you suppose there’s a good Oregon Pinot that goes well with froglegs?
Because here in “progressive Oregon” the frog should be just
about finished boiling.
no doubt heard the saying: “Put a frog in boiling water, and he’ll
try to jump out, but put a frog in cool water and turn up the heat a little
at a time, and he won’t notice the heat and try to get out until
it’s too late. What is the boiling point?
groups in Oregon have been adept at turning up the heat on issues a little
at a time, and Oregon media has (unwittingly?) played along, choosing
topics, headlines, photos, words and phrases that facilitate agenda changes
seeping in slowly…but effectively.
are these: Money and business are bad. Use of natural resources is bad.
Religion is bad.
In a state
still leading in unemployment, in a state still not clear of a debilitating
recession, in a state where job gains have not yet caught up to the years
of job losses, one might expect a more practical outlook on economics.
In a state so proud to be progressive, one might expect more tolerance,
less bigotry. But the frog is already chest deep in very hot water.
Theme One—Money and business are bad.
leading newspaper took two opportunities recently to pound home this favorite
theme. First, Portland mayoral candidate Jim Francesconi was chastised
for collecting too much money, too aggressively, from too many businessmen.
Almost anywhere else in the country political watchers would likely view
Francesconi’s 2,000+ contributors as exceptionally good politicking,
evidence of his determination to win and his ability to connect with important
is the mother’s milk of politics. Always has been; always will be.
There is nothing wrong with making political contributions. In fact, more
people should make whatever contributions they can afford and make their
complete disclosure is the best way to avoid the potential corrupting
influence of money. But efforts to take money out of politics usually
send the game underground. In the ’90s, Oregon’s campaign
finance reforms, limiting contributions to $100 per person, instead became
an effective incumbent protection plan. They were later ruled unconstitutional.
This year’s presidential campaign will offer solid evidence that
you can change the rules, but the game will remain the same. McCain-Feingold
campaign finance reforms to curb soft money campaigning are being widely
and wildly circumvented, with international financier George Soros leading
the charge on a number of liberal causes.
the same newspaper laid into the University of Oregon for spending private
dollars on athletic recruitment. But the University’s football program
makes money, bringing dollars into the college, not taking them out. Academics
may take a backseat in the media spotlight, but these expenses cause no
harm to academic programs. It’s entirely likely that U of O’s
successful athletic programs have been a tremendous asset to the school’s
reputation, helping to draw better students in both athletics and academics.
you’ve got to spend money to make money, and that’s okay.
If private dollars are being used as seed money to build a money-making
athletic program, and NCAA rules are being followed, then all’s
Theme Two—Use of natural resources is bad.
and others recently crafted a plan to designate vast areas of Mt. Hood
National Forest as a national park. There’s a thought—close
off all additional uses of this outstanding natural resource, and instead
invite gajillions of outside visitors to tramp through it
park their RVs and campers on its slopes.
in southern Oregon, timber from the state’s worst forest fire, the
Biscuit Fire, still lies on the ground, burnt and insect damaged—wasted—while
local residents struggle to find work and feed their families. First it
burned, now it rots and decays, rather than being harvested for jobs and
profit—a continuing insult to any productive, working person.
quote from southern Oregon rancher Stacy Davies, “All true wealth
begins with the natural resources of the land. All economies are built
on the wise use of resources.”
like ranches, ski resorts, golf courses, restaurants, lumber mills, and
mines may look “ugly” to some, but to others they mean jobs,
security, a way of life, a means to life in Oregon.
right, extracting resources, to use a favorite phrase of radical preservationists,
is perfectly fine, especially when done in a sustainable manner. Lots
of things are ugly—steaming heaps of cow dung, hernia surgery, bus
exhaust—and we still tolerate them to achieve important objectives.
Self-absorbed urbanites should simply avert their eyes to the realities
of natural resource use, if their over-sensitivities are offended by someone
Theme Three—Religion is bad
also a local favorite, brought to the forefront by molestation charges
against the Catholic Church and more recently by the gay marriage debate.
County’s decision to proceed with gay marriages spawned protests
and a recall effort against commissioners who turned the Oregon Constitution
on its head with their illegal, preemptive interpretation of the law.
At the least, it appeared these commissioners would face the music at
candidate, a former Baptist minister, may not get support from many in
the Portland community because he’s a member of the Christian Coalition.
Let’s see now—a fascist who flouts the law or a former minister?
Which one is scarier? Religious intolerance apparently has reached a point
here where it is outright unacceptable to be Christian. Isn’t that
why this country’s first settlers left Europe—to avoid just
that sort of religious bigotry?
that based on your religious beliefs you state out loud in polite company
that a fetus is a living baby, or that assisted suicide is murder, or
that gay unions are not marriages. These views will not be tolerated.
And by the way, don’t bring God up at all. Freedom of religion has
nearly ceased to matter in this state.
are near to a full boil in Oregon, and it may be a good time to look for
a nice Pinot to go with those froglegs. But the solution is quick and
easy—an ice cold bucket of truth, stated repeatedly, clearly, coolly:
profits are not bad—business and economic growth are good things,
natural resources are the base of economic growth. And organized religion
is a positive community force.
BrainstormNW - May 2004