Friday, February 29, 2008

Phony outrage over the Merkley story

Over at BlueOregon, there’s a post criticizing Willamette Week for running with the Merkley story even though it was (supposedly) “sole-sourced.”

The implication is that Beth Slovic somehow has breached journalistic ethics by going with a story on the word of one person. What the author glosses over is that my information was pretty much confirmed by Merkley’s campaign manager. I say “pretty much,” because what Merkley’s manager did was the classic obfuscation non-denial, which in journalist circles is pretty much always considered a confirmation with damage control.

So, what Beth Slovic did was check out a source’s claim, and have it confirmed. Nothing unusual there.

In the comments section of the post, one guy (anonymous, but almost certainly a Merkley campaign staffer, based on the extensiveness of the post) takes me to task for revealing supposedly private information. He wrote:

"Fact #6 - Rob Kremer has held himself out as someone trustworthy enough to hold public office in the field of education. I can't think of an area where respecting confidentiality is more important than the field of education. To date, no one has written a story about this egregious violation of privacy by a very public person. (In addition, every parent and student at this charter school should ask if their privacy will be thrown under a bus if the school finds it useful at a later time.")

I love this! “Egregious violation of privacy!” Oh the outrage!

I seem to remember when I was “holding myself out as someone trustworthy enough to hold public office in the field of education,” that I was constantly hammered by the Teachers Union and my opponent for the fact that my kids were in private school. The implication being that it was hypocritical for someone to run for Sup’t of Public Instruction whose kids attended private school. (Of course, nobody could imagine that perhaps it was our family’s experiences with our public schools that both drove us to private schools AND motivated me to run for that office to improve the shortcomings we saw firsthand.)

But I didn’t think it was off base for that to be pointed out, and I dealt with that question many times on the campaign trail.

So I find it pretty funny that there would be so much outrage that Merkley has to defend the same question.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Jeff Merkley, Charter School Supporter

In the Willamette Week today: In 2004, Jeff Merkley applied to enroll his child in an Arthur Academy charter school.

Is this a big deal? I sure don’t think so.

Politicians change their minds all the time, and there are lots of Democrats who have changed their mind on charter schools.

Merkley voted against the original charter school bill in 1999, but to my knowledge he hasn’t had the opportunity to cast a vote since then that would reveal whether he now supports charters or not. So I wouldn’t call him a hypocrite – he just changed his mind, and he realizes now that charter schools are a perfectly valid public education option.

And to that I say: welcome, Jeff Merkley, to the growing ranks of charter school supporters!

I was the source of the story for Willamette Week, and over on their site, I’m getting hammered by some commenters who think I somehow did something unethical by “revealing” that he applied to Arthur Academy.

I don’t think so. I never thought it was that big of a deal. And this is not secret information. He applied back in 2004, and I was actually very pleased that we obviously had a convert to the movement. We didn’t get the school opened that year because our facility fell through, so the Merkley application was never processed. If we had opened the school, his application would have been in the lottery with all the others.

Several months ago, I think after Merkley announced he was running for Senate, I mentioned it to Nigel Jaquiss at the Willamette Week in one of our regular conversations. They ran the story this week, I guess because they thought it was an interesting issue just before the OEA did their endorsement in the Senate race. The fact that Merkley supports charters is indeed a newsworthy issue in this context.

What has been amazing is the incredible statements we have heard from the OEA folks. My friend Laurie Wimmer-Whelan told the WillyWeek that “she thinks teachers can separate Merkley's public record from his private actions.”

I guess this would have to mean that it is OK with the OEA that Merkley take advantage of school choices for his own kids as long as he votes to deny these options for everyone else. He gets a pass, I guess, because he is one of the elites. As long as he keeps voting to protect the union’s monopoly and keep everyone else’s kids trapped in a school that is not of their choice, forcing them to go to an OEA run school – he’s good to go!

I hope the truth of the matter is that Merkley is not a hypocrite at all. He may have voted no on the original bill back in 1999, but he now supports charters.

Which is why I say: Welcome to the charter movement, Jeff Merkley!


Article in The Funny Paper today how Latino youth in high schools are finding great purpose in the Hispanic advocacy group MEChA, and are supposedly opening up the club to non-Hispanic students.

This is their second prominent article in as many months touting the remaking of this racist, separatist Hispanic organization into a student school based club at high schools and universities. I wrote my January column in BrainstormNW Magazine about it.

