I find it troubling. Two fairly lengthy letters to the editor last week (Keizertimes, Aug. 29) on political cartoons bashed the publisher for his poor taste and radical Saul Alinsky leanings in printing said cartoons. I don’t understand the fuss. Political cartoons, by nature, are satirical and often imply philosophical questions on social, moral, ethical and political issues. More often than not, they cut right to the heart of the issue. They are nothing more than an opinion of the creator. You can either agree or disagree with their message. Yet, we want to chastise a publisher for doing his job.
One cartoon of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Aug. 8) showed him as a fat frumpy male patting the head of a female child (representing Gaza) telling her, “To prove we’re one of the good guys we have to keep killing you.” This may well be a little over the top but what the cartoon said to me was Israel often acts like the neighborhood bully and the notion that they are one of the “good guys” could well be in question.” Who are the good guys in the Middle East? I don’t know that there are any real “good guys.” Regardless of how you feel about the Israeli-Palestinian issue, why is that offensive?
The second cartoon appeared on Aug. 22, showing an overweight, out-of-shape police officer with a smoking gun saying to an apparently shot individual at his feet, “He was black, that’s reason enough.” For this the publisher gets labeled a race baiter. The message of that cartoon is very poignant and piercing. Racism is alive and well in 21st century America and secondly, so is profiling. If you don’t believe that, then you are deluding yourself. In a recent article in The Economist, the author provided a table of the following information– Deaths by policemen in 2013: USA -409; Germany-3; Great Britain-0; Japan-0. Now I don’t think for a minute that we should conclude that the 409 deaths in the United States were all the result of profiling, if any. Neither do we know how many blacks were shot by white police officers or vice versa; nor how many shootings were regarding an unarmed victim. Yet I find that statistic staggering—that’s over one death a day! I do not envy the work of our police officers. They get into precarious situations and have to make a split second decision on action. Locally, I have a great deal of respect and confidence in our police department and honor their willingness to serve.
I applaud publisher Lyndon Zaitz for having the courage to publish political cartoons even though they may offend some of us. The message they give is a constant reminder of injustices in our society. To me, there is nothing more offensive than religious bigotry, social injustices that continually plague minorities, the poor, the old, the mentally ill, the homeless and gays and lesbians.
It would seem that Mr. Cheney and Ms. LeMaster would like restrictions on what a publisher should be allowed to print. If I’m not mistaken, the purpose of the First Amendment was to allow freedom of the press. All of us have opinions, and that’s all they are. Some of us would like our opinions to become social law so we can dictate what we deem acceptable and not acceptable. If that’s what you want then you might try life in Iran or North Korea. The First Amendment gives us all the right to our opinions but does not allow us individually to force those opinions on others. Hence, that’s why we have the democratic process and a free press.
Having said all that, surely there must be something more worthwhile than finding offense with political cartoons in the Keizertimes.
I would like to recognize the Koch brothers for spending some of their billion dollars trying to influence how we vote in Oregon. It has been well documented that these billionaire brothers continue to try to manipulate how people vote in many state and federal elections. The reason they are spending their money is so government regulations that hurt their many industries are eliminated. It is the bottom line. Spending all that money is good for advertisers but not good for democracy. The Koch brothers could save money by just putting a $5 bill in an envelope and sending it to every voter in Oregon. If we think one vote for one dollar is a fair way to go, then we will receive the government that we deserve!
It is my extreme pleasure to endorse Roland Herrera for the Keizer City Council. For the 25 years I’ve known Roland, he has worked tirelessly in behalf of the city and its citizens – especially the young people. Years ago when we took the sixth grade students at Cummings Elementary to Outdoor School for a week, Roland was right there with us, morning and night. As our PE instructor, he made sure the students remained active but had fun doing all sorts of activities. Roland truly cares about the city and its people and is passionate about serving others. Please vote for Roland. You’ll be glad you did.
My husband and I missed the state fair last summer. Instead of dodging piles of sheep shearing and licking the sticky residue of cotton candy from our fingers, Steve and I were in Roatan, scuba diving and following groups (pods? schools? flocks?) of squid. It was almost too hot to go on Sunday; I am notoriously cranky when it’s over 80 degrees and sweat starts to happen, but we ventured off, hoping for a breeze.
