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WE'VE MOVED! Click here: http://www.hartwilliams.com/blog/blogger.html

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Fiftieth Solar Return. The actual calendar date is tomorrow, but I've been around for fifty suns now.

Turning thirty was the hardest. If you grew up in a time when the catchphrase was "Don't trust anybody over 30," it was passage into a grim sort of twilight, and the real memento mori came in that natal year of 1985/6. A dear friend died in San Francisco -- the woman who introduced me to my second wife, the great romance of my life. It was not unexpected, but it still devastated.

Equally rough, my writingatorial mentor died here in Eugene, Oregon -- although I was living in Hollywood at the time. Both hit hard. Both were unexpected and severe blows in a life punctuated by funerals. I have often heard people express surprise -- that they had never lost a relative before, that they had never attended a funeral before, and I could only wish them well in the bliss of THAT ignorance.

Memento mori means, in latin "me-MEN-toh-MOH-ree. Remember that you must die." (Dictionary of Foreign Terms, Pei & Ramondino, 1974)* That year I sure did. For some reason, those two "hits" made that year particularly like a passage from childhood to old age without any time intervening -- even though I lost a woman who was more a mother to me than my own in 1979, and my stepfather in 1990; neither had the devastating effect of the two of my thirtieth year.

The grim reaper had never leered at me before, and hasn't since. Thirty was tough.

[*One of the smartest things I ever did in my childhood was to adopt a "superstition" that I would ALWAYS look up words I didn't understand, rather than just try and figure them out from context. This habit has been of inestimable benefit and value to me throughout my life.]

And when I was thirty, I mourned the loss of all the beautiful young women I'd known. It seemed so sad: gone forever those houris of youth. I felt very old, all of a sudden. The following year, I noticed that all of the young women I was seeing WERE those women, reborn, and the whole silly sense of loss dropped away. "Flowers come back eternally," I realized, and chided myself for my pointless sentimentality.

After that, forty was fairly easy, a natural passage, and fifty hasn't been all that hard. I paid off a lot of my "Midlife Crisis" when I was younger, so those issues are already resolved. The number of my friends from my fourteen years in Hollywood who are now dead numbers in the dozens, perhaps as many as fifty. The memento mori wakeup call happened a long time ago. I've been intimately familiar with my mortality for awhile now.

They say "gracefully give up the things of youth," and I don't seem to have a problem with that. There's nothing I mourn, although I have regrets. But it is also said, that, finally, you regret what you didn't do far more than what you DID do, and I can vouchsafe that I have few regrets in that regard: the things that I didn't do are almost all things that I had and have absolutely no interest in. The world is vast, and we pick and choose our experiences. I'm satisfied with my choices.

I would have liked to have learned how to fly an airplane.

I'm happy that I've filled the slots in the bric-a-brac wallbox of my life with fabulous and fabulist objects. As I dive into the well of my life, the water is clear, sparkling and sweet. That's something, I guess.

The only problem is that my life is a mystery novel, and this is chapter number fifty, in which the storyline ought to be well-established, and the characters clearly delineated. The astute reader ought to even be able to catch hints and foreshadowings of the denouement. Unfortunately, the book of my life seems to be poorly written, or obscurely so (I always avoid, as a literary critic these past thirty years, judging a book until I've finished reading it, which parallels, I suppose, the ancient Greek proverb, "count no man happy until he dies."), and I have to say that, were I to review it at this point, I'd have to give it a poor recommendation.

There have been the too-amazing coincidences, the sudden reversals of fortune, the hair-breadth escapes, the whirlwind romances and the sudden epiphanies, of course, but it's had a poor literary quality. There has been no coherence in the narrative line, only endless pulp tricks and gimmicks, seemingly more for effect than to advance the narrative in any manner. It seems like hackwork, to be perfectly honest. A sensationalized potboiler, perhaps, but not a particularly thoughtful or literary sort of biograph.

At fifty, I should be about halfway through the book.

