Friday, August 31, 2018

Florida "Monkey this up" comment.

Democrats are taking the bait.  Stop.

GOP Candidate DeSantis: "The last thing we need to do is monkey this up by trying to enact a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state."

Making an issue out of the racial dog whistle is a loser for Democrats.

Ron DeSantis said "monkey this up" regarding a black opponent. Who knows why.

   1. It is entirely possible that it was utterly thoughtless and innocent figure of speech.

   2. It is entirely possible it was thoughtless but betrayed an unacknowledged underlying racial bias, one that surprises even DeSantis. It was a Freudian slip.

   3. It is entirely possible that it was a thoughtless off the cuff dog whistle comment, with DeSantis acting in the moment thinking he might do a bit of Trump-hinting, and "monkey this up" came to him as he walked to the lectern, uncalculated but intended as a bit of trolling.

   4. It is entirely possible he actually thought this out, planned a deniable dog whistle, and recognized that this would cause liberals and blacks heads to explode in outrage, and that this would racialize the campaign from the beginning, and cause white voters to close ranks.

We don't know--but let's contemplate number 4. Maybe DeSantis got lucky. Maybe DeSantis planned this carefully. Either way, this issue is a winner for DeSantis.  

The Democratic response to this was predictable. Astonishment. Complaint over the dog-whistle. Accusation. Demand that he apologize. 

Al Sharpton
It put what he said in the news, but it is not the issue Democrats intend.They think the issue is a GOP candidate doing a racial dog-whistle, shame on him.  But actually it is a different issue.  The issue is unfair and unjust Democratic political correctness. 
DeSantis calls himself a victim being unfairly and unjustly called a racist. DeSantis has his motives questioned and job put in danger because some people "take his words wrong" and think the worst of him.

It was an innocent remark, he said. It was a figure of speech. Democrats use the phrase, too.

The big message being presented is that white people have to be on tenterhooks at all times, be self-monitoring constantly, lest someone make a mountain out of a molehill or a totally harmless innocent comment. The political correctness police are the bad guys.

Democrats have not yet absorbed and integrated the idea that a great many white Americans consider themselves to be the primary victims of racial prejudice. White people hate being accused of racism. They resent a political environment where they feel picked on by people ready to jump on them and pull out the "racism" card. Republicans do not fully unite by affection for Trump, but they do unite under dislike for Democratic scolds and accusers.

Some Democrats will respond that we need to call out racism when we see it. Note it, call it what it is, condemn it

There is a problem with that.  It backfires.

American on the left
Do a thought experiment. Given that being overweight is a health hazard, a burden to others thanks to health care costs borne by insurance companies and taxpayers, consider the consequences of pointing out to people with a Body Mass Index above 25 that they are fat. "Porky." "A burden to society."  American obesity is a problem and it is true. The average American male has a BMI of 28.6, between "overweight" and "obese.")  

We know it would backfire.

But isn't it true? Yes, 28.6 is very overweight. Doesn't it cost insurance companies and Medicare lots of money? 

Overweight people don't want to be called "fatso," even--especially--if there is some truth in the charge.

Should Democrats call out racism and jump on dog whistles like the DeSantis comment? Sure, right along with calling overweight people fat.

"Political correctness" is a bigger issue than the "racism."

This issue is backfiring on Democrats, and the sooner they figure this out the more likely it will be that they stop losing the white vote.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Changing rural America with really, really cheap food

Ten day sale at Winco

Cantaloupes: 18 cents a pound. 

Rural America is in distress. Food this cheap has political consequences.

I grow melons. For years I grew them for sale. I put myself through college growing melons at a farm at the base of the Table Rocks, north of Central Point, Oregon. I earned a college tuition every summer in my youth. In 1980 I made a living as a melon farmer.

That was then.

Melons are in season now in southern Oregon. There is a five week season when local melons ripen and can be sold vine-ripe at local stores.  
Cantaloupes on sale at Winco supermarket.

Vine ripe melons are delicious. They taste much better than melons picked green and shipped. Today the local Winco store is selling cantaloupes for 18 cents a pound, cantaloupes shipped in from a 17,000 acre farm in California. 

