"There's not a Red America, or a Blue America, there's the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA." ---Barack Obama, 2004

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Gifford shooting: 1 shooter, 1 gun, 1 magazine, 31 rounds

A vigil is held for Gifford
Jared Lee Loughner, the shooter in a quiet northwestern part of Tucson yesterday, carried with him a gun with a magazine containing 31 rounds.

31 rounds in 1 magazine.  I wonder what that might sound like.

let's see what that sounds like. 

9 Year old Christina Green.
Federal Judge Roll

Final tally: 31 rounds, 6 dead, 20 injured.  Among the dead include 9 year old Christina Green and a Federal Judge.


Here we go again.  

It's like Virginia Tech and the rest.

Banning assault weapons and limits on gun magazines has been my argument all along...for years...and the Obama Administration's kowtowing to the right and NRA interests has done absolutely nothing to bring any progress to this issue.  I've been balking about magazines of 19...until yesterday I didn't even know you could get 31-round mags.

A magazine of 31 is designed for one thing: to kill another human.  There's no way to argue around that fact.

Sadly, yesterday should provide some motivation to put an end to such things...but unfortunately not before there's more spilled blood.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Don't Ask Don't Tell REPEALED: Senator McCain, choke on THAT!

Hit the deck! Senator McCain sneers once again.
I would imagine that right about now Senator John McCain is in the middle of a hissy fit, spitting nails in every direction, at whoever has the pleasure of being in his crosshairs.  Oh, and of course with that timeless sneer that only a Liberal, centrist, or Independent can chuckle at.

Then, let's see...he's probably throwing some creepy shape-shifter faces at his wife, followed by the c-word in a variety of creative sentences...which is a stretch in that department of his brain, as he usually likes to jump barbed wire fence away from any idea that's creative or remotely outside the box.  

But this is a special day for Senator McCain...as Don't Ask Don't Tell has been repealed...so we start to watch him spit as he yells.  That icky white pasty stuff starts to cake at the corners of his mouth. 

Tissue please?  We need a little help over here in this corner of the chamber...no, with the "other" Republican white-haired gent.  Yes, this one.
I'm sure after that episode, his crosshairs then move to his daughter, and her more centrist pro-gay views, where he has saved a special grab bag of a few choice words for her.  By this time there's drool coming out of the corners of his mouth.
Let's see...what happens next.  Then it's time to hit the bottle I suppose, if he already didn't start the day early within 30 seconds of entering his office after today's Senate activity.  Needless to say, I'm sure he's throwing a few back tonight, crying in his scotch after today's activity on the Senate floor.

What can I do to help...let's see...oh, I got it.  "Here's another tissue for your issue."

The vote finally passed in the Senate today, and President Obama will sign it into law on Monday.  Gays will finally be able to serve openly in the military without the risk of repercussions.

No thanks to you, John McCain.  The times are a-changin', there's no doubt.  Unfortunately some Senators are too old and stubborn -- waaaaay past their shelf life of serving -- to know the difference.

This country, society, and the world for that matter, will simply shove them out of the way and move right past them.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Living in the "Age of Stupid"

I've always admired and held in high esteem the European world view.  As a people, and from a general political standpoint, they're smarter than us.  I base this not so much on research and what I hear or read as I do on my travels, personal experience, and many deeply political conversations I've had with the Danish, Norwegians, Brits, Germans, Italians, Spaniards, French, Croatians, Serbians, Romanians, and others.

I feel like they have some very relevant and well thought out ideas about the world and the future...particularly with respect to the planet's future from an environmental standpoint.

To add insult to injury, they're subject to American stupidity with the way our political system works and seldom budges away from its rigidity, apathetic hubris, and attacks on each other on Capitol Hill in the form of self-interest and slutty corporate interests (like it might be today perhaps? Name the issue, any issue).  

Europeans don't understand the lack of progress and why they need to bend to us...and I frankly don't understand why they have the tolerance...but in my experience, it's simple.  They're generally tolerant, worldly, peace-loving people who understand what it is to show some respect, and they employ a little hope to go along with it...and usually do it all with a pint of ale or a glass of wine in their hand...not a bad way to live!  

I need to get my butt back to that neck of the woods, over that Atlantic pond.

I feel their pain...I also have adopted their view as part of my credo on how I imagine my America can be.  I don't think we should turn into Europe -- that's not what I'm saying -- but I do think they have some interesting ideas on how to run aspects of their society...ideas that are difficult to poke holes into.  Perhaps America can find a hybrid of one of those good ideas, or as least that's my hope.

