Wednesday, May 20, 2015

If you want to save Iraq, go save Iraq

Uh ... not really
As Jeb Bush can't figure out if the Iraq War was a good thing or a bad thing, that Mideast country continues to fall deeper into the abyss.

And, some Americans pretend to care.

Thanks to our unprovoked invasion of Iraq, along with our incompetent occupation of that oil-rich country, what was once a manageable civil war between Sunnis and Shiites has morphed into a region-wide quagmire, complete with beheadings broadcast on the internet.

Thank you, W.

Yes, the Iraq War was a complete disaster. And yes, there were many, including me, who predicted such a mess at the time.

Of course, that doesn't matter now.

Instead of al Qaeda, we now have ISIS or ISIL or the Levant or Daesh. It's an alphabet soup of terror that is clearly suicidal and is begging us to fight them ... or nuke them.

According to at least one poll, Republicans are more fearful of ISIS than President Obama. Shocking, but true.

In fact, Republicans believe the terrorist threat emanating from the Mideast is more important than our economy.

Clearly, that shows the power Fox News has over the GOP faithful. Those who pay attention to reality know that, while a terrorist attack in this country is likely in the future, we can't live in fear.

Actually, we should be more concerned about the collapse of the middle class in his country than any terrorist threat. It has real, long-term consequences.

If Iraq, or Syria, falls in the desert, will anyone notice or care?

Not really. We don't even care that we can't control the gangs in our inner cities or in rural Texas. Why would we care about a religious feud that is more than 1,000 years old?

So, for those who believe that the stability of Iraq or Syria is the most important thing in the world, go ahead and fight for them. No one is stopping you. Just don't expect the U.S. military or taxpayer to save the day.

If you want to save Iraq, go save Iraq. It won't matter to anyone else, in the long run.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Messed-up Texas

Another Republican who distrusts the men and women
 who serve this country to protect people like him
If some Texans believe that a military exercise is just a means to enforce martial law on the Lone Star State, well it would be apropos to go ahead and do it.

They deserve no less for disrespecting the men and women who put their lives on the line for them.

Jade Helm 15, which sounds like the name of some far-flung orb in the galaxy, is just a multi-state military maneuver slated sometime this summer.

Less than two weeks ago, a story surfaced on Talking Points Memo, a left-leaning political blog, that the right-wing blogosphere was apoplectic about Jade Helm 15. The feds are coming for them and gonna take their guns away.

It all seemed like a tale cooked up by The Onion.

Except that the Texas governor was so alarmed by the possibility of a federal takeover of Texas that he ordered the State Guard to monitor the military exercise.

Not to be left behind, Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul also voiced concerns about what the military was up to in Texas and urged vigilance.

It appears some Texans are ready to stand their ground against this federal intrusion on their sovereignty.

Well, good luck with that. The federal government already owns Texas. There are 15 military bases in Texas, plus the Johnson Space Center.

In 2001, the largest military exercise up to that point, called Roving Sands, was conducted in Texas. There was no concern then because the commander in chief was a white dude named George W. Bush.

Today, we have an African-American commander in chief and that is the reason for the fear: Racism.

It would be fitting if some Texans actually fought against our military this summer and got blown away. That's the only way to cure stupid racists.

Friday, May 8, 2015

COCC turning 66, not 50

COCC is situated on some of the most scenic land in Oregon
The local papers, daily and weekly, have stories touting the 50th anniversary of Central Oregon Community College.

Actually, that milestone was reached in 1999.

In 1949, COCC started as a night school in the basement of the current Bend-LaPine School District's administration building, which also housed Bend High and the junior high school during the daytime.

In September 1964, the COCC campus opened for daytime classes on the west slope of Awbrey Butte.

The 1965 Oregon Legislature decreed that the word "community" would be used for all the "junior" colleges in the state.

On Veterans Day 1965, Gov. Mark Hatfield officially dedicated the campus at COCC.

The reason COCC is using this year to tout its 50th anniversary is because it will rename the Campus Center as the Coats Campus Center after the family that donated most of the land  in the early 1960s that would eventually become COCC.

That's important in light of the fact that no land was donated for the new OSU-Cascades campus. (Oregon State University was first established in Corvallis on donated land from the federal government.)

A group of doctors in Bend sold the initial 10 acres to OSU-Cascades at 22 percent over the assessed value.

The adjacent 46-acre pumice pit, that nobody but OSU-Cascades wants, will cost much more than the $8 million budgeted just to make it capable to accommodate a parking lot, let alone a multi-story building.

