Friday, December 21, 2007

Purpose Driven Care?

Last night Rick and Kay Warren appeared on the Hannity and Colmes show. They were interviewed about their current crusade to help AIDS victims. It’s a laudable goal. However, the way it came to Pastor Rick and Kay’s attention leaves deep questions about the ingrown nature of these Purpose Driven leaders and their movement.

Kay said she originally thought AIDS was just a gay disease and since she didn’t know anyone with that disease it had nothing to do with her. She said she didn't know its wider impact on the rest of society. She first became aware of its significance after reading an article about how AIDS is devastating Africa. She talked to Rick and helped him see the importance of the problem.

Alan Colmes pointed out the first problem: Kay Warren didn’t think that gay-related health issues would be of concern to her. Kay agreed that she was wrong on that and has had a turn around in her views. That’s positive.

But, one wonders what kind of closed view the Warrens had that they would think that a devastating disease for any segment of the population would not be important.

The second problem is the apparent cocoon that the Warrens lived in--maybe still live in. Didn’t they ever read the newspaper or even watch television news? The knowledge of the growing AIDS crisis in Africa has been around since the mid-1980's.
Even more specific to their church leadership role, in all their years at Saddleback Church did they never have a part in sending missionaries to help Africans? Did they not talk to those missionaries about major problems Africans are facing--including AIDS?

The good news is that the Warrens, and hopefully other Purpose Driven leaders, are becoming aware that human need is more central to the Gospel than comfortable worship style. What’s not so encouraging is that this was a recent major discovery as regards AIDS.

One is left to wonder if this is only a small distraction for the Purpose Driven movement from its general direction towards making Christianity simpler, more comfortable and more appealing to middle class America. Is it throwing easy surplus dollars and spare time at a problem and then going back to comfortable everyday life? Or is it the beginning of a call to transformation from a lifestyle of upscale multi-million dollar church campuses and comfortable homes, cars and blingy do-dads to a simpler, sacrificial lifestyle that really cares about pleasing God and helping people in desperate need?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Change of Heart at the Oregonian

Good for the Oregonian in seeing the error of its original position in the case of baby Gabriel Allred.

Steve and Angela Brandt, Gabriel’s parents since he was four months old, want to adopt him. But the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) has ruled that Gabriel should be sent to live with his grandmother in Mexico even though she has had no contact with him and, though she knew of his existence, did not seek contact with him until contacted by DHS officials about the prospect of caring for him and receiving a $400 monthly payment.

Sunday’s editorial cited one of the facts the Oregonian left out of their original editorial: “Caseworkers closest to the situation urged their superiors to let Gabriel remain in the care of the Brandts.”

Professionals who actually had hands on knowledge of the situation and personal knowledge of Gabriel were shunted aside by two professional panels who felt they could make a better decision without knowing anything personal about the little boy.

Some other factors to consider:

1. The panelists gave little thought to the fact that a Meth baby needs special care. Gabriel was getting that as well as love and a secure environment with the Brandts. If Gabriel is sent to Mexico, who will assure that he gets special attention and needed treatment?

2. The panels seemed to give no thought to the fact that Gabriel’s father, whose parental rights were taken away because he was twice convicted of attempted rape of a child, was going back to Mexico. Though Gabriel’s grandmother has said she has asked her son to stay away, while her son was doing drug dealing in the US he was sending $500/month to her. What are the chances that a mother would keep a son from his son--especially a son who had shown his commitment to her and the family by sending substantial monthly sums to her while he was able to do so?

3. The panels thought it worthwhile to inflict on 2 year old Gabriel a horrible trauma that will leave lasting psychological scars in ripping him away from the only family he has ever known and sending him to a family that he not only has had no contact with but which speaks a different language and lives in a different culture.

Not to mention the fact that after Gabriel is sent to Mexico, Oregon DHS will have no way to monitor Gabriel’s health, development or safety in Mexico. The panels, unlike the professionals who actually had oversight of Gabriel's care, valued abstract rules over the real little boy.

There are many good people in DHS, but apparently the people at the top don’t listen to the professionals on the ground, and so they come up with dysfunctional decisions. Unfortunately, this is one in a long string of DHS decisions that have been against the interests of the children DHS is supposed to protect. Some of those decisions have even resulted in the death of children (Ashley Pond and Miranda Gaddis).

The Oregonian summed up the essence of this case:

The alternative, the one chosen by two state panels that considered his case, was to send Gabriel to a country he has never known, to live with relatives who speak a language he has hardly ever heard, to be ripped from the only functioning family, and the only abiding love, he ever has known.

This decision, which we once applauded, no longer seems to us the best for Gabriel. Gov. Ted Kulongoski and Department of Health Services Director Bruce Goldberg have been doing much hand-wringing of late. They are stalling, waiting on Bryan Johnston, the new interim head of Oregon's child welfare system, to make the final call. Johnston now has the authority to overturn the earlier decision to send Gabriel to Mexico. He should do exactly that.

(emphasis mine)

The Oregonian is right. The best thing for Gabriel’s welfare is to overturn DHS’s dysfunctional decision made over the objections of the DHS professionals who actually worked with Gabriel. This would also follow the recommendation of Gabriel’s court appointed advocate.

Lars Larson deserves a lot of credit for bringing out significant facts in this case that Portland print and television media (though not the Newport News-Times) have failed to mention.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

MHCC - Fun Night of Music

Wednesday night Mt. Hood Community College showed off its Symphonic Band, Orchestra and Choir.

You can see the symphonic band's performance of Thomas Allen's Whip and Spur Galop directed by Susie Jones here and the Symphonic Choir and Orchestra's Chorale: Gloria Sei Dir Gesungen from Bach's Cantata 140 directed by Marshall Tuttle here.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Picking Up an Easy $1 Million

From last Saturday's Oregonian editorial, No letup in the Swift-boating of Kerry:

In a half-baked book and a sleazy series of TV ads, a group calling itself Swift Boat Veterans for Truth accused Kerry of lying about his military service. Though many of the allegations were quickly proved to be false by fellow veterans and newspaper investigations, the rickety charges grew like a fungus in the anti-Kerry swamp of talk radio and right-wing punditry.

In a blunder that likely cost him the election, Kerry refused to run ads responding to the vicious attacks. Worse, he muted his own response, not wanting to legitimize what he correctly saw as the dirtiest of politics.
. . .

Now Kerry, who is up for re-election, is fighting the Swift-boaters again. One of the challengers for his Senate seat is already taking aim at Kerry's military record, and Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens, who helped finance the 2004 mud-slinging, offered this month to pay $1 million to anyone who can disprove even a single charge of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

This time Kerry responded the way he should have in 2004. He personally accepted Pickens' brash offer and offered to travel to Dallas to meet with him in a public forum or invite him to come to Massachusetts.

There is an obvious problem with the Oregonian’s assertion that “many of the allegations were quickly proved to be false by fellow veterans and newspaper investigations.” If that were true, the allegations might live on (as theories of the destruction of the Twin Towers being an inside job will undoubtedly live on), but they wouldn’t be politically potent.

Apparently this is a potent issue with current Massachusetts voters. Strange because Massachusetts is not known to be widely swayed by “talk radio and right-wing punditry.”

So, what is the real problem? The Dan Rather smear on Pres. Bush’s national guard service did become a non-issue in the 2004 election precisely because the key evidence was quickly proved false. But, the Swift Boat issue was not similarly put to rest. It’s still here in 2008.

The difference in the two cases is that the people who made the Swift Boat allegations were fellow veterans who served in the same battle zone as Kerry. When you pit testimony from actual participants against each other, especially when the larger group is on the anti-Kerry side, it’s not that easy to prove a charge false--especially if what is at issue is the truthfulness of the official reports.

Talk with WWII vets, or any war vets, and you will hear lots of stories about official incompetence and records that didn’t reflect what really happened.

Sen. Kerry responded in 2004 as Pres. Bush responded--basically with silence.

It worked for Pres. Bush because the evidence truly was “rickety” and easily disproved. Poor Dan Rather lost his career over it.

