Friday, December 01, 2006

Jim Webb Should of Given the President A Knuckle Sandwich

There was a famous Seattle labor union lawyer named George Vandeveer, who was known as the "Counsel of the Damned”. He made his name during the ruff and tumble times of the Northwest labor movement of the 1930’s. Once he had a client come to him seeking his services over a business partner who had swindled him out of a small sum of money.

Vandeveer ask the man what he like him to do about it. “If I had my way, the man said. I really like to punch him in the nose”! Vandeveer reportedly put on his coat, drove to the guilty man’s office and proceeded to smack the man in the nose. This story was told to me years later to make a point that Vanderveer was a man among men who was revered as a man of few words and direct action on behalf of the downtrodden masses.

The story reminded me of the recent row between George Bush and Senator Elect Jim Webb of Virginia that reportedly took place at a private reception for newly elected members of congress. Apparently Webb did everything he could to avoid Bush until Bush final approached him and ask him “how his son was doing”? The president was apparently referring to the fact that Webb’s son is a Marine in Iraq.

Webb a long time opponent of the war and a decorated former Marine officer himself replied, “that he really wanted to see his son brought back home”. Bush reportedly retorted, “I didn’t ask you that, I asked you how he’s doing”. Webb then said, “that it was between him and his son how he was doing”! Webb would later confessed that he was so angered by the exchange he was tempted to slug Bush in the kisser. But somehow restrained himself.

I believe that many veterans despise Bush for the hypocrisy concerning his own military service and the decisions that have led us into this terrible and un-winnable war in Iraq. One that also has put this countries soldiers in the middle of a civil war and in situations where they cannot really defend themselves. As a former soldier himself, I think Jim Webb feels anger and frustration with the phony straw man president Bush really represents. Then Bush tries to patronize him at the reception using Webb’s son as a ploy for small talk.

Now most presidential yes men, lefty liberal types and new age namby-pambies would take umbrage with the thought that the President of the United States could have his ass kicked by a pissed off former combat Marine who’s marine son had been sent by the same president to fight in war where he’s treated like so much cannon fodder. Not me.

I think it would have been a classic statement from the likes of Jim Webb to smack the President. Webb apparently represents some vestiges of what is means to be a man’s man in this world. More like the George Vanderveer’s types of times gone by.

Forgive me, perhaps it the Irish Catholic in me, but maybe a black eye would wake this president up to the fact that you can’t be a malingering SOB when it your time to serve your nation and then think you have the moral authority to sent young men and women off to die to protect the oil companies or whatever else interest your rich friends because you eventually happen to become president. Or conduct a preemptive war without out a plan to win the peace, based on some twisted and sick ideological poppy cock that won’t ever be able to stand up to the lessons of history when they are finally written about these times.

Webb represents “old school”democrat politicians to me. The one’s my father used to tell me about when I sat at his knee. They weren’t so much the posturing overly image conscious types we see today. Webb and the new senator elect Jon Tester of Montana, the so-called “blue dog” democrats, are more of a throwback to the populist and maverick types of a former democrat party. There is a sort of a honesty to them that says what you see is what you get. Not afraid to be closer to libertarians on social issues and mind their own business on the wedge issues that the Republicans use to divide and conquer us. Men comfortable in their own skins.

No matter what you say, I kind of would of like for Webb to have invited George out back to the rose garden for an after dinner knuckle sandwich, like in a John Wayne movie. Perhaps, it knocks some sense into him. Mounting casualties, loss of the congress, civil war in Iraq, failed diplomacy, neo-cons jumping ship, must I go on. Nothing else has seems to get this president to see the truth.

Webb would become an instant folk hero to many I'm sure of it.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Continuing Rhetoric About Victory in Iraq from Lieberman and McCain

CNN recently asked it's viewers to send in their emails indicating what they thought would constituted or defined “Victory in Iraq”. One viewer responded that victory would be achieved when there was a Starbucks on every corner in Baghdad. As silly as this statement may seem it is more definitive than the rhetoric that we’ve been getting from the likes of McCain and Lieberman even as recently as yesterday.

In the face of the recent national elections results that overwhelmingly repudiated the Iraq war and these types of knuckleheads. We continue to hear this rhetoric about our need to leave Iraq only when “victory” is achieved. Yesterday on Meet the Press John McCain and Joe “I’m really a republican now” Lieberman repeatedly called for some sort of “victory” in Iraq before the US should get out. More or less swapping an old rhetoric smoke and mirrors trick from the Vietnam War era, then called the “domino theory”, for the new “heaven for terrorists” rhetoric of the supporters of this current American imperialistic super power blunder. I thought of Ex-Senator Conrad Burns, the defeated republican incumbent from Montana, offering the discredited National Strategy for Victory in Iraq pamphlet as his plan for victory in Iraq when put on the spot in a pre-election debate. The American people deserve some answers! Not this tried rehtoric from Lieberman McCain or the likes of Burns.

Lieberman, somewhat full of himself, has now creating his own reality based world by getting elected as a independent from Connecticut after being defeated running as a democrat in the primary. The primary defeat, of course, was due to his rightwing stand on the war and blind support of Bush’s incompetent policies. He can credit being elected as an independent directly to 70% of the republicans in Connecticut who decided to ignore their own republican candidate and instead voting for him backed up by the fully implied support of Cheney and Bush. Without republican voters and politicians who recognized he was really on their side he’d probably of been toast. Two out of three democrats voted against Lieberman in the election.

Meanwhile McCain waxed on about sending even more troops to Iraq. Tim Russert, the shows moderator, failed to ask McCain where these troops would be coming from or if that meant we be considering reinstituting a military draft. Nor did Russert ask either McCain or Lieberman to define exactly what victory in Iraq meant or would look like. Letting them get away with the old tired crap that we’ve heard from the proponents of this failed policy from day one. McCain even equating the current situtation in Iraq somehow to similar setbacks we experienced during WWII. This goes behond reaching.

McCain, most likely to be a republican presidential front-runner for 2008, continues to get it wrong. On Meet the Press Sunday McCain again claimed this is a “critical time” in Iraq and that “we’re either going to lose this thing or win this thing within the next several months.” In March of 2003 he claimed, “I believe that this conflict is still going to be relatively short.” June of 2004 “The terrorists know that this is a very critical time.” December 8, 2005, McCain said, “Overall, I think a year from now, we will have a fair amount of progress [in Iraq] if we stay the course.” In October 2006, “I think that, first of all, things are very serious there. And to say otherwise I don’t think would be an accurate depiction of events, and this is a very critical time.” McCain admitted he has “proven not to be correct” on past predictions. This is the same person, who also cut a commercial supporting the anti gay marriage initiative in Arizona, which the people, of that usually conservative state, surprisingly rejected last Tuesday.

McCain and Lieberman need to clearly define what “victory in Iraq” would mean. Even the Iraq Study Group has abandoned this victory rhetoric. Russert did not help matters by letting them continue the babble without challenging them on the specifics.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Gerrymandering Only Good When Your Party Is The One In Power!


