Thursday, December 28, 2000

Mayor's Job Is Just Politics

I'll bet you all think I'm going to crab about the election. I know what people expect of me, I get fan mail. That's right, people write to me and say things like, "Dear Dr. Wes, All you ever do is complain, you carping bilious nattering freak… " Everyone thinks I'm a big whiner. Well I'm not going to do it this time.

Instead let me share a letter from a satisfied reader:

Dear Dr. Wess,

I here u have rit thet I am ilitable illitu that I'm not gud with wurds. Aktuelly I didn’t here it my bruther red it and he told me. He sez u also sed I am not as compassionate (didn't no I cud spel lik that did u?) as I hev sed I am. I wil show u how gud I am with wurds. I even rote this pome witch u can stik in your crabby colum.

So u think I'm not compassionate?

When I ain't dun nuthin yet?

Well I'll have u no

u libral so-an-so

yore sociopolitical (I can soo spel, see) band-ade-applyin

muny-flingin and freedum steelin and while I'm at it

deth row-inmate-sparin

Anti-ballistic-missile-not-buildin (hah!), baby-killing, and

2nd-Amendment-Rights-takin-awayin (take thet!)


is all wet.

-- Anon Anun I'm not telling u my name

I really appreciate input like that, Mr. Name, and be sure to keep your brother reading!

While we're talking carp, our glorious Mayor Schell is beginning to look more like a candidate for Bush's cabinet. What else could explain this recent exchange with a Beacon Hill resident (quoting from Schell's monthly talk show on KUOW.)

["Chris"]: "We have a very small business district that's being badly affected. What are you going to do about Tent City and when?"

[Mayor]: "I absolutely agree with you. I don't think living outdoors in a tent is acceptable conduct. And I do think it is by and large a political statement."

OK, Mr. Schell, the honeymoon's over. I've been nice to you so far. I didn't say hardly a word about you the whole first year you were elected except to wish you a happy birthday and offer to help you with your arithmetic.

Did I complain much about you last year? Yes, but who didn't? You had your WTO, what did you expect. But I wasn't the one who said you looked like Uncle Fester from the Addam's Family. I could have, but I restrained myself, because I was being a nice guy.

No more. You've made me mad now.

SO. Our Mayor thinks living outdoors is "unacceptable conduct." What a coincidence. To most of the people living at Tent Village on Beacon Hill having to live outdoors would always be "unacceptable," particularly in winter. But since they don't have the kind of power our Mayor has, they accept it anyway, as the alternative, more shelter beds, isn't happening.

So far, reading Mayor Schell's comment all we have is the usual failure to grasp the fundamental facts of homelessness which we here at Real Change have come to expect from a Mayor who thinks the homeless should just retire to their villas in France and leave him alone.

That's not what has us fuming. What has us fuming is Paul Schell's little deprecation of political statements of the homeless.

Are the homeless of this city not entitled to make political statements? "Chris", Beacon Hill resident, can call into KUOW every month to complain about Tent Village, but when the homeless complain about a lack of any alternative it's just politics?

Last month I was invited to speak at a Shoreline Community College philosophy class. They wanted to hear about the politics of homelessness, in that ethics is an important branch of philosophy, and politics is the sub-branch of ethics that concerns life and power in the cities.

Maybe Paul Schell could benefit from a course in ethics. He might learn to give proper respect to political statements, which are after all only statements about what is right.

Meanwhile, since when is sheer survival a statement of any kind?

Friday, December 1, 2000

Your Random Election

If I'd known we could elect the dead, I would have voted for Lincoln.

Some of you may recall my very generous offer to sell my vote to the highest bidder over five dollars. At least one of you took note of that offer. In fact Pooky Glax, probably alien quantum life form, who may or may not have run for US President this year, gave me ten dollars sealed in a box with some guy's cat to vote for him. For Pooky that is, not the cat. I'm betting the cat will die.

So I voted for a quantum life form. Since that was the only bid I received, thank you all very much, I voted for Glax for President. But I hardly expected him/her/it/whut to win. He/she/it/whut didn't exactly campaign.

So imagine my surprise when I woke up November 8 and learned that there was no certain winner of the Presidency! It turns out that Gore and Bush must be two of Pooky's quantum states! Uncertainty Rules!

But enough about what I don't know. What I want to discuss today is something I know a lot about, namely stupidity. In fact I consider myself quite the expert on the subject.

Don't get me wrong. I can be as smart as the next guy, when it's my turn and the wind is at my back. But when I want to be stupid I can out stupid most anybody. Cause, let's face it, most people don't even try to be stupid. How can they expect to excel at it? Truth is, most people don't even know the different kinds of stupidity. They get them all mixed up.

Like when George Bush signed that law allowing hand recounts in Texas, then sued against it in Florida. That's stupid, but is it world-class stupidity? I say no. I say I can top that with both hands tied behind my back standing knee-deep in setting cement. I spit on George Bush's stupidity!

The really stupid thing to do, George, that would prove to everyone that you were city council material and that you might have a promising career in politics or at least as a grad student in poly sci, would be to call for a study. Instead of just being a governor in the one state that doesn't really permit them.

The Ballad of the Palm Beach Election Board

or, Opus 2000, If John Henry Could See This, It'd Kill Him Dead

by © Dr. Wes Browning

Palm Beach had itself an election board,

They worked from six 'til five,

"Raise up them ballots and put 'em down,

We'll count 'em to the Lord's Day or die."

The board said to the Secret'ry,

"You're nothing but a RepubliCAN,

That butterfly ballot won't beat us down,

Or we'll die with cards in our hands."

The Secret'ry faxed out to the board:

"I hear a pewter a-humming, lads."

The board faxed just this to her: "Oh Lord!"

"That's our volunteers you hear a-counting chad(s)."

The board was a-counting on the left side,

The machine was a-counting on the right.

No I lie, the machine, it was a-finished

Four days before Saturday night.

The board's now a-lying on its death bed

Not any of its recount alive

And these were the last words the board done said:

"Bring me a contest, before I die."

The board had a little capital,

Her name was TallahasSEE

They faxed and briefed her court all day,

Saying, "Tally, let our counting be complete."

Tallahassee, she would not see them,

Their heart was broken through,

And while the Secret'ry's master had filed a suit,

They died with cards in their hands, it's true.

Apologies to W. T. Blankenship, wherever he is. Come to think of it, apologies to everyone.