Saturday, November 22, 2008

Deep Thought

If the election of Obama as president...

an America-hating Muslim/radical/socialist/Marxist/terrorist-loving, effete arugula-eating/Black liberationist...

represents a victory for center-right conservatives...

then what did McCain/Palin represent?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Charlie Brown CA-04--It's Getting Closer! UPDATED

11-22--Vote count is now 357. Woo-hoo!

From my in-box:

From: Todd Stenhouse, Brown for Congress

This week Charlie, Jan and I made the trip to Washington D.C. for
"Freshman Class Orientation" for the 111 th Congress. It's an exciting time to be in D.C. but it's a reminder we still need to fight to make sure Charlie gets to come back in January.

Click here to help make sure Charlie gets to D.C. for the 111th Congress.

This week marks a critical juncture in the vote counting process and
we need your help. We've made huge gains in the past few days, and
with more than 338,000 ballots counted, and over 29,000 to go, the
current vote margin stands at just 574.

This week, the three largest counties have started verifying and
counting provisional ballots. Historically these trend towards the
Democratic candidate, and therefore are likely to be the most hotly
contested by the McClintock camp.

To win the fight for the provisional ballots - and the election - we
need the legal resources to make sure every provisional vote is
counted-and that can cost up to $5,000 per day.

More of What I'd Like to See Happen

Continuing my list...

Screw health "insurance." Health care for all on demand.

Declassify all files on the Kennedy assination.

Prioritize Hanford cleanup and get a handle on the plume of radioactive waste in the groundwater that's heading towards the Columbia River.

Ban the use of antibiotics and hormones from animal feed.

Adopt Prop 2 anti-cruelty legislation for farm animals as federal law.

Allow tax breaks for landlords of single-family homes for making green, energy efficient upgrades to their rental homes.

Amend the Constitution so that states with more than five million citizens gain another Senate seat.

Eliminate construction of new logging roads and defund current logging road construction projects.

Eliminate funding for new weapons research.

Increase the leasing fees for use of federal lands by ranchers and farmers.

Stop the Navy's new sonar testing and use.

Increae the fees and substantially lessen the time frame for mineral/energy rights leases on federal lands.

Begin a nationwide public education campaign to turn our lights out at night.

Fund the Coast Guard for a laser-beam focus on illegal fishing.

Re-institute the assault weapons ban.

Eliminate tax breaks for corporations like Wal-Mart who refuse to pay their employees high enough wages or provide them with enough work hours per week so that they need to go on public assistance to make ends meet.

Adjust public assistance payments so that there is no upward adjustment in benefits for pregnancies brought to term while on public assistance, but do provide free birth control, free abortions and free sterilizations to recipients.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Prop 8--Taking it to the Mormons Today UPDATED

Today I attended two spontaneously-organized protests of Prop 8.

I'm hetero so I'm not directly affected by Prop 8 or other anti-gay measures, but I am an a-theist, and I am more than ready to push back. Hard. I've got no tolerance anymore for holier-than-thou religious freaks and bigoted, hypocritical a-holes invading people's privacy, imposing religious litmus tests and advancing the purported superiority of their authoritarian, superstitious beliefs as a necessary moral guide for the rest of us. It's obvious to anybody paying attention that these jerks will not stop with eliminating gay rights and abortion rights. They want an American theocracy, and they will push their agendas as far as we let them.

When I heard about the protests I thought, "Fuck it. I'm in." Gay people must have the same civil rights as everybody else in America--including marriage rights. Period.

The first demo started at 8 a.m. at the Mormon church in the University District in Seattle. The second was at the Mormon temple in Bellevue. Only about 30 people were at each event, and the low turnout is attributable to last-minute organizing and word-of-mouth publicity. But both events were effective symbolic throw-downs of the progressive/liberal civil-rights gauntlet against religious bigots.

The afternoon demo was held in front of the temple at the intersection of the temple driveway and a heavily-traveled road about 400 feet away from the temple itself. Demonstrators formed into small groups at the intersection corners. There was a fair amount of honked support from passing drivers, but no in-person interaction with Mormons driving out from the temple parking lot.

In contrast, the morning demo formed a line on the sidewalk directly in front of the church at the entrance steps, which is located on a quiet neighborhood sidestreet, so church attendees had to pass quite near the demonstrators to enter the church. So, the morning demo was more effective.

Most Mormons ignored us and refused eye contact, or simply returned our friendly "Hello" and requests for support with a neutral "Hello." Only one Mormon man went a bit "gorilla" on a couple gay guys--moving aggressively into their personal space and challenging them--but this tense encounter was brief.

I was stunned when two extremely brave Mormons (a young man and a thirtyish woman) walked up and took a place in the demo line. They openly stood with us against their church. After about 10 minutes, they left to attend the service. The woman was crying and saying "Thank you, thank you, thank you." We in turn thanked them for their courage, decency, bravery and their support--and we all loudly applauded and cheered them.

I suspect that their church "elders" will go after them soon enough.

My hope is that repeated public protests at Mormon worship sites combined with targeted boycotts of Prop H8te supporters' businesses will give Mormons who disagree with their church the strength to speak out and agitate for change from within.

UPDATE Some Mormons are apparently gleefully spreading lies and rumors about gay riots in LA at the temple protests and that Seattle demonstrators chained themselves to temple gates. My link feature is down, but check out this Mormon newsblog for a small sample:

John McCain and Sarah Palin--Own Up and Pay Up

I haven't been posting to my blog over the past several weeks, but instead I've been intensely reading and posting at other political blogs and donating to candidates and issues I support.

With the exception of the anti-gay marriage amendments passing, the election losses of some solid, progressive candidates, and the failures of various e-voting machines, I'm elated about the election results. I'm especially grateful for the Massachusetts voters who outlawed dog racing, and for the California voters who voted to provide factory farm animals with some measure of humane care and treatment.

And, of course, I am grateful for Obama/Biden's presidental win.

But--I'm deeply disturbed by the republican's campaign tactics. I understand Obama's call for national unity and coming together to solve our problems, but unless there is a lancing of the boil, so to speak, and an acceptance of responsibility, such unity is likely impossible.

Yeah McCain gave a "sincere" concession speech--but it's not enough. The repugs have nearly 1/2 of the nation believing that Obama is a dangerous radical, and a secret Muslim, and a traitor, and a communist, and a Black Power liberationist, and the anti-Christ--and he needs to be killed.

On edit I will include a link to an article in the London Telegraph quoting the Secret Service that McCain, Palin and the wingnut echo chamber's "palling around with terrorists" line and the "who is the real Obama" campaign crap caused a huge upsurge in the number of specific assassination threats to Obama and his family the likes of which they've never seen before. In addition, the Secret Service disrupted several plots and they are investigating several others.

McCain and Palin have not done nearly enough to repair the damage to the nation that their campaign has wrought. So McCain gave a nice speech when he lost. Whoop de doo. Other than this one speech what has he done? Not one damn thing. And neither has Palin, or Faux News, or Limbaugh, or Savage, or Hannity or any of other the ugly, mean-spirited bastards whose stock in trade is treacherous deceit, and riling up the ignorant and the violent while claiming innocence using plausible deniability.

As a matter of fact, attacks on Obama are continuing, full speed ahead. For example, just today I heard Limbaugh spew this type of garbage:

We're in an Obama recession, folks. The stock market has tanked. Obama has absolutely wrecked this economy. He's wrecked it. And he's not even president yet! And you know, folks, it's only going to get worse. Obama will make sure of it!

During Obama's campaign he appealed to our hopes, our desire for unity, and of caring for others. He also talked about restoring justice, fairness, dignity and decency to our civic discourse and policies. He said that the republicans need to take responsibility and "own their failures" and be held accountable for their actions.

I would love to see all people who voted for Obama/Biden DEMAND that McCain and Palin immediately issue a complete, full retraction and repudiation of their garbage campaign rhetoric and ask for our forgiveness. I want them to admit that all the crap about Ayers, about ACORN, about Rev. Wright, about Obama's citizenship, about his policies, etc.--all of it was just crap they said to win the election.

Without their open acknowledgment and ownership of their campaign crap, their stupid, violent supporters will continue to believe their lies and behave accordingly.

If they have not taken ownership of the harm they have caused America during their campaign, and if harm comes to Obama or Biden, well I'd hate to be in either McCain's or Palin's shoes.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

What the Racists Don't Get About an Obama Presidency

Racists fear an Obama presidency.

There's substantial YouTube video available of Whites speaking out against an Obama presidency and giving voice to their overt racism. There's videos of older white men carrying Obama monkeys to Palin rallies, of young white men hanging Obama ghosts in effigy, of older white women stating that if Obama wins that the "Blacks will take over America." There's video of a white woman yelling "Socialist Socialist Socialist" at Obama in a diner ("socialist" and "Muslim" are of course, racial code for "Scary Black Man" and they know this full well.)

Fear, anger and obstinancy motivate them. They feel so much fear. Fear of Blacks, fear of crime, fear of being attacked, fear of being exposed as weak, fear of being forced into subservience, fear of losing their social privilege, fear of having their incomes decrease to support the "undeserving and lazy" other.

