Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Monday, March 30, 2009


Last Friday night I took Sandy, my 16-yr-old son, to see "Gran Torino" and when old Dirty Harry Clint Eastwood snarls at some punks to "Get off my lawn!" I had to giggle and when I tried to explain to Sandy why that was so funny, he looked at me like I was nuts.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Further clarity

Very good article by Scott Horton on accountability.

Friday, March 27, 2009

She doth protest too much

In her best yet Nixon impersonation, Michelle Bachmann declares: "I am not a kook."

In case I haven't been clear

I'm glad that Barack Obama is our President. I don't agree with some of the things he has done, but I'm very glad that the Party of George W. Bush and John McCain and that is responsible for this:
UPDATE II: Knowing that exposure of its actions would prove its severe criminality, it was just recently revealed the Bush administration also tried to induce Mohamed to accept a gag order similar to the one Hicks accepted, whereby Mohamed would have been freed from Guantanamo last year if he agreed (a) not to talk publicly about the treatment he received and (b) cease all efforts to prove in court that he was tortured and/or to obtain documents proving that he was mistreated (h/t Jim White). He refused.

So: we put people into cages for years with no charges and tortured them, and then told them that we would release them only if they agreed to keep silent about what we did to them and renounce all claims for judicial accountability and disclosure. If they refused the vow of silence -- as Mohamed did -- they would stay in their cage.
is no longer in control of our government. The people who made the decisions which led to situations such as the one described above need to be investigated and tried for war crimes. We will lose whatever authority we have left as an advocate of peace, justice, and the rule of law in the world if we fail to do this.

Annals of Creative Writing

Actual headline on my hometown newspaper's website:

Toilet sausage chef causes prison unit evacuation.

Go ahead and click on it. You know you want to.

An adequate level of ridicule

Hilzoy attempts to respond to the Republicans' "budget".

Now, contrary to our little troll friend Mark's incessant assertions, I'm no fawning Obamabot and have been mightily disappointed (I'll have more on that second one, well, someday..) by some of his actions. But it is never difficult for me to keep that disappointment in perspective. All I have to do is remember that the alternative was John I-Don't-Know-Much-About-Economics-I-Just-Want-To-Bomb-Iran McCain, and I feel fine. Thank you very much.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tough Sell

Even in Texas (emphasis mine):
Ashcroft’s appearance was part of a blitz by former Bush administration officials to secure a good legacy for their boss. Both Vice President Cheney and former White House flack Ari Fleischer recently tried to justify the war in Iraq by falsely tying together Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda (again). Loyal Bushies have even started a Bush-Cheney alumni association to “help build a lasting legacy.” Karl Rove, the man behind securing Bush’s reputation, plans to release a book that will “name names” of all the Bush haters.
Yeah, I don't think there is enough paper in the world for a list that size.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I, for one, understand.

Steve Benen:
Listening to Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) talk about the economy, I keep thinking about this quote from Matt Yglesias: "Something I think most liberals don't understand is exactly how stupid many conservative leaders are."

Well, when you live in a state that's chock full of the likes o' TexasFred:

believeyoume, you come to understand the magnitude of rightwing stupidity.

Gene Does An Interview

My friend Gene of the aptly-named Happy Foundation conducted an interview of an aspiring City Council member, and emailed it to me. Let's take a look:

Interview with Chris Forbrich

Questions from: Margaret King Stanley, Bill Sibley, Naomi Shihab, Joan Grona and David Rubin.

Gene: Chris!!! Thanks for coming and letting me ask you art questions. Several important people have sat right there where you are and survived. You can sign your name to the couch when we finish.

Chris: Thanks for having me Gene. I have heard this is a famous sofa. It is so great to get to visit today.

Gene: Yes, it is! Ok, first things first. You have a degree in something. What?

Chris: I have a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree in Information Systems from the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Gene: Well, that sounds impressive. I'm sure people have run for City Council with less. I want to ask you some questions to educate our audience as much as help you get the artists' vote. So lets begin with the Hotel, Motel, Dotel Tax. How much about that do you understand at this point?

Chris: I have been doing my homework on this! The Hotel Occupancy Tax is a state law that allows county & municipal governments to collect a tax on hotel rentals based on price. The revenue that comes from this tax must be used for tourism. Based on San Antonio ’s Council-Manager form of government, there are some specific allocations that must be made for the Convention Center and visitor’s center of the city. Another common use of funding is for art. The intention of the funding for the arts is to encourage visitors to visit the city to experience the art community and their works. Many of the local artists live and create right here in District 1.

