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On the lighter side of life... 

#1445: Tommy, Riposa in Pace

requiescat in pace

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Trump & The Mob

http-//www.politico.com#13C5A6C

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"Give me your tired, your poor

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore

Send these, the homeless, tempest-toss'd to me

I lift my lamp beside the Golden Door."

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Hundreds of Oregon Corporations Escape the Minimum Tax

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Half of the US Is Broke

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The myth of the Christian country

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“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

FDR, 2nd Inaugural Address, Jan 20, 1937

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A Just Peace

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SIP contract online

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Middle East friendship chart

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Corporations enriching shareholders

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- Intel tax abatements

- INTEL, come clean!

- Leashing INTEL  

- Free to Be Hungry

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Facts not fiction on universal gun background checks

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"Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere"

Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963

Martin Luther King, Jr.

The GOP - Not One of US.

Wall Street, our new criminal class...       

   Business in the USA is sitting on $2 trillion dollars refusing to invest their own funds in expanding and hiring workers.  

   When one adds to this the reserves that banks, equity firms and hedge funds have - the picture is clear - "capitalism in the USA is on strike." 

   The engine of our economy - the spirit of entrepreneurship is not in evidence today.  So much for business being dynamic and risk taking. 

   They hire K- Street lobbyists and their ilk at the state level because they are averse to risk taking - pleading for tax breaks, tax credits and endless loopholes. 

   The "business of business" in America today is not about job creation, it's about wealth hoarding and redistribution from the middle class to the top 1%. 

   So for those who claim government doesn't create jobs, my response is that business doesn't either until given "corporate welfare" by government.  The fact is that the private and public sector are highly integrated, something the anti-tax, anti-government Tea Party types don't understand. 

   Job creation requires public/private partnerships but the benefits of such collaboration should go to the 99% not just the 1%.  

 

RAD'S

WEBSITE PICKS: 


 

  • An Independent View

Oregon Outpost

  • A Middle East View      

Rami G. Khouri

  • RealClearPolitics:

Realclearpolitics

  • Jim Hightower:   

Jimhightower.com

  • Robert Reich:

Robert Reich

  • Thomas Friedman: 

Friedman Column

  • Nicholas Kristof: 

Kristof Column

Oregon's Motto: 

She flies with her own wings! 


Hard Times in Oregon: 

Hardtimes

The Oregon story - the rich get richer, the poor and middle class lose ground.  Check this front page Oregonian article out. 

Oregon wage gap widens

Homelessness in Oregon - a call to action

Chuck Currie The crisis of homelessness


  

      Oregon's coming 34th out of 41 states in the Obama "Race to the Top" illustrates the failure of leadership from Governor Kitzhaber and his predecessors as they have built an educational bridge to nowhere called high stakes testing.

   Instead of being in a race to the top we seem to be dumpster diving to the bottom despite doing education reform since 1991.  Insanity is termed doing the same thing over and over again.  When can we put a fork in this stupidity? 

   To confuse matters more the Oregonian's editorial board has pontificated that this was a lost opportunity to get federal funding for innovation.  How firing principals and teachers equals innovation is a mystery to me.   

   The way to reform schools is to reduce class sizes, to encourage teacher collaboration and to support their continued education.  High stakes testing and performance based assessment of teachers are NOT the answer!    

   If you want students to succeed you first have to resolve the issues they confront before they come to school.  Children who face poverty, hunger, homelessness, health care issues and family instability require wrap around services for them and their families, 24/7.   

   Every child needs a safe home of their own and parents who know how to be good parents.   

There is only one way to address this impending crisis.  Schools must have a stable source of funding. Until that happens - we will limp from crisis to crisis.   

 

 

    

    Why does the richest nation in the world have the moral blight of homeless people?

Invisible People

http://www.npr.org


 Homelessness

    Connecting the dots between homelessness & hunger in Oregon and Washington County: 

Homelessness:  

•    The faces of the homeless are families with children, single men and women, vets, and many who are impaired. It is estimated that in Washington County up to 56% of homelessness occurs to families.

Hunger:

•    Hunger is highest among single mother households (10%) and poor families (15%) as well as renters, unemployed workers and minority households. 

     In Washington County, Oregon's "economic engine," the divide between the affluent and the working poor continues.  We have a 19,000 unit gap in affordable low income rental housing.  County political and business leaders are indifferent to this crisis...   


A RAD rhetorical question - Were Madison & Marx "Marxists"?  

 

"History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments."   