 This all being said, here's an interesting post to Dead Air Space, the blog on the British band Radiohead's website.  Thom Yorke, the lead singer and an ardent environmental activist, is usually the one you hear from, and he attended the Copenhagen Summit which I blogged about over at Sweva's P-patch...but the other members of the band also have some interesting things to say along the same lines.  Here's a post from guitarist Ed O'Brien that really hit home...it was good to read what he had to say...I hope he posts more often!
A rant and some other stuff

I haven’t spoken to Thom yet, but judging by his entries here and reading today’s papers the outcome of Copenhagen is a bloody disgrace … I wanted to put something up on DAS, as a kind of personal round-up to the year (also because I rather pathetically don’t contribute much to this), so excuse me if I kick off in a somewhat dejected manner, because in fact none of what I write seems at all relevant or important in the face of serious climate change …. This is the bottom line for all our lives whether we choose to face it or not, and believe me I choose not to most of the time in the name of my own personal happiness and subsequently of those around me … anyway here goes ..
I read an interesting book in the Summer by a man called Terence McKenna, entitled “Food of the Gods” .. his hypothesis is that certain natural plants have been integral in explaining mankind’s development in the spheres of language, intelligence and culture… it’s really fascinating, but a particular passage popped out at me, whilst reading, and it seems particularly relevant now:
“Looking down on Los Angeles from an airliner, I I never fail to notice that it is like looking at a printed circuit: all those curved driveways and cul de sacs with the same little modules installed along each one. As long as the ‘Reader’s Digest’ stays subscribed to and the TV stays on, these modules are all interchangeable parts within a very large machine. This is the nightmarish reality….. the creation of the public as a herd. The public has no history and no future, the public lives in a golden moment created by a credit system which binds them ineluctably to a web of illusions that is never critiqued. This is the ultimate consequence of having broken off the symbiotic relationship with the Gaian matrix of the planet. This is the consequence of lack of partnership; this is the legacy of imbalance between sexes; this is the terminal phase of a long descent into meaninglessness and toxic existential confusion.”
Now, I don’t walk around with this stuff in my head every hour of each day, in fact the opposite would be true. I’m happy feeling so grateful to the deck of cards that I’ve been dealt. Yet it’s always there, this knowing that we are all living in “The Age of Stupid’ … I’m sure most people feel the same way….. Yet our leaders seem incapable of leading … managing would seem a better word, or rather mismanaging…… Leadership implies wisdom; it implies vision and dynamism; the ability to foresee problems, create solutions and see them through … does that sound like our leaders? NO it doesn’t… And why is this not the case? What is preventing them from leading? Is it the power of big business/corporations/ the financial industries? It looks increasingly like it … vested fucking interests, no degree of what’s fair for all … plain and simple self-interest. I don’t know about you but most people I know don’t make decisions solely on what works best for them … it’s a balance between what is good for others too…
This is officially a rant now and I may not post it .. apologies to my brothers in the band if they are reading this and don’t like it .. tell me I’m being an arse and I’ll take it down..

Flashes of the alternate reality of corruption and Fascism that could have been

So it appears that there actually WAS IN FACT a right-hand "handyman," literally, in the governorship while Sara Palin inhabited the office in the great State of Alaska...

...and who is this handyman?  Well let me tell you...his name is...Todd Palin!  How 'bout dat.  Read all about it here!  

As if any of this was any surprise....Oh Sarah...and we joke about it now, but remember: less than 15 months ago, this was a person who was running to be a heartbeat away from the Presidency.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Obama-Orszag team schools the GOP on their own turf

President Obama, outnumbered 140-1 in Baltimore yesterday at the House GOP retreat, skillfully performed in an unscripted, untelepromptered Q&A session on the most difficult core questions pressing politics today.

No matter how you slice it, there's no denying how Obama is truly the master of the debate. This exchange is a sight to behold, and an impressive display of politics to study...Democrats, Independents, and Republicans (especially) need to all watch it:  See the full Q&A exchange between Obama and the GOP at this link, on the C-SPAN module provided if you scroll down a bit.

I can't help but gloating slightly here -- only as a natural human reaction to the countless accounts of screaming, demonizing, and disrespect that's spewed forth from the lunatic fringe element of the GOP towards President Obama in his first year in office.  It's been frustrating to watch. Most of it -- if not all of it -- has been totally unfair and the GOP have really given him no chance to act and preside in the manner that he is capable of. 

