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Archive for May 2009

GM future and past…

Good evening Netizens…

In this file photo taken Jan. 11, 2009, Chevrolet Beat concept car, which will be introduced as a production car Spark, is shown at at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. General Motors Corp. said Friday, May 29, 2009, that it plans to reopen a shuttered U.S. factory to build compact cars that will likely be the smallest vehicles GM has ever produced here. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

However, with only 8 inches of front ground clearance, the question remains unanswered how well this vehicle will fare among residents in the Northern United States snow zones where such ground clearances would probably make such a low-cut vehicle unable to get around in winter snow.

However, as of 7:00 PM tonight, the Associated Press has announced that General Motors will file for bankruptcy protection Monday morning, which perhaps comes as no surprise to most readers. The deal between GM and the Federal Government will give the American taxpayers more than a 70% ownership of the GM product lines. The Feds will pump another $30 billion dollars into GM as it weaves its way through the bankruptcy process, above and beyond the $20 billion they have already loaned them thus far. Even the bondholders have indicated they will give their blessings to the deal.

Still, when GM emerges from bankruptcy, it will not closely resemble the auto giant we have known for over 100 years. There will be four product lines left: Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC. The Hummer brand, which at least could navigate through snow, will perhaps be sold to the highest bidder, and the venerable Oldsmobile will simply cease to exist.

I can easily recall over 40 years of American automobiles and trucks, including many technical specifications for various models I have either owned and/or driven in that time. Some of my favorites are the Oldsmobile Super 98 (which I hopped up to over 375 horsepower, good for more than a few tickets), my infamously long-lived 52 Chevrolet pickup truck which originally had a 6-cylinder engine with babbitted main and rod bearings, but eventually became a vintage 283 V-8 when I could no longer obtain the engine parts.

The 57 Chevy Bel-Air, the 50-something split-window GMC pickup, the 56 Pontiac straight-8 cylinder— my goodness when I stop to think of all the various GM vehicles I have owned over the years, I realize I could be quite well-to-do today if I had kept them all. But I’ll always have the memories.


Second Place for Susan Boyle…

Good evening, Netizens…

The results are already final…singer Susan Boyle won Second Place at the finals of Britain’s Got Talent.

The dance group Diversity took First Place, and Susan Boyle Second Place.

Is this the end of life in the big lights for Boyle, or just the beginning of something else entirely? According to several sources, Susan Boyle already has offers, including a CD and other lucrative episodes in her future. However, mark my words, in ten year’s time Diversity will have disappated to a twinkle in the firmament, and Susan Boyle will still, one hopes, be singing with that incredible voice of hers.


The dog ate my homework

You know that dream you have where you wake up (in your dream) and realize that today is the final exam for a particular class that you never attended because you could never find the classroom in all the ten weeks you wandered the university halls?  I wonder if that is what happened with the hundreds of teachers in the Spokane school district that allowed one class required by the state to drop through the cracks for the last four years!  Unbelievable!  And on Washington state history, no less.


I know it’s nobody’s fault - but, good grief!


Why I did not attend Friday evening’s show…

Good evening, Netizens…

Thus far, I know of only one of the purported half-dozen people who attended last night’s first showing of the Police Ombudsman candidates, and the comments of this person regarding the process were not all that complimentary either. In fact, I haven’t heard from one person who was astronomically wowed by the first meeting. Although, as the Spokesman-Review has noted in a piece about the Ombudsman introductions here, the number of people who attended the protest regarding the Ombudsman role vastly out-numbered those who attended the 5:00 PM meet-and-greet session.

Why didn’t I attend?

One: I do not believe for a moment that an Ombudsman without any independent investigative authority over Police or their Guild is capable of doing their job. Barring the ability to investigate police, what good is the Ombudsman’s office to begin with? I have seen first-hand and read accounts where a vibrant, active Ombudsman, armed with the right to investigate charges against police, would be an invaluable asset to our community. However, without that right by law, my prediction is that an Ombudsman without investigative authority will result in the same runaround and half-truths that take place already.

Two: Planning a public meeting of this type at 5:00 PM on a Friday night virtually guarantees that few, if any people will bother to show up. Furthermore the lack of planning shows disdain for the common person who has to work for a living, make dinner and take care of their families, just the sort of grandstanding I have come to associate with Queen Mary Verner, Mayor of Spokane.

With the people already distrustful of the process by which the Office of the Ombudsman was created, and the apparent lack of trust they have in the Police Department, Spokane needs a more generic overhaul beginning at the top of the administrative towers of power.


North Korea poised for war?

Good morning, Netizens…

The North Koreans have successfully launched a new type of missile overnight according to the Associated Press. The North fired the missile from its Musudan-ni launch site on the east coast, a South Korean government official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the matter. It is the sixth short-range missile North Korea has test-fired since Monday’s nuclear test. Yonhap News Agency in South Korea, citing an unknown government source, stated this missile is an improved version of the SA-5 which North Korea purchased from the Soviet Union in the mid-60’s.

In the meantime, Chinese fishing boats have been seen fleeing North Korean waters in what might appear to be attempts to avoid a battle at sea. U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said the situation was not a crisis and no additional U.S. troops would be sent to the region. Call me a paranoid, but I would call a loose cannon in charge of North Korea firing off missiles and testing nuclear weapons a crisis, but I could be wrong. I hold no hunches nor predispositions about North Korea’s intentions; only that their actions and those of their despotic leaders are making me nervous.

First I have a reading assignment for those who have indicated by their participation in a discussion of nuclear weapons versus EMP explosions in near-space. If you browse to you will read the full, rather extensive report of how much damage an atom bomb exploding in near-space could cause and how realistic such a scenario might be. Trust me, this report is extensive and rather pointed in its conclusions.

Read this PDF to gain a better understand of what, in the words of this commission, those impacts might be like.

As I see it, the following questions apply:

Could North Korea launch an atomic weapon somewhere over the United States and explode it aloft? My opinion is yes. It could devastate our entire government including command and control over a wide area. The example given by the commission is that a nuclear weapon exploded in near space over Indiana could wipe out an area from Western Nebraska to New York City. Lights, water, telecommunications and some military site(s) would be severely impacted.

Does this need to be an EMP weapon? No, based upon the results of an above-ground explosion done above Johnson Island in the South Pacific. It knocked power and lights out in Hawaii, and by today’s standards, it was a puny bomb indeed.

Should we take the threat of North Korea seriously? HELL YES. Given the instability of the current regime in control of North Korea, we need to take every step within reason to stop this madness.

These, of course, are strictly my opinions, and I hold no special qualifications to make such a determination, other than I have read the report(s) cited above in detail. Some of the information, particularly about switching mechanisms that control power and water I fully understand and am cognizant about the impact EMP might have upon their operation.

And, by all means, if you hold different opinions than my own about this sensitive matter, feel free to add any comments you may have.


North Korea adds to its threats…

Good morning, Netizens…

North Korea has created world enmity and discontent with its actions the last few days, from launching 5 test missiles and ostensibly exploding an underground nuclear device. As if to add insult to injury, this morning North Korea threatened to launch military strikes against South Korea if any of its ships were stopped or searched as part of an American-led operation to intercept vessels suspected of carrying weapons of mass destruction.

Of course, after the successful test of another nuclear weapon, South Korea hustled to join the global interdiction program, despite the fact the North Korean government warned them not to participate.

The United States is apparently choosing to ignore the threats and is proceeding with a plan to begin aerial verification of the atom bomb test and to stop ships suspected of carrying materials and/or WMD to North Korea.

