Friday, July 26, 2013


President Eisenhower was a rarity. Perhaps he was rare because he wasn’t really a politician he was a general out of uniform. A general who wasn’t afraid to fire officers who couldn’t cut it, spoke out of turn, tried to run battles from seventy miles in the rear. If he had issued orders as mealy mouthed and inaccurate as what’s coming out of DC and many state capitals these days the Allies would have invaded Ireland instead of Normandy. 

And what’s really scary is that nearly sixty years have passed and nothing has changed. Except that big business doesn’t want to end farm subsidies. They have too much to lose while we grow so much corn we can make sugar out of it, so many soy beans they’re used to make almost anything except food.

I wonder what the old general would think of the idea of patenting living things. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013


Cynthia posted this on Facebook. Little bee come visit our neighborhood. Herbs, lilies, fuchsias, roses, flowering trees. And, near as I can tell, nobody really uses pesticides or herbicides. You can put four of your little legs under our table anytime. Have no idea who the artist is.

Monday, July 22, 2013


"The San Diego County Clerk, Ernest J. Dronenburg, Jr., has filed what is now the third lawsuit attempting to reinstate California’s Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriage. Apparently he will be joined by suits from 19 more of the 58 county clerks, who are asking the California Supreme Court to take a very narrow reading of the federal injunction against the measure left in place after the U.S. Supreme Court decision in June.

Dronenburg is represented by Chuck LiMandri of the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund, which is also defending ex-gay therapy in New Jersey. One of the claims made in the petition is that Dronenburg is personally injured by having to marry same-sex couples:
Petitioner is suffering, and will continue to suffer, irreparable injury and damage unless this Court requires Respondents to execute their supervisory duties, which do not include control over county clerks issuing marriage licenses, consistent with state law limitations.
Petitioner is suffering, and will continue to suffer, irreparable injury and damage unless this Court issues an immediate temporary stay during the pendency of these writ proceedings (1) that orders Respondents not to enforce the State Registrar’s directive commanding county clerks to issue marriage licenses contrary to state law defining marriage as the union between one man and one woman, and (2) that direct Petitioner to refrain from issuing marriage licenses contrary to state law defining marriage as the union between one man and one woman until this Court settles the important issues raised in this Petition.
This suit makes the same argument made in a similar suit filed recently by the proponents of Prop 8, claiming the federal injunction does not apply state-wide because the governor and attorney general do not have supervision over county clerks. The California Supreme Court refused to issue a stay in that suit, but has asked to be briefed in the coming weeks. A state court does not have authority, however, to overturn a federal injunction — only a federal court can interpret its scope to mean something more narrow, and Justice Anthony Kennedy already refused to do that. Even if the California Supreme Court rules that county clerks operate independently of state leaders, Judge Vaughan Walker’s injunction declared Prop 8 unconstitutional, “permanently enjoining its enforcement” — presumably by anybody.
State Attorney General Kamala Harris responded to the suit that nothing has changed:
The filing offers no new arguments that could deny same-sex couples their constitutionally protected civil rights. The federal injunction is still in effect, and it requires all 58 counties to perform same-sex marriages. No exceptions.

The other county clerks are expected to submit their similar filings by the end of the day Monday."

This is the text of a Think Progress article on on several California County Clerks suing to reinstate Prop 8. I don't know whether they're elected by the county or hired by the county but they're paid by the county. If marrying gay couples is going to offend their delicate sensibilities I suggest they find another job where they don't have to deal with it. Talk about an entitlement attitude. Frankly I'm getting sick and tired of the "X, Y or Z will offend my religious beliefs so shouldn't have to do it. Especially when it comes to gay marriage and women's rights. I don't know if the article links will come through or not.

Saturday, July 20, 2013


Lucky 1997?-July 20, 2013 RIP

Like most of the animals in our lives, Lucky came by accident. A co worker had taken in a pregnant kitty, had found homes for the kittens and the mom needed her forever home too. She rode home in a cardboard carrier, howling like a banshee all the way. The faster I drove the louder she hollered. Rena had called her Lucky and it stuck. She was never very tall, round but not tall. But, she had size where it counted. And up until a couple of days ago she could gig everybody else. Including Bandit, the twenty odd pound behemoth.

Funny, once you find the guts to ask “what’s best for-----“ the answer comes easily. This morning a very kind and caring vet staff eased her out of this life and into whatever lies o the other side. Whether it’s the Rainbow Bridge, heaven for cats and dogs or reincarnation I’m thankful she shared our lives.

She loved short hair. She went through a couple of years where she'd perch on the back of the recliners and "love" our hair. She also loved to whack me over the head with her tail. Twelve pounds of feline attitude with a labrador retriever's tail.

She was shadow of herself when we finally asked that important question. As I said. Once you answer that question the rest follows by itself.

Friday, July 19, 2013


A time out from politics, theology and indignation righteous or otherwise. There have been some big changes in the family in the last three years. Sis’s husband, a much loved brother, brother in law, father and uncle died suddenly three years ago. Last year sis met a great guy and they tied the knot this spring. Ironically the date they chose was mom and dad’s anniversary date. They live in eastern Oregon so we don’t get to see them very often but she’s happy and that’s what matters.

