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Community Comment

Archive for October 2010

To Protect and To Serve

Can the Spokane Police Department improve its image with billboard ads?

I passed one today while traveling west on Trent. Two officers are pictured along with the following statement: “It’s Our Community. We Stand Ready to Protect and Serve.” How I hope that statement is true.

Personally, I believe that the majority of the men and women who are employed as police officers for the City of Spokane are sincerely holding that as their mission statement.

This all started with the City asking for budget cuts across most city departments, including the Spokane Police Department. The Spokane Police Guild purchased 12 billboards across the city, the one I saw being in the County along Trent Avenue. There are two phrases - the one I noted above - and a second sign reading “Property Crime Is Up. Police Investigations Down.”

I do NOT want to open a can of worms here. I’m not asking for readers to bash police or bring up Otto Zehm or other incidents that we’ve been beating into the ground. But I do want to talk about what the first billboard states and that is, “It’s our Community. We Stand Ready to Protect and Serve.”

That statement is what I strongly believe in. This is our community. Our community embraces humanity, culture, religion, independence, growth, compassion, love, life. We expect to enjoy all of this with the protection and servitude of all the employees of the Spokane Police Department.

It is my confident hope that the good in the people behind a badge will bring the ideals and dreams of that statement to a positive realization for our community.


Happy Halloween?

Good morning, Netizens…

Egods! Cartoonist David Horsey has struck paydirt on the theme of Halloween. Could it be possible that Dino Rossi is the opponent or, by comparison, could that be Pork Barrel Patty? It’s hard to tell this Halloween. They each are taking their shots at one another, so much so that it is difficult to tell one side from the other.

This cartoon does remind me of the George Bush versus Al Gore Presidential election.

What is missing here are the Tea Party members, clanging their gongs and bellowing their imprecations about the Democrats.

I can hardly wait until the election is over.


Irreverent view of terrorist threat levels…

Good morning, Netizens…

Now, from Marty Hibbs and his friends, we have an irreverent view of terrorist threat levels.

At this time of heightened security in Europe it’s important to review how our allies handle terrorist threats.

The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent terrorist threats, and have therefore raised their security level from “Miffed” to “Peeved”. Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to “Irritated” or even “A Bit Cross”. The English have not been “A Bit Cross” since the blitz in 1940, when tea supplies nearly ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from “Tiresome” to “A Bloody Nuisance”. The last time the British issued a “Bloody Nuisance” warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.

The Scots have raised their threat level from “Pissed Off” to “Let’s get the Bastards”. They don’t have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years.

The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from “Run” to “Hide”. The only two higher levels in France are “Collaborate” and “Surrender”. The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France’s white flag factory, effectively paralyzing

the country’s military capability.

Italy has increased the alert level from “Shout Loudly and Excitedly” to “Elaborate Military Posturing”. Two more levels remain: “Ineffective Combat Operations” and “Change Sides”.

The Germans have increased their alert state from “Disdainful Arrogance” to “Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs”. They also have two higher levels: “Invade a Neighbor” and “Lose”.

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual; the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels.

The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

Americans meanwhile, and as usual, are carrying out pre-emptive strikes on all of their allies “just in case”.

Canada doesn’t have any alert levels.

New Zealand has raised its security levels - from “baaa” to “BAAAA”. Due to continuing defense cutbacks, New Zealand has only one more level of escalation, which is “I hope Australia will come and rescue us”.

Australia, meanwhile, has raised its security level from “No worries” to “She’ll be alright, mate”. Three more escalation levels remain: “Crikey!”, “I think we’ll need to cancel the barbie this weekend” and “The barbie is cancelled”. So far no situation has ever warranted use of the final escalation level.


Forecasting the weather in E. Washington…

Good morning Netizens…

It’s late fall and the Yukapatooie Indians on their small reservation in Stevens County, Washington asked their new chief if the coming winter was going to be cold or mild.

Since he was a chief in a modern society, he had never been taught the ancient secrets. When he looked at the sky, he couldn’t tell what the winter was going to be like.

Nevertheless, to be on the safe side, he told his tribe that the winter was indeed going to be cold and that the members of the village should collect firewood to be prepared..

But, being a practical leader, after several days, he got an idea He went to the phone booth, called the National Weather Service in Spokane and asked, ‘Is the coming winter going to be cold?’

‘It looks like this winter is going to be quite cold,’ the meteorologist at the weather service responded.

So the chief went back to his people and told them to collect even more firewood in order to be prepared.

A week later, he called the National Weather Service again. ‘Does it still look like it is going to be a very cold winter?’

‘Yes,’ the man at National Weather Service again replied, ‘it’s going to be a very cold winter.’

