“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"

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Songs that Rock

Great cover of a excellent song by Black Sabbath.

100 faces of war is a portrait and a statement from the subject.

Deeper than War is a blog by a veteran of the Iraqi war. His post Disparities of War makes a point that I've tried to make on several occasions without really getting the point across. For some reason, the theme of innocence lost resonates with me.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

just so you know, they're still not allowed in my house

I've shot both rifles and handguns at targets. It was kind of fun, not as much fun as popping your own fireworks, certainly not as much fun as going to a good concert.

Hunting sounds like horrible living hell for me. I fished a couple of times, and it was almost, though not quite, as boring as a baseball game. I imagine that hunting would involve some of the same nightmarish tedium of waiting and waiting and waiting, only to be interspersed (if you're successful) with blood-filled horror.

I think people who keep guns in their house "for protection" are idiotic. Either you keep your gun loaded and ready to go, or you follow the safety rules and keep the ammunition locked up in a separate place from the locked-up gun. With the first choice, your gun is far more likely to accidentally shoot your three-year-old nephew or your drunk uncle than any crook. With the second choice, what are you going to do? “Pardon me, Mr. Home Invader while I find the keys to my gun cabinet, and then find the keys to my ammunition box. Yes, sir, I plan to shoot you dead when I find those items. Just hold on a sec.”

That said, it seems like the Supreme Court made the only possible decision. I think they made the correct decision to the point that, when I saw the headline, I did a double take. It sounded like a paraphrase of the Second Amendment. What was so "groundbreaking" about that?

I guess they were affirming that the right to bear arms was not tied to having a militia. That's good, because I'd hate to think that Timothy McVeigh types were the only people who were allowed to have guns.

I'm a Bill of Rights absolutist myself, and I don't have a lot of sympathy for people who say the Second Amendment was written for its time but should now be adapted. The main reason I don't feel sympathetic to that position is that I don't want people saying that the First Amendment was written for a time before the Internet existed, or for peacetime only, or making some other stupid argument that abridges the rights I use.

I'm not a big fan of guns, and would paraphrase what Bill Clinton said about abortion. I wish guns were safe, legal and rare. With the rules as written, however, I see little choice but to let the gun nuts have them.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

vino veritas - june

Calling all progressives! Vino/Veritas: The Organization Formerly Known As Panhandle Truth Squad Meetup; Formerly Known As Formerly Known As; Formerly Known As D*****ng L*****ly A*****lo will meet on Friday the 27th of June at:

The Vineyard
(click for map)

Wellington Square
7:00 pm

Friday the 27th of June

We'll be in the "back room." Look for our mascot, Howard the Star-Spangled Donkey.

Come prepared to relax and talk politics with friends of a similar mindset in a Low Stress Environment. Tips from our last meetup were donated to the local Democratic office.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

the hoax hoax

Mm, yeah, this undramatic "revelation" doesn't exactly make the whole thing a "hoax."

In the first place, the fact that "authorities have known about this particular tribe since 1910" hasn't exactly been a secret.

More significantly, the tribe is real and are left alone because of a Prime Directive-like ethic.

This is the "smoking gun":

The photographer and the agency that released the pictures wanted to make it seem like they were members of a lost tribe in order to call attention to the dangers the logging industry may have on the group.

Get real: this would only be a scandal if the pledges of Kappa Sig had put on blackface and filmed themselves in the rain forest exhibit at the Omaha Zoo. As it stands, the photographer and the agency are only guilty of overdramatizing the situation. It's just as overdramatic to now call it a "hoax".

The exact truth should come out, but if the mainstream media are engaging a twilight struggle to increase their credibility by being self-critical, it won't help to exaggerate their own sins. On this one, they only need to flagellate with a flyswatter.


