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Community Comment

Archive for April 2011

Virtual Bliss

In a phone conversation today, Dave and I discussed the Virtual Ballroom, which hasn’t been seen for several months now.  I’m sure you have missed it.  Some have made comments about its whereabouts.  You know these virtual ballrooms – they have a mind of their own and can go off on little adventures without any of the rest of us being any wiser.

But I chanced to catch it on one of its whirl-by blitzes.  I slowed it down a bit and spent a rainy afternoon creating the Virtual Bliss Room in the ballroom – over there behind the fire-engine-red bar.  It’s the doorway with all the sparkly lights seemingly floating in and out of the door edges.  Those lights are made of magic.  They know the passenger walking within.  They recognize you as their most favorite person in the whole world.  As you enter the doorway, they envelope you in a holy warmth that fills you with peace, happiness, contentment.  

Once you enter, you are beckoned to a huge overstuffed recliner that hugs you and embraces you, carrying over that spirit-like warmth from the doorway lights.   

If you are tired; you feel refreshed and renewed
If you are sad; you feel like you had a really good cry
If you are anxious; you feel relaxed and soothed
If you feel achy all over; you feel like you just had the best massage you ever had

The chair, the lights, the room itself flow over you, replenishing you, revitalizing you, caring for you, understanding you.

You now have experienced Virtual Bliss.  Meaning you effectively have reached the pinnacle of harmony and happiness.

Enjoy your mini-spa.



When will it end?

Good morning, Netizens…


Why am I not surprised?


Deputy Brian Hirzel acted in a reasonable manner when he shot a 74 year-old pastor in Spokane Valley last summer two different departmental reviews have stated.


“Deputy Brian Hirzel’s use of force in this incident was reasonable based on policies of the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office,” the department said, citing its Deadly Force Review Board’s conclusions, quoting the Thomas Clouse piece in the Spokesman-Review this morning.


Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich also had his department’s 12-member Citizen Advisory Board review the Aug. 25 shooting of pastor Wayne Scott Creach. That board essentially came to the same conclusion, according to Sgt. Dave Reagan, the department’s spokesman.


Pastor Wayne Scott Creach was shot in the parking lot of his business, and according to his son, Alan Creach, the reports simply are not enough.


“I just think this is one more instance of a government that has gone awry through their willingness to overlook an action that is unjustifiable,” Creach said. “If we let this event stand, then the beating and the killing will continue.”


This entire affair, start to finish, was a horrible fiasco; a tragedy of unspeakable sadness, and I believe many of the departmental policies and procedures it has revealed need to be remedied. Communications between law enforcement and its citizenry desperately cry out for improvement. The question that remains in my mind is, who is listening?



A bit off the beaten path…

Good morning, Netizens…


Few of you may remember the late Reverend David Wilkerson, an Assembly of God minister and founder of World Challenge Ministries, who was killed Wednesday in a car accident in East Texas. Perhaps he was best known for having written The Cross and the Switchblade, a book that told the story of how Wilkerson left his small rural Assembly of God Church and went to New York to minister to gang members.


Now, these many years later, having written more than 30 other books and having established ministries, including Teen Challenge, which has continued to minister to street gang members in New York and other cities, Reverend Wilkerson was a respected and revered spokesperson for the Assembly of God.


He ostensibly was killed in a head-on car crash sources are reporting that Wilkerson was killed in a head-on collision with a tractor trailer while traveling east on U.S. 175. His wife, Gwen, was also involved in the accident and reportedly remains in critical condition at East Texas Medical Center in Tyler, Texas.


Rest in Peace…



F4-F5 tornadoes flatten parts of Alabama…

Good morning, Netizens…


Late yesterday and throughout the night last night, parts of Alabama and Mississippi were decimated by a series of violent tornadoes that ranged from an estimated F4 or F5 on the Fujita Scale that hit Tuscaloosa, Huntsville and Birmingham, such as this photo of the tornado that flattened portions of Tuscaloosa late in the day yesterday. This area of the United States is no stranger to tornadoes and severe thunderstorms, but never so many and of such severity in such a short period of time.


