“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"

Saturday, April 29, 2006

say no to war unless a democrat is president

It’s no secret that many members of my netroots generation—including such prominent activists as Kos—have come to doubt the efficacy of the rally/march model of political protest. Rallies so often seem to be social gatherings of people who already agree with each other. Generation Xers worry that they will send the general public running like Jehovah’s Witnesses are knocking on their doors. But this morning I learned that these old-school events so beloved by the baby-boomers among us are not complete anachronisms. They can still be effective methods to recruit new members to the Cause.

Witness this picture from this morning’s Rally To End The War In Iraq sponsored by Question War Amarillo. The young gentleman in the middle has never been to a Question War event but is obviously very dedicated to the cause. He clearly took time to prepare for the rally, going so far as to dress up in fatigues and a turban. He’s obviously much further out there on the left’s fringes than me. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

At the same time he’s an extremely partisan Democrat. His sign says “Say no to war unless a Democrat is President”. Again, I’m not entirely sure I agree: LBJ, for example, thoroughly botched an unnecessary war, and I’m not too sure about all of Clinton’s military actions.

Those reservations aside, it was great to see a new and committed face show up to protest this war this morning. Keep watching; we’ll have some more pictures up later.


Thursday, April 27, 2006

how you gonna stop the clock / when the well runs dry

Y'know, he reached his limit with me years ago.

But, in a Daily Kos diary, Kurt Kaletka reminds us that a vast majority of first-year congresspeople elected in the infamous "Contract On America" year of 1994 took a pledge to serve no more than 12 years.

They believed in term limits so strongly that they wanted to see it codified into the frickin' Constitution: Item 10 on the Contract read

This resolution provides for consideration of two joint resolutions which propose amendments to the constitution limiting the number of terms members of the Senate and the House of Representatives can serve. The first joint resolution (identical to H.J.Res. 38 as introduced in the 103rd Congress) limits the number of Senate terms to two and the number of House terms to six. The second joint resolution (identical to H.J.Res. 160 as introduced in the 103rd Congress) also limits Senators to two terms, but it limits members of the House to three terms. Under the terms of this resolution, the joint resolution with the text of H.J.Res. 38 will be debated first and the first amendment in order will be a substitute consisting of H.J.Res. 160.
The Representatives of the Class of 1994 have now served the six terms they swore they'd stop after. And most of them who are still in office are running for another term. And one of their number is quite familiar to us...

Rep. Mac Thornberry explains to a skeptical constituent why he will serve so many more years than he originally promised.

Rep. Mac Thornberry points to a bar chart. The long bar on the right represents how many more years he intends to serve. The short bar on the left shows how many years he originally promised to serve.

Rep. Mac Thornberry uses a graph to show how the number of years Republican reps are allowed to serve will steadily rise under the "Contract on America II"

Funny how term limits seemed like such a great idea to Republicans when Democrats were in power.



Inspired by blogarillo's comment, we are now able to show this hastily photoshopped picture of Rep. Mac Thornberry praying for guidance while an unidentified Republican donor shows him why God wants him to "continue his work." Note the divine glow around the wad of cash.

straw man, no straw

For some time, there have been those who believe that we should start putting our trolls to death. A number of our number have asked us why we continue to feed them. Just ignore him, they say, he’ll go away. Or ban him.

Wally, for example, has said:

Dudes, ban him or quit feeding him. Let the troll spew his crap somewhere else.
Iman has said just ignore him, he’ll go away.

Even the venerable Prodigal Son has said he’s tired of a specific troll and he should go back to freeperville.

I certainly sympathize with all of these opinions. At least one of our trolls is a savage racist who has no place in the polite society we’ve built here.

Nevertheless, so far we've taken a pretty laissez-faire attitude toward our trolls. For the most part that policy has worked for us. We've even found some common ground with the more rational wingnuts.

And, as for those with whom there is no common ground, I think blogarillo has had the right idea when he sais: Let the world see the unmasked face of the right wing. He may seem extreme, but he speaks for a great many people.