This fear is expressed in angry, juvenile obstinancy. They don't want to be forced change. They don't want to hear your reassurances. They don't want to listen to facts. They don't care about anybody else, and they don't care about America the country as a whole.

They simply don't want the world to be forced change. They don't want others to to be forced to change. And they don't want to have to confront their fears, let them go and change.

And "you" sure as hell can't make them. When "you" try and reason with them using facts, this only pisses White racists off even more. In their bones, they know it's not right, it's not fair, it's not logical, it's un-American, and it's not decent to feel like they do.

When you understand that White racist obstinant clinging to their fears and their childish anger is the only thing they have left that anchors them to their preferred reality, it's easier to not be offended and disgusted and cut off discourse.

Here's a suggestion to anyone reading this who wants to reach them--use emotions and use their racism against them. For example--racists fear Black criminal thugs. The racist fears that an Obama election will mean that Black criminal thugs will feel "entitled" to be aggressively criminal and run roughshod over Whites.

But here's the flip side to argue--an Obama presidency has inspired millions of young Black men to be better, do better, think better, act better, and achieve more. If White racists really want to see young Black men to give up the thug life, an Obama presidency will do more to inspire them to do just that.

Just look at this picture. Says it all.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Shocking E-Voting Error Stats

Here's a link to a compilation of statistics from that lists the HUGE error rates recorded on some e-voting machines in (of course) BATTLEGROUND STATES.

Bradblog also has a report about the recent announcement that the Social Security Administration has shut down its database "temporarily" for "maintenance"--meaning that voter registrars now can't complete and process ANY new or updated voter registrations because they can't match registration and ID info with the Social Security's database info (now required as part of the HAVA (Help America Vote Act).

I am alarmed, afraid and absolutely disgusted.

Palin Babbling = Religious Conflict?

Everybody in the liberal blogosphere, and, finally, some mainstream media pudits, are rightfully pigpiling on the babbling, incoherent answers that Gov. Palin has given to normal, and often softball, questions posed in her interviews with Charles Gibson and Katie Couric.

While Gov. Palin hasn't been widely known nationally, she obviously is experienced at being in the public eye, and being scrutinized and presenting herself well in public. She has college education in media, has worked in media, has been in public competitions, has given speeches, and has been interviewed many times before.

So why, suddenly, was this woman babbling like she's Miss Teen South Carolina? Why couldn't she coherently recite GOP talking points? Hell, even I could do that. Even I can spout stock GOP answers and framing, and I don't agree with one damn thing that they do. I could be a pretend Repug at the drop of a hat.

Obviously she's NOT unintelligent. And she has solid experience being in the public eye.

So why was Palin babbling?

Here's one answer: As we know, Palin is a lifelong member of the Asemblies of God. Her Wasilia church is neopentecostal, meaning they are Biblical literalists and End Times believers. They are in-your-face, proud, reactionary, superstitious, anti-science, judgmental and angry people. Neopentecostals firmly believe that America is being punished for the sin of allowing abortion, accepting gays, and of being a secular democracy. They believe in literal demons and demonic possession. They believe in black magic witchcraft. They believe that their mission is to re-claim America for Christ and to install a theocracy through force of will and force of arms. They believe that Armageddon is coming--soon. And they believe that Alaska is going to be a safe haven for all true believers during this time.

So how does this relate to the babbling?

Consider: The question that preceded her babbling and the interview meltdown had to do with America's strained relations with Russia.

Now, if she was able to be true to herself, and to be "correct" and honest, and be able to say what she really believes, she would have started reciting Biblical passages that support AOG dogma, and she'd tell the viewing audience all about the prophecies and the signs pointing to the imminence of Armageddon, and how Russia and the U.S. will shortly destroy the world with nuclear weapons, etc. and how she was chosen for her mission by God, and that she intends to help bring about the end of the world so that Jesus will come back, ad nauseum.

BUT, she can't do this--not now. She likely believes that she has the CENTRAL role in the fulfillment of AOG end-times biblical prophecy. But she knows full well that if she does start Bible-thumping that the GOP campaign, which is her ONLY avenue to national power, will be kaput.

The internal conflict between believing something absolutely different than what you're saying, but really, really, really wanting to say what you really believe, is what causes severe anxiety and leads to babbling. She was spouting gibberish because she really, really wanted to say something other than stock GOP talking points.

Her religion demands in-your-face, unapologetic, confrontational and highly public proclamations of belief. But due to campaign constrictions she can't espouse them.

So she is in psychic conflict. Palin's psychic conflict is the root of her anxiety and the root of her incoherent babbling.

What she truly believes and wants to say is verboten if she wants to be elected vice president. But she's not being a good AOG member, or a good Christian if she lies, and if she doesn't take full advantage of this golden opportunity to proselytize.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

What I'd Like to See Happen

Here's just some issues that haven't been part of the national election discourse that I'd like to see happen under an Obama/Biden administration (in no particular order):

1. Close all secret prisons.
2. Close Guantanamo Bay.
3. Review & revise the No-Fly list.
3. De-fund US support for Colombia's right-wing dictatorships.
4. Fully fund large-scale world-wide reforestation efforts.
5. Eliminate subsidies and pork for "industries" aimed at wealthy consumers, i.e., fur farms, horse-racing, yacht builders.
6. Prosecute multi-national oil and chemical corporations for their environmental crimes in Latin America, and commit to increaed funding for the International Criminal Courts.
7. Substantially increase and publicize prosecutions of white collar criminals and wealthy tax evaders.
8. Shut down bio-weapons programs and military bio-research.
9. Shut down all military weapons programs that use animals as "test subjects."
10. Establish severe criminal penalties and allow for removal of corporate shield protections for corporations whose policies and practices lead to consumer data theft and consumer ID theft.
11. Outlaw using animals as "test subjects" for consumer products in favor of using advanced technologies readily available.
12. Eliminate advertising of prescription drugs that have been on the market for less than five years.
13. Pass ethics reforms requiring all members of congress to regularly disclose all contacts with industry and trade group lobbyists.
14. Eliminate the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives.
15. Re-institute the ban on automatic weapons.
16. Go after whackjob white supremacists planning domestic attacks.

Yell Fire

Lyrics by Michael Franti & Spearhead:

A revolution never come with a warning
A revolution never sends you an omen
A revolution just arrived like the morning
Ring the alarm, we come to wake up the snoring

They tellin' you to never worry about the future
They tellin' you to never worry about the torture
They tellin you that you'll never see the horror
Spend it all today and we will bill you tomorrow
Three piece suits and bank accounts in Bahamas
Wall Street crime will never send you to the slammer
Tell all the children in the arms of their mommas
The F-15 is a homicide bomber

TV commercials for a popping pill culture
Drug companies circling like a vulture
An Iraqi babies with a G.I. Joe father
Ten years from now is anyboby gonna bother

Yell Fire, yo, yo ,yo
Here we come, here we come
Fire, yo, yo, yo, yo
Revolution a comin'
Fire, yo, yo, yo, yo
Fire, yo, yo, yo, yo

Everyone addicted to the same nicotine
Everyone addicted to the same gasoline
Everyone addicted to a technicolour scream
Everybody trying to get their hands on same green
From the banks of the river to the banks of the greedy
All of the riches taken back by needy

We come from the country and we come from the city
You play us on the record, you can play us on the CD
All the shit you given us is fertilizer
The seeds that we planted you can brutalize them
Tell the corporation you can never globalize you
Like Peter Toss said Legalize It
Girls and boys hear the bass and treble
Rumble in the speakers and it make you wanna rebel
Throw your hands up, take it to another level
And you can never, ever, ever make a deal with the devil

Yell Fire, yo, yo, yo, yo
Here we come, here we come
Fire, yo, yo, yo, yo
Revolution a comin'
Fire, yo, yo, yo, yo
Fire, yo, yo, yo, yo

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Congress--For Once Read the Fine Print!! UPDATED

I don't really know if allowing behemoth financial "institutions" to avoid bankrupty by providing taxpayer support is sound or sane economic policy. I'm not an economist and I have no background in finance.

But, I've got a really, really, really bad feeling about the rush by Bush Republicans and their Neo-con supporters to push Congress into immediately passing their ready-made legislation package authorizing the bailout.

We've seen this movie before, and we all know the plot.

There have been similarly "urgent" needs and pressuing of Congress from this very same crowd to pass the Patriot Act, the Clear Skies Initiative, FISA "reforms" giving telecoms retroactive immunity, Iraq War authorization, ad nauseum.

I don't trust anyone in the Bush crowd to ever do the right thing for the majority of Americans, and I see no reason why Congress isn't being given the time to read the fine print. Who knows what poison pill is in the details?

There's no reason that the United States can't simply suspend stock market trading altogether on a per-week time frame, which will give Congress and citizens time to actually read, consider and debate the proposal. Americans should demand more time. After all we're being asked to foot the bill, aren't we? Other nations have suspended trading temporarily and it's done them no lasting harm--namely Russia, India and Venezuela. If they can do it, we can do it too.

