“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, May 31, 2009



This sexist rant goes far beyond deciding the confirmation of Judge Sotomayor (which is a done deal at this point). It goes directly to understanding the schism in the Never-Less-Grand, But Increasingly Old Party. In the absence of power, there is now a direct conflict brewing between the "merely power hungry" wing of the Repubs and their dinosaur wing. The dinosaurs are clearly not ready to sink into the political La Brea tar pits without first flashing their cuspids, and it could end with the dismantlement of their alliance with the MPH. I'd like to be the first to suggest that they use MPH as their new party name. Holy crazed batcrap! Wait! That could be the dinosaur party name!

President Obama's Weekly Address - 5/30/09

of specks and logs in eyes

I'm not always sure that politicians' personal lives are fair game. Nor are any of us, myself least of all, perfect.

But Panhandle Truth Squad has never pretended to be fair.

And I have to say, perhaps if Republican blowhards Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh had taken even one of their wives on a few more date nights, they might have fewer than seventy-five marriages between them.

More relevant, perhaps, is this: New York is a hella lot closer to D.C. than Crawford. By this point in his presidency, W had flown to Central Texas three times, and was well on his way to vacationing away one-third of his two terms.

If their outrage has to be this contrived, the Republicans really do have no issues. No political issues, I mean. "Issues" in the colloquial sense, they obviously have.


Saturday, May 30, 2009

editors who live in glass sports pages shouldn't throw stones

Better late than never, I suppose. But, seriously, who would have less credibility than Jon Mark Beilue, former Sports Editor, to bemoan the fact that athletes get more attention than academics? John Madden, maybe?

Now that Jon Mark has risen past Sports Editor to a new level of incompetence, will he use his influence to start a new section called "Smart Folks" with as many pages as the sports section? I mean, the paper he works for now devotes fully half its space most days to sports.

Stay tuned: the thesis of Jon's next column will be "Texas has lots of fine universities that should get just as much attention as Texas Tech."


Another Brainless Editorial

The Amarillo Globe-News will never buck the Amarillo City Commission or any city official.

This time it's an editorial backing the city's position on red light cameras and opposing Lubbock Republican Rep. Carl Isett’s bill to ban red light cameras in Texas.

Typical of the weak-minded editorializing by the AGN, its argument is loaded with flaws.

Let's deconstruct, shall we?

The first slippage of gears in what little brain the AGN has belittles the Legislature over its ability to use recording devices.

This is what the AGN writes, "This carjacking of cities by the Legislature would carry more weight if it had not taken years for lawmakers to recognize the necessity to record their votes. It seems lawmakers have a problem with recording technology, be it a picture of a traffic violation or their voting record."

Linking the issues of recorded votes to traffic cameras is just plain stupid. It's pretty clear legislators resisted recording votes because they wanted to duck accountability. Their bad, but it has nothing to do with the ability to record. The AGN throws this out, but it's nothing but a red herring.

The editorial then goes on to state, "The primary argument against red-light cameras is that cities are only using the devices to rake in money.

Even if this is accurate, how is this different than law enforcement staking out I-40 traffic for drug busts or a motorcycle cop perched on a median near I-40 and Western in Amarillo? These areas are patrolled because of the high probability of crime or traffic violations.”

How are red light cameras different? The U.S. Constitution gives us the right to confront our accusers and cross-examine them in court. Talk to the camera? Ain’t going to happen.

Of course, cities are using red light cameras and speed traps to make money. In that respect there is no difference, but note there is no safety issue raised. Where would the revenue come from were there not a high probability of violations? That’s why they put the speed traps there. Duh.

Then, “According to the city, Amarillo netted only $229,347 in red-light camera fines from June 12, 2007 to April 30. That's a lot of money to the average motorist, but hardly a financial windfall for city coffers.”

Right about that one. Almost a quarter million bucks won’t even pay City Manager Alan Taylor’s annual salary.

As for the city’s argument about increased safety and that it has evidence that accidents are down at intersections with red light cameras, the city really can't prove that properly. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has a methodology that requires a control and an experimental intersection for evaluating whether red light cameras work at particular intersections. The city engineer has admitted he didn't know about the IIHS protocol.

So, what’s the bottom-line? There are two.

First, it’s about the money.

Second, it’s this.

City of Amarillo: “Hey, Les.”

Les: “Yes?”

City of Amarillo: “Jump.”

Les: “How high?”

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Voting and Speaking Out Redux

Lessons to be learned from low voter turnout

The Amarillo Independents editorial in the May 14 issue addressed the question of the low — no, make that abysmally low — voter turnout in the May 9 municipal and school board elections.

