The Oregon Blog
Under grey skies, self-medicating with black coffee

Thursday, May 29, 2003  

Environmental Strategy Talking Point

OPB aired a great story this morning. At issue was a conflict between environmentalists and loggers over whether to harvest timber from last year's Biscuit fire in Southern Oregon. The dispute is typical:

[Logger] Mike Yates: If they just let it sit there and rot, it serves nothing to anybody. All it's gonna do is the first thing it does after a fire is your bugs are gonna move in. Then after the bugs your rodents move in and then you got snakes. All you gonna end up with is a brushy snake patch! That's it!

[Environmentalist] Romain Cooper: And for thousands and thousands of years, fire has burned across the landscape killed trees those trees have been left standing and eventually fallen and contributed to the next forest. And that's the way it works. And to think that we can take em up and everything will be fine and dandy is pure fantasy. Those trees are needed now more than they have ever been.

The battle lines are drawn, right? Logger or environmentalist, which side are you on? In fact, the dichotomy is a false one: the case is an example of the perfect opportunity for healing. More on the solution in a minute. First, let's break down the barriers.

If you read or listen to the whole story, what emerges is that the loggers don't trust the environmentalists. Why should they? From their point of view, the environmentalists' position is that logging is always bad, never mind the science. It's bad when the forest is healthy and it's bad when the forest is burned. And for whatever situation exists, the environmentalists pull out a scientific report to substantiate their position. For decades, environmentalists have marshaled the forces of federal law to defeat efforts to log. The result is a decimated industry and dying towns. So here comes a situation in which a forest has burned down--burned down--and the environmentalists still won't allow timber harvesting. If ever there was an example of the real agenda of these extremists, this is it.

If you read this blog regularly, you're aware of, and probably convinced by, the environmentalists' position: forests are being razed by powerful and greedy multinationals who don't care if the result is that Western Oregon ends up looking like Eastern Oregon. Once the environment is destroyed, it's nearly impossible to fix it, and so this is the most important issue confronting us. It's a shame loggers have to lose their jobs, but we're talking about the larger good here. Environmentalists are generally also quickly convinced by scientific data, so much so that they don't investigate it carefully. Moreover, they hold the pernicious assumption that loggers either don't understand forest ecology or don't care.

[Full disclosure: I share the value that protecting the environment is the most important policy goal in American politics. I'm convinced that we are very close to causing catastrophic harm to our environment, which will make the problems of terrorism look like a bad mosquito year.]

Opportunity for Progress
Environmentalists have made a fundamental mistake in their approach to the environment. They assume--or behave as if they assume--that they know more about forests than loggers. It's an arrogant and stupid assumption, and it has created a mortal enemy of a possible partner. In the OPB article, the environmentalists assert that harvesting the trees will keep the mills open only another year. And the harvesting may well kill off the forest permanently. I can only guess that the environmentalists assume that the loggers are so short-sighted that they'd take the year and lose the forest.

But the loggers hold no such opinion. Screwed by environmentalists so many times, they figure this is just another scam to drive them out of business for good. To assume that they don't value that forest as much (and probably much more) than a Portland barista is absurd. So instead of butting heads, environmentalists need to demonstrate good faith.

The OPB story gave me an idea:

The Forest Service is examining different proposals for managing the fire area from letting nature take its course to doing restoration. Tom Link with the Forest Service says some of the most aggressive work would be done in the areas that used to be tree plantations.

Tom Link: Roughly, about 20,000 acres and about 11,000 of those really burned hot enough to kill most of the trees off. And those, we'd like to get reestablished again.

Replanting will cost a lot though about $30 million and the agency doesn't have the money for that. The timber industry says some could be raised through salvage logging, but environmentalists predict cutting the trees would actually end up costing the government money.

If we're interested in protecting forests, loggers need to be a part of it. We've known for a long time that not logging forests has led to violent and dangerous forest fires. The problem isn't logging--it's clear-cutting. The forest needs loggers, and therefore, environmentalists need loggers. While we (environmentalists) continue to work toward forest protection, we also need to work with loggers to create a sustainable industry. That might well involve incentives to logging companies to reseed burned areas. After all, they're the logical candidates. Imagine how this story would have played out if, instead of telling loggers once again that they have to starve for another season, environmentalists had lobbied congress to create a fund for reseeding burned wilderness. George Bush just allocated $350 billion so that richies could be given a tax cut on the assumption they'll invest. I'll tell you, the ROI on a $30 million forest beats the hell out of that.

It also wouldn't hurt to go to logging communities and ask how they'd like to help with forest preservation. In the 150 years that people have been logging Oregon forests, it's a safe bet they've learned a thing or two. Combining forces so that loggers give a little (embracing sustainable logging) and environmentalists give a little (allowing forest sales to go through more easily) would surely benefit the forests in the long run. If we environmentalists are really willing to do anything to protect the forest, why aren't we partnering with the group who's going to be doing the work?

