Category: columnists

Are they coming for you?

They’re coming for you. All who don’t buy into loyalty to Trump, his agenda, and his infallibility. Sound extreme and paranoid? It happens there’s a disturbing pattern that provides a clear window to the mentality of Trump and his followers’ urge to purge. The tactics to impugn and intimidate are varied. They will question your patriotism. They will threaten retribution. They may fire you. They may even invade your community with federal police.  The recent controversy over Trump’s call for NFL owners to fire players who kneel during the national anthem to protest racial injustice and inequality is just a visible tip of a threat that goes much deeper. (Instead of firing players, owners locked arms or knelt in unison with their players during the national anthem in the next round of NFL games.) Civil servants have become a clear enemy to be feared as much as immigrants and Muslims. Not long after Trump’s rallying cry to fire football players for exercising their First Amendment rights, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told an advisory board composed of oil and gas executives that 30% of Interior Department employees were “not loyal to the flag” as he promised to make “huge” changes so he could relax regulations. In a disturbing move to establish a favorable political apparatchik, Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN) reintroduced legislation to classify all new federal hires as “at will”...

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Trump Addiction to Threats Requires Serious Intervention

Are you getting nervous? I admit I am. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says I should sleep well at night but when President Trump starts talking about unleashing fire and fury like the world has never seen if North Korea even utters another threat, I get nervous. It didn’t help that he doubled down on his comments the next day and then a few days later even spouted off about possible military action in Venezuela. It doesn’t help he sounds more like North Korea’s supreme leader every day. It doesn’t help knowing that his favorability ratings are in the low 30s, because there’s nothing like a war against an evil enemy to get people to rally around you and get your numbers up. It doesn’t help that Trump can act before Congress can intervene. It happens that when Trump, not known for being a good listener, gets boisterous and bellicose in what could evolve into nuclear confrontation, I get nervous that he’s oblivious to consequences and in need of serious intervention. So I imagine a version of the proverbial 3 a.m. phone call: “Hello! Do you know what time it is? Is this an emergency?” “It is. Donald, this is God. I needed to reach you before you started tweeting again this morning.” “Oh my god, God. I thought I might hear from you. I had 100 evangelical Christian...

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A busy year in Oregon cannabis legislation

Well, the 2017 Legislative session ended early last month and the legislature passed several cannabis related bills. In 2018 the Joint Committee on Marijuana Regulation will not be reconvened, but state agencies will be continuing with the rule making a process for the new statutes. Among these new statutes is Senate Bill 1057, which regulates medical cannabis, and requires growers to use Metrc seed to sale tracking by July 2018. It also changed the immature plant limits for OMMP growers, limiting them to twice the allowable number of plants grown. In addition, it requires disclosure of financial interests for licensees, increases the number of OLCC commissioners from 5 to 7, allows for a 10% increase in existing grow canopies for medical use, and transfers labeling oversight from the Oregon Health Authority to the OLCC. It further protects OLCC licensees from potential federal Adult Use obstacles, by creating a fallback position to exclusively serve medical patients. Another new statute, SB 863, disallows cannabis retailers from retaining any information that could be used to identify customers. This was passed as a precautionary action to protect the privacy of Oregon consumers. SB 1015 now allows industrial hemp growers licensed by the Oregon Department of Agriculture to transfer hemp to OLCC processors, creating an avenue for hemp growers to market products within the state. It provides that industrial hemp, industrial hemp concentrates, and...

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Trump, GOP Throwing Monkey Wrench in Health Care Markets

You know there’s trouble when Republican Senators say they’ll only vote for repeal of Obamacare if they’re assured it won’t actually happen. Trump and Congressional Republican leaders are now left with only their rhetoric. Trump still clings to it. “Let it fail,” he says of Obamacare. “The best thing politically is to let it explode,” he says with detonator in hand. It may be called Obamacare, but Trump’s using his broad authority over implementation to turn it into Trumpcare, hoping nobody notices health care is in his hands now. It happens that the only way for Trump to fulfill his own prophecy is to gum up the works. He is monkeywrenching Obamacare. In an April column I pointed out ways Trump and the GOP could sabotage the Affordable Care Act. Chief among them was elimination of the cost-share subsidies to insurance companies for low-income subscribers, roughly 60 percent of ACA policies. House Republicans argued in court that while the ACA authorized such payments, the funds still required specific Congressional appropriation, something the GOP Congress has withheld.  A federal district judge sided with them but allowed the payments to continue while the issue was appealed. Consequently, insurance companies have had to approach the 2018 market with uncertainty over the payments, and if there’s one thing markets don’t like it is uncertainty. Of course Congress could have eliminated the uncertainty by...

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Do We Have a Fourth-Grader as President?

Kids might actually start believing their parents when they’re told you could grow up to be president. After all, it happens that they now have a president who actually acts and talks like a fourth-grader. As far as I know, the “fourth-grader” appellation first appeared in summer of 2015 in an analysis of the level of the vocabulary in Trump’s campaign speeches. Subsequent academic analysis of grammar and readability of political speeches varied the level between third and sixth-grade levels. Trump clearly doesn’t like detail. His speeches rarely go beyond generalities where whatever he’d do was going to be “great,” “tremendous,” “historic,” “best ever” or , like health care, “beautiful.” In politics, simplified speech is often necessary to get a point across in a short period of time. And it can be an advantage for those seeking to be seen as a plainspoken alternative to verbose elites. But Trump has taken it to a lower level. I don’t take characterizing a president as a fourth-grader lightly. This is a powerful person who is the face of the country. Nor should we view the ascribed level of speech as an indicator of his intelligence. It is the simplistic, childish mentality that comes with it that’s so troubling. It isn’t the grammar or limited vocabulary we need worry about. It’s not that he talks like a fourth-grader. It’s that he acts...

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