Friday, February 13, 2015


I think it's too bad about John Kitzhaber resigning as governor of Oregon, because I think he was pretty good when it came to matters of policy.  I think he did a lot more to help our state than he did to hurt it.  But there is also a silver lining to the situation.   

Once we get past all the conservative celebration, and once those yo-yos all realize there is still a Democrat running the state (and that their celebratory reactions will probably just make those in Oregon who are blue get all the more blue, all the more quickly), they'll start preparing to run another loony for 2016 when Kate Brown is done with her term as interim governor. 

There is one thing we have been able to count on in Oregon during the last twenty years:  the GOP will generally run candidates who are so far to the right they are unelectable in a state with a couple of liberal metro areas like Lane and Multnomah counties.  And as so many Republicans are so far to the right nowadays that they wouldn't consider running a centrist candidate, I think Oregon is still safely blue for a while...  unless the GOP stops foaming at the mouth long enough to realize that they need to pick someone who's not an out-and-out doofus to run for Senate, Congress, Governor, etc.  Oregonians might elect a moderate Republican.  But modern Republicans tarnish their party's brand to the point where even such a task as getting a moderate elected borders on monumental.

The Republicans have made their own bed, and they are lying in it.   

So let them pop their champagne corks, dance in the streets, etc.  Whatever.  It's all premature, because the Dems will have fewer distractions now.  If anything, Kitzhaber's resignation will just make it easier for the state legislature, run by Democrats, to more-easily pass left-leaning legislation.  The Dems are ahead 16-14 in the Senate, and 34-26 in the House.  ALL seats were up for re-election this past November, so the people have spoken.   

We all know the Republicans will be shouting angrily into their conservative echo chambers again soon enough.  They are probably happy Kitzhaber resigned, but if they are considering their party's prospects, maybe they should be sad that he is no longer the governor. 

Saturday, August 09, 2014


I thought I'd share a few pictures of a hiking trip I took this past week in the Wallowa Mountains of NE Oregon.  These pictures were all taken in the magnificent Eagle Cap Wilderness Area.

My 57-year-old body handled the trip.  Getting in a lot of good exercise off and on during the last year helped a lot!  My friend Rand and I hired some great people to haul our gear in for us on horseback, so we didn't have to carry more than what was in our daypacks, which was about 20 pounds each.  We were camped about a quarter mile beyond Moccasin Lake.

The first day was an 8.5 mile walk to the camp site.  There was an elevation gain of 1,600 feet in the first 2.5 miles, which is steep.  After that it was pretty easy though, with a gain of 700 feet in the next 5 miles.  The last mile and a half was up and down to an excellent (and remote) campsite our packers found for us:

We hiked to Razz Lake on Day 2, a 900-foot climb in one mile after a 3-mile walk to where we left the main trail to head up the mountainside.  We futzed around for a while trying to find the old trail to the lake, and finally found it about halfway up the hill after working our way up through steep hillsides and boulders.  The lake is a gorgeous spot, and it was nice to see it again after being away for close to 30 years.

Razz Lake

Razz Lake

Day 3 featured an all-on-trail hike through Glacier Pass to Glacier Lake.  It was a climb of 1,000 feet in about a mile and half, fairly steep to the pass.  Another half mile and 400 feet down the other side and we were at Glacier Lake, another place I hadn't seen in years.  On the way back we tried to replicate an off-trail side trip I did 40 years ago, and found that it looked pretty impossible...  how did I do it way back then?  We decided to save it for the next day.

The Matterhorn as seen looking north from the Glacier Pass trail

Me and Rand near the top of Glacier Pass

Glacier Lake as seen looking south from Glacier Pass

Glacier Lake

Rand at Glacier Pass

Pocket Lake was for Day 4.  It was only about a 5-mile round trip, but none of it was on established
trails.  The lake sits in a cirque 1,000 feet up a hillside strewn with boulders ranging in size from wastebaskets, chairs, and tables to VW bugs.  There was a fair amount of scrambling near the top, including a section that involved crawling uphill along the top of a fairly high snowbank.  But all that was worth it for the chance to spend some time at the lake.  The way back down was marred by a couple of falls, but I got back to camp with nothing more than a sore shin and numerous rock scrapes.

Me at Pocket Lake

Pocket Lake 

The area around Pocket Lake

I got banged up but the trip to Pocket Lake and back was worth it!

On the last day the packers came to get our gear, and we hiked the 8.5 miles back to the trail head.  All in all, it was worth the soreness.  I was proud that I was able to do things that I think at least 80% of people my age would not be able to do, proving to myself that all the exercising I did during the past year has helped my strength and endurance.  Fun stuff!  :-)

Eagle Cap Mountain as seen from the East Fork Lostine River Trail 

Wednesday, July 09, 2014



I would have thought that by now America would have gotten over a good deal of the racism that has plagued us over the last 150+ years.  If anything, it is getting worse.  And because the right wing is down, they seem to have decided that it's now OK to be openly racist...  no codes or dog whistles any more, they just go ahead and say things they would held back on even 10-15 years ago.

