Saturday, March 31, 2012

The battle of the special K's

It's not surprising that the local daily newspaper is tailoring its coverage of the secretary of state race to favor local boy Knute Buehler, a Republican.

The daily, about 99 percent of the time, endorses the Republican over the Democrat, even when they are proven kooks.

And since Knute is an accomplished orthopedic surgeon with a CV that includes being a Rhodes Scholar, he's a natural for the newspaper.

The only problem is that he has no experience in running for office and has never held any public office.

The GOP likes these kind of candidates. It pushed former Portland Trail Blazer Chris "Airball" Dudley against John Kitzhaber and he damn near pulled it off in 2010, a bad year for Democrats nationwide.

But, Dudley didn't win.

Still, he raised a ton of money and Knute has too by using Dudley's bag-woman. He has more money in the bank than his opponent, current Secretary of State Kate Brown.

Money matters, but the problem for Knute, aside from being a Republican in a Democratic state, is that he gets his political cues from Fox News.

When Kate ruled that the labor commissioner race would be held in November instead of May since the race is not contested in the primary, Knute called this "Chicago-style machine politics."

Say what?

That kind of chatter excites the GOP wing-nut base, but means absolutely nothing to the average Oregon voter.

What Knute means is that the GOP would likely turn out more voters than the Democrats in the primary since the Republican presidential race is contested and the Democratic side is not.

It obviously makes more sense to hold the labor commissioner's race in November when the voter expects contested races to be held and will turn out accordingly. Republicans were hoping to sneak in a rare statewide win during a low turnout primary.  

Plus, Knute is running on another bogus issue: voter fraud.

Oregon Republicans can't win a statewide race so they grasp at ways to suppress the Democratic vote.

Voter fraud is so rare across the country, particularly in Oregon, that the GOP resorts to this cause because it's got nothing left.

In Texas, that state's high court threw out the voter ID laws because there is no evidence that it is a problem. In fact, after exhaustive efforts, the Texas attorney general found 26 cases of voter fraud over the past 6 years. The population of Texas is about 26 million.

It would behoove Republicans to turn off Fox News and go outside and check the political environment once in awhile.

A clear majority of Oregonians do not want the government to limit women's access to their own reproductive health. Oregonians do not believe in teaching "intelligent design/creationism" in the public schools. Oregonians know there is no evidence of chronic voter fraud in this state.

Oregonians believe in personal liberty, which is why we were the first state with a "death with dignity" law. And, Oregonians resent Republicans who seek to limit our freedoms rather than expand them.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Mitt-wit strikes again

Instead of your basic mega-millionaire trying to buy political office, Mitt-wit Romney is trying to portray himself as your All-American everyman merely exercising his civic duty.

But, a few of stories today would suggest being "off-message" for your average pol.

Except that Mitt-wit isn't average, he'll have you know.

No, and he doesn't come from average stock.

Mitt-wit shared what he considered a "funny anecdote" via conference call with thousands in Wisconsin about how his father, as head of American Motors, shipped jobs from Michigan to Wisconsin but tried to keep it hush-hush until after the elder Romney was elected governor of Michigan.

Yeah, that was a riot.

Then, while trying to display his bona-fide hipness on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, the Mitt-wit allowed that those with pre-existing conditions should be denied health insurance coverage.

And, as noted before, all of us will have pre-existing conditions once our personal genome is mapped.

I guess we all won't need health insurance. Isn't that grand.

Then, after two swings and misses, Mitt-wit was swinging for the fences when he took out permits to get an elevator installed at his home that is being rebuilt in La Jolla, Calif.

According to Politico, the re-constructed home will have a "3,600-square-foot basement -- a room with more floor space than the existing home's entire living quarters."

Oh, and that elevator, it's for cars, because if there is one thing you need in California, is an elevator for your vehicles.

Meanwhile, is it any surprise that President Obama is maintaining his leads over his potential rivals, particularly in key swing states?


Not when Mitt-wit gets to open his mouth wide enough to insert both feet and hands.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Obama's failures can't match Bush's

A cartoon ran in the local daily today by Chip Bok, who inks some clever anti-Obama editorial cartoons, that is worth noting.

If President Obama's failures can be summed up as Solyndra, Keystone and the Chevy Volt, he's doing pretty darn well.

Solyndra refers to the solar enterprise that apparently squandered hundreds of millions of taxpayers dollars after the Chinese solar companies received even greater subsidies to beat us at our own game.

Keystone refers to the Canadian pipeline that Obama rejected because the environmental impact wasn't fully weighed and the northern states it would criss-cross didn't want it anyway.

As for the Chevy Volt, GM has suspended production because of soft sales, but it doesn't mean that the Volt has failed completely. In fact, it's European cousin, the Opel Ampera, is doing quite well.

Now, compare this with George W. Bush's energy successes: Fracking, offshore oil drilling and tax breaks for buying Hummers.

Let's see, fracking uses dangerous chemicals that oil companies don't have to disclose and causes earthquakes not fully understood. Drilling in the Gulf of Mexico produced the biggest oil spill in American history by BP. And, giving tax breaks to urban drivers for buying huge, gas-guzzling SUVs sent the exact wrong message to consumers.

I'll take Obama's attempts at reasonable solutions to our energy deficiencies rather than Bush's devotion to looking backwards.

