Friday, August 31, 2007

House Resolution 2

There's been a shit stew bubbling over at Blue0 for the better part of August. The race to unseat Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR) got heated up in what can only be construed as an unfortunate backfire by Mitch Gore (whose interweb handle is lestatdelc - it's an open secret, like Sen. Larry Craig. It's not like i'm outing the boy.)

As part of the initial batch of pro-Merkley threads on Blue0 since the Oregon House Speaker's announcement that the DSCC had persuaded him to join the race, "the voice of BlueOregon" posted Merkley News Roundup. It was supposed to work like Miracle-Gro for Mandate's candidate but it had more the effect of poison. Curiously missing from Blue0's in the "news" postings was OPB's article Oregon House Speaker Merkley Joins Race For U.S. Senate. Steve Novick, who is already in the race, was also interviewed for the story. I suppose a Merkley supporter might want to play down two things that came out of the article; Novick's immediate call for joint appearances (elsewhere he ups the ante, calling for debates) as well as his answer to the reporter's question on HRes 2, a resolution passed by the Oregon House at the onset of the Iraq war.

"It's a resolution that quote 'acknowledges the courage of President George W Bush.' You would not have found me saying that the war in Iraq is a reflection of the courage of President George W Bush."

The irony of the whole thing, is that this whole debate was brought to the readers of Blue0 by a current Merkley supporter. Lestatdelc was the first to spray the August 3 Roundup with Merkley's HRes 2 problem.

"What I find troubling is that Novick agreed with the BS GOP frame that Merkley voted 'for the Iraq war' which was pure spin. I am all for a competitive primary, but not one where either of our candidates throws GOP mud at the other."

Novick's campaign manager was quick to post openly the context of the OPB interview, but it seems Merkley's supporters found the truth inconvenient. They kept spinning and spinning until finally, even the Willy Week (yes, warts and all) weighed in, calling out the big boss at BlueOregon, Kari Chisholm for.. well... best read it for yourself.

So it was interesting to rise above the blog blather and hear Jeff Merkley himself try to defend his 2003 vote. And by interesting, i mean disappointing. This morning on AM620, Merkley was interviewed by KPOJ's Carl Wolfson. [click here, about half way through after the healthcare discussion - Interesting side note: you won't find this audio up on Merkley's campaign website. Steve Novick was interviewed yesterday. You'll find that audio here.]

In Merkley's interview, he takes Gordon Smith to task for his "election night conversion on Iraq."
"Here is someone who basically wrapped himself in the flag and criticized those who responsibly pointed out the shortcomings and the disaster that was pending with this strategy."
Merkley refers to Smith's war record as "not exactly a profile in courage." Interesting words from a politician who voted to acknowledge "the courage of George W. Bush." The end of the interview turned to this topic and it didn't take Merkley long to turn on the spin machine.
"This resolution was one that was presented as praising the courage and sacrifice and dedication of our troops. That's exactly what it said."
Well, the Speaker isn't exactly telling the whole truth. He left out the resolution's praise of the troops' professionalism, which one could chalk up to oversight. Where i would take the not-so-smooth talker further to task is the following claim, which lacks a certain truthiness.
"So i stood up on the House floor and said what i had said in an article previously that the Iraq war is uh...uh...uh...using military force is uh...uh...uh...uh...uh...terrible way to approach this. And it is uh... I have grave doubts about this strategy."
In sort of a John Kerry flip-flop meets a George W. Bush's signing statement, the Democratic Leader is hanging his hat on the strategy that he talked against something-or-other after he had just voted for it. I don't know what Jeff Merkley studied at Princeton. Perhaps it was Revisionist History. When he talked about the exact wording of HRes 2, this is what he left out.

Whereas the dictatorship of Iraq has continued to develop weapons of mass destruction in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441;


Whereas the dictator Saddam Hussein has demonstrated a willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against neighboring nations and the citizens of Iraq;


Whereas Saddam Hussein threatens the Middle East and the global economy with the threat to use weapons of mass destruction; now, therefore,

Be It Resolved by the House of Representatives of the State of Oregon:

That we, the members of the House of Representatives of the Seventy-second Legislative Assembly:

(1) Acknowledge the courage of President George W. Bush, the President's cabinet and the men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States, and express our support for the victorious removal of Saddam Hussein from power;


... and then the resolution finally got around to praising the troops. Merkley voted for this God, country and apple pie Resolution and yet criticizes Smith as someone who "wrapped himself in the flag and criticized those who responsibly pointed out the shortcomings and the disaster that was pending with this strategy."

