Monday, April 30, 2007

Oregon's Butts, Blogged for You

Look who's hit the blogosphere! That's right, it's that smiling, smoldering, recent denizen of the Capitol, Mr. Butts! And somehow, despite a large cone of ash for brains, he's mastered HTML and the internets well enough to debut his own blog, somewhat more aggressively cited as "".

What's Mr. Butts got to say? Well as you can imagine, he's glowing a happy red over recent doings in the Legislature, as Republicans preserved the ability for people to get down with Mr. Butts without worrying about dumb stuff like children's health:
It's my job to make sure the Republican leadership holds firm and does not buckle on any future versions of the bill that may come up. Frankly, it hasn't been a tough sell. I have many friends here in Oregon. I don't like to brag, but minority leader Wayne Scott and I are closer than Paris and Nicole. In politics, as in life, it's all about relationships, and in the 2006 election I gave Rep. Scott 49,000 reasons to relate to me.

Also helpful have been the boys over at FreedomWorks/Citizens for a Sound Economy have a surprising amount of influence in this state, possibly because the local Executive Director is the vice-chair of the Republican Party, Russ Walker. I've got to say that back in the day when the execs at Tobacco HQ came up with the brainstorm to set up phony grassroots groups to make it seems as if local voters opposed cigarette tax increases, I thought people would see right through it.

And after the truth leaked out, I was sure Freedomworks/Citizens for a Sound Economy would lose all credibility. But lucky for me, not in Oregon!
Indeed! In Oregon we still have the proud tradition of protecting altruistic, non-meddling outfits like Phillip Morris from those mean and nasty children.

Welcome to the family, Mr. Butts! Now that you're fire-safe, you can come over and pass out on our couch any time...but remember to bring your oxygen tank with you, so we can all get a taste!

Even a broken clock is correct twice a day

Credit where credit is due...Ted is correct.

(***Warning***: Don't click on the link if you don't like reading NWRepublican blog, cuz that's where it goes. Its one of the few times that Ted has something correct, however. Since I bitch about how wrong they are over there, the least I can do is make note of it when they get it right.)

Smith Slides to Pre-Iraq Flip Levels--A Closer Look

[How bad is it to get scooped by my own partner?!? Since I'm the numbers geek of the pair, you lucky readers will get two versions of the same story: Carla's Headline News version for people who just want the results; and my wonkier search for hints and clues to the dynamics of Smith's rating...abbondanza!]

I don't know of a more regular independent survey of US politicians than Survey USA's monthly look at the President, Senators and Governors by state. Whatever you think about computer-voice political surveying, replicating the same method month after month gives the poll its greatest natural strength--the ability to conduct sound trend analysis. The key utility for polling is never prediction, but rather a point-in-time snapshot and the ability to compare this month to last month (and the month before that, etc.).

The latest numbers for Gordon Smith and the rest of the Senate are in for April, reflecting interviews done mid-month. With a hat-tip to Senate Guru for reminding us that new numbers were in, let's take a look, shall we? (click to enlarge, sorry)

To get a little perspective on what's happening here, recall that Smith's Pearl Harbor attack on Bush's "criminal" war in Iraq took place December 7th, and was followed up by an appearance on Sunday talk shows December 10th. Clearly, both the December and January 2007 ratings for Smith reflect those events, as approval in mid-January spiked to 58%, easily his best showing since spring of 2005.

It's less clear whether any particular set of events caused him to drop right back to stasis the following month--was it the series of "clarifications" that pointed out that Smith really didn't have a clear position on Iraq at all? Was it general anger at Republicans for backing the surge newly being implemented at that time? Or was it just the natural ebb of a dead-cat bounce, akin to Saddam's capture causing a spike for the President before almost-immediate retrenchment?

Also notable in the February rating is a return to relatively high "don't know" responses, at 14%, reminiscient of a year previous. Since that time, Smith's approval AND disapproval numbers have gone up, reflecting firmer opinions on the part of the electorate, with only 8% failing to give a response one way or the other. Otherwise, it would seem that his rating has remained relatively flat over the last three months, with approval hovering right around the sentinel 50% mark--above it and you can feel pretty good about your re-election chances; below it and you should start to be concerned, at least.

But the apparent moderation of the trend line masks some definite changes among subgroups, and SUSA deserves major kudos for allowing the reader to pore over them. Under the heading "Track Points" in the chart, find the dropdown list of subgroups--gender, age, political affiliation, political ideology, race,'s a gold mine, and it's where we find some curious recent shifts in the way Oregonians are evaluating Smith.

Clearly independents are a wildly shifting part of the electorate, and Smith's volatility with them has to be of major concern for his campaign. If he catches them in a good month, he'll sail to victory--but if he gets unlucky and November 2008 is one of the bad months, he's completely fucked. File April 2007 under "completely fucked;" in one month independents' view of him dropped by a whopping 21 points, from 56/35 to a dead-even 44/44.

Note however that as with the electorate at large, his ratings among NAV's spiked immediately after the Iraq speech, but has since returned to previous levels. Without making any predictions about what level will be required to put Smith in serious danger, what seems clear is that his performance on the Iraq issue has ceased to be a positive driver of his poll rating, and he's basically back where he was before the speech.

You want to see something a little shocking? Check out the Democratic subsample:

Yes, that's right--after the Iraq speech, Smith's approval among Democrats spiked at 62% in January, with an equally surprising low of 31% disapprovals. That's higher than his ratings both with the general electorate and independent voters. Had Smith not appeared to lurch back into his old patterns and begun hemming and hawing about just what he meant, we might be talking right now about who else to go after in the Senate next year--because there simply is no way he loses with 60% of Democrats on board the Smith train. It just goes to show you how absolutely desperate Democrats are to hear unfiltered language about the giant clusterfuck that is our foreign policy right now--they'll stand up and cheer a Republican who talks the talk, too.

But like everyone else, Democrats have figured out there's less than meets the eye to Gordo's conversion, as his numbers have floated back down to pre-speech levels. One smidgen of concern here is that those figures are still somewhat above ratings from last winter, when he was barely pulling a third of Democrats into his favor. On the other hand, it's unlikely those numbers will stay where they are as the opposition machine picks up the pace in the run-up to the election; Dems will obviously be most easily convinced by the attempt to persuade folks of his unsuitability.

Now, a look at Republican sentiment:

Now this is interesting. Note the lack of any significant movement at all among Republicans during the two post-speech "spike" months for Democrats and Independents--but in the following two months, as with the other groups, Smith's approval fell among Republicans by several points. And unlike the other two groups, our junior Senator has seen a resurgence in April--although to a lesser point than his 70+ days in the fall of 2005, and in the same pattern showing a return to pre-speech levels.

So no matter what party affiliation you claim, the net effect of all Smith's posturing and speechifying the last six months has been zero--but you got there in different ways. Democrats and Independents are still unhappy with Smith, but a touch less so recently, while Republicans are still happy overall, but somewhat less so compared to a year or more ago.

One final pair of charts that have special significance in Oregon--Portland Metro vs. the rest of the state. First Portland and environs:

Here we see roughly the same trend as for Democrats and Independents--a spike, followed by general retrenchment to earlier levels (although there's a bit of an uptick in April that the other two subgroups don't share). Somewhat like independents, the Portland area (including its suburbs) represents the barometer of the swing vote in the state--stay right around 50%, and you've got a decent shot, but under that and you're going to struggle unless the rest of the state just loves you...and right now, that's really not the case:

Once again we have a pattern of improved feelings right after the speech, and a current return to previous levels--but with a strange twist: a moderated improvement in December and January, with a bit steeper drop in February than we saw elsewhere, but a spike in March and then back down for this month for an overall return to stasis. Was it the attention paid to a potential DeFazio run by Southern Oregonians, complete with partisan words about Smith's service, that pulled him down? Can't say, but it's clear that the rest of the state is not yet in a position to rescue Smith if his Portland numbers atrophy as the election looms.

What's the overall analysis? Essentially, that we're back where we were around the 2006 elections: with a vulnerable incumbent who nonetheless still maintains a solid-enough appeal among Independents, Democrats and Portland-area voters to keep him in a relatively favorable position. The Iraq speech has neither hurt him nor helped him--and in the context that he surely hoped it would drive moderate opinion his way, that has to be a big disappointment for Smith. What other "moderate" arrows does he have left in his quiver? But by the same token, his flip on Iraq doesn't seem to have done any serious damage to his Republican base (perhaps because a significant chunk of them are sick and tired of the war, too?)

