Sunday, October 31, 2010

Election day countdown: Once more into the breach!

Kitzhaber HQ, Saturday before Election Day
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour'd rage;
--Henry V, Act III, Scene I
Perhaps a tad much.  But the trials and disasters that lesser men face, though shadowed in obscurity, are of no less import to us than were the walls of Harfleur to the Bard's darling Hassy.  Yes?  No?  Aw, whatever.

Saturday before Election Day found me walking the 12 or so blocks from my pad on 36th to Governor Kitzhaber's campaign headquarters.  If national polls and prognosticators are correct, the GOP in all its rancid, depraved glory, is set to score big gains nationally.  Well, not here in Oregon.  Not if I can help it.

My good friend and coworker, James Minor, drove all the way up from Tualatin to join me in the effort.  We were assigned a canvassing turf way out in the vicinity of Portland International Airport south of Sandy Boulevard.  I find it interesting that our assigned turf was so far out of city center.  In my previous three canvassing shifts, the campaign sent us to neighborhoods that were closer in, with higher concentrations of registered Democrats.  This time, although there were a goodly number of Democrats in the neighborhood, they were spaced farther apart than in the city.  I interpreted this to mean that the Kitzhaber campaign feels it has sufficiently canvassed the dense inner-city neighborhoods and is now making forays out into the suburbs.  That seems like a hopeful sign.

Good Mister Minor

James and I arrived at our turf and set out.  A light rain fell steadily and we were soon lost in a maze of apartment complexes, winding residential streets and cul-de-sacs.  We had difficulty locating many of the addresses on our canvassing sheets due to the haphazard layout of the suburban thoroughfares. 

This was the least successful of my canvassing experiences, but between the two of us, we still managed to knock on roughly 50 doors.  According to the formula that I learned last week, that should convert to 4 more Kitzhaber votes.  And since polls indicate that the race is very tight --well, four votes is four votes.

Mio Sushi is our reward
Another hopeful sign:  while we were at campaign headquarters, I asked one of the staff if he thought the Dudley campaign could match our get-out-the-vote effort.  His reply:  "They got nothin'."  Apparently one of the Kitzhaber staff had called Dudley headquarters, posing as a volunteer, and asked how she could help.  The folks at the Dudley campaign seemed taken aback, stammered for a moment, and then suggested she hand out fliers in her own neighborhood.  Haphazard and half-baked.

But it is also a revealing detail about how the Dudley campaign hopes to win this race:  inundate the television and radio airwaves with negative ads and rely on voter willingness to believe anything that comes from the Idiot Box.  No surprise, I guess, that the Dudley campaign holds voters in such low regard.  The campaign is being run by highly-paid national Republican strategists.   

We'll see if it works for them, but as an Oregonian, I find it insulting.

Being the son of a football coach, I've been inculcated with a good dose of the competitive spirit.  (Some might say too much.)  I hate to lose.  But, if we do lose, I can rest easy knowing that I've done my part.  It's one thing for the fake patriots to win in some sh*thole Confederate backwater.  But I'll be damned if I'll let them win here in my home.

And I am hopeful.  I think we'll win.

Friday, October 29, 2010

A murder of crows


murder n.
1. The unlawful killing of one human by another, especially with premeditated malice.
2. A flock of crows.

Wintry air reached into the little apartment through the slender gap between the sliding glass patio door and the door jamb.  Michael, seated on the plastic folding chair that they kept next to the kitchen table, squeezed his left eye shut and sited down the blue steel barrel of the air rifle.  The muzzle extended out the open door.

On the street below, four or five crows hopped around a torn sack of cornmeal.  They made an awful racket, cackling and screeching, hopping nimbly, scooping at the cornmeal with their sharp, black beaks.  Although it was cold, the temperature had risen sufficient that the new-fallen snow was melting, and it was, perhaps the loud dripping of snow melt that concealed the harsh and portentous clacking Michael had made as he had pumped air into the rifle's cylinder.

Michael aimed, deftly and calmly moving his left hand as it cradled the fore-stock so the bead stayed at the very bottom of the rear-site vee and in line with his target.  His choice for death was the most recent arrival:  a big bird, with a harsh, booming voice and sleek, blue-black plumes.  This, Michael judged, was the alpha crow, the biggest, strongest bird of the bunch.  The other crows made way when the big bird hopped to the cornmeal and dipped his beak.

Michael drew in a shallow breath and held it, steadying his aim.  It's time, Mr. Big Britches!  Time to die!  As he completed the thought, Michael squeezed the trigger.  There was a sharp, brief whisper as the air in the cylinder escaped and propelled the lead pellet out the barrel.  Then came a chorus of panicked cawing and a rush of flapping wings.

Michael raised his head and squinted out to see the result.  All the crows were gone --disappeared in a panicked flurry.  All except the one --the alpha crow, Mr. Big Britches.  It sat on top of the sack of cornmeal, wings splayed out around it like black robes of interment.  The head worked around from one side to the other, seeking the invisible assailant.  Then, as Michael watched, life left the body and the crow's head sagged to one side.  A thin trickle of blood soaked into the yellow cornmeal.  Michael savored the moment.

"What the hell are you doing?  Close that god damn door!"  The voice was shrill and impatient.

Michael turned his head.  Charlotte, Michael's mother, stood perfectly framed in the opening that led to the apartment's one bedroom.  Yellow light from a burning bulb surrounded her, like a glowing miasma of shabby destitution.  She had only just risen and her hair, golden and shiny, but with a lusterless, dull brown at the roots, stuck out from her head like stiff bristles.  She wore a man-sized tee-shirt that hung down, nearly to her knobby knees.  Her eyes were haggard and hard.

Michael slid the patio door shut and leaned the air rifle, butt down, in the corner.

"What were you doing?"  Charlotte demanded.  Then, "God!  Where's my smokes?"

Michael kept silent as Charlotte strode into the small living area and picked around the cluttered coffee table that sat in front of the worn sofa.  She located a crumpled pack of Marlboros amid the overflowing ashtray and empty pizza boxes.  With her lips she drew out a smoke, then walked to the range in the kitchen area.  She turned a dial, then bent down and lit the cigarette from the blue gas flame.

The electric baseboard heaters ticked and clicked.

She straightened and took a deep drag.  "What time is it?" she asked, expelling gray smoke.  She didn't look at Michael.

There was a sharp rap on the door, and they heard a voice.  "Open up, baby, it's me!"

Charlotte rolled her eyes.  "Let him in," she said to Michael.  A trail of dirty gray smoke followed her as she walked, stiff and haggard, out of the kitchen and down the hall.  Michael heard her enter the bathroom and shut the door.

