Archive for August, 2008

The Broken Takes A Break

Posted in ramble with tags , , on August 25, 2008 by vagabondsaint

Sorrow stills even the most prolific pen; heartbreak wilts even the strongest sword.

No more blogs for a while.

See you after the conventions.  Keep thinking.

VS – 08.25.08

Life, Death, Points In-Between

Posted in politics, religion, war with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 13, 2008 by vagabondsaint

So I didn’t blog last week. The week before had been a very rough one here at Saint Central, so I needed a little time to rest.

And what happens while I’m not blogging? EVERYTHING.

Hold on, kids and neighbours, we got a lot to talk about.

Let’s start with a perennial favourite, The Bush Administration!

1. Conservatives Attacking Birth Control – Never ones to let a silly thing like a 35-year-old Supreme Court decision stand in the way of trying to tell women what to do with their bodies, the Bush administration launched a new attack on birth control at the tail end of July. How is contraception abortion? What brain damage resulted in that “even-Evil-Knievel-wouldn’t-jump-that-far” leap of logic?

Did these people learn nothing from the failure of abstinence-only education? Are they too blind to see that the use of birth control prevents many of the unwanted pregnancies that lead to abortions? Too controlling to allow women access to full reproductive care? Or just too fucking stupid to understand that having a religion does not give you the right to force your beliefs into law and therefore onto other people? (Hint: “yes” to all of the above.)

I must have missed the part of the Bible that says it’s okay to force other people to act the way you think that they should. And since I’ve read it cover to cover a few times, I’m starting to think it’s not in there. And yet, to watch religious and political conservatives in action, you’d think Jesus preached fascism and control over others instead of tolerance, understanding, and unconditional love for all. I must have also missed the part where He said, “Give them no choices; make them act in accordance with My Father’s laws.”

Hey Republicans: Roe v. Wade was decided 35 years ago. You lost. Let it go. Work on teaching your values and beliefs to your children and, hey, start living by those beliefs yourself and stop nominating infidelitous Presidential candidates. When it comes to winning hearts and minds, role models are far more effective than laws.

(By the way, I had an interesting conversation with a ministry student over the weekend. We both agreed that people have to find their own path to God and religion, and it must be their choice; forcing it on them only breeds resentment and more of the false piety that continually damages every major religion in the world. Good luck in your ministry, Mat, and I sincerely hope you spread the message to others that you can’t force your God on people. Lord knows, all religions need more people who think that way.)

2. Russia And Georgia Went To War – Okay, let me get this straight. Georgia, a breakaway republic of the former Soviet Union, invaded South Ossetia, itself a breakaway republic of Georgia, where Russian peacekeepers had been stationed for months. Russia responds by invading the invasion, retaking the Ossetian capital of You-Can’t-Pronounce-It-Either, pushes Georgian troops back to the border and then follows them into Georgia in a retaliatory invasion of the NATO-hopeful, increasingly Western-leaning nation. Words like “genocide,” “war crimes,” “excessive retaliation,” and “vodka-swilling Putin-suckers” are bandied about, and after some toothless saber-rattling by European nations and the US, a temporary cease-fire agreement comes about, and that’s where we stand right now.

No one has yet explained to me why South Ossetia is so important to either Russia or Georgia.

The most pertinent thing to me coming out of this is John McCain’s statement: “In the 21st Century, nations don’t invade other nations.” Really, Captain? You must have been in cryogenic storage when the US invaded Afghanistan and Iraq then, I suppose. (By the way, McCain’s top foreign policy adviser has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Georgian government over the past few years. The same aide also worked for Trent Lott, the disgraced former Senate Majority Leader. Curious, eh?)

3. The Olympics: Doping is out, Lip-synching is in – In these days of constant battles over steroids and performance-enhancing drugs in professional sports, it’s good to know that someone somehow still has the time to fake even the insignificant details.

Case in point: The singing of the Chinese national anthem at the start of the Olympics games this year was faked. The world saw a cute 9-year-old lip-synching to the voice of a 7-year-old, who had the better voice but also had “crooked teeth,” making her unsuitable for the televised performance, according to a member of China’s Politburo, who requested the change. Like the world cares if a little girl in China has crooked teeth. We’ve got wars going on out here.

Why stop there, though? With all the computer graphics work in movies and TV nowadays, we can replace the German women’s weightlifting team with supermodels that appear to be superstrong! We could make Beijing’s rampant smog look like friendly spirits of the ancestors! We could make Bob Costas look like anybody else! Don’t half-ass the fakery, is all I’m saying.

4. The War On Drugs: Arkansas Ain’t Playin – This from Helena-West Helena, Arkansas: police have instituted a 24-hour curfew on a 10-block area due to drugs and drug-related violence in the area. Is this the right thing to do?

According to the ACLU, it isn’t: according to that article, state officials for the ACLU say that constitutional rights are being violated by the curfew. (They don’t mention the issue on their website; ergo, no link.) While I usually lean towards agreeing with the ACLU, this time, they can bite me.