More weak numbers for Gordon Smith

For a guy whose spent the last three months trying to sprint toward the middle to buffet his appeal, Gordon Smith is looking awfully anemic.

Granted we're still a ways out, but the left has barely begun to wind up against Smith. Even Novick is just underway.

Smith's people cannot be happy with his polling numbers. He has huge name recognition and a lot of cash, but he's already having to start spending money campaigning. Jon Issacs spoke astutely to this on Blue Oregon just last week.

Smith is clearly a candidate in a sweat.

(h/t: Senate Guru 2008)

Tom Butler: A lesson in disdain

Representative Tom Butler (R-Ontario) has apparently decided that demonstrations of disrespect for the business of the Oregon House are perfectly acceptable--even as it offends his fellow citizens.

Last week during the Republican-led farce against the Healthy Kids Act, Butler decided that it would be appropriate to open up a sleeping bag and unpack a bag on the floor of the Oregon House of Representatives. It would seem our institutions of law in Oregon are so meaningless to Butler that abandoning any sense of respectful pretense is no problem.

When sent a complaint via email about his disrespectful actions by a fellow Oregonian, Butler replied thusly:

Subject: RE: Show Respect for the People of Oregon!
Date: Fri, 27 Apr 2007 15:04:59 -0700
From: "Rep Butler"

Sorry that you were offended. Next time we're locked
onto the House Floor (and told that we'll have to stay
there for up to 72 hours without a break) for
unnecessary media-driven procedural moves by Democrat
leaders, just turn off your TV and stop reading from
the liberal media!

Clearly Butler isn't sorry that anyone was offended at his actions. He quite obviously doesn't give a rip.

As far as the "unnecessary media-driven procedural moves", those came from Tom's own Party. They threw every parliamentary move they could at this bill--even after Dems had gone out of their way to work through the bill with the GOP. In addition, hundreds of Oregonians traveled to Salem to watch the legislature vote on this bill. Instead, they were treated to a Republican caucus that demonstrated utter disdain for the Oregon House.

And please...the "liberal media"? Must we really be treated to that canard again? Its like the WMD in Iraq, it doesn't exist.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Spanning the State--New Leaf edition

This is the time of year when I spend as much time as humanly possible in my garden. I've been working on a couple of major gardening projects: new raised beds and the building of a new "garden room" (I've tried tried to divide my garden into a series of smaller beds called "rooms" which I design and manage a little at a time) at the side of my house. The raised beds were finished up yesterday and the new room is now ready for planting.

The fun part really gets going today. I'm off to New Leaf Nursery in a bit to start choosing some of the plants that will go into the new raised beds and the room.

But before I head off to Carla's nirvana...let's Span the State!


The Ontario Argus Observer reprinted the assinine David Broder attack on Harry Reid (which prompted unprecedented Democratic unity). Only when the Argus reprinted it, they neglected to note that the author is David Broder. The Argus tends to come across as pretty amateurish compared to most of the papers I check for this weekly missive--but this is weak by even their standard.

Following a week where Oregon Republicans went out of their way to scuttle health insurance for Oregon's kids, the Medford Mail Trib has a front pager on a local clinic who treats patients with no insurance, many of whom are children. The article notes that those with no insurance pay $25 for a visit--and for some this means that the family will be short on groceries that week.

Students from Brookings-Harbor High School are planning a protest against budget cuts for their school. According to the local paper, students and some parents are afraid to go on record about their support for the protest because they're afraid of reprisal from members of the community.

So Gordon Smith failed for three years to secure a county timber payments extension while his party was in total control in DC. Now we have to futz around with it some more because the Republicans in Washington are too busy trying to save the President from self destructing their party.

WalMart is trying to "super-size" its store in the Cottage Grove area. The dustup over the issue appears to be overwhelming the local land use system and generally pissing people off.

Corbett has denied a massive Measure 37 claim. The money quote (so to speak) against the claimants came from a local woman: "Please stop this absolute insanity,” she said. “This seems to be about greed and privilege.” That sentiment seems to follow around many M37 claims.

The paper of record in Madras has a laundry list of how the local school district is fucking up. It makes me wonder how many conservatives are in charge--given that its Madras. Generally when people who don't believe in government are put in charge of government-funded stuff, they screw it up royally. What's going on in Madras would seem to fit that pattern.

Douglas County is considering a a new 911 emergency response system that would reduce the number of dispatches for emergency crews for nonemergencies. Some in the area are unhappy with the proposal because its expensive. No word on whether they've calculated the expense of sending crews out needlessly vs the expense of the new $70,000 program.

Resorts planned for the Metolius River Basin are bumping against the very formidable Senator Ben Westlund, who is sponsoring SB 30. The legislation would prohibit destination resort development within three miles of the Metolius River Basin.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Local Paper Chides Richardson, Who Backs Off

Relying on a commenter to this morning's piece on Richardson at Blue Oregon, and Richardson's apparent statement to the commenter in the last 24 hours, a critical op-ed in the Medford Mail Tribune seems to have at least helped to spur a backtrack in Richardson's tone.

First, yesterday's editorial from the paper closest to Richardson's Central Point base:
Now, there may in fact be those who consider the slaughter of 32 people by a deranged gunman and the passage of bills to treat homosexuals the same as everyone else to be equally tragic events.

Richardson says he "didn't intend to" connect the two.

Unfortunately for Richardson, words speak louder than intentions. And we all remember the old saying about the pavement on the road to Hell.

Richardson represents everyone in his district. Among them undoubtedly are gays and lesbians, some of them in committed, same-sex relationships.

He doesn't have to agree with legislation granting legal protection to those constituents, but he is obligated to treat them with respect.

If his newsletter introduction was intentional, it is reprehensible. If it was inadvertent, it was at best unbelievably clumsy.

If he truly did not intend to link the two events, it would have been a simple matter to move the reference to the gay-rights legislation out of the lead paragraph. Or, better yet, lead with the legislation — because that's what the newsletter is supposed to be about — and put his personal musings about the massacre closer to the end.
I'd say that's about as even-handed as Richardson deserves. Given his history with words and claims, it's being gracious to give him the benefit of the doubt as the Trib's editors say they are. But if Richardson will admit to making a mess of the way he phrased it, he can retain some face. And it seems that's what he's done:
I truly do apologize for the careless lack of sensitivity. I hope you will take the time to read the newsletter and decide for yourself whether or not the context indicates an intent to compare Monday's mass murder at Virginia Tech with Tuesday's unfortunate--in my opinion--political outcome on two legislative bills. (

Most people, who have contacted me with their concern about the newsletter and then have read it in context could see that the opening paragraph was intended to introduce the three separate articles which followed. The Mail Tribune editorialized that I need an Editor. I certainly agree with that suggestion and I wish I could afford to hire one. Right now it is nearly 10:30 p.m. on Friday night and I have just finished this week's newsletter. I still have a 4 hour drive to go home for my week-end visit.

Hopefully, you can understand that I do try to do a good job here in the Legislature. I am only one person and sometimes I make mistakes. To avoid offending I certainly would have composed last week's newsletter differently if I could go back and do so. As it is I can only explain that there was no intention to offend anyone, and try to be more careful in the future. [emph me]
He should put that in his next newsletter, frankly--but I'll accept it as a forced apology and we can move on. Of course, while we move on, I expect Jackson and Josephine County Democrats to work hard to find someone credible to run against Richardson, and to try to raise some real money. If it's a good candidate, we will find the support. And I think this is a situation where the outcry from people like us and BlueO and Goldy at the Huffington Post and McJoan at Daily Kos and Basic Rights Oregon made it hard for Richardson to ignore it. He tried earlier in the week with a blistering response to BRO, but by Saturday he's changed his tune. Good.

Schaufler Bails, Kills M37 Reform by Leg

This is one incredibly frustrating story. A whole lot of the good will and sense of achievement built up during a fantastic session just got a whole lot murkier with the apparent failure of the Democratically controlled legislature to pass ANY meaningful Measure 37 reform, as seemed clear a majority of Oregonians wanted. The Democrats, by dint of one Representative in particular, have decided to punt and in essence make the people prove they want something done.

What else do you call it? That's chickenshit behavior. It's a cop-out, played up as a cautious vote of hope for bipartisanship by Happy Valley Democrat Mike Schaufler (HD48). If Peter Bray at Land Use Watch and Brian Hines of HinesSight have it right, he has singlehandedly killed any attempt at real reform unless a Republican comes aboard on the reform plan.