It's time we started.

posted by Jeff | 9:40 AM |

Wednesday, May 28, 2003  

This seems promising:

An influential senator on Tuesday called for an increase in money for schools, seniors and the state police — and an overhaul of Oregon’s tax system to pay for it.

Sen. Kurt Schrader, co-chairman of Ways and Means, the Legislature’s budget writing committee, presented a blueprint worth about $1.2 billion more than the one he and co-chairman Randy Miller, R-West Linn, presented in April. Schrader’s proposal could cost as much as $2 billion more than the $10.4 billion lawmakers have to make a two-year budget beginning July 1....

Specifically, Schrader’s plan would institute a “consumption tax” on businesses that gross more than $100,000 per year. Instead of paying a set income tax on money earned, businesses would pay a tax on each transaction.

| link |

I heard about this on the radio this morning, with similarly skimpy info. My guess is that businesses are taxed (and assessed fees) randomly and arbitrarily. (Example: we pay squat in property taxes for our NE Portland home, which had an assessed value of squat when Measure 50 [?] passed. Now the house is worth more than squat, but our taxes have increased only 3% per year. At the moment, I believe we pay around $900 in property taxes.) Schrader's plan seems on the surface like one that might deal with the randomness of the tax code. Anyone know if that's true?

posted by Jeff | 9:53 AM |

Aside from having been filmed in Portland, what do the Temp, the Hunted, and Body of Evidence have in common? Right--none of them won the Palme D'Or at Cannes.

Congratulations, Gus!

posted by Jeff | 9:19 AM |

Monday, May 26, 2003  

Just spent the weekend in Seattle, where I went to a going-away party for a friend. Great for her, but not quite as good for me. Ah well.

I had the opportunity to visit Elysian Brewing, which is in possession of wonderful ambiance and style, and one hell of a brewer (Dick Cantwell). If ever you're in Seattle, get ye straight to Elysian and wait not to quaff the beer. (They had the best pilsner I've had since the old Tony Gomes Saxer Pilsner, a really nice stout--thich, creamy, but not cloying--and absolutely the best barleywine I've ever had. It was fully aged and bone dry--mmmmm.)

But more interesting even than that (which is saying something), was the conversation we had at the party yesterday. In almost every case, the conversation led to politics--quickly or slowly, directly or tangentially. As you probably know, Washington politics look remarkably like Oregon's (all the same villians are there, they just have different names).

Although it was an educated, lefty crowd, there was a fairly broad diversity of lives and lifestyles. I did happen to run into a staffer for a King County Councilor (Larry Philips, if you know city politics), so of course that was political (and fascinating). But there were teachers, lawyers, a guy who works for Wizards of the Coast, musicians, software folk, house husbands and wives. Still, the conversations turned to politics.

I've always been a political wonk, and this hasn't always been the case. I no longer get glassy-eyed stares and that slow recoil if I get off on the subject. People now lean in and talk louder. Things are a'simmerin, folks. Pretty soon, it's going to be a full boil.

It's about time.

posted by Jeff | 3:00 PM |

Friday, May 23, 2003  

I'm lame. Next week, I hope to be less so.

posted by Jeff | 8:42 PM |

Wednesday, May 21, 2003  

And finally, there have been reports lately about how beer distributors are trying to circumvent Oregon's cherished (and now somewhat feeble and outdated) bottle bill. This risks enraging people so seriously that they decide to go for the 1300% increase on the beer tax.

Whoa, there!

Beer distributors and beer producers ain't the same mug o' suds. The beer tax would hit the brewers, and the brewers only (they're the producers). But it's the distributors who are looking to dodge the bottle bill. These are the guys who back their trucks up to the brewery, load the beer in, drive it across town, and sell it--at twice the price they paid for it ten minutes earlier--at the pubs and grocery stores.

And the distributors can't afford this whole recycling thing? I tell ya what, let's raise the beer tax by 1300%, but let all Oregon breweries distibute their own beer without fetter. And then throw the distributors in the pokey for insubordination and slandering the goodname of beer.

posted by Jeff | 7:07 PM |

Also from the Willamette Week:

Number of people crushed in dump trucks in Portland since 1988: 16-18.

Number killed: 8.


posted by Jeff | 6:58 PM |

From the Willamette Week:

Rent A Negro.

Why not buy?
As we all know, the purchase of African Americans was outlawed many years ago. As times have changed the need for black people in your life has changed but not diminished. The presence of black people in your life can advance business and social reputation. These days those who claim black friends and colleagues are on the cutting edge of social and political trends. As our country strives to incorporate the faces of African.