Time To Challenge Obama

Much has recently been made of the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) reauthorization , which was approved quickly last week by the House, and is now coming to the Senate. There really is no nice way to put this. This is a very bad bill. It essentially gives Mr. 28% approval everything he asked for, which is far too much for anyone who thinks they enjoy living in freedom. Not only does this bill gut what limited civil liberties protections were in the original 1978 FISA, but it also grants the phone companies blanket immunity from civil liability for cooperation with the government in conducting wiretapping that was illegal at the time it was done. The importance of being able to take the phone companies to court is not to extract money from them, nor even to punish them. It is, very simply, to know what happened. I would be ok with granting limited immunity if it were conditional upon public hearings with subpoena power. But this Congress is on the verge of granting immunity without any disclosure. Sunshine is democracy's disinfectant. When the public's business is done secretly or deliberately hidden, regardless of the motivation, we are corroding democracy's foundation.

So, many are asking why the Democratic Congressional leadership is cooperating in passing this legislation. There have been several theories put forward, among them, predictably, is the provision of campaign money from phone companies to these leaders. I don't buy it. Every one of these leading Democrats holds a very safe seat, unlikely to be challenged by a Republican, so the campaign donations should have minimal impact. The only theory I have heard or imagined that makes sense is that, in the post-9/11 atmosphere in which Bush used fear as a political weapon, the leadership was made aware of his wiretapping plan, knew it was illegal, and nevertheless approved or condoned it. Thus, they now fear they will be discovered to have been complicit, and perhaps legally liable.

So, what to do? Can this bill yet be stalled? Maybe. Some Democrats, led by Sen. Russ Finegold of Wisconsin, can be counted upon to attempt to filibuster it, but they need 41 votes to sustain that action. It's important now to contact other Senators to try to support that effort. But there is one other measure that needs to be taken. This is an opportunity for Sen. Obama to show leadership and strength on behalf of the Constitution. He is the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party for President of the United States. It is hard to imagine the leadership pushing this bill, no matter what consequences they fear, if he stands up in clear opposition to it. And if he does so, not only will he win the enthusiastic allegiance of those who cherish the Constitution and its guarantees of liberty. He will also demonstrate the authentic strength of his convictions, the kind of personality trait that attracts independent voters. Now is the time to flood Sen. Obama's office with messages to this effect.

Those who would give up a little liberty in exchange for a little security are deserving of neither.
--Ben Franklin

Monday, June 23, 2008

sh*t, p*ss, fu*k, c**t, c*c*su*ker, m*ther*u*ker and t*ts

Family Blog, LOL.

George Carlin: 1937-2008

Carlin told Playboy in 2005 that he looked forward to an afterlife where he could watch the decline of civilization on a "heavenly CNN."

Stir things up a bit for us, George. Wherever you are . . .
-Prodigal Son

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Songs that Rock

I stumbled across this. I've never really been a fan of Bob Dylan, but maybe I should check out an album.

return of he's the manny

Okay, Manny, we all know your vote is ИOT for sale.

But, seriously, if he didn't buy it, how'd Joe Kirkwood get you to give it up?


juneteenth parade

pictures by spacedark

Friday, June 20, 2008

Can We Talk?

I did not know Tim Russert, and neither did you. For all we know he was a decent guy and father.

With all the canonizing surrounding his death let's make sure that this does not get lost.

JOHNSON (11/1/01): NBC Meet the Press host Tim Russert says that covering the war on terrorism is not like covering politics, a presidential impeachment or a missing intern.

"In times of war, the media should lower our voices, modulate our tone. Yes, we are journalists, but we are also Americans," Russert said in a speech Friday to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.

-Prodigal Son

Amarillo's waterfall

Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson is installing four waterfalls along the East River in New York City.

It's been kept a secret, but I drove by Amarillo's version today while it was being tested.

One of the tours around the NYC waterfalls will reportedly cost $50,000. I'll be glad to show you this one for a bottle of Bushmill's Irish Whiskey.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

speaking of john cornyn...

...it'd be lovely if the Democratic Party didn't give him a free ride on his past this time.