The chain stretched taut across the opening when he opened it.  Buck was standing outside.  He wore a khaki jacket and trousers with the legs tucked in tanned leather high-topped boots with leather laces.  A bright orange hunting cap sat atop his long, narrow head.  Crooked teeth completed the image of an ornery, ill-bred horse.  "Let me in, kid," he said.

Without a word, Michael shut the door, undid the chain, and opened it again.  Buck stepped in quickly.  "Where is she?" he asked.

Michael nodded toward the hallway.  They could hear water running in the bathroom.

Michael watched as Buck covered the distance in a few long strides, then rapped his knuckles on the bathroom door.  "Charlotte, honey?  It's me," he said.

"I'm getting ready," Charlotte called through the door.

"Sweetie, I've got good news," Buck said.  "My wife thinks I'm going hunting.  We've got the whole weekend together." 

"She's not that dumb, is she?" came Charlotte's reply.

"I got her fooled good this time," Buck replied.  "She thinks I'm going hunting.  I packed up all my gear, just like I was heading for the mountains.  I even got the rifle out in the truck.  And, sweetie, I brought you a little somethin'."

The bathroom door opened just a crack.  "What is it?" Charlotte asked, eagerly.  Already she looked better, Michael thought.  She'd run a comb through her hair and splashed water on her face.  Years of hard living hadn't yet erased her beauty.

Buck grinned.  "Just hurry up and get out of there so I can kiss you," he said.

Charlotte winked and shut the door.  Buck came back into the living area and dropped down on the couch.  He fished in his trouser pocket for a minute, produced a jangling mess of keys attached to a chrome-plated ring.  He held it out toward Michael, one key pinched between thumb and forefinger.  "Boy, go out to my truck and bring that paper bag that's sittin' on the bench."

Michael accepted the proffered key ring without a word.  Buck switched on the television as Michael went out

He descended the exterior stairs to the parking lot, located Buck's high-set 4-wheel-drive pickup and unlocked the passenger side door.  A brown paper bag sat on the seat, a black-capped bottle neck protruding from the top.  Michael released the catch on the side of the bench and pulled the seat forward.  A sleek Browning rifle rested there, amid a litter of hamburger wrappers and pornographic magazines.  The rifle had an elegant wooden stock and a high-powered scope mounted on the barrel.  Michael saw a box of cartridges lying next to it.

He pushed the seat back into place, took the paper bag with the bottle and nudged the pickup door closed.  He did not lock it.

Once inside the apartment, he wordlessly handed the key ring and the brown paper bag containing the bottle to Buck.  "Thanks, kid," Buck said.  He sprang up from the couch and hurried to the bathroom door.  Michael could still hear water running.

"Lookee here, honey" Buck called.

Charlotte opened the door again and peeked out.  She had applied some make-up to her cheeks and eyes, evening out the blotchy skin.  Buck pulled the bottle partway from the bag and held it toward her.  "Your favorite, honey," he said.

She smiled, coyly.  "Oh, and look at you in your manly hunting clothes," she said, as if seeing him for the first time.  "I'll be out in a minute, hon."

Buck came back to the living room.  He fished in his pocket again and produced a 20 dollar bill.  He held it out toward Michael.  "Make yourself scarce, will ya, boy?" he said.  Then, "Shouldn't you be in school?"

Michael took the money and shrugged.  He took a thin jacket from the rack by the door and stepped outside, pulling the door closed behind him. 

Michael was small for his age; too small for sports.  He was not popular with the kids at South High. In fact, not many of them even knew his name.  He was surly and quiet and kept to himself.  At least, when they let him.  Lately, some of the bigger boys, the football players, had taken to bullying him, pushing him around in the halls, humiliating him, demeaning him.  Other kids began to avoid Michael, fearing that they might become targets themselves. 

Some day, they'll learn, Michael thought. And maybe I'll be the one to teach 'em.  Michael felt fortunate that Charlotte did not seem to care whether or not he attended school.

Rather than descend to the street, Michael went to the fire escape mounted on the side of the building.  He swung out onto the ladder and climbed up to the roof.  Over the months, the roof of the apartment building had become his sanctuary, his escape from the sordid world of high school bullies and his mother's idiot boyfriends.  It was a wide, flat Mansard roof with good drainage for the heavy winter rains.  Michael could sit behind the parapet and see over the roofs of the nearby houses clear out to the football field.  The lettering across the top of the electronic scoreboard read "Home of the South High Ravens."

It was Friday, Michael remembered.  There would be a football game that night.  They would flood the field with electric light from the lamp towers.  The tiered stands would be full of people.  The noise from the marching band would fill the air.  He thought about it for a moment.

He glanced down at the street immediately below him.  The crow, Mr. Big Britches, lay sprawled on the yellow cornmeal.  Its beak was agape, the thin tongue lolling in death.  Michael felt satisfied:  a nice clean take-down.  That's the way you do it, he thought.  He turned away and started back toward the fire escape.

Then he paused.

Across the street stood an old oak tree.  It was barren with the onset of winter; its limbs stretched up like bony fingers toward the low gray sky.  Crows perched on every branch.  They huddled silently, like solemn, black-robed judges.  They seemed to stare at Michael as if in appalled horror.   

Michael gestured back in the direction of the dead crow behind and below him.  You see? Michael thought.  Got no answer for that, do ya?

For a long moment he watched the crows watching him.  They sat so still he could almost imagine that they were part of the tree.  Still don't believe me, do ya? he thought.

He went back to Buck's pickup.  He opened the door and took the rifle and box of cartridges from behind the seat.  Then, he climbed back up the fire escape to the roof.  

Maybe four hours 'til dark, he thought.  He sited through the rifle scope, saw the neatly-chalked yardage markers, white against the lush grass.  They will stand in the center for the coin toss.  Yes.  I'll see the faces.  Even the eyes.  

It was cold.  Michael's breath rose in vaporous plumes.  He hunkered down and drew his knees up to keep warm.  He blew into his cupped hands.  Behind him, the murder of crows perched.  They watched and waited.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

GOP teetering


Lots of posts about politics lately.  Well, it's election season after all.  So here's another...

Given that the GOP seems poised to make big gains this year (at least, on the national level), for anyone to suggest that the party of Abraham Lincoln is on the brink of collapse would be likely to evoke puzzled stares, if not peals of scorning laughter.  Nonetheless, I do so, now.

Because, you see, expectations for the GOP are running so high that, if it does not succeed in taking control of the US House of Representatives, the election will be perceived as a failure.  At least, from a Republican point of view.

All the political conditions are set for a "wave" election, in which the party out of power is swept into power:  high unemployment, an unpopular president from the opposition party, a fired-up base.  If Republicans can't win big this year, they've really got problems.

And, folks, let me tell ya, they've really got problems.