How do I rent a negro?
It's simple. Just fill out and submit the Rental Request. Within 2-3 weeks you will receive a rental agreement and price quote. Then just submit your deposit and plan your event. Simple tip: Submit your rental request with rent-a-negro before you finalize your event date. Make sure she's available!

posted by Jeff | 6:51 PM |

Tuesday, May 20, 2003  

I think part of the reason I post randomly and not at all reliably is because Oregon politics are so depressing that the less time I think about them the better. National politics are equally grim, but somehow Bush's activism inspires me, whereas the black hole in Salem is uniquely enervating.

So it is with delight that I offer you this: the Total Information Awareness System has been resurrected! The Pentagon, cleverly, has renamed it the Terrrorism Information Awareness System. Completely immune to irony, DARPA (the creepy arm of the Pentagon) discussed the name change.

The old name "created in some minds the impression that TIA was a system to be used for developing dossiers on U.S. citizens. That is not DoD's (the Department of Defense's) intent," DARPA said.

The goal is "to protect U.S. citizens by detecting and defeating foreign terrorist threats before an attack" and the new name was chosen "to make this objective absolutely clear."

So what's all this have to do with Oregon, you ask? Isn't this just slop-over from your damn national blog which you coddle and pamper while your Oregon Blog withers, you accuse. No! Because while this is indeed dastardly business, our very own Ron Wyden is playing Josef K. to DARPA's madness:

"What most Americans don't know is that the laws that protect consumer privacy don't apply when the data gets into the government's hands," Wyden said in an interview. "Lawfully collected information can include anything, medical records, travel, credit card and financial data."

Wyden and Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Russell Feingold, D-Wis., vowed to retain tight congressional control of the data-mining and analysis software being developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA.

Go, Ron, go! Remind them that despite the spectacle of us Dixifying our own fair state, Oregonians still know a thing or two about protecting civil liberties! We may not have schools, but we have guns, and by gum, we're prepared to use them if the gov'ment tries to get its mitts on information about our hemorrhoids!

(All right, I've gone around the bend...)

posted by Jeff | 6:35 PM |

I guess the most important word for the day is: vote.

I haven't, and so I'll have to take my own advice. It appears the ballots are pouring and it looks like measure 26-48 will pass. Still, whether it does or not, the really big issues confronting Oregonians remain. (If it does pass, tomorrow's words of the day will be: sales tax.)

[Update: Measure 26-48 passed, as did a similar measure in Beaverton, and one in Wallowa County. The success was such that last night on the local TV, reporters hinted that our timid governor may be putting taxes back on the table. Will wonders never cease?]

posted by Jeff | 11:28 AM |

Sunday, May 18, 2003  

In the NY Times, an article about Teddy Roosevelt's missing time capsule, planted somewhere in Portland during a 1903 visit. (It includes a slide show.)

President Roosevelt used a silver trowel with an ivory handle to blanket the box with concrete on May 21, 1903, before he sealed it in a block of granite and ordered several workmen to lower the granite into the ground, according to newspaper accounts.

The Oregonian published a list of the box's contents the day after Roosevelt's visit.

"This sealed copper enclosure contains historical material illustrative of history, life and progress of the region explored by Lewis and Clark," a professor named F. G. Young, who attended the ceremony, was quoted as saying. "Perchance," Professor Young continued, "it may give light to a remote posterity on an age then long past."

The cache included wood from an Oregon fir used to build a Spanish war vessel, the Reina Christina; a 2-cent stamp; pennies made from 1900 to 1903; the Portland city charter; the 29th annual report of the public schools of Portland; a piece of rock salt; and a portrait of Roosevelt.

posted by Jeff | 6:46 PM |

Friday, May 16, 2003  

Refusal to raise taxes is irresponsible

First, the bad news:

OREGONIAN--Oregon's sour economy blew another huge hole in the state budget Thursday as lawmakers learned they will have about $634 million less to spend than they thought only two months ago.

Now, the worse news:

Government has to live within its means. I'm not going to ask the Legislature, and I'm not going to ask the citizens of Oregon to raise taxes. (Governor Kulongoski)

It was bad strategy to take taxes off the table before you even took office, Ted, but it's almost criminal to avoid considering them now. You want responsibility? Let me ask you this--would a responsible business let itself go bankrupt before it raised its prices? That's essentially the situation Oregon's in now. The cuts have been so deep and so drastic that they're now mushrooming by factors because of the irresponsibility of Oregon's leaders in not raising taxes.

Here's one example. A quarter of the state's revenue comes from the feds (actually, it's probably a lot higher now that the revenue's sinking like a stone). Some of that money has strings attached. Although I can't identify the exact pot, there's a certain amount of federal funding that is devoted to a service provided by the Department of Human Services. Like dollars for education, this stream of money is tied to levels of service the state's expected to maintain. Due to hiring freezes, staff cuts, and other revenue losses, this particular arm of DHS is not only not improving in this area (which the feds have demanded), it's falling behind. And word out this week is that the feds may pull their funding.

