Saturday, May 31, 2008

Open Letter to Scott McClellan

Dear Scott,

What the hell happened to you? Did you have an attack of conscience? Did someone put the fear of God into you? Did being a loyal Bushevik no longer pay off? Did the publishing industry of New York make a bargain with you that they'd only publish if you came clean about your role as Bush's propaganda minister? I mean, you titled your book "What Happened", so what the fuck happened anyway? Why turncoat now? Why did you wait so late? What would possess you to come clean with the truth after all these years? I mean, when you were ordered to pass on the official lie to the press corps in your official duties as the president's press propagandist, where was your conscience then?

Forgive me if I think this book is little more than an egotistical mea culpa in which you hope to redeem your piddling place in history. There is no doubt that you will go down as one of Bush's ineffective propagandists. There's no escaping culpability here. You are guilty by association with the worst band of thieves, liars, murderers, and plunderers this nation has ever seen. You are responsible for the lies that were passed around, for the smears against anyone who questioned the claims and anyone who disagreed with the views of this White House. I don't care if you got an attack of conscience when feeding your children breakfast and you realized what kind of country they'll inherit (actually, I say that without knowing if you even have children and what ages they might be). The fact remains, when America needed people who are loyal to the founding document...the U.S. stand up for the truth when it mattered the most, you failed to speak out and became a mouthpiece for a lie. Your loyalty to Bush was more important than American values, the truth, and people's lives.

Go ahead and cry. It's funny to watch the reactions of people like Cheney and Rove and Ari Fleischer...all claiming that your words don't reflect the man that they knew. Because you turned coat on them, you just lost friends among the people you served with for years. Do you expect to be embraced by the people you once lied to? You are a fool. Watch the film "Benedict Arnold." That man died a lonely death in England because he betrayed Washington and the Patriots while the Royalists in England never truly trusted him. That's what happens when you turn coat on people. No one likes you. The liars hate you for exposing their lies as one who was once a part of it. The people you lied to don't like you because your motives are questioned as to "why now?" Had you resigned at the first instance you were asked to lie, you might've gained respect. But when you wait to reveal the truth in a memoir, it's too late. Hell still has a room with your name on it. You might want to pack your bags for Baghdad to get used to the heat in your retirement years.

If you truly are remorseful, here are some things you can do for your country:

(1) Donate all proceeds from the sale of your book to veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan;

(2) Speak at the Democratic National Convention about how you were conned by the lies of George W. Bush and reveal everything you know about John McCain.

(3) Tell us what the real relationship is between Bush and that gay escort James Guckert / Jeff Gannon, who posed as a reporter for an online journal to ask softball questions of the president.

(4) Serve in Iraq for the rest of your days on earth or until we leave Iraq, whichever comes first.

(5) Vote Democratic in the November election.

Failure to do any of these five things reveals that you are not serious about being remorseful over the part you played in carrying out the lies of this administration. You deserve no honour, no awards, no financial benefits for coming clean now. You are a despicable human being who I hope will go to your grave with a nagging guilty conscience for failing to speak out when it mattered most. The lives of over 4,000 Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are on your conscience. You cannot escape your role in this immoral war. Just as the Nazis had their propaganda minister who was charged with war crimes at Nuremberg, so are you just as guilty of war crimes.

If Bush never speaks to you again, even though you still admire him, I hope you understand why. He values loyalty and you just betrayed him for what benefit? Nothing you've written about is news. We all know he lied relentlessly and forgive my cynicism, but I just can't understand the timing of your mea culpa. Five years late doesn't bring back the dead.

The only thing I appreciate about this is seeing how rats abandon a sinking ship. I love seeing all these smug Busheviks scrambling over themselves to make sure history doesn't implicate them in the disaster that is Bush's administration. You know Rumsfeld's memoirs are going to be harsh on Bush and apparently Rove is having a hard time finding a publisher for his memoirs (who wants to read propaganda?). Earlier this year, Richard Perle (the neo-conservative architect of the war in Iraq) cried fowl because "Vanity Fair" had published an article in which even he was critical of Bush's competence regarding the war. After the level of nastiness shown towards those who were against the war in Iraq, it is a little satisfying to see conservatives jump all over themselves to condemn the Bush Administration. Yes, when ego and history are at play, no one wants to continue to dance on a sinking ship. It's every man for himself, Bush be damned.

With friends like you, Bush must be feeling betrayed, hurt, and shocked. He expected loyalty at all costs. What he didn't count on was the magic ability of New York publishing houses to offer enough money to make any loyalist turn coat. Thanks for the short thrill, but you're not excused from being a liar all these years. I really hope you will work on redeeming yourself in a more honest way...which is more than words. I want to see action, like helping Iraqi refugees or military veterans at home. Unless you do this, your words are hollow and vain. I'd hate to have a friend like you because friends are supposed to be honest and upfront with one another instead of enablers and true friends don't betray the relationship in a book for public consumption.

I honestly hope this is the last we'll see of the likes of you. You deserve to have a place next to Benedict Arnold in the history books, because you first betrayed America by enabling the liars, then you betrayed the people you were supposedly loyal to. How can anyone trust what you have to say? You are a poster boy for the worst kind of friend imagineable. Now go crawl back into your hole.

Don't know when this photo was taken, but it's interesting to see a sunny Scott walking next to his hero, a sour-faced Bush. Was something going on between them already when this photo was taken? Maybe Bush sensed a rat in his administration.

"What, me worry?"

Our beleagured president experiences another betrayal. I think we're only seeing the trickle before the dam finally breaks. I expect a tidal wave of anti-Bush books from his former administrative officials who have egos large enough to blame him in hopes of salvaging their reputations. The only loyal Bush books I can see will be written by Laura "He's misunderstood" Bush, Condoleezza "My husb--" Rice, Harriet "You're the best president ever, sir!" Miers, Karl "Can I suck your dick again, sir?" Rove and Dick "You're the Man!" Cheney.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Crush on Obama Girl

During my visit with Nathan, he introduced me to the videos of Obama Girl. I had heard of Obama Girl before but thought it was little more than a joke. I didn't think there were actually music videos and a song about this lady's crush on Obama. Nathan, being the best friend that he is, was all too willing to show me these videos (much to his wife's disliking, I sensed) and now I have a crush on Obama Girl! I'm a fan. So, for this week's Fun Friday, enjoy!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

California Dreaming

Ahhhhhh...California! What can I say about California? Since childhood, it's been my favourite state in the union and one I've always dreamed of living in. Yet, the three times I had a choice, I always chose the option that wasn't California. Dumb? Not really. The first time was at my "A" School with the U.S. Navy. I had second choice from a billet sheet of 22 duty stations for my first assignment. I had wanted to move to California since I was at least 8 years old when I asked my Air Force father to put it on his dream sheet. He never did because he never desired to live there like I did. But, despite having a choice of at least 6 different duty stations in California (including a couple shore billets and the rest ships), I chose La Maddalena, Sardinia...because my desire to return to Europe was far greater.

When that duty assignment was up in 1994, I called my Navy detailer for duty stations in San Diego, but he basically told me that my choice was limited to any ship in Norfolk. Not what I wanted to hear. Norfolk was the last place I wanted to be assigned to, but it turned out for the best because that was where I met my best friend Nathan, whom I visited last weekend in San Diego.

For college, I had wanted to go to the University of California at Berkeley, but I knew I couldn't afford it. I feel like the answer to my prayer for direction was to go to BYU, so I did. I don't regret that decision either because of the great friends I made and the growing experience I had where my spiritual views were tested in ways far greater than anything else I could've imagined.

Then, in 2006, when I turned in my resignation letter at my last job in Atlanta, I wrote that I was moving to San Francisco. However, after a summer sabbatical at my parents' house, when I weighed the options, I was actually torn between Portland and San Francisco. In the end, Portland won.

