Monthly Archives: September 2013

Bruce McCain: Time to “Occupy” Wapato

Unused Wapato Jail contains $600,000.00 of art.  Photo by Bruce McCain
Unused Wapato Jail contains $600,000.00 of art and no inmates.
Photo by Bruce McCain

We are now fast approaching the two-year anniversary of Occupy Portland, whose members illegally occupied Lownsdale and Chapman Squares in downtown Portland for six weeks in October and November 2011.  While most of the media and public attention focused on the circus unfolding across from Portland city hall and the Portland Building, a few blocks away at 4th Avenue and Burnside Street another protest camp was setting up shop on private – not public property. A newly formed nonprofit group, Right 2 Dream Too, had “rented” for $1 dollar per year a vacant lot owned by Michael Wright, who has had his own long-running beef with the city after former Commissioner Randy Leonard forced the closure of Wright’s Cindy’s Adult Bookstore in 2007. The “tenants” then proceeded to erect a couple dozen tents on the paved surface, a practice that eventually generated thousands in fines and a lawsuit by the campers against the city.

 While the Occupy movement may have been driven by radical left-wing ideology, the Right 2 Dream Toomovement was founded and driven by a mostly singular issue – homelessness, albeit with a definite progressive flavor. The group was supported by a quasi-parent organization, begun two years earlier in 2009, known as Right to Survive PDX, self-described as “a direct action group that educates both houseless and housed people on their civil, human, and constitutional rights.”

Fast-forward to Fall 2013 and Occupy Portland is mostly a bad and at times amusing memory for law-abiding residents and tax payers of Portland. Last month a seven-member federal jury in Portland took less than four hours to clear Portland Police officers of allegations of excessive force in a civil suit brought by activist and protester Liz Nichols, who received a mouthful of pepper spray from one of Portland’s finest. Nichols’ loud mouth encounter with Sgt. Jeffery McDaniel became permanently memorialized in Oregonian photographer Randy Rasmussen’s iconic image that has come to define the six-week siege. Today, the Occupy Portland movement has been reduced mostly to a Facebook page that boasts more than 29,000 “Likes” and 23,000 “Talking About” numbers, as if those Facebook metrics actually translate into effective political power.

While the Occupy movement has become “so 2011,” the Right 2 Dream Too movement continues to present troublesome issues for Portland city hall in general and council member Amanda Fritz in particular. In the latest development between the parties, Fritz recently announced the camp can now move and set up on city-owned property under the Broadway Bridge in the Pearl District. The deal brokered by Fritz was an effort to head off a pending lawsuit filed by the homeless group as well as resolving $25,000 in city fines racked up by the campers for violating the city’s code. While Fritz may have ended one litigation, she likely triggered another, as the Pearl District Neighborhood Association recently announced that it is prepared to spend $10,000 in association dues to ensure the city follows every city code and process in its effort to grant Right 2 Dream Too campers the right to occupy city property with impunity.

As this seemingly never-ending drama plays out between liberal progressive politicians and activists, the public continues to hear the familiar refrain from homeless advocates that the Portland-Multnomah region sorely lacks enough adequate shelter beds for temporary, transitional housing, residential treatment for addiction and mental health problems, warming shelters, etc. Meanwhile, in North Portland, a $58 million, never used facility sits idle and unused, complete with 525 beds, an industrial kitchen, medical and dental facilities, office space for counseling services and more. It’s time to Occupy Wapato.

The Wapato Debacle

Wapato bunks could be used to house homeless? Photo by Bruce McCain
Wapato bunks could be used to house homeless?
Photo by Bruce McCain

The stigma of the Wapato Facility as an albatross around Multnomah County’s neck is mired in the economics and politics of the mid-to-late 1990’s. In May 1996 (yes, it has been that long) Multnomah County voters approved Measure 26-45, a $79,700,000 bond authorization to finance the construction of public safety facilities and equipment in the county. The bond proceeds were used to build the Children’s Receiving Center, build the Wapato Facility, add a dorm at the Juvenile Justice Complex, add beds at the Multnomah County Inverness Jail (MCIJ) and purchase computer applications for public safety use. It also provided funds to repair or remodel the downtown courthouse, Multnomah County Detention Center (MCDC), and transitional housing facilities. Constructing the Wapato Facility itself consumed $58 million of the $79 million voters approved.

Meanwhile, the State of Oregon was engaged in a prolific expansion of its state prison system. Then-Sheriff Dan Noelle also believed the county would need greatly expanded corrections capacity in the immediate and foreseeable future. But Noelle met stiff resistance from former Multnomah County Chair Bev Stein, who argued that treatment and prevention was more effective than pure incarceration. In a compromise that helped pass the measure, Wapato was presented (and later constructed) as a 525-bed hybrid facility consisting of 300 secure treatment beds and 225 regular jail beds, the difference being primarily module design, security, and operating department. Under the compromise, the county’s Department of Community Justice (DCJ) was to operate the 300 treatment beds, while MCSO Corrections would staff the regular jail beds, with MCSO having overall charge of the correctional facility.

After years of difficult siting issues, Wapato construction finally began in 2002 on an industrial site near Smith and Bybee Lakes in North Portland west of the Expo Center. Construction was completed in 2004, recognized in an anti-climatic “grand opening” in July 2004. The dedication ceremony consisted of former Sheriff Bernie Giusto and others cutting the ceremonial ribbon, followed by locking the doors and leaving – both literally and figuratively, for good. Ever since, Multnomah County taxpayers have spent between $300,000 and $400,000 per year just in maintenance costs to keep the 170,000 square foot facility from falling into complete disrepair before it’s ever used for its intended purpose.

Wapato and Measures 47 and 50

Six months after Multnomah County voters passed Measure 26-45, Oregonians at the November 1996 general election passed Measure 47, a citizen initiative that would have rolled back property taxes (but not assessed values) to 90 percent of the 1995-96 level for each property in the state. In response, the 1997 Oregon legislature referred to the voters, who later approved, Measure 50, which repealed Measure 47, while keeping the former measure’s tax cuts. A complete discussion of Measure 50 is beyond the scope of this article, but the impact on local property taxes was immediate and profound.

Under Measure 50, the objective was to reduce property taxes in 1997-98 and to control their future growth. M50 achieved these goals by cutting the 1997-98 district tax levies, and by making three changes: switching to permanent rates, reducing assessed values, and limiting annual growth of assessed value to 3%. For example, In 1995-96, when the Wapato measure was approved, assessed and real market values of real property were equal, and taxed accordingly. Under M50, for 1997-98, the assessed value of every property was reduced to 90 percent of its 1995-96 assessed value.

The effects of M50 had varying impacts throughout the state because growth in value had not been uniform throughout the state. Properties that had experienced the greatest value growth between 1995-96 and 1997-98 received the greatest cuts in assessed value and consequently, in taxes. For property owners, M50 represented much-needed property tax relief, as did Measure 5 years earlier. But for local governments, including Multnomah County, Measures 47 and 50 resulted in a loss of general fund revenue and all but ensured the Wapato Facility would never be opened.

In many ways, the Wapato Facility became Dan Noelle’s Field of Dreams facility, sold to the public on the promise that “if we build it, the inmates will come.” In the mid-1990’s the economy had recovered from the 1990-91 recession and things were booming, even in Oregon. Many honestly believed that rising property taxes due to ever-increasing home values would easily cover not only the cost of paying off the bonds, but also generate general fund revenue to operate the facility, since the Measure approved by voters was for construction only, and did not include an operating levy. But the boom times of the mid 1990’s were quickly followed by the bubble burst and the mini-recession in 2000. Coupled with the impact of Measures 47 and 50, the Wapato Facility project was doomed to become a $58 million boondoggle that continues to confound and frustrate elected leaders and taxpayers to this day.

Wapato Options – From Hotel to Casino

In the nearly ten years since Sheriff Giusto cut that ceremonial ribbon commemorating the completion, but not the opening, of the Wapato Facility, political leaders and others have struggled to come up with viable uses for the facility. To his credit, former Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler vowed to open Wapato as a correctional facility, even at the expense of closing down jail beds at MCDC, MCIJ or both. But despite his best effort and intentions, Wheeler’s plan proved to be more expensive and less efficient because of the need to replicate corrections services – including transportation, medical, detention and support staff, etc – spread over three disparate facilities instead of just two. In the end, Wheeler’s proposal was never adopted, nor were other piece-meal efforts by the Sheriff and other county leaders to at least partially open Wapato for local correctional use.

MCSO also pitched Wapato to the state’s Department of Corrections for use as a local state prison, particularly for state prisoners in the final year of their sentences to transition back into their local communities. But Wapato was designed and built as a local correctional facility and not a prison – a distinction without a difference to most citizens. But it is a distinction that is real, and which eventually resulted in DOC’s rejection of Wapato as a state prison.

Others have suggested Wapato would make a terrific hotel, casino or combination of both. County officials approached the McMenamin’s, who had previously converted the county’s Troutdale property to a landmark success. But Wapato is no Edgefield, and that idea went nowhere. Wapato has enjoyed some recent success as a filming site for television and motion picture production, but that is analogous to a celebrity athlete or Hollywood star eking out a living signing autographs instead of actually performing their craft. Worse for taxpayers, because of restrictions in the bonds that are not yet retired, the county cannot rent out the facility, and thus charges film crews only the nominal cost of utilities and security, effectively granting film crews free use of a never-used public facility.

