Thursday, June 23, 2022

Quote of the Day — SCOTUS (June 23, 2022)

From the much-anticipated decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc., et al. v. Bruen, Superintendent of New York State Police, et al.:
Since Heller and McDonald, the Courts of Appeals have developed a “two-step” framework for an alyzing Second Amendment challenges that combines history with means-end scrutiny. The Court rejects that two-part approach as having one step too many.
Let's be clear, this decision is huge. Read literally (i.e., not by weasel-worded lawyer-types), it declares "may issue" licensing schemes unconstitutional; nobody should be required to show "proper cause" or a heightened need for self-defense above and beyond that of the general populace.

But today's QOTD also throws out the Courts of Appeals adoption of differing "tiers" of scrutiny. We've seen terrible laws struck by lower courts applying "strict scrutiny", only to be upheld when the Courts of Appeal apply so-called "intermediate scrutiny" — which first measures whether a law could be Constitutional, and then does an interest-balancing exercise that gives the defendents a chance to show an "important government interest".

That second step has always seemed designed to allow a blatantly unconstitutional law to stand if the government can articulate some kind of public or safety concern, no matter how far-fetched, implausible, or disproven. Nevermind that "intermediate scrutiny" itself is questionable; the Constitution has no allowance for "important government interests". An unconstitutional law is still unconstitutional even if the government really, really wants it. Sometimes especially so.

I'm still reading through this landmark 135-page decision. I expect there will be more quotable material in the coming days.

Stay safe out there.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

OK, So What's the Rest of Your Platform? — An Open Letter to Oregon's Republican Candidates

Dear Republican candidates from Oregon,

As I write this, Oregon's primary election was two days ago, and based on the number of votes submitted, it's going to be a bloodbath in November. GOP candidates may do well nationally, but Oregon and her Congressional delegation are set to get even more blue.

A big part of the problem, I think, is that the Oregon Republican Party has become a "single issue" caucus. And no, that "single issue" is not freedom, individual rights (including gun rights), low taxes, small government, building a business-friendly environment, maintaining roads and infrastructure, or any of the things national Republicans are standing for.

Nope. The Oregon GOP's "single issue" is ... abortion.

This whole season, only one primary candidate — Jimmy Crumpacker, running for the U.S. House (District 5) — talked about something else (in his case, reforming immigration and finishing "The Wall"). Every other GOP candidate was actively trying to "out-pro-life" the rest.

Crumpacker didn't win because those Trump-era values aren't popular here. But at least he stood for something other than limiting abortion.

Contrast with the Democrats' campaigns. Only one — Andrea Salinas, also running for U.S. House (newly-formed District 6) — brought up her "pro-choice" credentials, in that she's endorsed by Planned Parenthood. But that's not the main "plank" in her platform; she's Progressive, pro-public-worker, pro-entitlement-spending, and will "stand against Republicans". In addition to Planned Parenthood, she's also endorsed by SEIU and Oregon Governor Kate Brown.

Whether one approves or not (I don't), one must admit hers is a much more well-rounded campaign and platform.

But the lack of depth in the GOP campaigns isn't the worst part.

The worst part is, the Oregon GOP should have learned this lesson two years ago.

In 2020, there was an election for local school boards. Then, as now, every conservative candidate ran on being "the only pro-life candidate running for this seat". Nothing about getting rid of racially-based and -biased instruction (that we now know as Critical Race Theory), nothing about accountability for tax and bond funds, nothing about improving safety in schools, nothing about bettering education and opportunities for students. And no explanation on how being pro-life qualifies one for a school board position or why that matters for elected officials who govern education and not healthcare.

Every single conservative got trounced in that election, and the school board is now run by "Progressive" Marxists pushing CRT and LGBTQ++ agendas instead of reading, writing, math, and history.

The lesson that should have been learned then is this: Regardless of your personal beliefs on the matter of abortion, stances other than "pro-choice" do not play well in Oregon; if you're pro-life, you can still be elected, but you must have a deep platform of other issues on which to campaign, particularly when the position in question doesn't have much influence on abortion.

In true GOP fashion, though, the lesson was there, clearly visible to everyone else, and they couldn't or wouldn't see it.

If you're a Republican candidate in Oregon, there are some hard facts you must face, chief among them that conservative voters (not necessarily registered Republicans, but people who typically vote Republican) are outnumbered two-to-one*. The Democrats' super-majority in both legislative chambers, plus control over the Governor's desk for 35+ years (and counting), is proof enough of that.

Now, I get it. Given the unprecedented leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion which could overturn much of Roe v. Wade, abortion is front-and-center in the news and voters' attentions. It's normal to want to talk about it.

But observe the rest of the context: As soon as that leak was made known, Oregon Governor Kate Brown moved to push the Legislature to pass a bill "protecting women's health" and legalizing abortions throughout Oregon. According to polling, it's a wildly popular bill among voters. Campaigning against it is a losing proposition, doubly so when there's nothing else in the platform.

And again, this public sentiment was clear in 2020, well before Roe v. Wade was being re-litigated before SCOTUS.

Oregon Republicans seem to think this is Florida — where they're the majority and have a Republican governor who backs them up — and campaign accordingly.

