Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Funny Paper: OHSU Apologist

Right on cue, The Funny Paper provides cover for the OHSU swindlers. They wrote a kid-glove editorial, saying, essentially, "things are on the right track now."

The Funny Paper was complicit in the swindle. They failed to scrutinize the ridiculous claims of 10,000 biotech jobs, and cheerled as OHSU borrowed (then wasted) $200 million in "Oregon Opportunity Funds," and built their shrine to Peter Kohler.

It was all based not just on lies, but on easily detected lies. Only because The Funny Paper ran interference could they have perpetrated this swindle.

And now we get the editorial, saying all will be OK. Nobody held accountable, again.

Dr. Peter Kohler drove the institution toward an ambitious vision as an economic development dynamo that would power an emergent biotech sector in Portland, but Robertson must focus on tying up some of Kohler's loose ends.

LOOSE ENDS? That's how they characterize it? Kohler sold a bill of goods, and they are losing $50 million a year, and The Funny Paper acts as if it is just a couple of details that aren't quite tied down to complete his vision.

Then we are treated to the apologia:
Even if OHSU never becomes quite the biotech dynamo that some proclaimed, it can strengthen its role as an anchor in the city's economy and the region's medical infrastructure. The region has a lot invested in its success.

What a laugh! Even if it doesn't "quite" create 10,000 jobs! How about ONE?

The fact is, the whole OHSU/South Waterfront swindle was basically the Neil Goldschmidt Mafia's capstone boondoggle, and The Funny Paper should be held accountable for its role in allowing it to happen.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Blue Oregon BlueBlockers

How could it be that the political earthquake that threatens the governing authority of Ted Kulongoski has gone without comment at the leading Oregon liberal political blog,

Everyone saw the news. Fred Leonhardt's story was corroborated by about 15 different sources. There is only one holdout - only one person who Leonhardt says he told who denies it: Governor Kulongoski.

But over at BlueOregon, not a single post or comment when it becomes ever more apparent that the Governor protected a child molester. Not even a rebuttal. No, the release of the Guisto report was the occasion only for a BlueOregon thread on Senator Wyden's new twins and a post lamenting that Keith Olberman might not be so easy to watch on Comcast.

Go ahead, BlueOregon. Ignore the story. That worked out great for the Oregonian.

OHSU - Oregon Hospital Scam Unreported

This is so typical.

Dr. Peter Kohler, former head of OHSU, sold this city a bill of goods. He talked of 10,000 new biotech jobs if the city went through with plans to build the tram and the shrine at South Waterfront, and if Oregonians approved the $200 million bond to finance OHSU's research expansion.

Lots of us knew it was total BS. BrainstormNW Magazine even wrote a cover story exposing the fraud. But the Funny Paper cheerled as usual, and barely even noticed when not a single actual biotech job ever surfaced.

Now, four years later, we read in the Funny Paper that OHSU is losing money fast, and that the Chief Financial officer has been warning for years that a "financial meltdown" was likely. Yet during this entire time, OHSU continued to push ahead on a $60 million tram, a new office building at SoWhat, the $200 million bond, and a new research center on the Schnitzer property.

Kohler, of course, is long gone. He knew when to get out. They papered over their cash flow losses by selling the Oregon Graduate Institute propery - a great way to make ends meet. Kohler escapes after running the place into the ground, but not before accepting all his awards and getting a building named after him.

Where was the Funny Paper when Kohler predicted that he could goose up research grants enough to cover his profligate spending? OHSU was in the red for years, and they kept the pedal to the metal on spending, cannibalizing their capital assets to cover the losses.

Go read that Brainstorm story. Every single element of the OHSU scam was debunked. Local venture capitalist Ralph Shaw is quoted extensively in the article, challenging the specifics of what OHSU was claiming. He was summarily dismissed, by all the OHSU brass, the PDC brass, and all the polticians. "Too negative." "Skunk at the party."

No one actually addressed his very specific criticisms, of course. He knows so much more about all this stuff than those idiots that they would never take him on on specifics. You get quotes like Jim Francesconi: "Ralph’s defining the problem, but I need some solutions.” That doesn't mean anything - the "solution" is to not spend a billion public dollars on a foolish investment!

And all along the way, from the Funny Paper, not a whisper. It's not as if it was hard to figure out. Brainstorm had the story in 2003. It was common knowledge that they were out of money. Just another scam, covered up by the Funny Paper of record.

So very typically Portland.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Closing in on the Governor

So the Guisto report is out, and it is not good news for Ted Kulongoski.

