Monday, October 31, 2005

Tick, tick, tick...

So, Scooter Libby will be the one doing the frog march. The Bush administration’s Teflon coating didn’t extend quite far enough down the food chain to protect his lying derriere

Two years of heightened anticipation from the left, and well-orchestrated non-comment by the right, have come down to the indictment of a relatively minor administration official; someone safely distant from the President himself. Talk about an anti-climax. It seems to have worked out perfectly for the Texas Cartel. A sacrificial lamb has been offered up. For all that some pundits dismally drone that a cloud still hangs over the president’s own staff, I fully expect Mr. Bush to act as if the matter, which barely blipped onto his radar screen to begin with, was closed. He’ll allow his deputy chief of staff the appearance of re-admittance to the inner circle (as if he had ever really been expelled...) Any day now, he’ll throw his arm around Rove and crow, "Karl, you’re doin’ a heck of a job!" Indeed.

The most serious onus hanging over the President’s head right now is that he should "apologize" to the American people. Excuse me, but, what exactly is he expected to apologize for? Nothing has been proven here except that Vice President Cheney’s chief of staff may have been caught lying to the Grand Jury, presumably to save his boss’s bacon. In any other administration in recent memory, the vice president might as well have been on Pluto, as have an office in the same building as the president. Surely the Bush Administration will be happy to perpetuate that fantasy in regard to the relationship between our current president and his second banana. The American people have been conditioned by decades of weak-to-invisible vice presidents; it should be simple enough for the Republican spin machine to convince us that rot in the office of the Vice President has no connection to or bearing upon the Chief Executive. An indication of corruption at higher levels? Nonsense! The President should be able to toss this bit of distracting lint away with a flick of his valet's miracle brush, wait for the ADD-afflicted American media to chase after the scent of some other non-story, and then go on with business as usual. The business of ruining our good name abroad, destabilizing the Middle East, sending down more unfunded decrees to follow "No Child Left Behind," ensuring another quarter of record profits for the oil industry… And the strongest rebuke the opposition can muster is that the president needs to "take responsibility." Say sorry. Woo hoo. That will not heat the homes of the people who will have to choose between freezing and starving this winter.

On the release of the news of Libby’s indictment, Mr. Bush donned his "solemn leader" fa├žade for the cameras, pushed the whole affair to arms length, and made sure he threw in a pointed comment about "getting back to the business of protecting the American people." Proving that this president will eternally poke the stick into that hornet’s nest, resurrecting and relying upon the fear of the quaking masses who rewarded him with a second term in office. Will that be enough, anymore? Have the American people received just enough of a glimpse at the intricate web of deceit woven by this administration, to make them squirm? Possibly fall out of lock-step and start peeking under desks and into file cabinets and computer hard drives in the West Wing to uncover what other lies, great and small, have been perpetrated while we have been in "duck and cover" mode? Time—that slippery commodity which, at this point, appears to be on the Bush Administration payroll—will tell.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Wrong Stuff

Hmmm…so Harriet Miers has withdrawn. Undoubtedly a blow to President Bush, and I will gladly accept any development that troubles him and undermines his cartel’s stranglehold on Washington. But this is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a victory for "our side." If anything, it is a demonstration of the frightening proportions to which the power of the religious right has grown. They served notice that they were the elephant upon whose back Bush rode to victory in 2004, and that they were going to accept nothing less than his complete capitulation to their "litmus test" for what constitutes an acceptable Supreme Court nominee.  Which, I suspect, will be at its most stringent for any female candidate, simply by virtue of the fact that, as a woman, she might harbor a secret sympathy for women's issues.

Yes Harriet Miers was a pitiful choice. An example of Bush’s policy of bullheaded, inappropriate cronyism at its worst. She was unqualified, undignified, and unprepared. Unfortunately, these are not the reasons she withdrew in disgrace. She withdrew because this choice of our most conservative president in recent memory could not prove herself conservative enough. Anyone in this country who leans even slightly left of center, indeed, even slightly left of extreme right, should be afraid—be very afraid—of the next candidate the President is prompted to put forth…

Sidenote:  Interesting, too, how Miers' announcement was timed to put a little blood in the water to decoy whatever media frenzy was preparing to attack the possible Fitzgerald indictments. The Bush Media Machine spins on...

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Goodbye, Bunny

We lived in Eugene then. I was the high-powered manager of the "Little Bakery On The Mall." Our mortgage payments were low, my salary was high, and I was feeling rich and magnanimous. My sister Joyce, on the other hand, lived back "home" in Illinois, with a husband and three kids, trying to make ends meet on one income. Their mortgage payments were high, because they took out another loan on the house about every two or three years. And she was struggling to deal with her chronic illness—rheumatoid arthritis.

