Friday, April 24, 2009

Ahh, Persephone, Returned From The Depths To Us

Good news if you, as I, have been missing la belle Rhodes...

She's coming back! Back on The POJ mid-May.

And the nifty party?

She's being syndicated by Premier Radio Networks ... the same syndicator which runs the Unavuncular Carbuncular Creepy Uncle of America – Rush (we call him "Mr") Limbaugh.

She's gonna eat him alive. As big as he's gotten, she'll need a doggy bag.

But what doggy would have him?

I invite discussion on Preemptive Karma. Join me there.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Simple Answers To Simple Questions Re: Cash Gifting Refunds

In scanning my hit counter, I noticed I got a hit on the following query:

"possible to get money back from cash gifting"

Which I interpret as the following question:

Q: Can I get my money back from a cash gifting pyramid?

and the simple answer:

A: I don't think so.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, your mileage may vary. If you want to risk your nuts in a "cash gifting" scheme, by all means, go balls-to-the-wall.

But the reading I've done ... some of it documented in my earlier post on the subject ... suggest that the only players likely to get anything out of it are the ones who got on on the ground floor.

An easy way to find out if you've gotten in on the ground floor: if someone's inviting you on board the airplane, you ain't it, bunky.

And if the network collapses and you find yourself out in the cold, are you going to complain to someone that you got burned in a scheme designed to make you a bunch of money without paying taxes and without working for it? Pretty embarrassing. Would it get you some government attention? I don't know. Do you? Are you willing to take the risk?

And by now, the money is long gone anyway, spent by the people upline of you that got it already. It's gone.

Better you stay away from this stuff, and remember what Mom Always Said: if it sounds too good to be true, it is. This sort of carp is the reason why Mom came up with that saying.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Randy Leonard Needs To Go, Too.

In the last several days we've seen several reminders as to why, regardless of how Sam Adams conducts his private life, why he's proven himself to be the exact opposite of a visionary, thoughtful steward of the city's future.

But let's look at Randy Leonard just a little. Up until quite recently, we were a huge fan of Randy. We liked his scrappy style, and liked the way he took on Dave Frohnmayer over the "Made in Oregon" sign issue.

But latterly, he's been just a little too much the bully. Over on Preemptive Karma, I commented on Sam Adams's crass equivalency of a luxury hotel that I couldn't possibly afford to stay in to a significant regional transportation link in urgent need of reconstruction. And, despite Randy's newfound enmity for Sam, apparently they can remain freinemies: Randy will happily, apparently, back Sam's play for "support my hotel, or the bridge gets it".

I came to the conclusion that Randy's no longer looking out for the town but for other interests when I watched this report on KGW. At the 1:53 mark, Randy accuses Ted Wheeler, County Chair, as "someone who's having a temper tantrum because he's not having his way."

Let's go to the map, shall we?
  1. Wheeler asked for figures
  2. The City Council sat on the request for six weeks.
  3. On Monday, the Council finally delevered the request – and gave Wheeler until Thursday ... that's tomorrow ... to make his decision.
  4. When Wheeler objects and takes his case to the media, he's throwing a temper tantrum.
I could be missing something here.

But I don't think I am.

Randy doesn't deserve to be on the City Council anymore. Since he's not in as much public hot water as Sam is, I don't think he'll be recalled. I doubt that anyone with sufficient gumption will challenge him for re-election either.

Which is sad, because Randy doesn't deserve to serve anymore.

To threaten to pull support on a good for all the people unless you support something that very few of the people will enjoy in an economy that can't support it is simply to play the "big kid in the room" card, and we're already supporting one hotel I can't afford to even walk through the door to visit (I'm looking at you, "The Nines").

The Portland City Council, as expressed through the power plays of Sam Adams and Randy Leonard, has evolved into one big bully. I'm sorry I voted for Sam and Randy.

Friday, April 17, 2009

An Addition To the Reading List

So far, in this blog, I've recommended two books for those who want the properly cynical footing to cope with the cynical political landscape – if you can't keep up, you can at least keep an eye on things.

I've decided to add two books to the assigned reading in this course. The complete list is:

  1. Dune, by Frank Herbert
  2. Nineteen Eighty-Four, by George Orwell
  3. Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein
  4. Stand on Zanzibar, by John Brunner
Each is important for diffferent reasons. Dune matters because Herbert had immense insights into power blocs and power struggles, and what might tilt things one way or the other – and that a random chaotic event can cause amazing results. Also, Herbert understood, perhaps better than any popular author, the explosive mix that religion and politics can make – and this, is the most important message, because he does it without making it a preachy cautionary tale.

Nineteen Eighty-Four is important for all the obvious reasons – the cynical manipulation of the population by a power elite, the evil deleterious effect on the zeitgeist and the human animal that opression can bring. But the real lesson I want people to take away from it, and the source of my sarcastic caption on the cover picture, is the effects of a power elite for whom power is the only object. They speak of addictive substances, nicotine, methamphetamine, what have you. Kissinger glibly commented that power is the ultimate aphrodesiac (not without reason). But more than that, power is the most addictive substance known to man and woman. You can't have it without wanting more, you can't have more without wanting to keep it all for one's self, and you can't keep it without greedily scheming to order affairs so that you never lose it.