Not so fast there Mr. Speaker... When you stood up on the House floor to "clarify" your vote, you were far less certain that attacking Iraq was a bad idea. Here's an exact quote from your floor speach [sic]:
"I have not been and am not today persuaded that Iraq was a significant threat to the United States or that the war we fight today is the best [emphasis added] strategy to fight terrorism or the wisest application of our superpower resources."
Sir, I could have told you that very day that invading Iraq was in fact NOT the "best strategy to fight terrorism." And i wouldn't have been alone. Which made this last comment of yours from the interview most baffiling.
"I think you could find only a handful of people that 2 days into this invasion stood up in public and declared their opposition to this war. I was one of them." [Jeff Merkley]
A handful of people declaring their opposition to this war
(one week before Jeff Merkley's floor "speach")

When Jeff Merkley had the chance to just say 'no' he, like most politicians wanted to have "a conversation or a debate another day."

Before the US invasion of Iraq, indeed before your vote acknowledging Bush's courage and wishing the troops godspeed, a packed City Hall chamber of Portland citizens apparently came to the conclusion long before you that attacking Iraq was not the best idea. It was probably the worst idea.

I am reminded of the recent candlelight vigil on the Hawthorne bridge. It seems our Speaker showed up to give a "speach" about demonstrating against the Iraq debacle, but when it came time to actually demonstrate... let me just say that there were 300 people at the protest and thousands of readers on Blue0, "Oregon's biggest blog," but nobody has yet been able to place the Democratic leader at the actual vigil on the bridge.

Finally, a majority of Americans believe that the Iraq war was a bad idea. So was voting for House Resolution 2, yet Merkley himself still maintains he "believes in it." He also mentioned something about "arrogant misguided civilians." ... Indeed.
Update: Seems i picked up a troll out on the information superhighway.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Blum and Gloom VI

[Week 5 / Week 6 / Week 7]

On this day, i stood again with Joe, with Becky... with Dave, Grant and Ineke. With so many others that have such a simple request.

Congressman Blumenauer... put the People before Pelosi!

Is it your new room with a view of the Capitol dome? Is it that choice chairmanship that you crave more than a promotion to the Senate? We're scratching our heads Congressman. Why did you tell your constituents that you'd have a public forum addressing their concerns... specifically on impeachment. When you decided to go back to your office and the dome and Pelosi without keeping your word... did you think we wouldn't notice? Do you think we don't care?!

  • I is for Impeachment... at least get the impeachment hearings going!
  • I is for irated*... the way i felt when i learned that my own Representative had lied to me.
  • I is for Iraq... where 2-3 Americans die every day... every day that Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D?-OR) resists his oath to uphold and defend the Constitution.
It was a day filled with ups and downs as i biked around town from appointment to event. It was the sixth week of protests in front of Blumenauer's Portland office (no view of Capitol domes) organized by Veterans for Peace. The TV media arrived... first from channel 6, then from channel 2. They didn't come for us (only a police squad car came for us, our personal nanny). The television crews headed across the street to report on a story of the discovery of 45,000 lbs of tainted ground beef. "The public needs to be warned about this," offered one journalist. John Bradach whose nephew was killed in Iraq remarked, "450,000 lbs of soldier have come back from Iraq in flag draped coffins. The public needs to be warned about this." Maybe that's why he's been here, like so many other (otherwise ordinary) people... every Thursday, from noon-2pm... in front of Rep. Earl Blumenauer's Portland office, with no view of a dome. If only he'd do the right thing. If only he had been telling the truth when he promised to at least "talk" about impeachment.

As the sun set over Portland, i set off by bike across town to celebrate my nephew's birthday. I just followed the bike route signs, and before i knew it, i was pedaling by Grant High School. That's where Travis Bradach-Nall went to school. He graduated in 2000. That's the year my nephew was born. A Marine corporal based out of Camp Pendleton, Travis died in Iraq, in 2003, in July. I was born in July, in Camp Pendleton. My dad was a Marine... is a Marine. We watched together today the OPB special on "the Marines." Then i went to Blumenauer's office, to goad my representative into doing the right thing. (He ought to be ashamed for lying to me.) That's where i see John Bradach, whose nephew Travis was killed in Iraq. And later i rode out to my nephew's birthday party. He's 7 today.

