Archive for The Stranger

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

Tears From Gas, Balls Of Brass, Hypocrisy: It’s The RNC! (While I Was Sleeping, Part Three)

Posted in brilliance, economics, politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 15, 2008 by vagabondsaint

I had actually planned to cover the RNC night-by-night in several separate posts, because there was just so much inherent wrongness in the proceedings that it would have taken several blog posts to cover it all.

However, due to time constraints and my own impatience to cover more current events, I’m just going to sum it up day-by-day and move on to all the stuff that’s happened since I started playing catch-up.

Suspension of disbelief is required. . .you won’t believe the things they said and somehow got away with.

Ready, Republicans?  On your mark. . .get set. . .go viciously and hypocritically attack your opponents without proposing solutions to or even discussing the major issues affecting Americans today!

Monday, September First

Monday was a bit of a slow day for the RNC, since Republican leaders were busy either being in Louisiana for Hurrican Gustav or busy talking about Hurricane Gustav on TV.  The poor delegates were left at the XCel Center, clueless and leaderless, because, as one delegate put it, “some people are getting rained on.”  Believe it or not, that was one of the most compassionate statements heard all week from the Convention.

Adding to the distractions from the Convention: Sarah Palin’s possible ethics violation in trying to get her ex-brother-in-law fired and the revelation that her 17-year-old daughter is pregnant.  Does it strike anyone else as slightly hypocritical that the party that brought us abstinence-only education, whether we wanted it or not, is rallying behind someone for whom it failed miserably?

(By the way, in that Troopergate article, mention is made that Palin has “has a proven record championing transparency in government”.  What bullshit.  Even as mayor of Wasilla, she ordered city employees not to talk to the press, our best apparatus for ensuring a transparent government.  As governor of Alaska, she used, and encouraged her cohorts to use, private email accounts for state business, in an attempt to prevent those communications from being subpoenaed.  Think I’m making that up?  Click here.)

The best action was the protests around the convention, where, due the lack of major activity at the convention, police were forced to make their own fun by tear-gassing and pepper-spraying protesters, including Brendan Kiley, a reporter for Seattle weekly news magazine The Stranger.  I’m sure that both his pepper-spray shower and the $1.9 million that St. Paul police spent on tear gas and pepper spray for the RNC were well-deserved.

So, as I said, a quiet first night for the convention. . .well, except for the lobbyist parties.  I’m glad that the lobbyists and delegates listened to McCain’s request and kept things toned down.  Jerks.

And if you’re like me, and wondered why the GOP picked St. Paul for the convention, well, wonder no more:  The Daily Show knows why.

Tuesday, September Second

RNC Theme For The Night:  John McCain, The Complete Sellout He Is and The S.O.B. That Barack Obama Is

The night began with a speech by current president and nominal leader of the Republican Party, George W. Bush (in case you’ve forgotten who he is, as the RNC seems to be trying to do).  I am a bit, um, befuddled by Bush’s speaking at the convention.  After all, isn’t all he what the McCain campaign is rallying about changing from?  When they talk about the bad governing of the past eight years, isn’t he the person who was in charge of it?  So they’re having him speak in favor of McCain?  The only way that this could make sense is if someone came up with a way to blame someone other than Bush and his Republican-controlled Congress (until 2006) for the problems of this country.  But you’d have to be a complete bullshit artist to do that.

Of great interest is this part of Bush’s speech: “When he takes office next January, John will have an outstanding leader at his side. America will have a strong and principled vice president in the Governor of the great state of Alaska, Sarah Palin.”  Ummm, what?  McCain’s going for President here; isn’t he supposed to be the “outstanding leader” of the two?  And I believe Bush when he says that Sarah Palin is an outstanding leader as much a I believed him when he said there were WMDs in Iraq.

We (as in me and the people who read this blog regularly) all know that I love The Daily Show. But they really, really outdid themselves with the comparison of Tuesday’s RNC speakers, Fred “If I’d Won, Sam Waterston Would Have Run Against Me” Thompson and and Joe “Backstabbing Without Even So Much As A Reacharound” Lieberman to cartoon characters Foghorn Leghorn and Droopy Dog, respectfully.  It’s a Moment of Satirical Brilliance, truly.

