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

Friday, February 27, 2004  

The Oregon Bus Project, with whom I've increasingly been working, has a slogan they've been tossing around: "not left, not right, but forward." Over at the Bus office yesterday, I witnessed a heated exchange on the the "intellectual honesty" of the slogan. The issue was this: isn't "forward" in this context really just code for "liberal?"

The subject of the discussion was the Bus, but it's an old saw on the left. It proceeds something like this: a lefty (individual or organization) expresses the notion that we should move past partisanism and emerge into the light of civic discussion, throwing aside the shackles conservatives have placed on society's wrists. Retorts the dissident: "You mean replace conservatism with liberalism. You don't actually care what conservatives think."

This, more than anything, demonstrates the triumph of the current "conservative" movement. Fifty years ago, politics was understood to be an orientation toward public policy. You might be conservative or liberal in your approach to the subject, but at least you were talking public policy. For a generation, though, an activist group within the conservative movement has steadily shifted not only the meaning of "conservative" and "liberal," but the referent. If you're "conservative" now, what you're expressing is personal identity, not an orientation to public policy. Thus, trying to shift the argument always appears like trying to shirk identity. Ah, come on, everyone knows you're liberal.

But whether or not you're liberal, you might wish to escape the paradigm at work here--particularly if you care about discussing public policy. Politics are touchy enough as it is without making one's personal identity a part of the equation. For those who do care what happens to policy--whatever our political stripe--putting our attention on public policy, not tribal affiliations and personal identity, must be the solution.

Call it whatever you want, but forward would indeed be an accurate description of the direction.

posted by Jeff | 3:09 PM |

Wednesday, February 25, 2004  

Although I'd love to declare that this will be the last post on gay marriage, I'm not sure it will be. Thanks to nuts who intend to turn discrimination into law (see here), I'm afraid we may all be talking about sex and the law a lot more than we'd prefer. But let's not get into the discussion of whether the state will legally sanction which sticks go into which holes--that's a topic for the 19th Century Puritans. Instead, let's talk about the Constitution.

For over two centuries, states have infringed on the US Constitution by passing laws that deny some part of their population the rights others have. This is par for the course. What offsets these local laws is a national belief that minorities shouldn't lose rights because they inflame the prejudice of the majority. The US Constitution has explicit provisions to protect minorities. But now, for the first time in 228 years, the federal government (in the figure of George Bush) is threatening to amend the Constitution to specifically remove rights.

There's no other way to regard it. While the spin holds that hetero bigots have the right to not be offended by gay marriage, a Constitutional amendment to that effect wouldn't give them more rights. It would remove the rights of other citizens. You can't spin this as a rights-granting change.

It won't pass, nor will state laws accomplishing the same thing stand. But in the meantime, we must now confront yet another divisive proposal by conservatives. Instead of focusing on the literally hundreds of measures that would unite the country, a small minority of the most spiteful, fearful, and bigoted Americans will hold national policy hostage. This is because one of their numbers is President.

Thanks to this public declaration by Bush, we will have years of divisiveness at home, too. Bigots in Oregon, suddenly apprised of their right to oppress, are swinging into action. According to that OPB piece I quoted, there are four versions of a gay marriage ban planned for the ballot. Grants Pass Republican Gordon Anderson is promising to introduce a gay-marriage-ban bill in the next legislature. (Although not a local initiative, Gordon Smith has announced he'd vote with the President.) Instead of focusing on the really important issues to Oregonians, we're going to be bogged down in yet more vitriol and hatred.

After all the divisions this state has suffered, the President's announcement couldn't come at a worse time.

posted by Jeff | 2:21 PM |

Later today I plan to post on the issue of gay marriage (again). If you're dying for analysis, Bix can sate your thirst. In the meantime, have a look at some of the key points of the GOP's election strategy this year (thanks to the Oregon Republicans for sending me the email.) Ask yourself--are these going to be successful approaches in Oregon?

The preamble:

It's a choice between keeping the tax relief that is moving this economy forward - or putting the burden of higher taxes back on the American people.

It's a choice between an America that leads the world with strength and confidence - or an America that is uncertain in the face of danger.

It's a choice between two visions of government: a government that encourages ownership and opportunity and responsibility - or a government that takes your money and makes your choices.