The fact remains that Multnomah County tax payers expected and expect the Wapato Facility to be used as a correctional facility. But that expectation is not likely to be realized in the foreseeable future. At the height of Noelle’s tenure as sheriff in 1999-2001, Multnomah County operated five correctional facilities with a capacity of 2,037 inmates. And that did not include Wapato, which was not yet built. Today, the county commissioners give the Sheriff funds to operate only 1,310 jail beds. The downtown MCDC, designed with a capacity of 476, today holds a maximum of 448. The Inverness Jail in Northeast Portland has a capacity of 1,037 inmates. But with three large dorms closed, MCIJ today is capped at 862. If anything, it is clear with MCDC and MCIJ operating below capacity, Wapato will not see a jail inmate inside its walls unless or until one of the two existing jails close for good. Yet ironically, Wapato may provide Multnomah County with the next best thing – a state-of-the-art facility to deliver shelter and services to homeless individuals and families who genuinely desire and deserve the community’s support.

Homeless at Wapato?

The idea of using Wapato as a homeless shelter is not a new idea. In fact, after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf coast in 2005, Sheriff Giusto offered Wapato as shelter for New Orleans refugees who may be headed to Oregon. But the stigma of housing out-of-state refugees – many of whom would likely be African-American – in a jail was too much for Portland’s progressive political class to stomach and the idea was quickly dismissed. But if any facility was optimized for such a function, it is Wapato.

Remember, that a majority of the 525 beds (300) were designed and built as secure treatment beds for clients of the county’s Department of Community Justice. The facility is easily segregated by gender, allowing for female-only dorms. Who knows, perhaps an entire wing could be dedicated as The Jeff Cogen Shelter for Mistreated Women.

Funding such a massive program would require shifting existing resources now spread out over several nonprofit providers to consolidation under one very large roof, perhaps with those NGO’s providing the staffing to deliver those services. Today, Multnomah County alone spends millions of federal, state and local dollars providing services to the county’s homeless population. Yet we continue to hear complaints that there is not enough beds and facilities to meet the need of the growing homeless population.

County Homeless Expenditures

Multnomah County’s Department of County Human Services (DCHS) is the primary provider of service to the county’s vulnerable population, including the homeless. For FY2014 DCHS has a budget of more than $222 million dollars and 700 employees. By comparison, the budget for the Sheriff’s Office is $122 million with 776 employees. DCHS funding consists of federal and state pass-through dollars, combined with local general fund revenue from property taxes. And the money spent on homelessness is far from insubstantial. The county’s FY2014 Adopted Budget is replete with program after program seeking to address homeless issues. Most of those programs are administered by DCHS’ Community Services Division, with a total division budget of $33,415,819. Examples of homeless programs include:

Progam Name                                                                                                   FY2014 Budget

Homeless Families Shelter & Emergency Services (HFSES)                     $1,301,226

HFSES – Expanded East County Outreach                                                   $60,000

HFSES – Coordinated Entry for Homeless Families                                    $390,000

HFSES – Coordinated Entry for Homeless Families – OTO                       $610,000

Homeless Benefit Recovery Project (HBR)                                                   $420,551

Housing Stabilization for Vulnerable Populations (HSVP)                          $3,606,894

HSVP – Short-Term Rent Assistance                                                            $1,500,000

HSVP – Streetroots                                                                                           $40,000

HSVP – Flex Funds for Veterans                                                                    $30,000

Facility Based Transitional Housing                                                               $238,009

CSEC – Shelter, Housing, and Assertive Engagement                                 $429,450

Homeless Youth System (HYS)                                                                      $4,172,600

HYS – MH and Addictions Engagement Services                                         $471,000

Runaway Youth Services (RYS)                                                                      $821,391

RYS – Maintain Current Service Level                                                           $161,132

Anti-Poverty Services (AP)                                                                              $2,267,172

These DCHS Community Services Division programs do not include many related programs operated by the Mental Health and Addiction Services Division, which has a total budget of $99,716,689 for FY2014. For example, MHASD will spend more than $10 million in FY2014 to provide mental health residential services for individuals with a severe mental illness that require care in a 24-hour-a-day setting. To meet that need, the county contracts with licensed caregivers to provide mental health and social services in structured housing for adults with severe and persistent mental illness. The county will contract for a total of 382 such beds in 2014. But rather than have all of most of those beds in one modern facility, those 382 mental health beds are scattered among 64 separate facilities or homes.

Is There the Political Will for Wapato?

In December 2004, five months after Wapato was completed, the City of Portland and Multnomah County jointly published a 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness, an initiative to end homelessness in the city and county by 2015. While this laudable – and now laughable – goal seems hopelessly out of reach in late 2013, the Plan points to problems with our current approach which an operational Wapato facility could help address. The Plan consistently pointed to the lack of housing of all types, whether emergency shelters, transitional housing, or treatment beds. Wapato could fill any or all of those needs.

One particular issue bears directly on a function for Wapato in connection with the county’s overall jail system. One of the Plan’s Nine Actions to End Homelessness is to stop discharging homeless jail inmates and hospital patients “into the streets” without linking those individuals to available services. If Wapato were up and running as a homeless service provider, a discharged jail inmate could voluntarily elect to stay at Wapato rather than on a park bench, in a business doorway or under a bridge, where they are far more likely to engage in behavior that leads to additional police contact – thus perpetuating a very expensive and destructive cycle.

As shown in the county’s adopted budget, there are tens of millions of dollars available to spend on the homeless and on those with mental health and addiction problems. Today those tax dollars are scattered across a patchwork network of nonprofit providers who need those public monies to survive. Injecting Wapato into that equation is bound to ignite some inevitable turf wars and self-protection battles. Also, as noted with the Katrina issue, city and county leaders are likely to reject the appearance of institutionalization of the homeless at Wapato, even if those receiving shelter and services are participating voluntarily, as with current programs.

The key to making Wapato work for the homeless is a simple carrot-and-stick approach. Most will agree that among those camping illegally in Portland and surrounding areas are two broad groups of people: those who are truly down on their luck, who have lost their job in this dismal economy and need their neighbors’ temporary help to get back on their feet; and those pit-bull toting “road warriors” and similar scoflaws who choose to camp where they want, when they want and have little or no desire to do otherwise. Portland in particular has encouraged the latter while claiming to help the former.

It’s time for some tough love in the City of Roses. When a person is found illegally camping on public property, the police officer should politely and compassionately offer that person two distinct choices if the camper doesn’t move: a citation or arrest for illegally camping, perhaps accompanied by a free ride in handcuffs to MCDC; or a free ride to Wapato where the person can get a hot meal, a warm and dry bed out of the elements, medical, dental and other services, and the freedom to stay or leave when they want.

Or we can wait until the Wapato bonds are paid off in 2016, cut our collective losses and sell the place to the highest bidder while city and county officials wonder what went wrong with their 10-year plan to end homelessness by 2015.

Are Bloggers “Journalists?” GOVERNMENT Federal Shield Law May Decide. Blogforce Weighs In.

We're all Thomas Paine now.
We’re all Thomas Paine now.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could pick and choose your opponents? Like boxing managers in some smoky room in Vegas deciding who would get the next shot at the heavyweight title, your opponent would be hand selected based on what you, the champ, believed would best serve your needs. 

In a sense, the Obama Administration proposes much the same arrangement with news coverage.  President Obama has asked Senator Chuck Schumer to reintroduce federal Journalist Shield Law legislation. 

In the age of Wikileaks and Ed Snowden, President Obama is understandably concerned about people leaking government secrets. You know, like the New York Times leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971.  

The shield law would allow a journalist a get-out-of-jail free card if they refuse to reveal a source of a story. But there’s a catch.  Government would decide who qualifies as a “journalist” and leave the seriousness of a journalistic transgression up to a judge to decide. The government would presume to separate the legit journalists from the non journalists.

And that puts Barack Obama in the role of Don King. 

As conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg puts it,

Journalism isn’t a priestly caste or professional guild with special rights. It is an activity we all have a right to partake in. Whether it’s a blogger with a virtual tip jar exposing malfeasance or 60 Minutes making fraudulent charges about George W. Bush, there will always be good journalism and bad journalism.

I was a working journalist for years and now I am a blogger. What changed? The person who paid me. The last time this law was considered, bloggers were left off the list of government-approved journalists and it looks like Senator Diane Feinstein wants to keep it that way in the bill’s latest iteration, 

“I can’t support it if everyone who has a blog has a special privilege … or if Edward Snowden were to sit down and write this stuff, he would have a privilege. I’m not going to go there,” she said.

Thomas Paine was a blogger of his day. Would the pamphleteer who wrote Common Sense make the cut in DiFi’s world? 

Journalism is done for the public good, but it is a private activity. What role does the government have at all in this private activity?

Goldberg lasers in on a fundamental flaw in the logic behind this shield law. Lawmakers have forgotten that the First Amendment covers other things besides a ‘free press,’ 

It also protects free speech, free assembly, freedom of worship and the right to petition the government for the redress of grievances. We all have these rights. The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward has no more rights than my dentist.

