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March 23, 2006

Red-iculous new blog

[Sent to the editor at the Washington Post .com 3/23/2006]

I just sent this to the WashingtonPost.com editor:

I have read a few of the posts of the new “Red America” blog.  I find him disgusting, divisive and insulting .  We have enough pompous, over-bearing, blustery, hate-mongering right-wing nuts on TV and newspaper columns and this blog contributes nothing positive to the national dialogue.  I won't ever read it again.

The Post should recognize a mistake and dump it.

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March 21, 2006

Re: Portland Public Schools--major changes ahead

[Comment posted re: Portland Public Schools--major changes ahead 3/21/2006]

I find some of these comments hard to understand.

In order save children the “trauma” of major school transitions, we’ll close 11 schools, thus forcing every one of those students to undergo a major school transition right now!  In other words, for a K-6 school, the net marginal savings in child-school-transition-trauma will become positive 7 years from now when the kindergardeners of today would be graduating from grade 6 and going to a new school.  What hokum of an excuse.

“Portland's system of tucked away neighborhood schools is romantic and parent friendly, but not necessarily economical and education friendly.”

So, you’re saying the goal is parent-unfriendly elementary schools?

Since when should the overriding objective of schools be “to be economical”.  And what makes neighborhood schools “not education friendly”?  If they are so bad, why do all the parents want them?  Are parents unreasonably selfish or spiteful of taxpayers?  One of the major factors in childrens’ success is parental involvement, so why would we be breaking the neighborhood school-community link and accessibility and convenience for kids and parents?  We should be encouraging, not discouraging this.

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March 17, 2006

Re: consensus on the need for single-payer national health care

[Comment on The Opinionator 3/17/2006: consensus on the need for single-payer national health care]

All healthcare systems have rationing, because money is not unlimited.

But there are sensible ways to “ration”, by looking at the outcomes and costs and ranking them, then “drawing the line” where the money runs out based on actuarial estimates.

The Oregon Health Plan has done that effectively.  The Oregon Health Plan has been so poorly funded in the last few years that the legislature has both cut the amount and fiddled with the principle so that it is barely recognizable.

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March 14, 2006

To Senator Feingold

Senator Feingold

Thank-you for standing up, with John Conyers in the House and a few others, for the constitution and the rule of law in these difficult times. 

Egregious, flagrant, repeated flaunting of the constitution and the rule of law by the president with the collusion of the entire Republican party rises to the level of a matter of principle that must be defended, and not just be another mere political calculation.  I'm sorry so many Democratic colleagues equivocate and get out their “triangulators” searching for some political center instead.

There is no doubt in my mind who the patriots are and you are among them, not the fear-mongers sowing disord.

The Republican and Democratic representatives that are going along with the NSA wiretapping “compromise” are violating their own oaths of office to uphold the Constitution by agreeing to terms that don’t address the fundamental, illegal, unconstitutional overreach by the administration.

Thank-you.

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March 09, 2006

Re: First the Scandal, Then the Coverup (Huffington Post)

[ Posted on The Huffington Post re: First the Scandal, Then the Coverup 3/9/2006]

Sadly, too many are unable to distinguish between true matters of principle and political calculation.  Egregious, flagrant, repeated flaunting of the constitution and the rule of law by the president rises to the level of a matter of principle that must be defended, not just another  mere political calculation.  John Conyers has it right -- this is our moment in history to defend the constitution.

Those elected representatives that don't are violating their own oath of office as well.

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re: Iowa Voting Law Could Bar 20% New Voters From Placing Ballots

[Posted on The Huffington Post re: Iowa Voting Law Could Bar 20% New Voters From Placing Ballots... on 3/9/2006]

I volunteered with non-partisan Election Protection in the 2004 election in New Mexico.  We helped dozens of people straighten out errors, rarely of their own making and mostly of the county.  Some of the people most suspicious of us were older, white, long-time residents in an area with growing population.  But boy were they appreciative when we helped them out later!

The reality is that the laws are solving a non-existent problem of supposed false voting.  Iowa is just one example.

The entire exercise is backward.  We should be strict about who can *register* to vote, and then make it as easy as reasonable while verifying identity to cast a ballot.  For example, in Oregon, elections are entirely by mail and every signature is compared electronically to the signature on file.  That seems like a very reasonable proof of identity and creates no burden on the voter.

But at the same time, we know what the Republicans are doing and why.  And we know they will often succeed with these ploys.  So we need to plan ahead.  For instance, begin now to help check the records of Democrats and Independents long before the election.  Shame on us if we end up whining after the election when they helped clean up their own voters records and we didn’t bother!