Here's a picture of "Big Bad John" (when he was Attorney General) giving the "Officer of the Year" award to Tom Coleman:

Yeah, that Tom Coleman.


Meet the racist sh*ts of the Texas GOP

This was a pin sold at the Texas GOP convention . . . H/T to trailblazers for the catch.

Question here . . . If McCain is President, will it be called "Restful Acres"? or "Springfield Retirement Castle"?

-Prodigal Son

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

"behind every convict...is a scheming woman"

Every once in awhile you start to think that maybe this desolate flatland is not as backwards and redneck as you have always thought. Everyone you hang around is intelligent. You don’t encounter that many bigots walking around town. Maybe things aren't so bad.

And then you make the mistake of reading the comments section appended to the Amarillo Globe-Republican story about former Shurf Shumate’s sentencing.

Where a prominent theory maintains that Shumate was railroaded into jail by his bitter, bitter ex-wife – and that the jury (12 women! - presumably also bitter, bitter old biddies who have themselves been screwed over by men) co-operated in this railroading.

This is the most offensive, obnoxious, bigoted, hateful pile of Hereford Perfume that I have read…um… since the last time I read a comments section.

Hell, if women are so incapable of making their civic decisions based on reason instead of emotion, why’d we give them suffrage in the first place?

Oh, how I’d love to hear what CC McGoon thinks of this theory. Or Abdul Alhazred’s wife. Or Mrs. Spacedark. Or any of the other intelligent, articulate women I know who somehow manage to negotiate their lives without totally losing control of their emotions and sentencing some poor sap to jail just because he vaguely reminds them of their dirty, rotten ex.


you gotta admit, it's more clever than altering the sign to read "DON'T Stop"

Ha-ha, see, the bus stop ad read "Pray Amarillo" and someone changed it to "Spray Amarillo".

You don't often see quality graffiti in this town.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

yes, I "competed" in a freaking "race" yesterday

Apparently, since there weren't too many in my age group in the one-mile run of the Dean Kelley Jr. Memorial Run, my name is in the paper. You can tell by my time that my leisurely walk around Austin park was not an attempt to actually win anything. But relatives (who apparently scan every line of the Amarillo Globe-Republican) have been calling.

My son (above) actually did compete, which is why I was involved in such a thing at all. He did much better than me, beating everyone his age as well as a few older kids. But since his age group is more varied (13-18; he is 14) and far more competed in his event than in mine, his name is not in the paper.

We should keep that in mind as the political season continues: sometimes people who do nothing but freaking show up get the glory, while people who toil day after day after day get ignored. That's life, innit?


Saturday, June 14, 2008

part 2

Despite my natural attraction to Van Os and the Ossaks, as well as for Roy Laverne Brooks (if only because they were more fun then the establishment candidate), I made every effort during the brouhaha to take a flattering photo of Boyd Richie. At some point, this became an intellectual exercise only, like working a particularly difficult sodoku. My efforts are documented below (thanks to Abdul for demonstrating embedded slideshows in his post below; I feel like a knothead for posting them individually all this time).

The fight over the chairmanship was the most fun part of the convention. I was kind of amazed that most of the media remained content to sit in the media room watching the closed-circuit feed and then complaining when they couldn't hear the numbers. I was just a blogger, but I ran out on the floor when I heard the tumult and the shouting.


Friday, June 13, 2008

thoughts on the battle for the Democratic Chair, part 1

Perhaps it’s best once in a while to pretend that you're not a blogger, to allow your thoughts to ferment for a while. In my case, unfortunately, that doesn't suggest that my thoughts are more well considered or less off-the-cuff.

I should begin by confessing to being something of a David Van Os fanboy. Perhaps I could then say that I was advocating a 254-state strategy when advocating a 254-state strategy wasn't cool. As evidence of this fact, I could point to a long-ago bloggers’ interview with Chris Bell. Sadly, the only thing many people remember about this interview is that I humiliated myself by signing on late and then not recognizing that it was Chris to whom I was talking to when someone referred to Amarillo as his "old stomping grounds".

