Friday, December 31, 2010

Mis-reported stories of 2010


As usual, national, regional and local media did a poor job in 2010 in keeping Americans informed about what matters.

Typically, the media would report about "controversy" without first reporting what the issue was. In looking for conflict, no matter how minimal and inconsequential, the media mis-informed viewers, listeners and readers.

Check this list for some examples.

On health care, the media focused on Republican complaints without first telling Americans what health care reform was about. Consequently, we heard plenty about so-called "death panels," and not much about how reform would benefit the vast majority of Americans.

We're already seeing benefits in the fact that x-rays and MRIs are placed in a database for all doctors to see without having to order repetitive and costly x-rays, MRIs or CT scans.

Yes, there are court cases out there challenging the legality of the health care reform law, but almost all of them have been tossed out. One lawsuit in Virginia is moving forward that challenges the government's authority to require people to buy health insurance.

Well, news flash, the government already requires that drivers buy auto insurance. Also, workers have deductions for Social Security whether they want these deductions or not.

Should the High Court toss out this compulsory insurance provision in the health care reform law, such a ruling will logically lead to lawsuits challenging auto insurance mandates and Social Security.

Won't that be wonderful.

Not.

Why can't mainstream media explain such fundamental facts?

The issue of taxes is an area where every level of mainstream media failed to inform citizens what was at stake.

For some context, in 1970 the top 1 percent controlled 9 percent of the wealth in this country. Today, that same group controls 25 percent of the nation's wealth.

In Oregon, we had Measures 66 and 67 that increased taxes on the rich and on businesses. (In 1990, through Measure 5, the property tax burden shifted from businesses to individual homeowners.)

The media's take on the these tax measures was that it would lead to an exodus of businesses and the very rich. Of course, none of that has occurred. Quite the contrary, the opposite happened. Businesses are expanding in Oregon and the state is attracting new businesses.

Still, the local paper went on a successful crusade to oust our state Rep. Judy Stiegler from office as well as her husband, D.A. Mike Dugan, because they were outspoken supporters of the tax measures. We lost two tremendous public servants who are being replaced by individuals with dubious track records, if any at all.

On the national level, the extension of the tax cuts to the ultra-rich means that taxes will increase for the poor. Is that not counter-intuitive? Would the media report this fact? No.

Yes, the stock market indexes are rebounding, but most 401ks are not. Where is this money going? Don't you think the media should investigate? Well, they won't, because waving pom-poms is their No.1 priority where business matters are concerned. (Check this story for more examples.)

As for the collapse of the housing market, the media is fixated on the government's role, but not banks' despicable actions.

For example, banks now approach cities and counties and buy up their properties with delinquent taxes. The municipalities get their tax monies, and the banks end up seizing properties for a fraction of what their worth.

In essence, we're experiencing the greatest land grab since the Great Depression.

Part of the reason the media turns a blind eye to this kind of story is that their chief function is to be cheerleaders for growth at all costs. This fact is one of the main reasons we are wallowing in the dire economic straits that we find ourselves in.

Locally, the media formed one of those cheerleading pyramids to promote growth and now report how the city of Bend is $20 million in the hole after the ridiculous growth we experienced this decade. Don't you think the media should connect the dots between unbridled growth, low taxes/fees and failing infrastructure?

They won't, because they're not really capable of reporting on such a complex story. The mainstream media needs black and white, right and wrong, Republican and Democrat. If a story falls outside those tracks, it falls through the cracks.

We are then left with an uninformed electorate and in Fox News case, a mis-informed viewership. (Can we create a "death panel" for Fox News panelists?)

As long as the media tailors news to the lowest common denominator, we will all eventually become the lowest common denominator.


Thursday, December 30, 2010

More BS from the BCS - No TV


Yes, that's right, roughly 300,000 Oregonians, and possibly more, won't get to watch Oregon play in the national championship game because it won't be on broadcast TV.

Not even the Rose Bowl will be on broadcast TV.

ESPN outbid Fox and will air these games on its cable network rather than its sister station of ABC, where bowl games have been aired for decades.

The bad news for Oregon and other teams is that many fans won't be able to watch the games at home.

For much of 2010, cable companies, for the first time ever, have been losing hundreds of thousands of subscribers all across the country.

There are many reasons why, but the main one is the exorbitant cost of cable. Many former subscribers, including yours truly, concluded the benefit wasn't worth the price. There may for hundreds of channels, but still nothing to watch.

The local cable company in Bend has also been shedding customers to satellite subscribers, internet surfers and over-the-air watchers.

But the changes we see this year mean the future is clear: Internet television.

Why can't cable subscribers pick and choose which stations they want to pay for? Well, they can, on the internet.

There are many viewing options on the internet, but few for sports. One option is www.justin.tv

You can watch ESPN and other sports cable channels on this website.

You're going to see more of this and there won't be much that the cable companies can do about it.

The cable companies have refused to offer a-la carte pricing and viewers are finding a way around this limitation.

Content providers, like ESPN, believe they are indispensable. With so many cable cancellations this year, they're finding that they are not.

In case they hadn't noticed, the Great Recession is affecting all aspects of American life, including the watching of cable TV.




Monday, December 27, 2010

Are we a 'Christian' nation?


Ever since 9-11, many Americans want to distinguish our country from those Muslim countries that harbor terrorists by claiming the U.S. is a Christian nation.

