Friday, October 31, 2008

Photo Friday.....

Two hours and twenty-eight minutes left of Halloween... (on the west coast)

07 punkins

We don't carve pumpkins anymore... We glitter 'em.

Friday Photos -- The Grapes Of Maine

Concord grapes left behind for the wintering birds.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Meeting Your Meat

The dialogue I incited about hunting (my cross-post of the essay on “Better Terms” drew comment from a real live professional hunting blogger…) has had some surprising consequences. It’s a topic that has, like religion and politics, a lot of passionate feelings on both sides of the issue. Who knew the right to kill would be so fiercely defended by its adherents? And who knew I would be branded some kind of heretic for hinting condemnation of the practice?

Yes…passions ran high. Vehement, valid points were made by both sides. And I think perhaps part of the answer is that when the passion—or the compassion—goes away, as Silverdoe pointed out, it’s time to hang up the gun.

As well, I think there needs to be more passion, even compassion, associated with going to the store and buying a piece of pre-butchered, plastic-wrapped meat. Forget intending to make some kind of connection to the animal we’re about to eat; we have a hard enough time connecting to a human being in the meat department. As Cynthia pointed out, where we used to at least have skilled, knowledgeable tradesman standing behind the meat counters at our grocery stores, we now have glorified stock boys. Where we used to be able to ask the in-store butcher to cut and wrap a specific size or piece meat for us, we now have the choice of picking some “mystery cut” off the counter and hoping it will suit our needs, or just skipping it altogether. We invariably end up buying more than we need, just in order to make sure we have enough. (I’m sure that is no accident on the grocer’s part…)

I challenge anyone to walk into a Wal-Mart, Safeway, Albertson’s, or whatever the Huge Grocery Chain is in your area, and pick up off the shelves the exact cut of meat called for in any higher-end cookbook. And if you want to buy a small amount of something, like two chicken breasts or a four-ounce steak, you are going to pay through the nose. Again, it’s no accident that the bigger the package, the cheaper the meat. They tout it as a money-saving package for large families…but it really is a ploy to boost the ticket totals. They’re probably even hoping the remaining meat will sit in your freezer until it gets so old you’ll throw it out. Or they’ll really hit the jackpot if you use what you need out of a large package and forget to deal with the rest before it goes bad. How many times has this happened to you?

We have become a nation of mindless consumers, of meat as well as just about every other commodity in existence. We don’t know or care where it comes from, we just have to have it. We don’t think twice when a retailer forces us to buy more than we need in order to make us think we’re actually saving money. We don’t miss the image of half a cow or plucked chickens hanging from the ceiling at the butcher shop. It’s so much easier, much less “gross,” to pay $14 a pound for a little blob of red stuff tightly wrapped in neat, sterile-looking plastic. With the paper towels and hand sanitizer located conveniently above the rows of shiny packages of mystery meat.

When we first moved to Oregon, we scoffed at what we considered the out-dated, latent “hippie” culture in Eugene. We roared with laughter when a teacher at the community college told her class (of which hubs was a member) that her Thanksgiving meal was going to include a turkey, but it was going to be locally, organically grown, and butchered “with full respect for the animal.” After the self- examination I’ve experienced since posting my anti-hunting essay, I don’t find that funny at all anymore.

It’s only taken twenty-five years to finally get that message…


According to George Will's column this morning, Americans spend more on potato chips in one year than the combined spending of all the candidates running for president and the congress in the last two years. I wonder if that's just potato chips or all chippy type snacks? Still boggles the mind though.

Just to put things in perspective when folks complain about how much money the Obama campaign has raised (and spent). And what the McCain campaign probably wished they had to spend.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Making the Right Choices for Kids...Or Not

There are parents out there who think they are responding to a real threat to their children’s health by NOT having them immunized, citing incidents of children becoming ill and even dying after getting their shots.

Mothers have hissy-fits about inappropriate books in school libraries, but let their kids sit for hours playing violent video games…

We have experts writing books about the dangers of allowing gay individuals to adopt children or teach in public schools…

And then there’s the guy who thought it would be wise to give his eight-year-old son a crack at handling that Uzi at the gun club…

Parents are called upon to make vitally important choices on behalf of their children. Always with that paralyzing thought echoing in the back of their heads… "What happens if I f*** this up?"

In this country, though, we seem to have a talent for screwing things up. We really hurt our kids with the poorly informed choices we make.

Sometimes, the result is that children die of diseases that were "eradicated" in the 1950’s.

Or that bigotry is passed from generation to generation.

Or that we make such urgently, tragically stupid choices that our kids don’t get a chance to grow up.

Get your kids immunized. Monitor what they read and play. Let them interact with people different from themselves.

