Friday, October 29, 2004

On Stopping Terrorism

Both the presidential contenders are spewing rhetoric about "hunting down and killing the terrorists." Mr. Bush, I assume, is professing what he really believes. Mr. Kerry is attempting to court the "eye-for-an-eye" vote. It’s a shame that neither candidate is willing to concede that there is more, much more, to dealing with 21st century terrorism than sallying forth all over the world, hunting down and killing anyone with terrorist notions. Haven’t we seen with our own eyes that this is not the thing to do?

Think back to the movie Fantasia. The segment where Mickey Mouse is portrayed as "The Sorcerer’s Apprentice." He charms a broom into carrying water pails for him, then falls asleep. You know the rest…Mickey awakes to find himself ankle deep in water that the broom has fetched. He tries and tries to "disenchant" the broom. Finally, he resorts to hacking it apart with an axe. He’s dusting off his hands and walking away, when every sliver of the broom starts to vibrate, stand upright, and then turn into a clone of the broom itself, each with two buckets, each malevolently dipping water and heaving it into the cistern in the sorcerer’s cavern, until a tidal wave overwhelms Mickey and washes him away. Think of the broom as the terrorists. Think of Mickey as the US Government—or any agency that pits itself against the terrorist network. Israel comes to mind…

When Ariel Sharon came to power almost four years ago, he instituted a policy of violence for violence. For every spectacular suicide bombing on a bus or in a market in Israel, Sharon would order a military strike against Palestinian targets. Ostensibly focusing on neighborhoods or buildings where terrorists were quartered. The Sharon years have fostered nothing but a continuing escalation of the violence between Israel and the Palestinians. More and more "collateral" damage as the desperate Palestinians and the stalwart Israelis battle to the death.

In short, the violence doesn’t work. Retribution blows up in your face. An attempt to kill the terrorists begets two, or twelve, or twenty, for every one slain. Who then take four, or four hundred, or four thousand more lives in their quest for "paradise." Is this an effective policy? Is it the way to end the killing?

Revenge. Violence for violence. Revenge feels so good. It feels so right. So righteous. Especially when surveying the bodies of thousands of Americans, violently murdered at their desks, or in their airline seats. Or rushing to the aid of their fellow citizens. Innocent, peaceful people, snuffed out with no warning on a sunny September morning three years ago.

We have to make the hard choice. Have to concede that these people, these innocent loved ones, are gone. There is no bringing them back. The murderers, the ones that held the guns, looked into their eyes and pulled the triggers, were incinerated along with their victims. The network that spawned them has sunk deep underground. We can’t just storm all over the globe and "kill" the terrorists. And if we could, what would that solve? Our focus needs to be on the four hundred or four thousand or four million possible future victims. How do we prevent them from becoming victims? How do we save their lives?

The answer is…I don’t know. All I know is, we’ve tried violence. We’ve tried murder. We’ve tried "an eye for an eye." We’ve even gone so far as to invade a country halfway across the world just because it was halfway across the world—as far as possible from our precious shores--and was home to the same ethnic group as the people responsible for the terrorist incident perpetrated on our home soil. Just to appease our overwhelming hunger for revenge. It’s time, now, to take a step back and consider what our next move must be. Research the root causes of the terrorist movement. Try to change the culture of hopelessness and violence that causes people to glorify the unknown of death over the certainty of a miserable life. Quit searching for the "instant fix" that will turn out to be anything but. And, above all, stop the killing. What other way is there to put an end to the ever-escalating cycle of violence?

A Day of Rest

I just had to step away from the election hoopla for a day.  Had to take a day to "have a life."  My two cousins are in town from Chicago...they came out to visit my Mom on her 82nd birthday (which we celebrated at a yucky little rinky-dink restaurant in Eugene last night, by Mom's request...bleah!)  Anyway, the cousins arrived in Portland on Wednsday afternoon.  Freak weather in the Columbia valley Wednesday was actually clear enough to see the lunar eclipse.  We watched it unfold over Multnomah Channel and Sauvie Island as we drove back into Portland for dinner Wednesday night.

Yesterday, we drove down Interstate 5 to Eugene.  Of course, the weather couldn't cooperate for two days in a row, so it was chilly, drizzly, and misty.  We didn't let that stop us from carrying through with our plan to stop at a winery that is just off the freeway south of Salem.  After all, it was literally ON the way down, and wine-tasting is an all-weather activity!

The picture above is of the view from the tasting-room deck, the vines voicing a last shout of color before dropping into their winter snooze.  Too bad the light wasn't right.  But if I waited for optimum conditions before taking pictures of anything in Oregon in the fall, I'd not have any pictures at all!

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

...Ad Infinitum

Robbie commented on my last entry:  "Your counter-arguments are so well thought out and expressed so succinctly, I am amazed that any of them have the cajones to respond to you."
Ah, but respond they do.  Deeper and deeper into the Republican spin.  In fact, I think there are arguments here that even the official Republican Spin Machine would find novel...

The world and the Iraq's are better off with out Sadaam in power.

Watch the news. Look at the pictures of the Iraqi dead. Look at the videos of people in orange jumpsuits begging for their lives. (Think about it for a minute...what did they have to do to those people to get them to beg like dogs for the video cameras? Would you, or your wife, or your son, perform like that for your kidnappers, unless you had been tortured to insensibility?) Had we not attacked Iraq, these things would NOT be happening.

Let me give you an analogy. The Japanese attacked us at Pearl Harbor but yet we declared war on Germany. With what your saying we should have never went to war against Hitler and thousands of life's would have been spared and the people of France would be speaking German today.

