Senator Westlund Supports Governor Kulongoski’s Re-election Bid, Calls for Oregonians to Reject Measures 41 & 48
(Bend, OR—October 28, 2006)
"Today, I came to the decision to vote for and openly support Governor Ted Kulongoski’s re-election. It wasn’t a decision I took lightly. For quite awhile I considered not endorsing at all…but the reason I gave for running, because I care and I’m concerned are my same reasons for endorsing Governor Kulongoski.
Oregon has been spiraling into mediocrity and below and the choices we have made as voters have had severe consequences for Oregon. It’s our responsibility to think about what kind of future we want for Oregon and vote accordingly.
Since leaving the race I have been focused primarily on three things: working for tax reform with a coalition of tri-partisan legislators, co-chairing the Senate Commission on Healthcare Access and Affordability that has found a way to provide basic, affordable healthcare for every Oregonian, and working to defeat Measures 41 and 48, two draconian measures that will keep us from investment on my first two priorities.
In these issues I have found a strong ally in Governor Kulongoski.
Oregon is at a cross-roads. After weathering the toughest economic times since the depression, we are just to the point where we can begin to see over the horizon and into the future. What we do next is critical.
Down one road, we have the opportunity to re-invest in education and in our students, to lower costs and provide healthcare for every Oregonian, to create new markets and expansion in renewable energy and to create an Oregon that leads the nation in innovation and economic opportunity.
Down the other, one where Measures 41 and 48 pass, we once again are scraping by as education, public safety and social services compete for an ever smaller piece of the budget pie.
I don’t think Oregonians want that Oregon.
And I know Ted Kulongoski doesn’t want that either
You don’t need to change governors to have change, change is coming and it can be good, but we need to defeat Measures 41 and 48 and re-elect Governor Kulongoski."
Editor's Note: Senator Westlund is correct you don't need a change in governors to have change. But you have to have a governor in place who is receptive to the "right" kind of change. Ted Kulongoski is clearly willing to collaborate with people like Ben Westlund and John Kitzhaber on such major issues as health care reform. This requires a seasoned pro at the helm, not some Johnny Come Lately like Ron Saxton who is "all talk but no walk." The one thing about Ted Kulongoski is that his ego need quotient is low. Unlike Saxton "it not all about him." Give Oregon a chance, Vote for Ted Kulongoski.
Senator Westlund Supports Governor Kulongoski’s Re-election Bid, Calls for Oregonians to Reject Measures 41 & 48
By Russell Sadler
Ballot Measure 45 restores term limits on Oregon legislators -- six years in the House and eight years in the Senate.
In 2002, the Oregon Supreme Court overturned the 1992 term limits approved by voters. The high court ruled the sponsors of that initiative violated a provision of the Oregon constitution that limits initiatives to amending one section of the constitution at a time.
The preamble to Measure 45 says, “Limiting the terms of legislators expands opportunities for public service, reduces the influence of lobbyists and the power of incumbency, and encourages fresh energy and ideas thorough varied public representation...”
Oregon’s decade-long experience with term limits suggests that’s a quaint political theory mugged by a brutal gang of facts.
During the decade term limits were in effect, the Oregon legislature became an artificial, self-induced revolving door of inexperienced, poorly informed lawmakers all struggling with learning the basics of Oregon government at the same time.
Inexperienced legislators became the pawns of the majority leadership which was in turn beholden to the national partisan interests that supplied their campaign cash. The needs of ordinary Oregonians took a backseat to bitter partisanship.
With so many inexperienced lawmakers, lobbyists found they had become the legislature’s institutional memory. Many lobbyists told me they were spending more time just explaining the basics of long-standing issues to green lawmakers than they spent lobbying for their clients’ interests.
Ironically, the lobbyists didn’t like their newly acquired role. In the Voters’ Pamphlet, you will see a large number of well-established trade association lobbyists urging you to vote “no” on Measure 45. They want more experienced lawmakers who have enough background to be more independent of the legislative leadership.
In an op-ed piece promoting Measure 45, Libertarian Paul Farago writes, “Regular open-seat elections began to bring forward a greater diversity of qualified candidates, and resulted in opening the House and Senate to women and minorities who had been long excluded from the old-boy network.”
Sorry Paul. It’s the way we never were.
During the decade term limits were in effect, candidates for the Legislature were less qualified, if anything, because fewer of them had any experience in local government like city councils or school boards.
The demographics really didn’t change much with term limits. The number of women and minorities was not significantly different. Nor was the average tenure of legislators significantly longer or shorter. Term limits simply forced a large number of legislators out of office just as they were getting enough background and experience to do their jobs effectively.
Term limits is a sweet solution looking for a problem.
Oregon really doesn’t have a cadre of “career politicians,” largely because legislators are paid part-time salaries for part-time jobs. The legislature turns over when lawmakers decide they cannot continue to serve on the money they make and either return to make a living in the private sector or run for a higher office that pays a living wage.
The voters decide who moves up the political ladder to a rather small number of full-time jobs held by people who could be classed as “career politicians.” The voters rarely choose Libertarians. And that’s what galls Farago and his bankroller, New York real estate developer Howard Rich.
The Libertarian Party is Oregon’s third largest political party. Yet there is just a scattering of Libertarian office holders on city councils, school and community college boards or appointed to planning commissions. There are no Libertarians in the Legislature or in statewide office. Voters don’t elect them when they are on the ballot. No Libertarian candidate has ever won more than 10 percent of the vote for any major office.