The California Dream...MY California Dream remains deferred. Who knows? If I don't find my dream job by year's end in Portland, perhaps I ought to suck it up and see about Grad School in California. Perhaps once and for all, I should just see if California holds the key to my destiny instead of dreaming about it and finding myself in a very good place mentally whenever I visit there.

What is it about California, anyway? The state has held such a mythological sway over my mind since childhood. To me, it is "the promise land", paradise, Shangri-la, El Dorado, Atlantis, Zion, Heaven on earth...every mythological place of perfection you can imagine all rolled into one cool, zen vibe. That's California in my mind.

This is a view of San Diego's bay that I got off of a Google image search. All photos in today's posts are lifted from a Google image search. When I develop a roll or two from my trip, I will include them, but for now, this will have to do.

The bridge you see (the Coronado bridge, linking the peninsula that contains the town of Coronado and one of the Navy bases) was one that I went over quite a few times during my visit with the Hagmans. One of Nathan's Navy buddies is stationed on the USS John C. Stennis, an aircraft carrier, that was in town for the holiday weekend. Nathan didn't know about it until I had mentioned to him that it was in town, so he got to spend some time with another Navy buddy, and he introduced me to him as "the best man." Man, he never forgets! At his wedding eight summers ago, I remember telling him that I hated to lose the status of his best friend, to which he replied, "but you'll always be the best man!" True to form, that's how I was introduced and I was quite pleased. Serving in that capacity was a great honour. Glad to see the "title" still holds after all these years.

The visit was great, which I'll write about more in depth in Saturday or Sunday's post (when I hopefully have personal photos to post). Here's some of what I did on my trip:

Visited Old Town San Diego on Saturday, which reminded me a little bit of Santa Fe, New Mexico. It was more interesting that I thought it would be and I spent more time there than I had planned. Then, I walked down the waterfront between the USS MIDWAY museum and the Convention Center, into the Gaslight District which was crowded due to some outside music festival just getting started. I rode the San Diego Trolley (yes, they actually call it by the term that other cities like San Francisco, New Orleans and Portland cringe at) all the way down to the border with Mexico so I could see the border myself and take a few pictures of Mexico without having to set foot there (I've never been to Mexico and have no intention of ever going there--at least not Tijuana). It was interesting to see the border (that there is an actual wall, and that Tijuana is on a hillside that looks down on the U.S.), especially since I crossed the U.S./Canada border on the opposite end of I-5 in January.

On Sunday, we walked around Balboa Park, which was pretty awesome, but crowded with people. Monday, we went to the LDS Temple in La Jolla (because it's one of my favourite architectural designs) and the beach in La Jolla. I realized later that I had forgotten to "mark" the starting and ending times of the Young Adult retreat that I had cancelled. I wanted to at least observe the time of the retreat to make this vacation extra special. When I thought back on it, I realized that when the retreat was supposed to have started (noon on Saturday), I was in the LDS "Mormon Brigade" Museum / Visitor's Center in Old Town San Diego and when the retreat was to have ended (noon on Monday), I was at the LDS Temple in La Jolla. Dang...I can't escape the Mormon influence in my life. But, it was a neat little "juxtaposition."

This is a scene from Amtrak's Coast Starlight run. It goes from Los Angeles to Seattle and let me tell you, the scenes of the beaches on the coast from Santa Barbara northward were absolutely gorgeous! I stopped reading my book to just stare out the window at the scenes. I was that way during most of the trip. I left San Diego at 6:10 a.m. on Tuesday and the scenes between San Diego and Santa Ana were fantastic. I was especially pleased to see a little bit of Oceanside, because in a high school memory book that I put together, I had written that in ten years (that would've been 2000), I saw myself married with two children, living in Oceanside CA, with a successful writing career. Okay, so that didn't come true, but then again, I didn't run off to California like I thought I would when I graduated from high school.

I wasn't impressed with the whole Los Angeles area or the San Fernando Valley. I used to want to live there at one point as well. Santa Barbara, on the other hand, I've never been to, but after seeing it from the train, I think I'm going to have to make a special vacation where I fly into L.A. and drive north through Malibu, Santa Barbara, Solvang, San Luis Obispo, up to Salinas, Monterey, and San Francisco. That would be a dream driving vacation. But watching the scenery from the train was awesome as well. One scene I especially liked was when a bird flew on the ridge of a wave, like it was surfing. It would keep doing that and I thought how much fun it was having. I also saw human surfers out there and it was like watching a commercial about California. The California lifestyle is true!

More scenes of Amtrak's Coast Starlight run (this train is obviously heading southbound).

Another photo I lifted from a Google image search. This one is to show you how much leg room you get on a train (versus a plane). People keep asking me why I take the train when it's so long (the L.A. to Portland portion is about 29 hours). I did fly down to San Diego on Friday (with a change of planes in Las Vegas) and while I love the speed of airlines, part of my vacation was the relaxing train ride. I enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed visiting my best friend Nathan and his family. It truly is a relaxing way to travel and meet people. The service attendant for my entire journey was an awesome African American lady with blonde curly hair who was very talkative and funny. When a bunch of teenagers (120 of them with only a few adult chaperones among them) got on board at Santa Barbara for the journey to Klamath Falls, Oregon, they were crazy wild. The service attendant also told some of us that these kids were spoiled in how they trashed the car they were riding in and wanted her to clean up after them. She was funny when she said, "let me tell you 'bout spoiled rich kids!" She kept her sense of humour and is exactly the kind of person you enjoy meeting on a rail journey through some of America's most beautiful scenery.

I'm such a fan of Amtrak and this is my third year in a row where I did a long journey on Amtrak (and in 2004, I also rode the Coast Starlight from San Francisco to Portland and back). I hope to continue with this, as I'd like to ride all of the journeys they offer (San Francisco to Chicago; Los Angeles to Chicago; Los Angeles to Jacksonville; Chicago to San Antonio; Chicago to New Orleans; Chicago to Boston; New York to Miami). If you've never ridden on Amtrak, what are you waiting ingraved invitation?!? Make plans! See America by train. You'll love it.

Anyhow, the trip was awesome. Simply one of my better vacations I've been on. It's great to visit a good, longtime, best friend who knows me probably better than anyone else. I appreciate the laughs, the advice, the friendship, and the new scenes to fill my mind with nothing but beauty and gratitude. With that, all I can do is sigh a big "ah" with Californiahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Have a Great Memorial Day Weekend

Ean sharing a meal with his dad.

This weekend, I'm in San Diego visiting one of my best friends Nathan, his wife Lisa, and their 20-month old son Ean, whom I'm just meeting for the first time. Have a great holiday weekend and I'll get back to a regular post on Thursday, 29 May.

Friday, May 23, 2008

An Engineer's Guide to Cats

For Fun Friday, I'm posting a video I watched last week on YouTube, which I found to be quite hilarious. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Indy's Close Encounter of the Worst Kind

Last night, I went to the midnight premiere of "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull." I can't believe that the last time we saw Indiana Jones in theaters, it was the great summer of 1989 (when "Batman" also came out, which it does this year as well). The summer before my senior year. But this year, we won't have a "Dead Poets Society", a "Ghostbusters II", a "Casualties of War" as we did in the summer of 1989. I'll just have to be satisfied with Indiana Jones and Batman, I guess.

The new "Indiana Jones" movie did start out promising with some intriguing ideas that I love reading about. It was going in a very good direction and the sense of humor was apparent throughout. It was obvious that Lucas and Spielberg were making it for the fun of it. They had fun with it. I loved that they allowed Indiana Jones to age appropriately (the time frame for this film is exactly 19 years after his "Last Crusade" adventures). There's a lot they did with the time frame...1957, when America was entering the nuclear age and getting paranoid about communism run amok in America.

Instead of the Nazis, we have Russians, led by the strangely seductive Irina Spalko (played by Cate Blanchett channeling the lead singer of Swing Out Sister). I was intrigued by her performance. Shia LaBoeuf was also a welcome addition to the cast, as we get to see the flip side of the whole father-figure / son role that worked so well between Sean Connery as father and Harrison Ford as the son. Now he's a mentor to a mysterious kid who arrives on the scene like a mix of James Dean, Marlon Brando, and Jack Kerouac.

