Saturday, November 8, 2008


By cartoonist Mike Lukovich, downloaded from the net. It was in both local papers this morning.

Here are some things about the last eight years I won’t miss. All of this material was taken from You Have No Rights by Matthew Rothschild.

Abusing the statute concerning material witnesses. The original 1984 statute was designed to prevent mob suspects from fleeing. It was used in the months after 9/11 to hold approximately four dozen suspects that were considered suspects but there wasn’t enough evidence to place them under arrest.

“Jailing people who are simply under investigation is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime. If the government has probable cause to believe a person has committed a crime, it may arrest that person, but misusing the material witness statute poses the threat of making detention the norm and liberty the exception. District judge Shira Sheindlin.

Claiming that since this is a special war and the enemy not covered by Geneva convention protections for prisoners of war; that “enemy combatants” can be held indefinitely. Detainees have been held for years not only at Guantanamo Bay, but alleged secret CIA prisons or shipped to third party countries notorious for torturing prisoners. Essentially the Bush administration claimed the right to seize anyone, anywhere and hold them indefinitely. In a hearing before the Supreme Court it was argued that the Commander in Chief powers under Article II of the Constitution give the president the right to seize anyone, including citizens, even if the nation is not at war.

“At stake… nothing less than the essence of a free society……unconstrained executive detention for the purpose of investigating and preventing subversive activity is the hallmark of the Star Chamber.” Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens

On October 31, 2001 Attorney General Ashcroft issued a regulation that allows the Justice department at its discretion to listen in on lawyer-client conversations if, in the opinion of the Attorney General, there is reasonable suspicion that the conversations may further or facilitate acts of terrorism. Before this, prosecutors had to go before a judge and convince that judge that there was probable cause that the prisoner was using these conversations to plan or commit further crimes. It’s kind of hard to plan your defense if the prosecutor knows what you’re going to do before you even go to court.

Using signing statements to get around laws passed by Congress. The soon to be Former Occupant set a record in issuing these. Over seven hundred were issued. Basically the president says he’s free to ignore any portion of a law that that he believes conflicts with his powers as commander in chief. This includes a law passed in December of 2006 that protected first class mail from being opened without a warrant unless there was suspicion that the letter contained a bomb.

Allowing the National Security Agency to attempt to monitor our phone calls without a warrant. Even though there is a law in place that allows such surveillance as long as a warrant was obtained under the Foreign Intelligence Security Act. The ultimate goal was to build a record of every phone call made in the United States.

And finally, in September of 2006, congress passed and the president signed the Military Commissions Act. This act basically blasts laws and protections going back to Magna Charta right out of the water. This allows anyone, anyone including U S citizens to seized as “enemy combatants” and tried before a military tribunal. Detainees are deprived of the right of Habeus Corpus guaranteed in Article I section 9 of the Constitution. In January of 2007 former Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez claimed in a congressional hearing that while the Constitution prohibited the taking away of Habeus Corpus there was no express guarantee that any individual or citizen was guaranteed to right to Habeus Corpus.

We started watching “Band of Brothers” again tonight. Those men didn’t jump into Hell to see us come to this. The justification for these actions is that we need to be "protected" from further terrorist assaults. Democracy is not safe and it's not for wimps.

Cross posted in Women On.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Oregon has a system of initiative and referendum. Frankly, most of the measures that end up on the ballot are more self serving than anything else. But, if you can get enough signatures on a petition onto the ballot they go. Including Measure 65, I think this is one of the good ones.

Republicans and Democrats in this state don’t agree about much but they do agree that making it harder for independents to vote or get on the ballot is a VERY GOOD THING INDEED. So, the very latest VERY BAD THING is Measure 65. This would create an open primary where everybody, no matter which party you belong to, gets to vote on everybody, no matter which party they belong to.

Back in 2005 the legislature passed a bill that makes it almost impossible for independent candidates to qualify. The bill counts a signature on a qualifying petition the same as a vote. In other words if you sign a petition to let Joe Six Pack run for governor as an independent you can’t vote for someone else when the actual primary is held. Of if the independent candidate manages to qualify by petition after the primary and you voted in the primary your signature doesn’t count. Are we all lost yet? Don’t feel bad. I had to read the news story more than once to make any sense of what was going on. Then I got mad. I believe my first reaction was “what the F&*%!” Then it was “you’ve got to be kidding.”

Measure 65 would allow an open primary and the top two candidates for any office would go to the general election. It wouldn’t matter if the top two were Democrats, Republicans or wombats, their names would be on the ballot.

Don’t think of the parties as collections of people, think of them as competing brands; say Coke and Pepsi. They want to protect their market share and want to limit the shelf space of any competing “beverages.” Both parties offer a brand name to donors; that’s how they raise their money. And the donors want to get the biggest bang and the most influence for their bucks, that’s why they prefer “Coke” or “Pepsi” over any competing brands. And, I believe, the biggest reason for this interminable, mind numbing campaign season. The earlier the choices are finalized, the better chance they have of influencing policy decisions.

I’m voting yes on Measure 65. I say, take it out for spin and see how it works. Anything to break the log jam here in Oregon. A Republican can’t get on the ballot here in Oregon without pandering to the right wing of the party. Problem is, once they’re on the ballot they can’t pull enough votes from the state wide center to get elected. Even worse there are some Democratic candidates basically running unopposed. And, in my opinion, this is NOT A GOOD THING.

And if Measure 65 doesn’t work, repeal it. After all, that’s what elections are for.

Cross posted on Women On.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


There was a short story in the local paper's National section this morning and this version was on the net.