And don’t let them play with guns.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Food ethics

Lisa's wonderful post on sport hunting, and the dialogue in the comments has really had me thinking. It doesn't help that I recently read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver. (I highly recommend the book to any nonfiction reader, any foodie, any gardener or any environmentalist. Everyone in Kingsolver's immediate family contributed in some way to the book, and as a family tale, it's interesting in that aspect as well.)

What are my food ethics? One of the oldest cliches that I can think of is "You are what you eat." Follow the implications of my food choices, and what does that really mean. Every woman who's ever put dinner on the table for more than herself knows that food choices can be complicated, but it also speaks reams about how we are as citizens and stewards of the world.

There is more than one ignored elephant in every dining room, but the biggest issue of all is that for anything to become food for our bodies, it has to die. Vegetarians, that applies to your food too. That bowl of rice is no longer absorbing sunlight and water in a field or paddy. That organic tomato isn't sucking down nutrients while someone carefully picks aphids of its vine. When I told this to my vegetarian daughter, she said, "...but plants don't have feelings." My response was that we really don't know now, do we. It's still a life, and it's still ended. I know that argument slides way out onto the ridiculous fringe. I'm not going to worry about cutting short the cozily nestled underground life of my carrots and not allowing them to fulfill their true carrothood.

Here is where the other elephants start trumpeting though. I will be concerned about the chemicals they've absorbed meant to kill weeds and insects, the genetic alterations used to make them more marketable, not necessarily more nutritious or tasteful, the fairness of the treatment the labor involved received, the cleanliness of the plant used to process them, and how much energy was consumed to get those carrots from the field to my home. I'll wonder about how the companies stand on Fair Trade. All that happens before I dig the glasses out of my purse to read the label and see just how many preservatives, and how much high fructose corn syrup and sodium have been added to the can in my hand. That's a whole lot of concern over a can of sliced carrots, and it all has to happen in the rush hour between leaving work and someone asks, "What's for dinner?"

It's even harder for carnivores. We ignore our big dead elephant in the room even harder, carefully and literally washing the blood from our hands. This is our choice. I love meat and won't give it up as a part of my diet. I once had the opportunity to professionally visit a meat processing plant. I was given an extremely limited tour of the facility, and it wasn't one of the nightmares described in Fast Food Nation, another gripping read about the food industry (that is definitely not for the weak stomached). I know there was a lot that I didn't see, and quite frankly, I saw enough to be grateful that I didn't see more. I do know that I want the meat I consume to have died a humane death. I want it to have lived as an animal should, not in a contained environment that does not allow for movement, fed an unnatural diet (cows are not cannibals and other than the occasional bug or worm, aren't even carnivores), and essentially trapped in its own excrement. The deer killed on some hunter's fun, mindless weekend excursion led a better life than that poor trapped cow.

After reading Kingsolver's book, I did ask the butchers at three of the grocery stores I use what they could tell me about the meat. At one, it just came from the warehouse. The butcher was essentially a very polite and wanting to be helpful stock person, not a true butcher. He didn't know if any of the meat was free range or not. It just came in on the truck. At the next, the answer was basically, our company does its best to purchase from the safest and cleanest suppliers. They couldn't tell me if the hamburger originated in a feedlot cage or every body's mental image of a farm. It was only at the truly local store that the butcher who cut his own chops and steaks and made his own sausage could tell me the source of most of the meat he sold. Some of it was truly locally raised by people he knew. Some came from CAFO (contained area feeding operations) meat suppliers. It was only by consuming on the most local level that I even had the choice to try to eat with respect for my ethics and principles. It's also important to note that organic or free range meat is also more expensive. For some people, a cruelty free meal isn't a realistic financial option.

I've made conscious choices to shop my ethics on other things. It's not easy. I quit a gym I really liked because their corporate parent is heavily committed to funding anti-choice groups. I look for union labels in clothing, but almost everything I see comes from a country where sweat shop labor is the norm. I refuse to use a certain delivery pizza chain. I do feel guilty every time I walk into Wal-Mart. Some people say I'm oversensitive. I think I'm just trying to be responsible and make my dollars count. If everyone refused to eat CAFO raised meat, it would fade from the marketplace.

Sometimes I just want to eat without thinking about it. I don't want to always take the time to express my gratitude, figure out how many miles were driven to get the hot dog and bun together and determine how deep my carbon footstep is for each meal. I just want to eat. I'm getting to the point where I just can't ignore the elephants anymore.

Monday Morning Musings

I was puttering about the Internet looking at this and at that. I finally came up with this:

"America is a country that doesn't know where it is going but is determined to set a speed record getting there."

Laurence J. Peter

Sunday, October 26, 2008


This is an adaptation of a Celtic prayer that I found in the book KNITTING INTO THE MYSTERY.

May the blessing of light be on you,
light without and light within
and light inside the darkness within.

May the blessed sunlight shine upon
you and warm your heart 'til it glows,
like a great peat fire, so that strangers may come
and warm themselves;
and that friends may come.

