Archive for February, 2009

Funny Video Friday

Have at it!

GOP Rock

Clean Coal (directed by the Coen Brothers!)

Obama: Antichrist or Hitler?

Happy Friday, everyone!

Stronger Together

If you missed the President’s Tuesday tonight speech, here’s the gist of it:

Now is the time to act boldly and wisely – to not only revive this economy, but to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity. Now is the time to jumpstart job creation, re-start lending, and invest in areas like energy, health care, and education that will grow our economy, even as we make hard choices to bring our deficit down.

(video and transcription are available at Whitehouse.gov)

Obama’s approval rating should go up over the next few days as Americans watch and discuss the speech. He was clear, hopeful, and reached out to the Left and the Right. I’m proud that President Obama is keeping his campaign promise to change the tone in Washington.

And that brings me to what I find myself thinking about tonight.

As an entrepreneur, I find myself reading a lot of business books, many of which can safely be called “business motivation” books. Normally they’re corny as hell, and I have to put them down pretty quickly. Occasionally, though, one sticks with me for a while. Right now How Full Is Your Bucket? by Tom Rath and the brilliant Don Clifton is sticking with me due to its harrowing summary of Korean POW camps.

According to Rath/Clifton, the POW camps in the Korean war were not cruel in a physical sense. There was no physical torture, and the soldiers had food, clothing, and shelter. However, the North Korean camps had the highest fatality rate among U.S. POWs of any war, due to a cruel sort of reverse psychotherapy practiced by the North Korean captors. Soldiers were brought together in groups of a dozen or so and forced to reveal good things they didn’t do (but could have done), negative things about their fellow soldiers, and their own perceived failings. At the same time, good news in the mail from home was withheld, but bad news, bill collection notices, and so forth were delivered promptly to the POWs. These soldiers would often end up feeling totally disconnected from their fellow soldiers and countrymen — sometimes quietly dying in their huts, sometimes not even bothering to contact loved ones after surviving the war.

I find myself considering the story of Korean War POWs alongside the documentary I saw tonight, “Pete Seeger: The Power of Song.” The movie, as with Pete Seeger’s life (he is still alive and even performed at the Lincoln Memorial pre-inauguration concert) is all about bringing people together through song for common cause. His constant touring, education, and performance of folk music helped to expose the hypocrisy of the House Unamerican Activities Committee (HUAC), grow the civil rights movement, and force the cleanup of the Hudson River just to name a few. His banjo is famous for having these words written around it: “This machine surrounds hate / and forces it to surrender.” Pete Seeger is a living, singing embodiment of finding the good things we have in common and encouraging their growth based on a shared positive activity.

As we go through these turbulent times, watch to see who is positive and uniting, and who is negative and dividing. It’s not all one-side-or-the-other. However, right now Obama and the Democrats are leading in a big way when it comes to being positive, united, and forward-looking. Meanwhile, those on the far right will continue to attempt to shift the focus of our public discourse to those wedge issues that divide us.

We have more in common than we have in opposition. We are stronger together than we are individually. We live longer, happier, and more productive lives when we build each other up rather than tear each other down.

The way to beat this current economic crisis is to join together and move forward on those core public issues where we have both a strong consensus and a strong need to improve. Energy, health care, and education — as indicated by President Obama — comprise an excellent focus for our efforts. Investment in these areas will help our economy to recover, and, once we have weathered this storm, we will be a better nation for it.

Animal Shelter Public Meeting

Just a reminder to all my readers that there’s a public meeting to discuss building a new animal shelter coming up on Thursday night:

What: Meeting on the proposed animal shelter.

When and Where: Thursday, February 26, at 7:30 at the Groves Library, 5520
19th Street.

Speakers: Tom Adams, Deputy City Manager in charge of Animal Services
Todd Klein, City Councilman
Cile Redus, Humane Society representative to the Animal Services
Advisory Board

All are welcome. The more people that show up, the more the City Council and others will see that many, many voters care about the lack of progress on a new shelter.

Texas Progressive Alliance Round-Up 2/23/2009

Well, another week has passed, and once again it’s time for another round-up of posts by members of the Texas Progressive Alliance. Here are this week’s submissions:

WhosPlayin presents a short video about what oil and gas pipelines have done to Dish, TX.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme encourages adults not Republicans to frame and address the problems drug cartels bring to Mexico and the US.

BossKitty at TruthHugger is is angry that Texas Senator John Cornyn is still the handmaiden for the George W Bush catastrophe. Cornyn represents the extreme Right Wing faction that treats the US Bill of Rights as a nuisance. They still promote fear to acheive their agenda … Cornyn Wants Wi-Fi Spys - S.436 and H.R.1076. Under the guise of protecting America’s children from ‘domestic terrorists’, Cornyn wags his righteous tongue against privacy!

The Texas Cloverleaf talks about the possibility of a Sam Rayburn Tollway in DFW.

jobsanger posts about the conviction of Jim Adkisson, who entered a peaceful church with a shotgun and began to kill those he believed to be liberals in Right-Wing Hate “Warrior”, and says the hate-talkers of the right like Limbaugh, Coulter, Hannity, O’Reilly and others must accept their share of the blame.