[video h/t Joe Anybody]
*irated: a combination of feeling irate and irritated.

[Week 5 / Week 7]

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Rogue Donkey

Kari Chisholm - president of Mandate and bossman over at BlueOregon - got into more hot water for mixing bizniss and Blue0.

Willamette Week -- "The Rogue Desk isn’t known for playing nice. We like it when politicians mix it up. But we’re calling foul on Democratic media consultant Kari Chisholm , who runs the blog, for excessive use of bullshit in his mud-slinging."

(I second the nomination.)

Blumenauer Reneges

Despite representing more liberals per capita than most areas of the country, Rep Earl Blumenauer (D) doesn't think it's a good idea to call for impeachment hearings to investigate the crimes of the Bush administration.

Three weeks ago in the face of regular protests in front of his Portland office (729 NE Oregon), he was still singing the same tune, but agreed to hold a forum on impeachment before going back to his DC office. No details at that time. Constituents were told to keep looking to the congressman's website for details.

During last weeks protest, i confirmed in person that a forum was in the works. It was just a matter for Blumenauer's scheduler (Joyce Fleming) to work out. But yesterday when i called in for an update, since there was still no word online, the new word from Blumenauer's office was, no... there is no forum being planned. I went into his office today and got the same information that Blumenauer flip-flopped and will dodge his constituents.

Call or write Earl Blumenauer (503-231-2300) and tell him to keep his word. He should show more loyalty to his constituents back home rather than Nancy Pelosi. No office with a view or committee chairmanship is worth allowing the Constitution to be shredded.

People in a position of trust should tell the truth...

Demonstrate at Blumenauer's office
every Thursday (noon-2pm)
729 N.E. Oregon Street (Portland 97232)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Peace Vigil


There was a peace vigil this evening, organized ostensibly by It attracted a couple hundred people who obediently gathered below the Hawthorne bridge.

Candlelight/flashlight vigil to support the troops
A candlelight/flashlight vigil "Lighting Their Way Home" will be staged Tuesday, Aug. 28, from 7-8:30 p.m. on the Hawthorne Bridge. The event is sponsored by and Peace/Civic Orgaizations. [sic]

Announced online at Portland Indymedia, curious minds wanted to know more...

What end of the bridge?
I realize it is several days before the event, but you might want to give details, lest you lose people who think it will be a disorganized event.

Where should people congregate on each side of the bridge?

What kind of signs?

Any bullhorning, or chants? ...that sort of stuff

There was a fair amount of speechifying before the actual vigil got underway. Senate candidates Steve Novick and Jeff Merkley addressed the crowd. It was the closest thing to a debate between the two since Novick's challenge a month earlier. It was a pity that Merkley had the time to talk about demonstrating against the war, but had to leave right after his speech while the regular folk went up to actually demonstrate. But as his media guy told all over at his blog BlueOregon:
"Candidate time is the scarcest resource any campaign has," Kari Chisholm. (ie. Time is money!)

Kari had a point, so as the sun began to set i joined a few dozen demonstrators who felt their time was better spent doing what they were called here to do. And with time, most of the people below at the MoveOn choir practice joined us.

As the many cars passed in each direction over the bridge, there was no mistaking the general public support for both ending the $2 billion/week US occupation of Iraq. There were also many signs calling for impeachment which seemed to draw even more honks.

I was particularly pleased to see Steve Novick taking part in the peace vigil. (So glad he had the time!) He supports the immediate, orderly withdrawal from Iraq of US forces. Should the current Democratic leadership in Congress fail to end this costly occupation, Novick has pledged he will as US Senator "begin work immediately on withdrawing our troops within six months."

"I would also push for the new president to take up the Baker Commission's recommendation and try to re-engage the regional and international powers that are critical to any effort to reduce violence and stabilize the country. I believe that new leadership in the White House, coupled with the clear signal that the Congress will no longer support an indefinite military commitment in Iraq, will create a real opportunity for regional diplomacy to rebalance the burden of reconstruction."

Craig NOT Gay

This just in...

I-da-ho, who-da-ho, you-da-ho? No. He-da-ho.
Idaho Senator, Larry Craig maintains he's not gay yet. He opened today's breaking new conference with the warm welcome: "Thank you all very much for coming out today."

