“It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into”

Jonathan Swift
"The Democrats have moved to the right, and the right has moved into a mental hospital." - Bill Maher
"The city is crowded my friends are away and I'm on my own
It's too hot to handle so I gotta get up and go

It's a cruel ... cruel summer"

Monday, January 31, 2005

Thornberry's Answer

Back on December 17th I called the congressman's office and spoke with Nora Shirley, asking her how Mac voted on the DeLay Rule (see my post on 12/18/2004). Ms. Shirley stated his staff did not know how he voted, but the congressman would write me personally. Well, I got the letter today (about a month and a half later!) My question was "How did Congressman Thornberry vote on the DeLay Rule?" Here is his answer, verbatum:

"Thank you for contacting me to share your thoughts on recent decisions made by the House Republican Conference concerning Conference and House Rules. I appreciate hearing from you.

As the 109th Congress begins its first year, we have plenty of challenges ahead of us. Many issues important to the nation are being debated including the future of Social Security, the transformation of our military, the reform of our immigratin poliocy, and efforts to further lower the tax burden imposed on hard-working Americans. It would be tragic if the energy that should be devoted to those objectives was instead lost to a resumption of the ethics wars that plagued Congress in the previous decade.

I believe the rules changes that the House Republican Conference has approved in recent weeks will help to protect the House from such pitfalls. At the same time, I do not believe that any of the changes prevent us from assuring stern discipline for any Member who fails to meet the standards of conduct that the American people have a right to expect from those of us who serve in Congress.

Mac Thornberry
Member of Congress"

What was his answer to my question as to how he voted? It certainly appears that he isn't proud of his vote - these guys won't admit to anything - they're unaccountable!

The Liberalator

Sunday, January 30, 2005

oh, that's good

Not to be negative, but seriously, with insurgents running around threatening and intimidating voters, should they really be stamping each voter's body with red ink?


Friday, January 28, 2005

The Republic of Texas Lives

Fellow callin hisself "Bunker" has done carved all us Texians a little space outta the blogosphere. I see he's stopped in heah, too. Welcome to ever'one comin round this way from Texas Bloggers.


how to be an opposition party

State Rep. Rene Oliveira has the right idea: come up with a money-is-no-object, pie-in-the-sky plan. Announce that you want to spend, oh, what the hell, let's say

$8.1 billion
to do things everyone agrees with in principle like
educate poor and bilingual students, give teachers pay raises and improve school facilities.
Don't worry-- you'll never have to actually spend this money or be responsible for successfully educating those bilingual students. Because Republicans like Tom Craddick will be falling all over themselves to remind the public that not everyone agrees with these noble goals. Republicans of Craddick's ilk will show how very out of touch they are by saying things like:
That's just not going to happen. That's not reality.
And let us be the first to draw the obvious soundbitten conclusion: Democrats like Oliveira want to educate our children. Tom Craddick, Republican, thinks the successful education of Texas schoolchildren is
just not going to happen.
National Democrats, you watching this guy? You see how easy this is?


Thursday, January 27, 2005

we didn't do it

TAP has a great article refuting the Republican congressional claim that it's okay for them to run amok ethically because the "Democrats did it first" after they had been in power for forty years. Author Sam Rosenfeld helpfully provides a list of the things Democrats "did not do" even after decades of power:

They did not sic the Capitol police on a group of the minority members attempting to confer in an empty room, as the Republican Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas did in 2003. They did not exclude non-pliant Republicans from negotiations on conference reports, as Republicans now do to them as a matter of course. Their leadership did not make it an explicit rule never to put bills to a vote that lack support from “a majority of the majority” -- that is, a majority of the members of the party in control -- as Speaker Dennis Hastert has done.

How about we take this and run with it? Hit that comments button and post things you can think of that Panhandle-area Democrats have not done. This is just for fun. Rumors and half-truths welcome! (Just make sure your postings are at least half true . . . )


them gay bunnies ain't as bad as them terrorist teachers, but . . .

Reyne, friend of PTS, sends along the following commentary about this foolishness:

It is nice to see that Bush’s new Education Secretary that started on Monday is spending her time on useful things like attacking a PBS cartoon character. Could her focus be on teacher retention, saving UpwardBound/TalentSearch programs, addressing high school dropout rates or the like? NO!..... in what this article refers to as “one of her first acts as Secretary,” what else does she do, but threaten the funding of an animated rabbit!

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Dear Amarillo Globe-Republican,

Thank you for the anonymous editorial in this morning's edition, "Frist gives fair warning Democrats should heed". Your tough talk was undoubtedly meant to be intimidating to Democrats, but within your argument lies the very reason Democratic Senators, who seem to have regrown their spines over the past several months, should keep up their work opposing Bush appointees. You state, "There's a critical principle at stake that has nothing to do with which party is obstructing. It's called the "will of the majority."" Indeed, it is the will of the majority at work here. You see, those Democratic Senators were elected by the majority in their home states, and I'm sure those voters expect them to do more than just rubber stamp everything the Republicans put in front of them.

Once again, thank you for helping to clarify this issue.


moment of silence

Take a moment for meditations, tributes, prayers, mournful thoughts or whatever seems appropriate to you. Just don't forget or become completely numbed to the ongoing bloodshed.


Tuesday, January 25, 2005

the bard predicts the bush

I meant to post this last year when I taught Hamlet, but I never got around to it. So enjoy, from Claudius's soliloquy:

In the corrupted currents of this world,
Offense's gilded hand may shove by justice,
And oft 'tis seen the wicked prize itself
Buys out the law. But 'tis not so above . . .
John Lennon put it slightly differently:
Instant Karma's gonna get you.
And freeper1271 said it like this:
Halliburton rules OK!

Sunday, January 23, 2005

PTS Action Alert: Bush Administration Attempts to Demolish Road to Middle Class

On January 20, 2005, as Bush-supporters and unwitting taxpayers alike spent over $40 million dollars on parades and balls to celebrate Inauguration Day, Dr. Arnold Mitchum, President of the nonprofit Council for Opportunity in Education, quietly sent a letter to his professional colleagues across the country. The letter received far less sound and fury than the inauguration, but it involved an issue that will also reach far into the future.

Mitchum's letter discussed the role that Talent Search and Upward Bound (TRiO) programs would play as legislators debate the future of the American public educational system. These programs identify and help students from disadvantaged backgrounds who have the potential to succeed in college, including first generation students (high school students from families in which neither parent holds a bachelor's degree).

These programs-- which have provided assistance for generations to students struggling to join the middle class-- are now quietly being targeted for elimination. White House officials have confirmed that the February 7 budget will propose to end Talent Search and Upward Bound programs by May of 2006. These cuts will total $460 million.

This amount is less than three-tenths of one percent of the cost to date of the Iraq War. It's about a dollar and a half a year from each American. Or it's about ten days of partying at the pace established in the Inaugural. In a larger sense, these cuts are a part of the Bush Administration's efforts to create larger class divisions. The elimination of New Deal and Great Society programs will eliminate the middle class. The elimination of TRiO programs will not receive as much media attention as the debates over Social Security, but they are also crucial.


Friday, January 21, 2005

What Republicans Voted For

PTS reader/contributor Charles Kiker had a great column in today's Amarillo Republican News. CLICK HERE to read it.

He stated that we need to continue to point out what the Kennebunkport Corleones have brung us . . . so here is an updated WHAT YOU REPUBLICANS VOTED FOR!