The film builds and builds, explaining the idea behind the Crystal Skull and what it's supposed to do. The motive of the Russians is based on history, as the Soviets were quite open about the use of psychic powers to "see" what their enemies were doing or planning. Ultimately, they want to have the ability to control people's minds without the people knowing that they are being controlled. Our government is basically the same way, so it's interesting that people who work in that part of government are more open to the ideas of remote viewing, channeling, automatic writing/drawing, and other psychic phenomenon...while pretending to be strictly Christian to their supporters. Oh, that's not really mentioned in the film (about our government's role, anyway), it's just my thoughts on how Americans seem to be more closed minded than our government is about other sources of information and experiences.

As I watched, I wanted to learn more about the mythology behind the Crystal Skull and I thought the film would've been truly great if they had gone in a realistic direction. Without giving anything away, I was disappointed by the resolution of the film. It was cheesy. Then again, you could say that all the Indiana Jones films have a cheesy element on purpose, since they are supposed to be little more than an expensive update of old serials that Lucas and Spielberg grew up on. Besides, I knew in advance from the interview I had read in "Entertainment Weekly" magazine that it would have "this element" (I don't want to give anything away) in the film to illustrate the time period it's set in, when Americans were in the midst of paranoia about invasions. There were certain movies that were quite popular at the time, so if you see this film, be mindful that it's a lot different from the previous films in how the adventure gets resolved.

All too many scenes remind me of ones I've seen in the film "Congo." But, no use complaining about it. This story is one that George Lucas said he had to tell. It's his whole reason for bringing Indiana Jones out of mothballs. Will it be successful? Undoubtedly, yes. But I have a feeling that fans are going to be about as angry as "the Matrix" fans were about that trilogy's resolution. You just can't please the fanboys, but the film is what it is. And "Raiders of the Lost Ark" it ain't.

Harrison Ford and Shia LaBoeuf (sp?) discover a mystery they can't seem to explain

Cate Blanchett as a highly decorated Russian Agent in charge of psychic phenomenon, who believes the legend of the Crystal Skull and the lost city of El Dorado.

A Look at the Numbers

For the Portland City Commissioner -- Position 1 race, I got the latest numbers and was pleased to see that John Branam dropped into fourth place. After paying his campaign manager double what other campaign managers make, it makes me wonder what good was it? The whole thing seemed like a massive fraud to begin with, like someone concocted a scheme to access $150,000 in taxpayer funds to run a race for City Council and hiring a buddy to run a campaign, paying him a cool $25,000 for three months work. Fleece the city and move on. One alternative weekly newspaper, in assessing the candidates, had called John Branam's campaign "trifling." Ouch, that had to hurt. That's perhaps one of the worst things you can say about a candidate. But I concur. There seemed little reason for him to run other than to offer his buddy a nice paid gig for three months at taxpayer expense and to pad a resume with this kind of experience. That Jeff Bissonnette managed to pull in more votes than Branam indicates to me that there is justice in Portland! I would have voted for Bissonnette if I hadn't discovered the Charles Lewis campaign two weeks before turning in my ballot. I hope Bissonnette will run for political office again.

Amanda Fritz

The front-runner who received a whopping 62,249 votes (44%). She was expected to come in first for the fact that this is her second campaign and that she's the only female running for this position. Her campaign seems to be little more than "we need to bust up the boy network in City Hall" and that's not a good reason to run. She'll be a formidable candidate though and has a good chance of winning. However, the numbers makes me wonder, especially when I heard some people mention that they voted for someone else simply so she couldn't get the 50% +1 to avoid a run-off. I'm glad, because with so many races, we need a bit more time for the candidates to make their case why they'd make a better City Commissioner.

Charles Lewis

Came in a distant second with 18,369 votes (13%). One of those votes is mine. While the gap is pretty large, you could easily say that the close votes between the three men (or even all five) might indicate a split among undecideds who don't want Amanda Fritz as City Commissioner. In 2004, Nick Fish (who won a clear majority with over 60% for another City Commissioner position) was forced into a run-off with Sam Adams. He had received more votes than Sam in the primary and then managed to lose the election in November. I'm hoping it will be the same with Charles Lewis. I'm hoping that the majority of voters who voted AGAINST Amanda will turn around and vote FOR Charles Lewis in November. That would be a great turn-around, but not altogether unexpected. Like I said, I see that the majority who voted against Amanda split their support among five men. Charles has slightly more name recognition than any of his male opponents, which is probably the reason why he came in second. Now, his challenge is to increase his name recognition and supporters for November. It's certainly do-able.

Jeff Bissonnette

He received 17,838 votes (12%). Had I voted on May 5th, he would've gotten my vote. What changed my vote was the eight page "scrapbook" political flyer I received in the mail from Charles Lewis. I wonder how many others were similarily swayed. The reason my vote changed was because Lewis' political mailer showed a depth to him that the media failed to do. Dismissing him as a Portland Duck Tour operator was wrong. Lewis has a background in politics. Had Bissonnette run for Erik Sten's vacated seat, I would've voted for him in that race. I certainly hope he'll run again.

John Branam

He received 17,528 votes (12%). I'd love to look at the numbers and see if his campaign was hurt at all by the lack of endorsements, the revelations of his paying a buddy double what normally is considered reasonable for campaign manager, his being named in a lawsuit by a disgruntled employee for being hired for a job he didn't qualify for (with a plush salary), and a newspaper dimissing his campaign as "trifling." Will he have a political future? That remains to be seen. But, I was glad to see him finish behind Lewis and Bissonnette.

Chris Smith

Mike Fahey received 14,987 votes (10%) and Chris Smith finished dead last with 13,383 votes (9%). All the people who voted for candidates three through six, I wonder who they will support in November. I'm hoping that a vote for one of the five candidates automatically translates into a vote for Charles Lewis in November. Or some could have been supporters of Amanda who wanted more time for her to make a case, and wanting to avoid giving her the victory she needed to avoid a run-off.

That makes this race one of the more interesting ones to watch in November (besides the Obama vs. McCain contest). This is like a new experience for me. I've never been interested in local politics before. I've been a globalist since childhood and my preferred politics is interesting races in other countries (such as South Africa's historic 1994 election). I always viewed local government as ineffectual, uninteresting, and irrelevant. What cured me of that was Republican domination of national government, which forced me to look for local candidates to support since I had no hope of the national political scene improving. Now, I'm hooked. Who becomes City Commissioner does make a difference at City Hall. May the best person win!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Introducing the Next Mayor of Portland's official! In a field of 13 candidates (including 21 year old Kyle Burris, the slacker who garnered some 340 votes), Commissioner Sam Adams cleared a major hurdle and won 58% of the vote when all the ballots were tallied. That's a huge victory over rival Sho Dozono, who earned about 33% of the vote.

With his stunning victory, Adams promises to work hard for the city of Portland. He also joked that he will put Portland to work as well. In his victory speech, he thanked family, friends, volunteers, and especially his staff, whom he acknowledged that there's only one thing tougher than being a city commissioner and that's being a staff member of a city commissioner.

Since he is a well-known policy wonk who often puts in 18 hour days and seven days a week, he's just the energetic and outgoing politician we need for our city. The victory was sweet. I haven't felt this happy over a political victory since Barack Obama won the U.S. Senate race in 2004. This is a great day for Portland.

Huge kudos go out to campaign manager Jennifer Yocom, who is now two for two on campaigns won under her managerial leadership. Maybe she should be making Phil Busse's campaign manager salary (he's the one who was paid $25,000 for three months work on a campaign that apparently has come in third place and out of contention for the run-off). In the months I've known Jennifer and worked for her as a volunteer, she always had a great smile and sense of humour. She was an absolute joy to work for and I love the energy she brings across in everything she does. Here's hoping that she'll be on Adams staff. If she's a die hard campaigner, any campaign out there would be wise to snatch her up if they really want to win.

