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Archive for July 2011

Heading for disaster anyone?

Good morning, Netizens…


Quoting the National Journal, Congress doesn't want voters to conclude lawmakers are all “posh and shiny” and just spent their summer “ramming it to the rest of us.” Oh? Given the chaos and mass pandemonium of the last few days, it certainly sounds that way to me. Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats seem to have a viable plan to stop the national economy from going into default. Instead of appearing to be the author of a last-ditch bill to prevent default, House Speaker John Boehner seems to me to resemble a political form of endangered species.


Last night, as the Republican House sent their proposed bill to the Senate, which was voted down within a short period of time, as expected. According to the Associated Press, those who voted the bill down included Republicans Justin Amash (Mich.), Michele Bachmann (Minn.), Jason Chaffetz (Utah), Jeff Duncan (S.C.), Tom Graves (Ga.), Tim Huelskamp (Kansas), Steve King (Iowa), Jim Jordan (Ohio), Connie Mack (Fla.), Mick Mulvaney (S.C.), Ron Paul (Texas), Steve Southerland (Fla.), and Joe Walsh (Ill.).


Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) states the Senate has a plan. The Senate now plans to strip Boehner's bill of its content and replace it with language crafted by Reid which, if it works, would be a compromise that would avoid default… maybe.


As the clock ticks down toward Tuesday's deadline, it still remains to be seen whether or not the Congress can avoid default. Some members of the Republican Tea Party members are going so far as to suggest that the government defaulting on their obligation to pay our nation's bills is badly overrated; that it would not create the pandemonium that some sources suggest. Nothing could be further from the truth according to economists. A default would be economic mayhem, and we, the People, would end up in serious financial hot water.


Meanwhile, back at the White House, it does seem my earlier observation, that President Barack Obama is playing chicken with Republicans. In chicken, there is only one winner.


We owe the money and we need to pay our bills, not default on them. Then we need to have a long talk about how to never get in this situation again. Of course, this is my opinion and mine alone. Yours may differ.



New transit system? Why not?

Good morning, Netizens…


The Spokane Transient Board, a hitherto thinly-disguised subset of our fine local government, has announced they are hot after building a new transient conveyance which ostensibly will cost approximately 36 million to build, subject to voter dissension, and will initially run from Browns Addition to Gonzaga with various stops in between. Although several different versions of the proposed public transit system have already been discussed by those-in-the-know, but not really brought before the voters, there is some question whether this will fly. However, an alternative proposed version of this system has come to light which I feel may merit some extra consideration by the voters.


Eschewing any other sources of power, such as diesel, LPG or even electrical buses, the new system which I propose will include horse-powered carriages quite similar to ones deployed at the turn of the century, with pairs of fine gray dobbins docilely traveling over the city streets.


Yes, indeed, the proposed new system will not only add new jobs to our deplorably lackluster local economy, but by carefully planting the hundreds of acres of vacant land owned by the city in timothy hay, the cost of feeding the teams of horses will be marginalized; they will eat hay locally-grown and locally-owned on 100's of acres of vacant city land that otherwise grows weeds and presently serve as contemptuous eyesores to the general public. Finally, we find a use for all that vacant city land!


Further cost savings will be achieved by putting city hall bureaucrats to work feeding and tending the horses which will become city employees, but with a novel twist: unlike present staff members, the horses will draw no income. I hereby nominate Joe Shogun to be in charge of mucking out the horse stalls since, with the next election, he will be looking for work.


The only pollution generated by this system would be the excretions of the horses, themselves. Of course, given the horse manure that comes out of City Hall these days, including the proposed new transient system, hardly anyone will notice a little horse manure on the city streets.


Who knows? This idea might catch on.



The Tea Party hits a tree…

Good morning, Netizens…


Here we go again, with another fanciful visitation to David Horsey's view of national politics. My God, as if we needed an excuse, given the divinely chaotic fracas over the National Debt! To most Americans, allowing the U.S. economy to default on its debts would be as unthinkable as the Republican Party to compromise. Wait a minute: are the Republicans even listening to American voters? Or do they see American voters as socialists?


Now simply to avoid any ambiguity, let us borrow the definition of the word socialism as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, shall we?


1: any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods


2: a system of society or group living in which there is no private property b : a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state


3: a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done


Now I left the links to the various definitions embedded in this quotation, also to avoid any ambiguity or confusion, with people disputing any facet of what socialism is or is not.