So, I'd admonish the Author to start introducing some single strong thread within the narrative; at present, it is simply a collection of seemingly-unrelated anecdotes. Where is the arc of the tale? Still, it certainly hasn't been lacking in breadth and scope. I will tell you one scene that still stays with me, that is, perhaps, the metaphor for the whole strange trip so far.

Once upon a time in 1985, I was an extra for some quick Christmas cash for a Sylvester Stallone film "Cobra." Since extras have no idea what the story actually is, I only knew that we spent a couple of days in a soon-to-be-demolished 1930s luxury apartment building in Long Beach, California, banging axes over our heads around an empty basement swimming pool, and riding motorcycles towards cameras.

And my friend Dave Schow and I went to see "Cobra" at the Chinese Theater during its premiere run, at a time when nobody would be there (so we didn't have to wait in any lines). We needn't have worried. There never WERE any lines for "Cobra." But it was interesting to see it in my favorite movie theater in the whole wide world, Manns (formerly Grauman's) Chinese Theater.

And sitting the REAL Chinese Theater (not the phony, plastic II, III and whatever else they've added), I watched the terrible, awful "Cobra" and had plenty of time to watch for "me" being in the movie.

Then, sure as hell, I was there, on the screen, forty feet tall in Mann's Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard, in Hollywood, California.

I was looking at the back of my own head, in closeup.

And suddenly I was trapped in the Rene Magritte painting "Not To Be Reproduced," wherein we see the back of a man who is standing in front of a mirror, which is reflecting his back, repeating the view that we see. A cinematic ant fossilized in celluloid amber.

That's my life. Looking at the back of my own head in a movie theater. My front was never seen in the movie that I've ever been able to divine.

Happy birthday to me.
Happy birthday to me.
I'm evolved from a monkey
and never had V.D.
At fifty, life and I are at deuce. It hasn't beaten me, and I haven't beaten it. But the match IS getting a bit tense.

Oh, and a note on the illustration that follows. I'm not a big Bob Dylan fan. I appreciate him, but he's low on my listening priority list in a limited listening time. But there's always one line in "Hard Rain" that's stuck with me as a sacred charge:

"But I'll know my song well, before I start singing."

That's always been my journalistic dictum. Unfortunately, my life is a tune that I'm often unfamiliar with, so I'd better shut up now.


"You are never too old to be what you might have been."
-- George Eliot

Happy Birthday to Me

Monday, December 05, 2005

Just goes to show how unpredictable reality actually is. At 6:48 AM I was having a morning cigarette in the freezing smoking area on the back porch, and reveling in the knowledge that I wasn't writing anything today. The hiatus was recharging the batteries, and not having to come up with anything was a blessing. Ah, blessed peace!

Just goes to show.

And then, as I listened to former state senator Teeny Corcoran holding forth on the KOPT "Breakfast with Nancy" show, I began to hear disturbing things that, increasingly, seemed directed personally at me -- certainly I am probably the only commentator on KOPT who voted against the West Eugene Parkway, and yet had grave difficulties with the fact that the City Council decided to dump "WEP" even though the issue had been voted in the affirmative twice.

Caller "Joshua" even went so far as to charactize those who voted against WEP and yet criticized the Council's decision to vacate that vote as "progressives" who are the reason that Democrats continue to lose elections.

Evidently I dither and cannot take any definite positions. At least, that was the impression that all parties seemed to give. Mea culpa. A waffler I.

But I have to wonder. The rationalizations for overturning the WEP vote strike me as essentially the same as the Republican rationalizations given for stealing the election in Florida in 2000. Even though it has been established as a fact that Gore won under any scenario except the one imposed by the corrupt Supreme Court of the United States of America, you merely need scratch a Republican to hear the whole litany of "reasons" why Bush actually won, and what whiners we people who actually believe in legitimate elections are.

And again, in the Diebold/electronic voting scandals that continue to hover over Ohio and their 2004 and 2005 elections.