Her oldest son, who is also the oldest nephew was married two years ago this month. My new niece is a wonderful gal who is also an elementary school teacher. The duo popped in on the way to Medford about three weeks ago. I’m a great aunt. I just don’t get to meet the kid until oh say, next February. Nephew number one also works for the school district and is starting class work to get certification as a principle and she just finished her masters. Oh, and the cliché is true. Expectant mothers do glow. So do fathers.

Little sister’s middle son, AKA nephew number four, was married last summer. New niece graduated this spring and he will finish up next winter. Wants to be a social worker working with troubled kids. She’s looking at grad schools. May end up in Tennessee for a couple of years.

Now we come to nephew number three. He’s getting married next month. Again, we’re adding a bright, wonderful young lady to the family. They’re both out of school and here’s where it gets fun. She’s half Japanese and they’re working to get certification so they can go to Japan and teach English for a year or two while they sort out grad school options.

Ironically one of my other new nieces is half Indonesian. The family tree is really starting to look very, very interesting. So help me I’m going to get one of those color it in maps. My late brother in law's grand dad was full Norwegian. Add in the British Isles/Celtic side of the family and Aria's Japanese heritage...the kids will be typical Americans. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Only these are the sins society commits. 

Politics without principle
Wealth without work
Commerce without morality
Pleasure without conscience
Education without character
Science without humanity
Worship without sacrifice


I wonder how the man who owned almost nothing would react to the prosperity gospel preached by many mega churches. Or chemical companies turned seed companies that design plants that can be poisoned and survive. Just for starters. 

Monday, July 15, 2013


I get periodic e mails from Sojourner's magazine. I replaced my Newsweek subscription with this one. With respect to Mr. Wallis. I hope he doesn't mind my printing his open letter here. It's well worth the read. Racism is alive, well and more open than it's been since the sixties. This case was a classic "if all else fails crucify the victim defense." And  it worked. 

Lament from a White Father
By Jim Wallis 

It’s time for white people — especially white parents — to listen, to learn, and to speak out on the terribly painful loss of Trayvon Martin.

If my white 14-year-old son Luke had walked out that same night, in that same neighborhood, just to get a snack he would have come back to his dad unharmed — and would still be with me and Joy today. Everyone, being honest with ourselves, knows that is true. But when black 17-year-old Trayvon Martin went out that night, just to get a snack, he ended up dead — and is no longer with his dad and mom. Try to imagine how that feels, as his parents.

It was a political, legal, and moral mistake to not put race at the center of this trial because it was at the center from the beginning of this terrible case. Many are now saying, “There was a trial; the results must be accepted.” How well the case against George Zimmerman was prosecuted, how fair the tactics of the defense were, the size and selection of the jury, how narrowly their instructions were given — all will be the subject of legal discussions for a very long time.

But while the legal verdicts of this trial must be accepted, the larger social meaning of court cases and verdicts must be dealt with, especially as they impact the moral quality of our society.
This is not just about verdicts but also about values. 

And the impact of race in and on this case, this trial, and the response to it around the country must now all be centrally addressed.

There is no doubt that this whole tragedy began with the racial profiling of Trayvon Martin. In George Zimmerman’s comments, rationales, and actions, the identity of Trayvon as a young black man was absolutely central. Both sides in the courtroom admitted that.

And when the defense put up as a witness a white woman who had been robbed by a black man as central to why Zimmerman picked out Trayvon Martin to follow and stalk — it really said it all. Was she robbed by Trayvon Martin? No. So why should he be suspect because of another black robber? That is racial profiling. Period.

As the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. said in his most famous “I Have a Dream” speech, whose 50th anniversary is coming up this August 24th:

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

King’s dream failed on February 26, 2012, in SanfordFla., when George Zimmerman decided to follow Trayvon Martin because of the color of his skin. This led to a confrontation in which a child was killed by an adult who got away with it, because of the way Florida laws were written and interpreted.

What exactly happened between Zimmerman and Martin will never be known, because the boy is dead and the adult did not have to testify and be cross examined. How a black boy responded to a strange man who was following him, and what the stranger did with that, is a story we can never really know. But regardless of the verdict that rests on narrow definitions of self-defense and reasonable doubt, it is absolutely clear that racial profiling was present in this whole incident.

And racial profiling is a sin in the eyes of God. It should also be a crime in the eyes of our society, and the laws we enact to protect each other and our common good.

White parents should ask black parents what they were talking about with their children this weekend. It is a long-standing conversation between black dads and moms, especially with their boys, about how to carefully behave in the presence of police officers with guns. Now they must add any stranger who might have a gun and could claim they were fearful of a black man and had to shoot. The spread of legalized carried-and-concealed weapons and the generous self-defense laws that accompany the guns will lead to the death of more black men in particular.

Death is horrible enough. But systematic injustice — one that allows white boys to assume success, yet leads black boys to cower from the very institutions created to protect our own wellbeing — is a travesty. Listen to the stories from Saturday and Sunday nights, of 12-year-old black boys who asked to sleep in bed with their parents because they were afraid. If black youth in America can’t rely on the police, the law, or their own neighborhood for protection — where can they go?

This is one of those painful moments which reveal an utterly segregated society, in reality and perception alike. White people have almost no idea of what black people are thinking and feeling — even the parents of their children’s friends from school or sports teams who are black. Trust me: most white people over this past weekend, whether conservatives or liberals, had almost no idea of what was happening in virtually every black family in America.