Update: 8/29/07. The GOP seems to have a new strategy to deal with the hypocritical closeted homophobes in their midst and men's rooms. John McCain speaking on Jay Leno last night said, "The people of Idaho will reach a pretty rapid verdict in this situation." McCain must be a friggin' genius (except when it comes to Iraq) since we woke up to this headline:

Senator losing support in home state of Idaho

Nevertheless, Larry "I have never been gay" Craig might have a better shot at the Presidency that McCain who is currently polling is single digits. Americans "are looking for someone who will tell them the truth," said Arizona's senior senator who turns 71 on Wednesday. Which is probably why statements like "The surge is working" are causing Republicans to look elsewhere for a presidential candidate. Currently leading... "None Of The Above."

Monday, August 27, 2007

Idaho: Famous Puds

Rumors revolving around Idaho's Republican Senator, Larry Craig and his boys' bathroom antics were lent some credence with his conviction in a lewd conduct case.

(CNN) — Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, was fined earlier this month for a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge stemming from his arrest in June at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, according to Minnesota criminal records.

While the criminal records did not provide details of why Craig was arrested, Roll Call newspaper reported Monday that he was apprehended by a plainclothes police officer investigating complaints of lewd behavior in an airport men's room.

Craig, 62, paid a $500 fine when the case came up for disposition Aug. 8 in Hennepin County Municipal Court in Bloomington, according to state criminal records.

Minnesota law defines disorderly conduct as brawling, disturbing a meeting or engaging in "offensive, obscene, abusive, boisterous or noisy conduct."

Evidently Craig propositioned an undercover officer from his restroom stall, first by tapping his foot before moving towards the officer's foot. Craig later maintained he "has a wide stance when going to the bathroom and that his foot may have touched [the officer's]." Upon his arrest, the Senator handed the officer a business card with his phone number on it saying, "What do you think about that?" whereupon the officer asked for a more official piece of ID.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Democrats buy into war

But at what cost?

As with Sen. Wyden, Representative Brian Baird is proving he's no wimp as he takes the heat on KPOJ having just returned back from Iraq with the news that the escalation has brought change. I'm looking at the casualty figure right now and the change is this... the highest rate of US deaths in the entire war.

6-2007 101701083.630
5-2007 126321314.2331
4-2007 1041211173.930
3-2007 8110822.6531
2-2007 8131853.0428
1-2007 8330862.7731

This is not progress. The congressman is actually willing to wait until "sometime next Spring" to begin bringing our part in this fiasco to an end. Do the math... 70, 80, perhaps a hundred more Americans a month coming home in caskets!

Baird is actually calling for more men and women to sign up and ship off to Iraq, though he says "I don't believe a draft is necessary at this point." Yet we already have a "poverty draft." We have been experiencing a draw-down by attrition as the military struggles to meet recruiting goals. Besides the 100,000 private contractors, (some of whom guard our top brass!) we're throwing even more good money after bad in hopes of luring Americans, desperate in their economic circumstances, with $20,000 signing bonuses to ship out immediately. I suppose this might be cheaper than the current $1.5 billion this year we're spending on both domestic and foreign mercenaries. Some "earn" as much as $30,000 a month.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Blum and Gloom V

[Week 4 / Week 5 / Week 6]

It's week five of the protest begun by Veterans for Peace calling for impeachment hearings in front of the Portland offices of Rep. Earl Blumenauer. The action can boast some minor success. Already after week three, the congressman was promising to hold a public forum on the topic in the District before heading back to DC. As of today, Blumenauer's aides are confirming the plan to hold a forum at the end of the month. "It's just a matter of scheduling," said one constituent who has been in contact with the congressman. The official word is to keep an eye on Blumenauer.House.Gov.

Since the first protest, which has grown to a modest 30 or so regulars, the City has provided adult supervision in the form of uniformed officers. The is how the representative's recalcitrance is responsible for even more governmental waste. All he needs to do is his duty and listen to the People here at home as opposed to Nancy Pelosi and the "Democratic leadership" in DC. No committee chairmanship or office with a view is worth turning his back on the Constitution.

Folks like ol' Joe don't want to be here. He's got a family to care for. "This is for my gran-dawtuh," he says in a noticeable Brooklyn brogue. Joe's the Lone Vet who usually shows up Wednesdays just to gain more visibility and support for the Thursday protests. He was absent but by no means AWOL a week ago Wednesday. He needed to accompany his wife as they took the family pet to the vet for some doggy death with dignity. Joe's got better things to do with his time than to cajole his congressman.