What a deal for the consumer! 

Food this cheap has consequences, and it is a sign of ongoing pressures on the livelihoods of rural Americans, that swath on the political maps marked bright red, Trump country.

1. Local farmers cannot compete with this price, so will lose the income from this cash cropNo small farmer can survive in an 18 cents a pound market. Farmer sales at 35 to 50 cents a pound give a farmer margin to grow a profitable crop. Sales at 15 cents a pound are a dead loss. The smart thing to do with local melons is to leave them in the field or feed them to livestock.

When I was in high school and college from 1965 to 1971 I sold melons to local fruit stands and supermarkets for 15 to 20 cents a pound. Today the local Food 4 Less store is buying melons for resale at 15 cents a pound, the low end of the price I got 53 years ago. They sell to consumers for about half what they sold in 1965.

Pretty melon, but picked green for shipping.
2. Factory farm melons are displacing local vine-ripe melons. There will still be a few local melons available in niche situations of farmers markets, but in general local melons will be much less available. Supermarket prices will put pressure on prices everywhere, including those niche markets.

Factory farm melons look good and have a consistent bland but melon-like taste. They are sorted by size, so they are presented to look uniform, like any product manufactured in bulk. They are picked green, but current varieties are bred to have a taste consumers find satisfactory. Melon consumers no longer expect a rich, aromatic taste and smell.

The melons aren't very good but they are good-enough. 

The above photo of the melon with a stem remnant is proof-positive evidence of having been picked very green. (Ripe melons slip off the vine with a smooth, concave navel.)  A restaurant serving a fruit salad is interested in the color--orange--and whether the melon cuts into smooth edged chunks. Melons like the one above are suitable, and meet expectations. 

This is another iteration in the big picture of mechanization and automation of food production. Food--including raw produce--is becoming a standardized, manufactured product, available 52 weeks a year. It is very inexpensive, and it is good enough. 

Very strong competition.
3. This process accelerates the changing face of rural America, putting pressure on family farms to sell out to larger corporate style enterprises. Local farmers are small business people, owner-operators. They own the land and equipment. Factory farm operations are different. There are owners and they hire employees, a great many of whom are paid low wages, a proletariat class.

It is the efficient system for low cost uniform food.

Corporatization of food production happens one crop and one location at a time. Melons have been added to the big story, but it the process is irregular. Local growing conditions create niche opportunities, and there are resistance movements of consumers and stores that value local produce. But notwithstanding the alternative channels of sale, very cheap factory food overwhelms a market and advertised supermarket prices create a mental set point for consumers. Fresh produce does not store, so when crops are in season then there is a short window when high volumes need to be sold. Farmers need to sell where consumers go to buy.

Note: I am not complaining. I am describing. I already gave up trying to compete with factory melon farms. Last year I grew Golden Honeydew melons, and was offered 25 cents a pound for them. It was easier and cheaper to leave them unpicked in the field than to sell them at that price. I attempt differentiation by branding my melons as local and vine ripe. My melons are better than the factory ones they would displace, but consumers don't know the difference between mine and theirs. Mine sell, but at the factory price.

This is competition. This is the marketplace.They won. They are the efficient, low cost producer, selling melons at a price consumers jump at. 

San Joaquin Valley, west of Fresno
Local farmers will deal with the new reality because they have no choice. Voters in rural communities have reason to feel frustrated and worried that the economic ground is changing underneath their feet.

Urban voters who wonder why rural Americans were open to a politician like Donald Trump can find some answers at the supermarket. Consumers want cheap food, so the market is supplying it. 

Farm families are being squeezed out of a job, so they were looking for answers. Trump offered up a villain, immigrants, here legally and illegally. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Popular Psychology looks at Trump

There are lots of theories.

Trump is a narcissist. Trump has arrested development. Trump is a germaphobe. Trump has dementia and is unhinged. Trump is sociopathic. Trump is paranoid. Trump is a compulsive liar.

It goes on and on.

Psychology Today magazine runs articles by psychologists on what is wrong with Trump.

Baby Trump blimp.
Trump is a gifted political performer. That doesn't mean I think he is good. Trump is dangerous. But he has an extraordinary talent as a performer and provocateur. Democrats who cannot bear to say anything "good" about Trump are blind to why he has succeeded.