This week, McBlogger took a look at the President’s housing plan and found things to like but one really giant thing to hate.

Neil at Texas Liberal writes about the frustrating choices light rail involves in Houston and recalls former Houston school Board member and council member Eleanor Tinsley as someone who thought that Houston had value.

Off the Kuff takes a look at the case against Justice Sharon Keller.

Industry officials expose environmental impact of Barnett Shale drilling rig. By TXsharon on Bluedaze: DRILLING REFORM FOR TEXAS

nytexan at BlueBloggin is appalled that The White House is involved in Karl Rove’s deal cutting with Congress. Obama, Like Bush, Seeks To Delay Rove’s Testimony. Like Bush, Obama is meddling with the operations of the Justice Department.

At Texas Kaos, Liberal Texan takes a look at what’s in the stimulus for Texas-you know, the the stimulus Rick Perry wants to piss away because it will hurt him in a primary for national office.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson discusses this sessions attempt at transportation financing, Enough of the half-measures and tinkering.

The connection between Texas’ junior senator, a Houston financier-turned-crook, and a beautiful Caribbean island is explored by PDiddie of Brains and Eggs in Cornyn, Stanford, and Antigua.

Vince at Capitol Annex notes that the kind of waste being deposited right now in Andrews County isn’t exactly what the legislature intended when — greased up with cash from nuclear waste interests — it passed a law in 2003 to allow the dumping of low-level radioactive waste in Texas.

Two Events This Week and a Video

Don’t forget that this Tuesday and Wednesday the Ogallala Commons conference about sustainable, regional food planning is taking place:

20th Annual Southern Plains Conference & Soiree
“Eat, Drink, and Be Merry…Re-Building Local Food Systems”

Tuesday - Wednesday, February 24 & 25, 2009
International Cultural Center
at Texas Tech University
4th & Indiana Lubbock, Texas

I hope to attend at least the opening lecture on Tuesday night.

Also, on Wednesday Feb 25 at 7pm, Lubbock Democracy for America will screen “The Power of Song,” a film about the life of folk hero and political activist Pete Seeger. Here are the details:

Type: Social Event
Event Date: Feb 25, 2009
Event Time: 7:00 PM CST (8:00 PM EST)
Venue Name: Lubbock County Democratic Party HQ
Address: 2809A 74th St
City: Lubbock
State: TX
Zip Code: 79414
Phone: 806-749-8683
Website: lubbockdemocrats.org
Hosted by: Lubbock Democracy for America

Lastly, check out this well-made video explanation of the credit crisis that a friend recommended to me:


The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo.

This stick figure presentation still remains my favorite explanation of our current economic mess, but the above video is pretty good too.

Lubbock Needs an Animal Shelter

What happened to Lubbock’s plans to build a new animal shelter?

Lubbock’s current animal shelter (pound, really) is not meeting the city’s needs and is actually a health hazard to any animal that enters the place. The walls are made of porous material filled with every kind of dog and cat disease out there. The ventilation is poor. The cages are overcrowded. Approximately 1,000 pets are adopted from the facility each year, and the Humane Society of West Texas finds homes for approximately 1,000 more through their pet adoptions every Saturday at PetSmart. Approximately 64,000 animals are put down each year in the current facility. That ratio is appalling.

I know there are folks on the City Council working to get the animal shelter project going. Unfortunately, there are those on the Council throwing wrenches in the gears too. The City had plans for a $6.5 million modern animal shelter in McAlister Park (Brownfield Hwy & Milwaukee, a great location for an animal shelter) ready to go, but they were scrapped. At one time, an argument was made that city services would have to be extended to the location, but that proved to be bogus. Later, a proposal for a $3.2 million shelter in the Heart of Lubbock neighborhood was advanced, but the citizens of that neighborhood opposed it. They had every right to oppose it, and I believe that the Milwaukee location is much better anyway.

I have my suspicions that, as is often the case in Lubbock, some developer or another was really driving the bus on this decision and steered the animal shelter away from the Milwaukee area.

Regardless of this project’s long and difficult history, we must not let it fall by the wayside. Getting a bond issue for a new animal shelter on the November ballot is the best way to show the Council that the citizens of Lubbock are serious about this.

If you want to get involved in advocating for a new animal shelter, there will be an organizing meeting at the Groves Branch Library (5520 19th Street) on Thursday, February 26 at 7:30pm. A petition to get a bond issue for a new animal shelter on the November election will be available to sign at the meeting.

Recovery.gov Launches

I’m seriously geeking out over the newly-launched Recovery.gov website, both for historical-political reasons and for web design reasons. It’s a beautiful website with video, interactive charts, drag-able timeline, blog, contact form, and all sorts of goodies. It’s like someone turned on the light after being in the dark for eight years.

I mean, look at this gorgeousness:

I feel the same way I do when a movie I’ve been wanting to see finally arrives in theaters, or when a band I like is going to play a show in town.

If reform can be a pop culture phenomenon, then it’s this.

http://recovery.gov

Texas Progressive Alliance Round-Up 2/16/2009

It is Monday, and that means it is time for another edition of the Texas Progressive Alliance’s Weekly Round-Up.