A huge storm front, ranging across four states, killed a still-unknown number of people and injuring hundreds of others. It flattened not only homes in its path, it flattened businesses throughout much of the Huntsville area, leaving emergency services and medical service providers ill-equipped to cope with the trees across streets, people trapped in houses and businesses and other injuries.


It is not quite turning daylight now, and with the new day, it is expected the number of dead and injured will rise.


Unfortunately, there is still a forecast model that suggests the severe weather will persist for portions of today.



Joe pops a cork, recesses the council…,

Good morning, Netizens…


Occasionally Spokesman-Review writer Jonathan Brunt hits a news story dead on, and in this morning's paper, his coverage of last night's City Council meeting just about got the job done. The Red Light scenario, of putting red light cameras on as many intersections as possible, has both its proponents and its detractors. What is unfortunate, however, is that the Spokesman was the only member of the news media to pay even a pittance of attention to last night's City Council meeting, and the resulting brouhaha between mouthpiece Council President Joe Shogun and George McGrath over new red light cameras.


What's at stake are red light cameras at four proposed new intersections, and statistics which George McGrath asserts the red light programs are actually cash cows, and that other cities involved in the program have pulled out for a variety of reasons. Sergeant Joe immediately called a recess to the meeting and returned armed with police statistics which he insists show otherwise.


“You’re frickin’ wrong,” Shogan told McGrath after presenting the police statistics.


Wait a minute here. Who, besides a few members of the City Council and various heads of state in the Spokane Police Department actually trusts Spokane police statistics?


Suffice it to say that I doubt if venerable George McGrath, who seems to have this fetish to attend most City Council meetings where he keeps a sharp eye on proceedings, not to mention any expenses which strike his attention, trusts any statistics from City Hall, let alone the Police Department.


Kudos to Mr. Brunt for covering a story which apparently no one else in the Spokane news media either wanted to cover or felt worthwhile.



For what it’s worth department…

Good morning, Netizens…


Mssr. Hibbs and I will be holding one of our impromptu meetings at our favorite breakfast eatery this morning beginning about 9:00 AM. Military coups, City Council uprising and other states of affairs are on the agenda, so come if you dare.



Earth Day review…

Good afternoon, Netizens…


Here we have the Unofficial Earth Day flag, by John McConnell: the blue marble on a blue background. It has come to represent Earth Day, which has been observed since April 22, 1970 and is now observed on April 22 each year by more than 500 million people and several national governments in 175 countries. It is coordinated by the nonprofit Earth Day Network, according to whom Earth Day is now “the largest secular holiday in the world, celebrated by more than a half billion people every year”.


I have a problem with Earth Day. If so many people in the United States are so enamored of saving Mother Earth, why is it they continue to re-elect politicians who clearly have a conflict of interest with Green awareness and/or become lobbyists for major corporations that pollute our air and water?


I find myself astounded beyond words at the number of lobbyists for corporations who mouth the phrases of Earth Day while still polluting madly away.



Donald Trump for President … maybe…

Good morning, Netizens…


Donald Trump as a Republican candidate for President? Say, come to think of it, Trump might trump all the other Republican candidates who are running for office. He’s not a repeat candidate from 2008, like Huckabee and Romney. He’s not a plodding doofus with low name recognition, like Pawlenty and Daniels. But most of all, he’s a source of even more outrageous fun and constant source of gaffes than Palin or Bachmann. The best part is he doesn’t hide from hostile interviewers and predictably opens his mouth to say whatever strikes his mind, without regard for its political correctness or disinformation.


After all, he has this certain panache, ignoring the number of bankruptcies associated with his successes. He has been married to some of the most utterly garishly beautiful women in the world, and divorced them in spectacular fashion.


He's already done a quick flip-flops on abortion to satisfy the Religious Right Wing, and has stated he regularly attends church on Christmas and Easter. He changed his whistle from praise for President Obama to exaggerated claims that Obama was borne in Kenya.


