Friday, October 02, 2015

what can we do?

Yesterday, like everyone else who had a radio, television or computer on, I was feeling the same shock that repeats with each of these mass shootings. This one was closer to home but they all hit close to home because we know they could happen where we or our loved ones are. The thing we all wonder each time is what would stop this? Some say take away all guns. They know that won't really happen because even if that law went out, some would keep their guns. I'd be all for stopping the purchase of assault rifles and extended magazines. It would slow down shooters at least but the right wing stops any such attempt-- too much money in it dontchaknow.

Well, then how about better gun regulations as to who can buy a gun? Background checks make sense, but we don't yet know this guy would've had any problem buying his. Oregon did pass such a regulation requiring background checks, but how do they know ahead of time that a nutcase is ready to try for his moment of fame?

Some of the shooters, like the guy in Tucson, would not be able to buy guns. Ironically sometimes those people end up with a family member who buys one for them. What can we do about the one whose mother was buying them all for him?

This guy wanted fame. That can be denied them but it isn't. Time and again they get their picture and name in the paper. Then some other nutcase thinks how cool and they go for the same.

It is rumored that this guy was on some kind of social media site bragging about his intent (if it was him and not another nutcase) but the ones on that site were encouraging him not turning him in. The government could monitor such sites, but a lot of Americans don't like that idea.

Having some people armed could sometimes help. The young man who charged the shooter and ended up shot 5 times likely could have done it if he had been armed. Having been in the military, he had been trained in firearms use. But not everyone could use a gun wisely in such a situation. A lot of times there is no one nearby who could.

There should be praise now for those brave police officers who went in without backup and without waiting. Lately, the police get such a bad time from those blaming them for everything, but they always are the ones who go in when everybody else runs out. [Police officers end the shooter's rampage]

The thing is we should not give these cowardly murderers any notoriety, but the media does time and again. It's time to stop. Don't play the game in the media with why did he do it. Leave that for the experts to study and make it part of serious investigations not the usual media overkill as that 'fame' they give to these losers is part of why they do it-- time and again. 

Personally, I am all for gun regulations and I happen to not only be a gun owner but one with a concealed weapon permit of many years now; but it won't stop all of this kind of carnage. Although if that ex soldier had had one...

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A link worth reading

More reasons that Carly Fiorina should not be in serious contention to run anything-- let alone the United States.

Right winger positions will always cause me to not vote for one, but some are worse... and she is one of those. I hope Republicans do some research before they end up with one of their worst disasters as a nominee.

I should add that in the article, I think the writer blew one aspect. Fiorina probably did see that image she claims. The word is out that it was from a miscarriage. I looked for the pictures and saw them. There was no body harvesting and the words were added over the top by the grifter who is making all those anti-planned parenthood videos. Creative editing has been the name of that guy's game. And to believe this is real without doing research is Carly's game too. It suits her agenda.

Some are making a big deal out of Planned Parenthood making most of its money from abortions as if that is significant. Their director made their point well that a lot of their services are for low income women and they don't charge. I was a recipient of my first ever vaginal exam and prescription for birth control pills when I was in college and about to be married. It cost me nothing. 

Planned Parenthood provides a valuable service for low income women and with the way the right has gone after abortion providers, if Planned Parenthood was stopped from offering that service, there would be even less safe places for abortions. That is the goal of some. Back alley abortions or babies who are unwanted is what they desire to happen.

I doubt Planned Parenthood will be stopped from receiving government help for its services (other than abortion), but whether Fiorina will be stopped is another question. 

For anyone who understands psychology, Fiorina fits the profile of a sociopath. If you ever worked with her, you know how much. Is that what Republicans want as their Presidential candidate? Well, they did run Sarah Palin as Veep; so maybe it is...

Saturday, September 26, 2015

looking ahead

Ranting on this again because it's on my mind. To me, the future of our country is about future generations being raised up ready to take over. What are we doing to make that happen? Are we only educating the wealthy to be in that position-- a generation of oligarchs ruling over peasants?

For those who are worried that Bernie Sanders might win the election and do what he said he wants to do, I suspect you have nothing to worry about. The number of citizens who will vote for him probably aren't enough to even get him the nomination. The people in this country worried about a student (or the poor) getting money from them appears to outweigh concerns with wars we don't need, likewise weapon systems that we only need if we want wars around the world.

Bernie may not be able to win but I wish Americans would think long and hard on his proposals, such as regarding college tuition being paid by the government. This is NOT a partisan issue. It's a cultural one.