Thing is, if I were to create a straw man wingnut to argue against on this site, he wouldn’t be as batcrap crazy as some of this stuff spouted by the trolls in the comments. We get all of the advantages of inventing a straw man with none of the trouble. Also, our page views go up when there is controversy.

But what do we do when they cross the line and become personally abusive? My skin is as thick and prickly as a stegosaurus, but I hate to see commenters get harassed. Basically, there are four options:

I haven't started moderating or deleting comments or banning IP addresses yet, and, honestly, I'm struggling with it. This is a group blog and everyone should have input. Let me know what you think, in comments or e-mail.


anti-war rally

Question War Amarillo
A Rally To End The War In Iraq

Saturday, April 29, 2006, 10 a.m.
Centennial Plaza,
Buchanan St. and 7th Ave., between City Hall and Civic Center

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

fight the power on net neutrality

Net neutrality is essential to the operation of the Internet as we know it today. Essentially all data is treated equally whether you are Amarillo.com or panhandletruthsquad.blogspot.com. This allows equal access for smaller sites like this one and should be important to all who blog, comment, lurk, or even troll here.

Telecommunications companies like Verizon and AT&T are lobbying to change this in the new telecommunications bill. If they are successful, the sites you can access and the speed at which they load could be entirely up to your Internet provider. At worst, what used to be the Internet could look much like the old bulletin board sites like CompuServe, Prodigy, and the first iteration of AOL. And those sites went over like a . . . well, like something that didn't go over very well.

This isn't a partisan issue and the threat isn't just from Republicans. Save Daily Kos and Free Republic. Visit Save the Internet.com. Now.


Here We Go Again

We’ll be distributing the second issue of The Amarillo Independent Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning.

We take in in-depth look at the downtown task force and we covered Roger Waun’s presentation to the Potter-Randall Democratic Club. I’m sure he got all of three seconds on TV Monday night ¾ and I sure didn’t see any of my friends from the Globe-Republican, nor did I see anything on their Web site.

We’re at Hastings, Happy State Bank, Roasters, Big Texan, Hoffbrau and elsewhere. Pick up the paper and enjoy “Real News, Honest Journalism.”

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

pts poll: rock bottom

CNN is reporting that the Emperor W's approval rating has sunk to a new personal low: 32%. Even in Texas, only 41% approve of his performance. We wondered who the 32% and 41% were and conducted our own polls:

Q: Would you continue to support the Emperor if he ate a puppy on live TV?
No . . . . . 68% Damn straight! . . . . . 32%

Q: Would you continue to support the Emperor if God told him to sacrifice a young child, and he did?
No . . . . . 68% Damn straight! . . . . . 32%

Q: Have you been taking shots of vodka from a plastic bottle and smoking methamphetamine since 6:00 this morning?
No . . . . . 68% Damn straight! . . . . . 32%

Q: Would you continue to support the Emperor if he strapped you down and poured hot molten lava down your throat?
No . . . . . 55% You know it, boy! . . . . . 41%

Q: Would you continue to support the Emperor if he killed his father and married his mother?
No . . . . . 55% You know it, boy! . . . . . 41%

Q: Is that you, John Kanelis?
No . . . . . 55% You know it, boy! . . . . . 41%

(polling by spacedark)

Saturday, April 22, 2006

amarillo's first drinking liberally meeting!

On Friday, April 21, we had our first Drinking Liberally meeting at Bodega's and it was a rousing success. Pictures speaketh thousands of words:

Here's to Drinking Liberally! And here's to Prodigal Son -- thanks for the round of Shiner Bocks, Prodigal!

Friday, April 21, 2006

you know we'll meet again some sunny day

A group of thirteen prominent physicists have petitioned the Emperor W to halt any plans to bomb Iran with nuclear weapons and to announce that the U.S. will not nuke non-nuclear powers.

In World War II, after V-E Day, Leo Szilard, a Los Alamos physicist who had called for the development of an atomic bomb to counter potential German development of such a weapon, decided that it would be immoral to use the bomb against the Japanese. He wrote a petition to support that view and collected seventy signatures.

