Down the Ballot

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Latest Button for 2012

Seattle for Obama pin button
Seattle for Obama pin by emk4ever

I was inspired by the opening sequence of Fraiser. 'They're Callin' Again' is part of the ending theme from the show.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

5 Presidential Candidates You Are Not Hearing About

Here is a list of 5 Presidential candidates you don't hear about very much in the press.

 Governor Gary Johnson (L-NM)

Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson entered the Republican primaries and soon found himself excluded from all but two presidential debates. Upset that it was not a fair and open process he decided it was time to leave the heard. He announced earlier this week he would seek the libertarian nomination. His campaign has raised nearly half a million dollars (as of September). Still maintain some popularity from his two terms as governor, he will make New Mexico interesting in the general election.

 Governor Buddy Roemer (R-LA)

Roemer is another Republican dark horse candidate that sadly has fallen off the media radar. Roemer also has an extensive resume with a stint in both Congress and the Louisiana State House as a Democrat and Republican. His campaign provides readers with a comparison card they drafted showing Roemer on the issues versus the other candidates. If Roemer does not fair well in the primaries there is talk that he may seek the Reform Party nomination.

 Dr. Jill Stein M.D. (G-MA)

Dr. Stein is a member of the Green-Rainbow Party of Massachusetts. In 2005 and 2008 She was elected a meeting representative for the town of Lexington. Her first campaign was in 2002 running for Governor of Massachusetts. Latley she has been trying to channel the Occupy Movement. In Boston she said "The Occupy movement is a cry for change from workers whose jobs have been shipped overseas and young people whose future is being stolen from them by politicians intent on serving Wall Street rather than the people".

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Price Index

Every year since 1984, PNC Wealth Management has kept track of the costs of purchasing each of the items mentioned in the beloved Christmas carol, The 12 Days of Christmas. Here is a graph that shows the changes in cost since 1984. The graph was found on Wikipedia.

As you can see the price of the items took a nose dive in the mid-90s, but has since risen well beyond the 1984 prices. In only three years has the price fallen below the previous year, most recently in 2002. This is all done mostly for laughs and deep thought experiments. 2011marks the first time since 1984 that will cost someone over 100,000 dollars to deliver on the entire song (note this is what PNC calls the True Cost of Christmas) If you bought the items for each of the 12 days of Christmas. 100,000 dollars is a lot of money that many of us just don't have in these tough economic times. I started thinking about if there might be a cheaper 12 days worth of gifts out there. Luckily for me Allan Sherman wrote his parody of the 12 Days!

LLewTube: Wet Liberal Whenever on the Occupy Movement

Sorry for not spreading this sooner. In this post, Wet Liberal Whenever, Bobby makes another good vid on his encounters with the Occupy movement in his neighborhood. He also discusses his meeting with some young engineers at Ferrari.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Harry Stewart and Yogi Yorgesson Christmas

Every year around this time Christmas is celebrated by millions across the world. The Christmas spirit can be seen in the music of our Christmas culture. One of my favorite Christmas traditions is to listen to Yogi Yorgesson.

Yogi was a character developed by American comedian Harry Stewart. In 1949, he recorded a single called I just go Nuts at Christmas, it was a hit! Selling over a million records. Yogi Yorgesson is Swedish guy who complains about all the family stuff that complicates Christmas. He also recorded several other Christmas related songs: Yingle Bells, and The Christmas Party and Santa at the P.T.A.
Yingle Bells (1952)

Monday, December 12, 2011

SNL Top 10 Hosts for Season 38

I can long remember the days when I would tune into Saturday Night Live every week in the 90s and early 00s to see the show and the odd ball sketches. To be honest, I have never tuned into SNL for the music, I usually just channel surf when the musical act comes on. For some reason though over the last few years I have noticed I don't tune in on a regular basis. I cherry pick which Saturday evenings I dedicate to SNL. Since I have no particular interest in who the 'Not Ready for Prime Time Players' are anymore, I mostly go by host selection.

The last episode I watched was Alec Baldwin, which was the first episode of the season. I have not tuned in for a full show since September.  I started thinking about what kind of a season lineup of hosts would make me come back watching regularly. If I had Lorne Michaels ear, I'd recommend the following persons for Season 38 next year.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Latest Button Creations

Here are two of my latest button creations for the 2012 campaign season. Since Oregon will likely not play a huge role in deciding any presidential nominee I am mostly making these for my own personal amusement.

SNL Political Ad Parodies

Saturday Night Live (SNL) over the years has brought us some great campaign ad parodies. With the campaign finance laws as loosey-goosey as they have become since the Citizens United court case ruling, I hope we can see these ads and more like them airing right along with the 'real serious' ads. At least then we might have something to look forward to on television in between the Big Bang Theory and Terra Nova.

Wade Hammond ad Texas Gubernatorial Campaign
Gary Hart for President Ad 1988 
View More Ads

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving is just the start

Hope you enjoyed everything about the day. The Oregon Civil War game is soon upon us and I have a philosophy paper due next week so you can see how my weekend will be spent.

Rest up friends, the holidays are just starting. Which reminds me of this funny little bit from Curb. May we all be as lucky as Larry this holiday season.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Go Screen Yourself: ALF Season 1

In 1986 NBC brought to life our favorite alien house guest--ALF. The basic premise of the show starts off almost like any version of Superman, the alien from a distant planet (Melmac) crashes on Earth escaping his world which has recently suffered from a nuclear meltdown. ALF is hidden by the Tanner family after government agents come investigating the crash. They find nothing and ALF (Alien Life Form) a.k.a. Gordon Shumway decides to stay and live with the Tanners.

The plots of most episodes revolve around two central ideas: helping keep ALF hidden from the outside world and ALF helping out the Tanners through difficult and strange situations. Most episodes also involved keeping ALF away from the Tanner's pet cat. According to ALF, cats are to Melmacians; what cows are to humans. A popular food item that can be served in a variety of ways. The comedy of the series came from many varied sources, like ALF trying to fit in or Willie (Max Wright) trying to fix some problem ALF has created.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Vote By Mail News

Vote By Mail is back in the news again, this time from the Palm Springs area of California in an article by Erica Felci of the Desert Sun. She writes about the growing number of residents in her local area who are turning to voting by mail only. For a time in California one could only have voted absentee if they signed an affidavit saying they would not be in town on election day. The state recently removed that requirement and now more and more people are voting by mail as a choice. In the article she interviews a few members of academia on if Vote by Mail improves turnout during elections.
The big question is whether such efforts make a difference with the average voter. In 1998, Oregon became the first state in the nation to shift to conduct every election by mail. Advocates say it has saved Oregon taxpayers money, and increased the state's voter participation because people have more time to study the issues and make a choice. A 2007 analysis of California's voting behavior indicates that may not hold true everywhere. The study, led by professors at Temple University and the University of California, San Diego, found voting by mail boosted participation in local elections. But when it came to presidential and gubernatorial general elections, voter participation was slightly lower in mail precincts. Voters were also more likely to skip the so-called downballot races. “Based on our findings from this natural experiment, we predict that shifting to mail ballot elections will not increase voter participation in regularly scheduled general elections, counter to the conventional wisdom that is often cited in the current policy debate,” the authors wrote. “In fact, it may produce a decline in turnout of up to three percentage points.”