Finally, there is a religious message here for all Christians. If there ever was a time that demonstrated why racially and culturally diverse congregations are needed — that time is now. The body of Christ is meant, instructed, and commanded by Christ to be racially inclusive. If white Christians stay in our mostly-white churches and talk mostly to each other we will never understand how our black brothers and sisters are feeling after a terrible weekend like this one. It was the conversation of every black church in America on this Sunday, but very few white Christians heard that discussion or felt that pain.

White Christians cannot and must not leave the sole responsibility of telling the truth about America, how it has failed Trayvon Martin and so many black Americans, solely to their African American brothers and sisters in Christ. It’s time for white Christians to listen to their black brothers and sisters, to learn their stories, and to speak out for racial justice and reconciliation. The country needs multi-racial communities of faith to show us how to live together.  


In a way you can have almost too many books. That happens when you run out of shelves to put them on. 

For the older reader with gimpy knees the internet is a blessing when you’re shopping for used books. And I live in a college town. The biggest used book store runs heavily to books used for the local universities and community college. And you have to hope that somebody in the area sold off the book you’re looking for. And I’ve never had much luck in that department.

For example. Back in the late ‘70’s Franco Zefferelli did a mini series on Jesus of Nazareth with English novelist Anthony Burgess doing the script. Afterwards Burgess expanded the screenplay into a novel. A respectful but rather irreverent at times novel. The local library had a copy, for awhile. It mysteriously disappeared. No record of it being checked out or discarded. Just gone. Can’t imagine why. Finally managed to find a copy on the net. Eugene’s rep for liberalism only goes so far.

The net is good for finding decent used hard back copies of some books that I originally purchased in standard paperback volumes. Often for less than I paid for the paperbacks. Darned arthritis. Makes it hard to deal with the paperbacks. Especially the older ones that had really narrow margins. Once you get to the middle of Stone’s The Agony and the Ecstasy you’re beginning to really sympathize with Michelangelo in more ways than one. And we won’t mention the tiny print. Bifocals really are a blessing.

I usually use either Amazon or Alibris. Both act as a hub for used bookstores. Some as far away as Australia. And shipping is usually a standard price if you don’t mind waiting awhile. The sellers list a price and the condition of the book. They’re usually pretty accurate. Just remember that if you finally find that copy of the book you bought back in the eighties loaned out and never got back that the description “good” might just mean “pretty good considering the blessed thing is older than three of my nephews.”

There are some books I wish could talk. My copy of Twelve O’clock High was apparently a gift to an American serving in Bosnia back in the nineties. Apparently he came home via Australia and unloaded the book there. Somebody did anyway. Book went around the world by the time it came to me. Some have beautiful bookplates in the front. Some have a name and phone number. Some have been bounced around a bit but the pages are in good shape. The words aren’t going anywhere and scrapbooking tape mends the ravages of time.

Some folks wouldn’t dream of dog earring a page to mark your place. And I’ve got a copy of Bowden’s Killing the Hidden Waters with extensive underlining and lots of margin notes. Careful underlining and neatly written thoughtful notes. Their handwriting is a heck of a lot better than mine.

And I don’t remember the name of the bookstore but their motto was along the lines of “buy a book someone else loved and save a tree.” Amen.

Saturday, July 13, 2013


Go ahead a century or two. Change the conquerors from Catholic to Protestant. We know most of the history. It can be summed up by lament that rings down through the centuries that I first heard voiced by the Maori of New Zealand. “When the missionaries came they had the Bible and we had the land. When they were finished we had the Bible and they had the land.”

And in the United States the land was and is still here. But, the list of what’s missing will break your heart, if you have one that’s willing to listen. Passenger pigeons, ivory billed woodpeckers,  the woods bison, most of the plains bison, the woods that stretched from what we call New England to the Mississippi. Native tribes either driven to extinction or onto reservations.

 And some reservations are barely that. Most of the land is controlled by non natives on some reservations such as White Earth in Minnesota are mostly settled by non natives. The timber rights sold off around the turn of the last century. Fishing rights are contested between the natives and non natives. The Everglades are almost gone. The so far unused Yucca mountain nuclear storage facility is on reservation land. And the feds didn’t ask first.

Even if the dams in the Columbia/Snake River Basins hadn’t closed off the great salmon runs they’d probably be endangered anyway. The dominant economy has an amazing ability to exploit a resource to the point of near extinction. Most of the great old growth mixed stands of timber in the Northwest are gone. In place of Douglas firs, pines, spruce and hemlocks are monoculture stands of Douglas firs. Planted too close together, almost never thinned, sprayed with herbicides and pesticides Too late we learned that sustainability was a myth and the new woods were firetraps.

And the entitlement culture continues almost unchecked. Move to the desert and expect to have a lawn like you had in Minnesota. Plow up the desert and plant crops that require heavy irrigation. In a part of the country that MAY get eight to ten inches of rain per year the only source is the fossil water of aquifers like the Ogallala. It’s being pumped out far faster than Creation can replace it. And now it looks like the last century may have been wetter than usual. If the drought continues the recharge time will take even longer. 

