“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"

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth, or "There You Gore Again"

Shockingly, conservatives have been misrepresenting Al Gore again. This time they are claiming that Gore suggested exaggerating the dangers of global warming. Here's the quote which I ran across on a local conservative website.

In the United States of America, unfortunately we still live in a bubble of unreality. And the Category 5 denial is an enormous obstacle to any discussion of solutions. Nobody is interested in solutions if they don't think there's a problem. Given that starting point, I believe it is appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentations on how dangerous it is, as a predicate for opening up the audience to listen to what the solutions are, and how hopeful it is that we are going to solve this crisis.

Over time that mix will change. As the country comes to more accept the reality of the crisis, there's going to be much more receptivity to a full-blown discussion of the solutions.
When I first read this on Ivory Dome1, I honestly couldn't fathom what Gore was being accused of. An over-representation of facts? Well, that's just Al being Al.

It took a little surfing to learn that Bodacious was parroting a wild claim made by professional ostrich Patrick Michaels. Michaels apparently told Sean Hannity that Gore "says it's appropriate to over-represent the danger on this issue."

Um, no. Grammar lesson: the prepositional phrase "of factual presentations" modifies "over-representation." The object of the preposition is "factual". Not danger, not hype, not exaggerated.

Conservatives just hate it when you call them "Orwellian," maybe because they don't like being compared to Big Brother but also possibly because they'd have to read a book to understand the comparision. But when they tell us that "facts" = "lies" what on Earth else are we supposed to call them?

As for Bodacious' claim that the "the speaker wants to 'fix the facts around the policy'," that's just nuts. Gore isn't in charge of any policy outside of the Gore household. He is no longer a public servant. The Supreme Court made sure of that.


1 Which is becoming so infested with our trolls that I suggest renaming the site Panhandle Goon Squad to more accurately portray it as the PTS spinoff that it is.

yet another reason why corporations aren't people

The human beings who made up the Nazi regime don't have "solid balance sheet[s] and generate . . . cashflow." They've either gone to meet their final judgment or will do so very, very soon. They don't get to be 170 years old, rich, and forgiven by the world.


Monday, May 29, 2006


"Fading light dims the sight,
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright.
From afar drawing nigh -- Falls the night.

"Day is done, gone the sun,
From the lake, from the hills, from the sky.
All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.

"Then good night, peaceful night,
Till the light of the dawn shineth bright,
God is near, do not fear -- Friend, good night."


Sunday, May 28, 2006

bodacious exposed . . . and he needs help

Many of us often wonder about the Republican and/or arch-conservative trolls who cruise these parts. They have noms de blog like bodacious or celtictexan and spout all manner of gibberish. What do they get out of pestering us?, we wonder. And, more to the point, who the hell are they? We let them ramble because they show us, in blogarillo's words, the "true face of conservatism."

But the only time we've actually seen one of them, he had a smagh pretty much covering his face. We've never really been able to look upon the true face of conservatism. Until now.


Thursday, May 25, 2006

Lay down and enjoy it

Ken Lay, Jeffrey Skilling and their merry band of corporate robber barons, lived like sultans while robbing many Texans of their jobs, savings, and benefits.

And, of course, the retirement pensions.

Now Lay and Skilling will live out their own retirements on the federal government's dime. They will age into decrepitude in a concrete cell surrounded by mother-stabbers and father-rapers.

Or, at any rate, they'll be deprived of some freedom in a federal pen where they are only allowed to play tennis with the other white-collar criminals for a limited number of hours.

You take justice where you can get it

[i]n the corrupted currents of this world
[where] Offence's gilded hand may shove by justice
And oft 'tis seen the wicked prize itself
Buys out the law.
But if there is any sense of justice in the depths of the Emperor W's fallen and frozen soul, he will not even consider pardoning his old friend. If the hallowed title he has held for five long years has come to mean anything to him, if he has acquired any sense of responsibility for the ordinary human beings he serves, he will not privilege a corporation and its earthly representive over his "fellow" Texans. I'll go on record here: I can't believe that even George W. Bush would be able to summon the blatant evil that would be necessary to sign a pardon order for Kenneth Lee Lay.

But I could be speaking too soon.


Don't Panic

March 25th is Towel Day. If you don't know what that means, get thee to a library.

Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy is a book that rekindled a lost love of reading. As a pre-teen I enjoyed reading, but had gotten out of the habit once sports became my dominate after school activity in Jr. high school. One day I noticed Spacedark had been reading the same book a couple of days in a row. I asked him what he was reading, and if it was any good. He told me the book was H2G2. He gave it a pretty rousing recommendation, and noted that it was funny as well. I promptly forgot everything he said to resume cracking skullz and taking names.