The Funny Paper seems to want to convince us that MEChA has changed its ways, that it is no longer just a group for radical Hispanic youth, but that now anybody can join.

The articles is headlined: “At MEChA, everyone can be Chicano.”

The sub-headline reads: “Group - Once criticized as racist, the student club now welcomes all, saying Chicano is a philosophy, not a race.”

The reporter, showing typical Funny Paper skepticism, apparently just took their word for it, and didn’t dig into what they mean by “Chicanismo” being a philosophy. If he had, he would have found on the group’s national web site an “explanation” of exactly what they mean:

"Chicanismo is a concept that integrates self-awareness with cultural identity, a necessary step in developing political consciousness. Therefore the term Chicano is grounded in a philosophy, not a nationality. Chicanismo does not exclude anyone, rather it includes those who acknowledge and work toward the betterment of La Raza."

So, anyone can be a "Chicano," as long as you work for the betterment of the chosen race? (La Raza.) Not a very convincing statement of inclusion and tolerance. And then they lurch right back to their trademark separatism:

"Chicanismo involves a personal decision to reject assimilation and work towards the preservation of our cultural heritage."

Sorry, I am unconvinced that the rapid spread of MEChA clubs in our high schools is such a great thing. Why does The Funny Paper want to lie to us about what this club is really about?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

More on the teacher-predators

The more I think about our public school officials protecting teachers who molest kids and sending them off to molest kids in other districts, the madder I get.

I heard a few politicians talking about the problem over the last 24 hours. Majority Leader Dave Hunt was on the Victoria Taft Show last night, and he was talking in even tones about doing this and that to deal with the problem. He said we could fund more TSPC investigators, and he talked about some other changes the legislature made in 2007.

But what he didn't address: Who is going to hold the public officials accountable who knowingly protected these predators, and gave them a pass so they could molest again? The Oregonian found several dozen cases where such deals were made.

I want to know every single district where this happened, and the names of every one of the superintendents, local union president, and school board members who were party to these decisions, so the public has a full understanding of the unconscionable breach of public trust by these supposed guardians of our childrens' well being.

Dave Hunt acted as if this was a techinical foul-up of some sort, some kind of loophole that needs fixing. It's not - it's adults protecting themselves and their interests at the expense of the kids.

THAT is what we have to keep pointing out, and if that puts the Dave Hunts of the world in a tough spot, well, GOOD!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Children as livestock

Another great example of the attitude of your run-of-the-mill public school educator about the kids: an article in the Register-Guard about on-line charter schools, and whether they should be allowed to enroll kids across district boundaries.

“I call this poaching,” said Bob De La Vergne, superintendent of the Coos Bay School District. “It drains the system.”

It couldn't be much clearer - he thinks of children as captives, his district's exclusive property that exist to feed the system, rather than to be educated. If the parents think the kids will be better served in the charter school, they must be stopped, because "the system" is a higher priority.

Aren't you glad you'll be funding this esteemed "educator's" retirement to the tune of about $90K per year until he dies?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Teacher molesters

Kudos to the Oregonian for an excellent series on how the public schools handle teachers who have abused students. In short, in several hundred cases the Oregonian found, Oregon's schools do pretty much what the Archdiocese got sued for: cover it up and pass the employee to another location.

It's unconscionable, and it is a stark illustration of how much the school system is set up to benefit the adults rather than the children. Teacher gets caught with inappropriate contact with a student, and rather than go throught the expensive and time consuming process to discipline him, the district allows him to leave and agrees not to give a bad reference.

Off he goes to molest again. Imagine being the parent of a daughter who was molested by a teacher who had been passed along like this because the district didn't want to bother with the hassle of doing what they should. I would be murderous, I can tell you.

It is made even more outrageous given that these school officals are all mandatory reporting personnel - they are required by law to report any suspicion of child abuse. But when it's their employee, not only do the fail to report it, but they actively cover it up so the molester can find more victims!

Today the House Republicans tried to introduce a bill to deal with this problem, and the Democrats balked. The bill would have required a rules change, and the D's refused. They called it a cheap political stunt, but in my view they look horrible - standing by their teacher union puppetmasters, kicking the kids under the school bus.

This must be fixed. It's one of those rare issues that is not only the right thing to do, but it is a great politcal issue because the Democrats will only go along kicking and screaming, revealing where their loyalties REALLY lie.

Monday, February 18, 2008

They think you are cute

Read the dismissive tone of this post on BlueOregon about the Conservative Majority Project.

