Thursday, December 21, 2006

Gender equity runs amok

Here's the story:

An NCAA committee recommends prohibiting the practice of women's basketball teams from scrimmaging against men. They say it is contrary to the spirit of Title IX, and that it "implies an archaic notion of male preeminence that continues to impede progress toward gender equity and inclusion."

In other words, I guess, scrimmaging against men implies that men are better at basketball, which is contrary to what they wish was true. So if they prohibit it, what they wish was true might actually come true.

What a bunch of nonsense. Women basketball coaches, of course, want to keep scrimmaging against men. It seems they are more worried about developing their players than about some feminist political agenda.

Let me get this straight...

So a bike nazi was demonstrating during one of the Critical Mass rides, standing on the sidewalk next to his bike, when a police officer told him to move along. He refused, and the policeman gave him a ticket for impeding traffic and for failing to obey a police officer.

The bike nazi goes to court, and argues that the impeding traffic charge cannot apply because the law applies to "people driving cars and riding bikes." Since he wasn't riding his bike at the time, he argued that he couldn't be in violation of the law.

Attorney General Hardy Meyers conceded the point, and the Court of Appeals dismissed the ticket!

So let me get this straight.... by this reasoning I could drive my car into an intersection, get out of the car and stand on the sidewalk, and I couldn't be charged with impeding traffic? After all, I wouldn't be "driving."

On second thought, if I did do this, they'd probably give me a reward rather than a ticket. After all, I'd be advancing their agenda of creating as much congestion as possible.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Anti Union Unions

This reported today on WSJ's

With a decision expected any day on where the Democratic Party will hold its 2008 national convention, a union leader in Denver has refused to sign a no-strike pledge, a move one organizer called a possible deal-breaker," reports Denver's KMGH-TV:

Jim Taylor, head of the Local No. 7 International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, is refusing to sign the agreement pledging not to strike if the convention comes to Denver, labor officials told The Denver Post. . . .

Debbie Willhite, executive director of Denver's host committee, told the Post that a lack of full union support for the city's bid is "probably a deal-breaker" for the Democratic National Committee.

Apparently the Democrats are for organized labor, except when it inconveniences them.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Study shows climate goes through 1500 year cycles

A new study of geologic evidence concluded that the earth's climate goes through consistent 1500 year warming/cooling cycles within the known 90,000 year ice-age cycles.

The upshot is that our current warming is simply due to being on the upslope of a 1500 year cycle, and is nothing out of the ordinary compared to global temperatures in the past. The current warming started about 1850, after a global cooling that ranged from about 1300 - 1850. Prior to 1300 the earth was in a "medieval warm period."

The study looked at data gleaned from all sorts of temperature proxies - ice cores, lake bed sediment, stalagmites, pollen data, and others.

The study was done by Dr. Fred Singer, a known global warming skeptic. He is a fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis. Now, I am certain that global warming believers will point out that NCPA and Dr. Singer have received money from energy companies for their research projects, and so their research is tainted and should be dismissed.

OK, fine. Then of course we should dismiss any research paid for by federal government grants, too, right? After all, the official position of all the federal agencies that fund such research is that global warming is a huge problem. Researchers whose results prove otherwise might be kicked off the grant gravy train.

Actually, the data should stand on its own. Argue the data, not who brought it to the discussion. Read this study and ask if the case it makes isn't pretty compelling.

Hat tip to Andy for sending me the link to the study.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Rex explains himself

In today's Oregonian, Rex Burkholder tries to back away from his now famous statement that "every penny spent on transportation is wasted." He apologizes if he "offended" any "transportation engineers, planners and construction crews or my fellow policy-makers and transportation advocates."

The problem wasn't that anyone was offended, Rex. The problem with what you said is that it reveals you to be an extremist.

Your explanation of what you really meant actually makes it worse. Your explanation is incoherent, and simply shows that you want to use land use and transportation policy for social engineering.

You say that what you meant to point out by your statement was that transportation was expensive, and that it is a "cost to avoid or minimize." That doesn't help much, Rex. In fact, it says pretty much the same thing - you don't want to spend money on transportation. You want to spend as little as possible, presumably because you think it is a waste of money.

However, to be charitable, perhaps what you meant was that you want transportation spending to minimize the cost per passenger mile of moving people. That is something I would totally support. Resources are scarce, and we should choose transportation investments that give us maximum value - those that are most efficient in terms of cost per passenger mile.

But although you try to pretend you care about efficiency, if you actually did, you would never support light rail. It is the most expensive and least efficient method of moving people we have tried. So your actions show that you don't care about minimizing the cost per passenger mile - you want to minimize how much we spend on transportation, period.

Which is exactly what you said before.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

On the bleeding edge again

Why does Oregon always have to be the first state to try out major social reforms that are touted as "models for the nation," but somehow never end up being copied (and almost always end up failing.)

I'm sorry, but our politicians are not smarter than those in every other state. But they certainly do have a much higher level of hubris. Time and again they have decided they know how to restructure major institutions, and again and again they have fallen flat.

But they are up to it again. Comprehensive health care is coming to Oregon. A Senate commission co-chaired by the state's newest Democrat Ben Westlund has released its recommendation (to the plaudits of the Oregonian, of course who has cheerleaded every one of Oregon's failed experiments) for a universal health care system.

The Oregonian said Westlund's commission "took a giant step forward by endorsing the general shape of a first-in-the-nation plan for universal health care."

Now, says Westlund, "All eyes are once again on Oregon."

Yes, that is probably right. I'm sure they are all watching to figure out just what NOT to do, just like when precisely zero states copied CIM and CAM, or our land use planning system, or Oregon's first attempt at Kitzhaber-care.

What is the huge innovation that came out of the committee? Well, the details are vague. In fact, there are no details. "Virtually all the details have yet to be worked out..." the Oregonian tells us.

Huh? Just what did the Senate Commission endorse, then? They proposed "framework" for a plan that would cover every Oregonian, including 600,000 who currently don't have insurance.

What is innovative about that? Well, nothing, really. What the Oregonian is all excited about is that there seems to be a change in attitude where it is OK for state leaders to "talk openly of the need for universal health care."

Well, yeah, there has been. I think it was during the election. Democrats are in charge, and they have nothing but open field in front of them.

And so I am sure they will be able to put this "potentially historic" system in the end zone, and Oregon will once again get to make all the costly mistakes while other states look on, snickering.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Verizon was taught new new math

This is unreal.

This poor guy was quoted a data transfer rate of .002 cents per kilobyte by Verizon, and then was billed .002 dollars per kilobyte.

He called the customer service rep to straighten it out, and despite repeated attempts with several customer service managers, couldn't get them to even recognize that .002 cents is not the same as .002 dollars!

He recorded the phone calls and posted them in YouTube. It is hard to believe that such ignorance can be sustained up through several levels of Verizon.

Listen to it! It is hysterical!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Betcha the Oregonian won't report this

Philosphical question of the day: If scientists testify to a Senate Committee, and their testimony contradicts the fervently held views of our daily newspaper, did their testimony merit reporting?

The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held hearings two days ago on Climate Change and the Media.

Here's what they heard from Dr. David Deming University of Oklahoma College of Earth and Energy

The amount of climatic warming that has taken place in the past 150 years is poorly constrained, and its cause--human or natural--is unknown. There is no sound scientific basis for predicting future climate change with any degree of certainty. If the climate does warm, it is likely to be beneficial to humanity rather than harmful. In my opinion, it would be foolish to establish national energy policy on the basis of misinformation and irrational hysteria.

And this from an abstract of a paper submitted by Dr. R.M. Carter Marine Geophysical Laboratory James Cook University AUSTRALIA (PDF)

There is a strong conflict between current public alarm regarding human-caused climate change and the science justification for that alarm. The media serve to convey to the public the facts and hypotheses of climate change as provided by individual scientists, government and international research agencies and NGO lobby groups.

In general, the media have propagated an alarmist cause for climate change, and they have certainly failed to convey to the public both the degree of uncertainty that is characteristic of climate science and many essential facts that are relevant to considerations of human causation. Ways in which the public debate is directed along alarmist lines are discussed.

It is concluded that natural climate change is a hazard that - like other similar natural hazards - should be dealt with by adaptation. Attempting to mitigate human-caused climate change is an expensive exercise in futility.

Wait a minute! I thought Al Gore said that the "science is decided."

What is the chance that the Oregonian will report anything about this hearing?

Want to read a very good, comprehensive expose of the Global Warming Scam? Read this Skeptics Guide by US Senator Inhofe.

They aren't usually this honest

They don't usually come right out and say it. Usually we have to dig around a bit to reveal their real goal, or even read between the lines to surmise what they really mean.

For instance, usually you have to wade through the hundreds of pages of Metro's "2040 Plan" to find that their plan calls for tripling congestion in the Portland area. Or you have to interpret strange statements from Rex Burkholder such as "Every penny spent on transportation is wasted."

So it is oddly refreshing when one of the "smart-growth" zealots actually comes right out and says it. It happened today in the Portland Tribune.

It came from Chris Smith. He's the guy who writes the ever-so-entertaining Portland Transport blog that chronicles all the goofy tram/streetcar/light rail/tax abated condo/traffic calming/couplet/and every other anti-car project in the city.

He was talking about Sam the Tram's new plan to put a streetcar in the middle of the city's only east/west arterial, which everyone admits would reduce Burnside Street's capacity to carry automobiles and move people where they need to go.

Big problem, right? How to balance things such as the streetcar with the need to move people efficiently around the region?