The following summer, I started walking across the street to the library. This was mostly to escape the heat of our air conditionless house, but partly to relieve boredom. I would spend several hours browsing through the books, but never picking one to read. Finally, I wandered into the sci-fi section and stumbled across H2G2. Remembering Spacedark's comments, I checked it out and took it home. What followed was two days of sitting in my dad's recliner, giggling like a school girl. My parents thought I had gone off my rocker. Every time they would ask me what was so funny, I would just shake my head and tell them they would have to read the book to get the joke. After finishing that book, I went back to the library and read all the sequels. The rest of my summer was spent reading any science fiction book that looked remotely interesting.

So, the next time your in the restaurant at the end of the universe, sipping a pan galactic gargle blaster, turn on your SEP field, grab a book to jump start the improbability drive of your imagination, and leave your troubles behind. Oh, and don't forget your towel.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

El Pueblo Unido

I was proud to march with the thousands in Amarillo on May 1 for immigrant justice. I was energized and uplifted by what is possible when people come together.

But I am continually dismayed at the ignorance and ill will expressed by too many of my fellow citizens (read here, here and here for the sampling of letters the AGN could print; many others were too vicious for ink). People need to educate themselves with facts, not blind themselves with prejudice. And hearts must be enlightened with compassion, not darkened with exclusion.

Do some research and this is what you’ll find (thanks to the Pew Hispanic Center). Families with children make up 41% of unauthorized migrants, and 2/3 of the 4.7 million children in those families are US citizens. Three-fourths of those families are mixed with regard to citizenship, with some parents or children unauthorized and some US citizens. This is a big reason youth are so energized; Republican-proposed legislation threatens to criminalize unauthorized presence and tear families apart.

Most unauthorized adults have paying jobs (75%). The 6.3 million unauthorized workers are 4.3% of the American labor force; 92% of men and 56% of women work outside the home. Unauthorized workers dominate in service occupations, agriculture and meatpacking, construction and extractive industries, and production, installation and repair industries.

But, on average, those jobs don’t pay much; median income for immigrant workers is only $300/week; unauthorized workers earn 43% less than native workers. The system is designed to keep workers voiceless and without rights, silently exploited by businesses that benefit from their labor. This is the dirty little secret that they don’t want you to know.

Those who work and shop and rent are paying taxes. We’re not talking about a free-loaders or Reaganesque welfare queens, but hard workers doing hard jobs for a lot less than native workers earn.

It is not a crime to work hard, to seek a better life, to provide for your family, and to enrich the culture and economy where you live. Immigrants do this. Just like all hard-working Americans.

It is wrong to operate an economic system that exploits people and gives them no voice or power. It is wrong to seek to break and divide families and uproot productive lives. It is wrong to let hate and fear and racism poison the common air of our society.

The immigrant justice movement is about workers’ rights. The movement is about families. The movement is about fairness. If you’re a working man or working woman, you need to be marching with us. Don’t accept the crumbs the system hands you and deny even that to others. Stand together, not apart, and demand what’s right and fair. Most Americans have more in common with our immigrant brothers and sisters than with those whose pale hands are on the levers of economic and political power.

Immigrants will only enrich America. They always have; poor Swedish farmers like my great-grand parents, or the working families I was honored to march with. I will march again, because justice and fairness compel us to put our feet on the street and join our voices in solidarity with those whom we have common cause.

no dan quayle

Lloyd Bentsen is dead. He used to be our Senator. In fact, he was the very first political figure to whom I wrote a letter about a political issue. That would have been around the turn of the decade between the 1970s and 1980s. I wrote in support of Amtrak. My letter fulfilled some sort of merit badge requirement, back when we thought that the Boy Scouts were merely teaching citizenship and before we knew they were a gay-bashing, fundie front organization.

Later, Lloyd Bentsen was the first Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate I refused to vote for. 1988 was the first Presidential election in which I was eligible to vote, but I couldn’t bring myself to vote for either Bush père or Dukakis. And back then we still had the luxury of pursuing a stubborn independence. Maybe someday, when things aren’t so polarized, and when the American government no longer spies on its citizens and distrusts free speech, and when environmental protections have been restored and our health care system isn’t killing us; maybe then I can wander drunkenly back into some off-the-chart third party and live out my dotage in the kind of ideological purity I enjoyed when I refused to vote for the top of Bentsen’s ticket in 1988.

