The MHLW 2012 Oregon Voters’ Guide

by Steve, October 22nd, 2012

election08Having trouble getting excited about the 2012 election in reliably blue Oregon? Worried that your presidential vote doesn’t count because of our archaic 18th century electoral college designed (in part) to give more power to slave states? Fear not! Here at Chez Wacky, we got our ballots in the mail over the weekend and dutifully filled in the dots for the establishment characters best suited to pretend to represent us! Nancy made her statement by voting on a copy of the International Socialist Review. I think I used a copy of Nat Geo Kids or the Smithsonian or something patriotic like that.

President

Who knew Rocky Anderson was running? Not me! The prog former two-term mayor of Salt Lake City (yes, that Salt Lake City) was on our ballot for the Progressive Party (who?), as was Jill Stein for the Greens. I’ve been registered Green for ages, and I’m sure Stein is cool and all, and I know Oregon prez votes don’t count because there’s a 99.9% chance all the electoral votes are going to Obama and it really only matters how they vote in Ohio and Florida and Iowa and Wisconsin and Colorado and North Carolina and Obama is a killing machine with his drones and kill lists but fuggit, I voted for the incumbent.

Congress

Earl “The Pearl” Blumenauer is up for the rubber stamp in Portland’s third district, and Suzanne Bonamici is up in the first. Both seem like shoe-ins, but why take chances on more GOP votes in the House? Yeah, I voted Dem.

Secretary of State

Brown. I once had lunch with incumbent Kate Brown at the City Club when uncle Ted was giving a state of the state address. She was running her first campaign for SoS, and I wasn’t impressed with her grasp of the issues. She’s shown herself to be a true Blue Dem, making some questionable decisions to favor Dems. She also pissed off a pot activist, fining him $65K for signature gathering violations. The activist, Robert Wolfe, is now running against her (Progressive Party), to the delight of GOP challenger Knute Buehler. The Greens are running Seth Wooley. So the familiar Hobson’s choice is presented to Oregon progs: a vote for the prog candidate is a vote for the GOP challenger. My nose is already sore from holding it, so I voted for Brown.

State Treasurer

Ted Wheeler, of course. I’d write him in for Governor if that race were up this year.

Attorney General

Ellen Rosenblum.

State House/Senate

Ah, fuck it. Just vote Dem, and here’s why. Oregon Democrats have systematically refused to fix our completely broken state revenue system for decades now. As it stands, we have an evenly split House, which gives them an excuse to do nothing. Break that tie, and maybe — just maybe — they can be pressured to do something. (Yeah, right!) Worth a try anyway, and certainly better than the alternative.

Labor Commissioner

Avakian.

Supreme Court Position 3

Baldwin. (Labor endorsements)

Court of Appeals Position 6

Volpert. (Labor endorsements)

Measure 77 (Emergency powers for governor)

Yes.

Measure 78 (Constitutional house keeping)

Yes.

Measure 79 (Constitutional amendment prohibiting real estate transfer tax)

No. Real estate brokers really don’t want to pay a hypothetical transfer tax (none is currently in place or proposed), so they’re going over board to prevent one from ever being put in place. This kind of tax would actually make sense, so this ill-advised measure gets an emphatic NO vote from me.

Measure 80 (Legalize and regulate marijuana)

Yes. Prohibition is ineffective and outrageously costly in terms of money and lives. War on drugs was lost before it began. Legalize it and regulate it.

Measure 81 (Gillnet ban)

No. Original supporters of this measure have pulled their support in favor of a negotiated settlement with commercial fishermen.

Measures 82 & 83 (private casinos)

No. These are DOA anyway. Supporters have pulled campaign funding.

Measure 84 (kills estate tax on millionaires and allows tax-free transfers of wealth)

No. Bad idea to reduce a progressive tax and further choke state revenue stream.

Measure 85 (give corporate “kicker” to schools)

Yes. One small piece of revenue reform that is long overdue.

(By the way, here’s the official guide, if that’s what you were looking for.)

Rush to judgement

by Steve, March 7th, 2012


Men are afraid women will laugh at them. Women are afraid men will kill them. –Margaret Atwood

When you put it in that light (and as a man, I can assure you the first half is true), it’s not hard to imagine why the altogether reasonable Sandra Fluke making the altogether reasonable case for the inclusion of contraception in health care would send Rush Limbaugh into a three-day conniption fit.

Rush, after all, is a walking, stumpy, flacid little dick who needs Viagra to get it up (prescribed in somebody else’s name, because he’s ashamed of his emasculated state). He’s a hypocritical drug addict and a know-nothing blowhard, who is so freaked out by a confident, independent, well-educated woman speaking up in a public forum, he nearly wets himself trying to discredit her, ultimately resorting to puerile name-calling and bizarre, perverted innuendo.