Not for the likes of Chris Smith. No, for him and those like him (which means the PDC, Tri-Met, Metro Council, Portland City Council, Multnomah County Commission, and the rest of the Portland area political establishment) the fact that the streetcar would hinder automobile traffic is just another of the many benefits that come from installing 19th century technology in Portland.

Explaining why he thinks the feds should loosen their guidelines that require a minimum cost effectiveness for transit projects in terms of how many people get moved, Smith said:

“The easier it is to move people from point A to point B, the harder it is to contain sprawl.”

There you have it. Congestion is a strategy to prevent sprawl. If we make it easy to move around, people will choose to live in the suburbs. So we have to muck up the region's transportation system so badly that people will be forced to live close to downtown.

These are the same people who constantly accuse conservatives of wanting to use public policy to "tell people how to live."

And sadly, these people are in charge around here.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

PPS continues fuzzy math

Article yesterday in the Oregonian about the Portland School District requiring the same math curriculum at every high school. The controversy is whether it makes sense to have one curriculum at every school, since it might not fit every student.

This question is fine, as far as it goes. But the article failed completely to mention the fact that the curriculum in question, ill-named "College Preparatory Mathematics," is one of the fuzzy math programs that have basically destroyed math education in the U.S.

A large group of parents in Beaverton have organized to stop another of these horrible programs, called "Integrated Math Project."

I've written about this topic a lot, so I won't reiterate all the reasons these curricula are awful. I was forced to take my own kids out of public school because the school had bought in to another version of this cancer. I chronicled my experience in a long article in Oregon's Future Magazine.

Another place to learn about this stuff is the Mathematically Correct website, which has chronicled the "Math Wars" for about a decade. It has great curriculum reviews of all the offending programs.

If you think the best way to learn math is in groups, and that the tradional sequence of the discipline is outmoded, and that rather than textbooks and worksheets it is more effective to have "strings and blocks and hooks and rubber bands," then perhaps the new math is for you.

PPS adopted a Fuzzy Math curriculum for middle schools in 1999, and now they are just moving more completely down thas same path by putting it into the high schools as well.

Expect to see more of that "deer in the headlights" look when you give a clerk a $5 bill and a quarter to pay for a $3.18 cent item.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Sam's Couplet

Why do they call it a "couplet," anyway?

Sam Adams wants to tear up Burnside and Couch streets downtown, turning them into one way streets and putting a streetcar through them. $80 million dollars (estimated - and we know how THAT works) to slow down cars and make the downtown core that much more hostile to automobiles.

I want to say "when will it end?" but there is no reason it will. This is what Portland wants.

That is why Rex Burkholder can say "Every penny spent on transportation is wasted," and not be dismissed as a charlatan. In Portland, saying such things makes you visionary, and the Tribune writes glowing articles about your influence on the region's transportation policy.

It's going to get a lot, lot worse before it even thinks about getting better.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Denial in Downtown

It's funny to see, in the aftermath of the Schumacher Fur announcement that they are leaving downtown Portland, the absolute denial that there is anything wrong with the retail environment in downtown Portland that needs to be fixed.

In today's Oregonian, Steve Duin ridicules Greg Schumacher to task for mentioning that street musicians were one of the reasons he was leaving. The O's editorial page mentioned it also, and went on to insist that Schumacher's problem was "store-specific" and not a sign of a general retail malaise in downtown.

OK, fine. There's no problem when so many streets are torn up to install the latest phase of "smart growth" that you can't drive through the city (much less park) without first figuring out which streets are closed. There's no problem when every 30 steps you are faced with another aggressive panhandler. Or when you drive in fear that the Mayor himself is going to conduct a sting operation on you for rolling into the crosswalk before he has made it to the other side of the street. Or when Critical Mass clogs up the grid every Friday, led by the Mayor himself.

No, none of this has anything to do with the growth of wonderful places like Bridgeport Village, where Schumacher Fur is likely to wind up.

Go to Bridgeport if you want to understand how irrelevant downtown Portland is going to be in a few years. Bridgeport is everything that the Smart Growthers hate: it is completely auto-oriented, upscale, and private. It doesn't want to be "wierd," it wants to create an environment that makes people want to come to and spend time and money in.

And it is fabulously successful.

Who in their right mind would prefer to shop in downtown Portland, hassle with traffic and parking and panhandlers rather than the almost Disneyland-like environment of Bridgeport? Well, fewer and fewer people, it seems, which is what the Oregonian is trying to deny.

The O's protestations notwithstanding, downtown Portland does not exist in a vacuum. It can't treat its retailers and its shoppers as if they have nowhere else to go. Tom Potter's refusal to deal with the fur protesters sends a signal to everyone: if your business isn't in favor among the "smarter than you" set, you are fair game. They don't want you and they won't help you.

They have a vision for Portland. Fine. They can have Portland. Occupied territory. We'll stay out.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Irresponsible spending

We read last week that the new forecast for the 2007-09 state general fund is $15.3 billion, up 22.4% from $12.5 billion this biennium.

You'd think that would be enough, but no. Kulongoski's spokesperson said they still need 1) a cigarette tax to pay for expanding the Oregon Health Plan; 2) an insurance tax to pay for more state troopers; 3) an increase in the corporate minimum tax; and 4) keeping the corporate kicker to put into a rainy day fund.

One reason why tax receipts are so high is because the stock market has been strong, and Oregon taxes capital gains as if they were ordinary income. So the new budget will basically addict the state to the current level of capital gains tax.

Guess what? The economy is slowing. Housing starts are way down. The yeild curve has been inverted. Capital gains tax income will almost certainly slide in the 2009-11 budget period, and we will once again have a crisis on our hands.

It is totally irresponsible to addict a state to capital gains tax receipts, but the spending lobby is totally in charge now, so forget about fiscal restraint of any kind, (Not that we had all that much of it when the Republicans were in charge.)

Kulongoski's new chair

Willamette Week reports that Gov. Kulongoski has replaced his chief of staff with Chip Terhune, one of the OEA's lobbyists.

That didn't take long. I guess there is no need to keep up appearances or anything.... the unions are firmly in charge of the governors office, and there is no reason to pretend. He saw how bad it was for him when he didn't do their bidding in his first term.

He's learned his lesson. He's totally potty trained now, that is for sure.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I'm debating at the City Club

I've been boycotting my blog for awhile. I just haven't had much to say after the election.

This Friday, I am going to be debating on the issue of school choice at the City Club Forum. My counterpart will be Dr. Peter Cookson, Dean of the Graduate School of Education at Lewis & Clark. The moderator will be Cynthia Guyer, Executive Director of the Portland Public School Foundation.

Here is the City Club's description of the event . It's at noon, at the Governor Hotel, and if you can't make the lunch, it will be broadcast on OPB.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A life well lived

Milton Friedman was a giant of a man.

I first became aware of who he was in college, as my economics textbooks taught about his monetary policy views, which in the late 1970's were just beginning to win out over the generally accepted Keynesian view of monetary policy.

As a college junior, I transferred to study economics at University of Chicago, where Friedman taught and wrote. Although "Uncle Miltie" had just the year or so before left U of C for the Hoover Institution at Stanford, his shadow on the "Chicago School" was huge, as it remains today.

His list of truly world-changing ideas is phenomenal. There simply is no other economist who has had a more direct effect on the lives of Americans than Milton Friedman. His monetary theory was the intellectual basis for the Volcker Federal Reserve policies of the early 1980's that slew the inflation dragon and launched the U.S. on an unprecedented quarter century of growth.

He was the first to propose school choice. It was 1955 when he first wrote about how vouchers could improve a school system. In 1995 he started his foundation, which works to establish voucher and other school choice programs around the country. I have had the pleasure of working with his staff on various school choice issues.

In the 1980's he wrote the most popular book on economics ever written: "Free to Choose," in which he gave a layperson's intellectual argument for freedom. The book was the basis for a highly rated documentary that still is as fresh today as it was two decades ago.

This is only a small part of his list of professional accomplishments. On the personal side, I think he would tell you his biggest accomplishment is his 70 year love affair with his wife Rose, who is an accomplished economist in her own right. Rose Friedman grew up in Portland.

The world could use more people like Milton Friedman. Unfortunately, a talent like his is extremely rare. One of a kind.

Milton Friedman, a life well lived. We are all richer from it.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Kulongoski campaign and the 1st Amendment

The Kulongoski campaign filed an election law violation complaint against BrainstormNW Magazine for having the audacity to distribute its editorial endorsing Ron Saxton for Governor.

I'm not kidding.

A few weeks ago, Brainstorm distributed its endorsement editorial by inserting it into an issue of the Oregonian. Kulongoski claims that Brainstorm should report the amount it paid the Oregonian as an "In-kind" contribution to the Saxton campaign, or as an "independent expenditure."

Here's the problem: BrainstormNW Magazine is a media outlet, and Oregon election law specifically excludes their endorsements and editorials from being classified as "contributions" to campaigns. Here is the relevant statutory language:

ORS 260.007(1):
“As used in this chapter, “contribute,” “contribution,” “expend” or “expenditure” does not include any written news story, commentary, or editorial distributed through the facilities of any broadcasting station, newspaper, or magazine or other regularly published publication, unless a political committee owns the facility.”

Well, that should settle it, right? It couldn't be any more clear. BrainstormNW wrote an editorial, and distributed it through the facilities of a newspaper. Not a contribution, no report necessary.

Sure, if you trust our Secretary of State to follow the law. What if the SOS decides, as he has in the past, to ignore the plainly worded statutes, and rule that BrainstormNW should have reported the expenditure? Well, then Brainstorm would be on the hook for a fine of 1% for each day that the report was late.

