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Archive for Oregon and Local

Campaign Finance Reform, or, Why We Need Guns

If you want to know why I’d vote for Hillary Clinton before John McCain, check out the excerpts from ex-FEC Chair Bradley Smith’s speech at Capital University on how John McCain’s War on Political Speech tramples the First Amendment. Read the whole thing, don’t just rely on my clips. The Arizona senator had several reasons to pass this law.

  • Sen. McCain objects to groups that “often run ads that the candidates themselves disapprove of.”
  • Sen. McCain went on: “Further, these ads are almost always negative attack ads, and do little to further beneficial debate and healthy political dialogue.”
  • “These ads are direct, blatant attacks on the candidates. We don’t think that’s right.”

And you wonder why it’s been referred to as the Incumbent Protection Act? But does it fight political corruption, or the appearance thereof? Such as:

  • BellSouth hiring the offspring of Sens. John Breaux (D-La.) and Trent Lott (R-Miss.)—both members of the influential Senate Commerce Committee—as lobbyists.
  • the wife Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) working as an aviation lobbyist while her husband was majority leader.
  • Family members of high-ranking legislators paid to sit on corporate boards and to make highly lucrative speeches. The wife of Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), for example, earned $328,000 in speaking fees in 2001, just after her husband shot to national prominence as Al Gore’s running mate.

How about Senator Straight Talk himself?

The Brennan Center invited Sen. McCain to speak and then approaches a large number of corporations, perhaps saying something like, “Sen. McCain—the ranking minority member of the Commerce Committee, before which your company has a great deal of business, and a possible future presidential candidate—is coming to speak. Would you care to sponsor a table?” And Enron and Coca-Cola and Philip Morris just suddenly decide that they are very interested in campaign reform and kick in some good old soft money, which the Brennan Center uses to lobby and provide free legal services for an issue of “transcendent importance” to none other than Sen. McCain. Appearance of corruption, anyone?

Wouldn’t suggesting that corporations support the Brennan Center to provide legislative support to Sen. McCain on the issue that made his national reputation carry the same potential for blackmail and favoritism as corporate donations to political campaigns?

And to summarize a description titled McCain’s Soft-Money Machine:

… a handful of top advisers to Senator John McCain run a quiet campaign. They promote his crusade against special interest money in politics. They send out news releases promoting his initiatives. And they raise money—hundreds of thousands of dollars, tapping some McCain backers for more than $50,000 each.

These advisers work for a group called the Reform Institute, founded in 2001 after Sen. McCain’s failed presidential bid. The chairman of the board of the Reform Institute is…John McCain. If you go to look at the press releases at reforminstitute.org, you will see that virtually every release mentions Sen. McCain in the first sentence. Not paragraph, sentence. … the president is Richard Davis … John McCain’s 2000 campaign manager. The counsel to the Reform Institute is Trevor Potter … legal counsel to McCain 2000! The finance director of the Reform Institute is a woman named Carla Eudy. She was finance director for McCain 2000. The communications director is Crystal Benton; she was McCain’s press secretary.

Recently the Reform Institute, which bills itself as “a thoughtful, moderate voice for reform in the campaign finance and election administration debates,” launched what it calls the Natural Resources Stewardship Project. … of course, John McCain is planning to run for president again, and his signature issue, other than campaign finance regulation, is global warming. To run the Natural Resources Stewardship Project, the institute hired John Raidt, who, you guessed it, served 15 years working on “environmental initiatives” for Sen. McCain.

And how is the Reform Institute funded? With contributions, in six figures or more, from individuals and corporations, including the cable company Cablevision. Cable companies are constantly before the Senate Commerce Committee, which Sen. McCain chaired at the time of Cablevision’s contribution. In fact, Cablevision gave $200,000 to the Reform Institute around the same time its officials were testifying before the Senate Commerce Committee. Appearance of corruption, anyone?

Straight talk, indeed. McCain also argued quite publicly that the internet, including blogs, should be regulated as well.

