Category Archives: Democrats

Kitzhaber values: saving murderers, killing the unborn

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, a Democrat, is currently serving his third nonconsecutive term as Oregon’s governor, and the people of the state have become somewhat used to him by now; at age 66, he knows the job and his two prior terms set up certain expectations when Oregonians re-elected him in 2010 over Republican candidate and former NBA star, Chris Dudley, by a narrow 1.52 percent of the vote.

Yet his narrow victory has only emboldened the third-termer to govern from a more radical position, rather than a more moderate one. During his first two terms, Kitzhaber complied with the policy preferences of the Oregonian people by allowing those on death row to be executed when their dates came due.

No longer.

In fact, Governor Kitzhaber recently won a victory before the Oregon State Supreme Court that grants him a rather odd right; namely, the ability to commute death sentences to life-in-prison terms, whether the inmate wants his or her sentence commuted or not.

While starry-eyed idealists might imagine that anyone sitting on death row would prefer to live rather than to die, this is not always the case.

Take, for example, the case of Gary Haugen. Convicted of the murder of his girlfriend’s mother about 30 years ago at the age of 19, Haugen’s initial sentence was life in prison; however, his punishment was upgraded to the death penalty four years ago, when he murdered a fellow inmate.

Despite a trial that found Haugen guilty on both counts and came to a legal penalty in the state of Oregon as punishment for the second murder, Governor Kitzhaber sought to commute the death penalty for Haugen to a life term, hoping to spare his life.

Yet an uncommon, but not unheard of, development took place. Haugen didn’t want his death penalty commuted. He preferred to die, and sooner than later.

In an interview with Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Kristian Foden-Vencil, Haugen resents his lawyers for trying to block his desire to die:

“Competency to die. Competency to — you know — they say if you argue against taking the test, if you argue against incompetency, then you’re incompetent. So you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t,” Haugen said.

Kitzhaber’s actions do not permanently take Haugen off death row; it only blocks his execution while Kitzhaber remains in office. The governor’s current term ends on January 12, 2015. Were he to run for an unprecedented fourth term at the age of 68 by then, Kitzhaber could remain in office until at least 2019.

The effect of the Supreme Court decision is that Kitzhaber no longer needs the agreement of the convicts to grant them a reprieve from execution. Instead, murderers like Haugen will remain on the state’s tax rolls indefinitely, even when those prisoners would prefer to die.

Oregon voters have wavered on the death penalty since it was first established in 1903. It was most recently reinstated in 1984, and only two executions have taken place in the state since then, both during Governor Kitzhaber’s first term: one in 1996 and the other in 1997. Kitzhaber has campaigned relentlessly since being elected to his third term to end all death row executions for as long as he’s governor, and also hopes to put the issue before voters again as a ballot initiative.

In the meantime, Kitzhaber continues to flout Oregon law by enforcing his personal policy preferences, rather than accepting the will of the voters to enforce the death penalty.

In a statement released by Kitzhaber’s office, he said:

“I am pleased that the Oregon Supreme Court affirmed my constitutional authority to issue a reprieve. I renew my call for a reevaluation of our current system that embraces capital punishment, which has devolved into an unworkable system that fails to meet the basic standards of justice. I am still convinced that we can find a better solution that holds offenders accountable and keeps society safe, supports the victims of crime and their families and reflects Oregon values.”

Kitzhaber’s values would be more accurate there. Oregon’s values, as proven by the 1984 vote, favor a death penalty.

Other inmates whose desire to have their death penalty carried out have been frustrated by Governor Reprieve include the serial murderer Dayton Leroy Rogers, who claimed at least seven victims in the greater Portland area before he was apprehended in 1987.

Irony underlies Kitzhaber’s position on this issue: he is a pro-choice Democrat, so it could honestly be stated that Oregon’s governor is working harder to save the lives of convicted murderers than he is the defenseless lives of the unborn. Nice values, there, Governor.

