MNAC Paddy Whack Give the Dog a Bone
Mon, Sep 12, 2016, 1:57 am // Dick ConoboyNeighborhood organizations are a foundational piece of Bellingham’s community activism dating back to the late 1970s. Today, these groups are “ground zero” for improving our community’s collective quality…
Sat, Sep 24, 2016, 9:44 am // John Servais
The shootings last night at the Cascade Mall in Burlington have resulted in 5 persons dead, 4 of them women. The shooter is, as of mid morning this Saturday, still on the loose and still unidentified - at least publically. A very good surveliance camera photos of him do exist and we post them here. It is very reasonable to consider he may be hiding in Whatcom County as we are only 12 miles from the Cascade Mall. And Bellingham is just 20 miles up I-5.
It was smart of the police to release the photo so quickly. We of the public can and want to assist in having this guy found and arrested. A simply 911 phone call and the authorities will be quiclkly checking out leads. One assumes.
The two online news outfits to be giving the best coverage this morning are the Skagit Valley Herald with their GoSkagit website. They are located in Mount Vernon, across the river from Burlington, and do a great job covering all Skagit Valley news year round. The Seattle Times has shown great reporting even from last evening. The Times is still a real newspaper, reporting local news throughout Puget Sound, including Bellingham.
On Twitter, there are several tweets for the tag #CascadeMallShooting with the Skagit Count Department of Emergency Management - @SkagitDEM - being the account I'm following.
Fri, Sep 23, 2016, 5:00 am // Ralph Schwartz
As of 5 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 22, two black people have died in the past week at the hands of police: Keith Lamont Scott, 43, in Charlotte, North Carolina; and Terence Crutcher, 40,in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Crutcher was unarmed, and the officer who shot him was charged on Thursday with manslaughter. Police in Charlotte claim Scott's killing was justified. No action will be taken against the officer who killed Scott, a father of seven.
Family men minding their own business, going about their daily routines, not looking for trouble. But trouble found them in the form of men and women in blue who are supposed to serve and protect. This story is getting old. The question becomes, what to do about it?
As a white man who enjoys a position of privilege in this country, and who doesn't get nervous whenever he sees a police officer, the question is more urgent for me than it might first appear. The problem of cops shooting black people is a white problem, after all.
Pop culture blogger and author Luvvie Ajayi had this to say:
"White people, I’m talking to you. THIS. IS. YOUR. PROBLEM. TO. FIX. Y’all got some work to do, because this system that y’all keep on privileging from, you’ve got to help us dismantle it. Because those of us who are Black and Brown. We have tried. You created this robot, and it is yours to deactivate. My skinfolk don’t have the passcode. This is your monster to slay."
The answer to the white person question, "What do I do?" isn't always clear. Luvvie again: "I don’t know exactly how but shit. Create an app or something."
Derrick Weston, a progressive Presbyterian minister, wrote "The Five Things I Need From White People Right Now" in response to the Terence Crutcher shooting. There are some good ideas in there.
For me, it starts with a protest at the federal building in Bellingham at 6 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 23. Advice to whites from Luvvie: "Use your bodies in this fight. Take to these streets and march and protest, showing that you are not okay with what is happening. Be on the frontlines, showing that you have a vested interest in the well-being of Black and brown people."
See you on the streets.
Thu, Sep 22, 2016, 4:00 am // Tip Johnson
Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has held many university appointments.
In 2013, Roberts published an anonymous, critical analysis of Obamacare titled, “Obamacare: A Deception” which details how “Obamacare works for the insurance companies but not for you” and why “The legislation neither protects the patient nor are the plans affordable”. The same author in a 2014 sent Roberts a followup, “Obamacare: The Final Payment: Raiding the assets of low-income and poor Americans”, which explains how aspects of the law mean the “poorest Americans will pay the highest cost of health care as they, and they alone, are subject to having the family home and any other assets…confiscated by the state in order to reimburse Obamacare for the cost of their medical expenses.”
