Saturday, June 27, 2015


Sen. Cruz, Gov. Abbott with AG Paxton, Lt. Gov. Patrick
Conservative outcry over the past week's Supreme Court rulings ensuring the survival of Obamacare and enshrining Marriage Equality as a fundamental right reached a fever pitch in Texas today as Governor Greg Abbott let out what state Attorney General Ken Paxton described as a "Rebel Yell" calling for secession from the United States. 

"Aside from dragging our feet, Ken here says we've run out of legal options," said Abbott. "What I am suggesting here is really not new, but is a time-honored approach that honors our heritage. We are calling for other Republican-led states who share this heritage to join Texas. This new nation will not just be free from Obamacare. It will be free from any healthcare coverage whatsoever for poor or middle class people. However, we will provide universal coverage for Reparative Therapy. That will resolve the so-called 'Marriage Equality' issue."

At the press conference in Austin, Ted Cruz resigned from the United States Senate and withdrew his candidacy for the Republican nomination for the President of the United States. Instead, he offered to serve as the President of the new nation, what he termed the "Neo-Co
n." He called for his former rivals for the Republican nomination including Rick Perry, Mike Huckabee and "Bobbie" Jindal and Jeb! to join what he said was "the ultimate destiny of the Republican Party." 

"It's really what you might call the ultimate 'Southern Strategy'," said Cruz. "No more fooling around with code words and dog-whistles." 

When asked about whether GOP Presidential hopefuls Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson, too, would be invited to participate, Cruz pointed to other contrasts setting the Neo-Con apart from the United States.

"I'm not sure whether women and African Americans will be allowed to vote much less hold public office," Cruz said. "I'm sure there are those that will misconstrue this, but what we're about is heritage, not hate." 

Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said that he, too, wished to take a leadership role. 

"I'm not sure about a title for what I have in mind, something Old Testament to be sure. You know - 'Protector of the Faith' - that sort of thing," Patrick said. 

Patrick added that the Supreme Court's rulings simply precipitated what seemed to him to be an inevitable showdown following the coming Presidential election.

"Hillary is going to win anyway, and so we may as well secede now."


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Monday, January 19, 2015


New Horizons here, too.
Just a few loose ends to tie together here. I won't be posting regularly anymore in that I am about to pursue another project that will be consuming much of my time. 

What's left? 

Well, the long-awaited deep-dive into the Texas Tribune's ethics - that is long overdue. I've done significant, original research to fulfill my promise to numerous members of the community to get to the bottom here. I believe I've come to a comprehensive understanding that puts this in a context lacking in what I've seen elsewhere.

I'll also likely check in on occasion to chronicle the turn in the Texas economy. Is my thesis about the oil crash triggering a failure in the state's population-Ponzi scheme right? We will see.

Meanwhile, I've trimmed my archives here since the details of the past political season are like clouds passing in the sky. What's more substantive for me and my ongoing work is media criticism. I've kept those postings, as well as a few other chestnuts.

So, this isn't quite goodbye. Still, thanks to all that helped with this little project, and to the gentle readers that gleaned some small value from it.   


Tips? Suggestions? Ideas? Drop a line to carl (at) inanityofsanity (dot) com

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Reality writes the sequel to Grieder's work
Forget the economic indicators, the sure sign that the so-called 'Texas Miracle" is set to tank is Erica Grieder's reassurances that, really, there's no problem.

Like Rick Perry and The Texas Public Policy Center, trouble with the Texas economy puts Grieder's reputation at risk. Best known for her book about the "strange genius" behind the "Texas Miracle," what if the "genius" is really little more than a dressed-up scam?

Now, I've written extensively before debunking the "Texas Miracle" - in fact, that's how I launched this blog. More recently, I raised doubts about the endless bonanza promised by fracking proponents. Now that the boom is turning to bust (albeit for reasons other than I suspected), the upshot is simple: the whole house of cards will likely come down. I give it about 18 months.

But how can that be? Grieder says that the drop in oil prices won't trigger a deep recession like what happened in the 80's because the state's economy is now more diversified ---

The problem is that this diversity is largely illusory. Yes, Texas has changed its core business from oil. But it has been replaced by something even more unstable and unsustainable. Texas is now in the GROWTH business. If the steady stream of people into the state stops, it will fold like a Ponzi scheme. You see, Ponzi schemes, too, are in the growth business. Such schemes falter when the growth slows. Collapse comes when the reality that it depends on unsustainable growth cannot be ignored.