And may the light shine out of the eyes of you,
like a candle set in the windows of a house,
bidding the wanderer to come in out of the storm.

And may the blessing of the rain be on you--
The soft, sweet rain.
May it fall upon your spirit
so that the seedlings of light
in you shadow may spring up,
and shed their sweetness on the air.

And may the blessing of the great rains be on you,
that they beat upon your spirit and wash it fair and clean,
and leave there many a shining pool, and sometimes a star.

And may the blessing for the earth be on you--the great round earth
who carries all; the great round earth
whose suffering has already become radiant.

May you ever have a kindly greeting for people
you pass as you are going along the roads.
And now may the Lord bless you,
and bless you kindly, your kin and all creatures.

There wasn't much to take pictures of in the yard this weekend. It's the putting to sleep time of the year. About all that's blooming is the heather and while it's pretty, it doesn't show up very well. There was a bright crescent moon in the sky Saturday morning as I brought in the papers. So bright against the dark sky. Almost no stars and the sky just beginning to show that almost white blue of early dawn.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

On The "Sport" of Hunting

This morning, I left for work just after dawn. I poked my head out my front door, and was greeted by the staccato pop! pop! pop! of shotgun fire from across the channel: Sportsmen taking potshots into the great flocks of game birds wintering in the wetlands on and surrounding Sauvie Island. That sound never fails to grip my heart and squeeze.

I hate guns.

My dad owned a pair of pistols and a rifle. They weren’t loaded, they weren’t kept at the ready in case some hoodlum broke into the house in the middle of the night intent on murdering us in our beds. In fact, the pistols were locked up in a metal strongbox.

Dad was brought up with guns; he grew up in a small town in Oregon where guns and hunting were part of the culture. He spoke proudly of earning enough money on his paper route to buy his first rifle when he was twelve years old. He treasured his guns as a connection to his roots, a memento of a time and place far away and fondly remembered.

But he respected their potential to create mayhem in the wrong hands…knew they really had no place in the sleepy, mid-century exurbs of Chicago. Dad’s guns lived in the back corner of my parents’ bedroom closet. We girls were sternly threatened never, ever to touch, look at, or interact with those guns in any way. Ever. So sternly that I don’t remember even being tempted to burrow into their hiding place to look at them. So began my hate affair with guns.

I’m no longer that frightened little girl, totally cowed by the demonic presence hiding in the dark reaches of her parents’ closet. But even in adulthood I have not acquired any love for or acceptance of the role of firearms in 21st century society. “Guns don’t kill. People kill.” Small comfort, really, when you think about it.

Today, with the sound of shotgun fire echoing in my ears, I wondered about mankind’s fascination with guns. And with killing.

Killing the animals over which, the Bible says, we were given dominion. And killing each other. For the hell of it.

What is wrong with us? Why must we kill? Why are we the only species on earth that has constructed such an elaborate ritual around the senseless killing of other animals? We call it “hunting.” We do it for sport. Not because we need the food. Not because these animals are capable of, or interested in, killing us if we don’t kill them. They don’t come looking for us. We take it to them.

We kill because we can. Because we want to. Because it gives us some kind of perverted feeling of power.

How sick is that?

Fall is my favorite time of year to walk on the dike. I go to see those stunningly huge flocks of birds flying in shifting waves across the marshes to the island. I go to hear their chaotic barking and honking. That sound always stirs up something wild and restless in me.

And when I think of some idiot dressed in camo with his designer dog at his heel, pointing a blunderbuss into those great wild flocks and blowing the life out of bird after bird for sport…for the fun of it…

I wonder where to hand in my resignation from this race that is truly beyond hope.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Photo(s)

Gone south for the winter I suspect.
The cool nights and warm days have had a lovely effect on the hydrangea.

A pleasant surprise while out walking the other day.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Are We There Yet???

This afternoon, I was sitting in front of my manicurist, in the salon across the street from the café. She was tending two of my acrylic nails that had begun to lift off (could this have something to do with the fact that I cannot keep my hands out of water for more than five minutes on any given day?)

A commercial came on the radio that started out, “Are you beginning to tire of all the political messages…?”

Manicurist and I looked each other in the eye and declared at the same time, “Hell yes!”

I’m done. I’ve had it. I don’t want to hear any more about how much the RNC has spent on Sarah Palin’s clothes, or about the Obama-bashing robo-calls targeting voters in key states, or about how John McCain is making a last-ditch effort to save his campaign by finally coming out strongly against the Bush Administration.

I don’t want to hear about Congressional Republicans trying to pin our current economic mess on Barack Obama (WTF!!??!?!?). Or about how McCain is planning to concentrate all of his advertising money into Florida, Ohio and other “purple” states possessing large numbers of electoral votes, in an effort to carry the election even in the (likely) event that he does not win the popular vote.