The actual sequence of events here was that we declared war on Japan because of the Pearl Harbor attack, and Germany, being Japan's ally, then declared war on us.
Hitler and Sadaam Hussein have absolutely nothing to do with each other. By the time we got around to Hitler, he had most of continental Europe under his thumb and was going after Great Britain. He had powerful, ruthless allies in the Japanese. Nothing Sadaam had or did even approaches Hitler's power or evil. It's been sixty years since Hitler's demise, and we still use him as the yardstick by which we measure the evil of any head of state. And if we want to completely demonize someone, we say how much like Hitler he is. I doubt that, sixty years from now, or even six, anyone is going to use Sadaam in the same way.

Your hate for George Bush clouds your thinking,Like I sent to you earlier its OK when a Democrat goes to war but wrong when a Republican goes to war. A passive approach to terrorism will put us back in those Clinton years.

Bill Clinton was not passive. I remember vividly, during his second administration, when things were getting hot and heavy with the scandal and impeachment issues, that every time Clinton proposed military response to anything, the "other side" accused him of trying to start a war in order to take the focus off the Monica problem. You can't have it both ways, though I know Mr. Clinton's critics were famous for that...

Mr. Clinton did NOT wage a pre-emptive war in Bosnia. He lent U.S. backing, power and credibility to the forces that were fighting the ethnic cleansing in the region. That is a far, far cry from what Mr. Bush has done in Iraq. If you want to talk about comparing apples and oranges, this would be an example of exactly that.

I'll say it again...if you think Mr. Bush has done a good job, vote for him. It's not that I hate George Bush. I'm sure he's a perfectly nice man. I hate what he has done. I don't have to arm myself with anyone's political spin to make my personal judgment of his performance in office, and find him sadly and direly wanting.

You;ve already voted, now let the rest us have a chance

I've never once told you how to vote. In fact I've repeatedly told you to cast your vote for President Bush if he is your choice. Arguably half the people in the country see things the way you do, and are going to vote for Mr. Bush. I can't stop them. I know it's useless to try.

But I have felt compelled to rebut some of the Republican spin included in your emails, if only to point it out as exactly that---spin. Politics. "Stretching the truth." Making the details of any situation line up to reflect badly upon your opponent and favorably upon you. Both parties

are guilty of this. It's what politics are all about in this day and age, and I hate it. I hate that our marvelous, precious right to vote in this country is poisoned by this malicious bull****. I hate that the American public responds so readily to it. I hate that we, the citizens of the United States of America, are SO ready to fight each other that we will beat each other over the heads with everything from politics, to religion, to what we ate for breakfast this morning.

Let's start with 1998 Desert Fox, a Mr Bill offensive to rid Saddam of his WMDs The press played it to get the focus off of Monica ( which our President stated "oral sex isn't really sex" explain that one to my then 12 year old boy)

If President Clinton had had his way, none of this would ever have been made public. It was the Republicans that endlessly dug and dug until they dug it up, and the press that paraded it so relentlessly in front of the public. I really don't think you can blame Mr. Clinton for that.

You will also note that I refer to the president as "Mr. Bush" "President Bush" or at my most disrespectful, "Bush." I believe that the office of president deserves respect. No matter who is in it. Or was in it.


Now lets talk about the UN and Bosina and the forces that Clinton lead into there. What is there Exit stratogy. Oh thats right, there isn't any that's why were still there. Lets look at the UN and the Exit stratogy in Korea. Oh thats right there isn't any where still there. At least we have one in Iraq. Get them a Democracy retrain there military so they can defend themsellves and the we can leave. Send in the UN as Kerry wants and we have Bosina and Korea all over again.

Exit strategy? Exit strategy? "Get them a Democracy?" You can't "get" someone a democracy. One of the fundamental rights of any country is to choose its own form of government. What would be our reaction if a foreign power invaded us in order to "get" us whatever form of government they believed in?

"Retrain their military?" Well, that's obviously going very well, judging by the field full of dead bodies the other day.

Your reasoning WAY oversimplifies the situation. Assuming the administration's exit strategy DOES include "getting them a democracy and retraining their military," at the rate it's going, this could take years. Decades. And WAY more people than the administration currently has invested in Iraq. Draft, anyone?

You got to be kidding on the draft issue. It was a democrate in the Senate that proposed a draft. The Iraqies will be voting for the first time in Jan. The demoracy is almost there. Just like John Kerry your always looking at the negative instead of the good things that are going on. Like you said if you think John Kerry can do a better job vote for him.

And so I will.


I’ve been doing some of my best (in my opinion) writing the past few days. Somehow, a political email campaign got started among the members of my husband’s family (you’ve already read the wonderful contribution of his sister, Mary, which I printed a few days ago.) I’m going to put the texts of the letters I have written in response here in my journal, just because I think I’ve made several valid points, and, well, I just like the way they came out! I don’t want all that great prose to disappear into "sent mail" oblivion... In response to:
"John Kerry doesn't want war period. That is a wonderful thought, in a perfect world.. that is not our reality of today."
A perfect world? No, not yet. But we had better start looking upon that as our goal, or there may well be no world at all...

I truly fear what another four years of a George W. Bush administration would mean to this country and the world. The next regime he chooses to topple might well have more dangerous weapons at its disposal with which to punctuate its demise. Are we willing to take that chance? Apparently, President Bush is. How many thousands, perhaps millions, will die--possibly in the wink of an eye--in the next war our president starts?

Have we forgotten what the risks of twenty-first century war really are? When only the superpowers were in possession of the most deadly weapons, they performed a complicated dance to keep from using them to destroy all human life on the planet. Many of these weapons still exist, and more and more smaller nations are joining the ranks of nuclear players. Can we guarantee that a nation like North Korea, under attack by the most "powerful" country on earth, will not "push the button," because they really have nothing to lose? They may lack the technology to get their bomb all the way to the continental United States, but they could certainly lob it at someone---like South Korea. Are we willing to sacrifice millions of lives somewhere in the world, just because they are not American lives?

Or are we going to be careful only to attack nations we are certain have no nuclear capability?

