Thursday, October 27, 2016

Anarchy in Oregon

Patriots? No, armed squatters
With the acquittals of the Bundy Bunch for their 41-day armed takeover of a remote wildlife refuge in eastern Oregon, the jury gave the green light to future takeovers and destruction of government facilities.

If you're white, that is.

This group of Mormon misfits from polygamous areas out of state, are white, save for one Asian-American.

And, these losers were found not guilty of conspiracy and weapons charges by a white jury of their peers in Portland.

If the accused were black, brown or were Native Americans, they would've been convicted and sentenced to lengthy terms in prisons. That is, if they weren't all shot to death at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

The Bundy Bunch caused $4 million worth of damages to the wildlife refuge. And yet, there is no penalty for doing so. Not even a slap on the wrist.

Meanwhile, Native Americans in North Dakota were pepper sprayed and dragged to jail for protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline.

It's easy to see the difference from the Oregon case. One concerns federal government property and the other a private, corporate enterprise.

Of course, there is the obvious difference in the skin color of the protesters.

On a related note, some right-wingnuts consider members of Black Lives Matter as domestic terrorists for protesting peacefully.

What's also sad about the Oregon fiasco is that Native Americans, members of the Burns Paiute Tribe, are the rightful owners of the refuge land in Harney County. In North Dakota, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is the rightful owner of the land for the pipeline.

The Bundy Bunch, or any other white mob, has absolutely no claim to federal lands.

Yet, the all-white jury in Portland evidently believes that they do.

Clearly, federal prosecutors botched the case. Also, defense attorneys did a great job in picking the jury.

In the end, a civil society lost.

Making America Worse Again.

Monday, October 24, 2016

I voted, I mean, I rigged

As we all know, The Donald Trump claims the election is "rigged."

So, instead of voting, I helped "rig" the election in favor of Hillary Clinton.

And, it was so easy.

In Oregon, we've been voting by mail since 1998, the first in the nation to do so. I dropped my ballot off on Friday at the county offices in Bend.

Oregon usually has one of the highest turnouts in the nation because we have a modern, civilized way of voting.

Or, rigging.

Speaking of voter fraud, it is virtually non-existent. But, voter suppression is a growing problem. The Supreme Court helped pave the way.

Yes, the media is also rigging this election because it reports what The Donald says and does and tweets.

Trump, and his groupies, whine that the media is silent on all the negative revelations in Hillary's or her campaign's emails.

They say she is getting a free ride to the White House.

Yeah, just like all those other women in history who've run for president.

What the Trumpettes don't realize is that Hillary has been under the media microscope, often maliciously, for more than 30 years. She's been tarred and feathered multiple times. Now, she is getting blamed for her husband's affairs. That's how low her opponents go.

The voters know Hillary all too well.

The Donald, meanwhile, is getting hostile coverage for the first time in his life. Yes, he's been a tabloid mainstay for years, but no one takes that stuff seriously.

He had the gall to run for president after never running for any other office. So, the media is doing its job in delving into his fraudulent business deals and despicable personal life.

That's not rigging, that's reporting.

After three debates in which Hillary crushed The Donald each time, the polls reflect the reality that voters are preferring her over him.

During the primaries, The Donald crowed day and night about his poll numbers. He even boasted that he "could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody" and wouldn't lose voters.

Well, that was then.

He now calls the polls phony and rigged against him.

He's talking like a loser.

Then again, he's always been a loser and a fraud.

He deserves the shellacking he's receiving in the press and the polls.

Here's hoping for his beat-down on Nov. 8.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

'Nasty woman' crushes clown again

Creepy clown
It was clear that before the last debate, Donald J. Trump was having trouble attracting women, Hispanics and other minorities to his side.

Well, he struck out again Wednesday night with his creepy clown act.

Now, I didn't actually watch the debate, but did see highlights later that showed The Donald's outreach to Hispanics end when he referred to some of them as "bad hombres."

The only time he uttered Spanish, pronounced incorrectly by the way, he used it in a pejorative way.

Trump's "under-reach" to women got slapped back when he interrupted Hillary to say she's "such a nasty woman."

And, the coup de grace, of course, was his waffling about accepting the outcome of the vote on Nov. 8, by saying, "I'll keep you in suspense. Okay?"

Not okay.

It all led to Hillary scoring a hat trick in her debates with The Donald. 

Naturally, the divided electorate saw things differently. 