Off the Kuff takes a look at the early possibilities for the Democratic nomination for Governor in 2010.

Vince at Capitol Annex takes a serious look at Speaker Straus’ Committee Assignments.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wants to know howpolice officers can mistake a 12-year-old black girl standing in her own yard for 3 white prostitutes?

WCNews at Eye On Williamson has noticed there’s been plenty of misinformation about the the New Deal during the stimulus debate. This week was no different, Another misleading GOP talking point on the New Deal.

McBlogger takes a look at the current economic situation in light of renewed attacks on the stimulus plan. His conclusion is that you really shouldn’t listen to those on the right since they don’t, you know, understand what’s going on or have an accurate read on historical analogues.

Are you terrorized by Barnett Shale gas well compressor noise? If so, you aren’t the only one. TXsharon knows about a recent court case that might be helpful. Learn about it on Bluedaze then help us get OGAP here so we can rein in out of control drilling.

Possible KBH replacement, TX Sen. Florence Shapiro, does some political posturing with the new “MySpace bill”.The Texas Cloverleaf reports.

Neil at Texas Liberal reviewed structural causes of longterm poverty. Also, Neil determined that the song running through his mind for the past 20 years was Bring Me Edelweiss. It’s a song from an Austrian techno-dance group. Check out the video.

John Coby at Bay Area Houston thinks the leadership at the University of Texas is a bunch of Rotten Teasip Bastards and the Student Government leaders are a bunch of Teasip wusses.

DosCentavosopines onSenate Bill 320; a bill to require any Justice of the Peace in a county of 200,000+ to be a licensed attorney. And Stace is not happy at all about it.

jobsanger expresses his disappointment in Panhandle legislator Warren Chisum in “Chisum’s Law Is Abject Failure” and celebrates Chisum’s fall from his powerful chairmanship of the Appropriations Committee in “Chisum And Swinford Are Out”.

Xanthippas at Three Wise Men examines the claim that groups on the left are in the pocket for the Obama administration, and have sacrificed their credibility on issues like the stimulus package.

The two front-runners for the Democratic nomination for Texas Governor in 2010 are Kinky Friedman and Tom Schieffer. Seriously. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs has the details.

BossKitty at TruthHugger is is angry at the sloppy traffic cops we call the US Strategic Command. They oversee our Space Surveillance Network tracking thousands of pieces of space junk orbiting over our heads every day. So, is this just a movie to them? Shouldn’t they sound nsome kind of alarm when a collision is imminent? There is Serious Space Debris - US Command Fails Role As Traffic Cop.

WhosPlayin wonders why roadside puppy sales continue despite a new ordinance banning it in Lewisville.

The Story of Stuff

The Story of Stuff is the most succinct summary (20 mins) of our complex problem of consumption I have ever encountered. I’m just now discovering it for myself, so I thought I’d share. Over 4 million have already discovered this charming, compelling video narrated by Annie Leonard. Everybody needs to see it. It ought to be shown in schools, even.

A few of the problems addressed in this video include:

  • You cannot run a linear system on a finite planet indefinitely.
  • People are missing from the cookie-cutter explanations of how we get our stuff.
  • Corporations are becoming more powerful than nations.
  • Sustainable communities become slums over time.
  • Externalized costs — both economic costs and human costs — are killing us.

We need sustainability, equity, and a system of production and consumption that doesn’t kill us and our planet. If we focus on the big picture as well as the specific ways we can take action, then we can solve this crisis.

Seriously, if you only watch one video this week, make it The Story of Stuff.

www.storyofstuff.com

Cessna Ad as Metaphor

The above ad is so hilarious to me on so many levels.

First off, the timing. This is probably the worst time to try to sell a corporate jet. Cessna (which, overall, is a great company IMO) is having a very-brave-or-very-foolish moment here that we get to watch.

Second, the audience. I picture a CEO having a bad week, sitting in business class, flipping through his in-flight magazine, when he sees this ad. Maybe he cries a little into his tiny airplane beer.

Third, the language. Let’s have a look:

Timidity didn’t get you this far. Why put it in your business plan now?

Yes, timidity certainly didn’t factor into bringing us to the brink of financial ruin. A breakneck pace of bad investments, bad business decisions, and outright criminal/unethical behavior requires the same brave-but-stupid mindset that created this ad…

In today’s corporate world, pity the poor executive who blinks

…at the panel during the Congressional hearing.

The good news is, in trying times like these, fortune tends to favor those who make bold, decisive moves.

Oh good! This bodes well for our President and the voting public that put him in office.

It’s simply about adjusting, not retreating, starting with a good hard look at your flight department.

Replace “flight department” with “cabinet” and you’ve got another eerily prescient quote. (Good riddance, Senator Gregg!)

Because, in tempestuous times, leaders recognize it’s not about ego. Or artifice. It’s simply about availing yourself of the full range of tools to do your job.

Right on, Cessna ad. In that spirit, it’s time we started using government to solve problems rather than to create them. We will finally tackle the issues of our society rather than paying them lip service while systematically dismantling programs that could help.

Who knew there could be such wisdom from Madison Ave?


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