Archive for October, 2008

A Trojan Decision

Posted in politics, religion with tags , , , , , on October 21, 2008 by vagabondsaint

Surprise, kids!  For once, I’m actually going to talk about a local issue (well, local to this state, anyway).

Here in Washington State, there’s a initiative on the ballot this year.  Initiative 1000 would allow certain terminally ill, mentally competent adults to obtain lethal prescriptions.  In short, it will legalize assisted suicide for the sound of mind and incurably failing of body.

There are of course groups for and against Initiative 1000.  Those who support it say that it would allow a dignified death for people suffering in constant and unimaginable pain, such as the mother of Seattle newspaper The Stranger columnist Dan Savage.  Mr. Savage recently wrote a very stirring piece about watching his mother pass away, and in it explains his support for Initiative 1000.  The opponents include the Washington State Catholic Conference, a Bremerton pastor, and the Coalition Against Assisted Suicide.  (Of those three, only CAAS does not base its opposition on religious views, which is a point in their favour.  I don’t believe in making my religion into law; to do so imposes my beliefs on those who have chosen not to believe as I do, which strikes me as being very un-American.)  But when it came time for me to make a choice, none of those groups, pro or con, were here; it was just me and my absentee ballot. . .and my conscience.

See, I believe that where there is life, there is always hope. . .hope that things will get better, hope for a miracle, hope that Karl Rove, Pat Buchanan, Rush Limbaugh, and John McCain will be caught having the grossest gay orgy in history by a CNN camera crew, whatever.  There’s always hope, always a chance, however infinitesimally small, is my point, and I always hold on tight to hope, and life.

But.

Four and a half years ago, my ex-girlfriend’s family and I faced a choice.  Her brother was in a coma, unlikely to awaken and grievously, irreparably brain-damaged even if he did.  He was a hearty, robust, muscular, strong man, only four years older than me, and he had made it known before then that he wouldn’t want to live if he couldn’t be who he used to anymore.  Since he was unable to speak for himself, though, the decision of whether or not to pull his life support came down to his parents, his sister, his girlfriend, his ex-fiance, and me.

However much I would have wanted to hang on to hope, it ultimately wasn’t my life, and wasn’t my decision.  It was his, and he’d already made his wishes known.  So for him, I let go of hope.  We let go of hope. . .and let go of him.

Yesterday, when it came time to fill in a circle on Initiative 1000, I remembered that.  It’s not my life, not my decision, not my pain, and not my right to force my beliefs on anyone else.

So I voted yes.

VS – 10/21/08

Advertisements

The Never-Ending Battle That Ended Long Ago

Posted in politics, religion with tags , , , , , on October 17, 2008 by vagabondsaint

Abortion rights are again on the ballots in three states:  South Dakota, California, and Colorado.  All three measures, if approved, would open the door for a Supreme Court challenge of Roe v. Wade, which Republicans have been salivating for since 1973.  Two of the measures have been previously defeated in elections and were somehow resurrected (the California one has been defeated twice).  The South Dakota measure is an outright ban, which conflicts with federal law.  The Colorado one is so bad that the pro-life governor of the state of campaigning against it.  California’s Proposition 4 would be a state-sponsored slap in the face to underaged victims of abuse.

I’ve said it before, and I’m going to say it again:  stop re-fighting Roe v. Wade.  You lost, Republicans.  F***ing let it go and move on to other things, like saving our economy so we can feed the children you don’t want people to be able to abort.

Here’s an idea for something pro-lifers can do, instead of wasting time, money, and energy fighting a battle that was lost 35 years ago.  (Thanks to my friend Marti; she and I came up with this plan.)  All pro-lifers should register as such with the government.  Then, when an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy occurs, instead of having an abortion, the woman in question can go to the government and have the child set up to be adopted by one of the registered pro-lifers!  No abortion happens, pleasing the pro-lifers, and the woman that would have gotten an abortion doesn’t have to deal with the unplanned/unwanted child now!  Everybody’s happy!  I figure if being pro-life and outlawing abortion means so g**damn much to you people, you should put your money (and your house) where your mouth is!  Be willing to, and in fact required to,  adopt some of these unwanted children.  That’s only fair, right?