The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward has no more rights than my dentist.

It’s possible lawmakers have the same deliberate misunderstanding of the First Amendment as they do of the Second. Rights are accorded every individual citizen, not just government approved subsets of people they call ‘journalists’ or ‘militias.’  With that in mind, I’ve asked the Blogforce and others to weigh in on this issue. The following are their essays from their own perspectives.  

Journalist Shield Laws–A VERY BAD IDEA

Novelist John D. Trudel

What our President and some Republican cronies are attempting to do with this legislation is evil. They seek to exploit public outrage and endless rolling crisis (Obama’s “phony scandals”) to attack and erase our basic Unalienable, God-Given Constitutional rights. “We all have these rights. The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward has no more rights than my dentist,” says blogger Jonah Goldberg.

NSA is turning America into a “Total Surveillance State,” a “Prison without walls.” DOJ is lying to judges and committees while bugging reporters and Congress. IRS and many other Federal agencies are being used as political attack dogs, and NOT just against the TEA Parties, against companies like Gibson Guitar, non-profits like True the Vote, and, yes, against journalists and writers. We also have the Benghazi, Extortion 17, and Syria cover-ups. Who dares speak against this? Where is Paul Revere?

The media has totally failed in its traditional 4th Estate role. It has moved beyond bias to being an integral part of Team Obama, a propaganda arm with financial and family connections. The old media is no longer trusted, declining, and becoming irrelevant.

New networks are emerging, from Fox to The Blaze, part of a return to grass roots journalism with powerful new technology. Instead of Thomas Paine and his pamphlets, we now have legions of bloggers, writers, PACs, and informal networks, most of us seeking to spread truth, each in our own way. America is seeing a new awakening. The embers of freedom still burn.

This threatens Washington insiders, the power elites in both parties. They don’t want to face investigations, arrests, and impeachments. Instead of enforcing existing laws, they seek to pass new laws and empower bureaucracies to ration freedom and circumvent the Constitution.

The proposed “Shield Laws” are just one more attempt to create classes of Government Given Rights to favor insiders and to replace the God Given Rights endowed to ALL Americans by our Creator.

The proposed “Shield Laws” are just one more attempt to create classes of Government Given Rights to favor insiders and to replace the God Given Rights endowed to ALL Americans by our Creator. Obama’s “Soft Tyranny” is growing fangs and claws. Our rights come from God, not from any government, and we cede these at our peril. “Those who seek safety by giving up Liberty will wind up with neither.”

It is an interesting time to be a Thriller novelist. My last novel, Privacy Wars, won three national awards, predicted the NSA and IRS scandals, and is getting more discussion in political groups than in bookstores. My next book, Soft Target, has a SPEC OPS storyline.  I don’t even HAVE a blog yet. I’ve planned to start one as my Email lists are badly overloaded, but if we have government control of public speech, it is game over. Not just for bloggers, for all of us, and for the America we love.

[I]f we have government control of public speech, it is game over. Not just for bloggers, for all of us, and for the America we love.

“Share” if you want our politicians to start respecting the Constitution! Send them a message here:  John Trudel is a novelist and thinker. Find his work here:


We’re All Journalists

Dan Sandini

Citizen Journalist, Dan Sandini: So by way of introduction I’m Dan Sandini, a double Masters with top grades and 20 years in tech and finance.  Came from nothing except three squares, a roof, and parents who loved and cared about about me.  After retiring self-made at 42, I saw Breitbart give a speech on YouTube and became a Citizen Journalist.  I’m lousy at all aspects of it, but was good and persistent enough to help expose the reality of Occupy, meet Breitbart and contribute to his movie Occupy Unmasked.

I want to say that it is my belief that all Citizens of the United States of America are, and should be considered Journalists.  I’ve learned that the truth is no one story.  That each of us as Americans, even when seeking to to offer “just the facts,”  offer unique perspectives.  Only with a collective perspective, available to all other Citizens, can we as a society form a consensus of what reality is, and thereby make the right decisions forward as a nation.  I have seen Blacks the target of racism, and have the act ignored by the reporters of every mainstream media outlet in the city in the interest of political expediency.  Without one brave TEA Party Mom with a cell phone camera, the truth would still be unknown.  But thanks to her:  the truth is undeniable.

Thomas Paine said:  “When men yield up the privilege of thinking, the last shadow of liberty quits the horizon.”

Further, without having any formal education in philosophy or history, I have an innate sense that we humans are extremely special beings, all created equal, endowed by our creator with certain unalienable Rights, including our freedom to report the news as we see it.  This Right has been protected from legislators such as yourselves under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.  Thomas Paine said:  “When men yield up the privilege of thinking, the last shadow of liberty quits the horizon.”  Please do not let history record that it happened under your watch.

Dan Sandini is a Citizen Journalist. Find his work here:


Shielding the Police Journalist 

by Bernie Giusto

Nothing is more threatening to United States law enforcement’s ability to protect our free society than artificially limiting freedom of speech.

Nothing is more threatening to United States law enforcement’s ability to protect our free society than artificially limiting freedom of speech.

Agents of the FBI, Sheriffs, Chiefs of Police, State Troopers, Deputies and police officers in general have long relied on the right to engage anyone, in the court protected Fourth Amendment use of the force principle known ,”Mere Conversation.” Courts have long protected that principle with or without a specific purpose for the conversation. The freedom to ask questions, interpret the answer, and publish those exchanges in police documents as a part of the public record (available to a free press) is the check and balance courts have set out as the most fail-safe method limiting the abuse of the freedom of expression of an over ambitious law enforcement agenda.  First and foremost,  the courts have protected the right of law enforcement to be journalists undefined by law, with the right to ask and the purpose to inform of a crime past or a clear and present danger that may await.
 First and foremost,  the courts have protected the right of law enforcement to be journalists undefined by law, with the right to ask and the purpose to inform of a crime past or a clear and present danger that may await.

When Congress redefines Free Speech by defining a “journalist” with the purpose of limiting who is protected for sharing views, the real danger is not who is included in this newly created clique but who is left. The basis of police writings are nothing more than written observations informed by events which are often subject to the individual interpretation by individual “police” journalists. We not only allow, but courts have extolled the social virtues of, allowing police officers to lie to bad guys in order to get to the truth of a potential or actual criminal act to protect (the predefined) good guys. Eventually, both the lie and truth it may or may not extract become part of these journalistic observations. We trust that this creative fiction serves a greater interest, but even more, we trust that protecting the right of these “sworn citizen journalists” is a social necessity. The observations that lead to those lies to get to the truth are necessities worth protecting. These journalists may be summoned to court to validate the fiction, but most often they are not. These cop journalists are given the benefit of the doubt. In fact, we praise their results even if the cop had to lie to get to the truth. 

So it would lead this long-time “police” journalist to conclude that when Congress sets about redefining who gets protection for their journalistic creativity and who does not, it is defining what has social value and what does not. Congress could keep redefining what ‘value’ is and the rationale to decide. Congress could someday decide to end protection police journalists have for what they observe and record. Congress could decide to end the practice of allowing a cop to lie to get to the truth, saying that we are no longer allowed to judge the value of the lie but only experience the result of the lie on the public record and in the public consciousness. If that happens, we have gone way past “In God We Trust.”  Instead, we will have completely forsaken one of our founding principles on which free speech was born, “…[T]hat these truths are held to be self evident.”  I wonder if they meant “…but only as viewed by Congress.


Bernie Giusto, Multnomah County Sheriff (Retired), Chief of Police, City of Gresham,Oregon State Police, member Victoria Taft Blogforce.


Anyone can report the news and should

by Victor Sharpe

The Constitution we appreciate and embrace so deeply is threatened by Democrat politicians, from the present incumbent in the White House, Barack Hussein Obama, down through the Democrat Senatorial and House ranks. Now we have Senators Durbin, Schumer, Feinstein, et al, threatening our First Amendment rights, namely by defining who is a “real” journalist.

The Shield Law attempts to place some limitations on courts and police from compelling journalists to divulge anonymous sources. But Senator Durbin wants to penalize those whom he disapproves of, especially those who write words he finds objectionable and not supportive of his leftist views. In a recent opinion essay published in the Chicago Sun Times, Senator Durbin argued it was “time to say who’s a real reporter.” In other words, he wants many of those on the right to be stripped of their First Amendment protections.

The Democrat supporters now want the Obama Administration to be the arbiter of who the First Amendment can apply to. In other words, the old Marxist aphorism that, “all people are equal, but some are more equal than others,” will apply and severely affect everyone’s rights – but primarily conservative bloggers and writers who oppose the soft tyranny that is the Obama regime.

Anyone can report the news and so they should. Just because amateur reporters or freelance journalists are mostly unpaid and work independently should not preclude them from enjoying the same First Amendment privileges, which the so often biased leftwing political hacks who infest the mainstream media receive.

Victor Sharpe is a writer for many national blogs, including American Thinker, is a musician and a middle east expert.