To further quote North Korea, “Any hostile act against our peaceful vessels including search and seizure will be considered an unpardonable infringement on our sovereignty and we will immediately respond with a powerful military strike.”

My opinion is if the United States keeps messing around with North Korea, something bad might happen and sooner than we may have been led to believe. I would not put it beyond them to put an atomic bomb on South Korea.

A North Korean newspaper, Minju Joson, said in a commentary Wednesday that Pyongyang, North Korea does not fear repercussions.

“It is a laughable delusion for the United States to think that it can get us to kneel with sanctions,” it said. “We’ve been living under U.S. sanctions for decades, but have firmly safeguarded our ideology and system while moving our achievements forward. The U.S. sanctions policy toward North Korea is like striking a rock with a rotten egg.”

What the North Korean newspaper omits is that striking a rock with a rotten egg always stinks to high heaven.


[portions dedacted from the New York Times and Yahoo! News sources]

Quote of the Day — May 27, 2009

Good morning, Netizens…

I am wandering a bit afield here for today’s quote of the day, as I could not help but wonder how it would sit with each of you.

“I would have lost my virginity earlier than I did, at 22, (because) I would have been much more in touch with myself. To me, that’s a health regret.” (Brooke Shields, attributed to People Magazine)

Now mind you, I am in what some call the mid-60’s of life, and having lived a long and very colorful life, I hereby admit remembering the location and time when I lost my virginity at the International Odd Fellows Old Folks Home residents hall at the ripe of age of 21.

Do you remember losing your virginity, or is that even a charged issue for you today? Do you have any regrets, like Brooke Shields obviously does? Or, if you could relive that part of your lives, would you wait or hurry?


KREM-2 in the prophecy business?

Good morning, Netizens…

In this morning’s news on KREM-2 TV while the voice-over droned on and on about the missile testing of North Korea they sat there with a picture of a nuclear bomb, the mushroom cloud plainly visible on-screen. Given that North Korea also did an underground nuclear test over the long weekend, perhaps the news department did not understand the difference between an above-ground test of a nuclear weapon and one underground.

Perhaps they were just being prophetic.


Susan Boyle rocks the house again…

Good morning, Netizens…

Much like Simon Cowell, the first time I heard Scottish singer Susan Boyle perform on Britain’s Got Talent, I sat there with my mouth gaping wide open because it was one of the biggest surprises ever. This frumpish, somewhat dowdy woman from a small village in Scotland did not look as if she could possibly sing, much less have talent, but when she opened her mouth in her initial performance on stage, she blew not only typically-acidic Simon Cowell away, but neatly swept up his fellow judges Amanda Holden and Piers Morgan into her camp.

I could not help but wonder what would happen to her as the competition for the finals, slated for next Saturday night, began to stiffen up, and thus last night I looked in to see if she had repeated her initial stellar performance. Aside from a few jitters early, a place or two where she missed her target note, that incredible voice was there, powerful, dominating and clear as a bell as she sang “Memory” from the musical Cats.

Someone has plucked her eyebrows a bit, and she’s had a bit of a tint job on her hair, but she hasn’t “gone Hollywood” on us by a long shot. She is a constant and abiding reminder that we cannot ever judge a book by its cover. But she is in the finals slated for next Saturday night.


Preface to Memorial Day…

Good morning, Netizens…

I receive a lot of e-mail from this source, and although he is barred from posting live, occasionally he writes so eloquently, so very much from the heart, that I cannot help myself but post his messages. Sitting in front of the open window overlooking The Virtual Garden this morning, he writes:

The sun is breaking through my window and as usual I could not sleep.   I was thinking about tomorrow. Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, it is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service.

There are all the ceremonies and events where uncaring politicians and bigwigs talk about things that they do not know of.  I think about my older brother who went to Vietnam and came home pretty shot up.  I was just an ignorant high school kid and did not understand.  Not too many people cared. The Government didn’t, my family didn’t.  He wandered and faltered and eventually took his own life. The Vietnam war was not necessary and was only a paranoid reaction by our politicians at the time whom had nothing better to do than to expend the lives of 50,000 of our finest citizens.

On Monday they will dedicate/groundbreak a new State Veterans Cemetary out near Medical Lake.  I find it sadly ironic that we can find the money to build a Cemetery to take care of out dead veterans, but there is no money to help or take care of our LIVE ones, of whom so many are now becoming homeless.

The VA hospital here is much like a repair factory. Broken Veterans go in and supposedly fixed ones come out, but they are never as good as new and the process is failing. One cant undo all the pain and suffering and midnight sweats and the monsters that come out of the night to haunt our souls with just a pill. We are never ever made whole again.

Von Clauswitz once said. Military action is the last resort of an incompetent politician, this having been proven again and again and most recently from our previous Commander in Chief. Sadly our political and military leaders spend lots of time and effort calculating how to fight a war, but they then never consider the costs of ending such, and the human cost of those whom have to fight it for them.

Many of us voted for Obama on the beliefs that lack of habeus corpus, justice and freedom, and truth would be re-established, that warrantless searches, illegal wire taps, state endorsed torture, secret prisons would go away. We also voted for “CHANGE” that has yet to happen.  We still have McMorris, Murray and Cantwell who keep talking out of both sides of their mouths. So all this bailout money goes to prop up corrupt corporations that have been running in the red for years, yet the money comes from the pockets of us whose been laid off and whose mortgages are failing and whose retirement accounts after years of scrimping and saving are now a pittance.

I keep expecting my government to fix and do the right things, but it doesn’t. I guess my soul is very tired.  I will probably drag myself to the Cemetery’s and the events, remembering those who gave all and cursing my Government that sent them there.  

Thank you my fellow veterans, your sacrifices will not be forgotten, nor the pain and suffering that you dealt with.  Someday I too will let all the hurts go away and will join you, and for one hour, of one day, of one year, they will put a pretty little flag on my grave and maybe people will stand around listening to our lying politicians, never knowing the sacrifices we made so the rest of you can live in freedom.

Humpty Dumpty
p.s. All the kings horses and all the Kings men cant put Humpty Dumpty together again.

Tomorrow we may remember those fallen dead and living who have served our country. Many will not remember them at all, but will celebrate nonetheless. Unfortunately, everyone should, as we do take a lot for granted in this country.

Thank you Mr. Dumpty for your contribution and service.


Man in coma after Seattle Police tackle…

Good morning, Netizens…

In a Seattle police case gone tragically wrong on May 10, Christopher Harris, a 29 year-old restaurant worker still is in a coma in Seattle after police mistakenly pushed him head-first into a wall outside a theater. The entire event was caught on video but now police state Harris’ life-threatening injuries do not seem to be criminal in nature.

Sheriff’s Deputy Matthew Paul, 26, gave Harris a “hard shove” that apparently fell within legal boundaries, knocking him head-first into a concrete wall Sgt. John Urquhart of the Sheriff’s Department stated, “”We look at this as a tragic accident; nothing more than that…”

Attorney Sim Osborne, hired by Harris’ family, characterized the incident in various other ways, calling it, “… a bone-crushing hit,” Osborn said, likening it to a linebacker’s hit on a football field. He called the deputy’s action “horribly brutal” at best and potentially a criminal assault. Osborne goes on to add there was conflicting testimony whether the police officers involved in the chase identified themselves, as they were both wearing black tactical uniforms under dark conditions.

Urquhart said investigators don’t know why Harris ran, but they noted that four witnesses, including the woman who misidentified Harris, said they heard the deputies repeatedly yell “stop, police” or “police officers.”

“Sometimes bad things happen to good people,” Urquhart said. “That’s what happened in this case.”