The fact that they might dispute the complaint doesn't stop the 1% clock from ticking, so if the investigation and ruling takes 100 days, and the SOS rules that a report is necessary, then Brainstorm is on the hook to pay a fine of 100% of the amount they paid to distribute the editorial!

That is why almost everybody, when faced with a similar complaint, just files the report, and if the SOS later rules it was unnecessary, fine. If it rules the report was needed, then at least they minimized the fine by filing the report on the front end and stopping the 1% clock.

So BrainstormNW has the Hobson's choice of either filing the report now, or betting on the integrity of the most partisan Secretary of State in the history of Oregon, otherwise they could be fined tens of thousands of dollars.

So what is the big deal, you might ask? Just file the stupid report. Well, that is exactly what the Democrats want. They want to be able to portray BrainstormNW as a tool of the Republican party. If they file the contribution report, forevermore the Democrats will be able to dismiss BrainstormNW Magazine by pointing to the "fact" that this media outlet even made a contribution to a Republican candidate for governor!

That is the end game here for the Democrats. Use the election laws to trample all over the 1st Amendment, giving a small conservative magazine the choice: Either "admit" you are a tool of the Republicans or face the possibility of crippling fines.

But wait there's more!

There are two ways that Brainstorm could report the expenditure - either as an "in-kind," or as an "independent" expenditure. Each has definitions.

An in-kind contribution is for such things as if a campaign uses a company's office space or phone system for free. The value of the office space or the cost of the phones are reported as an in-kind contribution by the company, and then is also reported by the campaign on its reports. What Brainstorm did by paying to distribute its editorial hardly falls into this category. They didn't coordinate it with the campaign, and certainly didn't do it at the campaign's request.

So, they could report it as an independent expenditure, right? Sure, if, once again, they trusted Bill Bradbury. The rules for an independent expenditure are that it cannot be coordinated with the campaign. So when someone does an independent expenditure on behalf of a campaign, they make sure there is NO COMMUNICATION between the campaign and the entity doing the expenditure, just so there is no question about its independence.

That is because the penalties for claiming an expenditure as independent when there was some kind of coordination are severe - it is a felony penalized by fines and jail time.

So if Brainstorm was to report this as an independent expenditure, it leaves itself open to Bill Bradbury shenanigans. Obviously Brainstorm had communication with the Saxton campaign - not about distributing their editorial, but about lots of campaign issues over the months.

But if Brainstorm reports this as an independent expenditure, nothing would prevent the Kulongoski campaign from challenging the independent status of the "expenditure," and triggering an investigation by Bradbury, who would then be able to question every e-mail and phone call between Brainstorm and the Saxton campaign, and claim it showed coordination.

Which would be a felony. For being a media outlet.

So what choice does BrainstormNW have? This is basically the government with its jack-boot on the neck of a small business, forcing it to willingly "confess" or face fines or jail time or both.

Led by our Governor.

I guess we should not be surprised. If he is corrupt enough to knowingly involve a child-molester in his administration because of the political influence he brings, then Kulongoski wouldn't think twice about using every instrument of government available to him to stifle opposing viewpoints from being distributed.

Totalitarian? Right out of the left's playbook.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The question the Democrats will not answer

If it is true that Kulongoski knew about Neil Goldschmidt's secret and still involved him deeply in his administration, does it matter?

Over at Jack Bog's blog I asked this question directly to Kari Chisolm of BlueOregon, and he did not respond. (Actually, he responded by saying, "Show me the proof," which is simply a way to avoid responding.

The reason that they won't answer the question is because there is only one answer: If he knew, then he should resign from office in shame.

If the Democrats acknowledge this, then the attention turns to the credibility of the accusation by Leonhardt. I'd love to have an intelligent discussion about the credibility and believability of Leonhardt, and it would be great if the media would do its job and have that discussion in the open. But it ain't going to happen.

The mainstream media is simply not going to cover this story. I've talked personally with Julia Silverman at the AP, Jeff Mapes at the Oregonian, and with more than one TV news desk. The double standard is palpable.

Last week the Oregonian ran a story on the accusations that Ron Saxton hired illegal aliens at his farm a decade ago. There was no evidence at all of the accusation, and the accusation was coming from the Kulongoski camp and his supporters. The story was very prominent, I think on the front page of the Metro section.

Contrast that to the studied indifference to this story. Here we have an accusation made not by a partisan, but by one of Kulongoski's best friends. His story is more than credible (as I have discussed.) And not ONE mainstream media outlet so much as gives it a whisper.

This much is clear: Either Fred Leonhardt is a bald faced liar or Ted Kulongoski is a bald faced lying child-rapist shelterer. This is really the choice.

As citizens and voters, we are asked all the time to make judgments about believability of contradicting stories. There are all sorts of ways we make the judgment: motive of each side; who gains or loses by lying or not lying; the plausibility of the accusation; is the chronology of the events that led to the accusation reasonable; was the accuser in a position to actually know what he says he knows; did he tell anyone else the same thing;

On each and every one of these elements, Fred Leonhardt's story is utterly credible.

You know what? I am actually sad about this, and here is why:

At this point it looks as if we will have another four years of Ted Kulongoski as governor. I know him a little bit and from what I know, I liked the man. Disagreed with him, sure. But I liked him, thought he was honest and had integrity. So even if he won a second term, I thought we'd have a governor who was at least worthy of respect because of his personal and professional accomplishments and his basic decency.

But I believe Fred Leonhardt, and that necessarily means that I conclude that Ted Kulongoski is not only a liar, but that he is lying about something incredibly important. Ted Kulongoski actually knew that Neil Goldschmidt had destroyed the life of a teenage girl by repeatedly raping her over the course of three years, but he decided that his career was more important to him than his pesonal integrity. He decided that the political influence and favors that Goldschmidt could give him was too important to give up by distancing himself from this monster.

So, I am sad because Oregon is likely to have another four years with a governor who I simply cannot respect.

And I am also sad that so many of the folks over at BlueOregon - people who I often engage in energetic debate with, and people whom I also respect - seem to be making essentially the same choice. They are silent on the question of whether Ted Kulongoski knew. They are supporting a person in the governor's office who they know, deep in their conscience, sheltered a rapist, because he is on their team. The political benefits that accrue from being in power are more important.

We often face situations in personal relationships or business relationships where someone deeply disappoints us by some unethical act or malfeasance. I often say at these times: "Well, at least I now know something about him that I didn't know before." It helps to know, because this knowledge informs your future dealings with the person.

That is the situation here. At least I know that Ted Kulongoski willingly traded his integrity for the political gains that would come from a Neil Goldschmidt relationship. And at least now I know that the left in Oregon is virtually unanimous in validating that trade.

These are important things to know.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

More on Kulongoski/Goldschmidt

The mainstream media double standard has never been more starkly exposed.

Will the Oregonian cover this story? Will it print Fred Leonhardt's claim that he told Ted Kulongoski about Goldschmidt's secret? It doesn't appear likely.

I spoke with Jeff Mapes to confirm that he actually did have the lunch with Fred Leonhardt where Leonhardt told the whole story about Goldschmidt and Kulongoski. Mapes would not confirm or deny the meeting, and said that he was not going to be talking about the issue with anyone. He said that the Oregonian had already done a "detailed" story on the question of when and if Kulongoski knew about Goldschmidt, and that was that.

Well, that's fine, but all it does is let pajama bloggers like me speculate.

Mapes had the whole story five months before Nigel Jaquiss broke it, and for some reason the Oregonian did nothing. It would be very interesting to know what actually happened. Mapes is a tough reporter - he would have taken the issue to an editor, and at some point up the chain someone had to call him off the story. A guy like Mapes would not just decide not to chase what would have been the biggest story of his life when he had a credible source laying the whole thing out for him.

So the higher ups at the Oregonian probably squelched it. When Nigel Jaquiss broke the story and won the Pullitzer for it, the Oregonian had well-deserved scorn heaped upon them for the kid's glove way they reported Goldschmidt's "affair" with a 14 year old.

But their behavior now is even worse than that. The newspaper's apologist - er - public editor tried to explain away the Oregonian's lack of pursuit of the story because all they had was an "anonymous" source.

That, my friends, is a bald faced lie. There is no definition by which Leonhardt's meeting with Mapes could be described as an anonymous source. He was on record, not anonymous.

As the mainstream media studiously ignores this story, why don't we anticipate some of the reasons they might give for not covering and do a little analysis?

1) This is a "he-said/she-said" controversy, so there is no way of knowing if it is true.

Sorry, that doesn't wash. The media goes with "he-said/she-said" stories all the time. How about the Hastert/Foley issue? There were accusations that Hastert knew about the Foley e-mails and did nothing. Just the word of accusers was enough to guarantee front page coverage for days. The accusers had an obvious political motivation to damage Hastert. Newspaper after newspaper demanded that Hastert resign if the accusations were true.

But in the Leonhardt case, "he-said/she-said" is an automatic trump card. No story here folks, please keep moving.

2) Leonhardt's accusation that he told Kulongoski is not credible

It is hard to imagine a more credible accusation, actually. Leonhardt is a liberal Democrat whose livelihood depends on the goodwill of Democrat candidates. He has nothing to gain professionally - and a lot to lose - by making this claim.

His recount of how he came to know about the rape, the lawsuit and when and why he told Kulongoski has the ring of truth. Ted Kulongoski was his good friend. They both socialized together and dealt with each other professionally. He knew this awful thing about Kulongoski's #1 political patron and when Ted was planning to run for AG, Leonhardt figured he would warn his friend, because if it came out there would be lots of collateral damage.

