“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, May 30, 2005

Memorial Day 2005

Thank you soldiers, and the families of same.
We never forget the sacrifice, the pain.
May your anguish and pride shine above the shallow patriot whose attempt to claim your righteousness only shows the timid darkness of their existence.

It's controversial, but here is Mark Twain's " The War Prayer. "

The story relates a patriotic church service held to usher the young men of a town off to war. The service continues with a "long prayer" for the victory of the country's military.

As the prayer closes, an "aged stranger" enters the church and walks up the aisle to the front of the church where the minister is standing. Motioning the startled minister aside, he begins to relates the "unmentioned results" that "follow victory -- must follow it, cannot help but follow it.

"I come from the Throne -- bearing a message from Almighty God!... He has heard the prayer of His servant, your shepherd, & will grant it if such shall be your desire after I His messenger shall have explained to you its import -- that is to say its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of -- except he pause & think.

"God's servant & yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused & taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two -- one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of Him who heareth all supplications, the spoken & the unspoken....

"You have heard your servant's prayer -- the uttered part of it. I am commissioned of God to put into words the other part of it -- that part which the pastor -- and also you in your hearts -- fervently prayed, silently. And ignorantly & unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: 'Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!' That is sufficient. The whole of the uttered prayer is completed into those pregnant words.

"Upon the listening spirit of God the Father fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle -- be Thou near them! With them -- in spirit -- we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe.

"O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended through wastes of their desolated land in rags & hunger & thirst, sport of the sun-flames of summer & the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave & denied it -- for our sakes, who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask of one who is the Spirit of love & who is the ever-faithful refuge & friend of all that are sore beset, & seek His aid with humble & contrite hearts. Grant our prayer, O Lord & Thine shall be the praise & honor & glory now & ever, Amen."

(After a pause.) "Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! -- the messenger of the Most High waits."

. . . . . . .

It was believed, afterward, that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

-Prodigal Son

Friday, May 27, 2005

Question War Film Series - this Sunday

Last week we screened four short documentaries from a collection called "Shocking and Awful" by Deep Dish TV Network. They are fascinating, angering, sometimes even funny perspectives on the Iraq Crusade that you won't find in the mainstream media.

This Sunday, we will show four more mini-documentaries from Shocking And Awful. Don't miss this opportunity to expand your awareness of the ramifications of the war.

Question War Film Series
Sunday, May 29, 2 pm
Downtown Library, 2nd floor

Refreshments, discussion, and inspiration.
Always free.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Public Notice Posted by Hello

heard it from a friend who / heard it from a friend who / heard it from another

"I don't play accurately, but I play with wonderful expression," said Algernon Moncrieff of his own piano playing in Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest. Loud and over-emotional: that's also a pretty good description of the Amarillo Globe-Republican Ghostly VoiceTM's version of "Goodbye, Earle".

The Ghost is absolutely horrified that Ronnie Earle, Travis County District Attorney and Tom DeLay chaser, made a political speech to a partisan Democratic group in which he called DeLay a "bully":

Earle clearly should have known better than to speak so openly and with such contempt about DeLay at a partisan event.

Then again, maybe all that political power Earle has acquired as district attorney in Travis County has gone to his head.

The Austin American-Statesman provided a slightly more realistic assessment of the remarks:

So was it a good idea for Earle to take shots — however minimal — at DeLay? No. Was the lapse made worse because they were delivered before a crowd of partisan Democrats? Yes.

But in context, the yelling and screaming about it is a mid-size tempest in a tiny teapot. Earle called DeLay a bully, which is not an original observation. Nor is being a bully a felony offense in Texas. (If it were, we'd see some real prison overcrowding).

The gotcha or is that ghost-ya? headline ("Aha! DeLay-ed or not, Earle finally reveals himself") reveals more about the AG-R than it does Earle. The Globe-Republican is just joining the Washington Times in carrying water for the Texas Republican leadership, who would love to force Earle to quit over these remarks. These Republican mouthpieces have been waiting for Earle to misstep. The basic article's probably been written for months, only waiting for the details to be filled in.

Earle shouldn't have given wingnuts ammunition, but calling someone a "bully" is hardly in the same league with the massive vote-selling, illegal and unethical junket-going, money-laundering, illegal contribution funneling, Homeland Security misusing, and golfing that his target has engaged in. Only a Moonie or a loony could pretend otherwise. We know which the Washington Times is.


Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Whose Ox Got Gored?

The news out of the U.S. Senate tonight is that there has been a deal regarding the judicial nominations and the "nuclear option", as detailed here. The question that will rage through Washington on Tuesday is who got the better of that deal, and the answer will of course depend upon who is talking. We can expect the regressive leadership to crow about the truly extreme judges they were able to force through to confirmation, while the Dems will emphasize the retention of the filibuster as a useful weapon. An early indication of the R party line will be the way the Globe-Republican editorializes.

The part of the agreement that probably won't be much discussed is the part that in the long run will determine who really won. According to wire reports, there is apparently commitment from some of the Republican signatories to be bolder in dealing with the White House, making it clear that Bush must have a more consultative arrangement prior to making nominations, and presumably that would mean that nominations, including potential Supreme Court nominations, would be at least slightly less extreme, and therefore less contentious. The implicit threat is that Bush could no longer count on rubber stamp votes on extremist nominees from these 7 Republicans. If that indeed proves true, then this arrangement should be considered a net win. It is worth noting that this kind of arrangement has been promoted by left leaning organizations recently. On the other hand, it seems likely that the only reason these Republicans have mostly avoided any public commitment about how they would vote on the nuclear option is to retain leverage for this kind of face-saving compromise.

If the Republicans who helped broker this deal ultimately are not willing to stand up to Karl Rove's intimidation, however, then this arrangement accomplishes nothing other than approving some of the most extreme of Bush's appellate nominees, who will serve for life. It does not help that NARAL announced today that it will support Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, one of the Republican moderates. Of course, from the standpoint of a single-issue advocacy group, it appears to make sense to support a senator who supports many of their issue positions instead of a Democrat who is less supportive. But in lending support to someone who has been no more than lukewarm about resisting Bush judicial nominations, they do more to undermine the overall advancement of their cause than any legislation possibly could.


Sunday, May 22, 2005

Amarillo Video Crashes British Defense Computers

You can't make this stuff up!

A spoof video of the song "(Is This The Way To) Amarillo", performed by British soldiers in Iraq, has crashed Ministry of Defence computers. CLICK HERE

Life is weird PTS'ers. Hey Amarillo made the international news! Sort of . . . LOL.

Let's see you report this one AG-R

-Prodigal Son

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Bush's disgust with Newsweek

It's amazing how the neocons charge out in force to criticize Newsweek and Dan Rather when they fail to do a solid job of researching a news report. I'm certain many of these chuckledittos believe Newsweek and Dan Rather bear some responsibility for the war.

Funny how they manage to turn a completely blind eye to Bush's failure to research the existance, or as we know now, nonessitance of WMDS. They also have allowed the eye to wink at the hand in regard to Bush's implication (and Cheney's outright statement) that Saddam Hussein had a hand in 9/11

Equivocation in action glares at us today like the bloodshot eyes of Mike Tyson in those years when his fists hammered opponents into groveling submission. I wonder when the Evander Holyfield bout will arrive and in what moment of ear chewing epiphany the true reptilian nature of the Bushists will arrive for their own constituents. I greatly fear, at this point, that time may not arrive. So many (Re)Publicans have set their table within our nation's temple and so much money has been changed that a troop of Evander Holy warriors couldn't drive these men away.

