Category Archive 'Oregon'
25 Feb 2012
Principal characters in Portlandia
Mark Hemingway discusses the unbearable television program, the absolutely appalling left coast city that inspired it, and the pathological politics infesting places on the Pacific coast.
Portlandia instantly struck a chord as a Garrison Keillor-type takeoff on the edgy urban set. Instead of idyllic Lake Wobegon, where “all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average,” Portlandia is where “the tattoo ink never runs dry” and “all the hot women wear glasses.” The show is now in its second season and has even spawned a live comedy tour that’s bringing Portland to a venue near you.
But while Portlandia is more acerbic than Prairie Home Companion, it too can come off as a twee, chiaroscuro character study that spends as much time burnishing the city’s reputation for “West Coast urban cool” as it does mocking it. And there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that. I’m just afraid that the real-life absurdities of Portland merit a more cutting critique.
Case in point: One of the most commented-on sketches from the show is a scene from the first episode in which Armisen and Brownstein are sitting in a restaurant. After asking their waitress a series of absurd questions about whether the chicken they are about to eat is local—“the chicken is a heritage breed, woodland raised chicken that’s been fed a diet of sheep’s milk, soy, and hazelnuts. . . . His name was Colin, here are his papers”—the couple ends up leaving the restaurant and driving to the farm to see the environment where the chicken was raised in order to assuage their guilt about eating it.
As a comment on urban America’s foodie culture, the sketch is funny and incisive. But it doesn’t begin to show how insufferable Portland actually is in this regard. Portland’s restaurants are incredibly good, provided you don’t gag on their politics and pretension. It’s common for restaurants to brag about keeping “food miles” to a minimum—a rough calculation on the menu informing you how far all the ingredients have traveled to your plate, as if this were a rational measure of the restaurant’s environmental impact. One Portland ice cream parlor I visited recently was inviting patrons to swing by on Saturday afternoon for a meet and greet with the local producer of its “artisanal finishing salts.”
And in 2010, the Oregonian actually ran a story with the headline “Portland pig cook-off followed by brawl over the provenance of pork.” During a local culinary competition a fistfight broke out because one of the chefs—the horror!—wasn’t using locally sourced pork. The mêlée ended with one of the chefs and the organizer in rough-looking mug shots and the latter in the hospital with a fractured tibia. When it comes to the city’s food obsession, the truth far outstrips Portlandia.
Given the lack of critical attention to the city, I guess it falls to me to state the obvious: Portland is quietly closing in on San Francisco as the American city that has most conspicuously taken leave of its senses.
24 Jun 2010
The National Enquirer discovered, and mainstream media like the New York Times have now picked up the story that Nobel Prize winner, once a hanging chad from the presidency, Albert Gore was accused of sexually attacking a masseuse in Oregon in 2006.
Police did not pursue the case evidently because Gore’s accuser declined to cooperate. References to her attorney handling the matter suggest that a private settlement may have been paid to induce her to withdraw the complaint.
A massage therapist accused former Vice President Al Gore of “unwanted sexual contact” at a hotel in October 2006, but no charges were filed because of lack of evidence, law officials said Wednesday.
The latest on President Obama, his administration and other news from Washington and around the nation. Join the discussion.
A lawyer for the woman contacted the police in late 2006, said the Multnomah County district attorney, Michael D. Schrunk. Mr. Schrunk said the woman, who has not been identified, had refused to be interviewed and did not want the investigation to proceed.
But in January 2009, she contacted the police and gave a statement in which she said Mr. Gore had tried to have sex with her during an appointment at the Hotel Lucia. The National Enquirer first reported the accusations on Wednesday.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Gore, Kalee Kreider, said he had no comment. Mr. Gore and his wife announced on June 1 that they were separating.
A police report prepared in 2007 said the alleged incident occurred at 2 p.m. on Oct. 24, 2006. Mr. Gore was in Portland to deliver a speech on climate change.
The woman, according to the report, canceled appointments with detectives on Dec. 21 and 26. Her lawyer canceled a Jan. 4 meeting and said the matter would be handled civilly.
17 Jun 2008
Most children growing up in the US memorize the Pledge of Allegiance. But, in one Oregon elementary school, the kids won’t be allowed to recite it at an end of the year assembly.
The principal banned it that day so as not to offend Muslims.
One resident of Portland, Oregon was a little surprised when she received an e-mail from her stepson’s school principal.
The e-mail said that the children would not be reciting the pledge because of its reference to God.
The principal was named Pam Wilson, and all this occurred at the Capitol Hill Elementary School in Portland.
The following is the full e-mail response that parent Briana Reese received from Principal Pam Wilson:
“The Pledge contains the words, ‘under God’ and we have many Muslim families here. So out of respect for the diversity of religious faiths practiced by our school community (parents and families) we decided that this year the students would memorize and sing the Preamble to the Constitution. At the rehearsal on Friday they did it from memory and to a wonderful song. It was very joyful and unique. I think you, and other parents, will really appreciate the creative and new way to open the program.”