TROY, N.Y. (AP) - Who is running for president? In an upstate New York county, hundreds of voters have been sent absentee ballots in which they could vote for "Barack Osama ." The absentee ballots sent to voters in Rensselaer County identified the two presidential candidates as "Barack Osama " and "John McCain." In the United States, the best-known person named Osama is Osama bin Laden, leader of the al-Qaida terrorist group. Commissioners for the Rensselaer County Board of Elections say they regret the error but do not acknowledge in a statement exactly what the error is. The botched ballots were first reported by the Times-Union of Albany.

If we had a Whoops award on this Blog this weeks’ would go to Rensselaer County elections officials who mailed out those three hundred or so absentee ballots. It’s been called an innocent mistake. The ballots were supposedly proof read. My little X-Files loving brain is going unh huh.I type for a living and I’m more likely to type an F or a G instead of a B. that S key is a long way away and uses a totally different finger. Faces are suitably red and the ballots will be replaced, but you do find yourself wondering.

Cross posted in Women On.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


This goes deeper than a market meltdown. I don’t think we’re going to be hearing the Free Market at any cost mantra for awhile. I’ve always believed that economics has a lot in common with religion. As long as faith is strong, it seems to work. And work a lot longer than you think possible. But once that faith is shaken, look out below.

A good example is personal retirement planning. We’ve been told it’s our responsibility to make sure our retirement is secure. To invest our money wisely. To increase our savings. We’re also encouraged to buy every new widget that comes on the market. That the two goals can be mutually exclusive is like having an elephant in the living room. You can ignore it all you want. It doesn’t go away and the shit just gets deeper.

I have a 401k account. I picked a mix of funds and bonds that hopefully will not totally tank in the near future. I have not dabbled directly in the stock market; I’m mindful of my economics instructors’ advice of “if you can’t afford to lose it, don’t risk it.” And, like a lot of people, I don’t make enough to risk anymore than my 401K contribution. We have some savings and we’re probably better off than a lot of people right now. Probably comes from being a logging family. We never had three good years in a row, but we managed. And we did pretty well most of the time.

The execs from companies like Lehman Brothers justified their hefty bonuses and extremely generous compensation packages because of the risks they were taking. What risks were you taking Kemo Sabe? It was your investor’s money you were risking and few questions were asked as long as the numbers on the ticker continued to climb and compliant boards of directors didn’t ask inquire too closely. But, what goes up can come down. And right now, well the piper is in town it’s time to pay up.

I learned a fancy term when I took my business classes some years ago. Fiduciary responsibility. Geez, twelve syllables in two words. It has to worth at least five bucks.

Basically it means you manage the money entrusted to your care for your client’s benefit not yours. Now we find that the top execs at Lehman Brothers lied to their investors a week before the company entered bankruptcy. Investors were told that everything was OK. Then boom, the company is history, the employees are out the door, and the grilling before Congress begins.

Questions are good. Asking questions a couple of years ago probably would have been better but apparently no one wanted to be accused of economic heresy and the cows are not only out of the barn they’re on their way to the packing plant. How many other execs have lied? How can I make good decisions when the people who are responsible for managing my investments lie?

Maybe it’s no accident that our MBA president has treated the American people the same way these business execs have treated their stock holders.

Cross posted in Women On.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Sis forwarded an e-mail with information about John McCain’s time as a POW. I admire the man’s courage under fire. The man was a great fighter pilot. It doesn’t mean he’d make a great president. Actually, I’m not sure that what makes a great fighter pilot, necessarily makes a great president. The e-mail compared McCain to George Washington. I replied that we would have to agree to disagree on this one.

We’ve had three generals that made the transition to political greatness, or near greatness, George Washington, Andrew Jackson, (I do definitely question some of his policies) and Dwight Eisenhower.

Washington was what I’d have to call an Independent, in fact he warned against dividing into parties, Jackson was a Democrat and Eisenhower finally came to office as a Republican. Broad spectrum, that.

George Washington was also the losinginest successful general in the history of the army that he literally created from nothing. Granted he had a little (lot of) help from generals and troops from Prussia, Poland and most importantly, France. You can call ‘em Freedom Fries if you want, but without support from France we might still be carrying British passports. And, France’s support for our revolution probably helped bring on the revolution in France and another twenty years of war in Europe.

There’s an uneasy parallel here. The French economy was already shaky when they took on a war they didn’t have to fight, by supporting the American Revolution. Sigh. Start heading in one direction with an entry and just see where you end up.

Andrew Jackson is most famous for a battle that was fought after the peace treaty was signed. He’s also defied the Supreme Court ruling in support of the Cherokee and is infamous for their expulsion from their lands in the south and the Trail of Tears that lead to the Indian Territory in the west. He was the first president who was neither a Virginian or a New England lawyer. He had a famous temper, fought more than one duel, helped to create what became the Democratic Party and threatened to hang “nullifiers.”  Given the opportunity I think he would have made good on that threat.

Dwight Eisenhower was a Kansas farm boy. His parents were pacifists, but he went to West Point. He came up with a better way to solve a calculus problem and took the reprimand for not paying attention in class. In fact it seems he was about as obedient as he needed to be at as cadet. Since class standing included demerits his class standing doesn’t reflect how he did academically.

 He trained tank troops but WWI was over before he could be sent overseas. His commander in the Canal Zone was a military history junkie who put his exec through what amounted to graduate studies in history and tactics. He worked with George Patton to create the tactics for the new cavalry. Patton predicted that one day he’d be taking orders from Eisenhower. He was right.

Eisenhower commanded the American invasions of North Africa and Italy. He sacked generals who couldn’t get the job done even if they were friends or old class mates. He spearheaded the invasion of Normandy but of more importance he also successfully navigated the personal minefields of the likes of McArthur, Montgomery, Churchill, Patton and “Uncle Joe” (Truman’s label) Stalin.

He and Harry Truman also pretty much took an instant dislike to each other. Eisenhower didn’t much care for career politicians and Truman couldn’t stand career military officers. It was a match made a little lower than heaven.

