Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Differences in Perspective

It's all about perspective. The sinking of the Titanic was a miracle to the lobsters in the ship's kitchen. -- Wynne McLoughlin
[Author's note: This is a pretty long post, just over 2,000 words including this note. The TL;DR is, most of the news is incomplete and biased to favor the perspective of whoever's reporting, so it's in your interests to try and get both sides. Rare is the article that fairly covers the whole of what's being covered.]

I receive e-mail updates from a lot of different groups, both professional and political (and sometimes both, as you'll soon see), from both sides of the aisle. It's interesting to read how the same events are portrayed by the different sides.

For background: The 2023 Oregon Legislative Session ends on June 30. The Democrats have a majority in both chambers — House and Senate — and have been pushing hard to pass a ton of "Progressive" (read: socialist, state-empowering, collectivist, etc.) bills on all kinds of topics, from "reproductive health" (House Bill [HB] 2002 [PDF warning], which removes age-of-consent and parental notification requirements for abortions, gender transition surgeries, and hormone replacement drugs), to changing mental health and drug treatment reporting, to "gun control".

On that last, plenty of people (myself included, here and here) have reported on Measure 114 — currently on hold in State Court — and its legislative counterpart, Senate Bill (SB) 348 [PDF warning], which is even worse, making it harder to purchase firearms even with a "permit-to-purchase", and increasing the fees involved.

There's also HB 2572 [PDF warning], which bans Constitutionally-protected militia groups as "private paramilitary organizations" — but through some creative language exempts BLM/Antifa and their "mostly peaceful" activities.

And HB 2005 [PDF warning], which adds a whole bunch of "gun free zones" to limit where CHL holders can carry, bars 18-20 year-olds from purchasing ANY firearms, and redefines "receiver" in such a way that makes all AR-pattern guns illegal. (If passed and signed into law, Oregon's definition of "receiver" would not match the federal definition, so gun manufacturers would need to re-tool to make Oregon-compliant AR-pattern receivers, and it's unknown how or if the BATFE would require the records to change. I may cover this in more detail in another post.)

And more.

On top of that, Oregon has a law passed in 1979 that established a readability requirement for any legislative bill's summary. Summaries must be understandable for an 8th-grade-level reader. The law is intended for transparency, so that normal citizens can understand what the legislature is voting on.

Because of these and other Constitutionally-questionable (or Constitutionally-invalid) bills, and because the bill summaries are inaccurate or unreadable for someone without a law degree, and because the Democrat majority seems intent on steamrolling their agenda into place, 13 Senators — 12 Republicans and one Independent — have taken the only Constitutional step they can take to stop the madness, and walked out. This denies quorum, the minimum number of Senators required to conduct business on the Senate floor (2/3 of members are required to be present; in the Senate that's 20 of the 30 members), and halts the agenda.

(A bit more background: Denying quorum is the minority party's last resort to affect the agenda, and carries significant risk — and now cost — to the legislators who walk out. Last year voters passed Measure 113, which states that legislators with 10 or more "unexcused absences" become ineligible to run for re-election. [If you assumed that Constitutional, First-Amendment-protected-protest walk-outs are not considered excused absences, you'd be right.] That 10-day mark has passed for all but a couple Senate Republicans, so most-if-not-all of them won't be back after the next election. To be clear: Senate Republicans basically committed career suicide to uphold their and their constituents' ideals.)

But now to the topic of today's post: Differences in Perspective.

What's interesting is how the walk-out is being reported, depending on who's doing the reporting.

Oregon Firearms Federation (OFF), in their e-mail and online Alerts, has talked about it quite a bit:

May 5, "Showdown":
Today for the third day, the Oregon Senate Republicans have denied quorum, shutting down business on the Senate floor. [...] This completely legal and constitutional action, which we have been encouraging, was taken in response to the clearly and demonstrably unlawful actions of the Democrat Senator President, actions also taken by the Democrat House Speaker.
May 18, "Wagner Craps Out":
The Democrats love to drone on about the rights of minorities and pat themselves on the back for their demands for "equity and inclusion." But in the end, they are transparent frauds. [...] The far left "OPB" was right. The Democrats, in their zeal for retribution, screwed up. They now have zero leverage. The Senate Republicans have demonstrated amazing courage and selflessness....
And more at their site. (Also, drop a line to the Senate Republicans with a big "Thank You" for standing up for their principles. The list is at that link.)

