Ramblings From the Ragged Crumbling Edge Of The Reality-Based Community

Friday, November 18, 2005

Telling the Sheep From the Goats 

...from the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 25, v. 34 - 46:

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

...yesterday the Republican majority in the US House, members of the party that claims to represent family values and to be the true protector of Christian values in a society overrun by the Satan-spawn commie hedonist wacko's of the far left, managed to twist enough arms to sketch out a 217-215 victory for an appropriations bill. This bill will reduce funding for poor people who need medical care, poor people who need food assistance, and middle-income and poorer families who need help funding their children's college education. The result will be increased denial of Medicaid coverage, increased numbers of families who can't afford to put adequate food on the table, and children who will be denied the opportunity to break out of these vicious cycles through a college education...

...in the next several days, the Republican majority in the House will attempt to pass a bill continuing tax cuts for dividend and capital gains income, which almost exclusively benefit only the wealthiest of Americans...

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Politics vs. The Oregon State Patrol 

...being members of a party that is never shy to let politics be more important that mundane issues like public safety, Oregon House Majority Leader Wayne Scott (Canby) and fellow Republican Rep. Andy Olson (Albany) have decided to request an audit of State Police expenditures and particularly the travel habits of OSP Superintendent Ronald C. Ruecker. Sadly, since this is mostly a political move rather that the actual expression of concern over the management of OSP, there isn't much in the way of specifics provided. One underlying motive in this audit request is to try to contribute to a negative picture of Governor Ted Kulongoski in advance of the upcoming election, with the hope that this and other negative messages yet to be revealed could make him weak enough in a primary - where challengers have announced their intentions - that he might be defeated and the way would be cleared for Kevin Mannix to run against a Democrat lacking either the power of incumbency or the name recongnition that either Kulongoski or Mannix could command. Another underlying motive is the elimination of the State Police as a highway traffic enforcement agency, with the responsibility falling back on the counties...

...it's an elegant plan, really, creating the possibility of capturing the Governorship and at the same time being able to force the actual funding of highway law enforcement on tax payers at the local level while seeming to be heroes for reducing state taxes by elimination of state-funded patrol officers. Unfortunately for Scott and Olson, they have placed themselves in a rather difficult position. Aside from gutting the funding for OSP over the last several years to the point where being stopped for a moving violation is almost more a case of bad luck than anything else, they have also whacked the Secretary of State's audit budget to the point that Sec/State Bill Bradbury can say with a straight face that they are gonna need to come up with some substantial facts to justify spending those precious, sparse monies on this particular audit as opposed to looking at other state issues. Interestingly enough, very little substance is offered in the public list of charges, suggesting that there may not be much more than harrassment involved in the audit request. I mean, when was the last time a politician who thought he was hot on the trail of official malfeasance held back on actually enumerating the outrages that he wanted investigated?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Delousing Public Broadcasting 

...I should at try to muster the strength to act surprised at this news, I suppose, but it's just not there. The fact that Kenneth Y. Tomlinson even became the Chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in the first place was a marriage so obviously brokered in the deepest darkest regions of Republican dominance-hell that it almost seems to be a crime in itself that federal dollars needed to be spent to investigate the question of what was at least inappropriate behavior on his part. To find that he actually broke federal law merely gives the official seal of approval to everything that was being said, right out in the open for God and everyone to hear, by all sorts of knowing people. This report, and his departure as a result of the findings, is one of those small victories in the larger cultural war that will be little remarked upon outside of those circles that actually care about public television and radio, but it is an important one. That particular conflict probably isn't completely settled, given that Patricia Harrison is still going to be with us as the CPB President, but at least a warning shot has been fired across the Good Ship Wingnut's bow to let those on board know that turning public broadcasting into a publicly financed version of Fox News isn't going to happen...

...the fact that the right got caught, and the main perp got dumped, is one small hopeful indicator of the potential turning of the neo-con/winger/fundie tide. It suggests that the generational change in political fortunes that the Norquists and Roves and others have been working for is destined to be measured by the generational metric of hamsters rather than humans. The only shame is the lack of actual penalties for Tomlinson's violations. Something must be appropriate: maybe duct taping him to a sturdy unpadded metal office chair in some cold damp room with a single bare bulb dangling from the ceiling where he can watch a never-ending loop of old "Barney" episodes, one after another, on and on. Maybe then he can understand what 'balance' really means...

