Sunday, February 25, 2018

School Shooting. Police wait for backup.

An armed deputy was on the scene.  Actually, there were four.


Police did what they are trained to do.

They waited for backup.



Afterwards, his supervisor says the first deputy should have "went in.  Addressed the killer.  Killed the killer."  

He is a Monday morning quarterback, looking at videotape. 

Scott Peterson, the armed school security officer who heard gunfire stayed outside behind cover during the opening minutes of hearing gunfire inside.   Three other Broward County deputies also came to the scene, and also stayed outside, behind their vehicles.   (A neighboring jurisdiction's police force tattled on them. The infamous blue wall is for within the jurisdictional team.)


We train and equip policemen to survive and dominate encounters, not die futilely in them.  Police training is evident in the actual behavior of the four deputies who took up perimeter positions, behind a wall and behind vehicles.  They were waiting for overwhelming force.

Source: Neighboring police force
SWAT teams. Taxpayers spend a lot of money creating and supplying SWAT teams, and military style SWAT vehicles and equipment.  It is all justified to taxpayers by the fact that some criminals are armed by very powerful weapons, way beyond the capacity of a lone policeman, without highly specialized military training, without body armor, acting alone, armed simply with a handgun, to go into unknown situations to confront one or more people armed with unknown high powered firearms, who are perhaps firing from cover.  

It would be suicide.  So police departments ask Budget Committees for specialized SWAT units, and governing bodies say yes. 

There is a public debate currently on whether American school policy should be to arm teachers.  Trump supported it.  The NRA supports it.  There is an instant partisan divide.  Only 28% of Democratic voters support arming teachers, while 68% of Republicans favor it.  Independents are split evenly.

Would teachers be better protectors than policemen?  One reader of this blog says yes. An attorney with long experience litigating police officer and jail brutality cases, says teachers would protect students better than would policemen.

Medford's $260,000 SWAT vehicles
   "Police are trained cowards which is why they shoot unarmed blacks. Cops aren't trained to go solo as a hero, they are trained to coordinate backup. Teachers in the line of fire by contrast would have the advantage of a soldier-- returning fire with the adrenaline our survival instinct provides." 

"Trained cowards."  Those are tough words.

A nicer way to say it is that police would be prudent; teachers would be scared to death. Teachers would act--or so goes one theory.

Hazard pay bonus.  Trump posits that schools may already have on staff,  and could certainly hire with that qualification in mind, military veterans with past and continued training in close quarter combat. He said they could get hazard pay, like the History teacher who coaches girl's basketball or boy's tennis. 

Trump is out selling it as plausible.  

Democrats are saying it is implausible on its face.  They say teachers don't want this and would be no good at it. The idea is that teachers have a nurturing mindset not a combat-ready one.  If policemen cannot charge toward automatic fire, how could sweet old Mrs. Lorton do it?
Republicans want to arm teachers.  Democrats do not.

Besides, it brings more guns into the classroom, another hazard.  A third grader just fired off a round from inside the holstered gun of a school police officer whose attention was diverted that the curious nine year old stuck his finger into the holster.  An angry teenager might easily overpower and take a gun from a teacher.  More guns mean more opportunities for surprises.

Trump quickly backed off his early implication that all teachers should be armed and settled in on the idea that some teachers might be. He posited 4-star Marine general Kelly as just the sort of person who would be able to spring into action in a pinch, were he teaching high school.

Trump says to take action.
My own sense is that the adrenaline-survival instinct premise of the reader comment above is more plausible for individual classroom defense than offense.  Already, schoolroom doors have tiny windows and lockable doors.  Students and teachers are trained for defense by locking the door and staying barricaded.  My sense is that an armed teacher's instinct would be to protect his or her immediate charges, not to abandon them to go out toward gunshots and unknown hazards in unknown places on a search and destroy mission.  We may find out in real life.

A bad plan is more persuasive than no plan. Trump posited a plan that has some possibility of being actionable: more guns in the supposedly right hands, by arming volunteer teachers.  Republicans could push that agenda. Apparently it sounds good to Republican voters. 