Only 5 percent of the registered voters went to the polls, placing the election in control of less than 3 percent of Amarillo’s population. In the editorial, we stated that people had forfeited their right to engage in civil dialogue by not voting.

But an exchange of ideas on the Panhandle Truth Squad, a local politically oriented blog, has led me to question whether such a black-and-white position is justified. One of the bloggers, a friend and person whose thoughtfulness and opinions I respect, pointed out that he has been active in politics for years. He sat out this election because he felt none of the candidates was worth his time and effort and that the outcome was a foregone conclusion. But he has been active in local, state and national political activities for many years.

He believes that his right to speak out is as sacrosanct a right as his right to vote and that his free speech rights as an American citizen and participation in the political process give him the right to do so.

I couldn’t agree with him more. Further, I never meant to indicate that by not voting one forfeits ones right to free speech.

Even former Vice President Dick Cheney’s unseemly continual criticism of President Barack Obama’s administration is protected under the First Amendment and to tell Cheney he has no further right to speak out simply contradicts every tenet that I hold as an American citizen.

Of course, behaviors have consequences and the consequence of Cheney’s continual carping is that he further paints himself with a very negative color that he seeks to avoid.

But back to the question of not voting. My friend made a fairly good case for sitting out this off-cycle election, but its being an off-cycle election really isn’t the issue.

Why waste your time on an election that gives you no real choices? Why bother to vote when you have reached the conclusion that all the incumbents will be returned to office?

However, another friend who posts on Panhandle Truth Squad made the case that teacher’s model behavior and set the example and the same rules apply to those in positions of political activism and political leadership.

So, the logical conclusion from that ends with being no matter how useless you believe your trip to the polls would be, you should still go and cast your ballot.

I like both of my friends’ arguments. But the underlying and nuanced assumption of my first friend is a troubling one. That assumption is no really viable candidate challenged the incumbents and the current officeholders were not such a menace that anyone on the ballot would be a suitable replacement.

Still, that reflects a certain despair in our civic life, and to some degree confirms the point in the editorial that posited the low turnout was related to despair. If my friend reflects 95 percent of the population eligible to vote in Amarillo, then weve got big trouble right here in Yellow City.

I also agree with my first friend on two other points that he made later. First, I still think that whatever good intentions current incumbents may have, they really don’t represent the majority of Amarillo’s population. I don’t think an at-large governmental body, whether here or anywhere else, does.

I think the only hope is for a change in the city charter that would do two things: (1) Establish a City Commission that represent single member districts with two or three at-large commissioners; and (2) Change the power structure in such a way that the mayor and commissioners have more control over city decisions; in other words, reduce the power of the city manager.

The low turnout, however, should be instructive to those who feel so disenfranchised at this point. It gives rise to the theory that a coalition or concerted effort of voters who could muster 6,000 or so votes could prevail on their agenda in the next election. Folks, that is two years away and that gives people plenty of time to pull together.

In the immortal words of Jason Nesmith, commander of the NSEA Protector, "Never give up and never surrender."

Globe-News puts Amarillo College on Double Secret Probation

Can you believe these assholes? Oh, which ones? All of them. This reminds me of good ole Dean Wormer in Animal House.

The editors of the Amarillo Globe-News want it both ways. If Amarillo College had hired consultants, the so-called newspaper would've criticized the Regents for spending the money. Now, the Globe-News criticizes them for not following a process.

Don't kid yourself, folks. The Globe-News is going after Paul Matney because he's a Democrat. It's subtle, just like the Globe-News' racism is subtle.

Then, at least some of the right-wing nuts admit that their prejudice toward Matney arises from his being a Democrat. Never mind that Matney is so well-qualified. For those of you on Facebook not in Amarillo, this is the environment we have to contend with — at least as reflected by the Internet community.

Those damn litigious liberals!

. . . and their support of those damn litigious trial lawyers!

Rudy Giuliani's son sues Duke University, says he was wrongfully kicked off golf team

-Prodigal Son

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Amarillo A-hole of the week - Lorne Tjernagel

Mr. Tjernagel loves his letters to the editor. He seems especially offended by cartoons he sees in the paper, and is often a little confused by their real meaning. His recent letter from May 26th is not his first critique of an AGN cartoon. Check out this letter from Nov. 4, 2008.

A few vague letters to the editor shouldn't qualify one as a-hole of the week. So I will offer a second morsel to support my notion that Mr. Tjernagel should qualify for the honor, Amarillo A-hole of the week.