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Innovative Land-use ideas

Today I attended a Yamhill County public hearing on what is probably among the most interesting of Measure 37 claims.  This is a claim by a responsible land steward that has invested years of time and money to improve and restore his land, including working cooperatively with many government agencies and private organizations.  Their work to restore wetlands has even been chronicled in Heroic Tales of Wetland Restoration by the The Wetlands Conservancy.

Because of the proximity to other claims and their long-term reputation as land stewards, this hearing was very well-attended, with eloquent testimony from concerned neighbors that both respect the Gahr’s and worry about the effects of Measure 37.  It demonstrated, once again, the depths of community concern about the havoc being reeked by Measure 37 on the community and neighbors.

Two factors seem to have driven him to make his claim: first, current land-use laws are so restrictive that he feels he is extremely limited in his ability to both persue land stewardship and farming and also have an economic future and second, the proximity of several other Measure 37 claims means that he must face the invevitable encroachment and find a way to fight back.

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Re: The Left Debates Impeachment (NYT)

[Posted 3/9/2006 as a comment to The Left Debate Impeachment]

Almost all the impeachment commentary seems to be of two types: either driven by (1) the politics of impeachment -- what it might or might not mean for Democratic success in November, or by (2) what’s right and wrong and the corrosive effect of letting possibly impeachable offenses continue to undermine our constitutional system.

The “not now” argument seems also to hinge on assuming that somehow Democrats are more likely to win if impeachment is at least “put off ‘till later”.  I’m not sure I agree.  If only because impeachment is highly unlikely before November given the Republicans are in control and have little to gain and lots to lose by the process.

On the other hand, if Bush is allowed to get away with the assertions of unilateral power to exempt himself from the law, the more time passes, the harder it is to right that wrong later.  Accountability needs to happen when there is an offense committed.

But if one is going to look at this from a political strategy perspective, instead of what right and standing up for the constitution, then at least we should face the fact that it isn’t going to happen and so consider how to use the impeachable offenses issues to maximum advantage as examples of how they are part and parcel of the overall Republican (not just Bush) governance model that is reducing our safety at home, has undercut our leadership abroad and is crimping our prosperity by limiting it to a few and those that benefit from a war-time economy.

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March 08, 2006

Oaths of office broken

[Submitted to the Oregonian 3/8/2006]

President Bush has asserted that the law doesn’t apply to him, regarding torture, renditions, indefinite detention, and warrantless wiretapping.  The Republican representatives that are going along with the “compromise” are violating their own oaths of office to uphold the Constitution by agreeing to terms that don’t address the fundamental, illegal, unconstitutional overreach by the administration.

Since he’s asserted other laws, including FISA don’t apply to him, these new laws and procedures are no more beholding on him than the previous ones.

It is time to stand up, conduct oversight and investigate and take appropriate action to restore the rule of law in America, not become complicit in undermining it.

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March 07, 2006

Leading a Just and Vibrant Global Economy

[Published as: Leading a Just and Vibrant Global Economy]

Great changes have been happening in the global economy and we will continue to see great changes as we move to a globalized information economy.  This has been disruptive to American's lives and prosperity as well as to others around the world.  At the same time,

“The paradox is that terrorism arises to a significant degree from the world’s inability to solve the problems generated by current policies governing globalization.  Yet the ”war on terrorism“ over-shadows any serious attempt at getting at the inequities that give rise to terrorism.  This has produced a very strange state of affairs, one that increasingly is characterized by a gathering of the darkness rather than any meaningful illumination of our global challenges.”

Only America can provide the world leadership to re-invent a more just and vibrant global economy and we have a plan to do it.  The Republican story is to be the bully: dominate, punish, pushing aside allies that don't tag along.  The key elements for us, however, are based on the principle that Leadership restores respect:

  • Resolve the inequities that give rise to terrorism: economic (globalization, uneven distribution within and between countries); political (mid-east, undemocratic governments); and cultural (changes due to globalization, poverty, threats to identity
  • New rules to adapt to the fact of globalization, such as Fair Trade, not just Free Trade
  • Respond to the big changes: global cheap fiber-optics, growing prosperous China, limited energy supplies)
  • Help all Americans succeed in the global economy (NDN)
  • Rebalance America's chronic trade imbalance
  • Address with allies the problematic countries: rogue, failed, poor, undemocratic states
  • Develop a multi-lateral nation-building system for post-conflict recoveries
  • UN reform
  • New alliances for a new millenium around this issues
  • Secure loose nukes and other WMD fuel

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