“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"

Friday, March 31, 2006

all in all it's just another brick in the wall

Democracy is a damn good thing, and the increasing democratization of the public chatterbox via the netroots and the blogs is certainly a net positive. But (to use an analogy from neocon mythology) in emerging democracies sometimes you gotta dodge the car bombs and the snipers before you git yer purple thumb.

The car bombers and snipers of Blogtopia are the legions of the uniformed. I compare these folks to Spacedark, Jr. when he was two or three years old. That was his “I help” stage. He wanted to “I help” with any and all chores: painting, dishwashing, whatever. (This is where I should say, “Now that he is in middle school that stage is sadly over.” Only, it’s not. He’s still a helpful kid, but instead of painting and dishes he now wants to help with the global revolution.)

At Panhandle Truth Squad, as at all blogs, we often discuss issues on which everyone believes themselves to be experts. Most of us openly acknowledge our own limitations or biases. But, amazingly, we have a troll (we affectionately call him RacistTexan) who apparently has no limitations or biases. Well, he can’t spell, or write a grammatical sentence, but that’s probably not his fault. He’d probably blame it on public schools. Some disturbing examples of his racism and bad spelling:

  • So duh we really don't teach the three R's any more. At least not at the level white children are capable of.
  • And black kids will never be smart in their own schools. Only by mixing them with the white kids will they grow a brain.
  • But of course allowing a child to get to full potential would result in mostly White and Asians at the top and mosstly blacks and hispanics at the bottom and we can't have that. In the liberal world legislated equality is more important than full potential. Even if that equality requires a dumbing down of a certain white group of kids.
So you see. Public education and race relations are two of the issues in which RacistTexan is an expert. (Another is welfare. He has accused me of smoking crack because I told him the truth about my experiences working in the welfare system before I became a teacher. And since my experiences in public education differ from RT’s in-depth knowledge of the Way Things Really Work, I must here issue a disclaimer: All of the paranoid screeds about education here fantasized by me must surely be equally drug-induced. Sorry about that.)

Expert that he is, RT has also demanded to know my qualifications:
do you actually teach literature or is it more english of one type or anouther? And is it a grade school or the college. I suppose Amarillo college could be considered public. Just curious as to the level you teach and if there is actually a pure lit course in high school not trying to insult you or anything.
I don’t know RT’s motivations for sure, but I’m pretty sure that my employment in the public schools is sufficient to qualify me for insult in his book. But no matter. I am not insulted, if only because I do not care what RT thinks. For the record—and as many of you already know—I teach junior and senior high school English. RT’s skepticism of “pure lit” courses in high school reveals an ignorance of pedagogy—both contemporary and universal—that alone should make us question his rants about public education. For one thing, despite the fact that I am almost finished with my M.A. in History, I have yet to take any course at any level that was “purely” anything. Every course I have taken, for example, has had a writing component and every teacher and professor has taken her or his responsibility to help students improve their writing seriously. Additionally, contemporary pedagogy emphasizes “horizontal” and “vertical” approaches that teach across the curricula at the expense of purity but to the benefit of students.

Nevertheless, Junior English in Texas is traditionally American Literature and Senior English is traditionally Brit Lit. Grammar is traditionally addressed in-depth in junior high / middle school and research in high school, but these are mixed and matched in the TEKS. The manner in which specifics are specifically mixed and matched is a matter of individual teaching style. My classes contain some in-depth grammar review (because I still believe in diagramming, yargh), but generally teach grammar in the context of the literature. This approach is shown to be successful by most recent research.

Here’s how that works in practice. Yesterday, I conducted a lesson about the Harlem Renaissance. I taught the poem “Ardella,” by Langston Hughes. Since Hughes used the words “would” and “were” to make statements in the poem that were contrary to fact, I taught a mini-lesson on the subjunctive mood. Students’ knowledge of both a classic poem and a little-understood grammatical mood were improved. And despite RacistTexan’s racist claims I was able to teach Readin’ and Ritin’ to students from all sorts of backgrounds.

