Oregon’s Jeff Merkley, (D. Antifa) announced Tuesday that he will not run for President of the United States.
Reaction was swift:
Had he thrown his black balaclava into the ring Merkley would have become the 15th candidate running on the Leftist side of the political aisle. The slate of Democrats/Socialists who have announced so far is: Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar, Jay Inslee, John Hickenlooper, Julián Castro, Tulsi Gabbard, John Delaney, Pete Buttigieg, Andrew Yang, Marianne Williamson. More, such as Joe Biden, Beto O’Rourke and others are still coyly hanging back. Hillary Clinton and former Attorney General Eric Holder announced yesterday that they would not run for office.
Merkley released his announcement on Twitter to avid supporters.
The 62-year-old former Princeton and Stanford student told them of his family’s hardscrabble upbringing, including a story – “family lore” – that his grandmother slept in a boxcar of a train for a short time.
Merkley’s name recognition might have been an issue in his now-erstwhile run for president. Few people know who he is. However, Oregon’s ‘Accidental Senator’ keeps the door open to a Cabinet position with a Bernie Sanders Administration. It’s clear that Jay Inslee (he’s Washington State’s Governor and also running for president) has the inside track to become Sanders’s “green czar” and is said to be preparing his first ‘five year plan’ for the demise of the U.S. capitalist economy, using the Alexandria Ocasio Cortez “Green New Deal” as his blueprint.
So, the world says goodbye to a possible Merkley presidency, remote though it may have been. Oregonians are lamenting a missed opportunity to get rid of him from the U.S. Senate and now Jeff Merkley will go back to obscurity.
Candidate calls media on their games, but here are more moves for his playbook.
I know he didn’t ask, but I’m giving Mark Callahan some advice anyway. I figure if a candidate for higher office this year thought my advice was worth paying for, then maybe Callahan will value my input.
First, the housekeeping. In case you don’t know the back story, Mr. Callahan, a candidate in the Republican primary for US Senate, was tossed out of an endorsement interview with Willamette Week. See the video below.
Candidates were on one side of the table (with Jo Rae Perkins on the phone) while Willamette Week Editor in Chief Mark Zusman, Managing Editor Brent Walth and star reporter Nigel Jacquiss were arrayed on the other.
Things got a little sparky starting at 53:17 when Callahan questioned why only two candidates, Monica Wehby and Jason Conger, were getting most of the questions.
“We came to be interviewed…it’s not the Monica and Jason show,” Callahan complained.
I believe it was Brent Walth who then said “if you don’t want to be here, you don’t have to be here.” Callahan shot back, “I’m just requesting some respect for it not being the Monica and Jason show.”
But his query had its desired effect. Soon all the candidates were asked what they would cut in the federal budget (see more below). When it got to Callahan he expounded on the president misusing the EPA whereupon at 57:40 he was asked a question which sounded like, “What’s the EPA?”
Sensing he was being mocked, Callahan shot back, “the Environmental Protection Agency, I think you would have heard of that.”
At 1:03:49 Jo Rae Perkins was asked what she would cut from the budget. But during her answer, Callahan asserted WW was being disrespectful. Nigel Jacquiss retorted (1:04:23) “if you don’t like that, I’m sorry…”
He may as well have challenge him to a duel. It was ON.
A moment of chaos ensued with everyone talking over one another and fingers being pointed. Order was eventually restored while Jo Rae continued her answer.
As the candidates looked down to concentrate on Perkins’ answer, Callahan’s eyes fell on Jacquiss’ notebook which lay flat on the table.
That’s when it happened. Callahan pounced,
“You want to talk about disrespect. You just wrote down blah, blah, blah. You have to give respect to get respect. Right now on that side of the table, you’re not giving us very much respect.”
Instead of apologizing or sounding embarrassed, the next voice from Willamette Week’s side of the table invoked a threatening tone.
Walth: Mark let me ask you a question, do you believe in climate change. Is is a myth or reality?
Callahan: It’s a myth.
Walth: A myth?
Jacquiss: Where are you on the Easter Bunny?
Callahan: What’s that?
Jacquiss: Where are you on the Easter Bunny?
Callahan: Are these really the questions I was called here to answer? Really? I called you out on the blah, blah, blah and you ask me questions like this? Really, really? Are we talking about this now? OK, how about you ask me a serious question instead of asking me a childish question?