Yes, you heard some academics produced a study where they say VBM (Vote by Mail) either marginally or does not improve turn out. It may even produce a drop? I am not sure I follow their reasoning on why by simply changing the method of voting would cause people not to vote, I mean if Oregon changed the way we voted I'm sure there would be a decline for a period while voters adjusted to the new system.

Pay attention to this line: “Based on our findings from this natural experiment, we predict that shifting to mail ballot elections will not increase voter participation in regularly scheduled general elections, counter to the conventional wisdom that is often cited in the current policy debate,”...Perhaps the conventional wisdom of the current debate is wrong. I don't think it is wise to move to vote by mail because it might increase voter turnout. I think it is wise to move to vote by mail to make it more convenient for the voter to vote and participate in democracy. The only thing that motivates voters to the polls is what who is on the ballot; not the actual ballot. People who don't feel there isn't anything worth voting for are still not going to vote regardless of the method the votes are taken and counted.

VBM to me still seems well worth pursuing, even at the federal level. Campaigns of all kinds should love VBM, because it allows organizations to have better get out the vote efforts (GOTV) that target households that have not voted yet. If we used Palm Springs as an example, the article states that of the +/-22,000 voters, nearly +/-13,000 are on the VBM system. Some +/-6,000 have already voted. That's 6,000 voters your campaign doesn't need to worry about contacting to get them to vote, that's 6,000 more doors, phone calls, direct mailings you can send to the people who haven't voted in your area. I rarely get phone calls during the last two weeks of any campaign because I turn in my ballot early and get taken off the call lists. So it is sorta a win-win for voters and campaigns. Voters don't get bothered at the dinner table to calls reminding you to vote and campaigns can better focus their ground game on the people they need to still vote.

For folks who don't stay up to speed, minute by minute with the changing political atmosphere through their twitter accounts, VBM provides a pressure free alternative to the voting booth. Need a day our two to go over your choices, then take it. This is perfect for local elections. I find these decisions the hardest. Sometimes there is very little information provided by any of the campaigns and so you do some research. I vote on my time, in the two week period provided. I don't have to miss work, don't have to choose between my family and going to the polls, don't have to fight the weather (that's the postal workers job...they took an oath!). Voting in comfort.

Those are the two big reasons to me that VBM should be taking off more around the country. Voters will adapt as well as the campaigns that are trying to get them to vote. Why can't government ever do something just to be nice to the public? Why does it have to show that it improves turnout? What do you think of vote by mail?

If you want to learn more about Vote By Mail check out the Vote By Mail Project.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Steve Jobs: Creative Mind

Steve Jobs Drives Without License Plates So Steve Jobs found a loophole and exploited it. Makes for an interesting philosophical discussion. Would you do the same or would you register your car after the six months?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Oregon Experience: The Oystermen

The Oystermen, a fascinating look at oysters from the Oregon coast. In the mid-1800s they became a highly prized commodity. Learn everything you ever wanted to know about Oysters and the people who hoisted them from the waters and into the mouths of an Oyster hungry public. 

Check out other videos at Oregon Experience.

Three Great Movies

I figured I should post these. If you haven't seen these movies yet you should rent them, netflix, torrent, whatever it takes to see these films.

1. The Big One (1997)
What started in the latter part of the 80s was finally starting to catch up with the rest of the manufacturing industry in the United States. A patriotic American would assume that if the company you are working for is making record profits, why on Earth would they lay you off? Don't you think workers ought to be getting a pay raise for making the company so much profit? In a reasonable, rational world yes. In the real world. No. The outsourcing of America continues to this day, and the government that allowed it to happen hasn't done much to help the millions of struggling American families who have been economically abandoned.

Michael Moore does his usual great job of bringing to spotlight to these problems. A note to Oregonians, pay attention to the interview with Nike CEO Phil Knight.

2. Where the Buffalo Roam (1980)
"I hate to advocate weird chemicals, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone... but they've always worked for me"-Hunter S. Thompson, Where the Buffalo Roam

Bill Murray, Peter Boyle, Bruno Kirby, and René Auberjonois bring to the screen amazing intersections of life, politics, drugs and Richard Nixon. Murray portrays gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson. If all you have seen is Fear and Loathing Las Vegas, then you haven't seen anything yet. For me this movie really speaks to what our modern media really is, they are a money making machine that have an agenda (be it good or bad is up to viewers) contrast it with HST take and you see two radical different perspectives. This movie is well worth a watch, not only is it entertaining, but also insightful.

3. Carlton Browne of the F.O. (Man in a Cocked Hat)

Ever heard of Gaillardia? It is the tale of British colonial politics gone askew. The colonial governor of a long lost colony writes the F.O. (Foreign Office) for assistance. Patronage run amuck has left the feeble Carlton Browne (Terry Thomas) in charge of the problem. Prime Minister Amphibulos (Peter Sellers), Luciana Paluzzi (Princess Ilyena), Ian Bannen ( The King) and Thorley Walters
 (Colonel Bellingham) round out the cast of this early satire of John and Roy Boulting.

While Peter Sellers is great in this, I feel Terry-Thomas steals the show. For those of you unfamiliar with British talent you might recognize Thomas as 'Sir Hiss' from the Walt Disney 1973 adaption of Robin Hood which is my favorite Disney animated film from the 30s-70s era.


Long Time No Post

Been a while since last posted here. Sorry for the delay. Lots of cool stuff going on in the world.
Gaddafi is dead, the United States is pulling out of Iraq, the NBA lockout is playing havoc with basketball fans around the world, and in our little neck of the woods there will be a primary election to replace former Congressman David Wu. There are two really cool candidates running in the Democratic primary out of like six.

I quit a job that I felt wasn't going anywhere for me, except for headaches and ulcers. It was more or less a good move to get out of K-12 public education. That ship is sinking fast without a serious public centered reform movement, we will continue to pay more for fewer and fewer services that only benefit 1/3 of the people who use it...but enough depressing thoughts.

On a brighter note, I went back to school to finish my philosophy degree. I am getting more in Pell Grants than I was being paid to do my job. So unreal. So after a total of six years of higher education I will have two degrees. 3 years a degree isn't that bad. What awaits me after my philosophy degree is unknown.