Did you know that Washington State Universities will have their tuition cut by 20% this year and it's a Republican legislature that drove it to happen. Who do you suppose that helps? The middle class. 

Concern over college getting so costly is all about the middle class, who are the ones being cut out of having their youth get educations beyond high school. $26,316 for three terms this year will be what an OSU undergraduate will be charged:

Tuition and fees: $10,000+
Books: $1950+
Housing and food: $11,874+
Misc: $2400.
On one of the right wing talk shows, I listened to the guy from Washington as he discussed why he did what he did and fought Democrats in Washington to get the reduction. He understood it. The poor get grants. The rich can afford those costs. The ones being priced out of college are from middle class working families.

I've mentioned before that when I went to college, I could pay my tuition by cleaning an office building one day a week. My husband paid for his by working at a dairy during his week-ends. Part time work could do it. Anybody who believes that is the case today is not paying a lot of attention to minimum wage and how hard it would be to earn $26,000 a year to go to college. Then if the kids borrow, the interest rates currently are 4.29% (down from when it used to be 8%) but it is calculated from the date the loan is taken out. So while elders like my husband and I earn maybe .5% interest on our savings, the banks aren't passing that benefit onto the students. You can buy a car at 0% interest and pay it off within three years to keep it 0% but our future generations-- pffft, no investment we want to make as a culture.

There are those on the right and left who understand how important higher education is to innovation and growth. They understand that if Germany, Sweden and five other countries not only don't charge their kids tuition but would let American kids come there to go to school, at no tuition, they value education. Why don't we? Or do we want to become a servant nation with the bulk of our population knowing how to grow food or sweep our floors?

This nation was built by those who valued education. Schools were one of the first things that communities made sure were built right alongside churches. My parents taught me how important it was to work hard in school and go to college. They only had eighth grade educations but they both read and they pushed their kids to work in school. They knew it mattered and they drilled it into me-- as my husband and I drilled it into our children, who now drill it into their children. 

Americans need to get it together that there are some things worth investing in—the future generations should be at the top of the list. Sure, I wouldn’t let just any kid go to college, one who didn’t get good grades in school should be in a trade school, those who want to learn a trade should equally be encouraged to those schools-- nothing bad about a good, solid trade-- but for those who want a college education, who have worked hard, they should know the way is open for them. It will give them motivation to work when they know it can take them somewhere. 

This isn't a gift or if it is, it is to repay the benefits we received from those years when college was affordable for the middle. It still won’t be free. Tuition is less than half the cost. But it will be more feasible for kids like I was to believe they could do it. 

To make this work will also take some monitoring of the universities to be sure their dollars are going into education not an overabundance of deans, advisers, and administration. A lazy people don’t want to monitor the system, make sure it's being fair and farsighted. A lazy people will get a future generation worthy of it.

The ones whining about paying tuition don't seem have any problem with a budget that is 57% military with a lot of weapon systems that don't even work out. They don't mind subsidizing big corporations or  giving huge tax cuts to the wealthiest. They don't mind being run by oligarchs. They also will get a future generation worthy of it... except I want better for my grandkids. A lot of Republicans feel the same way. Those elders, who don't get it, should get educated as to why having kids get more education will in the end be good for them. It's called looking ahead!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

quotes that live on

Once in awhile, everyone should watch Blazing Saddles again. It is funny and has some lines that hit home hard even this many years later. Try this one:
What did you expect? "Welcome, sonny?" "Make yourself at home?" "Marry my daughter?" You've got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know... morons.
We laugh over that one a lot :)

I should add for those who might not have seen it, you cannot be politically correct or you will be infuriated as it is not PC for then or even less for today. ;)

Thursday, September 17, 2015


As a disclaimer, I have been a registered Democrat all my voting life-- first election I got to vote in (had to be 21 back then) was 1964, and I've voted regularly ever since-- like the choices or not. Whoever the Republicans choose for their nominee, I will obviously have no say in it. The stand on issues required by these candidates is pretty much the antithesis to how I feel about what should be done; so none of them could get my vote in the November '16 election. Still some are worse than others to me, and every year I always hope the Republicans will nominate someone who I feel good about-- even I disagree on the issues.

You might think the candidate I'd like least would be Trump, but he's not. First on that list would have to be Huckabee as a religious ideologue who literally would throw out the Constitution for his personal interpretation of the Bible. He defends child molesters and those who refuse to do their job despite the oath they took,while he panders to the right wing religious types who mostly have no idea what the Bible even says. You may think that's extreme to say; but they ruin people's view of Christianity which, if they really followed Christ, would offend no one. Huckabee would be a disaster if he got in but he can't; so he's not the bigger concern I have right now.