Walth: I just asked you a question about climate change. ‘kay? That’s two strikes. I’m going to ask you to leave.”
Callahan: (scoffs) Who do you think you are?
Editor: Ok, you may leave now. Go ahead. You’re done here. This is neither a fair or [sic] balanced meeting. This is a meeting for us…
Callahan: I know. …it’s a meeting…asked by thin skinned liberals like yourself.
Zusman: There’s the door
Now for my unsolicited advice.
Contact the publication in advance to determine who will be at the table and the general nature of the questions that will be asked. It doesn’t hurt to ask and it can only help you prepare.
Good for you for calling out Nigel Jacquiss for writing his “blah blah blah” comment about one of your opponents in the Oregon Republican primary. Jacquiss is an excellent reporter, but even excellent reporters need to have a reality check now and again. It was absolutely appropriate to highlight this. Your sense of outrage was palpable.
Ask these guys to define their terms. What does the editor mean when he asks about “climate change?” To what climate change does he refer? Global warming or global cooling or…? Never fall for open ended, black hole questions. Say, “when you talk about the politically explosive ‘climate change’ issue, what specifically are you referring to? When you don’t get their cards on the table you allow reporters to expand the parameters of the issue after an interview. They seldom report the issue to a conservative candidate’s satisfaction. This is what Politi”fact” does. A person makes an assertion and the reporter later expands an issue beyond the scope of your answer, thus distorting your original statement. It’s unethical, but there it is.
Don’t accept the premise of a question if it doesn’t comport with your understanding of an issue. Ask the reporter to re-ask the question to give them an opportunity to hone it. If you don’t agree with the premise of the question at this point, you re-state it and answer your own question.
Don’t be demeaning. You were being mocked on the EPA question, but don’t lower yourself to reporter’s level. If you can’t abide it, preface your answer by saying, “I sense Mr. Walth’s contempt but I’ll answer his question by saying…”
Be specific. When you think WW is “unfair” and “disrespectful,” be specific about why. While you were specific on a couple of occasions during this exchange, make sure you re-state every time while you think something is disrespectful. Use the “when you say this…you are disrespectful.” They’ll still get techy and it will sound like a counseling session, but so what? You’ll be on the moral high ground–and it will be on the record.
Ask them questions when their interview is winding down. Did they ask these same questions about cutting the budget, climate change, ObamaCare votes of the Democrats? That’s a question worth asking in these kinds of settings. Did they ask Senator Jeff Merkley why he wrote a letter siccing the IRS onTea Party groups? Ask them where their publication was on that issue. Ask them if they think that’s fair.
Don’t fall for false choice questions. Ask reporters if those are the only choices they see. This does a couple of things. It makes them see that their questions are restrictive and allows you to expand your answer.
Be a warrior, but be a happy warrior. A few years ago I was in the audience watching a debate between two folks running for Congress. I sat next to a US Congressman who occasionally chimed in with commentary. At one point the Congressman said under his breath, ‘If you’re not likeable, nobody will vote for you.’
One contestant came off as a happy, competent warrior and the other like an angry man. Guess who was adjudged the winner? Not the surly, cranky pants candidate.
Ask the other candidates to come with you next time. WW was being unfair and sparky and clearly had an agenda. You were willing to fight it. Constituents see that and see a man willing to fight for them and for what’s right. The others were just going along to get along. Ask them to join you if there’s ever a next time.
In most cases, call back the reporter and ask if they have any further questions or anything you can more fully explain. Ask if they were confused about any of your answers. Use this opportunity to change an answer you believe you didn’t properly articulate.
Don’t let this be your last run for office. Do it again.
While the Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare” will clearly be one of the most important campaign issues in the 2014 elections, for many Oregon Republicans, especially conservatives and Tea Party activists, gun control will also be a defining topic for the May 2014 primary. Oregon conservatives survived a barrage of Democratic measures in the 2013 legislative session, led by the usual suspects like Ginny Burdick and Floyd Prozanski. At the federal level, Democrats’ efforts to implement a nationwide “assault weapon” ban failed to ultimately materialize, though not for lack of trying.