Monday, November 14, 2005

Selling Lies at The Highest Level 

...it's the same speech that he delivered instead of honoring Veterans on Friday. It's remarkably similar to a speech that he gave back during an October trial run. It's, most of all, exactly what Bushco said they were going to do to try to modify the political landscape that has been so hard for them to traverse over the last few months. Insist that everybody was working off of the same page; proclaim that wavering Democrats who once "voted for war" (they didn't actually, but never mind) had the same intelligence information that the Bush Administration did (they didn't really, but never mind). It's all just another version of everything we've seen before: the misrepresentations of the administration's goals, the demonization of those Democrats who opposed the Homeland Security Bill over what was actually a dispute over administration efforts to eliminate civil service protections for all those employees from all those agencies who would be sucked into this new department; the vicious personal attacks against anyone who dared challenge their drive toward war against Iraq. Now the new lie that "everybody" had the same intelligence" in a purely political effort to turn around poll numbers that are a direct reflection of the building evidence that the Bush Monkeys either ignored or cherry picked intelligence to justify their long-sought Iraq invasion. Hopefully the polls that they claim to ignore will provide sufficient repudiation of this lame effort to make sure that we don't have to hear Gee Dub slur his way through another identical false representation of the facts every time Air Force One lands to fuel up and empty the holding tanks. It's so bad that the Fox News website even allows a former Democratic Congressman (who is a contributor to the site) to openly opine about the failings of this adminstration and the weakness of its argument. And that's the rub, eh? So many people from across the political spectrum are aware enough to understand that any misreading or misrepresentation of intelligence information began and ended with Gee Dub and his neocon war drummers that even Fox News is willing to make an effort to stay in front of the wave and not become marginalized by some misguided undying devotion to the conservative base...

...somehow, though, for whatever reasons that motivate their dark little souls, the folks who manufactured George W. Bush have decided that this is the battle that they need to fight, and for reasons that would probably escape most people with common sense, they apparently believe this is a winning strategy. On the other hand, they may view this as some sort of suicide attack staged as a last-ditch effort to save the presidency and avoid that classis Clintonian question "is the President still relevant". God help us all over the next three years if the eventual answer to that question is "no"...

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Those Long Untrustworthy FEMA Tentacles 

...apparently in order to prove that they have the power to spread their disruptive, confusing, and hopelessly inept power beyond the mere immediate geographic boundaries of whatever natural or man-made disaster that they are currently tasked with mismanaging, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has now managed to reach all the way across this great country of ours to create problems for Hurricane Katrina survivors in Oregon. Local agencies in the Portland area have been forced to cut back on the aid that they have been providing to Katrina survivors who ended up in the area because they aren't able to get a guarantee from FEMA about what costs will be covered. The general local view is that FEMA's response to the influx of Katrina evacuees has been "slow" and "confusing".
"It's been very difficult to work with FEMA," said Mary Li, who is coordinating Multnomah County's relief efforts. "It's been very difficult to get a clear answer to, yes we're going to reimburse this and no we're not going to reimburse that."

Apparently the concept of "unfunded mandate", once a virtual mantra of Republicans opposed to Clinton Administration initiatives but now a central part of the Bush administration's supposed move toward a smaller federal government, has now extended itself to the whole arena of disaster support. This failure of the federal government to step up to the plate and fully spell out what kind of support it will provide to local governments that are willing to step up to offer help to their fellow citizens is the sort of thing that come back to haunt an administration and a party. Given that one simple fact that local and regional governments have so many tax dollars to work with and local needs to redeem, the failure of the national government, after asking for physical assistence in the face of a major disaster, to reimburse those local entities for their efforts will create - sooner if not later - a reluctance by local governments to offer every resource they could to assist in that particular disaster response. Whatever the case, what we can clearly see is that FEMA is either a profoundly misnamed organization or one that has totally lost its way with regard to it's traditional mandate. It nothing else, we know that all those ugly stories about FEMA have longer tentacles that one might have originally suspected...

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