Sam Adams talking with a supporter at his party at the Jupiter Hotel in Portland last night (May 20th). I did not take any of these photos (I lifted them from a Google search because I'm shameless like that...but mostly because I don't have a digital camera and take forever to develop my rolls of film).

In the City Commissioner race for position one (Sam's seat), there were six candidates running and thankfully Amanda Fritz didn't clear the 50% +1 hurdle, so she faces a run-off with the second highest vote earner, which is CHARLES LEWIS by a mere 610 votes over third place finisher John Branam. Whew! However, he's 30,000 votes behind Amanda and that's a lot of people, considering that Lewis won some 13,000 votes (12.5%). He certainly has his work cut out for him. It's do-able, though, because three of the male candidates were running neck and neck in the 10-12% margin with several hundred votes difference between the three of them. With Amanda as the only female in the race, it looks like voters were split on her main three rivals, so getting better name recognition for the November election is going to be crucial.

I'm happy to be able to devote my free time to another campaign to help another great guy get elected to City Council. I'm already excited about Sam's leadership starting in January and now it's time to help elect a great city commissioner to fill his old seat. Charles Lewis is that person. You'll probably hear more about him (through my blog) in the next six months.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Decision Day in Oregon

Barack Obama addressing the multitudes in Portland on Sunday, May 18th. Who says he's not patriotic?

View from the grandstand

So, this is what 60,000 people look like! That's how many made it into the fenced off area by the time Obama made it to the stage. There was an additional 12,000 still in line at 2:30 for many blocks downtown. Like I said...I've never seen anything like this in my life. You'd think it was the second coming of Jesus or something.

This is Portland. The Obama event was held in that grassy "knoll" area you see in the middle left of the picture (between the boat marina and the closest bridge you see).

That's a tiny space for so many people. And yes, it was too crowded. I got crushed at one point in my attempt to get closer to shake Obama's hand after the speech. I barely got close enough to glimpse his face for a brief second.

So, today is the day Oregonians finally get to have their say in the Democratic Primary. Well, also the Republican one since Ron Paul is still on the ballot...but I haven't seen the obnoxious Ron Paul supporters around town in months. They kind of disappeared like the "9/11 Truth" people. I'm so glad that the election turned out to be longer than pundits predicted. They thought it would all be over on Tsunami Tuesday back in February. We were a mere afterthought. Ha ha. I love it when pundits are wrong and they've been consistently wrong all year.

That's why I don't worry too much about people saying that America is still a racist country that won't vote for a black man for president. Gee...what America are they living in? Most of the rap music cds are bought by white suburban kids. Will Smith is one of the most bankable actors in Hollywood. He can even make crappy movies ("Hitch") into hundred million dollar hits. Michael Jordan was the most popular athlete during his time. The younger generation (Generation X and the Millennials) are not as hung up on race as the Boomers are...and it is the Boomer pundits that keep harping on the racial issue. This could be the election that inspires young people to vote en masse. It's amazing to see the turn-out already in primaries all over the country. Democrats have broken records in state after state in terms of new voters, voter turn out, fundraising, campaign volunteers. It's completely phenomenal.

The Republicans are running scared because they have no ideas. They can't even keep up with the amount of money Democrats have raised. The only way they can win is playing the race card, but I don't think it will work this time around. Destiny is with Obama. Consider it karmic retribution against the forces of darkness that got rid of King and Kennedy forty years ago. Political eras generally last between thirty and fifty years. The pendulum swings back and forth. This year is the end of forty years of Republican misrule. We are coming out of the wilderness into a new era. Cynical naysayers had their chance to lead, now they need to step aside and let someone else take the leadership reigns.

Here's to an exciting evening watching the poll results. I plan to visit two political parties. I love nights like this! I guess you can say that I live for politics.

Monday, May 19, 2008

How I Voted (Because You're Dying to Know)

For those that don't know about Oregon's voting system...the state did away with the tradition where people head to polling places to cast a vote on election day. Instead, we are sent a voters guidebook in the mail (with each candidate having the opportunity to submit a half page write-up) and a ballot. We usually receive them two weeks in advance of the day its due (in this case, Tuesday, May 20th by 8 p.m.). Though I love going to a polling place and voting in a booth, I've voted a few times in Oregon's system and have come to appreciate the leisure I can take with voting as I read up on the candidates and issues. Once I marked up my ballot (I've never done it all at once; I usually take several days to completely fill it out), I can drop it off at my convenience, which I'm doing later on today. With that, here's how I voted...
For the Democratic Nomination for President

Barack Obama

I know I flirted with the possibility of voting for Hillary Clinton because it would be interesting to see not only a woman president, but also what role former President Bill Clinton would play in her administration. Her health care plan might be better than Obama's and her attempt in trying to bring Americans universal health care in 1993 provided a lot of necessary experience from which to work with in making it successful reality this time. Ultimately, though, I have to go with the candidate I had hoped would run for president in 2008 when he won the U.S. Senate seat in November 2004. His election was the rare bright spot in an otherwise demoralizing election. If Kerry did one thing right in his campaign, it was making Obama (merely a State Senator at the time, in a campaign for the Senate seat) a speaker during the primetime broadcast. He nailed it! It truly will be remembered as the speech that made Obama look presidential. He spoke of a new kind of politics, especially with his memorable line that "we worship an awesome God in the Blue States and we don't like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the Red States." His point was clear...the media-created differences of Red States versus Blue States only helped to serve Bush's policies of divide and conquer.

His relative inexperience might make some people a bit cautious in supporting him, but I believe he is called by destiny to lead America in this time of divisiveness. Our greatest president Abraham Lincoln was also relatively inexperienced in politics. But Lincoln said it best in a quote: "a house divided against itself cannot stand." There are many challenges that America faces in the next four years and beyond. We cannot continue on the present course of having a president who disregards the majority of opinions while sticking to his tunnel vision of America in hopes that history will vindicate his presidency someday. We need a true leader who inspires people to their best, to challenge us to look beyond our racial prejudices, and to offer us hope for a better world. That person simply is Barack Obama. I am proud to cast my vote for him to become the next president of the United States. We might not see another politician of his gifts, vision, and calibre for awhile. If we truly are in "the fierce urgency of now", he is the best one to lead us back into the community of nations, to restore justice and human rights, and to be a president for ALL Americans.

For the Democratic Nomination for U.S. Senate

Jeff Merkley

He helped lead the Democrats back into the majority in the Oregon state legislature. He brings his state legislative leadership experience with him as the best candidate to defeat Senator Gordon Smith in November. While Steve Novick (his main opponent) is a witty guy and a character (short in stature and has a hook for a left hand), I don't think he has a chance to defeat Senator Smith. And you can suspect that Senator Smith thinks so as well, because his ads mostly attack Merkley. Why Senator Smith is running ads against Merkley already (when he has an opponent on the Republican side) indicates to me that he prefers to run against Novick. He's scared of losing his seat in the Senate and he ought to be. When I interned in D.C. in the OVP for Legislative Affairs eight years ago, I saw Senators up close and I can easily see Merkley among them. We have Democratic Senator Ron Wyden and I believe that having a fellow Democratic colleague will be good for Oregon...especially when renewable energy and environmental sustainability will become major issues in the next decades. Merkley knows what it takes to win and he does it without flash. Senator Smith has every reason to fear Jeff Merkley. His career as a Bush-policy voting politician has a serious chance of coming to an end.

For U.S. Representative for the First Congressional District

David Wu

Though he's not the most exciting politician and I kind of wished that I had moved into Congressman Blumenauer's district (east of the river), none of his opponents have the kind of stature to bring something new to the office and the district. What I like about Congressman Wu is that he was born in Taiwan (like me) and he has been consistently tough on China regarding human rights (even when he has Intel and Nike corporations in his district, which both want more trade with China). His main opponent is a computer engineer at Intel, fueling speculation that he might be an Intel plant to gain influence in Congress. Until we get another candidate with more interesting experiences, ideas, and personality, I'm sticking with Congressman Wu for another two years.