During his two terms we saw, among other things, Social Security expanded, the beginnings of the interstate highway system, the beginnings of desegregation and the intensification of the cold war. The 101st Airborne was deployed twice by his orders. The first time they went to France. The second time they went to Little Rock.

Trouble is, I can also name at least one general that was a stand out on the battle field and a total disaster as a president. Ulysses S. Grant was the bulldog that led the Union to a final battlefield victory over the Confederacy. Yes, I said battlefield. We’re still working on the actual social victory. The fact that anyone gives a damn about the skin color of the Democratic candidate speaks to that. Unfortunately Grant’s abilities on the battlefield didn’t transfer to the White House. His two terms as president were a byword for corruption and cronyism that was unmatched until the Harding administration. And Harding was the bench mark for how low you could go until………..enter the “current occupant.”

I don’t think John McCain is quite the equal of the first three and I don’t want to find out if he belongs with the last group.

And, talk about irony; political success aside, Grant fought to preserve the union. The husband of the Republican candidate for Veep belongs or has belonged to a party working for Alaskan secession  and she has sought the support of that party in the past.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Too bad there isn't a mood entry for "totally pissed off." 

I haven't been posting too many straight political entries for awhile. I got tired of repeating myself, I figured other folks didn't need to read me repeating myself.  I've been spending more time reading history trying to figure out how we got in this mess. And, as the gardner's (mom) apprentice (me), frankly I've had a head full of perrenials, annuals, bark and weeds this summer. Actually the way things are going gardening and canning could be considered radical acts.


Phil Gramm, former senator from Texas, 

1. Worked like a good little beaver to rewrite the banking laws    to breach the firewalls between separate types financial institutions

2.  Tried to help deregulate the power industry leading to the Enron meltdown

3. Left the senate for a cushy job with Switzerlands' biggest bank

4. Was, and maybe still is, John McCain's point man on the economic matters and

5. When all the vultures come home to roost tells us the problems are all in our heads and we're a nation of "whiners."

WTF is wrong with this picture?

And the bail out for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae is attached to a housing bill with block grants to help people facing foreclosure and the current occupant doesn't approve of block grants so he's threatening to veto it. The man is the lamest of ducks but he can still blow up the bridge in front of the out of control train. Who needs Bin Laden to wreck the country when we're doing such a great job of cutting ourselves off at the hips.

Hold the damn election next Monday. Certify the winner on Tuesday or ASAP considering possible electoral college questions and swear the winner in the day after. Phil Gramm, former senator from Texas, 

1. Worked like a good little beaver to rewrite the banking laws    to breach the firewalls between separate types financial institutions

2.  Tried to help deregulate the power industry leading to the Enron meltdown

3. Left the senate for a cushy job with Switzerlands' biggest bank

4. Was, and maybe still is, John McCain's point man on the economic matters and

5. When all the vultures come home to roost tells us the problems are all in our heads and we're a nation of "whiners."

WTF is wrong with this picture?

And the bail out for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae is attached to a housing bill with block grants to help people facing foreclosure and the current occupant doesn't approve of block grants so he's threatening to veto it. The man is the lamest of ducks but he can still blow up the bridge in front of the out of control train. Who needs Bin Laden to wreck the country when we're doing such a great job of cutting ourselves off at the hips.

Hold the damn election next Monday. Certify the winner on Tuesday or ASAP considering possible electoral college questions and swear the winner in the day after. Under the circumstances, a gala "aren't we just the greatest thing since..... "inagural ceremony and ball would not only be tactless but tasteless in the extreme.

Monday, April 14, 2008


I stumbled across this on a website linked with lolcats. I was looking for the lolcats actually. Certainly a different take on history.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


About that last entry. I'm reminded of a quote Harry Truman attributed to his father or grandfather. I believe it went something like this. "When somebody goes out their to way to tell you how honest they are it's time to go home and lock the smokehouse. "

We've been suckered in the old shell game. While we've been looking for the terrorist pea under the cup, every smoke house in the neighborhood has been cleaned out and the crooks are well over the border. Literally.


Well, there’s another train wreck on the horizon and suddenly the hyper capitalists who were opposed the “government interference” in their business are begging for the bailouts. And of course it’ll happen because if it doesn’t the economy will tank.

What kills me is that a lot of folks saw this coming two or three years ago. I read articles in the Oregonian about the problems older neighborhoods were experiencing as the speculators bought up houses. Not to live in, not to remodel and resell, not to rent out, but leave sitting empty while the market went up so they could flip them and make a profit. The tube and papers were full of ads offering to teach me how to make a mint in real estate. I remember thinking, here’s the new gold rush and it’ll probably end the same way the others did. In the meantime, the neighbors were left with all the fun things that happen in old neighborhoods with vacant housing.

Let me backtrack a little. When my cousin couldn’t stay home anymore, mom and her niece sold the house to pay for her care. We had several options. A realtor wanted to buy the property, planned to rehab it (it needed it) and figured he could sell it for about $125,000. Since it needed about $40,000 in work, he offered $85,000; in cash.

A neighbor said he was interested, but it would have to be mortgaged. Considering the way his place looked we were 1) not sure he could get the financing he wanted 2) knew we’d have to pay for inspections that would tell us what the realtor had already told us about, dry rot and termites 3) needing cash not a mortgage. If we’d crossed our fingers and gone with the mortgage we would have had to turn around and sell the mortgage to a broker for the cash, taking a discount on the paper. In the end we went with the cash offer since it was simpler and we probably would have ended up with the same amount of money.

It’s the option of selling the paper that’s causing so many problems now. Those subprime mortgages have been sold, resold, bundled and sold again. They’re seeded through the economy like termites in the foundation of that old house. Hell, some of them are probably part of my 401K account.