Here comes the GOP cavalry!
The redneck base of the party, the low-information Glenn Beck/Rush Limbaugh crowd, wheeling from McDonalds to Walmart on its Medicare-supplied "fatboy" scooters, has routed out the "establishment" GOP candidates in favor of tea-baggers like Sharron Angle, Christine O'Donnell, and Rand Paul.  Republican stalwarts like Mitch (the walking corpse) McConnell and John (Orangeman) Boehner are running scared.  After all, if GOP champions like Lisa Murkowski, Mike Castle, Trey Grayson, and Bob Bennett can be defeated by apoplectic tea-baggers, how long until Mitch and John get tied to the whipping post?

In order to avoid such a fate, GOP gray-beards are swarming to the right, to appease the xenophobic, racist rabble.  And, in so doing, they are motivating traditionally Democratic voters.  For example, the stunts that Sharron Angle pulled in Nevada are sure to have Latinos flocking to the polls.  Harry Reid should thank her for that.

Will moderate and liberal voters turn out in sufficient numbers to thwart this uprising of tea-bag pseudo-patriots?  That remains to be seen.  But if the GOP does not come out of this election with anything less than overwhelming victory, the simmering intra-party feuding between tea-baggers and the traditional GOP plutocrats will erupt into full-scale, bloodthirsty war.  This really could kill the GOP.

And that's good news for everybody.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It just keeps gettin' weirder in Tea-bag land

"It still hasn't gotten weird enough for me."
The tea-baggers are completely losing it!
  • In Nevada, Senate candidate Sharron Angle continues to refuse access to reporters.  In one of the strangest campaign strategies seen in recent times, Angle is avoiding media exposure in the last week of the campaign.  A politician running away from the cameras!   

    Angle's campaign is running some of the most racially provocative ads in the country.  Check this one out.



    At the same time, Latinos for Reform, which was later exposed as a Republican front group, ran ads last week in an attempt to suppress Latino turnout in the election.  Check out this ad.  (There is also a Spanish language version.)



    All year long we've been hearing about the so-called "enthusiasm gap" between grass-roots GOP and Democrats. Angle's campaign would seem to be doing everything it can to increase Latino turnout which can only redound to the benefit of Harry Reid.

  • In Kentucky, at a debate between candidates for the US Senate seat, Rand Paul supporters roughed up a protester (23 year-old Lauren Valle).  Tim Profitt, Paul's Bourbon County campaign coordinator actually stomped on the woman's head as she lay on the concrete. 



  • And, of course, there is Christine O'Donnell, the Republican candidate for the Delaware Senate seat, who felt compelled to make an ad informing voters that... well...


If you've ever read anything written by Hunter S. Thompson, the original Gonzo journalist, you certainly must have noticed that, while a highly-entertaining, often hilarious writer, Thompson was --well, let's say he was wound a little tight and leave it at that.  Thompson wrote for Rolling Stone magazine, covering Nixon in the '72 presidential campaign.

In 1980, Thompson was the subject of the flick, Where the Buffalo Roam, portrayed (quite well) by Bill Murray.  In the closing sequence, Thompson is seated in the middle of the floor in his isolated woodland cabin, his doberman pincer at his side, and a blow-up doll of Richard Nixon across his lap.  As I recall, he is stroking the doll's forehead and staring off into the distance.  "I'll tell ya one thing," he says, presumably to the doberman pincer.  "It still hasn't gotten weird enough for me."

Well, to the extent that Bill Murray's character at all resembled the real Hunter Thompson, one is compelled to wonder:  Would Hunter Thompson think it was weird enough for him now?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Canvassin' for Kitzhaber

Governor Kitzhaber has a lot of support in my neighborhood
Sunday morning, I took a stroll down the street to Governor Kitzhaber's campaign headquarters.  Earlier in the week, I'd made a commitment to do some canvassing and, even though the weather was, as we say here in Oregon, "kinda sucky," a man has got to stand by his word, eh?

Señor Ardillo gave me a quizzical eye as I walked past
I arrived at headquarters to find the staff well involved with preparations.  Looming rainclouds had them stuffing campaign literature into plastic sheet protectors, sorted into neat packets for the volunteers.  Congressman Earl Blumenauer deployed some of his office staff to help with the canvass effort, and a steady influx of volunteers made their way through the doors.  Bagels and coffee were on hand to give people a little fuel to burn while they walked around the neighborhoods.
Weatherized campaign materials
 I learned a couple interesting tidbits during the brief training session/low-key pep rally:
  • the single biggest predictor of how a person will vote is the neighborhood in which that person lives
  • every 50 contacts made in a canvassing operation results in 4 extra votes, an 8% return on investment
This weekend was the beginning of the Big Push.  Most Oregon voters by now have received their ballots.  So from here to election day, it's a matter of reminding voters to get the ballots completed and turned in.

Pre-canvass training session
We were told that we would be contacting "likely voters" (voters who have voted in the last two elections).  Our contacts were further winnowed down to registered Democrats, Independents, and Republican women. 

Training completed, I was assigned to walk turf in the Hollywood District, south of Killingsworth Street between 37th and 41st avenues.  The neighborhood had a high concentration of Democrats.  My canvass sheet identified roughly every other house as a potential Kitzhaber voter.  I knocked on a lot of doors. 

Richard Lancefield
My canvassing partner was the loquacious and sage Richard Lancefield, a retired Portland attorney and fellow native Oregonian.  We got along famously.  Richard has a lot of great ideas about how to organize people.  

The weather was miserable:  intermittent, intense showers, gnawing coolness. 

The face says it all...
 If we're to believe the polls, the race is a dead heat between the Governor and his opponent, brick-laying former Trailblazer, Chris Dudley (46% career free throw shooter).   Dudley has a lot of money to throw at the race; millions more than the governor.  But here in Oregon, the Republicans still don't have an answer for the Democratic ground game.

We shall see...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Caught in the traffic


Gettin' caught in the traffic ain't all that bad
Those days when the end of the road
Is a dark, lonesome place full of heartache and pain
When the person in the mirror's got a face you don't know

It was twenty-five years since Johnny quit school
He'd worked every day of his life
When the foreman one day told him "Son, the job's done"  
He took the long road drivin' home to his wife;

Gettin' caught in the traffic ain't all that bad
Those days when the end of the road
Is a dark, lonesome place full of heartache and pain
When the person in the mirror's got a face you don't know

On his knees Billy swore that he'd always love Gail
And he wed her on the first day of fall
But he fell with Melinda on a warm night in spring
Thought of Gail on the long homeward haul

Gettin' caught in the traffic ain't all that bad
Those days when the end of the road
Is a dark, lonesome place full of heartache and pain
When the person in the mirror's got a face you don't know

By the time that I found you I knew my own sins
And I felt sure I'd put them away
But the demon inside me still juts out his chin
On the night road comin' home I might stray  

Gettin' caught in the traffic ain't all that bad
Those days when the end of the road
Is a dark, lonesome place full of heartache and pain
When the person in the mirror's got a face you don't know

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Maty Bombay comes home to the old bachelor


This very evening, my darling wife, Maty Bombay, returns from her month-long sojourn in Ouagadougou.  I'm both anxious and happy.  It's been a rough stretch of road while she's been gone.  I started reverting to some of my old bachelor habits, very few of which are savory.  It'll be good to have her here, whipping me into shape.