- James Madison

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RAD Lines

See my FACEBOOK @ Russ

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  • He lost by 2.9 million votes...

  • He's a con artist...

  • He's a pathological liar... 

  • He's a failed business man...

  • He's a fascist... 


Every Fascist Needs an Enabler. Donald Trump Will Have Mike Pence.


Trump's role models are Vladmir Putin and Benito Mussolini.  He has contempt for our checks and balances system.  He wants to "rule" not govern like a strong man, a despot.  He will shredd the Constitution anytime he feels the urge to do so and like all despots he only listens to his inner circle.  And he is paranoid and narcissistic. 

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SB 1533 passes!  

http://oregon.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=6&clip_id=10863

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Housing Needs in Oregon 

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"There are men who believe that democracy... is limited or measured by a kind of mystical and artificial fate [and that] tyranny and slavery have become the surging wave of the future..." 

FDR, 3rd Inaugural Address, Jan 20, 1941

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Mourning for a Judaism Being Murdered by Israel

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Taking on the Pro-Israel Lobby 

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Sign the petition ►

Walgreens - pay your fair share of taxes!


  • "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws." - Mayer Amschel Rothschild


  • Miguel de Cervantes, from The Duke - "I accuse you of being an idealist, a bad poet and an honest man."  Cervantes' response - "Guilty as charged, I have never had the courage to believe in nothing."   from Man of La Mancha  


Intel failed to report fluoride emissions for almost 30 years   


Professor Kingfield, from the Paper Chase

   "I'm not a teacher: only a fellow traveler of whom you asked the way. I pointed ahead – ahead of myself as well as you." 

- George Bernard Shaw

 

BLOGS:

From the Left Wing:

Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman - The New York Times

Democracy Now
democracynow.org

The Daily Kos

dailykos.com

Blue Oregon

blueoregon.com

 

"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." 

- Emilie Buchwald 

 


    "Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year’s Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation’s confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law." 

- Justice John Paul Stevens, Bush v. Gore, 2001

    The state of our union - check out the map, it's a reality check for those who can't figure out why people are so ticked off... 

americanobserver

    Here's Garrison Keillor's rap on the rightwingnuts:   

GarrisonKeillor

 

     Garrison Keillor - "...The Founding Fathers intended the Senate to be a fount of wisdom... but when you consider...  moon-faced Mitch McConnell, your faith in democracy is challenged severely. Any legislative body in which 41 senators from rural states that together represent 10 percent of the population can filibuster you to death is going to be flat-footed, on the verge of paralysis, no matter what. Any time 10 percent of the people can stop 90 percent, it's like driving a bus with a brake pedal for each passenger. That's why Congress has a public approval rating of [11] percent...." 



"Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war"

- John Adams

"Loyalty to country always.  Loyalty to government when it deserves it."  

- Mark Twain  

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”  

- George Santayana 

"The love of one's country is a natural thing.  But why should love stop at the border?" 

- Pablo Casals

"Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned; the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." 

- William Butler Yeats  

 

"You see things; and you say, 'Why?' 

But I dream things that never were; and I say, "Why not?"  

- George Bernard Shaw, "Back to Methuselah" (1921) 

"...the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society...  The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government..."  

- James Madison, Federalist Papers #11 

"Why … should we have government? Why not each individual take to himself the whole fruit of his labor, without having any of it taxed away?”   

The legitimate object of government, is to do for the people whatever they need to have done, but which they can not do, at all, or can not do, so well, for themselves – in their separate and individual capacities … There are many such things … roads, bridges and the like; providing for the helpless young and afflicted; common schools … the criminal and civil [justice] departments."    

- Abraham Lincoln 

Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society  

- Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. 

"Parliament is not a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests, which interests each must maintain, as an agent and advocate, against other agents and advocates, but Parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole..." 

- Edmund Burke  

“It is a maxim among these lawyers that whatever hath been done before may legally be done again, and therefore they take special care to record all the decisions formerly made against common justice and the general reason of mankind.  These, under the name of precedents, they produce as authorities, to justify the most iniquitous opinions.”  

- Jonathan Swift 

" Every satirist who drew breath has flung pots of ink at this parade of tooting lummoxes and here it is come round again, marching down Main Street, rallying to the cause of William McKinley, hail, hail, the gang’s all here, ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay."  

- Garrison Keillor 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

  

 


  

 

Tuesday
Jul182017

A LESSON TO LEARN ON THE DAY TRUMPISM IMPLODED!  

"Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society" 

- Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

     Attending a meeting focused on increasing affordable housing, early childhood education and workforce training in Washington County, Oregon's most affluent county, we were trying to define the goal of such efforts - apparently it's not enough to show we have thousands of county residents in need.  One person said we should focus on getting people to "self-sufficiency."

     On the face of it this seems a logical way of phrasing the goal.  But the more I thought about it, the more troubled I became with the concept of "self-sufficiency."  As I said, this implies the fault of being in poverty is a person's fault - the blaming the victim syndrome - not a defect in our socio-economic system. 

     Thinking more about it - who is really "self-sufficient?"  Certainly not corporations which depend on tax breaks and other subsidies, nor the super rich who depend on lobbyists, lawyers and accountants to 'game the system' to their benefit. 

     And when I reflect on my own life experience - I had the fortune of having people at my back - helping me succeed in life.  Nobody does it alone - but the Horatio Alger myth is deep in the American psyche of the autonomous individual - even among those who serve the most vulnerable in our society. 

     So I came up with the phrase that our goal should be to "help people succeed in life."   

     Isn't that what good parents do?  Isn't that what good teachers do?  Isn't that what good ministers do?  The problem in American society unlike Canadian society - corporate America and high income folks - don't feel any obligation to use their resources to support a social safety net that gives everyone a shot at the "American Dream." 

     And now we have a Potus who is committed to "Making America Great Again" without a roadmap.  

     There is something seriously wrong with this picture!  

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/07/canada-america-taxes/533847/

      On the day that Trumpcare imploded, I read this article on why Canada succeeds.  It's quite simple, Canadians are willing to pay taxes to support programs that benefit all Canadians not merely the top 10%.  They've not drunk the kool aide of supply side economics- aka no new taxes - from the Reagan era - "Laffer" economics nor the bombast from the buffoon who occupies with Oval Office now.    

 
www.theatlantic.com
Most of the country understands that when it comes to government, you pay for what you get.
Saturday
Jul152017

THE APPLE DOESN'T FALL FAR FROM THE TREE

     Editor's Note:  Op Ed columnist for the NYTimes David Brooks suggests that the Trump DNA is programmed for "moral obliviousness" the consequences of which has put the administration into a political tailspin unlike any in modern American history, in my opinion.  While Brooks isn't convinced this will lead to impeachment, I wouldn't bet the farm on such a conclusion.   

     As with Nixon a time will come when the GOP leadership has had enough of the odor of corruption and will decide a Pence in the hand is better than a Trump in the bush.  If the repeal and replace of Obamacare set for a vote next week doesn't pass - then the day of reckoning will be come sooner than later.  After all politicians calculate their odds not on policy but on their own personal risks. 

     Clearly The Donald has become a poison pill which the GOP cannot stand for the rest of his term.  When their fate is tied to his diminishing returns, they will find the "courage" to turn on him with a Pence in hand.  The loss of the moral authority to govern will erode their futures and as well as The Donald's.  Add to this is ineptness of Team Trump and one imagines his GOP mates jumping ship!

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David Brooks, NYTimes

     Donald Trump’s grandfather Friedrich emigrated to the United States when he was 16, in 1885. He ventured west to seek his riches and finally settled in Seattle, where he opened a restaurant that, according to family historian Gwenda Blair, likely included a section for a bordello.

     Gold fever hit the Pacific Northwest, and Grandfather Trump moved up to Bennett, British Columbia.

     RAD:  The Canadian connection - eh?  

     It was a fast, raucous, money-grabbing atmosphere and Trump opened the Arctic Hotel, which had a bar, a restaurant and, according to an advertisement in the Dec. 9, 1899, edition of The Bennett Sun newspaper, “private boxes for ladies and parties.” Each box apparently came equipped with a bed and a scale to weigh the gold dust that was used to pay for the services offered in it.

     RAD:  Moral turpidude seems baked into the Trump DNA.....

     Friedrich returned to Germany, married and was sent back to the U.S. by German authorities (he hadn’t fulfilled his military service requirement) and amassed a modest fortune.

     RAD:  Another draft dodger? My oh my...  

     Frederick, Donald’s father, began building middle-class housing. Profiles describe an intense, success-obsessed man who worked seven days a week and encouraged those around him to be killers in their field. “He didn’t like wimps,” his nephew told Philip Weiss of The Times. “He thought competition made you sharper.”