When I say the Republican Party's main platform can be found there, it's the addiction to power and the need to get it for its own sake, at any cost. They would kill our country for it if they had to, and events suggest to me, they are still trying.

Stranger In A Strange Land was suggested by reader Phil. He recommends it highly, and my review of the plot suggests it has much to say about community and power. I've not read it yet, because I've never been much of a Heinlein fan, to be quite frank. But it's on my list now.

Stand on Zanzibar is a challenging book to read. John Brunner's visionary classic challenges the reader with a layered structure, an army of intertwining characters, and the strife of what was then the distant future time of the 2010s to paint a picture of a planet going crazy under the strain of overpopulation and technology that's zooming ahead of Man's capacity to reason with it all. With its piercing insights on what makes man tick, it's not predictive, but it does have Mankind's number, and is as relevant now as when it was written back in the 1960s.

Those are your assignments, if you care to take up the challenge. Since my topical work is being done over at Preemptive Karma for the nonce, we can use this area as a sort of reading and book discussion club. I'm going to go back through Dune soon and make public notes. Everyone is welcome to come along.

I think we can all learn something from each other. I believe this.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Yay BlueOregon!

Blue Oregon's really cleaning up this year.

First that blogger on The Fix named BO to his 50-State Blogroll, now I hear that the George Washington University Institute for Politics, Democracy, & the Intarweb got what, if it isnt the Oscars or the Emmy at least it has to be the Golden Globe for public policy intarweb commentary, the Golden Dot as best damn state political blog for 2008.

Blue Oregon's one of those things that got me inspired to start DIY punditin'. I admire Kari's work and quite frankly think this is a very deserved honor, so I'm not only commenting on this in my capacity as part of the PK posse but also here.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Blue Oregon!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Pacific Wonderland Vintage Plate? I Am Totally There For That!

One of these would look soooo cool on my '72 VW:

Over on Oregonlive (where I nicked the above image, lensed by Randy Rasmussen) they've broken the story of a proposal to bring back the old Pacific Wonderland plates for a 25,000 limited edition.

I mentioned this to my wife and she said it was, well, a fait accompli. We weren't alive when the PW plates happened, but both our families were the kind to keep cars - and plates - around for an awful long time.

Not everyone is impressed: a commenter opined:

Since Oregon museums are reducing hours and laying off staff, I believe we don't really need a new history center.

Legislators. This may come as a surprise to you in the ivory tower but we have real issues to deal with in Oregon.

Yeah, whatevs, buzzkill.

I'm going to be lining up for them plates! Maybes they can get prisoners to stamp them like they used to ...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

I Reach Teh Big Time ...

... or at least the medium-sized time.

I've been a fan of Preemptive Karma since I started reading local blogs. I admire wit and clever prose, and it had it in spades. It was one that really challenged me to think, dammit! It's always been a ground of great reading, and at least one PKer has gone on to greater things.

I'm speaking of course of Carla "The Unimpeachable" Axtman, who's currently Fellow at Blue Oregon.

That Carla wears the title of Fellow is cosmically funny to me since, after all, Carla's apparently a woman*. I know. I've seen a picture of her.

Anywhoozle, one can imagine my surprise when Kevin at PK contacted me and asked me if I wanted to join the PK crew.

Flattered? You bet. Excited? Hells-to-the-yeah!

After talking with him and figuring out things, I've decided to take him up on the offer. I am now offically affiliated with the PK crew, and will be taking my comedic wit and nimitable style there too.

This blog will remain, and will have postings of a more personal and abstruse nature from here on out, just updated a little less frequently.

I plan on tripping the light fantastic over on PK; please, please join me and book mark both places!

* yes, I know what "Fellow" is. I maek funnay joak. You Laff Now!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

I Evolve Upwards ...

Details to follow presently.

Stay tuned to this channel. This one, too.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Portia Di Rossi Knows How To Take Responsibility

At least someone does.

Another lesson gay people can teach us straights. Pay attention!

First Black President? Not Good Enough For ASU

Someone once told me an easy way to sense BS.

"Do you know why it doesn't make sense?" he said to me. "Because it isn't true."

This will do nothing but p*ss you off, and I'm sorry to have to share it, but I've had an ab-so-lute gutful of organizations that do the little weasel dance to avoid looking like they wanted to have President Barack Obama speak.

First it was the pained fretting of Catholic priests who moaned about President Obama (and I'm going to use that name repeatedly if it makes some people cry so much) speaking at Notre Dame which was painted as being all principled and stuff but actually had more than the whiff of hypocrisy about it.

I didn't think anyone could top the childishness of that move. But ASU did.

Arizona State University has invited President Obama to deliver the commencement address on May 13th. It's tradition (and, I understand, the "done" thing) to award the commencement speaker with an honorary degree.

As of this writing, according to and broken by the Politico, ASU has decided not to award the country's first black President an honorary degree. He just hasn't worked hard enough yet, you see:

The university decided against awarding Obama the degree because it is customarily awarded for “lifetime achievement,” ASU spokeswoman Sharon Keeler told POLITICO.

