For our 7th grade project at Binnsmead Middle School in Southeast Portland, we had to create an animal, paint it on a big sheet of butcher paper, and give a speech about our animal in front of the entire school.
My animal was "The RushEagle". It was Rush Limbaugh's head on the body of an eagle. The eagle was painted like the American flag.
Also, I had Rush Limbaugh's Newsweek cover on my binder. I spent an entire year in the public school system of a city George H.W. Bush called "Little Beirut", with the leader of the Right grinning out from my schoolwork. My teachers, quite a few of whom were gay and lesbian, had to put up with my insurrectionist little hand darting up to question their teaching: "Isn't there only one way to completely avoid STDs, Mrs. Miller? And isn't that abstinence?" "Wasn't it Ronald Reagan's defense spending that brought down the Berlin Wall, Mr. Plamondon?" Fortunately, I was a good, well-behaved student, and my questions usually elicited little more than eye-rolling.
I'm as proud of that year as any other time in my life. My dad was the one who taught me to think critically and carve my own path, and my hometown offered me the ideal training ground. I had to know my points or I'd be shredded. At the same time, I couldn't plug my ears, close my eyes and ignore the perspectives around me.
That's one of the reasons I was amazed to see this new study by fivethirtyeight.com sent to me by my atheist friend Drewbles. (I don't believe he's actually atheist...he just says he is. He'll come around eventually.)
It's a fascinating breakdown of the political landscape in Oregon. Apparently, we are both the most liberal state in the Union and the most conservative. Suck on that, Utah and Massachusets!
That division isn't necessarily a good thing. Since cities like Eugene and Portland are dark blue while the rest of the state bleeds Red, the number indicate strong tensions between urban and rural voters. But at the same time, that strange mix of extreme Right and Left has developed a "weird political soup wherein Oregon has decriminalized marijuana but has also passed a gay marriage ban...allows assisted suicide but also has one of the nation's lowest effective tax rates."
I miss home.