I am beginning to resent Rep. Blumenauer. Let's be honest. I'm pissed off enough to protest against the congressman come hell or impeachment hearings. I've got nothing better to do, and i mean that as an affirmation. Holding our elected officials to account when they fail us is the best thing we can do.

Please join us every Thursday, noon to 2pm near the Lloyd District of NE Portland, 729 NE Oregon Street.

IMPEACHMENT Rally At Earl Blumenauer Office 8-23-07

[video h/t Joe Anybody]

[Week 4 / Week 6]

Making Signs

I promised people last week i'd be bringing my own sign this week. By people, i mean people with signs, cool homemade signs. I asked Clyde yesterday where he got that fine sign board. "Why, at Freddy's," he says. Man, i just got shirt paint and window paint there the week before last. How did i miss the sign boards. So i stopped at Freddy's on the way home from my check up. (The neck and ribs have healed just fine.) I knew where to launch my search for signage, and sure enough... there was a selection. I got 2 sizes made out of 2 different signboard substances just to be safe. Then i looked 20 minutes for an El Marko. I don't think they make them any more so i settled for a 4 pack of Sharpies; black, blue, red and green, with a tip made special for making signs. They weren't with the other pens. That's what took so long. As i unlocked my bike outside Freddy's another cycler (bikes with side bags and big baskets are for cyclers, not cyclists), he asked if i was purchasing art supplies. I told him they were protesting supplies. He let me know of a cool art supply store just up Hawthorne. I might go there if things don't work out with this stuff. Or if i have to change my message. But i have a plan for that. And a plan for traveling by bike with my signs, but i have to do a little tinkering first. Getting everything home in one piece was a bit tricky.

I already had my slogans worked out. "Impeach Alberto, Bush & Cheney" Get it? A B C... And on the reverse "Uphold and Defend the Constitution. I went with the first slogan first and zeroed in on the word "IMPEACH" choosing to make my point in all caps and red ink. The new Sharpie really laid it on heavy. I almost used the entire pen on this one word... red like my fury. I switched to blue for the names "ALBERTO BUSH CHENEY" again using all caps but this time mindful to go easy on the ink. Letters spaced well. It's just that now i wish i hadn't used blue for their names. It looks like a frickin' campaign poster if you don't get the first word, the red word. I should have used black... black like their hearts.

Proof-reading the finished product (spelling errors are a protester's worst nightmare), i noted the need for an "and" or something. I could use the black Sharpie. I didn't have the guts to copy the ampersand from my keyboard so i tried out an old favorite 'n. It's the one that looks like a 3 with a thing up and/or down. It turned out like two boobs... or balls... a boob ball. What a screw-up. And Sharpies are permanent. So i tried to improvise that other 'n ... the one like an upside-down or backwards 4. It wound up looking like something adapted from a swastika with barbed wire. Mission accomplished.

But the A B C gag doesn't stand out well enough. So i'll emphasize these three letters with dots. Another chance to use black... black like my rage, and by rage, i mean depression.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Lone Vet

When i heard that ol' Joe, the Lone Vet was staking out Wednesdays in front of Rep. Blumenauer's Portland office (729 NE Oregon St.) to drum up yet more support for the Thursday demonstrations in favor of defending the Constitution, i was determined he wouldn't be standing alone... not today. When i rode up, sure as shit in a pig stall, there he stood.

Now, don't read anything into that last allusion save for my inability to avoid alliteration. Joe is a salty old sea dog. Better than a swabby, he corrected me. He's a snipe. He shared with me this advice he got from his father:

"With the government, you can kick'em in the shins and they may or may not ignore you. You gotta kick'em in the balls and they've got no choice but to come after you."
I'm not sure if this was a call to courage or a cautionary tale. A bit of food for thought for me, an urban farmer who's usually content to just sew seeds. I'm seeing growth though, first hand. Sara, a "seriously pissed off grandma" showed up again today, sign in hand, as did Clyde. And passers by stopped to talk. Some promised to return. I'm optimistic.

Brother, can you spare $25

Senator and presidential candidate Barack Obama will be coming to to River City, but you better bring your change jar if you want to get a peek at this candidate for change. It will cost you $25 to get into the Oregon Convention Center for this "rally." For the blue blood blue Oregonians, you can buy into a smaller reception with Obama on a "sliding scale" from $500 to $2300.