“It’s normally awarded to someone who has been in their field for some time,” she said. “Considering that the president is at the beginning of his presidency, his body of work is just beginning.”


A man of Barack Obama's stature and achievements hasn't rated the honor yet?

This is like refusing to call Neil Armstrong the first man on the moon because he hasn't done it twice yet.

If this man hasn't rated your respect yet, he never will. And ASU doesn't even have the courage to come up with a reason based on a solid debating point. At least Notre Dame did that. And they gave him an honorary degree.

WTF, ASU? Neocons on the board? Fear of a black planet? What? And you actually announced that and expected it not to look like weasel words and embarrass you? Are your PR people on vacation or payyy-ote or something?

There's buzz out that they're reconsidering. Thats as maybe. Damage is already done though. Well played, Asinine State University, well played.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Actual Smart Person Roger Ebert Pwns Bill O'Reilly

This is kind of neat, actually. One doesn't get two beautiful examples of textbook pwnage in one week. First, it was "Charlie" knocking Mr. Limbaugh off his routine so much that "sticking it" at the end was simply not possible, then, Roger Ebert dials Bill O'Reilly's number ... and nails it utterly.

One point of reference in my universe is that Roger Ebert is a national treasure. He is an incredibly gifted and readable writer. Yeah, I know, he does all that movie reviewin' and stuff, but can you name any other movie reviewer that's won the ever-loviin' Pulitizer for his reviewing?

Trick question. There isn't another (at least not at this writing).

Now comes along Mr. O'Reilly, who's a very important pivotal sort of person (and if you don't believe him, just ask him). He has taken it upon himself to compile a "Hall Of Shame" of doubleplusungood media outlets that he doedn't like, nosirree. And Ebert's employer, the Chicago Sun-Times, is new on the list, in the "Media Outlets That Traffic in Defamation" list.

At this point, it may be helpful to note that to get on this list, all one has to do is, they believe, to have "regularly helped distribute defamatory, false or non-newsworthy information supplied by far left websites".

By that metric, one can cut and paste three words from a Media Matters press release and qualify. And I may not be a lawyer but I have a feeling that defamation might not mean what they think it does. But for the moment we'll concede the point.

How does an Actual Smart Writerly Pulitzer-Prize-Winning Person return the favor? With reality, served with a side of dry wit and a droll chaser:

I understand you believe one of the Sun-Times misdemeanors was dropping your syndicated column. My editor informs me that "very few" readers complained about the disappearance of your column, adding, "many more complained about Nancy." I know I did. That was the famous Ernie Bushmiller comic strip in which Sluggo explained that "wow" was "mom" spelled upside-down.

Your column ran in our paper while it was owned by the right-wing polemicists Conrad Black (Baron Black of Coldharbour) and David Radler. We dropped it to save a little money after they looted the paper of millions. Now you call for an advertising boycott. It is unusual to observe a journalist cheering for a newspaper to fail. At present the Sun-Times has no bank debt, but labors under the weight of millions of dollars in tax penalties incurred by Lord Black, who is serving an eight-year stretch for mail fraud and obstruction of justice. We also had to pay for his legal expenses.

So there. I'll not show you the rest, as that would be rude (and legally actionable); use the above link to read it yourself.

As for the rest of us, I think Mr. O'Reilly can consider himself pwned.

I doubt it will make much of a difference; after all, in Mr. O'Reilly's world, he never actually loses.

Somebody's Gotta Go: New Reality Show Makes Me Hate Us All

I think I've just seen proof that our civilization does not deserve to survive.

The buzz is that FOX is coming up with something on the order of an abomination. No mere trifle this, the show, said to be titled Somebody's Gotta Go, is all about people losing their job, and their fellows slipping the knife in.

Bob Sassone at TV Squad:

Someone's Gotta Go will feature employees of a real company who give a pay cut to a fellow employee and vote out a fellow employee at the end of each show. Please note that these are real employees at a real company who are really going to lose their jobs, not to mention have their personal details revealed on national television.
I was going to link to what Sarah Ball at Newsweek's PopVox column said about it, but she seemed to enjoy the idea too much. If this idea wasn't appalling enough on its face not to make its sordid way from the Netherlands (where worldwide TV purveyor Endemol concocted this foul thing) to be pitched, straight-faced and unironically, to a TV network in the USA, then what it says about us as a culture is too ugly to put to words.

Seriously, I don't have a funny rejoinder to this one. This just makes me sad. Seriously, it makes me sad.

But don't let me harsh your vibe. If this sort of program sounds like fun to you, watch away. You're the one who'll have to look yourself in the mirror.

Abandon handbasket; we've arrived in Hell.

If Ed Orkney Hadn't Died Back In '76, This Would Have Killed Him

When we heard that (GI)Joes was going into bankruptcy, a lot of us hoped the handwriting wasn't on the wall, though deep down, a lot of us knew it was.

How did we know? The seeds were planted when an equity firm bought what was then GI Joe's, a Northwest friend since all of us can remember. GI Joe's was forever, man.

In retrospect, I think the surprising thing was how fast Joe's collapsed. From cherry property for expansion and competition on 2007 to failing company by the end of 2008, mere weeks after opening its 31st location in Nampa, Idaho – that's fast enough to make one's head swim.