UPDATE--My intense suspicions about the fine print appear justified.

Shout Out--Great Blog on Alaskan Culture

Just a shout out to a Alaskan Exposure, a really great blog about living in Alaska.

Here's a small sample:

I've been fascinated with this Alaskan immunity to grotesque levels of filth for months when I happened upon a feral child scurrying around my local dumpster. The small girl popped her head up from where she sat wedged between the dumpster and a cement curb. She stared at me while seated in a cluster of fast food wrappers and oil stains. Suddenly she darted out from the dumpster, and I realized she was wearing nothing but a saggy pair of underwear. Her parents were shoveling out their truck bed while her brother lounged around on top of the dumpster.

This wasn’t the first time I wanted to call social services in Alaska. One day I happened upon an Alaskan baby playing with a plugged in power drill. I can see the church newsletter headlines now - Stigmata on Alaskan infant proves Jesus blesses natural gas pipeline!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Palin--You're Either With Us or Against Us

Did you know that Palin claims to be a big fan of both the Seahawks AND the Steelers?

http://www.assistbythemitten.c om/2008/09/palin-says-shes-ste elers-and-seahawks.html

If she’s really a fan of either team, she’d have to know that she can’t have it both ways. You’re either with the Seahawks or you’re with the Steelers.

Smells like more political pandering–just like McCain changing the name of the football team to pander to the audience when re-telling and re-telling and re-telling one of his cherished POW tales.

Wash St Atty Discipline

Here are links to July and August Washington State Bar Association discipline notices.

It's as good as reading local police blotters.

Keep in mind that not all attorney misconduct makes it to the "public notice" stage.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Animal Killing Cat Haters Like Palin

In my lifetime I've had the misfortune to meet some cat-hating animal killers like Palin.

To a person, all of them were self-righteous, rigid, bigoted, vindictive, cruel, abusive and full of sniggering mean-spiritedness. Often they were dog "lovers."

What is it about cats that brings out such hatred, rage and violence in a particular personality type?

I think it's because even though cats are small, vulnerable, and easily harmed, they will not submit to an abusive person. Rather, if you hurt a cat, they will either leave you or fight you--sometimes to the death.

When pressed, most cat haters will admit that they have harmed and been mean to cats on at least one occasion.

A cst's loving bond and feelings of loyalty with humans are based on mutual respect and trust. With a cat it must be earned and it must be consistent. Cats don't and won't respect, love or be loyal to a person who hurts them. A dog will. Even a terribly abused and maltreated dog will keep wagging its tail and returning to its abusive "master" when called, even when it knows what's in store for it.

One confirmed cat-hater I met told me a "funny story" about how when he was a little boy growing up in Bumfuck, Texas that his older brother and uncles used to take him out and let him watch them shoot cats, and then when he was a bit older, they let him participate.

Other cat-haters I've met have been compelled to share similar stories with me.

This guy didn't realize he was telling me this, but he had been emotionally and psychologically abused by these men who he loved, admired and respected. He couldn't see that this was the source of his cat-hatred--he was projecting this childhood trauma.

Imagine a small child, witnessing such savagery. Killing people's pets for fun. He'd have only two choices--refuse to go along and be punished (by being excluded, scolded, or mocked for being weak and a sissy) or pretend that this was "fun" and be included, accepted and praised.

Sarah Palin's father was apparently quite the "big man" hunter. Undoubtedly she experienced similar traumas witnessing animal murders, and has resolved them in the same way--by denying the childhood horror, projecting her weakness and shame onto the objects of her hatred and also adapting the abuser's persona and values (becoming a hunter herself).

These people are completely disconnected from their "shadow side." They hate cats because cats do what they could not and could never do--refuse to go along with abuse and fight back. So now, as adults, they project their own dark ugliness, their unacknowledged abuse, their secret shame, and their moral failings onto an "other" and vanquish the "other" by hating it and killing it--again and again.

McCain: "Let's Do the Photo Op"

So I was screwing around on the internets reading what Vietnam POW-MIA families think about McCain when I came across a link to a blog kept by the family of a wounded Iraq-Afg vet.

These people are not by any stretch liberals, or dems. So I was seriously wowed to read a post from early 2007 about a visit McCain paid to their wounded relative at Walter Reed:

A few weeks before Chuck was wounded I watched a TV movie that protrayed Jerk's time as a POW during Vietnam. I was intrigued by the story and developed a lot of respect for what he endured, and the fact that his wife waited all those years for him to return home. I knew bits and pieces of the story before watching the movie, and I knew his arms were badly damaged due to the torture he received. I had a lot of respect for the man... then I met him.

When he first walked in I was honored to meet him. He shook my hand and Alice's hand, then walked over to Chuck's bedside. After a lousy 5 minutes or so, the Jerk said (and I quote):

"Well, we all know what we're here for... let's do the photo op."

EXCUSE ME!!!??? The PHOTO OP???!!!!

I was so beyond pissed I wanted to wrestle the Jerk to the ground and kick his ass - over and over and over again! I was so stunned by his comment that all I could do to save my dignity and not stoop to his incredibly LOW level, I walked out of the room. The Jerk's photographers took some pictures and he left. I didn't even say good-bye when he walked out... I was full of rage and anger. And as Chuck can tell you, NO ONE wants to talk to me when I am that state!!!

I keep reading and hearing and seeing credible evidence about what a truly awful, abusive, lying, sociopathic scumbag McCain really is.

But I still don't understand how it is that he has voted against vets and vet support so consistently over so many years, given that he was a vet.

And I keep wondering: WTF is wrong with McCain the "wounded war hero" that he doesn't actually support veterans? What secret shame is he trying to keep at bay? What really happened to him in Vietnam? Did being tortured fuck up his mind? Was he a rat-fink while captive and did he do and say some awful things to the other prisoners? Was he far less honorable than the others?

Methinks it's fair game to re-visit his real history and real war record. And, come to think of it, it's total bull for him to assume the "hero" mantle. What, exactly, was heroic about his war service? Did he save other soldiers? Fight with superhuman bravery?

Nah--his "heroism" really consisted of flying around thousands of feet in the air and bombing the shit out of people living in villages.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Palin Pick Is Really About Pricks

Like everybody else, I've been reading and watching and discussing McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as VP.

Here's my take: She's good looking, has incredible charisma, is telegenic and articulate. She is flirtatious, sassy and sarcastic.

She is brimming with sexual power.

Don't believe me? Look again at her convention speech, but with the sound off. Watch the way she suggestively bites her moistened, pink lips, how she uses a coyly dropped chin and gazes from up under her raised eyebrows, and how her eyes twinkle. These are classic "come-on" gestures.

Before the Palin pick, McCain campaigned quite a bit at macho, hard-hat "guys guy" events--at factories, at construction sites, and, infamously, at the Sturgis biker rally, just to name a few. When McCain made his joke about offering up wife Cindy as a "Miss Buffalo Chip" contestant, most liberals and Dems thought it was grossly sexist, demeaning, crude and insulting--not only to his wife but to women in general. This response missed the subtext of the offer, that being "My wife will submit herself sexually to me and to you if I wish it."

All of this "guy's guy" campaigning was McCain's attempt to gain "dick cred", but despite working so hard to showcase his machismo, McCain's messaging and his ability to project a true power persona were failing. That is until the "Palin pick."

Republicans really do know their authoritarian base. What that base really wants is a ruler who has a big dick and who displays it and uses it.

With Palin, McCain gains the stiff dick machismo factor with Republican men that was previously lacking. She's his sexual talisman.

Her popularity has nothing to do with her history, her character, her acts while in office, her stance on issues or positions, or her experience. If it were, she would have never, ever in a million years been chosen as VP.

What picking Palin is really about is that in the deep, dark blackness of Republican male souls they just really, really want to fuck her, or watch her be fucked. She sexually excites them. The Palin vp pick is simply and exclusively all about giving base Republican men a hard on.

In their eyes, that McCain can "get" a real-life Caribou Barbie, a sexually charged woman like Palin, instantly conveys on him the crucial big prick power.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Dominionist Summer Camps--Torture & Interrogation

Here's a link to the Patrick Henry College's summer camp "leadership" programs for Christian teens, which is run by a Dominionist nut-job.

Apparently signing up to send your son or daughter to a summer camp to experience realistic role-playing at interrogation, torture and spying to develop their skills for a future career with the CIA is de riguer with patriotic Dominionists--they want to overthrow secular democracy and install a theocracy so that Jesus comes back.

Barbie as First Lady?

Am I the only one that thinks that Cindy McCain's choice of clothes for her first appearance at the RNC promoting hurricane relief was completely bizarre?

That woman was dressed up like a little girl's Barbie doll.

She was wearing a bright gold, highly-stylized, avante-garde retro-cocktail type dress under a matching fitted jacket with oversized upturned lapels (aka 80s Michael Jackson), black, ankle-killer stiletto heels, and about five pounds of strands of large pearls.

The whole outfit was grossly ostentatious, waaaaaaay over the top and frankly, tasteless. Her get-up would be appropriate if she was a presenter at a red carpet awards shows, or if she was royalty, but it wasn't at all appropriate for a presentation on hurricane relief.