These 4 and a half years we've been married have flown by like the wind.  Before Maty, I was single for so long that, even now, domestic life seems alien to me.

But I like it.  

Not every day is sugar, 'tis true.  I'll still say it to anyone that cares to listen:  I sure did get lucky.  Yeppers.  Damn lucky, indeed.
Congregation gathers down by the riverside
Preacher stands with his Bible groom stands waitin' for his bride
Congregation gone and the sun sets behind a weepin' willow tree
Groom stands alone and watches the river rush on so effortlessly
Lord and he's wonderin' where can his baby be
Still at the end of every hard earned day people find some reason to believe

--Reason to Believe, Bruce Springsteen

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wild-eyed prophet speaks


I'm learning to hate all those round-eyed cows
Lowing, chewing cud, pushing hard-nailed hooves
Into the soft earth, leaving seashell prints on my sandy beach,

Nibbling at grass shoots, unconcerned with cold gray winter's approach,
Peaceful miens indifferent even to doom of the cattle car
Mocking, belittling and then ignoring my cold white fury,

Never presenting adequate target for branding iron tongue,
Born of despair and frustration and ev'ry evil humor;
They just keep right on lowing and nibbling,

Off'ring bitter reminder:  clenched fists beat only empty air,
Roots ripped from follicles neither bleed nor bear any guilt,
And groaning, molar-grinding mandible is jaw of an ass;

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

2010 mid-term election: Time to vote

John Kitzhaber on the campaign trail
The mid-term elections are upon us.  I received my ballot on Monday and had it filled out and in the mail by Tuesday night.  Here's how I went:

Candidates

US SenatorRick Staggenborg, Progressive

Truthfully, if I thought Ron Wyden was in danger of losing his seat, I would cast my vote for him.  But he is one of the (few) safe incumbents this year, if we can believe the polls and national prognosticators.  So, I followed my heart and voted for the candidate with views closest to mine. 

Here's the line from Dr. Staggenborg's entry in the Oregon Voter's Pamphlet that stuck with me:  "I will work for real health care reform and a Constitutional Amendment to abolish corporate personhood."  Sold!

Representative in Congress, 3rd DistrictMichael Meo, Progressive

Same principle applies here as with the Senate seat:  if I thought Earl Blumenauer might lose, he'd have my vote.  But the GOP has as much chance of winning in the 3rd as Sarah Palin has of being awarded a Pulitzer Prize

I met Michael Meo at the Oregon State Fair back in 2008 and he seemed sincere.  Plus, when I read this blurb in his OVP entry, I knew he was my man:  "I will advocate the withdrawal from over 700 military bases around the world, and the prosecution of the war criminals who initiated aggressive wars and interventions under false pretenses."  Michael, I hate Dick Cheney, too.

Governor:  John Kitzhaber

See here, here, here, and here.





Treasurer:  Ted Wheeler

Wheeler is a Democrat, endorsed by my party, the Working Families Party.  Plus he has the endorsement of the Oregon League of Conservation Voters.  That's good enough for me.


State Representative, 42nd District:  Jules Kopel Bailey

Jules does a good job.





Metro Council President:  Bob Stacey

I met Bob Stacey at a fund-raiser earlier this year.  He strongly supports protecting our farmlands and rural areas from urban expansion. 







East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District, Director at Large:  Jill Kuehler

Based on her endorsement by the Oregon League of Conservation Voters.



State measures
  • Measure 70 Expands home ownership loans for Oregon veterans, including National Guard

    Yes.  Oregonians should be proud of our veterans.  According to the OVP, this measure has no direct financial effect on state or local government expenditures. 

  • Measure 71 Annual, time-limited Legislative sessions

    Yes.  I think this measure provides greater flexibility for the state legislature, making it more responsive to the annual needs of the state.

  • Measure 72 Allows state to use less expensive mechanisms for routine borrowing

    Yes.  I haven't heard any cogent arguments against this measure.

  • Measure 73 Increases minimum sentences for repeated sex crimes, jail time for repeat drunk driving offenses

    No.  The last thing we need in this state is to incarcerate more people.  There has to be a more progressive, less expensive solution.

  • Measure 74 Establishes medical marijuana supply system and assistance and research programs, limited selling of marijuana

    Yes.  See here or here.

  • Measure 75  Authorizes Multnomah County casino

    No.  I just can't see how a casino would help anything.

  • Measure 76 Continues lottery funding for parks, beaches, wildlife habitat, watershed protection beyond 2014

    Yes.  Lottery revenues are, by their nature, regressive.  But funding for parks, beaches, and wildlife is essential.  Until a better method of funding is in place, the lottery will have to do.
County measures
  • 26-109 Repeals county term limits 

    Yes.  I've never been a fan of term limits.  They restrict my ability to vote for the person I feel is most qualified.

  • 26-110 Multnomah County Official running for office midterm 

    Yes.  I don't think that holding one office should disqualify a candidate from running for another.

  • 26-111 Salary commission for Sheriff and District Attorney 

    Yes.  I have to admit, I cast this vote solely based on the recommendation of the Multnomah County Democratic Party.  I don't know much about the issue.

  • 26-112 Vacancy in office if office-holder leaves district 

    Yes.  This measure will, hopefully, deter well-financed outsiders from worming their way into Multnomah County government.

  • 26-113 Election dates for vacancies limited to the May and November elections 

    Yes.  This seems to be the most cost-efficient implementation.

  • 26-114 Allows Board of County Commissioners to form county library district

    Yes.  Support your local libraries.

  • 26-118 Five-year levy:  Oregon Historical Society Library, Museum, educational programs

    Yes.  Support our state culture and history.
City of Portland measures
  • 26-108 Shall Portland provide public campaign financing to City candidates who meet qualifying requirements and are subject to additional regulatory oversight? 

    Yes.  We should run our national elections like this. 