We may have flipped over that top rope as a country, into that world of the fixed fight. Can Democrats raise enough cash to provide a payoff for the fight fixers? Probably not. Maybe England will come through with another Lennox Lewis.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Titus Andemocrat

A couple of comments regarding the filibuster have been made by local Democratics. Our own blogarillo, in a comments thread yesterday on PTS, said:

What goes around comes around. If the filibuster is done away with you can bet Democrats will use it to their advantage when they retake the senate in '06.
Local Democratic activist Mark Lazar asked Republicans to consider a similar scenario in a letter to the editor published this morning in the Amarillo Globe-Republican:
Frist's proposed power grab would make the Senate a mere rubber stamp for the president's decisions. Consider what will happen when the other party controls the Senate and the White House.
Revenge fantasies are always fun. The idea of revenge has led a vibrant literary tradition, extending from Shakespeare's first play Titus Andronicus to Rambo and beyond. And we certainly have many of the elements of the Elizabethan revenge tragedy at work here:
Motifs used in the revenge tragedy also apply to the battle over the filibuster:
So that's our script. Much has been made of the fact that many prominent Democrats opposed the filibuster in the mid-90s. Well, of course they did. Obviously a Senator's attitude about the filibuster depends on who is in charge, just like my attitude toward the Boardwalk and Park Place properties on a Monopoly gameboard depends on whether I own them or someone else does. That's why it's so scary that these Republicans are seriously trying to end the filibuster.

They don't expect us to be able to exact revenge. Republicans would never change the rules if they expected Democrats to ever regain power.


Thursday, May 19, 2005

George Galloway's knock-out punch!

Watch George Galloway get fed-up with accusations leveled his way, only to turn it around toward the Senate subcommittee in its attempt to take him to task. There's no spin here, just the facts as he knows them to be. I have to believe that more brave folks like he, will come to the forefront and the truth will start to bubble up, rising to the surface as time marches on.....like an "oopsy" in the bathtub after a big broccoli dinner.

"This is good!"

catching up with panhandle truth squad: june 2004

(second in an ongoing series) To celebrate our first anniversary and to welcome our new readers, we are compiling some of our "Greatest Posts" by month. Fire Walk with Us through June, 2004: a month when Enron finally got that deadbeat Grandma Millie to pay up, Michael Moore turned up the heat on the Emperor W, and the number of crocodile tears wept over Ronald Reagan finally equaled the dollars of deficit created by the man. We experienced our own trickle-down effect when a mention on Air America Radio led to our first major spike in hits.

Where Are the Moderate Voices?, 1 June 2004, The Liberalator, In Which Diogenes Liberalator Searches in Vain For an Honest Republican
Enron, Lies, and Audiotape, 3 June 2004, DustBowl Dem, In Which Traders Rip Off Grandma Millie
They don’t even try to hide it, 4 June 2004, DustBowl Dem, In Which a Now Vanished PTSer Holds Forth. Whatever Happened to DustBowl Dem, Anyway? Where Have You Gone DustBowl Dem, A Nation Turns Its Lonely Eyes To You. Where Have All the DustBowl Dems Gone? Long Time Passing. Et Cetera.
Dutch is Gone, 5 June 2004, Spacedark, In Which We Show Class and Restraint By Not Actually Dancing On the Man’s Grave. For a Day or So.
Ombudsman: Shooting Fish in a Barrel, 7 June 2004, Spacedark, In Which We Call On the Globe-Republican to Consider Actually Doing Its Job
ENOUGH ALL READY!, The Liberalator, and St. Reagan, Prodigal Son, 9 June 2004, In Which We Begin Dancing
Whatever You Want It To Be, and AGN Headlie of the Day, 12 June 2004, and 22 June 2004, Spacedark, In Which We Dissect the Globe-Republican's Misleading Headlines and Bad Puns
Take That Faith-Based Initiative, 14 June 2004, The Liberalator, In Which We Call on Compassionate Conservatives to Put Their Money Where Their Mouth Is
St. Reagan’s Comet, 15 June, 2004, Prodigal Son, In Which We Really Start Dancing 'Cause Your Friends Don't Dance And If They Don't Dance, Well, They're No Friends Of Mine
PTS On Air America Radio, 23 June 2004, Prodigal Son, In Which We Are Mentioned on the Randi Rhodes Show
Why Let Facts Get in the Way?, 26 June 2004, The Liberalator, In Which We Clarify When the American Economy Collapsed
Moore Goes Easy on Dubya, 26 June 2004, Spacedark, In Which We Discuss Michael Moore’s Misty-Eyed Hagiography of George Bush Titled Fahrenheit 9-11
Premature Iraqulation, 30 June 2004, Prodigal Son, In Which Prodigal Writes the Best Headline Ever

BTW: Post any comments about these stale, old bits of wisdom here. Your expertise will be lost forever if you post under the original posts.

Star Wars, Nothin' But . . . Star Waaarrrs

Ahhh. I can look forward to the weekend. You are damn right I am going to see Episode III, Revenge of the Lucas. It is great to see how many folks really love these movies despite the Jar Jar horsesheet.

If you are in your mid to late thirties, this is a watershed. A tribute to when you were about to turn ten and were an Atari addict. And that $5 bucks to mow a neighbors lawn? Serious frikkin' moolah.

We rode our bikes to school, and band practice. And everywhere else we could think of. No helmets you sissies! We were boy scouts burning and hiking our a**es off at Camp Don Harrington as we learned about semaphore, smoking grapevine ("gettin' nothin' here man, what's this supposed to do?"), dealing with thug older boy patrol leaders, and of course mumbly peg, and how close you could get a hiking boot to the campfire without it melting the bottom.

My gang I ran with were still dreamers, and were dungeon&dragon and gamma-world masters of all we surveyed. I had discovered that my Dad had been a member in a sci-fi book club during it's fantastic golden days (50's and 60's). I read his stash of Asimov, Henlein, Clarke, and Simak, over and over and over and over . . .

It was the start of summer in Amarillo. May 1977. You know 'em. Kids getting out of school, families planning on driving major miles to somewhere on vacation. Cookouts, hiking (always with the hiking!) and camping in Palo Duro. It looked like every other summer was about to happen.

My older brother and his wife had come into town from downstate, and were going on about some new movie they had seen. It had alien creatures, spaceships, robots, a bad guy in a black costume, laser guns, and sword fighting with laser swords or somethin'. My ears perked up from the Roger Zelazny book I was absorbed in. I peppered them with questions.

A plan was made. The movie was playing at the Tascosa drive-in theater. This was cool because you could take a car full of snacks. You gen. Y'ers missed this.

My Dad had gotten rid of the gas guzzling Ford station wagon the year before and had gone down to the Honda dealership to get a yellow CVCC (Known now as the Civic) after going to the Shell station for a fill-up on Nelson street and being told to come back Thursday. This was a SERIOUSLY smaller vehicle for me and my sister and the folks, so we took two cars. The Honda and my brothers dark orange AMC pacer.

I was a-twitching. I loved all the movies my sister and I had seen at the Tascosa and the ones from the balcony of the Paramount theater on Washington Street Saturdays. There were Sinbad movies, '20, 000 leagues under the sea', etc. but they all seemed a bit cheesy. Entertaining, but trying too hard. Claymation ya know? So what would Star Wars (Promising title) be like?