Several background news stories coming on the heals of the 2006 midterms point out the significant gains in the number of seats won by democrats within different state governments across the country. The stories point to the advantage that these new gains play in future redistricting of congressional and legislative districts, within a particular state, and how it could work as an advantage for the party at the state level in future elections. The premise, of many of these reports being, that democrats would redistrict or “gerrymander” to strengthen the likelihood of a congressional or legislative district containing more voters favorable to democrat ideas and candidates and reducing the likelihood of the voters, within the new districts, voting for a republican or independent.

I believe the average voter often misunderstands or knows little about gerrymandering. That’s if they are aware of it at all when they go to cast their vote for congress or their state legislature. Redistricting is always a back-story when it comes time to vote. Even though it plays a significant role in whom the voter get to vote for, and I think, in a more roundabout way ultimately, the voter’s apathy and the general turnout of voters at the polls.

The term gerrymandering is defined as “drawing a electoral district’s lines in a manner that discriminates against a political party or particular group of citizens”. The term itself comes from Elbridge Gerry, the governor of Massachusetts in 1812. He and the legislature divided the state into new voting districts in such a way that it heavily favored success at the ballot box for democrat and republican candidates over the federalist party candidates. One new district’s shape was so odd that it actually resembled a salamander. A political cartoon drawing of the day, showing the shape of the district. deemed it the “Gerrymander”. Radical redistricting by state lawmakers or “gerrymandering” has taken place throughout American history. The US constitution requires that congressional districts throughout the country be evenly proportioned, based on population. There are 435 seats presently with each state being granted at least one congressional seat. The remaining 385 seats are then divided amongst the states based on population trends. Thus some state will gain seats and other lose seats when reapportionment takes place and populations change or relocate within a state or from state to state. This is done every ten years after the US census is completed. The state’s politicians then determine how the congressional district’s boundaries are drawn up within their state. This is often where the fun really begins.

The power to redistrict your state to the advantage of your political party is one of the spoils of controlling the power within the statehouse and governor’s office of a state. This power comes with relatively few legal or political restrictions. But it can be definitive in determining who gets elected, lessening the power of a certain political party, and creating apathy and powerless feelings amongst groups of disenfranchised citizens subject to radical and unfair redistricting. Did radical gerrymandering cause apathy in Texas in the recent election?. The turnout in the state of Texas on November 7th was 33% of the total registered voters. The national average was approximately 40%, which was up slightly on a national basis from 2002 midterm turnout. Could low voter turnout in Texas be due to a voter disenchanted based on a feeling that his vote doesn’t mean anything in a radically gerrymandered district in which one may find them self located? I think that it’s a least plausible argument. Does Tom Delay really care if your feeling disenfranchised? Or does he and other republicans in Texas, like Carl Rove, care about winning elections at all cost even if it limits the rights of individual voters.

“here is a potential for a huge shift of power — in either direction. Currently, of the 36 state legislatures that control Congressional redistricting, 20 have at least one chamber within 4 seats of changing hands. These 20 states control 195 Congressional districts. A flip of about 50 state legislative seats in key chambers (out of over seven thousand seats nationally) could mean a gain or a loss of up to 15 Democratic Congressional seats in the next round of redistricting.” (statement on DLCC website prior to midterm)

Democrat gains in congress were also matched on the state level throughout the country. D’s now completely control 15 state houses, adding New Hampshire for the first time since 1874 and Colorado for the first time since 1960. Significant gains were made in the south, normally a republican bastion. Democrats now control more chambers than at any time since 1994. They gained new majorities in the: Iowa House and Senate, Indiana House, Michigan House, Minnesota House, Oregon House, and Wisconsin Senate. Republicans control 10 statehouses now, down from 12 held before the midterm election. The democrats also now control 28 governor seats up from 22. There are 24 statehouses that are divided and one (Nebraska) with is nonpartisan. Here in Washington State the democrats gained seats in both the State Senate and House and already held the governorship, which only strengthens their hold on power.

Normally states do redistricting every ten years using data compiled by the new US census. The next census is scheduled for 2010. Thus in most state legislatures, where the legislators do the redistricting themselves, the real important election, when it comes to redistricting, will actually be in 2008. Though the belief is that democrat gains now should mean that many of these newly elected state lawmakers will be incumbents who are traditionally more likely in the next go around to get reelected. But there are some drastic changes afoot brought about by Tom Delay in Texas and a Supreme Court ruling earlier this year that tested Delay’s new radical gerrymandering.

This practice of redistricting every ten years was radically altered by the supreme court decision in June 2006 reviewing a Texas case where implementation of a Tom Delay led redistricting plan by republicans after they took control of the Texas statehouse in 2002. Tossing out the redistricting plan imposed by a federal court only a year earlier. This practice was challenged legally and eventually heard before the Supreme Court. In essence the court ruled that Texas and other states could redistrict at any time and were only restricted in how they did it to population numbers and a few basic rules to protect against racial discrimination when drawing up the new districts. The new Texas plan resulted in 6 new republican congressional seats in the 2004 elections. To quote the DLCC: “In terms of Congressional redistricting, the Supreme Court’s recent decision on Texas redistricting further elevates the importance of state legislatures. It could lead to state legislatures trying to redraw Congressional district maps at any time”.

“Let the redistricting festivities begin, This really signals that the federal judiciary will not step in even in the most extreme cases.” (Gerald Hebert Attorney for Texas democrats who argued before the Supreme Court)

Not all states do their redistricting using their legislature. Thirty-six states do. Seven states have quasi-independent commissions and 6 have only one congressional district, one has a independent Service bureau. In Washington State the redistricting commission system was instituted by a constitution amendment and vote of the people in 1983. The commission first opportunity to redistrict the state came in 1991 after the US census. According to Washington state law, the legislature has 30-days to amend the redistricting plan submitted by the Washington State Redistricting Commission. Amendments must be approved by two-thirds of the members in each house, and cannot include more than two percent of the population of any district. The creation of the commission apparently has eliminated the colorful history of party squabbling, unfairness and court fights over redistricting and gerrymandering that once were par for the course here.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The names of the dead

September 10, 2001 I had a night job "Best Boy'ing" a Noriega rap video. Talent included the midget from Howard Stern. I forgot his name. I never remember stuff like that. We shot in a supermarket in NJ and the Gaffer and I had an easy-going relationship. We were both sips of water personalities. He liked me because I was a hard worker, experienced, and self-directed. He was also rather gawky and puny for a crewman, so my energy was not a threat to his authority. I am strong and capable but not a butch. I knew how to take and give orders, and luckily, my crew always did what I asked.

The vibe was strange that night. I have done hundreds of rap videos over the last ten years. I am use to being the token "which of these things does not belong" in the midst of a hullabaloo of posse antics and hooch'ie mamas. When I was younger, I prided myself on having earned the respect of my male co-workers by blending in to the organism so that you would barely know I was there. Someone would always inevitably point out how hard I worked, but I worked just as hard as all the other men on the crew. The attention would just gravitate to me because I had not relinquished my femininity to adapt. Everyone else was working as diligently too.

