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Archive for February 2009

Quote of the Day — February 28, 2009

No matter what a woman looks like, if she’s confident, she’s sexy.

Paris Hilton (1981 - )

Is Obama’s tax plan tax warfare?

Good morning, Netizens…

Is the Obama tax plan really class warfare?

Or is it, as some have suggested, merely an adjustment from the Bush era back toward the middle of the road? Can it save our ecxonomy or will it lead us to worse conditions than we already have? Inquiring minds want to know.


Vetting another cabinet member…

Good morning, Netizens…

Could it be possible, based upon David Horsey’s cartoon this morning, whether President Obama is getting a violent rash each time he seeks to appoint someone to his cabinet? After all, how many cabinet appointees has it been that have run afoul of the IRS thus far? But Gary Locke? Say it isn’t so that the former Governor of our fair state hedged on his taxes? Stranger things have happened, which of course unquestionably delights the Republicans no end.

Ammunition. That’s what they call it. Of course, have they got a blind spot when it comes to fellow Republicans, or is that just my eyesight tricking me again?

It will be interesting, in my opinion, to watch former Governor Gary Locke playing in the Big Game in Washington, DC where you can either score really high scores or fall dismally into the refuse can they call Washington politics.


Quote of the Day — February 27, 2009

I think Superman should go on the Larry King show and announce that he would come back to life if people in all 50 states wanted him to.

Dave Barry (1947 - )

Another one bites the dust…

Good afternoon Netizens…

The picture of the newsroom doesn’t really do it justice, but Friday will be the last day the Rocky Mountain News newspaper prints, as it is closing its doors.

Rich Boehne, chief executive officer of Scripps, broke the news to the Rocky staff at noon today, ending nearly three months of speculation over the paper’s future. He called the paper a victim of a terrible economy and an upheaval in the newspaper industry.

“Denver can’t support two newspapers any longer,” Boehne told staffers, some of whom cried at the news. “It’s certainly not good news for you, and it’s certainly not good news for Denver.”

Much the same fate faces several other major newspapers around the country unless someone comes up with a solution.

I suppose the Rocky Mountain News is somewhat different since I grew up reading it on a regular basis since childhood, and thus some may say I have a bias on their behalf.  However, I also have a profound fondness for both the San Francisco Chronicle and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, both of which are facing possible closure within the next few weeks. How about, for the sake of clarity, if we simply assume I am enamored of the dying art of journalism, and leave it at that?

I spent some time this afternoon talking with the Spokesman-Review’s Doug Floyd and he made what I think is an interesting and challenging observation about journalism. If you walk down the aisles of your favorite grocery store and reach the magazine racks, you will be confronted with a plethora of new glossy magazines that apparently are having no problem connecting with their readers. We are seeing a serious problem with getting the same people who buy these magazines and/or their subscriptions, to go out on their front porches in the morning and pick up the morning paper. Do you think this is true?

Don’t look now but we may see two more award-winning newspapers go under next month, and it remains to be seen if we even understand the nature of the financial model that is killing them off like flies.

Or perhaps it is we no longer need printers ink to print a newspaper, given all the tears that inexorably have already fallen in news rooms this lean winter.


Is that all there is?

Good morning, Netizens…

This AP picture of the post-Mardi Gras Bourbon Street pretty much summarizes the day in my opinion, and what a party it was! According to the numbers crunchers, they had more people attend this year’s Mardi Gras than since before Hurricane Katrina pushed a wall of water down Bourbon Street and other near-sacred places in New Orleans.

It almost reminds me of the snow that fell earlier this winter, since it is snowing again today! At least in New Orleans they have the trash removal in seemingly good hands.

Judging by the piles of trash, as Mardi Gras goes, it must have been a doozy of a party! Did you ever go to Mardi Gras?


Quote of the Day — February 26, 2009

Never let the demands of tomorrow interfere with the pleasures and excitement of today.

Meredith Willson, The Music Man

Quote of the Day — February 25, 2009

Getting along with men isn’t what’s truly important. The vital knowledge is how to get along with one man.

Phyllis McGinley

One way to fix the economy…

Good morning, Netizens…

As David Horsey’s political cartoon opines this morning, we have some alternatives when it comes to our national economy falling into the toilet tank. Despite the fact that the sale of alcoholic beverages dropped recently, fear not O gentle spirits!

For you can still do your part to save this vital part of our national economy and help yourselves survive the doldrums of being perpetually dismayed, if not nearly broke by buying more booze. Given the grim statistics being handed out by various pointy-headed statisticians, it might prove to be more entertaining than watching reruns of Captain Kangaroo in slow-motion on the VCR.

Of course on the down side, such behavior might ruin your marriage if you have one, put you over the edge into foreclosure, cause you to wreck the Bentley, cause sexual dysfunction or otherwise neatly rearrange your priorities.

Hey, but look at it this way – you will have helped save an important part of the national economy while vaguely reassuring yourselves that everything is fine, no problems and life is good. Do your patriotic duty.


Obama before the nation 02/24/2009

Good morning, Netizens…

Did you watch Obama’s entire speech last night?

If you did not, you can read his speech in its entirety at

I made it a point, despite being overwhelmed all week long with toxic levels of overwork and stress, to sit through Obama’s speech before Congress, and although I was impressed after a fashion, where he succeeded, in my opinion, was that he engendered a feeling of HOPE that somehow he is going to successfully restore our national economy to some semblance of normalcy, and with it, the world economy.

Lest someone from the Right Wing view on life accuse me of bias, I hereby admit it openly and willingly. I come from the Grey-Bearded generation of folks who once traveled extensively in the Deep South and witnessed first-hand the horrific racial assaults, the imbalances of justice—in short, everything about the racial dividing line that once was there, and I have lived with those memories and shame for decades because I did not get involved. When I look at Barak Obama, President of the United States, and his family I cannot help but well up with tears because this is a new generation of Black Americans who can, as Obama has stated, have equality and hope for the future for all Americans, regardless of their racial makeup. It’s been a long time coming.

I am glad of it. I am proud to live in a time when such things as his Presidency can happen. I simply hope with every bit of my heart he can steer us a course safely through all the trials and tribulations we still have yet to face, beginning with our economy, the warlike stance of Iran, the combined wars of Iraq and Afghanistan and restoring America’s confidence.

Thus, once for all, I admit a certain bias where Obama is involved. That and I am feeling the beginnings of hope. Perhaps we can do this!


Obama in world view?

Good morning, Netizens…

A carnival float showing a flying President Obama followed by a flying Europe is seen during the traditional carnival parade in Duesseldorf, Germany, on Monday. Street spectacles in the carnival strongholds of Duesseldorf, Mainz and Cologne are watched by hundreds of thousands of revelers, marking the highlights in Germany’s carnival season. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
(February 23, 2009)

Oh really? Obama has a halo in the European view of the U.S.? And Europe is following hard on his heels? Something the Germans left out was the role of China in our success and/or failure, wouldn’t you say? At least if my facts are correct, our country is in hock up to their eyes to China and Japan.

Oh, maybe the halo is made in China perhaps. What do you think?


A Wall Street Oscar…

Good morning, Netizens…

I’m late, I’m late for a very important date

I’m late I’m late I’m late

Somehow my real life personage keeps interfering with my Virtual Ballroom, and this morning I was late in posting this excellent David Horsey Cartoon. It should be noted that I did not watch the Oscars, nor would I unless forced to do so.

However, David Horsey is right. If we gave Oscars to people on Wall Street, I believe he has the list of names just right. Does anyone disagree with giving Bernie Madoff as a Scumdog Billionaire?