In that old interview I also asked Chris about a 254-state strategy. I asked this because our Panhandle has historically felt ignored by the Democratic Party.

So, yeah, my loins electrify a bit when I hear Van Os mention a 254-state strategy.

Plus, the guy's a hella good speaker, and, having made our choice, surely our party can get behind that.

So—and, yes, I know there were paperwork problems1 —I wasn't entirely unsympathetic to Van Os when he spoke in the battle for the chair of the Texas Democratic Party. I didn't have anything against Roy Laverne Brooks, either.

And, yeah, I did have concerns about the incrementalism of a figure like Boyd Richie. Incrementalism means to me that we in the Panhandle don't get shit.

And those concerns are obviously shared by others in the Panhandle; although I also have concerns about the way that those fears of exclusion are manifested. I don't think I'm letting any cats out of any bags that I promised not to release when I say the following: I was disturbed to watch Panhandlians on the bus home cheer one of "their own" who bragged about having "fought, and fought, and fought" the downstaters to get somebody from the "top of Texas" as a national delegate.

I think I've established that I, as much as anyone, want to see representation from this area. (Hell, I want a candidate to go up against Max Thornberry who’s supported by the party and not just a sacrificial lamb.) But I do not want to win at any cost.

The ultimate cost is that we split the party.

The fears of splitting the party in the macrocosm, like the fears of splitting the atom, are well documented – but we could also split the damn thing in the microcosm.

For better or worse we were gerrymandered by the Republicans into a senatorial district that includes Midland. I've made fun of the Midlandians, but it's good-natured kidding. We cannot pit ourselves against the southern parts of our district and expect ever to win anything at all.

{to be continued…}


1But only beancounters get uptight over paperwork.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

More pics from the convention

Photo's by Akasha

tx state demo convention pics: blogger's caucus and sundry bloggity matters

jobsanger, spacedark & CC McGoon

CC McGoon & panhandle expat

The crowd

jobsanger, spacedark & panhandle expat

spacedark and McBlogger

Late in the evening...


I'm Voting Republican

Some Reasons to Vote For John McSame.

-Prodigal Son

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

pictures from last week's state convention...

Now that I've finally emerged from my coma, I'll be going through my pictures for the next couple of days and posting the more interesting ones.

From the battle for Texas Democratic Party Chair:

David Van Os speaks...

Kirk Watson is thrilled...

One of Roy Laverne Brooks' introductions...

Kirk Watson is thrilled...

Roy Laverne Brooks speaks, Kirk Watson remains thrilled...


Want some cheese with that whine?

After being greeted with protesters, John McCain yesterday: "One of the things Americans are tired of, one of the things they're tired of is people yelling at each other in America, have you noticed that?" he said, to loud applause. "They want us to respect each other's opinions.... Americans want a dialogue."

Oh reaaaaallly . . .

One of the best things we can hit John McSame on is the fact that he is so unstable, so . . . unpresidential.

He whines about civility, but here are his Top Ten Blowups, h/t to jwilkes at eyesonobama. (Sorry this is so long, but oooohhhh so good!)
-Prodigal Son

10. Senator Ted Kennedy - On August 6, 1993, the Boston Globe ran a story detailing a heated verbal exchange between Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy and McCain. Kennedy was at the lectern delivering remarks, when McCain began walking toward him from across the Senate floor, mocking the Massachusetts legislator. McCain shouted at Kennedy to "shut up." A stunned Kennedy fired back at McCain, telling him, "you shut up...and act like a Senator."

9. Democratic Rep. Marty Russo (D-IL) - In its December 1985 issue, Atlantic Monthly Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) found himself in the crossfire between the two Congressman, who were angrily shouting "seven-letter and twelve-letter" epithets back and forth at one another, when the exchange became violent and they began pushing and shoving one another. The two were separated from their tangle by a few other legislators who were nearby. described an altercation that took place just a few years after McCain had been elected to the House for the first time.