     He cared deeply about appearances. “Freddy was always very neat, a Beau Brummell,” Sam LeFrak told Weiss. “He had a mustache, and that mustache was always right, perfect.” He was also remorseless. In an interview with Michael D’Antonio, Donald Trump described his father as “very tough” and “very difficult” and someone who “would never let anything go.”

     RAD:  Like father like son!  

     Biographies describe a man intent on making his fortune and not afraid of skating near the edge to do so. At one point, according to Politico, federal investigators found that Frederick used various accounting measures to collect an extra $15 million in rent (in today’s dollars) from a government housing program, on top of paying himself a large “architect’s fee.” 

     RAD:  Slum lord living off of government money!  Sounds familiar!

     He was hauled before investigating committees on at least two occasions, apparently was arrested at a K.K.K. rally in Queens (though it’s not clear he was a member), got involved in a slush fund scandal with Robert Wagner and faced discrimination allegations.

     DB:  I repeat this history because I don’t think moral obliviousness is built in a day. It takes generations to hammer ethical considerations out of a person’s mind and to replace them entirely with the ruthless logic of winning and losing; to take the normal human yearning to be good and replace it with a single-minded desire for material conquest; to take the normal human instinct for kindness and replace it with a law-of-the-jungle mentality.

     It took a few generations of the House of Trump, in other words, to produce Donald Jr.

     The Donald Trump Jr. we see through the Russia scandal story is not malevolent: He seems to be simply oblivious to the idea that ethical concerns could possibly play a role in everyday life. When the Russian government offer came across his email, there doesn’t seem to have been a flicker of concern. Instead, he replied with that tone of simple bro glee that we remember from other scandals.

     “Can you smell money?!?!?!?!” Jack Abramoff emailed a co-conspirator during his lobbying and casino fraud shenanigans. That’s the same tone as Don Jr.’s “I love it” when offered a chance to conspire with a hostile power. A person capable of this instant joy and enthusiasm isn’t overcoming any internal ethical hurdles. It’s just a greedy boy grabbing sweets.

     Once the scandal broke you would think Don Jr. would have some awareness that there were ethical stakes involved. You’d think there would be some sense of embarrassment at having been caught lying so blatantly.

     But in his interview with Sean Hannity he appeared incapable of even entertaining any moral consideration. “That’s what we do in business,” the younger Trump said. “If there’s information out there, you want it.” As William Saletan pointed out in Slate, Don Jr. doesn’t seem to possess the internal qualities necessary to consider the possibility that he could have done anything wrong.

     RAD:  "That's what we do..."    We've heard that line from The Donald too, time and again!  Like father, like son...  

     That to me is the central takeaway of this week’s revelations. It’s not that the Russia scandal may bring down the administration. It’s that over the past few generations the Trump family has built an enveloping culture that is beyond good and evil.

     The Trumps have an ethic of loyalty to one another. “They can’t stand that we are extremely close and will ALWAYS support each other,” Eric Trump tweeted this week. But beyond that there is no attachment to any external moral truth or ethical code. There is just naked capitalism.

     RAD:  The Trumps operate like a Mafia family - with which they have done buinsess with....   So why are we surprised?  

     Successful business people, like successful politicians, are very ambitious, but they generally have some complementary moral code that checks their greed and channels their drive. The House of Trump has sprayed an insecticide on any possible complementary code, and so they are continually trampling basic decency. Their scandals may not build to anything impeachable, but the scandals will never end. 

     RAD:  Like I said moral scandals often lead to political scandals.  And wasn't it Gerald Ford who said back in the day that an impeachable offense is anything a majority of the House think it is.  Now what the Senate does is another kettle of fish...   But the stench is rising...     

 

Monday
Jul032017

HAPPY 4th - THE CASE FOR A NEW REVOLUTION...  

A NEW AMERICAN REVOLUTION:

     Too many Americans see the 4th of July as a time to enjoy a baseball game, a family picnic, or exploding firecrackers not as a time for reflection. 

     We forget that our nation was born out of acts of repression and violence.  While most of us feel the "good guys" won, they forget the toll was accepting slavery, the attempted eradication of Native Americans and the acceptance of the role of women as second class chattel. We've come a long way since 1776 mostly for the good but not without great sacrifices from every generation since then. 