With five declared GOP candidates vying for the opportunity to take on incumbent Democrat U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, the candidates’ position(s) on gun control could play a major factor for activists who consider the 2nd Amendment a constitutional right not to be treaded upon. This issue could become problematic for Dr. Monica Wehby, who is being touted by some Tea Party activists as their “grass roots” candidate. But it is highly unlikely that Dr. Wehby will receive the endorsement of the National Rifle Association, since Dr. Wehby serves as a Board of Trustee director of the American Medical Association, which the NRA considers an enemy of the 2nd Amendment.
As noted in an earlier article, Dr. Wehby is an accomplished pediatric neurosurgeon who served as the president of the Oregon Medical Association in 2009. In 2011, Wehby was elected to a four-year term on the Board of Trustees of the AMA. One can presume that to be elected to the AMA board, one supports the policies of the AMA, and when it comes to gun control, the AMA is no friend of the 2nd amendment.
AMA and “Assault Weapons”
AMA policy H-145.993 Restriction of Assault Weapons:
“Our AMA supports appropriate legislation that would restrict the sale and private ownership of inexpensive handguns commonly referred to as ‘Saturday night specials,’ and large clip, high-rate-of-fire automatic and semi-automatic firearms, or any weapon that is modified or redesigned to operate as a large clip, high-rate-of-fire automatic or semi-automatic weapon.”
There are a number of Oregon firearms owners who should be justifiably alarmed at the AMA’s stated policy to support “appropriate legislation” that “would restrict the sale and private ownership of a semi-automatic firearm” that takes a “large clip” or fires at a “high-rate.” Well-educated physicians like the AMA Board, including Dr. Wehby, are presumably real smart people. But the rate of fire for a semi-automatic firearm is directly proportional to one’s ability to manipulate one’s trigger finger. As for a “large clip,” does the AMA Board consider my double-stack Glock pistol magazine a “large clip?” Or what about the dreaded 30-round magazine for my Ruger 10-22 rifle chambered in .22 LONG rifle?
AMA and Dealer Taxes, Ammunition Bans and Local Control
AMA Policy H-145.985 Ban on Handguns and Automatic Repeating Weapons contains a number of policy statements that should incense Oregon gun owners.
First are the issues of mandatory (and expensive) safety mechanisms installed at the factory and taxing gun dealers with surtaxes on both firearms and ammunition sales:
“It is the policy of the AMA to: (1) Support interventions pertaining to firearm control, especially those that occur early in the life of the weapon (e.g., at the time of manufacture or importation, as opposed to those involving possession or use). Such interventions should include but not be limited to:
(a) mandatory inclusion of safety devices on all firearms, whether manufactured or imported into the United States, including built-in locks, loading indicators, safety locks on triggers, and increases in the minimum pressure required to pull triggers;
(b) bans on the possession and use of firearms and ammunition by unsupervised youths under the age of 18;
(c) the imposition of significant licensing fees for firearms dealers;
(d) the imposition of federal and state surtaxes on manufacturers, dealers and purchasers of handguns and semiautomatic repeating weapons along with the ammunition used in such firearms, with the attending revenue earmarked as additional revenue for health and law enforcement activities that are directly related to the prevention and control of violence in U.S. society; and
(e) mandatory destruction of any weapons obtained in local buy-back programs.”
Next is the AMA’s policy supporting “legislation outlawing the Black Talon and other similarly constructed bullets.” This current AMA policy is not only wrong-headed, but hopelessly outdated. Winchester’s Black Talon hollow point bullets were discontinued in 2000. But Winchester did replace the Black Talon with its Ranger SXT line, which many of us joked was Winchester’s code for “Same eXact Thing.” Again, Oregon gun owners should be aware of and wary of the AMA’s policy of supporting legislation that bans hollow point ammunition.
Of particular concern to Oregonians is the AMA policy regarding local control of firearms. The AMA policy itself says:
“[It is the policy of the AMA to] support the right of local jurisdictions to enact firearm regulations that are stricter than those that exist in state statutes and encourage state and local medical societies to evaluate and support local efforts to enact useful controls.”
This AMA policy flies directly in the face of Oregon’s approach to local control of firearms. In 1995, the Oregon legislature took control of the issue through what is known as “preemption,” meaning the state has declared a matter of statewide concern, and any city or county attempts to regulate the matter are “preempted” by state law.
Specifically, 166.170 provides:
“(1) Except as expressly authorized by state statute, the authority to regulate in any matter whatsoever the sale, acquisition, transfer, ownership, possession, storage, transportation or use of firearms or any element relating to firearms and components thereof, including ammunition, is vested solely in the Legislative Assembly.