-A shiny new war in Iran! CLICK HERE and CLICK HERE
-New things to hate; Spongebob Squarepants, the enemy! CLICK HERE
-Let them eat cake, American Style! CLICK HERE and CLICK HERE
-No more right to contest a corrupt election CLICK HERE
-A new Trans-Afghanistan Oil Pipeline CLICK HERE
-Proof of Right Wing media bias CLICK HERE

-A new arms race CLICK HERE
-Continuous back door draft CLICK HERE
-Confessions resulting from torture a-ok in court now CLICK HERE
-The disappearance of the dollar as THE international currency CLICK HERE
-A mind blowing $7.3 trillion debt left to our kids CLICK HERE
-Putting politics over making America safe from terrorism CLICK HERE
-"Conservatives" now above the law CLICK HERE and CLICK HERE
-A pension bailout crises costing taxpayers BILLIONS CLICK HERE
-Unchecked war profiteering costing the taxpayers BILLIONS CLICK HERE
-Putting "activist" judges (Guess conservative activists are OK!) on the supreme court CLICK HERE
-Getting rid of ALL checks and balances CLICK HERE
-A fascist form of government for the first time CLICK HERE
-Throwing out prohibitions against lobbying for former officials CLICK HERE

-Panhandle Truth Squad

(Anyone else wants to add something we would love to hear from you! Email us: panhandletruthsquad@yahoo.com)

Editor of Vanity Fair rips George "a new one"!

How bout a healthy dollop of the truth to start your day, PTS. The TRUTH goes nationwide, on FOX NEWS...no less! "Pure Poetry"

Thursday, January 20, 2005

The Brat Prince Is Sworn In...Again

"Let them eat cake!" Posted by Hello

Your president...bought and paid for by the corporate aristocracy.

a google bomb that might actually make a difference

Social Security.

This Is Where We Live

Just watch this . . . and pass it on to your friends. CLICK HERE

-Prodigal Son

red, red whine

A cartoon published in the Moore County News-Press (Dumas, Texas) testifies to the utterly futility of John Kerry’s attempts to be statesmanlike, or rise above the fray, or whatever it is he’s been doing these past few months. The cartoon portrays John and Teresa Kerry in a restaurant. The matre d’ asks if Kerry wants to see a wine list and he puts one hand on the wine list, raises the other into the air, and says “I do.”

The cartoon is titled “Sour Grapes.”

It isn’t a particularly amusing or insightful cartoon. It was drawn for one reason only: to spread the right-wing talking point that Kerry is Sore-Loserman. This lie was planned from the beginning, and nothing Kerry could have done after the election would stop its propagation. He should have fought for every vote, since the right-wing media will savage him either way.


For Today, Hope

JFK's Inaugural Address:

"We observe today not a victory of party but a celebration of freedom--symbolizing an end as well as a beginning--signifying renewal as well as change. For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forbears prescribed nearly a century and three-quarters ago."

The rest in "comments." CLICK HERE

-Panhandle Truth Squad

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

What a sad day tomorrow will be...

I am still amazed, awestruck, borderline ill, and profoundly sad that we AGAIN find ourselves in a place where we have to be witness and a party to the inauguration of the one and only known "missing link" found in the 21st century....into the white house for four more long years.

Remember, "Not One Damn Dime" day tomorrow.........go buy whatever this evening and gas up the Edsel, because it's our simple way of protesting in the only language that these neo-convicts understand. Wouldn't it be great if there was an actual blip on the radar screen of Wall Street that would let everyone know that we are indeed alive and well.

I'm so sad...........come on, Friday!

D.A. is for Drug Addict

See comments for more news about Republican DA Rick Roach:


sympathy for the devil

We haven't said anything about the Tom Coleman trial. It was an ugly, sordid mess, the kind of thing we always knew was lurking under the dark underbelly of this part of the world. Somehow we'd always known it would eventually come to something like this, felt it in the dark, forgotten depths of our souls every time we grimaced at some comment some psychotic hillbilly prefaced with "Now, I ain't a racist but--"

Still, when the filth finally burbled to the smoky surface, we really didn't have anything to add. And Grits for Breakfast seemed to have the whole thing covered.

But this morning, the Disembodied Voice of the Amarillo Globe-News opinion page penned a very strange editorial titled "Perjury is best justice can do". The newsroom ghost seems to argue that Tom Coleman shouldn't serve any jail time. Using the time-honored tools of Redundancy, Opaqueness and Circular Logic, the Disembodied Voice says that "justice had been denied already to so many" that "doing the same thing to Tom Coleman" would be a "miscarriage of justice."

Come again? What in the holy living hell does that mean?

We're hoping that the Disembodied Voice has simply belched forth a really, really poorly-written string of gibberish. Because the alternative is that our local newspaper is defending one of the most savage racists seen in this region in decades.

Either way this particular rant wouldn't have been published with a byline.


Jim Hightower's Common-Sense

The good folks working with Jim Hightower have kindly started including PTS on the distribution list for Jim's "Common-Sense Commentaries". We are gonna post 'em whenever he sends us a new one. Here's the latest.

Why is it that when George W says he's going to "reform" something, I
instinctively want to grab my money, my liberties, my family...and flee
to the woods? CLICK HERE to read the rest.

-Panhandle Truth Squad

Jabber Wonky

A GREAT debate between two bloggers, liberal (Max Sawicky) and conservative (Arnold Kling), took place on the wall street journal online about the non existent social security crises. Go figger!

Max demolishes Arnie, not because he is a better debater, but because TRUTH IS STRENGTH.

CLICK HERE to read the back and forth.

BTW, have you written the media lately stating that you are opposed to Bush's "Piratization" scheme?

CLICK HERE to write to three at the same time!

-Prodigal Son

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

good people

The Potter-Randall Democratic Club will meet Monday, January 24th, 2005 at the Amarillo Public Library, Central Branch, 413 SE 4th Sreet. Refreshment and fellowship will begin at 6:45 PM followed by the meeting at 7:00 PM. The featured speaker is Ken Starcher, Associate Director of Alternative Energy at WTAMU. There will be an important business meeting following the speaker.

32nd Roe v Wade Observance - Thursday Night - 7:00 pm - Amarillo Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
"The Right to Privacy..." (Jeff Blackburn, Local Civil Rights Atty), and
"United Nations Family Planning Association" (Carol Stahl, Trustee, Amarillo Unitarian Universalist Fellowship)

PTS Meetup Postponed

We're going to postpone the PTS meetup until next week in hopes that more of us will be able to attend. Please post your available evenings in comments and we'll have it on the evening most people can come.

your cheating heart

Some preliminary thoughts on the media coverage of the Amarillo Independent School District TAKS controversy:

1. Statistical analyses of the sort that the Dallas Morning News published and the Amarillo Globe-News reprinted to imply cheating is always circumstantial evidence. Because we are berated by statistics through our media and by our politicians, and because those statistics are so used, misused and abused to manipulate us, I have long believed that basic statistics should be taught as part of the regular curriculum in high school. The understanding of statistics is a citizenship issue. Statistical analysis has also demonstrated that the results of the 2004 national election were extremely suspect. Did we see these statistics in the Morning News?

2. Accordingly, although statistics can tell us the chances of something happening, they cannot prove why or how it happened. That the scores improved is known. The newspapers provided numbers and context that demonstrated the unlikelihood of it happening. But without additional specific evidence, we jump to a conclusion if we assume cheating.

3. Amarillo Independent School District did a good job of educating the media and the public about the statistical issues involved. They credibly demonstrated how small results could look bigger under the Dallas Morning News methodology. Superintendent Rod Schroder also—like a good defense attorney—established reasonable doubt by providing credible alternative explanations for the improved results. These alternative explanations included increased tutoring and outstanding teaching.

4. However, appeals to sentiment remain logical fallacies. The coverage in the Amarillo Globe-News was surprisingly thorough and accurate, with some exceptions noted below. Through the magic of my S.O.’s roommate's TiVo, I was able to also view the coverage on KCIT Fox 14 and KVII Channel 7 (the ABC affiliate). (Kim Fischer of Fox 14 amusingly questioned the “validididity” of the results.) A viewer of the television coverage only might be forgiven for concluding that the essence of AISD’s defense involved a vulnerable-looking blonde crying crocodile tears. This blonde- whose picture also graced the front page of the AGN- was Lee Elementary School principal Karen Atkinson. Apparently using the same tactic seventeen-year-old girls sometimes use to get out of speeding tickets, Atkinson cried for the cameras that her students had been upset by the coverage and fretted that people thought they were “stupid” because they were “poor.” This testimony was unseemly, unprofessional and unnecessary, since the facts (so far) appear to be on AISD’s side.