19 May 2008
Barack Obama conducted a religious service in honor of himself in an Oregon park at which an estimated 75,000 left coast moonbats worshipped.
The Prophet of Progress spake unto the faithful, saying:
We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times … and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK.
He failed to explain exactly whom we need to ask what we may eat or drive, or what thermostat temperature is permissible at this time, but doubtless, if he is elected, His Obamaness will arrange for federal agencies to consult directly with residents of Sub-Saharan African countries in order to prescribe precisely what Americans may drive, how much they may eat, and the temperatures of their homes.
21 Aug 2007
AP reports, at the victims’ request.
Two 13-year-old boys accused of slapping girls’ bottoms and poking or cupping girls’ breasts at school apologized on Monday as a judge dismissed charges against the two, ending a six-month case that drew national attention. ...
Four girls listed as victims by the prosecutors had asked the judge to drop the charges against Cory Mashburn and Ryan Cornelison.
Yamhill County Judge John Collins did so on Monday, saying it was in the “interest of justice.”
A number of young girls were in the courtroom during the hearing. They included at least some of the four who asked that the charges be dropped, attorneys said.
During the brief hearing, the two boys faced the girls and apologized. ...
The News-Register newspaper of McMinnville reported that a “civil compromise” reached by prosecutors and the defense called for both boys to apologize, to pay each of the four girls $250 and to complete a “boundaries education” program.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys said they could not comment on the newspaper report or release details of the settlement because they are confidential.
Pressure has been building on prosecutors to drop the charges, with critics saying they had blown the matter out of proportion and were overzealous.
The boys, apparently inspired by the movie “Jackass,” were accused in police reports of swatting girls on the bottom in a school corridor, grabbing girls’ breasts on at least two occasions, teaming up to “dry hump” girls, poking girls’ breasts and engaging in what’s known as “party boy” dancing mimicking sexual intercourse.
They were originally charged with felony and misdemeanor sex abuse charges in February. Amid growing public opposition to sending the boys to prison and putting them on a sex offenders’ registry, prosecutors dropped the felony sex abuse charges and added misdemeanor harassment charges, then later dropped all sex abuse charges, leaving only the harassment counts.
The judge dismissed the final charges following negotiations between prosecutors and the defense, and discussions with the four girls about whether they wanted the case dismissed.
Now let’s hope the people out there in Oregon go on to remove that county prosecutor from office and to fire the school officials and cops involved in embarrassing their state, county, and community. Somebody should start a “morons who should never be allowed to hold any office or position of responsibility” list.
29 Jul 2007
Contemporary American society is afflicted with an epidemic of metastatic growth in the self importance of petty officials at a time in which ordinary common sense has taken a vacation from American life.
One noteworthy result, especially common on America’s liberal coasts, has been the expansion of zero tolerance policies to include ordinary childhood behavior.
The Canadian Mark Steyn is deservedly appalled at a case in Oregon.
Do you know Cory Mashburn and Ryan Cornelison?
If you do, don’t approach them. Call 911 and order up a SWAT team. They’re believed to be in the vicinity of McMinnville, Ore., where they’re a clear and present danger to the community. Mashburn and Cornelison were recently charged with five counts of felony sexual abuse, and District Attorney Bradley Berry has pledged to have them registered for life as sex offenders.
Oh, by the way, the defendants are in the seventh grade.
Messrs Mashburn and Cornelison are pupils at Patton Middle School. They were arrested in February after being observed in the vestibule, swatting girls on the butt. Butt-swatting had apparently become a form of greeting at the school – like “a handshake we do,” as one female student put it. On “Slap Butt Fridays,” boys and girls would hail each other with a cheery application of manual friction to the posterior, akin to a Masonic greeting.
Don’t ask me why. ...
So, upon being caught butt-swatting, Mashburn and Cornelison were called to the principal’s office, where they were questioned for several hours by vice principal Steve Tillery and McMinnville Police officer Marshall Roache. At the end of the afternoon, two boys who’d never been in any kind of trouble before were read their Miranda rights and led off in handcuffs to spend five days in juvenile jail.
Tough, but I guess they learned their lesson, right?
Ha! The state of Oregon was only warming up. After a court appearance in shackles and prison garb, the defendants were charged with multiple counts of felony sexual abuse, banned from school and forbidden any contact with their friends. ...
Having had no previous prolonged exposure to the American justice system, I was interested to see whether the techniques used by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald were particular to that case or more widely applied. The Oregon butt psychos make an instructive study. ... once the authorities had decided on their view of the case, other parties were leaned on to fall into line and play the role of “victims.” Of 14 other students interviewed by officer Roache, seven (boys and girls) told him they had engaged in bottom-swatting themselves. Two of the “victims” said they had done it to others. At the initial hearing, a couple of female students spontaneously testified that they’d felt very much pressured to conform during their interviews with the vice principal and the police officer. “Well, when the principal asked me stuff, I kind of felt pressured to answer stuff that I was uncomfortable, and that it hurt, but it really didn’t,” said one girl.
