Terrorist? or Patriot?

What distinguishes terrorism from patriotism here in the land of those free to shoot off their mouths without thinking? Apparently it’s the same here as abroad - whether or not you share a deep seated animosity toward the target. In the days following the destruction of the WTC anyone who dared mention the possibility that some of the involved MAY have felt justified in attacking this country for some perceived wrong doing, was shouted down and labeled a traitor. Yet any number of people feel free to qualify the nutter act of the wackjob who burned his own house and flew his plane into an IRS building as potentially having some justification. ‘After all, taxes are evil. People resent taxes, they’ve had enough; is it any wonder this doesn’t happen more often’, so it is said by some of our elected officials. (I suppose at least Timothy McVee will have some company in hell that speaks his language without an accent.)

Obviously most people feel less threatened by this act than the efforts of Al Qaeda (the typing of which no doubt has attracted the attention of some NSA bot somewhere...). I doubt that any software engineers are particularly worried about the personal ramifications of this guy’s acts. Roving bands of patriots are unlikely to storm Apple or Microsoft HQ demanding that they denounce this kind of thing. I doubt my shoes (and those unfortunate fellow travelers nearby when I take them off) or personal hygiene products will suffer any greater indignities at our nation’s airports as a consequence.

What about groups that bomb clinics, terrorize the children of animal researchers, or throw Molotov cocktails at their homes? Some might argue that their agenda has this or that basis but is that not using terror to accomplish a political aim (which I believe is the definition of terrorism)?

Yet hypocrisy and its consort irony are alive and well fed in this land of ours. To me the question is more akin to whether organized crime is worse than crimes committed by an individual. Those that embrace violence as a means to their own ends are all criminals in my simple world. Terrorism is just a subset of the most vile narcissism that allows one to rob the innocent of their lives to make a point that you decided justifies monstrous acts. The victims are no more dead in one instance yet we do feel more ill at ease by the notion of evil organizations than by the threat of being nearby when somebody snaps. Perhaps terrorism is nothing more than cynically recruiting amongst those who have snapped in some way and directing them in a particular direction with better logistics. But murder/suicide is murder/suicide no matter how disenfranchised or well organized. If you fail to dissociate the crime from any real world points worthy of discussion you are opening a huge can of cannibalistic worms. If you open the door to understanding how Mr Nutter came to fly his plane into the IRS building, don’t be surprised when someone asks you about the Twin Towers.


When Jessie Came to Town

I apologize in advance for this post. It is undoubtedly the darkest thing I have ever published here. This incident reminds me of so many others I have witnessed and been part of over the years. My intention is not to indict the police officers in the line of duty. But we as a society need to come up with some solutions to the problem of the mentally ill that doesn't involve only officers trained for a very different type of confrontation. The mentally ill can be as dangerous as any criminal. But it is different.

I've worked with the police for decades and I've yet to meet someone who wanted to use their weapon. I've cared for officers far too often when they were struck in the line of duty. The rhyme just stuck in my head and is not an attempt to be cute or be whimsical about this horrible incident and all the lives it has damaged (including the shooter). It sort of wrote itself.

Aaron Campbell was his name,
serving up the pink mist brought him to national fame,
despondent over his brother’s loss, did not really understand the game,
shots fired from 20 yds, all that remains is who to blame.

Depressed and lost, frightened friends didn’t know what to do,
Hadn’t always been one to follow the straight and narrow, this much was true,
911 dispatcher sent the police into this volatile brew,
whether suicide by proxy was his intent, God only knew.

With eyes on one officer, trying to calm him down and take control of the scene,
did not know another lurked, rifle aimed, behind a car unseen,
what happened next from dispatch tapes and testimony was not hard at all to glean,
for the police bureau and the public would another tragedy come between.

With hands high and backing out, was startled by a beanbag round against his back,
reached around and twisted when an AR-15 once did crack,
the center of mass the only thing the sniper had in his track,
no spotter was in place, no command order given to act.

The shooter was certain he must have a gun,
and given any time he was certain, behind cover, to run,
and his brothers in arms in the open would bleed before he was done,
not going to happen on his watch when he too had a gun.

Couldn’t hear the cooperation in Aaron’s voice above the barking of a dog,
Of the great public safety machine, just another well armed cog,
that he was disconnected from awareness of the situation, was apparent from the scene log,
one bullet changed two men's lives each unaware of the entire field because of this intimate war's fog.