Because the McCain-Feingold bill did not mention Internet regulation in its list of terms, we at the FEC passed a rule exempting online speech. So Reps. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) and Marty Meehan (D-Mass.), the main House sponsors of McCain-Feingold, filed suit, joined by Sens. McCain and Feingold in an amicus brief. They argued that the Internet exemption was improper and got a federal district court judge to agree.

So, today, theoreticly to reduce the appearance of corruption in politics, we have a situation where:

Right now in First Amendment jurisprudence there is more protection for simulated child pornography, flag burning, tobacco advertising, or burning a cross in an African-American residential neighborhood than there is for running an advertisement that merely mentions a congressman’s name within 60 days of an election.

Not my conclusion. That’s the previous FEC chairman talking. The scary part is that so many people want to do the same thing here in Oregon.

But perhaps most important, campaign finance regulation is based on the notion that government must be empowered to act on and order the lives of citizens without influence or pushback from those very same citizens.

People keep saying we don’t need the Second Amendment as long as we have the First. Hey people, do you think we need the Second yet? I do.

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Federal rights via Assisted Suicide

Here’s a biggie. Gonzales v. Oregon (formerly Oregon v. Ashcroft)
To sum things up;

“Congress enacted the Controlled Substance Act (”CSA”) in 1970 as part of a comprehensive federal scheme to regulate and control certain drugs and other substances. A 1984 Amendment to the Act authorized the Attorney General to prohibit medical practitioners’ use of a controlled substance if that use was “inconsistent with the public interest.” In 2001, Attorney General Ashcroft determined that Oregon physicians’ use of a federally registered controlled substance to facilitate physician-assisted suicide was not a legitimate medical purpose, despite an Oregon statute which authorized such use.
In Oregon’s suit, brought to enjoin Ashcroft from giving any legal effect to his directive, the District Court ruled for Oregon and issued a permanent injunction, and the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed. Oregon argues that since states traditionally regulate medical practices, Gonzales (the new Attorney General, replacing Ashcroft) must show that Congress expressly intended to authorize the Attorney General to make such a determination. Gonzales argues that the Attorney General’s reasonable interpretation of a federal regulation is entitled to deference, even without a clear statement of legislative intent, and that Ashcroft’s interpretation of the CSA is reasonable.
In the alternative, Gonzales argues that Ashcroft’s interpretation is consistent with Congress’s intent in passing the CSA and the 1984 Amendment. This case will decide the fate the Oregon statute by either expanding or limiting the federal government’s authority over traditionally state-regulated medical practices. This case also has far-reaching moral and ethical implications that go beyond the scope of states’ rights.”

The whole issue of Assisted Suicide is a personal right. The Constitution upholds personal rights throughout, and especially in the ninth amendment. But this particular issue relates to states rights vs federal rights. As I see this issue, the federal government does not have the right, under the constitution [tenth amendment], to regulate how the states manage medical practice.

With that said above, here I diverge into my own internalization of the ensuing debate.

The contrary argument could be waged based on the power-grab congress has been performing, under section 8 of the constitution (citing “Regulation of inter-state trade”). Some would say that any practice that has an effect on the trade between states, allows congress to regulate that practice. Given that interpretation of the constitution, congress indeed would be allowed to to regulate the medical practice by way of drug sales across state lines.
(Example: Wickard v. Filburn. Where a farmer was found out of compliance of the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 (an act to regulate the amount of wheat sold across state boundries) for growing more wheat than allowed. The expressed reason for the wheat was for feeding this person’s farm animals, and none for use outside of his own property.)

But I invite you to look at the wording of Article 1, section 8 again.

To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes;

(my emphasis)

This section has been interpreted to mean that congress can regulate the industries that produce goods that travel between the states (i.e. Interstate Trade). And then interpreted again to mean that congress can regulate those goods that impact the industries that produce the goods that travel between the states (such as what happened in the above Wickard v. Filburn.)

I say that Article 1 does not allow congress to regulate the industries or the goods that cross the borders. Only that they can regulate how the individual states handle the trade between themselves. To relate again to the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938, Congress was right (In theory, at least. I have not studied the Act, so I can’t vouch for the practice.) to attempt to regulate the amount of wheat travelling between state borders for the purpose of preventing shortages. But Congress did not have the power (under article 1 of the constitution) to regulate what happened within the state’s borders. Let alone what happened within the farmer’s property borders.

