"The Democrats have moved to the right, and the right has moved into a mental hospital." - Bill Maher
It's too hot to handle so I gotta get up and go
It's a cruel ... cruel summer"
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
U.S. Representative Mac Thorncrown writes in the Amarillo Globe-Republican that some people are "quietly happy" with high gas prices.
What?! Is he calling out his compadres George and Dick who, one imagines, are loudly happy with high gas prices at clandestine Republican gatherings.
No, he's attack environmentalists: "What's worse there are some who appear to be quietly happy with this situation believing that rising prices in America will discourage fossil fuel consumption and reduce global warming."
I should have known.
And, you know, that's not really an Amarillo Globe-Republican "guest column". It's reprinted verbatim from Old Mac's e-newsletter.
Posted by Barry Cochran at 2:14 PM
Monday, April 28, 2008
Saturday, April 26, 2008
A fascinating new study tells a lot about how the times really are a-changing. Since Dylan wrote those words, generational change has not produced electoral change in the United States, largely because it didn't result in voting change that reflected the cultural change. Why? Because between 1960 and 2000, the largest turnout in a presidential election was 55% of eligible voters, and sometimes it was below 50%. The world's oldest democracy looked just plain creaky. This was especially true among voters under 30. In that age cohort, politics was frequently looked upon as unresponsive, and even irrelevant. Anything but necessary. We still hear the reverberations of the "turn on, tune in, and drop out" self-defeating admonition. But as the poll indicates, these echoes are finally growing faint.
The frustration for political progressives for the past 50 years has been that while the public frequently favored our positions and values, the other side was generally better at getting their voters to the polls. And the dinosaurs frequently ruled by feeding the perception that political participation didn't matter. When Reagan famously stated in his first inaugural address that government was not the solution, but the problem, he used a cognitive frame that already existed, but more importantly created a self-fulfilling prophesy. The part he didn't mention was that Republican-led government was the problem for those who most needed government to work well. It has taken another 28 years for Americans to recognize that they have stood idly by, while a Reagan disciple nearly burned our great nation to the ground. As Churchill said, you can always count on Americans to do the right thing, after they have tried everything else.
The tip of the change was viewed four years ago, when we set a modern record with a 62% voter turnout. That election will be viewed in the future as the high-water mark for the fear-based voter manipulation that has characterized the Bush II regime (never mind that it may have been more than the voters that were manipulated). We now stand on the verge of sweeping aside the old order, because this is a change election like no other we have seen. The message of the poll is clear. Eighteen to twenty-four-year olds have historically voted in far lower numbers than other age cohorts, generally under 40% of those eligible. But in 2004, nearly as many18-24's voted on a percentage basis as the rest of the electorate. Their participation increased by nearly one-third from 2000, and they voted for John Kerry by 48-38% (5% for Nader). This year, according to the Harvard poll, over 60% intend to vote (more than 70% of college students), and they favor Obama over McCain by 50-29% (4% for Nader). In this group, which seems likely to be far more important than in the past, Clinton leads McCain by a smaller, 41-34% margin (7% for Nader). Of course, those numbers may well shift by the election, but the trend is obvious. Forty percent of those polled consider themselves Democrats, while only 25% chose the Republican label. The clear risk among this volatile group is that their passion can turn sour and lead them back to the self-fulfilling prophesy. But the trend is even more clear. Even if some lose their enthusiasm, as a group they are not going to vote in lower numbers than in 2004.
Even in more conventional analysis, the fact that John McCain has had no opposition and a virtual free ride from the press for the past 6 weeks, yet he has been unable to obtain a clear lead in national polls over either Democrat, while Clinton and Obama have bashed each other, says that he is likely at his high-water mark now and has nowhere to go but down. But the clear implication of the Harvard poll is that most standard polling estimates of likely voters are flawed, because the kids are, finally, alright.
...and a child shall lead them.
Posted by Demophoenix at 9:02 PM
Friday, April 25, 2008
Frequent contributor to the Amarillo Globe-Republican Opinion page Steve Holland has a problem with the vision thing. When he looks at...