The chief again went back to his people and ordered them to collect every scrap of firewood they could find.

Two weeks later, the chief called the National Weather Service again. ‘Are you absolutely sure that the winter is going to be very cold?’

‘Absolutely,’ the man replied. ‘It’s looking more and more like it is going to be one of the coldest winters we’ve ever seen.’

‘How can you be so sure?’ the chief asked.

The weatherman replied, ‘The Yukapatooie Indians are collecting firewood like crazy.’

(Adapted from a story told to me by Lela Taylor of Springdale.)


Two more versions of Avatar to be released…,

Good morning, Netizens…

If you liked James Cameron’s first film, “Avatar” you may want to see the sequels to that film. Canadian filmmaker James Cameron, pictured on October 16, will write and direct the second and third parts of the sci-fi movie “Avatar” for release in 2014 and 2015, the entertainment magazine Variety said Wednesday. Photo: (AFP/Getty Images/File/Frederick M. Brown)


Gaffes in the media….

Good morning, Netizens…

In this Oct. 19, 2010, file photo California Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina talks about her own life struggles in an attempt to reach out to women while speaking before a group of businesswomen and women small business owners in Sacramento, Calif. Memo to novice political candidates: Know thy Constitution. Don’t tell Hispanics they look Asian. Pay special attention to what you say when you are in front of cameras. Fiorina regretted ‘the whole situation’ when a live mike caught her calling opponent Barbara Boxer’s hairdo ‘so yesterday.’

Of course, Boxer’s hairdo may be yesterday’s style.

Things are moving onward in the hotly-contested race.


Mortgage Down the Drain?

This is a switch in topics for Community Comment.  Let’s talk mortgage.  Remember when your Dad told you that having a mortgage was better than renting.  Remember how it used to be that if you rented, you were essentially just throwing your money down the drain.  A mortgage would build your credit and your equity.  Today, not so much.

arliacne put me onto an article about this very subject.

Although it talks about ordinary home owners with ordinary mortgages that they are keeping up to date, it is true that foreclosures are on the upswing and the recession is still a wild animal out of control.

I have a friend who can barely make her mortgage payment, something that she has faithfully kept up for over 20 years.  But now, when she is squeezing a turnip to try to make ends meet, the mortgage company is unsympathetic and doesn’t want to wait until the 5th of the month, when her husband gets paid, to accept her payment which is due on the 1st of the month.  You can hardly envy her position - she’s damned from the start.  Here she is, trying to pay a mortgage that would build equity and she also can’t give up and start renting because renting has become almost prohibitive.

My son and his wife have put their house up for sale to move to where her job is in Moscow, Idaho.  They have been paying for the house for about 24 months.  The majority of each payment has been in interest - so there is very little equity in the house.  Where’s the value?

Anyway, I thought this was of interest.

Do you feel you are getting the true value for your home and not throwing your money away each month?

~Jeanie~ (Thanks to arliacne for this subject)


Barbara Boxer versus Carly Fiorina…

Good morning, Netizens…

If David Horsey hadn’t done such a fine job of capturing Barbara Boxer in this cartoon this morning, I might have passed on it entirely. Fiorina, the former head of HP, doesn’t appear to be winning the hearts and minds of Californians, despite the support of the Palin machine.

Still, this political race might be one to watch, if for no other reason to see how well Sarah Palin has done in her choices for allegiances.


When it will end…

Good morning, Netizens…

The people grinders are hot after it in this pre-election campaign, and I, for one, have found myself growing increasingly grumpy with each robotic phone call. Regardless of the time of day or night, each time my phone (or even my cell phone) jingles, I immediately cringe at the forethought it might be one of these anonymous polling companies wanting to know my opinion. Lord were it that simple! They want to know my opinion, but attempt to make certain I am aware of their particular point of view.

Since in a previous life I learned quite a bit about telephone solicitation, I have accustomed to the fact that no matter what I do, those polling companies that use an automated dialing system, which dials phone numbers at random, rather than from existing client information, will eventually connect with one of my phone numbers, and there is very little I can do about it. In some states this type of telemarketing is illegal. Still, during elections, people unscrupulously use it. Having an unlisted phone number, even putting your phone number on the questionable National Do-Not-Call list, are no protection against these people grinders from reaching your home. Eventually they will find you.

The phone calls aside, you would have to be deaf and blind to have missed the ever-present venomous television advertising extolling the virtues (or lack thereof) of each politician or referendum present on this year’s ballot. Now that we are entering the last few days before the ballots are counted, the particular vitriol of these ads are getting truly vile and in some cases, misleading. It is almost as if the candidates are tossing all decency to the winds, ever in the hope of being elected or re-elected.