Quote of the Day — February 24, 2009

I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.

Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

Mayor Verner, Rap Star

Good morning, Netizens…

You’d better set your coffee down, perhaps even brace yourself against the back of the couch on your front porch because this might startle you.

Our very own Queen Mary, Mayor of our fair city, the illuminated, uplifted, Tsarista of all that is decent and orderly, excepting our streets and our budget, has taken to rapping. Yup. You read it here. Browse to and watch her in action.

Verner took the stage during a set change and rapped with Gasmasq (Josh White) about the changes happening in Spokane.

Aside from the fact this might set a new precedent for elected officials, can you imagine Police Chief Kirkpatrick rapping about swift justice after the James Olson trial which is slated to begin today, two years after-the-fact? Of course, that is barring any last-minute postponements.

Of course, the undying question I want to know is will Queen Mary rap for us at tonight’s City Council meeting?

Oh Lord have mercy!


Quote of the Day — February 23, 2009

Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition.

Dr. Timothy Leary (1920 - 1996)

A REAL homecoming queen…

Good morning, Netizens…

In our picture of the day, we see the real-life personification of a homecoming queen—that is a drag queen. In this photo, Ryan Allen, competing under his drag queen persona of Reann Ballslee, waves to the crowd at the Patriot Center in Fairfax, Va., after being crowned Ms. Mason on Feb. 14, 2009. Allen beat out two women for the homecoming queen title at the 30,000-student George Mason University in suburban Washington, D.

You write the cutline.


Rest in Peace, Socks…

Good morning, Netizens…

I suppose although it has been mentioned earlier in the week that Socks the cat, once the White House cat during the Clinton administration, has died. According to several sources, after Clintons left the White House, Socks lived with Bill Clinton’s secretary, Betty Currie, in Hollywood, Maryland since 2001.

So why did Clinton have a cat in the White House if they weren’t going to keep it? If a feline is good enough to reside in the White House, wouldn’t it stand to reason it would suffice for anywhere else? Or was that just for warm-and-fuzzy photo ops?

Maybe it was because with Hillary jaunting around the world as Secretary of State and Bill romping around the world with his bosom buddy George Bush, Sr., perhaps they no longer had the disposable time necessary to pet and feed the cat?

Rest in Peace, Socks.


The arrival of the robins…

Good morning, Netizens…

Last week, the Virtual Ballroom was resounding with the huzzahs and exclamations as various residents crowded around the front window watching the arrival of a group of robins for what we believe is the first time since last fall. How do you describe a gathering of 15-20 robins? Are they a covey? Are they a flock? Since the use of the words flock or covey tends to imply an overlying presence of organization of some kind, I have come to call our recent arrivals a gathering.

Suffice it to say within minutes of their arrival, the male Robin Redbreasts had begun a most thorough examination of every bough and bush within a block in either direction, and you could see them flitting en mass from one location to the next looking at possible nesting sites. Robins don’t mess around, once they have arrived, based upon our limited observations.

This morning, the crowds of robins have dissipated. Instead we see robins flying around gathering nesting materials and very high up in neighborhood trees, we see them knitting nests out of what materials have come to hand, all the while discussing their construction methods with their mates. (I am assuming that is what they are raucously discussing, based upon their building procedures. After the male robin has delivered another beak full of twigs and other miscellany suitable for next building, about one-fourth the time, after he departs in search of yet another load of construction materials, the female robin mysteriously dumps a small amount of the reject materials over the side, without so much as a sidelong glance.

Despite the amazement at watching the robins begin setting up housekeeping, a few minor issues bother us:

According to our unscientific calendar-watching, the robins are nearly a month earlier than in previous years. There is a theory that suggests that if the average temperature rises above 36 degrees they will come. Gee. Does that imply an early Spring this year?

The ground is still frozen hard as a hub cap on a Mercury Marquis in winter. What will they eat when they cannot listen for worms beneath the snow? Is it time to restock the bird feeders?

One nice advantage is the robins wasted little time in chasing away the pestilential crows and starlings that have raised such a raucous caucus all winter long.

Other than that, we are delighted with the antics of the robins. It suggest that, despite the calendar, perhaps the wretched winter snow is over.


Is the Inauguration already over?

Good morning, Netizens…

My goodness, according to David Horsey’s cartoon this morning, they haven’t finished cleaning up the mess from the Obama Inauguration yet and now some members of our Congress are already warming up their election campaigns?

Wait a minute! They haven’t even torn down the massive platforms from which Obama made his inauguration speech, and the seats where all the illuminati of Washington’s unwashed masses sat posing for the cameras, and now some of these same people are campaigning?

Oh, dear!

I conceive of a new federal law that says no candidate may begin their election campaigns until the trash from the previous campaign and/or inauguration has been cleaned up. Does that make sense to you?


Quote of the Day — February 21, 2009

What a misfortune to be a woman!  And yet, the worst misfortune is not to understand what a misfortune it is.

        Soren Kierkegaard, 1813-1855.

Thank God it’s Friday!

Good morning, Netizens!

Thank Gawd It’s Friday! ( The highly-ceremonial and somewhat questionable pompom Virtual Ballroom cheerleaders are out in full force this morning, despite the fact that GM’s Saab unit has filed for bankruptcy protection here:

and the Gonzaga Bulldogs which clinched at least a share of its ninth consecutive title with a 91-54 rout of Loyola Marymount in front of 6,000 Thursday at the McCarthey Athletic Center here, and of course, consumer prices have risen higher than anytime since July here

As if you needed a Saab to drive to the Gonzaga game Saturday while paying astronomical prices for snacks and chocolate, try not to be too depressed. Iran apparently now has enough enriched uranium to make a bomb.

Remember, if you see a brilliant flash in the sky, DON’T LOOK AT IT.

Until then, have a nice Friday.

Oh, and the weather forecast. It would help if we could see the damned weather gauge. I guess we might have some fog.


Quote of the Day—February 20, 2009

Leadership is based on inspiration, not domination; on cooperation, not intimidation.

William Arthur Wood, Author

Non-Traditional Woman—Aunt Berl…

Good evening, Netizens…

Revisiting the message thread “Changing the Image”

After reading some of the many different opinions expressed in the message thread “Changing the Image”, and quickly realizing that some of our conversations had delicately slid into gender-based issues, followed shortly by a robust discussion of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, I decided to create a new thread to discuss traditional and non-traditional roles of women in American society and how they have changed in my 60-some years of living.

My favorite example of what I term “non-traditional women” began with my somewhat exotic but emotionally powerful Aunt Beryl. I will concede that traditional roles for women have changed since the late 1950’s, but perhaps even by modern-day standards, Aunt Beryl might still create a bit of a stir.

There was that visual image, and I submit even modern-day men tend to react to that first. At six feet four inches tall, with powerful shoulders and well-muscled arms, Aunt Beryl tended to stand out in a crowd simply because she was so big and at first glance hardly typified what most men would define as “dainty femininity”. Adding to that visual image, she smoked a pipe, usually late in the day, and occasionally chewed Red Man tobacco, which further separated her from anyone’s definition of the feminine mystique. She wasn’t the least bit mannish at all, but just plain in the face, physically strong and yet gentle.Some family members insisted she was a lesbian, but I can state with total candor, she was not.

Friends of David Elton…

Good evening, Netizens…

I received this information from David Elton’s wife, Belinda, in e-mail, and because perhaps not everyone received this information, I am making it public.