So what did Senator Leghorn actually say, I said, say?  Well, I just linked you to the speech right there, so you can read it in its entirety, if you want.  As for me, I’m just going to briefly touch on its most prominent lie, with some help from FactCheck.org:

Thompson repeated misleading claims about Obama’s tax program, saying it would bring “one of the largest tax increases in American history.” But as increases go, Obama’s package is hardly a history-maker. It would raise taxes for families with incomes above $250,000. Most people would see a cut.

That Obama is certainly out to fool us!  How dare he propose the majority of Americans take a tax cut while slightly increasing capital gains and dividend taxes and closing the loopholes that allow corporations to get away with paying barely any taxes at all!  He must think we’re stupid, if he thinks we’re just going to let him waltz into the White House and leave us with more money in our pocket!

And Senator Droopy?  Surely, as  former Democrat, he wouldn’t have taken part in the partisan lying and mudslinging, right?

WRONG! Oh, so, so wrong!

Droopy Lieberman (which sounds like something that a man should see a urologist about) took his brush, dipped it in GOP-approved slime, and happily slathered Barack Obama with a healthy coating of crap.

Lieberman said Obama hadn’t “reached across party lines” to accomplish “anything significant,” though Obama has teamed with GOP Sens. Tom Coburn and Richard Lugar to pass laws enhancing government transparency and curtailing the proliferation of nuclear and conventional weapons.

Hey, I thought government transparency was Palin’s department. . .

Lieberman also accused Obama of “voting to cut off funding for our American troops on the battlefield.” But Obama’s only vote against a war-funding bill came after Bush vetoed a version of the bill Obama had supported – and McCain urged the veto.

Sigh.  Oh, Droopy, when you get back into the Senate, the Democrats are gonna treat you like shit, and your own legislative director will quit, and you’ll deserve it. . .but will you even hear it over the jingling pieces of silver in your pocket?

One more thing I want to share:  Karl Rove, Bill O’Reilly, pundit Dick “My First Name Says It All” Morris, McCain’s senior policy adviser Nancy Pfotenhauer, and Sarah Palin herself starring in a gender-card hypocrisy parade, courtesy of The Daily Show.  Seriously, can someone please, for the love of God, tell me why the “real” news sources don’t use clips like these when they actually talk to these people?  Why don’t they make them confront their own hypocrisy? Why?

And where is Dick Cheney?

Wednesday, September Third

RNC Theme For The Night:  Save Us, Sarah Palin, Save Us!

Well, several people spoke that night; all but one were losers in this year’s Republican primaries (or, as Jon Stewart called them, “ghosts of candidates past“).  You’d think that would have made for a much more interesting night than actually happened, wouldn’t you?  You would. . and you’d be wrong!

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who is, in my eyes, the most personally likeable of the Republican candidates (and yes, I’ve met him personally), delivered a. . .well, a pretty blah speech, really.  It was almost like he didn’t want to give the speech, somehow.  In addition to his speaking woes, he’s also bad at math:

Huckabee told conventioneers and TV viewers that Palin got more votes when she ran for mayor of Wasilla than Biden did running for president. Not even close. The tally: Biden, 79,754, despite withdrawing from the race after the Iowa caucuses. Palin, 909 in her 1999 race, 651 in 1996.

Then there’s Mitt Romney, who I am convinced is actually a robot.  His hair absolutely never moves, his teeth are entirely too perfect, and his voice never changes.  I fully expected him to step outside of the XCel Center, start mowing down protesters with his laser eye-beams, and eventually have to be stopped by Superman.  He scares me.  Moving on.

Next up, former NYC mayor and Republican presidential hopeful “9/11” Rudy “9/11” Giuliani “9/11” gave his “9/11” speech.  If you’ve “911” made it this far “9/11” into this paragraph, then “9/11” you know what a typical “9/11” Giuliani speech is “9/11” like.  However, he managed to restrain “9/11” himself that night, holding out for an entire 13 minutes and 57 seconds into his speech before mentioning 9/11.  (However, I firmly believe his legs, hidden by the podium, were trembling from 9/11 withdrawal.)  He didn’t screw up too badly, though; he did call John McCain a fighter pilot when he, in fact, flew bombers, and distorted Obama’s reaction to the events in Georgia to make them seem different from McCain, when in fact both of them called for the UN Security Council to step in, as did the White House.  As far as speeches for that convention went, it was one of the more honest ones.

And then it was time for Sarah Palin to speak.