Other examples abound, whether they be lawsuits against the state for failure to provide services, or the costs the state passes on in crime when it's forced to run a short-handed police force and judiciary. (And on and on.)

These are not optional costs, they're expenses the state will have to pick up. By failing to account for them in revenue, the state's going to end up having to pay two or three or four times as much when other funding streams dry up, or when the costs escalate due to neglect. The long-term effect of this mismanagement is going to be one very steep bill.

Oregon can't go bankrupt. Eventually this will have to be addressed. Kulongoski and the legislature have simply been irresponsible in avoiding handling this up front. It just kills me to have to keep writing this over and over. When are they gonna get it?

posted by Jeff | 3:10 PM |

Thursday, May 15, 2003  

Not to put too fine a point on it, but...

Alexander wrote in the comments below, "If this is what liberalism stands for, then I think our two parties are not as far apart as you may think." To which I say, welcome to liberalism.

Although I don't think Alexander's actually writing a testimonial to the power of the positive, liberal agenda, I can't help but be heartened by it. In fact, I'm pretty mundanely drumming out an old beat. Classic liberalism is positive, and there's a reason why those policies brought about the era of greatest wealth production and distribution in the history of the country. (And along with it, concomitant benefits like civil rights, the race to the moon, social security, medicare and medicaid, welfare, and on and on. Nor is it surprising that all of these initiatives have, since conservative "morality" has held sway, begun to crumble, even while the middle class and poor languish or get poorer.) And all of that happened during the cold war, when the US was under far greater threat of destruction than it is now.

Politics and political discourse at the dawn of the third millenium is so nasty it borders on the violent. If this isn't enough proof of a prevailing pessimism, I don't know what to offer. And this pernicious cancer of rhetoric--from which wing of politics did it issue? Not the left. Turn on the radio or TV and measure the heat of the dialogue. Conservatives are the ones who want to verbally firebomb the left. Why? Because negative works to the conservative advantage: it promotes the fear that causes people to turn to safety and comfort.

Liberal: 1. given freely; ample, abundant. 3. open-minded, not prejudiced. 6a. favoring indvidiual liberty, free trade, and moderate political and social reform.

conservative: 1. averse to rapid change. 2. moderate, cautious. 3. promoting free enterprise and private ownership.

(Entries from Oxford)

The entire American experiment is a triumph of liberalism. The US Constitution and, particularly, the Bill of Rights are great liberal documents. They express the belief in the goodness of humans and their right to self-determination; they espouse a political philosophy generous to the people. This is the heart of American politics. Every few generations, the country slides back into prejudice and fear, but so far, the spirit of liberal democracy has risen up to meet the challenge. This is a process always led by the left, necessarily, as an antidote to the stasis and narrow-mindedness of conservatives.

It's clearly time for the change again in America. The question is: are the Democrats ready to hear the call?

posted by Jeff | 6:41 PM |

Wednesday, May 14, 2003  

Emma’s Three-Point Strategy for the left

[Note: I published this originally over on "Notes on the Atrocities." Though I'm generally loth to double-post, I thought it might be worth putting it up here. After all--politics are local, right? Apologies to anyone who's seen it.]

I’ve discussed the problem; here’s the solution. (Not that I have a savior complex or anything. Just call me Jesus.)

1. Win back political “morality.” From FDR until the mid-70s, the left controlled the morality—the secular faith—of politics. The instrument was good, old-fashioned liberalism. (That is, the “political theory founded on the natural goodness of humans and the autonomy of the individual and favoring civil and political liberties, government by law with the consent of the governed, and protection from arbitrary authority”). But the actual “faith” was belief in a better future.

The Democrats completely lost this morality during the Reagan years, and have remained befuddled since. What they miss is that the Republican faith is based on the sense that the future is a dark and dangerous place. Within this context, the only progress is a regression to a fictive Frank Capra America. Once the Democrats accepted the new faith, it was hard for them not to cede vast areas of policy to the right because in a morality based on fear, the Grand Old Party has all the answers.

(This is obviously not new ground—but evidence abounds that it’s forgotten ground. Never have the left been more hang-dog low than now, and so it’s difficult for them to see a better tomorrow. But that’s what liberalism is founded on. If there really is no hope that liberalism can make a better future, there’s no point in leftist politics.)

2. Lead with positives. The image of the left is a sour-faced Tom Daschle complaining bitterly about a popular president. Or worse, of an Al Gore, in the midst of a booming economy, identifying the “poor” and discussing how he planned to save them. The left holds the trump card on speaking positively because it actually holds the value (rather than just speaking the rhetoric) of benefiting the majority. But instead of giving America a big, positive picture, it’s tried to compete with the right in scaring the electorate into voting Democrat. Which of course sends the inevitable mixed message, because the mechanism of change is liberalism. But when the electorate is scared, they want Frank Capra, not George Jetson.