I find the current race between Patty Murray and Dino Rossi to be particularly worthless, as some of the advertisements no more resemble reality than an Orson Welles radio show about the arrival of aliens that drove an entire generation into panic. Based upon their advertisements, I still believe the most popular candidates in this year’s election would be a theoretical candidate titled, “None of the Above”.

Of course given the $100 billion dollar advertising budgets, the only parties that will profit from all this are the television stations, the radio broadcasters and other news media members, and there is no end in sight. The only parties that seem to be truly interested in campaign funding reform are the citizens; everyone else talks a good line, but the laws have never been changed.

Thank God we only have a few more days before this, too, will all pass away.


Officer-involved shooting…

Good morning, Netizens…

I am sick to death of people getting killed by officer-involved shootings, such as the incident that took place this weekend. I am quick to concede that some of the people involved in these incidents did not deserve to die as in some cases, they did nothing wrong. I am also quick to concede that some of these people who were killed were their own worst enemies. You simply do not point a weapon at a peace officer, whether that weapon be a gun, a knife or other dangerous or deadly device.

From what little information that is currently available early this morning, purportedly there was a domestic violence call to Spokane Valley Police involving a man armed with a knife. When confronted by the police, the man refused to drop his knife and was shot by a deputy. Neither the names of the deceased nor the deputy involved have been released yet, as the entire affair is currently under investigation.

In my opinion, do not attempt to toss this incident atop the list of other recent officer-involved shootings. If the facts, such as they are presently available, are accurate, the minute the officer identified himself, the suspect should have dropped his knife like a hot potato. Additionally, in the words of a Sean Connery movie from past decades, you do not bring a knife to a gunfight.

The facts we have at our disposal at this juncture in time are scanty at best. Once we have the facts in their entirety we can then sharpen up our razor-sharp wits on the whetstone of public opinion, but not before.


Tower of Power files for bankruptcy…

Good morning, Netizens…

Reverend Robert H. Schuller, founder and former pastor of the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California, took to the pulpit with tears in his eyes, asking his parishioners for more money after the church filed for bankruptcy protection from $55 million dollar debt.

This week, the church filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which allows a business to keep operating while it tries to put its finances in order under court supervision. The church said that for the time being, “Hour of Power” will remain on the air and the Crystal Cathedral will continue operating as usual.

Begun by Schuller in the 1950’s as a drive-in church, over the years the Crystal Cathedral has grown into a multi-million dollar enterprise with its glass exterior and the mega-church has endured changes throughout the years since.


I Will Follow You

I loved Jim Kershner’s article (Distinguished Woman Left Us A Legacy) about Frances Scott in Saturday’s Spokesman Review.  (Click here to read article.)

Frances Scott lived most of her influencial life here in Spokane.  Mrs. Scott was the forerunner in equal rights for African-Americans.  She passed away October 12 at the age of 88. 

Frances Scott was a living legend, breaking down various barriers of discrimination.  Now, as our ancestor and predecessor, she has forged the pathway for minorities and women of all nationality and culture.  Besides being someone exemplary to follow – she broke glass ceilings in more than one building.  She taught high school for decades, being one of the first black teachers, and went on to become a president of the Spokane Education Association.  At the age of 57 she embarked on a second career – as an attorney.  She mainly did civil rights cases and pro bono work; and she continued her job of teaching.  

Although I am not black, I feel she is calling me.  Her footsteps are before me, guiding me, directing me.   I will follow in her path because it is the best thing I can do to exemplify Frances Scott and women everywhere.

It is interesting to note that our Voter’s Guide this year is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the day that women were allowed to vote.   That was 1910.  We’ve come a long way, baby.


Wacky Westboro…

Good morning, Netizens…

Yesterday we were witness to the whirlwind tour of the Westboro Baptist Church demonstrations throughout Spokane, and there were a remarkable number of counter-demonstrations nose-to-nose across the street from one another. Having been involved in several demonstrations in the 60’s and 70’s I was not prepared for the civility and decency that Spokane’s home-grown demonstrations brought to the forefront.

While I did not have enough free time to attend each demonstration, the non-traditional and ordinary news media was well-represented enough I did not feel the need to be at each demonstration.

The Westboro Church’s demonstration was about HATRED, pure and simple, and their entire set of premises, anti-gay, anti-Jew, anti-just about anything you hold near and dear, which brought them to Spokane simply are wrong. They were debated in the streets by hundreds of people who were having no part of it.