Comment: The President is depending on three rhetorical arguments that are at odds with his record. While he pushed through tax cuts, they were principally for the wealthy; whatever meager benefits the middle class and poor received are far offset by decreases in spending. America is wracked by fear now; if Dubya's forays have demonstrated anything, it's that he's wholly ineffective at addressing Americans' fears. If Kerry emerges, he'll be confronted with making the argument that a war hero is "uncertain in the face of danger." He could pull it off, but this is a tall order. Finally, the small government argument has been strained to the point of breaking. Polls show that the people believe Bush has taken their money to benefit the wealthy; unless that translates into jobs yesterday, the "opportunity" card will be his greatest weakness.

The email goes on to identify six platform positions, none weaker than this:

In the next four years, President Bush will continue to lead our economy through a time of challenge and change. In the new economy, many workers change jobs several times, or start their own businesses, or work at home as contractors. They often don't have pensions, or health care through their jobs, and many have had to learn new skills. The President believes it is his administration's responsibility to help people gain the skills and security they need to make a good living and look forward to a good retirement.

I like this phrase particularly: "They often don't have pensions, or health care through their jobs, and many have had to learn new skills." Nice work, Mr. President.

If this is the best the spin doctors in Karl Rove's office could produce, Bush faces a tough year.

posted by Jeff | 9:03 AM |

Tuesday, February 24, 2004  

Let's talk Ralph. On Sunday he made it official: he's runnin' for prez (not exactly a shocker; his 'exploratory committee' was a farce). I don't know that Nader will have much effect nationally--even in 2000, his support dwindled when the polls tightened up, and that was when people were generally sympathetic to his cause. It's possible that he could tip the scales in a state that was extremely close, but I'd be shocked to see him get more than 1% in any state.

But the impact in Oregon is different. Since '86 we've been ground zero for Nader support; in both the past two elections, he got a larger percent of Oregon's votes than anywhere else. In 2000 it was 5%; I expect something on the order of a third of that this time around. Given how badly Bush has treated the citizens in this fair state, I don't think Nader will be decisive.

Where he will hurt is on the edges. Nader is the ultimate far-left wedge candidate. Listen to what Tim Hermach of the Native Forest Council told the Oregonian:

"I fear the cowardly lemmings and cowardly sheep will vote for John Kerry or John Edwards -- or Jack the Ripper, if he were to get the Democratic nomination."

That's Taliban talk--fundamentalism of the worst order. Never mind the nuance, knuckle under to my extreme view or you're a coward and a follower. (Presumably, the only people who do knuckle under to this view are followers, but that's another rant.) What's bad is that instead of being the cause of progressive unity, Nader will inspire exactly this kind of divide. Without Nader, the dialogue shifts to common ground. Presumably Tim and I would agree on many policy points, and with only a Kerry v. Bush matchup, we could start moving toward joint goals. But throw Nader in, and he's calling people like me a coward, and I feel inspired to call him a liberal fundamentalist. Now where are we?

Hey Ralph, have you heard this one? If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. Running for President isn't a solution. So what's that make you?

posted by Jeff | 12:34 PM |

Thursday, February 19, 2004  


I'm trying to punch up the old blog here--you like my excessive use of exclamation points? On a weekly basis, a number of thoughts cloud my fuzzy brain, few of which rise to the level of "blogability" all their own. Many are wholly inconsequential. But, rather than just let these haiku-like observations vanish into the ether of my failing memory, I've decided collect them and bundle them all up into an exciting! new Oregon Blog feature:

Minutiae Thursday!!!

1. The Blazers rock. I'm like a pig in mud. For the first time in my life, I was actively rooting against them this year, hoping for a sizeable enough implosion to force change. We got and I couldn't be happier with the results. Go Blazers!

2. The Willamette Week has a "candid" interview with Jim Francesconi, depicting him in photographs with a howling mouth. Yet the interview is perfunctory and Francesconi, far from giving howling commentary, often gives answers that are briefer than the question.

3. Ten thousand bumpers became obsolete yesterday, when Dean pulled out of the election. (Kucitizen Kars remain kurrent, as Dennis Kucinich kontinues his kwest.)

4. Get ye down to the Portland International Film Fest. It's quietly becoming one of the better film fests in the country. On Saturday I caught My Architect, an exquisite documentary about the architect Louis Kahn, made by his son, Nathaniel. I also saw Goodbye, Dragon Inn, which was perhaps the slowest film ever made. But then, that's what happens at the fests--you see films you could see nowhere else.