Oh, really.

First off, there is nothing in our Constitution or Declaration of Independence that says we are a "Christian" nation.

Yes, most Americans identify themselves as Christian, but that still does not make us a "Christian" nation.

America was founded on the ideal of religious freedom because the First Amendment (sorry NRA, the "right to bear arms" doesn't show up until the Second Amendment) to our Constitution is: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

This First Amendment means that Americans enjoy freedom "of" religion and freedom "from" religion being imposed upon them. And that includes Christianity.

Of course, within Christianity we have Catholics who believe they are the original Christians, we have Baptists who believe that there is no way in hell that Catholics can make it to heaven and we have Mormons who believe that your marriage carries on after you die in heaven.

Let's just say that Christians don't exactly see eye to eye regarding matters of Christianity.

Any student with a thumbnail-size grasp of history knows that religion has more often been a cause of strife than of harmony. This is not to say that religions don't do good work. They do, just not when they're running a country.

Protestants and Catholics couldn't even agree on the wording in the Bible until King James I of England convened a conference in 1604 to reconcile differences between the two camps and in seven long years they had a new Bible.

And, let's not forget all the wars between Catholics and Protestants after the Reformation. Again, Christians vs. Christians.

Now, we have fundamentalist Muslims waging war not just against the "Christian" west, but also among each other. Shiite and Sunni mirror the ridiculous and tragic conflicts in the Christian camp.

Of course, when all else fails, Christians and Muslims unite in their distrust of the Jews.

In short order, basing a country on any religion is a recipe for disaster.

Can anyone say that Israel or Northern Ireland or Iraq are models of peace and prosperity?

So, it is disconcerting that so many Christians want to impose a religion on our country when our Founding Fathers had the good sense to frame our Constitution against such a concept.

Of course, many Christians claim that the Founding Fathers never said we aren't a Christian nation.

That's true.

It's also true that they never said we "are a Christian nation."

In fact, their are papers and treaties that say religion should have no role in our government.

Want some proof?

Well, check out the treaty between the U.S. and the "subjects of Tripoli" on the Barbary coast of Africa.

Article 11 reads: As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

This treaty was read aloud in its entirety on the floor of the U.S. Senate in 1797 and unanimously approved. President John Adams signed it and proudly proclaimed it to the nation.

John Adams is known as one of the "Founding Fathers."

So is Thomas Jefferson, another "Founding Father," who wrote, in 1802, to the Danbury (Conn.) Baptists of "the wall of separation between church and state."

Read about it here from the Library of Congress.

As I've written on this blog before, no religion can lay claim to the moral high ground.

That is why the United States is a nation of laws and common sense.

We don't need any religion to tell us that it is wrong to hijack our jets and crash them into the World Trade Center killing thousands of innocent people.

Likewise, we don't need any religion to tell us it is wrong to blame all practitioners of Islam for those terrible attacks in 2001.

We are Americans. We don't need any religion to tell us right from wrong.

I hope.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The real war on Christmas

'Tis the season for Fox News and misguided Christian groups to assault Americans with a phony news story about the "war on Christmas."

There is no war on Christmas and there never has been.

But, that doesn't stop Fox News and extremist Christians for getting angry and becoming well, un-Christian.

Check this story for some background about the early years of the "war on Christmas."

Christmas stopped World War I for a few days in 1914 and it's most unfortunate that it didn't stop it completely.

Ironically, we have Fox News and other misguided souls who want to perpetuate a phony "war," to rile people up over nothing.

The recent skirmishes began, apparently, in September at the Value Voters Summit. Read this piece for details about "Christmas with a Capital C."

What about Santa with a capital S?

The First Baptist Church in Dallas created a website called Grinch Alert to alert consumers about which retailers say Merry Christmas and are "nice," and those that say Happy Holidays or Season's Greeting and are "naughty."

Nina Totenberg, an NPR analyst, created a mini-blizzard when she said to "forgive the expression" but that she attended a "Christmas party." Here's another take on this "controversy."

Fox News has accused the NBA for waging war on Christmas for saying "Happy Holidays" in its promos. Heaven forbid.

The problem with this "war," though, is that Christmas doesn't just belong to Christians anymore and they're fuming like spoiled children who didn't get what they wanted from Santa under the Christmas tree.

Recently, I caught a glimpse of "White Christmas," starring Bing Crosby and that was released in 1954, when "under God" was placed in our Pledge of Allegiance to distinguish the U.S. from the USSR. (The Republican-led Congress needed to do that because they didn't know the difference.)

In "White Christmas," which extols the soldiers from WWII, a few banners read: "Merry Xmas," and "Happy Holidays." Thank god Fox News wasn't around then or we would've have World War III over a sappy movie.

If you want to blame anyone for the dilution of the "true meaning" of Christmas, blame Charles Dickens and his story, "A Christmas Carol." The tale, retold many times in movies, created the modern "Christmas spirit." And, it has nothing to do with the birth of Christ.

Or watch "It's a Wonderful Life," which extends Dickens' "Christmas spirit," into a new realm. Yes, it doesn't have anything to do with the birth of baby Jesus, and yet, it's probably a Christmas movie that even Christ would approve of.

It never dawns on extreme Christians that Christmas actually is rooted in pagan rituals. Check this story for background.