When he looks at...
And, strangest of all, when he looks at...
That Steve Holland is one weird dude.
Posted by Barry Cochran at 2:58 PM
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Jimmy Carter on Willie Nelson, from this month's Texas Monthly:
"I can't deny that he smoked marijuana on the roof of the White House, but I also cannot confirm that he did. I had three sons at the White House, and I'm sure that one or two of my sons could confirm the accuracy of that report, but not me as president. They didn't tell me what they were smoking."
Posted by Barry Cochran at 7:33 PM
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
"Attorney General Michael Mukasey warned Wednesday that organized criminal networks have penetrated portions of the international energy market and tried to control energy resources."Yeah, they're called oil companies.
I thought of that joke myself, but I'm not guaranteeing that 50 million others didn't think and write the same thing.
But that should tell you something in itself, shouldn't it?
Posted by Barry Cochran at 9:36 PM
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Friday, April 18, 2008
This is all very neo-neo-neo-neoclassical, but perhaps the bronze books in the giants' hands aren't so appropriate.
Old-timers around WT used to whisper that Cornette once bragged that he hadn't read a book all the way through in decades.
On the other hand, we can hope that this concept suggests that our university's library isn't going to follow the national trend and remove all the paper from the premises.
Posted by Barry Cochran at 11:41 AM
There will be a meeting tomorrow at Carpenter's Union Hall, 702 S. Madison, to discuss lessons learned from the recent county conventions and provide an opportunity for input.
I know I have some thoughts, but I salute the Potter-Randall Democratic leadership for making this effort to improve in the future. There are two ways you can look at the chaos of last month, both of which have been expressed:
- It was a one-off. Conditions were unique this time around and next time we'll go back to county conventions attended by twenty people. We'll not see these Democratic numbers again in West Texas in our lifetimes.
- The Democratic party will continue to grow in this area, and we need to plan for a future that includes increased participation, larger numbers, and-- quite possibly-- the dissent that naturally attends larger numbers in a political party that values individual speech.
See you tomorrow.
Posted by Barry Cochran at 9:51 AM
Thursday, April 17, 2008
"A reasonable requirement might be that each wife must be at least 30 years old and have a college education. Why would any male want to subject himself to that torture, though?"My Lord, this comment is sexist. Does Dave have a problem with educated women or with women over thirty?
Posted by Barry Cochran at 3:53 PM
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Sunday, April 13, 2008
A real-time, person-to-person (i.e. non-virtual) rally will be held next Saturday, April 19, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at WTAMU, in the Jack B. Kelley student center commons area. The JBK is located two blocks west of US 87 (23rd St.) north of 3rd Ave. The event will involve local individuals in organizing for Senator Obama. It will feature videos and live music. Come be a part of the movement for change. For more information, click here.
Posted by Demophoenix at 12:40 AM
Friday, April 11, 2008
I’ve been wracked with guilt over the paucity of bloggity of late. The problem, of course, as it has been sporadically over the last—um—long period of time, was that I was working on my thesis. But I finally pretty much completed the thing, 104 long pages complete with ponderous title “’A Strange Way of Becoming Fact’: Narrative Structure in Atom-Bomb Related Popular Culture of the Cold War Era,” and a vast plenitude of footnotes. All that’s left is the defense.
One becomes Fox Mulder as one descends deeper into the abyss that is thesis-writing. One becomes convinced that one is the victim of a conspiracy wrought by the Forces of the Universe. And, as it turns out, one is.
Since I did my undergrad work in English, and then taught the same, I learned MLA format very well. But for my graduate work, I switched to History. Historians generally prefer something with footnotes; they think it reduces the bunkness of historical studies. Historians were oversensitive and defensive about bunk even before Henry Ford said that famous phrase.
But my professors were never terribly specific about format; they just wanted consistency. So I ended up using a kind of Chicago-MLA pastiche.