Gene: As well as District 1 has the majority of art institutions.


Oh I hear the phone already. Let me get that. "Hi Margaret!" It's Margaret King Stanley. She works with education with the Opera Guild. She would like to speak with you.

Margaret: Hi Gene. Hi Chris. I am pleased to know that you are committed to the arts. I do work with the Opera Guild and I am glad to say that the Guild recently welcomed over 1700 students in area schools to an opera performance at the Lila Cockrell Theatre. We provided teachers's guides and CDs of the opera in advance. The students were so attentive you could almost hear a pin drop at the three hour performance. Who knows, one of those attending may decide to be the next star of opera or Broadway. Do you agree that these activities are important for our children? And will you support such endeavors as a councilman?

Chris: Hi Margaret! This is a great program. Last night, while visiting with neighbors at Monte Vista's Third Thursday, several ladies were discussing this very event with me. Exposing children to the arts early on will help them have a better appreciation of artists, culture and creativity. Our school system has a strong focus on practical skills to prepare students for college and a career, but run short on funds to give the students a real understanding. As a councilman, I would fully support this and many other programs related to the arts.

Margaret: We believe the Guild's introduction to opera for these students is vital in their education and their future. Some of the kids had never been to a big theatre or heard a big orchestra before.

Chris: I totally agree. Opera, along with theater, sculpting, music, painting and other mediums for artistic expression are so important. Through middle school and high school, I was a violinist with my school's orchestra. The experience made a profound impact on my view of art. When I was in college, I had the opportunity to take a class on painting. Through these classes, I had first hand experience of what they meant and how talented those that perform them really are. Thank you for working with these children and making a difference in their lives.

Margaret: And Gene I would like to add this for people to think about. Today more and more scientists are proving how important the arts are to “brain power.” I understand that AT&T has stated that they “look for artists” to hire because creative types are the people who are needed to "fill the 21st century jobs." In March, 2008 the Dana Consortium showed that students of the arts outperform their non-arts peers on SAT tests.


Margaret: Yes, and recently, I heard Dr. Robert Duron, Superintendent of SAISD, say that he believes arts education drives academic achievement. So you are thinking in the right direction.

Gene: Thank you Margaret for calling. You always have great ideas to offer.... Well, while we are on the subject of education, I just want to say that I do believe in Intelligent Design, and the more intelligent the design the more I worship it. I just don't believe it should be taught in science class. They should be teaching it where it belongs, in art class. Which makes me want to ask; "Why doesn't every one of our schools have an art class?" Talk amongst yourselves.


I see we have Bill Sibley on the line. Hello Bill. You have a question for Chris?

Bill: Yes, Hi Chris. According to a recent New York Times article, states like Michigan are aggressively pursuing film productions by offering up to 42% incentive returns on production costs. How might we stimulate a similar economic package here in San Antonio to (once again) lure back those out-of-state film companies to come here and spend their money?

Chris: Hi Bill! What a great question. Bringing the film industry back to San Antonio is a great idea to stimulate the local economy and provide creative outlets here in town. There have been several commercial films that were shot here in San Antonio and it is a shame that more are not. San Antonio is so versatile. With many vacant buildings around town, the city should look at creating a partnership with landowners of vacant properties to provide some workspace for film producers. There are a number of things we can do for the film industry in San Antonio from public and private resources.

Gene: As you may know, Bill is a writer and has several film scripts to his name. I have an idea for you to help with your campaign. I picked up this brochure from the library about the book Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. This is the One City One Book program they do every year. What you need to do is carry a stack of these around with you and pass them out while you campaign. That is a way to make your run for City Council more interesting. That is one of the things I would do when I ran for Mayor on the Party Party Ticket, the artists' political ticket. That was in 1979. Maybe you could be a Party Party candidate.

Chris: These days, party politics are not allowed in city government, but I do want everyone to know that I am the pro arts candidate.

Gene: Well, it's not like it's a real political party. GIRRRRRRL!? Well moving right along.

Chris: Gene, what do you think attracts the arts community to San Antonio?

Gene: Sex. And money. And Mexican food. The same as everybody else. Now, you attended Luminaria. What was your opinion of that?