In fact, here is what would not be credible: it would not be credible if Leonhardt claimed he DIDN'T tell Kulongoski about Goldschmidt's secret. Imagine - your best friend is going to run for statewide office, and you know a dark secret about his biggest patron which, if it came out, would destroy your friend's candidacy, and you DON'T tell him?

3) This is old news, because in 2004, both the Willamette Week and the Oregonian ran stories that included Leonhardt's claim that he told Kulongoski.

This is news now for a couple reasons: First, how Leonhardt learned the secret, and the questionof why, when and where he told Kulongoski is far more detailed now than ever known before.

Second, Kulongoski broght the issue up by taking bows for Jessica's Law. He is casting himself as a protector of our young. If there is a credible accusation that he knowingly involved a child molestor in his administration, that is news.

Third, in the aftermath of the Foley/Hastert issue, the question of elected officials sheltering pedophiles is newly relevant.

None of this will matter to the mainstream media, however. It is almost as if they no longer really care when their bias is on full and obvious display for all to see.

Meanwhile, mysteriously, circulation plummets.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Will anybody ask the question?

Neil Goldschmidt's speechwriter told Ted Kulongoski about Goldschmidt's babysitter rape, and was shocked when Kulongoski ignored it. Read it in his own words, published just today.

When does Ted Kulongoski have to answer the question about why he continued his association with a man that he knew was a rapist and referred to as excrement?

Convinced by Neil's former state police bodyguard [This is Bernie Guisto] in 1994 that the rumors were true, I told Kulongoski, my close friend and at that time Oregon's attorney general. But the statute of limitations had expired, and Neil had obtained a confidentiality agreement from his now-adult victim in exchange for cash.

A child rapist had not only escaped justice and public shame, he cashed in on his government career, becoming the wealthiest and most influential power broker in Oregon. Ted often used a two-word phrase to describe Goldschmidt and others like him who undeservedly attain wealth and power: "Shit floats."

I stayed away from Neil out of disgust, and I assumed Ted would do the same.

But by 2001 when Ted was gearing up to run for governor, he told me that the hardest part of that job would be "keeping Neil at arms length because he asks me to do unethical things."
It turned out to be harder than he thought.

During the campaign, Neil provided political strategy and access to corporate cash. As governor, Ted showered favors on Neil's clients, and in spite of what he knew of Neil's crime, appointed him to the State Board of Higher Education.

This reckless and irresponsible act was more than I could stomach. I took the story of Goldschmidt's crime and Kulongoski's knowledge to the state's leading newspaper, expecting to unleash a firestorm of outrage.

Instead, I encountered a conspiracy of silence and, even more sickening, indifference.
The Oregonian sat on my story for five months until its local rival, Willamette Week, exposed Goldschmidt's past in
an investigative report that would later win its author, Nigel Jaquiss, a well-deserved Pulitzer Prize.

Leonhardt also chides the Oregonian for hypocrisy when it editorialized: "anyone in Congress who protected Foley should be given the boot, period. And that includes (House Speaker Dennis) Hastert himself," because sheltering a pedophile is "a truly odious act."

Short memory at the Oregonian, it seems. Leonhardt himself told the Oregonian about Goldschmidt's crime and Kulongoski's knowledge of it five months before Willamette Week broke the story - and the Oregonian sat on it.

Sounds like "sheltering a pedophile" to me! Will the Oregonian give itself the boot?

Update 4:40 PM:

Go to Jack Bog's Blog and read the response from Leonhardt himself which gives explicit detail on precisely when and where and why he told Ted Kulongoski about Goldschmidt.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Thank you, John Kerry

Prediction: Republicans keep the US House of Representatives.

Democrats will look back, crestfallen, and realize that Halloween was the day that ruined their dream, and John Kerry was responsible.

ABC News led with the story tonight, and they even quoted a Democrat congressman (didn't identify him) saying:

"It wasn't enough for John Kerry to blow the 2004 election. He had to blow the 2006 election as well."

Of course, lots of pundits are trying to minimize the damage, claiming that this won't change votes. George Stephanopolous even said that this isn't good for Republicans because "every day that is spent talking about Iraq isn't a good day for Republicans."

Balderdash. Kerry's remark played right into a core Rove/Republican theme for this election: Security. If national security is a big issue, how can you support a party that has such disdain for our soldiers?

Oh sure, they will say Kerry doesn't speak for the party. Fine, then - how many D's are out there condemning his statement and calling for him to apologize? Republicans in tight races get to spend the next week asking their opponents to demand that Kerry apologize to the troops. That will put their opponents in a real tough spot. This will have an effect.

Republicans don't really deserve to keep the House, and if it weren't for their opponents, they would probably lose it.

Thank you, John Kerry!

Update, Nov.1, 11:00 AM

Kerry is the gift that keeps giving. He has refused to apologize. He said that he just "botched" a line in a joke that was meant to attack President Bush.

OK, well what was the correct line, then? I've heard what he said dozens of times, and I don't see how a word or two here or there could transform the statement from a direct insult of the military into a slam on the President. If it was a botched line, Senator Kerry, then tell us what you meant to say!

He has also cancelled all his campaign appearances this week where he was appearing to help close House and Senate races. His spokesman released a statement saying he cancelled the appearances so they didn't want to:

"Allow the Republican hate machine to use Democratic candidates as proxies in their distorted spin war."

Thus ensuring that this issue spends another day in the news cycle. Who is giving this guy his advice? Or is he so arrogant as to not need any? There are seven days to election day. Tomorrow or Thursday he will finally capitulate and apologize, and then the wording of the apology will be dissected for a day at least.

John Kerry's insult to the troops should be at the top of the news into the weekend.

Thank you, John Kerry!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Deceptive ballot title

There's a ballot measure on the Multnomah County ballot that would establish a tax for the "West Multnomah County Soil and Water District."

The language of the "question" is totally misleading. Here is how it reads:

Shall the District have a permanent rate limit of $.0750 (7.5 cents) per $1000 assessed value beginning fiscal year 2007-08

The wording is obviously intended to make it sound like a tax LIMIT rather than a new tax. That's outrageous. Tell them no.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Tram cars arrive!

Sam (the tram) Adams was at the Port of Portland today for the arrival of the tram cars. He said something that totally surprised me. He said that the Tram was "on time and on budget!"

Really? I thought it was about $40,000,000 over budget, but I guess not. Sam must think that if you revise your budget to reflect an actual cost that is several time the original estimate, then you meet that revised cost, that makes it "on budget."

Sam must follow the following advice I once read:

"To ensure you hit the target, shoot first, and call whatever you hit the target."

Saturday, October 28, 2006

A great comment on one of my blog posts

The following was posted as a comment on the blog post where I critique the Oregonian's coverage of Measure 48. I thought it was so well worded and insightful that I should make it its own blog post:

By Anonymous

The Oregonian's Bob Caldwell is a careful and clever speaker whose words are narrowly true.

What is even more true is that the newspaper's local leaders have a pervasive influence that extends far beyond formal relationships. The reporters that get hired, or not hired, the dining out conversations, the social relationships, gossip on who is up and who is down, off-duty social contacts, and friendships in and out of the newspaper are all factors that signal to savvy reporters of where they stand in the complex web of newspaper relationships.

The supervisors who are hired, or fired, plum assignments granted, or withheld: all these reflect power and ideological relationships. All rivers of internal power flow from the top. Newspaper professionals have long had problems in being candid on these aspects of newspapers and their biases.

I suspect that no reporter works long at the Oregonian without understanding that frequent hard-hitting reports on teachers' union power and power abuse are not the way to reportorial permanency and power at the Oregonian.

Few indeed will be the reports on the billions of dollars that non-union Oregonians--that's most of us--have paid due to outsized teacher pay, benefits, and retirements.

Friday, October 27, 2006

A great illustration of why we need a spending limit

I was asked to stand in for Ron Saxton last night at a governor candidate forum at Lake Oswego High School in front of a couple hundred students and parents. Standing in for Ted Kulongoski was the state representative from the area, Greg MacPherson.

During the forum MacPherson made a statement that I still have trouble believing he said it. He was talking about keeping the corporate kicker to put in a rainy day fund, and telling the students how bad a deal Measure 48 would be. Then he explained that "Oregon already has a spending limit." How so? Brace yourself:

"State spending is limited by how much revenue it brings in."

There you have it. If there was ever a more forthright admission that the Democrat philosophy is simply to spend every dime that comes in, I have yet to see it.

When he made this statement I wrote it down so I could read it back when it was my turn. I said that this is precisely the kind of thinking that has gotten us into the fix we are in. If we spend every dime, not only will we never have a rainy day fund, but anytime the pace of revenue growth slows, the government and the school s will be in fiscal crisis.

It think the audience fully understood this rather obvious point, but it seemed lost on MacPherson, who appeared utterly unabahed as I made it.

As I drove home, I thought about the political environment that allows an otherwise intelligent person such as MacPherson, who by all accounts is a bright light in the Democrat caucus, make such a ludicrous statement.

The fact is, Democrats in Oregon can say the most ridiculous things and are almost never challenged. They avoid any arena in which they may be challenged on their positions (such as the Lars Larson Show.) The media literally never makes them defend their illogic. They say outrageous things all the time and never are held to account.

The cumulative effect is that the logical faculties of Democrat politicians are atrophied, or they never get developed in the first place. How else to explain an intelligent guy like MacPherson making such a ridiculous statement and then not even being embarrassed?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Another front page campaign piece

The front page story in the Oregonian today titled: "Educators See Pinch in Money Measures," was another good example of the Oregonian's use of the news pages to promote their editorial agenda.