Items of concern among Obama’s 23 executive orders on gun control

It’s clear the current administration is no friend of the U.S. Constitution, and so once again President Obama is using and abusing the powers of executive orders to accomplish things he doesn’t want to sit around and run past Congress. (In other words, allow our democracy to function as one.)

While none of the president’s twenty-three orders related to gun control are part of a president’s mandated powers, a few raised special concern when I reviewed them, because of their egregious nature. They include the following.

2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.

For the underinformed, the President is talking about HIPPA here, the legislation that absolutely guarantees an individual’s right to doctor-patient confidentiality, both in the medical and mental health fields.

This is no small matter. My wife is finishing her training to become a clinical counselor, and the primary focus of one of her classes was HIPPA regulations. The law is so strict that she could come under scrutiny simply by talking to me, her spouse, about a client of hers.

If patient confidentiality is so sacrosanct that a doctor or counselor can’t even talk to their own spouse about their day’s work — and I believe that to be a proper and correct standard — how on Earth does our president get away with labeling HIPPA an “unnecessary legal barrier,” that’s what I’d like to see addressed.

Of course, these are being done as “executive actions,” so it can’t even be debated in the House or Senate. Very asinine.

4. Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.

Oh, he means U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who has been called upon to step down since last summer for refusing to disclose information on Fast and Furious, among other contempt of Congress charges. That attorney general? We’re supposed to trust that he won’t just decide being an NRA member or a registered member of the GOP won’t suddenly qualify you as a “dangerous person?”

Good grief, as Charlie Brown would say.

14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.

Umm… yeah, whatever that means. I’m pretty sure the decision to shoot up a public place isn’t caused by a virus, but… whatever. Liberalism is the politics of feeling better, not the politics of results, after all.

Even if one looks at it from a mental health perspective, there’s not just one affliction that causes individuals to shoot places up. Sure, in some cases, one might find that a handful of shooters had taken Oxycontin or something like that… but Oxycontin is used by thousands of people and only a handful go on shooting rampages.

But hey, it’s not the worst executive order of the batch, so have at it, I guess. It’s not like there’s a budget deficit and a need to crack down on pointless spending, after all.

16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.

Except that it does. Very specifically so. But, hey, this is liberalism… the law only means what the President says it does. Green is purple, if that’s what the president says, right?

Yeesh.

But the worse part is that Obama is now using ObamaCare to turn doctors and nurses into law enforcement agents, rather than healers. Still love ObamaCare?

17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.

This, as far as I know, is already true. It’s one of the rare exceptions in the HIPPA regulations as they existed B.O. (Before Obama). All medical and mental health workers are already currently required to report exchanges between patients and themselves if they believe the patient to be “an imminent threat to themselves or others.”

Well, I guess the president wanted to pad things out.

And that’s about it. Some of the other items are padding, too. Others are not overly concerning because they seem relatively meaningless at worst, and potentially even helpful. Like this one:

23. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.

Sure, why not? Mental health is very likely a far more important factor than violence in media, or private gun ownership by the law-abiding, anyway.

So, launch a national dialogue on mental health. Do that. In fact, do mostly that. It’s a lot closer to being on-point than the other 22 items on this list.

Lanny Davis: Just because it wouldn’t solve the problem…

Speaking on the Sean Hannity radio program today, former Clinton Administration advisor Lanny Davis misspoke and let the liberal agenda on gun control out of the bag. Speaking to Hannity and while being questioned on the effectiveness of an assault weapons ban in preventing future school and mall shootings, Davis said the following:

“Just because it wouldn’t solve the problem,” Davis said, “doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea.”

Exactly.

This proves the political left isn’t concerned with passing legislation that would prevent future tragedies like the recent shootings in Aurora, Colorado; Clackamas, Oregon; Newtown, Connectict; or just today at Taft, California. All those sites were designated gun-free zones, remember.

No, what the Obama administration are interested in is capitalizing off these tragedies to advance their anti-gun, Second Amendment-hating agenda.

Take the word of a liberal, not mine.

“Just because it wouldn’t solve the problem,” Davis said, “doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea.”