     And we face a new evil, the rise of home grown authoritarianism -

     In the age of Trumpism - the new authoritarianism - we need a rebirth of the American Dream not one framed by the idea of "what's good for corporate America, is good for Americans" but one framed by a new humanism that does not calculte your work or lack thereof as the measure of what it means to be human.
     Our humanity is how we treat others, especially the most vulnerable of us - children, the poor, the other.  The measure of our value is the bigness of our heart not the size of our wallet.
     The philosopher Henry Giroux offers an alternative vision of what needs to be done but I find it long on critical analysis and short on next steps.  But his conclusion gives us the glimpse of what progressives need to work for - a guaranteed national income not connected to work but as a fundamental human right.

www.salon.com
Fighting back against the right's politics of exclusion can be a path toward rebuilding American democracy

     When a coal miner in West Virginia, a logger in Oregon, or a Detroit auto worker loses their job - they and their family should be sheltered from the crushing reality of what it means to be without a paycheck. 
     Trump can promise coal miners jobs but those jobs will not return anymore than the logging jobs in Oregon have returned.  We have a very different economy that no amount of tweeting from the Oval Office can change.  
     If we solve this problem along with going to a single payer health care system - then people can focus on what's really important - reinventing themselves by going back to school, raising their kids, helping in their community.  

     On this basis Red and Blue voters should be united - that nobody deserves to be economically marginalized - by losing a job, their health care and/or their home.  This concept has had bi-partisan support since the McGovern/Nixon election campaign in 1972 but it got little attention due to the Watergate scandal.  


     We don't have to reinvent the wheel.  We simply have to decide whether we invest in Americans or machines.  Let's begin by realizing we are not defined by our "work."   I'm a husband, a father, a grandfather, a once professor now unpaid pundit, blogger and citizen activist. I'm also reading books for pleasure again - what a concept.  
     Since leaving the workforce in 2009 I've reinvented myself many times in ways I never imagined. I also used to play bogey golf.  But I could do none of these things without the safety net of a pension plan I paid into for over 40 years, social security and a savings account. 
     Most Americans living paycheck to paycheck or by piling up credit card debt don't have that luxury today.  A guaranteed national income plus single payer health care will shelter millions American against the brutal facts of an economy that regards them as 'expendable'. Only then will they have the "luxury" to determine what they really want to do when they grow up!   

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     For more on this topic - http://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/we-cant-afford-not-to-provide-a-new-social-safety-net


Wednesday
Jun282017

THE SECRET BEHIND LATEST DEMOCRATIC LOSSES

     Editor's Note:  The key the winning elections is knowing how to count the votes.  This turns out to be more complicated than one might think as Hedrick Smith dissects recent off-year congressional races.  Elections are as much about design as turnout.  

Hedrick Smith

June 26, 2017

     Washington – The key takeaway from the super-heated battle for Georgia’s 6th Congressional district, where Republican veteran Karen Handel beat Democratic neophyte Jon Ossoff, is that partisan gerrymandering is king. It swings elections more powerfully and reliably than a flood of MegaMoney.

     Democrats and their supposedly “independent” Super-PACS turned this special election into the most expensive House race in U.S. political history. Flexing their financial muscle, Democrats poured a war chest of $39.2 million into the race, heavily outspending the still potent $24.8 million on the Republican side. But all that Democratic money went for naught. But why?

 

Republicans Karen Handel (R-GA) and Ralph Norman (R-SC) boosted to victory in special elections by gerrymandered districts.

     As they poked through the ashes of defeat, disgruntled Democrats blamed their previously youth-hero candidate, 30-year-old Jon Ossoff for too thin a resume or for not residing inside his election district. Or they sniped at late-breaking TV images of the shooting of Congressional Republicans by a Democratic malcontent. Or they carped that House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and her “San Francisco values” had undercut Ossoff in  among tradition-minded Georgia voters.

     But the pundits forgot the fundamentals – that Georgia’s sixth district had been engineered by the Republican Party’s gerrymander map-makers in 2001 and again in 2011 to guarantee victory for Republican candidates and defeat for Democrats.

How Red Map Has Given Republicans “A Lock”

     Amidst the finger-pointing and handwringing, political soothsayers ignored the obvious – that for four solid decades, Georgia’s sixth congressional district has been red, solid red, pure red, steadily red, loyally red, predictably red. In politics, that is called “a lock” – a safe political monopoly that has worked for the GOP in that district for 21 straight congressional elections.

     That lock was most recently the bounty of RedMap, the GOP’s stunningly successful campaign to capture control of as many state governments as possible in the 2010 elections. By picking up 675 legislative seats nationwide in 2010, Republicans won vital leverage in the wake of the 2010 census, when congressional seats were reapportioned and election district lines had to be redrawn.