Then come back here and click the button to the right, and send the CMP a contribution.

The Northern Illinois shooter

When I first heard about yet another college campus mass murder, I thought: "I'll lay odds that this guy had recently stopped taking a psychotropic drug."

For several days all I read was what a mystery it was that a guy who was a good student, had a girlfriend, was liked by other students and his professors would do something like this.

Then I read a short blurb in the paper quoting his girlfriend, who mentioned in an almost offhand way, after saying what a great, caring, sensitive guy he was, that he didn't like the effects of the anti-depressents he was taking, so he stopped taking them.


Why is there such reluctance to point this out? So many of the school shootings, both college and high school, have been associated with psychotroic drugs (especially the withdrawal from them) that it is pretty clearly not a coincidence. Look at the research abotut he side effects of drugs like Luvox, Effexor and Paxil - the FDA is considering enhancing its warning labels on these drugs to identify the enhanced risks of suicidal thoughts among young adults who take them. Those warnings already exist for adolescents.

The FDA research on these drugs shows that depending on the drug, from about .5% to 1% of people taking it will have a side effect of "mania" or "hypomania," described as "a terrible form of insanity including symptoms of sexual compulsions, criminal behavior, alcohol cravings, rages leading to domestic violence, delusions of grandeur -- often mistaken for increased self confidence, wild spending and varied types of criminal behavior."

Why are we surprised when another shooting happens? Why does the media feign confusion over why someone would do such a thing? Why do they not look FIRST to the question of psychotropic drugs? Why are they so reluctant to lay these atrocities at the doorstep of the psychiatric profession?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Conservative Majority Project

I am heading up a new political action committee whose goal it is to bring about a conservative majority in the legislature. It’s called the Conservative Majority Project, and it seeks to bring to bear the fundraising power of the Netroots upon selected legislative races.

Contrary to popular opinion, the Republican Party is not dead in Oregon. We are barely in the minority in the House, and there is a good chance the next governor will be a Republican.

I’ve teamed up with Jared McKinney, a young guy with grass-roots political experience way beyond his years, to help make the Republican party once again a majority party in Oregon through the fundraising power of the Netroots.

We need your help. Please go to the web site and contribute what you can. We’ve seen the power of this kind of fundraising; it can make a huge difference. If you are a blogger, please consider linking to our site and encouraging your readers to donate.

Our strategy will be to select a careful few races where there is a reasonable prospect of picking up a legislative seat, and where our resources and tactical campaign expertise can perhaps make the difference.

We are not simply going to be channeling funds to candidates shotgun-style. We will apply our resources in a thoughtful way where we have reason to believe that either we can be the difference in the Republicans holding a seat, or, better yet, picking a seat up.

We will not be interested in candidates unless they are true conservatives. We understand that our party must be a big tent, and that means in some districts, only a less conservative Republican can win. That is fine – but we will almost certainly not be involved in these races.

There is also a chance that we can find a large donor to match donations we receive from the Netroots. We are working on this, and will announce it when we seal the deal.

It is vitally important that Republicans control at least one chamber of the legislature – we have seen what happens when the Democrats are unchecked. I am not ready to give up. I’m not ready to concede that the 2009 session will have Republicans again in the minority.

We need to pick up two seats to control the House. Just one seat to get a tie, and be able to prevent a lot of Democrat mischief.

Please help us raise Netroots funds to bring back a Conservative Majority!

Thank you!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

31 votes of ignorance

Yesterday 31 of 31 Democrat state legislators in Oregon proved that they are utterly ignorant of the basic founding principle of our nation.

That is putting it charitably. To be less charitable, perhaps one could argue that these folks know and understand this basic founding principle, but reject it. In other words, they don't believe in America.

On the floor of the House yesterday they debated HJR 100, which basically declares affordable health care a fundamental right, and instructs the legislature to create a program to fulfill this right.

Declaring health care (or any other service government might wish to provide) as a "right" is to completely destroy the entire notion of individual rights, which quite literally is THE most fundamental underpinning of our Republic.

In our system, rights are things the government cannot do to you. They come from God, and it is the purpose of government to secure them. Rights are ALL, by definition, stated in the negative: "Congress shall pass no law abridging...."

This is the most important concept in our nations founding, because up til that time, it was assumed that the soverign was the source of rights, and the people had only such autonomy as the soveriegn saw fit to allow.

But if rights come from God, the government's relationship to the individual is quite different indeed: there are strict limits on the power of government over the individual.