If you or anyone you know would like to write to David Elton during his stay in the Spokane County Jail you may do so using the following address:

David H Elton
c/o Spokane County Jail
1100 W. Mallon
Spokane, WA 99260-0320

Perhaps now, more than ever, receiving mail from friends might help his emotional makeup during the time he is incarcerated.

Thanks in advance…


Quote of the Day — February 19, 2009

Any war that requires the suspension of reason as a necessity for support is a bad war.

Norman Mailer (1923 - 2007), Armies Of The Night

James Dean meets Schwarzennger…

Good evening, Netizens…

David Horsey seems a bit obtuse in this morning’s cartoon.

Most opinions of the current debacle unfolding in California are that Governor Schwarzenegger took the path of least resistence to try and save his state economy. It is either take the Stimulus Package and hope for the best, or face certain bankruptcy. Much like everything else taking place across the country, Republican Boehner does not like that. That means despite the Stimulus Package beneath his arm, Schwarzenegger will still have to massively cut the size of state government and raise taxes.

Could it be this time the tax increases will be across the board, instead of simply the rapidly-fading Middle Class?

That might be what is coming in the future. That or bankruptcy.


Jesuits file for bankruptcy protection

Good morning, Netizens…

[Portions from KREM-2, The Portland Oregonian and the AP wire]

PORTLAND, Ore. - The Catholic order that founded Gonzaga University and helps run the school has declared bankruptcy because of the potential for huge amounts of priest sex abuse settlements. The Jesuits of the Oregon Province filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Portland on Tuesday.

According to the official think-speak of the Jesuits, with approxmately 200 additional claims pending or threatening against their priests, bankruptcy was the only way that equitable financial settlements could be offered to victims.

Formally known as the Society of Jesus, Oregon Province, the Roman Catholic order declared assets of $4.8 million and liabilities of nearly $62 million, according to the 123-page filing posted in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Oregon.

“Our decision to file Chapter 11 was not an easy one, but with approximately 200 additional claims pending or threatened, it is the only way we believe that all claimants can be offered a fair financial settlement within the limited resources of the province,” said Oregon’s provincial, the Rev. Patrick J. Lee, in a written statement which appeared on the Portland Oregonian web site.

The Jesuits are also affiliated with Gonzaga Preparatory School, the large Catholic high school in Spokane and various other educational institutions.


Nakagawa at the G7 Summit…

Good morning, Netizens…

The Japanese economy is in the tank, and their representative to the G7 Summit in Rome, Italy should have been in his best form. Instead what world and Japanese leaders got was Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa apparently in his cups before a cast of world leaders.

Although Nakagawa denies vehemently that he was drunk on the job, countering that his rather bizarre behavior at the G7 Summit was caused by jet lag and cold medication, nobody seems to be buying his story, and yesterday he resigned his post. Pictures of the event show Nakagawa slurring his speech and at one point, nodding off into lala land while the unblinking eye of world opinion was fixed upon him.

Japan could hardly afford another political or economic misstep. Unemployment is climbing, consumer spending is falling, and companies are seeing deep red as the global financial crisis takes a particularly heavy toll on this export-reliant nation.

Last quarter, the economy shrank at its fastest pace in 35 years and is now in its worst downturn since the end of World War II. The key stock index has shed 44 percent of its value over the past year, and they do not have Bernie Madoff to blame.

Of course this incident has far-reaching implications for the Japanese Liberal Democrat party, that has held control of Japan’s government for the last 54 years, if not Prime Minister Taro Aso, whose support ratings fell into the single digits in a recent poll. In fact, if you compare Aso’s numbers with those of former President George W. Bush, Bush might actually win in the popularity contest.


A Brief History of the Ballroom

Good morning, Netizens…

[The First Arrival]

In the beginning, where this Blog first set its calloused feet upon the oft-trodden road of what some call the new journalism, I was fond of writing what were quite long messages, in particular about a called the Virtual Ballroom. That act set a new and sometimes unpopular precedent for the Spokesman-Review online Blogs, but I anticipated that from the onset, and having braced myself against the roiled opinions and rumpled egos, still I persevered, and over time, others began to accept the Virtual Ballroom and Espresso Bar and its hallmark, a free cup of Virtual Espresso.

Along the way I introduced countless ghosts and spirits, even gracefully introducing the Garden Gnomes who maintain the sumptuous Virtual Garden behind the Ballroom in exchange for free holes in the ground in which they live, procreate and sing of their history as they have done for ages and ages.

There has been no mention, however, how this virtual kingdom came into existence; it didn’t just manifest itself one day in the middle of Hillyard, because according to faux-historians, Hillyard didn’t have a name when the real-life embodiment of the Virtual Ballroom first came into existence. Rather, there were various Native American tribes, including the amiable but cryptic Yukapatooie Band of Indians living in the area we now call Stevens County, who astutely avoided all commerce with the White Man, even other tribes and only occasionally were seen by outsiders.

Quote of the Day — February 18, 2009

I am here and you will know that I am the best and will hear me.

Leontyne Price, O Magazine, December 2003

If you do not recognize the name Leontyne Price, you have indeed missed out on one of the most-beautiful operatic sopranos in its entire history.

Improving the image…

Good morning, Netizens…

In this photo made available by Bridges TV of Orchard Park, NY near Buffalo, Muzzammil (Mo) Hassan, and his wife Aasiya Hassan of Orchard Park, pose in an undated photo. Police say Hassan beheaded his wife, an architect, after she filed for divorce. Mo Hassan, CEO of Bridges TV in Orchard Park, NY, launched the network in 2004, to improve the image of Muslims in the media following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

In certain areas of Pakistan and India Muslim males are lawfully entitled perform what is termed an honor killing, although some American sources are referring to the beheading as a case of domestic violence that got out of control.

What is honor killing? According to several sources, honor killing is acceptable behavior for Muslim men anytime their wives/daughters violate laws which the men have set for them.

According to the mission statement of Bridges TV, “Bridges TV aims to foster a greater understanding among many cultures and diverse populations”, and continues to state they “seek to be a unifying force that can help people understand our diverse world through education and entertainment.”

I think I understand it now. A woman can be beheaded by fanatical Muslim men who feel betrayed by their spouses. All the sophistication in the world cannot undo the problem ones male image would suffer if convicted of such a crime in the US. In short, in acceptable Muslim society, women have no rights, even to life itself. Or perhaps I missed something here.


The steam roller came through…

Good jmorning, Netizens…

In this morning’s David Horsey cartoon we see the Obama steam roller running over the GOP. I am still attempting to understand how the Stimulus Bill was a bipartisan effort, since none of the Republicans voted in favor of it, so Horsey appears to have captured the essential truth in the passage of the bill. Armed with a Democratic majority in the House and Senate, perhaps it is easy to understand how the Obama plan was passed and will be signed into law today.

I do have to admit I was a bit startled at how quickly this 1000-plug page bill was conceived and then ratified. It has to set some kind of speed record for ratification, doesn’t it? That brings to mind the antique adage, “haste makes waste”, The only way to determine whether this is true, unfortunately, requires that we wait around a decade or so to see whether the Stimulus Bill actually effects the change(s) Democrats are suggesting it will do, or, conversely, whether this all will have been a waste of time and resources.

What is at stake if the Obama steamroller fails is far worse than the bruised egos of House and Senate Republicans. I am certain if that happens, the Republicans will remind us of it, and the Democrats will deny any and all responsibility. Based upon my observations, historically speaking, that is the way the Bipartisan efforts in Washington work.


Quote of the Day — February 17, 2009

Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.

- P. J. O’Rourke

Quote of the Day — February 16, 2009

Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build
bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce
bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning.