First of all, telegraphing that is MONUMENTALLY stupid. If your threshhold for a 'Yea' is a bipartisan vote, maybe you tell the Speaker that quetly and let him know they need one from the other side in order to get all 31 Ds. Once it goes public, now you're forcing a Republican into a near suicide move with respect to his caucus. You're almost guaranteeing it won't happen at that point.

But that's all strategy any way. What does this say about Schaufler's vote? Does it reflect any principle other than "the people voted for it 3 years ago?" That's certainly not without weight, but it's helpful if you at least attempt to consider whether they appear to still back it, whether the conditions have proven reform is necessary regardless of what the public thinks, and whether its complexity might require due deliberation rather than a hastily thrown together bill that pretty much punts. Shauffler's saying he won't consider it because a Republican won't vote for it. What kind of nonsense decision rule is that?

Let's take a minute and break that down. When did a bill become the wrong thing to do, just because not one Republican was willing to emerge from behind the iron curtain of Wayne Scott's House Minority Office (go ahead and pick out new carpet and drapes Wayne; you'll be staying a while) and back something the home office didn't want passed? Schaufler is casting the most odious of partisan votes--the vote that validates the partisan strategy of unified-bloc voting by submitting to it. What happened to following the debate and doing what YOU think, Rep. Schaufler? How about making them prove they're against it? What about putting them on the record as being against it, depsite it apparently being at least some version of what most Oregonians want?

If you agree with the premise of the bill, you were supposedly sent to Salem with the idea that you would go ahead and vote for it, so we can move on with whatever the fuck it was and go ahead and DO it. You cannot fairly say you do not know whether voter sentiment is behind you; the hearings yielded "do nothing" testimony from pretty much nobody except the actual claimants, while the rest of it was people saying eine kleine Minute, bitte! The polls, the editorials--if you were really worried about what the public thought, the evidence was there that you had nothing to worry about. I hesitate to draw any firm conclusions from it, but Oregon Forest Industries is a significant contributor, and their interest is certainly with maintenance of M37 in as close to its present form as possible.

The entire process of M37 reform was handled badly, it seems. I did my part from the keyboard, but that was all most of us did. People like Brian and Peter took the time to follow the process very closely--Brian out of necessity, since his home is potentially going to be next to 29 new houses sucking off his water supply if this goes to the ballot. I paid close attention myself while SB505 was bandied about to put a hold on things so reform could be addressed. Once that died and they devolved into sessions without a bill, I moved on to other things. There was never much of a public information campaign by M37 opponents to push the legislators into action beyond the hearings and testimony. This was a golden opportunity to get it done.

And now it seems that now because one guy wants to play roll call with legislation rather than just voting on whether he LIKES it or not, Oregonians now have to re-resolve the question themselves in 17 months, with little more facility for the complexities of the law than they had in 2004. If the evidence is correct and voters do pass the framework, we'll be marginally better off--but we shouldn't have to decide it ourselves again, and we will potentially lose a fair amount of land as claims are rushed through into vestment before the election.

The greatest achievement of this Legislature will surely be the civil unions and anti-discrimination bills soon to become law. The most long lasting and widely-affecting success will be the creation of the rainy day fund. But there was nothing left to do as important as this before sine die (only health care is more important, but that's just not a one-session job and there's not even Democratic consensus on what to do). This had to get done, and that it didn't will surely be the most grave disappointment of the session. I only wish Schaufler had said he would fold like an origami bicycle sooner, so maybe we could have spent more some time on that health care thing, huh?

Friday, April 27, 2007

Surprise! OR Libertarians Augur for More Guns on Campus

The "honeymoon of discretion" where you're not supposed to make any political hay out of a tragedy now apparently over, the rationalizations about causes and cures for the Virginia Tech shootings have begun to roll in. Jumping at the chance to frame the events into their own picture of how society should work, Richard Burke and the Oregon Libertarian Party have released a missive calling for the elimination of "gun-free campuses":
Virginia Tech is one of many educational institutions declared to be so-called “gun-free” zones. In a “gun-free” environment, no student, teacher, administrator, or even security personnel may carry any firearm, even if he or she has legally purchased the firearm and complies with all federal, state, and local laws.

The events at Virginia Tech, Columbine and Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (the shooting of ten Amish schoolgirls) suggest that "gun-free" zones don't work. In these cases, violence might never have occurred, or could have been significantly reduced, if properly trained security guards, teachers, and administrators had been permitted to carry sidearms. Every potential shooter would be aware of the fact that anyone in any part of the school might have the ability to stop him cold. In fact, the knowledge that potential victims have already been disarmed _increases_ the likelihood of violence!

In the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings, some Oregon legislators are calling for tighter gun controls throughout Oregon and on Oregon’s school campuses. LPO members reject this view. Gun control has virtually no effect on crime, but disarms law-abiding citizens who wish to protect themselves. Connecticut, whose population is approximately equal to Oregon’s, has a rate of gun crime similar to that of Oregon,
although Connecticut’s gun-control laws are far more restrictive.

In the interest of our children’s safety, the Libertarian Party of Oregon urges all citizens – and especially parents – to _reject_ legislative proposals for “gun-free” campuses. As the late author Robert Heinlein noted, “An armed society is a polite society.”
Not being afraid to step into the hornet's nest that is 2nd Amendment politics, let me take a moment to critique their contentions:
  • While accurately depicting which kinds of people can't carry guns in most Virginia schools (there is no state law against it; only rules set by the schools themselves), Burke leaves out two fairly major categories of people who can carry them: municipal, county, state and federally sworn officers; and campus police. Referring to "security personnel" is a bit of a dodge; I think he's trying to get people to believe that not even police can carry them.

  • I will endeavor to confirm this concretely with a friend who is campus police at William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA, but unless something has changed in Virginia campus cops are not "security guards;" they are fully deputized police with the equivalent powers of, say, a Williamsburg city cop. So let's not get the idea that the only people who can have a gun on campus are the madmen--they let the police (those that are fully trained under state law to protect people) have them too. (That some colleges may scrimp on budget and hire non-officers to protect their campus instead, is a different issue.)

  • Saying the events of Tech et al suggest that gun-free zones don't "work" is to accept first of all that the testable aim of gun free zones is to protect against mass murders, and secondly that a tragedy such as this can substantively be shown to indicate anything about the efficacy of the policy at all. What if, absent the policy, Va Tech might have had TWO shootings like this in recent history? They hadn't had any murders and only about 25 robberies and aggravated assaults in three years prior to the shootings; who's to say there wouldn't have been more without the policy?

  • Well, clearly that's what LPO is trying to say when they note that "in these cases, violence might never have occurred, or could have been significantly reduced, if properly trained security guards, teachers, and administrators had been permitted to carry sidearms." To which I respond, says who? Concealed-carry advocates are fond of making the claim that states with such laws have experienced drops in violent crime (while admitting an increase in property crimes, a curious outcome), and many cite the work of John Lott's book More Guns, Less Crime, among others. That would be all well and good if it were the last word on the subject, but it's not.

  • In a review of methodology and assumptions writer Robert Ehrlich objects to Lott's conclusions, based on their having been intentionally fit to match the hypothesis. Ehrlich points out the exclusion of figures that show no pattern of reduced violent crime, the lack of full accounting for other variables that affect violent crime, and his manipulation of the rules of scientific significance to project a provable result. (Ehrlich also rebuts Lott's response to his critique, here.)

    In an updated look at the issue post-Tech, Steven Chapman--who favors concealed-carry laws in general--explains where laxity advocates may go wrong:
    I put the question to Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck, who is revered by gun rights supporters for his work on the defensive value of guns. He agrees that an armed student or professor could well have succeeded in stopping the slaughter, but doubts one would have been present.

    "Most people wouldn't carry a gun to a classroom in daytime, because college campuses are very safe," he says. "It's a hassle to carry a gun. It's heavy, it's dangerous, it scares other people, and it puts weird bulges in your clothing."

    Nor is there any assurance that someone with a handgun would have been able to act effectively -- something far easier in theory than in practice. Even police often miss their targets. And it's hard to deter a killer who is seeking his own death, as Cho was.

    All this says nothing about the effect on learning from lots of people sitting in classrooms with lethal ordnance at hand. You don't have to be a gun control fanatic to recognize that putting firearms into a seminar room might cramp the discussion. To think guns belong in every setting is to make a sensible insight -- that they can be useful for self-defense -- into a fetish.

    It may seem obvious that when an atrocity is committed with a gun, we should respond by revising our gun laws. In fact, what we know suggests that if there is a way to prevent mass killings, it will have to be found someplace else.
  • Finally, to Burke's last paragraph, about "protecting the children." The intent here is the same as whenever someone--right or left--invokes the "what about the children?" gambit: to provoke feelings of paternalism that any parent recognizes...wanting to keep one's children safe.