They attack the president because they are afraid of him and of what they believe he represents, which I believe is that they now know they can no longer "keep the black man down".  Because a lot of them are small-minded on this, it scares the shit out of them.  Obama's election and re-election were great days for our country, and so many of them just hate that.  It's a disruption to their tradition, to their perception of the status quo...  and we all know they don't handle major changes well at all.


There are all kinds of trains leaving the station nowadays.  They can shut up and get on the train, or they can be left behind, in the dust.  We can do it without them if we have to, and I know many of us will be more than glad to help drag them kicking and screaming out of the 19th century and into the 21st.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


"We cheer for cruelty and say that we are asking for personal responsibility among those people who are not us, because the people who are not us do not deserve the same benefits of the political commonwealth that we have. In our politics, we have become masters of camouflage. We practice fiscal cruelty and call it an economy. We practice legal cruelty and call it justice. We practice environmental cruelty and call it opportunity. We practice vicarious cruelty and call it entertainment. We practice rhetorical cruelty and call it debate."

- Charles Pierce 

Friday, June 06, 2014


The prisoner swap the United States made with the Taliban is angering a lot of Americans.  I for one do not like the idea that five of the worst Taliban leaders are now free.  But some of what else is angering so many people is hearsay.

Granted, much of the criticism of Bergdahl is coming from members of his unit and others who know him, and these people are probably in a very good position to know about his character.  On the other hand, Bergdahl has not faced any sort of investigation since the swap.  It seems premature to declare him guilty before he has had a chance to state his case, to be heard and considered by the military.  Sure, it could well be a simple matter of formally declaring him a deserter or a traitor, but until he has had his "day in court" I don't believe we can say with certainty that he is either of those things.

Innocent until proven guilty in America, not the other way around.  If the military finds him guilty of any of these accusations, then I believe it was not a good trade.  Until then, it is what it is.  

Should the United States engage in negotiations with outfits like the Taliban?  I think it depends.  Certainly, if they demanded something like a small/tactical nuclear weapon in exchange for prisoners, we would say "No".  For money?  Sounds like another "No" to me.  For some of their people we're holding prisoner?  That sounds like a better way to go.  It seems to me we have been able to nail their leaders every so often, and I trust that we will be out to find and kill these five guys we just let go.  Don't give them anything they can use to promote their ends through destruction, like weapons, or money to buy weapons.  Get our guys back, give them some of theirs, and then show them who's best at tracking people down and getting rid of them.

"The United States does not negotiate with terrorists" is another right wing slogan, and little else.  Fully supporting that statement is somewhat akin to supporting Grover Norquist's pledge to not raise taxes.  Full support of either necessitates taking the stand of "under no circumstances".  And there are going to be circumstances in which we will have a chance to get some of our people back.  And as I understand it, we have an obligation to bring our people home whether they are dead or alive, whether they have done right or wrong.

I don't believe this controversy will cost Democrats elections in November.  I also don't believe the tragic episode at the embassy in Benghazi will cost the left appreciably.  What is problematic for the Democrats is the craven way in which the Republican party is using these things as ways to make people angry enough to donate money to right wing causes.  So many people on the right hate the president so much they are willing to do and say anything to defeat him, and they have an army of millions of incurious supporters at their disposal.

They will even say things like "Bowe Bergdahl is the worst person to wear the uniform" while conveniently forgetting that Nidal Hasan wore a uniform too.  They will refuse to admit that they were for this prisoner swap until it was made...  and of course now they are "angry" and coming out against it.  Why is this?

It is because today's right wing tends to suffer from Oppositional Defiant Disorder, also known as O.D.D. or ODD, a problem usually found in children.  Here are some of the behaviors associated with the disorder, from

"- Negativity
- Defiance
- Hostility directed toward authority figures

"These are behaviors which can cause the child to regularly and consistently:

"- Have temper tantrums
- Be argumentative
- Refuse to comply with requests or rules
- Annoy other people deliberately
- Blames others for mistakes or misbehavior
- Acts touchy and is easily annoyed
- Feel anger and resentment
- Act aggressively toward peers
- Have difficulty maintaining friendships
- Have academic problems
- Feel a lack of self-esteem

"In addition, the child isn't likely to see his or her behavior as defiant.  Instead, the person will probably believe that unreasonable demands are being placed on him or her."

It seems to me a lot of these characteristics fit today's right wingers.

Again, this is a condition which occurs in childhood.  If you wonder why trying to reason with today's right wingers can be like trying to reason with 10-year-olds, this could go a long way toward explaining that.

What causes ODD?

"- A child's natural disposition
- Limitations or developmental delays in the ability to process thoughts and feelings
- Lack of supervision
- Inconsistent or harsh discipline
- Abuse or neglect
- An imbalance of certain brain chemicals, such as serotonin

So if you think their behavior is odd, well...   it IS.

Thursday, May 29, 2014


Right-wingers/"libertarians" might want to think twice about worshiping this troll, or even before saying nice things about her.

Think about this the next time you think of Paul Ryan...  he is a big fan of hers.

Sunday, May 18, 2014


This is some pretty sad stuff.

Anyone who doesn't believe religious conservatism and its use by the Republican party is a problem in our country hasn't been paying attention for the last 20-30 years.