However, yesterday Obama essentially volleyed all of the garbage the GOP has launched at him over the last year back in their direction...he did it in a direct manner, but of course with a smile on his face.

Nobody can question now -- if by some mistake they did before -- as to whether or not President Obama knows his stuff.  This guy is for real...and as some pundits were saying on television last night, it should be obvious that the most capable and qualified person for the highest office in the land, the presidency of the United States, has filled it.

Not only did Obama have perhaps the best day of his presidency so far, in how he calmly and smoothly handled a barrage of questions from GOP leaders (if you even call those questions), but the unsung hero is Peter Orzag, Obama's cheif economic adviser (pictured with him at the top), who helped to debrief him before he went into the room. 

The GOP keeps making the same miscalculations of underestimating the ability of this President...and they did so again yesterday when he attended the House GOP retreat in Baltimore.

I'm hopeful that there was a pivot point yesterday and that something positive can come out of the Q & A session that occurred between the President and Republicans at this retreat.  I hope the air has been cleared (along with some of the brush) for these folks to finally start working with the President on issues that desperately need attention...so that we can make some progress in this country on vital things such as health care reform, a clear and green-oriented energy and climate plan, and other things down the road such as immigration reform.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Libertarian's take on the latest SCOTUS decision involving CFR

For some reason, the Libertarian view has always fascinated me...and not necessarily in a bad way. In some ways, I see their perspective and agree with them on most things on the social front.

A close Libertarian friend of mine passed this along to me earlier today, from another one of her Libertarian friends...it's worth checking out and mulling over.

To all my friends who have been braying about CFR. You might find things you agree and disagree with in here. As I am always refining my position, I'd love to hear your thoughts...

My friends who are pro CFR have a healthy and well-intentioned fear of corporatism. When big business and the government get too cozy we can rightfully call this relationship fascism-- that's exactly what it is by definition. And this state of affairs is rightfully to be avoided. Fascism is basically socialism for business. America is and always has been in danger of creeping fascism, and some fear that stripping away the "check" that CFR provided will accelerate that movement. There's a recent NYT article that essentially refutes the argument that CFR or any corporate giving to politicians have influenced votes or elections-- something I knew before this issue reemerged on the political radar, but something that not everyone can readily accept.

CFR was "bad" law, found to be unconstitutional by the SCOTUS. CFR punished some forms of group expression and not others. For example, unions had a number of ways of skirting the CFR laws, and newspaper editorial columns were exempt from the CFR restrictions altogether-- but some filmmakers who made a film under an LLC could not present their anti-Hillary Clinton film 30 days prior to the election. Why is the corporate owned New York Times allowed to stump for a candidate and not the filmmakers? Or Starbucks? Or Microsoft? Well, they may now do so-- at the peril of alienating vast numbers of consumers, especially given the fact that now they will be compelled to disclose their identities on any political ad, something that COULD BE AVOIDED with soft-money contributions in the CFR era.

I also fear creeping fascism. My libertarian philosophy is engaged in a constant struggle to accept freedom along with the dangers said freedom also presents. But I have a different approach to the solution. Instead of looking for new laws to restrict freedoms on various classes of people and groups, I seek ways to correct existing law that is not in keeping with my principles. As a libertarian, I am against many types of welfare, including corporate welfare. I am against laws that establish protected classes of individuals and groups. And I am for Constitutional amendments that clarify and specify our nation's intent.

The concept of any group not having the same rights as an individual is very Constitutionally core and must be addressed through the amendment process. This would be analogous to the debate over the 2nd amendment's right to either an individual's right versus a group right to bear arms. Ironically, here, it is the left who favors the group's right-- not the individual. This is another core issue that most Constitutional scholars claim must either be "left alone" or directly amended to reflect a new point of view.

Most of my friends on Facebook and in real life are democrats, progressives and liberals of various stripes. And it must be a drag to have a lurking libertarian in your midst-- truly libertarians are an unloved bunch-- hated by the right for our fierce love of social rights, and hated by the left for our strict interpretation of the Constitution. But, I hope you'll take this opportunity to understand that even people who disagree with you on this point of law, do so with full knowledge of the consequences, and believe that a strict adherence to the exact wording in the Constitution is a far better approach than passing bad laws that attempt to counter other bad laws.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Welcome to the United Corporations of America...UCA! UCA! UCA!

In case you're wondering -- with yesterday's Supreme Court decision allowing for unlimited corporate campaign contributions to elections -- your democracy as you know it just changed overnight into a "corporacracy," if there's such a word.