     The RedMap sweep enabled Republicans to stack the mapping of election districts in the GOP’s favor in a string of states from Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania to Virginia, Georgia, the Carolinas and Florida. Democrats did it, too in Maryland, Illinois and Massachusetts, but in far fewer states than Republicans.

     RedMap has paid off handsomely. It helped Republicans gain control of the House of Representatives in 2012 with a 33-seat majority even though Democratic candidates won 1.5 million more votes nationwide than Republicans. “Republicans derive a net benefit of at least 16-17 congressional seats in the current Congress” from partisan gerrymandering, says a new study from the nonpartisan Brennan Institute at New York University law school.

RedMap – Firewall vs. The Democrats

     What’s more, RedMap is the gift that keeps on giving. The sophisticated computer software used by the Republican mapmakers enabled the GOP to carve the boundaries of election districts with such precision that those GOP-drawn district maps now provide a firewall for Republican candidates in 2017 and beyond.

     Not just in Georgia, where Handel beat Ossoff, but next door in South Carolina where Republican Ralph Norman defeated Democrat Archie Parnell, by 51% to 47% in that state’s fifth district. Go back a decade and Democrats used to win that district easily, because they had drawn the maps in 2001.

     But when the 2010 census gave South Carolina one new House seat and the election maps were redrawn, the Republican legislature made sure that the fifth district was solidly Republican and and made it =easy for their man Mike Mulvaney to romp to victories in three elections. And last week, despite a strong challenge by Parnell, a pro-business Democrat with a Goldman Sachs pedigree, once again South Carolina’s fifth district worked like a charm as ”safe” Republican.

What Lured Democrats to Hope

     In Georgia, Democrats were lured into discounting the political laws of gravity by two electoral anomalies. In 2016, President Trump had only narrowly carried that district and since then, Trump had gone so far off the rails that they were tempted to believe that the highly educated district voters would punish any Republican candidate for Trump’s political sins. And second, Ossoff took everyone by surprise by finishing first among a bipartisan field of 18 candidates in the first April primary with 48% of the vote.

Democrats Jon Ossoff of Georgia, left, + Archie Parnell of South Carolina (right) faced uphill battles from the get go in districts gerrymandered by GOP.

     But in the runoff two months later, when both parties had time to mobilize their legions, turnout shot up from 193,000 to nearly 260,000. Ossoff was stuck at 48% of the vote. ”When turnout starts going up that high, and people start coming out of the woodwork to vote, it moves back to the (natural) alignment of the district,” commented Atlanta-based pollster Robert Cahaly.

     Natural alignment in Georgia’s sixth district, as in many other states, means gerrymandered alignment – stacked the way the majority party drew election district maps, picking reliable majorities of their own voters to keep themselves in power. 

The Historic pattern – Democratic for 134 years, Republican for 38

     Gerrymandering has a long history in American politics, dating back to 1812 and Democratic Governor Eldridge Gerry of Massachusetts. In Georgia, The Atlanta Constitution reported recently, Democrats created a lock on the sixth district in 1844 and dominated it for 134 years, except for a brief period during post-Civil War Reconstruction.

     But ever since 1978, when Newt Gingrich, then an upstart college professor, broke the Democratic lock by winning an open seat election, the Republicans have had their own monopoly in this district. Gingrich had one close-call election in 1990. But otherwise, he won a string of victories with majorities of 55% to 71%. In the last seven elections, former Rep. Tom Price always won with at least a 60% majority.

     Against that big built-in Republican tilt in Georgia and South Carolina, Democrats Jon Ossoff and Archie Parnell did strikingly well, but had little chance of winning. Democrats, now headed toward the 2018 mid-term elections and beyond, will once again face a slew of tough uphill battles against built-in Republican gerrymander advantages in at least 100 congressional districts.

     The partisan locks by both parties have triggered political rebellions among voters. In more than a dozen states, blatant party power politics have provoked grass roots reform movements seeking a more authentic choice for voters by turning over the job of drawing district lines to independent bipartisan commissions.

     Some Democratic voters in Wisconsin and Republican voters in Maryland have gone to court, challenging partisan gerrymandering as unconstitutional. In Wisconsin, a three-judge federal panel has  sided with the voters, finding that the majority party has diluted the value of their votes and outlawing partisan gerrymandering. In an uproar, Wisconsin’s Republican leadership has appealed and so partisan gerrymandering will go on trial before the Supreme Court this fall, with the potential for a wholesale upheaval in the landscape of American politics.

Thursday
Jun222017

WASHINGTON COUNTY DROPS THE BALL AGAIN...  