He was a bipartisan moderate who defeated both the left (Ralph Yarborough in the primary) and the right (Congressman George Bush in the general election) to win his first Senate term. He wasn’t perfect, but he wasn’t a disaster, either. He belonged to a different time. He once told us he knew Jack Kennedy. He served with Jack Kennedy, he said. Requiescat in pace, Senator. Say hi to Jack.


Sunday, May 21, 2006


Yeah, but Ruth not only didn't take steroids, he had an appetite for substances that actually disenhanced his performance.


Saturday, May 20, 2006

drinking liberally in the merry merry month of may

"I mean, for god's sake, it's
Raspberry Beret, not Strawberry Parade. And Prince is not 'bubblegum rock'"

newsguygeorge demonstrates how one Drinks Liberally. Democrats everywhere express shock and horror.

As lequino induces a trance state, the Blue Force of Progressivism emanates from his head. John watches the process with concern.

The Blue Force of Progressivism envelops Erik's shirt.

... and blogarillo says F.U. and good night.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

we might be laughing a bit too loud / ah, but that never hurt no one

I just can’t believe all the things people say. – Controversy.
Am I black or white? Am I straight or gay? – Controversy.
Do I believe in god? Do I believe in me? – Controversy,
Controversy, Controversy.

Prince, “Controversy”

Creating a controversy, I’ve learned, is like writing humor. You can’t do it if you try too hard; it only happens when you’re just surfing, sailing along, being yourself. Suddenly, out of the clear blue sky, there it is.

We’ve recently received some negative feedback about Drinking Liberally. Not much—and nothing compared to the positive feedback we’ve received—but some. The Democrats who complained expressed shock and horror, cited drunk-driving statistics, and said we were an embarrassment.

Now, we at Panhandle Truth Squad would never deny the fact that we are an embarrassment to The Party. We wouldn’t have it any other way. But I do think it's strange that this would be an issue since I have consumed alcohol at fundraisers, watch parties, candidate meet-and-greets, and while canvassing Iowa in the snow. My understanding is that Republicans, Independents, Greens, and Libertarians also drink occasionally.

Furthermore, my gut reaction is to say that progressivism is about expanding human freedoms not denying them. But I'll try to be more charitable than that.

My purpose in starting a chapter of DL here was to attract newer people and younger people to the Cause. There are a number of folks who—for all sorts of reasons—are unable or unwilling to agitate in the traditional ways. And, as I’ve expressed, we in the netroots generation are growing doubtful of the efficacy of those traditional methods, anyway.

So we’re not so much trying to recruit volunteers as establish a network of people who will talk and spread progressive ideas and ideals. Read between the lines: if you come to Drinking Liberally, we won’t pressure you to canvass nor to give us money. That kind of politics has its place—but so do we. And we believe that a casual conversation over intoxicants can accomplish as much as a knocked door or a pamphleted car. Drinking Liberally chapters sponsor Laughing Liberally events, progressive book signings, and Screening Liberally progressive movie nights in other parts of the country. Eventually, we would like to do these kinds of things, but we have to establish the network first.

I guess I intuit that some of the fun has gone out of liberalism in recent decades. Woody Guthrie used to sing those great songs; mischievous Yippies once nominated Pigasus for President; and there was a time when Hunter Thompson shot his guns at targets other than himself. Now, much of the general public associates us with PC police, strict and humorless vegans, and would-be car and gun regulators. And I have to say that some of the reactions we’ve received to Drinking Liberally suggest that the stereotype isn't altogether undeserved.

Nevertheless, we believe that many people will still go where the party is. Some of us still argue, with Codename-V, that a revolution without dancing is a revolution not worth having. Drinking Liberally is for them. Lookit, we don’t have to all be the same. If you’d rather debate issues quietly in your Inside Voice, there are already places and events for you.

If we are to create a progressive movement in this young millennium, we'll have to do it like our parents and grandparents did. By including everyone—from Dust Bowl farmers to factory workers to New York aristocrats. By including everyone—from mothers of 19-year-olds shot in Vietnam to blissed-out Hashbury heads to Walter Cronkite. By including everyone—from the FDR-remembering daughters of those Dust Bowl farmers to old hippies to Sojourners-reading religious progressives to drunken bloggers.

We all have our place. Ours is to steal the Fun from Fundamentalism and put it back in Progressivism where it belongs. The straight-edge schoolmarm Democrats whom we embarrass and offend have a place, too. I certainly hope they continue to vote Democratic, but don’t worry: I have no intention of kidnapping them and forcing them to come drink martinis with me.

Meanwhile, I've noticed that they serve milk and cookies at the Potter Randall Democratic Club.