John Kerry's attitude toward war was formed by war. By being the man behind the gun. By being the man in the sights of the enemy's gun. Some Viet Nam vets hate John Kerry. They have that right. They earned it the same way he earned his right to voice his opposition to the war in which they all fought. But the armchair warriors that now paint Mr. Kerry's post-Vietnam actions as cowardice and disrespect have no idea what they are talking about, and no right to pin any negative labels on him.

A man of John Kerry's experience, in my opinion, is eminently more qualified to be a "War President" than our current commander-in-chief. Simply because he believes that every alternative to war must be rigorously investigated before a chief executive dons that mantle. And, if unavoidable, then it must be worn with the utmost solemnity and sense of grave responsibility. President Bush has not demonstrated a deep understanding of what is at stake when a nation follows the path to war. He smiles, and jokes, and peeks under the table for the WMDs that haven't been found in Iraq. Not appropriate. Not funny. Not the way the "Leader of the Free World" may behave.

I don't expect to sway anyone's vote with my opinion. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, and every one must vote according to what they believe in their hearts. I simply want to remind everyone what is really at stake when we talk about war in the world today.
In response to:

"John Kerry did volunteer, only because his deferment was rejected."

Would like to know your source for this information... Seems to me that one does not sign up for a six-year hitch, then request dangerous combat duty in Viet Nam, get wounded three times, and win several medals, if one has only signed up to avoid being drafted. That just doesn't make sense.
And even if it is true that he enlisted to avoid being drafted, what difference does that make? Thousands of men of the time did the same. Would you disparage and discount the sacrifice, bravery, and commitment of all such men? Or only Mr. Kerry, because he fulfilled his commitment, then came back to this country and protested the war based on his personal experience? Again, thousands of men did the same. They earned the right to protest by virtue of what they went through in combat, in battle, face to face with the enemy. Every veteran, of any war, is forever changed by what he or she has seen and experienced. Anyone who has not lived through that same experience is not qualified to judge them.
Do you know who Carl Rove is? Do you know that one of his political credos is to "Attack an opponent's strength?" This is the garbage pile from which all this smut has been thrown at John Kerry's service record. It's political spin. Cast your vote for President Bush if you truly believe he is the leader you want to see in the White House, but don't base your decision upon the manipulation of facts---by either party.

"Comparing Vietnam to Iraq is apples and oranges.." Viet Nam War. Iraq War. It's war. People killing other people in the name of religion, race hatred, political gain, patriotism, "get-them-before-they-get-us..." The most violent of man's instincts unleashed against fellow men. All looks like apples to me.   "You state that G. W. had lied to the America people before the war but JOhnKErry stated the same things. The distortions comming from the left are out of hand just as you distort the facts in your e-mails. Sorry if this sounds nasty but I want to go on record that you can't lead a country in a war when you state time and time again that it's the wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time. His whole career hes been anti war and on the wrong side of the issues." Mr. Bush did lie and continues to lie to the American people about the reasons for attacking Iraq. The "excuse" we made for going to Iraq in the first place was to find WMD's. Now that it has been established that these do not exist, he presents the Iraq war to the American people as a sojourn to "stop the terrorists before they can get to our shores." Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney repeat and repeat this lie...every day, several times a day. And their carefully-assembled crowds of supporters swallow the whole bait...hook, line, and sinker.

The Bush administration tried from the outset to make attacking Iraq about hunting down terrorists, but, try as they might, they couldn't come up with a credible link between Sadaam and the terrorists who were responsible for 9/11. So they picked up the "WMD" banner, stormed across the ocean, and skewered the Iraqi people with it. In the end, President Bush and Mr. Cheney have succeeded in making the Iraq war about terrorism. Let me ask you this...most of the terrorists who carried out the 9/11 attack were Saudis. Osama bin Laden is Saudi. Why have we not attacked Saudi Arabia? Because the Saudis are our "friends." With friends like that, who needs enemies? The political, economic, and societal ties between our country and the countries of the Middle East are complicated and tenuous. And they all revolve around oil. Mr. Bush had an axe to grind against Sadaam Hussein, and he used the American public's shock and horror at the 9/11 attacks to advance his own agenda. He knew that a large and loud enough portion of the electorate would jump on the bandwagon of attacking some Middle Eastern nation--it really didn't matter which one--waving their American flags and slobbering for revenge. This is inexcusable. And now---the situation in Iraq is a hideous mess. People have died, and are dying every day, because our president chose to attack a country that had nothing to do with bringing down the World Trade Center. Did you see the pictures of the new Iraqi soldiers who were butchered by insurgents? Did you hear the voice of the kidnapped humanitarian woman pleading for her life? The Bush administration bears sole responsibility for these and a thousand other horrors.

Beyond all the ugly spin--lies, distortions, call them what you will--put out by the political strategists of both parties, the only thing one can do this election is take a look at the President's performance over the past four years. If you think he has done well, as many people do, and you believe he deserves another four years, vote for him. If you believe, as many of us do, that he is beyond a doubt the worst and most dangerous president we've seen in OUR lifetimes, vote for "regime change." It's really as simple as that.

Monday, October 25, 2004

The War President

The election train is careening toward the terminal. As much as it picks up staggering speed, and increases in volume toward an unbelievable crescendo, the hype express will come to an abrupt and silent rest in a little more than a week. Sounds too good to hope for, doesn’t it?

This evening, our local Public Broadcasting station showed snippets of today’s stumping speeches by both candidates. I wasn’t necessarily inspired by what Mr. Kerry had to say… He was doing okay until he said that he would continue a policy of hunting down and killing terrorists wherever they were, anywhere in the world. It sounded too much like an attempt to show that he could be as mindlessly aggressive as our current head of state.  Gotta court that "Rambo" vote... 