Chris: I think Luminaria is an innovative event for San Antonio. Walking through the different exhibits and performances showed the volumn of creative flare that San Antonio has. The crowds, from all over San Antonio, were able to experience our art community’s possibilities for all of its glory. Bill FitzGibbons’ work with light really started a movement in the city and one that I hope continues for many years.

Gene: You pick a topic. What event did you like this year?

Chris: There are so many presentations throughout the year. I enjoyed the On Fred Off Fred tour and the recent photo exhibit at the Joan Grona Gallery. I am hoping this weekend to see the Classic Theater's production of Twelfth Night at Jump Start Theater. I have heard promising reviews. Another event that I would encourage, and have been talking to residents in the Alta Vista Neighborhood about, is having an annual Acoustic Music Festival in San Pedro Park. San Pedro Park is our oldest park. Alta Vista neighbors want creative uses for the park and have suggested this festival.


Gene: Hi Naomi. It's Naomi Shihab, our favorite poet.

Naomi: I would like to know your honest thoughts about Main Plaza?

Chris: I think that Main Plaza was revitalized with the best of intentions. My issue is that the project creates traffic congestion, wheelchair accessibility problems, going grossly over budget, and it isn’t very green.

Gene: And you have an art statement. We need to know about that.

Chris: Absolutely. I want people to know that I am serious about the arts here in San Antonio. Just this last week, I issued a statement regarding my position on the arts. The statement, which is posted on my website at www.chrisforbrich.com, asks those that agree with my stance to email us their names and we will add their names to the platform. We have had an overwhelming number of responses regarding the statement.

Gene: Well, add my name. And about controversy in the arts. Every so often someone does something that upsets certain religious groups. And they start attacking the funding source. How would you handle a sticky situation like that?

Chris: Art can be controversial and I would never want to have the government tell an artist what is or isn’t appropriate. I do think though, that allocating art monies to neighborhood projects, festivals and community events is a good way to make sure that all points of view on a controversial piece are open and discussed. Interpreting the artist’s intent is part of the fun of it.


Gene: Hi Joan. It's Joan Grona with a question.

Joan: As you know, I have a contemporary art gallery at the Blue Star Art Complex. When tourists visit the gallery their complaint is that they could not get information on where they could find “Art” in San Antonio. They inquire at the hotels and the information center across from the Alamo. Can something be done about this?

Chris: Thanks for bringing that to my attention Joan. Concerns like these need to be addressed. I don’t know the answer right off hand, but I appreciate you making me aware of the issue. The first thing I would do is speak with the people at hotels and the visitors’ center and see what can be done.

Gene: Thanks Joan and I will see you at First Thursday. I do an art performance piece at her gallery openings where I pretend I'm a bartender and pour wine for her guests.


Gene: Hi David! Its David Rubin with a question. David is the art curator for SAMA

David: Currently, San Antonio is one of the few cities in the U.S. where the creative class (artists, poets, musicians, etc.) can afford to live and work. It used to be that way in San Francisco, but then the dot comers took over, rents went up, and the artists were priced out and had to leave. What will you do to prevent that from happening in San Antonio.

Chris: David, you are right, that is a real problem. Not only for the artists but for many people who are getting priced out of their neighborhoods. This will have to be a group effort. It has to do with realstate prices and taxes and I am open for any good suggestions. Artists need to take control of their lives as well as rely on others to provide opportunities. I would think the best place to start is to see what other cities have done and how those solutions fit San Antonio's needs.

Gene: Yeah! Artists are people too! Thanks David. I recommend the Richard Florida book, Who's Your City. And thank you Chris for adding your karma to the Chartreuse Couch and I'm sure all artists will be glad to know you will be our new councilman. I always let my guest have the last question. So you ask me something.

Chris: Gene, are you ready for a New Day for District 1?

Gene: I have been ready for a new day since day one.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sandy's Spring Break

My son, Sandy, went with his dad to Texas' beautiful Big Bend National Park last week for his spring break and, by all accounts, had a great time in spite of (perhaps even because of) some challenging weather conditions. Here are a few pix his dad sent me yesterday:

And, the object of their hiking and searching:

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

This red state is getting redder

Texas law makes it disgustingly easy for homes to go into foreclosure, but this is ridiculous.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

For Mark

Susan tells it like it is:
If a person has to tell you that he's a Christian, it's probably because he's not acting like one. It's that simple.
The more someone tells you how much they love Jesus and how you ain't being Jesus-friendly enough, the more you need to count the silverware when they leave.

Friday, March 13, 2009

They didn't notice the, um, smell...?