I don’t want to hear about how our local kids are going to go to hell in a handbasket if I don’t vote myself a $400 per year property tax increase so the school district can level our existing school buildings and build new ones.

I just want to vote and get it over with.

So, on my day off (Sunday) I’m going to sit down with my ballot and my Voter’s Information Pamphlet and do the deed.

And try to stay away from the television, radio and all other forms of hyperbolic media for the 9 remaining days of the campaign.

I’ve been thinking about building that lead-lined bomb-shelter under the house to use for just such occasions…

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


From Jim Morin courtesy of Go Comics.

I see on AOL news this morning that the Republican National Committee has reportedly spent over $150,000 dressing up Sarah Palin. Words ........ fail me. That is a lot of lipstick.

Oh, and the national hockey mom didn't spend any of the money at Wal Mart.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Well, the mail in ballot is filled out and ready to go to drop box. I've never done this before, voted the straight party line. Never thought I'd say that. Good luck to everyone. Vote, vote, vote; it guarantees your right to bitch or crow about the results. :-)

pushed over the edge...

Yesterday I did two things I've never done before. In the afternoon, I bit the bullet, dragged myself out of bed, went to our local library, and voted early. There was a good turnout. At 2:30 the line was long, over half an hour's wait. When I got to the booth, the voting was electronic, with nothing to show for it (no paper ballot), which didn't give me any warm fuzzy feeling about what I was doing and in fact made me a little nervous. I've watched that Homer Simpson video too many times to be happy about electronic voting.

Then last night, late, I made two political contributions online. I don't believe I've ever contributed to a political campaign before. I have no problem contributing to the arts, or to any number of good causes, e.g., Juvenile Diabetes, ALS, Susan G. Komen foundation, etc. But when it comes to politics, I’ve donated time but not cash, not even a dollar on my income tax return. I've never felt a reason to contribute financially, before now. And although I'm weary to the bone of this seemingly interminable campaign season, it was a politician who finally made me see the light, as we like to say in the south.

So who's responsible for my seeing that it makes sense, for me, to contribute some cold, hard earned cash to the cache, so to speak? The answer might surprise you. The person who prompted me to finally take action financially is Minnesota congresswoman Michelle Bachman. Yep, her comments to Chris Matthews on Hardball re anti-Americanism and how she would like to see the news media "do a penetrating expose and take a great look at the views of the people in congress and find out, are they pro-America or anti-America?" smacked so loudly of McCarythyism that it pushed me over the edge (you can watch the video here). And so although I've lived in Texas for 25 years, last night I found myself looking on the internet to see who is opposing Ms. Bachman in Minnesota for her congressional seat this year. The answer is Elwyn Tinklenberg, and having found that out, I made a donation to him and of course to Obama.

I wasn't alone in having this reaction to Bachman, btw. It turns out that her comments brought in $810,000 to Tinklenberg's campaign in less than 72 hours, in contrast to the year it had taken him to raise $1 million prior to that. And I smile to think, I doubt that was the reaction Michelle anticipated when she spoke to Chris Matthews. And if things don't turn out as I hope they do in November, and if the time comes when people start drawing up lists of who did what, who contributed to whom...well, I'd be proud to show up as having made those donations.

Monday, October 20, 2008

On Negative Ads and Campaign Spending

I have to comment on the flap about Barack Obama spending “unprecedented amounts of money on negative ads.”

Here is yet another example of the GOP spin machine’s masterful manipulation of the liberal media.

In fact, Obama and McCain are spending about the same amount of money on negative ads here in the closing weeks of the campaign.

Both campaigns spending about the same on negative ads

The difference is, this is nearly all that McCain has to spend; but just under half of Obama’s total spending. Barack Obama just has more money. Almost twice what the McCain campaign has managed to come up with.

The brutal fact is, Barack Obama has the money to spend because people have given it to him. And they have NOT given it to John McCain. Because they really, really, REALLY don’t want John McCain (and Sarah Palin) to win this election.

We all know, despite the recent death-defying antics of the Dow Jones, that America’s corporate giants still have more money than God. Why, then, has the GOP “trickle-down” mechanism suddenly inflicted drought upon the McCain campaign? Are those corporate winners so invested in the concept of NOT being perceived as backing a loser that their knee-jerk reaction has been to tighten the purse strings when McCain comes a-calling? Does that make any sense? It seems that a McCain administration would be ever so much more sympathetic to traditional GOP business interests than an Obama White House.

Why have all those rich guys decided NOT to throw money at the McCain campaign? Have they finally reasoned that they DO NOT have enough money to buy this election?

We can only hope.


The cartoons were downloaded from the Go Comics Website.

I wonder how much it’s going to cost the taxpayers to prove that some of ACORN’ problems with voter registration amounted to some dishonest employees and some very lax supervisors instead of deliberate fraud.