5. Furthermore, although the TAKS results were interpreted by the Morning News in such a way to maximize unusual results, and although the AISD provided credible evidence which should settle the matter unless other evidence of cheating appears, the results do remain unusual. Therefore, the victory-crowing of the headline “Parents, principals knew it was quality education, not cheating” seems premature and misleading. “Believed” might be a better word. Comments in the article such as

"You can't compare third-graders with fourth-graders. It's like comparing an apple and a lemon, and it just don't work. They had a bad set of figures to start with; you can't compare across grade levels."

prove my main point: that the general public is undereducated about statistics to the point that it is a danger to the republic.

6. AISD’s “internal investigation” remains just that: an internal investigation, with all that implies. Schroder is perhaps best viewed as a defense attorney. His job is to provide a credible narrative for why the scores appear as they do that does not involved cheating on the part of AISD employees. At this point in time he appears to have done so, and absent further evidence from the prosecutors (Dallas Morning News) the matter should be dropped.


Monday, January 17, 2005

Don't forget the PTS meetup

The PTS meetup is currently scheduled for Thursday, January 20 at 7:00 pm at the Starbucks in Wolflin Village. RSVP in comments.

hundreds of Amarilloans in the streets

A few minutes ago, the S.O. and I returned from the Amarillo chapter of the NAACP’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Holiday Celebration. It was very chilly and our faces and legs became quite numb during the march. Nevertheless the turnout was impressive: about as many people turned out as the Black Historical Culture Center could hold.

Although numerous members of the local Democratic/Progressive community marched and listened to the speakers, the other side of the aisle was disappointingly poorly represented. For example, Ms. Iris Lawrence announced State Senator Kel Seliger as an invitee, but no one from his office acknowledged the announcement, so they were apparently a no-show. Ms. Lawrence, in fact, read a long list of prominent local citizens and leaders who had been invited and only a small percentage stood to show that they were there. The contrast between the no-shows (local leaders, including the mayor) and the large and diverse numbers of ordinary citizens who did show was very clear. It demonstrated very clearly who is represented by city and area leaders, and who is not.

Exceptions were city commissioners Daniel Martinez and Debra McCart, who offered a proclamation from the city commission.

The celebration itself was very positive. The theme was “Remember! Celebrate! Act! A day on . . . not a day off,” and the speakers all made clear that action remains the key to progress on racial issues. This is also true of other issues for which the progressive community continues to fight.

Mrs. Jill Bempong spoke of “economic empowerment.” She suggested that caring people spend money with companies that empower employees to improve their lives, saying that we can honor Dr. King “daily with our choices.” This is, to us in the progressive community, a close relative of the Buy Blue campaign. This campaign should move beyond partisanship and money to look at all facets of how companies do business. The problem with Wal-Mart may begin with the truckloads of money they give the Emperor W and his minions— but the problems continue with employee abuse, corporate lies, and community destruction.

The Rev. Darrell Fincher of Jenkins Chapel Baptist Church also gave a rousing and inspirational speech. He reminded us to “remember, celebrate, act” every single day and said we “must tell our children to stand for freedom.”

Absolutely. Despite the foul juncture we find ourselves at today, it remains true that we had leaders like Dr. King not so long ago. And what these men did worked, and it changed the world. To me, the theme of today’s celebration can be paraphrased this way: learn from the good examples of the past, stay positive, and do something that might make a difference.

The election was two months ago. It’s time to get over our depression and self-pity and get back out in the streets. See y'all out there.


Book review

"In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king." This is my assessment of what I learned from reading a 2004 publication, The Pentagon's New Map, by Thomas Barnett, a professor at the Naval War College and a PhD graduate of Harvard. The book purports to describe what America should provide to the world (even if they aren't grateful), and why we Americans are now positioned to change history. I was put onto this book by all the inside-the-beltway buzz it has been receiving, along with words like 'genius' and 'revelation' attached to it. This of course means nothing other than that it is in fashion, but I decided to check it out for myself, and found it on the shelves of our own public library. I understand that a book's notoriety reveals nothing about its content, or its truth, but it is consistently amazing how little relationship there is, even when the author is clearly smart enough and has tremendous academic credentials. Although I am not predisposed to disagree with all of the book's conclusions, in an extended essay like this, I do like to see some rigorous reasoning put behind them. In 383 pages, I was unable to find even a clear definition of the most used words in the book, much less any valid, logical arguments that begin with established facts. Amazingly, the book mostly consists of arguments by assertion, repeated multiple times, backed up by counter-arguments to straw men, mixed in with bits of autobiography and travelog. For all of its folksiness, the book isn't even terribly readable. So why, you may ask, is it considered so brilliant? Presumably, because it is written by one of the Pentagon's golden-haired boys, and it offers some conclusions to suit a lot of different tastes (very politic), bound together by a very simple concept, its map which divides the world in two (basically this is the familiar haves vs. have-nots using different terms). It does have a reasonable, even noble goal, of trying to provide the Pentagon with a new set of security doctrines to replace the old Cold War rules. In so doing, the author (the one-eyed man) sees that such rules relate necessarily to global economic and social realities, something that others at the Pentagon (the blind) apparently do not see. Although he never demonstrates why it is true, Barnett argues that we, the world's only superpower, must remain persistently engaged with those who are relatively disconnected to the global economic system, to try to help them get connected and reduce the disparity between the two worlds. Nothing really new here (and for the record I largely agree), and it would not be notable but for the fact that many on the political right don't accept it. He makes it palatable to them, however, by leaping to the utterly unfounded conclusion that attempting such engagement via armed intervention, as in Iraq, is sometimes necessary and justified. Dr. Barnett shows, if nothing else, that he is a skilled politician, and that the Pentagon is no place for truth telling, even among technocrats.


Saturday, January 15, 2005

Of Fish and Men

In this morning's AGN Allen Finegold poses a question in reference to the City of Amarillo's plans to spend $4 million to improve McDonald Lake. Finegold states that health care clinics would be a wiser use of the money and asks who will the city favor: the fish or the poor? Well, Allen, I'm going to go out on a limb here and predict they'll call it for the fish. Our leaders here in the reddest-of-the-red are con$ervative, and con$ervatives loathe the poor. Wealth is their morality and as such they believe that something you can't afford is something you don't deserve, be it a luxury item like a cell phone or a necessity like health care. From their perspective dumping billions of dollars into the military industrial complex and then hoping the money will make its way into the pockets of some working stiffs is a good thing. But a few million for a couple of health clinics is an unacceptable waste, even though it would be killing two birds with one stone - creating jobs and providing health care.

What it Means to be Liberal

Great post on Dailykos CLICK HERE This guy nails it!

Some beauts . . .

I believe the military is there to protect the country, not to be aggressors and remove fundamental rights from others on this planet.

I believe every person has the right to knowledge (i.e. a good education)

I believe in teaching these rights in school.

I believe every corporation has the duty to ensure their workers are paid equitably and are able to afford to live a relatively good life and purchase the products they sell (ala Henry Ford).

I believe the media should tell the truth, not just what the people in positions in authority want us to hear.

I believe in one person, one vote.

I believe prisoners can be rehabilitated.

I believe knowledge is power and that you should be deeply suspicous of anyone who trys to suppress information, regardless of party affiliation.

Can I get a "HELL YEAH!"

-Prodigal Son

AGN Full of it this Morning!

Two opinions by two different right-wingers JUMPED out upon reading our fair and balanced newspaper this morning. First Michelle Malkin said she was going to answer the question "Have you, at any time, taken money from the Bush administration in exchange for promotion of the administration's policies?" (the AGN didn't post either opinion on their website so I can't link!) Michelle rants her whole column about liberals denegrating her, but never answers her own question!