Now to be totally honest, I have not seen any overt signs that socialism has overtaken our form of government, with the possible exception of medical care. According to today's Horsey cartoon, the Tea Party members, on the other hand, insist, often with great vitriol, that President Barack Obama is a socialist, or at least that he is advocating socialist programs to the exclusion of normal democratic principles. I demur. Confusing President Obama with socialism simply is confusion in action. He is, in my opinion, an economic centrist, and it sounds as if the Tea Party, in their rush to label him a socialist, are about to drive our collective government economy over a cliff.


If we manage to screw this up, our entire republic is at risk.


Of course, your opinions and beliefs may differ from this view.



Tea Party crybabies want it all???

Good morning, Netizens…


Cartoonist David Horsey set off a political bonfire this morning with this cartoon of John Boehner being derailed by a Tea Party baby. Oh, Lord, there are so many ways to read this. After all, didn't the Tea Party members all get elected by promising on their honor to never raise taxes? While I am not a Tea Party advocate, I do find it unusual, even odd, that an elected official actually keeps their campaign promises, and it appears that is what they have done.


Of course, all Tea Party members and Republican wing-nuts might spend a few quiet moments in the corner thinking about what would happen if a national default were to take place.


There are many of us out here, who have faithfully paid into our Social Insecurity funds who stand to lose everything. This, of course, does not include Medicaid payments and those on military retirement who would stand to lose everything; that is simply unacceptable.


Are the Tea Party members saying they are willing to stop all funding for these?


I not only say no, I say Hell no! Of course, your results and opinions may differ.



Are we playing chicken here?

Good morning, Netizens…


Have you ever played chicken with another driver before? My personal high priestess of correct thinking always told me playing chicken was a total waste of resources, regardless of whether or not I won. I believe Harry Reed and the Republicans are now playing chicken with various portions of our entire economy. The House Speaker John Boehner even went so far as to hold a closed-door meeting with President Obama, and attained slightly more than nothing.


Boehner and Obama each took their verbal shots at one another in rare prime-time addresses to the nation last night. Obama stated, in part, “…once again, the economy will be held captive unless they get their way.” while Boehner countered with “The solution to this crisis is not complicated.” “If you’re spending more money than you’re taking in, you need to spend less of it.”


As the white picket fences on each side of the economic road fade into a blur over the next week, someone will have to compromise with their political counterparts or we will be facing certain financial disaster in the form of default, something both parties have stated would be a catastrophe.


In the age of the Internet and television, the two sides are moving faster and faster, but never flinching from the respective positions they espouse. They've both got their feet on their accelerators full-blast, their eyes locked firmly on the goals of politics and roaring toward one another.


Who will swerve at the last minute, thus avoiding certain economic breakdown? This is a game of chicken, remember?



Jack Garrett—a friend of many years…

Good morning, Netizens…


Here, courtesy of the Spokesman-Review, is the obituary of Jack Garrett:


Former wheat farmer and lifelong eastern Washington resident, Jack Stewart Garrett, passed away on July 21, 2011 after battling cancer for several years. Funeral services will be held on Sunday, July 24, 2011 at 2 pm St. Aloysius Roman Catholic Parish at 330 E. Boone Avenue, Spokane, WA. Jack was born on December 30, 1934 in Spokane, Washington to Forrest and Gretchen Garrett. Jack was the youngest of four children. He grew up in Spokane where he graduated from Lewis and Clark High School. He met the love of his life, Nancy Rae Bowen, while in high school and after graduating from high school, the two of them were married on December 26, 1953 at St. Aloysius. They moved to Endicott, Washington where they immediately began farming and having children. Jack was active in the Endicott community where he served for several years as the mayor, and he was on the board of directors of the Wheat Growers of Endicott. Jack was active in the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks where he served as the Exalted Ruler of the Colfax, Washington lodge. He was also a member of Tall Elks. He served in the National Guard. Jack faced the tragedy of the loss of his son, John, who died at the age of 28 as well as the loss of his grandson, Tyler, who died in infancy. After these tragedies and 32 years of farming, Jack and Nancy sold their farm and moved to Spokane. Jack and Nancy took cruises and enjoyed family and friends in retirement. While in Spokane, Jack developed his passion for Model A cars. He bought a 1932 Model A and enjoyed tinkering on the car for years. He joined the Model A Ford Club of America where he served as the treasurer of the local Inland Empire chapter. Jack enjoyed making hundreds of pounds of German and Italian sausage with family members and friends every December. He developed a group of close friends from the coffee “klatsch” he went to many mornings. Jack was a talker; always wanting to be around people to share stories and reminisce. He had the spirit of a teenager. Surviving are his cherished wife, Nancy; and four of his children: Marian and her husband David Fisher, Spokane, Michael and his partner Alan, Seattle, Kathleen and her husband Mark Richter, Endicott, and Steven and his partner Terry, Seattle; eight grandchildren, Gretchen, Joel, Lindsae, Kayla, Claire, Colson, Quinn, and Sabrina; and six great-grandchildren, Brigitta, Natalia, Analina, Francesca, Mackenzie, and Isabele. Family requests no flowers. Memorials are suggested to Cancer Care Northwest. On-line guest book is at