We paid our $1.50/person, drove up to the speaker post, got out the speaker and hooked it on the window, passed around the popcorn, cracked the icey cans of Dr. Pepper open after peeling them from the foil mom wrapped 'em in to keep them cold, and nibbled on home-made m&m cookies. It started to get dark, the great west texas night sky twinkled overhead, and the John Williams soundtrack suddenly blasted out of the one tinny speaker. The opening crawl rolled. (You know it, "It was a period of civil war . . .") Then . . .

How to describe watching that opening scene for the first time? A ship flew past, apparently being shot at by . . . a MASSIVE gray ship that seemed to barely skim over our heads. It went on forever. Lasers were blasting all around. Classical Wagnerian-like music washed over us. Troops in white armor blasted away at crewman on the ship. Robots, lightsabers, fighter ships, alien worlds, alien bars, the force, good guys and baaaad guys.

The summer blockbuster had been born. The galaxy far far away was as near as the closest theater.

Most folks don't realize that the Christmas that year had no star wars toys! Bless our parents for their patience as we jumped up and down like idiots demanding StarWars stuff from Santa. No one could have realized the success Star Wars would be, so it was not until '78' that every spare dime I had was consumed by Star Wars action figures ($1.13 with tax) starting with C3PO, cokes, Zero candy bars, and maybe another action figure (Luke in stormtrooper uniform with realistic blaster ready for your kid sister to swallow.)

It was a great time to be a kid in 1978. And for the next few years. You could get together with buddies down your street who had the landspeeder and Death Star action set. What the galaxy contained was unlimited. Imagination soared. Heroes could exist. I bought another action figure from the change I found behind Dad's lazy-boy. There were more Star Wars movies. A Star Wars x-wing video game showed up at the 7-eleven on 27th and Nelson street to suck up lunch money.

Time passed. Toys that mean so much get thrown over backyard fences, or launched strapped to a bottle rocket. 28 years later I find myself thinking about those summers as I grew into a teen, then a high school student. How I smiled at age 26 when I ran across C3PO in a box of junk, and thought about the worlds we explored. Next to him, an R2D2 figure whose rotating head was rusted and would not turn and click anymore. Still a treasure.

I dunno about you, but I feel that first Star Wars movie came at the best time for America. We could dream again after Nixon and the oil embargo, and killer inflation.

I wonder if other generations feel as I do. . . that I was lucky, no priviledged, to have such memories containing family and friends and had endless new worlds to discover. That I grew up without the terror and fear shouted now at us NON STOP on tv, newspapers, the internets, and airports that is America 21st century.

Lord, I pray for that same childhood for my new daughter.

-Prodigal Son

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

filibuster tussle

filibuster tussle
Republicans, like a group of midget babies, puff at their cigars while wailing at the top of their lungs about a few social revolutionist judges. Why can't these men find other more mainstream judges to fill these positions? Why can't they simply insert other less offensive judges? The reason is simple. Fascists will damn well get their way or cheat to get it.

I'm infuriated that these crazed neocons plan to shove these judges down our throats, without compromise, without bipartisan debate, without regard for the wishes of so many Americans. If they are willing to break rules today regarding filibusters then they will break the rules again and again.

Cons tried with great gusto to change the rules for the radical tyrant Delay. Now it appears he will walk away unscathed. What rules will these men twist to their design next?

If Democrats begin to fill Senate ledgers with bills regarding a balanced budget, environmental protectionism, universal healthcare, or any of the other concerns we, as conservative Democrats have, will foaming radical cons then change the rules to limit or even deny the rights of the minority party to place bills on the docket?

After all, padding the docket was a familiar Republican ploy in years past. In fact, they often placed so many corporate welfare and military bloat bills on the list that no work or appointments could be made. I fear the rules of senate scheduling could be targeted by the fascistic cons next.Where does this attitude of changing the rules to fit the purpose end? God only knows.

Let's hope we don't find ourselves in some dreadful position where the bootheels of radical right wretchedness have, through legal legislation, muffled any possibility of dissent.

if a tree falls in the forest . . . : a parable

Once upon a time, Smokey the Bear decided he didn’t like part of the Forest so he burned that part down. A number of the woodland creatures were left homeless, injured, or simply dead. Others were outraged. Smokey tossed a few seeds on the ground in hopes that the Forest might someday grow back more to his liking, but that hadn’t happened yet, and most of the woodland creatures were getting impatient.

In the midst of the chaos, a tree fell in the forest.

Several animals saw the tree fall. One was named Little Bird. Some of the Forest media reported the fallen tree. Eventually, a Newsforest magazine reporter named Eager Beaver spoke to Little Bird, who told him that the tree had fallen. Eager Beaver asked Smokey the Bear to corroborate the story about the tree falling; Smokey traveled to the site and looked at the stump and wouldn’t deny that the tree had fallen. So Eager Beaver published the story in Newsforest magazine.

A group of woodland creatures conducted one of their weekly Rage Against the Green demonstrations in the burnt-out sector of the Forest. They used the fallen tree as a symbol of everything that was wrong with Smokey’s Forest policy. This week’s demonstration escalated into a riot and several animals were killed.

Several things then happened in no particular order: Smokey the Bear threw a big bear fit, a large number of Magpies began blaming Newsforest for the deaths, and Newsforest retracted the story about the fallen tree.

Months later, Jack Rabbit and John Deer sat on the stump of the fallen tree. The Forest was still largely burned and precious few of Smokey the Bear’s seeds had sprouted. Large numbers of woodland creatures were still homeless, injured, or dying. “Remember when this tree fell?” asked Jack.

John rolled his eyes. “That tree didn’t fall,” he said. “That story was discredited.”


heard it through the grapevine

One thumb up and one thumb down to Kelly James, who reads the morning news on KXGL 100.9, “The Eagle”. James reported during the 7:00 hour that the mainstream media was under attack from “both the left and the right.” When he reported on the “from the right” tip, he correctly differentiated between Newsweek’s retraction of the story of the flushed Koran and the jumped-to conclusion that the incident itself didn’t happen. Newsweek, in effect, no longer stood by the reporting, James made clear, but the facts were not retracted.

Unfortunately, James became the latest balance victim when he reported in the same breath that “the left” was also attacking the media for not reporting on the British memo that verifies that the Emperor W did in fact manage the intelligence to get his war on. By conflating these two “media attacks,” James makes them appear to be the work of extremists who are just two sides of the same coin. These issues are separate and should be judged on their own merits.

As for this morning’s editorial by the Ghostly VoiceTM of the Amarillo Globe-Republican, I initially thought the Ghost had come to its spectral senses this morning when I read “Here's a news flash: 'Newsweek' killed no one.” I thought the Ghost was reporting that the Koran-flushing allegations had been reported before and were likely true even if the specific source was bad, or that Newsweek might have been set up, or even that it was the Emperor’s failed policy—and not the reporting of same—that was killing multitudes in the Middle East.

But—alas!—this was not the case. The Ghost still sells the Big Lie:

The magazine's May 9 edition carried a small piece alleging that American service personnel tore up a Koran and flushed it down a commode to get Islamic detainees to talk.

Well, it turns out that the story appears to have been false.

But even though Newsweek practiced “shoddy journalism” (according to the Ghost) and got the story wrong (also according to the Ghost), they weren’t guilty of the violence that erupted.