8. Former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson - Newsmax, the "conservative perspective" political publication run by Chris Ruddy, didn't cut McCain any partisan slack in a July 2006 article, in which it recounted a dust-up between McCain and some local government officials in his home state. Speaking at a luncheon at which McCain was in attendance, former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson was among a group of local mayors fielding questions from the Arizona Congressional delegation about local land issues. In the midst of one answer from Johnson, who helmed the city from 1990 to 1994, McCain blurted out, "Hold it a minute. Somebody write down everything this guy has to say. You know what, we need to record him. It's best to get a liar on tape."

Taken aback, Johnson offered the Senator a chance to speak privately, saying, "Senator, if you have a problem with me, why don't we go out in the hallway and talk about it."

McCain fired back: "You're God-damn right I have a problem with you! They've been treating you like a princess in Phoenix while they've been burning me over this damn deal, and I'm sick of it!"

7. Unidentified GOP Senator - Accounts of McCain's outburst at a Senate GOP policy lunch has reached near-epic proportion, having been written about by just about every blog and news site from Newsmax, to DailyKos, to the Huffington Post, to Wonkette, and so on. During a vitriolic exchange between McCain and another unnamed Senator who took a position contrary to that of his colleague from Arizona. McCain became infuriated, jumping from his chair and calling his fellow Republican a "shithead," prompting an immediate demand for an apology. McCain stood up again and issued it...sort of. "Okay, I apologize," he said. "But you're still a shithead."

6. Senator Pete Domenici - Newsweek's February 21, 2000 edition highlighted an exchange between McCain and Republican Senator Pete Domenici of New Mexico, Chairman of the Budget Committee. In staunch disagreement with a particular portion of a budget amendment, McCain exploded. "Only an asshole would put together a budget like that." Domenici, who'd been in the Senate nearly 30 years by that point, gave a restrained reply, noting that even in the most heated debated throughout his entire career, no one had ever used that kind of language toward him. McCain didn't back down. "I wouldn't call you an asshole unless you really were an asshole."

5. Unidentified GOP Senator- In 2006, Ron Kessler of Newsmax wrote that much of McCain's unpopularity in the Senate stems from his 2000 campaign, when the vast majority- in fact, all but four- of his colleagues backed George W. Bush in the GOP primary. One of McCain's top aides recounted a telephone conversation between McCain and another Senator, who was explaining that he'd already committed to supporting Bush. When he finished, McCain bristled. "Fuck you," he said, and hung up, never to speak to him again.

4. Senator Strom Thurmond - In an article titled "Senator Hothead," The Washingtonian McCain was giving an opening statement at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing when Thurmond, the committee chairman, interrupted to inquire as to whether McCain was finished so that the proceedings could be moved along. McCain glared at Thurmond and thanked him for his "courtesy." McCain later confronted Thurmond on the Senate floor, and a "scuffle" ensued. "The two didn't part friends." recounted one particular encounter between McCain and then-92-year-old Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina.

3. Senator Chuck Grassley - The same Newsweek article that outlined McCain's confrontation with Domenici pointed to a similar incident with Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa. The two were debating issues related to soldiers who had been reported Missing In Action in Vietnam. After a blistering commentary by McCain, Grassley took offense. "Are you calling me stupid?" he asked.

McCain didn't miss a beat. "No, I'm calling you a fucking jerk."

2. Senator John Cornyn - On May 18, 2007, The Washington Post reported that McCain had locked horns with another one of his GOP colleagues, this time Senator John Cornyn of Texas. The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill of 2007 had caused an enormous rift among Republicans, and the two Senators found themselves on opposite sides. Cornyn objected to a provision of the bill that allowed for what he perceived as too many judicial appeals for illegal immigrants. McCain called his objections "chicken shit" and accused Cornyn of making petty tactics to sabotage the whole bill. Cornyn took immediate offense.

