Sunday, August 15, 2010

Dick Wendt, a great American

Dick Wendt, founder of Jeld-Wen, died today.

I have been absent from my blog for several months while my wife runs for the state senate, but I am breaking my self-imposed exile because of this news.

Dick Wendt was, quite simply, a great man. He bought some sawmill assets out of receivership in the 1960's and built a company that became the world's largest manufacturer of windows and doors. He did it from Klamath Fall, Oregon.

I had the very good fortune to get to know Dick and his lovely wife Nancy. I could write a dozen long blog posts about his accomplishments in life - many of which had nothing to do with his business success - but I will leave most of that to the articles that you will see in the coming days.

But I will mention something about Dick that most people do not know: he was basically the architect of the welfare reform of the 1990's that moved millions of people off the welfare rolls all over the nation. This is not an overstatement.

I had the pleasure of listening to Dick and Nancy tell me and my wife the story of the how he started and grew his company one summer evening a few years back on the deck of his lake cabin in the Cascade Range. There was nothing pretentious about Dick. He lived in the same house in Klamath Falls that he bought in the 1960's. He drove a Jeep. His lake cabin was just that - a cabin. Rustic, maybe 1000 square feet.

When he became wealthy, he turned his talent and treasure to making the world a better place by reforming the institutions that have failed us, such as welfare and social security.

Dick Wendt was a great man. I am lucky to have known him, and I feel a great sense of honor that he considered my own efforts at reforming education to be worthy of his support.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Huffman for Senate. Kremer for Senate District 19

I've been ignoring my blog lately. Here's why:

I am consulting on the Jim Huffman for US Senate campaign, and my wife is running for State Senate against Sen. Richard Devlin.

This has been consuming all my time that I might otherwise devote to expressing my opinion here on my blog. If you have been checking in, thank you!

I'm sorry, but my updates are going to be less and less frequent for awhile.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Where is the adult in OUR room?

This is just fabulous. Please take the time to watch this 26 minute address by New Jersey's new governor to the New Jersey League of Municipalities.

When I listen to something like this - an all-too-rare display of straight talk, mastery of fact, and laid-bare reality, I just get angry. Angry that we NEVER see this in our political class in Oregon.

Why do we get buffoons governing us, and other states get guys like Christie?

Where is the adult in OUR room?

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Let's put Matt Wingard over the top!

State Rep. Matt Wingard is doing a "birthday money bomb" fundraiser for his 37th birthday - donate $37 to his reelection campaign.

He is close to his goal - please help me put him over the top. Click here to donate.

Here are a few good reasons to send $37 to Matt:

1) It will annoy the BlueOregon crowd
2) When he meets his goal he can send a press release reminding the Democrats how he beat them last cycle despite them spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on the most vicious personal smear campaign in recent memory, perhaps of all time.
3) 37 is a prime number. He won't have another prime number birthday for 4 years.
4) Matt is going to be Speaker of the Oregon House someday soon.
5) If you can find a smarter, more articulate, better state representative - send HIM or HER the $37!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Short takes

  • Jeff Mapes is reporting today that Bill Bradbury pulled out of a debate at Oswego Lake Country Club, and issued a press release saying that he wouldn't attend because as a good Democrat he can't justify another event at an exclusive private club when people are jobless and hurting. He is enjoying his taxpayer funded pension at what, $85K a year, and HE is going to go all class warfare on us?
  • Did you see the nice coverage of the Taxpayer Rally at the Capitol yesterday, where 1500 or so folks expressed their wish that the legislature stop killing our economy? Me either! Just last week there was a nice story complete with a large color picture about the 80 STUDENTS who rallied for more higher ed spending. The Oregonian is still obviously doing its best to alienate itself from as many people as possible. In unrelated news, I hear there are more layoffs coming next week at the O.
  • I must admit I am enjoying watching the global warming alarmists twist in the wind. Now Phil Jones, former head of the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University, the source of the "Climate-Gate" emails, is admitting basically that the whole thing is a scam! Not in so many words, of course, but read between the lines. He says that the globe hasn't warmed in 15 years, that he doesn't even have the temperature records that the "Hockey Stick graph that was central to the case of the alarmists claims were based on, and that the temperatures during the Midieval Warming Period probably WERE higher than today! And guess who has no story in todays newspaper about it? You guessed it!
  • But the fact that the whole case for AGW is falling apart before our eyes hasn't made the true believers any less shrill. BlueOregon blogger Carla Axtman and her perpetually-twisted knickers are hammering Rep. Matt Wingard for a short floor speech he made pointing out the disintegrating case for AGW. She is outraged (OUTRAGED, I TELL YOU!) because Wingard took many of the facts he related from a published article. And HE DIDN'T mention it! Talk about a scandal! So on the one hand we have a decades long conspiracy that distorts science so politicians and bureaucrats can ration energy, perpetrated at the highest levels of government, and THAT gets no mention by our intrepid blogger Carla. But a short floor speech that doesn't cite sources? TWO separate posts on BlueOregon with 113 comments (as of this writing) between them. Convene the Grand Jury!