We know how that worked out for him.

Stay tuned for World War III.


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

It's Almost Here

Another voice — a progressive and kind voice — comes to Amarillo.

By tomorrow morning, some 30-plus locations in Amarillo will carry The Amarillo Independent, a free newsweekly, available for pick up. Some of those places include the three Hastings in Amarillo and the one in Canyon, the lobbies of the five Happy State Bank branches, M&R Liquors, the Ambassador, English Field Restaurant and Northwest Texas Hospital.

We’re starting small but look for in-depth coverage of the Texas Tech pharmacy school lawsuit and some coverage of the arts community. As we grow, we’ll do more investigative reporting and in-depth news on other topics. Our plan is to offer the community "Real News, Honest Journalism."

Enjoy the first issue and watch for a new one each week.

Three Signs That Your Superpower Is Becoming a Cheap Rip-Off of the Soviet Union

. . . care of the Rude Pundit:

"1. Members of the party in power pledge allegiance to their party's own symbol. At a GOP dinner in San Diego, the fine Republican attendees stood like good meerkats and began to say the Pledge of Allegiance until some observant Pavlovian diner noticed that there was no, you know, American flag to pledge to. "Pledge to the elephant," shouted one quick-thinking GOPer, and all the pledgers, including weepy Rep. Darrell Issa, turned to say the pledge to a starred and striped elephant banner."

Go Read Now. A glass of scotch can help here. . .

-Prodigal Son

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Friday, April 14, 2006

lead, follow, or get out of the way

It was the calm before the storm. At about 8:30 a.m., I went out into the halls of the high school where I teach. For two weeks, the kids had been talking ‘bout a revolution. They were going to walk out in support of . . . they were going to walk out against . . . um . . . well, they were going to walk out on this date at this time.

So I walked the halls. The administration had determined that the kids should just be allowed to leave without staff making a scene. They would be truant, but not punished in any other way. That was about the right level of reaction—they would incur the natural consequences about being absent from school, but not punished for political action.

So I walked the halls. My liberal bleeding heart had compelled me to work lessons on civil disobedience into the classes I was teaching about the Harlem Renaissance to the juniors. It had been harder to work it into the seniors’ class: they were studying Frankenstein. But, whatever. The juniors hadn’t been able to independently bring up any connections to what they were doing, and it was inappropriate for me to make that connection for them.

So in the end I walked the halls. And watched, and waited. And nothing. A few kids came out of class, looked around, looked confused, wandered aimlessly. The walkout fizzled.

It was exactly what I had, in my cynicism, expected. A couple of weeks before, the assistant principal had told me that this was being planned. I had told him half-jokingly that I didn’t think our kids had the initiative to pull of something like that. “To be honest,” I said, “If they did walk out, I’d be proud of them for doing something for once.” He laughed.

It was exactly half a joke and half serious. It was a difficult balancing act for me. I believe in the potential of civil disobedience in America. Hell, I teach it in Americana Lit. I did, of course, also have to uphold my responsibilities to the school. I couldn’t bring it up, so in class—in a foreshadow of Thursday morning at 8:30—I was left waiting for them to say something about it. To the few who did, I said that only they could decide what they had to do. I told them that there were always consequences for civil disobedience. MLK and Thoreau went to jail. Kids in Tiananmen Square got run over by tanks. They had to decide for themselves what they had to do. And inability to decide for themselves is this generation’s fatal flaw.

I never thought they’d pull it off. But I know what it takes to organize a political action. It isn’t easy. The kids who did walk didn’t have signs, flag, banners, or a place to go. Most importantly, they didn’t have leaders. A lot of kids had come to class obviously planning to walk. They sat in class in their “Mexico!” t-shirts and, when 8:30 came, did nothing. I’m convinced they were waiting for an announcement to come over the PA that it was time to walk out.