"Wait a second here. I've been sitting in here for all these negotiations and you just parachute in here on the last day. You're out of line."

Then McCain, who'd been spending a lot of time away from Washington on his presidential campaign, got a little more out of line. "Fuck you!" he shouted. "I know more about this than anyone in this room!" McCain apologized shortly afterword.

1. His Own Wife, Cindy McCain - In his new book, The Real McCain, Cliff Schecter, a journalist and frequent contributor at the Huffington Post related perhaps the most disturbing of McCain's tirades. During his 2000 White House bid, the Senator was joined on the campaign trail by his wife, Cindy, his aides, and three journalists who spoke to Schecter on condition of anonymity, but independently confirmed each other's accounts of the incident. Cindy McCain playfully ran her fingers through the Senator's hair and teased, "You're getting a little thin up there." McCain reddened and fired back, "At least I don't plaster on the makeup like a trollup, you cunt." After he'd cooled down, McCain apologized, saying he'd had a long day.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

sexual healing

The dramarillo1 in Senate District 31 came, disappointingly, to an end with an absence of theatrics. I say "disappointing" because I couldn't find the caucus reconvention at 1:30. I was told that the caucus would reconvene at 1:30 in "Room 5". The Austin Convention Center has a room 5A, a room 5B, and a room 5C on the mezzanine level. At 1:20, I checked all of these rooms to no avail. Then, chased by a minotaur, I ran through the labyrinthine expanses of the convention center to find "Meeting Room 5".

The one room I didn't check was "Exhibit Hall 5," because that's where all the moneychanging is going on, the sales of buttons, posters, t-shirts and other political gear. It seemed a particularly bad place to recaucus and there's no shortage of empty rooms at this point. I had just about decided that my notorious bad head for numbers had betrayed me again.

Unlike what you may have heard from Republicans, there are relatively few methamphetamine and crack sales in Exhibit Room 5. On the other hand, perhaps there were some calming intoxicants flowing, because moods had apparently calmed by 1:30. After some "impassioned" speeches, the challengers agreed that it was "appropriate for the Hillary delegate to be female."2 That's just as well because, had there been fisticuffs or vulgar language, I would have liked to have had my Irish self in the room.

So, in the end, here's who we ended up with:

Jane Alexander, Hillary Clinton delegate from Amarillo.

Chris Hightower, Barack Obama delegate,
a high school teacher from Midland.

Congratulations to these two delegates to the national convention in Denver.


1Sorry to be Panhandle-centric. If you can think of cute pugilistic nouns to describe the other towns in Andrews, Bailey, Cochran, Crane, Dallam, Deaf Smith, Ector, Gaines, Glasscock, Hansford, Hartley, Hemphill, Howard, Hutchinson, Lipscomb, Martin, Midland, Moore, Ochiltree, Oldham, Parmer, Potter, Randall, Roberts, Sherman and Yoakum you're welcome to attach them in comments. Then again, if you want your town's name contorted into a cute nickname, you shouldn't have named it "Midland".

2I don't know what that means, I'm just repeating it.

Texas delegates respond to Clinton's speech

Even now, there are competing (tastes great! less filling!) chants of "Hil-la-ry, Hil-la-ry, Hil-la-ry" and "O-ba-ma, O-ba-ma, O-ba-ma". This unity thing may take a week or two.


sexual tension

Word has it that there was some drama in the selection of the delegates to the national convention in district 31. The district was able to select one Obama delegate and one Clinton delegate, and the rules required that one be male and one be female. The chair of the Clinton caucus was advised by a district chair that a coin toss should determine which caucus got which.

A couple of sources have stated that most of the Clinton caucus had agreed to vote for a specific potential delegate...who happened to be male. When the coin flip ruled that the Clinton caucus must nominate a woman, there were suddenly several potential delegates. The caucus decided on one, but the men felt disenfranchised.

