An Exclusive Interview with The Founders of The Invitational Golf Tournament

The Invitational Golf Tournament; Lions Municipal, Austin, Texas ~ Saturday, March 27th, 12:00pm Registration; 1:00pm Shotgun Start. Pay to Play, $90 per person
To Register contact: [email protected]

The Founders of the exclusive “The Invitational Golf Tournament” are famous, mysterious and legendary for avoiding interviews. But after seeing the brilliant and revelatory film made about them (see above) I became determined to track them down and speak with them before the 4th Annual The Invitational.

And here it is, the first ever interview with The Founders.

ML: Good afternoon, gentlemen. How are you doing?

One Founder: Next question.

ML: There is great interest in your golf tournament. Many people want to know more about it.

more at the jump… Continue reading “An Exclusive Interview with The Founders of The Invitational Golf Tournament”

Health Means Life; Health Means Freedom

doctor-and-the-doll-norman-rockwellLife and Freedom are moral issues. It is time for Democrats to talk about health in those terms, beyond just policy terms like health insurance reform, bending the cost curve, types of exchanges, etc.

Health means life. If you get a major illness or injury and cannot get it treated adequately, you could die. And tens of thousands do.

Health means freedom. If you have a serious illness or injury and cannot get it treated, your freedom will be limited in many ways. Your physical freedom: you may no longer have the freedom to move around. Your economic freedom: you may not be able to work or your medical bills may impoverish you. Your emotional freedom: you will not be free to live a happy life.

Health is therefore a moral issue of the highest order. And it is a patriotic issue. Health security is a problem for far more Americans than military security. Your security is far more likely to be threatened by the lack of treatment for illness and injury than by any likely terrorist attack.

Real terror is seen in the thousands of letters sent to the White House and Congress by people whose lives have been shattered or threatened by the behavior of the health insurance corporations. Wellpoint, which made $2.7 billion in fourth quarter profits in 2009, tried to raise its Anthem/Blue Cross premiums 39% in California. Wellpoint made its profits by NOT giving health care. It treated 2.2million fewer people. It found a way NOT to treat people who needed treatment, either by refusing to insure them, or dropping them as clients, or denying authorizations. If you are sick or injured and that happens to you, you face terror — very real terror.

That’s when “health maintenance organizations” (HMOs) become health terror organizations.

Continue reading “Health Means Life; Health Means Freedom”

End the Corruption: Reform Effort Gains Steam

monopoly-manWhat citizens rightly view as the failures of government are usually considered major successes by the wealthy special interests that paid politicians to do their bidding. This is particularly true in Texas, where state officeholders were paid by special interests to:

1) put our roads under the control of a foreign company;
2) trash our public schools so proposals to spend your tax dollars on privileged, private schools would be more attractive;
3) raise college tuition so families would have to borrow more from unscrupulous student loan companies;
4) destroy the civil justice system so companies who maim and kill could not be held accountable;
5) deny millions of Texans health care so big insurance profits could soar;

The U.S. Supreme Court’s notorious Citizens United decision hands unlimited powers to corporations to go where no plain old human person has gone before. Under the ruling, special interests can buy any election outcome they want. The ruling outraged Texans and Americans. And it has galvanized support for serious reform efforts. Here’s a piece from Politico.

… A top [Obama] administration official said that “the biggest piece of reform” will be supporting congressional efforts to limit the impact of the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling that opened campaigns to huge independent spending by corporations and unions. “Americans really turned against this opinion, the official said. “And so the biggest reform is to ensure that our politics and our campaigns are not controlled by special interests. Getting legislation that deals with the Supreme Court decision on the floor and debated — and hopefully passed — is very important.”

Continue reading “End the Corruption: Reform Effort Gains Steam”

“Mount Vernon Statement” Erases Equality, Rights

Conservative leaders’ pompous and self-congratulatory “Mount Vernon Statement” twice refers to the line “self-evident truths” from the Declaration of Independence. Conspicuously absent, however, are two of those self-evident truths: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed with unalienable rights.

I don’t think it was an oversight. The omission gets to the heart of the deeply authoritarian personality of the contemporary conservative movement, or movements, as the case may be. Oh, the Mount Vernon document mentions “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” But universal rights and equality are anathema to conservatives. How would they justify oppression if everyone was equal and had equal rights?

In the authoritarian worldview, some people are just naturally better than others. Or, as George Orwell famously put it, some are more equal than others. For conservatives, government’s only proper role is in enforcing the inequality. And that begs the question: if it’s so natural, why does it have to be enforced at all?

It is striking, in a Tiger-Woods-on-chastity kind of way, to see a collection of gouty royalists like Ed Meese and Alfred Regnery masquerade as the true defenders of the American democratic tradition. These posers are idolatrous hierarchs who have spent all their lives building their rodent tunnels under Constitutional barriers to plutocracy.

Continue reading ““Mount Vernon Statement” Erases Equality, Rights”

The Airplane Attack Next Door

plane-crash-austinIt was right down the street from my home. An unhinged man in a single-engine airplane crashed into an Austin office building. The Internal Revenue Service had offices in that building. I was in those offices not long ago for a compliance check on a non-profit I run. I got passing grades, by the way.

I have just returned from driving through the area. I stopped at the local bookstore and grocery store on the way home. Workers there said they didn’t even know it happened until some customers told them and they saw crowds gathering outside. Smoke still hangs in the air. There’s a chemical smell to it.