Obama looks forward to solve our problems. He is precisely what we need at the dawn of this new millennium.

It's better to fail at something hopeful than to succeed at something so detrimental to our world.

Advantage Obama.

Obamacare at High Court: Either 5-4 against or 8-1 for

As the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, is argued before the Supreme Court, we all want to know who wins and who loses.

Of course, TV always frame this is as a Republican vs. Democrat thing and completely ignores the impact on Americans, both great and small. Nor do the talking heads note often enough that the mandate part of the law is the brainchild of Republican "think tanks."

How the High Court decides, either for or against Obamacare, is only seen as how it will affect the presidential race between President Obama and Mitt Romney.

Nevermind that the health care of 40 million uninsured Americans hangs in the balance. Forget that Americans spend the most and get the least in health care among the most developed nations in the world. And, if you have a pre-existing condition, well, guess you don't deserve health insurance.

And, with DNA mapping, we'll all have pre-existing conditions in the future.

The only thing that seems to matter is will Obama be hurt or helped by this ruling.

To this I say, who knows and who cares.

What matters is the health of Americans, not which political party wins or loses.

Should the High Court overturn Obamacare by a 5-4 vote, all Americans lose. A 5-4 vote means the same as a 9-0 outcome.

If the Supreme Court votes 8-1 to uphold the health care reform law, all Americans win.

The court, being dominated by 5 conservatives appointed by Republican presidents, would seem likely to vote against Obamacare.

Except that it would be rightfully accused of judicial overreach.

Plus, the commerce clause of the Constitution, on which Obamacare will be argued, has proved time and again to be the most important and useful clause to reform this country.

On thing we know for sure about the High Court is that Justice Clarence Thomas has already voted against Obamacare. His vote is so predictable since his wife is actively campaigning against the law and everything Obama stands for. I think he'll choose wife over country any day.

The other conservative justices, though, certainly have no reservation about voting to support Republicans as it did in Bush v. Gore in 2000 and in the Citizens United ruling in 2010.

They know on which side their bread is buttered or margarined on.

Still, almost all of the appeals courts, many of them conservative, have ruled in favor of Obamacare.

Not that it matters.

The High Court can cite the flimsiest of reasons to scuttle the law.

Or, they can do the right and honorable thing, stay out of the political process and vote to uphold it.

I see an 8-1 vote in favor of Obamacare.

Of course, that is the rosy outlook. It could easily be 5-4 against, which would then lead to court cases against Social Security and Medicare. Won't that be fun.

There could be unintended consequences, though, should the court rule against Obamacare.

It could eventually lead us to a single-payer system, such as Medicare.

This could lead us to confront the true enemies of health care for all: insurance and pharmaceutical companies.

The war on health care for all is just beginning.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Etch A Sketch or Stand Your Ground? You decide

A liberal , a conservative and a moderate walk into a bar, 
The bartender says "Hi Mitt!"

I can't take credit for that joke. It belongs to "ranewton," who posted it after a Joe Klein essay at The Huffington Post taking Mitt Romney's campaign to task for its latest gaffe, "Etch a Sketch."

Klein thinks this phrase, which means wiping the Etch a Sketch clean of nasty extremist positions doodled during the primary season and start the fall campaign with a clean, moderate slate, could doom his presidential chances.

If that's what it takes, let's hope so. 

The irony is that Mittens and his minions end up blunting whatever momentum was gained from a primary victory, this time in Illinois, the very next day with some crazy comment.

Can you imagine if something great happened on Mitt's watch if he were president?

Let's say that the jobless rate fell to 5 percent. The next day, or even that afternoon, Mitt would announce that, in order to reduce the deficit, we're going to outsource our defense contracts to the Chinese.

On one hand, Mitt Romney may be the perfect candidate to always compromise his own positions.

On the other, maybe he should put his mitts on a BB gun, don a coonskin cap and stand his ground.

Which leads us to the killing of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla. 

No charges have been filed even though the killer, George Zimmerman, admitted to the crime inside a gated community. 

Zimmerman's defense is Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law, which lets anyone kill anyone else if they feel threatened. And yes, this pathetic law was pushed by the NRA.

"Stand Your Ground" is now the phrase of our times.

But, what if an African-American stood his ground in front of Zimmerman and shot him?

Well, obviously, that African-American would be immediately arrested and eventually tried by a jury of his peers. All white, of course. 

With no justice being served in Sanford, the African-American community in Florida, and around the country, is rightfully angry. 

Much of white America shrugs. And, unfortunately, many Americans say the 17-year-old had it coming and consider Zimmerman, who is Hispanic, a hero for taking a stand "against all that is wrong with society."

In that sense, Zimmerman represents the teabagging anger of the crowd that is irrationally hostile to President Obama. 

Teabaggers would love to see Obama gone, by whatever means necessary. Yes, teabaggers long for someone to stand his ground in front of Obama and "liberate" the country.

When you stand your ground, though, there is no Etch a Sketch to shake to make the chalk outline of a dead body disappear.

It's permanent.

And the damage lasts a lifetime.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

News that doesn't fit on Fox

If you want to hear opinions about the "greatness" of Republicans or how President Obama is "destroying" America, then Fox News is for you.

But, if you want to know what's going on in this country or the world, Fox News is not the place to get that information. In fact, you're likely to be mis-informed. As noted before, a recent study showed that those who don't follow the news at all know more about what's going on than those who only watch Fox News.

