“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, February 28, 2005

pts meetup

Based on feedback from PTS members, we have determined that the meetup will finally come into existence at the following place and time:

Thursday, March 10
7:30 pm
Starbucks on Georgia

Thanks for all your comments and ideas. Continue to ruminate and we'll see you on the 10th!

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Was Bush "wired" in Europe?

Upon letting the dogs out in the wee hours of the morning a few nights ago, I stumbled upon this video clip from www.buzzflash.com. When I tried to find it the next morning, it was gone. I thought it must have been a dream.

Yesterday, I did a google search and alas, there it was. Please post your comments PTS, I'm curious to see how your feel about this one.

It seems like this administration just gets more bizarre, as time rattles on.

"He's an idiot, just like we had imagined!"

Friday, February 25, 2005

Panhandle Democrats Monthly Meeting

Hey, guys and girl (are there any girls in here?) don't forget the Potter/Randall Democrats Meeting this Monday night, 7:00 (come 6:30 for refreshments) at the downtown library upstairs. Be with the people from our area that have as much great sense as you do!

I went to my first meeting last month, and I was impressed. It was fun! Do come.

pts meetup

We're going to try again to have a Panhandle Truth Squad meetup. We are trying to determine the best day to meet. If you are interested in attending, please comment to let us know which day(s) or date(s) would be best for you during the next two weeks (prior to 12 March 2003). You may also e-mail us: panhandletruthsquad@blogspot.com. Some of the issues we would like to discuss are:

What would you like to see from the PTS blog?
How can we best serve our local Texas Panhandle progressive/liberal readership?
How can we improve our coverage and critique of the entire local media and how can we exert pressure on the media to be more fair to progressive/liberal points of view?
Should we divide PTS bloggers responsibilities into "beats" such as newspaper, television, City Council, national issues, local democratic politics, etc.?

Please add in comments any other questions or issues you would like to discuss with the group.

if the anti-smoking ordinance is passed, what will become of the smoke-filled room in which decisions get made in this city?

Nothing, probably. That room is by no means public.

But you get the feeling that George Raffkind is in there most of the time, along with the Seligers, and, increasingly often, Ana Estevez.

Yesterday, Jerry Hodge called a press conference to let the citizens of this city know that these Smoke-Filled-Roomies are running his campaign. Jerry Hodge's election as mayor is therefore a fait accompli. Everyone should move along, there's nothing to see here.

He also wanted to issue a proclamation that, when he becomes mayor, Maxor Pharmacy Services will phase out of its insurance contract with the city. Hodge is currently chairman of the board of Maxor, so the withdrawal is necessary to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. Hodge sez (emphasis added):

"We have been thinking about running for mayor for some time prior to the time when we made our announcement. One of the concerns that I had and that the board had was that Maxor has a contract with the city of Amarillo, and has had it for a number of years."
And Hodge sez:
"But Maxor has decided as a board that if elected mayor, we will phase out of this contract as soon as possible, and we will forgo the contract with the city of Amarillo in order to avoid any appearance of any conflict between myself, Maxor and the city of Amarillo."
Hm. The royal "we" or the pharmaceutical "we"? Who is running for mayor, again? Hodge or Maxor Pharmacy Services?

As a service to our citizens, Amarillo media need to ask Hodge the following questions:

John Ward, former City Manager and current CEO of Maxor, states that Maxor will assist the city in finding a suitable replacement and will audit the company as a free service to the city. Why? Do they intend to phase the contract back in at some future date? Is this audit a means of assessing the competition? If so, how is a conflict of interest avoided by temporarily phasing out of the contract?

How will a changeover to a different health and drug plan affect 4,000 city employees? How will the loss of the contract affect Maxor and its employees? Is the election of Jerry Hodge to the mayorship worth upending the health care of thousands of people? Is it worth making the livelihood of Maxor employees less secure?

Is this run for mayor the best decision for Maxor? If it is not, how can we be sure you will be a better steward for the city than you were as Maxor chairman? If it is a good decision for Maxor, why? Will your actions as mayor be based on the city's needs or on Maxor's?

Just asking.


Republicans, Uh, Oh. . . Wrong Guy

Via thinkprogress . . .

It appears you rethugs voted for the wrong guy. . .

During last year’s presidential campaign, the wingnuts offered any number of reasons to fear a Kerry presidency. John Kerry, the typical tax-and-spender, would negotiate with the terrorists, undermine efforts to ban gay marriage, bring salacious scandals back into the White House, increase government spending while cutting vital missile defense, and get buddy-buddy with his surrender-monkey European allies, like close associate Jacques Chirac.

Or, in other words, Kerry might have…

– Suggested raising taxes to pay for the costs of his massive $2 trillion pet reform project
– Entered into negotiations with the terrorists in Iraq
– Proclaimed that “nothing will happen in the Senate” on the anti-gay marriage bill
– Nominated a possible cabinet member who once engaged in adulterous romps in a motel room reserved for exhausted 9/11 workers
– Offered White House press privileges to a partisan activist with an alleged history in gay prostitution
– Released the largest budget in U.S. history while slashing missile defense spending by $5 billion over six years
– During a “warm” and “friendly” tour through Europe, declared that Jacques Chirac could make a “good cowboy”

PHEW! dodged that bullet . . .