And can anyone really say on what day Jesus was born? No, they can't.

But, it doesn't matter because Christmas, like many things, has evolved. It's now a family time of year when we're all supposed to get along. To be giving and merry and inclusive.

This so-called "war on Christmas," however, preaches exclusiveness, which leads to crankiness and stinginess and worse.

There was a time in our history when the American flag couldn't be used for commercial or retail purposes. Now, if you don't plaster the American flag on everything from storefronts to underwear, you're branded a terrorist.

Likewise, if you don't use the word Christmas to sell flat-panel televisions or underwear with Santa on it, you're labeled a terrorist.

The real war on Christmas is how it's now used to gauge our economy. It's not about how much time we spend with our families, but about how much we spend on our families.

In spite of that, Merry Christmas to you all as well as Merry Xmas (my favorite), Happy Holidays and Season's Greetings.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Why Fox News misinforms


A recent study shows that Fox News viewers are the most misinformed consumers of news because those viewers choose ignorance over enlightenment.

CNN and MSNBC took their lumps in the study, but Fox News won the day for deliberately misinforming viewers.

The University of Maryland study shows what Fox News viewers believe:

* 91 percent believe the stimulus legislation lost jobs

* 72 percent believe the health reform law will increase the deficit

* 72 percent believe the economy is getting worse

* 60 percent believe climate change is not occurring

* 49 percent believe income taxes have gone up

* 63 percent believe the stimulus legislation did not include any tax cuts

* 56 percent believe Obama initiated the GM/Chrysler bailout

* 38 percent believe that most Republicans opposed TARP

* 63 percent believe Obama was not born in the U.S. (or that it is unclear)


If you were to confront a Fox News viewer with these falsehoods, they would say you are lying.

As Groucho Marx would say: Fox News is to news what military music is to music.

In other words, Fox News exists to present an alternate reality in which the viewer decides what is true. If a Fox News viewer believes the sun rises in the west, then so be it.

In the Fox News realm, all truth is relative. Ironically, Fox News is the ultimate in moral relativism.

Talk to an avid Fox News viewer and they really don't know what's going on in the world. Either their minds are filled with all the things Obama is doing to destroy America or matters like Natalie Holloway's disappearance.

I have to admit that I don't watch Fox News these days because my low-end cable package doesn't include that channel. Nor does it include MSNBC, Comedy Central or ESPN.

But, I routinely check out the Fox News website in my daily perusal of news sources that include: the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, MSNBC website, ESPN and the Huffington Post.

The WSJ and Fox News are owned by Rupert Murdoch, an Australian who has found a way to divide Americans better than the Communists or slave-owners.

In fact, the deep polarization in American politics can be traced to when Fox News came on the air in the mid-1990s. Since then, we've had this alternate reality competing with what is real.

When Fox News deliberately misinforms viewers, it naturally creates a fissure that mainstream corporate media cannot repair.

This results in disunity where there is little room for consensus-building and no space for compromise.

Fox News proclaims that it is "fair and balanced," but that is only true if you believe up is down and down is up.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Don't bask, don't yell


With the repeal of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, there are some who will point to this moment as the beginning of the end of American civilization.

The bizarre Family Research Council entered the fray with its criticisms that you can read here.

For most rational Americans, though, the repeal is met with a collective shrug. What does a person's sexual orientation have to do with his or her ability to serve our country? Nothing, really.

Most Americans still wonder what does this have to do with the economy.

As we know, nothing will change overnight. Certainly not the perceptions of millions of narrow-minded Americans.

If we lose a war now, we'll have a convenient scapegoat. If we win a war, we can still ignore the contributions of gays and lesbians in that cause.

So, while the repeal of DADT is a long overdue action on the part of our government, and will likely result in a better defense of our country, one can still caution: don't bask, don't yell, just yet.

Bend in new top 10 list


Okay, it's tenth place, but city of Bend water is known to have higher levels of a dangerous chemical, chromium-6, than what some states deem acceptable.

Check out this story to see if your city is on the list.

I'm on Avion water and we don't know its levels of chromium-6, but at least the water tastes better than the city's water.

Naturally, the federal EPA gushed about the new report on the nation's water supply, but admitted that it doesn't test, nor set levels for, chromium-6, the stuff that made Erin Brockovich a household name. Julia Roberts won an Oscar for her portrayal of Erin.

Of course, the local daily bought the EPA line, and hook and sinker too.

Also, the city's attempt to upgrade the current water supply is being met with howls of protest from the usual suspects: the daily paper and corporate interests.

Of course, what can you believe these days.

We all have to decide for ourselves if we believe the water contains unacceptable levels of chromium-6 or it doesn't. It's all about belief. As Fox News says, "you decide."

Can we trust the EPA, CNN or scientists.

I mean, who can we trust?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Deficits don't matter afterall


Yes, Dick Cheney was right when he said, "Reagan proved that deficits don't matter."

As we now know, Reagan knew everything. Apparently, Cheney did too.

With President Obama caving in to Republican demands to further enrich the richest people in America, the deficit will just keep on growing. Party like it's 1999.

Yes, unemployment benefits get extended for a year, but the tax cuts for the wealthy continue for two years. I can do simple math and so can you. Two is more than one.

