28 September 2008

New York Times Article Link: "Sarah Palin and the Rape Kits"

The following's a link to a New York Times Editorial Observer article by Dorothy Samuels, published on 25th September, 2008, which alleges that Sarah Palin, while serving as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, along with the town's police chief, Charlie Fannon, signed off of a policy in which rape victims were billed by the town's hospital for the cost of the rape kits used in investigating their cases.

While Palin apparently said nothing about this policy, Fannon, in an interview with Wasilla's local newspaper, "complained that the state was requiring the town to spend $5,000 to $14,000 a year to cover the costs. "I just don't want to see any more burden put on the taxpayer," the chief explained."

When the Alaska State Legislature heard about Wasilla's policy on billing victims for the rape kits, it passed a bill in 2000 killing that policy.

When I first read the article, I was incensed, and, in fact, have only gotten angrier still.

Whatever the reasons behind it, and, according to Ms. Samuels' article, there's speculation in the blogosphere that the billing policy is rooted in Ms. Palin's pro-life orientation, I won't speculate on what they might have been.

But, I would say that, generally speaking, this measure reflects the sort of penny-wise, pound-foolish attitude that are found in not only the town of Wasilla, or the state of Alaska, but, more broadly speaking, in much of the American West, including my home town and state of Nevada, the United States, and indeed, the English-speaking world.

Historically, there has been a general attitude in the English-speaking world that, unless a given problem is either hitting the rich and influential classes hard, or is so enormous that it absolutely has to be dealt with, of "We shall muddle through".

Combine that with the inevitable whining, and there's a lot of it, anytime any government programme, especially those intended for the poor and working classes and other marginalised groups, comes up, "But, it'll cost moooonnnneeeeyyyy!!!!", and I think one can see the pattern here.

The pattern can be summed up thusly, "Me first, and don't you DARE make me pay one cent of taxes for it!!!"

These attitudes, spawned by the kinds of social and economic attitudes that come out of both capitalism and of being a conquest society, and folks, outside of Merrie Olde England itself, the rest of the English-speaking world is made up of conquest societies, in which the countries' original inhabitants were conquered, subjugated or eliminated, and workers brought in by either fair means or foul, to provide the labour needed to build those polities as cheaply as possible, make for a kind of disgustingly arrogant, entitled mentality which, at its core, wants government services and money as much as the next person, but doesn't want to pay for any of it, whatsoever.

These attitudes, while found perhaps everywhere in the English-speaking world, are found most starkly in the US, though Australians are no slouches when it comes to this sort of arrogance either, and especially in the American South and West, including Alaska, where they are on greater and more open display than in either the North or Midwest.

Doesn't mean, BTW, that one can't find those attitudes in the latter regions of the US. It's just that in those societies, being more economically diversified and better developed in their social infrastructures, the competition for resources aren't quite as stark, and the attitudes that come with it not quite as dramatically displayed much of the time.

The economies of the Southern and Western portions of the US have traditionally been, although there has been a greater amount of industrial diversification in those regions in recent decades, traditionally based on either agriculture, including ranching, extractive industries, like mining or oil, or hospitality-based industries, like casino gambling.

These industries, and those at the top and upper middle levels of them, have generally prospered, and, in so doing, have amassed enough resources and power to obtain the kind of political and social positions that they'd not have had in more economically diverse parts of the world.

This means they have what is essentially a monopoly on political and social power in the regions they control, and everyone else can say what they like about it, but they're the ones in charge, and in many ways, overtly and subtly, most people in these regions go along with it, either out of hope of getting in on some of the action, fear of losing what they have, despair of ever changing the situation, or simply knowing only this situation and none other.

In turn, this means that local political, social and economic elites, especially in small towns like Wasilla, have both greater power and influence than they would otherwise have, but, at the same time, they still have to bow, scrape and truckle before the local, and, considering that many of these industries have been and are owned by individuals and companies from other parts of the world, outsider Lords Of Creation.

Not a happy situation to be in, sure. But, it's a lot happier than being on the very bottom, or close to, of these societies.