The best part, perhaps, is that no one was arrested, despite a strong police presence. However, the people of Spokane told them in language that even deaf elephants understand that we had no use for their hatred. It did me a lot of good to have so many Spokane citizens, from a broad spectrum of societal and social groups, united against Westboro’s hate-filled beliefs.

I cannot help but wonder will they come our way again? In their own words, they came to deliver a message; did they get our message?


Is this the real Tea Party?

Good morning, Netizens…

We have heard a lot about the Tea Party during the run-up to the November election, and still if you listen closely, you may end up not knowing just who they really are. You hear they are fighting for the disenfranchised, hard-working, economically-beleaguered Americans. However, if you turn to the conservative web sites, you quickly see that the comments are against those undergoing foreclosures. They call them all kinds of things, such as deadbeats and morons.

One has only to remember how these folks got into the funky mortgages to begin with. The bankers and mortgage lenders, good conservatives all, began the housing bubble. Thus, why are the Tea Partiers so quick to vilify the “little people” they claim to represent?

The market is always right, the government is always wrong, or so goes the Tea Party mantra, or am I missing something? There are a lot of “little people” who are being economically trampled by a herd of financial elephants and yet the Tea Party is being strangely silent about it.

There are lots of contributors to the Tea Party that have truly deep pockets, each of whom are eager and willing to put their conservative candidates into office and giving the Liberal Democrats the boot. Simply remember the adage about politics: follow the money. Don’t be surprised at who you find funding the upswell of conservatism.


Political Pond Scum…

Good morning, Netizens…

Ah, yes, cartoonist David Horsey takes on the battle of the political ads, particularly Patti Murray and Dino Rossi. There has been a fine political brouhaha unfolding on prime-time television, with each candidate calling the other all sorts of nasty names and casting vile innuendos in all directions. Of Murray and Rossi, were the election held today, I would vote for none of the above.

However, last evening we finally got to hear 5th Washington Congressional District candidates Darryl Romeyn and Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers square off with a debate well worth the price of admission. Well, that is when either candidate actually answered the questions put to them by the panelists. There did seem to be a lot of evasion, dodging and fancy footwork going on, but after all, this was a political debate.

The panelists, Jonathan Brunt of the Spokesman-Review, Robyn Nance of KXLY News and Doug Nadvornick of Northwest News Network, were moderated by Nadine Woodward of KXLY News. For the most part, the panelists questions were quite direct and to-the-point, and Nadine Woodward did a workmanship job of keeping the candidates within their time limits and on-topic.

Still, the political campaign ads between Romeyn and McMorris-Rodgers have been pretty decent, overall.

The talking points were mostly about JOBS and thus the ECONOMY, and each candidate brought their own particular flair to the discussion. McMorris-Rodgers neatly evaded any responsibility for the Bush-era policies. She also was vague over how much time she actually has spent in Eastern Washington, a fact that Romeyn was quick to jump on.

We are down to just a few weeks before the election, during which we may see even more foul shot advertising.


Farewell to Bob Glatzer…

Good afternoon, Netizens…

As belated as it might be, I join with many others in our Spokane community in acknowledging the passage of Bob Glatzer, who passed away yesterday after a stroke earlier in the week. Just because he was a consummate film critic, advertising executive and a vibrant supporter of the arts did not, in any way, limit Glatzer’s contributions to Spokane’s community-at-large.

As someone once said, if there was something truthful, positive and uplifting to be said or done for Spokane, the chances were pretty good that if Bob Glatzer wasn’t involved, he knew someone who was. The few times I met him in passing, I always walked away with the feeling I had met a true gentleman, someone who knew, revered and understood the power of cinema.

In a day and age when we seem to be falling far short when it comes to true leaders in Spokane, or at least when our so-called leaders cannot or will not lead us effectively, having Bob Glatzer missing from our midst will be a terrible loss indeed. My condolences to his family.


The whore of politics….

Good morning, Netizens…

Cartoonist David Horsey takes a shot at the California Governor’s race.

In the California Governor’s race, a Jerry Brown associate called political opponent Meg Whitman a whore and people in California began howling like a pack of mad dogs.

One has only to wonder what David Horsey would have drawn had the comment been made by a Republican?

Of course, I’ve met some Ladies of the Evening who had more self-respect and dignity than your average hate-and-fear mongering Republican politicians, too. That is, of course, unless you happen to be a staunch Democrat.


Little Red Wagon from Wasilla…

Good moning, Netizens…

We have the little red wagon down in Riverfront Park, which is pretty cool. Then we have the little red wagon of Wasilla, Alaska that does 70 MPH on the freeway. In this AP photo, Judy and Fred Keller take their Radio Flyer wagon for a spin in Wasilla, Alaska. A converted pickup truck, the wagon is fully operational and licensed for road travel.