Rest in Peace my old friend…



The week in review…

Good morning, Netizens…


We have managed to survive for yet another week, as today is Friday. Our combined fortunes here in the Inland Northwest are as good as in the can, although various high-ranking Republicans and Democrats are still fighting like cats and dogs over our nation's finances in our far-off nation's capital. My solution for the unending imbroglio over taxes and spending is simple: turn off the damned air conditioners in Washington, D.C. until they fix the damned mess! Although I had written this long before 6:00 AM this morning, KXLY's morning weather forecaster Mark Peterson said pretty much the same thing. Put Republicans and Democrats in a crowded room in stifling 100 degree heat and leave them there until they work out something that works for everyone. Talk about working up a sweat. I call it justice.


At about 10:30 PM last night, just as we were settling down for the night, we heard a rush like a whirlwind whipping its way through the Virtual Garden, but when we both rushed to the windows to see what was the matter, we were astounded to discover a high-volume rainstorm dumping heavy rain like the predecessor to the Great Flood. Like most things in Spokane, however, the gusher only lasted a few minutes before it returned to a nice steady shower and finally fizzled out somewhere before midnight. The best (or worst) part is this mini-flood never even merited a mention in the morning weather forecast on any local TV news. I guess we don't have any of those high-tech, fast-talking meteorologists on duty at that hour of the night.


There wasn't any hail so although our fledgling tomato plants, cucumbers and strawberries were delighted with the moisture, no wounds were noted this morning. Depending upon how far the raging rain storm reached, the wheat farmers would probably be greatful for the rain, too. This morning a similar storm hit Northern Stevens County near Colville, and since that showed up on NEXRAD weather radar they made a big fuss of it, and so onward we march.


Of course, no mention of the events this week should exclude Borders Bookstore is closing their doors forever. It is time, my friends, to go examine the “sale prices” to see whether their sales truly exist. Maybe not.




Jack Garrett, personal friend to many, passes away…

Good evening, Netizens…


It is with a sad heart I note that today an old friend, ally and thousands of hours of homespun farm humor, most of which would be considered too risque for even Community Comment, has finally passed away this morning after many months of illness induced by a stroke and/or cancer. Jack Garrett, a retired farmer, computer aficionado and homespun philosopher had been a friend of mine for over 20 years, and an original member of the Phoenix newsgroup which I founded and maintained for over a decade.


Articulately profane in some of his stories, nearly all of which were swear-to-God-true, in his later years, Jack was forced by his deteriorating health, to sit staring at the television, watching movies or otherwise waiting for his many friends to come by for a visit. Still, he had a selection of earthy stories that, given only the slightest urging, could be told in a heartbeat.


At present, the time and location of his funeral or memorial are still in-process. Once I know the pertinent details I will post them.


I will truly miss him.



Who needs a crow whistle?

Good morning, Netizens…


Spokesman-Review columnist Doug Clark's story ( about a crow-calling device this morning did not quite live up to Hillyard standards because we have the genuine article right down the street. Pinky, a delightful old bat who lives down the street from the Virtual Ballroom has been calling a pair of crows by name for several months and feeding them bread crumbs on her front lawn each day.


Who needs a crow-calling wooden whistle when you have Heckle and Jeckle, two Hillyard crows, who seem to favor our neighborhood, perhaps because of this retired 90 year-old woman adorned in pink-colored hair who comes out daily armed with a bowl of shredded bread crumbs and calls them by name?


Nobody is certain how or when our neighbor first began calling the two crows Heckle and Jeckle, although several resident cartoon historians have been quick to point out the original Terrytoons Heckle and Jeckle cartoon characters were actually magpies, not crows, but that seems irrelevant when you consider the end result. The pair of crows, and oftentimes their friends and relatives show up calling for their breakfast until Pinky comes out and delivers their ration of bread crumbs.


On those rare occasions when our resident crow-caller shows up earlier than expected, all she has to do is call them by name, and they swoop out of the trees and march in imperious splendor across the grass to where their meals await them.