Last week Bob Caldwell, chair of the editorial board, wrote that there is zero crossover between the editorial staff and the news staff. He wrote:

"Those of us in the editorial department do not participate in the newsroom's journalistic process. We do not assign, edit or write anything that appears on the paper's news pages. We do not decide how to display news stories. We do not attend story-planning meetings or even make informal suggestions about what might be newsworthy."

This may be true, strictly speaking. I've never said that the editorial staff actually intervened in the Oregonian's news coverage to bias the tone and content of the articles.

Rather, the constant bias we see in the news coverage on tax and spend issues comes from reporters who have such an ideological bias that they actually think they are being fair, but their perspective is so tilted that they literally do not understand how their coverage is biased.

Let me use today's article as an example. It is the second front-page-above-the-fold-story-with-large-color-photographs in a week on how Measure 48 would affect the government. Today's story has a little bit more of a bow to telling both sides than the article last week (which I critiqued.) But whole point of the article was to give the government class a forum in which they could tell grim stories about what would happen to their essential service if Measures 48 and 41 pass.

But here's the problem: In the universe of these reporters, balance means talking about the effect of the measures on government, and allowing some of the points made to be refuted by the measures' supporters.

That is not balance. Balance would be roughly equal articles talking about the effect on taxpayers if the measures fail!

Think about this: how many articles over the years have you seen in the pages of the Oregonian that told us what would happen if we didn't pass new taxes or if we voted to limit taxes or spending? Countless.

How many articles over the years have you seen that discussed the effect of various tax measures on the taxpayers? I can't think of a single one!

I'm waiting for the articles on the front page of the Oregonian headlined "Taxpayers see pinch in money measures."

They could interview working families who talk about how the library bond or the Multnomah county tax or the local option or the construction bond or the Metro land grab levy would result in them having less to spend on their kids, their clothes, the quality of their groceries, or their ability to have the mom at home instead of working to make ends meet.

They could interview entrepreneurs who talk about how the Portland BIT and the constant threat of new taxes proposed by government types makes them unlikely to try to expand in Portland.

When I see these stories, then I will happily congratulate the Oregonian for being unbiased.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

First Election

My 18 year old daughter, Jessica, got her first ballot in the mail today. It is fun to watch as she becomes civically involved, discusses the candidates and issues and comes to her decision on the questions of the day.

As a parent, of course, I have spent the last 18 years indoctrinating her in the values that I deem important. Any parent who says otherwise is either lying, or is not a very good parent. I use the word "indoctrinating" intentionally, even though I know a lot of folks would read it and think: "Parents shouldn't indoctrinate their kids, they should bring them up with good values and let them make up their own minds on the issues of the day."

Guess what? They are saying the same thing I am, just not as honestly. I'd ask these people: "Do you make an effort to teach your children about the values you deem important?"

That is indoctrination. Teaching your children the doctines by which you live, hoping they will also live by them. If that is not the job of a parent, I am not sure what is.

Does that mean my daughter is an ideological clone of me? Nope. I understand that I am only one of the many influences on her views of political and cultural isses of the day. She is taking her responsibility to cast informed votes seriously (another value of mine I've successfully indoctrinated her in!) and so she is finding he own path and coming to her own conclusions on the candidates and issues on this ballot.

But I can tell you, as a father, when she saw her ballot envelope on the dining room table today, recognized what it was, looked at me and smiled, I knew what she was thinking, and I was thinking the same exact thing. We shared this brief, unspoken moment. We both knew what it meant: she'd arrived at another signpost on the road to adulthood.

She has a vote. It's hers. She values what I think, but she will vote her mind. She can disagree with me, cast her vote, and not even tell me. And she knows that is A-OK with me. It is what growing up is all about.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Betsy Hammond responds

Betsy Hammond, author of the front-page story on the lessons Oregon should learn from Colorado's experience with Tabor which ran yesterday, and which I critiqued, sent me the e-mail below objecting to my post. I post it here with her permission:


Today's article is fully and factually reported. I talked to all three budget directors who have implemented Tabor in Colorado at length. and I am confidence the piece is correct about what happened in Colorado and, when taking into account the Q and A, is correct about how Oregon's spending limit would be the same and different.

As my article says, there is no requirement under Measure 48 that the Legislature save any revenues that come in over the limit, rather than rebate them or lower tax rates or create tax breaks so the money doesn't come in in the first place.

To say that money would always be there to patch up spending in a downturn is simply unsupported by the facts, Rob.

To say that the article did not give the positives of Tabor.... come on. It says it delivers government that costs less. It points out that Coloradoans got more than $3 billion in rebates. It says the typical household got $400 a year for four straight years. It quotes Owens about reining in spending during a boom. It quotes Hopkins about reasonable vs. inordinate growth of spending. It quotes Caldara about thinking outside the box. It says most people in Colorado aren't even aware there is a spending limit. It says community colleges managed to patch together some excellent programs and instruction on low budgets. It says that flagship universities remained strong. It shoulds that private sector development is thriving at Lowry.

The fact of it is, however, that the business community and most seasoned Republican budget writers have turned over-the-top negative on this thing. In fact I toned down what Brad Young, Bill Kaufman, Tom Clark, Rocky Scott, etc., had to say about a state spending limit. And these guys aren't sideline nutcakes. They're respected conservative and centrist leaders in Colorado.

Who exactly did you want me to quote that I did not as far as talking up the positive aspects of Tabor? A majority of the people I quoted are Republicans who like Bill Owens.... did you want me to interview a bunch of angry lefties or something?

I am copying reader [name deleted] on this email, because he just sent me an email that picked up much of the language and critique from your blog, Rob, and I think he should have this same info/perspective (rant?) that I am sharing with you.

Both of you guys can quibble with some of the headline, photography, packaging, etc., if you want. I didn't do that part. I will own up to the fact that we try here at The Oregonian to make things look vaguely interesting. But the content of the article and the charts and graphics is mine and it is complete and fair and accurate.

The spending limit promises less government, lower government costs and less services in some sectors of state government and that is what it delivers. It puts the decisions about what will grow and what will be cut in the hands of legislators, whose decisions we cannot predict (not precisely anyway) but whom we know will be constrained by voter mandates, federal rules and political reality.

The article does not say or imply that life would come to an end in Oregon under Measure 48. But it does imply we would notice, and that certain areas would really feel it. Whether the trade offs are worth it are up to readers/voters/citizens/researchers/whoever to decide.

Finally, regarding the ratchet, let me quote from an email I sent earlier to another reader on this subject: (The "you" and "yours" refer to that reader, not to you, Rob; I am just trying to save myself the time of rewriting the same content.)

Beginning to quote myself here:
The key error you make is to assert that Oregon's spending limit would not have a "ratchet" effect. In fact, Oregon's constitutional spending limit would do what Colorado voters now have fixed: Tie each of the state's budgets to the previous one.

(Reading directly from the text of the measure: "Any increase in total spending by the state from one biennium to the next shall be no greater than... population plus inflation....") That means that, if one Oregon budget happens to plunge (due to recession, Legislators' discretion, tax cuts or whatever) the limit for the next and subsequent budgets is reset at the new, lower limit. (Colorado last year fixed that problem, by tying the limit henceforth to whichever of the five years of revenue collections during this period of unlimited spending is the highest.)

You are correct that, to the extent our Legislature opts to create a state savings account, the odds are reduced that spending will plunge as sharply as Colorado's revenue did in 2001-02, because our lawmakers could use the savings account to prop up spending in a downturn. But creating a state savings account is optional under Measure 48, and our Legislature doesn't exactly have a track record of saving up big bucks.

It would be wildly inaccurate to say Oregon would always manage to spend up to the "popuflation" limit, even in a recession. And, if the Legislature does not come up with enough money to spend to the limit, the new limit would be "ratcheted" down to rise from that lower starting point.

You assert repeatedly that spending "can't" go down under Measure 48, which is patently false. The law would prevent spending from being greater than a certain figure each biennium, unless two-thirds of the Legislature and a majority of Oregon voters agree, but it would not prohibit spending from falling below any certain level.

Also, briefly:
- My article is correct when it asserts that the central premise of both limits, restraining the rate of government growth to population plus inflation, is identical.
- My article does point out that under Measure 48, Oregon is likely to sock money into a state savings account.
Ending my quoting of myself there.

If there are particulars of the article you take issue with, I am happy to address them.

Rob, your assertion that Colorado did not have a budget crisis in
2001-02 like every other state is so laughable that I won't even get into it. Hello????? If I hadn't spent two hours talking to the state budget director from that period maybe I wouldn't be so snide.... but believe me, it was ugly --- more so than in many states because they had to pay out $1 billion in Tabor refunds the same year their revenues plunged (order of magnitude here) 18 percent.

My article was rigorously reported. Your slam against me does not appear to be so. I have covered state tax policy and spending full time for a year now, and had analyzed PERS and state education spending in detail before that. ("new" to the beat?) My bias is toward math that adds up, evidence over rhetoric, facts and clear-headed analysis.

As you can probably tell, I feel your blog posting is extremely unfair and not supported by the facts.

-Betsy Hammond

Defining the narrative

Perhaps the most important task in a political campaign - indeed, in any public relations effort - is to "define the narrative." Once you have successfully defined the narrative, and the media and commentators have bought into it, the victory is pretty much in hand.

It's not, however, easy to do, especially for a Republican in Oregon where there are significant institutional obstacles. There's no formula. It's hard to know ahead of time which message will catch on and define what the race is all about.