-Prodigal Son

Thursday, February 24, 2005

champagne for breakfast

Congratulations to PTS friend Scott at Grits for Breakfast, who won a Koufax award for best single issue blog. Hm . . . . . . Tulia? We thought you covered a wee bit more than one issue-- but congratulations, anyway!


Wednesday, February 23, 2005

crazy / toys in the attic / he is crazy

Yesterday, I planned to give some right-wing nut named Bill Hammond a vigorous stomping. But I ran out of time.

Today, however, I realized that it won't take long to refute Hammond's ill-informed vision for improving schools, in which he recites some of the Wingnut Holy Words:

Currently, the salary scale for teachers is based on academic credentials and seniority. Compensation must be restructured to provide increased pay for teachers who achieve exemplary student performance. Again, what works in the private sector can work in Texas schools. Texas employers pay their employees based on performance, which gives them the ability to reward their best workers.

Here's the problem with wild-eyed hypercapitalists like Hammond: they assume that everyone, like them, is motivated primarily by money. Therefore, all problems can be solved by dangling money in well-chosen places.

But people are motivated by all sorts of factors in addition to greed: love, laziness, the creative imperative, the desire for immortality, the desperate need to catch a good buzz, and so on.

The assumption that you can lead teachers to excellence by tossing a trail of cash in their path rests on a very strange belief that most teachers get into the profession to make a quick buck.

Which leads me to believe that the words "president and CEO of the Austin-based Texas Association of Business" which are included in Hammond's bio must be the latest euphemism for "insane asylum".


Tuesday, February 22, 2005

hey, teacher, don't you fill me up with your rules

There’s a perfect storm a-brewing between the editorial page of the Amarillo Globe-News and the Panhandle Truth Squad. Because of TAKS and other reasons, AGN commentators got solvin’ edumacation on their collective mind. And in my classroom, at 11:45 a.m. on Tuesday, the TAKS is over with for the year, and I have a roomful of freshmen who have finished taking their test and are just sittin’ here with nothin’ to do. (Memo to wingnut teacher-critics: Oh! This is what babysitting a classroom of kids feels like . . . hmmm, nope that’s not what my job is usually like.)

So, here we are at the nexus of Opinion page full of education solutions and teacher with a rare couple of hours of free time. Let’s party.


This is it. The one day of my year that matters according to legislators. And I’m just sitting here impotently, reading the paper, walking around the room every few minutes. And blogging. Nothing, obviously, that has anything remotely to do with my job of preparing students for what’s still occasionally called-- by those pre-postmoderns among us-- the “real world”.

It’s TAKS day, and students across Texas are having their Knowledge and Skills Assessed. There’s so much to say about this system that reduces both students and teachers to a 30-page booklet and a set of numbers received around Spring Break. But for now I just want to comment on this “Texas Miracle” mythology. It’s largely been debunked now, but you still hear the phrase on the net, in the media, all over the place.

Well, everywhere but one place. I’ve never heard any educator that I know talk about any “Texas Miracle.” I asked the Significant Other, since she works in several different schools at several different levels. She had never heard anyone use it, either.

Why? Isn’t it obvious? The Weekly World News was always more credible to Texas teachers than any "Texas Miracle."

Yet a significant number of educators on this sunburnt steppe still support the Emperor. I’ve asked why, and they always say, “Well, Nickleby’s the only thing he’s done that I don’t support.”

And the all-too-obvious response to that? Maybe if you were directly influenced by more of the Emperor’s edicts, you wouldn’t support those either. The USA PATRIOT Act’s just fine, too, until your cousin gets thrown in Gitmo or your child gets investigated for some library books she checked out for her research project. The closer W gets, the more fear & loathing he causes.


Republicans Prefer George W to George W

This morning's AGN reprints a Washington Post story claiming that 2 out of 3 Republicans polled would vote for the Emperor W over the guy on the dollar bill. Well, Republicans do keep telling us that we just don't get the message they were trying to send in the election.

Apparently, this is their message: We're all crazy as bedbugs!


Sunday, February 20, 2005

If Jim is a "limousine liberal"....well dammit, I AM TWO!

What is a "limousine liberal"?

Dear Amarillo Globe-Republican,

There you go again. You contradicted yourself. In a February 7 editorial you praised the Amarillo City Commission for sending the proposed ban on smoking in public places back to the voters. You did it yesterday, too, going a step further and pooh-poohing those Yankee lawmakers in Maryland who plan to vote on a similar measure themselves. State legislators proposing legislation and then voting on it? Who do they think they are?

Curiously, though, yesterday's other editorial, right below the first, exalts the Borger City Council for voting on a curfew that keeps kids under 17 off the streets at night. Uh...shouldn't the Borger City Council have sent the issue to the voters so they could decide for themselves?

It would seem defending your political allies has more to do with your position than anything resembling logic.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

hey, Jim, share the wealth . . .

This just in: according to wingnut Eddie McMurray in a letter to the AGN, local Democrat Jim Perkins is a ""limousine liberal".

Hey, Jim: if you've got that much money, how about helping out PTS?


Thursday, February 17, 2005

What Liberal Academia? Social Insecurity

A two-fer today.
One of the latest (yawn) crusades of the right is that our universities are FILLED with professors who are liberal.

These professors supposedly push their liberal agenda on helpless conservative students who have no choice but to be indoctrinated.

