Monday, August 29, 2005


A Small Town Turns A Corner

About two months ago I wrote a post titled Stories You Won't Hear From Matt & Katie. It told the stories of two of my former students that were deployed to Iraq and their erratic behavior upon returning home on leave. To make a long story short, one of them tried to get himself arrested and the other tried to overdose on pills and alcohol. Both were trying to avoid returning to Iraq.

As I sometimes do, I cross-posted the story in the diaries over at dailyKos. As luck would have it, it made the recommended list. Glinda, one of the contributors there, asked if I would return to the subject and do a follow-up in a couple of months to see if the attitude of my town had changed any. So for Glinda, here's the follow-up.

Since my original post, it's been difficult to ascertain the mood of the town. On one hand, the support for the troops seems to be as high as ever. I'm still seeing those yellow ribbon magnets on practically every truck, car, and SUV in town. I've also seen an increase in the number of yard signs expressing support for a son or daughter or husband currently serving overseas. It appears as if everyone in town knows someone that is currently serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.

But on the other hand, I have seen a decrease in the number of pro-Bush yard signs. However, this may not be significant as it could just be that people were too lazy to take them down after the election and have just now managed to get around to it. But it does appear that the pro-Bush banter has died down a bit. But once again, that may be due to the fact that the fervor over the last election has finally subsided. As I said, it's somewhat difficult to tell.

But this past week, it all became very clear. Because of the large number of residents currently serving in Iraq, some of the community members have organized a support group. Calling themselves "Hometown Heroes," in reference to our sons and daughter serving overseas, the group organizes fundraisers in order to provide care packages for our troops and to throw receptions upon their return. It's really an admirable thing that they are doing despite their hawkish attitude toward the war. So it was with this mindset that I encountered them last Thursday.

The occasion was the hometown festival parade. I wasn't surprised to see the group's name on the parade roster . After all, the festival's motto had to do with honoring the flag. It looked as if the whole group was there. They all had shirts on proudly displaying the group's name on the front and the names of our soldiers currently serving listed on the back. Their float was adorned with flags and the insignias of the different branches of the military. Everything looked the way I would have expected. And then I saw the back of the float. It boasted a sign that stated in large letters:



I was floored. I had to read the sign several times before I could believe it. But it was true. There it was written in great big letters for all to see.

So maybe there's hope. Maybe enough has finally become enough. I never thought it would happen here, but it appears as though it has. This doesn't necessarily mean that the town is becoming any less conservative, but maybe more people are finally waking up to the fact that the emperor truly has no clothes. Only time will tell, but I think this is a good sign. Maybe the fog is finally lifting.

Thursday, August 25, 2005


"Sire, the Peasants Are Revolting!"

When you hold the highest elected office in the most powerful country on earth, people are compelled to give you the benefit of the doubt. Such is the case for George W. Bush. For the last four years, the states have gone along (maybe somewhat reluctantly) with the administration's policies. But not anymore. It appears as if the wheels may be falling off.

On Monday we learned that Connecticut was filing suit against the federal government over NCLB.

Then today we learned that several states have decided they can't wait any longer for the Bush administration to act on greenhouse gasses.

It's one thing when some of the people aren't with you, but now he can't even keep the states in line. Poor George. Only seven months into his second term and he's already being treated like a lame duck.

(By the way, bonus points to the first person to come up with the proper reply to the title of this post.)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


Pat Robertson - Following the Bush Example

Oh, the outrage! Oh, the indignation! How dare he? What was he thinking?

Of course I'm referring to Pat Robertson's latest foot-inserting gaffe.

(Of course this is just the latest in a long line of insane ramblings from Robertson. Keep in mind this is the same person who claimed that activist judges were more dangerous than the people who flew the planes into the twin towers on 9/11.)

As if on cue, elected officials began lining up to condemn Robertson for his remarks. Now don't get me wrong. I'm not criticizing our elected officials for condemning Robertson. He deserves to be condemned. His statement was abhorrent. But when I hear members of the Bush administration say things like "[Pat Robertson's remarks] do not represent the views of the United States," I have to take issue with that statement. Surely, they must be joking.