The Dems have gotten trapped in the habit of saying they speak for America, but then defining their constituency in a manner few Americans can identify with. By leading with the vision of a hopeful future, the majority then become the “we” in the language of the left. This is the positive message Democrats want to send, and it is inclusive, not divisive. And finally—

3. Craft a coherent platform of policy that always underscores the first two points. Democratic policies are seen as failures because they inadequately address the defined needs of the Republican moral universe. Of course they do. Democratic policies aren’t designed to return people to a safe, distant past—they lead to an unknown future. As long as the right controls the debate on secular faith, the future will seem like a frightening descent into chaos, and leftist policy will be seen to hasten the process.

This is where Clinton did the Dems wrong: he ceded the morality question to the Republicans, but adopted quasi-liberal (or new, unanticipated conservative) policies to meet them. For example, he agreed that welfare was a failure (it was). But where he could have characterized it as a failure of execution, not morality, he let the right dictate the terms of the debate and the solution. Ten years later, the Dems have painted themselves into a corner and can’t see a way out, because all of the political landscape has now been ceded to the right.

So what does the platform look like? An example: environmentalism. The left can’t understand why this isn’t a winning position. It’s because the issue is seen as not representing the “mainstream”—by which we mean it doesn’t seem in synch with the values of Frank Capra’s America. You have hippies blowing up log trucks and an “activist” government getting in the way of people’s wish to farm, ranch, build homes, log, fish, and so on.

So, flip the terms of the debate. America is rich in ecological treasures: through proper management, they can benefit so many more people. If the Dems go out and speak to those people who farm and ranch and log and fish, they'll find a group of people who, in the main, are interested in protecting the environment. Instead of demonizing a logger, hail him as a the great hard-working American he is. Then back it up by putting into place incentives to mills to switch their equipment so that it’s calibrated for second-growth logs. Add other incentives to harvest selectively. Now you’ve helped the forest, the economy, and the logger, and you’ve shown a way to a better tomorrow.

The point is: don't even bother arguing with the Republicans. A successful strategy is in going directly to the people with the coherent message of hopeful liberalism. Americans want safety, health, and prosperity. The Dems have real solutions to fix these problems.

They must lead on this point—Americans have had no reason to think the Democrats can craft policies for a better future, because the Democrats haven’t given them any indication they know what it looks like. The only successful strategy is in abandoning the old, let’s-go-back-to-the-good-‘ol-days model and offering a hopeful one. Then they can present genuinely beneficial solutions.

posted by Jeff | 6:48 PM |

In the world of beer

In both the Oregonian and the Willamette Week today, reports that Henry Weinhard's is coming home:

"Miller Brewing Co., the current caretaker of the Blitz/ Weinhard legend, has signed a long-term agreement with Full Sail Brewery's Hood River facility to brew Weinhard's Hefeweizen, Northwest Trail Blonde Lager and Amber Light. Henry's Private Reserve will continue to be produced at Miller's behemoth brewery in Los Angeles."

This is great news for Full Sail (my fave Oregon brewer, and the state's only employee-owned brewery), who have a massive brewery and only make enough beer to use about a quarter of its capacity (based on my distant and now out-of-date calculations). It keeps them in business, and it brings at least part of Hank's back home. I haven't bought a sixer of Henry's since it went North (and by the way, changed the recipes) out of pique. This warms the heart.

Also, I meant to mention a couple of breweries I visited when I went south. First is the Roseburg Station, which is one star in the McMenamin constellation. But not all McPubs are made equally. I test drove the ESB and Terminator for, as I told the barkeep, you can always judge a McBrewer by his stout. Roseburg’s? Excellent. Thick, creamy, and robust, but not treacly. The ESB told me more. It was a traditional English-style ESB, with strong caramel legs and a round hopping. A knowledgeable brewer with a deft touch who’s not afraid to make a big, challenging beer. (I’d prefer a stopover there to Rice Hill any day.)

Last, Ashland’s Standing Stone Brewery. If you’ve been to Ashland, you know that the bar for food is very high (easily competing with cities ten times its size). It’s not surprising, then, that the food’s great. It’s also on the cheaper side, which is important to know—Ashland’s short on cheap eats. Unfortunately, the beer’s not up to the same standard. We had an IPA, a nut brown, and a stout (might have been a porter). They were all pedestrian affairs, a bit too tannic, and a bit too phenolic (that’s the banana-y flavor that’s coveted in some German wheats, but not in English-style beers). Ah well, I guess it’s not the end of the world: Ashland’s got just about everything else.

posted by Jeff | 6:42 PM |

Sunday, May 11, 2003  

Spinning Bonehead

David Reinhard, last week:

"A more up-to-date photo might not have led to breathless news stories of an Arab-American victimized in the dark night of post-Sept. 11 America or the truly gaudy commentary that likened U.S. law-enforcement agencies to the Gestapo and 'Mike' to the 'disappeared' of Latin America or the Jews of Hitler's Germany. ('First, they came for . . . .') A more up-to-date photo might have offered just a small clue about why the Joint Terrorism Task Force was interested in 'Mike' in the first place. A more up-to-date photo might have led Mike's friends to stop being co-conspirators in their own self-deception."