Then Matt Towery is recommending the tower of family values Newtie for a presidential candidate. I can hardly wait!

And, in passing, yesterday (Friday the 14th click here) our very own Virgil VC, after diligent research (he wrote he had to go to the library to have someone Google for him!) is recommending shutting down all the rural schools in the Panhandle except one in each county for economic reasons. So much for "home rule" and community support!

The Liberalator

Friday, January 14, 2005

the word "alleged" excuses everything: leaps of faith and jumps to conclusions

A few days ago we facetiously asked if the Amarillo Globe-News editors would insist on "compassion" for Republican drug fiend Rick Roach as they did for Republican drug fiend Rush Limbaugh. We were particularly interested in what the ghostly voice that speaks sans byline on the opinion page would say. The specter that haunts the left column of the page is, after all, supposed to be the "voice of the newspaper," and is supposed to consistently speak the "historic stance" of the paper.

Today, the AGN ghost had this to say:

"Roach was quoted in Thursday's Amarillo Globe-News as saying he plans to defend himself 'zealously.'

Good for him.

Roach is innocent until proven guilty."

Fair enough. But we wondered if the AGN had been so fair to other people who were accused of misbehavior. Like, for example, Democrats.

So, we went back to the Globe-News archives circa February and March, 1998. This was a period of time, you will remember, when President Clinton had been accused of certain lapses of judgment and spousal fidelity. It was also a period of time when nothing had been definitively proven about those lapses.

We found editorials by both opinion page editor John Kanelis and by the Ghostly Voice. And though all took care to use the word “alleged,” it’s quite obvious that the writers had rushed to judgment:

"We're left to wonder and worry" (Feb 1, Kanelis)
“Absent a full explanation, millions of Americans are left to wonder about the character of their president.
And to suspect the very worst.”

"The silence is deafening" (Feb 4, Ghostly Voice) condemns
“[s]ilence from feminists regarding President Clinton's alleged peccadilloes with young Monica Lewinsky”

"President's conduct does matter" (Feb 15, Kanelis)
“So, if at the end of this tawdry investigation all we have is proof that the president fooled around with a twentysomething White House aide, what does that say about his judgment or his sense of personal responsibility? It says he doesn't live by the code of conduct he preaches for everyone else.”

"Clinton loses trust day by day" (Feb 22, Kanelis)
“Clinton's prolonged silence on this matter only gives credence to the views of many - yours truly included - that something improper did happen. The longer the president dawdles, the more time that lapses before he sets the record straight, the more that his treasured legacy gets tarnished by the increasing belief that he no longer deserves our trust.”

"Clinton still has job to do" (Mar 23, Ghostly Voice)
“Sure, the president has some serious political troubles that might be of his own making. He has some questions to answer about allegations of sexual misconduct. Bill Clinton also has a job to do.”

"Doesn't character matter?" (Mar 24, Ghostly Voice)
“The assumption that all the alleged lying and charges of possible perjury concerning the Oval Office are confined to the president's so-called love life is a very dangerous assumption to make.”

Of course, Clinton was guilty of the affair. More than likely, Republican Rick Roach is guilty, too. It’s always a leap of faith to assume a forced neutrality and suppose that someone might possibly be innocent when it looks otherwise. The justice system has to make this leap of faith every single day. Individual citizens, newspapers and bloggers may make it or not as they choose.

The Amarillo Globe-News will make a leap for Republicans that they will not make for Democrats. That’s all we’re sayin’.


UPDATE: Tres Chicas has a good wrapup of the Rick Roach (Republican) matter.

Free Drugs For Elected Officials!


Thursday, January 13, 2005

thanks but no thanks

Amarillo Globe-News opinion page arch-wingnut Dave Henry attempted to show uncharacteristic compassion and understanding this morning by arguing that educator cheating on TAKS tests is caused by the stakes:

[W]hat choice do educators have?

When your job is dictated more or less by how well a student can answer a multiple choice question on how many yards are in 36 feet of decorative room border or write an essay on "The thing that makes me happy" in complete sentences, you want to make sure all bases are covered.

You might even cheat.

At the same time, educators throughout the state are receiving “reminders” from the Texas Education Agency that threaten certificate revocation, fines, jail terms, broken legs, cement overshoes, sensory deprivation, leashes, electrocution, and sexual organ ridicule to any teacher who cheats on the TAKS. Although the “reminder” includes a Jesse Jackson-esque couplet suggesting that most outstanding results are reason to “investigate, not litigate,” the overall tone is punitive and threatening.

Henry’s “compassion” and TEA’s intimidation are two sides of the same coin, and, since this is education in Texas we’re talking about, that coin is a penny. Henry suggests that teachers are incapable of rising above their own short-sighted needs to commit ethical acts. TEA seems to believe that teachers won’t act ethically unless they are browbeaten.

Most teachers consider their ethical responsibilities daily, just like most doctors act according to their Hippocratic Oath, and most lawyers don’t shoot methamphetamine between court appearances. Henry, TEA, and the public should understand that schools will improve when the vast majority of good teachers are treated as professionals. Of course, you have to start by treating us as adults.


Open Thread

Talk amongst yourselves! Comment on whatever you want . . .


(Then click on "Post a Comment")

-Panhandle Truth Squad

The Future of the Democratic Party

Recently, Spacedark did me the service of posting a piece of an email I wrote not long ago regarding my concern that too many progressives were toying with the concept of withholding their allegiance from the Dems. The quote was fine, as far as it went, but I'd like to provide you the whole context. Note the parts of this that discuss Attorney General designate Gonzales are a response to an earlier post by Prodigal Son. Here is my whole comment, word for word.

"First, I think it goes without saying that all of us contributed to the past campaign in large measure because of a certain amount of anger. That anger is a good thing, because it is justified and helps fuel our commitment. The question is whether it is more important to be angry for its own sake or to commit ourselves to change. Anger and self-righteousness are certainly easier. Change in a democracy is a long process that requires us frequently to make common cause with others who wish to help, even though we may not be in complete agreement. Now, let's be clear. If the Democratic Party as we know it today did not exist, we would be forced to create it. Fortunately, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. There are flaws in our party, as there are in every human organization. That is not a reason to jump ship. After all, if there were a third party, who would join it? Only truly pure liberals? What does that mean? I'm aware of several "liberal" parties that already exist and are available to join, but none of them has ever won a national election, nor come close. Why don't they unify? Mostly because each of them is too interested in their particular brand of philosophical purity to dilute it with others. Each lives under the illusion that they can convince large numbers of others to join them. Anyway, even if all Democrats and other progressives joined a new party, it would only constitute the Democratic Party by another name. But don't believe me. Try listening to none other than Howard Dean, who said the following just last month (the highlights are mine; the full text is available at http://www.democracyforamerica.com/).

CLICK HERE to read the rest . . .

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Private Accounts

A thought:

Guarantee my social security principal . . .

Under social security now I am guaranteed to get a certain amount. Let's ballpark $2500/month, ok?

Now, if I choose to have one of Shrub's mysterious private accounts, and because of this choice I have my benefits cut by 30% which brings my monthly SS income down to $1750, why not require that the $750 (Making up the difference for the total $2500/month) is the MINIMUM rate of return?

IOW, require the investment guys to bring me a guaranteed rate of return over time that will be no lower than what I would make if I go social security all the way. If it comes up short . . . THEY have to cover the difference.

Banks have indexed linked CD's that guarantee principal, why not guarantee my social security principal?

BTW, if this was the deal NO financial firm would go for it. They want you to have all the risk.

Whadda ya think?

-Prodigal Son

values party, and the true meaning of compasionate conservatism

Why was Republican Rick Roach, 31st District Attorney, arrested by Amarillo FBI agents and charged with possession of methamphetamine?

Federal agents arrested 31st District Attorney Rick Roach on Tuesday at the Gray County Courthouse in Pampa on a methamphetamine possession charge.