For Attorney General of Oregon

John Kroger

His opponent Greg Macpherson has run ads accusing Kroger of basically being a carpetbagger, but man...what a carpetbagger! Oregon is lucky to have enticed Kroger to move here. Here's a basic bio: He got his Bachelor's and Master's at Yale; a Juris Doctorate at Harvard Law; he served in the U.S. Marine Corps in a special operations unit; he worked in the Clinton Administration as a policy analyst in the Treasury Department; then he became a federal prosecutor who helped convict mafia killers, drug traffickers, corrupt government officials, and prosecuted Enron executives. With a resume like that, no wonder why his opponent has gone after his lack of Oregon roots. Kroger claims to have fallen in love with Oregon when he made a cross-country bike trip. He's currently a law professor at Lewis and Clark College.

Anyone who goes after Enron executives is great in my book. I'd love to see what he'll do as the state's Attorney General. He wants to go after the meth problem, which should be an issue of major concern. He has the vast experience (military, great universities as student and professor, presidential administration, courtroom) necessary to handle the demands of being Oregon's top law officer.

Back in late January and early February, he was looking for campaign staff and I had thought of applying. The reason I didn't was because I had already committed to volunteering on the Sam Adams campaign and didn't want a job as a staff member on another campaign to limit my ability to volunteer on the Adams campaign. But, had I known more about Kroger's background back then, I most likely would've applied anyway (since my morale at work has consistently gone downhill each month so far this year). Like I said in yesterday's post...I've never lived in a place where I had so many choices on good candidates to work for. I hit the motherlode in Oregon!

For Oregon Secretary of State

Kate Brown

I haven't really paid much attention to this race. There are four candidates running, three of whom are State Senators looking for a promotion. Based on the write-up in the voter guidebooks, they all sound similar. It's hard to decide, so I went with Kate Brown because in her ads, she reminds us of the disasterous vote count in 2000 and advocates for clean and fair elections, which is an important issue for me. She won't be Oregon's Katharine Harris.

For Mayor of Portland

Sam Adams

You all saw this one coming, right? Out of all the campaigns out there, he's the one I'm most excited about winning because I think he's an all around great guy with the kind of visionary leadership and energy Portland needs right now. He has his share of critics who don't like his personal style. He can be a bit combative and not as diplomatic as people would like, but I think this is just part of his personality trait of being brutally honest. That's what I like about him. He knows what he wants and intends to get it, to make Portland an even better city. Leadership is not for the timid and visionary leadership often ruffles the feathers of those happy with the way things are. However, that's not to say that he gets his way all the time or that he's incapable of changing his mind. He's shown recently his ability to shelve personal projects like the bike bridge in the Pearl that many were critical of, or his plan for street maintenance fees to be put up for a vote at another time.

For me, the key issues for Portland are livable wage jobs, affordable housing, public transit, and environmental sustainability. When I first heard about him and learned about his political philosophy, I knew he was a candidate I would not only wholeheartedly endorse, but also that I wanted to volunteer on his campaign. I've never been interested in local races before in my life. But his passion for the issues that I care about reaffirms for me why I moved to Portland in the first place. This city needs to become the world leader in being environmentally friendly and sustainable, where green jobs are part of the economy, and even having businesses flock to our city to be a part of an innovative future.

Sam Adams is a policy wonk. That type of person is generally the best kind to have in government because they are passionate about governing and obsessed with the details. The last thing we need is another bland mayor without bold ideas to move Portland forward. I'm fully confident that Sam Adams will be a mayor that will get the important things done and leave us a better city when his term(s) end.

For Portland City Commissioner -- Position 1

Charles Lewis

I already wrote my endorsement of him last week. Now, I get to vote for him. I really like his background with having a bachelor's in Political Science and a Master's in Public Policy. This is something that the local press never mention when he has made the news. It's always his side business, the Portland Duck Tours, which was a weekend operation catering to the tourist crowds and became quite popular for the nearly two years it existed. His experience as a founder and executive of a non-profit organization devoted to making music education affordable for over 2,200 low income children in Portland is far more impressive. It shows his ability to put his personal finances on the line for a workable dream that improves the quality of children's lives and because he took that kind of risk, his organization currently employs 78 people and fills a necessary niche in Portland for those low income children who love music and want to learn how to play instruments.

When it comes to money, he seems to have a strong sense of ethics...even willing to use part of the public money he received for his campaign to fill in potholes on some city streets. He wants to see City Council use its tax dollars for what it was intended for, rather than pet projects of wealthy developers (often those who have no shame in getting government contracts and funds but not willing to pay back their fair share in taxes). Though I'm a streetcar guy and love it (I use it several times a week), I also agree that if it comes out of funds meant to repair streets and bridges or other basic services, the basic services are far more important.

Out of all the candidates running for Sam Adams' vacated seat, Charles Lewis will bring the right kind of priorities to City Council. I also hope that he will use his experience in business to help solve the perception problem Portland has with the business world. Our city needs more livable wage jobs. Desperately. None of the other candidates have the kind of experiences necessary to make this happen.

There are other races that I voted for, such as County Commissioner, but the above represents most of the people I voted for on my ballot.

My apologies for those who do not live in Portland and couldn't care less about our local politics.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Happier Than a Wonk in Washington

Can you see me in the crowd? I'm the one wearing a khaki hat and an olive green shirt.

This photo was lifted from the Oregonian's webpage and shows the multitudes who attended the Barack Obama rally in downtown Portland this afternoon. We even made ABC's World News Tonight, which claimed that 75,000 people were present, making this a record-breaking crowd for any political candidate. As one of the multitudes, I can attest that I have NEVER seen anything like this in my life. There is defintely something electric going on in our country. I can't see McCain getting this large of a crowd anywhere. This is history in the making. I even overheard frat boys telling people that they were "Obamacans" (Republicans who support Obama). A lot of people seem to view him as a kind of "Barack star" and in the age of YouTube, Facebook, Myspace, and "American Idol", I really believe that the young people are going to vote in mass for Obama. I even saw children as young as four all excited about seeing Obama. This truly is a phenomenon that surpasses probably even the numbers who swarmed Robert F. Kennedy forty years ago. It gives me great hope that our country has moved beyond race and will vote for Obama and his new style of politics. It's the end of Rove-ism and his brand of cynicism and dirty tricks.

I'm glad to have been a part of the multitudes. I remarked to Christine that I could almost imagine what it was like to witness the Sermon on the Mount. Obama spoke from a platform at the top of the hill and we were packed in tight over every inch of ground. People even watched on their boats on the Willamette River and some walkers on the Hawthorne Bridge stopped to watch Obama give a passionate speech about the end of the Bush era and the cynical politics of division. The weather was unseasonably hot (in the upper 80s with no cloud to block the rays of the sun) and I was dying of thirst by the end of it (we had to pass through TSA security to get into the fenced off area). But it was the perfect way to end what has been an incredibly political weekend. It can't get much better than this for me!

On Friday, I was supposed to volunteer for the Jeff Merkley for U.S. Senate campaign but after a stressful week at work, I had to go out with a couple co-workers for a Happy Hour social involving alcoholic drinks to unwind. I had a horrible tasting Virginia Mint Julip (the traditional drink of the Kentucky Derby) and wished I had ordered a Mojito instead. But one drink was enough to get a little buzz before I headed off to Powell's Bookstore.

Bill and Chelsea Clinton were in Portland this weekend and had an event at a park in Milwaukie on Saturday. I couldn't go, because I already had plans with the Sam Adams campaign.