Incidentally if there is fraud involved it’s registration fraud, not voter fraud. Misdirection piled upon misdirection. Apparently there is very littile evidence of out and out attempts to vote illegally, but there's plenty of evidence of voter intimidation.

It doesn’t matter how many times you fill out a registration card, you still only get to vote once.

It doesn’t matter if someone filled out a card under the name Donald Duck, unless he/she presents some proof that they are Donald Duck they don’t get to vote.
In the meantime I haven’t seen any cartoons about police or sheriff’s cruisers parked near polling places in minority neighborhoods in Texas. I haven’t seen any cartoons and barely any news stories about the rumor mongering that claims that undercover cops with be at polling places on the lookout for voters with outstanding warrants or traffic tickets. And will arrest those voters on the spot. Where are the cartoons about the wholesale purges of eligible voters in states where people with felony records aren’t allowed to vote? Where are the cartoons skewering aggressive “poll watchers” who try to intimidate voters?
God/dess I love Oregon’s vote by mail. And official or not, there are estimates that as many as one fourth of the eligible voters will vote before Election Day. Gee I can’t imagine why they’d want to do that. ;-)
I see Blogger isn't always cooperative when it comes to paragraphs. :-P

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Insult of Sarah Palin

As I said in my previous post, I haven’t much bought into the hype of election 2008. At least, not to the extent that I had held my nose and cannon-balled into it during the 2004 presidential election. I just couldn’t attach all my hopes to a particular result, this time around, only to have those hopes dashed, and feel like the country was teetering on the edge of the abyss, come the morning after.

And, let’s face it, we are where we are as a nation (and it doesn’t look good) because we’ve had to slog through an additional four years of the hopeless Bush Administration. But whose fault is that, really? It is the Republicans’ for stealing another four years and taking full advantage of that opportunity to get us ever more deeply mired in their unbelievable quagmire of crap? Or is it the Democrats’, for not advancing a truly viable alternative four years ago?

But, coming as this election does at the close of one of the most conservative administrations this country has ever experienced—an administration during which the power of the lunatic religious fringe to change our focus and sway policy has grown exponentially—I have been convinced that we would be as likely to see a woman or a black man elected to the Presidency as we would be to see Pat Robertson appointed ambassador to Iran.

Then came the inexplicable, ice-water-in-the-face nod to Sarah Palin. I, and many other discouraged, jaded, perilously near-to-acquiescing members of the progressive electorate found ourselves spitting, mopping our faces and sputtering, “What…? Where…? Sarah Who…???” Once we were informed of exactly who this woman was and where she came from, we were speechless.

And furious.

To this day, I’m not sure if Palin’s nomination was a supremely stupid move from beginning to end, or a painstakingly conceived political gamble calculated to either make or break the McCain candidacy.

The line of thinking must have gone something like this: “Ooooooh… Women really wanted Hillary Clinton. But Hillary is history…so all we need is a woman and we can rake in all those feminist votes! But…hmmmm…those Christian right wingnuts are threatening to make a stink at the convention if we go with a centrist candidate... Wait…wait… that’s IT! Sarah Palin! She’s a woman. And she stands for all the counter-feminist, backwards, war-hawking, pregnant-seventeen-year-old-who wouldn’t-even-think-about-the-“a-word” causes. Those little ladies who were so attached to Hillary Clinton…they don’t worry their pretty heads about things like policy and experience and competence and women’s issues… They just want a woman! We can kill two birds with one stone!!!

Oh. My. God.

Are we not disgusted that one of our two major political parties was so capable of misreading our history and determination as women, and our mandate as a nation, that they would come up with such an incredibly naïve, simplistic and ultimately self-serving “solution” for everything that ails us?

Are we not incensed that the GOP was so dismissive of our intellect? Of our loyalties? Of our demands?

Are we not truly frightened that the party of Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan has sunk so low that it would throw all sound judgment aside to manipulate a poor understanding of political strategy in a bid to retain what it believes is the position of ultimate power—the Leadership of the Free World?

McCain would be the oldest man elected to the presidency of this country. Did they give no thought to what might actually happen if he died in office?

President Sarah Palin?!??!!? What could they possibly have been thinking?

So, on the basis of the Sarah Palin disaster, and the recent roller-coaster of the Dow Jones, Barack Obama has crept far enough ahead in the polls to cause some pundits to declare him the ultimate victor. Now, they say, NOW he needs to try to cultivate a clear mandate.

All I can say is, if he hasn’t got that mandate by now, it’s unlikely he will. Purely…PURELY on the basis of the color of his skin, he will not be awarded the landslide a white male Democrat would now be anticipating.

And I shake my head and throw up my hands as I wonder why.

America's Greatest


If only the politics of this country had not degraded to the point that the best of our best choose not to run...

