It bothers me that Americans, acting on behalf of my country and
therefore on behalf of me, poured water in some people’s faces to try
to convince those people that they were drowning.
It bothers me, but I’m not sure it was a mistake.
My ambivalence stems largely from my inability to indulge in the
fantasy that waterboarding, or any of the other unpleasant
“interrogation techniques” my country has subjected certain people to
over the past several years, happened simply because George W. Bush and
Dick Cheney are dullards and bullies.
Tom McCall almost certainly would rank as the most beloved of Oregon’s 36 governors were a poll taken today.
But I harbor a special affinity for Oswald West.
He is not so well known as the flamboyant and ever-quotable McCall,
who in his most famous pronouncement encouraged people to visit Oregon
but admonished them to not even consider moving here.
I would like to hear a wolf howl from a dark glen in the deep woods rather than from the stereo speakers in my living room.
But I haven’t thought much about how many lambs or beef calves ought to be sacrificed to make this happen.
Nor have I considered who should suffer so that I might enjoy a brief, shivery thrill while sitting beside a campfire.
Listened to Bill O’Reilly give Europe a good verbal whipping two
nights in a row this week. I was at the same time entertained and
dismayed by his treatment of the continent.
I watch at least part of O’Reilly’s program most evenings. In the
main I enjoy the show, even when, as happens perhaps a third of the
time, I disagree with the host.
O’Reilly lambastes liberals often but he is no kept apologist for
the Republican Party. Media pundits sometimes describe O’Reilly as
though he were an ideological clone of Limbaugh, Hannity and Beck, but
I think such comparisons result from shoddy research rather than
piercing political insight.
My wife Lisa is friendly, caring and nurturing.
Except with ticks.
Suffice it to say that if Lisa saw a tick drowning (I’m presuming
here, as my knowledge of ticks is scant, that ticks can be drowned) she
wouldn’t throw it a life preserver.
Well, now that I think about it she might throw a life preserver.
When I think about the income taxes I pay — and I do so as infrequently
as I can manage — I feel a peculiar mixture of patriotism and regret.
On the one hand I know I’m contributing, albeit in a meager way, to the
most generous country on earth. I know the modest fruits of my labor
help to heal and feed kids who are sick and starving in some wretched
On the other hand I’m also paying for manure odor studies and Barney Frank’s salary.
Ponder that for a few seconds and see if you can still smile.
Still and all, my disdain for certain of the federal government’s
spending habits is not so great that I think it’s appropriate to
compare Barack Obama to King George III.
The closing of a school is, with rare exceptions, a sad occasion.
This is due, it seems to me, to the unique nature of schools.
No building seems as empty as a shuttered school, for the simple
reason that no building seems so full as one occupied by children who
are learning to add fractions and to subtract superfluous adverbs from
Playgrounds look particularly forlorn when deprived of kids. The
sight of a ball field with basepaths overrun by dandelions rather than
sneakers is a dismal one indeed.
This winter has gotten a reputation, around here anyway, as
something of a skinflint. This allegation, whatever its meteorological
merits, sounds like the cruelest sort of lie when you’re stuck up to
your armpits in a drift.
Nor does it add to the tale’s plausibility that your forearms have
to endure their frigid submersion with nothing but skin for protection.
And skin gives up a lot, insulation-wise, to wool.
Strange to see ponderosa logs decked again at the Ellingson mill site.
Strange in a good way.
These trees, it’s true, aren’t destined for quite so noble a purpose
as were the pines they used to stack on the property. Some of those
logs were as thick through the middle as a bridge abutment.
The comparatively slender trees that trucks deliver to the mill
these days, rather than becoming permanent parts of someone’s home will
temporarily warm a room on a bitter day.
Politicians in Washington, D.C., have been saying some scary things of late.
They often do this, of course.
Yet recent rhetoric seems to me especially troubling because one of the words in fashion is “fairness.”
Besides, say, “taxes,” I can’t think of any word I would less like to hear from the larynxes of lawmakers.
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