Notice the tone describing the Republican Senators and their actions: respectful and appreciative, with words like, "legal", "constitutional", "courage", "selflessness". Contrast with the tone describing the Democrat leaders: "clearly and demonstrably unlawful", "zeal for retribution".

For an opposing view, here is how public union SEIU 503 talks about the walk-out in a May 26 e-mail newsletter:
Walkout Continues at the Oregon Legislature: For more than three weeks, Republican Senators (and a Republican turned Independent) have refused to go to work and blocked any bills from advancing in the Senate - including the state budget with funding for our agencies and bargaining. These lawmakers are still collecting paychecks funded by Oregon taxpayers. We know that when working people don’t show up to work, they certainly don’t get paid, and they might even lose their job. SEIU members worked through a pandemic, wildfires, historic ice storms, and more – and we need these Senators to come back to pass legislation that is critical to SEIU members and all Oregonians. Do your part by telling them to get back to work today! [emphasis in original, internal links omitted]
Wow, that's quite a difference, isn't it? Condescending, holier-than-thou tone, with not even an attempt at informing their members why the Republicans chose to walk. They make the GOP Senators sound like terrorists, hijacking the agenda and holding the state budget hostage, to be released only when their political demands are met!

(Also, point of fact, SEIU officers' paychecks are also primarily funded by taxpayers; they mostly come from member dues, which come out of taxpayer-funded public employee paychecks. Second point of fact, legislators also worked through the same pandemic, wildfires, ice storms, etc. Pot, meet kettle.)

Granted, OFF and SEIU are fairly partisan organizations, so let's now read the words of one of the Senators themselves, Sen. Daniel Bonham (R-District 26), from his own legislative update newsletters:

May 9:
Since last week, Senate Republicans and Independents have protested the unconstitutional actions of the majority party by exercising our constitutional right to deny quorum or the minimum number of Senators required to conduct business on the Senate Floor. [...] The spark that lit the match to walkout is the Democrats’ willful violation of the law. [...] When a bill is introduced, its summary must be clearly understandable at an 8th-grade level, as laid out in the Constitution and subsection 5 of Senate Rule 13.02 and ORS 171.134. [...] This is to ensure transparency, so laws are not merely crafted by attorneys and those with enough money to afford them. Every Oregonian should have reasonable access to the process. [...] Democrats must FOLLOW THE LAW. [emphasis in original]
May 18:
On Monday, I had crossed the threshold of 10 unexcused absences, which means I may not be able to run for Senate again, according to the unconstitutional Measure 113 that passed last November. [...] Today, the majority of GOP Senators have hit their 10-days, meaning there is no turning back now. We are in it for the long haul. [...] As a reminder, Senate Republicans and Independents are currently protesting the unconstitutional actions of the majority party by exercising our constitutional right to deny quorum or the minimum number of Senators required to conduct business on the Senate Floor.
(There's also an example of Democrat corruption at this link, but it's not important to this article other than a backdrop to the walk-out.)

May 25 (the latest as of this writing):
Measure 113 was last year's ambiguously-worded statewide initiative concerning quorum and "unexcused" absences. It is unconstitutional. Words matter, and it's not entirely clear when Measure 113 would kick in. Also, it violates our First Amendment rights and of those who would elect us. [...] The political ploy was evident when the Senate President called for session on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, until my colleagues and I hit 10 days of unexcused absences. Now he is adjourning the Thursday Floor sessions until Monday. This is political theater. [...] I will say loud and clear that Republicans have an interest in passing bipartisan bills and bipartisan budgets.... [...] Republicans and Democrats have come together on the final day of Session in recent years to get this critical work done.
Sen. Bonham's tone is mostly matter-of-fact. He's giving his informed opinion on the happenings within the State Capitol, but not calling names or being disrespectful toward his Democrat colleagues (critical of their actions, sure, but not disrespectful of the people). And he offers a suggestion: Focus on bipartisan bills and budgets, and let the Republicans have a voice in the process.

Finally, for a more neutral report, the Oregon Capital Chronicle and their article from May 7, "Oregon Senate Republican walkout hits day 5, Knopp acknowledges ‘partisan’ bills as factor":
Sunday morning in an all-but-deserted downtown Salem heralded the start of a new week and a routine that’s become all too familiar in the state Senate as Republicans entered their fifth day of a walkout.


Republicans have insisted they’re protesting a failure to comply with a state law that requires bill summaries to be written at about an eighth-grade reading level. Democrats say they’re trying to prevent votes on bills protecting abortion rights and transgender health care and limiting guns.