VS – 10.17.08

The Ugly Genie Ain’t Goin’ Back In The Bottle

Posted in politics, racism with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 17, 2008 by vagabondsaint

I’ll just say it:  the McCain Campaign is a f***ing disgrace.  (Bill Kristol agrees, though he put it in better terms.)  Losing on the issues, the campaign made a decision to put out negative attacks ads and have Palin and other supporters give speeches that are divisive when we need unity, and were obviously intended to direct anger at the state of America towards Obama, even though the Republicans are the ones that supported the deregulation and irresponsible tax programs that led to the current state of the economy.  While I must give McCain credit for repudiating the nastiness stirred up by his campaign, I have to subtract that credit from him because he let his campaign get this way in the first place.  (How nasty and divisive has this campaign been?  Check out this video from, of all sources, Middle Eastern network Al-Jazeera, doing what American media can’t or won’t do:  talking to people at rallies and exposing their ignorance and racism.)

So just how successful has McCain been in tamping down the nastiness that his own damn campaign has stirred up?  Well, let’s see. . .

This morning, a reporter was physically attacked at a Sarah Palin speech.  These people love America so much, you’d think they’d know to respect the rights of free speech, a free media, and the right to not get kicked for doing your bloody job, eh?

Speaking of free speech, it’s a given in election years that some political signage will be stolen or vandalized.  It’s reached epic proportions this year, though, and the (Democratic) victims of these crimes are fighting back. . .with YouTube!  All it takes is a surveillance camera and a computer, and any free-speech-hating, win-by-cheating, property-stealing McCainnonite can find themselves the latest YouTube star! (And a bizarre community has grown, with people worldwide watching surveillance cameras, trained on an Obama sign, to make sure that nothing happens to it.)

In California, the Sacramento County Republicans had material on their website that tried to link Obama to Osama and suggested that the Democratic presidential nominee should be waterboarded!  This is ridiculous!  What has Barack Obama done to deserve this sort of hate?  Nothing, other than be a black guy running for the Presidency.  Unfortunately, he’s running against a campaign willing to appeal to the lowest elements of American society in order to win, and that acts surprised and claims innocence when the hatred they stirred up starts boiling over and out of their control.

And. . .oh, I saved the best of the worst for last. . .

From the southern California newspaper The Press-Enterprise:

The October newsletter by the Chaffey Community Republican Women, Federated says if Obama is elected his image will appear on food stamps — instead of dollar bills like other presidents. The statement is followed by an illustration of “Obama Bucks” — a phony $10 bill featuring Obama’s face on a donkey’s body, labeled “United States Food Stamps.”

The GOP newsletter, which was sent to about 200 members and associates of the group by e-mail and regular mail last week, is drawing harsh criticism from members of the political group, elected leaders, party officials and others as racist.

I debated long and hard about putting the image in question in this blog, and have for now decided to do so. . .if only so that my reader(s) can be as sickened and angry as I am.

California GOP group offers this as eveidence that they can out-racist any Southern state.

California GOP group offers this as eveidence that they can out-racist any Southern state.

John McCain, listen up:  this is the result of your negative, divisive, insubstantive, ego-driven, issue-ignoring, win-by-any-means-necessary campaign tactics.  This is what you’ve done to America; you’ve provided a voice and a platform for the ugliest, most ignorant elements of America’s population.  Given your repudiation of these tactics, you show that you disagree and are even angered by such tactics, which speaks well of you.  However, that things even got to this point shows that you, if you are indeed as honourable as you purport, are not in control of your campaign or your party.  If you can’t control those two things, you sure as f*** can’t control the country, and you should not by any means become President.