RT’s strange notion of “purity” strikes me as archaic at any academic level— as unsafe at any speed. The fact that he brings it up shows an utter ignorance of education so extreme that he probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a good school and a poor school. Not that he doesn’t try. He insists, for example, that schools should be segregated into “liberal” and “conservative” schools and the sacred marketplace should determine which is better. He tells us that current schools are liberal and that most educators are raving leftists, a fact which would surprise most of the Republicans I teach with in this small town in the Texas Panhandle. RT then describes what a “conservative school” would look like:
I think I should be able to send my child to a conservative school, that opens with prayer and the pledge of allegiance, and that then teaches conservative values.
In accordance to a wacky Texas law, the school I teach at opens with the pledge of allegiance to both the United States flag and the Texas flag. Thanks to the same law, we also open with a “moment of silence,” which is a pretty thinly-veiled prayer. So our “liberal” school looks pretty conservative by RT’s own definition. And the ignorance of Texan critics of public education knows no apparent bounds.


bibo ergo sum

In honor of René Descartes' 410th birthday, all together now, The Philosopher's Drinking Song. Make mine a Scotch, no rocks, just Scotch.


Thursday, March 30, 2006

oil & water

First off, I have no doubt that any city that increased its size by 200,000 people in a single week would experience some increase in crime. The 200,000 people who live in this yellow city manage to commit a crime or two.

And Houston’s never been a pleasant place, nor has it ever been a particularly crime-free town. Personally, based on my few nasty, brutish, and mercifully short stays in Houston, I would’ve expected more kvetching to run the other way, from evacuee to adopted city.

But there were premonitions of this backlash, even this far north. The week of the hurricane, when we expected thousands of evacuees in Amarillo, rumors spread darkly around town that they were sending sex criminals and murderers up here, that prison walls had been thrown open and the inmates shown the way to Amarillo.

As we’ve seen in the comments section of this blog in recent weeks, extant racist fear & hatred leads inevitably to trumped-up statistical justifications of that hate.

Now. How long will it take the troll racisttexan to fill up the comments under this post with pseudoscience about head sizes and I.Q.’s he read in this man Goddard’s book The Rise of the Colored Empires?


Wednesday, March 29, 2006


So PTS received this e-mail today . . .

In 2 the months following Spacedarks comments on Allen Finegold's GN editorial of Jan 25 no other comments about those of Spacedark or Finegtold's editorial have appeared. It is indeed sad that Mr. Finegold could not have asked for a better confirmation of his point than Spacedark's comments along with the silence of its audience. And it's a point that does not pertain to just one class of politician. "Say 'Hello' to Joe Lieberman......" There is more than one basis by which Spacedark suggests Democrats reject Mr. Finegold as one of them. Apparently Spacedark thinks it has an audience for such a comment and wants to make sure it connects with it in its summation. Spacedark's comments and the silence of its audience shine a bright light on one of the ugliest elements of social cohesion that typically evolve in school settings and which, to Finegold's and most reasonable people's disgust, a very large number of adults never outgrow.
The e-mail refers to this post about this article, and based on the author's bizarre syntax and confusing points, I'm guessing he's related to Allen Finegold. Well, actually, I'm also guessing that because his last name is "Finegold".

Guys! You're confusing us out here!


teach the old coots well

Occasionally and regrettably, those of us who teach focus on the negative. It happens because the little craphead drumming on his desk and feeling up the girl sitting next to him is an immediate problem. He must be dealt with. Sadly, the kid who takes care of business doesn’t always get noticed so readily.

Friday, as the debate/extemp coach, I was one of the sponsors who took a group to the UIL district meet in Canyon. I spoke with one of the other English teachers about how nice it was to spend a day with the good kids, to get away from the distracting noise of the idiots and see that the future isn’t completely hopeless.

Last week, blogarillo responded to Virgil Van Jackboot’s latest diatribe against public education. I had some opinions of my own but no time to post them. This morning, Dontreka Matthews, editor of the Palo Duro High School Prairie Sage, outdid us both. In a letter to the editor, Ms. Matthews politely but firmly ripped Virgil a new one:

How we dress now does not determine who or what we will become in life.