Who was? Why, the heathens that live in those countries of course!:

The perpetrators of the misery in Afghanistan and Pakistan are the crazed crowds who stormed into the streets. Their reaction was even more unconscionable than Newsweek's failure to check its sources sufficiently.
The Ghost implies that the “peasants of Afghanistan and Pakistan” can’t even read, so Newsweek owes its apology solely to good American “readers of his magazine.”

Oh, Ghost.


Question War - If you don't, who will?

I hope I was one of the “political activists ranting against the war in Iraq” mentioned by the AGN in their surprising story about local bloggers. A good rant is a thing of beauty – check out any of Mark Morford's columns in the San Francisco Chronicle for the pinnacle of the genre. I don't claim that for mine – I was simply letting my anger express itself coolly, while at the same time pointing readers to where they could incite their own anger a bit.

And speaking of good rants against Bush's war, did you read Brit MP George Galloway's opening statement in his testimony before the Senate committee (four senators showed up; only two, Coleman and Levin, stayed to the end) that accused him of profiting from Saddam’s oil-for-food scams? Talk about truth to power. He smoked them with indictments like this:

“I told the world that Iraq, contrary to your claims did not have weapons of mass destruction. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to al-Qaeda. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to the atrocity on 9/11 2001. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that the Iraqi people would resist a British and American invasion of their country and that the fall of Baghdad would not be the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning.

"Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong and 100,000 people paid with their lives; 1600 of them American soldiers sent to their deaths on a pack of lies; 15,000 of them wounded, many of them disabled forever on a pack of lies.

How I would love to hear someone from our compliant, complicit Congress speak like that.

The lies that hoodwinked us into this war are popping up like corpses in the Tigris. Again, from the British, whose civil servants aren't afraid to blow the whistle and who have newspapers that don't back down, there's the Downing Street Memo. This should send Bush and every imperial neocon chickhawk criminal who plotted and executed this war to jail. Problem: it took major US papers two weeks to 'find' the story and then bury it deep in their news sections, instead of leading with a headline like 'Bush Planned War Early, Schemed To “Fix” Intelligence And Facts'.

Inhale deeply the smoke from this gun and talk it up all you can. Imbibe Mark Danner's “Secret Way To War” that lays out the sordid plot. Absorb William River Pitt's “Criminals Belong In Prison”, who provides the evidence for the only resolution that will redeem our country - “get George W. Bush out of the White House and into a cellblock in The Hague”.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Farm Life

We don't usually go in for titillation here at PTS, but rank hypocrisy by those promoting themselves as pillars of the community, moral exemplars and defenders of all that is sacred is certainly worth a bash.

Seems we in the Texas Panhandle don't know Jack about the proper use of farm animals, according to Neal Horsley, the prominent right-wing pundit and self-described pro-life militant, who was interviewed by the usually tame FOX News contributor, Alan Colmes. Horsley has made it his business to identify the names of abortion providers on his web site, and does not seem concerned that one of these doctors has been killed. But this particular interview really veered into the buckbrush when Colmes asked Horsely about published reports that he had dated farm animals as a young man. Horsley not only confirmed the story (click here for the tape), but suggested that every normal Georgia farm boy had a mule for a girlfriend. The mule could not be reached for comment.

Flip the channel to Dr. W. David Hager, obstetrician-gynocologist, noted shill for James Dobson's Focus on the Family, and Bush appointee to the Advisory Committee for Reproductive Health Drugs in the Food and Drug Administration. Dr. Hager cuts quite the figure speaking to church audiences about the culture of life, but at home he had a tremendously dysfunctional, controlling marriage in which he frequently forced his wife into sodomy, as she has recently detailed in The Nation. In his official capacity, Hager apparently worked behind the scenes to get the FDA to overrule the 23-4 recommendation of the panel he sits on, in favor of marketing of the 'Plan B' emergency contraceptive.

Raw Story also reports that current Assistant Secretary of State and Bush nominee for U.N. ambassador, John Bolton may have freqented so-called swinger sex clubs in the 1970's and early '80s, during a time he was married to a woman who left him suddenly in 1982.

Newshounds have an interesting take on all this, which they relate to apparent deviant sexual behavior by other noted right-wingers. And they don't even get to Gannon-Guckert and the many questions about whom in the White House he was visiting on occasions when he had signed in but no news conference took place. Or the well-reported rocky multiple marriages of right-wing icons like Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh. This would all be just rampant hypocrisy (nothing new for this crowd), except for the nagging suspicion that there may be more than a casual relationship between abnormal sexual conduct and intolerant social ideology. Someone I respect once told me it was all about control. Hmmm.


Top 10 Ways to Tell You are a Republican

10. People don't take your work as a drug-busting DA as seriously since you got busted for shooting speed.
9. "Loaning" your wife to another guy sounds like a good idea.
8. You've been laundering money to support your hillbilly heroin habit.
7. The wife won't stop complaining about how you repeatedly sodomize her against her will.
6. You cheated on your both wife and your other mistress.
5. You kicked people out of your church for voting Democrat.
4. The company you used to run has been making windfall profits ever since you became Vice President.
3. You're the best known gay whore in the country.
2. Lord only knows how many laws you've broken.
1. Your wife makes jokes in public about you masturbating a horse.

catching up with panhandle truth squad, may 2004

This post is the first in a Panhandle Truth Squad ongoing series. To celebrate our first anniversary and to welcome our influx of new readers over the past two days, we are compiling some of our "Greatest Posts" by month. Join us now in our journey back to May, 2004: a month when the Emperor W finally told the truth, gay people were allowed to marry in Massacusetts, and Republicans thought torture was a pretty darn good idea. We agreed with the Republicans in certain isolated cases and immediately began torturing Dave Henry.

First Post, 15 May 2004, Prodigal Son
Are You Better Off?, 15 May 2004, The Liberalator
Dear Zell Miller, 17 May 2004, Prodigal Son
24 Hours later in Massachusetts, 18 May 2004, Prodigal Son (In Which We Survey the Landscape After Gay Marriage)
The Devil and Dave Henry, 19 May 2004, Spacedark (In Which We Abuse Dave Henry For the First Time)
Latest Repub Spin: "Those A-rabs didn't say nothin 'bout our losses..., 20 May 2004, Prodigal Son
Urban Legends in Rural West Texas, 20 May, 2004, Spacedark (In Which A Panhandle Newspaper is Caught Publishing Hoax E-Mails As Fact)
The Ties That Divide, 22 May, 2004, Spacedark
War = $$ for the Bush Family, 24 May 2004, Prodigal Son (In Which We Crunch the Numbers)
War is Peace, 26 May, 2004, Prodigal Son
Bush Caught Not Misleading, 28 May, 2004, Spacedark (In Which the Emperor Exposes His Second Term Plans)

BTW: If you have any comments about any of these stale, year-old bits of wisdom, it might be better to post them here. So that someone else sees your comments, y'unnerstand.

water, water everywhere

Alfred Stanley, Treasurer of the Texas League of Conservation Voters sends along the following to PTS readers:

Your former mayor, Kel Seliger, is a key vote on HB 2833, which his committee is considering today (5/16/05). HB 2833 passed the House last week. It makes it so that just about any kind of land use regulation could cause a city to have to compensate a landowner for the consequent loss of property value. The Texas Municipal League is opposed to this bill because of the unpredictable budgetary consequences to Texas cities. Because your Senator is a former mayor, he should appreciate the kind of unanticipated problems this bill will create.