It didn’t work for Sen. Kerry because his witnesses were fewer in number than opposing witnesses.

When witness accounts of an event vary, it becomes he said/she said (or in this case, he said/he said). When the witnesses on both sides are decorated veterans who have risked their lives to serve their country, you either take it as a wash, or you take the view that best fits your own preferences.

The editors at the Oregonian have their preferences. But, those preferences are not the same as proven facts. That’s why the $1 million isn’t such an easy snatch for Sen. Kerry--or even an enterprising Oregonian editor.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Larry Schweikart Was Right on Iraq

Larry Schweikart, history professor at the University of Dayton, is author of America's Victories: Why the U.S. Wins Wars and Will Win the War on Terror. On June 14, 2006--over a year ago--Schweikart was interviewed about the probability of success in Iraq.

Remember this was long before good news started coming out. Schweikart said the war had already been won in 2004 and the terrorist movement would be in "the death throes" by 2007 or 2008.

If you ask any historian, “When did we win the war in the Pacific?” the answer would almost always be, “Midway.” After that, Japan couldn’t win — the only issue was the final, often gruesome, death toll. Think of that! That’s years before Iwo Jima or Okinawa, and yet historically the war was over after June 1942. Likewise, if you look at the Filipino Insurrection (1899-1902, followed by the “Moro Wars”) — which mirrors Iraq very closely, the war was over when William McKinley was reelected. It took two more years for Emilio Aguinaldo to admit defeat, but his stated goal of forcing a political solution by “un-electing” McKinley was finished. I think we hit the “tipping point” in Fallujah in November 2004. After that, the terrorists could no longer hold up in any town for long, nor could they organize effectively. Zarqawi’s recent death closely resembles our Pacific model as well when American P-38s ambushed Isoroku Yamamoto and killed him. Historically, of the 11 “insurgencies” and “guerilla wars” of the 20th century (including Vietnam), the government (in this case, that would be us) won eight. However, most of these took between five and eight years to win. That places us right on our timetable, which is to expect the death throes of the terrorists in Iraq in another year or two.
[emphasis mine]

Here's a man a president might want to look to for counsel.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Good for Gov. Kulongoski!

According to KGW-TV, Gov. Ted Kulongoski is looking into taking action in the Baby Gabriel case.

Today Governor Kulongoski said he is waiting for the Attorney General’s Office to tell him if he has authority to step into the case, and if he does have authority, what his options are.

When asked if the boy should be sent to live in Mexico Kulongoski seemed to lean towards keeping him in America.

. . .

“If you’re asking me just as a citizen, not based on the law or anything else--the kid’s an American citizen,” he said.

When pressed on whether he wanted to keep Gabriel in Oregon, Kulongoski laughed and said, “I can’t say that. It's just an emotional reaction. It isn’t made on anything--I just have this belief about this country."

KATU has a better review of the legal issue.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Baby Gabriel Update

From Lars Larson's site:

Monday, November 5, 2007
Help support Baby Gabriel's legal fund
Contribute to Baby Gabriel's legal fund at any Washington Mutual Bank under the Baby Gabriel fund

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Oregonian Leaves Out Key Facts

Gabriel Allred

In today's editorial on 2 year old Gabriel Allred, Oregonian editors leave out key issues in the case. The Newport News-Times lays out a ton of facts the Oregonian ignores.

Valiente-Martinez [Gabriel's biological father] is currently serving a prison sentence for a drug conviction. He is also a convicted sex offender, having been found guilty of raping a 12-year-old girl. Valiente-Martinez is scheduled to be released later this month from the Oregon State Correctional Institution in Salem, after which time he will be deported to Mexico because he is in this country illegally.
. . .

"(Valiente-Martinez) gets out (of prison) on Oct. 22, and he's going to be deported immediately," Steve Brandt said. And when Valiente-Martinez gets to Mexico, he intends to move into the home where his mother lives - where DHS is proposing to send Gabriel.

. . .
The Brandts have appealed the Sept. 28 decision by DHS to send Gabriel to live with his grandmother. And, appeals were also filed by Gabriel's caseworker in Lincoln County, by the Newport attorney representing the child, and by a court appointed special advocate working on his behalf. "So there are four appeals," Brandt said. "Everybody filed an appeal who could."

[emphasis mine]

The Oregonian's take is that the case is fueled by bigotry.

Came then the outrage, surely -- shamefully -- inflamed because the border being crossed in this debate is with Mexico rather than, say, Canada.

And that the key issues are cultural and family ties:

Oregon's Department of Human Services did not make this decision on a whim. It made it on a policy that clearly states the primacy of family and cultural ties. Placing rescued children with relatives -- reuniting families -- is a priority for a very simple reason. In the long run, and in the majority of cases, it makes the most sense.

The cultural issue is specious in the case of Gabriel. He was born here and raised here. Surely his culture is American. Added to that, one of his parents is American. So, culturally, it's 2 to 1.

And as the Newport News-Times points out, the DHS professionals who actually know Gabriel, think he should not be sent to his grandmother in Mexico.

Both Steve and Angela Brandt are quick to point out they have been very pleased with the job done by DHS personnel in Lincoln County. "They really have been very good to us," Steve Brandt said. "There's not anybody that doesn't think we're the best place for this kid except this doggone DHS committee that took place on the 28th, and they're all strangers. These are people who don't know Gabriel, don't know anything other than what they're told or shown. So all the local people that have been working with us for 20 months, they don't get a vote. It's just these three strangers.

"They had all this information in front of them when they made their decision," continued Brandt. "They knew about the guy in prison, they knew he would go back to Mexico when released and deported, and yet they still made this decision only based on the fact that he has a blood relative in Mexico."

Shame on the Oregonian for raising a red herring (bigotry), failing to mention key facts, and leaving out that DHS professionals disagree in this case.

As for Oregon DHS, it's time for the Governor to haul in yet another Oregon state agency intoxicated with its rules rather than acting in the interest of those it is supposed to protect.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

State's Incompetence Keeps Snowball-ing

From Oregonian reporter Jessica Bruder's State defies court order today:

They won't let the doe go.

Oregon Department of Justice officials announced Tuesday that they will defy a court order to return Snowball to her former keepers by the end of the day today.

. . . .

On Monday, Clackamas County Circuit Judge Eve L. Miller ordered the state to return Snowball within 48 hours to Jim Filipetti and Francesca Mantei.

Stephanie Soden, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, said the state doesn't have to comply with Miller's order because state attorneys are in the process of appealing her decision.

"By filing the notice of appeal, that entitles the Department of Fish and Wildlife to an automatic stay of the judge's order," Soden said.

I wonder if that would have worked if Filipetti had said that to ODFW officials when they came to seize Snowball and Bucky. Or any of the rest of us when presented with a court order by the State of Oregon? I doubt it. But, the State can pick and choose which laws it obeys.

The Department of Justice spokeswoman went on to decry the possibility of setting a dangerous precedent:

Miller's decision could set a dangerous precedent, she [Stephanie Soden] said.

"We believe the implications of the ruling are broader than this one specific case," she said. "We believe it has the potential to impact numerous future cases, including criminal cases in which property is in the hands of someone who is not legally entitled to have it."

In cases that a district attorney decides not to prosecute, she suggested, the ruling might compel law enforcement agencies to return stolen property to thieves.

"I think right now prosecutors face dwindling resources, and they're not able to prosecute every case that comes across their desk," she said.

I guess defying a court order isn't setting a dangerous precedent. Not to mention seizing property under the guise of using it for evidence in a criminal case and then refusing to return it. If ODFW or the Department of Justice seize your car or wallet or anything else they say they want as evidence in a criminal case and decide not to use it, I guess they can just keep it.

The State's incompetence in this matter keeps Snowball-ing. And now seems to be morphing into malfeasance. Is there anybody with any sense at the helm of government in Oregon?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Who's Silly?