Ignoring all scientific polls, some on the right say it was Trump who won all three debates.

Therein lies the nadir of the chasm.

As Stephen Colbert said on The Colbert Report, "reality has a well-known liberal bias."

The bias is evident in the belief that this election is "rigged." The vast majority of Republicans believe that it is, while Democrats do not. The reality: It is not rigged. However, gerrymandering has made most Congressional races foregone conclusions.

Also, check out the approval ratings for President Obama and for Congress.

According to the Fox News website, Obama has a 50 percent approval rating. Congress has a 14 percent approval rating which reveals that Democrats and Republicans have a dismal view of Congress.

On the far right, though, conservatives are livid at Congress for "caving in to Obama" on everything he wanted.

The reality is that the tea-bagging Congress has obstructed Obama's agenda for the past six years. They've refused to even consider his nominee for the Supreme Court and promise to block any nominee by Hillary.

Like Trump and Fox News, tea-bagging Republicans have an alternate view of the world that doesn't conform to reality.

The tea-baggers are really irate that their representatives in Congress did not impeach or assassinate Obama. They wanted him gone. And, they failed.

It helps explain why there is so much racial strife in Obama's eighth year in office.

Some angry white Americans are still furious that a black man occupies the White House and they're taking it out on African-Americans across the land.

Should Hillary win next month, I fear that there could be a rise in domestic violence against women, particularly on election night when some men find out that their wives or girlfriends voted for Clinton.

And, American "exceptionalism" will take another beating.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Vote for Hillary, Brown, Wyden and Measure 97

Make America Kind Again
The Oregon Voters' Pamphlet arrived in the mail on Friday and it's 124 pages thick. And, that's just in English.

Along with the traditional statewide races, we have seven statewide measures, plus one Bend measure to vote on.

The state has a record number of citizens registered to vote, thanks, in large part, to the Oregon Motor Voter program that began in January. Oregon has seen a 15 percent rise in registrations with more than 2.5 million signed up. Those folks who aren't registered, have until today (Oct. 18) to do so.

Turnout is expected to exceed 80 percent, thanks to our trail-blazing vote-by-mail system. Ballots should arrive in the mail this week along with property tax bills. If you want to avoid getting hounded on the phone by your political party, it's wise to vote early.

Oregon is definitely a Democratic state these days. When I moved here in 1984, Oregon was reliably Republican, and had been since it joined the Union in 1859.

Those days are long gone.

So far, Democrats (965,357)  have a 265,000 edge in registrations over Republicans (699,921). However, there are nearly as many unaffiliated voters (660,731) as registered Republicans.

It's hard to see a Republican winning a statewide office this year. And, Donald Trump should get trounced here as he will in neighboring Washington and California.

Still, Oregon Democrats overwhelmingly favored Bernie Sanders in the primary. One would think, and hope, that they would vote for Hillary Clinton to avoid the embarrassment of the state going to Trump.

In 2000, the nation's eyes turned briefly to Oregon on election night as Ralph Nader nearly tipped the balance toward George W. Bush. In the end, Al Gore carried the state by less than 7,000 votes.

With all the scandals surrounding Trump, with all his incendiary, racist, sexist and idiotic statements, it's hard to see him doing well in this state.

 In fact, given all the controversy that Trump has caused, if he were a Democrat, he would've been forced out of the race long ago.

Conversely, if Clinton were a man, her forced sincerity and the "scandals" over her e-mails and Benghazi, would've been almost completely ignored.

Yes, double standards exist, and they always will.

Anyway, here are my recommendations for the General Election, 2016.

President: Clinton. She's qualified. The other candidates are not. That said, there are far more Trump posters in rural Central Oregon than Clinton banners. I would hope that the Hispanics who work for farms and ranches in this region realize how much their employers despise them and vote accordingly.

Governor: Kate Brown. She stepped in when John Kitzhaber resigned in disgrace in early 2015 and did a better job running this state than he ever did. This election is only to fill out the rest of Kitzhaber's term.

Senator: Ron Wyden. He's one of the best senators to ever serve this state.

Secretary of State: Brad Avakian. As government becomes more dependent on the private sector, it's important to expand oversight over those companies doing business with the state as Avakian wants to do. Maybe, with more oversight, the Cover Oregon-Oracle debacle would've been caught much earlier

Attorney general: Ellen Rosenblum. Smart, steady and has weak competition on the ballot.