I facetiously suggested to the SO last night that I now believe that the kids who did walk out should be punished more severely, perhaps suspended. Because the administration’s policy—to give them a truancy only—was carefully crafted to avoid punishing them for political action. But there was no political action. They just walked out of class, that’s all. That, to my mind, is worse than a mere truancy.

In the end, I was saddened by the whole thing. The day before in my class, a couple of Hispanic seniors had argued. The girl asked the boy why he was walking out. He could really explain, mumbled something about how the government was going to kick out all the Mexicans, and ended up decided it was about “culture”. When it became clear that the girl needed a specific reason, and wasn’t going to walk out for culture, the boy called her a traitor to her people.

Both students were in class Thursday morning.


Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Dave Henry: Historical Hypocrite

Dave Henry recently asked:

When in this nation's proud history did immigration require schools to spend millions to educate students who cannot speak English (the Clovis, N.M., school district is offering $1,569 stipends to bilingual teachers because of the need). When in the past did immigration overrun the nation's emergency rooms with patients, many indigent or here illegally, and jack up the already-rising cost of health care? When did immigration require governments to produce documents in foreign languages, not to mention put blame on law enforcement for not being able to communicate in a foreign language? How about government services?
Of course there would be no U.S. of A. were it not for immigration, but Dave thinks ahead and answers his own question:
This is not the early 20th century. Times have changed.
Have times changed? There was indeed a time when immigrants were allowed into this country in droves. In fact, one now famous facility was set up to handle part of the influx - Ellis Island.

Hordes of European scum, probably Irish,
force their way into our beloved country.

Millions of European immigrants passed through halls of Ellis Island, being practically rubber-stamped into the country. I'm afraid I don't have the time to go digging around for ancient budget numbers, but readily available evidence suggests that a fair amount of money was spent on the facilities and personnel required to process all these immigrants.

Enjoy your potatoes, Seamus O'Fay! That better not
have come out of the taxpayers' pockets.

I'm not so doe-eyed as to believe that everyone welcomed the newcomers with open arms. There were people on both sides of immigration then as there are now. In fact, it seems the more things change the more they stay the same:

David Phillips Discusses the Chinese Question
Hinton Rowan Helper Opposes Chinese Immigration

Hostility towards immigrants is certainly nothing new:

We're all aware of the treatement the true first
immigrants received.

A family of African immigrants, who probably
don't appreciate the chance God has given them,
are processed in Richmond, VA.

Yep, you just can't trust the micks.

A Jap sympathizer prepares to be "Malkinized".

The fact of the matter is this nation has a long history of "catering" to non-English speaking people, be they legal citizens or not. In particular, bilingual education has been around for ages and certainly hasn't been restricted to Hispanics - A Timeline of Bilingual Education. Some cities offer their websites in multiple languages:

"Visit Amarillo" in German
"Visit Amarillo" in Portugese
"Visit Amarillo" in Spanish
"City of Dallas" in Spanish
City of San Francisco - Multilingual
City of Seattle - Multilingual

It isn't just government addressing this issue. Non-English newspapers are certainly nothing new.

A couple of old examples:

, which was published in both German and English in the past.

Il-Progresso Italo-Americano

A few contemporary examples:
Vietnam Daily News
Al Watan
World Journal
La Prensa San Diego

Truth be told, I agree that something needs to be done about illegal immigration. They are breaking the law, as are the people employing them. That fact is undeniable, but I have no doubt that the backlash against Hispanic immigrants is racist in origin. They are going to destroy our language. They are going to destroy our culture. They are going to destroy our schools. They, they, they... This anti-Hispanic sentiment is especially hypocritical when coming from Texans. Our state used to be a Mexican territory, for god sakes. Our own Amarillo takes its name from the Spanish word for "yellow".

Since I'm neither a bigot nor an isolationist, rather than rounding up millions of people for deportation I'd like to see our system streamlined so these people can be given legal working status and put on the fast track to citizenship, as has been done with the immigrants of the past. Hispanics represent a significant part of our workforce and we depend on them heavily. We should have a new Ellis Island to do the job.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Microcosm for US economy?