As I watched the debate last night and thought about it afterward, I realized that Ron Saxton has defined the narrative in this campaign. It is his version of what the race is about, his version of Kulongoski's performance as governor, his version of what is wrong with the state that has been accepted and has set the terms of the race.

That is why I think Ron will win.

Remember the 1992 presidential race? Bill Clinton won because he got to define the narrative and the media bought into it. President Bush 41 was toast, because he was on the defensive from the start. The narrative then was that we were in the "worst economy in 50 years." Remember Carville's phrase: "It's the economy, stupid."

Clinton's campaign defined the narrative, and even though it wasn't really true (the economy was in recovery well before the election, and by the time Clinton took office, GNP growth was almost robust) the die had been cast. The media played along. Every piece of economic news that supported the narrative was on the front page. Items that contradicted it were generally ignored.

In this governor race, it hasn't been clear to me up until now who was winning the battle for the narrative. It's easy to see what each side wants the narritive to be, but it was not yet apparent which one was catching on.

For Ron Saxton, the narrative is "Kulongoski has failed and everybody knows it."

For Kulongoski, it is "Ron Saxton is an elitist."

It wasn't until last night that I saw clear evidence that Ron's narrative has won out. I thought Ron won the debate, but that is almost secondary to what I saw play out in the debate. Remember some of the questions? They implicitly supported Ron's narrative:

"Governor, why are you having such a hard time getting Democrats to support you?"
"Governor, your base is holding its nose to vote for you"
"Governor, does it concern you that newspapers have endorsed Ron?"

Ron, for his part, hammered away at this theme at every opportunity, reinforcing the narrative. Which is exactly what he needed to do, and is why I think the debate swung in his favor.

But what happened last night is far more important than who won or lost the boxing match. It was a watershed moment, a point in this campaign that the question of whose narrative defines the terms of the race was settled.

It was broadcast statewide, and ballots go out Friday. The timing couldn't have been better. I don't want to sound overconfident, but I really like the way this feels.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

KGW Debate

Ron Saxton looked like the front-runner in the debate tonight. Calm, hitting his points, sidestepping potential problem issues, focused and constantly returning to his themes, and putting Kulongoski constantly on the defensive.

The Governor, I thought, was not nearly as effective. Now I may just be a total homer, but I really do think that the viewer takeaway in this debate was overwhelmingly in favor of Ron Saxton. The Gestalt of the debate was that Saxton was calling the question on Kulongoski's four years in office, and Kulongoski's defense was, well, defensive.

Three weeks out and tonight might be looked back upon as the point that Ron Saxton took the lead for good.

Governor Ron Saxton. Has a ring to it.

Taking bias to a new level

The Oregonian outdid itself today.

We've all seen the O regularly uses its news stories to support and advance the agenda of its editorial positions. But usually the news stories make at least a small genuflection in the direction of journalistic fairness. Today's front-page, two-color-picture, 60+ column-inch article on Measure 48 took the art form of "editorializing disguised as news" to a new level. The story completely dispensed with any pretense of journalism, leaving it front and center as an unabashed advocacy piece.

The point of the article was to tell us how bad off Oregon would be if we passed Measure 48, by recounting the experience of Colorado's "Tabor."

You would expect any such article, if the author was a serious journalist, would do a few things:
1) provide an honest balance of pro and con views as to what happened in Colorado, both good and bad; and 2) explain any substantive differences between Measure 48 and Tabor that might mitigate the supposed negative effects that happened in Colorado.

The article fell laughably short on both fronts. Its sole gesture to "balance" was a three column-inch quote by Governor Owen of Colorado defending Tabor. It went on to spend about 30 inches slamming Tabor for a litany of supposed ill effects.

Nowhere to be found was there any mention of the fact that Colorado, unlike virtually every other state in the nation, did not have a budget crisis during the 2001 recession. There was no mention of the fact that Colorado's rate of economic growth over the time since Tabor was passed far exceeded Oregon's, and that its unemployment rate was and still is quite a bit lower than Oregon's.

None of this is to say that Tabor is the correct way to limit state government growth - but certainly any honest journalistic attempt to use Colorado as a "lesson" for Oregon just might want to mention that there were some positive results to go along with the negative. And it might want to spend a little time quoting folks who could talk about the positive.

An honest piece of journalism trying to draw parallels between Tabor and Measure 48 might also want to explore the differences between the two measures. It might want to ask and answer the question: are these two things really similar enough so that we could reasonably expect what happened in Colorado would also happen in Oregon if voters pass Measure 48?

Far from asking and answering these questions, the Oregonian article seemed to intentionally obfuscate them.

It explained Tabor's "ratchet" effect, which it described (I think correctly) as a design flaw. The "ratchet" in Tabor means that if tax receipts in a recession results in, say, a 5% reduction in the budget, the next budget is based on the prior budget. That was what really sunk Tabor. After the recession of 2001, where the state tightened its belt to survive like every other state, it was prevented from making up the spending when the economy recovered because the next budget was limited to the recession budget level, plus popuflation.

Was this pointed out in the Oregonian article? Not at all. Nowhere was it even mentioned that Measure 48 does not have the same "ratchet." Not even in the sidebar Q & A where one questions was : "What are important differences?"

The truth is, Measure 48 is so different from Tabor in this respect that it actually looks something like a guarantee of state budget growth rather than a spending limit.

Under Measure 48, as the Oregonian did point out, it is spending that is limited, not tax receipts. In Colorado, any receipts over the popuflation limit are sent back to taxpayers. Under Measure 48, the state's spending is limited to popuflation, and if receipts are higher that that, then the money would accumulate in state coffers. (The legislature would decide what to do with the money. It couldn't spend it. Choices are: 1) send it back; and 2) keep it. Any guesses?)

So, Measure 48 would almost certainly immediately result in a large savings fund. The Oregonian says that this savings would be $2 billion right away, after the 2007-09 budget was limited by the measure.

And this is the difference in the "ratchet:" under Measure 48, if we have a recession where receipts are down 5%, the savings account fills in the balance so that the state government grows at the poluflation rate! No ratchet!

Does the Oregonian so much as mention this feature? Nope.

So here we have it: a huge front page article plus an entire interior page devoted to comparing Colorado's Tabor to Measure 48 to see what lessons we can learn, and the most important difference between the measures, a difference that would completely prevent the ill effects the article goes to such lengths to illustrate - is not so much as mentioned in the article!

The author, Betsy Hammond, is new to the political beat. For years she was on the Oregonian's education team, where she wrote many an article that in my opinion had similar glaring biases. I occasionally pointed them out to her and we would get in some fairly heated exchanges.

When I read this kind of article, which is becoming more and more common in the pages of the Oregonian, it doesn't just anger me, but it also saddens me. Every time the Oregonian allows its place in the firmament of Oregon media to be used to so overtly support its editorial agenda, its credibility as an honest broker of information takes another hit.

That is not good for anybody. We need a statewide newspaper that takes seriously its franchise. The Oregonian is not going to lose its virtual monopoly as Oregon's only statewide daily newspaper anytime soon, and even though I find myself on the other side of the Oregonian on many ideological questions, it is important for everybody that it remains a credible source of unbaised information.

It is not in our interest - even though we conservatives disagree with the Oregonian's editorial stances more often than not - that its credibility as an honest broker of news and information completely erodes.

Articles such as this one by Betsy Hammond erode that credibility a great deal. I hope someone at the Oregonian will, for all of our sakes, take an honest look in the mirror.

Monday, October 16, 2006

How you can help

Want to do something concrete to help get Ron Saxton elected? Do you have three hours you can contribute?

Help Ron with his phone bank, calling Republicans and Independents who have not yet turned in their ballots, any time between November 3rd and election day. If you think it's low value labor, you are wrong. This election is likely to turn on GOTV. The campaign best able to make sure its core supporters actually vote will be the winner.

Democrats traditionally have the huge advantage in races that come down to GOTV, since they have the public employee union infrastructure at the ready to do the phone banking and precinct walking. So for Ron to win, we will have to provide that infrastructure for his campaign.

Three hours. Calling voters and reminding them to turn in their ballot. Choose any day: Friday November 3rd through election day, and any shift 9-12, 12-3 etc.

To sign up email or call 503-224-7722

When you sign up, post a comment here telling us that you did.

Ron has run an incredibly impressive campaign. It's up to us to help him put this thing in the end zone. I'll be there working the phones with you.

Thanks in advance for your help.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Back in town

I'm back after a week long junket to play golf on the east coast.

It's interesting to leave for a week in the middle of campaign season, and come back with a fresh perspective uncolored by the week's political manueverings and controversies.

The Oregonian endorsed Saxton today. Believe it or not, I expected this. My co-host, Marc Abrams, and I agreed that the O would likely endorse Ron; we discussed it several times. Ron has always had a very good relationship with the Oregonian editorial board, and he has made a convincing argument for change.

If there was a surprise in the text of their endorsement, it was that they declined the opportunity to rough up Ron even a little bit. I expected they would mention their discomfort at what they would say was Ron's "shift to the right," and his focus on the illegal immigration issue during the primary. But they didn't.

Will this help Ron? Yes. It will help him far more than it would have hurt him had they endorsed Kulongoski. Will it make the difference in the race? It well could.

Less than a week before the ballots go out. Re-emerging after a week out of the fray, and looking back over the week's news, the City Club debate, and the various issues that played out during the week, I think Ron is in good shape.

Kulongoski still has no message. How a guy with his political experience and his incredibly experienced staff can get to this stage in the race and not have found a defining message for his campaign is just beyond me.