A word or two on guns

I try to be discreet about where I live, other than saying that I live in the greater Portland area these days.

But given the course of recent events, I will admit that I live close enough to Clackamas Town Center that I often go there for lunch. In fact, the week before the shooting that made the mall temporarily famous, I went there for lunch no fewer than three times. One of those times, I even stopped in the food court there to eat my meal. Given the hours I work, I usually go for lunch between 2:30 and 3:30 p.m.

The following week, on Tuesday, I was revved up in my day job and so when I woke up especially hungry, I started my day out with an energy bar so that I could “get through” to lunch a couple hours later.

As a result of that energy bar, I thought about going to the mall for lunch less than I had the week before. Every time I thought about picking up some steak teriyaki that day, I put it off. “I’m not that hungry yet.” “It doesn’t sound that good today.” I wrote it off to just not being that hungry, and perhaps that I had gone once too often the week before.

“No problem,” I told myself. “I can go on Wednesday instead.”

So, sometime after 3 p.m., I harnessed up our little min-Pin and took her for a walk around the complex. As I walked her, I heard a few sirens in the distance. Then more than a few sirens. And by the time Shadow had finished her business, I even started to hear helicopters.

I asked a neighbor if they knew what was going on. They didn’t have a clue. Using my smartphone, I looked up The Oregonian and all I saw was a report of a fire in SE Portland, but I had no idea if the address was close by or far off.

Seems like a lot of fuss for a fire, I thought. Must be a bad one.

I walked back home, fed the dog her “good girl” bones for taking care of business like an obedient dog, sat down at my computer to get back to work, and decided due to the noise from the helicopters nearby, to look up the Oregonian web site on my PC instead of my smart phone.

That’s how and when I learned of the Clackamas Town Center shooting. Work was out the window for the rest of the day as I flipped on television news to learn more details. It was surreal to hear the sound of news copters on television live shots outside my favorite mall, then mute the TV sound and be able to hear the same helicopters.

Had I chosen to grab lunch at CTC that day, the timing would have been perfect to be right in the line of fire when Jacob Tyler Roberts, wearing a hockey mask and heavy black clothing, burst out of Macy’s and started shooting up the food court across from the Macy’s south location.

So, in a way, a protein bar perhaps saved my life that day. Because when I do lunch, I tend to go grab lunch first, then walk the dog when I get back. I would have arrived at Clackamas Town Center only a few minutes before the shooting began, and would have been waiting on my lunch to be prepared right in front of me when Roberts opened fire.

Now, sure… I didn’t go to lunch that day. My life was never directly in danger. But did the synchronicity of those events, the “I could have been there, in the line of fire” sense of things, mess with my head a bit? Just in terms of freaking me out a bit?

Yeah. It did.

But I felt far worse for the victims. Two adults died, and one teenage girl could have… but mercifully survived.

Also, I have acquaintances and neighbors who work there. I have heard them tell their account of being there when the mall went crazy in a bad way. I can relate very directly to the sensitivities inherent in surviving such an event.

So, I know guns are a touchy subject right now. Especially since, three days later, a much bloodier mass shooting took place on the east coast, taking the lives of 20 children and six adults. That kind of double-whammy is thankfully rare, but nevertheless disturbing.

Let me also say, I have no membership in any gun-rights group, though I do believe that the second amendment is there for a reason, and a very good one, and should not be abolished.

But do I have a taste for guns? Not personally.

When I was young, I chose fishing over hunting and concentrated most of my time learning that sport. Yet I did take part in a gun safety course in middle school, taught after-hours by the local chapter of the NRA. I did take part in rifle-based target shooting when I went to summer camp around that same period in my life.

And in high school, I went pheasant-hunting with my father one time. I was given an under-over rifle that had a .22 and a .410 built into it. I cleaned it many times.

But on that one hunting trip, I had a single opportunity to take down a pheasant my father had scared up, and even though I had it in my sights, I couldn’t bring myself to take the shot.