Senate Minority Leader Tim Knopp, R-Bend, allowed during a phone call on Sunday that Republicans are also protesting about 20 different bills they consider “hyperpartisan,” including high-profile measures on abortion, guns and transgender health care. If Senate President Rob Wagner, D-Lake Oswego, chooses to set aside those bills – as Democrats did in response to a Republican walkout over carbon cap legislation in 2019 – and orders staff to write new summaries in simpler language for other measures, Republicans will return, Knopp said.
And here, finally, we have a solution clearly stated. If Senate President Rob Wagner (D-District 19) would remove those bills from the agenda until more readable summaries are written — a reasonable request, given state law — the Republican Senators will come back to pass critical bills, like the state and agency budgets, infrastructure and housing measures, mental health care, and many others. The only thing I'd add to the reporting is that walking out is not a Republican tactic, but a Constitutional one; the Democrats have used it in the past to force negotiations and concessions as well.

The bottom line is, as much hate as the Republicans are getting from the Left and the mainstream media (but I repeat myself), Senate President Rob Wagner is just as much in control. (I use the analogy: The Oregon Senate is like a car — the majority party controls the steering, the minority party controls the brakes. All the Senate President has to do is turn the wheel away from the cliff, and the Republicans will let up on the pedal.) He could shelve the disputed bills and move on to bipartisan — and arguably more important to Oregonians — budgets and legislation that benefits everyone. But he and his media and union allies seem set on laying blame on their opponents and pushing forward with the divisive, "hyperpartisan" agenda.

In other words, business as usual for the past several years.

Stay safe out there.

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Expedited Shipping from Palmetto State Armory!

I happened by the Palmetto State Armory site to see what deals they had, and was greeted by this notice at the top of every page (click to embiggerate and read):

I assume that while Measure 114 is being challenged — but all or part may yet be allowed to go into effect at any time (courts are a crap-shoot; there's no telling yet what will happen) — PSA is expediting shipping for all standard-capacity (greater than 10 rounds) magazines and firearm orders going to Oregon while such items are still legal to buy.

If you live in Oregon and were thinking of making an order, now would be a good time.

Well done, Palmetto State Armory! Way to look out for your customers!

Stay safe out there.

Monday, November 14, 2022

Ballot Measure 114: About that Required "Firearm Safety Course"....

Continuing on the Very Bad Thing™ that is Measure 114. Full text available here (PDF warning).

From Section 4 — the "Permit-to-Purchase Process" section — subsection 1:
(b) A person is qualified to be issued a permit-to-purchase under this section if the person:
(D) Provides proof of completion of a firearm safety course as defined in subsection (8) of this section....

So now let's go see what Section 4, subsection 8 says:
(8) As used in this section, "proof of completion of a firearm safety course" means the following:
(a) Proof of completion of any firearms training course or class available to the general public that is offered by law enforcement, a community college, or a private or public institution or organization or firearms training school utilizing instructors certified by a law enforcement agency, and that includes components set forth in paragraph (c) of this subsection; or
(b) Proof of completion of any law enforcement firearms training course or class that is offered for security guards, investigators, reserve law enforcement officers, or any other law enforcement officers, and that includes components set forth in paragraph (c) of this subsection;
(c) A firearms training course or class required for issuance of a permit-to-purchase must include:
  (A) Review of federal and state laws in place at the time of the class and other safe practices related to ownership, purchase, transportation and use of firearms;
  (B) Review of federal and state safe storage laws in place at the time of the class and other safe practices related to safe storage, including reporting lost and stolen guns;
  (C) Prevention of abuse or misuse of firearms, including the impact of homicide and suicide on families, communities and the country as a whole; and
  (D) In-person demonstration of the applicant's ability to lock, load, unload, fire and store a firearm before an instructor certified by a law enforcement agency. This requirement may be met separately from the other course requirements in subpargagraphs [sic] (A), (B) and (C) of paragraph (c), which may be completed in an on-line course, provided the on-line course has been conducted by a trainer certified by law enforcement.
(d) Proof of successful completion of a training course in order to meet the requirements for a concealed handgun license issued under ORS 166.291 and 166.292 may be submitted for a permit as a substitute for the requirements in paragraph (c) of this subsection, provided the completed course included each of the components set forth in paragraph (c) of this subsection.

Some people might read this and think, "So what? This all seems reasonable. What's wrong with this?"

Let's get started.