With that said, here are some stories that are hard to find on Fox News.

A new analysis by the Associated Press shows that drilling for more oil does not result in lower gas prices.  The typical Fox News viewer would naturally dispute the AP report, if it knew it existed, even though the reporters pored over monthly data from the past 36 years.

Here's a sample paragraph:

"Sometimes prices increase as American drilling ramps up. That's what has happened in the past three years. Since February 2009, U.S. oil production has increased 15 percent when seasonally adjusted. Prices in those three years went from $2.07 per gallon to $3.58. It was a case of drilling more and paying much more." 

And here's another:

"When Bush and running mate Dick Cheney campaigned in 2000, they argued that as oil executives they could get oil prices down, with Bush saying, `'I would work with our friends in OPEC to convince them to open up the spigot, to increase the supply.' "

"Yet it was during the last few months of Bush's term in 2008 that gas prices hit their highest: $4.27 when adjusted for inflation."

As noted in an earlier post, speculators now control 80 percent of the oil futures market and that is the primary reason we are paying so much at the pump.

Meanwhile in Tennessee, home of the Scopes Monkey Trial from the 1920s that kept the teaching of evolution out of public schools, the Republican-dominated state Senate passed an anti-evolution bill.

This prompted a response from a Nobel laureate, not that he knows anything, which is what the Fox News viewer would say.

" 'By undermining the teaching of evolution in Tennessee's public schools, HB368 and SB893 would miseducate students, harm the state's national reputation, and weaken its efforts to compete in a science-driven global economy,' said the statement signed by Stanley Cohen, who won the Nobel Prize in physiology of medicine in 1986, and seven other scientists."

As for religion, the Pew Research Center has a new poll out that shows 54 percent of Americans, and 60 percent of Catholics, say churches should keep out of politics.

 Here's a sampling:

"The number of people who say there has been too much religious talk by political leaders stands at an all-time high since the Pew Research Center began asking the question more than a decade ago. And most Americans continue to say that churches and other houses of worship should keep out of politics."

Finally, we have the tragic killing of Trayvon Martin by a neighborhood watch volunteer. Fox News barely reported the story at first, but had to join the mainstream press because the story got too big to ignore.

Judging by respondents to a recent story on, though, perhaps it's better for Fox to ignore stories that don't sit will with its core audience of racists.

Here are just two comments:

"What a shame—a tragedy, really— because the dead lil’ gangsta could’ve used “‘A-FIRM-TIV AK-SHUN” to go to kollige an play footballz and make lotsa cash munny!”

"It is obvious the un-civilized B!ACKS who dwell in the greatist nation on earth have never wanted to be part of the TEAM, they CRY and P!SS and MOAN at every given oportunity about fairness and equality, While lining up for the free ride at welfare.
The United States is cursed with these baboons, Who will never gain the ability to stand up and make it on their own without our help.
They are the eternal retarded stepchild , needfull and helpless until the end of time. "

And the beat goes on.

Monday, March 19, 2012

250,000 in Bend?

Well, maybe in a 100 years.

As of July 1, 2011, PSU's Population Research Center estimated Bend had a population of 76,925, Redmond had 26,305 and Sisters, 2,055.

In fact, Deschutes County's population estimate was just 172,050 as of July 1, 2010, according to PSU.

But, recently, one of Bend's top developers claimed he expects to see Bend's population hit 250,000 by 2050.

I think it's safe to say that the county may hit 250,000 by 2050, but not Bend itself.

Besides, there is no way the city could handle that population growth when it can't supply sewer to half its citizens now.

There aren't even sidewalks in much of the city.

As for roads, the city has a few hundred million dollars in projects already lined up just to handle our current population.

Part of the problem is that the city lets developers design the city to their benefit. The other problem is that long-time residents are forced to subsidize these developers through higher property taxes and skyrocketing water/sewer rates.

Bend has never developed a "public facilities strategy" and, consequently, our public facilities can't keep pace with growth.

Yes, Bend is a desirable place to live, but unless you come here with wealth, you aren't likely to make your fortune here.

It's always been known as "poverty with a view."

The only "industry" is tourism, but contrary to an article in the local daily, we do not have "world class tourism amenities."

We've got some nice golf courses, some decent restaurants, but accommodations are definitely not even close to "world class."

Our ski resort, Mt. Bachelor, is great, but it is too short to ever attract World Cup ski races.

On the plus side, the medical community in Bend is the largest east of the Cascades.

And, Bend has become a beer town, thanks to Deschutes Brewery and about a dozen other brewpubs/breweries in the greater Bend area.

But, a beer gut will only get you so far in this world.

What's next? A medical marijuana mecca?

Bend does have Central Oregon Community College and a tiny branch campus of Oregon State University located at COCC.

The only way Bend could approach 250,000 people in 100 years is through higher education with a legitimate four-year university. Local leaders know a such a school is a necessity for long-term sustainability of the region.

But, the powers that be can't agree on a strategy.

While we have COCC/OSU Cascades on Bend's west side, there is this ridiculous notion that a "world-class" research university can sprout up from the sagebrush at Juniper Ridge on Bend's northeast side.

I've written before that the only private four-year school we could ever attract is a Bible college and that is exactly what is happening with Northwest Nazarene University.