I had never been on a job that was so volatile before that night. There was tension in the air. I thought it was due to the fact that Noriega was involved allegedly in a shooting in Queens or because production was disorganized so that we had to rerun 4/0 cable five times through the supermarket. They kept changing the lighting set up and shot order and we were only eight and eight. Accordingly, the electric crew attempted to make ice cream from the shit of cables and gak strewn through the freezer aisle. Lunch was four hours late, so we had worked straight through ten hours of backbreaking labor before any of us sat down. By the eighteenth hour many of my guys were tired. The bulk had been shot and I did what most "best boys" do in the eighteenth hour .. vis. time cards. Anyone who works in my field knows that the best boy does time cards before wrap so the crew can go home after a twenty plus hour day without delay.

One of my crew-members sat on the truck next to me filling out his W-2 when the AD walked up. This AD put the whole job in perspective for me when he asked me why we were filling out time cards. What an idiot! He said that my crew-member should get back to work. I stood right into his shoulder and told him in no uncertain terms to get off my truck and never tell my crewman what he should or shouldn't do. I never had to do that before. He walked away. The Gaffer also acted out of character. After yelling at me in front of the DP, I mentioned to him after the job to do me the favor of never call me again. Never eat your own crew when you are fucked, it ruins morale and when all is said and done the fault lay with him and his poor scouting abilities. By the end of the twenty-four hour job all I wanted to do was sleep. My boyfriend and I took the G&E truck back to the city with a Luna driver and went straight to sleep. It was 8:30am.

I woke up at 4pm. There were fourteen messages on my machine. No one mentioned the WTC, all they asked was if I were alive. I thought there might have been an earthquake while I slept. I turned on the TV.

When I was in school in Ohio the first WTC bombing took place. When I came back to New York in 1998, I worked as a grunt in a rental house down on Worth Street paying my dues. The storefront was under the WTC. I remember standing outside during lunch one day with Charlie from the Bronx who worked in the basement. He recounted for my benefit how they tried to knock "this tower" into "that one". I stood there in disbelief. That could never happen...I wonder what it would look like.

I knew the Trade Towers well. I even worked as a temp in an office there during one summer home from school. When they offered me a full time position, I turned them down because I wanted adventure. I bought a one-way ticket to Cambodia instead. Many of my childhood friends did not. I went to a private Jesuit school on the Upper East Side on Manhattan and most of my classmates went into finance. It was upward mobility for the young Irish catholic kids from middle class homes. If they didn't go into finance they became cops or firemen.

A couple of weeks after the attacks I was on Perry Street in the West Village, and my old speech and debate friend from the all boys' high school across from Loyola walked past me. I always wanted to go to Regis but I couldn't because I was a girl. Since Loyola didn't have an Lincoln Douglas debate primer, I went go over to Regis. I would volunteer as a female actress in their High School plays. A Regis boy took me to my senior prom. T always scared me because he reminded me of myself. T had gone to Princeton and then worked as a camera assistant for a while. His whole family was in the fire department. He was the only male who was not a fireman. He had been documenting his family's relationship with the fire department in a film leading up to September 11, only he didn't know that September 11 would happen. We had both worked in Haiti on separate jobs. When I asked him how he was. He fell apart. They were all dead, every single one of them. As I write this I get so angry, but my anger seems futile, so it subsides into numbness and sadness. Last night was the first time in five years that I have been able to think about what was lost that day with tears that went deep into my heart with relief

The owner of Luna lighting deserves an award. He owns stages in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Tony sent all of his genies down to the WTC because he knew that workers need electricity and light to look for survivors. Non-union motion picture lighting crewmen came and lit the whole areas with movie lights before nightfall and manned the genies voluntarily for weeks until the union took over and kicked the "scabs" and "rats" off the work set.

S was a close childhood friend. He worked for Cantor Fitzgerald. S was my first lesson in the smartest person is not the wealthiest person or the happiest person. He was very intelligent but not a "smarty pants because I bought everything my parents told me type." He always thought I was too serious. We always argued. His dad was always nice to me. My childhood best friend, K, (who was his roommate and closest friend) said she saw his photo in the Daily News jumping out of a window. She could recognize his socks. She smiled and then looked pained and guilty for saying something so matter of fact. I want to delete this blog after writing that.

I will probably delete this blog before tomorrow is done...I understand why some do not speak the names of dead people...I wish I could just be o.k. with this but I am not...

(reposted from http://www.myspace.com/scalexa)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

George Carlin's views on modern American politics...

Sad and cynical but, unfortunately, probably not that far from the truth.

Get this video and more at MySpace.com

Thursday, August 24, 2006

NYT Friedman Enraged At Bush Over Iraq


Thursday August 24, 2006

The New York Times op-ed columnist, Tom Friedman is quoted from Imus in the morning show:

"What really drives me nuts, and frankly into a rage Don, is when I hear the President, or the Vice President criticizing Democrats, saying these people don't understand the stakes, they don't understand what a titanic struggle we are in with the Arab Muslim world, with this Islamic fascist fringe out there, and how important this titanic struggle is. And, my answer to that, well if it was so important, then why did you fight this war by the Rumsfeld doctrine of just enough troops to lose, and, not the Powell doctrine of overwhelming force, if it was so important?

If it's so important then why won't you impose a gasoline tax, a patriot tax, something that will reduce our consumption, so that we aren't funding both sides of the war; the U.S. Military with our tax dollars and Al Qaeda and Islamic Jihad and all the terrorists with our energy purchases. And by the way, Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, if it's so important, if it's such a titanic struggle of our age that we're in, then why do you constantly use it as a wedge issue in our politics as if we could have fought World War II with fifty point one percent of the population? What is so breathtakingly fraudulent about these guys Don is that they always talk about the stakes, but they never talk about their actual performance. They always talk about the principle but never the practice."

Monday, July 31, 2006

MSNBC's Chris Matthew hits on Ann Coulter?

Chris Matthew's doddered over Ann Coulter like a sex starved old creep during her recent appearance on Hardball. He acts like she's god's gift to women and journalism when she is really closer to the theatrical high ground of a professional wrestler. Coulter continues to make wild accusations and spread lies at the expense of the innocent in-order to sell books and further her psycho-babbling extremely right-wing self-centered career and political agenda.

Meanwhile, Chris let's her get away with murder when she calls Al Gore a "total fag". She also implicates Bill Clinton as "probably" a homosexual and Matthew does nothing meaningful to challenge the obvious innuendo that is only intended to assassinate and rumormonger Gore and Clinton in a negative way with main stream America and sell her sleazy books. Or be used to embolden the homophobes and bigots out there.

Maybe Matthews is so shallow he's afraid he would be considered politically incorrect by challenging these wild accusations. But instead of doing anything behond a sort of gee-whiz expression he’s acting like he wants to go on a date with this anorexic bag of crap.

This woman is a political floozy of the worst kind. Why does MSNBC, which apparently fancies itself as a legitimate news organization, continue to give this woman a platform to spread her hate, lies, and ridiculous political bull shit when there are obviously more important and credible news stories and people to report about?