Today from the Oregonian editors on an anti-Measure 50 ad:

The industry's last TV spot veers into silly desperation, attacking Measure 50 because it's a constitutional amendment. So what? This state's Constitution is full of scores of amendments, and the Legislature referred this one only because too many lawmakers, having taken campaign money from the tobacco folks, wouldn't pass it as a statute.
[emphasis mine]

How embarrassing from a newspaper that has decried too many initiative petitions that overcrowd the ballot. But, overcrowding the state Constitution isn't a problem? If you can't get something approved as a statute, it's okay to put it in the constitution?

The logic is so lame that one feels a bit sheepish going after the Oregonian on this. If we were in a boxing match, the referee would have stopped the fight.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The War

Last night I and a World War II Pacific bomber pilot watched the first installment of Ken Burns’ The War.

The War underlines some of the key facts about mobilizing a nation and winning a war. It does this in the engaging, deeply moving way that has become Burns’ hallmark.

President Roosevelt and his advisers realized that mobilizing and maintaining public support was key. Concerns about civil liberties, open government, and free speech and press were secondary.

1. The government didn’t give information on US weaknesses and failures. (Only after the war did the public find out about U.S. military weakness and lack of response to the plight of U.S. servicemen fighting in the Pacific theater.)

2. Reporters had limited access to the war front. (When, after seeing how the Japanese treated American captives, American soldiers killed Japanese prisoners, no one was there to report it--and there is no indication that they would have or could have reported it in any case.)

3. The civilian government ran the war with an eye on political necessity even going against military counsel at times (opening a front in Africa--not Europe).

4. The war effort was 100%

- Tens of thousands of American citizens were deprived of essential civil liberties merely through executive order. Executive Order 9066 forced relocation to camps for Japanese-Americans (and to a much lesser extent German-Americans and Italian-Americans) with the loss of personal and business property that comes with forced removal from one’s home area. And, of course, there was the censoring of every military person’s correspondence home.

- Volunteers poured into the military service.

- Draftees reported without anti-war demonstrations or significant attempts to evade service.

- Citizens invested heavily in war bonds.

(In upcoming installments one expects to see treatment of the extensive nation-wide rationing program and the dropping of the atomic bomb. Both of which had extensive public support at the time--and still today among most of those who served during the war.)

The World War II vet thought it was a good representation of what really happened based both on his personal experience and extensive reading on World War II.

I thought it said a lot about why the US has had trouble winning even small wars since then.

President Reagan’s military-economic “outspend them” tactic has been the only wildly successful plan. Korea is still a mess. Vietnam was a loss. Iraq 1 didn’t settle much. Bosnia is still a trouble spot. Afghanistan has had success but still has smoldering embers. And Iraq 2 is just starting to see progress.

Military might doesn’t do well in a limited engagement format. Our only rousing military success (besides the Revolutionary War) is World War II. What worked then was a massive response (at home and abroad) and “unconditional surrender” policy. That brought not only military victory, but those we defeated actually became our friends and allies.

The War gives a lot to ponder.

Thompson Up

Fred Thompson went up a tick with his rather classy, sensible response to a baiting question on James Dobson’s “private” criticism of him.

"If in fact this e-mail ... reflects his views, so be it," Thompson said. "I have a lot of friends who I think are friends of his who have a high regard for me, and I'm very proud of that."

Count me as a friend of Dobson who is having higher regard for Thompson--and feeling bad that Dr. Dobson isn’t more careful about sending private e-mails to people who give them to the AP.

In a private e-mail obtained by The Associated Press, Dobson accuses the former Tennessee senator and actor of being weak on the campaign trail and wrong on issues dear to social conservatives.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Strange Headline

What do you expect in a state where assisted suicide is legal?

Oregonian reporter Don Colburn notes the “serious problem” doesn’t even include those who “legally” commit suicide.

Terminally ill people who end their lives by a doctor-prescribed drug overdose under Oregon's unique-in-the-nation Death With Dignity Act are not counted as suicides.

The rate among the elderly is especially high:

Suicide rates are higher among men and military veterans, and they rise steadily with age. Among Oregonians older than 65, the rate is 78 percent higher than the national average.

Victimization of the elderly was a trend noted last year by USA Today:

The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected the Bush administration's attempt to block the only state law that allows doctors to prescribe drugs to help the terminally ill end their lives.

The 6-3 decision that upheld Oregon's assisted-suicide law opens the door to similar laws elsewhere at a time when evolving demographics — baby boomers are entering their 60s — are pointing toward a spike in the elderly population. That is fueling debates over how patients end their lives.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Thomas Anthony Casoria--Hero

[Following is my 2006 post for 9/11. I don't think there is a better memorial to the real heroes or a better way to underline the evil that still faces the United States. We will need to sacrifice, as Thomas Anthony Casoria did, to defeat it.]

Thomas Anthony Casoria was killed by Al-Qaeda terrorists on September 11, 2001.

Tommy was only 29. He was a firefighter with the New York Fire Department, Engine Company 22. He lived his life in direct opposition to the values of the terrorists. He died trying to save lives.

Tommy responded to the call for help in Tower One of the World Trade Center. Here's what one of his cousins, Jo-Ann Casoria, wrote:

Tommy absolutely loved his job and he loved sharing stories of his workdays with his older brother, Carlo, also a firefighter.


Tommy radioed in his location twice after Tower Two fell. He and two of his "brothers," Vinny Kane and Mike Elferis, were carrying a paraplegic down the stairwell, when a call came in that another firefighter needed aid. Tommy answered that call, as he did many others.

Tommy was engaged to be married. Though he never got the chance to spend those happy honeymoon years with his fiancee, Terri, or raise a family, he left a legacy of love and friendship along with his heroism.

One of Tommy's friends, Richard Vitale, wrote:

Let me tell you about Tommy. This man was the funniest guy I ever worked with. It was always a blast. Tommy could simulate anyone's voice with great detail. I never worked with anyone like him. What a great guy! Tommy knew what was right and what was wrong. He never crackled under peer pressure. Even when he tried to work for me for Thanksgiving. He stood strong. That was some reaction we got from the Truck, wasnt it, Tom. Maguire got red as a tomato. I remember when he told me he was going to get married. He was so happy and in Love. What a big smile he had on his face. I teased him about "dont do it", however,I thought what a lucky man to be in love this much. Tommy was respected and loved by everyone.

This is a day to remember the heroism of Thomas Anthony Casoria.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Pay Me Now or Pay Me Later

The President today at the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention in Kansas City, Missouri:

[headings are mine]


Ultimately, the United States prevailed in World War II, and we have fought two more land wars in Asia. And many in this hall were veterans of those campaigns. Yet even the most optimistic among you probably would not have foreseen that the Japanese would transform themselves into one of America's strongest and most steadfast allies, or that the South Koreans would recover from enemy invasion to raise up one of the world's most powerful economies, or that Asia would pull itself out of poverty and hopelessness as it embraced markets and freedom.

. . .

Experts: Democracy in Japan Never Gonna Happen

In the aftermath of Japan's surrender, many thought it naive to help the Japanese transform themselves into a democracy. Then as now, the critics argued that some people were simply not fit for freedom.

Some said Japanese culture was inherently incompatible with democracy. Joseph Grew, a former United States ambassador to Japan who served as Harry Truman's Under Secretary of State, told the President flatly that -- and I quote -- "democracy in Japan would never work." He wasn't alone in that belief. A lot of Americans believed that -- and so did the Japanese -- a lot of Japanese believed the same thing: democracy simply wouldn't work.

Others critics said that Americans were imposing their ideals on the Japanese. For example, Japan's Vice Prime Minister asserted that allowing Japanese women to vote would "retard the progress of Japanese politics."

It's interesting what General MacArthur wrote in his memoirs. He wrote, "There was much criticism of my support for the enfranchisement of women. Many Americans, as well as many other so-called experts, expressed the view that Japanese women were too steeped in the tradition of subservience to their husbands to act with any degree of political independence." That's what General MacArthur observed. In the end, Japanese women were given the vote; 39 women won parliamentary seats in Japan's first free election. Today, Japan's minister of defense is a woman, and just last month, a record number of women were elected to Japan's Upper House. Other critics argued that democracy -- (applause.)