You see, Mr. Tjernagel is not only a judgemental preachy a-hole, he's also a criminal. Here's a news story from 1999 describing how the then 72 year old Tjernagel ran over a kid on a bike, then later claimed he had no idea it had even happened. There is at least some evidence to suggest he might have been drinking. Tjernagel was arrested in 1985, and again in '86 for drunk driving Another article, explaining evidence connected with the crime states that police recovered video of Tjernagel buying vodka three hours before the collision with the 7-year old. The seven-year-old died in the accident btw and Tjernagel was convicted of intoxicated manslaughter with a vehicle. Wonder if he's still drinking. He can't even seem to understand a cartoon.

So for being a preachy jerk and for refusing to examine his own rather sordid past and gain from said self examination even a shred of humility, I proclaim Lorne Tjernagel the Amarillo A-hole of the week.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Let The Eagle Soar

According to the Roswell Daily Record, President Bush spoke the other day at the Artesia, NM high school graduation. The paper reported that Bush felt "liberated" to no longer occupy the White House. Apparently, he is so liberated that he feels free to speak anywhere that is virtually nowhere. According to the Daily Record story,

After his speech, Bush was presented with "Freedom's Fire," a sculpture of an eagle taking flight from a torch, that was inspired by his 2004 inaugural address. The sculpture will be dedicated at City Hall on Memorial Day in honor of Bush and America's veterans.

An eagle taking flight from a torch? Double entendre, anyone?

A similar AP report noted that Bush is in the process of writing a memoir regarding the "tough decisions he had to make as president." Perhaps he should entitle it, "How my pet goat got got."

Ooga-chucka, Ooga-chucka

That is the sound of the train leaving the station. It says here that not only is a conservative Democrat from coal-rich western Virginia on board with the energy bill, but also that the Obama administration is savvy enough to have a cabinet secretary call the newsroom of the Roanoke Times to promote this fact. Yes, the fight might be tougher in the Senate, but they only need 50 votes. The fact is that a majority in the country and in the Congress recognizes that we have to do something about climate change, that we have to do it now, and that this is the only game in town. Simply put, this bill is going to pass. Furthermore I predict that while the Republicans will whine a lot about it, they will mostly just stand by and watch the train leave, because they aren't going to stand on the track and get run over. Their position is no longer to stop Obama. It is to hope he fails. I wouldn't want to be betting the ranch on that strategy.

Dancin' With Who Brung Ya, Or Goin' Down With The Ship?

Ron Brownstein, one of the voices of the media echo chamber, has an unusually long and analytical piece on the regionalization of the Republicans here. While the analysis is really just a long compilation of data supporting a well-recognized phenomenon, the data itself is useful. It shows just how different the South has been from the rest of the country over much of the past century, related, of course, to its slave-holding history. The story identifies how dependent the Republican Party has become on the support of southerners, especially those of the white, male persuasion. The historically interesting aspect of this is that it is the same trap that Democrats were in in the 1878-1948 period. Today's Republicans risk a true split in the party whenever they veer toward the electoral center, but given their current base of support, they are not in position to win national elections any longer, because the rest of the country has moved beyond the convenient myths that supported them during the past 30 years.

The press has given due note to the prediction Lyndon Johnson made following the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, "...we may have just given the South to the Republicans for a generation." Though this proved true, not much has been written about what might happen next. The reality that is being lived on the ground is that not only have the Republicans lost touch with majorities in most of the rest of the country (we're really not counting Idaho, Wyoming and Utah), but also that even within the South, they are losing ground. That is happening partly because of immigration to the South from other parts of the country, as well as growing Hispanic populations in Texas, Florida and North Carolina, but also because younger voters in the South are trending more Democratic than their parents. It is no accident that the Obama campaign targeted ALL voters under 30 in the last election, even in the South. And as a result of that campaign and its modern database development, we now know who a lot of those folks are and how to get them to come out again.

Today's Republican leaders (note the quotes from former RNC chairman Haley Barbour in the Brownstein piece) are reduced to nothing more than the wishful thinking that Obama might fail and thus return them to power. The far more likely scenario is that both health care and energy bills will pass this year, that the economy will rebound at least modestly, and that Obama will be reelected in a Rooseveltian rout, because, to paraphrase Al Franken's character, Stuart Smalley, gosh darn it, people like him.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


From Slacker: "Withdrawing in disgust is not the same thing as apathy." And that's all I'm gonna say about that.

Okay, not quite all:

I was invested enough in the 2007 city election-- one, I might add, in which the idea of single-member districts was still on the table-- to (albeit incompetently) manage a specific candidate.