Personally, I think the whining is because conservatives cannot tolerate differences in general, hence the constant complaining about nonexistent liberal media bias for example. My personal fav is thy cry that those liberals are just big meanies in Washington DC. (The R's control all three branches.) sigh.

I don't buy it at all. In fact in today's AGN, a guest editorial by AN ECONOMICS PROFESSOR AT WTAMU spews RNC talking points starting with the headline "Social Security: Shall we repair it or trade it in?" CLICK HERE Why do we have to do either?

How dishonest is this column from AN ECONOMICS PROFESSOR AT WTAMU? How about this gem "Some adjustments eventually will have to be made to keep SS financially viable for future generations. " Really? Where did he get this info?

Or this one " There would have to be some kind of insurance umbrella to cover people whose funds somehow perform poorly or go belly-up."

What the hell does Professor Lewer think Social Security is? It is an INSURANCE program we pay into so that if all goes belly-up, we have a minimum living standard for the elderly and disabled.
Without quoting sources, without providing back up info, we do not know where he gets his data. But curiously, he states stuff right out of the RNC playbook.

-A $10 trillion cost figure (calculated cost to infinity. no kidding, infinity)

-A "fully funded" retirement system, in which people accumulate their own savings to be invested and drawn down after retirement, appears to be immune to changes in demographics.
(But you are not protected from a market crash or depression.)
Good readers, do the math yourself, and find out how bad you would be screwed by Bush's supposed "plan". But remember he has not presented one a complete one yet. CLICK HERE

Name: Joshua J. Lewer
Title: Assistant Professor
Phone: 806-651-2508
Email: jlewer@mail.wtamu.edu

-Prodigal Son

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Recently Panhandle Truth Squad thanked Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, our closest U.S. Senator to vote against the torture lawyer.

Now the wingnuts are targeting him.

Apparently, they think that hispanic people will vote against him because the torture lawyer is nominally hispanic.

Why? Do the wingnuts think they're all related?

I was perfectly happy to rant against John Ashcroft, even though he was white like me. And I have no doubt that Latinos will understand the issues involved and support Bingaman's stance against the torture lawyer. He'll need our help, though, before the wingnuts spend a bazillion dollars to make him look like Virgil Van Camp.


Monday, February 14, 2005

well, it's official

All that effort and all that expense in Iraq had led to the installation of an Islamist theocracy. If Iraq was trying to get WMDs, they were going about it the wrong way round-- all they had to do was go to war with the US and install a government that would be able to get them from Iran.


Sunday, February 13, 2005

Welcome to Howard Dean

I've said previously that I believe that Gov. Dean understands what the party needs to do. If he can keep his mind on that, he will be a great help to the party. This has nothing to do with ideology, and I don't think that Dean will seek to be an ideological chairman, though the other side and the media can be counted upon to try to bait him, as in the Washington Post's reaction.

Sen. Kerry and other party leaders have warmly welcomed Dr. Dean, indicating the great unity of the party. Keeping that unity is one of the main functions of the party chair. The other two are fund raising and building infrastructure. Appearing on tv from time to time is also part of the job, but not the decisive part. Dean understands that he can't represent the party well by helping to inflame old disputes. That's why he refused to give CBS an interview this week when they wouldn't agree not to show 'the scream'.

We grassroots Dems have our own jobs to do, and Dean will be successful to the extent that he helps empower us. We need to be about the job of organizing our community. We need to also remind those in charge of their responsibility to provide us the tools and resources we need to do the job effectively.


Saturday, February 12, 2005

Howard...my kinda guy!

I, for one, am thrilled with the prospect of having Howard Dean as the DNC chair. Heck, he was my #1 choice for our democratic nominee to run for president. And to think, it all ended with the "I had a scream" speech..........ah well.

Dean is a "straight shooter" and does not mince words when he has the stage, bringing some sense and sensibility in opposition to the insane rumblings from the other side.

Good luck to Howard Dean, as he has one happy Texas chick that will support him untill the last scream has been scrumed (?)...........screamed..........you know what I mean.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

a pirate of very warlike appointment gave us chase

I've been thinking about Social Security. As Demophoenix has blogged, Michael Kinsley has logically proven that privatization cannot work. That should end the discussion, but doesn't. So we need to think about the motives of the pirateers. Over to you, Prodigal Son.

Prodigal Son has pointed out that when you tell pirateers that you'll support their plan if they guarantee the principal, they begin to spit and sputter and stammer and whine like jocks at the end of a Revenge of the Nerds movie. Which should lay bare their true motives. And should end the argument.

Only it doesn't. So I'll throw in my two cents, even though I'll probably need those pennies when I'm a old man begging in the streets in 2055 in the United States of Bush.

I once worked for an agency that was piratized by the Emperor W-- the Texas Workforce Commission. Here are just a few things that happened after piratization:

  • The first pirate company to take over our Workforce Center declared bankruptcy a few months after taking the contract.
  • The second pirate company to take over our Workforce Center walked away from the contract at their first opportunity.
  • The third pirate company to take over our Workforce Center fired a good friend of mine.
  • Okay, maybe you're a bean counter who thinks it's a good thing that my friend was fired. Here's the problem in bean-counter friendly language: he was a frontline supervisor, dealing directly with clients. The layers and layers of Supervisors of Red Tape are still there.
  • Bureaucracy actually increased, evidenced by more paperwork and more layers of supervisory personnel.
  • Confidentiality became a joke. Pirate companys, including both current and former contractors, now have access to the work records of all Texans. Have you seen the ACLU video?
  • Okay, they did adopt hip, new capitalistic lingo. Clients are now customers.