I consider the issue of delegitimizing elections as the single greatest threat to our system of government that exists today. Corrupt voting practices and campaign financing are the knife at the throat of Lady Liberty, so please excuse me if I don't find it any more palatable for Democrats to flip elections than for Republicans. Or, in this case "progressive" Eugene voters to flip an election that favored "pro-development" Eugene voters.

I have not yet set forth any evidence, and yet the subtle and distinctive aroma of bullshit and prevarication already wafts through the central-air of the mind.

Now, you've got to understand that I've never discussed the merits of WEP. I'm sort of six of one, half-dozen of t'other about it. But I voted against it. That's true.

The problem is that people can't separate their passions from their willingness to do ANYTHING to get the outcome they desire. And that's where we all lose. I've tried to keep my argument to the fact that here in Oregon, overturning elections is a venerable tradition.

We've turned down sales tax NINE times. Each time, the margin gets higher, but the pro-sales-tax people regroup and attack yet again. When we passed the "Death with Dignity" law, the hard-core right, and the Catholic church fought tooth and nail to get the legislature to set it aside ... and we had to RE-vote it, this time with "No" meaning "yes" and "Yes" meaning "no." We STILL passed it, and, by a larger margin.

When Bill Morrisette moved from the State House to the State Senate, a convention of PCP's was properly held in Springfield, and the Democrats chose three candidates, none of which was the wife of Senator Lee Beyer, whose resignation to take a cushy job on the state utility commission caused Morrisette to move up in the first place.

When Terry Beyer was specifically kept OFF the short list of three candidates from which the County Commissioners choose the next representative -- the method of choice for getting into the legislature, if you look at the history of Lane County -- the Commissioners made blustery pronouncements of corruption and "something wrong" with the nominating convention, and used a little-known codicil in state law to pass the choice on to the Governor, John Kitzhaber of South Eugene High School.

Commissioner Bill Dwyer (whose senate seat Lee Beyer had moved into) famously snorted that the Democrats had engaged "in politics!" as if "politics" were, inandofitself evil, and as if it were surprising that Democratic precinct persons would NOT act politically. They had made their choice known: they pointedly DID not want Terry Beyer to be their next state rep.

But this was not an acceptable outcome, and the (lawful) election was set aside.

The then-and-perhaps-future Governor interviewed the three candidates, then interviewed Terry Beyer, and the wife of the man he'd just appointed to a cushy job on the state utility board was now a state representative, "inheriting" his old seat.

Ironically, one of the movers and shakers behind the scenes was then-Senator Tony Corcoran, who did not represent any area overlapping Senator Dwyer/Beyer/Morrisette's Springfield district.

Or that whatchamawhoozit that they wanted a name for when the city reversed itself on an ill-advised 1980s experiment with a downtown mall, and returned Broadway to being a central thoroughfare. When the vote was taken (a voluntary vote), one candidate was the clear winner. The City Council didn't like the choice, and chose something else.

I don't remember the actual name, but I seem to recall that "The Center of the Universe" was the winner.

Florida and Ohio I remember. I also remember wearing an Orange Ribbon "Remember Florida" button when Ohio happened.

The point is that EVERY time you delegitimize an election, you delegitimize governance. And if you have a society in which no decisions are ever allowed to be made at the ballot box, then eventually, those decisions will be made at the barrel of a gun.

The fundamental basis of any democracy is that you hold an election -- sometimes a simple majority, and sometimes with a super-majority -- and then you ABIDE by the decision, whether you like it or not. Whether you are in a position of power or not.

But rather than face this simple objection, the "angels" of the left proved themselves no less adept in the art of bait and switch, distract and change the subject than their supposedly "evil" Republican counterparts.

I gots news for youse, kiddies: It ain't acceptable by EITHER party, or any others, or none at all, for that matter.

I'm gonna give you live, actual, HOT transcripts in a minute, but first, I have to tell you the story of one of my two greatest heroes, a man whose name I do not know, and whose language I barely speak:

A certain Roman general, having recently subjugated a territory under Roman rule, set up the legal administration of the conquered people. The highly effective Roman practice was to post a series of laws, all of which were punishable by death. It was a typically brutal Roman regime, but, as I said, it was highly effective.