Right now you are probably seeing a lot in the news about the Occupy Wall Street Movement. It is very neat to see democracy in action. How this will play out in 2012 is uncertain. I don't feel yet that the majority of Democrats in Congress exactly get it what's going on in the country. The one guy who does seem to get it is Peter DeFazio.

Friday, July 1, 2011

4th of July videos of thought

Hey all, I'm going to be out fishing and pretty much enjoying this glorious weekend at the coast and in the woods. I thought I would leave you good folks some 4th of July videos.

This first video is from a 'Bit of Fry and Laurie' called Kicking Ass

This video is called 'Freedom River' and is narrated by the great Orson Welles. I remember the first time I saw this video I was just amazed.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Steve Novick Back in the Saddle Again

Well everyone it looks like Oregon's fighter with a hard left hook is back to take on the challenges of turning ideas into policy. Today he announced his intention to run for Randy Leonard's seat on the Portland City Council. Leonard announced earlier he would not seek another term. Novick is the first entry ( and probably not the last).

Visit for more information on his campaign. Go like him on facebook too!

I've also put out some buttons to help celebrate Steve's return to electoral politics. Hope he does well on the campaign trail. I've made 4, here are two of them.

Novick Pins

Portland Soccer Fans for Novick

Novick for PDX 3

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Llewtube: Wet Liberal Whenever Video Blog

One of my favorite actors, Robert Llewellyn, has been doing a video blog called Wet Liberal, the thoughts, opinions, pontifications, and sometimes mad rantings of a liberal. You might recognize Robert from the cult sci-fi television hit Red Dwarf where he played the series 4000 mechanoid named Kryten. He would eventually use his background as Kryten to review areas of science and technology called Machine of the Week.

The video blog entries are very good. They are real; you can tell they aren't rehearsed and when he genuinely makes a mistake he apologizes for those mistakes (something politicians should try and do). Hearing him talk about the right wing capitalistic society of America is also fascinating ;) He's also not a great fan of political correctness. Which scores him points in my book.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Go Screen Yourself: Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist Season 1

Dr. Katz was a therapist to some of the most eccentric patients ever. He seemed to not be able to avoid these highly strange, neurotic individuals. They all had problems; all were somewhat successful celebrities. Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist was an animated television series that aired from 1995-1999 on Comedy Central. It was in the trend of adult animation shows that were hitting the airwaves in the 90s. Once The Simpsons opened the door, shows like Dr. Katz started being produced.

The show utilized a  form of animation called 'Squigglevision' pioneered by animator Tom Snyder. Don't remember Squigglevision? Well here's a sampling from Dr. Katz talking with Patton Oswalt about Han Solo.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

2nd GOP Debate

Cheryl Senter for The New York Times
Manchester, NH showcased seven of the Republican candidates for President in 2012. Nearly the whole gang was there last night for one of the most interactive presidential debates in US History. Facebook, twitter,, video conferencing were all utilized to help citizens and local media to participate in the debate. Every so often a code came up that you could take a picture of on your smartphone and get special behind the scenes goodies that only smartphone users could have access to.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Oregon Outdoors: Dorman Pond

Many Oregonians have no idea how lucky they are, they rarely venture out of their comfortable surroundings and go out and explore the vastness of this great landscape. Camping, fishing, hiking, sightseeing and a myriad of other activities await the brave souls who venture out into Oregon. It's a wonderful place and you should know more about it. 

I suspect that many folks have not heard of Dorman Pond. If you are looking for a not too out of the way place to unload your rod and reel skills then you might consider making the 45 minute drive from Portland out towards the coast range to try the waters out. Trout are stocked in Dorman by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. You might also find yourself with a bass or bluegill attached to your line. If you enjoy fishing, birdwatching, canoeing, then you will enjoy Dorman Pond. There is a natural beauty to the pond and surroundings. On many trips out there I have seen people in non-motorized boats out enjoying the pond. With all the good things going for Dorman, there are a few downsides.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Ebay Find #10: Wayne Morse a Great Senator

In the political collecting hobby there are different groups for all sorts of different political items. For instance, some political historians only collect items relating to Presidents and candidates for President from before they held that office. Items like Richard Nixon for Governor pins from his 1962 gubernatorial campaign or from his earlier campaigns for Congress or Vice President. Other collect 'coattail' items. Some of the most highly sought after coattail pins are FDR for President and LBJ for Senator, Woodrow Wilson for President and James M. Cox for Governor. There are many more different areas of the hobby. My general realm of collecting is Oregon related items which falls under the 'locals' category. The pin being featured today is a holy grail of Oregon locals. This is the only known Wayne Morse pin that ever featured his picture.
It is also one of the largest Wayne Morse pins out there coming in at 3.5" inches in diameter. As a Wayne Morse enthusiast I had to have this pin when I found it on ebay. I spent over my self imposed $10 dollar limit per pin, but it was worth the small extra I went over considering this pin has sold from $50 to over $100 dollars in past auctions.  This pin is now the centerpiece of my Wayne Morse display of a dozen or so buttons. I'm still looking for a Wayne Morse for President pin, but for now I can rest from one quest. The pin itself is either from 1968 or 1972.  A similar McGovern pin from 1972 can be found easily with the same design so some suspect the same company made them in 1972. Then again, there are enough differences that the Morse pin could be from 1968 and the McGovern pin is just an updated template. All in all, this was $18 dollars well spent. Famed political junkie Ken Rudin featured this pin on his political junkie column archived at the Washington Post.

1972 McGovern pin

Friday, May 20, 2011

The First Debate of 2012

The first GOP presidential debate took place in Greenville, South Carolina this last week. It featured a few of the many candidates expected to be in the race.
Congressman Ron Paul (TX), Herman Cain (Georgia), Former Governor Tim Pawlantey (MN) Former Senator Rick Santourm (PN) and Former Governor Gary Johnson (NM) were the five that showed up in what many consider the first true primary for the Republican party. New Hampshire and Iowa have tended to lean Democratic and there is a good mix in state between Democrats and Republicans holding state and federal offices. In South Carolina 8/9 statewide elected officials are Republicans, 7/8 federal office holders are Republicans. Both houses of the state legislature are controlled by the Republican party so this is prime ground to judge a Republican presidential candidate.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Election Over: Winners & Losers

2011 Elections are over...finally. Here's a run down of the winners and losers from the May results.

Losers: Everyone. Not to be snarky, but yeah we're all pretty much losers. Without change in any serious form all the school boards that re-elected incumbents or found themselves with some 'fresh meat' ready to be flattened by business as usual in the district will continue to putter along. Even after all the heads roll, and all the money is gone the 200 some Oregon school districts will still be doing business as usual. Don't get me wrong; I love government. I love government that works. Our current system of 200 school districts was built in a different time, and like our aging national infrastructure it is starting to show its age. What's the difference between a student in Lake Oswego and a student in Tualatin? What's the difference between a student in Eugene and Portland? There is no difference, so why do we need a school district for each? We have a Metro government why couldn't we have a Metro School Board? Serious consideration should be given to school district consolidation in the coming years, especially if the state plans on exerting more control of the powers of the purse and academic standards.