VS – 10.17.08

The Final Debate: Bi-Racial Superman* vs. Blinkhelm von Angrypants

Posted in politics with tags , , , , on October 17, 2008 by vagabondsaint

I watched the Presidential debate, and didn’t really get much of anything new out of the words they said, aside from John “Cap’n Insane” McCain finally making some of his negative ad allegations to Barack “I’m So Cool, It’s Snowing INside My Thoracic Cavity” Obama’s face, and watching Obama knock them aside like the feeble jabs of a cancer-ridden septuagenarian.  While it definitely was not the “game-changer” that pundits (and even Obama spokesmen) said McCain needed, it didn’t hurt him much, either.  Rather, the words didn’t hurt him.

His actions, on the other hand. . .

Eye-rollingEyebrows raising in disbeliefFrowning.  Blinking 3000 times in 90 minutes. McCain’s face, whose elasticity surprised me, and his body combined to ruin his debate performance.  He oozed contempt, anger, disrespect, and frustration for the last hour of the debate, after he got off to what seemed a pretty good start.  (My best friend explained the blinking thusly:  “It’s past his bedtime.”)

So, who won the debate?  Pollsters everywhere agreed that Barack Obama won the debate pretty handily.  In, the face of McCain’s repeated and often untrue attacks, he remained calm, steadfast, and unruffled.  (To be fair, Obama engaged in a little truth-stretching himself, but not in his attacks.)  Obama might as well have come right out and said what I was thinking:  “I had to fight Hilary Clinton just to get to this point.  You ain’t s***, compared to that.”  McCain, on the other hand, became visibly angered and more flustered as the war of words went on.  It was like watching a fisherman throwing out bait and hooks willy-nilly, trying to land the big fish, but has forgotten the first rule of fishing: be smarter than the fish.

So, the third debate goes to Obama, making him 3-0 for the debate season.  With Biden’s victory in the VP debates, that brings the Obama/Biden ticket to a 4-0 win over McCain/Palin.  Go, Team Obama/Biden!

By the way, the whole “Joe the Plumber” thing is so ludicrous to me that I’m not going to mention him ever again, barring a major development.  That said, it seems he’s not all that McCain touted him to be. . .

VS – 10.17.08

* – I decided to stop calling Barack Obama “Black Superman” and go with the more ethnically-accurate “Bi-Racial Superman.”  The reasoning for this?  In the old days of the South, if you were so much as one-sixteenth black, you were black, no matter what other ethnicities composed your background.  I’m not going to keep that system of dismissive, derogatorily-intended labelling alive.  From here on out, I’ll be referring to Barack Obama as being bi-racial.  If and when my daughter should ever ask me what she is, I’ll tell her the exact same thing. . .and that she needs to be aware and proud of all of her heritage.

Two Reasons To Scream

Posted in politics, reproductive health with tags , , , , , , , , on October 9, 2008 by vagabondsaint

Yeah, I know, like you needed any more.  But it’s real and it’s happening, so check it out. . .oh, and do something about it,  would you?

Thanks For Registering, Now You Can’t Vote

In addition to the aforementioned shenanigans pulled in order to keep people from voting, some state governments are getting in on the act too.  Colorado, Indiana, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, and North Carolina have all taken actions to remove voters from the rolls, actions that are – guess what – illegal.  These are all key battleground states, in which even 1,000 voters could swing the state one way or another in the presidential election, never mind the 37,000 removed from the rolls in Colorado alone.  (Colorado is truly a swing state, having supported Clinton in his first election, Dole in 1996, and Bush in 200 and 2004). I’m sparing you the details of exactly how those removals were illegal; you can read the NYT article just like I did, and you can get just as upset as I did.

My point is, it’s illegal and it needs to be fixed before the general election, before another election is stolen from the American people, by the very people who proclaim to care about what the people want. . .