Rick Cook, The Wizardry Compiled

New chain of stores may be coming…

Good afternoon, Netizens…

Once again Bob Kirkpatrick seems to have hit the nail on the head, taking full-bore aim at Bill Gates’ announcement that Microsoft is considering opening a chain of Microsoft Stores. Ah, yes, the first stores in the history of merchanising whose products require a reboot every week, all without benefit of free technical support.

Ostensibly they will have tons of Microsoft-branded products, other than software, for sale.

Imagine the possibilities! You could be the first male person in Spokane to have a new pair of tighty-whities (boxers are optional) with the ubiquitous Microsoft Logo on its backside, or for the fairer members of the species, a lovely peignoir suitable for lounging at bedtime with a mug shot of Bill Gates prominently-displayed across your attributes.

Are these Microsoft-branded products not insipid enough for your taste?

Perhaps you can think of other ways in which to market Microsoft and make lots of money. Just remember the black and white cows only worked for Gateway for awhile.


The Queen speaks to the masses…

Good morning, Netizens…

While I’ll concede it is probably old news already, I’ve spent a fair amount of time and energy trying to ignore Queen Mary’s regal appearance last Friday, and/or her royal pronouncements regarding the State of our City. Unlike Doug Clark, who wrote this morning how life in this city require a pick and shovel, my variation on the theme is what we need most of all from Queen Mary is a pitchfork and a deep pit to throw the manure. Of course if we are modern-minded we could all contribute to the purchase of a manure spreader by a company named, incredibly enough, Hagedorn which might give Coeur D’Alene’s leading citizen acid reflux. It would add new meaning to the term bulk transfer though, wouldn’t it? I can see the vision of a modern-day Hagedorn manure spreader working its way North along Monroe Street distributing the manure from City Hall equally on both sides of the street.

We can only blame the ails of Spokane on the massive snow storms for so long, Queen Mary, and then eventually the City of Spokane has to begin taking responsibility for their own inept handling of various city functions such as streets. A group of like-minded friends are still taking bets on how it will be before you can see the curbing on both sides of Hamilton. Word among the group is it will be a few days after temperatures hit 60 degrees, but not before, because the City is not responsible for what is between the curbing on Hamilton. Nor most other streets for that matter.

Of course Doug Clark made specific mention of the $600,000 of drug seizure money that the Police Department unlawfully spent, but I submit that pales by comparison to the sordid tale of Detective Jason Uberuaga, who set new records for creative use of a City equipment. Let’s see here: pictures of a topless babe using a city-owned digital camera, sex in a squad car in front of a bar (which beats the old records) and then driving a squad car while intoxicated. According to my wild speculation, I would imagine that Uberagua is probably atop the Police Guild’s most popular officer of the year for setting such high standards of excellence yet still keeping his job. Of course, Queen Mary didn’t dare mention this in her litany of excellence. It might offend the Police Guild, and we cannot have that, now can we?

What she did mention effusively were her staffers, who repeatedly have demonstrated excellence at the job of performing endless mind-boggling bureaucracy and also giving a high-five to Avista Corporation for all the nifty bureaucratic functions they perform for the City of Spokane while most of us struggle to pay our electric and gas bills.

I’m giving Queen Mary a C- for her report and then I’m taking bets this will be yet another one-term Mayor.


Sentiments on Valetine’s Day 2009

Good morning, Netizens…

Happy Valentines Day!

So what do you do for that special person in your life when Valentine’s Day calls? You send flowers. Here are a lovely bunch of roses contributed by one of our finer photographers and the cards that accompanied them:

Sorry I gave you the clap. Although the doctor gave me a shot to cure it (you did go see your doctor, right?) perhaps these roses will help make it all better. Signed, Lover Boy

Aside from the fact I have never once cleaned up my collection of broken-down cars in the back yard, which I know infuriates you, please accept these roses as a symbol of my promise to take care of my Yugo collection just as soon as the snow melts. Signed, Hot Rod

I was going to buy you one of those spendy diamond pendants like you admire on television so much, but then I got a really good deal on a set of snow shoes at Cabella’s so all I could afford right now are these roses.Cost Saver

I promise never to go to the navy bean soup dinner at the Norwegian Hall again! Sorry you didn’t get any sleep last night. Happy Valentine’s Day. Signed, Toots

I never can remember what day is what, but at least this time I think I got it about right. Happy Lincoln’s Birthday. Signed, On Time for a Change

And for everyone else, Happy Valentine’s Day!


Seen and heard department…

Good morning, Netizens…

Yesterday afternoon while engrossed in a series of mundane tasks, my own beloved wife became snarled up in a police matter that left me laughing. A person whom I shall hereby refer to as “the tallywhacker wagger” was standing on a public street downtown during rush hour exposing himself and waving his appendage at people stopped at the street light, not to mention yelling obscenities and other diatribes at anyone willing to listen.When the light turned red, they had no choice but to observe his antics.

Being the only responsible member of my family, dear Wife called the Police Department and reported the miscreant, as it was obvious to her he was in need of professional help, if not more help than they could offer. However, who do you call when confronted with a tallywhacker wagger?

When the police called her back and asked her to come a few blocks away to identify the individual, she did so, later saying of the circumstances, “By then he had his clothes back on, but I was certain they had the right guy.”

My hunch is someone forgot to take their medication, but it made a good story nonetheless. My poor wife, who typically is unflappable, had been flapped, unfortunately.


Quote of the Day — February 14, 2009

History teaches us that men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all other alternatives.

Abba Eban (1915 - 2002)

The funeral for journalism?

Good morning, Netizens…

In this morning’s David Horsey cartoon from the Post-Intelligencer, he asks a question perhaps no one in the Blogosphere wants answered, that being what will the press conferences of the future look like when all the newspapers have closed and shuttered their doors? Will there be a band of bloggers asking the questions? Will any newspaper reporters survive the economic downturn to perform the hard research and ask the hard questions?

So much of the news we read in this blog comes from well-established traditional news sources such as the Associated Press, McClatchey and various other news wires. Even the news we obtain about our City Government comes traditionally from local and regional sources. If, as the Seattle Post-Intelligencer closes its doors in March, as it appears possible, who will stand up to ask the hard questions?

I submit that perhaps President Barack Obama is too quick to embrace the alternative forms of the news media, for inherent in the existing news media, even a cursory examination of its history, bespeaks decades of experience, acumen and the absolute adherence to the principles of good journalism that formulate the basis for news reporting as we once knew it to be.

As more major news sources shutter their doors for good, who will stand and ask the relevant questions of the future? It is both sobering and a sad commentary on our lives that there was no economic aid for failing newspapers in the Economic Stimulus Package. The news, particularly the print news media, it seems, cannot compete with the list of crooked bankers, dismally-performing auto manufacturers and mortgage companies, all of whom will receive handouts from the Stimulus Package.

Don’t look now, but our national priorities are on review, and I submit they are tragically wanting.


Just say NO…

Good morning, Netizens…

The news the last few weeks has been to put it bluntly, depressing. No, I’m not talking about the pile of Jello that our nation’s finances have turned into, although I could easily write two or three pages of raw vitriol about the impact a few millionaires have had on a lot of our lives. I have already tried, with some limited degree of success or failure to achieve journalistic ambivalence while writing about David Elton in jail, but it is hard to write news about someone you know. Then there are all the natural or man-made disasters that always crop up in the nation’s news wires, which are depressing by themselves. They don’t need my help today, although I have a 20 page analyses of the tornadoes that swept through the Midwest the other day that bears some serious consideration. We will get to that later.