    But there's an interesting conundrum involved in that ploy here. First of all, most people think of "children" as those under 18, which doesn't describe who is hanging out on college campuses (unless you went to school with Steve Novick, I guess). For the "what about the children" angle to make sense, we have to be doing something on behalf of our children they can't do themselves, and yet what LPO is advocating is to allow "our children" to pack heat.

    Obviously, Burke knows that the vast majority of campus denizens are over 18, and in these days of people returning to school or beginning late, more are over 21 as well. I'd agree that certainly 21 year olds can be allowed to conceal-carry if the law permits, but that's precisely because we no longer consider them "children"--and thus it's a pretty cheap ploy to get us all misty-eyed about our grown offspring, who can actually handle themselves without our help, not least by heading to the polls like everybody else and voting. And if Burke wants to argue that they're still developing as adults and aren't truly mature in their parents' eyes, then what the hell is he doing advocating that they start carrying weapons??

    Lastly, it's ironic that Burke chooses to quote Heinlein as the final flying buttress in his canon for the Church of the Armed. Heinlein, as you may know, was a science fiction writer--and given the LPO's rather fanciful and fact-bereft analysis of the situation, maybe it was an apt choice after all.

Shorter Piccolo

Progressives are congenital liars because they have basic reading comprehension skills.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Update: All GOP reps have constituents whose kids have health insurance

This is an update to the piece just below. Just hearing from the House Majority Leader's office with the following press release (emphasis Carla):

House Republicans Vote to Kill Health Care Plan for Oregon Kids

State’s 117,000 uninsured children will continue to live without health care for now

SALEM—After more than four hours of delay, procedural maneuvers, a staged walk-out by House Republicans and a move by one House Republican to refuse to fulfill his Constitutional obligation to vote on the bill, House Republicans voted today to kill the Democrat-backed “Healthy Kids Plan,” which would have extended health care coverage to Oregon’s 117,000 uninsured children.

“This vote wasn’t about policy. It was about politics,” said House Majority Leader Dave Hunt (D-Clackamas County). “Today House Republicans used every trick in the book to delay and avoid taking a vote on an issue of great importance to Oregonians. In the end, they failed our state’s children, choosing partisan politics and the deep pockets of big tobacco over the health and well-being of our kids.”

The vote today came after months of attempts by House Democratic Leadership to negotiate with House Republican Leadership on a bipartisan compromise. When House Republican leadership refused to continue constructive negotiations, three weeks ago, Democrats decided to bring the bill to a vote and debate on the House floor.

Democrats made several amendments to the bill prior to bringing it to a vote in an effort to alleviate concerns raised by House Republicans, such as limiting participation in the program to legal Oregon residents only and dropping the eligibility for the program from 350% of the federal poverty level to 300% to make the program more fiscally sustainable.

“This shouldn’t be a partisan issue,” said State Representative Tina Kotek (D-Portland), Vice-Chair of the House Committee on Health Care. “Oregonians of every stripe find it unacceptable that any Oregon child lacks access to basic health care. The healthy development and academic success of our kids, not to mention the financial stability of their families, should be a high priority for every member of the legislature.”

Democrats say the plan, which be funded by an increase in the state’s tobacco tax, is critical because middle-income, working families are falling through the cracks – they make too much money for their kids to qualify for state and federal health care assistance, but not enough to pay for the skyrocketing costs of private health insurance.

“Republicans who voted today against health care for kids will try to tell you that we don’t need new revenue and Oregonians don’t want new taxes,” said State Representative Mary Nolan (D-Portland). “Put simply: that’s bunk. Over the last two weeks, as part of a statewide series of hearings on the proposed state budget, I have heard from hundreds and hundreds of Oregonians. Not one said, ‘Don’t raise the tobacco tax.’ But each pleaded with the legislature to ease the burden of unbearable health care costs on their families.”

The Healthy Kids Plan was intended to bridge the gap for the children of working families by using a combination of the state’s pooling power and federal matching dollars to make the cost of health insurance more affordable for working families who would be able to purchase coverage on an income-based sliding scale.

The plan also would have provided the added benefit of further funding smoking cessation programs and increasing access to health care, particularly in rural areas.

“The Healthy Kids Plan is a win-win proposal that should have passed,” said State Representative Suzanne Bonamici. “Increasing tobacco taxes deters people from smoking—especially our youth. And when the revenue goes to provide health care for kids, we all benefit.”

“This fight isn’t over,” said Kotek. “Despite today’s vote, our moral obligation to ensure health care for every Oregon child remains. Each day that goes by without this plan in place is a day that Oregon children suffer unnecessarily from treatable and preventable illnesses. The time to act is now.”

Mr. Butts (who made the rounds through the Capitol today) must be so proud of Oregon Republicans.

GOP Rep holds House hostage cuz all his constituents kids have health insurance

Right now in Salem at the Capitol, Representative John Lim (R-Gresham) is refusing to vote on The Healthy Kids Plan, which would provide health insurance for all children in Oregon in exchange for an 84 cent per pack tax on cigarettes.

Debate began on the bill at 10:30 this morning and closed after more than three hours--during which the Republicans through every parliamentary procedure they could muster at the bill. After having completely failed to shut the bill down, debate closed and the bill went up for a vote more than an hour ago.

Voting got underway and came to Lim--who is now in a standoff with the rest of the House by refusing to vote. Lim really has no choice, under the House rules he must vote. I would imagine at some point he'll be in the contempt of the House if he doesn't.

Children First For Oregon has been liveblogging the debate and voting today--check it out over at their blog. The latest entry shows how much Tom Butler (R-Ontario) thinks of the House floor--he's decided that its so beneath his respect that he's going to lay down and take a nap, complete with shoes off and earplugs. Your GOP at work, folks.

Lim's excuse for not voting is that he didn't get to participate in the debate. Interestingly, Lim never placed himself in the queue to debate--which he would have done if he wanted to have his say on the bill. He didn't. This is obviously his way to obstruct passage of the bill.

Lim is the representative from Gresham. It must be safe to assume that all of the kids in Gresham have health insurance and Lim is just representing their best interests rather than the interests of the tobacco companies. Cuz there's no way he'd vote against giving kids in Oregon health insurance....

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Richardson Redux: Scourge of Southern Oregon

The statements made by State Representative Dennis Richardson (R-Central Point) last week about gay rights being exactly the same as the murders at Virginia Tech have rightfully sparked outrage against Richardson.

But this is really just the latest in a long line of bigoted, out-of-whack garbage perpetuated by this Southen Oregon scourge.

Interestingly, Richardson's weekly missives are reprinted over at the conservative blog Oregon Catalyst. This week's was no exception.

Oregon Catalyst is affiliated with Taxpayer's Association of Oregon. Jason Williams of TAO helps to manage the blog, and I asked for his comment on Richardson's latest. This is Jason's email response:

At first when you called and mentioned the story I thought "Oh no another politician exaggerating". But upon reading the story I find that there is nothing in his newsletter that tries to equate the killings to recent marriage/rights legislation.

The headline of the article is about reviewing the week, and Richardson goes about detailing what happened in the week in a magazine style format just like he has for his other newsletters (although I sometimes cut out adjoining articles for brevity). Richardson even says he "will address each issue" and has the issues broken up.

Richardson writes about the Virginia Tech issue not by tying anything in the article to local politics but rather giving a very methodical analysis.

Richardson's review of HB 2007 & SB 2 is quite scholarly and lacks a single sentence that tries to paint his disagreement as a catastrophic or violent event. Rep. Richardson's scholarly style is why I like to feature him.

The lack of public reaction to his article on Catalyst is also a testament to the non-connection. Only two people responded with comments and the solitary negative commenter did so two days after the post. In fact, this article tied (with his boring budget analysis) as the most unresponded story of the year out of his 13 newsletters featured.

There is a lot of dumb things said in the Legislature, including by me, and this is not one of them. Richardson errs more on the bland more than on the exaggeration side, and I think the article bears that out and the lack of response reinforces it.

What utter bullshit.

Errs more on the bland? Seriously?

Richardson babbles on about what a tragic week its been..then cites the VTech shootings and the passing of gay rights legislation in the Oregon legislature with no explanation or transition. Its clear he's equating the two.

