Wednesday, February 22, 2012
What a joke
The five biggest banks got $200 billion in bailouts, made $46 billion in profits and are paying $5 billion in cash to settle all claims.
My sister lost 20 acres because the bank wouldn't refinance it. What good is $1,500 going to do? What a joke.
One more time the banks win, and the consumer loses. We should all be very upset with this "deal"!
side of love
As a local religious leader and a lesbian (though I prefer the term queer) in a committed relationship, I was thrilled this week that the Washington State Legislature approved a bill to legalize same-sex marriage and Gov. Gregoire has pledged to sign the bill on Monday; meanwhile, a three-judge panel of the federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Proposition 8, which prohibited same-sex marriages in California, is unconstitutional.
Both moves in our neighboring states affirm the validity of relationships based in commitment and love. I look forward to my own marriage ceremony in a Portland church this spring, and I look forward to the day when LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) Oregonians do not face discrimination in marriage, employment or on the streets.
My Unitarian Universalist faith teaches me that all people and families have inherent worth and dignity. As some faith communities join efforts for a repeal of the Washington measure, I call on all people of faith and people of good will to stand on the side of love in the coming months, and support the rights of the LGBTQ community on both sides of the Columbia.
Often for Valentine's Day, we make valentines for those we love. This year, I want to write a valentine for those who inspire and support me. This year, I have been supported and inspired by the members of Gorge Home Learners. This home-school group is chock-full of dedicated, creative, patient parents who believe the world of their children and walk their walk with dignity, humility and strength.
In times of self-doubt and frustration, they have risen to show me that I am not alone, and applauded when things went great. They face each new day with an open mind, and watch their children blossom before their eyes; and are willing to change direction when they don't.
I am in awe of these home-school parents and children each week as we meet and share ups and downs, and laughter, and work through issues together.
Our children are our future, and it's nice to walk the path in the company of such beautiful spirits. Thank you, and heart you too.
Relay well under way
American Cancer Society Relay for Life of the Columbia Gorge 2012 is under way. Fourteen teams have already formed and 46 participants have registered.
To start or join a team, visit our website: http://www.relayfor-life.org/columbiagorgeor. Registration takes about 7-10 minutes.
For the 2011 Relay, we featured Columbia Gorge resident cancer survivors in our media content. This year we are looking to expand our features to include caregivers along with services that are available in the Gorge.
If you have a message you would like to share and/or be a volunteer for our media releases, please contact me at our monthly meetings held the second Tuesday of each month at the Hood River Valley Christian Church, 975 Indian Creek Road, Hood River; phone message: 541-386-2232 or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Relay for Life media/publicity chair
Take bikes seriously
Today, buoyed by the sun and warmth, I got on my bike for a ride around our beautiful Hood River valley. About halfway through my ride, while sprinting down Belmont, I watched a car pull past the stop sign on Frankton, hesitate as if to gauge my distance, then continue to pull out in front of me. What followed is now lost in the mist of shock.
I slammed on my brakes to avoid making a helmet-shaped dent in a car, skidded, felt my back wheel lose the road, and suddenly found myself staring up at a bumper, legs tangled up in my broken bike.
Luckily, I'm banged-up but OK, and my bike can be repaired, so things went well, considering. Still, it strikes me that this was a completely avoidable accident.
Despite screaming in rage and frustration at the time, I hold nothing personally against the person who decided that there was plenty of time to leave that stop sign with me so close. But I have to question: Why? Why did the person pull out in front of me when I was going that fast, and was that close?
I have to assume that if I had been in a car, and was going that fast, and was that close, they would have remained at the stop sign. Therefore, I make the logical leap that it was because I was on a bicycle that they decided to pull out in front of me.
Bicycles are not toys. All too often we will see a person on a bicycle and assume their speed is "slow" or their intention is "leisurely ride." If we, all of us, assumed bicycle riders to be "moving fast" and "on a vehicle," we would not be so quick to make assumptions about how quickly they can end up in a tangle in front of our car.
As the weather warms, there will be more bikes on the roads. Let's all take a minute to remember that road bikes are not toys, that they are often moving fast - very often as fast as a car.
Let's try to make my fall today the last one of the year. If no one else gets into a car/bike accident all year, I'll consider today's awful experience totally worth it.
Utopia? Not so much
Speaker of the House John Boehner told an audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference that living in the United States would be like living in Utopia if Republican policies were implemented.
He said that in this perfect world run by the Republican Party the following would take place: The deficit would drop. Our entitlement programs (Social Security and Medicare) would be saved. Gas prices would fall. ObamaCare would be repealed and replaced with market-based reforms that protect "the greatest healthcare system in the world." And there would be no boards of bureaucrats telling employers where they can and can't create jobs.
All this would take place, Boehner says, because Washington would operate on Paul Ryan's budget and the Keystone pipeline would be built, which he says, would lower gas prices.
Sounds great until you read the small print.
The Republicans would cut the deficit not by raising taxes (that's a no-no) but by cutting funding for things like education, Medicaid, food stamps and unemployment. Subsidies to big farmers, big corporations and billions for "defense" would continue.
How would they save Social Security and Medicare? By eliminating payroll taxes that support it, and allowing individuals to put aside their own savings. They, of course, are not concerned with workers paying the tax. Their goal is to save corporations from paying their share. And they don't care that many workers don't even earn enough to buy basic necessities, much less health care. And paying for future retirement would only be possible for the wealthy.
In short, under the Republican plan, Social Security and Medicare, as we know it, would no longer exist.
On what does Mr. Boehner base his assertion that ours is the greatest health care system in the world? Many reputable studies show this is far from the case.
And what does he mean by "market-based reforms" that would replace OBamaCare? Since when has the market pursued anything other than profit?
And does he mean that under Republicans there would be no regulations - no czars or boards of bureaucrats - to hamper their pursuit of profits?
And if the dirty Keystone pipe line is allowed, where is the guarantee that gas prices would drop?
Yes, I can see why it would be Utopia for the 1 percent. And to people like Mr. Boehner, the rest of us do not matter.
See 'Private Eyes'
If you didn't yet see "Private Eyes" at CAST Theatre in Hood River, be sure to get there next weekend. It's one of the best shows I've ever seen there. Funny, surprising, mysterious and extremely well-acted and directed. Not to be missed.
Info and tickets at www.columbiaarts.org/theatre/2012/02/PrivateEyes.html
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Oil train car being transported by truck
A damaged rail car from the June 3, 2016 oil train derailment and fire is transported from the crash site via truck on I84. Enlarge