The people in that neighborhood have the right to live lives free of drugs and gangs. They have the right to sleep in their beds instead of having “to sleep on the floor, because of stray bullets.” And, like the Helena-West Helena police, I’m more on the side of protecting them by getting drug dealers off the street than I am the ACLU.

The curfew has already resulted in 32 arrests (at the time of that article), 10 for felony charges, so yes, obviously criminal activity in the area is being curtailed and prosecuted. There had been no curfew violation arrests, and, finally, the police have been heavily armed to match the weaponry of drug dealers, like AK-47s.

If it’s really a “war on drugs” in this country, then it’s long past time that it was fought like a war. The scourge of narcotics has to be eliminated, or at least significantly reduced, and this works for me, until someone comes up with a better plan (and educational funding increases.)

“We’re not here to play,” said Helena-West Helena Police Chief Fred Fielder. Amen to that.

My only concern here is making sure that tougher enforcement is being carried out across all lines: political, racial, and economic. If that can be guaranteed, or at least strenuously avoided, then I think there’s some good lessons for other cities to take from this.

Very special thanks to my best friend for bringing this story to my attention.

5. Heaven’s Overeager Recruitment Drive – While we here on Earth are mourning, God’s got a great new drinking buddy in my friend Taylor, having a good laugh with her while watching Bernie Mac perform, and probably trying to romance her with the soulful sounds of Isaac Hayes. May they all rest in peace, but we weren’t done with them yet down here, God.

VS – 08.13.08

An Officer And An Ingrate: UPDATE

Posted in politics with tags , , , , , on August 4, 2008 by vagabondsaint
hotter than Paris in the summer

Kathy Hilton: hotter than Paris in the summer

As you may remember, in my earlier “An Officer And An Ingrate” post, I asked why no one seemed to have any comments from Paris Hilton’s parents about John McCain’s ad, which paints Barack Obama as a “celebrity” in the vein of Ms. Hilton and Britney Spears but unfit to lead the American people.  In my post, I asked what the Hiltons thought, since they had donated $4600 to McCain’s campaign before he decided to, in the words of Jon Stewart, “take a huge public dump on their daughter.”

Well, I ask no more!

Kathy Hilton, mother of Paris Hilton, has finally weighed in, choosing to voice her opinion in The Huffington Post!

Now, I don’t know much about Kathy Hilton.  In addition to being (in my eyes) more attractive than her daughter, she has also proven smarter by avoiding the widespread press coverage that her daughter gets.  That said, I find myself agreeing with her statement that the ad is “a complete waste of the money John McCain’s contributors have donated to his campaign” and  “a complete waste of the country’s time and attention at the very moment when millions of people are losing their homes and their jobs.” And she’s a Republican!

In response, the McCain campaign issued statements that the ads are just good clean fun:  “We think it’s got a lot of humor in it, we’re having fun and enjoying it.”* They also said that, in the spirit of such fun, they will soon be releasing ads calling Kathy Hilton “a trollop and a c—, just as Senator McCain often jovially does with his own wife.”**

Get ’em, Kathy!

By the way, how did Senator Obama himself respond to the ad?  From The Huffington Post: “You know, I don’t pay attention to John McCain’s ads, although I do notice he doesn’t seem to have anything to say very positive about himself. He seems to only be talking about me… You need to ask John McCain what he’s for and not just what he’s against.”

Well said, Obama, and well said, Mrs. Hilton.  You two ever think about running for office together?  Think about it. . .

VS – 08.05.08

* – Glad they’re having fun spending millions on distracting and pointless negative attack ads while Americans are losing their jobs, homes, and vehicles at an alarming rate.  Perhaps John McCain was Nero in a past life and now fiddles while America burns?  Actually, given his advanced age, it’s possible he was Nero in this life.

** – I made up that up.  But he really did call his wife that; which you’d know if you read this blog more often.

Exxon Wins A Shell Game

Posted in economics, media failure with tags , , , , , , on August 1, 2008 by vagabondsaint
Smoking. . .in more ways than one! (Her foot is on fire.)

She's smokin'. . .in more ways than one! (Her foot is on fire.)

I have a question for the media-at-large.

I can understand why the new FDA regulation of tobacco received minimal media coverage. Only 20% of Americans still smoke, according to the latest data available from the American Cancer Society, so I can see that really not being much of a big deal, as not even a quarter of the country’s population is affected by the decision.* Hell, I can even support the proposed changes in tobacco regulation.

But, in this time of very high gas prices, which affect 136% of Americans (that figure was provided by Exxon-Mobil’s accounting department), how does the news that, for the April-June quarter of 2008, Exxon-Mobil posted the biggest quarterly profit ever posted by a US Corporation (which was somehow still lower than expectations) NOT get splashed all over front pages and websites everywhere? I found that on by accident! Okay, yes, if you check the business sections of websites and newspapers you’ll find it there, but for myself and many people that I know, the business section doubles as a powerful sleep aid. This should be front page news! So why isn’t it, American media? Why isn’t Congress acting on that instead of adding new responsibilities to the already overburdened and underfunded FDA?