Given the fact that Bend almost always elects Republicans to the state legislature in a Democratic state and that these Republicans just want to cut government spending, including at all levels of education, the west side of the state merely laughs at our higher ed aspirations.

Until the leaders of our community realize that COCC/OSU Cascades should evolve into a four-year university at its present site and seek ways to fund that institution, say through a 3-cent increase in the beer tax, rather than de-fund it with tax cuts, we won't ever have such a school.

Oregon is not alone in de-funding higher education. This is a national problem that will ultimately make us less competitive, less affluent, less secure and, well, less educated.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

End this March madness

The "war on women" continues unabated as Republicans across the country are doing their best to antagonize women.

Senate Republicans oppose extending the Violence Against Women Act that first passed with broad bipartisanship support in 1994.

In Pennsylvania, the Republican governor dismissed the complaints that a new ultrasound bill goes too far by saying, "You just have to close your eyes."

In Wisconsin, a onetime progressive state, the GOP-dominated Assembly voted to ban private insurance abortion coverage and teaching contraception in school.

Republican Idaho, which never likes to be left behind when looniness calls, saw a legislative panel vote to oppose the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act. Also, the state Senate backed its own anti-abortion ultrasound legislation.

And in Arizona, a longtime leader in sun-baked leadership, a Senate judiciary panel endorsed a bill that would allow employers the right to deny health insurance coverage for contraceptives based on religious objections.

What's driving all this wackiness is the GOP assumption that religion (meaning Christianity only) is under attack.

But, a new poll shows that most Americans do not believe religious liberty is under assault.

So what is this really all about?

Well, it's a way for GOP lawmakers, mostly men by the way, to show how much they hate President Obama, which solidifies their wingnut bona-fides.

It is hard to imagine, though, that all this anti-women rhetoric, will accomplish anything other than enrage women and the men who back them.

And, what do all these potential laws have to do with creating jobs and hiring workers?

Well, nothing.

That's exactly what the GOP has to offer as the national economy slowly rebounds from the meltdown of 2008, before Obama was elected president.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

'Toxic and destructive'

An op-ed piece in the New York Times today has ruffled a few feathers on Wall Street for daring to expose Goldman Sachs by a former employee.

Take a read and you'll see why we're so many of us lost so much in the Great Recession.

Here's a sample from the article written by a former Goldman Sachs trader named Greg Smith:

"I attend derivatives sales meetings where not one single minute is spent asking questions about how we can help clients. It’s purely about how we can make the most possible money off of them." 

Or this:

"What are three quick ways to become a leader (at Goldman Sachs)?  a) Execute on the firm’s “axes,” which is Goldman-speak for persuading your clients to invest in the stocks or other products that we are trying to get rid of because they are not seen as having a lot of potential profit. b) “Hunt Elephants.” In English: get your clients — some of whom are sophisticated, and some of whom aren’t — to trade whatever will bring the biggest profit to Goldman. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t like selling my clients a product that is wrong for them. c) Find yourself sitting in a seat where your job is to trade any illiquid, opaque product with a three-letter acronym." 

The essay provoked hundreds of responses at the end of the story. They're worth checking out, too.

The article was so incendiary and, apparently, too truthful that the Wall Street Journal devoted a good chunk of the top of their website to it this afternoon.  In fact, the WSJ had six different stories/videos devoted to the op-ed piece, including one titled: "Experts: 'Just Resign and Move On.' "

The main WSJ story had hundreds of responses, too. They're worth looking at.

For more responses, you can go to the Digg entry.

The upshot is that Smith exposed a trend on Wall Street to take whatever you can from whoever you can, be it the government clerk with a 403(b) or a corporate secretary with a 401(k) or the government itself.

Actually, Goldman Sachs was willing to screw over its competitors for some extra bling. And, obviously they're not the only ones.

If you haven't seen it, check out "Margin Call" on DVD. It, too, is revealing about the 2008 meltdown. It shows how a Wall Street firm was willing to sell junk to longtime buyers just so they could avoid collapse. Again, another game of hot potato, with the one holding it at the end getting burned.

For anyone who has continued to throw money away on Wall Street by way of automatic deductions for your 401(k) retirement plan, you may want to rethink that position.

Until Wall Street shows you the money, don't show them anymore of yours.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Another victory night for Obama

Rick Santorum wins the GOP primaries in Alabama and Mississippi, the two states with the most racist and ignorant Republican voters in the country.

In other words, if Alabama and Mississippi are for Santorum, he has absolutely no chance of being elected president of the United States.

This is all good news for President Obama.

Whenever Mitt Romney loses, Obama wins because Mitt is the only GOP candidate with a prayer against Obama.

But, Mitt whiffed in the South on Tuesday. He came in third behind Newt "Family Values" Gingrich despite spending far more money than his three competitors combined.

Mitt will likely be the Republican nominee, but he is now more damaged goods since the deep base of the GOP doesn't care for him and will likely not turn out and vote for him in November.

As I've noted before, if Mitt can't energize Republicans to get out and vote for him, it spells trouble for  GOP candidates in other federal, state or local races.

Still, it's only mid-March. We've got eight long months of negative ads, funded by unregulated Super-PACs, to wade through.

It's fun, though, to see Republicans make themselves look ridiculous in trying to pander to the least-common denominator in America.

A new low in local debates

The Tea Party held a debate for Deschutes County Commission candidates on Monday and shockingly, the Democratic candidates showed up.