Forget the "trickle-down theory," which failed miserably, we're getting the "trickle-up theory," where those making less than $20,000 as an individual and less than $40,000 as a family will have to pay more taxes under this "deal." Check this story for details.

Now, if we didn't extend the tax cuts for the most moneyed people across the land, we could've paid down the $14 trillion debt by $60 billion a year. Naturally, that's a drop in the bucket, so why bother.

But that $60 billion a year could've paid for things like:

• Free college, including room and board, for about half of all full-time students, at both four- and two-year colleges.

•A national infrastructure program to repair and upgrade roads, bridges, mass transit, water systems and levees.

•A tripling of federal funding for medical research.

•Universal preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds, with relatively small class sizes.

Not that any of those things matter when compared to giving money to the rich. And besides, we've survived for centuries without those things.

Thank god that the rich have to the GOP to look after their interests.

Of course, the GOP did block an attempt to give a one-time payment of $250 to those scraping by on social security. Can't add to the deficit in that manner.

Leave it to the rich to complain about the poor having too much money.

Here's hoping a filibuster can stop this "deal" and let these tax cuts expire.

If teabaggers are serious about reducing our debt, now's your chance to "man up," you weanies.

Let's knock down this deficit together. Let's all pay higher taxes. Yes, it will stifle the economy, but isn't the deficit the most critical issue facing us as a nation right now?

That, and gay marriage, of course.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

BCS stands for Bowl Cartel System


Okay, now that Oregon is in the "National Championship" game, it's time to trash the system that gave us this so-called "championship."

The Bowl Championship Series began in 1998 and it is cartel of five bowls -- Rose, Fiesta, Sugar, Orange and National Championship -- that annually hordes tens of millions of dollars that rightfully belong to colleges all over America.

In the process, it denies deserving teams a chance to compete for the mythical national championship.

In all other sports in all divisions in the NCAA, a true national champion is determined on the field, court or track or in the pool.

All except the biggest money-maker of them all: Division 1 football, now known as FBS or Football Bowl Subdivision.

That is why there has never been a true national champion in D-1/FBS football.

When a national championship pairing is determined by a matrix of polls and computers, you know how bogus it is. Why even play the game if polls and computers are so accurate?

Teams that get screwed over in this cartel are in the less-populated western part of the country in general and in the Pac-10 in particular. Oregon, USC and Cal have all been passed over for less deserving teams in the South and Midwest.

Boise State, Utah and TCU have all been denied a chance at the pinnacle.

Why has there never been a playoff?

Well, there are a few ridiculous reasons trotted out by the cartel. They include:

1) It would hurt the present bowl system. Please. The cartel makes all but one game completely meaningless and not worth watching.

2) It would diminish the regular season. Of course, they give no data to back up this assertion, because there is no data since there has never been a playoff. For all we now know, the opposite is likely true: A playoff enhances the regular season.

3) It would negatively affect the education of the student-athletes by keeping them away from the classroom in December. Really? Are they serious? What education are they talking about?

The big schools, from Ohio State to Texas, prefer the status quo because they get the most money from this arrangement. Although, as the writers of "Death to the BCS" point out, all colleges are leaving millions on the table under the cartel.

Money is one of the main reasons why we don't have a true champion determined on the gridiron.

The other main reason is the elephant in the room: the NFL.

The NFL doesn't want a college playoff because it would coincide with the end of their season and beginning of their playoffs.

Imagine if the NCAA basketball tournament took place during the NBA playoffs. No one would watch the NBA games.

Likewise with the NFL and NCAA football. A college playoff system would crush the NFL in the TV ratings. The college game is just more entertaining. In fact, the NFL is predictable and boring.

The NFL certainly does not want a college football playoff and that is why we're stuck with the Bowl Cartel System.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Mighty Oregon going to Glendale


After all the off-field troubles the Oregon Ducks caused themselves last winter, I predicted on March 20 that all those arrests and all those player dismissals from the team, including Heisman hopeful Jeremiah Masoli, would result in the Ducks making it to the National Championship game.

Here's what I said then:

And, I predict a trip to the National Championship game next season. Why not? Bellotti bailed coaching before the Ducks made it to the Rose Bowl and now he leaves altogether before the Ducks' greatest achievement. Kelly's goal all along has been a national championship. With all the problems the team is experiencing right now, no one expects great things from the Ducks. And, that suits Nike U just fine.

Although I haven't been a diehard Duck fan for many years, Saturday's victory over Oregon State was a watershed moment, in tears alone, for all those who have waddled with Oregon over the decades.

Listen to the end of the game from longtime Oregon broadcaster Jerry Allen, who let his emotions do the talking. I'm sure he spoke for many long-suffering, rain-soaked Duck fans.

The "12-0" t-shirts were available at the Duck store on Sunday. There have been many times in Oregon's past when the team didn't win 12 games over four years.

Inferior was the word then. Superior is the word now.

A one-time perennial Bottom 10 dweller now flies over all but one team -- Auburn -- in the land.

It really is an astonishing turn-around and it lets the Cals and the Arizonas of this world know that anything is possible.

It's inspiring on many levels and it's something this state has desperately needed since the Portland Trail Blazers won the NBA championship in 1977.

Kudos go to many people, especially Nike owner Phil Knight who has spent millions upgrading the facilities at the university in Eugene. In fact, some have suggest that Eugene be renamed Phil.