David Reinhard, today:

"I can understand sticking by a friend. What I can't understand is Hawash's friends' hostility to the government after reading the criminal complaint, or their absolute belief in old Mike. Have they ever known a criminal? Did they know beforehand that the person was committing crimes? It's been my experience that criminals don't announce their crimes to the world. I can't imagine Hawash would have announced to his old friends that he was committed to jihad, especially after Sept. 11.

"I notice that most of his friends who are now writing focus on the beard issue -- and either misstate or misread my point -- but don't ever answer the questions I raised in the column or my replies to their e-mails. Did he tell them about his trip to western China? Did he tell them about the guys he met there after they were arrested and accused of being jihadists? Wouldn't you mention it if you had just stumbled upon some local jihadists in some remote area of China?"

Once again foks: David Reinhard, bonehead.

It's fortunate that as one of the mouthpieces for the apologist right, Reinhard's words are available on-line. It makes it harder for him to shrink from them. Because in fact, the only one talking about appearances was Reinhard. His article was an apologia for a practice he dared not mention: material witness statute. Instead, he tried to focus on the superficialities of Hawash's supporters: that they used the name Mike rather than Maher; that they used a photo sans beard rather than the thuggish mug shot the feds released. But what Reinhard refused to acknowledge was the argument of the Hawash (and Constitution) defenders: that the material witness statute, used to imprison a US citizen without charge, was a gross violation of any reading of the sixth amendment.

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

It was Reinhard who played the race/creed card, not those alarmed by Hawash's imprisonment. It was Reinhard who refused to address the matter at hand. And it was Reinhard who, predictably, failed to recognize his own prejudice.

posted by Jeff | 9:59 AM |

Saturday, May 10, 2003  

And now to sports.

Last week, Trader Bob was finally shown the door. (Or was he? Dwight Jaynes wonders.) This may be regarded as good news by anyone living in Oregon (sports fan or not). Now there's at least a little hope of the constant bad press about the "Jail Blazers" ending.

The other big issue in the papers is the House's passage of funding for Major League Baseball to come to Portland. You'll no doubt be shocked--shocked!-- to learn I'm against it. Not that it matters a hill of beans in this crazy world, but I am. Baseball fans can quit reading. Fence sitters, this blog's for you.

1. The ROI is dubious at best. As I understand it, there are economic studies on both sides of this issue--it might be an economic boon, might be a bust. I think this has to do mainly with the "intangibles" being so hard to measur. (Does that clothes maker decide to move his business to town instead of Spokane if we have a ball club?) But even if there is a demonstrable benefit sometimes, it's obviously an individual one. The Detroit Tigers do not benefit their city like the Mariners benefit Seattle. It's a gamble no matter what the studies say.

2. Why are citizens paying for this? Unlike offering tax breaks to a company like Intel or Columbia Sportswear, companies that provide clear benefit in terms of good jobs and tax dollars, MLB benefit mainly owners. Baseball is a legal monopoly, and a rainmaker. The competition's completely controlled, and the variables are predictable. If you can't make a buck in baseball, you don't deserve a team, much less public funds.

3. The Jail Blazers phenomenon demonstrates a clear downside to pro sports. Far from offering prestige, a team can as easily give the host city a black eye. And the rub is that although the team bears the city's name, and the owner expects the city to pay up-front for a stadium, the public have no control over the image of the team. Nor, for that matter, any control whatsoever. If the team wishes to charge fans pay-per-view to wach the games on TV (sound familiar?), it can, even if the fans are paying off the stadium themselves. If the team has an absentee manager who works against the ethos of the city, it can. Funding a facility for a pro ball club with public funds is the quintessential pig in a poke.

4. (Bonus reason--no extra charge!) Oregon sends the wrong message by funding baseball for rich owners and players while cutting it for its high school students. (I know, they're different pots of money, but come on.)

posted by Jeff | 11:06 PM |

A lot of bloggers have done the "what I'm reading" thing, which I always appreciate. For some reason, I've heretofore eschewed the practice. No more.

What I'm reading

Mac Diva has a couple of threads going that are worth checking out, and ones I haven't been able to follow closely. On Silver Rights, a nascent exploration of the Portland police shootingof a 21-year-old black woman. At Mac-a-ro-nies (the sister site), a very long exploration, woven in with comments from other blogs, of the issue from a slightly different angle.

