Thursday, January 22, 2009

F-U to G-A-U

Picture courtesy of Seattle Weekly blog.

I'm dating myself here but there was a joke in the `60's and `70's about the guy who said, ``my friends told me if I voted for Barry Goldwater the Viet Nam War would last another eight years. Sure enough, I voted for Goldwater and the war lasted another eight years.'' The modern joke, at least in Washington state, is about the guy who said, ``my friends told me if I voted for Dino Rossi, GAU would be cut. Sure enough, I voted for Rossi and they're cutting GAU.''
Christine Gregoire, she's the women who looks like she had too much Mexican food in the picture above, handily defeated Rossi for governor in November and in her new budget the kinder, gentler Gregoire announced she was cutting the state's General Assistance program.
GAU's a program for people who can't work because of health problems and they receive a grand total of $339 a month. It costs Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels more to sweep a homeless encampment on Beacon Hill. Someone told me that GAU was $333 a month 12 years ago. That means it's been raised a grand total of $6 in 12 years. People on Social Security got a $40 cost of living raise last month.
A few years ago I went with Real Change vendors and volunteers to the state capitol on Martin Luther King day. I was able to get an interview with Speaker of the House Frank Chopp, who was a bit of a hippie in his younger days. I set Frank off, which isn't the hardest thing to do, when I asked him about the state cutting GAU. Chopp said that was Dino Rossi and the Republicans deal. And they'd have to cut it over his fallen carcas.
I returned to the state capitol on Monday for another MLK Day and another opportunity for a lot of poor folks to meet with their legislators. A pleasant woman in Rep. Zach Hudgkins office told us that a lot of Senators and Representatives were unhappy with the Guv's budget proposal.
Of course, Gregoire may be playing some politics here. By putting GAU on the table she might be hoping that there will be such an outcry about trying to cut it, that the Republicans will never be able to go after it again.
Now some of you may be thinking, ``anybody who's living on $339 a month is probably homeless already and saving GAU isn't going to save the homeless.'' Of course, GAU should be much higher just like the minimum wage. But when I was on GAU I was able to get subsidized housing by putting down $339 a month as my income. Then my rent was fixed accordingly (CPC didn't make a lot of money off me). If GAU gets cut what happens when people put a big 0 next to their income?
Just another obstacle in preventing people from getting a roof over your heads. It's enough to make you feel like the Governor looks. Pass the chilli please.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Friday, January 2, 2009

The best of `07 in `08 (or `09)

This time of year many media outlets rank the top movies of 2008. But since I watch most movies on DVD most of the movies I saw this past year came out in 2007 which was an outstanding year for movies. So to be different, here's my list of the top films of 2007.

10 Tie (ties for 10th are always good). Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. Outrageous and vulgar this movie with the double entendre title was laugh-out-loud funny. The poor guy almost got hit in the face with a penis.
Persepolis. I didn't think I'd ever watch a cartoon about a girl (autobiographical cartoonist Marjane Serepi) growing up in the Middle East. But this engrossing film will teach you more about Iran than you'll ever learn on a TV newscast.

9. In The Valley Of Elah. There have been several movies about the Iraqi war (all of which have bombed at the box office) but this was the best thanks to a standout performance by Tommy Lee Jones. Tommy Lee's character lectures a school janitor early on about how the American flag is only supposed to fly upside down if the country's in a lot of trouble. When you see him walking towards the flag at the end of the film it's pretty powerful.

8. The Waitress. A small, independant movie about the trials and tribulations of some small-town waitresses. The movie's also about pies: The I Don't Want To Have A Baby Pie - quiche, egg, brie and smoked salmon; or the I Hate My Husband Pie - bittersweet chocolate and caramel.

7. Sicko. American health care sucks; Europe's is better, and this Michael Moore offering (his best movie) sends Sean Hannity into apoplexy. The DVD interview with Che Guevara's daughter is a must for socialists.

6. Before The Devil Knows You're Dead. The bungling partner movie of the year. Philip Seymour Hoffman cons his brother (Ethan Hawke) into doing all the work. Said brother always screws up. Movie begins with a full-screen shot of Hoffman's bare butt.

5. Juno. During a trip to the video store last summer I realized that everyone knew Juno. Even people who hadn't seen the movie. Some of it was the poster but Juno was a unique character and none of the movies characters made predictable decisions. Washington state's Kimya Dawson provided the funky music.

4. Gone Baby Gone. One of the things about living in different parts of the country is that you realize how pronounced regional accents are. Even if Gone Baby Gone (adapted from a Dennis Lehane novel) wasn't a good story these are the best Boston accents in the history of movies. That's because director Ben Affleck cast actual Bostonions who really did ``drive their caas to Dorchestuh.''

3. Across The Universe. A musical comprised solely of Beatle songs was probably inevitable and this movie will also get higher points from (some) Beatles' aficionado's. Also kudos to the movie's producers for using some lesser known (at least to me) Beatles' songs such as Across The Universe, Dear Prudence, and Happiness Is A Warm Gun. However, the male lead is still named Jude.

2. Michael Clayton. An underrated movie that focuses on three characters played by George Clooney, Tom Wilkinson and Tilda Swinton. The message here is that corruption is there but sometimes we just don't want to see it. And if we do see it, Michael Clayton (Clooney) will ask if we've stopped taking our meds.

1. No Country For Old Men. Speaking of interesting characters this Coen brothers' epic stars Javier Bardem as the stoic killer with the Moe Howard haircut. Despite criticisms of being too violent, No Country is reminiscent of the quirky, unpredictable movies of the `90's (some made by the Coen brothers). The only movie made in the last few years that may be considered a classic.

A trip to one video store showed that only Gone Baby Gone and Sicko aren't in the new movies section. I went to one movie in theaters this past year - Burn After Reading - and spent $17 on the movie, popcorn and soda. No doubt, I'll be watching most movies at home again this year.