No, what worries me is how the right wing are so shallow in how they respond to these candidates. It's the voters who worry me more than the possible candidates. And this is not just true of the low information voters so prevalent on the right (even as Rush says that's supposed to be me), but also those who know a lot but they want their agenda to get in there and they listen to the ones who sound the best regardless of their history.

Carly Fiorina fits this to a T. She is running as a successful CEO, who evidently (in her own grandiose mind) was pushed out of her job due to sexism not her failure as a CEO. She strikes me, having seen how she operated at HP and before that at Lucent that she is a sociopath. That isn't necessarily a drawback to the right wing. 

She uses her personal history as it suits her. So she claims a daughter died of drug abuse. Sad sad for Carly. Except the divorce from that daughter's parents came after Carly met the girl's father. The girl's mother had custody. Carly was her stepmother, a stepmother who might have broken up a marriage-- only two people know if that is true and they aren't apt to tell the truth.

A little personal history on Fiorina might be beneficial for those so enamored by the persona she projects. 

If you worked at HP, you would have opinions on her too. This is a woman who took a company known for its innovation, for how it encouraged creativity and recognized the value of all levels on the teams. She turned it into one who wanted to buy technology. She stifled teamwork. She valued her own image more than the company's, and she walked away a wealthy woman due to raising her own pay and a golden parachute. 

Her willingness to use anyone has worked well for her as a CEO-- not. Will it be any better as a President? Republicans are willing to gamble to give that a try. But then they would have foisted Sarah Palin onto our country as a Veep and possible President if McCain had died in office. 

I could say a lot more about Fiorina and probably will if she looks likely to get the nomination, but for now-- how can the Republican party seriously consider a candidate who says about Social Security and Medicare-- I won't say what I'd do about either until I get in office. I'll tell you what I call that-- a pig in a poke. This woman is a lot more than that on the rest of her resume. 

Hopefully the right will start to pay attention to her actual record-- all of it-- and not just her rhetoric. She ranks right down there with Huckabee in my mind for what a disaster she would be for the country if she truly gets into the White House as other than a visitor.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

college tuition

This is partly a rant and partly a what the @#$%* is going on post. I was listening to Rush Limbaugh when we were in town yesterday. It's the only time I listen to talk radio. It was a substitute host but he had a guest who discussed what the Republican party in Washington state had done for college students over the objections of the Democratic party.

What he said shocked me enough that I had to go home and double check the basic facts. What he claimed was the Democrats wanted college tuition to be as high as it's been, increasing far faster than inflation, so that they can use the tuition money to fund their pet projects-- like green projects. He said it took Republicans and some fiscally conservative Democrats to get past this road block and do something for the people-- of either party.

He claimed the Democrats in the Legislature and the Governorship wanted the high tuition rates that have made college difficult for many middle class families without taking out big loans. It turned my concept of which party is on the side of the middle class upside down. How could this be and why would liberals favor this kind of unfairness? Aren't the left supposed to be those who want everybody more educated? 

If you had reason to pay attention to the rising costs of college tuition, you would be in shock as I was to see them going up at a far higher rate than inflation and you ask yourself-- why? One reason I heard is that the colleges have gone administration heavy. Administrators often make more money than instructors. Professors, if they want to have tenure, are pushed to get grants from industry, the wealthy, or any kind of research facility who can pay. How good they are as teachers is secondary for how good they are at begging for research funds. It's how we end up with some of these ridiculous studies and everybody is wondering why or how come they needed to research what everyone has taken as common knowledge. Well it's grant money and that mostly goes to the University. 

So what have they been doing with the rising tuition funds, the grant money? Putting it into better instruction? Not so much. It's fancy buildings in some cases, bigger football stadiums in many cases, but also many speciality departments run by-- guess who-- the intellectual elites. So you have not just a Psychology Department but all kinds of secondary issues within psychology with a head for each.  Maybe Democrats are really on the side of the intellectual elites and that doesn't mean John and Mary Doe with their middle class income and four kids who need to get an education.