This blog has taken the point of view that Trump is a natural and instinctive political actor, with a gift for political connection with a significant block of voters frustrated with the economy and open to racial, nativist resentments. His skill is that of a stand-up comedian with a very popular act, or a preacher with an enthusiastic following. Trump is a star.

Trump created a hit show, Trump the candidate and now Trump the president. He has a messy personal life, but the people who like his show ignore that. This is nothing new: actors in rehab, celebrities with multiple marriages, tabloid stories, Charlie Sheen, Michael Jackson. It is the performance, not the person.

What makes Trump interesting? Some observers say it is something childlike. There is an odd element of immaturity in his bullying behavior and name-calling, which this blog has associated with junior high school boys jostling and fighting for status and respect.

Psychology Today
Frequent blog commenter Rick Millward has studied the syndrome of "arrested development" and concluded it is the best explanation for Trump's behavior. He cites the problems closing in on Trump, the campaign finance violations that implicate his son, the hush money payoffs by a personal attorney who has turned state's evidence, his longtime accountant who is talking to prosecutors, and Millward notes that Trump retains the capacity to "ignore his own contradictions, falsehoods, and empty promises while constantly telling lies about his popularity, his policies, and his past actions."

Millward cites the insights from psychologist Carl Pinkhardt and Gordon Allport, who describe the elements of grown-up perception. Trump-the-child lacks those.

  ***The ability to go beyond self-preoccupation.

  ***Accurate perception of reality without defensiveness, distortion, or denial.

  ***Self reflection and insight.

  ***Focus on solving problems rather than defending ones own interests and ego.

Adults who have parented young children recall the "look at me" period, a period when the child wants the observation and approval of the parent, which dovetails with the necessity of the parent closely watching of the child, since the child is likely at any moment to do something unfilteredspontaneous, thoughtless, amusing and dangerous.  

Florida rally attender
Pinkhardt noted that we actually observe two Trumps, a grown-up Trump and the "real" Trump. From time to time circumstances force Trump to adopt adult, mature behavior--the Trump we see using a teleprompter. That Trump presents respectful, coherent, mature thoughts. The artificiality of that is instantly apparent, and Trump breaks out of it, goes off script, and becomes real.

The real Trump is the spontaneous, unfiltered, spontaneous, thoughtless, amusing, and dangerous Trump. Click: Trump is a 4 year old.

Popular psychology interpretations of Trump have the effect of under-estimating Trump's gift and power. It is a way to dismiss him, since presumably Americans want a mature, grown up president rather than a child. 

Not necessarily.

Trump's unfiltered, spontaneous, amusing, and dangerous behavior is a big part of his celebrity and political appeal. Republican voters had every opportunity to support a disciplined, buttoned down serious candidate, but they chose the unconstrained one, the genuine one. Not the teleprompter one.
Florida rally Trump fan.

I watched the rallies. Voters cheered the spontaneous Trump, the one without notes, without self reflection. The one with childlike magical thinking who said it was easy to win, win, win, win, and win some more.

The cheered the one with the arrested development syndrome. Rick Millward is insightful to see it and name it.

A lot of voters like that Trump.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Trump's sneers at McCain.

Trump knew exactly what he was doing. Show contempt.

Rachel Maddow: "Be decent. Just be decent. That's all he had to do."

It's the least he could do. He wouldn't do even that.

White House photo, Monday.

Rachel Maddow was on TV saying that Donald Trump "screwed up" the response to McCain's death. She said he bungled it, looking reluctant to recognize McCain's service and sacrifice.

She misunderstands the politics of being Trump. 

Trump's behavior was intentional, first the snub then the persistence in the snub. Trump wants to treat McCain like a rival and opponent, a disloyal turncoat to the team. Trump is not magnanimous in contemplation of the death of a turncoat and opponent. 

Trump made a short tweet of condolences to the family of McCain, then promptly moved the flag on the White House back to full staff. His behavior drew widespread attention. Twice on Monday reporters shouted questions at Trump, wondering if he was going to say something nice about McCain. It would have been easy.