I love thrift store shopping - you just never know what you'll find. My friend Jeannette bought a pair of jeans at a thrift store the other day and found $10 in the pocket. Pretty good return on her $1 investment!

Overdue rampage

Jon Stewart didn't need no stinkin' guitar to deliver a well-deserved whuppin' to Jim Cramer's ass. Glenn Greenwald has indispensable commentary on this topic.

And speaking of rampages

Oh honey NO - NOT THE STRAT!!!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Rampages waiting to happen

When I read about incidents like this I think about TexasFred.

When I read about this I think about Lizzie Borden.

It just seems, sometimes, that a lot of these hideous events are more predictable than they appear to be. But I don't know quite what to do about that.


Okay, because I'm usually such a downer what with all my hysterical shrieking about war crimes and prosecuting Bush, I give you Giant Labias courtesy the ever-wonderful Scott who's a great guy even if he can't spell "brisket" but, what the hell, he's not from Texas.

It must be done

Note: The letter concludes with a call for what seems to be a draft. For a variety of reasons, I don't support a draft. However, there's a general principle that I think we can all agree on: the elite scum that indiscriminately advocate American aggression should be compelled, daily, to face the consequences of their decisions. We could start on that by bringing the Bush-era war criminals - and Bush himself, of course - to justice. Occasionally, I waver and think, forget punishment, we just need a Truth and Reconciliation Committee. Then I"m reminded, as I was by this letter, of the malicious, sadistic, remorseless murderous intent of these thugs and I know they must, somehow, be brought to account.
UPDATE: As if we needed it, Susan points us to another reason prosecution is desperately needed. Dear God.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Here's a surprise

I'm "extremely progressive". Okay, okay, I'm being just a tad sarcastic. Take the quiz and let's see how you do!

I'm on Spring Break this week and, as per Murphy's Law, after weeks of above-average balmy temperatures, we are having a spate of cold rainy weather. I guess I'm glad I didn't plan a trip to the beach.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Setting the record straight

Damn, it's good to have a president who speaks intelligently.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Religious Zealotry

There is much that is beautiful and admirable about the Catholic faith, but this isn't part of that picture.

UPDATE: As if we didn't know already how heinous the Catholic Church's position is on this issue, just to make it all really crystal clear, there is this (H/T Digby, emphasis in original):
The regional archbishop, Jose Cardoso Sobrinho, pronounced excommunication for the mother for authorising the operation and doctors who carried it out for fear that the slim girl would not survive carrying the foetuses to term.

“God’s law is above any human law. So when a human law … is contrary to God’s law, this human law has no value,” Cardoso had said.

He also said the accused stepfather would not be expelled from the church. Although the man allegedly committed “a heinous crime … the abortion - the elimination of an innocent life - was more serious”.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Who needs protecting, and why?

I'd really like to see a debate between these two.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

What Digby Said

Yet another edition, God bless her. Reading sanity like this makes it so much easier to bear the drivel that comes out of the wingnuts on the right. Really, it helps to know that there ARE people who get it, and are willing to say so.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Sully gets it (H/T Greenwald, and emphasis mine):
Just to recap: the last president believed that he had the inherent power to suspend both the First and the Fourth amendments, he had the power to seize anyone in the US or world, disappear and torture them, and ordered his legal goons to come up with patently absurd legal rationales for all of it. And much of official Washington carried on as normal - and those of us who actually stood up and opposed this were regarded as "hysterics".

Something is rotten in a country where this can happen with such impunity - and when, even now, highly regarded and respected journalists and commentators simply move on or roll their eyes or sigh world-weary sighs.

What we just lived through was an attack on the Constitution of the United States, conducted by the president and vice-president and an array of apparatchiks.The theory undergirding it renders the entire constitution subject to one man's prerogative. The conservative blogosphere - who resolutely ignored this in deference to their Caesar - now bleats about Obama's alleged threat to the constitution!

The one thing this reveals is the need for more information. The Obama administration did us a favor by releasing these memos. Release more. An Accountability Commission needs to get to work as soon as possible so that we can at least know what was done to the Constitution in the name of "security."Sunlight,please. More of it. The precedents that have been set are deeply dangerous to the survival of core American liberties. And if there were a conservative movement worthy of its name, it would be in the vanguard.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The cost of ignorance

Why does Texas have one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the nation? Because we're so damn liberal of course! If it feels good, Do It - that's our motto!