But I...uh...well...uh...I didn't even vote this past May 9. Nor did I bother to comment in this space on the race.

Why? Because there weren't any viable alternatives to the incumbents, who were going to win anyway.

I think Debra McCartt's been a good mayor, but I also think she's been a cheerleader. She's been a good mayor for good times, but, if the times in Amarillo turn as sour as they have elsewhere, she may not be the best choice. I also think her choice to take another full-time job has effected her performance as mayor for the worse.

But what were the options? Jim Brokenrecord-- who hates us-- and Daniel Blue-- whom I know, and like, and would've voted for as a protest were there any other reason on the ballot to bother to vote for anyone, but who is not a viable candidate.

The city commission races were similarly uncontested by viable candidates.

What's left? The school board? Please.

The Globe-News and the Independent and the Daily Campus when I was a student at SMU, and every other newspaper ever dating back, no doubt, to the Sumerian Times just love to scold the public for the public's alleged apathy. And they always, always, always say something like this:

For those who stayed home and repudiated their most sacred of American rights, we say, you've really lost your right to engage in public debate. Sit down, be quiet, and next time, get off your butts and vote.
But, frankly, I've earned my stripes. I've been politically involved enough for long enough to pick and choose my battles. And if I decide that it's a waste of time to vote in a forgone-conclusion election that offers no real choices-- well, that hardly makes me less qualified to comment and complain than some old fart who gets off his ass once every two years to walk across the street to the elementary school and punch whatever names he recognizes from the Globe-News.


a modest prediction

Creationists will now demand that scientists provide a fossil record linking "Ida" to modern humans before they concede that evolution is more than an "unproven theory".


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Amarillo A-hole of the week

In my never ending quest to identify then -- hopefully -- annoy the delusional partisan forces of Amarillo I hearby bequeath the title of Amarillo A-hole of the week upon Mr. Ricky Pfeil (pronounced Piffle I believe). In case you missed his recent essay in the Globe News, let me summarize.
Mr. Pfeil...
1. Failed to recognize that Arlen Specter left the Republican party because Limbaugh and his group have declared war on all moderate thinkers within the party. He doesn't know it but Specter probably won't be the last. Can you say Ah-nuld!!
2. Thinks that the root word Neo means "new" when it's applied to words like conservative or Christian. Doesn't know that Neo actually means "nutty" when used in those settings. He also doesn't know that he is both a Neoconservative and a NeoChristian.
3. Believes that Christians should help people but doesn't think government should be the way people help people. But in the next paragraph, he tells us 80 to 90 percent of all Americans believe in God and want his word to guide our government's actions. Confusing? You bet. Ricky seems to believe that we should follow God's laws in our governance but shouldn't follow God's policies in practice.
4. Thinks liberals are...shudder...humanists. Stop me if I'm wrong but isn't a humanist someone that believes humans should treat one another humanely? Uh Jesus Christ...ever heard of him Ricky? The woman at the well? The prostitute and the whole casting the first stone story? Healing the sick? I can't speak for Jesus but I think there is at least a chance that he was/is a humanist too.
5. Seems able to do something that I thought only God could do. He claims the ability to see into another men's hearts. He seems to know that liberals only pay lip service to their Christian faith. He also seems to know that Bill Clinton is just a big phony.

Wow... Ricky you really earned your award. You are truly worthy of the title "Amarillo A-hole of the Week".

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Texas In Play?

It says here that Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison may resign from her Senate seat before the end of the year. The reasoning, according to "Big bad" John Cornyn, would be that she wants to run for governor. Presumably, she finds having to vote in the Senate an inconvenience to her campaign. According to Cornyn, the timing of her resignation would be to enable Gov. Perry to appoint her replacement and give that Republican a better chance at election in 2010. But the article from Politico also points out that Democratic Mayor Bill White of Houston has already banked over $2 million in his run for that seat, which certainly makes him a viable contender. White has carefully crafted his career, and has a moderate "get-stuff-done" resume as Houston mayor. With the state's Republicans continuing their rightward trend, it may finally be time for a Democrat to be elected statewide.

And the possibility of a Perry appointment raises all sorts of possibilities. Perry would probably appoint another rabid right-winger as a supplication to his own base, giving him a better chance to defeat Hutchison in the primary. But he already has a leg up in that respect, so if he really wants to hold the Senate seat, he might go with someone more in Hutchison's camp. Or, if Perry is truly worried about Hutchison defeating him, he could appoint himself. Maybe that's what Hutchison is angling for. In any event, it's really not a mystery why Hutchison wants to be governor. She knows that if she has any hope of being elected president, the route lies through the governorship. This is the opposite of Florida Gov. Charlie Christ's rationale, because he knows he has made himself persona non grata with the right wing, so likely has no open route to the presidency from his current position, but is so popular in Florida that he can be elected in perpetuity to the U.S. Senate.

