The West is Big, y’all

There’s something Kevin Standlee​ said in a File 770 thread (it’s about halfway through the comment) that I wanted to do a little expounding on. Family and folks who know the area I grew up, bear with me, as none of this is going to be all that unusual to you. What I am about to quote came up in a discussion about whether Spokane was close to Seattle.

In my experience, a lot of people who haven’t actually lived on the US west coast think everything here is in the same place. Disneyland is just outside of San Francisco. You can see the Space Needle from Portland. And obviously everything in the same state is within a few miles’ of everything else.

Kevin knows what he’s talking about — he and I grew up in the same general geographic area, although that area is about 150 miles in diameter around my hometown. My hometown is a small Western city that has the distinction of being one of six control cities on Interstate 5 (the other five are all major cities you’ve probably heard of).

From my hometown, it is approximately an hour and fifteen minutes to the nearest state university. The next one is about two hours fifteen minutes. The other state university in our third of the state is about three hours away over a mountain pass. And my alma mater, in a major metro region that holds most of the sports teams we root for in my little city, is about three hours away, if you’re pushing it and not stopping.

And we’re big enough to be a control city — that’s the one the signs point to as the next destination — on the major north/south artery of the West Coast.

A couple other thoughts. I live in Sacramento now. A friend and I once drove from Portland to Sacto, getting out of the car once. It took us eight hours. Another time, I had to drive to pick up somebody in Los Angeles — the Hollywood area, to be precise. Mom and I left Sacto at 4:30 AM. We stopped for gas once and breakfast once, but we still didn’t make it to his place until 11:30 AM.

One last thought. California numbers its freeway exits by miles travelled, starting with 1 at the southern end for N/S roads and the western end for E/W roads.

The actual little town I grew up in, just south of the minor city I describe here, is exits 667 and 668 on Interstate 5. At that point, there’s still another hundred odd miles to the Oregon border.

The West Coast is big, y’all.

Words have power [extended health care rant, part 1]

First off, I know my hometown is rather Republican. It’s part of the reason I don’t always feel comfortable up there, but people have a right to their politics despite how much I may disagree with them. But this video makes me embarrassed to be from Redding:

Alright, so again, there’s a first amendment right to say as you please, no matter how dumb you come across sounding. The guy has a right to protest, so I don’t mind that he’s a teabagger sort. Folks have a right to say what they want. However, the bit that just makes me angry is that bit about being “a right-wing terrorist”.

Again, I know that folks have the right to say what they want to say. But labeling oneself a terrorist is a bit like yelling fire in a crowded theater. If you want to pull the Feds down on your head, there’s only a few worse things you can say. But alright, fine. First amendment and all, even though the first amendment doesn’t mean there won’t be consequences for what you say.

The things that make me embarrassed to be from Redding in this video is by how loud the crowd applauds. I mean, they literally cheer for the guy — a guy who has said that he’s not above blowing up buildings and killing innocent people for his cause. Let’s not beat around the bush (or the Bush, for that matter) here. A terrorist is somebody who uses terror — the threat of hurting innocent people to cause fear — to achieve a political goal. I’m willing to give the guy in the video a pass in the sense that he meant another word and said the wrong one, as much as that is a really bad slipup, if that’s the case. However, the crowd cheering at those words — in essence, approving of terrorism — is what appalls me.

Then there’s what the Congressman said, which makes me embarrassed to admit that I think I voted for the guy once. You see, Herger was pretty good, despite his political affiliations, of doing what was right for his constituents. He even listened kindly to me when I asked him at a town hall meeting how he could help in regards to the cost of attending college. In the end, he might not have done anything, but I got the feeling he was taking me seriously and at least thought about what I had said when the next bill to help with college aid came up.

But again, there’s a line you cross when you say to somebody who’s just declared himself a right-wing terrorist: “Amen, God bless you, there’s a great American.” I don’t really think our representatives ought to be encouraging those who would stoop to violence to achieve their political goals, whether they share the same political beliefs or oppose them. There’s a line of decorum here that shouldn’t be crossed.

I know Republicans don’t want this health care bill, and I can vaguely understand why. But, that said, some of this rhetoric is getting a bit out of control.

(BTW, don’t give me the it was a joke bit. There’s some things that just aren’t funny — and I hate to say it, that didn’t sound like a joke on the tape. He sounded dead serious, and to cover it up by saying “Haw haw, it’s a joke, it’s supposed to be funny, you liberals have no sense of humor” isn’t right either. My mom taught me that some things just weren’t funny no matter if you meant it as a joke or not, and terrorism is one of those things.

That said, this bit in that editorial is spot on and something I can agree with:

If there’s a lesson here, maybe it’s about the need for everyone to turn the volume down. Left and right alike slap the vilest labels on those with whom they have political disagreements. Critics slag both “tea-bag” activists and Acorn organizers as “Brownshirts” – as if voting differently on the “public option” is the equivalent of slaughtering millions, as the Nazis did in the 1930s and ’40s. What will we say if real Nazis ever show up?

Is it so hard to be polite and respectful to one another even though we disagree? Can we stop with the hot-button words?)

But between this video and the news that Ted Kennedy died, some part of me this morning is sorta feeling like, there went my last best chance to become a productive citizen. I’ll have more to say on that later, when I’m not rushing off to work, as it’s a story that’s going to take a bit of time to tell.