WTF? (Warning:  Profanity Ahead)

Let me get this straight.  According to the Bush Administration, the United Nations Population Fund in China supports China’s one-child-only family planning program, which has resulted in forced abortions and intimidation of families, including but not limiting to knocking their houses down. Given that assertion, the Bush Administration feels justified in defunding the UNPF. (By the way, John McCain supports that defunding.)  Okay, I think I’ve got it so far.

Because of that, the Bush Administration also feels justified in ordering six African countries to make sure that no American-financed IUDs, birth control pills, condoms, or anything else that could be called a contraceptive device will be supplied to Marie Stopes International, which is a privately-funded British-based aid group that runs clinics in third-world nations.  MSI works with the UNPF, and so Dubya’s Folks believe it’s okay to deny them any assistance.

This almost makes sense. . .except for three things:  (1) The State Department has found no evidence of UNPF involvement in China’s actions, (2) the UNPF has actually been a strong force supporting moderation of China’s policy, and (3) WHAT THE FUCK DOES CHINA’S POLICY HAVE TO DO WITH WOMEN IN AFRICA?

Those contraceptives help women and families in Africa by allowing them to space out their childbirths and prevent the spread of diseases like AIDS in the places hardest hit by them!  Without those contraceptives, women will be forced to either have more abortions and/or face a great risk of dying in childbirth!  MSI, the people who are the experts here, figure that the loss of those contraceptives will cause “62,000 additional abortions and 660 women dying in childbirth” per year!  This is one case where the “Pro-Life Agenda” equals “Pro-Dead Africans!”  And the reasons for doing it are false!  It’s been proven untrue by our State Department!

And what’s the Bush Administration’s answer?  The contraceptives will be rerouted to other aid groups, so no one will be left unprotected.  But, according to Nicholas Kristof, who’s, you know, actually been there, ” in rural areas, there’s typically nothing else for many miles around. Women in the villages simply have no other source of family planning.”

It pisses me off.  It beyond pisses me off; it sends me to the highest levels of pisstivity possible.  I’m super-sick and super-fucking-tired of lofty, selfish, impractical, self-deluded, holier-than-thou ideologues trying to force their beliefs on Americans already, and now they’re fucking up people in other countries too?  What kind of ign’ant bullshit is this?  It’s a trumped-up, completely bullshit reason to push the abstinence-only, pro-life agenda on parts of the world that need fucking help more than they need a Bible and a shiny fucking smile!

GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!  YOU FUCKING PEOPLE!

All right, I think I got that out now.

I’m going to be writing my congressional representatives today, and making sure more people know about this absolutely ridiculous policy.  What are you going to be doing?

VS – 10.09.08

Sympathy For The Soulless

Posted in politics, ramble with tags , , , , , on October 9, 2008 by vagabondsaint

You know,  I feel a little bit sorry for John McCain.

He just wants to be President.  He’s wanted it for at least 8 years, since he threw his porkpie hat into the ring in 2000’s Republican primaries.  In that campaign, America and McCain were given their first national taste of the nastiness that is Karl Rove politics:  McCain’s honorable adoption of a Bangladeshi child was twisted, through push polls and fliers handed out by Bush supporters, into rumours that the child was actually fathered by McCain, out of wedlock, with a black prostitute.  (It was actually loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooongtime Republican Senator Strom Thurmond who had fathered a black child out of wedlock, but that wouldn’t come out for a few years yet.)

That horrible smear campaign in South Carolina and other places killed McCain’s hope for the Presidency in 2000, when he was still a relatively-youthful 64 years old.  And it was tanked by an upstart whippersnapper who came out of nowhere (Texas, which is close enough) to have the election handed to him on a silver platter by his dad’s Supreme Court cronies and his brother’s corrupt state government officials in Florida win the election, without putting in nearly as much time in the military or in Washington as John McCain had.  And this upstart has the support of people that McCain has worked with in the Senate for years?  He had to come out of that feeling a little betrayed by his own party.

That’s frustrating enough right there, right?