No wonder the MSNBC network continues to lag in the ratings. Matthew's needs to stop acting like a wide eyed Irish Catholic alter-boy who's never been laid, or wandered far from neighborhood he grew up in, and grow a pair. Typically he often seems most impressed by the last person he is talking too. It be like I came on the show and told him the moon was made of green cheese. He probably thank me for the well thought out information and invite me back to further substantiate the facts in a future show because "you seem like down to earth guy, and I like you". Even when everything I've just said seems like poppycock to anyone with a lick of common sense who is watching the show.

I am hopeful that soon the American political scene, including the television broadcasters, will grow tried of this "shock jock tabloid style" of news reporting that MSNBC and others like FOX nowadays have made acceptable fare.

Where are Edward R, Murrow and Walter Cronkite when, more then ever before, we so badly need the truth about our government. Not the scurrilous pabulum of Ann Coulter. What was really sad about this is Matthew acting like a total dip shit in the presence of this woman. Apparently unable to be honest or display the integrity necessary to challenge her wild accusations.

But, the bigger questions is why does MSNBC even grant her the airtime when their are hundreds of legitimate people out there who have a real stories that need telling. The answer is of course that this type of scandal promoting apparently sells during this era when nothing is ever considered to be personally embarrassing or to far fetched if it appears to be able to makes money and boost the TV ratings.

The MSNBC network is now in my personal shit-house along with FOX and the other banal gathering of journalistically bankrupt boobs. They shall remain there till they stop supporting this type of tripe disquised as news and people like Coulter.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Link to Robert Kennedy Jr Rolling Stone Article claiming 2004 Ohio Vote Fraud

Link to online Rolling Stone Magazine feature article where Robert Kennedy Jr makes case for wide spread vote fraud in 2004 Ohio presidential election.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Bobby Kennedy Jr Alleges 2004 Ohio Presidential Election Fraud

In this week's issue of the Rolling Stone, due out Friday, Bobby Kennedy Jr. makes case for wide spread fraud in 2004 presidential election in Ohio. If allegations are true Kerry should have taken Ohio and the white house.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Open Letter to Hardball's Chris Matthews

Dear Chris,

You recently discribed Al Gore as "one slice short of a loaf".

Your promulgation of the false stereo typing of Al Gore as some sort of kooky fringe character on the broadcast was unfortunate. I think it is unfair and a false misrepresentation of the facts.

I think the facts support an argument that he should and would of been the president of this country if it had not been for the manipulation of the votes by now discredited Bush allies in Florida during the 2000 election and a conservative and a gutless US supreme court decision not to do anything about it. Maybe his election would of been able to stop 9/11 before it happened or in someway changed the course of history from the terrible state we find the world in today under the present administration.

But, I don't wish to cry to much over the spilled milk right now.

The truth, as I see it, is that Al Gore has more intelligence, understanding of the issues, integrity and vision in his little toe then George Bush, Cheney, or any of this administration's incompetent cronies combined.

Yet you continue this sham of dumbing down Gore's image instead of looking objectively at the real record of his accomplishments. It also begs the question of why you don't just as flippantly make fun of Bush? Who in my opinion is far more worthy of questions about his intelligence or "kooky or fringy" behavior. I suggest that in Bush's case you use "the wheel is turning but the gerbil is dead" next time you need a quick way to describe his presidency to date.

Gore has been right on the war in Iraq, Right on bringing attention to the effects of bad environmental policies, including global warming., Right on passionately raising questions about the competence and integrity of this nation's leaders and the way they have dealt with enemy combatants. Right on pointing out the mistakes in the run up and promotion of the mistaken war in Iraq. Right on how this administration has destroyed America's moral authority in the world.

He should be given credit for speaking out early and often on the major issues of the day. I think history will prove him correct. Also I find Gore's newfound passion refreshing and I hope he will consider running for the White House in 2008. He certainly appears to be a viable candidate, if he chooses to run.

Yet you find it amusing, for some reason, to continue to subtly assassinate his character by painting him to be some sort of fringe personality. This is also the favorite pastime of the right when it comes to Gore. I suspect it is because they, in truth, really fear him as a future political adversary. Republicans continue to use the now well understood tactic of character assassination and sort of "swift boating" everyone who doesn't agree with them in-order to destroy their opponents images in the eyes of potential voters.

If you disagree with us (Republicans) your suddenly a kook or nut. This is politics 101 in the school of Carl Rove. If he becomes a candidate in 2008 the next thing you know is that these despicable men will probably start a unsubstantiated rumor that Gore, let's say, has had a previously unreport sex change operation during the time he was serving in Viet Nam.

Okay Gore is different, but so was Abe Lincoln, one could argue. This did not diminish their value as leaders. Different is good. Why do you marginalize Gore with these shallow attacks on his character? Don't you think this country needs "different"? Obviiously, the same old shit isn't working anymore.

Your flippant style when reporting about Al Gore, only serves to undermines his value as a leader in the eyes of the people. This type of reporting plays a part in why we end up with the type of incompetents we have leading our nation now.

Respectfully,

artistdogboy
Vashon, WA


P.S. Here a a few more flippant descriptions of the Bush presidency and intelligence quotient that will work when you need them:

  • One sandwich short of a picnic.
  • One brick short of a load.
  • One egg short of an omelet.
  • The light is on, but nobody is home.
  • The elevator doesn't go to the top floor.
  • Not the sharpest knife in the drawer.
  • Not the sharpest tool in the shed.
  • Not the brightest penny in the purse.
  • Not the brightest bulb on the tree.
  • If brains were money, he couldn't change a nickel.
  • If brains were taxed, he would get a refund.
  • The gates are down, the lights are flashing, but there is no train.
  • The starting gate is open, but he's still asking directions.
  • Bright as a flashlight after 5 years in a drawer.
  • As useless as a bucket without a bottom.
  • As useless as a knife without a blade.
  • As useless as a window without the glass.
  • Thinks "Middle East" means Virginia and Maryland.
  • Thinks "Red China" means dishes.
  • Thinks Latin Americans speak Latin.
  • Takes an hour and a half to watch 60 Minutes.
  • Cruises the misinformation superhighway.
  • Called information to get the number for 911.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Link to video of Steven Colbert Lampoon of Bush

Here is the link to Free Video Blog for video of Steven Colbert lampooning of Bush at White House Correspondents dinner. Must see if you missed it. High bandwidth feed recommended.

You can cut the nervous laughter reactions in the hall with a knife. Best thing since Don Imus 1996 roast of Bill Clinton.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Is the world as we know it spinning out of control?

The runaway train of a presidency of George W Bush and his lemming Republican congress has brought us to the precipice. It seems now more and more that we stand looking into the abyss only waiting for the final "big fuckup". Life before Bush was cheap but now it has become like the perverbal, but not funny, Marx brothers movie.

Where is the great common sense that permeated this country for most of the last century? Wasn’t America a beacon of liberty, enlightenment, and civilized justice for most of our lifetime? It appears to be a rarely found commodity in the body politic today.