5. A reminder to all you candidates out there, The Oregon Blog is happy to interview YOU. Sure, almost no one reads the blog--but they could! In Singapore, even! It's cheaper than a press release and nearly twice as fun! So don't delay, send your requests for interview now. If I really like your answers, I'll grant you the extra-critical, super-ultra-exclusive Oregon Blog endorsement. Ask Phil Busse how it's turned his campaign around!

(All right, I'll lay off the exclamation points now.)

posted by Jeff | 12:16 PM |

Tuesday, February 17, 2004  

This is my response to the dog and pony show we can expect from Treasury Secretary John Snow, Commerce Secretary Don Evans, and Labor Secretary Elaine Chao when they visit this week:


Is anyone still buying this "battleground state" thing? They're on the "Jobs and Growth Tour," which is apparently supposed to be postmodern humor. Either that or they just take us for slack-jawed idiots.

posted by Jeff | 4:26 PM |

Monday, February 16, 2004  

EXCLUSIVE - The Oregon Blog interview with District 6 (Medford) Legislative Candidate John Doty.

As promised, the Oregon Blog brings you and EXCLUSIVE interview with John Doty. It's longer than standard blog length, so I'll break it up. Part One is focused more on the issues of District 6; in Part Two, John discusses issues confronting the state. So without further ado, here's Part One...

Who are you?
John Doty - I am a 35 yr old teacher and coach. I work at an alternative school in Medford, OR called CrossRoads. IT serves approx 150 high risk teens, mostly from the Central Point school district, but also from Ashland, Phoenix, Rogue River, and occasionally Eagle Point. I coach the girls' varsity soccer team at Phoenix HS.

What are you running for?
Oregon House of Representatives, District 6

Let's put your race into some context. What are the major issues confronting Medford right now? How are these different from other regions of the state?
Major issues in Medford include (but are not limited to):

Growth, particularly traffic pressures - ODOT has interchange projects underway or ready to go for both the Medford exits, as well as the Phoenix exit just south of us, and a new Wal-Mart in Central Point will push that interchange into need, as well.

Schools - The personnel and services cuts in the Medford school district will have a major impact on the quality of education available to youth in most of the city - this isn't unique to Medford and it is not a comment on the quality of teachers - it is simply too much to ask of a strained system to improve while chopping it up, little bits at a time.

Air Quality - the Oregon DEQ has a particulate plan for the Rogue Valley which is unacceptable - public hearings have been highly contentious. DEQ asserts that the amount of meaningful data they can use to support the plan is hampered by the funding level they are operating at - they can't staff the data collection effort and they can't afford some of the measuring devices needed. Air Quality in Medford has some unique factors due to the shape of the Rogue / Bear Creek basin and prevailing weather patterns.

It looks like you'll be running against Rob Patridge in district 6. Rep. Patridge is one of the GOP's more moderate candidates and helped broker the bipartisan plan in the last session to raise $800 million. What would you offer Medford voters that Rep. Patridge hasn't?
Patridge's vote on the budget compromise is one thing. His complete invisibility in support of the subsequent Measure 30, though, is telling. The votes cast over the previous three sessions do not, on balance, represent the needs of this district, nor even of this state. This is not to say on some issues Patridge doesn't deliver good things for this community, but on several items (see Education and Air Quality notes above), the need has been looming for years and the ability to stabilize funding for both items has been available to a courageous leader to get out in front of. Despite being part of the GOP leadership, I haven't seen that courage from Rep Patridge. One very key thing I can offer is the willingness to put Oregon's long term needs ahead of my re-election on EVERYTHING important to Medford.

You've got your own blog, which is one of the ways we connected. Talk a little bit about how you see alternative media playing a role in your campaign.
Well one important facet will be in financing. In the past 3 races, Patridge has raised in excess of $70K in each, while the opposing Dem has been funded in the neighborhood of $15-$20K. Oregon's lack of campaign finance laws mean a lot of money is coming into this race from out of state corporate coffers (alcohol and soft drink companies, national retailers, tobacco, etc...). I hope to tap the Dean Model of small donors in large numbers, with people all over the nation who feel the influence of corporate America is problematic... if I could get $25 from 1000 folks nationwide on the net (about 1/80th of the Dean base, contributing about 1/3 what they gave him), before even touching the local donor base and the state progressive PACs (labor, environment, etc...) I'd be ahead of any previous effort. Add in the fundraising from the traditional sources and I could make this a race where the GOP candidate actually has to spend money on himself, rather than shifting his funds out to support OTHER candidates, which has been his MO in the past.