We maybe really knew it in our gut when they did the "G.I"-ectomy, turning G.I. Joe's , the friendly Northwest friend, into Joe's Sports, Outdoors, and More, a name generic enough to go up against any sports retailer in any market.

Trouble is, there were already too many of them.

I don't know how long the late Mr. Orkney figured his business would last when he started it in that tent on North Vancouver Avenue in 1952. And I'm pretty sure that Norm Daniels didn't figure that when Gryphon got a controlling interest in Joe's that they would go and de-Oregonize the name and then see the company into a swift decline.

But that's what we got.

One of my first memories was the store opening in Salem in 1976, when we could finally go to G.I. Joe's whenever we wanted and not just on our all-to-infrequent jaunts to Stumptown. It was the first store opened outside the Portland area, and the fifth G.I. Joe's, on the way to 31 locations across the Northwest.

Those were good times, my friends. Good times.

G'bye, G.I. Joe's.

Cash Gifting is Back. Don't Fall For It!

So, I'm getting ready to go to bed, getting one more check in on the email, stuff like that, and I'm listening to The POJ, and I hear a report on an old scheme designed to separate the desperate from their money.

It's "cash gifting". The report mentioned some staggering amonut of videos online, so I surfed on over to, and plugged in the words "Cash Gifting" – and the response said it was able to come up with just over twenty thousand videos about cash gifting.

And it's tempting to think that "well, yes, that's the sort of thing you expect to see in hard times", and write it off. As liberals and Official Smart People™, I'd like to point out that we can do better.

I've never been in a pyramid or cash gifting program. I don't know anyone who ever was, and I don't want to know anyone who ever does. So I speak as I find here. Here's what it's all about.

"Cash Gifting" is yet another case of old wine in new skins. Ever since the original chain letters (you know, the one where you send $5 to each of five names on a list and add your name to the bottom of a list and mail that off to five or so friends) and Make.Money.Fast, the chain letter-pyramid scheme has morphed just enough to seem legal and stay ahead of people who find out about it.

The current idea is a variation on an old theme. The way the schemes make the dodge look legit is to use the concept of a gift or a game to establish consent amongst participants and evade taxes (you can't tax a gift, after all, right?).

In the 70s and 80s, something called the "Airplane Game" was popular. This was a four-level tree, the top being the "Captain", the second level (2 participants) being the "co-pilots", the third level (4 participants) being the "Crew", and the fourth level (8 participants) were known as "passengers". When the passenger level filled out, each paying typically $1000 to get on board (that was usually it, but there were probably as many different costs-of-admission as there were schemes out there), all the money gets passed up the tree to the Captain, who "pilots off" and goes away with his gifted loot. The tree splits in two, the two "Co Pilots" become "Pilots", and each tree works to fill its passenger level.

It seems a reasonable plan. Since the money is gifts, they can't be taxed; since you only have to get 8 suckers on the bottom to complete the tree, it seems to be immune to that geometric progression that makes pyramid structures untenable because by the thirteenth generation you need over 13 Billion members to keep the pyramid going.

But when you think about it, the limited nature of the gifting tree doesn't prevent saturation, just forestalls it a bit. Because when that pilot flies off with his cash, the two airplanes now have to find sixteen people to let the new pilots take wing. And sixteen more for each if that pilot can take off. And so on.

It's not too long before enough burned people exist to bring the whole airline down.

Now, I told you all that to tell you this. Based on my hearing about the new programs on The POJ and my search on YouTube, it would seem gifting programs are back. These days, they're called The People's Program, and they call them a a gifting program. Video after video with similar claims, loaded with similarly-worded positive reviews, and links to similar websites, many of whom use identical graphics! Images of happy smug people fanning Benajmins in front of yo face and having their pictures on DVD cases promoting the program abound.

The catch these days to try to make it legal is that they try to leverage the searching power and self-selecting nature of internet users to promise you that only people looking to get into and profit from gifitng programs will see your appeal. This is supposed to keep it legit by not attracting people who don't know what it is you're talking about.

It will still get you in trouble. I've read a lot about these programs, and it seems that the "tax free gift" claim and the targeted interest concept has been used so much that the IRS sees it for what it is; an attempt to get money and evade paying taxes for it.

And even if you are daring and bold and desperate enough to give it a shot, consider that at least one estimate I've seen suggest that no matter how large the model becomes, 88% of participants will likely lose money.

The only way to be sure you're going to make money in a gifting scheme, really, is to start one. And then you're (sorry for the bluntness) just hoodwinking money away from other people who are just as desperate as you. Can you look yourself in the mirror and live with yourself? I know I couldn't.

Once again, I've never been in such a scheme (nothing magical about that, just my morbid interest in toxic social structures leading to voluminious reading, so I was luckily forewarned) and I never will be because it's logically and ethically suspect. And I've never known a person to be suckered by a Gifting Club, and I never want to know one.

But when I hear that there are tens of thousands of videos on YouTube with a high-tech version of the same old pyramid plan, I have to speak up.

And that's what I'm doing.

If you're tempted, don't do it. Please.