If there isn't such a word, there it is...I just friggin made it up.

You're now living in a nation where every elected position in the land, from President and Congress down to State, County, and City/Town Councils, can be -- and mark my words, WILL BE -- bought. This isn't the case a decade from now, nor a year from now...this is EFFECTIVE TODAY. Politicians will be nothing short of prostitutes and whores to corporate America.

Supreme Court Justice John Roberts and his 4 other conservative colleagues -- the men who planted George W. Bush into the Presidency in 2000 -- yesterday overturned over 100 years of repeated common law decisions limiting corporate spending on campaigns...and thus flushed our future further down the shitter.

So there goes our democracy, floating down the river and out to the ocean, reduced to a stinky slutty sea pickle.

That being said, we should get familiar with the flag (above) and the Pledge of Allegiance to our new corporacracy, the UCA.

I pledge allegiance to the flag

of the United Corporations of America

and to the soulless money whores for which it stands,

one Ruse under CEO,

divisible or merging with fishnets on,

and justice for deep pockets.

Enjoy your new country as you watch your future erode into Fascism -- unless something can be done, and done quickly, to reverse this decision, or its effects.

Be sure to celebrate this day with a walk in the park and a snack...because at some point down the road the memories of a calm hang in a park with a snack might be all you have to hold onto.

So what are you going to do about it?

Bear this in mind...this is worse than the Dred Scott decision in the 1850s that started the Civil War...and this makes something like the specter of Roe vs. Wade being overturned (which may be soon to follow, it wouldn't surprise me) seem like a minor inconvenience...this decision simply gobbles up anything and everything else that means anything in our country.

So what are you going to do about it?

Unless something's done to remedy this insane and horrible decision, this is the start of the Dark Ages...and if it means civil war, then so be it. Bring it on. I plan on dying a free man...do you?

So what are you going to do about it?

Have a nice day.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Pandemic of Voter Apathy

It's presence in American politics seems to be inevitable, like that hideous hairy mole that appears on your face with age when you're too old to be bothered to do anything about it...or the nagging mother-in-law who won't shut the f##k up.

The recent election of Scott Brown involved apathy on several levels. First, the Democratic candidate was a complete idiot...she made the #1 mistake in politics: never assume the election is a lock. She only has herself to blame; she completely blew it. Period.

Not only did she just blow an election, but she gave up Ted Kennedy's seat -- a seat held by the Democrats for half a century.

Still, despite any anger or frustration with the system, Mass. voters shouold have known better and understood what's at stake. Why didn't they? Here's my take.
  1. Selfishness. When you have a state-run health care system that takes care of you, why worry about the rest of the country? Who cares about the other guy? Apparently very few...apparently it's too easy to get caught up in the hysteria of your own little world and "make a point at the polling booth"...assuming you hopefully know what you're doing, which leads me to my next point.
  2. Short-sightedness. Apparenty the voters of Mass. have a case of severe short-term memory loss, or passed out from too much Sam Adams winter ale. Uh, recall what Americans did to try getting things moving again in the last election? Yes, that would be called progress.
  3. Plain old apathy. Recall how we voted in more Progressives because we were tired of the same old politics from Conservatives? Sometimes creating fundamental change canvasses more than one election cycle...so all this being said, what sort of change, my Commonwealth Bostonian voter, do you expect to see if you tip the scales back into the hands of Conservatives? Christ, you're a friggin Dem...what's that all about? Apparently pulling your head out of your ass isn't one of your strong suits.
Apparently with Ted Kennedy's passing also passed health care reform legislation in its current form as we know it...but why is that necessary?

My answer: We need to go nuclear. Dems need to grow a goddam backbone for once and pony up to eliminate the filibuster, which was originally intended as a seldom-used tactic but has become commonplace in Washington nowadays to the effect that we're deadlocked and can't get anything done. This is supposed to be a democracy where the majority rules, NOT A SUPERMAJORITY.

If the filibuster isn't eliminated, and eliminated soon, we're screwed on all the issues: health care, clean energy, immigration...everything.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Chronicles of PlanetWrecker: Part 1

I've intended for some time now to reveal a fable, if you will, about a sort of character. We'll call him "PlanetWrecker."

He's hiding behind the stained glass window for now...but trust me, we'll reveal more of his "hot looks" later on. I'll leave it up to you to determine if he's fact or fiction.