And the first person to break the law was the general's son. This put him in a rough spot. No one would have blamed him, or questioned him had he pardoned his son. But the Roman commitment to law and the rule of law would have been seen as hypocrisy by the people newly under Roman law. The entire population looked to see whether the Romans were, as Leonidas and the Spartans at Thermopylae, obedient to their own laws.

This was no small matter. The entire peace of the new territory, and the administration of law hung in the balance, and like some secular Abraham, the Roman general was being asked to sacrifice his son in the name of his faith in the law. Worse, he HAD the power to pardon, so it had to be one of the most difficult ETHICAL decisions ever handed a man. Think about it: your own son. You can pardon him, or put him to death, and in neither case will anyone say a word. It is utterly in your hands. What do you do?

The general carried out the sentence of law, and I cannot imagine that he was happy about it. But there was a brutal understanding of what a commitment to law requires, and he did the right thing.

The right thing is to honor the results of elections, although I don't expect anyone, myself included, to show the fidelity to duty of that forgotten Roman.

(My other great hero -- just to show how utterly bizarre my take on citizenship is -- was Republican Senator Edmund G. Ross of Kansas, who voted to acquit a man he personally despised, knowing in advance that it would destroy his own career and possibly his business to do so. Democratic President Andrew Johnson was not, as I recall, given to any demonstrations of gratitude for the Senator's sacrifice, but that was never the point: Ross returned in disgrace to Kansas and was, as he'd feared, utterly ostracized, both politically and socially. He could not work. Some years later, he was appointed Territorial Governor of New Mexico, and the sole memorial to the "man who saved the presidency" is an elementary school on the North side of Albuquerque. See John F. Kennedy's PROFILES IN COURAGE for further details.)

To me, "moral courage" is the highest form of courage, and the form most rarely seen. It is generally easy to "go with the flow" and do something you know is wrong, knowing that nearly everyone (except your conscience) will have no problem with your silence (and assent).

Or, to put it more succinctly than I can, a regular correspondent of this column, who also listens to the radio show wrote me this:
I, too, voted against WEP, but bemoaned the setting-aside of the "will of the people", deluded though I thought it to be (I didn't go on record, though; you can quote me if you like). My reasoning--other than the fact that this flies in the face of participatory democracy--was that if "we" didn't come out against these kind of actions, then on those occasions when "we" do get our way, only to subsequently be ignored or reversed, "we" won't be able to take the moral high ground as convincingly.
Well said.

Here's the annotated transcript:
NANCY STAPP: There are some people who are frustrated -- maybe even angry -- that the Mayor and David Piercy ...

T. CORCORAN: David Kelly

STAPP: David Kelly -- I'm sorry -- and, and Kitty Piercy uh were the diss .. withdrew their support for the .. were the representatives for the City of Eugene on this uh transportation committee ..

CORCORAN: Right. This Metro plan. Yeah.

STAPP: Metro plan. And um, some people have been unhappy with that. They felt like they voted on it and they didn't want somebody stepping in and changing their vote.

CORCORAN: Well, you know, I don't know enough about the details of the two votes, and and clearly that would be an issue that would be of concern. However I WOULD also say that, you know, the West Eugene project is not something that I'm real familiar with, but people that are familiar with it that I know and respect have questioned the passage of that from the git-go.
NOTE: He doesn't know, but he's going to hold forth anyway? And what does he MEAN that he doesn't have enough details on the two elections? If he had other details, he could easily justify overTURNING the two elections? That it would be OK? No. The classical dodge of ALL the "losing" side is that they would like to RE-debate the issue.

Fine. Except that elections are held to END such debates. If you're going to overturn elections because you don't like the outcome, no election ever held would be authoritative. Representative democracy DEPENDS on the unwritten presumption that we agree BEFORE the election to abide by its results -- which has been my point all along. But here, they are going to IGNORE this fundamental breach of trust to focus on the minutiae of an issue that Corcoran already doesn't "know enough about." And what the hell does "clearly that would be an issue that would be of concern" mean, save that it is doublespeak, pure and simple.