There are other critics, believe it or not, that argue that democracy could not succeed in Japan because the national religion -- Shinto -- was too fanatical and rooted in the Emperor. Senator Richard Russell denounced the Japanese faith, and said that if we did not put the Emperor on trial, "any steps we may take to create democracy are doomed to failure." The State Department's man in Tokyo put it bluntly: "The Emperor system must disappear if Japan is ever really to be democratic."

Those who said Shinto was incompatible with democracy were mistaken, and fortunately, Americans and Japanese leaders recognized it at the time, because instead of suppressing the Shinto faith, American authorities worked with the Japanese to institute religious freedom for all faiths. Instead of abolishing the imperial throne, Americans and Japanese worked together to find a place for the Emperor in the democratic political system.

And the result of all these steps was that every Japanese citizen gained freedom of religion, and the Emperor remained on his throne and Japanese democracy grew stronger because it embraced a cherished part of Japanese culture. And today, in defiance of the critics and the doubters and the skeptics, Japan retains its religions and cultural traditions, and stands as one of the world's great free societies. (Applause.)

You know, the experts sometimes get it wrong. An interesting observation, one historian put it -- he said, "Had these erstwhile experts" -- he was talking about people criticizing the efforts to help Japan realize the blessings of a free society -- he said, "Had these erstwhile experts had their way, the very notion of inducing a democratic revolution would have died of ridicule at an early stage."

. . .

Truman Critics: Korean War Futile and Full of Errors

Critics also complained when America intervened to save South Korea from communist invasion. Then as now, the critics argued that the war was futile, that we should never have sent our troops in, or they argued that America's intervention was divisive here at home.

After the North Koreans crossed the 38th Parallel in 1950, President Harry Truman came to the defense of the South -- and found himself attacked from all sides. From the left, I.F. Stone wrote a book suggesting that the South Koreans were the real aggressors and that we had entered the war on a false pretext. From the right, Republicans vacillated. Initially, the leader of the Republican Party in the Senate endorsed Harry Truman's action, saying, "I welcome the indication of a more definite policy" -- he went on to say, "I strongly hope that having adopted it, the President may maintain it intact," then later said "it was a mistake originally to go into Korea because it meant a land war."

Throughout the war, the Republicans really never had a clear position. They never could decide whether they wanted the United States to withdraw from the war in Korea, or expand the war to the Chinese mainland. Others complained that our troops weren't getting the support from the government. One Republican senator said, the effort was just "bluff and bluster." He rejected calls to come together in a time of war, on the grounds that "we will not allow the cloak of national unity to be wrapped around horrible blunders."

Many in the press agreed. One columnist in The Washington Post said, "The fact is that the conduct of the Korean War has been shot through with errors great and small." A colleague wrote that "Korea is an open wound. It's bleeding and there's no cure for it in sight." He said that the American people could not understand "why Americans are doing about 95 percent of the fighting in Korea."

Many of these criticisms were offered as reasons for abandoning our commitments in Korea. And while it's true the Korean War had its share of challenges, the United States never broke its word.

Today, we see the result of a sacrifice of people in this room in the stark contrast of life on the Korean Peninsula. Without Americans' intervention during the war and our willingness to stick with the South Koreans after the war, millions of South Koreans would now be living under a brutal and repressive regime. The Soviets and Chinese communists would have learned the lesson that aggression pays. The world would be facing a more dangerous situation. The world would be less peaceful.

Instead, South Korea is a strong, democratic ally of the United States of America. South Korean troops are serving side-by-side with American forces in Afghanistan and in Iraq. And America can count on the free people of South Korea to be lasting partners in the ideological struggle we're facing in the beginning of the 21st century.

. . .

Legacy of Leaving Viet Nam: Khymer Rouge, Boat People, Re-Education Camps, “Killing Fields”

In 1972, one antiwar senator put it this way: "What earthly difference does it make to nomadic tribes or uneducated subsistence farmers in Vietnam or Cambodia or Laos, whether they have a military dictator, a royal prince or a socialist commissar in some distant capital that they've never seen and may never heard of?" A columnist for The New York Times wrote in a similar vein in 1975, just as Cambodia and Vietnam were falling to the communists: "It's difficult to imagine," he said, "how their lives could be anything but better with the Americans gone." A headline on that story, date Phnom Penh, summed up the argument: "Indochina without Americans: For Most a Better Life."

The world would learn just how costly these misimpressions would be. In Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge began a murderous rule in which hundreds of thousands of Cambodians died by starvation and torture and execution. In Vietnam, former allies of the United States and government workers and intellectuals and businessmen were sent off to prison camps, where tens of thousands perished. Hundreds of thousands more fled the country on rickety boats, many of them going to their graves in the South China Sea.

Three decades later, there is a legitimate debate about how we got into the Vietnam War and how we left. There's no debate in my mind that the veterans from Vietnam deserve the high praise of the United States of America. Whatever your position is on that debate, one unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America's withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like "boat people," "re-education camps," and "killing fields."

. . .

Real Consequences in Victory or Defeat

Recently, two men who were on the opposite sides of the debate over the Vietnam War came together to write an article. One was a member of President Nixon's foreign policy team, and the other was a fierce critic of the Nixon administration's policies. Together they wrote that the consequences of an American defeat in Iraq would be disastrous.

Here's what they said: "Defeat would produce an explosion of euphoria among all the forces of Islamist extremism, throwing the entire Middle East into even greater upheaval. The likely human and strategic costs are appalling to contemplate. Perhaps that is why so much of the current debate seeks to ignore these consequences." I believe these men are right.

In Iraq, our moral obligations and our strategic interests are one. So we pursue the extremists wherever we find them and we stand with the Iraqis at this difficult hour -- because the shadow of terror will never be lifted from our world and the American people will never be safe until the people of the Middle East know the freedom that our Creator meant for all. (Applause.)

I recognize that history cannot predict the future with absolute certainty. I understand that. But history does remind us that there are lessons applicable to our time. And we can learn something from history. In Asia, we saw freedom triumph over violent ideologies after the sacrifice of tens of thousands of American lives -- and that freedom has yielded peace for generations.

The American military graveyards across Europe attest to the terrible human cost in the fight against Nazism. They also attest to the triumph of a continent that today is whole, free, and at peace. The advance of freedom in these lands should give us confidence that the hard work we are doing in the Middle East can have the same results we've seen in Asia and elsewhere -- if we show the same perseverance and the same sense of purpose.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Cleaning Up the Mess

From today's New York Times editorial on Karl Rove:

Today, despite Mr. Rove’s claims of invincibility, both houses of Congress are back in Democratic hands, Mr. Bush’s approval ratings are around 30 percent and many Republican presidential candidates are running as fast as they can away from the Bush legacy.

Mr. Rove can now contemplate that legacy from his home in Texas. But he should not get too settled in. Congress needs to use all its power to bring Mr. Rove back to Washington to testify — in public and under oath — about how he used his office to put politics above the interests of the American people.

[emphasis mine]

Ya think the Times knows that the Presidency's 25% approval rating is almost twice Congress' 14% approval rating?

Newspapers, like The New York Times, come in lower in approval (22%) than the Presidency--though better than Congress, whose last place is easy to beat.

Maybe the Times should pin its hopes on an institution other than Congress—say the military (69% approval), small business (59% approval), the police (54% approval), or organized religion (46% approval)--to clean up the mess in Washington, D.C.

They might even be able to give needed advice to news desks and editorial offices around the country about how to gain respect.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Good news for Multnomah County (and Oregon)

Oregonian reporter Esmeralda Burmudez reports this week on the surge in Latino residents in Multnomah County. The article State's face is changing – fast has the subtitle: Oregon sees a surge in Latinos, who account for nearly all new Multnomah County residents since 2000.

What does this mean for Multnomah County? Among other things it means a growing population of people who have traditional Christian values and favor larger, close knit families.