That says a lot about the Libertarians’ rigid “I’ve-got-mine-Jack-you-get-yours” ideology and Oregon voters’ reaction to their gospel of selfishness. Libertarians want to create artificial turnover to create artificial vacancies to increase their own election opportunities. That’s all term limits is about.
Self-appointed “citizens activists” like Paul Farago, Bill Sizemore and Don McIntire have been active in Oregon politics nearly two decades now -- a far longer term that they would permit legislators chosen by the voters. They helped turn Oregon’s initiative process into a private, parallel shadow government, bypassing the checks and balances of the legislative process.
Shouldn’t people with that kind of power over our lives be limited in the number of years they can be self-appointed “citizen activists”? No! Wait! That would be an unconstitutional infringement on their rights of free speech and free association, wouldn’t it. Wouldn’t it?
Editor's Note: Yes, RS let's term limit the likes of Paul Farago, Bill Sizemore and Don McIntire - as Professor Kingsfield (aka John Houseman) in The Paper Chase would say - "the old fashioned way" - vote NO on 45 another "measure of mischief."
The two best sources for gauging the temperature of the electorate as we head into the off year election a mere 2 weeks from today - the Cook Report and Real Clear Politics - indicate that the Democrats will likely take control of the House and the Senate will be a photo finish with the GOP holding on to their majority by a thread of a one or two vote margin. In some ways the Democrats would be better positioned for '08 if they came close but didn't win control of either house! But either way - President Bush and the GOP will be lame ducks after election day 2006. The likely margin of victory for either side will be so narrow that gridlock will be the reality for the next two years as campaign '08 begins on November 8, 2006 with a vengeance. As they say at Indy - "fasten your setbelts..."
William Langeweische, international correspondent for Vanity Fair and author of "Atomic Bazaar" has a chilling conclusion about the "Dr. Strangelove" world we live in today which appears in Monday's op ed page of the Oregonian. He concludes that "...it is important to recognize that the spread of nuclear weapons is a condition over which we do not have control and for which there is no solution. It does no good to bemoan the folly of it all or to belabor the fact that we are the ones who ushered in the Nuclear Age. The world is an unsafe place, and we have no choice but to live in it. Pretending otherwise, or imagining that we can impose order when we lack the power to do so, is the surest recipe for self-destruction and disaster..."
The same could be said about a world with terrorists. What we can do is manage our response to such threats beginning with lowering our rhetoric - like "axis of evil." We live in a new multi-polar age. Sadly, the likely solution according to Langeweische, short of total disarmament (not likely), is to strike a balance of nuclear terror similar to what we had in the Cold War years vis-a-vis the Soviet Union where an attack on us or an ally will be reciprocated not just on the perpetrators (stateless terrorists or a rogue state) but the nation-state which sold the nukes. The tragic irony is that the science behind such weapons of mass destruction is the West's inheritance to the world.
RAD disagrees with the author that morphing from a bi-polar to a multi-polar balance of nuclear terror is progress. But it is the reality we face until we all get serious about moving on with a world wide decommissioning of nukes That's what the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was all about. It would be nice to have an administration in the West Wing which believed in such international protocols so that the world could step away from the nuclear abyss. Because once the genie is uncorked what makes Mr. Langeweische believe it will all end with a simple "eye for an eye"? Among other things, even if he is right it's a simple "tit for tat" strategic bombing exercise - the nuclear cloud will kill people down wind from each target for decades!
The more RAD thinks about the "realist" view Langeweische offers the more unreasonable it becomes. He's assuming the actors in each case are 'rational' actors, that is they operate within the context of fixed, empirically verifiable goals. When you are dealing with terrorists who think there is a reward in Paradise waiting or rogue states which live within their own echo chamber - who knows what 'rational' means? Realists from Truman to Nixon gave us the Cold War and its collateral damage, much of it in the Third World. LBJ believed we had to fight the commies in Nam to stop 'em from crossing into the Golden Gate. Bush believes the same about the jihadists and sadly 9/11 gave him lesson #1. So, is the solution learning how to live with 'the bomb' or ending its reign of terror?
PS: The Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was opened for signature in New York on 24 September 1996, when it was signed by 71 States, including five of the eight then nuclear-capable states. The CTBT has now been signed by 176 states and ratified by 135. India and Pakistan, though not nuclear weapons states as defined by the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), did not sign; neither did the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea). India and Pakistan conducted back-to-back nuclear tests in 1998, while North Korea withdrew from the NPT in 2003 and tested a nuclear device in 2006.
Additionally, to enter into force, the treaty has to be ratified by the 44 Annex 2 states, which is unlikely to happen in the near future. As noted, (as of April 2006) the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, India and Pakistan have neither signed nor ratified the CTBT, and the People's Republic of China, Colombia, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Israel and the United States have not ratified it. The United States, the PRC, India, Pakistan, Israel, and the DPRK are the only nuclear-weapons states (NWS) which have not ratified the Treaty yet.
Steve Duin, Oregonian, October 22, 2006 - On Measure 48: "...It's a testimony to the intellectual weariness of Oregon's progressive commune that a has-been like [Don] McIntire is still on stage, trying to fit state government with another straitjacket [a la Measure 5 but worse - RAD]. When your Democratic governor and the Democratic controlled Senate show no interest in reforming the tax system, guys like McIntire hang around, begging the locals to adopt a spending limit that has provided hefty rebates for Colorado taxpayers while crippling the state's ability to pay for education, highways and health care..."