Trump looked at them and the camera and refused to say anything. So there.

What is going on?

Trump: give no quarter.
Trump is demonstrating how he fights and how he behaves when he wins. He is strong, tough, cruel. McCain was not an ally. He was disloyal to Trump, and therefore an enemy.

Trump is demonstrating he doesn't care about the supposed niceties and courtesies of supposed respect for opponents. Trump squashes opponents. That is what you do with your enemies.

Trump knew he was being criticized. The criticism helped Trump, because it highlighted his behavior and showed Trump was no fair-weather friend. In relenting and re-lowering the flag Trump showed he was accommodating third parties, not himself.

Why does this help Trump?

Trump is demonstrating with the body language of action and manner that he can do what he wants and that he will run up the score on behalf of his base. He has power and exercises it and that he punishes the dis-loyal. This pleases the authoritarian-oriented people in his base.  

The populist, nativist, Christian GOP got the president they wanted, and Trump has a deal with them. He doesn't have to be good, so long as he is strong on appointing judges and carrying out their agenda, in the face of criticism and urges to "be decent." Trump is demonstrating that he is all-in. McCain wasn't one of them. He was bi-partisan. He gave a thumbs down to repeal of the ACA. 

Democrats and the liberal media might think that Trump has a losing strategy and that people want "decency" in a president. Apparently not. A great many Americans want a strong leader more than they want one who is respectful of laws and traditions. This makes Trump dangerous and powerful, both.

McCain talked about process and democracy. Trump talks about winning. 

46%, in spite of everything.
His very strong poll numbers within the Republican base are where they need to be to give him the power to fire people in the Justice Department, to pardon friends and allies, and to be invincible against impeachment. 

He may not quite have a majority in the country but he has a majority of the GOP, and he is demonstrating that they can trust him.

So GOP officeholders fear him. 

It is strategy and it is working for him, for now.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Field Report: America's National Parks

We are loving our national parks to death.

We don't want to spend any money on them, either.

Today's post is a field report by Rick Millward. He spent ten days touring and camping in the national parks of the American west. There are a lot of things going on:
Millward: Musician and National Park visitor
   *****There are fewer permanent employees in he park service now than there were fifteen years ago. 
   *****There are a lot of baby boomer retirees with leisure and the money to travel and see the sights.
   *****A lot of those boomers want to see those sights by pulling a small house behind them.
   *****Population is increasing; the number of parks is not.
   *****Trump wants wants federal lands opened for mineral use, not recreation, and he is cutting the budgets for National Parks.

Rick Millward is a singer, songwriter, and music producer who has moved to the Rogue Valley by way of Nashville.

Guest Post: Rick Millward:

We got up at 5 am with an hour’s drive from our overnight stay to the camp site we were hoping to get. We hit a traffic jam at the park entrance and I became apprehensive about a crush at the “first come first served” campground. Are all these people going for the "tents only" site we wanted? Should we have spent the night in the parking lot? My nervousness alternated with my awe at seeing the mountains towering above us lit by the sunrise.

At our campground/trailhead, Jenny Lake, which is the most popular spot for camping and sightseeing, the parking lot held about 50 cars. By 9 am every day the lot filled and spilled out onto the highway entrance, with cars and RVs coming and going all day. Work was being done on the facility, which I assume was to enlarge it.
We went to the park to hike, and once one got past the trailheads the crowds did lessen, because the trails are steep and rocky. Even so there was a steady stream of people, speed hikers charging up the hill, families with small children, couples chattering in a variety of languages, and guided groups of teenagers. A short distance up the trail, usually past the first overlook, it thinned out and by the time we got up to a lake three miles in we were virtually alone. Along the way we passed side trails that were closed so they could recover, blocked with large rocks and tree branches and posted with “loved to death” signs.

My personal peeve: the bathroom for our campsite was gross. It's managed by a private company and to their credit it was evident that staff was doing its best to keep it reasonably clear, but it was in disrepair with broken doors and a bare concrete floor. The fee was $30/night so the 50 sites at this campground generate about $50,000 a month. I wondered what impression international visitors were getting.  