Between the sixties and  the eighties states like Texas and California saw the handwriting on the wall and started looking further afield for new water sources. California looked towards the Columbia. It took an act of congress to spike those plans. Fortunately, Washington senators Jackson and Magnuson had enough clout  to push through legislation took any possibility of even planning a pipeline from the Columbia to Southern California off the table. Sorry guys but between power plants, irrigation in our states and keeping the river levels high enough for the Port of Portland there's none to spare. And this winter has been much, much drier than usual. As the climate warms, there may be even less to spare. 

Texas looked and still looks towards the Mississippi. Even though the pipeline would have to raise the water nearly three thousand feet to pumping stations in the Ogallala region. And now they’re pumping that fossil water up to use it for fracking. And what do you with it afterwards. Will that waste water end up being stored like the radioactive waste at Hanford? Stored in tanks that don’t last nearly long enough leaving the waste leaking into the ground while it waits to be cleaned up. Funny, we keep hearing about “socialism” whenever social programs are attacked. We already have socialism. The big corporations have privatized the profits, Socialized the costs. And that may be the biggest “entitlement program” of all. 


There will be a slight delay in the second part of entitlements. Due to, well I’m not sure, I guess a mini rant on the sorry state of American TV journalism, pathetic lack of common sense and stupidity in general.

Fox affiliate station KTVU based in the Oakland/San Francisco area did a story on the Asiana Airlines crash Friday. The “whoops” moment came when the names of the pilots and cockpit crew were read out by the on air talking head. I refuse to use the term journalist as a description. I’m not even certain that these individuals rise to the status of the old BBC term of news reader.

At this point no one is ‘fessin’ up on the original source for these names. There’s a lot of finger pointing. At somebody else. And a note to the unnamed source in the Wikipedia article. I did not have to say the names out loud to realize they were bogus.

I guess a station in Podunk middle America where I assume they don’t get too many Orientals in town might be able to plead ignorance, but this is San Francisco for cryin’ out loud. What? Your talking heads don’t read their copy before going on the air? And think to themselves “man this sounds like a really bad Charlie Chan movie”. They did call the NTSB, but give me a freakin’ break. If you want correct information, go to the best source first. That just might be the company that pays the pilots to fly their planes.

If Asiana Airlines is flying planes into Frisco I assume that they have a desk at the airport. There’s nobody at the station who could have taken their ten magic fingers, half a brain, gone to source and called the airline for the names? I mean, that’s the first thing I thought of and I’m not a TV talking head pretending to be a journalist. I’m not going to speculate why no one called the airline. Unless it was “I wonder if they even speak English over there.” (face slap, forehead hits the desk, over and over and…)

Anyway the names as confirmed by an NTSB summer intern who probably isn’t there anymore are as follows. “Sum Ting Wong,” “Wi Tu Lo.” “Ho Lee Fuk” and “Bang Ding Ow.” I could say that “ok, it’s a Fox station, what else can you expect?”

But, I’ve seen the same problems with our local news outlets. The closest I’m come to the news on KVAL since they fired long time anchor Shelly Kurtz are the commercials on Blue Bloods on Friday nights. I have to admit that their talking heads appear to have great teeth. If the smiles had more plastic in them I think I’d be grabbing the trash can. KVAL sold out to an out of state group several years ago and that group is in the process of selling out to some conglomerate back east.

Ed Murrow and Walter Cronkite we miss you. I mean we really, really miss you. 

Friday, July 12, 2013


This grew like Topsy. It will be a rare two parter. 

This 2008 entry from Lisa's Coming to Terms seems to fit in with where I’m at right now. Where does this sense of entitlement come from? If we look back, it sure as hell isn’t new. It may go back to the Children of Israel claiming the “Promised Land.” Look at the history with the eyes of the people already living there. “It’s ours. Our God says so. And by the way your Gods have to go. And if you don’t like it you’ll get what the alters got. Times ten.”

There had been colonizers before. The Greek city states seeded offspring from the Black Sea to Spain. And they were willing to fight for enough land to support their new city. I haven’t run across any reports of deliberate genocide. They may have made slaves of some of the losers but they didn't seem to be interested in engaging in large scale slave trading. Not that that rocky valleys of Greece would have supported large slave populations. The silver mines that were the basis of the short lived Athenian empire seem to have been an exception rather than the rule. The Spartans also seem to have been the only society that made extensive use of a conquered serf population.

No that distinction came first for the Romans with their great latifundia plantations in North Africa. Some worked by as many as twenty thousand slaves. Then the conquerors of the so called “New World” stepped up to the plate. When the native tribes died too fast the Portuguese, Spanish, French and English stepped up to the plate. And millions of West Africans were transported from the old world to the “new.”

There had been conquerors before. But they usually only required your political obedience, your taxes, probably your sons for the armies. But, the total obliteration of a culture? I’m not sure. Looks like that top shelf on the top of the bookcase is finally in for a workout.

Jump ahead a few hundred years. The newly minted Christian church marries the failing Roman Empire and produces one hell of a deformed offspring. It took a thousand years and who knows how many deaths to finally drive the last of the so called pagans underground. Some of the old spirit survived on the fringes in places like Ireland. Or in believers unafraid being on the fringes of society. Francis of Assisi comes to mind. And the path the old Irish monks took through Europe goes straight through that part of Italy. Right down to the heel of the boot.