Yeah, yeah, I know this is just one isolated, anecdotal example. I'm sure the President's Social Security plan will work much better.

May I have my two cents back?



That's the number of warnings of threats of hijacking specifically mentioning Al Qaeda that were received and not acted upon in the period from April, 2001 to September 10, 2001.


Some described hijackings and suicide operations. The Bush administration has classified the full 9/11 Commission report and blocked its release to the public. What are they hiding?


52's in The New York Times today. 52 needs to be everywhere. 52 should be on every citizen's breath, in every woman's thoughts, in every man's heart, in every child's prayers.


52 is the number of weeks in a year, the number of cards in a deck. 52 is part of the designation of a legendary bomber that lent its name to a legendary New Wave band.

And it's just one of the many, many numbers that manifests the ugly reality: how many, many times the Bush administration could have averted Armaggedon.



Wednesday, February 09, 2005

no way out

Let's review. Educational social programs that offer lower-income and first-generation students a route through college to the middle class are being savagely crushed. Meanwhile, under No Child Left Behind, military recruiters have unfettered access to all students' contact information, and they're not afraid to use it:

Recruiters are up-front about their plans to use school lists to aggressively pursue students through mailings, phone calls, and personal visits -- even if parents object. "The only thing that will get us to stop contacting the family is if they call their congressman," says Major Johannes Paraan, head U.S. Army recruiter for Vermont and northeastern New York. "Or maybe if the kid died, we'll take them off our list."
So the new budget closes every door out of Flipburgers, Texas but one. And only the military recruiters hold the key to that door.

Next stop: the Draft?


syndicated comic printed by AGN blames 9/11 on African-Americans

Stay with me here. Today the Amarillo Globe-News and other right-wing rags printed the latest installment of the depraved Mallard Fillmore comic strip. In the strip, wingnut cartoonist Bruce Tinsley portrays Barack Obama sending the following "Mallentine" to Ted Kennedy:

I forgive you for calling me "Osama Bin Laden."
Though I wonder what you were thinking. . .
Was it racist? (Perhaps you "can't tell us apart"?)
Or just simply that you'd been drinking?
Now, as an English teacher, I have to comment on Mr. Tinsley's dreadful sense of rhythm. And I wouldn't have used a gag as tired as Ted Kennedy's drinking when I was a junior-high school newspaper cartoonist.

But it's the "Was it racist? (Perhaps you 'can't tell us apart'?)" line that truly disturbs. This bitter line is usually said of people who are of the same ethnic group. Tinsley is deliberately conflating African-Americans with Middle-Easterners in order to muddy the waters and blame 9/11 on the black man.

What, too much of a stretch? C'mon this is Mallard Fillmore, the 'toon that provided the visuals for the Wall Street Journal's "lucky duckies". And don't even get me started on Tinsley's stereotypical portrayal of the Irish. You know: Kennedy. Drunk.


Tuesday, February 08, 2005

What You Republicans Voted For: Onward Christian Soldiers Edition!

NEW: Budget Time Christian Soldiers!

-Screw you veterans! Drug copay doubled CLICK HERE
-Screw you folks wanting safe communities! Cops and Firefighters cut CLICK HERE
-Screw you commuters! Amtrak cut CLICK HERE
-Screw you Poor! Assistance for Heating Bills cut CLICK HERE
-Poor kids not entitled to college CLICK HERE and CLICK HERE
-Enron accounting brought to Washington CLICK HERE.
-Allwarallthetime costs NOT included CLICK HERE

-Where's Osama? 1240 Days since "dead or Alive" crap CLICK HERE
-Permanent dismantling of social security CLICK HERE
-A (I'm more Christian than you) President who issued an executive order to TORTURE people at gitmo CLICK HERE
-A mind blowing 7 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 (conservative activists 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
-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
-Still no WMD's

It was Bush's "Leave no Billionaire Behind" tax cuts that blew this giant hole in the budget in the first place. Let the local media know about it:

Write to THREE MEDIA OUTLETS at once! CLICK HERE (scroll down)

Amarillo Globe News: john.kanelis@amarillo.com

-Panhandle Truth Squad

Social Security Argument Over?


Most of us who have been paying attention have recognized the many deficiencies in the president's social security proposal, but only one person I know of has actually proved that the plan cannot work. The author of this proof is Michael Kinsley, editorial page editor of the Los Angeles Times. I've been pondering this rather simple piece of logic, and so far haven't been able to dent it, which makes me suspicious if for no other reason than I was predisposed to believe the conclusion. Also, of course, I didn't think of it first.

Please have a look at the link and see if it breaks down for you. Feel free to send it around.


Monday, February 07, 2005

Kick Wallyworld in the Shins

But think higher. The SEIU (Service Employees International Union) has launched a low-key web-based fact spreading campaign to counter the WalMart distortion campaign that is currently in progress. Click here to read the facts and pass them on.


TRiO Battle is Joined

Now that the budget has been released the Bush administrations efforts to eliminate the middle class by cutting educational programs have caught the attention of the big guns. DodgerDem over at the Daily Kos diaried about the attempt to eliminate College Talent Search and Upward Bound that we've been telling you about. If you haven't yet contacted your representatives about this issue, now would be a great time. The tumult and shouting is just beginning-- add your voices to the multitudes demanding that all students be given an opportunity to better themselves.