Our president and commander-in-chief stood in front of a carefully selected audience, spouting about how right and just it is to take war to terrorist nations. (I’m assuming he meant Iraq…I suppose he believes if he just keeps repeating that terrorists came from Iraq, that will make it true.) And how "his opponent" thinks that terrorists are somehow less dangerous if you don’t aggravate them (actually, if "his opponent" had really said that, I would think "his opponent" had a point…) The folks in the audience crowed encouragement and "amens," and properly booed and cursed whenever "his opponent" was mentioned. I couldn’t tell whether I was watching some demented sports contest, or a sermon by a fire-and-brimstone evangelist. All those people, shouting and shaking their fists above their heads, vigorously and vehemently defending…no, not just defending, sanctifying… our sovereign right to kill large numbers of other human beings, lay their lands to waste, and utterly destroy the lives of any not killed outright. A nightmare.

Terrorists. The terrorists came here. Brought the fight to our shores. Now we need to start marching all over the world, wherever these terrorists could be hiding, and KILL them before they attack again. I’ve got news for you. The terrorists are here. They have been here for quite some time. Long enough to plan and launch an operation like September 11th. And don’t fool yourselves that we have somehow neutralized the threat that existed in 2001. We only just this past summer—almost three years after the fact—finished putting together a "report" on the governmental failures and malfunctions that produced the climate conducive to such an attack. Congress will mull over the report and get back to us with what they plan to do about it…after the election. Meanwhile, our anemic military is being thinly spread across the world, in a purely political bid to make our president look like he’s fighting tooth and nail to prevent the next attack by killing the terrorists before they get to our shores. The one person whose involvement in the toppling of the twin towers is an undeniable fact, is Osama bin Laden. Where is he, Mr. President? Why haven’t you brought us his head on a platter?

At first, I thought, "What a childish, irresponsible way for a head of state to act!" But then I wondered, do we actually let our children get away with this kind of behavior? Can you picture it? "Johnny, why did you hit Billy? You know you’re not allowed to hit other children." "But Mom, he hit me first." "Oh. Okay…go kick the snot out of him."

And if you can’t find him, go blow up the neighborhood where you think he lives.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Valuable Debate

I know I stated a couple of entries ago that I had made up my mind to be a single-issue voter this year. Since writing that, I received a couple of emails dealing with another issue concerning the Bush administration. The first quote was the catalyst for the second. The rebuttal was researched and written by my sister-in-law, Mary Martin, who is a CPA, mother of three, practicing Catholic, and lives in the heartland.

"False: Social Security Privitiazed.. Bush wants young people to take a third of SS to invest on their own. I think it odd, that the elders are so concerned about the deficit to our children, while at the same time holding their hands out because they deserve it. come on, I thought Algore was supposed to rid us of those $85.00 hammers..guess not. We can't support the growing numbers. I am in the baby boomer range, yet now I have to wait until I am 67 to claim benefits."


"Let me address Social Security today. Since 1985 (could be 1984, sorry, I left my research at home), Social Security taxes collected have been more than Social Security benefits paid. But because of budget deficits, this "surplus" in Social Security has been used to reduce the deficit in the general budget. During the last administration, our deficits were turned to surpluses. The theory was to continue with this budget surplus, thereby having the funds available to "pay back" amounts that were "borrowed" from the fund in prior years, and have the money available to pay the benefits promised. Now, with our $400,000,000+ annual deficit, thats no longer possible.

About a month ago, Newt Gingrich wrote an editorial in the St. L. Post-Dispatch touting the plan to establish private accounts for younger workers as the means to save the system. This plan allows younger workers to take a portion of their Social Security taxes and invest it in private accounts. Here's my problem with that theory: if $X is not going to be enough to pay benefits, how can $X - $Y possibly be enough? And with these huge deficits, there's no extra money to divert to paying benefits due to our present and future retirees. The beauty of Social Security has always been sharedrisk, shared benefit. If private investment is such a good idea (and I do not disagree with that), I would be in favor of allowing the government to invest the Social Security surplus in the private sector. Current law does not allow this. If the SS surpluses since the mid-eighties had been invested well, we wouldn't even be having this conversation.

"The News Hour on PBS did a very good job of describing this situation in a clear, easy to understand manner. I refer you to Try to listen to the segment, rather than just reading the text, if you can. I found it extremely disturbing to learn that the "lock box" is simply a file cabinet filled with IOUs, and that our national debt is close to exceeding our national net worth.

"The fiscal irresponsibility of the present administration takes my breath away. Giving away the surplus is one thing, although, as I pointed out earlier, that surplus would have averted a crisis in Social Security for many years. But to have a further tax cut, to charge a lower tax rate in dividend income, is the incomprehensible to me. (In my mind, it's like you or I saying, "Well, this year is going to be expensive. Our oldest is off to college, I need surgery and will be off work for 3 months, and the shed blew down during the last storm. So I think I'll ask my boss for a reduction in pay and live off credit cards.") I have heard that 2/3 of our present deficit is due to the tax cuts passed during this administration."

I love well-presented arguments researched and written by people who know what they are talking about. As I said before, the practical, fiscal wrangling of the campaign literally makes my head spin. I have no head for things like that. This put one aspect of the Bush Administration's failure into terms that I could understand. I'm posting it here in hopes that it will prove a similar help to others.

Our One-Day Vacation

To my mind, Western Oregon is the perfect place to live. Our home is only a twenty-minute drive from Portland---a city of ideal size for someone like me, who wants access to the cultural and economic advantages of a large population center, but is totally intimidated by cities the size of New York or Los Angeles (though I grew up 20 miles outside the city of Chicago.) On the flip-side of that, we are also only an hour or two drive from some of the most beautiful country in the continental United States. To the west, Oregon’s endless stretches of sandy beaches are the stuff of legend. An hour in the other direction puts you halfway to the sky among the peaks, hills, and canyons of the Cascade Mountains—a land colored with every imaginable shade of green, set to the tune of cold, rushing water. Our one-day vacation took us east, to Silver Falls State Park. It’s the largest state park in Oregon, and its star attraction is a warren of hiking, biking, and horse trails that traverse a treasure map of 10 waterfalls along the north and south forks of Silver Creek. In ten-minute hikes from the trail head parking areas, we were able to get up close and personal with three of those falls.