Now, even doctors are frustrated with it. In 2012, 54 percent of physicians supported the health reform law, 29.3 percent didn't, and only 16 percent said they were strongly opposed to it. In 2016, 47 percent consider the ACA “a great disservice to Americans”. Forty-five percent take the middle ground and only 7.5 percent think “it has been great”." Nearly half (45 percent) think the ACA should be repealed and/or replaced.
In some exchanges, only one provider is available, making health care giants start looking like cable companies to their captive customers. Maybe we will eventually come to our senses and do what the rest of the developed world did long ago - Universal Health Care.
Wed, Sep 21, 2016, 4:54 am // Dick Conoboy
Two years ago I wrote an article for NWCitizen entitled "Panem et Circenses - Why I Did Not Watch The Super Bowl" For much the same reason, I will not watch the "presidential debates", which are neither debates nor presidential but very much a circus. Run by a faux, non-partisan (as long as you are either a Democrat or a Republican) organization called the Commission on Presidential Debates, that makes risible claims to be educating the public, the spectacle does little more than bring money to their coffers and to those of broadcasters while offering talking dogs for your entertainment. No matter what question is asked, the candidate will respond (woof. arf!) with some canned, pre-approved and non-sensical statement from which nothing can be learned except that the candidate has given up any shred of being a person who has any sense at all of what is happening in the world. Worse yet, they are asking you, the viewer, to join with them in the phantasm.
In a recent article posted on Truthdiig.com Bill Moyers and Michael Winship called for cancelling the debates saying, "if the present format and moderators remain as they are, threaten an effect on democracy more like Leopold and Loeb than Lincoln and Douglas." Surely the year's understatement.
They go on to tell us, "In 1988, the League [of Women Voters] pulled out of the Bush-Dukakis debates, declaring in a press release, “It has become clear to us that the candidates’ organizations aim to add debates to their list of campaign-trail charades devoid of substance, spontaneity and answers to tough questions. The League has no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public.” It has been all down hill since the "Commission" has filled the vacuum with the vacuous, an achievement not unlike the discovery of the Higgs boson.
Moyers and Winship remind us that, "...Woody Allen said back in one of his earlier, funnier films — that the whole thing is a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham. And why are we so complacent about the hijacking of our political process — that it has descended to this level where the two parties and the media giants pick as the only surrogates of the American people the minions of an oligarchic media riddled with cronyism and conflicts of interest?"
Read the entire Moyers Winship piece "There’s No Debate" here and do something pleasant on debate night like taking a walk with a friend or a lover.
Tue, Sep 20, 2016, 1:37 am // David Camp
Despite the thirty-year official policy of hippy-bashing, started under Reagan, and continued earnestly by Clinton with the ramp up of the "War on (some out of patent) Drugs" and the Incarceration-industrial Complex, the hippies have been proven right time and again. Yes the war machine is corrupting and evil; yes the waste and degradation of our industrial society is disrespectful and destructive of our living planet; yes our healthcare and food systems are corrupted and sickened by profiteering corporatists for whom misleading their customers is a fundamental part of the business model. Consider the moral degeneracy of the management of Mylan Pharma - which hiked the price of its epiPen product over 400% in seven years. Notably, the CEO of Mylan, the daughter of Democrat Senator Manchin, was rewarded for her profiteering on the backs of people who could die from anaphylactic shock from a bee sting with a $14 million+ pay package.
Such epic greed and corruption and moral degeneracy - surely the mark of the beast is upon these creatures.
It's hard to know what to do when the very fabric of society, its underpinnings, are fundamentally and systematically wrong. The Leary creed- "Turn on, tune in, drop out" - is impractical except for the truly brave and strong and pig-headed. We live in a complex money society where we control virtually none of the inputs into our lives. Sure we have choice - between Shell or Exxon gas; between Tide and All; and so on. But try surviving without money. Even the homeless find this impossible. So in order to balance survival and the need to be moral actors in the world we must be selective in what aspects of the corporatist world we turn our backs on.