We would like a public apology, in the newspaper, from Mr. Van Camp. We also request his presence at PDHS for one full school day to gain a deeper perspective on 21st-century high school students.
We’d like to express our admiration for a student who took care of business and stood up for herself and her fellow students. And for all kinds of reasons Panhandle Truth Squad would like to join Dontreka Matthews in calling for Virgil Van Camp to spend a full day at Palo Duro High School.


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Like Uncle Bushie . . .

Bush's nephew and spawn of Neil Bush, Pierce Walker Herbert Herbert George Mallon Prescott Bush. . . (whatever! Let's call him "Beavis Bush"). . . appeared on the Today show, discussed his sleepiness, and his article in the Houston Chronicle defending poor Uncle Shrubs' botched Dubai deal LIVE FROM AMARILLO

(Sing together now, "I did my time in Amarillooooo . . .")


My Fav line, "You people on the Today show really know when to get a 19 year old on TV. 6:15am on Saturday isn't my typical Saturday morning."

Maybe it was unintentional, but the whole super-cool, frat boy, scorin' with the chickies, growin' up Gott, er, Bushie, entitled rich kid facade came off poorly.

Watching this train wreck, what amazes me again about the Bushes is their total lack of fear of inadequacy. It just doesn't matter to them. "Beavis Bush" actually thought that his views on the Pope, the economy and whatnot were not getting adequate attention, even though he'd written, you know, an article, knowhatimean, dude?

The BCF are like a whole family of Paris Hiltons without her, um...what WAS her redeeming facet? I forget. Well, without THAT thing.

IMHO, when a member of the BCF pens a letter saying Governor Bush is a jackhole, NOW THAT would be worthy of 7 minutes on the Today show. Better even than "Where in the world is Matt Lauer."

There MUST be a law enacted never allowing another member of the Bush shallow gene pool to serve in higher office.

-Prodigal Son

Monday, March 27, 2006

pts roll call

We're updating our mailing list for future events. If you are a reader, lurker, or commenter on this blog, drop us a line at panhandletruthsquad@yahoo.com. If you post in comments, you might also let us know the screen name you post under. We won't bother you often, but we will soon be sending out something you won't want to miss.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Ghostwriters at it again!

Friday, March 24th the Opinion Page ghost writers had another senior moment. In the article Freedom a work in progress in Taliban-free Afghanistan their very first phrase was "Afghanistan is free of the Taliban monsters who governed that country.

Once again they are depending on Fox News and Rush for their source! Wouldn't it be nice if they would learn to use the internet? CNN reported today "A U.S. soldier has been killed and another wounded in a battle with about 20 Taliban fighters in southern Afghanistan, the U.S. military says. The Taliban, fundamentalist Islamist movement based in southern and eastern Afghanistan and the border regions of Pakistan, began an effort in late 2005 to regain the power and influence lost when their government was toppled by the U.S. and its allies in 2001. The Taliban still act as a shadow government and retains a loyal following." (my bold)

And Radio Free Europe says "The U.S. military said coalition forces and Afgan troops backed by U.S. aircraft early today engaged in fighting with some 20 suspected Taliban insurgents in the province's Sagin district.
. . .
Helmand Province has been a bastion of Taliban insurgency."


The Liberalator

Friday, March 24, 2006

Virgil Van Camp's 8 Point Plan Too Sav Are Skools

Virgil Van Camp graced the pages of today's Globe-Republican with his 8 point plan to save, and by "save" he means "destroy", public education. His points, in italics, and my comments:

Run our schools a bit more like a military boot camp, with a strict dress code, possibly a required uniform.

The idea of a boot camp is a little over the top, but I'm not opposed to a stricter dress code. I think the most you could hope for is a decline in discipline problems.

No cell phones or iPods.

That seems like common sense to me, as well, at least at the classroom level. I imagine there are already teacher imposed prohibitions against these devices already. Any teachers want to chime in? Anyone? Bueller? I don't think I'd be supportive of a campus-wide ban. If some kid wants to listen to some tunes or chat with someone at lunch it shouldn't be a big deal.

A core curriculum that requires proficiency in the three R's, a knowledge of our history and a thorough grounding in what we used to call civics.

Well, duh. If we aren't teaching those things anymore it's because of staff reductions brought about by budget cuts.