The frat boys and knuckleheads have won, apparently. The selfcentered and egocentric lifestyles that rule many, if not a majority, of Americans lifes have come home to roost. Are the people of this nation really more interested in the latest Paris Hilton crouch shot and/or the drunk guy, and his equally intoxicated bimbo bride, that fell off the cruise ship in a drunken stupor then stopping a unjust and stupid war in Iraq or electing politicians interested in progressive politics that actually move this nation into a new century of progress.

The public educational system is in shambles. In Washington State in 2005 more than half of the 10th graders failed the math segment of the WASL test. A testing system instituted to ascertain whether Washington State schools educational standards are being met. Teachers and politicians “pooh pooh” the results and make excuses for the failing system instead of demanding better curriculum and results from teachers and students. “Poor kids”, the parents say, Meanwhile kids in, China, Asia and India and other nations demand and expect excellence from their children and usually get it. These thirdworld students are destined to be the leaders of the new economic and technical world order. Our spoiled children only continue to fall behind.

We’ve become soft, gutless, spiritually bankrupt and stupid. We deserve what we get. A brainless backward president and administration of nincompoops who has led us into an ideologically based religious war for Christ and oil based apparently on our greedy need for soccer moms to run oversized energy obsolete personal vehicles to the supermarket each week. Rednecks equated it as freedom. But it’s not freedom it’s arrogance and ignorant. This war in Iraq has never been worth the life of even one of America's brave soldiers at the hands of this malingering commander in chief bozo.

No one will take my fucking SUV away! Well unless things change pretty quickly buddy, I predict you will soon be in for a rude awakening. It really has gotten strange when liberals actually think Nixon wasn’t that bad a president when compared to the douse bags that we have running this country into the ground today.

Eight years of these assholes in total control this country may get us all killed. The people must elect enough democrats to take the control of the Congress so there is something to counter Bush, Cheney and Rove et al from destroying our democracy any further. Democrats are not perfect, or much better in many cases, but I would rather take my chances with the liberals then the nitwits in charge now. Democrats in this case are the superior brand of nitwit.

The pendulum must swing back in favor of common sense if this country if it is to continue to exist as we have known it.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight

Mr. Macho Dick Cheney apparently needs to retake the firearms course.

Taking one for the team, Cheney supporter and hunting partner and good Republican Henry Whittington, the Austin Texas Lawyer Cheney blasted, is probably beside himself because it would be inappropriate to sue the VP for negligence, pain and suffering.

The VP apparently claimed he was embarrassed by the whole incident. Now, perhaps he has an inkling of how Americans feel about the policies of this administration. To me it demonstrates the gang that couldn’t shoot straight, Laurel and Hardy world that apparently constitutes this administration’s inter-sanctum.

The administration strategically delayed the release of the facts surrounding the incident for 24 hours. Demonstrating the now well-known Cheney and Bush Administration approach of attempting to damage control a negative story and represent the events, in their perception, in the best possible light.

I just shot my hunting partner in the face with buckshot but it’s really not that bad or out of the ordinary. It could happen to anybody! Something a Vice President of the United States does all the time. What's for dinner Martha?

I want to know if alcohol was involved and all the other obvious questions that seem unanswered in reports on the incident. For god’s sake, if it were Ted Kennedy or Clinton you’d bet the Republican control Senate would be calling for a Congressional investigation.

Cheney is generally considered to be the real power behind the throne in the administration. It’s not difficult to connect the dots and see that many of the policies that the Bush administration has put into play have come from the bungling curmudgeon mind of Dick Cheney. While always acting like he is above reproach.

The weekend hunting accident I think just reinforces the overall systemic Marx brother’s movie that this government and Cheney's real life really represents.

Need I remind you. Here is a ruff list of known administration screw-ups:

  • Accidentally shooting top political contributor
  • Iraq
  • Hurricane Katrina response
  • Discredited Medicare Prescription Drugs program
  • 8 billion mostly unaccounted for in Iraq
  • Unfunded no child left behind
  • Palestine in control of Hamas
  • Misusing Armed Forces and breaking he military
  • Halliburton scandals
  • Not connecting the dots prior to 9/11
  • Letting Osama Bin Laden escape Tora Bora
  • Social Security Reform
  • Ignoring Climate Change warnings
  • Alienating America’s Allies
  • Abu Grub
  • Guantanamo
  • Allowing Torture of enemy combatants
  • NSA domestic Spying abuses
  • 300 Billion cost of war on Terror in Iraq and Afghanistan
  • No alternative energy policy
  • Attack on the Environmental protections
  • Tax breaks for the rich
  • Record Federal Deficits
  • Plame leak Scandal
  • Cronyism in key government job appointments
  • Dysfunctional Immigration Policies and open borders
  • Lack of real healthcare reform
  • Abramoff scandal

Cheney often plays the tough guy. He likes people to perceive him as sort of a man’s man. Even though he was apparently not willing to take on the responsibility of serving his country in a time of war. Using family connections and influence to get a deferment. I have often thought that he is really a fear filled person who probably in real life sleeps with a night-light. Most of these macho types are the ones who are really full of fear is my theory. Only playing the tough guy role to hide the underlying terrors about not being able to actual pull it off. It is my belief this is why fear so permeates this administration’s policies. Perhaps they are the ones who are the most fearful of us all.

So we live under a government ruled by fear and it's by-product incompetence.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Joke about Moslem Mullah, Catholic Priest, Minister and Rabbi in Airplane With Engine Trouble Officially Banned

A Jesuit priest from Brooklyn, who I knew when I was in the US army in Germany during 1966, told me an interesting story about his experiences when he was in Nigeria working as a teacher in the local school system.

When it came time for the students to participate in physical education training it often became difficult to get the students to agree on what games to play. The priest suggested that the group take a vote and that the majority voting for a particular game would settle the issue. Good old democracy on the playground would win the day. Instead these Nigerian students most often rejected the concept or majority rule and would simply break into groups bent on playing the game that their group favored. It seems to the priest that the American concept or democracy was totally foreign to them and rather hard for them to embrace having had little on no experience with it.

I think this story may also demonstrate a parallel to what we are seeing today with the violent reactions in the Moslem world to the Danish cartoon that depict the prophet Mohammed’s turban in the shape of a bomb.

Let’s face it, in the west; nothing is really sacred when it comes to defiling religious icons. Jesus it more of less a go to choice as a Halloween costume with your date probably dressed up as the Virgin Mary in fishnets. Not many are going to get their articles of underwear in a knot about it. Well not enough that it moves them to, lets say, riot and burn down the local infidel’s embassy and kill a few innocent bystanders.

One close comparison in America is really the way ultra right-wingers freak-out when some kooky hippie decides to burn a American Flag. Something I never thought to be that effective, except in it’s ability to quickly polarize people dislike for one another. The hippie would argue that it’s just free speech and an inanimate piece of cloth. The redneck sees it as an attack on the “American way of life” tantamount to blowing up the Washington monument on the 4th of July. It was not that long ago the rednecks were demanding a constitutional amendment to protect the flag from further harm while most of the world wondered what all the fuss was about over a national symbol anyway.