Friday Photo

I was out all day Friday at Caumsett St. Park on Long Island taking photos. It's taken me this long to go through them and get a few edited and ready to go. Fall is just coming on, But, it's coming on quick, so I think it will be here....and gone.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


This morning we pruned some of the roses and trimmed the last of the cone flowers and black eyed susans. So, in memory of the warmth of summer and the buzzing of the bumbles here's this summers' purple coneflowers in their prime. With guest of course.

Friday, October 17, 2008

JOE THE PLUMBER????????????

Don't scream, please. It turns out, according to a brief perusal of the net at lunch, that Joe isn't isn't a card carrying plumber. There's no record of his completing the required apprenticeship and the owner of the company was surprised to find out the he wanted to buy the business he works for. Another McCain supporter in over his head. Sound familiar?

And at his current tax rate his taxes would probably go down if Obama is elected. RLMAO.

Friday's Photo

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Palin As President

Here's a terrific interactive site showing Sarah Palin in the Oval Office. My favorite is the red phone...
If I hear the name Joe the Plumber one more time...I'm gonna SCREAM!!!!!

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 Pixels.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

On Election 2008

Election 2008 will be history in less than four weeks. I have to admit, I haven’t been buying into the hype this time around. And I don’t yet have a clear vision of who is going to win this thing.

I know who should be winning, given the unprecedentedly dismal performance of the ruling party over the past eight years. If Barack Obama were a white man, or perhaps even a white woman (though not, I think, Hillary Clinton) he would be a shoo-in for the office. Hell, if he were Donald Duck he would probably have a larger lead over McCain than the slim few points he enjoys now (Donald is, um, white...) But the fact is, the American people–so desperately in need of a drastic change in leadership–are having a hard time accepting that it may come in the form of a man who, fifty years ago, wouldn’t have been allowed to ride in the front seats of a city bus.

Nobody wants to talk about that. Nobody wants to admit it. Nobody wants to believe that the ugly demon of racism still sits on the shoulders of a large portion of our population, still whispers that blacks are inferior, blacks are mentally deficient, blacks are somehow not completely human, blacks should go back to Africa where they came from. Blacks are the enemy.

DO NOT MAKE THE MISTAKE OF THINKING THIS STUFF HAS GONE AWAY. It has become politically incorrect to talk about racism. But we have not eradicated it from American society by any means. What we are as a nation, and what we would like to be–what we should be–are in this case two dishearteningly different things.

I am fifty-three years old. In the sixties and seventies, when liberal politics and civil rights were on the march, I grew up in the lily-white suburbs of Chicago. But we were open-minded. We were not prejudiced! We were forbidden to use the "n" word; we were taught that there was "nothing wrong with Negroes." That they were people just like everyone else. But the fact is, I had no contact whatsoever with black people when I was a kid, other than the bag boy at the grocery store, and the occasional sighting of a black woman standing at the bus stop in the evening, waiting to be transported back to the city after spending the day toiling in some white suburbanite’s kitchen.

I did not have a black classmate until 1972. I was in high school. I remember being shocked at the grumblings around the school; being disgusted when a girl in my art class declared that her father was so upset a black family had moved into town, because now the property values were going to go down.

Ten years later, shortly before my husband and I took our own “Oregon Trail” away from the Chicago area in the early 80’s, a black politician by the name of Harold Washington ended up as the Democratic candidate for Mayor of Chicago—when the white primary vote was split between Richie Daley (son of “Boss” Mayor Richard J. Daley, who had died in office in 1976) and incumbent Jane Byrne.

It was 1983, in Chicago, where the Democratic party had enjoyed undisputed reign since the days of Capone and beyond…and the Democratic mayoral candidate barely squeaked to victory against the slogan, chanted by white Republicans and Democrats alike: “Vote Shalom (referring to Washington’s GOP rival, Bernie Upton—a little-known former state legislator who also happened to be Jewish) and Save Your Home.”

Twenty-five years later, in 2008, the Black Congressional Caucus has 41 members. The National Conference of Black Mayors has a membership of over 641 black mayors from across the country. A succession of excellent black public servants has performed brilliantly at the highest levels of our government, including two consecutive black Secretaries of State.

But Richie Daley is Mayor of Chicago.

What does that mean, you ask?

It means that in the twenty years since the Harold Washington debacle, the party faithful of America’s third largest city have not been asked again to cast their votes for an African American for mayor.

It means that a city of almost 3 million people has excused itself from giving the nod to a mayor who would racially represent over a third of its population; in fact, a larger percentage of the population that the long-term, “white/non-hispanic” incumbent. A large northern urban area is still governed by the regime, and arguably, the beliefs, that were in place fifty years ago--when that young black man running for president today would not have been allowed to board a city bus through the front door.

This is by no means an exercise in picking on the City of Chicago. I’ve simply drawn an example from my own experience. I have a hard time believing that Chicago is so unique among major American cities that it’s the only place insidious racism reigns. Has Boston ever had a black mayor? How about Pittsburgh? New York City has had one, but he served only one term and was plagued by accusations of weakness and racial favoritism.

