I think it’s hopeless, myself, but Ventura is always in there pitching. If you still believe in politics and ideology — let alone “progress” whatever that is — you won’t much like this column. The problem is, it tells the truth.




Austin Chronicle – June 27, 2014

The Left: does not exist in the United States – not as a meaningful force. To state the stunningly obvious: Without a serious critique of capitalism, you’re not to the left of anything. If what’s left of your leftness is an earnest wish for reform, you are that most maligned of political entities: a liberal. Liberals of today are nice. They do some good. But liberals of old had lefty visions that changed society’s structure — FDR’s New Deal, Harry Truman’s GI Bill, and LBJ’s War on Poverty. Liberals today believe in social access for all, and beyond that, what? The status quo. No structural political vision. As Proverbs teaches: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

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Austin Chronicle – June 13, 2014

In The Four-Gated City, Doris Lessing wrote: “In any situation anywhere there is always a key fact, an essence. But it is usually every other fact, thousands of facts, that are seen, discussed, dealt with. The central fact is usually ignored, or not seen.”

A central fact stirs little debate but sets the terms of our days.

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Sometimes the truth comes out. Not often, when you’re talking about media. It’s here, though, short but not sweet. A friend sent this to me, and I hope you’ll send it on however you can. Those of us who love this country are sick at what it has become, and, as the guy in this short clip says, the first step to fixing something is to tell the truth about what’s broken.


The person who sent this piece around, sent it with this message:

“Some of you will never read past the third paragraph. Others will devour this document and send it around the world. College students everywhere should be so lucky as to hear these words of wisdom from someone that is not a teacher. If you see this as a political piece, that speaks volumes about your approach to life and what you expect from it.”

Well, I’d never heard of Neal Boortz, but he certainly nailed down the truth –from one point of view. And, like so many people in law, in politics, and in the media – and apparently he belongs to all three groups — he seems to think that his truths, because they are true, can be opposed only by falsehoods. He seems to think that his truth is the whole story, rather than merely the case for the prosecution. It seems not to occur to him that truths can be opposed by other truths that are equally true.

Is that where you stand? Are you one who thinks that truth is all on one side, or do you see that, in real life, truth comes not row by row, but in opposites?

If all the truth were in one point of view, wouldn’t everyone have embraced that truth by now? And, conversely, if people were in the habit of conceding that opposite points of view might have their own validity, would our politics and public shouting-matches (one can hardly call them discourse) be so poisonous?

Those who are old enough to remember post-war politics may remember that there was a time when people knew that only know-it-alls thought they had a monopoly on truth. There was a time when only borderline personalities were sure that any ideas or values opposite to their own were automatically evil or stupid.

The fact is, in this world of dualities, truth comes in pairs. You can’t choose Authority OR Freedom; can’t choose Liberty OR Equality; can’t choose Individual OR Society.

Nothing comes without its valid opposite.

We choose. Either consciously or unconsciously, we choose. Life gives us no choice but choice. But the values we choose are not the only true values.

It is not true, and never can be true, that we are right and everybody else is wrong.

It isn’t true, and never can be true, that all our values are valid and any values that may cut against them are invalid.

It isn’t true, and never can be true, that all the right is on one side.

Here’s a suggestion. Whether you are liberal or conservative, read Boortz’ speech while doing two things: (a) remember that he is not wrong, and (b) remember that an equally true speech could be written that would counter every one of his points.

I predict that you will find either (a) or (b) difficult or impossible to do. But if you can at least remember that it can be done, you will be better off than most of the people in public discourse today.

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Latest Michael Ventura column. I never saw Route 66 as a boy. Kind of makes me wish I had.




Austin Chronicle – June 1, 2012

Austin, 1962. Just south of the University of Texas, a building is going up. It might be Dobie Mall. We’re facing northeast on an unfinished floor that’s open to the sky. The camera pans to follow Tod (Martin Milner) riding a cable suspended from a crane. A small UT stadium is far in the background; directly below, a residential street continues north. The camera pans west to reveal a not-yet-gigantic university, its tower, and a few buildings along the Drag. The rest is treetops. Nothing obstructs a view of distant hills.

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As usual, Michael Ventura uses commonly available information, and thinks about it, and comes up with interesting and provocative insights. This one ends up quite a distance from where it begins, and is worth reading slowly while suspending your opinions until the end.




Austin Chronicle – April 20, 2012

     Jenna Talackova, 23 years old, took it for granted that a transgender beauty like herself had a shot at Miss Universe. A commonsensical friend might have advised: “Girl, don’t try. They’ll break your heart.” But what broke was not her heart.

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Lindbergh in 1927

March 26, 2012

Courtesy of my friend Wayne Goodwin, URL’s for a four-part short film comprising actual footage of Lindbergh’s preparation, flight, arrival and aftermath. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. And if it whets your appetite, try Lindbergh’s pulitizer price winning book The Spirit of St. Louis. I read it first when I was a teenager, and have never fallen out of love with it.





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