On Saturday, I attended the group phonebank for Sam Adams and made 104 calls to voters. I'm not a big phone talker (I take after my dad in that regard) so this was a bit uncomfortable for me at first. But I really want Sam Adams to become the next Mayor of Portland and was happy to make a pitch to people on why he needs to be elected. It was also fun to be with other committed volunteers who were making calls as well. And Sam even showed up to thank us for our work on his behalf.

The interesting thing I find about people is how many are so secretive about their vote. They really take that whole voting privacy thing seriously, as though it's a requirement about voting. While that's everyone's prerogative, the whole secrecy thing was to help people feel secure about voting that their choices wouldn't be known by the government. We see this in African elections where people who vote for the opposition candidates are harassed or even killed. In America, we have a tradition of political freedom and there's nothing wrong with being honest about who you voted for. When people are secretive about it (especially friends and co-workers), it's kind of odd to me. I'm very open about who I voted for (and tomorrow's post, I will reveal not only WHO I voted for in the Oregon primary but WHY). I have no shame in who I voted for or who I support.

It was good to experience a three hour session of phonebanking and leave messages for people. You never know if that one message is enough to convince someone who is still indecisive to go ahead and vote for your candidate. We'll see on Tuesday.

Today, as Christine and I waited in line (it was already several blocks long at 10 a.m.), we talked a bit to the people in line around us and we also received flyers from various volunteers on the many campaigns in our city. I didn't see anyone from the Sho Dozono campaign (Sam Adams' main rival) or any of the City Commissioner races. When I grabbed lunch at a nearby Quiznos, candidate John Kroger for Attorney General (I had missed his booksigning at Powells last week, to my disappointment) popped in to buy a drink. After leaving the Obama rally, it was like leaving a concert. There were many people selling Obama t-shirts, buttons and hats as well as candidates for the U.S. Senate and their volunteers. I saw Steve Novick but didn't get to talk with him. I was pleasantly surprised to see Jeff Merkley and waited to talk with him. I'm voting for him to face Senator Gordon Smith in the fall.

I asked him about the possibility of having a "Truth and Reconciliation Commission" in our country after Bush leaves office. What he said in response was amazing to me because I thought about it myself. He had a problem with the "reconciliation" part, but he's willing to see the establishment of a "Truth and Prosecution Commission" so that those members of the Bush Administration who committed illegal or unconstitutional actions get some sort of punishment. That's what I want, but will it happen? I would love to serve on such a commission because I want to help research and compile evidence of the criminality of the current administration. I want the world and future Americans to know that Bush is the most criminal president we ever had and that his presidency will be forever known as the worst in our nation's history, a big black stain. Merkley also mentioned hearing about Bush supposedly buying property in Paraguay because he's seriously afraid of extradiction when he leaves office. I had heard that as well and I hope its true (that Bush is afraid...very afraid). I really want Bush to be the first president to end up in prison, and Chain-gang Cheney as well.

As Christine and I walked in search of a place to buy water, a guy tapped me on the shoulder and it was none other than Charles Lewis! It was good to see him out giving flyers to people and asking for their votes. He's the only City Commissioner candidate I saw out there and with the supposedly 75,000 people who attended the event, that's a lot of potential votes (of those that live in the city limits of Portland, anyway). I really hope he wins (if not a majority, then at least enough to put him in a run-off with a rival). His campaign is one that I hope to be a part of if Sam Adams clears the 50% +1 to avoid a run-off. I also hope to volunteer for the Merkley campaign this fall.

Like I said, I'm living in a dream! I never had this kind of experience when I lived in Georgia. It was hard to find a candidate I liked in which to volunteer for. The Democrats all tried to sound Republican in order to win. Oregon is the opposite. Even Senator Gordon Smith (with an over 90% pro-Bush policy voting record) tries to sound like a Democrat in his ads (his current ad claims that he's the true "change candidate" in the race...never mind that he's been in office for two terms). With so many good candidates to volunteer for and the kind of issues that are important to me (sustainability, affordable housing, living wages), I'm like a kid in a candy store. But since I hate cliches, let's just create a new one: I'm happier than a wonk in Washington!

Even "Saturday Night Live" was great in that it featured a skit starring none other than Senator John McCain. He was also the special commentator on the "Weekend Update" segment, where he joked about having great-great-great-great grandkids that were now reaching retirement age. He was funny in his statement to Democrats: "Please don't be in a rush to select your nominee!" He advised Democrats that he's perfectly okay if we don't choose our nominee at the Convention in August. He was willing to allow both Democrats to be on the November ballot! It was funny. McCain is no Bush, so I don't think he'll be a divisive president...but when we have a historic chance to break the mold of 43 white male presidents, I hope Americans will vote for history's sake rather than more of the same (what Barack calls "Bush's third term").

This all-political weekend was great. Even better is that Christine was willing to endure the heat and crowds to participate in what feels like a witness to political destiny. I'm more and more confident that Barack Obama has the gifts to take him all the way to the White House and make history for the Democrats once again. We were there, among the multitudes.

And to think that earlier this year, those of us in Oregon didn't believe that our primary votes would matter. Now, Oregon has the chance to put Obama over the top. He plans to declare victory when the results come in on Tuesday night. It's come down to this moment and I'm thrilled to be part of it. All pundit eyes are on us now.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Republican Boehner Will Dick America

After three special elections to fill seats vacated by Republicans in Congressional districts that overwhelmingly voted for Bush in 2004 (in former Speaker Hastert's Illinois district; in a Louisiana district held by a Republican for 30 years; and in Mississippi in which the Democrat was demonized for his personal ties to Obama and Wright), the writing is on the wall: 2008 is shaping up to be a TIDAL WAVE of a landslide for Democrats that we haven't seen since 1932 when Republicans were blamed for the misery of do-nothing President Hoover in reaction to the stock market crash of 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression. Republicans have lost three special elections in recent months.

This comes on top of a large mass of retirements by Republican politicians after their terms expire in January. Some pundits have said that the mass of retirements was a reflection of the 2006 mid-term election in which the Republicans finally lost power after 12 abusive years of scandals (exposing them for the hypocrites they truly are). No one wants to be in the minority party in Congress. When the Democrats took control of Congress, Boehner had the gall to suggest that Democrats be gracious in leadership roles...whereas Republicans in the Bush era showed no such grace during their years in power. Karmic retribution truly is a bitch, so seeing the Repugs cry crocodile tears was just icing on the cake of political victory.

What will also contribute to the huge losses of Republicans in Congress is that more Republican Senators are up for reelection this year than Democratic ones, due in large part to the nasty little election known as 2002, when Bush made it a referendum on patriotism and his desire to bring war to Iraq. It was one of the most demoralizing elections I've personally witnessed...especially as I lived in Georgia at the time and saw disgusting ads portraying the only handicapped Senator (Max Cleland had lost three of his limbs in Vietnam as a young man) as an ally of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. The ad was run by challenger Saxby Chambliss who failed to serve in Vietnam himself. It's just one of many reasons why I absolutely hate the Republican party. People might accuse me of bias but I'm proud of that fact because when you're faced with a ruthless party completely lacking in common decency and morality, there's no choice. Democrats are no where near perfect or as courageous as I'd like, but overall, Democrats do run clean campaigns that focus on issues instead of character assassinations with no basis in facts.

So, this year is like sweet vindication for that dark year of 2002. It truly is karmic retribution that Republicans are running scared in fear of their Bush-loving voting record (such as Oregon's congenial Senator Gordon Smith who has voted consistently for what Bush wanted yet now wants to pretend that he's a moderate and independent). I love that so many Republicans have already seen the writing on the wall and decided that they really don't want to be in Congress anymore. They're more than willing to crawl back to their huge salaries and pensions on Wall Street and leave governing to those who are actually quite competent and passionate about it: Democrats!

