Saturday, July 30

If not for the Infield Fly Rule ...

... I would never have:

  • Heard a magnificent rendition of the national anthem sung by the incomparable TRP

  • Seen that Mrs. Swankette does not throw like a girl. Note to self - extreme care should be observed within 90' of her presence regarding "shmutz."

  • Known that I was not the only groom to have his voice catch while standing at the altar. Who said men aren't allowed to be emotional? Hah!

  • Learned that life, the Trinity, and baseball really do have a striking ... err ... yeah ... surprising number of parallels.

  • Made a new friend in Idaho.

  • Hear a person I'd only just met say, "Has [female person] ever told you about the guy who shaved his legs with her razor?" and then respond to my denial with, "Oh. Never mind."

  • Discovered that a wardrobe malfunction can be solved with camouflage pants.

  • Found the one man in the world who could sing this song to his bride on their wedding day and survive the experience.

  • Attended the founding of a potential revolutionary cell complete with coffee-spewing shower heads.

  • Appreciated the irony of an agnostic guy and a Jewish woman ushering people to receive communion.

  • Heard an impromptu a cappella concert in the middle of the night on a sidewalk overlooking Puget Sound.

What has the Infield Fly Rule done for you lately?

Sunday, July 24

Showing my age?

Bumper sticker seen today:

Never thought I'd miss Nixon

Somehow that resonated more strongly than I'd have expected. Maybe it's because my first real memory of politics is my parents explaining to me that he had to resign because he lied. He was a bad man because he lied.


Why does that seem so familiar right now?

Tuesday, July 19

Goodbye Roe?

So. The Nominee is ....

John G. Roberts, Jr.

I can't say I can find much about his political leanings beyond this (Wikipedia is my friend):
In a brief before the Supreme Court (Brief for the Respondent at 13, Rust v. Sullivan, 500 US 173, 1991), he stated, "we continue to believe that Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled."

Ouch. That's not a good sign.

That aside, I am greatly disappointed to see the nominee is a white male. George II has chosen once again to take a regressive step when he could have chosen to at least stay level (with a female nominee) or even moved forward (with a non-Caucasian nominee).

But he didn't.

Why am I not surprised?

"British Muslims"

This is interesting ... NPR this morning aired its usual daily story on the London bombings on Morning Addiction. The story was mostly about how Blair was meeting with leading British Muslim leaders - a good thing but not what I found interesting. What I found interesting was that they did not say "of Pakistani descent" in the story. They instead used the term "British Muslims" to refer to the young men.

Morning Edition, July 19, 2005 · British Prime Minister Tony Blair meets with Muslim leaders in Britain, as his cabinet considers new legislation for combating terrorism. The four chief suspects in the London attacks were all British Muslims. Blair is looking for new ways to keep young Britons from what he has called the "evil ideology" of Islamist extremism.

That's progress. The story lacks the emphasis on the ethnicity of the suspects and instead points to their religion. Since these sort of bombings are religiously-motivated (as opposed to ethnically-motivated) that's relevant and appropriate. I'm still uneasy at the news media's habit of stereotyping, but at least this is better.

Friday, July 15

"... of Pakistani descent"

Does it bother anyone that the men accused of the London bombings - all of whom are British natives - are consistently referred to using the qualifier "of Pakistani descent"?

Was Timothy McVeigh ever referred to as "a US native of [insert Irish or whatever anglo ethnicity here] descent"? Of course not. Yet even NPR consistently seems to be downplaying the fact that the men in London were all British natives and instead highlighting their ethnicity.

The real story here is the parallel between McVeigh - a home-grown zealot turned terrorist - and these men from Leeds - home-grown zealots turned terrorists. Instead the news coverage all appears to be reporters desperately trying to make the as-yet-unsubstantiated links to al Qaeda. Here we have a striking similarity to the worst act of terrorism committed on US soil prior to 9/11 and the London bombings and nobody seems to be paying attention.

Shame on you, reporters and editors, for deliberately choosing to publish stories that downplay the fact that this was an act of domestic terrorism and instead highlighting the ethnicity of the suspects. You're feeding the very racism and xenophobia that is part of the problem. These men were born and raised in England. They were British, dammit! Quit trying to blame the Pakistani people - they have enough troubles as it is. Quit spinning the story in a way that is guaranteed to do even more damage to the Muslim communities throughout the western world.

Thursday, July 14

Civil Unions Rally

Rally At The Capitol

Thanks to Adam for the link.

Please, Disney

... don't screw it up!

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe

These are the books that taught me to love reading. I adored them when I first read them as a child.