Oregon’s state parks also abound in rustic architecture provided by the WPA and the CCC of the Roosevelt administration. I swear, half of Oregon was built by the CCC. Many of the bridges along Highway 101 on the coast were erected by that crew, as well as historic buildings on state and federal lands, such as Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood, Crater Lake Lodge, and the lodge, and several other buildings, at Silver Falls. The huge hewn beams and fantastic rustic woodwork that are the hallmark of these places are custom made to create an instant connection to nature, the forest, the wildlife…and the past. I can’t get enough of these buildings.


On our one decent day of vacation in the park, we stopped at the lodge for lattes, cookies, muffins, and a welcoming fire on a chilly, dampish day. Then, bowing to my brother-in-law’s heart issues, we took a few short, yet precipitous hikes to experience the waterfalls. And "experience" is the word. Both the South and North Falls have walking trails that lead into deep crags behind the falls, giving hikers the unique and lovely experience of watching the water cascade over the edge from "inside." The thundering water is as hypnotic as ocean waves.


The trails to the falls meander through low Cascade rain forests. The layers upon layers of fauna that thrive in the damp, temperate environment are a marcro photographer’s dream. Every step brings a new temptation to crouch, focus, and click. I took over 100 shots in a couple hours’ time (and I was surprised that my memory card would hold them all!) And then I had to whittle it down to the 30 best when we got back to camp and I downloaded them to my laptop.

We set ourselves a deadline of 3pm to be back at camp to shower and dress. Then we were off to town to search for the perfect place for our anniversary dinner. We started to worry a bit when the only restaurants we could identify as we cruised through town were fast food, bars, or taquerias. Dressed in my skirt and high-heeled boots, I was having flashbacks to the jolly Valentine’s Day dance back in February. But several locals pointed us in the direction of the "Rose of Sharon," a wonderful old Victorian home that has been fashioned into a dinner house. We arrived on the front porch shortly after they had opened for dinner, and we were shown to an intimate dining room at the back of the house, complete with a cozy fire dancing in the fireplace, and Victorian lace and brick-a-brack by the crateful. Our early arrival made us the only patrons in the place for almost our entire meal. We felt as if we were having a private party catered especially for us. I wish I had taken more pictures of the place, but I feel a little odd whipping out my camera on the way to be seated for dinner. (It was strange enough that my sister and I spent several minutes swapping cameras to make sure we both ended up with pictures of ourselves snuggling up to our respective husbands in our romantic, personal little dining room.) The meal was thoroughly enjoyable. It couldn’t have been more perfect if I had planned it weeks ahead of time.

That was Saturday. To make a long story (and vacation) short, Sunday dawned with rain pouring out of the sky by the bucketful. Sister and husband departed for home Sunday afternoon, and husband and I managed to entertain ourselves with the little television and DVD player we had brought along for just such an eventuality. However, when Monday morning came along with no end to the hideous weather in sight, and forecasts over the radio warning of snow above 4000 feet in the hills, and storms and high winds at the beach, we gave it up and headed for home. Ah, well, it was a nice vacation, however brief! Did I say Oregon was perfect?

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

THE Issue This November

Within the next couple of days, I will find a cozy place to snuggle up with my Oregon Voters’ Pamphlets and my mail-in ballot. I will study the pamphlets, make my decisions on the smaller issues that I have not yet reviewed, mark my ballot and send it off. And be done with it. If only my sending off my vote would end the incessant barrage of spin, sniping, name-calling and pure fantasy by both camps.

Upon the biggest issue, I have already made my choice. For President of the United States, I will place my vote for John Kerry. I’ve heard the spin coming from both camps…you’d have to have been living in a cave in Tibet for the last year NOT to have heard it. I freely acknowledge that the information coming from either side is collected and distributed in a way to make that party appear to be God’s gift to the civilized world. It is mostly organic fertilizer, with very little regard for truth.

Domestic policy, fiscal policy, stance on Medicare, tax and spend, spend and spend…in the long run, there is little difference between the parties on these issues. I’m of the opinion that the economy does NOT live or die by which party occupies the White House. Spin these issues all you want. They REALLY make no difference.

What DOES make a difference is this: George W. Bush led our country halfway across the world to invade a small, relatively helpless (in the face of a vastly superior United States military) nation, for reasons most of the rest of the world found so flimsy that they not only wouldn’t participate in a "coalition" to invade Iraq, but condemned the United States for invading. Thousands of people have died, and a country has been reduced to anarchy, if not civil war, because our president wanted to invade it. For reasons, I suspect, that had little to do with hunting down terrorists, seeking out weapons of mass destruction, or helping a suppressed people fling off the bondage of a megalomaniac dictator—the "flavor of the month" reasons put forth by the administration as each previous reason was proven untenable. We know that Mr. Bush was seeking reasons to attack Iraq almost from the moment he took office, well before the 9/11 attacks. He WANTED to make a war. And he did.

This is not the way that the "Leader of the Free World" may behave. He may not put our nation into the position of being the Bully of the Free World. He may not appoint himself "savior" and go off to topple regimes all over the globe which do not subscribe to our chosen form of government. Is this not the tactic for which the Soviet Union and Communist China have been roundly condemned by the rest of the world, with ours being the loudest voice of condemnation? Why is it permissible for US to do what the rest of the world may not? Because we currently have the biggest gun and the brass balls to aim it at anyone we choose?