Previously on Panhandle Truth Squad:
Amarillo Globe-News Guest Column: Administrative ax poised over TRiO education programs

teach the children well

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


Dear John,

Are you actually praising Amarillo City Commissioners for not having the brass to vote on a ban on smoking in public places? You applaud their act as "a fine example of representative democracy" and then turn right around and admit that they avoided it because taking up the issue "could have been political suicide." Oh really? It seems it should be a no-brainer for such a highly conservative part of the country - vote "no", keep big government out of business and send those bleeding-heart, non-smoking do-gooders on their way, right? So what gives? Why is this issue too hot for them to handle?

Sending it back to the voters seems cowardly to me.


LOL. Indeed . . .

From PTS reader Dennis O:

"A Succinct Summary of the Election
The Democrats' mistake was in thinking that a disastrous war, national bankruptcy, erosion of liberties, corporate takeover of government, environmental destruction, squandering our
economic and moral leadership in the world, and systematic lying by the Administration would be of concern to the electorate.

The Republicans correctly saw that the chief concern of the electorate was to keep gay couples from having an abortion."


-Panhandle Truth Squad

Iraq is Now Officially Lost

One point of contention during the past presidential campaign was whether, in fact, Kerry could have done anything if elected to actually "succeed" in Iraq. Given the fact that he would only have been sworn in 2 weeks ago, and given the facts on the ground there today, that seems unlikely. That doesn't obscure the fact that the reality of the situation was entirely a creation of George W. Bush.

In his blog today, University of Michigan professor and Middle East expert Juan Cole presents his take on what would no doubt be the best case scenario over the next few years. The other scenarios are all probably worse in most senses. There is still the very real possibility that Iraq could either split into 3 independent states or dissolve into civil war, though both are probably temporarily prevented by the presence of a large American force. As we begin to draw down forces (which we almost certainly will for several reasons), though, that risk will increase unless the government's new army is truly willing to fight and die to protect it. The only way they are likely to do that is if they see the government truly representing their interests, which is uncertain given the number of competing interests in the country. All available evidence indicates that if our occupation doesn't begin to wind down, the insurgency will continue to grow and create even greater problems for the government.

Cole focuses on the best case scenario, in which the government does succeed in standing up an effective army. But this really depends upon the moral authority of the Shia'a clerics in Najaf, and Cole shows that while they are willing to use the words of secular democracy to cover their tracks, they really intend, like Brer Rabbit, to get their own way, i.e. a Consitution based upon Islamic Law, and wind up effectively in charge when we get tired and go home.

Under any of these scenarios, we've been fighting for little other than the opportunity for 'W' to avenge his daddy. Meanwhile, our administration will continue to insist that black is white, and that "democracy" has been achieved.


Saturday, February 05, 2005

Delay Case Builds

New information today indicates that Tom DeLay's business connections were indeed involved in 2002 political activity, in probable violation of Texas law. At the very least, Texas Association of Business (TAB) president Bill Hammond is in deep kim-chee over letters and phone banks supporting Republican candidates for the state legislature, and relationships that led to TAB acquiring the mailing list. Austin district attorney Ronnie Earle has a history of building his cases very carefully, so we should not expect immediate drama, but today's article is thoroughly documented, and the denials and explanations issued in response are paper thin, which suggests to me that this is headed in a positive direction.

We'll all be on the lookout for this obviously important Texas news story in the Sunday Globe-News, right? Anyone holding their breath?


Classic video clips from the Red Planet of the "blissfully ignorant"!

These clips reveal some truths about our counterparts that we (Democrats) most assuredly already knew. They are inspiring and surprising, and to see where those damned democrats will pop up unexpectedly at times, expounding hope in an otherwise bleak situation and location. Proving too, that Karl Rove was the master at making people look inward (not out at unemployment, uninsured, and the neverending "bloodbath" of a war) forcing the issue to these folks in determining if they approved of anything "gay", and/or if murder (abortion) was an act that they would approve of. Simply put, are you gay? and would you kill?

What a mind "bleep"!!!

These clips are good............check them out!
"Tales from the Dark Side"

he's so pretty, oh so pretty

The hagiographic picture on the front page of the Amarillo Globe-News-- his wife in soft focus gazing up adoringly, his own jaw set courageously-- packs such emotion that I almost feel bad writing a snarky post.

But this is Trent Sisemore we're talking about.

I'll leave for others to debate whether his legacy is a good one for the city. He and Der Komisars have tied our star to one single company-- Bell Helicopter-- and only time will tell if they stick with us this time or screw us over again.

I'd like to look at his accomplishments, detailed on the front page of the AGN. Let's see, went to work for his dad in 1974, sang in a country-western group, was a music minister for a church. It's the bio of a rich-kid dilettante. As mayor he mostly reacted-- to the Columbia disaster, to September 11.

September 11. It was shortly after September 11 that I had my one and only encounter with the mayor.

I had written a column questioning the city's "Buy at Home, Support America Now" campaign instituted in the wake of the terrorist attacks in which a "beggars' parade of Amarillo civic leaders" begged people to buy more stuff from them in order to show patriotism. I felt that these civic leaders, many of whom owned local businesses, were lining their own pockets and profiteering from war.

