The Week in Review

Jeff Alworth

Poor Martin Scorsese must hate March (or in this case, February): another post-Oscar Monday, another "screw you" from the crowd who once gave Kevin Costner a Best Director trophy.  Sorry, Marty, you'll just have to content yourself with being America's greatest living director.  On a more serious note, Monday was also a powerfully mixed day for the Middle East.  In Iraq, the bloodiest attack yet underscored the challenges confronting the post-election republic.  But in Lebanon, dissidents struck a true note for freedom, demanding--and receiving--the ouster of the ruling Syrian-backed government.  Dissidents of a different sort lighted a slightly smaller torch of freedom on the coast, as the Tillamook Creamery co-operative farmers voted to ban the use of artificial growth hormones.  Monsanto, who believes no cow is too young to lactate, demanded action.  Early word is that Dubya has already lined up an initiative he's calling "Healthy Cow" to come to the agri-giant's rescue.

On Tuesday, irony-resistant GOP leader Karen Minnis stamped her feet and demanded that Democrats "get serious" just before she pulled out of budget talks with them.  Democrats, who thought their $12.5 billion budget, with $5.4 billion for K-12 education, was pretty serious, rolled their eyes.  A week of bad polling numbers for the President started rolling in on Tuesday with the news that since Bush has begun stumping for privatized social security, people have become less supportive of the idea.  The White House, in response, has declared a sixty-stops-in-sixty-days tour to continue to drum up (or down) support.  Democrats tried not to cheer.

This just in: it's no longer kosher to execute 16-year-olds.  Irony-resistant Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia noted in his dissent: "I do not believe that the meaning of our [Constitution] should be determined by the subjective views of five members of this court."  (Quick, somebody get him a copy of that Constitution.)  Also in Washington on Wednesday, Senate majority leader Bill Frist inadvertantly deviated from spin and spoke the truth, calling Bush's Social Security plan DOA.  Hours later, he advertantly returned to the party spin.  Closer to home, the Portland Trailblazers, citing fairness, fired head coach Maurice Cheeks. 

In Salem, the state jumped into the PGE sweepstakes, pissing off Erik Sten, who, despite polite langauage that allowed that public ownership is a good thing and that either plan would be fine, clearly thought that the pack of idiots in Salem couldn't run a lemonade stand, never mind a multi-billion dollar utility.  Right on cue, Karen Minnis continued her budget-talk strike.  And finally, newsworthy Wednesday also witnessed Fed chairman Alan Greenspan continue to desecrate his own legacy, arguing for Social Security benefit cuts, necessitated by the wholesale irresponsibility of the Bush administration, for whom Greenspan has for four years shilled.

Thursday marked the one-year anniversary of the Multnomah County Commission's decision to grant marriage licences to gays and lesbians.  Several hundred citizens marched at the Capitol, demanding that their rights be guaranteed.  Inside that building, Karen Minnis, deciding that the Democrats were serious after all, unironically agreed to a $12.4 billion budget, with $5.4 for K-12 education.   In a salute to our Democracy-seeking brethern in tyrannies across the Middle East, Thursday also saw the release of a Gallup poll finding that 27% of Americans would be willing to nuke those countries.  Assassination and torture were also popular.  "Give us your poor, your tired, your huddled masses..."

On Friday, Greenspan continued his ... well, whatever it was, arguing that economic woes could be alleviated by a regressive sales tax that would protect Bush's massive giveaways to the rich.  Salem was quiet, as Republicans geared up for their annual Dorchester Conference.  But in Beijing, China issued a human rights scorecard on the US, belittling the land of the free for its "wanton slaughters" abroad, American elections that are awash in special-interest cash, and U.S. courts that harbor deep-seated racial bias.  Okay, sure--China issues this kind of propaganda all the time.  But they do sort of have a point on this one.

Finally, on Saturday so-called moderates of the GOP, HUGELY irony-resistent, voted two-to-one at the annual Dorchester Conference against civil unions.  Moderates.  In the party of Lincoln.  I don't even want to know what the conservative wing thinks about the issue.

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    Okay, a quick check in. I've been doing these for a month, and provoking--unsurprisingly--no comment. (These kinds of posts don't provoke comment. I get that.) They're sort of a time suck, though, and I want to know: is anyone reading them? I think they're sort of fun, and I'd like to read them, but I'll desist if they're just a private hobby horse I'm riding.

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    Regarding the Dorchester Conference and it being moderate, there's this from The O:

    Founded in 1964 by then-state Rep. Bob Packwood, the Dorchester Conference has been a forum for moderate Republicans to raise politically tough issues. But attendance has not been limited to moderates or even Republicans.
    Kevin Mannix, chairman of the Oregon Republican Party, said he didn't know whether the 2-1 ratio of Saturday's vote against civil unions suggests that more conservatives are coming to the conference. Or, he said, it may be related to Measure 36, a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage approved by almost 60 percent of Oregon voters.
    "Ten years ago, the vote may have been different," Mannix said of the Dorchester debate. "We are seeing something of a shift here."
    On Saturday, Packwood was not entirely pleased by the civil union vote. "If you let everybody in, look what happens," he said.
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    I'm loving 'em Jeff, for what it's worth. Of course, I enjoy most everything here at BlueOregon.

    Sundays are our slowest day, traffic-wise. Maybe another day? Say, Friday - our biggest day traffic-wise?

  • Chris Phan (unverified)

    Jeff: I read it and enjoyed it.

  • Nev (unverified)

    Read and appreciated your writing it...distrubing news as it is...

  • allehseya (unverified)

    (ahem) I hereby go on record (again, I might add) that I thoroughly enjoy them . . . I do think that the lazier part of me would like a handy blue link or two or three . . . but that's just me being greedy.

    Please stay on the horse through time?

    And for the record -- I like the film critiques too...

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    Jeff, keep it up. I read them and love your take on things.

  • paul h (unverified)

    Keep it up Jeff! I appreciate the weekly summaries, especially for weeks (like last one) when I was out of state. Informative and entertaining.

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    I was just sitting here reading all the best bits aloud to my spouse, who, unaccountably, is sitting behind me at her computer reading something else.

    We both like your style.

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    Add me to the "thumbs up" column, Jeff. They're great.

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    Wonderful to hear, folks. I'll keep it up--thanks!

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    One other tasty tidbit from Dorchester - another topic up for debate was "Should the US invade Iran?"

    Gotta love how that was phrased. One wonders, what about Syria?

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