The Tea Party, being affiliated with Republicans, already sponsored a presidential GOP debate.

But, it is certain that the Tea Party won't be sponsoring a presidential debate this fall because national Democrats would rightly object to such a travesty.

The Redmond branch of Central Oregon Patriots (COP) sponsored the local event.

According to the daily newspaper in Bend, the debate opened with a prayer that included the phrase "to make this a Christian nation again."


One of the missions of COP and other teabaggers is to get government to strictly adhere to the Constitution. Well, nowhere does it say that America is a Christian nation.

Also, the article noted that some questions went unanswered when "they covered issues that commissioners do not face."

I'm sure these questions concerned abortion and gay marriage. Maybe, bombing Iran was in there, too.
Did they ask if they believed President Obama was a Muslim or U.S. citizen? These are questions that county officials across the land grapple with everyday. Not.

And, of course, no teabagging Republican debate would be complete without the obligatory reference to Ronald Reagan.

The commission candidates were asked, according to the paper, "to rate their political ideology from one -- for Ronald Reagan -- to 10 for, Barack Obama."


There are many in Deschutes County who claim they are card-carrying members of the Tea Party.

But, the vast majority of the residents here are not.

We do not appreciate this freaky, fringe element given legitimate status in being able to hold a debate at which Democrats are compelled to participate.

Calling out to League of Women Voters. We need your help.

Look away, from Dixieland

The GOP's carnival marches through the Deep South today with primaries in Alabama and Mississippi, two states that continue to embarrass this country nearly 150 years after the end of slavery.

The intelligence of Southerners has always been questioned. A recent poll confirms the worst about white, racist Republicans.

In Mississippi, when Republicans were asked if Barack Obama is a Christian or a Muslim or are you not sure, the results were disturbing:

Christian - 12%
Muslim - 52%
Not sure - 36%

Alabama, by comparison, showed enlightenment on this question. Republican respondents there thought Obama was:

Christian - 14%
Muslim - 45%
Not sure - 42%

Then, of course, these Southerners were asked if they believed in evolution or not.

Their responses indicate they have not evolved as much as most educated people in the world.

In Mississippi, respondents:

Believe in evolution - 22%
Do not - 66%
Not sure - 11%

In Alabama, respondents:

Believe in evolution - 26%
Do not - 60%
Not sure - 13%

It was always humiliating that the South was reliably Democratic until the mid-1960s when President Johnson signed Civil Rights legislation.

Giving up the South, though, ensured that Democrats would lose many presidential elections in the following decades because it no longer catered to racists.

Richard Nixon saw the opening and seized it in 1968 and 1972.

Ronald Reagan put his arm around the Southern racists in 1980 and brought them fully home to the GOP.

Good riddance. You can have the ignorant racists.

President Obama will win re-election without them.

Monday, March 12, 2012

What the papers wouldn't run

This is what didn't run today in many newspapers across the country

Garry Trudeau knows how to skewer, ridicule and mock our world and the people in it with his classic, long-running comic strip Doonesbury.

Along the way, he stirs up a bit of controversy.

He gets too political for some newspapers. So instead of placing Doonesbury amid all the other strips on the comics page, some papers put it on the editorial page or op-ed page.

Or, newspapers run a substitute strip provided by Doonesbury's syndicate, Universal Press Syndicate, now called Universal UClick, when a topic gets too touchy for "family" newspapers.

Which is what our daily and The Oregonian did today. The Oregonian gave its reasons for not running the above strip, but our paper did not.

Below is the repeat strip that ran in The Bulletin today:

Trudeau speaks about the latest kerfuffle in this Washington Post story.

Before anyway starts crying "censorship," as some did over Rush Limbaugh recently, it should be noted that newspapers, and other forms of media, can choose not to run comics, stories, ads or photos at any time. In fact, they do so on a regular basis.

It's not censorship. It is only censorship when the government says something cannot be printed in a free press.

Newspapers are exercising their editorial judgment when they choose not to run something. You may argue with that decision, but they own the press, the ink and the paper.

Thank God we have the Internet these days. It's harder to suppress the news. And, it's easier to get the word out.

So, you can check out Slate, which runs the Doonesbury strip that Trudeau intends to run on that given day.

Keep surfing the web.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Unintended consequences of 'war'

Are we in the middle of the war on women or the war on religion?

Actually, they're both related.

Since women are the backbone of most religions, a war on women also harms organized religion.

Most religions are patriarchal and the modern woman wants more from organized religion than the men who run those religions will allow.

Consequently, women have been leaving organized religion, including Catholicism, for years.

Samuel Johnson once said that "patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel."

Could it be that religion is the last refuge of the sexist male?

The Washington Post religion writer offers her take on the religious battle of the sexes with a provocative essay.

She quotes liberally from a recent book titled, "The Resignation of Eve: What if Adam's Rib is No Longer Willing to Be the Church's Backbone?"

"Between 1991 and 2011, the number of adult women attending church weekly has declined 20 percent. The number of women going to Sunday school has dropped by about a third, as has the number of women who volunteer at church.

"In its pages, the author, an evangelical minister named Jim Henderson, argues that unless the male leaders of conservative Christian churches do some serious soul-searching — pronto — the women who have always sustained those churches with their time, sweat and cash will leave. In droves. And they won’t come back. Their children, traditionally brought to church by their mothers, will thus join the growing numbers of Americans who call themselves 'un-churched.' ”

Obviously, this isn't good for religions.