Free Speech is Free Speech; without compromise.

by Dr. Tim Ball 

“The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.” –Thomas Jefferson

 The US Founding Fathers produced a masterpiece. It works because it has no illusions about the nature of people. As George Washington said, “We must take human nature as we find it, perfection falls not to the share of mortals.” They knew some people would attempt to ignore, bypass, or even corrupt a free society.  They understood the power of power;  the corruption of power; and the power of corruption. They anticipated Lord Acton’s comment that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Alexander Hamilton said, “A fondness for power is implanted, in most men, and it is natural to abuse it, when acquired.” James Madison expressed it this way. “Where an excess of power prevails, property of no sort is duly respected. No man is safe in his opinions, his person, his faculties, or his possessions.” They designed a system that anticipated and precluded demagoguery. They knew the key was free speech and so made its protection the top objective. They knew governments were the most likely to abridge or control free speech and so made the second amendment the ability to defend it.

As George Washington said, “We must take human nature as we find it, perfection falls not to the share of mortals.”

The Fathers also understood that information and its dissemination is power and recognized the role of the media as the Fifth Estate. The US people and their constitution is being challenged as never before partly because the media failed. It is the pattern of previous civilizations that they begin to fail in the second century of their existence as demagogues and power elites undermine the values, institutions and thereby the belief of the people.

Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase, “global village”. It was the first part of information democracy. The second part was the creation of the Internet. For the first time in history a majority of people had access to information but could contribute their ideas and participate in discussions among large numbers of people. People realized the value, openness and diversity of the internet so it quickly became the source of information for more and more people. This accelerated the demise of the media already in progress because of their failure to  act as the Founding Fathers had envisioned.

In an ironic twist the success of the internet and bloggers has triggered attempts to limit their role. The media want the politicians, who they are supposed to prevent from limiting free speech, to limit free speech. They want journalists designated a special group and protected under a shield law.  A hint of the media concern was a comment by Juan Williams on FOX news about the unprofessionalism of bloggers.

As Harry Emerson Fosdick said, “Democracy is based upon the conviction that there are extraordinary possibilities in ordinary people.” Don’t let them be suppressed in any way.

Lack of professionalism, failure to expose wrong doing and open bias among the media are the main reason the public are not listening to them anymore. Their solution is to enshrine rights they have already failed to uphold and to suppress ordinary citizens who have used a vehicle of free speech to seek the truth. The blog site is equivalent to the Pamphlet during the Revolutionary War.[1] They were the vehicle of the people’s ideas and were critical in achieving freedom leading to the construction of the Constitution. Those freedoms are under attack as never before. This apparently small battle over control of the internet and information is central to the progress toward a full functioning and free society. As Harry Emerson Fosdick said, “Democracy is based upon the conviction that there are extraordinary possibilities in ordinary people.” Don’t let them be suppressed in any way.

[1] There is a “Check list of American revolutionary war pamphlets in the Newberry library”.  Dr. Ball is Canada’s first Climatologist and has been instrumental in bringing science back into the political debate over man made global warming. Find his work here:


Who is a journalist matters

Bruce McCain

I’m not sure if this helps frame the issue or not. While I certainly don’t like the idea of Diane Feinstein defining who is and is not a “journalist” today, the question remains: Who is a journalist in today’s world where anyone and everyone with a smart phone and a YouTube account can self-publish “news” as a “citizen journalist?” Let me give you two examples in Oregon unrelated to the shield law, but with legal implications nonetheless.

But the question remains, who is “the media?” Can any citizen journalist with a WordPress blog, including some of our more activist OEA members, demand entry to our executive sessions as members of the media

Oregon is the only state that allows the media to sit in on executive sessions of public bodies (I know because I am an elected official of a large suburban school district). Under Oregon law, the media may attend, but may not report on what they learn. In our district, we have had local reporters from the Gresham Outlook and Oregonian sit in on out executive sessions in which we discuss some pretty touch subjects. But the question remains, who is “the media?” Can any citizen journalist with a WordPress blog, including some of our more activist OEA members, demand entry to our executive sessions as members of the media? It hasn’t happened yet to us, but there have been a handful of instances where just such a demand has been made by a blogger who was denied entry as a “legitimate” member of the media. If everyone today is a potential “citizen journalist” then no one is a journalist. It has become the classic distinction without a difference.

On another legal matter, Oregon like most states has several statutes that protect the media from defamation claims. In Oregon, a defamation claim against “the media” can only be brought if a demand for correction or retraction was first made or if the plaintiff alleges and proves actual intent to defame by the media defendant. As you probably know, in a defamation action against a defendant who is an owner, licensee, or operator of a radio or television broadcasting station, or an agent or employee thereof, the defendant is “not liable for any damages for any defamatory statement published or uttered in a radio or television broadcast, by one other than the [defendant] unless” the plaintiff alleges and proves that the defendant “failed to exercise due care to prevent the publication or utterance of such statement in such broadcast.” ORS 31.200. But again, who is a member of “the media?” You may recall an Oregon federal defamation case last year in which an attorney successfully sued a woman blogger for defamation. The defendant, Crystal Cox, represented herself (like Roger Alvey) and lost badly. But one of the issues the court had to address was whether or not this blogger was protected as “the media” for the purposes of Oregon defamation law. The court said No because “The Oregon Legislature has not expanded the list of publications or broadcasts to include Internet blogs.” The court also laid out a series of criteria for a member of the media, which Cox failed to meet:

“Defendant fails to bring forth any evidence suggestive of her status as a journalist. For example, there is no evidence of (1) any education in journalism; (2) any credentials or proof of any affiliation with any recognized news entity; (3) proof of adherence to journalistic standards such as editing, fact-checking, or disclosures of conflicts of interest; (4) keeping notes of conversations and interviews conducted; (5) mutual understanding or agreement of confidentiality between the defendant and his/her sources; (6) creation of an independent product rather than assembling writings and postings of others; or (7) contacting “the other side” to get both sides of a story. Without evidence of this nature, defendant is not ‘media.’”

At some point, someone – whether the legislative or judicial branches – must proffer an objective definition of “the media” or “journalist” if these statutes are going to have any meaningful effect. 

I realize there is a subtle difference between “journalist” and “media” but not much. I don’t have an answer for this issue. Perhaps Jonah Goldberg is right: abolish all special protection for “the media” if in fact everyone and anyone can now call themselves a “citizen journalist.” But good luck getting those laws changed in the face of stiff media lobbying. If anything, there may be efforts to add internet blogs to Oregon’s list of “publications.” At some point, someone – whether the legislative or judicial branches – must proffer an objective definition of “the media” or “journalist” if these statutes are going to have any meaningful effect. If not, then I agree with Goldberg and let’s just abolish all special protection for “the media” who now include anyone with a smart phone.

 Bruce McCain is a retired Multnomah County Sheriff’s Captain, an attorney in private practice and a member of the Victoria Blogforce 


Diane Feinstein’s blogger persecution fetish is obscene

By Scott St. Clair

Who died and made Dianne Feinstein the newest William Randolph Hearst deciding who is and who ain’t a journalist? This paraphrase of what every kid in America has said at one time or another to the grade-school busybody who shoves everyone aside to make up her own tetherball rules or decide that her friends get first in line at the drinking fountain, fits California’s Democratic senior U.S. senator to a tee.

Feinstein wants the federal government to define who is and who is not a “real journalist.” During Senate deliberation of a new federal “shield law” to protect journalists from being forced to disclose sources, she proposed an amendment that would limit its application to what she called “real reporters.”

Setting aside for the sake of argument that part of the First Amendment that says “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom…of the press…” that makes this a legally-dubious and specious effort, from a policy standpoint, what she is doing is deplorable public policy.

Her amendment “defines a ‘covered journalist’ as someone who gathers and reports news for ‘an entity or service that disseminates news and information.’”

This begs the question as to what qualifies as “an entity or service that disseminates news and information.” Nobody rightly knows. One thing we do know from listening to her, however, is that she’s on the warpath to exclude bloggers – especially teenaged bloggers – from any protection or coverage at all.

Have California bloggers been so unkind to her that she now has a fetish to persecute them?

But journalists are no better since they love to run a closed shop with high barriers to entry erected in the name of so-called “professionalism,” but which more resemble a way to keep the riffraff competition out. Even their professional organization – The Society for Professional Journalists – which was founded as a fraternity in 1909, likes to gussie up the family tree in order to distance itself from your grandfather’s journalism – watch “His Girl Friday” for a comic look at how it was in 1940 – to those who peddle their wares today.

If you want to get in their club, you have to play by their rules or don’t play at all.

All of which is reminiscent of the struggles I had several years ago with the Capitol Press Corps in Olympia when I covered state government for the Freedom Foundation in Washington state. I was there to report the news, dig up stories and tell those who read our blog what was going on. But because I didn’t get paid by an organization whose purpose was to report the news as they defined it, I couldn’t get press credentials, which consigned me to the cheap seats up in the Senate and House galleries, which occasionally had its advantages since I was forced to take a more panoramic view of things that allowed me to uncover a unique form of official chicanery.

I did get credentials from the United States Congress when I spent some time in Washington, D.C. to cover a story, but that wasn’t good enough for the Statehouse crowd.

Technology and market forces have, and will continue to change, journalism. So, what else is new? Part of that change is discarding some of the old to embrace some of the new.  

The muckrakers of the early 20th Century – Upton Sinclair, Ida Tarbell, Lincoln Steffans and others – were disparaged by many of the journalistic elites of their day since the demand for what they wrote and exposed came out of a public appetite for juicy stories whetted by sensationalist “Yellow Journalists.”