My family shook their heads and "tsk-tsk’d" Joyce, because she couldn’t hold on to a buck if her life depended on it. "Champagne taste and beer pocketbook," and all that. But she was ill, failing even, and she desperately wanted to be with the family; and I missed her, and wanted her to be with the family. I made it my job to make sure she came out for a visit once a year. Bought her ticket. Lodged her in my home. One month every summer.

We had an extra bedroom. I went into a total decorating frenzy. I don’t know what got into me, really. I hate pink. But it had to be roses. Stenciled furniture. Rose-bedecked bed linens. Throws and pillows and pictures and rugs, all rose-colored or rose splattered. I wanted the room to call to mind the best, fussiest, most over-decorated Victorian Bed and Breakfast I could imagine. In a gift shop one day, "Bouffant Bunny" wiggled her little pom-pom nose at me and whispered that she would fit perfectly in the center of the bed, among the pink and flowered pillows. Home she came. To Joyce’s Room.

And Joyce loved that room. Each year, a couple of weeks before her trip, I’d get notice to get "her room" ready for her.

That was fifteen years and two houses ago. We took Joyce’s Room to Portland with us when we moved north in 1993…unpacked "Bouffant Bunny" and her pals (by now she was flanked by a bear and two kitties, all formally pinafored in rose and green…) Patiently, they sat on the bed, waiting for the once-a-year appearance of their distant mistress. They saw her just one more time, before she got too ill to visit and then passed away, all in the space of a year. She was gone before we moved to Springfield. But I packed Joyce’s Room and took it with us. Assembled everything---Bunny, Bear, Kitties, and roses---in a corner bedroom that no one ever slept in. But it didn’t matter. It was Joyce’s stuff. I couldn’t even think of letting go of it.

Again when we turned tail and headed back north after Dad passed away, I lovingly packed the "Rose Room." That’s what I called it now. Unpacked it all again into an extra bedroom. Sisters, cousins, in-laws have tucked themselves under the rose comforter, laid their heads on the rose linens, tossed Bunny and her friends in a corner to make room for the humans to sleep. Finally, Bouffant Bunny and her pals were relegated to a closet shelf. They didn’t seem to fit anymore, into this room that had slowly morphed from Joyce’s Room, to the Rose Room, to the Guest Room. Last summer, when Joyce’s husband came out for a visit, I suspected it was time to retire the roses, the pictures…the memories might have been too hard on him. The "Rose Room" became the "Wine Room," with a new grape and vineyard motif, calling to mind the wine tours in which most of our guests like to indulge while visiting Oregon. Rose accoutrements were packed off the Goodwill by the boxful. Bunny, Bear and Kitties…stayed on the closet shelf. I couldn’t. Not yet.

Today, I found myself in the midst of a house-wide "pitch it" frenzy. Old bedspreads and linens that had filled an entire closet—out! Picture frames that had been in the same box since we moved in four years ago—out! Pre-school toys I had bought for my now middle-school-aged niece and nephew—out! I opened the door of the Guest Room closet, patting myself on the back that it could now glide smoothly without anything falling out. And there they were. Bouffant Bunny and her entourage, tangled and squashed and upended on that closet shelf.

All at once, I knew their time had come. There was no more life for them in this house. I’d kept them because I couldn’t let go of that shred of my sister. But, every time I looked at them, my eyes would fill with tears. Was this the way to remember Joyce, with sadness, even ten years after she’d gone? Suddenly, it didn’t make sense anymore. It was time to lay Bunny gently in the Goodwill box, and say goodbye. Let some other person, even a child, love her. Let her go some new place, where she could entice a smile instead of a tear.

I put her in the box. Still, it was like snipping out a tiny sliver of my heart, closing the lid on it and sending it away.

Monday, October 24, 2005

The Answer is Blowin' in the Wind....

The last few weeks, I have been loath to step into the political comment arena. Things have just looked too dark and hopeless. The Republican Party continues to advance its agenda in the face of growing public discontent with both their direction and their methods. Truly, I think they’ve accelerated their timetable, hurrying to reap every benefit of being in control of the reins of government before the disenchanted public snatches them out of their hands. (Three-dollar-a-gallon gas, anyone?) Speaking of hands, the Democrats continue to sit on theirs…

The loud-mouthed right-wing pundits and talk show hosts screech that the GOP’s problems are all the result of political attacks by their left-wing enemies. And because we have so encouraged the development of a "when you do bad, you suck; when I do bad, you suck" electorate, there are still crowds of brainwashed (brain-dead?) mortals lining up behind the media mouthpieces, raising their fists and shouting in agreement. It’s enough to make any sane person crawl under a rock and stay there until January of 2009. And then maybe crawl right back under if the political winds are still blowing ill…