Ramiro Mendoza moved his wife and four children to Multnomah County 21/2 years ago from Reno to start a business. Trying their luck, they heard Oregon was a good place to live.
. . .
As seen for years, the growth of Latinos continues to overshadow that of other groups because of high birth rates, said George Hough, director of Portland State University's Population Research Center.

This population is pro-life.

Latino residents look at Multnomah County and see how poorly its government has done in providing basic government services—like protection.

Jovina Rosario moved to Gresham's Rockwood neighborhood six months ago from Beaverton. The single mother of two is out of work, and her neighborhood is heavy with crime and gangs.

On the west side, she worked odd jobs at Pizza Hut and Subway, but she no longer could afford to pay rent.

"I didn't move to Multnomah County by choice," she said. "Crazy stuff happens here, like gangs. I got kids, and it's not safe for them. If I could, I would move back to Beaverton."

I know a couple who tend toward the left side of the political spectrum. When the Multnomah County/City of Portland neighborhood they had lived in for decades started getting violent, they did just what Jovina Rosario wants to do but can't. They moved to a safer West side neighborhood. They could afford it. Voting for more and better policing is not on their priority list. But, it is on Jovina Rosario's list and others like her.

Bermudez doesn't note the difference in values these Latinos bring, but one big difference with the old guard in Multnomah County is strong Catholic values. Not only pro-life, but pro-religion as a central part of family and community life.

The surge in Mendozas and Rosarios give hope for a better Multnomah County--and a better Oregon.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Guilty until proven innocent

It's one thing for an individual to express an opinion on Barry Bonds' new place as all time home run leader. But, there's something disquieting about the editorial board of a major newspaper condemning someone who has not even been charged either in the legal system or in MLB procedures, let alone convicted. The Oregonian did just that in a little editorial today A record* made to be broken.

People usually want to see history made, share in it, revel in it, tell the grandkids about it. Not this time. This was history most baseball fans didn't care to see.
. . .
Of course, history still may tape a big fat asterisk to Bonds' feat. A criminal investigation is under way; Bonds' personal trainer is in prison, held in contempt for refusing to testify; baseball is probing players' alleged steroid use, too.
. . .
[Bonds] holds the record, but not the hearts of many fans. Some day another slugger will break Bonds' record. That will be baseball history worth watching -- and worth celebrating.

The Oregonian editors already know that Bonds' achievement is not worth celebrating. They don't need hard evidence. Gut feeling, that old backbone of vigilante justice, is enough.

There was begrudging respect for his abilities, but they couldn't help but insert their condemnation for Bonds' lack of charm.

Yet by the numbers, Barry Bonds is now the greatest home run hitter in baseball history. Give him his due: He is not just a puffed-up, stuck-up man, but a marvelous hitter of baseballs.

People said the same thing about Ty Cobb--and worse. What Cobb accomplished ranks him among the greatest in baseball—not how well he was liked by the press or fans. Anyone who loves baseball would be crazy not to have wanted to see Cobb play.

This issue is a little deeper. It's about the need for proof before condemnation. The next time the Oregonian editors lecture someone about assuming guilt before it's proved or about vigilante justice maybe they'll remember this little editorial and be ashamed.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


I don't usually comment on sports, but with all the "asterisk" talk and some sports news columnists sniping about whether this is a significant achievement, I thought I'd weigh in.

Oregonian columnist Brian Meehan writes in today's column:

Barry Bonds broke perhaps the greatest record in sports, but outside the Bay Area, does anybody really care?

Do you?


So did all the people who filled up baseball stadiums where he played, even outside San Francisco. ESPN showed all the recent games. My guess is not because 95% of the country was yawning.

My dad and I, who watched his last 5 or 6 games, cared. We like baseball, but usually only watch games when they are convenient. We made time for these.

My dad points out that if you want to put asterisks behind names, try them on all modern players breaking records. In the good old days they traveled by bus and train. Ever do a 72 hour Greyhound East Coast to West Coast trip? Ain't fun and doesn't leave you in tiptop physical shape.

How about modern medicine, pain relievers, surgery, training facilities, vitamins and health regimens? How much of a handicap for modern players is that worth?

Steroids or no steroids, Bonds is one of the great baseball players. And as Meehan grudgingly admits: "Barry Bonds broke perhaps the greatest record in sports . . . ."

For those who didn't care, my condolences. I'm glad I was around to see it.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Oregonian Has a Hit

The Oregonian has made it big time. One of its stories was linked more than 250 times--as the Oregonian noted on today's front page.

After The Oregonian reported the situation a week ago, the story spread rapidly across the Internet, linked from more than 250 blog postings and political Web sites.

The Big O apparently counts the links to its stories and is proud when one of its stories is a hit in the blogosphere.

The times they are a-changin'.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Anna Diggs Taylor’s 15 Minutes of Fame

Remember the above front page headline?

Well, here’s today’s.

Poor Anna Diggs Taylor. She was a front page star on August 19, 2006. At that time, as if in response to a no-brainer question on “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader,” Taylor made the less than stunning pronouncement that “There are no hereditary kings in America”.

Shortly after her ruling it was discovered that her judicial ethics were a bit out of line. She ruled in the case even though she was Secretary and Trustee for a foundation that donated funds to the plaintiff in the case.

Now she is not only a judge under a cloud, she is just some unnamed judge.

Today's front page story in the Oregonian about what happened to Judge Taylor’s ruling notes her existence. She’s described in the LA Times-Washington Post article* as: “the only judge who held that a controversial surveillance effort by the National Security Agency was unconstitutional” and “a U.S. District Court judge in Detroit, Mich.” But no name. Just some judge overturned because she got standing to sue wrong.

Thankfully the U.S. Appeals Court did not have to rule on her higher judicial abilities. Fifth grader Spencer might have been a big help to her.

*The link is to the Concord Monitor version of the article because the Oregonian does not put stories online that it buys from news services.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Multnomah County Problems

Arthur Gregg Sulzberger has an article on problems in the operation of the Multnomah County Sheriff’s office. The title and subtitle give the gist:

Sheriff's office at a crossroads
Patrols vs. jails - Budget cuts, shrinking territory and a potential exodus of deputies are threatening the operation

Basic facts Sulzberger points out:

To feel the fall the way law enforcement deputies feel it, you must know what they once were.

Three decades ago, the organization was nearly 300 strong, serving 190,000 people in the county's unincorporated territory . . . .
. . .

Today a 36-deputy patrol force with an $8.5 million budget serves just fewer than 14,000 people and handles about 2 percent of the county's overall crime (down from 20 percent in 1975). Though the population is small, the area is massive: 289 square miles comprising nearly 62 percent of the county.

By contrast with the 36 patrol deputies in law enforcement, “corrections has more than 450 deputies and , it eats up about 85 percent of the sheriff's overall budget.”

Most of the people Sulzberger quoted lean towards consolidating/contracting out law enforcement with surrounding jurisdictions. Maybe that’s coming, but it won’t solve the budget problems. In may increase them.

If 85% of the sheriff’s budget is devoted to corrections, there’s only 15% to work with on law enforcement. And, assuming the county isn’t going to leave 14,000 people to vigilante justice, there will be a price.

Contracting with the City of Portland would actually raise the pay scale paid per officer. Right now entry level Portland police officers get $39,894 entry, $48,714 after six months, $65,374 after five years. Multnomah County deputy pay is: $42,574 to $53,306

You might save $1,350 for the first six months on each Multnomah County officer replaced by a contracted City of Portland officer, but after that you’d be paying anywhere from $6,000 a year to $12,000 a year more for each deputy (which may be why so many Multnomah County deputies are applying for City of Portland entry level positions). Contracting out doesn’t sound like such a money saver.

But, even if law enforcement is unified or contracted out, that won’t alleviate the financial crisis with jails. Sulzberger tells us that Multnomah County law enforcement makes only 3% of the arrests in the county. But, it provides 100% of jail beds in Multnomah County--and is not doing too well in that area:

Fifty-seven beds were closed because of budget cuts this month, bringing the total number of available beds to 1,690, 500 fewer than the peak in 2000. The $58 million Wapato Jail remains unopened because of lack of operational money. Meanwhile dozens of inmates are being released each week because of lack of space.