Further, Richardson's headline appears to have been changed from the time it was published in the newsletter to the time it appeared on Oregon Catalyst. The newsletter headline reads "A Tragic Week In Review". OC's headline reads: "Rep. Richardson: Legislative Week in Review", yet the verbage of the rest of the newsletter is exactly the same. There's no reference to other news whatsoever. If the context wasn't the same, why change the headline?

Richardson has also published other egregiously irresponsible and ridiculous stuff at OregonCatalyst:

One problem with elevating sexual orientation, “perceived” homosexuality, appearance, expression and behavior to a protected, civil rights status is the uncertainty of enforcement. Current protected classes of civil rights are based on who people are, not what they do.

Martin Luther King Jr.'s niece, Alveta Scott King, expressed the difference when she said, "While I have met many former homosexuals, I have yet to meet a former black." On the other side of the issue, former lesbian, Yvette Schneider, asked the thought provoking question when responding to the issue of special rights based on sexual orientation, "Why should I receive less protection now that I am no longer a lesbian?"

Its entirely possible that this is an accurate quote from King, but oddly the only place I can find it cited is via Richardson and this piece. A google search for Alveta King and the quote yields nothing but links to Richardson's piece here and other sites that link to it too. Bizarre that its so obscure, eh?

And how does Richardson square his stated belief that homosexuality is merely "behavior" and not protected, but is a vociferous champion for religious groups to have freedoms? Since when is the practice of religion not a "behavior"? And do the folks at Taxpayer's Association of Oregon and Oregon Catalyst really back what Richardson is saying in these two posts? Or is it just not enough of an "exaggeration"?

Perhaps when Jason stops ducking--he'll come out and make that clear.

But the fun doesn't stop there. Richardson also proposed giving gays and lesbians 3/5ths of the rights of straight couples, in what he deems a compromise. One wonders when the last time was that Richardson bothered to read anything about the inception of the US Constitution--and its wretched view toward African-Americans.

Then there's Richardson's April 16th House Floor debate in which he accused gays and lesbians of being more likely to commit crimes against children. Richardson's accusations have absolutely no basis in scientific fact, but somehow I doubt that science is this guy's strong suit.

Richardson was also one of the few no votes for HB 2700, which placed requirements for sexual assault victims to be told about the morning after pill and dispense if asked and require insurance plans that offer prescrip drug coverage to provide contraception coverage. Hell, even Sal Esquivel and George Gillman (two Medford conservative GOPers) voted in favor of that bill. Does Central Point really not want birth control to be covered by health insurance with other drugs and for sexual assault victims to not be able to keep the sperm of a sex criminal from fertilizing her egg?

Finally, the Merc covered a tidbit stemming from Richardon's website in which he linked to a PDF file called the "Guide To Family Issues". The document was certainly informative, according to the Merc:

On his website, Richardson links to a document called the "Guide To Family Issues" that offers gems like "homosexuals engage in behaviors that are destructive to them and society" and "prevention, early intervention, and treatment for homosexual behavior, while not always 100 percent effective, does work." Additionally, the document, which Richardson referenced in his response to same-sex marriage, equates homosexuality with pedophilia and sexual abuse. He has also urged his House colleagues to reject any efforts at actual civil unions legislation.

Lovely. Its as if Tony Perkins' lips don't move at all when Richardson speaks.

Its one thing to be conservative. Its quite another to be a bigoted homophobe who works overtime to undermine the lives of citizens who do nothing but love someone who happens to be of their same gender. Dennis Richardson owes all of Oregon an apology for his words--but I doubt we'll get it. Somehow humility and grace don't seem to go hand in hand with people who use this kind of hatred to sow their politics.

DPO, BRO Responses to "Gay Rights Tragedy" Richardson

From the Democratic Party of Oregon, we get a statement that is short and to the point--but a welcome response from state Democrats. Let's hope they're beginning work on finding someone--anyone!--to run against this guy next year...

The Virginia Tech massacre was a tragedy and our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. The equal rights legislation is an historic civil rights victory for Oregon. Representative Richardson’s comments are disgusting and inaccurate.

Meredith Wood Smith
Democratic Party of Oregon

Basic Rights Oregon Interim Exec Director Aisling Coghlan goes a little further:
While our nation mourns the unprecedented loss of life at Virginia Tech, and tries to recover from the enormity of this loss, Rep. Richardson makes a vulgar comparison insulting to not only Oregonians, but to those most deeply impacted by the massacre. For Richardson to say that protecting Oregon families in times of crisis is equivalent to the mass murder of some of the best and brightest America has to offer is beyond extremely distasteful--it is outright abhorrent.

Basic Rights Oregon's thoughts and prayers are with the students, faculty, families and entire school community as they recover from this devastating event at Virginia Tech.

Comments Moderated, Because Someone is Being a Dick

Thanks to the commenter "Ben Dover," and his/her childish enjoyment of posting offensive material in our comments, for the near future we're going to moderate all comments before publishing . Sorry for the inconvenience; at least now you don't have to do the word verification part.

You can test out how it works by leaving comments in this thread, perhaps discussing what a rinky dink asshole Ben is being.

A Hopeful Eulogy for Draft DeFazio

Most readers know that Carla and I led an effort to draw attention to a potential Peter DeFazio run for Senate, and to induce him to consider it. He did not enter the race, which was certainly the better money bet, but we thought it was well worth the try. The I-told-yous are still trickling in (I owe a certain Capitol Hill denizen multiple pints of porter), reminding us of the quixotic nature of it all, and wondering why one who needs to be coaxed into a race is worth coaxing in the first place. I'm not sure that's always true; some people are simply indecisive on such matters, and DeFazio certainly has that history. If he'd declared we'd still be crazy busy, but it was at least very helpful to the race in general that he finalized his decision early in the process.

So we feel a bit like Arlo Guthrie, paying $50 and picking up the garbage, but there are always hidden benefits to negative outcomes. Forgive me for not pursuing the provenance, but a successful man was once asked how he became so successful. He answered, "Experience!" The questioner followed up with, how do you get experience? The success story responded, equally firmly, "Failure!" And thus we bask in the successful experience.

It really was a successful venture, especially in the initial buzz and media interest. Certainly Loaded Orygun is a better known brand name from the press mentions and radio interviews; we can't say we're displeased about that, but of course we didn't do it for the money (we made $20 somebody donated, which is very nice indeed).

And let's review what was substantively accomplished:
  • Draft DeFazio created a nationwide buzz for progressive politics in Oregon.
  • It put more heat on Smith, probably sooner than he wanted/expected.
  • It advertised Smith's vulnerability.
  • It got people active and involved by contributing, distributing fliers, blogging, and word-of-mouth (including some that weren't active before)
  • It certainly created national/statewide momentum that was there for both Novick and DPO to tap into.
  • And we raised some bucks for Pete.
None of that is trivial, but it's not enough. What is great, however, is the group of contacts made and people spurred into action. And once you express your will on the process, however small, it's hard to go back to just sitting and watching it all pass you by without being involved. So I think the donors and people who did actual ground work for Peter should be proud of themselves, and realize that the work isn't done but you CAN make a difference.

Thanks again to everyone who gave their time, money or publicity to the effort to bring DeFazio into the race. It didn't work, but in the meantime Democrats have a solid if lesser-known candidate in the race, and others may well follow. If you did give money, look for an email pointing to a quick 1-question poll on what--if you were willing to suggest, and knowing he can do whatever he wants with it legally--Peter should do with the over $3,500 raised for his Senate run. Stay alert, stay active, and stay committed. It's a big ship to turn around, but we've definitely turned the corner on these disastrous times, I believe.

Watch OPB tonight

The superb Bill Moyers returns to Public Broadcasting tonight with a new show that may turn out to be one of the definitive journalistic pieces on the media and Iraq.

Bill Moyers Journal: Buying the War airs tonight at 9PM on your local OPB station.

Moyers' piece includes interviews with Walter Issacson of CNN, Tim Russert of NBC and Dan Rather, formerly of CBS. It should make for some top shelf reporting on the media's role in the lead up to the Iraq invasion.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Its entirely possible that Phil Stanford was just having a slow period for his twice-weekly column in the Trib. I can understand that. Sometimes there just isn't that much to write about.

But Phil's effort this week to besmirch Portland city government is so haphazardly clumsy that its origination from somewhere in Phil's anal cavity is in stark evidence.

To wit:

Condos for the rich? Not so fast, says South Waterfront developer Homer Williams. … The way he has it penciled in, he says, is that a lot of single moms with children will be able to afford to buy places there because they won’t have to have cars. … Make sense to you? Me neither. … For starters, how are they supposed to go shopping or get their kids to school? … So will someone please tell me why certain members of the City Council, most notably Randy Leonard, keep repeating it as if it did?