In the end, this means that such societies, and the individuals within them, are going to reflect those circumstances in their own ways, and, most of the time, the ideas, policies and actions made by most people in them are going to be to get as much as one can and to keep as much as one can, at everyone else's expense.

It is, in my opinion, this set of circumstances that ultimately lie behind policy decisions and implementations like Wasilla's charging rape victims for the cost of rape kits used in their cases, and it is frankly disgusting.

'Nuff said. The link's below. Please read and decide for yourselves, and be seeing you.


26 September 2008

First Obama-McCain Debate Reactions

Got through watching the first Presidential debates a little while ago.

Before I go any further here, three advisory points need to be stated: 1, am an Obama supporter, 2, missed the debate's first ten minutes, and 3, there were times during the debate that I got so excited/angry, what have you, that I missed small parts of the debate.

That said, and as much as I hate to say it, Folks, McCain in some areas came off the better in areas like tax policies, and in some of his points on various budgetary and militarily-related policies.

Obama really needed to bring up more specifics, not only in those areas, but overall, and, though he eventually began hitting back harder at McCain as the debate went on, at least at first, I thought he was still too much in the grips of the sort of Senate collegiality in his initial dealings with McCain.

McCain, on the other hand, had far less compunction about bringing up his opponent's lack of experience, judgement, not having been to Iraq for 900 days or so, and not at all to Afghanistan, and constantly repeated the phrase, "What Senator Obama doesn't understand," so much so in the latter case, that, even if I didn't like McCain or the Republican Party in general, I would have disliked him for being a smug, arrogant jerk, and I think that's what, in many instances, he came off as being.

McCain oft trumpeted his years of experience in the Senate, and, twice close to the debate's end(it may have been more than that), his experiences as a POW and Viet-Nam War veteran, and how they helped him shape policies towards veterans of that war and establishing diplomatic relations with Viet-Nam.

Both men, and Senator Obama himself admitted this, came off sounding very distressingly alike to me on issues like the recent Russian-Georgian conflict, and the need for nuclear power and "clean" coal as components in achieving energy independence.

Both favoured support for Mikhail Saakishivili's government and its actions towards South Ossetia, and for possible eventual Georgian and Ukrainian membership in NATO, while omitting the fact that it was a Georgian military offensive against South Ossetia that started the conflict, though McCain, in his mentioned praise of Saakishivili stated, though not explicitly, the sort of connections and support the Senator has for the man and his policies.

Obama, in an attempt to play a sort of catch-up with McCain on this issue, mentioned that he'd warned the Administration in April that there were Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia, which, from what background info have acquired about the issue over the past four years, comes off as really being rather dumb, because there have been Russian, Georgian(until recently)and either South Ossetian or Abkhazian peacekeepers in those respective regions since at least the last bouts of serious fighting between the South Ossetians, Abkhazians and Georgians 4 years ago.

I can imagine whatever Secretary or Under-Secretary he approached at the State Department about this revelation raising an eye-brow, saying, "Really???!!! Well, we'll look into the matter," and then, after Senator Obama left, saying to him- or herself, "Stupid fuck."

Sorry if this is harsh, but that revelation on Obama's part didn't impress me in the slightest.

On the other hand, ultimately, McCain struck me as an experienced, yes, but also all too arrogant, man, who, in some areas, is still stuck in the ideologies and practises of the mid-20th Century, while Obama struck me as being a capable enough fellow in many areas, but one who really needs to forget the senatorial collegiality and hit McCain back, and hit him back hard and fast, with specific inconsistencies, gaffes and errors in McCain's record over the the past 26 years, though he did score somewhat in bringing up McCain's rendition of "Bomb Iran" at a political gathering fairly recently, I believe.

Obama, for all the charges his many detractors, including McCain in talking about Obama's Senate voting record, of him being some sort of liberal, radical wing-nut, came off as what I believe he essentially is, a mainly moderate to liberal, but mainly moderate, Democrat, whereas McCain came across as the sort of tough-talking, take-no-prisoners sort of Republican candidate that there's been so much of in this country since the 1950's at least.