Grieder & DeVore: separated at birth? 

Till now, the state's remarkable growth has been based on an unsustainable business practice. The low costs that have attracted people comes from exhausting the vital infrastructure needed to sustain growth. Now, deferred costs for transportation, water, power and education are coming due. For the past few years, the oil boom allowed the Perry regime to put off this day of reckoning. Now, the drop in oil prices will bring the long-deferred moment-of-truth. 

So it won't be the oil bust that brings a deep recession to Texas. That's merely the trigger that will take down the Texas GOP's unsustainable growth scheme.

It's unfortunate that little of this was part of the public debate in the recent election. 

What of Gov.-elect Abbott, the "continuity candidate" assuming office to carry out what essentially would be Rick Perry's 4th term? He's akin to the hapless Herbert Hoover taking the helm from Calvin Coolidge as the Roaring 20's peaked. In 1928, Hoover enjoyed a landslide victory (nearly 20 points) over the Democrat opposing him. After the Crash of '29, the country had to wait till '33 to get leadership capable of addressing the problem. 


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Wednesday, October 22, 2014


"All the Presidents Men": a pale imitation of Bradlee's reality
It's a sad day in the media world. We mark the passing of Ben Bradlee, the legendary editor of the Washington Post, and note the decrepitude that now defines the industry. 

Dave McKinney's resignation today from the Chicago Sun-Times shows how the mighty have fallen. Here in Texas, Greg Abbot's laughable endorsement by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram shows what happens when the Fourth Estate stops questioning the powerful and engages in wishful thinking instead. 

First, there's little for me to add about Bradlee that David Carr hasn't said in his beautiful tribute that puts the man in the context of the business. is tough to imagine a newspaperman ever playing the kind of outsize role that he once did in Washington. Newspapers, and people’s regard for them, have shrunk since he ran The Post.

David Remick's recollections, too, are not to be missed. Others will likely be sharing their experiences. But what is his true legacy?

Remembering Bradlee takes us to a bygone era when his wielding of the First Amendment fulfilled the vision of the Founding Fathers. He and his intrepid reporters proved mightier than the corrupt and crazed Nixon White House. After, conservatives vowed NEVER to allow that to happen again. Since, they have successfully created an alternate media universe, essentially a Black Hole cut off from reality that encompasses much of talk radio, Fox News and the various "think tanks" and the like that feed them fodder for the faithful.

But what of the so-called "mainstream media"? The intense gravitation of the dark forces affect them, too. Worse, perhaps, are the financial travails that have trashed the business. The relentless need to placate a divided populace so as not to alienate audiences makes it difficult to say much of anything worth hearing. 

That was Then - and Now?

During my time in Illinois this summer, I watched the barrage of billionaire Bruce Rauner's advertising filling the airwaves in the hotly contested Gubernatorial race. Now, his campaign is in a statistical dead-heat with incumbent Pat Quinn. In such a situation, reputable and disreputable characters are scrambling to tip the balance by giving the undecided some reason to vote one way or another.
How Rauner would run Illinois?

Now, a detailed, well-researched piece unflattering to Rauner has hit the streets, a joint investigation by the Sun-Times and NBC5. All those sharing the byline, Dave McKinney, Carol Marin and Don Mosley are seasoned, reputable reporters.

What the investigative report did was offer the voters a window into Rauner's business practices. Apparently, threats and intimidation are tools of his trade as was alleged in a lawsuit filed against him.

...Rauner told another board member if Kirk sued over her firing, "I will bury her ... I will bankrupt her with legal fees. I don't know if she has a family or not but if she does she better think twice about this.

Wow - quite a get for these reporters, right?

McKinney's smile has soured
Well, not so much for Dave McKinney, the chief statehouse reporter for the Sun-Times. After threats and intimidation from Rauner's campaign, his paper pulled him from the beat. Oh, and the paper reversed its policy to not endorse candidates by I even have to say who?