Laura Bush, in contrast, dressed the part of a first lady to perfection. Simple, elegant and understated.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Doug Sutherland--Scumbag!!!

Washington State DNR Commissioner Doug Sutherland is a serious scumbag. He bullied, humiliated, and repeatedly publicly sexually harassed a brand new female employee.

Hat tip to Goldie @ for the story.

The guy GROPED HER TWICE, made sexualized remarks, was dismissive of "her" and humiliated her--HE'S A PERVERTED, BULLYING SCUMBAG AND NEEDS TO BE IMMEDIATELY REMOVED FROM OFFICE!!!

Why in hell hasn't our local media covered this story AT ALL??

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Gas Prices--It's the Speculators, Stupid

Lately I've been hearing reported the result of polling showing that Americans now overwhelmingly support increased oil and gas drilling because they believe this will lower gas prices.

This belief is the result of crappy, but unsurprising, news framing. What passing for respectable "journalism" and "reporting" in this nation truly, truly sucks.

News Flash: It ain't the Arabs, or the enviro-whackos, or the red-tape bureaucrats, or the Chinese, or the Indians or the Socialist governments in South America that have caused the price increase. It's the disgustingly greedy speculators and the collusion of the monopolistic oil conglomerates who are behind the price gouging.

There's been little to no discussion of the central role of stock market commodities speculators in creating skyrocketing prices for all sorts of staples and goods. Instead, we're fed a "news" diet of "Average Joe" pain at the pump stories, and patently silly "how you can save a penny or two per gallon" filler pieces.

Here's some ideas for our "news" media to use:

How come all the stations are charing the same price for gas? Where's the MIA gas wars? Remember when gas stations used to compete for customers by lowering prices? Even during the 70s supply crisis, stations would cut prices sometimes. When was the last time you saw a gas war? Gas price wars haven't happened in years, simply because those who have control over the resource are colluding to keep the price up. Here's some other

Here's some other story ideas:

How come we never hear a discussion of the benefits to nearly all American if we were to nationalize the oil industry?

How come the oil companies won't drill in places where they're already permitted to do so (Florida, California coasts)? And why, if they're not drilling in places where they're already permitted to do so do they need to lock up leases for oil and gas rights in places they're not allowed to (ANWAR, for example).

How come no oil refineries have been built in over 25 years?

If the multi-national oil companies now have regained access to Iraqi oil and can make private profits from same, how come the price hasn't gone down in anticipation of an oil glut?

How come when the trading price goes down, the retail price stays up, but when the trading price goes up, the retail price goes even higher, sometimes on the same day?

How come India moved to shut down its stock market when the commodities traders' speculation drove gas and food prices too high, but the US won't similarly regulate its commodities market speculators?

I know that real reporting is hard work, but isn't that what journalists are supposed to be doing? Reporting?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Phil Gramm Can Suck It!!! Seriously

Using the immortal words of comedienne Kathy Griffin:

Phil Gramm can suck it!

David Corn has an investigative piece published at Mother Jones that exposes how sleazy and corrupt this guy and his wife truly are, and how he's at the epicenter of not only the foreclosure financial scandal, but the Enron scandal and others as well. Corn documents just how Gramm gamed the Senate into passing last-minute legislation (again--without any review--how the fuck does that happen anyhow??) that prohibited normal regulation of the established financial giants, allowed them to engage in high-risk transactions, and blew to hell all the firewall protections for the rest of us.

End result? Shambles and ruin for us--but lotsa, lotsa money for Gramm, his wife, and their buddies.

June Wa St. Bar Atty Disciplines

Here it is.
Keep in mind that not all complaints or punishments are publicized.

There's one suspension listed that, to my mind, should be a disbarment. How is it remotely possibly that it took a lawyer SIX YEARS to settle a personal injury claim for a basic automobile accident--for the regal sum of slightly more than $3,000-- and then he wouldn't/didn't pay the clients promptly???

What an a-hole

Monday, June 16, 2008

Shut Up About Russert Already!

Open Letter to the Cable News Kewl Kids:

This is how you should have reported Tim Russert's death:

Tim Russett was a TV interviewer (NOT a journalist) of politicians on a major news network for many years. He was a nice guy, a Catholic, and his Dad worked a blue collar job. When he was young he got to shake John Kennedy's hand, and through some connections, he landed a job working for Tip O'Neill, which later led to a career in TV covering politics. Russert died of a heart attack at work last week. He was 58, married and has one son who just graduated from college.

That's all that needs to be said.

We get it, we got it. The guy is dead. Can you get back to the news already??

The saturation coverage and ad nauseum tributes of the Kewl Kidz about Tim Russert, one of the chief fluffers of TV "journalism," is just plain making me sick. You know what I'll remember about him? That the toughest, most squirm-inducing question he ever asked of his guests was this: "Are you running for president?"

The endless coverage afforded Russert's passing reminds me of an incident that happened at my high school reunion. Apparently one of the popular "in" crowd had died at some time in the preceding 10 years. I didn't know the guy, and had no recollection of him, and neither did the people seated at the tables in my area. But, because he was a "kewl kid" the other kewl kids decided that they would subject us all to a half-hour slide show tribute and speeches about what a great guy he was, etc., the usual memoria.

Turns out that he hadn't done much with his life, other than make alot of money for himself. Nobody mentioned any volunteer work he had done, any special kindness he showed somebody in need. Their tributes were all about how successful he was in business, and what a good football player he was in high school, and how tragic it was that he finally bought his own airplane, which is how he died--he crashed it.

But nobody else who had died received any sort of public recognition, other than a listing in the program notes.

It's the same thing with Russert--the kewl kids are putting on a show for each other because one of their own was affected, and they're forcing the rest of us to witness it.

There's a lot more important stories to cover.

Shut the hell up about Russert. Move on already!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

DSHS--more bureaucratic idiocy in the name of "protecting children"

Here's a link to a Court of Appeals' decision here involving DSHS's ongoing attempt to deny a foster care license to a previously-licensed Eastern Washington couple, Joshua and Janet Ruland.

So what, exactly, was the horrible crime this couple committed to be denied an opportunity to continue as foster parents for needy children? What heinous acts were devised and carried out by this well-meaning couple against vulnerable kids? What depraved indifference and incredible idiocy did these people demonstrate that the state felt compelled to act to keep them away from children?

Answer: Nothing.

The Rulands had been caring for a two-year old boy and his one-month old sister. On one occasion, Janet left the baby girl napping on the floor of their home and went outside and mowed the lawn. When she came back inside a few minutes later, the infant's toddler brother had bitten her on her head and scratched her face a bit. The Rulands took the baby right away to the emergency room where her wounds were determined to be "superficial." Then the Rulands, following foster parent rules, reported the incident to DSHS.

DSHS determined that the Rulands were "negligent." Some time later, the Rulands moved into a new home, and per DSHS rules, because of the move they re-applied for licensure as foster parents. DSHS denied them license renewal.

The Rulands appealed, but for some reason their appeal was filed one day late. On the basis of this one day late filing, and on the one incident, DSHS again denied the Rulands their license.

I know that DSHS workers have a really tough job, and that nobody wants to make a mistake where a kid ends up abused, neglected, or dead. But adversarial actions like these actually hurts the kids who the state is supposed to be helping, and it prevents well-meaning people who want to help those kids from doing so.

Parents and caregivers make mistakes and errors raising children, but it doesn't follow that every mistake or every error rises to the level of "neglience" or "abuse." It was a mistake for these foster parents to leave the toddler alone and unsupervised for a few minutes with his infant sister, but it's not something that should prevent these good-hearted people from being foster parents.

Biological parents make the mistake of leaving toddlers alone and unsupervised with infant siblings all the time. There simply isn't any parent in the world who hasn't had to deal with similar toddler-on-baby bouts of jealousy, rage, harassment, nit-picking, acting out, aggression and fights between siblings. That a toddler boy would bite his infant sister when given an opening to do so isn't unusual, or unexpected. In fact it's normal, and not realistically preventable.

When such an incident does occur, however, the parents need to act to evaluate any injury, treat it quickly and appropriately, and then take steps to socialize and discipline the aggressive child in an age-appropriate manner. This is exactly what the Rulands did. And what did DSHS do? Accuse them of neglect and move to prevent them from ever being foster parents ever again.


I wish the Rulands the best in their continuing court battle to restore their right to be foster parents. We need more people just like them.

Monday, May 5, 2008

An Instant Classic

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Green Plug--Pond Scum Power!

Here's a link to a Popular Mechanics article about the amazing potential for producing high-quality biofuels from algae.

Pond scum power plants are largely self-contained and highly space-efficient. They can be constructed almost anywhere. They are safe and clean. Plus using algae instead of corn, soybean or palms means that more lands won't be cleared for industrial production, and existing food crops won't be diverted for fuel.

All power to the pond scum!

Why Women Should Vote

This is a copy/paste of a recent e-mail I received:


Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO's new movie "Iron Jawed Angels." It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have my say. I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder.