Join me, if you will, for a brief trip in the way back machine. Destination: March 20, 2003.

Decapitation strike. You know and I know that's just a fancy word for assassination. When the Iraq war started, we tried to assassinate Saddam Hussein. Now whether you agree with that move or not is entirely up to you, but don't try feeding me that bullshit about Pat Robertson's remarks not representing the views of the United States. Not only do we condone assassinating leaders that we don't agree with, we freakin' tried it. True, it didn't work, but that doesn't change the fact that at one time (very recently, I might add) we tried to do just what Pat Robertson is currently advocating.

As repulsive as Robertson's statement was, I find it even more repulsive that anyone from the Bushco war team would pretend that the idea was unthinkable. Their feigned outrage is just as embarassing as crazy Pat's ranting.

Monday, August 22, 2005


Dear Readers,

Truespeak will be changing its format. With the start of the school year upon us, things have become quite hectic here at kissfan manor. My teaching assignment has changed this year and I am also taking classes toward a Master of Science degree. So between work and school I'm forced to prioritize my time to best meet my commitments: family, work, school. Unfortunately, that leaves precious little time for sitting in front of the computer musing on politics.

Don't worry though, Truespeak is not going away though the frequency of my postings will have to slow down. So from now until further notice, I may not post every day. I will, however, try to post as often as possible.

That being said, I want to thank all of my readers (even the ones I disagree with politically). I truly enjoy your comments and suggestions. I will still be stopping by your blogs as often as possible.

So for tonight, I'm going to refer you to something I found extrememly amusing. As many of you know, I listen to Rush Limbaugh whenever possible. I find his rants entertaining in a twisted, masochistic sort of way. Therefore, Kieth Olbermann's smackdown of the aforementioned blowhard makes me smile from ear to ear.

Go read the whole thing. It's worth it.

See you soon!

Friday, August 19, 2005




All I can say is it's about time someone finally admitted that they screwed up. It'd be nice if it was someone with a little more clout, but hey, small steps. So, who's next? Anyone? Beuhler? Beuhler? Anyone?.....

Have a great weekend! See you all on Monday.

Thursday, August 18, 2005



If nothing else, Cindy Sheehan has accomplished two things down in Texas. First of all, she has torn away the mask of compassion from the faces of the Republican masses. O'Reilly, Coulter, Malkin, Limbaugh, all of them have savagely attacked this grieving mother for daring to question the administration's rationale for war. Furthermore, Bush refuses to meet with her, the rest of the talking heads are verbally assaulting her, and the crazies have resorted to vandalism and threats. So much for the compassionate wing of the conservative party.

The other thing that Ms. Sheehan has accomplished is that we are once again discussing when it would be appropriate to withdraw the troops. And in doing so, she has once again put the pressure on the administration to make a choice. Of course the administration claims that we will see the mission through. (Translation: We're riding this piece of shit all the way to the bottom.) But now others are starting to voice their opposition as well. Today, Sen. Russ Feingold actually proposed a date for a complete troop withdrawal.

But it's not just the Democrats that are starting to see the light. Republicans are too. Sen Chuck Hagel, from the dead-red state of Nebraska, thinks it's about time we started to bring them home.

Of course the Bush administration is responding to the pressure with their standard answer.

Does anyone really believe that if we said we were pulling out by the end of 2006 the violence would stop? I find it highly unlikely that the insurgents are going to just kick back and relax and wait us out. What a preposterous notion. At this point, Bushco pretty much has to stay in Iraq. Any wavering on their position and the whole facade will crumble. But the pressure's building and the public's confidence is waning.

This could be a real drag on the entire Republican party come 2006. Any Democrat running for office needs to capitalize on it. Now.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005



Earlier today, Markos from dailyKos posted a list of quotes from famous Republicans concerning President Clinton's commitment of troops to Bosnia. Some of them were real gems. Some of my favorites:

But this started me thinking about my favorite quote from George Bush. You may remember it. It comes from October 3, 2000. It was the first of the three debates between Al Gore and George W. Bush. The question had to do with the use of military force.