But, it is head Coach Chip Kelly who deserves the most credit for righting a sinking ship last winter and leading his team to victory after victory this season. Perhaps that is why the coaches' poll lists Oregon as No. 1. They know how tough it is to do what Kelly has done.

For his impact on the game, check out this long piece from the New York Times Magazine.

As for the actual game on Jan. 10 in Glendale, Arizona, I can't really predict an Oregon victory since their opponent, Auburn, seems so dominant now.

But, I learned this year to never underestimate the Ducks. They never give up. Anything is possible.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Half full or half empty


Half-full: After snowing all day today, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
Half-empty: It's not even Thanksgiving yet.

Half-full: I have my Christmas lights up already.
Half-empty: They don't go on until after Thanksgiving.

Half-full: We have family and friends visiting for Thanksgiving.
Half-empty: They have to drive over the Cascades, which are full of snow.

Half-full: Bend is considered one of the safest cities in America.
Half-empty: This news comes after a spate of killings.

Half-full: The BCS pits the two best college football teams in America.
Half-empty: There are still four undefeated teams left.

Half-full: Sarah Palin may run for president, meaning she'll win the GOP nomination.
Half-empty: Sarah Palin may run for president, meaning she'll lose to Obama.

Half-full: The TSA starts news screening and pat-down procedures.
Half-empty: A tiny percentage of Americans complain.

Half-full: TV hypes minor story of TSA procedures.
Half-empty: TV neglects major story of insider trading.

Half-full: Wall Street bonuses reach another high.
Half-empty: Defaults and foreclosures on Main Street haven't hit bottom yet.

Half-full: Teabaggers blame government for all of our problems.
Half-empty: Teabaggers glad to be exploited by corporations.

Half-full: Unemployment stays at 10 percent.
Half-empty: Naturally, prices for everything escalate.

Half-full: Because of higher prices for everything, we'll buy less this holiday season.
Half-empty: Yeah right.

Half-full: Corporate profits escalate.
Half-empty: Unemployment stays at 10 percent.

Half-full: Stock market rebounds.
Half-empty: Retirement accounts do not.

Half-full: Where does all this money go.
Half-empty: To the powers that be.

Half-full: Meteorologists know more than they used to.
Half-empty: You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A raise is a raise is a raise


If you want to know one of the reasons why the economy is mired in the sinkhole, check out this WSJ story of bonuses and raises for the highest paid CEOs in America.

Yes, getting by on $86 million a year is harder these days. Can you believe the price of cable TV? Even the cost of tires are steep.

Well, these CEOs were rewarded for the rise in their companies' stock price.

Their stock went up because revenues increased due to layoffs and outsourcing not because demand increased so dramatically for their products. In fact, demand is down across the board. That is the primary reason why the Great Recession goes on and on.

And, their were tax incentives, written by their lobbyists, that rewarded them for shipping jobs to Mexico, India or China. In essence, taxpayers subsidized the elimination of their jobs.

These CEOs then turned around and bankrolled the ascendancy of the teabaggers and the restoration of the GOP in the House. The speaker in waiting, John Boehner, is known as the main House member who is always for sale, to the highest bidder.

With the emphasis now on reducing the federal deficit, we can be assured that more jobs will be lost and that CEOs will get richer beyond the beyond.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Freedom rides again


To get your blood stirring, check out this link on a wealth manager. As the song goes: "Next to health is wealth, and only wealth will buy you justice."

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Speaking of money and banana republics, another song goes: "The rich get rich and the poor get children, ain't we got fun."

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Teabaggers should read a little history once in awhile. Our first attempt at a republic failed because of actions similar to what teabaggers are whining about in Arizona today. Then again, this is Arizona, a state that never turns down a chance at ridiculous publicity.

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What does Sarah know? Who knows? Even Reagan's chief acolyte dismisses the Quitter.

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Last week's election showed that the GOP's "Big Tent" houses the "White Fright" movement. Also, polls show that the GOP attracts the less-educated as well. Oh well.

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Finally, really shocked that this poor chimpanzee didn't end up at Tumalo's Chimps Inc., where he could have delighted visitors with his smoking prowess. Also, unfortunately, Chimps Inc. is holding another Civil War game fund-raiser, which is one or the weakest causes ever for such a fund-raiser. Chimps Inc. lures in young animal-lovers to care for the chimps at the "sanctuary" and then laughs at them when a chimp bites off their fingers.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Dudley: the latest GOP dud


True to form, Oregon Republicans showed what losers they are. They haven't won the governor's race now for more than a quarter century.

Today, as the vote tallies trickled out of Multnomah County, like Chinese water torture for GOPers, the ebullient elephants in rural Oregon, where few voters live, dropped to their knees in total despair.

You should be used to it by now.

Losers.

Naturally, many angry elephants see a conspiracy because most Oregon's voters live in the Portland area and most of them are Democrats.

They also blame ACORN and black helicopters.

In essence, these losers don't get it.

Oregon is a "blue" state, not a "red" state.

If you want to sleep with elephants, move to Utah. In some parts there, you can sleep with more than one elephant at a time.

Anyway, back to the Dud-ley (Do-Wrong?), a former Trail Blazer who couldn't hit a free throw even it came wrapped in tax cuts.