A longer school year with better utilization of expensive plants.

I don't have much of an opinion on the length of the school year, but for the sake of argument I'll support Virgil here, too. Having said that...expensive plants? What?

De-emphasize sports and cheerleading. Turn them into truly extracurricular activities.

You'll get no argument from me on that one.

Reduce the number of school districts by at least 50 percent. There are more than 1,000 in our state. Amarillo has seven within 35 miles of downtown.

From my point of view this isn't necessarily a bad thing, as long as the money freed up is used to hire more teachers. Different communities might not be too happy about giving up control of their schools, though. I doubt this would ever really go anywhere.

Insist that a diploma mean something. Allow the unmotivated to fail. Failure can be a learning experience.

No argument from me, though I think one of a teacher's numerous responsibilities is to try to motivate the kids. That's a tough job and I'm sure most teachers make a good effort at it, but there will be some who just have to learn a lesson the hard way. Man, I'm agreeing with Virgil a lot here...

Allow vouchers to attend private schools. These schools turn out a better product for considerably less money.

Bzzzt. Wrong. There it is. There's the deal breaker. Virgil's 8 point plan to save the schools just became his 1 point plan to ruin them. Public money should be put into public schools. Period. End o' discussion. Vouchers will just lead to racial and religious segregation and, utlimately, the rise of for-profit, corporatized education.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

In Other News...

AMY GOODMAN: You don't think he's smart?

KEVIN PHILLIPS: No. He's got a certain smart sort of fraternity boy, towel-snapping, would make a good second vice president of the First National Bank of Amarillo, but, you know, nothing particularly for heavy lifting.

I wonder why he had Amarillo on his mind? Maybe Don Powell did something recently? The whole thing is here.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Saturday, March 18, 2006

follow the green paper road

The S.0. and I recently drove all the way from one end of American consumerist culture to the other. Our journey down that green road began in Madrid, New Mexico. Madrid is a touristy, arts-and-crafts former ghost town in the northern New Mexico mountains. We leaned its history from an O.H. (Original Hippy) who ran one of the shops, looked like a skinny, aged Andy Warhol, and by his inconvenient existence refuted the contention of our Republican trolls that all them former hippies have learnt their dad-blamed lesson. Thirty years ago, he told us, he and several other ''pioneers" had found the old mining town abandoned in the mountains and had moved in. It was his job, he told us proudly, to impede progress; to make sure that the town never incorporated and never had a mayor or a police force. We walked around the town and, although I'm not a member of the Writer's Guild and hence don’t have to describe it as ''quaint," I can’t really think of any other appropriate adjective. We had just come from Santa Fe and I should now comment on the irony that old hippies have become such good shopkeepers and small-time Capitalists in their dotage.

Not all 21st-century capitalism is so small-time, of course, an ugly truth we were reminded of sixty miles down the highway at Clines Corners. We stopped in at the huge, nightmarish truck stop/tourist trap at the comer of I-40 and Highway 285 in search of a Dr. Pepper and a restroom break. We found archetypal screaming kids shooting each other with archetypal plastic rifles, septuagenarian RV wanderers spending their children's inheritance on cheap crap, and scores of American nomads with the faces of zombies and the bodies of rhinoceroses. In the men's room two travelers arbitrated a disagreement that had begun with an apparent road rage incident. The guiltier party blamed his highway rudeness on incessant spousal nagging. Our own search soon proved fruitless. If we wanted a drink at Clines Corners, we would have to buy in from the resident Subway, in their approved, clumsy, prone-to-spill-on-long-drives paper cups. There wasn't a bottled Dr. Pepper to be found.

At two ends of a brief stretch of the ubiquitous American highway we found America. It was a synecdoche, this small part representing the whole sordid glory of our culture. This is our land: blissed-out hippie salesmen, families of unruly children and bickering parents, and everywhere the oppressive fluorescent lights offering nothing you want but determined nevertheless to sell you crap you don't at a price you can’t afford.