Big Air Fred is one of the best bloggers around, and he keeps the topics close to home. (He shakes, he bakes, he even reviews movies.) Currently, a detailed exploration (in four parts) of schools.

The Portland Communique now has b!x's attention again, and is a fascinating read. B!x is one of the few bloggers with original journalism and even if you're reading this from Ontario (I mean Oregon, for any wayward Canucks also reading) it's worth stopping by. There's an excavation of a mayoral recall effort, insidery news about the mayor and city council, and (of particular interest to me), a post on the (feeble) effort by Oregonlive to blog. And that's just the last couple days.

Unfortunately, Jack Bogdanski is on vacation.

posted by Jeff | 10:48 PM |

Friday, May 09, 2003  

Where's the Green Party?

This can't be good. I just skated over to the Pacific Greens website, and their most recent statement is from last September. The Greens can play an important role in Oregon politics, but only if they're actually in Oregon politics. Surely they might hazard and opinion on, say, the Oregon budget crisis? Come on, guys...

posted by Jeff | 9:48 AM |

Wednesday, May 07, 2003  

Ding dong, the witch is dead!

Whitsitt Resigns.

posted by Jeff | 1:23 PM |

Does anyone know of an insightful, intelligent conservative Oregon blogger? I'm looking for one.

posted by Jeff | 11:02 AM |

Good policy or good business?

Yesterday I wrote, "Planning and constructing a community that supports the benefit of the population rather than the interests of a few businesses seems to result in a community where—counter-intuitively—businesses flourish."

At the same time, the Oregonian published this story:

"Elected officials are crying foul over a legislator's attempt to grant a favor for a small group of constituents by moving the region's urban growth boundary.

"House Bill 3084, introduced by Rep. Jerry Krummel, R-Wilsonville, has already passed the Oregon House and is awaiting a possible hearing in the Senate.

T"he bill applies to only eight property owners and a total of 520 acres immediately north of the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility. The residents include Larry Eaton, who buried 11 school buses upright in his lawn to protest the area's lack of a zoning change when the prison was built.

"If approved by the Senate and signed by the governor, the bill would tweak the growth boundary by moving it 660 feet north of Southwest Clay Street to include the neighbors within the boundary, achieving their first step toward getting the land rezoned for industrial uses so they can sell their property and move."

And on Monday, Harry Esteve was following this story:

"House Bill 3408 doesn't name names, but the secret's out on who stands to benefit.

"The bill carefully defines a swath of farmland and forestland, then exempts it from Oregon's 30-year-old land-use planning system.

"If passed, it would allow the unnamed owners to subdivide and develop about 400 acres set aside for agriculture and timber. The land's value would skyrocket....

"There's a bill to sidestep years of planning by Metro and, by unprecedented legislative fiat, move a disputed piece of land between Wilsonville and Tualatin into the urban growth boundary.

"There's a bill to override land-use law and allow construction of a restaurant on farmland adjacent to a golf course. And there's a similar one to allow homes on farmland near another golf course.

"Spawned out of frustration with Oregon's land-use controls, each bill seeks a waiver unattainable by hundreds of other landowners who want similar zoning changes."

Nice to see that certain legislators are using the Oregon fiscal crisis as an opportunity to offer sweetheart deals to their buddies. They use the language of laissez faire, but the only beneficiaries are a few friends. There's no benefit to either those inside the urban growth boundary or outside, no benefit in terms of jobs, tax dollars, or boost to the economy. In fact, the balance sheet looks pretty bad: the only winners are the owners who profit off the change in land-use zoning.

But when the question is the public interest, the public has a right to know: how will it improve the community? If the legislators promoting these laws can't answer that, they deserve a veto from the governor.

posted by Jeff | 8:56 AM |

David Reinhard, Bonehead

I suppose some mention of Reinhard's recent idiocy should be made.

"Funny, the 'Free Mike Hawash' Web site doesn't feature the photo of Maher 'Mike' Hawash that we've all seen in recent days. No, the Web site's 'Mike' Hawash is clean-shaven. The Maher 'Mike' Hawash of more recent vintage sported a long Islamic beard.

"Then, again, a more up-to-date photo of 'Mike' might have undercut the impression that good old All-American 'Mike' was just one more innocent caught up in Attorney General John Ashcroft's dragnet. A more up-to-date photo might not have led to breathless news stories of an Arab-American victimized in the dark night of post-Sept. 11 America or the truly gaudy commentary that likened U.S. law-enforcement agencies to the Gestapo and 'Mike' to the 'disappeared' of Latin America or the Jews of Hitler's Germany. ('First, they came for . . . .') A more up-to-date photo might have offered just a small clue about why the Joint Terrorism Task Force was interested in 'Mike' in the first place. A more up-to-date photo might have led Mike's friends to stop being co-conspirators in their own self-deception."