The really shocking part? As high as that profit is (and realize that’s after Exxon-Mobil paid a $300 million settlement over the Valdez spill in Alaska in 1989), they only beat Shell (which is not an American company) for quarterly profits by $3 million. These people are making gi-fucking-normous amounts of money while you’re struggling just to fill your gas tank and cancelling your family’s summer vacation because it’s too expensive to drive anywhere cool. (The media’s solution? The Staycation! Have fun at home! My solution: vicious beatings of oil company executives until gas prices go down.**)

You’re having to sell your truck, which is useful to you at work and at home, or the SUV or van you actually use for carting around your 2.5 children and their friends, to buy a subcompact that might have all the speed, proper engine function, and combined cabin/trunk capacity of a large pumpkin because you can’t afford gas anymore while oil executives are receiving outlandish personal compensation packages, sending their kids to great private schools while you’re trying to figure out how to arrange for daycare because your kid’s school had to cut back to four days a week due to high gas prices, and buying up the houses that you had to sell because Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac shafted you on your mortgage.

An Exxon executove prepares to pull more money out of Americas ass.  Hope he takes the watch off first.

An Exxon executive prepares to pull even more money out of America's ass. Hope he takes the watch off first.

Look, America, I’m just going to say this flat out: wake the fuck up. Get up. Get mad. Get angry. Demand answers from your senators, your representatives, your President especially, and oil companies. They all need to be reminded that in this country, the people have all the power and they have to answer to us. Tell them you’re not falling for their smokescreen public appeasement acts or their hand-wrangling “what can we do?” bullshit any more. Tell your presidential candidates you don’t want to see Paris Hilton and Britney Spears in commercials (not with clothes on, anyway); you want some fucking answers and you want them right fucking now.

They’ve done more than wrong us; they’ve completely betrayed us in order to profit handsomely from our misery, and they need to pay for it. It’s our job as citizens – yours, mine, everybody’s – to make sure that they do.

VS – 8.1.08

* – Also by the way, the high taxes on cigarettes and settlements against tobacco companies are what’s currently paying for your schools, roads, public works projects, and many other public services. The 20% of Americans currently paying the high taxes and the settlements would like to say a few things to the American people, which I will briefly list here: “You’re welcome, you f&%$ing ingrates.” “That factory smokestack over there puts out more carcinogens and pollutants in one hour than I will in my entire life, you goddamned idiots.” “If you really have nothing better to do than get fired up about smokers, may I suggest you take some time to kiss my smoking butt.” And last, but not least, “what are you going to do when you’ve stamped out smoking and your politicians are left with nothing else to demonize, no more use of the tobacco industry as a smokescreen for all the crap they don’t take action about, plus a horrendous budget shortfall, jerkholes?” This message paid for by The National Association Of Smokers Who Wish Americans Would Wake The Fuck Up And Realize That There Are Far Bigger Problems That Need to Be Dealt With Immediately.

** – Please don’t actually go out and do this. That said, if you do and get caught, please don’t mention my name.

An Officer And An Ingrate

Posted in politics with tags , , , , , on August 1, 2008 by vagabondsaint

Constipated Ingrate

As I’m sure my very well-informed and knowledgeable readers (all two of you) know, John McCain has been making some waves in the media with his campaign commercial comparing Barack Obama to notable celebrities Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. By comparing him to the two pop stars, the implications are made that Barack Obama, like the two ladies pictured, is vapid, media-hungry, attention-starved, blonde, lacks substance, caucasian, young, and a former bedmate of Kevin Federline; i.e., completely unfit to lead the nation. (Especially for that last one. Really, Obama? K-Fed? You could do so much better.)

Anyway, the ad itself, along with others in Captain John “Honourable Campaign” McCain’s recent surge (ha!) of negative attack ads aimed squarely at Senator Barack “I Can Walk On Water And Turn Said Water Into Wine While I Am Walking On it” Obama have been garnering a great amount of media attention. Aside from the New York Times article linked above, CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, and Faux News have all. . .oh, I’m sorry; that should be Fox News. . .have all given this story a great amount of detail and attention, as, I suppose, they should be doing, being “real” journalists and all. I must admit that they have all actually been fair in covering both sides of this issue.

But why hasn’t anyone asked Paris Hilton how she feels about this? Or Britney Spears? Or, perhaps most importantly, Paris Hilton’s parents, who donated $4600 to John McCain’s campaign this year, according to – wait for it – The Daily Show? I mean, really, how would you feel if you donated to a politician’s campaign only to have him hold your beloved daughter up to the world for ridicule and derision as being someone people shouldn’t look up to, respect, or vote for? I’d want my money back, for one thing, and McCain really can’t afford to lose any money right now. (Yes, I know that article is from April. His situation has not improved much since.)

Your Republican Presidential nominee, Americans: hypocrite, liar, fraud, wife-insulter, and now, f*^#ing ingrate.

VS – 8.1.08