Democrats are busy, right now in mainstream media outlets, saying the idea is "preposterous", "absurd," "ridiculous."  TV pundits are saying the problem is guns themselves, too many, too dangerous, and in the wrong hands. The argument has a problem.  There are some five million of them already in circulation, and in a free society guns--like drugs or any other contraband--will inevitably find their way into the hands of the wrong people. The Democratic solution requires regulation and control, in an effort to anticipate and predict the unpredictable, i.e. the mental health of individuals who may already be marginalized and near invisible.  Still, a lot of Americans are uncomfortable with AR-15s and other military style weapons per se, so efforts to controlling them has widespread general support.   

There is asymmetry in voter motivation on this issue. Gun supporters vote to protect the status quo on guns and they care a lot.  People uncomfortable with guns and who are willing to see more controls vote care more about other issues, and besides, they don't have confidence it will work. It would take active, highly competent government, with police, civilian bureaucracies, the FBI, and the nation's national security and intelligence agencies all doing their jobs well. They have been revealed to be less than competent. 

The gun issue is likely to remain a winner for Trump.  Trump looks like he is doing something that could possibly work.  Democrats are asking people to put their faith in efficient, dedicated, government.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Trump's Hair. Never apologize.

"I try like hell to hide that bald spot, folks."


Getting onto Marine One
Trump is open and honest about being a con man.  People consider that a mark of honesty. Democrats--appalled and disgusted by Trump--have a hard time seeing the appeal of this.

Late night comedy shows point at Trump's hair and bald spots and treat it as a matter of humor and expose.  See!  Look at that phony.  Fake hair!

The exposure doesn't hurt Trump.   Why?  

He openly admits it and acts like it doesn't matter, and therefore it doesn't matter. At the CPAC convention he noticed his own hair shown from the back in a TV monitor, and bragged humorously about it: "What a nice picture that is.  Look at that.  Oh, I try like hell to hide that bald spot, folks. I work hard at it.  It doesn't look bad."

Trump's attitude defines this as not-important.  If he isn't ashamed, then it isn't shameful.

Obstruction of justice is a federal crime and an impeachable offense.  Nixon resigned in the face of it.  Bill Clinton was impeached for it.  

Click. Watch.
Donald Trump openly and proudly said on national TV something as clear as what Nixon did, the "smoking gun" discovered via tape recordings played after protracted legal process. In an interview with Lester Holt of NBC news he openly admitted he thought the Comey investigation was wrong and unwelcome so he fired him to obstruct it.   We all heard it.  Trump acted like it was the most natural thing in the world.  

No secret, no embarrassment, and therefore no real political damage.

The video here is a text worth close study.  The political key is not what Trump said, the denoted words that admit he intended to stop a FBI investigation into his administration.  The key is Trump's demeanor.  He acts like it is the most natural think in the world to try to stop something annoying.

Trump communicates that he is simply doing what anyone would do--and therefore nothing to feel guilty about.

Tone and attitude do not merely trump denoted content.  In politics, it is the primary content. If a progressive candidate feels locked into a brand, or feels buried in a pack of others, it won’t be accomplished by the words you say.  It would be done by the attitude he or she expresses—something big and bold and defiant.  


Breaking addition, in response to an excellent comment, shown below:

By Robert Guyer, a Florida attorney:
"An individual commits a crime if he or she acts in a way that fulfills every element of an offense. The statute establishing the offense also establishes the elements of the offense. In general, every crime involves three elements: first, the act or conduct (“actus reus”); second, the individual’s mental state at the time of the act (“mens rea”); and third, the causal link between the act and the offense." (https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/criminal_law) Since you accuse President Trump of a specific crime, obstruction of justice, could you please explain how he, especially given his role as Chief Executive and his lawful authority over Director Comey, "fulfills every element" of the crime of which you accuse him?


Peter Sage responds:  Yes.  I said Trump was guilty of a crime, obstruction of justice.

Let's posit that some crime has likely been committed, e.g. generated by a suspicious piece of evidence but which, itself, is not necessarily a crime, a dead body on the front lawn of the White House with a bullet wounds in the body and head.  It might be suicide.  It might be an accident.  It might be murder.   An investigation by the FBI is undertaken.