Let's do a brief pass over the general tendencies of our character. PlanetWrecker is of a ruthless mindset. He has one sole objective; money and power. PlanetWrecker cares little about the wreckage that he leaves in his wake (and, uh, there's quite a bit of it), be it family (including effects on his own children), strangers, and the planet as a whole. More on all those elements later, with lots of dirty details.

Not beyond our surprise, he actually makes his money by destroying the planet...hence, the moniker of PlanetWrecker.

So we've established, relatively speaking, some of PlanetWrecker's tendencies and mindset...but what forms such a mindset? Who or what shaped PlanetWrecker to become what he is? If we look into his past, can we figure out what morphed him into the planet-wrecking son of a bitch fishnet stocking-wearing money whore that he is? How do we wrap our minds around the opera that is his life?

We'll take a stab at it.

PlanetWrecker was born in the early 1950s in the Northeast U.S. Early on, a tough father of Slavic origins ingrained the necessary survival skills in him, with a take-no-prisoners approach: kill or be killed. Of course, this was a pattern carried down from PlanetWrecker's father's father, and so forth -- once again, the cycle never breaks.

A stern life rubric was pounded into PlanetWrecker: a view that life is survival of the fittest and take no prisoners...follow the rules, don't break them...strategize so you're always 3 moves ahead of your opponent...and if it's a trusted counterpart or colleague, you'll get the chance to put the knife in when his/her back's turned to you.

Also, it was conveyed that everything that falls into one's path should be evaluated on its resourcefulness or economic value -- otherwise it's of no use. If it's of no use, it should be tossed aside, and onto the next thing.

While this view is self-serving and may garner one some successes, unfortunately it's an unhealthy path on which to tread, and some of the shrapnel inflicted on those around you who you damage may come back to bite you.

We'll get into more specifics, and unveil more of PlanetWrecker's superopera in the next episode of The Chronicles of PlanetWrecker.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

America's Steamy Holiday Stinker

Happy holidays America!

Here's your early X-Mas gift!

No, no, go ahead and unwrap it while we watch, it's okay.

Let's see...hmm...just let me unwrap this end here...oh, you taped it up and packaged it so well, it's taking me extra time here to get into it!

Okay, I unwrapped it...oh, a box! I wonder what's in the box? Oh, that's right, I need to read the note first!

The note says: "Courtesy of the United States Senate, Washington D.C. Have a relaxing, pleasant, and HEALTHY holiday."

Just then I notice that something's starting to stink, and I proceed to open the box...

"Wow! Thank you! I've always wanted this! My very own health care reform SHIT SANDWICH for X-Mas! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!"

Boy am I glad I'm an Independent right now. Should I hang my hat on that? Sure. With pride. That'll do.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sheriff Arpaio: Arizona's Public Enemy #1

I want to start out by saying that I don't normally -- or like to -- target law enforcement officers in my blog. I have the utmost respect for their kind and what they do, and I personally know some Seattle cops. I'm also heartbroken over the recent murders of 5 police officers in the Puget Sound area.

However, I'm focused on an individual today who is an exception to the noble profession of the police...a man who, for many years, has been degrading all other cops around the country, and retarding what it means to be a law enforcement officer. He erodes the great reputation of his profession and the very concept of public service in general.
He disgraces law enforcement, period.

Having spent 16 years of my life in Arizona, I'm very familiar with the ways, means, and tactics of Maricopa County Sherrif Joe Arpaio. I'll let you google his name to look him up on your own, but one thing's safe to say: you don't ever want to get pulled over in Maricopa County, or Arizona at all for that matter, if you even have anything to the effect of or resembling an unpaid parking ticket. Chances are pretty good that you'll get hauled into jail...and while you might encounter an understanding cop, he/she is more than likely in the same school of thought as Arpaio and will do everything in their power to at least detain you, even if they don't have a good reason to arrest you.

That's because if he could be judge, jury, and executioner, Arpaio would be all three...including for petty crimes such as clapping at a county supervisor's meeting, which this article talks about, among other things.

His actions, however, aren't completely without reactions or consequences. Here's an article on his interview at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism on the ASU campus that he walked out of due to protesters. Boy I wish I could have been there to see that! Hopefully he left the stage shaking his fist in the air shouting "You Liberals!" Well, probably not. It's still fun to imagine.

Allow me to back up a bit, since the story of Sheriff Arpaio is based out of Phoenix and Maricopa County in the late 1980s.