Legal pot in California…

Good morning, Netizens…

This morning’s David Horsey cartoon addresses California Proposition 19, which would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana for personal use and cultivate gardens up to 25 square feet. It leaves the decision on whether to allow use and tax sales of the drug to local governments.

The Golden State already allows the sale of medical marijuana, which has made it relatively easy for even perfectly healthy people to buy the stuff without fear of being shoved into the back of a patrol car. Prop. 19 would expand that right. Any person 21 years or older could buy an ounce from a licensed seller or grow their own in the backyard while local jurisdictions that opt into the program reap a tax bonanza from the sales.

Any positive effects of the current ban on marijuana will be eliminated or at least substantially reduced with the passage of Proposition 19. On the other hand, you will have more stoned drivers and more people needing treatment for substance abuse. It also stands to reason that the drug cartels will not be put out of business simply because marijuana is legalized, because they will find new ways of making an illicit buck.

Then what do we do about our kids? Although we live in a society where both alcohol and marijuana are illegal for persons under 21, there doesn’t seem to be a school in America where either pot nor alcohol are not readily available. The question seems to be whether legalized pot for adults will make it more available and desirable for kids, and whether that is something we can live with.

Some of us will never be interested in pot. Many others will indulge and live more or less happily with the consequences.

While we can legislate laws governing human behavior, do they always work as planned?


Dame Joan Sutherland dead at age 83…

Good morning, Netizens…

I have often written eulogies of various people I have only marginally known, and today is no exception. I first heard Joan Sutherland sing in New York’s Metropolitan Opera on a fluke. A friend had seats to attend Sutherland singing as Donna Anna in Verdi’s Don Giovanni and, when he could not attend he offered me the tickets. Although no stranger to opera, it was the first time I had heard opera performed live at the Met, and it formed an impression that time has never obliterated nor dimmed.

I have been privileged to hear both Joan Sutherland and Luciano Pavarotti perform before live audiences in my lifetime.

Yesterday Dame Joan Sutherland passed away at her home at age 83. Although I am hardly a qualified operatic critic, I will never forget the incredible range with which she sang effortlessly throughout the world. Nor can I forget Luciano Pavarotti, who performed with Sutherland several times during his lifetime.

I submit that while Italian operatic tenors such as Pavarotti may come and go with each age, Joan Sutherland’s voice still stands as a one-of-a-kind gift, which was bestowed upon people throughout the world. She will be missed. Rest in peace…


Subset of a road ramble…

Good morning, Netizens…

My beloved spouse and I often participate in what I colloquially call “rambles”, which consist of simply wandering all over the countryside for the single purpose of spending some time with one another as far away from our combined responsibilities as possible. On rare occasions, however, we sometimes combine our responsibilities with long trips, and this last weekend we managed to do so.

First it was my wife’s birthday, and then it was a long series of pictures that needed to be taken for my wife’s work. We returned home after 349 miles of nearly non-stop driving, but along the jagged pathway from Spokane to Cragmont, we stumbled on the Town of Juliaetta, Idaho, which really isn’t that far off the beaten path. I immediately remembered one of several conversations MartyH and I had about the Clearwater and took this picture of the town sign.

The only surprise we got was that the fall colors haven’t really begun in that area, but the town was still cute in its own way. We drove into Cragmont, Idaho, which last week was the scene of a tornado being sighted, but we saw neither funnel nor much wildlife. Thanks to my unswerving navigator, we only managed to get lost a few times, but quickly figured our way back onto the main highway.


How does one educate for success?

Good morning, Netizens…

Despite having attended several universities and colleges, I have never particularly been a strong advocate of traditional education as taught in our public schools today. Instead of today’s students being encouraged and aided to learn at their own levels and speed, our system appears to attempt to teach them how to pass the standardized testing programs. Perhaps even worse, although we have a plethora of new-and-improved testing programs, given our dismal teacher-to-student ratios in the classrooms, we are unable to truly teach children effectively.

Then we compound the errors of the educational system with a societal system of televised entertainment disguised as so-called education. In my day we had kids television fare, such as Captain Kangaroo and other shows that brought education to kids in unorthodox ways, but that had learning content. I’ve looked at television shows that target kids today, and I find very few such educational opportunities. Kids television today contains more fluff, more targeted advertising and less instruction.