Take is forward a few hundred years more as the so called Age of Exploration began. What the history books didn’t mention when I was in high school was that Constantinople fell in the early part of the 15th century cutting off most of the land routed to the far east. Unless you wanted to pay the tolls to the new rulers. Sailors under the command of Prince Henry the Navigator finally made it across the equator where it crosses Africa. Shortly before that the sailors brought back the first loads of slaves from West Africa. Now there’s a sense of entitlement for you.

You’ve heard the arguments that slavery wasn’t that bad, at least the natives got a chance to become Christians. That attitude did not begin with southern politicians. Columbus was a student of Henry’s. The “New World” may have been new to the Europeans, but it was home to millions living in cities, villages, jungles, grasslands. They had mythologies as rich as old Europe’s. The Aztec’s may have been bloodier than most at that time. But they didn’t invent weapons that could destroy most of life on earth. And then come up with “rational” excuses to use them.

When the first conqueror’s came they gave a few speeches assuring the people who welcomed them that they wouldn’t be harmed. Their way of life of would be respected. I think that lasted about a week. Or maybe a month. It didn’t take long before their alters were destroyed. Their gods thrown down and the forced conversions began. Converting didn’t save them from new diseases. Conversion didn’t save them from slavery. Conversion didn’t stop the rape of their lands. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

I AM.....

Amergin, bard and perhaps druid, was one of the Milesians, reputed to be the last conquerors of Ireland. At least until the Normans and English came along. This is a version of a poem attributed to him and may be one of the oldest poems in an Irish language. The identification with the natural world is strong and immediate. This is a more polished version than you usually see. Found it on the net.

I am the wind across a deep, wide lake.
I am the wave over the endless sea.
I am the stag of seven tines, racing through the woods
I am the eagle in the aerie, flying above the rocks
I am a flash of light from the sun above, bringing heat to those below
I am the blooming plants, bringing sustenance and beauty
I am a wild boar, powerful and strong
I am the salmon in the water, swimming endlessly upstream
I am the hill where poets stroll for inspiration
I am the head of the spear the draws blood in battle
I am the god that puts fire in the head and honor in the heart

Short excerpt from Bard by Morgan Llywylen. Iearne is one of the ancient names of Ireland. The suggested pronunciation is I Yearn.

In the novel the  Celtic invaders challenge the Tuatha De Danaan to battle for the possession of the island. The Milesians win the battle but, the morning after the battle all the bodies of the fallen Danaans are gone. And almost member of the race is seen again. This is Llywylen’s take on where they went. They gave up their physical bodies but that which is immortal is joined to the land and waters of their island. Shinnan is one of the few who did not join in the “unbodying.” She, uh, had her sights set on a certain poet. And the poet, quite frankly had had it with the increasing friction between himself and his brothers.

“Shinnan put her two small hands on his chest and he could see the pale glimmer of her face in the moonlight filtering into their glade. Then his vision seemed to change and was not in the glade any longer. Rather, he was of the glade; he was looking down on it from a higher perspective, aware of the life flowing through arteries, aware of strength, suppleness, and scurryings of insect industry beneath bark. Where he had arms and fingers he now sensed branches and twigs, and susurration of leaves. But he was not the tree; he was of the tree.

Then his comprehension shifted and he was of the brook, cold and earthbanked, endless motion. And he was of the stones, compressed by the weight of eons into a density beyond imagining, flickering with memories of ancient fires.

Then he was of a hill. Of a lake. Of the island of Iearne in a way so intimate it should have dissolved his individuality, but it did not. He was not melted into the land but was inhabiting it in its specific parts. He was still Amergin, Still himself and aware.

And he knew what had happened to the Tuatha De Danaan. They had not been driven out; they had not surrendered one pace of earth. They were all around him, in the night, joined to Iearne forever.”

Now try to imagine not just feeling the ties to the land, sea and sky but being joined so closely to everything around you. How much differently would be treat the world around us and perhaps, each other. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


Fodla of the Tuatha de Danaan to Eremon of the Milesians in Bard by Morgan Llywelyn


The opinions of the following rant are solely the product of the PO’d owner of this blog. And was inspired by this post over at Coming to Terms. And Lisa, I don't discount that there may be more to how you're feeling than the totally f'd up political, social and economic problems we're facing. And you don't have to go through this alone. I know I'm over a hundred miles away. But I do care and I think about you a lot. Yeah, and I have a crappy way of showing it. 

I wrote some pretty good stuff pre 2008 too. Face it George W Bush and the rest of the gang were a gift that just kept giving. How were we to know that the “shrub” and his retinue were the high points of the decade? Granted their “high” was still pathetically low.

2008. The economy was slowing, but we didn’t realize that it was a train heading down hill with no brakes and the bridge over the gorge was out. There was this new guy running for president who seemed pretty promising. Granted he was less pigmentally challenged than the other candidate. And what a gift the Republican VP candidate was. I mean I’m still trying to decipher her abdication speech when she morphed into a half term governor from Alaska.

What we didn’t realize at the time is that an entire group of our fellow citizens would rather drag the country over that broken bridge into the gorge than see a black man in the White House. At least one who could go through the front door instead of the servant’s entrance at the back. Politicians who were for something until the president was for it and then they were ready to fight tooth and nail to defeat. That their definition of bipartisanship wasn’t working together, each side giving up something to reach a common goal. No. It turned out to be our way or else.