So this notion of individual rights is quite literally the most important founding principle of our country. And 31 legislators, all of them Democrats, just announced that they don't believe in it.

No, they believe that a right can be something that the government must do for you. And so they voted to make affordable health care one of those rights.

When they try to explain their reasoning, things get wierd. The logic gets tortured to the point of their words becoming void of any meaning. Look what Rep. Ben Cannon said in the floor debate, pulled from The Funny Paper, explaining how he views rights:

"He said rights are grounded in allowing 'us to deliberate over and choose a good life for ourselves.' Health care is one such right."

This is utterly meaningless. He has managed to take a concept that is at the core of our founding, and tortured it to a point where it literally has no meaning. Rights are now "grounded" in "deliberation?" Anybody care to take a whack at what that might mean?

If this is all a right is, then is there anything that is NOT a right? I could argue pretty much every mundane thing in life is somehow related to my choosing a good life for myself.

This is far more than a semantic issue. It is not just nit picking definitions.

How can our rights be protected - and I mean our real rights - the rights we have FROM government actions, if our lawmakers destroy the very meaning of rights in the first place? Our nation has set itself apart from every other nation on God's green earth because our founders had the wisdom to realize that rights are vested in the individual, come from God, and put limits on the authority government has over the individual.

It is absolutely essential that this founding principle of our nation survives if we are to continue to exist as a nation. It is THE MOST IMPORTANT principle of our founding, without which we would have been in the dustbin of history along with all the other failed experiments.

And yesterday, 31 Democrat legislators told you precisely what they think of this principle. They don't believe in it, and they will actively work to change it.

In other words, they don't believe in America.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Sho Dozono being pretty evasive

Sho Dozono is running for mayor, and before he's barely started, there's already a controversy.

Dozono is qualifying for public financing, but news that a poll was done asking questions about his viability created some questions about whether he had already exceeded the limits on "in-kind contributions" for public financing candidates, and therefore had disqualfied himself.

It appears that he'll be OK, based mostly on the "on-the-fly" rulemaking on the public campaign financing system. But his explanations about the poll are very hard to follow, and make almost no sense.

Dozono says that he did not commission the poll, nor pay for the poll, but he had seen the results. That was how The Funny Paper reported it all week. You would think that such a vague answer would cause any reporter to ask the followup: "who gave you the results?"

But if it was asked, there is nothing written about his answer.

I mean, come on - someone had to give him the poll results, and whoever that is no doubt had some ties back to whoever did it. Unless maybe one of his friends just found it on the streetcorner.

There are slews of questions that anybody who was truly seeking to get the bottom of this would automatically ask: Which firm did the poll? How many questions did it entail? How large was the sample size? But apparently the crack reportage at The Funny Paper couldn't think of them.

If Dozono has nothing to hide, he would have no problem answering these questions. If he TRULY had nothing to hide, he would offer everything he knows, so he could clear the whole thing up and prove that he had nothing to do with the poll.

The way I see it, Sho has given a very evasive and unsatisfactory answer about this whole thing, and that is a bad way to start a mayoral campaign.

I could care less if he caused the poll to be done. Who would run for office without doing a poll? How plausible is it that he DIDN'T cause the poll to be done? Did someone just wake up one day and decide to commission a $10,000 poll on Sho Dozono because he was curious?

If given a choice of Sho Dozono or Sam Adams for mayor, I would vote for Sho (if I lived in Portland, which I don't.)

But it is really irritating to see Dozono default into the same posture we have seen time and again from public officials: obfuscate, tell half the story, evade - and then to have the newspaper of record put its incompetence on display once again and fail to even swerve into a relevant question about the matter that might shed some light.

If Sho Dozono handles such an insignificant issue like this with such guarded secrecy, what would his administration be like? Woould it be any better than the hacks that run city government now?

Friday, February 08, 2008

Delicious Irony

Too funny. The biofuels craze causes global warming.

A new report headlined in the New York Times and breathleslly reported on the front page of The Funny Paper says that planting and harvesting corn for biofuels has a huge net positive carbon dioxide impact!

The Funny Paper headline was even more ironic: it said that biofuels were “not a bargain.” When I read that I thought: “Hey, maybe they finally figured out that biofuels are not cost efficient!” No such luck.

The Funny Paper doesn’t care if we waste tens of millions of dollars subsidizing alternative fuels that cost more to produce than the end product is worth. That wouldn’t be news.

But if it creates greenhouse gasses? Front page news.