Secondly, I expect to be able to engage more people in the process - not just in my race, but in elections in general. Having policy meetings in a living room or restaurant with one's staff is one thing... having what amounts to a 24/7 town hall for the entire campaign is very different. That is what the blog makes possible - now whether that materializes, we shall see.

Finally, it provides me with a means of distributing message without reliance on money to make ad buys. If I have position papers, sound bytes, etc... that I want to have 'out there' for consumption, they will be on the web and they will find their way to prospective voters as my supports can print them, hand them out, share them, all on their own.

Even more than in past years, progressives are hoping to appeal to younger and first-time voters. Why should they consider you this year?
Well, given that almost my entire circle of associates are first time or pre-voters, I am ideal :) I am myself young, energetic, and offer a very different 'package' than the traditional candidate here in Southern Oregon. I don't know how that will translate into votes, yet, since I am basically the first person bringing this mix to the game.

posted by Jeff | 3:14 PM |

EXCLUSIVE: Interview with District 6 (Medford) Legislative Candidate John Doty.

Part Two.

Oregon is confronting some very serious funding shortfalls due to the failure of Measure 30. What solutions will you offer to ensure critical services are funded?
Well, I have a secret plan... no...wait...

Measure 30 was a decent band aid proposal. But that is all it was. I expect if it had been sent up without the Seniors Medical Deduction item, it would have passed in more counties. We must get some revenue flowing immediately - the corporate minimum tax revision and some sunsetted deduction caps will start us on that path. I honestly cringed at the idea of putting MORE of the burden onto personal income tax, but we actually can shift the progressivity model and generate more revenue without impacting the sub-$100K income earners at all.

Are there any services you would consider cutting or departments you would consider reducing funding to?
Not really. We have cut the 'fat' and we are starting in on muscle and, more critically, bone now (to stretch the anatomical metaphor to its very limit)

Looking longer-term, how can Oregon fix its revenue woes?
First item we MUST do is stabilize the funding stream...having a disproportional reliance on the personal income tax - the tax that reacts most radically to economic shifts - is a large part of the problem. We need to reconstruct a system that balances the sources of revenue. Such a plan would include some reform to property taxes on business and commercial land owners, an indexing of the Corporate Minimum Tax, a review of some deductions and how deductions need to cap at the upper brackets, and finally, we need to look at mechanisms that don't exclusively target Oregonians - sales tax on a particular range of products and services can be constructed to be revenue neutral, yet shifting burden to non-residents. Given the size of sales taxes in the neighboring states, such a tax wouldn't have a negative impact on cross border tourism or consumer activity.

State of Jefferson--a good idea dashed by WWII or a wild idea by a bunch of loonies?
A little of both :) There are some very valid issues (I think more on the CA side of the border) about how the state population balances leave the Jefferson region under-represented compared to the demands placed on them. (Water issues in Northern California being the biggest Jefferson legit issue). There is clearly a disconnect in various administrative acts, either in govt. or in things like OSAA's off season contact rules.

Oregon has never rebounded from its unemployment problems. Things are better in Southern Oregon, but while people have jobs, many of them don't provide a living wage. What's your plan to add quality jobs?
Honestly - schools. Employers come to regions that can meet their needs. We have great location, good weather, and a good sized labor pool - our only real shortcoming is that the school systems all through the county are strained and struggling. This issue is a deterrent to drawing new business to the area. As a nation, we are under-emphasizing vocational education efforts - that is impacting the types of wage levels we see. I also think we could look at the items surrounding small and micro businesses. Businesses operating out of the home currently can't hire anyone who doesn't live in the house - that could change to create a few hundred new jobs immediately.

Ashland and Medford offer two strikingly different models for growth and land use. Where do you hope to see Medford in 20 years?
Growth is inevitable. The trick is to find a balance where growth doesn't negatively impact the quality of life. As Medford expands, we need to make certain we aren't paving over prime agricultural land, we need to make sure that we are keeping the 'neighborhood' qualities of this community, rather than becoming more urban and losing the character of the current community.