We arrived just in time for the “All Alaskan Pig Races.” The arena was divided into four sections, and our group was assigned to cheer for a pig named Strawberry. It was not a good sign when Strawberry, with her pink racing bib, stubbornly attempted to crawl out of the chute to which she was assigned. Each pig was smaller than a cocker spaniel, with perk ears and eager snouts. When the chute was released, all four pigs dashed around the track with great enthusiasm, spurred on by the roar of the crowd. Strawberry took an early lead as she gallantly leapt over the first hurdle. No wagers were taken, so the members of the audience remained polite; Soapy Smith was the winner, Strawberry came in second. If you missed them, don’t fret. The swine will be making an appearance at the Santa Cruz county fair in early October – mark your calendars!
I confess, some of the competitive categories at the fair are baffling to me. There is a display with various table settings, for example. Two categories – regular and holiday. If my mom entered, she would win every year. And the collections section. The entries included three display cases to hold one woman’s accumulation of Tigger items, two shelves of model/toy cars, and seven decades worth of Band-Aid containers. Other options for competitive consideration. Flowers and other decorative items made out of sugar or gum paste, but not part of a cake – separate from cake decorating. Quilts. Military uniforms. Pies, cakes, cookies, bread. Lego construction with teen, 5+, kit and creative categories. Handcrafted furniture scattered about the building, I found the second place armoire, but didn’t locate the first prize winner. One handmade guitar, which had a blue ribbon for “woodworking, musical instrument.” There didn’t appear to be any other competition. Next year I am going to whittle a flute from a twig. A special area for cribbage players. The Marionberry booth. Tillamook was represented with a Frequently Asked Questions about Cheese hand-out, and cubes of cheddar samples on toothpicks.
Of course we stopped at the booth for our political party; they have free ice water. And there were hecklers. Two older women (my age) asked one of the volunteers, who had an accent, why she was there. “I’m a US citizen,” she responded. “Because we let you in,” one of the women jeered. It seemed unnecessarily nasty – anything nasty is really unnecessary. Next was a tirade about the mess that has been Oregon’s attempt at a health care exchange program. Steve picked up a newspaper filled with articles in support of a candidate for senator, and surreptitiously blocked the view of the women from the volunteers. They scooted away from him. One of male volunteers calmly noted that he would prefer not to have to call security, inadvertently escalating the conflict, which included a response about free speech. “Before I go, I want you to know that my father was wounded at Normandy,” one woman asserted. “My father was shot serving in North Korea,” the bearded volunteer responded. Apparently having family members with war wounds resulted in differing political results for these individuals.
Next, Steve and I had ice cream, which was dipped in chocolate and rolled in nuts. We found a shady spot and listened to a musical competition with local performers. First up was an energetic group of young adults in neon yellow shirts with a choreographed routine to a song that may have been original. Something about love is breathing and you need to do it. Next, a husband and wife duo from Douglas County, with an acoustic guitar and ballet version of Lynryd Skynryd’s “Simple Man.” He had a pleasant voice and talented fingers. We finished our ice cream (spare nuts will be found in my purse for weeks…) before the dance portion of the talent, however I did note that she was wearing ballet slippers and may have eventually been en pointe. If Steve and I enter the competition next year, I will sing to my i-pod, maybe “Crazy” by Patsy Cline, while chopping onions. Steve will participate by tuning me out while he is researching something on his computer. He will be invaluable if there are technical difficulties, for example, if it appears that my lips are not moving in sync with the music.
On Saturday I roasted twenty pounds of tomatoes, so I was anticipating pasta with delicious fresh tomato sauce for dinner. That is to say that I did not have a corn dog. I already regret that decision. August has slipped into memory. Here’s hoping you were able to avoid any serious summer regrets.
They sat perfectly still in their dress whites, eyes forward, with gloved hands uniformly at rest on their thighs as they listened to the commencement speaker. It was surprising to have such military precision be so deeply moving. Not one of them stole a look at their phone, slouched, yawned, or shared a quiet chat. Their complete oneness was thrilling.