She was late for her speech; she’d been busy outside shooting protestors from a helicopter and then dragging their bodies inside to field-dress them, but once she got cleaned up, she came in and gave a speech that would be inspiring, encouraging, heartwarming, and persuasive to anyone with less than three functional brain cells.  To the rest of us, it sounded like this: niceties, joke, joke, lie, lie, joke, lie, joke, family, lie, blatant hypocrisy, partisan attack, lie, denigration of community organizers, lie, partisan attack, attack, lie, praise McCain, joke, lie, lie.  FactCheck.org had a field day with her speech; I’m just going to hit the low notes:

  1. Lied about her flip-flop on the Bridge to Nowhere (again)
  2. Lied about Barack Obama’s record on ethics reform; she dismissed legislation he cosponsored as not being “major law or even reform” though it led to major changes in how lobbyists can legally operate in Washington
  3. Misrepresented Obama’s tax plans as increasing income taxes for everyone when they would actually cut taxes for 81.3% of Americans (but she didn’t misrepresent as badly as McCain, who outright lied)
  4. Lied in saying Obama is against producing more energy; he isn’t and isn’t even against increased drilling, within limits
  5. Mocked Obama for being willing to meet with the heads of “terrorist nations” without preconditions, something that even the Bush Administration is now embracing (presumably they’ve learned that aggressive saber-rattling and pre-emptive invasions only get you hated more)
  6. Lied in saying that Barack Obama is worried that suspected terrorists won’t be read their rights; in fact, he hasn’t said anything to that effect but has supported the rights of detainees to challenge their incarceration in federal court, a decision that the Supreme Court made earlier this year.
  7. Lied about building a gas pipeline in Alaska, which the oil companies opposed due to its prohibitive expense, and used that difference to back her claim of “opposing Big Oil.”  The pipeline she wants built isn’t past even the planning stages yet, and it’s not a certain deal yet.  Meanwhile, the oil companies actually do want a pipeline, and Conoco and BP have started work on plans to compete with hers, but she wanted one big enough for the oil companies that are already there plus room for new companies to come in.  Not so much a matter of disagreement as it is the oil companies wanting to keep their monopoly and Sarah Palin wanting to bring in more companies for more revenue.
  8. Lied about standing up to oil companies.  Other than the disagreement over the pipeline, they’ve been in alignment on every other issue, including offshore drilling and opening up the Arctic National Widlife Reserve for drilling.
  9. Mocked Obama’s experience as a community organizer. . .which, aside from being ignorant as to what community organizers do (they have responsibilities, you know), is also hypocritical, given that one of the themes of the Convention itself was Service, and that is what Obama did as an organizer:  he served his community.

My bullshit meter just exploded.  And now I have outrage fatigue.

Sarah Palin’s speech was of course met with many cheers and howls of applause from the moronic idiotic conservative crowd in attendance, as if they were either too stupid to know that she’d just lied her ass off or so desperate to stay in power that they’d follow her off a cliff.  (Hint:  it’s desperation.)

Which finally, finally, brings us to. . .

Thursday, September Fourth

Theme For The Night:  If You Missed Last Night, You Missed All The Good Stuff

Look, Cindy McCain spoke, then John McCain spoke.  If you want to know what he said, click here.  If you want to know what lies he told, click here.  I can sum it up like this:

  • All the same lies he’s told before.
  • None of the excitement of Sarah Palin’s speech.
  • Some idiot made the mistake of scheduling McCain’s speech on same night as the opening night of the regular football season. . .it’s like they wanted nobody to watch this speech.
  • Reminded us that “POW” is to “McCain” as “9/11” is to “Giuliani.”
  • Railed against “constant partisan rancor.”  Hey, John, did you actually watch the preceding three days of your own convention?  It was full of the partisan rancor and mudslinging you’re talking about in your speech!  If I may make a suggestion:  start getting rid of partisan rancor by taping Palin’s mouth shut.
  • Ended his speech by urging all Americans to “stand up to defend our countries from its enemies.”  Well, Mr. McCain, I’ll be doing exactly that when I vote for Barack Obama, instead of the party that’s ruined America over the past 8 years.

Man, I’m just tired now. . .but that’s the RNC, covered, over, and, thank God, done.

Next time. . .oh, who knows.  I’m like two weeks behind on news right now.  I’ll think of something.

VS – 09.15.08

Randoma

Posted in randoma with tags , , , , on July 1, 2008 by vagabondsaint

I’m still on my break from politics (as, apparently, the candidates themselves are; the news cycles of full of minor crap expanded to fill available time) so, I thought today I’d just blog about some different, feel good kinda stuff.