Can you imagine Trump moving into the White House? That idea strikes me as twisted as his hairdo, but then I am somewhat astounded at the number of Republicans who have suddenly begun warming to the idea despite the number of Trump's ex-wives.


Suddenly I have a vision of Trump with his latest trophy-class wife moving into the White House, with the coalition of those Republicans who voted him into office, and their first move would be to redecorate it in garish casino gold with gambling tables installed in the Press Room to better satiate members of the press anxiously awaiting his next press statement.


Oh, Lordy, we could have lots of fun watching the next Republican Presidential candidate election.



Duck and Cover…


Good morning, Netizens…


This is Disaster Preparedness Month. In keeping with Governor Christine Gregoire's request for a statewide earthquake drill at 9:45 AM Wednesday morning, promptly on time I crawled beneath my desk, covering my head with one hand, and held onto the desk leg with the other. To be honest, for the requisite two minutes I felt more like a complete fool than I did a responsible, prepared citizen. I had visions of Governor Gregoire crawling beneath her desk for two minutes, ignoring the telephones ringing and people queued up outside her office waiting for various meetings. Even worse, can you imagine Chief Kirkpatrick or Mayor Verner crawling beneath their desks to duck and cover?


Several members of my family resided for years in tornado alley, and are quite familiar with the “duck and cover” drills which are still taught in the public schools during the spring and fall months of the year in the Mid and South West. When the tornado alarm blew, you dove beneath the nearest desk and covered your head until the “all clear” alarm was sounded. This same exercise was originally popularized as part of Civil Defense back in the 60's and 70's but in modern-day Spokane I do not know if any of the civil defense sirens still work.


Is Spokane prepared for a disaster of epic proportions? What would happen if we lost our telephones, Internet access and television in one simultaneous event? Where would we go, what would we do and in what order?


Sure! We would crawl beneath our desks, cover our heads with one hand and hang on for dear life. Of course you opinion of this may differ.



Our dysfunctional Congress…

Good evening, Netizens…


I think I might have an issue, our dysfunctional congress, where cartoonist David Horsey and most of the people reading it may agree.


Granted, I do not know for a fact that the event as depicted by Horsey actually ever occurred, but I do believe if it ever did, someone would be almost certain to threaten a filibuster to prevent such a bill from being introduced. After all, you have members of Congress who teeter to both the left and right; some even further than that. Do you think for a moment you could get them all to agree on a single issue?


Personally, between the Tea Party, the Conservative Right Wing Republicans, the Conservative Liberals and the leftist Liberals, I am surprised they are able to agree often enough to pass any legislation. Of course, my favorite axiom when it comes to members of Congress is, “we have the best possible Congress that money can buy.”


Of course, your thoughts on this may differ.



The twister explosion back east…

Good morning, Netizens…


Living in the Pacific Northwest, there are many who wonder at people who, after loading down their vehicles with an imponderable stack of highly-technical equipment, and taking their lives in their hands, go chasing severe storms in other areas of the country. A classic example of a reason why people do such things just struck in parts of North Carolina and other parts of the South where a record-setting number of tornadoes touched down over the weekend.


There was a time, years ago, when I regularly chased tornadoes. It was before the full development of NEXRAD Radar, when storm chasers didn't have hardly any of the modern-day gadgets that modern-day meteorologists routinely possess. We studied the clouds, and when the circumstances were right, we called local authorities notifying them of a potential tornado touchdown; it wasn't perfect but it was what we had. Even today, given the arsenals of electronics and meteorological software storm chasers sometimes miss storms that later generate tornadoes. In some instances storm chasers cause the sirens to blow but no funnel clouds ever form. It is an imperfect science to some degree.


In Sanford, North Carolina, a representative for a flattened Lowe's Hardware store admitted to various members of news agencies that they had heard the sirens blowing in the distance, notifying anyone within its range to take cover immediately and yet it wasn't until customers physically saw the tornado looming across the street before anyone took action. Fortunately, the Lowes store in question had a disaster plan and followed it. Despite the store being more or less flattened around them, no one inside the store was killed.