Winners:  People who graduated from an Oregon high school before Measure 5.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Robert Reich Speaks....

Be you living in California, Oregon, or somewhere else in this country you should listen to him connect the dots. If you enjoy this speech, check out his blog: for more great material. I particularly enjoy his mini math lesson on Median vs Average.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Campaign '11 Not that Scary...

We are in the midst of the most important election of our lifetimes....nah I can't sell you campaign 2011 with that recycled rhetoric we hear from candidates and pundits every election year. In the grand scheme of things this election might not be very important to most of us, but for some this year this election means more than any presidential election or gubernatorial election they've ever been apart of. Yes, I'm talking about the candidates for school board and all the special district boards and commissions out there. You may know one of them and never realize they are an elected official.
Homer trying to vote on election day.

 Election Day is May 17, 2011 this year and I hope to have my ballot turned in by then. In this 'off' year election ballots that are turned in sometimes only reach into the hundreds in some communities and those few hundred votes decide who will be overseeing the fire district, the water district, the community schools and maybe even the local parks and swimming pools. These are the public service functions we have interactions on a day to day basis. More attention should be given in these campaigns than they traditionally receive. Who gets elected to the fire district might determine how fire services are or are not delivered to residents in rural areas. The local water board could decide that a more expensive source is needed for drinking water. A local aquatics board could decide that due to budget issues the pool can't be open on your one day off during the week. Lots of issues come before these boards so it is important to know who the people running for these offices are and what they plan to do if elected. Sometimes that's tough, especially if no one files a statement in the voters pamphlet. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Ebay Find #9 John Glenn in '84 button

The Right Stuff?
I found this pin on ebay last year. John Glenn always fascinated me as a candidate. In high school I read a book about his failed bid for the Democratic nomination by Richard F. Fenno called The Presidential Odyssey of John Glenn. It takes the reader on the trip spanning the lead up to his 1984 presidential campaign and his eventual exit from the race.

It seemed Glenn was a little uncomfortable playing up his heroic background in NASA. The Right Stuff with Ed Harris was out in theaters during the lead up to many of the early primaries, but Glenn decided it wouldn't be appropriate to try and capitalize off the success of the film in the campaign. By the time aides and supporters had convinced him that it would be fine to play up The Right Stuff it was too late for his campaign. While early polling had him in contention with frontrunner Walter Mondale, he soon lost the attention of the media and the voters and was out of the race. His best showings at the ballot were on March 13th primaries in Alabama (20%) and Georgia (18%). The legacy of his presidential campaign took some 20 years to put to rest. In 2006, the Federal Elections Commission excused the $2.86 million dollars in debt he had accumulated from his '84 campaign.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Go Screen Yourself: The Lone Gunmen (TLG)

Spin-offs are often found in love/hate relationships with viewers of the shows of their origin. Some of us love latching on to some aspect of the original show and seeing it flourish into something that rivals the original. The 1980s hit Cheers spawned two spin-offs. One of them centered around Dr. Fraiser Crane. His show was called Fraiser. It was a ratings success story. It allowed Kelsey Grammer to play Dr. Crane from 1984-2004. The second spin-off, well technically the first spin-off, was The Tortellis. Chances are you've never heard of the show. Don't worry you didn't miss much. The Tortellis revolved around Cheers waitress Carla Tortellis' (Rhea Perlman) ex husband Nick and his 2nd wife introduced in Cheers. The show didn't last more than 13 episodes. What makes a spin-off successful is uncertain. Clearly Fraiser had something that the Tortellis didn't. Today's Go Screen Yourself recommendation is a spin-off of  FOX's acclaimed "X-Files" called The Lone Gunmen.

OLCV Celebration Recap

Last night I had the chance to attend the Oregon League of Conservation Voters 14th annual celebration. The league is Oregon's independent voice for the environment. Activists and supporters exist across the political spectrum to protect our rich natural legacy and build an economy in Oregon that uses clean renewable energy.

The event was well attended at the Oregon Convention Center. Oregon Senator Jeff Merkely started the evening with a video message from Washington D.C. praising OLCV for their efforts in the past year during the 2010 campaign. Governor John Kitzhaber, the evening keynote speaker, also credited the help of the league with helping him defeat Chris Dudley in the close fall campaign.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Governor Barbara Roberts on Gerry Ferraro

My post the other day on Geraldine Ferraro and the Oregonian article by Emily Smith got me thinking a little more about what Ferraro's candidacy for Vice President really meant to some folks. I got the chance to find out a little bit more about what former Governor Barbara Roberts thought of Ferraros role in the 1984 campaign.

Here are her expanded comments on the convention, and the campaign.

Frm. Governor Barbara Roberts
1984 was already an exciting year for me.  I had won the Democratic nomination for Oregon Secretary of State in my first statewide campaign plus being chosen as a Delegate to the 1984 Democratic National Convention.  But the best was yet to come.
I will never forget the night Geraldine Ferraro was nominated as Vice-President.  Hundreds and hundreds of male Delegates had temporarily vacated their seats on the convention floor to allow women Alternate Delegates to be seated in their place while this portion of the convention took place. It was reportedly the largest number of women official delegates ever seated on the floor of a political convention in American history.  Excitement was in the air in every state delegation.  When Geraldine Ferraro stepped to the microphone following the nomination speeches, the convention went wild!  Thousands of women stood, many on their chairs, and began cheering and chanting and applauding. You could hear thousands of voices: "Gerry! Gerry! Gerry!"  Women were embracing, singing, weeping.  The floor demonstration went on and on.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Oregon Connection: Geraldine Ferraro

Group of Mondale/Ferraro buttons mostly from Oregon.
Long before the campaigns of Palin and Clinton there was Gerry Ferraro. She hit the ground running when she was nominated for Vice President of the United States at the 1984 Democratic National Convention in San Fransisco. It was about time. The Democratic Party was taking in an increasing number of women voters by 1984. Yet we had lagged behind even the Libertarian party in nominating a woman for high office. The number of women candidates for state and federal office had been steadily increasing with each election. It was only a matter of time before someone like a Shirley Chisholm, Bella Azbug, Elizabeth Holtzman, or a Barbara Jordan made it to the big stage as a nominee.

1984 was the first year the Democratic Party required state delegations be gender balanced and women made up 54% of delegates.One of those delegates was Liz Toy, a long time Salem political activist. She shared with me some of her thoughts on the convention and what she thought of Ferraro as a candidate and political operator at the convention. She was elected as a delegate for Gary Hart (who won the Oregon primary in 1984). 
 I was seated in the alternate section for the Ferraro speech ---tradition to let the alternates sit in the delegate section for their candidate so there was a swap of credentials. Actually it was nice -- less ambient noise and not as bright. Oregon had primo seats-- center section, about 60 rows back, right in front of the camera emplacement. But that meant looking at those lights which were roughly what they use for football night games. 