Panhandle Truth Squad has learned that the men in the Clinton caucus from District 31 have already filed a complaint to the credentials committee. Although the men admit that the possible remedies for this situation are extremely limited at this point, apparently some of the men were pretty upset about the situation and the complaint will be filed.



Panhandle Truth Squad would like to apologize for the increased accuracy of our dispatches from the Democratic State Convention. Unfortunately, we have managed only the occasional exaggeration for comic effect (as when I claimed to have been thrown to the ground by a volunteer). We know that our readers have come to expect a certain standard of satire, snark, parody, and general making-crap-upness. At the state convention, we have failed to meet that standard.

We have no excuses, except to whine that the pressures of writing quickly in real time while drinking heavily have gotten to us. Under such pressures, it is simply easy to just write down the truth, and that is what we have done; we are nothing if not lazy. As a result, this experience has only increased our respect for the Amarillo Globe-Republican. Even while putting out an entire newspaper a day, its reporters and editors never fail to sanitize the news for their Republican readership. It is an amazing feat.


Friday, June 06, 2008

chelsea evening

The next speaker is Chelsea Clinton, who apparently requires three introductions.

Her speech begins as a siren song for her mother, heavy on the thank yous.

That was Clinton's "first important message" from Hillary Clinton. The second, Chelsea says, is that we are going to unite the party. Her mother, she tells the crowd, will make a speech tomorrow supporting Senator Obama. Hillary Clinton remains committed to electing Democrats at every level.


"you made history, and we're just gettin' started"

After the longest invocation ever and a tribute to veterans, Boyd Richie asks the first-time delegates to stand. Almost as many stand as did during the national anthem.

After introducing the officers, Richie introduces Kirk Watson as the temporary chair of the convention. Kirk Watson was once the mayor of Austin, and, to my knowledge, did not regularly beat people up or explode in anger at road maintenance workers.

Watson gives an inspiring speech describing our times and our cause and introduces a video about Rick Noriega, complete with old pictures of Noriega with hair. U.S. Congressman Al Green (Houston) then takes the stage; he also addresses the theme that our time has come, and the time has come especially for Rick Noriega, who starts out his speech with the words "Everything he just said," but hen goes on to say a number of things of his own. He points out that his unit is a descendent of the unit William B. Travis commanded in the Alamo. But, he says, he is counting on a different outcome this time.

Noriega calls for a moonshot type energy project, calls for quality health care to be available to everyone, and points out that John Cornyn voted against increasing the minimum wage seven times yet gave himself a pay raise, says he will fight to increase education funding, and support for veterans. Cornyn also voted against the 21st century G.I. Bill and Noriega describes this as a moral imperative. Regarding immigration, Noriega properly places the onus on companies who lure illegal aliens into the country and then exploit them. Democrats, he says finally, he not leave the families of Texas behind.


herding the cats

As we come into the combined ballrooms for the first general session of the state convention of the Texas Democratic Party-- sorry, as we are escorted into the combined ballrooms like common criminals, I get stopped. My press credentials are turned backwards. Once the, um, "security guard" realizes that I am properly credentialed, she allows me to pass, but not before knocking me to the ground and beating me with a nightstick.

They're a bunch of thugs down here, Walter. Thugs.

Half of the delegation from Austin is chanting for Clinton and the other half is chanting for Obama. It's the political convention equivalent of "tastes great"... "less filling". Boyd Richie enters to the strains of "Hard Working Man" and calls the convention to order...



Top o' Texas Caucus

Well, at least we're not in the room with the Democratic Homeschoolers. But maybe I shouldn't get into that battle again.

The Top of Texas Democratic organization is, it turns out, populated almost entirely by people named James. Jim Perkins from the Potter-Randall Democratic Club introduced Jimmy Healy from Hutchison County. And Jim Otto from Randall County.