But, religions are pulling away from their communities who they disdain for becoming more secular.

Last year, the Catholic Church ended its affiliation with St. Charles Medical Center in Bend because the hospital allowed tubal ligations to be performed there.  The Church, evidently, wasn't concerned that vasectomies were also being done there.

The bishop who made the break with the hospital has been reassigned and a new bishop, appointed by Pope Benedict XVI, will take over the Diocese of Baker, which includes Bend.

Will the new bishop, as the last one did, require those Catholics wishing to participate in positions of leadership to sign a pledge that they adhere to the church's positions on abortion, contraception, the death penalty and gay relationships?

Apparently, such requirements are not common in the Catholic Church.

In California, "The Catholic Diocese of Sacramento no longer will fund programs at Francis House, a nonprofit agency that serves homeless people, because of its new director's views supporting abortion rights and gay marriage."

Read more here:

It is no surprise that the ones crying the loudest about the mandate that all women have access to contraceptives are men.

Bill O'Reilly, a Catholic himself, said that Viagra should be covered by insurance, but that contraceptives should not.

This naturally leads to this impertinent question: Do the health insurance plans of Catholic-affiliated institutions cover Viagra, even if a priest seeks a prescription?

It's these double-standards, which favor men over women, that rankles most women and many men.

The current Republican candidates for president, all men, have staked their positions: They're for religion on this issue and against women.

This not only hurts their elective chances as noted in a previous post, but it also fractures the GOP itself. 

A New York Republican lawmaker, who obviously is not running for re-election, says she'll vote for President Obama because the Republican candidates "would take women back decades."

This focus on religion also doesn't help the candidates because once you delve into Mormonism, the religion of the presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney, the less attractive he becomes. Women are definitely unequal, to put it mildly, in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Plus, in their rush to defend freedom of religion over the freedom of women, will these Republicans stand up for Islam, which condones "honor killings" of girls and women? I don't think so.

No one says that the Catholic Church, or any religion, has to change. They won't. 

Consequently, the U.S. is becoming a more secular society.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Women rock the vote

Since it is International Women's Day, it's a fitting time to recognize the woman voter.

First, though, it should be noted that this day started as a Socialist political event in America in 1909. It spread to Europe and ultimately Russia where it became an official holiday under the Soviets.

Times have changed and the word Socialist is no longer in vogue. The Soviet Union is history.

By 1920, the world started caving in for men when American women started voting in national elections. The U.S. was one of the last of the developed nations to grant women the same voting rights as men.

Even though it has been less than 100 years, women are clearly more concerned about voting than men in this country.

Here's a link to statistics, and another, about women and voting. The first contains a myriad of stats including this: 

"In the 2008 presidential election, 60.4 percent of eligible female adults voted (70.4 million women) while 55.7 percent of eligible men voted (60.7 million men)."

In 2008, more than 53 percent of the votes were cast by women. And, they favored President Obama by 13 percent over John McCain.


"Since 1986, the proportion of eligible female adults who have voted has succeeded the proportion of eligible male adults who have voted in all elections, reversing the historical trend of higher voter turnout rate for men than for women."

In other words, women form a majority of the voting public. This is significant and will mean that we could have a woman president either in 2016 or 2020.

In the near-term, though, how women vote in 2012 will determine who will win the election.

As the saying goes, when women vote, Democrats win. And, in Oregon there about 200,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans.

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that women started identifying more with Democrats in the 1980s. 

And, if the presidential election were held today, the article states, President Obama would have a significant edge among women woters over any of the current crop of Republican candidates.

President Obama would win the women's vote by these margins against:

Mitt Romney, 18 percentage points
Rick Santorum, 24 points
Newt Gingrich, 27 points
Ron Paul, 18 points

Naturally, the WSJ notes that men favor Romney and Paul, by 6 and 4 points, respectively.

But, since more women will vote than men anyway, it doesn't really matter if President Obama loses the male vote by a small margin.

That's right, when it comes to voting, men don't count as much as women.

Republicans have only themselves to blame for their poor showing among more than half of the electorate.

After the GOP's "successful" campaigns against African-Americans, gays and Hispanics, it needed to wage another war, this time on women.

Like the other "wars," Republicans are bound to lose this one too.

Don't know if this is all part of the "Southern strategy" begun by Nixon and perfected by Reagan, but it's not a winning one.

Rush Limbaugh lit the fire last week to begin International Women's Month by calling a woman a "slut" and a "prostitute." 

Rush's minions in Congress and legislatures around the country took the cue and are eagerly trying to thwart women's access to reproductive health care.

You can be sure there are many Republican women out there who feel scorned on this issue by their own party. 

As they say, beware a woman scorned.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

GOP dust-up in Bend

Yesterday's filing deadline for political office produced one big surprise in Bend: A sitting Republican is facing a hostile primary opponent in her re-election bid for the Oregon Senate.

The story in today's paper shed no light on why Tim Knopp would seek to run for Chris Telfer's 27th District seat.

Knopp, who served in the state House earlier this century when the Republicans had a slim  majority, claimed the usual stuff like he wants to create more jobs and "reform" the Public Employee Retirement System known as PERS.

But this is just a smoke-screen.