The ISSUE is NOT the issues of the election, but the election itself. Let's see if THAT is addressed. The transcript continues:
CORCORAN: Um, a good friend of mine told me just recently, who pays attention to transportation issues, that it's not going, uh, building that parkway is not going to alleviate the um, um all the jam on on West Eleventh and in fact when the voters did vote for this twenty years ago, uh, nobody in Eugene was talking about a bus rapid transit, for instance going down the middle of Eleventh, uh, and I don't think people were talking that much about nodal communities at the time or about the ...
NOTE: The issue of overturning the election, and the anger of many voters just disappeared. We're RE-debating the issue, and Corcoran masterfully IGNORES the 2001 election to talk about the election twenty years earlier. This is the common tactic to cast both elections into disrepute, even though, as my friend Mac points out, people weren't parsing every jot and tittle: they were voting FOR or AGAINST a West Eugene Parkway. The ISSUE of what happened to those votes is conveniently ignored. Compare this to the Republican response to the phony election results in Florida in 2000. Either we stand for principle, or else we accept LACK of principle by BOTH parties (or, in this case, the "Yes" and "No" voters on the issue). The RESULTS of the election are discarded in favor of general griping about the ISSUES of an election that Corcoran doesn't, by his own admission, "know enough about the details of the two votes." Compare Corcoran's rhetorical flight of fancy with this quote: "This is a film that doesn't require us to actually view it to know that it's filled with factual inaccuracies." -- White House Spokesman Dan Bartlett on "Fahrenheit 9/11" We continue as the host cuts Corcoran off:
STAPP: Wetlands! The issue of wetlands has changed considerably. Listen, I have some empathy about this. I have have been following it coming in late in the middle of this story and trying to get answers for BOTH sides of this issue.
NOTE: Again, alas, the issue of whether we honor elections or not has vanished into the ether. When she refers to "both sides of this issue," she is talking about re-debating the question that the voters have answered. Twice. The ACTUAL "both sides of the issue" revolves SOLELY around the question: do we accept the results of the VOTE on the issue. NOT, pointedly, what the SIDES of that vote were. (And never is it acknowledged that these would be the same people screaming the loudest, had the vote gone the OTHER way, and a different City Council thrown out THOSE results.) The "debate" has become specious, no matter how factual the issues might be. But listen:
CORCORAN: Yah. Wetland mitigation is uh, a very interesting game in and of itself. I mean I watched that a lot in the legislature and, you know, wetlands are wetlands, and I don't quite buy the fact that you can mitigate uh one damage to one set of wetlands by creating another set of wetlands somewhere else. Um, I'm just not convinced that when we play you know that kind of biological god that that we're really successful at it, um ...
[...] discussion of wetlands follows, even though we began with WHY were the two votes ignored and/or overturned. I skip ahead.
STAPP: Well, the mailbag, I just wanted to get to that. Terry Robinson wrote me this week, said "I'm getting very frustrated with the way the Mayor [Kitty Piercy] is getting ripped for her vote on the parkway project. I'm not talking about people who voted for the project and are critical of her vote. I'm talking about people who claim to be against the project but think she should have just adhered to her vote. Or their vote. Uh, if our city council is just there to carry out the will of the majority votes, why do we need them at all?"
NOTE: Guess who she's talking about? And consider the absurdity of this argument: Evidently, if the City Council wants to overturn an advisory vote that THEY THEMSELVES put on the ballot, they should do this because we elected them, and if we don't give in to their "superior" wisdom, we must dissolve representative government, and vote on ALL bills, laws, ordinances, etcetera that would normally be handled by any representative. Not only is this impossible, but it reveals a fundamental lack of understanding of the electoral and representative process, begs the question, and presents an impossibility as a viable alternative. (We would spend our entire lives just voting.) But be of good cheer, this "logical" point is about to be elucidated in spades.
STAPP(cont'd): "I know that if I was thinking of running for a position but knew that I was handcuffed by a previous vote I would wonder why I should even bother." It goes on but I mean this person is saying look: they did the right thing. It is echoed in a letter I actually received from the mayor, because as I mentioned a caller last week just really um really was quite uh -- some might even argue -- I think it's rude to hang up on somebody whenever that happens, but he was he was saying, "look, you you you disrespected my wishes; I'm never voting for you again." Um, she wrote me back and had some time to think about it and said, "While as a voter I want my vote to translate into action, I also understand that it is the responsibility of those we elect to keep their eyes on how circumstances and conditions change, and to vote on my behalf on ways they think best address the issue at hand. That is representative government. And that is the type of government we have."
NOTE: This is slyly specious. When the City Council puts an issue on the ballot, the people have spoken. When the new Mayor or City Council come on board, and overturn that vote, that is NOT representative government. The whole morass is framed in a false either/or manner. In some cases, her assertion is correct. But it is not ALWAYS correct, and it can be argued, it certainly ISN'T correct in this case. But then, like Corcoran, Piercy is a former legislator (Oregon House Democratic Minority Leader), and the legislature here has been teaching these folks some very bad notions about the "will of the people." Here, she conveniently argues that Mayor Piercy's superior judgment trumps two specific votes held seventeen years apart. It continues:
STAPP(cont'd): "In the circumstances and infor... uh. In the legislature and on the city council is our responsibility to readdress issues as circumstances and information change." This is written by the Mayor, Mayor Kitty Piercy, wrote me this. "That is what we are elected for. That is in no way disrespecting the voter." In her words, she says "it is indeed living up to the responsibility the voter gives the folks they vote for."
NOTE: There is something rather chilling in getting a lecture by the mayor in how well she has fulfilled her responsibility to the voters by overturning their votes. And THAT is how a bill becomes law, kiddies: We honored the voters' votes by overturning them, based on our responsibility to the voters who voted us in to vote against their votes. Or, we're RESPONSIBLE, not like you sleazy voters who disagree with us. There is a hint here of the autocrat, of the Brahmin who scrupulously avoids the untouchables. And, while I'm on the subject of having voted against the parkway but being concerned over the overturning of the vote, I also WHOLEHEARTEDLY supported the library each time (I think it was five) that it came up, and LOST (the last time by a mere twelve votes). The then-city council decided that they had found the money in urban renewal monies, and built it ANYWAY. This disturbed me EXCESSIVELY. Then, they forced us to vote on money to staff it, which, slam dunk, passed. Imagine the same arguments being made in THAT case: You said "no" five times, but circumstances CHANGED. You were IDIOTS. You were wrong, and so we went ahead and built it ANYWAY. It may be the form of government that we have, but it is CERTAINLY not representative democracy. Rather, it is "YOU vote until WE win" -- which, by rights, OUGHT to be the Oregon state motto, because this usurpation is ubiquitous. It continues:
STAPP(cont'd): "And when the public votes for someone they know holds a particular perspective, and who has always been transparent and clear about the direction she will take if elected, then the public has the right to expect that person will fulfill these promises to the best of his or her ability: that is, indeed, living up the responsibility of the job."
NOTE: This is slyly self-congratulatory. Odd how the "who has always been transparent" (Kitty Piercy, the politician) suddenly shifts to the universal "his or her ability" (the universal, implicitly "good" public servant), and the ladling on of "responsibility" and implicit goodness, while making the astonishing argument: YOU voted for me to overturn your vote on the parkway. This is the political equivalent of the old rape argument that she was asking for it because she was wearing slutty clothes. They are equally dishonest arguments, and in precisely the same manner. The voters were ASKING for their vote(s) to be overturned because they voted for me, and I was against it. I leave it to the reader to come up with their own delightful analogous arguments in this same vein. It is specious, it is fallacious, it is burble. But at LEAST the issue of overturning two legitimate votes is addressed, although nobody seems to "get" that voters ARE angry. And not just at me!
STAPP(cont'd): And lastly, she says, "I think conditions, uh information and circumstances regarding the parkway HAVE changed and thus, it is my responsibility to address that. And when I ran for office, I said that I would look for an alternative that would address the traffic issues, uh, connectivity and protect the wes ... wetlands. I was elected and I'm doing exactly what I said I would do, and that, by the way, is respecting the voter. This is an inflammatory issue and that's why I am so committed to finding a better resolution. It is my job." According to Kitty Piercy.
NOTE: Got that? In essence: "I am going against the votes because I am doing my job and respecting YOU, the voter. That's my job." This is the sort of high-falutin' doublespeak that we rage against the Bushies for, but if it's a "progressive" mayor, then we're idiots for wondering what has happened to our vote. Right? It's a hell of a meander to come up with "I am disrespecting your vote in order to respect your vote." But that's what we've just witnessed. Oh, and it's an "inflammatory issue" which begs the question of, then why were we asked to DECIDE that issue? And what became of the vote? Well, things changed. Piercy has argued elsewhere that she UNDERSTOOD that what the voters REALLY wanted and is working to get them WHAT THEY REALLY WANT, traffic mitigation. It is comforting to know that the Mayor is psychic. Saves a lot of time on polling, I guess. (I fear that she would have pardoned the offending son, and put the complainers to death, had she been a Roman.) Now, it gets even better:
CORCORAN: Well, Kitty's right. I mean the the ... I guess that was the point I was alluding to earlier. I mean I I don't know what the conditions were around the original votes, but the voters have the opportunity when Kitty stands for election again, if they're that unhappy they can just vote in somebody else an, and on the other hand, you know people that want to pass an initiative to get the project movin' again can go circulate a petition, get it on the ballot. The, uh fact of the matter is the city council here for years was -- and the mayor uh, ran for the dev .. ran for the purpose of the development class in this city. And we've had horrendous decisions made because of that -- everything from, you know Sacred Heart [hospital], to this kind of, silly relocation of MacKenzie/Willamette [hospital]. Um, the fact of the matter is we finally have a mayor that's willing to stand up to some of these people, and they're coming after her.
NOTE: Astonishing. Rush Limbaugh or Bill O'Reilly would be proud of this astonishing blizzard of bullshit. Anyone who voted for the project was a member of the (implicitly evil) "development class"; "we" is astonishing in that Corcoran lives in Cottage Grove -- 18 miles SOUTH of Eugene, and "we've got a mayor who will stand up" to the "evil" class of people -- e.g. people who voted FOR the parkway. This is smear, duck, jab and prevaricate with the best of them. And at the end, Piercy is far from a usurper of the vote, but, rather, she is a CHAMPION of the little guy against evil, even if it means overturning the little guy's "evil" vote.