An FBI finds some evidence that in fact the person was in fact shot by the candidate for president, either directly or through paid associates, and an investigation accelerates.  Still, the president's exact guilt is unclear, and no indictments have been produced, but it proceeds, questioning the president's associates.  They find significant--but not yet firmly conclusive--evidence that the now-president and his family was involved in some way in the murder.  Some of them were pleading guilty to crimes relating to the offense.

The president was worried sick that the truth about his exact involvement would come out.

In this case, if the president took an act to stop this lawful investigation, either by attempting to frame other people or by firing the people carrying out the investigation for the specific admitted purpose of impeding the investigation, he would 1. have done an act to obstruct the justice involved in finding the murderer, and admitted that his specific purpose was to obstruct the investigation of the crime as it centered on the president.  2. the fact that he openly admitted on national TV that he had thought about it and decided decisively to act for that purpose establishes that it was a guilty mental state to protect himself.  3. The causal act was firing the investigator to stop the investigation, because if the FBI Director, then his successors, could be fired or replaced, the investigation of the murder would end, and it was the very purpose admitted to by the president on tv.

The fact that the President had the legal right to fire the FBI director did not mean he was free to do it if his purpose was to impede a murder investigation.  That would be obstruction of justice.  Trump can probably legally fire a great many people in his administration, but he cannot openly state he is firing them solely because they are Jewish or Black and he hates Jews and Blacks.  That might run afoul of anti-discrimination laws. He could not fire Comey because he wanted to have sex with Comey and was angry that Comey would not comply.That might run afoul of harassment laws.  He could have fired Comey because he didn't like that he was very tall, not a protected status.

But he could not fire Comey because his investigation was getting too close to proving his guilt and that his very intention was to impede an investigation of an apparent crime.  That would be obstruction of justice, all three elements, admitted to on TV.

If he had just fired him for no apparent reason he would be morally suspect but would not have admitted to a obstruction.  



Friday, February 23, 2018

Is Golden doomed? A Guest Comment

Is Jeff Golden an "old guard progressive," with a stale brand past its sell-by date?   

Golden Bullet.  New and Improved.

 Not necessarily.


Today's post features a comment I received in the middle of the night. 

The comment likened Jeff Golden's candidacy to Hillary Clinton's.  It was a warning:  Democrats might well choose to nominate for a State Senate seat a dynastic old-guard progressive candidate with narrow appeal, lots of enemies, and a tired brand.  

The author identified him or her self (hereafter simply "she") as the author of a previous comment who had found Golden "frustrating and irritating" for sharing muddled considerations and reservations regarding an issue, rather than a "clear and substantive answer."  She said he would be ineffective in Salem.  She said he would lose the general election.

The entire comment, verbatim, is shown below.  I do not know who wrote the comment.  I don't care. What is important to me regarding comments is whether they add to a respectful discussion of the issues this blog addresses: political message, policy, electability. It does.

I consider both the comment below and the former one (Feb 20 posttough and critical.  I had posted that I considered the comment helpful to Golden--whether he knew it or not--because it is thrusting him out of a cocoon of legacy establishment Ashland progressive politics.  

Golden has enormous assets going into this primary.  He has 40 years of contacts with donors and supporters.  He can hold an event in the home of an influential person and people show up, with checkbooks. They have done it before and no doubt are doing so now.  He has highly skilled and motivated campaign staff.  He has a brand.  

He has three opponents in the primary, so people tired of that Golden brand are likely to be divided. Neither Medford City Council person Kevin Stine, nor physician Julian Bell, nor AllCare behavioral health supervisor Athena Goldberg have widespread name or brand recognition. Unless one--and only one--of his opponents explode into voter consciousness as the alternative to Golden, he has a clear path to the nomination.  

Hillary Clinton had her own suite of locked-in opponents, with her 40 years of work in progressive causes.  So, too, Golden.  He made enemies of the usual suspects of lumber mill owners, Chambers of Commerce, and social conservatives, plus the assortment of detractors one gets by having been a County Commissioner who cut budgets, a talk show host who expressed opinions, and person living in a tight community.