Knopp represents the social-conservative wing of the Oregon GOP which has led state Republicans to long-term subordinate status after more than a century of being the dominant party in the state.

Republicans are so marginalized statewide that they didn't even bother to enter races for state Attorney General or Treasurer this year. Telfer lost the Treasurer race in 2010. In the Secretary of State race, though, Republicans will be represented by Bend surgeon Knute Buehler, who considers voter fraud the most pressing issue. Obviously, he gets his cue from Fox News, which has no relation to reality, particularly here in Oregon. Hope he loses big.

Telfer, a former Bend city councilor, is considered a RINO (Republican in Name Only) by the Knopp faction. She is a moderate on social issues, which irks people like Knopp.

Knopp told The Oregonian: "Republicans are looking for conservative candidates now, from the presidential level on down and I want to give them a chance to vote for a true conservative in Central Oregon."

But, her most glaring offense to Knopp, and other diehard extremists in Bend who urged him to run against Telfer, is that she not only talked to Democrats in Salem, but actually worked with them to pass legislation, particularly on redistricting.

For the GOP wingnuts here and nationwide, any Republican who works with Democrats is a traitor to the party and is no longer fit to represent the party anywhere. Wingnuts consider Democrats as the equivalent to Islamic terrorists or Communist Chinese or both.

(As a side note: It was brilliant that Oregon's Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat who truly believes in bipartisanship, got Rep. Paul Ryan to work with him to reform Medicare because it emasculates Ryan among fractious Republicans in the House).

No doubt that Jason Conger, a Republican who represents Bend in the Oregon House, urged Knopp to run. Conger's kids and Knopp's kids are home-schooled.

Conger, who claimed that jobs were his main priority when he won the 54th District race in 2010, promptly introduced anti-abortion legislation when he got to Salem. Naturally, those efforts went nowhere, but he proved his bona-fides with the wingnuts back in Bend.

Here's hoping that Nathan Hovekamp, a former biology professor and school board member, can defeat Conger since redistricting supposedly now favors Democrats in Bend.

Apple scams Prineville, state

As Apple shows off its latest iPad and TV setup, it comes to light that its new data center in Prineville will hire no workers at all.

Jobs, jobs, jobs.

That's what we were promised as the state recently granted Apple a 15-year reprieve from property taxes. All those workers would be paying state income taxes and we would all be better off.

No so fast.

The local daily says that Apple's small, 10,000-square foot data center "will operate independently of any staff requirements with only routine maintenance required."

That's right, Apple won't even need a single janitor.

As for secondary jobs, well, there won't be much need to over-stock the 7-Eleven in Prineville or hire a new cashier at McDonald's.

This slap in the face is well-deserved by politicians and business leaders for not asking anything of the richest company in the world.

As noted in an earlier post, Apple is worth more than Exxon-Mobil. Its stock price is $534.16 per share as of this writing this morning. Apple is worth more than Microsoft and Google combined.

And yet, somehow, Apple couldn't afford property taxes in one of Oregon's poorest counties.

No, Apple doesn't owe this country anything. It doesn't need to rescue our economy. It just needs to create "cool" products and be obscenely rich.

Think different. Buy Samsung.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Local advertisers love Limbaugh

Rush "Slut" Limbaugh is losing advertisers after his tirade last week against Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown University Law School student who testified before Congress about contraception.

Apparently, more than two dozen national advertisers have bailed on his radio program including Sleep Number, Quicken Loans, AOL, Geico, Sears, John Deere and others. Also, two radio stations ended their affiliation with Rush.

Locally, though, advertisers still love Rush and his misogynistic, bigoted, racist, sexist and hate-filled commentary.

I forced myself to listen to Rush today on KBND just to hear the advertisements.

Here's a partial list of local advertisers:

* The Furniture Outlet
* Pacwest Homes
* Sun Forest Construction
* DL Drury Custom Woodworks
* Powder House
* Oxford Hotel
* Indian Head Casino
* Mid-Oregon Credit Union
* Jake's Diner
* D & D Bar & Grill
* Pahlisch Homes
* 7 Peaks Paving
* Smolich Motors
* Mountain View Imports
* Toyota-Scion of Bend
* Adair Homes
* Bend Urology (although, fittingly, they're plugging vasectomies)
* Lohr Real Estate
* Premier West Bank
* Resort Spas & Billiards

I don't need to boycott any of those advertisers because I don't use their services or products anyway.

There is plenty of commentary out there about this latest Limbaugh controversy, but I'll link to just two:

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
The Colbert Report

As the late radio man Paul Harvey use to say: Good ....................... day.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Tech fatigue

I heard the tech news today, oh boy.

If that sounds as if I'm bored, like in The Beatles "A Day in a Life," well I am.

This week, Apple announces the iPad 3 and who knows what else. Apple iTV?

Last week, Microsoft introduced Windows 8. Plug-and-play becomes touch-and-play.

Google, which has barely released its "Ice Cream Sandwich" software on smart phones, is now talking about the next iteration called "Jelly Bean" followed by "Key Lime Pie."

Enough. Please. Let's take it down a notch.

Afterall, we're still in a recession. Unemployment remains ridiculously high and gas prices are going through the dashboard.

Who can afford all this stuff?

Well, apparently millions of Americans.

Apple introduced the iPad during the depths of the Great Recession and, of course, it was an instant hit. It created a whole new tech category overnight.