Kel was a class ahead of me at Dartmouth College, and though I did not know him at the time, I don't believe anyone can spend four years in Hanover and not leave with some appreciation of the importance of conservation. I understand he did some good things with regard to water in Amarillo while mayor. While I know from your website that you are ardent Democrats (as am I) what we need here in Austin right now is help from constituents willing to call Kel's office. Simple message: HB 2833 goes too far; please oppose. Thanks!

Respectful contacts to his office from folks in Amarillo would help:
(512) 463-0131

Monday, May 16, 2005

all you need is love & money

Been a heady coupla days, but I promised some good cop for Chris Bell and I wanna deliver on that promise. Bell, as Demophoenix and others have noted, delivers a signature line in which he says that "budgets are a moral document." If the saying about putting one's money where one's mouth is holds true, than this simple statement by Bell backs up the religious affiliatin', church-volunteerin' resume-builders he offers on his web site.

This is a complicated issue. It's as easy and tempting for Republicans to claim that they are God's party, as it is for Democrats to accuse them of hypocrisy. Viewed through this lens, the religion issue is an either/or fallacy on both sides. Either you're with us . . . or you're a hypocrite. Even Sojourners, to which I subscribe in many senses of that word, seems disingenuous when they say "God is not a Republican . . . or a Democrat." We all know what that formulation means: that God is more not a Republican.

It's an either/or fallacy partially because of the multitude of other options both parties are largely ignoring: Buddhists, Moslems, Unitarians, Atheists, Agnostics, worshippers of the Great Green Arkleseizure and the Masses of the Confused.

But we all come from where we are, and the Religious Operating System I use to access the Almighty is Methodist Christianity. Methodists like to study and we like to hash things out, and we usually agree to disagree amongst ourselves. But one thing Christ made pretty clear was that money can become a big problem in a well-lived life, can become a false god that gets in the way of the Truly Important- if you have all of it, if you have none of it.

More specifically, the Love of Money, the Root of all Evil.

The little green pieces of paper are for sure a necessary evil. But I think Bell's on the right track when he says that the way that we distribute those green pieces of paper, and how much we focus on them as an end in themselves, speaks multitudes. A budget that funnels more money to those that have it already is an immoral document. A budget that tries to provide for the general health, education, and welfare is Bell's "moral document."

You know I hate to speak for others, but I think most religions, and most moral/values systems, applied honestly, would agree.


PTS Greatest Hits

Some of our Greatest Recent Postings, for the benefit of our new readers:

These are just a small sample. If you post for us or read us send us your own favorites for a future "Greatest Hits."

must've been a slow news day

Only one minor clarification regarding the coverage in the Globe-Republican. One of the captions referred to this as my blog. It's not. I didn't start it, I don't edit it, and, if it depended on me to keep going, it would die a pretty quick death. I'm just one of many posters. Panhandle Truth Squad is a group blog on which a number of people have the capability to post and some even do post regularly. The blog was started about a year ago by Prodigal Son and The Liberalator. Credit/blame where credit/blame's due.

And welcome to our new visitors.


Welcome Globe News Republican Readers!

PTS made the paper this morning! CLICK HERE (Click on "Blogging For A Living")

If you came from that article . . . WELCOME TO PTS!

Pretty good article on blogging. Jennifer Wilson did a fine job talking a bit about blogtopia in the Texas Panhandle, along with including a pic of Spacedark, one of our founders.

Unfortunately, under Spacedark's picture on the home page it says, "Perryton native Angela Arenivar has a dilemma." I can guarantee you R.Spacedark's real name is not 'Angela'.

How this 'ere bloggy thang works, is you click "Comments" below (another window will pop up) just scroll down and post your thoughts . . . if you dare. LOL.

-Panhandle Truth Squad


UPDATE: Someone emailed us asking why PTS exists. Well . . .

Will Rogers once said, "I don't belong to an organized political party. I am a Democrat." <>We are trying to prove Will wrong. . .

  • <>Letters to the editor and phone calls to local media and elected officials to fight GOP spin and lies.
  • <>Notices for local liberal/Democratic meet-ups, etc.

Fundraisers: (have not tried this yet.)

  • For local Demo candidates.
  • Support for Texas Demos.
  • Grassroots for the local region.
  • A community where you can feel free to anonymously comment on anything.
Roughly half of us in the Panhandle are Liberals, and yet it is all-GOP all-the-time around here. We needed a voice. Now we have one.

Around 12,000 folks have visited us in less than a year with NO marketing. 'Nuff said.


Friday, May 13, 2005

school's out forever

The next couple of Chris Bell posts are gonna be a sort of good cop/bad cop thing. First, the bad cop. I did ask Bell about education as Demophoenix stated. And, like Demo, I was kindasorta trying to ask about funding. I was also (bad liberal! bad liberal!) kindasorta asking about states' rights.

Problem is, my questions didn't get answered that way.

I wanted Bell to discuss the current battles that are going on between various states and the federal government over No Child Left Behind and standardized testing. Several states are already finding that the federal government's unfunded requirements (which will only grow more draconian and probably more unfunded over the next ten years) are impossible to meet. Texas is currently being fined hundreds of thousands of dollars because more students with learning disabilities were exempted from the TAKS than are allowed under NCLB. Utah has passed a state law to allow school districts to ignore provisions of Nickeby that conflict with state law. And Connecticut is suing the federal government over the whole mess. So it's not just Texas, and its not just Shirley Neely.

Bell took the opportunity to discuss his "moonshot": a rather vaguely worded "goal" of having the best educational system in the United States within a decade. Of course, that brings us to about the time that the worst of Nickleby's "average yearly progress" requirements kick in.

Bell wasn't too specific about how this would happen other than the vague don't-like-standardized-tests-but-have-to-have-some-measurement. And some "that doesn't have to mean cookie-cutter solutions, doesn't have to mean one-size-fits-all." I'd honestly like to hear the details but I also wanted my questions about funding answered. So I started, "As written, Nickleby is one-size-fits-all and is cookie-cutter. . . " I wanted to finish, "if we can't meet these requirements, how will you make up the money the feds take away?"

But Bell cut me off, bristling, that "what Shirley Neeley is doing is finding ways to exempt kids to get around the law so schools can look better than they are. I've seen them do it. We can't do that."

At that point his position was clear, as was the fact that he needs to do some more thinking about his education policy. I just finished up by asking if he was actually maintaining that we could have his moonshot and Nickleby, too. He said we could.

Of course, the whole thing about schools finding ways to exempt students is becoming as much a part of right-wing mythology as the old welfare queens were. I hate to see us feed into that. There are slews of learning disabled kids, abused kids, and newly-arrived immigrants that need to be either a) more flexibly tested, or b) served by programs that will need money to function. And what would Virgil Van Camp say if we suddenly started throwing more money at teaching English to immigrant kids?

We educators are doing our best to serve all the kids, we're doing it without enough money, and we're being used as a scapegoat by politicans of all political persuasions. I've seen us do it.


A Real Nice Chat

I one-upped Spacedark in the etiquette department by ringing in to the Chris Bell blog/chatfest last night at about the halfway mark, and then having the nerve to ask questions that probably already had been asked and answered. Bell was a real gentleman, but exhibited his quick wit. "That's ok," he said after I apologized for breaking into the middle. "Go ahead. We'll just all laugh at you."