Harris, who grew up in Seattle and Olympia and attended the Seattle Art Institute, was married about a year ago, according to his stepfather. Harris worked as a server at Arnies Restaurant in Edmonds.

Although Sheriff’s Deputy Paul has been placed on administrative leave pending the investigation, he could be returned to active duty any time.

[Portions from Seattle Times]


Just how integrated are we?

Good morning, Netizens…

Despite the fact we now have our first Black American as President, and despite all the warm, fuzzy feelings that members of various factions in this country sought to engender in all of us during the election campaign and resulting inauguration, my question on this otherwise luminous Spring morning is, just how racially integrated are we? Have we slipped a cog and suddenly our nation no longer has any regard for race or color or, as some have observed, are the old barriers still there, simply more congenially being ignored now?

This morning we are going to take a long, thoughtful look at two entirely different areas of the country, each of which has faced and is still facing the racial divide between Black and White.

About this time of year, high-school seniors begin a rite of passage, shucking off their glad rags they have worn all through high school in favor of formal ball gowns and tuxedos for the Senior Prom. Decades ago, I regularly used to visit Montgomery County in South-Central Georgia as a racially-divided state. There were still those ugly signs visible in various places throughout the town, “No Negroes” and “Whites Only” despite the fact federally-mandated racial integration had taken place several decades ago. I feel certain those signs are gone now, but apparently not forgotten entirely.

In a New York Times article written by Niko Koppel, with an excellent photo essay by Gillian Laub, the 54 students in the Class of 2009 at Montgomery County High School, on May 1, the white students held their senior prom. And the following night the black students had theirs. Although the school in south-central Georgia was integrated in 1971, by longstanding tradition, the prom remains segregated.

According to the article, it is not because of racial enmity, a hardened racial prejudice such as haunts the hallways of our racial history together, no. The kids mix well together, and if it were up to the majority of them, they would have one prom. This is just what is left over from the parents and grandparents of a different time in the racial history. It is slated to change next year. One prom queen, one prom.

Now we switch our view to Oakland and Piedmont, California, two areas about as culturally-diverse areas of the Bay Area as two areas can be. I lived in Piedmont one year, many years ago. Back then it was as lily-white as white could be, with high-end housing by the mile, and nary a black face to be seen anywhere.

One of the most-strident, deeply-entrenched factions of the Bay Area is changing, as a formerly predominantly-white church, the Piedmont Community Church, and a black church, the Imani Community Church, have been holding joint worship services for the first time in their joint histories.

The Imani Community Church and Piedmont Community Church decided that they would come together as one people. They will worship together periodically. They’ve started to mix into each others’ Bible studies. Their choirs sing together. Their children have gone on a mission trip together to Tijuana. On Sunday, May 3 and May 17, they had ceremonies affirming their covenant with each other.

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life stated recently that mainline Protestant churches are 91 percent white, while historically black churches remain 92 percent black, according to extensive demographic surveys. It does seem that church people in all sorts of congregations regularly talk about being “brothers and sisters in Christ.” But few practice it with race in mind, and thus this mixing together of two separate churches from two racially-diverse population areas, is a change.

My opinion is thus: although the racial divide is still there, separating one race from another, the rift is healing slowly over time. From high school proms that have been separate but equal from one another in Georgia, to a predominantly-white church in Piedmont, California forming a bond with a predominantly-black Oakland Church, the separation between Black and White in modern America appears to be getting smaller, even in places far, far away from Spokane, Washington.

[portions quoted from The New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle]

Just how integrated are we in Spokane? Are we getting better?


Horsey’s take on Gaia…

Good morning, Netizens…

I love the way where occasionally David Horsey takes us down a side road, often with unpredictable results, and still makes his point. The Gaia Theory was first formulated in the 1960’s by a research scientist who was working for NASA named James Lovelock, who wrote a technical journal which became a book called, Gaia: A new look a life on earth. If you go to here: you can read a brisk overview of his theory, which may not bore you as much as you might think.

As if fate were guiding his feet, during morning walks Lovelock met and became involved with William Golding, who later rose to fame as the author of Lord of the Flies and many other award-winning writings.

Lovelock’s theory defined Gaia as, “a complex entity involving the Earth’s biosphere, atmosphere, oceans, and soil; the totality constituting a feedback or cybernetic system which seeks an optimal physical and chemical environment for life on this planet.” When you look at definition in all of its complexity, suddenly it becomes more robust but thus capable of technical scrutiny.

Even super-author Isaac Asimov has weighed in on theories about Gaia and Lovelock’s original premise. Horror writer James Herbert and incredible novelist David Brin ( both have given contributions to the discussion, pro or con, about the existence and relevance of Gaia. Like the fountainhead it sometimes can be, the science fiction genre is full to overflowing with various insights into how writers think Gaia applies to life on Earth and/or that earth has a life of its own.

David Horsey’s cartoon this morning suggests that he believes Gaia is a life force we know as the planet earth. We should all thank him for taking us down this road of concepts and ideas.

I wish I had more time to explore this controversial and utterly-fascinating set of theories and opinions, but perhaps one of you can expound further upon the theories thus far exposed, perhaps even rebut the theories that some of the world’s greatest authors have, thus far, submitted for consideration.


When the Dreams died…

Good evening, Netizens…

When the dreams died, a group of us stood just outside the city limits, watching the skies expectantly as if suddenly everything would be whole again, but in the steadfast silence, which was all that was left of it after the Change, we held little hope they would ever come again. It was as if everything that ever mattered to us all simply stopped dead in its tracks, as if to say, “I’m not moving another inch” very stiffly and set in its ways, quiet and ponderously waiting.

The old women, who used to come by the church yard down the road and trim the grass and plant new flowers on the graves suddenly stopped coming by, and as if on cue, the crabgrass and wild oats took over once again, and that month the flowers stopped blooming. When they buried old man Richley on the Southwest side of the cemetery several weeks after the Change, nobody thought to bring flowers to put on the grave, and thus he rests there, unnoticed, his grave site unmarked forever.

The young couple with a baby riding securely on the back of their bicycles simply stopped coming by and commenting on the evening breeze, “My, but your flowers sure look lovely,” or “Isn’t this a beautiful Spring night?” The tiny unassuming bungalow down the lane where they lived, where they brought their baby home for the first time, still sits empty with a big For Sale sign staked in the front yard, and nobody seems to know when or where they left town.

It was a remarkable Change; even the adolescents and teen-agers that once rode through the neighborhood with their hopped-up stereos rattling our windows in their casements seemed to fade away into nothingness one day. It was as if they somehow had sensed our displeasure at being forced to listen to rap music at 1000 watts amplification, and simply left town in search of a more receptive crowd that might appreciate their taste in music, but no one has heard them since the Dreams died.

When the Dreams died, I guess a part of us all died with them, leaving us to caw and bark at the moonlight dancing on the dew on the grass of an evening since nothing else was stirring. It was so bad there for awhile you couldn’t even find a politician down in the Town Square willing to discuss the latest tax levies or the need for new streets. Instead, they would furtively come to the door of City Hall, peer out at you with bewildered and somewhat frightened looks on their faces, and close the door in your face.

But no, one day, as if they had been away on a cruise to some fanciful place or had escaped to the countryside on a brief hiatus from reality, the Dreams came back home and forgave us our frumpish ways and hollowed-out appearances. Suddenly, with our Dreams once more home, all the joys and sadnesses of life, the little old ladies who make our lives so much better, and even the kids in their hot rod cars suddenly came back. A new couple with a three month old baby moved into the vacant house down the lane, and we fell in love with them as we did their predecessors.