At the heart of all this is a consideration of infrastructure politics.The current administration is cutting the budget when most agree that the funding is insufficient to maintain and upgrade the system as it exists. Moreover, allowing even more people into these fragile ecosystems increases the cost to keep them healthy. Personally, I would like to see “tent only” camping and a reduction of traffic by using shuttles for day visitors. RVs are another problem. How anyone can call it “camping” when they are pulling a house behind them is a mystery to me, but they now compromise the majority of those in the campgrounds and are a constant presence on the roads.
Photo by Millward

Publicly held natural resources are vulnerable to mismanagement and exploitation for personal and political gain. By all accounts this is what we are facing now. Officials from the cabinet on down and some legislators are of the mindset that “too much” is being withheld from development. At best they may hold the mistaken belief that making these lands available to drillers, loggers and miners will add needed revenue to the treasury. At worst we may be the victims of backroom dealing and corruption; it is difficult to know the facts, but the risk of permanent damage from overuse and uncontrolled development is a real and present danger.

One of Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s first acts after confirmation was to overturn a moratorium on new leases for coal mines on public land. He subsequently recommended slashing the size of several national monuments, including Bears Ears, in Utah, and Gold Butte, in Nevada, and lifting restrictions at others to allow more development. (In December Trump acted on these recommendations.

Instruction for foreign visitors
Zinke has also proposed gutting a plan, years in the making, to save the endangered sage grouse; instead of protecting ten million acres in the West that had been set aside for the bird’s preservation, he’d like to see them given over to mining. And he’s moved to scrap Obama-era regulations for fracking on federal property.

The president’s budget proposes a  16% to the Department of the Interior, which houses the National Park Service, and a cut of 7% to the park service itself. 

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Republican Message: Democrats just want to impeach Trump

Tempting message.

Republican Greg Walden is trying to write the Democratic message for 2018: Impeach Trump, subpoena, drama, logjam, and kill the economy.

Democrats should take it as a warning. 

Democrats win when they talk about jobs, wages, housing affordability, and a fair shake for hard working people. They look like soreheads who want more drama when they say the purpose of their election is to stop Trump.  

We can learn from listening to Greg Walden, when he was talking on a local radio talk show on Friday. The show has an audience that skews heavily to Republican, male, white, and elderly.  He was talking to the GOP base. He was framing the Republican story on the election. Note that he wasn't defending Trump. He was describing Trump's opponents. 

There is a lesson there. Greg Walden is too savvy to be caught saying this election is about Trump. Trump is always one tweet away from doing something embarrassing. The core Republican message is built around condemnation of the liberal opposition to Trump

Trump's opponents--as Walden describes them--are the ones who want drama and chaos. Walden understands that Trump's drama is exhausting, and impeachment is more drama and disfunction. Walden wants to associate Democrats--not Trump--with the mess in Washington.

On Friday there was this exchange:  Click to hear it yourself, minute 15. 

Question from Host:  On cable news its been nothing but impeach, impeach, impeach, impeach, impeach, with what’s been happening with Cohen, the Cohen plea.

Walden's response: “There’s a group, led by Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Walters, all these liberals on the Democratic side in Congress that have never accepted the outcome of the election. I mean let’s face it, I’ve had protesters outside my office every week or thereabouts. They’ve never accepted it. I’ve accepted the outcome of the last few elections, every election.  I think they would like nothing better than to impeach Donald Trump, but they’re not going to say that during the campaign because they’ve read the polling and they know that’s not popular. So they are saying—look at what Pelosi’s saying—‘we can’t talk about that right now, we’re not going to look at that right now’—and so that’s where they’re headed, and they will do nothing but tie the hands of the administration through subpoenas, and they’ll just try to pin him down and not let us move the agenda of the country forward. And I think we’ve accomplished a lot in the last year and a half, you think of the economy today, they don’t want to talk about that because it’s the best economy we’ve seen in thirty years, they don’t want to talk about the tax reductions, they want to repeal them and make you pay higher taxes, they don’t want to talk about the regulatory relief we’ve granted that’s helped spur this economic growth, they don’t want to talk about any of that. . . . [If Democrats win] just look at whose going to head up every one of these committees and what their agenda is, what their philosophy is, and you tell me if that matches our values in the second District."