So I asked him about his slogan, "the new mainstream." Yep, already talked about that, but he added a few items, mentioning specific issues like the CHIP program, and summed up by saying that it was about real ethics and morality, not the largely phony, hypocritical stuff the right-wing talks about. If you go to his web site, he does mention his religious affiliation, and talks about some of the volunteer work he's done through his church, but does it in a way that illustrates his sincerity (talks about actual details, doesn't trumpet this stuff on the main page, and spends a lot more space on describing how his ethics would be translated into public policy). Bell made clear again that he's in favor of an approach that puts the real problems of Texas first, as opposed to putting party first as current Republican leadership has done.

"So," I persisted, "how would you work with Republicans like Tom Craddick if you are elected, given their record [of divisiveness]?" He obviously recognizes that in Texas the power of the governor is limited to the use of the bully pulpit, and the veto pen, and he's clearly given thought not only to the campaign, but also to what might come next. He suggested that he has a good relationship with Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, and talked at some length about the ways they might work together, but allowed that Speaker Craddick "...would be more of a challenge." Bell talked about being able to talk to anyone. He said he even attempted to work with Tom DeLay regarding commuter rail service, while Bell was a Houston city councilman, before DeLay stabbed him in the back. So, he supposed he would just lay out to the speaker that the election was over and that they could accomplish more by working together than by the House passing legislation he was not prepared to sign.

At this point in the conversation, Spacedark saved my bacon by asking some penetrating questions about education. At least I hadn't asked what he thought of blogs, which was on my list. I'll let SD talk for himself about the details of testing, as I'm no expert, but education was clearly on Bell's priority list. He said "I'm no fan of testing," but that "accountability is important," and you have to have some way of measuring it. He said he wanted to "take a page from John Kennedy," and set a goal of having the premier system of education in the country in ten years, alluding to Texas' current rank of, what? No. 47? We are great in Texas at making a silk purse out of a sow's ear, so maybe we can turn that into a cheerleading yell. "We're No. 47!" Nah. Probably way too risque. I wanted to ask about funding, but I was betting this too had already been covered. In any event, clearly there will be more opportunities for such chats, so I shelved this one.

I think it was Charles Kuffner who asked about how he thought he'd work with other candidates, downballot, if Bell were the Dem nominee. Bell quickly mentioned Rahm Emanuel, current chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and their strong relationship. Clearly, reversing the effect of the Republican Congressional district gerrymander will be tough until after the next census in 2010, but Bell considers that a priority he is already trying to help with. That alone should be music to the ears of Dem activists. Otherwise, he appeared reticent about trying to put his stamp on candidate recruitment, and at least until he is the nominee, that would seem to be an overreach.

Things appeared to be wrapping up by this point, but I ventured one more question, asking him how he perceived his hiring of Joe Trippi as a campaign consultant, and how that would influence his campaign. Trippi's company has already completed a redesign of the Bell web site that debuted a couple weeks ago. This was a real softball, as it provided an opportunity for him to mention that they are introducing a trademark Trippi idea, fundraising houseparties, with the first one to be held June 12, roughly the anniversary of the introduction of Bell's ethics complaint against DeLay.

Overall, I was impressed that Chris is a mensch, meaning that everything about him screams sincerity, integrity and determination, not a bad image to present to voters. He also has the voice and good looks of a former television broadcaster, which won't hurt. His association with fighting corruption is a great place to start a campaign, and his team will clearly use that for everything it's worth. Bell obviously understands that his ultimate success will depend upon fundraising, and that partly depends upon the willingness of party insiders to back him. Nevertheless, his timing is good, as party activists want a new face they can become excited about. If the house parties go well, that could be the signal for the insiders to get on board this train before it leaves the station.

No doubt that Bell would need some good fortune to be sworn in as the next Governor of Texas, but taking a page from Kathleen Sibelius' successful campaign in Kansas, he is clearly hoping for Gov. Goodhair to survive what promises to be a brutal Repub primary. And I'd say that, even if you think someone else might eventually make a superior nominee, Chris Bell deserves praise for having the character to take a stand and do something about Tom DeLay. And he deserves support now for being willing to get out front and take a shot at Rick Perry while others hang back and sniff the wind.


blogging on the telephone

I began my participation in the big Chris Bell conference call (organized by Charles Kuffner) by demonstrating my Dancing Monkeyhood in front of all of the Best & Brightest of Blogtexia. Nate from Common Sense was there, as was Greg from Gregsopinion (whom Chris Bell had "heard of"!) and Sean-Paul Kelley from The Agonist. I dialed in. I could hear assorted blogger voices. I waited for a lull and announced, “Hello, this is Panhandle Truth Squad out of Amarillo.”

“Oh,” a deep voice said, “My old stomping grounds.”

“Really,” I said. “And who are you?”

There was a pause. “I’m Chris Bell,” said the voice.

I winced, hoping Bell wasn’t the vindictive sort, and praying that he wouldn’t remember me when he occupied the office of Jim Hogg, Bill Hobby, and Ma&Pa Ferguson. Would he seek out revenge on an obscure blogger from Amarillo? I doubted it. As slogans of vengeance go, “Remember the Blogger Telephone Snub” isn’t quite in the same league as “Remember the Alamo” and “Come and Take It.”

For his part Bell seemed to rise above my unspeakable rudeness quickly enough, reminiscing about his days at KVII-TV, where he said he worked from 1983-1988. He also talked about his recent visit to Amarillo to speak to the Potter-Randall Democratic Club. That, he said, was the very first stop of his exploratory candidacy.

At 7:00, Mr. Bell began with some general comments. He worked the blogging is the new grassroots meme a bit, giving some credit to bloggers, Young Democrats, and Democracy for America for a “regenerated and rejuvenated” spirit that has given a new energy to Texas progressives. Then he dropped some very encouraging figures. We never see nearly enough young faces at Democratic events up here in the Panhandle. But Bell said that the Dallas Young Democrats is now the third largest such organization in the nation. And some “John David” character from College Station had, I don’t know, “Aggie spirit yelled” (or whatever it is they do) that the Aggie Dems had suddenly grown from eight kids in a dorm room to more than 1,000. That's about right for a school/lifestyle that demonizes "two-percenters" who fail to do something darkly referred to as "demonstrating true Aggie Spirit." Having lots of Aggies on your side in a political battle is like forming an alliance with Klingons. They're loyal; they'll fight to the death; they might freak you out a little along the way.

Bell's big theme is the “new mainstream”. He says that Republicans have somehow convinced voters that to be considered mainstream, you must conform by joining the Republican party. (It's politics as Middle School.) But he believes that we can show that there is a more “optimistic” way than the Republican way, that we can “lift each other up.” At this point, the “new mainstream” appears to be an exploratory idea in line with Bell’s (currently, allegedly) exploratory campaign. He still working on the specifics, saying that the idea is a half-decorated “tree that we can continue to hang ornaments on as we go on.”

Bell will surely continue to develop as a (potential) candidate as we move toward July. July is the target that Bell has set—for a variety of personal and political reasons—as his “target for his decision to run.” He puts it just that way: the goal is for when he will decide to run, not decide whether to run. I fully expect that Chris Bell will become a candidate for Governor; I also harbor hopes that he’ll become the first Democratic candidate in a while to spend more than a token amount of time in the Panhandle.