Frankly, part of me hopes that the worst hits before the election. Because, if the shitstorm is bad enough no power on earth will get another Republican in the White House. And with luck it’ll wash enough of them out of both houses of congress.

In the meantime the Shrub is doing his Louis XV “Apres moi, le deluge.” Loosely translated? “After me, the shit really hits the fan. But hell, I have my pension, my oil stocks and the ranch in Texas. So long sucka’s."

What’s hard for the average citizen to realize is that the execs running the multi-national corporations may have American citizenship but their loyalty is to the corporation, not this country. And frankly, I believe they’re more dangerous than the terrorists ever could be. If a weak dollar allows overseas companies they have interest in to buy up American assets dirt cheap, it’s no matter to them who gets hurt in the fall out. They’re the ones that blew the bridge, disconnected the brakes and sent these overloaded train cars heading down the hill at ninety miles an hour with nothing to stop them.

And too many voters were too busy obsessing over who was going to survive "Survivor" and who was going to get dumped on "American Idol" to give a shit.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


I would also like to ask the former senator how the so called homosexual agenda caused any of the problems I listed in my last entry and how preventing same sex unions would solve these problems. The answer is that they didn't and it won't. All it does is show that the emperor really doesn't have any clothes on and never has.

These politicians had a chance to address these problems when they were in office and they didn't. to do so would have meant deviating from their narrow, no tax increases for any reason agenda. That is a very real agenda and enough Oregonians got tired of the legislative in fighting to kick some of their asses out of office in '06.


There is an old saying, “where there is one, there is a majority of one


I remember the campaign to limit access to marriage. I also remember that some of the supporters used the argument that the winners wouldn’t try to block civil unions if the ballot measure passed. Now the winners argue that we can’t ever rethink or revisit an issue because the majority has spoken.


I suspect that if the original ballot measure had failed, it would have been recycled to the next election. And the next, and the next, and the next. As long as there was money coming in to pay the people holding the pens and petitions.


I wrote this letter to the Oregonian this morning. It might even get published. I wrote it in response to an op-ed piece from the former state senator helping to ramrod attempts to repeal access to some kind of same sex union here in Oregon. If I could use more than a hundred and fifty words and I wanted to get more personal it might have run something like this.


Dear Ms Shannon,


……..continued from original letter.


For the record I am a single, hetero woman who has lived in Oregon all her life. I haven’t noticed any “social upheaval” because a fellow Oregonian who is a man or a woman happens to love another man or woman and wants the whole world to rejoice with them.


Here’s what I have seen.


A brokenfoster care system that can’t keep track of its charges because quite frankly the system is busted and there’s no money to fix it.


An epidemic of drug use because there’s no money for prevention or intervention. Yippee, putting the Sudafed behind the pharmacy counter may have driven out the mom and pop meth labs, it didn’t put a dent in what’s coming over the border.


A state mental hospital so old, dirty, and decrepit even the feds want to close it down.


A state more willing to spend money for prisons than schools.


A school year shorter than many other states. (and a sister and brother in law who are totally exhausted at the end of the school year, teaching is no profession for wimps.)


Conservatives who have no problem with insurance companies who pay for Viagra prescriptions but don’t pay for birth control supplies.


Families who fall on hard times only to be told that “you never should have had kids if you couldn’t support them.”


Too few places in emergency shelters for shattered families needing to get out of abusive situations.


A recession that will probably put a dent in my 401K account, at least I have one.


An increasing deduction from my paycheck for health insurance. I don’t mind, at least my employer still offers health insurance.


Frankly, Ms Shannon, I could fill a book before I got to domestic partnerships causing social upheaval. Help fix these problems and maybe I’ll listen to your arguments. Of course, by then we’ll al be a lot older and a lot grayer and we’ll discover that this particular problem was a tempest in a teapot. A very small teapot.


And after working through two pages of entries on Ms Shannon on Google I haven’t been able to find out if she was defeated for re election or didn’t run again. Either way she’s one of a stable of ‘Pubs who were elected in the mid nineties. Most of them were kicked out in the last couple of election cycles because they didn’t get anything done. See the above list. These are all problems that could have been on the table when Ms Shannon was in the state senate. I could only find one bill attached to her name in my very limited search. A bill to legalize road side memorials for accident victims. Important, perhaps. A better memorial would be a better Oregon.

Sunday, February 3, 2008


Frankly I hope nobody reads this during or after a meal. I’ll be honest I haven’t gone looking for links to the video the humane society put out. I’m sure it’s on YouTube or some place like that.


This ties in with some of the things I’ve been commenting about. There’s been a huge meat recall out here on the west coast. The LA Times had a good version of this story.


I think about the descriptions in Renault’s books of the animals offered at the festivals in early Greece. They offered the best they had and treated the animals with respect. The meat was shared with the celebrants. And frankly most of the meat people got probably came from the festivals. Heaven knows they seem to have had enough of them. Heck, we’re not vegetarians yet, but we’re as careful as can be about where the meat and poultry comes from.


But what pisses me off goes beyond the relatively small chance that one of these animals might have something like mad cow disease. It’s the unspeakable disrespect the cattle owners and this company has shown for everything and everyone involved. And this meat is specifically made for school lunches.


 I’m sure these animals weren’t in the best shape when they were shipped but they put them on the trucks anyway. To treat any creature like this is an abomination. To treat creatures meant for the food supply is a double abomination. To feed this meat to our children is……well words fail me.


And the interviews I’ve seen on the tube show people concerned about their kids getting sick, I haven’t seen any comments of concern about how the animals themselves. I don’t know about anyone else, but the idea of eating meat from these poor, tormented creatures is nauseating.


It is disrespectful to the animals, it's disrespectful to the employees who have to deal with these poor beasts, and it's disresptful to the captive consumers of this meat, our school children.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


This entry is sort of a hybrid. On the grounds that it's all political in the end, this is ending up here instead of Cottage.

