Then, there is the number of homeless in the Rose City, that is not only high but comprised of loud and indignant people who demand housing and employment. Maybe I should try demanding a job instead of just looking for work. See how far I get. Portland likes to think of itself as Austin with weather. Bumper stickers abound imploring we KEEP PORTLAND WEIRD. Oh, and the weather? BusinessWeek claims the 222 days of rain contribute to Portland's premier unhappiness level.
Portland also has sort of a reputation for having a bright, educated and well-read population. It is home to the largest independent bookstore in the country-- Powell's City of Books, where, before entering the store, you are invariably assaulted by homeless people trying to sell you their newspaper or ask for a plain old handout. I know what your thinking. How do homeless people publish a newspaper? Maybe that' another part of the weirdness.
Portland is the 29th largest city in the country, squarely situated between Las Vegas and Louisville, Kentucky, with a little more than half a million residents. Doesn't sound like much, but it accounts for about 42% of the population of the entire state of Oregon. Interesting, but what does it mean?
Well, I'm getting to that.
Portland, like a lot of other cities around the country, has only one daily newspaper. The Oregonian. They try real hard to be fair and balanced, just like what Fox News says about itself. They used to have a columnist named David Reinhard, who, for all the world, seemed like a right-wing plant-- at the paper and in print--just to raise the blood temperature of clear thinking readers. He was to the right of Atilla, and possessed that right wing characteristic of condescending hubris. Is that redundant or does 'condescending' reinforce 'hubris?' He retired from the paper a while back, admitting to have gotten tired of the verbal assaults he had to endure from pinko-commie, wet-behind-the-ears, pansy-ass liberals. Maybe he took to the woods and became a survivalist. Maybe he fetches coffee for Rush or Doc Savage.
But the paper continues its attempt at balance, especially on the Opinion page. One day you'll find Charles Krauthammer and the next you can read E.J. Dionne, and so on. And the same effort goes into picking which readers' letters to print.
Yesterday, the scales seemed a little tipped to the right.
Out of eight letters published on the subject of President Obama being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, three were in favor. Of the five that weren't, one, written by a Michael Trigoboff, of Tigard wrote that, "The Nobel Committee would have been more honest if they had built a giant gold statue of Obama and sacrificed a few virgins at its feet."
And who said the right wing has no sense of humor?
I nearly fell off the floor when I read that one. Nearly, I say, because I saved my spill for the letter from Marion Bogden, of Corbett, Oregon.
Corbett has a population of about 4,000. It's about 95% white and looks, from the map to be pretty rural, resting about 25 miles west of Portland. According to www.city-data.com, the income is above the state average and the renting percentage is below. Still things and folks can certainly fall through the cracks. I found at least one trailer park in Corbett in a cursory Google search. I can't imagine that some people with a Corbett zip code don't live back off some of the roads, deep in the woods. There are a lot of woods surrounding Corbett.
I found a picture of two of what I imagine Ms. Bogden looks like...
Marion may not be doing meth... THIS WEEK! She may not be a skanky white-trash whore whose blackened teeth are hanging on by diseased threads. She could actually be clean and sober... and as big as a house, wearing inappropriately revealing clothing and stuffing Doritos in her mouth constantly while glued to Springer or Morrie, keeping up with Jon and Kate or whoever's life is currently in shambles and splattered all over the tabloids and TV. She may not have tattoos on her upper arms and ankles, nor have a navel ring embedded somewhere deep in the recesses of her fat belly. She may not be able to pack her entire wardrobe in a Safeway plastic bag. She may not fuck for drugs while listening to Rush or Glen or Doc Savage on the AM radio. She may not live in a trailer, broken down in the woods with her skinny-ass burnout "man," clad in dirty camo and a constant 5 '0 clock shadow. She may have graduated high school. She may not be a hick, although, given the general population in Oregon, the likelihood is extremely high. Hicks, like zombies, roam the outskirts of the city and the outlet malls. I've seen them in Salem and that's the fucking state capitol. I've sworn at them under my breath just for being hicks and contributing to global warming and the eventual death of the planet from their foul breath and toxic stupidity. Maybe Marion reads the paper. Maybe not. She must have gotten a hold of a copy recently and wrote in. Maybe she emailed from the library. I want to give her the benefit of the doubt. From a distance...
"In 1939, Adolf Hitler was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Y'all knew that, right?"
Her words, exactly. The "Y'all" is verbatim. I swear on my mother's eyes. Which, I think only an Italian could have come up with, but that's another story. And Lord knows, I don't want to besmirch the Italians. Especially, when I'm in the midst of a rant against offensively stupid white people.
Come to think of it, after rereading her words, I don't see Marion as one of those ubiquitous overweight Aryan women that seem to populate Oregon like spawning salmon. She has to be rail thin, kept alive with mean drugs and a meaner streak against anyone not like her, which is mostly everyone I know. In this America, it's them against us. And they're louder, angrier and armed. They like to call themselves teabaggers and patriots. They carry signs and placards with President Obama defiled with a Hitler mustache and posters imploring him to follow Ted Kennedy over the rainbow. I've written about the loss of dignity and the animus that has infected the vox populi. But it seems to be getting worse by the day. The anger and hostility and the complete lack of respect for the president is both shameful and frightening.
I not only have trouble imagining someone writing the kind of obscene filth that Ms. Bogden did, I have a more difficult time comprehending why the Oregonian would see fit to print it.
Oh, and for the record, Adolf Hitler, was indeed nominated once in 1939. E.G.C. Brandt, a member of the Swedish parliament nominated der Feuherer, before changing his mind. The nomination was withdrawn in a letter dated 1 February 1939. So, technically, Hitler wasn't nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. Y'all knew that, right?