Roach, a prosecutor whose legal jurisdiction consists of Gray, Hemphill, Lipscomb, Roberts and Wheeler counties, was arrested by Amarillo FBI agents shortly before proceedings began in 223rd District Judge Lee Waters' court, Waters said Tuesday.

Surely something is amiss in Gray County.

Republican Rick Roach has sued newspapers for libel before. Perhaps it is the liberal bias of the Amarillo media that is fueling this story. No Republican would ever be guilty of drug possession. They are the values party, after all.

Perhaps, since he is a conservative, the Amarillo Globe-News will opine that he should be treated with compassion.



According to the Associated Press, Panhandle Republican Rick Roach, member of the family values party, has been indicted on weapons and drug charges:
The U.S. attorney's office says Roach is facing four counts, including three felonies. They are:

-- an addict or unlawful user in possession of a firearm. Conviction carries up to ten years in prison.

-- possession with intent to distribute or dispense methamphetamine. Conviction carries up to 20 years in prison.

-- possession with intent to distribute or dispense cocaine. Conviction carries up to 20 years in prison.

-- and misdemeanor unlawful possession of a controlled substance. Conviction carries up to one year in prison.

Just another Republican gun nut on drugs.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Words of a Congregational Minister

Dr. Robin Meyers, Oklahoma University Peace Rally
November 14, 2004

As some of you know, I am minister of Mayflower Congregational Church in Oklahoma City, an Open and Affirming, Peace and Justice church in northwest Oklahoma City, and professor of Rhetoric at Oklahoma City University. But you would most likely have encountered me on the pages of the Oklahoma Gazette, where I have been a columnist for six years, and hold the record for the most number of angry letters to the editor. Tonight, I join ranks of those who are angry, because I have watched as the faith I love has been taken over by fundamentalists who claim to speak for Jesus, but whose actions are anything but Christian. We've heard a lot lately about so-called "moral values" as having swung the election to President Bush. Well, I'm a great believer in moral values, but we need to have a discussion, all over this country, about exactly what constitutes a moral value.

I mean what are we talking about. Because we don't get to make them up as we go along, especially not if we are people of faith. We have an inherited tradition of what is right and wrong, and moral is as moral does. Let me give you just a few of the reasons why I take issue with those in power who claim moral values are on their

DNC Chair

Howard Dean announced today that he was officially in the race for DNC chair. As an orange hat (and we're like the Marines; there really are no "former" orange hats) I personally would be more receptive to the idea that we could reform the party from within if he were to win. Simon Rosenberg also says some of the right things. When you decide who you want to support, here's a list of the Texans who get to help decide.


Dem Meetup

I am informed that there is a general Democratic meetup tonight at the Starbucks on Soncy (7 p.m.).


PTS Meetup

Please click on comments for more information about the Panhandle Truth Squad meetup.

Monday, January 10, 2005

If you look it up...

I believe "squadder" is spelled with two "d's".....(j/k).

Thank you very much.

my own barbaric yawp

There has been a lot of increasingly overheated back-and-forth about some things that have been said in the liberal blogosphere about leaving the Democratic Party. Comments range from Mike Malloy’s “I am no longer a Democrat” to kos’s “Democratic Partisanship.”

Here’s what I said several posts ago:

“I’m not even sure I’ll stay in the Democratic Party. Atrios recently had a good bit about core principles. Add me to the growing number who’ll bolt if the Dems abandon those principles.”

Here’s what a Prominent Local Democrat had to say:
“What we need to understand is that while we may each have ideas we believe in that will not soon become public policy, we can still work together to make sure that our common vision is implemented . . . it is not hard to see that nearly any Democrat is preferable to nearly any Republican for almost any office. Now is not the time to be deluding ourselves with the false promise of another party. Now is the time to be even more unified and disciplined and effective.”

“[Congressional Democrats] are not agreeing that torture and indefinite detention are OK. They are recognizing the regrettable reality that the Republicans have the votes because they won the election and that if Gonzalez went down, Bush would only replace him with someone even worse. Of course, the Republicans didn't win by much, to be sure, and there are going to be opportunities for the Democrats to stop some of the worst of Bush's agenda, if we stick by them.”

I think that gives you the essence of Prominent Local Democrat’s argument. Here’s the problem:

it's the end of the world as we know it

Some of my current back problems are probably a result of slam-dancing (as we called it back then) to R.E.M.'s song by that name at the old S.R.O. club in Amarillo, which is now a strip joint. Memories.

This weekend the Significant Other and I were at the mall trying to spend Christmas gift certificates, and I noticed a truckload of Members Only jackets on the shelves of one of the department stores. Well, I commented to the S.O., at least we know this: if they're down to Members Only jackets, they're really scraping the bottom of the barrel. The 80s revival is almost over.

Would that it were so. Unfortunately, something happened in the 80s that was even more insipid, even more ill-thought-out, and even more deadly than the windbreakers with epaulets. It was the Reagan administration's war in El Salvador which involved among other things, support for death squads.

And now, another Republican administration, apparently caught up in 80s nostalgia, is considering the "Salvador Option". Slam dancing too much as a kid leads to back pain in your 30s; the favorite haunts of your youth turn into topless bars; and stupid Republican plots come back, decade after decade after decade.

Bad idea, guys. If you must relive the 80s, we've got some Family Ties reruns on Betamax we'd gladly send you.


Social Security . . . Now What?

In tandem with the outgoing email asking Truth Squaders to write their local media to stop Bush's Piratization scheme, PTS opens the floor to the discussion of Social Security itself. Let 'er Rip!



AGN sneers at your right to vote

In what has become the standard format for the Amarillo Pravda News' "Monday Briefing", this little gem popped up this AM. . .

. . ."Much ado about nothing: Forget that plans for President Bush's inauguration are all but done, and that John Kerry wanted nothing to do with it, U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, D-Ohio, and U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., still wanted Congress to hash it out over the presidential election. Congress wasted four hours Thursday debating and posturing over electoral votes because Tubbs Jones and Boxer, a Californian standing up evidently for all none of her Ohio constituents, protested alleged voting problems in Ohio. When the disenfranchised duo finished, Congress certified Bush's 286-251 electoral victory. Next on the agenda for Tubbs Jones and Boxer - tackling other foregone conclusions such as the curvature of the Earth and Auburn University's claim to a BCS national championship." . . .

So take that all you pansy Liberals who think people's votes should actually count! Congress took a whole 4 hours out of their busy schedule writing legislation for the cronies who own them to talk about every Americans right to vote! Darn them!

Sigh . . . Except it was not 4 hours . . . it was 2. The two houses broke off to debate apart from each other so the AGN said 4 hours to make it seem worse. And there was nothing alleged about the people who got screwed out of their vote last Nov. 2nd. Watch it for yourself CLICK HERE

What is the point of the AGN's sneer? A variation of the Sore Loserman crap from 2000? Who knows. But does the AGN serve it's readership well with such a poke in the eye to half its subscribers? Or by putting such an important discussion at the BOTTOM of a poorly written UNSIGNED column?

Send a letter to the editor if you are so inclined. Email it to: john.kanelis@amarillo.com

-Panhandle Truth Squad

Meetings on the fourth Monday of every month!

Dear Truth Squadders...would you consider coming to the monthly meetings of the Potter/Randall Democrats?

FYI...Starbucks gives 100% of their contributions to the Democratic Party....(and my son works there p/time).

The next meeting is on January 24, 7:00 pm (come early for some premeeting refreshments and chitter chatter) at the Downtown Library upstairs. Hope to see you there (which will be tricky as we are all anonymous...)!

Sunday, January 09, 2005

New Member

I'm Charles Kiker of Tulia, a new member of Panhandle Truth Squad. I want to see a rebirth of Progressive politics in the Panhandle. I hope that next election we have Progressive candidates running against the regressive politicians who currently misrepresent us in Austin and Washington. I'll be interested to see what PTS has to offer.

Welcome to PTS Charles!