I’m still on the fence, sort of. Exploring alternative ways for my spirit to walk, but not closing the door on the traditions I was raised in. I’ve found a few good books and some really helpful websites. There’s Wicca of course, (it's a fair place to start but it isn't calling me)  and the Native American wannabees. But I’ve also found sites for Celtic and Hellenic reconstructionists. There are a lot of folks out there who searching for the roots of the beliefs that Christianity and Islam displaced, often violently. They’re smart and proud and moving past the “just leave us in peace stage” to the “you are welcome to walk your path, but I’m claiming the right to walk where my spirit leads me.”

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry whenever I run across the latest claim of a “War on Christianity.” Who got the blame after September 11? After the militants of course. It was God’s judgment on America for tolerating gays, liberals, lesbians, witches, and whatever. Toleration, what a terrible word. If I keep my mouth shut, you won’t kick me. Perhaps it's time to say no. And keep saying it. And to insist on respect, no matter who we are. We expect nothing more and we will accept nothing less. And offer the same in return, when it's earned.

I sympathize with my mom, she’s happy in the church she attends. The Methodist Church does a lot of good internationally through their relief programs and locally through United Methodist Women. I don’t dispute it. It’s just getting too hard for me to put the good on one side and the centuries of destruction on the other and tell myself that it all balances out in the end. John Wesley was well into his sixties and still tromping through the snow putting the bite on passersby for donations to help the poor. He didn’t leave much in his will because “I’ve given it all away.” And what was left he directed to be divided among the six poor men chosen to carry his coffin to the cemetery.

How many William Wilberforces does it take to offset the Inquisition? 1492 was not only the year Columbus set out for Asia and ran into a new world, it was the year the Jews were expelled from a newly united, Christian ruled Spain. How many Martin Luther Kings does it take to offset over a century of persecution? They all claim inspiration from the same root, but too many of the branches appear to be twisted and fruit is tainted.

We look back at the beliefs of the past and count ourselves superior to our ancestors. We don’t haul animals to the alter and sacrifice them. But most of the meat was shared by the followers of the God or Goddess as part of the celebration. If one of our factory raised steers had the choice between our factory meat packing system and the sharp knife of a ritual sacrifice I wonder which it would choose. (probably tell us to go eat our veggies and leave him in peace, actually)

We don’t practice human sacrifice. At least not openly. What else would you call centuries of pogroms, religious wars and expulsions? What else do you call the hundreds if not thousands of people who just didn’t fit in who were accused of heresy or witchcraft? When the Thirty Years was over in the 1600’s nearly seven million Germans were dead. When the Battle of the Bulge was over and the siege of Bastogne was broken, the city was destroyed and twenty five thousand civilians were dead. Those were the ones they knew about. Another fifty thousand were never accounted for. What other name is there for the eleven million who died in Nazi Germany’s death factories? The list is endless and while some of the causes were good, we need to grieve for the lost.

Our ancestors have their own butcher’s bill to answer for. Wars of conquest, civil wars, and slavery. Makes a quite a list doesn’t it. And still, there was much good to their credit. We can claim the same. Just don’t claim that our actions are superior because they didn’t happen two or three thousand years ago.

And I think there is an element of fear in their claims. In this country and in Europe the church can no longer rely on the power of the state to compel conversion or obedience. And I thnk it scares them as much as it gratifies the rest of us.

My this entry did kind of meander didn't it? For now you’ll find me working my way through my books on herbs, doing a little research to see if there really is a way to talk to the animals, and waiting out this spiritual dry spell to end.

Monday, January 28, 2008


I’ve ended up with the work equivalent of a snow day. I checked the road we live on this morning. Frozen but chunky. I figured I could probably get out of the driveway by 9:30 or so and amble into work for a four hours or so. My supervisor called and left it up to me. It’s not what the weather is doing right now that worries me. It’s the front that’s due in later this afternoon with some wind and a mix of rain and snow. It’s not the getting to work that worries me; it’s the getting home part. So I embraced my inner chicken and stayed home. The prediction is that it will be above freezing in the morning. And above freezing for the rest of the week. It’s about five weeks since the solstice and the sun is high enough in the sky now to really make a difference. At least the ruts in the street have been leveled out a bit.


That gave me time to go out and clean off the car and use the non business end of a broom to work a lot of the snow of the shrubs and bushes. I also cleaned off a couple of areas on the ground for the birds. I think the jays listen for the sound of the peanuts in the shells hitting the feeders because they show up right away. And there must be other sounds that announce “diner’s open” because the chirping sounds around the neighborhood got louder. So the little ones will have awhile to stoke up before the next front hits.


Got a kick out of reading some of the comments on the AOL article about the Kennedy’s endorsing Obama. And actually the comments you find on any article about Obama. Since anyone with an ounce of curiosity, a shred of integrity, and some time to do a little web surfing can get the name of the church he goes to, find out that his father came from Kenya, and that he isn’t in the market for a Muslim wife (although that would be his business not mine) I have to conclude that the Swift boaters are out in force. I wonder how many of these posters are pulling a paycheck from the Republicans.


 I guess they have to do something. They’re stuck with Mitt Romney’s imitation of a robot, September 11 Giuliani, and Mike “let’s amend the Constitution to bring it in line with the Bible” Huckabee. We’ve got Bill sticking his foot in his mouth, and I don’t care what he “intended” to say, if you have to explain what you meant you might as well shut up. When you’re in a hole stop digging.


If you meant to say that LBJ managed to guilt trip congress into passing JFK’s civil rights bill after his assassination then that’s what you should have said in the first place. Add in this campaigns’ version of the Swift boaters and that sucking sound in the distance is getting awfully loud. For both parties.