Not because I’m some weepy left-winger who thinks every deer harvested during hunting season is Bambi’s mom, either. It just didn’t appeal to me. I knew the moment I decided to let the pheasant fly away that I was a pure fisherman with no hunter in me.

So, yeah, I’m not even really a gun owner.

But I feel reassured by the fact that if I wanted to own a gun, I could.

(Technically, I do have a single pistol that my father, who served in World War 2, let me have as a keepsake. It’s kept in a safe place and probably hasn’t been fired since the 1940s when my father brought it home from Europe with him. And so far as I’m concerned, it’ll stay that way. I keep it purely as a reminder of my father’s military service.)

I’m not someone inclined toward gun ownership, personally.

Yet, once again, I feel reassured that if I wanted to own one, I have the freedom to do so, if I ever change my mind. Not that I expect to. But it is reassuring.

In wake of the Clackamas Town Center shooting, and the tragedy in Connecticut as well, the nation is talking once again about banning some, or perhaps even all, guns.

That, I oppose.

Why?

Look, we know the typical talking points on both sides, so I don’t have to restate them, do I?

“Guns are evil.”

“No, people are evil … guns are just a tool and if you take them away, evil people would use something else.”

On and on.

What I will say is this: both sides are arguing off-point most of the time.

To the gun-banning liberals, I’ll just say this: Show me a gun that, unaided by any human wielder, starts shooting up someplace, and then you’ll have a point that guns are evil. Get over that bit and start honestly arguing your real point: that, yes, it’s a tool, but you consider it a tool too dangerous to be owned. It might be a harder sell, but it’d be worlds more honest.

Also, show me how keeping guns out of the hands of those who obey the law prevents those who don’t obey the law from using guns, and again, maybe you’ll have an argument that makes sense.

But in the case of Jake Roberts, all his artillery was stolen. So shutting down the sale of guns, or banning semi-automatics, or restricting clip-sizes, or whatever else you think is a solution, would not have prevented Roberts’ rampage.

Make smarter arguments if you want to make your case, and stop arguing as if guns act on their own, without a person pointing them and pulling the trigger. Because right now, you really all sound silly. And stupid.

And, to the gun-loving, NRA-member conservatives, I’ll just say this: stop acting like every incident of violence is no big deal. This time, most of you kept silent for a respectful amount of time, and that was good. But to then suggest we all revert to a combination of the Old West and a police state, where there are a lot more guns being wielded, just comes off badly and makes you look like rabid dogs.

Yes, historically, you’re right: the second amendment isn’t just about hunting. It’s about giving the people an ability to overthrow the government, should it become unjust.

But let’s get real: the government now has nukes, tanks, way more firepower, and now even unmanned drones. Even if every citizen carried an Uzi on them, it would not ensure us of the ability to overthrow a corrupt administration. So let’s stop it with all the dialogue suggesting that’s even possible. It’s not.

What you should be doing is arguing for the right kind of reforms, reforms that might actually deter gun-related violence, but from a wiser perspective.

Since the other side’s solutions are often off-target, don’t just argue about law-abiding citizens having the right to their guns: instead, argue in favor of smarter penalties, stricter enforcement, and other such solutions that might actually reduce the frequency of someone from walking into a mall or a school and shooting up the place. And stop blaming scapegoats like movies and videogames in the process, please. Stay on focus and on topic.

If the left’s ideas are wacky and off-target, than propose better solutions than them. Someone has to.

And to both sides, I’ll just add one more thing: Everyone on both sides wants to talk about solutions that will “prevent another tragedy like this from ever happening again.”

Which sounds right and good and noble.

Except, of course, that it’s impossible.

Long before guns, someone atop Mount Sinai once offered this bit of advice: “You shall not murder.”

Great law. Right idea.

And yet people still murder.

Truth is, those who are murderous, are murderous.

Those who set their mind to kill others, will find a way to do it.

Tragedies that result in the loss of innocent lives will never cease in this world, because there will always be those who indulge in selfish, life-robbing actions.

In other words: things like this will happen no matter what laws we pass, no matter what Constitutions we either uphold to trash, no matter how armed or disarmed everyone in general is.