And I said

My worst instincts were justified in the Saturday edition of the Amarillo Globe-News, when I read that Chamber of Commerce Chairman Bob Wilkinson was flying to Washington to put the squeeze on his old high school buddy, FDIC Chairman Don Powell. Wilkinson made the offhand comment that he was sure that Powell would "help the economy in Amarillo."

So, it's all about Amarillo, is it? . . . We should be supporting America, not our insignificant piece of dirt.
Well, no one liked that. Least of all Hizzoner Sisemore, who summoned me to his office for an "explanation." He explained that he was "a trained economist". He talked some more about himself. The whole incident felt like receiving a summons to the principal's office-- and having the principal clumsily try to sell you Amway.

The huge color photo on the front page and the inset of Sisemore on Fox News after the Columbia disaster nicely sum up the mayor's career with the city.

He was photogenic enough for city government.


Gonzales Not a Latino Prize

A well-written critique of Alberto Gonzales can be found here. It's especially important because it is written by a Latina who has many things in common with Gonzales. It counters the myth that Latinos should be proud of Gonzales strictly for his heritage, which the Bush team uses cynically, just as they try to use Dr. Conyououtayourshorts Rice. What most don't realize is that the Bush administration's record of giving jobs to minorities, as a whole, is poor. High profile nominations like Rice and Gonzales really are tokens.

Press Pounds Propaganda (Again)

Those of us in the Panhandle tend to feel ourselves underserved (ok, abused) by the Amarillo Globe-Republican, and there certainly are more reliable, less biased papers out there. But the press as a whole exhibits several important biases, including a bias in favor of anything that sells advertising (i.e. "if it bleeds, it leads"), a bias in favor of their colleagues (the echo chamber) and a bias against hard work. A remarkable example of that last bias was on display last weekend during coverage of the Iraqi election.

Mostly fawning coverage, widespread among various outlets, ignored the fact that, until today, no vote counts were available, and few people even knew the names of most of the candidates. Almost all reports uncritically repeated the assertion of the somewhat self-interested Iraqi Election Commission that the turnout was about 70%, then 60%, and finally 57%, simply assuming that their sources were telling them the truth.

It is great that there was little violence on election day, though most reporters jumped to the unjustified conclusion that the insurgents had less capacity than previously.

We should all be pleased for and supportive of any people, anywhere, who are committed to building a representative government where none existed before. And certainly we should applaud the individual acts of heroism that were widely reported. But we must hold the press accountable for providing us honest information that overcomes these biases, even when that means having to admit that they just don't know. When they set such a poor example, we shouldn't be surprised when media in developing states also adopt low standards.


Friday, February 04, 2005

Dear Amarillo Globe-Republican,

You certainly have your fundie undies in a knot over some "Michael Newdow wanna-be." There must be some measure of legitimacy to Thomas Van Orden's claim that the 10 Commandments monument on the grounds of the Texas State Capitol violates the separation of church and state, otherwise you wouldn't bother commenting on it. It is correct to point out that the monument doesn't prevent Van Orden from avoiding the practice of any religion, but there's more to the issue than that. If it is ok to display the 10 Commandments in some fashion on government property, then it should also be acceptable to put up Buddhist koans, Hindu sutras, quotes from the Koran, etc. What if a group of Texas athiests desired a monument of some kind to their (dis)beliefs? "We are a Christian nation!", the fundies would howl. If those minority groups were denied, and they probably would be, then that indeed would be a government endorsement of not just the concept of religion, but of a particular religious faith. That is the real problem here and you tried to avoid it in your carefully worded argument: "After all, if Texas has been endorsing religion for more than four decades, there should be no shortage of victims of this state-sponsored religious oppression." Some acknowledgement of religion in general isn't the problem, it is the free pass given to Christians simply because they are the majority that make the rules.

Ironically, Globe-Republican Guest Bigot Virgil Van KKKamp's recent mocking of the San Francisco school board illustrates what would happen if we did indeed try to accomodate all belief systems. It would be difficult if not impossible. Is it an all or none situation? What would a strict interpretation of the Constitution have to say about it? You needn't worry, Globe-Republican. The Supremes will undoutedly find a way to rid themselves of Van Orden without actually tackling separation of church and state just as they did with Newdow.


teach the children well

I didn't watch the SOTU. Or listen: it would have been pointless. The dimestore cowboy's pretend Texas twang has degenerated so badly that I can no longer understand it. So I read through the transcript, and this is what I found:

I welcome the bipartisan enthusiasm for spending discipline. I will send you a budget that holds the growth of discretionary spending below inflation, makes tax relief permanent, and stays on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009. My budget substantially reduces or eliminates more than 150 government programs that are not getting results, or duplicate current efforts, or do not fulfill essential priorities. The principle here is clear: a taxpayer dollar must be spent wisely, or not at all.
You would be forgiven for jumping to all sorts of conclusions about government programs that aren't working. But this is what he's talking about.

On January 23, we issued a Panhandle Truth Squad action alert advising that the Dimestore Cowboy's administration was plotting to eliminate several education social programs that comprise the "road to the middle class" for many first generation and low-income college students. These programs do work; many successful people have been helped by them. Bush, as always, is relying on urban mythology and simply lying to advance his ultimate agenda of creating a two-class system in the United States. Please contact your representatives-- especially Kay Bailey Hutchison, who sits on the Appropriations Committee-- in support of TRiO programs.