Living in Southern Oregon, you would represent a mostly moderate and conservative constituency--how will you appeal to their values?
Honesty and investment in the future are traits these constituents value. So is courage. I am working on the nuance of this one as I build toward the General - can you ask again in June?

Southern Oregon is one of the most beautiful places on earth, yet the region has historically been dependent on logging. To the east of you, farmers and environmentalists clash over the Klamath Basin. How do you strike the balance between using the land and protecting it?
My bottom line is that we never take a policy step, that if determined to be in error, can't be recovered from in short time. In the case of land conservation and land use, that means erring on the side of conservation. If a development IS the best option, having Enviro Impact Studies and hearings and a process to establish that and maybe taking an extra year before making the decision, is a far easier process on the Use side of the equation when balanced against developing FIRST, determining negative impacts and needing decades to restore habitats, aquifers, biodiversity, etc...

Most of the people who read this blog live in the Willamette Valley. Why should they care what happens in an election in District 6?
Most importantly, the composition of the legislature impacts whether things get done. This seat is one I think is vulnerable on it's face. Any Dem pickup is critical to breaking the inertia in Salem. Additionally, this race features a GOP candidate who has historically funded other races, making Dem seats into battles. If we can keep him fighting for his own seat, we open doors for ourselves elsewhere in the Willamette Valley, in Deschutes, etc... and we keep the seats we already hold safer.

posted by Jeff | 2:57 PM |

Sunday, February 15, 2004  

The Oregon Bus Project is upgrading their online presence. Live in the last day or two is the Zephyr, which is going to be a kind of local Atlantic Online, if I understand it correctly. It will have content and news and, apparently, will be interactive. Something more than a blog or a zine, but will elements of both. Post categories are arranged by the Six E's (the Bus's policy organizer).

Early posts:

"Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You" Revisited by Gretchen Kafoury.

Here in Oregon, I volunteered with the Bobby Kennedy campaign, toting daughter Deborah in a backpack while I coordinated coffees, door-to-door canvassing and phone banks. Amazingly, these are the same activities that are drawing large numbers of supporters of Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich to states across the country. Could we actually be witnessing a return of the young to political activism?

She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not, by Phil Busse

I’m having a love affair with my city, and like any love affair, I’m intoxicated with insecurity. I am running for mayor of Portland and like any young lover am trying to figure out whether this is a fling or a lifelong commitment. Will the city have me?

One Woman’s Valentine’s Wish, by Jessica DuBois

I’m a political activist by profession and passion; more specifically I am a queer political activist who at this moment in history is holding her breath, bracing for a kick to the curb, while working for victory. Right now my relationship, as well as every other relationship between same-sex couples in the U.S., faces uncharted territory. We are literally at a do or die historical moment, a point where I see two possible futures in front of me.

Looks like a good start; go have a look around.

posted by Jeff | 12:12 PM |

Thursday, February 12, 2004  

There's a dark and threatening cloud gathering on Eastern horizon. That cloud threatens not only every single Oregonian, but our very way of life. It threatens to undermine our very society. If this cloud is allowed to drift over the Snake River, it's likely civilization as we know it will be destroyed. Utterly. I'm talking, of course, about gay marriage.

Gay marriage.

Last week it was Janet's nipple, this week it's the possibility that two men may spend an afternoon in a church (Episcopal, of course). Next week it will be a movie or a dirty word on the Howard Stern show. I had hoped the issue would die the quick death of most modern-day witch trials, but apparently this one's got legs.

Predictably, Reinhard has charged forth with a bigoted assault (no link at present). Footsoldiers for the GOP like him are echoing the same fears across the country, ensuring that what happened in a Massachusetts court becomes a local issue everywhere: if gay marriage is allowed to become law there, you'll have to confront the specter of men prancing down Main Street USA in wedding dresses. Be afraid, be very afraid.

The argument is this: allowing gay marriage is an infringement of bigots' rights. That's really it--the rights the anti-gay-marriage crowd are concerned about are their own rights not to be offended. Reinhard wants to disengage gay rights from civil rights by distinguishing between race and sexual orientation. Yet restricting gay marriage looks more like restrictions against interracial marriage than any alternative analogue he might offer. What the anti-gay rights folks want is to remove rights--which definitionally makes it a civil rights issue.