  • 26-117 General obligation bonds for fire vehicles and emergency response infrastructure

    Yes.  It's needed.
Tri-Met measure
  • 26-119 Bonds to improve transit, particularly for elderly and disabled

    Yes.  The more we invest in public transit, the better.
Well, like I said, my ballot was in the mail by Tuesday night.  Let's see what happens...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Economic winter and another pitch for Governor Kitzhaber

Economic winter:  How cold will it get?
I kid you not.  Neighbor Mac and I were standing on the sidewalk in front of my house this Saturday, when I got another reminder of the dire economic situation in our state and in the nation.

I had been sweeping the walkway in anticipation of Maty's return from Africa when Mac came by, walking his dog.  He stopped and we engaged in another of our rewarding discussions about state and national politics.  (Mac's one sharp cookie, folks.)

Our conversation was interrupted when I inadvertently made eye contact with a short, swarthy man, smoking a cigarette, walking down the middle of the street.  He was ambling along, glancing first to one side and then the other.  When he saw me, he called out and approached me with a smile.

"How are you?  Good to see you," says he, extending his hand to me, as if we were long lost acquaintances. I had no recollection of ever seeing him before.  

"Do I know you?" says I, shaking his hand.

"I work for you," he says. At this point, it was apparent that his command of English was tenuous.

I was confused.  "I'm sorry," I said.  "I don't understand."

"You working?" he inquired.  He indicated the broom in my hand and waved at my yard.  "You have work?"

Then I understood.  He was looking for day work, for some way to earn some money.  (Granted, the condition of my front yard could be said to invite such inquiry, but I was still a tad surprised.) 

"No, I'm sorry," I said.  "I don't have any work for you."

The man shrugged and set off down the street, still on the lookout for opportunities. 

"That about says it all, doesn't it?" says Mac.

***

Unemployment in Oregon is reaching desperate levels.  Imagine being so desperate that you take to wandering the streets to randomly ask people if they need help with anything.  Or, going back to the example I laid out last week, imagine being compelled to plunder your life savings to keep yourself in house and home.  I've never in my life seen it this bad.

What can be done?

In the realm of state politics, I believe we have an opportunity to make things better.

Electing John Kitzhaber as governor has the potential to improve our situation and get us on the road to recovery.  Kitzhaber has a plan to employ Oregonians to upgrade public school buildings, to make them energy efficient using Oregon labor.  Our long-suffering construction industry would see an immediate benefit which would, in turn, benefit the peripheral industries that support construction workers.  It's a public works program that recalls the days of FDR and the New Deal, when Americans were faced with similarly trying economic conditions.

Chris Dudley advocates capital gains tax cuts that will supposedly make Oregon more attractive to business.  The idea is that, if we cut taxes for upper income Oregonians, they will then be encouraged to invest in Oregon.  In other words, give money to the people at the top of the income scale and rely on their good will and business acumen to create jobs.

Governor Kitzhaber's plan won't make everything right, but it's a start.  Wouldn't it be better for Oregonians to use tax revenues to put ourselves to work taking care of our infrastructure, than to absolve the plutocrats of their responsibilities for maintaining our society?

As I said to neighbor Mac, there are two ways to do it:  the FDR way, or the Robespierre way.  He got a laugh out of that.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Right there on the edge


I ran into a friend of mine the other day.  The light in the October afternoon was thin; the sun shone gently, like a benevolent, old uncle, biding his time.  

My friend was sitting outside Bagdad Theater, having a pint.  I came upon him from behind, so he didn't see me.  He was talking on his cell phone when I announced myself.  He ended his call and invited me to sit with him.

"Are you working?" I asked.  The last time I'd seen him, he had been looking for work.

"No, I'm not," he said.  For an instant, the words hung in the air, uncomfortably.   "But I've got a lot of irons in the fire," he quickly continued.  "Something will break loose before the end of the year."  The last part didn't seem to have the weight of conviction.  His face was drawn, the corners of his mouth were tight.  As he spoke, he set his elbows on the table, hands clasped below his chin almost as if in supplication. 

My friend is about my age.  He's a colleague from a job in my past.  He's a proud and intelligent man, a man of refined tastes.  I've known him and his wife for perhaps 15 years.

We spent a few minutes sipping the McMenamin's seasonal, shooting the breeze. We talked about a lot of things, just as we always have:  politics, history, mutual acquaintances.  As our talk wended this way and that, bits of information, offered up casually, painted a stark portrait.  My friend has been looking for work seriously for about a year.  He wants to sell his house and move away from Portland, but finds that the real estate market won't bear the sale price he feels he needs.  His straits caused him to plunder his 401K account, leaving his house as his only real asset.

We both acknowledged that unemployment in Oregon (10.3%) is a dire thing.  

I finished my beer, shook my friend's hand, and let him know that I stood ready to help him if I might.  His cell phone rang as I walked away.

That was a few days back.

Tonight, I walked past the Bagdad as darkness fell.  No one was sitting under the space heaters.  People hurried along the sidewalks, eyes fixed inwardly, care written on their faces.

The signal said "Wait" when I reached 37th.  I stood on the corner and thought about the way things stand in my world.  My employer gave me a paltry 1% pay raise this year.  Shortly after I learned of my increase, I was also notified that my personal share of the cost of my employer-provided health insurance was increasing, too.  My "raise" is entombed in a shuffle of payroll deductions.

So, what of it?  I count myself lucky to have a job.  My employment status could change at any time, with no warning.  That's the game we've got today, right here on the edge.

While I was waiting for the walk signal, two young women came to the corner.  They seemed little more than teenagers.  One of them was pushing a pram with a baby.  The signal was against us, but they gave a look both ways and forged out into the intersection, baby and all.

For no reason I could name, I felt foolish.  Then, I followed the young women across the intersection, against the signal.  I was tired of waiting.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

What would John Adams say about the Manhattan Muslim cultural center?

Paul Giamatti as John Adams
The ridiculous clamor around the siting of a Muslim cultural center in a building several blocks away from the (supposedly) hallowed ground of Ground Zero in lower Manhattan seems, thankfully, to have subsided.  At least, for the time being.  Yet, there are those who still believe they are right and proper in demanding that the center be moved to an alternate location, more to their liking.  They hold this position even while admitting their protestations have no legal basis.

"It disrespects the families of the victims of 911," they whine.  (And we all noted how deeply they have respected the feelings of 911 families, right?  Remember when Ann Coulter said "I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much." Remember when Glenn Beck said "It took me about a year to start hating the 911 victim's families.")