If 97% of arrests work out to a similar percent of incarcerations, the problem is in getting the other jurisdictions that use jail facilities to pay a share of operational expenses for the space their inmates use. But, the current operational model is that the county funds all jailing costs for any jurisdiction in the county. It’s not working. The result is fewer and fewer jail beds even after investing $58 million dollars in a new jail facility.

Which brings me to the main problem: inept county government. When there are funding problems, the commissioners haven’t acted as though operating expenses need to be covered by those who use a facility--or even by new taxes. Their attitude is “We don’t have the money, and we’re not going to get it.”

There’s a need for Wapato’s jail beds even by a small jurisdiction like Troutdale:

"What we really want from the sheriff's office is jail beds," Troutdale's Nelson says. "Our residents pay city taxes and county taxes. Well, they're getting their law enforcement services with their city taxes, and what they need from their county taxes is jail beds."

So, why isn’t Wapato open and why aren’t Troutdale and other jurisdictions being charged at least part of the operational rate needed to house their inmates there? If you can give the service away for free, fine. But, since the county can’t, it needs to find a way to recoup at least some of the costs of a service it currently gives to other jurisdictions without getting anything back from them.

This is a county commissioner budget problem--not a sheriff’s office budget problem. But instead of fixing the problem, county commissioners want to micro-manage the sheriff’s budget. Go figure.

Last month the county commissioners, backed by a legal opinion from the county attorney, declared their intention to seize control of sheriff's spending. A battle-weary Giusto, who had fiercely guarded his right to spend sheriff's dollars as he saw fit, said he would not fight the board's decision.

Board members may look at further scaling back law enforcement. "We've got 14,000 people now and yet we have a full law enforcement division," says Commissioner Maria Rojo de Steffey. "I'm not sure that makes sense. This is a place people have held sacred that we can't mess with. Well we need to mess with it. It is not sacred. We need to focus on corrections."

Rojo de Steffey thinks 36 deputies serving 14,000 people living in a 289 square mile area is a “full law enforcement division”. And that 85% of the sheriff’s budget being given to corrections is not focusing on corrections. With analysis like Rojo de Steffey’s we’re in for more trouble.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

David Reinhard Scoops Oregonian News Reporters

Interesting that David Reinhard’s opinion column, “So is this what you call compassion?” in the Oregonian was way ahead of an Oregonian news article on the problems of ID theft by illegal immigrants. On June 24 Reinhard wrote:

OK, maybe generalities like the "rule of law" or even specifics don't do anything for you. That seems to be the case for people like Portland Mayor Tom Potter, who announced to one and all that he was angry at federal officials for the Fresh Del Monte raids and sorry for "Portland residents" who now faced deportation. But how about a little love for the U.S. citizens who had had their Social Security numbers lifted by Potter's "Portland residents"? Or a little sympathy for us who pay taxes to send our kids to school?

This isn't a victimless crime or, as some claim, a boon to the Social Security system since the illegals are paying into a cash-strapped system from which they'll never receive benefits. The affidavit says otherwise.

You try having somebody filch your Social Security number. The Internal Revenue Service might come calling and ask you to pay back taxes on the earnings reported under your number with no corresponding income-tax return filed. Or the extra wages charged to your hijacked account might subject you to the system's annual earnings test and result in a suspension of benefits.

Yes, the extra wages might lead to a higher Social Security benefit -- until the government finds out you didn't earn them, recomputes your benefit downward and bills you for the overpayment. Or, if you receive Social Security disability income, the government might cut, suspend or end your benefits because the unreported wage income would show an ability to work. It's all great fun.

It's doubtful Potter will ever rush out a press release declaring his "anger" about the hassle and disruption that U.S. citizens experience from this kind of identity theft. Nor should victimized legal residents expect the sob-story treatment that marks much media coverage of the illegals' (self-inflicted) plight.

No, a selective and stunted compassion is at work on the illegal immigration issue. There's fretting about what will happen to the detained workers and their families, but little else.

The June 12th raid at Portland Del Monte plant raised a number of issues in the press and among politicians and activist groups--but ID theft was not one of them. After Reinhard raised the issue in his column, the Oregonian followed a week later with an article on it.

The Oregonian news article, “Illegal Workers Turn to ID Theft”, was published July 1. Gosia Wozniacka reported:

During one stretch last year, American Staffing Resources -- which supplied temporary workers to the Fresh Del Monte plant -- employed 596 workers there, of whom 463, about 78 percent, were using someone else's Social Security number, according to a federal search warrant affidavit. Only 48 employees had valid, matching Social Security numbers.

This year, the Social Security numbers used by 184 American Staffing workers at the plant did not belong to them. Seven belonged to elderly people, about 20 to children, and 29 to people who had died, according to the affidavit.

Federal authorities attribute the proliferation of fraudulent documents to a rise in multinational criminal organizations branching out into the documents market and the misuse of Social Security numbers by employees.

That’s 27 living victims in just this one case. The figures for "one stretch" last year showed 463 workers who were using someone else’s Social Security number. This case included only 184. 184 is 40% of 463. So, you can probably multiple the 27 victims by 2-1/2 times to get a real figure--closer to 70 people--who are victims of identity theft in just this one plant in a year. Most of the victims, being children, will have a surprise when they reach adulthood and try to actually use their identity. Imagine trying to untangle identity theft years and years after it has occurred.

Not to mention the impact of the care and feeding of "multinational criminal organizations" by those who want to look the other way.

It took David Reinhard to get this considered as a newsworthy issue.

All victims are equal, but some are more equal than others.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Oregon Quarter Voted Best Trade Coin of the Year

The Oregon state quarter was voted Best Trade Coin of the Year for 2007 and is in the running for Coin of the Year.

The Coin of the Year awards are sponsored by World Coin News, and have been presented since 1984. There are ten categories in the balloting.

Other US coins in the running this year are the 2005 Bison nickel (Most Popular Coin) and the Marine Corps commemorative silver dollar (Best Crown).

This year's Coin of the Year winner will be announced at the American Numismatic Association Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on August 8th.

There is a built-in delay on coin nominations to allow participation by nations which do not issue coinage in the year printed on the coin. That's why coins minted in 2005 are being considered in 2007.

The only other state quarter to receive nomination for Coin of the Year was the 2002 Ohio state quarter. It was voted the Most Historically Significant coin in the 2004 awards.

[Images are from the U.S. Mint.]

Playing Games with State Troopers

[photo from the governor's photo gallery]

An article in today’s Oregonian reminded me of the travesty of Gov. Kulongoski and Oregon Democrats, who while admitting that there are way too few state troopers protecting the public, using some of the troopers in the understaffed State Police for a political power play this last legislative session.

Outnumbered and outranked for the first time in 16 years, Republicans in the Oregon Legislature threw obstacle after obstacle onto the tracks of the Democrats' political express train.

Then they watched as Democrats, including Gov. Ted Kulongoski, blew through them or found a way around.

Republicans stage a walkout to stop a corporate tax increase? Kulongoski sends state troopers to round them up. Republicans won't provide votes for a cigarette tax increase? Democrats refer it to the ballot.

--Harry Esteve, “Democrats put GOP through agenda wringer in 2007 session”, The Oregonian, June 30, 2007 [emphasis mine]

Playing games in deploying state troopers shows a sad side of the Governor’s and the State Legislature’s maturity. For the public good. Right.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Great Music at Mt. Hood Community College

Symphonic Band

Chamber Choir

Tuesday night I had the pleasure of hearing the Mt. Hood Community College Chamber Choir, Symphonic Choir, Orchestra and Symphonic Band perform.

The music was very good. It was a fun evening. The free public performance took place in their very nice (but not very handicapped friendly) Theater building. It's good to see the college giving the community a look at the results of some well spent public funding.