Then TV came along to displace newspapers as the number one source of news for Americans, with the Internet making strong inroads to eventually displace the tube.

About the only thing certain in all this is that most Americans distrust traditional news outlets. Sixty percent of those surveyed by Gallup a year ago said they don’t believe newspapers, TV and radio report the news fully, fairly and accurately. What happens when you have a product the public regards as lousy? They stop buying, and the bottom line gets whacked.

Let’s face it: Journalism and news outlets are in the toilet nationwide.  Newspapers have seen a 30 percent reduction in headcount since their heyday of just over a dozen years ago. Almost daily, print news outlets cease publication and convert to exclusively digital content. For-profit journalism is increasingly supplanted by non-profit journalism, which is itself struggling.

Once there were close to three dozen reporters covering the Washington State Legislature and the governor’s office in Olympia, but by 2009, it was tough to find a fourth for pinochle because so many publications stopped sending reporters to cut costs or because it was easier to publish the AP feed.

It’s no better in radio and TV, where bottom-line driven headcount reductions and thinner news coverage is the order of the day.

Yet the honorable gentle lady wants us to restrict the definition of journalist to a dying breed. Maybe it’s because the less there are of them, the better politicians like it. After all, isn’t a journalist’s job to hold politicians accountable – something on the order of speaking truth to power, comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable?

Nah – that only mucks up the journalist’s next gig, which is working for the very ones he’s supposed to be watchdogging.

The hottest career move in journalism these days seems to be jumping ship from whatever “news outlet” you see dying on the vine to going to work as a PR flack for government. It’s happening both on the federal level and at the state level.

Back when I covered the capitol for the Freedom Foundation, yesterday’s Seattle Times or KING 5 reporter popped up as today’s “official spokesperson” for this, that or the other mayor, county executive, state agency or even the governor.

Instead of comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable, journalists are seeking out jobs that afflict them with comfort, which makes veteran reporter Seymour Hersh as mad as a wet hen.

Hersh, who received the Pulitzer Prize for uncovering and reporting on the My Lai atrocity during the Vietnam War, thinks that those who pass themselves off as journalists and editors these days should be fired because they’re too cozy with what he calls the “total nincompoops” who run the world.

Quoted at the UK’s, he’s especially critical of The New York Times for spending “so much more time carrying water for Obama than I ever thought they would.” And, he contends, the Obama administration stopped informing the American public years ago about what the government was doing and morphed into a full-time auxiliary of the president’s re-election campaign.

He hasn’t much use for any of what he calls “insiders” in journalism today. His solution is for newspapers and news outlets to hire outsiders that cannot be controlled and turn them loose, which brings to mind the lowly blogger.

 I know this guy, an outsider, who runs a blog in West Seattle, and he’s taken it upon himself to do what the newspapers and TV stations in Seattle and King County won’t, which is investigate and report on alleged corruption of publicly-funded homeless activists and their cozy relationships with city and county government.

OK, so David Preston doesn’t always follow the AP Stylebook, but his Blog Quixotic performs a valuable public service by investigating how the public’s money is being spent, whether the spending complies with the law and generally what public officials are doing on a matter of significant interest to taxpayers.

But according to Dianne Feinstein, he’s no better than a 17-year-old blogging in his parents’ basement, ergo he’s undeserving of Shield-Law protection.

If he’s not, then nobody is, and maybe that should be so all the way around. There’s a case to be made that shield laws do more harm than good because they promote whispered secrets and half-exposures of the truth.  

If you’re going to have one, it shouldn’t exclusively apply to a government-defined class of swells who are already too cozy with those they’re supposed to investigate and upon whom they’re supposed to report.

It’s enough that some in government try to regulate the editorial content of newspapers critical of their action, even doing it repeatedly, or that newspapers sidle up to legislators currying tax-relief favors, which then makes their news and editorial coverage of the government questionable since they’re arguably beholden to it for survival. How about when one of Sen. Feinstein’s colleagues suggests the government should financially bail out failing newspapers? No matter how you slice it, it’s creepy.

And what are you going to do when “real” journalists partner with bathrobe-clad bloggers to provide coverage in neighborhoods and on topics the big boys have abandoned? That’s happening, but no protection for the blogger half of the partnership from Sen. Feinstein.

What people want is the news reported to them in an honest and straightforward manner. They no longer care if it comes from their local version of The Daily Planet or, a local blog. If the facts are there and the story is accurate, that’s all that matters. If “journalism” gets practiced by a 17-year-old looking into miscues in the faculty lounge or a 70-year-old crusading for a new senior center who uncovers evidence of official misconduct, then so be it.

You don’t have to be a member of the union, work for the right employer, have a degree from the correct school or drink the right whisky to be a journalist. Maybe journalism is and should be like the late Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s famous description of obscenity —  probably many think it is already – which he declined to define saying only “I  know it when I see it.”

In any event, one clear obscenity is what Dianne Feinstein is trying to do to bloggers.

Scott St. Clair is a journalistic pugilist, born free American man, writer, journalist,  and is a member of the Blogforce


Pete the Banker: Who’s to Blame? Debt Ceiling Debate Reflects Political Red Lines.

Debt Ceiling Politics Pervades Washington, D.C.

Word cloud of Senator Chuck Schumer's speech on debt ceiling.
Word cloud of Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer’s speech on debt ceiling.

 Ah, the mystical and mischievous workings of Washington, DC.

“The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure,” he said. “It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. … Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here.’ Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better. I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit.” Senator Obama, 2006

And now President Obama in 2013, Obama: No Negotiation.

In this round, however, the president and his aides maintain that when it comes to raising the government’s borrowing authority and meeting its debt obligations, there’s no bargaining.”The entire world looks to us to make sure that the world economy is stable. You don’t mess with that,” Obama said Thursday. “And that’s why I will not negotiate on anything when it comes to the full faith and credit of the United States of America.”

And Senate Leader Harry Reid: No conversation,

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., on Thursday demanded the GOP-controlled House simply send the Senate unencumbered spending and debt ceiling bills.”There’s no need for conversations,” Reid said. “We’ve spoken loudly and clearly, and we have the support of the president of the United States. And that’s pretty good.”

And the esteemed Senator from Tennessee Robert Corker: No transparency.

That old adage that “the more things change, the more they remain the same” certainly seems to pertain to Washington, DC. And the old guard based upon the actions of the Senate on Friday morning retain full control. And so who is to blame for the confusion, impasse’ and pending government shutdown?

Pete the Banker’s ObamaCare Story

Pete the Banker sends his ObamaCare story to Reince Priebus. Send yours to


To: ecampaign <>
Sent: Wed, Sep 25, 2013 6:41 am
Subject: Re: Pete, help us defund ObamaCare!

Mr Priebus,
Thank you for the email.  I would like to think that Republicans are affording a “united front” in opposing Obamacare as stated by Senate Minority Leader McConnell. The Affordable Health Care Act will cause massive damage to the healthcare system and the quality of healthcare in this country.  I find however that all our political institutions have failed in preventing the destruction of low cost, high quality private healthcare in this country. 
I was lied to by the Executive branch when told I could keep my doctor and my health insurance.  I have lost my doctor and will lose my so called “Cadillac” health insurance next year.  I was lied to about health insurance costing less. 
The Judicial System, the alleged protector of the Constitution, further embraced this monstrosity by characterizing the healthcare mandate as a “tax”, despite the Administrations insistence it was not a tax.  More word play; another lie and deception.
The legislature including both houses  as soon as they were faced with possible imposition of Obamacare personally ran to the President for a waiver which they gladly accepted.  Pathetic!!!
And now the Senate Minority Leader states that Republicans are “united” and yet I see only two Senators Cruz and Lee leading the attempt to defund Obamacare.  Give me a break.  Why isn’t Mitch McConnell up filibustering on behalf of the House passed bill.  I am tired of the lies emanating from Washington DC.  I am tired of those in Washington being treated under a better and different standard than the rest of the country. 
I signed your petition.  Thank you.  I would like to contribute, but need to see real change in those who assert that they are representing me. 
I realize this is basically the last chance to force the defeat of a highly unpopular piece of legislation.  I would be glad to contribute, if I felt of that the Republicans were ready to take a real stand in an attempt to defeat Obamacare. But based on what I see today, most Republicans seem satisfied to simply give lip service to that concept and then cower away.
This country was been built on the sacrifice and blood of prior generations who were often called upon to defend their beliefs despite significant personal loss.  When are those of us on main street going to be represented in Washington DC by individuals who will risk their position to uphold our values and beliefs.
I am sorry to be so direct, but I expect honesty and results and I see little of either in Washington DC at this moment.
Pete the Banker
Portland, Oregon

ObamaCare Killed My Brother in Law

ObamaCare killed my brother in law, Dr. Philip Henderson, III of Longview. Here’s a letter I wrote to the email set up to tell our ObamaCare stories: Add yours in the comments of this website if you can.

Dear Congress,

I hope you de-fund and kill ObamaCare. 

ObamaCare killed my brother in law.  

An outrageous thing to say? Listen to this shortened version of this story and see if you don’t agree.