Fortunately, the so-called Founding Fathers of this nation include the great John Adams, who foresaw the dangers of populist sentiment run amok and provided a sterling example of how to address such prejudice.  Appealing to the nobler sentiments of rebellious Boston citizens, Adams successfully argued that causa popularis must never be allowed to override the dictates of law.
On the one hand [the law] is inexorable to the cries and lamentations of the prisoners; on the other it is deaf, deaf as an adder to the clamours of the populace. --John Adams in defense of accused British soldiers in the Boston Massacre trial
Adams, of course, was addressing the rights of accused prisoners, but the principle can certainly be extended to Muslims in New York City.  Muslim rights are being threatened by popular animosity.  As I stated before:  "The conversation must hinge on a single question:  are the Muslim citizens acting within their Constitutional rights?  If the answer to that question is 'yes' (which right-wing freaks have already conceded), the conversation is at an end."

This issue is delicious for me, personally.  In defending the rights of Muslims (and, in particular, of my wife) I am taking an unpopular stand.  But that puts me on the same side of history as John Adams.  And, I assert that he was a better man than Sean Hannity or Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh or those ridiculous tea-bagging fools who sometimes don powdered wigs and tricorners but can't remember the words of the very people they pretend to revere.
If, by supporting the rights of mankind, and of invincible truth, I shall contribute to save from the agonies of death one unfortunate victim of tyranny, or of ignorance, equally fatal, his blessings will be sufficient consolation to me for the contempt of all mankind.  --Cesare, Marquis of Beccaria as quoted by John Adams in defense of accused British soldiers in the Boston Massacre trial, 1770

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

More about where we at

Since respected commenters object to the thesis of the Hedges' article I mentioned in my previous post, I'd like to clarify my position a bit.

Is the United States really "over the cliff?"

Dark, reactionary forces seem to be in ascent.  Not just here, in the United States, but all over the globe.  Our national debt is staggering.  Our treasure, which has been squandered in military adventures and short-sighted, greedy policies, is even now leaving our shores for China and India.  Our empire is in decline.  And history offers countless examples of empire in decline that shed light on our potential future.  Rome, 455?  Paris, 1793?  Moscow, 1917? 

(Further, from a purely biological aspect, things look bleak.  Species die-off, global warming, disappearing aquifers, deforestation... it's all leading to something, people.  A while back, I posited an idea (Final Days) about the repercussions of the relatively sudden explosion of the human population on Earth. I haven't read or heard anything to dissipate my fears since then.)

It ain't no picnic getting up in the morning thinking that this country has already seen its best days.  But I can't dismiss the evidence I see all around me.  As I see it, our best hope is that we can somehow accept the new reality with wisdom and grace. I don't hold out much hope on that score.  November 2, 2004, dealt a mortal blow to my faith in my countrymen.

"[H]ippie optimism dies hard," says Joe Bageant, in his article, The Ants of Gaia.  I agree.  I cherish those moments of baseless optimism that come to me, unbidden and unexpected.  And I reserve an irrevocable faith in the Great Whatever:

All will be as it must.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Where we at?

Remember the springtime!
Christopher Hedges, in his recent article, "It's NOT Going to Be Okay," puts it this way:
The daily bleeding of thousands of jobs will soon turn our economic crisis into a political crisis. The street protests, strikes and riots that have rattled France, Turkey, Greece, Ukraine, Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Iceland will descend on us. It is only a matter of time. And not much time. When things start to go sour, when Barack Obama is exposed as a mortal waving a sword at a tidal wave, the United States could plunge into a long period of precarious social instability.

At no period in American history has our democracy been in such peril or has the possibility of totalitarianism been as real. Our way of life is over. Our profligate consumption is finished. Our children will never have the standard of living we had. And poverty and despair will sweep across the landscape like a plague. This is the bleak future. There is nothing President Obama can do to stop it. It has been decades in the making. It cannot be undone with a trillion or two trillion dollars in bailout money. Our empire is dying. Our economy has collapsed.
It seems doubtful that the best days of these United States are ahead of us.  Especially if our recent past is the measure by which we judge our future.  We've entered a dark period.

How will we, as a people, adjust to the new reality?  How will we learn to live with less --much less --than we have had before?

Hedges continues:
How will we cope with our decline? Will we cling to the absurd dreams of a superpower and a glorious tomorrow or will we responsibly face our stark new limitations? Will we heed those who are sober and rational, those who speak of a new simplicity and humility, or will we follow the demagogues and charlatans who rise up out of the slime in moments of crisis to offer fantastic visions? Will we radically transform our system to one that protects the ordinary citizen and fosters the common good, that defies the corporate state, or will we employ the brutality and technology of our internal security and surveillance apparatus to crush all dissent? We won't have to wait long to find out.
Rough sledding, eh?  Who needs some cinematic adaptation of a Cormac McCarthy novel?  Hedges depicts a bleak, frightening vision, made all the more terrifying in that it has proved itself countless times in the course of human events.  And we can see its proofs increasingly every day, all around us.

Do you believe in his vision?  I do.  (Oh, would it were not so!)

Dark Ages, here we come.

As to our condition and who is to blame for it --we've all got red hands, every one of us.  Hanging people won't do any good.  Nobody is as big as this.  Not Obama, not Reagan, not Junior, not even Dick Cheney

We've got a brave, new world on our very doorstep.  Can we find a way to welcome it?   

It's worth a shot, ain't it?

The very fate of humanity hangs in the balance.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Eric needs a hug


SceneSunday afternoon, October 10, 2010.  Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner and Minority Whip Eric Cantor are seated in the back seat of a long Fox News limousine.  Cantor has only just completed a segment on Fox News Sunday where he debated Chief Deputy Whip Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.  Boehner holds a tumbler with a finger of brown bourbon in his left hand; he gazes out the window as the streets of Washington, DC roll by.

Cantor:  Did you see it?  How 'bout that, eh?  I really let her have it.

Boehner: Yeah, real triumph.

Cantor:  Watch out, America!  Here come the Young Guns!

Boehner: snort...  

Cantor:  Poor Debbie!  Pelosi sends her in to the Lion's Den and she runs into my buzz saw.  I want you to know, John, that I consider myself a gentleman.  I don't like making her look bad like that. 

Boehner [curling his lip in a sneer]: Don't mess with the Young Guns, eh, Cantor?
  
Cantor:  You can sneer if you want, John, but just remember, I've got candidates lining up in my stable.  And we might have some say about who becomes the new Republican Speaker in January.

Boehner:  Who says I'm sneering?  [Boehner takes on an expression of mocking kindness.]  Don't you know, Eric?  You've been like a son to me...

Cantor:  What an asshole!

Boehner:  Yeah, well, that gang of Young Guns is an impressive bunch alright.  I hear ol' Rich Iot likes to play army out in the woods. Just like that gang of hillbillies... what was the name?  Hutaree?

Cantor:  John, I didn't like it when Debbie brought that up and I like it a lot less coming from you.

Boehner:  Now, Eric, I want you to remember, it was you who felt the need to remind people how Jewish you are.  It's good politics.  We've got enough problems with minorities, and enough kooks on the ballot that you don't need to drag the backwoods for wanna-be Storm Troopers.