And I think my last entry ties into Huckabee's campaign. I'm willig to bet that if he asked his audience to rank their concerns gay marriage would not be near the top.


And that is what's driving so many voters like me up the wall. What worries us isn't what you guys are talking about. How do we end a war that's coming up on five years? How do we get decent jobs back in this country? Why did it take so long for "official Washington" to notice a mortage crisis that's been coming on for several years? How do we get our food supply out of the hands of corporate multinationals and back in our backyards (or at least the next county) where it belongs? And it goes on and on and on.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


This is the first of what I hope will be a series of entries. I’m not sure what the subject really is and knowing me, it’ll end up somewhere I never expected it to. But, it revolves around women (and men), food, nurturing, and surprisingly how what we define as food does more than just fill our stomachs.

The combined blog never did get off the ground did it? Jobs, housecleaning, business running, pets, yards and kids tend to take priority over research projects. I still have some ideas. There’s a line from Fiddler on the Roof. The young student radical is hemming and hawing, trying to work up the gumption to propose to one of Tevye’s daughters. He tells her he wants to ask her a question, a political question, a question about marriage, actually. At her surprised “marriage is a political question?” He tells her (with a shrug and a sort of well, duh) “everything’s political.”

I have a hard time seeing food as political, but it is. The respect we show for food is reflected in how we treat the people who grow it and the people who prepare it. Small farmers and subsistence villagers are under corporate pressure all over the world. The almost endless varieties of food grains and oil seeds are being reduced to a few varieties of each. Tenant farmers are being forced off the land as coastal land is sold off for shrimp and fish farms or farm land is sold to grow crops for export. The former farmers or fisherman find themselves working for wages to buy what they used to grow or catch for themselves. Or worse, they’re forced into the city slums to compete for low wage jobs, if they can find jobs at all.

Women have made progress in this country, but we’re still the ones who do the majority of the cooking, housekeeping, chauffeuring, and everything else it takes to keep a family running.  I know my mom worked just as hard as a stay at home mom as she ever did cooking in a dorm kitchen at the U of O. But her cooking, cleaning, gardening, sewing, preserving and child care work never appeared on a balance sheet because she didn’t get paid for it.

I’m coming to believe that there is something fundamentally, perhaps fatally flawed in an economy that values a parent’s contribution to the state of our nation if there is a paycheck involved and doesn’t even take notice when no money changes hands. Goddess knows I don’t want to go back to a time when a woman’s place was only in the home. But I pray for the day when contributions everyone makes to our families are counted, whether money changes hands or not.

And I also pray for the day when the definition of family goes beyond husband, wife, 2.5 kids, a dog, a cat, a minivan, and a house in the suburbs with a white picket fence. It already has for many of us. It’s the getting the rest of the kids to agree on who’s allowed in the sandbox that seems to be sticking in some folks’ craws. Here’s hoping they wake up before they choke the rest of us.  There’s more to family than a shared set of genes and more to love than any of us can imagine.

Anyway, I thought I’d pour a little water in the sandbox and start building a sand castle. If somebody wants to help build one castle, come and play. If you want to build your own castle and build a bridge between the two, it works for me. Heck, if you want to build the village tavern, I’ll stop by for a drink.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Consumer or customer. Is it potato or potahto? I’m coming to believe that the words are not interchangeable. There’s a kind of mutual feeling to the word customer. There is a feeling of equality. Dare I say community? It implies that your “custom” is important and perhaps appreciated. A feeling of taking the time to make sure it’s done right. The word has a feeling of choice. I choose to make this purchase because it fills a need that I have. A retailer is treating you as a customer when you're told "we don't have what you're looking for right now, but we're getting new items in next week, can I give you a call after I check the shipment?"

The word consumer is giving me a whole different feeling these days. I get the feeling that I’m supposed to get in, pick the product that’s the closest to what I’m actually am looking for, get in line, pay for it and get out. News stories throughout the year that emphasize the failure of certain corporations, Wal-Mart for example, to reach their projected sales figures imply that it’s the consumer’s fault for not buying enough. Buy stuff, buy stuff to store your stuff, then buy more stuff to fill the space left by organizing the old stuff.

Mom and I look at a lot of cute things around the holidays or for use in the yard during the four months or so when it’s actually warm enough to do things in the evening in this part of the country. The make or break is “where do we put “?” when we aren’t using it. (Leave yard furniture out around here and it will be green by next summer. The state plant of western Oregon should be moss.) The question is usually a breaker not a maker. Or what are we going to move out to make room for this? Another sale breaker. J

The media onslaught is worst during the holidays. The Black Friday Shopping Frenzy is played over and over on the news. If one fifth of the potential customers are shopping, that means four fifths of us aren’t. We’re home sleeping off our Thanksgiving dinners, watching the parades, breaking out the Christmas carols, reading, playing with the kids, taking a walk if the weather permits, tormenting the cats, whatever; the stuff will still be there when I'm ready to look for it. And if it isn't? I probably wasn't meant to buy that item anyway. LOL

*Note for further research. Which corporations hold stock in media and also own or hold stock in major retailers or drug companies. That would help explain the news stories that emphasize buy, buy, buy stories. Or the “news” releases for new drugs that are barely disguised commercials.

Monday, January 14, 2008


Prep your journal article, either as a rough draft or in your journal. Decide on a good description for the link you want to use and start your journal entry. I might put in Lisa’s Journal or Coming to Terms. (Lisa’s the one who told me how to do these)


Open the page you ant to link to and right click on the page. A drop down menu will open, move the cursor to properties and select. This will open a window. At properties right click again and choose select all and then choose copy. Click on ok at the bottom to close the window.