There was a time when someone like Arpaio sounded like a good idea. In the early 1990s, Phoenix's crime was out of control, and the public were losing their tolerance with endless accounts of innocent folks killed by drunk drivers. Many of the accounts of bad behavior and violence stemmed from much of Arizona's transient population and newcomers who had very little vested in their communities, or were in the state under shady pretenses to begin with.

So when Joe Arpaio came up for election as Maricopa County Sherrif in the early 90s, promising to "clean house," the public drones, in a typical and predictable knee-jerk reaction, jumped all over it.

Something needs to be understood about the makeup of the Maricopa County populous...let's see...how do I explain this. It presents for the most part an obedient audience, sorta like the minions who won't put up a fight or dare to speak out against the Evil Galactic Empire in a Star Wars movie. Those who put Arpaio into office are folks who don't think much for themselves, much less dare to in the first place. They vote out of fear; there's really no other explanation to the phenomena of voting for and empowering a coward like Arpaio.

If you consider that public mindset and the added theater Arpaio puts on for the news (being the media whore that he is) about how he's doing "this," cleaning up "that," and implementing the "other" -- with all that "media meat" sandwiched in a "bun of fear" through the spectre of "all the problems caused by illegal immigrants," if you follow the bad analogy -- then you have the perfect recipe for mass deception and brainwashing...not to suggest that the web Arpaio spins is that complicated, as I don't think the man's really that smart. It has more to do with the public he served in his county than any brainchild maneuver on his part.

So, needless to say, it's been a mess of accounts of racial profiling episodes, and a host of horrors for the Hispanic community in Phoenix, capped by accounts this past decade of ripping families apart and sending members out of the country in middle of the night house raids. Sure, some of these folks have been illegal, but many also have not. When one considers the potpourri of countless rights-trampling escapades and how many innocent lives have been destroyed and disrupted, one might start to wonder.

As first, some of the stories coming out of his summer jail camp episodes, such as making inmates wear pink underwear, came across as funny and cute. However, as the surface started to get peeled back and as more stories about inhumane conditions were brought out into the light (many, oddly enough, by Arpaio himself), things weren't really that funny and cute anymore. Many were left asking: "...and why exactly is this necessary?"

I'd imagine it all has the same effect as torturing terrorists in Guantamano Bay; you don't cut down on crime by humiliating and dehumanizing criminals, let alone someone who's been pulled over for a petty traffic infraction or an expired parking ticket. You tend to get the opposite reaction -- breeding fear and hatred towards law enforcement and government in general, for that matter.

Being not exactly the youngest kid on the block, it seems to be rather simple. Bad behavior manufactures, well, bad behavior. One might think that a slightly more balanced approach to handling a jail one-timer who goofed or had a bad day is different from how the system handles, say, a really bad criminal such as a murderer -- AND NOT THROW THEM IN TENT CITY TOGETHER. Just a thought.

So what does one do with Arpaio and his cronies? I guess it's simple...but there's good news and bad news about this guy. Good news first.

You can get rid of the guy by voting him out. Now here's the bad news.

Unfortunately we're talking about Maricopa County; the most populated county in a state of mainly anti-government transplants who, in my opinion, are either retired and don't want taxes (usually Republicans), the types "running away from something" (also typically Republicans by nature, as they're usually anti-govt due to past experience or run-ins with the law), or just simply trying to "start over" from a former life. That being said, there are few Arizona natives...they're totally outnumbered.

So then, needles to say, the place is run from top to bottom by the lunatic fringe...meaning people who are intolerant and don't understand what dignity is. Hardliners on petty crimes who think everyday folks who have no record and goof, or make a mistake once, should be "taught a lesson" and thrown in jail with murderers. People who rule their lives by fear, because that's how they were brought up or the society conditioned them that way. It's all they know.

The following is a post I put up on the Spokane Examiner in response to comments assuming it's all Liberals making the noise against Arpaio's fascist regime.

It's not all Liberals who oppose Arpaio's fascist ways of policing...plenty of conservatives and Republicans are unhappy with him, and there's good reason. He has a rap sheet that goes back to the early 90s, and a HORRIFIC track record of stomping on First Amendment rights of everyday citizens.

Unfortunately the majority of the populous in Maricopa County is too brainwashed by anti-immigrant propaganda, and/or too uneducated to understand that the trampled rights of a few mean that the rights of everyone are taken away...like being arrested for clapping in a county supervisor's meeting. That's illegal? You're kidding, right?