Of course it could still go either way. Oregon is a blue state, which seems to be what Kulongoski is counting on. The question is whether Oregon is so blue that there is no set of cirumstances that would make it elect a Republican governor.

I like the feeling of what is going on. Ron has done what it takes to win, and if Oregon still votes D, then it truly does not want to be competitive in the world economy.

PS: for those interested in golf - I played some of the most incredible courses on this trip:

Friars Head - a new Ben Crenshaw design on Long Island. Totally natural layout on a beautiful peice of property right on Long Island Sound. Crenshaw believes in letting the golf course emerge from the natural landscape with minimal artificial interference. It is still very new (the clubhouse is not yet done) but I can assure you it will grow in reputation as it becomes known.

National Golf Links of America - a 100 year old course designed by H.B. Macdonald, perhaps the most storied golf course architect ever. Currently it ranks as #9 on Golf Digest's top 100 courses in America. MacDonald built this course as his lasting monument to the game. He searched for years for the right property to build a course of 18 holes, each inspired by one of his favorite holes in Scotland, his birth country. When I finished on the 18th hole, I walked off the green an almost bumped into Arnold Palmer, who was standing all by himself on the first tee, waiting to tee off.

Garden City Golf Course - Another old original on Long Island, truly one of the finest courses in the country. Ranks #46 on Golf Digest top 100. I had my best round here, shooting 3 over par 76.

Gulph Mills Golf Club - A Donald Ross layout outside of Philly. We were originally going to play Merion, but that fell through. One of our hosts at Garden City arranged for us to play Gulph Mills, and we were pleasantly surprised. Classic Donald Ross, who designed Pinehurst #2 and many other very famous tracks around the country. Greens reject all but the best shots, which requires a good short game, chipping from all sorts of lies and stances around the greens.

Oakmont Country Club - I've played quite a few of Gold Digest's top 100, including #1, Pine Valley, and #4, Cypress Point. Oakmont is listed as #5, but in my book it is the best golf course I have ever played. We teed off at 9:00 am in 40 degree weather with winds at 20 mph (gusts to 30.) The high temp that day was 48 degrees. Despite the conditions, I had more fun playing this course than any I can remember. The golf course kicked my butt. The greens were rolling about a 13 on the stimpmeter. Oakmont has hosted 6 U.S. Opens, and will host it again next summer. They actually have to slow down the greens when the Open comes!

It was a great week. Everything from the guys I went with to the weather to the food at these magnificent clubs to the guys who hosted us at each course - an incredible week.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

No blogging for a week

I won't be blogging for the next week.

In the meantime, maybe someone can answer a question I asked on my radio show today:

"What was the last tax increase or bond issue that the Oregonian did not support?"

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Hastert and Kulongoski

Am I going to be the first to point out the obvious parallel?

In Washington DC, Speaker Denny Hastert is under the gun because he may have been made aware a year ago of some inappropriate messages Rep. Foley sent to congressional pages. Lots of folks, most of them Democrats, are calling for Hastert to resign.

The parallel?

There is credible evidence, reported in the Oregonian and the Willamette Week, that in the early 1990's Governor Kulongoski was told about Neil Goldschmidt's rape of a 14 year old girl, and not only did he do nothing, he appointed Goldschmidt to the State Board of Higher Education as soon as he became governor!

Kulongoski, of course, denies that he knew about the rape.

According to the Oregonian, the person who "told Ted Kulongoski about Goldschmidt's secret repeatedly during the early 1990s, including when Kulongoski was state attorney general" was Fred Leonhardt, Goldschmidt's speechwriter, who was told the secret by none other than Bernie Guisto.

In addition, in 2001, when Kulongoski was planning his run for governor, Leonhardt told the secret to Kulongoski's senior political aide Steve Schneider. Schneider denies it, but Leonhardt recalls the precise time and place he told him.

If Denny Hastert is asked to resign because he was told about some inappropriate e-mails and did nothing, shouldn't we apply that same standard to Governor Kulongoski?

After all, prior to the Goldschmidt scandal breaking, Ted Kulongoski was basically the figurehead for the second Goldschmidt term as governor. NOTHING happened without Goldschmidt's approval. His business partner, Tom Imeson, was head of Kulongoski's transition team. E-mail records show that time after time Kulongoski cleared key decisions with Goldschmidt.

If Ted Kulongoski looked the other way after hearing that his political patron was a child molester, isn't that something we should know? Shouldn't Ted Kulongoski be required to answer the same questions that Speaker Hastert is answering?

I think it is time for this question to be asked, investigated, and put to rest.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Riley Poll

Mike Riley released a poll today showing a dead heat, Saxton at 39% and Kulongoski at 37%, with 20% undecided.

This is obviously good news for Ron Saxton. The poll was conducted between September 20th and 29th, which was pretty much the same time frame as three other polls - the Hibbitts and the Rasmussen showed Kulongoski with a 5% lead, and the Zogby showed him up by 2%.

Are these differences significant, or just statistical noise?

It seems logical that the difference between the Hibbitts poll and the Riley Poll is due to different methodologies in qualifying "likely voters." Hibbitts polled "2/4" voters, which means he called from a list of registered voters who have voted in two of the last four elections.

Riley used a different system. He called from a list of registered voters who have voted in at least two of three specific elections - the 2006 primary, the 2004 and 2002 general. He then went on to qualify the most likely voters by asking how likely they were to vote. Anybody who responded "somewhat unlikely" or "highly unlikely" were excluded from the sample.

On its face, this seems like a more rigorous way to poll only those people who are actually going to vote. I am not a pollster, although I have talked with Tim Hibbitts about his "2/4" methodology. He defends it as the most accurate predictor of who will vote, especially compared to the method some of the automated polls use, which is to call all registered voters and then ask them how likely they are to vote. As I recall, Hibbitts believes that there is a bias inherent in relying on the respondents to honestly and accurately tell whether or not they are going to vote.

But Riley's method is a hybrid - it uses both the voters' own history (albeit with a modification from the usual "2/4") and the respondent's answer to the "likely" question.

Is that more accurate than the simple "2/4?" I don't know. It would make intuitive sense that Riley's method would be more accurate in identifying those people who will actually vote.

I talked to Mike this morning. He said that "very few" people responded "unlikely" to the qualification question, which means that the difference in Hibbitts result and Riley's result is probably due to the difference in the "2/4" and the "modified 2/3" qualification methodology.

In any event, it seems obvious that we have a very competitive race on our hands.

The C&E reports yesterday showed that Ron Saxton has far outraised Kulongoski, but Saxton has about half as much cash on hand as does the governor. Of course fundraising is hardly finished.

Saxton has started running an ad on the illegal alien issue. It is an effective ad in that it highlights the drivers license issue - which I have to think has broad appeal even among voters for whom illegal immigration is not their biggest concern.

I do wonder if it is wise to change the subject at this stage, after the "tax" ads had worked so well to bring Ron to within a few points of Kulongoski. The Governor just handed Ron the sales tax issue on a silver platter. I'd be shouting from the mountaintops that Kulongoski wants a sales tax.

The question is whether there are still undecided voters who will vote for Ron based on the illegal immigration issue, or does Ron already have those votes locked up? The other question is whether there are undecided voters who will vote Saxton based on Kulongoski supporting a sales tax.

I don't pretend to know the answers - but I'm pretty confident that Felix Schein and the Saxton team do.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Kulongoski calls for sales tax

The only thing you need to know about the first gubernatorial debate that aired last night was that Ted Kulongoski reaffirmed that he wants a sales tax.

"You're darned right I do!" I think was the exact quote.

Ok then.

Sounds as if the Governor has give Ron Saxton everything he needs to go over the top.

Thanks, Guv.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Hibbitts poll

Tim Hibbitts released a poll today showing Kulongoski with a 5 point lead, 43% to 38%.

I have a ton of respect for Hibbitts work and so I have no doubts about the accuracy of what his polls shows. I know Tim a little bit, and I can say without any reservation that his polling data is of the highest standard.

A five point Kulongoski lead at this point in the campaign is both good and bad news for both Kulongoski and Saxton - which means there is something there for both candidates to both spin and dread.

Five weeks out and Kulongoski is far away from a majority. That is not good news for him. There are 12% undecided - which normally breaks disproportionately to the challenger.

On the other hand, Saxton has had the airwaves to himself for three or four weeks, and he is still 5% behind. Kulongoski's ads have just started, and it won't be long until his negative ads start to run, which will drive down Saxton's support. You can make the argument that Saxton would have needed to be in the lead after having the TV airwaves to himself if he were going to pull it out.

Bottom line, this race is very competitive. Tim Hibbitts says he thinks Kulongoski is still the favorite, and I have a hard time disagreeing. But favorites get beat all the time.

Don't fall into the trap of presuming that Tim Hibbitts' poll is inaccurate or ideologically biased. It isn't. He is a consummate professional. And he is also one of the most astute anylists of the Oregon political scene. You can trust that his data is an accurate reflection of current reality, period.

If you would have told Ron Saxton three months ago that Ben Westlend was going to withdraw from the race and Mary Starrett was going to jump in the race, but he was still going to be only down by 5 points at this point, I'll bet he'd be thrilled.

So it is a very competitive race. Fasten your seat belts.

Update: 6:30 am Sept. 28

The minor party candidates have gathered about 9% of the vote between them. Mary Starrett is at 4%. I never thought her candidacy would be anything but a fringe vanity candidacy, and it looks like it's not. It's hard to make an argument that she'll climb from here. She had her moment in the spotlight when the media tried to trump her up as a spoiler, but in the end she'll get just a tad more than the Green Party and Libertarian candidates.

