Archive for August, 2009

The Good, The Bad, and The F***ing Bizarre #3: A Frank, A Flora, A Phallic Fallacy

Posted in brilliance, media failure, politics, randoma, rant, the complete opposite of brilliance with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 26, 2009 by vagabondsaint

The Good:  Barney Speaks Frankly

You know how elected officials always have to be respectful and gentle with their constituents, no matter what level of insanity or inanity is currently issuing from said constituent’s mouth like a tidal wave of crazy?  Well, that behaviour has been tested quite a bit in the recent town hall meetings on the healthcare debate.  No one wants to be seen as making light of their constituent’s concerns, no matter how baseless, derogatory, or outright ludicrous those concerns are, right?

Right!

For everyone except Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank.

For those of us that have been wishing our elected representatives would stand up to the whackos showing up and town hall meetings and loudly displaying their ignorance, Barney Frank’s recent town hall was a godsend.  Check out how he handles a woman who calls the health care reform bills “a Nazi policy” (because the Nazis were all about making sure everyone had affordable health care).

Thank you, Barney Frank!  We need people to stand up to these ridiculous claims and assertions coming from the right, someone willing to call a spade a spade and show how baseless and inane these scare tactics are!

Barney Frank is my hero right now.

The Bad: Giant Rat-Eating Plant Discovered

You read that correctly:  a plant big enough to eat rats has been discovered.  Even more frightening, it’s been named after David Attenborough!

This is bad in several ways.

One, if plants have gotten big enough to eat rodents, how long do we have before they get big enough to eat people?  Clearly the plants are on a mission to stop killing humans through allergies and pretty-looking poisonous plants and just go for outright eating us!  The plants must be stopped, now, before it’s too late!

Stop the plants before anyone other than Rick Moranis suffers!

Stop the plants before anyone other than Rick Moranis suffers!

The second thing that is really scary about this is that the plant was named after Sir David Attenborough.  While those of us who know who Attenborough is know him as the soft-voiced narrator of a bajillion nature shows and a harmless, endlessly curious naturalist, the decision to name a carnivorous plant after him makes me wonder: what do the botanists know about Attenborough that the rest of us don’t? Clearly there’s some rodent-sized skeletons in his closet!  The world needs to know the truth about Sir David Attenborough!  Is he on the side of the carnivorous plants?  Is he even now preparing England for their invasion?  Has he been seduced to the green side by Poison Ivy?

Sometimes treason is completely understandable.

Sometimes treason is completely understandable.

Whatever Attenborough’s hiding, we need to know!

The F***ing Bizarre: Professional Dick Fears For His Own

I’ve read this article several times, looking for the punchline.  Either I haven’t found it or the humour is just so subtle that I can’t see it.

Rush Limbaugh and Jay-Z having a “beef”?  President Obama is coming to cut your penis?  Rush Limbaugh being on anyone’s balls without crushing them beyond repair?

It’s just. . .I can’t make jokes about this.  It makes too many jokes about itself.  Just read the article, seriously.

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Thanks for the reading this installment!  Be here next time when things get even stranger!

VS – 8.26.09

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Heads Up, In Smoke

Posted in evil, legal system, politics, rant with tags , , , , , , on August 20, 2009 by vagabondsaint

So, I was informed today by a smoke shop owner that the rumours are true:  clove cigarettes have been banned in the US, and after September 17th, no more will be imported.

I have issues with this.  On my fucking birthday, no less.

The argument was made that flavoured cigarettes are more attractive to kids.  I don’t want kids to smoke, certainly.  I am completely against that.  However, it’s already illegal for people under 18 to buy cigarettes.  What good is banning the flavoured kinds when all cigarettes are already illegal for minors?

An argument, against this law, was made that the law banning clove cigarettes is unfairly discriminatory.  How could it be called so?  Because only one country in the world makes clove cigarettes:  Indonesia.  It’s a mammoth industry there, and this law just cost them one of the biggest markets for, well, everything in the entire world.  It’s also where Barack Obama spent a fair amount of time as a youth.  Way to completely screw over one of the countries that raised you, you fucking ingrate.