You only think you're badly off now. If you're lucky, you'll just lose your money.

Don't do it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

If You Think TriMet Service Cuts Are Bad ...

... just be glad you don't live in St. Louis, where the transit system is getting ab-so-lute-ly gutted:

The service area for this multibillion-dollar regional asset will shrink by two thirds, literally overnight.

The Metro transit agency faces an operating deficit of $45 million this year, which is expected to reach $50 million next year. Nearly one in every four of its 2,300 employees will be laid off in the coming weeks. Many highly skilled and productive employees already are being poached by transit systems in other regions.

Service will end at 2,300 of the 9,000 bus stops and shelters on Missouri’s side of the system; service in Illinois, which is fully funded, won’t be affected. A bus fleet of 320 will shrink to about 140. MetroLink light rail riders will see one-third fewer trains during rush hour. Call-A-Ride service for the disabled will be slashed.

Most city and inner-ring suburban service will be cut 25 percent to 75 percent. Most of St. Louis County outside the Interstate 270 loop will receive no service. Limited service to the Chesterfield Valley was salvaged through the end of the year as a result of a last-minute deal between Metro and far-sighted municipal leaders and local businesses.

The article at StLouisToday was written on the 27th. These service cuts are already in effect. Now, I'm no transit planner and have actually not enough knowledge to be useful, but I'm guessing if you reduced weekend TriMet service to a handful of Portland-only routes, permanently on Sunday schedules, cut back MAX service to half-hourly on all lines, reduced fixed-route service to Portland Only except during rush hours, restricted TriMet LIFT customers to 8 am to 5 pm service, six days a week, you might come close to the pain that St Louis is feeling right now.

I'm not a fan of the cutbacks TriMet's proposing, but – for now, anyway – we're doing better than most, even with the much-criticized (but still beloved) Streetcar and Aerial Tram.

If the Federal Government really wants to step up with our tax dollars and rebuild the country the Republicans have been tearing down since Reagan, a good place to start would be by funding mass transit so that all cities have decent (if not ideal) service levels.

In other words, start treating mass transit as a necessity, not as an option or a luxury. Because, if you're interested in having viable cities, it really is a necessity.

Chinook Salmon: Outlook Still Grim, Fishing Season Cancelled


With northern California chinook salmon runs forecast to be at historic lows, the sport salmon season south of Cape Falcon scheduled for March 15 through April 30 has been closed.

“Chinook salmon forecasts for runs that contribute to ocean salmon fisheries off Oregon are estimated to be at very low levels,” said Eric Schindler, ocean salmon supervising biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. “Critically low numbers of fall chinook within the Sacramento River and a very low forecast for Klamath River three-year-old chinook head the list of problems facing salmon managers this year."

What could I possibly add to that?

The Long UO-PDX Made In Oregon Sign Nightmare Is Over

It's just going to read Oregon.

The compromise with UO which gives the City right of purchase if UO ever quits the building is a nice touch, I thought.

Free Stuff: Worth What You Pay For It

Screenclipped from one of the far-too-many aggregate sites that I waste my life at each and every day:

Well, Mom Always Said that free stuff is worth what you paid for it, but in this case I'd say it's a bit overpriced.

No, silly ... don't click on the ad. While I acknowlege that there are douchbags in the world that get way too much importance, I don't actually link to them. Jeeze.

WaPo Columnist Names The Best Oregon Political Blogs ...

... and the envelope please!

The Fix, Chris Cizilla's (wasn't that a Japanese movie monster?) blog on the WaPo, has laid out the best reads amongst the politiblogs infesting the noosphere like a plague (did I say that?), and of Oregon's amazing population, he could only come up with two:
  1. The Shadout Mapes On Politics at The Oregonian
  2. Blue Oregon
That's it, people. Just two. I am a little miffed that mine didn't make the cut, but I'm a sprout, so I'll get over it. But there are others which were quite worthy (LoadedO for at least one).

And so it goes.

We'll try for it next year, of course.

The Exquisite Pain Of The Dwindling Bourgeosie Spreads To Willamette Week

The double-edged sword of modern times just keeps writing my blog posts for me.

For instance, a few posts ago, I mocked The Oregonian for their quaint, dear idea of what down-market means. I found it terribly, terribly dear ... in the way the mortal whistles as they pass the graveyard.

It shows a certain decadence amongst the decreasing members of the middle class that they regard some things ("staycations", economy packs, cheap beer and the like) as a big discovery when the underclass that supports them sees them as everyday life. It's like telling that awkward joke in the hopes of "identifying" with some "underpriviledged class" and makes them look, well, kinda silly.

I don't mean to take the piss out of them so much. It's tough in the newspaper biz these days. But its just kind of galling when you see people who voted for Republicans and waxed on their intellectual offal for years panic when the bill comes due and break their own arms patting themselves on the back for surviving so brilliantly when the shell game is a way of life for most everyone who hasn't even gotten their chances.

Nobody was ever poor before they were poor, you see. They're redefining poor. Poor people just ain't been doin' it right.

And that brings me to Willamette Week. I am very reluctant to kick someone when they're down (remember, they got layoffs and deep salary cuts very recently), but their latest interactive initiative just comes off as a little out of touch in the above ways, as well as simply cribbing something the New York Times is already doing.