Golden Scrub Cloths.  New and Improved.
The comment below assumes that Jeff is trapped by his own mature personality and political philosophy deep into a single inflexible brand, a punctilious "niche progressive" from Ashland.  If that is true, then Democrats may well be trapped themselves, likely to nominate the strongest primary candidate but a weak general election candidate.  


It is not necessarily true.  

The Golden brand and style has two prongs to it.  One is pure college town progressive--the old guard establishment bubble--but the other is an outside-the-box openness to alternatives. That prong can come across as mushy indecision and kumbaya of universal one-ness, and if Golden presents it that way then, indeed, the comment below is well expressed and he is doomed. In that case the two prongs of his brand reinforce one another and make the Golden brand even worse.

.Click: "She was the candidate because it was her turn."
But it need not be. The prong of open-ness could be communicated as decisive independence and frank rejection of all bubbles, including his. He cannot just say it because every cynical politician says it, and it would just confirm Golden as one more of them. He would have to communicate a message of independence decisively, in the persuasive body-language message system of actually demonstrating independence.  He would have to break the bubble, conspicuously.

He probably needs to do it now, in the primary, when it would be credible.  Waiting to "move to the center" in a general election is precisely the kind of tired cliche trick that voters discount.  

I am more inclined to find message and policy flexibility in Golden than does the author of the comment below.  We will see.  November will be too late.


Guest Comment:

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Some people like Jeff Golden. Some do not.":

I don’t think that Cathy Shaw wrote the first comment on this blog post; I think that comment was written by Alma Rivelle, the person who posted it. I know that Kevin Stine didn’t write the critical comment of Jeff Golden’s response and candidacy because I wrote it. I don’t intend to sign my name to that comment or to this one because I would rather avoid the insiders’ speculation as to which candidate I’m supporting, and the assumption that a desire to get a particular candidate elected was my motivation in writing that criticism.

I do not work for any of the candidates, nor am I affiliated with any campaign. I am a concerned voter whose primary interest is in seeing a strong candidate come out of the primary who will beat the Republican candidate in the general election and who will effectively serve their constituents. I understand that my words were harsh and critical, but I didn’t write them because I don’t like Jeff. He’s a nice person and I believe that he cares about this valley. However, I do not think that he’s a strong candidate outside of the primary or that he would be effective in Salem.

It’s true that he worked for progressive issues in his day, but were the issues that he fought for enough for Democrats in his district to fight for him in the general? Are those decades-passed efforts his legacy? Or is he identified as an old guard South Valley progressive who lost an election to a conservative the last time he was on a ballot?

I don’t generally like to draw comparisons between local and national politics because people tend to take that too far, but just as another frame to view this primary in, consider the 2016 national primaries. The party chose to support a dynastic candidate, one with support from key donors and strategists, who had already demonstrated an inability to win the support of voters. That decision was clearly made by “the establishment,” or in this case, the old guard, and drove the folks who don’t generally turn out for special elections or primaries further from the party, and that party divide and lack of enthusiasm for the establishment cost us the presidency.

What’s missing in this analogy is a Bernie Sanders candidate, but the analogy is not without the threat of a Trump outcome. I’m not saying that support should go to the most populist candidate, don’t get me wrong (this is why I tend to avoid drawing these comparisons). I’m just saying that you should take a step outside of your bubble and take into account what you already know about the voters we’ll face in the general. They don’t tend to support Ashland progressives or niche progressives in general, and don’t particularly like candidates who have spent decades “on the inside”; and, they’ll be reminded that they’ve rejected Jeff on the ballot previously (and why was that?). What do they like? Is there anything beyond some degree of name recognition that makes you think that he would be the best candidate in the general?

Thursday, February 22, 2018

De-legitimizing the Florida teens

Donald Trump mastered the technique of de-legitimization.  It works in the current political and media environment.


We are seeing another iteration of it now.

The school shooting incident in Florida has a new twist.  Unlike the mass shooting incidents in Las Vegas or Sandy Hook or San Bernardino this one produced angry, well spoken survivors who took to the microphones and camera to denounce the failure of the adult world to protect them.


