Monday, October 24, 2016

Oregon Ballot -- How I Voted on Measures

This covers the range of measures I voted on, from state, county, city and metro. (Note to ballot measure people: When there are fifteen ballot measures in total, only a sadist reads through all of the material covering the arguments for and against -- I'm no sadist.)

State Measure 94, Repeal of state judge age limit: Yes
We don't have age limits at the Supreme Court -- reason enough to eliminate the limit. But as with most states, elected judge positions are not competitive races, meaning, there's just one name listed at any given position. 75 is an arbitrary age limit, anyway.

State Measure 95, Universities allowed to invest in equities: Yes
If you constrain what universities can invest in, you've essentially cut off its ability to offset risk. The more practical understanding of this is to watch how bonds go up as stocks go down and bonds decrease as stocks increase, then imagine how things would be if you were only allowed to put your money in bonds or hold your cash under the mattress.

State Measure 96, Dedicates 1.5% of state lottery funds to veterans: No
It's not that I have anything against veterans. I'm tired of these types of ballot measures meant to constrict how lottery funds can be spent. Limiting the flexibility of the state to allocate income always worsens a recession's effects.

State Measure 97, Increase of minimum corporate tax for companies earning $25M+: Yes
It won't have the impact many think it will -- go examine Donald's companies to understand how he avoids paying corporate taxes -- but at the same time it's undeniable that Oregon has the lowest corporate tax rate, in effect creating pressure for higher property taxes. The question is, do costs trickle down? They do when there's no competition, so maybe the real problem is a lack of competition.

State Measure 98, Requiring funding for dropout prevention: No
Much like appropriating state lottery funds, this measure effectively requires the state to allocate general funds to specific programs. I support the funding of these types of programs, but the Legislature should have the responsibility and flexibility of funding programs, and political parties and members ought to have to defend their actions rather than use these types of laws to alleviate their duties.

State Measure 99, Outdoor school education fund created with state lottery money: No
I think you can see where I'm going, this year: If the Legislature can't or won't fund it, voters should insist that they do so by writing to their senators and representatives. These programs shouldn't be hard-wired into the state's funds.

State Measure 100, Blocks the sale of exotic wildlife products: Yes
If the feds get to fine people who buy and sell elephant ivory, the state should also have the ability to fine people, too. By piling on, it creates greater jeopardy for people who traffic in such goods. Cutting off rhino horns and leaving them to die is pure evil.

Multnomah County Measure 26-181, Extend maximum term limits of county officials: Yes
In general, I'm against term limits. For one, they're arbitrary, but secondly, they're generally unnecessary as people have the ability to vote someone out through a recall. These term limits are especially meaningless when the offices they cover are nonpartisan.

Multnomah County Measure 26-182, Allow commissioners to run for chair w/o resigning: Yes
This one is mostly about whose convenience matters most, the people or the individual. Normally I'd side with the people, but convenience is not a valid reason to kick someone out.

Multnomah County Measure 26-183, Sheriff's position change from elected to appointed: No.
I like elections. Giving the county chair the power to appoint and fire the sheriff at his/her pleasure seems counter-intuitive to good government.

Multnomah County Measure 26-184, Limits contributions and requires disclosures of higher value donations: Yes
Call it the backlash of the Citizens United ruling. People should have the broader right to transparency, particularly in election money. The broader effect is to limit the politics behind these nonpartisan races.

Multnomah County Measure 26-185, Changes appointment process for the Office of Citizen Involvement: No
Talk about busy work. It creates new rules and changes dates to the appointment process while eliminating rules that fill out vacancies. Someone thought this made for a better process, but all I see is a waste of time.

City of Portland Measure 26-179, Bonds to affordable housing: Yes
This is my preferred method of tackling a lack of affordable housing. Why? Because it directly increases the housing stock as soon as it can be built, and years down the line when they're not needed, they can be converted to market-rate units or condos.

City of Portland Measure 26-180, Local tax on recreational marijuana: Yes
Call it a sin tax or just getting your hands in the -- ahem -- pot, it's all good. There is no valid reason why you wouldn't want to tax marijuana, anyway.

Metro Measure 26-178, Renew tax to provide Metro money to protect environment: No
Shocking right? Not really. Metro is a waste of money. The cities of Portland, Gresham, etc., could do just as good of a job as Metro, but without the added administrative costs. But the most annoying part of Metro is that it has hundreds of acres of mowed lawn that it considers too sensitive for dogs. Meticulously kept lawns, zero dogs, under the guise of sensitive areas. One of the things I'd do if I won the lottery, would be to personally drive an effort to shut down Metro, stop charging people to pay for access to those green lawns and allow dogs to accompany their families on picnics on those green lawns. Who's with me?