No violence to the police had he committed before the round his body did shred,
just a gaping wound where his brother once lived, into which had seeped unbearable dread,
Aaron Campbell’s life spilled out staining the street by his door red,
the only certainty at this scene was another young black man dead.

Though bad enough, an ordeal not yet ended,
lay dying in the street for 20 minutes unattended,
while his life’s blood with his surroundings blended,
time needed to secure the scene was the excuse contended.

The burdens of the street are immense out there on the job,
must handle anything from a missing cat to controlling a mob,
that traffic infractor may be fleeing the bank that, with a gun, he just did rob.
and other than Manson, for the worst offender’s loss, on camera, will some mother sob.

Perps high school graduation pictures on the front page,
do not usually do justice to the present, nor how far one has fallen presage,
“he was such a good boy”, cameras fix on the mother til a new scandal this story will upstage,
just serves as a means, the public to enrage.

Under siege are the police on the best of days,
Such stress must come out in any number of ways,
a public as the enemy mentality creates a malaise,
in a war zone, not a neighborhood, the right action hard to find within the maze.

All may explain though never can it justify,
why this depressed young man had to die,
no matter the explanations one may apply,
well armed, but ill equipped when one’s mind goes awry.

Sadly, in this city, not the only time,
depression became a capital crime.

As usual the bureau and city leadership slammed shut like great clams contemplating the stew,
No leadership emanated from the mayor’s office but that was nothing new,
the union marched in support of the officer as they always do,
and promises of change were made to protesters, again nothing new.

Democracy’s modern cycle with the public chasing shadows as each of its servants responsibility did duck,
would blow over like all the earlier incidents with any degree of luck,
the guy on the trigger with all the blame would be stuck,
senior leadership as usual merely passed along the buck.

Snippets from angry sermons made the late TV news,
but only ephemera emanated from the mechanical oversight reviews.
the Grand Jury was appalled and released their findings for all to peruse,
said the system and training was to blame, which did nothing the situation to defuse.

Behind walls of denial or in churches brimming with fulfilled expectation,
two waring parties smoldered awaiting the attention of a nation.
seething anger amongst a congregation,
local news ratings raised high but not the quality of information.

Then Jessie came to town...

No doubt, never has he met a camera he did not like,
and not always at the right target does his aim properly strike,
but the bureau would make changes, they smiled to the mike,
and the Feds now would be brought in for oversight.

Got each of our leaders to come out of their hole,
oh how they wanted to make clear how they welcomed his role,
of course fixing the problem was always their goal,
before mis-communication claimed another lost soul.

Love him or loathe him he is never ignored,
everything will change, our leaders implored,
from bully pulpit public momentum was restored,
hopefully, this time, the dead will not be ignored.

No city, even one of roses, likes its dirty laundry to air,
especially across the breath of the land, less than perfect race relations to bare,
but if for only a moment away from the lawyers, can the parties a moment of clarity share,
a life lost might bring us closer to the truth if we dare.



Over at True Christianity by Botts there is a lovely, albeit very bittersweet discussion on faith and the approach Christians might take in trying to spread what they might call the good news. I say bittersweet because better than any post in my recent memory it describes the fundamental disconnect between someone like Botts and myself. In terms of life experiences, politics and manners I find Botts to be closest to my own personal morality than any other Christian believer I read on the web. That which separates us forever seems to be how we process personal experience. It seems to me, that is the key to whether one has faith or not. My mind is hardwired to think of the good news as the fact that a growing part of the population seems to be moving away from historical belief structures toward a naturalistic view of the universe. My life is filled with wonderful events, joys and experiences and a sense of wonder but none has ever convinced me that they emanate from a plain of existence beyond the physics of this universe. I conduct myself in an empathetic, moral and ethical manner that seems similar to many of the 'good' Christians I encounter. What is it that makes me experience similar life events and attribute them to either bias, illusion or neuro-chemicals and another to honestly believe it's a sign from some metaphysical plain of existence? I don't know but I don't think it's life experience or conditioning. I think it really is innate. Certainly was in my case as despite being sentenced to many years of hard labor in a Catholic school, it just never took hold. That got me into a lot of trouble - in an earlier age I probably would have been burned at the stake for a couple of my theology essays. (Particularly the one where I suggested that Roman Catholicism was nothing more than an overlay of Christianity on top of Roman culture and its Pantheon demoting many of the gods to mere saintly status. Man I got a beating for that one.)