I cannot help but recall a true story I related to a friend the other day, about my own personal learning experiences. I was a voracious reader from grade school. By the time I entered High School, I had already read most of the limited fictional works in the high school library, and had already begun reading non-fiction. The net result, unfortunately, was that I began ignoring some of the traditional teaching materials used by our school, relying instead upon a stack of paperback books in my locker I had purchased from the Scholastic Book Club of the time. By my Junior year in high school, I had my own library, and at least had already read the required reading list for college level.

My granddaughters today, by comparison, are forced to read as part of their school curriculum, but do not do so by choice, and in my opinion, were it not for the ongoing home-based education efforts that our family have put into place, I seriously doubt they would achieve success.

I concur with Horsey. Dismal education is no substitute for a hunger for learning.


The fading lines…

Good morning, Netizens…

This morning, cartoonist David Horsey appears to be speaking directly to me with a cartoon that takes a shot at Jon Stewart, the host of The Daily Show. However, Horsey makes a few truly good points in his examination, several of which apply directly to my situation here at Community Comment.

Jon Stewart has undertaken a spoof of Glenn Beck’s recent “Restoring Honor” rally. Quoting from Horsey’s column, Stewart has Announced a “Rally to Restore Sanity,” and Stewart told his viewers, “We’re looking for the people who think shouting is annoying, counterproductive, and terrible for your throat; who feel that the loudest voices shouldn’t be the only ones that get heard; and who believe that the only time it’s appropriate to draw a Hitler mustache on someone is when that person is actually Hitler. Or Charlie Chaplin in certain roles.”

The scariest part is people are talking about this. People are making plans and buying plane tickets, according to Horsey, and he submits this could be a very big thing. What makes this even more important to me and most other journalists is it could be a big demonstration of how the lines that once defined and segregated the worlds of politics, journalism and entertainment have all but vanished.

People in politics gave predictable droll speeches, held noisy rallies, tried to organize the voters and ran the parties. We, the journalists, were taught to be dispassionate, not hold any opinions, at least not in public, and although we could try to shape the public opinion, we were forbidden from being besmirched with partisanship. We have seen a ton of comedians and television humorists who made fun of politics, they did not become lightning rods for political causes. I am thinking of David Letterman, Johnny Carson and various others who have played such roles in our historied past. Then we have comedians such as Al Franken who parlayed his craft into a role in politics.

How the world has changed! Politicians have become pundits, pundits play politics and comedians can seem more credible and sane than either one, or perhaps not, as your results may vary.

Do not expect that true-blue journalism is going to make a hard left turn anytime soon. However, we may see the fringes fade a bit, as comedy blends with and thus perhaps more partisan.

The future could be interesting indeed.

(Portions of this article attributed to various online sources, including David Horsey’s column)


Farewell gentle spirit…

Good morning, Netizens…

One of the truly gentle spirits of Berkeley’s Telegraph Avenue has died, and with her, a part of me also has gone. This picture, taken by Pat Wade of the SF Chronicle does her justice I think.

Patricia Cody, the quiet but passionate co-founder of Cody’s Bookstore, one of Berkeley’s preeminent bookstores on Telegraph Avenue, died Thursday at Kaiser Hospital in Oakland of heart failure. She was 87. Although Cody’s has been closed for several years, I could never forget Patricia Cody and her husband, Fred Cody. They had a bookstore that spoke to me. Whenever I would pull out of Berkeley in my truck, heading to points unknown, between Cody’s and Moe’s Bookstore, nearly across Telegraph Avenue from one another, I always had a ready supply of reading material stashed away in various places in my truck. Matters got even worse when I began working at Moe’s Bookstore because then I had the best access to books that anyone could ask for.

If it were not for Patricia’s unswerving dedication to maintaining the books and inventory, I am relatively certain Cody’s would have gone out of business long before its time. Always known for its outrageous political and artistic inventory, still you never knew who you would meet there. Some of the literary luminaries of my time held readings there; Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti to name two of my personal favorites.

The Codys sold the business in 1977, and the famed bookstore closed in 2008, a victim of Internet sales and discount book offerings at chain stores. But in its heyday, Cody’s was a staple of Bay Area literary life and a beloved community gathering spot. In the raucous heydays of Berkley, during the 70’s riots, both it and Moes became safe havens for folks who wanted no part of the violence sweeping through the streets. One young man died of a gunshot wound atop Cody’s. His only crime was watching the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department and the National Guard tossing teargas as the people below on the street.

Moe’s Bookstore still exists on Telegraph Avenue, thank goodness, but the co-founder and most gentle creature ever to grace Cody’s is no longer with us, and I rue her passage.