The fact that millions of Americans have expendable income to buy iPads, iPhones and Android phones during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, is proof that things aren't really that bad afterall.

When a toy that sells for $500 is a must-have gadget while the under-employed level reaches 20 percent, we know that we live in unusual economic times.

It's definitely not a Depression, but rather an extension of the credit card culture.

I'm typing this rant on a 14-inch laptop manufactured by Samsung purchased on an American Express card.

An original iPad sits idle nearby.

Okay, I know that admitting I occasionally use my daughter's iPad 1 is like saying I use a "horse and buggy" to get around town. It's hopelessly behind the times.

I mean, the original iPad doesn't even have a camera. Shame.

Such is the case with these crazy, techno-disposable times.

It's great that the "early adopters" buy all these things because it paves the way for better technology at lower prices later on.

I didn't buy a CD player until they stopped selling LPs, or about 10 years after CDs were introduced.

I bought a DVD player only when the video store stopped stocking VHS tapes.

In other words, like most Americans, I only change when I have to. I was fine with Windows XP.

I still use a smart-ass phone while everyone around me, it seems, plays with their smart-phones, particularly while spending time with friends or family.

Yesterday, while eating an early dinner at an Italian restaurant, I noticed the couple in the booth across the way.

They were in their mid-60s and both were using iPads/netbooks while dining.

The family that surfs the web together, stays together.

Anyway, the woman was using an iPad that was held upright by a folding cover.

The man was using what looked like a netbook, but proved to be an iPad docked into a keyboard that made it resemble a netbook.

In other words, it would be great to see someone have the foresight to introduce a product that combined an iPad and a netbook. They could call it a laptop, notebook or iPadbook, I don't care. It would be revolutionary. Yes, there is the Asus Transformer, but the model is a netbook.

Except that the netbook revolution has passed.

Microsoft ensured this development when the iPad was introduced by only allowing Windows 7 Starter on netbooks. It killed a great tech development during its infancy.

For me, a 10-, or 12-inch netbook with a nine-hour battery life is all that I need to get by.

The iPad is great for consuming, but not producing.

Thank god we live in a consumer society or else Apple would be in trouble.

Instead, Apple is now worth more than Exxon-Mobil or Microsoft and Google combined.

We consume, they provide.

Ain't we got fun.

Friday, March 2, 2012

People say the darndest things

I purposely left out Rush Limbaugh's "slut" tirade in the previous post because it would be newsworthy if Rush didn't say something offensive.

Also, I figured some news outlets may pick up on the story.

Well, they have.

When a story that makes Republicans/conservatives look bad and ends up on the Fox News website, you know it's too big to ignore.

To sum up: a Georgetown University law student wanted to testify last week about the contraception-insurance mandate, but she was barred from doing so by the Republican leading the panel. She testified later in a panel led by Democrat Nancy Pelosi.

Rush, who has never met this woman, Sandra Fluke, and knows not a thing about her, called her a "slut" and "a prostitute."

He doubled down the next day and said she apparently was having so much sex, she should "post videos online" of her having sex.

He tripled down today after President Obama called the woman and told her that her parents should be "proud" of her. Rush said, "I'd be embarrassed. I'd go into hiding."

Just your average, run-of-the-mill week for Rush. No biggie.

Except that a couple of advertisers claimed they were pulling ads from his radio show. They'll be back, because Rush does have 20 million daily listeners.

Some of those listeners sounded off in Rush fashion on the Fox News story, where as of 4:45 p.m. on Friday, almost 13,000 had posted comments.

Here's a sample:

"I think stupid sluuut may have been a better choice of words." - progunn

"Rush has nothing to apologize for.  Fluke is definitely a Jezebel and so is anyone who defends her." - Bedford Crenshaw

"She basically admitted that her and her classmates were sIuts, how is that defamation of character?" - geminimoon

But then, some Republican politicos started to mildly criticize Rush while slamming Democrats for trying to make money off the brouhaha.

NRSC Vice Chairwoman Carly Fiorina told CBS that Limbaugh comments about Fluke were “insulting in my opinion.” She added that Limbaugh was serving as “a distraction from what are very real and important issues.”

A "distraction?" 

Hardly. These are the central issues for winguts and dittoheads, which comprise the base of the GOP. These folks, millions of them, back Rush's comments 100 percent.

Make no mistake, Rush is The Godfather of all Republicans politicians. They must kiss his ring and anything else he demands of them.

If they cross paths with Rush, they are soon forced to kneel before him, apologize profusely, and swear everlasting allegiance to him and his millions of "dittohead" listeners.

When Republican House Speaker John Boehner went out on a huge limb and called Rush's comments "inappropriate," he ensured that he would likely lose the speaker position unless he tells Rush, "I'm sorry."

At the end of the day, the GOP's "Big Tent" just got a little roomier.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

It'a a weird, weird, weird, weird world

Fox News is known to find obscure, isolated stories about either minorities, women, gays, liberals or Democrats and then blows them up out of all proportion to their relevance to the national discourse.

In essence, Fox News gives legs to stories that couldn't stand on their own.

Anyway, with that setup, there are a few stories this week that were so bizarre that they had to passed on.

These stories, which are relevant, won't be trumped up on Fox News:

1. Wisconsin Republican Senator Proposes Bill That Labels Single-Parenthood As Child Abuse