If it weren't so damned infuriating, this would be the funniest statement I've ever heard. Instead it makes me want to scream.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


Democrats Heart Veterans

While the Bush administration's FY2006 budget may mean deep cuts in veteran's benefits, it's nice to know that someone is still looking out for their well-being. Who is it, you ask? Why it's Illinois Democrats, that's who.

It's about time somebody addressed this issue. Too many of our soldiers are coming home without the necessary means to cope with what they've been through. It's good to see that someone cares. Despite all of the talk that we hear from the right about honoring our servicemen, it's the Democrats that are really doing the work to make sure they're taken care of.

Monday, August 15, 2005


Justice Bat-shit Crazy Sunday II

(I heard that Fox is considering making this into a reality series. They're thinking about calling it When Wingnuts Attack.)

In case you missed it; and let's be honest, with all of the excitement surrounding the upcoming Iraqi constitution, it was really easy to miss; yesterday was Justice Sunday II. It was a gathering not to be missed. Speakers ranged from the raging ideologue to...well...another raging ideologue. But hey, they had a great name for the whole thing: "God Save the United States and this Honorable Court." Because, ya' know, those liberals that control our government are going to run this country righ.... huh? Oh wait, never mind.

Boy the line-up of speakers was great. They had James Dobson and Tony Perkins and Chuck Colson and Zell Miller and, of course, Tom DeLay. I mean, really, it wouldn't be a party without Zell and Tom, now would it? But hey, we could marvel over the list of speakers all day, so let's get to the actual message. What was it these gentle God-fearing men had to say?

For those of you without your Bat-shit Crazy/English dictionary handy, the literal translation of the above statements is as follows:

(Okay, I made up the part about robed bastards. There's really no word in the Bat-shit Crazy language that translates as bastard, but you get the point.)

Basically, these people aren't satisfied with what they have. They're greedy. They want more, more, more. They don't like to be told no and they're going to yell and scream until they get their way. Well, at least they're mature about it.

There's one thing I don't understand about all of this. This is supposed to be a religious group of people, right? These are the evangelicals and the Christian leaders of our time, correct? If that's the case, why haven't they read the Bible? I'm pretty sure that Jesus had something to say about all of this greed and power-lust that they're exhibiting. Hmmmmm... let's see..... What Would Jesus Do?

And the list could go on.

You know, it's too bad when those who claim religion the loudest, ignore the teachings of the very book they shove in the face of America in their attempts to gain control. If I didn't know better, I just might call them hypocrites.

Friday, August 12, 2005


Last Stop!

We've done abortion, education, Iraq, and civil rights. Each one of which is important to the Democratic party in its own right. But tonight the bumper sticker campaign closes out with an issue that I feel deserves more attention: Election reform. I believe that this is a much more important issue than any of our elected officials are making it out to be. Why? Because all of our elected officials won. When you win you don't question the results.

With today's technology it would seem that we could come up with a verifiable way to count the votes in this country. When I go to the ATM I get a receipt that tells me exactly how much money I withdrew and how much money is left in my account. Why can't I get a paper receipt when I vote? Of course the argument is that it would compromise the secrecy of the vote. But that's only if I'm allowed to take the receipt with me when I leave. Here's my proposal. With all electronic voting machines there needs to be a printout. This "receipt" would serve two purposes:
  1. The voter would be able to verify that the vote they cast was properly registered
  2. The "receipt" could then be deposited in a recepticle to be used for a hand recount if the need arises.

In my opinion, election reform could be the issue that re-connects the Democratic party with average voter. If the Democrats would push for election reform that included verifiable paper trails how could the Republicans oppose it without looking like fools. Once passed, it could virtually ensure that every vote cast would indeed be counted. Who doesn't want their vote to count? (Not to mention, it would alleviate all those pesky little voter fraud cases that seem to be dogging the Republicans lately.)

So for the final challenge, we need a bumper sticker that sums up the need for election reform. Something that expresses the need to count every vote and the urgency of the situation. I think that this needs to be a major platform for the Democratic Party in the months to come. Force the Republicans to either ride our coattails or get backed into the proverbial corner.

So let's hear 'em.

Have a great weekend and I'll see you all back here on Monday.