All these years later, voter registration is still my passion. But the actual act of voting had become less personal for me, more rote. Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege. Sometimes it was inconvenient.

My friend Wendy, who is my age and studied women's history, saw the HBO movie, too. When she stopped by my desk to talk about it, she looked angry. She was--with herself. "One thought kept coming back to me as I watched that movie," she said. "What would those women think of the way I use--or don't use--my right to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just younger women, but those of us who did seek to learn." The right to vote, she said, had become valuable to her "all over again."

This is the story of our Grandmothers, and Great-grandmothers, as they lived only 90 years ago. It was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.

The women were innocent and defenseless. And by the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of "obstructing sidewalk traffic."

They beat Lucy Burn, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air. They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

Thus unfolded the "Night of Terror" on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right to vote.

For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their food--all of it colorless slop--was infested with worms. When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.

So, refresh my memory. Some won won't vote this year because-- why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our vote doesn't matter? It's raining?

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Hey You! Volunteer for the Presidental Election!

There's going to be a HUGE crush of voters and votes cast in the upcoming presidential election. Your county election board is going to need an equally large number of volunteers to make sure that the election runs smoothly, that every voter who wants to vote can vote, and that every vote that is cast counts.

We need progressives who care about maintaining the integrity of our electoral system to volunteer NOW to work the presidential election. The earlier you sign up to volunteer, the more likely it is that you will be assigned to "plum" jobs of higher responsibility so that electorial integrity is maintained.

I volunteered for this past primary. It was an interesting, eye-opening, and highly rewarding experience, plus I got to meet and greet my heretofore unknown neighbors.

Progressives--please volunteer for this. We need more good people watchdogging the process.

May 08 Wash State Bar Atty Discipline

Here's a link to the latest Washington State Bar attorney disciplines. It's almost as good as reading your local police blotter.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Getting It Right--Remembering the History

In the last month or so I've been reading and contemplating essays and posts written by Very Important People who are Very Serious, Highly Influential and Highly Respected about how they got "it" (the Iraq Invasion and Occupation) wrong. I'm not going to bother with providing links here to these Very Important Thoughts penned by these Very Important People. Most of their writings can be boiled down to these nutshells:

1. I was misled and lied to, and didn't and couldn't know better.
2. I had an emotional reaction to anti-war "hippies."
3. I wasn't really for it, but felt I had to go along once it seemed inevitable.

I've been wondering how come it is that these people, with their advanced college degrees and their professional pedigrees and their network of connections and their ready-made public platforms could have been so gullible and so stupid, and how come lil' ol' nobody me--with no pedigree and no advanced education--got "it" entirely right? How come I knew that the US invading Iraq was wrong, wrong, wrong and that this was a horrible, terrible mistake?

How come? Well, for starters, I have a healthy skepticism of anybody who wants war. I also distrusted Bush and Cheney from the get-go. I also regularly read non-US media. As a rule, I am open to receiving information and evaluating opinions from all sources, and I don't have unexamined emotional knee-jerk discounting reactions towards differing opinions.

But I think the main reason that I got it right was that I hadn't forgotten the past.

I remembered, quite well, the grossly exaggerated claims of Iraq military and weapons super-strength (including claims of chem, nuke and bio weapons) made in the first Iraq invasion (Gulf War I) back in 1991, which were eerily similar to those being made in the run-up to this occupation. I remembered and was aware of the regular bombardment of certain areas of Iraq that had been ongoing since 1991, as well as the terrible impacts of the embargo. I remembered the reports of how the CIA and US military has had Iraq under constant surveillance and close scrutiny since 1991.

I remembered how, back in 1991, the US media reported noxious propaganda as fact (the cold-blooded murders of Kuwati babies in incubators being a particularly odious false claim.) I learned back then that Iraq was a secular, socialist dictatorship, and that Iraqi women under Saddam had rights near-equal to women in Western industrial countries.

I also learned that Iraq had a significant population of Christians. I learned about how Saddam Hussein came to power backed by our CIA. I learned about the long-standing history and frictions between ethnic and religious groups in Iraq--the Shiites, Sunnis and the Kurds, and that people in Iraq were possessed of the full spectrum of political leanings. I learned about the Kurdish separatist rebels who wanted to secede from Iraq, Iran and Turkey to form their own country, and who had engaged in repeated terrorist acts in these three countries and who had also fought a civil war inside Iraq--which led to military repression of the uprising and included the use of mustard gas by Saddam Hussein on a Kurdish civilian population (all with US blessings) because these people were supporting the rebels.
This incident became the well-known rally slogan for the Gulf War--"He kills his own people!" (which slogan was also successfully re-used as a pre-invasion rally cry). (Side note--I've always felt this was an ironic slogan, given that the Kurds themselves don't, and never have, considered themselves as "his" or Iraq's people.)

And I remembered how Bush and Cheney and Rumsfield and Schwartzkopf and Gingrich and the lot of the Republicans claimed that a military occupation of Iraq by the US would be far too difficult and wouldn't ever work. And I remembered how the US leaders told the Kurds that if they rose up to overthrown Saddam Hussein that the US would support them--but instead the US abandonded them and allowed the Republican Guard to murder them instead.

So I remembered my history. And I was right for that simple fact. I remembered, and because I remembered I didn't believe one freaking claim my leaders made. None of it was sensical to anybody who recalled what had transpired not long ago.

Blaming 9-11 on Saddam Hussein didn't ever make one bit of sense. Claiming on the one hand that Saddam Hussein was a madman (and warmongers always personalize a country full of people as a demonic incarnation) who had terrible weapons and wouldn't hesitate to use them was the same exact claim previously made that was also completely false. Claiming that an invasion and occupation would be a cakewalk was patently silly. Claiming that gas would be plentiful and cheap for all was obviously false. All of it, all of the endlessly repeated claims and all of the justifications were just propaganda designed to lead a bunch of fearful sheeple here in the US into supporting a never-ending occupation to directly control Middle East oil.

What kills me in reading the essays by these Very Serious and Very Important People who were totally wrong is that none of them seemed to recall or have taken into consideration what happened before 9-11. Their flawed analyses personify and have unconsciously incorporated the media and government propaganda concepts of a pre versus post 9-11 world. This is why they really were all so wrong, because for them, history is quickly forgotten. The history meant nothing. For them, anything that happened before 9-11 was irrelevant and meaningless.

For me--the history meant everything. That's why I got it right.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

"Ten Commandments Weekend" for US?

Sen. Lieberman and Sen. Brownback have proposed Sen. Resolution 483 to establish the first weekend of May 2008 as "Ten Commandments Weekend"

Assholes. Here we go again.

This type of dog-whistle "resolution" is nothing more than cheap political pandering by Republicans (and yes, Lieberman is a Republican by his votes, positions and conduct--despite his nominal label as "independent") designed to trigger highly-predictable Pavlovian support by adamant Christianists and an equally predictable outcry by all others, which only serves to reinforce Christianists' false beliefs:

1) That the United States and its citizens are spiritually and morally bankrupt and that government promotion of Christianity is the most important step necessary to overcoming same;

2) That Republicans care about and will protect and promote their religion beliefs;

3) That this resolution and others like it are code for an implied promise that more direct and forceful actions by Republicans to "put God back in the public square" are sure to come if Republicans could only have more political power;

3) That their religion is under attack and that they are being persecuted and victimized by level-headed, rational secularists and others who object to religious pandering by elected officials on the grounds that it is a waste of time, effort and resources, is exclusive of other faiths and beliefs, and is against the clear and express foundational principles of our governmental system.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Damn Good Questions--Fed Bailout

Athenae at has written an amazingly powerful essay entitled "It's A Small Crime" reflecting on our passive acceptance and lack of outrage about massive federal bailouts for uber-wealthy corporate types versus the nasty judgments we reserve for poorer Americans.


. . .

Let me ask a couple of questions here. Does Bear Stearns have a big screen TV? What about bling? Any bling they could sell?

. . .

Let me ask those questions, those questions we ask of every beneficiary of the smallest drop of government assistance. Let me ask why this is the ONLY scenario in which our parsimonious bullshit about personal responsibility, about choices and consequences, about "survival of the fittest" and other forms of sicko math, need not fucking apply.

. . .

Let me ask how on earth we can take all the time it takes to think up all the ways we think up to sit in judgement on every individual case we hear about, about how that person just didn't work harder, didn't suffer enough, didn't earn "our" money, didn't deserve "our" charity, didn't bleed in front of us enough, and all the while, all the fucking while, we give it away by the millions and never ask where it goes. All the while.

. . .

I think we should ask with the same nasty assumptions at the back of our throats, the same willingness to believe that somebody else is running a scam on us to get a fat government check, the same nasty, mean, small little pinchingness we use toward individual human beings. I think we should ask those questions. . . .

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Seattle Native to Succeed Fallon or Petraeus?

PI reporter Mike Barber interviewed Maj. Gen. Peter Chiarelli about his background and upbringing, his career within the military and the Department of Defense and his military philosopy.

He is apparently being considered by some as a successor to either Fallon or Petraeus.