Although nobody has ever checked the crows to see they are indeed Heckle and Jeckle rather than crow-imposters, having witnessed this daily call to bread crumbs, where Pinky calls them by name, there is little doubt in anyone's mind that at least two of the crows are the genuine items. Of course, throughout the rest of the day, itinerant crows drop raucously by to check for any remaining crumbs so life is never dull in Hillyard.



Where does it end?

Good morning, Netizens…


Rupert Murdoch stands atop the news universe just like David Horsey's excellent cartoon this morning, and until its demise his News of the World pretty much reigned supreme.


If you really want to know how big the news conglomerate owned by Rupert Murdoch is, all you have to do is peruse this Wikipedia list:


There are some who are still asking why Murdoch shut down News of the World, and to them I say, the erosion probably isn't over yet, that the investigations into how this hacking of people and their privacy concerns is not over yet, by a long shot. Just how far does the damage reach? Are there any other Murdoch-owned properties suspect, even with News of the World shuttered? Although I cannot answer that question, this morning's David Horsey cartoon alludes to it, and perhaps rightfully so.


The obvious issue is the sanctity of journalism. Using hacking or other illegal means of subterfuge to obtain the news simply was not allowed in my day, nor I suspect of nearly any serious journalism students of my generation. Thinking back to the various editors I have worked for over the years, I cannot think of a single person who would have tolerated hacking into personal information as part of creating a news story. This isn't investigative journalism we are speaking here: this is a dangerous descent from the tacit rules of journalism

into uncontrolled violations of our personal privacy and thus should never be tolerated.


So how do you stop someone as incredibly powerful and wealthy as Rupert Murdoch from ever allowing such a travesty from happening again? Alas, were it as simple as a Star Wars scenario… Of course your thoughts and beliefs may differ.



Fixing the debt ceiling…

Good morning, Netizens…


Do you, or anyone you know, have an in-depth understanding of how the debt ceiling works? I guess that requires some understanding of how our economy works or is dysfunctional.


David Horsey's cartoon depicts one view of the budget impasse, but I admit there are perhaps as many solutions to the mess we've gotten our economy into as there are problems that cry out to be solved.


On one hand we have the multi-millionaires and billionaires who ostensibly pay less taxes on their incomes than lower-to-middle class do, all under the belief that “trickle-down” economies work. Lots of people, including some of the legislators, all seem to believe trickle-down works, but over history I have yet to see how it works in reality. Some of the above are the same people who export most of our jobs to foreign countries, and these nifty offshore schemes cry out among the loudest for taxation.


Then we have the debt ceiling itself. Raising it is tantamount to giving the teenagers, who cannot manage their own personal lines of credit a new credit card, forgiving all their past exorbitant spending habits so they can purchase the (enter device(s) they really, really NEED). The Tea Partiers, on the other hand, are saying, tear up the credit cards, give back the spendy cars and pay the debts you've already accumulated; LIVE WITHIN YOUR MEANS. There is something to be said for living within our collective means.


We have a lot of name-calling being done on both sides of the political aisle. The US is in financial straits right now with unemployment still far too high, banks and other corporations hoarding their profits, false foreclosures, raising rates where ever they can, condemning any and all attempts to put regulations back in place, and we have these so called republicans doing absolutely nothing but condemning everyone who sides up against them as socialists or even worse, terrorists.


Somehow, out there on the fringe of our national picture, we have to bring back the jobs we have exported to foreign shores and put Americans back to work. All you have to do is look at the row upon row of shuttered factories and plants across the country to see how far we collectively have fallen. It's time to close the loopholes that allowed this travesty to happen, to put hard-working American workers back to work, and put America back into its former role as the manufacturing leader of the world.


Judging by the economic malaise where America currently finds itself, it is my considered opinion we need to expediently get this straightened out. Then tax the hell out of those responsible, who have profited so handsomely for their role(s) in our current position, including some of our elected officials for some of them have profited for their roles in creating the loopholes to begin with.


It's time to put some polish on the old Liberty Bell, and to do that we need some good old-fashioned elbow grease, not political malingering. Of course, your results and beliefs may differ.



The daze of history marches onward…

Good morning, Netizens…


Holy cow, how did I miss this important calendar date in history?