****************

First, I want to say “Happy Canada Day!” to all of my Canadian readers.  Okay, my one Canadian reader.

For my American readers, Canada Day is like our Fourth Of July, except with less gunfire.  It celebrates the day that the British liberated Canada from the clutches of a ruling monarchy set up by world-infamous Viking and conqueror, Erik the Red (and his descendants, Peter the Pink, Larry the Mauve, and so on, all the way down to Maurice the Off-White-sort-of-Creamy-Beige), and then granted Canada their independence from the British several hundred years later, after the pivotal Battle Of Damn-It’s-Cold-Out-Here, which took place somewhere in Canada and was named by British troops.  The British did fail to completely run out the French, though, who have maintained a stronghold in northern Saskatchewan for several millenia and are too deeply dug in to ever be removed.  Canada, our neighbours to the north, have given us many wonderful things, such as Rick Moranis, Mike Myers, Elisha Cuthbert, and Celine Dion, only three of which we have since tried to return (I’m keeping Elisha Cuthbert).  Canada also has considerably less gun violence than America, a socialized medical system, is one of the world’s leading exporters of oil, and never, ever, ever has people in Middle Eastern countries burning their leaders in effigy while screaming “Death to Canada!”  A lot of people like to make fun of Canada, but they must be doing something right up there.  In closing, I would like to say that I know absolutely nothing about Canada, I totally made up that history, and I’ve just realized that being invaded and conquered by Canada might not be such a bad thing.  At least we’d have socialized medicine.

Anyway, Happy Canada Day!

***********************

My friend Jay emailed me a video today.  It’s called “Where the Hell is Matt?” and features a guy doing a frankly silly dance in many parts of the world, alone at first, then joined by natives of the various countries he’s in.

I like the video because it’s, well, it’s just one guy, getting people all over the world to dance with him.  Dancing is something that every culture in the world has in common (except those that don’t for religious reasons, which is just stupid to me; God didn’t give us bodies so that we could sit around and not enjoy them), and to me, it’s great and heartwarming to see a celebration of the commonalities of all people all around the world. . .especially nowadays when it seems the world at large would rather focus on, and fight over, the differences between cultures.

Bravo to Matt and his crew for doing this video, and bravo to Stride Gum for supporting the project.

**************************

This isn’t so much a “feel good” story as it is a “feel glad you’re not this person story,” but I still found it very interesting and thought I’d share.  This story comes to us from the Last Days column of last week’s The Stranger, a local weekly paper here in Seattle (their review of The Love Guru is hilarious, by the way).

This is the story, in my words:  Two weeks ago, a woman was found dead in her apartment in Germany, presumably of natural causes.  Here’s the twist: none of her neighbours remembered seeing the woman after 1966, meaning she’d probably been dead for 42 years before anyone thought to break into the apartment and look for her.  One neighbour stated that they’d assumed she’d moved out to live with family elsewhere.  As the woman was only 42 years old at the time of her presumptive demise, I guess they didn’t think that maybe she’d died.  Her last cup of tea was still sitting on the table in front of her, though God only knows what could have grown and died in that cup by then.

I have questions here.  If she had family, what did they think had happened to her?  How was her rent being paid?  Was absolutely no one else interested in renting the apartment in 42 fucking years?

Think about that the next time you feel lonely or that no one cares about you; it kind of puts loneliness into perspective for me.

*************************

Just to end this on a completely silly note, you can click here to read about the breakdown of chiplomatic relations between Fritolaysia and Snakistan.  I swear that reads like an old Mad Magazine article.

Feeling better yet?

VS – 7.1.08

While Your Media Was Sleeping. . .

Posted in media failure, politics, war with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 11, 2008 by vagabondsaint

Ah, the Fourth Estate. Envisioned by our founding fathers as a means of keeping tabs on the government, on bringing the truth to the people via the free press should ever the government attempt to lie to and manipulate the American people. . .

Where did it all go wrong?

Oh yeah. . .government deregulation in the 80s allowed corporations to buy up media outlets at a fantastic rate and thereby control their output. That’‘s where it went wrong.

So now our fabulous news media has become, by and large, a corporate shill that seems sometimes designed more to keep the truth away from the American people, thereby depriving them of the information needed to make informed choices about their government and corporations.