My brother in law, Dr. Philip Henderson, III of Longview, Washington, was a fourth generation doctor in this medium sized logging town in Cowlitz County in Southwest Washington. He was responsible for bringing 6,000 babies into this world. He started programs to help poor women receive prenatal care, helped out at a free clinic he helped start, gave thousands of hours –totaling five years–of his own, unpaid time to cover OB-GYN emergencies at the local hospital AND he volunteered for ten years at both local high schools to give teens “the talk.” He lobbied Senators and Congressional reps in Washington, D.C. in an attempt to slow the debilitating effects of ObamaCare on women’s health care in Washington State. 

He was a community treasure. Loved. Respected. See the stories about his life HERE,HERE, HERE, HEREHERE and there are many others. See the pictures attached.

In the past several months, ObamaCare “winner” and “survivor,” Kaiser, ended its contract with Dr. Henderson’s four partner OB-GYN clinic, Lower Columbia Women’s Clinic, and decided to take over the thousands of patients this local practice had built up over decades. This move was designed to consolidate care necessitated by the constraints of ObamaCare. And this meant that many patients would now have to travel 40 minutes south to

A spontaneous memorial appeared outside of the Lower Columbia Women's Clinic after word spread of Dr. Henderson's death.
A spontaneous memorial appeared outside of the Lower Columbia Women’s Clinic after word spread of Dr. Henderson’s death.

Vancouver, Washington to receive care. My brother-in-law’s practice would lose their patients. More important, their patients would not be able to keep their doctor–a promise made by the President about ObamaCare. 

Stay with me. 

During these difficult negotiations, two of the partners decided to leave to seek greener pastures. They knew it would collapse the clinic, but, undaunted, Dr. Henderson and his remaining partner turned to the local hospitals they served to get a temporary financial life line until they could hire replacements and get the clinic whole again. The hospitals said no. ObamaCare was putting the hospital in a squeeze and they couldn’t afford to help the Doctors who had given thousands of hours of free care to the hospital’s–and City’s–patients. 

Under ObamaCare, you see, only the large survive. Or the people who can exempt themselves, like Congress. Or friends of people writing the bill who give their friends waivers, such as unions and big corporations. 

When local hospitals turned down the financial life line, Dr. Henderson began searching for jobs for his co workers. He made phone calls on their behalf and helped their job hunting efforts. But the clinic his great-grandfather had started generations before would die. 

Finally, when Dr. Henderson began looking for a position for himself, he was turned down. Under his proposal to Kaiser, for instance, Henderson could still see his–and Kaiser’s patients without them having to travel to get care. When he got the call turning him down, he emerged from his office shaking his head and said in a tone of voice his nurse had never heard before, “They don’t want me. No one wants a 63 year old doctor.”

Philip pic by patients2 tdn
Some of Dr. Henderson’s patients and some of the children he’s brought into the world, pose for a memorial photo following his death. The Daily News Photo.

The man who 20 years earlier had fought back and willed himself to walk after a devastating car accident and who worked hard to get back to his practice only to pour himself into his patients and his community, was a beaten man. It’s easy to see that now. It wasn’t in June. 

His wife and daughters surrounded him and began brainstorming ideas on what he could do to finish his career doing what he loved most: medicine. While he’d funded his own retirement and was only a few short years shy of that milestone, he still needed to work. He, like many Americans on their heels by the ongoing recession, had to keep working awhile longer. 

But the irony is when Dr. Henderson was ready to stand on his own feet, build on his own success, use his talent to embark on the last chapter of a spectacular career, it seemed everywhere he turned, ObamaCare was in the way. It was a huge stop sign on the bumpy road he, his clinic and his patients found themselves on. 

And he was heartbroken.

Then on June 7th, one week before his clinic closed, Philip took the Mossberg shotgun he bought to scare off a man who had been stalking a family member, and turned it on himself. 

The hard charging, can-do, lead-from-the-front, master-of-the-universe who fought hammer and tong for his patients, no longer had patients to fight for. 

ObamaCare had defeated him. 

Someone smart once said, “The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen.” 

ObamaCare turned a great man into no man. 

His family is devastated. His patients are sad and confused. 

This horrible economy has caused millions of people to lose hope. They’ve been so dispirited in some cases, that they’ve stopped looking for work or planning for success. They’re just trying to survive. ObamaCare has put another yoke on an already plodding economy. 

Not only is ObamaCare to blame for that, it now comes with a body count. 

For shame.

I hope you kill ObamaCare. It’s bad for liberty. It’s bad for America. 

Victoria Taft  
Broadcaster of the Year
Twitter: @VictoriaTaft 

Funny Anti ObamaCare Ads Show Uncle Sam in Exam Room

Anti ObamaCare ads are put out by a group called Generation Opportunity.

Generation Opportunity's anti ObamaCare ad called, "The Exam."
Generation Opportunity’s anti ObamaCare ad called, “The Exam.”

And what ads these are! On a day that Republicans (and hopefully some Democrats) vote to defund ObamaCare in the House, this group urges individuals to opt out to keep Uncle Sam, well, out of your private business.


And here’s one for you fellas!

Generation Opportunity anti ObamaCare ad called, "The Glove."
Generation Opportunity anti ObamaCare ad called, “The Glove.”
Thursday, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a fundraising email calling efforts to defund ObamaCare saying, “We’re so close to our goal, but we still need 5,500 grassroots donations before tomorrow’s vote to put insurance companies back in charge of your health care.”
When she was cramming ObamaCare down our collective throats, she demonized health insurance companies for its role in individuals’ health care. Based on this appeal we can conclude Pelosi has figured out Americans like private health insurance companies in charge of their insurance better than massive government bureaucrats.

Starbucks CEO’s Letter to Gun Owners: “Appreciate” Us Without the Guns.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz listens to anti gun activists, asks legal gun owners to stop “Appreciation Days.

guns and coffee
Starbucks CEO gives win to anti gun protesters, asking gun owners to leave the pieces either at home or concealed.

The CEO of the ubiquitous Starbucks Coffee chain has taken out full page ads in major U.S. newspapers to placate anti gun activists who Howard Schultz claims have been hassling his workers and customers over the issue of guns in the shops.

In an open letter (see it below) to customers which begins, “My Fellow Americans,” Schultz asks gun enthusiasts to stop appreciating Starbucks so much because it’s ticking off the anti gun folks.

“That’s why I am writing today with a respectful request that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores or outdoor seating areas.”

The Starbucks CEO has kept an open mind about open carry: if it’s legal to openly carry a gun in a state, Starbucks allows guns in their stores. And gun rights enthusiasts have thanked Starbucks by holding what they call, “Starbucks Appreciation Days” across the nation. They’ve shown their appreciation in a tangible way, giving Starbucks lots of business and on a bumper sticker. See it nearby.

Recently, however, we’ve seen the “open carry” debate become increasingly uncivil and, in some cases, even threatening. Pro-gun activists have used our stores as a political stage for media events misleadingly called “Starbucks Appreciation Days” that disingenuously portray Starbucks as a champion of “open carry.” To be clear: we do not want these events in our stores.

Read that again,

…become increasingly uncivil and, in some cases, even threatening

Who’s doing the threatening? We find out in the next sentence,

Some anti-gun activists have also played a role in ratcheting up the rhetoric and friction, including soliciting and confronting our customers and partners.

Schultz’s letter attempts a nuanced stance: could you appreciate us WITHOUT the guns?! But the intent is unmistakable: gun enthusiasts are “disingenuous” about Starbucks’ motives while anti-gun enthusiasts are “threatening.” Who’s being asked to leave their rights at the curb? Gun owners.

I’m not going to vouch for every gun enthusiast who may run his mouth off at a protester, but I’m sure as heck not going to vouch for the usual rent-a-mobs we often see hassling, yelling, chanting and screaming at their political detractors. I’ve seen this movie too often. Anti fur protesters screaming mere inches from customers and committing acts of vandalism, phony fast food workers on ‘strike,’ SEIU thugs beating a (black) conservative guy selling T shirts and racist and homophobic epithets hurled at conservatives (including blacks and gays) gathering for a meeting. 

Howard Schultz’s employees have seen them too. Does his letter ask those anti gun people to stop their collective hissy fits at his stores? No. He undoubtedly doesn’t want to spark a debate about first amendment rights. He is willing to ask second amendment enthusiasts to keep their guns at home, however.

Schultz said yesterday that the guns make his customers feel “uncomfortable.”
He forgot that gun owners are also his customers.

But with his public disavowal of gun owners openly carrying, he has given anti gun activists what they want, showing once again that a few loud voices can eclipse actual civil rights. 