Chiarelli grew up in the Magnolia neighborhood of Seattle and attended local colleges, earning a Masters from the UW. Chiarelli is currently an advisor to Def. Sec. Robert Gates. He served two tours of duty in NATO under Gen. Wesley Clarke. He has served two tours of duty in Iraq.

Chiarelli counts both Gen. Clarke and Gen. Eric Shinseki as his close mentors, and in Iraq he had a central role in the inquiry into the Marine massacre of civilians at Haiditha.

From the article:

An experienced teacher and writer, Chiarelli co-authored two papers in recent years that are considered influential in helping to change Iraq strategy from its beginnings under Rumsfeld to the counterinsurgency focus favored by Gates and carried out by Petraeus.

One paper emphasizes the need to balance providing security in Iraq with winning the peace by supplying basic needs, including clean water, electricity, plumbing and sanitation. Another discusses the dangers of military and civilian leaders being too optimistic about "essentially unpredictable" military operations.

Victory in this war, he says, won't look like victory in other wars.

Based on the interview piece, Chiarelli comes across as a reasonable, temperate and thoughtful man. But not having read his papers, I do wonder what exactly he thinks a "victory" will look like.

And why exactly do we have to keep pretending that any military "victory" or "win" is even remotely possible or necessary in Iraq anyway? My government wrongly invaded Iraq under demonstrably false pretenses. We've pitted ethnic and religious groups against each other, installed a non-functioning puppet government, wrecked the infrastructre, imposed martial law and took over the press, destroyed the economy, pillaged its resources, and imprisoned, tortured and slaughtered its people.

Isn't that enough of a "victory"?

An Excellent Test

It also proves the point that eyewitness ID isn't always that great or reliable.

Idiots at Reuters--Shark De-Finning Case (Updated)

Well it looks like I broke the story about the god-awful 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision on the industrial shark de-finning case before the mainstream media did.

So today Reuters reported the decision correctly, but some idiot got the headline totally ass-backwards. The headline reads: In U.S. court fight, the shark fins win

No, the shark fins did not "win" anything. The sharks lost. The US government lost. The American people lost. The industrial de-finners who have figured out a way to skirt our species protection laws won--at least for now.

The subtext of humor in the "tone" of the headline pisses me off too. Wholesale slaughter of species isn't funny.

Here is the decision, straight from the Court's website:

The Government seized the fins pursuant to the Shark Finning Prohibition Act (“SFPA”), which makes it unlawful for any person aboard a U.S. fishing vessel to possess shark fins obtained through prohibited “shark finning.” 16 U.S.C. § 1857(1)(P)(ii). TLH does not contest that, on its behalf, the KD II purchased the fins at sea from foreign vessels that engaged in shark finning. Instead, it argues that the KD II is not a fishing vessel under 16 U.S.C. § 1802(18)(B), and for that reason the forfeiture of the shark fins it possessed would violate due process. We agree that neither the statute nor the regulations provided fair notice to TLH that it would be considered a fishing vessel under § 1802(18)(B). We therefore reverse the judgment of forfeiture and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

So I saw the stupid headline and then spent the next 10 minutes navigating Reuters website trying to find a contact link to an editor for correction. Jeez they make it difficult. I guess they don't really want feedback from us "ignorant masses."


Update: Thee Reuter's headline about the shark fins "winning" is correct, but only in a highly technical, legalese sense. In forfeiture cases involving seized goods, the seized goods are named in the case title. So it's not unusual to see case titles like "US v. 700 Siberian Tiger Pelts" or US vs. 20,000 lbs. of African Elephant Ivory Tusks." That's just how it's done.

But when the seized goods "win" --as is the case with the seized shark fins--what it really means is that the people who broke the law won.

What pisses me off about Reuters is the bemused tone of the headline, and the lack of context in the piece about what negative impacts this decision will have on all efforts to protect species.

Like I said, wholesale slaughter of species just ain't funny.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

King Co. Animal Shelter--A Stinking Mess

The King County Council is holding a public hearing on April 14th about the deplorable shelter operations documented by an outside consultant. Per the consultant's report, these same systemic problems were occuring back in 1998. Despite increases in shelter operations budgets since then, conditions haven't improved, and are the same or worse than the last series of independent inspections.

Burnout of workers in animal care is fairly commonplace, especially in "kill" shelters. But there's apparently been no real recognition of the potential problems burnout can lead to by King County, so there's no system in place to minimize it, prevent it or deal with it.

So if you have staff or management working in an animal shelter who don't come from a mindset or a life philosophy that animals absolutely have basic rights and deserve our kindness and care, who don't feel personally responsible for the animals, and who aren't self-reflective and don't understand how humans can become uncaring and cruel because of burnout, then you have systemic disasters like what has been going on at the KCAC shelter.

In general I oppose privatization of public services, but in this case I conditionally support Councilman Bob Ferguson's call to privatize the shelter operations, as long as it is operated by a long-established animal welfare group such as the Humane Society or PAWS. These groups have the correct mindset towards animals, understand the challenges of shelter staff burnout, and know how to deal with it and keep it under control.

Among other things the consultant found:

1. Animals without food or water, sometimes for days.

2. Animals housed in filthy cages, not cleaned for days.

3. Numerous open cages while adoptable animals languished unseen in back rooms (note--KCAC has strict time limits on how long an animal is "adoptable" before it is euthanised).

4. Staff not following basics of santiary cleaning procedures or animal handling.

5. Staff not keeping accurate or complete, updated records.

6. Staff not cross-checking lost animal reports with shelter animals and not entering lost animal reports into computer system.

7. Non-compatable animals put together--leading to severe stress, food hoarding, fights and injuries.

8. Staff not relocating animals once non-compatability determined.

9. Animals not being vaccinated.

11. Cruelty and neglect reports not followed up, properly investigated or documented.

12. Outdated "contagious disease" notices posted in adoption areas falsely implying current outbreaks (which could negatively impact adoptions.)

13. Facility showing significant wear and tear (same physical plant problems as last time).

14. Unsanitary food storage and handling.

15. Sick animals housed with healthy ones. Quarantined sick and injured animals not closely monitored.

16. Substantial difference in conditions and staff conduct when consultant pre-announced versus surprise or "undercover" visits.

17. Significant management and staff turnover, with new management not having background in animal care/shelter management.

18. Staff "doing own thing" with animal care--not following procedures and guidelines.

19. Donations of food and money not used for animal care.

20. No follow-through on spay/neuter coupons leading to minimal improvement in pet overpopulation.

21. Disciplinary procedures inadequate or simply not followed.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Rules of Engagement?--Free Fire Slaughter

Here is a link to the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Against the War's video feed of Winter Soldier testimony.

It's impossible to do justice to the heartbreaking testimony of these soliders talking about the unconscionable, immoral and illegal conduct of the occupations of these two countries by providing snippets and summaries in a blog post. Instead, every American should simply watch and/or read their testimony in its entirety.

Sometimes I'm just so ashamed of the willful ignorance of my fellow citizens about what is being done to these people in the name of "freedom".

All I can say is if there is a just God, then America is truly damned.

Foreclosure Sharks in Puget Sound--Updated

In an unpublished decision entered yesterday, the Washington State Court of Appeals reviewed a trial court's decision and concurred that defendants:

Dick and Cecilia Pelascini;
Thomas Boboth; and
Pacific Shoreline Mortgage, Inc.

had violated the Consumer Protection Act.

Per the court's decision, they took advantage of a long-time homeowner who had fallen on hard times and was facing foreclosure and convinced her that they were helping her "save" her home by setting up refinancing when in fact they bought it out from under her for far less than what they would have paid via a public trustee's sale.

After signing the paperwork the "homeowner" (plaintiff) was allowed to stay put until the Pelascinis later decided to sell the home.

Then they evicted her.

From the decision:

The Pelascinis' argument rests on the false premise that they "did help plaintiff save her house." The trial court found that Pace-Knapp reasonably interpreted the Pelascinis' promises to mean that they would refinance her home, which means she would continue to own it.

Taking the unchallenged findings as true, we conclude that the Pelascinis deceived Pace-Knapp when they promised her that they would help her "save" her home and implied that they would refinance her loan. Simply stated, the point is that they saved her home for themselves so that they would not have to bid at the rescheduled trustee's sale. They did not help her save her home for her, as suggested. The Pelascinis' practice of preying on this and other vulnerable home owners on the eve of foreclosure is the type of practice likely to deceive future distressed owners in the same manner.

Despite claims by local corporate media and real estate professionals that the Puget Sound area is somehow immune to the national subprime scandal and its impact on housing markets, the blood is in the water here, the sharks have smelled it, and they are beginning to feed.

Why is it that predatory foreclosure sharks can't immediately be put out of business and be brought up on criminal charges?


The Washington legislature just passed HB 2791 which on the face of it substantially increases regulation of the sharks. The bill apparently provides for increased plain-language disclosures, extends the right of recission (canceling) a contract for some additional days, requires the sharks to first determine if the homeowner can actually "buy back" the home under the terms offered, requires the sharks to act in the homeowner's best interests and establishes that the homeowner will receive at least 82% of market value if the homeowner is evicted.