We watched the graduation of 166 fresh naval officers at Newport Naval Station in Rhode Island. The keynote speaker was a woman who had commanded a naval hospital in the Iraq war zone. Her talk was brief and sublime. She spoke only of these new officers working toward the common good of the U.S. Navy. She first and foremost charged them with taking care of the people in their command. Not one word about individual freedoms or getting ahead. It was all about the brotherhood of one shared goal.
There are some countries with a mandatory military service for all citizens, and a few with mandatory national service, which includes public service in many forms. It would be good to have that debate in this country. For it or against it, an examination of individual rights versus the good of the whole is long past due.
“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” This is a pretty clear mission statement. Not much of “the right to do as I damned well please,”or “get the government off my back.” “We the people” excuses no one.
The Declaration of Independence had before established that we are born with “certain unalienable Rights.” The Constitution was crafted because “governments are instituted to secure these rights.” The importance of the Bill of Rights cannot be overstated. But the Preamble to the Constitution goes to the heart of the founders’ intent.
Can I claim all of those freedoms guaranteed in the Bill of Rights without sharing in the cost of their protection? We are expected as Americans to promote the general welfare and establish justice. We share responsibility for providing the common defense and securing the blessings of liberty.
It was so overwhelming to see those 166 new officers give up substantial personal freedom and privileges to the service of the greater good. They’ve seen that the greatest Navy ever seen on the planet is made successful by having a common goal.
America is not a military state, nor should it be. The success of our military forces still has much to teach us. The Navy works because everyone works to make it work. America was made great by men and women sacrificing to reach a shared dream. What’s not to like about justice, domestic tranquility, general welfare, or common defense?
It’s only wishful thinking, but imagine what America could be if our egocentric sense of entitlement to individual freedom was balanced by a matching dedication to the good of the whole. Imagine if we committed to offering the blessings of liberty even to those misinformed enough to disagree with us. In 1789 they formed a government hoping to form a more perfect union. This is no time to give up on that.
(Don Vowell gets on his soapbox regularly in the Keizertimes.)
In 1938 Britain’s Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain went to Hitler’s Germany with the intent to hug and kiss for a “lasting peace” in Europe. Chamberlain came away from the meeting to proclaim that through the Munich deal there would be “peace in our time.” Incidentally, that just a few folks in Czechoslovakia would be annexed into Nazi Germany was part of the deal but viewed as incidental to those in Europe not yet affected; however, it was soon known that when Hitler was given a slice, he wanted the whole loaf.
On Sept. 1, 1939, the ink barely dry on the peace in our time pact, Hitler’s tanks rolled toward Warsaw on while Stalin’s Red Army attacked Poland from their east side a few days later and the two villains then divided up Poland between them; no more Poland.
The worst of Hitler and Stalin is combined in the former KGB colonel and Stalin heir, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, now a bona-fide dictator with absolute authority, who is loved by those Russians who’ve never warmed to democratic principles and practices. Putin is fleet of foot as he lies, denies, dangles prospects for peace, threatens to cut off natural gas shipments, and offers his “so what?” shrugs, providing the world with what it looks like in 2014 when a power-grabbing ultra-nationalist risks world war to take Russia back to empire status.
Putin was doing fairly well by his game of deceits until the Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine. Kremlin spin confused some people in the West by Putin saying that the Russians believed the downed jet was a Ukraine attempt to kill Putin on board a Russian military plane. Of course, only the naïve were fooled enough by this story to believe its authenticity.
As we know from bitter examples out of the late 1930s that led to ever-greater tragedies through World War Two, dictators are notorious for their big lies of the moment because there are so many like Chamberlain who can be misled and thereby used to provide more time and space to carry out plans to conquer and control more and more territory. It is Ukraine today but who’s next?
Meanwhile, the lies go on and on. When a column of infiltrating armor vehicles of Russian origin was intercepted last week, the Kremlin used another lie. What’s up, Russia? Putin’s team of propagandists were ready with an answer as “It was a navigation error: The Russian army was patrolling the border and somehow, mistakenly crossed into Ukraine territory.” It’s an “aw shucks, no big deal” by way of Putin’s explanation.