President Obama's Weekly Address - 5/16/09

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

We've got five years / What a surprise / Five years, stuck on my eyes / We've got five years / My brain hurts a lot / Five years, that's all we've got

From Prodigal Son's very first post, cleverly titled "Welcome to the Panhandle Truth Squad," we have been proud to offer the Texas Panhandle cogent political analysis like...well, like that very first post. It seems appropriate now to quote that most prescient of posts in its entirety:

Indeed, who could have known, as time went by, how many, many political events that post would foretell; who could have known how history would judge the eloquence demonstrated so early on by the Panhandle Truth Squad?

.....One of the many Historical Events covered by the Panhandle Truth Squad.

Yes, we are-- as has been noted-- Very Old for a blog, and we have seen much. We have made enemies of our friends and friends of our enemies. We apologize for nothing, though we have often been dead wrong. What do we care? No one remembers-- except Curious Texan, and he is easily dismissed. Pshaw!-- that is the sound made when Panhandle Truth Squad dismisses Curious Texan.

Ah, but we should be more mature. We are, after all, Very Old.

.....An early Panhandle Truth Squad anniversary party.

But we will not Grow Up, even as we Grow Old. In this New Age (an age in which nominal Liberals are actually In Control), we will re-commit to reminding the I-35 corridor and others that the Panhandle exists, that if Rick Perry secedes from the United States he will have to do it Without Us, and that "Thick-Skinned" means Doin' It when it Ain't Easy. Those who have never tasted Dust imprinted in their Teeth by 90 mph winds will never understand us. We will Dance with those what Brung us-- but only as long as it suits us. We Are What We Are. We Are Panhandle Truth Squad.


P.S. Join us Friday evening, May 15th, beginning at 7:00 PM, for our fifth anniversary party. E-mail panhandletruthsquad@yahoo.com for more info.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

we keep getting older; other bloggers stay the same age

Panhandle Truth Squad will celebrate our five-year anniversary (that's, like, 16 billion in blog-years) on Friday evening, May 15th, beginning at 7:00 PM.

E-mail panhandletruthsquad@yahoo.com for more information.

Fashions current when Panhandle Truth Squad first went online, long before many of our fellow bloggers were even born.


Monday, May 11, 2009

Clusterf*&!@ to the Poorhouse: Stardate: 2321.4

It's Gods-damn awful out there. You know already.

It has been almost three months, and no new job. A couple of interviews that I candidly had to pry out of my network and some past favors called in. The two CEO's I have talked to have said that there is more shitty stuff yet to come in financial services land. Over 250 resumes sent out, 2 headhunters who have come up nada. 4 phone interviews.

I have heard from a lot of sources that there are a ton of folks at my level being shitcanned. The unofficial reason? You can get a newbie to (attempt) to replicate my results for 60 cents on the dollar for what I was paid. Maybe. There are a lot of us 40 year old's with families booted. Cheaper all around to hire singles, with 2 years work experience. Rush the old farts out before their stock options and 401k's are fully vested!

WOO! Capitalism!

The option to purchase a local firm is still there, but the state I live in requires partial ownership by a CPA, and the financing paperwork has been a nightmare, thanks to the SBA, who changes their requirements daily. It could still happen, but the chances have moved to probably 40% now.

Things have gotten terribly tight. Hard choices. Even harder choices coming up in June. The stress is terrible. Thank goodness everyone is healthy, or it could be even worse.

But I have sucked in my pride, and gone back to waiting tables. Being managed by a 23 year old who is focused on the previous nights drinking and skirt chasing. Tips are only a little relief. Yesterday I worked 10 hours and made $52. At a high-end steak joint, no less. This country is broke. But I had a few extra bucks for flowers and chocolate for Mrs. Prodigal on mother's day, and that was good.

Two things pressed me last night on the drive home, thankful to still have a home (for now), and a great wifey and kiddos . . .

1. Why the f*#$ is the press cheering the fact that ONLY 500k jobs were lost in April?

2. More importantly and personally . . . when will a potential employer during an interview say, "If you are so great, why haven't you found a job yet?" at which point I become damaged goods re: employment.

-Prodigal Son

Thursday, May 07, 2009