What does hurt? Attracting the attention of the district attorney. The prosecutor’s office reduced the counts from felony sexual assault (with which he’d successfully charged a couple of other middle-school students a year ago) to five misdemeanor counts of sexual abuse and five counts of sexual harassment.
With the boys’ respective parents already in the hole for $10,000 apiece in legal fees, the D.A. used the most powerful weapon in the prosecutor’s armory: Cop a plea, and we’ll make all the pain go away. In this instance, that would mean pleading guilty in return for probation. The terms of probation would prevent Mashburn and Cornelison from contact with younger children, which would mean they couldn’t be left with their younger siblings.
Mashburn and Cornelison do not believe they’ve committed a crime, so they would like to exercise their right to the presumption of innocence – a bedrock principle of the English legal tradition now in great peril from American prosecutorial excess. Instead of letting the state bully them into a grubby, shaming deal, the boys would like it to do what justice systems in civilized societies are required to do: prove the crime. It’s a gamble: Those 10 charges each command a one-year sentence, plus lifelong sex-offender registration.
District Attorney Berry told reporter Susan Goldsmith of the Oregonian that his department “aggressively” pursues sex crimes. “These cases are devastating to children,” he said. “They are life-altering cases.”
No, sir. The only one devastating children’s lives is you. If you “win,” and these “criminals” are convicted, 20, 30 years from now – applying for a job, volunteering for a community program, heading north for a weekend in Vancouver and watching the Customs guard swipe the driver’s license through the computer – there’ll be a blip, something will come up on the screen, and for the umpteenth time two middle-age men will realize they bear a mark that can never be expunged. Because decades ago they patted their pals on the rear in a middle-school corridor.
A world that requires handcuffs and judges and district attorneys for what took place that Friday in February is not just a failed education system but an entire society that’s losing any sense of proportion. Without which, civilized life becomes impossible. So we legalize more and more aspects of life and demand that district attorneys prosecute ever more aggressively what were once routine areas of social interaction.
A society that looses the state to criminalize schoolroom horseplay is guilty not only of punishing children as grown-ups but of the infantilization of the entire citizenry.
18 Jan 2006
When we commented yesterday negatively on the Supreme Court decision in Gonzales, et. al. v. Oregon, we must confess that we had not yet gotten around to reading the actual decision. Nor were we familiar with the specifics of the Oregon law. Its title, the Oregon Death With Dignity Act (ODWDA), had precisely the ring of liberal double-speak to it, and we had leapt (understandably, we would argue) to the conclusion that the act basically encompassed oldsters going to the doctor’s office to be treated in the manner of the veterinarian putting to sleep the family cat. The reality was clearly quite different.
(The Supreme Court decision states:)
The Oregon Death With Dignity Act (ODWDA) exempts from civil or criminal liability state-licensed physicians who, in compliance with ODWDA’s specific safeguards, dispense or prescribe a lethal dose of drugs upon the request of a terminally ill patient.
Since our own position is really that any rational adult ought to be able to buy, and use, any medication or consciousness-altering item he desires without a prescription, it is clear that we failed to recognize initially the curious occurrence of the court’s liberal majority arriving at a perfectly correct decision.
Justice Scalia seems to have suffered from the same knee-jerk reaction we did initially, which was joined by Justices Roberts and Thomas. But Clarence Thomas additionally wrote a separate dissent, commenting sarcastically:
I agree with limiting the applications of the CSA [Controlled Substances Act] in a manner consistent with the principles of federalism and our constitutional structure. Raich, supra, at _ (THOMAS, J., dissenting); cf. Whitman, supra, at 486—487 (THOMAS, J., concurring) (noting constitutional concerns with broad delegations of authority to administrative agencies). But that is now water over the dam. The relevance of such considerations was at its zenith in Raich, when we considered whether the CSA could be applied to the intrastate possession of a controlled substance consistent with the limited federal powers enumerated by the Constitution. Such considerations have little, if any, relevance where, as here, we are merely presented with a question of statutory interpretation, and not the extent of constitutionally permissible federal power. This is particularly true where, as here, we are interpreting broad, straightforward language within a statutory framework that a majority of this Court has concluded is so comprehensive that it necessarily nullifies the States’ “ ‘traditional . . . powers . . . to protect the health, safety, and welfare of their citizens.’ ? Raich, supra, at _, n. 38 (slip op., at 27, n. 38). The Court’s reliance upon the constitutional principles that it rejected in Raich—albeit under the guise of statutory interpretation—is perplexing to say the least. Accordingly, I respectfully dissent.
In other words, Thomas still thinks the Constitution ought to preclude such Federal intrusions, but the since the Court already decided otherwise in Raich, what can he do but dissent from the tortured reasoning used to achieve a different result this time?
I was just telling my wife: I can remember being wrong once before. I think it was in 1954…