Then comes 2004, and he doesn’t run.  After all, things are good under Bush. The country seems pretty happy, though there are some rumblings in the leftist media about the war in Iraq.  McCain has used the intervening years to support Bush more, curbing his previous “maverick” tendencies in a bid to gain some ground with the conservative base, which he now knows he needs to win anything ever again, and which he has pissed off in previous years.

Interestingly, McCain’s name was floated as a potential VP not for Bush, who would not need a new VP thanks to innovations in cybernetic technology that allowed Dick Cheney to retain a small semblance of life and humanity, but for John Kerry, who McCain defended against the “swiftboating” tactics employed by Rove to discredit Kerry’s war record.

Now it’s 2008.

After years of pandering to the conservative base, McCain is ready to run again.  Bush can’t run again, Rove is ostensibly retired, no one but the undead would actually vote for Dick Cheney (they have to support their own, you know), and the way is clear, right?

Ummm. . .not so much.

In the years between 2004 and 2008, a lot has happened.  Bush, who McCain threw support behind once he lost in 2000’s primaries, is the most unpopular President in American history.  The war in Iraq has dragged on too long with no end in sight.  The economy is beginning a long slide down to hell.  Bush and his cabinet have been caught in lie after lie after falsehood after misleading statement, and many have been forced to resign.  Some have actually been convicted of crimes (we didn’t forget you, Scooter Libby).  The Republican Party has lost its majority in the Senate and the House, due to Americans just plain being tired of their crap.  And Dick Cheney shot a guy in the face.

That conservative base that McCain has spent 8 years trying to earn some love from is a shadow of its former self.  The Republican Party itself is splintered and fractious.  Still, McCain runs, trying to unify the GOP under his umbrella and get some of the people he pissed off earlier in history back onto his side.

And, surprise of surprises. . .he does it.  After short-but-nasty battle with Rudy “9/11” Giuliani, “Massachusetts Mormon” Mitt Romney, and Mike “Hey, That Last Arkansas Governor Did Good As President; Wanna Try It Again?” Huckabee, John McCain wins the Republican nomination for President!  Now the path is clear!

Wait. . .what’s that coming down the Democrat Hill? Why, it’s freshman senator Barack Obama and former-First-Lady-turned-New-York-Senator Hilary Clinton, guns at their belts, beating each other with sticks so they can save the bullets for John McCain!  And no matter which one wins, the Democrats will have a history-making, headline-grabbing, attention-demanding candidate, with an assumed built-in fan base among either women or racial minorities!

Look at it, if you can, from McCain’s prespective.  He knows, and has known for a long time, that he would do a good job as President.  He knows he’d be the best President ever, that he could fix the economy, catch Bin Laden, save health care, fix global warming, and end poverty in America within the first week that he’s in office.  It’s written on his face, in Morse code in the wrinkles:  he knows he should be President.  He knows he deserves to be President.  He’s worked a long time trying to prove it to other people, to earn their support by voting for things he doesn’t like or support, and getting well-accustomed to the taste of special-interest d*** along the way.  Now he’s done it, he’s reached his moment in the sun. . .

And a freshman senator from Illinois is threatening to ruin it all.

McCain, if I haven’t spelled it out well enough yet, is hopelessly narcisstic.  It’s obvious.  He doesn’t understand when people disagree with him. He doesn’t understand why he’s trailing in the polls.  He didn’t understand why his first choice for VP was nixed by Karl “I Have More Influence Than You’d Think” Rove (who threatened to turn the conservative base against McCain if he went with Joe Lieberman, who would have attracted moderates and some Democrats to the ticket) or what was wrong with choosing the base-appeasing, easy-on-the-eyes, moderate-scaring, womens’-vote-swaying (in theory)  Sarah Palin for VP.  He doesn’t understand why his running mate, a pretty woman working an ugly campaign, is actually costing him support now.  And he doesn’t understand how he’s losing to Barack Obama.