What sealed the deal for Dudley's demise was that he was correctly perceived as a RINO, Republican in Name Only. In fact, he was a registered Democrat in college, before he became a millionaire in the NBA and moved across the Columbia River to avoid paying Oregon income taxes.

The Libertarian and Constitution Party candidates knew this and that is why they ran. These extreme right-wing candidates cost Dudley the election.

This isn't new in Oregon. In fact, this is the status quo. The far-right and extreme right wings of the Republican base choose to cut off their noses to spite their faces.

When Dave Frohnmayer won the Republican nomination for governor in 1990, he enraged the the kooky fringe element in his party, which prompted a third party challenge from Al Mobley, who cost Frohnmayer the election. He ultimately lost to Democrat Barbara Roberts, the first woman governor in Oregon's history.

Ironically, Frohnmayer was such a popular attorney general that he was nominated for re-election by Republicans and Democrats in 1988.

Frohnmayer was an old-school Oregon Republican that was progressive. He eventually served as the University of Oregon's "best president ever" according to Phil Knight, Oregon alum and Nike benefactor.

Dudley, though, was a complete unknown, a "stealth candidate."

Wisely, he chose to debate Kitzhaber just once, on Oct. 1., but it cost him in the polls for a few days. By evading any future hard questions and relying on his significant war chest to fund a slew of negative ads, Dudley bumped into a slim lead.

It looks, though, that Dudley will lose by 10,000 to 15,000 votes. The Libertarian and Constitution Party candidates had more than 36,000 votes by 7:30 p.m. Nov. 3, the day after the election.

Once again, Republicans, and their "big tent," can't "win the day."

In fact, they can't win any statewide election.

How wimpy can you get?

Impeach Obama?


Forgot to mention in last post that another obsession teabaggers have is impeaching President Obama. (Google "Impeach Obama" for pictures and you'll see a wide variety stickers, buttons and t-shirts.)

At the least, teabagging House members will spend their time investigating Obama. Here's a quick look at those "investigations."

As for creating jobs? Well, you do need a lot of lawyers and legal secretaries when doing multiple investigations.

Now, if they can only find his birth certificate. That would solve all their problems.

More teabagging woe: Senate losses in Colorado and, likely, Alaska.




Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election: Teabaggers brewing trouble


Rand Paul, who won a Kentucky Senate seat, called his victory part of a "Tea Party tidal wave."

Make that a little back-splash in the bathtub by a pouting toddler.

The high-profile teabaggers in Nevada, Delaware, New York and elsewhere were all trounced.

The House, though, will have its fair share of teabaggers who could block John Boehner from becoming speaker. Michelle Bachmann, a complete wacko, may try for the post. Hope she gets it so that Americans can see the real face of the teabagging movement.

The diehard teabaggers have a wonderful platform: repeal health care reform, get rid of the minimum wage, privatize or eliminate social security, make English our official language and Christianity the official religion, wall off our borders and nuke Iran.

Is everybody happy now?

Well, the multi-millionaires - Meg Whitman, Carly Fiorina and Linda McMahon - are not. They got fleeced at the polls.

Whitman, by wasting $140 million of her own stash on her ego, is a disgrace to the human race.

Imagine what $140 million could do for those truly in need. Despicable.

Same goes for Fiorina and McMahon.

Another multi-millionaire, Chris Dudley, is leading the race for governor of Oregon by 20,000 votes over Democrat John Kitzhaber. However, most of the remaining votes, about 19 percent, come from the most populous county, Multnomah, which is breaking for Kitzhaber by a 2-1 margin.

Hope the sensible folks of Portland save our state from the embarrassment of electing a former basketball bench warmer as governor.

Finally, Republican Dino Rossi appears to be a loser yet again, this time against Sen. Patty Murray (D) in Washington state. This will be his third statewide defeat.

Yo, Dino. Get a life, loser.





Monday, October 25, 2010

Smartphone tidal wave


For the vast majority of Americans who are perfectly happy with their "dumbphones," your days are numbered.

Check out this link that shows an LG smartphone running Google's Android 2.2 (Froyo) on T-Mobile going for $30 with a two-year commitment. (Sidenote: A Wall Street Journal poll shows far greater satisfaction with Android than with Apple's iPhone.)

If you thought you had a great cell-phone plan with your dumbphone, it's time to think again.

The move to a smartphone, and its corresponding increase in monthly fees to the tune of $30, means that your cell phone bills won't get cheaper, but far more expensive.

Also, the network will get so congested that your smartphone will act like a dumbphone.

This is one of the great under-reported stories in America. We have all these wonderful phones that can't do much on our existing networks.

In this bogus attempt to "let the market decide," we end up with the worst networks in the industrialized world.

South Korea, Japan and even China have better networks than we have in this country. And yes, we are way behind Europe as well.

It's funny that those who want to look hip by carrying around an iPhone, need to use a Verizon phone to actually make phone calls that don't drop in mid-sentence.

This is the problem in America. We have more hype than substance, more sizzle than steak.

But, it's something we can text each other about, when we're not driving.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Good riddance, Juan Williams


NPR finally got rid of an "earsore" in Juan Williams for his bigoted comments about Muslims.

The problem is that they should have done this years ago when he compromised journalistic ethics by working for Fox News.

Fox News is to news what the People's Daily is to freedom of the press.

Also, Fox News parent, News Corp., donates millions to Republican candidates.