Notice above you there that I said that cloves are made in Indonesia.  That’s right, there isn’t a single brand of clove cigarette that is produced in America.  Not one.  So not only does this law screw Indonesian cigarette makers, it gives their etiquette-mandated complimentary reach-around to American tobacco companies instead.  It knocks off one of their major competitors.

Don’t think this law favours American companies enough yet?

It bans cigarette flavours like cloves, vanilla, cherry, grape, bacon (you knew somebody somewhere was working on a bacon-flavoured cigarette), orange, banana, any and all soprts of sweet cigarette flavours (even though cloves aren’t really sweet).  Except one flavour.

Menthols.

Made right here in the good old U.S. of fucking overzealous nanny-state A., by good old American tobacco companies.  In a law banning every conceivable flavour of cigarette other than plain tobacco, somehow menthols are still legal.

Political fuckery at its absolute finest here, people.  And the media has been completely ignoring the blatant use of legislation to eliminate competition for American companies, possibly because, in this current political climate, smokers and homosexuals are still completely okay to demonize and legislate against.

I’m still not going to buy American-made cigarettes.  It takes me a but a few weeks to get a passport, and Canada is only three hours away.  I’ll spend those few weeks buying every pack of clove cigarettes that I can, to hold me until I have the passport.

In case I haven’t made it clear, this law really, really fucking pisses me off.

More later.

VS – 08.20.09

My Letter To Barack Obama

Posted in politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 16, 2009 by vagabondsaint

I have just sent this letter to President Obama, using whitehouse.gov.  This missive was prompted by the news that the Administration may be willing to drop the public option in order to get health care reform passed.

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Dear Mr. President,

I am very very concerned about the health care debate in this country and am planning to attend a MoveOn.org event tomorrow on the topic.  I am extremely alarmed at the notion that you are willing to compromise the public option in order to achieve some sort of reform.

Mr. President, as a citizen of the United States, as a taxpayer, as someone that voted for you, I am begging you: do not relent on the public option.  We want it, we need it, it must be a part of any real reform.

My brother was hospitalized, and nearly died, earlier this year for complications resulting from diabetes.  Four years ago, he was in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit and spent a week in the Superdome, where he suffered from many infections, malnutrition, and some trauma, for which he received counseling.  He is unemployed and has no health insurance.  My mother, who has been supporting him, is a schoolteacher and facing rising medical costs of her own due to advancing age.  He was unable to afford the medication for his diabetes and so ended up hospitalized, something else that they cannot afford unless my mother is somehow able to persuade her insurance company to cover him as a dependent.

I myself am currently unemployed and have no health insurance.  I am lucky in that my mother’s daughter has a great job and excellent health insurance, so my daughter is covered.

But we, and millions of people like us across the country, need a public option and the attendant subsidies proposed .

I know it might seem like a losing battle.  Every time one turns on the TV and watches the news, there are people screaming about how this health care reform should not be passed, how it is socialistic, anti-American, will create “Death Panels,” and is evil.  There is so much coverage of the screaming, yelling people and naysaying Congresspeople that I can see how one could easily be swayed into believing that health care reform is not what the majority of Americans want.

But you must remember two things.

The first is something that you yourself said (and I am paraphrasing here): TV loves a good ruckus.  They do.  In its current sad state, our news media, the “fourth estate” that is supposed to bring us truth and counter spin in service to the people is now almost completely in service to the twin masters of their corporate owners and ratings-gathering sensationalism.  The conflicts taking place in town hall meetings make for far better TV for those masters than do the calmer, more rational, more genuine debates, and so they do not get coverage.  It is said that the conflict must be selling because we are watching it, but in fact, we are watching it because, in our desperate search for truth, there is nothing else.  Save for the oases of The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, and The Rachel Maddow Show, there are almost no places on TV in which one can get glimpses of actual truth and counters to the spins and falsehoods propagated by those who would harm America for their own gain.