(2) Except as expressly authorized by state statute, no county, city or other municipal corporation or district may enact civil or criminal ordinances, including but not limited to zoning ordinances, to regulate, restrict or prohibit the sale, acquisition, transfer, ownership, possession, storage, transportation or use of firearms or any element relating to firearms and components thereof, including ammunition. Ordinances that are contrary to this subsection are void.”
Firearms Ownership as a Disease
The AMA’s approach to gun control is based on its notion that deaths and injuries caused by people using a firearm are a public health issue, not a criminal justice problem. This is best seen in AMA Policy H-145.997 Firearms as a Public Health Problem in the United States – Injuries and Death:
“Our AMA recognizes that uncontrolled ownership and use of firearms, especially handguns, is a serious threat to the public’s health inasmuch as the weapons are one of the main causes of intentional and unintentional injuries and deaths. Therefore, the AMA […] urges Congress to enact needed legislation to regulate more effectively the importation and interstate traffic of all handguns” (emphasis added).
Once again, the AMA views the problem as the gun, not the person who uses it. More specifically, the AMA sees the problem as the “uncontrolled ownership and use of firearms, especially handguns.” The AMA answer is more federal regulations affecting the importation and sale of all handguns.
Asking Patients About Their Firearms
One of the more controversial – and confusing – issues to arise out of the passage of “Obamacare” involved whether physicians may or may not ask patients about their gun ownership, and if so, who would learn of the answers to those questions. Many citizens rightfully ask, “What the hell does that question have to do with my sore throat?” But because the AMA views gun ownership as a potential health issue, the question seems perfectly reasonable to the AMA.
In 2011 the Republican-controlled state Legislature in Florida passed the Firearms Owners’ Privacy Act, a law limiting what a doctor could a ask a patient about their firearms ownership. Violation of the Florida law could result in the doctor being subjected to fines or loss of license. The law was prompted after an Ocala, Florida couple complained that a doctor asked them about guns and they refused to answer. In response to their refusal to answer the gun questions, the physician refused to see them anymore. The law was supported by the NRA.
But the law was opposed by the AMA and other medical organizations. In 2011 a federal district court blocked implementation of the law and Florida appealed. With Dr. Wehby serving on the AMA Board of Trustees, the AMA filed a friend-of-the-court brief, urging the appellate court to uphold the district court’s injunction. Interestingly, the AMA and the other amici curiae claimed the law violated doctors’ free speech rights – and the court agreed. In other words, as you sit in the exam room awaiting treatment for your sore knee, the AMA claims its member physicians have the free speech right to ask you about your firearms ownership. [emph added by editor]. If you refuse to answer, as did the original couple in Ocala, you may be dumped by your provider for simply refusing to answer a question wholly unrelated to your health.
The AMA reinforced its position on this issue at its 2013 annual conference by reaffirming AMA Policy H-145.975: “Our AMA supports: encouraging physicians to access evidence-based data regarding firearm safety to educate and counsel patients about firearm safety; [and] the rights of physicians to have free and open communication with their patients regarding firearm safety and the use of gun locks in their homes.”
Where Do the Candidates Stand?
For Republican primary voters, gun control legislation varies from relatively unimportant to the most important single-issue for the voter. With Monica Wehby emerging or at least being touted as the de facto Tea Party candidate, this issue begs closer scrutiny. Dr. Wehby already raised eyebrows with her response to the Portland Business Journal on repealing Obamacare when she gave an answer that was much more Karl Rove and Mitch McConnell than Ted Cruz or Mike Lee.
Since 2011, Wehby has served at the highest level of the American Medical Association, which has been no friend of American and Oregon gun owners. To be fair, Dr. Wehby should be given a full and fair opportunity to defend the AMA’s gun control policies from her perspective as a member of its governing Board of Trustees. Likewise, the other four declared candidates – Rep. Jason Conger, Jo Rae Perkins,Mark Callahan and Tim Crawley – deserve an opportunity to weigh in on the AMA policies as well as their own position or voting record on gun control laws.
Bruce McCain is an attorney in private practice, a Reynolds School Board member, retired Multnomah County Sheriff’s Captain, and is a member of the VictoriaTaft.com Blogforce.