But Limbaugh is the least of our concerns; just a distraction, really.

It was the Catholic Church, with all their medieval misogyny and repressed sexuality on display, that first emerged to challenge the president on his altogether reasonable requirement that private employers provide comprehensive health insurance policies to their employees. It was Obama who entertained this outrageous challenge from the other side of the bright constitutional line, and offered a compromise. It was the Catholic Church again which expressed its dissatisfaction with Obama’s compromise. (To his credit, Obama refused to give more.)

It was GOP congressman Darrel Issa who called on 10 men, five of them clergy representing retrograde religious institutions, to testify as experts about women’s health policy, and refused to let Sandra Fluke testify… on the grounds that she wasn’t qualified to speak about women’s health policy.

No, this isn’t about Rush Limbaugh. This is about systematic attacks on the most basic advancements of women’s rights over the past 50 years. This is about the rump of the old guard, who want women back in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant, under the control of their husbands.

The Catholic Church is at the vanguard of these attacks (small wonder), but it’s the GOP, in the throes of an existential identity crisis, that’s seizing the moment. It’s the endangered white male all over again, positively panicked at the reality of waning influence unfolding before them.

It will backfire on them, of course. The GOP base is a rapidly shrinking demographic, and no amount of pandering to it can reverse inexorable demographic trends.

It already has backfired on Rush. Varying accounts put the number of major advertisers who have pulled support of his show at as many as 36. His show may or may not survive. No big deal either way.

But for Republicans, who still need at least a few women to vote for them, alienating half the voting public is a very bad move. There’s a lot of schadenfreude to be gleaned as GOP presidential contenders fall all over themselves trying to out-caveman one another, but the unfortunate side effect is that we actually have to publicly re-litigate matters that we thought were settled in, say 1972.

Contraception is not radical to most Americans, even if it is to regressive religious organizations some of them affiliate with. Most citizens of the industrialized world have easy access to it, and it is not a source of the slightest controversy. As a matter of public policy, it leads to lower overall health care costs and a higher standard of living for all citizens when women are provided with the means to control their reproductive destiny.

This is not a matter for the Catholic Church — an organization which has repeatedly shielded child rapists; contributed to countless AIDS deaths with its prohibition on condoms; brought us not one, but four Inquisitions; and which still seems to yearn for a repeal of the Age of Enlightenment — to weigh in on. For them to play this as an attack on their religious liberty is cynical to say the least, as they aggressively try to assert their dominion over the constitutional rule of law.

We can only hope that all this bluster is a last gasp of dead-enders, and a clarion call for women to repudiate the toxic brew that passes for political discourse these days. We’ve come too far to revert to naked phallocracy.

We are all socialists

by Steve, September 10th, 2009

election08Fear mongering about socialism in America would be comical if it weren’t so damned frightening. What can the rest of the world think of us?

We spend twice as much per capita on health care, and still have tens of millions without access to basic, preventive care. Why do we pay so much and get so little? We’re the only industrialized nation on the planet without government-run universal health care.

The free market has failed miserably to provide this basic service of modern life anywhere nearly as efficiently and completely as the governments of every other industrialized democracy on Earth.

Those who bleat about “socialism” should pause and consider that insurance, after all, shares some very basic tenets with socialism, like shared responsibility for the greater common good. Moreover, the so-called free market would collapse without the socialized infrastructure that supports it. Take, for instance:

  • Our virtually 100% publicly-owned and maintained road system, from city streets to interstate highways
  • The air traffic control system
  • The self-funded, surprisingly efficient US Postal Service
  • Our public schools (lord knows I’ve had some criticisms of our local system, but it beats the alternative)
  • Public colleges and universities
  • A multitude of public water and sewerage systems
  • Many local public power systems and the federally-regulated national power grid
  • Federal unemployment insurance
  • Federal subsidy of an inadequately low minimum wage (the earned income tax credit)
  • And, of course, on-demand bailouts of the private financial system, whenever it gets itself into a pickle

Then of course there are all those horrible socialist “extras” like:

  • Libraries
  • Parks
  • Rec centers
  • Concert halls
  • Theatres
  • Art galleries
  • Mass transit

That’s right, folks, if you use any of those things (and you’d have to live off-grid in the wilderness to avoid them), you benefit from “socialism.” Has it taken away your freedom? Isn’t all government bad? Perhaps you should try living in Somalia for a while to experience the true libertarian paradise of no government. Don’t forget to pack your AK.