Update: This blog post has gotten more eyes than in months!  All politics is local - eh?   

Washiington County Chair Andy Duyck cites housing affordability as county's number one issue, especially with federal aid declining. 

Reader beware of a fox dressed in sheep's clothing or brain dead thinking at the helm - take your pick!  


PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP PHOTO: PETER WONG - Andy Duyck, chair of the Washington County Board of Commissioners, said a poll showed 52 percent support for a countywide levy to increase affordable housing.

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP PHOTO: PETER WONG - Andy Duyck, chair of the Washington County Board of Commissioners, said a poll showed 52 percent support for a countywide levy to increase affordable housing.

Correction:  the poll showed a range of 53-57% in favor of such a levy. 

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     Washington County Commissioners Board Chairman Andy Duyck announced that an earlier idea for a countywide tax measure to help fund housing alternatives is dead but that county officials are still exploring options for addressing the county's housing crisis.

     "I don't have any answers for you right now," Duyck said Monday, June 19, at a Washington County Public Affairs Forum luncheon. "But we cannot go in the direction we were thinking. Housing remains a top priority. We will continue to direct resources where we can to get the housing we need."

     RAD:  "I don't have any answers..."  But "we cannot go in the direction we were thinking..."  The county has no problem with aggressively supporting a public safety levy, a library levy and a road levy - why not a social sevices levy which includes housing, early childhood and workforce training? 

     The answer from the Board has been this is not our mission!  Huh?  This not an example of profiles in courage.  

     Duyck withheld judgment on a proposed ordinance that would govern in-fill development. The board has scheduled a public hearing on that issue Tuesday, July 11.

     Duyck has already announced he will not seek a third term as board chairman next year. He was the District 4 commissioner from western Washington County for 16 years until he was elected chairman in 2010.

      RAD:  Andy has had his day, it's time for new leadership at the top! 

     While restating many of the points he made at a "state of the county" address April 11, Duyck focused more on housing Monday.

     "Now, more than ever, I am convinced that the availability and affordability of housing consumes more attention and concern than just about any other issue we face," he said.

     "Housing has been a recurring issue among all of the mayors in their 'state of the city' addresses."

     Although Duyck listed a number of projects with county involvement — including the 236-unit Sunset View project in Beaverton — he quoted Cornelius Mayor Jef Dalin, who said: "It's like shaving ice from an iceberg; it's a small dent in a big problem."

     RAD:  So how does one get to the big problem?  There is only one answer - a combination of county, state and federal funding for affordable rental units across the county.  A $22 million per year levy would leverage for every county taxpayer dollar an additional $10-13 dollars from government and non-governmental entities.  

     Housing is one of three community goals identified by Washington County Thrives, a coalition of nonprofit groups and public agencies, including several county government departments. The others are early childhood and workforce training programs.

     RAD:  Thrives had a good idea but their leadership team bowed down to Andy et al.  Too many of Thrives members organizations are dependent on county support so biting the hand that feeds them is hard to do.

Cost and shortage

    Housing is deemed affordable, under a federal definition, if a person's rent or mortgage consumes less than 30 percent of their household income. But according to the 2017 budget message presented by County Administrator Robert Davis on May 9, almost 40,000 county households pay more than 30 percent.

     RAD:  For those who pay more than 30% for housing this means they have less for food, clothing, medical care.  And those who work at the minimum wage don't have the benefit of child care. Many such families depend on local food banks and/or charity from local churches.  

     By another measure, the county is more than 40,000 units short of housing, although development of 15,000 units is currently underway. 

       RAD:  The 15,000 units are market based developments not afforable for those whose incomes are 50% or less of medium familty incomes. 

     About 40 percent of county residents are renters.

     RAD:  This is the group who needs our help.  But the marketplace does not deliver a product which such families can afford - so they move further out in more rural areas, away from good paying jobs, cycle between renting and being at risk of homelessness.      

     Duyck said commissioners had been studying several proposals for housing that would have been supported by a countywide local-option levy of 34 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, about $86 annually for a home assessed at an average of $252,000.

     RAD:  I think most home owners in Washington County can afford another $86 per year to help those in need.  That's the cost of one ticket to a Mariner, Blazer or Quack game!  

     The levy would have helped pay the county's systems development charges — assessed on new construction for water and sewer lines, streets and parks — on housing projects developed by nonprofit groups.

      RAD:  Back in '93-94 when I chaired a county task force on affordable housing such "incentives" were considered necessary to attract the home building industry.  So why is this not a positive, Andy?  