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Snatching Defeat From the Jaws of Victory

This recent Onion article seems especially relevant in light of the lack of support Sen. Russ Feingold is getting from fellow Dems to censure the President:

Democrats Vow Not To Give Up Hopelessness

The late Bill Hicks once joked that a new President is always pulled into a room filled with corporate scumbags who then show him a film of the Kennedy assasination from an angle that nobody has ever seen before. The nervous new President then responds "What do ya'll want me sign?" Times like this make me wonder if there may be some truth to the idea that there is some shadowy, X-Files-like cigarette smoking man who is actually running the show. I almost hope that is the case, because the alternative is just pathetic.

The Rude Pundit weighs in: Message To Democrats: Supporting Feingold Is the Path To Enlightenment

Friday, March 10, 2006

Various Thoughts

Some responses to various comments:

I have the balls to say it But as you have pointed out todays controlled media doesn't allow it. Not to mention that I would probably lose my job. So you have your wish as far as not being allowed to express in public the truth. -- CelticTexan

Do you ever read The Amarillo Globe-Republican? They print racist tripe all the time. Virgil Van Camp is what you might call a PTS favorite, but there are others to choose from. Granted, you'll have to clean your filth up a little bit, but I'm sure you could get a letter in.

"Why do you care if this guy is a racist or not?" -- bodacious

Because we are liberals and liberalism is an inclusive ideology. Because, sadly, there is nothing unique about him. I'll wager that the number of people in this town who think like he does number at least in the thousands, probably in the tens of thousands. People who think, "I don't hate minorities, I just don't want to be around them...or hire them...or have them in my community...or my neighborhood...or my school...or my church...or my government, etc." You can bet that a number of these people are part of the Amarillo Good Ol' BoysTM and have a lot of power and influence. Want to know why there is a lawsuit brewing over single-member districts in Amarillo? Take a good look at CelticTexan and you'll have your answer.

"I always find it hislarious that the people who say they embrace tolerance and understanding the most have seemingly no tolerance for those they disagree with." - bodacious

Don't mistake dog-piling on some racist ass for the same type of intolerance that leaves people beaten and left for dead on the side of the road. We aren't depriving him of anything.

Once again, I find Bodacious to be the voice of reason around here. -- CuriousTexan

Mwa ha ha ha ha ha ha. Bodacious may come across level-headed on this particular issue, but surely if I were to bring up the war in Iraq, or anything related to the military for that matter, the accusations of traitor and terrorist sympathizer would undoubtedly fly from his mouth just as they did when he first started commenting here. He's as hot-headed as anyone else. "Voice of reason", puh-leeease.

That being said, re: 2. above, I only have one question: What if you unwittingly made plans to take your kids to Orlando the first weekend in June. How could you avoid this? (Check out the Gallery, especially the last few photos) : -- CuriousTexan

What if I unwittingly answer my front door only to find some far-right fundamentalist idiot who's just itching to "cram" his particular take on god down my throat? There's offensive stuff every where - billboards, radio, television, the Internet. Have a good look at the magazines next time you are standing in line at the grocery store. "10 Things That Will Drive Your Man Wild In Bed" It's only a matter of time before I have to start explaining stuff like that to my kids and I'm not looking forward to it. It's annoying as hell, but that's life in an open society like ours. You suck it up and you deal with it. As far as Disney is concerned, are they, and other area businesses, supposed to put up "gay alerts?" I would sarcastically pre-empt your answer with "How about nigger alerts?", but obviously there are some among you who actually would appreciate that.

Here is anouther example of the lack of moral restraint that plauges liberal's. -- CelticTexan

Spare me your bullshit about "liberal immorality." Do you even live here in Amarillo? If so take a good look at the town around you. Do you think Amarillo's tiny liberal population is capable of keeping all the strip clubs, bars, pornography retailers and liquor stores in business? Only liberals go to Las Vegas? Only liberals flash their boobs at Mardis Gras? Only liberals have premarital sex? Only liberals get knocked up? Only liberals walk through the door at Planned Parenthood? Only liberal women find themselves wondering if they should terminate a pregnancy? Please don't tell me you're so hopelessly naive that you believe that.

A couple of other points... If my fellow PTS'ers want to agree with me that's fine, but I speak only for myself.