The Bush administration is solely responsible for the travesty in Iraq. Not one iota of blame for this can be laid at the feet of the previous administration, the other party, the Baathists, Osama bin Laden, the Red Menace, or the devil. Any other issue debated during this campaign has simply been an attempt to sidestep this ONE. George W. Bush is the author of unspeakable horror in Iraq. If ever there was a legitimate reason to become a single-issue voter, this is it. He does not deserve another four years in office, based on this issue alone. Not only that, but I truly fear what another four years of a George W. Bush administration would mean to this country and the world. The next regime he chooses to topple might well have more dangerous weapons at its disposal with which to punctuate its demise. Are we willing to take that chance? Apparently, President Bush is. How many thousands, perhaps millions, will die—possibly in the wink of an eye—in the next war our president starts?

The Vacation That Wasn't

Vacation was aborted. Weather turned suddenly ultra-foul. Storms on the coast, snow in the hills, and deluges of rain everywhere else, as far south as San Diego. Nowhere to go within a reasonable drive to get away from it, sooo…we packed up camp and headed home. Rather sit in front of my warm pellet stove in my own cozy family room than be holed up in an 8 x 16 foot trailer with husband and dog. Dog is pissed. She KNOWS we promised her the beach. We did get ONE DAY of decent vacation on Saturday. Will post story and pix later this evening…

Friday, October 15, 2004

Let's Just DO It...

AOL News Reports:

Cheneys Angered by Kerry Mention of Daughter

Should Family be Off Limits?

Oh, absolutely. As long as it’s the family of the incumbents. And as long as the incumbents are Republicans.



Is anybody else REALLY ready to vote and get this mess over with?




Thursday, October 14, 2004

Hide the Volcano

So, this is a picture of what you can see of Mt. St. Helens' volcanic activity from up in the hills high above Scappoose.  Pretty exciting, eh?  NOT.

Ever since we moved here three and a half years ago, I've fantasized about how cool it would be if St. Helens started to rumble again.  I figured we had front row seats.  Well, that just shows you how much I know.  Our view of Mt. St. Helens is of the back side of the mountain.  The outside of the highest edge of the crater wall.  Which hides from our view all the cool stuff that is going on inside.  On the best days, this is what we see...a kind of smudgy cloud trailing away from the top of the mountain. How bummed am I?

Tomorrow afternoon we leave on our camping sojourn into the wilds of Western Oregon.  I hope to have some great pictures to share when we get back.  More exciting than this one, anyway!



Tuesday, October 12, 2004


Is it an Imperial Storm Trooper?  Is it a preview of "Ghostbusters:  The Final Chapter?"  Is it Jason, posing with his new weapon of choice (a Swiffer)?'s the husband decked out for his latest foray into the dining room door project... 

Monday, October 11, 2004

Still Kickin'...

No, I didn’t go throw myself off the neighbors’ roof to protest his tree-massacre—in case you were wondering. We had an event this past weekend—the "Newport Microbrew Festival." Newport is on the coast, about 140 miles south of here. The weather was NOT nice on Friday…even had some lightning and thunder, which always elicits "oohs" and "ahs" from a crowd in Western Oregon. We don’t get a whole lot of that kind of violent weather in the valleys. Fortunately, WE were inside under a big tent, thumbing our noses at the weather gods. After feeling like drowned rats at a couple of our most recent events, we were ecstatic about being under cover.

Business was not great, once again, but decent enough that we will  return to that event next year. Our product was well-received, for the most part. I had a couple of people walk up to the counter and wise-crack, "Oh, and this stuff is really low-carb, isn’t it?" I couldn’t resist firing back, "Yeah, just like that beer you’ve got in your hand…!" We were approached by a couple of folks who invited us to other venues next season, so the weekend had "networking" value, if nothing else.

Since things were slow, I tried to write a journal entry while sitting waiting for customers. I didn’t bring my laptop with me to the booth, because I don’t like to take the chance of it getting bounced around so much. So, I sat down with a pen and a spiral notebook and tried to write…and I made a discovery: I just HATE writing by hand anymore. It’s slow, it’s labor intensive, it’s impossible to edit. I actually DID write a poem on Friday night…but it took me about three hours, and a dozen sheets of paper to get through the first umpteen drafts, until I finally came up with something I liked. (The poem is about the trees, so I won’t share it here. I think I’ve beaten THAT dead horse quite enough!)

I now have a six-week lay-off until my next event. This is a good thing. We’re having my cousins in from out of town at the end of October, so I’ll have to spend at least a week fussing around the house and yard to get ready for that. And husband and I will be off for a week’s vacation starting October 16th, which also happens to be our twenty-eighth wedding anniversary (OMG…HOW many years is that again?) We’ve scheduled another romantic camping trip…this time at a place called "Silver Falls" for the first weekend, and then out to our favorite hang-out on the coast for the remainder of the time. We hope the weather will cooperate. I’m going to pack the new digital camera I just bought…hope to get some great "Autumn in Oregon" shots to share with you all here. Nowhere to connect to the internet in State Park campgrounds, so I will be MIA from j-land for a week or so. I’m sure you could all use a break from me, anyway!

Wednesday, October 6, 2004



Thank you all for your sympathy about the trees.  Many of you suggested that I just plant my own row of trees.  Believe me, I would have been out yesterday doing exactly that, if I could.  Here is a crude drawing of how the three properties, ours and our two "backyard" neighbors', line up to one another:

You can see, only ONE of that entire row of trees actually bordered OUR property.  The rest of them ran the length of the fence between the other two neighbors.  My hot tub is about 36" away from the fence...there's nowhere to plant any trees, unless we move the hot tub to some other place in the yard.  AND I only have about 4 or 5 feet between the edge of my deck and the back fence.  Hardly enough room to plant anything that would grow tall enough to replace those lovely trees.  So, basically, there's not a whole lot I can do to fix the situation without absolutely ripping apart my whole back yard and starting all over again.  I would do it, too, if I had the money.  If I won the lottery tonight, the first thing I'd be doing tomorrow morning is lining up a landscape architect.

I STILL hate my neighbors...

Tuesday, October 5, 2004

All Gone...