Picturing the Recession is a call for readers to send in their photos of how everyone around them is coping. WW's version is called Shuttered Portland, and since people love being intarwebs-famous for at least two minutes, I'm guessing they'll get a good amount of photos (even though the NYT version already accepts photos from just about anybody), but the text punched the same buttons on me that The Oregonian's gently-condescending attempt at humor did.

Just because I'm an irritated curmudgeon, I'll cherry pick some rhetorical questions from the article and answer them, and maybe my point will become clear:

Are you playing Wii at home with friends instead of meeting them at bars? You can afford a Wii and friends? This is hard done by to you?

What’s in your refrigerator now? Leftovers, bargain buys from Food 4 Less, and stuff past its expiry. If we're feeling flush, we chill up some water (at the rate Portland bills us, it's pretty much a luxury anyway

What used to be there? See last question.

Has your favorite store closed? Food 4 Less? No, it's still open.

What’s become of it? It's gotten more crowded with middle-class people who never thought they'd be poor, and whose faces alternate between the self-congratulatory look of being brave enough to shop with the black, brown, and white proles and a momentary glaze of terror that maybe this isn't a temporary economic reset for them.

Is the store vacant? No.

If not, what moved in? See the answer two questions back, chump.

Okay, so I'm sour grapes and all, whatever. I never got the chances that some have gotten and all that, call me what you will. But this bizarre fascination with being Newly Poor and the strictly bourgeosie way of looking at it (by newsers that expect me to lend them crediblity) just sticks in my throat like a bone.

What I'd like to see from the news is more actual serious reporting on the deteriorating economy and the dwindling middle class (and consequently, the dwindling chances to become part of it) and more riding on the people pulling the levers to do the right thing and stop playing games, and less droll ironic commentary on what it's like to be poor these days.

I can save you a lot of tedious work.

Three words: being poor sucks. There. Your job's done for you.

I'm not saying you shouldn't take pix and send them to WW. Hell, why not? Sounds like fun anyway.

(Hat tip: Carla "The Unimpeachable" Axtman at BlueOregon)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Limbaugh Pwned By Republican LIstener Who's Had A Gutful

If you haven't heard this one yet, you need to. It's the story of a man forced to look in the mirror and recoiling at what he saw.

You know him as Rush Limbaugh. Add your own epithets.

Thank God, incidentally, for Media Matters for America. They need no introduction around the liberal noosphere, of course, but I mention them because they are heroes to me, if only because someone over there listens to Limbaugh so we don't have to.

That is one crappy job. Must be just below Assistant Crack Whore on the crappy jobs scale. But it's a public service to be sure.

Anyway, I just heard this on Malloy, But all the stuff is over at the Media Matters site, including a recording. The caller is someone named Charlie, who identifies himself as someone who votes conservative and didn't want to see Obama elected and who served in the Marines and the Army, and all of a sudden, apparently, he had a gutful of it all, and it centers on that thing we don't do, torture:

Thanks, Rush. Rush, listen, I voted Republican, and I didn't -- really didn't want to see Obama get in office. But, you know, Rush, you're one reason to blame for this
election, for the Republicans losing.

First of all, you kept harping about voting for Hillary. The second big issue is the
-- was the torture issue. I'm a veteran. We're not supposed to be torturing these people. This is not Nazi Germany, Red China, or North Korea. There's other ways of interrogating people, and you kept harping about it -- "It's OK," or "It's not really torture." And it was just more than waterboarding. Some of these prisoners were killed under torture.

And it just -- it was crazy for you to keep going on and on like Levin and Hannity and Hewitt. It's
like you're all brainwashed.

And my last comment is, no matter what Obama does, you will still criticize him because I believe you're brainwashed. You're just -- and I hate to say it -- but I think you're a brainwashed Nazi. Anyone who could believe in torture just  has got to be - there's got to be something wrong with them.

Yes, that's right. You just heard a Republican call Rush Limbaugh a brainwashed Nazi. It took several minutes for Rush to get back on his pins but he was never able to regain the initiative, so he ended the call and lept off the deep end into the river of de Nile:

Charles, Barack Obama is president of the United States today because of stupid, ignorant people who think like you do. You pose -- you and your ignorance are the most expensive commodity this country has. You think you know everything. You don't know diddly-squat.

You call me a Nazi? You call me somebody who supports torture and you want credibility on this program? You know, you're just plain embarrassing and ludicrous. But it doesn't surprise me that you're the kind of Republican that our last candidate attracted. Because you're no Republican at all based on what the hell you've said here.

When confronted with the truth of what he's done, Rush Limbaugh recoils in horror at it ... and projects it on the messenger. The mistake here would be to assume that Mr. Limbaugh holds only liberals or people who don't agree with him in contempt. He holds all his listeners in contempt. If he didn't he would hand out such intellectual offal.

Of course I didn't excerpt it all ... that'd just be rude of me. Go to Media Matters to read the whole thing and listen to the clip.

It's historic, in a way. There may well be no better exposition of the corruption that is Rush Limbaugh and exactly what he does when confronted with it. It deserves a listen. It deserves two listens.