Well I say get a life to the Moslems and the Rednecks. Where is your freaking sense of humor? Must it always be just death and more death with you guys?

Rednecks like to argue that people “died for that flag”. Well did they really or did they die protecting the homeland and their loved ones? It would seem somewhat foolish to me to be dying for an inanimate piece of cloth with red and white stripes on it, or a cartoon making fun of Jesus. Here I must ask what would Jesus do? I guess that some kids in the getto have killed for a pair of air Jordan's shoes, Just as misguided you'd say.

It demonstrates a certain level of insecurity when people become afraid of ideas alone or inanimate objects like flags or cartoons, akin to the radical Moslem world’s reaction to this drawing. Or the way rednecks act when some one burns a flag. When it comes to flag burning America takes the cake. In Canada or Europe you could probably burn a truckload of national flags and probably be considered different but not necessarily revolutionary.

It also demonstrates the gulf between the way most of us generally think in the West versus the Moslem world. Which I think has a connection to the story about the Nigerian schoolboys. People in other parts of the world sometimes just don’t grasp concepts of how society should live and be governed that we in the west often take for granted. Is it for us to say it's backward?

Who knows. It has never been demonstrated to me that the war in Iraq was a direct threat to our security on the level that it was worth having Americans die. Which is the only reason such sacrifice could ever become necessary.

To some extent this is the mistake that Bush has made in Iraq. Thinking the mission would be accomplished so easily once we offered them the chance to form a constitutional democracy. Most of these people find the concept foreign and contrary to what has been their experience. They are comfortable being divided along the lines of tribal and religious sects. Religion is often part of government not separated from it.

The other very ironic thing about all this death and destruction brought about be a cartoon is the fact that the current Bush government often plays the same reactionary church and state mixing cards he is quick to criticize the militant Moslem nations about. No wonder that our founding fathers clearly saw the need to keep god and government separate. A belief based on their negative experiences after seeing hundreds of years of destructive religious driven wars in Europe. A concept that Bush and his religious zealot cronies failed to see when reading the history of the western world and therefore find hard to apparently now conceptualize.

The left leaning masses also shouldn’t cower about standing up to Moslems and rednecks who say that these cartoons and flag burnings should be banned.

I hope that liberals don’t take the politically correct course of least rĂ©sistance on this issue just because of their fear of not being preceived as tolerant or having an understanding of the downtrodden Moslem masses. One of the Moslem demonstrators had a sign that said “to hell with freedom”! To conclude that these radical Moslems are right would be beyond taking a hypocritical position I think.

All this certainly demonstrates the extremely polarized world that the Bush foreign policies have created since he came to power. But not to worry for we have a secret weapon in under secretary of state Karen Hughes who's understanding of Moslem world is widely known.

Fifteen minutes with Hughes and we can probably stir up a war with Iran and Syria too.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Intellectually Bankrupt Republicans Play Fast and Loose by Playing Party Politics with Sex Offender Issue

Bankrupt of any new, modern, or real ideas, the Republican caucus in Olympia is attempting to appeal to the raw emotion that is easily conjured up when voters think of the proper punishment for people who molest, rape and kill children with sexual motivation. Republicans apparent motivation is that they believe it will pay election dividends in 2006. But will it deal more effectively with the crimes of sexual offenders?

Okay! There is no pro sex offender lobby group in Olympia. No one is going to go before a Washington State legislative committee and argue that we should be more tolerant with sex offenders. In fact Washington State has led the nation in tough laws dealing with sex offenders over the years. Laws that call for indefinite civil committments of sexual predators when prison sentences end for instance.

Why then have the Republicans chosen to turn this issue into a circus sideshow during the current session of the Washington State legislature?

The Republican caucus in Olympia decided prior to the session they needed a hot potato political issue to run their election campaigns around in 2006. They have revealed this strategy by their actions in Olympia since the start of the legislative session. They decided that the center piece of their platform in 2006 would apparently be sexual offenders. With the politicizing of this extremely emotional and polarizing issue they believe they have found a win-win election wedge issue for 2006.

Republican conservatives only need to focus the media attention away from their shortcomings as leaders with any new ideas or the more pressing problems of the State and towards labeling Democrats, in the minds of the 2006 electorate, as being a party reluctant to punishment sex offenders. It is somewhat ironic due to the fact that Washington State, as indicated before, has some of the toughest laws already on the books in the nation when it comes to dealing with sex offenders.

The Democratic response to this has been to propose tougher penalties for sex crimes also, in a effort to address the Republican concerns. House bill 2411 primary sponsor is Mountlake Terrace Democrat Al O'Brien, a retired Seattle Police Sergeant who served for 29 years in that capacity. The Democratic proposals mirrors the Republican proposals, for the most part, but also reflect input from victims, advocates for victims, prosecutors, police, and the legal community.

You must remember the Republican Legislative opening day ploy to just skip the regular legislative hearing process all together and pass a sex offender bill immediately that day without any input from anyone. When the Democrats rejected this proposal the pre-made radio ads quickly followed, in key Democratic districts, indicating that the Democrats had voted against getting tough with sex offenders or were being soft on crime.

What total bullshit!

At the end of a recent emotion packed hearing on a Democratic sponsored bill to strengthen sex offender laws, Republican John Ahern of Spokane offered that he had recently talked to unidentified “Moslem” who’s opinion on what to do with sex offenders he agreed with. “They just kill them” he then added. Said before an audience, at the committee hearing, composed predominantly of emotionally spent victims, and the relatives of victims, the statement played pretty good to say the least. I would say that Ahern was preaching to the choir on this one. A Democrat on the committee quickly added that this is the same culture that often kills women outright if it is perceived they have in someway brought dishonor to the family, inferring that maybe the Ahern analogy was a little extreme and somewhat off point.

Let’s just form a posse and when one of these perverts rapes or molests a child will catch them and just string them up. No need to pay attention to proof beyond a reasonable doubt, the rule of law, evidence, or a trial, is apparently the current Republican position. Nor are the circumstances or relationship of the victim to the offender ever to be considered. But, the reality of prosecuting these types of crimes is much different to prosecutors, the police, and victim advocates who are often dealing with young or reluctant victims and with such things as the rules of evidence or placing compelling proof of guilt before the jury.

The Democratic caucus in Olympia has a tough job framing their position on this issue in the mind of the average voters. It's easy for the Republican caucus to just say “hang them all”. The Democratic position has more nuances to it and prosecutors and police say the democratic position may actually lead to more actual convictions for longer time then the Republican hang them high or lock them up and throw away the key rhetoric. But most voters apparently have trouble with nuance when it comes to sexual offenders.

Although Democrats have proposed laws that mirror the popular trend toward a version of Jessica’s law, which is named after Jessica Lunsford, a 9 year old who was raped in murdered in Florida, that calls for 25 years to life in prison for sex offenders who commit violent sexual crimes against children. The Democratic legislative proposal mainly differs when it comes to victims who are known by the offender. It must be added that the Democrat proposal does not protect people in positions of authority like a coach or teacher or pervert priest. The Democratic proposals also orders closer monitoring of convicted sex offenders with such things as tracking by global positioning satellite.