Guisto admitted to investigators that he told Fred Leonhardt about Neil Goldschmidt's sexual abuse of the girl. Leonhardt's story on this important piece of the puzzle - previously denied by Guisto - has been confirmed.

Why is this bad for Ted? Leonhardt was on of Kulongoski's close friends and confidants. This was early 1990's, after Goldschmidt was no longer governor, and Kulongoski was planning a run for Attorney General, and Goldschmidt was his primary political patron.

Wouldn't it strain credulity to for Leonhardt to know about Goldschmidt's secret and NOT tell Kulongioski? Your very close friend is planning a run for statewide office, using the influence of the former Governor. You know the former governor is a child molester, and the story could get out, and you wouldn't tell your friend?

Of course you would. Of course Leonhardt told Kulongoski.

Which means that Ted Kulongoski knew the story, but used Goldschmidt's influence to further his career anyway. And when he became governor, he appointed Goldschmidt to the State Board of Higher Education!

(I'm sure Neil was pissed - he likes younger girls. He probably wanted to be on the K-12 State Board!)

It will be interesting to see what moral and mental gymnastics the BlueOregon crowd does on this now.

Face it: Our Honorable Governor protected a child molester for his own career advancement.

Wonderful, wonderful people who run our government.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Should we let Iran get the bomb?

There's an interesting thread over at, in which Jack Bogdanski laments Dick Cheney's increasingly definitive statements that we will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear bomb. He predicts we will be bombing them by Christmas.

I asked if we should just allow Iran to get the bomb. I think it's a pretty reasonable question. I sure don't relish the thought of another armed conflict, but seriously - we are just going to sit back and let that madman have a nuclear weapon? The guy who has made it very clear that he wants to wipe Israel off the face of the map?

I was surprised by some of the responses to my question. They said, basically: Of course!

Iran is a sovereign nation, they say, and we have no right to dictate to them that they can't have the bomb.

I especially like this comment:

"Who the hell died and made us God. What would we do if France told us "no more war without UN approval." We would tell them to kiss off. Iran is a sovereign nation that has the right to do what it wants to do. If the international community deems their actions inappropriate, then the international community can take action."

On the one hand he says we would tell France to kiss off if they told us we needed UN approval to go to war, but he then says basically that the only way we could intervene in Iran is with the "international community" agrees! Which is it?

It is pretty frightening to me that this kind of thinking is apparently widespread. Rogue states like Iran have the right to get nuclear weapons? I am afraid that every Democrat candidate for President would actually let it happen.

Seems to me that when Ahmadinejad says he wants to wipe out Israel, we ought to take him seriously. And that means we can't let him have the means to fulfill his plans.

I wonder what these folks would say if Ahmadinejad got a nuke and lobbed it over to Tel-Aviv? So sorry!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Did Gordon sell the bottom?

On the trading floors that I used to work on in the investment banking industries, one of the worst sins was to "sell the bottom."

That's when a trader has a "long" position in something - he buys a treasury bond future, currency, option, or whatever - and the market moves against it. The pain starts, and grows with every tick the position moves down. The trader hangs on, hoping the market will come back. The pain intensifies. He still believes in his position, but the market seems to say otherwise, and he starts to question his own judgment.

The market moves further, and the pain gets excruciating. The trader now has lost his compass: the position seemed so correct at the start, but now, all he can see is reasons why he was wrong. He talks to other traders, asks their opinion, substitutes their opinion for his own.

The market moves further against him, and he can stand the pain no longer. He sells.

But he doesn't just sell his position. He wants to make up for what he lost, so he takes a short position, hoping the market will keep going down so he can cover the short position at a profit, and make back some or all of what he lost.

But guess what happens? As soon as he "goes short," the market recovers, and goes up all the way past the level where he took the "long" position in the first place.

It's the cardinal sin on the trading floors - the classic "Sell-the-bottom-whipsaw."

Did Gordon Smith sell the bottom of the Iraq war?

It sure is starting to look like it. It is starting to appear as if you can mark the low point in the war in Iraq as the date that Gordon Smith made is infamous speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate. It seems that virtually since that moment, the news has gotten better from Iraq. The surge seems to be working, casualties are way, way down, and Al Qaeda is on the run.

And Gordon didn’t just “sell” his long position on the war and take his losses. He went “short” big time. He basically called the President a criminal, and even said we should “cut and run.”

So he lost on the way down, and now is losing on the way up – a classic “Sell-the-Bottom-Whipsaw.”