Don't let anyone kid you---she was going to be the VP nominee no matter who was the nominee for Pres. And that was up in the air for about 24 hours before the vote. One thing most people don't know about Geraldine is that she was a good soldier, even enforcer. Virgin Islands delegation was behind us, and one of their delegates wanted to vote for Jackson. She was pulled off the floor into a special meeting with Geraldine and others who told her they could remove her as a delegate if she didn't vote as she was elected to vote, for Mondale. Beautiful woman from the VI was in tears when she came back.  

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Trek Mystery: Crewman Obama?

The first Trek Mystery offered today comes from Star Trek the Animated series. In the episode the Time Trap, the crew of the Enterprise and a Klingon battleship commanded by Kor are stuck in a Saragossa sea of space. They must combine forces to escape or spend the rest of their lives stuck with each other. A plan to escape is formulated by Mr. Spock and the Klingons mostly go along with it because they're not as smart as Spock.

Simply escaping is not enough for this animated Star Trek classic; the Klingons must find a way to destroy the Enterprise as they escape the time trap. They do this by planting a pill in a computer. Don't even ask. In the process of this two Klingons are caught in a restricted area and brought to the bridge by Crewman Bell. He's one of the many redshirts on the Enterprise. What's the mystery here you ask? Crewman Bell looks suspiciously similar to American President Barack Obama. Take a look for yourself.
Crewman Bell or Crewman Obama?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Vote By Mail Getting Easier in New Jersey?

Gloucester County Times reporter Jessica Beym reported today from Trenton that a bill is moving forward in the New Jersey State Senate to allow voters to sign up to vote by mail for all future general elections. Right now New Jersey law only allows voters to sign up for one years worth of elections at a time. 

Under New Jersey Senate Bill 2756 a voter would receive ballots by mail until they had failed to vote in four consecutive elections. At that time the county clerk is instructed to send notice to the voter to determine if they have changed their address. Voters would have until the 40th day before the next general election to respond. If they fail to respond they will be required to resubmit an application to vote by mail. Currently, they have to reapply every year.

In Oregon, the county clerk keeps sending you a ballot at your current location until you or the current occupant tells them you are no longer living at that location. Any time you register to vote your location is updated. If this becomes law, residents will need to tell the county clerk that they would like mail in ballots for all future general elections. The Oregon Secretary of State's office provides a great time line of the history of vote by mail in Oregon. You can see all the historic 'firsts' Oregon has had the privilege of marking in the vote by mail movement. 

What will basically be happening in New Jersey is a waiting game. Instead of just forcing everyone to vote by mail, the bills sponsors want to make the change gradually. Over time as more and more people discover the convenience of voting by mail. Fewer and fewer people will be showing up the polling stations. These polling stations cost the government money and hopefully once New Jersey lawmakers start to see they are wasting money by keeping so many polling stations open they will take the final steps and automatically mail ballots to every registered voter. Right now the process is very tedious having to reapply for vote by mail every year. Hopefully this will fix that.

Senator James Beach (D)  and Senator Ray Lesniak (D) were the sponsors of S2756. Senator Linda Greenstein is a co-sponsor.

The bill cleared the New Jersey Senate 24-13. Now it moves onto the New Jersey Assembly.

For more information on the national vote by mail movement visit The Vote By Mail Project

Go Screen Yourself: 3rd Rock from the Sun Season 1

3rd Rock from the Sun Season 1 DVD cover
This science fiction show takes place on Earth, in the fictional Ohio town of Rutherford. Extraterrestrials take the form of human beings in attempt to better understand human culture.  Aliens invade a small town in the middle of nowhere part of Ohio? Only hilarity can ensue from this odd ball comedy. The show ran on television from 1996-2001, making it another one of those fantastic science fiction shows from the 1990s. 3rd Rock from the Sun had its strengths and weaknesses. One weakness was the lack of more traditional sci-fi trappings.

Sure it wasn't heavy in the blinking lights, grand special effects or inane technobabble department that so often accompanies a sci-fi television show, but that's ok; sometimes you just need a goofy premise to make something work. Where 3rd Rock lacked in traditional elements it more than made up for in humor. The alien family at the center of this show were the Solomons (Dick, Harry, Sally and Tommy). Each week viewers would tune to see what mishaps would occur because of their lack of understanding Earth customs and how they constantly try to keep their real identities secret. This proved to be one of the great strengths. The casting was immensely important to the success of the show.

Dick, played by John Lithgow, was the High Commander in charge of the mission. He went to work for the local university as a physics professor. Sally, played by Kristen Johnson was the security officer and took on the role of Dick's attractive sister who mostly stayed at home and kept an eye on Harry played by French Stewart who was sort of the alien in charge of communicating with 'The Big Giant Head' (the boss of them all back on homeworld). Then there was Tommy played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Tommy was the oldest alien stuck in the youngest human body which made for some great jokes throughout the season. With most ensemble casts the supporting players added a great life to the show. Seinfeld's Wayne Knight, SNL alum Jane Curtain, and several others rounded out a great cast. The chemistry between Curtain and Lithgow was fantastic. Following their insane relationship always left you wondering each season if they would  make it.

One of my favorite episodes from the first season is number three and is called Dick's First Birthday. Where Dick has his first birthday and realizes he is getting old. A scene towards the beginning has the group sitting on the roof and Tommy complaining about his health class. He tells them he is learning about human anatomy. The crew exclaims "YOU HAVE AN OWNERS MANUAL!".

Most seasons ended with some sort of announcement from the Big Giant Head, played by William Shatner. In several episodes Shatner actually shows up as the Big Giant Head. The conflict around these season cliffhangers usually involved the Big Giant Head being troubled by their lack of progress. One or two seasons of this may have been ok, but to end every season on this premise started to get old quick.

If you like goofy, silly, witty humor you will enjoy 3rd Rock from the Sun. The show had a good following and lasted another five seasons. The first season of 20 episodes garnered the best ratings for the show and every concept was new and fresh. You can find all six seasons on Netflix. All six have also been released on DVD.

Here's an intro sequence from early on in the show. Happy viewing!

Star Wars PSAs

Here are some cool Public Service Announcements. The first two are Star Wars PSAs warning of the dangers of Smoking and Drinking and Driving.

More cool PSAs as soon as we find them for your viewing pleasure.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Constituency Meeting with Congressman Wu

Today I had the great fortune to start my spring break at a meeting with Congressman David Wu from Oregon's 1st Congressional District of which I am a resident. I signed up for this meeting because the idea seemed sorta cool. How often do you get to sit down with your representative in congress and talk about anything YOU want to talk about? It was an opportunity I had to take and in the end I am glad I did.