Knowing that Bell had adopted some of the models of Democracy for America (and adopted one or two of Howard Dean’s personnel), I asked about an “254-county” strategy for Texas that mirrored Dean’s “50-state strategy.” Bell affirmed that any gubernatorial candidate would need to “compete in all counties.” He further asserted that rural Texas has been red for awhile—but is also very upset at Rick Perry for the Trans-Texas Corridor which threatens huge swaths of what’s left of rural Texas. We should “stop assuming people will be against us”; all bets are off as populations shift. Bell used some surprisingly large minority population numbers in über-suburb Round Rock as an example of the ways that old stereotypes can mislead

Bell has obviously done a lot of thinking about strategy. He wouldn't bet on the Republican nominee being anyone other than Rick Perry. The Republican primary, Bell points out, is dominated by the far right—and the wingnuts loves them some Rick Perry. Which leaves Kay Bailey Hutchisen—or whoever—in the rather awkward position of running from the left in a Republican primary. Bell’s confidant he’ll run against Perry. I’m confidant he’ll declare his candidacy in July.

By this point in the conversation Demophoenix had dialed in. I have some thoughts about the rest of the call, but I'd also like to give my esteemed colleague the opportunity to share some of his.


Thursday, May 12, 2005

been through the desert on a source with no name

Here's a story just begging for some of that olde tyme investigative journalism. What on Earth are we to make of this situation?

  1. Contentious city election season in which fears surface that a candidate will sell Amarillo's water to Mesa Petroleum
  2. Candidate most widely believed to be conspiring to sell water loses election
  3. Five days pass
  4. Mesa announces that it is no longer pursuing water purchases
Wha . . . ?

There may be nothing to see here. It's really really really really difficult to tell, because the story is cobbled together rather badly, even by Amarillo Globe-Republican standards. For one thing, it's a balance victim.

In its news release, Mesa said the Panhandle has more than enough water to supply local needs and places downstate.


Not so, said [Kent] Satterwhite [the Canadian River Municipal Water Authority's general manager]

OK. Mesa says we have plenty of water, local authorities say . . . not so much. We already know about this difference of opinion. But we'd lo-oo-oo-ve to know what's up with Mesa's latest decision. Was this decision made before or after the election? Why? Did Mesa decide they wouldn't pursue purchases since their toady lost? Or maybe maybe maybe Hodger the Dodger was telling the truth and he did hate T. Boone Pickens like the Black Death, and maybe maybe maybe T. Boone is just announcing this decision now to make the Dodger look like he's Boone's accomplice . . .

The article as written by Kevin Welch doesn't merely invite such useless idle speculations; it drags speculations inside, handcuffs them to the bed, and touches their knee, all night long. This piece is Jacques Derrida's waking dream; it self-deconstructs into an endless universe of free-play and multiple possible meanings. The only possible substantive meanings are found in the binary oppositions: each unit is defined only by what it is not. CRMWA is not Mesa. Mesa is not CRMWA. Mesa is not a water buyer. Hodger the Dodger is not mayor of Amarillo. Spacedark is not understanding what the hell is going on here.



Funny. CLICK HERE for a better looksee.


Wherefore PTS?

So . . . why are we around?

Why is Panhandle Truth Squad getting 470 visitors every week now and growing? (thank you!)

CLICK HERE to read what is obvious to all the great folks working in journalism today but not the oblivious ones . . .

We are talking about the McNews Peeps: NBCCBSABCMSGOPCNNFAUXNEWSRussertMathewsScarboliarBillO'Liar
AnntheMANCoulterBruceTinsley . . . unfortunate infinitum.

On the other hand . . . Robots can successfully replicate themselves now, taking identical spinprinting republipundits to a new evolutionary (Oops! Sorry 'bout that) level! CLICK HERE

Don't forget to click "comments" below and chat away!

-Panhandle Truth Squad

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

the south will rise again

First off, someone needs to tell Michelle Malkin that she is not a blogger. Oh, sure she has her cute little on-line journal / list of links to wingnutdom / litany of freeper worship. But when ya got a regular weekly column syndicated by Creators Syndicate that newspapers pay for, and when your résumé includes lines like

  • appears in nearly 200 papers nationwide
  • was a New York Times bestseller
  • Fox News Channel contributor, and
  • quit job and moved to Washington, D.C.,
you’re most assuredly MSM. I personally hate that acronym, but Malkin tosses it around with abandon. She’s down with the freeper lingo, but there’s more to blogging than just being hysterical and unreliable.

For one thing, blogging is all about staying one step ahead. Malkin’s always a beat behind. You want to be creating—or at least discovering—memes, not repeating tired old ones recycled from 2002-vintage Andrew Sullivan. Malkin’s last laughable column, “Why I'm not a 'South Park Conservative,” pulls from a concept so old it’s already printed in a book, f’r chrissakes. Here’s a view inside a deranged mind, Malkin’s summary of Brian C. Anderson’s book:
Anderson argues that Comedy Central's cartoon series "South Park" embodies the "fiercely anti-liberal comedic spirit" of the "new media" from Kaus to Coulter. The cartoon, he writes, reflects a "post-liberal counterculture" that is "particularly appealing to the young, however much it might offend older conservatives."
That’s Mickey Kaus, from Slate, the prototypical self-loathing Democrat, right there on the page next to Ann Coulter, the devolved posthuman horrorshow, in a column by Michelle Malkin. Remember Mickey’s bedfellows the next time anyone asks you to take him seriously.

Let’s decrypt a couple of the phrases Malkin lovingly caresses. This South Park conservatism of which they speak is said to be “comedic.” Let’s leave aside for the moment the question of whether South Park is actually funny. When I clean out my spam e-mail account, in among the ads for “4 mortgage quotes at Christian Family Loans” and “5uperh0t v1c0d1n 5ex,” I frequently find this newsletter from this latter-day Rico Suave called “David DeAngelo” who claims that the secret to success with women is (1) being “Cocky and Funny” and (2) sending significant sums of money to “David DeAngelo”. Mr. DeAngelo’s “C&F” formula involves skillful communication techniques like
“teasing her about her shoes being ugly.”
That’s right; those are quotation marks. I put them around the block quote just to be doubly sure we understood each other. And that’s just the part DeAngelo gives you for free to get you hooked. If you send the dude money, he’ll
“take you ‘behind the scenes’ and teach you the psychology of humor,”
which means he’ll send you a bunch of “tried and true” C&F jokes of which an example follows-and-I-swear-this-is-an-exact-quote-and-I-kept-the-e-mail-if-you-don’t-believe-me:
"You might say 'Well, if worse comes to worse you can always donate them to the Salvation Army so a needy girl who doesn't care if her shoes are ugly can have them'."
I go into depth about this particular spam e-mail because I think David DeAngelo is an even better example of a South Park Conservative than Mickey Kaus, or Ann Coulter. Here’s the final cliching proof of my contention: DeAngelo states that if you don’t follow his C&F techniques, you will come across to a woman as an
Now, I don't know DeAngelo’s politics. He may be entirely apolitical, for all I know. But the thing is, so are SPCs, in the depraved depths of their corrupted and cold hearts. They’re certainly not 2005 Republicans. If anything, they're laughing libertarians. Not necessarily “libertarians with a sense of humor,” but—well, they think they’re funny. They have a lineage, too. Years ago, P.J. O’Rourke wrote a book called Republican Party Reptile which described basically the same phenomenon. O’Rourke included something that used to be necessary if you aspired to be called "comedic": comedy. He was actually funny. Before Reptiles, the laughing libertarians were more closely aligned with liberals than with conservatives. They used to be people like Abbey Hoffman, Hunter S. Thompson, Neil Cassady, Lenny Bruce—and an earlier incarnation of P.J. O’Rourke.