Two of the most popular government programs in the history of our nation are Social Security and Medicare. The only complaints are that they may become underfunded, and Medicare doesn’t cover enough. But nobody complains about inefficiency.

The single easiest thing we could do to solve our health care crisis (not just kick it down the road a few years) is to go to a single payer system like the rest of the industrialized world. Expand Medicare to cover all citizens, paid for with a payroll tax as it is today. Yes, your medicare tax would go up, but you would no longer have an insurance premium. Worst case, it would be a wash, but more likely, your out of pocket expenses would go down as we eliminate a significant amount of overhead currently going to duplication of administrative services, profit, and executive compensation.

The fact that this simple, efficient and cost-effective solution isn’t on the table is indicative of the power the insurance industry has over President Obama and Congress. The fact that so many Americans fear even a modest expansion of public health insurance is indicative of not only American provincialism, but also of the dearth of real news reporting that goes beyond repeating the industry message.

Why not single payer?

by Steve, March 29th, 2009

politicsI’ve been pretty hands-off on the new prez, at least publicly. But I keep asking myself a couple things. First, why they hell haven’t we nationalized the banking system yet? Second, why the hell isn’t Obama talking about single payer health care?

(Of course we knew ahead of time that Obama is something of a market fundamentalist, so we already know the answer to those questions.)

“Medicare for all” is the smartest thing we could do for the economy. It would eliminate the wasteful, burdensome, redundant and immoral private health insurance racket in one fell swoop, and eliminate the leading cause of personal bankruptcy in the US.

Even if Obama isn’t willing to consider it, circumstances may eventually force the issue. Meanwhile, a grassroots groundswell is building, with Laborer’s Local 483 among Portland unions to endorse passage of HR 676, the United States National Health Insurance Act.

I urge you to join with the laborer’s in calling your US Rep and encouraging them to support HR 676.

Obama and the Leafs

by Steve, March 2nd, 2009

From the Left Coast Sports Babe, with a tip of the hat to Greg Drinnan’s Kamloops, B.C. based Taking Notes:

Barack Obama took his first foreign trip to Canada this past week. He said in a speech there that he expected to fix the U.S. economy, bring the troops home from Iraq, and solve global warming. Realistically, however, he said there was nothing he could do about the Maple Leafs.

Atheists, welcome. Socialists? Not so much.

by Steve, January 20th, 2009

politicsI should be thrilled, as an atheist, to be on President Obama’s short list: “Christians and Muslims. Jews and Hindus — and non-believers.” Seriously. For all the God goin’ around today (some of it a tad — ahem — intolerant), I was surprised to get an atheist shout-out. (As for my Sikh, Buddhist, Wiccan, Pagan, Confucianist, Shintoist, Jainist, Bahá’í, and agnostic brothers and sisters, they may not feel so special being grouped in with us non-believers.)

Less surprising was President Obama’s ode to the market and its “power to generate wealth and expand freedom.”

Well, it’s sure provided the idle rich with a lot more wealth and freedom over the past 30 years, but any student of economics knows the market doesn’t create wealth. It merely distributes wealth, which is created from capital and raw materials by human labor. The market has proven itself very adept at the upward redistribution of wealth from those who create it to those who finance it.

Obama’s proposed trillion dollar (we all know it’ll get there) stimulus plan is a bastard child of New Deal-style public works investment and Reagan-era trickle down (better-termed “shovel up”) economics.

Them rich capitalist bastards don’t need any damned retro-active tax breaks. In fact, we need to levy a wealth tax on their accumulated capital, and use it to finance even more public investment. The kind that not only builds roads and schools, but also reinforces our tattered social safety net with universal cradle-to-grave health care.

Don’t get me wrong, folks. I’ve been doing the happy dance all day, ‘cuz George W. Bush went riding off into the sunset today, and the election of Barack Hussein Obama II is undoubtedly one of the most important milestones in our nation’s history. His suspension of the kangaroo court at Gitmo is a significant ray of hope, even as he continues the jingoistic talk of being “at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred.”

(The notion of a “war on violence” is more ironic than a “war on terror” is risible, and equally absurd, isn’t it?)

Let us pray

by Steve, January 20th, 2009

There are about 2% of Americans who are homosexual or gay and lesbian people. We should not let 2% of the population change the definition of marriage.

This is not even just a Christian issue. It’s a humanitarian and human issue.

Pastor Rick Warren, in support of California’s Prop. 8

Clinton waited until he was sworn in before pissing of the LGBT community members who helped elect him. Obama went ahead and did it before being sworn in.

Huh.

Aretha almost makes up for it. Almost.

How about a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T, Mr. President?