But the one-two punch that has most caused me great depression and anxiety is the threat of the C word in the lives of two women with whom I am most-intimately involved. Cancer.

Perhaps the woman with whom I am most closely involved, other than my own beloved wife, is Jeanie that green-eyed red-headed woman I met many years ago at a picnic, a Gathering of the Phoenix Faithful. We held newsgroup Gatherings then, much as we do now although the circumstances are quite different today. Since Jeanie was a frequent voyeur and sojourner of that internet newsgroup, she and her significant other were there, and a friendship was formed.

Hackers and viruses abounding…

Good morning, Netizens…

Before I begin this morning’s rant, let me roll the calendar back a few decades to better demonstrate my personal perspective on that which our veteran cartoonist, Bob Kirkpatrick has spoken so well. The year was approximately the 1980’s, and I was running a version of Microsoft DOS shortly before the appearance of Windows 3.0x. I acquired a computer virus, an innocuous little thing that did nothing more than announce that DOS had a virus. Once I had studied the problem, and analyzed how it came to infect my machine, I was able to quickly remove it, all without using one today’s modern anti-virus applications. Of course, computer viruses were much less-complicated then.

However, from that time forward until today I have kept a copy of that particular virus in a safe place, and each time Microsoft releases yet another permutation of Windows, I have immediately put it to the test by infecting my own system with that antiquated virus. To date, including the latest releases of Vista, all versions of Windows have gleefully become infected. Each time I have forwarded an e-mail message to Microsoft announcing my findings. To date, I have yet to receive a reply.

Of course it should be said that shortly after my initial experiences involving viruses and Windows, I immediately began learning how to run Linux, which as it turned out, was quite similar to Unix with the exception that it was free of charge and Unix quite expensive in those days.

Today, nineteen years and counting, I have never had a virus, nor do I run anti-virus software excepting in those cases where Windows is running on the network somewhere. It seems too bad that the talking heads of our government haven’t the brains to discern the nature of hackers and viruses. Of course, they are merely repeating what they have been told, which typically is a fallacy based upon a long history of deliberate misconception. Microsoft has a cash cow and they are riding that poor heifer despite the countless billions of dollars its has cost Windows users over the years.

It does seem a sad commentary on our lives when a free operating system can whip Microsoft in that most basic of tests, to see whether or not Windows can handle a simple text-based virus on its own.

Once again, Bob Kirkpatrick ( has it just about right.


Lines, lines, everywhere lines?

Good morning, Netizens…

In this morning’s Picture of the Day, thousands of people turned out Wednesday for a federal government job fair at the Atlanta Federal Center in downtown Atlanta.

If you look far enough back in American history, it hasn’t been all that long since Americans once stood in line for ration stamps to buy food and other necessities during World War II. I remember my grandparents telling me of the hardships that system caused the family farm, and somewhere in the nether lands of my basement, I have several stamp books which I am told are now collector items.

While I’ll admit it is a bit of a reach to tie the massive unemployment sweeping the country and a World War II rationing program that few, if any, of us ever were involved with, perhaps the sobering questions should be asked nonetheless.

Will they be bringing food rationing stamps back in the foreseeable future? Will we be waiting in line for food? Will Obama’s financial recovery plans actually work?


David Elton’s surety bond $400,000…

Good evening, Netizens…

I first met David Elton face-to-face early in the morning at Starbucks on the South Hill last winter and suffered some of Starbuck’s wretched coffee. Ironically, despite the fact David was distracted by holding several other simultaneous conversations and playing competitive chess at a high level he managed to hold a fairly cogent conversation with me before I finally drifted away into making my early-morning runs.

I believe that was the only time I ever met David Elton face-to-face. It isn’t to say he is a stranger to me at all, after nearly 500 e-mail messages and countless telephone conversations, I feel I have a fairly comprehensive understanding of his capability and well as the nature of his bipolar affliction. It seems almost Orwellian that he is both one of the most engaging, convivial persons I have met in my walk through life, and simultaneously one of the more-dramatic cases of bipolar disorder I have witnessed. One can be both.

I believe when David Elton was arraigned on today various felony charges, relating to his threats against City Council President Joe Shogan and Betsy and Stacey Cowles that perhaps I understand him better than most people. Did David Elton, as charged, present a clear and obvious danger to himself and others, as he has written? I submit that depends upon your perspective about bipolar disorder.

Annie M., a severe Schizophrenic patient I knew over a decade ago, who were frequently hospitalized at Eastern State Hospital for repeatedly attempting to kill either herself or others, once stated in a rare moment of lucidity, “Just because you are crazy as a loon doesn’t mean you are a bad person. Sometimes it means you are more loving and empathetic than those around you, just unable to remain that way all day long.”

Eventually Annie M.’s horrific Schizophrenia was cured by medication. She went on to marry, have a family of her own and finish her Doctorate at Washington State University. Her degree? She won honors in abnormal psychology.

Tonight David Elton is in the Spokane County Jail with his surety bond set at $400,000 by Judge Judge Patti C. Walker. It seems to me that, instead of arguing his case before Judge Walker, the highest and best use of Justice would have been for David to request immediate mental health treatment rather than jail time. I join with many others in the hope he gets the care he needs and returns to productive living soon.


The bear reacts to the plan…

Good morning, Netizens…

The bear isn’t buying the deal! With the announcement that the economic stimulus plan is a done deal, the Wall Street bear in this morning’s David Horsey cartoon isn’t buying any of it. Judging by the fallout dramatic drop on Wall Street the last few days, it may appear to some that is quite probably true.

Depending upon where you hear it, which faction of the political spectrum is talking at the moment (and who isn’t talking right now?), the plan put forth by the Democrat majorities of the House and Senate is either a piece of drivel that needs more padding, or on the other hand, needs less. Some say it is nothing more than featherbedding while others say it is absolutely necessary for our economic survival. Perhaps it is easier to blame George W. Bush for our economic problems than it is to solve them.

The real issue appears to be if the world financial community will buy the plan. Right now their financial and stock markets are tanking too.


Quote of the Day — February 12, 2009

Any piece of clothing can be sexy with a quietly passionate woman inside it.

Anonymous, O Magazine, The Shy Girl’s Guide to Sex, February 2003

The chicken or the egg?

Good evening, Netizens…

Todays’ David Horsey cartoon opens a frequently-visited portal of discussion, that being Rush Limbaugh. Is he, as the cartoon suggests, an entertainer, or is he such a major part of the Republican Party that he surpasses entertainment?

As David Horsey suggests, isn’t it how deeply Rush gets into his roles?


David Elton arrested by Spokane Police…

Good evening, Netizens…

According to KHQ-TV Spokane Police have arrested a man after he wrote an email in which he threatened to kill City Council President Joe Shogun. David Elton, 43, was arrested following an interview with police Tuesday. Elton has been charged with three counts of Felony Harassment/Threats to Kill for his threats against Shogun and two other Spokane residents.

David, as many of you know, has appeared occasionally in Community Comment.


Search for Ombudsman Begins! Finally!

Here it is - Finally we are starting a search for the much desired Ombudsman.  Will this be the start of peace and goodwill in our community?  Will we finally have a bridge between the people and the police?

Who is the GOP?

Good morning, Netizens…

When I first glanced at David Horsey’s cartoon this morning, I merely snorted to myself somewhat in derision. Do you remember the Rev. Jeremiah Wright in Chicago, President Obama’s former minister? If you modify the cartoon slightly, doing away with the trunk and big ears, but keep the comment. Is the GOP going to be the socialist party of the future? Good question.