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Interesting exchange by a Funny Paper editor

On (Jeff) Dan apes' political blog, there was an interesting and revealing exchange between some well known conservatives and Dan Hortsch, an (retired) editor at the Funny Paper.

The blog post was about the Oregon Catalyst blog criticising the Oregon Farm Bureau for its support of Measure 49. The Oregon Catalyst post pointed out that the Farm Bureau's support of 49 was simply for economic reasons - if people can't build on rural land, farm land prices will remain low.

Dan Hortsch, in the comments section, said:

"So, in the view of Tim Lyman on The Oregon Catalyst blog, farmers, nurserymen and women and vintners cannot look out for their own economic interests. What part of "conservative" does not include business people's right to look out for their own economic interests? "

Bill Sizemore and Steve Buckstein added comments pointing out the obvious: that conservatism involves respect for property rights, and the Farm Bureau position is essentially that they want to use government regulation to restrict their neighbor's property rights, to enrich themselves.

But Dan Hortsch just didn't get it. He responds with:

"... I still don't see how in protecting their interests farmers are doing anything out of bounds. It's free market, libertarian, capitalistic political/financial maneuvering. Everyone for himself."

Very interesting and revealing. It obviously is Mr. Hortsch's mindset that it is OK to use political influence to basically steal what is not your own, and that this is part of the "free market." Just another exercise of competition in a capitalist framework.

I guess, if you believed this, you would indeed support Oregon's land use system. If I want to lock down major tracts of Oregon lands because I think they are pretty, and I have the political power to do it, that is A-OK.

But what is strange is that he misunderstands conservatism so completely that he actually thinks it is not a violation of conservative principles to use government power to steal.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

You have GOT to be kidding me!

Did you read in the Funny paper today that the State Department of Education actually forced a charter bus taking the Pendleton High School soccer team to a game in Redmond to pull over and wait for a yellow school bus to come get them and take them to the game.


Well, it seems, those big, comfortable charter coaches don’t meet the “standards” the state has for busses carrying schoolkids. Much better, for a three hour trip, to have the athletes sit in those horribly uncomfortable school bus seats. Never mind that millions of people are driven all over the country in coaches. They don’t comply with some bureaucrat’s regulation as to “window retention, roof strength, joint strength and durable seating.”

So now, when Sheldon has to travel down to South Medford for a football game, it has to endure the 2 ½ hour one way trip it in a yellow school bus. Great way to get loose for a ball game.

And here is what the state transportation bureaucrat said about it: "There's no legal authority to use those buses," said Deborah Lincoln, the director of pupil transportation for the Department of Education.

Wow. Do they take workshops in officiousness? Notice how she stated that – it reveals the perfect command and control bureaucrat mindset. It is the district that doesn’t have the legal authority to do something unless the state says it is OK. In a free society, the relationship is exactly the reverse – we are free to act as we wish unless there is some enumerated restriction on that action.

So now our local school officials are not competent to decide how to get kids to ballgames. If that is really true, why would we trust them with far more important tasks, such as teaching our kids?

It gets even better. The rules say that a district that is out of compliance with these rules has twelve months to get a plan in place to get back in compliance! A PLAN??

Bureaucrats love this kind of stuff because for them, it is job security. They monitor the plan’s development, offer assistance, then review and approve the plan, then monitor its execution. Can you imagine what a plan to stop using non-compliant busses would look like?

And of course, what would an issue like this be without the other tried and true tactic of bureaucrats everywhere: a committee. The state has appointed a 15-member “work group” to look into these bus regulations and propose “solutions,” that can be presented to the State Board of Education.

How about this: get rid of the stupid rules. That’s my plan.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Creative Capacity

No big surprise - Sam Adams is running for mayor, and barring some kind of political earthquake, the campaign will be more like a coronation.

You know what? In an odd sort of way, I actually look forward to a Sam Adams administration in Portland. I mean, sure, I am on the other side of virually every single issue that Sam believes in: global warming, peak oil, streetcars, urban renewal, density, you name it. But that fact doesn't distinguish Sam Adams from any other candidate who could possibly win the race.

I like Sam Adams. He's intelligent, not afraid to engage in debate, energetic, and he, unlike most Portland liberals, doesn't act as if it is a crime against humanity to be a conservative. He'll actually go on Lars' show and defend his views. He'll actually sub for Marc Abrams and banter with me for two hours on a Sunday morning.