I am so sad this morning, I can hardly get out of bed. Earlier this year, we had new neighbors move into the home that borders the side/back of our property. (Our house is situated on our weird lot in such a way that we really have no "next door" neighbors…except dead ones in the cemetery.) The original owners of that house had planted a windbreak of poplar trees along their entire back fence. Poplars are fast-growing trees…while they couldn’t have been more than eight or ten years old, they were easily thirty feet tall. In this "new construction" neighborhood, they were a welcome tall, green presence. They were always full of birdsong and chattering. A whole community bustling with life. The trees were only a few feet from my upstairs bedroom window. I could gaze out my window and pretend I lived in a treehouse.

Yesterday, Mr. Neighbor and his dad cut down the whole lot of those trees. Every single last leaf and twig. Every scream of the chainsaw, every crash of great trunk hitting the ground, was like a knife in my soul. Husband came home from work yesterday afternoon to find me staring out my bedroom window in horror, my hands pressed to my mouth. He walked in the room and I turned into his arms and just sobbed.

This morning, I feel the heaviness of death in my heart. I’m sure a lot of people would think me certifiable for getting this upset about the demise of a bunch of trees. I’m sorry. I can’t help it. I wonder how long it will be before I will be able to look outside my back windows without welling up with sorrow, anger, and frustration. Today, I just HATE neighbors!

Monday, October 4, 2004

And the Number One Reason to Vote...

There was a time when I truly believed that the person who sat behind the desk in the Oval Office held the fate of the world in his hand. I think I must have absorbed the grim panic of my parents, teachers, and other adults during the Cuban Missile crisis, an incident that could have indeed meant the end of the human race…even though I was too young to understand what was going on at the time. I remember being physically afraid when Richard Nixon stepped down in disgrace…wondering whether this meant the end of civilization as we knew it.

As years went by, and the world neither ended nor raced forward toward Utopia with the change of Chief Executives, I adopted a more laissez faire attitude toward the presidency. I had seen a truly good man become an absolute disaster of a president. I had held my breath as a washed-up Hollywood actor was handed the reins of the republic, but the world still turned in spite of eight years of that insanity. I watched as an over-achieving, mostly amiable Southern politician took over the post; and was hounded practically from the moment the first oath of office was out of his mouth, by the opposing political party that could not accede to the will of the people and let him BE the president. To the point of nearly having him removed from the office via what amounted to a legalistic coup d’etat. By the 2000 election, I figured that if all this intrigue could be going on at the highest levels in Washington, and I could wake up in the morning, look out the window and see the world still standing, it wasn’t really of earth-shattering import who ended up with their hand on the bible on the morning of January 20, 2001.

And then came George W. Bush. Over the last 3 ½ years, we Americans have been treated to a taste of the havoc that can be wreaked, on our own shores and across the globe, by a truly bad president. I would never have thought it possible that one man could be the force behind so much horrible policy. And that those policies would have so altered our standing among the nations of the world, our ability to voice and appreciate opposing political viewpoints, our tolerance for the diversity that is part of our national heritage, that we truly ARE teetering on the brink of disaster in this country. This is what happens when an affable, academically average, "down-home" millionaire--the front man for a network of power-hungry politicos and business executives—is given (or, more accurately, siezes) the power of the leadership of the free world. All of the people out there who are saying, "This is the most important presidential election of our time" are not just providing a melodramatic sound byte. They are seeing these exact things, and having the same head-slap experience that I am having. We became too complacent. We all believed somewhere in the back of our minds that the matter of who sat behind the desk in the Oval Office was not, in the end, going to affect the world all that much. How wrong we all were, and now we’re paying for it. The world is paying for it. And I am back to feeling that old physical panic, only to the tenth power, about whether the world will still be standing after the votes are counted.

Something Worth Reading

I didn’t write what I’m posting in this entry. I wish I had. I received it in an email forward this morning. I hate myself that I only read this kind of stuff when it is crammed right under my nose.

This is a piece written by novelist E.L. Doctorow.
It first appeared in the September 9th issue of the Easthampton Star.

I fault this president for not knowing what death is. He does not suffer the death of our twenty one year olds who wanted to be what they could be.

"On the eve of D-day in 1944 General Eisenhower prayed to God for the lives of the young soldiers he knew were going to die. He knew what death was. Even in a justifiable war, a war not of choice but of necessity, a war of survival, the cost was almost more than Eisenhower could bear.

"But this president does not know what death is. He hasn't the mind for it. You see him joking with the press, peering under the table for the WMDs he can't seem to find, you see him at rallies strutting up to the stage in shirt sleeves to the roar of the carefully screened crowd, smiling and waving, triumphal, a he-man. He does not mourn. He doesn't understand why he should mourn. He is satisfied during the course of a speech written for him to look solemn for a moment and speak of the brave young Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. But you study him, you look into his eyes and know he dissembles an emotion which he does not feel in the depths of his being because he has no capacity for it. He does not feel a personal responsibility for the thousand dead young men and women who wanted be what they could be. They come to his desk not as youngsters with mothers and fathers or wives and children who will suffer to the end of their days a terribly torn fabric of familial relationships and the inconsolable remembrance of aborted life.... they come to his desk as a political liability which is why the press is not permitted to photograph the arrival of their coffins from Iraq.

"How then can he mourn? To mourn is to express regret and he regrets nothing. He does not regret that his reason for going to war was, as he knew, unsubstantiated by the facts. He does not regret that his bungled plan for the war's aftermath has made of his mission-accomplished a disaster. He does not regret that rather than controlling terrorism his war in Iraq has licensed it. So he never mourns for the dead and crippled youngsters who have fought this war of his choice. He wanted to go to war and he did. He had not the mind to perceive the costs of war, or to listen to those who knew those costs. He did not understand that you do not go to war when it is one of the options but when it is the only option; you go not because you want to but because you have to.