But this isn't Florida, our Governor is not Ron DeSantis, and if Republicans want to win, they'll need to broaden their platform to reach more moderates and non-affiliated voters. If you're running as a Republican, I highly recommend you start with the economy and infrastructure — tell us your plan to encourage businesses to expand and start hiring non-minimum-wage positions, get people back to work, and lower the tax burden, and then follow up with your plan to fix the roads and bridges, bolster the electrical grid and power generation, and bring real high-speed internet service to rural areas.

I guarantee, just those two issues — economy and infrastructure — will play much better and swing more moderates than being "the only/most pro-life candidate running".

Any Republican candidates who wish to discuss this more in-depth are welcome to contact me either in comments or via that email link on the right sidebar. Regular readers, as always, are also welcome to comment and discuss.

Stay safe out there.

---------
* - Officially, in Oregon neither of the two major parties have a majority due to the large number of non-affiliated voters (NAVs). NAVs even outnumber Democrats here. The thing is, the vast majority of those NAVs consistently vote Democrat; surveys show many are non-affiliated because they believe the Democrats aren't "Progressive" enough (there are a few who believe the opposite — that Republicans aren't conservative enough — but it's a tiny number). Talk that independent Betsy Johnson's gubernatorial bid will split the Democrat-leaning NAV vote in November and allow a Republican to be elected is wishful thinking; she's more likely to significantly split the Republican vote and give Democrats an even stronger victory.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Possibly the Most Unsettling Thing You'll Read Today

That's the most click-bait title I've ever written, but I believe it's justified. It certainly is the scariest thing I've read in quite a while.

Before we get to that, apologies to our readers for the extended absence. The past year-ish has been crazy and eventful, some good, some not-so-much. But we're in good health, surviving the COVID-19 "worst pandemic EVAR!!!", and staying the Hell away from Portland as much as possible. All in all, doing much better than a lot of folks.

If you've been checking in regularly for new content, thank you for your patience, and again, sorry for the wait.

In any case, back to the topic at hand: Oregon has some pretty nasty wildfires burning right now. 

Labeled Aqua image of the Oregon Fires from Sep 10, 2020.
There are no clouds in this image; that's ALL smoke and ash. (image credit: NASA)

It's all the local news is talking about (even COVID is yesterday's news), but there are two aspects they're not mentioning.

One is the air quality from all the smoke and ash. It's bad:

592 on the index. Note that the scale tops out at 500.

The other is the scary part: the cause of the wildfires. They're not occurring naturally.

From Law Enforcement Today:

A series of wildfires in Washington, Oregon, and California are now being considered arson – and sources tell Law Enforcement Today that they may be part of a “coordinated attack”.  Law enforcement throughout the west coast is reportedly being put on alert to look out for “opportunists” and those who may have more sinister motives.

Nobody has said what those "more sinister motives" might be, nor any speculation about the political affiliations of the suspects. However, the timeline is most or all of the wildfires in the first image have started in the past week or so.

I have a loose theory, but it'll take a bit to explain. Bear with me.

[*dons tin-foil hat*]

If you want to travel from the coast or Willamette Valley to Central and Eastern Oregon, there are five main passes over the Cascade Mountains:

(image credit: Google Maps. Arrows added by yours truly.)

From top to bottom:

  • I-84 East from Portland
  • US-26 East from Portland
  • OR-22 East from Salem
  • OR-20 East from Corvallis
  • OR-58 East from Eugene

Observe that the first two go through or near Portland, while the last three avoid it.

As of yesterday (sorry, no closure map available), OR-22 was closed due to wildfires. The towns of Gates, Mill City, Detroit, Idhana, and a few others were burning. Some sections are still closed today.

Parts of OR-20 were also closed for a while, but those fires were brought under control.

What about OR-58?

Law Enforcement Today again (bold emphasis mine):

A middle aged man with tattoos was determined to set fire at the state park in Dexter, Oregon.  On Wednesday, September 9,2020 firefighters arrived to someone attempting to start fires at the Dexter State Recreation Area, an Oregon State Park. The park is along Highway 58. This is one of the few places people can travel in Oregon and not deal too heavily with fire.

Here's my tin-foil-hat theory. The fires -- particularly the ones along the highways -- look like a coordinated effort to do one or both of two things: Keep people boxed in the valley in their homes, and/or prevent help from coming in from Central and Eastern Oregon.

Central and Eastern Oregon are mostly rural, conservative counties, a.k.a. "Trump country". If Oregon has anything like the "Cajun Navy" that helped evacuate Louisianans after Hurricane Katrina, it would come from there.

Oregon Presidential Election Results 2016.svg
Oregon 2016 Presidential election results by county
(image credit: Wikipedia)

With the highways closed, any travel over the Cascades would have to route through the Portland area -- dangerously close to Antifa's seat of power and influence.

All in all, it seems a good way to force a confrontation between Antifa shock troops and unorganized "militia" groups coming in to help during an emergency. That such groups would be subject to Portland's stricter gun laws while in the area is only a bonus.

[*doffs tin-foil hat*]

But I'm #JustABlogger, not a "real journalist", so what the Hell do I know?

Stay safe out there.