But most often when these crimes happen it is in the family setting and done by someone known to the victim. Prosecutors believe victims in these types of cases will be reluctant to testify or supply evidence if it means a parent or relative will be put away for life. Juries will also be reluctant to convict sex offenders knowing that these new laws will mean life in prison. This is the argument that stronger laws may in effect end in less convictions than under the current laws on the books. Democrats are walking a fine line here in a effort to get it right. They have been listening to victims, prosecutors, the police and victim advocates about what type of laws would work best in the real world situtations, not just what may make a good sound bite on conservative talk radio or a divisive issue in a future election campaign. Several bills have also been proposed by Democrats to deal with the aftermath of these sex crimes on the victims. Such as victim avocation and counseling.

Today Americans are bombarded daily on radio and the cable news channels with one sensational story after another about a sexual predator somewhere wreaking havoc. The media realizes the high emotional appeal this has to Americans and the potential boost to their ratings. The Washington State Republican caucus is simply trying to use this lurid appeal as a political tool to manipulate public opinion in their favor at the polls.

Overall the attempt by the Republican caucus to overly politicize these issue shows a lack of any new ideas of substance by the GOP on the major problems that this state faces. These, like other Republican “wedge” issues, do more to further victimize the victims of sex offenders by overstating the problem and polarizing interest groups. Who want to do the right thing? They have in effect turned the devastated lives of these victims into a political football they hope to kick thru the uprights come election day in November 2006.


Also see prior post on this subject: No strikes your out!

Blogger artistdogboy note: This story reflects artistdogboy's personal opinion and not that necessarily of his brother Representative Al O'Brien (D)

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

A Million Little Pieces of Bullshit













There is nothing more disgusting or lower, in my book, than dreaming up a fake drug addict alcoholic recovery story. Then pandering it into a best selling book while claiming all along it’s a real life rags, crack head criminal to riches, recovered whole human being autobiography. All just so you can make money apparently?

Now this! The publishing world's developing scandal of the year concerning the NYT best selling blockbuster book “A Million Little Pieces” by author James Frey. Seems that The Smoking Gun website while trying to get a mug shot of the author, was having trouble finding much of anything near the criminal record that Mr. Frey claimed for himself in his book. The writer claimed to be a suicidal, super badass, coke snorting, crack head, criminal, prison hard ass in his book, who subsequently goes straight and lives to tell about it. The book is sort of a “bottom this” tale of whoa followed by redemption by the simple realization that he been morally “weak”.

What happens if some addicted or alcoholic person out there has been inspired to try to get sober based on Mr. Frey’s book, and now finds out it's all just bad bullshit fiction? Will they follow through? The TSG revelations, if true, will certainly reinforce the bullshit quotient stereotype with every rehabilitation cynic from here to Timbuktu.

For Christ sake, people are dying out here, and alcoholics and addicts really need to be told the truth if they are to have any chance of recovery, not more self-grandiosity intellectual psychobabble bull crap. Being a liar is one of the things normal people always seem to claim drug addicts and alcoholics are synonymous with being all about. This is true; at least for the un-recovered ones I’ve known. In fact one of the biggest maladies of addiction and alcoholism, and the lowlifes it ensnares, is consistently being able to separate truth from the delusion.

But what’s worse then conning Oprah Winfrey into turning the goddamn book into a best seller by making it one of her book club selection. “Like nothing you've ever read before”, says Oprah. We all know that most of the women that watch Oprah are wound a little too tight anyway and they have limited real life experiences to compare to reality, other then that filtered through the chief “go girl” herself. But if Oprah says your book a dandy then you’re suddenly a best selling author.

Apparently most of the story of the miraculous turnaround is fabricated, according to The Smoking Gun. Who seem to have done their homework here before going forward with the story at their website, since they are under threat of legal action by the author’s attorneys for publishing their revelations about the "real" Mr. Frey.

The worst part maybe that Mr. Frey has been transformed to the level of recovery guru status by the mind boggling success of the book and Oprah's lavish praise. This has lead to calls from substance abusing admirers asking for help. He apparently rejects the concepts of 12-step recovery for a personally developed program he calls “holding on”. TSG adds:

Frey's reported post-Hazelden recovery was unorthodox, hinging on his ability to continually surmount temptation, thanks to a superhuman will that helped him avoid using at the same time he was purposely placing himself in situations where alcohol and drugs were prevalent. For those struggling with substance abuse, Frey is a shiny, relapse-free success story, a man who beat formidable odds with steely resolve.

Well I hope he's holding on to his ass, because someone ought to give it a swift kick. Superhuman will my ass!

If TSG revelations that most of his experiences, claimed in A Million Little Pieces, are patiently false, it should be asked what the hell does Frey really know about recovery, and why would anyone believe anything he says about it or anything else for that matter?

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Coal Mining Remains A Deadly Livelihood

Labor Day Roslyn, Washington 1922
"The labor movement is organized upon a principle that the strong shall help the weak" John L. Lewis

The year after my uncle, Clyde Fischer of Roslyn Washington, was born in 1908 there were 2642 accidental deaths attributed officially to coal mining in the United States. 1909 remains the year for the highest number of deaths recorded since modern official government record keeping started in 1900.

Since that time the death rates have declined steadily, as have the number of miners that make a living removing coal from the earth. In 1900 it was estimated that there were nearly 450,000 miners. Today the numbers are more like 108,000 miners total working to extract coal. There were officially 22 deaths in 2005 and, as we have painfully learned with the latest disaster at the Sago mine accident in West Virginia 12 miners died so far in 2006. Although mine safety has improved markedly over the years, due to pressure by organize labor and others, the latest deaths in West Virginia prove that mine safety is still an issue that needs to be addressed, and working in a coal mine is an extremely dangerous way for one to make a living.

Coal mining has always required a special breed of courageous workers. My uncle, who pasted away in 1977, was a miner who worked for nearly a quarter of a century in the coalfields of Roslyn, Washington for the Northwestern Improvement Company. A subsidiary of the Northern Pacific Railroad that needed the mined coal to feed the railway’s coal driven locomotives of that bygone era.

The mines first opened in Roslyn 1886. Roslyn history is one of mining and a work force made up of many different diversified ethnic groups who came to Roslyn in search of work and fulfillment of their idea of an American dream. The town included Slavic, Italian, Irish, German Russian and other immigrants. Many spoke different languages other then English. There was ethnic and racial strife at times. In 1888 300 black miners arrived who where hired by the mining company to break a strike by white miners. Although this fueled racism and hatred to the boiling point it eventually led to these same black miners assimilated into community as the white miners took a live and let live attitude about the negro as time went by. In 1975 Roslyn appointed the first black city mayor in Washington State, who happened to be a direct descendant of the original black strikebreakers.