Cantor:  John, that's a slander on my good name.

Boehner [laughing]:  I have truly heard it all now.

Cantor:  I don't get it, John?  You could soon be the Speaker of the House.  It's like you don't want it.

Boehner:  Listen, kid, [he slugs down the last of his bourbon] this rabble of hooligans we've got coming up doesn't play by the rules we're used to.  It's gonna be anarchy, and mark my words, in two years Obama is gonna have us all over a barrel.  Anything that looks like victory this November is going to bury us all.  Mark... my... words.

[They sit quietly.  Boehner goes back to looking out the window.  Cantor sits staring at his knees, his lower lip trembling.]

Cantor :  I hate her.

Boehner:  What the--?  Who are you talking about? 

Cantor :  Debbie.  Representative Wasserman Shultz.  All my life, it's been women like her making me feel this way.  [His voice breaks.]  Maybe I wasn't an athlete.  Maybe I wasn't an intellectual.  Maybe I was just a good-looking kid with a nice smile.  Why wasn't that ever enough?  [He is crying miserably, now, tears streaming down his cheeks.]  Damn it, John!  I just want to be the guy that gets noticed for once.  Why can't it be me, John?  Why can't it ever be me?  [He buries his face in his hands.]

[Boehner gapes, astounded.  First he looks away, but as Cantor continues to sob, Boehner reaches over and pats the distraught man's knee.]

Boehner:  Steady there, old chap.  

[Cantor's sobs grow louder.  He slumps over on the seat, burying his face on Boehner's shoulder.]

Cantor :  It's not fair!  It's not fair!

Boehner [uncomfortably]:  There, there, Eric.  There, there, old boy.  You're still a Republican. Don't forget that.

[Cantor is inconsolable.]

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Mini-series review: John Adams


A silver lining to my temporary state of spouselessness is the endowment of time with which to indulge in pursuits of the intellect.  Thus did I, this weekend, successfully power through all seven episodes of the HBO mini-series John Adams, based on David McCullough's eponymous Pulitzer-Prize winning historical biography.

There is so much to say about this fascinating accomplishment that I scarcely know where to begin.

The cast was superb, top-to-bottom.  But especially masterful were the performances of Laura Linney, as Abigail Adams, and Paul Giamatti in the title role.  Their interactions indicate complete faith in one another as actors.  It is as stately and beautiful as any ballroom dance.

Giamatti has many powerful soliloquies throughout the series, but, in particular, I was taken by his portrayal, in Episode 1, of young John Adams, the Boston lawyer, making his closing argument for the defense in the Boston Massacre trials. 

There are few things I resent more than a production that uses the musical score to manipulate and cue emotion, rather than support and refine.  John Adams, I think, passes the test.  The score is present and powerful, but not overbearing (although at times I was a bit suspicious). 

The series is a visual feast.  The sets and costumes, down to the smallest details, seem true and well-attended-to.  Director Tom Hooper demonstrates considerable skill in his ability to create atmospheres appropriate to the events being depicted.  Examples abound:  the surreal depiction of John Adams, newly appointed United States Minister of Plenipotentiary, in audience with his former sovereign, King George III; the eerie, corrupted vision of John and Abigail occupying a White House built with slave labor.

Besides the acting and the sets, the writing is also superb.  There are no wasted lines and viewers had best be on their toes.  A lot of weighty dialog gets tossed around. On perhaps a dozen occasions, I felt compelled to re-watch a scene in order to keep pace. 

But the most gratifying aspect of the series in my mind is its historical value.  I learned much about the founding of the United States and about the various personalities involved.  The series offered invaluable insights into how the fate of the United States was intricately tied to politics in Europe, of the bitter enmity between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton, of the estrangement of the once-close friends John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. 

The series does not shrink from portraying iconic personalities as real people, with faults, doubts, and flaws.  George Washington appears larger than life, but detached somehow.  Thomas Jefferson is thoughtful, dandy, sophisticated, and deeply radical.  Benjamin Franklin is full of guile and arrogance.

But after viewing the series, I came away with a feeling of intimacy, with John Adams, the man.  The series revealed a daunting, brilliant and ambitious man, troubled by doubt, vulnerable to criticism, and suspicious of passion.  But also a determined man, with a sense of duty and propriety.  And, I hasten to add, a man guided by a strong, willful, and wise woman:  Abigail Adams, John Adams' most trusted adviser and his best friend for 54 years.

Every civic-minded citizen would do well to watch this series.  It teaches and entertains.  How can you beat that?

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Roxanne


Took a walk in the dark
To a place where a poet
Stabbed at my lonesome sorrow
With light-hearted puns about

Sad lonely men clowning
With warm and soft furry kitties
Droning their contentment
In the bed in the winter;

And little pest that messed
Anywhere and everywhere
So proudly indifferent
To my utter befuddlement;

But the true-hearted poet
Couldn't kill that sorry sting
Yet did help me remember
How my heart still held you:

I got the news, little girl.

Adieu, Roxanne, my love!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

If you want to kill the Democrats, kill the Republicans

Okay.  Here's my crackpot pitch to any liberal/progressive out there who is so disgusted with the Democrats that he or she is considering abstention --indeed, that he or she may not vote at all!  This is to a very specific sliver of the "base" of the Democratic Party; to liberals like me.

First of all, your disgust with the Democrats generally, the Obama administration specifically, and Rahm Emanuel and Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson even more specifically, is completely justified.  That bit of legislative sausage-making that was the health care debate was ugly to behold.  And, far from investigating and indicting the obvious criminals in the previous administration, the Obama administration has doubled down on Constitutional abuses in the name of "fighting terror."  It makes my blood boil to think about it.

I understand how liberals might feel that voting is nothing but a civic placebo.  After all, the 2008 election swept in unprecedented majorities in both houses of Congress for the Democrats who, nevertheless, surrendered to the minority on key issues, time after time after time.

But believe it or not, this election offers real hope.  Here's my reasoning:

The GOP is incredibly vulnerable.  With all the political winds at their back, they have set the expectations for this election precariously high.  If they do not make significant gains in the Senate and actually win control of the House, their huge 2010 effort will be viewed as a failure.  In that case, the Tea Party insurgency will erupt into full scale war.  Tea-baggers, already angry with "establishment" Republicans, might actually split off from the party.  The deeply-ruptured Republican party, now deprived of its Know-Nothing base, could simply cease to exist.

Allow yourself a moment to savor that thought.

But then...

"Great!" says disillusioned Lefty.  "So now the Democrats are in control!"