It hardly bears comment (which won't stop me). In very clear language, Reinhard has made the case that the government's investigation of Maher Hawash is justified by how he looks. One can imagine that Reinhard would have been an apologist for black lynchings in the 20s or for Japanese-American jailings in the 40s or for Joe McCarthy in the 50s. Now he's the associate editor of the Oregonian.

Of course, it's almost too obvious to note that Reinhard clearly holds a presumption of guilt based on race. It's almost too obvious to point out that if this were a white man--or God forbid, a Republican white man--Reinhard would be screaming bloody murder. What's less obvious is why this racist bonehead has a job at the Oregonian. If he were a politician, he'd be given the Santorum treatment. If he were a coach, he'd be given the Mike Price treatment. But he's an associate editor, so he'll be given no treatment--or possibly, the cuddling caress of the Public Apologist.

Surely there's one conservative out there who can write political commentary and who's not a flaming racist. The Big O needs to find one, and quick.

posted by Jeff | 8:32 AM |

Tuesday, May 06, 2003  

A tale of two cities

My sojourn over the past week or so took me to Roseburg (four days) and Ashland (four days) with an afternoon stop in Medford. It's always an interesting thing for those of us from the big city to get out and see the state, and so it was for me.

As a bit of deep history, I learned that Southern Oregon was principally founded by rural southerners who were headed west in search (mainly) of gold. This distinguishes it from the Willamette Valley and Eastern Oregon, where it was mainly Midwest and New England farmers who were also lured by the wealth of the soil. Anyone who's dimly aware of Oregon politics has seen how this has played out over the course of time: New England Willamette valley is a reserved, ordered place, characterized by interest in planning and collectivism. Across the mountains, the attitude is more like the Rocky Mountain states, where individualism and self-reliance defines one's behavior. In the southern valleys, though, the view is isolationist and deeply suspicious of power structures. Here the far, far left hippie ethos blends with the far, far right libertarian.

What was quite fascinating is to see the contrast between Medford and Ashland. The only time I visited Ashland previously was to go to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and then I camped in a tent. This time we stayed the delightful Ashland Springs Hotel (which was, when it was built to its full height of nines stories in 1925, the tallest building between San Francisco and Portland). This put me downtown, and I surveyed the city by foot.

It’s a beautifully designed town. The downtown is ringed by Lithia Park and clean, integrated residential areas. Ashland River flows through town, and forms the focus of a European-style pedestrian thoroughfare, with restaurants and shops lining the walkway. The business district seems healthy, the arts are booming, and property values are skyrocketing (they’re higher than Portland, based on what we saw). I’m sure there’s something I didn’t see, but Ashland gives every impression of a huge civic success.

Medford, on the other hand, seems to be one faceless, extended strip of national stores. It’s like the outskirts of every American town, but all the way to the core. And yet, it’s a strongly conservative town. When we were catching an early matinee of X-2 (yes, to my shame, that was the reason for our trip), I was shocked to hear Christian contemporary music coming from the multiplex’s soundtrack. (It’s especially weird to walk out of a movie that essentially condemns the blunt force of a society whipped up by fear listening to the exhortation to worship Jesus.)

(I should add, parenthetically that Roseburg was more a run-of-the-(vanishing)-mill town characterized mainly by its decades-long descent from prosperity. Still a pretty little town in the heart of the beautiful Umpqua Valley, but poor and depressed.)

So what did I conclude? Not to put too fine a point on it, but it’s fascinating that the city with a very strong civic sense, where every decision was planned and decided collectively, where even the dogs are regulated—this is the city awash in prosperity. The city with apparently no restrictions on growth (or even guidelines), where the prevailing ethos seems to be laissez-faire—this is the city of blight and poverty. In truth, I didn’t spend enough time studying either city to make sweeping generalizations, and so I should hold off there. Possibly some nuance can be given to this portrait by someone more familiar with the area.

Yet this is a common theme in Oregon—one camp supporting regulation, restriction, and planning, the other favoring a business-driven model of free-market, unregulated growth. What’s interesting is that the argument made by the latter is that the approach of the former is bad for business. In fact, if the contrast between Ashland and Medford are any indication, just the opposite is true. Planning and constructing a community that supports the benefit of the population rather than the interests of a few businesses seems to result in a community where—counter-intuitively—businesses flourish.

Oregon faces a number of challenges as it tries to pull itself out of hock over the next five years. Ashland’s example might offer a counter who those who think the way to do it is to get out of the way of business.

posted by Jeff | 12:05 PM |

Monday, May 05, 2003  

Ashland kicks booty. I have many observations to make, pubs and plays to review, and--of course--news on which to heap abuse and/or admiration. It will all have to wait until tomorrow, however. Tuckered from the drive.

posted by Jeff | 8:20 PM |