The politicians, being political by nature, immediately took credit for the Dreams returning, and for a time until we resolutely set our feet in the dirt and said in one voice, “Oh no you don’t!” they were going to tax the Dreams to raise revenue.

But we never forgot the day the Dreams died, and with our tender and loving ministrations, they fortunately never will leave us again.


Loves and hates about Spokane…

Good evening Netizens…

From the depths of the rather long-winded discussion about the Ombudsman, I heard a recurring theme come wafting down the elevator shaft deep in the basement of Spokane where I often spend hours and hours hopefully peering upward toward the street grate overhead. This repeated vision, whether you encounter the depths of depravity or the heights of glorious achievement in Spokane, varies widely from where you sit. Before the Great Recession, there were only a few living in the damp basement, but with more and more people out of work on unemployment, more children going hungry and a community inability to recognize how poor we are, I suspect there are more now than ever before living below the streets.

So with full countenance of both the heights and depths of society in Spokane, and given the dramatic distance that separates the two, my question for one and all is, what do you like and dislike the most about Spokane?

My personal choices are:


We still have a place where, just before the dawn or just after sunset, you can sit alone, unmolested by the river’s edge and contemplate what matters most in life, and blithely watch the river in Spring flood dashing by. It can be a place of unequalled beauty and tranquility, a place to find solutions to your life and a place to find any particular God that works for you or, if you cannot find one, you can enjoy the search process.

Even in these bad times, if you are literate, a dedicated worker, willing to “ride for the brand” and willing to learn new ideas, you can find work in Spokane. I know too many that started with their dirty bare feet on the paving stones who now work for a living wage who were willing to try.

Spokane is, above all else, a city that has heart. Some say it is made out of tinfoil, plastic trash bags, pomegranate seeds and little else, but but I have seen folks who will give you the shirt off their backs to help you out if you truly are trying to better yourself.

We are a City of ancient trees, gaily flowering bushes, carefully-laid flower beds and gardens of incredible stature featuring every kind of vegetable known to man. Oh, and I forgot to mention the small stands of apple, pear and peach trees that seem to grow in every lot in town. I pity the soul who doesn’t have the urge to go dig in the soil once in awhile, for it is a noble calling indeed.

If we pause in our daily dash to wealth or glory, we might notice there are indigenous tribal cultures who preceded us in living along the river, and that their lives and civilizations had mores and values that were equal to or exceeded our own in some cases. It is quite often too easy to forget them, to ignore them in the passage of time, but this land is sacred to them.

It is far easier to complain than it is to accord credit where credit is due. Readers of Community Comment could start by saying a private “thank you” to the Spokesman for giving us this place to speak our peace and be heard, even if we have an ax to grind with the Cowles Family. This newspaper, both virtual and in print, deserves our support!

We need a health care system we can afford.


We have a long, tortured and illustrious string of former Mayors to which our citizens can point with obvious disdain. Given her inept handling of the snow overload last winter, the incredible bus bench fiasco to name just a few, it remains to be seen whether Queen Mary Verner will be re-elected during the next Mayoral campaign. Your results, of course, may differ.

We have a police department that is well-known throughout the region to have a past history of abhorrent policies and procedures at the highest levels of their organization. Sometimes the rank-and-file officers who trod the streets each day are not accorded the credit they so richly deserve, but on the other hand, it remains to be seen whether Chief Kirkpatrick is really going to change the past policies and procedures, to undo the past arrogance and epidemic mismanagement of our Police Department.

We have an incompetent, deeply-entrenched City Government, beginning with the various unions that represent their respective interests, not the interests of the City-at-large. Public works, Street Department, Water and Sewer… what a mess! Then we have the City Council President who seems to weekly increase his overwhelming unpopularity.

…And please Lord, if you are thinking kindly of me, no more snow storms like we had last winter. We lost most of our 401k and are just poor working elderly folk, so we cannot afford to leave for warmer climes just yet.


Nancy Pelosi spills the beans…

Goodness sake, Netizens…

Oh, don’t get me started on Nancy Pelosi.

Today David Horsey takes on Nancy Pelosi, and this time it is her on the table to be tortured into telling the truth, if you believe certain conservative Republicans. On the other hand, Democrats are jumping into the fray stating unquestionably that Pelosi was telling the truth when she said the CIA never informed her about torturing terrorist suspects.

Who can we believe?

Pelosi is a skilled and gifted politician, of that you can be sure. In fact, anyone who rises to her level in the current political warpath is automatically suspect, in my opinion. In fact, anyone from the Republican side of the aisle is just about, if not more suspect. Historians will doubtlessly have a few years to write their versions of what happened in America during the Bush Administration and since.

Somehow I have the same eerie feeling that someday someone will write a different view of history where Nancy Pelosi is concerned with regard to the Barack Obama legacy.

Personally I think she probably was told what the CIA was doing with torturing our enemies, but calmly and proficiently “forgot” what she heard. Tighten the screws a little tighter guys and maybe she’ll spill the beans yet. That is the same philosophy ostensibly used by the CIA.


The economy falls on its prat…

Good morning, Netizens…

David Horsey occasionally errs or otherwise make mistakes, and in today’s cartoon he understated the obvious.

Our national economy is not a truck wreck. It is a train wreck, one that has reached across not only our entire country, but has impacted other countries. The spin doctors, of course, will always attempt to put a positive side on it, but facts are facts. Our economy is crashed and burned.

There are some who are saying we should not be spending money as wildly as we currently are, and they may be right.


Ombudsman Candidates coming to town…

Good morning, Netizens…

Spokane Mayor Mary Verner yesterday announced the three candidates who will be considered for the position of Police Ombudsman. All three candidates will be in Spokane May 29 through June 1 to attend public forums, interviews and various other meetings.

The finalists include:

  • Anthony Betz, of College Station, Tex. Mr. Betz is a retired FBI agent who is currently working as an adjunct professor at Texas A&M University. According to the Spokesman-Review, in 1995, Betz was suspended with pay during an investigation into FBI’s handling of the 1992 siege at Ruby Ridge in North Idaho. Almost a year after he was suspended, he was reinstated and cleared of wrongdoing, according to news reports at the time. “I was cleared completely,” Betz said in a phone interview Monday.

  • Timothy Burns, of Visalia, Calif. Mr. Burns is a retired police officer who is now working as the Neighborhood Preservation Manager for the City of Visalia.

  • Greg Weber, of Spokane. Mr. Weber is an attorney in private practice and has previously served on the staff of the Washington State Attorney General. Last year he came in third in a three-way primary for a Spokane County Superior Court judgeship.

A series of three forums, designed to allow the public to provide their comments on the candidates, will be held as part of the selection process. The forums are set for:

  • Friday, May 29, at 5 p.m. in the Chase Gallery in the lower level of City Hall, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.

  • Saturday, May 30, at 10 a.m. at the West Central Community Center, 1603 N. Belt.

  • Saturday, May 30, at 2 p.m. at the East Central Community Center, 500 S. Stone.

In addition, a meet-and-greet session with the candidates has been set for 5 p.m. on Monday, June 1, also in the Chase Gallery just prior to the start of the City Council meeting. You might want to come early to guarantee yourself a good seat.

The City of Spokane began recruitment for the ombudsman position earlier this year; 128 people applied for the position. A five-member committee oversaw the candidate review process and recommended the three top candidates for the position to the Mayor.

The selected candidate will be appointed as ombudsman for a three-year term and can be reappointed to a second three-year term. The salary range for the position is $77,130 to $94,628.