Treasurer: Tobias Read. Chris Telfer is running as on the Independent ticket. She used to be a Republican when she represented Bend in Salem until she was ousted by her party for working with Democrats. Still, Read would fare better in the office because of his close ties to legislators.

2nd Congressional District: Jim Crary. Don't know much about him, but he's definitely better than Greg Walden, a Republican toady who will easily be re-elected in the only Republican-dominated House district in the state.

State Senate District 27: Greg Delgado. A relative unknown, he is still better than Tim Knopp, a career politician, who has served this region poorly for far too long. It's time he get the boot. There are about 1,200 more registered Democrats than Republicans in this Bend-area district, but the significant number of non-affiliated voters of more than 25,000 should return Knopp to Salem.

State House District 54: Gena-Goodman Campbell. She's a neophyte but has the right priorities and endorsements to warrant election to this seat representing the city of Bend. However, she'll likely lose to incumbent Knute Buehler, who is a Republican in Name Only. Got to give Buehler credit, though, for repudiating Trump more than a year ago. Buehler acts like Democrat with his support for women's reproductive health and marriage equality.  It makes sense because registered Democrats (18,234) outnumber Republicans (12,952). But, there are 12,660 unaffiliated voters in Bend and they'll return Buehler to Salem, which will help him in his bid for the governorship in 2018.

Deschutes County Sheriff: Like many sheriff's offices in this country. Deschutes has its share of controversy and inept leadership. For some reason, those attracted to serve in the sheriff's office have a "wild west," pro-firearm mentality. It's hard to endorse anyone for this office.

Deschutes County Commission: Alan Unger. The incumbent from Redmond is a common-sense Democrat who knows how to work well with others. It shows. He's endorsed by the mayors of the major cities in the county. It's impressive that Unger wins as a Democrat because Deschutes County has more registered Republicans (40,647) than Democrats (38,356). Plus, there are 31,018 non-affiliated voters.

Bend City Council: Doug Knight and Sally Russell. These are lukewarm endorsements, at best, because they are running for re-election against inferior competition. The rest running for the other seats are just not worth talking about. We're losing Jim Clinton, who is one of the best councilors to ever serve the city. It doesn't matter who wins because neither the council nor city staff actually runs the city. Rather, a handful of developers, Realtors, and beer magnates dictate the direction of the city, which completely favors the west side over all other areas of the city. Bend, like many cities, is poorly managed. The public works department is pathetic and planning is almost non-existent.

Measure 94: No. It amends the state constitution to eliminate a mandatory retirement age of 75 for state judges. Look, if you're in the private sector, companies want to force you out when you hit your 50s. Plus, 75 is old enough. Let younger lawyers have a chance.

Measure 95: Yes. This amends the state constitution to allow public universities to invest in the stock market to improve their finances. Of course, this is terribly risky, but the universities have no choice because the state has decreased its support for higher education from about 70 percent in the early 1980s to about 7 percent today. This coincides with the anti-tax/government movement that has decimated the basic infrastructure in this country, which includes education.

Measure 96: No. This dedicates 1.5 percent of lottery net proceeds to fund support services for Oregon veterans of the Armed Forces. This is a noble measure, but veterans' services are the responsibility of the federal government. This state has no extra money to spend on veterans.

Measure 97: Yes. This measure increases the corporate minimum tax when sales exceed $25 million. A no-brainer, really. Corporations pay less here than in 49 other states. This measure only affects about 1 percent of the corporations doing business in Oregon. In the Voters' Pamphlet, there are 14 pages devoted to screeds against the measure and only six pages in favor. That tells you corporations are a little scared of this measure and that's a damn good thing. Plus, some opponents of this measure are whining about the placement of their arguments in the Voters' Pamphlet. That's another reason to vote for this measure. Shut them up.

Measure 98: Yes, but. This measure requires state funding for dropout prevention from Oregon high schools. Oregon has one of the worst dropout rates in the country and it makes sense to try and reverse this trend. Yet, there is no money to pay for this measure. It's an unfunded mandate, unless Measure 97 passes. Oh well, better to try and improve education than give another tax break to a multinational corporation.

Measure 99: Yes. This measure funds outdoor school programs statewide though lottery funds. This is a much better way to spend lottery dollars. The more we invest in the front end, the less we have to deal with on the back end.