It becomes a local issue because bigots like Reinhard drag it home. They want to use divisive politics to split the left and continue marching forward with their extremist agenda. Oregonians shouldn't be fooled. There is something very offensive about gay marriage: that a democracy based on freedom and equality would even question whether it should be legal.

posted by Jeff | 9:28 AM |

Wednesday, February 11, 2004  

Terroristic threats

No, not from anyone wearing "an Islamic Beard," or from anyone dark and "mysterious-looking." But from a "nice, normal, middle-class white male" with some obvious issues to grind. And displaying the beauty and compassionate understanding that the Bush Doctrine has brought upon our country.

This story was related to me in a phone conversation this morning with my wife--one that quickly broke down into tears...

My wife was having lunch at Pig 'n Pancake in Tualatin...(Ummm, bacon) where we used to stop often when we lived in Lake Oswego. It was always a lot of fun to go there with the kids because the waitress/manager would carry our youngest around (when he was a baby) and generally treat us very well.

Anyway, today my wife was there alone eating breakfast before she headed to work. Our aquaintance was working there, and her and my wife had been catching up on life's rich pagent. An older couple was sitting in the booth next to her playing a card game--to which they explained to the waitress was called "Gore Gin"--you could just make up the rules as you went along and anything goes. Some few seconds later, the waitress passed by my wife and gave her "a look of amusment." My wife told her, in an aside, she thought low enough, but apparently overheard, that it sounded more like "a Bush Game" to her.

Then, apparently, all hell broke loose. The "Gore Ginners" began to pontificate on the virtures and greatness of the Bush Administration and all of it's glories. Three men, one older (mid forties, maybe) and two in their twenties, were sitting in the booth to the other side of my wife. The older gentleman took up the cue of the "Gore Gin" couple and decided that he needed to join in the conversation.

As the older couple were just positive about the virtures of their Man Bush, this gentleman, in a very loud and threatening voice, told my wife "that I hate all you f*ing Democrats. You f*ng deserve to be die. Hopefully we can kill the f*ing bunch of you soon..."

My wife, wisely, said nothing, finished, paid up and left, while this "gentleman" continued on his tirade while she walked out of the restaurant. No one said a word to this man to try and shut his hateful yap.

(Ah, if he had only known that his buddy Bush had made that particular form of speech illegal (well, more illegal, anyway)).

Sometimes, when you're not faced with it, you think that the freakyness of the Fox News watchers is way overblown. When you actually have to deal with the surreality of it, it's beyond comprehension...but some things, it seems, are true whether you want to believe them or not.

The thing is, had it not been my wife, I don't think I would have believed it, either.

Four hours removed from hearing about it, six hours from it actually happening, and I'm still roiling with anger and fear.

He's a uniter, not a divider...

posted by fred | 1:33 PM |

Phil Busse has 100 ways to leave your lover. Wait--sorry, that's 100 ways to improve the city. He's working on a "100" theme. I'd say 100 ideas is ambitious--about half of these are padding ("Plant more trees," "Give $100 to Oregon Food Bank"). Still, if every politician had fifty ideas, that would constitute a 10-fold increase over expectations.

Go look through the list for yourself; Phil's candidacy is idiosyncratic, and you get a sense of that by some of his items ("A public boathouse at the Holman building with sailing lessons for PPS"). But if you don't have time, here are three I think we should officially consider Great Ideas:

11. On occasion, relocate city council meetings to neighborhood centers
14. Adopt 10-year plan to end homelessness
27. Develop Ross Island Bird Sanctuary

He also offers a number of small-business promotion ideas, but as I'm personally not familiar with the details, I'll do the difficult and keep my mouth shut.

All right Tom, Jim--ball's in your court.

posted by Jeff | 12:36 PM |

Tuesday, February 10, 2004  

A couple of Oregon Blog notes. First, I'm steadily climbing back into the saddle. Expect regular blogging to resume roughly beginning now.

Second, I'm going to start trying to do some election-year activities, beginning with an interview with candidate John Doty, who's running for the state legislature in District 6 (Southern Oregon). Consider this an open invite to any candidates in Oregon--of any party. We're barely media here at the Oregon Blog; on the other hand, that means we're anxious to hear from you. None of that trying-to-get-press hassle here.