Here’s the full text of Howard Schultz’s letter:
Dear Fellow Americans,
Few topics in America generate a more polarized and emotional debate than guns. In recent months, Starbucks stores and our partners (employees) who work in our stores have been thrust unwillingly into the middle of this debate. That’s why I am writing today with a respectful request that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores or outdoor seating areas.
From the beginning, our vision at Starbucks has been to create a “third place” between home and work where people can come together to enjoy the peace and pleasure of coffee and community. Our values have always centered on building community rather than dividing people, and our stores exist to give every customer a safe and comfortable respite from the concerns of daily life.
We appreciate that there is a highly sensitive balance of rights and responsibilities surrounding America’s gun laws, and we recognize the deep passion for and against the “open carry” laws adopted by many states. (In the United States, “open carry” is the term used for openly carrying a firearm in public.) For years we have listened carefully to input from our customers, partners, community leaders and voices on both sides of this complicated, highly charged issue.
Our company’s longstanding approach to “open carry” has been to follow local laws: we permit it in states where allowed and we prohibit it in states where these laws don’t exist. We have chosen this approach because we believe our store partners should not be put in the uncomfortable position of requiring customers to disarm or leave our stores. We believe that gun policy should be addressed by government and law enforcement — not by Starbucks and our store partners.
Recently, however, we’ve seen the “open carry” debate become increasingly uncivil and, in some cases, even threatening. Pro-gun activists have used our stores as a political stage for media events misleadingly called “Starbucks Appreciation Days” that disingenuously portray Starbucks as a champion of “open carry.” To be clear: we do not want these events in our stores. Some anti-gun activists have also played a role in ratcheting up the rhetoric and friction, including soliciting and confronting our customers and partners.
For these reasons, today we are respectfully requesting that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores or outdoor seating areas — even in states where “open carry” is permitted — unless they are authorized law enforcement personnel.
I would like to clarify two points. First, this is a request and not an outright ban. Why? Because we want to give responsible gun owners the chance to respect our request — and also because enforcing a ban would potentially require our partners to confront armed customers, and that is not a role I am comfortable asking Starbucks partners to take on. Second, we know we cannot satisfy everyone. For those who oppose “open carry,” we believe the legislative and policy-making process is the proper arena for this debate, not our stores. For those who champion “open carry,” please respect that Starbucks stores are places where everyone should feel relaxed and comfortable. The presence of a weapon in our stores is unsettling and upsetting for many of our customers.
I am proud of our country and our heritage of civil discourse and debate. It is in this spirit that we make today’s request. Whatever your view, I encourage you to be responsible and respectful of each other as citizens and neighbors,
Howard Schultz
Compare and contrast. People smiling and drinking coffee juxtaposed to picketers.

And picketing Starbucks is what’s making Schultz concerned,

Boehner Video: Pete the Banker Was Right on Obama Negotiations

House Speaker John Boehner says Pete the Banker was right on negotiating with Russia and Republicans.

Pete the Banker was right.
Pete the Banker was right.

OK, Speaker of the House John Boehner didn’t actually SAY Pete the Banker was right (in his previous posts here and here), but he did DEMONSTRATE that the Blogforce member is right. 

Today, the Speaker’s office released this video demonstrating the President’s willingness to negotiate with Russia’s President Putin on Syria’s chemical weapons while being unwilling to negotiate with the GOP and force a government shut down over the debt ceiling. 

President Obama issues red line to Republicans on debt ceiling, refusing to negotiate.
President Obama issues red line to Republicans on debt ceiling, refusing to negotiate.

Victor Sharpe: Fundamentally Transforming America

President Obama promised to transform America and he has kept this promise.

The President contemplates fundamentally transforming America. Photo by the Seattle PI
The President contemplates fundamentally transforming America. Photo by the Seattle PI

With the de facto capitulation of President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry over Syria, and with Russian President Putin now very much in control and humiliating the United States in the pages of the New York Times, the towering peril to the world is now the re-invigorated Russian support of Iran. Equally, the Iranian mullahs support Syria financially, militarily and with Iranian boots on the ground. And behind Iran and Syria is the ever protective Russian veto in the UN Security Council.

Then, too, there is the Russian plan to pipe oil from Iran through its Syrian client to the Eastern Mediterranean or through Turkey. The stench of Middle Eastern oil permeates much of the political maneuvering that afflicts the world. Alas, Obama and Kerry have allowed Russia to reassert itself in the Middle East, which it had not been able to accomplish since the Arab aggression against Israel during the Yom Kippur War in 1973.

Putin has followed up on his diplomatic coup against the United States by offering to provide the Iranian mullahs the S-300 missile, which will drastically alter the balance of military power in the Middle East and imperil Israeli or U.S. aircraft should an attempt be made to end Iran’s aggressive nuclear weapons program. Also, there are reports that prior to John Kerry’s meeting with Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, the Obama Administration had begun removing some of the financial and economic measures that had been in place against the Iranian regime. There is, no doubt, much rejoicing in Teheran over the Syrian debacle.

Remember, during his first tour to the Middle East – after making the astonishing claim that the US was one of the foremost Muslim countries in the world – Barack Hussein Obama bowed low to Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah and then went on to apologize to an assorted gathering of Arab sheiks, emirs, princes, dictators and tyrants for America’s past defense of freedom and liberty around the world. Obama said the US had been “arrogant, derisive and divisive” and would no longer be an exceptional nation under his watch.

Remember, too, that Obama cancelled the American missile shield in eastern Europe to the dismay of Poland and other eastern European allies which needed the shield for their protection from Russian and Iranian threats. Obama was also over heard on a hot microphone assuring Russian leader Medvedev that he would be “flexible” in missile defense negotiations once he was re-elected. Well he has been most flexible, as the Syrian fiasco has proven.

America’s traditional allies have had to re-adjust their foreign policies because they now know that Obama does not say what he means or mean what he says. Our enemies are emboldened because they already know it. The North Koreans are re-starting their nuclear reactors and Iran is speeding up its nuclear program with Russia’s help knowing full well they have nothing to fear from Obama, nor Hillary Clinton if, heaven forbid, she succeeds him.

The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) as in the case of the estimated 1,000 tons of Sarin nerve gas, biological and other outlawed weapons in the hands of Syria’s al-Assad, or the potential transfer of such hideous armaments to the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda or Hezbollah, transforms dangerous threats into hideous and actual nightmares. It encourages Iran’s genocidal ambitions and pursuit of nuclear bombs and it poses a mortal threat not only to Israel but to Jordan, Saudi Arabia and what few oil producing Arab countries remain relatively free from Islamic and jihadist influence.

The so-called Arab Spring, which was never to be about democracy in the Islamic world, has now morphed into an increasingly anti-US, violent jihadist Islamic triumphalism. Islam, after all, means submission to the will of Allah not, as in a democracy, to the will of the people. And those in the West who endlessly call for democracy in the Arab world should read the Koran and finally be disabused from uttering such foolish and naïve statements.

President Obama, true to his ambition to “fundamentally transform America” has made the U.S. appear weak and unwilling to support its allies around the world. As a result, many erstwhile allies of the U.S. have felt alienated, used and abused by the American president and have withdrawn their support – especially Britain and NATO – over the Syrian situation.

All this could be construed as the utter incompetence of the Obama administration but I fear it may well be one more deliberate step in President Barack Obama’s promise to “fundamentally transform America” to that of a weak European style nation state like Belgium and destroy irrevocably America’s exceptionalism and power to keep the peace in what is fast becoming an increasingly perilous world.

Both Hilary Clinton and her successor, John Kerry, were firmly convinced that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was a reformer and a man of his word. Indeed Kerry flew frequently to Damascus, dined with Assad, whom he called his friend, and was sure that Bashar Assad was a true partner in peace.

But Secretary Kerry appears to possess a naïve vision of the Middle East, arguably the worst neighborhood on the face of the planet. He seems unable to grasp the grim reality of an ever more powerful explosion of radical Islamist triumphalism threatening to sweep over Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and then to inexorably threaten what the jihadists call the “Dar al-Harb – the House of War,” namely what they insultingly refer to as the infidel world of Israel, Europe, Britain, America and the entire non-Muslim Free World.

We, in the West, are in peril when even John Brennan, the CIA Director who advises President Obama on international terrorism, himself does not recognize the existence of Islamic or Jihadist terrorism. Then there is James Clapper, our Director of National Intelligence, who two years ago called Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood a “largely secular” organization. This breathtaking leap into unreality is by the same James Clapper who many believe is now utilizing the NSA to spy on Americans.

And the Obama Administration itself has ruled out the use of the word Islam in any references to terrorism against America. After all, it was the Obama Administration which insisted upon calling the massacre of unarmed American soldiers at Fort Hood by the Islamist, Major Nidal Hassan, not terrorism but an act of “workplace violence.” When a government refuses to even name its enemy, it has almost lost the war for civilization.

This piece first appeared on Renew America. He is an author, musician and expert on the Middle East.

Pete the Banker: Obama Vows No Compromise With GOP on Debt Ceiling

The media predict a war. Obama has fired the first salvo.


Obama may be manipulating the debt ceiling discussion to use as wedge issue for 2014 elections.
Obama may be manipulating the debt ceiling discussion to use as wedge issue for 2014 elections.

The mainstream media in past week loudly proclaimed the futile attempts of Boehner to seek votes in order to pass debt ceiling without shutting down government and also proclaimed the pending  “Republican civil war” over the issue.   

While Speaker Boehner was trying to avoid a stalemate, President Obama on Sunday insisted on Sunday, “No compromise”.  He again drew a line in the sand, this time challenging the Republicans not to cross. He stands in support of his grossly unpopular legacy legislation ObamaCare and is willing to throw the country into chaos in order to preserve it.  It is not Boehner, nor the Republicans that fired to first salvo, but Obama.