And we WONDER at the swill we're being force-fed by the Bush Administration. Here in Eugene, Oregon, we need look no further than our own local yokels to find the politics of obfuscation and smear working overtime to turn day into night, good into evil, and, best of all, the "sacred" vote that put a politician into office a mandate to overturn the SELFSAME voters who the politician disagreed with.

But, and I hope you caught it, the most stunning lie of all is on display here for all to see: in answering the question of "What happened to our vote?" and providing a zillion specious canards to justify it, the final justification is that we can VOTE the politician out of office (four years hence) AND/OR put the overturned ballot question back on the ballot! Is that begging the question or what? If my first vote didn't count, and my second vote didn't count, then what POSSIBLE chance do I have to believe that my third vote would count? This is Lucy conning Charlie Brown, once more, to kick the football.

Let's all take a moment to contemplate what it feels like to kick a ball that's yanked out of the way so that you land on your back, probably knocking the wind out of you.

Thank GhOD these are the "good guys." I'm going to skip over Corcoran's accusations of real estate speculators getting rich from grabbing land along the proposed roadway (concluding with the astonishing: "But I think this West Eugene Parkway thing has been talked to death.") and move forward to the call from Joshua:
STAPP: Let's take a call. Joshua is on the line. Our number is 683-1600. Josh, good morning.