I'd also like to start a list of endorsements to add to the site. So far only Phil Busse has received an Oregon Blog nod (for Portland mayor); I'd like to add to that incrementally over the year. Again, if you are a candidate or represent one, contact me about this fantastically coveted opportunity.

On a serious note, I would like to do my part to give the political process a different voice--even if the group tuned into this frequency is small. Your contribution, suggestions, and advice are hereby requested.

posted by Jeff | 1:38 PM |

[I try to avoid double posting, but rarely do I post something at Notes that seems relevant for the Oregon Blog. This is, so I am.]

A last word on the last man to be sentenced in the "Portland Seven" case. Yesterday Maher "Mike" Hawash was given seven years for "aiding the Taliban" (actually, it was a bizarre attempt to aid the Taliban--he never got closer to Afghanistan than Western China). It was an emotional case in Portland--a stage play of the larger drama we see nationally regarding terrorism, Islam, race, and the legal system.

Hawash, who was a legal citizen, married to a blond-haired, blue eyed Portlander, and was an engineer at Intel, became the symbol for every side in the argument. As Hawash was jailed in solitary confinement for weeks without charge, friends and co-workers staged a robust protest, seeing him as an example of lost civil liberties. He became a test case for the power of the government to prosecute legal US citizens. And then on the other side of things, a local editorialist named David Reinhard played the worst kind of race/creed politics, arguing that Hawash, by virtue of his beard and skin color, "offered just a small clue about why the Joint Terrorism Task Force was interested in 'Mike' in the first place."

Then there were the legal and political issues. John Ashcroft promoted the Portland Seven as examples that the Patriot Act was necessary and working.

The United States does not casually or capriciously charge its own citizens with providing support to terrorists. But the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001, serve as a constant, stark reminder that America has enemies in the world . . . and sometimes the enemies are here at home. The plea agreements in the Portland case would have been more difficult to achieve, were it not for the legal tools provided by the USA Patriot Act.

Yesterday, Ashcroft called it a "defining day in America's war on terrorism." But he didn't mention that none of the defendants were being tried as terrorists, nor that laws pre-dating the Patriot Act would be used to prosecute them. In fact, one could argue that the Portland Seven were the perfect example of why the Patriot Act isn't necessary.

Now that we've reached the end of the road, the lessons aren't clear. Hawash yesterday took full responsibility for his actions, saying he was "Proud to be a US citizen." For those who wanted this to be a test case for the Patriot Act, Hawash was something less than perfectly innocent, but something far more than traitorous. Neither civil liberties proponents nor racists like Reinhard are going to feel comfortable identifying this case as the symbol of their cause (and although Ashcroft must ride this horse politically, it's unclear whether legislators will see it as a triumph of the Patriot Act).

Like the larger drama playing out nationwide, the prosecution of Maher Hawash was confusing and painful. It didn't lead back to the clean concept of "evil" that began with Bush's rhetoric, but neither did it sever Islam's role. Everyone wanted more clarity after 9/11, but this case, if it's symbolic of anything, shows that the road is going to be a lot muddier than we'd hoped.

posted by Jeff | 9:48 AM |

Monday, February 09, 2004  

Get out your protest signs:

Oregon Republican Party Chairman

Kevin Mannix
Invites You to Attend the ORP Lincoln Day Dinner

With Featured Guest

Karl Rove
Thursday, March 11th, 2004

Roundtable and Photo Reception
5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
$5,000 per person

Lincoln Day Dinner
Reception: 5:00 – 5:30 p.m.
Dinner: 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
$50 per person

Crowne Plaza
14811 Kruse Oakes Drive
Lake Oswego, Oregon

Doors Open At 4:30 p.m.

Should we pass the hat and buy a ticket? Might be damned interesting to find out what the Evil Lord has planned for Oregon. Fitty bucks ain't too bad....

posted by Jeff | 2:22 PM |

Thursday, February 05, 2004  

While most of the nation watched the primary results on Tuesday, in Oregon we had bigger fish to fry. Voters were considering a ballot measure that second-guessed the state legislature's decision to raise taxes and bring in $800 million over the next two years.