Sometimes, people just choose selfish, evil actions over selfless acts of kindness and good.

That won’t change in this world, in this life, ever. That idealism is reserved for the world to come.

So maybe we should all get off our respective moral high horses about “my ideas will prevent this from ever happening again.”

Because if God saying, “Thou shall not murder” doesn’t result in the end of all murder… no other laws will, either.

The rest is about trying to increase safety and reduce risk.

But nothing, no law, will ever ensure complete safety or eliminate all risk. It just won’t.

That is what we all have to learn to accept and deal with. Only then can our dialogue become truly productive.

Supremes to issue several rulings over next couple weeks

The nine folks in black, the U.S. Supreme Court, are set to issue several key rulings over the next two weeks before taking their summer break. One of the most important cases could invalidate ObamaCare.

If the president’s health care reform bill is struck down by the high court, it won’t be a unanimous decision; left-leaning Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg has promised “sharp disagreement” on that issue in particular, among the high court’s membership.

Is she right? Could it be a close, 5-4 decision that could go either way? Probably.

That means maybe it’s time to take up guitar and avoid headlines the rest of the month, until the court adjourns for the summer. I hear Recording King Guitars are some of the best for that purpose. Take it to the bank!

UN wants to impose global tax … on the internet!

Watch out, folks, the money-and-power grab is coming.

The United Nations is poised to propose a first-of-its-kind global tax … on the internet. According to a report on C.NET, “The United Nations is considering a new Internet tax targeting the largest Web content providers, including Google, Facebook, Apple, and Netflix, that could cripple their ability to reach users in developing nations.”

Yup, let’s take the one part of the global economy that’s not dead yet, and strangle the life out of it. That’s thinking!

This is, in many ways, worse than a global sales tax on things like discount appliance parts. The world economy is now quite internet-dependent; start taxing that, and inflation would spiral out of control not just in one country, but everywhere.

Be afraid of this one, people; be very afraid. Because with the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in charge, it’ll get signed and the US will surrender its sovereignty to foreign powers. Don’t let any current campaign position statements fool you, either; as he’s whispered to world leaders in the past, “just wait until I get my second term. Then I’ll have more flexibility.”

Coney Island principal bans patriotic Lee Greenwood song

With the typical cry of, “We don’t want to offend other cultures,” Coney Island principal Greta Hawkins of the Edna Cohen school forbade five classes of kindergartners from singing the Lee Greenwood ballad, “God Bless the USA (Proud to be an American)” at their graduation ceremony, even though the kids spent months rehearsing it.

To make matters worse, the song was replaced by the teen romance song, “Baby.”

Remember… these are kindergarten-age kids.

Greenwood, a country music artist, released the song originally in May 1984, and then-President Ronald Reagan soon declared it one of his favorite songs, using it and inviting Greenwood to perform it at some of his re-election campaign stops. The song’s popularity was re-ignited in 2001, following the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, DC.

The song has long been popular with immigrants to the USA. So educate us, Principal Hawkins: Exactly whose culture are you looking to protect from being offended? Because it’s certainly not the culture of anyone who, y’know, actually loves this country.

The long con

With virtually no solid successes to hang their hat on – even Obama Girl refuses to endorse Barak Obama! – the President’s forces are reduced to the long con: relying on statistics to prove they still have a chance. And as Mark Twain wrote, there are three levels of falsehoods in the world: lies, damn lies, and statistics.

According to Chicago mob boss/mayor Rahm Emanuel, the whole election is pretty much over before it starts. He’s counting 247 electoral votes for the mobster-in-chief, and 206 for Mitt Romney, with only 85 up for grabs. That sets up the idea that Romney has to “sweep the table” to win.

But as I said, it’s a long con. Not a single vote has been cast yet. Everything Emanuel’s talking about is based on polls, most of which notoriously overcount Democrats and undercount both undecided and GOPers.

Folks like Emanuel thought Carter had a decent shot at winning re-election against that rude, elderly upstart, Ronald Reagan, deep into the fall of 1980. We all know how well that turned out for the late 1970s version of Barak Obama, don’t we?

