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January 29, 2015 6:07 AM

January 29, 2015 5:58 AM

Portland may never get an answer to a question that has puzzled residents for almost 30 years. Is the carpet in Portland International Airport more of a teal blue or a teal green? Starting this month, officials at PDX, home of the most beloved airport carpet in the world, will begin tearing out some 14 acres of the kind-of blue, sort-of green rug. Portlandia is not having an easy time of it…. [T]he carpet, which was designed by SRG Architects in 1987. The composition reportedly reflects the airport’s intersecting runways; the color scheme most definitely bucks the tradition of using neutral colors for something more in keeping with the city’s quirky Pacific Northwestern identity. For a carpet pattern, it almost looks like a Suprematist painting.

Imagine that you’ve lived in your house since, oh…1987, and the carpet, which you installed when you moved in, is still there. Just think of all of the things you’ve done on and to that carpet over the years; you’d think it was well past time to replace it, right?? Given all the food, fluids, and various and assorted detritus that has been dropped on and ground into the carpet over the years, you might be tempted to have it declared a biohazard…and not without good reason. An almost 30 year old carpet is something you might expect to find in a frat house, not in the airport of a major American city.

Welcome to PDX, where one person’s biohazard is another’s connection to all that’s good and right with the world. Try to change that, and…well, be prepared for a social media phenomenon no one could have foreseen.

Like anything old, the time comes when it needs to be replaced. We all wear out sometime, right? The PDX carpet, designed and installed in 1987, has become a cultural touchstone for many of those who’ve passed through PDX over the years. For most of us who travel frequently, airports tend to be drab, charmless warehouses we pass through on our way to somewhere else. We see little and notice even less. The goal is to get in, get out, and get on with it. From my experience, what most travelers remember about airports are the not so pleasant aspects of their time in transit. That’s not the case in Portland, which is one of the things that makes PDX so special. I’ve been to and through more airports around the world than I can remember, but PDX is still by far my favorite. No matter where I’ve been coming home to it is always special. Even though I hadn’t fully realized it until the Port of Portland announced the carpet would be replaced, that was one of the things that made the experience special. Funny how you never fully appreciate something until it’s (about to be) gone, eh?

Not only was PDX named America’s Best Airport by Travel + Leisure Magazine in 2013 and 2014, the PDX carpet has developed what could only be described as a cult following. That THAT, Heathrow….

The airport’s “Tweet Your Feet” campaign gets travelers to take photos of their feet on the carpet and then post them to the airport’s Twitter account. Being the sucker that I am for such things, I’ve taken part in it myself:

A photo posted by Jack Cluth (@jackcluth) on

Merchants at PDX sell socks, T-shirts, and other paraphernalia adorned with the carpet’s famous pattern. There are even a few people sporting tattoos of the carpet pattern. As you might imagine, though, after going on close to 30 years, the carpet is showing its age (and has been for several years), having been completely worn through in different areas of the airport five concourses. The old girl’s showing her age, and so the Port of Portland has decided to replace the carpet. After commissioning a new design and announcing the upcoming change…well, the mourners are out in force. The carpet’s being replaced…but judging by the response, you’d think a close friend has just passed away. In a sense, I suppose, that’s exactly what’s happening.

Over the years, fans of the carpet have done all sorts of things to demonstrate their devotion to the PDX carpet. Some expressions of affection are a little bit more permanent than others:

January 29, 2015 5:40 AM

January 29, 2015 5:32 AM

On Friday and Monday a federal judge struck down Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage in two separate cases, prompting state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore to issue a three-page declaration promising he will not observe the rulings…. “As Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, I will continue to recognize the Alabama Constitution and the will of the people overwhelmingly expressed in the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment,” Moore wrote. “If we are to preserve that ‘reverent morality which is our source of all beneficent progress in social and political improvement,’ then we must act to oppose such tyranny!” he added. In his letter, addressed to Alabama Republican Governor Robert Bentley, Moore warned “the destruction of that institution is upon us by federal courts using specious pretexts based on the Equal Protection, Due Process and Full Faith and Credit Clauses of the United States Constitution.”…. “I would advise,” Moore added, that any marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples “would be in defiance of the laws and Constitution of Alabama,” and claimed that the State of Alabama is not bound by decisions of federal district or appellate courts.

There’s a temptation I’m tamping down when it comes to this story. It would be easy to destroy Moore’s specious, unconstitutional logic and hold forth as to how a state supreme court justice should know better. In fact, it would be TOO easy. WAY too easy. I’ll let that sit, perhaps for another time…but probably not.

Moore’s smart enough to know that nullification as a strategy has been struck down by the Supreme Court. He also knows (though he refuses to acknowledge) that federal law and federal courts supersede those of any state. Moore is using this issue as a means of burnishing his political prospects, same as it always was. He’ll portray himself as standing up for the rights of good, God-fearing Alabamaniacs, who KNOW in their heart of hearts that same-sex marriage is an abomination against Almighty God. The inaccuracy of this theology is a thorough, WAY too easy takedown best left for another time.

Except that it’s not an abomination…and a pronounced majority of Americans support marriage equality. The problem is that if Moore didn’t have his hateful agenda to sell, he’d have nothing to offer, and he’s have trouble being elected Jefferson County Dogcatcher. He’d be lucky if he could find a job managing a Dairy Queen in Mobile. All he has in his quiver is hatred, homophobia, fear mongering, and anger. Take that away…and the Emperor would have no clothes.