All the storm chasers in the world would not have made much difference to the folks in the store.


According to several severe weather warning centers, there were at least four storm chasers who had been following the progress of the particular storm front which spawned so many tornadoes in such a short period of time. In fact there were at least two different videos of the storm as it developed, each shot by storm chasers. Still, in other areas, people died, some of whom had no warning at all of impending severe weather.




There is obviously a great deal more education, awareness and advance notification that needs to be done before tornado warning system will work 100% of the time.



Things in the attic and basement…

Good morning, Netizens…

The headline in this David Horsey cartoon reads, “Americans keep Confederates in the attic, Slaves in the cellar,” but unfortunately, the picture depicts the American family in the attic, yet the younger generation has uncovered the desiccated skeleton of a slave in the attic, not in the cellar, as the cartoon suggests. It really doesn't make any difference where we collectively uncover the skeletons of former slaves, be they in the attic or the cellar of our consciousness.

On April 12th, re-enactors dressed in Confederate gray fired cannons toward old Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor to mark 150 years since the attack that started America’s hideous war over slavery.

Four years of Civil War commemorations will now ensue and we shall see if, during the coming months, Americans, North and South (and West) can finally accept the central truth about why our bloodiest war was fought: Our country was built upon and prospered from a racist socio-economic system that could not be eradicated without blood and steel, death and destruction on an unprecedented scale.

The only substantial dispute; not states rights, not a cultural clash, not tariffs or big government — it was slavery that caused the Civil War. The Confederacy was formed to perpetuate a racist social structure more entrenched than the apartheid system in South Africa. After the war ended, Southerners did all they could to retain most aspects of that structure for another 100 years, confirming with their deeds that racial supremacy had been the impulse that brought us secession, and all the race hatred that has come to imply over the decades.

In my youth, I can remember driving long haul trucks through the Deep South and seeing, first-hand, the remaining impacts of the Civil War and later on, the continuous festering of racial strife. There were certain truck stops which, for whatever reason, catered exclusively to black truck drivers who otherwise could not eat in certain all-white restaurants; there were many truck stops that proudly flew the Confederate flags atop their flag poles out front as a warning and guideline. I never was refused service at any of the all-black truck stops, but I heard of black truckers who were discouraged from asking for service at some proudly-Confederate-leaning truck stops and I was young and naive enough to eventually make up my own mind where I would stop.

I am too old now to drive those byways and highways I once traveled. However, I still can recall vague memories of ancient and delicate places in my heart, where I often as not would find a different view of the battle of racial strife in America. Sometimes, particularly in the early morning, when I once was anxious to be off and on my way after a hearty breakfast and bottomless pots of coffee, often as not served by women of color, I still wonder if those places exist on some intercultural road map today.

Perhaps if those villainous Confederate flags no longer are flying above truck stops in the South, the Confederate War is truly over. Of course, your results may differ.


Brinksmanship to prevent government shutdown…

Good morning, Netizens…

According to cartoonist David Horsey, the art of hostage taking as taught by Republican U.S. House Speaker John Boehner is a good study in brinksmanship, in my opinion. Given the amount of hyperbole and grandstanding involved over the previous weeks, it would appear that David Horsey's cartoon may have hit the nail on the head; the Republican strategy appears to have worked.

However, before anyone breathes heartfelt sighs of relief, after saving federal funding for Planned Parenthood I should hasten to point out we aren't through with the federal budget by a long shot. There are still lots of sacrificial lambs awaiting delivery to the altar politic before the ink is dry on the national budget, a fact I am certain Speaker Boehner is wisely keeping beneath his collar.

In case you are wondering, why was Planned Parenthood chosen to be Boehner's hostage? Just last Friday, for example, Republican Sen. John Kyl of Arizona fired the opening salvo on Planned Parenthood when he said on the Senate floor that “if you want an abortion you go to Planned Parenthood. And that's well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does.”

Get used to the deception. It just isn't so.