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

shh, don't tell anyone there's a democrat in the race

Now that Kinky and Carole Keeton R'ander Strayhorn MacInerney Shaw are in the governor's race, it's literally anyone's game. I travelled to El Paso for a teacher's meeting this weekend and spoke to a colleague who is sympathetic to The Cause about the governor's race. Well, actually we were talking about that Kinky Freidman song about El Paso, and my colleague opinied that he would probably vote for Kinky. Grandma was, I guess, a tad too tough and Rick Perry was too, well, Rick Perry. And, he said, there wasn't a Democrat in the race.

Well, there is Chris Bell, I told him.

Who?, he asked. Now this is a person who is more politically informed than me. But somehow Bell's candidacy had just sorta slipped by him.

I can see how. If I hadn't spoken with Bell on the phone I might doubt his very existence. No press. No ads. Nothing.

At least not up here in the Panhandle. And, I really wouldn't think that Bell, who used to live up here, was the type to just blow us off.

Looking at the campaign's web site, I see some appearances in front of sympathetic crowds. Is this the strategy? Remind Democrats to stick with the party, while lying low in the general population and hoping that Grandmaw, Goodhair and the Kinkster rip each other to shreds?

To be honest, I'm not sure it's a bad idea . . .

Yo, Mr. Bell. Shoot me an e, and lemme know what the strategy is. I promise I won't tell anyone about you.


keeping it real(ity-based), lesson 42

I was in El Paso over the weekend and missed the hullabaloo over Karl Rove's indictment, or "indictment," depending on whom you believe, but as I understand the situation:

1. Jason Leopold and Truthout are standing by the story,
2. Which has not been independently confirmed anywhere else, and
3. Leopold's past credibility has been impugned, but, of course,
4. He's not (or shouldn't be) the story.

I've read Truthout in the past. I particularly enjoy William Rivers Pitt. I think he's a good writer. This story's a big one and they knew it and know it. If they got it wrong and Rove's not indicted-- even if he's not yet indicted-- I won't rely on them as even as alternative news source. Simple as that.

I only hope that dysblogtopia1 will similarly adjust their viewpoints and news sources if the report turns out to be true.


1skippy coined the term "blogtopia," for which he incessantly takes credit. I'm coining the term dysblogtopia (which does not, spelled or misspelled, appear on any google search) to refer to the right-wing blogosphere.

Friday, May 12, 2006

in which I speak too soon, yet again

Last month, I described 32% as "rock bottom" for the Emperor W's popularity. Guess I spoke too soon.

Surely, by this point everyone who would abandon the Emperor has abandoned him. Surely that 29% is rock bottom. Surely that 29% would (and will) follow the Emperor into Hell itself.

Whoops, spoke too soon, again. This poll was taken before the NSA-spying story broke.

And to think, back in June, 2004, I was gloating over 42%.


a one-party system sounds like an improvement at this point.

An improvement, that is, from the current status quo in which no party represents The People:

The White House stood by its nominee for CIA director, Gen. Michael Hayden, amid new controversy over the surveillance programs he piloted as head of the National Security Agency.
. . .

The going got tougher with the disclosure that the NSA has been secretly collecting millions of Americans' phone records, said Sen. Joe Biden, who blasted the surveillance program but called Hayden "a first-rate guy."
I've said this before and it invariably pisses people off, but I'm not married to the idea that the Democrats are the only thing standing between us and dictatorship. If the Democratic leadership doesn't freaking care that millions of innocent Americans are being watched by Big Brother, they're not a real opposition party. They can have their role as Emmanuel Goldstein in the emerging dystopia.

Of course, party-liners of all stripes will criticize anyone says things like this for not having a solution-- and they'll be right. I don't have a freaking solution. All of the available options are just different forks on the road to Hell:

1. Swallow hard: support the Democrats (but, really, what have you done for me lately?)
2. Go to Disneyland: take your soma and go on vacation (whoops, wrong dystopia)
3. Love it or leave it: just go somewhere else (but why should those of us who believe in America's ideals be shove out by those who don't), or
4. Revolution: (as Billy Joel once sang "I don't have time")

Ungh. What am I leaving out?