What's McKinney's reply? He's quit the Sun-Times, but not without unleashing a broadside. He details what went on behind-the-scenes to arrive at this conclusion:

Readers of the Sun-Times need to be able to trust the paper. They need to know a wall exists between owners and the newsroom to preserve the integrity of what is published. A breach in that wall exists at the Sun-Times.

It’s had a chilling effect in the newsroom. While I don’t speak for my colleagues, I’m aware that many share my concern. I’m convinced this newspaper no longer has the backs of reporters like me.

Meanwhile, in Texas...

The Star-Telegram's editorial board's endorsement of Greg Abbott, too, is telling. Or, actually, shocking.

Ultimately, the race must hinge on leadership. The candidate best able to outline and articulate an inclusive vision for all Texans and then lead the state in that direction deserves to be governor. The Star-Telegram Editorial Board believes that candidate is Greg Abbott.

Hmmmm...the Texas GOP that has done everything it can to gerrymander and voter-suppress minorities has "an inclusive vision for all Texans and (will) lead the state in that direction"?


Next whopper:

It’s important to note that despite his close association with Gov. Rick Perry, Abbott would be a departure.

What evidence does the Star-Telegram muster to substantiate this claim?

...a careful look at his website reveals a series of thoughtful and thorough policy prescriptions...

Sorry, this fellow has a lengthy public record that should be considered more authoritative than campaign promises.
Like Duvall, Abbott has stood behind his Boss

As noted elsewhere, Abbott is properly deemed a "continuity candidate." If elected, he's essentially another term of the Perry regime. He's like Robert Duvall's character, Tom Hagen, in The Godfather. He's the mob attorney that's engineered the operation faithfully. So what happens if he gets to run the racket? 

Where the endorsement goes completely over-the-top is with this wishful thought:

The questions surrounding his lack of oversight of the Texas Enterprise Fund are troubling. He will have to reassure Texans that he is committed to leading an accountable and transparent government.

Sorry, but a Ben Bradlee wouldn't think that the proper "answer" to questions of Abbott's fundamental lack of integrity here - and possible criminality - isn't "reassurances" that he isn't a crook. And a newspaper's role isn't to swallow such self-serving pabulum whole then spew it out. Those questions demand REAL answers...and REAL newspapers do the hard work to get them.


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Sunday, June 22, 2014


Now, a year on
This week marks a year since the fracas in Texas went into full-gear with Wendy Davis' celebrated filibuster. 

I happened into it almost inadvertently. I had been following the rumblings building up to it. I watched what happened with the "people's filibuster" that had gone on in the days before. Hundreds of activists poured in to testify against the Texas GOP's anti-abortion legislation. The idea was to go the distance with the Far Right legislators, force them into exhaustion with testimony around-the-clock. What got my attention was the anti-abortion zealot's response - axing the public's right to give testimony. 

Many women who had traveled great distances to share their heart-rending stories were sent away. What did the Texas GOP accomplish by this?  They put the lid on the pressure cooker and turned up the heat. I made my plans to attend the real-deal filibuster. I managed to finish my work early that afternoon and headed over with some camera gear at around 3pm.  

The outrageous conduct of the Republican senators stays in my mind. It was clear that they would stop at nothing to stop Wendy. Decorum? Tradition? Basic respect? Forget it. They showed themselves to be bullies intent on humiliating a political enemy. When things didn't quite turn out the way they expected, their bellyaching after about being bested by a breach of decorum was laughable.

AAS's Arnold Garcia's laconic style
In any case, I tried putting this experience into perspective in the Austin American Statesman. I submitted "Of Mobs & Millennials" and it was accepted immediately. Usually, I'd honor the publication by simply providing a link here. Unfortunately, my piece didn't survive the editing process whole. Through some editing error, the concluding paragraph somehow got axed in the print edition. Numerous kindred problems plagued the online version. Despite repeat requests to get these sorted out (they did manage to correct their misspelling of ""Legilslators" that had been in the title), it still sits mangled on their website. For example, instead of opening with my opening, a paragraph removed towards the end (at the request of the editor) somehow appears as the opening sentence!   

So, here's what they published under the headline "Legislators hear roar of Millennials" - as intended.  Does it hold up? 