-Panhandle Truth Squad

Your message got lost in your inability to articulate

From the Inbox regarding THIS POST . . .
Prodigal Son,

Your message got lost in your inability to articulate without the use of real and/or simulated profanity. You do real damage to yourself.

Secondly, if you would rationally look at what happened in both the first and this last election, and are brutally honest with yourself, you will admit that the Republicans are smarter, more skillful, more dedicated, more goal oriented, more 'take no prisoners' attitudinal, and finally without any sense of fairplay or decency... win any way you can for winning is everything.

And win they did.

They planned it that way and it happened that way.

Florida and Ohio were both won by Bush, and I know in my gut that the goal was to have enough votes made invalid or disappear in both states to assure a win for Bush... and that's the way it happened. And basically it is the fault of the Democrats for letting it happen,
because it did happen.


I actually agree with you on ALL of your points (except for the "Republicans are smarter" . . . you heard Bush speak? LOL). So aside from the cussing, I wonder what it is you disagree with and what that has to do with the pink tutu Democrats in Washington not backing up Boxer and Tubb-Jones and deep-sixing the Gonzales nomination I posted about. . .

Email in hoss to clear me up and bless ya for reading PTS!

BTW, the cussin' is just how I am. When someone tries to spin me I call them a bullsh***er.
When a fella bails out of 18 months of his ACTIVE duty during vietnam, I call him a dam* deserter. . . etc.

-Prodigal Son

Saturday, January 08, 2005

more local commentary from the AGN

This morning the Amarillo Globe-News offers the fourth in a series of columns from local legislators obfuscating what they wish to do this legislative session: this one from tobacco-industry point man and anti-gay crusader Warren Chisum. In keeping with the pattern established by John Smithee, Chisum uses most of his column to review the shortcomings of the various methods of school funding without really offering any solutions. He does, however, make the point that the transition from Democratic to Republican in Texas has also been a transition from rural to urban:

This legislative session will be more difficult than any I have experienced. The transition of leadership from Democratic to Republican hasn't been easy.

Rural representatives have ruled the Texas House for many years, but now rural Texans are only a small part of the population. Now the city folks are in charge.

Not that Texas bucks national trends of urban/rural partisan voting, so much as just trending Republican everywhere—and urbanizing at the same time. I assume that Chisum will continue to work through the Rural Caucus to represent these interests. He issues the platitude that “the state should not duck its obligation to “people who are unable to pay [for health care],” mumbles something about decisions regarding economic development taxes being made locally, and states that he intends to continue to bash gays by amending the Texas Constitution—a document that, after 129 years, already looks like the excavation of ancient Troy, city built on city built on city.

For more on Chisum’s record, or to add your own expertise to our own, check comments.


Friday, January 07, 2005

One step forward, One step too late???

If you saw Fahrenheit 911, there was a scene that made me more angry than I have been in a while. The congressional black congress, one by one, stood up to protest the horsesheeet that went down in florida at the order of Jebbie, while Gore gaveled them into silence because no senator would sign onto the measure.

Not. A. Frikkin'. One.

Yesterday, Senator Boxer, CA and Rep. Tubb Jones, OH stood up to protest the same sort of Republican induced corruption in Ohio. It was historic, it had not been done since 1877 . . . and for this Liberal it was a very teensy, eensy, tenuous step. We need more than tenuous steps.

It was a "contemptable act of nothingness". That's how Mike Malloy called it on his Air America radio show last night. CLICK HERE TO HEAR MIKE's 1/6/05 SHOW. Immediately afterward Mike said he was no longer a Democrat. (CLICK HERE to hear all Air America shows archived)

Two thoughts:

1. Why didn't ALL Democratic Senators stand up in unison? How strong a message would a united front have sent? Dammit!

2. Notice that it took two WOMEN to have enough balls to stand up to the unamerican crap in OH? All those men in congress, who get our taxpayer money in salary and perks and who, no doubt, congratulate themselves on their power and position at Washington power lunches, did not stand with these two gals. Oh, they made a few speeches . . .

. . . then they went back to sleep, and are about to confirm the Abu Ghraib torture enabler, sleazeball Bush a**-kisser, and incompetent (CLICK HERE and HERE) ALBERTO GONZALES to Attorney General of the USA. The guy who thinks the Geneva convention is "Obsolete" and "Quaint".

IMHO, by not filibustering this bastard, Democrats are agreeing that torture and indefinite detention is OK. BTW, 50 Civil Right groups oppose Gonzales CLICK HERE

First things first. At lunch/break today, take one moment to call the capitol switchboard for free at 1-877-762-8762 and thank Rep Tubb-Jones and Sen. Boxer.

Where to go? We can go Independent or we can work to reform or we can start a new party.

Your thoughts? Hit me with some comments. . .

-Prodigal Son

Thursday, January 06, 2005

PTS meetup

Post a comment here if you are interested. We've discussed this before, but now that the holidaze is over it might be a good time.


so that’s what they meant by "more local voices"

I’ve been wondering what the Globe-News would put in the Thursday morning space previously taken up by Amarillo Voices columnists. Well, now we have our answer: John Smithee!

Smithee’s “Guest Column” allegedly describes what he “intend[s] to accomplish for [his] constituents in the upcoming legislative session.” Okay. Worthwhile, if a bit late since the election, as I recall, was in November. I sat down to learn what was in store for Smithee’s constituents.

I still don’t know. Smithee’s piece was infested with platitudes and truisms such as: “There is no easy answer” and “We will not support any plan that is not fair to Panhandle citizens.” Two-thirds of the column describes the various methods of financing schools and the shortcomings of each, while providing no clue what Smithee thinks ought to be done. Most of the rest of the column deals with closing an insurance loophole. And the final paragraph reads thus:

Locally, my legislative agenda involves four primary issues: enhancement of higher education opportunities at Amarillo College, West Texas A&M University and Texas Tech Health Sciences Center; a long-term plan for preservation and stewardship of Palo Duro Canyon, including the development of a first-class visitor's center in the park; improving our Panhandle highway system, including the appearance of Interstate 40 in Amarillo; the development of a roadside rest park west of Amarillo; and ensuring that no Panhandle county is required to pay a constable unless the citizens of that county determine a constable is needed.

That’s all very nice, but rather short on specifics. So, I spent a little time checking out Rep. Smithee’s voting record.

Suffice it to say that the jury is still out, but the future doesn't look good for liberal voices on the AGN Opinion page. Check comments for specifics or to add your own observations about Smithee's record.


Wednesday, January 05, 2005

The Amazing George Bush!

Editorial: U.S. knows with great power comes great responsibility: that's the actual headline from the Globe-News.

One of the bitter truths about being the most powerful nation the world has ever seen is that no matter how much you do to help people, no matter how much support you lend, it's never enough.

The earthquake and tsunamis that devastated much of southern Asia and eastern Africa the day after Christmas prove the point.

President Bush has come to the forefront of the world's leaders in offering aid to the tens of millions of survivors of the devastation. . . .

Yet some in the world have said that the United States, the world's sole superpower, still isn't doing enough.

Sound familiar? It should.

Of course it sounds familiar. It's the freakin' Spiderman myth, for heaven's sake: By failing to use his superpowers when he had the chance George Bush allowed a criminal to escape the law-- a criminal who would later murder George's gentle Uncle Ben! Thus did he learn the fateful truth: with great power comes great responsibility!

Great Ceasar's Ghost! Will the mythmaking never end? First he was Time's American Revolutionary. Now he can spin webs and climb walls, even though he is forever harassed by J. Jonah Jameson, editor and publisher of The Liberal Media!

Next: More Fun With Unsigned Editorials!


ghost stories from the globe-news

Here's another problem with the unsigned editorials that run on the left side of the Amarillo Globe-News Opinion page:

We're told that only one staff member who works on the page is a gen-yoo-wine right-wing wacko. And we believe this to be true. But the unsigned editorials are required by the publisher to follow something darkly referred to as the "historical stance of the paper." We're supposed to imagine that there's some Ghost of Opinions Past running around the newsroom typing up these editorials on an ancient Underwood Model 5.