Spate of UFO’s appear over Mongolia…

Good morning, Netizens…

For decades our country has been “blessed” with various reports and pictures of unidentified flying objects (UFO’s) ranging from the incredibly-detailed movies to grainy pictures that wouldn’t fool your grandmother for a moment. This picture, taken from ABC News is a picture shot by a citizen in Mongolia, China recently. During the time this UFO was flying through the area, Chinese aviation authorities refused to allow aircraft to take off or land at their airports.

All Chinese authorities could say sounds so familiar to UFO fans in the United States as, “the matter is under investigation”.

According to Chinese authorities, this was the eighth time in several months that UFO’s have been sighted in the Mongolian airspace. If the Chinese authorities had a real answer as to what this craft was, don’t you think they would have gone public with the information by now?

I know people who say, “Phooey!” when they hear such reports; I also know people who get wide-eyed and hysterical whenever new sightings are reported. One thing remains fairly certain: there have been UFO sightings for decades now, nobody seems to have lucid explanations for their presence in our skies and yet these sightings persist. Now the Chinese are having visitations. We do not know why they persist. As this picture, shot by a man and his wife shows, something was there.

In the interim, all we can do is imagine when or if these strange craft will land and announce their intentions.


How true are the following?

Good evening, Netizens..

From my incredible wife comes the following:

“By the time a woman realizes that her mom was probably right, she usually has a daughter who thinks she’s wrong.”

After a short period of introspection, I countered with:

“By the time a man raises his son into manhood, if the father did his job, his son will raise a son of his own who always knows Dad was right.”

Just a thought for the day as I finally am winding down and collapsing into the long dark tunnel of sleep.


Tornadoes pound parts of Arizona?

Good evening, Netizens…

There was bizarre weather afoot in Arizona today. Normally they have an average maximum of three or four tornadoes per year, but never before in their forecasting history have they seen clusters of tornadoes, perhaps as many as six or seven according to various news sources, in one day.

Belemont, Arizona, a sleepy suburban area west of Flagstaff, an early morning tornado hit town shortly after 5:30 AM and although no rating has been done yet some sources rate it as an F3 on the Fujita Scale. Most movies that tell you how to cope with prairie twisters tell you to move to the basement. As one of my clients stated mournfully, hardly anyone in the Flagstaff area have basements. Fortunately he wasn’t directly impacted by the series of storms, although he did have a pile of hail on his porch.

Another storm hit south of Flagstaff minutes later, and a funnel blew trucks off Interstate 17 shortly after noon.

On Tuesday, storms ripped out trees and broke windows in metropolitan Phoenix, flooded roadways, shut airports and dented cars and shattered windows with hail bigger than golf balls in some places.

On Wednesday, semitrailers were sitting along the side of Interstate 40. High winds cast dozens of cars of a freight train off the tracks in Bellemont around 6:30 a.m. No one was injured and the cars did not contain any hazardous materials.

About 30 homes were so badly damaged that they were uninhabitable and the people who lived in them were evacuated, authorities said. A shelter was set up for them.

Sparsely populated Arizona typically has four tornadoes a year, but rarely if ever sees twisters come in clusters and cause the kind of damage seen Wednesday, meteorologists said.

Now the question that haunts me is is there a relationship between this meteorological anomaly in Arizona and La Nina? The folks in Arizona never have had such a series of severe storms in recent history. Do you care to speculate? Hurricane in Spokane perhaps? How about a good old-fashioned rock and roll type earthquake?


Westboro is coming to Spokane to save us all…

Good evening, Netizens…

Westboro Baptist Church is coming to Spokane to continue spewing more hatred against gays, and from their website, we present the Westboro itinerary for the Spokane area:

Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA October 21, 2010 11:00 AM - 11:30 AM

Moody Bible Institute in Spokane, WA October 21, 2010 11:40 AM - 12:10 PM

Whitworth University in Spokane, WA October 21, 2010 12:30 PM - 1:00 PM

Rodgers High School in Spokane, WA October 21, 2010 2:25 PM - 2:55 PM

Eastern Washington University in Cheney, WA October 21, 2010 3:45 PM - 4:15 PM

Synagogue Chavurat HaMashiach in Spokane, WA October 21, 2010  6:00 PM - 6:30 PM

Coeur d’Alene High School in Coeur d’Alene, ID October 22, 2010 6:10 AM - 6:40 AM

Lake City High School in Coeur d’Alene, ID October 22, 2010 7:10 AM - 7:40 AM

North Idaho College in Coeur D’Alene, ID October 22, 2010 8:00 AM - 8:30 AM

North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene, ID October 30, 2010 6:45 PM - 7:30 PM

I have been following the statements and actions of Fred Phelps and his band of approximately 70 unaffiliated Baptist Church members for several months now, and I am no more opposed to their exercising their freedom of speech than I am of anyone else. However, like the person(s) who cry FIRE in a crowded theaters, there are limitations. Spitting on the caskets of dead Marines who gave their lives in the defense of liberty seems like a good place to start changing from a hysterically-outrageous little church of 70 hate-filled Baptists into something more worthwhile and reverent. Dragging our US flag in the dirt in parades just doesn’t sit that well for me, either.