We have Become Our Enemy

A bit of seriousness just before the superbowl weekend takes over (Here's hoping for another "wardrobe malfunction". Woo!)

Alright . . . this HAS to be said. It's NOT fun to think about. The AGN won't examine it. The terrorized MSM won't do the slightest bit of introspection. YOU be the judge.

Take a sec today and CLICK HERE (Requires Flash)

Also please take an hour and watch something from the Canadian Broadcast Corp. CLICK HERE It is from the show Fifth Estate - January 26, 2005

Dunno about you but I ask myself 1X a day . . . where are we living?

We gather around this campfire (We are getting 107 hits a day. THANK Y'ALL!) and do some small bit. But PTS NEEDS YOU! Your country NEEDS YOU. How will YOU help expose what is going on?

How can we turn this from a campfire into a stadium here in the Panhandle?

CLICK HERE to have your say.

-Panhandle Truth Squad


Dr. Lawrence Britt has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes. Britt found 14-defining characteristics common to each:

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism -
2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights -
3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause -
4. Supremacy of the Military -
5. Rampant Sexism -
6. Controlled Mass Media -
7. Obsession with National Security -
8. Religion and Government are Intertwined -
9. Corporate Power is Protected -
10. Labor Power is Suppressed -
11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts -
12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment -
13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption -
14. Fraudulent Elections -

'Nuff said.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Thanks Bush

www.thefreespeechzone.net Posted by Hello

postive reinforcement to jeff bingaman

Panhandle Truth Squad would like to formally thank New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman, our closest U.S. Senator to vote against the torture lawyer's confirmation this afternoon. His action of conscience may not have been a surprise; Bingaman wrote Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld about torture by our forces, expressing

deep concern over issues related to detainees being held in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo. Recent reports indicate that not only were detainees mishandled and interrogated in a manner inconsistent with the Geneva Conventions (against torture), but that subsequent internal reports of abuse appear to have been suppressed ... Please inform me of the actions you intend to take.
Makes us glad to spend so much money in your beautiful state, Senator Bingaman!


and another thing, dave . . .

The first part of your column makes no sense. I couldn’t quite piece your point together through the barrage of too-too-clever-clever “Family Feud” allusions.

Are you trying to claim that Amarillo citizens are complaining about the new skate park and renovation of McDonald Lake? And are you insinuating that people have no right to complain because the city surveyed 560 Amarillo households to ask them what they wanted from the Parks and Recreation Department? Do you then insult half the city by dismissing scornfully the assertion that the southwest side gets more attention from city government than the east side? Did you also scold the citizenry of Amarillo for not attending public City Commission meetings?

Because that’s what I got out of it.

Okay, first off, I get kind of tired of being regularly scolded by the Globe-News editors for not attending City Commission meetings. My excuse for not attending— I’m at work at 3:00 pm on Tuesdays— is, I suspect, shared by many.

As for that survey, is it good enough to just take a survey, which you then ignore? You state that the last survey showed that Amarilloans wanted

hike-and-bike trails, improvements to the city zoo and more baseball/softball fields.
Um, are any of those things lakes or skate parks? Granted, the city is building a hike-and-bike trail down Plains. Oh, wait, they’re building it with a Rails-to-Trails grant— not with city money. It’s hard to find Henry’s evidence that the city is listening.

Finally, Dave, I grew up on the east side and now live elsewhere largely because the city supports the west side first. You laugh this claim— accepted as gospel by large numbers of Amarilloans— off without really providing any evidence that it is not true. Since you throw out a bunch of dubious and confusing assertions without backing them up, I can only assume that you are covering the City Commission’s backs.

A newspaper should speak truth to power, Dave. You apologize for power.


Revising Asay

I commented below about the Chuck Asay cartoon reprinted this morning in the AGN. Goes something like this . . .

BUSH AND ELEPHANT TO IRAQI PARENTS PUSHING A PERAMBULATOR LABELED "IRAQI VOTE": What a beautiful child! It is my hope that she will grow up to honor her courageous parents!
KERRY AND DONKEY TO SAME PARENTS: Humph! I'm afraid it's not a democracy yet!

It occurs to me that a more accurate cartoon would have shown Bush and his buds Rummy and Condi in fraternity shirts walk up to the Iraqi parents (Yes, I know that Condi is technically a woman; I still think she works as a frat-boy):

BUSH: (to Iraqi man) Hey, dude, guess what? I'm that kid's father.
RUMMY AND CONDI: (high-fiving each other) Woo-hoo!
BUSH: (to Iraqi man who looks puzzled) Dude! I SLEPT with your WIFE! She was HOT. I im-perg-na-rated her!
RUMMY AND CONDI: (more high-fives) Mission ACCOMPLISHED, dude!

The cartoon would be titled "State of the Union Triumphalism"


honesty is such a lonely word

Dave Henry, wingnut emeritus at the Amarillo Globe-News, publishes yet – another – misleading – screed cut-and-paste from Republican talking points this morning. Surprisingly, Dave Henry doesn’t believe Howard Dean will be a very good chairman for the Democratic National Committee. Naturally, this should be filed along with all the other “well-meaning advice” given us so frequently these days by Republicans.

Rumor has it that Dave Henry spends a bit of time worrying about “liberal web sites” that expose and harass right-wing media. Well, guess what Dave? Unlike many of your paranoid fantasies, this one’s true! There are such sites! We’re one! BOOGAH-BOOGAH-BOOGAH!