To be honest, I was a John Edwards voter at my local Democratic Party primary caucus back in January of this year, and I tend, though my politics can be all over the place at times, depending on the issue and my given state of mind at any one time, and so, I tend to sit farther to the left than Senator Obama is and would be on many issues.

Also, being on Social Security Disability, Supplemental Security Income and Medicare, as well as, through the State of Nevada, Food Stamps and Medicaid, I worry about the sorts of policies, especially in light of the proposed financial bailout currently under discussion in Washington, and actions that will happen, especially under a McCain Administration, which, while it might not be identical in every respect to the current Administration's policies, or those of the Reagan and first Bush Admininistrations' with their stated animosity towards Social Security and other social programmes, might result in severe cut-backs or even elimination of, in one way or another, those programmes.

So, yes, I support Obama because, one, unlike Hilary Clinton, he has been a staunch critic of the Iraq War and its conduct, which I think he well maintained in the debate to-night, and two, because, while I would like to get off of Social Security if I can, I do not want to trade one form of poverty for another, much more insecure form of it, and that is what I fear might happen if McCain gets into the White House.

Sorry to get off the subject here, Folks, but I felt I had to say the above, so you know from where I stand.

Anyhow, that's it for me, for now, as ill-reasoned as it might be.

Will let you know more as I further reflect on this, and the other debates to come.

In the meantime, thanks for your kind attention and be seeing you.

25 September 2008

Las Vegas Nevada Area Anti-Bailout Protests

Thanks to notices that have received from Democrats. com and TrueMajority.org, have the address and time of one Las Vegas, Nevada-area anti-bailout demo, and said info can be seen immediately below. The spelling in the text below is reproduced from the original post on those sites.

Protest the tax money giveaway to Wall Street
September 25, 2008
5:00 PM - 6:30 PM

Stand with your neighbors and say NO Bush Bailout!


For those of you viewing this from other parts of the Las Vegas Valley or from outside the Las Vegas Metropolitan Area, please go to either the appropriate page at Democrats.org, or to the following page at TrueMajority.org(they're the same, really)-http://truemajority.wiredforchange.com/o/8/t/107/event/search.jsp?distributed_event_KEY=5, and enter in your zip code to find out the address and time of the nearest anti-bailout demo near you.

Am going to check a Code Pink notice that received last night, and find out if that group has any similar events planned for to-day. When I find out, will post here.

If you can't make any of the demos, please re-post this info on your blogs, pass them along in e-mails to friends, etc.

Thanks for your attention, and be seeing you.

24 September 2008

A Bulletin, A Video and A Link From A MySpace Friend Of Mine

From my MySpace friend Rule 22 come this video from Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" and a link to his own site.

Please check out both, but especially check out Jon Stewart's hilarious takes on the Treasury Secretary's bailout plan, and Da Prez's analysis of the current economic situation.

Stewart and his writing staff have got both dead to rights, which, given the grimness of the current economic crisis, is actually quite sad.

Be seeing you.

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: Rule 22
Date: Sep 24, 2008 5:43 PM

Jon Stewart fuckin rules


So I did some math and...
The $700,000,000,000 slated for the bailout works out to about
$2,325 per person or
$5,340 per tax payer

Invest in Rule 22 merchandise. Once the economy crashes Rule 22 shirts will be the new currency. Please pay in euros haha.

Two Presidential Debate Petition Site Addresses

Just a quick shot here. For those of you out there who think the scheduled Presidential debate should continue on Friday, please head over to Demand The Debate.com and http://act.credoaction.com/campaign/economic_debate/?r_by=944-102472-gyWDVfx&rc=confemail, and sign the petitions urging Sens. Obama and McCain to do just that.

Yes, the economic situation is very bad.

But, at the same time, it's damned important that the American people hear from these candidates precisely what they intend to do about it, as well as what their respective administrations' economic policies would be, should either man get into the White House.

Finally, please feel free to pass these address along by any possible means.

Thanks for the time and trouble you taken to read this, and be seeing you again quite soon.