"Yet this president knew it would be difficult for Americans not to cheer the overthrow of a foreign dictator. He knew that much. This president and his supporters would seem to have a mind for only one thing --- to take power, to remain in power, and to use that power for the sake of themselves and their friends. A war will do that as well as anything.

"You become a wartime leader. The country gets behind you. Dissent becomes inappropriate. And so he does not drop to his knees, he is not contrite, he does not sit in the church with the grieving parents and wives and children. He is the President who does not feel. He does not feel for the families of the dead, he does not feel for the thirty five million of us who live in poverty, he does not feel for the forty percent who cannot afford health insurance, he does not feel for the miners whose lungs are turning black or for the working people he has deprived of the chance to work overtime at time-and-a-half to pay their bills --- it is amazing for how many people in this country this President does not feel. But he will dissemble feeling. He will say in all sincerity he is relieving the wealthiest one percent of the population of their tax burden for the sake of the rest of us, and that he is polluting the air we breathe for the sake of our economy, and that he is decreasing the safety regulations for coal mines to save the coal miners' jobs, and that he is depriving workers of their time-and-a- half benefits for overtime because this is actually a way to honor them by raising them into the professional class. And this litany of lies he will versify with reverences for God and the flag and democracy, when just what he and his party are doing to our democracy is choking the life out of it.

"But there is one more terribly sad thing about all of this. I remember the millions of people here and around the world whomarched against the war. It was extraordinary, that spontaneous aroused oversoul of alarm and protest that transcended national borders. Why did it happen? After all, this was not the only war anyone had ever seen coming. There are little wars all over the world most of the time. But the cry of protest was the appalled understanding of millions of people that America was ceding its role as the last best hope of mankind. It was their perception that the classic archetype of democracy was morphing into a rogue nation. The greatest democratic republic in history was turning its back on the future, using its extraordinary power and standing not to advance the ideal of a concordance of civilizations but to endorse the kind of tribal combat that originated with the Neanderthals, a people, now extinct, who could imagine ensuring their survival by no other means than pre-emptive war.

"The president we get is the country we get. With each president the nation is conformed spiritually. He is the artificer of our malleable national soul. He proposes not only the laws but the kinds of lawlessness that govern our lives and invoke our responses. The people he appoints are cast in his image. The trouble they get into and get us into, is his characteristic trouble. Finally the media amplify his character into our moral weather report. He becomes the face of our sky, the conditions that prevail: How can we sustain ourselves as the United States of America given the stupid and ineffective warmaking, the constitutionally insensitive lawgiving, and the monarchal economics of this president? He cannot mourn but is a figure of such moral vacancy as to make us mourn for ourselves."

E.L. Doctorow

Saturday, October 2, 2004

Who Will Uncover "Iraq-Gate"?

I came upon this in an AOL article that showcased a panel discussion at The New Yorker Festival, starring Peter Jennings, Tom Brokaw, and Dan Rather---the "Network News Triumvirate."  Seems that Jennings and Brokaw rallied behind Rather following his "Bush National Guard Documents" blunder:

Rather said he did not ask enough questions before the war or conduct enough follow-up reporting.

"If the country is in dire peril, as the president of the United States says it is ... I want to be a patriotic journalist," he said.

"You know that the role of the patriotic journalist is to put your fear aside, stand up, look them in the eye, ask the rough questions. But you also know that when you do that, you're going to get hammered..." Rather said. "So what happens is you just say ... maybe tomorrow."

I have been wondering, in my heart of hearts, why the press has been so LAME during the events leading up to, and the subsequent obvious disaster of, the war in Iraq. I am anything BUT the most politically savvy or worldly-wise human being in the world. Yet even I could perceive, in the lead-up to the war, the hijinx that the administration was pulling. Inflicting their war on a shell-shocked and angry nation. Using "9/11 fervor" as a basis to challenge the patriotism of anyone who questioned their agenda. The Congress rolled over for them. And so did the press. Up to and including "embedding" reporters with the military invaders of Iraq. What sane human being would post a negative story about the very people who are protecting that reporter’s life in a war zone? The whole scenario seemed like the death knell for the impartial, unbiased reporting we needed to depend upon in this situation.

I’ve been waiting for the 21st-century version of Bernstein and Woodward to mount their white chargers, wield a battery of incontrovertible evidence consisting of White House leaks and Washington insider information, and blow the cover off this malarkey as high as ever they blew the Watergate break-in scandal. But I have been sorely and utterly disappointed. In today’s climate of ten-second sound bytes and instant gratification, no reporter has risen to the challenge of the dogged, long-term dedication to the truth that it would take to construct an important, history-making story. Even when the head of the trail to the story is obvious to your average Joe on any street corner in America.

The above quote from Dan Rather finally shed some light on the problem for me. The old reporters---the ones of the Viet Nam era and the decade following—are all…OLD. Tired. No longer up to the challenge. And there has been no new generation to step into their shoes. No one to take the risks. The media don’t take that kind of risks anymore.

You know, in the old days, I used to HATE Dan Rather. His reporting was SO liberally biased, it was more like preaching than journalism. I could watch him for about five minutes before I began to gag on his self-righteous, holier-than-thou broadcasts, and change the channel. But now…now I wish someone had apprenticed at Rather’s elbow, and been ready to don the mantle when it slid off old Dan’s shoulders. It’s SAD to see a once fiery liberal media figure knuckle under to the pressure of the ever-increasing conservative bias of the day. I can almost see this debacle of the forged Bush military documents as Rather’s last feeble reach toward a story that might have been a glorious, possibly administration-toppling finale to a remarkable career. Unfortunately, he went about it in the impatient, short-cut 21st-century way that spelled certain doom for the story, and perhaps his career as well.

I can only hope that "tomorrow," some young reporter, somehow, somewhere, is inspired to put fear aside, "stand up, look them in the eye, [and] ask the rough questions." Before it’s too late.