Who cares?

Good morning, Netizens…

Who cares?

Bob Kirkpatrick raises the ogre of life upwards toward our collective eyes, from the perspective of a Veteran and then asks quietly, “Who cares?” Perhaps a trip to the Deludia Annex is mandated. You are rounding a curve in the road, and up ahead there is a road sign that says, “You are entering the Deludia Annex”, and in a most-introspective moments you realize you have lost track of a generation of warriors and heroes, all of whom have fallen on very hard times indeed courtesy of the Veteran’s Administration. They are laying collectively in the roadside debris and excrement of life, gasping and pleading that the promises once made to them by our own benevolent Uncle Sam be kept. A quick reality trip to will not give you warm-fuzzy feelings. However, it raises one man’s question, one that mandates an answer.

Who cares if one more soldier burns alive with Agent Orange disease while the VA bureaucracy is fiddling?

Do you?


The eyes have it…

Good morning, Netizens…

In this morning’s picture of the day, Sayed Abdul Karim, 80, sits with his grandaughter, Camina, 9, left, in an internally displaced camp three hours from their village in Galochi district, bombed in a U.S. military raid on Sunday in Laghman, Afghanistan. The operation drove hundreds of families out of their villages after 270 homes were destroyed and 16 civilians killed. (February 08, 2009) Getty Images

This is a fine picture.

Having a granddaughter who is approaching that most-magical age of her life, I have felt my granddaughter’s eyes gazing upon me with the same reverence and trust as in this picture, and in my reverie this morning, I pondered how I would feel were I in this man’s place. With her implicit trust glistening in her eyes, yet sitting in the squalor of a displaced persons camp, what could I possibly say to her except, “everything is going to be all right”, all the time hoping that it would be all right.

This raises the issue of when is it all right to sit there, filled with trepidations and fears about the future, and telling the lie to your beloved granddaughter that everything is all right, everything will get better? When do you tell a beloved and innocent child the truth, that you fear things may worsen?

How can I possibly explain or justify to my granddaughter that my generation has handed her a nine trillion-plus-dollar debt? How realistic is that perhaps some day, if things continue unabated, you or I will be in this picture? The memorable words from our generation of poets and songwriters, Crosby, Stills and Nash once prophetically wrote:

And you, of tender years,
Can’t know the fears that your elders grew by.
And so please help them with your youth,
They seek the truth before they can die.
Teach your parents well,
Their children’s hell will slowly go by.
And feed them on your dreams,
The one they picks, the one you’ll know by.

Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you will cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you…….

There is nothing in this world or beyond comparable to the love of grandchildren, and thus I sigh at the beginning of this, yet another new week, and know love. 


Quote of the Day — February 9, 2009

The perfect bureaucrat everywhere is the man who manages to make no decisions and escape all responsibility.

Brooks Atkinson (1894 - 1984), Once Around the Sun, 1951

Quote of the Day — February 8, 2009

The government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.

Ronald Reagan (1911 - 2004)

Reagan forgot one other axiom: if, despite all the efforts of the government to the contrary, if we have a robust, stable economy by all means make certain you take credit for it. If not, blame it on the other political party.


Seen and heard department…

Good afternoon, Netizens…

Seen and heard over the fence behind the Virtual Ballroom:

 Dear Sirs:

One of my checks was returned, marked    insufficient funds.  In view of  current events in the banking market, does that refer to me or to you?

Now that seems like an apt question, given the strange times in which we live.


Remember Ravi Shankar…

Good morning, Netizens…

Here is a name from my past and yours, one that will unquestionably be remembered long after you and I are interred and forgotten. I have worshiped and idolized Indian classical music and Ravi Shakar since the first time I was introduced to it in the early 1960’s. Among some of the other great musicians with whom Dr. Ravi Shakar has collaborated with in his lifelong experience as a musician and composer are (of course) the late George Harrison of the Beatles, jazz great Cannonball Adderly, conductor/composer/musician Yehudi Menuhin, Eric Clapton, conductor David Murphy and Jethro Tull, to name just a few.

Born in 1920, although quite advanced in years, I was astounded to read about it, if you browse to and follow the link to their tour dates, you will see that although nearly 90 years of age, Shakar accompanied by his daughter, Anoushka Shankar, also a sitarist,will be touring the United States later on this year.

Did I mention that Anoushka Shankar’s half-sister, Nora Jones, has been tearing up the charts, with five Grammy awards?

Yes, all that and more. The music, if not the legacy of Ravi Shankar is very much still alive and as vibrant as I recall it being at Woodstock and beyond. Thus as the morning, wandering from the dulcet fingertips of fog rasping along the remnants of the snow berms to the elegance of the early robin, speculatively examining a nearby plum tree for suitable accommodations to nest for the coming spring, I choose to remember Ravi Shankar, a living legend of music who is still with us, it seems.


Upon being alone together…

Good afternoon, Netizens…

Today’s Picture of the Day, personally a favorite, shows former First Lady Nancy Reagan spending quiet time with her late husband, which brings me to my commentary on matrimony in the White House.

A blogger for the New York Times asked a question of her readers, one that I will pass onward to you. At asked about obsessions about Barack and Michelle Obama. She wondered whether a friend and her couldn’t possibly be the only ones dreaming, brooding or otherwise obsessing about the Obamas, and then she put that question to her readers.

There were, as you might suspect, a lot of fantasies about the Obama marriage. And I quote, “Barack and Michelle Obama look like they have sex. They look like they like having sex,” a Los Angeles woman wrote, summing up the comments of many. “Often. With each other. These days when the sexless marriage is such a big celebrity in America (and when first couples are icons of rigid propriety), that’s one interesting mental drama.”

The first thought that came into my mind, perhaps unwanted or at least unexpected was, I agree that Barack and Michelle probably were used to having sex frequently, or at least did until they moved into the uppermost circle of the White House, complete with Secret Service agents everywhere.

Yes, to answer you unspoken question, there are Secret Service agents just outside Barack and Michelle’s bedroom, ostensibly listening over audio devices to their every sound. This is in case, God forbid, that someone should ever manage to gain access to their bedroom and attack them as they sleep. Perhaps that is taking security a step one too far, but nonetheless, it is plausible that someone could invade their household and attack them at their most private moments in the White House.

I hold no such obsessions about the Obamas. My only visions of Michelle Obama is that she is a extremely beautiful woman of extreme discernment, a person whose graciousness has only begun to make itself evident in how she greets and deals with persons great and small who enter her new life as First Lady. I did wonder, however, how Michelle Obama internally has adapted to her new life in what I call the ultimate fishbowl, where her every statement, even in the paroxysms of having sex with her husband, are overheard. I wonder how she is adapting to the circumstance where she is never alone with her husband, and how long it will be before she wants to run away.

I couldn’t live in that fishbowl, simply because I have to have my private time, quiet time when no one else is around, even listening to me from outside my bedroom door. I would have to run away eventually, to someplace where only myself and my Beloved wife and I could hear ourselves whispering in the dark.

And yes, I hope that when both Barack Obama is gone from life, that both his wife will come and spend quiet time with each of us respectively. It might be the only time they will spend together alone together again.

When you and I are both gone, who will come to spend time in solitude with our memories?


Aliens responsible for Global Warming?

Good morning, Netizens…

This morning, David Horsey takes an unexpurgated view of the cause of Global Warming. Since no one, either Republican nor Democrat, seems to be responsible for allowing it to happen, and until recently, no one from either party wanted to dedicate resources to combatting Global Warming, it stands to reason that Aliens must be responsible for it, right?