My mind wanders waxing with wanton alliteration, but I whimsically wonder if we aren't seeing the early days of a speciation event. Certainly seems that religiosity/and or a fondness for Woo is a factor in mate selection these days. It will be interesting to see how the scions of such unions view the universe.



In Oregon did Corrupt Cons,
a statewide income grab decree,
To pay for revenue shortfalls that the legislature knew their higher new budget would over run,
With only 3% shouldering new burdens, each expected to cough up a princely sum,
For all the talk of group sacrifice by all those not affected,
Any plan for lasting change paid by all, many a time they have rejected.
Class warfare works wonders to mobilize the base,
But the lost business will be far harder to replace.

As usual did the legislature conspire to make it all a crisis and incite fear,
fail to pass the measures and they ‘d sacrifice health, schools and safety was made quite clear,
and after all it won’t affect any but a few,
and anyone with higher pay could not possibly be making their real due,
so stick it to business and the rich, my friends, what harm could that really do,
it’s not like they can just move away and leave the state to stew,
oh wait, perhaps, since they do have money, that is just exactly what they’ll do...

More than a quarter of our State’s personal tax revenues is what that 3% supplies,
Pretty sure the number of those who move north to Clark County will very likely rise,
And if the state is right about how dire are its finances at the closing of the year,
The impact of losing just a few of 3% will have a grave impact in coming years, I fear,
How much easier it is to retain a thing no matter what the cost,
than to hope for the return of any institutions or people once they have been lost.
And if they leave in droves the result for Oregon will be a financial rout,
gambling that it doesn’t come to pass not something I’m willing to find out.
Real tax reform was possible had our representatives the nerve,
but interest groups and re-election, not the the future of the State, are the real masters that they serve.

The State’s economy may be in free fall and our private pensions in the dirt,
but Oregon’s public employee’s retirements are guaranteed to rise no matter how other Oregonians hurt.
The statewide rolls of the unemployed swell to almost 20%,
leaving in tax revenues, a growing and ragged rent,
but the public pensions are sacrosanct and reining them in is considered crazy talk,
too bad for all those other poor Oregonians ground between that hard place and that rock.

Portland fancies itself a perfect place either to start or move your business,
but with new levees and soaring taxes, I must, my doubts confess.
The list of that which they demand of you and the litany of fees grows longer by the day,
and if you dare to ask what they offer in return they look at you like you should be put away.
Add unstable public schools and crony leadership and I doubt many enterprises will apply,
I suppose we’ll learn how many boutiques, bikes and coffee shops a city sans industry can support before it will die.

Hideous infills proliferate and scar old east-side neighborhoods no matter how those living nearby may grouse,
though mysteriously none seem to appear near the homes of developers or any commissioner's house,
A Owl’s roost would, by the city, be vehemently protected,
but the city’s disdain for human neighborhoods is, by their push for density, well reflected,
Mayor Sam spouts gossamer figures about recovery that make him sound administratively adroit,
but downtown offices sit empty in numbers only surpassed by old Detroit.
And while the city’s finances burn with fading hope for reparations,
our mayor Sam fiddles a tune wondering, whether to offer, to city employees, transgender operations,
So many unable to meet the most basic needs or any medical care,
perhaps the tax money should go first to those unable to cover even the basics which seems so much more fair.
No, more important for the mayor to appear progressive,
than to address the needs of those whose plight each day becomes more oppressive.

Portland Public Schools for 2 years has in secrecy conspired,
to wrap its plans to dump east side schools as something opportunity and equity required,
But the rules and sacrifices don’t apply to those on the west side residing,
the real rationale for these closures still safely kept in hiding,
Arbitrary travel rules conveniently ignored to the west, stacked the deck,
against only east side schools that the district planned to wreck,
but instead of real conversation and hard analysis and just to cover their bases,
they hint that any who opposes their plans clearly must be a racist.
Funny considering the schools slated for destruction are the city’s most diverse,
away from our neighborhoods our kids they wish to disperse.