Simple Answers To Simple Questions on: Wingnuts Fomenting Open Rebellion

Kari at BlueOregon:

Will the responsible Oregon Republicans denounce these dark demons that stoke the fires of revolution?


This has been another edition of Simple Answers To Simple Questions.

We would answer the question Is There Such A Thing As A Repsonsible Oregon Republican, but we do not run a series called Oregon Political Koans. Maybe someone else will. I"m just not that smart.

A Completely Tasteless and Insensitive Statement About The Nature Of Desperation These Days

Making the below is wrong and tasteless and sad and I apologize in advance, but the moment I saw the story on the news I couldn't get it out of my head.

It's wrong, and once again, I apologize:

I am a rotten person.

Update: they got the dude in northern Cali.

Monday, April 6, 2009

On Public Assistance In TN? Forget About Winning The Lottery.

In our latest example of the pure hatred and disdain the Republicans have for the poor, comes this amazing concept from the state of Tennessee. According to reports we've heard over the weekend, Tennessee State Rep. Stacey Campfield (R-But What Did You Expect) wants to harsh one of the few buzzes poor folks get:

"This bill prohibits issuance of lottery prizes in the amount of $600 or more to any person who receives state or federal economic or medical assistance due to indigency."

Arrie Chamberlain says the measure is unfair. She plays the lottery every week, is on the government's food stamps program and has a job.

"If I work and go out and earn a living, why can't I spend the money? Everybody else gets to. Just because I make less money and have more obligations doesn't mean the state can tell me how to spend my money. "

If there's anything that makes my blood boil, I mean really boil, it's the way we expect The Poor to be more virtuous than us, and if we don't, well, we despise them. The Poor aren't Poor because they're evil, they're poor because, unlike you (the editorial You, please note, not the personal You) their chances didn't work out. And we aren't necessarily any better than them, just a bit luckier.

Now, I don't condone addiction or frittering away, but I also don't begrudge poor people the occaisional drink or lottery ticket. If my tax money is supporting someone having just a little fun, so be it. The mass of poor people who dissipate themselves themselves through drink and fun is a myth, just like the Cadillac-driving "welfare queen" that the Reagan cosmology gave us.

(for the record, I drink sparingly, and never play the Lottery.)

Think about it. Just because you're poor doesn't mean you don't want to just kick back, enjoy, and dampen the pain for a little while.

And that's not all, of course. Rep Campfield's idea of social engineering is to tell poor people who are taking any public assistance, even if they earn most of thier own money and just can't make ends meet, that they can't win the lottery.

Poor? Tough. Suck it. Win the lottery? Screw you.

The only thing Stacey Campfield deserves for this is the big middle finger.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Can Unicorns Save Our Made In Oregon Sign?

I don't know. Kinda scary actually:

Yea, I'm late to the gathering as usual.

Stole it from here. You know actualy, after that last curmudgeonly rant, one look at that sign and I'm feeling better already.

What The Oregonian Thinks of As Frills ...

I admit, sometimes beating up on The Oregonian is a bit too easy to do. It is sometimes real hard to see through the veil to the disdain it's had for the working people of its constituency though the endless Macy's ads or the celebration of boutique-y food tastes in the FOOD(you can't afford)Day section.

The mango chutney is a nice touch, though.

Now, we must be aware that there is a upper-middle crust in town that think of themselves as The Real And Struggling Portlanders. There is a certain sort of mental illness that falls on these types. They, for some odd reason, believe that everyone sees the world as they do, and that everyone else they don't know is on their level.

Therefore, if they aren't hurting, nobody else is. The general cultural level of a place doesn't go down until it goes down for them.

They're terrified of that.

Every now and then, someone with The Oregonian attempts, awkwardly to show how aware they are of how hard it's getting for the commonfolk, and of course, it comes off wide of the mark and ... well, awkward. No better example can be found than the article written for the front page of The Oregonian's "How We Live" section (I throw up in my mouth a little every time I see that section name) titled "The Frill Is Gone" (A play on The Thrill Is Gone by BB King? How witty!), which is supposed to be "a light look on how life in the Northwest is shaking out in lean times".

Oh, goody. Let's see how light. Here's a selection:

Out with the old ... Grande chai latte with extra whip.
In with the new ... Thermos of Folger's.

Oh, good Lord, you're kidding me, right? Thermos of Folgers? Are you people feeling that sorry for yourselves? You can get Cascade Pride whole bean coffee for a good price at WinCo, and it looks like you haven't priced the coffee at Dutch Bros (very nice, resonable price).

Let's look at another one:

Out with the old ... Pint of organic microbrew made from locally grown hops.
In with the new ... Six-pack of PBR.

Six-pack of PBR? Is that when you've hit rock bottom? No, when you've hit rock bottom is when you're drinking Milwaukee's Best. Nice try. When's the hair shirt coming out?

Out with the old ... Private school.
In with the new ... Public school.

That one's just as well and actually an improvement: I think private school graduates have gotten us into enough trouble lately. On a related note, I think I know where all that money to run the public schools have gotten off to.

Out with the old ... iTunes.
In with the new ... Free music podcasts.