If Moore decides that he’s serious and he’s going to stand in the way of federal law and the decisions of federal courts, then I say we let him. He’ll be arrested and he’ll find that there’s plenty of room in the federal correctional system for him to languish and be forgotten. As a state supreme court justice, Moore is granted the right to interpret law, NOT the right to make it or determine which laws he will obey. That this knowledge is basic to his role makes his grandstanding that much worse.

There’s a name for those like Moore who pick and choose which law they will obey. They’re called “criminals,” and Judge Roy Moore, if he chooses to travel the path he claims he will, deserves to be tried and convicted like so many of those who’ve stood before him over the years. Beyond that, Moore isn’t worth the time of day. Let him make his choice and suffer the consequences.

January 29, 2015 5:20 AM

January 29, 2015 5:10 AM

MADISON, Wis. - The punk rock band Dropkick Murphys is asking Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to stop playing one of their songs, saying on Twitter that “We literally hate you.”…. Walker took the stage Saturday at the Iowa Freedom Summit to its song “I’m Shipping Up to Boston.” The band then tweeted at Walker’s official and personal accounts, “please stop using our music in any way…we literally hate you!!! Love, Dropkick Murphys.”…. The band has been vocally supportive of union rights and critical of Walker’s steps to effectively end collective bargaining for public workers in Wisconsin. In 2012, the band also asked then-Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald not to play the song after he used it at the state GOP convention.

I never cease to marvel at the chutzpah of Republicans who try to co-opt the music of artists who wouldn’t support them if you put a gun to their heads. Ronald Reagan used to enter his campaign rallies to “Born in the USA,” a particularly ironic choice given that the lyrics decried the state of an America destroyed by GOP policies. Reagan stopped using the song when Bruce Springsteen requested that he cease, because it implied that Springsteen supported him, something that was not even close to being true. Springsteen despised what Reagan stood for, and the idea of one of his songs being used by a politician whose philosophy was antithetical to everything he believed in was too much.

The Dropkick Murphys, one of my favorite bands, was not nearly as diplomatic as Springsteen. Realizing that Scott Walker was using one of their songs had to be a difficult thing to swallow. Walker stands for virtually everything most artists and musicians despise, and he’d create an America in which only the strong survive and income inequality would be considered a social good. I love the fact that the band decided to forego niceties and go straight to the “we literally hate you!!!” card. So often, the Left is concerned with kindness and politeness. While those are certainly good things, there are times when being honest about your feelings is the best and most authentic move.

Some might consider it hyperbole to state that Walker’s agenda is the embodiment of pure evil, but it’s not. He really is the embodiment of all that’s evil about the Republican agenda. Walker has worked hard to destroy unions, defund the middle class, and create a political system favorable to the oligarchy and their interests. He’s a favorite of Charles and David Koch, and he’s proved himself ready, willing, and able to embrace and advance their agenda.

That Walker was elected, re-elected, and survived a recall says far more about the collective intelligence of Wisconsin voters than it does about him…and there’s not much good to say about Scott Walker. Voters in the Badger State have willingly, even eagerly, embraced their own disenfranchisement because they couldn’t be bothered to pay attention. They’ve allowed Walker to turn their state in to a laboratory for those eager to engage in union-busting and create a two-tier society split between the haves and the have-nots.

Congratulations, Wisconsin; you have EXACTLY the quality of leadership you deserve. Scott Walker? Really? Who knew your standards were so abysmally low? Or that you’d so willingly and eagerly acquiesce to a Governor who Prime Directive is to destroy the middle class?

January 29, 2015 4:52 AM

January 28, 2015 6:51 AM

January 28, 2015 6:39 AM

Say conservatives have their way with Obamacare, and the Supreme Court deals it a death blow or a Republican president repeals it in 2017. Some people who got health insurance as a result of the Affordable Care Act may lose it. In which case, liberals like to say, some of Obamacare’s beneficiaries may die…. If these are the stakes, many liberals argue, then ending Obamacare is immoral. Except, it’s not.

Finally, an opinion piece in which a Conservative Republican admits that their agenda is of more value to them than human life. Michael R. Strain, a resident scholar at the arch-Conservative American Enterprise Institute wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post making the argument that health care should fall under the “allocation of scarce resources” argument.

I find it interesting that someone representing the same ideology that decried the alleged “death panels” component of the Affordable Care Act is now OK with the idea of creating the very same thing in the name of “allocating scarce resources.” I suppose it’s easy to do when the lives in question are abstract concepts, in that they belong to people you neither know, love, nor care about. The problem with that argument, of course, is that people are NOT abstract concepts; their lives matter, none worth more than any other other and all worthy of preservation.

Of course, when you live in a world that considers military spending appropriate and essential but government-sponsored health care to be socialism, you’ve just demonstrated your true colors. Strain is comfortable making what might seem a compelling argument for accepting a higher mortality rate in the name of a program that fits within the narrow confines of Conservative ideology. The problem, though, is that people are not expendable, and accepting a higher mortality rate when we spend untold billions on our military is nothing if not unconscionable. One could take this argument as elevating our military over the health care needs of the American people…and one would be on the right track.

January 28, 2015 6:29 AM

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