Category: columnists

By letting them speak they expose themselves

It happens that the best way to combat those purveying ignorance and bigotry and trading in fear and alternative facts is to let them speak rather than trying to shut them up. It exposes them to the light of examination and ultimately holds them accountable for what they say and do. In troubled times we struggle with how much to tolerate from the other side, especially the extreme edges. We’ve seen recent attempts to force cancellation of speeches and rallies, or to not air programs like Megyn Kelly’s interview with right-wing conspiracy theorist and serial ranter Alex Jones. Protests, concerns over public safety, boycotts and withdrawal of financial support are legal and legitimate ways to counter speech and speakers with which one doesn’t agree.  But in the big picture, I say let them speak. They will become their own worst enemy. Their prejudice, lies and hypocrisies will be their own undoing if forced to face the vigilance of a more rational, reasoned world. When I started the University of Oregon in 1965 as a small-towner from Molalla, one of the first things I noticed was the Free Speech Platform on the student union terrace, there for anyone to use, at any time, to say what they wished to anyone, or no one. It had been gifted by the Class of ’62, after student government experienced first hand effects of...

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Trump’s Paris Withdrawal Leaves U.S. Alone and Behind

It happens that by withdrawing from the Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, instead of putting “America First” President Trump left American alone and behind. The U.S., as represented by Trump, is now an international pariah bent on denying science and going full throttle back to the glory days of the coal industry. The Paris Agreement, signed in 2015, was a voluntary non-binding agreement in which each country set its own CO2 emissions targets to keep the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above what it was before the age of industrial production. The U.S. pledged to reduce emission between 26 to28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. In withdrawing, Trump misrepresented the agreement to tailor it to his nationalism and job promises to the coal states. The fact checkers had a field day. Allegedly our sovereignty was at stake and it could expose the U.S. to “massive legal liability.” But it’s voluntary and non-binding. No foreign country has a say about what we do. We set our own targets. Accompanying text states clearly it doesn’t provide any basis for liability or compensation claims. The cited 6.5 million jobs lost by 2040 was based on a questionable study designed to produce extreme results by using hypothetical regulation models without considering lower cost options, increased jobs from clean energy sources, or benefits of reduced CO2 emissions. Trump said...

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Tired of Trump, Pence in 2018 May Be Necessity for GOP

It happens that those predictions I halfheartedly made to friends about how I wouldn’t be surprised to soon see Republicans wearing “Pence in 2018” buttons might not be too far off-base. After the election it wasn’t hard to imagine Republicans in Congress starting to see Vice-President Mike Pence as a more viable, credible and stable alternative to a scandal plagued, unpredictable, undisciplined, and ethically- challenged president and the self-inflicted chaos of his leadership. Their agenda and hold on power is more important to them than whether Trump or Pence is president. And Trump has managed, in less than six months, to put the real possibility of impeachment on the table. Ever since Nixon’s resignation Republicans have been looking for something to rise to the level of another Watergate they could pin on a Democratic president. Bill Clinton gave them ammunition but they missed. Now they may have found another Watergate. Only it’s with one of their own. They promised to spend the first years of a Hillary Clinton presidency investigating the same Bengazi and e-mail server issues they’d already investigated. Instead they are called upon to begin the Trump presidency by investigating campaign ties to Russia and obstruction of justice. By the time campaigning for the 2018 mid-term elections comes around, and that’s not too far off, Congressional Republicans might seriously tire of Trump. Fearing his negative impact on...

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How many pot shops is too many?

Few people nowadays would have difficulty finding a local pot shop. If you drive along Highway 101, you will see store after store. It may even seem like there’s one on every street corner. In Salem, South Commercial is being called The Green Mile. Another Green Mile exists along River Road in Keizer. This abundance of shops begs the question: how many is too many? Initially the OLCC estimated issuing about 850 licenses. As of May 19th, OLCC has issued 1186 licenses, with 446 retail store licenses issued. Applications currently total 2560. With an unlimited number of licenses on the market, competition has become very stiff. Marion and Polk County support 9 liquor stores. When Salem City lifted their 1000 foot rule for cannabis stores, the number went from 16 in the Fall of 2016 to 33 and counting today. These numbers would seem unsustainable. Salem, for instance, has a certain number of potential customers for cannabis stores. As more and more stores open, the potential market share for each store diminishes. An over saturated market can become a concern for state and local governments wishing to collect taxes, as well as business entrepreneurs trying to follow a business plan.  As more stores open, that pool of tax money is split amongst more businesses. The potential risk to government lies in the fact that smaller or mismanaged stores that...

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House GOP Obamacare Replacement Hard to Explain, But…

It happens there are good reasons so many GOP House members avoided the press, and constituents, after narrowly passing their Obamacare replacement last week. It’s hard to reconcile with the promises. It’s not hard to imagine though what a conversation might be like should an informed constituent catch up to one of them: “Congressman, I have a pre-existing condition. The bill you passed is scary.” “Don’t worry. We made sure you’ll be taken care of.” “Well, I’ve done some research. If I have a lapse in coverage your bill allows insurers to charge me a 30% surcharge. If my state seeks a waiver, I could end up in an individual coverage high-risk pool with bigger premiums, and more limited coverage.  Plus now as I get older I can be charged five times more than a younger person.” “But we added money for the high-risk pools.” “Not enough from what I find. Most subsidy money you provide won’t go to high-risk pools and the $8 billion over five years you did add to get the needed votes is far from adequate according to most analysts.” “But high-risk pools existed before.” “Yes, 35 states, including Oregon, had them. But they were expensive and limited enrollment covered only a fraction of those who needed it. The Kaiser Family Foundation says one-fourth of adults under 65 have health conditions that made them uninsurable...

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