ctrp 314 What is Behind the Texas Secession Movement?

by bicyclemark 3 Comments

None of them were alive the last time Texas was located outside the borders of the US, but they’re demanding to go back to that status. They’re angry at the Obama administration, frustrated with the United States, and lately – they’ve managed to get a bit of national attention.  They are the Texans calling for secession from the United States, and Forrest Wilder of the Texas Observer has been looking into who they are, the issues they’re concerned with, and just how far they might get.

His blog Forrest for the Trees on the Texas Observer site

We mention the Texas National Movement

Forrest’s video of a recent demonstration

*Note: file codes for my program will from now on start with ctrp.

Dangerous Bananas

by bicyclemark 3 Comments
Banana Memo

Banana Memo

My buddy Lucas was telling me that he digs the site, but that I move from topic to topic too quickly for him.? Usually I listen to comments like that, say thanks, and then go back to doing my own thing, my way. But Lucas is a good man, who may be on to something.? Perhaps another step in my evolution as a citizen reporter will be to keep the focus on one topic, or at least a small amount of topics for an extended period.? Examples for this year, GMO agriculture, environmental crimes in Europe and North America, and perhaps the one I will start rolling out this week: Bananas.? (although I still maintain that its my site and a big world and I do what I want!)

You heard right on that last part: Bananas. Naners. Beloved fruit of millions if not billions of people, but lesser known for being one of the leading causes of suffering and political chaos in the 20th century.? And of course they’re not finished yet.

Lets set the stage for this issue, because its far bigger than our friend the banana. Its about

Before Rove, Atwater

by bicyclemark 1 Comment

There was a statement that caught my attention as I rode through museumplein in the middle of the night recently, listening to the latest edition of On the Media.? They were talking about the late republican strategist Lee Atwater, who Ive always remembered as the guy who trained George HW Bush in 88 to stand up straight to look tough in debates, and use divisive attack ads to destroy his opponent.? The item was about his legacy, and it was interesting to hear a specialist on his life and work talk about how he had been friends with Karl Rove and championed the playing upon people’s fears in a political campaign.

At one point they mention that many people saw what came after Atwater as a marketing of a candidate using sophisticated polling and focus groups. Something that would later be championed by the Clinton campaigns and set the pace for the next decade.? But they added that this most recent election, might have signified a return to a more grassroots direct-to-the people style politics.

All this reminded me of Century of the Self, Adam Curtis’s excellent documentary, which now more than ever deserves to be watched.? One can only hope an update will come soon.

Work on the Candidate

by bicyclemark 18 Comments

Many of you know I’ve lived outside the United States since late 2001.? If I were trying to seem poetic or sentimental I would mention that it was 2 months after 9/11.? Or I would bring up the extreme difficulty and hostility I experienced trying to do research as a freelance journalist into the disappearing immigrants of Arab descent.? But thats not really it either, the reasons I left are more complex and less dramatic.

Still throughout the last 7 years I’ve often wondered if a change of president would make it more appealing to live once again in the US.? But I can also tell you that one thing I’ve figured out for myself is that the president is not what is wrong with the United States.? No the problems go beyond the white house and beyond politics.? So a change of president does not equal a change in culture… things don’t happen that quickly or easily.

Speaking with one of my most valued friends back in NJ today, he said to me “Obama mania is sweeping the nation man… its going to be great.”? To which I responded “Just because there is Obama mania does not mean things will be great.” Which is the response I feel I need to give more and more these days.

Like his profile? Sure why not. Plenty to like about that life and family history.? Like his speaking style? Most of the time, although if we’re honest with ourselves we know that 75% of the time he’s not really saying anything, just using the talking points and the slogans like advisors tell him to.? Like his politics? Im not sure about that anymore either. From Free Trade, to Middle East policies, to Criminal Justice, Barak Obama says less and less that I can actually agree with or that differs with the same old populist politics of the last decades.

Obama mania is sweeping the nation.? It starts to sound like any one progressively minded should lay down their arms and embrace the man in the name of getting him elected.? Yet I propose.. hell.. I demand something else.? I demand that you hammer this candidate with questions. That you scrutinize his proposed policies, his staff choices, his voting record, and the details of the lofty promises or the shady relationships with questionable forces. Don’t jump on the bandwagon, stand up and ask your candidate to explain himself.? Run him through the ringer, before its too late, and we end up with a man that owes favors to the same old powerful interests and politics we never actually wanted.