Already there, bucko. Well, actually, not exactly. iTunes is free. And you don't have to buy a whole damn album. 99 cents a song remember? With money management skillz like that, I'm not surprised y'all think PBR is the same as economizing.

Out with the old ... Powell's New York Times best-seller shelf.
In with the new ... Any shelf at the Multnomah County Library.

... or any shelf at Powells that has books that say used on them. Crimony.

Just a couple more ...

Out with the old ... Satellite dish.
In with the new ... Recycled rabbit ears.

Oh, now you're down with the common man. Welcome to our world. But wait ....

Out with the old ... Portland Opera tickets.
In with the new ... Free Metropolitan Opera on cable.

I thought we just got rid of pay TV. You figure out how to get that on rabbit ears, baby you will be rich!

Out with the old ... Shopping for clothes at Pioneer Place.
In with the new ... Shopping for clothes at Goodwill Industries

I'm not going to mock this one. It's just kicking someone when they're down.

A light look at the new Northwest frugality? This is so shallow it makes my stomach hurt.

And I actually do like the Oregonian. Ohman's cartoons are incomparable. Editorial writing–when they aren't penning anti-working class missives and chiding the rabble for wanting a higher mimium wage-–is usually first class. And that too, is my opinion.

Maybe I out to try to get to my point here. I'm always amused when someone from the middle-upper-classes gets to downsize their personal economies. Now, I'm quite aware that a lot of people have indeed worked quite hard and deserve the lifestyle that they're now losing. Perhaps even the staff of The Oregonian numbers among many of them.

So why is it that whenever the paper comments on the New Lean Times they give me the impression that they're people who've never not been a little too well-paid at something all of a sudden seeing that they're on a long glide path into The Land Of The Rest Of Us ... and it's scaring them to death?

Just maybe they're waking up to the reality that what they consider reasonable pay for honorable work is something that a lot of us who live and work on the socioeconomic floors below them only wish we had a chance at. And some of us have striven quite hard for it. The Clinton boom? Passed us by. The dotcom boom? We fantasized about working in a company that had a pingpong table and hot and cold running lattes. Never happened to us.

Prepare to get your perceptions enlarged.

Welcome to our world, Sparky. There's not much here, but it's ours.

Broadway, 39th, Grand: Not Only No, But Hell No

The buzz: The city of Portland has just released results of a postcard survey poll on the possibility of the three target streets – Grand Avenue, Broadway, or E. 39th Av – would wear the moniker Cesar Chavez. And the results are ... urgh.
  • Broadway: support, 73; opposed, 1,276
  • Grand Avenue: support, 69; opposed, 372
  • 39th Avenue: support, 91; opposed, 694.
The idea is to now go back to Council with recommendations based on this. Since stop the insanity has been deemed an unacceptable result, the one with the weakest opposition will probably get the nod.

That means you, Grand Avenue.

That'd by my prediction, anyway.

You know, the memory of Cesar Chavez deserved better than this. Read Sean Cruz' blog here, and here, to find out why that is. The quote to me that illustrates exactly the shallownness and arrogance of the advocates that needs repeating is this one:
The Committee-Once-Bent-on-Renaming-Interstate-Avenue has never asked the City or the County or the State to put other possible public property naming options on the table, and Portland remains stuck in the mire largely because the White Folks in Charge at all levels of
Oregon government have been so fearful of alienating a potential voting bloc.

The street-focused effort will win no awards for creativity or imagination, in part because there is no major street in Portland that is a natural fit for a Mexican American hero.

Nothing underscores this point more than the fact that the Committee is equally
good with Broadway, 39th, Grand or Interstate Avenue, so far….
The process has been hopelessly ruined by power center after power center bypassing through-going rules put in place by people concerned that just the sort of thing would happen that, in fact, has happened, because they are justified enough.

We now face the ironic proposition that, in Portland, a city justifiably reputed for a progressive outlook, we are having an ugly argument over whether to name a street after someone who embodies a great many qualities that we all hold quite dear.


Mom Always Said it's fun and games until someone loses a limb.

And to add an observation of my own, from Cervantes:
Hay más mal en aldea que se sueña.
My translation may be a bit off. Apologies if so.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Mannix: You Know Their Tired Of You When They Won't Even Laugh At Your Jokes Anymore

So it seems that Kevin "Not The 1970s TV Detective" Mannix knows how to see in April – with a rather high-quality joke:

Because Oregon doesn't have an LG, you see. In case you aren't in on the joke.

Read here at the WW Kev's press release. I don't appreciate Republicans (and Kevvy less than most) but I do appreciate a healthy sense of humor, and this was a good one.

But boy, do his Republican cohort wish he'd just enjoy retirement. One editorial in the Oregon Catalyst and the disdain just happens. It ain't pretty. You can read it at this URL:

which I'm going to make you cut and paste because I'm not going to sully my beautiful blog with links to a place like that.

Kevin, you are now an outcast in your own party.

Didn't think that would happen, did you?

That's the way your party rolls, though. Anyone on the outside could have told you that.

But anyone on the outside is an enemy, amirite?

But seriously, I thought it was a good one.

But everyone knows that, out of respect, John Lim was going to get to be LG first.