My thesis, however, had to be correct, so I regularly referred to authoritative sources,like Turabian, the online Chicago manual, etc. The problem was that these authoritative sources regularly contradicted each other about what, precisely, Chicago style was. When I asked for help, my thesis director just said, again, “Be consistent.”
So I did my best. When I finished, I was ordered to take the thing to Gail Hall. I thought Gail Hall was a place and wandered around W.T. looking for it. How could I have missed a whole building all these years?
But Gail Hall turned out to be a person. Her desk was as tall as the judge’s in The Wall and she wore on of those old-fashioned powdered wigs, too. There was nothing on her desk but a red pen and a ruler. She greedily seized my thesis, and, in a flurry of activity, she measured with her ruler and marked with her pen: That’s wrong (cackle); that’s wrong (cackle); that’s wrong….
Then she dropped it to the floor in front of me, and all became clear.
It had been a conspiracy. The lukewarm, shoulder-shrugging advice; the conflicting style manuals…it was all designed so that I could stand here, humiliated, while Gail Hall measured and marked.
There were, no doubt, Gail Halls in every university in academe, measuring and marking. The joke probably works even better in large universities like U.T., where masters degree candidates wander eighty acres looking for a building that’s really a person. It’s a haze, in every sense of that word.
But it’s almost over. So I’ll get back to blogging.
Only, maybe not this weekend. My wife’s taking me to the City to celebrate.
This account has been ever-so-slightly fictionalized. And it’s all in good fun. There’s still the defense, and my thesis still has to be accepted, so it’s a friendly joke, dammit!
Posted by Barry Cochran at 2:02 PM
The latest distortion directed at Obama is about to hit your local newsstand. Obama recently made a comment referring to internet users who contribute to his campaign as a “parallel system” of funding for his campaign. He made no suggestion that this group be used to circumvent federal funding laws, or public contribution limits, or indeed any of the other campaign financing laws. The dissembling wonks of the Republican Party have seen their chance; however, and plan to make the most of this opportunity. Thanks to a ghost editorial published by the now right wing owned Wall Street Journal, the Republicans are set to launch a campaign of lies designed to make it seem as if Obama is somehow attempting to break campaign finance laws.
Don’t let these liars smear Obama’s name with this ridiculous campaign. Send in your letters now explaining that Obama was only pointing out that many of his contributors come from the internet and is not, as the liars in the Republican Party will suggest, trying to create some new form of funding for his campaign.
It’s clear what’s really happening. Republicans, nervous because, for the first time in nearly fifty years, Democrats actually have more money to spend than their opponents, are looking for any niche they can carve out to suggest impropriety related to campaign finance. Too bad for the creepy insider elephants like Dick Cheney and Carl Rove, even the business community is catching on the lies -- and guess what -- it turns out that some of them do have a sense of right and wrong and not all of them are looking to line their pockets at the expense of their grandchildren.
Posted by lequino at 12:10 PM
Both sides of the blogosphere are a-twitter about the Emperor moving back to Dallas after he completes his mission of global destruction.
What, is this a surprise?
We blogged about it almost two years ago.
Doesn't anyone read the gay press anymore?
Posted by Barry Cochran at 11:21 AM
Saturday, April 05, 2008
American Christianity has morphed into a way for Republicans to morally justify the greed of their economic policies and violence of their foreign policy. It seems to me Republicans, who are almost universally Evangelical Christians, have evolved into something less like a Christians, and have adopted many of the ideas posited by philosophers such as Nietzsche and Schopenhauer. Nietzsche's life affirming message seems to mirror some modern Christian dogma. Yet the new Evangelicals seem oblivious to the fact that they have become adherents to a philosophy written by a man who dismissed Christian morality as a product of self deception. Ironic?
Central to Nietzsche's writing is the notion that power is mankind's main motivator. In a Capitalist society power is most tangibly represented by wealth, but can take other forms. Certainly Fame, and Political Influence wield mighty swords upon our society's power scale.