When I would travel to Eastern Washington I’d often stop to visit my uncle Clyde and his lovely wife Alice who had lived in the same house in Roslyn for many years. The house was located North of 1st street and Pennsylvania Avenue on the north hill in Roslyn. The houses of that town, which are constructed mostly with cedar and or other wood siding, always looked weathered and somewhat dreary to me against the backdrop of the hills. I thought it fit the hard times depressed feeling that the history of the town always conjured up in me. As you came into town you’d pass by the old NWI company store building where miners used to shop for all their goods, running a tab that would later be repaid by deductions from their pay.

Over shots of bourbon Clyde would spin tales of the ruff and tuff days of mining in that town. I got to know him better late in his life. He had suffered a stroke and was semi-retired at the time. He was living on social security and running a taxi business out of his house. He shuttled people between Roslyn and the small towns of Ronald and CleElum, which are located near by. Money was tight. For a time he had served as the deputy sheriff in Roslyn and even at one time been the local justice of the peace. But his health was failing now. I remember him as a powerful man during most of his life who my grandmother told me could bend a railroad spike in his bare hands when he was young.

When I would stop by his place on my way through town we often would have a drink and he’d share his experiences about Roslyn and his memories of the working life. We would talk of the boomtown atmosphere when Roslyn population was nearer to 4000 in the 1920’s with all the related wild and hard scrabble living that comprised life for most of the town’s inhabitants. I was fascinated with the history of the labor movement and  IWW and the melancholy and romantic struggles of the workers for better working conditions in this very dangerous of occupations that is coal mining.

Clyde Fisher was a member for a time of the IWW or “Wobblies”. He had no love for management or it exploitation of workers ever. Especially when it came to work safety, which he described as sometimes abysmal. Safety issues were more prevalent earlier on in his coal-mining career then at the end though. Later he became a member of the United Mine Workers of America. Because of union solidarity the workers would refuse to work in the unsafe conditions and the company would have to correct the problems before miners would be willing to return to work. Solidarity amongst miners was expected when it came to shutting down a mine that continued to allow dangerous working conditions. He told a story of once physically having to block the way of miners who wanted to return to work in a mine that the union had determined was unsafe and the union was attempting to shut down with a wildcat strike. The UMWA was well known for work stoppages when they deemed it necessary. All negotiating was done from what they perceived as the position of power drawn from their right to withhold their labor at a time of their choosing.

His stories include the tale of the Roslyn mine explosions of May 12th, 1892 when 45 minors were killed outright. The newspaper accounts of the disaster indicate “A sheet of flames shot out of the shaft 150 feet in the air for several minutes. There were two distinct explosions following close after each other like rapid gun firing.” To this day it remains one of the worst coalmine disasters in Washington state history. Another disaster followed this one in October 1909 when another explosion at the number 4 mine in Roslyn killed 11 more miners and injured many others. These men knew each day of work meant risking their life.

In the course of talking with Clyde during one of my visits between 1973 and 1974 I ask him what kind of pension he had to show for his 24 years of working as a miner. Thinking he must of gotten some compensation for the many years of putting his life on the line. He simply stated that he had applied to the United Mine Workers Union and that he received a letter back informing him that he was “not eligible”. I nearly fell off my chair at the time. It was hard for me to believe that someone could work that long under such difficult working conditions and not qualify somehow for a pension or medical benefits. But as I learned more, this is exactly what was happening. By today’s standards I guess it not such a big thing. But in 1974 it was still a unthinkable outcome.

Seems that the leadership of the UMWA and the union’s pension trustees had instituted a rule made up more to disqualified miners then guarantee them a pension. It required that they apply for the pension during a specific “window period” after they retired from working in the mine. The rule was known as the “twenty out of thirty rule”. Because many men in Roslyn had not reach retirement age before the mines closed in 1963, or had started other careers when coal mining there was in obvious decline. Many failed to apply, being simple men, most failed to realize they were required to apply for pensions within a precise time frame. This caused many to find they were not eligible when they finally did apply. It was a callous demonstration by the leaders of the UMWA, especially “Tough” Tony Boyle, the union president at the time, that they were more interested in lining their own pockets then helping miners they had a duty to represent.

Boyle was subsequently convicted, and sent to prison for life, where he died in 1985, for conspiring to murder UMWA union reformer Jock Yablonski and his family after Yablonksi challenged him for the presidency of the union in 1969. Boyle ended up wining the election, but Yablonski then asked the federal courts to review the election for fraud. He was murder shortly after that. Yablonski a long time union reformer at odds with Boyle was also making substantial headway into uncovering widespread union corruption at that time. The corruption eventually turned out to include large misappropriations of union pension funds for the personal use by Boyle and his cronies.

When my uncle told me about the denial of his mineworker pension in 1974 I was infuriated. I commenced to write letters, directly to the union demanding a full explanation, and to just about every politician whom I felt may help correct this injustice. In the course of this I also contacted Chip Yablonski, the son of the slain union reformer in an off chance he may be of help. An activist lawyer for the United Farm Workers Union had recommended I contact Yablonski when I ask him for advise on how I should proceed. Chip Yablonski was a young lawyer at the time in Washington. D.C. As you would imagine he was deeply involved in continuing the work started by his murdered father to reform the UMWA. He needed little motivation, having lost his father, mother and a sister at the hands of Boyle’s hired killers.

Yablonski told me to send him everything I could about my uncle’s work situation. He indicated that my uncle's pension problem was not a isolated case. I had, by this time, accumulated a large file of letters and documents on my uncle’s work history and his efforts to become eligible for a union pension and medical benefits. Yablonski indicated that he intended to file a class action suit on the issue in Federal Court and that my uncle’s claims would become part of the action with those of other miners.

A year or more passed. During this time my uncle came to Seattle to sign up for Black Lung benefits which he also was eligible to receive. Seems that a letter I had written to Senator Magnusson had prompted the Social Security Administration to call my uncle directly to arrange a special appointment to determine his eligibility for black lung benefits. All these actions fighting for my uncle’s rights helped boost his spirits and his dignity and the feeling that a plain old workingman could stand up and fight for what had been unjustly denied him.

I was an organizer for the Office and Professional Employees International Union at the time all this was happening. One day I was sitting in my office in the Labor Temple in downtown Seattle when the phone rang. It was Clyde Fischer, who was shouting that he had heard from the union that he had been awarded his pension. He wanted me to drive to Roslyn that day to celebrate. Seems that the court had decided that the rule that denied him his pension was unreasonable. The action meant that approximately 20,000 miners would begin to receive their pensions and medical benefits previously denied them. This translated to an agreed on $2000 settlement for each miner for retro pension owed, and a $200 per month payment for life plus medical coverage. I, along with my Uncle and Annt Alice, were elated.

I drove over the pass that day and when I reached Roslyn we celebrated our victory by drinking whiskey and shooting off a few rounds into the summer night air from pistols we’d pulled from one of the kitchen cabinet draws, which happened to all contain some type of firearm. It seemed at that time like a victory for Clyde, the iconiclastic workingman and miner, and remains one of my fondest memories of a justice realized.