Return to your journal entry. High light the text that describes the link you want to do. Click on the insert links icon. This opens a tiny little window. Get rid of the tiny little highlighted http and paste the web address of your page into the window and hit ok. This should insert the link you want. Bold your text, put it in caps, make the font bigger, whatever you think will draw attention to your text. Have fun.


With Lisa's help I finally learned how to do links. Just double click over the text in any color other than black. It should show an underline and you'll be able to click and go. I'll try to remember to highlight the text or capitalize it or something so it shows up better.


Lisa writes with feeling about dignity or the lack thereof we’re facing. Lack of community and modern technology have created an unholy alliance that allows us to let it all hang out because nobody knows who we are and go just about anywhere we want in order to do it.

We’ve always pushed the envelope. Cromwell’s commonwealth of plainclothes, closed theaters, whitewashed churches and a ban on celebrating Christmas is offset by the Restoration. Complete with silks, satins, outrageous wigs (and that was for the men), the comedies of Wycherly, and a king who was too much a gentleman to ignore a pretty (and willing partner). Charles II fathered at least a dozen children, acknowledged them all, yet died without a legitimate heir. He was also too much a gentleman to put aside a barren queen.

Regency excess was followed by Victorian whalebone. Clingy empire waistlines gave away to corsets and crinolines. Seventeenth century lace and frills (again for the men) gave way to sober shirtfronts and starched collars.

 America’s Gilded Age was a glittering era of starched shirt fronts, bared shoulders, glittering gems and Robber Barons. The Grover Cleveland of the 1880’s joined list of public men with private affairs (and children born on the “wrong” side of the blanket) that included Benjamin Franklin and Alexander Hamilton.

The Roaring Twenties gave way to a worldwide economic collapse followed by a World War followed by what I guess you could call the fit in at any cost fifties.

Through the years there was an unwritten code that allowed the private affairs of public men, and women in some cases, to stay private. Was this wink, wink hypocrisy? Or was it simple acknowledgement that no one is perfect? Most of us tittered when Bill Clinton claimed he smoked, but didn’t inhale. Perhaps it would have been better if he’d just said “mind your own business.”

The generation that helped win WWII was also the generation of the Organization Man. If the corporation said “move to LA” the answer wasn’t “but my whole family lives in Chicago.” It was “how soon to I need to be there.” The family scattered and the folks got too old or tired of shoveling snow and moved to Florida. We lost not only family ties but community ties.

We traded the Ma and Pa diner on Main Street for the McDonalds near the new freeway exit. We gave up the folks who knew our names for the harried sales help with name tags. We gave up the gal or guy behind the counter who knew just how we liked our coffee, that the eggs should be over easy and the hash browns extra crisp for fix your own coffee, eggs cooked to fit a biscuit and potato patties in greasy little baggies.

We traded the local shoe store where they knew your size and the clerk would probably tell everybody at the pub about your new pumps for do it yourself at Fred Meyer.

We traded the local hardware store and the guy behind the counter who probably helped you plan your new kitchen and would sell you three widgets if you needed them for plastic packaging with two more than you needed.

We traded the local meat market where the meat in the back was probably chewing grass in the next county  a couple of weeks ago and the butcher knew who was in the market for soup bones for CO2 treated meat in plastic packaging and E coli.

We traded the anticipation of the first local tomatoes of the summer for red “things” that look like tomatoes and taste like plastic.

There were three or four TV channels and we all watched Ed Sullivan or the Untouchables, or Laugh In. Folks knew which friends or relatives probably wouldn’t answer the phone when PBS ran the original Forsyte Saga back in the sixties. It was a community of sorts. New shows had at least half a season to find an audience, maybe even a season or two.

Now we have I don’t know how many channels and shows that don’t find an audience within the first couple of weeks simply disappear. They’re gone before I even know they’re there. I loved the X-Files. After I stumbled over it half way through the second season and eagerly looked forward to any reruns from season one so I could catch up.

We traded standing on the stool watching and “helping” mom make dinner for soccer moms, video games and little kids who have to have their moms figure out when they have time to play together.

We forgot, if we ever realized it, that businesses are in the business of selling “something.” The move towards preserved prepared foods had been slowly growing for over a century before WWII. And the first efforts at preserved foods were to supply the military, long distance shipping and the pioneer trade. There was a huge need during the war for food that could be prepared and preserved or shipped as mixes for military use.

After the war there was all these consumables needing consumers. We found ourselves with a new label. We were no longer customers we were consumers and Madison Avenue stepped up to the plate. The cake from the mix was “in” and do it yourself was out. Even if the home made cake tasted better. Somehow dinner in a can was trendier than what you cooked in your own pan at home. There was this new line in the national ledger. The consumer price index. And forty years later we found out that what we’d been consuming had more in common with the chemistry lab than the pantry just off the kitchen.

We woke up one day and discovered that the local shops where your custom (patronage) mattered were gone. We ended up with big box stores that advertise gift bags for the first five hundred customers who show up at 2 AM on Black Friday and are “shocked” when everybody stampedes through the door trying to be first. And happy as hell that the stampede made the regional cable news channel for a bit of free advertising. They ran it over and over and over.......

And the elected hired help has cooked the books so that only the finished products and the money used to buy them are counted in the national ledgers. Mom staying home and baking bread or cookies isn’t even a blip on the radar screen. Mom going out and working so she can buy bread and cookies for her family is part of the Gross National Product. Jerry was the guy downtown who sold hardware, not Jerry’s, the big box store across town that you can use for your daily walk.

I don’t want to go back to the days when we had to make everything ourselves, a bad harvest meant everybody in the neighborhood might go hungry, or it taking a week to get to Portland by horse and wagon. There has to be a balance between being a consumer and a customer. We aren’t going to be treated with respect or allowed any kind of dignity unless we demand it and work towards a day when the threat to take our“custom” someplace else means something.