Gore a below average student in Natural Sciences

America’s top superstar yoyo, Algore, may have won a Nobel Prize for his film fakery, An Inconvenient Truth, but Harvard University didn’t think much of his grasp on natural sciences back when “the man who invented the Internet” was in college.

As a sophomore at Harvard in the 1960s, Gore took Natural Sciences 6, Man’s Place In Nature, and barely passed, earning a well-below average D. Two years later, as a senior, he took Natural Sciences 118, and earned slightly better, a C-plus, or… very average, which is well below average by Harvard standards.

This is the man a third of America believes hook, line, and sinker when it comes to environmental change? Bad choice, America. Bad choice.

Credit Where It’s Due: Gore’s Harvard records were first reported by David Maraniss and Ellen Nakashima at The Washington Post in March 2000.

President strikes low blow at press event

At the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner, President Obama demonstrated once again why he never gave up politics for an open mike night at The Comedy Shop, or to try out for Second City in his native Chicago.

In a lame attempt to take a swipe at Sarah Palin, which seems needless considering she’s not running this year, or even in office, Obama broke out this one-liner:

What’s the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? A pit bull is delicious.

Please. Lisa Lampanelli is funnier on Celebrity Apprentice while insulting Dayana Mendoza in the board room.

I mean, what’s the takeaway from this joke? That the president likes eating charbroiled pooch? Or that he’s considered cannibalism, since the joke assumes he is familiar with the taste of both hockey moms and pitbulls? The whole joke just falls flatter than the President believes most Americans keep their under-inflated tires and can only do further damage to his image.

He’d have been better off channeling Dwayne Johnson and saying, “Which do you think smells better, a hockey mom or a pitbull? It doesn’t matter what you think, if you smell what Barack is cooking!”

The line would still be tacky, but at least it’d make WWE fans giggle.

Instead, the line he went with even made the crickets stop chirping.

Gas prices spiking again

At $3.53 per gallon, the nation’s gas prices are at an all-time February high. Market analysts are predicting gas at $4.25 to $4.50 per gallon by May if this trend continues unabated. This news comes on the heels of a study that shows gas prices under President Obama’s leadership have spiked over 80 percent.

That’s troubling; worse is that his administration continues to block initiatives that would ramp up domestic energy production, like the recent Canadian oil pipeline Obama spiked, meaning that oil could go toward China markets instead of the US.

This is no time to be bending over the kitchen counter for every environmentalist extremist that has a runny nose. Simple measures like this could create jobs, drive down costs, and reduce our dependence on foreign markets for oil. Seems that four years ago, Obama ran on reducing dependence on foreign oil. Now he’s spiking measures that would help us work toward that goal.

Pretty odd decision-making there, Mr. President.

Iran threatening impending defeat of Israel, US

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Hoseyni Khamenei, is putting the world on alert: Israel and the West will soon be defeated. That’s about as direct a declaration of war as it can get, prior to a direct strike, and yet the Obama Administration refuses to take the threat serious. Obama once dismissed Iran as a threat, calling it a “little country” like the foreign policy tyro he is.

It would be almost fitting it Obama’s first term lived under the threat of terrorist actions from Iran; it would cement the final piece in the puzzle that patterns his failed presidency after Jimmy Carter’s.

“In light of the realization of the divine promise by almighty God, the Zionists and the Great Satan (America) will soon be defeated,” Khamenei said recently. Although similarly named, he is not to be confused with Carter Administration nemesis, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei, who died in 1989. Khamenei was his successor.

One doesn’t hear from Khamenei often as he frequently prefers to speak through Iranian President Achmadinijad, who faithfully delivers such death-threats against the West. With the raising of his profile, one has to wonder if a future attack is imminent.

Unless you’re US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in which case you just throw up your hands and say, fatalistically, “You can’t overthrow them all.” Great attitude, St. Hillary! Next you’ll declare cd replication a bigger threat to western society than a nuclear Iran. Nice job.