Parts is Parts

It’s that time of year again – the bi-annual, trek through the quagmire of endless seas of car parts event in Monroe, Washington.  You remember that my Mechanic Man gave ME a cart that I drag along with me, through miles and miles and MILES of greasy car parts with the idea that parts will jump into the cart and when it’s full, *I* will trek it back through the miles I have already walked, back to the car which is parked at the furthest end of the parking lot because so many people decided to attend because of the truly perfect weather.  There were many carts – mostly pulled by women.  There were many, many men, all looking quite alike with their same-colored shirts, browsing with the same focused look – staring at piles and jumbles of indistinguishable tangles of parts. But these guys can tell, like Superman with x-ray vision, they can look into a mountain of black, messy, gooey, greasy pieces of parts and determine in one nano second that THAT is a little tiny piece for my [fill in the blank year] [fill in the blank model] [fill in the blank car].  In other words, Mechanic Man spied the right lens for a 32 Model-T Ford, sitting in one of his garages, just waiting for this particular prized part (plus about 1,000 other missing or rusted-out or damaged parts).  One small step for mankind; one giant leap towards a cherried out whatever-mo-beele to bring to a show-and-shine car show and bask in all its glory.  This can take many hours of work, and I expect it to be ready for a car show sometime in 2025.  I’ll be very, very old then.

Tell me about your favorite car (part).


Roman or Christian?

Good morning, Netizens…

In his prologue to his column, which typically accompanies his cartoons, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s David Horsey states in part that “Our descent into torture as policy has compromised our founding vision. We, today, have become too Roman.”

He then cites a poll taken by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life that states that 62% of Evangelical Protestants believe torture of suspected terrorists is justified. ( The poll question wording, according to the Pew Forum web site, is, “Do you think the use of torture against suspected terrorists in order to gain important information can often be justified, sometimes be justified, rarely be justified, or never be justified?”

The results of this poll are illuminating, especially when you pay attention to those unaffiliated with any organized religion. It would seem, according to Horsey, that there are more Christians in the United States who place more of their faith in Dick Cheney than Jesus Christ.

Like David Horsey, I do not believe that not only is torture illegal, it does not work. That, of course, will beg the question, whether or not it works, is it right? I fear this question will be visited over and over again for generations yet to come. However, a surprising number of Americans seem perfectly content with agents of the United States government carrying on like Roman soldiers at a crucifixion.

Yes, despite their magnificent culture and history, the Romans were known for torturing and crucifying those who disagreed with their principles, including Christians.

Where do you stand on the use of torture? Are you Roman or are you Christian?


I love a parade!

Good morning, Netizens…

Looking over the news this morning, I could not help but become aware of two females who, in their own respective ways, somehow managed to grab the golden spot atop the news wires since Friday.

The first, a horse named Rachel Alexandra rode into history by becoming the first filly in 85 years to win the Preakness. People, at least those associated with horse racing, will talk about this victory for decades to come, mostly because this big rangy mare set a blistering pace in the race, handily beating out male competition at the finish line.

However, the story that perhaps eclipsed that of Rachel Alexandra winning the Preakness took place in downtown Spokane where a pretty duck sat on eggs for the second year in succession in a concrete awning at the Sterling Savings Bank, eagerly watched from inside by banker Joel Armstrong and Crystal Tobeck and a cast of thousands of others via the Internet. A local television news station took it upon themselves to assign a name to this poor mallard, but to me, she will always be Mama Duck.

Mama Duck chose her nesting spot well, for it is sunny, relatively free of predators, and as we have seen, within easy walking distance to the Spokane River. The rub has always been safely getting the tiny ducklings from their nesting spot ten feet above the sidewalk to the water, and last year Armstrong gathered the fledgling ducks together in a box and helped Mama Duck convey them to the river’s edge.

This year, however, not to be outdone by the Lilac Parade, and despite efforts to replicate last year’s duckling rescue, after a trial-and-error assist from members of Sterling Bank, Mama Duck took charge and marched her brood through bank employees, members of the news media and curious bystanders to the river in their own version of a Grand Duck parade.

This picture, shot by Jesse Tinsley of the Spokesman-Review, captures the moment when, aided and abetted by Joel Armstrong and Crystal Tobeck, Mama Duck proudly marched through the crowds assembled for the Lilac Parade to the river as proudly as if she owned the sidewalk.

One cannot help but wonder at the miracles involved: that Momma Duck unerringly remembered the safe place she found last year to hatch her eggs, and despite the humans that occasionally got in the way, she remembered the way to the river and in so doing, touched a thousand lives with her story.


The Saviors of the Health Care Swamp…

Good morning, Netizens…

Can we agree to terms that health care, such as most of us know it to be these days, is a swamp? It is infested with all manner of dangerous creatures, and one can lose their life trying to save their life. People no longer die of ailments; they die because of a lack of health insurance, a malady that continues to increase misery and anguish, and the only outward signs is that in the swamp of health care, there are large crocodiles waiting for the unwary.

David Horsey, however, captured the essence of the meeting of the Health Care Tzars the other day, and stated they were going to solve our health care crisis. You’ll pardon me for saying it, but yeah sure. You did notice the crocodile on the left has his fingers crossed, didn’t you?

Of these four slithering beasts who crawl on their tummies, I submit the insurance companies have done more to eliminate providing health care to those who cannot afford it than the others combined. If you are healthy, and relatively well-to-do, health insurance is both affordable and, given a stable health history, quite accessible. However, having said that, the minute you file a claim for a long-term illness, your medical insurance goes through the sky, past the point where you can afford it.

The unanswered question is how naïve is President Obama? Does he really think that the four crocodiles of Insurance, Pharmaceutical Companies, HMO’s and for-profit Hospitals are going to actually drain the swamp we call health care? Or are they simply going to perpetuate the status quo, guaranteeing themselves a fat future while people continue to suffer?

Normally the folks that run the health care system here in Spokane prefer to remain nameless and faceless. At least now we have names for both them, the Pharmaceutical Companies and the HMO’s. They are called the Four Crocodiles of the Apocalypse and they are going to drain the swamp we call the health care system.

Are you impressed? I’m not.


The Grapes of Wrath Revisited?

Good morning, Netizens…

Having been an avid fan of John Steinbeck’s writing for decades, when I first glanced at this picture this morning, my mind warped back to Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath and the Joad family fleeing the Dust Bowl for the promise(s) of a better life in California.

Granted, the truck is a little newer than the 1920’s model from the award-winning movie that featured Henry Fonda, but sure enough, there is Granny sitting on the back of the truck as they weave their way across the sand-blasted sered desert looking for shelter. If you close your eyes and screw your face up a bit, you can easily imagine the dangers that the Joads faced in the eyes of Steinbeck being reincarnated in Pakistan today. The only difference between then and now is the camp guards now have automatic weapons and mine fields surround the work camps.

Still, there is that indomitable will to find a safe place to call home, where food is plentiful and the next generation of children can safely grow up carrying their family’s history in their hearts. Somehow I wish Steinbeck were alive today, for I know in my heart of hearts he would see the sadness, the pageantry and the strange beauty of the desert and these families seeking a place to live, again and again.

Like the Grapes of Wrath, as the story unfolds in Pakistan, it, too, would become an award-winning novel and perhaps then with learning would come compassion for these people.


Engage brain before opening mouth…

Good morning, Netizens…

One of my favorite slogans, particularly if the day isn’t getting itself properly attired and ready for another prosperous business day is, “It’s another wonderful day in Paradise”, typically spoken with a leer on my face, a mild-mannered form of non-verbal punctuation to the sentence being spoken. It seems that a person had a wonderful day in Paradise yesterday when he threatened to blow up City Hall when asked to sign himself in as a Guest.