I still recall getting to listen to Gov. Jerry Brown back in 2000 as he stood atop a table amongst the stacks at Powell's Book Store. I didn't have to pay for the pleasure, but i did buy a book that day. Then Gov. Clinton stole his thunder. He filled Pioneer Courthouse Square and then some. I tossed a bill in the bucket for Bill.

In reality, this is a fundraiser for Obama and not a rally, so i'm not really complaining. Ralph Nader held the same kind of event here last time around. (Note to Nader: I'll be voting me fears, not my hopes this time around.) But on the topic of "some voices being louder" one has to admit that some voters are more valuable. The current supreme law of the land states that "money is speech" so the richer you are, the more you hear and get heard. We do still have free speech in America, just no free tickets this time to see Obama. Maybe next time.
Here's an interesting note from Charlie Burr at BlueO. "Because Obama already enjoys Secret Service protection, advance staff will need names before the event if you're attending. Thanks."

Do all senators enjoy Secret Service Protection? (Does anyone really enjoy it?) I mean, not a single delegate has been chosen, so no one can claim yet to be on the road to the White House. Anyone? anyone...
Update 9:15am: BlueO's Kari Chisholm is trying to burnish his "independent" cred commenting on Charlie's post:

Posted by: Kari Chisholm | Aug 22, 2007 12:36:23 AM

I've endorsed John Edwards. I'm on the Edwards for Oregon steering committee. I've given John Edwards way too much money.

I am blissfully awaiting all the usual ranting - "BlueOregon is Kari's personal plaything where we only hear about Kari's favorite candidates". Bring 'em on, people.

I was surprised (not) to see BlueO's chief editor calling for off topic comments. This is a thread about Barack Obama after all. He came to his senses after a good night's rest.

Posted by: Kari Chisholm | Aug 22, 2007 8:58:48 AM

Alright, Bill R., let's stay on topic. This is not a thread about Brian Baird and Iraq.

As for the money thing, I actually think that this is a brilliant strategy.

Ralph Nader did this back in 2004, and it worked pretty well....

Kari echoes my note about the Nader event. Could it be that the president of Mandate starts his day with a hot cup o' Thom?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Time's up... soon(ish)

In a stern rebuke of the Bush administration's continued obstruction of justice, Sen. Patrick Leahy, the Senate Judiciary Committee Chair freely admitted: "no question they're in contempt of a valid order of the Congress." The Committee has given White House officials more than a month to turn over the documents and granted previous extensions of a subpoena it issued in June. That delay "goes way beyond what anyone expected," Leahy said. "Time is up. We've waited long enough."

Then the Chairman really unloaded with both barrels blazing:

Unless the administration complies with the subpoena, "The full Judiciary Committee will have to sit down and determine whether to seek contempt from the full Senate."

In other words, the venerable committee may have to convene in special session to consider if something ought to be done. Oh, the tension.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Dennis Kucinich

I spent the morning watching Turd Blossom stink up the airways as Rovemort did a farewell tour of the Sunday talking heads. He spread his GOP branded bullshit high and wide across CBS, NBC and FOX.

Later in the afternoon ABC spared us a repeat of Bush's traitor of a brain trust and instead gave us a 90 minute Democratic debate from Iowa. I've mused openly before how Rep. Dennis Kucinich is literally the only presidential candidate on the national stage who consistently shares my principles speaking with a conviction that i trust to the core. I was content to say how i'd re-register as a Democrat to vote for him if he's still on the ballot in Oregon come May, but i am motivated now to take a more affirmative step. I have added a link so that you can donate to the Kucinich campaign. I want his voice to be heard. Listen for yourself and see if he speaks for you!

(from a recent AFL-CIO debate)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Terrorist next door? is featuring a series of reports from their self described television event, "God's Warriors." The story begins in Oregon with a description of Portland's sister city in the south like something out of a conservative cartoon. It made my SE PDX liberal-lovin'-thumb plumb green with envy.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The path to faith often takes unexpected twists. In the case of Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, the road went through three of the world's major religions -- Judaism, Islam and Christianity -- and ultimately brought him to the FBI.

Born to Jewish parents who call themselves mystics, he grew up in what he calls the "liberal hippie Mecca" of Ashland, Oregon, a town of about 20,000 near the California border. It was in this ultraliberal intellectual environment that a young Gartenstein-Ross experimented with a radical form of Islam that eventually led him to shun music, reject women's rights and even refuse to touch dogs...