And there was the whole “birther” schtick. And on the way we discovered that there were fellow citizens who not only questioned the president’s right to be president. Not because of where he was born, but because of his race. They even questioned whether women had the right to vote simply because we were women and we weren't mentioned in the body of the constitution. Neither were men, now that I think about it. Except for outlining the qualifications for congress and the presidency there's no mention of men or women out all. Doesn't even specify that the candidates have to be male now that I think about it. 

Then the run up to last year’s election and candidates falling all over each other trying to define what a “real” rape was. Trying to shrink government until it could be fitted into a woman’s uterus. There’s a diaphragm for ya’. Looking at the crop of potential candidates Bush II suddenly looked like a Rhodes scholar. The race to the bottom produced Romneybot and the man fondly known to many as Lyin’ Ryan. One tried to be all things to all people and ended up being nothing to anyone. He had so little influence he couldn’t get his wife to slow down on the “we’ve given you people all you need to know” rhetoric. He couldn’t get the fundie/bagger candidates to stow the rape comments until after the election. And he couldn’t even get his former company to hold off on shipping over one hundred and sixty jobs to China. Before the election.

Then there was the precious VP candidate whose whole theory of economics and society seems to be based on two crappy novels by a Russian émigré atheist. Honestly, I tried to read Atlas Shrugged. When I was a high school senior. I tried twice. It didn’t take me long to realize that the characters were cardboard cutouts. About as real as Romneybot. Then I grew up. And apparently the politician who wants to wean the rest of us off the government teat has, shall we say, grown if not fat but happy on the programs he wants to eliminate for the rest of us.

With apologies to the movie 1776 is that the odor of high pock racy flowing from more than one direction?

What’s not to love about this scenario? It’s enough to depress an extraordinarily cheerful hyena. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


Some call him Governor Good Hair. Or All Hat and No Cattle. And there are descriptions less kind. Texas governor Rick Perry. The gift that won't quit giving. Or still does depending on your point of view. Think Progress's article had nine things that some folks won't miss whether the man continues to run for office or not.

Three entries especially resonate with me because they go to the roots of justice and what this country stands for. Texas leads the country in executions. In 2004 he signed off on the death of Cameron Todd Willingham for causing the deaths of his children be setting his house on fire. In spite of questions about arson even being committed at all.

Perhaps the governor didn't believe the new evidence. Perhaps he's one of those who believes that the decision of a jury should never be questioned. We don't really know and we probably never will know because what followed is what really sticks in my craw. In 2009 the Texas Forensic Fire Commission was hearing testimony that questioned the original finding of arson when the governor fired and replaced three of its members. Putting the investigation on indefinite hold. Justice delayed is justice denied. Not just for Cameron Willingham, but for all of us.

He's backed legislation that would "nullify" the enforcement of federal laws within the state of Texas even though the constitution guarantees the supremacy of federal laws over state laws. And even briefly flirted with secession. All that kind of went out the window in 2011 when Texas was drying up and blowing away because of severe drought and in danger of going up in flames from border to border for the same reason. All of a sudden Texas was very glad to be part of the US because they needed that disaster relief and there was no mention of taking money from somewhere or someone else to cover their needs. Is that the semll of High pock racy I sense coming up from the south.

The nullifiers tried their tricks back in the 1830's when Andy Jackson (and I have plenty of bones to pick about Jackson's policies) was president. He threatened to send in the army. He also threatened to hang every nullifier he could lay his hands on. Starting with senator John C. Calhoun. It didn't come to that then and it probably won't come to that now. But. Might be interesting to try just to stir the pot a bit.

And last but perhaps not least he supports, or at least he said so in his book Fed Up  that the 17th amendment which allows for the direct election of senators rather than their being chose by the state legislature was a mistake passed in a "fit of populist rage." Governor have you even bothered to read the section of the constitution that outlines how amendments are passed and ratified? The process is deliberately difficult and time consuming. The amendment has to pass congress. The president has to sign it. Then it gets sent to the states for ratification. It only takes one fourth of the states to sink one. That's thirteen these days folks. The process was deliberately designed to take long enough that if fits of any kind of political rage were involved they'd have time to cool.

Governor if I don't have a say in choosing those that pass laws in my name I WILL REFUSE TO OBEY.  If you have a pipe stick that little thought in it and light up.

Sunday, July 7, 2013


I trashed the library list and I'm replacing it with Wordsmiths. As in those who create with words. Maybe I'll hit one a author a week. Who knows. Heaven knows I have enough books on the shelves to do that and not run out anytime soon. The list allows me to create a link to a site like Wickipedia with background information on the author and other books or essays that they've written that might be interesting but that I haven't read.

I'm not sure how long I'll let the list get before I remove the one at the bottom of the list when I add somebody new. I mean, how long will it take anyone to notice, or care. LOL This way I'll have to actually talk about the book, or books. Instead of a hey look at this list of what I liked last year.

There's another reason for going by author. Some have more than one book. That I've actually read, liked and it (they) made me think. I may discuss all of them. I may just talk about the author and give links to the books.

First up. Frederick W Turner. It took several tried to get into Beyond Geography: The Western Spirit Against the Wilderness. Then I couldn't stop in appalled fascination. This is the story of the conquest of the New World that doesn't get taught in schools, for the most part and would probably get me blackballed by all the "America has a special destiny" wingnuts out there.