And the people who aren't named James are named Rosalie Powell. Really. Perkins introduced Rosalie Numero Uno and Rosalie Numero Two-oh raised her hand.

Pete Laney -- famous from his brief residence in the Holiday Inn of Ardmore, Oklahoma-- says that he thought, when the Republicans took over the Texas house, that it would take Democrats ten or fifteen years to come back. "But they screwed it up so bad...we're gonna come back this time."

There is some discussion about the gerrymandered congressional district that has people from the real top of Texas-- the Panhandle-- all the way down to Midland in the same district. Apparently, the Midlandites are under the impression that we have to speak loud enough to hear each other from our respective cities without amplification: they keep shouting "Speak up!' and then shouting into their cell phones, the ringtones of which are themselves turned up higher than an Aerosmith concert.

And then Rick Noriega comes in. Noriega's a rock star. He's a rick star. He describes a phone interview he did with a morning drive show in Midland. The hosts greeted him by saying, "Representative Noriega, welcome to John Cornyn country."

Without missing a beat, Noriega asked, "Did I call Washington, D.C.?"

Noriega is currently on leave from the Army National Guard. After the convention, he will be going straight back to serving his Guard time. After November-- if Texans know a good thing when they see it-- he'll go to Washington, D.C., which will no longer be John Cornyn country.


Ballroom C

Throngs of media descended early Friday morning
to cover the Texas Democratic Convention.

I thought I was joking about setting up in a dumpster behind Stubbs. Ballroom C is far, far away in a dark and secluded part of the Convention Center.

Later on, Ballroom C will be a nice place to take a nap and recover from the excesses of the blogger's caucus last night. But, for now, I'm going to try to find some food and some activity.


Thursday, June 05, 2008

I told Crystal

I wanted a shirt that said "Lefts"...she told me it meant human rights, women's rights, gay rights and like that...not right wingers...


Cowboy Neal at the Wheel…or Not…But Just

Get Us All On the Bus

It is sometimes difficult to communicate—particularly to beancounters and technocratic wonks—the importance of shared social experiences in political party-building. In our work with Vino Veritas, formerly known as Formerly Known As, formerly known as Dr*****g Li*****ly Ama*****, we have seen how badly people of similar politics just need to hang out. This is especially true for the minority party in an area such as ours.

A similar, though almost opposite, dynamic also aids party-building. People who share much of their politics, but who have found themselves cast into adversarial roles can benefit from social interaction.

Franzetta Crow, whom I worked against when she ran for City Commission against my friend Erik Williams is on this bus and turns out to be a very pleasant person. Although there are apparently Clinton delegates who refused to come to this convention, those who ride with us today are shiny and happy enough. And I have a feeling that the rifts in the Democratic Party that threaten to elect McCain could be repaired if the most vocal Obama supporters and the most rabid Clinton supporters were all forced to ride together for ten hours on a chartered bus watching left-wing agitprop on DVD.

The Obama campaign will soon be spending millions of dollars on hagiographic ads portraying the Senator as a Saint. They will, no doubt, sell a good portion of the campaign to the Clintons in an effort to get them to support Obama.

That money and political capital might be better spent on buses.


desert wind

I27 south of Amarillo is the flattest, deadest stretch of highway in the flattest, deadest landscape in Texas. Out of this blasted moonscape, our bus carries a load of Democrats to more hospitable climes. As we pass into Tulia, I remember that I have a copy of Nate Blakeslee's book in my messenger bag. It is a totem - like the candidate signs, the buttons, and the t-shirts, a reminder of the type of corruption that we hope to begin to defeat.

I havn't smoked in years, but, outside the bus, when Leslie hands me a Clove, I struggle against the gale to light the thing. We're standing in a huddle with blue Hillary shirts. A clove cigarette, a vote for Obama: nothing ever goes quite as planned for anyone, but that doesn't mean we can't all find a way to win.


Caution: Weird Load

"You're either on the bus, or..."

Liveblogging from the road to the Texas Democratic convention.