On July 7, 1946, just six days after the test of a nuclear explosion in a South Pacific atoll named Bikini, French fashion designer Louis Reard introduced a swimsuit of the same name, hoping that the new outfit would cause a similarly explosive reaction. It's fair to say that he succeeded. “The new 'Bikini' swimming costume (in a newsprint-patterned fabric) … caused a sensation at a beauty contest at the Molitor swimming pool in Paris,” the caption reads. “… Reard was unable to find a 'respectable' model for his costume and the job of displaying it went to 19-year-old Micheline Bernardini, a nude dancer from the Casino de Paris. She is holding a small box into which the entire costume can be packed.”


While he was at it, he completely changed the face of fashion design at the beaches of the world. Of course after the worldwide acceptance of the bikini came the appearance of the thong for men, which only further complicated life on the beach.


Of course, your 90 year-old Aunt Tillie probably would not dare to don such scanty pieces of cloth, even in her prime, but then again, perhaps she would. Beach riots have started for less things, you know.


Have you ever stopped to consider how the bikini has forever altered American beaches and through that, American mores? There are some bodies that are made for bikinis and thongs, and then there are some bodies that at least should not wear them in public, my aging fat-body included.



A travesty of justice? It seems so…

Good morning, Netizens…


Casey Anthony was found not guilty of the murder of her daughter, Caylee, yesterday. She was, however, found guilty of four counts of giving false testimony to police. I cannot, for the life of me, understand how the prosecutors in this case let this case go to the jury in such a state of disorder, never having established for the court just how Caylee died, much less tie her mother, Casey, to how she died. Was Caylee's death a murder? Once again, the prosecution left the jury and members of the court hanging out to dry, with no clear definition given how young Caylee died.


What further complicates matters are the allegations that Casey Anthony partied with her friends during the time Caylee was missing, not to mention she neglected to tell anyone that her daughter was missing for thirty days. That certainly adds the appearance of the guilt of Casey Anthony to the mix of this case.


Casey Anthony's tearful appearance during the latter parts of the trial notwithstanding, regardless of how photogenic her appearance was to the members of the mass media, someone is lying about how much they know about two year-old Caylee Anthony met her end, and they truly need to be brought before the court and forced to testify. Unfortunately, that never happened and now probably never will.


What is yet to be determined is how much longer Casey Anthony will be jailed. If her lawyers had truly been on their game(s) yesterday, the minute Casey was found not guilty of the various charges of murder, they should have immediately petitioned the court to set bail on the four charges of lying to investigators, misdemeanors all, yet another strange anomaly in a case swimming with other anomalies. Although Casey Anthony will be sentenced on these charges tomorrow, it does appear possible that she could be cut loose from jail on time served.


Sadly, there are no further solutions to this mess; young Two year-old Caylee Anthony never will have a chance at life that she deserved. Her mother probably will skate away with only the misdemeanors still on her record and perhaps even return to her party lifestyle without a backward glance. There are more unanswered questions than there are answers. This is not the way justice is supposed to be meted out.


Of course, as always, your results may differ.



The Fourth of July in the rear view mirror…

Good morning, Netizens…


Happy Birthday, America! Although for the life of me, I seriously question how many Americans will be paying attention to anything other than the rocket's boom and red glare, most of them in various places throughout the Spokane area, some in their back yards. Judging by the window-rattling booms and an occasional aerial blast July 3rd , one might have thought July 4th came a bit early but perhaps your results may have been different. In Hillyard, the place where the city never sleeps, blasts were still going off at three o'clock this morning, July 5th .


Some, not all of the mainstream news media, ostensibly serving public good by their coverage of this auspicious holiday, have been largely ignoring any content bearing any semblance of meaning to July 4th as they have spent more time focusing on the travels of Prince William and Kate Middleton and various other news stories unrelated to our shared history as a nation.


However, if for nothing else, the Fourth of July is most-notably about food. Egods we collectively put on a gastronomic feast each year around the Fourth. Out come the burgers, brauts, hot dogs, steak, chicken, beans and potato salad. We eat until we are stuffed to the gills, and then lay beneath the trees in the shade where some fall asleep.


Aside from the fireworks shows, perhaps the biggest part of July 4th are the endless festivities in Riverfront Park. For the small stipend of a registration fee, I believe you can hock, sell or otherwise pawn off your doddering Aunt Wilhelmina in Riverfront Park. Perhaps ten thousand people will show up to see and perhaps even bid on your aging aunt, and if such an event actually were to take place, I probably would have to be in attendance just to see how the bidding went. Of course we don't really have anything like that here in Spokane. All we have are the same listless bunch of politicians attempting to get elected and a few entrepreneurs willing to try their hands at public office.


Yes, with July 4th in the rear view mirror, we still have a lot to look forward to this summer, the least of which we actually enjoying summer weather as we should.



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