Our meeting took place at the Tigard Public Works building.  A very convenient location as I live just over the other side of 99W,  a quick five minute drive from the house. Congressman Wu and his staff score double points for having the meeting so close to home. When I got there I noticed a lot of camera crews and reporters. It looked like Channels 8 and 6 were there in addition to several print media. A friendly reporter from the Oregonian came up to me and asked me why I was there and how I might be contacted if she had questions for me. I told her I was there to talk to Congressman Wu about education related issues.

They had us waiting in a foyer to the public works building. People slowly started making their way to the building for their meeting. I was third on the list.When I entered the conference room I was greeted by Congressman Wu and his field representative. They both took notes while I was talking. We talked about my work with the debate team I coach and about the great speech and debate programs we have in the area. I then broached the subject of textbooks.

Starting in 2003 when I first entered college there was a lot of news coming out of his office about the high price of textbooks and that if we want to ensure young people can afford to attend college we need to do a better job at controlling costs. I basically wanted an update on those efforts; how successful have we been with keeping costs under control since the passage of the Higher Education Affordability Act of 2008. He said he and his staff would prepare a summary of actions taken since the bill was passed and would follow up with me shortly.

I also used this as an opportunity to complain about the direct mail pieces I get from his office. Don't get me wrong they have some great information in them and sometimes even have constituent surveys attached to them. When those come I try my best to fill them out. Yet it would be nice to get a mailer about stuff happening in congress that affects people in my demographic group, folks who are between 18 and 30. I'm not asking for a special mailer every time, but I think one should be tossed in from time to time in the rotation of constituency outreach. 

All in all, I thought these direct face to face meetings were a great idea. It was interesting watching the press at the event hover over everyone and trying to find out what they wanted to talk about. I sorta got the impression that when I told them I was there to talk about education issues they became disinterested. Clearly not the story they wanted to tell. The sad part of all this is that we would have a much better democracy if the media paid this much attention to members of congress all the time, instead of just when something controversial happens.

 Wu and crew get a thumbs up from me today. Next time though, shoot for ten minute meetings I think it will improve things for Congressman Wu and constituents who attend.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Ebay Find # 8: Nan Wood Honeyman with Roosevelt

7/8" Roosevelt Coattail lito Pin
This is another pin from Oregon presidential politics, only this pin is from the 1930s. Most likely this pin is from 1936 when Nan Wood Honeyman won a seat in Congress representing Oregon's 3rd Congressional district. She also had the great distinction of being the first woman to represent the people of Oregon in the United States Congress.

Born in New York, her family soon moved to Portland, Oregon. Her father was the famous Charles Erskine Scott Wood. She attended school in New York and became life long friends of Eleanore Roosevelt. It was this great friendship that would launch her career in Congress. In 1936 she ran as a staunch advocate of Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal. Winning her seat proved easy; keeping it became a whole different task.

While in congress she became a ardent advocate of the New Deal and of the Bonneville  Dam project. Being so close to Roosevelt may have lead to her political downfall as she openly supported his court packing scheme. This lead not only to a primary challenger in 1938, but also state senator and liberal Republican Homer Angell in the general. On election day she would lose by a very slim margin of around 2,500 votes. She was not alone though, 78 other Democrats also lost their seats that day. In 1940 she would try to win it back and again lose by another close count.

After these defeats she served in a variety of other public roles from State Senator to Collector of Customs. Eventually she moved to California where she died in 1970. For more details on Nan Wood Honeyman you can visit her profile on Women in Congress

This pin turns up on occasion on ebay or auction. The price varies substantially depending on how much the seller knows about the pin. Valued between $25-$50 dollars, though if you wait long enough you can find it on ebay for under $15 or even a lot less. It was made by Green Duck, which was a company that has created many political buttons over the years. Creative has a wonderful article about them so I won't repeat it here.

A button like this appeals to many different kinds of people. It appeals to Oregon button collectors like myself. Women in congress collectors, Roosevelt collectors, coattail collectors and yes even Green Duck button collectors. A great button for any of those collections. Pins from such obscure candidates take some time to find their way out the old boxes and dressers they are kept in and onto the great marketplaces of commerce.

Honeyman Re-Election Ad 1938
I have also included a scan of a campaign ad taken from a Democratic Party of Oregon Picnic Program from 1938.  "An Experienced Democratic Congressional Leader".

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Recall Wave?

Alex Altman in his blog Swampland on reported today on the first casualty of the massive wave of recalls that could come our way in 2011. Oregon has already seen it's share of recalls in 2009 where some Clatsop County Commissioners survived and some faltered over the LNG issue. Read more about them at Ballotpeida. Today's unfortunate elected official to be recalled was Carlos Alvarez, the mayor of Miami-Dade county in Florida.

Here is what happened according to Altman,

In the wake of the housing crisis, Alvarez raised property taxes to restock government coffers, orchestrated a deal to put public money toward the Florida Marlins' new stadium, and cut public salaries 5%. At the same time, he was tooling around in a spiffy Beamer purchased with his county car allowance and boosting the pay of top aides.
 The last thing you ever want to do as a public official is appear to be a hypocrite or actually turn out to be one. A Beamer? Really? Does the county staff have no oversight in how public officials spend public money? Alvarez was elected as a Republican to reform county government. Turns out Alvarez was the one reformed into the very political ilk he ran against in 2004.

In Oregon we are the masters of the recall. The modern day recall method in the United States was born in Oregon, right here, in 1908. In the past 103 years, 18 other states have also adopted recall laws for elected officials. Oregon is also one of 9 states that allows for the recall of our members of Congress, yet so far no one is sure if the federal government would actually allow Oregonians to do that as no state has actually tried to recall a member of Congress.

Protesters return to the Wisconsin State Capitol the day after Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) signed the bill that eliminated almost all collective bargaining for most public workers at the state Capitol in Madison Wisconsin March 12, 2011. REUTERS/Darren Hauck
 Ballotpeida keeps a list of recall efforts on their website. For 2011 we can add 16 more recall campaigns from Wisconsin. Those pesky State Senators who decided to move ahead with Governor Walker's plan to strip state employees of their collective bargaining rights are all facing recall efforts. This could be the most organized recall effort in the history of our country. Never before has their been such an organized effort to oust this many state officials in one jurisdiction. The organizers of the recall efforts in Wisconsin need to proceed carefully. If they come off looking mean and out for revenge they will lose for what happened in the capitol they will most certainly lose.