David Hogg, 17:   Click: 40 second video.
The teenagers are photogenic. Several of them are camera and TV-adept. They adopted the talk radio/Fox News tone of indignation and outrage, which works on TV.  They accuse and denounce Trump.

"In response to your most recent tweet where you said that the Democrats had not been able to get anything done when they controlled the House and the Senate and the presidential executive branch.   

How dare you!

You are in that exact position now and you want to look back at our history and blame the Democrats?   That's disgusting.  You're the president.  You're supposed to bring this nation together, not divide us!   How dare you!  Children are dying and their blood is on your hands because of that.  Please.  Take action. Stop going on vacation to Mir a Lago. Take action.  Work with Congress.  Your party controls the House.  Take action.  Get some bills passed. And for God's sake, let's save some lives."

It is powerful because it is passionate.  It points right at Trump personally.  Stop going on vacation and do your job.  

Not all the teenagers were so nice.   One teenager responded to Trump's "prayers and condolences to the families of the victims" tweet by writing a tweet of her own: "I don't want your condolences, you fucking piece of shit. . . .Do something instead of sending prayers."


The de-legitimization begins immediacy.   

Click Here for more
Trump's conservative allies attack the teenagers personally, accusing them of being very different from what they appear.  They are fake. Ignore their argument and look closely at them.  There is something wrong with them and they are the issue.  

The leading edge of attacks on the teenagers is Alex Jones, who posited that the entire Florida shooting was perhaps a false flag con

This has bled into the usual suspects of pro-Trump media positing their accusations are  fake in some way.  So far I have heard these lines of de-legitimization: 

1.  They are actors, and this didn't really happen.
2.  They are paid to do this by others, perhaps by George Soros.
3.  They could not possibly arrange to go to Tallahassee and elsewhere without some parental or organizational support, so let's focus on their support structure.
4.  The kids are badly raised and out of line for disrespecting authority (Sheriff Clark said his father would have backhanded him across the face had he challenged authority like that.)
5.  The kids are examples of kids whose parents are crazy liberals.
6.  The most adept speaker, David Hogg, is the son of a retired FBI agent and the son is protecting and diverting attention from the FBI.
7.  Maybe there were scripts and talking points about guns written before the event and the whole thing was pre-planned as an anti-gun hoax.
8.  These are just silly kids, mouthing off in their ignorance. ("Adults-1, Children-0")
9.  The teenagers are knowing participants in an ugly bit of "moral blackmail", cynically using their tragedy to force people to listen to them.


Will de-legitimization work?   

It already partly has. Teenagers are already going on camera denying they are actors. Their legitimacy is now a matter in controversy.  Conservative media can report on the controversy, thus repeating the charge they are, maybe, fake.

Trump media also focuses on who is assisting the teenagers. This makes it harder for teenagers to organize and be effective, since the next steps inevitably involve getting institutional support, which the Trump-allied media has defined as nefarious.

Dangerous for a Trump to do
The power of de-legitimizaiton is so great that the attackers are going forward even thought the teenagers are bad targets. De-legitimization of politicians seems like fair game.  But not kids. 

The teenagers are young and attractive.  It is punching down and trivializing people angry over dead teenagers.  Standing in tee shirts in front of cameras, they look like what they are: too young to vote. Their essential argument, that they are dis-empowered by adult rules that put them at risk is affirmed by their very look and status. 

Donald Trump, Jr.'s "like" was a mistake.  Trump needs to let others do the dirty work of de-legitimizing teenagers.  



Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Sweet Blessing of Sharp Criticism

Jeff Golden got criticized yesterday.  Lucky him. 


In politics sometimes your best assets are your critics.


Some rookie politicians think that criticism is bad and pleasantries are good.  They have it backwards.  

Politicians communicate in order to build networks of support. A lot of it is worthless social pleasantries.

1.  Nicey-nicey waste of time talk.  Rookie politicians say things they know voters like to hear. They confuse politics with polite dinner conversation.  They say they value hard work.  They want ethics in government. They want good things.   

Comments like that are a total waste of time for everyone, except to prove the politician has nothing to say. Everyone likes hard work, ethics, etc.