It is difficult to tell where TIME-WARNER TBS - AOL (which incidentally donated 1.6 million to Bush's 2000 campaign) wants to take us with this reportáge. Is the red scare to be replaced by the Moslem next door? We may no longer be fighting Mao's cultural revolution but their is more cultural conflict ahead for the progressive community. It's not even a question of welcoming the huddled masses with open arms. What do you do with fists in your face that are the result of our home sewn and grown freedoms of assembly and speech?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Blum and Gloom IV

[Week 3 / Week 4 / Week 5]

Today was week four of protests in front of Rep. Earl Blumenauer's Portland offices.

[video h/t Joe Anybody]

[Week 3 / Week 5]

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Town Hall

Senator Wyden's Tuesday town hall meeting was supposed to focus on Iraq. In fact, any guests wishing to address the Senator were instructed in writing to limit their questions/comments to the topic of Iraq and this admonishment was read out loud before Wyden entered the hall. Comment cards were available for "off-topic" issues.

There is little dispute that Ron Wyden has stood with a lonely minority in the Senate in opposing the invasion and occupation of Iraq. So perhaps he was taken by surprise with the people's insistent push for impeachment. Up close and personal, it looked like Wyden was spinning. On the one hand, he had no choice but to acknowledge the red meat laying at the feet of this blue crowd. Bush has broken the law. But he was reluctant to openly admit what one constituent after another was preaching to this, an angry choir. His "Community Conversation" got sidetracked.

The conversation turned controversy made its way to one of my daily blogs, One unlucky young guy (one of the few students in the audience) got his comment reprinted as a blog post.

Unfortunately things started getting fairly nasty, which in my opinion was uncalled for. [...] Obviously people are angry, but using the Bill O'Rielly code of conduct is not conducive to progress. [...] I encourage you to move outside of liberal comfort zones and engage the community at large. Point your anger where it'll be effective, and help keep people like Gordon Smith's feet to the fire.

Ever the bi-partisan, Sen. Wyden ended his town hall community conversation saying, "We may differ on one issue or another." What a tremendous understatement wrapped in naive, perhaps desperate hope.

Whereas those leery of impeachment may be willing to agree to disagree, there's a fire in the belly of impeachment advocates that no amount of skepticism or cynicism can piss on and extinguish.

[Part one: Wyden No Wimp.]

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Wyden NO Wimp

on Iraq...
But on Impeachment he is WRONG

Oregon's "senior" senator Ron Wyden held a town hall meeting at PSU this afternoon and the hall was full. I remarked to a fellow sitting next to me how few students were at this university venue, whereupon he reminded me it's the middle of summer. I do need to get out more, or at least look once in a while at a calender. But what's the point when Congress has utterly failed to set a timetable for withdrawl from the quagmire which is the Iraq occupation.

It should be said that Wyden stands as one of the more consistently principled anti Iraq-war voters in the US Senate. Attendees were given a two page "Iraq War Timeline" which chronicled the senator's many votes which attempted to reign in Bush's reckless foreign war policy. Sadly it's a long list of failures. The amendment failed. The amendment failed. The amendment failed.

Wyden attempted to take impeachment off the table at this town hall, but the People wouldn't stand for it. Either obliquely or directly the questions kept coming back to the topic of impeachment and the senator tried repeatedly to mollify the crowd. The attempts failed. The attempts failed. The attempts failed.

The first question came from Joe Walsh, a US Navy veteran. His question was pointed (at the senator especially): "Do you have any idea how angry so many of us are at the Democrats?!" Joe's question touched not only on the new majority (D) party, continuing to fund the fiasco but also Congress's criminal lack of oversight in not holding the Bush administration to account. Joe is among the many veterans who currently are protesting outside the local offices of Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), who inexplicably is willing to give Bush, Cheney & Co. a pass on all their criminal, unconstitutional misdeeds.

Regarding the abuses of King George's rule, Wyden had to concede "They are way over the line." Asked if the war itself was illegal, or if the administration was conducting it in ways which were unconstitutional, Wyden sidestepped the direct question. The People wanted an answer however and a later participant stepped up to reiterate the line of inquiry, noting the previous attempt at obfuscation. On the ropes, Wyden could only do that which politicians are trained in doing. He answered out of both sides of his mouth.

"I brought up the arguments that say [the war's] illegal"
"It's hard to make the legal case that it was illegal"

For weeks now, Wyden has been trying to lend a sympathetic ear to impeachment advocates (a majority of his constituents) by saying, should the House vote to impeach, he would look at the issue very carefully. Knowing the stranglehold the "democratic" leadership has on it's rank and file in Congress, he's taking what he believes to be an easy out.