Thomas D. McMillan ended up being arrested, charged with one count of threatening to bomb or injure property, a class B felony that prohibits threats against public buildings for his threat.

Here comes my question: can you think of any circumstances, any justification at all under for making threats to blow up City Hall?

Remember, we ostensibly have a representative government, in which we as citizens gleefully elect at predictably sometimes-macabre occasions, and anyone can run for public office in Spokane if they wish. So long as Council President Joe Shogan does not rap his imperial gavel, anyone can remonstrate, disagree or express an opinion to the City Council during the public input component of the City Council meetings. Of course you can always write letters, because so few of the Council members seem to answer e-mail, based upon my experiences. I submit there are lots of alternatives one should consider before resorting to making threats to blow up City Hall, and I am curious whether anyone can come up with some good rationale for McMillan’s behavior.

Or was he just having another wonderful Day in Paradise that somehow got away from him in that he should have engaged his brain before opening his mouth? 


The new cars require a diet…

Good morning, Netizens…

There are some David Horsey cartoons that hit far too close to home for personal comfort and this is one of them. While it is true, I have been on a strict weight-loss diet for some time, I recently looked at one of the new super economy cars and found, due to strenuous optimism on my part, I could actually squeeze myself behind the driver’s wheel pretty well, although there were certain space issues still to be met.

Due to the fact I took up most of both front seats, it meant the Queen of the Prom would probably have to sit in the narrow-gauge back seat, and God forbid, if we used the thing to go to Costco for the month, we would need a trailer to haul the groceries home.

The closer I looked, the worse things became.

For example, if we wanted to take a trip to the country with our granddaughters firmly in tow, given that my Saintly spouse would take up most of the back seat while I used both front seats, it meant our granddaughters were either stuck with their heads popping out of the postage-stamp sized trunk, or on good weather days, simply strap them atop the roof as we hurtle down the road.

God forbid we should ever think of visiting yard sales on a Spring Saturday morning!

No, I think we’ll keep our blunderbuss vans that, despite their inefficiency, can carry our entire domicile, including resident pets and grandchildren, wherever we might want to go. Of course, your results might differ.


Beauty is as beauty does…

Good morning, Netizens…

On an otherwise inauspicious day in the Month of May, here we have our picture of the day, Miss California Carrie Prejean featured with The Donald, AKA Donald Trump who, after all, owns the Miss Universe Contest. This picture was taken at the news conference where The Donald announced that Prejean would retain her title as Miss California despite a number of slight irregularities that had taken place.

Aside from the near-nude photographs taken when she was a younger woman, to a series of openly-hostile statements made about gay marriage, there were allegations that Prejean was unfit to serve in her role as Miss Universe, should she win the competition.

I never watch the Miss Universe Competition, since in my humble opinion, given Miss Prejean’s artificially-whitened teeth, beast implants (performed just before the competition) and artificially enhanced hair, I see no reason to change my beliefs on beauty contests and their contestants.

It only begins there. All the Gods and Goddesses we worship daily on our television sets are for the most part, in most cases, just as false and do not have a shred of the original grace they were born with. We uplift the clinically beautiful over the humdrum and plain in nearly every aspect of our lives and ignore whether they have been “retouched” by modern technology. God forbid anyone should suffer from physical infirmities or become “old”. Young and beautiful win the prizes.


The real Dick Cheney revealed?

Good morning, Netizens…

When I crawled forth from my burrow hidden in the back garden of the Virtual Ballroom this morning before the sun rose, the worst mental image I encountered in my preliminary ramblings, was F. Scott Fitzgerald’s infamous recipe for a turkey cockail which goes something like: to one large turkey add one gallon of vermouth and a demijohn of Angostura bitters. Shake.

Usually the first fortune that jumps up at me each morning more or less seems to set the taste of things yet to come, and perhaps that is as Nature provides for my continuing education. No sooner than I had recovered from that visual image of a turkey served on ice than this morning’s David Horsey cartoon absolutely left me gasping for air.

You’ll have to pardon me if the picture of Dick Cheney donned in leathers extolling the virtues of torture leaves me laying on the floor laughing my ass off.

If I am not careful the combined influences of Sarah Palin (who is writing a book while plotting her political re-electionI am told) and Rush Limbaugh who sometimes sounds as if his Thesaurus is broken in pieces on the radio room floor, these two starlets of the ultra-conservative right someday will take me to task for laughing at the Great God Cheney, the perfect mind of the George W. Bush foreign policy gaffe machine.

However, in the back room of some Machiavellian conservative political bar room in the future I envision Cheney just as he appears this morning in Horsey’s cartoon, while in the corner Condi Rice plays Ragtime on a spinet piano with most of the ivory keys missing. Who is to say that might not be the perfect relationship of the political future?


Where do you stand on socialized health care?

Good afternoon, Netizens…

David Horsey’s cartoon of this morning directly addresses the rising issue of socialized health care in this country, and originally I was going to try to speak to the pros and cons of socialized medicine. The deeper I looked into it, the worse the vision got. We in the United States are purportedly one of the most wealthy countries in the entire world, and yet we fall consistently behind when it comes to delivering affordable health care to middle and lower-income families. There are lots of reasons this is true, but perhaps the biggest of them all are lobbyists who have the powerful persuasion to steer our elected congressional members the direction they want them to go.

The single objection I envision when comparing the United States health care system to Germany, let’s say, is that most new breaking-edge medications, treatments and disciplines originate here in the United States, and nowhere else. We are the pill-packing, machine making autocratic physician to the world. Otherwise, why do the foreign countries of the world continue sending their children to the hospitals and specialists in the United States? That’s because they lack most of the innovation that we traditionally have had here in this country.

On the other hand, there are too many tales, including a few right here in Spokane, where indigent health care patients have lost their homes to the massive collection agencies that lurk behind the scenes at our hospitals and clinics. You don’t have any money and you are dying? Sure, come right on in and we’ll fix you right up. If you’ve got any assets that our people can find, we’ll make them our assets in exchange for treating you. That’s the way the system, at present, works, and it is wrong.

Besides, who are the pinhead administrators who organize and legitimize million dollar advertising campaigns for hospitals? Take the money the administrators would save and invest it in free/low-cost clinics for the indigent and low-income families.

I cannot help but wonder. Would socialized health care guarantee everyone, regardless of their income, quality medical care? If so, I’m for it. I’m a statistic: too sick for low-cost insurance and too broke to buy it. 


Quote of the Day — May 11, 2009

We Americans live in a nation where the medical-care system is second to none in the world, unless you count maybe 25 or 30 little scuzzball countries like Scotland that we could vaporize in seconds if we felt like it.

        Dave Barry (1947 - )

The last SLA member walks free…

Good evening, Netizens…

There are some things in my memory which, despite the passage of time, simply refuse to go away. I lived among some of the most-radical leftists of my generation in the 60’s and 70’s, and observed some of their most-outrageous behaviors. The riots of Berkeley, which caused the University to shut down after the National Guard tear-gassed several classrooms, mistaking real students for radicals, although it should be stated emphatically, there were times when hardly anyone could tell the difference between the one and the other. One of the favorite aphorisms of that time was “How do you tell the students at Berkeley from the radicals? Answer: Students show up to take their midterm tests.

Perhaps the worst of the lot who practiced their revolutionary zeal with what appeared to be utter disregard for human life were the members of the Symbionese Liberation Army, often referred to as the SLA. Headed by Donald DeFreeze, a.k.a. “Field Marshal Cinque, most of the band of zealots eventually were all either killed in one of the biggest shootouts recorded in Los Angeles law enforcement history or escaped to various foreign countries under assumed names.

