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.

MSNBC, not Fox News, most biased

In a new study conducted by the Pew Research Center, it has been revealed that the unabashedly liberal MSNBC cable news outlet ranks as the most-biased of the major cable outlets for news.

The study analyzed MSNBC programming and determined that a whopping 85 percent of their content came in the form of commentary and opinion, with only 15 percent containing “fact-based reporting.”

By comparison, a study conducted of Fox News during the same period revealed the cable news giant devoted only 55 percent of their content to commentary and opinion, with 45 percent of that content containing “fact-based reporting.”

Finally, CNN was studied during the same period and found to contain 54 percent “fact-based reporting” and 46 percent commentary and opinion.

So, only about nine percent of air-time separates Fox and CNN in their respective “news” vs. “opinion” mix, but MSNBC is, by far, the most opinionated channel of the big three cable news outlets.

Pew’s methods were based on analyzing a half-hour of daytime programming for the first five months of 2012, as well as the first five minutes of prime time general news shows.

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.

In bold political move, actress adopts dog

In these troubling times, when the east coast is recovering from Hurricane Sandy as winter bears down, and the nation decides to double down on four more years of Barack Obama, it’s comforting to know that at least one actress has made a bold political move to help bring an end to all the trouble, distress, and turmoil besetting our great nation.

That’s right, folks: Denise Richards, one-time spouse of actor Charlie Sheen, had done the near-unthinkable: she’s adopted a hurricane-ravaged dog.

Wow. I’m sure those New York and New Jersey residents who’ve lost their homes, are in danger of freezing to death, and lack a home-cooked meal, but who will be turned into criminals in a couple years if they don’t have or buy health insurance thanks to ObamaCare, feel a whole lot better now.

Thanks, mainstream media, for recognizing what’s really important.

CNN’s ratings solution is to “start taking sides?”

Every once in a while, I come across an article that just boggles my mind. It’s getting harder and harder for people to do as I’m entering the second half of my forties. But give credit where it’s due: Scott Collins of the Los Angeles Times pulled off that feat with an article about the way to cure CNN’s ratings blues.

His proposed solution to the media giant’s glacial ratings decline?

CNN needs to stop being “balanced” and start “taking sides.”

Huh?

Yeah, that’s the complaint about CNN all the time.

“Oh, they’re too fair.”

“Oh, CNN, they’re so unbiased I could just scream.”

Hogwash.

CNN’s problem has not been being too unbiased. The network hires just about every out-of-work liberal politician driven out of office by scandal. They were home to Eliot Spitzer, for crying out loud, and you can bet they’ll someday try to hire Anthony Weiner.

CNN’s problem has been, quite frankly, bad hires driven by politics rather than by media acumen.

The best example of this is in their choice to replace their biggest franchise host, Larry King, after he retired from Larry King Live.

The smart money, and indeed, the best bet to win new viewers to CNN, would have been American Idol host Ryan Seacrest. He was even King’s choice for his replacement. And it makes sense. Seacrest has the same deep radio background as King, lives to interview people, and is unquestioningly popular.

But the suits at CNN-TimeWarner thought the acerbic, and more outspokenly liberal Brit-wit, Piers Morgan, would be the better choice. He’s been a ratings flop. Why? Because he has no likability factor… something Seacrest has a in spades.

CNN often alluded to a “more international appeal” in choosing Morgan. That’s not getting them much traction in the US, though.

But if it were Ryan Seacrest in King’s chair? Well, let’s just say one really good hire could over over a multitude of bad ones. And all without changing their approach to the news.

Ch-ch-ch-changes in the offing

Hey all.

Been a while since I’ve updated and it’s because I’ve been doing a lot of house-cleaning. I’m changing the status quo. I now have only a few blogs. (Four total.) And WonderfulPessimist.com is going back to its roots.

By that, I mean it’s not just a political blog anymore. It’ll be a bit more personal, and I reserve the right to veer away from politics to mention whatever strikes my fancy… whether it’s about music, movies, my favorite tablet games, the latest goings-on in WWE, or any of the other things I used to run extra blogs about.

That doesn’t mean I’m not going to blog about politics. WonderfulPessiment.com has always been home to that, and always will be, and my viewpoints haven’t shifted. I’m still the conservative-minded fella you either hate to love or love to hate.

About the only things I won’t talk about here are my books (Craig-Hansen.com is the home of that stuff), writing topics (ScriptSuperhero.com survived the mass exodus of blogs), and my more spiritual-minded writing (MessianicMusings.com remains my home for that stuff).

But the pop culture topics may show up here. Consider this site my catch-all… not just for politics, but whatever’s on my mind.

Welcome to the new normal.

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!

Rodney King passes at 47

The man who endured a police beating that sparked the Los Angeles riots of 1991, Rodney King, passed away at his residence this past weekend at the age of 47.

Famous for the quote, “Can we please all get along?” often misquoted as, “Can’t we all just get along?” has endured further, though less dramatic, run-ins with the law since 1991.

King, 25 at the time and on parole from a robbery conviction, was stopped for speeding on a darkened street. Four Los Angeles police officers hit him more than 50 times with their batons, kicked him, and shot him with stun guns.

Since then, King was arrested several times, mostly for alcohol-related crimes, most recently in Riverside Calif., last July.

Prez sez: Vote for me and I’ll make you a citizen

Barak Obama’s wielding of an executive order instructing the DEA to no longer do its job may seem like a huge power grab, but keep in mind it’s also an embarrassingly blatant election-year move.

It’s nowhere near as hard to solve this one as, say, a Ravensburger puzzle. In fact, it’s elementary, my dear Watson.

Goes like this: while losing support among Hispanics who came to the US legally, Obama thinks it’ll help his cause to offer a back door shortcut to citizenship, to those who entered the country illegally.

That’s a slap in the face to all the immigrants who came here the legal way.

And it’s blatant vote-buying. The only way President Obama’s team could exercise subtlety is if he stood at border crossings, handing out Celebrity Boxing tickets for a match between him and a Minutemen activist, and saying, “Vote for me, become a citizen,” on November 2.

And don’t discount the possibility of that happening.

No one has ever been fondly remembered for being a wonderful pessimist. –Ronald Reagan