Marshall Tuttle is the music director for the orchestra and choirs, and LeRoy Anderson and Susie Jones are the music directors of the Symphonic Band. There's some really good talent at Mt. Hood CC, and these directors know how to get the best out of their students.

Click here for a list of upcoming events for 2007 and 2008.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Spanking the Oregonian

In her full page ad published in Sunday’s Oregonian, Dorothy English soundly spanked its editors for their “disdain” for small property owners who have had the value of their land gutted by public policy.

First a bit from the Oregonian’s May 8th editorial:

Property-rights Measure 37, which voters approved in 2004, said state and local governments must pay property owners if regulations reduce the value of their land. This is a terrible idea, essentially saying one group of people, who have owned their land a longer time, must be paid to obey laws everyone else must obey.

Since 2004, roughly 7,500 claims have been filed, seeking at least $15 billion worth of compensation or the right to ignore other laws in order to develop, mostly on farmland and forestland. The destructive effects of this law are now self-evident. But since Measure 37 was itself a repeat of a measure passed in 2000, then thrown out by the courts, it doesn't make much sense to repeat the question a third time.

Significantly, House Bill 3540, a rewrite of Measure 37 approved by the Oregon House last week, would pose a different question to voters. It would ask voters whether they want to make Measure 37 work. We're guessing voters will want to, because this fix, while far from perfect, would make a bad law better. It would make it:
. . .
Fairer for claimants. Again, although we disagree with the idea some property owners should be able to blackmail their fellow taxpayers, Oregon voters thought otherwise. HB3540 would put small claims at the front of the line and create a land-use ombudsman. It would also make development rights transferable, a key financing issue in many cases.

Some backers of Measure 37 are characterizing this proposed referral as a virtual repeal of Measure 37. That's not true or fair, and it's also hard to understand.

Part of Dorothy English’s response:

I’m not sure what offends me most about this newspaper’s April 28 editorial on Measure 37--the inference that I am just a “poster girl” in the fight for land use reform or that the legislature’s gutting of Measure 37 is somehow “fair” to little people.

Since no one from the Oregonian editorial board has ever bothered to ask me a single question, I will assume that it is just their arrogance and not the fact that I am a woman, or that I am elderly, or that I am not rich that causes them to dismiss me and my nearly 40-year struggle to use my land for the purposes for which my deceased husband and I purchased it. I can’t think of any other reason why this newspaper would display such disdain for people like me and others in my shoes, who have watched as our property has been taken in a completely arbitrary fashion.
. . .
I know this paper doesn’t like Measure 37, and no doubt never will. And I know that it doesn’t give a hoot that my life’s savings was stolen or that there are many others just like me. But when it claims that people like me are just pawns in some grand conspiracy by “big greedy corporations” it insults me and everyone who knows me. For the last time, knock it off.

It is too bad I had to use an ad to get the truth out.

Almost 40 years working to get a little fairness! That only happens to “little” people. When is the last time any Oregonian editor waited that long for action?

I’m not a property owner in the claimant class. But, along with the other 61% of Oregon voters who approved Measure 37, I feel it's only right to compensate those who have their property taken or property value diminished. It's wrong to force one group of people to carry the burden for the rest of us.

The Oregonian’s argues that it is terrible to say that “one group of people, who have owned their land a longer time, must be paid to obey laws everyone else must obey.”

I guess the editorial board has forgotten that public policy often makes a time distinction in applying laws and rules. How about for starters:

- The “grandfather” clause in land use recognizes that new rules can be unfair to previous land owners.

- DEQ rules exempt older vehicles from its rules--older than 1975 (Portland area) or more than 20 years old (Medford area). Not to mention that only Portland and Medford area vehicles have to obey these rules and Medford residents get a big time break over Portland area residents.

- Tier 1 and tier 2 employees in the PERS system are treated differently--based entirely on date of hire. State and local government employees hired under one set of rules are immune to the rules imposed on employees hired later.

- Older buildings don’t have to meet standards for new buildings. (I bet the Oregonian’s building doesn’t meet code requirements for new building construction in Portland.)

The Oregonian knows all this. It just chooses to use the “everyone else must obey” argument on its pet issues. Good for Dorothy English for giving its editors a much needed spanking.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Good Guy-Bad Guy Template Equals Poor Reporting

from page 2 of the Tuesday, May 8, 2007, Oregonian (based on an AP report):


Imported drugs bill is defeated

In a triumph for the pharmaceutical industry, the Senate on Monday killed a drive to allow consumers to buy prescription drugs from abroad at a significant savings over domestic prices.

On a 49-40 vote, the Senate required the administration to certify the safety and effectiveness of drugs before they can be imported, a requirement that officials have said they cannot meet.

"Well, once again the big drug companies have proved that they are the most powerful and best financed lobby in Washington," said Sen. David Vitter, R-La.

The vote neutralized a second amendment, later passed on a voice vote, that would legalize the importation of prescription drugs manufactured in Canada, Australia, Europe, Japan and New Zealand.

Overseas, drugs can cost two-thirds less than they do in the United States. In many industrialized countries, prices are lower because they are either controlled or partially controlled by government regulation.

The Oregonian includes information on the votes of Oregon and Washington senators. The Oregon Democrat and the Oregon Republican voted against the amendment. The two Washington Democrats voted for it.

Why the difference? Not a clue from the Oregonian. This is a straight good guy-bad guy read: pharmaceutical lobby vs. what's good for the people. No real analysis.

The amendment does benefit U.S. pharmaceutical companies. It also benefits all the people concerned about the safety of drugs (and food) sold to them.

Maybe that's why two Democratic senators from neighboring Washington, Cantwell and Murray, voted to require safety standards for drugs. By the way, 13 other Democratic senators, including Sens. Kerry, Kennedy and Bayh joined Cantwell and Murray in voting for certification of drug safety and effectiveness. Somehow 15 Democratic Senators voting for the "pharmaceutical companies" didn't make it into the AP/Oregonian report. Though, the AP report did include at least a hint of the argument for safety and certification that was important to Senators who supported the Cochran amendment. But, the Oregonian didn't think it important enough to include.

Is there really an argument for allowing food and drug imports to get to US consumers without passing the same health requirements that US products have to meet? Even with FDA standards we had the E. coli outbreak in 2006 not to mention recent contaminated pet food .

If we did away with the FDA, drugs would be a lot cheaper in the US too. But, is cheaper the main priority? If so, there are a lot of federal agencies that we could eliminate and save even more money.

There were substantive issues involved that the Oregonian staff didn't think worthy of inclusion. For a slightly more balanced view read the Washington Times article.

If this really is a pharmaceutical company vs. public interest issue, why did so many Democrats vote with Republicans for the amendment? All under the thumb of the pharmaceutical industry?

The Good Guy-Bad Guy template that the Oregonian is using not only does not give a clear picture of news, it actually distorts news by omitting contrary evidence.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Sleepy Portland Soon to Balloon?

The US population growth trend in the last six years has been to sunny spots not known for rain or snow. Atlanta (up 21.0%), Houston (up 17.5%) and Dallas (up 16.3%) were the top three gainers among larger US metropolitan areas between 2000 and 2006. Much of the growth was due to immigration rather than shifts from other places in the US.

In spite of this data, Mark Abbott, of Oregon State University, and Eban Goodstein, of Lewis & Clark College, think mass migrations to Oregon may be on the horizon due to climate change.

"We expect more contention over water resources much like what we have seen in the Klamath Basin," said Mark Abbott, co-chair of the Governor's Climate Change Integration Group, which is examining what steps Oregon can take to prepare for a warming climate.

Abbott, the dean of the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University, said many people are concerned about a large migration of people into Oregon from areas that will be more heavily affected by climate change, such as the U.S. Southwest. Other questions include whether there will be "disproportionate impacts" on human health, such as more heat-related deaths and higher electricity costs among the elderly.