Now my kids don't attend school in the Portland Public School system--but don't they have buses? Isn't that how most single parents whose kids don't hoof it (or bike) to school, get there because their parent is generally at work? And according to the South Waterfront development plan, there's going to be grocery shopping,restaurants, child care centers, movie theatres, boutiques, etc "within walking distance".

The affordability of the condos for single parents may be a valid question--but writing it off because these single folks will be under a hardship without a car for groceries is stupid to the monumental degree.

Richardson: Gay Rights, VTech Massacre Similarly Tragic

From the delighfully archaic Rep. Dennis Richardson (HD04), file his latest constituent newsletter under Most Shameless Use of Whiny Hyperbole Ever in History, In Any Universe:
A Tragic Week in Review
This past week has been like no other. On Monday the world witnessed the tragedy at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. On Tuesday Oregon witnessed the passage of Domestic Benefits for same-sex couples (HB 2007) and Civil Rights based on sexual orientation.
I see. So when we talk about grave tragedies, the opportunity for persons of the same sex to bond to each other in love is an unspeakable horror to Richardson, on roughly the same scale as the brutal murder of 33 people. And let's go ahead and pre-empt any weaseling out of this conflation, on the grounds that "I never said they were of the same tragic weight." When you say it was a tragic week and then mention two news items that occurred in that week, you are saying they are both tragic, and tragic enough together to be mentioned together. Otherwise it might say "...and to top it off, last Thursday I had a nasty case of acid reflux, and the Yankees got swept at Fenway over the weekend."

I could come up with any number of adjectives to describe this noxious juxtaposition--such as ignorant, hateful, paranoid, misinformed, calculating, neanderthal or just plain stupid--but let's just stick with "pathetic" and the more relevant "unworthy of an Oregon legislator." Do we really need to stand by and let him call out his colleague's partnership with another woman a tragedy? I say no. Even if you're not an Oregonian--but especially if you are--it's worth taking a moment and dialing up Rep. Richardson's office and telling him what you think of his vomitous characterization:

Session Address:
900 Court St. NE, H-392
Salem, OR 97301

Session Phone:

I'm frankly not sure who this insults more--the victims at Tech or our newly empowered GLBT friends. But it's fucking insulting all right, and I think he needs to answer for it publicly. There's more ridiculousness in the newsletter, such as his totally unsubstantiated claims that:
if violent killers, such as this madman, had no guns available to them, they would accomplish their vicious goals using some other means--explosives, deadly poisons, chemicals or otherwise. Such isolated acts of extreme violence are a sad commentary on the deprived level to which our society has devolved. [I think he means 'depraved'...!]
In Virginia it is illegal for students to be armed on campus; the only person with a gun was the shooter. If the madman had started shooting on a Utah campus, it is likely there would have been fewer casualties, and the shooter’s death would not have been by suicide.
but those are really just run of the mill NRA talking points. Feel free to complain about that too, although there he's really just wrong, not shameful. But gays and their allies should stand up immediately and repudiate Rep. Richardson for even THINKING up something so dumb as to compare a bloody massacre with the recognition of human rights. Do something about it.

Something Nice to Say: Wyden Calls for GSA Chief's Head

Given the hard time we've given Ron and his staff about walking on eggshells around Gordon Smith, it's nice to see that he still has the gumption to go after malfeasance in the Executive Branch. Along with Sen. Dorgan of North Dakota, he's calling for the resignation of General Services Administration head Lurita Alexis Doan, on the basis of allegations that Doan violated the Hatch Act by using appointed civil servants for partisan electoral ends:
Two senators called yesterday for Doan to resign, saying she has "crossed the line" during her 11-month tenure and "misunderstands her role" as leader of the agency.

Sens. Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said Doan politicized the agency, tried to give a no-bid job to a friend, "intervened" in a contract that could cost taxpayers millions and tried to curtail the ability of the agency's auditors to examine contracts.

"In a year she has, again and again, demonstrated that she is not willing to bring the objectivity that is necessary in the management of an agency with this kind of impact on the lives of our taxpayers and the American people," Wyden said at a Capitol Hill news briefing.

In response, Doan's office issued a statement: "The Administrator remains greatly optimistic about the future of the General Services Administration and is humbled and honored to serve the President and the American people in leading this great agency. Her commitment to fiscal discipline and effective government have never been stronger and she looks forward to continuing successes in the days ahead."
See any denial in that quote from Doan? Me neither.

The attention on Doan is part of a larger investigation that questions Karl Rove's involvement in a wide range of partisan activity allegedly occurring in governmental offices, including the now-famous US Attorney firings. In that sense going for Doan likely misses the true culprit, but you build up from the bottom and squeeze people until they give up the names of who gave them the order. Eventually you will get to the head of the snake and can cut it off, but for now it's just great to see the recently-rare bird of oversight flying over Capitol Hill again.

Stupid Democratic Kid Glove Treatments, Redux

Apologies for missing it in Saturday's O until now, but sadly here's more Stockholm Syndrome on Gordon Smith--this time from Mahonia Hall and in far more explicit terms, with much less reason to moderate his expressions:
Kulongoski has worked with Smith since the '90s, when Kulongoski was Oregon's attorney general and Smith was president of the state Senate.

"The reality is that whenever I have called Sen. Smith, he's always answered, and I'm going to continue to do that this next year," he said.

He also praised Smith's image in the state.

"What (Oregonians) tell me more than anything is not about issues. They like him. They think he's a good person."

Kulongoski said Smith will be a "tough opponent" because he is well-financed, and "he's got some very smart people around him." Still, Kulongoski sees a good opportunity for a Democratic challenger.
What. The. Fuck. You know what, Ted? If you're getting calls and letters back from Gordon, let us know your secret--because the rest of us feel like the people in the "dropped call" commercials...hello? Hello? If I had to cut Ron Wyden's Chief of Staff some slack, it'd be that if Smith should win re-election then they'll have to see each other in the halls for another six years. But Kulongoski is under no such burden of propriety.

I mean, what is he doing here? "What (Oregonians) tell me more than anything is not about issues. They like him. They think he's a good person." Is he writing the ads for Gordon? Is he trying to scare challengers off with the "tough opponent" crap, coming back meekly with the "shift in public opinion" line? What on earth is he doing, telling voters to look beyond the substance and merit, to be warmed by a charming, assisted-living-tuned persona? Haven't we learned anything from Sanjaya Malakar?

This is insanity. We know when you really have nothing good to say you talk about what a 'nice person' someone is, but if that was your intent it does NOT come across in a question about whether you, y'know, oppose his re-election. And that's what we're talking about here--you can't really be on board to support a candidate unless you've explained your opposition to the incumbent. Otherwise the presumption is that the incumbent isn't actually worth replacing.

Yes, the comments are buffered with the "but of course I'll support and work for our nominee" language, and I don't doubt any of that's true. Kulongoski was a champ in the last legislative elections, working hard for and being very supportive of the top challengers. (This is about Ted, but I'll lavish the same praise on Wyden: they put their time and money where their mouths are when it comes to supporting Democratic Oregon nominees, and there's no reason to suspect it won't happen again).

But the no lo contendre strategy sacrifices meaningful debate on the altar of feigned bipartisanship and expressions of hopeful comity, and most often leaves the Democrat lying on his ass in the mud, Lucy having pulled the ball away at the last minute. I'm a bad person for being repetitive, but we know it's true and yet can't seem to lurch forward: the longer we delay with false courtesies and flinching leadership, the more sons and daughters will pay for our sloth, and the higher the bill we leave our grandchildren.

And yet most Democrats act like what Harry Reid has done in the last two weeks--finally stopping with the couched language and calling the President out for his behavior--is a sure ticket to political unemployment. The act of simply challenging an opposing senator's record as wanting has become, for fear of Republican browbeating, the equivalent of a full swift-boat smear that they might pull, and thus do Democrats unliterally disarm.

This is not about red meat. It's about reacting to the truth and the danger in letting the obfuscators continue ignoring it to retain any semblance of power. It's about saying "No I will not personally defame Senator Smith, who has given his life for public service--but I will support the Democratic nominee because I don't believe we can continue the road we are on, and Republicans in the Senate are still voting to back the President and his failed policies. The things that Oregonians want for their state and their country, Democrats are showing that they are the party to help make them happen. So yes I do think Senator Smith has to be held accountable for the job he's done, and when voters compare the record I'm sure they'll make the responsible choice."