If you call or e-mail the editorial staff about these editorials the defensive staff reaction will remind you of little Jeffy from the "Family Circus" comic: Who wrote the unsigned editorial? "Not Me!" It was that damned newsroom ghost! He's the right-wing wacko-- not me!

But, sadly, there is no newsroom ghost. These reprehensible opinions have to be typed up by a real, live human being. Real people who probably have gay friends have to script garbage like yesterday's support for State Rep. Warren Chisum's proposed legislation calling for a gay marriage ban. The corporate bosses who enforce the right-wing agenda get champagne and huge houses; the poor souls who type the agenda get—what? Free Ambien to help them sleep at night?

Another defense of the ghost editorials is equally childlike: Everybody does it! While we understand this reality, we are the self-proclaimed ombudsmen for the Amarillo media-- not for everybody. We do, however, oppose the practice of publishing unsigned editorials in all major media. Making the writing of editorials with which one may personally disagree a condition of one's employment is an undemocratic abuse of one's employees. We stand in solidarity with our oppressed brethren and sistren at the Amarillo Globe-News in calling for the corporate pigs to step away from the trough and write the damned things themselves.


ACTION ALERT: Basic Democracy

Calling all PTS'ers and their like minded compadres . . .

Call/Email/Write your senator TODAY and request that they join the other dozen Representatives when John Conyers takes his request to contest the vote count in Ohio at 1:00 pm tomorrow. He needs only one Senator to join him so that he may have the floor to plead his case.

Here's Michael Moore's open letter to get you fired up! You can use his letter, but your own words would serve just as well or perhaps even better!



Dear Members of the U.S. Senate,

Welcome back! The 109th session of Congress has just begun. I'm watching you on C-SPAN right now and you all look so snap-happy and clean-faced. It's like the first day of school all over again, isn't it?

I have a favor to ask of you. Something isn't right with the vote from Ohio. Seems a lot of people didn't get to vote. And those who did, thousands of theirs weren't counted.

Does that seem right to you? I'm just asking. Forget about partisan politics for a moment and ask yourself if there is a more basic right, in a democracy, than the right of the people to vote AND have ALL their votes counted.

Now, I know a lot of you wish this little problem of Ohio would just go away. And many of you who wish this are Democrats. You just want to move on (no pun intended!). I can't say I blame you. It's rough to lose two elections in a row when the first one you actually won and the second one you should have won. And it seems this time around, about 3 million more Americans preferred to continue the war in Iraq and give the rich more tax breaks than those who didn't. No sense living in denial about that.

But something isn't right in Ohio and more than a dozen members of the House of Representatives believe it is worth investigating.
So on Thursday at 1:00pm, Rep. John Conyers of Detroit will rise and object to the vote count in Ohio. According to the laws of this land, he will not be allowed to speak unless at least one of you -- one member of the United States Senate -- agrees to let him have the floor.

A very embarrassing moment during the last session of Congress occurred in the first week when none of you would allow the members of Congress who were black to have the floor to object to the Florida vote count. Remember that? You thought no one would ever notice, didn't you? You certainly lucked out that night when the networks decided not to show how you shut down every single member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

No such luck this year. Everyone now knows about that moment of shame. Thank you? You’re welcome.

But this Thursday, at 1:00pm, you will have a chance to redeem yourself.
Congressman Conyers and a dozen other members of Congress have some serious questions about how the Republican secretary of state in Ohio (who was also the state’s co-chair of Bush’s reelection campaign) conducted the election on November 2. The list of possible offenses of how voters were denied access to the polls and how over a hundred thousand of their votes have yet to be counted is more than worthy of your consideration. It may not change the outcome, but you have a supreme responsibility to make sure that EVERY vote is counted. Who amongst you would disagree with that?

If you would like to read more about the specific charges, I ask that you read these two links: "Senators Should Object to Ohio Vote" —by Jesse Jackson and "Ten Preliminary Reasons Why the Bush Vote Does Not Compute, and Why Congress Must Investigate Rather Than Certify the Electoral College". I am asking everyone on my mailing list to send you a letter joining me in this call to you to do your job and investigate what happened before you certify the vote.

It only takes one member of the House and one member of the Senate to stop the acceptance of the Electoral College vote and force a legitimate debate and investigation. Do you know why this provision is set in stone in our nation’s laws? I mean, why would we allow just two officials in a body of 535 members to throw a wrench into the works? The law exists because nothing is more sacred than the integrity of the ballot box and if there is ANY possibility of fraud or incompetence, then it MUST be addressed. Because if we don't have the vote, what are we left with?

C'mon Senators! Especially you Democrats. Here is your one shining moment of courage. Will you allow the gavel to come down on our black members of Congress once again? Or will you stand up for their right to object?

We will all be watching.

Michael Moore

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose

. . . haven’t blogged—or even paid much attention—lately; been taking a holiday break. Frankly, I needed to rejuvenate spiritually after 2004. It was One of Those Years, somethinglike 1968, the old-tymers say, full of desperate highs and revelatory depths. Only something tells me the next few years are going to be even more desperate and even more revelatory. Hence the need to rest briefly, while we still can.

Still, even while breaking, it wasn’t possible to escape entirely. In the blue refuge of Santa Fe, I saw a number of fading Kerry-Edwards bumper stickers, and it reminded me of the last time I was in that city, early in October. K-E stickers swarmed around the plaza then. That was so long ago. It was a different, more hopeful, age.

But it was also an age when I was still Biting My Tongue. You couldn’t express a dissident thought in October, couldn’t sign on to Daily Kos to comment that maybe Kerry was a little condescending after all without getting flamed by groupthinkers who demanded that you get in line lest you ruin our chances of stomping Bush.

And we all know what happened. We all got in line. We lined up, in fact, straighter than Republican ants on crystal meth laced with Ritalin. And we still got stomped.

This is just me talking, but I don’t think I’ll be lining up so straight ever again. I don’t think we progressives-liberals-Reform Democrats are meant to all agree, a fact Will Rogers intuited when he said the famous bit about not belonging to an organized political party. Hell, these days we can’t even agree on what we should call ourselves. And I like it that way.

I’m not even sure I’ll stay in the Democratic Party. Atrios recently had a good bit about core principles. Add me to the growing number who’ll bolt if the Dems abandon those principles. And even the increasingly reactionary Kos has made the point that losing should free us—not enable Republicans to tie us up even tighter with their ugly little red and blue regimental ties.

And here’s another reason why I’m so free / the AGN is through with me.

For the past few years, I’ve written a column every six weeks for the Amarillo Voices series. I started writing the column before I began blogging here, but I never saw the two endeavors as contradictory or unethical. For one thing, the Amarillo Globe-News didn’t pay me to write for them—unless you count a free newspaper thrown into the middle of the street in front of my house as payment. For another, I never hesitated to criticize the Globe-News itself in my column—even though a lot of my comments never made it into print.

But as of January 1, the AGN has decided to terminate Amarillo Voices. Those of us who wrote for the series were informed by John Kanelis, AGN opinion page editor, that

Our aim is to emphasize more local commentary. I intend to solicit more submissions from our community in the years ahead. With limited space, it’s in our best interest to open up more of it to those who want to comment on whatever stirs them, or on whatever we ask of them.

What Amarillo Voices was besides local commentators commenting on whatever stirred us is beyond me. The official Globe-News line makes no sense. But what else is new?

We Amarillo Voicers were invited to occasionally submit guest editorials. But I doubt that I will bother with these glorified letters to the editor. I prefer the regularity of a column in which I can develop a voice and consistent themes over time. And I do write a monthly column for a local entertainment rag in which I am free to do all that and even say “holy crap!” without the phrase being censored to read “holy crow!”