You go girl. I'm not sure we have time to wait for the pendulem to swing back.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


And here I thought it was our democracy. This link was provided by another member of our J Land community. I'm all for letting as many vote as can and letting it all shake out in the end. But that's just me.

Monday, January 7, 2008


I was searching through my archives for another entry and came across this entry from the 2006 election season. Parts of it are still appropriate. And I got a kick out of writing it the first time, so sue me. And some of it kind of ties to my earlier entries this week.


Anybody who’s read my journals for awhile knows that I have a rather twisted sense of humor. Spending an evening researching the Church of The Flying Spaghetti Monster can leave you looking at some things in a slightly different way.


I suspect that we take the Creator/Creatress far more seriously than God/dess takes themselves. The human foot and back don’t suggest an Intelligent Designer. It gives me the impression of somebody who was definitely making things up as they went along. I mean flat feet and bad backs. You’d think somebody could have planned things a little better.


And take the human body itself. I mean you have a two legged, barely furred critter. Whether it's above the waist or below the waist, there are some very sensitive umm projections bobbing or sagging in the wind. SOMEBODY had a seriously twisted sense of humor. Clothing may have been invented for protection, but I’m sure it was adapted very quickly for “show.” You may have seen portraits of Henry VIII. The young Henry was a tall, slender athlete. Henry in old age definitely needed all the velvet and satin camouflage he could get his pudgy bejeweled hands on.


Can you imagine any of our politicians, broadcasters, or religious leaders being taken seriously with their (sniggering, hand-waving) willies waving or in many cases sagging in public. How seriously would anyone take Rumsfeld if he had to testify in the buff. How about taking the generals out of their beribboned uniforms when they appear to testify before congress or announce their latest victory is just around the corner plan to the media.

In fact how seriously would you take any politician if they had to do their stump speeches in the altogether. No lecterns allowed. I know. I’ve got a new slogan. “No clothes for congressmen, or any other employee of the people.” I bet the speeches would be a lot shorter and more to the point

Sunday, January 6, 2008


There's faith and there's religion and religion is hopelessly entangled in politics so this little piece goes on the political side of my little piece of J Land.


We did manage to meet Lisa and her wonderful hubby Matt for lunch up in Salem. Salem is about midway between Springfield and Scappoose so it’s a good place to meet. Lancaster mall is close to the freeway and there are enough decent places to eat to provide a different place to meet and keep in touch.


Something she said while we were talking about everything under the sun has sort of stuck with me. It’s the Christmas season after all, but how can you really prove that a rabbi from the back of beyond in Roman era Galilee even existed. It’s hard to realize in our paper plagued era just how little has survived from that era.


The gospels have Mary and Joseph going to Bethlehem for a census. Presumably some record was made, we’re talking about taxes after all, but where was it stored? If the tax information was stored in Jerusalem, tough luck, the city was destroyed in 70 AD at the end of a protracted siege. Any records there would have been lost. Palestine was attached to Syria for the purpose of taxation (biblically at least) but that part of the world has been sacked almost as often as Palestine, again paper burns, gets dumped in the cistern, or gets trampled under foot. No help there.


Then there’s the other end of the story. Palestine was never an easy province for the Romans to control. From what I’ve read, there was a rebellion large enough to require an army to put it down about once a generation. And the low level resistance was constant. If the authorities sent a notice of every rebel or potential rebel executed for opposing the rule of Rome or the descendants of Herod, they’d have run out of room in the archives. And again, any records kept in Jerusalem would have been destroyed when the city fell. The Romans were thorough. I’ll give them that. They were a lot of things. For one thing, their armies were really good at ancient population control.


So, we can’t find an ancient piece of paper anywhere that mentions the name of Joshua Bar Joseph. We can’t prove he existed. We can’t prove he didn’t. What we can see is how the teachings attached to his name have been used and misused over the centuries. Perhaps what’s important is the message, and how it’s used (or misused now) not proving how it got here.



Seem to have hit a dry spell. I have ideas but the words just don’t want to come. Ah well, it happens. It’s been damp and chilly for the last couple of weeks. Didn’t get a white Christmas but we did get a little snow yesterday afternoon. Some of those flakes were the size of quarters. Heck it snowed for an hour before it even started to stick, and it’s mostly gone by now.


Nothing like the snow that’s been falling in other areas. Heck, it’s not even supposed to get below freezing this week. And I’ve only had to scrape my windshield a couple of times to get ready for work. That’s really unheard of around here. We even missed most of the high winds earlier in the week.


Some of the bulbs are all ready peaking through the ground. The little snow droppy flowers under the dogwood are all ready up. They’re usually the first. Three more weeks or so and we’ll be out of it. Oh, yeah we can have six inches of snow in February, but it’s gone the next day. The crocuses do look like they want to find the rewind button though. Little purple and yellow blooms poking their heads above the snow.


One batch of the family did make it over for Christmas. Sis and my BIL are both teachers. They work hard and pour everything they have into their work. By the time vacations roll around, they’re both pretty whipped. And we’re all getting to the age where your bed and your favorite chair are where you want to be if at all possible. And bless him, their oldest wants to be a teacher too. If he’s anything like his folks, he’ll do fine.


The foreign new depresses me. The local news is almost at depressing. I’ve been working on a history of ancient <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Rome. I have to say that it is depressing as all get out to find this wonderful little footnote in Will Durant’s Caesar and Christ. The brother of the Roman politician and philosopher, Cicero wrote a manual on electioneering technique that included this: “It was for this campaign that Cicero’s brother Quintus drew up for him a manual of electioneering technique. ‘Be lavish in your promises. Men prefer a false promise to a flat refusal……Contrive to get some new scandal aired against your rivals for crime, corruption, or immorality.’ “ And this was more that two thousand years ago.


It’s enough to depress a terminally optimistic hyena.


On that wonderful note. ‘night.