Enter James Williams Killgore, age 61, who today was released from prison and is destined for Illinois where his wife is a professor at the University of Illinois in Champaign, Illinois in the gender and women’s studies department. He was the last member of the SLA to be captured, and also the last inmate to be released from prison. You watch: he’ll probably write a book about his life on the run and make a bundle of money doing it.

This merry gang of mostly white, privileged would-be revolutionaries led by a black ex-convict (Cinque) also were responsible for the kidnapping of Patricia Hearst, the murder of Oakland school superintendent Marcus Foster, various bank robberies, and the attempted bombings of Los Angeles police cars. Another SLA member, Joseph Remiro, is serving a life sentence for Foster’s 1973 murder.

Most people assume you cannot get away with murder, but if my memory has not failed me entirely, I believe James Killgore just did. I do recall tears streaming down certain faces on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley after the Los Angeles shootout when so many of the SLA died, and if I have a memory of those days, it is that I am thankful it is over now. If I thought the 60’s were a strange time, the sheer outrage of the 70’s made them only seem insignificant by comparison.


Happy Mothers Day!

Good morning, Netizens…

There is hardly anyone who recognizes the name Anna Marie Jarvis, who was borne in West Chester, Pennsylvania, which seems a bit of an anomaly since she was the originator of Mothers Day, and yet within her lifetime, having created a day to commemorate all mothers in 1914, also became the person who sought to undo her actions.

By the 1920s, Anna Jarvis had become so soured on the commercialization of Mothers Day, he incorporated herself as the Mothers Day International Association, trademarking the phrases “second Sunday in May” and “Mother’s Day”. She and her sister Ellsinore spent their family inheritance campaigning against the holiday. They both became embittered because too many people sent their mothers a printed greeting card. As she said, “A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world. And candy! You take a box to Mother—and then eat most of it yourself. A petty sentiment!”

Amen to that!

Anna Jarvis notwithstanding, Mother’s Day continues to this day to be one of the most commercially-successful U.S. occasions of the entire year. According to the National Restaurant Association, Mother’s Day is now the most popular day of the year to dine out at a restaurant in the United States, ostensibly with your mother. Mothers Day is also one of the peak saturation times according to Qwest Communications, when everyone calls their moms. Dare I mention you might even e-mail her your best wishes? Like this would help the economic recovery, and show your love for Mom?

Hell, how many Americans choose to spend time with their Mothers on Mothers Day, to celebrate the wonderful things she gave to them, and how many instead opt to go buy something, rather than dedicate some personal time to dear old mom?

I cannot complain too loudly here, for my mother and I hardly had what you might call a poster-child relationship due to issues of child abuse which, in retrospect, Mother had little power to change. I suppose if she were alive today, and given the distance between here and there, I would call her, attempting in my own way to heal the rifts of the past. I might even write her a letter, hoping I could find closure for those horrid events, but what is done is done.

However, that being said, if your mother is alive and well today, did you call her? Did you offer to take her someplace special and treat her with the honor, love and tender care she so richly deserves? If you are one of the aforementioned mothers, please accept my humble congratulations on Mothers Day. If it were not for mothers, we wouldn’t all be here, now would we?


Jay Olsen’s case closed?

Good morning, Netizens…

Yesterday, in Spokesman reporter Thomas Clouse’s story about Chief Ann Kirkpatrick’s decision not to file additional charges against former policeman Jay Olsen, which is here: I was continually struck by the same odd other-worldly sensations that I felt during Olsen’s trial. To be emphatic about it, I do not know what actually took place that fateful night overlooking Peaceful Valley. I do not have a credible piece of factual evidence, whether admissible in court or not, that Shonto Pete was actually trying to steal Olsen’s truck and that will bother me for the rest of my days. All I have to go on are my suspicions, not based upon fact, and thus no better nor worse than anyone else’s opinions of the matter.

Short of that conclusive proof, I do understand that Chief Kirkpatrick more or less did what I would have done in her place, right up to the point she fired Olsen because he lied to the Infernal Affairs officers of the SPD. Her decision not to file additional charges against Olsen also smack of that same level-headed administrative acumen that she has exhibited since she first took office, but I also feel that is a personal decision she will have to live with, and perhaps not nearly as comfortably as it might seem.

I’ve heard lots of comments about how much money Olsen got from his back pay, some thirty-some thousand dollars, but I also remember Olsen is paying the bill for his own legal representation. Since neither he nor his attorney are publicly discussing his legal costs, I have to take it on my limited experience with trial lawyers that perhaps as much as half to three-quarters of that money has already been spent on legal costs and perhaps the rest might barely cover his personal expenses. In short. I believe Olsen is probably financially on the ropes after this tawdry affair. However, that isn’t news, that’s just conjecture.

At least for the moment, barring any appeals, Olsen’s legal issues seem to be at an end and thus the case is closed on this ugly piece of police work in Spokane. My opinions, of course, are that rather than Justice being served, Lady Justice somehow found herself lost in the dark of Peaceful Valley.

Is Jay Olsen’s case closed for you?


Dougbench the movie…

Good afternoon, Netizens…

Seeing how everyone perked up with the news picture of the Dougbench, and with all awareness of the danger in which I am placing myself, my cats, my business interests and my collection of Doug Clark songs, I hasten to add a link to the Dougbench movie, which I was told about this afternoon.

To see it, in all its unexpurgated glory, go to and prepare yourselves for a good time.


The Doug Bench is open for business…

Good evening, Netizens…

In this fine picture of the Spokesman-Review’s Doug Clark Bus Bench celebration, Doug, Council Persons Bob Apple and Nancy McGlaughlin are laughing it up as the “Doug Bench” is officially opened for business on Washington Street in Downtown Spokane over the noon hour today.

To bring everyone current, Doug Clark stated in his May 5 newspaper column he was getting his own ad to protest the efforts of Spokane Mayor Mary Verner who believes that such bus bench advertising violates the city’s sign rules. Although Doug Clark stated he believed the bus bench rules were a “crock pot of steaming cow doots”, I am not entirely certain whether our beloved Mayor Verner has ever seen a crock pot of cow doots before, unless they came properly packaged with a City Ordinance. I sometimes wonder if there isn’t a close resemblance there, but I could be wrong.

According to my sources, Mayor Mary Verner didn’t show up for this event, although I gather a lot of other luminaries and poseurs were present to join the party and good-naturedly cheer Doug Clark onward into his career as bus bench builder.


The small investors an endangered species…

Good evening, Netizens…

Two days in succession David Horsey took his freshly-sharpened pencil to the sharks that run Wall Street, and in both instances, he hit his target dead-on. Of course, this might not be as popular an opinion with certain die-hard Republican mouthpieces, because they are, in my opinion, increasingly desperate to blame the current economic woes on Obama. Besides, do they really care about the small investor? I haven’t seen any proof of that in decades.

Can we even define the small investors? I submit these Americans are not really a metaphor, but simply an endangered species left to their own devices for how to bail out the super-wealthy. All I have to consider is the ungodly amount of money some of these bankers were making when the system, which they helped create and sustain, suddenly began shredding itself. All I have to do is consider the number of high-ranking CEO’s and other corporate sharks swimming in the financial water still looking for free hand-outs.

It seems so funny that David Horsey took on our economy two days in succession and each time he takes the same dismal view that many average income-earners have had for a long time.