Rah-rah for the home team talk.  Rookie politicians seek cheap mini victories, saying things that the home team likes but others would not.  A Republican who says, "There's something about Hillary I just don't trust" is doing that.   Same with a Democrat saying Trump is a "dangerous loudmouth."  Statements like that don't distinguish one politician from another in their party.  They, too, are a waste of time. ("How are you?" "Fine, thank you.")

Political speech is only meaningful if one is saying something that someone would disagree with.   Only then is the politician staking out political turf.

Criticism is the magic elixir to build support. 

A politician has to show he stands for something by doing something costly, e.g. by risking votes and being criticized and standing firm for something some people won't like. Then voters can infer what you really stand for, because you took heat for it.

Jeff Golden, in his public persona, is an authentic archetype of old school Baby Boomer college town liberalism.

He matured out of 1960's student radicalism into a suite of unsurprising opinions and interests familiar in places like Ashland:  progressive, anti-GMO, anti-war, pro-diversity, pro-women, anti-pipeline, pro climate stability, tax the rich, anti-corporate, anti-PAC, pro health care expansion, pro renewable energy, anti-fossil fuels. He had a talk show on public radio, and he has a public TV show, Immense Possibilities, that give heartwarming examples of citizen involvement for a better world. He has written books about better civic engagement, conspicuous for their earnestness. 
Click: Sharp Criticism of Golden in yesterday's post

Jeff Golden is consistent.  He has a brand.  Golden has nurtured the votes of college town liberals for a lifetime. He should win a vast majority of that constituency because he has earned them.  His problem politically is not that those votes are at risk.  It is that is brand is so powerful that it appears that he is a narrow archetype of that college town consciousness, and nothing else.

Golden can win a primary election among Democrats, but lose everywhere else in a general election.  This isn't guesswork; this is history.  Golden has twice lost elections to Republicans when running in districts larger than Ashland.

Yesterday Golden got his sweet blessing of sharp criticism.  He got it from where he needed it, from the left, for not being a knee jerk college town liberal, for not being doctrinaire enough.  

The critic is angry Golden did something unexpected.  Lucky Jeff.

Criticism from inside the progressive group gives Golden's public brand some beginnings of credibility for balance and independence.  Could he actually act contrary to the demands of his friends on the progressive left? Maybe Jeff Golden is persuadable if there is a good case. Maybe the public needs to re-think the Golden brand.

The bandwagon of attaboys Golden gets from supporters do as much harm as good. (As I was drafting this post another one came into this blog's Comments file, saying "If you think Golden hasn't championed progressive issues, you have not been paying attention.")  His friends and allies may rally to his side, assuring each other and the world that Jeff is solidly predictable in his typecast role.  His friends will damage him, but with the best of intentions. 

More useful to Golden is the criticism that he is not always on the leading edge of every progressive issue and not locked into meeting the expectations of a tight knit political community, not a caricature. 

He needs more critics, complaining loudly he isn't doctrinaire enough.


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Some people like Jeff Golden. Some do not.

Pushback on Jeff Golden and his comments yesterday.


Some people thought Golden was thoughtful and cautious.  Others thought he was weak and cowardly.


Jeff Golden insisted that his comments in this blog on the Health Care Amendment be published verbatim, in full, and with a neutral headline.  Golden told me he wanted unfiltered "full transparency."  

I consented.
This blog got a flurry of comments sent primarily by email.  Many criticized me for agreeing to let him--or any candidate--tell me what kind of headline to use and that I must not summarize or interpret what he or she said. They said either Golden was a prima donna, or I was a total wimp who failed my readers.

But others praised Golden and the blog:  They said we got to hear Jeff straight up and unfiltered, and they found that useful.

In the spirit of the "full transparency" Jeff requested, here is the longest and most analytical of the comments I received.  It is from a detractor.

I have zero idea who wrote it--but it does not matter.  What is important is not the identity or credentials of the author.  It is whether this point of view is legitimate and rings true to people.  Readers can decide, again on their own, with this comment published verbatim and in full. 

Golden has been here a long time and many people know him well. He has a reputation; he has friends; he has detractors.  If this comment below is a lonely voice, then I expect Jeff will win the Primary election handily. If lots of others feel this way, then maybe he has a problem, and it is better for him and the voters to know about it now, and each can take the appropriate action.