The second thing to remember is this:  the people yelling and screaming so loudly are a minority in this country.  By and large, they are ill-informed and betrayed for personal gain by those they want to trust.  They are afraid of changes to the status quo, even if those changes benefit them.  America is changing, it is becoming a better country, and while for some there may be racist undertones to that fear for some, the bottom line remains unchanged: they scream, and rant, and yell because they are afraid.  It’s hard to fight fear with logic and truth, but if we as a country and you as our elected representatives give in to their fear or manipulate for political gain, we will all suffer.  It’s a difficult fight, true, but not only is it a battle that must be fought, it is a battle that must be won.  Here. Now. Lives depend on this and we cannot falter.

While I understand your desire to compromise and achieve bipartisanship and consensus, I must tell you:  it’s time to give it up.  Time and time again you have offered your open hand to your opposition; in response, they have spit upon it and slapped it away.  The Republicans have no interest in bipartisanship, save that of not doing it so as to score political points with people who are afraid of change, with people who would rather put their fingers in their ears and yell into the wind than acknowledge the approaching thunder of change.

Do not give up the public option, Mr. President.

I plan on posting this letter in its entirety on my blog at https://vagabondsaint.wordpress.com .  Please do drop by for a visit, won’t you?

Sincerely,

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See?  I can write a really long letter and not use the “f” word.

Feel free to go to whitehouse.gov and copy and paste this letter for your own use, though I would advise coming up with your own anecdotal evidence first.

VS – 8.16.09

The Good, The Bad, And The F***ing Bizarre #2: Of Groped Mice, Angry Men, Anti-Racist Geckos And Kiddy-Porn-Lovin’ Cats

Posted in evil cats, media failure, politics, randoma, the complete opposite of brilliance with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 11, 2009 by vagabondsaint

Welcome to the next installment of The Good, The Bad, and The F***ing Bizarre!

The Good: Geico Saves A Bunch Of Money

Geico Insurance announced today that it would be saving itself a bunch of money by no longer advertising on Glenn Beck’s short bus to Crazytown FOX News show!

Not looking at Glenn Beck

Not looking at Glenn Beck

Mr. Beck claimed last week on long walk off a short, insane pier Fox And Friends that President Obama is a “racist,” with a “deep-seated hatred of white people, or white culture.”  He, of course, offered no evidence to back up this claim, unless one considers the deep, abiding love and respect that Obama has for his late Caucasian mother and grandparents to be indicative of a secret hatred for them.

Don’t bother re-reading that.  It won’t make any more sense the second time.

Beck later came 3 steps back down the nutjob ladder clarified his statement by saying that he never said that Obama doesn’t like white people, only that he hates them, and that Obama “has a problem.”  Somebody has a problem, and it has something to do with a lack of a dictionary.

The walk-back didn’t do enough to appease, well, any thinking person, leading to several petitions and movements calling on advertisers to stop supporting Beck’s crazy-tinged hate speech show by pulling advertising.  Geico responded to one of these, emailing ColorOfChange to notify them that they had pulled their advertising as of August 4.  Men’s Wearhouse and Sargento have likewise announced that they have pulled their advertising from the idiot parade Beck’s show.

So, let’s here it for advertisers finally taking some responsibility for the content of the shows they sponsor, eh?  I think that’s pretty good!

The Bad: Health Care Reform Town Hall Protests

I’m all for civil discourse, and we should all have the right to question our elected officials and get answers from them.  It’s a free exercise of the First Amendment, to voice our concerns.  That’s part of what America is all about, right?

So what’s my problem with the people who are protesting at town halls?

Well, aside from their being so ignorant as to not know that Medicare is socialized medicine run by the government, their stated tactics of being loud, disruptive, and shouting whenever anyone, including the elected officials, tries to speak are the complete opposite of what the First Amendment stands for.  They are denying the same rights they claim to be exercising to others, which is about as unpatriotic as one can get.  Your rights do not include to right to trample on someone else’s rights.

I’m not going to say more about than that these protests are a bad thing, for both the health care debate in particular and America in general.  If you’re wondering why I say that, just wait until one of these Astroturf protests comes to serious blows and people start getting hurt or killed.  It’s coming, I promise.