Give me a break. If that sort of freedom of expression is being quashed, then Phoenix residents have more serious issues to worry about than the other problems triggered by Arpaio and his henchmen...such as rounding up alleged illegals via racial profiling, and folks with old parking tix being thrown in with murderers in 1930s-style prison camps in 120 degree heat.

Monday, October 19, 2009


Your latest protection against global warming!

My New Heroes

They're called The Yes Men...which I'd imagine is a title borne of sarcasm/purposeful irony, sorta like this blog.

I'd heard of these guys before, but saw them on the news tonight after they pulled a stunt posing as U.S. Chamber of Commerce staff with a fake news conference.

Absolutely beautiful...these guys rock! I'm sure we'll here more from them again...here's a clip of their fake news conference.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Allegories from Kunstler apply to our health care debate

Reading is such a funny activity...it never ceases to fascinate me on how you can be going over subject matter of one thing, and realize as you're going through it how it applies to something completely different.

Books covering the subject matter of urban planning are particularly interesting in this regard, especially when they focus on the philosophy of the field.

I want to share an excerpt from Howard Kunstler, the author of The Geography of Nowhere and its follow-up, Home from Nowhere...this is from the latter.

You'll see, as you go through it, how what he's saying applies to what we're seeing right now in our health care debate; in terms of the conservative perspective vs. the liberals ones...and the question about whether we can tap into our better angels.

Starting from p. 37, Chapter 2: The Public Realm and the Common Good:

"Main Street USA in America's obsolete model for development---we stopped assembling towns this way after 1945. The pattern of Main Street is pretty simple: mixed use, mixed income, apartments and offices over the stores, moderate density, scaled to pedestrians, vehicles permitted but not allowed to dominate, buildings detailed with care, and built to last (although we still trashed it). Altogether it was a pretty good development pattern. It produced places that people loved deeply. That is the reason Main Street persists in our cultural memory. Many people still alive remember the years before World War Two and what it felt like to live in integral towns modeled on this pattern. Physical remnants of the pattern still stand in parts of the country for people to see, though the majority of Americans have moved into the new model habitat called Suburban Sprawl.

For all its apparent success, Suburban Sprawl sorely lacks many things that make life worth living, particularly civic amenities, which Main Street offered in spades. Deep down, many Americans are dissatisfied with suburbia---though they have trouble understanding what's missing---which explains their nostalgia for the earlier model. Their dissatisfaction is literally a
dis-ease. They feel vaguely and generally un-well where they are. Nostalgia in its original sense means homesickness. Americans essay to cure their homesickness with costly visits to Disney World. The crude, ineffective pallaitives they get there in the form of brass bands and choo-choo train rides leave them more homesick and more baffled as to the nature of the their disease than when they arrived---like selling chocolate bars to someone suffereing from scurvy---and pathetically, of course, they must return afterward to the very places that induce the disease of homesickness.

Historically Americans have a low regard for the public realm, and this is very unfotunate because the public realm is the physical manifestation of the common good. When you degrade the public realm, as we have, you degrade the common good.

The public realm is furnished with some nonphysical equipment in the form of laws, beliefs, social agreements, and preeminently language, which enables all these other mechanisms to operate. One might call language the
basic operating system of the public realm, without which all the other applications needed to run human society would not function. When you degrade this equipment, this language, as we have in our time, then you impair the ability of a group of people incorporated as the republic to think about the common good."

Monday, August 24, 2009

My letter to President Obama for EFFECTIVE health insurance reform

I've had this in the works, in my mind for a long time...years, actually. It's just been a matter of getting it on paper, and TIMING.

The time is now.

So now, this last weekend, I put something together and mailed it off to the White House, addressed to the 44th President of the United States.

I've also written my two Democratic Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, in addition to Ted Kennedy, to thank them for their efforts.

It didn't end there.

I've written my representative in the House, Republican Dave Reichert, and cc'd copies of that letter to House Republican Minority Leader John Boehner of the 8th District of Ohio, as well as Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky...in hopes (probably in vain) that my family's story will have some effect.

All the letters are nearly identical, with the initial and ending paragraphs differing slightly...the one to Republicans is more about urging bipartisan support.

It will be interesting to see where this all goes. It's a bit of a protracted letter, and I'm sure there's some out there that are more concise, so I'm not expecting it to necessarily be in the "A Group" to appear before eyes such as Obama's...but if it gets before the right person, and hits home, I'm hoping it has great possibilities of effect.

We shall see...here's the text from the letter.