Frankly, I don’t care anymore if Dave Henry is to the right of Newt Gingrich, or Atilla the Hun, or Alberto Gonzales, or whoever is the extreme standard of rightness these days. I don’t care if Dave Henry chooses to supplement his glorified-sportswriter’s income with some Armstrong Williams Media Grants. But, Dave, you go on an on about the long-discredited “scream.” You imply that Dean was a poor fundraiser because he was out of money when his campaign ended. I know right-wingers have decided not to be “reality-based” anymore, but, jeez!

Dave, could you please not actually lie in your columns? Can we have a minimum standard of truth here?


AM Post Chimperor SOTU Chat

Talk about . . . whadevuh . . . CLICK HERE

BTW, anyone read the AGN's fawning over Bush's speech?

Panhandle Truth Squad

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Afternoon Chat

Talk about what'cha want. CLICK HERE

-Panhandle Truth Squad

Who writes this crapola?

PHEW! ok . . . deep breathe . . . in . . . out . . .

This mornings AGN has ANOTHER unsigned editorial praising Glorious Leader's SOTU speech. CLICK HERE

But wait a sec . . . nobody outside the yes-men Bush butt-kissers have read or seen it. How does the paper know?

My fav part of this amateurish blather from the Amarillo Republican News:
"The world will hear of how freedom can empower people, can create greatness in a nation and can stop tyranny and destruction. Here's hoping the rest of the world gets the message."

Yeah world.

Don't force us to lie about your WMD's, 'cause then we will invade you, kill 100, 000 of your men women and kids, and make you show up to vote for your food and call it democracy man!

Let's all email the ARN and let them know how much we praise and love glorious leader before the "Freedom Watchers" kick in our doors and shut down this blog!


-Prodigal Son

EDITOR UPDATE: The paper also had this cut and paste CLICK HERE from the right wing think tank heritage foundation neocons. One question . . . will the paper have the courage to include lefty responses to the Deserter's SOTU?

Our letter:

Mr. Kanelis,
Panhandle Truth Squad noticed that you had an unsigned editorial in your paper this morning praising Bush's SOTU speech.

Has your paper received an advance copy of Bush's speech? If not, how can you write such a glowing report on it so quickly?

Also, does your paper respect the first amendment enough to include dissenting voices regarding the SOTU?

PTS would like to be considered for a LTE in tomorrow's paper regarding this. We promise to at least hear the speech before falling to our knees in worship of Dear Leader.

Heterosexually Christian and French hatingly yours,
Panhandle Truth Squad

try us, you may like us

It looks like Howard Dean is going to be the new chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

No one but no one got in line sooner or worked harder for Kerry than the orange-hats. Howard himself barely missed a beat after the anybody-but-Dean candidate sewed up the nomination; he rolled up his trademark sleeves and went back out on the campaign trail. Following his example, we changed the slogans on our Meetup signs and kept working.

This time the anybody-but-Dean campaign failed and Dean won. It's time to try it our way. Are those unhappy with Dean's victory ready to paste on the fake smiles and show the same commitment to the overall Democratic cause that we showed?


Tuesday, February 01, 2005

thanks, jesse!

Jesse Helms has a great idea! No, really. In a fund-raising letter for his senatorial library, he encloses a petition calling for his minions to

rebuke all efforts by Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and every other liberal in Congress to push for Bill Clinton to become Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Hm. I didn't know that there was a push for Bill Clinton to become U.N. President. I hadn't thought of it. Seemingly, no one has thought of it.

But Helms has started the meme, and I for one think it's a hella great idea. If only because it would so piss off people like Jesse Helms.


bobby and warren sittin' in a tree

Pink Dome-- Austin's Wonkette, according to Burnt Orange Report-- has decided that State Representative Robert Tatum (R-Pasadena) and the Panhandle's own Warren Chisum (R-Pampa) must have "reached that stage in their relationship that they finish each other's sentences."

but who will be our ted nugent?

So now we're ROTOR. CITY. YOO-ESS-AAA!!!! Who will be the first aging "skateboard punk rocker" to declare himself the "Rotor City Rad-man"?

Seriously the campaign looks quite lovely. If the Amarillo Economic Development Commission is capable of something like this, any chance they'll do something about that dreadful-dull website?


New Nicknames All Around! Posted by Hello

Ownership society?


More Texans turn to food stamps. 75% rise since 2000. CLICK HERE

-Panhandle Truth Squad

Christ's Message

Did you know that Spongebob Squarepants and Buster Bunny want to turn your kid gay? (I know, you don't "turn" gay. Hang on.)

Well, Bush's main Christian consultant, James Dobson and his group "focus on the family" (Does that have a mobster feel to it or is it me? Anyhoo . . .), is after Spongebob and Buster and so is Bush's new Education secretary Maggie Spellings if you can believe it! CLICK HERE

I gotta tell ya, it amazes me that these guys focus on this crap. Remember how nutball Jerry Falwell was after Tinky Winky the teletubby? Sheeesh! CLICK HERE

These folks are never outraged that kids go hungry in this country, that kids with chronic health probs have no insurance, that we have killed women, pregnant women(probably) and kids in Iraq, etc, etc, etc.

Nope . . . Spongebob is enemy number one. WWJD?

-Prodigal Son