Gov. Gregoire hasn't signed it yet.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Wa State Attorney Discipline Mar 2008

Here's a link to the details of this month's Washington State Attorney Discipline notices from Bar News. (And there are disciplinary actions that don't appear in this publication.)

It's as good as or better than reading the local police blotters.

9th Circuit Rules in Favor of Industrial Shark Finners

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals recently decided in favor of large-scale industrial shark finners premised on a technical violation of "due process" by the feds in a civil forfeiture case brought against the defendants for violating the Shark Finning Prohibition Act.

If you care about species protections, go read this decision. Seriously.

Here's the nutshell:

. . . Claimant-Appellant Tai Loong Hong Marine Products, Ltd. (“TLH”) owned the shark fins. TLH, a Hong 2474 UNITED STATES v. APPROXIMATELY 64,695 POUNDS Kong company, had chartered the KD II and ordered it to meet foreign fishing vessels on the high seas, purchase shark fins from those vessels, transport the fins to Guatemala, and deliver them to TLH.

The Government seized the fins pursuant to the Shark Finning Prohibition Act (“SFPA”), which makes it unlawful for any person aboard a U.S. fishing vessel to possess shark fins obtained through prohibited “shark finning.” 16 U.S.C. § 1857(1)(P)(ii).

TLH does not contest that, on its behalf, the KD II purchased the fins at sea from foreign vessels that engaged in shark finning. Instead, it argues that the KD II is not a fishing vessel under 16 U.S.C. § 1802(18)(B), and for that reason the forfeiture of the shark fins it possessed would violate due process.

We agree that neither the statute nor the regulations provided fair notice to TLH that it would be considered a fishing vessel under § 1802(18)(B). We therefore reverse the judgment of forfeiture and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Did you get that?

Despite the clear and express intention of the Act--protection of sharks by outlawing industrial shark finning in US waters--the Court determined that because the Act apparently didn't forbid "non-fishing" vessels from obtaining or possessing shark fins from non-US fishing vessels while at sea, that the civil forefeiture of the shark fins was invalid on due process grounds.

There's clear evidence of collusion and it's patently obvious that the defendants intended to skirt US laws. Instead of directly de-finning the sharks themselves, the just arranged to get them from non-US industrial de-finners on the opean ocean.

It's not like they just happened to stumble upon each other's boats out in the ocean and one of the boats just happened to have 64,695 pounds of shark fins that the other just happened to want. They planned this.

By using such a narrow definition of "fishing vessel" to reach its conclusion, the Court makes a mockery of the intent and spirit of the laws protecting vulnerable and threatened species.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Green Plug--Volunteers Needed

The 2008 Seattle Greenfestival is looking for volunteers to help run the two-day event April 12 and April 13 at the Washington Convention and Trade Center.

Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels is a scheduled keynote speaker.

Our city has lost a tremendous percentage of tree cover in the last decade. If there's a question and answer period I intend to ask the Mayor whether he's actually going to follow through on past ideas, promises, current plans and funding to re-tree the City.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Americans 0, Predators 100

Investigative reporter Greg Palast has a must-read article posted that exposes the back-scratching giveaways and the gross corruption behind the Bush administration's massive government bailout of predatory banks, brokers, corporations and lenders.

Gov. Spitzer was leading the charge on behalf of Americans to fight back against these predators. Palast explores how Spitzer's resignation at this critical juncture is a huge win for the predators, how the "exposure" of Spitzer's sexual escapades may have well been exquisitely politically timed, how the bailout does next to nothing for American homeowners, and how it is certain that so many of them will still lose their homes.

Article excerpts:

. . .

The press has swallowed Wall Street’s line that millions of US families are about to lose their homes because they bought homes they couldn’t afford or took loans too big for their wallets. Ba-LON-ey. That’s blaming the victim.

. . .

Now, what kind of American is ‘sub-prime.’ Guess. No peeking. Here’s a hint: 73% of HIGH INCOME Black and Hispanic borrowers were given sub-prime loans versus 17% of similar-income Whites. Dark-skinned borrowers aren’t stupid – they had no choice. They were ‘steered’ as it’s called in the mortgage sharking business.

. . .

Indeed, the feds actually filed a lawsuit to block Spitzer’s investigation of ugly racial mortgage steering. Bush’s banking buddies were especially steamed that Spitzer hammered bank practices across the nation using New York State laws.

. . .

Then, on Wednesday of this week, the unthinkable happened. Carlyle Capital went bankrupt. Who? That’s Carlyle as in Carlyle Group. James Baker, Senior Counsel. Notable partners, former and past: George Bush, the Bin Laden family and more dictators, potentates, pirates and presidents than you can count. . . .

There was no ‘quid’ of a foreclosure moratorium for the ‘pro quo’ of public bailout. Not one family was saved – but not one banker was left behind.

Friday, March 14, 2008

New Terrorist Threat--Root Vegetables

A raw turnip in a gift bag led to a bomb scare at an Indiana law firm. The police bomb squad used a robot to move the gift bag to a parking lot and then unsuccessfully tried to detonate it before discovering the vegetable.

I guess I could understand someone panicking over a suspicious package in the weeks following 9/11.

But it's 2008. Come on people. Get a grip for crying out loud.

Whatever happened to using a trained explosives dog and handler to first assess the threat? Nah. That would be too easy, too "pre-9/11". Plus I suspect the cops were happy to have an opportunity to play with their high-tech bomb robot, which "justifies" this expense.

And what about the cost to taxpayers for the police response to these persistent false alarms? So Chicken Little gets a "suspicioius" package and instead of just opening it up he calls the cops. The cops come, evacuate the building and cordon off the parking lot. Then they send in a robot to retrieve the package and try to blow it up.

Shouldn't the Chicken Littles among us start paying for these false alarms?

On second thought, the terroristic turnip was sent to a law firm, so perhaps the attorney's guilty conscience went on overdrive, or perhaps his fears weren't entirely unfounded.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Oh Those Poor Kids!--Updated

Firedoglake nails the latest in Republican concern trolling right on its ugly little head:

Saw this headline in Yahoo!News: "Spitzer Scandal Tricky for Parents".

Change "Spitzer" to "Clinton", and you have stories that were originally written ten...years ago

Oddly enough, there was no handwringing about "what will we tell the kiddies?" when David Vitter was exposed. Or Larry Craig. (That's right: Nobody last year was writing stories about poor little kids asking their fathers "Daddy, what's a 'gay prostitute'?"*) Or Bob Livingston. Or Mark Foley. Or Newt Gingrich. Or Philip Giordano. Or Ken Calvert, Or Bob Packwood. Or Dan Burton. Or Helen Chenoweth. Or Jack Ryan...

Here's a question--have the Repugs done any studies showing how all those poor little kiddies who lived through the (raise back of trembling hand to forehead and bit lower lip) horrors of the media frenzy erupting from the Clinton sexcapades doing today? Are they irredemably psychically scarred?

Update: The media frenzy over any exposed sex scandal involving hypocritical political or religious power-players, while understandable, really is horrible to witness. Unlike the Repugs though, for me the horror doesn't arise from kids posing uncomfortable questions to their parents about sex. Nor does the horror arise from the reporting of the facts, per se. After all, investigating claims and providing the public with accurate information about the conduct of people in positions of authority is a central role of media.

What's truly horrible is the media's delighted gutter-delving into salacious details which are unnecessarily repeated and analyzed ad nauseum under the pretense of "serious reporting" while all the other news, which may be far more pertinent, and far more important, for media to report on and for citizens to know about is treated as nothing more than white noise in the background.

Now that is the true horror. And try as I might, and as I'm sure many of you do too, it's hard not to pulled into the frenzy. But it's important to keep trying.

"Eco-Terror"? More Newspeak is More Like It

The word "eco-terror" is being used with increasing ease and frequency by corporate media and the general public as shorthand for acts of anti-industrialism and anti-corporatisim via direct destruction, sabatoge and vandalism committed by individuals and organized groups.

The word "eco-terror" is Newspeak, and progressive bloggers should consciously avoid using it.

While some ELF acts have been extremely stupid and counter-productive (prime example being the arson at the UW Center for Urban Horticulture which destroyed years of scientific research focusing on ecological restoration projects), and some of these acts have been more thoughtful and tightly targeted, I can't think of one act that comes close to justifiably labeling it an act of "terrorism."

Vandalism and sabotage--absolutely. Terrorism--not.

According to Wikipedia, the term "ecoterrorism" was coined by radical pro-business, anti-government right-wingers, presumably to equate those who take direct, non-violent action to promote preservationism, conservationism and ecological protection with the acts of political and religious terrorists.

ELFers' core belief in acting non-violently towards people and animals is in stark contract with the armed, angry, power-mad whackjobs and religious zealots who either don't care if somebody is hurt or killed, or really, desperately do want to kill people to get their way.

There's a world of difference between them.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Winter Soldier Testimony Starts Tomorrow

The IVAW is holding "Winter Solder" hearings starting March 13, 2008.

The four-day event will bring together veterans from across the country to testify about their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan - and present video and photographic evidence. In addition, there will be panels of scholars, veterans, journalists, and other specialists . . .