I am aware of no polling in this race, but I suspect Golden is the only one with significant name recognition at this moment.

A reader comment:


Jeff Golden?   "Frustrating and irritating."


"Whether or not to pass a constitutional amendment establishing healthcare as a right isn't a lofty philosophical question; its a mandate for the legislature to craft policy that ensures access to healthcare for all. It would legally compel the legislature to remove barriers to healthcare access for all Oregonians (like a lack of revenues, for instance; and a Democrat who doesn't support revenues isn't much of an improvement from Deboer. Voters will feel the same way and apart from the Ashland old-guard progressives, Democrats will not feel compelled to rally behind Jeff in the general. You need the Ashland old-guard for primaries but if those are the only voters you can move, running is a waste of resources).
Comment to yesterday's blog post

If Jeff would prefer to spend his time passing more substantive healthcare policy, I'm not clear as to why he wouldn't already fully support restricting the abilities of some of the very conservative members of the legislature from pulling the kind of stunt we saw from Julie Parrish and Sal Esquivel at the end of this last session. Not everybody will choose to come to the table in good faith and have these drawn out conversations in Salem. Sometimes you have to compel your opponents to come to the table and make them stay until they come up with a real solution.

As far as the probability of the legislation passing the ballot test is concerned, it has been less than a month since voters overwhelmingly approved Measure 101, which shows more promise for healthcare as a voting issue than we've seen from any other issues in years. I don't think that its appropriate to assume that a ballot measure which is more closely related to Measure 101 than it is to GMO labeling or corporate taxes would go the way of the latter. The Measure 101 campaign built a meaningful coalition like I haven't seen before and if we have the ability to utilize that resource to take bold action for underserved Oregonians, we should capitalize on it.

Also worth considering is the significant impact that Janus v AFSCME is likely to have on one of the largest sources of funding for Democratic candidates and ballot measures in Oregon. Having just lost an executive seat to a conservative Republican as well as the SD3 seat while we still had that funding, we ought to be hoping for the best and preparing for the worst, *especially* since we'll have Richardson in office during redistricting. Recognizing the threats that we face and preparing for the future requires both a revitalization of the organizing model, and real policy like this amendment. If this policy passed the ballot test it would require more than a simple majority to reverse it, and that's a long-term insurance policy for low-income Oregonians.

Reading a long explanation for failing to give a clear and substantive answer for such a timely question was frustrating and irritating. Maybe I was spoiled by Bates and Buckley but I'm not about to support someone who wouldn't show the same respect to their base as they did. We knew where they stood on most issues because when we asked them, they told us. If Jeff really doesn't have an answer to this question, let him ramble on and on to RCC students or radio listeners and send someone who is ready to take a position who we can trust to caucus for those positions to represent us.

We need folks in the legislature who will show up ready to do more than just talk. We need folks who will be effective in the building. We need champions for progressive issues. And we need someone who can win. Jeff is none of those things."




Sunday, February 18, 2018

Yes and No and Jeff Golden

I asked each candidate for State Senator a question currently before the Oregon Senate:


"Do you support the proposed amendment to the Oregon Constitution to declare affordable health care to be a constitutional right?"  Yes or No?


This blog piece quotes Jeff Golden at length. I was confused by his first response.  He responded with two more amplifications over two days.

A reader will see his entire response below.  He wrote on condition that his responses be quoted verbatim and in full.  I complied with that request.

Readers get an unfiltered insight into Jeff Golden's approach to decision-making on a controversial issue, his consideration of pros and cons, caveats, and conditions--and then his final response.


Jeff Golden, condition for participation:  
"Peter, I’ve drafted an answer to your healthcare question.  It’s not the orthodox D response, so it’s vulnerable to having excerpts used out of context. For that reason I’d want it run in its entirety (300 words).  You good with running our answers unedited?  Thanks, Jeff"    

Jeff Golden
Jeff Golden, statement:  
"Peter, it would be easy (and in this contested Democratic primary race, safer) to just answer your question “yes” and be done with it. But I think Thad may be right.  Are we here to make a noble philosophical point, one likely to lead to endless arguments and litigation over interpretation and enforcement, or to make sure that all Oregonians actually have access to quality health care? I’m running to do the second. I honestly think that Oregon’s positioned to create the “public option” that millions of Americans want, and that we could follow Canada’s example, where success in one province made its adoption at the national level unstoppable.

