The Progressive Forum: Presenting Speakers with Sack!

To a sold-out crowd of raging liberals in Houston on Wednesday, a former conservative probably got the best reception anyone of her ilk could ever hope to garner from this city’s well-intentioned, aristocratic revolutionaries. In my humble opinion, Arianna Huffington is a PILF (the “P” stands for pundit). She exudes a level of charm and sincerity that clearly stands out, especially in a field of political commentators who mostly look like Kevin Smith or Janet Reno. Her thick Grecian accent causes one to really pay attention to every word of her sentences, and interjects authenticity without even trying.

At one point in her impassioned oration, the recounting of a tale of suffering by an ordinary American she encountered recently caused a momentary lapse in her demeanor. A long pause, jarring and awkward, similar to the one Gov. Jan Brewer pooped out of her brain in last month’s fascinating AZ gubernatorial debates, followed the description of hardship, and she could not restrain the tears, the flood of genuine emotion and concern, that grappled her when conveying the tragic outcomes for many average middle class Americans she has met. Unlike the scathing simpleton from Phoenix, whose pause in speaking was due to inexperience and self-aggrandizement, Arianna succumbed to a momentary lapse in her professionalism for all the right reasons — because she’s an actual human being, with feelings.

In her latest book, Third World America: How Our Politicians are Abandoning the Middle Class and Betraying the American Dream, Arianna outlines the systematic disenfranchisement of the greater populous of this country, and how this nefarious plot has been advanced by both political parties for quite some time now. Clearly, conservatives carry a considerable chunk of the criticism, but all alliterations aside, there is plenty of blame to go around.

Her book argues that while corporate profits and government deficits have been on the rise, over the same timeframe, the wealth and general prosperity of the middle class (you know, the other 70% of Americans roughly) has been on the steady decline. She noted solemnly during her speech that this generation of adults reluctantly recognizes the degradation befalling the next generation of youth, stating that more parents nowadays acknowledge they are leaving their children with bleaker conditions than they were left with. The solutions Arianna outlined are nothing new, especially to the crowd in attendance.

Classic liberal smash hits like equitable public education, cessation of the various corporate tax and labor loopholes which US companies exploit to pocket more coin at the expense of the working proletariat, better financial regulation, and so on. Basically, anything a smelly hippie has ever yelled at a stuffed-shirt tightwad Bush supporter in the heat of political discourse, and anything in between.

Following her talk, Arianna sat down with the president of the Progressive Forum, Randal Morton, and answered several attendees’ questions (submitted by email beforehand). I can’t really recall what any of those questions were, probably because they were mostly insipid and obsequious, or because I ate a weed cookie before showing up. Nonetheless, the gist of her message was to keep up the good fight, continue to advocate for what’s right, and not to overlook small victories and slight improvements.

To this effect, during her Q&A time, she revealed, in her capacity as CEO of The Huffington Post (top rated internet news outlet, started in 2005) breaking news that Elizabeth Warren had been selected by President Obama to head the newly-created Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection. The crowd erupted in applause, and she exclaimed this announcement to be an example of the metered progress she earlier endorsed. For the record, I also am enthused about E-dub’s appointment to the BCFP, that lady is baller, legit!

Thanks to the Progressive Forum of Houston and their tireless efforts ($), their 2010 lineup of guest speakers is chalk full ‘o awesome. Sadly, I will not be able to attend all of them (I work a square gig, sorry), but be expecting upcoming articles on the two speakers who I am able to see. Richard Dawkins, diva of the deity-less (Oct. 5th), and Richard Leakey, famed son of Mary and Louis Leakey (the Jonathon Dayton and Valerie Ferris of the archaeology world, Oct. 28th). I will attend these two talks and report back all the magic and merriment and insight they contain.

Until then, another legitimate and hearty extension of gratitude to the Progressive Forum, who since 2005 have been bringing the liberal-minded citizens of Houston innovative and compelling public speeches from a plethora of personalities ranging from career politicians, to masters of art and science and literature. (I can’t wait for Leakey’s talk; I’m totally gay for prehistoric anthropology!)

For further exciting inquiries, visit:

www.progressiveforumhouston.org
www.huffingtonpost.com
www.houstontx.gov/worthamcenter
www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl/9780307719829


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