But that's just it, my left-wing comrades!  If the GOP ceases to exist, it will kill the Democrats!  If the Democrats are deprived of their ability to define themselves against the Republicans, they will fracture into their component parts:  labor unions, environmentalists, racial and religious minorities, blue-collar workers, et alia.

New alliances and coalitions would necessarily form, unrestrained by the corrupted two-party system.  At long last, progressives would have a chance to make real change.  We'd have to do it the way liberals always do:  by bringing people together, building coalitions, working with others.  But we'd have a better chance than we have now.

So, let me urge you to vote, lefties.  The GOP is like a hooded cobra, trapped under the handle of a rake.  Now is the time to bash its skull in!  If we can prevent the GOP from gaining control of the House, we can kill it!

Like John Lennon said:  You may say I'm a dreamer... yadda, yadda, yadda.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Left-wing apathy


Much has been said among the national punditry about the "enthusiasm gap" between the political bases of the two major parties as we head into the mid-term elections.  This statistical measurement, derived from various political polling operations supposedly measures the degree of motivation of voters which corresponds to the probability that they will vote in the upcoming election.   You can read an analysis of one such poll here.

Throughout the year, polls that measure this "enthusiasm gap" have consistently shown that the Republican base is more motivated than its Democratic counterpart.  Hence, there is speculation (bordering on certitude) that the GOP will win a majority in the House of Representatives this November, and may even have a shot at winning control of the Senate.  Speaker Boehner!  Oh, boy!

While I'm still holding out hope that the Democrats will retain control of both houses, if they do manage to pull it off, it will be in spite of their ineptitude and cowardice and mostly due to the utter worthlessness and lunacy of the Republican party.

But if the Democrats are vanquished, they have only themselves to blame. 

As an unapologetic "left-wing freak," I'm carrying around a lot of resentment toward Democrats generally (with a few exceptions) and the Obama administration specifically.  They surrendered without a fight on the "public option" of their supposedly landmark health care legislation.  As John Kitzhaber pointed out in his recent debate with Chris Dudley, the end result of the long, ugly debate was little more than a reform of the health care insurance industry.  And I was disgusted at how they coddled and wooed punks like Stinky Joe Lieberman instead of giving him the back of the hand, like he deserved.

There has been no effort to investigate and prosecute the blatantly criminal elements of the Bush administration.  Indeed, Obama and company have continued with many of the very worst of Bush policies:  unending, unwinnable war in Afghanistan, escalation in Pakistan, unconstitutional surveillance of American citizens, circumvention of the Judicial branch of government.

So, when the President and Vice-President and the various mucky-mucks in the national Democratic party chide their base and tell us to "buck up," it just stirs up resentment.  Why the hell should I do you any favors, Mr. President? 

I'm not apathetic, but neither am I enthusiastic.  I still go out and work for Democrats and I will, of course, cast my ballot later this month.  But it won't hurt my feelings if President Obama gets a stern admonishment from voters in this election.  And with Rahm Emanuel out the door, there is a chance that President Obama might just interpret such a development correctly.

Dance with the one what brung ya, Mr. President.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Oregon Governor's debate 2010


Last night, the two major candidates for Oregon governor, Democrat John Kitzhaber and Republican Chris Dudley, participated in a debate sponsored by The Oregonian and KGW Channel 8.  You can see the debate in its entirety here.

When I sat down to watch, I had already made up my mind to support Governor Kitzhaber, and after watching, I'm all the more convinced that he is the only real choice.

Dudley unimpressive

Chris Dudley, it seemed to me, did little more than recite standard GOP talking points.  Cut capital gains taxes, reduce labor costs, decrease regulation.  Is this not, as Governor Kitzhaber pointed out, simply warmed-over trickle-down claptrap that every Republican from Ronald Reagan to Junior Bush has been spewing for the last 30 years? 

Dudley disappointed on so many levels, even granting him allowance for being a political rookie.  His performance often seemed to deteriorate into a mindless repetition of key words.  It was clear that he had been well-briefed by his highly-paid national Republican party operatives about which phrases to reiterate:  a sad and cynical statement about how they view the voting public.

Dudley avoided any specific proposals about how to address the state's budget shortfalls beyond the tired, old Republican meme of cutting "wasteful" spending.  The closest he ever got to a real proposal was to suggest that the Business Energy Tax Credit could be pared down, which seemed to contradict his supposed support for encouraging alternate energy businesses to come to the state.

Further, Dudley disappointed me on a personal level.  I had always liked the man as a person.  But, even after Governor Kitzhaber declined an opportunity to attack Dudley on avoiding Oregon taxes by establishing a residence in Camas, Washington, Dudley took a dig at the Governor.  Rather than return the Governor's magnanimous gesture, Dudley tried to make hay over the pseudo-controversy surrounding Kitzhaber's nomination to the Oregon Investment Council of Jerry Bidwell, from whom Kitzhaber had acquired a home loan.  Nothing pisses me off more than affording a courtesy to an opponent, only to have him ignore your gesture of good will to try to score cheap points.  Bad form, Chris.

It is clear to me that Chris Dudley's ideas for Oregon involve opening the state up to rapacious corporate interests, putting a thumb on working class Oregonians, and freeing the upper echelon of its responsibilities for upkeep and progress.

Kitzhaber commands facts

Again, I can't claim to be objective, but it seemed to me that Governor Kitzhaber displayed his superior knowledge and political acumen right from the get-go.  His answers included detailed (and very wonky) ideas.  I especially liked his proposal to fund an effort to upgrade our public schools to be more energy efficient.  As the Governor pointed out, this would have the advantage of creating jobs here in the state immediately and offer the long-term benefit of cost-savings for heating and cooling public school buildings.

Further, Kitzhaber suggested a targeted capital gains tax cut for corporations that reinvest those savings in Oregon.  Responsible Republicans (if there are such) should be happy about that. 

Governor Kitzhaber also demonstrated his much greater understanding of Oregon.  He pointed out that there is a budding distillery industry in the state, naming specific businesses.  He deftly answered a question about land development that had left Dudley stymied.

Kitzhaber has always preferred to run positive campaigns.  Recall in 1994, when he first ran for governor, and resisted the negative campaigning that his opponent, Denny Smith, reveled in.  Kitzhaber demonstrated yet again that he views such tactics as distractions.

Summa

Chris Dudley is just another of the GOP's cookie-cutter candidates a la Sarah Palin or Junior Bush.  Lacking in capability and intellect, but attractive and able to recite poll-tested phrases.  Further, he's a johnny-come-lately Oregonian, a wealthy outsider trying to elbow his way into the state.

Governor Kitzhaber has the experience, the knowledge, and the genuine love of Oregon that will provide the leadership we need going forward.

I urge you to join me in supporting Governor Kitzhaber.