But they’ve devolved over the years. Whether you call them Yippies, Reptiles, or South Park Republicans, they want to make their friends laugh—and apparently their new friends just have a less sophisticated sense of humor. It’s a long, long road from How to Talk Dirty and Influence People to Dennis Miller Live. The road has recently led into Republicanism, but I doubt if it will end there. That road goes on forever, and the laugh track never ends. The South Park Yippie Republicans are loyal to no one but themselves and a good gag. They won’t hang with humorless S.O.B.s like James Dobson and John Bolton for long.


Question War - If you don't, who will?

So, when do you think the mass revulsion of the American people at the actions of their government will begin?

Are you sickened yet by the innocent blood, the incessant beat of the war drums, the shame of our actions, the crimes our elected leaders commit every day? How many more will be tortured at Guantanamo or sent to more effective torture chambers under that quaint program called rendition? Shall we flatten another Falluja? A few more tons of depleted uranium for good measure to assure future lethality? Maybe it will take another 1600 American deaths. Do you think that 100,000 Iraqi dead count in the calculus of our collective moral outrage?

How about another war? Iran is threatening us with, let me guess, weapons of mass destruction? Chavez in Venezuela keeps playing us for chumps (yeah, he's got oil). There's that pesky Kim Jong Il in North Korea, the crazy uncle we don't like to talk too much about for fear we'll really piss him off.

Have you read with rage the Brit memo, that most smoking of guns where Bush connived by July 2002 to wage war "justified by the conjunction of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction." Just one problem – it didn't jibe with the reality-based community. So, "The intelligence and facts are being fixed around the policy." Are you offended enough by the sheer brazenness of that statement, by the conspiracy to dupe us all to offer up blood, honor and treasure, so that you finally say Enough! So that you act to stop them from acting in your name, squandering your money, threatening your security, risking your sons and daughters, killing their sons and daughters?

Is your God angry yet?

Are you?

Radical American Cleric-Reprise

The Baptist minister of a church in Waynesville, NC who kicked out members for being Democrats resigned. CLICK HERE.

Interestingly it was because, "For me to remain now would only cause more hurt for me and my family," . . .

Not that it was harming his flock. It was hurting him.

Some shepard. What do you think?

-Prodigal Son

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

AG-R - "You smoking ban peeps just sit down and zip it!"

Should the folks who wanted a smoking ban never bring it up again like the AGR suggests? CLICK HERE.

Click on "Comment" below and talk amongst yourselves.

-Prodigal Son

Monday, May 09, 2005

I'm a joker / you're a smoker / let's call the whole thing off

Saturday night, midnight, the men’s restroom in Gecko’s at Sixth and Georgia: I take a hefty snort into my left nostril. Then a nice snort into my right. Ahh, there, that’s better. Reinvigorated and feeling way more alive than I should be allowed to, I head back out into the bar to listen to Pants Mandolin—a great local band you should check out.

Earlier, before we went out, I went to Drug Imperialists. I smiled sweetly at the nice little old lady cashier, and plunked down cash for a gross of pseudoephedrine.

It’s not what you think. I am not a coke fiend, nor do I run a meth lab. It’s just that lately any smoke at all aggravates my allergies, already quite miserable from living in a climate no human being was meant to inhabit. A few minutes in any local bar or restaurant and my nostrils are sealed up tighter than a new CD.

So, anyway, after my quick snort of Afrin No-Drip Nasal Spray, I head back into the unventilated bar. The dance floor is filled with cigarette smoke; I was wholly unable to drink a Shiner Bock and breathe at the same time. The S.O. was similarly afflicted, and wailing, “Why, oh why did I vote against the smoking ban?”

Well, we voted differently but we both, as Dylan sang, had God on our side. Her vote was right from her side (civil rights) and mine was right from mine (not giving inhuman Corporations further power over human lives). Of course, there are those who believe I was entirely misguided, that it wasn’t about huge corporations but about the soda fountain down the street painted by Norman Rockwell and run by Wilfred Brimley. There are also those who believe that life here began out there. I was tempted, however, to view the nonsmoking ordinance as a civil rights issue. Both the S.O. and I straddled the fence on the smoking ban for a mightily long time; in the end we were happy to cancel out each others votes and let people who felt strongly one way or the other decide the issue.

Scott Camarata, owner of Café Marizon on Polk Street, felt strongly and, on Saturday night while I was listening to live local music, he was fretting about the possibility of another petition drive and another referendum on another smoking ban:

"It's going to have to take a little more effort. They are going to have to go out and get 25 percent of who voted this time on their petition to bring it before the City Commission," he said. "They are going to have to come up with a lot, more so than the 1,100 they needed this time around."
Sure, Scott, whatever you have to tell yourself to feel safe and secure. I’m not so sure. From here it looks like 14,718 people have invested in a smoking ban by voting for it. I expect that Clean Air Now wouldn’t have any trouble getting three or four times the number of signatures they got last time. Exert a little control over the language of the ordinance and it would probably pass. But should they even try?

Currently an underserved population in this city can’t enjoy some live music or a meal in a restaurant because we can’t breathe due to excessive smoke. A group of radical activist anti-smokers clearly exists. And half the voting population of this city wants smoking disallowed in public spaces.

There is a solution that both CAN and Speak Out Amarillo should be able to endorse—a solution that acknowledges the rights of both nonsmokers and businesses. Encourage restaurants and bars to voluntarily go smoke-free. Do you have a business that is failing or not doing as well as you might like? Do you have a cool place that has gotten lost in the constant shuffle of restaurant and bar turnover in this city? Do you desperately need to generate some buzz? Remind people that you exist? Fill up your parking lot?

Try this: go completely nonsmoking. I know business owners don’t like risky experiments that might make things worse. But this won’t make things worse. Look at the numbers again; fifteen thousand citizens—"customers" as they are called in hypercapitalistic America circa 2005—who want a place to go that does not now exist. Plus a radical contingent that will probably go out of their way to support a nonsmoking business. I’m not asking at this point for a high-performing business to be the first to take the plunge. Lincoln’s should probably leave things as they are for now. But if a local business owner is looking for a way to improve slumping numbers, it’s almost a guarantee. Think of the free press coverage. Think of the customer loyalty.

The day may come to put another smoking ban on the ballot. But not today. For now, let’s encourage some business owners to cater to nonsmokers. We’ll see where it goes from there.


Two-Fer Ha Ha (So why am I crying?)

UPDATE: moveon.org's Bush in 30 seconds latest ad winner. Go now! CLICK HERE

The Poor Man has a great SAT test for right wing fundies. See how you do! CLICK HERE.

Also, seen the new PBS schedule now that conservatives have their toady as Chairman? (Also fundie friendly!) CLICK HERE.

-Prodigal Son

Bush, Shallow Man-Boy Part 322

Lookee, lookee at me!

The Man-Boy strikes again in Europe, when he tries to upstage the President of Latvia. CLICK HERE

My fav part:
"After Bush finished, [President] Vike-Freiberga then explained that they would take four questions _ one for each president. Again, Bush tried to interrupt, saying, "Or you can have all four questions to me," knowing that foreign reporters usually want to use the opportunity to probe the U.S. president.

Vike-Freiberga ignored the remark as she called on a Latvian journalist, and Bush threw his arms up and looked to help from aides offstage."

Ya see, he is the Preznit. All eyes on Dear Leader!

(The picture is of Shrub trying to squeeze his way past Bill at the opening of Clinton's presidential library. Bush can't stand anyone else in the limelight.

-Prodigal Son