I’d watched news coverage of the tragedy earlier in the day. It’s a strange sensation. Full of the virtual reality of television coverage one minute. Present at the real-world scene the next minute. Most people are going about their business. Buying books. Buying groceries. Going home from work.

Americans are discussing whether the attack by Andrew Joseph Stack and his airplane is an instance of domestic terrorism. He was angry, angry at all kinds of people, angry at the government, especially at the IRS. This we know from the note he left behind. Does it matter whether we call the attack a crime or an act of terror? Continue reading “The Airplane Attack Next Door”

Freshman 15? Try the TX Lege 30:

“Tommy Gainsalot,” Chief of Staff for a member of the Texas House (whose true name I have sworn with my life to keep anonymous) typically gains 30 lbs each six month legislative session, then painstakingly peels it off during the ensuing 18 months between sessions.

In the following account, Tommy Gainsalot reveals the shocking truth of his daily food and booze intake and (lack of) exercise during a typical day at the Lege.

And he lays bare the secrets of the Interim Regimen that’s helping him get back into fighting shape for the 82nd session.

But first, let’s take a look at Tommy Gainsalot’s weight stats:
Weight at start of 81st Session: 225 lbs.
Weight at end of 81st Session: 255 lbs.
Weight today (8 months post-Session): 228 lbs. and dropping towards record lows.

Tommy reveals the secrets behind the numbers:

“During session, my usually pattern was this.

“Get to work around 7:00am (requires getting up at 5:30, a task when you got home at 2:30), at which time I would have at least one, sometimes two breakfast tacos and a keg of coffee, or as much coffee would fit in the cup after all of the cream and sugar.

more at the jump… Continue reading “Freshman 15? Try the TX Lege 30:”

Americans Hate Supreme Court Ruling on Corporate Political Influence

monopoly-manIt’s no surprise: 80 percent of Americans oppose the U.S. Supreme Court’s notorious Citizens United ruling that allows corporations to spend unlimited sums to influence election outcomes. Sixty-five percent are “strongly opposed.” That’s from a Washington Post poll published this morning.

The dislike is bipartisan. It’s about 8 out of 10 among both Republicans and Democrats. The political unrest we see across the spectrum comes from Americans’ feeling of powerlessness. Insurance corporations have delayed health care reform. Wall Street’s unfettered greed wrecked the economy. The federal stimulus is working — millions of new jobs created — but economic fears persist.

The Supreme Court stepped right in this mess and made individual Americans even less powerful. And citizens know it. It is outrageous that the Court would give corporations unprecedented political power over our lives. It is outrageous that the Court considers corporations people. It is outrageous that the Court rules money is equal to speech, meaning those with more money have more speech.

There are several initiatives aimed at correcting the Court’s terrible error and pointing the nation back toward something like a democracy. Plutocracy is not what the Founder intended, though it is clearly what today’s U.S. Supreme Court intended.

Continue reading “Americans Hate Supreme Court Ruling on Corporate Political Influence”

2010: This Is The Year That Was (What?)

cheshire_cat_3When Lewis Carroll wrote Alice In Wonderland, he probably had 2010 in mind. Not yet two months old, 2010 is promising to become a doozy.

To be fair to the calendar, we have to recognize that 2010 began in 2009, when thousands of Americans, funded by the insurance industry, took to the streets to protest “big government” on behalf of big business. It is the first time in recorded history that people demanded their lives not be improved.

But this was just the beginning. Folks drove along federally funded highways in cars purchased with loans from interstate loan companies filled with gas they purchased with money from their federally insured bank accounts to demand their state secede from the federal union.

Here in Texas, Republican gubernatorial candidate Debra Medina was granted “serious” status when she recommended, more or less, the abolition of government and the arming of everyone. Her’s was the Somalia Plan. But, she was turned into a fringe candidate because she told Glenn Beck (nobody’s Edward R. Murrow) that there were still questions about the U.S. government’s role in the 9/11 attacks. Never mind that her followers, and many Tea Party loyalists, already believe the government is capable of anti-democratic terror. Just not that one. I guess. Continue reading “2010: This Is The Year That Was (What?)”

Young King Tut: 20th Century Pop Star, Felled by Malaria in 1334 B.C.

tutankhamun-golden-maskThe tomb of the Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun was discovered in 1922. The rest was pop culture history, as the discovery sparked movies about the curse of the mummy, popular songs, museum extravaganzas and renewed interest in ancient Egypt. King Tut was a pop star, though he’d been but a boy-king who died young and, we learn, lived a painful life plagued by physical infirmities.

Tut, it seems, was born with a club foot and a cleft palate. He was the son of Akhenaten, who tried to turn Egypt to the worship of one god. That didn’t last long. A new study finds that King Tut died of malaria and an infected broken leg. Pop stars are supposed to die from drug overdoses or, more recently, from so many plastic surgeries that they are effectively erased from the etch-a-sketch of life.

Tut was a fashion king. Tut was a movie star. Tut was a musical prodigy. Everyone from the Three Stooges to Batman got in on the Mummy act. No one knows who Tut’s real mom was. I think it was Momma Rose, the classic stage mother whose persistence made her daughter — the burlesque queen Gypsy Rose Lee — a show business phenom.

That may be Tut’s lesson. Never give up. If a 3,400-year-old club-footed pharaoh can do it, so can you. The famous late 70s homage to Tut by Steve Martin says it all.