In short, there are a lot of people out there, and not just red-necks, southerners and cowboys, who subscribe to the belief that leaders are, and should be, white. They’ll pay hundreds of bucks to go root for the black athletes on the home team, they don’t think twice about appreciating the performances of Bill Cosby or Denzel Washington, they might even have a black neighbor they wave to on the way out to the car in the morning.

But they expect the face behind the desk at City Hall, or the Oval Office, to look like their own.

I have more to say about this, but I’m going to write another installment…

Dear Group:


I would like your permission to delete the AOL version of "Women On." Now that we're settled in here, I think it's time we did some house cleaning...

Also, we should try to spiff up THIS blog a bit...but I'm not sure I have the time. Would anyone else like to take the wheel on Women On (It is in my power to grant you "administrative privileges" ...bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha.....!)

Thirdly, if anyone knows anyone else who would like to post here (we seem to have lost a few members) you might want to throw their hat into the ring...?


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 Pixels.
Election 2008 will be history in less than four weeks. I have to admit, I haven’t been buying into the hype this time around. And I don’t yet have a clear visions of who is going to win this thing.

I know who should be winning, given the unprecedentedly dismal performance of the ruling party over the past eight years. If Barack Obama were a white man, or perhaps even a white woman (though not, I think, Hillary Clinton) he would be a shoo-in for the office. Hell, if he were Donald Duck he would probably have a larger lead over McCain than the slim few points he enjoys now (Donald is white...) But the fact is, the American people–so desperately need of a drastic change in leadership–are having a hard time accepting that change in the form of a man who, fifty years ago, wouldn’t have been allowed to ride in the front seats of a city bus.

Nobody wants to talk about that. Nobody wants to admit it. Nobody wants to believe that the ugly demon of racism still sits on the shoulders of a large portion of our population, still whispers that blacks are inferior, blacks are mentally deficient, blacks are somehow not completely human, blacks should go back to Africa where they came from. DO NOT MAKE THE MISTAKE OF THINKING THIS STUFF HAS GONE AWAY. It has become politically incorrect to talk about racism. But we have not eradicated it from American society by any means. What we are as a nation, and what we would like to be–what we should be–are in this case two disappointingly different things.

I am fifty-three years old. I was brought up in the liberal sixties and the lily-white suburbs of Chicago. We were forbidden to use the "n" word; we were taught that there was "nothing wrong with Negroes." That they were people just like everyone else. But I had no contact whatsoever with black people when I was a kid, other than the bag boy at the grocery store, and the occasional sighting of a black woman standing at the bus stop in the evening, waiting to be transported back to the city after spending the day cleaning some white suburbanite’s home.

I did not have a black classmate until I was a junior in high school. I remember being shocked at the grumblings around the school, being disgusted when a girl in my art class declared that her father was upset because now the property values were going to go down.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Thank you, Lisa!

Lisa, you're amazing! I don't know how you found the time to transfer Women On to blogger, but I am so glad (and grateful) that you did.

Thank you!


Give me a break!

I just read this Slate magazine article on the Newsweek cover of Sarah Palin, and I'm sitting here steaming.

Before I go any further, I want to make my political position known. I'm a Democrat. I cross party lines when I feel another party offers a better candidate. I've voted Republican, Libertarian and Green before. I'm voting for Obama/Biden in this year's election, but I'm not an avid supporter. I do not think Palin is qualified to be Vice-President of the United States, and I have very mixed feelings about McCain. This isn't the year for my political passions to ride high. I'm damn near burned out, and whoever wins, it's going to be rough going for the American people for a good while. The last eight years have nearly totalled this country, and we'd all better get prepared for a bumpy ride.

The feminist in me though is still blazing bright. Fox News got its panties in a twist because Newsweek magazine didn't retouch the cover picture of Sarah Palin to their taste. Gasp! What's the problem here? Palin is not physically perfect. If the Republican party were looking for merely a babe for photo shoots, why didn't they get a Real Doll? By creating an uproar over what is actually an attractive photograph of Palin, it's almost like people are saying you're destroying her credibility by pointing out physical flaws. That, of course, leads to Palin's very questionable credibility. If her strengths were something other than her looks, would an unretouched photograph really be an insult? Why has no one suggested that not photoshopping Obama's ears to look less like Alfred E. Neuman's is politically motivated? How about demanding that more attention be given to McCain's hunkier younger self?

Palin is a beautiful woman. She got the lucky draw in the gene pool, and she obviously puts effort into her self-presentation. These are not bad things. Get over it. What qualifies her for the vice-presidency is not her figure, her face, those cute glasses or that up do. I personally haven't figured out what does qualify her, but listening will tell me more than looking.