The cost of a college education has become a national disgrace. There are other countries who fund college for all the students who got good grades. When I went to college, much of the cost of the education was being subsidized by government. Well, it still is but the costs have been allowed to skyrocket so much that not only are the taxpayers but the students paying a high price for what is needed but has been going hog-wild.  And to get a loan, the students have to promise to not go bankrupt, which means they cannot escape the high interest and loan costs that are far more by the time they get a job than they originally borrowed. This is a national disgrace but worse-- short sighted. It leaves the coming generation without a lot of good options. Remember, they will be the ones running things someday. Do we want to close the middle class out of that option? Or have we simply not paid enough attention to what was happening until we have an offspring heading there.

I am impressed by Washington to lower the tuition in their universities by 20% and in their community colleges by 5%. I hope Oregon competitively finds it necessary to follow suit and then the other universities. It's not right that the only way kids can afford to go to college is to join the military, but for a society gung-ho for more wars, I guess it makes sense-- in a sick sort of way.

Saturday, August 22, 2015


 Yellowstone National Park some years back, during one of the fire seasons
From what I have been reading, some are blaming the catastrophic wildfires in the West this year to environmentalists. I don't know if that idea originated with a radio pundit or just those who resent any environmentalism, but I thought I’d put out a little history on wildfires. 

They were factors in nature long before men even got here. They would rage across the land with only weather eventually to stop them. Nature is good at starting fires with those dry thunderstorms. Native Americans also used fire to clear land as heavy timber wasn’t as good for their survival needs. If you read much about Lewis and Clark, they nearly starved coming through miles and miles of thick forest where nothing edible was to be found.

I have personal experiences with fire. I grew up in the Columbia River Gorge and our farm property went up into a wilderness made famous as the Yacolt Burn. There was more than one Yacolt Burn but the most well-known, with the greatest loss of life, was in 1901--
A later Yacolt Burn was a factor in my life. I was nine years old when fire came down out of the hills to threaten our farmland and home. I am not sure how that one started, but I remember going to sleep at night with the glow of red on the horizon. I left to catch the school bus, unsure if there’d be a home when I returned. My father and the other neighbor men started a backfire to protect their land. The firefighters at that time were only trying to protect homes. The backfire turned the fire back into the wilderness. The authorities were angry at the men. Backfires can be risky. Men have to know how to set them or they can make it all worse—but the men did know, and it saved our home, barns, and those of our neighbors. My parents had some timber burned but were able to sell those that were salvageable (my brother made good money by opening our farm gate for the loggers to go through without having to get out of their trucks—jealous? A bit). 

The other fire from my childhood was the Tillamook Burn. As with the Yacolt Burn, there were more than one of them. We would drive to the Coast through the burned out forests. It was great for stirring the imagination of children—until the hills were replanted and soon you’d not know it had happened.

I’ve also been in Montana during fire seasons, seen fires on the hillsides and the air so heavy with smoke that you couldn’t breathe without it making you sick. I got some of the most beautiful photos ever in Yellowstone one year from that smoke and the glow. Some of the forests there have naturally reseeded themselves. Some still are bleak many years later due to the fierceness of the heat. Arizona has also had its share of terrible fires. A big one roared out of the hills and took Zane Grey’s historic cabin up on the Mogollon Rim country—which was a big loss to someone like me who had been there twice but hoped to go again someday.

Environmental practices can lead to less fire risk by thinning forests and doing selective burns. Clearing out brush around homes (no, it’s not as pretty), not having cedar shingled roofs (we gave up our beloved shingles for that reason), and cutting down trees that are too close to the dwellings can help reduce risk. In the end though, a catastrophic blaze will overpower all in its way. 

We’ve spent a lot of money and time this year being sure we have irrigated our farmland as much as we can although our cattle graze on leased, tinder dry land, and we can’t do anything about that. Every time I smell smoke, I go outside to look at the horizon in all directions. A few times, it’s been there. Several small fires have started this year but the firefighters have gotten on them right away. Logging and farm equipment can start fires even with all the precautions responsible users take. Once we had to take some of our possessions into town because we were on one of the advance warning categories-- incidentally, what I wanted protected were photos and irreplaceable Native American pottery and rugs. 

Late summer and early fall is when country dwellers worry. What might happen here or in any rural location is not an event brought on by an ideology. Sometimes, it’s manmade. Often it’s nature, and although many humans want to think we are beyond nature—we’re not.

Fighting these fires is the most dangerous job I can imagine as they are unpredictable, winds change their direction, but they create their own winds. When those elements combine with dry thunderstorms, there is often no protecting the wildlife, livestock, humans, or structures in their path.  It would be nice if there were pat answers as to how to stop them and the kinds of catastrophe we are seeing this year. I don’t believe there is.