Fair and balanced?

Not a chance.

There is no news on Fox, just commentary. That's fine, but journalism, and the word is stretched here to apply to commercial television, is more about reporting the news than bloviating about it.

Was it censorship as Williams claims? No. Can an entity that receives government funding fire someone for their opinions? Yes. Read this short piece at Salon for an explanation.

Williams' other main problem is that he's a bi-analyst. He swings both ways. On NPR, he'll give opinions that he thinks a liberal audience wants to hear and on Fox he says stuff that ultra-conservatives love.

In essence, has no moral compass. He has few principles that money can easily buy.

Finally, Williams is totally overrated as a political analyst.

When Ray Suarez left NPR's "Talk of the Nation" to work on the News Hour on PBS, Williams came in and he wasn't very good. He was no Ray Suarez, who is the best interviewer on radio or television.

Williams found out that words matter.

The sad thing is that he is whining all the way to the bank.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Oregon No. 6 for business


Oregon, in spite of raising income taxes on the rich, keeps getting noticed for being a good place for business. Last month, Bend ranked No. 7 in Forbes magazine for being one of the best small places to do business.

Now, Forbes ranks Oregon No. 6 out of the 50 states for being great for business and careers, moving up four spots after passing our tax hikes. Our neighbor to the north, which has no state income tax, ranks No. 5.

Check out this story, which contains a brilliant quote from a spokesman for Our Oregon, a non-profit group promoting "economic and tax fairness," who said that corporate interests always bad-mouth Oregon's business climate.

"They have an interest in creating and in spreading this false and toxic rumor that Oregon is bad for business," said Scott Moore. "Because by doing that they then lobby the legislature for even lower taxes on business."

So true.

That is why Chris Dudley has a chance at being Oregon's first Republican governor in 25 years. His sole platform is too cut capital gains taxes on the rich, which in turn will make life more miserable for the desperate and the destitute in this state.

Oh, and Dudley wants to privatize the sale of hard liquor. For some reason, Republicans have long considered the state control of hard liquor sales as one of the greatest attacks on our freedoms.

The freedom to be alcoholics.

Dudley and other Republicans running for office believe that government can't create jobs but say they are running for office to create jobs.

Huh?

As I've noted before in other blog posts, Oregon's economy has always been weak because we have few direct connections to the federal trough aside from county timber payments which are always on the chopping block. We have no military bases and we have few defense contractors.

And yet, as the article points out, businesses are moving to, or expanding in, Oregon.

Intel announced this week that it'll expand its operations in Hillsboro, a Portland suburb, to the tune of $3.5 billion.

Vestas, the wind energy giant, is moving its world headquarters to Portland.

Hi-Tec shoes is moving its U.S. headquarters from California to Portland.

Oregon has always bent over for business and that is another reason why the economy has never been strong in this state. When business runs the government, they just raid the treasury and then turn around and say government is bloated and must lose weight. Huh?

Fat cats get really fat at government, and taxpayers', expense.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Newspapers back Kitzhaber


Twelve of the 14 "major" newspapers in Oregon are backing Democrat John Kitzhaber because these editors can see the obvious: Kitzhaber is qualified while his Republican opponent, Chris Dudley, is not.

The two newspapers that endorsed Dudley are The (Bend) Bulletin and The (Salem) Statesman Journal.

(The Bulletin further diminished whatever credibility it had left by being the only "major" paper endorsing Republican/Libertarian Jim Huffman over Ron Wyden for the U.S. Senate. Maybe the daily should be called Teabagging Times.)

It should be noted that the Statesman Journal is a Gannett newspaper and the publisher of The Bulletin is Gordon Black, a former, longtime Gannett henchman.

Gannett also publishes USA Today, which is known in the business as "Useless Today."

Of course, a newspaper endorsement is essentially meaningless these days, but 12 of 14?

The discerning dozen represent liberal areas, such as Portland and Eugene, and also conservative regions, such as Medford and Pendleton.

As usual, there is no story on television station endorsements because they rarely, if ever, make endorsements. Not they matter anyway. Besides, almost all campaign money is spent on television ads and no TV station would want to offend a potential advertiser and lose their business by endorsing one candidate over another.

Still, it's ridiculous that a non-entity like Dudley, a former NBA second-stringer, is the best the GOP has to offer against Kitzhaber, who is a former emergency room doctor, state representative, president of the state Senate and two-term governor.

But, it shows what a massive amount of money will do. Dudley has avoided all but one debate with Kitzhaber and it's obvious why: He may stand taller, but he is really short on any experience remotely connected to leadership.

Let's hope these newspapers are right and that Oregonians vote for the real thing instead of a poser like Dudley.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Falling home prices give Bend new ranking


Bend is always making some sort of top 10 list for either the fastest appreciating or fastest depreciating home prices.

Well, Bankrate.com now rates Bend in the top 10 for to retire because of the cratering home prices.

In an article titled "10 Great Places to Retire in the U.S.," the writer says "Bend rank among both the 'top 10 four-season towns' and 'top 10 mountain towns.'"

Well, I'm not sure about this "four-season" status, but we are experiencing a beautiful fall right now with leaves turning brilliant colors of red, yellow and amber.

Spring usually passes in a blink between winter and summer and it's not worth planting tomatoes until June 1.