August 24, 2009

President Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, D.C. 20500

Re: My family’s story with regard to the need for EFFECTIVE health insurance reform

Dear President Obama:

I write you today with a heavy heart—and hope—in the push for effective legislation to reform our health insurance system so that it will function in a way that does not rob covered working families of their golden years. Unfortunately, my family—along with many other American families—has direct experience with the failures of the current system; while acting responsibly with full health coverage.

You are the first U.S. President I have ever written to. I’m currently 40, and a technical writer with a background in city planning…and a 3rd generation only child like my mother and her father before her. My folks were born during the Great Depression, and the practice of fiscal conservatism was ingrained in them at a young age. They developed a jack-of-all-trades skill set; my mother’s background in teaching, nursing, & administration, and my father’s in civil engineering & international sales helped them build a successful manufacturer’s rep business after working for various employers in the 1960s and 70s. In the 1980s they converted the basement of our Seattle area house into an office, and their dynamic skills shined bright as they put passion, time, and diligence into the business.

I recall my father insisting that he wear a button-down shirt and tie before embarking on his commute of twelve stairs into our basement office. He never deviated from that rule once, as it helped get his head right for the workday. While it may seem like a small act, it’s a testament to his work ethic. The business, the xxx, was very successful going into the 1990s…there was every indication my folks were on their way to achieving their retirement dreams through hard work.

Then tragedy hit the family. In June of 1993 my father (57 at the time, fit, and physically active with an impeccable bill of health) suffered a cerebral hemorrhage that snuck up on him; things were fine one minute as we were having Sunday dinner, and then after a rush to the hospital he was in the middle of brain surgery nine hours later. Luckily he survived, but not without some damage to his speech center, right side, and other effects from the trauma. Over the course of the next couple of years my father endured a total of 3 brain surgeries, along with ICU stays, protracted in-patient hospital stays, long stretches of therapy, and a smorgasbord of medications. His speech therapy continues to this day.

As sole proprietors, my parent’s insurance premiums to Regents Blue Shield were approximately $1,500 per month—in 1993…it was the best coverage they could get at the time from their menu of options. Yet, Regents refused coverage for decisions made by the hospital in the use of certain specialists, they went after every possible loophole, and bird-dogged every charge associated with my father’s illness. As if being a small family dealing with this tragedy wasn’t enough, the costs (in the range of 100K) nearly bankrupted my folks and triggered a domino effect of slow financial decline (when you factor in the loss of income from my father’s inability to work) that forces my mother to continue working in other capacities today—in her 70s. Needless to say, the toll of everything accelerated their aging significantly, to the effect that my involvement in a caretaking role—again, as the only child—is happening much sooner than I expected.

This scenario involving my family is unconscionable. The behavior and games played by their insurance company were despicable. I can’t believe that my parents—who were responsible with finances, worked diligently to make a life and future for themselves, and carried full coverage at the time of an illness—could suddenly become victims and essentially be robbed of their golden years.

If working families like mine—who have coverage and act responsibly—are being victimized like this, then obviously our health insurance system is not only broken, but rigged with merciless pitfalls. In the reform efforts taking place at this time, it is imperative that the final product have teeth in it that will protect working families with meaningful coverage; especially those in that vulnerable age bracket from 50–65, and in doomsday scenarios such as the unpreventable one that presented my father’s illness. I see legislation that’s any less effective as simply adding to an already imploding house of cards.

We all deserve to pursue the American Dream built on our own will and efforts; one that won’t be torpedoed by the health insurance machinations and its complex web of cloaked tiger traps. My parents were on track for a solid retirement before having the rug yanked from under their feet by such devices. They deserved better. This is why I write to you today…so that other families don’t experience the horrors with health insurance that mine went through. As a small business owner (I included a couple cards for you) I’ve followed the example my parents set, and needless to say I am concerned about my own coverage when the cards are on the table (in a situation similar to my father’s, heaven forbid) and scenarios to that effect that could wreck my family’s financial future.

Thank you Mr. President for reading this…and for standing firm on your vision of health insurance reform that’s effective and furthers the efforts of many others before you. I appreciate your continuing efforts and personal sacrifices you have made in the interest of fixing the broken pieces of America—like the issues I speak to here. Let’s further perfect our Union with EFFECTIVE health insurance reform.

Yours truly and respectfully,


Washington State Obama Delegate for the 41st Legislative District 2008 Democratic Caucus

Obama for America campaign fundraiser of approximately $2,000

Cc: Ms. Kathleen Sebelius, United States Secretary of Health and Human Services