You don't have to talk bad about his momma. What you do need to say as we move along through the 110th Congress is "I am proudly voting once again to block drilling for oil in our Alaskan preserves...I wish I could say both Senators from Oregon had that full commitment to the environment." Or "I'm proud to see the rest of the country seek to meet Oregon's standards of minimum wage for all workers. I encourage Senator Smith to reconsider his opposition and give everyone what our workers in Oregon rightly enjoy."

I am being SO mild here, to make the point that it's not about rhetoric. Americans aren't afraid that Democrats are going to talk tough and then follow through by firmly challenging the President and his enablers. They're afraid the Democrats are going to make a half-hearted stab at firm rhetoric and then cave under the weight of their own doubting consultants and clueless Beltway pundits. It's not refusing to bomb anything that moves that makes you a pussy--it's failing to stand up when you KNOW you're right, and you won't stop the bully in his tracks and expose him as just that.

Democrats, imagine yourself as James Blunt here, and the amazingly beautiful Petra Nemcova is America. George Bush and his lesser sidekick Gordon Smith have come to kick sand on you. Or rather, George has come to have Karl Rove kick sand for him, and Gordon is there to say "Yeah!" and look well-combed. What's it going to be, James? Look at her! Doesn't she look awesome for being almost 231? And the way she's been treated lately...somebody's got to stop the defilement! You can do it, James! Resist the urge to tell your friends that George and his weasel friend Gordon are actually really nice guys, you just disagree who it is that should be nailing Petr...I mean, celebrating life in America. Speak up, yon metaphoric Democrat and defend her honor!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Ted Goes Food Shopping W/ the Little People Tomorrow

Assuming by now you've heard that Goobernor Ted and his wife will do their own version of a 30 Days episode and live on the equivalent of food stamps for a week, you may be interested in reading about--or witnessing--how that idea will play out in practice:
As part of Oregon Hunger Awareness Week, Governor Kulongoski tomorrow will join a local Salem family for grocery shopping for the week of April 23-29, 2007 based on an average food stamp budget of $21 per person, per week.

The Governor will also discuss with the family the challenges of nutritiously feeding a family off of a food stamp budget and stretching that budget to last an entire month.

Following the grocery shopping trip, the Governor will discuss the link between providing affordable housing and hunger at the 2007 Oregon Housing Conference.

Where: Fred Meyer
3430 Commercial Street SE
Salem, Oregon 97302

When: Tuesday, April 24, 2007
10:00 a.m.
This is a fabulous idea, and not because it's a stunt with a great photo op. It's a challenge anyone can take on in recognition of Hunger Awareness Week, and in fact according to sponsors the Oregon Food Bank, other community leaders will be participating. If you have some free time, put on a wife beater, gym shorts and flip flops, borrow some obnoxious children if you don't have any of your own, head to Fred's and really give Ted and Mary a taste of the grocery life.

Seriously, after tomorrow if you ask Ted how much a gallon of milk costs, I guarantee he won't make the same mistake Ruidy Guiliani did. And take a moment to ask yourself: would Ron Saxton have likely done this? Elections matter. And maybe the Republicans have noticed too, because on the heels of the Governor's announcement two GOP Senators have introduced a bill to allow a couple up to $100 tax credit for donations to a food bank.

Sound good? It is--but of course they wouldn't stop there; it also applies to ANY charitable organization, including, say...churches. Who certainly do good work and are deserving of charity--but if this were simply about hunger, they could have built the bill that way, without making it simply a new blanket $100 tax cut for anyone who was already donating that much to charity each year. I'm not necessarily opposed to the bill, but color me unconvinced that the Republicans are really that concerned about hunger as opposed to another tax break.

Adjust your tin foil hat accordingly

Yesterday, our blogging friend Brian Hines dropped us an email with a fabulously possible conspiracy theory.

The early paper edition of the Sunday Oregonian has an editorial entitled "Find the guts to fix Measure 37". The piece is somewhat scathing. An excerpt:

The battle over property-rights Measure 37 has turned into a tug of war over who inherits Oregon. In the future, will it be "mine" or "ours"?

On one side are 7,500 property owners who have filed private claims under Measure 37 seeking more than $12.6 billion in compensation. They know there's no money, but they want houses, subdivisions, strip malls and other developments on hundreds of thousands of acres of prime farmland and forestland. Many claimants would tell you its not for themselves, of course, but for "my grandchildren".

On the other side are their neighbors and the rest of us, a group that could be loosely described as the Oregon public. This includes thousands of farmers whose livelihoods are threatened by Measure 37-spawned developments, along with millions of other Oregonians who depend on the state's $4.3 billion ag industry.

Yet when Brian (and myself) looked for this editorial in the online edition, its nowhere to be found. I even typed the title of the piece into the paper's search engine and came up dry.

The piece strongly suggests that the legislature needs to get something in place immediately--as time is running out and once these M37 developments get underway, there's no stopping them.

So what gives? Did some big shot Oregonian editor get a call from a pro-37 backer, pushing the editorial from the online edition? Was someone in power at the paper who likes M37 pissed off enough to scrub the editorial? Does the O generally have a splashy editorial in the Sunday paper edition that they omit from the internets tubes?

Enquiring tin foil hat denizens want to know.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Spanning the State--"Batty" Edition

Congressman Greg Walden made a stop last week in his home district town of John Day. This would go as unnoteworthy most of the time, except that the local paper reported something interesting:

Sharon Livingston, a rancher in the Long Creek area, noted that at least five lawsuits are pending over grazing in the region, a trend fueled by environmental groups with deep pockets.
Walden said he favors a "loser pay provision" to curb the onslaught of such lawsuits. Citizens should have the right to reasonable appeals, he said, but the law should be stricter on litigation process.
He noted that the Healthy Forest Restoration Act takes a positive step to address such trends. It provides that parties have to be substantively involved in the planning process to have legal standing in an appeal.
Walden said it drives him "batty" when some group comes in from the outside and stops the implementation of action approved through the local and regional processes.

How ironic, given that the Western Governors Association had already developed a forest management plan prior to Bush and Walden shoving the Luntz named "Healthy Forest Restoration Act" down our throats. The Guvs in the west weren't allowing enough timber cuts, so Bush/Walden stepped in and usurped the locally developed, bipartisan plan and installed their own. Batty is as batty does, eh Greg?

And now, let's get away from Walden hypocrisy for the moment and Span the State!


Many Oregonians may be unaware that there were a large number of Chinese immigrants who came to Oregon starting around the time we became a state. A symposium held in Baker City this weekend seeks to teach locals and others interested in this part of Oregon's history about the cultural heritage of these people.

The paper in Coos Bay conducted a little experiment to see if they could find out how public the records really are when it comes to finding out how much local officials make. Here are their results.

Author and journalist Greg Palast will be in Eugene this Wednesday to peddle his new book Armed Madhouse as well as discuss the probability that the 2008 election for the presidency will again be stolen. Palast's visit will be hosted by friend-to-LO Brian Shaw of KOPT radio.

Rep. Patti Smith (R-Corbett) has her knickers in a twist over the hearings for Measure 37. In a very one-sided piece by the Hood River News, Smith boo-hoos to an unnamed writer that not enough hearings are being held on plans to fix the law. Smith also decries the speed of the process--failing to note that because of M37s own time constraints on local governments, legislators must work quickly. This article probably could have been written faster if they'd just let Smith do it herself. There are no quotes from any of the Democrats working this bill and nothing from any pro-fix-37 figures.

And speaking of M37, Stimson Lumber Company's twenty-one Measure 37 claims are about to come before the Yamhill County Commission. The claims total almost 8,000 acres of forest land--or about 12.5 miles. The company says they plan to turn the acreage into home sites.

This week's Willamette Week Rogue demonstrates something oddly amiss at the paper. Their choice of Rep. Tina Kotek (D-Portland) for allowing the name "civil unions" to be replaced with "domestic partnership" on HB 2007, passed earlier this week. While its arguably a political move on the part of Kotek and Basic Rights Oregon to buffet support for the law should it go to the ballot--it escapes me as to why this is a bad thing. "Domestic partnership" is the same thing as "civil unions". All of the rights and responsibilities are the same. If it makes it easier to uphold passage to change the name cuz it sounds nicer, then why not? Equal rights for gays and lesbians is at issue here--and that should be the focus. There are some in Oregon (in very powerful and well-funded circles) who don't want to see this happen in any way, and they have some sway. These newfangled notions of personal liberty and freedom for all citizens are going to have to be spoon fed to some of our fellow Oregonians. If we have to do it with a little sugar to get it down, so be it.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

In which Lars Larson makes a total ass of himself (again)

So if it were up to Lars, students at Virginia Tech (and presumably every other college campus around the country), would have a loaded firearm strapped to their hip whilst they traipse the hallowed halls of our institutions of higher learning.