Cold temperatures are common from October into May, be we can have surprisingly mild Januarys. Still, last December we had temps as low as 17 degrees below zero, which was the coldest we've seen in our 26 years here. It does snow in Bend, but, a white Christmas is the exception and not the rule. We've had only one real snowy winter and that was 18 years ago.

Hot summer days are usually confined to July and August and the temperature rarely breaks 100 degrees.

Because we are a mountain/high desert town, cool nights are standard throughout the year. In fact, we can have 50-degree temperature swings in a single day.

But, the air is usually crisp and clean, except for those rare inversions that trap smoke from wood stoves in winter or when fire season blazes away in August.

The weather here does have great variety, though, sometimes all in one day.

The story also says Bend attracts "active retirees" and that is certainly true because of the skiing and hiking opportunities, not to mention fishing and hunting.

But, the real reason Bankrate.com takes notice of Bend is the falling home prices. The median price dropped from around $400,000 in 2006 to around $200,000 today.

But, with stories like this one from Bankrate.com it won't take long for Bend to attract more retirees, which will eventually push up the price of homes and then make Bend unaffordable and unattractive once again.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Ducks No. 1 for first time ever


When a No. 1 team loses, as did Ohio State on Saturday, the No. 2 team usually moves up a spot, but you never know with polls.

What's shocking is that it is the Oregon Ducks who were No. 2, but are now No. 1 in both major polls, AP (writers) and USA Today (coaches). Later Sunday, the Ducks were ranked No. 1 in the Harris poll.

It's never happened before to a team from this state. It's a major milestone. The last time a new team (Virginia) reached No. 1 in the major polls was 20 years ago. It's a spot usually occupied by the major football powerhouses.

Oregon has arrived, but not all the way.

It has yet to play for the national championship and the first BCS poll, a confounding system using multiple computer models which determines who plays for the penultimate college game, puts Oregon second behind Oklahoma.

To play in the championship game, the Ducks would need to go undefeated and have all SEC, Big Ten and Big 12 teams have at least one loss. Otherwise, the Ducks don't have a chance.

But forget that now. There has never been a true national champion in college football because there has never been a playoff system to determine the best team.

The Ducks are No. 1, though, in the hearts and minds of most college observers. That's quite a turnaround from Oregon's mostly dismal past.

I moved to Oregon in 1984, a year after the 0-0 "Toilet Bowl" game between Oregon and Oregon State. Neither team was distinguishable from the other and both made the Bottom 10 poll for years.

To see the Ducks make the long, unsteady climb to this point is amazing.

Congratulations to all associated with the program, especially the long-suffering fans. Enjoy it while you can.

Because it could all end Thursday when lowly UCLA comes to Eugene for a night game. Hey, the Bruins dominated Texas, which just took down Nebraska.

Three years ago, Oregon was ranked No. 2 and then saw it all unravel in a Thursday night game against Arizona in Tucson when QB Dennis Dixon went down for the year.

Injuries could play another major role as the Ducks play USC a week after UCLA and those two teams always have recruiting classes rated much higher than Oregon has ever had. That means that UCLA and USC have bigger, faster, and perhaps better, players than Oregon does.

Here's hoping that Oregon escapes the injury bug this season although they had serious close calls with two key players when they whipped Washington State last week.

Being ranked No. 1 enlarges the target on your back and everyone wants to take their best shot at you. The Ducks will find out that holding on to that spot is even harder than making it to the top.

Go Ducks!

You're No. 1, at least for this week.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Direct anger at Wall Street, upper class


With unemployment at about 10 percent nationally, 15 percent here in Deschutes County, with foreclosures continuing at record levels despite the banks' inability to even read the paperwork and with the recovery looking more like recession 2.0, Wall Street firms will bestow a record $144 billion in bonuses on their employees.

Where is this money coming from?

This is one of the great conundrums of our time.

With teabaggers railing against government at all levels and with corporate media slamming government workers for their health and retirement benefits, the people most responsible for our economic collapse are laughing all the way to the bank, most likely a bank in Switzerland.

During these brutal economic times, corporate media focuses on the lower elements of our economy. We hear plenty of stories about how awful public education is in America and that this is due solely to the fact that most teachers belong to unions.

Really?

Instead of focusing attention on the rats on Wall Street, the corporate media picks on the 12 percent of Americans who belong to unions.

What about the other 88 percent of Americans who do not belong to unions?

Corporate media also tries to point out that the Supreme Court's ruling on election donations results in equal donations between unions and corporations.

That is false.

Currently, corporations are outspending unions 7 to 1.

What the media does so successfully is not point out these inequities, but to distort reality.

The media gets the middle class to fight with others in the middle class and also with those in the lower classes.

Meanwhile, the upper class is rewarding itself with $144 billion of money stolen form the middle and lower classes.

The upper class turns around and donates money to causes to further crush the middle and lower classes.

If teabaggers had any brains, they would be targeting Wall Streeters and their obscene bonuses rather than the government or unions.

But, the middle and lower classes are middle and lower classes precisely because they can't see that the upper class gets them to fight among themselves for the scraps they leave behind.

What the middle and lower classes should be doing, take note teabaggers, is divert their anger towards Wall Street and the upper class.

If they did, they wouldn't care if terrorists attacked lower Manhattan again.

In fact, they would be grateful.