The framework guiding me doesn’t go to the philosophical level of “human rights.” It’s simply this: in a country as rich as ours, that spends more money on the military than the next several nations combined (that’s before Trump’s huge Pentagon increase), it is nakedly immoral for people to die or chronically suffer because they can’t access good health care. The U.S. seems to be the only prosperous county in the world that doesn’t get that.

The Oregon Constitution is chock full of amendments, hundreds of them; they’re one reason Oregon’s become so hard to govern. Many that were pushed as great ideas at the time went on to handcuff legislators from considering sensible solutions years down the road (income tax kicker, anyone?).  It’s really hard for me to believe that what’s needed now is more amendments.  

Democrats only have so much energy and political capital in Salem.  I’d rather have us spend it on specific, effective universal health care legislation—and it’s within reach—than lofty philosophical battles likely to be re-fought again and again among legislators and judges who read the language differently. Let’s put doing good over feeling good. Before making a final decision I’m willing to listen carefully to Democratic colleagues who want this amendment, but at first blush I can’t get excited about it."


Peter Sage, repeating the question, seeking clarification:   
"Does 'can’t get excited' mean you would vote yes or no?   If I run this, in its entirety of course, I will need to put a headline on it.  You tell me what the fair headline is, please? In the Senate they don’t offer choices, of 

Good Golly yes!. 
Can’t get excited, but ok yes.  
Jesus, I’ll pass, call in sick.
Can’t get excited, so no.  
Just cannot do it, no.  
Jesus, it’s a disaster, no!

Julian Bell and Alan DeBoer [and shortly after, Kevin Stine] gave me a direct answer.   Should I lump you with [those]?  You tell me, please."


Jeff Goldenmore clarification and elaboration:     
"You’re right that you don’t get those options on the Senate floor when it’s time to vote, Peter. But YOUR options as a headline-writer are much broader than that. In my view one of the things making us collectively dumber is journalism that goes for the binary (especially in headlines) rather than pushing us to think. “Leans against, based on current information,” for example, is a headline—if this post really needs a headline—that’s available to you.
  
If I were in office preparing to vote, I’d have something I don’t have now: attendance at several Democratic Senate caucus meetings where I had listened to the arguments that led, according to your reporting, to unanimous support for the measure. That would be excellent information to have, the kind of info I WILL have in the future if I’m elected.  But right now, on this issue, I don’t... none of us candidates do.  So…based on the incomplete input I have right now, I would probably vote no, for reasons I described. But I realize that might be different if I’d fully participated in the caucus conversation. Part of good sevice as a Senator is effective and thoughtful collaboration.
    
Is that over-nuanced or squishy? I don’t think so.  It’s meant as a thoughtful alternative to knee-jerkcorrectness .  But that’s up to voters to decide.
      
Please include this exchange between us as well.  Full transparency.   Thanks. Jeff

Jeff Goldennext day.  More clarification and elaboration:
"Peter, this is completely fair.  Your decision to run all of our exchange unedited has higher integrity than today’s journalistic norm. The expression “never argue with someone who buys ink by the barrel" [maybe best modernized as “someone who uses electrons by the trillions"] comes from experience with journalists who skew things to make themselves look better. Easy to do. Not doing that speaks well of this blog.

 If I can have a little more space—obviously your call—there’s something I want to add:
"One more point, more political than substantive, belongs in the decision mix.  This proposed amendment would go to Oregon voters for approval. If it follows the pattern of past progressive measures, it will start out polling strong approval. Then a wave of corporate money for deceitful advertising would flood the state (in this case, probably “Harry and Louise”-style propaganda largly funded by Big Insurance and Big Pharma), enough to deliver a NO majority on Election Day.  At that point, what do opponents of change get to claim about how Oregonians feel about “socialized medicine?” In cold political terms, there may be more to lose than gain in this electoral venture."