Sam Adams promises to be an activist mayor - pushing all sorts of left/liberal causes and being effective in implementing his agenda. That kind of energy will be a refreshing change from the morose and moribund tone of the Potter administration.

So what if everything he'll push is wrongheaded? What do we think - that some social and economic conservative would win the race and turn Portland into Indianapolis?

Let's face it, fellow Portland-area conservatives. The lefties control this place. Might as well have a lefty leader who at least is a good guy, and makes it interesting!

So, the first "interesting" thing Sam has proposed is a major "infrastructure" investment in what he calls "Creative Capacity." He was all over the place today talking about the importance of the arts and how he will boost arts-related spending on every level.

The Creative Capacity Initiative. It's brilliant. What a great campaign theme! Who could be against that? He's gunna have a cakewalk, and he doesn't even have to talk about anything controversial!

Just what is the Creative Capacity Initiative? Here it is in Sam's words, from some Seattle on-line magazine called "Crosscut Seattle."

"Money. I want more money for science and creative efforts, organizations ... more arts and music education, especially in the elementary schools, more public support for nonprofit arts organizations, more business assistance for for-profit arts companies, and more services for artists, helping them market themselves, sell their wares, not just in Portland but outside of Portland, and assistance with affordable live/work space."

So here is my question, Mr. Mayor" You want to invest in your "creative capacity initiative." OK fine.

There is lots of government investment in infrastructure, and virtually all of it has an end product that can be measured. Road capacity. Water capacity. Sewage treatment capacity. Each and every government infrastructure investment can be measured in terms of what we spend on it and how much it yields in terms of some throughput metric.

But "creative capacity?" No way to measure it. How much money will be spent, and what increase in "creative units" will we get? How much creative throughput will there be, and what will it do for us?

Obviously, there are no answers to this question. So you, Mr. Future Mayor, are proposing, as your central campaign theme, a huge government infrastructure investment that you have no clue how or if it will yield anything whatsoever. There is no way to measure the effects or results of your proposed investment, nor is there any way to tie it back to any measurable benefit to the people of Portland.

Actually, for a liberal, it is the PERFECT issue!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Measure 49: how I would run the campaign

I have the utmost respect for Oregonians In Action, Dave Hunnicutt, Bill Moshofsky, Ross Day and the work Larry George did for years. They have accomplished more in the last few years, against great odds, than most conservative activist groups have accomplished in decades.

Their problem is that their opponents cheat, and they have the power of the government to prevent the cheaters from being held accountable. They have gotten away with it, and they are about to again, unless we win this campaign.

Here's the history:

Measure 7, the "father" of M37, passed in the year 2000. The Democrats were freaked. They got caught sleeping - M7 was one of Bill Sizemore's seven ballot initiatives he qualified for that election cycle. It had a truly beautiful ballot title: Amends Constitution: Requires Payment To Landowner If Government Regulation Reduces Property Value.

When Sizemore filed the petition and got the draft ballot title back, 1000 Friends of Oregon screwed up, and failed to submit comments on the title. Only if you submit comments on the draft title do you have standing to force the draft title to be taken up by the Supreme Court. I talked to Roberty Liberty on my radio show durng the campaign, and he admitted that he was on vacation when the draft title was issued, and so did not get comments filed by the deadline.

Sizemore knew he had a winnable title, which is more than critical - he says 60% of voters make up their mind based solely on the ballot title. Just read that title - most of people probably think that it is already the law that the government would have to pay if its regulations decreased their property value.

And sure enough, it passed. Sizemore handed the campaign over to Oregonians In Action (OIA), where Larry George did a brilliant job of maximizing the ad buy with the resources he had available. (I've worked with Larry on this kind of thing, and I can tell you that he gets about three times more exposure out of a dollar than the campaigns run by the other side.)

So Measure 7 passed, and the Democrats were furious. It was the only one of the seven Sizemore initiatives that passed, and the D's clearly thought that the result was somehow invalid. The Oregonian was beside itself - it had done its usual hatchet job on the measure, but couldn't overcome the strength of that ballot title.

So, the Democrats cheated. They conspired to throw the court case and get the measure tossed. This has been documented, by both Willamette Week and BrainstormNW Magazine.

When the lawsuit came, the state was, of course, the defendant. The measure was now law, and a lawsuit to throw it out on some basis is a lawsuit against the governor.

But guess what our governor, Kitzhaber, did? He met with his lawyers (the AG's office) and the plaintiff, to script how the lawsuit would be handled how to get the judge they wanted, when to file the various motions, and which Assistant AG would handle the case for the government!