There is a lesson here. The message of "Resist Trump" motivates Democrats but it is the wrong message. Democratic officeholders can rest assured that people disgusted with Trump already get the message. The message of Trump-hating, though, is a trap. It is a distraction from the message the public wants to hear, that Democrats will govern better. The way to show they would govern worse would be to focus on Trump instead of the real issues that concern the American people.

Trump's brand is chaos and disruption. The Democratic brand needs to be sound, practical government with its eye on the ball. The best evidence for this is Greg Walden. He is telling his audience who Democrats are, trying to define them away from their strongest message. That is his game. 

Democrats should not let him do it.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Don't be confused by the Mail Tribune headline.

Mail Tribune begins report on judicial campaign with an error in the headline. 

Let me untangle this.

As this blog reported four days ago, Kate Brown appointed Laura Cromwell to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Pat Crain.

From Facebook
The Mail Tribune ran a story yesterday, saying in their headline that the vacancy was created due to the retirement of Judge Ron Grensky. That is an error. 

Let me clarify because this is an important vote, but one where voters have little information, and sometimes, as in this case, what they read is in error. Voters are routinely confused by judicial races and many wonder why we vote at all. Media errors just compound the problem.

Ron Grensky vacancy:  Ron Gresky is leaving office with the end of his term. He announced this well in advance. There was an election in May to see if any of the candidates to fill that vacancy got a majority of the vote. None did, which forces a November runoff between David Orr and Joseph Davis.

From Facebook
David Orr, an Assistant District Attorney, making his third bid for a judgeship, does criminal prosecutions with the Jackson County District Attorney office, and prior to this did the same work in Linn County. Joe Davis, an attorney in civil practice in Medford, is running for the first time. Joe Davis has experience doing criminal and civil litigation, and serves as a pro tem judge doing small claims for the Jackson County Circuit Court. Joe Davis handily won the "bar preference poll," a straw vote among the local members of the bar, people who presumably know the candidates well and are in a good position to evaluate the best qualities for judge. However, winning the "bar poll" is no guarantee the the public will share that evaluation, and in the May primary David Orr handily won a plurality of the popular vote.

So there will be a November election runoff between Orr and Davis--to fill the seat by Ron Grensky.

Meanwhile, Judge Pat Crain is retiring and leaves a vacancy. There is just enough time between her retirement and the November election to schedule a November vote to fill that vacancy. This would leave a vacancy for 4 months. 
From Facebook

Governor Kate Brown considered several attorneys, including people who planned to run in the November election. She selected Laura Cromwell to fill that vacancy. Charles Kochlacs is also a candidate for judge and was also considered by the Governor.

Cromwell will be seated shortly. More typically a judge retires at a time that allows a successor to have more time for an appointed judge to settle into the position. Incumbency is an electoral advantage. It gives time for an appointed judge to demonstrate he or she can do the job well and to secure the endorsement of the local legal community. In this case Cromwell's short tenure implies only a modest boost. 

The practice of judges leaving office so that a successor has the tailwind of a gubernatorial selection and incumbency is controversial--at least among aspirants who were not selected. Orr is such a person, and he has criticized the practice in his prior two campaigns.

The Pat Crain retirement will create an election between Laura Cromwell and Charles Kochlacs.

From Facebook
These elections are non partisan. In recent years some judicial candidates have run partisan "whisper campaigns" communicating their partisan preferences, even going so far as to put up campaign signs up in partisan headquarters. This violates judicial ethics rules.

I urge readers who notice campaign material in partisan contexts or doing whisper campaigns to document it with a photograph and send it to me.

UPDATE: Independent candidate for Congress in Oregon's 2nd District

Mark Roberts is on the ballot for Congress.

The League of Women Voters thinks he's a candidate.

He has some strong opinions.  It makes him interesting, but it doesn't make him a candidate. 

Mark Roberts
Voters in southern and eastern Oregon will see three names on the ballot for Congress in November. Greg Walden, Republican. Jamie McLeod-Skinner, Democrat. Mark Roberts, Independent.

Voters will have heard of two of the three of them. Who is this Mark Roberts fellow?