Thursday, August 11, 2005


Bumper Stickers IV

And the campaign rolls on.

Campaign log - Day 4

After stops in Abortionville, Education City, and Iraq, the campaign tour rolls into Civil Rights Square as I continue in my attempts to refine the Democratic message down to a few succinct but memorable slogans.

One of the most precious gifts we have as Americans is the Constitution and it's first ten ammendments. Although it has been misused, misinterpreted, and misrepresented by many over the years, the original intent of this document was not to restrict what the people could do, but what the government could do to us. Therefore, I find it preposterous that some of our lawmakers would even consider an ammendment that would restrict certain individuals from marrying. What's next? Telling us where we can live and work?

The Democratic party has long been the party of civil rights. But that's boring. What we need is a slogan. A short, memorable statement that can fit on a bumper sticker. Something that will make the evening news. Something that expresses our outrage over discrimination and oppression. Something that cries out for equality across the board.

So here is challenge #4. What would you put on your civil rights bumper sticker?

BTW - The best suggestion so far for an Iraq bumper sticker has been "Iraqmire."


They're Fixed!

Haloscan commenting has now been fixed and placed at the end of each post.


Wednesday, August 10, 2005


More Bumper Stickers (Day III)

And the campaign rolls on. In an effort to refine the political language of the Democratic party, I'm looking for a few slogans that will fit on bumper stickers and succinctly sum up the view of the party. So let's see, we've talked about abortion and education, so now let's move on to Iraq. (BTW - The best slogans from the last two days have been: "SAFE, LEGAL, RARE" and "He can't pronounce nuclear and we're using his education plan?")

Despite all of the "last throes," "turning the corners," and "winning of hearts and minds," our soldiers are still dying in Iraq at an alarming rate. This month alone we've lost another 38 of our sons and daughters. The experts now think it was a mistake, the outcome is in serious jeopardy, and even the parts of the country we are supposedly in control of are in chaos. Yet we can't seem to get hardly anyone, even in the Democratic party, to stand up and say in no unmitigated terms, "This was a mistake!" If any of them would simply admit that they screwed up, the healing process could begin.

At this point, I don't think there's anything that we can do to actually "fix" the situation. We've gone beyond that. It's like putting the toothpaste back in tube. (As the Rude Pundit likes to say, "You can't un-fuck the goat.") But unlike before, the public is now on our side. According to all the latest polls, the public's support for Georgieboy's handling of the situation in Iraq now stands at anemic levels. And as demonstrated by Paul Hackett's approach in Ohio, the public is ready for a candidate that has the balls to stand up and speak out strongly against the war. So the time is right. We need to take advantage of the current mindset.

So here it is. Challenge number three. What can we put on a bumper sticker that will convey our feelings about Iraq in a short, quick memorable way?

Take it away!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


Bumper Sticker Campaign Day II

Yesterday I began my weeklong bumper sticker campaign. The idea is that the Republicans have mastered the technique of what I call bumper sticker speaking. They respond with short, mono-syllabic sentences to the tough questions. Things like "pro-life," "mission accomplished," "last throes," and my personal favorite, "No Child Left Behind." It doesn't have to mean a damn thing and is most often untrue, but it fits on a bumper sticker, can be made into a soundbite for the evening news, and can be easily used in commericals.

Yesterday's topic was abortion, (and judging by the less than enthusiastic response in the comments I'm forced to think that we may be in trouble) so today I'd like to discuss education. How do we counter NCLB?

Let me give you a little background first. My first experiences in teaching came in the Aldine Independent School District in the northeast section of Houston, Texas. What I saw there went against everything I had ever been taught about education. It was a system of high-stakes assessment with the teachers bearing the sole responsibility for failure. It was eight straight months of preparing for a single test. So I left. Now, imagine my horror when George W. Bush declared himself a candidate for the presidency and one of his platforms was education reform. I knew what that meant. Little did I know that this would be only the first of many many points on which I would disagree with this man.