Lately, I’ve been reflecting on how today’s political climate is at polar opposites to what it was when I was in high school. Ah the seventies! When we reaped the harvest sown by our older siblings in the sixties. Television shows like M*A*S*H, shoving the futility of war into our faces every Tuesday night. And "All in the Family" poking rapier-sharp fun at centuries-old prejudices and social hypocrisy, urging us, at knife-point, to open our minds and change our ways. It didn’t matter who was in the White House…Nixon? Ford? Carter? The country had definitely swung left of center. Who swung it? We did. The young people. The massive horde of baby boomers who embraced ideas like social conscience, ecology, civil rights, PEACE…and we rioted in the streets, shook everything up, banged our fists and shouted, until the world paid attention.

What happened? We had won…we had the country going on a reasonably moral track, heading into the twenty-first century. Perhaps our victory had been TOO complete…perhaps we just couldn’t face our global responsibilities as the world’s Goliath. When Al Qaida’s David flung its rock, it hit us hard, snapped our heads back, and missed being a fatal blow by inches. And now, we were old. Looking forward to nothing morechallenging than that quiet, secure retirement billowing toward us from the horizon.

So we ran. Backwards. Back to those old attitudes of fear (ragheads and Muslims and terrorists, oh my!); selfishness (I got mine, go get your own); contentiousness (I win, you lose!); nationalism (Yew don’t lak it heah? Go live in Eye-Rack!) and mindless consumerism (Global warming? Let’s study that for awhile…) Because the conservative mob that happened to be in power at the time told us that if we did that, if we got in line and did not stray from their narrow path, they would keep us safe. We lost our nerve. We handed them the keys. We sold out.

Lately, I’ve been wondering…where are today’s young people? Why are they not picking up the old banner of peace, tolerance, and global responsibility that we left lying in the dust? And what would we do if they did? Think about it…what would be our reaction to an avenging army of college students and young workers, the likes of our young selves in the sixties and seventies? What would we think, how would we react, those of us who are now as old and set in our ways as our parents were thirty-five years ago? Fortunately or un-, our children don’t seem so inclined. They have chosen "I, me, mine" as their banner, and so try their best to ignore all things political, or concepts even slightly larger than themselves, in their steadfast quest for their first plasma TV or Humvee. We cannot expect them to save us…from ourselves.

To whom can we turn, then, to guide us out of this quagmire into which we’ve followed our opportunistic leaders? I think I got my answer yesterday. On the side of the highway leading into our small town, three gray-haired ladies, my age or a few years older, brandished home-made, pink poster board placards held aloft on fresh, unpainted 1 x 2’s from the Home Depot, which read "Peace" "Honk if You" "Want Out." It crossed my mind that, a year ago, those ladies might have been harassed, spat on, or even arrested. But…wonder of wonders. The vehicles on that busy highway were slowing down. And honking.

Yes, old friends, it may very well be up to us once again. And I think we just might be up to it.

Friday, October 21, 2005

This Means a Lot To Me...


Here are the official nominees for the 2005 Vivi Awards, as certified from general submission votes by the Vivi Awards Executive Committee.

Coming to Terms... mlraminiak
De Profundis - musenla
Perish the Thought - gullspirit
Republican Jen - republicanjen
Un-Common Sense - armandt
the wizard of ahs - anarchitek

Thank you.  I am honored.  Surprised.  Humbled.  Lisa  :-]

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Monday (Tuesday?) Photo Shoot

Autumn leaves~~a subject I could definitely warm up to... 

Monday, October 17, 2005

God Only Knows...

I may not always love you
But long as there are stars above you
You never need to doubt it
I’ll make you so sure about it

If you should ever leave me
Though life would still go on, believe me
The world would show nothing to me
So what good would living do me?

God only knows what I’d be without you…
(Sometimes, someone else's words say it best.  Thank you, Brian Wilson...)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Fiftyish Philosophy

Forty is not scary…in fact, it’s nearly the perfect age. You’ve survived childhood, navigated the pitfalls of young adulthood, and arrived at an age where you can claim a certain amount of wisdom, of savoir faire; yet you are not old. Not young anymore, but not old. Mature, like a fine wine or a piquant cheese. You can confidently assert that your page is merely half-written. After all, look at all the eighty-year-olds who are still vital and active; traveling the world, dancing ‘til dawn, towing the grandkids and great-grandkids off to Disneyland.