Watch your step, folks…

Good evening, Netizens…

I do believe David Horsey is onto something. If anyone believes Warren Buffet’s statement for a minute, that our national economy is out of the quicksand, all you have to do is drive by the local GMC dealer and peer closely into the general manager’s eyes. Failing that, try the Chrysler dealer. Now the banks are already muttering in their incomprehensible way that they need more taxpayer’s dollars.

What do we do if we do not have more money to give?

Oh, that’s right. The federal government can print more money, which we are reassured, solves the problem right away. Only a few foolhardy Americans still believe that, after watching their life savings peter away into so much fairy dust. We’re spending our grandchildren’s inheritances, perhaps even our great-grandchildren. And before the sabre rattling gets started, we cannot blame all this chaos on President Obama, because the root of this mayhem started long before he took office.

Watch where you step. There are alligators anywhere you look in the financial markets.


The Joker in the deck?

Good morning, Netizens…

In this morning’s adept cartoon by David Horsey, we see Al Franken portrayed as the Joker in the Democratic Party’s deck of cards which might be the case, at least if you are listening to Rush Limbaugh pontificate about it. What does seem interesting to me as an observer is how the appeals processes continue without a break, thus keeping Franken from assuming office. Who is paying for all these legal expenses to keep Franken at bay? Could it be possible that members of his own political party have kept the court appeals alive every time it looks even remotely as if Franken will be sworn into office? I doubt it.

I know very little about Franken, but upon a bit of research I discovered he graduated from Harvard cum laude and once served as a Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government’s press and public policy center. Suddenly I can afford to take Franken, known for his savage sense of humor, a bit more seriously than before.

However, the danger, hanging there in midair like an eagle about to pounce on dinner, is the chance that, if put into office, Franken represents the vote needed to prevent a Republican filibuster, which might be coming soon, given the pending vacancy on the Supreme Court. Not to mention all the other changes President Obama would like to make.

When viewed as such, yes, Franken could be the Joker in the card deck.


Obamas walking hand-in-hand…

Good evening Netizens…

You have to admit it is difficult getting away from the office when you are the President of the United States, but on a romantic Spring evening, the Obamas seem to have accomplished that task, as they went for a walk hand-in-hand across the White House lawn, leaving the reporters and the Secret Service in the dust.

They had just returned from an evening dinner, which was a bit more chaotic than what most casual diners would face, complete with police tape, demonstrators and people crowding into one another wanting to see the First Family up close and personal.

However, once back at the White House, they began strolling almost as soon as they had returned.

I cannot recall ever seeing a President and his wife walking hand-in-hand before, but perhaps that was just I wasn’t watching. Somehow I could never envision either Bush family as being particularly romantic, but I can certainly imagine romance in the White House now.

Is it just me or has romance in the White House taken a turn for the better?


Caught the common cold…

Good morning, Netizens…

Well, I think I’ve got it, that being the flu, not the porcine variety; just the plain old Spring cold that comes around every year about this time and glares at me from the bottom of my lungs. I awoke yesterday at my appointed time with a cough, a little bit of the infamous post-nasal drip and a general feeling I needed to go back to bed before I’d even gotten out of the rack. About an hour later, I did just that – went back to bed with an over-the-counter decongestant coursing its way through my bloodstream.

What I have constantly been asking since then is, how can I tell whether this is the Big Ugly, Swine Flu Virus, or just the plain old Spring Cold that we all know and love? With the Swine Flu panic still continuing to crest, there are a lot of similarities between a Spring Cold and Swine Flu, so many perhaps that you probably couldn’t tell the pair apart, short of a CDC test. Hacking cough? Yes. Runny nose? No. (It’s all going down the back of my throat) General aches and pains? Yes. Fever? No. Lethargy? Yes, but that seems to have gone away today. After all, I’m sitting in my bathrobe in the Great Chair where I belong, right? Lack of appetite? No, I am still eating like a horse, and probably will until the day I die. Some people with swine flu also have reported sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. No, I don’t have any of those. YET.

Just so we know it, when do I hit the Big Red Button on my forehead and go see the doctor for a Swine Flu test? What the Center for Disease Control doesn’t ever mention in any of their advisories is, barring any medical insurance, it could cost you somewhere between $45 and $100 for an office visit, even more if you factor in the cost of lab work to see if you have the bug. Years ago, when you spent that kind of money, you got a sweetly smile, a firm handshake and cordial thank you for your trouble. Today you do not get anything. Just a glazed look that seems to suggest you are just another rube on the ferris wheel of life and a hearty pat on the back for good luck.

That is, God forbid, unless the tests come back positive, that you have the Swine Flu. Then you enter the zone of what I call Perpetual Statistics. In addition to your clinician and your lab all peering at you, probing you with bizarre instruments and wearing face masks, you have medical care on steroids, and I give you the perfect bureaucratic medical solution, the CDC.

However, I do not think I’m there yet. I’ve caught a cold from my granddaughter who is saintly enough to make you weep, but brought something home from school last week. She opened the door and influenza.


Swine flu hysteria…

Good afternoon, Netizens…

This time of year, Cancun, Mexico is typically bustling with touristas. Compare that mental image to this picture shot yesterday.

Is this hysteria we see unfolding before the National News Media? What about the people in Mexico who have died of Swine Flu Virus? Are more people here in the United States going to die of Swine Flu? There are a lot more questions and even a tinge of hysteria in the News Media about Swine Flu that perhaps do not apply to health care in the United States.

Adela María Gutiérrez fell ill in the beginning of April with what she thought was a bad cold. She tried aspirin, antibiotics, bed rest and moist towels, but nothing brought down her soaring fever, reduced her aches and pains, or boosted her energy level.

It would be more than a week before Mrs. Gutiérrez, a mother of daughters ages 10, 17 and 20, went to Oaxaca’s General Hospital, where she arrived listless and barely able to breathe, her extremities blue from a lack of oxygen. Thus, because she waited to get medical assistance, she became the first victim of Swine Flu (H1N1) to die. The mindset in Mexico seems to be, according to various medical sources, that you wait until you have tried everything else before you go see the doctor. That, rather than hysteria, may be why people are dying of the latest variant of Type A flu.

Furthermore, Mexico’s public health budget is approximately 3% of their gross domestic product — within the range of spending by other major Latin American economies, but well below the rate in developed countries such as the United States. Mexico has only about half as many hospital beds per capita than the United States. Hospital overcrowding in Mexico is common everywhere you look and sometimes medical help is hard to get.

In an acknowledgment that Mexicans frequently act as their own doctors, the government’s announcements, played repeatedly on the radio, advise people not to self-medicate and instead to seek out medical attention.

There is a lot of confusion about H1N1 flu virus, but several facts stand out rather clear: disease forecasting — like weather forecasting — is more of a guide to what might happen rather than a certain prediction of what will happen. Of course we remember how people ignored the hurricane warnings that preceded Katrina, don’t we?

Heed the warnings, but be shy about accepting hysteria. (Portions New York Times)


The Obama Magic Show…

Good morning, Netizens…

In this morning’s David Horsey cartoon we have the famous Obama Magic Show, featuring adulations by the Democrats and starring Humpty Dumpty as The Republican Party. The real question remains to be seen whether the Republican Party will be able to put itself back together again, isn’t it?

Now the real magic act which desperately needs to take place to save the show is when Obama gets the national budget back into some semblance of order, isn’t it? It might happen; if it does, poor Humpty Dumpty will have to put himself back together again, but this time sans Rush Limbaugh and perhaps a more moderate Republican Party.

If not, brace yourselves for another go-round of the Right Wing Republican majority. That, too, could happen.

The next 100 days may be the telling point.

Do you think Obama will continue to pull rabbits out of his hat?


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