But back to the problem at hand. The Republicans now control the political language thanks to the brevity of the American attention span. Therefore, No Child Left Behind strikes a chord. It sounds like a wonderful thing. It's short, easy to remember, and implies that the former administration was doing just that; leaving children behind. But we know that its bullshit. Continual testing of our children does no more to address the educational problems faced by our nation than the constant shouting in the ear of a deaf person does to address hearing loss. We're approaching the problem from the wrong side.

The basic premise behind NCLB is that by focusing on the output, we can improve the input. But as they say in the technology field: G.I.G.O. (Garbage in, garbage out.) This is not to imply that our teachers aren't doing a good job, but it's meant to show that the input will always determine the output. So, in my opinion, the focus of education reform shouldn't be on testing, but on fundamentals. By getting control of the input, only then will we be able to control the output. But with the focus on the other end of the equation, too many schools are foregoing the extra time needed to master the basics and are focusing on test materials. It's akin to building a house on a foundation that's only half done. However, this doesn't fit on a bumper sticker.

So here it is. Your second challenge. What would you put on your education bumper sticker?

Monday, August 08, 2005


I'm Back! (And I've Been Thinking)

You know, vacations are always great. Even if you don't go anywhere, it's relaxing to know that you have nothing to do. The kissfans did go somewhere, though. We went to St. Louis and took in a Cardinals game (they won) and then we went back to our hometown and took in a minor league ballgame (they lost). We celebrated the youngest kissfan's birthday (it was a Star Wars party and he had a blast!) and basically I just laid around the house, read two books, and commented on others' blogs without the pressure of having to post on my own. But while I was away, I began thinking about things. The direction of my country and the direction of my party in particular. And it all started with a bumper sticker.

As I drove into St. Louis on I-70 I saw a car sporting a bumper sticker that said "Pro-Choice Democrat" and I thought to myself, "Aren't we all?" Is there really anybody that would rather see a child aborted than adopted? Is there anyone who cheers when a woman chooses abortion over adoption? I, personally, don't know of anyone that does. But to hear the conservative extremists talk, abortions are like taking a shower. It happens every day and nobody really thinks about it. So this started me thinking, "How did it get to be this way? How did the right manage to distort the views of the left in such grotesque ways?" And it can all be summed up in one word: language.

After the election, I spent some time talking about what I thought the Democratic party needed to do in order to regain some political control. The first thing I said was that we must control the political language. Abortion is a perfect example of how we've previously lost this battle. What are we known as? We're the "Pro-Choice" party. Sounds good, right? We're for choice. By default that sould make the opposition the "Anti-Choice" party. But no, they're the "Pro-Life" party and by default that implies that we are "Pro-Death." It's all in the syntax and sometimes the more important part of syntax is what is implied rather than what is said.

So how do we do this without looking like we're trying to ride the coat-tails of the Republicans? By claiming to be a "Pro-Life" Democrat this woman was basically saying that my party is wrong on abortion. So we need something else. We need something that says we don't favor abortion, but we intend to protect the woman's right to make her own decisions concerning her body.

The general consensus seems to be that we would like to keep abortions legal but rare. While that sounds great, it doesn't fit on a bumper sticker very well and, let's face it, we live in a bumper sticker society. If it won't fit on a sticker, the average person isn't going to remember it later. This is what got John Kerry into trouble. He didn't speak in short mono-syllabic sentences like Bush did. He didn't speak in soundbites. Therefore, he looked bad on the evening news going into some long, complicated explanation about a particular issue. While the issue at hand probably required that long, complicated explanation, people lost interest after the first few words. They want short, sweet, and memorable. They can't remember things like this:

Although I think that was one of the greatest answers I've ever heard from a politician concerning abortion, people don't remember that. It's too long and complicated. It requires thinking and reasoning. What was Bush's response?

Even though it's total bullshit, people can remember that. The evening news can make a soundbite out of that. The PACs can make a commercial out of that. It means nothing, but it would fit on a bumper sticker.

So this week I want to discuss some of these issues. Issues like abortion, education, Iraq and others and I want to hear your ideas on how we can regain control of the political language. What can we put on our bumper stickers? Each day this week I'll throw out a new topic and leave it up to you to discuss. At the end of the week, we'll see what we've got and determine what we can do with it. So let's hear it people. What would you put on your abortion bumper sticker?

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