Turner argues that the wilderness experience of the tribes of Israel marked them with a fear of the wild places and those who live in them. Christianity took that fear and amplified it as the Jesus Cult became the church and the desire for control increased. The western church that verse about dominion and ran with it. Prince Henry the Navigator, Columbus who spent time at Henry's school in Portugal, the Conquistidores, the English colonists and the Americans. The book is part poem, part polemic.

He argues that when Christianity closed off the possibility of new revelations after the time of the apostles it also closed off the possibility of learning what the natural world has to teach us. After all the voices of the wind, streams, birds, rocks and trees were probably demon sent and must be ignored. The litany of arrogance, ignorance and destruction is enough to make you weep, scream or both. The buffalo are just one example. They numbered in the millions and we managed to all but exterminate them in less than half a century. The hunters took the hides, the horns, perhaps the best cuts of meat and left the rest to rot on the plains.

The Native Americans who moved through the land leaving almost no mark were all but destroyed, moved to reservations, turned to objects of pity or derision. A people who moved with the land were replaced by those who loved straight lines and nature as long as it was "tamed."

But, I do believe that Turner's argument with Christianity acted as a set of blinkers. Before the Christians, there was Rome. Rome sent her traders in first then the soldiers followed. Before Cortez set his sights on the gold of the Aztecs, Julius Caesar set his eyes on Gaul. More on that a little later.

But in both cases a foreign land and the tribes already living there were seen, not as potential allies or as teachers but as markets and plums to be plucked. Gauls lived in round or oval houses, worshipped in wooded groves and sang. They sang the sun up, they sang it down. They sang to their crops and at their work. They sang because they felt like it and moved with the land. We've seen the Roman ruins. Straight lines in their roads, their houses and their temples. Sound familiar. Like the Americans who sold rum to the Indians, Rome's traders went in first and then the soldiers came to protect the traders. And thent the Caesars came and the singing stopped.

Turner has a good thesis. I just don't believe he went far enough. Some of the conquered were spared for the Roman slave markets. The Americans saw no use for the people who were here first and set out to destroy them.

Saturday, July 6, 2013


I guess Lady Liberty got tired of the words on her base being ignored. When piss off the Lady With the Lamp you know you're in trouble. Nicked from Lisa on Facebook.

Can't locate the original entry right now, from a group called (I think) Kentuckians against the war against women.

Friday, July 5, 2013


There was a long article in the local paper Sunday profiling folks who say they want to eat healthier and end up going for what society currently says is the “bad” stuff. One gal went into Dunkin’ Donuts for a cup of coffee and came out with a breakfast sandwich. Served on a split, glazed donut. Sorry, that does not float my boat. Ham and eggs is ham and eggs. And donuts are donuts not biscuits or English Muffins. Then there was the Charles Jr. double bacon cheeseburger with six, count them, six slices of bacon. Even if they use four ounce patties, and I don’t think they do, that’s half pound of meat plus the cheese.

But it did get me thinking. I just finished Killing the Hidden Waters by Charles Bowden. While detailing how our current water usage is draining the Ogallala aquifer he spends much of the book profiling the Native American tribes known to us as the Pima. The groups range from those lived in the driest section of the Sonoran desert and were true nomads to those who had access to fairly reliable water from year to year and spent the majority of their time in either summer or winter villages.

All practiced as sustainable lifestyle as possible in a desert. Their crops seldom provided much of a surplus and they depended on rain fall or stream water, not on underground “fossil” water. For some, like the true wanderers, it was to our eyes sustainable, but also right on the edge of survival. Access to foods high in fat or sugars was seasonal and frankly, unless you were able to get a deer or a buffalo, not a whole lot at any one time even then.

That’s the way of life most humans lived until the last century or so. Even after we developed agriculture and all the trimmings of a settled lifestyle the chance that you’d get hit with bad harvests, a war, an epidemic, something that would push the food supply to the bare minimum every few years was always on the horizon. What if we’re programmed to go for high calorie foods? It didn’t used to be that big of a problem because most humans didn’t have access to those foods very often and they got a lot more exercise.

I’m not offering the human reflex to go for the gusto when you get the chance as an excuse but as a tool. If we realize WHY we’re semi programmed to skip over the rabbit food on the menu and go for sirloin or the apple pie we might have a better chance of making healthier choices. That and remembering that a serving size is really about four a ounces. Yeah, I know about the size of a deck of cards.

Our way of compensating is to go in the middle of the afternoon and combine lunch AND dinner in one meal. We still have to watch things more closely when we know we’re going out but is does help. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


Think Progress has been such a great source of journal ideas. California state senator Mimi Walters is running for congress. She’s a Republican. And while she SAYS she’s a supporter of small government one of her largest donors, Howard Ahmanson, has distributed large donations to groups and candidates promoting a “Christian Worldview.” And he’s set things up so that a private company that can spread the money around without having to disclose them publicly. Don’t you just love how so many donors at the far end of both spectrums don’t want anybody to know who they’re giving their money to.