I can't underestimate my desire that Disney doesn't turn them into some homogenized, sanitized, AhMurkin-ized crap. It may be a forlorn hope, but I'm clinging to it dammit!

One slight ray of hope ... Amy Lee of Evanescence is listed as one of the music writers. You'd think Disney would take one look at her neo-gothic self and slam the door in her face ... but I guess not. Maybe that means the film will actually have a bit of bite after all.

Tuesday, July 12

Go Kate Go!

This is and excerpt from an editorial in the Eugene Register-Guard. Read the whole thing - it's worth it. Today is one of those days when I'm proud to be one of Kate Brown's constituents.

If Senate Bill 1000 dies in the Oregon House of Representatives, its legislative pallbearers won't present themselves as opponents of civil unions or as defenders of discrimination against gays and lesbians. Instead, they'll point to Oregon voters. They'll say that SB 1000, approved 19-10 Friday by the state Senate, conflicts with Measure 36, the constitutional amendment approved last November that prohibits same-sex marriages.

But it doesn't. SB 1000 doesn't allow same-sex marriages like the ones licensed in Multnomah County last year - licenses that have been nullified by Oregon courts. It doesn't allow any marriages at all. What it does is allow people to enter into a contractual relationship with rights, responsibilities and protections "substantially equivalent" to those gained through marriage. It also bars discrimination against gays and lesbians in housing, employment and public accommodations, with exemptions for religious or sectarian organizations.

Is that same-sex marriage by another name? Senate Majority Leader Kate Brown, D-Portland, answered that question with another during Friday's debate: "Is anyone on the Senate floor willing to trade their marriage for a civil union?" There were no takers.

Good question. Speaker Minnis? Would you care to respond? Of course not, you'd rather hide behind your big important desk and pretend that people who look, act, love, or think differently than you don't exist. "Ooh! They're scary. Make them go away."


To my Red State friends

I got this today from my good buddy Gyro Gearloose. I have no idea if the stats are legit or not, but they are sure as hell believable. Don't know where it came from or who wrote it, but if I ever find out who the author is he or she gets a tasty Northwest micro-brew on me.

To my Red State friends:
We've decided we're leaving. We intend to form our own country, and we're taking the other Blue States with us. In case you aren't aware, that includes Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and the entire Northeast. We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation, and especially to the people of the new country of New California. [Err .... as an Oregonian, I'm not so fond of their nomenclature. But us Blue-Staters are rational reasonable folks. I'm sure we'll work that out.]

To sum up briefly: You get Texas, Oklahoma and all the slave states. We get stem cell research and the best beaches. We get Elliot Spitzer. You get Ken Lay. We get the Statue of Liberty. You get Dollywood. We get Intel and Microsoft. You get WorldCom. We get Harvard. You get Ole' Miss.

We get 85 percent of America's venture capital and entrepreneurs. You get Alabama. We get two-thirds of the tax revenue; you get to make the red states pay their fair share. Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22 percent lower than the Christian Coalition's, we get a bunch of happy families. You get a bunch of single moms.

Please be aware that Nuevo California will be pro-choice and anti-war, and we're going to want all our citizens back from Iraq at once. If you need people to fight, ask your evangelicals. They have kids they're apparently willing to send to their deaths for no purpose, and they don't care if you don't show pictures of their children's caskets coming home. We do wish you success in Iraq, and hope that the WMDs turn up, but we?re not willing to spend our resources in Bush's

With the Blue States in hand, we will have firm control of 80 percent of the country's fresh water, more than 90 percent of the pineapple and lettuce, 92 percent of the nation's fresh fruit, 95 percent of America's quality wines (You can serve French wines at state dinners) 90 percent of all cheese, 90 percent of the high tech industry, most of the U.S. low-sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and condors, all the Ivy and Seven Sister schools, plus Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Cal Tech and MIT.

With the Red States, on the other hand, you will have to cope with 88 percent of all obese Americans (and their projected health care costs), 92 percent of all U.S. mosquitoes, nearly 100 percent of the tornadoes, 90 percent of the hurricanes, 99 percent of all Southern Baptists, virtually 100 percent of all televangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Bob Jones University, Clemson and the University of Georgia.

We get Hollywood and Yosemite, thank you.

Additionally, 38 percent of those in the Red states believe Jonah was actually swallowed by a whale, 62 percent believe life is sacred unless we're discussing the death penalty or gun laws, 44 percent say that evolution is only a theory, 53 percent that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and 61 percent of you crazy people believe you are people with higher morals then we lefties.

