor of the Amarillo-Republican News.
  • Get mad. Fanny Lou Hamer said, "I am sick and tired of being sick and tired." That you? Speak up.
It's been fun here. Texas can be made better for our kids. So can my new hometown.


-Prodigal Son

Friday, October 14, 2005

write your own headline

You always think that you couldn't lose any more respect for the Emperor W. After all, he's the Worst. President. Ever. A drunken frat-boy. A smirking monkey. A sniggering snob. A moronic simpleton. An acultural fleshwaste. A sock-puppet. A lost tabula rasa in a position of ultimate power, wandering confusedly through the onslaught of history.

In short, what is there to like? What is there not to hate? And how could it ever be worse?

But it always, inevitably, relentlessly, gets worse. An aside revelation, barely noticed on The Smoking Gun. Speedreading towards Bethlehem, slouching down the information dirt roads, you see it. A post script at the bottom of a note from the Emperor to his newest Judge. And somehow, though you never thought it possible, you lose a little more respect for George W. Bush.

As you ponder what it could possibly mean: "No more public scatology"???


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Monday, October 10, 2005

Punchin' Judy

Interesting things happening for the Bushistas this week . . . pull out the comfy chair . . . nobody expects the spanish inquisition!

What high level indictments might come from Plamegate? I am taking 10-1 odds that Bush WILL pardon anyone involved.

How come the Globe-Republican does not write about a spy caught in the White House?

NYTimes, please fire Judith "Pravda" Miller already.

Oh, and John Kanelis, when you have the "ghost" write an editorial about the FEDERAL guvmint doing things to states rights, just who exactly IS the fed?

Or to be more precise . . . remind me just who has control of all three branches up there in D.C.? I noticed you left that out. Hacks.

-Prodigal Son

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Question War Film Series

Question War Film Series
Sunday, October 9, 2 pm
Amarillo Public Library, 2nd floor
4th and Buchannon, downtown

Our 2nd Sunday of the month film will be Voices In Wartime, a "74-minute documentary that delves into the experience of war through powerful images and the words of poets – unknown and world-famous. Soldiers, journalists, historians and experts on combat interviewed in Voices in Wartime add diverse perspectives on war’s effects on soldiers, civilians and society."

Poets featured in the film are Chris Abani, Marilyn Nelson, Sinan Antoon, Wilfred Owen, W.H. Auden, Sherman Pearl, Rachel Bentham, Peter Levitt, Sampurna Chattarji, Alexandra Indira Sanyal, David Connolly, Siegfried Sassoon, Emily Dickinson, Alan Seeger, Ali Habash, Hashim Shafiq, Pamela Talene Hale, Shoda Shinoe, Sam Hamill, Enheduanna,Seamus Heaney, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Homer, Antonieta Villamil, Langston Hughes, Emily Warn, Walt Whitman, Randall Jarrell, Todd Swift, Cameron Penny.

For more information, visit the Voices In Wartime website.


A poem from the movie

I Saw His Round Mouth's Crimson
by Wilfred Owen

I saw his round mouth's crimson deepen as it fell,
Like a Sun, in his last deep hour;
Watched the magnificent recession of farewell,
Clouding, half gleam, half glower,
And a last splendour burn the heavens of his cheek.
And in his eyes
The cold stars lighting, very old and bleak,
In different skies.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

. . . "no, your worship, it's bin laden-- b-i-n, not b-e-n-- as in "bargain bin", not "gentle ben" . . .

A picture from a different time, as seen on dkos.

August 6, 2001, to be exact. The day the Emperor W glanced at the memo entitled "Bin Laden Determined To Strike in US" and then went outside to play.

Did the newest SCOTUS nominee also handle that infamous document?


Monday, October 03, 2005

Ch-ch-ch-changes . . .

On the right side, check out the Texas Blog Wire. It shows recent posts from other lefty blogs in the lone star state.

It is updated every 15 minutes or so, and since PTS is now part of the feed to other blogs . . . who knows who might read your posts!

Also got rid of two ads. Bush's social security dismantling plan is DOA for now, so is the plan to crush PBS. For now.

Whadda ya thinkin' bout today?

-Panhandle Truth Squad