Not that it would have been hard to figure out. One more time: if something costs more to produce, then that means it consumes more resources to produce it. Resources always boil down to energy, in one way or another. So the fact that biofuels have a net positive CO2 footprint is a pretty obvious and unsurprising result.

Unless you have no clue at all about economics. What a bunch of dopes.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

I miss Phil Keisling

The last Democrat I voted for was Phil Keisling.

It was before I was intensly involved in Oregon politics, although I definitely was very intensely focused on politics, even then. Just as an avocation rather than vocation.

But I met Phil the first time at my next door neighbor's house, a downtown lawyer, who had Phil over for an evening coffee/fundraiser during his first re-election. It must have been 1992. I listened to him speak, and wasn't particularly impressed. Obviously bright guy, doing the campaigning thing.

We chatted before I left, he didn't know me from Adam, and he asked me what I thought of vote by mail. (It was on the ballot at the time, as I recall.)

A while later I reached out to him because I wanted to invite him to speak to a group of educators I was involved with assembling, and he was making noises about perhaps running for Sup't of Public Instruction. His office arranged a time for us to meet, and he came by the office i worked in.

We spoke for over an hour, debated, shared views, argued. We had some common ground and we differed on a lot, but I could see that this was a guy who was not afraid of ideas.

He would prove that to me time and again over the next several years, as we would regularly meet and spar over our various positions on things. Here was a guy who held a statewide office as a Democrat, but who had an enjoyment of the intellectual jousting over ideas that can only come from the confidence that he has subjected those ideas to intense intellectual scrutiny. That's why he was willing to talk them through.

We'd have these 2 hour breakfasts where we debated various things. He was always ready to test what he thought against the best arguments anyone could bring.

Where the Hell is that today? There are only a couple of Democrats I know today who are confident enough in what they believe that they are willing test it against the opposing views. Steve Novick is one. Sam Adams is another.

But for the most part, what we get is hack Democrats who retreat into the comfort of our one-party state. Bill Bradbury knows that the fix is in, so does Ted Kulongoski. Why would they expose their intellectual shortcomings?

And that is why I respect and miss Phil Keisling. He could have gone the Kulongoski route, kissed the unions' asses and maybe been governor. But he cared too much about ideas (many of which I disagree with, and many of which the unions disagree with) so he was too dangerous for the people who really run the Democrat party.

But I miss Phil Keisling.

Our Secretary of State is a crook

One of the costs of a one-party, single newspaper state is that outright corruption goes unchecked, unreported, and openly tolerated.

A prime example is in the petition lawsuit that was decided yesterday by Federal judge Mossman. Mossman probably made the correct decision on the technicalities of the question in front of him, which turned on pretty arcane questions of whether there is a constitutional right surrounding initiative petitions as there is in voting.

He said there was not, and maybe this is correct. This question has nothing to do, in my mind, with the REAL issue at hand: Bill Bradbury openly cheats, and when caught, knows that there's not a damn thing anyone can do about it.

And The Funny Paper looks the other way, because they got the result they wanted. So do all the Democrats. Ends justifies the means.

In case you don't know what I am talking about: There was an attempt to refer to the ballot the gay marriage law that passed last session. Enough signatures were excluded to barely keep it off the ballot. The problem was that lots of the signatures that were tossed were actually valid, and the people who signed them went into the county elections office and verified that it was indeed their signatures.

But the county election officials still refused to count the signatures! Even though the deadline had not even passed!

So, here is where we stand: Bill Bradbury can exclude any signature he wants from the ballot, and there is no way to challenge or appeal any one of those decisions. His determination is final. So he literally has the power to keep any initiative off the ballot, and there is no appeal, no challenge. If he says the signatures don't match, that is all that matters.

The state lawyers said that all that matters is if, in the opinion of the bureaucrat who looks at the signature, there is not a match. It doesn't matter, according to Oregon law, if the signature actually IS the person's signature. That is of "no moment" under law.

Here is why that cannot be true: that would mean that a forged signature that was traced, and therefore matched perfectly, would have to be accepted, even if the person whose signature it was told officials that they did not sign it. After all - if the only thing that matters is if the signatures match, then the forged signature is valid.


The real crime here is all the Democrats and The Funny Paper who stand silently by as our government officials simply cheat to obtain the result they want.

They are all discussing the court decision, and pretending that the constitutional question is the real issue. It's not. The real issue is integrity, and I have to question the integrity of anyone who pretends that this kind of thing is OK.