This should be a criminal offense. Yet, the Oregonian and other state newspapers were completely disinterested, because they thought Measure 7 was somehow invalid, and so I guess it was OK to cheat to get it tossed.

The AG who handled the case, David Schumer, put up an entirely feckless defense, failing to introduce material evidence, and failing to object to obviously invalid evidence from the plaintiffs. He got rewarded for doin Kitzhaber's bidding - shortly after Measure 7 was tossed, he got appointed a plum judgeship.

So, they cheated to throw out Measure 7.

So OIA did it again, with Measure 37 in 2004. This time with a statutory measure that was not vulnerable on the grounds Measure 7 was tossed. They again ran a great campaign, and again were treated to an hysterical Oregonian onslaught - and won by a 60% - 40% landslide.

The only question was: how will they cheat to throw it out this time?

Well, they found a judge - Mary Merten James. She tossed it, but her "legal reasoning" (called "brilliant" by the Oregonian) was so incredibly stupid and flawed - truly laughble - that even the Oregon Supreme Court couldn't stomach the farce, and they overturned it on a unanimous vote!

That was an incredible rebuke to a sitting judge. A unanimous vote to overturn a decision on a high profile case such as this is akin to accusing her of corruption. But this is Oregon. Such corruption gets rewarded, not punished.

So it looked like Measure 37 would survive, but then the Democrats took over both houses of the legislature, giving them the opportunity to cheat once again. And that is why we are voting on this issue for yet a third time.

The Democrats have referred to voters a measure that repeals Measure 37 and replaces it with a scheme that appears on its face to allow some people the right to build some houses on their property, but that actually would be so bureaucratic and litigous that it would allow the government to steal our property value just as before Measure 37 passed.

This time, they cheated by circumventing the usual process for determining the ballot title. Instead of going through the usual process: draft ballot title issued by the AG, comment period, certified title, and appeal to the Supreme Court - the Democrats poll tested the wording for the title that would have the best chance of passing, and wrote that title right into the enabling legislation!

Here is the title:

Modifies Measure 37; Clarifies Right To Build Homes; Limits Large Developments; Protects Farms, Forests, Groundwater

Guess what the AG's draft ballot title said for the exact same measure when OIA subitted it, in order to make the point that the Democrats were cheating:

Modifies Measure 37 (2004); Limits Number Of Homesites Permitted By Waivers; Requirements For New Claims

OK, so where does that leave us? I headlined this post "How I would run the campaign" and then I spent a couple thousand words giving background. I did that because I think this background is necessary to understand my strategy for winning this thing.

My premise is that the Democrats have cheated, and if the vote is based on this ballot title, they will win. It has already been poll tested, and even our side's polls have it above 60%.

To me, that means we cannot win this thing based on the merits of the phony ballot title. No matter how much we try to tell everybody that it doesn't do what is says it does, we can't reach enough voters with this rather involved argument.

We need something simpler, a message that we CAN reach enough voters with; something that is conducive to a short, repeated message that will turn them against the measure.

What would that be? We know voters in Oregon HATE it when the legislature asks them if they "really meant it." When Oregonians pass something by the ballot, and the refers the same question back to them, it usually is reaffirmed by a larger margin. It happened with Death With Dignity (Measure 50 in 1998.)

So I think the only hope for victory is to run a "How Dare They!" campaign.

For instance:

Narrator: "Back in the year 2000, voters were asked if the government should be able to regulate away their property value. You answered:" [Sound of a large group of people, in unison, shouting "NOOOOOOOOO!"]

Narrator: "But the enemies of property rights got the courts to overturn your will. So, in 2004, you were asked again. Did you really mean it? Do you think the government should be able to regulate away your property value? You answered even louder: [Sound of an even larger mob of people, in unison, higher volume, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!]

Narrator: "But they refuse to listen to you! Now they have the gall to ask you again! Measure 49 asks you for a third time whether you really, really, really meant it. You really don't think the government should be able to regulate away your property value?

How dare they ask you again! Why won't they listen to you?

Well, I guess we are going to have to tell them, once again, louder than before. Will you vote for Measure 49, so the government can once again regulate away your property value?"

[Sound of an even larger mob - a huge crowd - yelling "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!]

That is the type of campaign and ad that I think might have a chance to overcome that ballot title. We have won this issue on its merits twice already, so the Democrat simply drafted a ballot title that makes it hard to argue the issue on its merits.

So we have to define the question, in a way that stirs the passions of the voters. I think the "How Dare They" campaign is the best way to do it.