By the way, we're taking the good pot, too. You can have that dirt weed they grow in Mexico.

Saturday, July 9

More eloquent than I ...

I've been unsuccessfully trying for the past few days to find a way of expressing my feelings about the terrorist bombings in London this week. Invariably, everything I came up with sounded too much like the "blame the victim" tactics so often used in rape trials, and equally unfair. Fortunately, there are others out there who are far more eloquent than I could hope to be:

Why do Americans think it is heroic and honorable for our troops to massacre Iraqis with bombs, missiles, gunships, tanks, and heavy machine guns, but cowardly and barbaric when our victims fight back in the only way they can?

The US and Britain started this fight, not Iraq. We should be ashamed that Bush and Blair deceived us, tricked us into a pointless and unjust war, and that innocent people on both sides are paying with their lives and limbs for Bush's and Blair's lies. Our real anger should be directed at Bush and Blair who are responsible for the deaths and destruction.

The American and British people had better wake up, depose their immoral leaders, and put a halt to this war.

Who said this? A Reagan appointee: Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury. Thanks to The Rambling Taoist for pointing me at this little gem.

The economic, social, and military imperialism that the US and its allies have inflicted upon the rest of the world are feeding this hatred. They don't hate "our freedom" as the fear-mongers in D.C. so love to claim, they hate us because we bomb their cities, kill their children and oppress their peoples. We prop up petty dictators, we fund assassinations, we tear down governments, we destabilize vast regions of the globe for selfish short term political or economic gains. We have declared open war on an enemy that is so poorly-defined that it has given our leaders carte blanche to attack anyone they wish, regardless of their actual guilt or innocence, with only the flimsiest of excuses.

They don't hate us because we're free. They hate us because we're killing them indiscriminately!

Civil rights and the people who hate them

Oregon Senator Jeff Kruse said, in regards to the civil unions bill passed this week in the Oregon Senate, the bill is "another step down the road to Armageddon." He then went on to equate homosexuality to pedophilia. Sen. Kruse, you disgust me. Your hatred and spite and ignorance are an affront to the basic dignity and humanity of every Oregonian. Your blatantly unjust and hate-spawned "logic" is the equivalent of equating Islam with terrorists or equating Christianity with the Aryan Nation.

Bravo to Republican Senators Ben Westlund and Frank Morse for recognizing basic human rights and doing the right thing for the people of Oregon. "We are on the front lines of the civil rights struggle of this generation," Westlund said. "One of the freedoms that should be afforded to all human beings is the freedom to form families." Thank you, gentlemen, for having the courage to stand up with your Democratic colleagues do the honorable thing, especially when it's not the dogmatic Party Line. You remind me that there may yet be a glimmer of hope that the Republican Party might return to the ideals of leaders like Senator Hatfield, Governor McCall, and Clay Myers when they fought to remove to remove segregation from the party platform and advocated for civil rights.

House Speaker Karen Minnis said that the bill will not come to a vote in "her" chamber. "Her" chamber? As a citizen and voter in Oregon, I vehemently object. That is emphatically NOT "her" chamber. The House chamber, as well as the Senate chamber and the rest of the capitol, are the property of the people of Oregon. Neither she, as Speaker of the House, nor the Governor, nor any other elected official has the right to claim ownership over the halls of the capitol. To do so is the heights of arrogance that have come to typify the current political leadership both here in Oregon and nationally.

Sen. Krause and Speaker Minnis, have you forgotten that you as elected officials are public servants? That you serve at the consent of the governed? You don't own that seat - the people own it. The real owners of that seat and that building and that institution have generously offered you the privilege of using that seat to represent them. You abuse that privilege in your small-minded arrogance and spite. Your actions are deeply hurtful to the very people you were supposedly elected to serve.

Tuesday, July 5

Old, yet contemporary

I call on you to read the following excerpts from an old document and tell me if any of these things resemble a current world leader.

I'll group them in two parts. First, the things inflicted upon the leader's own nation:
  • He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

  • He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

  • He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands

  • He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers

  • He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices [...]

  • He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

Second, the acts this leader has inflicted upon another nation:
  • He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation

  • For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us

  • For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states

  • For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world

  • For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments

  • For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever

  • He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us

  • He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people

  • He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation

  • He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers [...] whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In closing:

    In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

    That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Tom, 'ol buddy, you're as right about George II as you were about George III, even 229 years later.

Not quite "muppet porn" but ...