However, I did read an article online about Congressman Boehner's (feel free to pronounce his name the way its spelled rather than his claim of "BAY-ner") Karl Rovian idea that what the Republicans need to do is "re-branding." This is their ticket to victory in November! That he actually believes his own bullshit is shocking. Actually, I keep forgetting that this is a Republican we're talking about. They make it too easy to make fun of them! Their complete lack of understanding about what's going on in America is proof of their ideological blindness and elitist attitudes. I have it on good authority that re-branding doesn't often work. Remember "New Coke"? Didn't think so. When I lived in Atlanta, I was shocked and furious that Atlanta paid millions upon millions to an ad agency (in New York, if I remember correctly) to come up with a new brand for Atlanta in which to use in tourist ads. What did Atlanta get for the several million dollar waste of taxpayer money? A hurricane-like red dot with the letters ATL in white and a blandly boring slogan ("Every day is an opening day"). It bombed. Children in elementary school could've come up with something better if they had put out a contest. And they could've allocated the millions to reward the school with the winning design.

Re-branding is a trend that many cities have followed but I had the feeling that it was little more than some ad agency's scheme to rake in millions of dollars from city and state coffers. Therefore it's not surprising that Republicans now see that as their salvation from a political tsunami that's due to hit them hard in November. Republicans haven't met a corporate scheme they didn't like. Anything to fleece people out of their tax allocations for more important things, right? Forget schools and roads and bridges. Let's Re-Brand!

As if that weren't galling enough, you have to appreciate the complete lack of self awareness to hear Boehner's idea for the Republicans to run on. How he can look at himself in the mirror is a mystery. He's so vacant between his ears that you have to wonder if he's actually a machine without a soul. Here's his idea for what Republicans need to run on to win this fall: Republicans will change Washington!!!

Isn't that crazy? Aren't you just rolling on the floor, dying of laughter right now? They actually believe that Americans will blame Democrats for everything that has gone wrong over the past seven years. They think Americans are that moronic, that stupid, to fall for it one more time. I just don't see that happening. Historically, right wing economic policies no matter what country you look at is disasterous for the nation's well-being. There's a reason for that. When you have a kleptocratic government that robs the public treasury to fatten the bank accounts of their corporate and oligarchal backers, who have off-shore accounts in which to avoid paying taxes...the middle class ends up paying higher and higher costs to fund government until it gets to the painful point where they don't take it anymore. Character assassination attempts didn't work against Clinton in 1992 and he ran against a president who once had over 90% approval ratings during the Gulf War in 1991. When economy is the prime issue, character attacks don't work. When Americans are hurting financially, they'll vote for the candidate who offers workable solutions rather than character attacks.

The only way Republicans can hope to win means that something bad will have to happen (a terrorist attack). But even that is risky because it might only remind voters how bad Republicans managed the aftermath of tragedy on 9/11 and when Katrina hit. A terrorist attack might even be a desperate Republican "deus-ex-machina" to save them from humiliating defeat. I have faith that whatever happens (which I hope nothing like that will), Americans have wised up to the lies of Republicans. They can run from their records, but they can't hide. No amount of "re-branding" can ever cover up the stench of their shit. It's merely putting perfume on a pig.

If Americans want a re-branded image of Republicans, how about the blue pill? Yeah, that pill. Think of it this way...if you vote Republican in November, Boehner and his buddies are on the blue pill and prepared to dick us for another four years even though we're beyond exhausted and wanting to call the doctor because the blue pill is lasting longer than the four years it's supposed to work.

In other absurd Republican news, Bush recently revealed that he supposedly gave up golf in 2003 out of respect to the mothers who lost their children in the Iraq War. He claims that he was concerned for their feelings and how it looked to have a president out playing golf while servicemembers were dying in Iraq.

You know what I think is the real reason? I think it's a combination of how the image showed up...such as the infamous scene in "Fahrenheit 9/11" where he's talking about a foreign policy crisis, and then in the next breath without skipping a beat, he tells reporters: "now watch this drive!" That made him look pretty shallow. But even more damning are all the footage of him doing horribly on the golf course. His incompetence was too visible and maybe he could no longer find golfing buddies who are expected to "let him win" (Barbara Bush has mentioned that her son had a tendency as a child to keep playing the game until he won, even when his friends grew bored or unwilling to play anymore).

It's just one more lie out of this president's mouth. Remember: Every lie you tell brings you closer to hell!

The more outrageous controversy of late is that Bush had the bad sense to condemn the Democratic nominee for president in the Israeli Knesset as an appeaser to Hitler because he thinks he can negotiate with our "enemies." This breaks with political tradition in our country that the president doesn't speak against the opposition party when out of the country (just as is the case that Congress doesn't criticize the president when he's out of the country, though Republicans often did this during Clinton's administration). I agree with one editorial I read in which Bush's words were (and should be considered) treasonous.

More than that, however, is that I wish someone would point out to that Yale history major: Oh, we don't appease our enemies? You mean like your dad, who made agreements with Iran to continue to keep the American hostages until President Carter was defeated in 1980? Or maybe like Reagan, who arranged a weapons for hostages program with Iran in the 1980s? Talking with enemy leaders is "appeasement" but it's perfectly okay to sell our enemies weapons that can be used against us...or to have them continue to hold American citizens hostage to affect a presidential election?

Does anyone still wonder why I'm not, nor ever will be, a Republican? You just can't make this shit up! They are so hypocritical and morally blind that I truly do worry about their salvation, especially when they pretend to be religious while betraying Christ in their every action.

The only thing I want to see Boehner dick is Bush. They deserve one another.

Friday, May 16, 2008

For Fans of Stephen Colbert

For my Fun Friday post this week, I lifted from Charles Lewis' website a news report about his "feud" with Stephen Colbert, who called Portland residents hippies and commies. This video shows Charles' sense of humour, creative thinking, and that he's even able to get Colbert's attention. Not bad. Another reason why he needs to be elected as City Commissioner on Tuesday. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Talkin' 'Bout My Generation (1971 Rocks!)

After meeting Charles Lewis on Tuesday, I can't get over the fact that he was born the same year as me. It's kind of weird to meet someone born the same year as you in adulthood. Or maybe it is with me, because I meet people born in so many different years that when I meet someone who would've been in the same graduating class as me, it just feels weird. Plus, it makes me wonder if he was voted Most Likely to Succeed in his graduating class. I lost touch with most people I knew in high school, but after our ten year reunion, I realized that I wasn't missing much by not maintaining friendships with them. Very few have traveled as far and wide as I have and it's interesting to reflect that the common denominator in all my friendships is a love of travel. When I meet people who don't travel or don't love to travel, it's almost kind of hard to relate. There's a whole world out there!

Maybe it's not a big deal to meet someone in adulthood who was born the same year as you, but this year I happen to meet TWO guys who began life on earth in 1971. The other guy is Jeffrey Selin who recently opened up the Writer's Dojo in the St. Johns neighborhood of Portland. He's similar to Charles in a couple other ways...he gave up a career in advertising in exciting New York to move to Portland with his wife and has spent a lot of his own money to bring his dream of a writer's room to reality. He has a nearly year old daughter (Charles will have his first child--a girl--in June). Just meeting people like Jeff and Charles in the past couple months has been an incredible boost in my arm to get off my ass and fulfill my dreams. Fortunately for me, there are only three things I want to be in life: Novelist; loyal political aide to a politician I admire; and a human rights activist. Anything that involves writing, traveling, and politics is enough for me to live on. But every morning, noon, and night, I keep asking God how I ended up where I ended up. Something needs to change...and soon! Meeting two guys also born in 1971 who have accomplished their dreams, are married, with first kids already only shows how far I've fallen behind!

A co-worker reminds me that I shouldn't compare myself to other people and I agree. It's just that I feel very intensely that I'm far behind in where I should be in life. Granted, I made a mistake in gambling my post-college career on working in the Gore Administration with my fall back Plan B being a novelist. Two things that completely depend on other people. Maybe it's time for me to set down a workable goal and just do it. Time's a-wastin'!