     Duyck said commissioners were also willing to consider streamlining the permit process to speed approvals. And some money would have boosted existing programs that enable people to stay in their homes.

     RAD:  These have always been talking points in the county and in Salem for gaining support for such investments in housing.  So why wasn't this enough to move the board to a "yes"?  

     Duyck said federal aid for housing has declined in recent years — and the county is in danger of losing a big chunk of $2 million in community development block grants, which help pay for public works and other neighborhood improvements. The county administers the grants in all cities except Beaverton, which handles its own.

     RAD:  All the more reason for a county levy!  Again there is no "sticker" shock in $86 more per year!  Let's get real - that's NOT Andy's reason for saying "No."  

     Congress, however, has the final say on budget proposals by President Donald Trump.

     "We decided some time ago that we were going to have to deal with this ourselves and we could not rely on others," Duyck said. "We thought we had a path forward and we did some polling work to find out what the public mood was for a housing bond.

     "Unfortunately, when we did that polling, we found that the public mood is just not there to support it."

     RAD:  I analyzed the poll previously in my blog.  It suffers from serious methodological flaws and errors on demographic assumptions about who would vote.  But more importantly, unlike many such issues there is no public discussion of this issue - so an aggressive ground game would have a chance to move the dial on such a levy despite inevitable opposition for the construction and realestate lobby.

     If the levy was submitted in the November 2018 election, it would have a broader base of voters not just aged oldsters like moi but mellennials et al.  If it failed as the public safety levy did in 2005 - then supporters could re-tool their messaging to broaden their base as was done in 2006.  But Andy et al love cops, the board doesn't feel that way toward the poor.  

     Duyck said afterward that while a telephone survey indicated support, it was at just 52 percent — and consultants say that number should range in the 60s because support for a tax measure usually erodes before an election.

     RAD:  Correction the poll showed a range of support from 53-57%.  Again since there is no public visibility of such a levy at this time - a pro levy campaign could increase support since it doesn't come in with high negatives unlike many ballot measures.  But it would take "an all hands on board approach."  Clearly the message from the board is the majority of 3 on the board have "no will" to ge there.

     Check out my previous post on this issue: 

WAITING FOR GODOT...  

Critic of the state 

     Duyck did restate his criticism of recent state legislation.

     Lawmakers last year allowed inclusionary zoning — a requirement by local governments for developers to set aside below-market housing units — but only Portland has done so.

     "It's also been shown not to work well," Duyck said. "Market forces being what they are, if there's no profit in it, there's no construction."

     Lawmakers this session have considered allowing local rent control and banning no-cause evictions. But a Senate committee killed the rent control idea and the no-cause eviction ban might also be doomed.

     RAD:  Andy's opposition to inclusionary zoning tells us volumes about his values.  Studies have shown inclusionary zoning can and does work.  Andy doesn't know what he's talking about.  We allow mixed use development in our cities all the time - why not include housing in the mix?

     Yes the Oregon legislature despite Democratic majorities and a Democratic governor is walking away from what promised to be hopeful legislation.  There are too many Nike D's in the Puzzle Palace who buckle to the business lobby!  I see it all the time.  It's why I'm no longer spending my time in Salem.  

     But Salem's failure to act is a reason for leadership to show up in the county that considers itself to be "Oregon's economic engine." 

     What is needed is new leadership at the top.  And from press reports we'll have at least a 4 person race for the chairs seat in 2018.  Which of them will commit to this issue?  

     "They will not begin to address the root of the problem. In my view, the most effective way to provide affordable housing is to increase the supply of housing," Duyck said.

      RAD:  This is a totally bogus argument.  There is NO evidence the market will build low income housing.  And without inclusionary zoning which Andy opposes, there is even less chance for this to happen. 

     The next argument out of the No tool box is that our urban growth boundary (UGB) which protects urban/rural reserves is an obstacle to home building.  All the condo and home construction in the county gives the lie to that talking point.     

     "Well-intended proposals that focus solely on keeping low-income populations in decent housing do nothing to increase that supply. Unfortunately, many of the regulatory initiatives being proposed by leaders will have just the opposite effect and they will decrease the focus on increasing the supply."

     RAD:  Andy speaks like a supply side true believer.  So all I can assume is that his trist with the idea of a levy was simply smoke and mirrors.  Short of an act of God  - this was a bridge to nowhere.  Andy has never changed his view - not once!  Hopefully with a new chair the mood music will change in Hillsboro.