After forty, however, you realize that something bizarre has happened to the passage of time. You have not gone over a hill, you have stepped off the edge of a cliff, and are now hurtling toward fifty. Forty-two, forty-five, forty-eight, pass in a blur. Fifty roars up from the horizon and is upon you before you can blink. All at once, you bump up against the realization that you do not know too many 100-year-olds who are enjoying anything you would recognize as a quality of life. Okay…none. You don’t personally know, or know of, any centenarians who are so blessed. You’ve finally reached the age when you must reluctantly concede that you are well into the second half of your life.

And so, as your half-century mark approaches, arrives, and recedes fleetly into the past, you find yourself prone to looking backward with more regularity, and much more fondness, than you anticipate the future. The trick is to find the balance between paying short, happy visits to the past, and putting down permanent roots there. The temptation to pick a decade, go back to it and just take up residence is strong. Sometimes, it’s hard to resist the weight of all those years pulling you back to happier times, easier times, reckless times; when the laughter and love seemed to come without a cost. When you didn’t know enough to really savor every moment, because it never occurred to you that those moments might be finite.

But what could be sadder, and more wasteful, than retreating into the past to escape the future? The appeal is undeniable. There is too much of the Great Unknown, almost close enough to touch, in the future when you’re fifty. The past seems infinitely safer. There is no challenge, and a great deal of comfort, in turning around and walking back to where you’ve been. But is that really how you are meant to spend the last priceless decades you are allotted in this life? Shouldn’t you keep going forward, fully inhaling every precious breath, reaching out, yanking the moments and wringing every drop of adventure from them? Or do you spit in the Creator’s eye, slink backward, plop yourself down and say, "I’m done. Come and get me when it’s time."

As for me, I can neither completely commit to grabbing the gusto, nor retreat to a place of comfort to wait it out. I wander back, sit and rest for a time; but just long enough to build strength for continuing the journey. Because deep in my soul, I know that ahead, into the future, is the only direction to take. I simply will not give back those years that are held in store just for me. That would be the ultimate sin, for which there cannot be, should not be, any forgiveness in the heart of the Universe. Live what is given you…die with one arm hugging every precious moment you've been granted, and the other outstretched, reaching for more.

Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Yet Another Winning Pick

Up until now, I have thought of the Supreme Court nominations as an annoying non-issue. Anyone who thought Bush was going to get through two terms without having the opportunity to fill at least one vacancy on the court was dreaming (or thinking wishfully….) Reagan’s two terms allowed him to place two justices, and elevate a Chief Justice. Bill Clinton’s eight years in office netted him two nominees for the bench. Even George H.W. Bush got to place two justices during his single term in office.

My only opinion on the issue was that it would go a long way toward healing the cavernous rift between the right and the left for the opposition to just suck it up and let Mr. Bush have his crack at it. And, darned if he didn’t make me look good with his first nominee. Judge Roberts is a bright, respected jurist, who has demonstrated a clear love for and understanding of the law. His ties to the Bush dynasty, in the form of his White House service during the Bush 1 Administration, faded in the bright light of his obvious intelligence and competence (perhaps we were dazzled to insensibility that a Bush nominee should possess either of these qualities…)

The Democrats must have shared some of my personal philosophy. They allowed Judge Roberts to glide through the confirmation process with only the meekest of token objections. Perhaps they even patted themselves on the back for their wise application of the "pick your battles" adage. I’ll confess I had my hand right in there thumping with the rest of them.

Apparently, Mr. Bush was much heartened by his victory in the Senate. He must have figured he was on a roll. He fired up that same smoke screen that worked the first time—the one that had him closeting himself with Congressional leaders of both parties in an earnest quest for the perfect candidate. He carried Judge O’Connor’s glass slipper far and wide, searching for the one individual who could fill it perfectly. And, lo and behold, that one ideal candidate was right under his nose all along. Harriet Mier, his own Texas lawyer!

It amazes me that Bush actually had the cajones to put forth Mier’s name, after the recent firestorm surrounding another of his cronies—FEMA’s woefully incompetent Michael Brown. But our Texas good ole boy president understands the concept of "staying the course;" he doggedly defends every poor choice he’s made, and turns a blank stare to any criticism thereof.

So, Mr. Bush searches the world, and ends up pulling another unqualified sycophant out of his drawers. This one, unfortunately, has the potential to leave a remnant of the Bush Administration stink in Washington for at least another two decades.  Not an attractive thought to those of us who are wearily counting the days to the end of this disastrous administration. If I were a senator, I’d have to give this one a long, hard look. I have a feeling deep in my gut that there is way more danger here than initially meets the eye.

Sunday, October 2, 2005