His narcissism shows when he isn’t shown outright love by the media.  It shows in the debates, where his disdain for Obama is readily apparent, though I think it’s a disdain born more of his own narcissism than it is any actual animosity towards Obama.  That might actually make it more dangerous, though; dislike can be reasoned away.

That’s what I saw on that stage Tuesday night:  I saw someone that honestly doesn’t understand why they have to be there, why they have to answer questions and clarify themselves.  I saw someone who doesn’t understand why it isn’t obvious to everyone else that John McCain should be the next President of this country.  I saw someone that thinks that he should be President, that he deserves to be President, and that sold his soul to his party and to Rove disciples who are running a campaign even worse than the one run against him in 2000, and doesn’t understand why he’s still losing in the polls.  He was frustrated, flustered, disorganized, angry, and confused. . .and you can’t put that down to just old age.  I’ve known people older than McCain that were far sharper than any six people half their age put together and multiplied by three, so no, I’m not taking shots at McCain’s age here.

The John McCain of 2000, whom I liked, and who called out Sarah Palin by name as an example of pork-barrel-spending gone out-of-control in 2001, is not the man running for President this year.  The man running for President for the Republican Party is someone that sold his soul and sacrificed his principles, his honour, his integrity, and his beliefs in a desperate final bid to become President of the United States.

And that’s exactly why he shouldn’t be President.

VS – 10.09.08

P.S.  Oh, I just couldn’t resist this:

Your lifeforce will sustain me for at least two weeks

McCain to small child: "Your lifeforce will sustain me for at least two weeks" (Photo courtesy AP)

Hope You Have Some Pepto Handy

Posted in politics with tags , , , , , , , on October 7, 2008 by vagabondsaint

Got the pink stuff nearby?  You might need it. . .I certainly did.

Voting is a fundamental part of our democracy.  Remember the pre-Revolutionary War slogan “no taxation without representation“?  Voting is our way of assuring ourselves of representation, that we have a voice in government and it will be heard and act in our best interests (ideally).  Voting is our way of making sure the people have the power; after all, elected leaders only serve at the choice and will of the people, and can be removed by the same method (ideally).  Okay, so it’s not a perfect system, but it’s ours, and this is what makes America a true democracy.

So it pisses me off, sickens me, digusts me, and enrages me when I find out that people, specifically a particular political party which shall go unnamed (Guess One Party, if you would), is making attempts at voter suppression; i.e., scaring, intimidating, or misleading voters away from the polls, by a variety of tactics, such as:

  • a false flier circulating in Philadelphia neighborhoods, claiming that undercover police officers will be waiting at the polls to arrest anyone with outstanding warrants or any unpaid parking tickets or other traffic offenses;
  • using home foreclosure lists in Michigan to prevent people who live in foreclosed homes from voting
  • changing the proof of ID rules (and turning away nuns for not having drivers’ licenses!  Actually, that’s kind of funny)
  • making it more difficult to even get to voting places for largely minority areas in Indiana
  • challenging an Ohio law allowing voters to register and file an absentee ballot on the same day that has been on the books since 1981. . .they’ve had plenty of time to fight against it
  • blocking nonprofit groups from registering veterans to vote at VA facilities, a move undertaken by the Veterans Administration, who are supposed to be acting for the rights of veterans!
  • . . .and so many other dirty tricks that there’s a wiki made just to track them

If, by this point, you haven’t been drinking Pepto-Bismol in a manner quite similar to how a wino swigs Thunderbird, you are a stronger, or far more cynical, person than I am.

You know, terrorists, in the Bin Laden vein, only intend to stop you from voting inasmuch as death tends to stop you from doing much of anything.  It’s just incidental to them.  These Good Old People, however, fully intend to stop you from participating in a fundamental part of our governing process!  They seek to deny you a right unquestionably guaranteed for all by our very Constitution!  And they’re not even going to kill you while they’re at it; they’re just going to take away your right to remove them from power and force you to live under their control.

So you tell me. . .who’s really America’s worst enemy?

VS – 10.07.08