Thursday, May 11, 2006

welcome to oceania


NSA has massive database of Americans' phone calls: The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY.
1985: The Sequel:
The [Justice Department] has abruptly ended an inquiry into the warrantless eavesdropping program because the National Security Agency refused to grant Justice Department lawyers the necessary security clearance to probe the matter.
1983: The Prequel :
Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, nominated Monday by President Bush to become the director of the CIA, headed the NSA from March 1999 to April 2005. In that post, Hayden would have overseen the agency's domestic call-tracking program. Hayden declined to comment about the program.
. . . and . . .
The replacement of Porter Goss as head of the Central Intelligence Agency appears rooted in one presidential objective: to coordinate and streamline America's various intelligence agencies to "stop the terrorists before they strike."
1986: Part IV
One major telecommunications company declined to participate in the program: Qwest. According to sources familiar with the events, Qwest's CEO at the time, Joe Nacchio, was deeply troubled by the NSA's assertion that Qwest didn't need a court order — or approval under FISA — to proceed.
Yeah, good for Qwest. A dailykos diary suggests inundating them with valentines. But, wait. There are all sorts of reasons to doubt Quest’s—and Joe Nacchio’s—sudden status as good corporate citizens.

(Scroll down to “Over at Qwest Communications" on the last link.)


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

What a Gas!

I just got home from the Amarillo City Commission meeting in Southeast Amarillo. I was just going to show up for a little while and leave early, but it was so facinating and entertaining I stayed for the whole thing.

It was wonderful to see our every day working folks present to the Southwest Amarillo elite information, pictures, and colorful descriptions of our city that they don't have a clue about. One fellow had a slide show of slum areas, falling down apartment buildings, unpaved roads, trash strewn streets and lots. Another lady told about the chickens in her neighborhood that created such noise and odor they couldn't enjoy the outdoors at their house. She also told of how attractive fences being built of sheet metal, old garage doors and scrap wood made her neighborhood. Another talked about abandoned mobile homes that are a danger to children in the neighborhood.

I don't know how much the commission was paying attention to what was not being said, but I have to give it to them, they were polite and friendly. Maybe if they hear this enough it will wake them up to the Amarillo they don't know, and maybe will work to change.

When the commission is meeting in your area of Amarillo, if you have the least bit of liberal blood and compassion in you, GO! And while I'm at it, if you haven't signed a petition for establishing Single Member Districts, find one and sign on. It will make all the difference in the world!

The Liberalator

I'm a little bit country

In a post about Merle Haggard's disillusion with America and its putative leader, Wally reminds us why country music fits today's Republicans so badly:

Like a lot of old country singers, Haggard grew up sympathizing and empathizing with the working class -- and he can see that they're getting the raw end of the stick from the Republicans. Hope he's able to persuade some of the country music folk to get off the dead-end Bush bandwagon...
I agree, but I have to admit that I've always viewed country musicians and their fans as Kansans with whom something was probably the matter. Like my dad, who recently read me page after page of progressive-sounding ideas he'd sent to Rep. Mac Thorneswabble, but continues to support Bush.

But when you think about it, country musicians were among the first to criticize the Emperor. The Dixie Chicks paid a heavy price for doing so. And then there was TimMcGraw&FaithHill. And Willie Nelson. Rosanne Cash. Bonnie Raitt. And so on.

Makes me feel like going scoot booting or whatever the hell it's called.


Monday, May 01, 2006

I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together

When I posted last week about comments, I had only one real concern. Those of us who post on the front page have obviously allowed wildly unfettered free speech here. We regularly get insulted and even threatened. As a consequence we’ve developed fairly thick skins.

Granted, we’ve done our share of insulting as well. I personally try to limit my out-and-out rudeness to those who, in the paraphrased words of one commenter, come into our house and defecate on the carpet, but I probably haven’t always been successful.

When I posted, I was concerned about the casual commenters who use this blog as we intended – as a progressive forum for panhandle progressives. I worried that some of them might not have skins that were quite so thick. While we haven’t discouraged conservative commenters and trolls, and approach absolutism regarding free speech issues, this blog would be pointless if its core audience were driven away. In that event, I at least would turn my attention elsewhere.
Those worries seem to have been unfounded. Apparently, a thick skin is a prerequisite for liberalism in West Texas.

However, another issue has arisen. A fraudulent post was called to my attention. It appeared to be from one of our posters but was actually posted by a conservative troll. Since it accurately reflected neither fact nor opinion, I deleted it and have set comments to require approval for the remainder of the day. Consequently, comments may take awhile to be posted. Sorry about that.

I will delete only comments are inaccurately signed. And I really don’t even want this much responsibility. I also don’t want to require people to sign in to post comments in perpetuam. Consider this a warning. If you don’t want to post under your own name, post under anonymous or “Porky the Pig”. Just don’t post under someone else’s name. Assuming we don’t have any more problems, I’ll turn realtime commenting back on later this evening or tomorrow morning.

Goo goo goo joob.


mis estudiantes

Will they or won't they?