JOSHUA: Morning, Nancy. I just wanted to say, you know, it does REALLY disturb me to hear the folks that are that are the progressives that ARE against the West Eugene Parkway, but that are scolding OUR progressive elected officials for using the system, and TAKING A STAND for the progressive community, just like the conservative majority did when they were there. We finally have some people in office that can make a difference, that can make good, solid decisions for the progressive community ...

STAPP: Uh-huh.

JOSHUA: ... and they've taken a stand, and we have people who are AGAINST the parkway making an issue of it. This is one of the reasons why progressives continue to be the minority party.

CORCORAN: Right on.

STAPP: Thank you for your call, and and you echoed some other mail that we received, too. I think that getting an explanation, it's it's helped ME and it might seem redundant even for the mayor or others -- I mean we keep asking this question -- but but it is something that's come up, and I think understanding the backstory for me uh for one thing, that voters tell me -- and I wasn't here, so I'm listening to you -- you tell me you were told by folks like Jim Torrey who was the mayor then, that the money was there for this project, uh on let's just talk about this project on a real fiscal plane. Uh, the money was not, apparently; that was not true. That it was FAR short of what you were, apparently, told ....
ENDNOTE: OK, 'nuff said. The fundamental question has been chivvied, distorted and harassed beyond all recognition, and now we're back to re-arguing a situation that, in the words of Corcoran: "this West Eugene Parkway thing has been talked to death."

Note the final fallacy, the "appeal to authority" that other letters had said the same thing as Joshua. Well, so what. If the majority of letters in 1492 said that the Earth was flat, it would not make it so.

But, at least we now know that I am the reason progressives can't win. Evidently you are either TOTALLY for or TOTALLY against a thing, and my upset that the vote was set aside, literally, TIME and TIME again, is merely my betrayal of the "progressive" party. (That and my dastardly sense of ethics.)

But think for a moment what is at stake here: When the tables are turned, I can scream just as loudly without becoming a monumental, self-centered, MY WAY! hypocrite.

Well, guess what, Joshua? I'm an INDEPENDENT. And mendacity, prevarication, and using backdoor rules to get your way is as distasteful in the City Hall of Eugene, Oregon as it is in the halls of Congress. I don't "owe" your "party" a thing. Not a thing. If they want my vote, they'll have to earn it.

Virtue is not the exclusive province of any one party or ideology. And neither is the use of low tactics and lying to get your way. They are, in fact, far too commonplace.

I know that this has been a long blog. But I hope that you understand WHY I feel that democracy is in trouble when votes are merely inconveniences to be reversed if they don't go your way. I have great respect for Kitty Piercy, and even count her as a friend, but this argument is self-serving and specious, and is only honorable by comparison to the arguments made by Joshua, and, yes, non-Eugenian Tony Corcoran.

It isn't just in Washington, D.C. This "my way or the highway" mentality is corroding the soul of our system of government, from top to bottom, from Republican to Democrat, and, yes, from Conservative to "Progressive."

But then, we'll undoubtedly have another election to "decide" this burning issue. Don't expect me to vote in it, though. That Lucy football trick only works on me so many times, unlike Charlie Brown. Good Grief.

Let me leave you with a little Sufi joke about the "wise fool" the Mulla Nasruddin (rewritten from the version at http://tpo.net/humor/Ultra/life/lifed.e.html):


One day, a yokel came to Nasruddin and said, "Your bull gored my cow. Am I entitled to any compensation?"

"No," said the Mulla at once, "the bull is not responsible for its actions."

"Sorry," said the crafty villager, "I put it the wrong way around. I meant that it was your cow which was gored by my bull. But the situation is the same."

"Oh, no," said Nasruddin, "I think I had better look in my law books to see whether there is a precedent for this."
Guess it depends on whose vote is being gored.

hart williams
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