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Oregon Ballot -- How I Voted on Candidates

This doesn't include every race, just the prominent and interesting ones.

US President: Hillary Clinton / Tim Kaine
It's self-explanatory. Even if Donald were a change agent, we have no way of knowing what changes he'd bring. As an autocratic demagogue whose own words are contradictory and whose ill-tempered, egocentric personality gets in the way, he's the worst choice out there. You could pick Gary, Jill, or write in Evan, and you'd still be picking a better human. I'm picking the person whose values come closest to my own. I believe capitalism works, but markets require oversight. Gary and Evan would remove oversight, Jill would constrain markets, and Donald would do something but no one is sure what he'd do. Hillary's porridge is just right, by pushing trade agreements but with oversight.

US Senator: Ron Wyden
Without a doubt, he's one of the best senators in the Senate. He's a major champion of privacy rights and works with Greg Walden to support Oregonians. He's much more bipartisan than you might expect for a senator from a strongly blue state. I think most people take him for granted, and I wish they didn't.

Oregon Governor: Kate Brown
She's not a front and center leader who grabs the spotlight. She's done some good work, but also had some missteps. The alternative is Bud Pierce, a run of the mill Republican pushing the same sort of policies (cutting taxes) that has created chaos in Kansas. Plus, he's creepy when he talks. She's the best choice by far.

Secretary of State: Brad Avakian
This was a close one. Brad's had some problems in the past, and I was ready to pick Dennis Richardson. But Dennis Richardson is too cowardly to denounce Donald's actions and not a single Republican has brought up the multi-million dollar fines Donald has had to pay because of all the laws he's broken. In essence, Republicans are saying it's okay if a Republican does what a Democrat does. If that's the case, the difference between the two candidates is simply political, and I find his politics disagreeable.

Portland Commissioner #4: Steve Novick
This was another difficult choice. I really disliked his early actions in office, and there's still some squirrely stuff surrounding Uber that hasn't been fully resolved. Nonetheless, Chloe Eudaly's position on affordable housing -- support for rent control -- freaks me out. I strongly support paying more taxes to support affordable housing, but rent control will essentially cap housing prices, and in turn affect new housing starts in the city. Also, I think Novick will likely act differently when certain individuals are no longer on the council.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Donald's September Fundraising Was a Disaster

If you recall, Donald's campaign told us that they raised $18M in pledges in the two days after the first debate in late September. Well, those pledges didn't result in cash contributions.

According to his campaign's e-filing, they only received $17.4M in contributions, excluding $2M Donald gave to his own campaign and $33.6M transferred from other sources (joint committee / RNC).

Pay attention, because this is really important. Donald's campaign ended September with just $34.8M cash on hand.
  $34.8M cash
- $33.6M transferred
= $1.2M cash if RNC / victory committee hadn't transferred money into campaign.
Donald's campaign is practically broke, people.

That's not just bad, that's a total disaster. You-know-what has hit the fan, folks. Donald is going to have to self-fund the rest of the way because people have given up on donating money to his campaign.

3rd Debate: Danger Ahead

Wednesday night ended up being the return of the primary theme of this year's election: Hillary cares, Donald scares. We saw this dichotomy during the respective conventions, and we saw it play out in this final debate.

But last night, there was a major twist in the debate, and then today he doubled down on it: He'll only accept the results of the election if he wins.

Last night, when asked whether he would accept the results of the election, he stated, "What I'm saying is that I will tell you at the time. I'll keep you in suspense. OK?"

Today, he clarified, "I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election -- if I win."

Forget everything else that happened last night, Donald preemptively declared himself the next President, no matter what. That's dangerous rhetoric, and he's the most dangerous candidate in the history of the US.

His candidacy was always humorous in itself, but now he's fully walked past the red line and become a very dangerous man. He just openly posed an existential threat to the Democratic Republic, and we need to take this threat seriously.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Another Bad Friday for Donald.

I think this is going to blow up the news cycle this weekend.

Last Friday we had the 2005 video / audio of Donald making disgusting boasts about sexual assaults. That was horrible enough, but Donald said it was, "just words". Since then, there have been numerous women coming forward, but today was probably the one that will shake the news world.