Which brings us to Rousas John Rushdoony, the godfather of those who want to bring US laws into compliance with the Bible. In particular Leviticus. He had a list of about twenty transgressions that would earn you the death penalty, preferably by stoning. These included but weren’t limited to gays, adulterers, juvenile delinquents, non Christians, those who abandoned Christianity and well, you get the picture. He considered Democracy to be a heresy, but advocated using democratic means to gain power in what would probably be the last free election in the history of the country.

The good reverend is a classic example of first generation immigrants like Rick Santorum and Justice Scalia. His family immigrated to the US in 1915 to escape the persecution of Armenians by the Ottoman government. He was born in 1916 here in the good ol US of A. The family eventually settled in California. I just love how first generation immigrants have been welcomed to this country and then turn around and tell the rest of us how we got it all wrong. If the blighter was still alive I’d invite him to go back to his native land and try his theocratic ideals out on the Armenians and leave the rest of us in peace. I suspect the Armenians would probably try and send him back. And I'd also remind him that we tried that theocratic schtick in the seventeenth century in the colony of Massachusetts. It' didn't work then, either.

And this is a link to an article from Reason magazine’s archives. It was originally printed back in the mid nineties. Apparently quite a few original supporters backed off as they realized the full implications of these beliefs. It’s titled Invitation to a Stoning. Catch the quote from Gary North at the end. About how he and his fellows would use our traditions of religious freedom and liberty to take power. And keep it. And the fundies wonder why the rest of us are running in the opposite direction.


There is an article on Think Progress profiling how African American actor Levar Burton deals potential problems if he’s stopped for Driving While Black. And the comments at the end of the story really give the details of two big problems in America. One, racism is alive and unwell for Blacks and Latinos. Two, there are parts of the country where the cops need a refresher course on the bill of rights.

One example from the comments section is a good illustration. Cops are looking for a bank robber; black, about 5’6”, 200 pounds wearing a jogging suit. Who do they arrest? A 6’5” tall drink of water wearing a suit and tie and carrying a brief case. Well, they did have one thing in common. The cops got the black part right. When his mom asked him why he didn’t say anything to the cops it was basically “I didn’t want to get shot.” The commenter didn’t say which city this happened in.

One thing led to another after I’d read the article and a couple of other articles and some other stuff and suddenly something reared its really ugly head. All the shots that last few months of gun owners sticking up for their rights, carrying loaded guns in public, showing up where politicians (president especially) are speaking while openly carrying firearms seem to have two things in common. They’re overwhelmingly male AND they’re apparently all white.

White right wing militias train in the boondies and nobody gets too concerned except for the fibbies and maybe the local cops. Now imagine a group of African Americans and Latinos doing the exact same thing. All actions the same except for the skin color. Now imagine the explosions at Fox. The fulminations from the same folks who got all worked up because a couple of members of the New Black Panthers stood outside a polling place in their own neighborhood and were accused of intimidation. And I think the New Black Panthers have about two dozen members. Tops.

I’ve been trying to find out how many non whites actually belong to the NRA and got almost nowhere. Did find this article. Man attended an NRA convention with more than seventy thousand other members and managed to spot maybe a dozen non white faces. Which reinforces the impression that, protests to the contrary, the Bill of Rights might as well have Whites Only stenciled across it.

And considering the reactions of Texas politicians to the anti abortion protesters with two X chromosomes it might as well have White Males Only stenciled on it. And if the fundies ever get their way the Catholics who help them gain power will discover that their help is no longer required and hey your family hasn’t been here long enough anyway. Ironically, both Rick Santorum and Antonin Scalia are both first generation Americans. And Scalia’s dad is from Sicily which has been occupied by just about everybody over the last three thousand years. God only knows WHERE his genes have been

It was the sixties and the seventies, I was in my twenties and it seemed that this country was finally going to get its shit together and admit that we were all in this thing together. Now I’m in my sixties. We’re in a new century but we seem mired, not in the twentieth century but the worst of the nineteenth century. Attacks on the rights of women and minorities and sadly, an attempt to bring back the worst excesses of the so called Gilded Age.

It seems that those who don’t learn from the past are not only destined to repeat it but actually live in it. No thanks.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


that the men and women that will be affected by Texas Abortion bill redux should get a chance to testify about it.  Conservatives like to bitch about the nanny state when limitations on fat content in food, helmets for motorcycle riders or slimming down the Big Gulp but, this is the nanny state on steroids. All in the name of protecting women's health of course. If they have their way they'll protect us back to the 1800's.

Time to dust off the non violent civil disobedience from the sixties. And ladies, might a suggest an overwhelming epidemic of the "pink" flu.

Monday, July 1, 2013


Nineteen brave men died yesterday. Fire crew from the Prescott Hot Shots were trying to set a backfire outside Yarnell, Arizona to fight a fire probably caused by lightning when something went very, tragically wrong. They were equipped with portable shelters a lot like a space blanket, but they didn't work. Fire moved too fast? Fire was too hot? We may never know.

The supervisors who run fire crews prefer not to risk lives just to protect property, but. Really big but. The fire was moving fast and heading towards the town. If Yarnell is like the Oregon logging town where I grew up you have one main road and not much else. For at least five miles either direction the trees line the highway. No place to run. No place to hide.

In Arizona they were facing record high temperatures, tinder dry fuel and high winds. You're faced with a catch 22. Dangerous to defend. Almost impossible to evacuate. They tried to fight the dragon. This time the dragon won.