1. I have no mindless loyalty to the Democratic party. 2004 was the first election when I actually chose a side. So if I take the Bush Cheney Administration to task for something they've done don't bother responding with something similar Clinton did, or Johnson or FDR. The Republican Party controls this country right now and for the foreseeable future. They control the federal government. They control Texas government. They control business at all levels. They control just about everything in the Panhandle.

2. It's Friday ya bastards:

Why We Must Fight: I am American

Every day . . .

Fighting the lies and repub spin the traditional media regularly churns out.

Fighting your fellow Christians when they say that America was 'founded' as a Christian nation.

Fighting when you get accused of being an Al Quada sympathizer and then fired, for having an Air America bumper sticker . . .

Standing up and calling bullsh*t on hate filled people like radical cleric James Dobson and this jagoff. (thanks to crooksandliars)

Fighting because you are called a traitor for having a leftie radio show, or comparing your political opponent to Osama BL . . .

Fighting because repubs will say anything to hold onto power, including a sitting vice president who says voting for John Kerry will bring on a terrorist attack . . .

Asking for a little balance and accuracy in the local frikkin' state-run paper for chrissakes . .

It's exhausting. It's maddening. It's easy to think of your opponent as the enemy after a while and not your fellow/sister American.

So here is the question . . . at which point do good repubs stand up and tell the fundies and far-righties that now dominate their party to act with decency and honor? That we are Americans first?

Don't hold your breath.

We saw the past few days that reasonable repubs like Curious Texan, will not fully denounce a bastard like Larry Kilgore, much less write a LTE to the Amarillo Globe News saying that sh*thead does not belong in his party.

Country club Repubs like Lou Dobbs have been trying to expose the Bush family connections on the smelly Dubai deal, but seen FOX do a story? Heard Hannity or O'Reilly discuss? NOPE.

Personally, you damn repubs have had your chance(s). For years now you could have stood up for conservative values. . . smaller gov't spending, no deficits, no wars of choice, keeping gov't out of people's bedrooms and lives.

But your silence has been thunderous.

Me . . . I choose to give no quarter. And since repubs control all three branches of government I make no qualms about it . . . for me repubs are the internal enemy tearing the country I love to shreds:

"A majority held in restraint by constitutional checks and limitations, and always changing easily with deliberate changes of popular opinions and sentiments, is the only true sovereign of a free people. Whoever rejects it does, of necessity, fly to anarchy or to despotism. Unanimity is impossible; so that rejecting the majority principle, anarchy or despotism in some form is all that is left." - Abraham Lincoln, first inaugural address, March 4, 1861

I fight because I am an American first.

-Prodigal Son

Thursday, March 09, 2006

bipolar politix

January, 2006: The S.O. seemed torn. She had just had dinner with her grandparents and had been discussing politics with her grandfather, always a questionable pursuit. They had discussed the Alito nomination, and she said it seemed like Democrats were bringing up a lot of old things that didn't matter, especially since Bush wasn't going to nominate any judge to our liking. She said he had tried 4000 cases and was therefore at least a qualified judge. I tried to explain why the CAP membership mattered, and that those 4000 cases demonstrated contempt for individual rights and an aconstitutional subservience to the executive branch.

And then she said it: I was telling her what I believed to be true based on the sources I read and her grandfather was telling her what he believed to be true based on the sources he read. Surely, she asserted, the truth was somewhere in the middle.

This—the truth is somewhere in the middle—is the great fallacy of our time. We should give it a Latin name and stick it on the list next to post hoc ergo propter hoc, and ad hominum. It's used all the time in discussions by perfectly rational people and extremely smart people (like the S.O.) and it's completely untrue. Truth is an elusive concept that sometimes lies in the middle, sometimes lies at the extremes and sometimes lies off the chart. You can't find it by simply dividing the difference between extremes.

Slavery is a perfect example. I hesitate to bring it up because I really don't want to spend days in the comments arguing about states’ rights and northern hypocrisy. Frankly, I find it amazing that I should have to spend time in history graduate classes down here begging certain people to acknowledge that slavery was even a peripheral issue in the Civil War.