This guest column writer does not know a great number of Americans. Yet, the ones he does know want no more warring overseas although no one he knows wants Putin left to do as he pleases as he will move on Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Belarus next, followed by Poland, Slovakia and Hungary thereafter and so on. We know these dictator personality types well from the 20th century and want no part of their oppression of the world’s people, making them vassals of Empire Russia in the 21st century.
This matter will only end in violence. Why? How so? Putin is just another dictator who is most interested in power and control as he has all the creature comforts and adulation regardless of how much his people suffer; so, the sanctions, regardless of how extreme, will ultimately not deter him from his present course. Old age killed Stalin; Hitler killed himself. Putin’s moves in nation-grabbing will be terminated when he passes. He’s only 61-years-old, apparently in good physical health and an egomaniac who counts Russian tanks moving over borders to fall into deep, restful sleep.
Given the circumstances as they now add up, it would appear that all of what’s going on will end quite badly for world peace. And that comes just when many of us thought it was actually possible we could move all of humankind in this century to grasp and hold onto a newborn, enlightened age without warfare.
(Gene H. McIntyre’s column appears weekly in the Keizertimes.)
Even before putting the pen to paper, I have to switch the pen back to my dominant hand—my right—just to see if I’m holding it correctly. I put the pen back in my left hand and it doesn’t feel or look the same. I have to repeat the first step.
It’s day one of tutor training at the Mid-Valley Literacy Center. We’ve been talking about teaching adult students for the better part of four hours. MVLC tutors work with an average of more than 500 English-language learners annually. Students run the gamut from grade school dropouts and never-attendeds to a Ukrainian lawyer with two masters degrees making a new home in the U.S. We’ve shared high-minded ideas about what we think it takes to work with these individuals, but we haven’t put ourselves in our future students’ shoes like we’re doing in this exercise.
This should be easier. All we have to do is write our name, address, and a sentence about something we’ve done this week using our non-dominant hand.
I make it through my first name, my middle initial. It’s far from precise, light-years from pretty, but mostly legible. The first major frustration is the “d” in my last name. I draw the upright. I know which way the loop is supposed to face, but my hand won’t process the commands I’m sending it. My brain is overcompensating. Trying to separate writing with a different hand from the inclination to write backward is taxing. This single letter takes a level of concentration that is unfamiliar and unsettling.
By the time I get to my zip code, my confidence in my ability to see this through to completion is wavering. It takes another hit when a “7” comes out looking more like “>” than a numeral. Then I make it to a “3” and I’m facing the same indecision that occurred with the “d.” My instinct is to turn the opening of the number to the right, more like an “E” in cursive. I’m second-guessing something I’ve known how to do for more than three decades. The dwindling confidence that remains in my abilities rushes out on a forcefully exhaled breath.
The second of the two threes in the zip code doesn’t come any easier. I just want to get to the sentence. I’m a writer. Letters are ever so slightly more familiar than numbers. I’ll take an infinite number of “d”s over the damn threes. Frustration folded back on fear of judgment on top of shaky confidence puts me in a state of desperation and near paralysis. I’ll practice and practice and practice. I repeat the mantra in my head until the instructor calls an end to the assignment and rescues me three words into the sentence.
I drop the pen and relax for the first time since the exercise began. Until this moment, I’d forgotten that it wouldn’t always have to be this way; that everything about writing will be familiar again once I can put the pen back in my right hand. High school classes in German, college classes in French didn’t prepare me for this. I’ve translated poetry from five foreign languages into English and none of those incited the panic this single two-minute exercise did.
It’s dizzying to think there are adults dealing with this same, likely more, self-doubt every time they’re asked to fill out a form: an ID card registration, a driver’s license application, a medical history at the emergency room, a job application. All the forms combined that dictate their future in this country.
This should be easier. The experience makes me wonder how anyone survives a day, much less a week or more, and maintains the ability to look anyone else in the eye. Then our instructor thanks yet another person for sharing their insight.
Throughout the past four hours, this instructor has repeatedly thanked participants in our class for sharing their thoughts when individuals rise to the opportunity. She did it so frequently that I’d begun to question her authenticity. I realize, in the wake of left-handed writing, that she has seen the same panic I just felt on hundreds, likely thousands, of faces. She means it every time – with the whole of her heart. Her students need to hear it, and it makes me realize what kind of tutor I need to be.