Enormous debt, leadership chanting that all is well as the ship goes down, shifty leaders looking more and more like they might get off scot free.

It must be sweet to be a big business guy: make millions of dollars, suck dry the retirement accounts of working guys, take "adventure" junkets to baja every other weekend, walk away with a bundle of money, make a deal with the government.

Lay and Skilling are as adept as their chum George W. at making themselves seem innocent, and making certain they didn't leave any smoking guns.

If you ever have a hard time believing that our country is full of greedy pigs that will do anything to make a buck look at this company. From top to bottom, investor to CEO, they did all they could to mislead and rip off the small guy. Sickening.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Check out Juanita's

From time to time, we like to post a link to Texas blogs.

Here's a goodun' from Tommy 'deep pockets' DeLay's home district by a blogger named Juanita, owner of "The World’s Most Dangerous Beauty Salon, Inc."

She has a great post about a DeLay supporters pushing around Nick Lampson folks.

Go there.

Nick is the Democrat running for DeLay's seat. Send him some Turkee

-Prodigal Son

Thursday, April 06, 2006

we don’t need no water let the m.f. burn

“This must be Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays.”1

Scenes from a West Texan Thursday:

10:40 pm: My fiancée calls to tell me to go outside. “Is the whole place burning down?” I ask. It isn’t, not yet, but outside, even in the city, you can still smell the smoke. My eyes still burn, and my throat is as sore as it has been since I quite smoking over ten years ago. My clothes—and even my car—smell as day-after smoky as a post-bar-hop hangover.

1:15 pm: Shortly after a kid asks, for the bazillionth time, what foreshadowing means, all of the electricity at the high school cuts out and remains off for half an hour.

3:15 pm: My cell phone starts playing Depeche Mode’s “Somebody”. That’s odd, because it means my fiancée is calling and she knows I’m in class at this hour.

3:20 pm: The math department chair knocks on my door. She tells me that Highway 285 is closed, all the way to Amarillo. Another math teacher who resides in our yellow city is on MapQuest.Com, she says, finding alternate routes. I send cute e-mails to everyone I know alluding to that damnable Tony Christie song. “Show me the way to Amarillo,” I type over and over, chuckling at my own cleverness.

3:35 pm: I close and lock my door and race the kids out of the building. I get in my car and head toward Channing.

3:37 pm: I realize that my front driver’s-side tire is flat and turn around to air it up at Allsup’s.

3:50 pm: On the road to Channing, fires rage in all directions. I’ve rarely been so scared and rarely wished so strongly that I had my camera. I can see billows of hellish red raging smoke and sparks of actual fire at all four compass points. I can actually feel an irregular heat in the car, and I certainly smell the smoke.

3:51 pm: The phone rings. It is another teacher, who tells me that they were advised to go the other way out of town, through Borger, and that the highway through Channing will soon be closed.

3:52 pm: I swear, and turn around. My dad calls and tells me that the fires in Hartley County – which I can see raging all around me – are contained, according to the scroll at the bottom of his screen.

4:00 – 5:00 pm: I stop in each town I pass through to put air in my tire. I watch the massive cottony smoke fumes rise over Dumas in my rearview mirror. On the phone, my father (age 66) scolds me (thirtysomething), saying I should have stayed in Dumas, but it looks from here as if Dumas is burning. Also the whole northern Panhandle. And the river basin.

Through Stinnett and Borger, the air clears, but I look west as I cross the Canadian River. An ginormous black mushroom cloud rises into an eerily blue sky.

5:25 pm: My son calls, wondering how he will get to his guitar lesson if I am not back in town. I am glad that he is so obsessive compul— responsible, but—I can’t work miracles, here . . .

5:40 pm: Driving on rims and unwilling to spend the time to put on the spare, I desperately search Panhandle for an air pump. I learn two things:

  1. Panhandlians don’t appeciate hearing “Where the @#$%^ in your @#$%^ing godforsaken piece of @#$%^ little @#$%^ing town is a working @#$%^ing air pump?,” and
  2. The only working @#$%^ing air pump in Panhandle is at a quaint little hobby shop called, swear-to-God, Buttons-n-Bows.