To quote one serviceman who plans on testifying:

I never dreamed that I would ever find myself thoughtlessly going along with things that I would be ashamed to tell my family of, that I would have to choose sides within my own unit, or that I would ever find myself whittled into the form of a pawn on some spoiled rich boy's chess board. No, I never thought that I, the descendant of so many proud soldiers, would ever have to choose between my loyalty to the Army, and my loyalty to the People of the United States.

To speak publicly and openly of one's own personal shame and moral failings, and to relate the shameful acts of others who once were one's loyal "brothers in arms" takes tremendous courage.

I imagine these soldiers already know what they're going to face after testifying. I hope this isn't the case, but if the past is prologue, the personal lives of the soldiers who are "going public" will be severely scrutinized, distorted and relentlessly publicized by right-wing whackjobs in an effort to discredit them and their stories.

What a shame.

Second Chance Act Passes Senate

The Second Chance Act passed the Senate yesterday. From the Reentry Policy Council of State Governments:

The U.S. Senate passed today the Second Chance Act of 2007. This landmark bill, introduced by Senators Joseph Biden (D-DE), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Arlen Specter (R-PA), provides critical resources designed to reduce recidivism and increase public safety. The legislation passed the Senate by unanimous consent and now proceeds to the President’s desk for signature.

The passage of the Second Chance Act reflects the strong consensus that improving prisoner reentry is not a partisan issue, but a matter of public safety, improving lives, and making effective use of taxpayer dollars," said Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry, Justice Center board member and chair of the New York State Assembly Correction Committee.

The Second Chance Act includes key elements of President Bush’s Prisoner Reentry Initiative, announced in the 2004 State of the Union address, which provides for community and faith-based organizations to deliver mentoring and transitional services. The bill will also help connect people released from prison and jail to mental health and substance abuse treatment, expand job training and placement services, and facilitate transitional housing and case management services.

ECS has qualms, on basic principle, of funding any "faith-based" programs and initiatives, but I am willing to suspend same for now.

This bill is a veritable sea-change from highly-punitive YOYO policies and attitudes regarding "freed" ex-offenders that is long overdue.

Here's the deal people. The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world--1 in 100 citizens are currently in prison or jail. In addition, there's one hell of a lot of people who have a "criminal history" who aren't incarcerated.

If you allow a situation to occur where ex-offenders can't get jobs or housing, regardless of the seriousness of the offense or the length of time passed since the offense, and you also allow a situation to occur where you don't offer help for the mentally ill or addicts, well then that 1 in 100 number (and the exorbinant cost of housing prisoners) just may contine to rise with no end in sight.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

300+ Reported Cases of Morgellons Disease in WA State

Some time ago I was in a position to assist a very sick young woman who was battling her disability insurance carrier because they had denied her claim for coverage and medical benefits because she had "delusional parasitosis," and "psychiatric" conditions of this sort were excluded from coverage.

Before becoming ill, this young woman was by all accounts bright, funny and hard-working. When I met her she was unable to work, was broke, and was near-suicidal on occasion from chronic pain.

Three years before, she had taken an extended trip to the San Francisco-Oakland area, and she developed a high fever that lasted several days. Shortly after the fever broke, she began developing painful, incredibly itchy pustules. These pustules broke open but instead of releasing any pus or healing, many of them morphed into deep, non-healing lesions and ulcers.

Then she started noticing very small, multi-colored fibers and speck-like materials in the lesions. When she tried using tweezers to remove these from a lesion on her wrist, she said it "felt like I was on fire. I had incredible pain shooting up my arm." On a couple occasions she actually saw vein-like "somethings" growing under her skin, she would itch uncontrollably, a pustule would suddenly form, and out of it would erupt these fibers and specks. Some of her friends and family witnessed this occur on a couple of occasions.

She couldn't sleep. She kept waking up, feeling like "bugs" were crawling on her. She was fired from her job when the ulcers on her face wouldn't heal.

She went to her GP a couple times seeking relief. The GP witnessed one of these sudden eruptions, documented it in the medical records and took some samples. Then, she was referred to a dermatologist.

To help the dermatologist, this young lady brought along a few samples of the fibers. She only saw this doctor for a few minutes during which he did a cursory exam. Unfortuantely for her (and unbeknownst to her), and for countless other sufferers of Morgellons Disease, this dermatologist concluded on the spot--with no inquiry, testing or bloodwork--that this young lady had "delusions of parasites."

The dermatologist referred her to a psychiatrist "for her depression and anxiety" and she was put on medication for it. This medication caused her long periods of near-catatonia, but did nothing to help with her symptoms.

So she was trapped in a body she couldn't move, feeling like bugs were crawling all over her, feeling like she was on fire, and all she could do was sit there in a brain fog and feel the intense pain, watch the pustules form and watch the fibers emerge from her body. She kept asking the psychiatrist for a referral to another dermatologist, but the psychiatrist felt it was important for her to first keep taking her meds to "stabilize her moods", so he kept increasing the dosage and reassured her that it would help her. So she took these drugs for a couple months until one day she happened to glance at her chart and realized that she'd been had.

Because of the dermatologist's "diagnosis" all along this psychiatrist had also presumed that she had this condition too (though this hadn't ever been discussed with her) and had been dosing her with heavy-duty anti-psychotics.

Through some symptoms-based internet searching, we stumbled upon the Morgellons Disease foundation's website. We learned that her disease progression and symptoms were "classic"--the high fever, the pustules, the ulcers, the terrible itching, the chronic pain, the sub-dermal "veining," and the fibers and specks. We learned that misdiagnosis of this disease as "parasitical delusions" was commonplace. We also learned that there were "hot spots" in specific localized areas of Texas, Florida and California (especially in the San Francisco-Oakland area where she had visited and fell ill) where reports were higher than anywhere else, and that reports of this disease were increasing.

We were able to connect with Randall Wymore, Ph.D., the lead Morgellons researcher in the United States. Dr. Wymore was extremely helpful in providing this young woman's new doctors with information about the disease progression and insights into her condition, and his input was extremely helpful in securing the medical help that she desperately needed. She received large doses of antibiotics and other drugs and treatments similar to what is provided to patients with Lyme Disease and fibromyalgia, and her symptoms subsided.

At the time all of the occurred, about three years ago or so, research into this "emerging disease" was just beginning and because the disease was't yet "recognized" no research funding was available. Dr. Wymore indicated that he and several of his colleages from various scientific disciplines had studied several skin patch samples including the fibers, but they were unable to determine (despite using multiple methods) what exactly these fibers were comprised of, however they did rule out that they were hairs or other organic materials. They did conclusively determine that the fibers and specks were actually embedded within and between layers of skin, not just laying on the outer surface of the skin (as would be the case with a piece of clothing fiber or animal hair, for example).

The CDC's interest in, and funding for research has been slow in coming.

But in the last three years, the number of reported cases of Morgellons Disease has grown all across the United States and elsewhere. Three years ago we knew of just two cases in the Seattle area. Now, in Washington state alone there are over 350 reported cases noted at the foundation's website.

Since this time there has been some national media coverage. There has been additional inquiry and conferences held as to what, exactly, the fibers and specks are and what is causing the disease. Dr. Wymore and his team are methodically experimenting and investigating the disease, but haven't formed any definitive conclusions yet.

Some other researchers not associated with the Morgellons foundation or Dr. Wymore's research team believe that the fibers and specks are comprised of materials commonly used in fiber-optics and nano-technology.

The EPA published a "white paper" in 2007 detailing the growing use of nanotechnology in industries, the inherent challenges of said use, and the possibility of widespread enviromental contamination.

This possibility is frightening.

Now I know that some people reading this post might think that this young woman was mentally ill and delusional, and that I shared her delusions, but this is simply not the case. Consider: I had never met her before and had no social pressure whatsoever to believe anything other than my own eyes. She was suffering, for sure, and was seriously ill, but she was not delusional. Once she was off the psych drugs and received antibiotics, her symptoms abated, and she improved quite a bit, though she still had occasional outbreaks.

When I first did the google searching on this disease three years ago, I came across a short piece on Morgellon's Disease by a Ben Chertoff that was published (of all places) in Popular Mechanics.

Ben Chertoff's piece on Morgellons Disease appears to be the first mention in any larger publication of this disease. Apparently he is a professional debunker, of sorts. But the simple fact of this article appearing in this magazine does raise some interesting questions, among others:

1) What's "mechanical" about this medical disease and why would readers of "Popular Mechanics" be interested?

2) What got Chertoff interested in this disease? Does he have any medical or infectious disease expertise?

3) Why did he not directly contact the nation's leading scientific researcher for quotes?

4) Why did he denigrate people who are suffering in such a cavalier fashion (read the article to get the full flavor of his smary, non-serious "reporting")?

5) Why no mention in the article of the known "hot spots" in the U.S. (which may well geographically correlate with nearby biotech research facilities)?

6) Why write an article debunking this disease when at the time of publication hardly anybody had even heard of it?

7) He's a "professional debunker". But could he also be a paid propagandist?