COCC, a two-year college, has more than 200 acres, which is 20 times the initial size of OSU-Cascades, a four-year university on Bend's west side. Now, if anyone can do simple math, a four-year university will have more full-time students than a two-year school.

Anyway, the siting of COCC in the early 1960s was also a contentious affair.

Don Pence, the president of COCC and a pioneer in the community college movement in Oregon, pushed for the Coats property on Awbrey Butte with a breathtaking view of the Cascades.

Bob Chandler, former editor/publisher/owner of The Bulletin and a member of the COCC board, wanted the school built on the northeast side of Pilot Butte, near where Pilot Butte Middle School now sits. Chandler lived on a multi-acre parcel adjacent to the Pilot Butte site but said he would sell the property to avoid a conflict of interest. Chandler noted later that the money he made selling that land paid for his kids' college educations.

Redmond, the geographic center of the region and why it was called The Hub, made a strong pitch to have COCC sited there.

But, board member Owen Panner made the crafty move to include Lakeview in the COCC district which made Bend the geographic center of the proposed college district.

At a key COCC board meeting in 1962, board member Bill Miller (of Miller Lumber)  left the meeting early because his wife was giving birth to their child, Charley, who, coincidentally, is running for re-election to the COCC board this month.

After the board voted for the Coats property, Chandler abruptly left the meeting in a huff.

Panner then remarked, "It looks like we had two babies tonight."

In the mid-1960s, Chandler got his revenge against Pence when he sided with assistant professor Ashleigh Brilliant as he defied Pence's orders not to play a recording of Allen Ginsberg's poem "Howl." When Brilliant's contract was not renewed, the issue festered in public.

The adverse publicity in The Bulletin proved to be the eventual downfall of Pence, who was hit by a vote of "no confidence" from the faculty. Pence, though, became the founding president of Central Arizona College in Coolidge before returning to Bend and becoming a pivotal player of the United Senior Citizens of Bend.

When Fred Boyle became COCC president in 1967, he considered moving the community college to more accessible land on Bend's north end. Ironically, decades later, the Bend City Council created Juniper Ridge, in the same area that Boyle coveted, to include a "world-class" four-year university.

COCC continues to have a big impact on the region. Its foundation is now 60 years old. Let's hope that COCC can still fill a need even with a four-year university just a couple of miles away.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

More elephants crowd the circus ring

Even the circus is getting rid of its elephant acts
Three Republicans (blind mice anyone?) joined the bloated Republican race for president this week and they have absolutely no chance of winning the nomination.

So why would Dr. Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina and Mick Huckabee even bother wasting everyone's time?

Well, ego is one reason. The other is money.

The GOP establishment needs Carson and Fiorina on the ballot to show they have some token diversity street cred. Plus, whatever money they can prevent going to Hillary's campaign from women and African-Americans will help Jeb Bush in the long run.

Huckabee, the Bible-thumper, did win a few primaries in 2008, but his fame is strictly with the Fox News crowd now. His time is over.

Carson, Fiorina and Huckabee carry around so much baggage that their airline luggage fees alone will bankrupt their candidacies. Of course, the same could be said for the rest of the Republican field.

Yes, Hillary Clinton totes some serious baggage herself, but she's got the money to hire plenty of footmen to do the heavy lifting.

Fiorina, the onetime hapless head of Hewlett-Packard, got crushed by Sen. Barbara Boxer in 2010 in her first bid for elective office.

For someone who ran one of the largest tech firms in the world, it seems she's clueless about technology. Here's a link to a WSJ story about how Fiorina failed to register the domain name before a critic of hers got it.

And, here's the link to the website that includes emoticons representing the 30,000 she laid off at HP. Yep, that's what we need right now in America, more layoffs.

Carson, the respected neurosurgeon whose life story is inspirational to many Americans, including whites, has the knack for saying crazy things.

He refers to "Obamacare" as the worst thing since slavery and claims that President Obama is a pyschopath.

Those comments delight the Republican wingnuts, but they suggest that Carson is the one needing his head examined.

Plus, Carson, like most GOP candidates, comes out swinging against gays. That's not a viable strategy when many wealthy homosexuals will just give their money to a candidate who doesn't hate them.

Carson, though, is loved by many Republicans because he shares their hatred of President Obama.

Again, hate is not a sound policy position. And, President Obama is not running for president again.

Also, the bedrock base of the GOP in the Deep South is racist and would never vote for an African-American as president.

As for Fiorina, she attracts some Republican love because she champions positions that are detrimental to women. Instead of ending the GOP's "war on women," she perpetuates it.

The Republican base doesn't want anyone but a white, "Christian" man to be the nominee. Unfortunately for Huckabee, he's not it.