Starting from the end, subparagraph (d) says that proof of completion of a training course or class to qualify for a Concealed Handgun License (CHL) can be provided as a substitute for the course or class to qualify for a permit-to-purchase, IF (big "IF") that course or class includes "each of the components set forth in paragraph (c)". That sounds good, until you check the training required for a CHL.

Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) 166.291, subsection 1, paragraph (f) reads:
(1) The sheriff of a county, upon a person’s application for an Oregon concealed handgun license, upon receipt of the appropriate fees and after compliance with the procedures set out in this section, shall issue the person a concealed handgun license if the person:
(f) Demonstrates competence with a handgun by any one of the following:
  (A) Completion of any hunter education or hunter safety course approved by the State Department of Fish and Wildlife or a similar agency of another state if handgun safety was a component of the course;
  (B) Completion of any National Rifle Association firearms safety or training course if handgun safety was a component of the course;
  (C) Completion of any firearms safety or training course or class available to the general public offered by law enforcement, community college, or private or public institution or organization or firearms training school utilizing instructors certified by the National Rifle Association or a law enforcement agency if handgun safety was a component of the course;
  (D) Completion of any law enforcement firearms safety or training course or class offered for security guards, investigators, reserve law enforcement officers or any other law enforcement officers if handgun safety was a component of the course;
  (E) Presents evidence of equivalent experience with a handgun through participation in organized shooting competition or military service;
  (F) Is licensed or has been licensed to carry a firearm in this state, unless the license has been revoked; or
  (G) Completion of any firearms training or safety course or class conducted by a firearms instructor certified by a law enforcement agency or the National Rifle Association if handgun safety was a component of the course;

(Astute readers might notice that Measure 114's section (4)(8), paragraphs (a) and (b), look like they were copy-pasted from ORS 166.291(1)(f), subparagraphs (C) and (D), with "Proof of" inserted at the beginning.)

There are two problems here: First is that the only consistent requirement from all these option is that "handgun safety" was a component. Locking, loading, unloading, firing, and storing — as required by Measure 114 — are not part of a typical CHL training course. Thus, most certificates of completion for a CHL won't qualify for a permit-to-purchase.

Second, a CHL applicant has a broad array of options to meet the training requirement: a course can be conducted by a trainer certified by law enforcement OR the Department of Fish & Wildlife (or another state's equivalent) OR the military OR the National Rifle Association. Even participation in organized shooting sports could count for a CHL application! Measure 114 removes ALL these other avenues and requires you to take a law-enforcement-certified class instead.

However, most CHL trainers are certified by the NRA, not law enforcement, and thus their certificates of completion for a CHL won't qualify for a permit-to-purchase. (It's ironic that cutting the NRA out of the training options has been on the anti-gunners' wish-list for some time, given that the NRA was formed for the express purpose of teaching civilians how to shoot. Regardless, the anti-gunners got their wish.)

So your CHL training certificate probably won't work. You'll have to take additional training.

But where do you get it? This creates a few other potential problems:
  • Trainers certified by law enforcement tend to be law enforcement themselves, with all the normal duties of a sworn police officer.
  • There's no requirement for any law enforcement agency to certify anyone else to provide permit-to-purchase training.
  • There's no funding secured in the measure for any law enforcement agency to review private trainers' curriculum or issue certifications. (The "Defund the Police" movement further complicates things here.) This could mean their in-agency trainers are the only local people qualified to provide courses.
  • Law enforcement trainers' time is limited. Tasking them with training private citizens adds an additional set of responsibilities, from developing curriculum and running the courses, for which they will (quite reasonably) expect to be compensated. Private citizen classes will likely be very costly.

And that last assumes their agency's brass doesn't continually fill their schedules with additional law enforcement classes, rendering them unavailable to train private citizens. Or create policies imposing arbitrary limits on permit-to-purchase class sizes. Imagine if a local department's only trainer is allowed to offer the course no more than once per month, with an attendance limit of six people. How long do you think before you can get in?

So training is required before you can apply for permission to purchase a firearm, but it's not necessarily a given that training will be affordable or even available.

And yet, that's still not the most glaring problem of the training requirement.

Ready for it?

The most glaring problem is in paragraph (c), subparagraph (D): "In-person demonstration of the applicant's ability to lock, load, unload, fire and store a firearm before an instructor certified by a law enforcement agency."

Before a prospective gun owner can apply for a permit to receive a firearm, they must first demonstrate — in-person before a law-enforcement-certified trainer — the ability to safely handle a firearm they are not yet allowed to have. Where is this firearm supposed to come from?