Eban Goodstein, an economics professor at Lewis & Clark College who is studying global warming's economic impacts, anticipates that migration into the region from cities such as Los Angeles and Phoenix will accelerate. "They're unsustainable communities right now in terms of their water supplies. And as temperatures warm up, I would imagine we would see more and more in-migration driven by climate," he said.

What’s interesting about Prof. Goodstein’s comments that both Los Angeles and Phoenix will be sources of migration is that those two cities happened to make the top 10 in population growth in their categories. Los Angeles came in #6 among the “most populated” cities with 4.7% growth and Phoenix came in #10 overall with a whopping 22.4% growth.

Even more interesting is that the one Oregon city that made the top 10 was Bend with a 29.3% population growth. Bend, of course, is on the border between Oregon’s “have” and “have-not” areas of significant water resources--more high desert plateau than rainy forest.

Abbott, Goodstein and other Pacific Northwest scientists and academicians are subscribing to the predictions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which met recently in Brussels.

The Oregonian’s Richard Hill explains the panel’s findings this way:

The Pacific Northwest faces an intense tug of war over vanishing water supplies if the region continues to warm as forecasts show, dividing people west of the Cascades from those east as water "haves" and "have-nots." And even abundant water west of the Cascades may be stretched as people fleeing from drier, hotter regions of the U.S. find refuge here.

Scientists base this warning on findings to be released today in Brussels, Belgium, by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a consortium of more than 2,000 climate scientists from 130 countries.

Among other things, the American Southwest will face dust bowl conditions as hotter temperatures rob as much as 20 percent of annual rain. But in the Northwest, dwindling mountain snowpack is expected to make summer water scarce especially east of the Cascades, challenging agriculture, river use and human habitation.

[emphasis mine]

Abbott and Goodstein, in true scientific fashion, are putting their assumptions to the test in following predictions which go against current population growth data. If they (and the other 2,000 IPCC climate scientists in the Brussels’ panel) are right, they should be congratulated for seeing beyond current population trends.

However, if there is not significant flight from those fast growing cities in the sun belt (e.g., Phoenix, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles) to slower growing cities in the rain belt (like Portland), Abbott, Goodstein, et. al., will share in the time-honored “egg on face” syndrome for following trendy thinking rather the clear data right in front of them.

It will be interesting to follow up on these predictions.

For those who want a sample scorecard, here are 2000 to 2006 figures for top population growth cities:

Most populated
Atlanta 21.0%
Houston 17.5%
Dallas 16.3%
Washington 10.3%
Miami 9.1%
Los Angeles 4.7%
Chicago 4.5%
New York 2.7%
Philadelphia 2.5%
Detroit 0.4%

Top 10 Increases
St. George, Utah 39.8%
Greeley,Colo. 31.0%
Cape Coral, Fla. 29.6%
Bend, Ore. 29.3%
Las Vegas 29.2%
Provo, Utah 25.9%
Naples, Fla. 25.2%
Raleigh, N.C. 24.8%
Gainesville, Ga. 24.4%
Phoenix 24.2%

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Castro Blasts Bio-Fuel Strategy

In an echo to the warnings that the global warming frenzy will keep electricity and fossil fuels from helping the poor in developing countries, Fidel Castro has blasted plans to ramp up bio-fuel use as "sinister".

"The sinister idea of converting food into combustible was definitively established as the economic line of the foreign policy of the United States," he writes.

The Cuban leader also notes that Cuba has also experimented with extracting ethanol from sugarcane.

“But if rich nations decide to import huge amounts of traditional food crops such as corn from developing countries to help meet their energy needs, it could have disastrous consequences for the world's poor,” Castro writes.

The problem is not only in importing food crops, but not exporting them. Already, the demand for corn for bio-fuel in the US has resulted in skyrocketing tortilla prices in Mexico--where the tortilla is the main source of calories for many of the poor.

Hmm. Maybe the recent Senate hearings on Global Warming and related policies should have included Fidel Castro--not to mention Mexican President Calderon.

Al Gore's current "moral" crusade apparently doesn't weigh the impact on the poor. We need the corn. Let them eat cake.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Sulzberger Doesn’t Get It

In a front page article in yesterday’s Oregonian, Arthur Gregg Sulzberger wonders why voters have elected Multnomah County commissioner Lonnie Roberts eleven times to public office.

Roberts says he doesn't know how to type and doesn't like to read. If he were any other county employee, his frequent absences would almost certainly cost him his job, but as one of their leaders he enjoys the insulation a four-year term provides. Voters in the wide swath of open land and fast-growing cities that make up east Multnomah County either haven't noticed or cared -- electing him nine times to the Oregon Legislature and twice to the county commission, often unopposed.

"He is very, very popular," said state Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson, who decided not to run against Roberts in 2004. "The community loves him and will vote for him every time."

Sulzberger fails to understand County government. He doesn’t realize that some kinds of elected officials, especially policy makers, don’t do the kind of work where sitting at a desk 8 to 5 is important.

Unlike City of Portland commissioners who run bureaus, County commissioners are legislators--policy makers. They’re not administrators. Being accessible Monday through Friday, 8 to 5, is important for an administrator. Being at working and voting sessions is what’s important for a legislative policy maker. In a strange omission Sulzberger fails to mention how many County board meetings Roberts attends or how often he misses votes. Did Sulzberger even do research on that?

There hasn't been a big outcry from voters that Lonnie is only accessible half the year. One wonders if this isn't a tempest in Sulzberger's teacup.

Roberts’ results are in how he represents his district and the county. In fact, he’s the only county commissioner among those serving last term who the Oregonian didn’t think deserving of a recall vote for backroom political decisions. But, perhaps Sulzberger, fairly new to Multnomah County, doesn’t know about that.

Sulzberger has a peculiar way of presenting facts. He sniffs at Roberts starting as a "truck driver turned career politician."

In three decades of public life Roberts, a former truck driver turned career politician, earned a reputation as a likable though loafing leader, a backslapping good old boy more interested in the social than political elements of elected office.

That Roberts has done a fine job on the political elements too is shown by eleven electoral victories--and without a single major editorial favoring his recall. Not bad.

Of most interest is Sulzberger’s objection to the fact that Roberts has a trusted aide, Gary Walker, who does tons of high level work for Roberts and Multnomah County--for cheap.

County staff take all matters directly to Walker. He devours every document that crosses the commissioner's desk, picking only the most important to condense and share with his boss. He estimates he works twice the maximum 1,039 hours he can be paid under restrictions from his public retirement plan. For his efforts, Walker received a $35,000 bonus earlier this year -- by far the largest given to a county employee in memory and more than his $34,000 salary, which he set himself.

Here’s a guy getting only $34,000 a year (before bonus) for top level work--and lots of hours put in doing it. I wonder if Sulzberger bothered to check out the going rate for county salaries. The majority of Multnomah County workers, make more money than Walker. Even Multnomah County truck drivers (Lonnie's old position) make only $400/month less at entry level. With seniority, they actually make more than Walker.

Sulzberger is also upset that he (and possibly unnamed reporters who helped him on the story) had a hard time getting a private meeting with Roberts.

Three times, Roberts agreed to meet one on one with a reporter for this story. Three times, Walker canceled the meeting over Roberts' objections.

When Roberts finally did sit down alone, he explained his staff's protectiveness. "They get nervous about me. But I've done this for a long time."

A moment later, a visibly panicked Walker stormed in.

"You don't want anyone in here?" Walker asked Roberts.

"I don't need anyone in here," Roberts said.

"Let's get someone in here," Walker said.

Roberts laughed. "I got a baby sitter."

Reading this story, it’s clear that Walker was right. Sulzberger wanted to do a hit piece on Roberts, without any context of the backroom, dysfunctional county government that Lonnie Roberts has stood in contrast to for more years than is comfortable to recall.

Roberts has also stood up for east county issues against the more populous west county steamroller--something City Commissioner Randy Leonard also frequently notes. But that flies over Sulzberger’s head.

The question is not “Why have voters elected Roberts again and again?” The question is why an Oregonian reporter thinks a lone commissioner practicing above board, open government and standing up for his constituents is not contributing positively to political and civic issues.