Fortunately, much of the stuff we are sold by the corporatist misleaders is unecessary or downright destructive. But everyone has to eat, and everyone gets sick and needs medicine from time to time. Plant medicines were the original medicines - why buy the overpriced pharmaceuticals when your garden can be a pharmacoepia? Our ancient and aboriginal peoples had deep wisdom of plant medicine and nutrition ( I include all humans - everyone is aboriginal somewhere!). And that is why the picture accompanying this post is the common weed plantain - which is a nutritious edible that also has healing properties.
Plantain, when chewed up and applied as a poultice, reduces inflammation and allergic reaction to insect bites - and makes the corporatist profiteers' epipen unnecesessary except in the most extreme cases. (Consult your medical professional).
As the excesses of our technological world create unexpected chaotic results, we must turn to the living world to restore balance, and live in respect and harmony with the living planet. Consider that less than 90 years after its discovery by Scotsman Alexander Fleming, penicillin is no longer effective against many infections - and subsequent antibiotics are also increasingly ineffective. Mother Nature bats last. But she also holds the keys - if we can overcome our ignorance and arrogance and learn from her.
Sat, Sep 17, 2016, 3:27 am // John Servais
Test your political trivia, have a delicious drink and join in the fun for the first Political Trivia Night by Northwest Citizen. That's right, we're putting on an event and it is going to be exciting!
Come to Political Trivia 7pm on Wed, Oct. 12th, at the Brandywine Kitchen , 1317 Commercial St., in downtown Bellingham.
I will be hosting a night of pub trivia ($5 per person, cash prizes) with the help of former Political Junkie Riley Sweeney.
The proceeds are going to Northwest Citizen for some serious tech upgrades. After many years of patching the code that runs this site, we are taking it to the next level with a complete overhaul. We've got a very talented programmer helping us along and the funds raised by this trivia night will help cover those costs.
So come on down, laugh at Riley's jokes, and enjoy the company of other political junkies. We would love to see you there.
Fri, Sep 16, 2016, 10:06 am // Ralph Schwartz
The National Football League has an image problem: drugs, violence against women, and an epidemic of permanent brain damage among its players leap to mind. Just when it looked like the league might start to become relevant, with San Francisco 49er backup quarterack Colin Kaepernick protesting racial injustice by kneeling during the National Anthem in a preseason game, the Seahawks bungled it all up with a vapid, arm-linking show of unity before the Sunday, Sept. 11 game against the Miami Dolphins. (Their play on the field seemed similarly uninspired, although the Seahawks did win that game.)
Media observers were not impressed. Jezebel, The Nation and The Root all posted columns critical if not condemning of the Seahawks' action. Meanwhile, Kaepernick's refusal to stand during one of America's holiest-of-holies, the Star-Spangled Banner, was truly brave because the NFL is a form of entertainment provided primarily by black men (about 67 percent of the league's players are black) for a primarily white male audience. The idea that black entertainers should do just that -- entertain, and otherwise keep their mouths shut -- is as old as the slave trade.
What the Seahawks did after Sunday's game should please a white-supremacist audience. Russell Wilson's quote in the team's own article, posted to its website, captures the vanilla flavor of the Seahawks' effort going forward: “If we can change the heart of one person, and let that person change somebody else’s heart and soul and viewpoint, and understand to respect, and learn more about other people and build that bridge like we talked about, that’s what it takes to help the world."
Jason Johnson of The Root was particularly harsh in his assessment of all this: "While Kaepernick’s activism has inspired some to take a stand, it has inspired the Seattle Seahawks team to take a fence. Unable to take the bold step to protest collectively or the equally acceptable step of not protesting at all, they have chosen the mushy middle: #AllLivesMatter pabulum for those too cowardly to take a real stand but still wanting to be a part of the conversation."
Thu, Sep 15, 2016, 5:05 am // Tip Johnson
Last night’s well-attended town meeting on our housing shortage was a great success, but also just a beginning. These forums now need to roll out through the remaining neighborhoods. Folks had a lot of perspective, but with practice, and research, the conversation should become far more sophisticated.
Although there was evidence of disagreement on strategies for increasing and diversifying the housing stock, attendants were thoroughly civil and appreciative. There were themes that repeated.