The ageism of this gets to me. It reminds me of the Anna Wintour pictures at Huffington Post. Sarah Palin is 44 years old. I think she looks younger, but looking one's age and being a certain age is only insulting if only a specific age is considered acceptable. The minimum age to be the US President is 35. Only the middle aged and older qualify. Again, this is a feminist issue. Obama looks good for 47. Biden looks a bit worn for 65. McCain looks damn good for 72. Why aren't the men's appearances worthy of Fox News debate? Personally, I don't want a kid in the President's office unless she's playing on the floor at her parent's feet. Maturity is a plus. Maturity connotes though and the Executive office demands a certain dignity and sense of decorum, and this failed to impress me on that score.

I'm also riled up about what we expect from our media. Newsweek is not a fashion magazine. They are not hocking a dream of beauty to sell clothes and makeup. They're providing information and opinions on a variety of current events. If Vogue didn't retouch her pictures, I'd suspect a political agenda. For Newsweek, I hope it's more par for the course. I'm also sick and tired of the media making mountains out of molehills and of the hypocrisy of Fox News.

I've been ranting about fluff that gets poured onto a political race, but I'm hungry for more substantive. I haven't really found it anywhere yet.

, , ,


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.


Women On is alive and well in its new home. Classy, sassy and ready to take on the world. Or at least Blogger. :-)

Imagine, Finding Myself -- Here

Thank you for the invite Lisa. I am looking forward to continuing on with The Ladies of Women On. Also hoping to get over some of the 'shy' that accompanies my thoughts when I put pen to paper.


Monday, October 6, 2008


In light of the Republican Veep's "stay the course" remarks during the "debate" the other night. Here's an offering from the past. It's the piece that helped sink a TV show and may have helped sink a president. I do remember when the spam hit the fan on this one.

Waist Deep in the Big Muddy

It was back in nineteen forty-two,
I was part of a good platoon.
We were on maneuvers in Loozianna,
One night by the light of the moon.

The captain told us to ford a river,
and that's how it all begun.
We were knee deep in the Big Muddy,
but the big fool said to push on.

The sergeant said, Sir, are you sure
This is the best way back to the base?
Sergeant, go on; I've forded this river
Just a mile above this place.

It'll be a little soggy but just keep slogging
We'll soon be on dry ground.
We were waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool said to push on.

The sergeant said, Sir, with all this equipment
No man'll be able to swim.
Sergeant, don't be a nervous nellie
The captain said to him.

All we need is a little determination
Men, follow me, I'll lead on.
We were neck deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool said to push on.

All at once, the moon clouded over
We heard a gurgling cry
A few seconds later, the captain's helmet
Was all that floated by.

The sergeant said, turn around men
I'm in charge from now on
And we just made it out of the Big Muddy
With the captain dead and gone.

We stripped and dived and found his body
Stuck in the old quicksand.
I guess he didn't know the water was deeper
Than the place he'd once before been

Another stream had joined the Big Muddy
Just a half mile from where we'd gone.
We were lucky to escape from the Big Muddy
When the big fool said to push on.

Well, I'm not going to draw any moral,
I'll leave that to yourself
Maybe you're still walking, you're still talking
And you'd like to keep your health

But every time I read the papers
That old feeling comes on:
We're waste deep in the Big Muddy
And the Big Fool says to push on.

Pete Seeger

Thursday, October 2, 2008


I've been backing up Pixels and came across this entry from 2005. With the Veep debates on tonight, this really rang my chimes. (even if I did write it)

Friday, October 21, 2005



When you take your car to the garage you expect (and hope) that the person who will be adjusting your brakes knows what they’re doing. In other words they’d better be pros. If you have a bellyache or a lump you expect that the doctor who’s poking about in your inner self has had at least a year or two of training. You don’t expect to find a grease monkey behind the grill at your favorite diner.

So, boys and girls, what’s this thing about “professional” politicians and who started it? When did it become a good idea to put people in charge of running our government who can't find the back of their laps with both hands, a map and a compass?

We’ve got more and more people running for office trumpeting the fact that when you come right down to it they have no idea what they’re doing. These people have the power to decide where businesses will be built, what farm land will be saved, if our pensions are going to be there when we need them, the kind of breaks business get for sending our jobs overseas, whether they represent us or if we’re getting the best government that money can buy, so on and so forth ad nauseum. Although from where I’m sitting, even the lobbyists arent’ getting their money’s worth.

When you come right down to I’d like to think that the people making the decisions have some idea how the process works. I’d definitely prefer someone who not only respects the constitution but may have actually read the document.

After three years I can only say "Arrrrrrrrrrrgh!!!!" A certain politicain who shall remain nameless doesn't trumpet lack of experience. But the experience she does have is, as BJ Hunnicutt from MASH would say, " thinner than 3:2 beer."  'Nuff said.