As if a crossfire of ammo firing from guns at the hands of frightened college students and teachers wouldn't have probably been the cause of more deaths. Not to mention the fact that the Virginia Tech shooter was a legal carrier of his weapons, despite multiple reports and referrals for his unstable mental health status.

Lars doesn't bother to talk about the failures of the law or the lack of the kind of background check needed to keep the guns out of the hands of such a troubled, disturbed person. Instead, Lars' mendacious answer is just to make sure more people get to needlessly die.

I wish I could say that I'm astonished at the lack of honest, critical thought that makes its way from Lars' cranium to the pixels that he eventually gets published (or the words with which he pollutes the radio airwaves).

This column is the latest in what has become a sadly predictable downward spiral for a once-respected news person.


Friday, April 20, 2007

DeFazio For...Goobernor?

From our friends at KOPT radio in Eugene, this snippet from an interview with Rick Little, in which Little asks whether DeFazio might think about the governor's job in 2010, which will be an open seat...

(hint--he sounds like he's into it)

Please tell me that the Oregon Senate Dems aren't this lame

Updating this piece from yesterday, it would appear that the Senate Rules Cmte is going to take public comment on Monday on all of the Iraq resolutions, save one.

SJM6,SJM 9 and SJM 10 are all on the docket for Monday night for public comment.

In addition, Senate Memorial 1 (which had no online availability yesterday--so check it out now) will also be up for comment. I honestly don't know why they'd even bother with this one. Its a weak-kneed, half-assed, mealy-mouthed, jellyfish piece of trash resolution that demonstrates virtually no outrage about the Iraq War from Oregon's legislature.

Here's the actual stuff the bill asks for in terms of action items:

Be It Resolved by the Senate of the State of Oregon:
(1) The Oregon Senate appreciates the efforts of the last
Congress, which voted in a bipartisan fashion to encourage
significant transition in Iraq.
(2) The Oregon Senate urges the current Congress to exercise
its appropriate constitutional authority to oppose the
administration's escalation of United States forces in Iraq, and
to move the United States toward a phased redeployment of United
States forces out of Iraq with a responsible transition to Iraqi
control of Iraq's security and of the personnel and resources
necessary to achieve stability in Iraq.
(3) The Oregon Senate calls on the administration and Congress
to fully fund all benefits for veterans and their families and to
appropriately care for our brave men and women when they return
from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and from other combat.
(4) The Oregon Senate and the American people will continue to
support and protect the members of the United States Armed Forces
and the Oregon National Guard who are serving or who have served
bravely and honorably in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
(5) A copy of this memorial shall be sent to the President of
the United States, to the Senate Majority Leader, to the Speaker
of the House of Representatives and to each member of the Oregon
Congressional Delegation.

No timeline, no demand for withdrawal as soon as possible, no redeployment, no discussion of de-funding.

This is shameful. And it does nothing to reflect the strong feelings that Oregonians have about getting the US out of Iraq.

Also, HJM 9 seems to have vanished from the Senate's sights, at least in terms of this particular hearing. Its the only bill that's already got House approval.

Unfortunately, the Senate Majority office appears MIA today. TJ left a message over there earlier and I just tried again (both the office and Rem, the chief press dude) and no one is answering.

If SM1 turns out to be the best that a Democratic Senate in an overwhelmingly blue state can do--that's just pathetic.

DeFazio Will Not Run

Without further comment:
Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., said in an interview today that he has decided not to challenge Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore.

DeFazio had been the top choice of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, after a DSCC-commissioned poll showed him ahead of Smith. But the 11-term Congressman chairs a powerful House Transportation subcommittee responsible for doling out hundreds of billions of dollars of highway funding.

DeFazio had initially said in January he would not run, but in the past month he agreed to reconsider. Today's announcement, he said, came after speaking with many people, including colleagues who moved from the House to the Senate.

"I just did not feel that becoming a junior member of the Senate was going to allow me to serve as well and as effectively, particularly in the short term, as my current position," DeFazio said.

The divorce from reality gets body checked

The vigil over at curmudgeon central is being soundly egged on its one year anniversary by the more-than-capable-bow-tied wonder, Charlie Burr.

Despite the fact that Portland is running well in the black and as TJ says in comments to Charlie's post, the city just had its bond rating updated by Moody's Investor Service. Metro in fact has earned the highest bond rating.

So what does the curmudgeon know that Moody's doesn't?

Perhaps the more appropriate question is: What does Moody's know that the curmudgeon doesn't?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Fusion Voting Passes House Cmte

Certainly the most important and long-overdue bills to come out of the Legislature this week are the anti-discrimination and civil unions bills on behalf of our GLBT friends. And can I interject this while I'm on the subject? Hey you thinly veiled bigots on the other side--'T' stands for "transgender," not "transvestite." Eddie Izzard is a guy who dresses like a woman sometimes (although recently he's been spending his time in well-tailored suits as a fake lawyer in the outstanding dramedy The Riches), but that neither makes him gay, nor on the cusp of seeking a penile-ectomy. It makes him a bloke who likes women's clothing, or as he put it in his breakthrough standup performance Dress To Kill, "running, jumping, climbing trees...and putting on makeup when you get up there." So quit worrying about "cross-dressing men entering the ladies' room," OK? It hasn't the first fucking thing to do with gay rights. Settled? Can we move on to fusion voting now? OK.

Anyhow, those are the historic bills that moved through Salem this week, but another one dear to my heart that is also moving positively is the drive to allow fusion voting--a concept with its own rich history. I offered written testimony in support to Diane Rosenbaum's Elections, Ethics and Rules committee when it had its public hearing, and have discussed its benefits here before, in context of the new Working Families Party in Oregon that seeks to mimic its New York inspiration and begin cross endorsing candidates starting in 2008, as parties across the country and especially Oregon routinely did in the late 19th Century.

After yesterday we're one step closer to that goal, as the committee gave a "do-pass" recommendation on a 4-2 vote and sent it on to the Joint Ways and Means Committee, after which it will hopefully get the floor votes needed to make it law. (To be honest, I haven't ever seen any indication that Goobernor Ted is either in favor or opposed, but my guess is if the bill hits his desk he'll sign it). Majority Leader Hunt was absent for the vote, but in a somewhat surprising move (given her rather pestering questions at the hearing) Republican Kim Thatcher also backed the bill. Representatives Berger and Esquivel voted no.

The WFP/Fusion group has set next Monday morning the 23rd as Lobby Day for the bill, where supporters will fan out to Ways and Means offices seeking support. If you want to join them, meet up in the Rotunda of the Capitol at 9:15 AM. Need a ride to Salem? Someone can get you there--send an email to or call 503-841-7161 and ask for David Fink. If you're from Lane County, the WFP is particularly interested in having your support. And if you can't make it, you can still make a call or drop a letter to one of the Ways and Means Members:

Sen. Kurt Schrader, Co-Chair
Rep. Mary Nolan, Co-Chair
Sen. Margaret Carter, Vice-Chair
Rep. Nancy Nathanson, Vice-Chair
Sen. Alan C Bates
Sen. Richard Devlin
Sen. Avel Gordly
Sen. Betsy Johnson
Sen. Frank Morse
Sen. David Nelson
Sen. Joanne Verger
Sen. Ben Westlund
Sen. Doug Whitsett
Sen. Jackie Winters
Rep. David Edwards
Rep. Larry Galizio
Rep. Bill Garrard
Rep. Bruce L Hanna
Rep. Bob Jenson
Rep. Susan Morgan
Rep. Chip Shields

Fusion is a marvelous idea that shifts the voter's paradigm from picking the least of evils selected by members of parties you don't even belong to, to choosing the issues and ideology most important to you and endorsing the candidate who best exemplifies your position on those issues. Should that candidate win, he or she will know exactly who to thank, and what to work on once in office in order to keep those endorsements.

As an example to justify my tangent at the top, if you want a candidate who strongly supports gay rights, you no longer need to simply select the Democrat and hope for the best--you can cross-endorse him or her on a theoretical "Human Rights Party" line and show just how popular gay rights positions are, or you can draft and support your own candidate and draw support from other minor parties and even disaffected Democrats and Republicans tired of being afraid of the spoiler effect. We need all the tools we can get to regain control of our democracy; fusion is a very useful member of that toolbox and deserves to return to the pantheon of Oregon law.