Despite the fact Kyl was eventually forced to rescind his statement, as despite Planned Parenthood being a truly big target to Conservative Republicans, over 90% of what Planned Parenthood does do is NOT abortions. So it stands to reason when Boehner was searching for a highly-visible hostage that he could broker into tax cuts, who else could he grab?

Once President Obama sensed that Boehner was willing to hold Planned Parenthood as his hostage, and that Republicans were, for the most part, behind the elimination of federal funding for Planned Parenthood, he had to acquiesce and cave in to the other demands to save us from government shutdown.

Of course, this is only my interpretation of the saving of our government, and perhaps your opinion(s) may differ.


Heights of the absurd…


Good evening, Netizens…


One of America's most-nauseously self-serving members of the right wing ideologues has left the television stations that launched him into American hearts and minds, and with his departure from Fox Television, Glenn Beck has closed the door on what I personally felt was as close as the John Birch Society ever came to syndication of their particular brand of fear-mongering hatred.


Simply because I believe, if one is going to complain bitterly about a person's politics, you should at least hear them out to see what they have to day, I listened to Beck on several occasions. I made it a special point to listen to his entire speech given on the anniversary of the Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. That was a piece of claptrap ideology if there ever was such a thing, bordering on half-baked truths and artificiality. Unfortunately, after that appearance, there were repeated cries from the underground right for a Presidential ticket featuring Beck and Sarah Palin, cries which apparently have fallen by the wayside, one would hope.


I still recall when Sarah Palin, Keith Olbermann and Glenn Beck were the heads of the paranoid style of American politics, as all three were capable of inciting right wing extremist pseudo-intellectualism and fear-mongering on a national scale. What a difference a year makes! Keith Olbermann is now off the air, and Glenn Beck is now looking like he might follow in Olbermann's tracks. In the meantime, Sarah Palin's ratings are dropping like flies, despite her trips to several foreign countries to get some of that foreign knowledge and experience she so desperately needed before she opened her mouth.


It is a reaffirmation of the American people that they are instinctively distrustful of the political and ideological extremes of either left or right wing.


Perhaps that is why I am particularly amused at a pundit's assessment of the Republican Party's Presidential aspirations, featuring Newt Gingrich or Donald Trump as the Tea Party/Republican Party's efforts to win back the hearts and minds of the American voters. Ye Gods, what a combination those two would make!


Of course, your results may differ.



DOJ investigates Seattle Police…

Good morning, Netizens…


The Department of Justice has informed the Seattle Police Department they are investigating whether Seattle officers have engaged in a pattern of unnecessary force and biased policing. Police Chief John Diaz (pictured) met with the Seattle Times Editorial Board Friday and informed them of the pending action, asserting that they have fully cooperated with the inquiry so far and will continue to do so.


Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas Perez, who oversees the DOJ's Civil Rights Division in Washington, D.C., announced the department-wide “patterns and practices” investigation in a conference call with U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan, whose office's civil division will oversee it.


Both Perez and U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan, whose office's civil division will oversee the investigation, stressed that the investigation is a civil, not a criminal matter.


Perez said, is to determine whether there are “systemic violations of the Constitution or federal law by officers of the SPD” and to correct them if they're found. Should problems be found during the investigation, the DOJ will work with the Seattle Police Department to fix them, stated Perez.


The DOJ also confirmed Thursday that they are investigating a separate criminal investigation into the August shooting death of First Nations woodcarver John T. Williams by a Seattle police officer. The officer, Ian Birk, resigned from the force after prosecutors said they could not build a case against him.


There are a remarkable number of parallels between the DOJ investigation of the Seattle Police Department and historical events involving the Spokane Police Department where some citizens assert Constitutional violations have taken place but, to date, no DOJ investigations have taken place in Spokane.


If interested parties persist in asking questions of the Spokane Police Department regarding any of these events where civil liberties have ostensibly been violated, generally speaking you are informed to “move on, nothing has happened here”, and the matter is dropped. We apparently lack the clout necessary to invoke the U.S. Attorney's office.


Of course, your opinions may differ.



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