Obama started out the domestic portion of the interview on Sunday’s ABC This Week Show stating that he would not negotiate fiscal reforms with Boehner in conjunction with the raising the debt ceiling,  “What I haven’t been willing to negotiate, and I will not negotiate, is on the debt ceiling.” 

funny debt heritageSo he isn’t willing to compromise, but subsequently points the finger at a “faction” of the Republicans who he indicates are the ones not willing to compromise?  “The problem we have is we have a– faction of the Republican Party– in the House of Representatives in particular, that view “compromise” as a dirty word, and anything that– is even remotely associated with me, they feel obliged to oppose. And my argument to them is real simple. That’s not why the people sent you here.”     

Confusing since back in his first statement Obama indicates he will not compromise despite apparently being sent to Washington DC by the voters to do so.  Hum??!

Or is it? In fact, as Washington based reporters such as Bill Kristol, Jim Geraghty and Guy Benson  believe (Hugh Hewitt Show 9/16), Obama wants a shut down of government to use as a wedge for the upcoming 2014 mid term elections since Democrats are taking a huge hit in approval ratings due to ObamaCare.

Of the stalemated negotiations he seems destined to initiate, “That’s never happened before.  And when it comes to budgets, we’ve never had the situation in which a party said that– you know, “Unless we get our way 100%, then– we’re gonna let the United States default.””  

So ultimately Obama’s message is that he wants it 100% his way otherwise he is holding the debt ceiling hostage.

So ultimately Obama’s message is that he wants it 100% his way otherwise he is holding the debt ceiling hostage.  His legacy legislation must be preserved at all cost, regardless of the impact on the financial stability of the country.  And that’s never happened before according to President Obama, but then I guess he did promise us change didn’t he?!

Study: Driving and Talking on Cell Phones Do NOT Increase Chance of Accident

Study shows talking on cell phone while driving does not increase accidents.
Study shows talking on cell phone while driving does not increase accidents.

Carnegie Mellon/London School of Economics study confirms cell phone chatting and driving don’t increase chances of car accidents, unless you’re a moron, that is.

Researchers say they’re surprised by the results of their own study of U.S. data which shows there’s no correlation between chatting away on cell phones and driving.

It’s easy to be surprised. For years, politicians and safety advocates have demonized cell phone use while driving. While most studies have never born this out on a macro level, it’s easy to sell the idea since we all have had an experience with a ‘whoops’ while  using a cell phone or can understand that talking on a cell phone might take your attention away from the road. We read the headlines all the time about somebody chatting away happily and then boom! They’re flattened by the train.  

Wanting to DO something about it is understandable. And politicians have taken the low hanging fruit bait and acted accordingly. Cell phone use in cars has been the target of campaigns, not only by state lawmakers, who see  it as a reputation-maker in legislatures, but by the Obama Department of Transportation. Once again, however, the politicians’ actions don’t match the data. From,

The researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and the London School of Economics, led by Professor Saurabh Bhargava and Dr. Vikram Pathania, published their findings in the American Economic Journal, in an article called “Driving under the (Cellular) Influence.” They focused on data from the United States between 2001 and 2005, a time when the number of cellular phones was rapidly rising. In addition, phone companies often offered free calls at night after 9:00PM in this time period, meaning that the researchers could identify a time when people were more likely to be using cell phones. This would have also been before handheld phone use was banned by laws and hands-free was more common.

Studies show in person conversation is as distracting as talking on cell phone.
Studies show in-person conversation is as distracting as talking on cell phone.

The study looked only at talking on cell phones, not texting. But that’s where the effort to ban phone use while driving began. Efforts to reach into the cockpits of cars to dictate behavior, of course, began with the demonization of talking on cell phones, banning teenage use and then banning everyone else.  Studies show there’s no difference between holding a phone to your ear and a hands free device, usually the politicians’ default “fix” to their bans.

Researchers add that this study doesn’t answer all the questions out there on cell phones and driving. From,

This doesn’t automatically prove that cell phones don’t cause accidents. Aside from the fact that they didn’t look at texting or internet use, which are more attention-intensive than holding a phone to your ear, other factors may have led to this result. Driving on the road after 9 might not be the most risky time to use a phone. In the time period the data came from, cell phones weren’t as ubiquitous, so it may have been that the earlier adopters were more responsible and safer drivers on average. Dr. Panathia told the BBC, “It may look different if you focus on young males or new drivers,” and that “Rash drivers will always find a way to distract themselves.”

Find the study here at the Journal of the American Economic Association. It is behind a pay wall so be ready with your credit card. Meantime, here’s the abstract of the study,

Bhargava, Saurabh, and Vikram S. Pathania. 2013. “Driving under the (Cellular) Influence”American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 5(3): 92-125. DOI: 10.1257/pol.5.3.92 Abstract   We investigate the causal link between driver cell phone use and crash rates by exploiting a natural experiment induced by the 9 pm price discontinuity that characterizes a majority of recent cellular plans. We first document a 7.2 percent jump in driver call likelihood at the 9 pm threshold. Using a prior period as a comparison, we next document no corresponding change in the relative crash rate. Our estimates imply an upper bound in the crash risk odds ratio of 3.0, which rejects the 4.3 asserted by Redelmeier and Tibshirani (1997). Additional panel analyses of cell phone ownership and cellular bans confirm our result.

The Cool Kids Check the Temps of Oregon Global Warming Report

Stay cool, Oregon!
Stay cool, Oregon!

The dire predictions and claims in Oregon Global Warming Report are put to test by scientists who question assumptions made about man’s influence on climate.

Man made global warming skeptics are greeting the Oregon Global Warming Report with what you might expect from scientists: skepticism. 

For openers, the group of scientists who range from Climate Scientist,  Astro phyisicist, to Meteorologist wonder how the report can support this claim about rising temperatures in Oregon:

Al Gore predicted New York would be under water by now and that the Arctic would have no ice. The Arctic has 60% more ice than usual this time of year. New York is still dry. Al Gore has made $100 million + on his Global Warming scare.
Al Gore predicted New York would be under water by now and that the Arctic would have no ice. The Arctic has 60% more ice than usual this time of year. New York is still dry. Al Gore has made $100 million + on his Global Warming scare.

Climate change is here. Average temperatures in Oregon are rising. 

From one of the many scientists weighing in on the new report:

The first statements on the Oregon Global Warming Commission’s website at are,“Climate change is here.  Average temperatures in Oregon are rising.”, but the NOAA National Climatic Data Center Climate at a Glance site at presents the official Oregon climate data indicating that:

 ·         Oregon’s year to date (January – August) temperatures have trended downward at a rate of 0.5 degrees F per decade during the last 20 years.

·         Oregon’s year to date (January – August) temperatures have trended downward more rapidly at a rate of 1.8 degrees F per decade during the last 10 years.

The list of Commission members features Al Gore acolyte Bill Bradbury, environmentalists, corporate types, leftist politicians and one scientist of Oregon State University.
The list of Commission members features Al Gore acolyte Bill Bradbury, environmentalists, corporate types, leftist politicians and one scientist from Oregon State University.

The Commission (see list nearby) also claims Oregon has reduced its greenhouse gas use. 

These improved and up‐to‐date data indicate that Oregon met its 2010 greenhouse gas reduction goal, having arrested the growth of greenhouse gas emissions and, it appears, also establishing a downward emissions trajectory in which emission levels are expected to be reduced into the future. 

I’m just a layman, but I would expect that in a great recession with record numbers of  people out of work–who have no jobs to drive to, businesses have had to shutter, and production has gone overseas, that there might be reduced output of anything. They’re free to take a victory lap, of course, but where there’s less productivity, there is less CO2 and other greenhouse gasses emitted.

The report also assumes CO2 is what drives temperature increases, but that is in dispute. In fact, the rising sea tide is actually turning against that assumption. 

The Commission also claims:

The problem: too much carbon in the atmosphere. 

I recognize that there’s only one apparent scientist on the list of Commission members–see it nearby–but isn’t a bit flabby to call CO2 carbon? They’re not the same thing. This has been an ongoing problem with discussion of global warming. C02 and carbon are, for some reason, used interchangeably. Considering this is supposed to be some kind of scientific document, you’d think they put in the effort to be precise (Please see the full report below). 

I asked one of the man made global warming skeptics about this and he was a bit more forgiving (and he’s a scientist and I’m not, so I add it here):

They interchange the terms regularly and do separate calculations, both for carbon consumption and CO2. The difference is just the molecular weight of C12 and its isotope burned from fossil fuel and the resultant oxidized atoms of carbon to oxygen forming the CO2 molecule. 

For those non scientists out there, here’s a wonderful explanation of the difference between CO2 and carbon. 

“Carbon” (chemical symbol C) is what we burn to get energy to power modern society. Carbon is the molecular building block for wood, charcoal and coal, and hydrocarbons (HC) like oil and natural gas. Cars and power plants do not emit carbon, except in the form of soot. Thus, talk of “carbon disclosure” or “reducing our carbon emissions” is misleading, unless one is confessing how much charcoal was used at a picnic, or apologizing for not having pollution controls on a wood-burning stove.

“Carbon dioxide” (CO2) is another natural byproduct of combustion, from power plants, factories, vehicles, homes, hospitals and other users of wood, coal, petroleum and biofuels. This is what many environmental activists, politicians and scientists blame for recent and future climate change.

 Please enjoy reading the report below. More updates will follow. 

Oregon 2013 Global Warming Commission Report