And if someone were allowed to bring a gun they already own for the in-person demonstration, and then the background check for the permit-to-purchase revealed they are a "prohibited person" who cannot legally possess that firearm, how is that not a Fifth Amendment violation?

(On that note, will a private trainer who lacks "qualified immunity" want to open themselves to the legal liability of possibly letting a "prohibited person" handle his/her guns?)

This measure is a mess. I'd say someone who doesn't understand existing gun laws wrote it, but it's becoming clearer and clearer that measures like this are written to sound good and reasonable to people who don't know the current law, while dovetailing with the specifics of existing laws to create an impassable legal quagmire for current and prospective gun owners. It is deliberate.

More to come on this measure later. Stay safe out there.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Quote of the Day — Oregon Ballot Measure 114

From the highly-restrictive "gun control" ballot measure that narrowly passed (50.83% to 49.17%) on Tuesday:
A permit-to-purchase issued under this section does not create any right of the permit holder to receive a firearm.

[Full text of the measure available here at Ballotpedia. PDF warning.]

This is from the Section 4 — specifically, Sectiom 4(6)(a) — of the measure that mandates a permit-to-purchase for all non-family firearm transfers (remember that Oregon prohibited private transactions outside immediate family members a few years ago). To qualify for a permit-to-purchase, an applicant must:
  • Complete an application (form to-be-determined) with legal name, current address, telephone number, place and date of birth, physical description, and any other information the agency issuing the permit deems necessary;
  • Sign the application in front of the permit agent;
  • Provide proof of completion of a firearm safety class approved by law enforcement;
  • Provide government-issued photo ID;
  • Submit to fingerprinting and additional photographing by the permit agent;
  • Submit to a criminal background check through the Oregon State Police (OSP) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) — more on this in a moment — and,
  • Pay the fees associated with the fingerprinting and background check, which the measure says shall not exceed $65 (read: shall be $65).

The measure also allows up to 30 days for the permit-to-purchase background check (and if you think the permitting agency getting an answer back early means you'll get your permit early, I've got a bridge in Alaska for sale at a great price). Presenting a permit-to-purchase to the gun dealer, as required by this measure, also does NOT replace the OSP-run background check at the point of sale OR its $10 fee.

The fingerprint card gets sent to the FBI as part of the process, and this bit is "interesting" — from the measure, Section 4(1)(e): "The Federal Bureau of Investigation shall return the fingerprint cards used to conduct the criminal background check and may not keep any record of the fingerprints." Does the State of Oregon have the authority to tell the FBI what information it may and may not keep? I doubt it.

But back to the QOTD above. While I understand that neither the U.S. or State Constitutions nor any legislative bill or ballot measure "create" any rights, this line's appearance in the text would mean that even after jumping through all the hoops, passing all the checks, and paying all the fees, a permit holder could still be denied a firearm.

The effective date is not stated in the measure (which is another "interesting" aspect), but is assumed to be 30 days after passage, or December 8, 2022. That doesn't give permit agencies much time to standardize forms, review and approve "safety classes", or implement an entire permitting scheme, does it?

It's not hyperbole to say this measure is a major blow to the firearms industry in Oregon. I already know of multiple dealers whose plan in the face of this is to sell their existing stock (which due to panic, should be done by this weekend) and then either close up shop or move out of state. Nobody will be able to buy or sell a firearm until permits-to-purchase are in-hand, which will be 30 days after the effective date, assuming "safety classes" are available (more on this in another post). That's at least a month of zero legal firearm sales.

And this is only one section of the measure. I'll have more to post on it in the coming days.

Yes, it's going to be challenged in court, especially in light of SCOTUS' Bruen decision, but that will take time and resources. In the meantime, we have to live with it.

Stay safe out there.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Is This Real? — IRS-CID Edition

It's a valid question.

For context, this is supposedly a group of the IRS's 87,000 new Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CID) field agents, who will be given agency-issued firearms and arrest powers.

How many 4 Rules violations do you see? Specifically Rule #2; how many times do you think the group muzzle-flagged each other? (I saw the second guy have his gun pointed directly at the first guy's back at least twice.)

I would offer safe gun-handling tips, and maybe some suggestions on how to navigate a space without crossing paths with allies — and thus avoiding Rule #2 violations — but I believe Napoleon had it right: Never interrupt your enemy when he's making a mistake.

Remember as you're voting this November (or in your primaries, if you haven't yet): Your tax dollars are paying for this; they'll be making sure of it!

Stay safe out there.

[via J.Kb at Gun Free Zone]

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.