Today we had Summer Zervos, a 2005 The Apprentice contestant, giving a tearful recount of Donald's unwanted advances in 2007. Watching her tearing up and having to stop is difficult, but also makes you angry. If it matters, Ms. Zervos said that she's a Republican.

Another screw in his coffin.

October 14, 2016 - Donald's Countdown

3 days without a lawsuit filed, since threatening the NYT with one.
6 days before the FEC releases his monthly fundraising report (since Donald refuses to release it ahead of time).
80 days since last press conference.
25 days until Donald is defeated (the Final Countdown)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

10 Thoughts on Donald for October 13, 2016

Truly, Donald has opened the floodgates to Hell, that not a single day goes by without at least a handful of events blowing up in his face.
  1. NYT Lawsuit: Donald threatened the NYT with a libel lawsuit. That's all it is, a threat. He can't go there because going there would give the NYT the room to get testimony from people involved with The Apprentice and use it to serve as the underpinning for a subpoena for their videos. Those videos establish a pattern of Donald's state of mind through the years, through his own words and actions. If he files that lawsuit, his brand is dead. The NYT is taunting him. His fans are clueless about what will happen if he sues the NYT. 
  2. Falwell Backlash: Jerry Falwell Jr.'s getting some heavy backlash from students at his Liberty University, and for good reason. Among the many things he's done is to elevate himself to the position of God Almighty, telling everyone that he knows who is and isn't redeemable. That's blasphemy and dangerous theology. But also, he's casually accepted Donald's faults as a sexual predator, leaving many people incredulous.
  3. Utah Mormons: Utah, overwhelmingly Mormon, is an extremely conservative state. On the surface, it seems surprising that Hillary is locked in a tight race here, but it's not because she's popular. Utah is splitting its overwhelming majority of conservative votes three ways between Donald, Evan McMullin, and Gary Johnson. McMullin, a Mormon himself, could pull more votes than Donald, and doing so would deliver Utah to Hillary. Every revelation of Donald's improprieties brings this possibility to reality.
  4. Creepy Donald: Despite the recent video and outpouring of women alleging sexual assault, the two stories that carry the most weight right now are the rape allegations of a 13-year old girl, and the audio of Donald talking to a little girl about how he'll end up dating her in 10 years. Overlay the words contained in Jane Doe's lawsuit with this audio and you have something that will creep out everyone far more than anything else, because no one will vote for a pedophile.
  5. Unshackled: It wasn't a question of "if" but "when" Donald would unshackle his inner demons. The only people who want Donald shackled are Establishment Republicans. Everyone else wants to see the unhinged Donald. His supporters need the red meat he offers; Democrats use his own words against him.
  6. Wikileaks: Julian Assange and Wikileaks are now actively interfering in US elections, helping elect Donald. As the heat on Donald has been turned up, Wikileaks has responded with additional dumps. Last Tuesday they promised weekly dumps; instead, we've gotten dumps every other day, all because of the sudden turn of events last Friday. The press has caught on, choosing to either ignore them or carefully examine and confirm the contents before reporting on them...well, except Breitbart of course. You can only cry wolf so many times before people stop ignoring you, right?
  7. YOTW: Yes people, it is, truly, finally, the  Year of the Woman. The only proof you need is to see the audience of Hillary's rallies and the voices we're hearing. Therefore, you could not possibly imagine a greater contrast to powerful women than Donald the Groper. Donald is the perfect literary foil -- the antagonist -- for the YOTW, where a strong woman conquers the weak, little man.
  8. Zero Endorsements: Not a single daily newspaper in the entire nation has endorsed Donald for President -- I'm not making this up. There is one weekly -- the Las Vegas Tribune -- who offered up an endorsement, but the paper is a moribund publication run out of a house that was converted to an office space, whose FB page hasn't been updated in a year. By contrast, in 2012 Romney had dozens of endorsements from daily newspapers.
  9. Zero RNC TV Ad Spending: How much has the RNC spent on TV ads for Donald? Zero. You read that right, zilch. Perhaps, even the RNC realizes that Donald is an outlier? The folly here is that Donald seemingly refuses to spend copious amounts of money on his own campaign, despite previously claiming that he would self-fund it.
  10. Bill is Donald's Krypton: Attacking Bill increases sympathy for Hillary -- so says years of evidence from Republican strategists -- which is why Democrats aren't trying to stop Donald from engaging his delusions. You know who is trying to stop Donald? Republicans. Humorously, Donald believes there is hypocrisy in how people treat him compared to Bill, apparently having forgotten what Bill went through in the late-90s including that impeachment trial.