6:10 pm: For the first time in my entire life, I am glad to see Amarillo.


1 Douglas Adams, the true prophet.

you / you were acting like it was the end of the world

Years later, Biblical scholars reflected that the find had only been the first of a series of discoveries later named the "self-serving gospels". They included

  • the Gospel of George, in which God confirms that he did indeed tell the Emperor of America to attack Iraq
  • the Gospel of Osama, completed with 72 centerfolds
  • the Gospel of Tom, which excuses most sin as the result of a Leftist conspiracy
  • the Gospel of Virgil, in which God creepily condemns teenagers as "Painted Jezebels" and "Harlets"
  • the Gospel of Spacedark, in which Jesus says in bold red letters, "Yea, thou shalt find Truth on the Panhandle Truth Squad, even unto the End of the Age

Today's Top Medical Story

New Red, Blue Rings Found Around Uranus

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

all together now . . .

Paleontologist Neil Shubin's goin' straight to hell.

Just like Kent Hovind said.

(He said) You're goin' str-a-a-a-i-i-i-i-ght

To hell.


Time: Turning the Tables

I didn't want this one to get lost in the comments.

from: Time magazine

"And Democrats can't be accused of lacking ideas: many of the party's most prominent leaders are putting out long tomes detailing their views. Later this month, Ted Kennedy's book America Back on Track will lay out ideas to ensure universal health care for all Americans, and House Democrat Rahm Emanuel and former Clinton aide Bruce Reed will put out a modestly titled book called The Plan in August that includes ideas such as a national science and technology center modeled on the National Institutes of Health. Illinois Senator Barack Obama has told the Chicago Tribune his new book The Audacity of Hope, due out in October, will look to show how politicians can "shift away from ideological debates and focus on traditional American common sense."

By contrast, on many key issues, Republicans can't find much agreement. Moderates and conservatives in House will spend this week battling over proposed spending cuts in the budget, while Republicans in the Senate fight about immigration reform. President Bush's domestic agenda, from health savings accounts to a commission to reform Social Security and other entitlement plans, has drawn little enthusiasm on Capitol Hill."
posted by Iman

Monday, April 03, 2006

ding dong

...the witch is dead.


Fools to repair our schools

I'm thrilled to see we have some of our city's finest thinkers working on the problem of public schools. Virgil and Celtic should get together at one of the local coffee houses (no wait, too liberal)--waffle houses (less sissified, more manly, good conservatives don't drink lattes)--and pencil in ...er um... set in stone(I almost forgot we're dealing with divine wisdom in this case) the solution to the sticky problem of school finance and low test scores. I'm sure their combined experience in the field of education will stand them in good stead.

Meanwhile they should sleep at a Holiday Inn Express tonight and tomorrow morning call up Dubyah to solve the problem of illegal immigration (or if not solve at least figure out who to blame, i.e. blame Vicente Fox and liberals, though business owners certainly can't be blamed at all.). Lets see....tomorrow afternoon they can get down to the problem of the national debt(blame liberals and even though Reagan ran up 4 trillion, Dubyah Sr. another 2 trillion and Jr the rest, blame Bill Clinton as well), and just for grins around Letterman time tomorrow night after Virgil's bed time (Celtic is still up spending all that "hobby money"), Celtic can resolve the war situation in Iraq (if liberals would just shut up and get on board we would have kicked butt by now. Most Iraqi's really love Americans; just look at how well that sixty year old Palestinian thing has worked out. And remember how well we almost did with the Shah in Iran...we could do that in Iraq too, only this time we'll spend 400 billion a year for the next twenty years to make it stick. I'm sure the Chinese will lend us the money, at least until we gain Banana Republic status).

It's good to know with guys like Virgil and Celtic on the job we can all just relax...just like Hunter Thompson finally did.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

1 April 2006

Y'know, the Emperor W ain't so bad after all.