Of Mobs & Millennials
                                                       - By Carl Lindemann

Who is behind the “unruly mob using Occupy Wall Street tactics” that shut down the Texas Senate? It isn’t Wendy Davis. The Republican Establishment has worse to fear. What they heard wasn't just a few young women rattling the rafters. It was a shout-out from the millennial generation.

Millennials are the more than 100 million Americans born from 1983 to 2003. They like to vote. With each passing election cycle, millions more of them can and do go to the polls. According to the Center for American Progress, millennials accounted for 20 percent of the ballots cast in 2008, some 25 million nationwide. In 2016, that should grow to 33 percent, 46 million ballots.

That millennials are ethnically diverse and politically progressive does not bode well for the status quo in Texas. In 1988, conservatives outnumbered progressives here by 14 percent among 18- to- 29-year-olds. In 2008, that shifted drastically, with progressives leading by 9 percent — a 23-point swing. Millennials are a lost generation to the GOP that has hitched its wagon to aging white tea party members.

The one ray of hope for conservatives is abortion. Millennials have the same mixed feelings about it that their parents do. But millennials have little interest in the Culture Wars that have divided us into red and blue states. Despite deep differences over abortion, they won’t let it split them.

Are millennials an unruly mob? Making noise inside the Capitol is nothing new to Austin’s contingent. Hundreds gather there regularly to “Om the Dome.” They sit in still silence meditating for the better part of an hour, then let out a joyful sound that reverberates throughout the building.

This isn’t just an Austin thing. It is an offshoot of MedMob, a quintessential millennial phenomenon that started here in 2011. Since, it has spread worldwide. Its mission? The “unification of our inner selves in public spaces.”

MedMob goes about this through “flash mobs,” albeit of a different sort than the carefully choreographed street theater often posted on YouTube. MedMobs are organized only to the extent that they synch-up over 300 cities on five continents. Maybe you’ve seen a horde of 20-somethings congregating calmly on the ground downtown. That’s it.

So millennials aren’t an unruly mob. This crew just operates by a different set of rules. That explains what happened in the Senate last week. The young women in the gallery held their breath and noses witnessing a brutal beat-down on Wendy Davis. In the end, it was a matter of conscience. They could not just stand by watching such injustice. So they shouted with a great shout and the wall came down.

And about the “Occupy Wall Street tactics”? That millennial signature shout comes from being close-knit. They are tribal at heart, communitarians. Their connection with Occupy, a protest organized by middle-aged anarchists? For most just a passing phase, a first few stumbling steps into politics. Now they are beginning to find their own feet.

While Republicans feel the heat in Texas, Democrats will soon have their turn. President Obama is not the man millennials hoped for when they took him over the top in 2008. Consider his penchant for punishing whistleblowers. Though Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden may be an anathema to the Washington establishment, they are millennials par excellence.

Politicians of all stripes should brace for the coming quarrel with millennials. The first clash will be over the crushing weight of student debt. They will revolt against backbreaking interest rates on these no-risk loans. Those holding the paper will get payback — but of a different kind than the windfall profits they expect.

More immediately, during the special session, Republicans might remember one thing while plotting revenge on the upstarts that upset their agenda. The issues alone didn’t send millennials into a frenzy over Occupy.

It was the cavalier way issues dear to them were cast aside. Being brusque now is the sure way to elect Wendy Davis Governor - if not in 2014, then in 2018.


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Sunday, June 8, 2014


One of the great disappointments of the Internet Age has been the failure to create forums to foster respectful, insightful debate and discussion. Trolls trash conversation in a give-and-get that's an "eye for an eye that leaves the whole world blind." 

TribTalk's editor, David Muto, has the challenging task of extracting civil discussion from the toxic stew that is Texas politics. The Trib is working with University of Texas' "Engaging News Project" to see about developing new strategies to unlock the potential that has, thus far, been untapped. 

This project is, by design, a work-in-progress. Like fracking, the techniques now deployed may have unintended consequences requiring attention. Thus far, one post in particular seems particularly problematic. If, as Muto says, his goal is to foster "thoughtful and courteous discourse on the issues that matter," this needs to be addressed.

GOP "Apologist" Sylvester

There is no way for us to hold the moral high ground if our tactics include name-calling and sexist attacks, even though those tactics are often used against us.

So this is an "apology" for an Abbott supporter's violation of the norms and standards for civil behavior? 