But, whatever. That particular grudging acknowledgment is all I need, anyway. I'm perfectly willing to admit—for the sake of argument—that the North was full of closet racists and that all the kids in the south just loved their black mammies and really only wanted their lifestyle to be left alone by that mean mean Mr. Lincoln way up in Washington. Even if all that were true, human slavery was still one-hundred percent dead wrong and the closet racists and mean federalists who used it a wedge issue to destroy the southern way of life were absolutely, completely and utterly right about that one issue.

One side was right right right and one side was wrong wrong wrong. And attempts to find the truth somewhere in the middle led to monstrous notions like the three-fifths compromise. Furthermore the veritas in medias res fallacy (correct, if you can, my broken Latin) benefits the right wing more than it does us. Because the ideologues on Fox News and in this administration have steadily learned how to move the center farther and farther to the right.

Then there is the adversarial nature of boomer politics. Boomer activists on both sides grew comfortable with being at each other's throats during the Good Old Sixties. Younger net-roots progressive tend to believe that our philosophies benefit the most people and that they will realize this if we only find the right way to approach them.

Recent events on this site illustrate the dangers of bifurcated politics with a center rail that passes for “truth”. Larry Kilgore, gubernatorial candidate, advocated that homosexuals should be executed. I was appalled—and, yes, offended—by Kilgore's candidacy for the Republican nomination. He received fifty thousand votes, and I posted about his candidacy. My initial post assumed that most Republicans were not that radical and would kick Kilgore out from under their big tent.

I was disappointed.

Curious Texan— our most reasonable troll by a country mile—weighed in first by pontificating about our system’s tolerance for dissent and reversing the numbers (90% didn’t vote for him!). But then CT negated that last point by admitting to surprise that Kilgore had done so well, and asserting that he’d considered him a “side show”. But he stopped short of repudiating Kilgore entirely.

The real fun was yet to begin.

Celtictexan popped in with a demand that this “abnormal lifestyle” stop being “crammed down [his] throat”. He then proceeded to rant for two solid days. Curious Texan defended him at first, but then stated that celtic's racism had no place in today’s Republican Party. I kneejerkingly, reflexively (and wrongly) grafted celtictexan’s opinions onto the entire Republican party.

Both of our initial reactions were based on party extremes. Both were wrong.

I believe that Curious Texan and I are both reasonable people who could agree on many things in less charged environment. But in this world we have to defend our dawgs: and, in doing so, we both say things we don’t mean. You could split the difference between us, but where would that get you?

Look: Panhandle Truth Squad is a Liberal site. Not Leftist, not necessarily, not all of us, not today. But we’re always liberal, according to the old Age of Reason definition. And so are you. If we could all let go of the stereotypes and the hate, the kneejerking and the reactionism, we could find answers not in some ridiculous, trumped-up middle but in our minds and in our souls. If we could only—somehow—let go of Left and Right.


Wednesday, March 08, 2006

the quiet this time

Our Republican troll has been scolding gay people who want equal rights. Previous civil rights battles, he reminds us, were fought with "quiet dignity".

The civil rights marches of the 1950s and 1960s were quiet, polite affairs in which marchers gently asked The Man for equal rights and The Man wisely contemplated the marchers' request.

Equality was achieved without flamboyance or disruption of lives and no one had to go beyond societal norms.

The public behavior of all remained appropriate throughout the Movement.

And society changed without sacrifice . . .



Reading the comments over the past few days, a repub troll brought up an old post. I always liked this oldie but goodie after attending a serman at Church here in the heart of dixie.

After reading Spacedark's post about Larry Kilgore I wonder . . . was it really satire?


Reposted from November 11, 2005.

Dear . . .

. . . Rev Stan Coffey, AND Larry Kilgore

When someone tries to defend the homosexual agenda, like civil rights and other sissy Democrap stuff, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states that faggotry is an abomination. End of debate for those slack-jaw, gold lamee' shorts wearin', commie pinkos!

But since you are a holy man, I do need some advice from you regarding some of the other specific biblical laws and how to follow them.

1. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. Taking into account 2000 years of inflation, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness - Lev.15:19-24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking women at work, but most take offence.

4. Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Should I kill him myself?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination - Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?