Her candidacy does give us a good idea of how many hard core single issue abortion voters there are in Oregon, and I am glad to see there aren't that many. Not because I disdain the pro-life part of the Republican party - I don't. I'm one of them.

Starrett's candidacy, despite her protestations to the contrary, was always about the abortion issue and the abortion issue alone. She tried to catch on with voters by making the absurd-on-its-face argument that there isn't any difference between Ron Saxton and Ted Kulongoski, so she was the only true conservative in the race.

While I realize she made this claim to try and shed her single issue reputation, the problem is that nobody bought it. Ron Saxton has done a very good job of defining the substantial differences between himself and the Governor. To claim there's not a dime's worth of difference between them does nothing but marginalize the person making the claim.

Which is where Mary Starrett seems to be ending up - a marginal candidate who attracts the single issue abortion voters. It doesn't really affect the race because Saxton wasn't going to get these voters anyway.

Saxton and open enrollment

Front page ariticle in the Tribune yesterday, picked up by the Oregonian today, is making a big deal out of basically nothing.

Ron Saxton, it seems, wanted to get his son Andy into Lincoln High Schools International Baccalaurate program, but they lived in the wrong part of town for him to automatically qualify. So, the Saxtons moved into an apartment in the right part of town for a year to establish the proper residency for the school.

At the same time he filed to run for school board, and he used his old address as his permanent residency (which he fully intended to move back into as soon as it was within the rules for him to do so.)

The newspapers and the Democrats are making a big deal out of this.

Two issues here:

1) Did he act improperly in filing to run for school board under his old (permanent) address even though he was living in the apartment? No, say the Secretary of State's office. At the time, Ron even checked it all out with the SOS and the school district, and was told that it was OK.

2) Is it OK for a person with the means to move to access a desired program for his son?

#1, it seems, is not even an issue, even though my friend Jack Bog seems to want to hang him for it. He asked everybody about it at the time and got the OK, and even now the powers that be say it was OK.

#2, it seems, is something that is ENTIRELY consistent with Ron Saxton's education message. He wants to give EVERY child the chance to do what he was able to do because he had the means. It strikes him as unfair that just because he has money, he is able to work within the established rules to use that money and gain access to the program he wants for his kid.

Ron Saxton supports open enrollment, which would mean a kid in NE Portland could attend a Beaverton school without having to get the permission from a bureaucrat. So that parent wouldn't have to move to Beaverton just so his kid could attend the school of his choice.

So, far from being a liability in this campaign, Ron Saxton should use this issue to point out that school district boundaries are a leading cause of inequities in the school system. He should make the point that it is totally unfair that right now, only parents such as he, who have financial means, have the ability to send their kids to the school of their choice.

The system traps everyone else. That might be convenient for the bureaucrats, but it is not they who are the primary customer of the public school system!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

$70,000 welfare families

The big news yesterday wasn't that Ted Kulongoski proposed yet another tax (this time an 85 cent hike in cigarette taxes.) No, that is pretty much a weekly event, and is becoming entirely unremarkable as the Governor appears hell-bent on proving Ron Saxton's claim that he is a one-trick tax and spend pony.

No, the real news was in how he proposed using the $150 million or so that he claimed the tax increase would yield: he wants to lure upper-middle class families into depending on state welfare programs.

The Governor proposes to provide free health care for the children of any family making $40,000 or less, and subsidize on a sliding scale families up to $70,000.

Last time I looked, a $70,000 family income was well above the average in Oregon. To suggest that families of this level of income should have direct subsidies from the state reveals an awful lot about Kulongoski's view of the appropriate role of government in a free society.

I hope Ron Saxton uses this opportunity to not just oppose the tax (which he already has) but to also have the philosophical discussion and point out the dramatic difference between he and the Governor in their views on what the state government should be doing.

If I was Ron Saxton I'd be willing to just put it on the line. Place an all-in bet: if Oregonians think families with $70K incomes should be subsidized, vote for Ted. If not, vote for Ron.

Because if a majoirty of Oregonians think such families should be subsidized, then Ron shouldn't want to lead this state anyway - it is beyond hope.

Monday, September 25, 2006

A whole lotta nerve

In Governor Kulongoski's recent radio and TV ads, he takes bows for Jessica's Law.

What chutzpah! All last session he sat idly by while the Democrat senate majority leader Kate Brown bottled the bill up. Kulongoski did absolutely nothing to get the bill moved out of the senate.

The only reason they passed the bill in the special session was because they wanted to take it off the table for the upcoming election cycle. Signatures were being collected to put it on the ballot, and rather than let Republicans hammer Democrats on the issue during the elections, they made it part of the special session deal (in which Repblicans, as usual, got totally worked.)

So for Ted Kulongoski to make Jessica's law a centerpiece of his very first campaign ad is cynical in the extreme. I hope Ron Saxton jumps all over Teddy on this issue in the debates.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Saxton has pulled even

Ron Saxton has gained a ton of momentum in the last few weeks. His campaign has zeroed in on what I believe is the winning message: taxes.

Kulongoski is a serial tax hiker, and Ron Saxton will not raise your taxes.

The Kulongiski camp is squealing about Ron's latest TV ads which say Ted supports a sales tax and keeping the kickers. Kulongoski says he is no longer proposing these things so it is unfair for Ron to hang them around his neck.

Sorry, dude. You don't get to run away from positions you took just a few short months ago. It is absolutely fair game for Ron to tell voters that Ted supports a sales tax and keeping the kicker.

The tax issue, I have said for months, is the winner in this race. This election will swing, as usual, on the independent voter. Most independents are fiscal conservatives, but are independent because they are uncomfortable with the social conservative platform of the Republican party. That is why Republican candidates regularly get 45% of the vote while Republican issues such as Measures 37, 38 and 40 get 60%.

Ron Saxton aligns himself directly with this 60% of the voters when he speaks strongly against higher taxes. The voting public is in no mood for higher taxes, but Kulongoski seemingly can't help himself - he keeps proposing new taxes.

Tomorrow should be fun. On the heels of his campaign complaining about Saxton's TV ads, Kulongiski is apparently going to propose a big health care initiative, paid for by a hike in cigarette taxes!

He's trying to change the subject so he can talk about something the D's have an adavantage in, but he proposes a new tax to pay for it? This gives Saxton a perfect avenue to keep the subject on taxes.

"Stop me before I tax again!"

Is it a coincidence that if you spell "Saxton" backwards, it almost spells "no taxes?"

Friday, September 22, 2006

They simply cannot be parodied

Several years ago I wrote a parody for BrainstormNW Magazine that applied the arguments against abstinence-only sex education to drug education.

I argued, tongue in cheek, that we ought to teach kids how to use drugs safely, because they are going to do it anyway, even if we tell them not to. (This essentially is the argument the "safe sex" advocates use.)

I of course thought I was being absurd. Who would ever support teaching kids how to safely use drugs?

The Oregon Department of Education, that's who.

Hat tip to Daniel at the Daniel's Political Musings blog - the Oregon Department of Education has a very helpful FAQ on AIDS that tells kids where to buy needles and what is the proper concentration of bleach to use when cleaning shared needles.

Below is the parody I wrote back in 2000. I never imagined that they would actually do what I suggested.

Practice Safe Drug Use

In Oregon, schools are rightly required to have an AIDS curriculum in every grade K-12. But Oregon’s AIDS prevention efforts leave a gaping hole that risks the well being of our children.

Many Oregon districts, thankfully, have beat back the groups who insist the schools teach "abstinence only" sex education curriculum. Indeed, it is irresponsible to not teach kids about safe sexual practices, since a good percentage of them will almost certainly be sexually active, despite so-called "abstinence" training.

Denying kids access to good information and the tools to practice safe sex - birth control and disease prevention - will save many unwanted pregnancies -- and many cases of sexually transmitted disease.

This entails teaching kids about the emotional and health risks – as well as the pleasures – of sex. Schools rightly offer non-judgmental counseling for students considering becoming sexually active or considering an abortion, as well as frank classroom discussion about human sexuality and sexual practices. And yes, schools make available condoms.

Denying that kids will be sexually active, or pretending that abstinence-only education will prevent them from doing so, is a head-in-the-sand attempt by a small segment of society to impose its values on everyone else. It does so at the expense of unwanted children, and preventable disease. Ruined lives.

But these AIDS prevention efforts only go halfway. We know for a fact that the vast majority of AIDS infections come from two high risk behaviors, not just one: unprotected sex and shared-needle intravenous drug use.

Educators have shown the political toughness to ignore the "abstinence only" crowd and teach safe sex, but they cling slavishly to an "abstinence-only" (Just Say No!) drug education policy.

They do so at the tragic cost of the spread of preventable AIDS cases.

It is indisputable that a good percentage of kids will experiment with drugs, even with the school telling them to abstain. Pretending we can keep them from doing so is as much a head-in-the-sand approach with drugs as it is with sex.

Denying kids access to good information and the tools to use drugs as safely as possible will save lives, prevent future addictions, and minimize the spread of AIDS from needles.

Yes, as with sex education, this entails teaching kids about various drugs, appropriate dosages, and the effects, the risks –and the pleasures - involved with drug use. As with sex education the schools should offer non-judgmental counseling for students considering using drugs. There should be frank classroom discussion about drug use, and schools should distribute sterile needles for those students who choose to use intravenous drugs.

Why do school officials think they can dissuade kids from taking drugs but not from having sex? Perhaps they just lack the courage - or the intellectual honesty - to apply to drug education the same reasoning they apply to sex.

Or vice versa.