However, when I say these people are on the absolute outer fringe of organized religions, I appear to be in good company. Westboro Baptist Church is currently classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. They spend over $200,000 a year on traveling around the country to express their opinions filled with hatred.

If you truly want to know more about the people from Westboro Baptist Church, I highly recommend you read and you will see why they are viewed as a hate group.


Horsey’s take on political attack ads?

Good evening, Netizens…

In the election year when television attack ads have become so much a part of the sand-blasted television real estate, when every minute or two we hear more ads from either Dynamic Dino Rossi or Pork Barrel Patty Murray, each attacking the other, it might seem like an outer-space battle of wills. After seeing today’s David Horsey cartoon, some say he is looking at one side the political spectrum. The question that remains, however, is how many of the attack ads are coming from the Tea Party members?

Really, if you stop and think of it, most of the attack ads we are hearing and seeing on our televisions do not just originate from either Patty Murray, Dino Rossi or members of the Tea Party. Some say the Republican Party, who are leading in the polls for the most television advertising, are the source. Republicans, however, are quick to point a finger accusingly at Democrats.

You can open up a can of greasy, squirming worms if you begin to study negative political advertising, yet it is as American as apple pie this time of year. The only ones who win out in such contentious years as we have present are the television stations and advertising agencies.

Relax! It’s only going to get worse as we enter the last four weeks before election.


David Elton goes to trial…

Good morning, Netizens…

This morning, at long last, I will be testifying at the trial of David Elton for the prosecution. Approximately 600 days ago, this sordid affair called the case of Washington State Versus David Elton began, based upon an e-mail message written by David Elton February 6, 2009. Since that time, there have been multiple schedule changes to the court docket; Elton has fired a long list of lawyers and various judges have recused themselves but at last we are here, ready for a jury trial.

While I am not going to disclose my testimony at this point in time, suffice it to say that upon completion of the trial I will post excerpts of the original e-mail message so that you can judge for yourselves what his intentions at that time were. I do not believe now, after this passage of time, that justice would be best served by incarcerating Elton. This comes hard on the words of County Prosecutor Dale Nagy who, yesterday in a phone call informed me that I should not testify that Elton is bi-polar, although Elton takes enough psychotropic drugs to flatten an ox upright on its tail with its eyes crossed.

Among other luminaries slated to testify for the prosecution, Dr. John Olsen, City Council President Joe Shogan and Betsy Cowles to name a few. There is enough printed paper involved in this court case that we could paste the entire interior walls of Judge Moreno’s Court Room. We could call it interior decoration, were it not so macabre or such a waste of the taxpayer’s money.

So, hitch up your knickers folks, because here we are, going to trial.


Congress runs home to get re-elected…

Good morning, Netizens…

I believe it was Will Rogers who once penned that we should hide women and children whenever Congress is in session. Well, as of today, women and children are once again safe because Congress is heading home to tend their re-election fires, hopefully to return after vacation. Did Nancy Pelosi get the job done? I’ll leave that determination for everyone else, but I think not. Unemployment and poverty are higher, health care is still a nightmare and there is no end in sight to the bad economic news.

However, as the cartoon shows, the Congress is leaving with a job half-completed.

But at least, thank God it’s Friday! Just a few more days of summer-like weather and then our temperatures will return to seasonal norms and it will be time to gather tomatoes as quickly thereafter as possible before the killing frost arrives.

Where did the summer go? It was about as short-lived and perhaps less-useful than Congress, some say.


Bernard Schwartz has passed away…

Good morning, Netizens…

If I told you an 80 year-old Hungarian-American named Bernard Schwartz had passed away of a heart attack at his home, most of you reading this would toss your hands in the air and go, “PHTT! So who is Bernard Schwartz?”

Well, it happened. Actor and once Hollywood heartthrob Tony Curtis passed away Wednesday of a heart attack. Born as Bernard Schwartz, the son of Hungarian immigrants, he spoke Hungarian as his primary language until the age of 5 and rose through the ranks of Hollywood to become an enduring American movie star.

In his own words, beautiful women and money were among the primary motivations in Curtis’s life. Having been married six times, each to beautiful starlets of the time, given his humble beginnings in life Curtis achieved his goals.

Another of our American greats is gone. Rest in Peace.


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