Oh. That’s cool. The Aliens are admitting they are responsible and what is the government doing about it? Do you care?


Quote of the Day — February 7, 2009

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas (1914 - 1953), Collected poems (1952)

Homeless in Spokane

As you go along your normal day, the morning ritual of getting ready for work, or just getting ready for your day, do you look around yourself and count your blessings? 

Do you have: 

A house/apartment
Dishes to eat out of
Food for those dishes
A refrigerator and stove
Bed with blankets and sheets and pillows
Chair or couch

And many of you have much, much more than that.  Imagine putting all your possessions in something else you will live in – say a car.  Imagine further – what if you didn’t have a car?  Imagine putting all that stuff in a large box (if you are lucky) or under a bridge.

Read the article: at the Spokesman, about homeless people.

I know – you won’t really read it.  You’ll pass over it because it doesn’t really affect you.  You aren’t homelss and you “never” will be homeless. 

However, I think there is a very, very fine line between me walking with Lee Ann Winters and me having my own apartment.

…and now from the Right…

Good morning Netizens…

I nearly always chafe myself when people, not knowing my true mindset, accuse me of being one-sided in how I approach politics. I listen to a lot of diverse views on the body politic, and more often than not I do hold an opinion, based upon my perceptions. What I am going to do this morning is just one of those “touchy issues” as I freely admit I have never been a true-blue believer in most of what the Fox News Network broadcasts as their version of the news. Despite having said that, I will also admit freely that what views they hold of President Barack Obama should always be defended, as it is part of the American discourse we call freedom of speech.

In this Fox news/opinion broadcast, courtesy of Youtube, we have Glenn Beck, who holds the position of being the Fourth most-popular talk show host in America and a Mormon, attempting to sell the concept that our country is most-certainly on the road to Socialism, if not Communism, and although I believe he does a better job of it than perhaps Rush Limbaugh, I question some of his postulates and theories. Watch this:

However, I do submit that some of what Beck is saying is painfully true. Isn’t some of what our government is considering to do about our bank fiasco some form of socialism? After all, the government is planning to buy out the assets of certain financial institutions, aren’t they? However, on the flip side of this coin, we have a quote attributed to Beck in which he says, “I am a conservative who happens to not be a Republican.” Elsewhere, he identifies himself as “Libertarian-leaning.”

Suggesting that a sitting President of the United States has communist tendencies is not necessarily forbidden fruit, simply because he has the right to express such an opinion, however inflammatory it might be. However, that does not mean I have to necessarily believe everything he says.

After all, Beck asserts he is a “self-educated man” who “spent more time in the parking lot than in class.” Admittedly as a former alcoholic and pothead, as far as I have been able to discern, Beck has no formal college education, but has a gift for biting humor that normally would anger people from such Liberal institutions of higher education as Berkeley. He doesn’t make me necessarily angry. Sometimes he scares the bejesus out of me for like Rush Limbaugh, he has a huge groundswell of public support. Other times, such as today, he makes me think, and I believe that is as important as almost anything the government has to say.


Tom Daschle withdraws…

Good morning, Netizens…

In the ongoing saga of high-flying members of both houses and both political parties who have been caught cheating on, or at least improperly filing their taxes, Tom Daschle ( has been caught as certainly as a fly in amber in the cross-hairs of public censure. Almost a certain shoe-in for the position of the Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Obama cabinet, he withdrew his name once it was discovered he had problems relating to unpaid taxes. He was not the only one caught in the web.

In this morning’s David Horsey cartoon, we revisit the ostensible scene just before Daschle withdrew his name from consideration, but it does raise the question of who vetted Daschle as a candidate for Obama’s cabinet, doesn’t it? It strikes me as utterly odd how many people were considered for cabinet posts who had tax problems, and I wonder why no one caught them before their name(s) became fodder for public outcry.

On the more-positive side of things, at least we found out about it before he was appointed to a cabinet position and served a few months, or perhaps even years in office.Now that would have really created a stink in the Obama Presidency, wouldn’t it?


He was just kidding…

Good morning, Netizens…

Today we feature a first taste of the satire of Bob Kirkpatrick, an old friend and ally, who has begun yet another humorous insight into Americana at that bears some careful introspection.

He will become a frequent-flier in the Virtual Ballroom in the coming days, as he is always a cut above being on-point, a very funny man, which is hard to do since he has multiple myeloma, a wretched form of cancer, but as always, is putting up a good fight. Talk about insight into the Veteran’s Administration, he has it!


Quote of the Day—January 5, 2009

When you go into court you are putting your fate into the hands of twelve
people who weren’t smart enough to get out of jury duty.

Norm Crosby

Car seat death leads to charge

Police say mother installed baby’s seat improperly

Jody Lawrence-Turner
Staff writer

Spokane County prosecutors charged a Post Falls woman with vehicular homicide Tuesday in the death of her infant daughter, who was severely injured by a car’s airbag while riding in a rear-facing car seat in Spokane.

If convicted, it could be the first time in Washington a parent has been held accountable for the death of a child stemming from an improperly installed car seat, prosecutors and police say.

Yesterday’s free breakfast at Denny’s…

Good morning, Netizens…

Rather than set traps for wolverines or badgers this morning, I turned my rheumy eyes toward one of those icons of American plenty, Denny’s Restaurants. ( Although I cannot personally tolerate the food at Denny’s, as corporate chow nearly always makes me ill, at least it beats roasted wolverine over an open campfire, and I don’t have to discover where I hid my Swiss Army Knife.

Apparently Denny’s had a national advertising campaign which offered free Grand Slam breakfasts yesterday, and judging by the look of this picture, a lot of people decided to take Denny up on their offer. As one Spokane Denny’s manager stated, “When you’re in a recession like this, free counts.”

The South Carolina-based restaurant chain figured they would be giving away over 2 million free Grand Slam breakfasts, excluding the coffee and orange juice, of course. Customers lined up in really long lines at most major cities in the United States to hold Denny’s to their promise. According to the AP at several cities, Denny’s had to hand out rain checks simply because the lines were so long, people were still waiting in line at 2:00 PM, when the deadline expired for this event to conclude.

At least in a state like California, which recently began issuing IOU’s to its creditors, at Denny’s a rain check for a free breakfast is good for something more substantial it would seem.

Not having been born yet, this reminds me of the historied food lines in the Great Depression, except people didn’t eat nearly so well then.


What Vehicle Gets the Most Traffic Tickets

People who drive Hummers receive almost five times as many traffic tickets as the average driver, according to a new study.

I have a couple friends who own and drive Hummers.  Personally, it is an extravagant luxury that isn’t part of my budget so no worries here.  I’ll just stay in the Hummer driver’s shadow and let him get the ticket.

Columbia Gorge Hotel Closes

By The Associated Press


 HOOD RIVER, Ore. — The landmark Columbia Gorge Hotel has closed because of financial problems.

The hotel was built in 1921 as the “Waldorf of the West” and housed the likes of Rudolph Valentino, Shirley Temple, Calvin Coolidge and Franklin Roosevelt.

Owners Boyd and Halla Graves have closed the hotel east of Hood River. They say they face health problems and more than $4 million in mortgage debt, while financing has run out and two sales have fallen through.

 Halla Graves says her husband had nine cardiac procedures in 2007.

 A real estate agent says the property needs upgrades. The original price was $10 million — it’s now $5.9 million.

 Timber tycoon Simon Benson built the 39-room hotel. It employed 30 recently and would hire up to 130 workers during the May-December high season.