This over-reaching interpretation of the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 by the supreme court has helped pave the way for the kinds of attitudes of congress that allow them to think they can regulate the way doctors treat their own patients.

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Ex-Californian

At least half the people in Oregon can write an essay on why they left California. The recent special election results are a good way to detail the reasons a good number leave. Understanding that reasonable people will disagree, here’s my take by the numbers.

73 - Confirming the right of a child to kill an unborn baby without even talking with her parents.

This is the only non-emergency medical procedure you can perform on a minor without parental permission. This is not about protecting a woman’s right to choose. A 15 year old girl is not a woman. This is destroying the parents’ ability to exercise their proper authority, for no real social benefit.

74 - Providing that two years seniority deserves a guaranteed lifetime job as a teacher.

Tenure is not even reasonably necessary for elementary and high school teachers. They are not expected to publish, to research, or even to deal with controversy. They are expected to teach basic skills and scholarship using state and federally mandated methods and materials. Delaying tenure until after five successful years is no hardship, but is unacceptable to the people of this great state.

75 - Validating the right of the union bosses to spend the workers’ money as they see fit.

If a worker takes the current ‘opt-out’ to prevent their dues from being used for political purposes they disagree with, they also lose the right to vote in the union. The people of the state think thats just fine.

76 - Rejecting the concept of limiting the size of the state government.

The people endorse raising public debt, raising taxes and lowering the state’s credit rating even further.

77 - Endorsing the idea that elected officials should draw their own district boundaries.

No chance of reasonable challenges or new ideas, the people prefer long term career politicians that cater only to the extremists in both parties.

78,79,80 - At least they rejected artificial price caps on medicines, bounty-hunting lawsuits, and the utterly destructive energy regulation that got them in so much trouble earlier.

So you have a large state full of people who like having bad credit ratings, high debt, high taxes, entrenched special interests, unions that don’t represent workers, public employees who don’t have to perform, and kids that don’t have to talk to their parents.

The question isn’t why so many people have left. The real question is why so many productive people choose to stay.

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Public Employees, Unions, Schools

Found at gullyborg via Upper Left Coast.

There is a strike looming for the Oregon Trail School District.

To address his second point first, his conclusion is
laudable.

Making threats of violence is a crime. … Any striking teacher who harms, or threatens to harm, a substitute teacher should never be allowed near our children again.

I agree fully. But the last I heard, it was specifically not a crime for a union picketer to threaten and in some cases to use violence. If these laws are still on the books, they should be repealed or invalidated soonest. Returning to the first point,

Now I have always thought that teacher’s unions should be barred from striking, the way air traffic controllers and other unions are.

This makes sense to me, but in an inverted sort of way. It’s a rational reaction to an unsane situation. To hit the high points, because

… the Supreme Court has found a constitutional right to an education.

and because

when a public union strikes, there is often no alternative for the people .

and finally

This amounts to sheer blackmail, especially when the service withheld is essential to the public as a whole.

therefor

Congress made it illegal for certain unions, such as the air traffic controllers, to strike. But Congress didn’t take it far enough. As long as there is no viable alternative to government, it should be illegal for ANY government employee to strike.

I find this to be a rational conclusion, but also wrong. Taking a government job should not be contingent on giving up your civil rights. Organizing to negotiate collectively is the best way to balance the power of the employer. People should not have to give that up when the employer happens to also be the sole employer available in that line of work as well as possessing a monopoly on the use of force. If that sacrifice IS necessary, it should be applied to the smallest number of people possible. Maybe there’s a better answer.

The key phrase in the problem seems to be “As long as there is no viable alternative”. Perhaps the root of the problem lies in having the government actually provide the services. If schools were run by a series of private companies, a strike against one would be of little effect on students. Perhaps the real answer to dealing with public employee strikes is to simply reduce the number of public employees to the bare minimum required to provide services that cannot be provided any other way?

The best way to deal this problem is to reduce the number of public employees to the bare minimum. Privatize and outsource the rest of the work. Eliminate the unnecessary government monopolies. Then this problem (and others) simply disappear.

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