Eric A. Howald is associate editor of the Keizertimes. He has been tutoring at MVLC for five months and, despite the instance recounted here, the experience has been enriching, life-affirming and a constant adventure. To find out more about volunteering with MVLC, drop in at the free tutor orientation sessions Sept. 11 or Sept. 18 from 6 to 8 p.m. Tutor trainings begin later this month.Visit www.midvalleyliteracycenter.org for more information.
For the second time, the case against Victor David Smith starts next week.
Smith has been charged with the 2004 murder with a firearm of Keizer resident Phillip Johnson. After more than three days of deliberations in June, the Marion County Circuit Court jury remained irreparably split.
Judge Thomas Hart thus declared a mistrial. The second trial is set to begin Sept. 10 with jury selection and prosecutors calling their witnesses starting the following day.
Hart will be the judge once again. Deputy District Attorney Paige Clarkson will again be the prosecutor, while Olcott Thompson will once again be Smith’s attorney. Johnson’s family is expected to travel from out of state as well.
Clarkson gave little insight in terms of what to expect or what the changes might be.
“The schedule, attorneys and judge are the same,” she said. “I can’t comment on the case any further than that.”
Thompson anticipates some changes, but not many.
“We will have different witnesses maybe, depending on what the state witnesses say,” Thompson told the Keizertimes this week. “But it’s mainly the same thing. Their witness list is different. It’s pretty much the same, but they changed some people. I don’t know why they did. One name doesn’t surprise me. Most of it doesn’t surprise me.”
Thompson said his client has been holding up well, given the situation.
“He’s as good as you can be while in jail, facing a murder charge,” Thompson said.
The first trial opened on June 17, with the final witnesses taking the stand the morning of June 19. Closing arguments were given June 20, after which the 12-member jury began deliberations.
After not reaching a verdict June 20, the jurors resumed deliberations at 9 a.m. the following Monday. The schedule was repeated the next day, with all parties being called back to Hart’s courtroom the morning of June 25, at which point it was confirmed the jury was still split after more than 21 hours of deliberation.
“Then I’m going to declare a mistrial,” Hart said. “The suspect stays in custody. The next trial is set for Sept. 10.”
Johnson was shot multiple times outside his Keizer apartment the night of July 1, 2004. Smith, a prime suspect early in the case, was arraigned last year on the single murder charge. At the time of the murder, Smith lived in Salem with Imani Williams, Johnson’s former girlfriend and a key figure in the saga. Much of the prosecution’s case in June was based on Smith being upset Williams still had strong feelings for Johnson.
During both the opening and closing arguments, Clarkson showed jurors “The Defendant’s Prophecy,” a letter Smith had written to Williams.
“This defendant had a problem and the problem had a name: Phillip Johnson,” Clarkson said. “Phillip Johnson was the one thing that stood between him and what he loved. Phillip Johnson deserves justice. But to this defendant, Phillip Johnson was only a problem that needed to be solved. It was a problem that needed to be solved with murder.”
Clarkson said witnesses and evidence provided a timeline of events and cell phone calls placed Smith at the place of the crime.
“Imani Williams is calling this defendant at almost the exact time Phillip Johnson is killed,” Clarkson said. “There’s no reason for her to call (Smith) if he’s sitting next to her. She’s calling him because he’s not there…You can infer where he was. He was out shooting Phillip Johnson. He was out solving his problem.”
Thompson, meanwhile, countered that the prosecution’s case left too many holes and created more than enough reasonable doubt. For example, he pointed to different details told by Sara Fandrei and Steven Chrisco, the two the prosecution stated drove Smith to Johnson’s apartment complex.
“Everyone sees the same event differently,” Thompson said. “Her story is slightly different than Mr. Chrisco’s, no question. How consistent are the stories? The problem is, the big stuff in (both) stories don’t match other things.”
Thompson noted several suspects – including Chrisco, who has been in and out of prison on various charges the past 15 years – were too quickly dismissed by investigators with the Keizer Police Department and also stated key witnesses changed their stories to authorities.
“The state has to prove things,” Thompson said. “They’re saying, ‘Trust us; we’re the government.’ You need to make sure you get your decision right. It’s OK to let someone who is guilty go free if the state didn’t prove its case.”