So, for my New Year's resolution, I’ll be focusing more on the Panhandle Truth Squad and my cultural/entertainment writing. Maybe I’ll hit a few more of those Final Friday poetry slams at the Tex-Mex restaurant. But it looks like you won’t be seeing my stuff in the pages of the Globe-News. I’ll miss it. It was real; it was fun . . .

But now I’m free to be really mean to the AGN . . .

, aka Barry J. Cochran

2004 in Review

Wanna read some choice quotes from 2004?

Some of my favs:
"The NEA is a terrorist organization" - Rod Paige Education Secretary

"You know, I don't know where George Soros gets his money. I don't know where — if it comes overseas or from drug groups or where it comes from," - Speaker of the House Dennis Hasert

"I trust God speaks through me. Without that, I couldn’t do my job." - George Bush

CLICK HERE to read the rest.

-Prodigal Son

Monday, January 03, 2005

Give Please

Some Links to folks helping our Brothers and Sisters with this horrible tsunami disaster.

American Red Cross International Response Fund
AmeriCares South Asia Earthquake Relief Fund
Direct Relief International International Assistance Fund
Médecins Sans Frontières International Tsunami Emergency Appeal
Oxfam Asian Earthquake & Tsunami Fund
Sarvodaya Relief Fund for Tsunami Tragedy
UNICEF South Asia Tsunami Relief Efforts


Veddy Interesting . . .

Ah yes, the GOP family values parade (charade) continues. The Democratic National Committee Web site has an appeal for donations to tsunami victims right up at the top of the DNC home page. The Republican National Committee Web site doesn't even mention the disaster, though it does have a lovely story about President Bush, inappropriately titled "Rising Tide."

This is not a slam against my fellow Christians, but this is interesting. . .

A review of the home pages of the religious right shows that America's "value voters" don't seem to have very good values. Most of the sites have taken the lead from their AWOL president and are far more concerned about gays and judges than about the human catastrophe in Asia.

The chief Web sites of the "religious left" have all donated the top of their sites to appeals for money to help the tsunami victims.A quick review of the home pages of the top sites of the religious right:

- American Family Association has one small news story up, not even something they themselves wrote, and no appeal for money. The only "action alert" is about the Ten Commandments. I guess AFA is only truly concerned about the American family: http://www.afa.net/

- The Family Research Council has nothing about the Tsunami. Their headline is about "activist judges." http://www.frc.org/

- Traditional Values Coalition has a very small link or two from WorldNetDaily about the Tsunami, but the link is BURIED on their page. No apparent appeal for money for the victims. But lots of news about the homosexual agenda, which apparently is a bigger calamity than 150,000 dead in Asia. http://www.traditionalvalues.org/

- Concerned Women for America, not a thing. Though they do have an essay about how the media has lost is sense of morality. Apparently the CWFA is only concerned about American women. http://www.cwfa.org/main.asp

- Pat Robertson's Web site. Nothing. www.patrobertson.com

- Jerry Falwell's Web site has nothing, even though he did post an updated letter from himself dated December 30, days after the Tsunami hit. http://www.falwell.com/?a=

- National Association of Evangelicals, nothing. http://www.nae.net/

- Focus on the Family to its credit does have a prominent link to give money. I wonder how long that's been up. http://www.family.org/

Just for yucks, I decided to check out the Web sites of the "religious left."

- The Interfaith Alliance, the coalition of progressive religious groups meant to serve as a counterforce to the religious right, has an appeal for money for tsunami victims at the top of their site. http://www.interfaithalliance.org

- Soulforce, the gay answer to the religious right, has a massive urgent appeal for Tsunami aid at the top of their page. http://www.soulforce.org/

- The Metropolitan Community Church, the largest gay church, has an urgent fundraising appeal at the top of their site. http://www.mccchurch.org/

- The United Church of Christ, which recently found itself in hot water over it's pro-gay pro-inclusion ad campaign, has an appeal for money to help the tsunami victims at the top of its site. http://www.ucc.org/index3.html

- The Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism (I'd call them the Jews' response to the religious right, though the RAC was around before the religious right) has a big appeal at the top of their site. http://rac.org/index.cfm?

Interesting . . . thats all we are saying . . .


UR Not Alone + David Van O's

Scared by all the fundie nuts who want to turn this nation into the spanish inquisition?

Well . . . we are not the only ones. There are also conservative Christian fundies just as scared as we are about Junior's attempt to turn America into a theocracy.

One such is Chuck Baldwin CLICK HERE

These are folks we can reach out to and find common ground to fight the Bush crime family. Email him at chuck@chuckbaldwinlive.com if you liked what you read.

David Van O's, great American, and Texas Supreme Court candidate CLICK HERE recently wrote PTS with a few of his thoughts about Nov 2nd.

The presidential election was a validation that if you give the voters a choice between a real Republican and a Democrat trying to sound like a Republican, most of them will choose the real thing. It was the height of foolishness for Kerry to build his campaign around national security and terrorism. That played to Bush's strength and gave Bush his choice of ground to fight on. There are so, so many examples of Bush's administration and indeed his entire career being built on lies and deceit, yet Kerry consciously gave Bush a free pass on 99% of it.

To the Democratic base, George W. Bush himself was the real issue - his fraudulence, his politics of disinformation and deceit, his arrogance, his swagger and bluster, his life as a spoiled rich boy, his love affair with theocracy, his suppression of dissent, his suppression of democracy, his suppression of checks and balances, his imperialism. Yet Kerry and his patrician political consultants insisted on campaigning on the basis of "we agree with Bush's foreign policies but we can do it in a more competent manner" and ignoring the real issues that had the Democratic base charged up.

Kerry had to get out more of the Democratic base than Bush did of the Republican base, but didn't because his message was consciously not constructed to do so. It is incredible that Kerry actually designed his campaign message to create a tight election. He didn't even try to get more people charged up about the things that had the Democratic base charged up, i.e., he didn't try to expand the Democratic base, while Bush designed his campaign to expand the Republican base by getting more people charged up about the things that charge up the Republican base.

Howard Dean inspired us all when he told us to never, ever again apologize for being Democrats. Further on Governor Dean's theme, the Democratic Party must never, ever again flinch from telling the truth about the sinister nature of the Bush family's agenda; and the Democratic Party must never, ever again build its campaigns around appeasement.

David Van Os david@vanoslaw.com

Yep . . . keep fightin' the good one David!

-Panhandle Truth Squad

Holy Hypocracy Batman!

Yes, fellow PTS'ers it's not the inncocent widdle republicans that are so mean these days, it's YOU!

In a laugh aloud editorial in this am's paper, a local named Steve Holland ("a local truck parts salesman and a self-proclaimed partisan Republican" according to the AGN) speaking on behalf of his Democratic dad who has been dead 43 YEARS, says, " he'd be shocked at the vicious and hateful rhetoric coming from the people who have taken positions of leadership within that [Democatic] party. " CLICK HERE

Steve wants us all to get along, no dissent (Dear 'ol Da would not like it REALLY?) and roll over while Bush erases whole sections of the Bill of Rights, and rips apart social security.

Oh . . . and just back the new Vietnam in Iraq already you darn Liberals!

It's PAST time we remind hypocrites like Mr. Holland that it was not democrats who came up with the Willie Horton ads, nor the Swift Boat Liars, or the incessant lie about Al Gore inventing the internet etc, etc, etc . . .

It was the morally bankrupt "I'm more Christian than you are" Republicans doing these things.

We have reached a point of hilarity here when a guy (maybe the same guy who was fined for writing hot checks in 2003 CLICK HERE) leans on a long dead father to make a point (See by attacking him you are being a big meanie to his Poppa)

My new rule is, if Mr. Holland and others back Bush so much in Iraq, let he and his kids/grandkids sign up today! Put your life where your BIG MOUTH is Steve! CLICK HERE

Join me in writing the paper today and telling these proto-proletariat Bush boot lickers that DISSENT IS PATRIOTIC! DISSENT IS AMERICAN!


-Prodigal Son