The F***ing Bizarre: Bizarre Games Of Cats And Mice

Two very strange things for this one.

The first,and a great thanks to my best friend for bringing this to my attention, is the Florida man arrested for possession of child pornography, after police found over 1,000 such images on his personal computer.  This is, so far, remarkable only for the ongoing exploitative debacle that is the stain in humanity’s underwear commonly known as child pornography.

Where it gets interesting is the man’s excuse for the pornography being on his computer:  his cat did it.

I swear, I am not making that up.

The man claims that his cat downloaded the images by “jumping on the keyboard” when he left the room.

Any time that you think your cat hates you, just remember:  it hasn’t yet tried to frame you for a crime that will get you shanked in the prison yard.

Yet.

The second item of note is again from Florida, but involves a man getting too friendly with a mouse. . .specifically, Minnie Mouse.

A 60-year-old Pennsylvania man has been convicted of misdemeanor battery for groping Minnie Mouse, or rather, a woman in a Minnie Mouse costume, at Walt Disney World in Orlando. According to the accosted woman, she “had to do everything possible” to keep his hands away from her chests.  You know, there’s just so many jokes that could be made here, but out of respect for what was no doubt a traumatizing experience for that poor lady, I’ll refrain.

I do believe I have said before that furries are harmless.  Let me amend that:  most furries are harmless.

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That’s it for this installment. . .till next time, please try to avoid watching Glenn Beck, being an idiotic ass at a town hall meeting, being framed for a serious felony by your cat, and feeling up anybody in an anthropomorphic animal costume!

I’ll see the ones of you that manage to do all of that next time!

VS – 8.11.09

Moment of Brilliance, #4: Keith Olbermann Tells The Truth

Posted in brilliance, politics with tags , , , , , , on August 11, 2009 by vagabondsaint

Keith Olbermann rocks.

Just watch and/or read.

VS – 08.11.09

Moment Of Brilliance #3: Obama’s Epic Win

Posted in brilliance, politics with tags , , , , , , , on August 8, 2009 by vagabondsaint

I am laughing today about the healthcare reform debate.  That’s right, laughing.

I am laughing because yesterday, it came out that President Obama had, in closed-door negotiations, made a deal with pharmaceutical companies to support healthcare reform and make an $80 billion reduction in medication costs over the next decade.  In exchange for their support and pledge,  the White House would not support anything in the current reform package that would affect Big Pharmaceutical, including not allowing Medicare to negotiate for cheaper prices or import cheaper Canadian medications.

Is that necessarily a good thing, that Big Pharma has bought itself from the administration? Well, yes and no.

On the Huffington Post, there were plenty of comments about how Obama had sold out the American people to Big Pharma, how he has failed to bring the change he promised, that he’s a corporate shill, he’s a fraud, et cetera, ete cetera, blah blah blah, whine whine whine, change my diaper.

On the other hand, it took me about two seconds to see the brilliance of the plan.

No matter how much money the insurance companies and lobbies have, Big Pharma has as much, if not more.  We’ve already seen the destructive results of insurance lobbying in Congressional obstructionism, Astroturf campaigns disrupting town halls, and misleading advertising.   How much worse do you think it would be if the pharmaceutical companies were throwing their weight behind the movement as well?

So Obama negotiated and got Big Pharma off the table.

But wait! say the people who feel it their job to quuestion, insult, and attack the President at every turn, their chorus strengthened by the addition of those who don’t think in long-term goal achievement and don’t know how to play chess.  Isn’t rising drug costs one of the reasons that healthcare is so expensive?  Don’t America’s pharmaceutical practices need reform as well?

Surprisingly, they’re right.  There does need to be reform there, and time will tell if the pledged $80 billion cost reduction will help much or not.  But at least it’s something, which is more than the health insurance companies have been willing to do.  Also, there’s something else:  Congress is still free to pursue drug regulation reform  any time that it wants to.  It just won’t be able to do so in this healthcare reform package.  It will also be done, if it is done in the future, without White House support, so if it’s painted as chance to hurt Obama, the Republicans will sign on and override a veto, if he were to issue one.