Roberts calls himself a Medford-area trucking executive, a conservative, an expert wind surfer, and someone "focused on replacing dated and ineffective leadership with fresh ideas an a  pragmatic common sense approach. Pledged to voters throughout the state to write definitive Oregon Federal legislation that proliferates quality and prevailing wage jobs."  That is from his campaign Facebook page.

He has a website with complex descriptions of his positions on energy and forest issues and more. He says solar and wind power are expensive, taxpayer ripoffs, and unsuitable as base power because they are unpredictable and expensive. He says nuclear power is the future, and that we can retrofit coal generation plants with new generation nuclear plants.

The League of Women Voters have invited him to participate in the Candidate Debate. They set criteria of campaign viability and Roberts met their standard for a viable campaign. This is the sole third-party evidence his campaign is real beyond the fact that he got onto the ballot by running unopposed on the Independent Party ticket. Roberts says he is eager to debate. "We can nail down why his forest work has produced zero in 20 years. Ask specifics like the Blue Mountains Resiliency Project. . . . and why he doesn't like to show up in person anywhere."

There is no word yet over whether Walden will appear. 

A page on Mark Roberts Website

Is Roberts a real candidate?  

I think not.

He isn't a candidate because he is not using his various political positions and ideas to build a political movement. 

It could have been different. Early in the campaign there was some potential that Roberts would get out there, make some points, and effect the campaign.  

Roberts has opinions, many of which would have found an audience. The traditional view is that solar and wind power are great. He shows evidence of their limitations and expense. He offers up details on nuclear power's potential as a non-carbon source of base power. There is an audience for anti-carbon voters concerned with climate change to give him a close look. I see no evidence that he has reached out to them--or to anyone.

Roberts demonstrates an important point about politics. It isn't primarily about ideas. It is about eliciting engagement with those ideas by people who will spread that message and identify leaders. Robert didn't do that part of it.

He is a prolific tweeter. He is direct and pugnacious in style, and his tweets get an audience of 2,000 followers. Example: two days ago he tweeted "Oregon listen up and listen good. When a candidate offers you a solar panel or wind farm walk away, it's proof they haven't done their homework. It's just not that simple to replace caseload energy."

On August 23 he poked at Jamie McLeod-Skinner, saying he wrote a guest view opinion "putting the ignorance of our Dem contender @JamieforOregon on full display for the Mail Tribune but they didn't accept it." He linked to what he wrote on Facebook where there is a long comment about Oregon fuel taxes and truck mile use taxes. Click Here.

If he has a campaign there is no money trail, and contributions and expenditures are required by federal law to be reported. So I assume there is no money received or spent.

In-District media is ignoring Roberts. He undermined his credibility with a diversion into tweeting that Melania Trump was a prostitute, then making comments many read as anti-Semitic about people who criticized him. That got national and international news coverage, but not much notice here in the District, even though the focus of national media was on a local candidate for office. Strange, but perhaps explainable by an editorial conclusion that Roberts was simply not remotely serious as a candidate, and therefore a story about the misadventures of a tweeter troll isn't newsworthy. In-District media considers covering candidates, not tweet provocateurs.

His presence on the general election ballot shows an opportunity for future political activists. Simply filing for the position as an Independent may put someone onto the general election ballot. A candidate with strong views on one or two single issues might file, have a clear path to the nomination, and then run a real campaign that has an impact. I can imagine a candidate with an anti-abortion or "Stop Climate Change" or a strong message for or against guns getting votes. Such a candidate might put real pressure on either of the two major party candidates to match those views on the issue, or else lose portions of their base. The power of the Independent Party is leverage. They may not be able to win an election, but they could determine who loses an election, and thereby who wins it.

That is power. Roberts did not do that. Lacking a pre-existing base, he needed to get out there and market himself and his ideas. He stayed invisible,. It is too late for him to shake a million hands--the tactic suggested by his website name--but it isn't too late for him to spend serious money to broadcast a serious message. This is the season when people begin paying closer attention.

As it stands now, I expect him to get a few votes from "a pox on both Parties" voters, but to have no effect on the outcome of the race between Walden and McLeod-Skinner.