In the coming weeks they must use public opinion (which I do believe is on their side) and the law (which will be figured out soon) as their allies in the effort. Explain why what happened in the State House cannot not be allowed to happen again. Wayne Morse, who is from Wisconsin originally, once said, "The paramount purpose of our constitutional system of government is to promote the general welfare of the people-- not just SOME of the people". Some of the people do benefit from the removal of collective bargaining rights, but all the people will ultimately suffer as government engages in the race to the bottom that has already ruined the private sector for many workers.

Monday, March 14, 2011

If You Had 7 Million Dollars.....

I was reading an article today out of Reuters that had discovered that millionaires believe one needs more than $7 million dollars to be considered 'Rich'. They reported on the findings of a Fidelity Investments survey which found that of the millionaires surveyed, most believed that one must have more than $7.5 million dollars to be truly rich. 

The average age of the typical respondent to the survey was 56, with a net wealth of $3.5 million dollars; $3.5 million dollars and one does not consider themselves 'rich'? These folks have investments, assets, and more importantly economic security. Which is more than I can say for myself. Apparently, if I was a millionaire according to this survey, I wouldn't be too worried. The millionaires surveyed expect the economy to start coming around by the end of this year. Come on, this is the same group of people that can afford to buy $1.1 million dollar comic books in our current economy. Things clearly been haven't too bad for them. 

Do I feel for these inferior feeling millionaires? Not in the least. Not when too many people are struggling to make it by working pay check to pay check. I do wonder what I would do with $7.5 million dollars if I came into possession of it. 

I think first and foremost I would make sure my immediate family was caught up on all those big bills that seem to plague us. With just under half a million dollars I could do so much for my family and have plenty left over. All student loans in my immediate family would be gone, all the credit card bills, car loans, back doctor bills, I'd even do something nice for my landlord and fix up the backyard so when it rains the water doesn't roll down the slope of the yard and create a mud swamp in the corner. 

After getting rid of all the debt, I'd turn attention to my parents and get them a house somewhere. Possibly in the woods or at the beach. They'd get a million dollars of my 7.5. If you're going to be a millionaire, why not make other people millionaires too! My sister would get a million too even though she constantly torments me. So let's see I'm down to 5.2 million now...still loads to go. The next thing I'd do is buy a Kennedy Compound type place on the coast. Give everyone in the family a key and a calendar to plan vacations. I'd also have to have a Delorean decked out like the time machine from Back to the Future. Hey come on, like you wouldn't? 

The remainder would be invested for purposes of my continual economic security and the economic security of causes I deem important. Issues and groups near and dear to my heart like the Planetary Society, LCV, SOLV, APIC, and don't forget all those ballot initiative and progressive causes and candidates out there. Needless to say $7.5 million dollars is a lot of money, probably too much for me as I can't even think of how to spend the majority of  it. Perhaps I'd be better off with just $3 million, it seems I at least know how to use that for some good.

Then again, I could just waste it all on 1 million dollar comic books. What would you do with 7.5 Million dollars? Would you invest in the tricky market? Would you buy things for friends and family to make their lives easier? Would you save for the future? Tell us.

Go Screen Yourself: Babylon 5 Season 1

It seems technology is changing faster than we ourselves can change these days. Last night I sat back and started to think about my television habits ( or lack of television habits). Rarely do I find myself remote flipping to random stations hoping to come across something unusual. I have become a Netflix junkie. I even got my father addicted. Why wait for a tv show to come on at a certain time, when you can watch a favorite instantly! At $8 dollars a month you get a lot of choices.

Perhaps you too are looking for things to watch online or some new(old) show to get into for a while. Maybe I can be of assistance.  Let's look at the first Go Screen Yourself review of Babylon 5 Season 1. This program is available online at Netflix and also on dvd at a quality retailer of digital media. I tend to favor Science Fiction, Comedies, Television, Documentaries, and Animated shows. That's not to say I won't review something outside those; I just felt it fair to warn you in advance.

DVD Season 1 Cover with Londo, Sinclair and G'Kar
The 90s was a decade full of great science fiction shows on television. B5 was one of the greats from that decade. This is the same decade that had three Star Trek spin-offs, shows like Sliders, Sea Quest, Far Scape, Lexx, 7-Days, Stargate, Third Rock from the Sun and X-Files. There was something for everyone and Babylon 5 just kept getting better and better with each season. The first season was not A+, but the cast and crew were just starting to get a feel for the characters and the vision Joe Michael Straczynski was trying to build. Some things worked others didn't. The Soulhunters episode was really out there. 

My favorite episodes from the first 22 are By Any Means Necessary, where dock workers go on strike. Love a show with good union and labor issues are explored. Another one of note is called Believers, where alien parents bring their sick child to Dr. Franklin. All the child needs is a simple operation to be saved, but the religion of the family prevents him from operating. Really great moral dilemma presented for Dr. Franklin and the audience.  Lots of good classic science fiction writing, bringing current issues to light in the context removed from us to make it safe to talk about. Every year there are one or two cases in court involving the safety/health of a child coming in conflict with the family faith.

My favorite character from the series was Peter Jurasik's Londo. Season 1 Londo was especially nice because he hadn't become so lifeless yet. If you want to see a tragic character transformation, watch the entire series and pay attention to Londo's character. In Season 1 though, the character had such life to it and Jurasik kept me tuning in for more.  Always happy to have a drink, attend a night club or try his luck at the casino. Don't forget the hair!

If you think the future will be just as imperfect as life is now, only with more blinking lights Babylon 5 Season 1 certainly gives you a future closer to what we live in now. After all Commander Sinclair still has to report to the Senate Sub-Committee that is in charge of funding Babylon 5...does it sound all that far fetched to have members of congress one day phoning the director of operations at a lunar command base?

Happy Viewing, 'Flixing, or downloading (yeah you know who you are) Here's the first Season title sequence. Great score and great use of the then infant CGI, which really helped the show standout in the 90s.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Ebay Find #7 Oregon "Reagan Country"

1980 2.25" Oregon Reagan Country Pin
It seems fitting that in the year of Ronald Reagan's 100th Birthday I share the most recent Reagan pin I found on ebay.  Ronald Reagan had many campaigns for public office between 1968 and 1984. Four presidential campaigns in '68, '76, '80 and '84 plus two campaigns for governor of California in 1966 and 1970. This pin is from his 1980 campaign for president in Oregon.

Reagan performed rather well in Oregon and in 1984 he was the last Republican presidential nominee to win the state's electoral votes. In 1980 he won 48% of the vote and in 1984 won 55% of the vote. During the last hours of the 1980 campaign all three major presidential candidates President Jimmy Carter,  former Governor Reagan, and Congressman John Anderson made quick stops for airport campaign rallies. Carter held his rally at the airport to 2,000 supporters and Governor Reagan held his rally to about 500 supporters at the Holiday Inn. Both emphasized the importance of Oregon in the election and reached out for votes. According an article from the Eugene Register Guard, Reagan used the faults of Jimmy Carter as his main draw to Oregonians at the rally stating," He gave us government as good as Jimmy Carter and that isn't good enough".  Which played off Carter's words four years earlier of "...a government as good as it's people...".