It was really a no-brainer. The increase for a joint filing on an income of $60,000 was 98 bucks. Failure to pass the law would trigger instant cuts to human services, schools, and public safety. Since the bubble burst, Oregon has made all the "worst" lists--highest unemployment, deepest cuts to services, weeks lopped off school years (that earned us ridicule in "Doonesbury"). Recently Oregonians have indicated a willingness to raise taxes--a similar measure last year failed only narrowly, precipitating the worst of the cuts. As the election neared, polling showed the measure close to passage.

So what happened on Tuesday? Voters crushed Measure 30 by a 16% margin. This is bad news for Oregon--horrible news, actually--but national trend-watchers ought to take notice, too.

Post continues at the American Street

posted by Jeff | 1:26 PM |

Wednesday, February 04, 2004  

I was going to post this as a comment to Jeff's post (below), but I decided, ah heck, I have the keys...I might as well use them.

First, I wonder if Mannix et al, are willing to reimburse us for that world-record breaking session last year and their new "special session" that will have to be called this year? Yeah, I didn't think so either. Still, doesn't that fit the definition of "not spending wisely?"

Second, I think that the great citizens of Multnomah County just gave the rest of the great state of Oregon The Finger. I think it was something along the lines of "we got ours, yes we do, we got ours, so get your own act together...." That, and a combination of many people in the Jack Bogdanski Axis of Centrists(tm) trying to send out the tough-love message...(ok, Jack, I know your decision was more...detailed than that. But I think a lot of people are really buying into the argument that we really have to know pain in order to understand the trade-offs that society requires.

Personally, I think that argument is based on the mistaken assumptions that people a) really understand the connections between taxes and services and b) that the people that are going to suffer the most are in some way going to make a connection to the average "Jane Middle-Class" that doesn't spend any time reading the paper, gets news (when they get it) at six or eleven with the obligatory "Survivor" tie-in, or simply has their heads-down trying to make sure that they can make their over-mortgaged mortgage payment, their near-luxury car(s) payments, and their bloated credit-card bills.

It's going to get a lot worse before it gets better--which, I guess, might just have a silver lining: The selfish, self-righteous and silver-tongued boobs that convinced most of us that our money "is ours, and we should be spending it the way we want" will end up being defrocked. Of course, at that point, it might not matter too much.

posted by fred | 9:05 AM |

Tuesday, February 03, 2004  

Well, that was weird.

I expected a close call, which was someone's way of reminding me (again) that I don't know my ass from a hole in the ground when it comes to predicting what people are going to do at the ballot box. Now, not only will Republicans claim Oregonians don't want new taxes, they're gonna claim they really don't want 'em.

Wait, what's this in the old mailbag? Ah, a Oregon GOP email from Kevin Mannix:

“Oregonians have sent a message to the Governor and the Legislature; state government should live within its means. We need a Special Session of the Legislature as soon as possible to secure funding for programs that protect our most vulnerable citizens, ensure public safety, and educate our children. This election is also a call for real government reform, especially a constitutional spending limit.”

Buckle your seat belt, it's gonna be a bumpy ride....

posted by Jeff | 9:27 PM |

There's a big vote tonight, and if the pundits are to be believed (what did they know about Iowa?), Measure 30's going down hard. If it does, I think there could be some severe consequences, but that's idle speculation at this point. (Thanks to some embarrassment over at Notes, I'm never predicting anything again.) Whether it passes or not, come tomorrow morning we're all going to have to begin a serious discussion.

For everyone who thinks the issue is taxes versus no-taxes, I have some advice: grow up. We live in the real world, and people's lives literally depend on the choices we make. For the better part of a decade, drive-by troublemakers have taken pot shots at the legislative process, hobbling the way our state is governed. For the starve-the-beasters, this seems just dandy. It's a win-win: taxes on individuals go down, and because the system is hobbled, government functions badly, opening itself up to charges by the same people who hobbled it that it is broken. But for reasonable citizens who give even the smallest shit for this beautiful state and its 3 million citizens, a badly-run government is a lose-lose. We can talk about what we want government to be, but can we at least agree that a screwed-up government ain't it?

One of the things that has distinguished Oregon for 150 years is its ability to chart its own course. Guess what? The only people charting our course now are the idiots who are so unpopular they couldn't win elected office in a high school home room--let alone state office. Oregonians need to come back together and begin crafting a strategy for our future. Beginning tomorrow, we need to put the fingers down and quit blaming. It's time for Oregonians to start leading again.

posted by Jeff | 3:40 PM |