Folks feel besieged by infill. There are complaints of bulk and scale, of light pollution and a lack of privacy. Some folks hinged around protecting single family neighborhoods, while others pointed out that some Bellingham neighborhoods are not very diverse and we need to examine how codes contribute to racial segregation. Many pointed to a lack of enforcement emphasis on nuisances in neighborhoods, like parking and garbage problems. People want neighborhood integrity.
A recurrent theme was that neighborhoods are consistently low on the City’s priority. People get involved in their neighborhoods. Neighborhoods get involved in City planning. But they squeak, squeak and squeak without ever getting grease. All the grease is going to development. That’s strange because neighborhoods are already mostly developed. A representative from the Building Industry Association quoted the City’s own staff as saying the available land inventory was mostly available because it is marginally developable. Neighborhoods never benefit from policies that encourage transitional land use.
The smartest thing I heard all night was a comment that our property tax policies need to change, paying more attention to land use and less to improvements. Current assessment methods punish homeowners for improving their property while rewarding landlords who let their properties run down.
But the overarching conclusion is that neighborhoods feel lacking in self-determination, that they need a stronger seat at the planning table. It’s ironic because the first Bellingham Comprehensive Plan intended to give neighborhoods the power to set the course for their own destiny, to secure the assurance that it was worth investing in putting down roots and building community.
That concept has been systematically dismantled, curiously under the aegis of growth management, over the course of several administrations. The York neighborhood is to be commended for taking the lead and showing the way. Neighborhoods must rise to their own defense. As Anne Mackie, one of the meetings organizers, said in a letter to the editor in this weeks Cascade Weekly, “Long live the insurrection!”
Wed, Sep 14, 2016, 2:58 am // Dick Conoboy
My apologies. This is the wrong photo. This one is from the election circus in the year 2024 when all will be better with a new, improved Clinton-Trump dynamic duo.
In a more serious vein, yesterday over at Thruthdig, Chris Hedges wrote: "The multibillion-dollar extravaganza of our electoral Circus Maximus is part of the smokescreen that covers the ongoing devastation of globalization, deindustrialization, trade deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, endless war, climate change and the intrusion into every corner of our lives by the security and surveillance state. Our democracy is dead. Clinton and Donald Trump do not have the power or the interest to revive it. They kneel before the war machine, which consumes trillions of dollars to wage futile wars and bankroll a bloated military. To defy the fortress state is political suicide. Politicians are courtiers to Wall Street. The candidates mouth the clichés of justice, improvements in income equality and democratic choice, but it is a cynical game. Once it is over, the victors will go to Washington to work with the lobbyists and financial elites to carry out the real business of ruling."
Does anyone really think that either of these two can roll back the insanity? They are the insanity. Let us take a case in point and ask if Mommy Warbucks or The Donald are even dimly aware and if they are, why are they not speaking about it?. Juan Cole wrote separately at Truthdig: "A Boston U. political scientist estimates that as of 2016, The Iraq and Afghanistan Wars have cost the American taxpayers $5 trillion. That number isn’t important when we consider the human cost: Some 7,000 US troops dead, 52,000 wounded in action; hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead who wouldn’t otherwise be, 4 million displaced and made homeless, etc." So which one speaks to the consequences of this madness? Nobody. But the babble is about medical records, states of health, the polls, looking presidential, debate schedules (gotta avoid those football dates!) and who loves/hates Putin the most. But the toll mounts in terms of the drag of a half a trillion dollars in interest on this debt and the trillion or more that it will take to care for our veterans until they have the good grace to die or commit suicide and cease costing us so damn much money.
Yet you hear little to nothing of this from the media, even the risibly called "progressive" outlets. It will be fast burn with Trump or slow burn with Clinton but there will be the burn. Hedges goes on: "History has amply demonstrated where this will end up. The continued exploitation by an unchecked elite, and the rising levels of poverty and insecurity, will unleash a legitimate rage among the desperate. They will see through the lies and propaganda of the elites. They will demand retribution. They will turn to those who express the hatred they feel for the powerful and the institutions, now shams, that were designed to give them a voice. They will seek not reform but destruction of a system that has betrayed them."
And then the fun begins.
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