Measure 100: Yes. Prohibits purchases or sale of parts or products from certain wildlife species. Do we really need more aphrodisiacs? We aren't that backwards, are we?

Measure 9-110: Yes. This measure imposes a local 3 percent tax on the sale of recreational marijuana in Bend. We should also have a local tax on beer, wine and hard liquor. If we want to curb less-desirable habits, we should tax them heavily like we do with tobacco products.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Can't this election be over already?

America: Make Trump Go Away
Haven't we suffered enough?

Can't we make this presidential race just stop?

It's easily the worst in American history, thanks to Donald "Cheetos" Trump.

The best thing about it is how the Republican Party is imploding before our eyes. And, it's a beautiful sight.

It's richly deserved, of course. The GOP sold its soul to the racists, bigots and sexists decades ago.

Trump is the ugly personification of years of race-baiting by Republicans. And, he's taking the party down with it.

The Republican rats are fleeing the sinking ship of Trump.

Even Paul Ryan, the Republican Speaker of the House, will no longer defend or campaign with Trump. Of course, the Congressional tea-baggers are throwing their Lipton's tea-bags at Ryan.

Conservative pundits from the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and New York Times have all bailed on The Donald.

Former Russian chess champion Garry Kasparov said Trump reminds him of Vladimir Putin.

Another good thing about his election is that Oregon is not a battleground state and we aren't barrel- bombed with negative advertising the way they are in Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania.

But that bar is so low, we're  still stuck in the muck of a endless commentary and media hype.

No major newspaper or publication, outside of the National Enquirer, has endorsed Trump, so far.

Even papers in Arizona and Ohio, that always endorse a Republican, have spurned The Donald. I guess we finally do have a "liberal media" now. Who knew?

Of course, newspaper endorsements are no longer worth the paper they're printed on, but it does give an indication that Trump is not preferred by most people with brains.

Which means the millions of Americans who back Trump are not the brightest bulbs around.

And, yes, some of them are deplorable.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

OSU-Cascades not a nice neighbor

Another OSU-C 'solution' to the parking problem
It came as no surprise to anyone that OSU-Cascades on Bend's west side created a parking nightmare the first week it opened.

Students and faculty parked on nearby streets while the small parking lot on the 10-acre campus was largely empty.

The smarty-pants running OSU-C had the bright idea that they needed to charge $5 a day for parking in the campus lot to pay for snow-removal and re-striping in the years to come.

Well, they quickly dropped the price to $2 a day, but the problems with the west-side campus will only deepen and widen as the campus grows from a couple hundred full-time students now to 5,000 in the future.

To the laughter of many in the community, OSU-C officials put fliers on windshields of cars parked on public streets urging drivers to find other ways to get to school.

These alternatives include walking or cycling for those within a two-mile radius saying it's such a healthy activity. Uh, there is little housing within two miles of the campus that is affordable to a young college student.

Plus,the westside is not exactly pedestrian- or bike-friendly with sidewalks or bike lanes only on the main roads.

Also, it snows more on Bend's west side. Most streets, let alone sidewalks, are plowed irregularly when the snow falls. It makes cycling or walking difficult and hazardous.

The school has an auxiliary parking lot, but it's about three-quarters of a mile from the campus.

The flier suggested people carpool. Again, students are scattered all over town because of the lack of affordable housing in much of Bend, but particularly on the west side.

The school also suggests taking the bus and it will subsidize their commute.

The bus service, called Cascades East Travel, is hardly an extensive or reliable system. It has 10-fixed routes in Bend, but it can take a half-hour to get from one side of town to the other. The system only operates from 6 am to about 7:30 pm.

Most people in Bend, including me, wanted to see a four-year university here.

And, most citizens in Bend, me included, wanted to see OSU-C located at the planned location at Juniper Ridge on Bend's northeast side where it would be most accessible to most communities in the region.

Juniper Ridge has the most land in the city available for a large university. The city's most affordable housing is in the northeast section of town. The most affordable and extensive shopping areas are near Juniper Ridge.

And, in terms of snow removal from parking lots, it snows a lot less in northeast Bend than in southwest Bend, where the current campus is located.

The leaders of OSU-C didn't care about any of these facts. The didn't listen to the community at large.

Rather, it gave most Bendites the middle finger by ignoring citizen complaints about the west-side location . OSU-C is a lousy neighbor and it always will be. It's in the wrong location and nothing is going to change that.