Thursday, March 10, 2011

New Wayne Morse Interview found on Youtube


Here is a neat new interview found on Youtube featuring Oregon Senator Wayne Morse after he became a Democrat in 1956. It talks about him breaking with the Republican party and his problems with the Eisenhower Administration.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Political Games: Mr. President (1967, 1971)

In the past I have written about the games of politics. Not the metaphorical games, but the actual games. These are games that are best played with friends who enjoy a good laugh at themselves and our political process. Over the years I have acquired many different games that simulate our electoral process in all its' glory. Let me share with you a few of them. Mind you some of these are really great games and others...well playing once is probably enough for most of us. Let's start with my favorite: Mr. President.

Courtesy of BoardGameGeek
This game was designed in the late 1960s by  Jack Carmichael a game designer working for Carmichael Lynch Advertising. He submitted his prototype to 3M Games and a political classic was born. Two editions of the game came out, one in 1967 just in time for the holiday shoppers and the attention the Nixon-Humphrey national campaigns that year. The second version came out just in time for the Nixon-McGovern race.

Mr. President is good for 2-4 players. You guessed it; one person plays the presidential nominee and another person plays the VEEP nominee. One may play as either the Republicans or Democrats. The players vie for four regions of the country and place cards with votes on them into a particular slot. Once everyone has one more cards you count the votes. Simple and easy to learn. A usual game takes about an hour.

Courtesy of BoardGameGeek
All the candidates are fictional and very fitting for the time period in which the game was created during. They all have varying skills and attributes. These can hurt and help you during your campaign. There is even a candidate from Oregon!  His name is L. Eugene Beaumont, the Governor of Oregon.

As one of the 3M Bookshelf games the portability of this game a big benefit and makes for an excellent travel game.  Aside from a few minor issues with making campaign stops and missing turns if you pull the wrong card this is a very good game. Being vintage is also a plus as it allows some of us whom are a bit younger to play in the pre-1968 electorate where the South was in the hands of the Democrats, and the Midwest and East was more or less Republican. If you ever get the chance you should sit down for an hour and have a go at running for President of the United States.

There are not many differences between the 1967 and 1971 versions. Regardless of version your basic game play is the same.  Next Political Games post we will look at a computer game called, 'The Political Machine'.

Gameplay Courtesy of BoardGameGeek

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Wu Comes to Washington County

Congressman David Wu has served the residents of the first congressional district since 1998. I can still recall the first time I met Congressman Wu. It was at Tigard High School in my government and civics class in a talk put on by the ever informative and thoughtful Mr. Calpin. Congressman Wu talked to us about the issues and about being our representative and fighting for us in Washington D.C. Over the last nine or ten years I have had many opportunities to meet with my congressman and discuss the issues I thought were important and to give and get feedback on ideas.

Tonight he came before the Washington County Democrats and apologized to us for the last several weeks of media attention he has garnered for his actions both personal and professionally. We very rarely hear our public officials apologize or admit being wrong about anything. Often we are told that private matters are just that and they shouldn't have to apologize for actions unrelated to constituents. I think Congressman Wu did the right thing about coming forward and apologizing. It takes a lot of courage to apologize publically in our day and age.

 Living in the age where it seems the public has a right to know everything; I feel Mr. Wu has been very straightforward with us without having to go into too much detail about his personal matters that are best left between him and his doctors. The question that I am left with is: Does Congress have an army of trained therapists and mental health specialists that are available to members when they feel the need to seek help? The U.S. Senate has a Chaplin. When matters of faith come up senators have someone on site to talk with. Perhaps there should be a therapist or counselor on site as well?

Many professions would probably benefit to healthier and more productive employees if they had regular access to mental health specialists. Think of the stress teachers, public safety workers, and yes even members of congress are having to cope with on a regular basis. These jobs are intensely public in nature, more so than many other professions. I hate to bring Star Trek up, but there was a reason Gene Roddenberry put a therapist on the Enterprise. Counselor Troi and her top notch team were responsible for looking after the mental well being of the crew of the Enterprise. How telling it is of the importance of a persons mental health that Troi was seated right next to the captain on the bridge instead of off on some lower deck far removed from sight.

We must be willing to stop judging individuals for seeking help. Wanting to be healthy cannot be perceived as being weak. Other members of congress have struggled with issues and have sought help of doctors. Congressman Wu mentioned former Congressman Patrick Kennedy last night. Mr. Kennedy has also struggled with his mental health, and he was a fine Representative for the people of Rhode Island. I was glad to hear that Congressman Wu will be working with Mr. Kennedy in the future on a wide variety of mental health issues that he left unfinished when he retired from Congress.

People will still have questions even after he is done apologizing.  I am sure some will bring this up in the next election. Politics are not nearly as forgiving as people are.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

More Delegates?

This Sunday I attended my first Democratic Party of Oregon State Central Committee Meeting as a delegate from Washington County. It was a fun meeting. While much of it focused on party business there were several agenda items that are worth sharing. I was very proud to see Co-Speaker Arnie Roblan address the delegation about the need to reconnect with the Oregon that has seen double digit unemployment since before the 'Great Recession' as it is being called.

This is the Oregon that those of us in the Willamette Valley, and Portland Metro area spend our spring and summer vacations in, communities that have not been able to rebound over the last two decades. Our party must begin to address the unemployment of rural Oregon. Co-Speaker Roblan made point to remind us that we all share common values even though we come from different places. How we accomplish the task of resurrecting rural Oregon will not be an easy one and there are no quick fixes.

The other item I thought worthy to note was that Oregon Democrats may be getting the largest number of delegates to a Democratic National Convention they have ever had. The draft plan that delegates saw this weekend would give Oregon 74 delegates and five alternates. This is the basic plan. There are potential for even more delegates. The DNC will grant a 20% bonus if Oregon keeps its primary in May. That would be ten more delegates bringing the total to 84.

There is even another opportunity to get Oregon Democrats more delegates. The DNC could allocate another ten delegates if we hold our primary with two other states in our region. 94 delegates to the Democratic National Convention would be pretty cool. This scenario is much harder to visualize than the first scenario. Getting other states to move a presidential primary is not an easy task. The front loading of our presidential primary process has caused some state parties to move up their primaries even earlier. It seems our political parties have learned the lesson and have started to give incentives to state parties like the bonus delegates being offered to Oregon. Besides who would be opposed to wanting to have more people at the party in Charlotte, North Carolina?  It isn't by set in stone, but it is the first draft. More news to come in the next few months.

All in all, it was a good meeting. I am looking forward to meeting and learning more about my fellow delegates in the coming months.