Monday, February 01, 2010

More evidence abstinence education works

I don't know how many times I have heard from educators and liberals that abstinence education doesn't work. Today a new study was published in the AMA's February 2010 Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine gives very strong evidence to the contrary.

The study also showed that so-called "safe sex" training doesn't change sexual behavior one bit. The study is out of the University of Pennsylvania, and was the gold standard of such studies in its design, which used a full random assignment of the different methods studied.

There have been 15 prior scientific studies done looking at the effectiveness of abstinence curricula, and 11 of them have showed positive results.

Don't believe them when they tell you it doesn't work!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Bin Laden offered research fellowship at East Anglia U.

OK just kidding. But it IS pretty ironic that the world's most notorious terrorist has joined the AGW jihad.

He hasn't been able to bring the US economy to its knees through terror strikes. This is just a change in tactics.

So, what is the difference between Al Gore and Bin Laden? Size of their carbon footprint, I guess. Bin Laden lives in a cave, Gore in a 20,000 sf mansion.

Remember BlueOregon's attack on Matt Wingard?

Back in the '08 election, Carla Axtman at BlueOregon hyperventilated over an essay that now Rep. Matt Wingard wrote about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. She was outraged because Wingard wrote that it was actually a "blessing to many" that the hurricane wiped out most of the public schools. He wrote:
In the summer of 2005, Katrina destroyed most of the New Orleans Public School District infrastructure—a blessing to many, since the district was one of the worst performing in the country. According to published reports, 73 of its more than 120 schools were considered to be “failing,” according to the state’s educational accountability standards. On one 2004 measure (the GEE test of highschoolers) 96 percent of Orleans Parish students were below basic in English, and 94 percent were below basic in math.

In the wake of Katrina, the Louisiana State Legislature turned over most of the area to a Recovery School District headed by its own superintendent. That superintendent has begun chartering many of the Recovery District schools, which in turn has attracted some of the leading charter school operators in the country. Sixty percent of schools in New Orleans are now chartered.
Carla Axtman thought that was "disgusting," and called him an "ass."
OK, fine. But guess who agrees with Matt Wingard?

President Obama's U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan! The Washington Post reported today that in an interview to be aired this weekend, Duncan said that the hurricane was "the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans."

Duncan apparently went on to make precisely the same point that Matt Wingard made, about the fact that New Orleans had a rare opportunity to start over from scratch with their public schools, and they are building a new system based on charter schools, choice and competition.

Gee, maybe Rep. Matt Wingard is perhaps the TRUE progressive here. He cares about how well the school system serves its clients.

It sure seems as if BlueOregon and Carla Axtman care a lot more about unions than about the kids. Gee, how "progessive."

Killing our competitiveness

The evidence is accumulating daily, so much so that it is seeping into local media coverage and even the race for Metro President:

Oregon's land-use laws are killing our economy. Just in the last few days, more stories have emerged:
  • Democrat Rep. Peter Buckley from Ashland is trying to help a large southern Oregon orchard operator survive by allowing 1000 acres of its fallow land near urban areas in southern Oregon to be developed. The company is struggling under a large debt load and would use some of the proceeds to make its balance sheet healthier. All the usual land use groups oppose it. Prime farmland! they say.
  • In today's Oregonian, columnist Andy Parker talks about the race for Metro President, in which all three candidates are talking about how Metro needs to do a better job of "economic development." The only candidate who really has any clue at all is former Hillsboro mayor Tom Hughes, but the other two candidates know which way the wind is blowing, so they have to recreate themselves. So now Rex Burkholder is trying to talk intelligently about job creation! (Breaking news - he can't.)
  • This farmer out side of Wilsonville wants Oregon land use laws to lock down all the area around his farm for a half-century so his kid can farm it after he dies.
The common thread here is that Oregon's land use laws are killing our economy. We pretend that bureaucrats and planners somehow have superior knowledge about productive use of land than the owners. In reality, the laws just give preservationist no-growth pressure groups a legal bludgeon with which to get their way.

For years, folks like Rex Burkholder and Bob Stacey, two candidates for Metro President, have been at the forefront of this Soviet-style planning system. So it is laughable to see them now try to lip-sync a "jobs" tune.

But the real problem is the land use system itself. Pretending that Metro will somehow reshape itself to have an economic development focus is just dreaming.

Metro, and the land use system it has fed off for thirty years IS THE PROBLEM.

Will Oregon leaders ever figure this out? I doubt it. This is about world view and ideology. That doesn't change. We have competing world views in our political leadership, and one has held power in Oregon for going on three decades. The long-term damage of that view is coming home to roost.

It will have to be defeated.