Ron Wyden is confident he'll never have to deal with impeachment in the Senate, and in many ways, it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because of his lack of leadership in exercising his Constitutional duty to provide checks and balances, our only hope is that the People will lead. They didn't come today with torches and pitchforks. Instead they were armed with the truth and pugnacity. There were catcalls from the crowd to be sure. I was sitting in the front row, close enough to be spat upon as the senator narrowly missed stepping on my toes. So i didn't mind if i stepped on his toes as i shouted out:
"You need to call your congressman, Senator"

Somehow, i doubt that Wyden will be calling Wu anytime soon to encourage him to step up and do the right thing. That task is left up to US.

[Part two: Town Hall.]

Monday, August 13, 2007

Die Atombombe

Tonight we went to Tony's Tavern for the Monday open mic hosted by Tommy Gaffney. Our good friend, Mikey Golightly, was the featured reader. If you get a chance, you have got to hear this guy's rhythm. It recalled in me a time when i used to have the muse too...

This trite rhyme goes back 20 years to a poetry reading in the Bavarian alps. I won a bottle of wine and enjoyed it with friends under a clear star spangled sky where i saw the Big Dipper, the same one i used to see back home in Oregon

Die Atombombe

in dem Boden schläft ein Hund
schneidende Zähne, aber kein Mund
der beißt die Völker ohne Grund

smoothly translated...

The Atomic Bomb

in the ground sleeps a hound
cutting teeth without a sound
he bites the people for reasons unfound

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Saturday, August 11, 2007

I hate the VA

purposeful prose by Jack Michael

Sweet Jeezus, I really hate the VA. Dad was checked in with a stubborn infection on his left leg stump and a full packet of info from the nursing home. So i was stunned when i asked if they were doing something different with his pain meds, 'cause he was acting really out of it, and the VA nurse told me to my face she would have no way of knowing what his medications back at the home were... Oh, and the night of his check-in, after my sister literally checked him in with all the info from his house doctor and the home, i got a call from the VA night doctor like at 11:30 or so wanting to know what precisely he was in for. And when i saw him using his good hand with its long fingernails scratching all over including the site of his infection, i asked the nurse about getting his nails clipped. But she told me that wouldn't be possible, and i should bring a pair of clippers from home, which i did. And then on Friday, after confirming he wouldn't be discharged over the weekend (cause i was out of town), i arrived back at my home to find out he had already been turfed back to the home. And it gets better... i got a call from a VA social worker wanting to know how the transition back home was, and she didn't even know where he had come from or that he returned to a nursing home, and if i had it's phone number... Did i tell you about all the info he arrived with? And then a VA nurse calls me and tells me we need to get him to have a skin cancer removed, and she tells me it's been almost 2 years since he's seen his VA doc and we should know that he could lose his VA coverage and i think to myself, has it been two years already since the VA cut off his legs and don't they know that he lives in a nursing home, and has a house doctor, and why he doesn't make it up to the VA hospital as often, without his legs, except when he has to, and sometimes he needs his nails clipped, even on their watch.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Jeff Merkley

The 2008 senate race in Oregon took a turn for the more interesting when House Speaker Jeff Merkley joined former Department of Justice litigator Steve Novick in the Democratic primary to decide who will unseat Oregon's junior senator, Gordon Smith. Described by both candidates as a competition among friends, Oregonians will have the luxury of evaluating the goods already achieved by these fine men, as opposed to choosing between the lesser of two evils.

With a 100+ in attendance this evening at the monthly meeting of Multnomah County Dems, Merkley talked up his Myrtle Creek roots and his millwright father as well as his recent accomplishments in Salem; a smoking ban in bars, the expanded bottle bill and domestic partnership for gays and lesbians.

A short question and answer period allowed Speaker Merkley to touch on health care, biofuels and impeachment. On the latter issue, he expressed the desire to "continue to be educated" but said his "energies have to go into bringing [the troops] home from Iraq."

For his part, Steve Novick welcomed the prospect of a competitive primary.

I look forward to an inspired primary where each of us makes our case for why we must replace Gordon Smith and presents our respective visions for Oregon and America. And I propose a series of joint appearances across the state with Jeff and any other candidates that enter the primary to let voters make up their minds.