I'm really glad that I got to meet Jeff and Charles this year. It's nice to see two people born in 1971 who live in Portland make something of their lives, with interests that intersect with mine (writing, music and politics). I'm very much a "Generationalist" since high school when I was intrigued by the Lost Generation, and post-college when the Beat Generation captured my fancy. It's my dream to write THE GENERATION X NOVEL (forget "the Great American Novel"--too much work!). One that captures our generation's feelings, experiences, and sense of the world messed up by the Boomers.

In case you're still wondering about the Starbucks logo at the top...that company first opened its doors at Seattle's Pike Market Place guessed it! 1971!

Powell's Bookstore (a Portland institution) opened its doors guessed it! 1971!

I stole this photo off of Jeff's blog (his wedding announcement). He wrote a humourous account of his "birth punishment" (he was caught by God trying to hook up with Marilyn Monroe on Cloud Nine) in 1971. It's short but hilarious.

Charles Lewis shows his sense of humour in feeding the latest book by Stephen Colbert to a hungry, fresh out of hibernation bear! Apparently, Charles and Stephen have some sort of feud going on about Colbert's unflattering comments about Portland. I think you can access a video blog of Charles regarding the Colbert Affair for details.

Anyhow...1971 was a great year. The five examples I presented you with is proof of that.

Oh...and speaking of my being behind the curve on accomplishing my dream life, I almost missed being born in 1971 by two days. I was supposedly due on Christmas, but I guess I wasn't in a rush to see the world. I'm glad that I didn't wait until the new year, though. 1971 is so much cooler than 1972 (sorry Nicholas Smith!). I gave you five reasons why. We're gonna take over the world! Or at least Portland. The Starbucks/Powell's Revolution won't be televised. Except on YouTube.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Why Charles Lewis Will Be Surprisingly Good for Portland

Symbolism upon symbolism: Charles Lewis made the announcement of his run for City Council on 6 June 2007 (anniversary of RFK's death) in front of the statue of Martin Luther King, Jr. (which he helped complete the fundraising for). RFK and MLK in 1968 were known for their crusade against poverty and you can't help but wonder how different America might be had they lived and continued to work for equality. I hope Charles Lewis will carry the banner of those two political and spiritual heroes.

Ever since the revelation of John Branam's exorbitant payment to his buddy and campaign manager Phil Busse ($25,000 for three months campaign work), I have been looking for a new candidate to support for City Commissioner Position #1 (the seat Sam Adams is vacating to run for Mayor). I kind of considered voting for Jeff Bissonnette, mostly because of his work on the Utilities board and his ability to see Enron for the scheme it was when they tried to manipulate the energy in Oregon. Plus he's older and the complete opposite of John Branam's slick and shallow image.

Last week, I received a flyer in my mailbox from Charles Lewis, who is also running for the position. It was one of the coolest political flyers I've ever come across. Eight pages in scrapbook style, offering a sufficient biography and background info on why he'd make a great City Commissioner. As I read through it, I was shocked that I didn't even consider him at first. There are six people running and I hadn't heard about his campaign until earlier this year (even though he announced his candidacy on 6 June 2007--months BEFORE Sam Adams decided to run for mayor). The reason why I didn't look into his campaign earlier this year is because the media always referred to him as "The Portland Duck Tour owner." They made him sound like a novelty candidate without any kind of political background! However, the shame is completely on me for falling for media characterizations when I know better. Honestly, though, between volunteering on Sam Adams campaign, looking for a new job, and planning the Memorial Day retreat, I just didn't make time to read every candidate's website and contact their campaigns to meet them in person.

My early support of John Branam was based mostly on his being the first candidate that I heard about running for Sam's seat; plus he has the whole bi-racial Obama thing going on (local alternative press have dubbed him Obranam); he served in the Peace Corps in South Africa and met Nelson Mandela; and he has on his campaign staff Jake Oken-Berg (lead singer of the great Portland band the Retrofits--the one I saw in concert earlier this year) and Paul Van Orden (whom I've met a few times when he talked about how to get a job in city government). I was content with that being enough reasons to vote for him until the papers reported the way Branam has spent his campaign funds that are part of Portland's experiment in what is called VOTER-OWNED ELECTIONS. I've heard many people wonder if Branam's actions is going to kill this system because there are those who oppose this innovation and might point to Branam as an example of candidates abusing the system. But that's just an excuse to throw the system out with the unethical candidate, which would unfairly punish candidates who use the money properly. The system is a great idea so candidates don't have to dial for dollars (and the whole "quid pro quo" that comes attached when people donate money).

I'm actually glad it happened though, because it caused me to look deeper into Branam's candidacy and I found some info online that makes him look even shadier. So, when you scratch the surface and realize there's not much depth, it's time to look for a new candidate.

Charles Lewis more than meets the standard I'm looking for in a great city commissioner. I met with him yesterday for about thirty minutes at his campaign headquarters. He took time out of his busy schedule to meet with me, which is impressive enough. After talking with him, I feel that he is very genuine and a likeable person. A complete lack of pretension is what came to mind after I met with him. His personal biography is one that could make snobs of anyone, but he remains down to earth and dedicated to the music center he founded and executive directs (Ethos Music Center).

Here's a little background info about him:

He received his degree in Political Science from the University of Portland, served in Congo (not the one formerly known as Zaire) in the Peace Corps, got a full ride scholarship to Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, was elected the Student Body President and received the Robert F. Kennedy Award for Excellence in Public Service (like me, Lewis also admires RFK a great deal). And he's married to the pastor of the Piedmont Presbyterian Church, who is due to deliver their first child in June.

With an education and experience trajectory like that, you'd expect him to land a great job anywhere in government or the private sector. What does he do after Harvard?

That's what has impressed me the most to take notice of his candidacy.

After the prestige of Harvard, he returned to Portland and lived on a friend's couch for a year while he ran up his credit card to start an after-school music program for low-income children in Portland when budget cuts forced schools to drop their music education programs. Now the organization he founded employs 78 people and has an upper six-figure annual operating budget. He was also instrumental in completing the fundraising for Oregon's Martin Luther King Jr. Statue at the Oregon Convention Center (which I've seen many times from the MAX train and admired from the window). And if that weren't enough, he and his wife started a Portland Duck Tour company with an amphibious bus that drives around the city before ending with a float down the Willamette River.

That's not all! He also used part of his campaign finance money to fix potholes in city streets. we have one candidate who wants to ensure that taxpayer money is spent on basic services and helping communities while another candidate uses part of his taxpayer money to pay a buddy a nice salary for three months. It's a dramatic choice between two Returned Peace Corps Volunteers.

After meeting him, I'm ready to cast my ballot. To me, there's no contest. Of course, I must also confess that I'm partially biased to any candidate born the same year as me (1971) and a high school class of 1990 alumni. But beyond that "superficial criteria", he has the life experience, work experience, and educational background to make a great city commissioner for Portland.

If you don't agree, think about this...

What would possess a guy with a Harvard graduate degree to run up his credit card to solve the problem of schools cutting music education for children? He put his financial future on the line for something he believed in. He could've left grad school with a six figure salary job offer in New York or Washington, but instead he returned to Portland to help low income children learn how to play instruments. It's no wonder why the Portland Tribune compared him to Barack Obama (though John Branam would love that comparison for himself). Dismissing Lewis as merely a Duck Tour businessman doesn't do his experience justice. Those who do should take note. He decided to sell his Duck Tour business and hoped for a local buyer to keep it going in Portland. What he told me is something I've heard quite a few candidates mention about Portland's business reputation. The group that bought his company and those that considered buying it, none of them see Portland as very business friendly. That's why wages are suppressed in Portland and the job market is the worst I've seen in any city I've lived in.

But if there's anyone who could help bring businesses to Portland and turn around that image, Charles Lewis is that person. If you live in Portland and haven't voted yet, please vote for him. Let's see what his Ethos-style leadership will bring to the city. I have a feeling that Charles will be surprisingly good for Portland as City Commissioner for the next four year term...but there's only one way to find out.