Meanwhile, not only is Big Pharma not opposing the current healthcare reform package, they’re spending $150 million in advertising to support it.  Just as a comparison, that’s $24 million more than John McCain spent on his entire Presidential campaign, and just a little over half of what Obama spent.  It’s more than the opponents of healthcare reform are likely to be able to raise, plus that $150 million is aided by independent groups like MoveOn, the AFL-CIO, SEIU, and others coming out in support of healthcare.

Obama not only avoided making the battle too large to win, he recruited an ally with money power comparable to his opponents and left the door open to a future solo battle with Big Pharma, as opposed to having to fight them and the healthcare insurance lobby together.

That’s just brilliant.

Call it choosing your battles wisely, call it pitting one enemy against another, steal a page from the Senryahu and call it borrowing the right of way to attack, it all boils down to a great strategic move. . .and one that stands in glorious counterpoint to the ham-handed “us vs. them” “bring it on” tactics of the previous Administration.  It’s so, so nice to have a President that thinks long-term and actually has strategies, as opposed to the “get out there and yell” whining and frustrated rabble-rousing of his enemies.

It’s brilliant, is what it is.

VS – 8.08.09

A Man’s Right To Choose?

Posted in legal system, politics, reproductive health with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 4, 2009 by vagabondsaint

I first read about this last week, but waited to gather my thoughts on it before speaking.

A bill about abortion was recently re-introduced in the Ohio state House of Representatives.  The bill was originally proposed in 2007 by the same person, Representative John Adams (back from the dead and demoted, apparently), and either never made it to a floor vote or was defeated when it did – my research is unclear on its original fate.  But it’s back now, and more patriarchal than ever!

The bill, if made into law, would require that pregnant women obtain the consent of a baby’s father before they could have an abortion.  If the woman doesn’t know who the father is, she would be legally required to submit a list a possibles, and a doctor would administer paternity tests to determine who the father is. (A cheaper alternative would be to go on The Maury Povich Show and have Maury pay for it.  Those things ain’t cheap, you know.)  If the father cannot be determined, the woman could not have an abortion.

Wait, it gets better.

If a woman brought forth a patsy to claim that he was the father and give permission, and it is later discovered that the patsy is not the real father, the woman could then be charged with first degree misdemeanor abortion fraud.  The same goes for the patsy, and for any health care worker who gives an abortion without paternal consent.

The law is not totally heartless, though; in the case of rape or incest, a woman could have an abortion without the consetn of the rapist.  All she would have to do is provide a police report stating that she was raped!  Thank goodness every single rape in this country gets reported to the authorities!  (Seriously, it could be worse.  The women could have to provide proof of a rape conviction in order to have the abortion.)

The stated goal here, according to John Adams, is to “keep the two people who have created that child together.”  Yeah.  Because forcing two people to stay together for the sake of children has always worked out so well.

I’m really of two minds about this.  I do think it’s unfair that men have no real say in whether or not a woman gets an abortion.  On the other hand, I also think it’s unfair that men have no choice but to be on the hook, financially, if a woman decides to have a child, whether he wanted an abortion or not.

Before you get out the pitchforks and torches and gathering the townsfolk into an angry mob to come after me, let me explain a bit.  And dig a moat.

I get that, when people have sex, they are putting their financial, physical, and possibly mental health into someone else’s hands and/or various other body parts.  There are many means of reducing the risks of sexual activity, but none are absolutely 100% effective.  (Not even vasectomies; I’ve been told that there is a 25% failure rate on those.)  Even with measures taken to reduce those risks, there is always the chance that, say, one partner is lying about their own measures or has the intent of trapping the other in an a half-unwanted pregnancy.  (Remember the guy last year who was surprised to discover that a woman he’d had sex with five years ago, while using a condom, had fished the condom out of the trash, used it to impregnate herself, and wanted him to pay child support for the son he took every reasonable measure to prevent?  If I can find the article again, I’ll post the link.)  I understand about the risks that men and women alike take in having sex, truly, I do.  But, when pregnancy occurs, only one of the two truly has a choice in the matter, and, I hate to say it but I know it to be true, there are women out there that will use a pregnancy to either trap a man into staying with them or punish him for a real or perceived grievance or even because they want a child, don’t want the man, but want the man to pay for it.