7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play touch football if I wear gloves (Goatskin?)

10. My brother-in-law has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? - Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev.20:14)

Lovingly heterosexually yours in Jesus,
Prodigal Son

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

are there any queers in the theatre tonight? get 'em up against the wall!

First off, Anette Carlisle should've challenged Swinford as a Democrat. At least she'd still be in the race.

We were shocked, shocked!, that Republicans had insisted that they wanted change, wanted to turn the bums out, but had voted for Swinford and Tom Delay.

But it gets oh so much worse.

At this writing, Larry Freakin' Kilgore has 47,714 votes. That's 7.52% for Larry Freakin' Kilgore, who challenged Rick Perry for the Republican nomination. Larry Freakin' Kilgore. He's running in second place in the Republican primary.

It seems so quaint, so long ago and far away, that I expressed my disappointment that Brokeback Mountain hadn't won the Best Picture Oscar. Now I'm facing the reality that 7.39% of voting Republicans supported killing-- killing-- homosexuals.

That's not a dramatic overstatement. That's Larry Freakin' Kilgore's stated position. There is no way anyone can whitewash the fact that at least 47,714 Republicans supported killing homosexuals today.

How on earth could a reasonable person like Anette have imagined that she would prevail in a party like that?

We have a number of Republican trolls here at PTS. I have believed them to be reasonable individuals. For one thing, they are obviously not afraid to look a different opinion in the eye. And they have shown themselves in comments to be capable of judgment independent from their party.

Now is the time for such Republicans to stand up.

Almost fifty thousand of you have stepped into the voting booth and supported the execution of gays. That's not a statistically insignificant aberration. That's not a few radicals. Liberals have grown accustomed to taking boatloads of grief for the opinions of Wade Churchill-- a single individual. So reasonable Republicans will surely be responsible enough to disavow the fifty thousand among them who would murder all gay people.

We hear a lot about Godwin's law in the blogosphere and how we're not supposed to compare anyone to Nazis. But let's put this in perspective. Fifty thousand people is fifty people a day for almost three years. And here's what Arlo Guthrie had to say about "fifty people a day":

friends they may think it's a movement.
. . . and if it's a movement
. . . and if they want to start killing every-- single-- representative of groups that offend them . . .

Republican Trolls: for God's sake, take out your trash before we all regret not violating Godwin's law and speaking up when we had the chance.


Monday, March 06, 2006

local boy makes good

Here's a fella who was born into a "Christian family in Amarillo, TX in 1964". And he rose from those humble beginnings to run for Governor of the Great State of Texas. He's challenging Rick Perry for the Republican nomination. Here are some of his positions:

  • Execution for crime of murder including abortion.
  • Execution for crime of adultery.
  • Execution for crime of homosexual acts.
  • 1-40 lashes for crime of maliciousness, like graffiti, porn, strip clubs.
  • Eliminate TX budget for government indoctrination of children. (public education).
  • Texas should secede because the US has sealed its doom.
  • Illegal immigrants should receive a minimum punishment of five lashes, $3,000 fine & deportation.
If those punishments sound familiar, it's because he lifts them directly from the pages of the Pentateuch. He cites chapter and verse. It's hard to believe that this guy is for real, since his site reads like a parody posted by Prodigal Son. But the Dallas Morning News apparently thinks so.

At least he's not one of those hypocritical, backsliding RINOs.


sitting in the dark with strangers

I'm not sure what the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences did last night, but it is clear what they didn't do: they didn't deny the Best Picture award to a liberal polemic. The favorite, Brokeback Mountain, was a tragedy with a narrative that followed a convention thousands of years old. It was political only because its narrative was driven by the socio-poltical mores of our time.

The winner, Crash, required subscription to a belief most right-wingers would protesteth much: that every human transaction is essentially racial in nature. The movie's themes were overtly political and the direction made Oliver Stone look subtle.

I dunno. Maybe the wingnuts were right-in-the-wrong-way going into the Oscars. Maybe the Academy did want to make a statement. It wasn't the statement anyone thought they were going to make, but that's the onliest escuse I can think of for giving the Oscar to a film that was probably inferior to half a dozen movies last year.