It begins by accusing Democrats of "name-calling and sexist attacks." This thinly-veiled hit-piece goes downhill from there. The specious spite spewed under the guise of Christian Charity alternates between finger-pointing and finger-wagging. 

Among the gems:

  • Democrats "may be as committed to their faith as (conservatives) are," but you'd never know it. 
  • Wendy Davis is a "big-government-supporting tax-and-spender" promoting "over-the-top pro-abortion positions."
  • Davis' supporters at her "pro-abortion filibuster" were "hateful, in the true sense of the word."
  • "Our liberal opponents frequently litter their arguments with name-calling and condescension, for which they often get a pass." 
  • The Democrat's "fast-talking spokesmouths have adopted sarcasm and hatefulness as a communications strategy." 
  • "...outnumbered Democrats rambled on for hours, alternating between falsehoods, hyperbole and cheap shots" at an unnamed committee hearing last legislative session.
On top of all this, Sylvester offers a revisionist history aimed at discrediting Leticia Van de Putte. She says that, like Wendy's other supporters at the filibuster, the Senator was also hateful and contemptuous. Her celebrated moment that night calling out GOP bullying? Just "crowd-pandering and (an)opportunistic comment."

This is "thoughtful and courteous discourse on the issues that matter"???

When I first saw this piece, I simply posted a comment providing a link to my original reporting on the Abbott supporter's abortion prank. Then, after some reflection, I figured I should weigh in on this in some detail. I didn't want to simply expose Sylvester's "apology." The "issues that matter" here? How to take her "discussion" to a different level and a different direction?

It seemed to me that this raises the problem of Christianizing for political gain. I submitted "The Naked Narcissism of Public Piety" Friday morning. Yes, it's a pointed piece - provocative, in fact. I was careful to strike a proper tone, an appropriate match to Sylvester's.

Late in the afternoon, I got my rejection from Muto:

Thanks for submitting! Unfortunately, we only have room for one or two guest columns per week and this doesn't fit our editorial needs right now, but thanks for your interest and keep us in mind in the future.

A structural problem needing adjustment
As a professional writer, I live with rejection. No big deal. Move onto the next pitch! But I see a structural issue here. If they publish the likes of "The Problem with 'Abortion Barbie'," then they should reserve space for rebuttal above-and-beyond online comments. No, they don't have to take MY piece. But someone should be able to respond, at the very least like a letter to the editor.

So I wrote back:

I DO hope that someone will be permitted to answer Ms. Sylvester's hit piece in some detail. That really is necessary.

I'm not sure if you're aware of how inflammatory her accusations are - like characterizing Wendy Davis as "pro abortion" - that's really over-the-top.

I know that you're just getting started, but if you allow third-parties like that to do surrogate work for campaigns, it seems appropriate that there's balance. 

Let's see what Muto has to say. Honestly, I think he was mistaken to publish Sylvester's hit-piece in the first place. It has NO PLACE in a publication fostering "thoughtful and courteous discourse on the issues that matter." But, having made the mistake of accepting it, will TribTalk accept its responsibility to offer "thoughtful and courteous" rebuttal?


Tips? Suggestions? Ideas? Drop a line to carl (at) inanityofsanity (dot) com

Friday, May 16, 2014


When life imitates art, we need Gilda most
Saying fare thee well to Baba Wawa

I'm tone-deaf to the fanfare for the end of Barbara Walter's run on television, from an era when news was of crucial importance to an age of irrelevance. I'd credit her with pioneering the irrelevance.

Did I miss something?

Walters never really did it for me. I don't think I was able to bring myself to sit through a complete interview she conducted. That's quite an accomplishment. Despite my personal distaste for Rush Limbaugh, I have spent afternoons listening to him, appreciating his talent as a broadcaster. But Barbara Walters? She seemed little more than a publicity gimmick, a tune-out. Maybe her early stuff on the Today Show was significant. By the time I knew of her, she was better known for spoof than substance. Gilda Radner played Baba better than she did.

Now, that being said, there is ONE thing I'd like to hear from Walters - her interviewed by the superb Terry Gross. Yes, a little "Fresh Air" - a clearing of the air - would be in order. How does this icon of the television industry explain the decline of her profession, how it coincides with her career? If at all possible, Gross has what it takes to bring us to such a momentous moment of truth. It would be quite something to see Walters pressed to the point where she'd come clean the way, say, Lee Atwater did.