Could it be instead, that while we agree that every kid’s education should be more than a token,
we fail to see how making that better requires us to fix or destroy what ain’t broken?
Successful schools to be sacrificed on mediocrity’s altar,
The arbitrary changes won’t fix anything but will cause advanced opportunities to falter.
With the stroke of a redistricting pen they can drop the value of homes in stable neighborhoods more than 10%,
and erase what few gains rounds and rounds of emergency bond measures have in past years spent.
They constantly decry how little money they have for any rainy day,
yet always seem to find the cash for all those expensive consultants they wish to pay.
close the gap not the schools seems a simple thing to grasp,
but apparently is beyond any collective wisdom the district has amassed.

Attending meetings where platitudes and generalities are expressed weeks on end by practiced rote.
Is not the same thing as buying in to an actual plan not unveiled until seconds before a school board vote,
But now we learn the real reason that the east side schools are on the block,
The affluent west side school with all the toys needs cash to expand so talk of equity is just a crock,
To the west already wealthy schools will get more,
while students to the east will simply be shown the door,
Portland Public Schools insists that equal opportunity is most important if they have their druthers,
But PPS takes a cue from Orwell cause some are more equal than others.

Just minutes to the north is a State with no income tax at all,
But the notion of living there does not all hearts enthrall,
Need only move across the bridge and live near Fort Vancouver,
But unfortunately the notion none too sweet since its politics have changed little from the time of Herbert Hoover.
The bitter choice is stay the course and swallow Oregon’s offered gall,
or move north to a land without zoning that sprawls like an ’80’s shopping mall.
Seems to work well for folks who choose that lifestyle, for them it offers many perks,
Though I must say I prefer my towns to have a few more oddball quirks,
North of the river appeals to many who prefer life in the burbs,
but some of us prefer urban neighborhoods and having to drive everywhere is something that disturbs,
Keep Portland weird is a rallying cry seen all around the town,
But somebody has to keep things running or else this place in red ink will drown,
A bitter pill it is indeed to contemplate a move,
particularly when such a thing does not your quality of life improve,
but from time to time one must decide that it’s best not to linger long in a place,
that your town can no longer meet your needs is often hard to face,
Much preferred would it be to stay and fight together the State’s problems without complaint,
but the lesson has been learned that in this together, we obviously really ain’t.


Gotta Hand it to Sara...

Just when you think that reality can't become any more absurd and surreal...

Sara Palin has become the smarmy voice for ignorance and catch phrases absent any meaningful ideology. Her smugness matched with her ignorance is not a particularly appealing package when looking for a national leader. I'd like to think that true conservatives can find someone better to articulate their vision and lead.

Being plain spoken may just mean you have nothing substantive to say.

True conservatism is an important point of view in our national debate and direction. Personally, I’m a social liberal, fiscal conservative who believes in a strong national defense and a cautious foreign policy. The conservative mistrust of government and the liberal mistrust of the people can provide the delicate balance needed to navigate the treacherous waters of democracy. But it only works with enlightened leaders. Leaders who try to get us to be the best versions of ourselves not the worst. That is why I like Obama. Not because he has all the answers but because he is trying to get us to act like a nation instead of a couple of idiotic factions. It’s not working because the conservative cause has been hijacked by intellectual lightweights and gutless windbags. The Republican strategy of dropping to the ground like a toddler and becoming a burdensome sack of potatoes to the political process may succeed in winning the next election. It won’t help provide leadership and direction for our nation’s future.

Conservatives - don’t wave the flag or spout about family values. Ditch the smarmy catch phrases. Call out your windbags. Explain to the rest of us what you bring to the table and how you’ll address the collective problems we face. Do that and some of us might vote for you.

On a positive note, although you will lose data with this method if you get the device wet, you can still use it again in the future...

But security can be a problem if someone gets a hand on it.


A Progressive Poem!

Been a bit tied up of late as I was trapped near the inner circle of thought. And now for something completely different... A progressive poem. I have provided a start - add others and I'll insert them assuming they aren't too rank. Might be fun!

Our DNA differs but 2% from a chimpanzee,
Must be the retrovirus inserted by the great deity,
containing the required developmental controls,
needed to fill us all to the brink with souls.

Soulful we are and soulful we'll stay
Until we evolute another way
I wish God had put biology in the bible
So with every good mutation we could hold revival!

"There's no transitional species",
A creationists shouts with Glee
"We're not monkeys, you see!"
I say, "True, but could it be,
the transition is you and me"

The Mormons claim the souls exist
upon a separate plane
waiting for us to procreate
and bring them into this domain
If chimpanzee would suffice
souls would not have to wait so long
but chimpanzee don't fill the church
thus the Mormons can't be wrong