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

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

SurvivaBall

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,


Sweva


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


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

See ya...wouldn't wanna be ya!

Bye bye Sarah...for now, I guess...as I'm assuming we'll eventually see her head pop up like a jack-in-the-box surprise, promoting some horrific cause.

What will she do next? Perhaps she'll go back to radio...or maybe try to sell us weed wackers on some infomercial.

Oh, I can't wait for that.

For the sake of Alaskans, I couldn't be happier...oh, and thanks Sarah, for helping make bloggers like myself part of the mainstream media. In that regard, with your media and blogger war mongering, you're the greatest thing that ever happened to us.


Ahem, moving on now...next!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Oh, that was smart

Sarah Palin is resigning from the Alaska governorship...and setting aside the fact that I'm not her biggest fan, I must ask: why?

Answer: Palin Logic...yup, sorta like Steely Dan's Pretzel Logic. Makes sense...see? Sure...it makes just about as much sense as her resignation.

WTF? Does she really think this is going to help her ascension to be more effective for the weird stuff she believes in?

Don't try to figure it out, there is no logic here. Haven't you figured that out by now? Don't try to figure it out. It's anyone's guess what this brainiac's next boobhead maneuver is going to be.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Neda

She's the latest to make the ultimate sacrifice in the name of freedom.

An innocent student ~ Neda ~ marching in protest of a fixed election from a crooked Iranian theocracy.

Be warned...it's a little bloody and creepy with her eyes, which seem to be fixing on the person taking the video (appears to be from a phone camera).


Friday, June 19, 2009

Our President is a nice man...sorta.

I realize it sounds like something a kindergartner would say, but it's very basic and true.

This week, Mr. Obama expanded Federal benefits to include same sex partners...and while some say it should have happened sooner, I'm guessing he's had more pressing matters to deal with.


Wow, we have a human being in office. Imagine that.

...but some in the gay community thought he could have done more.

Nevertheless, this is yet another sign of our progress as a society, and a mark of kindness and openness from our President. It's a sign of the great man that he is...even though he isn't personally in favor of all the rights that homosexuals seek in this country (Obama supports civil unions, but not gay marriage), he still understands what it is to be fair.

This also sets an excellent example for states, counties, and cities, which eventually (hopefully) will follow suit...along with Congress, who is the only body that can allow for full bennies to domestic partners of Federal staff.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Yet ANOTHER "enemies list" in an angered Nixon Camp



It's remembered only by those who are in their mid-40s or older...and the only reason I remember it in my early 40s is due to the fact that I grew up in a Republican household that kept the television on after I watched Sesame Street and my afternoon cartoons.

It's the story that keeps on giving, and seems to never want to die.

It's called WATERGATE.

Aside from having evolved into part of the political linguistics that define anything resembling a scandal with a President or Governor (x-gate), Watergate seems to rear it's head back every few years with new information. There were the Frost-Nixon interviews of the late 70s...then there was always the "What's he doing now?" period at the end of Nixon's life, when he was trying to salvage his image. For years we didn't know who Deep Throat was, but then that was revealed in a deathbed confession in the last 10 years.

Now, in 2009 and 15 years following Nixon's passing, a new (and most amusing) twist on Watergate has arisen.

According to Newsweek, the Nixon Presidential Library, in commemorating the 37th Anniversary of Watergate (Nixon was also the 37th President of the United States), has decided to invite none other than John Dean to speak at the event.

Yes, you read that correctly...the John Dean who resigned as Nixon's White House attorney and pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice after testifying about his boss's role in the cover-up.

Needless to say, the Nixon Camp is livid...a former communications aide of Nixon's has been quoted as describing it this way: "It's like having Monica Lewinsky speak at the Clinton Library."

It doesn't end there.

Caught in the crossfire is historian Timothy Naftali, who took over as the library's director over two years ago when the Nixon Library was handed over to the publicly run archives. It was his idea to invite Dean.

It's also helpful to understand that before the library was handed over to the public archives, it was run by the Nixon Foundation...and when I personally visited it in 2002, the whole operation was completely sanitized of anything Watergate-related or ANYTHING, for that matter, that even suggested anything negative about the Nixon Presidency.

That being said, it's the privately run Nixon Foundation and its officials (comprised of Henry Kissinger, George Schultz and Nixon's two daughters), who are upset about the Dean appearance...so much that they have compiled an "enemies list" to the effect of this anticipated event.

An enemies list in the Nixon camp? Really? Like the long blacklist of names Nixon himself had in the Oval Office during his Presidency?

You know, THAT list...the one with the reporters and conspiring Hollywood actors on it...and some 95 yr old grandma who was thought to be a spy when she was merely mailing the White House to shame Nixon in the early 70s.

Now do you know what list I'm talking about?

I can't begin to express the level of amusement that this conjures up, having been fascinated with Nixon since I was basically 4 years of age...and this only further perpetuates the enigma surrounding Nixon, who I see as the most fascinating and complicated President of the 20th Century.

Such an interesting development...I guess the apple doesn't fall to far from the tree.

My guess is that these new developments are a reaction to how sanitized the Nixon Library has been up to this point...and believe me, it has DEFINITELY been sanitized, sterilized, and disinfected.

Until now.

In anticipation of Dean's appearance at this event, apparently we can expect some serious fireworks! Apparently Dean is going to be revealing some damning new details with Nixon's role in Watergate. Quoting Dean in a recent interview with Newsweek: "They're going to be particularly unhappy when they hear what I have to say."

I'll leave you with another nice little ditty from the Trickster himself...and this one isn't altered...it's the genuine article from Tricky Dick himself!