Tom Daschle Withdraws

President Obama’s pick for Health and Human Services secretary had been under fire for tax issues.

WASHINGTON – Tom Daschle has withdrawn his nomination to be Health and Human Services secretary.

That’s according to a joint White House statement from President Barack Obama and his former nominee.

Obama said Tuesday he accepted the withdrawal “with sadness and regret.”

Daschle has been battling for his nomination since it was disclosed he failed to pay more than $120,000 in taxes.

He said he’s withdrawing because he’s not a leader who has the full faith of Congress and will be a distraction. 


Alas, poor Bill…

Good morning, Netizens…

The “official” cut line for this picture reads approximately, “Former President Bill Clinton, center, and daughter Chelsea Clinton, right, look on during a ceremonial swearing-in for Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Monday, at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)
(February 02, 2009)”

However, given Bill’s slightly-reddened face, which may or may not be a normal course of consequences, and that Chelsea cannot see Bill’s other hand from where she is standing, perhaps a better quote from Hillary, who is about to take the oath of office, might be, “Bill, get your filthy hand off my backside, you lecher!”

I want to know, how does she stay married to Bill, after his ostensible affair with Monica Lewinsky? Well, according to this video, they all have gotten on with their lives. Hillary is now sworn in as Secretary of State and Bill? There are still rumors circulating about what he is going to do now.

In 2006 Ms. Lewinsky Lewinsky graduated with a masters degree in Social Psychology from the London School of Economics. (

What do you think former President Bill Clinton will do now that Hillary is Secretary of State?


Quote of the Day — February 3, 2009

Bachelor’s degrees make pretty good placemats if you get ‘em laminated.

Jeph Jacques, Questionable Content, 01-04-07

The greatest tribute…

Good morning, Netizens…

The talking heads today are occasionally talking about Jennifer Hudson’s story, about her compelling performance of the Star Spangled Banner before the Super Bowl yesterday, and some even mentioning the murders of her mother, brother and nephew who were brutally murdered in October of last year, ostensibly murdered by the singer’s brother-in-law, William Balfour, who has been charged in the crimes. Despite the fact that Jennifer Hudson lip-synched her performance yesterday, as that is an order of the NFL, she gave the performance of a lifetime before an audience of billions around the globe.

The hulking football players, great clad heroes of the coming battle, appeared to be touched, as was I.

However, the truly greatest significance of Jennifer Hudson’s performance came not from her considerable talents and tremendous vocalization.

No, for what brought tears to my eyes, insufferable old sentimental poop that I am, is that after countless wars, thousands of young people in far-off lands willing to give their lives for their country, and all the strife and anguish that it implies, Old Glory, our great American flag is still there, floating in the breeze, to give us all pause to consider how very fortunate we are. For a time there, a mere dot in the face of history, perhaps others were reminded of the great sacrifices that flag represents, and we as a Nation might be grateful to be here, and to live in the greatest free country in the world.


Where does it all end?

Good morning, Netizens…

All the doctors of the world have gathered together and using the most-modern technology available have examined the patient, the world’s economic health, drawing nearly the same conclusions. The patient is dreadfully sick, and it all began here, with the United States of America banking industry. It is a particularly ugly, dangerous cancer, and now it has spread throughout the entire world, affecting the world economy.

Today the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s David Horsey introduces us to a portion of the banking industry where the cancer began, and one hopes, ultimately ends. When banks were failing, when they first approached the federal government asking for bail outs, ostensibly too broke to continue business without additional revenue, the high-flying CEO’s of these same banks were paying themselves huge bonuses and salaries despite the wretched fiscal conditions their banks were facing.

When our government magnanimously handed out what is essentially free money, over which there were few restrictions and no visible schema by which these “loans” would ever be paid back to the American taxpayers, they were hiring foreign workers while they laid off American employees.

While it is perhaps easy to paint these bankers, as David Horsey aptly has done in this cartoon, as uncaring, greedy and self-serving individuals, the ultimate question still remains—how do we cure the patient? The real backbone of the American economy has always and perhaps will always be the middle-class and small business owners of American society, who pay a disproportionate share of the taxes, provide the bulk of jobs to American wage-earners and give our economy long-term stability.

I submit that the first real test of President Barack Obama’s first term of office, nay even his first 100 days, will be how and when he excises the cancer that is threatening the global economy and has reduced the net worth of our entire nation. Without pointing the finger of retribution or blame, he must heal the patient. Fail at that, the only persons who seem certain to survive the economic chaos are those who got rich while the rest of us watched our savings and investments dissipate, while Rome is burning Nero is playing.

I feel trepidations. Do you?


Banks used bailout money to hire foreign workers?

Good evening, Netizens…

In this Sept. 26, 2007, file photo Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, talks to reporters in his Capitol Hill office in Washington. U.S. banks that are collecting billions of dollars in taxpayer loans to stay afloat sought government permission to import thousands of foreign workers for high-paying jobs in the United States, an Associated Press investigation has found. The job losses anger lawmakers like Sen. Charles Grassley, who is pushing legislation to make employers recruit American workers first, along with other reforms to the visa program. Photo Credit: (AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson, File)

Had I not read this live off the Associated Press Wires, and then confirmed it several other ways, I would have not believed it possible. Major U.S. banks sought government permission to bring thousands of foreign workers into the country for high-paying jobs even as the system was melting down last year and Americans were getting laid off. The dozen or so banks now receiving taxpayer bailouts totaling more than $150 billion, requesting visas for more than 21,800 foreign workers over the past six years. These were not, by any means, entry-level positions, but senior vice presidents, corporate lawyers, junior investment analysts and human resources specialists according to the AP article.

The article then went on to state as factual that “as the economic collapse worsened last year — with huge numbers of bank employees laid off — the numbers of visas sought by the dozen banks in AP’s analysis increased by nearly one-third, from 3,258 in the 2007 budget year to 4,163 in fiscal 2008.”

It appears unknown how many foreign employees were actually hired, nor how many of the recently-hired foreign workers were laid off once the big layoffs in banking began.

Additional investigation by the Associated Press discovered that none of the banks that have received federal bailouts would comment publicly on their foreign hiring policies, nor would they state for the record how many foreign workers they still employed. There were several instances cited by the Associated Press where Americans were laid off, only to be replaced by the foreign workers under the US Department of Labor’s H-1B program which allows foreign workers to obtain visas.

Although several people, including the Senior Republican on the House Finance Committee were angered, the old adage about closing the barn door after the cattle have all fled seems apt. Suddenly, upon reviewing several sources of information, the previous comments made about “oversight” on how the bailout money is spent seem vacuous, empty and devoid of any purpose other than for appearance’s sake.

The banks were using our taxpayer money to hire foreign workers while Americans were laid off. Will this be allowed to continue under President Barack Obama’s first 100 days? That remains to be seen.


Quote of the Day — February 2, 2009

There are more of them than us.

Herb Caen

A Special Quote of the Day Super Bowl Sunday…

Good afternoon, Netizens…

Normally long before now an automaton bot would have selected the quote of the day automatically and put it in my outbound queue to be posted in Community Comment. However, today, for various reasons, I decided to find a quote which best summarizes my opinions about Super Bowl Sunday. It is:

You can tell the ideals of a nation by its advertisements.

Norman Douglas, South Wind, (1917-1952) British writer-in-exile for part of his life, South Wind was one of his most-popular books.

If you were an utter stranger to this land, and were seeing America for the first time, what impressions would form in your mind while watching the incredibly-expensive (205 million dollars worth) advertisements during the Super Bowl? How would those first impressions compare to what you see today?


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