Cases in point: these three news stories went almost completely ignored by the media in the past few weeks:

1. Senate Select Committee On Iraq War Intelligence Releases Their Report – This happened June 5, and this report had been eagerly awaited for three years. . .and yet, when it came out, it went almost completely unnoticed. Why? Maybe because the report found that the Bush Administration had manipulated information, suppressed facts, and outright lied to the American people in order to make the case for war. Not only that, but the report also documents “inappropriate” intelligence-gathering activity by the “DoD’s Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, without the knowledge of the Intelligence Community or the State Department.” And exactly how much media coverage did this congressional condemnation of the Bush Administration’s war-hawking receive?

I can’t comment on small presses or even newspapers, as I don’t read every paper in the country. I barely read the local ones. But what I did see of the national coverage amount to this: a 20-second blurb on the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. Katie Couric of CBS had time for a story on gossip being spread over the internet, but not enough time for this report. The 24-hour news channels? Nothing. CNN (which I did watch) had stories on bird-poop facials and kids on YouTube, but nothing about this report. Fox News. . .well, we all know they’re just conservative mouthpieces, so let’s not even talk about what they had on.

So how did I know this report came out? No, I didn’t watch the NBC news. I watch The Daily Show, which did have a story about the report and another one about the media’s lack of coverage of this important story. Sorry kids, but when I get better, more relevant news from a “fake” news show than I do the “real” news, something is fucked up.

By the way, click here if you want to read the report. And click here to watch that episode of The Daily Show.

2. John McCain’s Callous Treatment of His First WifeI’ve been following McCain’s career since the 2000 campaign and I had no clue he even had a first wife, let alone that he was such a dick to her. And with being the presumptive Presidential candidate for the “Family Values” party, you’d think this would get some media attention.

Well, it did. . .from British news paper The Daily Mail, who interviewed McCain’s first wife, Carol. Read the article here. It is, of course, getting media coverage now, since The Daily Mail broke the story (and thanks to The Huffington Post for bringing it to my attention and the friend who brought The Huffington Post to my attention). But the big question here is this: Do we need to start reading British newspapers to find out what’s really going on in America?

(By the way, John McCain, a veteran and POW, also does not support Senator Jim Webb’s new GI BIll, which would cover the expenses of American soldiers who wish to attend any state-run university in their area. When you consider that John McCain has been in the military and in Congress for most of his life, it’s rather interesting that he would deny others access to the taxpayer-money teat he’s been sucking for so long. Just saying, is all.) (This is also covered on that episode of The Daily Show.)

3. Darcy Burner’s Responsible Plan For Ending The Iraq WarI read about this in local Seattle weekly The Stranger last week. For those that don’t read it, I’ll fill you in:

Darcy Burner, a Democrat, ran unsuccessfully in the 2006 elections for the US House of Representatives seat currently held by Republican Dave Reichert. (If his name sounds familiar to you, you’re like me and you’ve spent way too much time studying criminology; as a King County Sherriff’s Department detective in the 80s, Reichert was head of the task force assigned to finding the Green River Killer, and had even arrested Gary Ridgeway but had to let him go for lack of evidence. In 2002, as King County Sherriff, Reichert finally arrested and convicted Ridgeway, who confessed to more than 40 murders as the Green River Killer.) Darcy is running for the same seat again this year, two years wiser and with a secret weapon: she knows how to end the Iraq war.

Burner worked with national security experts and retired generals to come up with her plan, called A Responsible Plan , for ending the war on Iraq. By all accounts, this plan will work and it’s been endorsed by congressional candidates across the country. But national media attention? None. If it hadn’t been for the story in The Stranger, I wouldn’t have known about it (then again, if it weren’t for The Stranger, I would never have known that there are transvestite/transsexual “escorts” in this city, let alone what “santorum”* means. . .you gotta take the good with the bad, is my point here).

It’s also worth noting that no one actually holding a Congressional seat has endorsed this plan. By and large, the endorsers are Democratic challengers for Republican-held Congressional seats. It is also worth noting that this name appears on the list of endorsees: “Brigadier General John Johns (U.S. Army ret.)specialist in counterinsurgency and nation-building”. If the guy specialized in nation-building, and he endorses this plan, why the hell isn’t the media paying attention? For that matter, why wasn’t he part of post-war planning for Iraq? Or even planning for fighting the insurgency?

Sigh.

I’ve ranted too much, and now I have outrage fatigue.

Major media news outlets, do your fucking job.

VS – 6.11.08

* = you don’t want to know.