Then again, there are also women who will abort a child without even telling the father that she is pregnant and talking with him about whether or not he wants to have a baby with her.

Case in point:  in 1994, I was about to start my second year of college and had a beautiful girlfriend.  Over that summer, we had sex for the first time, six months into our relationship.  She got pregnant.  She decided, without consulting me, to have an abortion.  I found out about it a year later, after the relationship had ended from my cousin, who had gotten the secret out of her sister while trying to get with her.

In that instance, I had absolutely no choice at all, and I grieved for the child that I’d never known existed and would have wanted and done all I could to take care of.  And yes, if I’d known, I would have asked her to have the baby.

Now for the other side:  in 2000, I was out of college and dating a woman who claimed to have a severe latex allergy, so condoms were out.  Since she was very meticulous in most areas of her life and I’d known her for about two years at that point, I trusted her when she said she took her birth control pills regularly.

That was a mistake.  When she ended up pregnant, I asked what happened to the birth control.  She explained that she’d run out and had “forgotten” to get more.  In the process of talking and doctor’s visits, it became clear that she wasn’t being totally honest with me or the doctors, and the stress of the pregnancy caused the “great girlfriend mask” she normally wore to fall away, revealing her true personality, and I realized she was not someone that I wanted to be tied to for the rest of my life.  Who would want to put a child into a broken home right off the bat?  I asked her for an abortion.

She refused.  I was left with absolutely no choice in the matter, and financial responsibility for the child.  My only choice was between being in my child’s life, being only a financial presence in my child’s life, or running like hell and dodging child support payments for the rest of my life.  However, I refused to let any child of mine come into the world without a father, having had a largely absent one myself, and decided that I would be in my child’s life.  The child did not deserve to suffer because I’d made the mistake of choosing the wrong woman to trust.  Anybody that halfway knows me knows that that would be my decision; in other words, I was the perfect guy to trap,and she used my strong sense of honour, and refusal to allow my progeny suffer as I did, against me.

My daughter is 8 now, and the most wonderful child ever.  Best of all, she doesn’t resemble her mother in appearance or demeanor.  But that doesn’t change the fact that, when it came down to it, again, I had no choice at all as to whether or not I would become a father.  My only choice was what type of father I would be.

And that’s why I am of two minds about this bill.

I agree that fathers need to have a voice.  I can agree that fathers should be notified of the pregnancy before action can be taken; I just don’t think that requiring consent for an abortion is the best thing to do here.  It is a woman’s body, after all, and hers to do with as she pleases.  I don’t know how to make it fair on both sides.  In the case of a woman choosing to have the child of an unwanted or accidental pregnancy,  the best I can think of is allowing the man to legally and permanently surrender parental rights and obligations, but then that puts the entire financial onus on the woman, which isn’t entirely fair either.  In “trap” situations, it would be fair, but not so much for women who are not selfish harpies that would use an innocent child to get what they want.  (I’m not bitter, though.)

I think the best thing to do here, or at least the best that I can come up with, might be to just require notification, provide court-appointed mediation if necessary, and work on a case-by-case basis as to what steps should be taken, instead of creating a blanket law.  Every situation is different, and this is one in which individual solutions may be better than all-encompassing grand gestures.  For example, in a “trap” situation, the father could opt out.  In a genuine, honest accident, both parents would have to agree on a course of action (this is why mediation would be necessary, if they couldn’t work it out amongst themselves), and in the case of difference, decide on the merits of the individual case what the proper course of action would be.

Of course, the best solution would be for everyone to practice safe sex and never trust someone else to be looking out for your own sexual interests.

But how realistic is that?

VS – 8.04.09