In other words, if one sets out to achieve wealth, and that goal becomes that individual's obsession, or to put it more kindly, his main line of thought, then it is inevitable that individual will achieve some level of wealth. Nietzsche does not attach riders to his philosophy such as "based up intelligence" or "based upon background, family wealth, etc.." but rather bases his notion upon how well a person can come to terms with the awareness that rests within all of us. This is a similar message to what prosperity Christianity leader Joel Osteen preaches. Look at these two quotes
You've got the very nature of God on the inside of you. Joel Osteen There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophies. ~Friedrich Nietzsche
Notice how they both allude to some knowledge each of us possess within ourselves, though I feel neither of them view that knowledge as being magical or even difficult to access.
For Nietzsche, I think, the access to our inner knowledge comes by casting away the mores of society, religion, etc... and listening most closely to our instinctual inner I.
For Osteen the process is much the same, we cast off the voice of the world and listen carefully to ourselves. In Osteen's case, however, the voice we hear is not our own, but rather the voice of God whispering in our ear.
I'm not certain which is true of course, but I will say this. By attributing that instinctual voice to God, Christians can avert any guilt they may feel when it becomes clear their decision was wrong. The prime example being George W. Bush's decision to go to war in Iraq. It seems completely possible to me that Bush listened closely to his inner "I" voice, deemed it to be the voice of God telling him to wage war in Iraq. Now that the war has gone terribly wrong, he can reason that he was only following God's lead. This same reasoning works on a larger scale for the greater populace as they tacitly accept the notion that despite the horrors in Iraq, God must have some reason beyond their reckoning for the thing to have occurred. This lends a moral rightness to the situation that cannot be achieved through solid reasoning. So Christianity and the inner voice of God become cemented into their consciences as a means to forgive any poor decision they might make. So they blend the inner I of Nietzsche to excuse their human weaknesses by calling that voice, the voice of God.
Posted by lequino at 4:03 PM
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
(Amarillo) I'm ashamed of the Amarillistas who live in my neighborhood. I've never been a big fan of NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard), and this brochure, placed on my front door last week, is typical.
Unfortunately, the NIMBYists won. I'm willing to bet that they were mostly elderly folks who had time to go to the City Commission meeting. (I was out of town, acting as a faculty sponsor for a UIL One-Act Play competition.) The City Commission voted against the permit for the substance abuse rehab facility.
Some of the bullet points on the brochure:
- "What is the failure rate 36%?" (The punctuation, or lack thereof, suggests the 36% figure was just pulled from someone's ass. However, if it is accurate, a 64% success rate is actually good.)
- "Will these Inmates be released to roam our neighborhood unsupervised?" (Yes-- have you ever seen A Clockwork Orange?)
- "Will this halfway house have 30 Inmates from the prison as reported in the March 25th newspaper...or more later?" (No, they're just going to go to all this trouble for thirty guys-- and then close the place down once they're done.)
Oh, good Lord. Sometimes this city, for a place with a church on every corner...
Commissioner Ronald Boyd captured the essence of NIMBY in all its forms:
"Commissioner Ronald Boyd said although his brother received help from a halfway house in Houston, he didn't think the facility would work.Translation: These types of facilities provide a needed service and have been successful. But it's Somebody Else's Problem.
'It was its place,' Boyd said. 'I just don't think this is the place to do it.'"
UPDATE: jobsanger has a post up about this that explains the situation more thoroughly.
Posted by Barry Cochran at 9:19 PM
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
The same bigoted knuckleheads that brought us
CAN GOOD MUSLIMS BE GOOD AMERICANS?
[ . . . ]
Perhaps we should be very suspicious of ALL MUSLIMS in this country. -- - They obviously cannot be both 'good' Muslims and good Americans.
You had better believe it. The more who understand this, the better it will be for our country and our future. The religious war is bigger than we know or understand. .
And Barack Hussein Obama, a Muslim, wants to be our President? You have GOT to be kidding! Wake up America!
[ . . . ]
You gullible little morans fell for a classic altered photo.
1See snopes for further details.
Posted by calamus venenum at 9:30 PM
Posted by blogarillo at 8:18 PM