So I was looking at the stats for the blog here and I see a referring page that I'm not sure I really want to know more about:

For those of you not up on Oregon legislative politics, Mrs. Minnis is the Republican Speaker of the House in the state Legislature. Since I've referred to her here previously, I'm not at all surprised at a search hit on her name, but ... umm ...

An alternate career, Mrs. Minnis? What do your suburban conservative soccer mom constituents think of that?

Monday, July 4

Patriotism vs. Nationalism

In the spirit of the day, A and I had a long discussion regarding the meanings of the words "patriotism" and "nationalism" and how they differ.

The conclusion we arrived at surprised me. I thought I had a solid distinction in my mind regarding the two terms. Until A started asking me to define them. I deliberately did not go grab a dictionary because I felt it was important to explore what I thought rather than what's in some book. I found myself suddenly at a loss. All I could do is describe it by using metaphors. Knowing that using a metaphor for a definition is inherently flawed, I started to wonder if I was unconsciously relying on my own biases rather than an objective definition. Several very interesting hours later, I think we came to a mutual conclusion.

The conclusion: "nationalism" and "patriotism" are in fact the same thing. The only difference between the terms is whether the observer agrees or disagrees with the action. I argue that if the observer agrees it's "patriotism"; whereas if the observer disagrees it's "nationalism". One person's nationalism is another's patriotism. "Patriotism" is a politically useful term with positive connotations to be hung on actions that, if performed by someone else in another country, would be labeled as "nationalism" with its inherent negative connotations.

Is it patriotic or nationalistic to slap a flag sticker on the back of one's car? Is it patriotic or nationalistic to slap another sticker below it saying "Love it or leave!" or "You're with us or against us"? Is Lee Greenwood's often-played song "I'm Proud To Be An American" patriotic or nationalistic? It all depends on who you ask.

"Enough is enough. I quit."

In an attempt to lighten an exceedingly-gloomy holiday weekend (sorry, patriotism is not exactly my cup of tea these days), I stumbled onto this editorial today:

The party's over for betrayed Republican

Yes, there really are Republicans (and ex-Republicans) out there who still believe in the Party of Lincoln and Hatfield. It's easy to forget that in these days of extremist political dogma and ideological witch-hunts. There are real human beings who can believe in taking a conservative path while being open and willing to do what's right and reasonable.

Thank you Mr. Chaney for standing up and speaking your mind so eloquently. I may not agree with many of your beliefs, but I damn sure that if there were more people like you leading the Republican party this nation would be a hell of a lot better off - real cooperation and compromise in the legislative halls, a focusing of our collective efforts on important things like keeping our species from killing itself (and taking the rest of the planet with it) instead of persecuting our own citizens for who they want to live with or how they choose to die.

Friday, July 1

Visions of 2008

Thousands of internees all lined up in our gray paper coveralls in the cafeteria of the Liberal Re-Education Camp in the ANWAR oil fields on Alaska's North Slope (established after Justice Alberto Gonzales cast the deciding vote in the landmark Guantanamo Decision back in 2005). We're suffering through our mandatory thrice-daily patriotic dose of Fox News while we choke down McMeat & McPotatoes (ketchup is too a vegetable!). Patriotic music ("I'm proud to be an UhMurkin ... ") blares from the always-on giant screen televisions on all four walls. The huge glowing screens show Chief Justice Rehnquist's cold gray hands (he's not dead, he has a feeding tube!) placing the Federal Crown on George II's head. Karl Rove stands behind him (shh! He's not really there - you can't see him!) struggling against the rigor to guide the mortified Chief Justice's hands while Justices Scalia and Thomas applaud along with the rest of the Royal Council. In the background, flags wave over the still-radioactive rubble of the Senate chambers left over from the Frist Filibuster Buster Incident several years back.

After dinner, the daily Loyalty Oath. Here's to hoping we don't all get shipped off to the uranium strip mines in Colorado ...

Impending cloud of doom

I just heard on NPR that Sandra Day O'Connor is stepping down. O'Connor?! With William Rehnquist's likely departure, that provides George II with not one (as we feared) but two seats on the Supreme Court to fill with his hyperconservative neocon zealots. 20% of one of the most powerful bodies in the nation. His (or more likely Rove's) choices for the replacement justices have the capacity for doing deeper and more lasting damage than anything else George II has done up until now.

Senator Wyden, here's to you and your compatriots in the Senate filibustering your endearingly-geeky lisping heart out, because the filibuster is about all stands in the way of the dissolution of whatever semblance of open honest government by the people we have left.

Wanna bet Frist's gonna trot out his little nuke again?