Of course, that's all a fantasy. Once again paraphrasing Erich Segal, being Baba Wawa means never having to say you're sorry.

What if you threw a protest & no one showed?
Speaking of non-events in our Age of Irrelevance, today's "Operation American Spring" exposed the limited numbers and commitment of the Far Right crazies that should be little more than a sideshow in today's political theater. Of the tens of millions that were supposed to show in D.C. today, the actual number was, er, somewhat smaller.

This clip from this more hysteric than historic event is telling. How to explain the abject failure? Check the rap that starts at about a minute into it as this women tells of the flooding that trapped the multitudes nearby from making it. Raised on Fox News and the like, this person apparently thinks that any BS will suffice. Do you suppose it's odd that all those people, surrounded by rising waters, should go unnoticed elsewhere. It much be another conspiracy of the Mainstream Media to deceive the American People. 

Not an Amateur Hour contestant
Speaking of the failure of the mainstream media, I was shocked by the New York Times' Edward Wyatt's Judy Milleresque reporting on the FCC's giant step towards turning the Internet into a cable TV-like big media vehicle. 

James Hepburn beat me to the punch on Daily Kos with this, so let me simply affirm his observations. I had the same experience receiving the NY Times' summation the other day about the march towards Net Inequality, what will follow fast as Net Neutrality is abandoned at the request of the large media conglomerates. I read the Times' story and had this sense of cognitive dissonance. "Did FCC Chair Wheeler do an about-face?" I wondered, reading the lede. Wyatt first reported that

The Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 Thursday to move forward with a set of proposed rules aimed at guaranteeing an open Internet, prohibiting high-speed Internet service providers from blocking or discriminating against legal content flowing through their pipes.

Would it were so! Instead, his reporting is a grotesque misrepresentation of reality as easily debunked as the hordes of "patriots" trapped by phantom waters in our nation's Capitol.

Later, the Times apparently set out to sanitize this mess by rehashing the story into a tale about different ideas of "Net Neutrality:

Federal regulators appear to share one view about so-called net neutrality: It is a good thing. But defining net neutrality? That is where things get messy.


If there was confusion here, it seems to have been on the part of the reporter. What's incomprehensible is that Wyatt's no rookie. He has nearly TWENTY YEARS at the Times covering this beat. This isn't a new story, nor is it confusing. In fact, it's clearly defined - or should be to any competent reporter assigned to write about this.

Net Neutrality: not news to me
Looking back to an interview I had with Vinton Cerf back in 2001, the issues were already obvious:

CL: But the FCC does not have the same regulatory responsibilities over the Internet as it does radio and TV.

Cerf: That’s been a subject of some discussion and debate. (FCC Commissioner) Harold Furchtgott-Roth would agree with you. But others would say that it does and that, for now, they’ve just held off regulating to let the new medium grow.

We could have a good debate at NAB2001 (National Association of Broadcasters trade show) if we could get Michael Powell to come out. He’s going to be under pressure because of a kind of schizophrenia that strikes Republicans. They’re split between a desire for a hands-off regulatory attitude and a concern for content – an outrage over the fact that certain things are found on the Net.

CL: What about concerns about free, open access as media giants like AOL/Time Warner try to direct those online to its content?

Cerf: AOL/Time Warner will have to skirt that with some care. Otherwise, we’ll be moving back to the time when the movie studios owned the theaters and would only play what they had produced.

So I'm going to reach out to the ombudsman at the Times. Let's see what they have to say for themselves.

Finally, another suppressed story. Or is it repressed? The BIG news overlooked from Wikileaks is that, apparently we are NOT alone. That is to say, the space aliens have been a part of our lives for some time. Or, well, supposedly that's what the diplomatic cables are about, but maybe not.

Maybe Edward Wyatt should be reassigned to this beat to clarify the matter. Using the same talents that brought us the good news about the FCC, he could also make headlines the way Orson Wells once did in bringing The War of the Worlds to life.  

Tips? Suggestions? Ideas? Drop a line to carl (at) inanityofsanity (dot) com